The Question Box

Do you have a question about anything in the Bible?  Ask it at the The Question Box

Our Evangelist or a former Elder of our congregation will try their best to answer
your question by looking to the scriptures.

Not all questions have answers.  Some will have to wait until we meet God in heaven. 

Through questions comes learning -- for the one asking and the one answering.

Search Through Our Questions and Answers

Search Through Our Questions and Answers

Search Through Our Questions and Answers

Question:
10/20/2017
How many heavens are there?
Answer:

If one gets his concordance and looks up the term “heaven,” he is in for a surprise at how many ways the word is used in the Bible. 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), thus making up the universe.  The sun, moon, and stars are in the heavens.  We call them heavenly bodies.  Heaven is God’s throne, and the earth is his footstool (Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:49).  Some of the water for the flood came through the windows of heaven (Gen. 7:11).  In the days of Elisha, the skeptical official said of the prediction of prices after the famine, that if God opened windows in heaven, the abundance would not be possible (2 Kings 7:2).  The prophet Malachi promises that with the payment of the tithe, God would open the windows of heaven and pour fourth a blessing (Mal 3:10).  Manna in the desert on which Israel lived is “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4; Ps 78:24).  Dew is “dew of heaven” (Gen. 27:28).  Rain comes down from heaven (Gen 8:2).  Thunder is in heaven (1 Sam 2:10).  Scavenger birds are spoken of as birds of heavens (2 Sam. 21:10; Jer 4:25 ASV).  Elijah went to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11).

Jesus is the incarnation came down from heaven (Eph 4:10), and following his resurrection he ascended into heaven.  The men in white promised he would come as he was seen going (Acts 1:10-11).  Heaven is always spoken of as “up.”

Scripture evidently specifies three heavens, since “the third heaven” is    revealed to exists (2 Corinthians 12:2), and it is logical that a third heaven cannot exist without a first and a second heaven.  The Bible though does not set off a list of three heavens.

According to the Jewish notion there were three heavens:
1) The firmament, as “fowls of the heaven” (Gen. 2:19; 7:3, 23; Ps. 8:8).
2) The Starry heavens (Deut. 17:3; Jer. 8:2; Mt. 24:29).
3) The heaven of heavens or “the third heaven” (Deut. 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 115:16; 148:4; 2 Cor. 12:2).

In heaven the blessedness of the righteous consist in the possession of  “life everlasting,” “an eternal weight of glory” (1 Cor. 4:17), an exemption from all sufferings forever, a deliverance from all evils (2 Cor. 5:1, 2) and from the society of the wicked (2 Tim 4:18), bliss without termination, the “fullness of joy” for ever (Lk. 20:36; 2 Cor. 4:16, 18; 1 Pet. 1:4; 5:10; 1 Jn. 3:2).  The believer’s heaven is not only a state of everlasting blessedness, but also a “place prepared” for them (Jn. 14:2, 2 Cor. 12:2).

[Sources: Basic Beliefs, Jack P. Lewis; Easton’s Bible Dictionary; The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary}

Evangelist at Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
6/2/2016

What is a Liberal Church of Christ?

Answer:

When thinking how to answer this, I go to three scriptures. Ecclesiastes 3:14, Deuteronomy 4:2, and Revelations 22: 18 -19.

These scriptures say to NOT ADD or TAKE away from what is written in the scriptures.

Examples of this that today some of the churches are ADDING instrumental instruments in to the worship. Colossians 3:16 says to sing and make melody from your heat. There are only two types of music, instrumental and vocal. Vocal is what taught in the New  Testament. There is no place in the New Testament authorizing instruments. 

There are some churches that do not support taking care of widows and orphans from the general fund of the congregation. We are not told how to support them, just that we need to do it.

The important thing is to search the scriptures to see if what is being done is according to what is in the bible. 

I hope this helps you in answering your question. If you need more please ask us.

In Christ,

Bert Christensen
Former Elder at Plymouth Church of Christ 

Question:
11/2/2015
Did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament and if so what scriptures support this?
Answer:

I have taken this answer from two sources, the New Unger Bible Dictionary, and the Holman Bible Dictionary.  I hope this answers your question. 

Origin

Marriage is a divine institution designed to form a permanent union between man and woman that they might be helpful to one another (Genesis 2:18 ). Moses presents it as the deepest corporeal and spiritual unity of man and woman, and monogamy as the form of marriage ordained by God ( 2:24; cf. Matthew 19:5 ). Without the marital tie the inhabitants of this world would have been a mixed multitude. The family circle, family instruction, and parental love and care would have been altogether unknown.

At an early period the original law, as made known to Adam, was violated through the degeneracy of his descendants, and concubinage and polygamy became common. The patriarchs themselves took more than one wife. Abraham, at the instigation of Sarah, took her maid as his subordinate wife. Jacob was tricked, through the duplicity of Laban, into taking Leah first, and then Rachel, to whom he had been betrothed. Afterward, through the rivalry of the sisters, he took both their handmaids. From these facts it has been inferred that polygamy was not wrong in ancient times, nor at all opposed to the divine law as revealed to the Jews. But this is an unwarranted conclusion. It is indeed true (respect being had to the state of religious knowledge, the rude condition of society, and the views prevalent in the world) that the practice could not infer, in the case of individuals, the same amount of criminality as would necessarily adhere to it now, amid the clear light of gospel times. But still, all along it was a departure from the divine law.

For the reasons given above it was tolerated but never with God’s approval. Jesus told the Jews, “Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way” (Matthew 19:3-8 ). The Mosaic law aimed at mitigating, rather than removing, evils that were inseparable from the state of society in that day. Its enactments were directed to the discouragement of polygamy; to prevent the injustice frequently consequent upon the exercise of the rights of a father or a master; to bring divorce under some restriction; and to enforce purity of life during the maintenance of the matrimonial bond. (New Unger’s Bible Dictionary)

The biblical standard for marriage is a monogamous relationship in which a man and a woman share a lifetime commitment to each other, second only to their commitment to God . It is an unconditional, lifetime commitment. Jesus emphasized God’s intention that marriage be a lifetime commitment (Mark 10:5-9 ; Matt. 19:4-9 ). He affirmed this as the principle of marriage inherent in divine creation (Gen. 2:24 ). Paul cited this key principle to show the sinfulness of sexual relations outside marriage (1 Cor. 6:12-20 ) and to emphasize the importance of self-giving love in marriage (Eph. 5:28 ). Genesis 2:24 emphasizes the oneness of the marriage relationship and the priority of the relationship over all others, including the relationship of the couple to their parents. Marriage is also for companionship (Gen. 2:18-23 ). Paul described the kind of mutual submission that should characterize the marriage relationship (Eph. 5:21-33 ). Although the husband is head of the home, his role is modeled after the role of Christ as Head of the church , who “loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25 ).  (Holman Bible Dictionary)

 
Evangelist at Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
9/29/2015
What was Balaam prophesying regarding the Israelites in Numbers 23:8-10 and Numbers 23:20-24 and Numbers 24:5-9 and Numbers 24:17-24?
Answer:
Balaam spoke four oracles about Israel and three oracles about the nations.  The text makes clear that God had put the words into Balaam's mouth (23:5, 12, 16, 17, 26; 24:2, 13, 16).  One thing should be understood about these God-given oracles.  Each takes up one of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant and confirms it.  The first oracle (23:7-10), stressing that God has not cursed Israel, confirms that Israel will be like the dust of the earth.  Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? (23:10).  The second oracle (23:18-24), stressing that God cannot change his promise, confirms that God is present among his people (a clear reference to the promise of a relationship with God).  The LORD their God is with them (23:21).  The third oracle (24:3-9), a vision from the Almighty, the name by which God appeared to Abraham, confirms that Israel will inherit the land promised (24:5, 6).  The predicted defeat of Agag, the Amalekite king shows that Canaan is in mind here (see 1 Samuel 15:8).  Finally, the prediction that Israel would devour hostile nations (24:8) fulfill the promise that they would possess their enemies' cities (Genesis 22:17).  That the Abrahamic covenant is in mind is further indicated by the last words of verse 9, May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse  you  be cursed! (cf. Genesis 12:3).
 
The fourth oracles is perhaps the most remarkable (24:15-19).  It is an oracle from the Most High (24:16), by whom Melchizedek blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:18-20).  Melchizedek is himself associated with Christ Jesus in the New Testament (Hebrews 7:1-7; see Psalm 110:4).  This oracles promises a king in the distant future who will defeat Israel's enemies (17-19).  He will crush the foreheads of Moab (17) seems to anticipate David's victories (2 Samuel 8:2).  However, the promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18), with the rest of Scripture, teaches us to see in the promise of David's throne, the promise of the Messiah whom the Gentiles will obey (Genesis 49:10).  Thus, Balaam confirmed God's promises to Abraham.
 
Balak grew more angry as Balaam proceeded through his oracles, but the prophet could not help himself.  He was compelled to bless Israel.  Afterwards, unbidden, he went on to prophesy the future of other peoples: Amalek (20), the Kenites (21-22), Asshur and Eber (24).  The Amalekites, Israel's fierce enemies, were destroyed in Hezekiah's time (1 Chronicles 4:43).  Some of the Kenites were with Israel, but Canaan was their land and they are the first nation named in the list of those to be dispossessed (Genesis 15:19).  Assur usually means Assyria.  Eber usually refers to Babylon and Kittim (i.e. Greece).  If so, Balaam was looking far into the future of Israel's history.

The Philistines were a part of the "sea people" movement.  The Sea People were people of Greek descendants.  The prophecy about the defeat of Kittim would include the Philistines as well.

 
I hope this small history is of help to you as you seek the Lord's counsel in all that you do and say.
 
Have a blessed Day!
Evangelist at Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
8/31/2015
I have a linguistic question for which common people don't have an answer, maybe Christians like you do.  English is the fusion of Germanic Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and Old French (Romance language) brought by Normans in 1066. Thus, many pair words are common in modern English.  The suffix "-ity" is used to denote state, quality or condition; hence Christianity is to mean both being a Christians and Christians as a whole, which has a Germanic counterpart in Christendom.  The suffix "-ism" is used to denote, among several others, doctrine, beliefs or dogmas. In this meaning all religions take the suffix "-ism" even the Christian branches and denominations.  Being that so, why are Americans using the etymologically wrong "Christianity" to name the Christian religion? In view of Protestantism, Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, etc., it doesn't seem consistent.  The word "Christianity" comes from the Anglo-Norman "Cristiente" with the meaning of Christian world, i.e., Christendom.  Critics of fundamentalist Christians such as the blogger Sullivan dub them "Christianists" as counterpart for "Islamists". However, the minted word for their beliefs pejoratively "Christianism" is a grave error:1. The word exists already in English with the correct meaning of Christian religion as stated in prestigious dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster and the popular The Free Dictionary on-line.2. As the doctrine comes from the believers and not conversely, such doctrine should be called "Christianistism" for the sake of observing the grammatical rules. It seems that the mania to shorten words up to the maiming is too strong in the USA, or Americans are willing to follow whoever becomes popular.  I would appreciate your answer, especially if you could tell me when, why and by whom this grammatical nonsense of using Christianity instead of Christianism started. Shalom
Answer:

Noun: Christianity

Definition: T
he religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices. Christian quality or character. "his Christianity sustained him"

Origin: Old French – crestien (Christian)------- Old French crestiente (Christianity)

Latin – Christus (Christ)--------- Latin – Christianus (Christian)------ Late Latin christianitas (Christianity)

The word Christianity comes out of Middle English: from Old French crestiente, influenced by late Latin christianitas, from Latin Christianus, from Christus “Christ.”

So the origin of the word Christianity predates the modern English you wish to apply to it.  English is filled with words that predate the modern English, some have been changed to others such as stewardess to flight attendant in an effort to make it politically correct.  But some words like Christianity have remained the same avoiding the cultural movement to modernize words into things that our culture wishes to see. Give it 100 years and that culture will wish to change it to something else.

Hope this helps to explain the etymology of the word Christianity.

Evangelist at Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
3/28/2015
Explain Acts 3:16
Answer:

16And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.    (NKJV – Acts 3:16)

 By the preceding announcement Peter only in part introduced the theme of his discourse.  He advanced as far as the resurrection, but he stopped short of the whole truth concerning the glorification of Jesus.  He now completes his introduction, and at the same time demonstrates the reality of the resurrection and glorification of Jesus by adding verse 16 (above).  Here is one of those repetitions common with extemporaneous speakers, intended to give greater emphasis to the principal thought, and at the same time to guard against a probable misunderstanding.  Lest the peculiar use made of the name of Jesus should lead some of the excited multitude to think that there was some charm in the mere name, a mistake into which certain Jews in Ephesus afterward fell (Acts 19:13-17).  Peter is particular to say that it was by faith in his name that the miracle had been wrought.  We must notice, too, that the faith which had effected the cure was not that of the cripple; for it is evident from the account of the cure (vss. 4-8) that previous to it he had no faith at all. When Peter said to him, “Look on us,” the man looked up expecting to receive alms. And even when Peter told him in the name of Jesus Christ to walk, he made no attempt to move until Peter took him by the hand and lifted him up.  He showed no faith either in Jesus, or in the healing power of the apostles, until he found himself able to stand and walk.  The faith, then, was that of Peter; and this accords with what we learn in the Gospels, that the working of a miracle by those possessed of spiritual gifts was always dependent on their faith.  Peter was empowered to walk on the water; but when his faith wavered he began to sink, and Jesus said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When nine of the apostles on a memorable occasion, tried to cast out a demon, and failed, Jesus explained the failure by saying it was because of their little faith (Mt. 17:20). It was only the “prayer of faith” which could heal the sick (James 5:15).

 We should also note the Jesus centric teaching of Peter and John, for them the preaching of Christ was much more important then the miracle.  Without Jesus this miracle would never have happened. Peter says this in verse 12, “ 12So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” They did not want any credit for the healing – all miracles have there beginning and end with God.  The apostles were also promised such power in Mark 16:17 – but it was to be used only in the spreading of the gospel and not for personal gain.  So Peter wanted all to know that it is only because of Jesus that this happened and that when Jesus heals one, he becomes perfectly healed.  Peter is therefore encouraging the people to examine their faith in Jesus Christ and not their faith in Peter and John.  When Peter is sure that the People know that this miracle is because of Jesus, he continues his sermon on Jesus and salvation in His name.

 I hope these thoughts have helped.

Evangelist at Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
3/26/2015
I do not understand Genesis 36:6 to 8 Jacob was never live with his brother matter facts he depart from him because Esau want to kill him, will you explain was this verse say that; 6 Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the presence of his brother Jacob. 7 For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could not support them because of their livestock. 8 So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom. The New King James Version. (1982). (Genesis  36:6–8).
Answer:

Genesis 36:1-8

6Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the presence of his brother Jacob. 7For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could not support them because of their livestock. 8So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom.

Summary of Gen. 36:1-37:1

Genesis alternates accounts of the non-elect patriarchs, Ishmael and Esau, with accounts of the chosen line – Terah and Abraham (chapters 12-25), Isaac (chapters 25-35) and Jacob (chapters 37-50).  As in Ishmael’s case, the account of Esau does not contain much apart from genealogical information (vs. 1-8 with 25:12-18).

The opening summary of Esau’s career notes that, like Lot, he migrated out of Canaan for economic reasons (6-8; 13:5-12).

Analogy with 25:12-18 leads us to expect a short summary of Esau’s family, but instead we find a second title in v 9, followed by a list of his sons (10-14), chiefs descended from him (15-19), sons of Seir (20-28), Horite chiefs (29-30) Edominte Kings (31-39) and more chiefs (40-43).  There is much overlap between the lists; many of the names appear in more than one list.  C. Westermann in his commentary on Genesis 12-36, put out in 1986, has suggested that perhaps these lists in vs 10-43 were derived from Edomite archives which were brought to Jerusalem after David conquered Edom (2 Samuel 8:13-14).  This is speculative, but it could account for the reduplications apparent in this chapter.

Once again, this section shows how the promises were being fulfilled.  Esau’s migration left Canaan to Jacob (37:1).  Rebekah had been told that two nations were in her womb and that ‘the older will serve the younger’ (25:23).  The emergence of Edom as a kingdom, recorded here, and its later subjection to Israel fulfilled these ancient predictions.  If these relatively minor predictions came true, how much more certain is the fulfillment of the central promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Now specifically to the text you mentioned:  (vss 6-8) The sentence that was left incomplete in Genesis 36:2 is now resumed and completed.  His departure from Kenaan is ascribed to the abounding wealth of himself and his brother.  What remained in the hands of Isaac was virtually Jacob’s, though he had not yet entered into formal possession of it.  Esau was without any certain prospect of a Settlement in Canaan.  The design of this historical sketch of Esau and his family is to show how the promise (27:39, 40) was fulfilled.  In temporal prosperity he far exceeds his brother; and it is remarkable that, in the overruling providence of God, the vast increase of his worldly substance was the occasion of his leaving Canaan and thus making way for the return of Jacob.  Mount Seir was Esau’s divinely assigned place of possession (Deut. 2:5; Joshua 24:4).

Esau had three wives: Adah, Oholibamah, and Basemath.  Since two of the wives names are not the same as listed earlier (26:34, 28:9), either the others had died or he favored these three among his six or the two took different names.

Oholibamah was a great-grand-daughter of Seir the Horite, whose descendants were living in Edom when Esau went there (36:20, 25).  From these three wives Esau had five sons.

The narrative stresses two elements.  First, Esau’s sons were born in the land Canaan, v. 5) before he moved to Seir (v. 8) This contrasts sharply with Jacob, whose children were born out of the land, and who then moved into the land.  Second, Esau was Edom.  In fact all through the chapter the reader is reminded of this.  Certainly Israel would understand the import of this because she often struggled with the Edomites, Esau’s descendants (Gen. 36:43).

The wording in verse 7 is striking. One thinks of Lot: the land was not able to bear both of them because their herds were so great (13:8-12).  Esau, like Lot, left for the East and greener land (13:8-12).

I hope these few notes help explain these verses.

Evangelist at Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
8/10/2014
What does the Bible say about rape and how do you pray or what do you say to the victim and to her spouse?
Answer:
I could not find the word "rape" in the bible, but it is a violation of one's body that should not be. If you read Exodus 20:14,Deuteronomy 5:18, and Proverbs 6:32 they each say do not commit "Adultery". Sex between a married couple is okay, but anything else is against God's word. Consensual Adultery is still not permitted my God. The taking by force we know it as "rape" is not consensual sex.
 
Read Galatians chapter 5 verse 19. You will see these things God does not approve of, and I am sure rape is in there some where.
 
Pray for her healing, that she will be able to over come the horror of the act. The spouse is also effected by the violation of his spouse. Pray for him to under stand what happened, that he will continue to support his wife in her healing.
 
What to say? Sometimes the best word is silence. Just be there to support the couple, don't remind them of the violation, they may give you and idea of help they may need.
 
I hope this helps you with your question.

Bert Christensen
Plymouth Church of Christ

Question:
3/18/2014
Which is the right church according to the Bible? Can Women preach the word of God? Use of Instrumentation in Church?
Answer:
Thank you very much for your question.
 
All three are good questions, and I will answer as best I can.
 
Number 1 is really not complicated.  In the New Testament, Jesus talks about His church. If you practice the teaching in the New Testament, as it is written, then you have the right church.  Why are there so many churches or denominations?  Men interpret the Bible how they want to instead of following what the New Testament teaches.  Visit churches and compare them to what the New Testament teaches.  They will all be different and will teach or leave out things the Bible says you should do.  I have been in different denominations and have compared them to the Bible.  For me the Church of Christ follows the New Testament teaching closer then any other church.  In my studies for me personally, the Church of Christ follows the New Testament the closest.
 
Number 2 I need for you to read some scripture to find the answer here.  First Timothy chapter 2 verses 10,11, and 12. Also First Corinthians chapter 14 verse 34.  In these verses you will find that women are to be silent in the church, meaning the worship hour.  They are not to preach, teach at that time in a class room they can speak.  Women teach other women only when there is only women.
 
Number 3 You found our church website to ask these questions.  There are only two kinds of music.  Instrumental and vocal.  We are taught so sing and make melody from our hearts.

Please go back to website www.plymouth-church.com.  Click on MP3 sermons.  When that comes select "Brackett, Ron" for the preacher, "2012" for the Years, and check the "Bible Classes Only".  There are four fine lessons on music in the church.  I think you will find that there is no authorization for instruments in church worship.

 
Thank you again for using our website.  I hope that my answers have helped you.
 
Bert Christensen
Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
3/10/2014
Where did the different language start?  Is it in Genesis 10:5?
Answer:
It does seem like this is the time that all of the languages start, but this record is about when the people spread to different parts of the land. This of course is recorded in chapter 10, and gives the descendants of Noah.
 
Lets look at Genesis chapter 11 1-9.
 
This is where the people were trying to build a tower to heaven which God forbid. Verse 8 Tells where God scattered the people over the lands. The tower God named "Babel", and this is when God confused the language of all the earth.
 
I hope this have been a help for you, and please excuse the time it took to answer you.
 
Bert Christensen for the Plymouth church of Christ
Question:
11/15/2013
Can a deacon or a bishop served in the church being single?
Answer:
Deacons.   If you read  I Timothy chapter 3 verses 8-13, You will find the qualifications of the deacons. Verse 12 says, "Let Deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well". You see from this that a single person cannot be a deacon. They have to be married and have at least one child.

Now Bishops. Read I Timothy chapter 3 verses 1-7, then Titus chapter 1 verses 6--9 you find the qualifications of bishops or elders. Both names refer to being Elders in the church.
 
What you find in these passages about Bishops or Elders is that they must be married of one wife, having faithful children. Having faithful children means that the children believe in God that Jesus is the Son of God. Faithful children have been baptized in or immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins. Bishops are older then Deacons generally.
 
To learn more, go to our web site and click on the "Question Box", click on the "Search Through Our Questions and Answers". At the top left corner type in "deacons", then click search. there you find 7 different answers about Deacons and Elders or Bishops.

This will help you further in you knowledge of Deacons and Bishops.
 
Again let me thank you for visiting our web site.
 
Sincerely,

Former Elder
Bert Christensen
Question:
6/22/2013
In regards to the Ichthus (fish symbol) does it matter if it is displayed "head" first or "tail" first?
Answer:
Thank you for your question.
 
I have only seen the Ichthus "swimming" to the left or the head to the left. The paragraph below was sent to me from a close friend that I think explains it very well.
 
The most meaningful orientation is probably to have the fish swimming to the left.  The symbol then resembles the first letter of the Greek alphabet, alpha. That recalls Revelation 1:8 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Thank you for your question, and I hope this has helped you.

 
Plymouth Church of Christ
 
Former Elder
Bert Christensen
Question:
5/6/2013
What does kainos mean?
Answer:
KAINOS is a Greek word and it denotes new, of that which is unaccustomed or unused, not new in time, recent, but new as to form or quality, of different nature from what is contested as old. (Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words.)

Examples: a new covenant, Mt. 26:28; a new creation, 2 Cor. 5:17; a new man Eph. 4:24; a new name, Rev. 2:17; a new heaven and a new earth, Rev. 21:1; the new Jerusalem, Rev. 3:12; I make all things new, Rev. 21:5.

Hope this helps.
Evangelist at Plymouth Church of Christ
Question:
4/14/2013
On what day of the week did Jesus die?
Answer: Point One: Jesus died at 3 PM and was buried on the preparation day (the day be fore the Sabbath) before sunset, which would begin the Sabbath (Luke 23:54). Luke 23:54 tell us that the women prepared spices and ointments; and then rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Then In Luke 24:1 we read that upon the first day of the Week (Sunday), very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices, which they had prepared, and certain others with them. In Mark 16:1 we read, And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, has brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. Mark 16:2 says, And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.

The Friday preparation day is mentioned in Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, Luke 23:54, John 19:14, 19:31 and 19:42. It is worth noting that “paraskeue” is used to define the day before the seventh-day Sabbath, to prepare food (Exodus 16:5) for the Sabbath, but not the day preceding a non-seventh-day festival Sabbath. The term always means what we call Friday, in both scriptural and non-scriptural usage.

Point Two: The seventh-day Sabbath was the day after the crucifixion, and we know this because the women rested on that day. Therefore the crucifixion had to have occurred on a Friday.

Point Three: Jesus was resurrected on the third day after His death and burial, not after three literal days.

What was the third day according to Scripture? Luke 24:1 “Now upon the first day of the week very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”

Luke 24:7 “Saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise a gain.”

Luke 24:21 “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”

This passage makes it plain that on Sunday the first day of the week v. 1, the two angels at the tomb said He would rise the third day v. 7, and on the same day on the road to Emmaus the two disciples stated it was the “third day” v. 21, and Jesus ways he would rise “the third day” v. 46. So clearly Sunday was the third day the angels were speaking of, the day on which Jesus rose from the grave. With this in mind, note this verse:

Mark 16:9 “9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”

Those who advocate a Wednesday crucifixion must adhere to a Saturday resurrection, but the above verse, in conjunction with Mark 16:9 refute such an event.

Since Jesus was to rise the third day, the Roman guards were put in place immediately at the end of the Sabbath, because they anticipated the body being stolen by the Jews sometime on Sunday, the third day. Had they anticipated the theft on Saturday they would have posted the guard on Friday evening. Note Matthew 27:62 “62Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”

Point 4: Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week, which was the third day since His trail, death and burial (Luke 24:21).

In Jewish time reckoning Saturday began at sunset on Saturday evening, and by Jewish reckoning any part of day is counted as day. So working backwards – Sunday, was the third day, the day of resurrection. – Saturday (Sabbath) was the second day that Christ rested in the tomb – Friday (Preparation day) was the first day, the day of the crucifixion. Note in Luke 24:18-21, the events of the three days begins with the arrest and trail, not with His burial!

Jesus was crucified on Friday noon and died at 3 PM. He rose from the dead somewhere between Saturday after Sunset and sunrise on Sunday morning. There is absolutely no way to push the crucifixion back to Wednesday and fit scripture.

I hope these words help you in your study to understand time of crucifixion as stated in Scripture.

Sincerely,

The Plymouth Church of Christ

Question:
10/10/2012
I do not understand exodus 4:20 and exodus 18:2.  In 4:20 it says that Moses took his wife and sons to Egypt, then on 18:2 it says that Jethro took Moses' wife and his sons after he had sent her back.
Answer: Exodus 4:20, after Moses had spoken with the LORD at the burning bush and God sent him to Egypt to ask Pharaoh to let the people go, says:
So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.

On the other hand, after Israel had passed through the Red Sea and was camped at Mt. Sinai, Exodus 18:2 says:
Now Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her home,

When 18:2 says "after he had sent her home," who is the "he"?

Since Moses had taken her into Egypt with him in chapter 4:18, it is most likely Moses who had sent her home - and her father brought her back to Moses after the was out of Egypt. Though we are not told this, we can infer that when things began to get "hot" for Moses and Israel in Egypt, Moses had sent his wife back to her home, which was located near Mt. Sinai. So when Moses and Israel were nearby, Jethro was able to bring her back to her husband.

I hope this will be of some help to you.

Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling
Question:
9/1/2012
Why is there evil in the world.  Did God allow it?
Answer:
In one sense, of course God "allows" evil. That is, He has the power to prevent it - but He does not choose to deal with His creation on the basis of "power." His plan to overcome evil relies on the power of His infinite love for us.

 
When God created, first the heavenly beings and later human beings, He gave us the power of choice. That is, we can choose to serve Him or we can rebel against Him.

 
When He created Man (Adam), He made Him and the Woman (Eve) in His own image and likeness. This does not mean that we, as their descendants, have the same powers as God. It does mean that we are god-like in that we can plan a course of action and follow it through. We have creative powers - not in the sense of creating out of absolute "nothingness" but in the sense of creating beauty and utilitarian objects. That is, we can make music, creating new songs; we can design and create art; we can be architects and engineers. In these things, we can be creative. We also have a moral sense that we get from our Creator. We know there is good and evil - and we have the capability of choosing between them. We can be selfish - or we can be loving. We have the capability, therefore, of being evil or of being kind and loving to others around us.

 
The first rebellion against the Creator was from among the heavenly beings. The Satan, the Devil thought to take the place of God, the Creator. Then, after the creation of Mankind, this rebel, in the form of a serpent, tempted our first parents to do what God had told them not to do. God had said they could eat of every tree in the Garden except for one. That was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God said that in the day that they ate of that tree they would die.

 
The Devil, who is a liar from the beginning, asked them very craftily, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the Garden?'" Note that this is not what God said. God actually said, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden...." To this general permission to eat from the trees of the Garden, He made a single exception. "... but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." The Serpent's crafty question sounded as if God, by forbidding one tree, had forbidden all trees. (In this, he sounds like today's politicians, who are very good at taking a statement and making it sound very different from what was actually said.)

 
He next flatly contradicted God, saying in effect that God is a liar. He said, "You shall not surely die." God had warned that eating the fruit of the tree would mean death. In this, He was much like the mother who warns a child not to touch a hot pot, "because it will burn you." The child thinks it knows better than Mom and touches the pot anyway. What happens? The child is burned.

 
What happened when Eve and then Adam ate the forbidden fruit? They took on themselves the role of God. That is, they actually put themselves above God by disregarding the place He had given them in the Creation. He had given them dominion over all the animals and assigned them the task (not at that time toilsome labor) of tending and caring for the Garden. That is they were "lords" of all they surveyed - and they had sweet communion and face-to-face fellowship with the God who loved them. Had they been content to remain as they were, eternal bliss was in their grasp.

 
But that was not enough. They were not content to be in the image of God; they wanted to be God. So they ate - and the consequence that God said would happen did happen. There is always a disastrous consequence when man tries to become God himself. When we step out of the place God has given us - and he has given us a large place in His scheme of things and in Creation itself - we create bedlam.

 
Now, could God have created us so that there would have been no temptation to eat the forbidden tree? Perhaps He could - but would we have been fully human if there were no opportunity to choose NOT to do what God gave us to do? The planets and the stars revolve in their orbits in very precise, predictable ways. Mercury does not decide it is too hot that near the sun and go off wandering in other parts of the solar system. It does not have the power to do that. Humans are not like the planets. As humans, we do have power to choose and to decide. God created us to be co-rulers of this world with Him as his co-regents. But when the co-regents decide they know better than God, then bad things happen.

 
As a result of that first sin, sin entered the world - and through sin came death. Did God permit it? Yes, but He is not happy about it and has taken action to rescue both us and the cursed world in which we live. That action came in the person of Jesus, the Son of God who became flesh to dwell with us and call us back to the place for which God created us. Now, our choice is whether to return or not.

 
I hope that these few lines will be of some help to you in relating to the God who is love in the face of evil in the world. God permits it - just as He permitted Satan to afflict Job. But God does not "will" that it be so. God's ultimate triumph will be, not by the love of power, but by the power of love. His love will ultimately overcome the evil of the Tempter. Then sin, sorrow, and suffering will be no more. This, my friend, is the good news that Jesus came to give us. That is why we invite all to return to God - and in serving Him now, begin to work with Him to reverse the curse of sin and the power of evil.

Jerry Starling

Question:
7/1/2012
In I Chronicles 29:29, it talks about the books of Samuel, the Seer; Nathan, the Prophet; and Gad the Seer. Where can I find these books?
Answer: Thank you for your question.

This text says:
Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer, with accounts of all his rule and his might and of the circumstances that came upon him and upon Israel and upon all the kingdoms of the countries. (2 Chronicles 29:29-30)

Samuel, of course, was the judge of Israel who anointed both Saul and David as kings. He is spoken of as "the seer" in 1 Samuel 9:11-14 as Saul (later King Saul) was looking for his father's donkeys. Nathan was the prophet who told David, "You are the man" after his sin with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah. That story is told in 2 Samuel 12. Gad was a prophet who was with David during the time he fled from Saul (1 Samuel 22:5) and also when David sinned by numbering Israel (2 Samuel 24:11). It was Gad who directed David to purchase the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite, where he built an altar to offer sacrifice of petition to God to avert the plague that came from that sin (2 Samuel 24:18ff). In 2 Samuel 24:11 Gad is called "David's seer." 1 Samuel 9:9 explains that in those days, a prophet was called a "seer."

Where would you find the Chronicles of these prophets of God? Since 1 Chronicles says that this is where you would find the acts of King David, I would look to the only other part of Scripture that describes the life of David. That is the books of 1 & 2 Samuel. While Samuel's name is attached to those two books, he actually died in 1 Samuel 25:1. Hence, we are not to believe that he wrote the rest of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. Rather, those two parts were likely written by Nathan and Gad. It is also quite likely that the Chronicles of these three prophets were "diaries" they kept, and that the events described in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Chronicles were all extracted from the diaries. In other words, these three books in the Bible do not record all that David did - but only as much as God chose to include in the over-all story of His people, Israel. In the New Testament, John 21:25 says that "there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

It is not necessary for us to have everything that was ever written about any character we meet in the Bible, not even about Jesus. Nor should it surprise us that an inspired writer would draw factual material from other books. The guidance of the Holy Spirit would insure that what is taken from those sources would be accurate.

I hope that these few lines will be of assistance to you in your studies of the Word of God.

Jerry Starling

Question:
6/18/2012
This question came up in class and no one had a definitive answer. Maybe there isn't one. I was just hoping you could help me figure this out. What is meant in 1 Peter 3:19-20 and 1 Peter 4:6 ?
Answer:

Some people believe 1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus’ activity during the three days He was in the tomb, but I do not think so.

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built….

This passage speaks of His preaching through the Spirit to “the spirits in prison,” identified as those “who disobeyed long ago … in the days of Noah.” No one has satisfactorily explained why, if this is what He did during the three days, He only preached to those who disobeyed while Noah built the ark.

Further, this does not speak of Jesus Himself doing this preaching, but of doing it “through the Spirit.” Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). A logical assumption is that He preached through the power of the Holy Spirit. If so, 1 Peter 3 likely refers to Noah’s work of preaching, “while the ark was being built.” Jesus used the Holy Spirit in Noah to preach then, just as He used the Holy Spirit in Peter to preach on Pentecost.

Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Christ descending “to the lower, earthly regions” (NIV), though some translations make this the “lower part of the earth,” as a reference to Hades. The ascent is His return to Heaven (see Acts 1:9). He ascended to Heaven from Earth (Acts 1:3). From Heaven, he poured out the Holy Spirit on all flesh, giving gifts to men (Acts 2:31-33). Some believe the “captives He led in his train” are the “spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23) whom, in this understanding, Jesus freed from Hades during the three days.

Yet, in Hebrews 11:40 the writer says these righteous men will become perfect only together with us. This sounds like the general resurrection in the last day, not an activity of Jesus during the three days He was in the tomb.

In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11, which says in part,

…my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, not will you let your Holy One see decay. – Acts 2:26-27

Peter explained that David’s tomb was with them to that day. He spoke here as a prophet of the Christ, and that God did not abandon Christ to the grave and nor let Him see decay. The word translated here in the NIV as grave is the word Hades. The KJV translates it as hell. This leads some to believe Jesus went down into hell – as some of the historic creeds declare. I believe the NIV gives a correct translation (grave), not a transliteration (Hades), or a mistranslation (hell), as many other translations of the Bible do.

All of this shows that speculation about what Jesus did during the three days is very “iffy.” Men draw this theory from little hints mixed with much conjecture – plus, for reasons not discussed above, Greek Pagan philosophy.

In the absence of a definitive statement of Scripture, I hesitate to speculate about where Jesus was, other than in the grave, or what He was doing, other than waiting. Could He have been in Hades freeing the prisoners there? That may be true, but frankly, I do not know, and I doubt it.

Rather that think of this as Jesus' activity between His death on the Cross and His resurrection, I prefer the thought that He, through the Spirit that inspired Noah's preaching while he was building the ark, preached to the people of Noah's day calling them to repentance before the flood.

 
Now, let's turn to 1 Peter 4:6, which reads:
 
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
 
I see two possibilities here for "those who are now dead" - as well as one suggestion that I do not consider possible. The impossible suggestion is that the preaching was to people after they had died to give them a new opportunity to receive the gospel. The two possibilities for "those who are now dead" could be either (1) those who are dead in trespasses and sins or (2) those who had heard and received the gospel while still alive, but who had already gone on to their reward.
 
I lean toward the second of these, but see no real difficulties in the first either. In the early days of the church, there was some concern for those in the Lord who had already died. Many feared they would miss out on the Lord's return. Paul, writing not long before Peter, assured the church of the Thessalonians that they need not worry about these because the Lord would bring them with Him when He came again (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff). In this passage, Peter is saying that though men regarded these as dead, God saw them as alive.
 
I hope that these few lines will be of some assistance to you and to your Bible Class.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
4/16/2012
How come Ishmael did not get the blessing of God?  He was the the first born son of Abraham.  Deuteronomy chapter 21 verse 15 - 17 explains the firstborn inheritance rights.
Answer: This is a very perceptive question. As you note, in Deuteronomy, as the right of the firstborn is explained, even a firstborn son who is born to a less-loved wife, should have the right of the double portion of the inheritance.
 
"If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his. (Deuteronomy 21:15-17)
 
Ishmael did not receive this, as we can read in Genesis.
 
But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, "Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. (Genesis 21:9-12)
 
Actually, Ishmael was not the only firstborn son not to receive the firstborn rights. When Isaac's twin sons were born, Jacob received the birthright, even though Esau was born first (Genesis 25:26-34 & Gen 27:1-36). When Jacob gave the blessings to his sons, he gave the birthright to Joseph (Genesis 48:5). He did this by making Joseph's first two sons his own "as Reubin and Simeon" were his. Of Joseph's two sons, Manasseh was firstborn, but Ephraim received the greater blessing (Genesis 48:13-19).
 
Note, though, that all of these were before God gave the law at Mount Sinai in Exodus. In Deuteronomy, Moses reviewed and rehearsed the law to Israel. Under the Deuteronomy Law, the birthright was to go to the firstborn, as was the custom in all of the ancient world. This custom continued down through history, and even into modern times. In those countries that have a titled aristocracy, the title and the property go to the firstborn son.
 
We could speculate about why God spelled out the rights of the firstborn in Deuteronomy. (It certainly can resolve a lot of family disputes!) Yet, why God Himself said that Ishmael should be sent away, as Sarah demanded, is not so much speculation as it is a rebuke of Abraham for not having trusted God to give him a son when he and Sarah were getting older and remained childless. Genesis 16 tells the story. In chapter 15, Abram (his name was not changed to Abraham until later in chapter 17) complained to God that he had no heir of his own flesh and that his servant, Eliezer, would inherit all Abraham's wealth. God told Abram that he would have a son of his own flesh. In chapter 16, Sarai (later called Sarah) suggested that Abram take her handmaid, Hagar, as a concubine and raise up children for Sarah. This resulted in the birth of Ishmael - but also to trouble between Sarai and Hagar even before he was born.
 
Then in chapter 17, God came to Abram 13 years later and told him he would have a son by Sarah (Sarai's new name). At first Abraham (his new name) asked that Ishmael might be accepted by God - but God insisted that Abraham and Sarah would have a son who would be named Isaac. When Isaac was born, Ishmael mocked him, and Sarah was angry. She insisted that this "son of a slave woman" should be rejected and not inherit with her own son. (I guess Sarah forgot that it was her idea for Abraham to have a child by Hagar.)
 
In Galatians 4:22-31 Paul speaks of this story as an allegory in which Ishmael represented the Old Law given at Mount Sinai and those who followed it. Isaac, the son of promise, represented the gospel of Jesus and the salvation of those who have faith in Him. His application is that we should not continue to serve God according to the law given at Sinai, but in the faith of Jesus where we are free and not slaves.
 
In short, Isaac received the blessing of the firstborn because God wanted it that way. Later, He told Israel that the firstborn, even if the son of an unloved wife, should have the right of double inheritance. Prior to that, this was the custom of man but was not the law of God. In Isaac, we can learn that God receives those born according to his promise of redemption in Christ. These are those born again of water and Spirit. We also learn that we should not go back to the old Law given at Sinai, but instead live by faith and as free men in Christ.
 
I hope that this will prove helpful to you in your studies.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
4/7/2012
Why was Moses sent to kill Balaam?  I thought he was a prophet of God.  Numbers 31:8
Answer:
The passage you reference says:
 
They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. Numbers 31:8
 
The answer to your question is found a few verses later.
 
And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. Moses said to them, "Have you let all the women live? Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. (Numbers 31:14-16, ESV)
 
Not all prophets, even those "of God" speak for him truly. Sometimes even a prophet of God can become greedy for earthly gain - and not act in keeping with his office. Jude 11 pronounces a woe on some who "walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion."
 
The sordid story of "Balaam's error" is in Numbers chapters 22, 23, and 24 - with the rest of the story in chapter 31 - and we must not forget the scene described in chapter 25. All of these chapters go together.
 
The King of Moab wanted to hire Balaam to curse Israel. He sent his servants to Balaam , who at first inquired of the Lord before consenting to come with them to curse Israel. God said no, don't go. So Balaam declined. The king sent more servants to up the offer. Instead of merely telling them that God said no, Balaam said, "Let me see what more the Lord will have to say." This time, God said, "Go ahead - but do not say anything other than what I tell you."
 
As he was going, the donkey on which he was riding turned aside from the path - three times. The third time, he crushed Balaam's foot against a fence, so Balaam beat the poor animal. To his surprise, no doubt, the donkey spoke to him and asked him why he beat him this way. The donkey had seen something Balaam had not. He saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with a sword. When Balaam's eyes were opened, the angel repeated what God had said: Go but say nothing but what I tell you to say.
 
In chapters 23 & 24, Balaam tried to curse Israel, but blessing came from his mouth instead. This happened three times on three different peaks. Each time sacrifices were made to God - and each time Balaam blessed Israel. The third time a long prophecy of the future of Israel came from his mouth. This is in chapter 24.
 
Chapter 25 leaves Balaam for the moment - and tells of how Israel joined with the people of Moab in worship to Baal. This worship involved sexual relations between Israelite men and the women who worshiped Baal, the god of fertility. As a result, 24,000 people of Israel died because of a plague.
 
Chapter 31 tells how Israel later fought against Moab and Midian, defeating them and killing many of them. Among the people killed was Balaam. Yet, Moses was not satisfied. When he saw that they had spared many of the women alive, he had this to say:
 
And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. Moses said to them, "Have you let all the women live? Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. (Numbers 31:14-16, ESV, emphasis added)
 
The incident of Peor is that which is described in chapter 25. Balaam could not curse Israel, but he found a way to "earn his money" anyway. He advised essentially, if you cannot beat them, get them to join you - in worshiping Baal. Then God will desert them. The ploy worked - but it didn't. While many did worship Baal (and died in the plague), enough were faithful and loyal to God that He did not desert His people. Because of this, Balaam died.
 
There is a lesson for us in this as well. We need to listen to what God says, and not try to find some way around it to get what we want. That's what Balaam tried. He was punished for it.
 
I hope this will be of some assistance to you in understanding this section of Scripture.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
3/27/2012
Why was Dan not included in the 144 thousand in the book of Revelation?
Answer:
This question refers to Revelation 7:4-8 where the number of servants of God who were sealed numbered 144,000, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
 
However, as you note, Dan is omitted from this number. Instead, Joseph is listed along with his 1st born, Manasseh. Levi is also listed, though Levi is usually left out when Ephraim and Manasseh are listed as tribes. Ephraim is included in this list under the name of Joseph, the father of these two boys. See Genesis 48:10-19 for the background to this as "Israel" (Jacob) blessed Ephraim and Manasseh and claimed them as his own sons. This meant that he effectively made Joseph his firstborn, giving him a double-share of his inheritance. The Revelation list has Joseph, which is what the tribe of Ephraim is sometimes called.
 
Why is this listing different?
 
Many years ago, when I was in my later 30's I made a practice of having a question and answer session one Sunday evening each month in the church where I was preaching at the time. I told people I would answer any question they would ask - as long as they would allow me sometimes to answer, "I do not know."
 
This is a question to which I do not know the answer. I can, however, speculate. So treat what I say below as speculation, not certainty.
 
It could be that Dan was omitted from the listing in Revelation 7 because Dan was the first entire tribe of Israel to go into idolatry. The story is told in Judges 18. The sordid story begins in chapter 17 when a man of Ephraim stole money from his own mother, but later confessed his crime. The mother gave the money back to him to have a "household ephod" (idol) made with it. He later hired a traveling Levite to be a priest for him and his house.
 
Later in chapter 18, some men of Dan were scouting for a better place for their tribe to live. They spent the night with Micah, the man of Ephraim with the household god and personal priest, and took note of those things. When they found a likely place they returned home and brought a band of 600 men to take this land from the people who lived there. When they passed by the house of Micah the spies told about the idol and the priest. So, they stole the idol, and suborned the Levite to be priest for an entire tribe instead of a single family. They then set up the idol as a "god" for the entire tribe of Dan.
 
Was that why Dan was omitted from the servants of God in Revelation 7? I do not know - but it is a guess that I suspect is about as good as anyone else's guess about why. Though I have often wondered about the question you asked, this is the best I have been able to come up with. Perhaps this is one of those secret things that belong to God (see Deuteronomy 29:29).
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
2/26/2012
Can you tell me if Paul was baptized?
Answer: The Bible does not tell us everything about even Jesus, the most important person in the Bible. If you had asked if Peter had been baptized, I could not say with certainty that he was baptized in water, though I can say that he probably was.
 
However, the Scriptures makes it quite clear that Paul was baptized.
 
Paul began his life as Saul of Tarsus. In Acts 13:10, as he was on his first missionary journey with Barnabas, we see a change of his name to Paul.
 
But Saul, who was also called Paul.... (ESV)

Beginning his history in Acts 9, on the road to Damascus when the Lord appeared to him, he asked what he should do. The Lord told him to go into the city where he would be told what he must do. As Saul was praying, Ananias (what was a disciple of Jesus in Damascus) came to him with the following results:

So Ananias departed and entered the house [that is, where Saul was]. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized.... (Acts 9:17-18, ESV).

As he himself told the story later when he was defending himself before King Agrippa, he said what Ananias had told him:
 
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, "Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, 'The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name." (Acts 22:12-16, ESV)

Here, Paul (Saul) explained why Ananias told him to be baptized.

Later, as he wrote to the Roman Christians (see Romans 1:1), he said:
 
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:3-6, ESV)

Note the number of times in this text where he includes himself with those to whom he was speaking who had been baptized into Christ Jesus (indicated by the bold type in the quotation).

Thus it is clear from the history of his conversion as written by Luke in Acts and described by Paul himself, as well as by his writings that he was indeed baptized. In fact, his baptism contains great lessons for us about the purpose of our baptism: baptism for Paul (and for us) means we are united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection so that we are no longer enslaved to sin but can walk with Jesus in a new life - a life in which our sins have been washed away in the blood of Jesus.
 
I hope this information about Paul and his baptism will be of assistance to you in your own walk with Jesus.

Jerry Starling

Question:
2/18/2012
When Lot and his daughter came out of Sodom and the two daughter got him drunk with wine, where the wine came from? Since they left out of Sodom in a hurry with nothing.
Answer: When the LORD first told Lot to flee Sodom, He told him to "Escape to the hills" (Genesis 19:17). Lot begged to be allowed to go instead to Zoar, a smaller city that was nearby. God granted him that request (Genesis 19:18-22). However, once in Zoar, Lot decided that he would not be safe there after all. Perhaps he saw that this city, even though it was smaller than Sodom and Gomorah, was also as wicked as those larger cities. After all, God had intended to destroy it with Sodom until Lot's plea.

Accordingly, Lot took his daughters from Zoar into the hills where he lived in a cave (Genesis 19:30). It was there that the daughters got him drunk on wine and seduced him so that they had sons incestuously with their father. Apparently, in Zoar the family had opportunity to purchase supplies, which they took with them into the hills above the cities of the plain. I suspect that this is where they got the wine.
 
Lot succeeded in getting his daughters out of Sodom - but he did not get Sodom out of his daughters! Here was the folly of a righteous man. He had pitched his tent, first "toward" Sodom, and then lived in Sodom. By the time he fled that city, his daughters had become infected with the promiscuous culture of Sodom so much that they seduced their own father after getting him drunk. You cannot play with fire without getting burned.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
1/9/2012
Do The Books Of Mathew-John Describing Jesus before The Cross Belong In The New Testament, Since Jesus Said Plainly He Came To Fulfill The Law Of Moses. Mathew 5:17-18, Mathew 7:12. Thank You.
Answer:
Clearly, Jesus was born and lived His life under the Law. As Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law." He was the only man to ever keep the Law in its entirety.
 
However, the Four Gospels were not written during the life of Jesus. They were written decades after His death and resurrection. They record His teachings for His church and for the people to whom His church is sent to call them into His light. His message had to do with the coming Kingdom of God. He is not to be grouped with the prophets of the Old Testament. He excels them in every way, though He is like them in some ways.
 
Near the end of the gospel of John, the last of the four to be written, John wrote, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).
 
The Old Testament points us to Jesus as the coming Messiah. The Gospel points us to the reigning King of kings and Lord of lords. And, as Mark says at the very beginning of his account of the life of Jesus, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1).
 
The first four books of the New Testament tell us of the beginning of the gospel of Jesus. In them, God demonstrates His grace and truth, as John wrote in the prologue to his account of the good news, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). This is not merely in words but in the very things that Jesus did as He walked among men.
 
The coming of Jesus marked the transition; His Life shows us what Life in the Kingdom of God is all about. His Life and Teaching demonstrates what God had in mind for Mankind from the very beginning. He came to restore fallen Man to fellowship with God in His Kingdom. Without the first four books of the New Covenant Scriptures, we would not have the complete revelation of God as found in Jesus. In fact, it is only as the gospel is preached that the fullness of the Old Testament can be seen.
 
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)
 
I have known some, who would like to ignore some of what Jesus teaches, try to make these books belong to the Law, not to the gospel. Yet, the very nature of these books is why almost from the beginning of Christianity they have been called "The Gospels." Though they are four in number, they tell of one gospel, the good news of Jesus.
 
I hope that these few words will point you to the infinite value of these four books as they tell of the Son of God as He shows the Father to us. As such, they are the only fitting beginning of the New Testament.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
12/10/2011
Is the Ichthus (fish) really a Christian symbol or is it's root in Catholicism? Catholics are not Christians. Anything Catholic is not rooted in Christianity. The Church of Rome is not Christian but a political arm of government and practices pagan rituals.
Answer: The use of "the sign of the fish" preceded the Roman Catholic Church by centuries - although the early church spoke of itself as "catholic" (note the lowercase "c") since the meaning of the word is universal. They used this word to describe the universal, "orthodox" church as opposed to some of the heretical sects.
 
The Greek word for "fish" is an acronym for the Greek words for Jesus Christ, God's Son Savior. Transliterated from the Greek, these words are Iasus Christos, Theou Uiou, Soter. The Greek first letters are iota, chi, theta, upsilon, sigma.
 
The symbol was used as a secret recognition symbol that Christians, when meeting a stranger, could easily scratch in the dirt when meeting a stranger to inquire if that person were Christian or not.
 
You can find a more complete explanation of the history of this term at
http://www.plymouth-church.com/ichthus.html elsewhere on this site.
 
I hope these few lines will help you.

Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
11/17/2011
The Jehovah Witnesses do not believed that Jesus is the Lord.  They say that he was an angel.  My wife also thinks the same way.  Can you point out some verses in the Bible to show that they are wrong?
Answer:
Every book of the New Testament refers to Jesus as "Lord." Even Jesus spoke of Himself as "Lord."
 
Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" - Matthew 7:21-23
 
Note in this passage that Jesus is the speaker. He says some will call Him Lord "on that day" (that is the day in which he comes in glory to judge the world), when they see Jesus in His glory. This is when He reveals Himself to everyone, even to those who have not accepted Him in their lifetime on earth. This is the time Paul wrote of in Philippians 2:11
 
And every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (see vv. 5-11).
 
All who confess Jesus is Lord, they glorify God, the Father. What if someone will not confess Jesus is Lord? Whom does he glorify?
 
Also, there are Old Testament scriptures that speak of Yahweh, or Jehovah as some translations have it, which are quoted in the New Testament to refer to Jesus.
 
For example, Isaiah 40:3-5 says:
A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
 
In the New Testament, Mark 1:1-3 quotes a part of this prophecy as he begins his account of the gospel:
The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
 
It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way [Malachi 3:1]," "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him [Isaiah 40:3].'"
 
Note that Mark speaks of the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ. He goes on to quote the Isaiah passage about preparing the way for the LORD just after he quoted Malachi's words, "I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way." Whose way did John the Baptist come to prepare? John himself answered that question when he saw Jesus. See that answer in John 1:26-27, 29-31.
 
"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." ... The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."

John came to prepare the way for the LORD, according to Isaiah. He came to prepare the way for Jesus and to reveal Him to Israel. When the coming LORD appeared, people would see the glory of God (Isaiah 40:5). Yet, it was in the Word made flesh that we see the glory of God (John 1:14). That is, when we really see Jesus we see the Father (see also John 14:9).

To deny that Jesus is LORD is a serious matter. In 2 John 7, we read this warning:
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

John goes on to warn that those who do not accept the teaching of Christ do not have God - but also says that those who continue in the teaching of Christ have both the Father and the Son.

As to believing Jesus is an angel, consider Hebrews 1:5.
For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father?"
 
Yet, God did call Jesus His Son - and Jesus called God His Father! But God never called any angel His Son in this way. Instead, angels worship Jesus (Hebrews 1:6).
 
I trust these few thoughts will help you discuss these serious matters with your wife.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
11/17/2011
What letter did Paul write before he was killed?
Answer: Most students of the Bible believe 2 Timothy was the final letter Paul wrote before he died in Rome. Non-biblical history and tradition says Paul was beheaded in Rome about A.D. 66 or 67 under the Roman Emperor Nero.
 
There are things in 2 Timothy that suggest Paul expected to die soon, and that one of his reasons for writing was to urge Timothy to come to him so these two friends could be together once again before Paul's demise. Note especially chapter 4:6-8. At this time, many of Paul's friends had forsaken him (see 4:10), and he wanted Timothy to come to him quickly (4:9 & 21). Paul was still active, even in prison, for he wanted Timothy to bring him some needed clothing and materials for study and/or writing (see 4:13).
 
I hope these few lines will be of some assistance to you.

Jerry Starling

Question:
11/17/2011
I think that at this time we do not have any more prophets.  I was in a church group and one of my Christian brothers said that his calling was to be a prophet.  I thought that all the prophecy is already in the Bible.  Thank for you future answer.
Answer:
I believe your instincts here are correct. We have already been given "everything we need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). "The faith" has been "once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3), and "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebusing, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
 
We have what we need. The next revelation from God will be when Jesus "is revealed from heaven in blazing fire" to punish evil-doers and to be marveled at by those who believe (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
 
Until then, we are warned not to listen to any one, even to an angel, who might preach a different gospel to the one we have received (Galatians 1:8-9).
 
There may be false prophets, just as there were in Israel's day. We, however, are not to listen to them (see 2:Peter 2:1-3).

Keep listening to God as He speaks in the Bible. Listen to men only when they point you to the one who is the Word of God made flesh, that is to Jesus. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.

I trust these few notes will be of some help to you.

Jerry Starling

Question:
9/1/2011
In II Chronicles 24:20 it says that the father of Zechariah is Jehoiada and in Mathew 23:35 it says that the father of Zechariah is Berechiah.  I am confused which one is his father.  Thank you and God bless you.
Answer:
This is an interesting question, and one on which the scholars do not agree. I found several explanations.
  • Some say that Matthew mistakenly identified the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles with the prophet Zechariah, whose father was Barachiah (see Zechariah 1:1). Of course, one who believes the Bible is inerrant can not accept this at all.
  • Jehoiada and Barachiah were two different names for the same man. This often occurs in the Bible. For example, Matthew is also known as Levi; Simon, Peter, and Cephas are names of the same disciple of Jesus; Tabitha and Dorcas are the same woman whom Peter raised from the dead in Acts 9:36-42. Tabitha and Dorcas both mean gazelle. Peter and Cephas both mean rock. Barechiah and Jehoiada have similar meanings, though not exactly the same. One means the blessing of Jehovah, while the other means the praise of Jehovah. Hence, the two names could refer to the same man.
  • One of the major manuscripts of the New Testament does not have the words son of Barachiah in Matthew 23:35. This suggests that possibly a scribe added these words, confusing this Zechariah with the prophet Zechariah. Note that in a parallel to this account in Matthew, Luke 11:51 does not have the father's name. I would prefer this to #1 above, as the mistake would belong to an unknown scribe and not to Matthew, the writer of the gospel.
  • Some suggest the Zechariah involved is not the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles, but really is the prophet Zechariah. This is unlikely, because there is nothing in the Bible that suggests how the prophet died, though some suggest Jesus could have known a tradition that referred to his murder in the Temple. This, however, is unlikely because he prophesied before the Temple was rebuilt - though it could have happened in his old age.
I also found other explanations that were highly unlikely and have serious flaws, so I will not trouble you with them.
 
Personally, I lean toward the 2nd explanation above. It is not at all unusual for the same man to be called by two different names. This is especially true when you consider that 2 Chronicles was written in Hebrew, Jesus was likely speaking in Aramaic, and Matthew is written in Greek! The two names have very similar meanings, and for them to be spelled differently may be just the result of the different languages involved. The 3rd explanation is also possible. If Matthew did not include the son of Barachiah, it would certainly be possible for a scribe to make a mistake in adding his father's name, taking it from Zechariah 1:1. Why a scribe would add something to the Scripture he is copying is a mystery, so I do not consider this as likely as #2 above.
 
As for #4, Jesus' clearly refers to the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 24. In the Hebrew Bible, the books are in a different order than we have them. 2 Chronicles is the last book of the Hebrew Bible. So the two murders Jesus describes in this context would be the first and last in their Bible. In other words, from the beginning to the end, murder of good men was common - and the Jews were getting ready to murder Jesus Himself.
 
Thank you for prompting me to research this question. I hope these remarks will be of help to you.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
8/1/2011
What are the four types of love in the Bible?  I know agape wish is the love of God is one of them.  What are the others and their meaning?
Answer:
There are four Greek words for love, only two of which are in the Bible. One of the others is there with a prefix that means "not to have" this kind of love.
 
The word for love not in the New Testament (the part of the Bible written in Greek) is eros. This is the word from which we get our word erotic. God created us to have erotic feelings. After all, He invented sex when He created us. It is a natural emotion and desire, but is one that can be badly distorted and perverted. This is what we see when some use other people only as objects for their sexual activities and desires. When it is between a loving husband and wife, eros is a beautiful thing. The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament glorifies this kind of love, while the Proverbs of Solomon frequently warn us against the perversion of sex as Solomon warns us against adultery time after time.
 
The second type of love is what we might call "love of family." The Greek word is storge. This word is in the New Testament twice with a prefix that means not or is similar to our English prefix un-. When we put un- in front of a word, it means not to be whatever the word that follows this negative prefix may be. Examples would be unloving, unkind, or uninteresting. The two places in the New Testament that have storge are Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3. Each time the translators call it without natural affection. The natural affection implied is affection within a family, such as natural love for parents by children or of children by parents. This love can also become distorted when we love family more than we love God.
 
The third kind of love is similar, in that it treats people outside the family as if they were family. This word, joined with the word for brother gives us Philadelphia, which is "The City of Brotherly Love." (At least that is what its name means.) This word speaks of affection and liking between individuals. It describes friendship. It is common in the New Testament as it describes affection we have toward someone whom we find winsome to us. We see something in the other that we appreciate, and we are kindly disposed toward them because of our feelings. The Greek word is phileo.
 
The fourth love word in the New Testament is agape. This word is in John 3:16 for God's love. This is the word Jesus used to say "love your enemies." This word does not describe a feeling - but a decision. This word means "to have active good will toward" or to "actively seek the good of" someone. God did this for us when there was nothing lovable in us. See Romans 5:6-8.
 
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 
Jesus did not die for us because we were good and He liked us because of our goodness. He died for us when we were sinners, and even when we were His enemies. That is, we did not like Him; in fact, we hated God. Through His love, He actively seeks our welfare and well being.
 
This is the same love that the Holy Spirit brings into our lives. Agape is the crowning grace of the Christian Graces (2 Peter 1:5-8); it headlines the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This is the glue that binds Christians together in unity, and our agape love for one another is what marks us as disciples of Jesus. Agape love for God is the greatest commandment, and the second is like it: agape love for our neighbor as we love ourselves. We seek our own good. This is virtually universal in mankind. The man who is filled with the love of God also seeks the good of his neighbor.
 
All four of these words for love have a proper place in our lives. We should not despise any of the four, although all of them can be perverted:
  • Eros can become sexual perversion or adultery.
  • Storge can put family ahead of God.
  • Phileo can value friends more than we value God.
  • Agape can be directed at idols more than at God, so that we love and serve the creature instead of the Creator.
I hope these few words will be of help. If you would like to study these four words more, there is a book I have found very useful: The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. I am sure you can find it at any good book store or online. It is a short book, but one that is very well written.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
7/16/2011
Good evening.  In Acts 2:38-40, at that time Peter saying, Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Sprit, For the promise is to you and to your childrenMy question is : What is the use of Holy Spirit in the Generation to us?
Answer:
Over the centuries there has been much confusion about the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and of the individual child of God. Many books have been written about the Spirit, many of which are of little value since they proclaim the words of men more than the words of God.
 
Here is a list of Scriptures about the present work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God's children, to all of whom He has given of His Spirit (see Galatians 4:6). I did not compile this list, which is from Given O. Blakely. I commend it to you for study of what the Scripture says is the work of the Holy Spirit. (All of his quotations are from the King James Version.)

1. A PERSONAL COGNITION OF THE LOVE OF GOD – “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts BY THE HOLY GHOST which is given unto us.” (Rom 5:5)

2. FREEDOM FROM THE ENSLAVING LAW OF SIN AND DEATH – “For THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)

3. NOT DWELLING IN THE CONDEMNING ENVIRONS OF THE FLESH – “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELL IN YOU. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom 8:9)

4. THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE BODY FOR GOD’S GLORY – “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies BY HIS SPIRIT that dwelleth in you.” (Rom 8:11)

5. PUTTING TO DEATH SINFUL EXPRESSIONS – “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye THROUGH THE SPIRIT do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom 8:13)

6. BEING LED IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – “For as many as are led BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:14)

7. THE AGGREGATE CHURCH BEING A DWELLING PLACE FOR GOD – “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that THE SPIRIT OF GOD dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor 3:16)

8. A PERSONAL AWARENESS OF BEING GOD’S CHILD – “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but YE HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15) “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth THE SPIRIT OF HIS SON into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal 4:6)

9. HAVING A VERY REAL TASTE OF THE GLORY TO COME – “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have THE FIRSTFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Rom 8:23)

10. EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE IN DEALING WITH WEAKNESSES – “Likewise THE SPIRIT also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but THE SPIRIT itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because HE MAKETH INTERCESSION for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom 8:26-27)

11. THE TESTIMONY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE – “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness IN THE HOLY GHOST,” (Rom 9:1)

12. THE POSSESSION OF RIGHTEOUS, PEACE, AND JOY – “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy IN THE HOLY GHOST.” (Rom 14:17)

13. ABOUNDING IN HOPE – “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST.” (Rom 15:13)

14. THE SANCTIFICATION OF PEOPLE WHO ARE OFFERED TO GOD – “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified BY THE HOLY GHOST.” (Rom 15:16)

15. BEING ABLE TO LOVE PROPERLY – “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the LOVE OF THE SPIRIT, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” (Rom 15:30)

16. KNOWING WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN US IN CHRIST – “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; THAT WE MIGHT KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.” (1 Cor 2:11-12)

17. WASHING, JUSTIFICATION, AND SANCTIFICATION – “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD” (1 Cor 6:11)

18. INSIGHTFULLY AND THANKFULLY AFFIRMING THAT JESUS IS LORD – “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but BY THE HOLY GHOST.” (1 Cor 12:3)

19. BEING PUT INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST – “For BY ONE SPIRIT are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13)

20. HAVING A DOWN PAYMENT OF WHAT WE WILL INHERIT – “Who hath also sealed us, and given THE EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT in our hearts.” (2 Cor 1:22) “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us THE EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT.” (2 Cor 5:5)

21. BECOMING A PERSONAL LETTER FROM CHRIST – “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:3)

22. BEING PROGRESSIVELY CHANGED INTO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST – “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD.” (2 Cor 3:18)

23. BEGINNING NEWNESS OF LIFE – “Are ye so foolish? having begun IN THE SPIRIT, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3)

24. PATIENTLY WAITING FOR PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS – For we THROUGH THE SPIRIT wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” (Gal 5:5)

25. BEING ABLE TO RESIST THE ENCROACHMENTS OF LUST – “This I say then, Walk IN THE SPIRIT, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16)

26. BEING ABLE TO SPEAK PROFITABLY TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD – “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled WITH THE SPIRIT; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:18-19)

27. A STRONG COMPETITIVE INFLUENCE AGAINST THE CALL OF THE FLESH – “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and THE SPIRIT against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal 5:17)

28. THE PRODUCTION OF HOLY QUALITIES WITHIN – “But the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25) “For the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Eph 5:9)

29. REAPING ETERNAL LIFE – “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall OF THE SPIRIT reap life everlasting.” (Gal 6:8)

30. HAVING ACCESS TO THE FATHER – “For through him we both have access BY ONE SPIRIT unto the Father.” (Eph 2:18)

31. BEING BUILT TOGETHER FOR GOD’S DWELLING PLACE – “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God THROUGH THE SPIRIT.” (Eph 2:22)

32. UNITY WITH THOSE IN CHRIST – “Endeavoring to keep the unity OF THE SPIRIT in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3)

33. BEING SEALED, OR MARKED, AS ONE OF GOD’S OWN – “And grieve not THE SPIRIT OF GOD, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:30)

34. EFFECTIVE PRAYING – “Praying always with all prayer and supplication IN THE SPIRIT, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Eph 6:18) “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying IN THE HOLY GHOST” (Jude 1:20)

35. ACCORD WITH THE SPIRIT – “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any FELLOWSHIP OF THE SPIRIT, if any bowels and mercies,” (Phil 2:1)

36. MAINTAINING WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN US – “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep BY THE HOLY GHOST which dwelleth in us.” (2 Tim 1:14)

37. THE POSSESSING OF STRENGTHENING JOY – “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with JOY OF THE HOLY GHOST.” (1 Thess 1:6)

38. THE SANCTIFICATION THAT CARRIES OUT AND VALIDATES DIVINE CHOICE – “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation THROUGH SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT and belief of the truth:” (2 Thess 2:13)

39. INITIAL AND CONTINUED RENEWAL – “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and RENEWING OF THE HOLY GHOST.” (Titus 3:5)

40. OBEDIENCE AND THE SANCTIFYING SPRINKLING OF CHRIST’S BLOOD – “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, THROUGH SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” (1 Pet 1:2)

41. OBEYING THE TRUTH – “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth THROUGH THE SPIRIT unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:” (1 Pet 1:22)

Now that the Comforter has come, all of these marvelous ministries are available to the saints of God. Oh, they do not take place automatically, or in spite of unacceptable thought and conduct. However, you are sure to experience them if you will take these words seriously: “Grieve not the Spirit of God,” and “Quench not the Spirit” (Eph 4:30; 1 Thess 5:19).

 
The Spirit gives us the power to live a godly life in Christ. He helps us to pray, to love, and to resist and put off evil while putting on righteousness. He identifies us as children of God. He makes intercession for us when we pray but do not know what to say. In the Holy Spirit, we find righteousness, joy, and peace that passes all understanding. It is in the Holy Spirit that we have fellowship with God - and with one another. If we do not have the Spirit of Christ we do not belong to Christ.
 
I hope that these Scriptures will be of some assistance to you as you continue to consider the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian today. May God bless you in your walk with Him - a walk that is also called "walking by the Spirit."

Jerry Starling

Question:
6/1/2011
I do not understand why God prophesied to Abraham that his descendants would be 430 years in Egypt. Why? Is it because God is punishing him?
Answer:
No, it was not as punishment for Abraham, but to protect his descendants that God had Jacob's family move to Egypt. To understand just why this was necessary and how, even though they became slaves in Egypt, it was protection for them we need to look at some things in the Bible as well as some things in Egyptian history.
 
As Abraham's family began to grow, both in numbers and in wealth, their place among the inhabitants of Canaan became troubled. For one example of this, read Genesis 34.
 
Here is the story of how one of the princes of Canaan, Hamor who was the son of Shechem of the city by that name, became attracted to the daughter of Jacob. To tell the story briefly, he raped her, but then wanted to make her his wife. When Shechem came to Jacob and his sons to ask for the girl, they said:
 
Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. You shall dwell with us, and the land shall be open to you. Dwell and trade in it, and get property in it. (Genesis 34:9-10)
 
If they had done this, it would not have been long before they would have become a part of the idolatrous people of Canaan - and God's separation of Abraham to become the father of a great nation would have failed.
 
Jacob's sons dealt deceitfully with Shechem by tricking him into submitting to circumcision - along with all the men of his city. Back in the city, Shechem told the people there what this would mean:
 
These men are at peace with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people - when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their livestock, their property and all their beast be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us. (Genesis 34:21-23)
 
The men of the city agreed and were all circumcised. Then two of Jacob's sons attacked them when they were in great pain from the circumcision and killed all the men of the city. They did this, they said, because Hamor had treated their sister as a prostitute. Jacob, however, saw what this meant. He said to his sons:
You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household. (Genesis 34:30)
 
As this family grew, it was inevitable that they would come into conflict with the people of the land where they were living with one of two results: either they would adopt the ways of the those people, as did the family of Lot (Abraham's nephew) when he moved into Sodom (see Genesis 19), or they would be involved in disputes over things like water rights, as was Isaac (see Genesis 26:17-22). In the first instance, they would lose their devotion to Jehovah; in the second, they would be attacked by the people of the land - and, as Jacob feared, be destroyed by them.
 
Even when Israel left Egypt after the 430 years and God gave them the land, He told them that they would get it only little by little. They were a nation, but with numbers too small to fill the land. It was not until the time of David, 400 years after they left Egypt, that they literally ruled over the entire land that God promised to Abraham.
 
Why Egypt? Why didn't God just give them an enclave in Canaan where they could be safe and expand that area as they grew? Evidently God thought they needed a place where they could be isolated from the nations around them as they grew in numbers. Egypt fit the bill.
 
When Joseph brought Jacob's family into Egypt and introduced them to Pharaoh, he told them to tell Pharaoh, "Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers." Why tell him this? He explained they needed to do this, "in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians" (Genesis 46:34). Goshen gave them a protected place to live relatively isolated from the Egyptians.
 
This prejudice against Hebrews by the Egyptians is also seen in Genesis 43:32. When Joseph's brothers came the 2nd time to buy food, Joseph brought them into his own home before he made himself known to them. There, "They served [Joseph] by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians."
 
An interesting side light to this comes from Egyptian history. Prior to the time of Joseph, Egypt had been conquered by the Hyksos invaders, a people who ruled Egypt for about 200 years. Thus, the Pharaoh who elevated Joseph to the throne was not a native Egyptian. He was one of the Hyksos invaders. These people were Semites, that is they were descended from Noah's son, Shem. The Egyptians descended from Ham. Abraham and the Hebrews were also Semites. Perhaps that is one reason Jacob's family received favored treatment in Egypt. It was not until "there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph" (Exodus 1:8) that the Egyptians made the Hebrews slaves. This was not just the son or grandson of the Pharaoh whom Joseph served. It was a return to the rule of the native Egyptians after they expelled the Hyksos invaders. That is one reason the Egyptians feared that the Hebrews would join enemies of Egypt if war should break out (see Exodus 1:9-10).
 
The result of this move to Egypt was that Jacob's family was able to grow into a nation while in a protected environment. Yes, they spent some time in slavery - but God delivered them in a way that they never forgot. In fact, the Jews still remember the Exodus as God's mighty deliverance of their nation as He made them into a true nation with their own land.

Jerry Starling

Question:
5/22/2011
What was the population in Israel at the time of Christ?
Answer:
The only real answer to this is that I do not know. In searching the internet for an answer, I found the following:
 
The Jewish population in the first century of our era was, according to some estimates, four to four and a half million, or about seven percent of the total population of the Roman world. About seven hundred thousand Jews lived in Palestine, one million in Egypt, and even more in Syria, with some ten thousand in Rome. Jewish communities were to be found in most of the major cities of the empire. The Jewish dispersion, or diaspora, resulted from deportations, such as the Babylonian exile, and from migration.
 
This, however, is from human and secular sources, not from God's revelation. This is not something that God has chosen to reveal to us in the Bible.
 
The Bible is not the source of all knowledge. Not all of history is recorded in it, not even all of the history of what Jesus Himself did.
 
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31, NIV)
 
God gives us what we need to develop faith and have eternal life. Or, as it says in another place,
 
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3, NIV)
 
In other words, the Bible gives us what we need to believe in God, to find life, and to have godliness. We may have many other questions about various things that God does not address in His book, the Bible. As He said through Moses,
 
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29, NIV - emphasis added)
 
The Bible is given to us, not only to tell of what God has done, but to also let us know how we are to behave in this life as we partner with God in putting this world back right. We start by cleaning up our own lives. We continue by showing others how to live and helping them get their own lives in order as God lives in us by His Spirit.
I hope these few thoughts will be of assistance to you.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
5/12/2011
My question is in which language the Bible written? Also how many authors of Bible are there?
Answer:
The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew, but with some of it being in Aramaic, the language of the Jews after their return from Babylon. The New Testament was written in the Koine Greek. Koine refers to the common language of the people as contrasted with the Classical, literary Greek.
 
As for the number of authors of the Bible, that is less certain. We usually say, "About 40."
 
Eight or nine of these were writers of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, James and Jude. Some believe Paul also wrote Hebrews, but one ancient historian wrote, "The Lord alone knows who wrote this book." Several other possible authors for Hebrews have been suggested, but there is no scholarly consensus on any of them.
 
It is more difficult to know just how many authors there were of the Old Testament. For example, the "Sons of Korah" are listed as authors of several of the Psalms. How many different individuals this involved is not known. Many of the Psalms have no author listed. Also, there are a number of books that have no known author. For example, the books of 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings were written by various prophets of Israel and Judah. Just which prophets and how many is unknown. Moses wrote the first five books - except for some small portions added after his death. Joshua, Judges, and Ruth are somewhat like Samuel & Kings. Samuel probably had a hand in writing some of these, but we just guess at that without knowing. 1 & 2 Chronicles and Ezra were written by Ezra (most likely). It is probable that Nehemiah wrote Nehemiah, but we do not know about Esther or Job. David wrote many of the Psalms; others were written by a number of other people, many of which are unidentified except by a generic description (like "The Sons of Korah). Asaph is also one of the Psalmists, as was Moses. Solomon wrote Proverbs (except the last two chapters by Agur and King Lemuel). He also wrote Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.
 
The books of the prophets were written by the prophets whose names they bear - except that Jeremiah also wrote Lamentations. Baruch also assisted Jeremiah and wrote a portion of Jeremiah.
 
Some of the books were edited by people other than their authors. For example, Proverbs 25:1 says, "These also are the proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, King of Judah copied." Evidently, scholars employed by Hezekiah collected and collated at least a portion of the book of Proverbs. There is good evidence suggesting that Ezra did something similar to this in collecting the material found in 1 & 2 Chronicles.
 
So, it is not possible to give a definitive answer to how many people were involved in writing the Bible. There are even songs likely composed by women: Miriam, the sister of Moses (Exodus 15) and Deborah, the woman who was a judge in Israel (Judges 5).
 
That is why we usually say "About 40 people wrote the Bible."
 
I hope that these remarks will make sense to you and help you.

Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

Question:
5/12/2011
What chapter & verse in Exodus is it when Pharaoh tells Moses & Aaron that he does know their God & that he will not let the people go?
Answer:
At the first confrontation Moses and Aaron had with Pharaoh, his response was:
 
But Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go." (Exodus 5:2 ESV)
 
After some of the plagues, Pharaoh said things like this:
 
"Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord." (Exodus 8:8 ESV)
 
Yet, each time, he hardened his heart - except that after several plagues, he began to offer compromise positions:
 
"Go sacrifice to your God within the land" (Exodus 8:25 ESV). "I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away" (Exodus 8:28 ESV).
 
Finally, after the hail, Pharaoh called Moses and said:
 
"This time I have sinnerd; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the Lord, for there has been enough of God's thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer" (Exodus 9:27 ESV).
 
After the locusts, Pharaoh offered further compromises. First, he offered to let the men go without the women and children. Moses said no and brought the plague of darkness. Then he offered to let all the people go, but they must leave their herds and cattle behind. Again Moses said no. This angered Pharaoh who said, "Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die" (Exodus 10:28 ESV). Moses left, and never saw Pharaoh again.
 
At no time did Pharaoh say that he knew the God of the Hebrews but would not let them go. Once he asked, "Who is the Lord that I should obey him." At other times he talked about "the Lord your God" and said he would let them go - until the plague was relieved and he hardened his heart.

You can read the entire story of the encounter between Moses and Pharaoh in Exodus, chapters 5 - 14. Chapter 14 is the climax at the Red Sea. In none of these ten chapters is there a statement similar to the statement in your question - though some elements of your question do appear.
 
I hope this review of God's defeat of Pharaoh and the Egyptians will help you.
 
Respectfully yours,

Jerry Starling

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