The Importance, Privilege, and Responsibility of the Ancient Jews

Jesus said, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), and we do well to give heed.  Jesus Himself was, of course, a Jew.  His chosen apostles were also Jews.  The New Testament chronicled the Jewish movement that subsequently came to be called Christianity – but we should never forget that it was a Jewish movement.  Gentiles were invited to come along, to be sure – but the movement remained Jewish-led throughout New Testament times.

Paul said that the Jews “were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2).  This was a grave responsibility.  Because they acquitted themselves properly in the fulfillment of this responsibility, we have both the Old and New Testaments.

Paul also said, however, that being a Jew is no longer a matter of the flesh, but is now a matter of the spirit:

Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

For this reason, Jesus could talk to the church at Smyrna and the one at Philadelphia about those who “say that they are Jews and are not” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).

In this age (that is, the age of the kingdom of God), we are allowed to uphold and remember the inheritance that ancient Israel left us:  the Scriptures.  Let us never forget that these writings are Jewish from one end to the other.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

Wickedness

If you would find the Lord Jesus – that is, if you would seek and find the king of the kingdom of God, who is the Lord Jesus Christ – then you must put away all wickedness from your heart.

James 1:21 says that we should put aside “all that remains of wickedness.”  Does this sound like the Lord thinks a little wickedness is okay?  On the contrary, it sounds like He has what they call a “zero tolerance policy” regarding human wickedness.  Therefore, if you want the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, put away any trace of wickedness.

This quest to remove anything wicked was a mark of the New Testament church.  For example, in 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul is telling the church at Corinth that they need to separate themselves from a wickedness found in their midst.  Note especially verse 13 where Paul quotes Moses, saying, “Remove the wicked man from yourselves.”  Moses originally spoke and repeated this admonition to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7, 12; 21:21; 22:21.  The point could hardly have been lost on anyone who took Scripture seriously, and the New Testament church certainly did.

Wickedness comes up again in 2 Timothy 2:19 where Paul tells Timothy that everyone who “names the name of the Lord [should] abstain from wickedness.”

And if you’ll remember the parable of the talents, Jesus described that slave who hid his talent as “wicked” and lazy (Matthew 25:26).  The man’s one talent was then removed from him and given to  the one who had been productively using the ten talents.

The Old Testament had made this point clear long before the New Testament was written:

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.  –  Psalm 45:7

Thus we are to hate wickedness as much as we love righteousness.

Jesus Christ had no wickedness in Him.  Therefore, to imitate the Lord is to remove wickedness from ourselves.  For if we don’t,

“…be sure your sin will find you out.”  –  Numbers 32:23

There is no place for wickedness in a heart that would be a home for Christ, the king of the kingdom of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

Loving the Wrong Things

People often choose to love the wrong things.  Make wise choices!  Don’t love the wrong things [which are indicated below in bold print]:

Micah 3:2 “You who hate good and love evil,

Matthew 23:6 “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,
Matthew 23:7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

Luke 16:14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.

John 3:19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

John 12:43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

2 Timothy 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,

2 Timothy 3:4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

2 Timothy 4:10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica;

Hebrews 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

2 Peter 2:15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

3 John 1:9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.

Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Transitioning from the Law of Moses to the Grace of Jesus Christ

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, when the word “Law” appears in the New Testament, it is usually shorthand for “the Law of Moses.”  The original Hebrew word used for “law” was “torah,” meaning law in the sense of “teaching,” “instruction,” or “direction.”

When the word “grace” appears in the New Testament, it is usually short for “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Grace” is that spiritual understanding brought to the Scriptures through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Thus “law” and “grace” are two different ways of reading what we call the Old Testament.  (Of course, the New Testament writers called those documents “the Scriptures” because their own writings would be collected and called “the New Testament” only after they had died.)   Thus Paul wrote:

Galatians 2:19-21 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

This transition from law to grace is not an opportunity to sin.  On the contrary, Paul writes:

Romans 6:14-15 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

Grace was actually more demanding of Paul and his contemporaries than was the Law.  But it was more rewarding as well.  That is, the demands it made yielded significant fruit in their lives.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

The Word “Church” in Both Testaments

This post is a summary based on detail work done in these two prior posts:

The Word “Church” in the Old Testament

The Word “Church” in the New Testament

Nevertheless, you do not have to read them before you read this post.

Our English Bibles are, of course, translations from what the prophets and apostles originally wrote.  The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is one of the most literal English translations we have today.  What I am about to say is based on it, using the Apostolic Bible Polyglot (ABP), which is an English translation of the Septuagint, to provide some consistency between the two testaments.

If we disregard the Old and New Testament division, and just look at the Bible as a single collection of writings, we come up 183 verses in which the Greek word ekklesia (Strong’s Concordance Greek number 1577) occurs.  Every occurrence of the word “church” in the NASB can be tracsed to this Greek word – but this Greek word is often translated in other ways, too.  Here’s how the word in translated in those 183 verses:

as “church” or “churches” – 106 verses

as “assembly” – 64 verses (an additional verse translates as “assemble”)

as “congregation” or “congregations” – 10 verses

as “company” – 2 verses

You might wonder why a word is translated one way 58% of the time, and some other way 42% of the time.  It’s a good question.

You might also be interested to know that the 106 verses which translate the Greek word in question into “church” are in the New Testament.  None are in the Old Testament.  This is perplexing as well.

In spite of this confusion, you do not have to be frustrated when you read your English Bible.  Just remember that the word church can just as easily be translated “assembly” or “gathering” or “group” or some other synonym.  What special meaning it might have would come from the context in which it is used – not from the word itself, which was not coined by Jesus or the apostles, but rather carried forward from its Old Testament usage.

We should try to understand this word as the various biblical authors intended it and have our understanding crippled by two thousand years of institutionalism which none of them ever witnessed.

Read the Scripture with fresh eyes.  And, most importantly, pray to God and lean on the Holy Spirit.

Especially if you are going to insist that God wants an institutional church and for people to attend it, you need to study the Scriptures and see just what they say about this word.  You’re going to find that it is an important word in Scripture, but that it has nothing to do with the churches we see in the world today.

In any case, always remember that “church” was an Old Testament word long before it was a New Testament word.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

What to Love and What to Hate

The Scriptures instruct those who would love God to love certain things, and hate other things.  This is because God loves certain things and hates other things.  We please God when we love whatHe loves and hate what He hates.  Conversely, we displease God when we hate the things He loves and love the things.  Here are some samples.  Actually reading the referenced Scriptures will bring additional light on the subject addressed.

If we love God, we should love and not hate:

God’s appearing  –  2 Timothy 4:8

God’s commandments  –  Psalm 119:47, 48, 127

God’s law  –  Psalm 119:97, 113, 163, 165

God’s name  –  Psalm 5:11; 69:36; 119:132; Isaiah 56:6; Hebrews 6:10

God’s salvation  –  Psalm 40:16; 70:4

Good  –  Amos 5:15; Titus 1:8

Light  –  John 3:19-21

Other people  –  1 John 4:20-21

Peace  –  Zechariah 8:19

Righteousness  –  Hebrews 1:9; Psalm 45:7

Truth  –  Zechariah 8:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:10

If we love God, we should hate and not love:

Apostasy  –  Psalm 101:3

Arrogance  –  Proverbs 8:13

Darkness  –  John 3:19-21

Double-mindedness  –  Psalm 119:113

Evil  –  Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 8:13; Amos 5:15; Romans 12:9

Falsehood  –  Psalm 119:163

Lawlessness  –  Hebrews 1:9

Perverted mouth  –  Proverbs 8:13

Pride  –  Proverbs 8:13

Wickedness  –  Psalm 45:7

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Grace Versus Law

There is a tension between grace and law which turns up as a theme throughout the New Testament, especially in Paul’s letters.  This tension has received great attention in the centuries that have passed since New Testament days, especially in the Protestant Reformation and its wake.  This great attention has in some cases been helpful, but in other cases misleading.  The discussions have been particularly misleading when they have portrayed a dichotomy between “doing  for God” and merely “receiving from God” as the supposed dichotomy between law and grace.  The biblical reality is something different.

The “law versus grace” contrast in the New Testament is a  contrast between “the Law of Moses” and “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  That is, Moses wrote a Law for Israel to follow, and the prophets kept calling the descendants of Abraham back to it when they strayed.  Jesus came in that same prophetic tradition, but also brought a different and greater meaning to the Law of Moses.  (Moses himself had prophesied that this would happen – see Deuteronomy 18:15 along with John 5:46-47.)

Jesus boldly proclaimed the new interpretation He was bringing, most extensively so in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  There, for example, Jesus said that while Moses forbade murder, Jesus’ interpretation of that law would forbid even hostile thoughts toward another person.  Anyone who takes this to heart quickly realizes that any portrayal of grace as a “free ride” is missing the point – by a country mile.  Thus Jude could say:

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Thus grace doesn’t eliminate the duty to obey.  Rather, it shifts the allegiance for obedience from Moses to Jesus Christ, and intensifies the demand by governing the totality of one’s thoughts.  Thus John could write:

John 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Be sure therefore that grace does not mean the absence of work on our part.  You may remember that Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

Thus Paul received grace, but also labored.  And he labored for the Lord who was giving him the grace.

There can be no grace without a Lord.  Ah, but the good news is there can be no Lord Jesus without grace!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

The Word “Church” in the New Testament

All occurrences of “church” or “churches” in the New Testament are translations of the Greek word ekklesia (Strong’s Greek number 1577).  There are 111 verses in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) New Testament which translate ekklesia 1577.  Of these, 106 verses translate the word as “church,” or, if plural, “churches.”

First, some technical points.  In three of these verses, there are two occurrences of the word.  They are Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 16:19; and Revelation 1:20.  These all result in “church” or “churches” being the translation of ekklesia 1577.  The NASB Strong’s Concordance search function will yield 109 verses, but note that in three of them (1 Corinthians 5:12; Colossians 1:25; and 1 Timothy 3:7) the word “church” is italicized, meaning that the translators supplied it based on context to fill an ellipsis.  This why I say there are 106 verses with ekklesia 1577 and not 109.

Subtracting these 111 verses by the 106 verses with “church” or “churches”  leaves five verses where ekklesia 1577 is translated as something else.  In three of them the translation is “assembly.”  Here they are [emphasis added]:

Acts 19:32 So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together.

Acts 19:39 “But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly.

Acts 19:41 After saying this he dismissed the assembly.

Since all these occurrences are from one story, you’ll find it helpful to read the whole story in context (Acts 19:23-41).

In the other two verses, the translation is “congregation” – and here they are:

Acts 7:38 “This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.

Hebrews 2:12 saying,
“I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN,
IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.”

The “all caps” in Hebrews 2:12 is the translators’ tip to us that the writer is quoting an Old Testament verse.  In this case, it’s Psalm 22:22.  The NASB translation of that word in Psalm 22:22, by the way, is “assembly.”

You can see therefore that ekklesia 1577 can sometimes refer to something besides a religious service for Christ or group professing allegiance to Christ.  This will become even more apparent if you study how ekklesia 1577 is used in the Old Testament (Septuagint).  Many people today act as if Jesus Christ was coining a word and launching a humanly-governed institution when He said “Upon this rock I will build My church.”  That’s not the case at all.  He was using a term not only already in wide circulation, but one that was found repeatedly in the Old Testament – but just showing up as “assembly,”  “congregation,” or some similar word.  Our familiarity with almost two thousand years of institutional church history leads us to impose meaning on Jesus’ words that blind us to the way He and His contemporaries understood that word.

For a summary of how ekklesia 1577 (i.e., the word for “church”) is translated in both testaments, see here.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Word “Church” in the Old Testament

“Church” is one of those prominent New Testament (NT) words which are not as easily found in the Old Testament (OT).  This is not because such words are not prominent in the OT, too, but because of translation issues.  The purpose of this post is to help you see better where the word “church” shows up in the OT and how it is translated into English, at least in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).  (The NASB is one of the most literal English translations, so finding such words in less literal translations would be even harder.)

The Strong’s Concordance number for “church” is 1577 – ekklesia.  That word is translated in the NASB NT in the following ways (the number of occurrences of each is shown parenthetically):  assembly(3), church(74), churches(35), congregation(2).

The list of OT verses below is taken from the ABP Lexical Concordance, which is an interlinear translation of the Septuagint (LXX).  Specifically, this is the ABP’s list of the occurrences of ekklesia 1577 in the OT.  To the right of each chapter-verse citation I have shown how the ABP translates the verse, making bold the English word translated from the Greek ekklesia 1577.  Then following in italics is the NASB OT translation of the verse.  Thus this list is a correlation of ABP and the NASB.  More precisely, it is the correlation of ABP occurrences of ekklesia 1577 in the OT with the NASB OT translation of those occurrences.

The ABP shows 74 verses in which the Greek word ekklesia 1577 occurs in the OT.  Where the word occasionally occurs more than once in a single verse is it noted by an asterisk immediately after the chapter-verse citation.  And, of course. there will be more than one English word highlighted in the verse in those cases.

(For reference purposes, I’ll add that the ABP shows ekklesia 1577 occurring in 112 NT verses; this compares to the NASB showing it as occurring in 111 verses.  The list of verses is identical between them except that the ABP includes Acts 2:47.  I attribute this to ABP and the NASB looking at different Greek manuscripts for this verse.  The ABP fits with the translation you see in the King James Version of that verse.  Of course, the presence of absence of ekklesia 1577 in that verse does not change the meaning.  You would not consider the KJV and NASB to be saying different things.)

When it comes to which word in the NASB OT translation correlates to ekklesia 1577, it is an inexact science.  This is because the NASB, like most English translations, translates the OT from the Hebrew (Masoretic Text – MT) and not the Greek (LXX).    In most cases, it’s quite clear which word in the NASB OT verse applies to the word for “church” in the corresponding LXX verse, but in others some educated guesswork is involved.  In any case, you will be able to see both translations and judge for yourself.

Here then is the list of all 74 occurrences in the Old Testament of the word that is usually translated “church” in the New Testament:

Deuteronomy 4:10  –  Specially the day which you stood in the presence of the LORD your God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly; for the LORD said to me, Hold an assembly to me, and let the people hear my words!  so that they should learn to fear me all the days which they live upon the earth, and that they should have taught their sons.

“Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’

Deuteronomy 9:10  –  And the LORD gave to me the two tablets of stone, being written by the finger of God, And upon them he had written all the words, the ones which the LORD spoke to you in the mountain, from amidst the fire, in the day of assembly.

“The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.

Deuteronomy 18:16  –  According to all as much as you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying, We shall not to hear the voice of the LORD your God, and this great fire we shall not see any longer, nor shall we die.

“This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’

Deuteronomy 23:1  –  One with crushed testicles shall not enter (nor being cut off) into the assembly of the LORD,

No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 23:2  –  One born of a harlot shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD unto the tenth generation.

“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 23:3*  –  The Ammonite and Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD; even unto the tenth generation he shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD, even unto into the eon,

“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD,

Deuteronomy 23:8  –  If they shall bear sons to themselves in the third generation, they shall enter into the assembly of the LORD.

“The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 31:30  –  And Moses spoke into the ears of all the assembly of Israel the words of this ode, until completion.

Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:

Joshua 8:35  –  There was not a word from all which Moses gave charge to Joshua, which Joshua did not read into the ears of all the assembly of Israel, to the men, and to the women, and to the servants, and to the foreigners going with Israel.

There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.

Judges 20:2  –  And the region established all of the people in all the tribes of Israel in the assembly of the people of God – four hundred thousand men on foot unsheathing the broadsword.

The chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword.

Judges 21:5  –  And the sons of Israel said, Who is the one not ascending among the assembly from all of the tribes of Israel to the LORD?  For there was a great oath concerning the one not ascending to the LORD in Mizpeh, saying, To death he shall die.

Then the sons of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up in the assembly to the LORD?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.”

Judges 21:8  –  And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel which did not ascend to the LORD in Mizpeh?  And behold, no man came to the camp from Jabeish Giled to the assembly.

And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly.

1 Samuel 17:47  –  And all this assembly shall know that it is not by the broadsword, and spear the LORD delivers; for the war is of the LORD, and the LORD shall deliver you into our hands.

and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”

1 Samuel 19:20  –  And Saul sent messengers to take David.  And coming they saw the assembly of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel stood ordained over them.  And spirit of God became upon the messengers of Saul, and they prophesied, even they.

Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied.

1 Kings 8:14  –  And the king turned his face, and blessed all Israel.  And all the assembly of Israel stood.

Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.

1 Kings 8:22  –  And Solomon stood in front of the altar of the LORD before all the assembly of Israel.  And he opened and spread out his hands into the heaven.

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.

1 Kings 8:55  –  And he stood, and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a great voice, saying,

And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying:

1 Kings 8:65  –  And Solomon observed the holiday feast in that day, and Israel with him, a great assembly from the entering of Hamath unto the River of Egypt, before the LORD our God seven days and seven days – four and ten days.

So Solomon observed the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, for seven days and seven more days, even fourteen days.

1 Chronicles 13:2  –  And David said to all the assembly of Israel, If it seems good to you, and by the LORD our God, that he should prosper the way, then we should send to our brethren being left in all the land of Israel, and the priests the Levites with them, which are in the cities of their possession, that they shall be gathered together to us.

David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is from the LORD our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsmen who remain in all the land of Israel, also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, that they may meet with us;

1 Chronicles 13:4  –  And all the assembly said to do so, for the word was upright in the eyes of all the people.

 Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.

1 Chronicles 28:2  –  And David the king stood in the midst of the assembly, and he said, hear me my brethren, and my people!  It came to me in heart to build a house for a rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and a station to be the footstool of the feet of God.  And I prepared the things for the needful construction.

Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Listen to me, my brethren and my people; I had intended to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the footstool of our God. So I had made preparations to build it.

1 Chronicles 28:8  –  And now according to the eyes of all Israel of every assembly of the LORD, and in the ears of our God, guard and seek all the commandments of the LORD our God!  that you should inherit the good land and should inherit it to your sons after you unto the eon.

“So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the LORD your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever.

1 Chronicles 29:1  –  And David the king said to all the assembly, Solomon my son, in whom the LORD has taken for himself, is young and tender, and the work is great; for the place of abode is not to man, but only to the LORD God.

Then King David said to the entire assembly, “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is still young and inexperienced and the work is great; for the temple is not for man, but for the LORD God.

1 Chronicles 29:10  –  And King David blessed the LORD before the assembly, saying, Blessed are you, O LORD God of Israel, our father from the eon and unto the eon.

So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever.

1 Chronicles 29:20*  –  And David said to all the assembly, Bless indeed the LORD our God!  And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bent the knees to do obeisance to the LORD, and to the king.

Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless the LORD your God.” And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed low and did homage to the LORD and to the king.

2 Chronicles 1:3  –  And Solomon went out and all the assembly with him unto the high place in Gibeon, of which the tent of the testimony of God was located, which Moses the servant of the LORD made in the wilderness.

Then Solomon and all the assembly with him went to the high place which was at Gibeon, for God’s tent of meeting was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness.

2 Chronicles 1:5  –  And the altar of brass which Bezaleel son of Uri son of Hur made was there before the tent of the LORD.  And Solomon and the assembly sought by it.

Now the bronze altar, which Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the LORD, and Solomon and the assembly sought it out.

2 Chronicles 6:3*  –  And the king turned his face, and he blessed all the assembly of Israel.  And all the assembly of Israel stood by.

Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.

2 Chronicles 6:12  –  And he stood before the altar of the LORD, before all the assembly of Israel, and he opened and spread out his hands,

Then he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands.

2 Chronicles 6:13  –  For Solomon made a brass platform, and he put it in the midst of the courtyard of the temple – five cubits was its length, and five cubits was its breadth, and three cubits was its height.  And he stood upon it, and he bent upon his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and he opened and spread out his hands into the heaven.

Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.

2 Chronicles 7:8  –  And Solomon observed the holiday at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him; an exceedingly great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath, and unto the rushing stream of Egypt.

So Solomon observed the feast at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly who came from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt.

2 Chronicles 10:3  –  And they sent and called him.  And Jeroboam came, and all the assembly of Israel, and theyspoke to Rehoboam, saying, 

So they sent and summoned him. When Jeroboam and all Israel came, they spoke to Rehoboam, saying,

2 Chronicles 20:5  –  And Jehoshaphat rose up in the assembly of Judah in Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD in front of the new courtyard,

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court,

2 Chronicles 20:14  –  And Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah the Levite of the sons of Asaph – came upon him spirit of the LORD in the assembly.

Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph;

2 Chronicles 23:3  –  And all the assembly ordained a covenant in the house of God with the king.  And he said to them, Behold, the son of the king, let him reign!  as the LORD spoke concerning the house of David.

Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the LORD has spoken concerning the sons of David.

2 Chronicles 28:14  –  And the warriors released the captivity and the spoils before the rulers and all the assembly.

So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the officers and all the assembly.

2 Chronicles 29:23  –  And they brought the winter yearlings of the ones for a sin offering before the king and the assembly; and they placed their hands upon them.

Then they brought the male goats of the sin offering before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them.

2 Chronicles 29:28  –  And all the assembly did obeisance, and the psalm singers were singing, and the trumpets trumpeting, until of which time the whole burnt-offering was completed.

While the whole assembly worshiped, the singers also sang and the trumpets sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

2 Chronicles 29:31  –  And Hezekiah answered and said, Now you filled your hands to the LORD, come forward and bring sacrifices of praise into the house of the LORD!  And the assembly brought sacrifices and praise into the house of the LORD, and all eager in heart brought whole burnt-offerings.

Then Hezekiah said, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all those who were willing brought burnt offerings.

2 Chronicles 29:32  –  And the number of the whole burnt-offerings which the assembly offered was – seventy calves, a hundred rams, two hundred lambs;  all these for a whole burnt-offering to the LORD.

The number of the burnt offerings which the assembly brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.

2 Chronicles 30:2  –  And the king planned, and the rulers, and all the assembly in Jerusalem to observe the passover in the second month.

For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month,

2 Chronicles 30:4  –  And the matter was pleasing before the king, and before the assembly.

Thus the thing was right in the sight of the king and all the assembly.

2 Chronicles 30:13  –  And manypeople gatherered in Jerusalem to observe the holiday of the unleavened breads in the second month  – an exceedingly vast assembly.

Now many people were gathered at Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very large assembly.

2 Chronicles 30:17  –  For a multitude of the assembly was not purified.  And the Levites were to sacrifice the passover to all not able to be purified to the LORD.

For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves; therefore, the Levites were over the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was unclean, in order to consecrate them to the LORD.

2 Chronicles 30:23  –  And all the assembly counseled to observe another seven days.  And they observed another seven days with gladness.

Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate the feast another seven days, so they celebrated the seven days with joy.

2 Chronicles 30:24  –  For Hezekiah the king of Judah dedicated to all the assembly a thousand calves, and seven thousand sheep.  And the rulers dedicated for the people a thousand calves and ten thousand sheep, and were sanctified of the priests in  multitude.

For Hezekiah king of Judah had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the princes had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep; and a large number of priests consecrated themselves.

2 Chronicles 30:25*  –  And all the assembly of Judah was glad, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the assembly coming from Israel, and the foreigners coming from the land of Israel, an the ones dwelling Judah.

All the assembly of Judah rejoiced, with the priests and the Levites and all the assembly that came from Israel, both the sojourners who came from the land of Israel and those living in Judah.

Ezra 2:64  –  And all the assembly together were as four ten thousand, two thousand, three hundred sixty;

The whole assembly numbered 42,360,

Ezra 10:1  –  And as Ezra prayed, and as he confessed weeping and falling before the house of God, there came together to him from Israel an exceedingly vast assembly, men and women and young people; for the people wept a great weeping.

Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly.

Ezra 10:8  –  Every one who ever should not come for three days, according to the counsel of the rulers and of the elders, all his substance shall be devoted to consumption, and he shall be separated from the assembly of the resettlement.

and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the leaders and the elders, all his possessions should be forfeited and he himself excluded from the assembly of the exiles.

Ezra 10:12  –  And answered all the assembly with a great voice, and said, According to your words which you said, thus we will do.

Then all the assembly replied with a loud voice, “That’s right! As you have said, so it is our duty to do.

Ezra 10:14  –  Let indeed our rulers stand in every assembly!  and to all the ones in our cities who settled with alien wives, let them come at arranged times, and with them the elders city by city, and judges to turn the anger of the rage of our God from us, on acount of this matter.

“Let our leaders represent the whole assembly and let all those in our cities who have married foreign wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of each city, until the fierce anger of our God on account of this matter is turned away from us.”

Nehemiah 5:7  –  And my heart took counsel with me, and I did combat against the important ones, and the rulers.  And I said to them, Shall a man exact from his brother what you do?  And I put upon them a great assembly.

I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, “You are exacting usury, each from his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them.

Nehemiah 5:13  –  And I shook off my wrap, and said, Thus shall God shake off every man who does not stand by this word, of his house, and of his toil; and he will be thus shaken and empty.  And all the assembly said, Amen.  And they praised the LORD.  And the people did this thing.

I also shook out the front of my garment and said, “Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

Nehemiah 7:66  –  And all the assembly was in one accord, as four ten thousands and two thousand three hundred sixty, 

The whole assembly together was 42,360,

Nehemiah 8:2  –  And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, from man unto woman, and all the ones perceiving to hear, on day one of the seventh month.

Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.

Nehemiah 8:17  –  And all the assembly of the ones returning from the captivity made tents, and they stayed in tents;  for the sons of Israel did not do thus from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day.  And there became a great gladness – exceedingly much.

The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. And there was great rejoicing.

Nehemiah 13:1  –  In that day they read in the scroll of Moses into the ears of the people.  And it was found written in it how that  the Ammonite and the Moabite should not enter into the assembly of God unto the eon.

On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God,

Job 30:28  –  I went moaning with out a rein; and I have stood in the assembly crying out.

“I go about mourning without comfort;
I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.

Psalm 22:22  –  I shall describe your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.

I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

Psalm 22:25  –  My high praise is about you.  In the great assembly I shall confess to you.  My vows I shall render in the presence of the ones fearing him.

From You comes my praise in the great assembly;
I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.

Psalm 26:5  –  I detested the assembly of ones doing wickedness; and with the impious in no way shall I sit.

I hate the assembly of evildoers,
And I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 26:12  –  My foot stands in straightness.  In the assemblies I shall bless you, O LORD.

My foot stands on a level place;
In the congregations I shall bless the LORD.

Psalm 35:18  –  I shall make acknowledgement to you in the vast assembly; with grievous people I shall praise you.

I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.

Psalm 40:9  –  I announced good news – righteousness in the great assembly.  Behold, in no wayshould I estrain my lips, O LORD, you know.

I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O LORD, You know.

Psalm 68:26  –  In assemblies bless God!  the LORD from the springs of Israel.

Bless God in the congregations,
Even the LORD, you who are of the fountain of Israel.

Psalm 89:5  –  The heavens shall acknowledge your wonders, O LORD, and your truth in the assembly of the holy ones.

The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD;
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.

Psalm 107:32  –  Let them exalt him in the assembly of people, and let them praise him in the chair of the elders!

Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people,
And praise Him at the seat of the elders.

Psalm 149:1  –  Alleluiah.  Sing to the LORD a new song, of his praise in the assembly of the sacred ones!

Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.

Proverbs 5:14  –  By little I came unto every evil in the midst of the assembly and congregation.

“I was almost in utter ruin
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

Lamentations 1:10  –  The one afflicting his hand spread forth upon all the desirable things of hers.  For she saw nations entering into her sanctuary – the ones which I charged them not to enter into your assembly.

The adversary has stretched out his hand
Over all her precious things,
For she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary,
The ones whom You commanded
That they should not enter into Your congregation.

Ezekiel 32:3  –  Thus says Adonai the LORD; And I will put my net upon you by an assembly of many peoples and I will lead you by my hook.

Thus says the Lord GOD,
“Now I will spread My net over you
With a company of many peoples,
And they shall lift you up in My net.

Joel 2:16  –  Gather together people!  Sanctify an assembly!  Choose elders!  Gather together infants nursing breasts!  Let the groom go forth from out of his bedroom, and the bride from out of her nuptual chamber.

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and the nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom come out of his room
And the bride out of her bridal chamber.

Micah 2:5  –  On account of this, there will not be for you one putting a measuring line for a lot in the assembly of the LORD.

“Therefore you will have no one stretching a measuring line
For you by lot in the assembly of the LORD.

Now for the summary:

As for the ABP OT:

The Greek word ekklesia 1577 is found in 74 vereses of the OT.  In four of these verses (Deuteronomy 23:3; 1 Chronicles 29:20; 2 Chronicles 6:3; 30:25), there is a double occurrence of the word.  That amounts to 78 occurrences in 74 verses.  These double occurrences are translated with the same word in each case so I’ll stick with the 74 verse count from here on.  All occurrences of ekklesia 1577 in the ABP are translated as “assembly.”  (Two of them – Psalm 26:12 and Psalm 68:26 – are the plural form and therefore translated “assemblies.”)

As for the NASB OT:

The Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word ekklesia 1577 is found in 72 verses of the OT.  1 Chronicles 28:2 and 2 Chronicles 10:3 are the two verses which do not have an equivalent.  This just owes to the differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text, and, considering their differences in the textual heritage, such a number is incredibly small.

Of the 72 verses, 61 are translated “assembly,” 1 is translated “assemble” (Deuteronomy 4:10), 6 are translated “congregation,” 2 are translated “congregations” (Psalm 26:12 and Psalm 68:26, thus matching “assemblies” in the ABP), and 2 are translated “company.”

Except for “company” in 1 Samuel 19:20, the NASB consistently translates the Hebrew equivalent of ekklesia 1577 as “assembly” from its first occurrence in the OT all the way until the book of Psalms, where the variations begin.  (That is, 1 Samuel 19:20 aside, the variations from “assembly,” few as they are, occur in Psalms, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Joel.)

Since there are 109 OT verses containing “assembly” in the NASB OT and only 61 of them can be traced to the Hebrew equivalent of ekklesia 1577, you cannot assume that “assembly” in the NASB OT is the same as the word you see as “church” in the NT – but most of them are.

There are 136 verses in the NASB OT containing the word “congregation” or “congregations.”  However, we have only been able to trace 8 of these occurrences to a ekklesia 1577 equivalent.

There are 52 verses in the NASB OT containing the word “company”  However, we have only been able to trace 2 of these occurrences to an ekklesia 1577 equivalent.

For a study of how the word ekklesia 1577 (i.e. the word for “church”) is used in the New Testament, see this post.

For a summary of how ekklesia 1577 (i.e., the word for “church”) is translated in both testaments, see this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

New Testament Words Which Are Really Old Testament Words

When we read the New Testament (NT), we are often coming across words which are ostensibly absent or infrequent in the Old Testament (OT) – but which actually aren’t.  This isn’t a result of translators conspiring to hide anything from us.  Rather, it’s because of the vagaries of language and a variety of unrelated factors.  (The Tower of Babel described in Genesis 11 truly did invite a curse.)

The advantage of a literal English translation like the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is that it usually translates a given word consistently throughout the Scriptures.  This allows someone who knows English (but not the underlying original languages of Scripture) to use a concordance or cross reference system to compare one scripture to another – thus providing a broader set of examples to help understand the meaning of a word by multiple usages in varying contexts.  There are a few words, however, that even the NASB doesn’t translate consistently between the testaments (again, not through any malicious or corrupt intent), and this prevents us from more easily seeing the continuity of ideas between what we call the OT and what we call the NT.

Even without a concordance, you may be reading the OT and come across the word “Sheol,” then turn to reading the NT and come across the word “Hades,” without recognizing that these two words are referring to the same thing.  Or that “Jesus” in the NT is the same name as “Joshua” in the OT.  Or that “church” is often found in the OT, but usually translated as “assembly” or “congregation” instead of as “church.”  And so on.

There are not a lot of words that fall into this category, but some of them are important so I’ll list them in this post.  The comments below are based on the NASB and the Strong’s Concordance associated with it found at the NASB site.  (Other literal English translations may vary from this.  I will say that the NASB and the King James Version track closely on such issues.)

Christ  –  Shows up in the OT as “Anointed” or “Messiah,” but never as “Christ.”

church – Usually shows up in the OT as “assembly” (occasionally as “congregation” or “company”) but never as “church.”  Here’s a post on how “church” was used in the OT, and here’s a post on how it was used in the NT.  And here’s a summary post on how it’s used in both testaments.

Gentiles  –  Usually shows up in the OT as “nations,” but occasionally as something else and only once as “Gentiles.”  Even in the NT, it is sometimes translated as “nations” instead of “Gentiles.”

gospel –  Shows up in the OT as “good news,” but never as “gospel.”  For a little more detail, see this post.

grace  –  Shows up in the OT as “favor” and other words, but only occasionally as “grace.”  For more detail, see this post.

Hades  –  Shows up in the OT as “Sheol,” but never as “Hades.”  For more detail on this, see Appendix I of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

Jesus  –  Shows up in the OT as “Joshua” and never as “Jesus.”

saints  –  Usually shows up in the OT as “holy ones,” and only occasionally as “saints.”

If an English reader didn’t know better, he’d think most of these terms were introduced in the New Testament and weren’t used before that.  This just wouldn’t be true.  Moreover, we have to remember that the Old Testament was the only Bible that New Testament folks had.  What we call the New Testament wasn’t collected, bound, and distributed until most if not all the folks we read about in the New Testament were dead and gone.

Understanding the OT context in which these words were first used is critical to understanding what NT folks meant when they used the words.  The NT believers were deeply steeped in the OT.  If we try to understand their writings without reference to the OT, we are going to misunderstand them.  Even worse, if we import meanings to these words based on what has happened since they died we are going to impose foreign meaning on their thoughts – meanings they could not possibly have intended.

Related to this post, is a post on significant terms that translated the same in both testaments, but which are insufficiently appreciated as having been coined in Old Testament times:  New Testament Expressions Which Originated in the Old Testament

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Kind of Thing Jesus Does to the Old Testament

Jesus interprets the Old Testament spiritually rather than physically.  Consider, for example, what Jesus does with the Old Testament’s dietary laws [emphasis added]:

Mark 7:18-19 And He *said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)

Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Romans 14:16-17 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This does not mean that such provisions are to be ignored, for Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Instead of a fleshly orientation, we are to read food and drink passages in a spiritual manner, as is demonstrated in Paul’s letter to the believers in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Let us therefore by all means read the Old Testament – but do so through Jesus’ interpretation, not our own.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

Jesus said, “If you abide in MY word…”

John 8:31-32 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

We needn’t restrict Jesus’ meaning of ” My” to just those words that came out of the mouth of His human body during the days of His flesh.  The whole of Scripture became HIS word through the gospel of grace that He made it through His death and resurrection on our behalf.

Moses himself had said:

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

Thus we no longer interpret the Law of Moses as Moses did originally, but rather as Jesus did subsequently.  Moses pointed the way.  Jesus is the way (John 14:6).

Jesus spoke of this transition when He said:

Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.

Let us therefore forsake the Scripture’s meaning according to the flesh and rather embrace it as the word of Jesus which is according to the spirit – as He so clearly and forcefully directed us the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

Is the Bible the Word of God?

The Bible is, of course, a collection of various writings by various authors written over a period of centuries.  It is not a single book written by a single individual at a single point in time.  Is it possible therefore to say, “The Bible says…?  Sure it is, as long as the proper understanding of the Bible’s variegated constitution is kept in mind.  In fact, when it is kept in mind, the statement “The Bible says…” becomes even more powerful.  This is because it reflects a human chorus singing in harmony a single tune.

Let’s take, for example, the challenge that some people make when they say, “The Bible never claims to be the word of God”  Is that so?

The expression “Thus saith the Lord” is found 413 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  An additional 42 times the expression “The word of the Lord came to me saying” is found there.  And, of course, there are additional variations of these prefatory expressions found throughout the Scripture.   For example, the expression “Then the Lord spoke to Moses” or some variation thereof appears some 30 times in the book of Leviticus alone, including the first and last lines of the book.  Obviously, those who wrote the writings we call Scripture were claiming to be delivering messages that originated with someone other than themselves – specifically, God.

In John 10:35 Jesus equates “the Scripture” with “the word of God.”

In Acts 3:21 Luke tells us that Peter said that God had spoken from ancient past “by the mouths of His holy prophets.”

In the opening of his letter to the Romans, Paul recalls that God promised the gospel of Jesus Christ beforehand “through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,” a sentiment he reiterates at the very end of the letter.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul thanks God that when he preached in Thessalonica the people there received his message as if it was from God through Paul rather than merely from Paul.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul reminds Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired by God.”

Hebrews 1:1 says that God “spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets.”

In James 5:10, the brother of Jesus makes reference to the prophets, “who spoke in the name of the Lord.”

2 Peter 1:21 says that “no prophecy [of Scripture] was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

And there is much more we could say along these lines.  This much should be sufficient, however, for you to recognize that it’s not reasonable to say that the Bible does not claim to be the word of God.  You can accept that claim or reject it, but you have no basis for saying that the claim is not being made.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

Romans 12:21

Roman 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Did Jesus not fulfill this verse?  Is not His crucifixion and resurrection the most profound demonstration of this dynamic (i.e. good overcoming evil)  that could be possible in this creation?

Yet you and I are called upon to repeat it, to imitate it.  Let us do so in a thousand ways every day.  If we “take up our cross daily” we can be “resurrected” daily (Luke 9:23).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Psalm 73:28

Psalm 73:28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good…

God drew near to us through Jesus Christ.  This was for our good…our everlasting good.

This nearness is conveyed to us through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  There, we drink in His goodness.

His was a goodness undaunted in the face of hostility.  Thus it was a resilient goodness, an everlasting goodness.  It was a goodness that overcomes evil.

Jesus “obeyed” Romans 12:21.

The nearness of Jesus is our good.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Jesus as a Leader

Jesus is our Lord.  Does this mean He is our leader?  Consider the following scriptures [Emphasis added.]:

Psalm 23:1-2 The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

Psalm 80:1 Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!

Isaiah 48:17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go.

Isaiah 55:4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.

These are but a few of the scriptures which speak of His leading us.  How could we ever think that He does not lead us?

We must, however, follow Him in the way He has taught us – not as we wish He would lead us.  Most importantly, He leads us by His Spirit (Romans 8:14).  That is, we live life as He would live it if He were in our shoes.  Through His Holy Spirit dwelling in us (Ephesians 3:16), He can indeed walk in our shoes (Galatians 2:20).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Psalm 27:1 – Seeing Jesus as the Lord

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?

The Lord Jesus – the man from Nazareth, raised from the dead – is my light.  By the light of His countenance, I walk my path in life.

He – personally – is my salvation.  I need no one else; I need nothing else.

Jesus is the one who defends me.  What need do I have for other defenders?

O how I thank Him that He came to earth as one of us so that He might reveal Himself to us!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Psalm 80:17 – Seeing Jesus as “the Man of God’s Right Hand” Whom “God Made Strong for Himself”

Psalm 80:17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.

Jesus of Nazareth was “the man of God’s right hand,” and there – at the right hand of God – Psalm 110:1 placed Jesus of Nazareth in His resurrected state.

Jesus is the Son of Man whom God made “strong for Himself.”

God’s hand was indeed upon Jesus (Acts 10:38).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Isaiah 48:17 – Seeing Jesus

“I am the Lord your God…who leads you in the way you should go.”  – Isaiah 48:17

The Lord Jesus fulfills these words mightily.  Has He not led us in the way we should go?  Did He not come to earth to do precisely that?

Let us therefore follow His example, walking in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).

See also the post on Micah 6:8.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

The Prophecies Were Promises

While it’s true to say that the Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) prophesied of Christ, it’s also true to say that the God promised Christ.  The latter expression portrays things a little more personally, and that conveys a very important dimension of Messiah, the greatest of all the works of God.  Thus the prophecies of Christ were promises of Christ.

Consider these scriptures [Emphasis added.]:

Acts 13:23 “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,

Acts 13:32-33 “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’

Romans 1:1-3 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

It is wonderful to be able to say that “what God has promised, He is able also to perform” (Romans 4:21).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

The Cornerstone and Capstone of the Bible

Here is a little background on what we can call the cornerstone and capstone of the Bible – the Law of Moses being the cornerstone and the New Testament being the capstone.

The first-century Sadducees and Samaritans did not accept as biblical any of the Old Testament writings other than the Law of Moses (that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).  Now granted, you and I would not want to do without all those wonderful writings between Moses and the New Testament.  However, it’s encouraging to know that the Law of Moses alone was enough to validate Jesus as the promised one.

Jesus Himself had said:

John 5:46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.”

And the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar in John 4 knew that Moses had prophesied of this one to come:

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

And thus she could say:

John 4:25 The woman *said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”

Moreover, Jesus Himself could prove that the dead are raised from the Law of Moses to the Sadducees, which He did by saying to them:

Matthew 22:31-32 “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God:  ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Thus the cornerstone and capstone of the Bible fit quite well together.  Nevertheless, it’s altogether wonderful that we have all those other writings of the prophets to comprise the walls of this literary landmark we call the Bible.

Of course, more importantly, the Bible testifies of Jesus Christ – the cornerstone and capstone of our being.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

The Bulk of the Bible’s Documents Were Written in Connection with Two Great Deliverances

The bulk of the documents that we call the Bible were written in conjunction with two great redemptions (deliverances, salvations).  That is, the exodus from Egypt (which produced Genesis through Deuteronomy – called the Law of Moses), and the exodus from the old age (which produced the New Testament, through which it is revealed how the Law of Moses became the Law of Christ).

Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy as part of the process whereby God used him to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the promised land (i.e., the land of Canaan).  This, of course, began the Bible and laid the strong foundation for all the documents that followed.

The New Testament documents – which became the conclusion to the Bible – were written by various apostles and their co-workers in connection with the deliverance God led through Jesus, redeeming mankind from slavery to various gods in heaven (i.e. polytheism) to the freedom of an earth governed exclusively by the one true God (i.e.the kingdom of God).  The deliverance through Moses was, of course, a type of, and thus foreshadowed, this far greater spiritual deliverance.

You can therefore think of the Law of Moses as the cornerstone of the Bible and the New Testament as its capstone, with all the writings in between representing the walls of that structure.  And a wonderful literary structure it is!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

How Long Did It Take to Write the Bible?

Of course, the Bible is not one book but rather a collection of writings.

Assuming Moses lived about 1,500 B.C., that would put roughly 1,500 years between the writing of the first book and the last book of the Bible.

This makes the patience of God in working out His plan of redemption truly staggering.  And all the more so when you consider that He was working through individuals (e.g. Enoch, Noah, and Abraham) for a couple of thousand years prior to anything being written for the Bible at all.

No wonder Peter said:

2 Peter 3:8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

Time is no barrier to God’s faithfulness.  Man forgets his promises, but God does not forget His.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Even Old Testament Writers Considered Prior Old Testament Times as Ancient

Yesterday we saw how the New Testament generation considered Old Testament generations as ancient.  Today we can see how some Old Testament writers similarly looked backed to prior biblical writers as “ancient.”

Consider how Jeremiah referred to ancient ways:

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the LORD,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

And here is Isaiah, speaking of times well before his own:

Isaiah 37:26 “Have you not heard?
Long ago I did it,
From ancient times I planned it.
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps.

And even Joshua looked back to times he and his contemporaries considered ancient:

Joshua 24:2 Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.

Of course, there is nothing strange about this.  Isaiah and Jeremiah lived over 500 years before New Testament times.  Joshua lived over 500 years before Isaiah and Jeremiah.  And Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived almost 500 years before Joshua wrote what we read above.

We only have to think about how much difference going 500 years back from our own time makes in the way ideas are communicated to understand how various writers for the Bible had to relate to each other’s writings.

This makes the promises of God being fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth all the more amazing.  I’m speaking of His patience in working out salvation for us.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

The New Testament Generation Considered the Old Testament Writings as Ancient

We think of the Bible as ancient.  But we do well remember that it is a collection of many different writings produced at different times.  Thus the New Testament generation considered all the scriptures that had been produced to that point (i.e. the Old Testament) as itself constituting ancient literature.  For example, just because we consider Jeremiah ancient doesn’t mean that Jesus, Peter, and Paul didn’t think of him as ancient, too.  Consider the following New Testament descriptions of the Old Testament writings:   [Emphasis added.]

Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’

Luke 1:70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old

Acts 3:19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
Acts 3:20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,
Acts 3:21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

Acts 15:21 “For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
Romans 16:26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
Romans 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,

Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
Hebrews 1:2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

It is thus all the more significant that the New Testament generation saw the messianic prophecies as altogether vibrantly descriptive of Jesus of Nazareth – His life, death, and resurrection.  Jesus was not fulfilling promises of a recent vintage, but rather promises that had been on the books for a long, long time.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

How Important Was the New Testament Generation?

Paul wrote to the believers in Rome:

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

That makes the New Testament generation very, very important.  Paul is saying that whatever – yes, whatever was written in Scripture – was written for their instruction.  To have the whole Old Testament written for your generation makes your generation monumentally special.

Peter reinforces the point:

1 Peter 1:10-12 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things into which angels long to look.

It is thus clear that all the prophets’ writings were written not primarily for consumption by contemporaries of the prophets, but rather for the New Testament generation.

Even so, the New Testament generation was even more important than this would suggest.  Again, we turn to Paul:

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

The context of “these things happened” are the extraordinary events associated with Israel’s exodus from Egypt.  Thus not only were the Old Testament scriptures written for the New Testament generation, but even extraordinary things that happened in the Old Testament happened so that they could be written in the Old Testament for the benefit of the New Testament generation.

We often think of the Bible as a book for the ages – and, as the word of God, it certainly is.  But there is one generation for whom the Old Testament was primarily written: the New Testament generation.

What made them worth this distinction?  They were the generation that would be contemporaneous with the Messiah…and therefore called upon to bear witness to His life, death, and resurrection.  We can be forever grateful to Paul, Peter, and the rest of that generation that  they stepped up to the task and did not disappoint.

They were truly the greatest generation.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

The New Testament Church Was Transitional Israel

The church of the New Testament was unique.  It was not like ancient Israel which preceded it; neither was it like any of the churches that followed it.  The New Testament church was spiritual Israel – the final generation of an Israel we could see with our physical eyes.

The Israel of God today – that is, those who hear Him and do His will – are governed by Christ from heaven.  They answer to no earthly authority.  (See The Lord Is Our Pastor.)

The church of the New Testament was thus that intermediate stage between ancient Israel, governed by its kings and priests, and the kingdom of God (that is, the Israel of God), governed by its King and Priest Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let us try to imitate neither the practices of ancient Israel as described in the Old Testament, nor the practices of the church as described in the New Testament.  It is the faith that motivated both that we should imitate (Hebrews 13:7).  Outward rituals (church going, baptism, communion) are to be discarded.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Peter Left Us the Keys to the Kingdom

Peter reached a point in his life when he realized that it would soon be over, yet the coming kingdom of God was still on the horizon.  Of course, we know that the kingdom came just as Peter said it would.  However, on the eve of that brief period of time between his impending death (2 Peter 1:12-15) and the coming of that kingdom, Peter penned these words which are the keys that unlock, and give access to, that kingdom for all time [emphasis added]:

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
2 Peter 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
2 Peter 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
2 Peter 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
2 Peter 1:11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Peter has laid out the keys for all to use.  If any group says that they possesses the keys and that you must come to them, they are missing the point.  The only person necessary to give you access to the kingdom of God is Jesus Christ.  And this is why He said:

John 14:6 …”I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Christ – not the church – is mediator between God and men.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Dying Before Entering the Promised Land

As Moses brought the Lord’ people to the entrance of the promised land but could not enter with them, so Peter, Paul, and other disciples brought the Lord’s people to the entrance of the the kingdom of God but could not enter with them.  The Lord’s apostles – like the prophets before them – were chosen to die giving testimony to the Lord.  Thus their testimony is sealed by their blood, that we might have a sure and certain word of Christ from them.

Let us enter the kingdom knowing what great prices were paid to make clear the path to admission.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Both Peter and Paul Realized at the End That They Would Not Last Until the Coming of the Lord

The original disciples of Jesus always knew that death was an occupational hazard of the ministry they had received from the Lord.  After all, He had been killed – why should they escape such a fate?

Specifically, Jesus had said to them:

Matthew 16:28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

In Peter’s first letter, you can tell that he has his hope fixed on the Lord’s coming.  See especially 1 Peter 5:1-4.  But by his second letter, he seems acutely aware of that he will die in service to the cause even before the soon approaching moment of the Lord’s coming.  See 2 Peter 1:12-15.

Similarly, Paul at first speaks with great expectation and passion of the Lord’s coming.  See Philippians 3:10-14 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.  But then he says after having become an “aged” man (Philemon 1:9) to Timothy that “the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Peter had known in advance that this would be his fate (John 21:18:23).  Neither is it likely that Paul was surprised by this outcome (Acts 9:16; 21:13).  However, it was surely a poignant moment when they both came within sight of that kingdom to which they would not enter as living.  The comfort was that they would not lie asleep for very long at all before they were raised to be with Him in that very kingdom.

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

The Murder of Christ Should Not Have Surprised

In at least one sense, those first-century Jews who believed in Jesus should not have been surprised that He was rejected by the authorities and killed.  Why?  Because this had been the standard fate for the prophets of Israel as far back as anyone could remember.

Stephen spoke about how the prophets had been killed (Acts 7:52).

Paul talked about how the prophets had been killed (1 Thessalonians 2:15).

And long before them both, Elijah had spoken of how the prophets had been killed (1 Kings 19:10, 14).

And, of course, Jesus spoke of how the prophets had been killed (Matthew 23:31, 35; Luke 11:50-51)

For this reason, Jesus could ask His disciples in the wake of His resurrection about why they stumbled at His crucifixion:

“O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things…”  –  Luke 24:25-26

For just a few verses earlier they had been talking to a stranger, telling him about:

Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.”  –  Luke 24:19-20

Since they considered Jesus a prophet, why should they have been surprised that He experienced a prophet’s fate?

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

The Day of the Lord Is a Day of Judgment…and a Day of Deliverance

Notice in this passage from Malachi that the day of the Lord is good for some and bad for others:

Malachi 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”
Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
Malachi 4:3 “You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 4:4 “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.
Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
Malachi 4:6 “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

We see that same distinction between good and bad experiences in the following passage from Paul’s second letter to the believers in Thessalonica:

2 Thessalonians 1:9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
2 Thessalonians 1:10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed–for our testimony to you was believed.

As Peter said:

1 Peter 4:18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?

Thus we should recognize that walking with the Lord means being protected in a dangerous place.  Thus comes this admonition from the Lord:

Jeremiah 45:5 ‘But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh,’ declares the LORD, ‘but I will give your life to you as booty in all the places where you may go.'”

Or as David more famously said in the 23rd Psalm:

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Let us therefore heed this admonition that we might be a blessing to others:

Jude 1:22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
Jude 1:23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

For:

Isaiah 33:14 Sinners in Zion are terrified;
Trembling has seized the godless.
“Who among us can live with the consuming fire?
Who among us can live with continual burning?”
Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity,
He who rejects unjust gain
And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe;
He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed
And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil;

Therefore:

James 5:19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,
James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Remembering:

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

The kingdom of God is thus life in the midst of death, light in the midst of darkness, fullness in the midst of emptiness, morality in the midst of immorality, truth in the midst of lies, true hope in the midst of many false hopes.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

The Day

Consider the following scriptures.  What is this great day of which they speak?  [Emphasis added throughout.]

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Romans 13:12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near…

2 Peter 1:19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

The Scriptures refer to this day not just as “the day,” but also that “that day.”

Isaiah 2:11 The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

Isaiah 2:17 The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day,

This day is also called “the day of the Lord.”

1 Thessalonians 5:2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

2 Thessalonians 2:2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Not surprisingly, it is also called “the day of the Lord Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 5:5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

There are variations, of course, like “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 1:8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And there are, too, related forms such as “the day of Christ Jesus” and, for short, “the day of Christ.”

Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

Philippians 2:16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

This “day” is the day in which we find ourselves.  We must learn how to live in it, for it is a day of judgment.  Here’s the entirety of the fourth and final chapter of the prophet Malachi:

Malachi 4:1-6 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.  But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.  You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.  “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.  Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.  He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

Note that in this passage, “the day” is also called “the great and terrible day of the Lord.”  And especially note what makes it day instead of night:  “the sun of righteousness.”  He is the One who rose…from the dead, to light our way.  Let us walk in the light of the Lord, that is, in the light of the day He has made:

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Psalm 118:24

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Of what “day” does this scripture speak?  The same “day” which was about to dawn on Paul:

Romans 13:12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near…

And the same day that was about to dawn on Peter:

2 Peter 1:19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

Paul and Peter lived long ago.  The day of which they spoke, therefore, has dawned.  This is the day in which we live – that is, the eternal day of the Lord.  Let us therefore walk in in the light of His day!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Acts 2:42

Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

When we think of “the apostles’ teaching” we usually think of the New Testament.  That’s not wrong.  However, the New Testament did not exist at the time this passage is describing.  To the degree that the apostles used texts for their teaching, it would have been what we call the Old Testament (or the Hebrew Bible).

In the early days of the church, the apostles were teaching from the Old Testament because it was the only Scripture that they had.  Thus the apostles taught the things Jesus had taught them.  That is, they included their testimony about all that they saw Him do and teach before and after His resurrection, and they used the Old Testament as the “outline” and “commentary” for that testimony .

This means that the apostles referred to passages like Psalm 110:1, Psalm 118:22, Isaiah 53, Daniel 7:13-14, Joel 2, and many others.  Many of these Old Testament verses show up in the gospels and epistles that comprise the New Testament.  But we can be sure that the apostles  also taught Jesus from many Old Testament passages that do not show up in the New Testament*.  This is because they did most of their teaching orally over several decades and therefore the New Testament could only represent a small fraction of what they had to teach about Jesus from the Old Testament.  Moreover, Jesus had made clear to them that all of Scripture testified about Him (John 5:39).  Consider together, for example, John 21:25 and Luke 24:27, 44-45 and think about how much more there is to be found of Jesus in the Old Testament!  (In this regard, see The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory.)

For more on the apostles’ teaching, see:

The Apostles’ Teaching

What Was “the Apostles’ Teaching”?

What Did the Holy Spirit Have to Do with “the Apostles’ Teaching”?

“The Apostles’ Teaching” Is the Lord’s Teaching

[*The NASB, as well as some other English translations, shows these quotations in all capital letters so they can be more easily recognized for what they are; such translations also will cite the “address” of the Old Testament quotation in a marginal reference.  These devices help us to better appreciate just how much the New Testament teaching of the apostles is rooted in the Old Testament teaching of the prophets.]

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

As the Rejected Stone Became the Cornerstone, so the Father Became the Son

Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.

God was experiencing rejection from His creation.  He turned the other cheek and came closer to us by donning human flesh.  He did this to demonstrate His great love for us.  That is, God became Jesus of Nazareth, the Creator became one of us.

In executing this transformation of Himself, God was dying to who He was in our lives, that He might live to who He wanted to be in our lives:  our Savior, our Deliverer, our Rescuer, our Champion, our Hero…our All in All.

God put Himself through this for our sake.  He wanted the dead stones (that is, we were dead to Him) to become a living stones (that is, we could become alive to Him through Christ).

God became Christ.  O blessed Creator, what wonders You perform!

For more on this metamorphosis from God to Christ, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Jesus Was a Prophet

The Scriptures show us that Jesus was recognized by His contemporaries as a prophet before He was recognized as the Messiah.  [Emphasis added; New Testament verses are first, then Old Testament.]

Matthew 13:57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”

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Matthew 21:11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

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Matthew 21:46 When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.

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Mark 6:4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”

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Mark 6:15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”

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Luke 4:24 And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.

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Luke 9:7-8 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again.

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Luke 9:19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”

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Luke 13:33 “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.

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Luke 24:19 And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people,

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John 4:19 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

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John 4:44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

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John 7:40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.”

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John 7:52 They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”

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John 9:17 So they *said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”

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Acts 3:22 “Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you.

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Acts 7:37 “This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’

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Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.