Notes

Topics:

*1,260 Days *1 John 5:7, 8 *2 Chronicles 36:21 *2 Thessalonians 1:9 *390 Days/Years

A
*Accepting a Repentant Sinner *Adoption as God's Sons *Advocate, Helper, Comforter, or Savior? *Age, Eternal, Perpetual, Everlasting, Immortal, or Forever? *Age-long Fire *Amen *Animal Sacrifices *Anoint the 'Most Holy' or the 'Holiest of the Holy?' *Anointed *Anointing *Antichrists *Apostasy and Apostates *Ark or Chest? *ArtaXerxes *Astin

B
*BaAl, BeEl, Bel, and El *Babylon (the Great) *Bible Measurements *Bless or Praise? *Blest or Happy? *Bodily Divinity *Book of Enoch *Book of Judges *Bread on Water *Breath *Brothers and Sisters of Jesus

C
*Caesarea Philippi *Cain's Wife *Called and Chosen *Camel or Rope? *Capitals in Bible Names *Captives and Gifts *Captives of Solomon *Chest of Proofs *ChoBar River *Christian *Cosmos, Arrangement, or World? *Cross or Pole? *Crowns, Turbans, and Diadems

D
*David Dancing Naked *Day *Day and Hour *Day of the Lord *Dedicated to Destruction *Demonized Man *Demons *Did Aaron Personally Make the Gold Calf? *Did an Angel Want to Kill Moses? *Did God Create Evil? *Dip or Sop of the Last Supper *Disgusting Destroyer *Dogs *Downpour *Dragon *Dragon's Messengers

E
*Earning a Living from Religion *Eating Jesus' Flesh and Drinking His Blood *Eating Meat *Eating with Unwashed Hands *Edem (or Adan) *Egyptian Law of Eminent Domain *Elder or Overseer *Empowering the Priests *Eroticism of the Bible *Esther *Eue, Euan, or Eve? *Eunuchs

F
*Faith *False Brothers *Fear or Respect? *Fool, Foolish, or Uncaring? *Footstool *Foreign Wives and Children *Foreskin *Fornication or Sexual Immorality? *Fountains or Springs? *Friends of the World *Funeral
G
*Gadflies or Stable Flies? *Galilee or Judea? *Garbage Dump *Gays and Men Who Have Sex with Men *Genesis 4:7 *Gentiles, Nations, or Ethnics *Gnats or Fleas? *Gods *God's Chosen People *Gog the Grasshopper King *Gospel Message *Gospel of Matthew

H
*Hades *HaMan *Hate, Dislike, or Care Less for? *Heavens or Sky, Earth or Land? *Hebrew Songs and Poetry *Hebrews, IsraElites, Jews, and Semites *Holidays *Homosexual Relationship Between JoNathan and David? *Homosexuality and Bestiality *Honest Judge *Hope of All Creation *Horeb *House to House? *House, Temple, or Palace? *How David Pictured Jesus *How Large Was Nineveh? *Hypocrite

I
*Image of DaniEl Chapter Two *Immediate Resurrection to Heaven? *'In' *Incest *In the Name Of *Is Jesus God? *Isaiah 14:12 *IsraEl's Sin Over Meat

J
*James (Half-brother of Jesus) *JeremiAh 31:37 *JeremiAh 37:5 *Jesus' Last Words *Jesus' Fleshly Brothers and Sisters *Jew *Job *John *Judging the Angels *Judging the Twelve Tribes of IsraEl *Judging Your Brothers *Judgment Day

K
*Kainan *Kill or Murder? *Kingdom

L
*Lachish *Lake of Fire *Lamp Stands of Revelation *Land of RaMesses or Gesem (Goshen)? *Large Crowd *Last Days *Last Lamb *Laying the Temple Foundation *Leprosy *Lesson in Humility *Living Creatures or Animals? *Lottery or Lot *Lord's (Our Father) Prayer *Love and Brotherly Love *Luke

M
*Making Fun *Man of Lawlessness *Mandrake Apples *Manna *Mark *Mark 7:19 *Marriage in the Resurrection? *Mary from Magdala *Matthew 25:1 *Matthew 27:9 *Matthew 27:52, 53 *Meaning of Psalm 45 *Meeting of the Lord In the Air *Men Who Have Sex With Men *Messengers *MichaEl *Milk of God's Word *Missing Ancestor of Jesus *Mistreatment of Women *MordecAi *Morning Star *Moses' Sin at the Rock *Moses' Wife *Mystery

N
Nahum; the Prophet to the Kurds? *Naos *Never Die? *New JeruSalem *Nicolaitans *Noble Bereans

O
*One-Woman Man

P
*Paradise *Parvaim or Pharaoh Aim? *Paul's Letters *People or Men? *Period of the Judges *Perfect Lamb *Perfect Priests *Peter *Phantom *Pharisees *Poor in Spirit *Poor Widow *Potter's Field *Prayer *Pronunciation of C and CH in Greek Words *Proof of Virginity *Propitiatory *Purim

R
*Ransom *Religious Titles *Reptiles and Birds *Resurrection *Resurrection of the Righteous *Revelation 20:5 *Revelation and Truth *Rhinoceros *Rich Man and Lazarus *Rulers of Persia and Greece

S
*Salt *Salvation *Satan, Devil, Lucifer, BeElZebub *Science and Inspiration *Scroll or Book of Life *Scroll or Sickle? *Seating in the Heavens *Seed *Seismos *Servants *Seven Congregations *Seven Stars *Seventy Weeks *Sexual Immorality *Should Christians Agree on Everything? *Signal of Release *Sin of Aaron's Sons *Sixty-Five Years? *Soldier in a War *Sons of God *Sor or Tyre? *Soul *Space, Expanse, or Firmament? *Spanking *Spiritism *Spirit of Anointed or of Anointing? *Spirits in Prison *Spiritual Jews *Star of Raiphan *Stumble or Trap? *Subjection *Swearing *Synagogue

T
*Tar Pits or Slime Pits? *Tarshish; Spain or Carthage? *Ten 'Lost' Tribes of IsraEl *Tent *Tent of Proofs *Terah's Age When Abram Was Born *The Dead *The Word *Thirty Years *This was the Scroll #1 *This was the Scroll #2 *Thousand Years or Thousands of Years? *Three Kings *Time of Difficulty *TO the East or FROM the East? *Tree of Life *Two Witnesses

U
*Undeserved Kindness or Caring? *Unforgivable Sin?

V
*Vision of DaniEl Chapter Eight

W
*Was Moses Alone on the Mountain With God? *Whale or Large Fish? *When Men are In Charge of the Earth *Who are 'the Other Sheep?' *Who Was Ochozath? *Who Wrote Hebrews? *Who Wrote the Book of Judges? *Why Were IsraEl's Leaders Afraid of Dying? *Wild Animals of DaniEl Seven *Wild Animals of Revelation *Woman and Her Seed *Women Not Allowed to Speak? *Won't Love Their Families *Words of Judgment *Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth

Z
*Zeal

1,260 Days

In the Revelation, you'll read of three periods that each represents 3-1/2 years according to the Hebrew calendar. They are:

We find the same prophetic periods mentioned in the book of Daniel (7:25), for there we read:
'He will then speak grandiose words
And mislead the Holy Ones of the Most High.
He'll be allowed to change laws and times,
For a time, [two] times, and a half.' (1+2+1/2=3-1/2)

What does all of this signify? We don't wish to enter such fields of speculation as others have done in the past. However, note the following:

3-1/2 days (or 'times') is exactly half of a week; so the prophetic period seems to indicate half of a period that is started but then completed later… the second half of a week. Take for example, the ministry of Jesus. It lasted for exactly three-and-a-half years; and thereafter, it appears as though there were three-and-a-half years between his death and the conversion of the first gentiles. So in this case, the periods seem to be speaking of the time during which the kingdom was offered to the Jews exclusively, and then how long it would be thereafter before the opportunity would be offered to others (the nations, ethnics, or gentiles). Also note that this 'week' of two 3-1/2 year periods seems to correspond to the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy to Peter about his having been given 'the keys to the Kingdom,' since he was the person who explained the outpouring of God's Spirit on the Jews at Pentecost of 33 CE and later about the outpouring of God's Spirit on the Gentiles (with the conversion of Cornelius and his family).

Of course, the three-and-a-half years of Jesus' ministry were also his last appeals to the people of JeruSalem before they were to be totally rejected. And then, almost 40 years elapsed between the start of his ministry and the time when JeruSalem was actually destroyed. But you can see that there's another possible three-and-a-half year period that led up to the fulfillment of that rejection, which started in 66-CE when the Roman armies first attacked JeruSalem. For history tells us that the Romans mysteriously withdrew to fight another battle (allowing Christians to flee the city per the instructions of Jesus), and they thereafter they returned to destroy the city, its priesthood, and its Temple (its entire way of worship) about 3-1/2 years later, in 70-CE. Also note that there may be another half of a week between the fall of Jerusalem and the final conquest of Masada (70 to 74-CE).

So it appears as though these 3-1/2 year periods made up part of a whole number. Therefore, it is possible that if we can identify a 3-1/2 year beginning period in a prophecy, we might also find a later 3-1/2 year ending period.

1 John 5:7, 8

In several other Bibles, 1 John 5:7, 8 reads, 'There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.' However, Bible manuscripts that were written prior to the Eleventh Century CE (AD) read quite differently. So it appears as though someone who wanted to provide scriptural backing for the 'Trinity Doctrine' changed this verse about 1,000 years after John penned his Gospel.

As you can see from the context of John the Fifth Chapter, the three witness-bearers of Jesus are the water (baptism), the Holy Spirit (gr. pneuma – Breath), and his shed blood. So, changing the water, the Spirit, and the blood to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost would make the rest of what John wrote illogical. For more information, see how these words are translated in other Bibles.

2 Chronicles 36:21 (Contributed)

At 2 Chronicles 36:21, the Septuagint speaks of the land fulfilling its 'Sabbaths.' However, the Hebrew word that is used there is shavta, which really means, 'rest.' So the Masoretic (Hebrew) text of 2 Chronicles 36:21 reads, 'to fulfill Jehovah's Word by JeremiAh until the ground pays off all its days of desolation, the ground will rest (heb. shavta) until seventy years are fulfilled.'

There is a special expression in the Hebrew, which means to observe or keep the Sabbath; it is 'lishmor shabat,' and this is not found in the Hebrew text here. Why is this small detail important? It appears as though some have tried to twist the words in order to create some compromise between what the Bible says and secular chronology, which chronology is far from being 100% accurate. They are trying to convince us that the land was actually desolated for 49/50 years and not for 70 years. Yet this contradicts the Bible, because Daniel 9:2 reads: 'I DaniEl came to understand the number of the years from the words that Jehovah had given to the Prophet JeremiAh, for there He prophesied that JeruSalem would lie desolate for seventy years.'

Notice that the word 'desolate' here, is translated from the Hebrew word horvot (plural), which means, 'in ruins.' So, JeruSalem was in a total state of ruin for seventy years.

2 Thessalonians 1:9

The precise wording and meaning of 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is a bit difficult to determine, and we have chosen to deviate from the thoughts expressed in other Bibles for the following reason: In Greek the verse reads, 'oitenes diken tisousin holethron aionion apo prosopou tou kyriou kai apo tes doxes tes iskous autou,' or, 'which/ones justice will/pay ruin age-long from face of/the Lord and from the glory of/the strength of/him.'

In the New American Standard Bible (for example), this verse is rendered as: 'These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.' And this, as you can see, is an obvious mistranslation; for not only does the word aionion not mean eternal, but being eternally destroyed is inconsistent with the thought of being sent away from the face of the Lord and from his glory and strength. In other words, the sentence as it is rendered in that Bible just doesn't make any sense.

What Paul appears to have meant is that those who are persecuting faithful Christians will suffer the ruin of being sent away from the face of the Lord and his glory and strength for ages of time, not that they would be eternally destroyed. So we have rendered this verse as reading, '[His] justice will repay them with age-long ruin away from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his strength.' And notice that 'age-long' is a much more accurate translation of the Greek word aionion.

Also notice how at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8, the proper translation of the Greek word ourano (sky, not heaven) better indicates when this justice will happen. For there we read: 'And it’s a righteous thing for God to repay those who are persecuting you by crushing them, while providing relief to you who are suffering this persecution (and to us also) when the Lord Jesus is revealed in the sky with his powerful messengers in a flaming fire. Then he’ll bring vengeance upon all those who don’t know God and those who aren’t obeying the good news about our Lord Jesus.'

As you can see, this 'crushing' doesn't happen immediately (they are not sent to 'Hell'), but rather, it will happen after the sign of Jesus is seen in the skies, or when he arrives during the 'last days' of this wicked world.

390 Days/Years

In EzekiEl the Fourth Chapter, the Prophet was told to lie on his left side for 390 days to show the number of years (a day per year) it would be from the time that the 10-tribe nation of IsraEl had started in rebellion against God until it was to be destroyed, and he was to lie on his right side for 40 more days to signify how long it would be until JeruSalem would be destroyed by the Babylonians for its rejection of the true God.

The mistake that most people make here is in assuming that the 40 years is added to the 390 years, for a total of 430 years. However, our Bible-based calculations show that in fact, the 40 years is the last part of the 390-year period.

Then, what did the final 40 years of this 390-year prophecy signify? It is thought that this final portion of this period (before JeruSalem's destruction) started with the finding of the scroll of God's Law during the time of righteous King JosiAh, in the eighteenth year of his reign; for this appears to have been God's final warning to Judah.

Notice the chronology and the linked scriptures:

Kings of IsraEl:
JeroBoam 22-yrs (1 Kings 14:20)
Nadab 2-yrs (1 Kings 15:25)
BaAsha 24-yrs (1 Kings 15:33)
ElAh 2-yrs (1 Kings 16:8)
Zimri 7 days (1 Kings 16:15)
Tibni (brief period)
Omri 12-yrs (1 Kings 16:23)
Ahab 22-yrs (1 Kings 16:29)
AhaziAh 2-yrs (1 Kings 22:52)
JehoRam 12-yrs (2 Kings 3:1)
Jehu 28-yrs (2 Kings 10:36)
JehoAhaz 17-yrs (2 Kings 13:1)
JehoAsh 16-yrs (2 Kings 13:10)
JeroBoam 41-yrs (2 Kings 14:23)
ZechariAh .5-yrs (2 Kings 15:8)
ShalLum 1 month (2 Kings 15:13)
Menahem 10-yrs (2 Kings 15:17)
PekahJah 2-yrs (2 Kings 15:23)
Pekah 20-yrs (2 Kings 15:27)
HosheA 9-yrs (2 Kings 17:1)
= 242-yrs.

Kings of Judah:
Hoshea starts his reign in Ahaz's 12th year (2 Kings 17:1) and ruled for 9 years before IsraEl was destroyed in the 6th year of King HezekiAh's 29-yr reign, which lasts 23 more years (2 Kings 18:1-12)
ManasSeh 55-yrs (2 Kings 21:1)
Amon 2-yrs (2 Kings 21:19)
JosiAh 31-yrs (2 Kings 22:1)
JehoAhaz 3 months (2 Kings 23:31)
JehoiAkim 11-yrs (2 Kings 23:36)
JehoiAchin 3 months (2 Kings 24:12)
ZedekiAh 11-yrs (2 Kings 24:18)
23+55+2+31+11+1+11= 134-yrs
242+134=376 years total

As you can see, this doesn't add up to 390 years (14 years short). However, understand that the numbers shown above include whole years, yet the kings actually died somewhere in the middle of those years. Also, if you compare the times given for the reigns of IsraEl's kings to those of the kings of Judah, you will find some errors. For when we work the dates back using just the length of reigns that are given for the kings of Judah, they add up to about 400 years from the same starting point (10 years more than 390 years). So it seems as though the only reliable reference is the prophecy that God gave, which says 390 years (and we suspect that He really knew the answer).

Accepting a Repentant Sinner

In Second Corinthians Chapter Two, we read of how the first recorded case of the official congregational discipline of a member who was guilty of serious wrongdoing worked out. This had to do with a man in the congregation at Corinth, Greece, who had taken his father's wife as his own. As the result, Paul (at 1 Corinthians 5:11) told the congregation to judge the matter and to remove the sinner.

Then in Second Corinthians, we read a follow-up letter that was likely written just a few months later, which indicates the positive results from following Paul's recommended action, because Paul wrote (at Second Corinthians 2:6, 7), 'For the discipline that the majority of you gave this man was sufficient. Therefore, kindly forgive him and comfort him now, so that he won't somehow be swallowed up by his deep sadness… yes, I'm telling you to let him know that you love him!'

Notice that:

Š The punishment (gr. epitimia – on/value) that was given (and which was approved by Paul) lasted just a few months

Š This action apparently wasn't supported by the whole congregation – 'the majority (gr. pleionon – more ones) of you reached' – but no action was recommended against those who didn't agree with the measures

Š Paul was especially concerned about the individual and wanted him to be forgiven, comforted, and shown love.

The fact is, imperfect men tend to be harsh and unloving when dealing with others whom they consider to have 'broken the rules.' However, Paul really believed in the type of love that he wrote about at 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (in his previous letter), so he didn't recommend any further actions or restrictions, nor did he warn against any expressions of joy when the man was welcomed back into the congregation, despite the fact that the offense appears to have been particularly grievous and notorious.

Also notice that Paul made no further mention of this matter thereafter. He simply concludes by saying (at 2 Corinthians 2:10, 11): 'And when I forgive someone through you before the Anointed One (if I ever have anything to forgive), it's so that none are lost to the Opposer, because we know how he operates.'

So Paul's primary concern in this second letter was not about how to continue the correction and discipline, but with consoling the offender, so he would remain steadfast in the congregation and he wouldn't be lost to the Opposer.

Adoption as God's Sons

Throughout the Christian Era Scriptures (NT) we read of the hope that some had of being adopted as sons of God and ruling with Jesus. When does this 'adopting' actually happen, what are its results, and how can we know if we've been adopted by God? Well, notice Paul's words at Romans 8:15: 'And you didn't receive a spirit of bondage to fear again; you received a spirit of adoption, by which we can call out, Papa! Father!' From this we can see that such individuals first received God's Spirit or Breath, and then it 'adopted' them as God's sons.

What we do know is that in the days of the Apostles, when Christians received God's Holy Breath it was manifested in ways that others could actually see, and this adoption appears to have imparted the value of a spiritual life to the individual. For notice that Paul also referred to such ones as being a 'new creation' at Galatians 6:15: 'Why, circumcision isn’t anything, nor is uncircumcision. Rather, [what matters is becoming] a new creation (gr. kaine ktesis)!' And once a person received this adoption, he or she was said to have become a fellow 'heir' with Jesus. As Romans 8:17 says: 'And if we're [His] children, we're also [His] heirs… yes, heirs of God and heirs with the Anointed One!'

Heirs of what? You will find this discussed in the linked document, God's Promise of an Inheritance.

Are there any special requirements for receiving spiritual adoption? Notice that Paul added at Romans 8:17: 'However, we have to suffer together so we can also be glorified together.'

History tells us that suffering a violent death or being greatly persecuted for their faith was true of all the Apostles, and many (if not all) of the rest of the adopted sons from the First Century down to this day. So we might ask: Is such violent physical suffering required for all who have this hope? Well, consider what Revelation 6:11 says, 'Then they were each given a white robe and they were told to take it easy just a little while longer until the full number of their fellow slaves and brothers was filled (who were going to be killed, as they were).' Yet, nobody can say for sure that all who are adopted as His sons must suffer greatly, for this is in the hands of God.

When does this 'choosing' happen? It appears as though it doesn't necessarily happen at the time of baptism. For example, in the case of the first gentile converts to Christianity (Cornelius and his family), such selection (if we can assume that receiving God's Breath or Spirit was an indication of their being chosen) happened even before they were baptized! On the other hand, on Pentecost of 33-CE, many individuals received God's Breath long after they had been baptized.

Notice that Galatians 3:26, 27, says: 'The fact is, you're all sons of God because of your faith in the Anointed Jesus.'

Therefore, it appears as though 'becoming one' with Jesus and becoming 'sons of God' occurs whenever God selects them. However, it is possible that their actual adoption comes upon the death of their fleshly bodies. Paul seems to indicate this when he wrote at Romans 8:23, 24: 'Those of us who have received the first fruitage of [God's] Breath groan within ourselves as we await the adoption and [payment of] the ransom to free our bodies. Yes, this is the hope that's saving us!'

Advocate, Helper, Comforter, or Savior?

The Greek word ParaCletos (pronounced: para-cleh-tose), as found at John 16:7, has been translated many ways in other Bibles, and we aren't implying that these other translations are wrong. However, the two words that make up this single combined word are para (next to) and cletos (caller); so this combination of words appears to refer to an entity that stands next to us and calls out to God on our behalf. An online search for other meanings of ParaCletos turned up the word Lawyer, which implies someone who represents us legally, but we have chosen to use the friendlier term Advocate wherever it is found (such as at 1 John 2:1, 2).

Notice how translating the word ParaCletos as Advocate seems to be supported by Paul's words at Romans 8:26, 27, where he wrote: 'The [Holy] Spirit also helps us with our weaknesses, because we don't always know what to pray for. However, the Spirit is there, groaning the words [that we] haven't spoken. And the One who searches hearts knows the thoughts of the Spirit; because, like a god, he's an advocate for the holy ones.'

Another view of the meaning of ParaCletos comes from an Aramaic translator who says that the word is of Aramaic origin, and means Savior, or, Another Savior. And we will allow that this quite different translation could be correct, because we know that Jesus likely spoke Aramaic to his Jewish disciples.

One argument that we found online presented Jesus as being the ParaCletos, because he was called the paraclete at 1 John 2:1, 2. However, the words of Jesus himself at John 16:7 seem to dispel that theory, for he said: 'If I didn't go away, the Advocate wouldn't come to you. But if I go, I'll send him to you.' In Greek this reads: 'εαν γαρ μη αĻελθω ο Ļαρακλητος ου μη ελθη Ļρος υμας εαν δε Ļορευθω Ļεμψω αυτον Ļρος υμας,' or (literally), 'if/ever for not I/should/go/off the ParaCletos not not would/come toward you. If/ever but I/should/go I/shall/send him toward you.' And if Jesus was the ParaCletos, he would simply have said, 'I will come to you.' Therefore, we have assumed that the reference to Jesus being the ParaCletos in First John was not implying that Jesus was the Holy Spirit, but this is a simple reference to the fact that Jesus is also our advocate before God.

Of course, much has been made of Jesus' use of the personal pronoun, he and him, when speaking of the ParaCletos or the Holy Spirit. This is because some, in an attempt to tie him (or it) into a triune relationship with God and Jesus, like to speak of the ParaCletos as a third personality within The God. So the use of the word him in these cases is a hotly-debated topic between Trinitarians and non-trinitarians.

Then, what is the ParaCletos? Well, the answer is simply unclear (not enough information in the Scriptures), so we choose not to reach a conclusion (we like to leave jumping to conclusions to others). Could it be a person? That is strongly indicated by what Jesus said as recorded at John 16:13-16. For there we read: 'However, when that one (the Spirit of Truth) arrives, he will lead you to all truth. He won't be speaking from himself; he'll just tell you what he hears, and he will announce the things that are coming. That one will glorify me, because he will receive things from me and announce them to you.'

So, yes! It does sound like this particular Holy Spirit could be a person. However, there are places in the Bible where good qualities (such as Wisdom) are also personified. So it is difficult to reach a firm conclusion on whether Jesus was saying that this Spirit was another powerful individual. For there are other indications that it is the power (or Spirit) of Jesus. Notice for example, Paul's words at Romans 8:9, 10, where he wrote: 'However, if God's Breath lives in us, we aren't fleshly but spiritual… and whoever doesn't have the Spirit of the Anointed One doesn't belong to him. So if the Anointed One is in you, your body is indeed dead through sin, but the spirit is alive through righteousness.'

It or Him? It's important to recognize that the Holy Spirit that was poured out upon Christians on Pentecost 33-CE was something quite different from the Holy Spirit that the Apostles already had. For the scriptures tell us that Jesus had previously given them Holy Spirit when he sent them out to preach sometime before his death. Remember that the Apostles were able to heal and to cast out demons by the Spirit! So the ParaCletos is clearly not the same as the Holy Spirit that they had received earlier and which allowed them to perform great works prior to Pentecost!

Therefore, since Jesus' Apostles already had God's Spirit or Breath (as did many ancient Prophets and leaders), we might assume that this Advocate (ParaCletos), which arrived on Pentecost of 33-CE, was the Spirit of Jesus, and that it performed in even more powerful ways on behalf of early Christians, literally calling out to God on their behalf and making them one with Jesus. However, at Acts 1:4, this Spirit or Breath was said to have come from the Father, which leaves such a conclusion unclear.

Notice that Jesus gave a further description of this special Spirit at John 14:16, where he called it the Spirit of Truth. And at Acts 1:5, Jesus said that his disciples would be baptized in it. So, similar to the visible outpouring of God's Spirit (or Breath) on Jesus at his baptism (which appears to be the point of his anointing and receiving special powers); the outpouring of Holy Spirit on Pentecost appears to be the time when the disciples were anointed, given special powers, and it is when they were born from above (John 3:3).

Age, Eternal, Perpetual, Everlasting, Immortal, or Forever?

According to the King James Bible, Psalm 37:29 says, 'The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.' And the Jubilee Bible 2000 says, 'The righteous shall inherit the earth and live upon it for ever.' Is this what King David actually wrote in his Psalm (sacred hymn)? No it isn't.

There are really only two words that imply infinite states (such as 'forever') in the Bible; one is the Greek word athanasia (undying), which is only found in two places, 1 Corinthians 15:53, where it mentions resurrected ones as clothing themselves with immortality, and at 1 Timothy 6:16, where Paul speaks of Jesus alone as having it. The other Greek word is aidios, which is used at Romans 1:20 to describe God's Power and Might as eternal, and at Jude 6, when speaking of the perpetual state of gloomy darkness to which rebellious angels have been confined.

However, the Greek word aionos, which is used throughout the Bible in various conjugated forms and is often translated as eternal and forever, is where we get the English word eon. It means an indefinite period, and there is no exact English word to translate it. The best equivalents are age or era.

Where the singular form (aionos) is used, this appears to mean a period such as a lifetime, generation, or era. And where the plural form of the word (aiōnōn) is used, it refers to a longer time… at least multiple generations. Also, where the term ages of the ages is used (such as at Ephesians 3:21), which is usually said in reference to The God, we would assume that this truly means forever. And where the term, 'ton aiona tou aionos' (the age of the age) is used (extensively in the Psalms), it may refer to a coming better age for mankind.

It is easy to see why it is so important to translate these words correctly, for in the many prophecies of the ancient prophets about cities, peoples, and lands, we often find that these were to be destroyed for a portion of time, not forever, as other Bible say. So when others translate these words wrong, and these places are later rebuilt and/or reinhabited, the mistranslations make the Bible appear to be in error.

It is noteworthy that aionos is the word that is used in the Greek Septuagint to translate several Hebrew words that are commonly rendered in modern Bibles as forever. However, this one word (aionos) and the several Hebrew words have also been translated into English as everlasting, eternal, system of things, time indefinite, [end of] the world, long ago, from of old, etc. Obviously, something is very wrong here, because these words can't mean a period having a definite end in one place and infinity in another.

Take for example, the unique way that aionos is used in the question that Jesus' Apostles are said to have asked him at Matthew 24:3 (NLT): 'Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?'

Notice that aionos is translated as world here in many Bibles. However, another Bible (NW) translates it as system of things. But if the Apostles had meant either of these when they asked him the question, they would have used the proper Greek word cosmos (world, system of things, or arrangement), not aionos.

Another good example of the common mistranslation of 'aionos' can be found at Acts 3:21, where other translators have rendered it as, 'long ago,' 'ancient times,' 'from the beginning,' 'since the world began,' 'since beginning of the world,' 'since time began,' and 'from the age.' If you look at this application (click on the links above), you will clearly see that aionos cannot be translated as 'eternal,' 'everlasting,' or 'forever' here. Therefore, we have correctly translated it as 'age' in this instance, as in, 'the age of the Prophets.'

And this is also true of the Apostles' use of the word aionos at Matthew 24:3 (if they really said this at all). They weren't asking when forever, everlasting, or eternal would come to a conclusion, nor were they asking when the world or system of things would end. Rather, they would have been asking when that age, or period in which they were living, or the age of God's dealing only with the Jews was about to end… with the destruction of JeruSalem and the Temple.

Yet there are instances when some forms of the word could imply forever, such as when we find it in the form aiōniŏn. This is an adjective in the singular case, which, when combined with the Greek word zoe (in its various forms) is usually translated in other Bibles as, everlasting life. But notice that this isn't a totally-accurate description.

In the past we had tried to reconcile the words zoe aiōniŏn as meaning, life in the age. However, the word age in this instance would not be an adjective; so we have recently chosen (in most cases where we find this word combination) to translate them more accurately as age-long life, which we will agree could mean everlasting life.

However, notice that the various ways that this word (aionos) has been mistranslated into English well illustrates the reason why this Bible was created. As it can clearly be seen in this case; most Bibles have been translated in ways that would promote existing religious doctrines, not in ways that would accurately reflect the true meanings of the words in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. And when this happens, it creates a 'Catch 22' situation for the religions that use, sponsor, and promote the use of such Bibles. For the practice of verifying false doctrines through dishonest translating tends to permeate false doctrines! And while we will admit that our translating of aionos as age doesn't really create a great change in how we understand God's purposes for righteous mankind; it does well illustrate how other words have been twisted by Bible translators to imply things that the ancient Bible texts never implied.

For more information, see the linked Scriptural Commentary, Does the Bible Promise Everlasting Life? and the commentary, Aion and Olam.

Age-long Fire

In Jude verse seven, we read of how the people of Sodom, GomorRah, and their surrounding cities were condemned to age-long fire (gr. pyros aioniou). This term is usually translated in other Bibles as eternal fire, and it has long been understood to be speaking of Hell Fire. Is eternal burning in the fires of Hell the fate of such bad people?

The problem with the common teaching that people's souls don't die but are tortured eternally for their sins, is that such ones must first have something that is 'immortal' and doesn't die. However, the Greek word for immortality (athanasia or undying) only appears in the Bible three times. If you read these scriptures, you will find that 1 Timothy 6:16, for example, speaks of Jesus as being immortal, and 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54 tells us that God offers immortality as a reward to the faithful. So there is no place where the Bible ever speaks of sinners as being immortal or of having 'immortal souls.'

Then what is the fate of unrepentant sinners? For the answer to this question, we must return to the words of God when He warned the first human (Adam) of what would happen should he choose to disobey. At Genesis 2:17 He said: 'You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Bad. Because, on whatever day you eat from it, your life will end and you will die.'

So notice that no 'immortal soul' or 'Hell Fire' was implied there.

However, did God later create a Hell Fire and give men immortal souls so He could thereafter torture them eternally for their sins? No, for God's warning is repeated at Romans 6:23, where we read: 'For the wage of sin is death; but God's gift is age-long life through the Anointed Jesus, our Lord.'

So notice that God's gift to the righteous is age-long life (gr. zoe aionos). But the wage of unrepented sins is simply death (gr. thanatos).

Then what did Jude mean when he spoke of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as being condemned to 'age-long fire?' The answer to this is found at Revelation 20:14, where we read, 'The lake of fire symbolizes the second death.'

So it appears as though death without the hope of a resurrection was the fate of those gross sinners who were killed by God when He rained fire down on them from the sky. They will be gone forever… burned through the ages, so to speak.

For more information, see the linked document, 'Is There a Burning Hell?'

Amen

'Amen' is a Hebrew word that was never really translated into English, it was just Anglicized. In Greek it is pronounced, ah-main. The reason why it was never translated is that through the centuries, scholars have been afraid to change this supposed 'magical' word that ensures God will listen to our prayers. And although there is no record in the Bible of anyone ending prayers with amen, it was likely said. For the fact that others who heard a congregational prayer said amen at the end to show that they agreed, is indicated by Paul's words at 1 Corinthians 14:16.

However, notice that all other instances of the use of the word amen in the Bible (especially by Paul) were to affirm that what was being said or written was true. And that's the literal meaning and best translation of the word, amen… 'May it be so.'

Then should Christians end their prayers with the word amen, or with the phrase, may it be so? It really makes no difference. In fact, neither really has to be said for God to hear the prayer or for Him to understand that it is concluded (God is smarter than that). However, an audible 'amen' (or, 'may it be so') at the conclusion of a public prayer indicates that the prayer has ended and that we agree with the words that were spoken.

You will notice several places in this Bible where we have left the word amen unchanged; for example, at Revelation 3:14, where Jesus was referred to symbolically as 'the Amen,' or as the 'the one who causes things to be.'

Animal Sacrifices

Many religious teachers have tried to draw a line between Jehovah, 'the vengeful, warring God of the Old Testament,' and the 'God of the New Testament,' as represented by the loving, kind actions and words of Jesus. However, if you pay close attention to the details, you'll find the same kind, loving God in both portions of the Bible. And this can be seen in His requirement for animal sacrifices.

The first mention in the Bible of an animal being sacrificed to God, is the one that was offered by Adam's second son Abel. And although he and his brother Cain both offered sacrifices, Abel's was the one that God found to be satisfactory. Why? Well, it has been argued that Abel's sacrifice was more pleasing to God because he offered a living thing, which better represented the sacrifice that God Himself would make when He offered His son's life on behalf of mankind. And this may be true. But we were told at Hebrews 11:4, 'It was because of his faith that Abel offered a greater sacrifice to God than did Cain.' So this may have represented more of a condition of heart and a reason for giving than a miraculous foreknowledge of future events.

Of interest though, are God's instructions about how such sacrifices were thereafter to be presented. For example, to show that they were being offered to God, some sort of Altar had to be constructed. What kind? Notice that when laying out the Old Law, God said (at Exodus 20:24): 'You must make an Altar to Me from the dirt'… so nothing fancy or expensive was required. Then sometime later, He said (at Exodus 20:25): 'Now, if you build a stone Altar to Me, don't use cut stones…' And at Exodus 20:26 we read: 'Nor should you build any steps to My Altar'… so the Altar wasn't to be too high, and simple rock (or dirt) construction was fine.

Of course, shortly thereafter, God told Moses to build the Sacred Tent, and it was also to have an Altar. And while the Tent must have been beautiful in all its gold and silver ornamentation and utensils; the Altar was to be short, quite small, and made of wood and brass… because it was to be portable. So the fires were to be kept small, and only animal fat and small organs (plus bread, wine, and tiny amounts of animal blood) were to be offered there.

Then, only 'clean' or 'perfect' animals were to be brought there, and the edible flesh was to be roasted or boiled nearby. 'Clean,' of course, meant that it was to be the type of animal that men had considered to be clean up until that time, such as a calf, sheep, pigeon, or dove (see Genesis 7:2). And what was to happen to the meat? It was to be eaten by those who offered it, and by the priests. In other words, this was just a community barbecue with one's neighbors and with God. And what portion was to be offered Altar as God's? The fat, the liver, the kidneys, etc., which was sent as a form of incense or pleasing odor to Him. No angry and vengeful (or hungry) God here.

Also notice that offering animal sacrifices to Him doesn't seem to have been God's idea; rather, it appears as though He allowed this simply because men thought it was the right thing to do. For we read at Psalm 40:6:
'Sacrifices and offerings, You didn't want;
But You prepared a body for me…
You did not seek whole burnt offerings,
Nor sacrifices for [the covering of] sins.'

Also see God's negative opinion about animal sacrifices at Jeremiah 7:21-23. For there you can see that the requirements He set for such sacrifices appear to be a concession on His part to what the people thought that they should be offering to Him.

Anoint the 'Most Holy' or the 'Holiest of the Holy?'

Understand that the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 is clearly talking about the period between when the Temple in JeruSalem would be rebuilt and when the Messiah (Jesus) would be anointed by God (after which the city would be destroyed). Notice how we have rendered verse 24:
Seventy periods of seven
Have been set for you and your people
And upon the Holy City on Zion,
To bring an end to its sins,
To set a seal on its sins,
To wipe away all their lawless deeds,
And to atone for their errors;
To restore righteous ways through the ages,
To put a seal on the prophecies and visions,
And to anoint the holiest of the holy.'

In Greek, the portion of the above verse that we've highlighted in bold reads, 'kai tou krisai agion agiOn,' or, 'and the anointing holy holiest.' And if you'll check to see how the verse is rendered in other Bibles, you'll see that because the term 'the holy of the holiest,' or 'the Most Holy' usually refers to the sacred place in God's Temple that represented His presence, these words are translated as 'Holy of Holies' there. However, while we are not being dogmatic on this, it appears as though this verse is referring to Jesus as being that 'holiest of the holy.' For you can see from the next verse (25) that the prophecy is talking about his arrival. Notice:
'So know this and now understand:
From the delivery of the word and response
For JeruSalem to be rebuilt,
Until the Anointed (Christ) Leader arrives,
Will be seven periods of seven,
Plus sixty-two periods of seven.'

We have drawn the supposition that this verse is referring to the anointing of Jesus from our understanding of the meaning of the root word for anointed, 'christos' or Christ (krisai in the above verse). This refers to the pouring of oil (representing God's Spirit) over one's head to indicate that a person has been chosen to an office by God. And although the ancient Temple along with all its parts had to be regularly 'cleansed' by the Priests by being sprinkled with water and blood, the concept of 'anointing' the Most Holy compartment makes no sense at all. However, Jesus was in fact anointed (making him 'the Christ') when he came out of the water after being baptized by John, for that's when the Breath (Spirit) of God descended upon him in the form of a dove and God proclaimed him His beloved Son. So from the context we have concluded that verse 24 was foretelling this anointing of Jesus, making him 'the holiest of the holy,' because his 'arrival' was signaled when he was anointed by God

Anointed

Notice that in this Bible translation, 2 Corinthians 1:21 (for example) says, 'And indeed, the One who confirmed us among you into the Anointed One, and the One who anointed us, is God.' Yet, notice that in the Authorized King James Version this verse reads, 'Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.'

So, why didn't we just go ahead and render the word (Anointed) as Christ, as countless other translators have done? For two reasons:
1. Because the term 'Christ' has almost totally lost its meaning to many Bible readers today, since most have come to believe that this was Jesus' last name. It wasn't.
2. Because 'Christ' is a word that was made up by early Bible translators (it's an Anglicization of the Greek word christos) and it is only used in that form when they thought that the Bible was speaking of Jesus. In other places it is correctly translated into English as, anointed.

If you look at the above verse (2 Corinthians 1:21) as it appears in Greek, you'll see that it reads, 'Ho de bebaion hemas syn hymin eis christon kai chrisas hemas Theos,' or, 'The of stabilizing us with you into anointed and anointing us God.' Notice that christon (anointed) and chrisas (anointing) are both just conjugations of the same word, which by the way, is Greek for olive oil. Why olive oil? Because that substance was traditionally poured over the heads of kings and priests of IsraEl to indicate that God had chosen them for their office. And in other places we can see that this anointing pictured the pouring of God's Spirit upon them. Therefore, David and Solomon were both anointed (olive oil was poured over their heads) to show that God had selected them and poured His Spirit upon them to be kings over His people.

So understand that the word christos means, anointed. But if you prefer the word Christ; then Saul, David, and Solomon were Christs, for you can't have it both ways. As an example; look at the words that David spoke about Saul, as found at 1 Samuel 24:6 (LXX): 'Kai eipin David pros tous andras autou: Medamos moi para kiriou ei poieso to hrema touto to kyrio mou to christo kyriou epenegkai cheira mou ep auton hoti christos kyriou estin autos,' or, 'Said David to the men of/his: By/no/means of/me from the/Lord if I/should/do this thing to my/Lord to/the Christ (Anointed) of/the/Lord to/raise my/hand against him; for, the/Christ (Anointed) of/the/Lord this is.'

As you can see; if Christos should be translated as Christ, then unrighteous King Saul was also a Christ. Yet, notice that almost all Bibles translate christos as anointed in this case (and this is just one of many such instances that are found in the OT).

So understand that this was the reason why Jesus (and he alone) was referred to as the christon or Christ in the Gospels. For until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on his disciples, he was the only one who had been 'anointed' by God's Holy Breath, which happened to him after his baptism. Therefore, Jesus didn't really become the Christon (Christ, Anointed, or Chosen One) until he was anointed with Holy Breath (when the 'dove' came down on him). This can be proven by what Peter said concerning him at Acts 10:38: 'For thereafter, God anointed Jesus from Nazareth with Holy Breath and power, and he traveled throughout the land doing good things and healing all those who were oppressed by the Slanderer.'

And if you understand this nuance, you get the true meaning of the word Christ (Anointed) as it applies to Jesus; it means that he was the one who God chose to be king over His people. Also, Paul was telling the Christians in Corinth that they too would be anointed… become 'christs.' For when they were 'anointed' and sealed by God's Holy Breath, they were selected to be 'kings on the earth' (Revelation 5:10).

Also notice how rendering the Greek words christos or christon consistently as 'anointed' rather than 'Christ' gives us a better understanding of other scriptures. For example, at Matthew 24:24 we can see that many Bibles say that Jesus foretold the coming of false Christs and false prophets. But what he actually said was, 'Because, false anointed and false prophets (gr. pseudo christon kai pseudo prophetai) will arise, and they'll perform great omens and signs to mislead (if possible) even the elected!' So Jesus wasn't necessarily saying that people would come claiming to be him (although many have), but that people would come falsely claiming to be God's anointed and His prophets… though they truly aren't. For more information, see the linked document, False Anointed and False Prophets.

Another example of the poor use of the title Christ (implying Jesus) by Bible translators can be found at 1 Peter 1:10, 11, which reads in this Bible: 'When it comes to salvation, the Prophets looked and searched for this loving-care that's being shown to you. They tried, through the spirit of anointing that was in them to determine the exact time and circumstances of the sufferings of the Anointed One and of his being glorified, which they knew about even back then.' Yes, other Bibles say it was the Spirit of Christ that was in the ancient Prophets. But remember that, as we pointed out above, although Jesus didn't become the Christ or the Anointed until after his baptism; all the faithful Prophets, Priests, and kings had in fact been anointed to receive their position. Therefore, what Peter was saying in those verses is that the ancient Prophets tried through the power of God's Breath that had anointed them to be Prophets to determine the time and circumstances of the glorification of Jesus. For if you check the wording of those verses in Greek, you'll see that there is no 'the' preceding the first christou (anointed), which would be required if it was saying that the Spirit of the Christ (or the Anointed One) was in them.

Anointing

At Exodus 29:29, we find that Aaron and his sons were to be 'anointed' as Priests to God, and that this action would make them 'holy' or clean. This anointing by having holy oil poured over their heads was a sign to all onlookers that they had been chosen to this office by God. And in Leviticus, when we read of the 'anointed' Priest, the reference seems to indicate just one of the Priests who had been chosen for the special office of what later became known as High Priest.

The Greek word that we have translated as anointed here is chriseis, which can also properly be translated as Christ (it's just a conjugation of Christos), since christ and anointed both come from the same root, which is Greek for olive oil, because olive oil is was what was used for the anointing. So, Jesus wasn't the first or the only one to be correctly referred to as a christ.

Also note that olive oil was poured over the heads of those whom God chose to be kings over His people. And fragrant herbs were added to the oil to make it special and to give it a pleasing odor. The exact formula for the anointing oil is found at Exodus 30:34, where it tells us that it was to be made from 'sixteen pounds of choice myrrh flowers, eight pounds of sweet-smelling cinnamon, eight pounds of sweet-smelling calamus, sixteen pounds of cassia, and a gallon of olive oil.'

This physical anointing with oil also appears to have pictured their receiving God's Holy Breath, which made them 'holy,' and this was also an appropriate description for Jesus, who many years later became God's High Priest that would ransom us for our sins with his own blood, and who also became the king of God's Kingdom. So, both the 'anointed' priests and the 'anointed' kings pictured Jesus. Therefore, the term christ, when referring to these Priests and kings, is apropos.

Antichrists

Who are the Antichrists? As John said (at 1 John 2:22), 'Yes, this is the Antichrist: They are those who deny both the Father and the Son!'

Why did John write this? Well by the end of the First Century CE, there were apparently some people in the Christian congregations (probably traditionalist Jews) who were denying that Jesus was the Son of God. Then John went on to say (at 1 John 2:23): 'Whoever denies the Son [also denies] the Father.' So these were the ones whom John identified as the 'Antichrists.'

Of course, a denial of Jesus amounted to an unforgivable sin against God's Holy Breath, because it was God's Breath that had testified to who Jesus was. So this was a very serious matter. In fact, it was so serious that John told Christians not to even talk to such people – to treat them as though they were dead – because what they were saying truly condemned them.

Popular modern tradition has it that the Antichrist is a single person, group, or entity that will come in the last days. However, notice that this idea is proven false by the words of 1 John 2:18, 19, which read: 'Young children; It's the last hour. And as you've heard, the Antichrist is coming, for there are already many Antichrists… and that's how we know it's the last hour. They left us because they weren't like us; for if they'd been like us, they would still be with us, and this is what proves that they aren't like us.'

Then John again identified such ones in the same way at 2 John 1:7, where he wrote: 'Many have strayed [back] into the world and won't admit that Jesus the Anointed One came in the flesh. And these who have strayed are the Antichrists.'

So popular beliefs about the coming of some future evil Antichrist reflect a lack of Bible reading and are best relegated to the realm of science-fiction movies.

Apostasy and Apostates

The Greek word apostasis (in its various conjugated forms) is used several times in the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT). We find it used at 2 Chronicles 28:19, for example, where we've rendered it as 'turned away,' because that's what the term really means, since it refers to a turning away from a righteous God-fearing way of life. For the Greek word (which we pronounce as apostasy in English) literally means, 'turn away from (apo)' a 'standing or state (stasis).' So it doesn't refer to a disagreement over doctrine, as the word is misapplied by some modern religious groups.

Almost all Bible references to apostasy are speaking of a turning away from the way of IsraElite life that is outlined in the Old Law. Notice that there are just two places where this term (apostasy) is used to indicate someone's unfaithfulness in the Christian Era Scriptures (NT); at Acts 21:21 and at 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

At Acts 21:21, we read (concerning the Apostle Paul): 'They have heard the rumor that you've been teaching Judeans who live among the nations an apostasy from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to follow the traditions.'

Notice that what was being called an apostasy by the Christian brothers in JeruSalem was his teaching both Jews and gentiles that they didn't have to follow the traditional Jewish way of life, as outlined by Moses in the Old Law… which was true! Yet Paul submitted to the wishes of these Jewish elders and underwent a needless ceremonial cleansing at the Temple, which led to his arrest and eventual death as a martyr in Rome.

As you can see; he wasn't accused of being an apostate for teaching something contrary to what some Jewish Christians believed. Rather, they said he was teaching a 'turning from' or an 'apostasy' from the Law of Moses. So notice that his teachings weren't termed 'apostate,' it was the act of turning from the Law of Moses that they were calling 'an apostasy.'

Actually, the proper word to use when speaking of a person who is teaching something that deviates from established doctrine is heresy, and they weren't calling Paul 'a heretic.' However, 'heresy' is the charge that the Catholic Church used extensively when they were accusing Protestants and others during their 'Inquisition' of the 1400s and 1500s. They didn't accuse anyone of apostasy – turning from a Christian way of life – but of heresy – disagreeing with their established doctrines. So they understood the proper English differences in the meanings of the words.

Yet there was at least one instance where Paul himself seemed to accuse and impose sanctions on certain Christians for heresy. We find this account at 2 Timothy 2:17, 18, where he wrote: 'That was the problem with Hymenaeus and Philetus; they got away from the truth and started teaching that the resurrection has already happened, which misdirected the faith of some.'

So, deviating from teaching the truth of the Bible was in fact a serious matter among First-Century Christians. However, in view of what Jesus said at Matthew 5:22 and what was said about Jesus at Jude 9; calling anyone names such as 'apostate' or 'heretic' (especially when there might be some question as to who is right) would be a far more serious sin in the eyes of God.

The only other places in the Christian-Era Scriptures (NT) where the Greek word for apostasy is found, is where a 'certificate of dismissal' (divorce certificate) is mentioned (see Mark 10:4, for example). The Greek words that are used there are biblion apostasiu, which literally mean, 'scroll of apostasy (or turning away).'

Ark or Chest?

What is an ark? Why, everyone has heard of Noah's ark, haven't they? But what is an ark? Ark is an ancient English word, the meaning of which has mostly been lost in history. However, it is often used in other Bibles to translate the Greek word kiboton (kee/boat/on). And because most people don't understand the meaning of the English word, they usually don't understand what it's talking about. As the result, any concept that they might have of what an ark looked like usually comes from pictures in children's storybooks, which show a large boat with all sorts of animals looking out the windows.

An ark is simply a box or chest. If you carefully examine the description of the measurements that God gave to Noah, you'll see that He told Noah to build a three-story wooden box that was about 'five-hundred feet long, eighty feet wide, and fifty feet tall.' It was rectangular (not boat shaped), it had a roof, at least one window, and a door. It didn't have to be a 'boat' that could navigate, because all it had to do was float. Nor did the animals look out the window(s); it didn't have a lot of windows or an open top deck, and the animals were kept in stalls.

We also find the word kiboton used to describe the sacred box known as 'the Ark of the Covenant' (gr. kiboton marturion – chest of Testimony), but which we have more accurately translated as 'Chest of Proofs,' since that sacred Chest held the proofs of God's miracles, such as the manna, the flowering rod of Aaron, and the tablets of the Ten Commandments.

ArtaXerxes

The name that is given for the king that is mentioned in the Septuagint version of the book of Esther is ArtaXerxes, who was probably ArtaXerxes I, king of Persia. However, notice that this isn't the same name that the Septuagint accounts of Ezra and Nehemiah gave for the person who is thought to be the same king, for though the Masoretic texts of those books identify him as ArtaXerxes, he was called ArthaSastha in the Greek texts. So, why is there a difference in the spelling if all three books are speaking of the same person? Well, if all three accounts are in fact speaking of the same ArtaXerxes I (and we suspect that they are), this may simply have been caused by the fact that one or two among the seventy translators of the Septuagint used a local Jewish spelling of the name, and another who translated Esther preferred the Greek spelling.

Astin

In Persian, the name of this rebellious queen is VashTi, but the Greek pronunciation is Astin (see the Wikipedia reference, 'Vashti'). Although some sources claim that she was the daughter of the defeated Babylonian King BelShazzar, the hundred and forty years or more since his death makes that relationship unlikely. However, she could have been a descendant (a grand daughter) of BelShazzar.

BaAl, BeEl, Bel, and El

Throughout the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT) you will read of Gods, people, and places with names that start with BaAl, BeEl, and Bel. These terms mean the Lord, the Master, or the Owner, and they refer to various gods of nations, not necessarily to a particular god. The word was just a title for a God, and the God's name (or the place that he/it represented) follows the title, such as BeEl Phegor (as found at Numbers 25:3). And where people just called their god BaAl (or BeEl), they were referring to the particular lord or god of that city or land. Also, where a person's name includes one of these terms (such as, BelShazzar), it usually means that the person was named after a local god (in this case, Shazzar).

Of course, having the title BaAl or BeEl in a name doesn't necessarily imply that a person is a worshiper of a pagan god, for several faithful worshipers of Jehovah also had that title as part of their names. For example, the faithful Judge Gideon came to be known as JeroBaAl (meaning 'May BaAl Defend Himself'), because of his action in cutting down an altar to BaAl. Also, one of King Saul's grandsons (through faithful JoNathan) was named MeriBaAl (meaning 'Opposer of BaAl'), one of King David's faithful warriors was named BaAlJah (meaning 'Lord Jehovah'), and David named one of his sons BaAlJada (meaning 'Lord Knows').

By the way, BaAl is pronounced Bah-ahl and BeEl is pronounced Beh-el, not Bayel or Beel. So you will usually find them spelled as BaAl or BeEl herein to remind you of the proper pronunciation. The reason why it is in two syllables is that it is a combination of two words, 'The Lord.' Also notice that the difference in the vowels is probably due to variations in the local pronunciation.

In places where we find the letters 'El' at the beginning of a name or place; this is usually just a shortened version of the Hebrew word Elohim, meaning God. So, whereas many Bibles translate the Greek word 'Baithelbereth' (as found at Judges 9:46) as 'Bethel Bereth,' we have translated it as 'the House of God Bereth.' For 'Beth (or Baith)' means 'the house (or temple) of,' 'El' means 'God,' and 'Bereth' is that God's name.

Babylon (the Great)

The 'whore' that is identified in Revelation the Eighteenth Chapter (the Great Babylon) has been identified by some as a composite of all religions that have shared in having a 'throne over the kings of the earth.' And this could be true, for what other group has wielded such an influence over the governments through the ages as this one is identified as doing in the Revelation?

However, although we once felt that the above conclusion was true; in the process of translating the words of the Hebrew Prophets and in reading the things that ancient Babylon did to apostate Judah and JeruSalem, we have come across enough questionable details to cause us to be less sure of this conclusion.

What are these 'questionable details?' Well, the Bible shows us that God sent the Kingdom of Babylon against the Jews because they had been unfaithful. So, 'the Great Babylon' (as it was referred to by the king of Babylon at Daniel 4:30) was a worldly army that was sent against something that had become unfaithful to 'The God.' And we have wondered whether unfaithful JeruSalem and Judah don't in fact represent what we thought The Great Babylon represented (unfaithful Judaism and Christianity). Understand that this is just an open question.

Also note that at Jeremiah 51:45 we find almost the same words as are found in the Revelation. For there we read:
'So, come out of her midst, O My people…
Let each one save his own life,
From the anger and rage of Jehovah.'
And if you read the context, you will see that this was a warning to the Jews get out of Babylon after its empire is destroyed. So, this seems to be speaking of a political, not a religious organization.

However, notice that the 'whore' of Revelation was guilty of doing what James mentioned as being wrong for Christians at James 4:4, where he wrote: 'Adulteresses, don't you know that if you're a friend of the world, you're an enemy of God? So whoever wants to be a friend of the world is putting himself down as God's enemy.' Therefore, we will allow that the Great Babylon could still represent apostate Christianity, or it could include Judaism and Islam, or perhaps even all religions. For notice that the description by James labels 'Christians' (for example) as immoral adulteresses when they get too bound up in secular affairs and politics, putting such things over the love of brothers, neighbors, and God. And this lines up with the description of 'the Great Babylon' in Revelation.

Of course, the people of ancient JeruSalem (which was destroyed by the Great Babylon) were also described as doing such things. For if you read Ezekiel, Chapter twenty-three, you will see how God Himself likened JeruSalem to a woman who was promised to Him, but became a whore through her unfaithfulness… which is what much of modern Christendom appears to have done today. And when Jesus was on trial before Pontius Pilate, the Jewish religious leaders sealed this position when they proclaimed: 'We have no king but Caesar.'

One final point: We know that in the past, some have identified The Great Babylon as being the Catholic Church (see the book, 'The Two Babylons,' by Alexander Hyslop). And though there is no single religion that we can point to as standing alone in its involvement in corruption and political entanglements (since almost all are guilty of this today), notice that at Revelation 17:9, the 'whore' is described as sitting atop seven mountains or hills, and this does closely resemble the fabled terrain of Rome.

Bible Measurements

The most common unit for measuring length, height, and depth in the Bible is a cubit, which is the length of a man's forearm. And of course, the lengths of forearms vary depending on the size of the person, so a cubit may be anywhere between eighteen and twenty-two inches. However, to give you a better idea of the size and proportions of things in the Bible, we have converted the units of measure to more familiar terms, such as feet and inches. And because they aren't exact measurements, we have roughly averaged the sizes or lengths. Also, some units of measure such as a cor (about 32 bushels), hin, or bath (about 6 gallons), have been roughly estimated.

In addition, we have dropped the obscure names of coins, since most readers have no idea of their modern value (which continues to grow), and we have simply inserted the types of coins that they are (whether gold, silver, or copper), and sometimes the size of the coin, to provide you some frame of reference.

Bless or Praise?

This is a tough one, and we won't say that our position on the translation of this word can't be changed. The Greek word that we are struggling with is eulogetos, which is usually translated as 'blessed' or 'blessing.' Notice that the first part of the word eu, is Greek for good, and the last part of the word, logetos means words (or expressions). So a literal translation of eulogetos is good words. And our question is: Is this all that a blessing amounts to?

So, why are we questioning the traditional translating of eulogetos as bless, blest, and blessing as it appears in other Bibles? Because we have found too many errors in commonly-accepted renderings of many Greek words. And here, for example, if eulogetos should be properly translated as blessing each time (which carries the nuance, 'causing good things to happen'), then how can humans 'bless God?' So, since all that we can do is praise God, we have concluded that 'praise' is a better translation of eulogetos in many instances.

Also notice that eulogetos is where we derive the English word eulogy (the kind words that are said of the deceased at a funeral). In this case, we couldn't say that a eulogy is said as a blessing, because it's a bit late for that. So really, all we can do is speak in praise of the deceased individual. Yet, despite all of these arguments, there are definitely places in the Bible where eulogetos is best translated as bless or blessing.

Notice that this isn't the same Greek word that we have rendered as blest in other portions of this translation (for an example, see Matthew 5:5). The word in question there is makarios, which is rendered as blessed and as happy in other Bibles. However, if you read the following Note, you will see why we have chosen the word blest as the better translation of that Greek word.

Blest or Happy?

There is quite a debate as to whether the Greek word makarios, found in many places throughout the Bible, should be translated as blessed or happy.

Notice that we have chosen to translate it as blest, which is an older spelling of the word blessed, to get rid the affected pronunciation that was likely introduced by early preachers (bles-sed).

According to Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary, the word should never be translated as happy, because happy is derived from the words happen, happening, or happenstance (luck). His reasoning (with which we agree) is that whenever someone suffers for the sake of righteous principles (as was spoken of at Matthew 5:10), his/her reward isn't just happiness (which can come from any source of good luck or fortune); but rather, it is a joy that comes from gaining a better relationship with God.

However, wasn't Jesus really speaking of things that would cause all people to be happier in his beatitudes, as recorded in Matthew Chapters 5 through 7? No, we don't think so. For more information see the linked Note, 'Poor in Spirit.'

Bodily Divinity

It is very difficult to translate Colossians 2:9, 10 into English, and many different conclusions have been reached about what Paul was writing here. In Greek it reads: 'οτι εν αυτω κατοικει Ļαν το Ļληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως και εστε εν αυτω ĻεĻληρωμενοι ος εστιν η κεφαλη Ļασης αρχης και εξουσιας,' or, 'because, in him is/dwelling/down all the fullness of/the divinity bodily and you/are in him having/filled who is the head of/all government and authority.'

The King James Bible renders these verses as: 'For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.'

GOD'S WORD® Translation says: 'All of God lives in Christ's body, and God has made you complete in Christ. Christ is in charge of every ruler and authority.'

The International Standard Version says: 'because, all the essence of deity inhabits him in bodily form. And you have been filled by him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.'

The New World Translation reads: 'because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily. And so you are possessed of a fullness by means of him, who is the head of all government and authority.'

We have rendered these verses as: 'For in him lives all the fullness of the divine body… and you’re also in this one who is so filled and who is the head over all the governments and powers!'

As you can see, the wording of different Bible translations is quite varied, and their choice of words appears to depend on whether the translators believe in the concept of a Holy Trinity.

What did Paul actually mean? Although we have concluded through independent research that the Trinity concept is poorly supported (see the linked document, 'Who Was Jesus?'), we have no one's doctrines to support. So hopefully we can be a bit more objective.

As you can see; whatever the fullness of the divine body may be, it is something that is shared in by the Christian congregation. So the wording of Colossians 2:9, 10 doesn't appear to support the Trinitarian Godhead concept (no Holy Spirit), or the idea that God lives in Jesus' body, since many share in the fullness of that body, as the Greek text clearly shows. Rather, the wording seems to closely reflect the words of John as found at John 14:20, which reads: 'εν εκεινη τη ημερα υμεις γνωσεσθε οτι εγω εν τω Ļατρι μου και υ μεις εν εμοι καγω εν υμιν,' or, 'In that the day you will/know that I in (εν) the Father of/me, and you in (εν) me, and I in (εν) you.'

Here (as recorded by John) Jesus was speaking of a special relationship between God, himself, and the congregation, and he used the Greek word εν (English: in) to reflect their closeness or unity. So for that reason, we have chosen to render εν as in at Colossians 2:10 (as we have in several other places throughout the Christian-Era Scriptures). And from this description that was given by Jesus himself, we must conclude that the sharing of the divine body refers to a oneness or unity between Jesus, God, and the congregation… which will lead to all in the Congregation having a headship over governments and powers.

Notice how this conclusion is supported by the words of Colossians 3:1-4, which read: 'So if you've been raised with the Anointed One, search for the things that are above… at the right hand of God where the Anointed One is sitting. Also, think about the things that are above (not on the earth), because you died and your life has been hidden away in the Anointed One and in God. And then, when the Anointed One (who is our life) shows himself, you will also be seen with him in glory.'

Book of Enoch

At Jude 1:14, 15, Jesus' half-brother wrote this: 'The seventh man from Adam, Enoch, prophesied about them when he said, [Look!] Jehovah came with His holy tens of millions to condemn them all and to give all the godless what they deserve for the godless things they're doing in their worldly ways, and for all the shocking things that these godless sinners have said against Him.'

This verse has amazed many Christians, for it mentions a writing that is not considered to be part of the Bible canon, the Book of Enoch, which is generally viewed as being an uninspired secular work. Yet if it truly was written by Enoch (an early man of faith who was so loved that he was 'transferred' by God); why would we consider it uninspired? And if it were a fake; why would Jude have quoted from it?

If you read the Book of Enoch all the way through (a copy can be found at Sacred-Texts.com), you'll see that Jude's unique description of the condition of the fallen messengers of God (as described in Jude 6) is based on the information found in this book. So, can we say that this 'Book of Enoch' is inspired and should be included as scripture in the Bible?

It is said that the ancient copies of the Book of Enoch (which Jude was quoting from) were lost. However, more modern copies have been found in Ethiopia and in some Slavic countries, which have been translated into English (for more information, see the link, 'Book of Enoch'). And after reading one copy of these texts, we were surprised to find how much of this supposedly pre-Christian document is in harmony with the words of Jesus and the Bible book of Revelation. But if it is an inspired work, it clearly has numerous errors that would indicate mistranslations and centuries of added words (as does the Bible, by the way). In fact, the wording of the entire book heavily reflects the religious doctrines, views, and words of the Middle Ages. So if the current available copies were ever inspired, they are totally corrupted today, and the book was likely so corrupted by the time of the Jew's return from captivity in Babylon (c. 537-BCE) that the Scribe Ezra didn't include it among the Sacred Writings.

For example, one of the corruptions that we find in the Book of Enoch is that in Chapter Ten, you'll find a traditional, graphic description of Hell Fire. Yet by removing just a few words, you will see that the description reads much like Revelation 20:10. So it is apparent that the problem here could be more one of twisted translating or copying to reflect the popular religious views of the Middle Ages than a text that was originally incorrect.

However, some scholars point to these quotations from the book of Enoch to prove that the book of Jude is itself a spurious addition to the Bible (Jude was one of the last books to be included in the Bible canon). For, quotations from what many believe to be an ancient spurious writing certainly brings the authenticity of the book of Jude into question. Yet, it is difficult to tell whether the book of Enoch is in fact spurious or just badly corrupted.

Notice that the City of Sodom is mentioned in the Book of Enoch, which is a city that we believe came long after the lifetime of Enoch. It has been suggested by an advisor that Sodom could have been the name of a far more ancient city that existed prior to the Downpour, which may have been a center of wickedness in the lifetime of Enoch also (but we doubt this). So this mention could be the final proof that the whole book of Enoch is uninspired… but then, could those words have been added later? Who knows?

More recently, it has been suggested that Jude wasn't really quoting from the modern book of Enoch (which certainly bears the tracks of more recent writers and thinking). But rather, he was quoting from more ancient texts that no longer exist, and that the modern book just included parts of these texts. Either way, we urge you to be extremely cautious when reading the Book of Enoch. But if it was once truly inspired (which the quotations of Jude would indicate), it does provide some interesting descriptions of significant events, names, and dates that aren't found in more accepted Bible texts…and this would be extremely important, if they are true.

Book of Judges

There are some interesting idiosyncrasies in the book of Judges that lead us to question who actually wrote it. We receive one clue from the words found at Judges 1:21, where we read: 'Nor did the children of BenJamin take JeruSalem from the Jebusites as their inheritance; so the Jebusites still live among the children of BenJamin in JeruSalem to this day.'

Then we read at Judges 18:1: 'There was no king over IsraEl back then.'

Therefore, whoever did the writing must have lived during the time when a king ruled IsraEl, but before the kings started ruling in JeruSalem… possibly during the reign of Saul. And if so, the Prophet SamuEl seems to be the likely source.

However, notice the apparent contradiction found at Judges 18:30, where we read: 'And JoNathan (the son of Gerson and grandson of Manasseh) and his sons became the Priests of the tribe of Dan until the time when the nation was captured and carried away [into captivity].'

These words would then indicate that the book was written sometime after IsraEl's conquest by the Assyrians and JeruSalem's conquest by the Babylonians, or in the late 4th Century BCE. And the likely writer then would be the Scribe Ezra. So, how do we resolve the differences?

Well, we can see from the context that the book of Judges was written close to the time of the Judges (perhaps by SamuEl), then it appears as though a later copyist (perhaps Ezra) added the comment at Judges 18:30. And since this comment is found both in the Hebrew and Greek texts, we know that these words were likely added sometime in the late 4th Century BCE.

Bread on Water

Much has been written about the meaning of Solomon's words, where he wrote (at Ecclesiastes 11:1): 'aposteilon ton arton epi prosopon tou hydatos oti en plethei ton hemeron heureseis auton,' or, 'Send the bread yours on face the waters and in many the days find it.' And we have often been repulsed by the thought of receiving cold, soggy bread. But what was King Solomon actually talking about?

While the Greek word arton is usually translated as bread, loaf, or loaf of bread; in ancient times, it also referred to just grains of wheat. This was the case where Jesse gave 'bread' to his youngest son David to carry to his brothers in battle, which consisted of both roasted grain and loaves (see 1 Samuel 17:17).

So the apparent meaning of Solomon's words are as we rendered them:
'Scatter your [seeds] on the water,
And after some time you will find them.'
And while the meaning may still not be apparent to many, realize that birds usually eat seeds that are scattered over dry ground; so the practice was to do the planting before or after a hard rain or irrigation. And the seeds were scattered on the water to cause them to germinate and quickly root.

Of course, Solomon wasn't really giving advice on planting. His words were in the form of a parable or illustration, and they implied that being liberal with the things we have will result in our receiving liberally from others.

Breath

The Greek word pneuma (as in pneumonia, a breathing disease) means breath or wind – the movement of air. In other Bible translations, this word is often translated as spirit or ghost, as in Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. However, spirit is just a shortened form of the Latin word spiritu, which once again just means breath in Latin. And ghost conveys another meaning altogether.

In the Bible, the most common use of the word pneuma is to convey the idea of a force that can't be seen, such as breath or wind. And the problem with translating it as spirit or ghost is that those words have been given religious meanings which aren't implied by the Greek texts. Therefore to prevent confusion, the Greek word pneuma is frequently translated as breath and occasionally as wind herein. However, there are many exceptions, as in instances where the Bible refers to demons as 'spirits.' Translating pneuma as breath in these cases, although correct, might just be confusing. So there are several places where we have left pneuma translated as spirit.

For example; there are instances where the word pneuma is speaking of a person's motivation. Therefore, we have translated pneuma as spirit in such locations, as we have also done in several places that speak of God's Holy Spirit, where readers will better understand the meaning in Modern English. However, rendering it as [God's] Holy Breath (which we have done in other places) is really more accurate and a clarification. For an example, see the Note, 'Worshiping God In Spirit and Truth.'

Another important use of the word pneuma is in the phrase, 'Breath of Life.' This term appears to mean more than just breathing, for it seems to refer to the entire mechanics of life itself. It's the unseen force of life for all creatures and it's what makes each cell alive. However, nowhere does the Bible describe the 'pneuma' as immortal, nor is it the same as the soul (a breathing thing); so it can (figuratively) return to the God who gave it at death, because all hope of future life depends on God and His promise of a resurrection.

Note in particular how the term pneuma is found in the Greek text at Job 27:3, where Job was speaking of God's Breath or Spirit. For there he asked: 'Does the Breath of the Divine One remain in my nose?' As you can see from his application of this word, pneuma obviously referred to God's Breath, not Holy Spirit, for he was clearly talking about that which comes from God and which caused him (Job) to breathe… the Breath of Life.

It is interesting that at Genesis 6:3, God said concerning the wicked people on earth before the Downpour: 'I won't allow My Breath to stay with these men through the age, for they are fleshly.' In Greek, that reads: 'Ou me katameine to pneuma mou en tois anthropois toutoiseis ton aiona, dia ai einai autous sarka,' or, 'Not not should stay the Breath Mine with these men the age through, their being flesh.' However, most other Bibles translate the word pneuma as Spirit here. But while the words Breath Mine (pneuma mou) here can refer to God's Holy Breath, it seems more likely that He was referring to the breath of life that He gave to Adam. Therefore, it appears as though what God was saying here is that the breath of life (of the people of that age) would be removed prematurely. However, since God referred to it as 'My Breath,' there may be a link implied between God's Holy Breath and the breath of life. For more information, see the linked document, 'The Powers of God's Holy Spirit.'

But note how the proper rendering of the word pneuma as breath can clarify the meaning of a Bible verse, in the instance found at John 19:30. For is says there concerning the death of Jesus (in Greek): 'kai klinas ten kephalen paredoken to pneuma', or, 'and inclined his head giving/up the breath.' So, rather than saying that Jesus gave up his spirit (which is how it is rendered in other Bibles), implying that Jesus then went to God (which he didn't, because the Bible tells us that he didn't go there until forty days later), the obvious reference is to his giving up 'the breath of life,' or the force that gave him life as a human.

Brothers and Sisters of Jesus

There are many places in the Scriptures that speak of Jesus' brothers and sisters, and Acts 1:14 is one of those places. Were these Jesus' fleshly brothers, or was the writer (Luke) referring to his 'spiritual' brothers?

The context provides the answer. The fact that Jesus' brothers are mentioned here in addition to his Apostles, disciples, and his mother (Mary), indicates that these were fleshly brothers (other children of Mary).

Caesarea Philippi

While some critics have claimed the Bible's Gospel accounts weren't written for more than a century after Jesus' death; internal proofs, such as Matthew's use of the city name Caesarea Philippi, show that this book had to be written prior to the middle of the First Century CE. For that city (which is near the border of Lebanon) was only called Caesarea Philippi during the brief reign of the Herods. Rather, the common name both before and after the Herods was 'Panas,' after the Roman God Pan, whose idol was located there. So since this fact would have been lost to history just a few years after the Herods, it proves that the Book of Matthew had to be written shortly after Jesus' execution and before 50-CE.

This city is also mentioned three times in the Gospel of Mark, which was written later and which seems to have been based on the writings of Matthew.

Cain's Wife

One of the most commonly asked Bible questions is: Where did Cain get his wife? Yet, the answer is quite simple; he married one of his sisters (see Genesis 5:4). Understand that the Bible only lists the births of principal characters, such as Cain, Abel, and Seth (from whom we descended). But Adam and Eve obviously had many children, both sons and daughters.

Does marrying a sister sound immoral or illogical? Well, it was a common practice in Bible times. Take for example the righteous man Abram (AbraHam). He married his half sister Sarah, for their common father was Terah (see Genesis 20:12). Then AbraHam sent his servant to his closest relatives to take a wife for his son IsaAc, who thereafter married his first cousin, Rebecca… who was also a granddaughter of Terah. This pattern of taking close relatives as wives was then followed by both of IsaAc's sons, Jacob and Esau, who also married first cousins that were descended from Terah. So what we call incest today wasn't illegal or immoral in early Bible times. For more information, see the subheading, 'Incest' in the linked document, Christian Morality.

Called and Chosen

There seems to be quite a bit of difference between the Bible's use of the words called, and chosen, and their implications for the people involved. For notice what Jesus said as recorded at Matthew 22:14: 'However, many are called but few are chosen (gr. polloi eisin gar cletoi, oligoi de eclectoi).' And this verse could be possibly even be translated as 'Many are nominated, but few are elected.'

These words of Jesus seem to put an end to the notion that everyone who is called by God was foreordained to a favored position before his/her birth (as some teach). For what he said here seems to indicate is that there would be people who would be chosen from among a larger number of those who are 'called.' And not all who are called will chosen. This is elaborated on at Revelation 17:14, where it says that those who are 'called, elected, and faithful' will be fellow conquerors with Jesus. So 'the called' also have to prove faithful and then be 'elected' or 'chosen' in order to be with Jesus when he conquers.

This seems to have been the point of Jesus' parable of those who were invited to a banquet by a king, as found at Matthew 22:1-14, which (as Jesus said) was an illustration concerning 'the Kingdom of Heaven.' Because in that parable, many were 'called' to that banquet who didn't want to come. And the obvious reference here is to the Jews who were invited first to become kings in the Kingdom, but who for the most part rejected the invitation. So the story goes on to tell us that king then ordered his slaves to go out into the streets and 'call' anyone who wished to come to the banquet… which obviously referred to the calling of people of the nations or the gentiles (gr. tas ethne – the ethnics).

So, is this parable talking about being called to heaven to rule there with Jesus… for isn't the wedding banquet for God's son to be held in heaven, and aren't those who are invited to God's banquet the same as the bride that will be with Jesus in heaven? We have always thought so, but notice that the guests in this parable aren't referred to as virgins (as was the case of those mentioned in Revelation 14:1-4). Rather, Jesus spoke of them as, 'both the wicked and the good,' which is a strange way to refer to the 'Saints.'

Also notice that at Isaiah 65:23, those who are elected are spoken of as fathering children. For we read there:
'My elected won't labor for nothing,
Nor will they produce children for a curse;

For their seed and all their descendants,
Will then be blessings from God.'
So, it seems as though these 'chosen' or 'elected' have the hope of living on the earth, where they will father (or give birth to) children.

But then, as the parable in Matthew continues, Jesus said that the king saw a guest who wasn't properly dressed for a wedding feast (he apparently didn't have the required qualities). So this guest was then bound and thrown outside of the banquet hall (but not killed)… so although he was called, he wasn't chosen.

Therefore, from the foregoing; if we were to assume that this banquet of which Jesus spoke was to be held in heaven, we would have to ask, Was this person then kicked out of heaven? And if so, Why was he taken there to begin with? And the conclusion that we must reach is that Jesus' parable of those who were invited to the banquet doesn't refer to being called to heaven, but rather, to being called as Christians. And the 'electing' seems to refer to being found faithful and worthy of a resurrection.

However, there does seem to be another type of calling to which those faithful might strive. Notice what Paul said about himself at Philippians 3:10-12: 'Therefore, I've been willing to share in his sufferings and resign myself to a death like [that of Jesus] so that I can somehow be found worthy of an out-resurrection from the dead. [I’m not saying] that I’ve made it yet or that I’m already perfect, just that I’m chasing after it… I’m trying to grab hold of that for which the Anointed Jesus grabbed hold of me!' Then he continued with the words (at Philippians 3:14): 'I'm running toward the goal, the prize of the higher (gr. ano – upward or higher) calling from God, through the Anointed Jesus.'

So it appears as though the Bible speaks of more that one type of calling… a general calling of those who (if elected) will bring forth children on the earth, and a 'higher' or 'upward' calling. For notice that in this text in Philippians, Paul spoke of a different type of resurrection, the 'out resurrection' (gr. ek anastasin), which seems to refer to being called to heaven, because Paul referred to it as 'the higher calling from God.' And there appear to be special requirements for one to be so chosen.

What did Paul say would be the requirement for achieving the higher calling? He said that he would have to 'share in [Jesus'] sufferings and resign [himself] to a death like [that of Jesus] so [he could] somehow be found worthy.' Therefore, it appears as though to receive such a calling, a person must first endure incredible suffering for his/her beliefs (as did Jesus and Paul); for notice what Paul wrote at Romans 8:17, 'We have to suffer together so we can also be glorified together.'

Camel or Rope?

It has been argued that Jesus' use of the word camel at Matthew 19:24 was really a humorous play on words. For if he was speaking Aramaic (which many claim that he was), the word he used was gČmla, which means both camel and rope. Why were camels called ropes? Because the ancients used descriptive words for animals. So, horses were called hypos (translated as mounts) and camels were called ropes, which referred to the way they were led. On the other hand; if Jesus spoke Greek (which we doubt), he would have called the animal a camelon. And though camelon likely came from the same root as the more ancient Aramaic word, it only meant camel in Greek (not rope).

As you can see; if Jesus said gČmla (in Aramaic), he was really saying that it would be easier to 'thread a rope through the eye of a needle,' which in the context makes more sense than camel. And this amusing play on words (camel/rope) would have helped his listeners to remember the idea of his parable.

Capitals in Bible Names

You have likely noticed that we are putting multiple capital letters in many of the Bible names. For example, we've started spelling such names as Jonathan as JoNathan, Isaiah as IsaiAh, and Eliezer as EliEzer. Why? Well, partly to help with the correct pronunciations of the names, and partly to show some translating consistency.

Of course, the common English pronunciation of Jonathan (for example) is Jon-uh-thun. But did you know that the first part of that name (Io in Greek, Ieho in Hebrew) refers to the name of God, Jehovah, and the second part of the Name (Nathan) means Gift? So the name was originally pronounced closer to Yeh-ho-Nuh-thaan.

Likewise, in the case of names that end with an iah, as in Isaiah; the last part of the name often includes the name of God. Isaiah, for example, means Salvation [of] JehovAH, and it was originally pronounced Eesa-Yah. Yes, we know that the Brits pronounce it Ai-sai-Yah, but understand the letter 'i' was likely pronounced as a long 'e' by the ancients. Also, by the time the NT was written, the name took on the pronunciation 'Hsai-ah,' due to the Greek influence. But notice that in this name (as in many other Bible names) the IE has actually been changed to a J in English Bibles, due to the way the letters were transposed in older Spanish writings. Unfortunately though, this process wasn't followed consistently by ancient Bible translators; so while some names are spelled with a J, many others are still spelled with an Ie or Iah.

Another important word in names that we usually capitalize is 'El' (from the Hebrew Elohe, or God). So EliEzer (which people commonly pronounce eelai-eezer and means God [has] Helped) should actually be pronounced Elee-ehzer.

There are other prefixes and suffixes in names that you'll see we have also capitalized. For example, you'll find the letters Ai, especially in the names of cities, because Ai is the Hebrew word for city. So AiLam (for example) probably meant the City of Lam. And where you find the prefixes Bel (as in BelShazzar), or BaAl, or BeEl, they refer to 'the Lord.' Also, the prefixes 'Ben' and 'Bar' mean 'the son of,' 'Beth' means 'the house of,' 'Beer' refers to a 'well,' 'Is' or 'Ish' means 'Man,' etc.

Does this mean that we have put all the capitals in the right places? No, for we make no claim to Hebrew scholarship (all our translating here has been from Greek). But what we are trying to do is just provide a better understanding to how these names were pronounced by First-Century Christians.

Captives and Gifts

At Ephesians 4:8, Paul (when quoting the words of Psalm 68:18) wrote: 'He stepped up into the highest place and carried off captivity as a captive; then he gave gifts to the people.'

This has been a very difficult verse to translate in both places (Ephesians and Psalms); for the OT and NT texts don't agree with each other, and neither text appears to make any sense in the original language. The Greek text of Ephesians 4:8 literally reads: 'anabas eis hypsos echmaloteusen aichmalosian kai edokendomata tois anthropois,' or, 'through/which he/is/saying Having/stepped/up into height he/led/captive captivity and gave gifts to/the people.' Whereas the Septuagint shows Psalm 68:18 as saying, 'You/ascended into the/height, you/captured captivity, you/received gifts in people.' And the Hebrew text at Psalm 68:18 reads literally, 'you/have/ascended high, have/led captives, have/received gifts people.'

As you can see, the meanings differ widely; for the NT text says that [Jesus] GAVE gifts to the people, while both OT texts say that he RECEIVED gifts. So it is obvious that there are errors in at least two of the texts and perhaps in all three. Which is the correct rendering?

Since he had God's Holy Breath, and because he was using older OT texts than we have today, we are going to trust that Paul came the closest to quoting what the Psalm originally said. And to be sure; when attempting to arrive at the proper translation of a scripture, it helps to take a look at what the preceding and following verses have to say, to see if the words (as they were translated) harmonize with the context.

Notice the preceding words at Ephesians 4:7, which says, 'Now, the amount of caring that was shown to each of us depends on how much of the Gift the Anointed One measured out to us.' So from the context, we can see that Paul quoted Psalm 68:18 to show that the Gifts were being measured out to all the righteous (both males and females).

However, verse eleven is often used to contradict this conclusion. It says (in Greek): 'kai autos edoken tous men apostolous tous de prophetas,' or, 'and to/them he/gave those indeed apostles, those but prophets.' And from these words, many self-righteous males have made the claim that THEY are the gifts that Jesus gave to the congregation. For such Bibles as New Living Translation render this verse as reading: 'Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.' However, notice that the Greek text doesn't actually say that these were males or that they were the gifts.

NOTE: The Greek word we properly translated as people here is anthropon (not aner, which means the males of the species). Unfortunately, other Bibles translate anthropon as men, which gives the false impression that the gifts were not given to females (whom the Bible tells us also received the gifts).

Actually, most Bible commentators agree that the gifts being mentioned here were those of apostleship, prophesying, etc., rather than the male individuals who served as Apostles, Prophets, etc. In other words; the gifts that he gave were the gifts of the Spirit, which were poured out upon all in the congregation and which created the Apostles, Prophets, etc. Therefore, we have rendered verse eleven as reading, 'Then he gave some to be Apostles, some to be Prophets, some to be messengers of the good news, and some to be shepherds and teachers.'

A later note: The following comment was provided by Tim Mitchell, the editor of 'Peshitta Inc.' 'The Psalm version that Paul is quoting seems to be reflected in the OT Peshitta Psalms. He is either quoting from the Peshitta Psalms directly or he is quoting from the text that the Peshitta Psalms was translated from. Here is the text of the Psalm from the OT Peshitta (First Century Aramaic Bible): You have ascended on high and you have captured captivity and you have given gifts to the children of men and rebels will not dwell before God. Also, Ephesians 4:8 from the Peshitta NT is an exact match for the Peshitta OT in this place (Original Aramaic New Testament). He ascended to the heights and took captivity prisoner and he has given gifts to the children of men.'

Captives of Solomon

It has long been assumed that the mention of the 'captives of Solomon' at Amos 1:6, 9 is a Septuagint mistake. For the Masoretic (Hebrew) text doesn't specify a particular race or people in these texts. It just tells us that whole populations were carried away to Edom. However, the fact that Solomon had captured and used people of the nations surrounding Judah as soldiers and as high officials in his realm is often overlooked. The Cherethites and Pelethites are numbered among these, as are many of the Edomites (see 2 Samuel 8:13-18). And it could well be that the Septuagint reading is superior in these texts, since it seems to refer to these subject nations as the ones that were carried off as captives to the people of Edom.

Chest of Proofs

We are sorry to use such an unfamiliar term, but the common term, Ark of the Covenant, may not accurately describe the sacred box that eventually held the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the writings of Moses, the manna, and the walking stick of Aaron. Why do we say that?

Well, the meaning of the ancient English word 'ark' has been lost in history. And the second word, 'covenant' (meaning, sacred agreement) isn't always used as part of the name in the Greek text. In some places it is called the kiboton marturion, which literally means, Box [of] Testimony. And the reason why, is that it was built to hold the Proofs of the things that God did for IsraEl. So wherever the words kiboton marturion appear in the text, we have called it the Chest of Proofs. However, it was also referred to as the Chest of the Sacred Agreement (or, Ark of the Covenant) at Exodus 27:21 and in other places, so that term must also be correct. But after the IsraElites settled in the Promised Land, it was always referred to as the kiboton marturion, or the Chest of Proofs.

Unfortunately, during the time of SamuEl and the High-Priest Eli, the Philistines captured the Chest, emptied its contents, and then returned it to IsraEl empty, because it brought a plague upon them as long as they had it (see 1 Samuel 5:12). However, the sacred tablets containing the Ten Commandments were found to be still in the Chest during the time of King Solomon (but nothing else… see 1 Kings 8:9); so we must assume that they had thereafter been found and returned.

ChoBar River

Just where was the Prophet EzekiEl when he received his many visions and words from God? He says that he was along the ChoBar (or CheBar) River, in the land of Babylon… and many assume that he was living in Babylon along its Grand Canal (which could still be true). However, note that living in the land of Babylon isn't necessarily the same as living in the City of Babylon; for the land of Babylon covered a vast empire. And when the kings of Babylon deported and resettled nations that they captured, it is likely that only the royalty were taken to their capital city. Therefore, the majority of the Jewish people may have been deported to some other location in that land, which would explain why EzekiEl speaks in awe of faithful DaniEl, but provides no record of speaking to or dealing with him directly, which you would expect if they lived nearby. However, even DaniEl didn't live in Babylon after it was invaded, but in Persian Susa, where he was taken by King Darius shortly before his death; for what is thought to be DaniEl's tomb is still found there (see the link Susa).

A likely location for the Jewish resettlement (and that of EzekiEl) is actually quite a distance west of the city of Babylon and directly north of Palestine, on the eastern side of the land of Syria. For there we find a river with a name that is similar to ChoBar, the Khabour (see Khabur River). Many Bible scholars now accept this as the site of that relocation and as the place where EzekiEl did his writing.

This place seems far more likely than inside the city of Babylon, for EzekiEl's prophecies were primarily against Judah and JeruSalem, and these messages were to be carried back there. However, this would have been difficult if EzekiEl did his prophesying and writing in Babylon itself, which was about a three-month journey away.

Christian

Some have commented on the fact that although this Bible translates the Greek word Christon (Christ) as Anointed One, we have left the words Christian and Antichrist unchanged. Why is this?

Under the Note, 'Who are God's Anointed?,' we pointed out that Christon means Anointed or Chosen One, and using the Anglicized corruption of the Greek word Christon doesn't really convey the proper meaning to most Bible readers today. This is why, rather than speaking of Jesus as the Christ, we have chosen to speak of him as the Anointed One, which is what the word 'Christ' really meant to First-Century Christians.

However, this isn't the case with the word Christian (which literally means Follower of the Anointed One), because nothing is commonly misunderstood about that term. Rendering it as 'Anointed One-ians,' or anything similar, would simply be confusing, since the word 'Christian' has been the name that is universally applied to Jesus' followers since the time of the Apostles, and it doesn't lead to a misunderstanding, as does the word Christ. This is also the reason why we have left the word Antichrist unchanged.

Please note that the purpose here is not to use obscure terms for consistency, but rather, to help readers understand the true meanings of the words that are used in the Bible.

For more information, see the linked document, 'Christians, Jews, and Moslems.'

Cosmos, Kosmos, Arrangement, or World?

In Jesus' discussion about the sheep and goats, as found at Matthew 25:34, he said: 'Then the king will tell those on his right, Come, you who've been praised by my Father; inherit the Kingdom that's been prepared for you from the founding of the world.'

In Greek, the words we have translated as founding of the world are katabole kosmou. You may recognize that the English word cosmos is a derivative of kosmou, as are also the words, cosmetics and cosmetology, and cosmos is the word that modern peoples usually use when referring to the universe. So notice that we could have also (correctly) translated it as, 'founding of the arrangement,' since arrangement is the closest English translation of the Greek word kosmos. For example, when Paul urged Christian women to dress modestly, he used the word kosmos to describe well-arranged clothing. However in other Bibles, kosmos is almost always translated as world, which is a bit misleading, because most English-speaking people often think that world means the same thing as the earth.

In the Hebrew texts of the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT), we don't find a word that is similar to 'kosmos.' Rather, we find the Hebrew word teŠvel used. And although that word is also translated into English as world; in the Greek Septuagint it was translated as oikoumene in every case, which refers to the habitation or home of mankind. So where oikoumene is used (as it is many times in the Christian Era Scriptures), the meaning is more similar to the earth.

Notice that although the Greek words kosmos and oikoumene don't mean the same things, both words are commonly translated as world in other Bibles… which can be very misleading. For where kosmos is always translated as world (as in the world of Noah, the light of the world, the field is the world, etc.), the result is often a misunderstanding of what was truly meant, because there are some fifteen definitions given to the word world in English dictionaries, and most don't carry the same meaning as the Greek word kosmos. So in many (but not all) places, world is a poor choice for translating it.

As an example: kosmos is often used in the Greek text to describe the arrangement or situation of human society in general, and at other times it is used to describe just the IsraElite or Jewish arrangement (not the whole world). So the terms system of things or arrangement are frequently the better and more accurate word choices when translating kosmos.

Notice how the word kosmos was used by Paul at Romans 5:12: 'Sin entered the arrangement (kosmos) through one man, and this sin resulted in death. So by this [one] sin, death was passed on to all men and they have all sinned.'

Here you can see that the arrangement Paul was talking about was the one that began with Adam. However, the Scriptures indicate that there was another arrangement or system of things, which began after the Downpour of Noah's day and which Noah inherited. For notice what we are told at Hebrews 11:7: 'It was because of [his] faith in a Divine Warning about things which were not yet seen that Noah was moved by fear to build a chest for the saving of his [family]. And through this righteous faith he condemned that arrangement and became its heir.'

Also notice what was said at 2 Peter 2:4, 5: 'God didn't spare the messengers who sinned, but threw them into the dark pits of Tartarus where they are awaiting His justice. And He didn't spare that first arrangement, but He guarded Noah (who was a preacher of righteousness) along with seven others, when He brought a downpour upon a world of godless people.'

So apparently there have been other arrangements:
1. The one that started before the Downpour with Adam, which Noah inherited
2. The new arrangement that started after the Downpour
3. Possibly a third arrangement that God created for His worship in JeruSalem through Moses
4. Possibly the (Christian) arrangement that began with the death of Jesus.

Therefore (from the above), we may conclude that what Jesus said about the Kingdom having been prepared for the sheep since the founding of the world could mean that the Kingdom was God's plan for the righteous since at least the time of Adam's sin in Paradise, or possibly since the time of the Downpour, or since the time that He established a system for His true worship in JeruSalem, or even since the coming and death of Jesus. For at Revelation 13:8 Jesus is referred to as, 'the one who had been slaughtered from the founding of the arrangement' (gr. esphagmenou apo kataboles kosmou or, who/was/slaughtered from foundation – or down-throw – kosmos). Therefore, we could be living in an entirely new world, arrangement, or system of things since the time of his death.

Cross or Pole?

The Greek word stauros simply means pole. So, regardless of popular tradition and doctrine, there is no mention of a pole with a cross piece (cross) in the original Bible text. Also, we have translated the Greek word staurotheto (which other Bibles render as crucified) as impaled (put on a pole or stake) here, because that's what it actually means.

Then, are we saying that Jesus didn't die on a cross? Not necessarily, for there is quite a bit of historical evidence to indicate that he did (see the link, 'Instrument of Jesus' crucifixion'). Yet, whether the Romans used an upright pole or one with a cross beam as a means of torture and execution is really unimportant. For it's only when people view such objects as something to which they would pray (and many do) that the act is condemned in the Bible as being idolatry. Rather, what should be held as sacred to Christians is the person who gave his life on our behalf, not the disgusting object of his execution.

Crowns, Garlands, Turbans, and Diadems

In the Bible we read of two different types of royal headgear that was worn by Kings… crowns (gr. stephanos) and turbans (gr. diademas). Which did the kings of IsraEl, such as David and Solomon, wear?

A study of history shows that most kings wore some sort of hat on official occasions, which varied by time and by country. However, in ancient IsraEl and in other middle-eastern countries, the common headgear for kings was a turban that was set with gold and jewels. And this remained the custom throughout the history of the Jews, because crowns with points were generally thought of by the faithful as representing the rays of the sun (an idol), since gold crowns with points were worn as 'haloes' by pagan kings to indicate their sign of appointment by (the Sun) God.

The first Bible reference to a gold crown being worn by a king is found at 2 Samuel 12:30, where David took one from the head of the Ammonite king of RabBath, named Malchom. And although the account tells us that he then placed it on his own head, it doesn't appear as though wearing such a thing was the custom of kings of IsraEl thereafter, for the placing of Malchom's crown on his head seems to represent David's victory, not his envy of the pagan king's headgear.

Notice that at Revelation 12:3, the Dragon is depicted as having seven heads and ten horns, and on each of its heads was what is often rendered in other Bibles as diadems, and which most religious pictures portray as gold crowns. However, these should actually be depicted as turbans, because the Greek word used there is dia-dema (through wraps or turbans), not stephanos (crowns).

Also notice that the Greek word 'stephanos' doesn't always mean a gold crown. For if you look up the dictionary meaning for stephanos, you'll see that it could also describe a victory wreath… and this is how we have rendered the word in most cases. For the Bible uses the word 'stephanos' more often as a sign of victory than of kingship. And if you understand that, it gives us a better understanding of the true meanings of these verses:
Š 1 Corinthians 9:25, 'And every fighter has to maintain full control just to win a garland that rots away.'
Š Philippians 4:1, 'So my brothers who are loved and longed for (my joy and my victory garland); keep standing just as you are in the Lord, O loved ones!'
Š 1 Peter 5:4, 'Then, when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you'll walk away with the enduring garland of glory!'

David Dancing Naked

The account at 2 Samuel 6:14 well illustrates the reason why we have come to trust the Greek text over the Hebrew text. For in the Septuagint, King David is described as wearing a fine robe (στολην εξαλλον) while he danced in the parade leading God's Sacred Chest into JeruSalem for the first time, whereas the Hebrew text says he was wearing just a linen ephod (vest). So when his wife Michal accused him of exposing himself while he danced, the conclusion that the Hebrew text implies is that he celebrated bringing Jehovah's Chest to JeruSalem by dancing naked from the waist down, which doesn't sound appropriate or likely. Rather, the Greek text shows that he was fully covered in fine clothes, and Michal's accusation was probably the hyperbole of a disgusted wife who didn't think that her husband was behaving as her father Saul would have done.

So did David actually expose his sexual parts? Well, apparently the ancient IsraElites wore no underpants beneath their robes, therefore lively dancing could theoretically have exposed his under parts. But the rest of Michal's and David's words seem to indicate that she was more concerned by his dancing wildly and joyfully than with the idea that he had truly exposed himself.

Day

How long are God’s ‘days?’ Some say that they consist of 24 earth hours, or one rotation of our planet (see Genesis 1:31 for example), while others say they are 1,000 years long (from the words of Peter at 2 Peter 3:8), and yet others claim that they are 7,000 years long. Is any of this true?

Twenty-four Hours? Religious Christians who call themselves ‘Fundamentalists’ say that God created the heavens and the earth in seven earth days (168 hours). For they claim that the Bible was being literal when describing each of the ‘days’ of creation in the First Chapter of Genesis. However, when we read at Genesis 2:4 that God created the heavens and the earth in a day (heb. בְּי֗וֹם) rather than 6 individual days, it is usually assumed that the word ‘day’ was used figuratively, meaning a period of time. Therefore, while we will agree that the dating methods used by modern archeologists aren’t always trustworthy, it does seem as though the arguments of such fundamentalists are at best a bit inconsistent and out of line with common sense.

One Thousand Years Long? In Greek, 2 Peter 3:8 reads literally, ‘One moreover thing not let/be/hidden/from you beloved, that one day with/the Lord/is LIKE (gr. hos) a/thousand years and a/thousand years/is LIKE day one.’ So you can see that Peter wasn’t say that God’s days are 1,000 years long, he was simply saying that time isn’t relevant when speaking of God. Rather, the fact that we can see light coming from stars that are millions of trillions of miles away proves that our universe has been around much longer than just a few thousand years, since the light coming from these stars (traveling at 186,000 miles per second) would not be visible to us here on the earth yet if they were something so relatively new.

Seven Thousand Years Long? Back in the late 1800s, some ‘Adventist’ theologians decided that each of the creative ‘days’ of Genesis Chapter One had to be 7,000 years long. And according to their assumptions and calculations, it had been almost 42,000 years since the beginning of all creation; so they taught that God's sixth creative day was about to end and Jesus' 1000-year reign (as mentioned in the Revelation) was about to begin. However, nothing happened back then. Why not? Because their theory appears to have been based on errors in the Masoretic (Hebrew) Bible text and other wrong assumptions that have since been disproven by science.

So, how long is a ‘day?’ As Peter said, time is irrelevant to God, since He lives beyond time and space. Therefore, perhaps a day to Him is just a period of His choosing.

Day and Hour

Many people have said that it is futile to try to determine when 'the Day of the Lord' will arrive because of what Jesus said as recorded at Matthew 24:36: 'No one knows the day and hour – no, not the messengers of heaven or the Son, but only the Father.' Yet, notice what Paul wrote at 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 4: 'And whenever they're saying 'Peace and security;' destruction will come upon them instantly like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they won't escape. Therefore brothers; since you aren’t in the dark, don't let that Day [sneak up] on you like a thief. '

So from Paul's words, we can conclude that although the 'day and hour' wasn't known when Jesus was on the earth, world conditions and specifically a world-wide cry of 'peace and security' will give true Christians clear indications of an impending end to this age, so that those who are awake won't be surprised at its coming.

Day of the Lord

Throughout the Bible we find references to 'the Day of Jehovah,' and 'the Day of the Lord' (Jesus). Are both of these references speaking of the same period?

There appears to be no conflict; in fact, it could be that the wording in each case should always read, 'Day of the Lord,' since we question whether the Divine Name was originally ever used when speaking prophetically of this event. However, even if both God and 'the Lord' are spoken of in connection with this day, there is still no conflict. For notice what we are told in the Revelation, when it is speaking of the beginning of that Day (at Revelation 12:10):

'Now has come the salvation and the power,
As well as the Kingdom of our God;
For His Anointed has now been empowered,
And the accuser of our brothers has been cast down,
Who blames them before God day and night!'

As you can see, the purposes of that Day are tied together. For the establishment of God's Kingdom (with the battle in heaven and the ouster of the Opposer and his messengers) and the empowering of Jesus (the Lord) to begin his rule, appear to be simultaneous.

So, will the things spoken of in the Revelation happen before 'the Lord's Day' begins? No, for notice that the book starts out with the words (at Revelation 1:10), 'Through the Breath [of God] I found myself in the Lord's Day.' Therefore, we must assume that all the things mentioned in the Revelation will happen DURING the Lord's Day.

Then, what are some of the things to look for that will lead up to that Day? Well, one of the first signs mentioned is the ouster of the Opposer and his messengers from heaven (see Revelation 12). This is followed by the destruction of 'The Great Babylon' (See Revelation 17, 18). Then in rapid succession comes the wedding reception of the Lamb, the Battle of Armageddon, and the resurrections (see Revelation 19, 20). And at the end of the Lord's Day, we read that the Opposer will be released from the abyss for a short time, which leads to the battle against Gog of Magog … and this is followed by the descent of 'New JeruSalem' to the earth and the making of the 'new land and new sky' (see Revelation 21).

Dedicated to Destruction

Notice that at Leviticus 27:28, 29, God gave these instructions to Moses: 'Anything a man has that he chooses to curse before Jehovah, whether it's a man, an animal, or a field that he owns; it may never be sold or taken back. Everything that is cursed for destruction becomes very holy to Jehovah. And whoever is cursed from among mankind must not be ransomed, but must surely be put to death.'

Notice that this law is talking about the cursing of vile people or nations, and God was saying that when such a vow is made, the person who makes the vow must surely complete it by destroying the things and/or or the people whom they cursed.

An example of the outworking of such an oath can be found at Numbers 21:2, 3, where the IsraElites swore an oath to God to dedicate a particular group of CanaAnites, as well as their cities, to Him, if He would give them the victory. The account says: 'That was when IsraEl swore a vow to Jehovah, saying, If you will hand them over to us, we will dedicate them and their cities to You. So Jehovah listened to the voices of [the people of] IsraEl and gave the Canaanites into their hands; then they [totally destroyed] them and their cities. And they started calling that place The Cursed.'

Understand that vowing to curse someone or something is an extremely serious matter in the eyes of God, for when such a vow is made, the person doing the cursing becomes obligated to God to carry out the curse. And we find the results of making such a curse too quickly in the heat of a fight or argument discussed in Leviticus 24:11-25, where one man swore a curse in God's name against another and was thereafter stoned to death for his foolish vow, for it was a vow of murder.

At Acts 23:12 we find another such case of a foolishly made vow to God, where a group of Jews swore not to eat until they had murdered Paul (the Apostle). Here, once again, they were unable to complete the unrighteous vow, bringing God's condemnation upon them. And the thing that we learn from the law and from the results of such cursing (when we ask God to damn someone), is that we may be bringing such damnation upon ourselves.

Demonized Man

In the account found at Luke 8:26-39, Jesus encountered a man who was possessed by many demons, which he cast out of him and sent into a nearby herd of pigs. Then as Jesus was leaving, the man asked Jesus if he could come with him (become one of Jesus' disciples). However, Jesus told him no, and to just return to his town and tell the people what had happened. These actions of Jesus may seem strange, because he had never declined an offer for someone to become a disciple, nor did he want people spreading the news about his miracles. So why did he react so differently in this case?

Well, notice that this land was outside the borders of IsraEl in a Greek settlement called the DecaPolis (Ten Cities), near one city that may have been called Geras (since it was called the land of the Gerasenes). Therefore, the man was likely a gentile who lived in a gentile land (notice that they were herders of pigs, which were unclean animals to the Jews). And since Jesus' commission from God was to go just to the Jews and the related Samaritans, this gentile would have been an inappropriate disciple in the land of IsraEl.

Demons

One of the strange results of the common belief that our 'souls' or 'spirits' leave our bodies when we die, is that it leads people to believe we are surrounded by spirits of the dead who can haunt and harm us. For the airwaves are filled with TV programs that tell us of unnatural occurrences that are attributed to the spirits of those who have died. Yet any study of ancient religions shows that such beliefs come more from pagan traditions and the religion of ancient Egypt than from the Bible, from the ancient patriarchs, or from Jesus and his disciples. For throughout the Bible we read instead of 'demons' being the true source of such unearthly things.

So are there really demons? Yes, for the Bible tells us (at Deuteronomy 32:16, 17):
'With strange gods, they enraged Me,
And with loathsome things, made Me angry.
For to unknown demons, they offered sacrifices,
And not to the God [of all] gods.'

Psalm 96:55:
'For the gods of the nations are demons,
But Jehovah created the skies.'

Psalm 106:35-38:
'They mixed with the nations and learned of their ways,
And served their idols to offend Him.
They offered their sons and daughters to demons…
They poured out innocent blood…
The blood of their own sons and daughters.
To CanaAn's carvings they sacrificed them,
And polluted the land with murder and blood.'

Isaiah 65:3:
'They stand there before Me and just make Me mad…
For they sacrifice in their gardens,
And burn incense on bricks before demons.'

Matthew 12:24: 'But on hearing that, the Pharisees said, He's throwing out demons by [the power of] BeElZebub, the ruler of the demons!'

Luke 5:41: 'Demons also came out of many of them, shouting, You're the Son of God!'

Luke 8:30: 'So Jesus asked him: What is your name?
And he replied, Legion (because many demons had entered him).'

1 Corinthians 10:20: 'I'm telling you that the things the nations offer as sacrifices are being offered to the demons, not to God… and I don't want you to become sharers with the demons!'

1 Timothy 4:1: 'However, the Spirit definitely says that some will leave the faith in the future and pay attention to wicked spirits and the teachings of demons.'

So yes, demons are real. But where did they come from?

Genesis 6:1, 2: 'Now, as the population of men grew on the earth and they fathered daughters, the sons of God noticed that the daughters of men were beautiful; so they took all whom they chose as their women. (Notice that these were 'sons of God,' but the women were 'daughters of men.')

2 Peter 2:4, 5: 'God didn't spare the messengers (angels) who sinned, but threw them into the dark pits of Tartarus, where they are awaiting His justice… and He didn't spare the first arrangement. Yet He guarded Noah (who was a preacher of righteousness) along with seven others, when He brought a downpour upon a world of godless people.'

So according to the Bible, demons are in fact 'extraterrestrial life forms' that were created by God (making them His sons) who have chosen a rebellious course of life and have been locked away here on the earth, where they desire to do bad things and to be worshiped. Therefore, it appears as though these 'sons of God' came to earth and assumed human bodies in Noah's day. However, because they couldn't be destroyed by the downpour (flood) and they had forsaken heaven, they were apparently put into a prison-like state here on the earth, where they are no longer able to roam.

Demon is a Greek word that seems to be derived from dia-meno, which means fixed in one place. From other Bible accounts about demons, it appears as though this 'fixing in one place' means that they must be associated with either living or non-living things, which is referred to as 'possession.' These are likely the same ones that are referred to in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and in the Revelation, as 'chained demons.'

However, there also appear to be other demons that are not chained or fixed in one place. These, as well as the 'chained demons,' are mentioned at Isaiah 34:12-14.

At Acts 17:18, it is recorded that the Epicureans and Stoic Philosophers of Greece asked about Paul's teaching 'a foreign demon.' And although most translations render his words as 'foreign god,' they truly said 'demon' (gr. daimonion). This is also true of Paul's reply found at Acts 17:22: 'Men of Athens; I see that you have a greater fear of the demons than do others.'

The reason why this term was used is obvious: The many pagan idols and Gods of Athens, although made of metal and stone, had the backing of demons. And the people recognized the power that was given to these lifeless objects through 'possession' by their gods.

So understand that there are no such things as the spirits of dead humans that haunt the earth. The Bible tells us at Ecclesiastes 9:5: 'For the living know that they'll die, but the dead know nothing at all, nor do they have a reward, since the memory of them is forgotten.'

Did Aaron Personally Make the Gold Calf?

Although the Bible text that talks about the making of the gold calf in the desert seems to indicate that this was the personal handiwork of Aaron, the next verse implies that he had likely authorized someone else (skilled craftsmen) to do the actual work, because he didn't build an Altar to it until after he saw the idol. So the reason why he was spoken of as 'making' the calf, was because he was responsible for building it, and that's why we have rendered these texts as we have… to clarify that point. He likely didn't have the necessary craftsmanship skills to do the work.

Also notice that the calf was supposed to represent Jehovah; so the people didn't really think of themselves as worshiping another god. They just wanted something they could SEE to worship, like the gods they could see in Egypt… 'memory aids.' And since a calf was often the first (and most valuable) sacrifice offered, this might have been the reason for its being carved into that shape. However, remember that God had already forbidden making or using idols, and that's why He was so displeased. They shouldn't have needed anything to see as proof that He was there, because of all the miracles that they had been witnessing (like coming through the Red Sea)!

Why wasn't Aaron held more to blame for his part in building the idol? Apparently God still saw some good in Aaron. Remember that the previous few Chapters told of what God was saying to Moses while he was on the mountain… and though He knew what was going on down below, God still spoke of the honor that was to be shown to Aaron and his sons.

This situation may be very difficult for many to understand, because of the knowledge that we have accumulated about God down to this day. However, what most people don't realize is how rudimentary the knowledge and ideas about God were at the time… even for Aaron. For until they had been delivered from Egypt, there had been little contact with God for four-hundred years! So the proper ways of serving God had been forgotten. And as the result, God had to start from scratch in building and shaping a nation of worshipers… and they had to be taught some very hard lessons along the way, which often resulted in deaths, because people had to understand that this was a life-and-death matter.

Notice too that when Moses asked, 'Who is on Jehovah's side?,' and he assembled a small army to slaughter the unfaithful; 'the Sons of Levi' (which likely included Aaron and his family) came to Moses and took their stand for Jehovah as their God.

Did an Angel Want to Kill Moses?

The words of Exodus 4:24 have long been a source of concern to most Bible students, because what is said in both the Hebrew and Greek texts is that an angel wanted to kill 'him' at an inn. And since the person mentioned in the preceding verse was Moses, we could logically conclude that he was the person whom the angel was planning to kill. Of course, this scenario is illogical, because God had just commissioned Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that His people be set free. So, why would a messenger from God try to thwart God's plans?

The fact that a specific person isn't mentioned in this text allows that the 'him' spoken of here, wasn't Moses. Frequently, the Bible uses personal pronouns such as 'him' without disclosing which person is meant. And that's why you will often find names in brackets [ ] in this Bible… to clarify the name of the individual who is being spoken of by the use of a personal pronoun.

Note in this case, that the person who was spoken of in the following paragraph (in connection with this event) is Moses' son. For there we read that his mother apparently saved his life by circumcising him on the spot. Why was this important? Because God's instructions to AbraHam were that every Hebrew male was to be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. And since this obviously hadn't been done to Moses' son, he by law was to be put to death (see Genesis 17:14).

So the 'him' that was in danger of being killed by God's messenger was Moses' son, since God's Law had been violated by his not being circumcised.

Why hadn't Moses circumcised his son? We don't know, but the fact that his mother circumcised him likely indicates that she was the one to blame… and she knew it. Remember that her father is described as being 'the priest of Midian.' Thus he could have been a priest to a pagan god. And if so, this may have been the reason why she opposed the circumcision of her son.

Did God Create Evil?

According to the Authorized King James Bible, Isaiah 45:7 should be translated as saying, 'I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil.' And this is where some get the idea that men have no choice in their destiny. For if evil comes from God, then He predestines the outcome of everything and we are what we are because it's His Will.

But was God really saying that He is responsible for all that is evil? You don't get that impression if you understand ancient Hebrew Poetry, which is what this is. For in classic Hebrew poetry, one statement is made, which is thereafter mirrored in the statement that follows. And in this case, note that the second statement doesn't seem to follow the first, as it is translated it in English. For the first part of the statement makes the contrast between light and darkness, while the second seems to speak of two things that are not thought of as opposites, peace and evil. So, something seems to have been lost either in the copying or in the translating of this section of the verse.

What word is the antonym peace (gr. eirenen)? Most would say it is war. But is war the only thing that takes away peace? No, we're sure you would agree that anything that is bad and/or unsettling removes peace from our lives. And this is what we believe is the point of this verse. For the Greek word that is translated as evil (gr. kaka) here doesn't necessarily mean something that is done for bad reasons. Rather, we (and other translators) have consistently translated it as bad.

But does this really make a difference, for isn't God still saying that He's responsible for all that is bad (or evil)? No, what He's saying is that whenever He creates something, this also brings the opposite into existences… it's the natural law of action and reaction. Take for example the first part of the verse, 'I prepared light and I made the darkness.' Understand that there was no darkness (absence of light) before God created light. Nor was there cold (the absence of heat) before He created heat, and there was no silence before He created sound. So when He created peace, He also created the absence of peace, for one can't exist without the other, since there would be no frame of reference by which we could measure the absence of something before it exists.

Dip or Sop of the Last Supper

The Bible tells us that Jesus and his Apostles ate fermentation-free bread during his Last Supper, and that they dipped the bread into something that was in a bowl (or bowels) that ancient Bibles referred to as a sop. Exactly what was this sop… was it a gravy?

Actually, it was likely a mixture of olive oil, herbs, and salt, which has been a favorite dipping sauce for bread through countless generations (try it sometime, if you are unfamiliar with it). We know that it likely wasn't gravy or meat sauce, because the lamb was to be sacrificed and eaten on the following night (see the link, The Passover and the Lord's Evening Meal), and meat wasn't normally eaten with every meal in ancient times. However, the Bible does tell us that part of the Passover celebration involved the eating of bitter herbs and bread, and surely salt and olive oil were used to add flavor and to soften the bread.

Disgusting Destroyer

History shows us that 'the disgusting destroyer' (gr. bdelugma tes eremoseos) of which Jesus spoke at Matthew 24:15, and which was prophesied earlier in the book of Daniel, proved to be the armies of Rome (with their pagan standards or flags) when they camped around JeruSalem's walls in the year 66-CE. For according to EuSebius, Christians in the city recognized this series of events to be the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy found at Luke 21:21 that foretold JeruSalem's destruction, and they heeded the warning to flee from the city when they saw these things happening. Then about 3-1/2 years later, in the year 70-CE, 'all these things' ended when the Romans returned and totally destroyed JeruSalem, its Temple, and its priesthood.

Dogs

The first mention of dogs as human companions in the Bible is found at Exodus 11:7, where Moses was promised that in Egypt 'not even a dog will snarl at a man or an animal.' So we must conclude that dogs were kept as companions among them, since they were likely used to herd their cattle.

The next mention of dogs in the Bible is when God was giving the IsraElites commandments as to what they could and couldn't eat. We find this at Exodus 22:31, which says: 'And you must be holy [people] to Me, so you must not eat the flesh of wild animals. Rather, you should throw it to the dogs.' So we know from this account that dogs also traveled with the Hebrews into the desert during their forty-year trek into the Promised Land.

According to historians, people who lived in Canaan (such as the IsraElites) were possibly the first to domesticate wolves as dogs and keep them as pets or working animals; for the Latin name for dogs, canis, appears to have come from the term Canaan (referring to the land, not necessarily to the race).

Downpour

The Greek word that is used throughout the Bible to describe the great flood of Noah's Day is cataclysmos (it's where we get the English word cataclysm). However, cataclysmos doesn't mean flood. Cata means down and clysmos means pour. So the word is correctly translated as Downpour herein.

Dragon

That the Bible speaks about what is translated as dragons several times, raises some interesting questions, for the dragon (although supposedly a mythical animal) is one of the world's most widely recognized creatures. It is highly regarded in the Buddhist religion and is seen in ancient religious carvings from around the world. This testifies that people have believed in the existence of dragons for as far back as human records go. Why?

Note that dragons are thought of as animals with the bodies of snakes (gr. orphis), but they also have feet and legs. However, the many ways that the Greek term dragon (gr. drakonta) and its apparent Hebrew counterparts (leviathan or behemoth) are used in the Bible seem to indicate that it could describe any sort of fearsome wild beast.

What was the original dragon? It's an interesting fact that the answer to this question would still be open to debate were it not for the explanation that we find at Revelation 12:9, which tells us: 'So the huge dragon was thrown out. He is the first snake, the one who is called the Slanderer and Opposer, who is misleading the whole earth.' As you can see, this last book in the Bible clarifies the mystery of who the original 'snake' or 'dragon' that seduced Eve in the 'Paradise of Delights' (see Genesis 3:2) really was.

That the dragon is viewed as a snake with legs in religious legends throughout the world, testifies to the fact that people everywhere once believed in the Bible account in Genesis, and they also believed that when God cursed the snake to 'travel on its chest and belly,' it lost its legs.

It is interesting that dragons are also part of the folklore of Europe, for who hasn't heard the story of St. George and the Dragon? Yet if you read that story, you'll see that it is actually an allegory about man's fight against sin and the Slanderer. So in that case, it refers to the original dragon, who was the first creature of terror.

Notice that faithful Job once asked God (at Job 7:12): 'Am I the sea or the dragon that guards it?' This view that a dragon guarded the edges of the seas was common throughout Europe until after the Fifteenth Century, for dragons were usually drawn at the edges of maps of seas during that time. However, the word may also have implied any animal that men feared and didn't understand (a fearsome beast).

Yet, notice how vividly the book of Job describes the Slanderer as being the dragon at Job 26:12, 13, where it tells us this concerning God:
'By His might, He settled the seas in their beds,
And in wisdom, He's filled them with whales.
The bolts from the skies stand in awe,
And He's ordered the death of the dragon that rebelled.'

Also notice that there is an entire Chapter in Job (Chapter 41) that is obviously a description of the evil one, but its meaning has been misunderstood by copyists, translators, and commentators alike due to the language differences. For Hebrew-based Bibles speak of a leviathan or a behemoth here, and some use the word crocodile. However, in the Septuagint we find no name at all or any explanation, which has left the readers to guess about what was being described. Yet if you read Job 41:18-21, you'll see that this is an obvious reference to a fire-breathing dragon:
'His sneezing brings about brightness,
And his eyes are like morning stars.
From out of his mouth comes burning lamps,
Like the scattered coals of a fire.
From his nostrils comes the smoke of a furnace,
Burning with the fire of live coals.
For his soul is much like live coals,
And flames shoot out of his mouth.'

Then notice the further description in verses 31, 32:
'He breaks from the abyss as though a brass pot;
He thinks of the seas as his own ointment jar,
And the abyss of Tartarus as his captive.
For to him, the abyss is just a promenade.
There's nothing on earth that's quite like him;
For he was made to be mocked by My angels.'

So, what is God talking about here? Well, some Bible critics dismiss this account as Bible mythology, while others say He was describing a wild ox. However, if you'll examine these verses carefully, you'll see that God was using cryptic text to explain to Job just who was to blame for the problems he had been experiencing. The word Tartarus (the place where evil gods are sent) provides us a clue to this, since the term isn't found again in the Bible until the reference at 2 Peter 2:4; and the only mention of his coming out of his prison (pit or abyss) is found at Revelation 20:7.

So this second-to-the-last Chapter in Job, as in any good writing, is bringing back all the characters that the book started out with in the first chapter.

Then, why did Jewish scribes and translators have so much trouble understanding the meaning of the words here that there are some obvious deletions in the texts? There are four likely reasons:
Š They didn't believe in fire-breathing dragons
Š They didn't know that the Slanderer was the dragon
Š They didn't know of the Slanderer's position in Tartarus or the pit
Š A correct understanding would have linked the Book of Job to the above Scriptures that were written later by Christians.

It is interesting that we again find mention of a dragon at Isaiah 27:1, where we read:
'In that day, He'll bring His great holy sword,
Against the dragon (the crooked fleeing snake),
And He'll destroy that beast of the sea
.'

Notice that this is an obvious reference to the destruction of the same dragon mentioned at Revelation 12:9. However this link generally goes unnoticed, because the Hebrew-based texts use the word leviathan. And we only come to realize that dragon is the Greek word for leviathan if we compare the Greek Septuagint text to the Masoretic text, which most modern scholars refuse to do.

What is particularly interesting about this scripture is that it speaks of the dragon from the sea in the same words as are found at Ezekiel 32:2, where the reference is obviously to the land of Egypt and to its destruction. And you will also find references to the land of Egypt in the song that follows (found in Isaiah Chapters 26 and 27). However, notice that this song seems to speak of some future time when God's people (IsraEl) are released from a symbolic Egypt at Armageddon; for notice the rest of the words of the prophecy (Isaiah 26:19-21), which say:

'We will not fall, though others will fall,
But the dead will be raised from their tombs.
Then all on the earth will be joyful,
For as dew, You'll send them a cure,
While the lands of the godless will fall.

'Proceed, O my people, to enter your bedrooms…
Go inside and lock all your doors,
Then hide in there for a while!
Because this will happen, then that;
And the rage of Jehovah will pass.

'{Look!} From His Holy Place, Jehovah sends rage,
Upon those who live in the land.
Then the ground won't cover all of the blood,
Nor [the bodies] of those He destroys.'

So, Egypt seems to be used here as a symbol of the godless nations that are destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16), and the dragon that represents them appears to be the Opposer (Devil or Satan).

Dragon's Messengers

At Revelation 12:9 we read: 'He (the dragon) was thrown down to the earth along with his messengers. In Greek, the word that we've translated as messengers is aggeloi (angels). So God and Jesus have their 'messengers,' and the 'Dragon' has his. How many? Revelation 12:4 says that 'he drags a third of the stars of heaven.' So it looks like the dragon has great (but limited) success there.

Are these messengers 'demons?' No, for demon (gr. diameno) appears to mean fixed in one place, which describes the 'sons of God' who came to earth and assumed human bodies in Noah's day. Because they had forsaken heaven, they were put into a prison-like state here on the earth during and after the (Great) Downpour. From other Bible accounts about demons, it appears as though this 'fixing in one place' means that they must be associated with either living or non-living things, which is referred to as 'possession.' These appear to be the same ones that are referred to in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and in the Revelation, as 'chained demons.'

However, there also appear to be other demons that are not chained or fixed in one place. These, as well as the 'chained demons,' are mentioned at Isaiah 34:12-14. Notice, for example, that the 'messengers' in John's vision still appear to have access to the heavens until they lose the battle there in 'the Lord's Day.' At that time, they are thrown to the earth, but there is no indication that they become fixed to objects or people. So this may be the reason why the Revelation refers to them as 'messengers,' not as demons.

Why would 'a third' of God's heavenly messengers choose to follow the dragon in rebellion? While the Bible deals with the extent of the earthly rebellion against God, one can only imagine the full extent of the heavenly rebellion.

A glimpse into the type of offer that the Slanderer might have made to seduce them into following him can be seen by the offer that he made to Jesus after his 40-day stay in the desert after his baptism. Luke 4:6 tells us: 'Then the Slanderer said: I'll give you power over all of these and the glory of them, because they have been given to me and I can give them to whomever I wish.'

So the Slanderer has power over all the governments of the world, as the above statement shows (also see Revelation 13:7). And offering heavenly messengers their own worldly governments, empires, and religions (worshipers) may well be the enticing lure.

Earning a Living from Religion

At 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul wrote: 'We aren't like others who are peddlers of the word of God (gr. kapeleuontes ton logon tou Theou). Rather, we speak sincerely through the Anointed One.'

Obviously, Paul is making the assertion here that he didn't believe in making a comfortable living by preaching God's Word. In fact, Paul boasted of his working as a tent maker, so he could provide God's Word without cost to the congregations. And as he says here, he often did without, simply because he refused to ask for help. However, it must be admitted that on other occasions, Paul spoke of his 'authority' to be supported in his preaching… proving that receiving such material support isn't necessarily wrong.

But let us examine why Paul chose not to depend on others to support him in his service to God. Notice his reasoning: 'Rather, we speak sincerely through the Anointed One.' And the obvious problem with trying to teach those who pay us to do so, is this matter of sincerity. For if one's livelihood depends on the goodwill of his/her listeners, there may be a reluctance to say what needs to be said.

Eating Jesus' Flesh and Drinking His Blood

At Jesus' 'Last Supper,' which fell on the first day of the Jewish celebration of the Passover, he instituted a ritual that he told his Apostles to continue to do in memory of him and of his death. At Luke 22:19, 20, we read: 'Then he took a loaf [of bread], gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is my body, which is being handed over for you. Keep doing this in memory of me. And he did the same thing with the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Sacred Agreement of my blood, which is being poured out for you.'

So, following Jesus' instructions, partaking of Jesus' 'flesh and blood' symbolizes that those who do so are expressing their desire to become part of him, or as the scriptures literally read, to be 'in' him. And as the ancient IsraElites celebrated the Passover by sacrificing and eating a lamb every spring to indicate that they were be party to their 'Sacred Agreement' with God, Christians who partake of the bread (which he said was his body) and the wine (which he said was his blood) are expressing their desire to be party to the 'New Sacred Agreement' that was inaugurated by Jesus just before his death.

And speaking ahead of time concerning this coming event, Jesus said to a large crowd of followers (at John 6:53-56), 'I tell you the truth; if you don't eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you won't have life in yourselves. For those who chew my flesh and drink my blood will have age-long life… because I will resurrect them on the Last Day. Since my flesh is truly food and my blood is truly drink, those who chew on my flesh and drink my blood will remain in me, and I in them.'

It isn't surprising that these words of Jesus were considered disgusting to most of the Jews to whom he was speaking, for their dietary regulations (from the Law) forbade drinking any blood or eating unclean (human?) flesh. As the result, many of Jesus' disciples stopped following him at that time. So surely Jesus said this to test and cull out those who believed in his miracles, but wouldn't understand his death and resurrection. However, Jesus' Apostles stayed, because as Peter said (in verses 68, 69), 'Lord, to whom else should we turn? You're the one who speaks the words [that lead to] age-long life… for we've known and believed that you're the Holy One of The God!''

Then, after sundown on Nisan 14 of the Jewish calendar – which was the start of the day on which he would be put to death – Jesus became the symbolic Passover Lamb for Christians. For, this was the evening that he chose to inaugurate God's New Sacred Agreement with his Apostles using the emblems of the Passover, a loaf of unfermented bread and a glass of wine (which symbolize the flesh and blood that he was to lay down on the following afternoon of that same day). Then his blood was shed at the same time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered, on the following afternoon, so that they could be eaten on the evening of the next day, Nisan 15 (for more information, see the linked document, 'The Passover and the Lord's Evening Meal').

Of course, as you can see, the modern religious custom of remembering Jesus' death by putting palm ash on the foreheads of Christians on 'Good Friday,' and celebrating his resurrection on 'Easter Sunday' (named after the ancient pagan Goddess Ishtar) doesn't come close to the symbolic times or methods that Jesus chose for remembering his death as a human. And why is all of this so important? As Jesus said, 'If you don't eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you won't have life in yourselves.' For more information, see the linked document, 'The New Covenant.'

Eating Meat

Understand that the following words are not written to discourage the eating of meat, this is just a discussion of the words of the texts.

It would be foolish to attempt to draw conclusions as to whether animals killed and ate meat before the time of Adam. If they did, that apparently wasn't God's purpose thereafter; because, notice what He said, as recorded at Genesis 1:30: '[I have given] greenish-yellow plants as food to all the earth's wild animals, all the winged creatures of the sky, and all the slithering animals that crawl on the ground and have life's breath.'

Then with the commission that was given to Adam (at Genesis 1:28), the state of all animals was to change; for notice what God told him: 'Rule over the fish of the seas, the winged creatures of the skies, all the herding animals of the ground, all the slithering animals that crawl on the ground, and the whole earth.'

Thus, man was given total responsibility over all the animals and the whole earth. And God's instructions (that animals were just to eat vegetation) may have been what Adam and his descendants were to enforce as part of their responsibility of rulership. However, this perfect purpose ended (at least for the time being) with his rebellion in the Paradise.

Notice that from the start, men were also just to eat just vegetation. For at Genesis 1:29 it is recorded that God said: 'Look, I have given you all the seed-bearing plants for planting that are on the entire earth, as well as all the seed-bearing trees for planting, as your food.' He also told Adam at Genesis 3:18: 'Briars and thistles will grow for you, and your food will be the grasses in the fields. So the texts appear to indicate that men were to be vegetarians.

We don't know for sure what men actually did prior to the downpour… but they likely did eat animals after they were expelled from the paradise. The fact that Abel was a herder of animals would suggest this, for remember that Cain was the gardener while Abel was the herdsman. Therefore, we must assume that the practice of eating animals was not condemned by God.

Then after the Downpour, God's instructions to men clearly changed from what He had said in His instructions to Adam in the Garden, likely in recognition of what men were actually doing. For from that point on, He said that men could eat any sort of animal. However, notice that men seem to have already drawn some line for themselves as to which animals were clean for food and which were unclean (inedible), since God's instructions to Noah about the types of animals that were to be brought into the Chest mentioned both types, the 'clean' (such as cattle) and the 'unclean,' all of which was probably based on each animal's diet and habits. And thereafter, only the IsraElites were given the dietary restrictions to eat just 'clean' animals in their Law that came some 1700 years later.

That this arrangement of eating animals didn't really please God, appears to be indicated by the tone of His words to Noah when He told him that men could eat the animals. Notice what He said at Genesis 9:3: 'All living and slithering animals may serve as meat for you. I've given them all to you as though they were green vegetation.'

There was just one restriction that God gave when it came to eating meat (something that is commonly disregarded by many people today): They were not to eat the blood, which God indicated is the source of the animal's life. Pouring the animal's lifeblood out (as a symbolic sacrifice) seems to indicate that the permission for men to eat animals was something temporary, and pouring out the blood is our way of acknowledging the sacredness of all life.

But what about God's requirements to offer animal sacrifices to Him on a daily basis in IsraEl? Doesn't this prove that God approves of the slaughtering of animals? Well, it appears as though even this was man's idea, and that God simply allowed it to happen. For notice what God Himself said concerning this at JeremiAh 7:21-23:

'Gather your whole burnt-offerings,
Along with your other sacrifices,
And then go ahead and eat all the meats!
For, I didn't tell your fathers to do this,
Nor did I give such instructions to them
On the day that I led them from Egypt's land,
[To bring] whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

The only instructions I gave them,
Is to pay attention to My voice!
[I said]: You'll be My people and I'll be your God,
As long as you walk in My ways,
And do whatever I tell you is good!
'

So although the Old Law did require the sacrifices of living animals; in view of what God said as quoted above, we would have to assume that such instructions were given to the IsraElites as a concession to their views as to how they chose to worship God.

Eating with Unwashed Hands

At Matthew 15:2, we read of how Jesus' Apostles (and likely Jesus himself) hadn't washed their hands before eating (as was the Judaic custom), and the Pharisees were objecting to this. But what is it that they were really objecting to?

It has often been preached that the Pharisees were complaining that they hadn't performed a 'ritual washing' (to the elbows). Yet the words in the parallel account at Mark 7:2 clearly show this isn't what the Pharisees had accused them of. Notice how this verse reads: 'Kai idontes tinas ton matheton autou hoti koinais chersin taut estin aniptois esthiousin tous artous,' or, and having/seen some of disciples of/him as/great with/unclean hands this being unwashed eating the bread.'

Note that their hands were described as being 'koinais' (meaning 'unclean' or 'dirty), and as 'aniptois' (unwashed). So their hands were simply dirty and unwashed, and there is no indication that some sort of 'ritual washing' is what the Pharisees were talking about.

The fact is; the people of the southern Province of Judea believed in washing their hands vigorously (scrubbing) before eating a meal. And yes, it was a religious thing, which was based on the rabbinic teaching that they should be a clean people. But that wasn't the end of the matter; for notice at Mark 7:4, 5 it says that they also (as part of the 'ritual') rinsed the vegetables that they brought from the market and they washed (soaked) their dishes. However, such actions apparently weren't as strictly followed by Galileans in that ancient world (Jesus and eleven of his Apostles were from Galilee). And as proof that our conclusions about this are correct, notice what Jesus went on to say about the matter, as found at Matthew 15:20: 'Eating with unwashed hands doesn't dirty a man.' Yes, he said that washing your hands before eating isn't the most important thing!

Of course, Jesus wasn't really telling us to eat without washing our hands. For as the Son of God, he knew that disease and infection could be spread if we don't do that. But as the text goes on to indicate; what he was more concerned with here is something that was far more important! For what the Pharisees were doing was taking Bible principles (such as cleanliness) and turning them into laws – which Jesus showed they were doing to promote even unrighteous ideas, such as showing disregard for their parents.

His point? Christians shouldn't be making up their own rules! For more information, see the linked document God's Laws and Principles.

Edem (or Eden)

Was there really a Garden of Eden; and if so, where was it located?

Actually, the Septuagint says this at Genesis 2:8: 'God planted a Paradise on the east side of Edem, where He put the man whom he had formed.' Then in verses 10-14 we read: 'A river flowed from Edem to water the Paradise, and from there [came the] head [waters] of four [rivers]. The name of the [first river] is Phison. It circles the entire land of Evilat, where there is gold (and the gold from that land is good), as well as coal and ornamental stone. The name of the second river is Geon. It runs around the land of Kush. The third river is the Tigris. It flows over toward the Assyrians. The fourth river is the EuPhrates.'

As you can see; according to the Septuagint, the Garden wasn't named Eden, it was just called 'the Paradise' or 'the Walled Garden' (from the word's old Iranian roots), and it was also called 'the Paradise of Delights,' at Genesis 2:15. So, where did Eden come in? Notice that the Septuagint account tells us the Garden was located along the east side of 'the land of Edem.' Therefore, the garden wasn't named Eden (or Edem). Rather, it was located next to a land of that name.

But which spelling is correct, Eden or Edem? We don't know. However, we frequently find the letters M and N interchanged in Bible names in the ancient texts. Also, the word may have been spelled with an A, not with an E, as it is found at Amos 1:5; for there was no letter E in the ancient Hebrew alphabet… but there was an A, and it doesn't seem as though vowels were very important in ancient Hebrew, since they weren't used or indicated in the oldest manuscripts.

However, don't confuse this name (Ed-em) with Edom (Ed-om), although they both have similar meanings and may have once been pronounced the same, for Edom is the name of the land that belonged to the family line of IsaAc's son Esau, and Edem or Eden is the name of a land east of that, which was next to the garden (that we commonly call Eden today). And where was that?

It's important to notice that when Moses wrote this first portion of Genesis, he used the names of places and countries that existed in his day to describe their locations. For at Genesis 2:14 he tells us that the Tigris river 'flows over toward the Assyrians.' And since there was no nation of Assyria before the Downpour, we must assume that he was describing the place where it was located in his day, which was somewhere north of the ancient land of Assyria… for the Tigris River was described as flowing from Edem into Assyria.

So then, was there really a land of Edem that existed north of Assyria in the time of Moses? Yes, for there was a people called the Sons of Edem that are mentioned in other scriptures. For example, at 2 Kings 19:12 (4 Kings 19:12 Sept.), where the Assyrians were taunting the people of JeruSalem by bragging about the cities they had already conquered, they spoke of their conquest of the Sons of Edem at 'ThaEsthen' ('Tel Assar' in the Hebrew text), which almost all modern references cite as being 'a country annexed to Assyria.' Therefore, the land of Edem (or Eden) was likely north of where most people think of it as being today (in southern Iraq), for that's where you'll find the headwaters of the Tigris, EuPhrates, and two other rivers, the Geon (probably the Gihon or the Gaihun-Aras) and the Phison (likely the Pishon, which is now known as the Sefid-Rud, or Long Red River), since they have similar names today. So, as several modern researchers have concluded, the Garden was probably located to the southwest of Mt. Ararat near the modern city of Tabriz in Azerbaijan.

It's important to note that the Bible account tells us that the headwaters of these rivers all started in the land of Edem (not the Garden). And if this was (as most sources say) near Babylon, a geographical map shows that such rivers have never been located that far south. But on the other hand, this does describe the area that is still called Eden today, which is SW of Mt. Ararat.

Then, was there a man named Edem from whom the land at the foot of Mt. Ararat derives its name? That is likely, but since Edem appears to mean red earth, the term the sons of Edem could also mean the sons of the red earth after the bright red ochre soil that is found near Tabriz. Also, since the name Adam also seems to mean Red Earth, it could be that the red soil from that area (SW of Ararat) was the dust of the ground from which Adam was made.

Another thing to note is that according to Genesis 10:7, one of the descendants of Noah's son Kush (a dark-skinned race of people) was named Evilat. And remember that this is the name of the land around which the Phison flowed (see Genesis 2:11), where the account says that gold and other valuable minerals could be found.

But you might ask: If the Geon River is located in Azerbaijan, then why does the Septuagint say (at Genesis 2:13) that it runs around Ethiopia? Well, notice that Ethiopia is just the Greek word for the land of the blacks. Also, the Hebrew (Masoretic) text says there that 'it runs around the entire land of Kush,' which means the same thing, since Kush (it was originally spelled with a K not a C) also means Black. So it is saying that the Geon passed by the land that was then occupied by the Kushite peoples.

But, couldn't this also mean that the Geon is actually located near or in Africa? No, for the country that we call Ethiopia today cannot be the place around which the Geon River flowed, because not only is that impossible geologically, but the Bible's account about the sons of Edem and the location of the land of Evilat indicates that the descendants of Kush (whom the Ethiopians still claim as their progenitor) originally lived in areas north of modern Iran. And the fact that the Bible tells us that Kush's son Nimrod founded many cities in Iran and Iraq proves that black or dark-skinned people once inhabited that area.

Notice that the book 'A History of All Nations from Earliest Times' by John Henry Wright speaks of a dark-skinned race that lived along the Black Sea coast in Northern Assyria in ancient times, whom the Greeks called 'Ethiopians.' This is found in the second paragraph under the heading, 'Medes and Persians.' And there we read that these people migrated southeast and became the Indians (modern Brahui). That this is likely true can be seen from the newest maps of migrations as proven by genetics. For if you follow the 'L' (Indian) genetic branch backward, you'll see that it returns to the area of modern Persia, as the Bible account in Genesis indicates.

Egyptian Law of Eminent Domain

The account found at Genesis Chapter 47, where JoSeph purchased all of the Egyptian people's land for Pharaoh with grain, provides us an interesting insight into the history of governmental power to tax its residents and to own the land (eminent domain).

From this unique historical source (the Bible), we can see that governmental power and taxation wasn't necessarily common in early Egypt, which was in fact the first great world power, and which became the source of information about how governments were to be subsidized to all future generations.

Apparently prior to that time, governmental taxation of an entire population was unknown, so kings may have derived their funds by coercing merchants or rich landowners… or by war. However, under JoSeph's inspired direction (and God's permitting the famine), this first major government of history could legally claim the right to own the land and to tax the people. And while most archeologists and scholars deny the existence of JoSeph (as well as a long line of other major Bible people and events), no one can deny the effect of what he did on world history.

Then can we say that God is responsible for governmental taxation? Yes, for notice what Romans 13:6, 7 tells us: 'This is why you pay taxes; because as public servants, they are serving God's purposes. So, pay everyone what they are owed; to the tax assessor, the property tax; to the toll collector, the toll; give the police fear, and honor those [who require] honor.'

It is also interesting that this early decision affected the religious clerics of the time in that they paid no taxes on the property they owned, which is again similar to modern laws.

So the conclusion we reach is that governmental power and taxation are things that God created for our benefit, and that He also considered it necessary to remove religion from the influence of and taxation by governments.

The parallels to these ancient laws of God can still be seen in modern governments, where they claim the right to confiscate, purchase, or own all land within their domain (eminent domain), where national taxation is about the same as it was in Egypt under JoSeph, twenty percent, and where religious organizations and their clerics aren't taxed on income from religious duties.

Elder or Overseer

The term overseer implies a misleading nuance in American English… but it's still the best word to use. The Greek word that overseer is translated from is epi-scopos, which literally means on-looker (not as a person who is 'over' anyone). So the term doesn't imply a higher position, but that of a caretaker. That Christian overseers should not view themselves as being 'over' or 'higher than' the congregation is specifically warned against by Jesus, who said (as recorded at Matthew 23:10, 11): 'Nor should you be called leaders, for you have but one Leader, the Anointed One. However, the greatest among you must be your servant.'

We can clearly see that the position of overseer was never meant to be one of domination over the called ones or the congregation from the words of Peter. For he wrote (at 1 Peter 5:3): 'Don't [set yourselves up as] rulers over those who have been entrusted to your care, but become examples to the flock.'

A synonym that is used almost interchangeably in the Bible for 'overseer' is 'elder' (presbyterios – older man). And from this we learn that Christian elders may have always been males, and their job was to shepherd and teach the congregation. Another more modern English word for overseer is bishop, which is a corruption of the Greek word episcopos.

Each of the early Christian congregations may have had many older men who took the lead, taught, and watched over the flock. But the Scriptures show that to be given such a designation, they had to meet high standards of conduct and reputation. Also, although Paul doesn't mention this specifically in his list of qualifications, we know that elders had to be people who could make wise decisions and showed signs of having God's Breath, since this was the first qualification of all Servants in the Christian Congregation. We can see this from the words at Acts 6:3 (where the first 'servants' were appointed) which says: 'So brothers, find seven qualified men among you who are filled with wisdom and the Breath [of God].'

But shouldn't a person who may not be known as wise eventually be appointed an overseer just because of his years of faithful service? If you read the Proverbs, you'll repeatedly see the need to appoint just those who have proven themselves to be wise judges and councilors. For Solomon wrote (at Proverbs 22:29):
'An observant man who is sharp in his ways,
Will also stand beside kings…
He won't stand beside the dull witted.'

Notice the list of qualifications that Paul gave Timothy to look for in a man before appointing him to serve as an elder in the Christian Congregation, as recorded at 1 Timothy 3:2-7. He said that the candidate must be someone who,
Š Has not been charged [with misconduct] (gr. anepilepton)
Š Is a one-woman man (gr. mias one gynaikos woman aner man)
Š Is moderate in his habits
Š Is sensible (wise)
Š Is friendly to strangers (hospitable)
Š Is a (qualified) teacher
Š Is not a drunk
Š Isn't headstrong
Š Isn't quarrelsome
Š Isn't a greedy person
Š Is someone who takes the lead in his family
Š Has children who obey him seriously
Š Isn't a newly converted man
Š Is someone who is spoken of well by those outside the congregation.

And thereafter, such a person should follow the course that was set out by Peter, who wrote at 1 Peter 5:1-4: 'I encourage the elders among you (my fellow elders and witnesses of the sufferings of the Anointed One who will share in the glory that's soon to be revealed) to shepherd the flock of God that has been entrusted to you. Don't do this because you have to, but because you want to! Don't do it to make a lot of money, but because you want to help! And don't [set yourselves up as] rulers over those who have been entrusted to your care, but become examples to the flock. Then when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will walk away with the enduring garland of glory!'

For more information, see the linked document, 'Arrangement of the First Christian Churches.'

Empowering the Priests

At Exodus 28:41 (in the Septuagint), we read the following instructions of God when He was talking to Moses about the special garments that were to be worn by those who served as the Holy Priests of IsraEl: 'You must put them upon your brother Aaron and his sons, then anoint them and empower their hands. Make them Holy, so that they can officiate as Priests before Me.'

In Greek, the highlighted words are, kai empleseis auton tas cheiras, or, and fill of them the hands. So we have concluded that the verses are saying that Aaron and his sons were to undergo some sort of empowerment ceremony following their anointing.

Eroticism of the Bible

Although self-righteous people often make up their own rules when it comes to proper sexual thoughts and conduct between men and women, the Song of Solomon is filled with words that openly describe sexual desires that seem to imply acts that many today would consider to be lewd and 'unchristian.' For more information, see the linked document, 'Christian Morality.'

Esther

Esther is the Hellenized (Greek) pronunciation of the (possibly Median) name HadasShah. She was the wife of ArtaXerxes I, likely known as Damasphia.

Eue, Euan, or Eve?

There seems to be a contradiction between the Hebrew and Greek texts over the name of the first woman. In fact, there is even an apparent contradiction between the Greek texts, because she is referred to as Life (Greek: Zoe – pronounced zoe-ay) at Genesis 3:20, but as Eue or Euan (pronounced Eu-weh or Eu-wan) at Genesis 4:25. However, there is no contradiction, just a difference in languages. The Greek word found at Genesis 3:21 (Zoe) means Life, and the Hebrew word found at Genesis 4:1, אֶת־חַוָּה, or, H'Hawah (pronounced 'Eve' in English) also means Life. So the reason for the difference in the Septuagint is that it gives both the Greek and Hebrew names.

It may be hard for some to understand how H'hawah came to be pronounced as Eve in English, but this probably came from a later corruption of the Greek spelling of the Hebrew name (Eue), because the Greek letter u looks like a vυαν). So her English name should be Life, but Eve has become the common mispronunciation.

Eunuchs

When we hear the word eunuch, we usually think of a man who has been castrated, because that's what the term has come to mean through the years. However, when someone is described as a eunuch in the Bible, it doesn't necessarily mean that he was sexually mutilated. In fact, during the reigns of faithful kings of IsraEl, such mutilation would have been considered repulsive; for a sexually-mutilated person, by Law, couldn't serve as a Priest or worship at the Temple of Jehovah.

Does this mean that God dislikes men whose testicles have been forcibly or accidentally removed? No, surely the reasons for this law was because He knew that some men, in their desire to better serve Him, may have considered castrating themselves in order to remove any carnal desires… and He clearly didn't want that to happen. So God gave them a law that disallowed religious participation by any who were castrated.

But notice that the Greek word eunuch doesn't really carry the meaning of castration. Rather, it means bed keeper. However, most bed keepers (or harem watchers) for kings were in fact castrated to keep them from temptation. Yet eunuchs are frequently mentioned in the Bible as holding other offices (take the Ethiopian Eunuch as an example), which didn't necessarily require castration. So, why were men who didn't watch over harems later referred to as bed keepers? Because the term had come under common use to apply to all of the most-trusted servants of kings. You might notice, for example, that Potiphar (the Egyptian man to whom JoSeph was sold) was referred to as a eunuch (gr. Eunouchos) of Pharaoh at Genesis 39:1, though the account tells us that he was a married man.

But was DaniEl (who served under the chief Babylonian eunuch) in fact a eunuch? His position as a special servant to the king would indicate that he held such a title. But is it possible that he had been castrated? Well, since he was an early captive from JeruSalem, he was likely a member of its nobility or royalty; and notice what the prophecy that God gave to King HezekiAh (at Isaiah 39:7) says about this: 'They will take your children – those whom you have fathered – and make them eunuchs in the houses of the Babylonians.'

In the above case, the Greek word that we have translated as eunuchs is castrati (one who has been sexually mutilated). And the fact that there is no mention of DaniEl having a wife or children, and that none of his descendants are listed among those who returned to JeruSalem, makes this a likely conclusion.

Faith

The account at Acts 16:30-32 tells the story of a jailer who had just witnessed a miracle. And he asked Paul and Silas: 'Lords; What must I do to get saved?'

Their reply was: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.' And then, according to some Greek texts, the account goes on to say: 'They spoke to him and all those in his house about the Word of God' (or as some Greek texts say, 'the word of the Lord')

So from these words, many have concluded that faith in Jesus is all that a person requires to be 'saved.' But those who do so seem to overlook the reasoning behind the rest of the Bible's instructions. For example; shouldn't an accurate understanding of God's ways and laws also be required? If this weren't true, then Paul and Silas wouldn't have bothered to go on and teach this man and his household about 'the word of God' or 'the Lord').

Jesus' half brother James also wrote about this matter of faith, and he showed that more is required to be pleasing to God. For notice what he wrote at James 2:14: 'What good does it do, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but isn't moved to do anything about it? Can such faith save him?' He then answers this question at James 2:17: 'So, faith without [good] deeds is dead.'

And what type of faithful action was James saying was necessary to make ours a living faith? He spoke of the need to be willing to help our brothers when they lack the necessities of life, to be fair, to be forgiving, and to live clean, honest lives. Then he concluded (at James 2:24): 'So, just as a body that isn't breathing is dead, faith without [good] deeds is dead.'

False Brothers

At Galatians 2:4, Paul wrote about problems that he had with 'false brothers' (gr. pseudo adelphoi) whom he had to deal with on his second visit to JeruSalem. These may have been the same ones that he mentioned at 2 Corinthians 11:26, when he was talking about the many dangers that he had faced as an Apostle… and this was apparently one of the most treacherous.

That such men were likely considered to be in good standing by others in the congregation is substantiated by the fact that they met Paul in the presence of what appeared to be the leading ones of the congregation in JeruSalem, specifically James, Peter, and John. And that there were such ones who looked down on and opposed Paul, is discussed under the Wikipedia topic, Ebionites.

What was so treacherous about these men that Paul list edthis encounter along with being stoned, beaten, and left for dead? He wrote that they 'looked down on the freedom we have in the Anointed Jesus, and they wanted to make us their slaves.' In other words, they were making accusations against Paul and trying to override the commission that he had received directly from Jesus in a vision. So they were in fact resisting and opposing God's Holy Breath.

Clearly, some of those in the First Century congregation in JeruSalem didn't like Paul or the work he was doing, and they were giving him orders on how he should conduct himself, to whom he should preach, how he should preach, and what he should say; for they would have loved to bring an end to Paul's commission to preach to the gentiles. So their obvious lack of love for Paul and their high regard for their own opinions (which were pro-Judaism) led to disqualifying them as Paul's 'brothers,' although it's interesting that there is no mention of their being corrected by anyone at the time. In fact, it was due to his trying to please such 'false brothers' (as James suggested that he should do by observing needless Jewish cleansing rituals) that Paul ended up being mobbed, beaten, arrested, and later sent to Rome to stand trial before Emperor Nero.

Note that these 'brothers' had actually accused Paul of teaching an 'apostasy' (see Acts 21:21)… which is interesting, because this is the only Bible record of a Christian ever being accused of such a thing in those exact words.

Fear or Respect?

The Greek word for respect (or value) is temer, while the Greek word for fear is phobou (as in phobia). Yet you will often find phobou incorrectly translated as respect in some Bibles, especially when referring to wives in their relationships with their husbands. This is likely an effort on the part of some to make the Bible more 'politically correct;' because the same word, when applied to slaves, is usually translated as fear.

What type of fear does the Bible mean? The same word (phobou) is used in other places to describe our relationships with God and Jesus, and we are to love them. So phobou must imply a fear of creating displeasure, in the same way as husbands, wives, or slaves fear (but love) God and Jesus. So for clarification, in several places throughout this Bible we have translated phobou as [Godly] fear.

Fool, Foolish, or Uncaring?

The Greek word μωραι (pronounced, moe-rai) is often translated as foolish or fool in other Bibles. However, μωραι is what the English word moron is derived from. The term moron, as used by Jesus and his Apostles, doesn't imply to someone who has no comprehension, as the medical term moron does today. Rather, it meant someone who knows right from wrong, but just doesn't care to do what is right.

For example; the ten virgins of Jesus' parable in Matthew 25 weren't just 'foolish' girls, they were morons… they knew what to do, but they didn't care enough to do it.

Footstool

Paul wrote (at Hebrews 1:13): 'And to which one of his messengers did He ever say, Sit here at My right until I set your enemies as a stool at your feet?'

Understand that throughout the entire First Chapter of Hebrews, Paul was quoting scriptures that referred to Jesus and told of his earlier position as a messenger (or 'angel') of God in the heavens. There he was emphasizing Jesus' superiority over the other messengers, because (as Hebrews 1:6 points out) Jesus was God's 'firstborn son.' And among this list of quotations concerning him, Paul cited David's words from Psalm 110:1 (Psalm 109:1 LXX), where King David said:
'Jehovah said this to my lord:
Sit here at My right hand,
Til I set your enemies as a stool for your feet
.'

But what did God mean by that, and when would this prophecy be fulfilled?

Well, notice the similarity of the events that are described in the book of Revelation, which (as Revelation 1:10 says) is telling us of the things that would happen in 'the Lord's Day.' For at Revelation Chapter 12 verses 7-9 we read this: 'Next, a war broke out in heaven. MichaEl and his messengers battled with the Dragon, and the Dragon and his messengers fought back. However, [the Dragon] lost and he could no longer stay in the heavens. So the huge Dragon (the original snake who is called the Slanderer and Opposer) that is misleading the whole habitation [of mankind] was thrown down… he was thrown down to the earth along with [all of] his messengers.'

Therefore, since this war in the heavens is prophesied to happen in a future 'Day of the Lord,' we must assume that the Slanderer will continue to have access to God's presence there, the same as he did during the time of Job (see Job 1:6-13), until the war begins and he and his friends are thrown down to the earth. That this is probably something that hasn't happened yet is indicated by the words found at Revelation 12:12, where we read:
'So rejoice you heavens and all those who live there,
But, woe to the earth and the sea;
For the Slanderer has come down to you in great rage,
Knowing that he has little time.'

So notice that the period following the heavenly war will be marked by a special time of 'woe' for the earth… likely a time of world wars, famines, plagues, and natural disasters, as foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24. And since this war results in Jesus' enemies being thrown down to the earth; this is obviously what the scriptures at Psalm 110:1 and Hebrews 1:13 were talking about. For Isaiah 66:1 tells us that God said, 'The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool.'

Therefore from the above, we must assume that after Jesus was resurrected and ascended into the heavens in 33-CE; though he went to the position of favor at God's right hand, he didn't start his rule as the king of God's Kingdom. For he still had to await the future 'Lord's Day' when this great battle would be fought in the heavens, which his enemies would then lose and thereafter be relegated to 'the footstool' (the earth). We know that this didn't happen back in 33-CE, because John spoke of it as being a future thing in the Revelation, which he wrote almost 65 years after Jesus' resurrection.

Then notice what the account at Revelation 12:10 says happens after that:
'Well at that I heard a loud voice in heaven say,
Now has come the salvation and the power,
As well as the Kingdom of our God;
For His Anointed has now been empowered,
And the accuser of our brothers has been cast down,
Who blames them before God day and night!

So it appears as though when Jesus' enemies are placed as a stool for his feet, he begins his rule as king of God's Kingdom.

Foreign Wives and Children

While Ezra's commandment (at Ezra 10:11) for the people of IsraEl to send away their foreign wives and children may seem harsh and unreasonable, we want to understand that these wives likely weren't worshipers of IsraEl's God Jehovah, but of foreign gods; and that was the reason for Ezra's concern. For through the ages, anyone who chose to join with IsraEl and to start worshiping Jehovah was accepted as part of that nation… there are many notable examples of this in the Bible. However, what had apparently happened after their restoration from Babylon was that the Jews were making marriage alliances with the pagan peoples of the land, which God forbade, and which was remembered as the sin of Solomon. So Ezra required such pagan women to be sent away and returned to the homes of their parents.

Also notice that kindness was shown to these wives and children, because sufficient time was allowed to keep them from being put out in the cold. And although the account doesn't tell us this, many could well have been given some measure of the family inheritance when they left.

Foreskin

It appears as though God has provided a secret sign, known only to God and a person's mate, to indicate a person's desire to be righteous… the foreskin of the genitalia. On males this is the extra fold of skin around the top of the penis, and on females it is the small piece of skin called the hymen. So whether this skin remains unbroken or is removed is something that is quite secret and unseen by others, but known by God and one's mate.

It seems unusual that both of these small pieces of skin appear to have been made to be broken or cut off without creating any long-term injury; and in the case of the hymen, is exclusive to human females. So it appears as though mankind was deliberately created with these extra pieces of skin, so that those who wish to remain faithful before God and to their mates can choose to indicate this in a very private way.

We first learned of the meaning of and the need for males to be circumcised, when God told AbraHam that he, his entire household, and all his descendants should have their foreskin removed. Note what He said, as found at Genesis 17:10-12: 'This is the Sacred Agreement between you and your seed through all its generations, and Me: All of your males must be circumcised. The foreskin of your flesh must be circumcised. This will be the sign of the Sacred Agreement between you and Me. You must circumcise all of your male children when they are eight-days old, throughout all your generations. [This includes all the] servants who are born in your house, those who are bought with money, and the sons of aliens who are not your seed.'

It is particularly interesting that new-born males were to be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth, because that is precisely the best time to perform this delicate operation, since this is when the least bleeding will occur. Who would have known this other than God?

It was later on, after the death of Jesus and when many gentile converts were coming into the Christian Congregation that a question about circumcision arose concerning them. For circumcised Jewish Christians were demanding that uncircumcised gentile converts also be circumcised. And when the matter was brought before 'the Holy Ones' in JeruSalem, their decision was that physical circumcision was just a sign that God required of the Jews. So they decreed (as found at Acts 15:28, 29):
'It's apparent to the Holy Breath [of God] and to us that we shouldn't put any burdens on you other than these necessary things: Stay away from things that are sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things that are strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you stay away from these things, you will do well. Good health to you!'

In other words, physical circumcision was no longer required of Christians. However, notice what Moses wrote (as recorded at Deuteronomy 10:16, 17): 'So, circumcise the hardness from your hearts and don't be [rebellious], for Jehovah your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords.'

As you can see, there is both a physical circumcision and a spiritual circumcision, and both amount to a removing of the sign of impurity (for males).

Females of course, were not to be circumcised, because their foreskin is a sign of their virginity. And although modern people call the cruel practice of surgically removing the clitoris (as is practiced by many peoples on the African continent today) 'female circumcision;' that is just mutilation, not a removal of the foreskin.

What is the purpose of establishing virginity among women? God's view is that a man has the right to choose a woman of high moral character who is clean and untouched. And for this He provided the sign of the foreskin, which bleeds when first broken in sexual relations. So in ancient IsraEl (and among other descendants of AbraHam), the custom was to provide the blanket or rug on which the marriage had been consummated, to the parents of the bride as proof that she was a virgin. For we read at Deuteronomy 32:13-15: 'If any man should take a wife whom he comes to dislike after he has lived with her, then he starts saying bad things about her and calling her bad names, saying, When I took this woman and had sex with her, she didn't prove to be a virgin; her father and mother must bring the girl's proof of virginity to the elders at the city gate.'

And, just as one can choose to be circumcised in the heart, one can also choose to be a spiritual virgin; for at Revelation 14:4 we read of such individuals: 'These didn't dirty themselves with women. In fact, they are virgins who keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. They were bought from mankind [and offered] as the first fruitage to God and to the Lamb.'

What type of virginity is being spoken of there? This scripture isn't talking about living the life of a monk or a nun, but of someone who has kept him/herself pure in his or her worship of God. A contrasting person would be one whom the Disciple James spoke of at James 4:4, where he said, 'Adulteresses, don't you know that if you're a friend of the world, you're an enemy of God? So whoever wants to be a friend of the world is putting himself down as God's enemy.'

For a graphic view of what a spiritual whore is to God, read His description of the unfaithfulness of Judah and IsraEl, where He used the pseudonyms Aholah and AholiBah to describe them in the Twenty-Third Chapter of EzekiEl.

On the other hand; in the account of the Bride of the Lamb who is spoken of at Revelation 19:7, 8, we read: 'Let's rejoice, shout in joy, and glorify Him, because it's time for the Lamb's wedding! His bride has prepared herself and she was found worthy to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen. This fine linen represents the righteous actions of the Holy Ones.'

Of course, according to the Law of God, this bride of Jesus (the Lamb) had to be a virgin, because of his heavenly position as the High Priest before God. For notice what God required of the brides of the entire Priesthood class of IsraEl (Leviticus 21:13-15): 'He may only take a wife who is a virgin and from his own tribe… not a widow, a divorcee, someone who has been violated, or a prostitute. He may only take a virgin from his own people as a wife; for he must not profane his seed among his people. I am Jehovah who makes him holy.'

Fornication or Sexual Immorality?

The Greek word porneia means more than just copulation between individuals who aren't married to each other. The term literally means that which is sold (by prostitutes). Therefore, it includes all types of sexual acts that might be sold by prostitutes and it applies to such actions between those (whether male or female) who are not married to each other, even when there may be no exchange of money; because, wherever we find the word porneia in the Bible, the Hebrew Law shows that it involves any intimate relations between unmarried persons. So because the English word fornication implied just copulation between unmarried persons, we have used the broader term sexual immorality in this Bible to indicate the full range of meaning of porneia.

For more information, see the linked document, Christian Morality.

Fountains or Springs?

You will notice that in this Bible we have rendered the Greek word pege (pronounced pay-gay) as springs, not as fountains or mists, as other translators have done. Yes, it could be argued that the Hebrew word (as used in Genesis 2, for example) could imply a mist. However, in the various places where we find the Greek word pege in the Septuagint, the consistent application seems to be to springs of water.

Pege appears to be a variation of the word pegnumi, which means to gush (and yes, we can see how that could be construed as fountain). However, natural fountains of water are rare and self destructive, while gushing springs are quite common. And although stylized Bible pictures of fountains shooting from the ground are quite idyllic, this isn't the view that we get consistently from the word's other uses in the Bible.

Friends of the World

Jesus' half-brother James wrote (at James 4:4, 5): 'Adulteresses, don't you know that if you're a friend of the world you're an enemy of God? So whoever wants to be a friend of the world is putting himself down as God's enemy.'

Why did James call such ones 'adulteresses? Well, notice what Paul wrote about this to Christians in Corinth, Greece (at 2 Corinthians 11:2, 3): 'I'm jealous over you with a Godly zeal, because I personally promised you in marriage as chaste virgins to a husband… yes, to stand beside the Anointed One. However, I'm afraid that somehow, in the same way that the snake cunningly seduced Eve, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that is owed to the Anointed One.'

So, what must a Christian do to remain a 'chaste virgin' and not become an 'adulteress?' As James pointed out; we must stay free of the wicked ways of the world. Notice how those who are found worthy to reign in God's Kingdom were described at Revelation 14:4, 5: 'These are the ones who didn't make themselves unclean with women. In fact, they are virgins. They're the ones who keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. They were bought from among mankind as first fruits to God and to the Lamb, no lies are found in their mouths, and they don't have any defects.'

Therefore, spiritual 'virginity' is required to be counted among this special group. How is this virginity obtained? Well, notice what was also said of these 'spiritual virgins' at Revelation 20:4: 'And I saw thrones… and those who sat down on them were the ones who had been executed with axes for testifying about Jesus and for telling about God, and who hadn't worshiped the wild animal or its image, nor had they received its mark on their foreheads or on their hands. They were appointed to be judges, and they came to life and ruled as kings with the Anointed One for a thousand years.'

What must a person do to avoid worshiping 'the wild animal and its image' and having its 'mark?' If you look up those scriptures and open the Notes there, you'll find that those who claim to be virgins and are promised in marriage to 'the Lamb' (Jesus) will not be found supporting 'the wild animal or its image' – which appear to be unrighteous worldly rulerships – because according to Revelation 16:14, these very governments (kings) will soon go to war against God. For notice that we are told who it is that will be inspired by demons and what the result will be: 'They were the unseen powers of demons, and they served as signs. These unseen powers went out to all the kings of the habitation of mankind, to assemble them for the battle of the Great Day of the Almighty God.'

But are the governments of this world really under the control of demons? Well, when the Opposer was tempting Jesus after his forty days in the desert, notice the control that he said he has over 'all the kingdoms of the world,' at Luke 4:6, 7: 'I'll give you power over all of these and the glory of them, because they've been given to me and I can give them to whomever I wish. They will all be yours, if you will just bow before me.'

So the question arises: How can Christians who are promised in marriage to Jesus get involved in this world, its politics, or its wars, and still remain 'chaste virgins' who are worthy of becoming 'one' with Jesus? As James concluded: 'Whoever wants to be a friend of the world is putting himself down as God's enemy.'

Funeral

At Ecclesiastes 7:2, we rendered the Greek words 'Agathon poreuthenai eis oikon penthous,' as, 'It's better to attend a funeral.' Yet a word-for-word translation says 'Is/good to/go into a/house of/mourning.' Why have we made this change? Because in modern terms, we would refer to this as attending a funeral.

Gadflies or Stable Flies?

The fourth plague that God sent to Egypt prior to the IsraElite exodus was a countrywide infestation of biting flies. The Greek word for them is kunomuian, which implies (and is often translated as) dog fly. And in other Bibles, they are called gadflies.

Unfortunately, both of those terms (dog fly and gadfly) are unfamiliar to most readers in the Americas. However, when researching the term dog fly, we found that this is just another name for the common stable fly, which bites like a horsefly but is about the size of a housefly. That is why we have settled on this term.

Galilee or Judea?

At Luke 4:44, we have written that Jesus preached in the synagogues of Galilee. However, many other Bibles say that Jesus preached in the synagogues of Judea. Which is correct? It depends on which Greek text you use as a reference. The Wescott/Hort text, which we have used for much of this Bible, says he preached in Judea, while several other texts (such as the Tischendorf Greek text) say that he preached in Galilee. We have chosen to go with the later rendering, because at the time, he was preaching in Galilee. Actually, Jesus did little preaching in Judea until the later days of his life on earth, because the Judeans were always looking to kill him (see John 11:8).

Garbage Dump

The Greek word GeHenna is often translated as Hell Fire. Yet the word simply means the Valley (heb. ga) of Hinnom. The Valley of Hinnom (also referred to as 'the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom') was a garbage dump that was located along one of JeruSalem's outer walls. It was a beautiful park before JeruSalem's conquest by Babylon, but it was defiled when apostate Jews started offering their children as sacrifices on an altar to the God Moloch there (see 2 Chronicles 28:3). So after their repatriation to JeruSalem, the valley was used in a disrespectful way.

Because it was a garbage dump, it was customary to keep the garbage burning to reduce the stench and to limit vermin; so sulfur and brimstone were frequently poured into the dump to keep the fires burning hot. This is why Jesus, when using the term, spoke of the fire as not being put out. Also, because worms (maggots) bred along the edges of the dump, he could say that the worms don't die there. But there is no indication that he was really talking about humans burning forever.

The only cases where humans were actually thrown into GeHenna provides an insight into what Jesus was talking about when he referred to people as going there: The dead bodies of particularly vile criminals were thrown into GeHenna's fires whenever the population felt that they were undeserving of a decent burial. And as you read the Scriptures, you will notice the importance that Hebrews placed on being 'laid to rest with their ancestors.' So when Jesus spoke of people being thrown into GeHenna, he was obviously referring to unrepentant sinners as being found unworthy of a decent burial and being thrown into the 'garbage dump' in the eyes of God, thus they were unworthy of a resurrection. This same fate (of no resurrection) is implied by the death of the wicked Queen JezeBel, whose body was eaten by dogs.

Such an outcome for the willfully wicked is also referred to in Matthew's account as the fire of the age. Why was that term used? Because fire destroys, and this destruction is for the ages.

For more information, see the linked document, 'Is there a Burning Hell?'

Gays and Men Who Have Sex with Men

At 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, Paul profiles the types of people who 'won't inherit God's Kingdom.' And listed among the offenders are (as we have translated it herein) 'gays and men who have sex with men.'

Recognize that the 'gay' lifestyle is usually (but not always) sexually promiscuous; so the acts involved in it usually constitute porneia. And as with all others who are sexually immoral, such ones are counted among the 'unrighteous' whose names are not written in the Scroll of Life.

Notice that in the words of this verse, Paul makes some fine distinctions that cover the full range of male homosexual behavior. The Greek word that he used was malakoi, which we've rendered as 'gays' herein, because malakoi translates as 'softies,' or 'soft men,' and it implies those who enjoy having other men obtain sexual gratification from them. Then the other term, arsenokoitai, translates as 'male bed-ers' and is rendered as 'men who have sex with men' herein. This refers to amoral men who don't necessarily consider themselves 'gay,' but are willing to take sexual advantage of other men, as was the case of the men in Sodom.

So when the Bible says that such individuals 'won't inherit the Kingdom,' does this mean that they are 'eternally damned?' Not necessarily, for Paul referred to them as just 'unrighteous,' and all he said was that they won't 'inherit God's Kingdom.' However, Paul also said (as recorded at Acts 24:15) that there will be a resurrection for both 'the righteous and the unrighteous.' And the promise at Revelation 21:7 is that all who are resurrected and eventually 'conquer' will thereafter receive an inheritance in God's Kingdom. Yet, those who are found to be unrighteous in this life are deemed by God as unworthy of such an inheritance when they die.

Yes, we know that this view is currently considered 'politically incorrect,' but it's what the Bible says. For throughout the Bible, immoral people are spoken of as the unrighteous.

For more information, see the linked documents, 'God's Promise of an Inheritance,' 'Christian Morality,' and the Note 'Homosexuality and Bestiality'.

Genesis 4:7

The Masoretic text of this verse reads (according to the Net Bible): 'Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.'

It is the opinion of some readers that the Septuagint rendering of this verse omits an important Bible principle. As it was explained: 'The Genesis 4:7 text God is warning Cain, who got mad, that sin (Satan) was waiting to get him if he sinned. This passage has been one of the most important texts explaining this idea of authority and the dominion of Satan in the beginning. The whole idea of God telling man he had to master sin sets up the coming of Christ to do just that.'

Gentiles, Nations, or Ethnics

When the Bible speaks of 'the people of the nations' or 'the gentiles' (gr. tas ethne – or literally, the ethnics), we think of all those who aren't referred to as 'IsraElites' or 'Jews.' However in Genesis we find another definition of the term. Notice what Genesis 10:2-5 says: 'JaPheth's sons were Gamer, Magog, Madoi [the Medes], Jovan, Elisa, Thobel [of Tubal], Mosoch [of possibly Russia], and Thiras [Islands of the Aegean Sea]. Gamer's sons were Aschanaz [Germans], Riphath [of Northwestern Asia Minor], and Thorgama [the Armenians]. Jovan's sons were EliShah [of Tyre], Tarshish [of Spain], Cetians [of Phoenicia], Rhodians [of Rhodes]. [They settled the] islands, which lands were divided by tribe and nation among the Gentiles, each according to his own language.'

So from this account we can see that the term, 'the people of the nations' or 'gentiles,' originally referred to just the descendants of JaPheth (white races) who lived across the Mediterranean Sea from the sons of both Shem and Ham (who lived primarily in the East, Middle East, and Africa).

Also, in the battle that AbraHam fought so as to save his Nephew Lot (see Genesis 14:1) who had been captured by them, one of the kings he fought against was 'Thargal, the king of Gentiles.' However, because of the diverse scattering of the gentile nations by the time of Moses (when this portion of Genesis was likely written), Thargal was probably the king of just one gentile nation (not all). So this raises the question of whether the Bible's references to the gentiles thereafter indicated only those who lived in Europe and the northern Middle East, or if the term was extended to include all nations other than just the Tribes of IsraEl. It is possible that those whom Moses called the Gentiles (or, the nations) were people whose languages had been changed by God in Babylon, while the rest shared a similar language.

It is interesting that the Medes and Persians settled in a land that came to be known as Iran, which the history books speculate came from the term Aryan, showing that the people in that land were once considered descendants of JaPheth, and were thus 'gentiles.' However, recognize that JaPheth's descendants were also the progenitors of the Germanic, Slavic, and Russian (almost all European) races.

It is important to note that the words ethnics, gentiles, and nations, which are derived from the Greek word ethnos, may in several instances carry a highly symbolic meaning, especially in prophecies; for these words refer to peoples who are not (or were not) in a covenant relationship with God. Take for example the reference at Revelation 7:9: 'And after all that, I saw {Look!} a crowd so large that no one could count them. They came from all countries, nationalities, ethnic groups, and languages; and they were standing within sight of the throne and within sight of the Lamb.' Since 'the twelve tribes of IsraEl' had been mentioned previously (in verses 4-8), these ethnics stand out as a different group, and the term may refer to those who were previously non-Christians (those not claiming to be in a Covenant relationship with God). But later, references to the nations or ethnics in the Revelation appear to be speaking about those who had yet to make peace with Him.

Gnats or Fleas?

The third plague that God sent to Egypt during the time prior to the IsraElite exodus was a countrywide infestation of small, biting insects. The Greek word for them is skniphes, which has been translated as gnats, fleas, mosquitoes, etc. We have decided that they were likely some sort of flea, because gnats aren't thought of as biting insects, and the text indicates that they lived on the ground, which would preclude mosquitoes.

Gods

At Psalm 82:1 we read:
'God stands in the gathering of gods,
And among them, He passes judgment.
So how long will You judge their injustice,
And put up with the presence of sinners?'

This verse – in fact, all of Psalm 82 – is usually not (or is only vaguely) properly understood. Who are the 'gods' that God meets with and examines? Psalm 82:6 tells us:
'I said to them, You are gods…
You are sons of the Most High!
But like men, you will perish also,
And like their rulers, you'll fall.
'
So from the context, we can see that these words were being spoken to individuals who were created directly by God… God's sons (not 'sons of men'). Therefore, it seems clear that God was speaking to spirit creatures (His messengers or 'angels'), some of whom are now referred to as 'the demons' (spirits who have received God's adverse judgment).

Notice that Jesus quoted this scripture at John 10:34-36, when he said: 'Isn't it written in your Law, I say that you are gods? So if He called those who were spoken against in God's Word, gods (and you can't void the Scriptures), how can you tell me (one who was made holy and sent into the world by the Father) that I am blaspheming because I say that I'm God's Son?'

So because of this, many have assumed that Psalm 82:6 was really speaking of humans, not spirits. But notice that Jesus wasn't calling his listeners gods; rather, he was saying that those with whom God had met and whom He had examined (as mentioned in the Psalms) were the ones that were called gods in the Psalms. For notice that they live in 'darkness' (Tartarus), for we read at Psalm 82:5:
'For, they don't know, nor do they perceive,
Because they travel in darkness,
That the foundations of the earth will be shaken.

Of course, there is a scripture that speaks of God meeting with all of His spirit creatures in the heavens, and note that at least one evil person was present. We find this reference at Job 1:6, which says: 'Then one day, {Look!} the messengers of God went to stand before Jehovah, and the Opposer came along with them. So Jehovah asked the Opposer: From what place have you come?'

Therefore, it is our conclusion (after considering the context) that this psalm of Asaph is referring to God's spirit sons as gods (those greater than humans), and he was telling the evil ones among them that because they had been dealing with mankind unjustly, they (like humans and their corrupt rulers) would also pass away when the 'the foundations of the earth' are 'shaken.'

God's Chosen People

The idea that the Jews are still God's chosen people and that they will eventually rule over the earth from the City of JeruSalem is becoming popular among many fundamentalist religions. However, this concept appears to disregard the promises and teachings of the Bible.

For instance, notice Jesus' words to the people of that city as found at Matthew 23:37, 38: 'O JeruSalem, JeruSalem… you killer of Prophets and stoner of those who were sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you didn't want it. Look! Your house has been taken from you!'

So their 'house' (the position of special favor with God) was removed from them due to their repeated rejection of God's ways and His Prophets, and for murdering His Son.

Notice how Jesus pictured this rejection of the Jews as God's chosen people in his parable of the king who hired laborers to work in his vineyard (at Matthew 21:33-41). The story ends with the cultivators killing the king's son. And what was the result? Verse 41 says, 'Then he will hire others to cultivate the vineyard who will give him the fruit when it's due.'

Thereafter, in Chapter 22 (verses 1-10), Jesus repeats this same theme when he gave the parable of the king who invited guests to a grand meal, but none of those who were invited (the Jews) showed up. In fact, they killed his messengers, and then his son. The account says: 'So he sent his army to destroy those murderers and burned their city.' And after that, he sent his attendants out to invite others to this great feast.

Who are these 'others?' Well, out of respect for His Sacred Agreement with AbraHam, God continued to offer the opportunity to be 'kings and Priests' in the Kingdom exclusively to the Jews and the related Samaritans for the 3-1/2 years following Jesus' death. But thereafter, the opportunity to become 'Spiritual Jews' was offered to the first 'Gentile' converts, Cornelius and his family. And from that point on, the Bible speaks of growing numbers of Gentile converts, as Paul and others were appointed as Apostles (or 'Sent Ones') to the nations or gentiles.

Also notice Jesus' words as found at Matthew 8:12, where he foretold: 'The Sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside, where they will cry and grind their teeth.' So since the Jews were in fact 'the sons of the kingdom' or the sons of the AbraHamic promise, the indication here is that they as a nation (but not as individuals) were being rejected.

Then in the letters of Paul, we read scripture after scripture that show these Gentile converts were thereafter included in the promise to AbraHam, and that they comprised a 'New JeruSalem.' Notice what Paul wrote about this at Romans 2:28: 'So a Jew isn't what you are on the outside, nor is circumcision something that's outside on the flesh.' In other words, the faithful Gentiles had become 'spiritual Jews,' or the symbolic 'twelve tribes of IsraEl.'

So it was to this 'new nation' that all the promises and Sacred Agreements now apply, not to the earthly city of JeruSalem, for JeruSalem had been rejected. Why? Well, notice what the people in that city replied to Pilate's question when they were calling for the murder of God's Son (at Matthew 27: 25): 'At that, all the people said, May we and our children be responsible for his blood.' And (at John 19:15): 'We have no king but Caesar.' So the Jews were not only rejected by God, but they verbally rejected God and asked for the blood of Jesus to be on them and on their children (all future generations). This is why the prophecies regarding JeruSalem appear to have nothing to do with a literal city in Palestine today.

Notice that Paul wrote (at Romans 9:6-8): 'Now, the word of God didn't fail, because not all who came from IsraEl are really IsraEl, nor are all of AbraHam's seed his children. For [it's written]: That which will be called your seed will come through IsaAc. However, [IsaAc's] fleshly children aren't the children of God. The children of the promise are that seed.'

Then he added at Romans 9:27: 'Isaiah shouted this about IsraEl: Although the sons of IsraEl may become as many as the sands of the sea, only a few will be saved.'

And he wrote at Romans 9:30-33: 'So we can say that people of the nations (although they weren't trying to become righteous) became righteous with the [type of] righteousness that comes from faith, while IsraEl (which was following a righteous Law) just didn't make it! And why was that so? Because [IsraEl] didn't look for it in faith but in the things that they were doing… they tripped over the stumbling stone! As it is written: {Look!} I'm putting a stumbling stone and a rock to trip over in Zion. But those who have faith in him will never be shamed.'

Also, notice what was prophesied about about that nation by the ancient Hebrew Prophet Zechariah at Zechariah 11:10-14:
'Then I'll take my stick (the one [I called] Beauty),
And I will throw it away
To erase [God's] Agreement with them.
It'll be erased in that day,
And those in CanaAn who have guarded my sheep
Will know that I am The Word of Jehovah.

'And then, I'll tell them to do
Whatever they find to be good…
Yes, pay my wage or forbid it!
So, they established my wage…
It was thirty pieces of silver.

'Then the Lord said to me:
Now, throw it into the [Temple]…
But check to make sure that the [coins] are all pure;
For, this is my [value] before them.

'So [he'll] take the thirty pieces of silver
And throw them into the Temple.

'That's when my second stick will be thrown
(The one that I called Measured Land),
For I'll wipe IsraEl and Judah away
From [the land] that they've [always] owned.'

As you can see; the Jews (those who practice Judaism) can never be considered righteous as long as they continue to trip over the 'stumbling stone,' their promised Messiah, Jesus.

For more information, see the linked document, JeruSalem and the IsraEl of God.

Gog the Grasshopper King

At Amos 7:1 in the Septuagint, we read about Gog the Grasshopper King, which is mentioned apparently in reference to the king of Assyria (who would thereafter attack the northern 10-tribe kingdom of IsraEl), or possibly in reference to the unseen force behind that great world power. For it says there: 'Then the Lord [came and] showed me {Look!} a breed of locusts that were coming early in the morning, led by Gog the grasshopper king.'

In Greek he is described as, βρουχος εις γωγ ο βασιλευς or, grasshoppers they/are of Gog the king.

Note that this term isn't found in the modern Hebrew text, which says, 'This is what the Almighty LORD showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts when the second crop was being harvested. It was the harvest that followed the harvest for the king' (GW).

Which is correct? We simply don't know.

Gospel Message

What is the message of the Gospel or 'Good News' that Jesus said was to be preached throughout the entire inhabited earth before 'the end' comes? According to the account at Matthew 24:14, it is to be 'the good news of the Kingdom.' And because most modern religions base their beliefs on what is written just in the book of Matthew, ignoring the Gospels of Mark and Luke, they teach that preaching the message of 'the Kingdom' should be the foremost. However, note that Luke quotes Jesus as saying something quite different just before he was taken to heaven (Luke 24:47): 'Then in his name, [the message of] repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be preached in all the nations, starting from JeruSalem.' Which is correct?

Yes, it could be true that Jesus said both things; but it is still interesting that Luke (whom the majority of Bible scholars agree wrote most accurately) records Jesus as giving us a different message on that occasion. So could Matthew's account of what Jesus said be wrong? Possibly, because (as we have pointed out several times in our Notes in the book of Matthew) it appears as though that book is one of the most corrupted of the Gospel texts. The likely reason for this corruption is that the current Greek version of Matthew's writing was probably translated from the original Hebrew or Aramaic sometime early in the Second Century CE, after the great 'turning away' that Paul had foretold (at 2 Thessalonians 2:3) had occurred. And it is clear that many changes were made to the Gospel of Matthew both at that time and through the ages that followed. For there are several places in Matthew's account that differ quite markedly from the other Gospels even when those Gospel writers are clearly quoting from Matthew (yes, Mark and Luke did quote from Matthew)!

You might also consider the message that John the Baptist (who was sent to 'prepare the way' for the coming of Jesus) was to preach. At Matthew 3:11 we read: 'Indeed, I baptize you in water [to show your] repentance. But the one who is coming after me is greater than I am. He will turn many sons of IsraEl back to Jehovah, their God.' And again at Luke 1:16, 17: 'He will travel before him in the power and spirit of EliJah, and he will prepare a people for the Lord by turning the hearts of fathers back to their children, and the [hearts] of those who don't obey to righteous good sense.' In other words, John's message was to be one of repentance and the need to return to righteous ways (which we so badly need today).

So are we saying that the 'Good News of the Kingdom' is not the message that should be preached? Obviously not, for that is what Jesus preached… and it is a good message of hope. However, using the questionable words of Matthew 24:14 to overshadow Jesus' instructions to preach 'repentance for forgiveness of sins' before his return seems an inappropriate choice in an age where faithlessness, immorality, dishonesty, and lack of love have become so rampant. Also, see the linked document, 'Christian Forgiveness and Repentance.'

But hasn't John's message already been preached? No, just look around. Does the world appear to have repented so that it is now ready for Jesus' second coming? Judge for yourselves.

Gospel of Matthew

Matthew (who was also known as Levi – pronounced Leh-vee, as in Levine) was one of the first disciples of Jesus, and was later appointed by him as an Apostle or Sent One. According to ancient Christian writers such as Origen (who wrote during the early 3rd Century), Matthew's account was the first recorded Gospel. Origen wrote: 'The first book was written by Matthew. This Gospel was composed in Hebrew near Jerusalem for Hebrew Christians and translated into Greek, but the Greek copy was lost.'

While it's true that we strongly disagree with many of Origin's personal religious views, which reflect the pagan influences that started entering Christianity during the early 2nd Century; our research of the book of Matthew indicates that Origen was probably right about it being the first written Gospel (regardless of what modern critics have said), and that it likely was written in either Hebrew or Aramaic, then later translated into Greek.

We also think that the first Greek copies of the Gospel of Matthew were in fact lost; for the many errors and additions as mentioned in these Notes indicate that the existing Greek text was in fact translated again and corrupted sometime in the 2nd Century by the same person or group that translated other 1st Century NT books into Greek. We have partly drawn this conclusion from the use of certain unusual Greek words (such as parousias) that are found only in later Greek translations of the writings of Matthew, Paul, James, Peter, and John (which were likely originally penned in Aramaic). For more information, see the linked document, 'Coming, Presence, or Nearness?'

Hades

The Greek word Hades (the Greeks pronounced it hah-dess) has been translated both as Hell (which many today think of as a place of torture) and as the Grave in other Bible versions (such as the King James). Since one word can't mean two very different things, which translation is correct?

Hades was originally the name of the Greek god of the underworld, but the term eventually came to mean 'the place of the dead,' and especially among Christians and Moslems, it started to be thought of as a place of torture of wicked souls. However, an insight into what the ancient early Christians understood the word to mean can be gained from looking at how it was applied in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (the 'Old Testament' Bible of Jesus' day). There the Hebrew word Sheol is translated into Greek as Hades in every instance; but if you look each instance up, you'll see that these are obvious references to the grave or the place of the dead, not to a place of conscious torture (see Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10 as an example). But was this the same meaning that Jesus and his Apostles gave to that word?

You might notice, for example, what Jesus' Apostle John wrote about what will happen to those in Hades as he described it at Revelation 20:13. In the NIV Bible translation (as well as in several other Bibles), the verse is rendered this way: 'The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.'

So notice that in this reference to Hades, people were spoken of as coming out of that place (being resurrected), and thereafter they were being judged. As you can see, Hades is probably better translated as grave in this instance, or even better as the place of the dead.

But notice that Hades isn't the only Greek word that is translated as Hell in the Bible. If you would like to see a complete list of these words and the descriptions of their true meanings, please see the linked document, Is There a Burning Hell?

HaMan

Why was HaMan so hated by MordecAi? The Bible account tells us that he was an AgAgite, which indicates that he probably was a descendant of AgAg, an ancient king of the Amalekites, which was a race that had been cursed by God and were virtually wiped out by King David. Also, according to the Midrash, Haman had an idolatrous image embroidered on his garments, so that those who bowed to him also had to bow to the image. And if this it true, it adds to the reasons why MordecAi refused to bow before him. The Midrash also says that Haman was an astrologer, and this may be confirmed by the method he chose to fix the time for the genocide of the Jews… by casting lots to determine the best day for their destruction.

But if HaMan was an Amalekite, then why was HaMan also referred to as a Macedonian at Esther 9:24? Reasons for this are also offered in the Wikipedia description of him (see the reference Haman), but it seems logical to us that after King David wiped out most of his race, any who remained would likely have left the land and assumed other nationality identifications.

Hate, Dislike, or Care Less for?

The Greek word meso means middle (as in the English term, meso soprano). However, it is often translated as middle, midst, among, and HATE in other Bibles. Obviously, hate (an extreme emotion) isn't conveyed by the word middle, which simply means less. For that reason, the word is translated as dislike (or the equivalent) herein, whenever it refers to the emotion. For more information, see the Strong's Concordance link to the word Miseo.

Heavens or Sky, Earth or Land?

In both the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT) and the Christian Era Scriptures (NT) we find the entire realm of creation divided into just three descriptions, the heavens (or sky), the earth (the land or ground), and the seas (or the waters) and rivers.

In contemporary English, we understand that there is a difference between the heavens and the sky, and the earth and the land (or ground). However, in both the Hebrew and Greek Bible texts, these fine distinctions that we accept because of our modern technology can't be found. So Genesis 1:1 is literally and very accurately translated herein as saying, 'In the beginning, The God created the sky and the land,' for this is what the words found there really mean, since it was the first man's view of creation from the place where he was standing. There was the land under him and the sky above him. He had no technical understanding of the earth as a planet or of a cosmos of stars, because men had never seen the earth as a globe floating in space as most of us have done today. So he had just one word to describe the earth, land, or ground, and just one word to describe the skies or the heavens (the realm of God). Therefore, to clarify what is actually meant in each instance where these single words are found, translators have used many English words to translate them. And as you will see, something as simple as selecting the wrong synonym can give us quite a different view of the meanings of some common Bible verses.

The Greek word ourano can be correctly translated as heaven, heavens, sky, and skies, depending on the context and tense. But if the translator chooses the wrong English word to translate ourano in a particular instance, most people will reach a wrong conclusion because of the nuance that the English word implies. You might notice, for example, the account of where the Prophet EliJah was snatched away in a celestial chariot (at 2 Kings 2:11). If you ask most people where they think he was taken, they'll say (as their Bibles put it), 'into heaven, where he went to live with God.' But this isn't true, because the Bible tells us that King JehoRam later received a letter from Elijah (see 2 Chronicles 21:12). So we must assume that God had used the celestial chariot to take him into 'the sky' (the proper translation here), where he was then sent to another place here on the earth. For more information as to why he couldn't have gone into the presence of god, see the linked document, The Hereafter.

So where is heaven? If you understand that the Bible word that is translated as 'heaven' (ourano) means any place that is above the ground of planet earth, it can be speaking of the atmosphere around us, or of open space, or of another planet or galaxy, or even of someplace outside of the space-time continuum, then you'll realize that we really have no idea of where God meets with His spirit sons (as mentioned in Job) or what it really looks like. And we have no concept of what 'being taken to heaven' really means.

Likewise, the Greek words ge, ges, and gen can be translated as earth, earths, ground, grounds, land, or lands, depending on the context and tense. So notice how a wrong choice of English words affects how we view what Jesus said at Matthew 5:5. This verse reads in Greek: 'Makarioi oi praeis hoti outoi kleronomesousin ten gen,' or, 'Blest the meek, for they will/inherit the (earth, ground, or land).' Some Bibles translate Jesus as saying, 'The meek will inherit the earth.' Yet other Bibles quote him as saying, 'The meek will inherit the land.' Do you see the difference that the nuances ('earth' or 'land') make here? Yet both word choices are equally correct and the meaning depends on what you prefer to believe. For another example of the problems that are created by the wrong use of the words ge, ges, and gen, see the linked document, 'Isaiah 24 - Is It Speaking of Armageddon?'.

You might also consider the symbolic words found at 2 Peter 3:5, 6, which we have translated as saying, 'The thing that they don't want to understand is this: That the ancient sky and land were out of the water, but (in obedience to God's instructions) they stood together between the waters.' Shouldn't this verse read 'heavens and earth,' as the words are translated in other Bibles?

Notice that Peter was talking about the things that had happened to the earth in the time of Noah, and he was explaining where all the water came from. As you can see, he said that the ancient sky and land was once located 'between the waters'… that is, the water that was under the ground and the water that was up in the sky above him. And he was saying that the water came from both above and below. So no, the water didn't come from the heavenly presence of God, it came from somewhere in or above earth's atmosphere, and from under the ground.

And what did John see at Revelation 21:1? Did he see 'a new heavens and new earth,' or a 'new sky and new land,' as we have quoted him as saying? Well, he actually saw something disappear and then something new come into existence. We doubt that he saw the globe of the earth (of which he had no concept) and the place where God lives disappear. But rather, it is more likely that he saw the land beneath him and the sky above him disappear, to be replaced by a new land and a new sky.

Hebrew Songs and Poetry

While we as translators claim no in-depth knowledge of the Hebrew language (this is a Bible translation of the Greek Septuagint test), we do find its poetry, blessings, and songs interesting and beautiful. For rather than putting the words together in a rhyme as we do in English, where ending words must sound alike, the sentences fit together so that the thoughts follow each other in an orderly way that makes them easy to remember and to sing. For by this method, as long as a person understands the thought, the poetry can be correctly repeated even when slightly different words are used.

You'll notice that many Hebrew songs were broken into four lines per verse, the thoughts of which followed in a logical order. A classic illustration of the style of Hebrew poetry (though this format isn't always followed) can be found at Psalm 18:4, 5, which says:
'By the pangs of death, I once was surrounded…
I was being attacked by floods of the lawless.
Of the place of the dead, I was in fear…
And I was expecting death's snares.'
However, we don't always find such symmetry, possibly due to our misunderstanding of the Ancient Hebrew methods or words, or due to their simply being lost over time.

In this Bible you will find entire books (such as Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc.) and most of the words of God in the prophetic works (such as in Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.) written as poetry. We have rendered the words this way, because in the translating process we could see (from the order and progression) that the words were originally written either as poetry or songs. And we found this to be especially true where God and His messengers are the ones who did the speaking.

Why did they speak that way? It was probably done so that the words could be remembered and sung, for songs were the ancient method of mass communication before the printed page. In fact, many of Jesus' parables were spoken and recorded as poetry… the beatitudes in Matthew 5 are a good example of this.

Notice that wherever we found the natural poetic rhythm in our translating, we have tried to restore the cadence for your benefit. This requires some rearranging and the addition or removal of extraneous words, but we have zealously worked to maintain the true meanings of the texts.

Why did we do this? Well, not only does it provide a more pleasant reading, but also in places where the lyrics can't be resolved, it is easy to see where something may have been lost through the years due to poor translation or deliberate forgery. Note Proverbs 25 and 26 for example; for the lack of natural cadence and harmony makes us wonder whether something has been lost in copying or translating.

Also note two verses of the song that the IsraElite women were singing when Saul and David returned from a battle, as found at 1 Samuel 18:7:
'Saul has cut down his thousands,
And David his tens of thousands.'
Although these were just two lines of a much longer victory song, the particular words offended King Saul, for he felt that David was being considered more important than he was. Yet if you understand Hebrew poetry, you can see that the words were just part of a natural poetic progression and they weren't necessarily chosen to offend Saul. Rather, he was being a bit over-sensitive.

Hebrews, IsraElites, Jews, and Semites

We often hear people using the words Hebrews, IsraElites, Jews, and Semites interchangeably, as though they refer to the same people, and they don't necessarily. AbraHam and all his descendants were Hebrews, for they all descended from Abram's (or AbraHam's) great, great, great grandfather Heber. However, many other lines of descent also came from that man, so many other races could likely be called Hebrews.

The first mention of the word Hebrew is found at Genesis 14:13, where AbraHam was referred to as being one. And thereafter, IsaAc, IshMaEl, and AbraHam's other sons were also called Hebrews, as were Jacob, Esau, and all their descendants.

The first IsraElites (who were also Hebrews) were the twelve sons of Jacob, whom God renamed IsraEl. Thereafter, their families were often referred to as both the 'Sons of IsraEl' and as 'Hebrews.' Then during the time of King David, a split developed between the tribe of Judah (the Jews) and the rest of the tribes who called themselves 'IsraEl.' For during the first portion of David's reign, he ruled over just Judah; and then later, both he and Solomon ruled over all the tribes… a reunited IsraEl.

However, the split between the tribes arose once again after the rule of Solomon, when the northern ten tribes rebelled and created their own kingdom, which they called IsraEl, as they removed themselves from the kingship of the southern two tribes (Judah and BenJamin), who were thereafter referred to in English as the Jews.

There were also many people who came to be called both Jews and IsraElites that weren't really from the lines of either Judah or IsraEl, because God's Law allowed foreigners to become a part of their nation. In fact RaHab, the prostitute of JeriCho (who was a CanaAnite, not a Semite, Hebrew, or IsraElite) became the ancestress of Kings David, Solomon, and eventually Jesus… as was also true of the Moabite, Ruth.

The Anglicized term 'Jew' is an English corruption of the word 'Judean.' And although Jesus and many of his disciples were in fact Judeans, they were often referred to by people who lived in the Roman province of Judea as Galileans, because they came from an area outside Judea near the Sea of Galilee, which was separated from Judea by settlements of Samaritans. Therefore, when Jesus and his disciples spoke of 'the Jews,' they often meant the people who lived in and around the city of JeruSalem.

The term 'Semite' even predates the term 'Hebrew,' because it refers to descendants of Noah's son Shem… which likely covers at least a third of the peoples on the earth. So when someone accuses another of being 'anti-Semitic,' he or she is actually accusing the person of being biased against a broad range of peoples, including many so-called Arab nations. For many peoples of the Middle East are also Hebrews, and some are direct descendants of AbraHam and even IsraEl (Jacob).

Holidays (Contributed)

When Paul wrote at Romans 14:5, 'One considers a day as more important than other days, while another considers each day as all the rest,' it is clear that the problem he was addressing had to do with Jewish Christians trying to convince the Gentile Christians that it was necessary for them to observe the special days, festivals, and Sabbaths as they are prescribed in the Law of Moses. And Paul was simply pointing out that they didn't have to observe those days any longer. So when he went on to write (in verse 6), 'Those who observe a certain day [as holy] should observe it to the Lord,' you can see that he wasn't encouraging Christians to celebrate pagan holidays if they so wished; but rather, he was saying that Gentile Christians were under no obligation to celebrate Old-Law holidays or to follow Old-Law dietary restrictions.

In Paul's letter to the Romans, you can see that he was partly writing to address problems that had arisen between the Christian Jews and Gentiles in the congregation there… in fact, it's the same problem that he had to address in many of his writings to other congregations also. For example; in this case, there were apparently jealousies and feelings of superiority on the part of both Jewish and Gentile Christians (see Romans 3:1, 9). So Paul's purpose was to try to settle the differences and to bring the Christians toward complete unity as one man in Jesus (Romans 3:22; 12:5). For as you can see throughout the rest of Chapter 14, Paul went on to say that those who don't feel comfortable eating food that is forbidden under the Jewish Law shouldn't be judged, and that those who do eat such food shouldn't be judged either. So, this was the point he was also making about Jewish holidays in verses 4 and 5… Christians shouldn't be judging each other over such trivial matters.

Homosexual Relationship Between JoNathan and David?

These words are found at 1 SamuEl 18:1: 'As Saul was speaking, [the heart of his son] JoNathan became bound to David… he loved him as much as his own life.'

This verse is often quoted to prove that King David had a male lover in JoNathan. However, the Greek word (in the Septuagint) that is used for 'love' here, agape, seems to disprove that idea; for if this were a physical, sexual love, the word that would have been used is eros, which implies a sexual attraction. On the other hand, agape (the kind of love that JoNathan had for David) refers to something that is principled or pure.

Homosexuality and Bestiality

If you search the Internet for references to Leviticus 18:22, you will find hundreds of them. Some of these are used to prove that God forbids homosexuality, and many others are written to argue against that thought. So let's consider what the Greek Bible text actually says. The words are, 'Kai meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten bdelugma gar estin,' or, 'And with males not bed as/bed women, disgusting for is.'

From the wording, it is clear that the Old Law was forbidding male/male intercourse here, calling the acts disgusting (gr. bdelugma), and in the words that follow, it seems to draw a parallel to human/animal intercourse. For in the next verse (Leviticus 18:23) it continues: 'Nor may you lie down and have sex with any animal, for that would pollute you. Nor should any woman offer herself before any animal to have sex with it, because that would be disgusting.'

However, remember that this Law was given to and just applied to those who lived among the people of IsraEl (not to all mankind). And as Paul pointed out; this old Law was superseded by the new Sacred Agreement and its Law of love. So may we conclude that God no longer has a law against such things? Yes, that is so… but that doesn't mean He condones it. For at 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, Paul listed 'gays (gr. malakoi) and men who have sex with men (gr. arsenokoitai)' with adulterers and other sexually immoral people; and he said that such ones wouldn't 'inherit God's Kingdom.'

Also, Paul wrote (at Romans 1:26-28), 'And this is why God abandoned them to their dishonorable passions; for their females have changed the natural use of themselves into something that's unnatural, and the same is true of their males! They've left the natural use of females and started burning in their lust toward each other – males with males – doing what is indecent and receiving the type of reward they deserve for such wrongdoing. And because they don't approve of coming to an accurate knowledge of The God, He has given them depraved minds, which make them do these wrong things.'

But does this mean that people who do such things are 'eternally damned,' as many believe? No, it just means that God does not view them as righteous. Therefore, they apparently still have a hope of a resurrection. For more information, see the linked documents, 'The Hereafter,' 'The Resurrection,' and 'Christian Morality.'

Honest Judge

As you read the Bible, you will notice that one of the things God views as most disgusting is when people are treated – or when they treat others – unjustly. This is a point that is made repeatedly when God was explaining why He brought destruction upon Judah and IsraEl, and it's something that's discussed throughout the Proverbs.

However, despite God's views on this, men often fail to understand the serious situation in which they put themselves whenever they judge others. For as Jesus said (at Matthew 7:1), 'Do not judge others, so you won't be judged.
For the [rules] by which you judge others,
Are the rules they will use to judge you,
And the standards you're setting for them,
Are the standards that they'll set for you.'

So the point is: Whenever we are judging others, God is judging us. And while our judgment on others may have a temporary effect, our lack of thought or poor motivation in passing judgment on others may bring the wrath of God upon us… for He will judge us as we have judged them.

Also notice Paul's charge to Timothy at 1 Timothy 5:21: 'Don't jump to any conclusions before you hear the evidence, and never make a decision because you are biased one way or the other.' Good advice for all.

Hope of All Creation

At Romans 8:19-21 we read: 'Indeed, [all] creation is awaiting and earnestly expecting the revealing of the sons of The God. For creation wasn't subjected to futility willingly, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in the hope that all creation will also be set free from bondage to decay and then enter the glorious freedom of the children of The God!'

What is Paul really saying here? One religious authority wrote: 'Do beasts and plants hope to attain the glorious freedom of the children of God? No! All creation, then, can refer only to mankind.'

Is this conclusion correct? If so, then Paul just didn't use the right words! For, why would he have said creation (gr. ktisis), when he really meant mankind (gr. anthropois)?

Let's assume for a moment that Paul actually meant the words that he wrote ('all creation will also be set free from bondage to decay and then enter the glorious freedom of the children of The God!') and see if this promise can come true for something other than just humankind.

First, what is the glorious freedom of the children of The God? From numerous other scriptures, we can conclude that this freedom will come as the result of the new heavens or new skies… the rulership of Jesus and those whom he selects to rule as kings with him. Will such a righteous rule be a blessing to more than mankind? We think so.

For example: Will animals benefit from the rule of God's Kingdom? At Genesis 1:28, God gave men the following commission: 'And God blest them, saying, Reproduce, multiply, fill the earth and control it. Rule over the fish of the seas, the winged creatures of the skies, all the herding animals of the ground, all the slithering animals that crawl on the ground, and the whole earth.'

However, it appears as though the first humans (Adam and Eve) relinquished this privilege of rulership over the earth and its animals, when they sinned and submitted to the Slanderer, effectively handing their commission over to him. The net effect of this over the past seven thousand or more years, is that men have lost their right to rule over the earth and its creatures in the way that God originally intended. This is why Paul wrote (at Hebrews 2:8): 'So when [God] puts everything under [his feet], He doesn't leave anything over which [men] aren't in charge. However, we don't see everything obeying us yet.'

No, as Paul said, 'We don't see everything obeying us yet.' Nor do we see this world in general responding to Jesus' righteous rule. However, Paul wrote that this situation will all change under the rulership of the children of God. For when the commission that God gave humans over this earth and its creatures is fully restored, we can scarcely imagine what powers will be returned to mankind. With no opposition and each man endowed with a full measure of the power of God's Breath, the blessings to this earth, its creatures, and ALL CREATION can be virtually limitless.

See the linked contributed poem, 'Animals Our Wards.'

Horeb

On which mountain did Moses meet with God… Sinai or Horeb? Actually, both names seem to be mentioned interchangeably in most Bibles. For at Exodus 34:2, Moses was told: 'So be ready to climb Mount Sinai in the morning, then stand there [and wait] for Me on top of the Mountain.' But at Exodus 33:6, we find that the IsraElites were gathered at Mount Horeb. Why were both names used?

Well, Horeb may not have actually been a name, but a description that was mistranslated as a name… something that has happened with several other words in the Bible. Ho'reb is a Hebrew word for dry, which aptly describes this land in the Sin (pronounced Seen and/or Sheen) Desert, near the southern tip of Arabia. For it is close to where Moses, by the power of God, struck the rock to bring out water for the people to drink, since there was no other source of water there.

Sinai may have gotten its name from its prominent place toward the end of the Sin Desert; for, Sin-ai could possibly mean, the City in the Sin (Desert). However, Hebrew scholars say that Sinai means bush, referring to the burning bush where God spoke to Moses.

House to House?

Most Bible translations render Paul's words at Acts 20:20 as saying that he had taught 'publicly and from house to house.' Yet, that isn't exactly what he said; for the Greek words were actually, 'demosia kai kat oikous,' or, 'in/public and according/to house.' So notice that there is no mention of moving between houses. Therefore, The New Living Translation rendered Paul's words as, 'publicly or in your homes,' and The Bible in Basic English renders them as 'publicly and privately.' So, what was Paul saying?

Well, to better understand the actual meaning of the words, it is important to look at the context. Notice the entire setting, as laid out in verses seventeen through twenty-one: 'However, [while he was] in Miletus, he sent word to Ephesus to call the elders of the congregation to him. And when they arrived, he told them: You know very well that from the first day I stepped into Asia, I was with you all along, humbly slaving for the Lord. And [you know] of all the tears and trials I endured because of the plots of the Jews. Yet, I didn't fail to remind you and teach you both in public and in [your] homes; for I gave a thorough witness to both Jews and Greeks about [the need to] repent before God and [to have] faith in our Lord Jesus.'

As you can see, Paul wasn't saying that he went from house to house preaching to people. Rather, he was reminding the elders of how he had preached to them both publicly and in the privacy of their homes.

So does this mean that Paul didn't preach from house to house? No, for there is little record of how early Christians preached the Word of Christianity so successfully. Therefore, we can't say for sure what means they used to do this. The only record we have tells us that Paul spoke in public places such as in synagogues, in auditoriums, and in the local markets. Nowhere does the Bible tell us that early Christians went knocking on the doors of strangers to spread The Word. However, notice the instructions that Jesus gave to his Apostles when he first sent them out to do preaching, as described at Luke 10:5-7: 'Then, as you enter each house you should say, May this house have peace. And if a son of peace lives there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you. So, stay in that house and eat and drink the things they provide, because a worker deserves his wages… don't keep moving from one house to another.'

House, Temple, or Palace?

Throughout the Bible, the Greek word that is used in most places to describe the Temple of Jehovah is Oikos (pronounced Oy-koss), or House. That is also true when it comes to describing the building where the king lived (it just says 'house'). However, for clarification, we have usually chosen to translate oikos as Temple when it is speaking of the place of worship of Jehovah, and as palace when speaking of the king's house. We have done this, because neither of these buildings were just regular houses, and the words Temple and palace better describe their appearance and use in contemporary American English.

There is a Greek word that actually means Temple, which is also used many times in the Bible; it is hiero. And another Greek word that is frequently (incorrectly) translated as Temple, is naos (pronounced nah-oss), but this refers the Temple's Most Holy or inner sanctuary.

How David Pictured Jesus

You can see proof of the Bible's inspiration by God and of some of its prophetic significances in the songs of King David as found in the book of Psalms. For there are numerous verses in the Psalms that exactly mirror the words and actions of Jesus, as well as many of the things that happened to him. Note for example, what David wrote at Psalm 22:16-18:
'Many dogs have me surrounded,
And the wicked are gathering around me.
They're cutting into my hands and my feet;
They count all my bones as they watch me and think.
They've divided my garments among them,
And thrown dice for the clothes that I wear.'

As you can see, the words of this Psalm foretold things that actually happened to Jesus at the time of his death. So as you read the Psalms, look for the many parallels and prophecies that foretell the words and earthly life of Jesus.

Psalm 110 in particular appears to have been written under inspiration with Jesus in mind, for Jesus applied this scripture to himself at Matthew 22:43-45, Peter applied it to him at Acts 2:35, and so did Paul both at 1 Corinthians 15:25 and in the book of Hebrews. So there is no question that this Psalm specifically referred to the coming of Jesus.

In addition; have you noticed that David often referred to himself as the Christ? You may not have, because the Greek word christon (christ) and its Hebrew equivalent meshiac (messiah) are usually translated as anointed wherever these words are found in Old Testament texts of most Bibles. Yet, David could truly refer to himself as the christ (or, the messiah), because he (like Jesus) had been anointed to be the king over all IsraEl by The God.

How Large Was Nineveh?

It has long been argued that the Bible is wrong (once again) when it speaks of the size of the city of Nineveh at Jonah 3:3. For in the Masoretic (Hebrew) text this verse reads (according to GOD'S WORD® Translation): 'Jonah immediately went to Nineveh as the LORD told him. Nineveh was a very large city. It took three days to walk through it.' Yet, archaeological evidence proves that the city simply wasn't that large. So was Jonah's account wrong?

Notice, for example, these comments as excerpted from the online page, The Skeptical Review: 'Realistically, we could expect Nineveh to have a walled circumference of approximately three miles, assuming that the population figures are accurate. Interestingly, archeologists have found walls that likely were Nineveh, and they were about three miles around. So, Nineveh was not a three-day journey in breadth, unless Jonah was a really slow walker.'

Actually, the error doesn't appear to be an inaccuracy in Jonah's account. Rather, it looks like the error is in the wording of the Hebrew text. For notice that the Septuagint (Greek) text says (Jonah 3:3, 4): 'So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, just as Jehovah had told him, which took him three days (for God considered Nineveh a great city). Then when Jonah entered the city, he spent the day traveling through it proclaiming, In just three days, Nineveh will be wiped away!''

So according to the Septuagint, it only took Jonah a day to walk through the city proclaiming his message; but it appears as though it took him three days to get to the city from wherever he was at the time! For more information on the accuracies of both the Masoretic and Septuagint texts, see the document, 'Why the Greek Septuagint?

Hypocrite

Hypocrite is a Greek word that is just spelled a little differently than it is in English (hypokritai). However, we give the English word a nuance that isn't implied in Greek. The first part of the Greek word, hypo, means under, and the second part, kritai, means judge (it's where we get the English words critical and criticize). So in the Bible, a hypocrite is a 'lesser judge,' or one who is very judgmental of the actions or conduct of others. This differs from the meaning in English: Someone who doesn't follow his own advice.

The Scribes and Pharisees were referred to as Hypocrites in the Bible, because they condemned the actions of others. And like anyone who tends to be critical of others, they likely failed in the same ways in which they condemned others… and that would also make them also fit the English definition. However, the Bible meaning is basically, 'judgmental.'

Being too judgmental is a very serious flaw, which is common to those who think of themselves as being very righteous. It is reported that the Pharisees especially thought themselves to be more righteous than others, and it was their opinion that they would be the only ones to be found righteous by God. But notice what Jesus said would happen to those who are too judgmental (Matthew 7:1):

'Don't judge [others], so you won't be judged.
For the [rules] that you use to judge others,
Are the rules they will use to judge you;
And the standards you are setting for them,
Are the standards that they'll set for you.'

Image of DaniEl Chapter Two

In DaniEl Chapter Two, we read of how King NebuChadnezzar of Babylon saw a huge image in a dream that had a head of gold, hands chest and shoulders of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of iron and baked clay (pottery). Then DaniEl explained that King NebuChadnezzar (or the world empire of Babylon that he founded) was the head of gold, and that his kingdom (or empire) would be followed by a lesser king (the one of silver), which turned out to be the empire of Persia, along with their ally and close neighbor, the Medes.

DaniEl described the next empire (the one of brass) as one that would 'dominate the whole earth,' which aptly describes the empire of Greece under Alexander the Great. And the next 'king' or empire (the legs of iron) was described by him as being 'as strong as iron. For as iron crushes and tames all things, it will tame and crush everything.' This of course described Rome under the first Caesars. But which empire (king) is represented by the feet of iron and baked clay? We know that it has to be a last empire, since the account says that it will be replaced (crushed) by God's Kingdom.

There have been several world empires since the time of Roman domination; the Mongols, the Huns, the French, the Spanish, the British, and the Americans. However, the Bible only speaks of one empire after Rome. So, which would that be?

The first clue comes from the Greek words used in verse 41, where we read (in part), 'kai apo tes rizes tes sideras estai en on,' or, 'and from the roots of/the iron is in it.' So we must conclude that this 'king' is rooted in the Roman Empire, and this could refer to Spain, France, or England, for they all had deep Roman roots… but which one?

The next clue comes from the words found in verses 42 and 43, which say, 'And because the toes of the feet are part iron and part baked clay; part of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be broken. For as you saw the iron mixed with the baked clay, [this kingdom] will be mixed with the seed of men… they won't stick to each other, as iron won't stick to baked clay.'

As you can see, this kingdom is to be 'mixed with the seed of men.' Does that mean it was to be made up of many races? If so, that well describes the vast British Empire and its many former colonies, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. And since each of these former British colonies has claimed their independence, they haven't stuck together and they don't always agree. However, this could also describe the modern European Union.

The final clue is the fact that these governments are the last. So if the prophecy in DaniEl pictures them, we would assume from the prophecy that God's Kingdom will soon 'hit the image on its feet of iron and baked clay and completely shatter them,' bringing in the long-awaited 'Kingdom of God.'

Immediate Resurrection to Heaven?

The teaching that people will receive an immediate resurrection into heaven after their deaths is one of the most common doctrines of modern 'Christian' religions. However, Jesus (in the Revelation) spoke of the resurrection as happening in 'the last day,' and nowhere did he (or the Bible) say that people have 'immortal souls' that immediately speed off to 'the light' at their deaths. Yet, most of these religions now teach that souls don't have to wait until the last day for the resurrection. Paul spoke of a similar thing that some in the First Century congregations were teaching at 2 Timothy 2:17, 18, where he wrote: 'That was the problem with Hymenaeus and Philetus. They got away from the truth and started teaching that the resurrection has already happened, which misdirected the faith of some.'

For more information, see the document, the Resurrection.

'In' and 'One'

The Greek word εν (en) simply means in. However, it has been translated as in, on, among, one, and in union with. It's important to understand how this small word should be properly translated, especially when it's being used in the Bible to describe the relationship between God, Jesus, and Jesus' faithful disciples.

Also notice that adding an apostrophe (or an 'h') to the word ('εν – hen), slightly changes its meaning. We find an example of its use at John 10:30, which basically says, 'The father and I are one.' And though 'hen' is about the same word as 'en' (just a slight change in tense), you'll find that it has been translated (in the New American Standard Bible, for example) as one (282 times), agreement (1), alike (1), alone (3), common (1), detail (1), first (9), individual (2), individually (1), lone (1), man (1), nothing (1), one another (1), one man (2), one thing (5), one (2), person (1), single (1), smallest (1), someone (2), unity (1). Yes, such a wide variety of translating is strange but not uncommon, for you'll find translators doing the same thing to many other Bible words, usually in an attempt to slant the meanings toward their own religious conclusions.

So at John 10:30, was Jesus saying that he was one of three personalities of God, as many teach? Well, notice how Jesus later used the same word when describing his relationship with his disciples (at John 14:20): 'εν εκεινη τη ημερα υμεις γνωσεσθε οτι εγω εν τω Ļατρι μου και υμεις εν εμοι καγω εν υμιν,' or, 'In that the day you will know that I in (εν) the Father of me, and you in (εν) me, and I in (εν) you.'

So if what Jesus said at John 10:30 meant that he is the same person as (or is another personality that is part of) his Father, then what he said as recorded at John 14:20 would mean that all of Jesus' followers will become the same persons as him and his Father… thus we would all become Jesus and God! However, a more logical conclusion would be that, as Jesus and his Father are at one in mind and purpose, the righteous will join them in this perfect union.

For more information, see the linked document, 'Who Was Jesus?'

Incest

The first law that God gave forbidding incest is found in Leviticus Chapter Eighteen. Notice there, that the problems of incest can go beyond the physical defects that can result from inbreeding. Rather, in the eyes of God there is also the matter of propriety and respect; for at Leviticus 18:6-8, we read: 'No man may approach a close relative and uncover his/her nakedness, for I am Jehovah. Don't uncover your father's naked [body] or your mother's naked [body]… she's your mother, so don't [undress] her! Nor should you uncover the naked [body] of your stepmother, because [that is the same as uncovering] your father's naked [body].'

However, in the most ancient times, when there were few humans on the earth, having a sexual relationship with anyone other than a close relative wasn't even an option, for there were only close relatives. And in the case of AbraHam, IsaAc, and Jacob, for example, marriage to anyone other than a close relative was considered unwise due to the corrupt practices of the nations that lived around them. So AbraHam married his half sister, and both IsaAc and Jacob married first cousins.

Therefore, recognize that while marrying a close relative isn't necessarily a sin against God, obtaining illicit sexual gratification from a close relative is viewed as particularly reprehensible by Him. For more information, see the linked document, Christian Morality.

In the Name Of

The words found at Matthew 28:19 in other Bibles, 'in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,' are not found in the ancient Shem Tov (Hebrew) manuscript of Matthew, and our conclusion is that these words are spurious (something that was added to the Bible). For notice how differently the Disciple Luke described these same parting words of Jesus at Luke 24:47: 'Then in his (the Son of Man's) name, [the message of] repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be preached in all the nations, starting from JeruSalem.' And at Acts 1:8, Luke wrote that Jesus also said this at his departure: 'However, you will receive power when the Holy Breath comes over you, and you'll be witnesses of me in JeruSalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.'

So as you can see; Luke quoted Jesus as saying something quite different before he ascended to heaven and he didn't even mention what has become known as the Trinitarian formula. Therefore we would have to ask: Why would Luke have missed such a critical detail if Jesus had in fact said those words, since they are now considered the most important words in the baptism? And this raises the question of whether he did actually tell us that we should be baptized in those names.

Understand that the reason why these words are called the Trinity Formula is because this is one of just two places in such Bibles as the King James Version that ties the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or Ghost) together… and the other instance (at 1 John 5:7) is recognized by most honest Bible translators as being a later spurious addition to the original Bible text (see the Note 1 John 5:7, 8).

Unfortunately, there are no complete manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew that go back farther than the 4th Century, and all the existing manuscripts that we have (other than the Shem Tov) contain this phrase. However, there is very strong evidence that those words are a 4th Century corruption of the original text; for in his earliest writings, the ancient Church 'bishop' EuSebius quoted this verse as saying something quite different. Some eighteen times between the years 300 and 336-CE, he cited Matthew 28:19, 20 as saying, 'Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.'

So notice that according to these quotations of Eusebius, there was no mention of being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… in fact, there was no mention of baptism at all! Therefore, this gives us even more reason to believe that the 'Trinitarian Formula' found at Matthew 28:19 is spurious.

Then, how could this change have entered the Bible text? Well, it's interesting that the traditional Trinitarian reading of Matthew 28:19 only appears in EuSebius' writings after the Council of Nicaea, where the Trinity began to be held as official Church doctrine. So evidence strongly indicates that the words were inserted later (by him or by others) in the same way and for the same reason that 1 John 5:7-8 was changed… to provide support to the teaching of the Trinity doctrine.

Who was EuSebius? He was one of the most important instigators of change in the early 'Christian' religion, since he was the person who had the ear of and who supported the then pagan Roman Emperor Constantine; for he helped Constantine to see the political advantages of ending the persecution of Christians and in establishing Christianity as the official state religion of Rome. He was also involved in creating 'the Council of Nicaea,' in which the Trinity was established as official Church doctrine. So it is ironic that we only have EuSebius' earlier quotations of Matthew 28:19, 20 to prove the current popular rendering spurious.

However, realize that this finding may cut both ways for some, because, while it breaks apart the only mention of the Trinity trio in the Bible, it does seem to prove what some Trinitarians have said all along… that baptisms should only be done in the name of Jesus. So, since there is no place in the Bible that says baptism should be done in the Name of the Father or the Holy Breath, the only other instructions in the Bible on how to baptize people say this:

Š Acts 2:38: 'Repent and each of you get baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One, so your sins can be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Breath.'

Š Acts 8:15, 16: 'They went [to the Samaritans] and prayed for them to receive the Holy Breath, because it hadn't come to any of them yet, although they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.'

Š Acts 10:48: 'So he commanded that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One.'

Š Acts 19:5: 'When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.'

Š Romans 6:3: 'Don't you realize that all who were baptized into the Anointed Jesus were also baptized into his death?'

Š Galatians 3:27: 'All who were baptized into the Anointed One have put on the Anointed One.'

Is Jesus God?

The simple answer is, Yes, Jesus is a god… that is, if you understand what the word god means. This wording may be a bit difficult to grasp for those of us who were raised in a monotheistic society where God refers to just One. However, remember that the Greeks (whose language we are translating) were a polytheistic society (they worshiped many gods), and to them the word theos (god) was used to describe many others in their pantheon (all gods), who were viewed as being simply more powerful than mere mortals. So to them, theos just meant a powerful one, not the Creator (which is what the Hebrew name Jehovah implies – The One who causes to be).

To prove that translating the word theos as powerful (as we have done at John 1:1) is correct; notice how the Bible speaks of the unfaithful messengers of God as gods at Psalm 82:6, which is the scripture that Jesus quoted at John 10:34-36), where it says:
'I said to them, You are gods
Of the Most High, you are sons!
'

Also, notice that at Exodus 7:1, God told Moses: 'Look! I've made you a god to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron is your Prophet.'

So the terms god and gods just refer to the powerful. And even men can be gods… that is, in the truest sense of the word's meaning (powerful ones). Thus, a word-for-word literal translation of John 1:1 can read, 'In the beginning was the Word. The Word was toward the Powerful One, and powerful was the Word.'

Then why did we use the term God rather than Powerful One at John 1:1 to describe The God? We've left the first term (God) in place because that's what people call the Divine One today.

So is the Logos the God or just god (powerful)? From the context of John 1:1, it appears as though Jesus (the Logos) is theos – powerful – but not The God (gr. ton Theon). For notice that Jesus described himself as simply God's son (gr. Uios tou Theou eimison of/the God I/am) at John 10:36.

Also notice that at John 1:1, the words Logos (λογος) and Theon (θεον) are both preceded by the word The (ο λογος and τον θεον), except in the case where the Logos is referred to simply as theos (θεος). By employing such wording, John was obviously differentiating Jesus from The God. You can clearly see the differences in the words when you read John 1:1, 2, which says in Greek: 'Eν αρχη ην ο λογος, και ο λογος ην Ļρος τον θεον, και θεος ην ο λογος. Oυτος ην εν αρχη Ļρος τον θεον.' Or, 'In ancient/time was the Word and the Word was with the God and god was the Word. He/was in ancient/time with (or toward) the God'

Through the years we've heard many anti-trinitarians argue that the reason why John 1:1 reads as it does, implying to some that there is a duality (not a trinity since only two are described here) is because there are no indefinite articles in Greek. Therefore, they say that 'the Word' should be described as 'a God' in English to distinguish him from The God. Yet you can see that the definite article 'the' actually appears several times in this sentence though it's not included in most Bible translations… three times before Logos and twice before God, who is described there and in most other places throughout the Greek text of the Bible as 'The God.' So notice that if John was writing that the Word was the same as The God, he would have written, 'and the Word was The God.' Yet he didn't, because, although the word 'God' is often thought of as a noun in this sentence, in the instance where it was used in reference to 'the Word,' it is just a description of the Word as being god-like in his power.

That the early Christians didn't view Jesus as The God is supported by the fact that Christians still worshiped at the Temple of Jehovah in JeruSalem until it was destroyed in 70-CE (see Acts 3:1-3). This is because Christian Jews didn't consider Christianity to be a new religion with a new god (Jesus), but rather, they considered it the natural outgrowth of the old religion where Jesus was the promised 'Messiah' or 'Anointed One of God' who was to assume 'the throne of David his father.'

As you can see; although Jesus (who is referred to as 'the Word' here) was called 'powerful' (or godlike), the following verses clearly go on to explain that he wasn't 'The God.' But that, like Moses, he was a god or powerful one.

For more information, see the document, Who Was Jesus?

To see how Jesus was described at John 1:1 in the most ancient Coptic texts (where he is described as being 'a God'), see the link, Coptic John.

Isaiah 14:12 (contributed)

At Isaiah 14:12 we find a word that is often translated as bright (or shining) one. But the words in Hebrew and Aramaic texts are heh-lehl eill, which is a form of the Hebrew stem yah-lahl ill. And the meaning of ill is howl! So, why has it been translated as bright or shining in almost all modern texts?

It has been suggested that the translators of the Septuagint could have overlooked the smallest of the Hebrew letters or used a copy in which it had been inadvertently omitted. And if the form of the word eill (as it occurs in this particular text) was shortened to ell, its meaning would be corrupted, which appears to be what happened. For Kittel's Hebrew Text reads ah-lahl, or HOWL.

And notice that the Hebrew verb eill in Isaiah 14:12 is identical to the word found at Zechariah 11:2, where the trees are shown to be howling (not bright ones). For it says there:
'And howl, O you oaks of BaShan;
For the groves that you've planted have all been cut down.'

So a correct translation of Isaiah 14:12 will read: 'O how you have fallen from the sky; Shriek, O one that arises at dawn, for you who [once conquered] all nations, have now been broken to the ground.' Notice that this rendering fits the context perfectly; for the King of Babylon likely shrieked or howled, as he was broken to the ground.

IsraEl's Sin Over Meat

If you were to ask most people what the IsraElites had to eat during the forty years that they trekked in the desert, most would answer 'manna.' And as the result, many have tended to sympathize with the IsraElites who complained that they wanted more things to eat, because the impression such a conclusion gives is that the only food God provided for His people at the time was just a prison ration of bread (manna) and water… NOT TRUE!

Notice their actual complaint. At Numbers 11:4-8 we read, 'Who is going to give us meat to eat? We remember all the fish that we used to eat in Egypt, as well as the cucumbers, melons, leeks, garlic, and onions. But now our lives have become [empty], because all we can see is this manna.'

Was that the true situation? Well, remember that the main occupation of these people (and the main source of their wealth) was their huge flocks and herds of cattle (see Genesis 46:32 and Exodus 12:38). So they really had plenty of meat to eat if they chose. In fact, most of the meat of the holy sacrifices they were to offer on sacred occasions was returned to them for their own consumption.

Then, what were they complaining about? Well, notice who really started the complaining. Verse four says, 'It was the [Gentiles] who were mixed among them that started [complaining].' So the instigators were probably Egyptians and others who weren't used to a shepherd's diet. Rather, what they missed was the markets of Egypt, where a person could go every day and purchase meats of all sorts and a wide variety of vegetables (cucumbers, melons, leeks, garlic, and onions). However, they did have beef, lamb, and all the miraculous manna that they cared to eat, which was in fact their primary staple (as bread had always been to the ancients), and it could be prepared in different ways.

Of course, the 'meat' that the Gentiles among them seemed to be missing was the large variety of animals that they used to consume in Egypt prior to the restrictions that came with God's Laws. So the complaint doesn't really seem to be that they didn't have meat, but rather, that they probably didn't like the restrictions that God's Laws made as to what types of meat they could eat (as well as about their lack of fresh fish, vegetables, and fruit in the desert).

How did God solve this problem? By sending them the 'meat' that they asked for in such an abundance that they virtually became sick of eating it. Yet, notice that the wild game that He provided (quail) was still allowed under His Law.

Another common misunderstanding about this matter is why God thereafter send a plague on the people for eating the quail. We have heard many answers to this in past years, such as, 'They ate without giving thanks,' or, 'They didn't take time to drain the blood.' However, the Bible just doesn't give us an answer. All we know is that 'greed' was involved, since that place was thereafter referred to in the Bible as 'The Graveyard of the Greedy.' You might notice, for example, the quantity of meat that was slaughtered and consumed; for the account indicates that the slaughter of the birds was needless and wanton.

James (Half-brother of Jesus)

There are actually three people spoken of in the Bible as being named James:
Š James, the son of AlphaEus (known as, 'James the Less')
Š James, the half-brother of Jesus (known as, 'James the Just')
Š James, the son of Zebedee.
However, those are just the English pronunciations. Their actual names were Iakobos (Ya-koh-bose), or Jacob, for the name James is just the Greek pronunciation of Jacob.

We know little about James the son of AlphaEus other than that (at Mark 3:18) he was listed among the Apostles.

James the son of Zebedee was one of the earliest followers of Jesus and the brother of John (Jesus called the brothers, 'the sons of thunder'). He was martyred about 44-CE.

James ('the Just') was a prominent elder in the JeruSalem congregation and the writer of the Bible book of James. According to Jude (at Jude 1:1), he is the brother of Jude and the two are likely the half-brothers of Jesus through Mary and JoSeph. Notice that their names are mentioned among Jesus' other family members at Matthew 13:55, where the people of Nazareth were saying about Jesus in their synagogue: 'Isn't he the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother called Mary, and aren't his brothers James, JoSeph, Simon, and Judas?'

We know that this James (who likely became a disciple after Jesus' death) came to hold a prominent position in the JeruSalem congregation, because he is mentioned as taking the lead in the declaration that the gentiles would not be required to be circumcised (see Acts 15:13-21). He was also the person who took the lead in the meeting with Paul during his last visit to JeruSalem, where the group told Paul to go to the Temple and undergo ritual purification in order to pacify local Christians who were irritated by the fact that he was teaching gentile Christians that they didn't have to be circumcised (see Acts 21:21-24), which action led to his being mobbed, arrested, and later being taken to Rome to stand before Caesar. So it seems as though at least some in the JeruSalem congregation still didn't fully understand that the terms of the Old Law had been fulfilled with the death of Jesus, and that circumcision of the flesh was no longer a requirement for Christians under the New Sacred Agreement.

However, this isn't the only occasion where this James is mentioned in reference to the argument about circumcision and the Law. For at Galatians 2:11-13, he was again spoken of as sending men from JeruSalem to AntiOch, who encouraged Christian Jews to separate from gentile Christians and to follow Jewish religious customs. Also, there appears to have been a sect that emerged among many Jewish Christians, which rejected Paul and said that they followed the teachings of James. This group, known as the Ebionites, are said to have held strictly to the Law of Moses.

So although we consider the Bible book of James inspired, we know little about this man's faith in his later years. The historian JoSephus, in his work, 'The Antiquities of the Jews,' claims that he was martyred by the Procurator Porcius Festus about 62-CE. However, the Church 'Father' Origen, who was consulted in the works of JoSephus in and around 248-CE, related an account of the death of James which implied that he actually died during the Roman siege of Jerusalem. And if this is true, then James was not numbered among those Christians who followed Jesus' instructions to flee JeruSalem when they found it surrounded by armies.

JeremiAh 31:37

In the Septuagint (Greek text), JeremiAh 31:37 reads:
'Tade legei kurion:' or, 'Thus says the/Lord:'
'Ean upsothe ho ourano eisto meteoron,' or, 'If should/be/raised/up the sky in height,'
'Kai eantapeinothe to epeinothe tes ges kato,' or, 'And/if lowered the floor of/the land below,'
'Kai ego ouk apodokimo to genos IsraEl legei Kyrios,' or, 'And I will/not reject the/race of/IsraEl, says the/Lord,'
'Peri panton on epoieson,' or, 'For all/the/things that they've/done.'

However, the Hebrew text (as translated) reads this way:
'Thus says the Lord, If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of IsraEl for all that they have done, declares the Lord.'

As you can see, there is a significant difference between the meanings of the two different text sources. For the Septuagint says that IsraEl will not be rejected, but the Hebrew text says that they will be cast off. Which of the two is right?

Well, verse 36 provides the answer to the question, for it says there:
'If these Laws before Me should cease to be,
Then the race of IsraEl will no longer stand,
As a nation before Me,
Throughout the rest of their days
.'

So God is clearly saying that IsraEl could be rejected; thus the words of verse 37 in the Septuagint simply don't follow. As the result, we have deferred to the conclusion of the Hebrew text and must assume that an early Septuagint translator simply couldn't believe that IsraEl might be rejected, so he incorrectly added the Greek word for will not (ouk) to the sentence.

Then, doesn't this error prove the Septuagint to be the inferior text? No, not necessarily, because we continually find obvious errors in both (Hebrew and Greek) sources. And far too often, the Septuagint follows logical reasoning better and it offers details that are not found in modern Hebrew texts; so we tend to trust the Greek text, while keeping an eye out for errors.

Jeremiah 37:5

Note that Bibles based on the Masoretic Hebrew text tell us that when the King NebuChadNezzar heard that the king of Egypt had sent an army to assist Judah, he lifted the siege against them temporarily. However, the Septuagint text of the same verse indicates that he didn't lift the siege, but that he thereafter attacked. Which rendering is correct? A reader sent us this note in support of the Hebrew text: 'So there was a short interruption of this siege when the Babylonians (Chaldeans) withdrew in order to drive back the Egyptians to whom King Zedekiah had appealed for help. But after having taken care of this Egyptian threat, the Babylonians returned and resumed the siege, just as the prophet Jeremiah forewarned that they would do.' In other words, they did attack, but it was after a brief withdrawal. So, both texts are correct.

Jesus' Last Words (Contributed)

According to the Greek text, Jesus' last words before his death (as found at Matthew 27:46) were, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' That is, 'My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?' However, an early Christian (Origen) wrote that Matthew didn't pen his gospel in Greek, because he was writing to people whose native tongue was Aramaic. So some Bible scholars say that the person (or persons) who eventually translated Matthew from Aramaic into Greek in the early 2nd Century mixed Hebrew words with Aramaic words when doing the translating. For these words of Jesus appear to be a quotation from the prophecy of David found at Psalm 22:1, and that the Hebrew word used there, sjebaqtani, is not the same as the word sabachthani, which is found in Matthew's account.

It has been pointed out that if Jesus had said abandoned, he would have said, 'Eli, Eli, lema azab-thani?' So the opinion of these scholars is that Jesus' words should really be translated as, 'My God, my God, why have You spared me?' (the point being, that Jesus was willing to suffer even more), or even as, 'My God, my God, for this I was kept,' or, 'this was my destiny,' or, 'for this I was born.'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Psalm 22:1 in the Septuagint Greek text (which is the text that Jesus was likely quoting since many of his quotations seem to be from the Greek text) reads,
'O God, my God, please listen to me!
Why have I been abandoned by You?'
And this is why we have allowed Jesus' words to remain as they are rendered in most Bibles, for we feel that the Hebrew text is more likely the one that is corrupted. However, we have included this Note to show that our choice of wording has been questioned.

Jesus' Fleshly Brothers and Sisters

Did Jesus have fleshly brothers and sisters? Yes he did, for the words found at Matthew 12:46-50 make this very clear. There we read that as he was indoors speaking, his mother (Mary) and his brothers (James, JoSeph, Simon, and Judas) had been standing outside waiting to talk to him. And at Acts 1:14, we once again read of Jesus' mother and brothers being present (along with his Apostles) shortly after he ascended to heaven.

So, were these in fact Jesus' fleshly brothers, or could the writers have been referring to 'spiritual' brothers? The context in each case provides the answer. Since Jesus' brothers are mentioned as being there along with his Apostles, his disciples, and his mother (Mary) in the account in Acts, these had to be his fleshly (half) brothers (other children of Mary).

Jew

Understand that the word 'Jew' is a unique English pronunciation of 'Judean.' And when Mark and John spoke of the Judeans, they were usually referring to people who lived in the Roman Province of Judea. But because Jesus and eleven of his Apostles (although likely all of the Tribe of Judah) lived in the northern Province of Galilee, the Judeans called them Galileans (see Mark 14:70), while the Galileans referred to the people in and around JeruSalem as Judeans (or Jews).

With the above said, it becomes easier to understand what the scriptures mean when they speak of the water jars at wedding reception at Cana being there for the 'Judeans' to wash in, and that the 'Judeans' were looking to kill Jesus, and that the 'Judeans' rejected Jesus. In these cases, the texts aren't referring to the nation as a whole, but to the people who lived in Judea and/or in JeruSalem. Understand that Jesus was widely recognized as a Prophet and as God's anointed in Galilee. However, it was in and around JeruSalem (which was then the center of Jewish worship and where the leaders of the various Jewish sects were located) that Jesus was finally rejected and turned over to the Roman governor for execution.

Job

While many Bible commentators claim that Job was a contemporary of Moses (because Moses is credited with writing the book), the ancient language used there appears to date the actual words to sometime before IsraEl's stay in Egypt… possibly between the time of AbraHam and Jacob. It is interesting, however, that one ancient (non-inspired) writing says that the man's full name was Jobab (although he was called Job) and that he was a grandson of AbraHam through IsaAc's son Esau (see 1 Chronicles 1:44). This seems logical, because he was obviously a worshiper of AbraHam's God Jehovah. And because he lived to be two-hundred and forty years old, he could well have lived to the lifetime of JoSeph.

Job has often been described as an oriental, giving us the impression that he was Chinese. And the reason for this is that he was said to have been 'born to a prosperous family from the sunrise in the east.' However, saying that he came from the east doesn't necessarily mean that he came from thousands of miles to the east. For it appears as though his family had likely settled somewhere just east of the Promised Land, which other Bible texts indicate was where the descendants of Esau (Edom) settled. For we read at Lamentations 4:21:
'So rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom…
The one who in Uz, has resided!'

However, notice that the Septuagint says that Job was from the land of the Ausitidi, which differs from the Hebrew text, where we read that he was from the land of Uz. Why the difference? Well, Ausitidi may have been what the place was called in the Third Century BCE when the Septuagint was translated. But it is noteworthy that some Greek texts render the word Uz as Aus; so Ausitidi could simply refer to the people from the land of Aus or Uz.

Where did the name originate? Uz could well refer to the land of AbraHam's nephew Uz, who is mentioned at Genesis 22:21. However, there was also a man named Uz who was a great-grandson of Noah through his son Shem. But either way, the early settlers of that land were probably close relatives of AbraHam.

Further proof of where Job was from comes from the lands where his three 'comforters' (who seem to have been related to AbraHam) lived. Each of their countries or lands is located in the SW part of modern Iraq (east of the Promised Land). Also notice that the reference to the Jordan River at Job 40:18 indicates the close proximity of their lands to the Jordan, because it says there:
'And when it rains, he pays no attention;
For when it runs to the Jordan, he'll drink it.'

From the poetry of the verses, you can see that the book of Job was originally a song. So, some have questioned whether it is a true story or just an ancient fable. However, realize that telling a story in a song is how the ancients in the Middle East have always communicated their news or history, for this allows the story to be told accurately and beautifully from memory. As the result, we have concluded that although Moses may have written the book of Job, it was likely an inspired story that was sung and handed down through people of the Middle East for centuries before Moses recorded it in writing in the Sixteenth Century BCE.

From the context of the verses in Job, you can see certain subtleties that indicate even the motivations of the speakers, which proves the authenticity of the story. Take for example, the words of EliPhaz the Temanite. Notice how (as recorded at Job 4:17, 18) it tells us that this man had once been spoken to by a demon that said:
'Why should a man be pure before God?
For He trusts none of His servants,
And He thinks of His angels as crooked.'

But then, look at how these words of a demon had actually influenced this man's thinking about God; for the next time he spoke (at Job 15:15) he said:
'Yet, He doesn't trust even the holy
Before Him, the heavens aren't pure.'

Such a subtle continuity of arguments where seven or more people spoke at different times, indicates that the story is very likely an accurate account of what was actually said.

John

John (who wrote the Bible books of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation) was apparently one of Jesus' earliest followers. And although many Bible critics and commentators have said that John may not have written the books attributed to him (because of language and style differences), remember that when he did his writing he was almost 100 years old. So like Paul, he likely used others as secretaries to do the actual writing, and this would explain the variations in writing styles.

John and his brother James, whom Jesus had appointed to be his Apostles (or Sent Ones), were Galileans (considered 'country bumpkins' by people in Judea) who worked as fishermen for their father in a business that seems to have been co-owned by Peter (Simon).

Some Bible critics have described John as a laid-back dreamer. However, notice that Jesus referred to him and his brother as 'the Sons of Thunder' (at Mark 3:17). So this common view of John's passive personality doesn't seem to be well founded.

It is interesting that John appears to have been known and liked by the Jewish Chief Priest, CaiAphas. For notice what the account at John 18:15, 16 tells us: 'Now, Simon Peter (and another disciple) followed Jesus. The Chief Priest was familiar with that disciple, so he went into the High Priest's courtyard along with Jesus, while Peter stood outside at the door. Then the disciple who knew the High Priest went outside and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in.'

Therefore, many of the things that happened and were said inside the Chief Priest's house (as well as in the palaces of Pilate and Herod after Jesus' arrest) may have come to us as the result of John being there and serving as an eyewitness. So, Peter wasn't the only disciple who stayed with Jesus after his arrest.

It's a fact that whenever Peter and John were together, as when they stood before the Jewish High Court, Peter did most of the talking. However, this doesn't appear to mean that Peter outranked John, or because John was tongue-tied or shy. Rather, it seems as though John deferred to Peter because he was older and a friend and business partner of his father.

As Jesus prophesied, John appears to have lived the longest of all the Apostles, dying at around the age of 100, either by execution or as the result of old age or poor health (from his long stay in an ancient prison). And it's thought that it was shortly before his death that he did all his writing. So the book of John is quite different in its format from the Gospels of Mark and Luke, which seem to be more based on and influenced by the book of Matthew. For this reason, the Gospel of John provides us a far greater insight into who Jesus actually was, and of the things that he thought and did. John was obviously very impressed with the privilege he had of being 'the loved Apostle' of the most important individual who ever walked this earth. So the opening words of the book of John reflect that awe, as he poetically tried to impress us with the full meaning of who Jesus had been in his pre-human life as 'the one-and-only' son of The God.

John's three epistles or letters (1 John, 2 John, and 3 John) were written to nearby congregations while he was in prison in Asia Minor so as to warn them of the dangers that they were facing from within their own ranks, since 'the great turning away' that Paul had foretold was already in progress. In fact, some may even have started to deny that Jesus was the 'Anointed One,' or perhaps that there ever was a Jesus. For John labeled such ones as the 'Anti/christs,' and he told Christians not to have anything to do with them.

In John's Revelation, he recorded a vision of 'the Lord's Day,' which he received from God through Jesus. And although some critics have concluded that this was some sort of hallucination; the Revelation provides a fitting climax to the entire Bible by bringing together the four mysterious characters mentioned in the first Bible prophecy (Genesis 3:16) about the snake, its seed, the woman, and her seed. There it fills in all the gray areas as to whom each of these individuals would prove to be, and it shows the full meaning of the roles they would play in God's purposes. Far from a hallucination, the Revelation explains in detail what is really happening to us today, what will soon happen, and what hope there is for all obedient mankind. For more information, see the linked document, 'The Seed - God's Kingdom.'

We have noted that some 'Bible scholars' have concluded that John's Bible books were really written by three people… one who wrote the book of John, one who wrote the epistles, and a third one who wrote the Revelation. Part of the reason for this conclusion is that John didn't identify himself by name in the books bearing his name, but he used his name frequently in the Revelation. However, certain common words that are used in each of the writings clearly identify John as their author, and they show that each of the works were written at about the same time. For example; the unique description of Jesus as the Word at John 1:1 and Revelation 19:13 ties both of those writings to the same John, and the number of similar words and phrases found in the book of John and his epistles are too numerous to discuss here. So it is clear to these translators that John was responsible for the writing of all five of the books.

Judging the Angels

The scripture found at 1 Corinthians 6:3 ('Don't you know that we are going to judge angels?') is often used to prove that those who are chosen for heavenly life as God's sons will be elevated above all of God's messengers (his other heavenly sons, or angels), except Jesus. Is this a correct understanding? Perhaps not. Consider these facts:

So if they are just to have the power of God's messengers and their rulership is to be just on the earth, then why are they described as judging God's messengers (or angels) at 1 Corinthians 6:3? Well, the Greek word crinoumen can also mean condemn. And since the heavens are to be cleansed of wicked messengers (see Revelation 12:7-9), we must assume that the messengers they are to juge or condemn are the same ones that will be thrown out of heaven and temporarily confined to the earth before they are locked in the abyss and thereafter destroyed (see Revelation 12:9).

Judging the Twelve Tribes of IsraEl

At Matthew 19:27, Peter said to Jesus: 'We have left everything and followed you. So, what will we really get?' And in verse 28, Jesus replied: 'I tell you the truth; in the rebirth, when the Son of Man sits down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of IsraEl.' What was Jesus talking about here?

Well, another written Bible commentary on this scripture tells us that Jesus was promising his Apostles the same thing that Paul spoke of at 1 Corinthians 6:2 where he wrote, 'Don't you know that the Holy Ones will judge the world?' But this doesn't really make much sense, because the term 'IsraEl' usually refers to those in a covenant-relationship with God, while the Greek word 'kosmos' (which is translated as 'world' here) is usually used to describe those who are not in such a relationship. So it is clear that these two judgments don't mean the same thing.

But then, couldn't Jesus have meant that his Apostles were going to judge the literal nation of IsraEl? Well, that isn't likely either, because only a small portion of that nation can still be identified today, since the original tribes have for the most part been scattered and interbred among all the nations of the earth. Therefore, there really are no pure 'twelve tribes of IsraEl' anymore since a large portion of the population of the earth can claim some roots in IsraEl.

However, note what Paul told us at Romans 9:6: 'Not all who came from IsraEl are really IsraEl, nor are all of AbraHam's seed his children.' Then he went on to describe faithful Christians (whether Jews or gentiles) as the true IsraEl. So perhaps judging the twelve tribes of IsraEl means that they are to judge all who claim to be Christians.

Judging Your Brothers

At Romans 2:1, Paul wrote: 'So you are defenseless, O man, if you're someone who judges others. Because when you judge others, you're condemning yourself, since you're doing the very things that you judge [to be wrong in others].'

Then he wrote at Romans 14:10-12: 'So, why do you judge your brother, or why do you look down on him? We will all stand before the judgment seat of God, for it's written: 'As I live, says Jehovah; every knee will bend before Me and every tongue will confess before God. So, since each of us must answer for ourselves before God, let's stop judging each other.'

As you can see, being too judgmental is a very serious flaw, which is common among those who think of themselves as righteous. And notice what Jesus said would happen to those who are judgmental (Matthew 7:1):
'Do not judge others, so you won't be judged.
For the [rules] by which you judge others,
Are the rules they will use to judge you,
And the standards you're setting for them,
Are the standards that they'll set for you.

We find the same type of warning at James 2:13, which says: 'The merciless will be judged without mercy, since mercy is an important part of justice.'

But on the other hand, the Bible also shows that it is necessary for Christians to judge their brothers when they are found guilty of flagrant, open sins, as was the case of a brother in the First-Century Christian Congregation in Corinth, Greece. For Paul wrote at 1 Corinthians 5:1: 'I've actually heard that there is sexual immorality among you, and it's a type of immorality that isn't even [heard of] among the nations… that someone has taken his father'swoman!'

Now, we don't know exactly what this sin entailed (whether it was incest or a relationship with a woman who wasn't his natural mother), but we do know that it was something scandalous. So Paul told the elders in the congregation there that they should pass judgment on the man's actions. Notice his reasoning, as found at 1 Corinthians 5:12: 'Why should I judge those on the outside? Don't you judge those on the inside, while God judges those on the outside? Remove the wicked man from among yourselves!'

So the conclusion we reach from the Scriptures is that judging the openly-wrong actions of others is the responsibility of Christian elders, so as to protect the good name of the Congregation. However, it is wrong to judge the motives of others, because we can't look into their hearts.

Therefore, if we ever find ourselves looking down on our brothers and thinking ourselves to be better Christians than they are; then the high standards that we set for them will be the minimum standards that will be set for us in our own judgment before God. And if we aren't merciful in our judgments of others, God won't be merciful in His judgment of us.

Judgment Day

Throughout the Bible we read that a 'Judgment Day' will eventually arrive when God will judge every person. And this raises the question: Does this refer to random times in the future when we each will meet our own judgment, or to one specific 'day' (or period) when everyone will be judged?

Well, notice what Jesus told his Apostles as recorded at Matthew 10:14, 15: 'Wherever people don't take you in or listen to your words; on leaving that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. I tell you the truth; On the Judgment Day, it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and GomorRah than for that city.' So it seems clear that God will judge all mankind at some specific time in the future, which He calls 'the Judgment Day.' We read of this 'day' at Revelation 20:13, where we are told: 'Then the sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up the dead in them, and all [the dead] were judged by the things they had done.'

Kainan

Note that we have added the name Kainan (Cainan) in brackets to the genealogies of First Chronicles Chapter One verse twenty-four, as well as words indicating whose son he was, because his name is found in the same genealogies at Genesis 11:12, 13 in the Septuagint, and at Luke 3:36 in all Bibles. However, his name is not found in Genesis in the Masoretic (Hebrew) text or in First Chronicles in either the Septuagint or the Masoretic text, which we feel is likely a deliberate omission by ancient scribes who believed that the name had been wrongly copied from another line. So there is either a mistake in the Hebrew text that is corrected in the Septuagint and reiterated by Luke, or the Septuagint adds an extra name that Luke also included. And it is our conclusion that the name should be in the Genesis and First Chronicles accounts, because we trust the research of Luke.

Also note that First Chronicles Chapter One is clearly incomplete in the Septuagint text, with verses eighteen through twenty-three simply missing, and the descriptions of the relationships of the line from Shem to AbraHam is also missing, which we again added in brackets. So here is one case where we recognize a portion of the Septuagint text has been corrupted and we therefore deferred to its genealogy as found in Genesis and Luke.

Of course, there was another Kainan who is listed in the line between Adam and Noah (at Genesis 5:12, 13). And one reason why some think that the name was wrongly inserted in Genesis 11 is that both men are said to have fathered sons when they were one-hundred and thirty years old. Yet, note that the life spans of each of these Kainans are different, so it is likely that there were in fact two men named Kainan who fathered sons at the same age that just happened to be in the line that led to AbraHam.

For more information, see the document, 'Why the Greek Septuagint?,' under the subheading, 'Better Rendering of Dates.'

Kill or Murder?

In recent years, many Christians have started arguing against putting willful murderers to death, and they often quote the words of God as found at Exodus 20:13, which (according to the King James Bible) say, 'Thou shalt not kill.' However, that is a wrong translation of what God actually said. For the Greek word phoneuseis that is used there should actually be translated as murder. And notice what the Law says should be done to murderers, as recorded at Exodus 21. In Greek it says, 'Thananato thanatoustho,' or, 'to/death let/him/be/put/to/death!' So God's Law actually forbid murder, and it says that murderers should be put to death.

Kingdom

The word Kingdom is translated from the Greek word, basileia, which refers to the realm of a king (gr. basil).

A common misconception about the Kingdom of God, is that it isn't real… that it's just a state of mind. This conclusion is based on Jesus' words as found at Luke 17:21, which say (in Greek): he basileia tou Theou entos hymon estin (the Kingdom of the God in you is), which we have quite literally translated as, 'for God's Kingdom is within you.' So, what did Jesus mean by this?

Well, some religions have concluded that he was saying that he (the king of that Kingdom) was there in their midst, and he was offering everyone in his audience the hope of becoming kings in his Kingdom… which is likely true. Yet it is also true that those who become Christians must start living under the rules of Jesus (their king) in their hearts. And if we accept this statement as true, then it can also be said that the Kingdom of God is within us!

However, it doesn't appear as though Jesus was saying (as some religions have concluded) that the Kingdom will always be just a state of mind. Notice for example, Jesus' own words as found at Luke 22:16, where he told his disciples at his last supper, 'I won't eat it again until it's fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.' So he was clearly saying that the Kingdom of God was to be a future thing and not just a frame of mind.

Then, is this Kingdom something that will exist just in the heavens? Many have conclude this from what Jesus said at Matthew 8:11, where he is quoted as saying, 'Many from the sunrise and sunset will come and recline with AbraHam, IsaAc, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven.' So on the basis of this scripture, they have concluded that AbraHam, IsaAc, and Jacob are now in heaven, so that's where God's Kingdom must be located. But notice that these patriarchs weren't really in heaven at the time when Jesus spoke those words… they couldn't have been, for Jesus himself said at John 3:13: 'No one has gone to heaven other than the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man.'

So, why did Jesus say such a thing? Well, it appears as though those weren't his exact words. Please consider the following:

According to the Christian writer Origen (who wrote during the early 3rd Century C.E.), Matthew's Gospel account was originally written in Hebrew and then it was translated into Greek. However, the Greek copy was thereafter lost, so it was translated into Greek a second time around the beginning of the 2nd Century. So according to this ancient Christian writer (Origen), the text that we have of Matthew today comes from the later Greek translation. And the reason why we are pointing this out is that the book of Matthew shows signs of significant textual corruption that likely came about during this translating!

Notice, for example, that the words 'Kingdom of Heaven' are not found at all in the Gospels of Mark and Luke (which appear to have originally been written in Greek). And where these Gospels were quoting the same words of Jesus that are found in the Gospel of Matthew, these writers said that he used the words 'Kingdom of God,' not 'Kingdom of heaven.' So, since we know that our modern text of Matthew's Gospel was just a later translation of what Jesus actually said, we have chosen to put more trust in what the other Bible writers wrote in their Greek texts wherever we find contradictions (and we have found several).

But does this mistranslation of that one word ('heaven' or 'God') really make any difference? Yes, because the words 'Kingdom of God' don't necessarily imply that the Kingdom is something that is heavenly! Rather, notice where Jesus' followers really expected the Kingdom to be established just before his death. At Luke 19:11 we read: 'While they were listening to these things, [Jesus] told them another illustration, because he was getting close to JeruSalem, and they all thought that the Kingdom of God was about to happen instantly.' So from these words it is clear Jesus' Apostles believed that the Kingdom was going to be established then and there in ancient earthly JeruSalem. For notice what they asked Jesus just before he ascended into heaven (as recorded at Acts 1:6): 'Lord, are you going to restore the Kingdom to IsraEl now?'

However, by the end of the 1st Century, as pagan religious doctrines started to creep into Christianity after the deaths of the Apostles, it seems as though many Christians had started to believe that the Kingdom was going to be in heaven, since it hadn't come on the earth. And because this concept of the dead going to a heavenly kingdom became popular during the great falling away that was prophesied by both Paul and John; it is easy to see why the later Christian or Christians who translated the book of Matthew from Hebrew into Greek changed the words 'Kingdom of God' to read 'Kingdom of Heaven.' For this is what 'Christians' had started to believe to be their destiny by beginning of the Second Century CE.

But you might ask, 'If the Kingdom of God was really going to happen on the earth, why hasn't it happened already?' Well, notice that Jesus explained this. For in the parable that he gave at Luke 19:12-27, he spoke about a man who would be going on a long trip to a distant land to receive his appointment as king. And clearly, the point of this parable was that he (Jesus) was to be going on a long journey to receive his kingship, and this would take a long time. Then he said that upon his return as king, he would reward his faithful slaves. When would this happen? Well, he didn't tell us in his parable. But notice what Revelation 12:10 says must happen before his 'empowerment' is established:
'At that I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
Now has arrived the salvation and power,
As well as the Kingdom of our God;
For His Anointed has now been empowered,
And the accuser of our brothers has been cast down,
Who blames them before God day and night!'

So we can see that the place where Jesus went to receive his authority to be king is in the heavens. And there he had to await the time when he would fight a war against the evil one and his followers, after which he would no longer be opposed by them there. And this is when God's Kingdom will in fact be established in the heavens. Thereafter, according to the Revelation, Jesus will return to establish his Kingdom here on the earth by putting the Slanderer and his demons into the abyss and by destroying all those who don't want him to be their king… which hasn't happened yet, because we clearly have not yet entered 'the Day of the Lord' (the return). For this is what the entire book of Revelation was foretelling (see Revelation 1:10).

So, what is the Kingdom? Well, although true Christians may now actually live under the rulership of Jesus in their hearts, the Scriptures show that there is to be a future period of eternal righteous rule that will encompass 'the lands and the skies' (the universe) after the evil one is no longer allowed access to the presence of God (see Job 1:6) and after all opposition to Jesus' rule has been removed from the earth.

For more information, see the linked document, 'The Seed – God's Kingdom.'

Lachish

While many like to scoff at the Bible record and claim that its stories are myths and fairy tales, much of what is written there has already been proven remarkably accurate and historical by modern archeology. For example, consider the events that are recorded to have happened in JeruSalem during the reign of King HezekiAh. At 2 Chronicles 32:9, we read of how the Assyrian King Sennacherib marched on the Judean city of Lachish before attacking JeruSalem. And today, letters about this attack from the general who was defending Lachish have been discovered and are on display in the British Museum.

Also, the mention of HezekiAh's rerouting of the spring of Gihon at 2 Chronicles 32:30 can be proven, since the underground diversion project has been uncovered by archeologists and is a famed tourist attraction in JeruSalem today (see the reference, 'Hezekiah's Tunnel').

However, did God's messenger wipe out the Assyrian army in a single night, as the Bible account says? While there's no record of this outside the Bible (the Assyrians surely would have been too embarrassed to record such an amazing defeat), the fact that Babylon thereafter became the dominant world power with little resistance from the Assyrians, gives mute testimony to the fact that something very important happened then.

Lake of Fire

The Lake of fire, which is spoken of in the Revelation, is taught by many religions to be Hell Fire. However, notice that what many Bibles call 'Hell' will actually be thrown into this lake (so they obviously can't be the same thing) and notice the definition of what the lake of fire is according to the King James Bible's reading at Revelation 20:14: 'And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.'

So, what is the Lake of Fire? As the scripture says, it is 'the second death.' And what does that mean? Death is the end of life, and fire destroys. Therefore, things that are thrown there will be burned up and gone forever.

But if this is so, then why are those who go there spoken of as being tortured through the ages (as we read at Revelation 20:8)? To understand this nuance, you must first understand how ancient peoples used the term that we've translated as torture. In Bible times, jailers were called torturers, not necessarily because they performed physical acts of torture (which they often did), but because being locked away in jails (or dungeons) is itself a form of torture. And this is what the Bible means when it says that someone or something is thrown into the 'lake of fire.' Since symbolic things such as governments, religions, the Slanderer, and even death and the grave are thrown there, the 'torture' doesn't imply experiencing literal pain, but that they will be locked away (gone) forever.

Lamp Stands of Revelation

Notice what was represented by the lamp stands in the Revelation. Revelation 1:20 says: 'The seven lamp stands signify the seven congregations.' So these lamp stands must picture callings or groups of Christians. And where a lamp stand is spoken of as being 'removed' (as at Revelation 2:5), this appears to indicate that the group or gathering will be removed from its position of favor.

Land of RaMesses or Gesem (Goshen)?

At Genesis 46:28, the Greek Septuagint text says that when the Patriarch Jacob traveled to Egypt during the great famine, he arranged to meet with his son JoSeph near the City of HroOn (modern Mit El-Harun) in the land of RaMesse. However, note that the Hebrew (Masoretic) text says they met in the land of Goshen. Then at Genesis 47:1, the Septuagint text refers to the land where the IsraElites thereafter settled as 'Gesem,' which the Hebrew text once again calls 'Goshen.' Also at Exodus 1:5 in the Septuagint, we see that this land (Gesem, Goshen, or Ramesse) seems to have been considered as being separate from Egypt, for it speaks of Joseph as living apart from his family 'in Egypt.' And at Genesis 45:10, Gesem is referred as being located in Arabia. Therefore, from these renderings, we must assume that the names Gesem, Goshen, and the land of Ramesse all refer to the same area, which is found in the eastern portion of the Nile Delta. And though that location is considered part of Egypt today, it was viewed as being part of Arabia in the time of Jacob and JoSeph (no Suez Canal).

Of course, there has been much discussion through the years over the fact that the Bible speaks of the land where IsraEl settled in Egypt as 'the land of RaMesse' (Ra's Chosen), and that one of the cities that the king of Egypt built before Moses was born was also called Ramesse (see Exodus 1:11). For since this name appears to refer to Ramesses The Great who lived almost three-hundred years after IsraEl left Egypt; it has been assumed that either the Bible accounts are wrong, or that the events mentioned in the Exodus happened at a much later date.

However, understand that the likely reason why the land and the city are referred to in the Bible as Ramesse, is that later copyists used by the more modern names so that contemporary readers would understand which land and city it was speaking of during their time. And because we find the Septuagint using the term Ramesse first at Genesis 46:28, it looks like the change in name came about around the time that the Septuagint was translated (3rd Century BCE). You can see that Moses did the same thing in Genesis 2:8-13, when he used the landmarks of his time to describe the location of the original garden ('Eden') where Adam and Eue (Eve) first lived.

Large Crowd

Who are the people that are described at Revelation 7:9 as being, 'a crowd so large that nobody could count them' who come from 'all countries, nationalities, ethnic groups, and languages,' and are found 'standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb?'

Notice that they aren't the same as the 144,000 'slaves of our God' (as described in verses 3-8), nor do they seem to comprise the IsraEl from whom this group is chosen (as mentioned in those same verses); for the large crowd is seen by John after he saw the first two groups in the Revelation vision.

Then Revelation 7:14-17 goes on to tell us concerning this larger group: 'They're the ones who have come out of the great time of difficulty and who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This is why they're under the gaze of the throne of The God, serving Him day and night in His Most Holy Place. And the One who is sitting on the throne will spread His tent over them so they won't be hungry or thirsty anymore, nor will the sun beat down on them with blistering heat; for the Lamb who is in the middle of the throne will shepherd them and guide them to the springs of the waters of life, and The God will wipe all the tears from their eyes.'

So, since this huge group has 'washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,' the scripture seems to imply that they will have cleaned up their lives and gotten baptized. Also notice that they will have lived through the great time of difficulty, which (in the order of the Revelation) precedes the destruction of The Great Babylon and the Battle of Armageddon.

However, the fact that they are spoken of as coming from among the 'nations' or 'ethnics,' appears to indicate that they have not been chosen from among the IsraEl of God (those in a covenant relationship with Him… possibly those from Judaic and Christian religions). Therefore, this could describe non-religious peoples or those with pagan religious backgrounds.

Then Revelation Chapter Seven says they are shouting, 'We owe our salvation to our God who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb.' And because they seen are standing 'under the gaze of the throne' (not in the presence of God and Jesus), they will have likely continued to live here on the earth. For being 'guided to the fountains of waters of life' seems to indicate that their names have not yet been written in the Scroll of Life.

And while we have not necessarily concluded that they are part of the same group, we find it interesting that the description of this large crowd is similar to that of the 'sheep' whom Jesus described at Matthew 25:31-46. For notice what he said concerning them in verses 32-34: 'All the nations (gr. ethnics) will be led before him, then he'll separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He'll put the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right: Come, you who've been praised by my Father; inherit the Kingdom that's been prepared for you since the founding of the world.' However, it it is possible that Jesus' words about the sheep and the goats as found in Matthew 25 were corrupted, so we are unsure of any connection between the groups. For more information about this, see the linked document, 'The Sheep and the Goats.'

Last Days

Throughout the Christian Era Scriptures (New Testament), we read of a time that is referred to as 'the last days' (gr. tas hemera eschata). Notice how Peter quoted these words from the prophecy in Joel on the day of Pentecost, in 33-CE (at Acts 2:17-21):

'In the last days, says The God;
I will pour out My Breath on all flesh,
And your sons and daughters will then prophesy,
Your young men will also have visions,
And the old among you will [see things in] dreams.

'Yes, even upon My male servants,
And upon those who are My handmaidens,
I will pour out My Breath in those days,
And then they will all prophesy.

'From the skies above, I'll send omens and signs,
With blood, fire, and smoke to the earth down below,
Before the great, shining day of the Lord.

'For the sun will be changed into darkness,
And the moon will be changed into blood.
Then, all of those will be saved,
Who call on the name of the Lord.'

From Peter's application of these words, we can clearly see that the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled (at least initially) at the time that Peter was saying this… during and after Pentecost 33-CE. However, we don't think that Joel's prophecy concerning the last days only applied to the last days of ancient JeruSalem before its destruction by Roman armies in 70-CE, as some religions teach. For where these same words (last days) are found in other Bible verses, the same religions teach that the fulfillment will come during a future 'Day of the Lord.'

For example, notice the words found at 2 Timothy 3:1-5: 'Recognize that the last days will bring fierce times. For people will just love themselves and money, and they’ll be braggarts, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, and disloyal; they won’t love their families, nor will they agree on anything; they’ll be slanderers who don’t have any self-control; they’ll be wild and they won’t love anything that’s good; they’ll be betrayers who are headstrong and proud; they'll care more for pleasures than for God; and though they'll practice some form of godliness, they'll deny its power.'

So although prophecy of Joel about the last days does in fact apply to that period between Pentecost of 33-CE and 70-CE, they could also refer to some future last days, which are yet to come.

That a future 'last days' will come seems to be indicated by Jesus' words at John 6:39, 40, where it's recorded that he said: 'And this is what His Will is: That I shouldn't lose any of those whom He has given to me, but that I should resurrect them on the Last Day. Yes, it is the Will of my Father that everyone who pays close attention to the Son and believes in him should have age-long life. For I will resurrect him… [yes] me, on the Last Day!'

So, since there is no record of resurrections happening on Pentecost in the 1st Century, we must assume that the 'last days' that were spoken of by Jesus haven't arrived yet. And long after that, John wrote in the Revelation that the resurrections wouldn't start until after 'the battle of Armageddon' (mentioned at Revelation 16) is fought. And from this, it seems that we must assume there are at least two last days:
1. The last days of ancient JeruSalem
2. Some future last days that will lead up to or follow the second coming of Jesus.

And if there are to be some future last days, we suspect that it will also include an outpouring of God's Holy Breath and its gifts, as were seen on Pentecost of 33-CE… for this would also be required to fulfill the prophecy.

Though we realize that many religions are teaching that we are already in the last days and that their members already have these gifts, which are being expressed through healing, snake handling, and speaking in tongues; notice that Joel's prophecy doesn't speak of such things. Rather, it says that God's servants will be having prophetic visions and dreams, and be prophesying. Also notice that Paul, when speaking of such gifts at 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14, actually discouraged speaking in tongues. Rather, he put prophesying and developing Christian love as foremost. And although Peter and Paul actually did perform divine healing, this gift isn't mentioned at all in Joel's prophecy.

So if there is to be some modern fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, we would expect it to involve miraculous prophesying (which is something more than just sharing our personal interpretations of Bible doctrines) and an unusual outpouring of brotherly love upon all who are trying to live as Christians (not on just those in their own sectarian churches).

For more information, see also the linked documents, 'The Last Days,' and 'The Powers of God's Holy Spirit.'

Last Lamb

The Twenty-Ninth Chapter of Exodus talks about a calf and two lambs that had to be sacrificed as a rite of empowerment for Aaron and his sons to become the Anointed Priests. And we have referred to the sacrificing of the last lamb as just that; the last lamb. However, other Bibles refer to this as the Sacrifice of Consecration, the Ram of Installation, etc. So why have we deviated in our rendering of this term?

In Greek, the words kriou teleioseos simply mean lamb final. And it was for a fact the last lamb to be offered during that seven-day event. So we feel that last lamb more accurately reflect the words as found in the Greek Septuagint.

Laying the Temple Foundation

We find a very important Septuagint deviation from what the Hebrew text says at 1 Kings 6:1. For there the Greek text reads: 'It was in the four hundred and fortieth year after the sons IsraEl left Egypt (in the fourth year and second month of Solomon's reign over IsraEl) that the foundation of the Temple of Jehovah was laid.'

In Greek, the highlighted portion of this text reads, 'και εγενηθη εν τω τεσσαρακοστω και τετρακοσιοστω ετει της εξοδου υιων ισραηλ εξ αιγυĻτου,' or, 'and began in the fortieth and four-hundredth year of/the exodus sons of IsraEl from Egypt …'

What is different? In the Hebrew text and in most Bible translations based on that text, we find that the foundation of the Temple was laid four hundred and EIGHTY years after the exodus from Egypt. So, which is the correct rendering?

Well, our study of the period from IsraEl's entry into the promised land – from the period of the judges to the start of the reign of King Saul (as shown in the books of Judges and 1 Samuel) – seems to have been about 400 years. Then if we add the 40 years of Saul's rule and the 40 years of David's rule, you can see that there had to be at least 480-years between the time of the exodus and the laying of the Temple foundation. So our conclusion is that the Greek text is probably wrong in this instance and the Hebrew (Masoretic) text is most likely correct. It also appears as though this 480-year period may not have actually started with the Exodus, but with IsraEl's entry into the Promised Land! For more information on why we are saying this, see the subheading 'Possible Chronology' in the linked document, 'The Pharaoh of the Exodus.'

Leprosy

It is interesting that the disease we call leprosy today doesn't seem to be the same as what was called leprosy in the Bible. While modern leprosy may appear to be the same, since the skin turns white and it is extremely debilitating, there are some major differences. For example, ancient leprosy seemed to have been extremely contagious, so people who had it weren't allowed to come near to those who were healthy, while modern leprosy is listed as only 'mildly contagious.'

Another difference is that the white skin coloration for modern leprosy comes from external skin scaling, while the Bible's description of leprosy was of a whiteness (or redness) that was internal or deep into the skin, and it caused hollow spots under the skin. Also notice that once a person's skin was turned completely white, God's Law no longer considered the disease to be contagious (see Leviticus 13:12-17).

Medical descriptions of modern leprosy say that it comes as the result of a bacterial infection. And while this may also have been true of ancient leprosy (in fact, it could have come from a bacteria that people have become largely immune to today), the fact that it could be found in clothing and leather goods, and that it was so hard to kill by washing, suggests that Bible leprosy may have been caused by a mold or fungus.

It would seem unlikely in the dry climate of Palestine that clothing in particular would develop bacterial infections, unless they were extremely dirty, which is doubtful, knowing the IsraElite view of cleanliness. However, mold can grow almost anywhere, and it is extremely hard to destroy. The fact that it grew on walls in Bible times seems to indicate that it was a type of mold.

Of interest are the descriptions about where and how leprosy developed in Bible times. Notice that it often started in wounds, sores, or in the hairline. And the fact that it was found on clothing (which was usually damp due to sweating in the arid climate) indicates that the disease was spread by close and prolonged contact with skin or through abrasions. However, modern Bedouins no longer seem to be plagued by this malady.

The fact that the bacteria, mold, or fungus was carried and transmitted from clothing and hair seems to be quietly affirmed by the fact that there is no mention of the disease attacking the genitals, which would be normally expected today, due the common use of tight-fitting underwear. Why not? Well, the ancient IsraElites apparently didn't wear underpants. The fact that such things had to be specifically made for those who served in Jehovah's Temple, indicates that they weren't customary.

Another interesting fact about the leprosy of Bible times, is that people who suffered from it could eventually (or even spontaneously) get over it without a need for modern antibiotics or treatments. The fact that Leviticus Chapter Fourteen gives extensive rules for the cleansing and repatriating of those who became well, indicates that this may have been a fairly common occurrence.

Lesson in Humility

We learn an interesting lesson about humility from the words and actions of MichaEl (God's ArchAngel or Highest Messenger), as found at Jude 9. For there it says (when speaking of the battle he waged with the Slanderer over Moses' [dead] body): 'he didn't dare to bring a judgment of blasphemy against him (gr. ouk etolmeson krisin epenegkein blasphemias, or, not dare to/judgment to/bring/against/him blasphemous).'

Certainly, if anyone could be called an 'apostate,' it was this one whom other Bible translations call the Devil and Satan, because he turned from his righteous position in the heavens (which is what apostasy means… turning away from a state or condition). However, MichaEl never used any such disrespectful term. He just said, 'May Jehovah give you what you deserve.'

This lesson should serve as a warning to all Christians against using such abusive and condemning words against others, no matter what the circumstances. For if the term 'Christian' means being like or following Jesus; his true followers should never blaspheme others by using disrespectful words.

Living Creatures or Animals?

In the Revelation (or Apocalypse), we read of four heavenly creatures that apparently picture the major qualities of God, wisdom, justice, love, and power. And the Greek word that is used to describe these creatures here is zōo (pronounced Zō-oh), as in the place where people go to see animals today (zoo). This word simply means animals, but it is translated in most Bibles as living creatures, which was likely done for 'politically-correct' reasons. However, John just wrote animals, so that's how we've translated the word here.

Lottery or Lot

To many, the thought of choosing by lot (possibly by rolling dice or using some other form of chance) sounds immoral and quite like gambling. However, the Bible shows that this was the correct way to indicate a selection or choice by God. In fact, the word for inherit (kleronomesousi) really means to receive by lot, or in a lottery.

The reason why this method was used by faithful ancients, was because they wished to allow God's hand in their decisions, rather than trusting in the viewpoints or opinions of men. And there is good reason to believe that this method of choosing did in fact result in the manifestation of God's hand. For example, consider how John the Baptist's father (ZechariAh) was chosen by lot to serve in the Holy Place at the exact time for him to be told by a messenger of God about the upcoming birth of his son and of his son's responsibilities concerning the Messiah (Luke 1:8, 9). Also consider the fact that Matthias was chosen by lottery to replace unfaithful Judas as one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

The good sense of letting things be decided by apparent chance can be found in the wise words of Solomon at Proverbs 18:18, where he said, 'Choosing by lottery ends a dispute, and it defines the boundaries of rulers.'

Lord's (Our Father) Prayer

You will note that we have made several changes to the Lord's (Our Father) Prayer. Here are the reasons:

Love and Brotherly Love

The Greek word that is translated as brotherly love at 2 Peter 1:7 is philadelphian. The first part of that word, philea, refers to the type of love that a person might have for a close friend. In fact, the related Greek word phileo means friend. And although philea is often looked down on as a lesser form of love (rendered as affection in other Bible translations), people are often very impressed by the fact that AbraHam was referred to as God's friend (phileo).

The second part of the word, adelphos, means brothers; so philadelphian refers to a brotherly love or friendship. And as you can see by the way that Peter used this word at 2 Peter 1:7, learning to love your spiritual brothers is just one step short of achieving pure love (taken from the Greek word agape).

It is our belief that the meaning of agape has been overstated by many religious groups, because it is simply translated as love (with no hidden depth of meaning) in most other places in the Bible. However in this instance (in 2 Peter), you can see that Peter is using it to describe the richest sense of its meaning. He likely had Paul's definition of love (agape) in mind, where he wrote at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: 'Love is patient and kind. Love isn't envious, it doesn't brag, it isn't conceited, it doesn't scheme, it doesn't watch out just for itself, it doesn't stir things up, it doesn't hold grudges, and it doesn't rejoice over unrighteous things; rather, it just rejoices over the truth. It covers everything, believes everything, hopes everything, and endures everything… love never fails.'

Of course, if having philadelphian and agape came naturally to Christians, there would have been no reason for Peter, Paul, and Jesus to remind us to develop these qualities… so they don't come naturally. Therefore, we must always be conscious of our personal need to become more loving and to be more outgoing in our love for each other and for everyone else (no matter what religion), since this is the first law for true Christian, and it demonstrates our personal level of Christian maturity.

Luke

Notice that the Bible book of Luke starts out by addressing the same man as does the book of Acts… someone with the Greek name (or with title of) TheoPhilus. So we have good reason to believe that the person who wrote the book of Acts also wrote the Gospel of Luke (and about the same time), 'the beloved Physician,' Luke.

Who was Luke? The Bible doesn't tell us much about him, other than that he was a regular traveling companion of Paul. Notice that throughout the book of Acts he writes that 'we' did this or that. So Luke was likely someone who was also assigned to preach to Gentiles. And although there is no record of him being an eye-witness to the events of the life of Jesus, that isn't true of the events recorded in the book of Acts, because the accounts there show that he was an eye-witness to most of the journeys of Paul. And because he ended Acts with the imprisonment of Paul in Rome, we must assume that he did all of his writing about the year 62-CE, which is almost thirty years after Jesus' death.

Luke was quite a chronicler, since according to his own words, the book of Luke in particular was a compilation of things he had researched. And something that only a translator would notice is that quite a bit of Luke's Gospel is directly borrowed from Matthew's Gospel, although it doesn't follow in the same chronological order. There is nothing wrong with him quoting from the Gospel of Matthew, because he wasn't there; so he admits that his was a compiled account, and Matthew's writing was just one of the sources that he used (see the link, 'Augustinian Hypothesis').

Also, if you look at his writing style (Luke's writing tends to be flowery and educated), you can see that he likely wrote some of the epistles that are attributed to Paul. For it appears as though Paul may have told him what to write (because Paul had very poor vision), and Luke on occasion served as Paul's secretary.

The reason why Luke prepared the Gospel bearing his name was as he said, to set matters straight when it came to all the stories that were being told about Jesus at that late date. Notice what he wrote at Luke 1:1-3: 'Since many others have already taken on the job of putting together a statement of the facts of the things we believe as they were given to us by those who were eyewitnesses from long ago and by caretakers of the message; it seemed good for me to trace everything accurately from the start, then write them to you in the order they happened, mighty Theophilus, so you can feel confident about the things you've been taught by word of mouth.'

However, there are a number of places where Luke's Gospel disagrees with Matthew's Gospel (yes, there really are). But that is simply to be expected when several people tell the same story from different points of view. So while some have tried to discredit the Bible because of the differences, these differences prove that the accounts are authentic.

You will notice that Luke listed many of the things that Jesus said and did in a different order than you will find in Matthew. And this could be:
Š Because Jesus said the same things on other occasions
Š Because someone remembered them as being said on other occasions
Š Because (as he said) Luke was more concerned with the exact order of events than was Matthew, who appears to have been more topical or theme-driven in his writing.

However, because Luke's Gospel was written much later than Matthew's and the content shows that he was quite familiar with what Matthew wrote, most differences are likely conscious corrections or clarifications to what was written in Matthew.

Yet, there are still some very significant differences between Matthew's account of what Jesus said and what Luke quoted him as saying. The primary reason for this is that the book of Matthew appears to have been more corrupted through the years as it was being translated and copied. For just a few examples, notice the linked document, 'Coming, Presence, or Nearness?' and the Note titled 'Matthew 28:19.'

You will also notice that Luke gives an entirely different genealogical list of Jesus' ancestors than did Matthew (see the First Chapter of Matthew and the Third Chapter of Luke). This could be because Matthew listed Jesus' ancestors through Joseph's line, while Luke listed his ancestry through Mary's line. Yes, for some that may sound backward; but for more information, see the Note, 'The Missing Ancestor of Jesus.'

So is Luke's Gospel more accurate than Matthew's Gospel? Well, he did have a second look at what Matthew wrote, which usually provides an edge when it comes to accuracy. And the extensive use of the poetry of Jesus' words in Luke's account does seem to indicate a better recollection of exactly how things were said. In addition; because Luke's Gospel appears to have been originally written in Greek (so it didn't have to be translated like the book of Matthew, which early Christians tell us was originally written in Hebrew), and because it has always been treated secondary in importance to the book of Matthew by most Christians, it doesn't appear to have been corrupted as much by later translators or copyists who wished to slant the wording to represent their own private beliefs (which is still being done today by Bible translators). So wherever major difference between the accounts are found, we have learned to defer to and trust the words of Luke.

Making Fun

The account at Genesis 21:9 speaks of Hagar's son IshmaEl 'playfully making fun of'' Sarah's son IsaAc. The Greek word that we have used to translate this phrase is paizonta, which refers to child's play or a sporting activity or game. However, the root comes from the Greek word empaizo, which also means to deride or make fun of. As the result, we have concluded (from Sarah's reaction) that some sort of disrespectful act was implied in the play. Notice that the same word is also used to describe IsaAc's actions with his wife Rebecca (at Genesis 26:8), which caused King AbiMelech, the king of GeraRa, to recognize that she was IsaAc's wife, not his sister. So the word may also have implied his doing something that was a bit too familiar.

Man of Lawlessness

At 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, Paul wrote: 'Don't allow anyone to mislead you in any way, because [the Lord's Day] won't come until after there has been a great turning away and there has been a revealing of the lawless man, the son of destruction, who opposes and puts himself higher than all others that are called gods or things of worship, and who seats himself in the Most Holy Place of The God, where he publicly displays himself as being a god.'

Notice that the arrival of this 'lawless man' is marked by a 'great turning away' from true Christianity, which proves that he or it is a religious organization or clergy. He also 'seats himself in the Most Holy Place (gr. Naos) of The God,' and 'he publicly displays himself as being a god'… does this sound familiar?

Mandrake Apples

The mandrake is a perennial herb that is part of the potato family. Its leaves grow almost directly from the taproot, then fan out in a circle and lie close to the ground. Each plant grows a single white, blue, or purple flower on a stalk, which thereafter develops into a yellowish-red fruit that is about the size of a plum, and is described as having the sweet, fresh odor of an apple. The thick, often-forked taproot may resemble a man's lower limbs, therefore like ginseng, superstitious beliefs have developed about the mandrake having magical powers.

In ancient times, mandrake fruit was used as a narcotic. And in some parts of the Middle East, it is still thought to be an aphrodisiac and an aid to human fertility and conception. This is likely the reason why Jacob's wives RachaEl and Leah, who, when they were unable to bear children, considered this fruit so valuable.

Manna

While the IsraElites were in the desert prior to entering the Promised Land, the manna appeared miraculously each morning after the dew dried. The account says that it looked like white coriander (cilantro) seeds, which are perfectly round and about a quarter-inch in size. And the description that they tasted like (whole-wheat) crackers and honey provides us a good idea of its flavor. In the Hebrew text, all we read is that it looked like (hoar) frost on the ground. However, the description (in the Septuagint) of it looking like a coriander seeds, is easier to visualize.

What does manna mean? It is thought that those were the first words the IsraElites said (in Hebrew) when the saw it… 'Man hu?' or, 'What is it?'

Was manna the result of some natural phenomenon? That isn't likely, because there is no other account of anything like it in history. Notice that that no matter how much of it a person gathered, it was always enough. And the fact that it spoiled every night after sundown except on the night before the Sabbath is a pretty good indication that God was its source. However, since it was found after the dew dried off the ground, we can see that it was gathered by the moisture in the morning air.

Mark

Mark was really named John Mark, but he was referred to as just Mark to distinguish him from the others named John.

Mark was an eyewitness to Jesus' arrest in the Garden of GethSemane, for his account tells us (at Mark 14:50-52): 'Then [the Apostles] all abandoned [Jesus]and ran away. But a certain young man (who had slipped a linen nightgown over his naked body) started following close behind… and then [the mob] tried to grab him too, so he ran away naked, leaving his covering behind.' The fact that Mark doesn't identify this young man by name, indicates that he was likely talking about himself.

The next mentioning of him in the Bible is when he traveled with Paul and BarNabas to AntiOch, and from there on to the Island of Cyprus. But thereafter, the account tells us that he (against Paul's wishes) returned home to JeruSalem. And this departure later caused quite a dispute between Paul and BarNabas, when BarNabas wanted to take Mark along on a subsequent missionary journey. However, in a letter written several years after that time, Paul indicated that he had forgiven Mark and he specifically asked for him to come to him.

We know that Mark was a resident of JeruSalem, because the Bible tells us that Peter went to the home of Mark's parents (in JeruSalem) after a messenger from God had freed him from the jail there. And the fact that Mark was present in a nightgown at Jesus' arrest, indicates that he likely lived nearby.

Some commentators have claimed that Mark's Gospel was the first to be written. However it is clear to us as translators that much of Mark's story was actually borrowed from the earlier and far more detailed account of Matthew. For it appears as though, in the absence of a Greek language copy of Matthew (the Christian writer Origin wrote that Matthew's account was written in Hebrew and an early Greek translation had been lost), Mark wrote his Gospel in Greek for wider distribution among the Gentiles. Note for example, the comment at Mark 13:14, where the readers are advised to pay attention (or understand), and then compare the words to the same comment made by Matthew at Matthew 24:15.

Then, what language did Jesus actually speak? From the many references to what he said in Mark, where Jesus was quoted as saying something in Aramaic, we would have to conclude that he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew. And the fact that Mark then translates the words into Greek is a pretty good indication that Mark's Gospel was originally written in Greek.

Another thing to notice is that Mark made a correction to what Matthew wrote about the things that Jesus did after arriving at the Temple shortly before his death. For we read at Matthew 21:10-12: 'When he entered JeruSalem, the whole city was stirred up [as people asked], Who is this? But the crowd [that was with Jesus] answered, He's Jesus, the Prophet from NazarEth of GaliLee! Then Jesus went into the Temple and threw out all those who were buying and selling there, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those who were selling doves.'

As you can see, Matthew's Gospel indicates that Jesus did this all on the same day! However, it is apparent that Mark was clarifying this description in Matthew, when he wrote (at Mark 11:11), 'Then he rode into JeruSalem, went into the Temple, and looked around at everything; but because it was late, he [went back] to BethAny with the twelve.' You will notice a similar correction later in the same chapter, where it talks about Jesus cursing the fig tree.

So from things like this, it can be proven from the texts that Matthew wrote first, and then Mark borrowed from some of his writings (see the link, Augustinian Hypothesis). Of course, there is nothing wrong with one writer copying the words of another, since the books of Mark and Luke are admittedly compiled accounts, and the earlier writings of Matthew were surely included in those compilations. Therefore, since many of the things that Jesus said and did are recorded in the same order in Mark as they are in Matthew (but not in the same order as in Luke's Gospel), it is clear that Mark used the Gospel of Matthew as the source of his writing, and that someone else (probably Peter) helped to clarify things where his recollections differed, or where he remembered other things that he felt should be mentioned.

Is Mark's Gospel more accurate than Matthew's Gospel? Well, he did have a second look at what Matthew wrote, which always provides an edge when it comes to accuracy. And his close adherence to the words of Matthew would indicate that his revisions are in fact corrections. However, most of the poetry of Jesus' words is missing, so the beauty of what Jesus said was sacrificed for brevity.

Mark's Gospel seems to end in the middle of the story, which likely caused two later writers to add their own conclusions to his words. However, a study of the wording indicates that neither conclusion is likely authentic, so both have been omitted in this Bible.

Mark 7:19

At Mark 7:19, we have translated Jesus as saying, 'for it doesn't go into his heart, but into his belly and then into the sewer, making all edibles clean.' However, these words were likely quite shocking to many who were listening to Jesus, because the Law was very specific in showing which animals (for example) were clean and which were unclean. So it comes as no surprise that Jesus' Apostles said (in verse 12), 'Don't you know that the Pharisees were stumbled by what you said?'

Was Jesus really saying that they could ignore God's Law and eat anything even if the Law deemed it unclean? No, for understand that the problem he was addressing was that the Jews were thinking of themselves as clean and righteous before God because of the things that they were eating. But Jesus' point was that there are far more important things than food, since food just goes through you and it does nothing to make your body clean or unclean. Rather, what is more important to God is the kind of person you are, which is demonstrated by the things you do and say. For in verse 15 he had just said, 'There's nothing on the outside that goes into a man which can make him unclean. Rather, it's the things that come out of a man that make him unclean.' Then he added (in verses 20-23), 'It's what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. It's the things on the inside – from their hearts – that bad thoughts come… things such as immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, selfish desires, wicked actions, deceit, lack of restraint, eyes that are wicked, blasphemy, arrogance, and unreasonableness. All these wicked things that come from the inside are what make a man unclean.'

So Jesus wasn't really encouraging the Jews to break God's Law. His point was that the things we eat aren't what make us righteous.

Marriage in the Resurrection?

At Matthew 22:30, Jesus said: 'In the resurrection they won't marry or be given in marriage, for they'll be like the messengers in the heavens.'

This scripture is often quoted to show that those who are resurrected won't marry (as Jesus said). However, does this apply to all those whom the Bible says will be raised? We can't say for sure. But notice that Luke's parallel account (Luke 20:34-36) tells us this: 'Though the sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, those who have been found worthy of that age and the resurrection from the dead won't marry or be given in marriage, nor can they die anymore; for they'll have the power of the angels, since, as sons of the resurrection, they [will also be] sons of God.'

So, are we to assume that children won't be born after the resurrection? If you believe that the prophecy found in Isaiah 65 is talking about this same period, then the answer appears to be that they will. For at Isaiah 65:23 we are told:
'My elected won't labor for nothing,
Nor will they produce children for a curse;
Since their seed and all their descendants,
Will then be blessings from God
.'

Therefore, what Jesus really meant when he replied to the Sadducees is still unclear and open to interpretation. But because his words about this are found in three of the four Gospels, we are sure that they are authentic, not spurious additions.

Mary from Magdala

Much has been said and written about this woman that has no basis in history or scripture, because the only reliable record of her is in the Bible, and it doesn't really tell us much. What we do know is that her name wasn't Magdalene, as most Bibles indicate, because surnames were seldom used in Bible times. Her name was just Mary, and she was referred to as the Magdalean to differentiate her from other Marys who were also Jesus' disciples (there are at least six Marys mentioned in the Bible). It appears as though this term referred to her coming from the town of Magdala (or Magadan), which was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee about halfway between CapharNaum and Tiberias.

We find the first mention of this Mary in the second year of Jesus' preaching, where the Bible tells us that she and several other faithful women traveled among the crowd of Jesus' disciples, serving their needs from their possessions. And she was also mentioned as being among the large crowd of people who traveled with Jesus from Galilee to JeruSalem; so she thereafter witnessed his death and was one of the first to see him after he was resurrected. But there is no mention of her in the book of Acts or in the epistles thereafter.

Could she have possibly been Jesus' wife, as some have claimed? Well after Jesus' death, she isn't mentioned by Paul, James, John, Peter, or Jude… which would be strange if she had held such an important position in Jesus' life.

Actually, if Jesus had taken Mary as a wife, he would likely have disqualified himself for his high position before God… that is, if this Mary had the unsavory reputation that some have attributed to her. For notice how Jesus is described at Hebrews 3:1: 'Let's consider this Apostle and High Priest whom we confess, Jesus.' So as God's Highest Priest, Jesus could not have chosen a woman to be his wife unless she had led a clean life. For notice God's own requirements for His Priests, as found at Leviticus 21:10-14: 'And the Priest who is the chief one among his brothers … may only take a wife who is a virgin and from his own tribe… not a widow, a divorcee, someone who has been violated, or a whore. He may only take a virgin from his own people as a wife.'

Matthew 25:1

You will notice that we have included the words 'and the bride' at the end of Matthew 25:1, because it is included in the Aramaic text of Matthew, as well as in other ancient Bible texts. Although it should be a foregone conclusion that the Lord (the groom) would have arrived at his wedding banquet with his bride; many believe that the virgin guests that are mentioned in the parable are the bride! So these words that we have added (which indicate that the bride arrived with the groom) would contradict that thought and indicate that the virgins were not the bride, but were simply guests at the wedding banquet, as one would expect. Do we have any other basis for reaching such a conclusion? Yes!

Notice how this situation was prophesied at Psalm 45:15-18, where we read:
'The king's daughter is glorious within,
And she's wrapped in embroidered fringes of gold.
Then all the virgins who follow in her train,
Those closest to her, will be carried to you.
They will be carried in, giving praises in joy,
And led to the king's Most Holy Place.'

Yes, we agree that these words about the bride arriving with the groom may not have been written by Matthew; but because it just makes sense they were, we have included them in the text. For, consider the other facts, such as the number of the virgins (many brides?), and that some were not allowed into the banquet (rejected brides?). All of this indicates that they are likely not the bride. And unfortunately, this same description isn't mentioned in any of the other Gospel accounts, so we have no parallel texts to compare it against.

Recognize that in ancient Hebrew society, the custom was for a man to accept the woman from her parents, and shortly thereafter, consummated the marriage (which was the actual 'wedding'). And it was after the proof of virginity was established that the family held a banquet to which friends and guests were invited. So the fact that the virgins were invited to the celebration (wedding banquet) proves that they were not the bride but the guests.

Indeed, it would seem strange for a man to marry, and thereafter be found traveling along the road to invite some of his brides to their wedding banquet, while not allowing the rest of the brides to enter. For more information, see the subheading 'The Ten Virgins' in the linked document, 'The Faithful and Sensible Slave.'

Matthew 27:9

At Matthew 27:9, the Greek text says that JeremiAh gave the prophecy about the thirty pieces of silver and the potter's field. However, this isn't accurate, because those words were actually written by the Prophet ZechariAh (see Zechariah 11:12, 13). So it is clear that there is an error in the Greek text of Matthew. And notice that the Aramaic text doesn't name the Prophet who wrote the words; it just says 'the Prophet.' Therefore, we have gone with the Aramaic wording of this verse, for we suspect that the Aramaic texts of Matthew (only) are more accurate than the existing Greek texts of this Gospel.

Matthew 27:52, 53

We have deleted the words that are found in Matthew 27:52, 53, which speak of 'Holy Ones' arising from tombs and being seen in 'the Holy City' after the resurrection of Jesus. Why? Because the words appear to be spurious (something that was added to the Bible). As is true of other accounts found in Matthew (such as at 24:3, 28:19, 20, and several other places), we find it odd that this description is missing from the parallel account of the same words as found in Luke (see Luke 23:45). Because, if there were in fact people that were resurrected and walked around in JeruSalem after Jesus' death, we would have to ask why Luke failed to include such a startling major event.

Also notice that these particular words fit oddly into the context of Matthew's account, for they are inserted right in the middle of his description about the things that happened at the time of Jesus' death… yet according to verse 53, this is something that happened after his resurrection! So it is out of sequence, unlikely, and it detracts from the far more important symbolic miracle of the Temple curtain that separated 'the Most Holy' (the entrance to the presence of God) being ripped in two when Jesus died.

Meaning of Psalm 45

Notice that the superscription of this Psalm indicates that it is speaking about 'the loved one,' whom we would assume to be the hoped-for Messiah. However, notice how verse 6 reads in the King James Bible: 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.' So the impression we get is that the subject here is God. So why is there such a sudden change?

Well, notice how we have translated this verse:
'Your throne, O great one, is through ages of ages.
And your Kingdom is led by your scepter.'

As you can see, we used the words (which are a synonym) 'great one' to translate the Greek word theos (rather than god). Why? Although other translators have assumed that the king that is spoken of in the verse is The God, notice what the verse that follows (verse seven) goes on to say:
'For, you have loved what is right,
And you have hated law breaking.
And for this, The God who's your God,
Has anointed you with His oil,
And praised you above all your peers.
'

So it seems clear that theos in this case didn't refer to The God, but to a great or mighty one whom God was to choose and anoint to be His king; for the word theos in Greek can also refer to one lesser than The God (for more information, see the Note from John 1:1, 'Is Jesus God?').

Also notice that this one was chosen over his 'peers,' because he 'loved righteousness and hated law breaking.' Of course, God has no 'peers.' But if it is speaking of Jesus (which is what we believe), it gives us some insight as to why he was chosen by The God to be born on earth as a human.

Further insights into the true meaning of this Psalm may be gained by looking at verses 14-16, where we read:
'Then all the virgins who follow in her train,
Those nearest to her will be carried to you
.
They will be carried in gladness and praising,
And led to the king's Most Holy Place.
Instead of your fathers, sons will be born,
And you'll appoint them as rulers over the land
.'

This mention of virgins being carried to the king exactly reflects the words of Revelation 14:1-4, where we read of 144,000 'virgins' who will be 'bought from the earth' (or 'land') and then taken to heaven as 'the bride of the Lamb.'

Meeting of the Lord In the Air

The words of Paul at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 should be of particular interest to Christians, because they speak of a situation that happens to those who have died in Jesus at the time of their resurrection, and this raises some questions about what will actually happen then.

We have translated these words as saying: 'We the living who have remained until the Lord is near definitely won't go ahead of those who are sleeping [in death]. Because, the Lord himself will descend from the sky and give the command in the voice of the highest messenger [of God] and with God's trumpet. Then those who have died in the Anointed One will be resurrected first. And we the living who remain will be snatched away with them at that time into the clouds for a meeting with the Lord in the air, so we'll always be with the Lord.'

Let's examine these words that Paul wrote and see what questions are raised:

1. Why are they spoken of as being taken into the clouds (gr. en nephalais) and meeting with the Lord in the air (gr. eis aera), which is all down here in earth's atmosphere?

2. If they are being taken into heaven (the presence of God), then why is the word that is commonly translated as heaven in English (gr. ourano) specifically left unmentioned as the place to which they are taken?

3. Who are these that have died in the Anointed One (gr. nekroi en Christo)?

4. Will they thereafter 'always be with the Lord' in the air, in heaven, or here on the earth?

For an in-depth discussion of the possible answers to these questions, see the linked document, 'The Rapture.'

Men Who Have Sex With Men

The Greek word at 1 Timothy 1:10 that we have translated as men who have sex with men, is arsenokoitais. Arseno means male human and koitais means bed-ers (or those who 'bed' males). And while this term specifically refers to males who take sexual advantage of other males; in this case, Paul seems to be broadening the term to include all so-called 'homosexual' behavior.

Messengers

Most Bible translations render the Greek word aggelos (pronounced ahn-gel-ose – with a hard g) as angel wherever it is found. However, aggelos is just the Greek word for messenger.

True, in most cases where the Bible speaks of angels it is referring to spirit messengers from God. But this is clearly not the meaning in every instance. So when you see the word angel in other Bibles, understand that this may not be what was meant.

For example, consider the words found at Acts 12:15. Here, you can see that Peter had just been miraculously released from a jail and he went to the door of some faithful Christians (the family home of the Gospel writer, Mark). And when he knocked, the housemaid told the people inside that Peter was at their door. Notice that most other Bibles say that the people thought that it was 'his angel' knocking on their door. However, such rendering doesn't sound reasonable, for it would have been unusual for Christians to assume that an angel from God (who looked like Peter) was standing outside their door. Rather, you will see that our rendering of the word 'aggelous' makes more sense: 'So they said, It's [probably] his messenger.'

Another good example of why aggelos shouldn't always be translated as angel can be found at Genesis 32:3, which reads in the Septuagint: 'Apasteile de Iakob aggelous emprosthen autou pros Hesau ton adelphon autou' or, 'Sent of Jacob angels(?) ahead of/him toward Esau the brother of/him.' Here Jacob was obviously sending human messengers to his brother, not heavenly ones (angels)… but then, other Bibles translate aggelous as messengers here, so they are inconsistent in their translating if they use the word 'angel' to translate this word in other places.

Notice also the words of Haggai 1:13, where the Prophet HagGai was described as being a messenger of Jehovah. However, Haggai (although called an aggelous) was just a man, not a spirit.

And consider the words at Numbers 20:14, where we read that Moses sent messengers (gr. aggelous) from Cades to the king of Edom.' Then in verse 16, it says that 'Jehovah … heard our voice and sent His messenger (gr. aggelon – messenger, singular), who brought us out of Egypt.'

Obviously, the same word (with only conjugated variations) is used there to speak of two different types of messengers… those who were human and the one who was sent from heaven by God. Notice that in this case, most Bibles translate the first instance as messengers, but the second as angel. We have not chosen to make this distinction however, for the readers should be able to discern from the context which ones are human and which ones are spirit for themselves. And when they are unsure which is true, they (unlike Bible translators) should should keep an open mind. Yet, you'll see that there are a few instances in this Bible where we have also translated 'aggelous' as 'angels' (that is, where the text is clearly speaking of spirit creatures), simply because it fits into some of the poetry better.

Understand that translating aggelos as messenger when it is truly speaking of a spirit son of God, helps to provide readers a better, deeper understanding of the actual role that such sons of God play in His dealings with mankind… and that the term angel isn't a type of creature or a heavenly rank (as most think), but it's an assignment that may even be temporary. For we only call these spirit creatures 'angels' when they have arrived on earth to deliver messages. And such an understanding also helps us to understand why the Bible never speaks of female or baby angels… because men, women, and babies don't become angels after they die, since these heavenly spirits are in fact direct creations by God. Why do we say that?

Although most modern 'Christian' religions teach that God's messengers (angels) are just humans who died and were taken to heaven, this can't be true. For you will find that the Bible speaks of angels many times in the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl, which were written before the arrival of Jesus. However, note that Jesus himself told us (at John 3:13): 'No one has gone to heaven other than the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man.' So, since no humans could have been taken into the heavens before the resurrection of Jesus, the 'angels' that came from heaven were obviously not dead humans. Rather, they were spirit sons of God who had been created before humans existed. For notice what we read at Job 38:7 (which is speaking of the time when God founded the earth):
'When I did this, all the stars praised Me,
And all My angels shouted a cheer.'
So from this we can see that there were 'angels' long before there were humans.

At Hebrews 2:9, we read that when Jesus was born as a human, 'he was made a little lower than [God's] messengers (angels).' So we must assume that these spirit sons of God were created first, followed by humans who are a little lower in rank. However, this lower rank doesn't appear to be a permanent condition for the faithful, because Jesus said (at Luke 20:35, 36): 'But those who have been found worthy of that age and the resurrection from the dead won't marry or get married… nor can they die anymore, because they have the power of the angels. For they are sons of God and sons of the resurrection.'

Does this mean that such humans will someday become angels? Well, remember that aggeloi is not necessarily a type of creation, but a job. So although Jesus seems to have followed the common human practice of referring to such spirit creatures as 'angels' at Luke 20:35, 36; he didn't say that the faithful would thereafter become angels, but that they would then have the power of the angels (gr. dynantai aggeloi), because then they too will have become the sons of God through the resurrection.

One final point: At Daniel 4:13, 17, and 23 we find an added description of heavenly messengers by the king of Babylon, NebuChadnezzar, where he referred to them in the Hebrew text as holy 'watchers,' 'observers,' or 'sentinels.' Whether these words were inspired, we don't know (remember that these were the recorded words of a pagan king). But it is interesting that if they were, it implies that some spirit creatures are assigned the task of keeping an eye on mankind.

MichaEl

The Greek word that is translated 'Highest Messenger [of God]' at Jude 9 is ArchAggelos. Arch (pronounced ark) means highest (or beginning) and aggelos (pronounced ahn-gell-ose) is where we get the word angel or messenger.

Who was this 'highest messenger of God?' Jude gives his name as MichaEl. However, many Bible scholars think that this is the name of Jesus prior to his coming to the earth. The reasoning behind this is that Jesus is truly God's highest messenger (see the First Chapter of Hebrews), so some believe that Jesus and MichaEl are the same person.

The thought that Jesus is MichaEl is reinforced by Paul's words as found at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where we read: 'Because the Lord himself will come down from heaven and give the command in the voice of the highest messenger (gr. archaggelou) [of God] with God's trumpet.'

So since 'the Lord' is an obvious reference to Jesus, he does appear to be the ArchAngel MichaEl.

Milk of God's Word

At Hebrew 5:12-14, Paul seems to have been chiding the Christians in JeruSalem and Judea for their flagging interest in God's Word. He said: 'And although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you need someone to go back and teach you the basics of God's Word again. You've become people who need milk, not solid food. For those who live on milk are babies and they are unfamiliar with righteous teachings, while the adults eat solid food and have trained their senses to recognize the difference between right and wrong.'

What is this 'milk' that Paul was talking about? He tells us at Hebrews 6:1, 2: 'So, now that we've gone beyond the basics of the Anointed One, may we be carried on toward maturity. Let's not go back and lay a new foundation on such matters as:
Š Repenting over bad deeds
Š Having faith in God
Š Baptisms
Š Ordinations
Š The resurrection of the dead
Š The judgments on this age.'

Yet, notice that these topics are the very same things that almost all religions spend their time discussing, preaching, writing, and arguing about today. How many sermons have you heard or how many articles and books have you read recently where Christians are being 'reminded' not to get involved in 'bad deeds,' and that they must have 'faith in God' and His greatness? Too many, we are sure.

Then if you look at the rest of what Paul described as milk (baptisms, ordinations, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgments on this age), we enter the area that most Christians today consider advanced spiritual food, which some would refer to as part of a 'great spiritual banquet.' Yet Paul still called it milk, and he considered such things the wet-nursing of those who are spiritual babies.

As you can see, Paul's words are a major condemnation of those religious leaders and organizations today that consider such light spiritual fare important, because it reflects their own lack of spiritual growth and their inability to properly feed the flocks entrusted to their care.

So, is it wrong for Christians to become disgusted with spiritual pabulum… shouldn't we appreciate any spiritual food that we receive, no matter how poor its quality? As Paul said (at Hebrews 5:14), 'Adults eat solid food and have trained their senses to recognize the difference between right and wrong.' Yes, mature Christians REQUIRE solid scriptural food in order to maintain their spiritual health!

What did he consider the 'meat' of God's word? Well, read the rest of the book of Hebrews and see if you can follow it. Also, see the linked document, What Is Truth?

Missing Ancestor of Jesus

If you've ever taken the time to count them, you'll notice that there seems to be a generation missing in Matthew's account of the genealogy of Jesus in most Bibles; for we read at Matthew 1:17: 'So there were fourteen generations from AbraHam to David, fourteen generations from David until the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the Anointed One.' Yet the list in Matthew after the deportation to Babylon seems to show only thirteen names. What accounts for this?

Well, if you examine the available Aramaic text (which we have reason to believe is more accurate than the current Greek text of Matthew), you can see that 'JoSeph the son of Jacob' wasn't Mary's husband, but her father… which makes fourteen generations. Yes, she did marry a man who was also named JoSeph, but apparently he isn't the one mentioned in the text at Matthew 1:16. Notice that Mary's husband JoSeph was not the son of Jacob, but of Heli (see Luke 3:23).

Then, why does the genealogy of Luke's account differ? Because he apparently lists the family line of JoSeph, Mary's husband, while Matthew is discussing the genealogy of Mary. Yes, we realize that this the opposite to what most religions teach, but they clearly haven't done the research.

Mistreatment of Women

Many people have commented on the mistreatment of women in Bible texts, and speak as though such things were condoned by God… they weren't. Recognize that wherever the Bible speaks of women being mistreated (as in the case of the concubine mentioned in Judges the 20th Chapter), this doesn't indicate God's approval of the actions, it's just the relating of a true story. For especially during the period of Judges, the people of IsraEl had come a long way from following God's Laws, and their society had become corrupt. This is proven by all the times that God had allowed them to come under the control of (and to be oppressed by) the surrounding pagan nations.

MordecAi

MordecAi appears to be a Babylonian name, and possibly means City of Marduk, or just Marduka (see the Wikipedia reference Mordecai). Although it might seem unlikely that an IsraElite would bear the name of a pagan god; such renaming of God's people was a common practice among the Babylonians and Persians when it came to those whom they appointed as officials.

Morning Star

Admittedly, our rendering of Psalm 110:3, which reads, 'For, since the time that you came from the womb, I made you to be the [bright] morning star,' could be wrong, for it differs from the Hebrew text and other versions of the Septuagint. The Greek word in question here is eosphorou, which some have translated as dawn. However, others argue that the word should be translated as morning star, which we find logical, because Jesus referred to himself as 'the bright morning star' at Revelation 22:16. So this would explain what scripture Jesus was quoting when he used the term 'morning star' in the Revelation.

This rendering also makes more sense than the Hebrew words, 'in the splendors of holiness from the womb of the dawn,' which don't appear to mean very much, and which don't tie into other prophesies.

Moses' Sin at the Rock

The story of how Moses sinned against God by not mentioning His Name when he struck the rock in the Sin Desert and caused it to gush water has been told and retold over the centuries. However, it appears as though Moses' reason for doing this has often been overlooked. For notice the exact words of God to Moses (at Numbers 20:12): 'Then Jehovah said to Moses and Aaron, Because you didn't trust in Me enough (gr. ouk episteusate) to mention Me before the children of IsraEl, you won't be allowed to lead this gathering into the land that I have given to them.'

So while many have concluded that Moses had sinned by taking the credit for this miracle himself, that doesn't appear to be the case. Rather, God's words indicate that Moses was unsure of whether this miracle would really happen, and that's why he didn't mention God's Name before he struck the rock. So it doesn't appear to be a sin of presumptuousness, but one of a lack of faith.

Moses' Wife

In harmony with the statement found at Numbers 12:3, Moses must truly have been 'the humblest man on the earth,' because we actually know very little about him and his personal life. We know that he was married to a Midianite woman named ZipPorah (the daughter of RaguEl), and that he had at least two sons by her, Gersam and EliEzer. So it comes as no surprise that there is quite a bit of controversy about the exact reason why Miriam and Aaron were so upset over Moses' wife, whom the account at Numbers 12:1 describes as an 'Ethiopian woman.' Was this ZipPorah, or did he take another wife? And if it was another wife, what happened to ZipPorah?

Unfortunately, we don't know who this wife was for sure, because the Bible simply doesn't tell us anything more. However, at least religious one source claims that the woman was ZipPorah, and that her being called an 'Ethiopian' wasn't unusual, because people who lived in the Arabian Peninsula 'were often referred to as Ethiopians.' We strongly doubt the accuracy of this conclusion, because Moses had been married to ZipPorah for at least forty years prior to the time that this problem arose, so it seems unlikely that Miriam and Aaron would have suddenly turned against Moses and start condemning him over her. Rather, the fact that they started questioning his right to represent God at that late date (after ZipPorah was likely a great grandmother) indicates that the marriage in question was something that had happened more recently. Otherwise, the actions of Miriam and Aaron simply make no sense at all.

Also, the fact that ZipPorah was one of the Midianites, who were descendants of AbraHam (see Genesis 25:1) and close relatives of the IsraElites, makes it very hard for us to believe that the Bible writer would have referred to her as 'an Ethiopian,' or as the Hebrew text says, 'a Cushite,' because both terms refer to a dark-skinned race that descended through Noah's son Ham (see Genesis 10:7). So the term proves that his new wife was a black person, not an olive-skinned descendant of AbraHam.

Then, what was it about this woman that so upset Miriam? Well, understand that she was Moses' older sister (the one who had followed him as a baby and who spoke to Pharaoh's daughter), so she was probably very protective of her younger brother. Also, the woman he married wasn't an IsraElite and her skin was likely much darker than that of others in the camp, so there may have been some racial bias involved.

Then where was ZipPorah at the time? The Bible just doesn't tell us. Had ZipPorah died? Had she left Moses? Or could he have possibly taken a second wife? Again, we just don't know. However, just look at the mathematics: Moses married ZipPorah when he was forty years old, so she was at least twenty years old (and likely older) at the time they were married. Then forty years later, Moses went before Pharaoh and led the IsraElites out of Egypt. So ZipPorah had to be at least 60 years old at the time, and it could be that she had died prior to what looks like Moses' second marriage.

However, even if ZipPorah was still living and Moses had in fact taken a second wife, this was not in any way a violation of God's Law (see the subheading 'Polygamy' in the linked document, 'Christian Morality'). And since the Scriptures prove that Moses still had God's approval, who would dare to question his actions or to make self-righteous assumptions based on modern religious dogma with so little evidence?

Mystery

The Greek word that is translated as mystery here (Sacred Secret in other Bibles) is mysterion, which is the root of the English word, mystery.

Nahum; Prophet to the Kurds?

It is interesting that the traditional tomb of the Prophet Nahum is located far away from JeruSalem, in Iraqi Kurdistan, close to a town named Alqosh. This tomb has been recognized by the Jews through the centuries as the place where the Prophet Nahum was buried, because his prophecy identifies him as an 'Elkoshite,' or a resident of a town of a similar name, which was then located in Northern Assyria. Notice that this is where the ten tribes of IsraEl were relocated after their destruction by that ancient world power, and it's where the people who have genetically proven to be the closest relatives to the jews – the Islamic Kurds – still live today.

Naos

There are several places throughout the Bible where the Greek word naos is used, which is commonly translated as temple in other Bibles. However, that really isn't what it means. The Greek word for temple is hierou, while naos refers to the innermost part of a temple where the Greeks believed that their gods dwelled. So, naos in the Bible seems to be a Hellenized (Greek) description of what the IsraElites called 'the Most Holy,' or 'the Holy of Holies,' where God was present and spoke to Aaron, Moses, and the High Priests. In fact, there are instances where naos seems to imply being in the very heavenly presence of God. As the result, we have translated the word as Divine Habitation, Holy Place, Most Holy, or Holy of Holies, depending on the context.

We especially find this word (naos) used in the book of Revelation, where the word for Temple isn't found at all. However, its use at Revelation 11:1, 2 could imply the entire Temple.

Never Die?

According to some Bible Translations, Jesus said (as recorded at John 8:51), 'Most truly I say to you; If anyone observes my word, he will never see death at all.' Yet, all of Jesus' faithful Apostles and disciples (who had certainly observed his word) died, for the Bible tells of that some of them (such as Stephen and James) did die. So, did Jesus lie?

No! Rather, the way that those words are translated in other Bibles is what is wrong. In Greek, John 8:51 actually reads: 'Amen, amen, lego hymin; ean tis ton emon logon terese, thanaton ou me theorese eis ton aiōna,' or, 'Amen, amen (truthfully) I/say to/you; if/ever anyone the my word should/observe, death not not he/shall/behold into the age.'

So notice that the Greek word thanaton (death) precedes aiōna, which is in the singular accusative tense. So Jesus was saying that they wouldn't know death through the era or age, or that they wouldn't always remain dead.

This is the same sentence structure as that which Jesus used at John 11:26, where he said, 'kai pas ho zon kai pisteuon eis eme ou me apothane eis ton aiōna. Pisteueis touto?' or, 'and all the living and believing into me not not should/die into the age. Believe/you this?' And the meaning of this is explained by what Jesus said at John 6:40: 'Yes, it is the Will of my Father that everyone who pays close attention to the Son and believes in him should have age-long life. For I will resurrect him… [yes] me, on the Last Day!'

As you can see, he wasn't saying that they wouldn't die but that they wouldn't stay dead through the age or ages, because he would resurrect them on the last day. Therefore, we have translated John 8:51 as saying, 'And I truthfully say that those who obey my words won't see death through the age. Do you believe this?'

For more information, see the linked document The Hereafter.

New JeruSalem

The twenty-second Chapter of Revelation gives us a vision of a glorious Holy City that is built on a foundation of the 'Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.' Notice the description as found at Revelation 21:9-12, 14: 'Then one of the seven messengers with the seven bowls that were full of the seven last plagues came and spoke to me, saying, Come here and I'll show you the bride… the Lamb's woman! So he carried me off on the wind to an enormously high mountain, and there he showed me JeruSalem, the Holy City, which was coming down out of the sky from God. It had all the glory of God, it sparkled like the most precious of gems, and it gleamed like crystal-clear jasper stones. It had high, thick walls and twelve gates. There was a messenger at each of the twelve gates, and each one was inscribed with the name of one of the twelve tribes of the sons of IsraEl. The city wall also had twelve foundation stones, upon which the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb were written.'

So, what is this 'New JeruSalem?' Well, recognize that earthly JeruSalem was the capital city from which the kings ruled over God's people. So, New JeruSalem, which is described here as the Lamb's bride, likely pictures those who will be chosen to be part of God's arrangement to govern His people. And Revelation 21:2, 3 goes on to tell us: 'I also saw the Holy City New JeruSalem stepping down out of the sky from God, prepared like a bride who had been adorned for her man. Well at that I heard a loud voice from the throne say, Look! The Tent of The God is with mankind! He's going to pitch His Tent among them, then they'll be His people and He'll be their God.'

Notice that here we find a link between the 'Holy City' and 'the Tent of The God.' So does this mean that they are the same thing? Well, the original Tent of God wasn't located within the city's (JeruSalem's) walls on Mount Zion at first. However, it was moved to nearby Mount MoriAh during the later portion of David's reign. And shortly after the beginning of Solomon's reign, it was replaced by the Temple (often referred to in Greek as the oikospermanent dwelling or house). So the point we get from this is that the city and the Tent may not be the same thing.

Also recognize that the Greek word used at Revelation 21:3, skene (translated here as Tent), means a temporary dwelling; so the verse doesn't indicate that this is going to be God's permanent residence (oikos or house). Thus it doesn't appear as though He isn't going to come down to live among mankind, as some have assumed. Rather, the use of the word skene likely indicates that He will be present on occasions within His Tent, as He was in the first Tent of God (or tabernacle) when He spoke to Moses, Aaron, and to some of the High Priests that followed.

Notice too, that we read at Revelation 21:22: 'I didn't see a Divine Habitation (naos) within [the city], because Jehovah God the Almighty and the Lamb are its Most Holy (naos).' So the indication from this is that The God (Jehovah) and Jesus will continue to live in the naos (heavenly dwelling of the Gods), but their glory will be the light of the earth. This conclusion is in line with the words of the Old Law concerning the High Priest (who pictured Jesus); for we are told at Leviticus 21:10-12: 'And the Priest who is the chief one among his brothers … may not leave the Holy Place and he must not make the Holy Place of his God unclean, because he wears God's holy anointing oil.'

However, as in ancient JeruSalem, the under-Priests will apparently be allowed to come and go… though they must leave their Priestly garments inside the Most Holy (heaven?). For we read at EzekiEl 44:19:
'And when going to the People's outer courtyard,
They must remove the clothes in which they will serve,
And leave them in the Holy's inner chambers…
They must then wear other clothes.
For no way can they make people holy,
By approaching them in those clothes.'

So notice that it doesn't appear as though these Holy Ones will become humans once again, because we are told at EzekiEl 42:14:
'No one may enter [this place] but the Priests;
And from the Holy Place, they can't leave,
To go to the outer courtyard;
Thus, those who are leading will always be clean.
Nor may people touch the garments they wear;
For, they are also most holy.
So when touching the people, they must wear other clothes.'

For more information, see the linked document, 'JeruSalem and the IsraEl of God.'

Nicolaitans

The infiltration of this sect into two of the seven congregations that Jesus addressed in the Second and Third Chapters of Revelation, has raised the question of what they may have been teaching that he found so offensive. This is important, since the description of these congregations seems to be mirrored among modern Christianity.

A Second-Century Christian elder, Irenaeus, identified the Nicolaitans in his treatise, 'Against Heresies.' And there he wrote that they are an 'offshoot of the knowledge which is falsely so-called,' explaining that they 'lead lives of unrestrained indulgence.'

This description seems to be almost identical to what Paul warned Timothy of at 1 Timothy 6:20, 21, when he wrote: 'O Timothy, guard this hope and turn away from all the unclean and opposing empty talk that is falsely called knowledge, through which some who once showed promise in the faith were turned aside.'

So this corrupting influence appears to have still had an effect on Christian congregations into the middle of the Second Century, for it looks like Iranaeus was talking about the same evil influence of which Paul was warning Timothy in the middle of the First Century.

What is this falsely called knowledge that was (and still is) a corrupting influence on Christians? Apparently, it is acceptance of a philosophy that people may be Christians and still do whatever they wish. However, others have looked at the name Nicolaitans and suggested that its Greek meaning (nicao) to conquer (laos) the people, refers to the earliest form of a priestly order or clergy. For more information, see the link Nicolaism.

Noble Bereans

The words of Acts 17:11 are often quoted to show why Christians should follow along in their Bibles as its verses are being read by others in Church. And while this is an excellent practice, the actual reason for following along is often overlooked or glossed over. Notice what Luke wrote: 'Now, these people were nobler than those who were in Thessalonica, because they eagerly welcomed the Word and examined the Scriptures every day, to make sure the things [they were being told] were true (gr. ei echoi tauta houtos, or, if were these so).'

It's an unfortunate fact that while we are often told to 'examine the scriptures every day,' we are seldom reminded that the reason for this is to make sure that the things we are being taught are true; for most religious leaders demand blind acceptance of their teachings and they don't like those who question or doubt. Yet, isn't this why there are so many religions claiming to be 'Christian' today… because people aren't examining their Bibles to see if what they are being taught is true?

Checking to make sure that a teacher, preacher, magazine, or book is properly applying the Scriptures is vital for true Christians, and questioning should never be avoided. For far too often we find religious leaders quoting Bible verses out of context without any consideration of the circumstances under which these things were written, and the result is always wrong interpretations of the verses being quoted. Is this acceptable in the eyes of God? Notice Paul's answer, as found at Romans 3:7, 8: 'But if I tell a lie and that makes the truth of God and His glory grow, why should I be judged a sinner? Well, it's [because we're doing such things] that people aren't just slandering us, they're proving that some of us are saying, Let's do bad things so that good things can happen. And this is why such a condemnation is so well deserved!'

It has long been said that 'the Bible is a fiddle on which you can play any old tune.' However, this really isn't true; for when the context of any verse is fully considered, we have found the Bible to be a harmonious writing with a single theme and purpose. But it is true that you can get the Bible to teach almost anything if you quote the Scriptures out of their context! And it's unfortunate that many sincere Christians will quote scriptures that don't really apply, just to make a point. Then when the hearers don't search the Scriptures for themselves (to read the context of what they are being taught), they start believing things that are wrong. Can this be excused? No, not when we each have easy access to God's Word and we simply choose not to read and examine what it really says, preferring to trust others to make up our minds as to what we should believe.

So, after reading religious literature or listening to an interesting speaker, each of us should ask, 'Do I just remember what was said, or do I also remember the scriptures that prove what was said?' If we can only quote what others say or write, we have missed the point, because we really don't know if it's true.

It's unfortunate that few Christians today are like those noble people in the synagogue at Berea, because almost all 'Christian religions' require their members to accept their doctrines without question or disagreement. In fact, even the 'scriptural' arguments for or against many teachings come prepackaged in religious magazines, books, tracts, and brochures to keep members from thinking or doing any personal research. And doing personal Bible research or questioning accepted doctrines can result in condemnation or even shunning among some religions!

Anyhow, if you've come this far, hopefully you can see the advantage of the format of this Bible. For we have tried to avoid translating key scriptures for use on a stand-alone basis to substantiate doctrines, as we find being done in most other Bibles. Rather, we have attempted to fit all the verses into their context. We realize, of course, that this is going to make the 2001 Translation unpopular with those who only use the Bible to prove their beliefs and don't wish to read the whole Bible. Sorry, but our goal is to reach the hearts of people like those in Berea. For you will notice that most of our 'conclusions' are simply suggestions, which are open to discussion and revision. No, we don't claim to be infallible, because we are Bible translators and researchers, not a religion.

For more information, see the linked document, What Is Truth?

One-Woman Man

Paul's instructions to Timothy and Titus (at 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6) about the requirements for those whom they were to appoint as overseers or bishops have usually been translated as 'the husband of one wife,' or as, 'faithful or true to his one wife.' But was Paul truly forbidding polygamy for all Christians here?

That polygamy is a sin, is being taught by most western Christian religions. Yet, according to the Old Law, polygamy was not only allowed among faithful IsraElites, but it may have been required in the case of levirate (brother-in-law) marriages (see Deuteronomy 25:5). However, though polygamy wasn't really a sin, it was likely forbidden by Roman laws and customs in the First Century, and this may have been the primary reason why Paul forbid the practice among those who might serve as Christian elders.

Understand that we aren't promoting the practice of polygamy here, since it is clear from the case of Adam and Eve (gr. Eue) that God had originally intended for a man to have just one 'helper' or mate. However, these instructions to Timothy and Titus have long been used among Christian religions to not only prevent polygamous converts from serving in an office, but to forbid polygamy among any of its members. And there are many cases where religions have required men to put away other wives and children (as in parts of Africa, where polygamy is still practiced) before they can even be baptized… although these people are in no way in violation of local statutes.

Understand that although the standard set by God was monogamy; there are no actual instructions in the Bible that forbid Christians to have more than one wife, other than the standards that Paul set out for elders who would be living under Roman law. In fact, in the Bible's patriarchal societies, such great men of faith as Job, AbraHam, Jacob, David, and many others are known to have had multiple wives and/or concubines, yet they weren't condemned by God. So there is little scriptural basis for Christians in monogamous societies to judge or to set such standards for Christians in polygamous societies. And for a fact; the coming of Christianity didn't create any new set of 'Christian' laws.

For more information, see the subheading 'Polygamy' in the linked document, Christian Morality.

Paradise

At Luke 23:43, one of the criminals that was hung next to Jesus when he was impaled expressed belief in Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him when he got into his Kingdom. And Jesus' words to him, 'Amen, soi ego semeron met emou ese en to paradeiso' (Amen, to/you I/say today with me you will be in the paradise), have been translated as, 'I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.'

As you can see, the inference created by punctuating Jesus' words this way, is that the person would be in 'paradise' with Jesus on that same day. Yet Jesus wasn't even resurrected until two days later, and he didn't ascend into the heavens until some forty days after his death and resurrection. So this conclusion (and punctuation) isn't likely. In addition, the word paradeiso really means a garden or park (a place on earth), because paradise (gr. ParaIso) is the same word that was used to describe the 'Paradise of Delights in the land of Edem' (Garden of Eden) in the Greek Septuagint (the popular 'Bible' of Jesus' day).

Recognize that this criminal who was hung beside Jesus had never been baptized and had done nothing else to that point to be found worthy of being appointed a king in the heavens. So Jesus' words should obviously have been translated as, 'I'm telling you this today: You will be with me in the Paradise.' In other words, Jesus was telling him on that day that he would be resurrected in a paradise garden when Jesus arrives as king and begins his rule over the earth. This isn't a radical conclusion, since the Revelation says that the resurrections will not happen until 'the Lord's Day' (see Revelation 1:10 and 20:4-6).

Parvaim or Pharaoh Aim?

Notice that in this Bible translation we have rendered 2 Chronicles 3:6, 7 as saying: 'Using gold that he (Solomon) got from Pharaoh Aim, he gilded the Temple's walls, gatehouses, roofing and doorways, and he carved cherubs on its walls.'

This is a different rendering than what is found in most other Bibles; for most say that Solomon got the gold from (some land called) Parvaim, which has never been located. However, notice that the Greek word we have translated as Pharaoh Aim is Pharou/aim, which appears to refer to Pharaoh Amenemnisu of the 21st Dynasty of ancient Egypt, whose reign (1051–1047 BCE) is very close to what we calculate for the reign of Solomon. In addition, Egyptologists say that he could be the same person as Pharaoh Amenemope, who is said to have reigned until 992-BCE (see the linked Wikipedia article, Amenemope).

Paul's Letters

Much has been written by Bible critics about who wrote Paul's letters. For they claim the writing styles vary so much that it is improbable that he wrote them all… and he obviously didn't, as the words of Romans 16:22 testify: 'I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in [the] Lord.'

We know that Paul, as several of his letters indicate (see Galatians 4:13-15), had very poor eyesight, which meant that he couldn't do much reading or writing in his later years. Was this caused by the brightness of his vision of Jesus, as some say? Well, it could have been, but we doubt it. Remember that there were no eyeglasses at the time that Paul wrote, and he was likely well over forty years old (a time when many of us beyond that age can't see to write letters today without our eyeglasses). And there are several other natural causes for poor eyesight other than miraculous visions.

An indication of Paul's poor eyesight is found at Galatians 6:11, where we read, 'Look at these large letters that I wrote with my own hand!' We can see from these words that Paul probably wrote the book of Galatians by himself, and the mentioning of 'large letters' shows that he could barely see his own handwriting. That he likely wrote this letter himself is seen by the relatively short and less 'flowery' introductory words (see Galatians 1:1-5) that are typical of his other epistles.

Obviously, a man named Tertius wrote the letter to the Romans for Paul. And if you look at the headings or conclusions of other letters, you'll find references to those who likely did the writing. For example, First Corinthians starts with the words, 'Paul … and Sosthenes our brother.' Then Second Corinthians starts out the same way, 'Paul … and our brother Timothy.' So there are obviously different writing styles in Paul's letters, because (as the letters themselves indicate) different people did the writing. This may be quite a revelation to critics and college professors… but they obviously haven't actually read the letters.

For more information, see the subheading, 'The Gospels' in the linked document, The Bible's Internal Proofs of Its Authentic History.

People or Men?

The Greek word anthropois, which is usually translated as men in other Bibles, actually refers to man as the species, not necessarily to the gender. So we have often translated it as people to show that gender may not be implied.

Period of the Judges

If you add up the periods that IsraEl's judges served (as found in the Bible books of Judges and 1 Samuel) and believe that each period was consecutive, you will conclude that the judges ruled IsraEl (prior to the period of kings) for about 450 years. However, according to 1 Kings 6:1, it was 480 years from IsraEl's exodus from Egypt until Solomon started construction of the Temple in the fourth year of his reign. So, adding that four years to the 40 years of David's reign and the 40 years of Saul's reign, then adding the 40 years that IsraEl spent in the desert after leaving Egypt just leaves 356 years, which includes the periods of JoShua and SamuEl. So if we can trust the accuracy of the 480 years that is mentioned in 1 Kings (440 years according to the ancient Septuagint), we must assume that the periods of the judges overlapped considerably. For more information on the chronology, see the subheading 'Possible Chronology' in the linked document, 'Which Was the Pharaoh of the Exodus.'

Perfect Calf or Lamb

In many other Bibles, we read that the IsraElites were to offer unspotted lambs in their sacrifices to God. Did this mean that the animals were to be perfectly white with no spots, or did it mean that they were to be perfectly healthy?

It is interesting that the Greek word which is often translated as unspotted is hamartias, which really means without sin. And obviously, the word sin can't really be applied to animals, as we understand the term. So we must assume it meant that the lambs were to be physically perfect.

We don't know if the sacrificial sheep were to have no literal spots (as is indicated in some Bibles). Yet, other sacrificed animals that are naturally spotted (such as bulls and goats) are also described as having to be perfect, since hamartias (or another Greek word that was used, hamoma, which can't be directly translated into English) is also used to describe them. So although it is our conclusion that those words should actually be translated as sinless; we realize that translating them that way might be confusing to readers who think of sin as wrong actions, not physical attributes. So we have decided to use the word perfect… although that term is better translated from the Greek word telios, which was also used when describing the Anointed Priests.

In view of the fact that God usually claimed just the undesirable portions of an animal for His sacrifices (the fat, liver, and kidneys), one might wonder why He required the animals to be healthy (not sick, lame, or deformed). However, it's important to understand the meanings of the sacrifices. According to the Bible, they were required to show the need to offer a perfect human life to redeem mankind from the effects of the imperfection, sin, and death that we inherited from Adam (due to his sin in the Paradise). At 1 Peter 1:19, for example, we can clearly see that the sacrifice of these 'perfect' animals pictured God's offering of His perfect son Jesus. And at John 1:29, Jesus was described as 'The Lamb of God who lifts sin from the world!'

Unfortunately, many people (due to religious cynicism and wrong teachings) have lost sight of just who Jesus was, what type of person he had to be, and why he had to die as he did. But the requirement that sacrificial lambs had to be spotless and that the Anointed Priests had to be perfect (telios), showed that they pictured Jesus, the perfect son of The God.

Perfect Priests

At Leviticus 4:5 we find an interesting description of the Priest who was to offer the blood of a sacrificial animal directly to God within the Sacred Tent's Most Holy compartment. In Greek, he is described as ho teteliomenos, which can be translated as, the perfect. So it logically follows that God must have considered such Priests perfect when they were performing their sacred duties within the Most Holy.

Also notice that these words (Perfect Priest) seem to describe a specific Priest among the Priests in the lines of Moses and Aaron. In fact, the descriptions found at Leviticus Chapter Sixteen indicates that it was those who were later described in the Bible as the 'High Priests,' or later as those who were chosen (possibly on an annual basis) from among the Priests to offer the sacrifices on what came to be known as, 'The Day of Atonement.'

Other Bibles have translated teteliomenos as consecrated, which isn't a bad choice, since it indicates that the Priest was chosen to his work by God… and that is what the Greek words imply. However, consecrated is an unfamiliar term today, so we have chosen not to use it. Notice that the root portion of teteliomenos is telios, which means perfect, end, or finish. So we have selected perfect as the best way to translate the term here.

Peter

The teaching that Peter was the first 'Pope,' 'Papa,' or 'Father' of the Christian Church, and that he ruled from (and died in) Rome, is a common but unsubstantiated religious supposition. For if Peter had been in Rome during the time of the Roman Emperor Nero (when Paul was there), this certainly would have been written about in the book of Acts, since he surely would have visited Paul while he was under house arrest! Yet there is no mention of Peter during that period. In fact, Peter is no longer spoken of in the Acts from the Fifteenth Chapter on. So we would have to conclude that sometime before Paul's last visit to JeruSalem (when he was arrested and sent off to Rome), Peter was either already dead or in far-away Babylon.

Why Babylon? As 'the Apostle to the circumcised' (see Galatians 2:9), Peter's ministry focused on reaching those in large Jewish settlements… as was true of the country around Babylon. Notice, for example, that he said at 1 Peter 5:13: 'I send greetings from the woman who was also chosen along with you, and Mark (my son), from Babylon.'

It is true that the City of Babylon may not have really been inhabited by the time of Peter; so those who say that he was in Rome, claim that when he said Babylon, he really meant Rome. However, remember that Babylon wasn't just the name of a city, it was the name of a vast empire at one time. And the city that replaced Babylon in the country of Babylon (Seleucia) was heavily populated by Jews (those to whom Peter was an Apostle). Therefore, it seems logical that this is where Peter had gone with his wife and his friend Mark during Paul's trials in Rome.

As for Peter being the head of the early Christian Church; notice, for example, what Paul wrote at Galatians 2:9: 'When they came to know the loving care that was shown to me; James, Cephas (Peter), and John (the ones who seemed to be pillars) gave BarNabas and me their approval to go to the nations, while they would go to the circumcised.'

As you can see from Paul's words; Peter's assignment wasn't to preach to the gentile Romans, but to Jewish communities. It is also clear from those same words that there was no earthly 'head of the Christian congregation' at the time. There were just three 'pillars' – or, 'the ones who seemed to be taking the lead,' – and they were living in JeruSalem during this earlier visit by Paul.

Then if you read Galatians 2:11-21, you will see how just a few verses away, Paul reprimanded Peter for separating himself from Gentile converts… not something Paul would have done if Peter were the 'infallible' head of the Christian Church.

Also notice that a close examination of Jesus' words to Peter, found at Matthew 16:18, 19, don't really seem to indicate that Peter would be the head of Jesus' 'Church.' For what he really said was, 'I also tell you this: You are Peter; but I will build my congregation (or 'Church') on this bedrock so the gates to the place of the dead won't overpower it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you make binding on earth will be bound in the heavens. And whatever you set free on earth will be set free in the heavens.'

Notice how verse 18 reads word-for-word in Greek: 'su ei Petros kai epi taute te petra oikodomeso mou ten ecclesian,' or, 'you are Bedrock, and on this but bedrock I/will/build my the calling (Church).'

You can see that Jesus didn't say, 'I will build my Church on you;' he said, 'I will build my congregation (or 'calling') on this but bedrock.' What 'bedrock' Jesus was referring to? Was it Peter? Notice that at Revelation 21:14 we read of a future city whose walls 'had twelve foundation stones, and the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb were written on them.' From this you can see that Peter was described as being just one of the twelve foundation stones of that city, not the primary foundation or bedrock.

Then who or what was this 'bedrock' upon which Jesus was going to build his 'church?' At 1 Corinthians 3:11, we read: 'No one can lay a foundation other than what is already laid, Jesus the Anointed.' And at Ephesians 2:20, we read: 'You've been built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, whose cornerstone is the Anointed Jesus himself!'

Therefore, what Jesus appears to have been saying at Matthew 16:18 is that, as Peter's name meant Bedrock, Jesus' body (after his death) would serve as the bedrock or foundation of the Christian Congregation (or Church). In other words, 'this bedrock' that the Congregation would be built on was the body of Jesus, not on Peter.

For notice what Peter himself said at 1 Peter 2:4-6, 'Approach him as though he's a living block of stone that was for a fact rejected by men but was chosen as something precious by God, [upon whom] you are being built as living blocks into a spiritual [Temple] – as a Holy Priesthood – to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus the Anointed One. For the Scripture says: {Look!} I am laying in Zion a select and precious cornerstone, and those who put faith in it will never be shamed.'

Also, look at the actual sentence structure at Matthew 16:18: 'su ei Petros kai epi taute te petra.' You can see that the word te appears before petra, which according to Greek grammar indicates that petra was used as a parallel to Petros, or that this was just a play on words. Te is not a common Bible word. It is what is referred to as an 'enclitic particle,' which is often translated as and, but is used to couple parallel thoughts. That the Greek word which is normally translated as and, is kai; but according to The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, 'te is employed generally when something is subjoined, and does not thus directly and necessarily follow.' So, 'te' is better translated as 'but' in this case.

There is certainly no indication in any other part of the Bible that Peter ever took the principal lead in governing the Congregation. In fact, when the matter of Gentile circumcision was raised before the elders in JeruSalem, the decision was given by (Jesus' half-brother) James, not by Peter. Also, appointing Peter as head of the church would have gone against Jesus' own instruction to his Apostles; for he said (at Matthew 23:10-12): 'Nor should you be called leaders, for you have but one Leader, the Anointed One. However, the greatest among you must be your servant… whoever promotes himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be promoted.'

As to Peter's being given 'the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven;' this refers to the leading role that Peter was to play in identifying and explaining the outpouring of God's Holy Breath, first on the Jews at Pentecost (see Acts 2:14-39), and later upon the first Gentile converts (see Acts Chapter 10). All of this had to do with opening the opportunity to rule (first to Jews, then to Gentiles) in the 'Kingdom of God.'

But wasn't Peter told that he would be given greater powers by God? For didn't Jesus tell him (at Matthew 16:19), 'I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in the heavens. And whatever you set free on the earth will be set free in the heavens?' Yes, but notice that these same powers were promised to all the Apostles at Matthew 18:18.

Then, where did Peter die? Well, we do know that he died violently for his faith, since that is what Jesus foretold would happen at John 21:18, 19. So Peter likely died at the hands of Jews or Romans in Babylon sometime before the destruction of JeruSalem (66-70 CE). For there is no Bible (or other authenticated historical) record of his ever traveling to or being killed in Rome.

Phantom

When Jesus' disciples saw him coming toward them walking across the water, what did they think they were seeing? The fact is; nobody knows what was going through their minds, although many commentators apparently claim such clairvoyance. The Greek word that the disciples used to describe what they saw was phantasma, which is the root of the English word phantom. The meanings that are listed in Bible references to define this Greek word include, vision, apparition, and appearance.

Pharisees

During the earthly life of Jesus, no religious group was more castigated by him than the Jewish sect of the Pharisees. The name Pharisees literally means the Separated Ones, which could refer to their belief that they were separate from (and superior to) the common people of IsraEl. They also believed that they would be the only ones to be 'saved' when God brings retribution on the wicked.

The Pharisees actually set the pattern for many modern-day so-called 'Christian' beliefs (although the group predated the earthly life of Jesus), for they also seem to have taught that souls don't die and that bad people suffer eternal punishment (as was taught by many pagan religions of the time).

The Pharisees fasted twice each week, they were conscientious about paying the tithes, and they believed in the resurrection. In addition, they took pride in their 'righteousness,' and they obviously looked down on the common people. For they had detailed rules about what could and couldn't be done on a Sabbath, for example; and it was because these rules went beyond the spirit of God's Laws that they hated Jesus when he exposed their foolishness by healing the sick on Sabbath days.

To impress their peers with their righteousness, the Pharisees made the wooden cases in which they carried the Scriptures larger than normal, and they made the fringes of the bottoms of their robes a little longer than those of the rest of the Jews. They also prayed aloud and fasted in public. Most were relatively well to do, and they enjoyed the privileges of being viewed as 'holy people.' So, why was Jesus so opposed to them and their teachings?

Well, in addition to the fact that many of their teachings were out of line with what was written in the Scriptures, the problem was that they were self-righteous and they were constantly turning Bible principles into laws. They also told other people what they should be doing, but then they made up rules to allow themselves exceptions.

Does any of this sound familiar? A common human failing when people are trying to live righteous lives, is that they typically look down on others who aren't trying as hard. And another such failing is when such people take the rules of conscience that they have created for themselves and turn them into laws by which they teach others to live. Of course, this is also a constant problem among zealous religious groups today; and as Jesus pointed out, such self-righteous attitudes aren't pleasing to God.

An example of this bad attitude and the way that it affects religious rule making is seen in the case where the Pharisees (in particular) objected to the fact that the Apostles (and Jesus, in Luke's account) failed to wash their hands before eating. Although there is nothing in God's Law that required washing before eating, the Pharisees had elevated the principle of 'being a clean people' into a law, which they used to condemn even the holy. For more information, see the Note, 'Eating With Unwashed Hands?'

As you can see; whenever any person or religious group starts setting out Bible principles as Laws, they step into the shoes of the Pharisees.

See the document, 'God's Laws and Principles.'

Poor in Spirit

While most people think that what are called 'the Beatitudes' (Jesus' opening words in the Sermon on the Mount) are quite simple and straight forward, some of the things that he said there are very complicated and difficult to translate accurately. A good example is the words that are found at Matthew 5:3. In the Greek text, this reads: 'Makarioi oi ptochoi to pneumati, hoti auton e Basilea ton ouranon,' or, 'Blest the poor/ones to/the breath that of/them is the Kingdom of/the heavens.' And in Aramaic it reads, 'TuwČyhon Lmiskéné Brukh. D-dheelhonee mČlkutha dČshmČy-ya,' or, 'Blest are they; the people poor in the breath of life. For theirs is the Kingdom of the heavens.'

The first translating problem that arises here, is with the word that is translated as breath or spirit (pneumati in Greek). For both the Greek and Aramaic words used there just mean breath, wind, or unseen force… which is what the Latin word spirit also means. And notice that in the Aramaic text, it is referred to as the 'breath (spirit) of life,' which seems to be speaking of the life force that God once breathed into Adam. So, much greater things may be implied here than most suspect.

Yet, regardless of the meanings of the words, the question we must next ask is: Why would those who are poor of 'spirit' or 'breath' be given the Kingdom of the heavens? Wouldn't such a great reward rather require a great depth of spirituality?

Well, one Bible (NW) translates the words 'ptochoi to pneumati' as 'conscious of their spiritual need,' which seems to make some sense to those who think Jesus was speaking of a requirement for life in heaven. However, that thought doesn't seem to be implied by the original text. And we once also translated it as, 'those who beg for [God's] Breath,' implying that they are poor and begging for more of His Spirit. This made some sense to us at the time, since the word ptochoi could refer to a beggar or supplicant. However, we no longer think that is what Jesus meant.

So, after much discussion among our contributors and advisors, we have decided to leave the words much the same as they are in the Greek text:
'Blest are those poor in spirit,
For theirs is the Kingdom of the heavens.'

But then, what did Jesus mean?

Well, while most people think of Jesus' famous sermon as just good words to live by (that's why they call them Beatitudes, which means, Happinesses); he apparently didn't say them for that reason. Rather, if you read the next verse, you'll see that he was actually foretelling a change in opportunities. Notice that it says there:
'Blest are the sad,
For they will find comfort.'

Obviously, Jesus wasn't implying that all the sad people in the world will be comforted, nor was he saying that everyone who is poor in spirt will be blest. Rather, he was speaking to his disciples and telling them that their lives would be changed if they listened to and obeyed his words. That he was addressing his disciples specifically can be found in the parallel account at Luke 6:20, which says: 'Then he looked at his disciples and said this to them:
Blest are the poor,
For theirs is the Kingdom of God.
'

Yet, notice that although these appear to be the same words of Jesus that were spoken on the same occasion, there are some important differences!
First; you can see that Luke doesn't say 'poor of spirit.' He just said that 'the poor' will be blest.
Second; Luke quoted Jesus as speaking of 'the Kingdom of God,' not 'the Kingdom of Heaven.'
Why are there differences?

Well, the earliest Christian writers tell us that the book of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and was translated into Greek in the early 2nd Century. And as you will see in the many Notes that we have written pointing out translating errors and spurious additions to the book of Matthew, it has become clear to these translators that many of such errors were introduced at that time due to the 'great falling away' of which Paul warned. So because of this, we trust the wording found in the Gospels of Mark and Luke (which were likely penned in Greek) whenever they differ from the account in Matthew.

So did Jesus really say that 'the poor in spirit' would be blest, or was it just 'the poor' that would be blest? Well, one of the two quotations is obviously wrong, and the words 'in spirit' seem to have been some later writer's 'clarification' of what Jesus meant. For the next verse, 'blest are the sad,' indicates a less-specific group of people. And what Jesus was probably saying is that all poor people will be blest by the Kingdom of God if they start believing in what he was teaching.

Also notice that wherever the Gospel writers Mark and Luke quoted Jesus' same words in their accounts, they wrote, 'Kingdom of God,' not 'Kingdom of Heaven.' Therefore, the very popular words, 'Kingdom of Heaven,' seem to have been a 2nd Century translation corruption.

Why is this important? Because most people think that when Jesus promised the spiritually poor 'the Kingdom of Heaven,' it meant that their destiny was to be taken to heaven. However, 'the Kingdom of God' doesn't necessarily imply that. Rather, notice what Luke quoted Jesus as saying at Luke 6:23:
'In that day, be happy and jump for joy!
For {Look!} your reward in the heavens is great.'

As you can see, the reward isn't necessarily a trip to heaven, but the good things that they will receive from their God is treasured in the heavens.

So it doesn't appear as though Jesus was speaking of different types of people and the different rewards they will receive at Matthew 5:1-10, as many have taught. Rather, it seems clear that Jesus was talking about the opportunities that the Kingdom was opening to them, and all ten of these verses are an admonishment to those who listened to and followed him to seek the Kingdom of God, because (as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus teaches us) things were changing.

For more information, see the linked document, 'God's Promise of an Inheritance.'

Poor Widow

The real import of Jesus' observation about the widow whom he said contributed more to the Temple treasury than all the others, is often distorted in its application. We usually hear this account told as the story of 'the Widow's Mite,' and it's used to show that people can have God's blessings even when they are unable to contribute much in His service due to their advanced age and/or poor circumstances. And while that is true, there is a large difference between what the widow did here and what people usually do in their public service to God.

Notice that this story isn't about serving God in a public way. Rather, it has to do with a very private act… contributing financially and secretly to support His place of worship. In this case, only Jesus and God knew what she did and what her circumstances were. However, when it comes to our serving God, many others usually know what we are doing, and some expect praise for that.

The true lesson of the story is this: Do what you know is right, and then trust in God (who looks on in secret) to provide blessings and the things you need. Notice that this widow contributed 'her whole means of living.' So she did what she believed was right, and she was trusting in God with her whole heart to provide even her next meal.

Potter's Field

What was the 'Potter's Field that was purchased with the blood money of Jesus as a place to bury foreign people? Apparently the term refers to an area where clay was dug for the manufacture of pottery, and as such it was considered useless ground that was too poor for agriculture. Several sources claim that this field was located inside the Valley of Hinnom, the local garbage dump in Jesus' day, into which the city's sewerage was also dumped and where fires were kept burning continuously in order to abate the stench and to destroy all that was thrown there. And as such, the land had little value other than for the burial of gentiles.

Prayer

James wrote (at James 5:16): 'So admit your sins to each other and pray that each one of you will be healed, because prayer has a lot of power when it's working through the righteous.' From these words, we learn to never underestimate the powers of righteousness and prayer. Then as you continue reading that account (verses 17, 18), you will find the wonderful example that James used to prove his point, when he spoke of what the Prophet EliJah was able to accomplish through the power of prayer.

Why don't prayers always work? As James pointed out; the more righteous the person really is, the more likely his/her prayers will be answered. Also, as Jesus taught us in 'the Lord's Prayer,' God's Will is involved. So whatever a person may ask for can't be out of harmony with God's purposes and direction. For example: In the past, certain prominent religious leaders have declared 'Holy Years,' when all Christians were asked to pray for world peace. Yet Jesus told us (at Matthew 24:7) that the signs that are to precede his arrival were to be that, 'Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and shakings in many places.' So it appears as though it is God's Will for the world not to be granted peace, since great wars must happen before the Lord arrives; and as the result, such prayers for world peace have just gone unheeded by God. And if such religious leaders really wanted world peace, it would seem a far better and more positive action to just tell their own members not to go to war. For, prayers work much better whenever we work in harmony with (not against) what we're asking of God.

Several years ago, during a period that led to a war in the Middle East, this sign was seen posted outside of a large church:
'Pray for peace, but prepare for war!'
So the faithlessness of this message was clear:
'Ask but don't trust… prepare to work against your petitions to God.'

In Matthew the Sixth Chapter, Jesus set out another important guideline regarding prayer. Note that he said this in verse 6: 'When you pray, go into your room and after shutting the door, pray to your Father in secret. Then you'll be repaid by your Father who is watching in secret.

Here you can see that Jesus was saying that prayers are best not said in public places, if the act causes others to notice us and draw attention to our piety. Yet, Christians have often been told that they should let others see them as they pray over their food in public places. And notice that this is the very reason why Jesus was warning against public prayers; for he was pointing out that such conspicuousness becomes our total reward… so our prayer won't be answered, because our reward is the public display of our piety.

Another important warning against improper prayers is found in Jesus' words at Matthew 6:7, where he said: 'When praying, don't babble the same words (gr. de me battalogesetenot you stammer words) as people of the nations do, because they think that by [repeating] them they will be heard.' So he was saying that we shouldn't repeat memorized prayers.

Then notice in his next words, which we now call the Lord's Prayer or the Our Father Prayer (at Matthew 6:9-14), Jesus listed the important subjects that should be considered in our prayers. These include:
Š Expressing our desire to see God's Name cleared of any accusations made by the Slanderer
Š Praying for the coming of God's Kingdom
Š Expressing our desire to see God fulfill His purposes regarding the heavens and the earth
Š Asking God to provide us with our daily needs
Š Asking Him to forgive our sins (with the reminder that this obligates us to forgive others)
Š Asking Him to save us from the many trials of life
Š Asking for His protection against the Wicked One.

You will see that in this Bible, the prayer doesn't end with the words, 'For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the glory forever. Amen.' Why not? Because those words aren't found in the oldest available Bible texts. Rather, they were apparently added hundreds of years after Matthew wrote his Gospel. And if you think about it, these extra words don't make any sense anyhow. For why would Jesus say 'For thine is the Kingdom,' when he had just said to pray for 'your (or thy) Kingdom to come?'

Also notice that Jesus wasn't really praying to God here; rather, he was teaching his disciples the things for which they should pray, so this is why he didn't say Amen at the end. And in fact, if you search the Christian Era Scriptures, you won't find the Hebrew word Amen said at the end of any prayer (although it was likely said by the group in affirmation of congregational prayers).

You can see the actual setting in which Jesus spoke the words of this prayer in the parallel account that is found at Luke 11:1-4. There, as the account shows, Jesus was showing his disciples what they should ask for in prayer, because this is what they'd asked him… to teach them how to pray. Notice that the account in Luke says, 'Now, he was in a certain place praying; and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us how to pray, as John taught his disciples.' However, recognize that memorizing and repeating even this prayer is doing what Jesus told us not to do.

Pronunciation of C and CH in Greek Words

The most mispronounced letters when English-speaking people try to pronounce Greek or Hebrew names, is C or CH. For there is no 'soft C' pronunciation in either of those languages… it is always a hard C (as in Call), even when a CH is used (as in CHrist). So the title Caesar was actually pronounced more like Kaiser. And the faithful woman Priscilla was called Pree-skee-lah, as the town of Laodicea was called La-oh-dee-keh-ah. However, don't try to pronounce those names and titles properly, because the mispronunciations are just too well entrenched in English.

When it comes to less familiar names though, one might try to pronounce them properly. Take for example, the name of the king of Elam (El-am), Chodollogomor, or the sons of Chet, or the people called the Chaldeans. In ancient Greek, these names were pronounced (approximately and respectively), Koh-doh-loh-goh-mor, Ket, and Kahl-day-ahns. Oh yes, it helps to have an interlinear Bible translation to know how the word was actually spelled, and a knowledge of how Greek vowels are pronounced.

The Greeks had two letters that they pronounced as a K. One looks like a K and is pronounced that way, with the tongue touching the middle roof of the mouth. The other (the one we render as C and CH in English) looks like an X and is pronounced with the tongue touching the soft palate at the back of the mouth, which gives a breathier or more guttural sound. For example, say Christ and notice the part of your mouth that the tongue touches. Then say Kill and you'll see the difference. This is why there is both a CH and K in the Hebrew and Greek languages.

So, why did the Greeks have different letters for such a small variation in sound? Because they actually had no alphabet until about the time of their classical poet, Homer. They then borrowed or adapted their alphabet from the Hebrew (if you examine both alphabets from that period, you will see the similarities). And since Hebrew is a more guttural language, their letter cheth (where the Greeks got their letter for CH from) has a far more pronounced palate sound, which was thereafter carried over as a letter with a less-pronounced 'K' sound by the Greeks. And this has also carried over into many English words.

Proof of Virginity

Ancient customs and ways may sound very foreign in today's world, where sex acts among unmarried people has become quite common. However, God's requirement for His people was that they were to be honest, upright, moral, and clean. And anyone who chose to be unclean or immoral was to be put to death… this is the reason why a woman's proof of virginity became so important on her wedding night.

In ancient IsraEl, a father literally waited outside the nuptial chamber until the marriage was consummated (before the wedding feast), and he received the cloth they were on, which held the blood of her virginity, for this was the proof of her purity and the validity of the marriage. To fail to do this would have left his daughter open to divorce; and if she was not a virgin, to being stoned to death for her immorality.

Propitiatory

We have searched hard for a modern English synonym for this difficult and obscure word, and found none. Sure, it was the gold cover for the sacred Chest (Ark) that included the forms of two gold cherubs. So what word can be used to describe it?

The Greek word that we are struggling with is ilasterion. Other Bibles have translated it as Propitiatory, Expiation, and Mercy Seat. Yet the first two words are unfamiliar in English, and Mercy Seat doesn't accurately describe what it was, because nobody was to sit on it. Rather, it served as some sort of Altar, where the Priests sprinkled the blood of Propitiation once each year on the Day of Atonement. And what does Propitiation mean? It refers to something that is done to sooth God's relationship with sinful mankind.

Purim

As it is pointed out in this Bible's rendering of the book of Esther, the name of the Jewish festival that was instituted to celebrate their salvation from the wicked plans of Haman, was called Purim (pronounced, poo-reem), or Lots, in reference to the lots that HaMan cast to choose the day for their destruction. And although Bible critics write questioningly about the events described in the book of Esther (as they do about ALL history written in the Bible), the fact that this festival is documented to have been celebrated regularly by the Jews ever since, testifies to the accuracy of the story. For more information, see the Wikipedia reference, 'Purim.'

Ransom

Throughout the Bible we read of 'the ransom' (gr. lytron) that Jesus paid. Exactly what does this term mean?

At Matthew 20:28, Jesus said, 'This is how the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his living body as a ransom for many.'

Romans 5:12-14 says, 'Sin entered the world through one man, and this sin resulted in death. So by this [one] sin, death was passed on to all men and they have all sinned. So even before the Law arrived, there was sin in the world… yet sin isn't counted [against us] when there's no law to break. But despite that, death still reigned from [the time of] Adam down to Moses, even over those who hadn't sinned in the same wrong way that Adam had sinned… but this [Adam] was a prototype of the one who was to come.'

1 Corinthians 15:21, 22 says, 'Since death came through a man, resurrection from the dead also comes through a man. And as all are dying because of Adam, all will be made alive in the Anointed One.'

Therefore from the above, we must conclude that Adam lost the hope of 'life' for himself and for all his descendants through his sin in Eden. However, Jesus came and paid the 'ransom price' to God to redeem us from the sin of Adam, so that we could once again have the hope of 'age-long life' and a resurrection of the living.

Religious Titles

Note that Jesus told his followers (at Matthew 23:8-11) not to take any honorary titles to themselves; for he said: 'But not you! Don't [have people] call you rabbi, for you have but one teacher and you are all brothers. And don't address anyone on earth as Father, for there's just One who is your Father, the Heavenly One. Nor should you be called leaders, for you have but one Leader, the Anointed One. However, the greatest among you must be your servant. So, whoever promotes himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be promoted.'

We can assume that Jesus wasn't forbidding the use of descriptions of duties here, such as apostle, elder, or servant, but that he was discussing the use of honorific titles that people might take for themselves, such as 'Father' or 'Rabbi.' However, regardless of what he said, most modern clergy have disregarded these instructions and have found ways to either sneak around Jesus' words, or to just ignore them altogether.

One of the 'sneaky' ways that people have used to take honorary titles for themselves is to simply avoid the use of the specific titles that Jesus mentioned. So although some may still have people calling them 'Father;' after the Protestant Reformation, the terms 'Reverend' and even 'Pastor' have started to be used, and those with adequate college degrees like to have 'Doctor' added before their names as religious titles of respect. So today, the point of Jesus' words about not taking religious titles for ourselves has reached throughout 'Christian' society to the point where we would be hard-pressed to tell of any group that isn't in violation of Jesus' command in some way. For if even they don't have other titles for their leaders, most religions insist that certain prominent ones (or even all in the congregation) be given such honorific titles as 'Brother' or 'Sister.'

Then is it wrong to use such titles of respect as even Brother or Sister? Notice that Jesus didn't tell us that his followers should call each other brother (or sister), but that they are brothers (gr. hymeis adelphoi este or, you (all) brothers are). You can see that in Matthew 23, Jesus wasn't giving a dissertation on which honorifics are bad and which ones can be used; rather, he was saying that Christians are all equals and that they should share a loving relationship as members of the same family. So adding a title ahead of a name (whether Brother, Sister, Reverend, Doctor, Minister, Bishop, or whatever) also appears to be a dodge to get around Jesus' instructions. In fact, some people even (presumptuously, arrogantly, and in error grammatically) like to introduce themselves with such a title preceding their own names ('My name is Brother…' or 'My name is Reverend…), to imply some assumed relationship or holy position before God.

Note that while early Christians lovingly referred to their fellows as my brother, or our brothers, there is little indication that the term brother was ever commonly applied as honorific titles that people added in front of names in the First Century Congregation. How did that work out among early Christians? Well, the Bible tells us that Paul was just called Paul, Peter was just called Peter, etc. Only Jesus was given titles of respect such as 'the Lord' and 'the Anointed One' (Christ). Even the title 'Apostle' was never added in front of the names of such men in the Bible (as in, 'the Apostle Peter'), yet referring to the ancient Apostles in this way has become a common practice among most when they're speaking of them today, because the use of religious honorifics has become so common and so wide spread in Christianity.

Reptiles and Birds

The Greek word that we have translated as 'slithering animals' herein, is herpeton… it's where the English word reptile comes from as does the word herpetology (a study of reptiles). However, the ancient peoples didn't just use this word when speaking of cold-blooded animals. Rather, they used it to describe the characteristics of any animals or insects that slithered or crawled on the ground. Notice, for example, that when describing the types of creatures that the IsraElites were forbidden to eat (in the book of Leviticus), listed among the herpeton are insects, weasels, and mice. So this is why we have commonly rendered the word herpeton as slithering animals.

We have taken a similar liberty with the Greek word peteina, which is usually translated birds but literally means winged creatures, because bats are listed among them in Leviticus.

So whereas modern science may have grouped all animals into types such as mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, insects, fish, etc, the Bible groups them into flying creatures, wild animals, cattle, slithering things, and things that live in (or come from) the water. This difference doesn't appear to be the result of a lack of recognition on the part of Bible writers of basic animal types, but rather, it stems from the ways they were grouped by ancient peoples to describe all possible animal species.

Resurrection

It has often been said that the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl don't really speak of the hope of a resurrection of the dead. However, in each place where the Hebrew word mequim is found, it is translated as anastasia (resurrection) in the Greek Septuagint text.

For example, we find it first used in the song that HanNah sang to God after she had offered her young son SamuEl to serve at God's Sacred Tent (at First Samuel 2:8). This is particularly interesting, for although most would consider her words just a record of an unimportant song, it was truly an inspired and important prophecy, because this is the first place where the word resurrection (anastasia) is found in the Bible. For more information, see the linked document 'The Resurrection.'

Resurrection of the Righteous

The English word resurrection comes from the Greek word anastasia (that's right, the female name Anastasia means resurrection), and it could more correctly be translated as, 'stand again.' And notice that at Luke 14:14, Jesus spoke of 'the resurrection of the righteous.' What was he referring to here?

Well, it appears as though Paul spoke of the same thing at Acts 24:15, where he wrote, 'I have this hope in God … that there is going to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.' And at John 5:28, 29, it's recorded that Jesus said, 'Now, don't be surprised at this, because the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out… those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced what is foul to a resurrection of judgment.'

So from the above scriptures, it appears as though there is a hope of a resurrection for all except those whom the Bible refers to as having been condemned to 'the garbage dump' or 'the lake of fire.' For more information, refer to the linked document, 'The Resurrection.'

Revelation 20:5

In other Bibles, Revelation 20:5 reads: 'The rest of the dead don't come to life until the end of the thousand years. This is the first resurrection.' And though this familiar description of the resurrection has been quoted for years and used as a basis for many religious doctrines, the words shown in bold above aren't found in the Bible's oldest manuscript of the Revelation, the Codex Sinaiticus. Therefore they appear to be a later, spurious addition to the Bible, and this is why we have chosen not to include them in this Bible.

Revelation and Truth

At Exodus 28:26, where God was describing the High Priest's official clothes, He told Moses: 'You are to put the Revelation and the Truth (gr. ten delosin kai ten aletheian) on the Expression of Judgment, and Aaron will wear it on his chest whenever he enters the Holy Place before Jehovah.' Notice that the Greek word deloson means revelation and the word aletheian means truth, so this is how we have rendered the term here.

Unfortunately, this description is only found in the Greek Septuagint, where exactly what the Revelation and the Truth is, isn't identified. However, tradition has it that this item (which the Hebrew text refers to as the Urim and Thummim) was used in some way to indicate God's decisions.

Rhinoceros

Notice that the Greek words mono (one) and kerotos (horn) literally mean unicorn, which many have fancifully envisioned as a horse with a single horn between its eyes. But according to the World Book Dictionary; in the Septuagint, the Greek word monokerotos is just a mistranslation of the Hebrew word re'em, which refers to a 'two-horned animal, possibly a wild ox or aurochs.'

And while we recognize that such a conclusion could be true, we have chosen to trust the Septuagint in this case, so we've rendered monokerotos as rhinoceros (a wild animal that meets the description of having one prominent horn), for if there was a mistake that led to the mistranslation of the Hebrew word, the same mistake was made in other places, which seems unlikely.

Rich Man and Lazarus

This parable of Jesus has been quoted for centuries in attempts to prove the existence of a Hell Fire. But was that really what Jesus was describing? Notice the context. At Luke 16:14, 15 we read, 'Now, the Pharisees (who loved silver) were listening to these things and were looking at him with contempt. So he said to them: 'You are the ones who claim to be righteous before men, but God knows your hearts, and things that are considered important by men are disgusting in God's eyes.'

So with the above setting in mind, notice the next two points that Jesus went on to make:
Š First (at Luke 16:16-18), Jesus went on to condemn the haughty Pharisees by saying that 'anyone who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery' – so much for righteousness, because leaving their wives (after the women had grown old) and taking younger ones was common practice among such men.
Š Second (at Luke 16:19-31), Jesus went on to tell the story of a 'rich man' (like the Pharisees) and a 'beggar' (like the common people) who both 'died,' making the point that these men who were considered the 'spiritually rich' were about to see a major change in their situation. For after the death of Jesus, their high position as the spiritual leaders of God's people (the favored position of IsraEl's ancestor AbraHam, through whom their nation had received their Covenant with God) was going to be taken from them and given to the spiritually poor. And this is what actually happened to them just thirty-seven years later when JeruSalem (along with its entire form of worship) was totally destroyed and the true arrangement for worshiping God was passed on to the lowly disciples of Jesus.

So this second point that Jesus made (and which the Pharisees doubtlessly understood at least partially) is that; because they had failed to learn from the Law and the Prophets, their high position was going to be taken from them and given to common people. Therefore, this isn't a tale that describes the torture of Hell Fire; it was a verbal picture (or parable) that was a warning to the haughty Pharisees. For more information, see the linked document, 'Is There a Burning Hell?'

Rulers of Persia and Greece

While men may only guess about the things that are actually happening in the heavens, a mighty messenger once gave the Prophet DaniEl a remarkable insight into the unseen power struggles that have been going on there, in Daniel the Tenth Chapter. For this messenger (likely GabriEl) went on to explain to DaniEl that his coming had been held up for twenty-one days by someone whom he described as 'the ruler of the kingdom of the Persians' (gr. o archon baseleias Person).

Who was this highest ruler? Well, the only individual powerful enough to stand in the way of a messenger of God is another spirit person, and this one wasn't friendly. From the context we can see that he was the unseen leader over the Persian Empite. Where did he get such power? Remember that the great opposer of God, who is also known as Satan and the Devil, later offered 'all the kingdoms of the world' to Jesus as an enticement to serve him (see Matthew 4:8, 9); so he obviously has great power over this world and its kingdoms, and he has used this same offer of power to other spirit sons of God in order to bring them under his influence and ways.

Also notice in this same account, that God thereafter allowed His mighty messenger to create a war between Persia and Greece, after which a new unseen 'highest ruler' would take dominance. So from this we must assume that all great world powers and all their wars have been under the direction of unseen wicked spirit rulers.

Salt

At Matthew 5:13, it is recorded that Jesus said:
'You are the salt of the earth,
But if salt becomes weak, is it still salt?
No, when it no longer has strength,
It's thrown outside to be walked on.'

What is the point of this parable? From the parallel account in Luke, we learn that Jesus was talking to his followers about the responsibilities that come with being his disciples. And anyone who chooses to become his disciple and then changes his mind is as worthless as salt that has no taste.

So when Jesus spoke of a person having 'salt' in himself, it seems to indicate that the person has strength of character. And this may be the same point that God was making at Numbers 18:19, when He made a 'Sacred Agreement of Salt' with the Priests of ancient IsraEl… for more was to be expected of them due to their holy position before Him.

But does salt ever really lose its taste? Well, what most of us think of when we speak of salt is common table salt (sodium chloride). However, as any chemistry student knows, there are several different types of salts, most of which have no salty flavor. And often, when salt is found in or on the ground in desert areas, the salt that is collected is actually a combination of sodium chloride and other salts (such as borax). And with the type of salt that is used to flavor foods, high humidity can leach the sodium chloride from the mixture, leaving a tasteless salt for which people may have little use, so it might be 'thrown outside to be walked on.' And being 'thrown outside' is the fate of Christians who after they've been called by God later decide that they don't wish to pay the costs of being a disciple of Jesus.

Salvation

Although the term 'getting saved' is used throughout the Bible, we gain a real sense of the meaning of this term from Acts 16:29, 30, which tells of a Greek jailer (someone who was unfamiliar with Christianity and its terms) who asked Paul and Silas: 'Lords, what must I to do to get saved?' And they replied: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.'

The question that naturally comes to mind here is: What did the jailer think that he and his family were going to be saved from? Going back to the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT), the only mention of salvation appears to have been in connection with being saved through the destruction of IsraEl or Jerusalem. However, this man and his family weren't Jews, and they didn't live anywhere near Jerusalem. For at Acts 16:34 we are told: 'He and his entire household started rejoicing over their coming to believe in The God (gr. to Theou),' that is, the God of the Jews.

As you can see, this family wasn't in danger of being destroyed when JeruSalem was conquered by the Romans in 70-CE. Therefore, it doesn't seem likely that the man was asking about a physical salvation from a coming destruction.

Among modern Christians, however, the term 'salvation' has come to mean 'being saved from damnation.' And something like that must have been what this man was referring to, since there was no indication that he and his family were in immanent danger from another source. Yet the question he asked and the answer he was given seems still a bit philosophical, since we really don't know what was going through the man's mind at the time.

Is simple 'belief in Jesus' all that is required for 'salvation from damnation?' In this case, realize that there was a lot more that this jailer needed to understand about Jesus and becoming a Christian, because as a virtual pagan, there was a world of things for him to learn about monotheism, Christian conduct, the resurrection, and of God's Kingdom. In fact, as the text tells us; he also had to learn about 'The God,' not just about Jesus. So, much more than just belief in Jesus would actually have been required for him and his family to be saved. And apparently, this is why the account continues with the words, 'Then they told him and all those in his house about the Word of The God' (according to the Westcott and Hort text) or 'about the word of the Lord' (according to Scrivener's Textus Receptus).' Of course, recognize that this was the same challenge that was faced by all the gentiles to whom Paul and his companions preached.

Unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians today are actually in the same condition as that jailer before Paul and Silas 'told him and all those in his house about the Word of The God.' For many still don't understand Christian living (Jesus' instructions on morality and love, for example). So notice what Jesus himself said at Matthew 7:22, 23: 'In that day, many will say to me, Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and perform many great works in your name? Then I'll admit to them, I never knew you! Get away from me you lawbreakers!'

Therefore, it appears as though more than simple belief is required. For to keep from being a 'lawbreaker' and in order to be 'known' by Jesus, a person must not only believe in him but in everything that he taught, which includes coming to an understanding of his instructions on how to live a clean life as one of his followers.

And who will actually be saved? Jesus answered this question himself when he said (at Matthew 24:13), 'But those who endure to the end will be saved.' So in order for Christians to continue in a 'saved' condition, they must follow a faithful course to the end of their lives.

Thus from the above, we can see that while belief in Jesus is required for salvation, knowledge of how to live a Christian life is also required. And to continue in this saved condition, one must maintain a clean relationship with God until 'the end.' That is, until the end of their lives, or until the arrival of Jesus.

Satan, Devil, Lucifer, BeElZebub

It is appropriate that the name of the great Opposer and Slanderer of God is never given in the Bible, though several terms (and one mistakenly) have been used to describe him. Here is a list of those descriptions:

Š Satan: This is a Hebrew word meaning, opposer, resistor, and/or a wily person who does things just to serve his own interests. It was applied to the Evil One because of his opposition to God. And so, to keep people from thinking of Satan as a name (which it isn't), it is translated as 'the Opposer' in this Bible.

Š Devil: This is the only Greek word (Diabolos) used in the Bible to describe the evil one. The first part of the word, dia, means through, and bolos means throw (it's where we get the English words ball and bowl). So Devil means one who throws through, which amounts to being a Slanderer (using the Greek colloquialism)… and it's the word we've used to describe him in the NT portion of this Bible.

Š Lucifer: This word is commonly thought of as the Biblical name of the Opposer, for it appears (just once) as a name in the King James Bible at Isaiah 14:12, where the King of Babylon is referred to as Lucifer, Son of the Morning. However, the original Hebrew words that were translated as 'Lucifer' were, Helel ben Shahar or, Day/star, son/of the/dawn. So notice that the text wasn't speaking about 'the Devil' at all. And turning this description of the king of Babylon into a name came as the result of a translating error. For the person who made this mistake and changed the words Day Star into a name (Lucifer) was Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 CE). He did this when he was translating the Hebrew Bible text into Latin, and this was thereafter copied in early English Bibles that used the Latin Vulgate text as a reference, such as the King James. So no, the evil one's name was never really Lucifer.

Š BeElZebub: There are eight references in the Bible to this Hebrew noun, and it does refer to the Slanderer. However, this isn't a proper name either, for it appears to be a title. BeEl (like BaAl) means Lord, and Zebub appears to refer to flies (the insects). So BeElZebub likely means Lord of the Flies.

Is the Opposer (Slanderer or BeElZebub) a real person? All one has to do is look at the titles he was given above to realize that he is. To deny his existence negates the rest of the Bible. For example, when dealing with Adam's sin; why did God adhere so closely to a law when other options were available to Him? Why didn't he just destroy rebellious Adam and create another man?

The fact is, He created both mankind and His spirit sons ('angels') with the ability to choose whether they would be faithful or not, so none are automatons. And in the same way that a man (Adam) failed to be faithful in the Paradise, we can assume (for the Scriptures support this) that there were rebels in the heavens also. This is the reason why it became necessary to create a law for mankind that would clearly outline what rebellion against God constituted, and what the consequences for violating that law would be. It was obviously for the sake of the millions of millions of heavenly spirit (breath-like) creatures that the issue of rebellion here on the earth had to be resolved by legal means and in a way that demonstrated the love and loyalty of God's first-born son, which resulted in the painful need for a 'ransom' (Jesus' death).

Notice that the idea (which some religions have promoted) that the Slanderer isn't real but only a state of mind, creates some conundrums. For example:
Š When Jesus was being tempted in the desert, was he simply struggling with the bad within himself rather than against a real, evil personality? If so, we would have to conclude that there was bad in Jesus.
Š Is the battle in heaven that is spoken of at Revelation the Twelfth Chapter to be just figurative (not a real war against the Opposer and his messengers)? If so, then in what sense would 'the Opposer' and his 'messengers' lose the battle and be confined to the earth? Also, why would this entity (if it is just internal evil) be 'angry' in knowing that he just has 'a short period of time' left?
Š And lastly, when the Opposer entered God's presence and spoke to Him (as we read in the First Chapter of Job); could we assume that this inherent evil was found in God? That isn't likely.

Science and Inspiration

Especially in the book of Job do we find some amazingly accurate statements about our universe, which can be used to prove that Bible book is inspired and scientific. Note, for example, what is written at Job 26:7:
'He stretches the north wind on nothing,
And on nothing, He has hung the earth.'

And again in verse 10:
'By His order, the sea's face is round,
From where the light reaches to darkness.'

Interestingly, the fact that the earth is round and hung upon nothing wasn't really believed by most people until the time of Christopher Columbus, and the earth wasn't truly proven round to some people until the time of space satellites.

Then notice the statement at Job 38:38:
'Who poured out the powder that made the earth,
And stuck it together like a stone block?
'

Science has just recently concluded that the earth and much of the universe was formed by clouds of dust. So is this inspiration or ancient wisdom? We simply don't know, for none of these words were dissertations on scientific revelations; they were poetic discussions of the powers of God.

It is interesting that many forms of art (including songs and poetry) are said to be inspired. And if we examine the roots of that word (inspired), we can see that it means 'breathed in,' or that it comes from God. Can this be so, and can all works that we call 'inspired' actually have God's Breath or Spirit as their source? We don't know for sure, but we do know that all men received their breath (spirit) from God (the Breath of Life). So perhaps we all have a small portion of His power, which goes untapped until we strive for greatness. And perhaps prophetic words are enhanced when one searches for them in the power of verse or song.

Notice, for example, what EliHu said (as recorded at Job 32:8):
'Yet, although there's a spirit in humans,
The Breath of the Almighty does the teaching.'

So perhaps this would explain the unusual powers that even unrighteous men (such as the Prophet BalaAm) have displayed.

For more information, see the linked documents, 'The Bible's Internal Proofs of its Authentic History,' and 'The Powers of God's Holy Spirit.'

Scroll or Book of Life

The first place in the Bible that speaks of the Scroll of Life (in those words specifically) is found in one of the songs of King David (Psalm 69:28), where he wrote this concerning his enemies:

'From the Scroll of Life, may their names be erased;
Among the righteous, may their names not be written.'

However, the first actual mention of such a scroll is found in Exodus 32:33, where God said to Moses, 'I'm going to erase [the names] of all those who have sinned against Me, from My scroll.'

So we must assume that as early as the early Sixteenth Century BCE, God's faithful worshipers had some concept of a record that He keeps of people whom He counts as being 'the living.' And as God Himself pointed out; their names can also be erased from His scroll after they had been written there (so much for the concept of once-saved, always-saved).

What is this Scroll, how does a person get his or her name written in it, and what does this mean for them?

Although God surely needs no actual written record to remember His faithful ones; the phrase, 'the Scroll of Life' (or 'of the living') is mentioned enough times in the Bible to assume that God does remember (or record) the names of those righteous whom He counts among 'the living,' as opposed to those whom He numbers among 'the dead.'

Who are 'the living?' They are likely the same as the ones that Jesus spoke of at John 5:24, when he said, 'I tell you the truth; Those who hear what I say and believe in the One that sent me will have age-long life… they won't have to be judged, for they have come out of the death and into the life!'

So from this we must assume that some conscious act of faith by each individual causes him or her to cross over from 'the death and into the life;' and that is likely the time when a person's name is written in the Scroll of Life. Then, as Jesus said, 'He won't have to be judged' when he (or she) is resurrected.

What is this act of faith that brings us into 'the life'? Today, it would likely be the conscious act of choosing to be baptized. However, since baptism wasn't practiced during the time of David, it appears as though all IsraEl had their names written in that Scroll when they were born into a nation that was chosen by God, and their names remained there for as long as they stayed faithful. Notice how this concept fits into David's words about their names having to be erased.

Then at Revelation 20:11, 12, we read of several 'scrolls' being opened and of the 'dead' being judged by the things that are written in those scrolls. Who are these 'dead?' Well, remember that those whose names are written in the Scroll of Life will not be judged, for they are viewed as the living, not the dead. And also note that (following the order of the series of events described there) all the resurrections will already have taken place before these scrolls are opened (see Revelation 20:4-6); so these dead individuals aren't physically dead any longer, for they are seen to be standing. As the result, this must mean that although they are no longer literally dead, they are still counted among 'the dead' in God's eyes. So they must undergo judgment before their names can be written in the Scroll of Life.

That this could be the correct understanding seems to be confirmed at Revelation 20:12, where we read: 'Then I saw the dead – the great and the small – standing before the throne, and several scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, which was the Scroll of Life. And the dead were then judged by the things that were written in the scrolls, according to the things that they had done.'

Therefore, we could assume that those who remain faithful worshipers of God have their names permanently sealed in God's Scroll of Life upon their deaths, and they are thereafter considered 'the living' by Him. Then when they are resurrected, there is no need for them to be judged.

As for 'the dead' that the Revelation says are 'judged by the things written in the scrolls;' this could mean that they too will be resurrected, but that they will be judged by the things they do both during the thousand-year period that the Slanderer is bound and in the pit, and after he is released from it and inspires the attack by 'Gog of Magog' upon those whom God has found to be 'Holy' or 'the living.'

Scroll or Sickle?

There is quite a discrepancy between the rendering of the words found in the Hebrew and Greek texts of Zechariah Chapter Five. For the Hebrew text tells us that Zechariah saw a flying scroll, but the Greek text calls it a δρέĻανον Ļετόμενον, or flying sickle. Which is correct?

We'll trust the Greek text on this one (although the Hebrew text could also be right), because the thing that he saw was thereafter used to punish the wicked. Notice that verse three tells us:
'This is the curse…
The one that will go 'cross the face of the earth.
One side brings death to all thieves,
And the other, to all who would lie in a trial.'

So although a scroll could decree their sentence, a sickle could actually bring the punishment (death).

Seating in the Heavens

It has been argued that Paul's words at Ephesians 2:5, 6 are proof that all those to whom he was writing were going to heaven; for there he wrote: 'So it's by His loving kindness that you've been saved and raised together, then seated together in the heavens in the Anointed Jesus,'

However, notice that Paul was speaking of something that had already occurred, because he spoke of this being seated in the heavens in the past tense, as though it had happened to them while they were still on the earth. So, what was Paul saying?

To get the full sense of these verses, you must consider the context. Notice that in verses 4 and 5, Paul had just written, 'But due to the love that He has for us, God (who is so rich in mercy) made us alive with the Anointed One while we were still dead in our failings …'

As you can see; before they became Christians, these people had been considered dead in God's eyes because of their sins… but now God considers them as being alive to (and in) Jesus. So when Jesus was raised to heaven, their life in Jesus the Anointed One was raised to heaven along with him. Therefore, Paul doesn't appear to be speaking of their literally going to heaven; rather, he seems to have been saying that their hope (of future life) was then in the heavens with Jesus.

For more information, see the linked document, 'God's Promise of an Inheritance.'

Seed

What is referred to in the Bible as 'the Sacred Mystery of the Seed' is explained to us for the first time at Galatians 3:16, which says: 'Now, the promises were given to AbraHam and his seed. It doesn't say, to his seeds, as though there were many of them, but just one, to your seed, who is the Anointed One.'

Then the explanation of the identity of this 'seed' is further expanded at Galatians 3:29, where we read: 'And if you are [part] of the Anointed One, you are really the seed of AbraHam and heirs of the promise.'

The initial prophecy concerning this 'seed' about which Paul was writing, is found at Genesis 3:14, 15, where God condemned the Evil One in the 'Paradise of Delights' (whom the Revelation shows was the real voice behind the snake that tempted Eue or Eve). Notice what this first prophecy in the Bible says: 'Because you did this, you are doomed to punishment among all the cattle and wild animals of the earth. You will travel on your chest and belly and you will eat from the ground all the days of your life. I will also create hatred between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will watch for your head and you will watch for his heel.'

From this we can see that the Evil One (as represented by the snake) would produce a 'seed,' and the woman would also produce a 'seed.' However, the woman's seed would conquer the snake and its seed by 'watching' to crush its head. So this promise to AbraHam that he would produce a seed was really a clue as to whom the seed of Genesis 3:15, 16 would prove to be. Then at Galatians 3:16, 29, Paul reveals that this seed of the woman is Jesus and those who are 'in' him… his chosen disciples who collectively are to make up the ruling portion of God's Kingdom.

Who is the 'woman' that would produce this seed? The Bible itself answers at Galatians 4:26: 'But the JeruSalem above is free and she is our mother.' So God's heavenly seat of government (the 'JeruSalem above') is God's woman who gives birth to the rulers of God's Kingdom… Jesus and those who are 'in' him.

The final unraveling of who 'the snake,' its 'seed,' the 'woman,' and 'her seed' are, can be found at Revelation 12:3-5. See that scripture and the linked notes for further information, as well as the linked document, 'The Seed – God's Kingdom.'

Seismos

The Greek words seismos and seismoi are usually thought of as meaning earthquake and earthquakes, because they literally mean, a rumbling. In fact, the modern study of earthquakes is called seismology. Therefore, when Jesus was speaking about the signs that would lead up to his arrival and he said that one of the signs would be seismoi (at Matthew 24:7), most have assumed that this referred to a greater frequency of earthquakes. However, seismos doesn't necessarily imply just earthquakes. For Matthew used the same word at Matthew 8:24 to describe an agitated sea when Jesus was on a boat with his disciples. Then at 2 Kings 2:11, when the Prophet EliJah was taken into the sky in a flaming chariot, the Greek word (in the Septuagint) that was used to describe the storm that took him was once again, seismos. So Jesus' use of the word at Matthew 24:7 could imply more than just earthquakes, since it carries a broader meaning… it could actually be speaking of any forms of natural disasters, including earthquakes, high winds, tornados, hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis.

It has also been recently brought to our attention that seismos could be translated as turmoil or unrest. So could Jesus have implied even more than natural disasters in that single word? Possibly so.

Servants

For centuries, the proper translation of the Greek word diakonos has bothered people who wish to create levels of authority within the Christian Congregation. So to add extra weight to this office, diakonos has been translated into many different titles (rather than just descriptions of a duty) in attempts to blur what it really means in English… a servant. Words such as 'deacon' (from diakonos), minister, and even the redundancy 'ministerial servant' have been employed. However, what the qualified people who handled the work and odd jobs that were necessary in running the day-to-day affairs of a Christian gathering were called in the First Century, was just servants.

A later position of responsibility that was spoken of by Paul was that of 'elders' or 'overseers.' Elders (gr. presbyterous – masculine tense) were to watch over the congregations and act as shepherds who provided loving direction. However, elders were also just servants (that is, servants with a small 's'); for according to Jesus' instructions found at Matthew 23:8-11, all Christians were to be considered as equals. So the taking of titles and the assigning of leaders was contrary to the instructions of Jesus. For notice what Jesus actually said there:
'But not you! Don't [have people] call you rabbi, for you have but one teacher, while you are all just brothers. Nor should you address anyone on earth as Father, because there's just One who's your Father, the Heavenly One. Don't even be called leaders, because you have but one Leader, the Anointed One. Rather, the greatest one among you must be your servant. For whoever promotes himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be promoted.'

Then in the books of First Timothy and Titus, Paul wrote that to be appointed as a servant or as an elder in the congregation, a person had to meet high standards of conduct and reputation. And although Paul didn't mention it specifically, they were also expected to be able to make wise decisions and to show signs of having God's Breath. Notice that this was the one of the main qualifications of those who were first appointed as servants in the Christian Congregation, because we are told at Acts 6:3 that servants were to be 'males (gr. andras) … who are filled with wisdom and the Breath [of God].'

For more information, see the linked document, 'Arrangement of the First Christian Churches.'

Seven Congregations

After explaining that John's Revelation was a vision of 'the Lord's Day' (at Revelation 1:10), the first portion of the book speaks of messages that were to be sent to seven congregations… which may also represent all faithful congregations, lamp stands, or Christian religions in our time ('the Lord's Day?'), for notice how all the problems of modern Christian religions seem to be represented by these groups:
Š One had fallen from the position it once had
Š One was faithful, but had become infected by the teachings of the Nicolaitans and/or of the teachings of BalaAm
Š One was serving faithfully, but was influenced by a Jezebel
Š One was spiritually dead
Š One was plagued by the synagogue of the Opposer (possibly a Judaic form of Christianity)
Š One was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.

So it appears as though this prophecy is foretelling that the Opposer will infiltrate Christian religion to the core during the Lord's Day, as just a few among them will still be found faithful.

Seven Stars

As Revelation 1:20 says, 'The seven stars signify the messengers of the seven congregations.' See the subheading, 'Angels or Messengers,' in the linked document, 'Arrangement of the First Christian Churches.'

Seventy Weeks

The remarkable prophecy about the seventy weeks that was given to DaniEl at Daniel 9:24-27 is apparently the one that many faithful Jews were looking to at the start of the First Century CE in order to determine the time for the coming of the Messiah, since that prophecy hadn't been fulfilled during a period of seventy literal weeks from the time that word had been sent to rebuild the Temple in JeruSalem. We know that the Jews were expecting him to come at that time, for we read at Luke 3:15 concerning John the Baptist: 'Since the people had been looking for [the coming of the Messiah] at the time, everyone was wondering in their hearts whether John was the Anointed One. ' So it appears as though the faithful had concluded that the prophecy in Daniel 9 was speaking of a period of seventy weeks of years (or four hundred and ninety years). And since 'the Anointed One' and 'Leader' was to arrive at the end of seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks (or 483 years), many Jews seem to have been looking for the coming of an anointed king at the time when Jesus actually started his ministry.

When was the word first sent to rebuild the Temple in JeruSalem? According to several Bible accounts and to one historical account, the order was given by Cyrus the Great in the first year of his reign, which most sources say happened in 559-BCE. However, there is no question that the decree by Cyrus isn't what the prophecy in Daniel is talking about, since it didn't result in the completion of the Temple construction. For notice what we are told at Ezra 4:24: 'So construction on the Temple of God in JeruSalem stopped, and it remained unfinished until the second year of the reign of Darius, the king of Persia' (600 to 576-BCE). But then, according to Ezra Chapter Seven, it was ArthaSastha (most likely ArtaXerxes I – 465-BCE to 424-BCE) who gave the final order to finish the Temple and for the people to return to Jerusalem when he authorized the Priest and Scribe Ezra to carry people, treasures, and cattle back to the Promised Land, and to complete the Temple construction. It is said that that this decree came in the year 455-BCE, which if it is true, we must assume that secular historians have the dates for the reign of ArtaXerxes ten years too late (and we do suspect this to be true), because the account at Nehemiah 2:1 tells us that the command to rebuild the Temple came in the twentieth year of the reign of ArthaSastha.

Why do we believe that there is a mistake in the historical record? Well, there are many reasons (see the linked document 'The Problem with Setting Bible Historical Dates'). But this prophecy of the seventy weeks clearly does speak of the coming of the Messiah. And from the history of the things that were happening in JeruSalem at the time, it appears as though many 1st Century Jews were in fact expecting the arrival of the Messiah four hundred and eighty-three years after 455-BCE, or in the year that Jesus started his ministry, 29-CE. And isn't it interesting that this mistake in the chronology (either by the prophecy or by secular historians) is off by an even ten years?

As for the last 'week' (the last seven years); the prophecy says, 'In half of the period of seven [days], sacrifices and drink offerings will be lifted away.' So this is saying that something momentous would happen then (in early 33-CE), which would bring an end to the Jewish form of worship at the Temple and its sacrificial offerings… and that proved to be the death (or ultimate sacrifice) of Jesus.

And what was to end when the full seventy weeks reached their conclusion? That period (late in 36-CE) is thought to be the time when the New Sacred Agreement was no longer offered just to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. And then (sometime after the seventy weeks of years had ended), the Prophecy at Daniel 9:26 goes on to say that this would happen:
'Then the Holy Place and the city
Will be corrupted by a leader who'll come,
And cut them off by a downpour.
So he'll order extinction upon them,
Until the end of his war.'

And thereafter, verse 27 goes on to tell us:
'Then to the Temple will come the disgusting destroyer (the armies of Rome)
And until that time has reached its conclusion,
There'll be just complete desolation.'

So we might ask: Since many Jews started returning to their homeland after 1948, is this when the 'time has reached its conclusion' and the 'complete desolation' of JeruSalem has reached its end?

Well, our job as Bible translators isn't to be speculators… we'll leave that to religions. What we do know is that where God's Temple once stood there is now a Moslem mosque; and since there are no genealogical records, there is no valid Jewish Priesthood. So the entire arrangement for the worship of God as it was given to Moses is forever gone, and this provides mute and undeniable testimony to the accuracy of the prophecy in DaniEl and to Jesus' prophecies concerning the destruction of JeruSalem, its Temple, and the final rejection of the unfaithful Jews as being God's chosen people.

Sexual Immorality

The Greek word porneia means much more than copulation between individuals who aren't married to each other. The term literally means, that which is sold (by prostitutes). So it includes all the types of services that might be sold by a prostitute… not just copulation, but all sexual acts between unmarried people (even when there may be no exchange of money). And because the English word fornication carries the nuance of just copulation between unmarried persons, we have used the broader term sexual immorality in this Bible to indicate the full meaning of the term.

For more information, see the linked document, 'Christian Morality.'

Should Christians Agree on Everything?

At Exodus 23:2, we read these wise words: 'You must not join a mob to do bad things, nor should you agree with the majority when they are wrong.' In Greek this reads, 'Ouk esemeta pleinon epi kakia ou prostethese meta plethous ekklinon meta pleinon oste ekklinai krisin,' or, 'Not join the/majority on bad or go/along with the/majority's inclinations with many who are/inclined/toward judgment.' Agreed, the words are different, but the thought is the same.

Most religions do in fact teach that among their leaders, the minority must agree with the majority, to show harmony… as in a form of Democracy. And to prove that this is the right thing to do, religious leaders like to quote Paul's words as found at 1 Corinthians 1:10, which say: 'Now, through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, I want to encourage you brothers to all teach the same things… there shouldn't be any divisions among you. Rather, you must all learn to think the same way and to share the same opinions'

So, was Paul encouraging Christians to go along with the majority even when they are wrong on doctrines or other spiritual issues? Those who are in charge might like to tell us that this is so. But God's commandment at Exodus 23:2 says that this should never be done. So then, was God contradicting Paul? No, notice the problem that Paul was discussing at 1 Corinthians 1:11-13: 'For those of the house of Chloe have told me that you do a lot of arguing, my brothers. What I mean is that some of you are saying, I follow Paul, or I follow Apollos, or I follow Cephas, or I follow the Anointed One; so the Anointed One is being divided. Paul wasn't hung on a pole for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?'

As you can see, he was addressing a situation in the Corinth congregation where the group was becoming divided into various sects or followings. And what Paul was saying was that they should be trying to find harmony in the teachings of Jesus, not that they should follow the majority, right or wrong. There should be unity in TRUTH, not in following the crowd. Please see our linked document, 'What is Truth?.'

Signal of Release

As we have pointed out, some favorite expressions have been changed in this Bible translation to provide you a better, more accurate description of things, places, and events. And we have had to change the wonderful, joyful term 'Jubilee Year,' to reflect the actual words as they appear in the Greek text of the Bible. At Leviticus 25:11, notice that the Greek words found there (which are usually translated as Jubilee of Release) are apheseos semassia, or release signal. So, no Jubilee is actually mentioned in the Greek text.

Also notice that the 'freeing' that was to be done in this year (one out of every fifty), such as the releasing of IsraElite slaves, was not exclusive to that year alone. For later in the book of Deuteronomy we read (at Deuteronomy 15:12-14): 'And if your brother (a Hebrew man or woman) should be sold to you, he may serve you for six years, but in the seventh year you should set him free. And when you set him free, don't send him away empty-handed! You must give him provisions from your flock, your grain, and your wine… as Jehovah your God has blest you, that's how you must treat him.'

In addition, all debts were to be forgiven every seven years; for Deuteronomy 15:1-4 tells us: 'Every seven years you must cancel debts, and these are the rules: You must cancel any debts that your neighbor owes you personally, and you must not ask him to pay you back, because this is a cancellation [of debts] to Jehovah your God. You may ask strangers to pay whatever they owe you, but not your brothers… you must cancel their debts. That way, there won't be any poor people among you and Jehovah your God will surely bless you in the land that He's giving to you as your inheritance.'

So apparently the only difference between the seventh years and the Release Years had to do with the return of inherited land.

Sin of Aaron's Sons

In Leviticus the Tenth Chapter, we read of something that was done by Aaron's sons Nadab and AbiUd that caused them to be destroyed by God, and for some of their priestly relatives to be cut off from IsraEl by being driven away from the camp. So this was obviously a very serious matter. What had they done?

We can't be sure, because the Bible just doesn't tell us anything more. However, notice that thereafter the Priests were told that they weren't to use the sacred incense for any purpose other than on the incense Altar, which was inside the Tent of Proofs. And any person that used it or made any of it for other purposes was to be destroyed… so the indication is that their sin involved a misuse of the sacred incense.

Why had they done such a thing? The answer to this is also implied by God's instructions that followed: 'You and your sons must not drink any wine or liquor before you enter the Tent of Proofs or before you approach the Altar, so you don't die.' This seems to indicate that Aaron's two sons (and some of his relatives) had been drinking too much alcohol and had likely gotten drunk, which led Nadab and AbiUd to do something foolish and disrespectful with the incense.

Notice also Moses' instructions to the remaining Priests that they shouldn't bare their heads or rip their clothes over the deaths of these men. So it is clear that they weren't to show any signs of mourning for those who have been destroyed by God, or any support for the rest of those who had been driven out of the camp. Rather, their actions were to reflect that all of IsraEl fully supported God's discipline.

Sixty-Five Years?

Most Bibles render Isaiah 7:8 as reading, 'And in sixty-five years Ephraim's kingdom will be destroyed by these people.' However, the Bible also tells us that the ten-tribe Kingdom of IsraEl (which was ruled by the Tribe of Ephraim) was destroyed just fifteen years after Aram's King Rezin and IsraEl's King Pekah had planned an attack against Judah. So is this a transcription error, or is there another explanation?

According to several commentators, this sixty-five years corresponds to the time when the last residents of Samaria were removed and relocated by the Assyrians, which happened about fifty years after the reign of IsraEl's last king in Samaria, and during the reign of Judah's King Manasseh. However, we recently received the following explanation as it will be soon published in the book, 'Cracking the Number of the Beast,' by Ricardo K Almeida (Twitter@ricardokal):

'Rezin was killed by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser during the reign of Ahaz, who was the king that heard the above prophecy from Isaiah and whose reign lasted just 16 years. Actually, Ahaz became Tiglath's subject in exchange for this service. Ephraim ceased to be a nation after Samaria was destroyed in the 7th year of Hezekiah, the successor of Ahaz, and most of Israel's population was taken into exile.

'Understand that this prophecy is in the context of the prophecy about Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14-16 NET), which reads: For this reason, the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel. He will eat sour milk and honey, which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right. Here is why this will be so: Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate.

'A child becomes accountable before the Law of God when he or she is 12 or 13 years old. Before that, a child doesn't know how to 'reject evil and choose what is right.' So what the prophecy is saying is that: Before 12 years are completed, 'the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate.'

'Tiglath-Pileser desolated Syria and killed king Rezin before the death of Ahaz. Then Samaria's siege began on the 4th year of Hezekiah, Ahaz's successor. Also, Israel continued to be inhabited more than 90 years after the death of Ahaz (see 2 Chronicles 34:33, 35:16-19). So desolate and stop being a nation was a political, not a demographic assertion. Its complete desolation, which would be witnessed by passersby who would be amazed by it, would only happen after the fall of Jerusalem and deportation of both Israel and Judah to Babylonian lands, about 150 years in the future. So the prophecy about 65 years is wrong and inconsistent, unless the original text was unintentionally modified.

'What appears to be the case, is that the original text actually read, 6 and 5, a tricky expression used by God to convey the information that Rezin would be killed in 6 years, and then Samaria would be seiged in 5 more years. So 6+5 = 11 years, appears to be speaking of the times before a child learns how to reject evil and becomes accountable before the Law of God. Likewise, the form 6 and 5 resembles 6 and 9, 15 years. In Hebrew number format, 6 and 9 is used to express 15 instead of 10 and 5, because the corresponding letters are short forms of the name of God (topic 'Key exceptions' in the Wikipedia article 'Hebrew numerals'). The beginning of the expression, 6 and would create the expectation of a 9 on the reader. That could be a cryptic way of conveying a triple meaning – the death of Rezin in 6 years, the siege of Samaria in 5 more years, and the desolation of Israel (Ephraim) in 15 years… thus, 4 years beyond 11 years, and the siege lasted 3 years. It's reasonable to suppose the deportation of the people took part of the next year to be accomplished, which completes 15 years.

'Notice that Sixty and five in Isaiah 7:8 is in text, not number format, even in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the complete one that is published online). The numbers 6 and 60, when written as six and sixty in Hebrew are very similar. Sixty and five/Six and five could be easily mistaken, because the 6 and 5 construction is unusual. A careless reader could easily understand 65.

'The same information is conveyed in two different ways – the age of a child, 11 years old, and 6 and 5. The mistake is easily made, and easily corrected.'

Soldier in a War

Many Bible translators seem to have missed the point of Paul's words to Timothy, which are found at 1 Timothy 1:18. Here he mentioned a prophecy (or prediction) concerning Timothy. One translation (for example) says that he will 'wage the fine warfare,' while another says that he will 'fight the good fight;' and other Bibles read similarly. However, the Greek words, hina strateun en autais ten kalen strateian, seem to indicate a prediction that Timothy would be a soldier or warrior (strateun) in a good (kalen) war (strateian). And this appears to be the logical way to translate those words, because both letters to Timothy follow the theme of a soldier in battle. For example; Paul refers to him as a 'fine soldier' (kalos strateotes) at 2 Timothy 2:3, 4.

Sons of God

The Greek expression uioi tou Theou literally means sons of/the God. The term was originally only used when speaking of Adam or of heavenly messengers who are God's direct creations, never as the progeny of men, who are referred to as uioi tou anthropois – sons of/the men. And although the term 'sons of God' was later applied to those who were adopted by Him (in Hosea and in the writings of Paul), 'the sons of The God' referred to at Genesis 6:2 must be speaking of God's spirit sons, since the only fleshly son of God up to that time was Adam. Also notice that the women it speaks of there, whom they took, were not called 'the daughters of/the God,' but 'the daughters of/the men (or humans) (gr. tas thygateras ton anthropon).'

This raises the question: Do God's heavenly messengers have sex organs that would be aroused by seeing beautiful women? No, for Jesus indicated at Matthew 22:30 that sexual reproduction isn't a part of heavenly life. So, why would 'sons of God' want to come to earth and take 'all that whom they chose' to be their women?

Apparently, the motivation was the same as the Slanderer's – lust for power. So it could be assumed that they materialized human bodies (with sex organs) and fathered children, who may have been the same as those that the account says grew to be 'giants' and 'famous men' (see Genesis 6:4) in their time. The fact that Greek mythology (which seems to be loosely based on events of this period) tells us of great men who were born from the gods, suggests a possible connection of the 'gods' to the power and size of their offspring. Such men as Hercules come immediately to mind. On the other hand, 'giants' who were 'sons of men' were later mentioned as living in the Promised Land from the time of Moses to the time of King David. So we can't say that giants were all offspring of 'the sons of God.'

Sor or Tyre?

In the Septuagint, EzekiEl's prophesy (found in Chapters 26 and 27) concerning the city of Tyre, speaks of it as Sor, not Tyre. This is because Tyre was built on a rocky land, and Sor means rocks. As the result, for clarification, we have rendered Sor as both Tyre and as the Rock, depending on its use in the text.

Soul

The Greek word psyche (as in psychology) has been translated many ways, including soul and life. However, psyche actually means something that breathes. It is used in the Bible to describe both breathing animals and breathing humans. So by the Bible's definition, a soul cannot leave the body, because a soul is what the living body (whether human or animal) actually is (see Genesis 2:7).

In ancient Greece, philosophers eventually added another meaning to psyche: The inner person (as opposed to the person that others see and come to know). And with time, the pagan religion of Greece started to teach that this inner person is its own entity and can never die (is immortal) (see the Wikipedia definition, 'Soul,' for more history of the word).

Unfortunately, the pagan doctrine that humans have an immortal soul (not that they are souls) began to creep into Christian doctrine around the beginning of the Second Century CE, after the deaths of Jesus' Apostles. However, we can see that Jesus and his Apostles never taught such a thing, for the idea of an immortal soul is in direct conflict with Jesus' promise of a resurrection, because if a person is immortal (can never die), he/she can never be resurrected ('stand again').

Notice that the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul is totally without support from the Bible. For the word immortal(ity) (gr. athanasia or undying) is only mentioned in the Bible in two places, and it isn't used with or applied to the word soul in either case. Both of these scriptures show that immortality is only given by God as a reward for righteousness. And as EzekiEl 18:4 says, 'The person (gr. psyche or soul) that is sinning will die (gr. apothaneitai).'

Of course, there are places in the Bible where the word soul means more than just a living, fleshly body. For example, God is recorded to have spoken of 'My Soul' in several places. Obviously, God is much more than just a 'soul' as most people think of that term, and He surely wasn't talking about His having a human body. So we must conclude that what He was referring to is His inner person.

But if this is true, then why did Jesus say what he did as found at Matthew 10:28, where we read:
'Don't fear those who can kill the body,
But can't kill the person inside (gr. psyche).
Rather, fear the One who can fully discard (gr. apolesai),
The person and the body in the garbage (gr. geenne).'

What was Jesus actually saying? In this case he appears to be using the word psyche (soul) to refer to the value of life that remains with God until the resurrection. He obviously isn't referring to the soul as being immortal in this instance, because he says that God will discard or destroy the [unrighteous] soul or person.

Unfortunately, no single word can be used to translate psyche in every possible Bible application, so various terms are used herein depending on the circumstances, but always in an attempt to harmonize with the true meaning of the Greek word.

Space, Expanse, or Firmament?

The Greek word that we have translated as space several times in the First Chapter of Genesis and in the Psalms is stereoma. We are sure that many readers will recognize this as the root word for stereophonic and for stereo (3-D) photography. It means something that has depth, and is often used to describe something that's solid. This is why stereoma has often been translated as firmament in other Bibles. Firmament is an old English word that was used by early people to describe something they didn't understand, the depth of space. However, the earliest Bible writers used the right word to describe the sky and all that is above it… something that has depth.

Spanking

We have translated the words at Proverbs 13:24 as saying, 'Those who don't spank them, dislike their sons, but those who love them give careful correction.'

Now, we realize that the words which were actually said, were: 'ος φειδεται της βακτηριας μισει τον υιον αυτου ο δε αγαĻων εĻιμελως Ļαιδευει,' or, 'the/one sparing the rod dislikes the son his, but the loving/one carefully corrects.' Why have we made this change?

Well, the word rod (or staff) in English implies a large, hard object that can be used to maim or cause injury, while the text obviously implies something more like a switch or a stick that can be used for a spanking. However, in modern society even this mild action is found to be offensive and can result in criminal prosecution in some places. For some would choose to have Solomon say, 'Those who don't give their sons a time out don't care for them'. However, that's not what Solomon said, for you can see that careful correction is what Solomon was talking about, and the text shows that he was saying this may require a spanking.

That such corporal punishment is meant can be found by reading a similar verse, Proverbs 23:13, 14, which says, 'Don't avoid correcting the young… for if you spank him (strike him with a rod), no way will he die. And if you give him a spanking; from death, you may rescue his soul.' Also note that God speaks of Himself as 'whipping' those whom He loves at Proverbs 3:11, 12, where we read: 'Never take lightly instructions from God, or be upset when He disciplines you. For Jehovah loves those whom He corrects, and He whips the ones whom He welcomes as sons.'

Spiritism

The Greek word that we have translated as, involvement in the occult at Galatians 5:20 is pharmakia. This word has been translated many ways over the years to fit particular religious 'hot buttons.' For some have applied it to forbid spiritism and others have applied it to forbid the use of illicit drugs (due to the 'pharmacy' connection). However, the word refers specifically to the use of 'magic potions' that are supplied by mystics, such as witches and the like. And some connection to modern-day (prescribed and patent) medicines as sold in drug stores could be implied. However, the difference is that modern medicines aren't claimed to have 'magical' or 'occult' powers.

The particular Greek/English interlinear Bible that we used when preparing this version translated pharmakia as druggery. However, the nuance that druggery implies in American English simply isn't correct. It suggests the misuse (abuse) of mind-altering drugs… and that isn't the primary meaning of pharmakia. While mind-altering drugs would likely have played a role in ancient potions, the corrupt act mentioned here clearly refers to any involvement in occult practices and contact with the demons. Yet history has proven that the use of such drugs does leave the mind open to demon influence.

Spirit of Anointed or of Anointing?

At Romans 8:10, 11 there is some question as to whether Paul was referring to the Spirit of Jesus or to the spirit of anointing. For in Greek we find the words, 'de tis pneuma christou ouk echei,' or, 'moreover, anyone breath of anointed not has …' Notice that there is no 'the' before 'christou,' which would be required if Paul was referring to the Spirit of the Anointed One (or, the Christ). And it is unlikely that Paul implied that the title Christou (Christ) was Jesus' first name, as many wrongly apply it today. In fact, none of the Gospels put the term 'Christou' ahead of his name (always after, as in Jesus the Anointed). This practice of placing the title ahead of Jesus' name apparently started around the year 60-CE, because we first find this junction of the words Christou Iesous in the book of Acts, which was written toward the end of the life of Paul. However, referring to him as the Anointed (or 'Christ') Jesus would still be correct if the title was put there to differentiate him from the thousands of others with the same name, since Jesus is just a Hellenized pronunciation of Joshua.

The reason why we question the phrasing here is because the title christou is used alone without designating a name (Jesus), which is unusual. And you can see that a slight miscopying of the tense would change the meaning of the verse considerably (Paul's letters appear to have been translated from Aramaic to Greek in the early 2nd Century, and we know that some mistakes were made).

Actually, either phrasing could be meant here, since other scriptures speak of the anointing of Christians, as well as of the Spirit of Jesus (for more information, see the Note in John, 'Advocate, Helper, Comforter or Savior). Therefore, we have included it both ways so as to not mislead.

Spirits in Prison

At 1 Peter 3:19, we read about 'spirits' (literally, breaths) who were put into 'prison' for the bad acts they committed during the time of Noah. Genesis 6:1-4 speaks of them as 'sons of/the God' (gr. ouioi tou Theou), and it tells of these spirit creatures coming to earth and taking 'the daughters of/the mankind' (gr. thygateras ton anthropon). Then at 2 Peter 2:4, we read that they were put into 'Tartarus.'

What does Tartarus mean? In other Bibles, this Greek word has wrongfully been translated as Hell and Hell Fire. However, it refers specifically to the place where 'gods' (not humans) were sent in Greek mythology, and that must have been the thought that Peter was trying to convey. Yet this particular reference is where later 'Christians' got the idea that the Slanderer and his demons are in Hell watching over its flames and torturing human souls.

Then why did Peter use this pagan term that came from Greek Mythology to describe the condition of unfaithful messengers (angels) of God? Well, anyone who takes the time to carefully consider Greek Mythology will notice close (but sometimes opposite) parallels to Bible stories as told in Genesis Chapters Two through Six. Stories such as Hercules and the Golden Apples, Pandora's Box, Medusa, immoral Gods who came to earth, etc., seem to closely resemble the stories of Adam and the forbidden fruit, the first woman Eve who brought evils upon all mankind, the snake in the Paradise, and the sons of God who came to earth and lived as humans. Therefore it isn't surprising that they also had a name for the place where these sons of God (the 'gods') were sent after the Downpour. And since this correct idea was common at the time, Peter used this word to convey what he was talking about to his readers.

So, since these 'sons of God' who came to earth and assumed human bodies in Noah's day couldn't be destroyed by the Downpour (flood) and they had forsaken heaven, they were apparently put into a prison-like state here on the earth, where they are no longer able to roam. This group is specifically referred to as the demons in the Bible, and it appears as though this state of 'Tartarus' means that they are not free to roam, but must be associated with either living or non-living things, which is referred to as 'possession' or 'haunting.'

Spiritual Jews

Note that Jesus had specifically instructed his disciples not to go and preach to the gentiles or to the nearby Samaritans. The reason for this was so as to allow 'the Sons of the Kingdom' (the Jews) first choice to be rulers (kings) in God's Kingdom. However, about three-and-a-half years after they rejected and murdered His Son, God started selecting candidates from among 'people of the nations' or, 'the gentiles' (gr. te ethne).

Of course, it was hard for Jesus' Jewish disciples to understand why there would be a need for a change in the ethnic backgrounds of the Kingdom heirs. So, despite repeated clues (such as what Jesus said at Acts 1:8 about their preaching 'to the ends of the earth'), it came as a shock to them when the first 'gentiles' were converted and received God's Holy Breath, which indicated His adoption of them as 'spiritual sons.' And because they didn't fully grasp the reasons behind this change; until the destruction of JeruSalem and its Temple in 70-CE, Paul had to repeatedly warn against the teachings of Jewish 'Christians' who were trying to force gentile Christians to adhere to the Old Law and to circumcision.

You can see that it was difficult back then for these Jews to understand that God's promises were no longer centered on the nation of IsraEl and on earthly JeruSalem in particular as the center of that rulership. And it's not surprising that this is still misunderstood by many Christians today who are teaching that the Jews are still 'God's Chosen People,' and that the Bible's prophecies center around what is happening and will happen around earthly JeruSalem… they don't grasp the full import of Jesus' words at Luke 13:35, 'Look! Your house has been taken from you!'

For more information, see the linked document, 'JeruSalem and the IsraEl of God.'

Star of Raiphan

We have often wondered about the origin of the star of David that holds such a prominent place in the nation of IsraEl today; for it seems unusual that a nation that was to have no images would select a star as its sign. In fact, why would any nation that claims the God of AbraHam as its God choose the sun, moon, or stars as its sign, when we are told to worship only the God who made the heavens and earth?

However, the explanation that is often given is that the star of David has its roots in the prophecy found at Numbers 24:17, which says, 'A star must arise from Jacob, and a man must spring from IsraEl. He will crush the leaders of Moab, and plunder all sons of Seth.' And since it was thought that this prophecy was fulfilled in King David, the star of David was apparently born.

But, as we were translating the Bible book of Amos from the Greek Septuagint, we noticed that there was another period during which a star was used as a sign and worshiped in IsraEl. For at Amos 5:26, we read:
'But then, you chose Molech's tent,
And the star of Raiphan as your gods…
You made idols of them for yourselves!'

So according to this text, there was another star representing a false god that had once been worshiped and possibly worn as a sign by apostate IsraElites, and God condemned them for doing this. Yet it could be argued that the Bible never mentioned anything like the star of Raiphan; for the Hebrew texts actually reads (NW), 'And will actually carry Sukkuth your king, and Kaiwan, your images, the star of your god, whom you made for yourselves.'

Pretty unclear, isn't it? So, which rendering is right?

Well, notice how Stephen quoted Amos 5:26 just before he was killed. He said there (at Acts 7:43): 'Rather, you took up with the images that you made for worship in the tent of Moloch and with the star of the God, Rephan.'

So although the spelling is a bit different, Stephen is obviously quoting the Greek Septuagint text of Amos 5:26, where it referred to this 'star of Rephan (or Raiphan),' proving that the Septuagint text is correct.

What was that star? According to A Student's Guide to New Testament Textual Variants: 'Other spellings found in manuscripts (of Acts) are Repha, Rempha, and Rephphan. The Greek Old Testament spells the name Raiphan. All of these are variations of the Egyptian name Repa for the god Saturn.'

So as you can see, this star image came from the worship of the god (or planet) Saturn. However, there is no Bible record of the star being used as a symbol of either David or IsraEl, and God specifically banned the use of such images (especially those of stars) in His Law. Instead, archeological evidence shows that the most ancient symbol that was used to represent IsraEl during its faithful years was the sacred lampstand that once stood in God's Temple.

Stumble or Trap?

The Greek word scandalon means the trip lever of a trap. And while it is often translated as stumble, the meaning has more to do with stumbling into a snare or trap.

Subjection

We have translated the verse at 1 Timothy 2:12 as reading: 'For I don't allow women to teach or to act independently from men, but to [listen] quietly.' In Greek this reads, 'Didaskein de gynaiki ouk epitrepo oude authentein andros all einai en hesuchia,' or, 'To teach but women not I/allow or to/act/independently from/men, but to/be in quiet.'

It can be successfully argued that this and the surrounding verses were actually talking about the proper conduct of wives toward their husbands in Christian meetings, not about the proper conduct of all Christian women, since the Greek word gynaiki can also be properly translated as wives, and the word andros can be translated as husbands. So the verse could be translated as, 'For I don't allow wives to teach or to act independently from [their] husbands, but to [listen] quietly.' However, the authenticity of all the verses from 9 to 14 (as discussed in the linked Note 'Women Not Allowed to Speak?') are questionable.

Swearing

At Leviticus 5:1, we read: 'And if a person sins by witnessing, seeing, or knowing of someone who has sworn an oath [of vengeance] against another and doesn't report it, he is responsible for his sin.'

Unfortunately, many Bibles translate the word used here, horkismou, as just swearing. And in American English, that generally implies using a profanity. However, horkismou refers to swearing an oath (in vengeance), not necessarily to the use of profanities. So although this verse is often used by religious groups to condemn the use of profanities, that isn't what this particular verse implies.

However, to understand the seriousness involved in cursing another in the Name of God, see the Note, 'Dedicated to Destruction.'

Synagogue

In the Septuagint, we find the word synagogue (gr. synagoges) mentioned many times while the IsraElites were in the desert. Just what type of building was this?

Well, it wasn't a building at all. Actually, synagogue means a gathering or a calling together. And the entire nation of IsraEl was usually referred to as a synagogue. It wasn't until many years later, after they had entered the Promised Land and possibly after their return from exile in Babylon that the Jews built local buildings for worship (something other than the Temple), and that's when they started referring to the buildings as synagogues.

We also find the word synagogue mentioned several times in the Christian Era Scriptures, and in each case but one, it clearly refers to Jewish religious meeting places or to the groups that meet in them. However, there is one instance where the word could be speaking a Christian meeting place. This is found at James 2:2 (see the link). Yet, even this instance (though commonly mistranslated and misunderstood) could be speaking of a Judaic meeting place of worship, since James seems to have addressed his letter to the diaspora (scattered Jews), rather than to Christian congregations (see James 1:1).

You might notice that referring to a building as a gathering (church) is similar to what happened in Christendom. For in older Bibles, Christian gatherings (gr. ekklesias) were called churches. But before long, Christians also started referring to the buildings as churches. For more information, see the linked document, 'Congregation, Synagogue, or Called Ones.'

Tar Pits or Slime Pits?

You will find that Bible translations vary in their descriptions of the type of pits that the Kings of Sodom and GamorRah fell into during their battle with AbraHam and his men, as mentioned at Genesis 14:10. Some (like the KJ) say it was a slime pit, while others say it was a pit of asphalt. But the question is: If they fell into a tar pit (which would surely be fatal), then how was the king of Sodom able to survive, as is indicated in verse 17? Well, notice this explanation as found in The Geochemical Society Special Publications Volume 9, 2004, Pages 359–364:
'The Dead Sea area has been associated with bitumen (= asphalt) for thousands of years. For this reason, it has commonly been taken for granted that pits of bitumen existed in the Dead Sea area, and into which the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell after losing a battle in the vale of Siddim in the Dead Sea region (Genesis, 14:10). However, physical evidence for the existence of such pits is practically non-existent. At times when the Dead Sea water level is low, as it is nowadays, large expanses of black mud covered with a carbonate crust are exposed along the coast of the lake. The black mud resembles asphalt in its shiny black color and sulfurous smell. It has been sometimes assumed that the mud contains asphalt, although this is not the case, and the color and smell are due to poorly crystallized iron surfides. The solid looking carbonate veneer is quite frail and it is easy to sink through it into the underlying black mud. Thus, the biblical description may be of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fleeing through the mud flats when the lake level was low, and sinking into the black sulfurous mud.'

So according to geologists; though the pits looked and smelled like asphalt, they were actually filled with a black slime that was covered by a crust into which it was easy for those kings to fall and become trapped (until someone came to pull them out)… another verification of the authenticity of the Bible book of Genesis.

Tarshish; Spain or Carthage?

When looking up the name of the land called Tarshish, we found that one noted reference says: 'Most scholars associate Tarshish with Spain, based on ancient references to a place or region in Spain called Tartessus by Greek and Roman writers … ' and this could be the proper translation. However, the Jewish translators of the 3rd Century BCE say that the place spoken of in Isaiah 23 (specifically) wasn't Spain (as other Bibles indicate), but Carthage, a major ancient city along the Mediterranean Sea in the Bay of Tunis, about 100 miles SW of Sicily. And this appears to be more in line with the words of the prophecy; for Isaiah 23:1 then says, 'Shriek O boats of Carthage, for [Tyre] has perished.' And because the people from Tyre originally populated Carthage, it is logical that they would be the ones to shriek at its destruction.

Ten 'Lost' Tribes of IsraEl

Over the centuries, many things have been written about what may have happened to the ten tribes of IsraEl that were carried away as captives by the King of Assyria. Some religious groups once speculated that they became the natives of Great Britain, while another religion teaches that they came to the Americas. Of course, both of these theories have been proven untrue by archeology and genetic research, but such teachings still continue.

Whatever happened to the ten 'lost' tribes? The Bible tells us clearly; for at 2 Kings 17:6, we read: 'Then the king of Assyria captured Samaria and moved all the people of IsraEl into Assyria – to Alae-Abor, along the Gozan River, and into the mountains of the Medes.' Notice that this location is in and around Persia and modern-day Iraq. For there is a river in NW Iran named the Qezel Ozan, which is thought to be the Gozan, and it is a tributary to Phison or Pishon (today the Sephid-Rud) that flowed through the land of Edem (Eden).

What happened to them after that? The account at 1 Chronicles 5:26 says, 'So the God of IsraEl caused the spirit of Pul, the king of Assyria (who was also known as Tiglath-Pileser) to become enraged with them, and he sent fifty-thousand men who relocated [the tribes of] Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of ManasSeh. He moved them to Chalak, Mabor, and along the Gozan River, where they still are today.'

So since it is believed that the Chronicles were written by Ezra after Judah's repatriation from Babylon (c. 560-BCE), it can be clearly seen that the ten tribes were still living in Northern Persia at that time, and they were likely disseminated among the local population thereafter, since they no longer worshiped (or had a Sacred Agreement with) the God of IsraEl, Jehovah. In fact, recent genetic research indicates a strong link between them and the Kurds of Northern Iran.

Note that one Bible book, Nahum, appears to have been written from the Kurdish area of Iran (then Assyria) after IsraEl's deportation in the Eighth Century BCE.

Tent

The statement found at Leviticus 26:11 ('I will pitch My tent among you') may sound unusual to most people. For, why would God refer to Himself as living in a tent?

The Greek word that we have translated as tent is skene (pronounced skaynay). This word is used throughout the Bible and has been translated in other Bibles as booth, tent, and tabernacle. However, none of these words accurately describe what skene means, for it implies a temporary type of dwelling that can be made of cloths, skins, or sticks and branches. For example, God's Sacred Tent (skene) in the desert was made of cloth and covered with skins, while the structures (skenes) that the IsraElites were to live in during what has become known as 'the Festival of Booths' was made of sticks and branches.

The Greek word oikos (pronounce oy-koss), on the other hand, refers to a permanent dwelling, and it is usually translated as house. For example; When the IsraElites were wandering in the desert, the Sacred Tent of Jehovah was to be temporary. But when Solomon later built His Temple, it was often referred to as a House (oikos), since it was a permanent structure… however, house in this case didn't mean home, because God never really lived there.

So, notice how coming to an understanding the meanings of the original words helps to explain why God refers to Himself as coming to 'tent' with mankind (as at Revelation 21:3). For the term likely refers to His temporary presence or representation, not to His coming to the earth to live among us.

Tent of Proofs

We are sure that many will object to our calling God's place of worship in the desert a 'tent' rather than a 'tabernacle.' However, tabernacle is an obsolete word, the true meaning of which is misunderstood by most people. So for clarification, we have opted to use the modern word 'tent,' because it was in fact a portable structure made of cloth and beams.

Notice that this tent is often referred to in Greek as the skenes tou marturion, which means, Tent of Testimony or, Tent of Proofs. And the reason why they called it that, was because it housed the kiboton martyrion (Box [of] Testimony or Chest of Proofs), which is referred to in other Bibles as Ark of the Covenant. However, we have more closely translated skenes tou marturion as Tent of Proofs wherever these particular Greek words are found.

Terah's Age When Abram Was Born (Contributed)

Many have assumed that because Genesis 11:26 states, 'Now Terah lived seventy years and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran,' that Abram (later known as AbraHam) was born when Terah was 70. The truth is, AbraHam was not born for another 60 years! How can we be sure of this?

Notice that when Stephen was delivering his masterful sermon recorded in Acts 7, he stated that AbraHam moved to the land of Palestine 'after the death of his father.' Yet if Terah was 205 years old when he died (see Genesis 11:32), and AbraHam departed Haran when he was 75 (see Genesis 12:4), then Terah had to be 130, not 70, when AbraHam was born.

In light of this information, Henry Morris and John Whitcomb have helped us to better understand Genesis 11:26 by paraphrasing it as follows: 'And Terah lived seventy years and begat the first of his three sons, the most important of whom (not because of age but because of the Messianic line) was Abram.'

Lest you think this is an isolated incident (where the son mentioned was not the firstborn son), consider another example. Genesis 5:32 states: 'And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.' Like the situation with Terah begetting AbraHam, Nahor, and Haran; here we read that at age 500, Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Was Shem the firstborn? Were the three sons of Noah triplets, or was Shem mentioned first because of his Messianic connection? The evidence seems to indicate that Shem was not the firstborn, but was born two years later.

Consider the following passages:
'Noah was six hundred years old when the Downpour of waters started on the earth' (Genesis 7:6).
'In the six hundred and first year of Noah's life, on the first day of the first month, the water had poured off the earth' (Genesis 8:13).
Then Genesis 11:10 tells us: 'Shem was a hundred years old when he became father to Arphaxad in the second year after the Downpour.'

So these verses seem to suggest that Shem was not born when Noah was 500, but rather, when he was 502. Also, if you compare Genesis 11:10 to the words of 10:22, you'll see that Shem's son Arphaxad was not the firstborn son in his family either. So Shem, Arphaxad, and others are likely mentioned first for the same reason that AbraHam was... because they are Messianic ancestors and not because they were the firstborn sons of their fathers.

Interestingly, numerous other Messianic ancestors, such as Seth, IsaAc, Jacob, Judah, and Perez, were not the firstborn sons either.

So, was Moses being dishonest when he recorded these genealogies? Absolutely not. Just as Genesis 5:32 does not teach that Noah was 500 when Shem was born, Genesis 11:26 does not teach that Abram was born when Terah was 70. This verse basically means that Terah began having children at age 70, not that all three children were born at that age.

Editor's Note: This is why we have rendered Genesis 11:26 in this Bible as saying, 'After Terah was seventy years old, he became father to Abram, NaHor, and HarRan.

The Dead

Revelation 20:12 speaks of the 'dead' as 'standing before [God's] throne' and 'being judged.' Since they are able to stand for judgment, in what sense are they dead?

Note that at Matthew 8:22, Jesus said: 'Let the dead bury their own dead.' And at Romans 8:10, Paul speaks of the body being 'dead' because of sin. Then at 1 Corinthians 15:22 he explains that, 'Because of Adam, all men are dying.' And apparently, Adam was viewed as one of the dead from the day that he sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, since God had warned him (at Genesis 2:17), 'On whatever day you eat from it, your life will end and you will die.' But thereafter, the Bible tells us that Adam actually lived on for hundreds of years, during which he fathered all his children.

So the conclusion we have reached is that all men are considered as dead and dying before God due to inherited sin and our own sins. Therefore, the scripture in Revelation Twenty appears to be speaking of people who will no longer be physically dead (they will have been resurrected) and that's when they must stand before God to be judged.

However, from the promises of Jesus, it does appear as though people can be considered no longer dead even before the resurrection. For notice what Jesus is recorded to have said at John 5:24: 'I tell you the truth; Whoever hears what I say and believes in the One that sent me will have age-long life… he won't have to be judged, but he has come out of the death and into the life!'

And John wrote again at 1 John 3:14: 'Because we love our brothers, we know that we've crossed over from death to life. However, those who don't love stay dead.'

So it appears as though a person is no longer considered to be 'dead' by God when his/her name is written in 'the book of life.' This doesn't mean that they won't die, but that they are considered as 'the living' in God's eyes; and as such, they will not be counted among the dead who are raised in the resurrection (for more information, see the linked document, 'The Resurrection').

This appears to be the meaning of Jesus' words at Matthew 22:32, which say, 'Haven't you read what God told you about the resurrection of the dead, [when He said], I am the God of AbraHam, the God of IsaAc, and the God of Jacob? He isn't the God of the dead, but of the living!'

The Word

The Greek word logos is rightly translated as word. But notice that it has been given many other applications today, such as in the forms 'log [book]' 'logic,' etc., and it is added to the ends of words (in the form ology) to imply 'the study of.' Also note that logos means something greater than just 'word,' The expression of a thought. So when John called Jesus 'the Word' at John 1:1, he was really saying that Jesus is the complete expression of God's thoughts.

However, the particular words that John used to open his masterful work (the Bible book of John) have caused people to wonder why he worded it the way that he did, when he described Jesus as 'the Word,' and he referred to him as being 'God' or 'a god.' But if you closely examine all the words carefully (especially in the Greek text), you'll see that he was obviously explaining the words of Genesis 1:1-4, which says, 'In the beginning The God created the sky and the land. However, the land was unsightly and unfinished, darkness covered its depths, and God's Breath moved over its waters. Then The God spoke (gr. eipen), saying, Let there be light. So light came to be, and God saw that the light was beautiful.'

Notice that Genesis 1:3 tells us that, The God spoke, and thereafter things just came into existence (by means of some unnamed person or force).

Now, follow along in John's opening words at John 1:1-4 and notice how they dovetail with and explain Genesis 1:1-3: 'In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with (Greek) Ton Theon (the God) and the Word was (Greek) theos (god or god-like). This one was with The God in the beginning, and through him it all came to be.'

As you can see, the account in Genesis says that The God spoke things into existence, and here John is explaining what God said (what the 'Word' was). So God 'spoke' and the 'Word' (Jesus in his pre-human existence) did the creating.

So if John 1:1 appears to support the idea of a trinity to some, this is unintentional. John was simply trying to impress on his readers that although Jesus isn't mentioned in Genesis 1:1, he was there with The God and was himself a powerful god who actually did the work when God 'spoke' the sky (or heaven) and Land (or earth) into existence. This could also be the reason why Genesis 1:1 in the Hebrew text says that Gods (heb. Elohim) created the heavens and earth.

However, notice that John may have also been explaining the meanings of some of the other words that are found in the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl. For while we were trying to resolve the confusing wording tenses in the writings of the ancient Hebrew Prophets, it became clear that the phrase that is usually translated as saying, 'This is the word of the Lord,' probably once read, 'The Word of Jehovah said this … ' And if this conclusion is true (for in each case, the prophecies seem to have been speaking of Jesus), then perhaps John was also explaining who this 'Word of Jehovah' was that is mentioned in the prophecies. We find such interesting renderings throughout the writings of the Prophets. For example, read Zechariah 11:10-12, and you will see that this prophecy is clearly speaking about Jesus and identifying him as 'the Word of Jehovah.'

Then, are we to conclude from what John wrote that Jesus' heavenly name is ton Logos (the Word or Expression of a Thought)? Probably not. Recognize that John was just employing an inspired play on words to draw attention to the phrasing of Genesis 1:1, and possibly to other scriptures. Rather, Jesus' pre-human name may have been MichaEl, which means: Who is Like God. And John called him 'the Word' in order to point out Jesus' ancient high (godly) position as the co-worker with God who created whatever things God spoke and who was mentioned in prophecies.

Does this mean that Jesus existed before the creation of our universe? That seems to be what is implied. For more information, see the linked document, 'Does the Bible Promise Everlasting Life?'

Thirty Years

EzekiEl's opening words, in which he dates his writing as thirty years from some unknown starting point, has remained a mystery to most Bible scholars. Though he could have been referring to his age at the time that he started his prophesying, note the suggestion provided by Barnes' Notes on the Bible: 'Some reckon this date from the accession of Nabopolassar (father of Nebuchadnezzar) in 625-BCE, and suppose that Ezekiel here gives a Babylonian date as a Jewish date (as in Ezekiel 1:2); but it is not certain that this accession formed an era in Babylon, and Ezekiel does not elsewhere give a double date, or even a Babylonian date. Others date from the 18th year of Josiah, when Hilkiah discovered the Book of the Law (supposed to be a jubilee year): this would give 594-BCE as the 30th year, but there is no other instance in Ezekiel of reckoning from this year.'

This was the Scroll #1

The words, 'this was the scroll' (at Genesis 2:4) imply that the previous words came from a pre-recorded source. When was this portion of the Genesis written? The types of words that are used there indicate that this portion of Genesis was likely transcribed by Moses into his more-modern dialect of Hebrew from a document that was originally written much earlier. For more information, see the linked document, 'The Bible's Internal Proofs of its Authentic History.'

This was the Scroll #2

The words, 'this was the scroll' at Genesis 5:1, imply that this was another piece of pre-recorded history (separate from what was written in the First Chapter of Genesis). However, the references to post-downpour nations such as the Assyrians and Ethiopians (Cushites) indicate that it was written after the Downpour, and the dialect it is written in dates it to near the time of Moses. For it appears as though Moses transcribed it into his dialect from documents that were written much earlier (such as during the time of Noah's son Shem), or possibly even from a song.

Thousand Years or Thousands of Years?

There appears to be some question as to the meaning of the Greek text at 2 Peter 3:8, as well as several verses of Revelation 20. For while most modern Greek text sources seem to agree on the words of these verses, the wording in Tischendorf's text should also be considered. For there it uses the Greek words chilioi etos (pronounced kee-lee-o-ee etos). Chilioi etos is the plural form of chilia eta, which means, thousand years. And although the words appear in their singular forms in most modern texts, such sources as Vine's seem to acknowledge that the plural form is how it may have once appeared in those verses.

What difference does all of this make? Well, recognize that the singular form (thousand years) is the preference of almost all Bible translators, so it may be correct. However, if the plural form (thousands of years) is correct, then certain common Bible teachings may be in error. For example: Is a thousand years as one day to God, or are thousands of years as one day to Him? And will Jesus reign for a thousand years or for thousands of years? We will leave others to debate such things; we're just bringing it to your attention.

Three Kings

There is more myth than fact to most people's ideas of just who 'the three wise men' were and how many there were that brought gifts to Jesus and his family after his birth. As common myth has it (and as all the Christmas songs say), there were (1)three (2)kings that brought gifts to Jesus while he was (3)in the feed trough (manger) in BethLehem… probably wrong on all three counts. Let's take a close look at all three beliefs:

1. If you go back and re-read Matthew 2:1-12, you will see that the account doesn't say how many men there were. All we do know is that they brought three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

2. Matthew didn't write that they were 'wise men,' 'kings,' or 'astrologers' (as some Bibles say). The account simply says (in Greek) that they were magoi. Magoi simply means, 'Priests of Babylon.' Actually, it's the word that we get the English word 'magician' from, so there may be some extended meaning to the term, but that is just speculation. Yet others have argued for the use of the word Zoroastrian.

3. Then go back and reread Matthew 2:11. It clearly says that they went to a house (gr. oikian), not a stable or barn; so Jesus wasn't lying in the manger when they arrived. However, the rest of the account does indicate that this house was in BethLehem (where JoSeph had gone to register); so these things obviously happened shortly after Jesus' birth.

Time of Difficulty

The Greek word thlipsis (pronounced: thel/eep/sees) is used several times in the Bible, but it is difficult to find an equivalent word in common American English to translate it. It implies a painful, difficult time, and it was used to describe a woman's childbirth labor. Tribulation and travail are nice old English words that describe the meaning fairly accurately, but since they aren't the types of words you would read in a newspaper today, we have tried to use more common words to translate it, depending on the context.

Notice how Jesus applied thlipsis when he was describing the events that would lead up to the destruction of JeruSalem (at Matthew 24:21): 'Then there will come a difficult time such as hasn't happened from the beginning of the arrangement until now, nor should ever happen again.'

You can see that Jesus was quoting from a prophecy in the book of DaniEl when he said this, as he had just done previously in verse fifteen. For at Daniel 12:1 we read:
'And in that very same hour,
The Highest Messenger, MichaEl, will come
(The one who keeps watch on the sons of your people),
And a difficult time will arrive,
Such as has never happened before
And will never happen again
.'

So both of these scriptures were truly fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. However, many people teach that there be a future and greater fulfillment to this prophesied 'time of difficulty.' And if so, what signs should Christians look for?

Well, notice that in ancient JeruSalem, this difficult time was to arrive immediately after this sign was observed (Matthew 24:15, 16): 'When you see the disgusting destroyer standing in the Holy Place, then those in Judea should run to the mountains.'

When was the 'disgusting destroyer' found to be 'standing in the Holy Place' back in the 1st Century? It was clear to those early Jewish Christians that it happened when the armies of Rome first came and camped around JeruSalem's walls. For historical accounts tell us that they understood this to be the sign of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus (and Daniel), so they thereafter fled JeruSalem during a brief period when the Roman armies lifted their siege… then the Romans returned and the 'difficult time' started for that city.

What happened that made life so difficult in JeruSalem that it deserved the prophetic words of DaniEl and Jesus? Well, the Roman armies built a fence of pointed stakes all around the city so no one could leave, and this brought diseases and such great starvation that people even ate their own children. Then in the end, tens of thousands were slaughtered by swords, and the survivors were sold off as slaves throughout the Roman empire. Yes, it was truly a very traumatic time for those who thought of themselves as righteous and the people of God!

Then, does the Bible speak of some future parallel event that can be likened to the difficult time that came upon ancient JeruSalem? Yes, in Revelation the Eighteenth Chapter we read of something similar that was prophesied to happen. For in that account, messengers from God showed the Apostle John a symbolic woman called 'The Great Babylon.' And there she is spoken of as being destroyed by worldly armies (as was JeruSalem). So the destruction of The Great Babylon (when it happens) could be a modern parallel to what happened to the people of ancient JeruSalem, who, though they claimed to be in a covenant relationship with God, were unfaithful and bloodguilty.

But will this 'difficult time' be the same thing as 'the Battle of Armageddon?' No, for that battle appears to come against the worldly armies that attack 'the Great Babylon' after her time of great difficulty (note the order of events that are described at Revelation 19:2 and at verse 19).

It would, of course, be presumptuous for us to try to dogmatically set out the order in which all these things will happen. However, Jesus went on to say (at Matthew 24:29):
'Then immediately after that difficult time;
The sun will grow dark,
The moon won't give out its light,
The stars will fall from the skies,
And the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
'

And verse 30 continues: 'Then the Son of Man's sign will appear in the skies, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief as they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in the sky with great glory and might. '

And finally, Revelation the Seventh Chapter speaks of a huge crowd of people who apparently survive this 'great time of difficulty.' Notice that it says (in verses 9, 10): 'And after all that, I saw {Look!} a crowd so large that no one could count them. They came from all countries, nationalities, ethnic groups, and languages, and they were standing within view (gr. enopion) of the Lamb and the throne. They were all wearing white robes and carrying palm branches in their hands, and they were shouting: We owe our salvation to our God who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb!' Then verse 14 goes on to tell us: 'These are the ones that have come out of the great time of difficulty (gr. thlipsis).'

So according to these verses, the faithful escape the 'great time of difficulty' by cleaning up their lives and accepting the salvation of God and Jesus. Then (after the destruction of 'the Great Babylon' and the wedding of the Lamb) the Battle of Armageddon against the kings of the earth and their armies begins.

For more detailed information, see the linked commentary, 'The Great Tribulation.'

TO the East or FROM the East?

At Genesis 11:2 our Bible translation reads: 'Then, as they migrated from the east, they found a flat area of land in Shinar and they started living there.' However, other Bibles read:
(New International Version) 'As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.'
(New Living Translation) 'As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.'
So did men migrate east or west from Mt. Ararat?

In Greek, the words are, 'apo anatolon,' or, 'from the/east.' However, the extant Hebrew texts read 'miq-qe-dem be-na-se-am,' or, 'east journeyed.' We believe the Greek text to be correct in this case, because to get from Mt. Ararat to the land of Shinar, you have to travel west.

Tree of Life

The book of Genesis speaks of a 'Tree of Life' that God had put in the middle of the Paradise of Delights (Garden of Eden), at Genesis 2:9. And one of the reasons why God expelled Adam and his wife from the Paradise was (according to Genesis 3:22) to keep them from eating the fruit of that tree and continuing to live. So, was this a real tree?

Well, since the account speaks of the possibility of their eating its fruit, we must assume that it was a real tree, for the Bible simply doesn't tell us any more. And if there were such a tree, this raises the question: Was Adam truly created perfect and having the ability to live forever, as some have said? For if he was, then why would he have needed to eat from the Tree of Life?

Surely Adam wasn't imperfect in the beginning, but the fact that God had created a Tree of Life indicates that he needed to prove his faithfulness to God in order to continue living. Yet such a conclusion raises these questions:
* Does this mean that man was created mortal and corruptible (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)?
* Does this mean that Adam would have to partake of the Tree of Life continually to remain alive and free from the corruption of the aging process?
* Will there be Trees of Life on the earth in the future?
* And if so, must mankind continue to eat from these trees in order to become undying and incorruptible?

Understand that the following thoughts are just suggestions based on our continuing study of the Bible, and with more study, these conclusions may change. However, it appears as though man was created mortal (capable of death), for why else would he need the Tree of Life? Yet all mention of the Tree (or Trees) of Life in the Bible seems to indicate that partaking of it (or them) is just a one-time requirement (see Genesis 3:22 and Revelation 2:7). And if our conclusions about the meaning of the words at 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 are correct (see the linked document, 'God's Promise of an Inheritance'), the faithful will be raised without any need for the Tree of Life, for since they will have already proven themselves righteous, the Bible indicates that they will be resurrected as undying and incorruptible.

As for the future; the Bible does say that there will again be a Tree (or Trees) of Life. For notice what Jesus promised (at Revelation 2:7): 'I'll allow the one who conquers to eat from the Tree (gr. Xylou) of Life that is in the Paradise of The God.'
And at Revelation 22:1, 2, John wrote: 'Then he showed me the River of the Water of Life… it was crystal clear and flowing out of the Throne of The God and of the Lamb, down the middle of its street. And on both sides [of the river] were the Trees (gr. Xylon, plural?) of Life, which bear twelve [crops of] fruit, putting out fruit monthly; and the Trees' leaves are used for the healing of the nations.'

So, who will eat from these trees? It appears as though any who have not previously been in a covenant relationship with God (the 'nations' or 'ethnics') are the ones who will be allowed to partake of the tree's life-giving fruit once they've proven themselves faithful. But then, that is just speculation.

Two Witnesses

Exactly who the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3, 4 are (or will be) is open to religious debate, which we won't enter here, for that requires foolish speculation. However, we do know that these witnesses are described as, 'The two olive trees and the two lampstands that have been standing on the earth in front of the Lord.'

What testimony will be required of these two witnesses? In the case of ancient IsraEl, Moses and Aaron stood as witnesses of God before the Pharaoh of Egypt and told him to release God's people IsraEl, or He would send great plagues upon his land. And we find similar signs spoken of at Revelation 11:6, where it says of the two witnesses: 'They're also authorized to turn water into blood and to bring every sort of plague to the earth whenever they wish.'

So, whoever the two witnesses in the prophecy will prove to be; they will probably be able to testify to some great acts of God. Otherwise, there would be no need for witnesses.

We also read about two 'olive trees' that stand on either side of a 'lampstand' in Zechariah 4:2. And they are identified (in verse 14) as, 'the two sons of the blessings who stand beside the Lord of the earth.' So since we find the same terms used there as we do in the Revelation, we might assume that there is some parallel significance between both of these prophecies.

What is the great act that these two witnesses will testify to? The only information that we have is what is found in the verses that follow: Revelation 11:3 says they will 'prophesy for one-thousand two-hundred and sixty days wearing sackcloth.' Then verses 3-6 say, 'If any of their enemies wish to harm them, fire will come from their mouths and consume them. So if anyone wants to persecute them, that's how they're going to die, because they've been authorized to close up the sky so no rain will fall during the period of their prophesying. They're also authorized to turn water into blood and to bring every sort of plague to the earth whenever they wish.'

Verses 7 and 8 continue, 'And when they've finished their witnessing, the wild animal that comes out of the pit will fight against them, conquer them, and kill them. Then their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which [God's] Breath refers to as Sodom and Egypt. It's where their Lord was hung on a pole.'

And verses 11-13 tell us, 'However, after the three and a half days, God sent His breath of life into them and they stood up on their feet, and this frightened those who saw them. Then [the two witnesses] heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, Come on up here. And their enemies saw them go into the sky in a cloud. A tremendous shaking followed this, and a tenth of the city [of Sodom and Egypt] toppled. This shaking killed seven-thousand people and frightened all the rest, so they gave glory to the God of heaven.'

So, who will these two witnesses prove to be? While religious groups may speculate and never be found guilty when they're proven to be wrong, that isn't an option for serious Bible researchers. Therefore, we will allow the unraveling of future events to provide the answer.

Undeserved Kindness or Caring?

The Greek word caris is where we derive the English words care and caring. However, Old English Bible translations have rendered caris as grace. And the nuance that grace implies in contemporary English (smooth and flowing) totally distorts the meaning, so we have chosen not to use this word.

Most Bible dictionaries prefer to see caris translated as undeserved kindness. However, this phrase, which may or may not make some minor technical difference in the meaning, adds wordiness, which distracts from the ease of reading. So you will find it translated as care, loving care, caring, or kindness herein, depending on the context.

Unforgivable Sin?

At Matthew 12:32, Jesus said: 'If someone speaks against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven; but if someone speaks against [God's] Holy Breath, he won't be forgiven… no, not in this age or in the one to come.'

What kind of sin is this?

If you look at the surrounding context, you'll see that the local religious leaders had just accused Jesus of using BeElZebub's power to do his wonderful deeds of healing the sick and lame, and throwing out demons. However, despite the fact that they had just witnessed things that could only have come from the power of God's Breath, they were attributing these miracles to the Slanderer (Devil). And that was in fact, blaspheming the Breath of God. Therefore, Jesus was telling them that if they didn't repent, they would be found guilty of a sin that would never be forgiven.

So what we learn from Jesus' warning is that we should never be too quick to assume that what appear to be miracles are being performed by the powers of the evil one.

Vision of DaniEl Chapter Eight

In the Eighth Chapter of Daniel, the account tells us that during the reign of BelShazzar the king of Babylon, DaniEl had a vision of a two-horned ram. It was explained to him that this animal represented the empire of the Medes and Persians. Of course, the second (larger) of the two horns obviously represented the kingdom of the Persians, which thereafter became dominant.

Also, as the prophecy explains; the male goat that destroys the kingdom of Persia is the Greeks (gr. Hellenes, or People of the Sun), and after its large horn (Alexander the Great, who died young) was broken, his empire was to be divided among the four horns that arose (his four generals). Then from this same animal, another, greater horn arises, which is the Greek-influenced Empire of Rome, probably starting with Julius Caesar. Thereafter, the rest of this prophecy has to do with the coming of Jesus (the commander-in-chief), his mistreatment and death, and the 'last days' leading up to the destruction of JeruSalem.

Notice that we have deviated from the words of most common Septuagint translations in verse eleven and used what another version of the Septuagint has to say, since it more closely reflects the prophecy in Daniel that Jesus appears to have been quoting in the 24th Chapter of Matthew.

As for the two thousand, three hundred evenings and mornings that are spoken of there and what they signify; this seems to refer to how long the Temple and the City of JeruSalem would lie desolate after their destruction. So, what does this mean? Well, there have been a lot of theories. For example:
* One religious group says that the period is speaking of just 1,150 days (1,150 mornings and 1,150 evenings, so half as many days). Then they count 1,150 years (using the Bible rule of 'a day for a year') from the year of the Temple's first destruction, which they say ended in 544-CE, when they claim the last vestiges of true Christianity were wiped from the earth.
* Another religious group teaches that the prophecy was talking about literal days and a modern fulfillment. For they say it was a period of six-and-a-third years that led to and through World War II.

What's wrong with these theories? Well, it seems strange that God would give DaniEl prophecies that could only be understood by small groups of religious elite, and which were so vague in their interpretation that they could only be understood long after they happened. For isn't the purpose of prophecies to explain to the people who are affected the reason why God has allowed or brought such events? And shouldn't Bible prophecies be more important than that?

So, what could this prophecy have been foretelling? If we can assume this to be a period of 2,300 years (not days) that started with JeruSalem's destruction in 70-CE (which is what the prophecy seems to be foretelling), it would have to end in the year 2370-CE with the rebuilding of a new Temple (either literal or spiritual). But then, who knows? We'll leave the speculations to religions.

Was Moses Alone on the Mountain With God?

If you were to ask the majority of Christians or Jews this question, most would likely tell us that he was. But that isn't what the Bible account says. It tells us that when Moses ascended Mount Sinai and stayed there for forty days to receive the Ten Commandments, Joshua was there also. However, he wasn't there in the presence of God as Moses was. For notice what we read at Exodus 24:13: 'So [the next day], Moses got up and took his assistant Joshua to climb the mountain of God with him.' Then as Moses was descending the mountain with the stone tablets, Joshua was still there, because Exodus 32:17 tells us: 'And when Joshua heard the voices of people shouting, he said to Moses, That's the sound of a war in the camp!'

Whale or Large Fish?

It is amazing how Bible scholars have labored over the answer to the question of just what type of animal it was that swallowed Jonah. For although it would seem logical that Jonah would have been able to survive inside (perhaps in the lungs) of an air-breathing whale, it is thought that the word used in this account refers to a cold-blooded fish; so, some have concluded that he was in the belly of a large shark or jewfish (which could still be true).

However, the Greek word that the Septuagint uses for this animal is ketos (pronounced kay-toss), which simply means a creature that lives in the water. The problem with modern scientifically-trained people is that they view all things by what they were taught in their schools, and everyone knows that whales and dolphins aren't fish, they are mammals… thus the dilemma.

However in ancient languages, animal types weren't classified as they are today. And although we may have adopted some of their ancient words to categorize them, almost all animals were simply grouped into five different divisions; clean animals, wild animals (game), things that fly, things that creep or crawl, and things that live in the water. So there was no word for mammal in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Therefore, arguing over whether the Bible says that a whale or a shark swallowed Jonah is based on ignorance of the Bible words.

We don't know whether whales live in the Mediterranean Sea; but notice that after he was swallowed, Jonah mentions being in a place where he was surrounded by water, and that the water was sloshing. This doesn't appear to describe the conditions inside the belly of a fish, although God certainly could have provided such a place.

When Men are In Charge of the Earth

At Genesis 1:28, God gave men the following commission: 'Reproduce, multiply, fill the earth and control it. Rule over the fish of the seas, the winged creatures of the skies, all the herding animals of the ground, all the slithering animals that crawl on the ground, and the whole earth.'

However, it appears as though the first humans (Adam and Eve) relinquished their rights to this commission when they sinned and submitted their lives to the Slanderer. For notice what the Slanderer later said to Jesus (as recorded at Luke 4:6): 'I will give you power over all of these [worldly governments] and the glory of them, because they have been given to me and I can give them to whomever I wish.'

So it appears as though our forefathers gave away our commission to rule over the earth and its creatures when they followed the directions of the evil one. However, the Bible tells us that after the Slanderer loses a great war, Jesus and his 'chosen ones' will become kings on the earth, and then the power that the wicked one has over this earth and its creatures will no longer be his, for it will fall back into the hands of faithful mankind. And after that, we can scarcely imagine what powers will be returned to humans when the full commission that God gave to us over this earth and its creatures is restored. With no opposition, and with each man and woman endowed with a full measure of the power of God's Holy Breath, the blessings to this earth and its creatures could be virtually limitless.

Who Was Ochozath?

This person (Ochozath) isn't listed in the Hebrew text, but his name is found in the Septuagint version's description of AbraHam's oath to King AbiMelech (at Genesis 21:22, 32). This unusual extra detail is another of several that gives these translators the opinion that the Greek text may in fact be more accurate that the current Hebrew texts.

Of particular interest is Ochozath's actual relationship with AbiMelech. The Greek word that is used to describe him is nymphagogos, which means 'bride bringer,' and it refers to a close friend who would procure a bride or brides for the king (in this case).

Who Wrote Hebrews?

As with almost every other Bible book, critics are quick to question the authorship of Hebrews. For while the writing of this epistle (letter) has traditionally been attributed to Paul, they claim that the writing style isn't consistent with other writings attributed to Paul. And it's a fact that this letter and its style is quite different from his other letters. For Hebrews doesn't start with the opening greetings, which are traditional to the rest of his epistles. So, did Paul write this book or not?

If you simply look at the closing greetings and salutations, you can see that the letter could only have been written by Paul. For the stated location of the writing, Italy (see Hebrews 13:24), and mention of the safety of Paul's trustworthy traveling companion Timothy (Hebrews 13:23), proves that the writer had to be Paul, 'the Apostle to the nations,' who had been taken to Rome and likely stayed in that area until his death as a martyr.

So, why is the writing style different? For two reasons:

Š It was a strong letter (and probably his last) that was written to the congregation of Christian 'pillars' in JeruSalem (the home of most of the other Apostles), where the congregation had grown spiritually weak (see 5:11-14).

Š Because of his circumstances; Due to his extremely poor eye sight (see the Note, 'Paul's Letters'), Paul clearly had to use his traveling companions (men such as Luke, BarNabas, Titus, Sosthenes, Timothy, and others) to actually do the writing, and they were allowed considerable latitude in the word choices and phrasing.

But regardless of who it was that actually wrote Hebrews (under Paul's direction), it stands out as his most masterful work.

Who Wrote the Book of Judges?

There are some interesting idiosyncrasies in the book of Judges that would lead us to question who actually wrote it. We receive one clue from the words found at Judges 1:21, where we read, 'Nor did the children of BenJamin take JeruSalem from the Jebusites as their inheritance, so the Jebusites still live among the children of BenJamin in JeruSalem to this day.' Then we read at Judges 18:1, 'There was no king over IsraEl back then.' So whoever did the writing must have lived during the time when a king ruled IsraEl, but before the kings started ruling in JeruSalem and/or possibly during the reign of Saul. Therefore, the prophet SamuEl seems to be the likely source.

However, notice the apparent contradiction found at Judges 18:30, where we read, 'And JoNathan (the son of Gerson and grandson of ManasSeh) and his sons became the Priests of the tribe of Dan until the time when the nation was captured and carried away [into captivity].'

These words would then indicate that at least portions of the book were written sometime after IsraEl's conquest by the Assyrians, and possibly as late 6th Century BCE. So, how do we resolve those differences?

We can see from the context that the book of Judges was written close to the time of the Judges (perhaps by SamuEl), then it appears as though a later copyist (perhaps Ezra) added the comment at Judges 18:30. And since this comment is found both in the Hebrew and Greek texts, we know that it had to have been written sometime before the 3rd Century BCE. And notice that the surrounding books of Joshua and Ruth are clearly just a continuation of the same writing, for where one leaves off the next begins. So it seems as though these other Bible books date to the same periods.

Why Were IsraEl's Leaders Afraid of Dying?

The question that was asked by the leaders of IsraEl at Numbers 17:12, 13 is often misunderstood. They asked, 'Now, are we going to be cut off, destroyed, and consumed? Since everyone who touches the Tent of Jehovah dies, so are we now going to be totally destroyed?'

Notice that they asked this question just after their walking sticks had been placed before the Chest of Proofs and Aaron's walking stick was chosen by God. And as the result, it is easy to conclude that they considered themselves worthy of death for touching the sticks. However, what the Law forbade was their touching the Sacred Tent, which is what they had previously done. For Numbers 16:42 tells us: 'Then a mob gathered against Moses and Aaron, and they foolishly ran into the Tent of Proofs.'

So, because a plague came upon the whole camp as the result of their actions, these leaders must have recognized their guilt and worthiness of death for touching God's Holy Tent.

Wild Animals of DaniEl Seven

Daniel Chapter Seven describes four of the great world powers that would rule the then-known world before they are all replaced by God's Kingdom. And the reason why only these world powers are mentioned is made clear at DaniEl 7:18, where we read: 'They will [each] take to themselves the kingdom of the holy ones of the Most High, and they will control it though the ages and into the ages of ages.' So as you can see, what makes them so important is their special dealings with 'the kingdom of the holy ones of the Most High.'

Note how, in Daniel Chapter Seven, these world powers that dominated IsraEl (Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome) are pictured as wild animals:
Š The empire of Babylon (especially under King NebuChadNezzar, who was humbled by God) was depicted as a female lion that had wings, but lost her wings and was given the feet and heart of a man.
Š The empire of the Medes and Persians was depicted as a bear that had three ribs sticking out its mouth, likely picturing their conquests of Babylon, Asia Minor, and Egypt.
Š The third wild animal that looked like a leopard and had four wings and four heads pictured the fast-moving empire of the Greek king, Alexander the Great, followed by the rule of his four generals who divided the kingdom after his death.
Š The fourth wild animal that was so large and unusual was obviously Rome, which was a new form of government that crushed and devoured the then known world. Its ten horns likely picture the many governments that sprang from it, including France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and others; but the little horn that grew and pushed out three of the other horns likely pictures the empire of Great Britain (including its former colonies) that 'pushed' the other major powers (such as France, Spain, and the Netherlands) out of their prominent colonial positions.

Wild Animals of Revelation

The 'wild animals' of Revelation appear to picture human governments in 'the Lord's Day.' As proof of this, notice what Revelation 17:10-12 says: 'And there are seven kings. Five have fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece), one is (Rome), and the other (England and/or the United States?) hasn't arrived yet. But when he gets here, he will only be allowed to stay for a little while. However, the wild animal that was but isn't is an eighth king that comes from the seven, and it goes off into destruction.'

So there are three different government types mentioned in the Revelation. They include:
1. The seven-headed ten-horned wild animal than comes 'out of the sea' (Revelation 13:1). The 7 heads and 10 horns (since the numbers 7 and 10 indicate 'completeness' in prophecy) appear to represent a composite of all worldly governments that are under the control of the Slanderer and his messengers.
2. The two-horned wild animal that comes 'out of the earth' (Revelation 13:11 – also identified as 'the False Prophet' at Revelation 16:13) appears to be the last world power, and the two horns seem to indicate that it is a combination of two countries.
3. The 'image' of the wild animal is described as, 'the wild animal that was but isn't, is an eighth king that comes from the seven' (Revelation 17:8.). This could depict the League of Nations (that once 'was'), but then went out of existence during WWII (when it 'wasn't'), and was thereafter revived as the United Nations. Notice that the Bible describes this wild animal as 'an eighth king,' and that it's end will come at the battle of 'Armageddon.'

So, what is 'the mark of the wild animal' that condemns those who have it? It doesn't appear to be a literal mark, but rather, it seems to refer to the support that people give to these 'animalistic' worldly governments. For more information, see the linked document, 'The Mark of the Beast.'

Woman and Her Seed

One of the marvels of the Revelation is that this last written book ties into and explains the Bible's first prophecy. For notice that what is written at Revelation Chapter Twelve about the 'woman' and her 'seed,' and the 'dragon' and his 'seed' provides a thrilling conclusion to a Bible 'mystery' (gr. mysterion) that was first mentioned thousands of years before John did his writing, and which is described at Romans 16:25 as being, 'the mystery that has remained a secret through the ages.'

You can see that what the prophecy the Revelation is explaining here is the one that is found at Genesis 3:15, where God said to the Snake (the Slanderer) in the Garden, 'I'm going to create hatred between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. So he will watch for your head, and you will watch for his heel.' So in the Revelation, we find the four characters of Genesis 3:15 finally identified as:
Š The 'snake' (or dragon), who is the Slanderer
Š The Slanderer's 'seed,' who are (in part) the Slanderer's messengers
Š The 'woman' who gives birth to the seed and thus appears to be God's faithful heavenly organization (the 'JeruSalem Above')
Š The 'woman's seed,' who appears to be God's entire Kingdom arrangement – Jesus and his 'chosen ones.'

For more information, see the linked document, 'The Seed – God's Kingdom.'

Women Not Allowed to Speak?

The words that start in the middle of 1 Corinthians 14:33 and run through verse 35 may well be spurious additions to the Bible, for they say: 'And as [is true] in all the congregations of Holy Ones; the women should remain silent in the congregation. They shouldn't be allowed to speak out. Rather (as the Law says), they should be submissive. And if they wish to know something, let them ask their husbands [when they get] home, for it's disgraceful for a woman to speak out in a congregation.'

The reasons why we question the authenticity of these words are:
1. There is no such injunction in the Law of Moses. And it would simply be out of character for Paul, who went to such lengths to tell Christians that they were not under the Law, to quote the Law as something that they should obey, and then cite the Law as saying something that it doesn't say.
2. These words are not found in the same location in ancient texts of this book, which gives scholars the impression that they may have been just the added marginal notes of someone with a strong opinion on this matter.
3. The injunction flies in the face of God's use of women in outstanding and prominent positions, such as judges of IsraEl and as Prophets.

Also, because the words of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 seem to reflect the same type of bias and because they simply appear to be out of place and inconsistent with Paul's previous words, we question their authenticity. However, we have left all the words in place for readers to judge for themselves.

On the other hand, the words at Colossians 3:18 ('Women; Always obey your men, since this is proper [for those who are] in the Lord.') seem to be in line with other scriptures and authentic.

Won't Love Their Families

The Greek word that Paul used at 2 Timothy 3:3, which we have translated as, 'They won't have any natural (family) love,' is astorge (pronounced ah/stor/gay). Note that this is one of only two places where you will find this term used in the Scriptures. The prefix a, when starting a Greek word, often means without (a can also be used to add weight to the rest of the word), and storge means natural or family love.

How well Paul's words serve as a prophecy our times, when incest and other forms of parental child abuse have become so rampant.

Word of Judgment

The term, Word of Judgment (gr. logeion ton kriseon) is how the Greek text describes the special jeweled covering of gold cloth that the IsraElite High Priest was to wear over his chest whenever he served in his official capacity. It had twelve different types of gems, each of which had the name of one of the sons of Jacob (or IsraEl) engraved upon it. We find it interesting that the names were to be those of the Sons of IsraEl rather than the names of the twelve tribes, which means that the name 'JoSeph' would supplant the names of his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, and the Priestly tribe of Levi would have had its own stone.

Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth

What did Jesus mean when he told the Samaritan woman at the well (at John 4:24), 'For God is spirit, so those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth?'

To get the significance of what he was saying, it's best to look at the context. For you will see that she had just said to him (in verse 20): 'Our ancestors worshiped here on this mountain, but you people say that JeruSalem is where we should worship.'

And Jesus then told her (verse 21): 'Believe me, woman; The time is coming when you won't worship the Father on this mountain or in JeruSalem!'

So he was saying that the old form of worshiping God in designated places (such as at the Temple in JeruSalem) would soon end. And this was the setting for his words that followed (in verses 23, 24), where he said: 'The time is coming (and it's now), when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth… because the Father is searching for people like this to worship Him. For God is spirit, so those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.'

Notice that in Greek, verse 24 reads: 'Ļνευμα ο θεος και τους Ļροσκυνουντας αυτον εν Ļνευματι και αληθεια δει Ļροσκυνειν,' or, 'breath is/the God and those bowing/before him in breath and truth need him/worship.'

So, what did Jesus mean when he spoke of worshiping God in spirit (Ļνευμα pneuma – as in breath or wind)?

To arrive at the best meaning in this case, you have to think like ancient peoples who didn't have the benefit of our modern scientific discoveries; for to them, pneuma referred to the movement of air (as in wind or breath), which was a mysterious unseen power. And when Jesus spoke of God as being pneuma, he was simply saying that He is an unseen force. Then he went on (in John 4) to say that since God is an unseen force, such tangible things as temples were no longer necessary; so God would thereafter be worshiped in unseen ways, without the need of tangible aids.

But what about truth (as in spirit and truth)? Perhaps the best definition of what Jesus was saying can be found in his own words. For Jesus said (as recorded at John 17:17): 'Your Word is the truth.' And Paul wrote at Ephesians 6:17, 18: 'Also, accept the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, God's Word.'

So we can see from those scriptures that truth can be found in God's word (the Bible), which is the sword of God's Breath (or Spirit). And the conclusion that could be logically reached is that Jesus (in John 4) was telling the woman that the arrangement for worshiping God must be based on a personal relationship with Him and on a study of God's Word. And if this is the correct understanding, then perhaps many people have gotten it all wrong. For more information, see the linked document, 'What Is Truth?'

Zeal

At Psalm 37:8 we read in part: 'Don't let jealousy move you to do wicked things.' However, notice that the Greek word we've translated as jealously here is zelos, which is the same as the word zealous in English. And this points up the fact that both English words (zealous and jealous) come from the same Greek root word and they both have the same meaning in the Bible.

Of course in English, these two words have very different meanings. For zeal is usually thought of as something good… something that all Christians should have (as in zeal for God and righteousness), while jealously is thought of as something that's bad (as wanting things that belong to someone else).

But notice that God is spoken of in the Bible as being jealous… as over His Name or His position as God. So jealously isn't always a bad thing, if we understand that it can imply the same thing as zeal. So we can have zeal for things that are ours and of which we are proud (not a bad thing), or zeal for things that belong to others (which is bad). So the same Greek word (zelos) may be correctly translated as zeal in one place, and as jealously in another, depending on the context.

Then, is it proper for a man to be jealous of his wife, or for a wife to be jealous of her husband? No, they should never be jealous of each other, but rather, for each other. They shouldn't want what the other has, but they should have a burning zeal for each other, because they belong to each other. So when one doesn't want to lose the love of the other; that is zeal. However, if a person is overly concerned over the actions of the other for no reason, that is wicked suspicion, not jealously.

Home Page