4/25/17

GOD & HELEN & HARRY by Jim McGuiggan

https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/03/


GOD & HELEN & HARRY


If we’re talking about persons, our English word “reconcile” serves our purpose well when we wish to get the basic idea of the Greek words the NT uses to speak of reconciliation. We’re told it derives directly from the Latin through French with related senses such as “to bring together again” or “regain” or “to make friendly.” There’s nothing difficult about that.
Words aren’t the realities they speak of, of course—the realities are the “things” the words refer to.
What follows is too simple—life and reality are always more complex than our words but there’s little point in pretending we are completely in the dark. I don’t care that the piece is repetitive.
We look at two people (Helen and Harry) noting certain characteristic attitudes, behavioral and verbal patterns we call them “friends”. If they are clearly “hostile” to each other that will show in characteristic patterns of behavior we won’t call them “friends”.
If at one point they were indeed “friends” and something happened that led to a radical and sustained change in Harry’s’ view of Helen that changed his behavior toward her the “friendship” has been destroyed. If Helen maintains the attitude and expressions of a “friend” and Harry insists on being hostile and completely indifferent to Helen’s approach we rightly say they aren’t “friends” despite Helen’s desire for friendship and her attempts to overcome the current alienation. We rightly say that Helen offers friendship and Harry refuses it.
Helen purposes to and works at destroying the alienation. The means and methods by which she goes about this can only express her own heart toward Harry and they must have an effect on Harry’s heart if friendship is to be regained. Helen’s heart in this matter needs no change but Harry’s does. Once more, if Harry rejects all Helen’s various approaches there is and can be no reconciliation.
Helen knows that she has done nothing that warrants Harry’s hostility. Repeat: Helen knows this and holds it to be true, nevertheless she wants reconciliation.
Harry’s wrong does not change Helen but her desire for reconciliation is not reconciliation—the desire for alienation lies totally in Harry even though it affects Helen—she experiences the loss.
She is not sulking, she is not unwilling to be friends. That she is being wronged is true but that doesn’t alter her heart’s desire. There is nothing within her that is an obstacle to restore friendship—the alienation has been generated by and remains in place because Harry wills it to be that way.
There are some who think that Helen cannot be reconciled to Harry because her honor has been offended.
It is true that Harry has despised her and if there is to be reconciliation and a return to friendship that will have to be acknowledged. Regret would exist, of course, but a commitment to be a friend must also be in place.
But, and this is an important but, whether Harry moves that way or not, Helen’s heart’s desire remains unchanged; though dishonored she wants Harry back. Her “honor” is not the fundamental drive in Helen. She cannot and will not deny that she has been dishonored but she will not let that truth be the final truth.
She will not say, “I have been dishonored therefore I want nothing more to do with Harry.” The reality is, she wants very much to have something to do with Harry who is even now dishonoring her!
Harry must change! But all change must be from Harry’s side!
Helen’s sense of her honorable personhood is well grounded but it’s no obstacle within her that generated or maintains the alienation. She knows she is honorable and still wants Harry back. The truth is that Harry has said “no” to Helen and not to some one thing about Helen and it’s not the honor of Helen that requires appeasement. Helen’s honor doesn’t exist in isolation—it’s Helen that has been dishonored and it is Helen (not parts of her) that wants Harry back as a friend!
Someone could say, “They can’t be friends because Harry has offended Helen’s honor and her honor needs to be appeased or she cannot move to bring about friendship.” We’d probably think that a strange way to speak. We’d probably think that Helen needs to be appeased (if she needed to be appeased) rather than an isolated part of her.
In any case, someone might respond, “I don’t think that’s true. I saw her come to him and humble herself in his presence again and again and again and I know she keeps on doing it. Her honor can’t mean that much to her in this matter. If there’s a conflict between her honor and her love for Harry her love has overcome her sense of her honor. But I don’t think there is a conflict in her heart and mind. I think her honor is part of why she maintains her commitment to him as a friend even though he will not have it.”
There were some who said much about Harry breaking the “law of friendship” and said the law must be satisfied if there is to be restored friendship. Helen thought it interesting that “the law” of friendship entered the discussion. She even thought it interesting that the word “satisfied/satisfaction” entered the discussion.
She thought that it was a person that had been horribly mistreated and not a law. She thought that what she had with Harry was not a legal agreement based on some law but a personal relationship between a friend and a friend.
Helen thought there was no law against truly and honorably loving someone and so it could not be a law that stood between her and Harry.
She didn’t feel there was some “law” outside herself and her heart’s desire that got in the way of having a restored friendship with dishonorable Harry. She wanted him back. Did the fact that he lied about her keep her from wanting him back? Did the fact that he coldly ignored her or openly sneered at her on every occasion they met keep her from wanting him back? Was there some “law” out there beyond her own heart and mind, some law-giver, that she had to submit to before she could have restored friendship with Harry?
She didn’t know of one! The reason she wanted to have Harry back was because she wanted Harry back.
So why weren’t they friends again?
Because Harry didn’t want to be friends!
Why does Helen continue to love Harry this way?
Some say her kind of love leaves her no choice.
She might make an effort so astonishing that many would be mesmerized by it; something so wonderful and selfless they they couldn’t believe it for joy.
And though they have seen so many wondrous examples of such love the love of Helen seems even more remarkable and it affects all who come to know if it.
(Holy Father, help us to know You and honor you for who and what You. are. This fervent prayer in Jesus name.)



“Belief” As Used In the Book of Acts By Wayne Jackson


http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/sep/page7.shtml

“Belief” As Used
In the Book of Acts

By Wayne Jackson

The Greek noun for faith is pistis; the corresponding verb is pisteuo.  Combined, these forms are employed some 243 times in the New Testament.  There is a great deal of confusion and controversy in the community of “Christendom” as to the meaning of these terms.  Unfortunately, sectarian bias has clouded the understanding of many on this important biblical theme. Depending on the context in which the words are found, their meanings can vary.  (1) Belief may involve merely being exposed to certain data and acknowledging such as reliable.  When Paul heard of divisions within the church at Corinth, he said:  “I partly believe it” (1 Corinthians 11:18).  He accepted the report as fairly credible.
(2) Believing can go a step further, though, suggesting the idea of trust. Knowing the temperament of men, Jesus did not “trust” (pisteuo) himself to the Jews of Jerusalem (John 2:24).  God did “trust” Paul, however, and so committed the Gospel unto this apostle, to be proclaimed in a ministry to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7).
(3) Belief can be used – and frequently is – in the full sense of being obedient.  Jesus taught:  “He who believes (pisteuo) on the Son has eternal life; but he who obeys not (apeitho) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36 ASV).  [Note:  The King James translators did not favor us by rendering two different Greek terms by the same English word.  An important distinction was obscured.  Cf. Hebrews 3:18-19 ASV.]  In the ultimate sense, therefore, to believe the Lord is to do what he says, and a refusal to obey his will is an expression of disbelief.  This is a sobering thought.
The main focus of this study will be to consider how the verb pisteuo is used in the Book of Acts.  Pisteuo is found some thirty-nine times in Acts.  In the ASV, it is rendered by such English terms as believe, believed and believers (a present participle in Acts 5:14, i.e., believing ones).  A careful study of the use of this verb in the Book of Acts will reveal that in many instances “believing” is a summary term that embraces all of the conditions inherent in the divine plan of salvation, including the command to be immersed in water.  This is a crucial point since most denominationalists absolutely repudiate the idea that baptism is a requisite to forgiveness.  Let us, therefore, give consideration to the following cases.
(1) Following Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, certain devout Jews inquired:  “What shall we do?”  The apostle commanded them to repent of their sins and be baptized for the remission thereof (2:38).  Those who “received his word were baptized” (41).  Luke then says:  “And all that believed were together” (44).  “Believed” sums up the obedience described previously.
(2) On the initial day of its existence, the church consisted of at least 3,000 souls.  Later, Luke records that many others heard the Word and “believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand” (4:4).  It is obvious that the 5,000 mentioned here included the 3,000 referenced earlier, and that the “believed” of this passage means precisely what it did in 2:44.
(3) After the baptism of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, Peter went to Jerusalem to defend his actions before a rather hostile Jewish audience (cf. 11:2).  He argued that God had authenticated the Gentiles’ acceptance by giving them the Holy Spirit.  The apostle then said:  “If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we [Jews] believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?”  (11:17).  Note that the entire conversion process of the Jews (cf. 2:38) is simply referred to as “when we believed.”
(4) In the course of his first missionary journey, Paul, together with Barnabas, came to the city of Iconium.  They entered into a synagogue of the Jews and proclaimed the Gospel of Christ.  There was encouraging response for Luke says that “a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed” (14:1).  Note the sentence that follows.  “But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren” (ASV).  The term rendered “disobedient” in the ASV is apeitheo, which carries the idea of refusing to be persuaded, a failure to comply (Thayer, 55).  Moulton and Milligan, prominent experts in the Greek papyri, cite numerous examples of where apeitheo means “to disobey.”  In conclusion they stated:  “We have not sought for more instances, but it has seemed desirable to give rather plentiful illustrations to prove a case which is very important for doctrine” (55).  Also review “(3) Belief can be used . . .” in the fourth paragraph of this article.
(5) On his second missionary journey, Paul, along with Silas, was imprisoned in Philippi.  After a dramatic earthquake, by means of which God opened the prison doors and loosed the inmates’ bonds, the jailer pled for the knowledge of salvation.  The brothers instructed him.  His penitent faith was evidenced as he washed the blood from their backs and, near the midnight hour, he and his household were immersed into Christ.  But look at how Luke describes the whole process, “. . . having believed in God” (16:34).  The perfect participle depicts the state at which they arrived as a consequence of their obedience.
(6) When Paul came to Ephesus on his third missionary trip, he encountered certain sincere students who had been immersed with the baptism that was a part of the teaching of John, the forerunner of Christ (Acts 19:1ff; cf. 3:1ff).  Perhaps something alerted the apostle to a deficiency in their earlier instruction; he thus asked:  “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  They replied in the negative.  Paul then asked “Into what then were you baptized?”  He was not framing a new question on an entirely different theme.  Rather, baptism was a part of the belief process, concerning which he had just inquired.
The examples cited above are but a sampling of those in Acts which elucidate the nature of the faith required to be a Christian.  For the reader who wants to explore this matter further, we would suggest that he take a look at some of the following passages (4:32; 8:12; 9:42; 10:45; 13:12, 48; 14:23; 15:5; 16:1; 17:12, 34; 18:8, 27; 19:18; 21:20, 25; 22:19).  Belief, because it is the foundation of one’s surrender to Christ, and because it is the motivating factor for further obedience, is employed by Luke to reflect the entire process in becoming a Christian – including repentance, acknowledgment of Jesus as the Son of God and immersion in water.  How can anyone contend that the sole mental act “believing” in Christ represents the entire plan of salvation?

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Division Over John Mark (15:36-41) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                  Division Over John Mark (15:36-41)

INTRODUCTION

1. After the controversy over circumcision, (Ac 15:1-35), another conflict soon arose...
   a. As Paul and Barnabas prepared for another journey - Ac 15:36
   b. Over whether to take John Mark with them - Ac 15:37-38

2. The contention between Paul and Barnabas was so sharp...
   a. They went their separate ways - Ac 15:39
   b. With Barnabas taking John Mark, and Paul taking Silas - Ac 15:39-41

[It may seem at first that this event would hinder the cause of Christ.
But the saying "Alls well that ends well" certainly applies here as we 
consider all that is eventually revealed in the Scriptures...]

I. QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

   A. WHO WAS JOHN MARK...?
      1. Son of Mary - Ac 12:12
         a. Who owned a house in Jerusalem where many gathered to pray for Peter
         b. Some scholars believe that it may have been where the Last Supper was observed
      2. Cousin of Barnabas - Col 4:10
         a. Identified as such by Paul in his epistle
         b. KJV calls him the "sister's son to Barnabas" (i.e., nephew)
      3. Assistant to Barnabas and Saul - Ac 12:25; 13:5
         a. Joining them as they as returned from Jerusalem to Antioch
         b. Going with them as they set out on their first journey

   B. WHAT DID HE DO...?
      1. Left Paul and Barnabas mid-journey - Ac 13:13
         a. Many scholars speculate as to the reason why
         b. Luke does not give the reason why
      2. Which later caused a rift - Ac 15:36-41
         a. Paul did not John Mark to join them on the second journey
         b. Barnabas was adamant about taking him with them
         c. So Paul (with Silas) and Barnabas (with John Mark) went their separate ways

   C. WHAT EVENTUALLY HAPPENED...?
      1. Paul and John Mark eventually reconciled
         a. Paul instructs the church at Colossae to receive him - Col 4:10
         b. Together with others, Paul says that he "proved to be a comfort to me" 
              - Col 4:11
         c. Paul tells Philemon that Mark and others are "fellow-laborers" - Phm 24
         d. In his last epistle, Paul tells Timothy "Get Mark and bring
            him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry." - 2Ti 4:11
      2. Mark became close to Peter, who called Mark "my son" - 1Pe 5:13
      3. Mark is considered to be the author of the Gospel of Mark

[Whatever the reason John Mark returned to Jerusalem, no matter how it 
divided Paul and Barnabas, things turned out well in the end.  As we 
contemplate these things, here are some...]

II. OBSERVATIONS TO CONSIDER

   A. UPHOLD THE WEAK, BE PATIENT WITH ALL...
      1. Barnabas was determined to give John Mark another chance - Ac 15:37
      2. Perhaps it was because John Mark was his cousin (or nephew) - Col 4:10
      3. But Barnabas was also a man known for his encouragement - Ac  4:36
      4. He even gave encouragement to Paul earlier - cf. Ac 9:26-29; 11:25-26
      5. Barnabas put into practice what Paul later enjoined - 1Th 5:14
      -- Barnabas was inclined to give people a second chance

   B. THE LORD'S WORK COMES FIRST...
      1. Paul and Barnabas were unwilling to let their contention affect
         their service to the Lord
      2. They could not agree, but they both continued to serve the Lord
      3. Barnabas (and Mark) went to Cyprus (where he was from); Paul
         (and Silas) went to Syria and Cilicia (where he was from) 
         strengthening the churches - Ac 15:39-41
      -- A "falling out" with brethren is no reason to stop serving the Lord!

   C. NEVER GIVE UP TRYING...
      1. John Mark could have let his initial failure discourage him
      2. But he did not let failure stop his own service to the Lord - Ac 15:39
      3. He took advantage of another opportunity to serve the Lord
      -- Making a mistake is no reason to give up trying again to serve the Lord

   D. NOT HOLDING A GRUDGE...
      1. Paul was willing to acknowledge Mark's later usefulness 
          - Col 4:10-11; Phm 24; 2Ti 4:11
      2. Some refuse to forgive those who disappoint them; not Paul!
      -- Give credit where credit is due; praise those who turn themselves around

   E. THE END IS BETTER THAN THE BEGINNING...
      1. Mark grew to become useful to the apostles Paul and Peter 
      2. He even became useful to us today (in writing the Gospel of Mark!)
      3. "The end of a thing is better than its beginning" - Ec 7:8
      -- Success is measured by how we finish, not how we start!

CONCLUSION

1. Things certainly turned out well for John Mark, despite...
   a. Disappointing the apostle Paul
   b. Driving a wedge between Paul and Barnabas

2. But in the end, the story of the division over John Mark is one of encouragement...
   a. How failure can be turned into success
   b. How nothing should keep us from trying to serve the Lord

Don't let your failures in the past keep you from serving the Lord and
His church in the present...!
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Conflict Over Circumcision (15:1-35) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                 Conflict Over Circumcision (15:1-35)

INTRODUCTION

1. During his first missionary journey, Paul saw that God "opened a door
   of faith to the Gentiles" - Ac 14:27
   a. The conversion of Sergius Paulus - Ac 13:6-12
   b. The conversion of many Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia - Ac 13:42-49
   c. The conversion of Greeks in Iconium - Ac 14:1

2. It wasn't long before the question of Gentiles in the church became an issue...
   a. Should the Gentiles be accepted without first converting to Judaism?
   b. Should they be required to be circumcised, and keep the Law of Moses?

[After a "long time" in Antioch of Syria, Paul and the church were
faced with a crisis regarding the issue of the Gentiles...]

I. THE CONFLICT

   A. SOME CAME FROM JUDEA...
      1. Teaching that Gentiles could not be saved without circumcision - Ac 15:1
      2. With whom Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed - Ac 15:2
      3. This conflict might have involved Peter - Ga 2:11-16 (some
         think this was during Ac 15:1-2; others think it was later)

   B. PAUL AND BARNABAS SENT TO JERUSALEM...
      1. Accompanied by "certain others" (such as Titus) - Ac 15:2; Ga 2:1
      2. To talk to the apostles and elders, which Paul did "by
         revelation" - Ac 15:2; Ga 2:2
      3. On the way, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria - Ac 15:3
         a. Describing the conversion of the Gentiles
         b. Causing great joy among the brethren

[Since the men causing disturbance came from Judea, Paul and his 
companions went to Jerusalem, to locate the actual origin of this
problem.  This led to...]

II. THE CONFERENCE

   A. PRELIMINARY MEETINGS...
      1. Formal reception by the church
         a. Paul's party was received by the church, the apostles, and the elders - Ac 15:4
         b. To whom Paul reported all that God had done with them 
              - Ac 15:4; cf. Ac 14:27
         c. Some of the sect of the Pharisees objected - Ac 15:5
            1) Likely Jewish Christians who had been Pharisees
            2) Demanding Gentiles be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses
      2. Private meeting with some who were "of reputation"
         a. In which Paul explained the gospel which he preached - Ga 2:1-2
         b. Where some false brethren tried to compel Titus (a Gentile)
            to be circumcised, which Paul refused - Ga 2:3-6
         c. James, Peter, and John commended Paul for his work among the
            Gentiles - Ga 2:7-10
            1) Extending to him the right hand of fellowship
            2) Asking only that he remember the poor (something he was 
               careful do on his remaining missionary journeys)

   B. PUBLIC MEETING...
      1. The speech of Peter - Ac 15:6-11
         a. How God selected him to be the first to preach to the Gentiles
               - cf. Ac 10:1-43
         b. How God bore witness to their acceptability by giving them
            the Spirit - cf. Ac 10:44-48; 11:15-18
         c. That God purified them through faith, just as He did the Jews
         d. That they should not test God, by placing a burden on the
            Gentiles which they themselves could not bear
         e. That God will save the Jews in the same way, through the
            grace of the Lord Jesus - cf. Ac 2:38 (Jews) with Ac 10:48 (Gentiles)
      2. The testimony of Paul and Barnabas - Ac 15:12 
         a. How God did many miracles and wonders through them among the Gentiles
         b. Which the multitude listened to quietly
      3. The counsel of James - Ac 15:13-21
         a. Reminding them of what Simon (Peter) had just said
         b. Reminding them of the Old Testament prophecy of Amos - Am 9:11-12
         c. Offering his judgment:
            1) Not to trouble the Gentiles who were turning to God
            2) But write to them, asking them to abstain from:
               a) Things polluted by idols (i.e., meats offered to idols)
               b) Sexual immorality
               c) Things strangled
               d) Blood 
         d. This would go a long way in keeping peace between Jewish and Gentile converts

[With the testimony of Paul and Barnabas, Peter, and James, supported by
God's approval through miraculous signs and prophetic scriptures, the 
conflict came to a quick resolution (for the time being)...]

III. THE CONCLUSION

   A. DELEGATION AND LETTER...
      1. The apostles, elders, and the whole church agree to send a delegation - Ac 15:22
      2. Judas and Silas, selected to accompany Paul and Barnabas along
         with the letter - Ac 15:22
      3. A copy of this letter is preserved by Luke - Ac 15:23-29
      4. Note:  those who caused the trouble are identified as having
         done so without any authority from those in Jerusalem - Ac 15:24

   B. RETURN AND RECEPTION...
      1. Paul and the delegation return to Antioch, and deliver the letter - Ac 15:30
      2. The multitude rejoice over its encouragement - Ac 15:31
      3. Judas and Silas exhort the brethren with many words - Ac 15:32-34
         a. Judas eventually returned to the apostles in Jerusalem
         b. Silas stayed in Antioch, later to join Paul on his travels - cf. Ac 15:40
      4. Paul and Barnabas remain in Antioch, teaching and preaching- Ac 15:35

CONCLUSION

1. The conflict over circumcision and the Law illustrates the challenges
   faced by the early church...
   a. The challenge of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant
   b. The challenge of accepting into the church those who were considered "unclean"
 
2. But the challenges were overcome, in large part due to the apostle Paul...
   a. A Hebrew of the Hebrews, but also an apostle to the Gentiles
   b. Whom God used to help bridge Jew and Gentile together

To fulfill what Jesus died to accomplish on the cross, to bring peace
between Jew and Gentile, making one new body (Ep 2:11-16).  This ought
to remind us who are Gentiles how blessed we are to be able to come
into the fellowship with God and His people.  

Have we let Jesus add us to His one new body, the church...? - cf. Ac 2:41,47
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

The Quran and the Trinity by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1552

The Quran and the Trinity

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

When reading the Quran, one is surprised time and time again with the fact that the Allah of the Quran conducts himself quite differently from the God of the Bible. Of course, “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for “God,” like its equivalent Old Testament Hebrew term elohima general term for deity that was used by the Jews to refer both to the one true God, as well as to the false deities of their pagan neighbors (e.g., Genesis 35:2; Deuteronomy 29:18; Daniel 3:25). So the term “God” in whatever language (English, Arabic, or Hebrew) is a generic term to refer to deity. Muslims claim that the Allah they worship is the same God that Abraham and the Jews worshipped. Nevertheless, it is possible for one to pay lip service to following the God of the Bible, and yet so recast Him that He ceases to be the same Being about which one reads on the pages of the Bible. The meaning and identity that each culture or religion attaches to the word may differ radically.
Many current Christian authors do this very thing when they claim to be writing about the Jesus of the New Testament. They misrepresent Jesus, recasting and refashioning the Jesus of the Bible into essentially a different Being than the One depicted on the pages of the New Testament—one who is unconcerned about obedience, and whose grace forgives just about everybody unconditionally (e.g., Lucado, 1996). But that is not the Jesus of the New Testament. They have so misrepresented the person, nature, and conduct of Jesus that for all practical purposes, their writings depict a different Jesus.
In like fashion, the Quran has Allah saying and doing things that the God of the Bible simply would not say or do. Actions and attitudes are attributed to Allah that stand in stark contradistinction to the character of the God of the Bible. Though Allah is claimed by Muslims to be the same God as the God of the Old Testament, the Quran’s depiction of deity is nevertheless sufficiently redefined as to make Allah distinct from the God of the Bible. This stark contrast is particularly evident in the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
The Bible depicts deity as singular, i.e., there is one and only one divine essence or Being (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19). However, the Bible also clearly depicts God as a triune Being—three distinct persons within the one essence—with a triune nature. For example, during the Creation week, God stated: “Let us...” (Genesis 1:26, emp. added). Both the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) and Christ (John 1:1-3) were present and active at the Creation with God the Father. The New Testament alludes to the “Godhead” (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). At the baptism of Jesus while He was in human form, the Father spoke audibly from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). All three are sometimes noted together (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Each person of the Godhead is fully God, fully deity, fully divine. Jesus is repeatedly referred to as God (Matthew 1:22-23; John 1:1-3,14; 8:58; 20:28; Micah 5:2). The Holy Spirit is also divine (John 14:26; 15:26; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Ephesians 4:4; Hebrews 9:14).
In contrast to the biblical portrait, the Quran goes out of its way to denounce the notion of Trinity:
O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three”—Cease! (it is) better for you!—Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendant majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender. The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave unto Allah, nor will the favoured angels. Whoso scorneth His service and is proud, all such will He assemble unto Him (Surah 4:171-172, emp. added).
They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil‑doers there will be no helpers. They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. Will they not rather turn unto Allah and seek forgiveness of Him? For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 5:72-74, emp. added).
The Christian is surely startled to read such forthright denunciations on those who believe in the Godhead as depicted in the Bible. The Quran declares in unmistakable terms that those who do believe in the Trinity will be excluded from paradise, and will experience a “painful doom” by burning in the fire of hell.
Regarding the third person of the Godhead, Muslims insist that the Quran knows nothing of the Holy Spirit—all seeming references simply being, in the words of Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall, “a term for the angel of Revelation, Gabriel (on whom be peace)” (Pickthall, p. 40). Thus the Quran denies the person of the Holy Spirit, acknowledges the existence of Jesus while denying His divinity, and insists that the person of Allah is singular in nature. The Quran and the Bible are in dire contradiction with each other on the doctrine of the Trinity.

REFERENCES

Lucado, Max (1996), In the Grip of Grace (Dallas, TX: Word).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

When was “The Faith” Delivered? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=703

When was “The Faith” Delivered?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Recently we received a very interesting question from one of our readers. It is noteworthy for two reasons. First, many of us have probably never heard the question. (I have been working for more than 20 years in Bible study and teaching of various types and had never heard it.) Second, the answer is extremely simple, but might not appear that obvious at the outset.
The question is, how could the book of Jude be a part of “the faith” (meaning the body of New Testament teaching recognized as “the faith”) if the book of Jude states that the faith “was once and for all delivered to the saints” (vs. 3)? If Jude says “the faith” was “delivered” once and for all in the past, then how could his writing, being written after the fact, be part of “the faith”? Along those same lines, how could Peter state that God “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), if Peter was writing material after that statement was made that pertained to “life and godliness”?
The simple answer lies in the fact that when something is recorded is not necessarily when it is “delivered.” Throughout the first century, God inspired the apostles and various first century prophets to deliver “the faith” to the early church. Much of that material, however, was preached long before it was written down. For instance, God inspired Peter and the apostles to preach the Gospel on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. That sermon was not recorded, however, until about 30 years later by the inspired writer Luke. Since that is the case, we understand that the material had been delivered to the church long before it was preserved in written form by the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.
This fact is evident in the books of 2 Peter and Jude, the two books under discussion. Both authors made a special point to insist that they were reminding their audiences of material that was already out there and available. For instance, Peter stated, “I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12). Later in the book he stated, “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder)” (2 Peter 3:1). Jude made similar statements when he wrote, “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this” (vs. 5). And when he stated, “remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” These authors insist that they are reminding their readers of material that the readers had access to before they read these letters.
When we stop to consider the situation, this would have to be the case. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would help the apostles know what to say when they stood before rulers (Matthew 10:19). Yet we read of only a very few instances of such messages in Acts. Certainly it was the case that Matthew, Andrew, Thomas, and the other apostles preached inspired messages that we have no record of. In 1 Corinthians 14:31, we learn that certain people in the Corinthian church were prophets, but we do not have a record of their messages. The point is this: throughout the first century, the Holy Spirit was delivering “all things” (John 14:26), guiding the inspired writers into “all truth” (John 16:13), and making known “the faith” to the church in a number of ways. When we see it preserved by an inspired writer, that does not mean it had not been previously delivered in one form or another to the church prior to that.

The RNA World Hypothesis Explained and Unexplained by Kathleen Hamrick Will Brooks, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2317

The RNA World Hypothesis Explained and Unexplained

by  Kathleen Hamrick
Will Brooks, Ph.D.

[Editor’s Note: The following article was written by A.P. auxiliary staff scientist Will Brooks and one of his students. Dr. Brooks holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and serves as Assistant Professor of Biology at Freed-Hardeman University.]
One of the goals within the discipline of biology is to define life. This goal, however, is no simple task. While we can have an intuitive understanding of what it means to be alive, forming this understanding into a precise definition of life poses a dilemma for scientists. Life comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, and forms, so placing all these variations of life into one nice definition is seemingly impossible. To circumvent this problem, scientists have defined life by stating characteristics shared by all life forms. To be considered “alive,” a system of molecules must possess each of these characteristics. Examples include (1) the ability to sense and respond to stimuli, (2) the ability to acquire and utilize materials for energy, (3) the ability to store genetic information in the form of DNA, and (4) the ability to self-replicate. All living organisms share these basic characteristics, and those systems of molecules which lack even one of these basic characteristics is not considered to be a living organism.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic material used by all living organisms to code for life. DNA can be thought of as the genetic fingerprint of each organism because it is unique to each species of organism. During the process of self-replication, this genetic code is duplicated and identical copies (discounting rare instances of mutation) are given to each progeny of an organism, maintaining the fingerprint and thus the identity of that organism. The function of DNA as the genetic material of an organism is to provide a code for the production of another group of molecules known as proteins. Proteins serve a host of functions for an organism. They are known, appropriately, as the workhorses of a cell, because they carry out the vast majority of organismal tasks, including catalysis.
A catalyst is any substance capable of increasing the speed of a chemical reaction. Within each living organism on Earth, millions of chemical reactions take place every minute. The majority of these reactions are prompted by a very large group of protein catalysts known as enzymes. These enzyme-mediated chemical reactions range from those used to synthesize various metabolites to those used to break down ingested foods. By serving as enzyme catalysts, proteins play a crucial role in all living organisms. For without enzymes, organisms would be both unable to break down the food that they ingest and unable to make the necessary metabolites needed to sustain life.
While the vast majority of functional enzymes within living organisms are proteins, scientists have discovered that another group of molecules, known as ribonucleic acids (RNAs), are also capable of catalyzing some chemical reactions (Kruger, et al., 1982). RNAs are very similar in structure to DNA, differing only in the type of sugar used to form the molecules—DNA utilizes deoxyribose and RNA utilizes ribose. While DNA is the vital genetic code that is passed down between parents and offspring, RNA also plays an important role. Ribonucleic acids are a messenger system that carries the DNA code from the cell’s nucleus, the home of DNA, to the cellular cytoplasm where proteins are synthesized. These are known as messenger RNAs (mRNA). Furthermore, another group of RNAs, known as ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs), is used along with proteins to build the cellular structure known as the ribosome, which is the cellular location at which proteins are made. So, RNA plays several related roles in the process of protein production: (1) it carries the genetic code from DNA to the ribosome, (2) it helps form the structure of the ribosome, and (3) it functions in catalysis.
While there are a few other examples (reviewed in Fedor and Williamson, 2005), the catalytic properties of RNA are best seen in the ribosome. When proteins are synthesized by an organism’s cells, small units known as amino acids are chemically linked together to form a long, linear chain. This chain of amino acids is known as a polypeptide or protein. The chemical bond that links together each amino acid in the chain is called the peptide bond. Because each of the 20 amino acids are very similar in structure, the same peptide bond is formed between every unit of the polypeptide chain. The chemical reaction that forms this peptide bond requires catalysis. The protein-rRNA complex that we know as the ribosome has long been known to serve as the site as well as the catalyst in forming the peptide bond. But, scientists were surprised to discover that the protein component only serves as a structural element of the ribosome. It is the RNA component of the ribosome that serves as the catalyst (Nissen, et al., 2000). This catalytic RNA has thus been termed a ribozyme.
Later it was discovered that yet another group of RNAs, the small nuclear RNAs (snRNA), were also capable of catalyzing a chemical reaction (Valadkhan and Manley, 2001). When produced by the cell, mRNA must undergo a series of maturation steps before it is fully functional as a genetic message (Alberts, et al., 2002, pp. 317-327). One of these steps toward maturity is the process of splicing. Newly synthesized mRNA contains large regions, spread throughout its length, that do not directly code for protein production. These non-coding regions are called introns. To make the mRNA mature and functional as a code, each intron must be removed from the mRNA and the remaining coding regions, known as exons, must be linked or spliced back together. These “cut-and-paste” events occur within the cell’s nucleus within a structure that we call the spliceosome. Like the ribosome, the spliceosome is a large complex of both protein and RNA, in this case snRNA. Amusingly, these protein-RNA complexes have been dubbed small nuclear ribonucleoproteins or “snurps.” Interestingly, scientists found that not protein, but RNAs were responsible for catalyzing the chemical reactions that take place during these splicing events. RNAs were carrying out chemical reactions on other RNAs.
Scientists were very excited by these revolutionary findings. Now, they had a single type of molecule, RNA, that possessed two very important properties. First, it was very similar in structure to DNA and thus theoretically could also store genetic information. Second, it could function as a catalyst like proteins. In 1986, Walter Gilbert coined the phrase “RNA World” and initiated what is now known as the RNA World Hypothesis (Gilbert, 1986). This hypothesis on the origin of life states simply that because RNA has the dual ability to both store genetic information and catalyze chemical reactions, it must pre-date DNA and proteins, both of which supposedly evolved after and perhaps from the RNA.
The RNA World Hypothesis is widely accepted by evolutionists, because it provides an alleged solution to a long-recognized problem in evolutionary theory. Consider how proteins are made by a cell. First, DNA which holds the genetic code is converted into RNA through a process known as transcription. This process is similar to how one would copy a letter from one piece of paper onto another sheet. The contents of the letter remain unchanged, only the medium—the paper—has changed. RNA carries this information to the ribosome, where it is read and used as a code to make a protein through a process known as translation. This process can be compared to translating the copy of the letter from one language into another. Nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) is changed into another molecule altogether: protein. This linear progression of DNA to RNA to protein is known in biology as the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology (Alberts, et al., 2002, p. 301). Of the three components in the path, only DNA has the capacity to be replicated. So, while DNA stores the genetic code and can be replicated, it cannot perform any chemical reactions. And, while protein can perform chemical reactions, it cannot store genetic information. So, in evolutionary thinking, which came first—DNA or protein? Making the problem even more difficult, DNA relies upon proteins during its own replication. DNA does not self-replicate of its own accord. It must have protein enzymes to facilitate this process. So, what came first—the chicken or the egg? DNA or protein? Each relies upon the other. You should begin to see how RNA might solve this problem. If RNA can both store genetic information and catalyze chemical reactions, and if it evolved first, we have a single molecule that stores information and can catalyze its own replication, a self-replicating genetic material.
In order to prove this theory plausible, a set of conditions must be created to favor the spontaneous formation of RNA molecules without the aid of a biological catalyst. This would have had to be the starting point for an RNA world. One necessary component for RNA formation would be a steady supply of nucleotides, the building blocks of RNA. Scientists speculate these nucleotides were created from other small molecules present, or were generated in space before arriving on earth. Ribose, the sugar used in RNA, is assumed to have arisen from formaldehyde via the formose reaction. The mystery of the addition of nucleotides onto a ribose backbone remains unsolved by scientists attempting to create conditions of a primitive Earth (Müller, 2006, 63:1279-1280). Once these RNA molecules were formed completely by chance, they would have to have possessed or evolved the ability to catalyze reactions leading to self-replication. After sustaining itself through several replications, the RNA would then need to gain the ability to create a barrier between the extraneous materials surrounding it, in order to isolate the beneficial products from those proving non-functional. Thus, a membrane of sorts would have had to evolve and be maintained (Müller, 63:1285-1286). These steps are only the basics, proving the task much too complicated to occur by mere chance.
In all known organisms living today, DNA and not RNA is the genetic material. DNA has advantages over RNA which make it a more suitable molecule to store the very important genetic code. First, DNA is a double-stranded molecule while RNA is single-stranded. The double-stranded nature of DNA gives it the ability to be replicated in a much simpler series of steps. When DNA is replicated, each of the two complimentary strands serves as a template on which to build another strand. The result is that in one step, each strand of DNA is replicated to produce four total DNA strands or two identical double helices. RNA, however, is single-stranded. In order for it to be replicated, two sequential rounds of replication would be required. First, a complimentary strand would need to be synthesized from the original parental strand. Only then could that new complimentary strand be used to re-make the parental strand. As stated before, DNA and RNA differ in the sugar which makes up the molecule’s backbone. Deoxyribose, the sugar used in DNA, differs from ribose used in RNA, by lacking one organic functional group known as alcohol. The absence of this alcohol group greatly increases the stability of DNA over RNA. In ribonucleic acids, this
–OH group is capable of initiating chemical reactions which favor breakdown of the RNA molecule. For these and other reasons, DNA is a much more stable and preferable genetic material. This is made obvious by the fact that all living organisms use DNA, not RNA, as their permanent storage medium of genetic information. It also indicates that RNA would be an unsuitable medium by which to initiate life.
Evolutionists would have us to believe that non-living elements and molecules joined together and developed increasing biological capabilities. Those who believe in intelligent design reject this hypothesis, insisting that neither RNA nor living cells are able to evolve spontaneously. While some disagreement exists among those in the evolutionary community on the time frame for such alleged reactions to occur, the consensus is that, given large amounts of time, single-celled bacteria were formed. But all known biological principles militate against this notion. Even billions of years could not provide mechanisms for the reaction products to evolve advantageous characteristics and form DNA and cell proteins, let alone create strings of RNA nucleotides, arriving at just the right sequence in order to code for a functional protein. The four nucleotide bases that form RNA (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil) can be arranged in an exponential array of combinations and lengths. For an actual, functional protein to be coded, a precise sequence of nucleotides must be obtained. Forming the code for even one protein by evolutionary means is impossible, without even considering the necessity of the number that work together in a single cell.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that RNA is spontaneously being created and capable of forming pre-cellular life today. While some artificial ribozymes have been created in the laboratory (reviewed in Chen, et al., 2007), there are still significant holes in reproducing an RNA world to support the hypothesis. The ribozymes created artificially lack the abilities to sufficiently process themselves, and there is no evidence of them producing large quantities of advantageous nucleotide sequences. Moreover, no system has ever created cellular life. There is even significant debate among scientists over the conditions and constituents of a “prebiotic Earth” model.
The RNA World Hypothesis is simply another attempt by scientists to explain the origin of life to the exclusion of the divine Creator. Given the absolute impossibility of life originating from the reactions of non-living matter, it can be justified that RNA did not predate other biological molecules. All biological molecules were created together to work in concert. RNA was designed to be the essential intermediate between DNA and proteins, making our cells capable of sustaining life as it was created. The designer of this system must be the intelligent Designer, the God of the Bible.

REFERENCES

Alberts, Bruce, et al. (2002), Molecular Biology of the Cell (Oxford: Garland Science).
Chen, Xi, et al. (2007), “Ribozyme Catalysis of Metabolism in the RNA World,” Chemistry and Biodiversity, 4:633-656.
Fedor, Martha and James Williamson (2005), “The Catalytic Diversity of RNAs,” Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 6(5):399-412.
Gilbert, Walter (1986), “The RNA World,” Nature, 319:618.
Kruger, Kelly, et al. (1982), “Self-splicing RNA: Autoexcision and Autocyclization of the Ribosomal RNA Intervening Sequence of Tetrahymena,” Cell, 31(1):147-57.
Müller, U.F. (2006),Re-creating an RNA World,” Cellular and Molecular Life Science, 63:1278-1293.
Nissen, Poul, et al. (2000), “The Structural Basis of Ribosome Activity in Peptide Bond Synthesis,” Science, 289:920-930.
Valadkhan, Saba and James Manley (2001), “Splicing-related Catalysis by Protein-free snRNAs,” Nature, 6857:701-707.

Marriage Defined by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=4365

Marriage Defined

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

As legislators are fighting over the legitimacy of same-sex marriages, activist judges are claiming constitutional sanction in their redefining of marriage, and the rank and file citizens of these United States are embroiled in a polarizing culture war, it is nevertheless unthinkable that the President of these United States has announced his approval of homosexuality. If God exists and the Bible is His revealed Word, then America is facing imminent peril. The evaporation of Christian principles from American civilization will lead to the extinction of civility, freedom, and morality.
In the midst of such depressing circumstances, the spiritually minded may find refreshment in the words of bygone U.S. Supreme Courts. For example, in the 1885 case of Murphy v. Ramsey that addressed the legitimacy of polygamy, the high court declared:
For certainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the coordinate States of the Union, than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement (1885, emp. added).
Observe that the high Court insisted that the stability of a nation and its proper progress rely on the home composed of one man for one woman for life—the precise declaration of God Himself (Genesis 2:24). For most of American history, courts have had no trouble recognizing and reaffirming the idea of the family and the historic definition of marriage. Such thinking was in complete agreement with and based upon the Bible (Genesis 2:24).
In another U.S. Supreme Court case, Reynolds v. United States, after conceding the constitutional right to freedom of religion, the high court nevertheless repudiated polygamy as a punishable offense against society and reaffirmed the foundational importance of monogamy: “Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law. Upon it society may be said to be built” (1879, emp. added). Those legal sentiments reflected the views of the vast majority of Americans for the first 180+ years of American history. Departure from that social norm—one man and one woman—results in the destabilization of society.
No wonder in 1848, the Supreme Court of South Carolina articulated the sentiment of the Founders and early Americans regarding what will happen if Christian morality is abandoned:
What constitutes the standard of good morals? Is it not Christianity? There certainly is none other. Say that cannot be appealed to and...what would be good morals? The day of moral virtue in which we live would, in an instant, if that standard were abolished, lapse into the dark and murky night of pagan immorality (City Council of Charleston..., emp. added).
Practitioners of unscriptural divorce, homosexuality, and other sinister behaviors are slowly but surely eroding and dissolving the moral foundations of American civilization—what the Court called “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.” Will America awaken from this spiritual stupor? Will Christians rise up and react in time? The time has come for those who still retain their moral sensibilities to recognize that we are in a full-scale, unmistakable war—a culture war—a spiritual war of seismic proportions against the governmental authorities and cultural forces that now are openly hostile toward God, Christ, and the Bible. May we take heart and commit ourselves to this critical struggle, as we consider the words of God through Paul:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:10-13, emp. added).

REFERENCES

City Council of Charleston v. Benjamin (1848), 2 Strob. L. 508 (S.C. 1848).
Murphy v. Ramsey (1885), 114 U.S. 15; 5 S. Ct. 747; 29 L. Ed. 47; 1885 U.S. LEXIS 1732.
Reynolds v. United States (1879), 98 U.S. 145; 25 L. Ed. 244; 1878 U.S. LEXIS 1374; 8 Otto 145.

Reasoning About the Resurrection of Christ by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=3689

Reasoning About the Resurrection of Christ

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The resurrection of Christ is central to the faith of every Christian. Without a firm belief that “God has raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9), salvation from sin is impossible. Paul wrote: “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Without the good news of Jesus’ defeat of death, the Gospel is void of its power to save mankind (cf. Romans 1:16). If Christ was not “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,” there would be no “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Rather, every accountable person would lie “dead in trespasses” (Ephesians 2:1,5) without hope of becoming “a new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Truly, the resurrection of Christ provides the substance for the Christian’s hope and the solid foundation on which to build his faith.
Is it any surprise, then, that first-century evangelists put so much emphasis on Jesus’ resurrection? Peter specifically mentioned how the apostle chosen to take the place of Judas was to become a witness of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:22). A short while later, Peter preached to thousands of Jews in Jerusalem a sermon that hinged on the empty tomb of Christ (Acts 2:24,31-32). He then spoke in the temple about the Lord’s resurrection (Acts 3:15,26), and afterward witnessed to this fact before the highest court of the Jews (4:10; 5:29-32). The apostle similarly witnessed to the Gentiles, beginning with Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:30). Paul repeatedly spoke of the resurrection of Christ in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:30,33,34,37), reasoned from the Scriptures about it in Thessalonica (Acts 17:3), and then gave testimony of this fact before both Festus and Agrippa (Acts 26:22-25).
First-century Christians frequently discussed the resurrection of Christ and were prepared to defend it using logical arguments comprised of sufficient evidence (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Acts 1:3; 26:22-23). Christ’s resurrection was fundamental to their faith and prominent in their preaching. It should be no less today. Hundreds of millions of people on Earth disbelieve in Jesus’ death-defying power. Skeptics scoff at the idea of Jesus coming back to life. Infidels in classrooms and media outlets throughout the world adamantly argue against it, alleging that “the bodily resurrection of Jesus did not happen on good biblical grounds,” and it certainly “did not happen on good historical grounds” (Barker, 1996).
In the past, we have discussed various irrefutable proofs for the resurrection of Christ (see Butt, 2002). In this issue of Reason & Revelation, we respond to four questions that skeptics are fond of asking as they attempt to discredit the Bible’s portrayal of this earth-shaking event (Matthew 28:2).

WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT JESUS’ RESURRECTION?

Most anyone who has spent much time reading the Scriptures knows that the Bible writers mentioned several individuals who rose from the dead. After the widow’s son of Zarephath died, Elijah prayed to God, “and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived” (1 Kings 17:22). A few years later, the prophet Elisha raised the dead son of a Shunammite (2 Kings 4:32-35). Then, after Elisha’s death, a dead man, in the process of being buried in the tomb of Elisha, was restored to life after touching Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20-21). While on Earth Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mark 5:21-24,35-43), as well as the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-16), and Lazarus—who had been buried for four days (John 11:1-45). Matthew recorded how after Jesus’ death and resurrection “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (27:52-53, emp. added). Then later, during the early years of the church, Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-43), while Paul raised the young man Eutychus, who had died after falling from a third-story window (Acts 20:7-12).
All of these people died and later rose to live again. Although some of the individuals arose very shortly after death, Lazarus and (most likely) the saints who were raised after the resurrection of Jesus were entombed longer than was Jesus. In view of all of these resurrections, some have asked, “What is so important about Jesus’ resurrection?” If others in the past have died to live again, what makes His resurrection so special? The former editor of Biblical Errancy, Dennis McKinsey, once mockingly asked:
Why would it [Jesus’ resurrection—EL] be of any consequence since...many others rose before Jesus? By the time he rose this was a rather common occurrence. I would think it would have been met by a resounding yawn rather than surprise followed by: So what else can you do? Adam’s act of coming into the world as a full grown adult is more spectacular (n.d.).
Given the fact that Jesus is not the only person ever to come back to life, what is it that makes His resurrection unique? Why is the resurrection of Jesus more significant than any other?
First, the resurrection of Jesus is more significant than any other resurrection simply because the inspired apostles and prophets said that it was. Critics may sneer at this response, but it is a valid point. Jesus did certain things that others did, including being raised from the dead, but His actions were more significant because of the statements attached to them. Consider the miracles Jesus performed in order to set Himself apart as the Son of God and promised Messiah. Many people throughout the Bible worked miracles in order to confirm their divine message (cf. Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:1-4), but only Jesus did them as proof of His divine nature. Once, during the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, a group of Jews surrounded Jesus and asked, “How long do you keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24)? Jesus responded to them saying, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.... I and My Father are one” (John 10:25,30). These Jews understood that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God in the flesh (cf. 10:33,36), and Jesus wanted them to understand that this truth could be confirmed by the miracles that He worked.
The miracles testified to His deity (John 20:30-31). Why? Because He said they did (10:25,35-38; cf. John 5:36). The miracles that Jesus performed bore witness to the fact that He was from the Father (John 5:36), because He said He was from the Father. A miracle in and of itself did not mean the person who worked it was deity. Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Peter, Paul, and a host of others worked miracles, with some even raising people from the dead. But none did so for the purpose of proving they were God in the flesh. The apostles and prophets of the New Testament worked miracles to confirm their message that Jesus was the Son of God, not to prove that they were God (cf. Acts 14:8-18). Jesus, on the other hand, performed miracles to bear witness that He was the Son of God, just as He claimed to be (cf. John 9:35-38).
Similarly, one fundamental reason that Jesus’ miraculous resurrection is more important to a Christian than the resurrections of Lazarus, Tabitha, Eutychus, or anyone else who was raised from the dead, is simply because the Bible writers explained that it was more important. There is no record of anyone alleging that Lazarus was God’s Son based on his resurrection, nor did the early church claim divinity for Eutychus or Tabitha because they died and came back to life. None of the aforementioned individuals who was resurrected ever claimed that the resurrection was proof of deity, nor did any inspired prophet or apostle. On the other hand, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power...by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). His resurrection was different because of Who He was—the Son of God. Thus, just as the miracles He worked during His earthly ministry testified of His divine message, and hence His divine nature, so did His resurrection.
A second reason why Jesus’ resurrection stands out above all others is because it alone was specifically foretold in the Old Testament. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter affirmed that God had raised Jesus from the dead because it was not possible for the grave to hold Him. As proof, he quoted Psalm 16:8‑11 in the following words:
I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence (Acts 2:25-28).
Peter then explained this quote from the book of Psalms by saying:
Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses (Acts 2:29-32).
The apostle Paul also believed that the psalmist bore witness to Christ, and spoke of His resurrection. In his address at Antioch of Pisidia, he said:
And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: “I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Therefore He also says in another Psalm: “You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:32‑39).
Where is the prophecy for the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter? When did the prophets ever foretell of Eutychus or Tabitha’s resurrection? They did not. No resurrected person other than Jesus had his or her resurrection foretold by an Old Testament prophet, nor did any inspired apostle or prophet in the first century apply Old Testament prophecies to them. This certainly makes Jesus’ resurrection unique.
Third, Jesus’ resurrection is more significant than any other because He prophesied numerous times that He would rise from the dead, even foretelling the exact day on which it would occur. Jesus told some scribes and Pharisees on one occasion, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40, emp. added). Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded how Jesus “began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21, emp. added; cf. Mark 8:31-32; Luke 9:22). While Jesus and His disciples were in Galilee, Jesus reminded them, saying, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up” (Matthew 17:22-23, emp. added).
cave
Christians do not serve a lifeless lord, but a Risen Redeemer Whose tomb was found empty nearly 2,000 years ago.
Just before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus again reminded His disciples, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19, emp. added). Jesus’ prophecies concerning His resurrection and the specific day on which it would occur were so widely known that, after Jesus’ death, His enemies requested that Pilate place a guard at the tomb, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day...” (Matthew 27:63-64, emp. added). They knew exactly what Jesus had said He would do, and they did everything in their power to stop it.
Where are the prophecies from the widow’s son of Zarephath? Did he prophesy of his resurrection prior to his death? Or what about the son of the Shunammite woman that Elisha raised from the dead? Where are his personal prophecies? Truly, no one who rose from the dead except Jesus prophesied about his or her own resurrection. And certainly no one ever prophesied about the exact day on which he or she would rise from the dead, save Jesus. This prior knowledge and prophecy makes His resurrection a significant event. He overcame death, just as He predicted. He did exactly what he said He was going to do, on the exact day He said He would do it.
Fourth, the uniqueness of Jesus’ resurrection is seen in the fact that He is the only resurrected person ever to have lived and died without having committed one sin during His lifetime. He was “pure” and “righteous” (1 John 3:3; 2:1), “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19), “Who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). No one else who has risen from the dead ever lived a perfect life, and then died prior to his or her resurrection for the purpose of taking away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29). Because Jesus lived a sinless life, died, and then overcame death in His resurrection, He alone has the honor of being called “the Lamb of God” and the “great High Priest” (Hebrews 4:14). “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many,” and because of His resurrection, “those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).
Finally, and perhaps most important, the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is seen in the fact that He was the first to rise from the dead never to die again. Since no one who has risen from the dead is still living on Earth, and since there is no evidence in the Bible that God ever took someone who had risen from the dead into heaven without his dying again, it is reasonable to conclude that all who ever rose from the dead, died in later years. Jesus, however, never died again. He rose from the grave to live forevermore. All others who previously were raised from the dead, died again, and are among those who “sleep” and continue to wait for the bodily resurrection. Only Jesus truly has conquered death. Only His bodily resurrection was followed by eternal life, rather than another physical death.
Skeptics have argued that “it’s the Resurrection, per se, that matters, not the fact that Jesus never died again” (see McKinsey, 1983, p. 1, emp. added). However, the inspired apostles said otherwise. Paul actually linked the two together while preaching in Antioch of Pisidia, saying, God “raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.... He whom God raised saw no corruption” (Acts 13:34,37, emp. added). Paul also impressed upon the minds of the Christians in Rome how Jesus, “having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Romans 6:9, emp. added). [Is it any wonder Paul testified before Agrippa and Festus how Jesus was “the first to rise from the dead” (Acts 26:23)? “[H]e was the first who rose again from the dead to return no more into the empire of death” (Clarke, 1996).] Jesus said of Himself: “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:17-18, emp. added). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews argued for a better life through Jesus on the basis of His termination of death. One reason for the inadequacy of the old priesthood was because “they were prevented by death.” Jesus, however, because He rose never to die again, “continues forever” in “an unchangeable priesthood,” and lives to make intercession for His people (Hebrews 7:23-25). As so often is the case, skeptics comment on the Bible without really knowing what the Bible says. To say, that “it’s the Resurrection, per se, that matters, not the fact that Jesus never died again” (McKinsey, 1983, p. 1), is to deny (or ignore) what the apostles and prophets actually stated.
Whether or not Eutychus, Tabitha, Lazarus, etc., rose from the grave, our relationship with God is not affected. Without Jesus’ resurrection, however, there would be no “Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Without Jesus’ resurrection, no suitable High Priest would be able to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). Without Jesus’ resurrection, we would have no assurance of His coming and subsequent judgment (Acts 17:31). Without Jesus’ resurrection, “we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Jesus’ resurrection is significant—more so than any other resurrection. Only Jesus’ resurrection was verbalized by inspired men as proof of His deity. Only Jesus’ resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament. Only Jesus foretold of the precise day on which He would rise from the grave—and then fulfilled that prediction. Only Jesus’ resurrection was preceded by a perfect life—a life lived, given up, and restored in the resurrection for the purpose of becoming man’s Prince, Savior, and Mediator. And, only Jesus rose never to die again.

WHY IS CHRIST CALLED THE “FIRST FRUITS”?

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul wrote at length concerning the resurrection of the dead because some of the Christians in Corinth taught “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (vs. 12). As one of his proofs for the Christian’s eventual resurrection, Paul pointed to the fact that Christ rose, and showed that the general resurrection stands or falls with Christ’s resurretion, saying, “if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile” (vss. 16-17)! After hypothetically arguing from the absurd in an attempt to help the Corinthian Christians to see that their stance on the final resurrection completely undermined Christianity, Paul proceeded to demonstrate that Christ had risen, making the resurrection of the dead inevitable. It is in this section of Scripture that some find a difficulty. Beginning with verse 20, Paul wrote:
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, emp. added).
In view of the fact that Jesus was not the first person ever to rise from the dead (as previously discussed), some have questioned why Paul twice described Jesus as “the firstfruits” from the dead. Did Paul err? Was he ignorant of all of the previous resurrections? In what sense did Paul speak of Christ as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”?
One could respond reasonably to these questions by pointing out the aforementioned fact that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead—never to die again. In this sense, Christ is “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). Another (and perhaps better) explanation to the question surrounding 1 Corinthians 15:20,23 and Paul’s use of the word “firstfruits” (Greek aparche) is to recognize the metaphor Paul employed. Under the old law, the firstfruits were the earliest gathered grains, fruits, and vegetables that the people dedicated to God in recognition of His faithfulness for providing the necessities of life. The Israelites were to offer to God a sheaf of the first grain that was harvested on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover feast (Leviticus 23:9-14). Paul used the term “firstfruits” in this letter to the Corinthian church to reinforce the certainty of the resurrection. Just as the term “firstfruits” indicates that “the first sheaf of the forthcoming grain harvest will be followed by the rest of the sheaves, Christ, the firstfruits raised from the dead, is the guarantee for all those who belong to him that they also will share in his resurrection” (Kistemaker, 1993, p. 548). Jesus is God’s “firstfruits” of the resurrection. And, like the Israelites, God will gather the rest of the harvest at the final resurrection. Paul seemingly wanted the Corinthians to understand (by way of metaphor) that Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of our resurrection. It is inevitable—a full harvest guaranteed by God Himself.

ON WHAT DAY DID JESUS RISE FROM THE DEAD?

The most frequent reference to Jesus’ resurrection reveals that He rose from the grave on the third day of His entombment. Matthew and Luke both record Jesus as prophesying that He would rise from the grave on this day (Matthew 17:23; Luke 9:22). The apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle to the Corinthians that Jesus arose from the grave “the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4, emp. added). And while preaching to Cornelius and his household, Peter taught that God raised Jesus up “on the third day” (Acts 10:40, emp. added). Skeptics are quick to contend, however, that these scriptures contradict various other passages. For example, Jesus predicted that He would “be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31, emp. added). On another occasion, Jesus told His apostles how His enemies would “mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again” (Mark 10:34, emp. added, NASB). In addition, He informed the Pharisees that He would be in the heart of the Earth for as long as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish—for “three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40). How can a person be expected to believe that Jesus rose from the grave if Jesus and the Bible writers could not even decide whether He rose from the grave on the third day or the fourth day?
In an attempt to solve this difficulty, some seemingly well-meaning individuals have espoused the idea that Jesus must have been crucified on Wednesday or Thursday, rather than on Friday (eg., Scroggie, 1948, pp. 569-577; Rusk, 1974, pp. 4-6). Because Jesus could not possibly have been in the grave for three nights if He died on Friday and rose on Sunday, some believe He must have died a day or two earlier. However, this is highly improbable. First, Mark 15:42 states that the evening of Christ’s crucifixion “was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,” and “[b]oth the Scriptures (Matt 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14,31,42) and Josephus indicate the day of preparation is the day before the weekly Sabbaths, namely, Friday” (Hoehner, 1974, 131:245; cf. Josephus, 16:6:2). Second, if Jesus died on Wednesday and rose on Sunday then He must have risen from the grave on the fourth day rather than “the third day.” What’s more, all attempts to place Jesus’ crucifixion and burial on Wednesday or Thursday instead of Friday are based more on a misunderstanding of a Hebrew idiom concerning time than actual evidence.
While statements such as “on the third day,” “after three days,” and “three days and three nights” may appear contradictory at first glance, in reality they harmonize perfectly if one understands the more liberal methods ancients used to reckon time. In the first century, any part of a day could be computed for the whole day and the night following it (cf. Lightfoot, 1979, pp. 210-211). The Jerusalem Talmud quotes rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who lived around A.D. 100, as saying: “A day and night are an Onah [‘a portion of time’] and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it” (Shabbath ix. 3, as quoted in Hoehner, 1974, 131:248-249, bracketed comment in orig.). Azariah indicated that a portion of a twenty-four hour period could be considered the same “as the whole of it.” Thus, in Jesus’ time one would have been correct in teaching that Jesus’ burial would last “three days and three nights,” even though it was not three complete 24-hour days.
Scripture is peppered with references which demonstrate that a part of a day was oftentimes equivalent to a whole day.
  • According to Genesis 7:12, the rain of the Noahic Flood was upon the Earth “forty days and forty nights.” Verse seventeen of that same chapter says it was on the Earth for just “forty days.” Obviously, “forty days” and “forty days and forty nights” refer to the same time period in this context.
  • During the reign of King Ahab, Israel and Syria “encamped opposite each other for seven days” (1 Kings 20:29, emp. added). Yet, “on the seventh day the battle was joined” and Israel killed 100,000 Syrian foot soldiers (20:29). Clearly, the two armies did not occupy their camps for a full seven days, but for six days and a part of the seventh. The remainder of day seven was spent in battle.
  • When Joseph’s brothers came to visit him for the first time since selling him into Egyptian bondage more than a decade earlier (Genesis 37:12-36), Joseph incarcerated them for “three days” (Genesis 42:17). The text then reveals that he spoke to them “the third day,” and 42:18-24 represents them as being released that day—i.e., the third day. If Joseph’s brothers (with the exception of Simeon, 42:24) were released on day three of their imprisonment, then the “three days” they spent in the prison (42:17) are not equivalent to three 24-hour periods, but rather parts of three days.
  • When the Israelites visited King Rehoboam and asked him to lighten their burdens (2 Chronicles 10:3-4), he wanted time to contemplate their request, so he instructed Jeroboam and the people of Israel to return “after three days” (10:5, emp. added). Verse twelve of that chapter indicates that Jeroboam and the people of Israel came to Rehoboam “on the third day, as the king had directed, saying, ‘Come back to me the third day’” (emp. added). Fascinating, is it not, that even though Rehoboam instructed his people to return “after three days,” they understood him to mean “on the third day” (cf. 1 Kings 12:5,12).
  • When Queen Esther was about to risk her life by going before King Ahasuerus uninvited, she instructed her fellow Jews to follow her example by not eating or drinking “for three days, night or day” (Esther 4:16, emp. added). Yet, the text then tells us that Esther went in to the king “on the third day” (5:1, emp. added).
By studying these and other passages, one can see clearly that the Bible uses expressions like “three days,” “the third day,” “on the third day,” “after three days,” and “three days and three nights” to signify the same period of time. Again, “[a]ccording to the Oriental mode of reckoning, three consecutive parts of days were counted three days” (Jamieson, et. al., 1997, emp. added).
From Acts 10, we can glean further insight into the ancient practice of counting consecutive days (in part or in whole) as complete days. Luke recorded how an angel appeared to Cornelius at “about the ninth hour of the day” (approximately 3:00 p.m.; 10:3). “The next day” (10:9) Peter received a vision from God and welcomed visitors sent by Cornelius. “On the next day” (10:23) Peter and the servants of Cornelius departed for Caesarea. “And the following day they entered Caesarea” where Peter taught Cornelius and his household the Gospel (10:24). At one point during Peter’s visit, Cornelius spoke about his encounter with the angel of God. Notice carefully how he began the rehearsal of the event. He stated: “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour...” (10:30, NASB, emp. added). Although the event really had occurred only 72 hours (or three literal days) earlier, Cornelius spoke of it as taking place “four days ago to this hour.” Why four days instead of three? Because according to the first-century method of reckoning time, a part of the first day and a part of the fourth day were counted as whole days. Surely one can see how this information aligns itself perfectly with Jesus’ burial taking place on Friday and His resurrection occurring on Sunday. A part of Friday, all day Saturday, and a part of Sunday would be considered three days in ancient times, not one or two.
Even though in 21st-century America some may find this reasoning somewhat confusing, similar idiomatic expressions are used frequently today. For example, we consider a baseball game that ends after only completing 8½ innings a “9-inning game.” And even though the losing pitcher on the visiting team only pitched 8 innings (and not 9 innings like the winning pitcher from the home team), he is said to have pitched a complete game. Think about the college student who explains to his professor that he worked on a research project “day and night for four weeks.” He obviously does not mean that he worked for a solid 672 hours (24 hours x 7 days x 4 weeks) without sleeping. It may be that he worked from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. for four weeks on the project, but not 672 sleepless hours. If he only slept five or six hours a night, and worked on the project nearly every hour he was awake, we would consider this person as one who truly did work “day and night for four weeks.” Finally, consider the guest at a hotel who checks in at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, and checks out at 3:30 p.m. Thursday—less than 24 hours later. Did the man stay one day or two days at the hotel? Technically, the guest was there for less than one full day (24-hour period), yet the hotel legally can charge him for two days since he did not leave before the mandatory 11:00 a.m. checkout time. Considering how flexible we are in measuring time, perhaps we should not be surprised at how liberal the ancients were in calculating time.
Further evidence proving that Jesus’ statements regarding His burial were not contradictory center around the fact that even His enemies did not accuse Him of contradicting Himself. No doubt this was due to their familiarity with and use of the flexible, customary method of stating time. In fact, the chief priests and Pharisees even said to Pilate the day after Jesus was crucified: “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day” (Matthew 27:63-64, emp. added). The phrase “after three days” must have been equivalent to “the third day,” else surely the Pharisees would have asked for a guard of soldiers until the fourth day. Interesting, is it not, that modern skeptics charge Jesus with contradicting Himself, but not the hypercritical Pharisees of His own day.
The idiomatic expressions that Jesus and the Bible writers employed to denote how long Jesus would remain in the grave does not mean that He literally was buried for 72 hours. If we interpret the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection in light of the cultural setting of the first century, and not according to the present-day (mis)understanding of skeptics, we find no errors in any of the expressions that Jesus and the gospel writers used.

DID JESUS HAVE THE SAME PHYSICAL BODY
AFTER HIS RESURRECTION AS BEFORE?

A gentleman once e-mailed our offices at Apologetics Press, questioning whether Jesus had the same body after His resurrection as He did before being raised from the grave. According to this man, Jesus “appeared to people He knew but nobody recognized Him.... It’s as though He had a different body”—and possibly one that was not physical.
At the outset, it is incorrect to assert that “nobody recognized Him,” because Matthew 28:9,17 clearly implies that at least some of Jesus’ disciples knew Who He was and worshiped Him. Moreover, that Jesus had essentially the same body after His resurrection that He had when He died on the cross is evident from at least three different passages. In Luke 24:39, Jesus stated: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” Jesus expected His disciples to observe His physical body. Later in the same chapter, we read that Jesus ate a meal with His disciples (24:42-43; cf. Acts 10:41). And then in John 20:25-29, which is the most frequently cited passage in defense of Christ having a physical body, Jesus asked Thomas to touch His nail-scared hands and reach into His side that had been pierced with the Roman spear.
But what about those occasions when some of His disciples did not recognize Him? Do such verses as Luke 24:31,37 and John 20:10-16 represent a contradictory element in the resurrection story? First, just because the text says that the disciples thought they had seen a spirit when they actually saw Jesus (Luke 24:37), does not indicate that He looked different. Since they knew He had been killed, seeing His resurrected body caused them to think that He was in spirit form rather than physical. On one occasion, before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, His disciples were startled at His appearance, supposing He was a ghost (Mark 6:49). A similar thing happened to Peter when some thought his unexpected presence must have been an indication that it was “his angel” (Acts 12:15).
Second, the reason the two disciples who were traveling on the road to Emmaus failed to recognize Jesus initially was not because Jesus had a different body, but because God miraculously prevented them from recognizing Him. Luke 24:16 indicates that at the beginning of their conversation with Jesus “their eyes were restrained,” but then just before Jesus vanished from their sight, “their eyes were opened and they knew Him” (24:31). Thus, the disciples’ recognition ability failed, not because Jesus possessed a different body, but because their eyes were miraculously restrained.
A final person often mentioned as not having recognized the Savior (allegedly because Jesus had a different body) is Mary Magdalene. John 20:11-18 certainly testifies of her initial inability to identify Jesus. The question is: Was Mary’s failure to recognize Jesus her fault, or the result of Jesus having a different body? As with the above cases, there is no indication in John 20:11-18 that Jesus had anything other than His risen crucified body (cf. 20:25-29). There are at least four possibilities, however, as to why Mary failed to recognize Jesus right at first.
  1. The Sun may not have risen all the way yet, thus making it difficult to see (cf. 20:1).
  2. Mary was engaged in deep weeping that likely obscured her vision (20:11,13). In fact, the first words Jesus said to Mary were, “Woman, why are you weeping?” (vs. 15).
  3. Considering Jesus’ clothes were taken from Him when He was crucified (John 19:23-24), and that the linen cloths which were used in His burial were lying in the tomb (John 20:6-7), Jesus likely was wearing clothes that made His exact identity less conspicuous at first glance. Perhaps His post-resurrection attire was similar to what a gardener or watchman would wear (cf. John 20:15).
  4. It also is possible that Mary’s eyes were restrained miraculously, as were the eyes of the disciples with whom Jesus conversed on the road to Emmaus.
Once all of the Scriptures are taken into account, one can see that Jesus physically rose from the grave in essentially the same body that was crucified on the cross. The fact that some of Jesus’ disciples did not immediately recognize Him in no way contradicts His physical resurrection.

CONCLUSION

The inspired accounts of the risen Redeemer have been the focus of much criticism through the years (cf. Barker, 1992, pp. 178-184; McKinsey, 2000, pp. 447-454). However, when the honest, open-hearted student of the Bible looks carefully at the evidence, he will come to realize that these criticisms are actually the result either of insufficient knowledge or hardened hearts. Truly, the more one studies the passages of Scripture in which Jesus’ resurrection is discussed, as well as the historical context in which this momentous event occurred, the more he will see how incredibly accurate and trustworthy the Bible writers were.

REFERENCES

Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith in Faith (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).
Barker, Dan (1996), “Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?,” Debate with Michael Horner at the University of Northern Iowa, April 2, [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dan_barker/barker_horner.html.
Butt, Kyle (2002), “Jesus Christ—Dead or Alive?,” Reason & Revelation, 22[2]:9-15, February.
Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Hoehner, Harold W. (1974), “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ—Part IV: The Day of Christ’s Crucifixion,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 131:241-264, July.
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Josephus, Flavius (1987 edition), “Antiquities of the Jews,” The Works of Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Kistemaker, Simon J. (1993), Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Lightfoot, John (1979 reprint), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (no date), “The Bible is God’s Word?,” [On-line], URL: http://members.aol.com/ckbloomfld/pamphlets.html.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1983), “Commentary,” Biblical Errancy, February.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Rusk, Roger (1974), “The Day He Died,” Christianity Today, March 29.
Scroggie, W. Graham (1948), A Guide to the Gospels (London: Pinkering & Inglis).