"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Twenty-Four OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To review the accusation of the Jews presented by Tertullus 2) To consider Paul's defense before Felix 3) To observe Felix's delay in rendering judgment of Paul SUMMARY The chief priest, elders and Tertullus, an orator, came from Jerusalem to Caesarea to make accusations and to provide evidence against Paul. Tertullus was an eloquent spokesman. He began by giving Felix great praise. He said, "We enjoy great peace. Prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight. We accept it...with all thankfulness." Next, he levied the charges against Paul. They found Paul to be a "plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world." They found him to be a "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" and he "tried to profane the temple." Tertullus reviewed the events at the temple. The Jews had seized Paul. They wanted to judge him according to their law; however, the Roman commander, Lysias, took Paul "with great violence" from them. Lysias took Paul to Felix and commanded the Jews to bring their accusations against Paul before him. The attending Jews agreed with Tertullus. (1-9) Paul was then given opportunity to provide his defense before Felix. Paul indicated that he was happy to speak for himself. He recognized Felix to have been a judge of the nation for many years. Paul reviewed the events as his defense to the Jewish accusations. He had gone up to Jerusalem to worship about twelve days prior. The Jews did not find Paul disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogue or in the city. Paul stated that they could not prove these accusations. He confessed that he worshipped God "according to the Way" - which they call a "sect." He believed all the things written in the Law and Prophets. Paul stated that he had "hope in God," just as they do, "that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust." As a result, he strove to have a "conscience without offense toward God and men." Paul had returned to Jerusalem after many years to bring alms and offerings to his nation. This was the time when some Jews from Asia (who had not come before Felix), found Paul "purified in the temple," and "neither with a mob nor with tumult." If they had an accusation against Paul, they should have come before Felix at this time. Paul asked those Jews present if they had found any wrongdoing in him, when he stood before the Sanhedrin council. The only statement that Paul thought they may have objected to was what he had cried out among them, "Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day." (10-21) Given that Felix had a "more accurate knowledge of the Way," he adjourned the proceedings. He stated that he would make a decision on the case when Lysias the commander came to Caesarea. Paul was held by the centurion, but was given liberties - his friends were allowed to visit him and provide for him. Later, Felix and his wife, Drusilla, called for Paul. Drusilla was Jewish. They heard Paul "concerning faith in Christ." Paul reasoned before them about "righteous, self-control, and the judgment to come." This caused Felix to become afraid. He sent Paul away; he indicated he would call for him at a more "convenient time." Felix hoped for a bribe from Paul to release him. Felix sent for him often. After two years, Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as governor. Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, so he "left Paul bound." (22-27) OUTLINE I. THE ACCUSERS ARRIVED AND ACCUSATIONS WERE MADE (1-9) A. THE CHIEF PRIEST, ELDERS AND TERTULLUS ARRIVED IN CAESAREA (1) 1. They came to provide evidence against Paul 2. Tertullus was brought as an orator 3. He was an eloquent spokesman B. TERTULLUS PRESENTED THE ACCUSATIONS (2-9) 1. Tertullus began by giving great praise to Felix a. "We enjoy great peace" b. "Prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight" c. "We accept it...with all thankfulness" 2. The charges were then levied against Paul a. They found Paul to be a "plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world" b. They found him to be a "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" c. He "tried to profane the temple" 3. Tertullus stated that the Roman commander, Lysias, took Paul with "great violence" from them a. The Jews had seized Paul b. They wanted to judge him according to their law c. The commander had taken Paul and had commanded them to appear before Felix to make their accusations 4. The attending Jews agreed with Tertullus' accusations II. PAUL GAVE HIS DEFENSE BEFORE FELIX (10-21) A. FELIX INDICATED FOR PAUL TO SPEAK (10) 1. Paul stated that he would defend himself 2. He recognized Felix to have been a judge of the nation for many years B. PAUL REVIEWED THE EVENTS AS HIS DEFENSE (11-21) 1. Paul had gone up to Jerusalem to worship about twelve days prior 2. They did not find Paul disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogue or in the city 3. Paul stated that they could not prove these accusations 4. He confessed that he worshipped God "according to the Way" - which they call a "sect" 5. He believed all the things written in the Law and Prophets 6. Paul stated that he had "hope in God," just as they do, "that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust" a. As a result, he strove to have a "conscience without offense toward God and men" 7. Paul had returned to Jerusalem after many years to bring alms and offerings to his nation a. This was the time when some Jews from Asia (who had not come before Felix), found Paul "purified in the temple," and "neither with a mob nor with tumult" b. If they had an accusation against Paul, they should have come before Felix at this time 8. Paul asked those Jews present if there had been found any wrongdoing in him while before the Sanhedrin council a. The only statement that Paul thought they may have objected to was what he had cried out among them, "Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day." III. FELIX DELAYED JUDGMENT OF PAUL (22-27) A. FELIX ADJOURNED THE PROCEEDINGS AND HELD PAUL (22-23) 1. Given that Felix had a "more accurate knowledge of the Way," he adjourned the proceedings 2. He stated that he would make a decision on the case when Lysias the commander came to Caesarea 3. Paul was held by the centurion a. Paul was given liberties b. His friends were allowed to visit him and provide for him B. FELIX HEARD PAUL MORE TIMES (24-26) 1. Felix and his wife, Drusilla, called for Paul a. Drusilla was Jewish b. They heard Paul "concerning faith in Christ" 2. Paul reasoned before them about "righteous, self-control, and the judgment to come" a. Felix was afraid b. He sent Paul away; he indicated he would call for him at a more "convenient time" 3. Felix hoped for a bribe from Paul to release him a. Felix sent for him often C. FESTUS SUCCEEDED FELIX (27) 1. After two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as governor 2. Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, so he "left Paul bound" REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main events in this chapter? - The accusers arrived and the accusations were made (1-9) - Paul gave his defense before Felix (10-21) - Felix delayed the judgment of Paul (22-27) 2) How long was Paul held waiting for his accusers? (1) - Five days (1) 3) Who was Tertullus and what role did he play? (1-2) - Tertullus had travelled with the high priest and elders (1) - He was an orator; he presented the accusations before Felix (1-2) 4) How was Paul described in the charges by Tertullus? (4-6) - A plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews worldwide, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (5) - He tried to profane the temple (6) 5) How did the Jews want to handle this, according to Tertullus? (6) - They wanted to judge him according to their law (6) 6) Why were the Jews not able to carry out their plan? (7) - Commander Lysias came by and took Paul with great violence (7) 7) What did Lysias command them to do? (8) - He commanded Paul's accusers to come before Felix (8) 8) How did the Jews react to Tertullus presentation? (9) - They assented, and maintained that those things were so (9) 9) How many days prior had Paul's situation occurred in Jerusalem? (11) - Twelve days earlier (11) 10) How did Paul answer their accusations? (12-13) - He had not been found in the temple disputing with anyone, nor was he found inciting the crowd (12) - Nor had they found him doing these things in synagogues or in the city (12) - Paul stated that they could not prove these accusations (13) 11) According to what did Paul say he worshipped God? What did the Jews call this? (14) - According to the Way (14) - The Jews called it a sect; Tertullus specifically called it the sect of the Nazarenes (14; 5) 12) What did Paul say he had a hope in God to happen? (15) - That there would be a resurrection of the dead (15) 13) Who did Paul say would be resurrected? (15) - The dead - both the just and the unjust (15) 14) Because of the resurrection, what did Paul always strive to do? (16) - To have a conscience without offense toward God and men (16) 15) How did the Jews from Asia find Paul in the temple? (17-18) - They found Paul purified in the temple (18) - He was neither with a mob nor with a tumult (18) 16) Where did Paul say those Jews from Asia ought to have been if they had anything against him? (19) - They ought to have been there before Felix (19) 17) What statement did Paul cry out while before the Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem? (21) - "Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day." (21) 18) Felix adjourned the proceedings. When did he say he would decide the case? (22) - When Lysias the commander comes down (22) 19) When Felix commanded the centurion to keep Paul, what did he allow? (23) - The centurion was to all him liberty, and to allow his friends to visit him and provide for him (23) 20) Why did Felix and Drusilla send for Paul? (24) - They wanted to hear him concerning the faith in Christ (24) 21) What did Paul reason about before Felix and Drusilla? (25) - He reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come (25) 22) How did Felix respond to Paul? (25) - He became afraid, and said "Go away for now, when I have a more convenient time, I will call for you." (25) 23) What did Felix hope Paul would do? (26) - He hoped Paul would bring money to release him (26) 24) Who succeeded Felix after two years? (27) - Porcius Festus succeeded Felix (27) 25) How did Felix leave Paul? Why? (27) - Felix left Paul bound (27) - He did this as a favor to the Jews (27)
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Twenty-Three OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To consider the events of Paul before the Sanhedrin 2) To review the plot by the Jews for Paul's life 3) To examine Paul's transport to Caesarea to appear before Governor Felix SUMMARY When Paul was before the Sanhedrin council, he stated that he had lived in "all good conscience before God." Ananias, the high priest, commanded that he be struck on the mouth. Paul responded, not knowing that he was the high priest, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?" Those standing nearby asked Paul if he would "revile" the high priest. Paul then quoted the scriptures, "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people." Paul recognized that there were Sadducees and Pharisees present in the Sanhedrin. He made it known that he was a Pharisee, and that he was being judged concerning "the hope and resurrection of the dead." This caused a dissension among the Sanhedrin, as the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and the Pharisees did believe in the resurrection. The scribes of the Pharisees spoke out that they found nothing evil in Paul. The Roman commander became afraid that harm would come to Paul, so he ordered the soldiers to take Paul back to the barracks. (1-10) The following night, the Lord appeared and spoke to Paul. He was to be the Lord's witness at Rome, as he had testified for Him in Jerusalem. Some Jews then planned to kill Paul. More than forty Jews banded together and took an oath to kill him before they ate or drank anything. The plotting Jews went to the chief priests and elders to present their plan. They requested that the chief priests and elders would contact the commander, and have Paul appear before the council again for further inquiry. The forty or more Jews would lie in wait to kill him along the way. Paul's nephew heard of the ambush plot. He went to Paul in the barracks and told him what he heard. Paul had his nephew taken to the commander. The commander took him aside and heard the plot. The commander told the young man to tell no one that they had spoken about the plot. Paul's nephew then departed from the commander. (11-22) Next, Paul was to be sent to Felix at Caesarea by night. The commander had two centurions prepare the men to take Paul. 200 Soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen were readied. They were to take Paul to Caesarea at the third hour of the night. Paul was to go before governor Felix. The commander wrote a letter to Felix to accompany Paul. The commander, Claudius Lysias, addressed the letter to "the most excellent governor Felix." The letter summarized the situation with Paul. The Jews had seized Paul and were about to kill him. Troops were sent to rescue Paul. In an attempt to learn of the Jews' accusation of Paul, he took him before the Sanhedrin council. He only learned that Paul was accused "concerning questions of the law," but nothing deserving death or imprisonment. The commander learned of a plot to ambush and kill Paul. Due to this discovery, he sent Paul to Felix and ordered his accusers to appear before Felix to state their charges against him. The letter gave Felix the background. The soldiers, horsemen, and spearmen took Paul by night to Antipatris. The next day, the horsemen continued, and took Paul to Caesarea, while the soldiers and spearmen returned. They presented Paul and the letter to Felix. The governor inquired where Paul was from and understood that he was from Cilicia. He agreed to hear Paul when his accusers arrived. Felix had Paul held in Herod's Praetorium. (23-35) OUTLINE I. PAUL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN COUNCIL (1-10) A. THE HIGH PRIEST ANANIAS COMMANDED FOR PAUL TO BE STRUCK ON THE MOUTH (1-3) 1. Paul stated he had lived in "all good conscience before God" 2. Ananias commanded that Paul be struck on the mouth 3. Paul responded, not knowing that Ananias was high priest a. Paul said, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!" b. Paul noted that he had commanded him to be struck contrary to the law B. PAUL DID NOT RECOGNIZE ANANIAS AS HIGH PRIEST (4-5) 1. When Paul spoke to Ananias, those standing near asked, "Do you revile God's high priest?" 2. Paul did not know Ananias was the high priest a. Paul quoted scripture in response b. "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people" C. THE SANHEDRIN WAS DIVIDED (6-10) 1. Paul recognized that there were Sadducees and Pharisees present in the Sanhedrin 2. Paul made it known that he was a Pharisee and was being judged concerning "the hope and resurrection of the dead" a. This caused a dissension among the Sanhedrin b. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection; the Pharisees did believe in the resurrection c. The scribes of the Pharisees spoke out that they found nothing evil in Paul 3. The Roman commander became afraid that harm would come to Paul 4. The commander ordered the soldiers to take Paul back to the barracks II. THE JEWISH PLOT AGAINST PAUL'S LIFE (11-22) A. THE LORD SPOKE TO PAUL (11) 1. The Lord appeared and spoke to Paul the following night 2. Paul was to be the Lord's witness at Rome B. THE JEWS PLANNED TO KILL PAUL (12-15) 1. More than forty Jews banded together and took an oath to kill Paul before they ate or drank anything 2. The plotting Jews went to the chief priests and elders to present their plan a. The chief priests and elders were to contact the commander b. They wanted Paul to be called before the council again for further inquiry c. The forty Jews would lie in wait to kill him along the way C. THE PLOT WAS DISCOVERED (16-22) 1. Paul's nephew heard of the ambush plot 2. He went to Paul in the barracks and told him what he had heard 3. Paul had his nephew taken to the commander a. The commander took him aside and heard the plot b. The commander told the young man to tell no one that they had spoken about the plot c. Paul's nephew departed from the commander III. PAUL WAS SENT TO FELIX AT CAESAREA BY NIGHT (23-35) A. THE COMMANDER HAD TWO CENTURIONS PREPARE TO TAKE PAUL (23-24) 1. 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen were prepared 2. They were to take Paul to Caesarea at the third hour of the night 3. Paul was to go before governor Felix B. THE COMMANDER WROTE A LETTER TO FELIX (25-30) 1. Claudius Lysias was the Roman commander's name 2. The letter was address to "the most excellent governor Felix" 3. The letter summarized the situation with Paul a. The Jews had seized Paul and were about to kill him b. Troops were sent to rescue Paul c. To learn of the Jews' accusation, the commander took Paul before the Sanhedrin d. He only learned that Paul was accused "concerning questions of the law," but nothing deserving death or imprisonment e. The commander learned of a plot to ambush and kill Paul f. Due to this, he sent Paul to Felix and ordered his accusers to appear before Felix to state their charges against him C. PAUL WAS TAKEN TO CAESAREA AND PRESENTED TO FELIX (31-35) 1. The soldiers, horsemen, and spearmen took Paul by night to Antipatris 2. The next day, the horsemen continued, and took Paul to Caesarea, while the soldiers and spearmen returned 3. They presented Paul and the letter to Felix a. Felix inquired where Paul was from and understood that he was from Cilicia b. He agreed to hear Paul when his accusers arrived c. He had Paul held in Herod's Praetorium REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main events in this chapter? - Paul before the Sanhedrin (1-10) - The Jewish plot against Paul's life (11-22) - Paul was sent to Felix at Caesarea by night (23-35) 2) How did Paul begin his address to the Sanhedrin? (1) - "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." (1) 3) How did the high priest Ananias respond? (2) - He commanded him to be struck on the mouth (2) 4) Why did Paul take issue with that action? (3) - They were supposedly judging him according to the law, but they were acting contrary to the law by striking him (3) 5) Did Paul know that Ananias was the high priest? (4-5) - No (5) 6) What did Paul recognize (or "perceive") about the council? (6) - He recognized that one part was Sadducees and the other Pharisees (6) 7) What was the noted difference between the Sadducees and Pharisees? (7-8) - Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, nor angels or spirits (8) - Pharisees believed in the resurrection, and angels and spirits (8) 8) For what did Paul say he was being judged? (6) - "concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead" (6) 9) Who said, "We find no evil in this man?" What was their recommendation? (9) - The scribes of the Pharisees' party (9) - "let us not fight against God" (9) 10) Why did the commander order that Paul be taken to the barracks? (10) - He was afraid he would be "pulled to pieces" (10) 11) Who appeared to Paul the following night? What did He say? (11) - The Lord (11) - "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome." (11) 12) What did some of the Jews band together to do? What was their oath? About how many banded together? (12-13) - They banded together to kill Paul (12) - Not to eat or drink until they killed Paul (12) - More than forty Jews (13) 13) Describe the plot to kill Paul. (14-15) - The plotting Jews wanted the Sanhedrin council to call back before them for "further inquiries" (15) - They planned to ambush (kill) Paul before he arrived (15) 14) Who heard about the ambush? Who did he go tell? What did he do next? (16-22) - Paul's sister's son (Paul's nephew) heard about the ambush (16) - He went to the barracks and told Paul (16) - Paul had him taken to the commander (17) - The commander took him aside privately, and Paul's nephew described what he had heard about the ambush (19-21) - The commander let him go, and told the young man to tell no one that he had discussed this with him (22) 15) What did the commander do after learning of the plot? (23-30) - He told two centurions to prepare men to go to Caesarea (23) - 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen (23) - They were to take Paul to Felix by night (23-24) - He wrote a letter to Felix, summarizing Paul's situation (25-30) 16) What question did Felix ask upon receiving Paul and the letter? (33-34) - He asked what province Paul was from (34) - He learned that he was from Cilicia (34) 17) When did Felix agree to hear Paul's case? (35) - When his accusers arrived (35) 18) Where was Paul kept, while waiting for the accusers? (35) - Herod's Praetorium (35)
Muhammad or Jesus?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Muhammad: “Those who say: Allah hath chosen a son…speak nothing but a lie” (Surah 18:4-5).
Jesus (through John): “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?... Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either” (1 John 2:22-23).
Muhammad: “Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him” (Surah 23:91).
God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
Muhammad: “[T]he Christians call Christ the Son of God.... Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” (Surah 9:30).
Jesus: “[H]e who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “Jesus…said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you’” (John 9:35-37).
Muhammad: “They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain, but Allah took him up unto Himself” (Surah 4:157-158).
Jesus: “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:32-33).
Muhammad: “[S]ay not ‘Three’—Cease! (it is) better for you!—Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son” (Surah 4:171-172).
Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Muhammad: “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary…. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire” (Surah5:72-74).
Jesus: “[I]f you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Muhammad: Polygamous, having multiple wives, as many as 12 at a time.
Jesus: Remained single, devoting Himself to His divine mission.
The Jesus of the Quran: A mere human prophet, finite in his attributes, like sinful man, flawed.
The Jesus of the Bible: Perfect, infinite in all of His attributes, unlike sinful man.
Islam is focused on Muhammad, who was merely a man.
Christianity is focused on Jesus, Who was God in the flesh.
According to Islam and the Quran—
If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you will be lost eternally in hell.
According to Christianity and the Bible—
If you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you will be lost eternally in hell.
Jesus said: “Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
NOTE: The above verses from the Quran were taken from two celebrated Muslim translations:
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (1930), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Camels and the Composition of Genesis
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Arguably, the most widely alleged anachronisms used in support of the idea that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible (a theory known as the Documentary Hypothesis) are the accounts of the early patriarchs possessing camels. The word “camel(s)” appears 23 times in 21 verses in the book of Genesis. The first book of the Bible declares that camels existed in Egypt during the time of Abraham (12:14-17), in Palestine in the days Isaac (24:63), in Padan Aram while Jacob was working for Laban (30:43), and were owned by the Midianites during the time Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery (37:25,36). Make no mistake about it, the book of beginnings clearly teaches that camels were domesticated since at least the time of Abraham.
According to skeptics (and a growing number of liberal scholars), however, the idea that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham directly contradicts archaeological evidence. Over one hundred years ago, T.K. Cheyne wrote: “The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded” (1899, 1:634). In his oft’-quoted book on the various animals of the Bible, George Cansdale stated:
The Bible first mentions the camel in Gen. 12:16, where the presents are listed which the pharaoh gave to Abram. This is generally reckoned to be a later scribe’s addition, for it seems unlikely that there were any camels in Egypt then (1970, p. 66, emp. added).
More recently, Finkelstein and Silberman confidently asserted:
We now know through archaeological research that camels were not domesticated as beasts of burden earlier than the late second millennium and were not widely used in that capacity in the ancient Near East until well after 1000 BCE (2001, p. 37, emp. added).
By way of summary, what the Bible believer has been told is: “[T]ame camels were simply unknown during Abraham’s time” (Tobin, 2000).
While these claims have been made repeatedly over the last century, the truth of the matter is that skeptics and liberal theologians are unable to cite a single piece of solid archaeological evidence in support of their claims. As Randall Younker of Andrews University stated in March 2000 while delivering a speech in the Dominican Republic: “Clearly, scholars who have denied the presence of domesticated camels in the 2nd millennium B.C. have been committing the fallacy of arguing from silence. This approach should not be allowed to cast doubt upon the veracity of any historical document, let alone Scripture” (2000). The burden of proof actually should be upon skeptics to show that camels were not domesticated until after the time of the patriarchs. Instead, they assure their listeners of the camel’s absence in Abraham’s day—without one shred of archaeological evidence. [Remember, for many years they also argued that writing was unknown during the time of Moses—a conclusion based entirely on “silence.” Now, however, they have recanted that idea, because evidence has been found to the contrary. One might think that such “scholars” would learn not to speak with such assurance when arguing from silence.]
What makes their claims even more disturbing is that several pieces of evidence do exist (and have existed for some time) that prove camels were domesticated during (and even before) the time of Abraham (roughly 2,000 B.C.). In an article that appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies a half-century ago, professor Joseph Free listed several instances of Egyptian archaeological finds supporting the domestication of camels [NOTE: The dates given for the Egyptian dynasties are from Clayton, 2001, pp.14-68]. The earliest evidence comes from a pottery camel’s head and a terra cotta tablet with men riding on and leading camels. According to Free, these are both from predynastic Egypt (1944, pp. 189-190), which according to Clayton is roughly before 3150 B.C. Free also listed three clay camel heads and a limestone vessel in the form of camel lying down—all dated at the First Dynasty of Egypt (3050-2890 B.C.). He then mentioned several models of camels from the Fourth Dynasty (2613-2498 B.C.), and a petroglyph depicting a camel and a man dated at the Sixth Dynasty (2345-2184 B.C.). Such evidence has led one respected Egyptologist to conclude that “the extant evidence clearly indicates that the domestic camel was known [in Egypt—EL] by 3,000B.C.”—long before Abraham’s time (Kitchen, 1980, 1:228).
Perhaps the most convincing find in support of the early domestication of camels in Egypt is a rope made of camel’s hair found in the Fayum (an oasis area southwest of modern-day Cairo). The two-strand twist of hair, measuring a little over three feet long, was found in the late 1920s, and was sent to the Natural History Museum where it was analyzed and compared to the hair of several different animals. After considerable testing, it was determined to be camel hair, dated (by analyzing the layer in which it was found) to the Third or Fourth Egyptian Dynasty (2686-2498 B.C.). In his article, Free also listed several other discoveries from around 2,000 B.C. and later, which showed camels as domestic animals (pp. 189-190).
While prolific in Egypt, finds relating to the domestication of camels are not isolated to the African continent. In his book, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament, professor Kenneth Kitchen (retired) of the University of Liverpool reported several discoveries made outside of Egypt proving ancient camel domestication around 2,000 B.C. Lexical lists from Mesopotamia have been uncovered that show a knowledge of domesticated camels as far back as this time. Camel bones have been found in household ruins at Mari in present-day Syria that fossilologists believe are also at least 4,000 years old. Furthermore, a Sumerian text from the time of Abraham has been discovered in the ancient city of Nippur (located in what is now southeastern Iraq) that clearly implies the domestication of camels by its allusions to camels’ milk (Kitchen, 1966, p. 79).
All of these documented finds support the domestication of camels in Egypt many years before the time of Abraham. Yet, as Younker rightly observed, skeptics refuse to acknowledge any of this evidence.
It is interesting to note how, once an idea gets into the literature, it can become entrenched in conventional scholarly thinking. I remember doing research on the ancient site of Hama in Syria. As I was reading through the excavation reports (published in French), I came across a reference to a figurine from the 2nd millennium which the excavator thought must be a horse, but the strange hump in the middle of its back made one think of a camel. I looked at the photograph and the figurine was obviously that of a camel! The scholar was so influenced by the idea that camels were not used until the 1st millennium, that when he found a figurine of one in the second millennium, he felt compelled to call it a horse! This is a classic example of circular reasoning (2000, parenthetical comment in orig.).
Finds relating to the domestication of camels are not as prevalent in the second millennium B.C. as they are in the first millennium. This does not make the skeptics’ case any stronger, however. Just because camels were not as widely used during Abraham’s time as they were later, does not mean that they were entirely undomesticated. As Free commented:
Many who have rejected this reference to Abraham’s camels seem to have assumed something which the text does not state. It should be carefully noted that the biblical reference does not necessarily indicate that the camel was common in Egypt at that time, nor does it evidence that the Egyptians had made any great progress in the breeding and domestication of camels. It merely says that Abraham had camels (1944, p. 191, emp. added).
Similarly, Younker noted:
This is not to say that domesticated camels were abundant and widely used everywhere in the ancient Near East in the early second millennium. However, the patriarchal narratives do not necessarily require large numbers of camels…. The smaller amount of evidence for domestic camels in the late third and early second millennium B.C., especially in Palestine, is in accordance with this more restricted use (1997, 42:52).
Even without the above-mentioned archaeological finds (which to the unbiased examiner prove that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham), it only seems reasonable to conclude that since wild camels have been known since the Creation, “there is no credible reason why such an indispensable animal in desert and semi-arid lands should not have been sporadically domesticated in patriarchal times and even earlier” (“Animal Kingdom,” 1988). The truth is, all of the available evidence points to one conclusion—the limited use of domesticated camels during and before the time of Abraham did occur. The supposed “anachronism” of domesticated camels during the time of the patriarchs is, in fact, an actual historical reference to the use of these animals at that time. Those who reject this conclusion cannot give one piece of solid archaeological evidence on their behalf. They simply argue from the “silence” of archaeology…which is silent no more!
“Animal Kingdom” (1988), The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Cansdale, George (1970), All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Cheyne, T.K. (1899), Encyclopedia Biblica (London: A. & C. Black).
Clayton, Peter A. (2001), Chronicle of the Pharaohs (London: Thames & Hudson).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed (New York: Free Press).
Free, Joseph P. (1944), “Abraham’s Camels,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 3:187-193, July.
Kitchen, K.A. (1966), Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Chicago, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Kitchen, K.A. (1980), The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale).
Tobin, Paul N. (2000), “Mythological Element in the Story of Abraham and the Patriachal Narratives,”The Refection of Pascal’s Wager [On-line], URL: http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/abraham.html.
Younker, Randall W. (1997), “Late Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai,” Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin, 42:47-54.
Younker, Randall W. (2000), “The Bible and Archaeology,” The Symposium on the Bible and Adventist Scholarship [On-line], URL: http://www.aiias.edu/ict/vol_26B/26Bcc_457-477.htm.
Atheism’s Real Agenda: Censure and Termination
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
In 2004, Sam Harris published his New York Times bestsellerThe End of Faith. In that book, Harris supports atheism as the only rational view of the world. He condemns all forms of religious faith, including and especially Christianity, as detrimental and potentially dangerous. He goes so far as to suggest that some beliefs are so serious that simply holding such should be a punishable offense. He stated:
The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others (2004, pp. 52-53, emp. added).
In the immediate context, Harris is referring to militant Muslims whose religious beliefs lead them to kill infidels. Later in the book, however, we see another belief that Harris considers to be a punishable offense. On page 156, Harris discussed his view of political leaders who espouse Christian sentiments. He opined:
Men eager to do the Lord’s work have been elected to other branches of federal government as well. The House majority lead, Tom Delay, is given to profundities like “Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world. Only Christianity.” He claims to have gone into politics “to promote a Biblical worldview.” Apparently feeling that it is impossible to say anything stupid while in the service of this worldview, he attributed the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado to the fact that our schools teach the theory of evolution (2004, p. 156).
What, then, does Harris believe should happen to a person who openly claims that Christianity is the global solution to the world’s ills? Harris quipped: “We might wonder how it is that pronouncements this floridly irrational do not lead to immediate censure and removal from office” (p. 156, emp. added).
In this brief article we will not go into the facts that the Columbine shootings were inspired by evolution, that atheism is completely irrational, and that Christianity can be shown to be the only solution to the realities of this world. The sole purpose of this article is to show that atheism’s ultimate agenda is to censure those who espouse Christianity and to persecute the belief to extinction. The atheistic community is not a “live and let live” market place of ideas. Harris vividly manifests the fact that atheism views Christianity as a dangerous belief that should be quelled at all cost, including punishing those who espouse it. The “freethought” community’s idea of “freethought” is that all people are “free” to think how they like, as long as that thought process is atheistic at its core and excludes Christianity.
With atheism being one of the fastest growing beliefs in our country, it is time that Christians recognize the agenda of those leading the atheistic charge. If atheism has its way, according to bestselling atheist Sam Harris, it should be a punishable offense to publicly proclaim that Christianity is the only solution to humanity’s problems. Rue the day that atheism and its leaders become prominent enough to enforce such an agenda. For Christians, “now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11) and stand up for the Truth while we have opportunity.
Harris, Sam (2004), The End of Faith (New York: W.W. Norton).
Are There Modern-Day Apostles?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The incredible diversity of viewpoint that exists in religion today is startling and disconcerting. We are witnessing a breakdown of respect for authority in American culture, as well as a tremendous increase in personal opinion and feelings as the standard of authority. Consequently, we now have a veritable smorgasbord of doctrinal variety in religion. Such is the nature of pluralism. One is likely to see anything and everything perpetrated in the name of religion and/or Christianity. The only solution to such a situation is to reaffirm the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible is the only written document on this planet that is the standard of authority in life and in religion (see Miller, 1996, pp. 430-446,462-471).
THE DEFINITION OF AN APOSTLE
Such being the case, we must go to the Bible to determine God’s will with regard to modern-day apostles. When we do so, we first learn that the word “apostle” comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “one sent from or forth, a messenger, delegate” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 99; Thayer, 1901, p. 68). The term is used in the New Testament in two distinct senses. It can refer to an individual who is sent by other humans to accomplish a particular mission or task. The term is so used to refer, for example, to Barnabas (Acts 14:14). He was an “apostle” in the sense that he accompanied Paul on an evangelistic trip. Jesus is said to be our “Apostle” in the sense that He was sent to atone for our sins (Hebrews 3:1).
The term “apostle” also is used in a second sense—what we might call an official sense. That is, “apostle” can refer to individuals who were officially and divinely selected to serve as Jesus’ original representatives—“ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus handpicked the original twelve apostles (Matthew 10:1-5; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-2). Of these original twelve, Judas betrayed the Lord as predicted by the Old Testament (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18-19; 18:1-5). Instead of repenting, he cinched his apostasy by committing suicide (Matthew 27:3-5; John 17:12). Consequently, a successor to Judas was selected by divine decree (Acts 1:16-26).
Only one other apostle in the official sense is alluded to in the New Testament—Paul. His appointment to apostleship was unique and unparalleled in that he was chosen for a specific first century task (Acts 9:15; 22:14-15; 26:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:11-12,15-16). Christ selected him to introduce the message of Christianity to the Gentile world (Romans 11:13; 15:16; Galatians 2:8; Ephesians 3:8). Paul was careful to document the fact that his apostleship was by divine appointment (e.g., Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1,16).
THE QUALIFICATIONS OF AN APOSTLE
When one assembles all the relevant New Testament data, at least three qualifications emerge as prerequisite to one becoming an apostle in the official sense (Hayden, 1894, p. 33, expands these credentials to seven in number). First, an apostle had to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22; 22:14; 1 Corinthians 9:1). Second, an apostle had to be specifically selected by the Lord or the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:5; Mark 3:13-14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:26; 9:15; 22:14-15,21; 26:16). Third, an apostle was invested with miraculous power to the extent that he could perform miracles. The power to perform miracles included the capability to confer the ability to work miracles to other individuals through the laying on of his hands (Mark 3:15; 16:17-20; Luke 9:1-2; John 14:12,26; 15:24-27; 16:13; Acts 2:43; 4:29-31,33; 5:12,15-16; 6:6; 8:14-18; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11; Hebrews 2:3-4). Jesus referred to His bestowal of miraculous capability upon the apostles when He promised they would be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
THE WORK OF AN APOSTLE
The apostolic office was unquestionably a temporary office for the early church (though apostolic appointment was for life). Its essential purpose was twofold. First, apostles were commissioned by Jesus to launch the Christian religion (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48). This purpose was achieved by means of the initial presentation of the Gospel to the whole world (Colossians 1:23), and the establishment of the church of Christ (Acts 2). Second, apostles were largely responsible for making the New Testament available—first in oral form and, more specifically, in written form (1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:14; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 3:15-16).
These two central tasks are set forth clearly in the New Testament. In Matthew 16, Jesus declared that He would build His church after His resurrection from hades (vs. 18). He then explained that it would be the apostles who would instigate initial entrance into Christ’s church (hence the significance of “keys”—vs. 19). This commencement of the Christian religion and the church of Christ would be achieved by means of the apostles “binding” and “loosing” the doctrinal tenets and principles of Christianity that Heaven had previously bound or loosed [the Greek uses the perfect passive and should be translated “will have been bound/loosed in Heaven” as in the NASB (cf. Matthew 18:18-20; John 20:22-23)]. Peter and the apostles articulated the terms of entrance into the kingdom of Christ for the first time on the Pentecost that followed Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:14ff.).
In Ephesians 4, after summarizing Christianity in terms of seven core concepts (vss. 1-6), Paul described the initial sequence of events that recounted the advent of Christianity (vss. 7-16). Paul noted that: (1) after His crucifixion, Jesus descended into the Hadean realm; (2) He then was resurrected; (3) He ascended back to Heaven; (4) upon His ascension, He dispensed gifts; (5) the apostolic office was included in the reception of these miraculous capabilities; (6) the purpose of these gifts was to equip and edify the church; (7) the preparation provided to the infant church by these gifts was temporary (“till” is an adverb of time connoting when the miraculous gifts were to terminate), in that the same preparation soon would be available through the completed revelation, i.e., “the faith.” [By “completed revelation” we do not mean completed canon. We mean that all of God’s communication to humanity would have been revealed. See the New Testament discussion contrasting “mystery” with “made known” (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:1-11). In the meantime, the process of producing copies of the various New Testament documents and circulating them far and wide would have been occurring rapidly and extensively from the very moment of their production by the inspired writers (cf. Colossians 4:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, where Luke 10:7 is already known and classified as “Scripture,” and 2 Peter 3:15-16, where Paul’s epistles are already circulated and recognized as “Scriptures”). Further, the reference to “the faith” in Ephesians 4:13 cannot refer to a time when all people or all Christians will achieve unity in faith. Such a circumstance will never occur. Paul was referring to the time when all people would have access to all of God’s communication to man, thus giving them the potential for attaining spiritual maturity (“a perfect man” vs. “children“). See Miller, 2003].
Once all of the information necessary to the promotion of the Christian religion was revealed to the early church (through oral means made possible by the distribution of the gifts), the church would have the means available to grow and mature in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). While prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers [the words “pastors and teachers” share the same article in the Greek, and so should likely be construed to mean “pastor-teachers,” i.e., a single function in which pastors (those selected by the local congregation to serve as elders or shepherds) were endowed with the miraculous ability to teach inspired information not yet made available in written form] were part of this early development of Christianity (Ephesians 4:11), the office of an apostle was the primary means by which Christ accomplished the inauguration of His religion.
The apostles had the sole responsibility of executing the will of the Son of God in founding, organizing, and fully equipping the church of Christ on Earth, that she might fulfill her heaven-borne mission, until Jesus comes again (Hayden, p. 22). That is why Paul could say two chapters earlier that the household of God (i.e., the church) was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20; cf. 3:5; Revelation 21:14). That is why he informed the Corinthian Christians:
God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
The apostles are said to be “first” in the significance and criticality of their divinely appointed role. The apostles specifically described their unique role in the early church as entailing giving themselves to “the word of God” and “the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2,4).
THE DURATION OF AN APOSTLE
Once the church of Christ was established and Christianity was given its initial presentation (cf. Colossians 1:23), the apostolic office faded from the scene along with the age of miracles. As an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection, Paul referred to himself in relation to the other apostles as “last of all” (1 Corinthians 15:8). Neither apostles nor miraculous gifts was needed any longer. They had served their temporary purpose (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:29-31; 13:12; 14:3; Romans 15:18-19; Hebrews 2:3-4; cf. Exodus 4:30). Miraculous gifts functioned as scaffolding while the church was under initial construction, and were removed once the structure had been completed (1 Corinthians 3:10; 13:11; Ephesians 4:13-14). The book we call the Bible is the totality of God’s written revelation to the human race. Consequently, people now have access to everything they need (2 Peter 1:3) to enter into a right relationship with God via Christianity and the church of Christ. The apostles “had no official successors. From the nature of their duties, there could be no succession” (Hayden, pp. 20-21).Apostles, quite simply, are no longer needed!
NO APOSTLES TODAY
Unfortunately, several groups that claim affiliation with the Christian religion allege to have apostles among them, including Catholicism, Mormonism, and some pentecostal groups. This claim is unbiblical. No person living today can meet the qualifications given in Scripture for being an apostle. No one living today has been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection. Christ has selected no one living today for the apostolic role. No one living today possesses the miraculous capabilities of an apostle. We should not be surprised that people would falsely claim to be apostles. Jesus warned that false prophets would come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they would be ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). Paul described some of his opponents in these words:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Further warning was issued to the Galatian churches: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Anyone claiming to be an apostle today who teaches anything in addition to the New Testament is clearly not an apostle of Christ!
Peter added his voice on the same subject: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). No wonder John admonished: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1; cf. Matthew 24:11,24). In the Revelation, the church at Ephesus was commended because they “tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Revelation 2:2).
Catholicism maintains that Peter was the supreme bishop, even over the other apostles, and that every pope since Peter is an apostolic successor to Peter. The pope is selected after literally hours and days of deliberation by cardinals in the Vatican. The only apostle in the Bible that was not handpicked by Christ in person was Matthias. Yet he was not selected by mere men deliberating and debating his potential. He was selected by the casting of lots—which was simply another way for Jesus to do the selecting (Acts 1:26; cf. Proverbs 16:33).
It is incredible to think that any human beings living today would presume to appoint apostles. In pinpointing the credentials of an apostle, Luke (Acts 1) made it abundantly evident that to qualify as an apostle a person would have to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of His resurrection. That is why Paul was careful to state: “Am I not an apostle? …Have I not seen the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1, emp. added). In recounting his conversion, he quoted Ananias as having said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15, emp. added). What alleged modern-day apostle could make such a claim?
The New Testament also makes clear the fact that an essential characteristic of an apostle was that he had been selected by Deity. When Jesus was on Earth, He handpicked the first twelve apostles. After His departure from Earth, the disciples cast lots to select a successor to Judas. Their method allowed no input from mere humans—except in the recognition that two men possessed all the qualifications necessary to be an apostle. Casting lots allowed God to do the selecting. Divine control in the selection process by casting lots was common in Old Testament history (see Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; Joshua 14:2; 18:6,10; 19:51; cf. Acts 13:19; 1 Samuel 14:42; Nehemiah 10:34; Psalm 16:5). Solomon claimed: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). Indeed, Peter’s prayer on the occasion shows that the decision already had been made by the Lord before the actual casting of lots: “…show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1:24, emp. added). The summary statement regarding Matthias—“he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26; cf. Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33)—gives way to a return to the expression “the twelve” (Acts 6:2; cf. Acts 2:14). The text states: “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship” (Acts 1:24-25). Paul also was handpicked by Jesus—to be a “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15). No human being on Earth today can claim he has been personally singled out and chosen by Jesus to be an apostle.
A third proof that no apostles exist on Earth today is the fact that New Testament apostles were empowered by God—not only to perform miracles—but also to convey miraculous power to other people who then could work miracles themselves. This characteristic is demonstrated in detailed fashion in Acts: “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Acts 8:18). The issue of modern-day apostles may be settled very quickly! To authenticate their claim to be apostles, they must be able both to perform miracles as well as confer miraculous power to others. The apostles of Jesus in the New Testament demonstrated their apostolic status without hesitation. Anyone today who claims to be an apostle should be willing to do the same. No such ability exists today.
ORIGINAL APOSTLES WERE SUFFICIENT
A fascinating passage in the New Testament sheds further light upon this notion of modern-day apostles. That passage is Matthew 19:28. There Jesus informed Peter and the other apostles: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” A related passage is Luke 22:29-30 which says, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
These verses are Christ’s figurative declarations describing the role of the twelve apostles in the establishment of the church and the dissemination of the gospel proclamation (cf. Bales, 1957, pp. 187-223). The “regeneration” refers to the Christian era, which began at Pentecost, during which time spiritual regeneration became possible through the blood of Christ (Titus 3:5). It is an equivalent expression with the “time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10). The throne of Christ’s glory refers to His present location at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36; Ephesians 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:13; 8:1; 10:12-13). The “judging” done by the apostles refers to the rule that the apostles exerted while they were on Earth, setting in place the features of New Testament Christianity (Matthew 16:19; John 20:22-23). The “twelve thrones” refers to their complete authority from Christ to implement Christ’s will until the end of time—which they presently do today through their authoritative writings—found only in the New Testament. The “twelve tribes” is a figurative way to refer to the church—the spiritual Israel (Galatians 6:16; James 1:1; cf. Romans 2:28-30; Galatians 3:29).
Neither Christ nor the original apostles needs successors or representatives on Earth today. They continue to rule and reign over the kingdom through the work that they achieved in the first century, and that is preserved for all in the New Testament. Christ is now on His throne ruling and reigning. The apostles also are on the thrones assigned to them by Christ. To suggest that the apostles have modern-day successors is to discount and discredit the current rule of the apostles. Neither Christ nor the apostles has abdicated their authority or their current rule to any humans on Earth.
Additionally, the fact that Jesus declared that all twelve apostles would occupy thrones in the kingdom proves that Peter had no greater authority than the other apostles. The apostles were equalin their reception and wielding of the authority delegated to them by Christ. Yet the Catholic Church claims that the immediate successors to Peter were Linus (from A.D. 67 to 79), Cletus (from A.D.79 to 91) and Clement (from A.D. 91 to 100). They agree that the apostle John would have still been alive throughout this period (see G.C. Brewer’s discussion as quoted in Bales, pp. 208-210). The doctrine of the primacy of Peter means that the first three of the alleged successors of Peter would have exercised authority over the still-living apostle John—who had been handpicked by Christ Himself! The very John whom Jesus placed on one of the twelve thrones would have been under the authority, knowledge, and power of three popes who had not been selected to be among the original Twelve! (see also Hayden, pp. 22-33). Hayden aptly summarized the New Testament position regarding modern-day apostles:
The thirteen apostles chosen, ordained and endowed by the newly crowned Messiah faithfully and fully executed their commission. When they entered into everlasting rest, the church was established, with all needful ministries to edify, extend and perpetuate it throughout all coming centuries. Then the extraordinary, which was necessary to found a new institution, was succeeded by the ordinary, which is sufficient to teach, regulate and govern the subjects of Christ’s kingdom according to the laws that went forth from Jerusalem. The revelation of God was completed. The word of faith is henceforth nigh every believer, even in his mouth and in his heart. The apostolic office ceased, and evangelists and pastors became the permanent teachers and superintendents of the church (pp. 33-34).
Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Bales, James (1957), The Kingdom: Prophesied and Established (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation).
Hayden, W.L. (1894), Church Polity (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club).
Miller, Dave (1996), Piloting the Strait (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—Extended Version,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).