Monday, February 26, 2018

Does Isaiah 45:7 Say That God Created Evil?

I form the light, and create darkness,.... Natural light, or that light which was produced at the first creation, and of which the sun is the fountain and source; or day which is light, and night which is darkness, the constant revolutions of which were formed, appointed, and are continued by the Lord, Genesis 1:3, moral light, or the light of nature, the rational understanding in man; spiritual light, or the light of grace, by which things spiritual and supernatural are known; the light of joy and comfort from Christ, the sun of righteousness; and the light of eternal glory and happiness: this is all from God, of his producing and giving; and so darkness is his creature; that natural darkness which was upon the face of the earth at the beginning; what arises from the absence of the sun, or is occasioned by the eclipses of it, or very black clouds; or any extraordinary darkness, such as was in Egypt; or deprivation of sight, blindness in men; and, in a figurative sense, ignorance and darkness that follow upon sin; judicial blindness, God gives men up and leaves them to; temporal afflictions and distresses, and everlasting punishment, which is blackness of darkness:

I make peace, and create evil; peace between God and men is made by Christ, who is God over all; spiritual peace of conscience comes from God, through Christ, by the Spirit; eternal glory and happiness is of God, which saints enter into at death; peace among the saints themselves here, and with the men of the world; peace in churches, and in the world, God is the author of, even of all prosperity of every kind, which this word includes: "evil" is also from him; not the evil of sin; this is not to be found among the creatures God made; this is of men, though suffered by the Lord, and overruled by him for good: but the evil of punishment for sin, God's sore judgments, famine, pestilence, evil beasts, and the sword, or war, which latter may more especially be intended, as it is opposed to peace; this usually is the effect of sin; may be sometimes lawfully engaged in; whether on a good or bad foundation is permitted by God; moreover, all afflictions, adversities, and calamities, come under this name, and are of God; see Job 2:10,

I the Lord do all these things; and therefore must be the true God, and the one and only one. Kimchi, from Saadiah Gaon, observes, that this is said against those that assert two gods, the one good, and the other evil; whereas the Lord is the Maker of good and evil, and therefore must be above all; and it is worthy of observation, that the Persian Magi, before ZoroastresF13, held two first causes, the one light, or the good god, the author of all good; and the other darkness, or the evil god, the author of all evil; the one they called Oromazes, the other Arimanius; and, as Dr. PrideauxF14 observes,

"these words are directed to Cyrus king of Persia, and must be understood as spoken in reference to the Persian sect of the Magians; who then held light and darkness, or good and evil, to be the supreme Beings, without acknowledging the great God as superior to both;'

and which these words show; for Zoroastres, who reformed them in this first principle of their religion, was after Isaiah's time.

Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Between The Testaments




1. The Egyptian Empire

2. Greece

3. Rome

4. Asia


1. The Persian Period

2. The Alexandrian Period

3. The Egyptian Period

4. The Syrian Period

5. The Maccabean Period

6. The Roman Period


1. Literary Activity

(a) The Apocrypha

(b) Pseudepigrapha

(c) The Septuagint

2. Spiritual Conditions

3. Parties

4. Preparation for Christianity

As the title indicates, the historical period in the life of Israel extends from the cessation of Old Testament prophecy to the beginning of the Christian era.

I. The Period in General.$

The Exile left its ineffaceable stamp on Judaism as well as on the Jews. Their return to the land of their fathers was marked by the last rays of the declining sun of prophecy. With Malachi it set. Modern historical criticism has projected some of the canonical books of the Bible far into this post-exilic period. Thus Kent (HJP, 1899), following the lead of the Wellhausen-Kuenen hypothesis, with all its later leaders, has charted the period between 600 BC, the date of the first captivity, to 160 BC, the beginning of the Hasmonean period of Jewish history, in comparative contemporaneous blocks of double decades. Following the path of Koster, the historical position of Ezra and Nehemiah is inverted, and the former is placed in the period 400-380 BC, contemporaneously with Artaxerxes II; Joe is assigned to the same period; portions of Isa (chapters 63-66; 24-27) are placed about 350 BC; Zec is assigned to the period 260-240, and Da is shot way down the line into the re ign of the Seleucids, between 200 and 160 BC. Now all this is very striking and no doubt very critical, but the ground of this historical readjustment is wholly subjective, and has the weight only of a hypothetical conjecture. Whatever may be our attitude to the critical hypothesis of the late origin of some of the Old Testament literally, it seems improbable that any portion of it could have reached far into the post-exilic period. The interval between the Old and the New Testaments is the dark period in the hist ory of Israel. It stretches itself out over about four centuries, during which there was neither prophet nor inspired writer in Israel. All we know of it we owe to Josephus, to some of the apocryphal books, and to scattered references in Greek and Latin historians. The seat of empire passed over from the East to the West, from Asia to Europe. The Persian Empire collapsed, under the fierce attacks of the Macedonians, and the Greek Empire in turn gave way to the Roman rule.

II. A Glance at Contemporaneous History.$

For the better understanding of this period in the history of Israel, it may be well to pause for a moment to glance at the wider field of the history of the world in the centuries under contemplation, for the words "fullness of time" deal with the all-embracing history of mankind, for whose salvation Christ appeared, and whose every movement led to its realization.

1. The Egyptian Empire:

In the four centuries preceding Christ, The Egyptian empire, the oldest and in many respects the most perfectly developed civilization of antiquity, was tottering to its ruins. The 29th or Mendesian Dynasty, made place, in 384 BC, for the 30th or Sebennitic Dynasty, which was swallowed up, half a century later, by the Persian Dynasty. The Macedonian or 32nd replaced this in 332 BC, only to give way, a decade later, to the last or 33rd, the Ptolemaic Dynasty. The whole history of Egypt in this period was therefore one of endless and swiftly succeeding changes. In the Ptolemaic Dynasty there was a faint revival of the old glory of the past, but the star of empire had set for Egypt, and the mailed hand of Rome finally smote down a civilization whose beginnings are lost in the dim twilight of history. The Caesarian conquest of 47 BC was followed, 17 years later, by the annexation of Egypt to the new world-power, as a Roman province. Manetho's history is the one great literary monument of Egyptian history in this period. Her priests had been famous for their wisdom, to which Lycurgus and Solon, the Greek legislators, had been attracted, as well as Pythagoras and Plato, the world's greatest philosophers.

2. Greece:

In Greece also the old glory was passing away. Endless wars sapped the strength of the national life. The strength of Athens and Sparta, of Corinth and Thebes had departed, and when about the beginning of our period, in 337 BC, the congress of Greek states had elected Philip of Macedon to the hegemony of united Greece, the knell of doom sounded for all Greek liberty. First Philip and after him Alexander wiped out the last remnants of this liberty, and Greece became a fighting machine for the conquest of the world in the meteoric career of Alexander the Great. But what a galaxy of illustrious names adorn the pages of Greek history, in this period, so dark for Israel! Think of Aristophanes and Hippocrates, of Xenophon and Democritus, of Plato and Apelies, of Aeschines and Demosthenes, of Aristotle and Praxiteles and Archimedes, all figuring, amid the decay of Greek liberty, in the 4th and 3rd centuries before Christ! Surely if the political glory of Greece had left its mark on the ages, its intellectual brilliancy is their pride.

3. Rome:

Rome meanwhile was strengthening herself, by interminable wars, for the great task of world-conquest that lay before her. By the Latin and Samnite and Punic wars she trained her sons in the art of war, extended her territorial power and made her name dreaded everywhere. Italy and north Africa, Greece and Asia Minor and the northern barbarians were conquered in turn. Her intellectual brilliancy was developed only when the lust of conquest was sated after a fashion, but in the century immediately preceding the Christian era we find such names as Lucretius and Hortentius, Cato and Cicero, Sallust and Diodorus Siculus, Virgil and Horace. At the close of the period between the Testaments, Rome had become the mistress of the world and every road led to her capital.

4. Asia:

In Asia the Persian empire, heir to the civilization and traditions of the great Assyrian-Babylonian world-power, was fast collapsing and was ultimately utterly wiped out by the younger Greek empire and civilization. In far-away India the old ethnic religion of Brahma a century or more before the beginning of our period passed through the reformatory crisis inaugurated by Gatama Buddha or Sakya Mouni, and thus Buddhism, one of the great ethnic religions, was born. Another reformer of the Tauistic faith was Confucius, the sage of China, a contemporary of Buddha, while Zoroaster in Persia laid the foundations of his dualistic world-view. In every sense and in every direction, the period between the Testaments was therefore one of political and intellectual ferment.

III. Historical Developments.

As regards Jewish history, the period between the Testaments may be divided as follows:

(1) the Persian period;

(2) the Alexandrian period;

(3) the Egyptian period;

(4) the Syrian period;

(5) the Maccabean period;

(6) the Roman period.

1. The Persian Period:

The Persian period extends from the cessation of prophecy to 334 BC. It was in the main uneventful in the history of the Jews, a breathing spell between great national crises, and comparatively little is known of it. The land of Palestine was a portion of the Syrian satrapy, while the true government of the Jewish people was semi-theocratic, or rather sacerdotal, under the rule of the high priests, who were responsible to the satrap. As a matter of course, the high-priestly office became the object of all Jewish ambition and it aroused the darkest passions. Thus John, the son of Judas, son of Eliashib, through the lust of power, killed his brother Jesus, who was a favorite of Bagoses, a general of Artaxerxes in command of the district. The guilt of the fratricide was enhanced, because the crime was committed in the temple itself, and before the very altar. A storm of wrath, the only notable one of this period, thereupon swept over Judea. The Persians occupied Jerusalem, the temple was defiled, the city laid waste in part, a heavy fine was imposed on the people and a general persecution followed, which lasted for many years (Ant., XI, 7; Kent, HJP, 231). Then as later on, in the many persecutions which followed, the Samaritans, ever pliable and willing to obey the tyrant of the day, went practically scot free.

2. The Alexandrian Period:

The Alexandrian period was very brief, 334-323 BC. It simply covers the period of the Asiatic rule of Alexander the Great. In Greece things had been moving swiftly. The Spartan hegemony, which had been unbroken since the fall of Athens, was now by destroyed by the Thebans under Epaminondas, in the great battles of Leuctra and Mantinea. But the new power was soon crushed Philip of Macedon, who was thereupon chosen general leader by the unwilling Greeks. Persia was the object of Philip's ambition and vengeance, but the dagger of Pausanias (Ant., XI, viii, 1) forestalled the execution of his plans. His son Alexander, a youth of 20 years, succeeded him, and thus the "great he-goat," of which Daniel had spoken (Daniel 8:8; 10:20), appeared on the scene. In the twelve years of his reign (335-323 BC) he revolutionized the world. Swift as an eagle he moved. All Greece was laid at his feet. Thence he moved to Asia, where he defeated Darius in the memorable battles of Granicus and Issus. Passing southward, he conquered the Mediterranean coast and Egypt and then moved eastward again, for the complete subjugation of Asia, when he was struck down in the height of his power, at Babylon, in the 33rd year of his age. In the Syrian campaign he had come in contact with the Jews. Unwilling to leave any stronghold at his back, he reduced Tyre after a siege of several months, and advancing southward demanded the surrender of Jerusalem. But the Jews, taught by bitter experience, desired to remain loyal to Persia. As Alexander approached the city, Jaddua the high priest, with a train of priests in their official dress, went out to meet him, to supplicate mercy. A previous dream of this occurrence is said to have foreshadowed this event, and Alexander spared the city, sacrificed to Yahweh, had the prophecies of Daniel concerning him rehearsed in his hearing, and showed the Jews many favors (Ant., XI, viii, 5) From that day on they became his favorites; he employed them in his army and gave them equal rights w ith the Greeks, as first citizens of Alexandria, and other cities, which he founded. Thus the strong Hellenistic spirit of the Jews was created, which marked so large a portion of the nation, in the subsequent periods of their history.

3. The Egyptian Period:

The Egyptian period (324-264 BC). The death of Alexander temporarily turned everything into chaos. The empire, welded Thrace together by his towering genius, fell apart under four of his generals--Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Cassander, and Selenus (Daniel 8:21,22). Egypt fell to the share of Ptolemy Soter and Judea was made part of it. At first Ptolemy was harsh in his treatment of the Jews, but later on he learned to respect them and became their patron as Alexander had been. Hecataeus of is at this time said to have studied the Jews, through information received from Hezekiah, an Egyptian Jewish immigrant, and to have written a Jewish history from the time of Abraham till his own day. This book, quoted by Josephus and Origen, is totally lost. Soter was succeeded by Ptolemy Philadelphus, an enlightened ruler, famous through the erection of the lighthouse of Pharos, and especially through the founding of the celebrated Alexandrian library. Like his father he was very friendly to the Jews, and in his reign the celebrated Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures, the Septuagint, was made, according to tradition (Ant.,. XII, ii). As however the power of the Syrian princes, the Seleucids, grew, Palestine increasingly became the battle ground between them and the Ptolemies. In the decisive battle between Ptolemy Philopator and Antiochus the Great, at Raphia near Gaza, the latter was crushed and during Philopator's reign Judea remained an Egyptian province. And yet this battle formed the turning-point of the history of the Jews in their relation to Egypt. For when Ptolemy, drunk with victory, came to Jerusalem, he endeavored to enter the holy of holies of the temple, although he retreated, in confusion, from the holy place. But he wreaked his vengeance on the Jews, for opposing his plan, by a cruel persecution. He was succeeded by his son Ptolemy Epiphanes, a child of 5 years. The long-planned vengeance of Antiochus now took form in an invasion of Egypt. Coele-Syria and Judea were occupied by the Syrians and passed over into the possession of the Seleucids.

4. The Syrian Period:

The Syrian period (204-165 BC). Israel now entered into the valley of the shadow of death. This entire period was an almost uninterrupted martyrdom. Antiochus was succeeded by Seleucis Philopator. But harsh as was their attitude to the Jews, neither of these two was notorious for his cruelty to them. Their high priests, as in former periods, were still their nominal rulers. But the aspect of everything changed when Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 BC) came to the throne. He may fitly be called the Nero of Jewish history. The nationalists among the Jews were at that time wrangling with the Hellenists for the control of affairs. Onias III, a faithful high priest, was expelled from office through the machinations of his brother Jesus or Jason (2 Macc 4:7-10). Onias went to Egypt, where at Heliopolis he built a temple and officiated as high priest. Meanwhile Jason in turn was turned out of the holy office by the bribes of still another brother, Menelaus, worse by far than Jason, a Jew-hater and an avowed defender of Greek life and morals. The wrangle between the brothers gave Antiochus the opportunity he craved to wreak his bitter hatred on the Jews, in the spoliation of Jerusalem, in the wanton and total defilement of the temple, and in a most horrible persecution of the Jews (1 Macc 1:16-28; 2 Macc 5:11-23; Daniel 11:28; Ant, XII, v, 3.4). Thousands were slain, women and children were sold into captivity, the city wall was torn down, all sacrifices ceased, and in the temple on the altar of burnt off ering a statue was erected to Jupiter Olympius (1 Macc 1:43; 2 Macc 6:1-2). Circumcision was forbidden, on pain of death, and all the people of Israel were to be forcibly paganized. As in the Persian persecution, the Samaritans again played into the hands of the Syrians and implicitly obeyed the will of the Seleucids. But the very rigor of the persecution caused it to fail of its purpose and Israel proved to be made of sterner stuff than Antiochus imagined. A priestly family dwelling at Modin, west of Jerusalem , named Hasmonean, after one of its ancestors, consisting of Mattathias and his five sons, raised the standard of revolt, which proved successful after a severe struggle.


5. The Maccabean Period:

The Maccabean period (165-63 BC). The slaying of an idolatrous Jew at the very altar was the signal of revolt. The land of Judea is specially adapted to guerilla tactics, and Judas Maccabeus, who succeeded his father, as leader of the Jewish patriots, Was a past master in this kind of warfare. All efforts of Antiochus to quell the rebellion failed most miserably, in three Syrian campaigns. The king died of a loathsome disease and peace was at last concluded with the Jews. Though still nominally under Syrian control, Judas became governor of Palestine. His first act was the purification and rededication of the temple, from which the Jews date their festival of purification (see PURIFICATION). When the Syrians renewed the war, Judas applied for aid to the Romans, whose power began to be felt in Asia, but he died in battle before the promised aid could reach him (Ant., XII, xi, 2). He was buried by his father's side at Modin and was succeeded by his brother Jonathan. From that time the Maccabean history becomes one of endless cabals. Jonathan was acknowledged by the Syrians as meridarch of Judea, but was assassinated soon afterward. Simon succeeded him, and by the help of the Romans was made hereditary ruler of Palestine. He in turn was followed by John Hyrcanus. The people were torn by bitter partisan controversies and a civil war was waged, a generation later, by two grandsons of John Hyrcanus, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. In this internecine struggle the Roman general Pompey participated by siding with Hyrcanus, while Aristobulus defied Rome and defended Jerusalem. Pompey took the city, after a siege of three months, and entered the holy of holies, thereby forever estranging from Rome every loyal Jewish heart.

6. The Roman Period:

The Roman period (63-4 BC). Judea now became a Roman province. Hyrcanus, stripped of the hereditary royal power, retained only the high-priestly office. Rome exacted an annual tribute, and Aristobulus was sent as a captive to the capital. He contrived however to escape and renewed the unequal struggle, in which he was succeeded by his sons Alexander and Antigonus. In the war between Pompey and Caesar, Judea was temporarily forgotten, but after Caesar's death, under the triumvirate of Octavius, Antony and Lepidus, Antony, the eastern triumvir, favored Herod the Great, whose intrigues secured for him at last the crown of Judea and enabled him completely to extinguish the old Maccabean line of Judean princes.

IV. Internal Developments in This Period.

One thing remains, and that is a review of the developments within the bosom of Judaism itself in the period under consideration. It is self-evident that the core of the Jewish people, which remained loyal to the national traditions and to the national faith, must have been radically affected by the terrible cataclysms which mark their history, during the four centuries before Christ. What, if any, was the literary activity of the Jews in this period? What was their spiritual condition? What was the result of the manifest difference of opinion within the Jewish economy? What preparation does this period afford for the "fullness of time"? These and other questions present themselves, as we study this period of the history of the Jews.

1. Literary Activity:

The voice of prophecy was utterly hushed in this period, but the old literary instinct of the nation asserted itself; it was part and parcel of the Jewish traditions and would not be denied. Thus in this period many writings were produced, which of although they lack canonical authority, among Protestants at least, still are extremely helpful for a correct understanding the life of Israel in the dark ages before Christ.

(a) The Apocrypha.

First of all among the fruits of this literary activity stand the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. It is enough here to mention them. They are fourteen in number:

1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, 2 Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, in Baruch, So of the Three Holy Children, History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasses, 1 and 2 Maccabees. As 3 and 4 Maccabees fall presumably within the Christian era, they are not here enumerated. All these apocryphal writings are of the utmost importance for a correct understanding of the Jewish problem in the day which they were written. For fuller information, see APOCRYPHA.

(b) Pseudepigrapha.

Thus named from the spurious character of the authors' names they bear. Two of these writings very probably belong to our of period, while a host of them evidently belong to a later date. In this class of writings there is a mute confession of the conscious poverty of the day. First of all, we have the Psalter of Solomon, originally written in Hebrew and translated into Greek--a collection of songs for worship, touching in their spirit, and evincing the fact that true faith never died in the heart of the true believer. The second is the Book of Enoch, a production of an apocalyptic nature, named after Enoch the patriarch, and widely known about the beginning the Christian era. This book is quoted in the New Testament (Jude 1:14). It was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic and translated into Greek as there is no trace of a Christian influence in the book, the presumption is that the greater part of it was written at an earlier period. Both Jude and the author of Revelation must have known it, as a comparative study of both books will show. The question of these quotations or allusions is a veritable crux interpretum:

how to reconcile the inspiration of these books with these quotations?

(c) The Septuagint.

The tradition of the Septuagint is told by Josephus (Ant., XII, ii, 13). Aristeas and Aristobulus, a Jewish priest in the reign of Ptolemy Philometor (2 Macc 1:10), are also quoted in support of it by Clement of Alexandria and by Eusebius. See \SEPTUAGINT\. The truth of the matter is most probably that this great translation of the Old Testament Scriptures was begun at the instance of Ptolemy Philadelphus 285-247 BC, under the direction of Demetrius Phalereus, and was completed somewhere about the middle of the 2nd century BC. Internal evidence abounds that the translation was made by different hands and at different times. If the translation was in any way literal, the text of the Septuagint raises various interesting questions in regard to the Hebrew text that was used in the translation, as compared with the one we now possess. The Septuagint was of the utmost missionary value and contributed perhaps more than any other thing to prepare the world for the "fullness of time."

2. Spiritual Conditions:

The return from Babylon marked a turning point in the spiritual history of the Jews. From that time onward, the lust of idolatry, which had marked their whole previous history, utterly disappears. In the place of it came an almost intolerable spirit of exclusiveness, a striving after legal holiness, these two in combination forming the very heart and core of the later Pharisaism. The holy books, but especially the law, became an object of almost idolatrous reverence; the spirit was utterly lost in the form. And as their own tongue, the classic Hebrew, gradually gave way to the common Aramaic, the rabbis and their schools strove ever more earnestly to keep the ancient tongue pure, worship and life each demanding a separate language. Thus, the Jews became in a sense bilingual, the Hebrew tongue being used in their synagogues, the Aramaic in their daily life, and later on, in part at least, the Greek tongue of the conqueror, the lingua franca of the period. A spiritual aristocracy very largely replaced the former rule of their princes and nobles. As the core of their religion died, the bark of the tree flourished. Thus, tithes were zealously paid by the believer (compare Matthew 23:23), the Sabbath became a positive burden of sanctity, the simple laws of God were replaced by cumbersome human inventions, which in later times were to form the bulk of the Talmud, and which crushed down all spiritual liberty in the days of Christ (Matthew 11:28; 23:4,23). The substitution of the names "Elohim" and "Adonai" for the old glorious historic name "Yahweh" is an eloquent commentary on all that has been said before and on the spiritual condition of Israel in this period (Ewald, History of Israel, V, 198), in which the change was inaugurated. The old centripetal force, the old ideal of centralization, gave way to an almost haughty indifference to the land of promise. The Jews became, as they are today, a nation without a country. For, for every Jew that came back to the old national home, a thousand remained in the land of their adopti on. And yet scattered far and wide, in all sorts of environments, they remained Jews, and the national consciousness was never extinguished. It was God's mark on them now as then. And thus they became world-wide missionaries of the knowledge of the true God, of a gospel of hope for a world that was hopeless, a gospel which wholly against their own will directed the eyes of the world to the fullness of time and which prepared the fallow soil of human hearts for the rapid spread of Christianity when it ultimately appeared.

3. Parties:

During the Greek period the more conservative and zealous of the Jews were all the time confronted with a tendency of a very considerable portion of the people, especially the younger and wealthier set, to adopt the manners of life and thought and speech of their masters, the Greeks. Thus the Hellenistic party was born, which was bitterly hated by all true blooded Jews, but which left its mark on their history, till the date of the final dispersion 70 AD. From the day of Mattathias, the Chasids or Haside ans (1 Macc 2:42) were the true Jewish patriots. Thus the party of the Pharisees came into existence (Ant., XIII, x, 5; XVIII, i, 2; BJ, I, v, 2). See PHARISEES. They were opposed by the more secular-minded Sadducees (Ant., XIII, x, 6; XVIII, i, 3; BJ, II, viii, 14), wealthy, of fine social standing, wholly free from the restraints of tradition, utterly oblivious of the future life and closely akin to the Greek Epicureans. See \SADDUCEES\. These parties bitterly opposed each other till the very end of the national existence of the Jews in Palestine, and incessantly fought for the mastery, through the high-priestly office. Common hatred for Christ, for a while, afforded them a community of interests. 4. Preparation for Christianity:

Throughout this entire dark period of Israel's history, God was working out His own Divine plan with them. Their Scriptures were translated into Greek, after the conquest of Alexander the Great the common language in the East. Thus the world was prepared for the word of God, even as the latter in turn prepared the world for the reception of the gift of God, in the gospel of His Son. The Septuagint thus is a distinct forward movement in the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise (Genesis 12:3; 18:18). As the sacrificial part of Jewish worship declined, through their wide separation from the temple, the eyes of Israel were more firmly fixed on their Scriptures, read every Sabbath in their synagogues, and, as we have seen, these Scriptures, through the rendering of the Septuagint, had become the property of the entire world. Thus, the synagogue everywhere became the great missionary institute, imparting to the world Israel's exalted Messianic hopes. On the other hand, the Jews themselves, embittered by long-continued martyrdoms and suffering, utterly carnalized this Messianic expectation in an increasing ratio as the yoke of the oppressor grew heavier and the hope of deliverance grew fainter. And thus when their Messiah came, Israel recognized Him not, while the heart-hungry heathen, who through the Septuagint had become familiar with the promise, humbly received Him (John 1:9-14). The eyes of Israel were blinded for a season, `till the fullness of the Gentiles shall be gathered in' (Romans 9:32; 11:25).

Henry E. Dosker
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.

The Myth Of Chemical Imbalances

"Chemical imbalance is a theory based on inconclusive research. Even though considerable scientific study has been done, the conclusion is that the view is no more than theoretical.

There are true chemical imbalances in the body; but when they are present, the condition is no longer labeled chemical imbalance. It is labeled according to the chemical that is out of balance, and it is given a medical disease label. Low thyroid is a chemical imbalance, but it is called “hypothyroid” instead of “chemical imbalance.” Low potassium is a chemical imbalance, but it is called “hypokalemia.” High blood sugar is a chemical imbalance, but it is called “diabetes.” When people talk about “chemical imbalance” as a cause for depression, it is because there are no laboratory tests to prove this. Remember, an illness means something is wrong in the tissues of the body. If there is truly something wrong with the body, it can be proved by objective tests performed by an objective observer. The reality is that there are no laboratory tests that can prove the presence of a chemical imbalance. The chemical imbalance diagnosis of an illness is not proven by tests, but is based on what a person thinks and feels as described by DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition). Whenever the term “chemical imbalance” is used, it is as a generic term without proof that any change is present in any chemical."

Robert D. Smith, M.D., The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference, p.66

Addictions Are Not Diseases

"Addiction treatment is a cash cow for the Psychology Industry, which has argued, in most cases successfully, that treatment of the “disease” ought to be covered by health insurance. The state of Minnesota has declared alcoholism to be a treatable disease and adopted legislation against the firing of employees who are unable to perform their jobs because of drunkenness. They must be treated at the employer’s (or insurer’s) expense, even though most of the data show treatment to be ineffective. A survey of Fortune 500 companies indicated that 79 percent recognized that substance abuse was a “significant or very significant problem” in their organizations. However, when asked whether the treatment programs did any good, “the overwhelming majority saw few results from these programs. In the survey, 87 percent reported little or no change in absenteeism since the programs began and 90 percent saw little or no change in productivity ratings.” . . . 

It seems that, whatever the results, addiction treatment is identifiably a business that ignores its failures. In fact its failures lead to more business. Its technology, based on continued recovering, presumes relapses. Recidivism is used as an argument for further funding rather than as evidence of an ineffective treatment."

Dr. Tana Dineen in, “Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People,” pg. 214-215

Beware Of Antidepressants

"A large number of studies have linked antidepressants with suicidal thoughts and a greater tendency to act upon them. Antidepressants have also been linked to violent thoughts accompanied by seemingly irresistible compulsions to act upon them -- even if such thoughts and behaviors are inconsistent with a person's character prior to receiving these medicines."

Elyse Fitzpatrick & Laura Hendrickson, M.D., "Will Medicine Stop the Pain?", p.51

Chemical Imbalance Depression Is Rare

"Doctors bought the story line that all depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain and therefore requires a chemical fix—the prescription of an antidepressant medication. This is absolutely true for severe depressions, absolutely false for most milder ones. The proof of this pudding is that psychotherapy is just as effective as medication for milder depressions, and neither has a big edge over placebo. Millions of people take medicine they don’t need for a diagnosis of MDD that they don’t really have, on the false assumption of chemical imbalance."

Allen Frances, M.D, "Saving Normal," p. 155

Comments On Eating Flesh And Drinking Blood In John 6

1. The images shift back and forth between "eating/drinking" and "accepting/believing".

2. The metaphor of flesh/blood are 'mixed', the standard tip-off to metaphor (e.g., "I am the living bread", "I am bread which descended from heaven", bread is actually 'flesh', eating/drinking somehow don't consume Jesus since that is the condition for 'abiding' in Him and since He would still be around at the 'last day').

3. The "participation" theme is quite explicit, especially since it is paralleled to Jesus' dependence on the Father (vs.57). The "" parallel construction there highlights this point: Just as Christ draws His life from the Father through participation in His life, so too the follower of Christ is to draw life from Jesus. The first term of the comparison (i.e. Jesus drawing life from the Father) makes the second term (i.e. drawing life from Christ because of absorption of His life and death) obvious.

4. The objections of the grumblers in the passage have nothing to do with the offensiveness of cannibalism; they get lost in either the logistics (e.g., how can a living person share His flesh and still continue to live?) or in the demands for total dependence on Christ for eternal life ("you have no life, if you don't have me"). If they were understanding this rather completely literally (as opposed to some "moving metaphor complex" of "bread/flesh/life/object of trust") their objections and responses would have been markedly different. In fact, they were arguing among themselves about his meaning, indicating that it was certainly not an obvious reference to cannibalism. Carson has an interesting image of this (his comm. on John, Eerdmans):

"The Jews began to argue sharply among themselves. The very (emachonto) is very strong. Any dullard could see that Jesus was not speaking literally: no-one would suppose Jesus was seriously advocating cannibalism and offering himself as the first meal. But if his language was figurative, what did he mean? Perhaps one argued for this view, another for that, all of them repeating the same literal, unintelligent question to get at the point: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

5. It is interesting to note that Jesus expands the metaphor of 'bread/flesh' to include the 'blood' (symbol of His violent and sacrificial death) in vs.53. This would highlight the necessity of participating in His death--not just in His victorious future life.

6. But there may be something stronger is this reference to "drinking of blood"--perhaps a reference to violence against Jesus.

If we look at references to "drinking of blood" (and eating of flesh) in the OT, a number of passages make reference to this (without, by the way, Cannabalistic or ritualistic overtones):
Behold, a people rises like a lioness, And as a lion it lifts itself; It shall not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain.” [numbers 23.24, in which Israel, under the figure of a lion, will "drink blood"]

And the sword will devour and be satiated And drink its fill of their blood; [Jer 46.10]
This might indicate further that Jesus is alluding to His coming rejection and death. [The passage in 1 Chr 11.19: "nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord; 19 and he said, “Be it far from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. ", shows the link between accepting responsibility for someone's death (or risk of death) and "drinking blood"--it was a way of saying "I am responsible for this death", not "I am a cannibal"...]

Jesus' usage of this metaphor here is quite in keeping with Jewish and proto-rabbinic usage of the day, and not at all sacrilegious:

1. Rabbinic literature would use the 'eating and drinking' metaphor for absorption in Torah and good works. The midrash on Ecc. 2:24 says specifically that "All references to eating and drinking in the book of Qohelet signify Torah and good works." Jesus' use of 'eating and drinking' herein would have been in good rabbinic style.

2. . Bread is also very frequently used metaphorically in the rabbinics for 'doctrine'. For example:
"It is written: For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah stay and staff every stay of bread, and every stay of water,’ the mighty man, and the man of war; the judge and the prophet, and the diviner, and the elder; the captain of fifty; and the man of rank, and the counsellor, and the wise charmer, and the skillful enchanter. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. 27 ‘Stay’ — this means the masters of the Bible...Every stay of bread’ — this means the masters of Talmud, 31 for it is said: Come, eat of My bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled" (Chagigah 14a)3. Even Josephus could refer metaphorically to 'drinking of blood' without it being a problem:

For hitherto they [warriors of the Jewish resistance before the fall of Jerusalem] had fed themselves out of the public miseries, and drank the blood of the city. [Wars of the Jews, 5:344]

4. And, to be even more clear, the rabbi's even spoke of 'eating the Messiah' when he appeared (and without any cannibalistic overtones or objections), and by that meant a sharing and enjoying of His benefits--exactly what Jesus is referring to here:

"R. Giddal said in Rab's name: The Jews are destined to eat [their fill] in the days of the Messiah.[ lit. "Israel shall eat the years of Messiah"] R. Joseph demurred: is this not obvious; who else then should eat — Hilek and Bilek? — This was said in opposition to R. Hillel, who maintained that there will be no Messiah for Israel, since they have already enjoyed him [literally, "devoured him"] during the reign of Hezekiah. [Sanh. 98b, Hillel's words repeated in 99a]

Again, as we saw in the Last Supper, the idea is that of intimacy with the Messiah--the closest possible alignment and identification with His life and scandalous death. The images and metaphors used were part of the rabbinic 'stock' of ideas by which to express messianic and salvific hopes (although some of the way Jesus used them seemed to be aimed at 'shocking' them into listening to what he was saying--instead of operating on their own messianic models.). One main difference, however, is that the intimacy/participation is with His comphrensive mission (including His humiliation--cf. 'take up your cross and follow Me'), not just the politically 'victorious' one.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Incredible Design Of Our Universe

"Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use, "Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be less than 1 part in 1040000." Of course you would…I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 Mev energy level in the nucleus of 12C to the 7.12 Mev level in 16O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix...A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature."

Fred Hoyle, "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections", in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 20, September 1982, p. 16

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Does James 2:24 Teach That We Are Justified By Faith And Works?

        "You see then how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." (James 2:24)

        The Scriptures emphatically declare that works cannot justify us in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul says that we are justified "apart from works" and that God justifies people who "do not work but believe" (Romans 4:2-8). He elsewhere says, "not by works," (Ephesians 2:8-9), "not by works of righteousness which we have done," (Titus 3:5-7), and we are saved, "not according to our works" (2 Timothy 1:9). So the text of James 2:24 cannot be teaching us that justification is merited entirely or even in part by our good works. The surrounding context of this verse, as well as the rest of Scripture, plays a key role here.

        In context, James clearly occupies the word justify to mean vindication, or proven. He does not argue against justification by faith alone, but rather, a salvation that stands without any good works to accompany it. In other words, one's lifestyle must be consistent with his or her profession of faith. Faith will certainly be accompanied with good works because the heart is regenerated by the Spirit of God. If our Christian testimony is not supported with evidence of good character, then the unbelieving world will have no reason to deem our witness for Christ trustworthy or reliable.

        What James is saying is that we demonstrate the reality of our faith by good works. Are we going to merely talk the spiritual talk or actually going to walk the spiritual walk (James 2:14-17)? Are we only going to be hearers of the Word or doers of the Word (James 1:21-22; 26-27)? The question that James addresses is, "Can such faith save a man?" It is not enough to mentally accept the fact that God exists (James 2:19-20). Therefore, James distinguishes between two different kinds of faith. The demons acknowledge that whatever God says is the truth, but are not in fellowship with Him because they lack trust.

        Works are the product or result of a genuinely saving faith. A converted heart by definition will result in a changed life of holiness. James 2:18 especially echoes this theme ("a man may me...I will show you..."). The inspired writer James provides two biblical examples to illustrate his point on the relationship between faith and works (James 2:21-25). The faith of Abraham and Rehab was tested and shown to be true. Faith was "perfected" in that it reached its design or end. An analogy is employed to make the point that faith and works cannot to be separated from each other (James 2:26). The Christian walk is one that glorifies God.

        James is not hereby discussing themes such as the blood of Christ or how one gets right with God, as does Paul (Romans 5:1-11). James occupies the term "justify" in the sense of vindication, which is employed in the same manner elsewhere throughout Scripture (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29; 16:15; Romans 3:4). He focuses on Genesis 15:6 from an evidential perspective. The Apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians deals with the universal scope of man's depravity and condemnation by God's Law, whereas James addresses the narrower scope of hypocrisy within the church. Paul focuses on justification "in His sight" (Romans 3:20; 4:2).

Monday, February 19, 2018

1 Chronicles 16:30: Does The Bible Say That The Earth Doesn't Move?

First off, the passage is clearly introduced as a psalm (i.e. “song” or “prayer”) of David. 1 Chron 16:7 says, “Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.” Like the book of Psalms, the passage uses poetic descriptions to convey spiritual truth – not necessarily literal truth. In the same passage (v. 32-33) David says that the sea “roars,” the fields “rejoice,” and the trees “sing.”

Why don't the same critics who allege this passage endorses geocentricism, also assert the Bible teaches that trees sing? It's because they know that people will immediately recognize trees singing as an obvious use of metaphor. Yet they still quote v. 30 as though it's meant to be a statement of fact. This is a clear case of quote mining where critics cite a passage out of context in order to make it sound like the Bible says something that it clearly does not intend.

Another thing we must be careful to consider is what is meant by the use of the words like “world” and “earth.” Often, when these words are used, they are not referring to the physical earth but the people of the earth. This is demonstrated in the same verse in question. 1 Chron 16:30a says, “Fear before Him all the earth.” Do you think this means the literal “earth” should fear Him or doesn't it more likely mean the people of the earth? It could mean the literal earth in the same sense that the “fields” rejoice. On the other hand, it could also mean the people of the earth. The Bible does use the words “earth” and “world” in that sense; Here are some indisputable examples where this is so:

And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity. (Isaiah 13:11a)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (Luke 2:1)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

In these passages, and others, the word “world” clearly means the people who live in the world. No one, for example, could rationally argue that Luke 2:1 means that the literal earth (that is, dirt and rock) is going to be taxed.

We also must ask what is meant by “not moved.” The most ordinary meaning, of course, is that it means “stationary” and that is what the critics who cite this passage claim it means. However, “not moved” can also mean “not moved from its course” or “unpersuaded.” Psalm 21:7 says, “For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.” I'll ask you: does this passage mean the king is stationary or does it mean that he should not be moved from his trust in the Lord?

In conclusion, remember that this is a psalm. In a poetic passage that says the Lord established the earth that it should not be moved, would it be entirely unreasonable to interpret that to mean the Lord established the ways of the earth (or its people) and it/they will not be moved from the way He established? What is unreasonable is that critics (whether intentionally or by ignorance) ignore the clear context of a passage and assert the correct interpretation of an obvious use of poetry is that it is meant to be literal fact. It's no wonder that critics see the Bible as rife with errors. They obviously have trouble reading.

Three Important Discernment Questions

"There are always essential questions too ask of anyone we hear or anything we read. What is being said? Is it true? And what of it? All three questions are discounted in our modern age of information, but as Christians we must never allow the truth question to be removed from its central place. To be sure, faithfulness is costly in the short term. It is upstream and against the flow, and the flow that was once politically correct can suddenly become a raging and life-threatening intolerance. But costly though that stand may be, it is never as costly as the long-term price of rejecting the authority of Jesus and abandoning the way of life in the gospel. Our Lord warned of that very danger: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt10:28)."

Os Guinness, Impossible People, pg.73-74

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Fatal Flaw Of Pantheism

"Another problem presented by the pantheistic worldview is the idea that humans must come to realize that they are God. If God, the universe, and humans are all eternal, and eternal things do not change, then how can we come to know anything new? If we learn something new, then we change from not knowing something to knowing something, which is impossible for an eternal, unchanging being."

The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, p. 388

Saturday, February 17, 2018

1 Corinthians 3:15 Is Not A Proof-Text For Purgatory

“From at least the time of Gregory the Great (who lived AD 540-604), this verse [1 Cor 3:15] and all of vv11-15 have been cited in the teaching of the Western Church about the ‘purifying fire’ of purgatory (Dialogues 4.41.5: de igne futurae purgationis, ‘about the fire of future purification’; SC 265.150). These verses are quoted explicitly in the letter, ‘Sub catholicae professione,’ of the First Council of Lyons, AD 1254 (DH 838); cf. Council of Florence, AD 1439-45 (DH 1304). That teaching, however, freely accommodates not only the metaphorical sense of these Pauline verses, but also other biblical passages, 2 Macc 12:39-45; Mt 12:32, 36, so that Cevetello rightly recognizes that it is ‘based on tradition, not Sacred Scripture’

‘Purgatory,’ NCE 11:825); and Gnilka has shown that the tradition is neither precise nor constant (Ist l. Kor. 3,10–15),” J. Fitzmyer, 1 Corinthians (Yale 2008), 201, cited by Steve Hays

2 Maccabees Does Not Affirm Purgatory

  • For The Roman Catholic Apologists Who Treat The Apocryphal Text Of 2 Maccabees 12:39-45 As Decisive Proof For The Veracity Of Purgatory, Notice The Demeaning Footnotes Found In the Catholic New American Bible Saint Jerome Press Addition:
          -"12, 42-46: This is the earliest statement of the doctrine that prayers (42) and sacrifices (43) for the dead are beneficial. This statement is made here, however, only for the purpose of proving that Judas believed in the resurrection of the just (2 Mc 7, 9. 14. 23. 36). That is, he believed that expiation could be made for certain sins of otherwise good men-soldiers who had given their lives for God's cause. Thus, they could share in the resurrection. His belief was similar to, but not quite the same as, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory."

    Friday, February 16, 2018

    Examining The Roman Catholic Priesthood

                                         By Richard Bennett of Berean Beacon

    There is a common thread that runs throughout the experiences of former priests whose testimonies are in our book, Far from Rome, Near to God: The Testimonies of Fifty Former Catholic Priests. We had a great yearning to be different from those around us. We wanted to be more pure, nearer to God. We wanted to be free in conscience before God, and we sought the priesthood in which we thought we could administer salvation stage by stage to our fellow man. The nobility and charm of the priesthood also drew us, as priests around us were signally hon­ ored with special privileges and dignity. Hearing confessions, forgiving sins, bringing Christ down upon the altar, the wonder of being “another Christ”, all of these attracted us. In the words of Graham Greene’s novel on the subject, we were drawn by “the power and the glory”.

    We did not question:

    that there is an office of sacrificial priesthood in the New Testament;
    that the priest’s life revolves around the sacraments;
    that we were fit subjects to be elevated to this honor. We had all worked hard at being “holy” so we took for granted that a right standing with God was something that we could merit.

    1. The Office of the Priesthood

    In the early 1970’s, we who gloried in being priests were shocked to read the words of one of our best Roman Catholic Scripture scholars, Raymond E. Brown:

    When we move from the Old Testament to the New Testament, it is striking that while there are pagan priests and Jewish priests on the scene, no individual Christian is ever specifically identified as a priest. The Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the high priesthood of Jesus by comparing his death and entry into heaven with the actions of the Jewish high priest who went into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle once a year with a blood offering for himself and for the sins of his people (Hebrews 9:6-7).

    But it is noteworthy that the author of Hebrews does not associate the priesthood of Jesus with the Eucharist or the Last Supper; neither does he suggest that other Christians are priests in the likeness of Jesus. In fact, the once-for-all atmosphere that surrounds the priesthood of Jesus in Hebrews 10:12-14, has been offered as an explanation of why there are no Christian priests in the New Testament period.1

    Later in the same chapter, Brown argues for a priesthood like that of the Levitical class in the Old Testament. He makes his case for the development of such a doctrine by means of tradition. Even those of us who knew very little of the Bible knew that the Pharisees counted tradition su­perior to the clear Word of God. Brown did more to demolish the conviction that we were in­deed priests than to ease our troubled minds. Now I see that what Brown stated in the section quoted is biblically and absolutely true. Other than the royal priesthood, which applies to all true believers in Christ, there is no office of priesthood in the New Testament. Rather, as Hebrews states so clearly of the Old Testament priests, “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them”2 “Unchangeable priest­hood” means just that in the Greek: aparabatos means “untransferable”. The reason it cannot be transferred to men is that its essence is Christ’s own, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”3

    2. The Priest’s Life Revolves around the Sacraments

    The second presupposition was that the Roman Catholic sacraments gave, as our catechism books said, “outward signs of inward grace”. Our mindset, in the words of Canon 840, was that the sacraments “…contribute in the highest degree to the establishment, strengthening and manifestation of ecclesiastical communion.”4 In fact, the sacraments themselves were for us the center of salvation and of sanctification. For example, regarding confession to a priest, Canon 960 declared that it was “the only ordinary way by which the faithful person who is aware of serious sin is reconciled with God”. Rather than proclaiming the finished work of Christ Jesus as the an­ swer to the problem of our sinful nature and personal sin record, our lives revolved around these physical signs. Some of us were shocked to read in Dollinger (the most respected Roman Catholic historian) that the sacrament of penance (confession) was unknown in the West for 1,100 years and never known in the East. Dollinger said, “So again with Penance. What is given as the essential form of the sacrament was unknown in the Western Church for eleven hundred years, and never known in the Greek.”5 How could this be? The bishops were declared to be high priests “first and foremost” (Canon 835). Were not we as priests also declared to be dis­ pensers of the sacramental system? In the light of God’s Word, this was magic rather than the Gospel message.

    The New Testament has two signs as instituted by the Lord; yet rather than the two signs, center stage in the Bible is the proclaimed message. But for us the sacraments themselves were of major importance. Every day began with Mass. Our doubts regarding the physical sacraments as central to our life with God began from experience. Many of us, priests for many years, had baptized countless infants, and had said the words, “I absolve you,” over countless heads. We had anointed many aged, sick and accident victims with the words, “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” Year after year we saw the children we had baptized as infants grow up as pagan as the pagans on the mission field. The myriads of people over whose heads we had pronounced absolution came up off their knees as much sinners after our words as before them. When the sick and the aged were neither saved nor “raised up”, it was then that some of us dared to check the Bible. Here we discovered, “It is the spirit that quick­ eneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”6 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”7

    The verses in Ephesians shocked us most of all. Our standard definitions of sacraments defined them as “works”, as in the famous Canon 8 of the Council of Trent: “If anyone says that by the sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred ex opere operato [from the work worked], but that faith alone in the divine promise is sufficient to obtain grace, let him be anathe­ ma.”8 It was difficult even to begin to doubt the sacraments. These and other physical signs ab­ sorbed much of our time. During Lent or Holy Week, for example, we had to make arrange­ ments for procuring and putting in order the newly blessed oils, the Pascal candle, the Pascal fire, the palms, the ashes from last year’s palms, the processional cross, the thurible with its charcoals and incense, the purple, red and white vestments, and so on. How could any of us dare to hear the Lord’s principle stated so clearly in John 6:63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” But hear the words we did, as these testimonies bear witness. The Father drew us, showing us our own worthlessness and the sufficiency of his Word. As Jesus said to the Father, “Thy word is truth”9

    3. Unfit Subjects for Honor

    The last presupposition was the most deeply rooted within us. As a child, before ever wanting to become a priest, I had labored at being “holy”. During Lent I would “offer up” candy and sweet drinks to be a better Catholic. I visited nine churches in one day praying alternately “Our Father” six times, “Hail Mary” six times and “Glory Be” six times in each church. Some of us played at being holy by giving white peppermints to our friends when they would kneel down, as if we were the priest giving communion.

    As priests, most of us were very enthusiastic about Vatican Council II. When the docu­ ments were published, some of us preached from them. One of the most popular documents was No. 64, The Church in the Modern World. But when the excitement had calmed, those of us who studied it saw the same message we had lived and preached. Paragraph. 14 states, “…Neverthe­ less man has been wounded by sin….When he is drawn to think about his real self he turns to those deep recesses of his being where God who probes the heart awaits him, and where he him­ self decides his own destiny in the sight of God.” Paragraph. 17 continues, “Since human free­ dom has been weakened by sin it is only by the help of God’s grace that man can give his actions their full and proper relationship to God.”10

    This type of modern teaching seemed very much like the old message. The old message was also contained in Vatican Council II documents in a less popular document, No. 6, Indul­ gentiarum Doctrina, Paragraph. 6 which states: “From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners, particularly the works which human weakness finds hard…Indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people.”11

    All these teachings were endorsed by messages at Lourdes and at Fatima. That many souls go to Hell because there is no one to pray and to do penance for them was part of our third and biggest presupposition. Grace was, of course, presupposed; but it is you who by means of your suffering and good works merit salvation for yourself and for others. This is the net in which all of us who lived the works gospel so intensely were most deeply entangled by Roman Catholicism. This two-fold presupposition; that we were somehow holy and right before a holy God because we had prayed and suffered, and that we would continue as holy and righteous men to practice our religion, became our biggest undoing.

    Mankind’s Condition Before The Holy God

    Christ Jesus describes man’s nature. “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, mur­ ders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, fool­ ishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man”12 And the Prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things; and desperately wicked; who can know it?”13 Both Old and New Testaments tell us that we are spiritually dead to God. Adam’s sin brought death. The Prophet Ezekiel states, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”14 and Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” We are not simply “wounded”, as Roman Catholics believe. We are spiritually dead!

    The Biblical Message of Salvation

    We find the remedy for this situation in both Old and New Testaments. The prophet Isaiah de­clares: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chas­tisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniqui­ty of us all.”15. Peter and John tell us: “ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers; but with the pre­cious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. “And he is the propitia­tion for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”16 The Bible clearly states that salvation was Christ’s work and his alone: “. . .by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”17 Romans 3:26 says that God is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus”. One is saved by God’s work. Salvation is God’s ma­jestic, finished work. Woven through these testimonies is the same scarlet thread of God’s sovereign grace. Before him, each person is dead in sin. By grace one is saved, through faith.

    What the Bible has to say about priesthood becomes crystal clear in these personal testi­monies of men who experienced both the false and the true priesthood (the priesthood of every believer in the once for all sacrifice of Christ Jesus). The best summary of what happened to these men in the Roman Catholic priesthood is found in the words of the Apostle Paul,“There­fore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceit­fully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”18

    1 Raymond E. Brown, Priest and Bishop: Biblical Reflections (Paulist Press, New York 10019, 1970), p. 13.

    2 Hebrews 7:23-25

    3 Hebrews 7:26

    4 Code of Canon Law, Latin-English ed. (Canon Law Society of America, Wash. DC 20064) 1983. All references to canon law are taken from this volume unless otherwise stated.

    5 von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council by Janus, (Authorized tr. from the German “Janus_: Der Papst und das Concil), Roberts Brothers (Boston, 1870) p. 50.

    6 John 6:63

    7 Ephesians 2:8-9

    8 The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, 7th Session, March, 1547, Tr. by Rev. H. J. Schroeder, O.P. (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, IL 61105) 1978.

    9 John 17:17

    10 Vatican Council II Documents, No. 64, Gaudium et Spes, 7 December 1965, Ch. 1, Vol. I, in Documents of Vati­ can II, Vatican Collection, Vol. I, Austin P. Flannery, O.P., Ed. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, MI 1984)

    11 Flannery, Vol. I. (While No. 6, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, 1 January, 1967, is an absolutely official primary source document and is included with the Vatican Council II documents, strictly speaking it is a post-conciliar document of Pope Paul IV).

    12 Mark 7:20-23

    13 Jeremiah17:9

    14 Ezekiel 18:20

    15 Isaiah 53:5-6

    16 I Peter 1:18-19, I John 2:2

    17 Hebrews 1:3

    18 II Corinthians 4:1-2

    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    Church Fathers On Transubstantiation

    Question: The early church fathers believed in the real presence in the Eucharist, as the following quotations confirm.
    They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again. (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans).
    The food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh are nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus. (Justin Martyr, First Apology).
    That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. (Augustine, Sermons, 227).
    Answer: Some church fathers believed in the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist; others considered the elements as signs of the body and blood of Christ, and that His presence is spiritual. Paschasius Radbertus was the first to formulate the doctrine of transubstantiation in the ninth century. He was opposed by Ratranmus, a contemporary monk at the monastery of Corbie. Ratranmus wrote: "The bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ in a figurative sense" (De corpore et sanguine Christi). This controversy between two Catholic monks shows that both views were present in the Catholic church at least up to the eleventh century. The debate continued until the thirteenth century when the final decision was taken by the Lateran Council in 1215. Eventually Radbertus was canonized while Ratranmus' work was placed on the index of forbidden books. The Doctor of the Church, Duns Scotus, admits that transubstantiation was not an article of faith before that the thirteenth century.

    It is misleading to speak about “real presence” as if the term is equivalent to “transubstantiation.” Christians, who consider the bread and wine as strictly symbolical, also believe in the real presence of the Lord among them. Jesus said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Surely Christ is present in the congregation of His people, as He promises, especially during the celebration of the Supper. His presence is real even though it is spiritual and not carnal.

    The Roman Catholic doctrine is defined in the second canon of the thirteenth session of the Council of Trent:
    If anyone says that in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the appearances only of bread and wine remaining, which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.
    In other words, the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ, and in the process the bread and wine cease to exist, except in appearance. The ‘substance’ of the bread and wine do not remain.

    Catholic websites list quotations from the Fathers which supposedly prove the Catholic doctrine. 

    When read superficially and out of context they seem to give clear evidence in favour of transubstantiation. In fact, they do not! I suggest we take as second look at the three quotations above (which are representative of many similar quotations), while keeping in mind Augustine’s advice “to guard us against taking a metaphorical form of speech as if it were literal.” Augustine refers to the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist to illustrate this important principle:

    “…our Lord Himself, and apostolic practice, have handed down to us a few rites in place of many (Old Testament rites), and these at once very easy to perform, most majestic in their significance, and most sacred in the observance; such, for example, as the sacrament of baptism, and the celebration of the body and blood of the Lord. And as soon as any one looks upon these observances he knows to what they refer, and so reveres them not in carnal bondage, but in spiritual freedom. Now, as to follow the letter, and to take signs for the things that are signified by them, is a mark of weakness and bondage” (On Christian Doctrine, Book 3).

    It is wrong to interpret literal speech figuratively; it is equally wrong to interpret metaphorical speech literally. So, let’s see, did the early Fathers believe in transubstantiation, namely the substance of the bread and wine is changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ?


    Ignatius argued against the Gnostic Docetists. They denied the true physical existence of our Lord; thus they also denied his death and resurrection. Ignatius wrote:
    They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.
    The problem with the Gnostics concerned the person of Christ and not the nature of the Eucharist. The heretics did not participate in the Eucharist because they did not believe in what the Eucharist represents, namely the true, physical flesh of Jesus, who actually and really suffered on the cross, and who was really resurrected from the dead.

    We do not have to take the phrase "the Eucharist is the flesh" in a literalistic manner. As in everyday speech, as well as in the Bible, it could simply mean that the Eucharist represents the flesh of Christ. To illustrate, take a similar argument by Tertullian. He is also using the Eucharist to combat Docetism:
    Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, "This is my body," that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body (Against Marcion, Bk 4).
    Tertullian is even more emphatic than Ignatius. He says that Jesus made the bread his own body. But unlike Ignatius, Tertullian goes on to clarify what he meant. Rather than saying that the bread ceases to exist, he calls it the “the figure” of the body of Christ and maintains a clear distinction between the figure and what it represents, namely the “veritable body” of our Lord.

    Justin Martyr

    Justin Martyr (A.D. 151) writes:
    For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Saviour was make incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh are nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66).
    “The change of which our body and flesh are nourished” is not a reference to transubstantiation. According to Catholic author William A. Jurgenes, “The change referred to here is the change which takes place when the food we eat is assimilated and becomes part of our own body” (Jurgens W, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume I, p. 57).

    Justin Martyn calls the Eucharistic bread and wine "the flesh and the blood" of Jesus. Justin believed in the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. However Justin also believed that the bread and wine do not cease to be bread and wine. He speaks of their partaking "of the bread and wine" over which thanksgiving was pronounced. Elsewhere Justin calls the consecrated elements “bread” and “the cup.” They are the flesh and blood of Christ insofar that they are given in remembrance of his incarnation and blood.
    Now it is evident, that in this prophecy [allusion is made] to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho).
    Clearly, while Justin believed in the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, he also believed that the elements remained bread and wine given in remembrance of Christ. Therefore Justin Martyr's view on the Eucharist is dissimilar from the Roman Catholic transubstantiation, and as such he is anathemized by the Roman Church.


    Catholic authors often misuse Augustine’s figurative writings to support the doctrine of transubstantiation. The following example is a case in point:
    That bread, which you can see on the altar, sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That cup, or rather what the cup contains, sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ. It was by means of these things that the Lord Christ wished to present us with his body and blood, which he shed for our sake for the forgiveness of sins. If you receive them well, you are yourselves what you receive. You see, the apostle says, We, being many, are one loaf, one body (1 Cor. 10.17). That's how he explained the sacrament of the Lord's Table; one loaf, one body, is what we all are, many though we be (Augustine, Sermons, 227).
    Augustine believed that in a sense the elements are the body and blood of Jesus. “The bread…is the body of Christ…that cup…is the blood of Christ.” In what sense is he speaking? Is the substance of the bread changed into the body of Christ? Or is bread the body of Christ in a symbolic sense? We can readily discover the answer to this all important question.

    First, looking at the context, it is clear that Augustine is using figurative language. Just as he asserts that the bread is the body of Christ, he is equally emphatic that Christians are one loaf, one body.Clearly, he means that the one Eucharistic loaf represents the unity among believers. Similarly, “by means of these things” - the bread and the cup - the Lord presents his people with his body and blood. The Eucharistic elements are the figure or sign of Christ, as Augustine asserts explicitly elsewhere in his writings:
    • The Lord did not hesitate to say: “This is My Body”, when He wanted to give a sign of His body” (Augustine, Against Adimant).
    • He [Christ] committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His Body and Blood” (Augustine, on Psalm 3).
    • [The sacraments] bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As, therefore, in a certain manner the sacrament of Christ's body is Christ's body, and the sacrament of Christ's blood is Christ's blood” (Augustine, Letter 98, From Augustine to Boniface).
    The Eucharist is the figure of the body and blood of Jesus. Since the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ, it is acceptable to call them His body and His blood. The bread resembles the body; therefore it is called the body even though it is not the reality it represents. That is perfectly normal in figurative language.

    Augustine believed that the bread and cup were signs, which he defines in this manner: “a sign is a thing which, over and above the impression it makes on the senses, causes something else to come into the mind as a consequence of itself” (On Christian Doctrine, 2, 1). Therefore, when we see the bread, something else comes to mind, namely, the body of Christ. The mistake of the modern Catholic Church is to confuse the sign with the reality it represents.

    Augustine rightly warns that "to take signs for the things that are signified by them, is a mark of weakness and bondage" (On Christian Doctrine 3,9). Augustine is here referring to the sacrament of baptism and the celebration of the body and blood of the Lord. Thus, to confuse the bread (the sign) for the body of Christ (the signified) is, according to Augustine a mark of weakness and bondage.

    Copyright Dr Joseph Mizzi
    Used by permission

    Thank you for your partnership in the proclamation of the gospel!
    Joseph Mizzi, 2000 - 2014

    Tuesday, February 13, 2018

    Church Fathers On The Eucharistic Elements

    Question: If God can become man, would it be so impossible that he could make himself present in bread and wine. His Church has believed it since the time of Christ. Why did somebody come along centuries later and try to tell people that He only meant it symbolically, and on what authority did they change what the Church has always believed?

    Answer: From the Catholic point of view, it is incorrect to say that Christ is “present in bread and wine.” That’s more like the concept of consubstantiation (the substance of the body and blood of Jesus coexists with the substance of the bread and wine in the Eucharist) rather that the Catholic transubstantiation (the whole substance of the bread and wine is changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ).

    It is simply not true that the church “always believed” the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. Please study the following quotations; they prove that some Church Fathers considered the Eucharist as the figure, sign, symbol and likeness of the body and blood of Christ.

           Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.)
              Bread and wine are offered, being the figure of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. They who participate in this visible bread eat, spiritually, the flesh of the Lord. (Macarius, Homily xxvii.)
              For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as corn and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace. (Theodoret, Diologue I, Eranistes and Orthodoxus.)

             For even after the consecration the mystic symbols are not deprived of their own nature; they remain in their former substance figure and form; they are visible and tangible as they were before. (Theodoret, Dialogue II, Eranistes and Orthodoxus.)

             For the Lord did not hesitate to say: “This is My Body”, when He wanted to give a sign of His body. (Augustine, Against Adimant.)

             If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man," says Christ, "and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us. (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, III.)

             He admitted him to the Supper in which He committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His Body and Blood. (Augustine, on Psalm 3.)

             We have received a memorial of this offering which we celebrate on a table by means of symbols of His Body and saving Blood according to the laws of the new covenant. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica.)

              To You we offer this bread, the likeness of the Body of the Only-begotten. This bread is the likeness of His holy Body because the Lord Jesus Christ, on the night on which He was betrayed, took bread and broke and gave to His disciples, saying, “Take and eat, this is My Body, which is broken for you, unto the remission of sins.” (Anaphora, quoted in Jurgens W, The Faith of the Early Fathers, II, p 132.)

              Offer the acceptable Eucharist, the representation of the royal body of Christ. (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles.)
     Certainly the sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive are a divine reality, because of which and through which we are made sharers of the divine nature. Nevertheless the substance or nature of bread and wine does not cease to exist. And certainly the image and likeness of the Body and Blood of Christ are celebrated in the carrying out the Mysteries. (Pope Gelasius, de Duabus Naturis).
    Thus some influential Church Fathers considered the bread and wine as sacred symbols of the body and blood of Jesus. Others did not. The view of other Fathers (Cyril, Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom, John of Damascus, etc) were similar to, and later developed into, the doctrine of transubstantiation. There wasn’t a unanimous understanding among the Fathers on the nature of the eucharistic elements.

    It is tragic that the Supper which Christ instituted as a memorial for His people became the occasion for bitter controversy, persecution and schisms. The focus is all wrong. Our concern should not be the bread and wine as such, but what they signify, namely Christ, whose body was crucified for us and whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin.

    Copyright Dr Joseph Mizzi
    Used by permission

    Thank you for your partnership in the proclamation of the gospel!
    Joseph Mizzi, 2000 - 2014