From Mark Copeland... "THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 32 - The Blessedness Of Confessing Sin

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

              Psalm 32 - The Blessedness Of Confessing Sin


1) To note the connection between this psalm and Psalm 51

2) To observe the use and possible meaning of the word "Maschil"

3) To be impressed with the importance of confessing our sins to God


This psalm was written by David (cf. Ro 4:6-8) and is generally thought
to have been composed after he received forgiveness in the matter of
Bathsheba (cf. 2Sa 11:1-12:15).  In seeking forgiveness, he had
promised to "teach transgressors Your ways" (cf. Ps 51:13), and with
this psalm he fulfill his promise.  The heading calls this psalm a
"Maschil", possibly meaning a poem of contemplation or meditation.  It
certainly qualifies as a didactic or instructive psalm (cf. Ps 32:8).

It begins with stating the blessedness or joy of forgiveness, where the
Lord does not count one's sins against him, and in whose spirit there is
no guile (1-2).  What led David to this conclusion was first the curse
of remaining silent, in which he experienced both physical and emotional
stress.  This was partly due to the guilt of sin itself, but David also
mentions the chastening hand of the Lord upon him (3-4).

But then he confessed his sin to the Lord, and the Lord forgave him.
This prompts Dave to bless (speak well of) God as a source of protection
easily found by the godly in time of trouble, Who will surround him
with songs of deliverance (5-7).

The psalm ends with David (though some think it is God speaking)
offering to instruct and teach one in the way he should go (cf. Psa
51:13).  With a caution not to be like the mule or horse which lacks
understanding and must be drawn near, David contrasts the sorrows of the
wicked with the mercy that will surround him who puts his trust in the
Lord.  This ought to cause the righteous to be glad in the Lord, and the
upright in heart to shout for joy (8-11).



   A. THE BLESSED MAN (1-2a)
      1. Is the one whose transgression is forgiven
      2. Is the one whose sin is covered
      3. Is the one to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity

      1. Is the one whose sins have been forgiven as described
      2. In whose spirit there is no deceit (for he has nothing to
         hide!) - cf. Re 14:5


      1. The psalmist remained silent about his sin
      2. The psalmist groaned all day long, his bones wasting away

      1. The heavy hand of the Lord was upon him day and night 
         - cf. Psa 38:1-11; 39:10-11
      2. His strength sapped as in the heat of summer


      1. He decided to acknowledge his sin to God
      2. He chose to no longer hide his sin
      3. He confessed his transgressions to the Lord

      1. The Lord forgave David the iniquity of his sin
      2. David blesses (speaks wells of) God for His forgiveness
         a. For this reason everyone who is godly shall pray to Him
            1) In a time when He may be found
            2) In a flood of great waters, they shall not come near
         b. God is his hiding place
            1) He shall preserve him from trouble
            2) He shall surround him with songs of deliverance


      1. To teach one the way he (or she) should go
      2. To guide one with his eye (his insight? perspective?)
      3. With a caution not to be like the horse or mule
         a. Which has no understanding
         b. Which has to be harnessed, or they will not come near

      1. Many sorrows will be to the wicked
      2. Mercy will surround the one who trusts in the Lord
         a. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous!
         b. Shout for joy, all you upright in heart!


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The joy of forgiveness (1-2)
   - The curse of silence (3-4)
   - The benefit of confession (5-7)
   - The value of trust (8-11)

2) What is the condition of the blessed man described in this psalm?
   - His transgression is forgiven
   - His sin is covered
   - The Lord does not impute iniquity against him
   - There is no deceit (guile) in his spirit

3) What had been the affect of keeping silent about his sin? (3-4)
   - His bones grew old through his groaning all day long
   - The hand of the Lord had been heavy on him day and night
   - His vitality had become like the drought of summer

4) What did he then decided to do?  What was the result? (5)
   - To confess his transgressions to the Lord
   - The Lord forgave him

5) What will the godly do when in need of forgiveness? (6)
   - Pray to God

6) What blessings does God provide for those who put their trust in Him?
   - In a flood of great waters, they shall not come near
   - He is their hiding place
   - He preserves them from trouble
   - He surrounds them with songs of deliverance

7) What does David (or perhaps God) offer to do in this psalm? (8)
   - Instruct and teach one in the way they should go
   - Guide one with his eye (insight, perspective?)

8) What warning is given concerning those who read this psalm? (9)
   - Don't be like the horse or mule, which lacking understanding have
     to be drawn in order to come near

9) What antithetical statements are made concerning the wicked and those
   who trust in the Lord? (10)
   - Many sorrows shall be to the wicked
   - He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him

10) What are the righteous and upright in heart called upon to do? (11)
   - Be glad in the Lord and rejoice
   - Shout for joy

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 27 - Light And Salvation In Dark Times

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

              Psalm 27 - Light And Salvation In Dark Times


1) To glean David's source of strength and courage in difficult times

2) To learn where to turn when persecuted by enemies or forsaken by


This psalm is ascribed to David, evidently written in a time of danger
(12).  It may have been prompted by the help provided by Ahimelech the
priest, and the opposition of Doeg the Edomite, who saw David at the
tabernacle and later reported him to Saul (cf. 1Sa 21:1-10; 22:9).
This was also a time when David sought protection for his parents (cf. 1
Sam 22:3) which may have left David feeling abandoned (10).

As always, David found the LORD to be his "Light And Salvation In Dark
Times".  The first part of the psalm expresses his confident trust in
the LORD for blessings received in the past, and his desire to dwell in
the house of the LORD who will protect him in the future (1-6).  In the
second part David offers an anxious plea for God's mercy and deliverance
from his enemies (7-12).  It ends with a confession that he would have
lost heart without faith in God's goodness, and an exhortation to wait
on the Lord for strength and courage of heart (13-14).



      1. Of whom shall David be afraid?
         a. When the LORD is his light and salvation
         b. When the LORD is the strength of his life
      2. The LORD's help in the past
         a. When the wicked, his enemies and foes came against him
         b. They stumbled and fell
      3. The LORD's help in the future
         a. Though encamped by an army in time of war
         b. His heart will not fear, it remains confident in the LORD

      1. The one thing he desires of the LORD
         a. To dwell in His house all his life
         b. To behold His beauty, and inquire in His temple
      2. The reason for David's fervent desire
         a. In time of trouble the LORD will hide him
            1) In His pavilion
            2) In the secret place of His tabernacle
         b. The LORD will set him high upon a rock
      3. His response to being lifted high above his enemies
         a. To offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle
         b. To sing praises to the LORD


   A. PLEA FOR MERCY (7-10)
      1. David's cry to the LORD
         a. To hear when he cries with his voice
         b. To have mercy and answer him
         c. For his heart responded to the LORD saying "Seek My face"
      2. David's plea to the LORD
         a. Do not hide His face from him
         b. Do not turn His servant away in anger, for He has been his
         c. Do not leave or forsake him, for He is the God of his
      3. David's hope in the LORD
         a. When forsaken by his parents
         b. The LORD will take care of him

      1. David's request for guidance from the LORD
         a. To teach him His way
         b. To lead him in a smooth path, because of his enemies
      2. David's reason for asking the LORD for deliverance from his
         a. For false witnesses have risen against him
         b. Such as breathe out violence


      1. He would have lost heart unless he believed
      2. That he would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the

      1. To be of good courage
      2. He shall strengthen your heart


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - Confident trust in time of danger (1-6)
   - Anxious prayer in time of danger (7-12)
   - Lessons learned in time of danger (13-14)

2) What does David offer as the solution to fear? (1)
   - The LORD as one's light and salvation
   - The LORD as one's strength in life

3) Why would David not fear though an army may encamp him? (2-3)
   - In the past his enemies and foe stumbled and fell

4) What did David earnestly desire of the Lord? (4)
   - To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of his life
   - To behold the behold the beauty of the LORD, to inquire in His

5) Why did David desire such fellowship with God? (5)
   - The LORD would hide him in His tabernacle in times of trouble

6) How would David respond to victory over his enemies? (6)
   - Offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle
   - Sing praises to the LORD

7) Why did David hope for the LORD to hear his prayer and have mercy on
   him? (7-9)
   - He responded to the LORD's invitation to seek His face
   - The LORD had been his help in time past

8) Who would take care of David when forsaken by his parents? (10)
   - The LORD

9) What did David ask for when enemies and false witnesses rose against
   him? (11-12)
   - For the LORD to teach him, and lead him in a smooth path
   - For the LORD to not deliver him to the will of his enemies

10) What prevented David from losing heart? (13)
   - Faith that he would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the

11) What is the key to being of good courage? (14)
   - To wait on the LORD, for He will strengthen your heart

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 23 - The Shepherd Psalm

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                     Psalm 23 - The Shepherd Psalm


1) To remind ourselves of the wonderful provision, protection, and
   preservation the Lord furnishes His people

2) To note how this psalm foreshadows the blessings provided by "The
   Good Shepherd", Jesus Christ


This much-beloved psalm of David makes use of the Shepherd motif to
describe the deep faith and hope available to the child of God, made
possible the watchful care of the Lord.  It also mixes other metaphors,
especially that of a gracious Host.

As outlined below, David begins by illustrating the provision of the
Lord, both physical and spiritual (1-3).  David then describes the
protection of the Lord, as he travels through dangerous places and in
the presence of enemies (4-5).  The psalm ends with an expression of
faith and hope in the Lord's preservation, that God will furnish the
goodness and mercy needed throughout life, so that he made abide in the
house of the Lord forever (6).

The Christian sees in this psalm a wonderful foreshadowing of "The Good
Shepherd", Jesus Christ, who gave His life for His sheep and even now
watches over them  (cf. Jn 10:11-15; He 13:20; 1Pe 2:21-25; 5:4).

A good follow-up to this psalm is Psalm 100, which expresses the praise
we should render to God as His people and the sheep of His pasture.



      1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (cf. Lk 12:22-32)
      2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures
      3. He leads me beside the still waters (cf. Re 7:17)

      1. He restores my soul (cf. Re 3:19)
      2. He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake
         (cf. 1Co 10:13)


      1. I will fear no evil, for He is with me (cf. He 13:5-6)
      2. His rod and staff comfort me (cf. He 12:5-11)

      1. He prepares a table before me in their presence (cf. Jn 16:33)
      2. He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over (cf. Ep 3:20)


      1. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
      2. All the days of my life (cf. 2Ti 4:18)

   B. FOREVER (6b)
      1. I will dwell in the house of the Lord
      2. Forever (cf. Jn 14:1-3)


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The Shepherd's provision (1-3)
   - The Shepherd's protection (4-5)
   - The Shepherd's preservation (6)

2) Who is the author of the psalm?
   - David

3) What is the main figure used in this psalm?  The main idea? (1)
   - The Lord is my shepherd
   - I shall not want (lack anything)

4) How does David illustrate the physical necessities provided by the
   Lord? (2)
   - The Lord makes him to lie down in green pastures
   - The Lord leads him besides the still waters

5) How does David describe the spiritual necessities provided by the
   Lord? (3)
   - The Lord restores his soul
   - The Lord leads him in the paths of righteousness for His name's

6) What protection or comfort does the Lord provide when one walks
   through the valley of the shadow of death? (4)
   - The comfort of His presence
   - His comfort of His rod and staff

7) What provisions does the Lord furnish in the presence of one's
   enemies? (5)
   - He prepares a table
   - He anoints one's head with oil
   - He provides a cup which runs over

8) What does the Lord provide to ensure that He will preserve us in
   this life? (6)
   - Goodness and mercy all the days of our life

9) What wonderful hope do we have for eternity? (6)
   - To dwell in the house of the Lord forever

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 22 - The Victorious Sufferer

                                                             "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                   Psalm 22 - The Victorious Sufferer


1) To note the messianic nature of this psalm fulfilled in the
   crucifixion of Jesus

2) To be impressed with its literal fulfillment, and the insight it 
   gives us into how Jesus must have felt as He hung on the cross

3) To see what gave the psalmist confidence that God would hear his cry
   for deliverance


This psalm of David could be called "The Psalm Of The Cross", as much of
the suffering described in it was literally fulfilled in the crucifixion
of Jesus Christ (though it may also relate to sufferings experienced by
David).  Where the four gospel writers provide a description of Jesus'
sufferings from the viewpoint of witnesses, this messianic psalm reveals
His suffering from the viewpoint of Jesus Himself.

The heading indicates the psalm was set to "The Deer of the Dawn".  No
one really knows what this refers to, though it may be the name of a
tune known by the Chief Musician.

The psalm begins with a cry that was uttered by Jesus on the cross (Mt
27:46).  The first half of the psalm depicts a sufferer surrounded by
enemies who feels forsaken by God.  While much of the suffering is
described figuratively ("Many bulls have surrounded me"), some of it was
literally fulfilled.  Not only the words of Jesus in verse 1, but also
the very words of the chief priests and scribes who mocked while Jesus
hung on the cross (Mt 27:43).  There is also the piercing of the hands
and feet, the dividing of the garments (Mt 27:35).  As the psalmist
cries out for deliverance, he also expresses hope based upon God's
faithfulness in the past.  At the end of the first half, the psalmist
declares that God has answered him (1-21).

The second half of the psalm expresses the joy of "The Victorious
Sufferer".  He will gladly praise God for hearing him and providing
deliverance.  He encourages all those who fear God to praise and glorify
Him, confident that God's blessings will extend to many nations and to
people not yet born.  This is because the kingdom is the Lord's, and He
rules over the nations (22-31).



      1. Why has God forsaken him?  Why does God not help?
      2. Day and night his cry is made...why does God not hear?

      1. God is holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel
      2. The fathers trusted in God, and He delivered them
      3. They cried to Him, and God did not disappoint them

      1. Reduced to be like a worm, not a man
      2. The object of derision, despised by others
      3. Ridiculed, he is taunted by those who mock his trust in God

   D. HIS FAITH IN GOD (9-11)
      1. He acknowledges that God has been with him since birth
      2. He looks to God as his only helper

      1. Depiction of his enemies
         a. They surround him like strong bulls of Bashan
         b. Their mouths opened like a raging and roaring lion
      2. Depiction of his suffering
         a. Poured out like water, bones out of joint
         b. Heart like wax, melted within him
         c. Strength dried up, tongues clinging to his jaws
         d. Brought to the dust of death
      3. The suffering imposed by his enemies
         a. Like dogs, they surround him; like evildoers they encircle
         b. They have pierced his hands and feet
         c. He can count all his bones, while they feast their eyes on 
         d. They divide his garments, and cast lots for his clothing

   F. HIS FINAL CRY (19-21)
      1. For God not to be far off
         a. For He who is his strength to hasten and help him
         b. For Him to deliver his life from the sword, his precious 
            life from the power of the dog
         c. For Him to save him from the lion's mouth and horns of wild
      2. A sudden declaration that God has answered him!


   A. GOD BE PRAISED! (22-25)
      1. The sufferer will praise God
         a. Proclaiming His name to his brethren
         b. Praising Him in the middle of the assembly
      2. Let those who fear God praise Him
         a. Let the descendants of Jacob honor Him
         b. Let the descendants of Israel stand in awe of Him
      3. Reasons for such praise
         a. God has not despised or abhorred his affliction
         b. God has not hidden His face from him, but hearkened to his
      4. The sufferer will praise God and pay his vows
         a. In the great assembly
         b. Before them that fear Him

   B. GOD BE WORSHIPPED! (26-31)
      1. By the meek, and those that seek the Lord
         a. They shall be eat and be satisfied
         b. They shall praise Him
      2. By those from the ends of the earth
         a. Who shall bear these things in mind and return to the Lord
         b. All families of the nations will bow down before Him
         c. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He is the Ruler among the
      3. By the prosperous and the dead
         a. The prosperous will eat, and worship Him
         b. The dying shall bow before Him
      4. By the generations to come
         a. Posterity shall serve him
         b. For men shall tell of what God has done
         c. People yet born shall hear of God's justice


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - Forsaken by God (1-21)
   - Delivered by God (22-31)

2) Who is the author of this psalm?
   - David

3) What is the nature of this psalm?
   - Messianic

4) When did Jesus quote the first verse of Psalm 22?
   - As He suffered on the cross (Mt 27:46)

5) Upon what basis does the psalmist hope for deliverance? (3-5)
   - The fathers trusted in God, and He delivered them when they cried
     out to Him

6) What scornful remark in the psalm were also expressed at Jesus' 
   crucifixion? (8)
   - "He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him..." (Mt 27:43)

7) Upon what basis does the psalmist have faith in God's help? (9-11)
   - God has been with him since birth

8) What two metaphors are used to describe the enemies of the psalmist?
   - They surround him like strong bulls of Bashan
   - They gape at him with mouths like a raging and roaring lion

9) How does the psalmist describe his bodily suffering? (14-15)
   - Poured out like water
   - Bones out of joint
   - Heart like wax, melted within him
   - Strength dried up like a potsherd
   - Tongue clinging to his jaws
   - God has brought him to the dust of death

10) What two things did the enemies do to the psalmist that were
    literally fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus? (16-18)
   - They pierced his hands and feet (Mt 27:35a)
   - They divide his garments and cast lots for his clothing (Mt 27:35b)

11) As the psalmist makes another cry for deliverance, how does he
    indicate that God has helped him? (19-21)
   - By saying "You have answered me."

12) What does the psalmist promise to do in response to God's 
    deliverance? (22,25)
   - Declare God's name to his brethren
   - Praise God in the midst of the congregation  (cf. He 2:11-12)
   - Pay his vows in the presence of those who fear Him

13) What does the psalmist call upon people to do?  Why? (23-24)
   - To praise, glorify, and fear God
   - For God has heard the cry of the afflicted

14) As the psalm nears its end, what eight things does the psalmist say
    will happen? (25-31)
   - The poor will eat and be satisfied
   - Those who seek God will praise Him
   - All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord
   - All the families of the nations shall worship before Him
   - All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship
   - All who go down to the dust shall bow before Him
   - A posterity shall serve Him
   - God's deliverance and righteousness will be recounted to the next
     generation, even those who are yet unborn

15) Why is the psalmist confident that such things will occur? (28)
   - For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Antisemitism and the Crucifixion of Christ: Who Murdered Jesus? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Antisemitism and the Crucifixion of Christ: Who Murdered Jesus?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Perhaps you have heard the furor surrounding Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion,” scheduled for release in March 2004. The official Web site states: “Passion is a vivid depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ’s life” (Passion Web site). Special emphasis is placed on the physical suffering Christ endured. Throughout the film, the language spoken is the first-century Jewish language, Aramaic, except when the Romans speak their language, i.e., Latin (Novak, 2003). Gibson, who both produced and directed the film, sank $25 million of his own money into the venture.
The stir over the film stems from the role of the Jews in their involvement in Christ’s crucifixion. In fact, outcries of “anti-Semitism” have been vociferous, especially from representatives of the Anti-Defamation League. Their contention is that Jews are depicted in the film as “bloodthirsty, sadistic, money-hungry enemies of God” who are portrayed as “the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus” (as quoted in Hudson, 2003; cf. Zoll, 2003). The fear is that the film will fuel hatred and bigotry against Jews. A committee of nine Jewish and Catholic scholars unanimously found the film to project a uniformly negative picture of Jews (“ADL and Mel…”). The Vatican has avoided offering an endorsement of the film by declining to make an official statement for the time being (“Vatican Has Not…”; cf. “Mel Gibson’s…”). This action is to be expected in view of the conciliatory tone manifested by Vatican II (Abbott, 1955, pp. 663-667). Even Twentieth Century Fox has decided not to participate in the distribution of the film (“20th Decides…”; cf. “Legislator Tries…”; O’Reilly…”).
Separate from the controversy generated by Gibson’s film, the more central issue concerns to what extent the Jewish generation of the first century contributed to, or participated in, the death of Christ. If the New Testament is the verbally inspired Word of God, then it is an accurate and reliable report of the facts, and its depiction of the details surrounding the crucifixion are normative and final. That being the case, how does the New Testament represent the role of the Jews in the death of Christ?
A great many verses allude to the role played by the Jews, especially the leadership, in the death of Jesus. For some time prior to the crucifixion, the Jewish authorities were determined to oppose Jesus. This persecution was aimed at achieving His death:
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff (Luke 4:28-30, emp. added).
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God (John 5:18-19, emp. added).
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, becausethe Jews sought to kill Him… “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (John 7:1-2,19, emp. added).
“I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But nowyou seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by (John 8:37-41,59, emp. added).
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him…. Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand (John 10:31-32,39, emp. added).
Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death…. Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him (John 11:53, 57, emp. added).
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him (Luke 19:47-48, emp. added).
And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people (Luke 22:2, emp. added).
Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him (Matthew 26:3-4, emp. added).
These (and many other) verses demonstrate unquestionable participation of the Jews in bringing about the death of Jesus. One still can hear the mournful tones of Jesus Himself, in His sadness over the Jews rejecting Him: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-39). He was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the demise of the Jewish commonwealth at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70. Read carefully His unmistakable allusion to the reason for this holocaustic event:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
He clearly attributed their national demise to their stubborn rejection of Him as the predicted Messiah, Savior, and King.
Does the Bible, then, indicate that a large percentage, perhaps even a majority, of the Jews of first century Palestine was “collectively guilty” for the death of Jesus? The inspired evidence suggests so. Listen carefully to the apostle Paul’s assessment, keeping in mind that he, himself, was a Jew—in fact, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 22:3; Romans 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:22). Speaking to Thessalonian Christians, he wrote:
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, emp. added).
This same apostle Paul met with constant resistance from fellow Jews. After he spoke at the Jewish synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, a crowd of people that consisted of nearly the whole city gathered to hear him expound the Word of God. Notice the reaction of the Jews in the crowd:
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles….” But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region (Acts 13:45-46,50-51).
Paul met with the same resistance from the general Jewish public that Jesus encountered—so much so that he wrote to Gentiles concerning Jews: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake” (Romans 11:28). He meant that the majority of the Jews had rejected Christ and Christianity. Only a “remnant” (Romans 11:5), i.e., a small minority, embraced Christ.
What role did the Romans play in the death of Christ? It certainly is true that Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross. First-century Palestine was under the jurisdiction of Rome. Though Rome permitted the Jews to retain a king in Judea (Herod), the Jews were subject to Roman law in legal matters. In order to achieve the execution of Jesus, the Jews had to appeal to the Roman authorities for permission (John 18:31). A simple reading of the verses that pertain to Jewish attempts to acquire this permission for the execution are clear in their depiction of Roman reluctance in the matter. Pilate, the governing procurator in Jerusalem, sought literally to quell and diffuse the Jewish efforts to kill Jesus. He called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and stated plainly to them:
“You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”—who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will (Luke 23:14-25).
It is difficult to conceptualize the level of hostility possessed by the Jewish hierarchy, and even by a segment of the Jewish population, toward a man who had done nothing worthy of such hatred. It is incredible to think that they would clamor for the release of a known murderer and insurrectionist, rather than allow the release of Jesus. Yes, the Roman authority was complicit in the death of Jesus. But Pilate would have had no interest in pursuing the matter if the Jewish leaders and crowd had not pressed for it. In fact, he went to great lengths to perform a symbolic ceremony in order to communicate the fact that he was not responsible for Jesus’ death. He announced to the multitude: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it” (Matthew 27:24). Technically, the Romans cannot rightly be said to be ultimately responsible. If the Jews had not pressed the matter, Pilate never would have conceded to having Him executed. The apostle Peter made this point very clear by placing the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus squarely on the shoulders of Jerusalem Jews:
Men of Israel…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses (Acts 3:12-16, emp. added).
Notice that even though the Romans administered the actual crucifixion, Peter pointedly stated to his Jewish audience, not only that Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but that the Jews (“you”)—not the Romans—“killed the Prince of life.”
Does God lay the blame for the death of Christ on the Jews as an ethnic group? Of course not. Though the generation of Jews who were contemporary to Jesus cried out to Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25, emp. added), it remains a biblical fact that “the son shall not bear the guilt of the father” (Ezekiel 18:20). A majority of a particular ethnic group in a particular geographical locale at a particular moment in history may band together and act in concert to perpetrate a social injustice. But such an action does not indict all individuals everywhere who share that ethnicity. “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11), and neither should there be with any of us.
In fact, the New Testament teaches that ethnicity should have nothing to do with the practice of the Christian religion—which includes how we see ourselves, as well as how we treat others. Listen carefully to Paul’s declarations on the subject: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham's seed” (Galatians 3:28-29, emp. added). Jesus obliterates the ethnic distinction between Jew and non-Jew:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:14-17).
In the higher sense, neither the Jews nor the Romans crucified Jesus. Oh, they were all complicit, including Judas Iscariot. But so were we. Every accountable human being who has ever lived or ever will live has committed sin that necessitated the death of Christ—if atonement was to be made so that sin could be forgiven. Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2), every sinner is responsible for His death. But that being said, the Bible is equally clear that in reality, Jesus laid down His own life for humanity: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:11,17-18; cf. Galatians 1:4; 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 3:16). Of course, the fact that Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself on the behalf of humanity does not alter the fact that it still required human beings, in this case first-century Jews, exercising their own free will to kill Him. A good summary passage on this matter is Acts 4:27-28—“for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass.”


Anti-Semitism is sinful and unchristian. Those who crucified Jesus are to be pitied. Even Jesus said concerning them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). But we need not deny or rewrite history in the process. We are now living in a post-Christian culture. If Gibson would have produced a movie depicting Jesus as a homosexual, the liberal, “politically correct,” anti-Christian forces would have been the first to defend the undertaking under the guise of “artistic license,” “free speech,” and “creativity.” But dare to venture into spiritual reality by showing the historicity of sinful man mistreating the Son of God, and the champions of moral degradation and hedonism raise angry, bitter voices of protest. The irony of the ages is—He died even for them.


Abbott, Walter, ed. (1966), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, NY: America Press).
“ADL and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/interfaith/gibson_qa.asp.
Hudson, Deal (2003), “The Gospel according to Braveheart,” The Spectator, [On-line], URL: http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old&section=current&issue=2003-09-20&id=3427&searchText=.
“Legislator Tries to Censor Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/8/27/124709.shtml.
“Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion’ Makes Waves,” [On-line], URL: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/08/entertainment/main567445.shtml.
Novak, Michael (2003), “Passion Play,” The Weekly Standard, [On-line], URL: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/014ziqma.asp.
“O’Reilly: Elite Media out to Destroy Mel Gibson,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/9/15/223513.shtml.
Passion Web site, [On-line], URL: http://www.passion-movie.com/english/index.html.
“20th Decides Against Distributing Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.imdb.com/SB?20030829#3.
“Vatican Has Not Taken A Position on Gibson’s Film ‘The Passion,’ Top Cardinal Assures ADL,” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/VaticanJewish_96/4355_96.htm.
Zoll, Rachel (2003), “Jewish Civil Rights Leader Says Actor Mel Gibson Espouses Anti-Semitic Views,” [On-line], URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/09/19/national1505EDT0626.DTL.

A Giant Among Pygmies by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


A Giant Among Pygmies

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Ancient books thrill our imaginations with vivid pictures of worlds and cultures from long ago. Beautiful poetry, accurate history, and interesting narrative are but a few of the literary devices these ancient writers employed with captivating genius. Take the writings of Homer, for instance. His epic poemsThe Illiad and The Odyssey rank among the most influential pieces of literature ever written. It often has been said that a person cannot know Greece without reading Homer. Or consider The Histories of Herodotus, who was said to have revolutionized the way the world recorded history. He changed it from mere folklore and yarn stringing into documentation of actual fact. Also call to mind the writings of Josephus, which shed radiating light on the relationship between the Roman Empire and the Jewish nation in the early years of the first century A.D. And we must not neglect The Annals by Tacitus, which gives us a bird’s-eye view into some of the most intricate workings of the Roman Empire during the later part of the first century and early part of the second century A.D.
But one ancient book has outshone all of these. In America alone, it generates a 200-million-dollar market every year. It is the best-selling book of all times. Translated into over 800 languages, introduced into over 200 countries, the Bible, and more specifically, the New Testament, stands as the greatest literary achievement the world has ever read.
Yet, as we look at these monumental works of literature, we might wonder how we know Homer actually wrote the Illiad, and how many copies from the past have we discovered? Or how do we know that Josephus wrote in the first century A.D.? Did we find a copy of his works with a handy title page and copyright date in the front cover? And if we did, how many of these copies have we found? And what about the New Testament? Have we found many copies of it? If so, how old are they, and how do they compare with the evidence that verifies the other ancient works? I think the following chart answers many of these questions and speaks for itself.
How Does the New Testament
Measure Up to Other Ancient Books?
Title of Ancient BookDate it was WrittenDate of Earliest ManuscriptNumber of Manuscripts
Homer’s Illiad700 B.C.Unknown643
History of Herodotus425 B.C.A.D. 9008
Josephus’Jewish WarsA.D. 70A.D. 4009
Histories of TacitusA.D. 100A.D. 9002
New TestamentA.D. 35-100A.D. 1255735
Based solely on the actual manuscripts evidence available, the New Testament stands as the most historically documented piece of ancient literature ever written. F.F. Bruce once stated: “It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians” (1953, p. 19). Aside from any discussion as to the inspiration of these documents, simply looking at their overwhelming manuscript evidence should quickly alert even the most skeptical observer to the fact that the documents of the New Testament are “special” to say the very least.


Bruce, F.F. (1953), The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), fourth edition.

“The Laws of Thermodynamics Don't Apply to the Universe!” by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


“The Laws of Thermodynamics Don't Apply to the Universe!”

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Many in the atheistic community have realized various problems with their theories in light of what we know about the laws of thermodynamics. In order for atheism to be a plausible explanation for the origin of the Universe, matter must either be eternal or have the capability of creating itself (i.e., spontaneous generation). Yet the Second Law of Thermodynamics implies that the first option is impossible, and the First Law implies that the second option is impossible (see Miller, 2007 for a more in depth discussion of the laws of thermodynamics and their application to the origin of the Universe). Upon grudgingly coming to this conclusion, but being unwilling to yield to the obvious alternative (i.e., Someone outside of the Universe put matter here), some have tried to find loopholes in the laws that will allow for their flawed atheistic ideologies to survive.

A common assertion being raised today by some is that the laws of thermodynamics do not apply to the Universe as a whole, and therefore cannot be used to prove that God played a role in the origin of the Universe. More specifically, some question whether our Universe can be considered an “isolated system” (i.e., a system in which mass and energy are not allowed to cross the system boundary; Cengel and Boles, 2002, p. 9). In their well-known thermodynamics textbook, Fundamentals of Classical Thermodynamics, Van Wylen and Sonntag note concerning the Second Law of Thermodynamics: “[W]e of course do not know if the universe can be considered as an isolated system” (1985, p. 233). Dr. Robert Alberty, author of Thermodynamics of Biochemical Reactions, is quoted as saying, “I do not agree that the universe is an isolated system in the thermodynamic sense” (as quoted in Holloway, 2010).

What if the Universe is not an isolated system? How would that fact impact the creation/evolution controversy? First of all, the creationist has always argued that the Universe is not an isolated system, or at least has not always been one. According to the creationist, in the beginning, God created the Universe’s system barrier, then crossed it and placed energy and matter within the system—thus making the Universe non-isolated. So, recognizing that the Universe is, in fact, not an isolated system would really mean that some evolutionists are starting to move in the right direction in their understanding of the Universe! Acquiescence of this truth by atheists in no way disproves the existence of God. In fact, quite the contrary is true. Admission that the Universe is not isolated does not help the case for atheism, but rather tacitly acknowledges a creator of sorts. [More on this point later.]

What this admission would do, however, is make some of the creationists’ arguments against atheism less applicable to the discussion about the existence of God—specifically some of the uses of the laws of thermodynamics and their application to the Universe as a whole. For instance, if the Universe is not an isolated system, it means that something or someone outside of the Universe can open the proverbial box that encloses the Universe and put matter and energy into it. Therefore, the Universe could be eternal, as long as something/someone is putting more usable energy into the box to compensate for the energy loss and counter entropy. Thus, the argument against the eternality of matter by way of the Second Law of Thermodynamics could potentially be null and void. Also, with a non-isolated system, it could be argued that the original, imaginary pre-Big Bang ball (which never actually existed—since the Big Bang is flawed [see May, et al., 2003) was not eternal in its existence. Further, it could be contended that it did not have to spontaneously generate in order to explain its existence. Rather, energy and matter could have been put here from a source outside of this Universe other than God.

From a purely scientific perspective, one of the problems with claiming that the Universe is not isolated is that such an assertion presupposes the existence of physical sources outside of this Universe (e.g., multiple universes outside of our own). And yet, how can such a claim be made scientifically, since there is no verifiable evidence to support such a contention? Stephen Hawking has advanced such an idea, but he, himself, recognizes the idea to be merely theoretical (Shukman, 2010). Speculation, conjecture, assertion—not evidence. As Gregory Benford wrote: “This ‘multiverse’ view represents the failure of our grand agenda and seems to me contrary to the prescribed simplicity of Occam’s Razor, solving our lack of understanding by multiplying unseen entities into infinity” (Benford, 2006, p. 226). Belief in the multiverse model is like proclaiming the existence of fairies just because you can imagine one. But such speculation is hardly scientific evidence—and that is the problem.

What does the scientific evidence actually convey today? We live in the only known Universe, and it had to come from somewhere. That is a fact. If the Big Bang occurred, and all matter and energy in the Universe—everything that exists—was initially in that little imaginary sphere the size of the period at the end of this sentence (or much smaller, depending on which “expert” cosmologist you ask), by implication, the evolutionist admits that the Universe is of a finite size. That is a fact. A finite Universe is an isolated system. Since the Universe as a whole is the only true isolated system, the laws of thermodynamics apply perfectly. That is why some reputable scientists examine the evidence, draw reasonable conclusions, and articulate statements in reputable textbooks like the following:
  • “Isolated system: It is the system which exchange [sic] neither matter nor energy with the surroundings. For such a system, the matter and energy remain constant. There is no such perfectly isolated system, but our universe can be considered as an isolated system since by definition it does not have any surroundings” (Senapati, 2006, p. 64, emp. added).
  • A spontaneous process in an isolated system increases the system’s entropy. Because the universe—our entire surroundings—is in contact with no other system, we say that irreversible processes increase the entropy of the universe” (Fishbane, et.al., 1996, p. 551, italics in original).
The truth is, if one is unwilling to accept the existence of God, yet desires to accept the laws of science, one must conjure up other options for how the Universal box could have been legally opened and its contents altered. Envision several atheists sitting around a table speculating options, no matter how wild, in order to avoid conceding the existence of God, and you will have a clear picture of how many in the scientific community operate today. “Okay, people. How did we get here? Think!” “Other universes?” “Maybe.” “Nothing put us here?” “Not bad.” “Aliens?” “Why not?” “The God of the Bible?” “Shut your mouth. You are unscientific. Leave the room.” How can evolutionists like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking safely postulate the existence of alien creators without being laughed out of the spotlight, while creationists get expelled from the scientific community for recognizing the reasonableanswer to the matter of origins (Stein and Miller, 2008; BBC News, 2010)?

Ironically, when the atheistic community asserts alleged creative agents outside the Universe, they tacitly acknowledge a creator of some sort. What is the difference between these concessions and the true Creator? Why not accept the God of the Bible? The answer is obvious. Their brand of designer comes packaged without the demands and expectations that come with belief in God. Very convenient—but sad and most certainly unscientific.

Note also that accepting the possibility of alternative creative causes leaves atheists with the same problem with which they started. They claim to use the laws of physics to arrive at the multiverse conclusion (Shukman, 2010). But if the laws of physics apply to their conclusion about multiple universes, why would the laws of physics not apply to those universes? If the laws of science apply to those hypothetical universes (and it would be reasonable to conclude that they would since, according to atheists, the universes interact), then the matter of origins has merely shifted to those other universes. How did they come into being? There are still only three options—they always existed (in violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics); they created themselves (in violation of the First Law of Thermodynamics); or they were created. The laws of thermodynamics still echo the truth from the remotest parts of the created order: “You cannot explain it all without God in the equation!”

The truth is, the scientific evidence leads unbiased truth-seekers to the conclusion that there simply must be a Creator. How do we know that the laws of thermodynamics are true on Earth? No one has ever been able to document an exception to them (except when divine miracles have occurred). Theyalways hold true. Why does the same principle not hold when observing the rest of the Universe? As Borgnakke and Sonntag articulate in Fundamentals of Thermodynamics concerning the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics:
The basis of every law of nature is experimental evidence, and this is true also of the first law of thermodynamics. Many different experiments have been conducted on the first law, and every one thus far has verified it either directly or indirectly. The first law has never been disproved.... [W]e can say that the second law of thermodynamics (like every other law of nature) rests on experimental evidence. Every relevant experiment that has been conducted, either directly or indirectly, verifies the second law, and no experiment has ever been conducted that contradicts the second law. The basis of the second law is therefore experimental evidence (2009, p. 116-220, emp. added).
There has been no verifiable evidence that the laws of thermodynamics have been violated throughout the Universe. Sure, there has been speculation, conjecture, and theory that it “could” happen. Yet, through it all, the laws still stand unscathed. Granted, atheists may cloud the air when they blow forth their unreasonable, unproven, jargon-filled, imaginary fairy-dust theories, but when the fairy-dust settles, the laws of thermodynamics still declare the truth to all who will listen (Psalm 19:1). The scientific evidence shows that there is unmistakable order and design in the Universe. Design implies a Designer. The God of the Bible. Now that’s scientific.


BBC News (2010), “Hawking Warns Over Alien Beings,” April 25, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/8642558.stm.

Benford, Gregory (2006), What We Believe But Cannot Prove, ed. John Brockman (New York: Harper Perennial).

Borgnakke, Claus and Richard E. Sonntag (2009), Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (Asia: John Wiley and Sons), seventh edition.

Cengel, Yunus A. and Michael A. Boles (2002), Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach (New York: McGraw-Hill), fourth edition.

Fishbane, Paul M., Stephen Gasiorowicz, and Stephen T. Thornton (1996), Physics for Scientists and Engineers (New Jersey: Prentice Hall), second edition.

Holloway, Robert (2010), “Experts on Thermodynamics Refute Creationist Claims,” http://www.ntanet.net/Thermo-Internet.htm.

May, Branyon, et al. (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” Reason & Revelation, 23[5]:32-34,36-47, May, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2635.

Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,”Reason & Revelation, 27[4]:25-31, April, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3293.

Senapati, M.R. (2006), Advanced Engineering Chemistry (New Delhi: Laxmi Publications), second edition.

Shukman, David (2010), “Professor Stephen Hawking Says No God Created Universe,” BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11172158.

Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).

Van Wylen, Gordon J. and Richard Sonntag (1985), Fundamentals of Classical Thermodynamics(New York: John Wiley and Sons), third edition.

“Breaking Bread” on the “First Day” of the Week by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


“Breaking Bread” on the “First Day” of the Week

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

As the apostle Paul was making his way toward Jerusalem near the end of his third missionary journey, he met with several disciples in the coastal city of Troas. Although he was “hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16), he tarried in Troas for seven days with several other disciples (20:4-6). According to Acts 20:7, “[O]n the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” Since Luke indicates that Paul did not break bread until after his lengthy lesson and the resurrection of Eutychus (20:11), many have questioned whether Paul and the disciples ate of the Lord’s Supper on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday? Others have wondered whether “to break bread” in Acts 20 even has anything to do with the Lord’s Supper. What can be said about such matters?
Admittedly, to “break bread” in Bible times often referred to the eating of common meals. God once warned His prophet Jeremiah not to “break bread for the mourner” (Jeremiah 16:7, RSV). Jesus “tookbread...and broke it” with the disciples to whom He appeared on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30,35). The early Christians are said to have continued daily “breaking bread from house to house” eating “food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46). Paul once “took breadand...broke it” and instructed his 275 companions on board a ship to Italy to eat it for their “preservation” (Acts 27:34-35, NASB). In ancient times, to “break bread” was a figure of speech known as synecdoche where a part (to break bread) was put for the whole (to eat a common meal, regardless of the kind of food and drink consumed).
In New Testament times, however, the phrase “to break bread” was also used to describe the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus instituted this special supper while celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread with His disciples shortly before His death.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29, emp. added).
In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Paul addressed the subject of the Lord’s Supper with these words: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (emp. added). Paul later reminded the Corinthians of the night in which Jesus first instituted this memorial feast, saying, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed tookbread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24, emp. added). Because part of this memorial supper that Christians are commanded to keep involves the actual breaking of bread, the expression “to break bread” was used in reference to the Lord’s Supper in the early church (cf. Behm, 1965, 3:730). Similar to how this phrase was used as a synecdoche in regard to common meals, it was also used to represent the Lord’s Supper (where consumption of both the bread and the fruit of the vine is referred to as simply “the breaking of bread”).
Because the phrase “to break bread” refers both to common meals and the Lord’s Supper, one must examine the context of passages in order to understand which one is being discussed. For example, since in Acts 2:42 “breaking bread” is listed with other religious activities carried out by the church such as teaching, praying, and fellowshipping (from the Greek koinonia, which may include several aspects of “joint participation,” including free-will offerings on the first day of the week—cf. Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; see Jackson, 2005, p. 31), one may logically conclude that “the breaking of bread” is a reference to the early Christians partaking of the Lord’s Supper. [The use of the article in this verse also leaves the impression that a particular event is under consideration, rather than a common meal where “food” (Greek trophe, a word never used of the Lord’s Supper—Barnes, 1956, p. 59) is served for the purpose of gaining nourishment (e.g., Acts 2:46; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:33-34).]
But what about the use of the phrase “to break bread” in Acts 20:7? What textual indicators are present that warrant the phrase in this passage to be understood as the Lord’s Supper? First, the term “to break bread” is a first aorist active infinitive (Robertson, 1997). Since infinitives in Greek and English denote the objective or purpose of action for the principal verb (cf. Mounce, 1993, p. 298), one can know that Paul, Luke, and the disciples at Troas “gathered together” for the primary purpose of “breaking bread.” When this information is processed in light of the fact that Paul earlier had written to the church at Corinth and implied that the purpose for them coming together was to partake of the Lord’s Supper (in an orderly manner—1 Corinthians 11:20,33), then the passage in Acts 20 makes much better sense: “to break bread” was (or at least included) the eating of the Lord’s Supper. What’s more, Paul remained in Troas for seven days despite being in a hurry to get to Jerusalem before Pentecost (which was about 31 days, 10 stops, and 1,000 miles away—cf. Acts 20:6,13-16; 21:1,3,7,8,15). Why tarry in Troas for seven days? It was not simply to eat a common meal with the saints. Rather, Paul desired to worship with the church in Troas “on the first day of the week,” which included observing “communion” with them (1 Corinthians 10:16).
But did Paul and the church at Troas really observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday? First, it is possible that the bread Paul broke after spending all night preaching and talking was part of a common meal that he would have gladly received before beginning his extended journey to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, when Luke’s terminology in Acts 20:11 is carefully examined, it appears that Paul ate two separate meals with the disciples: the Lord’s Supper first (“had broken bread”), followed by a common meal (“and eaten”). This latter expression (“and eaten,” Greek geusamenos) “is nowhere used of the celebration of the Supper, whereas in Acts 10:10 it is applied to taking a common meal” (Jamieson, 1997). The former expression (“had broken bread”) has the Greek article before “bread” (lit., “had broken the bread,” ASV, emp. added) and “seems plainly to denote the celebration of the Lord’s Supper; their intention to do so being expressed in Acts 20:7, but their actually doing it nowhere if not here” (Jamieson, 1997; cf. Robertson, 1997; Woods, 1976, pp. 67-70; Wycliffe, 1985).
If Paul, then, waited to “break bread” until after midnight (20:7,11), would this not have been a Monday-morning observance of the Lord’s Supper? Regardless of whether the memorial feast was observed before or after midnight, one can be assured that it took place on Sunday, because it was “on the first day of the week” that the disciples met “to break bread.” The reason that eating the Lord’s Supper after midnight would have been acceptable conduct for many Christians is because the Jewish method of counting time was still widely acknowledged. The Jews and the Romans used different standards for calculating the hours of the day, and although both systems split the day into two periods of twelve hours, a new day for the Romans began at midnight (cf. Pliny, n.d., 2:79), whereas a new day for the Jews began in the evening at sundown and lasted until sundown the following day. Luke, like Matthew and Mark, used the Jewish method of reckoning time in both his gospel account and in the book of Acts (cf. Luke 23:44; Acts 2:15; 23:23; cf. also John 19:14; 20:1,19). Thus, Paul’s pre-midnight preaching corresponded to our Saturday evening, but was the beginning of their “first day.” Regardless of whether they observed the Lord’s Supper on the evening of the first day or the morning of the first day, it was observed on the proper day, the day on which Jesus rose from the grave (Luke 24:1)—the first day of the week.
Christians should count it a privilege and honor to observe the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:22), and commune with the Lord and His people (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Sadly, some in the twenty-first century may attempt to justify observing this sacred supper on some occasion other than the first day by alleging that the early Christians observed it on Saturday night or Monday morning. The important thing to remember in this discussion, however, is that the early disciples came together on the first day of the week to observe this memorial feast. In the first century, when the Jewish method of reckoning time was still widely accepted, the first day began on what we call Saturday evening and ended Sunday evening. In the twenty-first century, most (if not all) people count time from midnight to midnight. Since God did not specify which method of time to use, but did specify the numerical day of the week in which the supper of the Lord is to be kept, Christians should abide by the standards of time wherever they reside.
[For discussion on whether or not Christians should partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, see Miller, 2003]


Barnes, Albert (1956), Notes on the Old and New Testaments: Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Behm, Johannes (1965), “klaoklasisklasma,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Jackson, Wayne (2005), The Acts of the Apostles: From Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Sunday and the Lord’s Supper,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2304.
Mounce, William D. (1993), Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, trans. Bostock and H.T. Riley, [On-line], URL: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Plin.+Nat.+2.79.
Robertson, A.T. (1997), Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Woods, Guy N. (1976 reprint), Questions and Answers (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1985), Electronic Database: Biblesoft.