"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Twenty-Eight OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To review the events on the island of Malta following the shipwreck 2) To observe Paul's arrival at Rome 3) To consider Paul's work in Rome while under house arrest SUMMARY It was rainy and cold, as the shipwrecked travelers escaped onto the island of Malta. The natives showed kindness by kindling a fire and welcoming them. As Paul gathered sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper bit his hand. The natives reacted, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live." Paul shook off the viper and suffered no harm. After a time, the natives thought Paul was a "god" as no harm had come to him. Publius, a leading citizen of the region, received and entertained the travelers "courteously" for three days. Publius' father was sick with a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed. He laid hands on Publius' father and healed him. Others on the island with diseases came and were healed. The islanders honored them in many ways and provided the necessities for them as they departed the island. (1-10) After three months, an Alexandrian ship (the Twin Brothers) sailed from Malta - it had wintered there. They sailed to Syracuse, Rhegium, and then to Puteoli. Paul found brethren at Puteoli and stayed with them seven days. As they traveled along, brethren heard about them and met them at Appii Forum and Three Inns. This gave Paul courage and he thanked God. Upon arrival at Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard. Paul was permitted to "dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him." (11-16) After three days, Paul called for the Jewish leaders. When they came together, he spoke to them. Paul noted that he had done nothing against their people or the customs of their fathers. He reviewed that he had been taken prisoner in Jerusalem, and was taken into Roman custody. He had been examined and was to be released, but the Jews spoke against his release; thus he appealed to Caesar. That was the reason he had called for and had spoken with the Jewish leaders. Paul stated, "...because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." The Jewish leaders responded to Paul. They indicated they had not received letters nor heard of any evil spoken of Paul. They wanted to hear more from Paul "concerning this sect." They stated that it had been "spoken against everywhere." The Jews met Paul again at his place of lodging at another arranged time. He explained and testified of the kingdom of God, and persuaded them concerning Jesus. Paul spoke from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. He spoke from morning until evening. Some were persuaded and some disbelieved. Paul completed the discourse by quoting from Isaiah the prophet. The quotation indicated they would hear/see but not understand/ perceive. The Lord wanted them to understand and turn so He could heal them. Paul told them that the salvation of God had been sent to the Gentiles, and "they will hear it!" The Jews departed and "had a great dispute among themselves." Paul was allowed to rent his own home for two years, as he continued under house arrest. Paul received all who came to him. He preached the kingdom of God, and taught the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught with all confidence, and no one forbade him. (17-31) OUTLINE I. ON THE ISLAND OF MALTA FOLLOWING THE SHIPWRECK (1-10) A. THE NATIVES SHOWED KINDNESS TO THE SHIPWRECKED TRAVELERS (1-6) 1. It was rainy and cold, as the travelers escaped to the island 2. The natives showed kindness by kindling a fire and welcoming them 3. A viper bit Paul, as he gathered sticks and laid them on the fire a. The natives reacted, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live." b. Paul shook off the viper and suffered no harm c. After a time, the natives thought Paul was a "god" as no harm had come to him B. THE HEALING OF PUBLIUS' FATHER AND OTHERS (7-10) 1. Publius was a leading citizen of the region a. He received and entertained the travelers for three days 2. Publius' father was sick with a fever and dysentery a. Paul went in to him and prayed b. Paul laid hands on him and healed him 3. Others on the island with diseases came and were healed 4. The islanders honored them in many ways and provided the necessities for them as they departed the island II. PAUL'S ARRIVAL AT ROME (11-16) A. THEY SAILED TOWARD ROME (11-13) 1. After three months, an Alexandrian ship (Twin Brothers) sailed from Malta - it had wintered there 2. They sailed to Syracuse, Rhegium, and then to Puteoli B. THEY TRAVELED BY LAND TOWARD ROME (14-15) 1. Paul found brethren at Puteoli and stayed with them seven days 2. As they traveled along, brethren heard about them and met them a. They met at Appii Forum and Three Inns b. This gave Paul courage and he thanked God C. THEY ARRIVED AT ROME (16) 1. The centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard at Rome 2. Paul was permitted to "dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him" III. PAUL'S WORK IN ROME WHILE UNDER HOUSE ARREST (17-31) A. AFTER THREE DAYS, PAUL CALLED FOR THE JEWISH LEADERS (17-22) 1. When they came together, Paul spoke to the Jewish leaders a. He noted that he had done nothing against their people or the customs of their fathers b. He reviewed that he had been taken prisoner in Jerusalem and taken into Roman custody c. He had been examined and was to be released, but the Jews spoke against his release; thus he appealed to Caesar d. That was the reason he called for and spoke with them e. He stated, "...because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" 2. The Jewish leaders responded to Paul a. They indicated they had not received letters nor heard of any evil spoken of Paul b. They wanted to hear more from Paul "concerning this sect" c. They noted that it had been "spoken against everywhere" B. PAUL SPOKE TO THE JEWISH LEADERS AGAIN (23-29) 1. The Jews met Paul again at his place of lodging 2. He explained and testified of the kingdom of God and persuaded them concerning Jesus a. He spoke from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets b. He spoke from morning until evening c. Some were persuaded and some disbelieved 3. Paul completed the discourse by quoting from Isaiah a. The quotation indicated they would hear/see but not understand/perceive b. The Lord wanted them to understand and turn so He could heal them c. Paul told them that the salvation of God had been sent to the Gentiles, and "they will hear it" d. The Jews departed and "had a great dispute among themselves" C. PAUL CONTINUED FOR TWO YEARS UNDER HOUSE ARREST (30-31) 1. Paul was allowed to rent his own home for two years 2. Paul received all who came to him a. He preached the kingdom of God b. He taught the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ 3. He taught with all confidence, and no one forbade him REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main events in this chapter? - On the island of Malta following the shipwreck (1-10) - Paul's arrival at Rome (11-16) - Paul's work in Rome while under house arrest (17-31) 2) What was the name of the island they escaped the shipwreck onto? (1) - Malta (1) 3) How did the natives treat the shipwrecked travelers? (2) - They showed unusual kindness (2) - They kindled a fire and welcomed them (2) 4) What happened to Paul while laying sticks on the fire? (3) - A viper came out and bit him on the hand (3) 5) What did the natives say to one another? (4) - "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live." (4) 6) What did Paul do to the creature? What was Paul's outcome? (5) - Paul shook the viper from his hand (5) - He "suffered no harm" (5) 7) Seeing that Paul suffered no harm, what did the natives think of him? (6) - They changed their minds about him; thought he was a "god" (6) 8) Who was Publius? What did he do for the travelers? (7) - He was a leading citizen of the island of Malta (7) - He "courteously" received and entertained them for 3 days (7) 9) What was wrong with Publius' father? What did Paul do? (8-9) - He was sick with a fever and dysentery (8) - Paul went in to him, prayed, laid hands on him and healed him (8) - Others with diseases also came and were healed (9) 10) How long did they remain on Malta? Why was a ship there? (11) - Three months (11) - The Alexandrian ship had wintered there (11) 11) Name three places they sailed to as they continued to Rome. (12-13) - Syracuse (12) - Rhegium and Puteoli (13) 12) Name places Paul met with brethren along the way in Italy. How did this affect Paul? (13-15) - Puteoli for seven days (13-14) - Appii Forum and Three Inns (15) - "When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage." (15) 13) At Rome, who was Paul delivered to? What was he permitted to do? (16) - The prisoners were delivered to the captain of the guard (16) - He was permitted to "dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him" (16) 14) Why did Paul call the Jewish leaders together? (17-20) - "to see you and speak with you, because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" (20) 15) Had the Jewish leaders heard a report on Paul? Had they heard about this "sect?" (21-22) - No, they had not heard any "evil" spoken of Paul (21) - Yes, and they wanted to hear more about this "sect;" it had been "spoken against everywhere" (22) 16) What did Paul speak to them about at the next meeting? (23) - "he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus" (23) 17) How did they react to Paul's teaching? (24) - Some were persuaded and some disbelieved (24) 18) What prophet did Paul quote when the Jews disagreed among themselves? (25-27) - He quoted from Isaiah the prophet - Isa. 6:9-10 (25) 19) To whom had the salvation of God been sent? (28) - To the Gentiles, and "they will hear it!" (28) 20) How long was Paul there? What did he continue to do? (30-31) - "Paul dwelt two years in his own rented house" (30) - He preached the kingdom of God, and taught things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ "with all confidence" (31)
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Twenty-Seven OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To observe how Paul's trip to Rome began 2) To notice how Paul warned of a disaster and was ignored 3) To examine how the tempestuous sea became disastrous for the ship 4) To contemplate how all were saved in the shipwreck at Malta SUMMARY When it was decided that the prisoners should sail to Italy, Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment, took custody. They boarded a ship of Adramyttium to sail along the Asian coast. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, accompanied Paul. When the ship arrived at Sidon, Julius treated Paul kindly. He was allowed to go to his friends and receive care. They then sailed near Cyprus, Cilicia, Pamphylia, and arrived at Myra. There, the centurion found an Alexandrian ship headed to Italy. They boarded this ship and departed. They sailed slowly for many days, as the wind made it difficult to sail. They continued to sail with difficulty near Cnidus and Crete off Salmone. Next, they arrived at Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. (1-8) A great amount of time had passed, and sailing became dangerous. Paul advised, "I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss..." The centurion ignored Paul, and rather listened to the helmsman and ship-owner, who considered the harbor "not suitable to winter in." The majority wanted to sail on to Phoenix, a harbor of Crete. (9-12) The south wind began to blow softly. Supposing this favorable, they put out to sea. They sailed close to Crete. Shortly after sailing, a "tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon." The ship was driven south of an island called Clauda. The sailors secured the ship with cables/ropes by passing them underneath the hull. The following day, they lightened the ship. The third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard. After several days in the storm, all hope was given up. They had not eaten for many days. Paul reminded them that he had recommended to not sail from Crete. Paul then assured them there would be no loss of life; only the ship would be lost. This message came from an angel of God. Paul affirmed his faith/trust in God that this surely would come to pass. Paul further revealed that the ship would run aground. After fourteen nights, the sailors sensed they were near land. They took soundings and determined they were nearing land. It was dark. They dropped four anchors to avoid running aground and prayed for daylight. The sailors lowered the skiff to appear that they were putting out more anchors; however, they intended to leave the ship. Paul told the centurion and soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved." The soldiers cut the ropes to the skiff and let it fall away. As the day dawned, Paul encouraged them to eat. It had been fourteen days since they had eaten. Paul indicated they needed food for nourishment and survival. He reminded them they all would be safe. Paul then took bread, gave thanks to God, and began to eat before them. They were all encouraged by Paul and ate as well. After they had eaten enough, they threw the wheat into the sea to lighten the ship. There were two hundred seventy-six people aboard the ship. (13-38) At daylight, they saw a bay with a beach, though they did not recognize the land. They desired to drive the ship onto the beach. They let the anchors go into the sea, hoisted the main sail, and headed for the beach. The ship ran aground "where two seas met" and the "prow stuck fast" - the ship was immovable. The waves violently began to break up the ship. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to keep any from escaping. The centurion stopped the soldiers' plan. He wanted to save Paul. The centurion commanded all who could swim to jump overboard and swim for shore. The rest floated on boards or parts of the ship. They all escaped safely to the island. (39-44) OUTLINE I. TRIP TO ROME BEGAN (1-8) A. SAILED A SHIP OF ADRAMYTTIUM (1-5) 1. It was decided that the prisoners should sail to Italy 2. Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment, took custody 3. They boarded a ship of Adramyttium to sail along the Asian coast 4. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, accompanied Paul 5. At Sidon, Julius treated Paul kindly a. Paul was allowed to go to his friends and receive care 6. They sailed near Cyprus, Cilicia, Pamphylia, and arrived at Myra B. SAILED A SHIP OF ALEXANDRIA (6-8) 1. At Myra, the centurion found an Alexandrian ship headed to Italy 2. They boarded this ship and departed a. They sailed slowly for many days b. The wind made it difficult to sail 3. They continued to sail with difficulty near Cnidus, Crete off Salmone 4. They arrived at Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea II. PAUL WARNED OF DISASTER (9-12) A. SAILING BECAME DANGEROUS; PAUL WARNED OF DISASTER (9-10) 1. Much time had passed, and sailing became dangerous 2. Paul advised, "I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss..." B. THE CENTURION IGNORED PAUL'S WARNING (11-12) 1. The centurion listened to the helmsman and ship-owner rather than Paul 2. They considered the harbor "not suitable to winter in" 3. The majority wanted to sail on to Phoenix, a harbor of Crete III. THE TEMPESTUOUS SEA (13-38) A. A FAVORABLE WIND BLEW (13) 1. The south wind blew softly 2. Supposing this favorable, they put out to sea 3. They sailed close to Crete B. THE TEMPEST BEGAN (14-20) 1. Shortly after sailing, a "tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon" 2. The ship was driven south of an island called Clauda 3. The sailors secured the ship with cables/ropes, passing them underneath 4. The following day, they lightened the ship 5. The third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard 6. After several days in the storm, all hope was given up C. PAUL ASSURED THE MEN OF SURVIVAL (21-26) 1. They had not eaten for many days 2. Paul reminded them: he had recommended to not sail from Crete 3. Paul then assured them there would be no loss of life; only the ship would be lost - the message came from an angel of God 4. Paul affirmed his trust in God to the men by saying, "for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me" 5. Paul further revealed that the ship would run aground D. THE CREW ATTEMPTED TO ABANDON THE SHIP (27-32) 1. After fourteen nights, the sailors sensed they were near land 2. They took soundings and determined they were nearing land 3. It was dark; they dropped four anchors to avoid running aground and prayed for daylight 4. The sailors lowered the skiff to appear they were putting out more anchors; but they intended to leave the ship 5. Paul told the centurion and soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved." 6. The soldiers cut the ropes to the skiff and let it fall away E. THE TEMPEST BEGAN (33-38) 1. As the day dawned, Paul encouraged them to eat; it had been fourteen days since they had eaten 2. Paul indicated they needed food for nourishment and survival 3. He reminded them they all would be safe 4. Paul took bread, gave thanks to God, and began to eat before them 5. They were all encouraged by Paul and ate as well 6. After they had eaten enough, they threw out the wheat to lighten the ship 7. There were two hundred seventy-six people aboard the ship IV. SHIPWRECKED AT MALTA (39-44) A. ATTEMPTED TO DRIVE THE SHIP ONTO THE BEACH (39-41) 1. At daylight, they saw a bay with a beach 2. They desired to drive the ship onto the beach 3. They let the anchors go into the sea, hoisted the main sail and headed for the beach 4. The ship ran aground "where two seas met" and the "prow stuck fast" - the ship was immovable 5. The waves violently began to break up the ship B. THEY SWAM AND/OR FLOATED TO SHORE; ALL WERE SAVED (42-44) 1. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to keep any from escaping 2. The centurion stopped the soldiers' plan a. He wanted to save Paul 3. The centurion commanded all who could swim to jump overboard and swim for shore a. The rest floated on boards or parts of the ship 4. They all escaped safely to the island REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main events in this chapter? - Paul's trip to Rome began (1-8) - Paul warned of a disaster and was ignored (9-12) - The tempestuous sea became disastrous for the ship (13-38) - All were saved in the shipwreck at Malta (39-44) 2) Where were they to sail? (1) - Italy (1) 3) To whom were the prisoners, including Paul, delivered? (1) - Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment (1) 4) Who was also sailing with Paul? (2) - Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica (2) - Luke was travelling along as well -- "we" and "us" (2) 5) How did the centurion treat Paul at Sidon? (3) - He treated Paul kindly and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care (3) 6) Why did they sail under the shelter of Cyprus? (4) - The winds were contrary (4) 7) Where did the centurion find the Alexandrian ship? (5-6) - Myra, a city of Lycia (6) 8) What caused the ship to sail slowly for many days? (7) - The wind did not permit them to proceed (7) 9) What was the name of the port near the city of Lasea? (8) - Fair Havens (8) 10) Now that the Fast was over, what was the condition for sailing? (9) - Sailing conditions were dangerous at that time of year (9) 11) Did the centurion heed Paul's warning? Who did he listen to? (11) - No, he was "more persuaded" by others (11) - The helmsman and the owner of the ship (11) 12) What did the majority advise to do? (12) - To set sail for Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, and winter there (12) 13) What did the sailors use to undergird the ship? Why? (17) - They used cables/ropes (17) - They afraid of running aground (17) 14) On the third day, what did they throw overboard? (18-19) - The ship's tackle (19) 15) What did the angel say to Paul? (23-24) - "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you." (24) 16) What did Paul tell them must happen? (26) - The ship must run aground on a certain island (26) 17) When the sailors sensed they were nearing land, what did they attempt to do? (27-30) - They let the skiff down under pretense of letting out more anchors (30) 18) What did Paul tell the centurion? What did the soldiers do? (31-32) - "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved." (31) - The soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall (32) 19) As Paul tried to convince them to eat, what did he assure them would not happen? (33-34) - "...not a hair will fall from the head of any of you" (34) 20) What did Paul do in the presence of all of them? (35) - He took bread, gave thanks to God, and began to eat (35) 21) How many people were on the ship? (37) - Two hundred seventy-six (37) 22) What did they do after they had all eaten enough? (38) - They lightened the ship and threw the wheat into the sea (38) 23) When it became day, what did they see? (39) - They say a bay with a beach (39) 24) As they attempted to run the ship onto the beach, what happened? (40-41) - They ran the ship aground where the two seas met; the ship was immovable and began to break up from the violent waves (41) 25) What did the soldiers plan to do to the prisoners? (42) - They planned to kill the prisoners, so none could escape (42) 26) Did the centurion go along with the plan? What did he do? Why? (43) - He did not go along with the soldiers' plan (43) - He commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard and get to land (43) - He wanted to save Paul (43) 27) How did the rest get to shore? How many escaped safely to land? (44) - They floated on boards and parts of the ship to land (44) - They all escaped safely to land (44)
Polygamy and the Quran
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Those people who have modeled their thinking after New Testament Christianity are, to say the least, a bit surprised (if not shocked and appalled) to learn that the religion of Islam countenances polygamy. But the Christian mind must realize that Muhammad’s Islam arose out of Arabia in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. The Arab culture was well-known for the practice of polygamy, in which the men were allowed to have as many wives as they desired. The Quran addressed this social circumstance by placing a limitation on the number of wives a man could have. The wording of the pronouncement is in a surah titled “Women”: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess” (Surah 4:3).
Setting aside the issue of why Muhammad himself was exempt from this limitation (Surah 33:50—seeMiller, “Muhammad’s Polygamy,” 2004), the divine origin of the Quran is discredited on the basis of its stance on polygamy. In the first place, for all practical purposes, the Quran authorizes a man to have as many wives as he chooses, since its teaching on divorce contradicts its teaching on marriage. Unlike the New Testament, which confines permission to divorce on the sole grounds of sexual unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:9), the Quran authorizes divorce for any reason (e.g., Surah 2:226-232,241; 33:4,49; 58:2-4; 65:1-7). If a man can divorce his wife for any reason, then the “command” that limits a man to four wives is effectively meaningless—merely restricting a man to four legal wivesat a time. Theoretically, a man could have an unlimited number of wives—all with the approval of God!
In the second place, Jesus declared in no uncertain terms that “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, emp. added). Jesus gave one, and only one, reason for divorce in God’s sight. In fact, even the Old Testament affirmed that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). The teaching of the Bible on divorce is a higher, stricter, nobler standard than the one advocated by the Quran. The two books, in fact, contradict each other on this point.
In the third place, why does the Quran stipulate the number “four”? Why not three or five wives? The number four would appear to be an arbitrary number with no significance—at least, none is given. Though the passage in question indicates the criterion of a man’s ability to do justice to those he marries, there is no reason to specify the number four, since men would vary a great deal in the number of women that they would have the ability to manage fairly.
The answer may be seen in the influence of the contemporaneous Jewish population of Arabia. Sixth century Arabia was a tribal oriented society that relied heavily on oral communication in social interactions. Muhammad would have been the recipient of considerable information conveyed orally by his Jewish, and even Christian, contemporaries. Many tales, fables, and rabbinical traditions undoubtedly circulated among the Jewish tribes of Arabia. The Jews themselves probably were lacking in book-learning, having been separated from the mainstream of Jewish thought and intellectual development in their migration to the Arabian peninsula. The evidence demonstrates that the author of the Quran borrowed extensively from Jewish and other sources. The ancient Talmudic record (Arbah Turim, Ev. Hazaer, 1) stated: “A man may marry many wives, for Rabba saith it is lawful to do so, if he can provide for them. Nevertheless, the wise men have given good advice, that a man should not marry more than four wives” (see Rodwell, 1950, p. 411; Tisdall, 1905, pp. 129-130). The similarity with the wording of the Quran is too striking to be coincidental. It can be argued quite convincingly that the magic number of four was drawn from currently circulating Jewish teaching.
Miller, Dave (2004), “Muhammad’s Polygamy,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2219.
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Tisdall, W. St. Clair (1905), The Original Sources of the Quran (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge).
Contents of the Ark of the Covenant
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Following Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God instructed them to make a small wooden ark (box) overlaid with gold. The ark was 2.5 cubits long, 1.5 cubits wide, and 1.5 cubits high (or about 3.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 feet) and was called the “Ark of the Testimony” or the “Ark of the Covenant” because it contained the tablets of stone whereon the Ten Commandments were written (Exodus 25:16). According to 1 Kings 8:9, “Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone” (emp. added; cf. 2 Chronicles 5:10). The writer of Hebrews, however, indicated that the ark contained “the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant” (9:4). How can both of these passages be correct?
First, it may be that the Hebrews writer was indicating that the pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tablets were in close proximity to the ark, but not necessarily that all three were “in” the ark. Although most English translations refer to what was “in” (NKJV; Greek en) the ark or what the ark “contained” (NIV, RSV), the uses of the Greek preposition en “are so many and various, and oft. so easily confused, that a strictly systematic treatment is impossible” (Danker, 2000, p. 326). Greek lexicographers give numerous definitions for this word, including: among, within the range of, near, before, in the presence of, etc. (Danker, pp. 326-330). Perhaps the writer of Hebrews only intended to communicate that Aaron’s rod, the container of manna, and the tablets of stone were all in close proximity to the ark in the Most Holy Place (the tablets being in the ark, while the manna and rod were “before” the ark; cf. Exodus 16:33-34; Numbers 17:10).
Second, it is also very possible that all three items were literally inside of the ark at one time, but not all of the time. Whenever comparing two or more Bible passages that might initially appear contradictory, one must be sure that the same time frame is under discussion. Such is not the case with Hebrews 9:4 and 1 Kings 8:9. In Hebrews 9, the inspired writer refers to the time of Moses, when “a tabernacle was prepared” (vs. 2; cf. Exodus 25-40). The statement in 1 Kings 8:9 (as well as 2 Chronicles 5:10) is from the time of Solomon, when he built the Temple, approximately 500 years after the tabernacle was constructed. Is it possible that the Ark of the Covenant once contained the tablets of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod, while at another time (i.e., five centuries later) the ark contained only the tablets of stone? Most certainly (cf. 1 Samuel 4-5).
What about the allegation that “Aaron’s staff could hardly have fit anyway, since the ark was a box only 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 cubits” (Wells, 2009)? The fact is, no one knows the length of Aaron’s rod. Rods served many purposes (e.g., for support, for administering punishment, as a symbol of authority, etc.; see Allen, 1996, p. 1022) and came in various sizes. In Aaron’s case, it appears that his rod was more of a symbol of his God-given authority than just a mere walking stick. What’s more, even if Aaron had used his rod for support, he may have only been five feet tall and needed a walking stick that was just 3½ feet long. Considering that an average walking cane today is only about three feet long, it should not be surprising that Aaron’s rod could have fit into a box that was nearly four feet long.
Indeed, the wording of 1 Kings 8:9 and Hebrews 9:4 are different. But reasonable explanations exist for the variation. There is no doubt that two different time periods are under discussion. Furthermore, as with many Hebrew and Greek words, it may be that the Greek en (in Hebrews 9:4) should be understood in a broader sense. Whatever the precise contents of the Ark of the Covenant at any given time in history, rest assured, 1 Kings 8:9 and Hebrews 9:4 are not contradictory.
Allen, L.C. (1996), “Rod,” New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), third edition.
Danker, Fredrick William (2000), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago), third edition.
Wells, Steve (2009), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL:http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/.
Atheist Blogger Leah Libresco Converted to Theism by Morality
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
On June 18, 2012 well-known, much-read atheistic blogger Leah Libresco put out a blog post titled: “This Is My Last Post for the Patheos Atheist Portal.” In the post, Libresco explained that she was no longer writing for the atheist portal because she is no longer an atheist. During the months prior to the post, her mental struggles and rational investigations led her to the conclusion that God exists.
What was the primary factor that forced Libresco to this theistic conclusion? She explained that morality was the key. Throughout her time as an atheist, she struggled to come to grips with how humans can adhere to a morality that seems objective if there is no God. As she searched for answers among atheistic thinkers and writers, she admitted that their answers were inadequate. She stated:
I’ve heard some explanations that try to bake morality into the natural world by reaching for evolutionary psychology. They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else. Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both. I didn’t think the answer was there (2012).
When pressed by a friend to give an answer for the foundation for morality, Libresco was forced to admit that her atheism could not provide an explanation. Did she know where an answer could be found? She stated: “It turns out I did. I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth.” The Person, of course, to which she is referring is God.
In an interview with a CNN news reporter, Libresco noted that her conversion to theism was “kinda the same thing with any scientific theory, almost, that it had more explanatory power to explain something I was really sure of. I’m really sure that morality is objective, human independent; something we uncover like archaeologists not something we build like architects” (“Atheist Becomes Catholic,” 2012).
Libresco’s intellectual honesty regarding morality is refreshing to see. Theists have long understood and irrefutably shown that morality is objective, and atheism is impotent to provide an explanation for this reality (see Butt, 2002; 2010, pp. 87-123,204). Without a belief in a personal God from Whose character morality flows, the words “right” and “wrong” have no meaning in a moral discussion. Yet every person who is thinking honestly and rationally must admit that some things are objectively right and some things are objectively wrong. When such an admission is made, it inevitably leads to “some kind of Person, as well as Truth.” Thus, “In the beginning, God…” becomes the only statement with enough explanatory value to adequately deal with objective morality.
“Atheist Becomes Catholic” (2012), http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/22/prominent-atheist-blogger-converts-to-catholicism/.
Butt, Kyle (2002), “Right, Wrong, and God’s Existence,”http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=878&topic=95.
Butt, Kyle (2010), A Christians Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Libresco, Leah (2012), “This is My Last Post for the Patheos Atheist Portal,” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/2012/06/this-is-my-last-post-for-the-patheos-atheist-portal.html.
Baptism and the Philippian Jailer
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Most of Christendom has decided that water baptism is neither a prerequisite, nor necessary, to salvation. Influenced largely by the Protestant Reformation, people have become convinced that forgiveness of sin by the blood of Christ is achieved at the very moment a person “believes”—by which they mean when a person, in his or her own mind, “accepts” Christ as Lord and Savior. To them, the external act of water baptism is considered to be simply an after-the-fact outward “symbol” or “badge” that “declares” the Christian’s already-secured salvation. One passage used to support this thinking is the account of the conversion of the Roman jailer in Philippi (Acts 16). However, a careful study of the entire episode yields quite a different conclusion.
When an earthquake rocked the prison where Paul and Silas were fastened in stocks, the jailer assumed his prisoners had escaped. In view of the fact that Roman law would have required the jailer’s life as the penalty for losing the prisoners who had been placed in his charge (see Ramsay, 1897, p. 222; cf. Acts 12:19), he drew his sword and was about to take his own life. But Paul called out loudly, encouraging the jailer to refrain from harming himself, reassuring him that no prisoner had escaped. Calling for a light, he ran into the prison and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then, bringing them out of the prison, the jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
What did the jailer mean by this statement? As a heathen Roman (cf. Alford, 1980, 2:184), he no doubt had been exposed to Greek/Roman mythology his entire life. Christianity had been introduced into Macedonia only days earlier when Paul arrived in Philippi (16:12; cf. Ramsay, p. 215). So it is unlikely that he possessed more than a cursory understanding of the Christian notion of salvation from sin. But events occurred in those days leading up to his conversion that may account for the jailer’s question.
Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days (Acts 16:16-18, emp. added).
Observe that the demon within the girl announced to the citizens of Philippi over a period of “many days” the fact that Paul and Silas were representatives of the one true God, and that they possessed the information that would show people the way to salvation. In all likelihood, the jailer would have heard this declaration either firsthand or through the reports of friends, neighbors, relatives, or other townspeople.
When Paul finally expelled the demon from the girl, her irate masters assaulted him and Silas, dragged them before the magistrates of the city, and subjected them to the legal proceedings that ultimately landed them in the prison where they encountered the jailer. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the jailer was privy to these proceedings, which surely would have included reference to their alleged identity as “servants of the Most High God” who had information pertaining to “the way of salvation.”
A third means by which the jailer could have come into possession of sufficient information that would account for the phrasing of his question can be seen in verse 25: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” The jailer may well have heard the hymns that Paul and Silas sang—songs that would have included references to God, Christ, and salvation.
These three circumstances may account for the jailer’s request to be informed about salvation—albeit, even then, his understanding must have been very piecemeal. Paul’s response to the jailer’s question was: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (vs. 31). What did Paul mean by this statement? If he meant what many within Christendom think he meant, that is, if the jailer already knew who Jesus was, and if Paul was urging him simply to believe (i.e., simply to “accept Christ into his heart as his personal savior”), then we should next expect the text to provide the jailer’s response—something to the effect that the jailer accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, or that he believed on Jesus right then and there and was saved.
However, to the contrary, the text says: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him” (vs. 32). Why? Didn’t Paul just do that by telling the jailer to believe? Apparently not! Paul later wrote that “faith comes by hearing...the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So the jailer needed to hear additional information that would enable him to know what it means to believe in Jesus. It follows, then, that the instruction, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” was simply a broad, sweeping statement intended to redirect the jailer’s then-present religious attachment to the pagan gods of Greek/Roman mythology toward the true object of belief—Christ. It was a way to reorient the jailer’s thinking in the direction of Jesus, as contrasted with his own pagan notions. But simply telling the jailer (or anyone today) to “believe on Jesus” does not provide sufficient information on how to believe. In other words, there ismore to “believing on Jesus” than simply affirming in one’s mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior (a fact readily conceded even by Satan and the demons—Genesis 3:15; Matthew 4:3,6; Luke 22:31; Hebrews 2:14; James 2:19; Revelation 12:4ff.).
It was only in speaking the word of the Lord to the jailer that he could understand who Christ is, what Christianity is about, and the proper response to the preached Word—i.e., what it means to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Since the jailer could not be saved before Paul spoke the Word of the Lord to him, observe the sequence of events that the text reports immediately after the Word was spoken to him.
(1) The jailer took Paul and Silas “the same hour of the night and washed their stripes” (Acts 16:33). Here is evidence of repentance (e.g., Matthew 3:8). Here is evidence that the jailer was convinced by the information that had been given to him, to the extent that he wanted to make things right. That is repentance—a change of mind resulting in appropriate outward actions (Matthew 21:29; 2 Corinthians 7:10).
(2) The text then states: “And immediately he and all his family were baptized.” Three aspects of this sentence are noteworthy. First, if baptism is unnecessary to salvation, why even mention it with regard to the conversion of the jailer? Why not simply proceed in the narrative to the outcome of conversion—i.e., some indication that he was now saved? If baptism is nonessential, instead of reading, “And immediately he and all his family were baptized,” one would expect the text to read, “And immediately he and all his family accepted Jesus as their personal Savior.” Second, where did the jailer get the idea that he needed to be baptized? It had to have been included in Paul’s “speaking the word of the Lord” to him. But if the jailer could not be saved until Paul “spoke the word of the Lord” to him, and if Paul included in that “word of the Lord” the doctrine of baptism, then it follows that the jailer’s salvation depended in part on baptism. Third, why “immediately”? Many within Christendom wait a week, a month, or longer before baptizing believers. Why was the jailer baptized immediately in the middle of the night? The implication is that baptism is more crucial and more urgent than many today think.
(3) At this point in Luke’s narrative, we are informed that the jailer brought Paul and Silas into his home, and then he set food before them. Next, we are informed that the jailer “rejoiced” (vs. 34). When does the text indicate that the jailer manifested signs of joy and happiness (that naturally follow conversion)—before or after baptism? After baptism! In fact, every time rejoicing is explicitly alluded to in the conversion accounts of Acts, it is always after baptism (e.g., 2:46—“gladness”; 8:39—“rejoicing”).
(4) Everything up to this point leads one to the conclusion that baptism was part and parcel of the jailer’s conversion, and preceded his salvation as the culminating act. But here is the clincher. Look carefully at the phrase in verse 34: “having believed in God.” Here is a clear, explicit indication that the jailer was now a saved believer. In the Greek, the expression “having believed” (pepisteukos) is in the perfect tense. There is no English tense corresponding to the Greek perfect. Consider the following brief explanation by Greek grammarians Dana and Mantey.
The perfect is the tense of complete action. Its basal significance is the progress of an act or state to a point of culmination and the existence of its finished results. That is, it views action as a finished product…. It implies a process, but views that process ashaving reached its consummation and existing in a finished state (1927, p. 200, emp. added).
Greek scholar Ray Summers offered another helpful explanation of the Greek perfect tense:
[I]t indicates a completed action with a resulting state of being. The primary emphasis is on the resulting state of being. Involved in the Greek perfect are three ideas: an action inprogress, its coming to a point of culmination, its existing as a completed result. Thus it implies a process but looks upon the process as having reached a consummation and existing as a completed state (1950, p. 103, italics in orig., emp. added).
In light of the thrust of the Greek perfect tense, Luke was making the point that the jailer went through a process of several actions before it could be stated that he was in possession of a saving faith in God. His initial belief that came as a result of hearing the Word of the Lord preached to him, led to his repentance (as evinced by his attending Paul and Silas’ wounds), and then culminated in his baptism in water—bringing his faith to a completed result. Only at this point could the Greek perfect tense be used to indicate that the jailer now stood in a completed state of having believed. Luke was careful to refrain from labeling the jailer as a “believer” until all of the prerequisites to salvation had been completed, thereby bringing his faith to its finished state. This observation was acknowledged by R.J. Knowling while professor of New Testament Exegesis at King’s College in London: “[T]he wordpepisteukos, perfect participle, shows that this fullness of joy was caused by his full profession of belief; it was the joy of the Holy Ghost which followed his baptism” (n.d., 2:353, italics in orig., emp. added).
This understanding of the conversion account of the Philippian jailer is in perfect concord with the other conversion accounts given in Acts (e.g., Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:12-13,36-39; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15; 18:8; 19:5). The New Testament designates water immersion as the point in time at which God cleanses the sin-stained spirit of the penitent believer by the blood of Christ (cf. Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4).
Dana, H.E. and Julius Mantey (1927), A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto, Canada: Macmillan, 1957 reprint).
Knowling, R.J. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament: The Acts of the Apostles, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Ramsay, William (1897), St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1962 reprint).
Summers, Ray (1950), Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Is Jesus Really Michael the Archangel?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Jesus is not God and never claimed to be” (“Should You Believe…?,” 2000). Rather, Jesus can be understood “from the scriptures to be Michael the Archangel” (The Watchtower, 1979, p. 29). “Michael the great prince is none other than Jesus Christ himself,” they allege (The Watchtower, 1984, p. 29). The May 15, 1969 issue of Jehovah’s Witnesses’Watchtower magazine suggested: “There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return” (p. 307). Where is the “scriptural evidence” for such a doctrine? In an article titled “The Truth About Angels” that appears on the official web site of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.watchtower.org), 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude 9 were the only two passages listed as proof that “the foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael” (2001).
Michael the archangel is mentioned only five times in the Bible (Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7), and yet never do these passages indicate that he is to be equated with the preincarnate Christ, nor with the ascended Jesus. First Thessalonians 4:16 also alludes to “an archangel,” and, although the name Michael is not mentioned, this is the passage Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently cite as proof of Jesus being the archangel. Concerning the Second Coming of Christ, Paul wrote: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (emp. added). Supposedly, since Jesus is described as descending from heaven “with the voice of an archangel,” then He must be the archangel Michael. However, this verse does not teach that Jesus is an archangel, but that at His Second Coming He will be accompanied “with the voice of an archangel.” Just as He will be attended “with a shout” and “with the trumpet of God,” so will He be accompanied “with the voice of an archangel.” Question: If Jesus’ descension from heaven “with the voice of an archangel” makes Him (as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim) the archangel Michael, then does His descent “with the trumpet of God” not also make Him God? Jehovah’s Witnesses reject this latter conclusion, yet they accept the first. Such inconsistency is one proof of their erroneous teachings about Jesus.
One of the strongest arguments against Jesus being an angel is found in the book of Hebrews. In chapter one, the writer of Hebrews showed the superiority of Jesus over the angelic beings, and contrasted Him with them.
For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? (1:5-13).
Jesus’ superiority over the angels is seen in the fact that the Father spoke to Jesus as His special begotten Son to Whom He gave the seat of honor at His right hand (1:5,13). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews indicated that God commanded all angels to worship Jesus (1:6; cf. Revelation 5:11-13; Philippians 2:10). Yet, if Jesus were an angel, how could He accept the worship of other “lesser” angels when, according to Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9, angels do not accept worship, but rather preach the worship of God, and no other? Hebrews chapter one is a death knell to the idea of Jesus, the Son of God, being Michael, the archangel. [NOTE: Interestingly, John H. Paton, the most frequently used contributing writer in 1879 of Charles Taze Russel (the founder of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), admitted such when he stated in The Watchtower magazine near the end of its inaugural year: “Hence it is said, ‘let all the angels of God worship him’: (that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God)…” (1879, p. 4, emp. added). Sadly, even though Paton rejected the idea of Jesus being Michael the archangel, and even though Russell, The Watchtower's founder and first editor and publisher, allowed such a teaching in the magazine's first year of publication, Jehovah’s Witnesses today hold firmly to the doctrine that Jesus is Michael, the archangel.]
The writer of Hebrews returned to the subject of Jesus’ superiority over angels in chapter two, saying, “He [God] has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels” (2:5). To whom will the world be in subjection? Scripture indicates that it would be Jesus, “the appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2). “All authority” has been given, not to any angel, but to Jesus (Matthew 28:18). All angels, authorities, and powers “have been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him” (Hebrews 2:8, NIV, emp. added). Jesus, therefore, is not Michael, the archangel, “for it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5, RSV).
One final proof that Jesus is not Michael the archangel actually comes from one of the five passages in which Michael’s name is found in Scripture—Jude 9. According to Jude: “Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” Whereas Michael would not dare pronounce a railing judgment against the devil (cf. 2 Peter 2:11), Jesus once declared about Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Jesus did not approach the subject of rebuking Satan with the same hesitation as godly angels like Michael. Jesus, as Lord of heaven and Earth (Matthew 28:18), boldly called the devil a murderer and liar, and even went so far as to declare that “there is no truth in him.” The Son of God obviously is not Michael the archangel.
I find it extremely puzzling how Jehovah’s Witnesses can conclude that there is no biblical proof of Jesus being deity, and yet at the same time allege that “[t]here is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return” (Watchtower, 1969, p. 307, emp. added). Where is the evidence? There is none. Jesus is not Michael the archangel; rather, He is exactly Who the apostle John said He was (John 1:1,14), Who Thomas said He was (John 20:28), and even Who His enemies accused Him of making Himself (John 5:18; 10:33). Jesus is God!
“Should You Believe in the Trinity?” (2000), [On-line], URL: http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/index.htm.
The Truth About Angels (2001), [On-line], URL: http://www.watchtower.org/library/w/1995/11/1/the_truth_about_angels.htm, originally appeared inThe Watchtower, November 1, 1995.
The Watchtower, 1879, November.
The Watchtower, 1969, May 15.
The Watchtower, 1979, February 15.
The Watchtower, 1984, December 15.
“With God One Day is a Thousand Years”?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
If I had a dollar for each time I heard someone use this phrase to add thousands of years to the biblical, six-day Creation, I finally might be able to purchase that newer model minivan my wife would love to have. It seems as if whenever there is a discussion of the days of Creation, someone mentions how those days may have been long periods of time. After all, the Bible does say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” Does this phrase really support the Day-Age Theory as many suggest?
First, the Bible does not say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” The apostle Peter actually wrote: “[B]eloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Peter used a figure of speech known as a simile to compare a day to a thousand years. It is not that one day is precisely equivalent to 1,000 years or vice versa. Rather, within the specific context of 2 Peter 3, one could say that they share a likeness.
What is the context of 2 Peter 3? In this passage, Peter reminded Christians that “scoffers” would arise in the last days saying, “Where is the promise of His [Jesus’] coming?” (vss. 3-4). Peter declared: “[T]he heavens and the earth...are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (vs. 7). Regardless of what the scoffers alleged about the Second Coming, Peter wanted the church to know that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise [of a return], as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (vs. 9). Sandwiched between these thoughts is the fact that the passing of time does not affect God’s promises, specifically the promise of His return. If Jesus promised to return 1,000 or 2,000 years ago, it is as good as if He made the promise yesterday. Indeed, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” With men, the passing of long periods of time generally affects their keeping of promises, but not with God. Time has no bearing on whether He will do what He said He would do: “a thousand years are like a day” (vs. 8, NIV).
Another point to consider is that Peter used the term “day” (Greek hemera) and the phrase “thousand years” (chilia ete). This in itself is proof that God is able to communicate to man the differencebetween one day and 1,000 years. (For similes to make sense, one first must understand the literal difference between what is being compared. If there were no difference, then it would be meaningless to use such a figure of speech.) What’s more, within Genesis chapter one God used the terms “days” (Hebrew yamim) and “years” (shanim). Many rightly have questioned, “If a day in Genesis is really a thousand years (or some other long period of time), then what are the years mentioned in Genesis chapter one?” Such a definition of “days” makes a reasonable interpretation of Creation impossible. The facts are: (1) God knows the difference between a day and a thousand years; (2) Peter and Moses understood this difference; (3) their original audience comprehended the difference; and (4) any unbiased reader today can do the same.
Finally, even if 2 Peter 3:8 could be tied to the length of the Creation days (logically and biblically it cannot), adding 6,000 years to the age of the Earth would in no way appease evolutionary sympathizers. A person could add 600,000 years or 600 million years and still not come close to the alleged age of the Universe. According to evolutionary calculations, one would still be 13+ billion years away from the Big Bang and four billion years this side of the formation of Earth. Truly, even an abuse of 2 Peter 3:8 will not help Day-Age theorists.
Adult Stem Cells Match the Potential of Embryonic Stem Cells
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
For years, ethical issues have plagued the development of embryonic stem-cell research in America (cf. Bush, 2001). Despite its slight potential for therapeutic benefits in the distant future, embryonic stem-cell research has been shown to be unethical because it necessitates killing people (seeThompson and Harrub, 2001; cf. Gibson, 2007; Colley, 2007). Scientists also have known for several years that adult stem-cell research has yielded greater results than embryonic stem-cell research (see Harrub and Thompson, 2004; Miller, 2007). Unlike embryonic stem-cells, however, adult stem-cells are only partially pluripotent, “capable of forming several cell types—principally blood, muscle, and nerve cells. It has been possible to recognize, select, and develop them to the point that they form mature cell types with the help of growth factors and regulating proteins” (Lillge, 2001; cf. “Stem Cell Basics,” 2006).
Now, it has been demonstrated that adult skin cells not only can be “reprogrammed” to assume earlier levels of development, but they actually can be transformed into “blank slates that should be able to turn into any of the 220 cell types of the human body, be it heart, brain, blood or bone” (Kolata, 2007). This method allows for the development of truly pluripotent cells without resorting to “therapeutic” cloning or the destruction of embryos (see Kolata, 2007). Stem-cells from adults may offer hope of developing therapies for patients suffering from diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s (see McIlroy, 2007).
Kyoto University’s Shinya Yamanaka and his colleagues “used a retrovirus to ferry into adult cells the same four genes they had previously employed to reprogram mouse cells” (Vogel and Holden, 2007, 318:1224). Yamanaka’s group reported on November 21:
Human iPS [induced pluripotent stem—CC] cells were similar to human embryonic stem (ES) cells in morphology, proliferation, surface antigens, gene expression, epigenetic status or pluripotent cell-specific genes, and telomerase activity. Furthermore, these cells could differentiate into cell types of the three germ layers in vitro and in teratomas. These findings demonstrate that iPS cells can be generated from adult human fibroblasts (Takahashi, et al., 2007, 131:1 parenthetical item in orig.).
James Thompson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his colleagues were performing similar experiments and reported their findings at virtually the same time (Vogel and Holden, 2007). He toldScience that the reprogrammed adult skin cells “act just like human ES cells” (Vogel and Hogel, 2007, 318:1225).
Researchers agree that the next step is to learn how to reprogram cells without inserting new genes (318:1225). Stem-cell researcher Douglas Melton of Harvard University, commented: “It’s almost inconceivable at the pace this science is moving that we won’t find a way to do this without oncogenes or retroviruses” (quoted in Vogel and Holden, 318:1225). Gibson’s observation that adult stem-cells are “superior to both umbilical and embryonic stem cells” carries even more weight in light of current developments (2007). In view of the general desire to develop cures for major diseases, and the respect for the sanctity of human life, we suspect the pattern of developing nonviolent means of therapeutic research will continue. As it does, we will continue to be impressed by the striking evidence for an intelligent Designer, and recall His strictures against murder (see Miller, 2003).
Bush, George W. (2001), “Remarks by the President on Stem-Cell Research,” [On-line], URL:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010809-2.html.
Colley, Caleb (2007), “Therapeutic Embryonic Stem-Cell Research ‘Just Not Realistic’,” [On-line],URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3504.
Gibson, Robert (2007), “Stem Cell Research Is Good News for Heart Patients,” The Epoch Times, [On-line], URL: http://en.epochtimes.com/news/7-10-11/60678.html.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2004), “Presidential Elections, Superman, Embryonic Stem Cells, Bad Science, and False Hope,” [On-line] URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2621.
Kolata, Gina (2007), “Scientists Bypass Need for Embryo to Get Stem Cells,” The New York Times, [On-line], URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/science/21stem.html.
Lillge, Wolfgang (2001), “The Case for Adult Stem Cell Research,” 21st Century Science and Technology Magazine, [On-line], URL: http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/winter01/stem_cell.html.
McIlroy, Anne (2007), “Stem-Cell Method Hailed as ‘Massive Breakthrough’,” The Globe and Mail, [On-line], URL: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071121. wstemcells21/BNStory/Science/home.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Abortion and the Bible,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1964.
Miller, Dave (2007), “Adult Stem-Cell Research,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3272.
“Stem Cell Basics” (2006), The National Institutes of Health, [On-line], URL: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics5.asp.
Takahashi, Kazutoshi, et al. (2007), “Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Adult Human Fibroblasts by Defined Factors,” Cell, 131:1-12, November, [On-line], URL: http://images.cell.com/images/Edimages/Cell/IEPs/3661.pdf.
Thompson, Bert and Brad Harrub (2001), “Human Cloning and Stem-Cell Research—Science’s ‘Slippery Slope’ [Part III],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2510.
Vogel, Gretchen and Constance Holden (2007), “Field Leaps Forward With New Stem Cell Advances,” Science, 318:1224-1225, November 23.