"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Two OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To appreciate Paul's method of proclaiming the gospel 2) To see the need for inspiration and understand the process by which it took place SUMMARY Continuing to demonstrate the folly of boasting in human wisdom, Paul reminds them of how he came to them. Instead of depending upon excellent speech or persuasive words of wisdom, he proclaimed Jesus Christ and Him crucified, confirming his testimony with a demonstration of the Spirit and power (1-4). This he did that their faith might rest in God's power, not in the wisdom of men (5). He did proclaim a type of wisdom, however, that wisdom which comes from God (6-9). He describes the process by which God has revealed this wisdom through His Spirit (10-13). Paul then contrasts the difference between the "natural man" (one who depends upon his own human wisdom) who does not receive the things of the Spirit, and the "spiritual man" (one led by the Spirit of God, such as Paul) who has the mind of Christ (14-16). OUTLINE I. PAUL'S MANNER OF PREACHING (1-5) A. HE PREACHED "JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED" (1-3) 1. Declaring the testimony of God without excellence of speech or wisdom (1) 2. Determined not to know anything among them but Jesus and Him crucified (2) 3. Done in weakness, fear and much trembling (3) B. WITH DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER (4-5) 1. Not with persuasive words of human wisdom (4) 2. That their faith would rest in the power of God, not the wisdom of men (5) II. THE TRUE WISDOM OF GOD (6-16) A. THE "HIDDEN" NATURE OF GOD'S WISDOM (6-9) 1. The apostles do speak a sort of wisdom (6) a. Among those who are mature (6a) b. But it is not the wisdom of this age or its rulers, which is coming to nothing (6b) 2. The wisdom of God they speak has been a "mystery" (7-9) a. Ordained before time began, but hidden (7) b. Unknown by the rulers of this age, which is why they crucified the Lord (8) c. Man had not discovered what God has prepared for those who love Him (9) B. THE SPIRIT'S REVELATION OF GOD'S WISDOM (10-13) 1. Revealed through His Spirit (10-11) a. The Spirit searches for the deep things of God (10) b. Only the Spirit of God can know the things of God (11) 2. Made known to the apostles (12) a. Who have received the Spirit from God (12a) b. So they might know the things freely given by God (12b) 3. Spoken now by the apostles (13) a. Not in words according to human wisdom (13a) b. But in words taught by the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (13b) C. THE "NATURAL MAN" VERSUS THE "SPIRITUAL MAN" (14-16) 1. The "natural man" (e.g., a philosopher) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God (14a) a. They are foolish to him (14b) b. Because they are "spiritually" discerned (14c) 2. But with the "spiritual man" (e.g., an apostle), such is not the case (15-16) a. He is able to judge all things properly (15a) b. No one is able to properly judge him (15b) c. For he has "the mind of Christ" (16) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - Paul's Manner Of Preaching (1-5) - The True Wisdom Of God (6-16) 2) How does Paul describe his preaching among them? (1-2) - Not with excellence of speech or of wisdom - Determined to preach only Jesus and Him crucified 3) How does Paul describe his feelings among them? (3) - In weakness, in fear, and in much trembling 4) What accompanied Paul as he preached the gospel? (4) - Demonstration of the Spirit and of power 5) What six phrases in verses 9-13 help to explain the process by which the hidden mystery of God was made known? - "Things which God has prepared" - "God has revealed...through His Spirit" - "We have received...the Spirit" - "That we might know the things...freely given to us by God" - "These things we also speak" - "In words...which the Spirit teaches" 6) What phrase teaches the concept of "verbal inspiration"? (13) - "not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" 7) What is said about the "natural" man? (14) - Does not receive the things of the Spirit of God - They are foolishness to him - He cannot know them, for they are spiritually discerned 8) What is said about the "spiritual" man? (15-16) - Able to judge all things - None can rightly judge him - Has the mind of Christ
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter One OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To understand how division is unacceptable is the Body of Christ 2) To see why our boasting should be only in the Lord SUMMARY In his opening remarks Paul expresses gratitude that the Corinthians had been enriched by God, came behind in no gift, and were eagerly waiting for the revelation of the Lord (1-9). He immediately begins dealing with the first problem, that of division which manifested itself in what we might call "preacheritis" (10-17). Discerning that the underlying cause concerns the exaltation of human wisdom, Paul demonstrates the folly of boasting in such (18-31). OUTLINE I. INTRODUCTION (1-9) A. GREETINGS FROM PAUL AND SOSTHENES (1-3) 1. To the church at Corinth, and those who in every place call on the name of Jesus (2) 2. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus (3) B. THANKSGIVING FOR GOD'S GRACE TOWARDS THEM (4-9) 1. Enriching them in all knowledge, even as Christ's testimony was confirmed in them (5-6) 2. Coming short in no gift as they eagerly await the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ (7) 3. Who will confirm them so they may be blameless (8) 4. For God is faithful, who called them into the fellowship of His Son (9) II. THE NATURE OF THE DIVISION AT CORINTH (10-17) A. AS REPORTED TO PAUL (10-12) 1. His plea for unity (10) 2. For those of Chloe's household have reported contentions among them (11) 3. Evidently involving "preacheritis" (12) B. PAUL'S INITIAL REACTION (13-17) 1. Rhetorical questions to illustrate the absurdity of what we would call "preacheritis" (13) 2. Gratitude that he personally baptized few of them (14-17) a. Lest any should accuse him of baptizing in his own name (14-15) b. Administering baptism was not his chief calling anyway (16-17) III. THE FOLLY OF BOASTING IN HUMAN WISDOM (18-31) A. GOD WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE (18-25) 1. Granted, the message of the cross is foolish to some, but not to the saved (18) 2. But God will the destroy the wisdom of the world (19-20) 3. God chose to use His foolishness and His weakness to save those who believe (21-25) a. Because the world through its wisdom knew not God (21a) b. So God chose to save mankind through a "foolish" message about Christ crucified (21b-24) c. But even God's "foolishness" and "weakness" is wiser and stronger than men (25) B. THE CORINTHIANS' OWN CALLING DEMONSTRATES THIS TRUTH (26-29) 1. Not many of them were "wise, mighty, or noble" (26) 2. But God has chosen those things that are "foolish, weak, base, despised, and which are not", so that no flesh should glory in His presence (27-29) C. INSTEAD, BOAST IN THE LORD (30-31) 1. He provides for us the true wisdom, plus righteousness and sanctification and redemption (30) 2. We should glory only in Him (31) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - Introduction (1-9) - The Nature Of The Division At Corinth (10-17) - The Folly Of Boasting In Human Wisdom (18-31) 2) Who joined with Paul in addressing this letter to the Corinthians? (1) - Sosthenes 3) What was one thing the church did not lack in Corinth? (7) - Spiritual gifts 4) What is the first problem Paul deals with in this epistle? (10) - Division 5) Who reported this problem to him? (11) - The household of Chloe 6) How was their divisiveness expressed? (12) - Calling themselves after men 7) Who had Paul personally baptized at Corinth? (14,16) - Crispus, Gaius, the household of Stephanus 8) Why was Paul thankful that he had not baptized any other? (15) - Lest they should say he baptized in his own name 9) In what two ways do men view the preaching of the cross? (18) - Foolishness to those who are perishing - The power of God to those being saved 10) How did the preaching of Christ crucified appear to the Jews and the Greeks? (23) - A stumbling block to the Jews - Foolishness to the Greeks 11) How has God chosen to confound the wise of this world? (27-28) - By using that which in their sight is foolish, weak, base, despised 12) Upon what grounds may we boast? (31) - Only in the Lord
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Introduction AUTHOR: PAUL, the apostle (1:1; 16:21) PLACE OF WRITING: EPHESUS (16:8) TIME OF WRITING: Probably in the spring of 57 A.D., shortly before the Jewish feast of Pentecost (16:8), during his third missionary journey (Ac 19:1-41). BACKGROUND OF THE CITY OF CORINTH: Corinth was situated on the Isthmus of Greece (called Achaia in the Bible) between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea, above the Mediterranean Sea. About 50 miles to the east was the city of Athens. The Corinth of Paul's day was relatively new. The old Corinth (which was famous and powerful in the days of the Peloponnesian War) was burned in 146 B.C. by the Roman proconsul, L. Mummius. Because it was a city devoted to the gods, a hundred years were required to pass before the city could be rebuilt. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar rebuilt the city, populated it with a colony of veterans and freedmen, and named it Julia Corinthus. It soon became a very important commercial center. With a population of 400,000 and being a prominent center of commerce in the Mediterranean world, it was a place for all sorts of vice. An example of its immorality was found in the temple of Venus (Aphrodite), which hosted 1000 priestesses dedicated to prostitution in the name of religion. The city's close proximity to the city of Athens probably added the problem of intellectualism. As noticed in the epistle, such an environment had its effect upon the church in Corinth. It is amazing that a church existed at all in such a city. BACKGROUND OF THE CHURCH AT CORINTH: The establishment of the church occurred during Paul's second missionary journey. It is recorded by Luke in Ac 18:1-18, which can be divided into three sections: 1) Abiding with Aquila and Priscilla, fellow tentmakers; reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath (Ac 18:1-6). 2) In the house of Justus, abiding there and teaching for a year and six months (Ac 18:7-11) 3) An incident before Gallio, proconsul of Achaia (Ac 18:12-18) It appears from reading the epistle that the church was adversely affected by the immoral environment found in the city. Pride caused division in the church and disruption in the services (1Co 1-4, 11). Immorality and immodesty found its way into the church, which gave it a bad reputation (1Co 5). The brethren were taking their personal problems with each other before the heathen courts instead of working them out among themselves (1Co 6). Other issues affecting the church included questions about marriage (1Co 7), meats sacrificed to idols (1Co 8-10), women praying and prophesying with heads uncovered (1Co 11), the use of spiritual gifts (1Co 12-14), the resurrection from the dead (1Co 15), and the collection for the saints in Jerusalem (1Co 16). Thus the church was one beset with problems and questions that needed to be answered. PURPOSE OF WRITING: The bad news concerning the problems at Corinth had reached Paul in Ephesus. It seems that this news came from at least two sources: 1) the household of Chloe (1:11); and 2) a letter sent to him (7:1), possibly by the hands of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (16:17). Therefore, in answer to these reports Paul writes: TO CORRECT SINFUL PRACTICES AND REFUTE FALSE DOCTRINE THEME: 1 Corinthians 1:10 "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." BRIEF OUTLINE (adapted from Dextor Sammons) INTRODUCTION (1:1-9) I. PROBLEMS REPORTED BY THE HOUSE OF CHLOE (1:10-6:20) A. FACTIONS IN THE CHURCH (1:1-4:21) B. SEXUAL IMMORALITY (5:1-13) C. LAWSUITS AMONG BRETHREN (6:1-11) D. MORAL DEFILEMENTS (6:12-20) II. PROBLEMS MENTIONED IN THE LETTER FROM CORINTH (7:1-16:9) A. MARRIAGE & CELIBACY (7:1-40) B. EATING MEATS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS (8:1-11:1) C. WOMEN PRAYING AND PROPHESYING WITH HEADS UNCOVERED (11:2-16) D. THE LORD'S SUPPER (11:17-34) E. SPIRITUAL GIFTS (12:1-14:40) F. RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD (15:1-58) G. COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS (16:1-4) CONCLUDING REMARKS, INSTRUCTIONS, AND BENEDICTION (16:5-24) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) On which journey did the apostle Paul establish the church in Corinth? - His second journey 2) Where do we read of the establishment of the Corinthian church? - Ac 18:1-18 3) What two people did Paul first stay with in Corinth? What did they have in common? (Ac 18:1-3) - Aquila and Priscilla - Tentmakers by trade 4) Which chief ruler of the synagogue was converted? (Ac 18:8) - Crispus 5) Approximately how long did Paul stay in Corinth? (Ac 18:11) - A year and six months 6) Who did Aquila and Priscilla convert in Ephesus who later went to Corinth? (Ac 18:24-19:1) - Apollos 7) From where did Paul write this first epistle to Corinth? (16:8) - Ephesus 8) What is the approximate date of writing? - The spring of 57 A.D. 9) What two things existed in Corinth that appeared to have an adverse effect on the church? - Intellectualism - Immorality 10) What is the purpose of this epistle? - To correct sinful practices and refute false doctrine 11) Where is the theme of the epistle stated? - 1 Corinthians 1:10
The Quran and the Flood
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The Quran’s depictions of the great Flood of Noah’s day contain oddities that cause one who is familiar with the Bible to question the Quran’s reliability. For example, inSurah 11:36-40 the Quran describes Noah’s conflict with his contemporaries and, in the process, makes a puzzling remark pertaining to the condition of the Flood waters:
And it was inspired in Noah, (saying): No one of thy folk will believe save him who hath believed already. Be not distressed because of what they do. Build the ship under Our Eyes and by Our inspiration, and speak not unto Me on behalf of those who do wrong. Lo! they will be drowned. And he was building the ship, and every time that chieftains of his people passed him, they made mock of him. He said: Though ye make mock of us, yet we mock at you even as ye mock; And ye shall know to whom a punishment that will confound him cometh, and upon whom a lasting doom will fall. (Thus it was) till, when Our commandment came to pass and the oven gushed forth water (Surah 11:36-40, emp. added).
This peculiar allusion to the waters of the Flood coming from an oven is repeated in Surah23:
And We verily sent Noah unto his folk, and he said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other god save Him. Will ye not ward off (evil)? But the chieftains of his folk, who disbelieved, said: This is only a mortal like you who would make himself superior to you. Had Allah willed, He surely could have sent down angels. We heard not of this in the case of our fathers of old. He is only a man in whom is a madness, so watch him for a while. He said: My Lord! Help me because they deny me. Then We inspired in him, saying: Make the ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration. Then, when Our command cometh and the oven gusheth water, introduce therein of every (kind) two spouses, and thy household save him thereof against whom the Word hath already gone forth. And plead not with Me on behalf of those who have done wrong. Lo! they will be drowned. And when thou art on board the ship, thou and who so is with thee, then say: Praise be to Allah Who hath saved us from the wrongdoing folk! (Surah 23:23-28, emp. added).
The above renderings of the Quran are taken from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Muhammad Pickthall. In contrast to Pickthall’s rendering, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translated the phrase “the oven gusheth water” with the words “the fountains of the earth gushed forth.” Observe that these two renderings are significantly different translations of the Arabic. Ali offers the following explanation for his rendering: “Far al tannur. Two interpretations have been given: (1) the fountains or the springs on the surface of the earth bubbled over or gushed forth; or (2) the oven (of Allah’s Wrath) boiled over. The former has the weight of the best authority behind it and I prefer it” (2001, p. 520). But this “explanation” offers no rationale for accepting his preference, and it fails to provide linguistic proof to justify the preference.
In stark contrast, consider the discussion posed by Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, Sunni Pakistani Muslim scholar, revivalist leader, political philosopher, and prominent 20thcentury Islamist thinker. His ancestry on his paternal side was traced back to Muhammad. In 1974, the title of Imam-ul-Muslimeen was bestowed upon him in the annual meeting of Raabta-e-Aalam-e-Islami in Saudi Arabia (“Sayyid Abul…,” 2009). From 1942-1972, Maududi produced the Tafhim-ul-Quran (تفہيم القرآن)—a six-volume translation and explanation of the Quran. Here is a Muslim scholar, well-qualified to provide assistance in making sense of the text of the Quran. In his insightful discussion of Surah 11:40, Maududi explained:
Commentators on the Qur’an have offered different explanations of this incident. In our view, the place from which the Flood began was a particular oven. It is from beneath it that a spring of water burst forth. This was followed by both a heavy downpour and by a very large number of springs which gushed forth. Surah al-Qamar provides relevant information in some detail: So We opened the gates of the heaven, with water intermittently pouring forth, and We caused the earth to be cleaved and the springs to flow out everywhere. Then the water (from both the sources—the heaven and the earth) converged to bring about that which had been decreed (al-Qamar, 54: 11-12).
In the present verse, the word tannur has been preceded by the article al: According to Arabic grammar, this indicates that the reference is to a particulartannur (oven). Thus, it is evident that God had determined that the Flood should commence from a particular oven. As soon as the appointed moment came, and as soon as God so ordained, water burst forth from that oven. Subsequently, it became known as the Flood-Oven. The fact that God had earmarked a certain oven to serve as the starting-point of the Flood is borne out by al-Mu’minun 23:27 (n.d., endnote 42, emp. added).
In his commentary on the parallel passage in Surah 23:27, Maududi further explained:
In view of the context, we see no reason why one should take a farfetched figurative meaning of a clear word of the Qur’an. It appears that a particular oven (tannur) had been ear-marked for the deluge to start from, which was to all appearances an unexpected origin of the doom of the wretched people (n.d., endnote 29, emp. added).
Of course, the Bible makes no reference to any oven or the temperature of the Flood waters. However, Jewish legends codified in the Talmud do. Jewish rabbinical sources (Midrash Tanchuma 5; Rosh Hashanah 12a; Sanhedrin 108b; Zebahim 113b; Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10,29b; et al.) provide the basis for the Quran’s allusion:
The crowd of sinners tried to take the entrance to the ark by storm, but the wild beasts keeping watch around the ark set upon them, and many were slain, while the rest escaped, only to meet death in the waters of the flood. The water alone could not have made an end of them, for they were giants in stature and strength. When Noah threatened them with the scourge of God, they would make reply: “If the waters of the flood come from above, they will never reach up to our necks; and if they come from below, the soles of our feet are large enough to dam up the springs.” But God bade each drop pass through Gehenna before it fell to earth, and the hot rain scalded the skin of the sinners. The punishment that overtook them was befitting their crime. As their sensual desires had made them hot, and inflamed them to immoral excesses, so they were chastised by means of heated water (Ginzberg, 1909, 1:106, emp. added).
Keep in mind that these Jewish legends are just that—legends. The rabbis that formulated them recognized that their renditions were not to be confused with actual Scripture. The brand of Judaism to which the author of the Quran was exposed, like Christianity at the time, was a corrupt one. Literally centuries of legend, myth, and fanciful folklore had accumulated among the Jews, reported in the Talmud, the Midrash, and the Targumim. These three Jewish sources were replete with rabbinical commentary and speculation—admitted to be uninspired. These tales and fables would have existed in Arabia in oral form as they were told and retold at Bedouin campfires, among the traveling trade caravans that crisscrossed the desert, and in the towns, villages, and centers of social interaction from Yemen in the southern Arabian Peninsula, to Abyssinia to the west, and Palestine, Syria, and Persia to the north. The allegedly hot waters of the Flood are one example among many of the Quran’s reliance on uninspired Jewish sources. Indeed, the Quran is literally riddled with such allusions. The evidence that the Quran contains a considerable amount of borrowed material from uninspired Talmudic sources, rabbinical oral traditions, and Jewish legends—stories that abound in puerile, apocryphal, absurd, outlandish pablum—is self-evident and unmistakable. [For more discussion on this point, see Miller, 2005, pp. 73ff.]
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (2001), The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Beltsville, MD: Amana Productions), tenth edition.
Ginzberg, Louis (1909), The Legends of the Jews (Charleston, SC: Forgotten Books, 2008 reprint).
Maududi, Sayyid Abul Ala (no date), Tafhim al-Qur’an (The Meaning of the Qur’an), englishtafsir.com.
Miller, Dave (2005), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
“Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi” (2009), English Islam Times, May 16, http://www.islamtimes.org/vdca.onyk49nomgt14.html.
Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired?
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
There are sixty-six books commonly accepted as Scripture—the divinely inspired Word of God. Origen (c. 185-254), a prolific early Christian writer, noted a commonly accepted list of 27 New Testament books, indicating that by the second or third century, the New Testament canon was established (McGarvey, 1974, 1:66). There are many other books, beside the New Testament canon, that are considered inspired by some scholars, but not all (A.P. Staff, 2003, p. 1). The Bible is complete as it is, sufficient for the spiritual needs of Christians (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Luke 21:33; John 12:48).
Critics of the Bible would like nothing better than to show that God’s Word is a tangled web of contradictions, inconsistencies, and untruths. To that end, many critics have attempted to chip away at the credibility of Scripture by showing that it simply is impossible to determine what material is Scripture and what material is not. They have alleged that the biblical writers themselves accepted extrabiblical sources as inspired Scripture. One instance of a biblical writer allegedly treating noncanonical material as authoritative is in Jude 9. “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ”
Aside from Jude 9, there is no biblical record of any “contention” or meeting between the devil and Michael the archangel. Many scholars, based on the writings of Clement, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, and Didymus (Guthrie, 1962, p. 918; Earle, Blaney, and Hanson, 1955, p. 411), assume that Jude 9 is a reference to an apocryphal book called The Assumption of Moses, a work that is extant only in fragmental form (in Latin and in a translation from Greek). The fragment now known as The Assumption of Moses presents the account of Moses’ appointing of Joshua as his successor, and a description of the future of Israel during the conquest of the Promised Land. According to Richard Lenksi, scholars believe that the missing portion of The Assumption included “an elaboration” of Deuteronomy 34:5, the biblical account of Moses’ death, showing how God used angels to bury Moses (1966, pp. 601-602). It is thought that The Assumption of Moses, at this point, used Zechariah 3:1-2 as its basis for the use of the phrase “The Lord rebuke you!” It has not been proven, however, that Jude intended to quote from The Assumption of Moses.
If Jude intended to reference it, it cannot be determined that Jude actually quoted the apocryphal book, because the material Jude allegedly quoted does not exist. If The Assumption of Moses did indeed contain material about Moses’ burial, then Jude independently wrote the same thing that the writer of The Assumption wrote. Thus, Jude confirmed that this particular portion of The Assumption is historical. That is very different from stating that any portion of The Assumption was inspired. It may be that Jude simply intended to reference an oral tradition (which was true) that became the basis for The Assumption (Guthrie, 1962, p. 918).
Jude is the only New Testament book that seems to include a direct citation of a Jewish apocryphal work, which is, in this case, The Book of Enoch (Guthrie, p. 917). The apparent reference to Enoch’s prophecy is in Jude 14-15. An example of the kind of criticism that comes against Jude 14-15 is that of Carroll D. Osburn, a distinguished professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University. Dr. Osborn argued in his bookPeaceable Kingdom (1993, p. 94) that Jude should not be included in the New Testament canon because, among other reasons, Jude 14-15 discusses an event that also is recorded in The Book of Enoch. Enoch’s book apparently has more than one author, but scholars differ on which author wrote which portions, and it is uncertain when each portion was written. According to Sir Frederic Kenyon, former director and principal librarian of the British Museum, The Book of Enoch is pre-Christian, and parts of it are probably pre-Maccabean (1949, p. 246). However, there is no positive proof that The Book of Enoch existed as early as the time of Jude (Barnes, 1949, p. 400), or that it can even be traced back as far as the third century (Woods, 1962, p. 399). It is thought to have been written in Palestine. David Childress gave an overview of the history of The Book of Enoch:
The apocryphal Book of Enoch the Prophet was first discovered in Abyssinia in the year 1773 by a Scottish explorer named James Bruce. Bruce, a sort of 18thCentury Indiana Jones, may have seen the Ark of the Covenant at Axum (or its copy, as we surmise), and was able to obtain the ancient Coptic Christian text, approximately 2,000 years old. In 1821 The Book of Enoch was translated by Richard Laurence and published in a number of successive editions, culminating in the 1883 edition (2000, p. 328).
James C. VanderKam, in his book, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition, claimed that Jude (in verses 14-15) quoted 1 Enoch 1:9 (1984, p. 110), and at first glance, that appears to be a correct assessment. First, consider Jude 14-15:
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Now notice the wording of 1 Enoch 1:9:
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Several points should be considered about Jude’s citation of Enoch’s prophecy. Because it is so difficult to date the origin of The Book of Enoch, and because numerous portions of the book suggest that the writer was influenced heavily by the New Testament, Guy N. Woods, commentating on Jude, wrote:
There are sharp variations between the statement allegedly cited by Jude and the actual statement as it appears in Jude. There is more reason for supposing that the book of Jude is older than this so-called “Book of Enoch” and that the author quoted from Jude rather than Jude from him! In the same fashion that Peter knew that Noah was a preacher, that Lot was vexed in Sodom, and that Paul knew the names of the Egyptian magicians; Jude learned of Enoch’s prophecy—by inspiration (1962, p. 399).
Let us assume, for the sake of our study, that The Book of Enoch existed at the time that Jude wrote, and that Jude really was referencing it. Simply because Jude knew of Enoch’s prophecy and approved it, does not necessarily imply that Jude certified the entire collection of Enoch’s writings as inspired of God. The Greek word translated “prophesied” in Jude 14 is propheteuo, a word that is used on only one occasion in the New Testament (Matthew 15:7) for a citation of an Old Testament passage (Isaiah 29). The cognate Greek noun prophetes, which relates to the verb propheteuo, was used by Paul to refer to a heathen poet (Titus 1:12). There is no evidence, then, that Jude referred to Enoch’s prophecy as an inspired work. Why, then, did Jude mention The Book of Enoch? He recognized that the prophecy of Enoch had turned out to be a true prophecy. Jude never gave indication of what he thought of the remainder of The Book of Enoch.
Many times in Scripture, inspired writers use other sources of information; sometimes these sources are inspired, and sometimes they are not. For an example, one occasion when an inspired writer used an uninspired source is in 1 Corinthians 10:4, where Paul apparently made a reference to Jewish legend to support his own inspired interpretation of Israel’s wilderness wanderings (Lenski, 1937, pp. 392-393). On other occasions (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12-13), Paul quoted from pagan poets to support his own assertions, and even told his audiences that the specific portions of the pagan writings he referenced were accurate. Did Paul claim that these extrabiblical materials were inspired? Certainly not. Paul used supporting materials that would have been meaningful to his audiences. The noncanonical works that were cited by New Testament authors were highly respected. The fact that Paul used noncanonical sources to add an extra dimension to his message should not motivate us to regard any of Paul’s writings as inferior, or to totally disregard them. The same is true in the case of Jude’s epistle.
Further, Jude did not necessarily imply that Enoch saw into the future to predict attitudes or actions of the sinners under consideration in the epistle. All that is necessarily implied in Jude 14-15 is that Enoch’s prediction happened to be descriptive of the men about whom Jude wrote (Barnes, 1949, p. 399).
We probably will never be sure when (or if) Jude received information from earthly sources about Enoch’s writing or The Assumption of Moses. Perhaps Jude heard about it from traditional sources or from the books themselves, but this does not alter the fact that Jude was inspired of God. It is possible that the Holy Spirit, as He inspired Jude, certified that one particular portion of The Book of Enoch is correct, though not inspired. It is altogether certain, however, that despite critics’ allegations, the Bible continues to stand firm as the sole message from the Creator—always accurate and dependable.
Barnes, Albert (1949), Barnes’ Notes—James, Peter, John, and Jude (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1978 reprint).
Childress, David Hatcher (2000), Technology of the Gods: The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited).
Earle, Ralph, Harvey J.S. Blaney, and Carl Hanson (1955), Exploring the New Testament, ed. Ralph Earle (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press).
Guthrie, Donald (1962), Introduction to the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1970 reprint), third revised edition.
Kenyon, Frederic (1949), The Bible and Archaeology (Britain: Harper and Brothers).
Lenski, Richard C. H. (1937), The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lenski, Richard C. H. (1966), The Interpretation of I and II Peter, the Three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McGarvey, J.W. (1974), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Osburn, Caroll D. (1993), The Peaceable Kingdom (Abilene, TX: Restoration Perspectives).
A.P. Staff (2003), “The Canon and Extra-Canonical Writings,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1972.
VanderKam, James C. (1984), Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition(Washington, The Catholic Biblical Association of America).
Woods, Guy N. (1962), A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Biological Clocks: Evidence for a Clockmaker
|by||Will Brooks, Ph.D.|
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by A.P. staff scientist Will Brooks, who holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.]
If one were to ask a clockmaker, “Could this device have constructed itself?” the reply would most certainly be “No.” Clocks are complex instruments designed to accurately and repeatedly keep time to the millisecond. The complexity reaches all the way down to the system of gears and shafts which drive the instrument. It would be inconceivable even to consider the idea that such an instrument would evolve naturalistically over time, eventually reaching a point when it is ready to keep accurate time without missing a single second. Yet, this is exactly what evolutionists would have us to believe regarding an even more complex instrument, the cell division cycle—our own biological clock. [NOTE: The following discussion of cell division is based on Alberts, et al., 2002.]
The cell division cycle is a coordinated sequence of events that drives the division and reproduction of all cells from the single-celled amoeba to cells in the human body. The complexity and coordination of this cycle is staggering. The cell cycle is divided into four primary phases: G1, S, G2, and M.
G1, or the Gap 1 phase, is the time in which cells carry out all of the normal processes of the cell. Some cells remain in this phase for very long periods of time. But, when appropriate stimuli are encountered by a cell, a round of cell division is triggered. This point of no return is known as the restriction point. Once a cell passes this point, it must complete the entire cell cycle and return once more to G1. After a cell reproduces, it must prepare for the next phase of the cell cycle: S-phase or DNA synthesis phase. This preparation requires activating countless genes and making many new proteins that are used only during this one phase of the cell cycle. Once every component is ready, S-phase may begin.
During the DNA synthesis phase, the cell must make an exact copy of its nuclear DNA. This duplication is important because both new cells that will result from cell division must contain equal and identical copies of the parental cell DNA. One human cell contains roughly four billion base pairs of DNA. Copying all of this DNA without error is no small task, yet the cell does so incessantly.
Following completion of DNA synthesis, the cell enters the second gap phase, G2. During this period, the cell prepares for physical division, which involves the production of a whole new set of proteins. At the same time, all those proteins used during S-phase are degraded, since they are no longer needed, and their presence would only promote more DNA synthesis. After all the proper proteins are made and degraded, the cell is ready for physical separation, which takes place during mitosis or M-phase.
Mitosis involves the separation of chromosomes, followed by the separation of the cell. Human cells have 46 pairs of chromosomes when they enter mitosis. Each pair must be separated in the appropriate way in order for each daughter cell to have two copies of the 23 human chromosomes. Once again, this is no small feat. Even one mistake leads to abnormal chromosome numbers in the daughter cells and is harmful—often lethal—to the cell. Yet, the cell achieves this separation without error over and over. At the conclusion of mitosis, two cells result, each identical to the other. Both cells are now once more in G1-phase, able to enter another round of cell division. This cycle is repeated time after time, like clockwork.
In a physical clock or watch, a system of gears and shafts are designed to keep the clock moving, keeping precise, accurate time. What are the driving forces, the gears and shafts if you will, of the cell division cycle? Our cells have their own mechanism for keeping things moving. Two families of proteins lie at the heart of cell cycle progression. They are called cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks). These two groups of proteins work in a cooperative manner to promote each action that takes place during the cell cycle. How they work to keep the biological clock ticking is amazing!
Cyclin-dependent kinases function as enzymes, with the ability to link a small phosphate group (-PO4-3) onto a variety of proteins. This linkage serves as an “on” switch for the targeted protein. By phosphorylating (linking a phosphate) to proteins in the cell, Cdks work to turn on and off other proteins that play roles in the cell cycle. But, Cdks themselves need an “on switch,” which comes from the cyclin proteins. Cyclins are able to bind to cyclin-dependent kinases in order to form a stable protein complex between the two. Once bound together, Cdks are free to phosphorylate their repertoire of targets to promote all the activities of the cell cycle.
It might seem, then, that all cyclins and Cdks are active all of the time and throughout the cell cycle, but they are not. This is where the clockwork activity of the cell is truly seen. During each phase of the cell cycle (G1, S, G2, and M), a different set of cyclin and Cdk proteins are active. Therefore, each pair of proteins is able to promote only those activities which should occur during a phase. For example, during the DNA synthesis phase (S-phase), only those proteins that play a role in making new DNA are activated. This action prevents the phases from occurring out of order or at the wrong time. But, how is only one pair of cyclin-Cdk proteins active at a time? The answer comes in the form of another cyclical event.
Unlike the Cdk proteins, which are always present in the cell, cyclin proteins come and go in a cyclical manner—which accounts for the name cyclin. Production of these proteins is coordinated with the cell cycle phases. When a cell receives signals to undergo division, the G1-cyclins are expressed by the cell. They then partner with G1-Cdks, which already are present to promote those G1 activities of the cell. Additionally, G1 cyclin-Cdks initiate expression of the next group of cyclins—the S-phase cyclins. Once expressed, S-phase cyclin-Cdk partners promote activities of S-phase and turn on the G2-cyclins. This cycle continues for each phase of the cell cycle. Figure 2 illustrates this feature by showing the levels of S-phase cyclin throughout the cell cycle.
This amazing process of cyclin expression is also coupled with cyclin destruction. Once a new cyclin is present in the cell, the previous cyclin is destroyed, which effectively ends the previous cell cycle phase. This constant repetition of cyclin protein production and destruction is the driving force behind every event in the cell division cycle.
Together, the cell cycle and the cycle of cyclin protein production/destruction are an amazingly designed system of events. Such complexity is inexplicable on the basis of naturalism. In this case, the clockmaker is the intelligent Designer, God. It would be impossible for a six-foot-tall grandfather clock or even a small watch to construct itself gradually and start ticking. Equally impossible, the cell could never appear, ready to “tick” through the highly coordinated process of cell division. Just as clocks are constructed by an intelligent designer, the cell cycle is clear evidence for intelligent design in the Universe.
Alberts, Bruce, et al. (2002), Molecular Biology of the Cell (Oxford: Garland Science).
Can a Person Live in Adultery?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Confusion exists in the mind of some concerning the status of those who commit the sin of adultery. It is generally recognized that a couple becomes guilty of adultery when they form a sexual relationship in violation of Christ’s teaching in Matthew 19:9. But what is a church to do when one or both of those marriage partners present themselves for church membership, expressing their regret for their sin, but their intention to continue their relationship? Some argue that the couple can be forgiven, if they say they are sorry, on the grounds that people cannot live in adultery. They were guilty of committing adultery when they first came together, but they cannot be guilty of living (in an ongoing state) in adultery, and so may continue their marriage without being guilty of further sin.
Meanwhile, the church tends to shy away from dealing with the matter, permitting the couple fellowship but, amid vague feelings of uncertainty, keeping them at arm’s length. In the midst of this inconsistency, the church unwittingly brings itself under the same indictment leveled at the churches in Pergamum (Revelation 2:14) and Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-22) for their unholy “tolerance.” We must permit God’s words to give us guidance rather than be influenced by our human inclinations, sympathies, or emotions. God’s Word speaks very clearly to this matter.
It is true that sin may be viewed as the practice of isolated acts that are contrary to God’s will. But it does not follow that individuals cannot live in sin. A “liar” is one who is involved in separate acts of lying. What makes him a liar, and therefore guilty of living a life of lying, is his refusal to cease telling lies. A person is a “murderer” if he has killed one or more persons and continues to entertain the possibility of repeating such behavior. A person is an “adulterer” because he has formed a sexual relationship which violates God’s law and refuses to cease that illicit relationship. Simply saying he is sorry for the existence of this adulterous union will not and cannot alter what, in God’s sight, is “not lawful” (Matthew 14:4). As long as that marriage is continued, the parties involved are adulterers (Romans 7:3). Only by terminating that relationship can the parties involved put an end to their adultery. Otherwise, they “continue to commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9—the present tense continuous action), “live in fornication” (Colossians 3:5-7), and “live in [sin]” (Romans 6:2). When Paul reminded Christians at Corinth of their conversion day, he noted that some had previously been fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Who could possibly doubt the fact that their salvation would have been impossible unless these sexual unions were terminated? Indeed, how could they “that are dead to sin, live any longer therein” (Romans 6:2)?
Jesus: Truly God and Truly Human
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
One day Jesus asked His friends, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). They gave a variety of answers: “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (vs. 14). Different people saw different things in Jesus. Herod heard about the miracles Jesus was performing and decided that He must be John the Baptist (whom he beheaded) raised from the dead (Mark 6:14). Others saw something in Jesus’ disposition that led them to believe He was the incarnation of the prophet Jeremiah (maybe they had seen Jesus weep and remembered how Jeremiah wept over the fall of Jerusalem). Still others had seen enough of Jesus to conclude He was the embodiment of one of the ancient prophets, although they were not sure which. This variety of answers reflects a level of confusion that seems surprising to us 2,000 years later. After all, they had the living, breathing, human person of Jesus to behold, and yet they still were confused. In the decades and centuries since, that confusion has not abated. A plethora of Christologies has been devised. Although there is great variety among them, generally they fall into three main categories: (1) Jesus was truly human, but not truly God; (2) Jesus was truly God, but not truly human; and (3) Jesus was both truly human and truly God.
In the second century, groups arose in the church that championed the first two categories. On the one hand, the Ebionites taught that Jesus was only a man who became the Christ by His perfect observance of the Law of Moses. On the other hand, the Docetics taught that Jesus was truly God in the flesh, but not really a human being; He only “seemed” to be a man. Both positions were opposed by the early church because neither was in agreement with the New Testament. The Ebionite heresy contradicted passages like John 1:1-14 and John 20:28, which emphasize the deity of Jesus. The Docetics’ position contradicted passages like Hebrews 4:15 and 1 John 1:1-3, which emphasize the humanity of Jesus.
Although these positions were rejected as heresies, they did not die completely. Nor did their rejection result in complete unanimity of opinion about the identity of Jesus. Confusion over how Jesus could be truly God and truly human at the same time persisted. The Catholic Church struggled with this question, which subsequently became the focus of some of its Ecumenical Councils. In A.D. 325 the Council of Nicea issued its creed, which stated:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended to heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead... (Percival, 1899, p. 3).
So, it was the Council’s conviction that Jesus was both “very God” and “made man.” But how can the same person be both God and man? Nicea had not adequately answered this. It remained to be addressed by the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451). The 150 members of the Council declared that Jesus was one person with two natures.
...we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that he is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood.... This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union... (Percival, 1899, pp. 264-265).
It is significant to note that the Council chose to clarify the meaning of the two natures in negative terms. In a sense, they, “put up four fences (without confusion, without change, without division, without separation) and said: The mystery lies within this area” (Runia, 1984, pp. 12-13). Although this confession did not really answer the question as to how Jesus could have both natures at the same time, it respected both aspects of Jesus’ identity and stood as the fundamental statement of Christology for Catholics and Protestants alike for many centuries.
THE IMPACT OF SKEPTICISM
With the rise of skepticism and deism, this ancient creed came under fire. Beginning with Hermann S. Reimarus (1694-1768), scholars began to suggest that the “historical Jesus” was a very different person from the “Christ of faith” described in the Gospels (and subsequent human creeds). Reimarus made a “sharp distinction between the intention of Jesus during his life and the intention of his disciples after his death” (see Borg, 1994, p. 42). Reimarus believed that Jesus’ intentions (rebellion against Rome) were thwarted by His death and that the disciples invented the resurrection story and deified their Teacher as a way of keeping His movement alive.
Liberal scholarship of the last 200 years has largely adopted as paradigmatic this distinction between the “historical Jesus” and the “Christ of Christian faith.” The claim is that the historical Jesus may be discovered in a fragmentary way by subjecting the Gospels to the rigors of the historical-critical method (see Brantley, 1994). The Christ of the Christian faith is the version of Jesus presented by the New Testament writers and the confessions of Christendom. Much of the recent discussion in Christology, then, centers on whether one should shape one’s understanding of Jesus by the Christ of faith or the Jesus of history.
Often, liberal scholars begin with the Jesus of history and move from there to decide what of the Christ of faith is worthy of belief (e.g., Edward Schillebeeckx, Piet Schoonenberg, Hans Kung, John A.T. Robinson, et al.). Typically the answer is, “not much.” This is also the presupposition behind the work of the Jesus Seminar (see Bromling, 1994), as well as works from a variety of authors (Marcus Borg, Barbara Thiering, Geza Vermes, John Dominic Crossan, et al.). A.N. Wilson’s popular book, Jesus: A Life, is typical. In it, he opened with this line: “The Jesus of history and the Christ of Faith are two separate beings, with very different stories” (1992, p. vii). Wilson rejected the latter, and wrote an entire book describing the former. His historical Jesus, however, “is a pale and distorted version of the real thing” (Wright, 1992, p. 63). Wilson described the Jesus of history as “the great apocalyptic prophet, the visionary teacher, the widely popular healer and exorcist” Whose life was a “total failure” and Whose “mission, whatever its original purpose may have been, ended on the Cross” (Wright, 1992, pp. 167-168). Wilson contended that Jesus never would have approved of Christianity; on the contrary, had Jesus known what would be done in His name, He probably would have wished He never had been born (pp. 255-256).
By way of summary, two hundred years of liberal scholastic inquiry into the question of the identity of Jesus have resulted, essentially, in a revival of the Ebionite heresy. The new portraits depict a Jesus Who is no more than a man and Who was nothing like the Christ preached by Paul and worshipped for nearly two millennia by faithful Christians. This is the price one pays for rejecting the verbal inspiration of Scripture.
COMING TO PETER’S CONCLUSION
Returning to Caesarea, however, we hear Jesus ask a second (and more personal) question: “But, who do you say that I am?” To this Peter boldly replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16). In this one confession, Peter expressed two aspects of His Master’s identity. First, he said Jesus was the Messiah predicted by the ancient Jewish prophets (“Christ” is the Greek word for Messiah, meaning “anointed” by God). Second, he said Jesus possessed the divine nature. “Son of ” was the idiomatic way of saying that a person possessed the nature or traits of another person or thing. For instance, because Joses was an encouragement to others, the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). So, when Peter said Jesus was the “Son of God,” he was saying that Jesus had the very same nature as God. That was a powerful statement. Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God resulted in His death (John 5:18; Matthew 26:63-65). And it was upon this fundamental confession of the unique God/man nature of Jesus that the church was built (Matthew 16:18).
What led Peter to make that confession? The answer is found in Jesus’ reply: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is heaven” (vs. 17). Peter’s view of Jesus was based upon information provided by God, rather than upon the uncertain ideas of people. That information came to Peter in the form of Old Testament prophesies that he was beginning to see fulfilled in Jesus, and that were being confirmed by the miracles Jesus was performing. The same information has been preserved for all ages in the four Gospels, and will lead us to the same conclusion if we give it a fair hearing.
Unlike most people who have their biographies written after they are dead, much of Jesus’ life was reported hundreds of years before He was born. Over three hundred prophecies relating to the Lord were made in the Old Testament (Lockyer, 1973, p. 21). This number is astounding in itself. From Genesis to Malachi, the story of Jesus is foretold in minute detail (see Luke 24:27). Not only are the major facets of His life predicted, but seemingly trivial things (such as that men would gamble for His clothing—Psalm 22:18) also are foretold by the prophets. His family lineage and birthplace were predicted (cf. Genesis 21:12; Galatians 3:16; Matthew 1:1; 2:1; Micah 5:2). He died and was raised—exactly as had been predicted hundreds of years before (Isaiah 53; Psalm 16:8-11). By the word of prophecy He even was called Jehovah—the special name reserved only for God (Isaiah 40:3). The fulfillment of these prophecies by Jesus of Nazareth is powerful evidence that He was exactly Who Peter claimed He was.
In addition, it is important to recall that Jesus backed up His claims by working miracles. Although God empowered other people to perform miracles, Jesus’ miracles were different. Their works confirmed that they were servants of God; Jesus’ works proved He was one with God (John 10:37-38). The Gospel of John records several of those amazing works. John tells us why: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
While imprisoned, John sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). Jesus responded: “Go tell John...the blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached unto them” (Matthew 11:4-5). Over seven hundred years earlier, the prophet Isaiah predicted that those very things would be done by the Messiah (see Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1). Jesus wasn’t merely saying, “Look at all the good things I am doing.” He was saying, “Look, I am doing exactly what the Coming One is supposed to do!”
Although not eager to admit it, Jesus’ critics were often brought face-to-face with the truth that no one could do what He did unless God was with Him (John 3:2). One example of this is seen in John 9, where it is recorded that Jesus gave sight to a man who had been born blind. Some of Christ’s enemies tried to deny that a miracle had occurred, but they were unsuccessful. Then they tried to draw attention away from the miracle by attacking Jesus’ character. They said to the man whom Jesus healed: “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner” (John 9:24). This plan did not succeed either. Notice how the man answered them:
Why this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God hears not sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears Him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing (John 9:30-33).
His point was the very thing the Pharisees were unwilling to accept—Jesus’ miraculous works supported His claim to be the Son of God! It is not surprising, then, that the man accepted Jesus as his Lord.
Just as He promised, Jesus came forth from the tomb three days after His brutal crucifixion (Matthew 16:21; 27:63; 28:1-8). That He had been raised from the dead was witnessed by many different types of people: the soldiers who guarded His tomb; the women who came early in the morning to anoint Him with spices; eleven apostles; and more than 500 other witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:4-8). Seeing the living, breathing Jesus again was concrete proof that He was all He claimed to be. Little wonder, then, that when Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus he exclaimed: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Christ’s resurrection was the central point of Peter and Paul’s preaching (see Acts 2:23-36; 3:15; 17:31; etc.). The reason is obvious—it was by the resurrection that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4).
The evidence for the deity of Christ is both sufficient and compelling. There is a temptation, however, to emphasize the Lord’s deity to the exclusion of His humanity. In a sense, the modern church can become guilty of practical Doceticism. In other words, Christians can become so focused upon establishing that Jesus is the Son of God that they fail to acknowledge that He also is the Son of Man. Yet, time and again Jesus applied that term to Himself (e.g., Matthew 1:20; 9:6; et al.). As a human, He learned (Hebrews 5:8), became hungry (Matthew 4:2), experienced thirst (John 19:28), grew tired (John 4:6), and slept (Matthew 8:24). He felt anger (Mark 3:5), frustration (Mark 9:19), joy (John 15:11), and sadness (John 11:35). He was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), and significantly, He was able to die (Mark 15:44). These human traits are as important to our understanding of the person of Jesus as are the traits He shared with deity.
Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Clearly, He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. Like the ancient creeds tried to explain, Jesus is both truly God and truly human. We must avoid not only the error of the ancient Ebionites and modern liberals of seeing Jesus as merely a man, but we also must be on guard against the Docetic over-emphasis of Jesus’ deity. How can one person be both truly God and truly human? This is something we have not been called to understand fully—only to confess confidently.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-3,14).
Borg, Marcus (1994), “Profiles in Scholarly Courage: Early Days of New Testament Criticism,” Bible Review, 10:40-45, October.
Brantley, Garry K. (1994), “Biblical Miracles: Fact or Fiction?,” Reason & Revelation, 14:33-38, May.
Bromling, Brad T. (1994), “A Look at the Jesus Seminar,” Reason & Revelation, 14:81-87, November.
Lockyer, Herbert (1973), All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Percival, Henry R., ed. (1899), “The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church,” in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973 reprint).
Runia, Klaas (1984) The Present-Day Christological Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Wilson, A.N. (1992), Jesus: A Life (New York: Fawcett Columbine).
Wright, N.T. (1992), Who Was Jesus? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).