Category Archives: THE CHURCH THE BODY OF CHRIST

What does “sottish” mean?

WHAT DOES “SOTTISH” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Jeremiah 4:22 employs the word: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” It is such strong language, but it is warranted. The Prophet Jeremiah conducted his ministry in Judah 600 years before Christ, during a time of great apostasy—a falling away from the truth. He preached before and during the Babylonian Captivity, God’s judgment on the Southern Kingdom for its persistent idolatry.

“And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands (Jeremiah 1:16). “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water…. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot(Jeremiah 2:13,20).

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets. Saying to a stock [wooden idol], Thou art my father; and to a stone [stone idol], Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number (Jeremiah 2:26-32).

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:1-4).

Back to verse 22 of Jeremiah chapter 4. “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” The Jews are spiritually senseless, insane, lunatic. Instead of heeding sound Bible doctrine—especially the Law of Moses—they are thinking like idolatrous heathen. Rather than being spiritual adults, they are mere children; immaturity has so crippled them, and their religious silliness shows throughout the Book of Jeremiah as well as much of the Old Testament Scriptures! It is in this context that the adjective “sottish” appears. The word simply means foolish, with the Hebrew term (“sakal”) translated “fool” or “foolish” in Ecclesiastes (2:19; 7:17; 10:3,14) and Jeremiah (5:21). It is therefore no coincidence “sottish” is from the Middle English word indicating “fool.”

Rejecting God’s wisdom for her (Deuteronomy 4:1-10), Israel did not guard herself from the foolishness of the evil world system around her. What was true of the Gentiles at the Tower of Babel ultimately became applicable to Israel as well! “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” (Romans 1:20-25).

Thankfully, in the Millennium, Israel will be given new spiritual leaders, people who will teach her sound Bible doctrine so she can think as the LORD God designed them to think. Pay close attention to verse 15 below (contrasted with Jeremiah 4:22).

Jeremiah 3:13-21: “[13] Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. [14] Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: [15] And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. [16] And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. [17] At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. [18] In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. [19] But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. [20] Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD. [21] A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.

“Sottish” can also mean “stupefied with or as if with drink; drunken.” This is another key to explaining Israel’s lack of mental acuity in the spiritual realm. Revelation chapter 17, descriptive of the Antichrist’s (future) false religious system, relays the following: “[1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: [2] With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. [3] So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. [4] And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: [5] And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

The “wine” that will make the world and Israel drunken in the future under the Antichrist is false religion, Baal worship, pagan idolatry. Here is exactly what polluted the world and Israel during Old Testament times (especially throughout Jeremiah’s ministry). The Whore of Babylon is the culmination of the pagan idolatry that began at the Tower of Babel some 4,000 years ago. Even today, we believers in Christ are told not only to avoid inebriation with physical wine, but also not be drunk with figurative wine (mind-altering false teaching).

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:15-21).

Read Jeremiah 4:22 again: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” This stands in contrast to the Holy Spirit’s will for the Body of Christ in Romans 16:19: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise [skilled] unto that which is good, and simple [uninformed, ignorant] concerning evil.Have we been faithful in following Romans here? Nay! Have we grasped even the basics of the Dispensation of Grace as found in Romans? Nay!

Throughout the 20 centuries of its existence, the professing Body of Christ has been skillful in reciting denominational creeds and prayers, knowledgeable of the writings of the church fathers, and mindful of intellectual gymnastics and conspiracy theories, but—after 2,000 years of having a completed Holy Bible—can it identify what Father God is doing today and what He would have us do today? Nay! Beloved, we are following in the footsteps of ancient “sottish” Israel! If we are to grow up in grace, we had better listen to the Lord Jesus Christ speaking through the Apostle Paul, the Bible Books of Romans through Philemon!

Also see:
» What is a “lunatick?”
» What is the “madness” of Luke 6:11?
» What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?
» How do I know if I am maturing in the Word of God?

Did the 12 Apostles ever join the Church the Body of Christ?

DID THE 12 APOSTLES EVER JOIN THE CHURCH THE BODY OF CHRIST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Brethren, the answer is a resounding NO! There was absolutely no reason for them to do so.

Unfortunately, Acts is the most misunderstood Books of the Bible. Dispensationalists—especially we Pauline dispensationalists—should be the most skillful in this regard. If anyone should be capable of shedding light on the subject, it should be we ourselves. Alas, we are often just additional contributors to the preexisting confusion. It is not God’s fault! In this our special-edition Bible Q&A article #800, we can delineate at least 10 problems that arise if we incorporate the 12 Apostles into the Body of Christ.

1. OBSCURING THE DISTINCTIONS IN SCRIPTURE

Let us begin with this. To assert the 12 Apostles joined the Body of Christ is to do nothing but blur the distinctions between it and the Little Flock. Anyone who mixes, or appears to combine, the Messianic Church (Israel’s Little Flock) with the Mystery Church (Body of Christ) should be watched with a great deal of suspicion. Whether a subtle blending (“some of the Little Flock became members of the Body of Christ”) or a full-blown grouping (“there has always been and will always be only one church in the Bible”), heresy and apostasy are nigh. Eliminating such differences is a sure way to wind up on a slippery slope, bound for the chasm of unanswerable confusion. We had better be on guard and promptly flee upon discovering the error!

2. TALLYING IS AMBIGUOUS

If we add the 12 Apostles to the Body of Christ, when do we stop taking from the Little Flock? Since the leaders of the Little Flock join the Body of Christ, why not have the entire Little Flock join the Body of Christ? What is good for the teachers is good for their disciples, right? If the most important members of the Little Flock—that is, the 12 Apostles—migrated into the Body of Christ, why did all members of the Little Flock not transfer to the Body of Christ? Or, again, maybe they all did! When is enough, enough? How do we reckon what percentage of the Little Flock moved into the Body of Christ? Will we ever answer it with certainty? It just results in more questions.

A similar argument can be made against the Apocrypha, the so-called “missing books” or “banned books” from the Bible. If the 66 Protestant Books are not enough in the canon of Scripture, how many are? Why stop at 73 or 80 like the Roman Catholics? We could add many more Books than the Roman Church if we wanted, right? Again, we are just blurring the distinctions between the Little Flock and the Body of Christ. Leave the 12 Apostles in the Little Flock, and we will avoid a lot of complications.

3. RE-JUSTIFYING THE 12 APOSTLES

The only reason someone is placed into the Church the Body of Christ is to be moved from being “in Adam” (lost, no fellowship with God, dead in trespasses and sins) to being “in Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). Requiring the 12 Apostles to move from the Little Flock to the Body of Christ implies their “re-justification”—as in, the 12 Apostles had no right standing before God until they joined the Body of Christ. To say they were not justified until the Body of Christ began is to then claim they were lost and dead in trespasses and sins throughout Matthew through John, and even into early Acts!

We know the 12 Apostles had already believed the Gospel of the Kingdom—that Jesus was Christ, Messiah, King of Israel (Matthew 16:13-19)—and were justified before God then. They had believed John the Baptist’s message (cf. John 1:35-50). In order to join the Body of Christ, they would have to “come to Christ by faith” a second time, believing Paul’s Gospel or the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This would be totally unnecessary. We have no reason to believe they lacked any right standing before God after believing the Gospel of the Kingdom, for they were members of the Little Flock and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. Someone cannot be forgiven of their sins twice, cannot move into God’s family twice, cannot be justified twice, et cetera. It makes no sense, and it causes us to question whether or not the Little Flock was ever a valid part of God’s family.

4. IGNORING THE CIRCUMCISION/UNCIRCUMCISION DIVISION

In the Church the Body of Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Romans 3:22; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 3:6). Of course, God’s purpose in forming the nation Israel was to make a Jewish body of believers. The only group of believers prior to the Body of Christ is the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant). As we noted in #3, Israel’s 12 Apostles believed the Gospel of the Kingdom during Christ’s earthly ministry.

Later, in the Book of Acts (chapter 9, specifically), the middle wall of partition—the distinction between Jew and Gentile—is broken down (see Ephesians 2:11-18). This was done in order to make Paul himself qualified to join as the first member of the Body of Christ. In Paul’s ministry, in the Church the Body of Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. All who join the Body of Christ come by faith in Paul’s Gospel, lose their Jewish or Gentile identity. God sees no racial or national distinction in the Body of Christ. Therefore, would the 12 Apostles (if they join the Body of Christ) retain or lose their Jewish standing before God? It is not only unnecessary but also impossible for them to be both saved before the middle wall of partition and then saved again after its abolishment. Again, the suggestion is rubbish. The 12 Apostles were not incorporated into the Body of Christ!

5. REPLACING ISRAEL WITH THE BODY OF CHRIST

If the 12 Apostles joined the Body of Christ, that would necessarily mean they could not remain in the nation Israel. What exactly happened to Israel then? Did it just disappear into thin air? If they were once part of Israel, but now part of the Body of Christ, we are left to wonder if the Body of Christ absorbed the Little Flock simply because the Body of Christ replaced Israel. Let us take it a step further. If the 12 Apostles were heirs of Israel’s covenants, and they joined the Body of Christ, would that not then make the Body of Christ—or, at least a portion of it—recipient of Israel’s covenants? Once we make the 12 Apostles members of the Body of Christ, it will not take too much to then convince us the whole Body of Christ replaced Israel. We wind up on more unstable theological ground.

Additionally, since Matthew 19:27-29 has the 12 Apostles inheriting material possessions and goods, will they receive these or not? “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

Nothing in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, ever suggests the Church the Body of Christ is promised material possessions or earthly blessings. Therefore, how can the 12 Apostles be recipients of earthly blessings in the Body of Christ? That would conflict with Pauline doctrine, for the Body of Christ does not inherit earthly blessings. If the 12 Apostles do not inherit earthly blessing, then God broke His promise to them. Even in the future (Millennium), there is an incongruity. The 12 Apostles cannot be both heirs of something on Earth and not be heirs of something on Earth. It is either one or the other.

6. COMBINING GOVERNMENTAL ROLES

As we noted in #5, Scripture is clear that, in the ages to come (Millennial Kingdom), the 12 Apostles will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. Look again at Matthew 19:27-28: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Now, if the 12 Apostles are part of the Body of Christ, then that means a portion of the Body of Christ rules over Israel. But, are not Israel and the Body of Christ two equal entities, the former exalted in the Earth and the latter exalted in the Heavenly Places? Ephesians 1:8-10: “[8] Wherein he [Father God] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….”

Also, Colossians 1:16-20: “[16] For by him [God the Son, Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Making the 12 Apostles join the Body of Christ confuses the matter. Israel really does not have supremacy in the Earth then, for the Body of Christ would be the governmental authority in Heaven and Earth. Now, we have Heaven and Earth scrambled, with part of the Body of Christ (the 12 Apostles) in Heaven… but, if the Apostles moved into the Body of Christ, they have lost their position on Earth? Who then reigns over Israel on the Earth, if not the 12 Apostles? Will Israel be governed from Heaven? We have part of the heavenly government reigning over the earthly realm… or part of the earthly government reigning over the heavenly realm? Which is it?! Do you see the unfathomable complexity and perplexity?

7. INSERTING THE APOSTLES WHERE THEY DO NOT BELONG

Nothing in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, indicates the 12 Apostles ever became part of the Body of Christ. None of the Books of Hebrews through Revelation—writings of Apostles James, Peter, Jude, and John—ever suggest they joined the Body of Christ. Here is the evidence.

The Apostle Peter appears by that name in Paul’s epistles five times, and “Cephas” five times. He is confined to Galatians and 1 Corinthians. See for yourself:

(PETER)

  • Galatians 1:18: “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”
  • Galatians 2:7: “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;….”
  • Galatians 2:8: “(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: )….”
  • Galatians 2:11: “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.”
  • Galatians 2:14: “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

(CEPHAS)

  • 1 Corinthians 1:12: “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.”
  • 1 Corinthians 3:22: “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;….”
  • 1 Corinthians 9:5: “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:5: “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:….”
  • Galatians 2:9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

(JOHN AND JAMES)

As for the Apostle John, he is found only once in Paul’s epistles. That is in Galatians 2:9, where the Apostle James also appears. See our last verse quoted. The Apostle James is found two other times in Paul’s writings. Like Cephas/Peter, he too is restricted to 1 Corinthians and Galatians.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:7: “After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.”
  • Galatians 2:12: “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”

Now, let us examine it from another angle. Instead of looking for James, Peter, and John in Paul’s epistles; let us see if we can find Paul in their writings. As it turns out, Paul appears only once in the Circumcision or Jewish Epistles. Read 2 Peter 3:15-16: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Second Peter was Peter’s final epistle. In it, the Holy Spirit directs Peter’s readers to consider the Divine revelation given to Paul. Peter confessed he himself did not have that insight, for the revelation of the mystery was not his ministry (it was Paul’s—cf. Colossians 1:23-29). How could Peter be a member of the Body of Christ and yet be so unable to adequately communicate truths associated with it? Evidently, Peter assumed the Body of Christ was something totally unrelated to his ministry or what God was doing in and through him. Remember, this is Peter at the end of his life. He would gain no further revelation, which is why he urges his audience to consult Paul’s epistles for more information.

We will yet take it a step further. If we search the Scriptures for the term “body of Christ,” or “the church which is his body,” we will discover one plain and simple fact. It is exclusive to Paul’s ministry and writings. Look at the references yourself, brethren. Read Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4,12,16; Ephesians 5:23,30; Colossians 1:18,24; Colossians 2:19; and Colossians 3:15.

Contrariwise, there is absolutely nothing about the Church the Body of Christ in the Books of Hebrews through Revelation. If you doubt this, take a concordance and look up the term “body” in Hebrews through Revelation. You will find not so much as one verse about the Church the Body of Christ. Peter, James, and John do not write about it. Would they have not done so, had they been part of it? Now, search for the word “church” in Hebrews through Revelation. It always appears in conjunction with the Messianic Church (Israel’s believing remnant), for the word “body” is never attached to it. “Church” in the Hebrew Epistles is strictly Israel’s Little Flock, the group of Jewish believers God calls out of the apostate nation to form His kingdom of priests. Again, take a concordance and see for yourself. Do not take anyone’s word for it—including mine!

8. IGNORING THE ACTS 15 & GALATIANS 2 BIBLE CONFERENCE

Had the 12 Apostles joined the Church the Body of Christ, the Bible conference of Galatians chapter 2 and Acts chapter 15 would not have ended in the fashion it did. Paul and Barnabas would not have parted from James, Peter, and John. We remind ourselves of Galatians 2:9 once more: “And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

They would have all been part of one Body of Christ, preaching the same Gospel of the Grace of God. Yet, we can see their mutual promise to remain separate and distinct groups. Paul and Barnabas would preach and minister to the heathen (all lost people, whether Jew or Gentile); whereas James, Peter, and John would preach and minister to the circumcision (Israel’s Little Flock). Obviously, the Church the Body of Christ and Israel’s believing remnant remained apart. The leadership of the Little Flock (James, Peter, and John) would in no way join Paul and Barnabas because the leadership of the Little Flock knew the division was there. It was a joint agreement, and the rest of the Book of Acts bears that out. Paul visits synagogues (lost Jews), pagan Gentiles, and so on. There is no record in latter Acts or Paul’s epistles that James, Peter, or John ever taught Paul’s converts or evangelized synagogue worshippers. From Acts 15 / Galatians 2 onward, the lost were given over to Paul’s ministry.

9. OVERLOOKING THE LAW/GRACE DIVISION

The 12 Apostles were told to preach the Law in Matthew 5:17-18: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Yet, the Church the Body of Christ is under Grace and not Law. Romans chapter 6, verses 14 and 15: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

So, are the 12 Apostles under the Law, or under Grace? If they are under the Law, they cannot be part of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is under Grace. However, if the 12 Apostles are under Grace, then they are least in God’s earthly kingdom. Continue reading in Matthew chapter 5, verses 17-20: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” How could we make the leaders of God’s earthly kingdom least in that kingdom at the same time?

As an extra sidenote, many years (a decade?) after the Acts 15 / Galatians 2 Bible conference, we read chapter 21 of Acts: “[18] And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. [19] And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. [20] And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: [21] And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”

We will notice the Apostle James—the same one of Acts chapter 15 and Galatians chapter 2—is still associated with Jews “which believe… [who] are all zealous of the law” (verse 20). If James is under Grace and not Law, what is he doing here? Should he not be discouraging these Jews, members of the Little Flock, from being under the Law? Maybe he is following his promise in Acts and Galatians? Perhaps he is restricting his doctrine to match the group of people to whom he is ministering? Of course he is!

10. CAUSING CONFUSION ABOUT APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY

With the 12 Apostles being incorporated into the Body of Christ, what happens to their apostolic authority? Do they retain it, or lose it? If they retain it, why? They can in no way function in the Body of Christ as apostles, for the only apostles in the Body of Christ were given their offices after Christ’s ascension (Ephesians 4:8-11)! If they lose it, then that means Israel herself is without 12 Apostles now. Consequently, once the Body of Christ began in the Book of Acts (chapter 9 with Saul’s salvation), Israel’s believing remnant had no Apostles leading it. All Apostles would be in the Body of Christ now. Preposterous!

CONCLUSION

The idea that “the 12 Apostles joined the Body of Christ” breaks down into nothing but hopeless confusion. It is simply denominationally-minded Christians, or even lost people, not making the distinctions in Scripture that they should. Since they have not fully broken from religious tradition, their thinking is clouded. It is natural-man wisdom, an attempt to harmonize differences in the Bible, and it does nothing more than complicate Scripture. Such people need to grow in God’s Word rightly divided before they attempt to teach it. Dear brethren, if you make the 12 Apostles part of the Church the Body of Christ, the best of luck to you in reducing that chaos to order! (You will need it.)

Also see:
» Can you explain Peter and the 11’s ministry from Acts chapters 7 through 15?
» Can you explain Paul’s ministry during Acts?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?
» What is Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology?
» When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?
» Is Hebrews 13:3 a reference to the Body of Christ?
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts 2?

Are the Christian life and ministry about bossing people around?

ARE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AND MINISTRY ABOUT BOSSING PEOPLE AROUND?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No, absolutely not, absolutely not, absolutely not, absolutely not!

Firstly, let us read Matthew chapter 20: “[20] Then came to him 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.

“[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.”

Next, Mark chapter 10 records the account like this: “[42] But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. [43] But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: [44] And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. [45] For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Finally, turn to Luke chapter 22: “[24] And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. [25] And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. [26] But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. [27] For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”

According to Jesus Christ Himself, the Gentiles—the non-Jews, those under Satan’s control, members of the evil world system—operate their governmental systems with a bully mentality. While there are precious few exceptions, the vast majority of politicians covet one thing even today: power. They want nothing more than to rule over others and boss them around. Turn back to Luke 22:25-26, Jesus’ words to His disagreeing disciples: “[25] And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. [26] But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” Notice “exercise lordship over.” The Greek is “kurieoo,” derived from the Greek word translated “Lord” (“kurios”).

“Kurieoo” appears again in Scripture, in Romans 6:9 and 14 as “hath dominion over:” “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him…. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Then, Romans 7:1: “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” Next, Romans 14:9: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Also, 2 Corinthians 1:24: “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy; for by faith ye stand.”  Finally, 1 Timothy 6:15: “Which in his own times he shall shew who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of king, and Lord of lords;….”

A related Greek word is “katakurieoo.” It was rendered “exercise dominion over” in Matthew 20:25: “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.” Mark 10:42 translates it “exercise lordship over:” “But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.” In Acts 19:16, it was rendered “overcame:” “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” The final occurrence is 1 Peter 5:3, “lords over:” “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”

We want to focus especially on the last verse just presented. Read it in context, the Apostle Peter writing concerning the circumcision believers: “[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 examples to the flock. [4] And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Leadership within the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, is direction not oppression. The many verses we have just read bring us to this conclusion: the Holy Spirit never leads anyone to bully others, have control over them.

Now, come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, and re-read 2 Corinthians 1:24 in context: “[23] Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. [24] Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” Again, here is what makes religion different from Bible-believing Christianity. In light of the aforementioned surveys, we better understand Paul’s usage of the term. The Apostle never forced himself on anyone (in that case, the unruly Corinthians). He “helped” or “served” them instead. God’s grace motivates us to do right, friends, but it does not command us or force us as governmental leaders use laws. Christianity is not about religious leaders dictating to or bullying us. (That is religion!) We make conscious choices by faith in Bible verses we read, and we therefore “stand.” Never, ever let any preacher, theologian, denomination, or church sit on a throne in your Christian life! And, never, ever sit on a throne in any Christian’s life!

Dear brethren, we must be careful not to use our ministry as an occasion to the flesh. Sin deceives. It makes us adopt a false sense of reality. That deception arises in many forms. Here, we can think we are doing “God’s work” but in actuality our sin nature is parading, flaunting, “doing its own thing.” We do not care what direction our ministry or local church (truth or error, right or wrong, good or bad) goes, so long as we are doing the driving! How concerning it is that this attitude dominates most local congregations, as well as many of the so-called “Christian institutions of higher learning.” Identify this foothold of Satan in your life and ministry, Christian friend, and force him out before you are spiritually ruined!

Also see:
» What if I was never thanked?

» Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» How does one know if he or she is maturing in the Word of God?

What did Paul mean, he “robbed other churches?”

WHAT DID PAUL MEAN, HE “ROBBED OTHER CHURCHES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Second Corinthians 11:8 says, “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” Did the Apostle Paul really go around stealing money from Christians?! What does the Spirit of God mean here?

Remember, we always want to read the context before honing in on a single verse and stumbling over it. The tenor is established in a previous verse. In context, we read: “[7] Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? [8] I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. [9] And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. [10] As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.”

To understand 2 Corinthians, you need to go back to 1 Corinthians. It is a lengthy passage, but it is necessary to read it. First Corinthians chapter 9: “[7] Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? [8] Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? [9] For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? [10] Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. [11] If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? [12] If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. [13] Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? [14] Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. [15] But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. [16] For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! [17] For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. [18] What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.”

As a spiritual leader, Paul could have taken a salary from the Corinthians. After all, the nation Israel supported their Levitical priests’ physical needs because those priests met the nation’s spiritual needs. The ox that treaded the corn had a right to eat that grain. The soldier had the right of his government taking care of his physical needs.  “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (verse 14).

  • Matthew 10:10: “Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.”
  • Luke 10:7: “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.”
  • Galatians 6:6: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”
  • 1 Timothy chapter 5: “[17] Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. [18] For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”

However, concerning the Corinthians, Paul limited his right to material compensation. Second Corinthians 11:7: “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?” The key word is the last one, “freely”—meaning “without charge.” Why did not Paul make the Corinthians support his needs? One reason was that they were too immature to handle giving to him, so he went without. However, that was unfair. Paul would take material offerings from other assemblies, and that funding allowed him to travel to and minister in Corinth. Yet, there was no funding from the Corinthians for him to visit the other Christian assemblies. The Corinthians were benefiting from the arrangement but they were not supporting it financially. That is what 2 Corinthians 11:8 means. “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.”

Watch verse 9 now: “And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.” Rather than being a financial burden to the Corinthians while he was in their midst, Paul relied on what the saints from Macedonia had brought him. Macedonia was the region in which Thessalonica and Philippi were located.

By the way, Paul also supported himself by working as a tentmaker. Acts 18:1-3: “[1] After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; [2] And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: ) and came unto them. [3] And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”

See also 2 Thessalonians chapter 3: “[7] For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; [8] Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: [9] Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. [10] For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. [11] For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. [12] Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. [13] But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. [14] And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. [15] Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

Also see:
» Who are “the poor” in Galatians 2:10?
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Must I tithe 10 percent of my income?

Who are the “Scythians” and the “Barbarians?”

WHO ARE THE “SCYTHIANS” AND THE “BARBARIANS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The “Scythians” appear just once in the Bible, whereas the “Barbarians” are found six times. See for yourself:

  • Acts 28:2: “And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.”
  • Acts 28:4: “And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.”
  • Romans 1:14: “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:11: “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.”
  • Colossians 3:11: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

We will deal with the Barbarians (Greek, “Barbarois”) first. Romans 1:14 uses the term as opposite of the word “Greeks,” just as “wise” (educated) and “unwise” (uneducated) are antonymous. When penning the Book of Acts, Dr. Luke called the non-Greeks of Melita “barbarous people” and “barbarians” (Acts 28:2,4)—those of Melita were either Phoenician or Punic in origin. The Greeks (Greek, “Hellesin”) referred to non-Greeks as “Barbarians.” Lacking Greek speech and culture, Barbarians were viewed as uncivilized. To the Greek person, a foreigner’s language sounded like “bar-bar,” repetitious syllables or nonsense (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:11). Here is where the title “Barbarian” came from!

The term “Scythian” (Greek, “Skuthes”) appears in conjunction with the Barbarians (cf. Colossians 3:11). Scythians inhabited Scythia, today’s southern Russia, north of the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas. While the Barbarians were considered wild, the Scythians were a special category of Barbarian—the worst of the worst! One commentator wrote of them: “the most hated and feared of all the so-called barbarians.” Another adds, “Scythians were known especially for their brutality and were considered by others as little better than wild beasts.”

Upon first glance, none of this seems like much to us. They are cultural terms applicable to ancient people, so how could understanding these appellations ever possibly enhance our Bible comprehension? Watch and see! Going all the way back to the Acts period, the Apostle Paul had an unrestricted ministry to Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), non-Jews being Greeks and non-Greeks alike (cf. Romans 1:14,16; cf. Acts 26:16-18). His Gospel message—the Gospel of God’s Grace—is that Christ “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time [Paul’s ministry; verse 7]” (1 Timothy 2:6). “All men” is the audience of Paul’s Gospel.

We would do well to re-read Colossians 3:11: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” That is to say, in the Church the Body of Christ, God sees all Christians as equally blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), all equally justified, equally redeemed, equally sanctified, equally forgiven, et cetera. Regardless of their religious background (Jew/Gentile, circumcision/uncircumcision), national background (Greek/Barbarian), economic/social background (bond/free—slave or freeman), or even gender (male/female—Galatians 3:28), they are all united forever because of their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.

It is absolutely amazing that Almighty God in His wisdom could take people from all backgrounds, let them believe on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, and bind them into one Body. People who would have never met otherwise, who would have never known each other any other way, and He uses them to form the Church the Body of Christ. As one people, they (and we) are heirs of God’s heavenly kingdom!

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

Also see:
» Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?
» Who are the “Grecians” in the Bible?
» When Paul says “there is no difference,” is he referring to people outside the Body of Christ, or in it?

Are Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of the same Spirit baptism?

ARE MATTHEW 3:11 AND 1 CORINTHIANS 12:13 SPEAKING OF THE SAME SPIRIT BAPTISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. No. No. No! Regardless of what any “scholar” may tell you, they are not the same concept!

The Scriptures say in 1 Corinthians chapter 12: “[12] For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. [13] For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Verse 13 reads as follows in the Greek Textus Receptus (the source of the King James New Testament): “Kai_gar [For] en* [by] eni [one] pneumati [Spirit] emeis [we] pantes [all] eis [into] en [one] soma [body] ebaptisthemen [are baptized], eite [whether] Ioudaioi [Jews] eite [or] Ellenes [Gentiles], eite [whether] douloi [bond] eite [or] eleutheroi [free] – kai [and] pantes [all] eis [into] en [one] pneuma [Spirit] epotisthemen [have been made to drink].”

Some theologians raise the issue that the Greek preposition “en” (“by”) at the beginning of the verse (noted by the asterisk* above) can also be rendered “with” or “in.” Whereas the King James says, “For by one Spirit…,” the alternate readings would thus be “For with one Spirit” and “For in one Spirit.” The “with” variant is particularly appealing to denominationalists because they cross-reference it to the “with” (see the asterisk* below) portion of John the Baptist’s warning in Matthew 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with* [en] the Holy Ghost, and with fire:….”

It is absolutely erroneous to make Jesus Christ baptizing people with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11) the same as the Holy Spirit baptizing people into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Since the disparate prepositions in the English Bible cannot be used to support the idea that they are the same, theologians will then “run to the Greek” to retranslate what they assume the Bible writers meant in the original language. “By” in 1 Corinthians 12:13, they say, is wrong because it must agree with the “with” of Matthew 3:11.

One theologian has gone so far as to state that the Bible never once refers to the Holy Spirit as the Person doing the baptizing. In fact, he claimed that Matthew 3:11 says Jesus always baptizes. However, if 1 Corinthians 12:13 is left alone as it appears in the King James Bible, then the theologian is wrong, and the Holy Spirit is indeed the baptizer there!! Now we see why people are always trying to make (so-called) “helpful changes” to the Authorized Version. They are adjusting the Bible to fit their theology! Their system is the authority and the Scripture is quoted only when it supports the “pet” denominational tenet. They “correct” the Bible to agree with their preferred position. Any Bible contradictions can be written off as “mistakes” or “mistranslations.” What a shame!

Here, friends, is the tomfoolery—hiding under the guise of “scholarship” and “education”—that has led to such Bible perversions and corruptions for centuries upon centuries. These are the poor attitudes of most individuals leading our seminaries and teaching in our Bible colleges. You can find their students/graduates in myriads of pulpits and literature everywhere. They are the very people who sit on translation committees to publish the latest Bible version (and then their confusion is passed on the poor, unsuspecting readers). Even if they mean well—and hopefully they do mean well—they nevertheless are not using Divine insight when handling God’s Word. Such shoddy Bible interpretation belongs with lost people but not among Christian people!

If we ignore the dispensational distinctions in Scripture, then we cannot make sense of or fully appreciate the Bible. Its truths mean little to nothing to us if we go around “correcting” it. Whatever light it can give us is now obscured because we have thrown shadows and enigmas on it. The Spirit baptism in Matthew 3:11 and the Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13 have nothing to do with each other. To combine them is to confuse the Church the Body of Christ with the Messianic Church found in Acts chapter 2. Our baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ is forced to be the same as Israel’s baptism with the Holy Spirit in early Acts. The dispensations are mixed. Prophecy and mystery have been combined. Nothing but unanswerable confusion will result when we start attacking the Bible with “re-translations!”

Brethren, we should always be suspicious of the Bible commentator who plays the role of Bible translator. The preacher or teacher is to use the Bible as is. He can and should explain the text, but he oversteps his bounds when he adds to the Bible, subtracts from the Bible, or retranslates the Bible. The English King James Bible is correctwhether he believes it or not, whether he agrees with it or not, whether we believe it or not, whether we agree with it or not. We are known as “people of the Book” but is that title appropriate if we vilify and correct the very book we proclaim to be “the infallible, inerrant Word of God?” It does not make sense. (Of course, religious tradition never does!!)

Rather than approaching the Bible dispensationally and thus appreciating its layout, people have been trained to panic and “smooth over” any disparities in the Bible text. They are under the impression that there is only one audience in the Scripture. There can be no nation Israel and the Body of Christ. There can be no prophetic program and mystery program. There can be no Peter and Paul. There is only one group of believers of all ages. There is only one program in Scripture. Paul is an extension of Peter. God never changes His dealings with man. All the promises in the Bible belong to us. Here are the fundamental blunders, the outright lies, which have led to more Bible corruption, more denominations, and more confusion. We had better approach the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), or we will not have a prayer in the world in comprehending it.

In closing, let us repeat ourselves. The idea that Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 have the same Spirit baptism is all predicated on the erroneous notion that there is only one “church” in the Book of Acts. The Messianic Church and the Church the Body of Christ are not to be confused. Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 have absolutely nothing to do with each other. They were not the same baptism, they are still not the same baptism, and they will never be the same baptism. It does not matter what any theologian says. Whether we agree with it or not, the King James Bible is still correct (“BY one Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:13). It was here long before we were born and it will be here long after we are gone. What we had better do is believe it as it is, and stop “correcting” (corrupting) it using our limited understanding.

Also see:
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts chapter 2?
» Should “church” be changed to “called-out assembly” in Acts 7:38 in the King James Bible?
» Do we live in the “Church Age?”

What advice can be given to Christians coping with the death of another saint?

WHAT ADVICE CAN BE GIVEN TO CHRISTIANS COPING WITH THE DEATH OF ANOTHER SAINT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). It is not a sin to mourn the loss of a loved one—even a Christian bewailing a Christian. This is quite natural and not to be discouraged. Expressing such feelings is vital to good mental, physical, and emotional health. Emotions are God-given and not sinful in and of themselves. (Sin creeps in when we use our emotions to make decisions. Emotions are fickle, they change through time, and “feelings” should instead be replaced with logic as touching choices.) If Jesus Christ shed tears as He stood before the tomb of His deceased friend Lazarus, so we can cry concerning the death of loved ones.

Take great comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ was just as human as we are—except without a sin nature. He knows firsthand the sting of death striking the soul as a friend succumbs to physical death. In other words, not only can He be sympathetic toward us, He can be empathetic. He experienced that loss Himself many times while He lived His earthly life. Furthermore, since He designed our emotions, He can relate to us in that regard as well. We are not alone in our grief, displeasure, and pain. He does care, He is concerned, and, above (!) all (!) else (!), He has given us Bible verses of comfort! (We will say more about this a little later.)

Here are some suggestions to bear the loss of a Christian.

Remember the good times had with that dear saint. Gather with mutual friends and family members. Perhaps have a fellowship meal at someone’s house, or assemble at a funeral home, church building, or other convenient place. Mention their quotes, share their testimony, and relate their memorable life stories. Share with others how that departed soul impacted your own life. Above all, celebrate their graduation to glory, their relocation to Heaven! That Christian is no longer suffering any pain. He or she is free from these limited, debilitating, dying bodies of flesh and blood. There is peace and rest. Be sure to give a clear Gospel message for any unsaved people present. First Corinthians 15:3-4, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:23-28, and Romans 4:1-5 are highly recommended as verses to be read aloud. Suffering verses can also be shared—Romans 8:18-25, Romans 5:1-5, and 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8, to name a few.

The saints in Heaven are singing and praising the Lord Jesus Christ. They are enjoying His presence! All the deceased believers of the ages thus far are in one gigantic congregation in Heaven, and they do indeed recognize each other. Peter knew Moses and Elijah by face, and yet they had died centuries before Peter was even born (Matthew 17:4)! Paul anticipated knowing the Thessalonians and the Corinthians when they would be in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 1:14). They know where they are, just as Paul realized he was in the third heaven and knew that it was “far better” up there than down here (2 Corinthians 12:1-4; Philippians 1:23).

We will see these dearly-departed saints again! Never forget, most importantly, dear reader, we will be reunited with them in the Lord’s own time! This is the hope of the resurrection, commonly called “the Rapture” (“catching up”). Our separation is temporary.

First Thessalonians chapter 4: “[13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.(First Corinthians 15:50-58 can also be considered here.)

There is no doubt about it, friends. We sorrow, but we have confidence—full assurance—that a magnificent get-together will occur at the resurrection. We are not hopeless. We are not uncertain. We are not ignorant. The verses are clear, simple, and sure. Hold fast to them, repeat them, and let them renew your mind. The indwelling Holy Spirit will use these verses to strengthen your inner man (Ephesians 3:16). Using these passages in prayer will allow God the opportunity to give you His peace, and guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. “Be careful for [worry about] nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Without question, that Christian would want you all to move on in the ministry in their absence. They would want you to keep fighting the good fight of faith. If anything, may you not take your earthly lives for granted now. Strive together with each other—those of you in the Christian congregation remaining on Earth—to continue as that dear soul would do. Weep, cry indeed, but do not sit around and mope like a lost person. Do not stay cooped up in your house, always sobbing and wailing. We must get the Gospel of Grace out to the masses. We must keep teaching the Scriptures rightly divided to those who want to hear and believe.

Any and all spiritual confusion has been corrected in Heaven, as there are no more denominations and other opinions of men. There are “no hard feelings.” The next time you see that saint, all will be forgiven. No petty argument, envy, or contention will be there to divide or interfere with fellowship. Sin will be gone forever. The next time we see them, they will look, sound, see, and hear the best they ever have! No eyeglasses, canes, baldness, liver spots, hearing aids, crutches, arthritis, tremors, AIDS, tuberculosis, dentures, oxygen masks, missing limbs, wheezing, allergies, blindness, deafness, stooping, prostheses, walkers, limping, deformities, paralyses, wheelchairs, slurred speech, mental illness, scarring, amnesia, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, sinus issues, emphysema, diabetes, or any other disease, disability, or deficiency. Obesity and leanness will no longer be problems. No more vitamins, supplements, blood work, checkups, surgeries, hospital stays, kidney dialyses, physical therapy. It is a magnificent prospect, and we will see it at some point ourselves, but until then we have unfinished business down here to which we must attend.

Until we meet the departed saints again, brethren, we have much work left to do—including ministering to their families in whatever ways we can (visiting, phone calls, preparing meals, and so on). These saints would want us to go on preaching the Gospel, speaking of Jesus Christ to all we meet, sharing with others the Word of His Grace, that they may believe on the Lord and be with us in Heaven as well.

In closing, here are two final passages worth considering and worth reading aloud at the close of any Christian funeral, wake, or similar gathering.

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

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

Also see:
» How can we cope with the death of a pet?
» Will we know if a loved one is not there in heaven with us?
» Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died?

Must I have a degree in music to sing or play an instrument at a local church?

MUST I HAVE A DEGREE IN MUSIC TO SING OR PLAY AN INSTRUMENT AT A LOCAL CHURCH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Sadly, some have indeed been turned away from music in a local assembly or singing in its choir because they lacked formal training (a college degree, professional tutoring). This is an example of using human viewpoint to gauge church matters. (It is no different from the self-absorbed declaration, “You cannot preach at our church unless you have graduated from our denomination’s seminary or Bible College!”)

It is quite advantageous to have some familiarity with music if you so choose to become involved with a local church’s music ministry. Someone may say, “I can play the piano, but not that well.” Another may declare, “I sing solo—‘so low’ so others cannot hear.” In fact, this author will be quite bold in writing the following. As with some people who should not be teaching and yet are, there are some people who should not be singing and yet are. (It does not matter how many advanced degrees they have!!) If there is no underlying sound Bible doctrine, they would do themselves and others much good by staying quiet until they learn the truth instead of singing erroneous material. (Please see our “appropriate hymns” study linked at the end of this article.)

Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18-19: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord….” As long as our heart attitude is right (faith in God’s Word rightly divided, not showing off or seeking worship ourselves), and we are singing or playing music in accordance with grace doctrine, this is really all that our Heavenly Father requires concerning a music ministry. God surely does not mind “amateurs.” As long as we are playing or singing from the heart, that is all that matters. God the Holy Spirit can sense our motives; let Him be the Judge, for He will surely do right!

The author is reminded of a time, many years ago, when one of his former pastors claimed a particular man in the assembly “was not a good singer.” However, the pastor would never insult the man to his face; rather, he would let the man sing at music time but spoke about it behind his back to other church members. The pastor prided himself as a professional, accomplished singer. Recently, this author learned that the pastor is now suffering from dementia. Failing memory caused him to retire from preaching and then from singing. He cannot remember how to sing or preach! As for the brother “who could not sing,” he is a friend of the author. The man is a Christian, and he undoubtedly loves the Lord and His Word. While not formally trained in music, he ultimately sang for the Lord’s pleasure. It made no difference if some condescending, fleshly preacher approved. Keep that in mind, friend!

As for those who seek man’s approval concerning any ministry in the church, we close with two verses. Firstly, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God(Luke 16:15). Secondly, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ(Galatians 1:10).

Also see:
» What if I was never thanked?
» Which hymns are appropriate for us grace believers to sing?
» What is wrong with “praise and worship?”

Was Priscilla “lead teacher in her family?”

WAS PRISCILLA “LEAD TEACHER IN HER FAMILY?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Advocates of women preachers and Christian women teaching men point to assorted verses for Scriptural support. The case of Priscilla, a Christian lady of the New Testament Scriptures, forms the foundation for one of their arguments. Allegedly, she is “lead teacher in her family.” Is that so? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Priscilla appears on six occasions in a King James Bible (2 Timothy 4:19 shortens her name to “Prisca”). She is continually paired with her husband, Aquila. This Jewish couple was saved under the Apostle Paul’s ministry and served as his spiritual coworkers. Read the only passages that feature Priscilla:

  • Acts 18:2: “And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: ) and came unto them.”
  • Acts 18:18: “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.”
  • Acts 18:26: “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”
  • Romans 16:3: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19:“The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:19: “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

Supposedly, since Priscilla’s name “always” precedes Aquila’s name, she was the dominant one in the relationship (and thus, the Bible teacher of her family). That is simply not true, as a careful reading of the Bible text shows us. When first introduced to us, Aquila comes before Priscilla (Acts 18:2). In journeys, she appears first (Acts 18:18). When being greeted, she is first (Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19); when greeting others, she is second, after Aquila (1 Corinthians 16:19). In the case of teaching, Aquila comes first, then Priscilla (Acts 18:26). Priscilla never dominates her husband with respect to teaching ministry or family. Aquila leads in teaching, just as God the Holy Spirit tells us in 1 Timothy chapter 2, Ephesians chapter 5, and 1 Corinthians chapter 11.

  • First Timothy chapter 2: “[11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
  • Ephesians chapter 5:“[22] Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. [24] Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
  • First Corinthians 11:3: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

Thus, a woman who takes the lead in a local assembly or marriage/family does so due t one of two reasons: (1) no man has the courage to guide the church or marriage/family so she dominates, or (2) a man is leading but her flesh compels her to compete against him. Even though neither situation is ideal, it is better to have the first than the latter. Someone has to lead, so if the man fails, then the woman will have to step in. When no man was willing to be used of God as a prophet (speaker), then He resorted to employing women/prophetesses (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Isaiah 8:3; Luke 2:36). If neither man nor woman were available, the LORD God spoke through a donkey (Numbers 22:28-30)!

We can learn a great deal by looking to our first parents, Adam and Eve. Eve did not submit to her husband’s spiritual headship, and he was unwilling to be her spiritual leader. Overall, they both failed to function in their God-given capacities. Hence, the human race fell into sin! If the local church does not learn this lesson, if the family does not learn this lesson, if the marriage does not learn this lesson, you can be sure trouble and destruction will abound (1 Timothy 2:11-15—quoted earlier)!

Genesis chapter 3: “[1] Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? [2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. [4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: [5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. [6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Adam did not remind his wife of what the LORD God told him (Genesis 2:16-17), and Eve did not ask Adam what God told him to tell her. Eve listened to Satan’s evil doctrine, and Adam stood there—and did nothing to stop her. In fact, Adam went right along with his wife—she led him, and he let her usurp his role! Absolutely, Priscilla knew better than to repeat the gross error of our mother Eve… and Aquila knew better than to repeat the gross error of our father Adam!

Also see:
» Should women serve in the ministry?
» Should women speak in church? May they ask questions?
» Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?

“So shall we ever be with the Lord?”

“SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

A recurrent idea among Christians is that the Church the Body of Christ will return with the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. Various and sundry verses are offered as support. However, a careful examination of the Holy Scriptures demonstrates this to be a total misunderstanding of both the purpose of the Body and the objective of the Second Coming. (For more info, please see our related studies linked at the end of this article.)

Years ago, when this author began coming to the knowledge of the truth, better understanding the Word of God rightly divided, he struggled to make sense of the above matter. Were we returning with Christ at His Second Coming, as he had been led to believe for so many years? First Thessalonians 4:17 nagged him: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” What should we make of the phrase, “so shall we ever be with the Lord?” Will we be physically “with” the Lord Jesus when He steps onto the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming? Will we be reigning “with” Him on Earth in Israel’s Davidic kingdom? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Like most individuals, this author assumed the “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” clause meant that we must be in close proximity to Christ at all times once we are raptured. After He takes us into Heaven in that split second of time (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), we will never again leave His side. Wherever He is, we will always be beside Him. Is that what “with the Lord” means in 1 Thessalonians 4:17? No, as this explanation is contrary to many verses in Paul’s writings (we will get to those shortly). First, we need to review the basics.

Creation consists of “heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1). Offices govern both realms—thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, mights, and every name that is named (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16). Satan has usurped and corrupted these offices but Father God will bring them all under His authority again through His Son Jesus Christ. In “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” our Heavenly Father shall gather all governments under one Head, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10). He has thus formed the nation Israel to be His earthly people, and the Church the Body of Christ to be His heavenly people. It is one overall kingdom, functioning in two realms, for one eternal purpose! The Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified forever—regardless of the angels and the humans who refuse to participate and accomplish it.

We the Church the Body of Christ have a heavenly destiny not an earthly destiny. Our realm of blessings and influence is the heavenly places. Observe the following:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
  • Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:….”
  • Ephesians 1:20,22-23: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,…. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
  • Ephesians 2:6: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:….”
  • Ephesians 3:10: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,….”
  • Philippians 3:20: “For our conversation [lifestyle reflecting citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:….”
  • Colossians 1:5: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;…..”
  • Colossians 1:16,20: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:…. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:18: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Consider all the above verses. We are installed to serve in the heavenly places prior to the Second Coming (in perfect accordance with Revelation 12:7-12—Satan and his angels evicted from the second heaven to make room for us there). Therefore, it certainly would not be appropriate for us to use one verse (1 Thessalonians 4:17) to teach that we will come down with Christ to reign on Earth with Him. So, what of “so shall we ever be with the Lord?” In what sense are we “with” Him? Let us quickly survey verses that show us how the English (King James) Bible employs “with” in sentences.

“WITH” (AS IN CLOSE PHYSICAL PROXIMITY, EXISTING BESIDE ANOTHER, ADJACENT OR NEIGHBORING)

  • Acts 8:31: “And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”
  • Galatians 2:3: “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:….”
  • Matthew 9:10: “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.” (A similar idea is found in Matthew 14:9 and Acts 11:3.)
  • Matthew 4:21: “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.”
  • Acts 11:12: “And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:….”

(You may also consult Acts 20:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, John 13:18, Acts 9:7, Acts 9:19, Matthew 26:23, Mark 14:18-20, Acts 23:19, Philemon 13, and Acts 27:2.)

The above verses contain probably the most frequent definition of how we use the word “with.” Considering all that has gone before, however, there must be another sense 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is using the word. Our destiny is the heavenly places, recall.

“WITH” (ON THE SAME TEAM, JOINED IN ONE CONDITION, HAVING A SHARED PURPOSE)

  • Acts 16:34: “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
  • Romans 1:12: “That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
  • John 13:8: “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”
  • Philippians 2:18: “For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.”
  • Luke 11:23: “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” Matthew 12:30: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
  • Luke 1:58: “And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.”
  • Romans 15:30: “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;….”
  • 1 Corinthians 12:26: “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
  • Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The idea in these verses is connecting to others around a common goal or experience—rejoicing with others, mourning with others, praying with others, trusting in God with others, and so on. Physical distance is not under consideration. We can do these things with others around the world, though they are quite far from us bodily. If we look at the Bible’s testimony as a whole, this seems to be the most probable notion being communicated by “with” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

CONCLUSION

First Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The word “with” here is not to be understood in the sense of sitting face-to-face, or side-by-side with another. Scripture also employs the term as united around a mutual action or experience. There is solidarity or camaraderie, teammates achieving one end, fellowshipping as concerning one matter.

In Revelation 3:21, the Lord Jesus says to Israel, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Certainly, Christ is not speaking of one or two thrones in which He, the Father, and all believing Jews will sit around each other. Close physical proximity is not the issue—that would be most absurd. The idea rather is one of unity in reigning (as in, shared authority or mutual power). Redeemed Israelites are extensions of His earthly authority, just as we (the Body of Christ) are extensions of His heavenly authority. For us to be “with” Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:17) is not about us returning to Earth, but rather sharing His governmental influence in creation—namely, the heavenly places—as Israel will share His influence in the offices of Earth’s government.

One passage to summarize with now is 2 Timothy 2:10-13: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” The “reigning with him” is defined in chapter 4 and verse 18 as entering “his heavenly kingdom.” (Notice the idea of teammates throughout these verses. There is no hint of next-door neighbors but individuals associating around a joint conclusion.)

The idea in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “with the Lord” means we are on His team, ruling and reigning with Him, but in what realm? Paul’s epistles always speak of our (Body of Christ) realm as the heavenly kingdom. In the ages to come, the Lord will be exercising governmental authority and we will be too. It is all one enormous kingdom, spanning between Heaven and Earth, all to exalt Jesus Christ the Lord of glory. Lastly, remember, we can only be so close to Him physically. Millions of believers from the last 20 centuries will be in Heaven. We cannot all be within arm’s reach of Him, and yet we will be “with Him.” Surely, something beyond physical closeness is under consideration in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

ATTENTION: We have released our new seven-hour Bible study series—“The Feasts of JEHOVAH.” These lessons are approximately 65 minutes each, totaling 7 1/2 hours. They are quite advanced, as they build on our five-lesson series “Israel’s Covenants” I taught a month ago. It is best to watch all seven videos in order, as they are progressive. May you be edified, encouraged, and enlightened! Enjoy!! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Click here to watch.

Also see:
» Will we return with Jesus Christ at His Second Coming?
» Who are the “saints” in 1 Thessalonians 3:13?
» Can you compare and contrast the prophetic program and the mystery program?