"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Chapter Five OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To appreciate the need for patience in times of oppression 2) To see the value of prayer and confessing sins in times of sickness SUMMARY The final chapter opens with a strong condemnation toward the rich who were oppressing the poor while living in pleasure and luxury. Most likely these were rich unbelievers such as those mentioned earlier (cf. 2:6-7). The Lord heard the cries of those defrauded, and judgment was to come upon the rich who had condemned and murdered the just. This passage may be an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24 and fulfilled in A.D. 70. James counsels his brethren to patiently wait for the coming of the Lord, and to establish their hearts. Appealing to the farmer, the prophets, and to Job as examples of patience, he also warns against grumbling against one another and swearing rash oaths (1-12). The last half of the chapter provides a call to prayer and praise. The suffering are to pray, the cheerful are to sing praises, and the sick are to call for the elders of the church. The elders were to pray over the sick and anoint with oil in the name of the Lord. What is uncertain is whether the anointing was sacramental or medicinal (I think the latter, see Review Questions below). In answer to the prayer of faith, the Lord will raise the sick and also forgive sins if they had been committed. In this context James encourages Christians to confess their sins to one another and pray for one another that they may be healed. He reminds them of the value of fervent prayer by the righteous, using Elijah as an example of how God answers prayer providentially. The epistle then closes with a reminder that turning a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (13-20). OUTLINE I. TRUE RELIGION DISPLAYS PATIENCE UNDER OPPRESSION (1-12) A. GOD'S ANGER AT RICH OPPRESSORS (1-6) 1. The rich are called to weep and howl for the miseries to come upon them a. Their riches are corrupted b. Their garments are moth-eaten c. Their gold and silver are corroded 1) Which will be a witness against them 2) Which will eat their flesh like fire d. They have heaped up treasure in the last days 2. The reasons for God's anger against the rich a. They have defrauded the laborers who mowed their fields 1) Keeping back wages owed them 2) The cries of the reapers have been heard by the Lord of Sabaoth (Hosts) b. They have lived in pleasure and luxury, fattening their hearts in a day of slaughter c. They have condemned and murdered the just who does not resist them B. A CALL FOR PATIENCE UNDER OPPRESSION (7-12) 1. Be patient until the coming of the Lord a. Consider the patience of the farmer b. Establish your hears, for the coming of the Lord is at hand 2. Do not grumble against one another a. Lest you be condemned b. The Judge is standing at the door 3. Remember the examples of suffering and patience a. Such as the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord and are blessed for their endurance b. Such as the perseverance of Job, to whom the Lord proved very compassionate and merciful at the end 4. Above all, do not swear (make rash oaths) a. Either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath b. Let your "Yes" mean "Yes," and your "No" mean "No" c. Lest you fall into judgment II. TRUE RELIGION BLESSED THROUGH PRAYER, SINGING, AND CONCERN FOR THE ERRING (13-20) A. THE BLESSING OF PRAYER AND SONG (13-18) 1. If anyone is suffering, let him pray 2. If anyone is cheerful, let him sing psalms 3. If anyone is sick, let him call for the elders of the church a. Let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord b. The prayer of faith will save (heal) the sick, and the Lord will raise him up c. If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven d. Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another 1) That you may be healed 2) For the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much a) The example of Elijah, a man with a nature like ours b) He prayed that it would not rain, and no rain fell for three years c) He prayed again, the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit B. THE BLESSING OF LOVE FOR ERRING BRETHREN (19-20) 1. He who turns back one who wanders from the truth will save a soul from death 2. He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will cover a multitude of sins REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - True religion displays patience under oppression (1-12) - True religion blessed through prayer, singing, and concern for the erring (13-20) 2) Who is being condemned in verses 1-6 of this chapter? (1) - Those who are rich (probably unbelievers who had been oppressing Christians, cf. Jm 2:6-7) 3) What sort of miseries were to come upon them? (1-3) - Their riches are to be corrupted, their garments moth-eaten - Their gold and silver will be corroded, and serve as a witness against them - Such corrosion will eat their flesh like fire 4) Why is God so angry at these rich? (3-6) - They have heaped up treasure in the last days - They have defrauded their workers by keeping back what is owed them - They have lived in pleasure and luxury, fattening their hearts - They have condemned and murdered the just, who does not resist them 5) What are the Christians to do in response to such oppression? (7-12) - Be patient until the coming of the Lord - Establish their hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand - Don't grumble against one another, for the Judge is standing at the door - Do not swear (make rash oaths), but let their "yes" be "yes" and their "no" mean "no" 6) What three examples does James provide to encourage patience? (7-11) - The farmer who waits patiently for the precious fruit of the earth - The prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord - The perseverance of Job 7) What does James encourage one to do when suffering? When cheerful? (13) - To pray when suffering - To sing praises when cheerful 8) What is one who is sick to do? (14) - Call for the elders of the church 9) What are they to do? (14) - Pray over the sick, anointing with oil in the name of the Lord 10) Is "anointing with oil" sacramental or medicinal? - "Some commentators consider this anointing with oil to be a sacramental anointing, but others consider it a medicinal anointing. In defense of the medicinal anointing, Burdick wrote the following: `There are a number of reasons for understanding this application of oil as medicinal rather than sacramental. The word aleipsantes ("anoint") is not the usual word for sacramental or ritualistic anointing. James could have used the verb chrio if that had been what he had in mind. The distinction is still observed in modern Greek, with aleipho meaning "to daub," "to smear," and chrio meaning "to anoint." Furthermore, it is a well-documented fact that oil was one of the most common medicines of biblical times. See Isaiah 1:6 and Luke 10:34. Josephus (Antiquities, 17, 172 [vi. 5]) reports that during his last illness Herod the Greek was given a bath in oil in hopes of effecting a cure. The papyri, Philo, Pliny, and the physician Galen all refer to the medicinal use of oil. Galen described it as "the best of all remedies for paralysis" (Deut Simplicium Medicamentorum Temperamentis, 2.10ff.). It is evident, then, that James is prescribing prayer and medicine.'" (New Commentary, James, Fausset, and Brown) 11) What will save (or heal) the sick? Who will raise him up? (15) - The prayer of faith - The Lord 12) What if the one who is sick has committed sins? (15) - He will be forgiven 13) What are Christians to do? Why? (16) - Confess sins one to another and pray for one another - That they may be healed 14) What avails much? Who is a good illustration of this? (16-18) - The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man - Elijah 15) What happens when one turns a sinner from the error of his way? (19-20) - A soul is saved from death - A multitude of sins is covered
"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Chapter Four OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To gain insight into the source of wars and fighting, even among brethren 2) To see the importance and means of befriending God, of not speaking evil of brethren, and planning for the future with the Lord's will in mind SUMMARY James asks his readers to consider the source of wars and fights among themselves. He identifies the problem as their own desires for pleasure which war within themselves. Perhaps exaggerating for the sake of emphasis, he describes their lust and coveting (even murder!) for things they do not have and cannot obtain. It renders their prayers fruitless, for they have selfish motives in mind. Sounding like an Old Testament prophet, James charges them with adultery for trying to befriend the world. Becoming a friend of the world leads to enmity with God, who jealously desires us. But if they are willing to humble themselves, God is willing to show more grace (1-6). James therefore counsels them to draw near to God in humble submission, with clean hands, purity of heart, and true contrition. He warns against speaking evil of brethren and judging one another, lest they become judges and not doers of the law. The chapter ends with a call to make plans with the Lord's will in mind, for we have no idea what the morrow holds and life is short. Otherwise we boast in our arrogance and sin when we fail to do what we know is good (7-17). OUTLINE I. TRUE RELIGION DOES NOT BEFRIEND THE WORLD (1-6) A. THE SOURCE OF WARS AND FIGHTS (1-3) 1. From within, from desires that war in one's members 2. Such as lust (envy), murder (hate?), coveting, which do not give what one seeks 3. Leading to unanswered prayers, due to selfishness B. FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD IS ENMITY WITH GOD (4-6) 1. Whoever wants to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God 2. Even as the Scripture warns, and not in vain 3. While God resists the proud, He is willing to give grace to the humble II. TRUE RELIGION DRAWS NEAR TO GOD (7-17) A. BY SUBMITTING TO GOD'S AUTHORITY (7-12) 1. Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee 2. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you a. Cleanse your hands, sinners b. Purify your hearts, double-minded c. Mourn and weep for your sins d. Humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up 3. Let God be the Lawgiver and Judge a. Do not speak evil of one another and judge one another 1) Otherwise you speak evil of the law and judge the law 2) Otherwise you are not a doer of the law, but a judge b. When there is really only one Lawgiver who is able to save and destroy B. BY SUBMITTING TO GOD'S WILL (13-17) 1. We should be careful in making plans for the future a. We do not know what will happen tomorrow b. Life is but a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes 2. Therefore we should acknowledge "If the Lord wills" in our plans a. Otherwise we boast in arrogance, which is evil b. For one to know to do good and not do it, that is sin REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - True religion does not befriend the world (1-6) - True religion draws near to God (7-17) 2) Where do wars and fights find their origin? (1-2) - Our desires for pleasure that war in our members - Lusting and coveting for things we do not have and cannot obtain 3) Why do some not receive what they ask for? (3) - They ask for the wrong reason, e.g., for personal pleasures 4) What does James call those who would be a friend of the world? (4) - Adulterers and adulteresses - An enemy of God 5) What possible translations for the Scripture quoted in verse 5? - "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously" (NKJV) - "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy" (KJV) - "the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely" (NIV) - "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us" (NASB) 6) Whom does God resist? To whom does He give more grace? (6) - The proud - The humble 7) What counsel does James give to those tempted by the world? (7-10) - Submit to God - Resist the devil and he will flee from you - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you - Cleanse your hands - Purify your hearts - Lament, mourn, and weep - Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom - Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up 8) Why should one not speak evil of a brother? (11) - They then speak evil of the law and judge the law - They become a judge, rather than a doer of the law 9) What other reasons does James give for not judging one another? (12) - There is one Lawgiver who is able to save and destroy - Who are we to judge another? 10) Why should we be careful about the plans we make? (13-14) - We do not know what will happen tomorrow - Our life is only a vapor that appears for a short while 11) With what qualification can one make plans for the future? (15) - If the Lord wills 12) Of what is one guilty when plans are made without considering the Lord's will? (16) - Boasting in one's arrogance 13) Of what is one guilty if they know what is good, but fail to do it? (17) - Sin
"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Chapter Three OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To appreciate the power and danger of the tongue 2) To understand the difference between heavenly wisdom, and that which is earthly, sensual, and demonic SUMMARY James begins this chapter with a caution against many becoming teachers. In view of the stricter judgment that awaits teachers, one should be sure they possess the maturity and self-control necessary to control the tongue. James then provides a series of illustrations to demonstrate the power and danger of the tongue, and how we can easily be inconsistent in our use of it (1-12). Perhaps some sought to be teachers so as to appear wise. Yet James writes that wisdom and understanding are to be shown by one's conduct, done in meekness. He then defines and contrasts the difference between two kinds of wisdom. There is wisdom which is earthly that causes confusion and every evil thing. On the other hand, there is wisdom which is heavenly that produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness (13-18). OUTLINE I. TRUE RELIGION CONTROLS THE TONGUE (1-12) A. A CAUTION AGAINST BECOMING TEACHERS (1-2) 1. Teachers shall receive a stricter judgment 2. Maturity and self-control are required not to stumble in word B. THE POWER OF THE TONGUE (3-4) 1. Like a bit which controls the horse 2. Like a small rudder which directs the ship C. THE DANGER OF THE TONGUE (5-6) 1. A little member which boasts great things 2. Like a little fire which kindles a great forest fire 3. Indeed, the tongue can be a fire, a world of iniquity a. Capable of defiling the whole body b. Capable of setting on fire the course of nature, being set on fire by hell D. THE DIFFICULTY OF TAMING THE TONGUE (7-12) 1. Man can control creatures of land and sea, but not the tongue 2. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison 3. With it we bless God, and then curse man made in His image a. Thus blessing and cursing proceed from the same mouth b. Something which should not be so 1) For no spring sends forth both fresh and salt water 2) Neither does a fig tree bear olives, nor a grapevine bear figs II. TRUE RELIGION DISPLAYS HEAVENLY WISDOM (13-18) A. THE TRUE DISPLAY OF WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING (13) 1. To be seen in one's conduct 2. With works done in meekness B. THE DISPLAY OF EARTHLY WISDOM (14-16) 1. Full of bitter envy, self-seeking, boasting and lying 2. A wisdom not from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic 3. Producing confusion and every evil thing C. THE DISPLAY OF HEAVENLY WISDOM (17-18) 1. Wisdom from above is first pure, then it is... a. Peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits b. Without partiality and without hypocrisy 2. The fruit of righteousness is produced by peacemakers who sow in peace REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - True religion controls the tongue (1-12) - True religion displays heavenly wisdom (13-18) 2) Why does James caution against many becoming teachers? (1) - Teachers shall receive a stricter judgment 3) What is one indication of maturity and self-control? (2) - The ability to bridle the tongue 4) What two illustrations does James use to show the power of the tongue? (3-4) - Like a bit which controls the horse - Like a rudder which controls the ship 5) What illustration is used to show the danger of the tongue? (5) - Like a small fire which kindles a large forest fire 6) How does James describe the tongue? (6-8) - A fire, a world of iniquity - Set among our members that it defiles the whole body - Sets on fire the course of nature, being set on fire by hell - That which no man can tame - An unruly evil, full of deadly poison 7) What example does James use to show how the tongue is often misused? (9-10) - Blessing God and cursing man who is made in His image 8) What illustrations does James provide to show the incongruity of such speech? (11-12) - A spring does not send forth both fresh and salt (bitter) water - A fig tree does not bear olives, nor a grapevine bear figs 9) How is the wise and understanding person to manifest himself? (13) - By good conduct done in meekness 10) What characterizes wisdom that does not descend from above? (14) - Bitter envy and self-seeking, boasting and lying against the truth 11) What is the source of such wisdom? (15) - It is earthly, sensual, and demonic 12) What exists when there is envy and self-seeking? (16) - Confusion and every evil thing 13) What are the qualities of wisdom that is from above? (17) - It is first pure - Then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy 14) Who produces the fruit of righteousness? (18) - Peacemakers who sow in peace
"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Chapter Two OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To consider the sin and danger of showing personal favoritism 2) To note the folly of faith without works, how that faith without works is a dead faith SUMMARY In this chapter we first find a call to hold the faith of Jesus Christ without partiality. Evidently some were displaying favoritism toward the rich in their assemblies, while despising the poor. Showing respect of persons made one a judge with evil thoughts, and James provides several reasons why such prejudice was unbecoming of those who believe in Jesus and worthy of condemnation (1-13). James then addresses the relationship between faith and works, especially the folly of professing faith when unaccompanied by works. Using several examples to make his point, including those of Abraham the friend of God and Rahab the harlot, James declares three times that faith without works is dead (14-26). OUTLINE I. TRUE RELIGION DOES NOT SHOW PARTIALITY (1-13) A. SUCH AS SHOWING PREFERENCE TO THE RICH (1-3) 1. The faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, is not to be held with partiality 2. A case in point: showing preference with seating arrangements in the assembly B. REASONS NOT TO SHOW PARTIALITY TOWARD THE RICH (4-13) 1. It makes one a judge with evil thoughts 2. Has not God chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom? 3. Have not the rich oppressed and blasphemed you? 4. Does not the royal law call upon us to love our neighbor? 5. Partiality will convict us as transgressors, even if we stumble in only one point 6. We shall be judged by the law of liberty, in which judgment without mercy is given to those who show no mercy II. TRUE RELIGION SHOWS FAITH THROUGH WORKS (14-26) A. FAITH WITHOUT WORKS CANNOT SAVE ONE (14-19) 1. What profit is there in faith without works? a. Can such faith save one? b. Is there any profit to tell a naked and destitute person to be warm and filled, and not give them what they need? c. Thus faith by itself, without works, is dead 2. Faith is shown by one's works a. It is not enough to claim to have faith b. The devils believe in God, and tremble B. FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD (20-26) 1. As exemplified by Abraham, the friend of God a. Who was justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar b. His faith was working with his works, and by them perfected his faith c. By his works the Scripture was fulfilled that declared him faithful and righteous 2. As exemplified by Rahab, the harlot a. Who was justified by works when she hid the spies b. Thus faith without works is dead, just as the body without the spirit is dead REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - True religion does not show partiality (1-13) - True religion shows faith through works (14-26) 2) With what is one not to hold the faith of our Lord Jesus? (1) - Partiality, or respect of persons (i.e., prejudice) 3) What example does James use to illustrate his point? (2-3) - Showing preference to a rich man over a poor man in the assembly 4) Of what is one guilty when they show partiality? (4) - Becoming a judge with evil thoughts 5) Why should one not show prejudice against the poor? (5) - God has chosen them to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him 6) What had the rich been doing against those to whom James wrote this epistle? (6-7) - Oppressing them and dragging them into the courts - Blaspheming the noble name by which they were called 7) What would be well for them to do? (8) - To fulfill the royal law: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" 8) What is the consequence of showing partiality? (9) - Committing sin and being convicted by the law as transgressors 9) Of what is one guilty if they stumble in just one point of the law? (10-11) - Guilty of all; a transgressor of the law 10) How then should they speak and act? Why? (12-13) - As those who will judged by the law of liberty - Judgment is without mercy to one who shows no mercy, and mercy triumphs over judgment 11) What question does James address next? (14) - What does it profit if one says he has faith, but does not have works? 12) What example is given to illustrate the futility of faith without works? (15-16) - Telling a naked and hungry person to be warmed and filled, but then do nothing to help 13) What is the condition of faith by itself, without works? (17) - It is dead 14) How does James challenge the person who only has faith? (18) - Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by works 15) What example does James use next to show the futility of faith only? (19) - That of demons, who believe in God 16) How was Abraham justified? When? (21) - By works - When he offered Isaac his son on the altar 17) What was the relation between Abraham's faith and works? (22) - Faith was working together with his works - By works his faith was made perfect 18) What two things were the result of Abraham's works? (23) - The Scriptures were fulfilled which said he believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness - He was called the friend of God 19) What point did the example of Abraham illustrate? (24) - A man is justified by works, and not by faith only 20) What final example does James appeal to? (25) - Rahab the harlot, who was justified when she hid the two spies 21) What is James' conclusion regarding faith and works? (26) - As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also
"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Chapter One OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To appreciate the value of enduring trials 2) To understand how sin develops, from temptation to death (separation from God) 3) To note the importance of being doers of the Word, and practitioners of religion that is pure and undefiled before God SUMMARY Following a simple and humble salutation (1), James begins his epistle with a call to view trials as occasions to rejoice, understanding they can produce patience which leads to maturity (2-5). If wisdom is needed, he counsels his readers to ask God with faith and no doubting (5-8). In the meantime, the poor are encouraged to rejoice in their exaltation, while the rich are to be thankful for their humiliation (9-11). Motivation to endure temptation is given, along with an explanation as to the true source of temptations and the development of sin which leads to spiritual death (12-15). Let no one be deceived, God is not the source of temptation, but the Father of every good and perfect gift which comes down from above, who has brought us forth that we might be the firstfruits of His creation (16-18). With admonitions to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath, James then expounds upon a major theme of this epistle: to be doers of the word and not hearers only. Illustrating the folly of being a hearer only, he contrasts the difference between religion that is useless and that which is pure and undefiled before God (19-27). OUTLINE SALUTATION (1) I. TRUE RELIGION ENDURES TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS (2-18) A. WITH JOY AND PATIENCE (2-4) 1. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience 2. Letting patience produce its perfect work a. That you may be perfect and complete b. That you may lack nothing B. WITH WISDOM FROM GOD (5-8) 1. If you lack wisdom, ask God a. Who gives to all liberally and without reproach b. It will be given to you 2. But ask in faith, with no doubting; for he who doubts... a. Is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind b. Should not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord c. Is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways C. WITH A PROPER PERSPECTIVE (9-11) 1. If a lowly brother, glory in your exaltation 2. If rich, glory in your humiliation a. For as the flower of the field you will pass away, as the grass withers with the burning heat of the rising sun b. So the rich man will fade away in his pursuits D. WITH AN UNDERSTANDING OF TEMPTATION (12-15) 1. The man who endures temptation will be blessed a. For he will receive the crown of life when he is proven b. Which the Lord has promised to those who love Him 2. Temptations do not come from God a. God cannot be tempted by evil b. He does not tempt anyone 3. The source of temptations a. One is tempted when drawn away by his own desires and is enticed b. When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin c. Sin, when full-grown, brings forth death E. WITH AN AWARENESS OF THE FATHER'S GOODNESS (16-18) 1. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren 2. Every good and perfect gift is from above a. Coming down from the Father of lights b. With whom there is no variation or shadow of turning 3. Of His own will He brought us forth a. By the word of truth b. That we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures II. TRUE RELIGION CONSISTS OF DOING, NOT JUST HEARING (19-27) A. ONE SHOULD BE SWIFT TO HEAR (19-20) 1. Let every one be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath 2. For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God B. ONE SHOULD NOT BE HEARERS ONLY, BUT DOERS (21-27) 1. What to lay aside, and what to receive a. Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness b. Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls 2. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only a. Otherwise you deceive yourselves b. You are like a man who after looking in mirror soon forgets what he looked like 3. One who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it... a. Is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work b. Will be blessed in what he does 4. Your religion is useless... a. If you think you're religious, but do not bridle your tongue b. You deceive only your heart 5. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this... a. To visit orphans and widows in their trouble b. To keep oneself unspotted from the world REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - True religion endures trials and temptations (1-18) - True religion consists of doing, not just hearing (19-27) 2) How should Christians view trials in their life? Why? (2-3) - An occasion in which to rejoice - Knowing that testing one's faith produces patience 3) What is the value of developing patience? (4) - It helps to make one perfect and complete, lacking nothing 4) If we lack wisdom, what should we do? Why? How? (5-6) - Ask of God - He gives to all liberally and without reproach - In faith, with no doubting 5) What is one who doubts like? What can he expect? Why? (6-8) - Like the wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind - To receive nothing from the Lord - He is double-minded, and unstable in all his ways 6) In what should the lowly brother glory? The rich man? (9-10) - His exaltation - His humiliation 7) What is the rich man like in his pursuits? (10-11) - A flower of the field that soon withers with the heat of the rising sun 8) When is the man who endures temptation blessed? How will he be blessed? (12) - When he is proved - By receiving the crown of life the Lord has promised to those who love Him 9) What should no one say when they are tempted? Why? (13) - "I am tempted by God" - God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone 10) Then how is one tempted? (14) - When drawn away by his own desires and enticed 11) When is sin born? What does sin produce when full-grown? (15) - When desire has conceived and given birth - Death 12) What is the source of every good gift and every perfect gift? (17) - From above, coming down from the Father of lights 13) How has God brought us forth (given us birth)? Why did He do this? (18) - Of His own will, by the word of truth - That we might a kind of firstfruits of His creatures 14) What does James desire of his "beloved brethren"? (19) - To be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath 15) Why should one be "slow to wrath"? (20) - The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God 16) What needs to be laid aside? (21) - All filthiness and overflow of wickedness 17) What needs to be received with meekness? Why? (21) - The implanted word - It is able to save your souls 18) To avoid deceiving ourselves, what must we be? (22) - Doers of the word, and not hearers only 19) What is one like who hears the word but does not do it? (23-24) - One who looks at himself in a mirror, only to go away and soon forget what he looked like 20) Who will be truly blessed in what they do? (25) - He who looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues in it - He who is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work 21) Whose religion is useless? (26) - The one who thinks he is religious, but does not bridle his tongue and deceives his own heart 22) What is pure and undefiled religion before God? (27) - To visit orphans and widows in their trouble - To keep oneself unspotted from the world
"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Introduction AUTHOR: James, who identifies himself as "a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:1). There are four men who bear this name in the New Testament: James, son of Zebedee and brother of John - A fisherman called by Christ (Mt 4:17-22) who later became an apostle (Mt 10:2). Together with John, they were nicknamed "Sons of Thunder" because of their impulsiveness (cf. Mk 3:17 with Lk 9:51-56). He was killed by Herod in 44 A.D. (Ac 12:1-2). James, son of Alphaeus - Another one of the apostles (Mt 10:3; Ac 1:12), about whom very little is known. He may be "James the younger," whose mother, Mary, was among the women at Jesus' crucifixion and tomb (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40; 16:1; Lk 24:10). In Jn 19: 25, this Mary is called the wife of Cleophas, perhaps to be identified with Alphaeus. James, father of Judas the apostle - Even more obscure, one of the few references to him is Lk 6:16. James, the brother of our Lord - A half-brother of our Lord (Mt 13:55), who did not believe in his brother at first (Jn 7:5). He became a disciple following the resurrection (1Co 15:7; Ac 1:14) and gained prominence in the church at Jerusalem (Ga 2:9). As evidence of his prominence, Peter sent him a special message following his own release from prison (Ac 12:17). James also played an important role in the conference at Jerusalem (Ac 15:13-33), and Paul brought him greetings upon arriving at Jerusalem (Ac 21:18-19). "James, the Lord's brother" (Ga 1:19) is most likely the author of this epistle. Tradition describes James as a man of prayer, which may explain the emphasis on prayer in his letter. It was said that he prayed so much, his knees were as hard as those on a camel. He was martyred in 62 A.D., either by being cast down from the temple, or beaten to death with clubs. It is reported that as he died, he prayed as did Jesus, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." RECIPIENTS: The epistle is addressed to "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (1:1). This naturally leads one to think of Jews (Ac 26:6-7) living outside the land of Palestine. Since the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, many Jews were scattered throughout different nations (Ac 2:5-11). While Jews, the epistle makes it clear that they were also brethren in the Lord, i.e., they were Jewish Christians. Nineteen times James calls them "brethren" and at least one time he definitely means those who were brethren "in the Lord" (2:1). It appears many of these Jewish Christians were poor and oppressed. Being Jews, they would often be rejected by the Gentiles. As Jewish Christians, they would also be rejected by many of their own countrymen. The letter indicates that most were poor, and some were being oppressed by the rich (2:6-7). Because it was not addressed to a single church or individual, it has been categorized a "General" or "Catholic" (universal) epistle along with 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, and Jude. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING: With no mention of the Jerusalem conference recorded in Acts 15 (A.D. 49), and the use of the word "synagogue" (assembly, 2:2), A.D. 48-50 is the date commonly given for this epistle. This would make it the first book of the New Testament written. If James, the Lord's brother, is the author, then he probably wrote it in Jerusalem. PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: The epistle deals with a variety of themes, with an emphasis upon practical aspects of the Christian life. Some of the subjects include handling trials and temptations, practicing pure religion, understanding the relation between faith and works, the proper use of the tongue and display of true wisdom, being a friend of God rather than a friend of the world, and the value of humility, patience and prayer. While these may appear unrelated, they are crucial to the growth and development of the Christian. For this reason, I suggest that James' purpose was: TO INSTRUCT CHRISTIANS CONCERNING TRUE AND PRACTICAL RELIGION In this epistle is a call to be doers of the Word, manifesting a living faith through one's works. In 108 verses, there are 54 imperatives (commands), prompting some to call James "the Amos of the New Testament." KEY VERSE: James 1:22 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." BRIEF OUTLINE: SALUTATION (1:1) I. TRUE RELIGION ENDURES TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS (1:2-18) A. WITH JOY AND PATIENCE (1:2-4) B. WITH WISDOM FROM GOD (1:5-8) C. WITH A PROPER PERSPECTIVE (1:9-11) D. WITH AN UNDERSTANDING OF TEMPTATION (1:12-15) E. WITH AN AWARENESS OF THE FATHER'S GOODNESS (1:16-18) II. TRUE RELIGION CONSISTS OF DOING, NOT JUST HEARING (1:19-2:26) A. ONE SHOULD BE SWIFT TO HEAR (1:19-20) B. ONE SHOULD NOT BE HEARERS ONLY, BUT DOERS (1:21-27) C. ONE SHOULD NOT SHOW PERSONAL FAVORITISM (2:1-13) D. ONE SHOULD SHOW THEIR FAITH BY THEIR WORKS (2:14-26) III. TRUE RELIGION DISPLAYS WISDOM, NOT JUST SPEAKING (3:1-18) A. THE DANGER OF THE TONGUE (3:1-12) B. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEAVENLY AND EARTHLY WISDOM (3:13-18) IV. TRUE RELIGION BEFRIENDS GOD THROUGH HUMILITY (4:1-17) A. HOW TO BE AN ENEMY OF GOD (4:1-6) B. HOW TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD (4:7-17) V. TRUE RELIGION BLESSED THROUGH PATIENCE, PRAYER AND LOVE (5:1-20) A. THE CURSE OF RICH OPPRESSORS (5:1-6) B. THE BLESSING OF PATIENCE (5:7-12) C. THE BLESSING OF PRAYER (5:13-18) D. THE BLESSING OF LOVE FOR THE ERRING (5:19-20) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) What four men bore the name of James in the New Testament? - James, the brother of John - James, the son of Alphaeus - James, the father of Judas - James, the brother of our Lord 2) Which one is most likely the author of the epistle? - James, the Lord's brother 3) To whom was this epistle addressed? (1:1) - The twelve tribes which are scattered abroad 4) From the epistle itself, who were the original recipients? (cf. 2:1) - Jewish Christians 5) What is this epistle commonly called, along with 1 & 2 Peter, 1 John, and Jude? Why? - A "general" or "catholic" epistle - Because it is not addressed to a particular church or individual, but to Christians in general 6) When was this epistle likely written? From where? - A.D. 48-50 - Jerusalem 7) As suggested in the introduction, what is the purpose of this epistle? - To instruct Christians concerning true and practical religion 8) What might serve as the "key verse" of this epistle? - James 1:22 9) According to the outline above, what are the main points in this epistle? - True religion endures trials and temptations (1:1-18) - True religion consists of doing, not just hearing (1:19-2:26) - True religion displays wisdom, not just speaking (3:1-18) - True religion befriends God through humility (4:1-17) - True religion blessed through patience, prayer and love (5:1-20)
God, Prophecy, and Miraculous Knowledge
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
The honest-hearted person who comes to recognize God’s existence and contemplates His marvelous nature cannot help but stand in awe of His omniscience. As the psalmist professed,
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether…. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell [sheol], behold, You are there (139:1-4,6-8).
The Bible declares that God “knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21), that His eyes “are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3), and that “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). Simply put, God “knows all things” (1 John 3:20). He has perfect knowledge of the past, the present, and even the future. Job was right to ask the rhetorical question, “Can anyone teach God knowledge?” (21:22).
GOD’S OMNISCIENCE AND THE DIVINE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE
God’s omniscience and proof that the Bible is the Word of God is inextricably woven together. The main, overarching reason that the Bible can be demonstrated to be of divine origin is because the writers were correct in everything they wrote—about the past, the present, and the future. Such a feat is humanly impossible. “With God,” however, “all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). An omniscient, omnipotent God could produce written revelation for His human creation that was flawless in its original production. He could guide uneducated men to write about events that occurred thousands of years before their time with complete accuracy. He could “move” (otherwise) ordinary men (2 Peter 1:20-21) to write flawlessly about any number of contemporary people, places, and things. He could even guide men to write about future events with perfect accuracy. He could—and He did.
Mankind can reasonably come to the conclusion that mere human beings did not pen Scripture because human beings are not omniscient. An uninspired person cannot, for example, foretell the future. Yet the inspired Bible writers did just that—time and again (e.g., Ezekiel 26:1-14,19-21; see www.apologeticspress.org for more information). Is it not logical, then, to conclude that the omniscient Ruler of the Universe gave us the Bible? Interestingly, though the atheist does not accept the Bible as “God-breathed,” even he understands that if the Bible writers predicted the future accurately, then a supernatural agent must be responsible for the production of Scripture (see Butt and Barker, 2009, pp. 50-51).
IS THERE ANOTHER POSSIBILITY?
Some might surmise that a Bible writer practicing pagan divination could also have accurately recorded what would happen in the distant future (in Tyre, Babylon, Jerusalem, etc.) because Satan or some wicked spirit-being revealed the information to him. Such a conclusion, however, is unjustifiable for a number of reasons:
- First, the prophets condemned all sorts of witchcraft, including divination and soothsaying (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Jeremiah 27:9-29:9). Thus, they would be condemning themselves if they were actually diviners and soothsayers.
- Second, since God, by His very definition, is the only omniscient, omnipotent Being (cf. 1 John 4:4), neither the created and fallen devil nor any other non-eternal spirit-being (Colossians 1:16; 2 Peter 2:4) can choose to know whatever he wants. He may be able to acquire knowledge quickly from other beings or from personal experience, but ultimately, wicked spirit-beings can only have knowledge of what the Creator allows them to know (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:11). If, for example, a wicked spirit-being knew of future events, it would be due to the omniscient Ruler of the heaven and Earth granting him such knowledge for His own purposes. “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37). Simply put, no one accurately foretells the future unless God informs him of it. [NOTE: Diviners may occasionally and vaguely predict something that comes to pass, but such guesswork or weathermen-like predictions are far from the revealed, supernatural foreknowledge of God, which was revealed during Bible times to His true spokesmen.]
- Third, God revealed throughout Scripture that those who accurately foretell the future aregenuine prophets of God. Jeremiah wrote: “When the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (28:9). On the other hand, those who prophesy things that do not come to pass, “the Lord has not sent;” “they prophesy falsely” (Jeremiah 28:15; 29:8-9). “‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). If non-God-inspired diviners could actually have foretold the future by the power of some wicked spirit-being, then how could the honest-hearted person ever know for sure what and who to believe and obey? Concluding that pagan diviners have been given power by wicked spirit-beings to flawlessly foretell the future contradicts what the true, inspired prophets of God taught, and prevents truth-seekers from being able to know truth.
God Almighty is the only omniscient, omnipotent Being. Only He knows everything. Ultimately, He alone knows the future—the revelation of such Divine thoughts being one of the chief ways man has logically concluded that a particular message was actually God-inspired. It seems quite dangerous to conclude that fallen spirit-beings know the future and have revealed such miraculous information to wicked diviners. Yes, uninspired fortunetellers have doubtlessly been tempted and influenced throughout the ages by powerful forces of darkness, but such beings are non-omniscient “deceiving spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1), who take after their “father, the devil,” “a liar” in whom “there is no truth” (John 8:44).
*Originally published in Gospel Advocate, March 2015, 157:27-28.
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Lisa Krieger recently wrote an article titled, “How Do Flowers Know to Bloom in Spring? Now Humans Know, Too.” She reported about research on flower blooming that is being done by plant molecular geneticist Jose Luis Riechmann from the California Institute of Technology, published in Science magazine. Riechmann’s research centers on the ability of flowers to know when to bloom to take advantage of the proper weather conditions to reproduce. It turns out that for plants to survive, timing is everything. As plant biologist Jorge Dubcovsky of UC Davis stated: “Flowering time is one of the most important traits in breeding because it affects the yield of crops. Too early and you are killed by frost; too late and you are killed by heat” (as quoted in Krieger, 2010).
Reichmann believes he has identified the tiny protein that is responsible for setting blooming in motion. The protein is named APETALA1, or AP1. This tiny wonder “regulates more than 1,000 genes” and “serves as the door that opens the way to flowering” (2010). Without this amazing protein, the plant world as we know it would not exist. The importance of this single protein becomes clear, when we realize that “almost everything we eat is a plant, or something that just ate a plant” (2010).
This petite protein poses a powerful problem for the theory of evolution. According to the theory, all plants and animals evolved over billions of years by chance, random processes that were not directed by any intelligence. Although evolution has been repeatedly shown to be false (see Butt and Lyons, 2009), research like Reichmann’s continues to add more weight to the fact that evolution is scientifically impossible.
First, it should be noted that no research ever done has shown us how random processes can produce a protein like AP1. Second, even if random processes produced AP1, which they cannot, how many times of trial and error would we need to grant the evolutionary process to allow it to finally strike upon the perfectly timed sequence to bloom? If the plants that were supposedly evolving bloomed at the wrong time, they would die or fail to reproduce. While that would be bad for those individual plants, it would also be devastating for the alleged evolutionary process, since evolution would have to start over trying to randomly assemble protein AP1 after every failure. Since all evolutionary scenarios are imaginary, and not backed by real scientific evidence, it is easy to propound a scenario by which natural selection somehow “chose” the plants that happened to bloom at the right time and have the proper protein sequence. But in reality, the first wrong turn would have sent plant evolution (although there really is no such thing) back to the drawing board, as would each additional wrongly timed blooming.
In truth, there never have been millions of years of gradual, chance mutations and natural selections that produced the “intelligent” flowering plants that we see today. The intricate design of plants, as manifested by tiny proteins like AP1, testifies to the fact that an intelligent Designer created flowering plants. Plants “know” exactly when to bloom simply because, when God created them, He endowed them with the ability to perpetuate their kind. As Genesis 1:11 states: “Then God said, ‘Let all the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so” (emp. added).
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2009), “Darwin in Light of 150 Years of Error,” Reason & Revelation, 29:9-15, February, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240057.
Krieger, Lisa (2010), “How Do Flowers Know to Bloom in Spring? Now Humans Know, Too,” [On-line], URL: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_14803818?source=rss.
Did Jesus Have Fleshly Half-Brothers?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The usual word in the Greek language for “brother” isadelphos. It possesses the same latitude of application that the English word possesses. Hence, it can refer to a person who shares the same religion (a spiritual brother). It can refer to a person who shares the same citizenship—a fellow countryman. It can refer to an intimate friend or neighbor. All of these uses are self-evident, and do not encroach upon the literal use of the term.
By far the most prominent use of the term is the literal sense—a blood brother or half-brother, the physical son of one’s mother or father. With reference to the physical brothers of Jesus (i.e., the sons of Joseph and Mary conceived after the birth of Christ), the literal sense is clearly in view in the following passages: Matthew 12:46-48 (the parallel in Mark 3:31-32); Matthew 13:55-56 (the parallel in Mark 6:3; in both passages, “sister” also is used in the literal sense); John 2:12; John 7:3,5,10; Acts 1:14; and Galatians 1:19. Even a casual reading of these verses demonstrates that Jesus had literal, physical brothers. The only reason the face-value import of these verses would be questioned is to lend credence to the post facto Catholic Church doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.
At least two assertions have been advanced by those who wish to discount the existence of Jesus’ brothers, and thereby defend the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. One attempt seeks to broaden the meaning of the Greek word for “brother” to mean “cousin.” According to this view, the “brothers” of Jesus were actually His cousins—the children of Mary’s sister. The assertion that “brother” has this enlarged meaning is made largely on the basis of the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint). The Septuagint translators sometimes used the Greek word for brother (adelphos) in Old Testament passages in which a near relative or kinsman, who was not technically a physical brother, was under consideration. This claim is true. The Hebrew term for brother (‘ach) occasionally was used to refer to a more remote descendant from a common father who was not technically a brother (Gesenius, 1979, p. 27; Harris, et al., 1980, 1:31; Botterweck, 1974, 1:190). For example, Laban, Jacob’s uncle, was referred to as Jacob’s “brother” (Genesis 29:12,15). Likewise, Abram’s nephew Lot was said to be Abram’s “brother” (Genesis 14:14,16).
However, it must be noted that the decision of the Septuagint translators to adjust to the nuances of the Hebrew term does not prove that the Greek term adelphos had the meaning of “cousin” in the passages referring to Jesus’ kinsmen. After listing a few Old Testament verses where a broader meaning than strictly “brother” is in view, Bauer noted that such passages “do not establish the meaning ‘cousin’ for adelphos; they only show that in rendering the Hebrew‘ach, adelphos is used loosely in isolated cases to designate masculine relatives of various degrees” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 15, emp. added). In other words, no linguistic justification exists to support the notion that adelphoi could refer to the “cousins” of Jesus. The Septuagint translators employed adelphos for ‘ach in those passages where additional contextual evidence clarified the intended meaning. No such contextual evidence exists in the allusions to Jesus’ brothers in the New Testament, and is therefore an irrelevant comparison.
When we come to the New Testament, where the reference to the brothers of Jesus occurs, Von Soden correctly listed only two possible meanings for adelphos, namely, “either ‘physical brotherhood’ in the strict sense or more generally the ‘spiritual brotherhood’ of Israelites or Christians” (Kittel, 1964, 1:144). A broadened meaning for adelphos (to refer to a cousin) does not exist in the New Testament. As Walther Gunther clarified: “In no case in the New Testament can adelphos be interpreted with certainty in this sense” (Brown, 1975, 1:256). That’s putting it mildly. McClintock and Strong explained: “[W]hen the word is used in any but its proper sense, the context prevents the possibility of confusion…. If, then, the word ‘brethren’…really means ‘cousins’ or ‘kinsmen,’ it will be the only instance of such an application in which no data are given to correct the laxity of meaning” (1968, 895, emp. in orig.). Lewis stated even more decisively: “ ‘Brothers’ (adelphoi) never means ‘cousins’ in New Testament Greek” (1976, 1:181, emp. added). Indeed, the Greek language had a separate and distinct word for “cousins”—anepsioi (e.g., Colossians 4:10). When a nephew was meant, the relationship was clearly specified (e.g., Acts 23:16). To summarize: “There is therefore no adequate warrant in the language alone to take ‘brethren’ as meaning ‘relatives,’ and therefore the a priori presumption is in favor of a literal acceptation of the term” (McClintock and Strong, 1:895).
Further, when referring to Jesus’ brothers, the expression “his brothers” occurs nine times in the Gospel accounts and once in Acts. In every instance (except in John 7:3,5,10), the brothers are mentioned in immediate connection with His mother, Mary. No linguistic indication whatsoever is present in the text for inferring that “His brothers” is to be understood in any less literal sensethan “His mother” (see Alford, 1980, pp. 152-154). Likewise, the contemporaneous Jews would have construed the terms “brothers” and “sisters” in their ordinary sense—like our English words—unless some extenuating circumstance indicated otherwise. No such circumstantial indication is present.
Additionally, if the phrase “brothers and sisters” means “cousins” in Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3, then these “cousins” were the nephews and nieces of Mary. But why would the townspeople of Nazareth connect nephews and nieces of Mary with Joseph? Why would the townspeople mention nephews and nieces at all while omitting other extended family relatives? The setting assumes that the townspeople were alluding to the immediate family of Jesus. Barnes noted that to recognize these brothers and sisters as the sons and daughters of Joseph and Mary is the “fair interpretation,” and added, “the people in the neighbourhood [sic] thought so, and spoke of them as such” (1977, 1:150). As Matthews commented, “Joseph, Mary, and their children were recognized as a typical family of Nazareth, and when Jesus began his unusual career, they merely asked if He was not a member of this family mentioning their names. If these children were nephews and nieces of Mary, why are they always associated with her and not with their mother?” (1952, pp. 112-113, emp. added).
A second assertion maintains that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were the children of Joseph by a previous marriage. Of course, this alleged prior marriage is without any biblical support whatsoever. The New Testament is completely silent on the matter. To postulate its occurrence, at best, is to introduce a question regarding Joseph’s own marital eligibility in his relationship with Mary.
In addition to the verses that allude to the brothers and sisters of Jesus, a corroborative verse is seen in Matthew 1:25. When Joseph awoke from a dream, wherein an angel of the Lord explained the circumstances of his wife’s pregnant condition, Matthew wrote that Joseph “knew her not until she had borne a son.” Use of the word “knew,” a common euphemism for sexual intercourse, means that Joseph and Mary abstained from sexual relations prior to the birth of Jesus. While it is true that the Greek construction heos hou (until) does not necessarily imply that they engaged in sexual relations after the birth of Jesus, the rest of the New Testament bears out the fact that where this phrase followed by a negative occurs, it “always implies that the negated action did take place later” (Lewis, 1976, 1:42, emp. added). Bruce observed: “Subsequent intercourse was the natural, if not the necessary, course of things. If the evangelist had felt as the Catholics do, he would have taken pains to prevent misunderstanding” (Nicoll, n.d., 1:69). Alford agreed: “On the whole it seems to me, that no one would ever have thought of interpreting the verse any otherwise than in its prima facie meaning, except to force it into accordance with a preconceived notion of the perpetual virginity of Mary” (1980, 1:9).
The insistence that Mary remained a virgin her entire life is undoubtedly rooted in the unscriptural conception that celibacy is spiritually superior to marriage and child bearing. In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible speaks of marriage as an honorable institution that was intended by God to be the norm for humanity from the very beginning of the Creation (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 5:18-19; Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Hebrews 13:4). Mary’s marriage to Joseph, and their subsequent production of offspring after the birth of Jesus, had the approval and blessing of heaven. To engage in hermeneutical gymnastics in an effort to protect a doctrine conceived from a misassessment of the sacred and divine nature of marriage and family is the epitome of misplaced religious ardor.
M’Clintock and Strong well summarized the evidence which supports the conclusion that Jesus had literal, uterine brothers: “[S]uch a supposition is more in agreement with the spirit and letter of the context than any other, and as the force of the allusion to the brothers and sisters of Jesus would be much weakened if more distant relatives are to be understood” (1968, 1:895). It is reassuring to know that Jesus experienced familial and fraternal ties. He had four brothers and at least two sisters (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). He experienced what it was like to have His own brothers reject God’s truth (Matthew 12:46-50; John 7:5). Fortunately, those brothers, especially James, later embraced the truth and became active members of the church of Christ (Acts 1:14; 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Corinthians 9:5). “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same” (Hebrews 2:14).
Alford, Henry (1980 reprint), Alford’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Arndt, William F. and F. Wilbur Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament(Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Barnes, Albert (1977 reprint), Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Botterweck, G. Johannes and Helmer Ringgren (1974), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Brown, Colin, ed. (1975), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Gesenius, William (1979 reprint), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer Jr., and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Kittel, Gerhard, ed. (1964), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Lewis, Jack P. (1976), The Gospel According to Matthew (Austin, TX: Sweet Publishing Co.).
Matthews, Paul (1952), Basic Errors of Catholicism (Rosemead, CA: Old Paths Book Club).
McClintock, John and James Strong (1968 reprint), Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Nicoll, W. Robertson (n.d.), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
The Resurrection of Christ as a Fact of Science
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Famed atheist and New York Times bestselling author Sam Harris published a book in 2010 titled The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. In the book he attempted to show that atheistic materialism can provide a standard by which to judge moral behavior. He failed to prove his point, as we have shown in other places (Butt, 2008), but he did make some telling admissions.
In the introduction, Harris provided an endnote that described his view of the concept of a “fact.” He stated:
For the purposes of this discussion, I do not intend to make a hard distinction between “science” and other intellectual contexts in which we discuss “facts”—e.g., history. For instance, it is a fact that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Facts of this kind fall within the context of “science,” broadly construed as our best effort to form a rational account of empirical reality. Granted, one doesn’t generally think of events like assassinations as “scientific” facts, but the murder of President Kennedy is as fully corroborated a fact as can be found anywhere, and it would betray a profoundly unscientific frame of mind to deny that it occurred (2010, p. 195).
Harris is exactly right. Events that happened in the past such as assassinations can be every bit as scientific and factual as other types of experiential knowledge. In fact, those of us who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ have contended for years that direct observation is not necessarily needed to establish it as factual. If the assassination of J.F.K. can be nailed down scientifically and established as a fact, is it not also true that the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be equally validated as a scientific fact in the way Harris describes? Certainly it is. (We have established the case for the fact of the resurrection elsewhere, see Butt, 2002.)
“In our best effort to form a rational account of empirical reality” we are forced to conclude that no other series of events offers the explanatory power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The event is recorded in detail in the only book in the world that is proven to be inspired by God. Hundreds of people in the first century saw the resurrected Lord, and testified of such. And the fact is that Jesus’ tomb was empty.These facts and others combine to provide a cumulative scientific case to establish the fact of Jesus’ resurrection.
Of course, Sam Harris would disagree about the resurrection of Christ being a fact. But his insightful discussion of what actually constitutes a scientific fact opens the door for the resurrected Lord to walk through. “And it would betray a profoundly unscientific frame of mind to deny that it occurred.”
Butt, Kyle (2002), “Jesus Christ—Dead or Alive?” Reason and Revelation,https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article=147.
Butt, Kyle (2008), “The Bitter Fruits of Atheism,” Reason and Revelation,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=2515.
Harris, Sam (2010), The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Value (New York: Free Press).