Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Biblical Dilemma For The Catholic Eucharist

        The Roman Catholic Church maintains that the communion elements at the liturgical service are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ by the priest to be consumed by those who are present. Rome teaches that the Eucharist is the means by which Christians maintain spiritual life. It is viewed as the summit of communion with God. The Apostle Paul, however, says that the kingdom of God does not comprise of food and drink (Romans 14:17). The blessings that He provides are a result of His grace. If Paul believed that the repeated consumption of Christ's body as the Eucharist was a requirement for salvation, then this would have been a place for him to affirm such and not categorically reject matters of food and drink as relating to the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Are Acts 15 And Galatians 2 Different Accounts Of The Same Incident?

        There is debate as to whether the Apostle Paul in Galatians 2 was recounting the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. Points of resemblance would include incidents happening at Jerusalem with the same individuals and the same themes being objects of discussion. Both texts center on the question of Gentiles and Law observance. There are, however, a number of recognizable differences between Acts 15 and Galatians 2.

        The discussion of Acts 15 is a public meeting and Paul's confrontation of Peter in Galatians 2 is personal in nature. Moreover, nowhere is a public decision or letter sent by attendees of the Jerusalem Council mentioned in Galatians. We read in Paul's epistle that he made two visits to Jerusalem. James advocates for Gentiles in Acts 15 and it is Paul who plays a similar role in Galatians 2. How are we to settle this matter?

        One theory advanced to resolve this difficulty is that Paul in Galatians 2 was not so much referring to Acts 15 but to the incident of famine relief in Acts 11:27-30. Paul having been prompted by a revelation to make a second journey is consistent a prophecy uttered by Agabus (Galatians 2:2). He also speaks of keeping the needy in mind (Galatians 2:10). The Apostle Peter's hypocrisy relating to eating with Gentiles fits the context of Acts 10-11. The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote on Galatians 2:1:

        "again to Jerusalem" This may refer to a second visit following his conversion, or to a third visit, recorded in Acts 15:2. The purpose of the visit mentioned here corresponds well with the purpose of the visit in Acts 15, but it is difficult, on this theory, to explain why Paul leaves the second visit (Acts 11:27–30) out of his narrative. If, as some scholars believe, Galatians was written after Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13; 14) but before the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), then the journey spoken of here is the Acts 11 journey, and the Acts 15 journey has not yet occurred."

        Duke University New Testament scholar Mark Goodacre takes a different approach to this question, noting the style of Greco-Roman biographies. Another writer outlines his perspective as follows:

        "Goodacre describes Acts 9 as a type of “flash forward” of the events described in Acts 11. But it might be better to think of Acts 11 as a “flashback” to the events of Acts 9, which might fit in well with the use of such compositional devices found in other Greco-Roman biographies. It would be reasonable to suggest that Luke effectively repeats the story of Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem, between Acts 9 and Acts 11, to tie those passages together. In the interim, Luke in Acts 9:32 to Acts 11:18 picks up the story of Peter, specifically focusing on the story of Cornelius, the Gentile Roman military officer, and his conversion to Christ. Once done with the story of Peter and Cornelius, Luke recalls where he earlier stopped off with telling Paul’s story, and to bring things back to Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem. Why does Luke do this? We can not be completely certain. It is quite possible that Luke’s objective in Acts is to narrate how the church grew from being a Jewish-only movement to becoming a Jewish-Gentile movement, centered around the mission of Paul, a converted Jew to Christ, to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. In other words, Luke selects material from the history of the early church, to focus first on Peter, and then to transition to the character of the apostle Paul. It would only be fitting for Luke to build up the story of how the church overcame the problems between Jew and Gentile, by temporarily highlighting the background and story of Peter’s interactions with Cornelius, before returning to his main narrative, following the apostle Paul."

Comments On The Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation Rendering Of 2 Peter 1:1

        "Simon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have acquired a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:1, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:1, New American Standard Bible, emphasis added)

        The Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower Society has rendered 2 Peter 1:1 in a way to evade its support for the deity of Christ. Theological bias in this translation is made glaringly conspicuous as examples of the same type of Greek constructions are rendered correctly elsewhere in the same epistle:

        "In fact, in this way you will be richly granted entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:11, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "Certainly if after escaping from the defilements of the world by an accurate knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they get involved again with these very things and are overcome, their final state has become worse for them than the first." (2 Peter 2:20, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "No, but go on growing in the undeserved kindness and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18, New World Translation, emphasis added)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Comments On The Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation Rendering Of Acts 20:28

        “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28, New American Standard Bible, emphasis added)

        The Watchtower Society's rendering of Acts 20:28 is a clear example of bias to circumvent the text's implicit support for the deity of Jesus Christ. This passage has been intentionally altered by the translators to get around the fact that He is the God-man.

        Following is an excerpt on Acts 20:28 from the New English Translation:

        "tc The reading “of God” (τοῦ θεοῦ, tou theou) is found in א B 614 1175 1505 al vg sy; other witnesses have “of the Lord” (τοῦ κυρίου, tou kuriou) here (so P A C* D E Ψ 33 1739 al co), while the majority of the later minuscule mss conflate these two into “of the Lord and God” (τοῦ κυρίου καὶ [τοῦ] θεοῦ, tou kuriou kai [tou] theou). Although the evidence is evenly balanced between the first two readings, τοῦ θεοῦ is decidedly superior on internal grounds. The final prepositional phrase of this verse, διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου (dia tou haimatos tou idiou), could be rendered “through his own blood” or “through the blood of his own.” In the latter translation, the object that “own” modifies must be supplied (see tn below for discussion). But this would not be entirely clear to scribes; those who supposed that ἰδίου modified αἵματος would be prone to alter “God” to “Lord” to avoid the inference that God had blood. In a similar way, later scribes would be prone to conflate the two titles, thereby affirming the deity (with the construction τοῦ κυρίου καὶ θεοῦ following the Granville Sharp rule and referring to a single person [see ExSyn 272, 276-77, 290]) and substitutionary atonement of Christ. For these reasons, τοῦ θεοῦ best explains the rise of the other readings and should be considered authentic. sn That he obtained with the blood of his own Son. This is one of only two explicit statements in Luke-Acts highlighting the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death (the other is in Luke 22:19)."

Comparing Spiritual Things With Spiritual Things

"The subject of verses 12 and 13 is the doctrine of inspiration. In verse 12 Paul talks about the content of inspiration. That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. In verse 13 his concern is with the communication of inspiration which things (the things freely given) also we speak. Paul's message was not of human contrivance. He was a channel, simply communicating God's truth. The faithful minister of the gospel today does the same thing. He takes of that truth, God's Word, and communicates it to man. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual. The term comparing (Gr synekrino) occurs only here and in II Corinthians 10:12 where the meaning is clearly "compare." However, in classical Greek, the term was always used in a sense of "to compound" or "to interpret" (cf. LXX Gen 40:8). Probably the most satisfactory interpretation is "combining spiritual things with spiritual words," or "doing spiritual things by spiritual means." After speaking of spiritual things (11-13), Paul now speaks of the forms in which they are conveyed. In other words, spiritual truth is conveyed in language that is given by God's Spirit. This would not be the case if he uttered the revelations of the Spirit in the speech of human wisdom (cf. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. II, p. 197). Having established the principle by which God's truth is made known, the apostle contrasts to kinds of men to whom the truth comes, i.e., the natural and the spiritual man."

King James Version Bible Commentary, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, p. 1462

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Born Of Incorruptible Seed

"Note the ideas of the "sprouting seed" and "new life" which recur in verse 1 Pe 1:23 where this same word is used. The results of the new birth for which Christians are obligated to praise God are indicated by three words in the original each preceded by the same Greek preposition: observe the words lively hope in verse 1 Pe 1:3, inheritance in verse 1 Pe 1:4, and salvation in verse 1 Pe 1:5. Because of the new birth we have a lively hope, which should probably be understood as the hope of the resurrection. We should note that the word hope is used in the Bible with the distinctive meaning "confident expectation." Today, of course, hope means merely to "want" something to happen, without having any real assurance that it will happen, as in the sentence, “I hope tomorrow will be a sunny day." The resurrection is the central hope of Christianity; it is not merely something that we want to happen, but an assurance we have. We know we shall rise!"

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 1729

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Passover Cup And Our Redemption

"The cup. Three cups were passed around by the Jewish householder during the Passover meal; the third, which is probably that referred to here, being known as "the cup of blessing." My blood of the new testament taken from the LXX of Exodus 24:8 with allusions to Jeremiah 31 and Zechariah 9:11. The covenant in Exodus 24:8 was sealed with blood. The word testament (Gr diathe ke) did not mean a covenant, which is an agreement between equals, but a settlement by a great or rich man for the benefit of another. As the most common form of settlement was, and still is, by testament or will, the word came to have this meaning almost exclusively. Shed for many for the remission of sins. Here is a clear statement that the death of Jesus was necessary to enable God to forgive sins. It, in fact, made it right or morally justifiable for Him to do so. That day, i.e., when He comes again in glory."

King James Version Bible Commentary, Matthew 26:27-30, p. 1227

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Superiority Of The New Covenant To The Old

[2 Corinthians] 3:7 the ministry of death. Refers to the law and particularly to the Ten Commandments, which were engraved on stone (Deut. 9:10). Since the law showed man his sinfulness and gave him no power to break out of it, it ministered death. Note that the law "fades away" (v. 11). When Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the law, his face shown so that the people were afraid to approach him (Ex. 34:29-30). But just as his radiance so also the Mosaic Law was temporary.

[2 Corinthians] 3:8 The dispensation of the Spirit comes with even more glory than the old order.

[2 Corinthians] 3:11 There is no question that the law was glorious for its time and purpose, but its temporary nature and limited purpose caused that glory to fade in the light of the grace of Christ, which has as its eternal purpose the bringing of many sons into glory (John 1:17; Heb. 2:10).

[2 Corinthians] 3:13 Paul means here that Moses veiled his face that the Israelites might not see the fading away of the transitory glory reflected in his countenance.

[2 Corinthians] 3:15 a veil lies over their heart. I.e., as long as they consider the law as permanent and do not turn to Christ, who takes away the veil (v. 14).

[2 Corinthians] 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit. A strong statement that Christ and the Holy Spirit are one in essence, though Paul also recognized the distinctions between them (13:14).

[2 Corinthians] 3:18 with unveiled face, beholding. Paul builds on the experience of Moses in Ex. 34:29-35. We Christians, he says, behold Christ's divine glory., and this beholding changes or transforms us us from glory to glory; i.e., from one degree of glory to another.

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p. 1437

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Beginning Of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ

        "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1)

        The gospel, or good news, is the message of salvation from sin by Jesus Christ. It consists of His death, burial, and resurrection. The gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Christ is both the object and the source of the gospel.

        Mark may have been alluding to the introductory words of Genesis ("In the beginning...") as he began writing his account ("The beginning of the gospel..."). This language points to Christ as the New Adam who presides over a new heaven and a new earth. There are two different narratives of events in a single glorious story of redemption.

        To be called the "Son of God" entailed deity from a Jewish point of view and thus the usage of that title would be blasphemous if given to a mere man. Moreover, the Roman Emperor would be called the son of a god. The Kingship of Jesus Christ would have presented a dilemma to both worldviews. Following is an excerpt from Dr. Thomas Constable's expository notes:

        "Mark further identified Jesus Christ as the "Son of God." This title does not appear is some important early manuscripts of Mark, but it is probably legitimate. [Note: See Carson and Moo, p187.] It expresses Jesus" unique relationship to God and identifies an important theme in the second Gospel (cf. Mark 1:11; Mark 3:11; Mark 5:7; Mark 9:7; Mark 12:6; Mark 13:32; Mark 14:36; Mark 14:61; Mark 15:39). The title is messianic, but it connotes a subordinate relationship to God. Mark presented Jesus as the Servant of God particularly in this book. Rather than recording a nativity narrative that showed that Jesus was the Son of God, Mark simply stated that fact with this title. [Note: See Herbert W. Bateman IV, "Defining the Titles "Christ" and "Son of God" in Mark"s Narrative Presentation of Jesus," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society50:3 (September2007):537-59.]"

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Roman Catholic Church Gets John 6 Wrong

        In the Old Testament, eating bread was considered the equivalent of obedience to God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). This kind of reasoning in regard to the Book of the Law is also echoed in the Jewish Apocrypha:

        "He who eats of me will hunger still, he who drinks of me will thirst for more; he who obeys me will not be put to shame, he who serves me will never fail.' All this is true of the book of Most High’s covenant, the law which Moses commanded us as an inheritance for the community of Jacob." (Sirach 24:20-22)

        Just as God had provided manna to the Israelites in the desert as deliverance from starvation, so He had sent Jesus Christ into this world as a sacrificial provision to deliver us from eternal condemnation. That is the meaning of Christ being "bread from heaven."

        Unlike the Torah, Christ can completely satisfy our spiritual huger and thirst (John 6:49-51). "Eating flesh" and "drinking blood" is to be understood as trusting in Christ for salvation. We consume Him by faith and He sustains us spiritually by that same means (John 6:35-40).

        It is the words of Christ that impart life to those who believe (John 5:24; 6:63). This perspective of eating finds its basis in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 2:8-3:3). To interpret John 6:50-58 as referring to Catholic transubstantiation misses the entire point.

Does Luke 2:34-35 Support Mary As Co-Mediator Or Co-Redemptrix?

        Roman Catholic apologists sometimes make reference to Luke 2:34-35 in defending the idea of Mary being co-mediator or co-redemptrix. Following is an article excerpt to illustrate how the argument has been made:

        "Who can measure the sorrows of Our Lady? The fullness of grace abiding in her, infused her with a love that completely transcended our human limitations. Because of this, her sorrow likewise knew no bounds. The two realities in her have been linked at various times to other titles, most notably "Our Lady of Compassion" and "Our Lady of Hope," both beautiful because they speak to this union of love and sorrow. Simeon’s prophecy, as Mary and Joseph present the infant Jesus in the Temple, is the first public pronouncement to Mary of where her relationship with the God-Man, her child, will take her (Luke 2:34-35)."

        The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote: "2:35 sword. The sword imagery means that all this will not be without cost to Mary as she sees her Son rejected and crucified. The sword does not refer to any atoning work, but of the deep anguish it will cost her."

        The Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote on Luke 2:35: "[2:35] (And you yourself a sword will pierce): Mary herself will not be untouched by the various reactions to the role of Jesus (Lk 2:34). Her blessedness as mother of the Lord will be challenged by her son who describes true blessedness as “hearing the word of God and observing it” (Lk 11:27–28 and Lk 8:20–21)."

        As the above two cited commentaries make evident, there is nothing in Luke 2:34-35 about Mary participating in the atonement of Jesus Christ. That is a foreign concept which has to be read into the text of Scripture.

        There is nothing in this passage about Mary "taking on a universal motherhood for all of us." Such a presupposition is driven by a wild desire to turn Mary into some sort of a goddess.

Monday, May 18, 2020

For The Beauty Of The Earth

      For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies, For the Love which from our birth Over and around us lies: Christ, our God, to Thee we raise This our Sacrifice of Praise.

      For the beauty of each hour Of the day and of the night, Hill and vale, and tree and flower, Sun and moon and stars of light: Christ, our God, to Thee we raise This our Sacrifice of Praise.

      For the joy of ear and eye, For the heart and brain's delight, For the mystic harmony Linking sense to sound and sight: Christ, our God, to Thee we raise This our Sacrifice of Praise.

      For the joy of human love, Brother, sister, parent, child, Friends on earth, and friends above; For all gentle thoughts and mild: Christ, our God, to Thee we raise This our Sacrifice of Praise.

       For each perfect Gift of Thine To our race so freely given, Graces human and Divine, Flowers of earth, and buds of Heaven: Christ, our God, to Thee we raise This our Sacrifice of Praise.

     For Thy Bride that evermore Lifteth holy hands above, Offering up on every shore This Pure Sacrifice of Love: Christ, our God, to Thee we raise This our Sacrifice of Praise.

     For Thy Martyrs' crown of light, For Thy Prophets' eagle eye, For Thy bold Confessors' might, For the lips of Infancy: Christ, our God, to Thee we raise This our Sacrifice of Praise.

     For Thy Virgins' robes of snow, For Thy Maiden Mother mild, For Thyself, with hearts aglow, Jesu, Victim undefiled, Offer we at Thine own Shrine Thyself, sweet Sacrament Divine.

Hymn published by Fol­li­ot S. Pier­point

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Jesus Christ Is The Word That Became Flesh

        "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

        The Apostle John places an emphasis on flesh as polemic against the Gnostic idea that everything pertaining to the physical or material world is inherently corrupt. Docetists maintained that the the body of Jesus Christ was not real but illusionary. The suffering that He underwent on the cross was only apparent. In contrast, John expresses the true humanity of Christ. Consider also these statements from other writings by the same apostle:

        "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." (1 John 4:2-3, emphasis added)

        "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." (2 John 7, emphasis added)

        During the Old Testament, God dwelt in the tabernacle and the temple (Exodus 25:8-9; 40:34-38; 1 Kings 8:10-11, 27). In the New Testament, this concept finds its place in Christ taking on human flesh. The Ryrie Study Bible has this footnote:

        "In the OT, glory expressed the splendor of divine manifestation and attested the divine presence. Here it means the visible manifestation of God in Christ."

        Concerning the phrase "dwelt among us," the New American Bible Revised Edition has this excerpt:

        "The Greek verb has the same consonants as the Aramaic word for God’s presence (Shekinah)."

        Just as God the Father is not a father to Christ in the same sense of a parent to child relationship, the Son is not a son of God in the same sense as we are sons of God. There exists a unique relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Our special status as sons of God is given to us by adoption, and we cannot become divine.

        The phrase "full of grace and truth" should be understood in light of its Old Testament backdrop of God's relationship with Israel (Exodus 34:6-7). Christ has the same characteristics. He is loving, merciful, and just.

        Christ took on human flesh so that He can experience suffering and death. His divinity enabled Him to pay an infinite debt of sin. That is something which we could never do.

Christians And Debt

Romans [13:8] Some debt may be permitted because of Matt. 5:42, but the command is, literally, not to continue in debt. Love is a debt one can never fully discharge.

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p. 1405

Saturday, May 16, 2020

John 1:1 And The Deity Of Christ

[John] 1:1 In the beginning. Before time began, Christ was already in existence with God. That is what is meant by the term "the pre-existent Christ." See Gen. 1:1 and 1 John 1:1. Word (Gr. logos). Logos means "word, thought, concept, and the expressions thereof." In the OT the concept conveyed activity and revelation, and the word or wisdom of God is often personified (Ps. 33:6; Prov. 8). In the Targums (Aramaic expressions of the OT) it was a designation of God. To the Greek mind it expressed ideas of reason and control. Reason is the keynote in the logos concept. Here it is applied to Jesus, who is all that God is and the expression of Him (1:1; 14). In this verse the Word (Christ) is said to be with God (i.e., in communion with and yet distinct from God).

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p. 1303

Friday, May 15, 2020

Forgeries And The New Testament Canon

First, there are examples of forgeries coming to light in the ancient church, and the church's response to them is illuminating. For example, 3 Corinthians, a document that circulated both by itself and as part of the Acts of Paul, was discovered to be a forgery. The author, an elder who wrote the work because of his love for Paul, was defrocked by Tertullian for this fabrication. In about 200, when Serapion, bishop of Antioch, learned that the Gospel of Peter was not written by the apostle, he declared, “For our part, brethren, we receive both Peter and the other apostles as Christ, but the writings which falsely bear their names we reject, as men of experience, knowing that such were not handed down to us.”20

In the second century, the Muratorian Canon condemned both the letter to the Laodiceans and the letter to the Alexandrians because both were “forged in Paul's name."21 One of the proofs of forgery was a lack of early attestation. In fact, if a work was found to be of recent origin, even if its authorship was not in doubt, it was not considered to be canonical. For example, the Muratorian Canon rejected the Shepherd of Hermas because, though it was edifying literature, it was composed “very recently, in our times, in the city of Rome." Lack of antiquity was the sole reason for its rejection, for this document was written after the time of the apostles.22

Eusebius echoes this sentiment. In the first quarter of the fourth century, he spoke about the New Testament canon at length....at least twenty of the twenty-seven New Testament books were already accepted by his time and that the rest were tentatively accepted. It is worthwhile to see all of his reasoning and why some books were to be rejected outright:

At this point it seems reasonable to summarize the writings of the New Testament which have been quoted. In the first place should be put the holy tetrad of the Gospels. To them follows the writing of the Acts of the Apostles. After this should be reckoned the Epistles of Paul. Following them the Epistle of John called the first, and in the same way should be recognized the Epistle of Peter. In addition to these should be put, if it seem desirable, the Revelation of John, the arguments concerning which we will expound at the proper time. These belong to the Recognized Books (homolegoumena). Of the Disputed Books (antilegomena which are nevertheless known to most are the Epistle called of James, that of Jude, the second Epistle of Peter, and the so-called second and third Epistles of John which may be the work of the evangelist or of some other with the same name. Among the books which are not genuine must be reckoned the Acts of Paul, the work entitled the Shepherd, the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to them the letter called Barnabas and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles. And in addition, as I said, the Revelation of John, if this view prevail. For, as I said, some reject it, but others count it among the Recognized Books. Some have also counted the Gospel according to the Hebrews in which those of the Hebrews who have accepted Christ take a special pleasure. These would all belong to the disputed books, but we have nevertheless been obliged to make a list of them, distinguishing between those writings which, according to the tradition of the Church, are true, genuine, and recognized, and those which differ from them in that they are not canonical but disputed, yet nevertheless are known to most of the writers of the Church, in order that we might know them and the writings which are put forward by heretics under the name of the apostles containing gospels such as those of Peter, and Thomas, and Matthias, and some others besides, or Acts such as those of Andrew and John and the other apostles. To none of these has any who belonged to the succession of the orthodox ever thought it right to refer in his writings. Moreover, the type of phraseology differs from apostolic style, and the opinion and tendency of their contents is widely dissonant from true orthodoxy and clearly shows that they are the forgeries of heretics. They ought, therefore, to be reckoned not even among spurious books but shunned as altogether wicked and impious.23

Beyond the twenty or more books Eusebius considered undisputed, some books were disputed because of doubts about authorship or antiquity. But if they were sufficiently early and widely read, they were considered as possible candidates for the canon. Finally, other books were rejected outright because they were of recent vintage or plainly taught error. Thus, forty years before the first definitive canon list of twenty-seven books was composed by Athanasius in 367, the church already had been wrestling seriously with the criteria of canonicity: apostolicity, catholicity, and orthodoxy. The heretical books failed all three tests.

Second, the heretical gospels were products of the second and later centuries....One piece of evidence that supports this is found in the very first canon list, produced by the heretic Marcion in about 140. Marcion lists only Luke and ten of Paul's letters in his canon. As noted previously, Marcion was a Docetist, whose views would be largely compatible with Gnostic teaching. Why then did he include parts of only our New Testament in his list? Why didn't he include such Gnostic works as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Mary or the Acts of Peter? The most likely inference is that these books did not yet exist, or they were too new to be regarded as authentic.

Third, as Carson and Moo note, “So far as the evidence of the Fathers goes, when they explicitly evaluated a work for its authenticity, canonicity and pseudonymity proved mutually exclusive.”24 Even though scholars today often argue that the ancient church was soft on issues of authorship, if these Christians were convinced that a book was bogus, it got the boot.

J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, p. 145-148

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Fatal Flaw Of Jehovah's Witnesses Christology

        Jesus Christ stated that the greatest demonstration of love is giving up one's own life on behalf of others (John 15:13). That is precisely what He did for us when He made atonement for our sin on the cross. Now, the Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God. In order to remain consistent with their theology, they must accept the idea of a creature doing a greater act of love than the Creator Himself because it was the former who laid down His own life in our place. The Trinity is the solution to this dilemma. If Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Godhead, then it is God who has made the greatest possible demonstration of love.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Comments On The Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation Rendering Of Matthew 25:46

        “And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” (Matthew 25:46, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:46, New American Standard Bible, emphasis added)

        "Cutting-off" as a word choice in Matthew 25:46 by the Watchtower Society is a clear example of them taking liberties with the text of Scripture to support their false doctrine of annihilation.

        The text actually proves injurious to the Jehovah's Witnesses position because heaven and hell are paired side by side and described as eternal.

        Moreover, the Greek kolasis is better translated as "punishment" than "cutting-off" because that word is consistent with the overall context of Scripture.

        Jude says that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah suffer "eternal fire" (Jude 7) which lasts "forever" (Jude 13) as an object lesson for the ungodly. That language has very specific implications. It does not sit well with annihilationism.

The Watchtower Society Makes False Prophetic Statements (A Shocking Admission)

Jehovah’s Witnesses have had wrong expectations about when the end would come. Like Jesus’ first-century disciples, we have sometimes looked forward to the fulfillment of prophecy ahead of God’s timetable. (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) We agree with the sentiment of longtime

Witness A. H. Macmillan, who said: “I learned that we should admit our mistakes and continue searching God’s Word for more enlightenment.”

Why, then, do we continue to highlight the nearness of the end? Because we take seriously Jesus’ words: “Keep looking, keep awake.” The alternative, to be found “sleeping” by Jesus, would prevent us from gaining his favor. (Mark 13:33, 36) Why?

Consider this example: A lookout in a fire tower might see what he thinks is a wisp of smoke on the horizon and sound what proves to be a false alarm. Later, though, his alertness could save lives.

Likewise, we have had some wrong expectations about the end. But we are more concerned with obeying Jesus and saving lives than with avoiding criticism. Jesus’ command to “give a thorough witness” compels us to warn others about the end.—Acts 10:42.

We believe that even more important than focusing on when the end will come, we must be confident that it will come, and we must act accordingly. We take seriously the words of Habakkuk 2:3, which says: “Even if [the end] should delay [compared to what you thought], keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.

January 1, 2013 issue of the Watchtower magazine, p. 8

Monday, May 11, 2020

Early Church Evidence Against Transubstantiation

“Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: “Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood;” describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,-of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle...Thus in many ways the Word is figuratively described, as meat, and flesh, and food, and bread, and blood, and milk. The Lord is all these, to give enjoyment to us who have believed on Him. Let no one then think it strange, when we say that the Lord's blood is figuratively represented as milk. For is it not figuratively represented as wine? “Who washes,” it is said, “His garment in wine, His robe in the blood of the grape.” In His Own Spirit He says He will deck the body of the Word; as certainly by His own Spirit He will nourish those who hunger for the Word.”

Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor 1.6

Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Discourse Against The Catholic Dogma Of Purgatory

  • Discussion:
          -Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to rebut a few arguments and rebuttals in defense of the Roman Catholic dogma of purgatory. Following are a few excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "...the sacrifice of Christ is no longer there for one "who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified"; such a one can "throw away [one's] confidence" and "shrink back" and be "destroyed" (Hebrews 10:28-39). The only thing such a sinner looks forward to is judgment, for "the Lord will judge his people" (cf. Romans 2:5-10). We are to keep faith and endure to the end to be saved, "so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised" (cf. Matthew 24:13; 2 Peter 1:10f)."

          The text from Hebrews addresses people who knowingly and willingly reject the atonement for sin that God provides. It is about persevering in the faith, not purification of souls after death. The author of Hebrews addresses an audience who professes Christ and does not provide commentary on how things work in the afterlife.

          The text from Matthew is descriptive, not prescriptive, in nature. The text from 2 Peter simply gives us a picture of what takes place in sanctification and does not concern the instance of justification itself.

          "...the final step into heaven would require us to be perfectly purified and made completely holy through Christ’s grace, since the church in heaven, where "nothing unclean can enter" contains holy and perfected people (cf. Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:14, 23; 1 Thess 5:23; Eph 5:26f; Rev 21:27). So we DO "need to be purified" according to Scripture (cf. Mal 3:2-3; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 1 Cor 3:12-15; Hebrews 12:29), and Christ's one sacrifice is the application of that final purification and sanctification necessary for heaven -- which Catholics call "purgatory."

          Certainly, we must persevere in faith and nothing unclean can enter heaven. The point of contention is whether good works are meritorious. If a person is interested in further discussion on whether Purgatory is an integral part of being purified in order to enter the kingdom of God, then he or she can view articles here, here, and here.

          "There is no evidence in Scripture of the infamous mantra “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (some say it is implied in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 which actually reads: "we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord" -- RSV). There is often desire to be away from the body and be with Christ, but what believer wouldn’t desire this?"

          In order to respond to the above objection, the surrounding context of 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 has been presented:

          "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." (2 Corinthians 5:1-9, emphasis added)

          The Apostle Paul clearly sets up a twofold division between absence and presence. So it is erroneous to assert that the "famous mantra" has "no evidence" in Scripture.

          There are a number of passages in Scripture that mention the intermediate state and nowhere is the idea of purgatory even hinted at (John 14:1-4; Revelation 7:14-17; 20:11-15). All these texts point to the souls of believers going directly to be with God in heaven after death. Nowhere is a temporary abode that exists to purify our souls of venial sin spoken of. The repentant thief on the cross was promised eternal bliss that same day by Jesus Christ Himself (Luke 23:39-43).

          The view of purgatory that has been a tradition of Roman Catholicism for a very long time is that it is a place of intense suffering to satisfy divine justice. This experience is anything but pleasant. In Catholic theology, purgatory exists for people to make atonement for the remaining guilt of venial sin committed during their earthly lives. Purgatory has been described as a sin purifying fire. Therefore, Roman Catholic apologists who describe purgatory in terms of peace, bliss, and excitement are not at all representing historic belief.

          Primitive writers such as Clement of Rome and Polycarp refer to Christians as being in heaven without any mention of purgatory. This Roman Catholic dogma is a product of Greek speculation, discussed in more detail in this article. One Eastern Orthodox blogger makes the following point regarding the consensus of belief in purgatory in the early church:

          "...if the doctrine of Purgatory was well-established Jewish belief that was carried into Christianity since Apostolic times, why was the doctrine doubtful even in the fifth century? Augustine himself vacillated on the issue. In the Handbook of Faith, Hope, and Love his comment on the doctrine’s doubtfulness reveal that it was surely not universally accepted in his own time: “It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire” (Chap 69). In City of God he speaks to the same effect: “But if it be said that in the interval of time between the death of this body and that last day of judgment and retribution which shall follow the resurrection, the bodies of the dead shall be exposed to a fire of such a nature that it shall not affect those who have not in this life indulged in such pleasures and pursuits as shall be consumed like wood, hay, stubble…this I do not contradict, because possibly it is true” (Book 21, Chap 26)."

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Of Inequality

Plutarch somewhere says that he finds no such great difference between beast and beast as between man and man. He speaks of the mind and internal qualities. I could find in my heart to say there is more difference between one man and another than between such a man and such a beast; and that there are as many degrees of spirits as steps between earth and heaven.

But concerning the estimation of men, it is marvellous that we ourselves are the only things not esteemed for their proper qualities. We commend a horse for his strength and speed, not for his trappings; a greyhound for his swiftness, not his collar; a hawk for her wing, not for her bells. Why do we not likewise esteem a man for that which is his own? He has a goodly train of followers, a stately palace, so much rent coming in, so much credit among men. Alas, all that is about him, not in him. If you buy a horse you see him bare of saddle and cloths. When you judge of a man, why consider his wrappings only? In a sword it is the quality of the blade, not the value of the scabbard, to which you give heed. A man should be judged by what he is himself, not by his appurtenances. 

Let him lay aside his riches and external honours and show himself in his shirt. Has he a sound body? What mind has he? Is it fair, capable, and unpolluted, and happily equipped in all its parts? Is it a mind to be settled, equable, contented, and courageous in any circumstances? Is he-

 A wise man, of himself commander high, Whom want, nor death, nor bands can terrify, Resolved t'affront desires, honours to scorn, All in himself, close, round, and neatly borne, Against whose front externals idly play, And even fortune makes a lame essay? 

Such a man is five hundred degrees beyond kingdoms and principalities; himself is a kingdom unto himself. Compare with him the vulgar troop--stupid, base, servile, warring, floating on the sea of passions, depending wholly on others. There is more difference than between heaven and earth, yet in a blindness of custom we take little or no account of it. Whereas, if we consider a cottage and a king, a noble and a workman, a rich man and a poor, we at once recognise disparity, although, as one might say, they differ in nothing but their clothes. 

An emperor, whose pomp so dazzles us in public, view him behind the curtain is but an ordinary man, and peradventure viler and sillier than the least of his subjects! Cowardice, irresolution, ambition, spite, anger, envy, move and work in him as in another man. Fear, care, and suspicion haunt him even in the midst of his armed troops. Does the ague, the headache, or the gout spare him more than us? When age seizes on his shoulders, can the tall yeoman of his guard rid him of it? His bedstead encased with gold and pearls cannot allay the pinching pangs of colic!

The flatterers of Alexander the Great assured him he was the son of Jupiter, but being hurt one day, and the blood gushing from the wound, "What think you of this?" said he to them. "Is not this blood of a lively red hue, and merely human?" If a king have the ague or the gout what avail his titles of majesty? But if he be a man of worth, royalty and glorious titles will add but little to good fortune.

Truly, to see our princes all alone, sitting at their meat, though beleaguered with talkers, whisperers, and gazing beholders, I have often rather pitied than envied them. The honour we receive from those who fear and stand in awe of us is no true honour.

"Service holds few, though many hold service." Every man's manners and his mind His fortune for him frame and find.

The World's Greatest Books (Philosophy and Economics), Vol. XIV, p. 68-70

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Superiority Of The Gift Of Love

1 Corinthians 13:1

"Love."

The word rendered "charity" in the Old Version, and "love" in the Revised Version of our New Testament, is not a classical substantive. It is emphatically a Christian term. And this need not be wondered at; for as the virtue itself is one, if not created, yet developed by Christianity, it is what might have been expected to find that the thing gave rise to the name. This chapter has been called a psalm of love, and is admired both for its elevated thinking and its melodious diction, whilst to such as are imbued with the true Christian spirit it is especially congenial and delightful.

I. MISCONCEPTIONS HAVE TO BE REMOVED. E.g.:

1. The use of the word "charity" is ambiguous. It is often used as equivalent to tolerance, as in the phrase, "the judgment of charity;" and often as synonymous with "almsgiving," as in the sad proverb, "Cold as charity." Neither of these uses meets the requirements of the text.

2. "Love" is also an ambiguous word, being commonly applied to the feeling of attraction and attachment between young people of opposite sexes—a usage which evidently has no applicability here.

II. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE HAS TO BE EXPLAINED.

1. It is between one human being and another. The question is not of reverent love to God, but of the mutual feelings of those endowed with the same spiritual nature.

2. It is a sentiment, and there is no love where there is simply a principle of action, cold and unimpassioned.

3. It is a sentiment which governs conduct, restraining men from injuring or slandering one another, and impelling them to mutual assistance.

III. THE SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE HAS TO BE TRACED.

1. Its true and ultimate origin is in the nature of God, who is love.

2. Its introduction among men is chiefly owing to the Lord Jesus, who was the gift of the Father's love, whose whole ministry to earth was a revelation of love, and whose benevolent conduct and sacrificial death were the fruit of love.

3. Its individual power and social efficacy are owing to the presence and operation of the Spirit of God. Not without significance is love mentioned first in the inventory of the fruits of the Spirit, which are these: love, joy, peace, etc.

IV. THE EXCELLENCY OF CHRISTIAN LOVE HAS TO BE EXHIBITED. This is done in this chapter, systematically, in several ways.

1. It is superior to the supernatural gifts generously bestowed upon the Church in the first age.

2. It is the motive to dispositions and actions of the highest degree of moral beauty.

3. It will survive all that is most prized by man as intellectually precious and desirable.

4. It is superior even to gifts, or rather graces, so lovely and admirable as are faith and hope.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:1

Love and language.

It would seem that, of all gifts, the gift of speech, and especially that variety of it known as the gift of tongues, was most prized by the Christians of Corinth. Probably for this reason the apostle puts this in the forefront, when he compares other possessions and virtues with the grace of love.

I. IN WHAT THE SUPERIORITY OF LOVE OVER SPEECH CONSISTS.

1. In the fact that the gift of tongues draws attention to the possessor himself, whilst charity goes forth from him who cultivates it to others. The gift in question was one splendid and dazzling. Whether it consisted in a power to speak intelligibly in foreign languages, or in the pouring forth of sounds—articulate, indeed, but not corresponding with any language known to the auditors—in either case it was a brilliant faculty, drawing all eyes to the speaker and all ears to his voice. On the other hand, the affectionate ministrant to the wants of his poor or afflicted neighbours would usually go his way unnoticed and unadmired. It is better that a man should be drawn out, as it were, from himself, than that his attention should be, because the attention of others is, concentrated upon himself.

2. In the fact that the grace of love is far more serviceable to the Church and to the world than the gift of tongues. There was a purpose subserved by this gift—it impressed carnal listeners, it was a proof to the Church itself of a special Divine presence. But love led men and women to sympathize with one another, to minister to the wants of the needy, to raise the fallen, to strengthen the weak, to nurse the sick, to comfort the bereaved, to rear the orphan. Thus its fruits vindicated its supremacy.

3. In the fact that the Lord Jesus loved, but never spake with tongues.

4. In the fact that the gift of tongues is but for a season, whilst love is indestructible and eternal.

II. BY WHAT COMPARISON THE SUPERIORITY OF LOVE IS ILLUSTRATED. The gift without the grace is likened to the sounding of brass, to the clashing of a cymbal of bronze. There is noise, but it is vex et proeterea nihil; there is no melody and no meaning. On the other hand, love is like a strain of exquisite music vibrating from the strings, warbling from a flute, or pealing from the pipes of an organ; or, better still, it is like the clear bell-like voice of a boy in some cathedral choir, rendering an immortal passage of sacred poetry to an air sounding like an echo from the minstrelsy of Paradise. The former arrests attention; the gong when struck produces a shock; but the latter sweetly satisfies the soul, then soothing and refreshing the spirit's longings for a heaven bern strain, and leaving behind the precious memory of a melting cadence.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:2

Love and knowledge.

Different gifts have attractions for different minds. To the Corinthians the charisms of language seem to have had an especial charm and value. It might be supposed that those possessions here mentioned—prophecy, unravelling of mysteries, and knowledge, especially of spiritual things—would have a deeper interest for such a one as Paul. And that he did prize these is not to be questioned. Yet such was his appreciation of love, that in this eulogium of it he sets it above those half intellectual, half spiritual gifts.

I. THESE GIFTS ARE IN THEMSELVES VALUABLE. There is nothing here said to disparage the gifts. On the contrary, they are introduced in a way which witnesses to their excellence. Prophecy is the speaking forth of the mind of God—a function the most honourable the mind can conceive. To understand and reveal mysteries would universally be acknowledged to be a high distinction. Knowledge ranks high in connection with a religion which addresses man's intelligence. All these are, so to speak, aspects of religion peculiarly congenial to a thoughtful Christian, and peculiarly advantageous to a Christian community.

II. BUT IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THESE GIFTS MAY BE OF NO VALUE TO THE POSSESSOR. That is, in case they be unaccompanied by love. The purely intellectual character is the unlovely character. The man may be the vehicle of truth, and yet the truth may pass through him without affecting his character, his spiritual position. Who does not know such men—men of Biblical scholarship, sound theology, great teaching power, yet loveless, and because loveless unlovely? To themselves they may be great men, and in the view of the Church; but in reality, and before God, they are nothing!

III. IT IS LOVE WHICH MAKES THESE GIFTS VALUABLE TO THEIR POSSESSOR. How needful love is to impart a spiritual flavour and quality to these great endowments, is clear enough, i.e. to every enlightened mind.

1. Love infuses the spirit in which they are to be used. How differently the man of intellect or of learning uses his powers when his soul is pervaded by the spirit of brotherly love, every observer must have noticed. "Let all your things be done in charity" is an admonition appropriate to all, but especially so to the man of genius or of ability.

2. Love controls the purpose to which they are to be applied. Not for self exaltation, not for the advancement of a great cause, but for the general welfare, will love inspire the great to consecrate their talents, according to the mind and method of the great Master himself.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:2

Love and faith.

St. Paul was so emphatically the apostle of faith, that it is hard to believe that he wrote anything approaching to disparagement of that great and efficacious virtue. If he devoted a great part of his chief Epistle—that to the Romans—to an exhibition of the power of faith, it is not likely that here or anywhere he should write one word which could cast faith into the shade. And, in fact, the reference of the apostle in this passage is not to faith in Christ as a Saviour, but to that special faith m a special promise which was the means of enabling the possessor to perform great marvels—in the figurative language of Scripture, to remove mountains.

I. THIS LANGUAGE IS NOT IN DISPARAGEMENT OF THE FAITH WHICH WORKS BY LOVE. It is always taught in Scripture that faith precedes love; the heart must find Christ and rest in him and live from him, in order that it may love him. Confidence in a personal Saviour revealed in his words and life, in his sacrifice and triumph, will certainly awaken affection, more or less ardent according to the temperament and history of the individual believer. Strong faith is fitted to enkindle warm love.

II. WE ARE TAUGHT THAT "GIFTS" ARE NOT ALWAYS A SIGN OF PIETY. The faith which was so much admired and coveted in the primitive Church was confidence in a certain definite promise of the Lord of supernatural aid to those whose position rendered such aid expedient. The removal of mountains is, of course, a figure for the vanquishing of difficulties, and probably for the performance of miracles. It would seem that there were in the early Churches some who possessed this gift who had not the spiritual qualifications which were far more to be desired. And it is not to be denied that even now there are in all Christian communities men largely endowed with gifts of administration, learning, and eloquence, who yet are lacking in those first qualities of Christian character which are a sign of the Spirit's indwelling. Far more to be desired is simple faith in the Saviour than the faith which removes mountains and dazzles multitudes.

III. THESE LESSONS ARE ENFORCED BY THE CONSIDERATION THAT PAUL POSSESSED BOTH SUPERNATURAL GIFTS AND FERVENT CHARITY, AND WAS WELL ABLE TO COMPARE THE TWO. Never were wonders, miracles of moral power, wrought more manifestly, more repeatedly, than in the ministry of the great apostle of the Gentiles. If any had reason to boast, he had more. Yet to him his love to the Saviour, and his devotion to those for whom that Saviour died, were of far more consequence and value than all his supernatural gifts.

"Love is the brightest of the train,

And strengthens all the rest."

T.

1 Corinthians 13:3

Love and almsgiving.

Of all the comparisons between love and other qualities, gifts, or practices, this is the one which sounds most strange to our ears. For in our minds charity and almsgiving are so closely associated that it scarcely seems possible that they should be placed in contrast one with the other. Yet so it is; and every observer of human nature and society can recognize both the insight and the foresight of the apostle in this striking, almost startling comparison.

I. ALMSGIVING MAY ORIGINATE IN INFERIOR AND UNWORTHY MOTIVES. The apostle supposes an extreme case, viz. that one should give away all his substance in doles to the poor; and he gives his judgment that such a course of action may be loveless, and, if loveless, then worthless. For it may proceed from:

1. Ostentation. That this is the explanation of many of the handsome and even munificent gifts of the wealthy, we are obliged to believe. A rich man sometimes likes his name to figure in a subscription list for an amount which no man of moderate means can afford. The publication of such a gift gratifies his vanity and self importance. His name may figure side by side with that of a well known millionaire.

2. Custom. A commentator has illustrated this passage by reference to the crowds of beggars who gather in the court of a great bishop's palace in Spain or Sicily, to each of whom a coin is given, in so-called charity. Such pernicious and indiscriminate almsgiving is expected of those in a high position in the Church, and they give from custom. The same principle explains probably much of our eleemosynary bestowment.

3. Love of power. As in the feudal days a great lord had his retinue and his retainers, multitudes depending upon his bounty, so there can be no question that individuals and Churches often give generously for the sake of the hold they thus gain upon the dependent, who become in turn in many ways their adherents and supporters.

II. ALMSGIVING MAY IN SOME CASES BE INJURIOUS. In fact, it often is so.

1. To the recipient. The wretch who lives in idleness on rich men's doles is degraded in the process, and becomes lost to all self respect, and habituated to an ignominious and base contentedness with his position.

2. To society generally. When it is known that the man who begs is as well supported as the man who works, how can it be otherwise than that demoralization should ensue? The system of indiscriminate almsgiving is a wrong to the industrious poor.

3. To the giver. For such gifts as are supposed, instead of calling forth the finer qualities of the nature, awaken in the breast of the bestower a cynical contempt of mankind.

III. NEVERTHELESS, TRUE CHARITY MAY EXPRESS ITSELF IN GIFTS. The man who doles away his substance in almsgiving, and has all the while no charity, is nothing; but if there be love, that love sanctifieth both the giver and the gift. For he who loves and gives resembles that Divine Being whose heart is ever filled with love, whose hands are ever filled with gifts.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:3

Love and self immolation.

It would seem that Paul had some anticipation of the approaching developments of Christian society. There is no ground for believing that, at the time when he wrote, any member of the Church of Christ had suffered at the stake for fidelity to principle and to faith. Such martyrdoms had occurred in Palestine, when the enemies of Jehovah had been triumphant and had wreaked their vengeance upon the faithful Jews. And even before Paul's decease, in Rome itself, Christians came to be the victims of the infamous Nero's brutality, and perished in the flames. Stronger language could not be used to set forth the superiority of love to zeal, fidelity, and devotion than this of St. Paul: "Though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing!"

I. THE READINESS TO DIE, AT THE STAKE OR OTHERWISE, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, IS GOOD. As the three Hebrew children were content to be cast into the burning, fiery furnace, as the faithful Jews died at the stake under the persecution by Antiochus Epiphanes, as Polycarp at over four score years of age gave his body to be burned, as the holy Perpetua suffered this martyrdom with willing mind, as in our own country at the Reformation many suffered in the fires of Oxford and Smithfield, so have multitudes counted their lives as not dear to them for the blessed Saviour's sake. It cannot but be that such sacrifice of self, such holy martyrdom, ever has been and is acceptable to Christ, who gave himself for us. For he himself has said, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

II. THE ABSENCE OF LOVE TAKES AWAY EVEN FROM THE VIRTUE OF MARTYRDOM. There is a story of a Christian of Antioch who, on his way to martyrdom, refused to forgive and be reconciled to a brother Christian. Such a case is an exact example of the zeal without love which the apostle here pronounces worthless. If Christian charity be absent where zeal is present, there seems reason to fear that the motives which induce to self immolation are pride, self glorification, and an inflexible obstinacy. If there be not love to Christ's people, there is no real love to Christ: "He that loveth God loves his brother also." It is strange to think that self delusion may go so far that men may suffer martyrdom without being truly Christ's. Yet so it is. And we may be reminded, from the possibility of this extreme case, how readily men deceive themselves and suppose that they are influenced by truly religious and distinctly Christian motives, when all the while self is the pivot upon which their whole conduct revolves. And it may be suggested to us how inexpressibly essential, in the judgment of our Lord and his Spirit, is that grace of love, the absence of which cannot be atoned for even by a passage through the fiery flames of martyrdom.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:4, 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love and our fellow men.

In this panegyric of charity, we find,

I. LOVE IS LONG SUFFERING AS OPPOSED TO IMPATIENCE. There is no possibility of mixing with human society without encountering many occasions of irritation. Human nature is such that conflicts of disposition and of habits will and must occur. It is so in the family, in civil life, and even in the Church. Hence impatience and irritability are among the most common of infirmities. And there is no more sure sign of a disciplined and morally cultured mind than a habit of forbearance, tolerance, and patience. But Christianity supplies a motive and power of long suffering which can act in the case of persons of every variety of temperament and of every position of life. "Love suffereth long."

II. LOVE IS GRACIOUS AND KIND AS OPPOSED TO MALICE AND ILL WILL. There is no disposition known to human nature which is a more awful proof of the enormity of sin than malevolence. And the religion of the Lord Christ in nothing more signally proves its divinity than in its power to expel this demoniacal spirit from the breast of humanity. In fact, benevolence is the admitted "note" of this religion. The sterner virtues, as fortitude and justice, were admired and practised among the heathen, and celebrated by the moralists of antiquity. These and others were assumed by Christianity, which added to them the softer grace of love—love which justifies itself in deeds of benignity and loving kindness.

III. LOVE IS OPPOSED TO ENVY AID JEALOUSY. These are vices which arise from discontent with one's own condition as compared with that of others, and are justly deemed among the meanest and basest of which man is capable. Christianity proves its power of spiritual transformation by suppressing, and indeed in many cases by extirpating, these evil passions from the heart, and by teaching and enabling men to rejoice in their neighbours' prosperity.

IV. LOVE, AS OPPOSED TO ANGER, IS NOT PROVOKED WITH THE CONDUCT OF OTHERS. This must not be pressed too far, as though anger in itself were an evil, as though there were no such thing as righteous indignation. Christ himself was angry with hypocrites and deceivers; his indignation and wrath were aroused again and again. But the moral distinction lies here: to be provoked with those who injure us or pass a slight upon our dignity and self importance, is unchristian, but it is not so to cherish indignation with the conduct of God's wilful enemies.

V. LOVE KEEPS NO ACCOUNT OF EVIL RENDERED. This trait in the character of the Christian is very beautiful. It is customary with sinful men to cherish the memory of wrongs done to them, against a day of retribution. Love wipes out the record of wrong doing from the memory, and knows nothing of vindictiveness or ill will.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:4, 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love and self abnegation.

Where there is sincere Christian love, that grace will not only affect for good the intercourse of human society, it will exercise a most powerful and beneficial influence over the nature of which it takes possession; changing pride into humility, and selfishness into self denial. And this is not to be wondered at by him who considers that for the Christian the spiritual centre of gravity is changed—is no longer self, but Christ.

I. LOVE DESTROYS BOASTFULNESS. It "vaunteth not itself." In some characters more than in others there is observable a disposition towards display. There may be real ability, and yet there may be the vanity which obtrudes the proofs of that ability; or there may, on the other hand, be an absence of ability, and yet the fool may not be able to conceal his folly, but must needs make himself the laughing stock of all. Love delights not in the display of real power or the assumption of what does not exist. How can it? When love seeks the good of others, how can it seek their admiration?

II. LOVE IS OPPOSED TO PRIDE. It "is not puffed up." The expression is a strong one; it has been rendered, "does not swell and swagger," "is not inflated with vanity." The explanation of this is clear enough. The pretentious and arrogant man has a mind full of himself, of thoughts of his own greatness and importance, Now, love is the outflowing of the heart's affection in kindliness and benevolence towards others. He who is always thinking of the welfare of his fellow men has no time and no inclination for thoughts of self exaltation, aggrandizement, and ambition. It is plain, then, how wholesome, purifying, and sweetening an influence Christianity introduces into human society; and how much it tends to the happiness of individuals, cooling the fever of restless rivalry and ambition.

III. LOVE IS INCONSISTENT WITH ALL UNSEEMLINESS OF DEPORTMENT. There is an indefiniteness about the language: "Doth not behave itself unseemly." Possibly there is a special reference to the discreditable scenes which were to be witnessed in the Corinthian congregation, in consequence of their party spirit, rivalry, and discord. But there is always in every community room for the inculcation of considerateness, courtesy, self restraint, and dignity. And the apostle points out, with evident justice, that what no rules or custom can produce is the spontaneous and natural result of the operation of Christian love.

IV. LOVE IS, IN A WORD, UNSELFISH; i.e. "seeketh not her own." Here is the broadest basis of the new life of humanity. Love gives, and does not grasp; has an eye for others' wants and sorrows, but turns not her glance towards herself; moves among men with gracious mien and open hands.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:6

The joy of love.

There is, perhaps, no test of character more decisive than this: in what is the chief pleasure of life placed? Where is satisfaction of the soul? Whence does joy proceed? If Christianity is indeed a revolutionary religion, it will effect a change here—in this vital respect. Even in St. Paul's time, it appeared that with Christianity a new force—the force of love—had been introduced into humanity, a force able to direct human delight into another and purer and nobler channel than that in which it had been wont to flow.

I. JOY NO LONGER FLOWS FROM THE PRESENCE AND PREVALENCE OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. It seems to attribute a fiendish spirit to human beings to suppose that they can anywhere and at any time be found to rejoice in wrong doing and unrighteousness. Yet it is, alas! possible for sinful men to take a malignant pleasure in the prevalence of sin; for it is the proof of the power of the moral forces with which they have allied themselves, of the victory of their own party. The iniquity of others serves to support and justify their own iniquity. And it must be borne in mind that there are cases in which designing men profit by deeds of unrighteousness, take the very wages of iniquity. Against such dispositions Christian love must needs set itself; for when iniquities prevail, happiness and hope take wings and fly away.

II. JOY FLOWS TO THE CHRISTIAN HEART FROM THE PROGRESS OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. Truth is the intellectual side of righteousness, and righteousness the moral side of truth. There is, accordingly, a real antithesis between the two clauses of the text.

1. This joy is akin to the joy of God. The Father rejoices over the repenting and recovered child, the Shepherd over the restored, once wandering, sheep. "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." And they who themselves are enjoying peace and fellowship with a reconciled God cannot but participate in the satisfaction with which that holy Being views the progress of truth and religion among men.

2. It is sympathetic with the gladness of the Saviour in the accomplishment of his gracious purposes. As Christ sees of the travail of his soul, he is satisfied; for the joy set before him, i.e. in the salvation of men, he endured the cross. And all who owe salvation to what Jesus did and suffered for man must needs experience a thrill of gratification when a rebel is changed into a subject by the grace of God.

3. It springs from the triumph of that cause which of all on earth is the greatest and most glorious. Every noble soul finds satisfaction in witnessing the advance of truth from the dim dawn towards the full meridian day for which he, in common with all God's people in every age, is ever toiling, hoping, and praying.—T.

1 Corinthians 13:7

Love and the conduct of life.

We are born into, and we live in the midst of, a system, vast and incomprehensible. Man is related to a thousand circumstances, and his moral life depends upon the principles which govern these relationships. It is by a sublime and spiritual intuition, itself an evidence of a Divine commission and apostolate, that St. Paul discerns the truth that love, when it takes possession of the Christian's nature, relates him anew and aright to "all things," i.e. to the whole system in which he finds himself, and of which indeed he forms a part.

I. Love "CONCEALETH ALL THINGS." The word is one which, perhaps, cannot be confidently interpreted. But it may and probably does mean "conceal "or "cover." And so rendered, how appropriate is it in this place! What so characteristic of true charity as the habit of covering up and concealing the faults and infirmities of our brethren? It is a difficult exercise, especially to an acute and candid mind; but because we see an error it is not necessary to publish it. There may be good done and harm avoided by hiding good men's infirmities and the human defects which are to be found even in an excellent cause.

II. Love "BELIEVETH ALL THINGS." There is no point at which the wisdom of this world and the wisdom which is of God come more violently into conflict than here. To worldly men it seems the height of folly to proceed in human life upon the principle of believing all things. This is, in their view, credulity which will make a man the prey of knaves and impostors. Now, the words of the text must not be taken literally. They commend a disposition opposed to suspicion. A suspicious man is wretched himself, and he is universally distrusted and disliked. Where there is reason to distrust a person, even charity will distrust. But, on the other hand, charity cultivates that strain of nobleness in character which prefers to think well of others, and to give credit rather than to question and disbelieve.

III. LOVE "HOPETH ALL THINGS." Here again we have portrayed a feature of Christian character which it needs some spiritual discipline and culture to appreciate. A sanguine disposition is often distrusted, and not unjustly. But we may understand that temper of mind which leads us to hope good things of our fellow men, and to view with confident expectation the progress of the truth over their nature.

IV. LOVE "ENDURETH ALL THINGS." This is to most men the hardest lesson of all. Many will cheerfully work from love, who find it no easy matter to suffer calumny, coldness, hatred, persecution, in a loving spirit and for Christ's sake. But we need the spirit of Divine charity to overlook all the assaults of men, and to pray for those who despitefully use us. This can and may be done when the whole nature is inspired with love to God and love to man.—T.

Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/1-corinthians-13.html. 1897.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Acts 19:2 And Justification By Faith Alone

        "He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2)

        Paul's question presupposes that one receives the Holy Spirit at the same time he or she believes the gospel. It should also be noted that a person receives the Spirit upon getting saved (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14; Galatians 3:2). The two are not separated in Scripture.

        Scripture distinguishes between faith and baptism (Acts 18:8). Moreover, Acts 19:1-7 does not make mention of any works that can get us right with God. Faith is the object of emphasis. Thus, baptism cannot be a requirement in order to be justified before God.

Early Greek Philosophers

Thales, who was born at Miletus, in Asia Minor, and flourished in 585 B.C., is justly considered the father of Greek speculation. The step he took was small but decisive. He opened the physiological inquiry into the constitution of the universe. Seeing around him constant transformations--birth and death, change of shape, of size, and of mode of being, he could not regard any one of these variable states of existence as existence itself. He therefore asked, What is the beginning of things? Finding that all things were nourished by moisture, he declared that moisture was the principle of everything. He was mistaken, of course, but he was the first man to furnish a formula from which to reason deductively.

Anaximenes (550 B.C.) pursued the method of Thales, but he was not convinced of the truth of his master's doctrine. He thought that the air was the prime, universal element, from which all things were produced and into which all things were resolved. Diogenes of Apollonia adopted the idea of Anaximenes, but gave a deeper significance to it. The older thinker conceived the vital air as a kind of soul; the younger man conceived the soul as a kind of air--an invisible force, permeating and actuating everything. This attribution of intelligence to the primal power or matter was certainly a progress in speculation; but another line of thought was struck out by Anaximander of Miletus, who had been a friend of Thales. He was passionately addicted to mathematics, and a great many inventions are ascribed to him; among others, the sun-dial and the geographical map. 

In his view, any one single thing could not be all things, and in his famous saying, "The infinite is the origin of all things," he introduced into metaphysics an abstract conception in place of the inadequate concrete principles of Thales and his disciples. Pythagoras was a contemporary of Anaximander, and, like him, one of the great founders of mathematics. He held that the only permanent reality in the cosmos was the principle of order and harmony, which prevented the universe from becoming a blank, unintelligible chaos; and he expressed this idea in his mystic doctrine: "Numbers are the cause of the material existence of things." The movement which he spread by means of a vast, secret confraternity ended, however, in a barren symbolism, and it is impossible to trace what relation his strange theories of the transmigration of souls and the music of the spheres have to his general system of thought.

Far more influence on the progress of speculation was exercised by Xenophanes of Colophon. Driven by the Persian invasion of 546 B.C. to earn his living as a wandering minstrel, he developed the ideas of Anaximander, and founded the school of great philosophic poets, to which Parmenides, Empedocles and Lucretius belong. He is the grand monotheist, and he has published his doctrines in his verses:

There is one God alone, the greatest of spirits and mortals, Neither in body to mankind resembling, neither in ideas.

Shelley's line: "The One remains, the Many change and pass," sums up the teaching of the line of thinkers which culminated in Plato. In their view, knowledge derived from the senses was fallacious because it touched only the diverse and changing appearances of things; absolute knowledge of the one abiding spiritual reality could, they held, only be obtained by the exercise of spiritual faculty of reason, which, unlike the animal power of sense, is the same in all men. One of the philosophers of this school, Zeno of Elea, was the inventor of the dialectic method of logic, which Socrates and Plato used with so tremendous an effect.

Anaxagoras, however, attempted to reconcile the evidence of the sense with the dictates of the reason. He was the first philosopher to settle in Athens, and Pericles, Euripides, and Socrates were among his pupils. He was extraordinarily modern in many of his ideas. He held that the matter of knowledge was derived through the senses, but that reason regulated and verified it, and he carried this dualism into his conception of the universe, which he represented as a manifestation of a Divine intelligence, acting through invariable laws, but in no way confused with the matter acted on.

His successor, Democritus, adopted his theory of the origin of knowledge, and by applying it to the problem of the One and the Many, produced the most striking of ancient anticipations of modern science. He regarded the world as something made up of invisible particles, each absolutely similar to the other; these formed the essential unity which could be grasped only by the reason, but by their various combinations and arrangements they brought about the apparent multiplicity of objects which the senses perceived. Such was the foundation of the atomic theory of Democritus. He conceived the atom as a centre of force, and not as a particle having weight and material qualities. As, however, his hypothesis was purely a metaphysical one, it did not lead to any of the discoveries which have followed on the establishment of the modern scientific theory, which was arrived at in a different way, and has a different signification. Democritus also threw out in vague outline the idea of gravitation. But this was not science: it was guess-work; it afforded no ground on which the fabric of verified knowledge could be erected, and no sure method of obtaining this knowledge.

The World's Greatest Books (Philosophy and Economics), Vol. XIV, p. 45-48

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Easter And The King James Version

        "And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." (Acts 12:4)

        The Passover, rendered as "Easter" in Acts 12:4 of the King James Version, was designated for the Jewish people to bring into mind and regard as sacred the time God had rescued them from Egypt by parting the Red Sea. It was during this festival that Herod had ordered the execution of James and the arrest of Peter for preaching the gospel.

        Easter is a Germanic word for "resurrection," which was in common use in the era that this translation of the Bible was brought into completion. That is why the translators of the Authorized Version used it, most likely viewing the Passover as a Jewish observance whereas the resurrection of Christ was celebrated by Christians.

        The Greek Pascha is a transliteration of the Hebrew Pesach. Interestingly, this term is translated as "Passover" every other instance that it occurs in the King James Version. Easter is a later tradition taken up by Christians. Consequently, "Passover" is a better choice of words than is "Easter" in Acts 12:4.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Joshua's Conquest Of Canaan And Evidence

“(1) Usually less than about 5 or 10 percent of any given mound is ever dug down to Late Bronze (or any other) levels; hence between 85 to 95 percent of our potential source of evidence is never seen.(2)The principal Hebrew policy under Joshua was to kill leaders and inhabitants, not to destroy the cities, but eventually to occupy them (cf. Deut 6:10-11), destroying only the alien cult places (Deut 12:2-3). (3) Conquests, even historically well-known examples, often do not leave behind the sorts of traces that modern scholars overconfidently expect...” (p. 189-190)

“See B.S. J. Isserlin…quoting the Norman Conquest, the Anglo-Saxon settlement in England, and the Muslim Arab invasion of Syria-Palestine. One may also cite the innumerable campaigns of Egyptian, Hittite, Assyrian, and Neo-Babylonian armies in the Levant, of whose encampments and battlefields almost no traces are ever found...” (p. 545, note 84)

“No total conquest and occupation. The book of Joshua does not describe a total Hebrew conquest and occupation of Canaan, real or imaginary. Read straight, its narratives describe an entry (from over the Jordan), full destruction of two minor centers (Jericho, Ai; burned), then defeat of local kings and raids through south Canaan. Towns are attacked, taken, and damaged (“destroyed”), kings and subjects killed and then left behind, not held on to. The same in north Canaan; strategic Hazor is fully destroyed (burned), but no others. The rest are treated like the southern towns, and again left, not held...” (p. 234-235)

“...external data for Joshua and Numbers. We have no direct exter nal textual references to the Israelite entry or raids or initial settlement from Gilgal to Shechem. In the later thirteenth century, Mesopotamia - in the guise of Assyria - never penetrated beyond the Euphrates into Syria proper; Hittite power at Carchemish stood against them. So no data can come on south Palestinian events (especially in the inner highlands) from that quarter. Egypt officially was overlord of Canaan, but her main interest was in the productive coastal plains, lowland hills, and Jezreel, not in the economically poorer highland, and in keeping hold on the main routes north into Phoenicia (to Tyre, Sidon, Babylos, &c) and to Damascus in Upe...” (p. 235)

Excerpts taken from K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Exodus And Evidence

The setting presented in Exod. 1-14 is indubitably that of Egypt’s East Delta, whence the Hebrews are shown going directly into the Sinai Peninsula first of all. Background data may well be drawn from Egypt overall, but for locating the biblical Hebrews and their movements “on the ground” in Egypt we are restricted to the East Delta zone geographically.

This fact imposes further severe limitations upon all inquiry into the subject. The Delta is an alluvial fan of mud deposited through many millenia by the annual flooding of the Nile; it has no source of stone within it. Mud, mud and wattle, and mud-brick structures were of limited duration and use, and were repeatedly leveled and replaced, and very largely merged once more with the mud of the fields. So those who squawk intermittently, “No trace of the Hebrews has ever been found” (so, of course, no exodus!), are wasting their breath. The mud hovels of brickfield slaves and humble cultivators have long since gone back to their mud origins, never to be seen again. Even stone structures (such as temples) hardly survive, in striking contrast to sites in the cliff-enclosed valley of Upper Egypt to the south. All stone was anciently shipped in from the south, and repeatedly recycled from one period to another. Thus Eighteenth Dynasty blocks were reused in Ramesside temples; Ramesside temples were replaced under later dynasties largely by reuse of existing stones again; and periods through Saite, Ptolemaic, Romano-Byzantine, and Islamic times repeated the process. In more recent centuries, limestone has been largely burned for lime, and harder stones often reused for millstones or whatever.

Scarce wonder that practically no written records of any extent have been retrieved from Delta sites reduced to brick mounds (whose very bricks are despoiled for fertilizer, sebakh), with even great temples reduced to heaps of tumbled stones. And in the mud, 99 percent of discarded papyri have perished forever; a tiny fraction (of late date) have been found carbonized (burned) — like some at Pompeii — but can only be opened or read with immense difficulty. A tiny fraction of reports from the East Delta occur in papyri recovered from the desert near Memphis. Otherwise, the entirety of Egypt’s administrative records at all periods in the Delta is lost (fig. 32B); and monumental texts are also nearly nil. And, as pharaohs never monumentalize defeats on temple walls, no record of the successful exit of a large bunch of foreign slaves (with loss of a full chariot squadron) would ever have been memorialized by any king, in temples in the Delta or anywhere else. On these matters, once and for all, biblicists must shed their naive attitudes and cease demanding “evidence” that cannot exist. Only radically different approaches can yield anything whatsoever. “Archaeology” that limits its blinkered evidence solely to what comes out of modest holes dug in the ground can have no final say in the matter.

K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, p. 245-246

Friday, May 1, 2020

The Transfiguration Of Jesus Christ

       The Transfiguration directs our attention to the suffering that Jesus Christ underwent on the Cross (Luke 9:31). He communicated with Moses who had already been dead for thousands of years (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). He also spoke with Elijah who was long before translated into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). The New English Translation has this footnote:

        "sn In 1st century Judaism and in the NT, it was believed that the righteous would be given new, glorified bodies in order to enter heaven (cf. 1 Cor 15:42-49; 2 Cor 5:1-10). This transformation meant that the righteous will share the glory of God. The account of Jesus’ transfiguration here recalls the way Moses shared the Lord’s glory after his visit to the mountain in Exod 34:28-35. So the disciples saw Jesus transfigured, and they were getting a private preview of the great glory that Jesus would have following his exaltation."

        But how could Peter, James, and John see Moses? How did the three disciples know that the two were Moses and Elijah? One idea put forward is that they had appeared with Christ in a manner that the three could recognize. Consequently, the disciples correctly identified Moses and Elijah apart from never seeing them previously.

        The Scripture is not clear on whether or not we are able to see human souls. Luke 16:19-31 seems to indicate that human souls remain conscious after death and are recognizable to each other. We do need to remember that there are hidden things which God, in His unsearchable wisdom, has chosen not to make known to us (Deuteronomy 29:29).

        The point of the Transfiguration is to show the preeminence of Jesus Christ. He does not depend on creation. Christ was speaking with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration in His glory. The appearance of these two men signifies Him being the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets.

        God voiced His approval of Jesus Christ from heaven (Matthew 17:5-6). He is the perfect and acceptable sacrifice for sin. The heavenly kingdom was formally instated during the earthly ministry of Christ, but will not be brought to fulfillment until His second coming. He will reign for eternity as the supreme King. Professor Stephen N. Williams gives the following commentary on the Transfiguration:

        "There may be reminders or echoes of the scene of transfiguration elsewhere in the NT, of course; the stories of Paul’s own conversion, in the Book of Acts that combine Jesus, light and a voice from heaven; the very rare (NT) word ‘transfigure’ is the one used by Paul when he tells the Corinthians that we ‘are being transformed [‘transfigured’] into his likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Cor. 3:18); the first chapter of Revelation, with its dramatic portrayal of Jesus, has resonances. John’s Gospel is intriguing on this score. It contains no reference to the transfiguration, but it is a Gospel all about ‘glory’ and a voice from heaven thunders that God has glorified his name ‘and will glorify it again’ (12:28). The question about why John does not specifically mention transfiguration belongs to the wider discussion of its relationship to the Synoptics. We must bear in mind that John does not refer directly to the Last Supper either or directly report the actual baptism of Jesus, where the Synoptics do. John can be concerned with the surrounding interpretation of events that he does not report as do the Synoptists."

Sabbath Keepers Obliterated

        "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet," and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)

        Notice how the Apostle Paul states that love is the fulfillment of the entire Law. He clearly did not make Sabbath observance his priority, as do the Seventh-day Adventists. Moreover, Paul in this text is referencing the Decalogue. Yet, he nowhere even alludes to the Sabbath. This is ironic, given how Seventh-day Adventists view the Sabbath as a seal of God and even claim Sunday worship is the mark of the beast. "Whatever other command there may be" would include Sabbath observance. Paul sums up every possible commandment with love of God and love of neighbor.