Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Did Jerome Change His Mind On The Apocrypha?

                                                          By Ray Aviles

[I have known Ray Aviles quite a few years now, and I've always been impressed by his work and discussions on Roman Catholic doctrine. A few years back, I read him in dialog with a Roman Catholic on Jerome and the Apocrypha. It was so compelling, I never forgot about it, so I've asked him to write on it here. This is a good one to bookmark- James].

There’s an argument going around the Catholic apologetic circles claiming that Jerome changed his position on the Apocrypha later in his life. That he came to accept these books as inspired because of the “judgment of the churches” on this matter. Furthermore, they claim the evidence of this lies in his citing these books using the word “Scripture” to define them. RC apologist Mark Shea provides an example of this in an Envoy Magazine article (found here: He writes:

"In his later years St. Jerome did indeed accept the Deuterocanonical books of the Bible. In fact, he wound up strenuously defending their status as inspired Scripture, writing, "What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Son of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume (ie. canon), proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I wasn't relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us" (Against Rufinus 11:33 [A.D. 402]). In earlier correspondence with Pope Damasus, Jerome did not call the deuterocanonical books unscriptural, he simply said that Jews he knew did not regard them as canonical. But for himself, he acknowledged the authority of the Church in defining the canon. When Pope Damasus and the Councils of Carthage and Hippo included the deuterocanon in Scripture, that was good enough for St. Jerome. He "followed the judgment of the churches."

Shea not only claims that Jerome accepted them, but that he “strenuously” defended them. A word used to intrigue the reader, but there is no evidence that he defended them, let alone “strenuously.” Furthermore, from the citation above, he states that Jerome followed the “judgment of the churches”, which Shea translates as the synods of Hippo and Carthage, but he is mistaken. Contextually, the “judgment of the churches” refers to Theodotion’s translation of Daniel which the churches were using instead of the Septuagint version. To add to this, he couldn’t have followed Carthage considering they met 17 years after Jerome penned the above. Both Hippo and Carthage were regional councils, didn’t speak for the entire church, thus it wasn’t mandated that Jerome submit to their decisions. Yet, it was Theodotion’s version Jerome refers to when he mentions the “judgment of the churches” and not their decision on canon:

"In reference to Daniel my answer will be that I did not say that he was not a prophet; on the contrary, I confessed in the very beginning of the Preface that he was a prophet. But I wished to show what was the opinion upheld by the Jews; and what were the arguments on which they relied for its proof. I also told the reader that the version read in the Christian churches was not that of the Septuagint translators but that of Theodotion. It is true, I said that the Septuagint version was in this book very different from the original, and that it was condemned by the right judgment of the churches of Christ; but the fault was not mine who only stated the fact, but that of those who read the version. We have four versions to choose from: those of Aquila, Symmachus, the Seventy, and Theodotion. The churches choose to read Daniel in the version of Theodotion. What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book. I said therefore, "As to which this is not the time to enter into discussion." Otherwise from the fact that I stated that Porphyry had said many things against this prophet, and called, as witnesses of this, Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinarius, who have replied to his folly in many thousand lines, it will be in his power to accuse me for not baring written in my Preface against the books of Porphyry. If there is any one who pays attention to silly things like this, I must tell him loudly and free that no one is compelled to read what he does not want; that I wrote for those who asked me, not for those who would scorn me, for the grateful not the carping, for the earnest not the indifferent. Still, I wonder that a man should read the version of Theodotion the heretic and judaizer, and should scorn that of a Christian, simple and sinful though he may be.

The issue was Theodotion’s (a known heretic) translation of Daniel which was being used by the churches. The translation was faulty, wasn’t based on the Septuagint, and condemned by the “right judgment of the churches”, but the reader can see that this in no way applies to the decision on canon made at the local councils of Hippo and Carthage.

Jerome goes on to say that he is merely stating Jewish opinion against these books. Although this was the view he espoused, he was not the originator, and it put him in the uncomfortable position of arguing with the Jews on this. J.N.D. Kelly expounds:

"Jerome, conscious of the difficulty of arguing with Jews on the basis of books they spurned and anyhow regarding the Hebrew original as authoritative, was adamant that anything not found in it was ‘to be classed among the apocrypha’, not in the canon; later he grudgingly conceded that the Church read some of these books for edification, but not to support doctrine." [J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper, 1960), p. 55].

He was further riled by the fact that the churches followed the translation of a known heretic instead of a Christian such as himself. As an aside, Shea wrongfully associates Pope Damasus as being in agreement with the alleged “decision” at Hippo and Carthage, but Damasus died in 384 A.D, nine years before Hippo (393) and thirteen years before Carthage (397).

Shea continues with the usual RC apologetic misrepresentations against Martin Luther, naming him as the culprit who excluded the deuterocanonicals (Jim Swan did a wonderful job of putting the proper perspective on Luther and the canon here) Yet, I’ve always found this to be odd reasoning considering the Roman Catholic canon wasn’t decided until Trent. Cardinal Cajetan (the same one who opposed Luther) and Cardinal Ximenes, both contemporaries of the era, wrote against the canonicity of these books as well. Further, there was opposition within Trent regarding these books, spearheaded by the group led by Giralamo Cardinal Seripando (for more information on this, read Hubert Jedin’s Cardinal Seripando, Papal Legate at Trent). The mere fact that there was opposition at Trent substantiates that no canon was in effect where the “judgment of the churches” would authoritatively bind the Catholic to the decision at Hippo and Carthage.

Shea reiterates his error here:

"As St. Jerome said, it is upon the basis of "the judgment of the churches" and no other that the canon of Scripture is known, since the Scriptures are simply the written portion of the Church's apostolic tradition."

Again, Shea is embellishing Jerome’s statements regarding the “judgment of the churches” to mean something that it isn’t. As I’ve already shown, contextually, Jerome is saying something else entirely. Yet, Shea isn’t the only one who tries to make Jerome pro-deuteros. Some Catholic apologists play more loosely with Jerome’s words. An apologist who calls himself “Matt1618” asserts in his internet article “Did Some Church Fathers Reject the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture” (found here: that Jerome did indeed show an acceptance of these books because he never denied them inspiration and he called them “Scripture” in his later writings. This is merely “reading between the lines” in an attempt to find something more favorable to his position. He states:

"In fact it is true that none of the Fathers, even St. Jerome, ever deny their inspiration."

I don’t know how “Matt1618” would define this “denial”, but all this amounts to wishful thinking. To put it simply, what Jerome states in his prefaces and commentaries amounts to a denial of their inspiration as well as their canonicity. To put it plainly, if Jerome states that a book isn’t canonical it is only because Jerome doesn’t believe it is inspired. Scripture is “God-breathed” and men wrote as they were inspired of God. Inspired books are in the canon because they came from the very mouth of God. It defeats the purpose of the canon if some “God-breathed” Scriptures are included and others aren’t. If a book is not in the canon, it is because it is not inspired. In essence, “Matt1618” is implying that Jerome didn’t see “inspiration” as the criterion for inclusion into the canon and that a book can be “inspired” and “Scripture” and, for whatever reasons, be outside of the canon. In his commentary on Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus, Jerome states:

"As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two Volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church."

According to Jerome, these books are ecclesiastical, capable of spiritual teaching, but cannot be used for supporting church doctrine. This begs the question: Since when is known Scripture not to be used for supporting doctrine? Even Scripture itself attests:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Furthermore, Jerome, emphatically states in his preface to the books of Samuel and Kings:

"This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a "helmeted" introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon."

In his preface to the Daniel he states:

"I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; because, however, they are to be found everywhere, we have formed them into an appendix, prefixing to them an obelus, and thus making an end of them, so as not to seem to the uninformed to have cut off a large portion of the volume."

Four things are to be noted here. The first being that the additions weren’t in the Hebrew Scriptures; secondly, that Jerome calls Bel and the Dragon a “fable”; thirdly, that they were appended to his Vulgate; and fourthly, that they were marked with an “obelus” which is a critical symbol used in ancient manuscripts to mark a questionable passage. Nothing here reveals any indication that Jerome held, at least, the additions to be inspired Scripture.

Again, to Jerome, the extra books were “…not to give authority to the doctrines of the Church” and they “…are not in the canon.” Attempting to draw skepticism by claiming that he didn’t call them “uninspired” is leading the reader at best. Sure, they have some ecclesiastical value within them, but a book doesn’t need to be inspired or canonical to have ecclesiastical value. Although there are other passages from his writings that I can cite, I believe these suffice in showing that Jerome did not believe the Apocryphal books were inspired.

Next, “Matt1618” states there is evidence that Jerome did indeed cite these books and cited them “…approximately 55 times.” This is easy to refute. After all, if Paul can cite pagan writers such as Menander, Epimenedes, or Aratus, I’m sure Jerome can cite from these books which he claimed were good for the edification of the church as well as others. But “Matt 1618” goes further and says that he cited them as Scripture. He then goes to give a few selected quotes from Jerome:

(I am citing from his article, my comments are in black fonts and brackets)

Does not the SCRIPTURE say: 'Burden not thyself above thy power' [SIRACH 13:2] Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:207 [* Matt1618 is correct, Jerome does call this verse from Sirach “Scripture”, but one must question if what he means is in the “inspired” sense. Considering he has already stated that “Ecclesiasticus” (Sirach) is not to be used doctrinally (see above) we can assume that this is not the case]

Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: "wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’ [Wisdom 4:9]" Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion (Num. 11:16)? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age (Daniel 13:55-59, or Story of Susannah 55-59, only found in the Catholic Bibles) Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58 (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119 [* Matt1618 is reading too much into this citation, although he “cites” these books, citing them doesn’t mean he viewed them as “Scripture”, especially in light of the fact that he stated the books can be used “ecclesiastically”]

"I would cite the words of the psalmist: 'the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel 'I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] AND THOSE OF BARUCH,'Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] AND MANY OTHER PROCLAMATIONS MADE BY THE TRUMPETS OF THE PROPHETS." Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159 [* Same as above]

[It is true that a festival such as the birthday of Saint Peter should be seasoned with more gladness than usual;]still our merriment must not forget the limit set by Scripture, and we must not stray too far from the boundary of our wrestling-ground. Your presents, indeed, remind me of the sacred volume, for in it Ezekiel decks Jerusalem with bracelets, (Eze. 16:11) Baruch receives letters from Jeremiah,(Jer. 36, Bar. 6) and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove at the baptism of Christ.(Mt. 3:16) Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 31:2 (A.D. 384), in NPNF2, VI:45 [* In the beginning brackets, I added what “Matt1618” left out considering this adds context to the passage. If I would’ve left it exactly as he cited it, then it would seem as if this is one thought. However, the first “Scripture” is within the context of the festival of St. Peter. The second “sacred volume” is in the context of the presents given to Jerome. These are two thought and not one. Thus, when he cites Baruch, he isn’t specifically calling it Scripture and, again, Jerome could be citing it for its ecclesiastical value].

As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pitieth and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal: so in things wicked and sinful, the seeds within us give the impulse, and these are brought to maturity by the devil. When he sees that we are building upon the foundation of Christ, hay, wood, stubble, then he applies the match. Let us then build gold, silver, costly stones, and he will not venture to tempt us: although even thus there is not sure and safe possession. For the lion lurks in ambush to slay the innocent. [Sir. 27:5] "Potters' vessels are proved by the furnace, and just men by the trial of tribulation." And in another place it is written: [Sir. 2:1] "My son, when thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation." Again, the same James says: [James 3:22]"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." It was useless to warn them to add works to faith, if they could not sin after baptism. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, Book 2, 3 NPNF2, VI:390 [* Matt1618 makes the assumption that Jerome’s usage of the phrase “it is written” is being used in the biblical sense—that there is an air of Scriptural credibility within this phrase—but he never stops to think if Jerome simply meant that these citations were “written”, nothing more and nothing less).

"Yet the Holy Spirit in the thirty-ninth(9) psalm, while lamenting that all men walk in a vain show, and that they are subject to sins, speaks thus: "For all that every man walketh in the image."(Psalm 39:6) Also after David's time, in the reign of Solomon his son, we read a somewhat similar reference to the divine likeness. For in the book of Wisdom, WHICH IS INSCRIBED WITH HIS NAME, SOLOMON SAYS: "GOD CREATED MAN TO BE IMMORTAL, AND MADE HIM TO BE AN IMAGE OF HIS OWN ETERNITY."(Wisdom 2:23) And again, about eleven hundred and eleven years afterwards, we read in the New Testament that men have not lost the image of God. For James, an apostle and brother of the Lord, whom I have mentioned above--that we may not be entangled in the snares of Origen--teaches us that man does possess God's image and likeness. For, after a somewhat discursive account of the human tongue, he has gone on to say of it: "It is an unruly evil ... therewith bless we God, even the Father and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God."(James 3:8-9) Paul, too, the "chosen vessel,"(Acts 9:15) who in his preaching has fully maintained the doctrine of the gospel, instructs us that man is made in the image and after the likeness of God. "A man," he says, "ought not to wear long hair, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God."(1 Cor. 11:7) He speaks of "the image" simply, but explains the nature of the likeness by the word "glory."

7. Instead of THE THREE PROOFS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE which you said would satisfy you if I could produce them, BEHOLD I HAVE GIVEN YOU SEVEN"--- Jerome, Letter 51, NPNF2, VI:87-8 [* In context, Jerome gives more then seven Scriptures within this passage and there is no way of telling whether the citation from Wisdom is amongst the “seven”, but for the sake of argument we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know why “Matt1618”capitalizes “which is inscribed with his name” and I can only hope he isn’t implying that “his name” refers to God, thus indicating inspiration. On the contrary, this evidently refers to Solomon who it is said wrote this book].

A. "Your argument is ingenious, but you do not see THAT IT GOES AGAINST HOLY SCRIPTURE, which declares that even ignorance is not without sin. Hence it was that Job offered sacrifices for his sons, test, perchance, they had unwittingly sinned in thought. And if, when one is cutting wood, the axe-head flies from the handle and kills a man, the owner is[Num. 35:8] commanded to go to one of the cities of refuge and stay there until the high priest dies; that is to say, until he is redeemed by the Saviour's blood, either in the baptistery, or in penitence which is a copy of the grace of baptism, through the ineffable mercy of the Saviour, who[Ezek. 18:23] would not have any one perish, nor delights in the death of sinners, but would rather that they should be converted and live. C. It is surely strange justice to hold me guilty of a sin of error of which my conscience does not accuse itself. I am not aware that I have sinned, and am I to pay the penalty for an offence of which I am ignorant? What more can I do, if I sin voluntarily?

A. DO YOU EXPECT ME TO EXPLAIN THE PURPOSES AND PLANS OF GOD? THE BOOK OF WISDOM GIVES AN ANSWER TO YOUR FOOLISH QUESTION: [Sir 3:21] "LOOK NOT INTO THINGS ABOVE THEE, AND SEARCH NOT THINGS TOO MIGHTY FOR THEE." AND ELSEWHERE,[5] "Make not thyself overwise, and argue not more than is fitting." And in the same place, "In wisdom and simplicity of heart seek God." You will perhaps deny the authority of this book;" "Jerome, "Against the Pelagians, NPNF2, VI:464-5" [* He submits these together, but anyone can see that when Jerome refers to Scripture in the passage, he is referring to canonical Scripture (Job, Numbers, and Ezekiel). The citation from Sirach is independent of the above citation and there is no indication that Jerome cites it as Scripture].

"And in the proverbs Solomon tells us that as "the north wind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.(Prov. 25:23)" It sometimes happens that an arrow when it is aimed at a hard object rebounds upon the bowman, wounding the would-bewounder, and thus, the words are fulfilled, "they were turned aside like a deceitful bow," (Psalm 128:57) and in another passage: "whoso casteth a stone on high casteth it on his own head." (Sir. 27:25) Jerome, To Rusticus, Epistle 125, 19 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:251 [* Again, although Sirach is used in context alongside Scripture, it doesn’t prove much, especially in light of ecclesiastical usage]

9. Let me call to my aid the example of the three children, (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3) who, amid the cool, encircling fire, sang hymns, (Song of Three Holy Children, found only in Deuterocanonical portion of Daniel 3) instead of weeping, and around whose turbans and holy hair the flames played harmlessly. Let me recall, too, the story of the blessed Daniel, in whose presence, though he was their natural prey, the lions crouched, with fawning tails and frightened mouths.(Daniel 6) Let Susannah also rise in the nobility of her faith before the thoughts of all; who, after she had been condemned by an unjust sentence, was saved through a youth inspired by the Holy Ghost (Susanna 45, or Daniel 13:45). In both cases the Lord's mercy was alike shewn; for while Susannah was set free by the judge, so as not to die by the sword, this woman, though condemned by the judge, was acquitted by the sword. Jerome, Letter 1:9, NPNF2, VI:2 [* Jerome cites the additions to Daniel, but this doesn’t mean he cited this as inspired Scripture and not ecclesiastically]

6. I salute your mother and mine with the respect which, as you know, I feel towards her. Associated with you as she is in a holy life, she has the start of you, her holy children, in that she is your mother. Her womb may thus be truly called golden. With her I salute your sisters, who ought all to be welcomed wherever they go, for they have triumphed over their sex and the world, and await the Bridegroom's coming, (Mt. 25:4) their lamps replenished with oil. O happy the house which is a home of a widowed Anna, of virgins that are prophetesses, and of twin Samuels bred in the Temple! (Luke 2:36, Acts 21:9, 1 Sam. 2:18) Fortunate the roof which shelters the martyr-mother of the Maccabees, with her sons around her, each and all wearing the martyr's crown! (2 Macc. 7) For although you confess Christ every day by keeping His commandments, yet to this private glory you have added the public one of an open confession; for it was through you that the poison of the Arian heresy was formerly banished from your city. Jerome, to Chromatius, Jovinus, and Eusebius, Letter 7:6, NPNF2, VI:10[* Jerome cited a historical fact which happens to be recorded in 2 Maccabees 7. Citing history doesn’t make the history book “Scripture”]

But now that a virgin has conceived (Isa. 7:14) in the womb and has borne to us a child of which the prophet says that "Government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called the mighty God, the everlasting Father," (Isa. 9:6) now the chain of the curse is broken. Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary. And thus the gift of virginity has been bestowed most richly upon women, seeing that it has had its beginning from a woman. As soon as the Son of God set foot upon the earth, He formed for Himself a new household there; that, as He was adored by angels in heaven, angels might serve Him also on earth. Then chaste Judith once more cut off the head of Holofernes (Jud. 13).Then Haman--whose name means iniquity--was once more burned in fire of his own kindling (Est. 7:10) Then James and John forsook father and net and ship and followed the Saviour: neither kinship nor the world's ties, nor the care of their home could hold them back. Then were the words heard: "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) For no soldier goes with a wife to battle. Even when a disciple would have buried his father, the Lord forbade him, and said: "Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." (Mt. 8:20-22) So you must not complain if you have but scanty house-room. In the same strain, the apostle writes: "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married careth for the things of the world how she may please her husband." (1 Cor. 7:34-36). Jerome, to Eustochium, Letter 22:21, NPNF2, VI:30 [* Again, citing an apocryphal book doesn’t mean that Jerome viewed it as “Scripture” when he could be using it ecclesiastically]

For it is not ecclesiastical rank that makes a man a Christian. The centurion Cornelius was still a heathen when he was cleansed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Daniel was but a child when he judged the elders.( Dan. 13:55-63, or Susanna 55-63) Amos was stripping mulberry bushes when, in a moment, he was made a prophet (Amos 7:14) David was only a shepherd when he was chosen to be king.(2 Sam. 16:11-13) And the least of His disciples was the one whom Jesus loved the most. My brother, sit down in the lower room, that when one less honorable comes you may be bidden to go up higher (Luke 14:10). Jerome, to Heliodorus, Letter 14:9, NPNF2, VI:17. [* Jerome refers to a history recorded in Susanna. Again, nothing that would place Jerome as citing inspired Scripture]

These things, dearest daughter in Christ, I impress upon you and frequently repeat, that you may forget those things which are behind and reach forth unto those things which are before (Phil. 3:12). You have widows like yourself worthy to be your models, Judith renowned in Hebrew story (Jud. 13) and Anna the daughter of Phanuel (Lk 2) famous in the gospel. Both these lived day and night in the temple and preserved the treasure of their chastity by prayer and by fasting. One was a type of the Church which cuts off the head of the devil (Jud. 13:8) and the other first received in her arms the Saviour of the world and had revealed to her the holy mysteries which were to come (Lk 2:36-38). Jerome, to Salvina, Letter 79:10, NPNF2, VI:168 [* Jerome explicitly calls the Judith account a “Hebrew story”, but the account of Phanuel in Luke 2 he calls “the gospel.” If he were citing them both as Scripture, why classify Judith this way and contrast it to a gospel account? I think the answer is obvious].

To summarize, “Matt1618” has only one instance of Jerome calling an Apocryphal book “Scripture”, maybe two if we ease up a bit and include Jerome, Letter 51, NPNF2, VI:87-8. Yet, in neither of these instances do we have anything which would enthrall the reader into believing he accepted these books as inspired Scripture. J.N.D. Kelly sheds light on Jerome’s usage of these books and his usage of the word Scripture:

Jerome’s conversion to ‘the Hebrew verity’ [i.e. in contrast to the LXX] carried with it an important corollary—his acceptance also of the Hebrew canon, or list of books properly belonging to the Old Testament. Since the early Church had read its Old Testament in Greek, it had taken over without question the so-called Alexandrian canon used in the Greek-speaking Jewish communities outside Palestine. This had included those books (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, etc.) which are variously described as deuterocanonical or as the Apocrypha. Around the end of the first century, however, official Judaism had formally excluded these, limiting the canon to the books which figure in English Bibles as the Old Testament proper. Since Origen’s time it had been recognised that there was a distinction between the Jewish canon and the list acknowledged by Christians, but most writers preferred to place the popular and widely used deutero-canonical books in a special category (e.g. calling them ‘ecclesiastical’) rather than to discard them. Jerome now takes a much firmer line. After enumerating the ‘twenty-two’ (or perhaps twenty-four) books recognised by the Jews, he decrees that any books outside this list must be reckoned ‘apocryphal’: ‘They are not in the canon.’ Elsewhere, while admitting that the Church reads books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus which are strictly uncanonical, he insists on their being used solely ‘for edifying the people, not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical’. This was the attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life—in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture. Again what chiefly moved him was the embarrassment he felt at having to argue with Jews on the basis of books which they rejected or even (e.g. the stories of Susanna, or of Bel and the Dragon) found frankly ridiculous. J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), pp. 160-161.

RC apologists, those who argue this way, are merely using sophistry to recreate Jerome and place him on the side of the Deuterocanonicals, but the evidence really doesn’t give them much to stand on. I guess this is due to the fact that Jerome is one of the Doctors of the Church and he happened to disagree that these books were inspired Scripture. It is a source of embarrassment to them so they attempt to salvage whatever they can and find themselves reading “between the lines” of his writings in a futile attempt to win him back. There is no record showing that Jerome had a change of heart regarding these books and the very fact that scholarly clergymen, such as the aforementioned Cardinals, used Jerome’s position as a catalyst for their own disagreements with these books shows an understanding that he never wavered, never changed his position. But some RC apologists choose to blind themselves from the facts.

In conclusion, Augustine, who was a contemporary of Jerome, advocated the Apocryphal books and used his weighty suffrage to influence the African synods (Hippo and Carthage), but his appeal to them was strictly emotional and, as evidenced in the City of God, he used folklore to gain acceptance of these books. Regarding canon issues and languages, it was Jerome who was the canon scholar and not Augustine. In their correspondence on the issue of the Latin translation (dated 404 AD), Jerome chides Augustine for misunderstanding the nuances of his translations (see here: Augustine chose not to side with Jerome, but continued to push the Septuagint over the Hebrew, even though the Septuagint itself was translated into Greek from the Hebrew. Augustine’s adherence to the LXX was based on the story of the “Seventy” which were the 72 Jewish translators who translated the Hebrew into the Greek language. Augustine tells the story of how these men worked separately in cells and when they compared their manuscripts, they were uniform in every detail, word for word. Jerome calls the story of the cells “fables” and made up, but Augustine claimed that because they worked under the same Spirit, they were led in this endeavor, thus proving the LXX to be of God. What Augustine either didn’t understand or ignored is that the “Seventy” only translated the first 5 books of Moses, the Pentateuch. In the website “The Septuagint Online” states:

Philo of Alexandria (fl. 1st c CE) confirms that only the Torah was commissioned to be translated, and some modern scholars have concurred, noting a kind of consistency in the style of the Greek Penteteuch [sic]. Over the course of the next three centuries, however, other books of the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek in an order that is not altogether clear. By observing technical terms and translation styles, by comparing the Greek versions to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and by comparing them to Hellenistic literature, scholars are trying to stitch together a history of the translations that eventually found their way into collections. It seems that sometimes a Hebrew book was translated more than once, or that a particular Greek translation was revised. In other cases, a work was composed afresh in Greek, yet was included in the collection of scriptures (from

Only the Pentateuch was translated by the “Seventy” and Augustine truly had no clear reasoning in accepting the Septuagint and the books not found in the Hebrew text. It would seem he influence men through the use of quaint myths or hearsay, but as for Jerome he was resolute and never changed his mind, never follow a “decision” made by the councils influenced by Augustine and, most obviously, he never felt the need to. Jerome denied both the inspiration and the canonicity of the added books and no amount of historical revision will change the facts.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Christian Examination Of The LGBT Flag

      Most people are familiar with Almighty God's covenantal promise to never flood the world, which was proclaimed back in the days of Noah after the Genesis flood. This worldwide flood was used as a means of executing judgment for mankind's transgressions against Him. Afterwards, He used a rainbow as a covenant symbol to make the promise to never cast judgement on the human race in the same manner again (Genesis 6:5-8; 8:20-22; 9:11, 12:9-17). Sadly, however, the LGBT community has developed a new method for mocking God's wonderful promise to mankind through the innovation of a flag that displays only six of the seven colors of the rainbow.
        Having its origin in the State of California by artist Gilbert Baker, this flag was designed by the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transsexuals to represent their own diverse values through the Gay Pride Movement, which has now been popularized throughout the globe. 

      What is striking about this flag is that its colors mock that of God's covenantal promise, the rainbow, to mankind to never again flood the whole earth. While God's rainbow has seven different colors, the LGBT flag only has six colors of the rainbow. It is missing the color indigo. Not only does the symbolism of the flag contain six out the seven different colors of the rainbow, but it is also important to recognize that the number six is the spiritual number for fallen man and that seven is God's spiritual number. From a biblically grounded standpoint, the LGBT movement can readily be seen as mockery of the Divine Creator.

        Notice that the entire logical foundation of the Gay Pride Movement has been built entirely on pride and self-promotion through wild parades, festivals, clownish apparel, and imagery on public business signs or logos. Furthermore, radical members of the LGBT community have literally fought to silence all forms of disagreement, regardless of whether objections are established on medical or religions grounds. The LGBT community is readily getting the attention that it wants because so many people are too afraid to be called haters or bigots. Most people of our society are focused on "not offending" other people. This all constitutes a violation of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

       The LGBT notion of pride is contrary to everything that the Bible states regarding humility. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (Psalm 138:6; Proverbs 3:34; James 4:5). The people who exalt themselves will be humbled (Matthew 23:12). We need to humble ourselves before God and repent (James 4:7-8). He absolutely detests pride (Proverbs 8:13). Not only does the LGBT community display much arrogance, but it is also important to note that Scripture emphatically condemns homosexuality. While it is true that God promised to never again cast judgment on the people of this world by means of a global flood, He never stated that He would not judge us again. In fact, we have been told that we shall have to render an account for all of our past deeds to Him (Romans 14:12). God's rainbow was meant to serve as a symbol of remembrance, not as a means of pride. He will not tolerate mockery. He will not tolerate the celebration of sin. Thus, all faithful Christians have been called to speak out against the LGBT flag.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Centering Our Lives Around The Will Of God

“Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us.”

Billy Graham, Billy Graham in Quotes

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Damning Historical Facts Regarding The Papacy

                                                     By John Bugay

Citing Oscar Cullmann, “the principle of succession cannot be justified either from Scripture or from the history of the ancient Church” (from “Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr”, Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 2nd Edition, © 1962, pg 242).

There is no trace of “primacy” in one of Rome’s strongest “proof texts”, the first-century letter of “First Clement” (96 AD).

In that letter, “Pope Clement”, traditionally held to be the writer, is never mentioned. The address is “from the church of God at Rome” to “the church of God at Corinth”, implying equal status between the two.

Further, the letter is written in the style, common in that culture, of a persuasion letter between churches that are equals, not in a “commanding” tone, as some Roman Catholics have represented it.

The next point reinforces this assessment of “First Clement”:

There was no “bishop” of Rome until well beyond the year 150 AD.

In 150 AD, a contemporary writer, in “The Shepherd of Hermas”, confirms that the Roman church is still overseen by a plurality of “elders”. Moreover, these “elders” fought among themselves and brought scandal to the church.

Hermas, wrote: “But you yourself will read [my book] to this city [Rome], along with the elders (“presbuteroi” in the original Greek) who preside (proistamenoi – plural leadership) over the church.” (Vis 2.4). Hermas could not be more clear. There is a plurality of presbyters who “preside over” the church at Rome. There is no one person in charge.

But more, he urged them,

“I say to you [tois – plural] who lead the church and occupy the seats of honor: do not be like the sorcerers … You carry your drug and poison in your heart. You are calloused and do not want to cleanse your hearts and to mix your wisdom together in a clean heart, in order that you may have mercy from the great King.

Watch out, therefore, children, lest these divisions of yours [among you elders] deprive you of your life. How is it that you desire to instruct God’s elect, while you yourselves have no instruction? Instruct one another, therefore, and have peace among yourselves,”

We’ve seen Jesus admonish this behavior when the disciples themselves “argued among themselves as to who was greatest”. Nor does Hermas attribute any gift of “infallibility” to these elders, who themselves “have no instruction”.

There was no “papacy” for the first three centuries, and when Roman “bishops” tried to exert “authority” based on some connection to Peter, they were severely reprimanded by other bishops.

Cyprian, in his Letter 73, he wrote of Stephen, who was claiming to be a “successor of Peter”, that “more and more observe his error”. Further, Cyprian accused Stephen of “bitter obstinacy” (letter 73).

His fellow bishop Firmilian said of Stephen (Letter 74) that he “has not done anything deserving of kindness and thanks” In the next sentence he compares Stephen with Judas, guilty of “perfidy” and “treachery” having “wickedly dealt concerning the Saviour” – as Stephen himself claimed that he “had been the cause of such great advantages, that through him the world and the people of the Gentiles were delivered by the Lord’s passion”. Those were bold claims, and they were swiftly rebuked.

A Regional Council openly stated that there was “no bishop of bishops”: This is from The Seventh Council of Carthage under Cyprian:

“For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another.”

The Council of Nicaea (325 AD) ascribed only regional “oversight” to the Roman church – and that because of “custom”, not “divine institution”.

Later councils, both Constantinople (381 AD) and Chalcedon (451 AD) held that the Roman church should be honored not because of a “divine institution” but because it was “the old Capital” of the empire.

In fact, the second ecumenical council, Constantinople I, was called in 381. The bishops of this council met, decided the issues, and adjourned without the “pope” at the time, Damasus I (366-384), ever having been notified that a council was being held.

It wasn’t until the 4th and 5th centuries that Roman “primacy” began to take shape, as early bishops modeled themselves after Roman senators.

In short, while these Roman “bishops” wanted to emphasize their own importance, no one else in the world wanted to recognize it.

Other churches throughout the world were kind and deferential in the face of Roman bishops asserting their own importance. But up through the 5th and 6th centuries, no one believed them. Only with the backing of Roman Imperial power and money could the claims stick.

Ultimately, “Pope Leo I” made the claims stick by relying on Roman adoption law to affirm that he had all “the same rights, authority and obligations as the one he replaced”. 400 years after the death of Peter.

There are, in fact, Biblical guidelines as to who may be a “bishop” (“overseer”) and what the lives of those individuals ought to be like.

Further, the metaphor “Roman adoption law” was not used in early centuries to justify “the papacy”. In fact, the second century writer Irenaeus uses “adoption law” to characterize the relationships between Christ and humans:

“the Son of God was made a son of a human that through him we might receive adoption—humanity bearing and receiving and embracing the Son of God” (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies”, 3.16.3).

Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword

  • Scripture Passage Being Examined:
           -"Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account." (Hebrews 4:12-13)
  • Commentary On Hebrews 4:12-13:
           -In short, this beautifully vivid passage of Scripture testifies to the infinite power of God. It is saying that the words of God will not return to Him void. Thus, they are described in Hebrews 4:12-13 as being sharper than any double-edged sword. They penetrate to the innermost part of the human being, the soul. They slash directly through every physical component of the human body to discern the heart of man. In other words, God knows every thought and intention of our hearts that are concealed from the visible sight of other people. His words pierce directly through the natural realm into the supernatural realm. Every good or evil incentive that is currently hidden within the chamber of the human conscience is visible to God. Nothing can be hidden from Him. He knows everything. He is all powerful. He is present everywhere. We will eventually have to give account to God for all of our deeds. So we need to be cautious of our thoughts and actions daily to ensure that they remain in accordance to His divine will.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Much Needed Spiritual Nourishment For Our Youth

"The church is not in the business of entertaining young people, but calling them to discipleship in Christ and separation from the world and holiness of living. It is true that what you win them with you win them to. If a church use worldly means to win young people, those thus won will be worldly. If a church has an organized youth group, it must be very careful about the selection of those who lead the youth. Young people don’t need a “good times Charlie.” They don’t merely need another buddy who will pal around with them in fun and games. They get plenty of that. What they desperately need, and what the church is required by God to give them, are godly, spiritually mature people who will love them and show them the path of God’s perfect will, who will call them to reject the vain, “cool” ways of this present wicked world, who will challenge them to be pure, to pull down the worldly idols from their hearts, to give themselves wholly to the service of Jesus Christ while there is still time, to yield to Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."

David W. Cloud, Contemporary Christian Music Under the Spotlight, p. 201

A Christian Response To Transgenderism

        In today's society, much debate and perplexity has been emerging over some of the most basic questions of life. Unfortunately, many people have found themselves unable to answer questions with obvious answers such as their gender identity. While the Book of Genesis presents us with the very simplistic blueprint of gender identity as being either male or female, educators, psychiatrists, and politicians who subscribe to a liberal secularist worldview believe that it is morally impermissible for parents to be labeling their children as being boys or girls. In other words, leftist authorities are suggesting that things are not as they appear to our eyes (which defies basic logic). Thus, these people maintain that our children should have the right to choose their own personal gender identities (i.e. a male chooses to identify himself as being a female).

        What people need to recognize is that gender is a biological reality that is determined by our DNA. The same elementary scientific principle regarding the determination of gender is equally applicable to our race and hair color. The truth of the matter is that we cannot alter our gender, any more than we can choose to have different skin or hair colors. Furthermore, we know that only two different gender possibilities exist because only two different pairs of genitalia exist. There are only XX (female) and XY (male) genes. God has given us these bodily designs for the sake of human procreation. It follows from the premises of this argument that our gender identities cannot be based on mere emotions or preferences. If people can violate basic scientific laws by altering their gender, then why not also choose to become a squirrel or giraffe? Can a human being cease to be human? The only thing that medical procedures can do is change the outer appearance of people. To accept transgenderism as being morally acceptable is to reject the voice of reason.

        In all cases, truth must be affirmed. This obviously encompasses the natural gender identity of our children. In other words, males need to be taught male customs and females need to be taught female customs. Additionally, parents need to teach their children the difference between right and wrong (Proverbs 22:6). Otherwise, our world will end up becoming a state of hopeless confusion and disorder. Ever since the secular world has rejected the existence of objective moral truths (an eventual consequence of removing the Bible from our public school systems), our nation has slowly been falling into anarchy. Although any amount of conditioning through physical, psychological, or sexual abuse may cause a person to experience confusion regarding his or her gender identity, such struggles can be overcome through plenty of encouragement, discipline, and psychological training. We can assume, imagine, or have a desire to be a different gender, but having such mental inclinations does not change our internal genetic makeup, any more than saying, imagining, or wanting to be a giraffe actually makes us one. Our feelings are incapable of changing the truth.

        Before making a few closing statements, we should take some time to note the negative psychological effects of the transsexual ideology being promoted by the left. In 2016, the Obama Administration passed laws ordering the public school systems to allow members of the opposite sexes to share restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Since then, other public places such as grocery stores, parks, and universities have adopted the idea of using "transgender" bathrooms. Can anybody not see the inherent moral flaws of this ideology? First of all, any pervert can claim to be any random gender. Secondly, our right to privacy has been violated. Thirdly, the innocence of our children is at an elevated risk of being corrupted. And fourthly, it is evil to brainwash people into believing that they can choose to be a different gender only to be enslaved to a lifetime exposure of carcinogenic, toxic hormones. It is wrong to mutilate healthy functioning parts of the body.

        Should the Christian church make compromises for transgender reasoning? The emphatic answer to this question is no. God created mankind in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). He also called His creations "good" (Genesis 1:31). Us wanting to alter our gender is in a very real sense putting God to an open shame. In choosing to undergo gender reassignment procedures, one is essentially saying that He did an imperfect job in designing the universe (to be more specific, our bodies). We are putting ourselves in the place of the Creator, which is idolatry. The Bible teaches that God made male and female. That is an unchangeable reality. That is an undeniable truth. Shame on those who promote the pseudo-scientific, delusional ideology of transgenderism. As Romans 1:22 says, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sin Has Negative Consequences

        *Separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23)
        *Hardened heart (Romans 1:18-32; 2 Timothy 4:3-5)
        *Loss of peace, harmony, and happiness
        *Guilt, sorrow, and mental health problems
        *Loss of relationships (1 Corinthians 3:3)

Commentary On Genesis 3:16

tn The imperfect verb form is emphasized and intensified by the infinitive absolute from the same verb.

tn Heb “your pain and your conception,” suggesting to some interpreters that having a lot of children was a result of the judgment (probably to make up for the loss through death). But the next clause shows that the pain is associated with conception and childbirth. The two words form a hendiadys (where two words are joined to express one idea, like “good and angry” in English), the second explaining the first. “Conception,” if the correct meaning of the noun, must be figurative here since there is no pain in conception; it is a synecdoche, representing the entire process of childbirth and child rearing from the very start. However, recent etymological research suggests the noun is derived from a root הרר (hrr), not הרה (hrh), and means “trembling, pain” (see D. Tsumura, “A Note on הרוֹן (Gen 3, 16),” Bib 75 [1994]: 398-400). In this case “pain and trembling” refers to the physical effects of childbirth. The word עִצְּבוֹן (ʿitsvon, “pain”), an abstract noun related to the verb (עָצַב, ʿatsav), includes more than physical pain. It is emotional distress as well as physical pain. The same word is used in v. 17 for the man’s painful toil in the field.

tn Heb “and toward your husband [will be] your desire.” The nominal sentence does not have a verb; a future verb must be supplied, because the focus of the oracle is on the future struggle. The precise meaning of the noun תְּשׁוּקָה (tshuqah, “desire”) is debated. Many interpreters conclude that it refers to sexual desire here, because the subject of the passage is the relationship between a wife and her husband, and because the word is used in a romantic sense in Song 7:11 HT (7:10 ET). However, this interpretation makes little sense in Gen 3:16. First, it does not fit well with the assertion “he will dominate you.” Second, it implies that sexual desire was not part of the original creation, even though the man and the woman were told to multiply. And third, it ignores the usage of the word in Gen 4:7 where it refers to sin’s desire to control and dominate Cain. (Even in Song of Songs it carries the basic idea of “control,” for it describes the young man’s desire to “have his way sexually” with the young woman.) In Gen 3:16 the Lord announces a struggle, a conflict between the man and the woman. She will desire to control him, but he will dominate her instead. This interpretation also fits the tone of the passage, which is a judgment oracle. See further Susan T. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” WTJ 37 (1975): 376-83.

sn This passage is a judgment oracle. It announces that conflict between man and woman will become the norm in human society. It does not depict the NT ideal, where the husband sacrificially loves his wife, as Christ loved the church, and where the wife recognizes the husband’s loving leadership in the family and voluntarily submits to it. Sin produces a conflict or power struggle between the man and the woman, but in Christ man and woman call a truce and live harmoniously (Eph 5:18-32).

tn The Hebrew verb מָשַׁל (mashal) means “to rule over,” but in a way that emphasizes powerful control, domination, or mastery. This also is part of the baser human nature. The translation assumes the imperfect verb form has an objective/indicative sense here. Another option is to understand it as having a modal, desiderative nuance, “but he will want to dominate you.” In this case, the Lord simply announces the struggle without indicating who will emerge victorious.

Excerpt taken from the New English Translation

Does The Quran Encourage Violence?

                                             By Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Does the Quran encourage violence?


Yes. The Quran—the holy book of Islam that 1.3 billion Muslims believe to be the word of God—is replete with explicit and implicit sanction and promotion of armed conflict, violence, and bloodshed by Muslims. Read Surah 47:4 from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall:

Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).

Many other verses in the Quran forthrightly endorse armed conflict and war to advance Islam. Muslim historical sources themselves report the background details of those armed conflicts that have characterized Islam from its inception—including Muhammad’s own warring tendencies involving personal participation in and endorsement of military campaigns (cf. Lings, pp. 86,111). Muslim scholar Pickthall’s own summary of Muhammad’s war record is an eye-opener: “The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight” (n.d., p. xxvi).


Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).

Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Are The Religions Of Christianity And Islam Compatible?

  • Introduction:
          -The Islamic religion was established during the seventh century by an Arabian merchant named Muhammad. This man claimed that the angel Gabriel repeatedly visited him for the purpose of giving him divine revelation from God. Hence, Muhammad recorded the words of Allah, the Arabic name for God which is occupied by the Muslims, into the sacred religious text known to us as the Koran. He spread this new found ideological system through brutal conquest, torture, and execution. But the purpose of this article is to provide a basic listing of significant doctrinal contradictions between the religions of Christianity and Islam.
  • Contrasting Fundamental Christian and Muslim Doctrines:
          -While both religions profess monotheism, Islam denies the biblical concept of the Trinity, which teaches that one God exists in three separate, divine Persons (Matthew 28:19-20; John 10:30 Ephesians 4:4-6).
          -While Christianity affirms that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, is co-eternal with the Father, the Son of God, was crucified, and resurrected from the grave (1 Timothy 3:16; John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24; John 2:19-20; 20:26-28; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8), the religion of Islam flatly denies all of these essential Christian doctrines. Furthermore, Islam teaches that Jesus was only a good moral teacher who was subordinate to the prophet Muhammad.
          -While Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity who testifies in favor of Jesus Christ (John 14:26), Islam teaches that He is the angel Gabriel. Also, the Muslim religion calls Muhammad the "helper".
          -The Koran teaches that man is saved entirely on the basis of good works (For example, the mandatory completion of the Five Pillars--1. profession of Islamic faith, 2. daily prayer, 3.) almsgiving, 4. fasting during the month of Ramadan, and 5. pilgrimage to Mecca), denies original sin, and claims that we cannot have any assurance of eternal life after death. In fact, Muhammad himself was not even sure whether Allah would allow him enter heaven after death! On the contrary, the Bible teaches that we are saved by God's grace through our faith in Him alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16), affirms that we are spiritually bankrupt sinners (Romans 3:23; 5:12), and that we can have great assurance of eternal salvation (John 5:24; 1 John 5:13).
          -Islam teaches that God can contradict Himself, whereas Christianity teaches that God can only do what is good and what is right (NOT a limitation, but rather is a degree of absolute perfection).
          -In Christianity, heaven is for all people who were saved by the grace of God. It is complete, eternal unity with the divine Creator. However, to Muslims the place of paradise is a place of infinite debauchery, that is, where all worldly desires ranging from sexual pleasure to alcoholic consumption can be fulfilled.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Saul Did Not Change His Name To Paul

"As it turns out, “Saul”—derived from the famous first king of Israel, from the tribe of Benjamin, to which Saul/Paul himself belonged (Phil. 3:5)—is simply the Hebrew name for this person. “Paul”—a normal koine name—is his Greek name, derived from the Latin surname Paulus.

For someone born in Tarsus (Acts 21:39) but educated under Gamaliel in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3) in a strict form of Pharisaism (Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:5–6), this is not unusual. Much as many immigrants to English-speaking worlds take an Anglicized name on top of their ethnic name, many Greek-speaking Jews in Paul’s day would have a Jewish/Hebrew name and a Hellenistic/Greek name.

Here’s the smoking gun: When Paul recalls his conversion, he specifically notes that Jesus was “saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’” (Acts 26:14). Paul draws attention to how Jesus addressed him in his Hebrew name, and makes no mention that it is now abandoned.

When Saul/Paul launches his Gentile-focused ministry among primarily Greek-speakers (beginning with Acts 13:9), it’s natural for Luke, the author of Acts, to begin referring exclusively to him by his Greek name. Nor is it surprising that he’s later referred to as “Paul” in Jerusalem, since there were Greek speakers there too. Indeed, Luke could be making a thematic point by shifting from Saul to Paul around chapter 13, given the broader theme of Acts (e.g., 1:8). After all, the church’s nucleus is shifting from predominantly Jewish-centered Jerusalem to the Greek-centered “ends of the earth,” such as Rome.

The apostle’s two names is not unique. Several other figures in the New Testament have two given names: Joseph, later called Barnabas (Acts 4:36); Simeon, also called Niger (Acts 13:1); and Thomas, also called Didymus (John 21:2); among others."

Monday, June 19, 2017

No Condemnation In Christ Jesus

There is, therefore, now - This is connected with the closing verses of Romans 7:23-25. It is implied here that there was condemnation under the Law, and would be still, but for the intervention of the gospel.

No condemnation - This does not mean that sin in believers is not to be condemned as much as any where, for the contrary is everywhere taught in the Scriptures; but it means,

(1) That the gospel does not pronounce condemnation like the Law. Its function is to pardon; the function of the law is to condemn. The one never affords deliverance, but always condemns; the object of the other is to free from condemnation, and to set the soul at liberty.

(2) there is no final condemnation under the gospel. The function, design, and tendency of the gospel is to free from the condemning sentence of law. This is its first and its glorious announcement, that it frees lost and ruined people from a most fearful and terrible condemnation.

(The first verse of this chapter seems to be an inference from the whole preceding discussion. The apostle having established the doctrine of justification, and answered the objections commonly urged against it, now asserts his triumphant conclusion, “There is therefore, etc.; that is to say, it follows from all that has been said concerning the believer‘s justification by the righteousness of Christ, and his complete deliverance from the Law as a covenant, that to him there can be no condemnation. The design of Paul is not so much to assert the different functions of the Law and the gospel, as simply to state the fact in regard to the condition of a certain class, namely, those who are in Christ. To them there is no condemnation whatever; not only no final condemnation, but no condemnation now, from the moment of their union to Christ, and deliverance from the curse of the Law. The reason is this: that Christ hath endured the penalty, and obeyed the precept of the Law in their stead.

“Here,” says Mr. Haldane on the passage, “it is often remarked that the apostle does not say, that there is in them (believers) neither matter of accusation, nor cause of condemnation; and yet this is all included in what he does say. And afterward, in express terms, he denies that they can be either accused or condemned, which they might be, were there any ground for either. All that was condemnable in them, which was sin, has been condemned in their Surety, as is shown in the third verse.”)

Which are in Christ Jesus - Who are united to Christ. To be in him is an expression not seldom used in the New Testament, denoting close and intimate union. Philemon 1:1; Philemon 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 16:7-11. The union between Christ and his people is compared to that between the vine and its branches John 15:1-6, and hence, believers are said to be in him in a similar sense, as deriving their support from him, and as united in feeling, in purpose, and destiny. (See the supplementary note at Romans 8:10.) Who walk. Who conduct, or live. Note, Romans 4:12. Not after the flesh. Who do not live to gratify the corrupt desires and passions of the flesh; Note, Romans 7:18. This is a characteristic of a Christian. What it is to walk after the flesh may be seen in Galatians 5:19-21. It follows that a man whose purpose of life is to gratify his corrupt desires, cannot be a Christian. Unless he lives not to gratify his flesh, he can have no evidence of piety. This is a test which is easily applied; and if every professor of religion were honest, there could be no danger of mistake, and there need be no doubts about his true character.

But after the Spirit - As the Holy Spirit would lead or prompt. What the Spirit produces may be seen in Galatians 5:22-23. If a man has these fruits of the Spirit, he is a Christian; if not, he is a stranger to religion, whatever else he may possess. And this test also is easily applied.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 8:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Refuting De Maria On Transubstantiation

  • Introduction:
          -Back in the month of April this year, a Catholic apologist who goes by the name of De Maria wrote an article responding to a Protestant's objections to the Catholic Eucharist titled "Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God." In his article, De Maria responded to the claim that, "There is no Biblical basis for two separate killings of two different lives (of the lamb and of Jesus) being one sacrifice." Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to answer his arguments defending the Roman Catholic Mass:

       1.) First, De Maria asserts that God commanding Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah is evidence for the prefiguration of the Eucharistic sacrifice in the New Testament. While we can readily see the typology in these passages of the Book of Genesis in relation to the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ (carrying wood up on a hill; the exact location of the sacrifice; God providing a lamb for an offering; etc.), we still see no evidence for the Catholic Mass. There is no transubstantiation involved. For the most part, it can only be said that God was testing Abraham's faith. Genesis 22 provides biblical support for penal substitution, since God provided Abraham a lamb to be offered as a holy sacrifice in the place of his own son. If Genesis 22 was meant to serve as a biblical prefiguration of the Roman Catholic Eucharist, then why not have Isaac being offered repeatedly on an alter (in the same manner as Jesus Christ is supposedly sacrificed on alters in Catholic Churches)?

      2.) Concerning De Maria's comments on the Passover in Exodus 12, we do see the literal sacrifices of sheep. But what he is trying to prove is nowhere to be found in these blood of the covenant passages. All the atonement sacrifices that were performed in the Old Testament pointed to the one perfect, final sacrifice accomplished by Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Hebrews 10:1). Although we can see many clear examples of typology in Exodus 12 (the bones of the lamb [symbolizes Christ] not being broken), we have no reason to interpret these passages as being supportive of transubstantiation because they do not say anything about a mysterious transformation in the consecrated elements of the Mass into the literal flesh and blood of Christ. Although the event at Calvary was a one time event, its effects are permanent. The ministerial priesthood of the Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament universal priesthood of believers under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:24-28; 1 Peter 2:5-9).

      3.) One of the underlying problems with De Maria's use of Old to New Testament typology in defense of the Catholic Eucharist is the nature of the sacrifices. While the sacrifices performed by Roman Catholic priests during the worship ceremonies are "unbloody," biblical sacrifices were always bloody. This is very problematic for De Maria's position because Scripture tells us that without the shedding of blood, we cannot have any forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Not only does Scripture fail to equate two different sacrifices as being one sacrifice, but we also are never informed about any sort of transition from "bloody" to "unbloody" sacrifices. Thus, De Maria has been forced to read utterly foreign ideas into passages of Scripture in order to substantiate any of his points.   

       4.) A lot could be said about De Maria's misuse of John 6:51 as a proof-text for transubstantiation, but this paper was meant to only be a short response his article. The surrounding context of John 6 is about coming to Christ and believing on Him for salvation (John 6:35; 40). THAT is the meaning of consuming His flesh and blood. Jesus said of His words, "It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63). Not only would Jesus Christ never violate the Law's restriction on drinking blood (Genesis 9:5; Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:23), but cannibalism is a sure sign of spiritual apostasy (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Ezekiel 5:10). If Jesus literally meant to eat His literal body and drink His blood in order to obtain eternal life, then His disciples would have done so on the spot! The simple truth of the matter is that the Roman Catholic Eucharist is totally unbiblical, as well as it is illogical.

Countering The Islamic Claim That The Christian Bible Has Been Lost And Corrupted

         How can Muslims claim that the Bible has been corrupted when their own holy book admits to the divine inspiration of the Torah (Sura 2:87), the Psalms (Sura 4:163), and the gospel (Sura 3:3-4; 5:46)? According to the Koran, the words of Allah cannot be perverted (Sura 6:34; 6:115; 10:64). It follows that the Muslim claim that the Christian Bible has been lost and corrupted is false. Ironically, the Koran never even makes such a claim. But how can we embrace two sources of allegedly divine revelation that repeatedly contradict each other? If Muslims are going to be consistent with their own argument, then they will have to call Allah a liar. Moreover, it needs to be told who is the culprit for any alleged corruption in the Bible, where, and when this all happened. The text cannot be dismissed just because it conflicts with the Koran.

    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    Is Belief In God A Virus?

            While the theistic worldview operates on the fundamental assumption that God exists, the atheistic mindset displays direct contrariety in that it interprets daily experiences to the exclusion of a supreme deity. Atheism maintains that mankind through the lens of the scientific laboratory alone is the final standard of authority for decision making in every aspect of life. One of the very fascinating, yet vitriolic, charges advanced by prominent atheistic thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitches is that religion is a mind virus.

            In other words, these people have argued that theism is a completely unnatural, destructive meme, which is a biological term for non-genetic trait sharing, that perverts our ability to formulate accurate perceptions in life. According to the logic of the anti-theist argument, this mental “virus” strives to invade the minds of healthy, rational secular individuals through brainwashing or indoctrination. This atheist quibble depicts religion as being a mental illness that has originated from vindictive causes. Therefore, participating in religion or teaching children religious concepts is viewed by these atheists as being absolutely perilous to the continued survival of society. In summary, the religion virus argument maintains that the proliferation of religious beliefs must be separated, if not terminated, from all spheres of human interaction, which encompasses education, economics, science, and politics.

            There are a number of different reasons for the atheistic animosity against the promotion of religious ideals in the world, which are beyond the scope of this paper. While some people want to use science as the means of discovering all the answers to the questions of life apart from belief in God, others simply do not want their views on moral issues to be condemned or governed by a superior, divine authority. Nonetheless, much more apparent and serious causes for the negative approaches to incorporating religion into daily facets of life have developed.

            People have either abandoned Christianity altogether or have utterly misunderstood the true character of the gospel because of hypocrisy among professing Christian leaders who are supposed to be acting in a godly manner, harsh treatment by fellow Christians, and by the creation of religions that promote barbaric ways of life. These factors certainly should warrant the concern of Christians, but the claim that religion is a virus does indeed have several internal logical inconsistencies or angles of refutation.

            The underlying problem with the religion virus argument is that it completely distorts the true nature of Christianity, for this religion does not enforce ways that are contrary to principles of freedom, love, peace, and righteousness. These moral principles form the basis of the gospel message. In reality, the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only tenable way of life because it is the only religion that truly brings lasting hope and fulfillment through the conversion of heart. This can be said of no other perspective of life. The real problem with atheists is that their hearts have been hardened against God. Though individual members of professing Christian denominations may be acting in a corrupt manner, such behavior is contrary to gospel teaching. Afflicted individuals need to dig deeper into God's revelation to mankind for answers to the difficulties presented in life.

            Philosophies such as Stalinism, Maoism, and Nazism favored moral relativism and nihilism, yet provoked major horrors in the history of mankind. These were entirely secular worldviews. Is it therefore not ironic how some secular people make the claim that religion is the cause of all evil?

            Belief systems are evidences of people upholding particular sets of ideas. They may tend to be exclusive in nature. It is normal for parents to share their own worldview with their children. It is also normal of belief systems to encourage practices to enhance faithfulness to that particular system of faith, which can include the continual introduction of ideas unique to that particular faith, having assemblies, or eating together with other members of that same belief-system. Furthermore, most belief-systems do encourage the promotion of a particular set of ideas. Sincere members of a particular belief-system evangelize outsiders about the teachings of their particular belief system because they believe that their worldview is correct, not because of an invasive pathogen that unwillfully perverts a normal thinking pattern. Otherwise, atheism also qualifies to be a "virus of the mind" because it shares the same common characteristics of religions in the sense of remaining faithful and individual atheists strive to propagate their own unique beliefs as truth. But religions consist of rituals, customs, and practices that are deliberately chosen, not influenced by an invasive pathogen that unwillfully perverts a normal thinking pattern.

            If the hypothesis that religion is a cruel, unnatural control mechanism that can only be brought about through acts of indoctrination is correct, then we should anticipate finding few adulthood conversions from atheism to Christianity. On the contrary, the test for religion being a mental virus has soundly refuted the proposed idea that religion is a mental virus because the presupposed conclusion is flatly contradicted by presented data. Atheism has been abandoned by several people as a result of people being convinced by the principles taught within Christianity (or even by other world religions). In fact, religious people are generally happier than secular individuals.

            The metaphorical portrayal of religion as being a virus is constructed on entirely pseudo-scientific premises. It has no rational or philosophical grounds to rely on, but rather is a form of emotional rhetoric. The religion virus argument is nothing more than an attempt to provide justification for rejecting God and His moral precepts. Such objections to the theistic worldview form as a result of a hatred of God and a poor understanding of the gospel. Consequently, Christians need to: 1.) Know the contents of their faith, 2.) Provide reasons for why they believe what they believe, 3.) Reveal true love for other people, and 4.) Examine personal conduct. The best thing that we can do for those who willfully disobey the commandments of God is to pray that the Holy Spirit softens the hearts of those who have hardened their hearts against Him. Though atheists have a valid point regarding the potential harm of man-made religions, there still exists a radical contrast between the one true religion and false world religions.

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    What Is The Third Heaven?

    2 Corinthians [12:1–4] In the body or out of the body: he seemed no longer confined to bodily conditions, but he does not claim to understand the mechanics of the experience. Caught up: i.e., in ecstasy. The third heaven…Paradise: ancient cosmologies depicted a multitiered universe. Jewish intertestamental literature contains much speculation about the number of heavens. Seven is the number usually mentioned, but the Testament of Levi (2:7–10; 3:1–4) speaks of three; God himself dwelt in the third of these. Without giving us any clear picture of the cosmos, Paul indicates a mental journey to a nonearthly space, set apart by God, in which secrets were revealed to him. Ineffable things: i.e., privileged knowledge, which it was not possible or permitted to divulge.

    Excerpt taken from the New American Bible Revised Edition

    Monday, June 12, 2017

    The Epistle Of Polycarp To The Philippians

    Polycarp, and the presbyters2 with him, to the Church of God sojourning at Philippi: Mercy to you, and peace from God Almighty, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, be multiplied.

    Chapter I.-Praise of the Philippians.

    I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because ye have followed the example3 of true love [as displayed by God], and have accompanied, as became you, those who were bound in chains, the fitting ornaments of saints, and which are indeed the diadems of the true elect of God and our Lord; and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days4 long gone by, endureth even until now, and bringeth forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] "whom God raised froth the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave."5 "In whom, though now ye see Him not, ye believe, and believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; "6 into which joy many desire to enter, knowing that "by grace ye are saved, not of works,"7 but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.

    Chapter II.-An Exhortation to Virtue.

    "Wherefore, girding up your loins,"8 "serve the Lord in fear"9 and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and "believed in Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory,"10 and a throne at His right hand. To Him all things11 in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead.12 His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him.13 But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise14 up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing,"15 or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: "Judge not, that ye be not judged;16 forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you;17 be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy;18 with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again;19 and once more, "Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God."20

    Chapter III.-Expressions or Personal Unworthiness.

    These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because ye have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom21 of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and stedfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter,22 which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, "is the mother of us all."23 For if any one be inwardly possessed of these graces, he hath fulfilled the command of righteousness, since he that hath love is far from all sin.

    Chapter IV.-Various Exhortations.

    "But the love of money is the root of all evils."24 Knowing, therefore, that "as we brought nothing into the world, so we can carry nothing out,"25 let us arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness;26 and let us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the commandments of the Lord. Next, [teach] your wives [to walk] in the faith given to them, and in love and purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all truth, and loving all [others] equally in all chastity; and to train up their children in the knowledge and fear of God. Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually27 for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are the altar28 of God, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart.

    Chapter V.-The Duties of Deacons, Youths, and Virgins.

    Knowing, then, that "God is not mocked,"29 we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory. In like manner should the deacons be blameless before the face of His righteousness, as being the servants of God and Christ,30 and not of men. They must not be slanderers, double-tongued,31 or lovers of money, but temperate in all things, compassionate, industrious, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who was the servant32 of all. If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live33 worthily of Him, "we shall also reign together with Him,"34 provided only we believe. In like manner, let the young men also be blameless in all things, being especially careful to preserve purity, and keeping themselves in, as with a bridle, from every kind of evil. For it is well that they should be cut off from35 the lusts that are in the world, since "every lust warreth against the spirit; "36 and "neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God,"37 nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming. Wherefore, it is needful to abstain from all these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto God and Christ. The virgins also must walk in a blameless and pure conscience.

    Chapter VI.-The Duties of Presbyters and Others.

    And let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always "providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man; "38 abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unjust judgment; keeping far off from all covetousness, not quickly crediting [an evil report] against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive;39 for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and "we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself."40 Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the Gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord [have alike taught us]. Let us be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offence, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error.

    Chapter VII.-Avoid the Docetae, and Persevere in Fasting and Prayer.

    "For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist; "41 and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross,42 is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan.43 Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from44 the beginning; "watching unto prayer,"45 and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplications the all-seeing God "not to lead us into temptation ,"46 as the Lord has said: "The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak."47

    Chapter VIII.-Persevere in Hope and Patience.

    Let us then continually persevere in our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ, "who bore our sins in His own body on the tree,"48 "who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth,"49 but endured all things for us, that we might live in Him.50 Let us then be imitators of His patience; and if we suffer51 for His name's sake, let us glorify Him.52 For He has set us this example53 in Himself, and we have believed that such is the case.

    Chapter IX.-Patience Inculcated.

    I exhort you all, therefore, to yield obedience to the word of righteousness, and to exercise all patience, such as ye have seen [set] before your eyes, not only in the case of the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself, and the rest of the apostles. [This do] in the assurance that all these have not run54 in vain, but in faith and righteousness, and that they are [now] in their due place in the presence of the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not this present world, but Him who died for us, and for our sakes was raised again by God from the dead.

    Chapter X.-Exhortation to the Practice of Virtue.55

    Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood,56 and being attached to one another, joined together in the truth, exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your intercourse with one another, and despising no one. When you can do good, defer it not, because "alms delivers from death."57 Be all of you subject one to another58 having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles,"59 that ye may both receive praise for your good works, and the Lord may not be blasphemed through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed!60 Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and manifest it also in your own conduct.

    Chapter XI.-Expression of Grief on Account of Valens.

    I am greatly grieved for Valens, who was once a presbyter among you, because he so little understands the place that was given him [in the Church]. I exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetousness,61 and that ye be chaste and truthful. "Abstain from every form of evil."62 For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness,63 he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord? "Do we not know that the saints shall judge the world? "64 as Paul teaches. But I have neither seen nor heard of any such thing among you, in the midst of whom the blessed Paul laboured, and who are commended65 in the beginning of his Epistle. For he boasts of you in all those Churches which alone then knew the Lord; but we [of Smyrna] had not yet known Him. I am deeply grieved, therefore, brethren, for him (Valens) and his wife; to whom may the Lord grant true repentance! And be ye then moderate in regard to this matter, and "do not count such as enemies,"66 but call them back as suffering and straying members, that ye may save your whole body. For by so acting ye shall edify yourselves.67

    Chapter XII.-Exhortation to Various Graces.

    For I trust that ye are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted.68 It is declared then in these Scriptures, "Be ye angry, and sin not,"69and, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."70 Happy is he who remembers71 this, which I believe to be the case with you. But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His Father, who "raised Him from the dead.72 Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings,73 and potentates, and princes, and for those that persecute and hate you,74 and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest to all, and that ye may be perfect in Him.

    Chapter XIII.-Concerning the Transmission of Epistles.

    Both you and Ignatius75 wrote to me, that if any one went [from this] into Syria, he should carry your letter76 with him; which request I will attend to if I find a fitting opportunity, either personally, or through some other acting for me, that your desire may be fulfilled. The Epistles of Ignatius written by him77 to us, and all the rest [of his Epistles] which we have by us, we have sent to you, as you requested. They are subjoined to this Epistle, and by them ye may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord. Any78 more certain information you may have obtained respecting both Ignatius himself, and those that were79 with him, have the goodness to make known80 to us.

    Chapter XIV.-Conclusion.

    These things I have written to you by Crescens, whom up to the present81 time I have recommended unto you, and do now recommend. For he has acted blamelessly among us, and I believe also among you. Moreover, ye will hold his sister in esteem when she comes to you. Be ye safe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with you all.82 Amen.