Covenant by Allan Turner


by Allan Turner
The concept of covenant is significant in business, social, political, and religious relations. According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, "covenant" is "1: a formal, solemn, and binding agreement: Compact 2a: a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action." A covenant then is a binding agreement between individuals or groups of individuals. This is the meaning of the word as it was used in the case of Isaac and Abimelech (Genesis 26:28ff.), and Laben and Jacob (Genesis 31:44). The main object of such early agreements was the promotion of peace. In fact, the Scriptures refer to just such cases as "covenant[s] of peace" (Numbers 25:12; Isaiah 54:10). The word "covenant," as it developed, actually became equivalent to peace. Convesely, a "broken covenant" symbolized war (I Kings 15: 19).
Although covenants were made for mutual support and protection (II Samuel 3:12, 13), the fulfillment of common obligations to third parties (II Kings 11:17), and even in submission to a superior enemy, which obligated both parties (I Samuel 11:1; I Kings 20:34), it is the covenant between kings and their subjects that we wish to give special attention in this study. Duties, obligations, or services required of subjects by a sovereign were the special concern of a covenant called "a suzurainity." Understanding this is the key to understanding the use of the word covenant in the Bible. The suzurainity addresses the relationship between God and His people.
Religion And Covenant
"Religion" literally means the bond that unites man to God. This is exactly the biblical concept. Religion is constantly represented as the observance of a covenant with God (Deuteronomy 29:12; Jeremiah 31:1,31,33). Those in a covenant relationship with God are described as being at peace with Him. Those who are not in a covenant relationship with God are portrayed as being at war with Him. As long as the Jews practiced true religion under the covenant made at Sinai, they were to receive the blessings of God, but if they broke it they were to be cursed (Deuteronomy 11:28-32; 30:10,15,19).
Breaking Covenant
Although the covenant Jehovah made with Israel was described as "perpetual" and "everlasting," we understand these adjectives to be representative of what could have been. As long as the conditions of the covenant were met, the covenant would be in force. The covenant's perpetualness or everlastingness could only be destroyed by a breach of the covenant. Historically, the everlasting covenant Jehovah made with Israel was broken. Because we already know the integrity of God would not allow Him to violate His part of the covenant, we realize it must have been broken by Israel (Deuteronomy 31:16,17,20; Isaiah 24:5,6). In Hebrews 8:7 & 8, the Hebrew writer wrote: "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them [God said he would make a new covenant]." By breaking the everlasting covenant, Israel declared itself to be at war with God. The fact that He continued to honor His end of the covenant, as much as He could under the hostile conditions that existed under the violated covenant, is only indicative of His integrity. Israel rejected the sovereignty of God and had to pay the penalty for being at war with Him. The destruction of the Jewish nation was not a pretty sight, but it was a fate that nation had brought upon itself by breaking the covenant and declaring war on God.
A New Covenant
In the midst of the hostilities between Israel and God, the Lord announced His plans for a "new covenant" (Jeremiah 31:31-34). As a manifestation of His great love, this new covenant was to be an even better covenant" with "better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). To insure its success, the mediator of this covenant would be none other than the Son of God Himself. In the end, no mediator ever gave more to insure any treaty (Romans 5:6-10). It was through this new covenant that those of us who where alienated and enemies could be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:21-23). But notice that even under this new covenant there were conditions that had to be met. We can continue to be reconciled by this new covenant so long as we "continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel" (verse 23). Under this new covenant, we can never fall from grace or the promised blessings of God if we add to our faith certain prescribed things (II Peter 1:10). Under this new covenant, we will continue to be cleansed by the blood of Christ if we continue walking in the light (I John 1:7). This walking in the light is conditioned upon our confessing our sins (I John 1:9). We must never forget the conditions of this "peace" that now exists between God and His people through the New Testament or Covenant.
A Sealed Covenant
It was, and still is, the practice of sovereigns to place their seal upon a written covenant or treaty. In addition, parties of a covenant were often required to provide something of value to prove their sincerity. This "proof" was called the "earnest." As we are the "epistle[s] of Christ" (II Corinthians 3:3), it should not surprise us that the Holy Spirit is given to each Christian (cf. Acts 5:32; Galatians 4:6) as a seal or earnest of God's willingness to carry out His part of the covenant (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). Some have erroneously thought that because we are sealed it is impossible for us to be eternally lost. This is the same idea Israel had under the Old Covenant (Isaiah 59:1-2). They had fallen from God's grace and instead of blaming themselves, they wanted to blame God. This is exactly analogous to those who preach "once saved, always saved" today. Instead of placing the blame for "falling from grace" on themselves, they want to blame it on God. These people need to understand that although God gave His Spirit to Saul (I Samuel 10:10), when Saul disobeyed Him, God took His Spirit back (I Samuel 28:15,16).
As we walk circumspectly in this New Covenant today, let us not forget that if we are to continue to be at peace with God, then there are conditions to be met.

"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Chapter Three by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                             Chapter Three


1) To reflect upon the Preacher's observations gleaned from his search
   for the purpose of life under the sun

2) To understand why God's ways are sometimes inexplicable, and why
   injustice along with wickedness are allowed to exist

3) To be reminded as to what is best for man to do in life under the


In the first two chapters, the Preacher described the extent of his 
search for the purpose of life under the sun.  In this chapter, and the
three to follow, he shares observations gleaned during the course of
his search.

In a well-known passage, we are told that to everything there is a
season, a time for every purpose under heaven.  The Preacher has seen
that God has given man the task to seek out God's purpose by putting 
eternity in man's heart.  But then he also saw that no one is able to
find out what God does from beginning to end, and no one can change
what He decides to do.  Why does God act this way?  Why are His
purposes often incomprehensible?  The Preacher offers that God does
this so man might fear before Him, seeing that God will require an 
account for what is done.  This prompts the Preacher to state again 
(cf. 2:24-26) what he believes is the best one can do:  to rejoice, do
good, to eat and drink, enjoying the good in their labor.  This he
concludes is the gift of God (1-15).

Next he describes what he saw "under the sun".  In places were there
should have been judgment and righteousness, he saw wickedness and 
iniquity!  Why does God allow it?  He reasoned in his heart that God 
will judge the righteous and wicked, and that there must be a time for
every purpose and for every work.  He told himself that God tests men,
to help them see that they are little different from beasts.  Both man 
and beasts die, and both return to the dust.  From a purely earthly 
perspective, there is no advantage of man over beasts, for one cannot 
see whether the spirit of man goes upward (but cf. 12:7) while the
spirit of animals goes downward to the earth.  This led him to the 
perception stated once again (cf. 2:24-26; 3:12-13), that it is best
for a man to rejoice in his works.  This is man's heritage, for who can
bring one (back) to see what will happen (on the earth) after him 



      1. To everything there is a season
      2. A time for every purpose under heaven
         a. A time to be born, and a time to die
         b. A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted
         c. A time to kill, and a time to heal
         d. A time to break down, and a time to build up
         e. A time to weep, and a time to laugh
         f. A time to mourn, and a time to dance
         g. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones
         h. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing
         i. A time to gain, and a time to lose
         j. A time to keep, and a time to throw away
         k. A time to tear, and a time to sew
         l. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak
         m. A time to love, and a time to hate
         n. A time of war, and a time of peace

      1. God has put it in man to seek out what he cannot find
         a. Again, the Preacher asks what profit there is in one's
         b. He sees that God has:
            1) Given man the task with which to be occupied
            2) Made everything beautiful in its time
            3) Put eternity in man's heart
         c. Yet no one can find the work that God does from beginning
            to end
      2. What the Preacher concludes is best for people to do
         a. Rejoice, and do good in their lives
         b. Eat, drink, and enjoy the good of all their labor
         c. It is the gift of God (cf. 2:24-26)
      3. What the Preacher offers as God's reason for the way He works
         a. He knows that what God does, man cannot change
         b. God acts the way He does, that men should fear before Him
         c. For God requires an account of what is past (done)


      1. In the place of judgment, there was wickedness
      2. In the place of righteousness, there was iniquity

      1. God will judge the righteous and the wicked
      2. There must be a time for every purpose and for every work
      3. God evidently allows injustice to test the hearts of men
         a. That they may see that they are like beasts
         b. That what happens to beasts will happen to them
            1) As one dies, so dies the other
            2) Man has no advantage over beasts
            3) All return to the dust
         c. Who knows that the spirit of man goes upward, and the
            spirit of the beast goes downward?

      1. There is nothing better than rejoicing in one's own works,
         which is his heritage
      2. For who can bring man to see what will happen after him?


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The inexplicable purpose of God (1-15)
   - The injustice and wickedness of men (16-22)

2) What does the preacher say about everything under heaven? (1)
   - There is a season, a time for every purpose

3) List some examples of how he illustrates "a time for every purpose"
   - A time to be born, and a time to die
   - A time to weep, and a time to laugh
   - A time to keep silence, and a time to speak
   - A time of war, and a time of peace

4) What question does the Preacher restate? (9, cf. 1:3)
   - What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?

5) What four things has he seen? (10-11)
   - The God-given task with which the sons of mean are to be occupied
     (cf. 1:13)
   - God has made everything beautiful in its time
   - God has put eternity in man's heart
   - No one can find out the work God has done from beginning to end

6) What does the Preacher conclude is best for people to do?   Why?
   - Rejoice, and do good in their lives
   - Eat, drink, and enjoy the good of all their labor
   - It is the gift of God (cf. 2:24-26)

7) Why has God made what He does unchangeable? (14)
   - That men should fear before Him

8) What will God require? (15)
   - An account of what is past

9) As the Preacher looked in places where there should have been
   judgment and righteousness, what did he see? (16)
   - Wickedness and iniquity

10) What did he reason in his heart about this? (17)
   - God shall judge the righteous and the wicked
   - There shall be a time for every purpose and for every work

11) What did he tell himself was the reason God allowed such things?
   - God tests men, that they may see that they are like beasts

12) What does man have in common with beasts? (19-20)
   - They both die
   - They both return to the dust

13) What is different between man and beast? (21)
   - The spirit of man goes upward  (cf. 12:7)
   - The spirit of the beast goes down to the earth

14) What did the Preacher perceive was best for man to do?  Why? (22)
   - To rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage
   - Who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Chapter Two by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                              Chapter Two


1) To note the degree to which the Preacher sought for meaning in life
   under the sun

2) To consider his estimation of mirth, pleasure, wine, wisdom, folly
   and wealth in providing purpose for living

3) To appreciate his conclusion for what is best in life, and the One
   who makes it possible


In this chapter the Preacher describes the extent of his search for the
meaning of life "under the sun."  He explored mirth and pleasure,
finding them to be vanity.  He experimented with wine and folly, while
guiding himself with his wisdom.  Not withholding anything his eyes
desired, he used his great wealth to build and accumulate everything
his heart wanted.  He certainly enjoyed himself while doing it (1-10).

Yet when the Preacher looked back on all he had done, he found it to be
vanity and grasping for the wind.  Reflecting upon the comparative
value of wisdom and folly, he did find wisdom to excel folly.  But he
also observed that death came to both the wise and the fool, and both
soon forgotten.  This prompted him to hate life.  Even his accumulated
wealth provided little respite, for he must leave it to one who may
prove to be a fool.  Thus he found such efforts to be grievous, leading
one to sorrowful days and restless nights (11-23).

He concludes it is best to eat and drink, enjoying what good there is
in one's labor.  He realized, however, that the ability to truly enjoy
life is a gift from God.  He saw that God gives wisdom, knowledge, and
joy to a man who is good in His sight.  To the sinner, God might give 
the ability to gather and collect great wealth, but it eventually winds
up in the hands of him who is good before God.  Thus much labor without
God's blessing is truly vanity and grasping for the wind (24-26).



      1. He tested mirth and pleasure, and found them to be vanity
      2. He found laughter to be madness, and mirth to accomplish

      1. He experimented with wine and folly
         a. While guiding himself with wisdom
         b. Seeking to find what is good for men to do "under heaven
            all the days of their lives"
      2. He made many things
         a. Houses and vineyards
         b. Gardens and orchards
         c. Water pools to water fruit trees
      3. He acquired whatever he wanted
         a. Male and female servants, with more born in his house
         b. Herds and flocks, more than any in Jerusalem before him
         c. Silver, gold, special treasures of kings and provinces
         d. Male and female singers, musical instruments of all kinds
      4. He became great, and seemingly happy
         a. Greater than all in Jerusalem before him
         b. Having all his eyes desired, his heart rejoicing in his


      1. Looking back on all his works and labor
      2. Find them to be vanity, grasping for wind
      3. Concluding there was no profit under the sun
      1. He considered the relative value of wisdom, madness, and folly
      2. He found that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness
      3. Yet the same end (death) befalls the wise and the fool, and
         both are soon forgotten
      4. Prompting him to hate life for its vanity and grasping for the

      1. He came to hate his labor and toil under the sun
         a. Because he must leave it to one after him
         b. Not knowing whether those who inherit it will be wise or
      2. He came to despair his labor under the sun
         a. For despite one's wisdom, knowledge and skill, one's
            heritage must be left to one who has not labored for it
         b. This he concluded was vanity and a great evil
         c. In the end, all one had as a result of his labor and the
            striving of his heart:
            1) Sorrowful days, restless nights
            2) Grievous works, leading to vanity


      1. There is nothing better
      2. Than to eat, drink, and to enjoy good in one's labor

      1. He saw that this was a gift from God
      2. For no one can truly enjoy life without God (cf. footnote,
         NIV, NASB)
         a. To those good in His sight, God gives wisdom, knowledge,
            and joy
         b. To the sinner, God gives the work of gathering and 
            1) To give to the one who is good before God
            2) For the sinner, his work becomes vanity and grasping for
               the wind


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The Preacher's search for meaning (1-10)
   - The Preacher's reflection upon his search (11-23)
   - The Preacher's conclusion from his search (24-26)

2) In his search, what sort of things did the Preacher explore? (1-3)
   - Mirth and pleasure
   - Wine and folly

3) What guided his heart during the course of his search? (3)
   - Wisdom (perhaps that given the Preacher by God?)

4) What things did he accumulate during his search? (4-8)
   - Houses and vineyards
   - Gardens and orchards
   - Fruit trees and water pools to water them
   - Male and female servants, along with servants born in his house
   - Herds and flocks
   - Silver, gold, special treasures
   - Male and female singers, musical instruments of all kinds

5) How great did he become?  What stayed with him? (9)
   - Greater than all who were in Jerusalem before him
   - His wisdom

6) What did he get? (10)
   - Whatever his eyes desired, any pleasure his heart wanted

7) What was his reaction to this great accumulation of wealth? (10-11)
   - He rejoiced in his labor
   - But looking back on his works, he found them vanity and grasping
     for wind, with no profit under the sun

8) What conclusions were drawn about the value of wisdom and folly?
   - Wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness
   - Yet death comes to them both, and they are soon forgotten

9) What did this reflection lead him to do?  Why? (17)
   - Hate life
   - Because all work under the sun was grievous, vanity, and grasping
     for wind

10) What else caused him to hate his labor? (18)
   - The thought that he must leave it to one who comes after him

11) Why did this trouble him? (19-21)
   - For the one who receives his inheritance gained through wisdom,
     knowledge and skill might prove to be a fool

12) What did he conclude was the result of one's labor, striving, and
    toil for things under the sun? (22-23)
   - Sorrowful days, restless nights
   - Grievous work, leading to vanity

13) What did he say was the best man could achieve? (24)
   - To eat and drink, and enjoy good in his labor

14) But who was capable of achieving this? (24-26)
   - The one who was good in God's sight, to whom God gave wisdom,
     knowledge, and joy

15) What did the sinner receive?  For what purpose? (26)
   - The task of gathering and collecting
   - To give to him who was good before God

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Chapter One by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                              Chapter One


1) To consider the author, theme, and underlying question of this book

2) To note the Preacher's observations about the cycles of life, and
   his conclusion regarding the value of human wisdom


Ecclesiastes opens with a prologue in which the author identifies
himself, declares his theme, and introduces the question addressed in
this book.  He describes himself as "the Preacher, the son of David,
king in Jerusalem" (cf. 1:12).  As he begins his "sermon", he does so
in way that certainly grabs your attention:  declaring all to be vanity
(meaningless).  Having our attention, he asks the question that will be
answered in the course of his sermon:  what profit does a man have from
all his labor in which he toils under the sun (1-3)?

It is a question that is prompted by what he sees in the cycles of
life.  Generations of people come and go.  The sun rises and sets, only
to do the same day after day.  Wind currents and water cycles are 
constantly repeated, and man is never satisfied with what he sees or 
hears.  While we think new things are being done, it is only because we
don't remember the past.  In reality there is nothing new under the sun

With the question introduced, the Preacher describes his own search.
As king over Israel in Jerusalem, he wanted to know what everyone one 
wants to know - what profit is there for all the labor done under the 
sun?  Right up front he tells us what he found:  all is vanity and
grasping for the wind.  Having been blessed with greatness and wisdom
(from God, cf. 1Ki 3:12-13), he began his search exploring wisdom,
madness and folly.  He found that much wisdom and knowledge (i.e.,
human wisdom) was only the source of much grief and sorrow (12-18).



      1. The words of the Preacher
      2. The son of David, king in Jerusalem

      1. "Vanity of vanities...vanity of vanities, all is vanity"
      2. All is futile, useless, meaningless!

      1. "What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils
         under the sun?"
      2. This is the question the "Preacher" sought to answer


      1. Generations come and go, while the earth abides forever
      2. The sun is constant with its rising and setting 
      3. The winds continue their whirling cycle
      4. The water cycle also, as rivers run into the seas, and then
         through evaporation and rain return to the rivers again

      1. Despite all our labors, man is never truly satisfied
      2. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with

      1. What will be done is that which has been done
      2. If thought to be new, it is has been done in ancient times
      3. We simply don't remember the past, nor will the future
         remember the present


      1. He was king over Israel in Jerusalem
      2. He determined to use wisdom to seek and search all that has
         been done "under heaven"
      3. A task that he understood God had given to all men, to
         challenge them
      4. He summarizes what he found, having seen all the works done
         "under the sun"
         a. They are vanity and grasping for the wind
         b. For there is little one can do to make significant changes

      1. He acknowledged the greatness and wisdom he had attained
      2. He therefore sought to apply it to understand wisdom, madness,
         and folly

      1. It was like grasping for wind
      2. More wisdom and knowledge just increases grief and sorrow


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Prologue to the book (1-3)
   - Futility observed in the cycles of life (4-11)
   - Futility of human wisdom (12-18)

2) How does the author describe himself? (1)
   - The Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem

3) What is the theme of this book, as stated in verse 2?
   - "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity"

4) What is the key question that this book seeks to address? (3)
   - "What profit has a man from all in his labor in which he toils
     under the sun?"

5) What illustrations are given to show the futility observed in the
   cycles of life? (4-7)
   - The passing of generations
   - The rising and setting of the sun
   - The whirling cycles of the wind
   - The water cycle, from rain to sea back to rain

6) What is never satisfied? (8)
   - The eye with seeing, the ear with hearing

7) Why is there nothing new under the sun? (9)
   - History simply repeats itself

8) Why do we think something is new? (10-11)
   - We have forgotten what has happened in history

9) What did the Preacher determine to do?  Why? (13)
   - To seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under
   - It was something God has given man to do

10) Having seen the works done under the sun, what did he conclude?
    Why? (14-15)
   - All is vanity and grasping for the wind
   - Because one cannot make any significant changes that are lasting

11) What did he acknowledge he had attained? (16)
   - Great wisdom and understanding

12) What did he set his heart to know? (17)
   - Wisdom, madness, and folly

13) What conclusion did he draw?  Why? (18)
   - It was grasping for the wind
   - For in much wisdom is much grief, and increasing knowledge
     increases sorrow

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Introduction by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"


The book of Ecclesiastes has fascinated many people. Some feel it is 
the most puzzling book in the Old Testament. It has been called one of
the most melancholy books of the Bible. It has been used by some to
teach that man ceases to exist after death.

It is not a book that Christians should ignore. As with all Old 
Testament Scripture, it was written for our learning (Ro 15:4) and
admonition (1Co 10:11). It is therefore profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness (2Ti 3:

The book has special relevance today in our materialistic society, for
it helps us to see the vanity of many earthly pursuits. It contains
lessons for all, but especially for the young who have so much to lose
should they make the wrong choices early in life.

TITLE:  In the Hebrew Bible, the book is called "Qoheleth" (Koheleth)
which means "preacher" (cf. 1:1). The term suggests one who speaks to
an assembly. The translators of the Septuagint (a Greek version of the
Old Testament) called it "Ekklesiastes", which also means "preacher".
The word is derived from "ekklesia", meaning "assembly".

AUTHOR AND DATE OF WRITING:  Jewish and early Christian tradition
attribute the book to Solomon. The author identifies himself as "the 
son of David, king in Jerusalem" (1:1). He also refers to himself as
"the Preacher" (1:1,2,12; 7:27; 12:8,9,10). Internal evidences point
to Solomon. Note the references to:

   * His wisdom - 1:16; cf. 1Ki 3:12

   * His building activities - 2:4-6; cf. 1Ki 7:1-12

   * His wealth - 2:7-9; cf. 2Ch 9:13-28

   * His activities after writing this book - 12:9-10; cf. 1Ki 4:30-34

Some question whether certain conditions described in the book (cf.
3:16; 4:13-16; 5:8) existed during the reign of Solomon. But these
conditions could have been noted by Solomon in neighboring countries,
or in lower-level positions of his administration.

In my opinion, the evidence is simply not compelling to reject the
traditional view of Solomon as the author. If Solomon is indeed the
author, then the date the book was written would be around 945 B.C.

PURPOSE FOR WRITING:  The Preacher wondered what many have asked: 

   "What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils
   under the sun?" (1:3).
In other words, what value or purpose is there for living? What is the
meaning of life?  Having been blessed with great material resources and
wisdom, the Preacher was able to explore all avenues in his search. He
writes to share with us the results of his own investigation, and to
offer observations and words of counsel gleaned from his search.

MESSAGE:  There are two main messages. The first is stated in the
                         "All is vanity" (1:2)

This theme is repeated by the Preacher time and again:

   * Prior to describing his search for meaning - 1:14

   * Throughout the course of his search:
       The vanity of pleasure - 2:1
       The vanity of industry (labor) - 2:11,22-23; 4:4
       The vanity of human wisdom - 2:15
       The vanity of all life - 2:17
       The vanity of leaving an inheritance - 2:18-21

   * Throughout his words of counsel and wisdom:
       The vanity of earthly existence - 3:19-21
       The vanity of acquiring riches over family - 4:7-8
       The vanity of political popularity - 4:16
       The vanity of many dreams and many words - 5:7
       The vanity of loving abundance - 5:10
       The vanity of wealth without the gift of God to enjoy it - 6:2
       The vanity of wandering desire - 6:9
       The vanity of foolish laughter - 7:6
       The vanity of injustice in this life - 8:14
       The vanity of the days of darkness - 11:8
       The vanity of childhood and youth - 11:10

   * At the conclusion of the book - 12:8

Indeed, the key word in this book is "vanity". It occurs 35 times in 29
verses. It means "futility, uselessness, nothingness." But a key phrase
to be noted is "under the sun". It is found 29 times in 27 verses. It
suggests that this message of vanity is true when one looks at life
purely from an earthly perspective. Leave God and the afterlife out of
the equation, and life is truly vanity!

Therefore another message in this book is the importance of serving God
throughout life. This is the message the Preacher would leave with the
young (cf. 11:9-12:1), and is stated in his final words:

   "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep
   His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." (12:13)

Throughout the book, we will find what the Preacher later describes as
"goads" and "nails" (cf. 12:11). These are wise sayings that will
"prod" our thinking, and exhortations that will provide stability and
direction for living. Ecclesiastes is certainly a book worthy of 
careful study!








1) What is the book of Ecclesiastes called in the Hebrew Bible? What
   does it mean?
   - Qoheleth (Koheleth)
   - Preacher

2) What does the word "ecclesiasates" mean? What Greek word is it
   derived from?
   - Preacher
   - Ekklesia, meaning "an assembly"

3) According to Jewish and early Christian tradition, who is the
   author, and when was it likely written?
   - Solomon 
   - 945 B.C.

4) What internal evidence is there to identify the author? (1:16; 
   2:4-6,7-9; 12:9-10)
   - His wisdom
   - His building activities
   - His wealth
   - His activities after writing the book

5) What question does the Preacher seek to answer in this book? (1:3)
   - "What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under
     the sun?"

6) What key word is found in this book? What key phrase is repeated
   time and again?
   - Vanity
   - Under the sun

7) What are the two main messages found in this book? (1:14; 12:13)
   - The vanity of life under the sun (life purely from an earthly
   - The importance of fearing God and keeping His commandments

8) According to the brief outline above, what are the three main
   divisions of the book?
   - The Preacher's search for meaning in life (1-2)
   - The Preacher's observations from life (3-6)
   - The Preacher's counsel for life (7-12)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Afterlife and the Quran by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Afterlife and the Quran

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The Quran’s portrayal of afterlife and the spirit realm is a confused hodge-podge of borrowed ideas from a variety of sources, as well as the author’s own misconceptions. While the Bible does not clarify every aspect of life beyond the grave, nor answer every question that one might have about that realm, it nevertheless affords a consistent, cohesive, definitive treatment of the subject that contrasts sharply with the Quran. Consider, for example, the Quran’s handling of the concepts of heaven and paradise [NOTE: Quranic references are taken from the Muslim translations by Pickthall (n.d.) and Ali (1934).]


The Quran makes repeated reference to the existence of seven heavens. Consider the following allusions: “He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is Knower of all things” (Surah 2:29, emp. added); “Say: Who is Lord of the seven heavens, and Lord of the Tremendous Throne? They will say: Unto Allah (all that belongeth). Say: Will ye not then keep duty (unto Him)?” (Surah 23:86-87, emp. added); “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him” (Surah 17:44, emp. added). Speaking of the creation of the Universe, the Quran states: “Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and we decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable” (Surah 41:12, emp. added). Noah’s admonitions to his contemporaries included reminders of Allah’s creative activities: “See ye not how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony, and hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp? (Surah 71:15-16, emp. added; see also 23:17; 65:12; 67:3; 78:12).
In sharp contrast to the Quran’s “seven” heavens, the Bible speaks of only three. The “first heaven” is the Earth’s atmosphere—the “sky”—where the birds fly (Genesis 1:20; 8:2; Isaiah 55:10; Luke 13:19). The “second heaven” is “outer space”—where the Sun, Moon, and stars are situated (Genesis 15:5; 22:17; Deuteronomy 4:19; Nahum 3:16). These two heavens together are referred to in the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens (plural—DM) and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emp. added). The “third heaven” in biblical thought is the spirit realm beyond the physical realm where God and other celestial beings reside (Deuteronomy 10:14; 26:15; 1 Kings 8:27,30). It often is referred to as the “heaven of heavens”—a Semitism wherein the genitive is used for the superlative degree—meaning the highest or ultimate heaven (cf. “Song of songs,” “King of kings,” “Lord of lords”). While the Bible uses the number seven frequently, it never mentions anything about any so-called “seven heavens”—even in the apocalyptic book of Revelation where the number seven is used figuratively and prominently (54 times). The Quran’s allusions cannot be rationalized as poetic or figurative, since none of the Quranic citations gives any indication of a figurative use.
Where did the Quran get its notion of seven heavens? Uninspired sources clarify the circumstance. Jewish rabbis frequently spoke of seven heavens (Ginzberg, 1909, 1:9; 1910, 2:260,313; 1911, 3:96; 1925, 5:9-11,23,30). They also spoke of seven gates to hell (Ginzberg, 5:19,267; 1928, 6:438), another feature copied into the Quran that is in conflict with the Bible: “And lo! for all such, hell will be the promised place. It hath seven gates, and each gate hath an appointed portion” (Surah 15:43-44). Additionally, the Quran’s use of the phrase “the seven paths” (Surah 23:17) is a Talmudic expression (Rodwell, 1950, p. 145).


The term “paradise” is of Persian derivation, and referred to “a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting-ground, park, shady and well-watered” (Thayer, 1901, p. 480). The Jews used the term as “a garden, pleasure-ground, grove, park,” and came to apply it to that portion of hades that was thought “to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection” (p. 480). With this linguistic background, the word is used in three different senses in the Bible: (1) it is used in the Septuagint (Genesis 2:8,9,10,15,16; 3:2,3,4,9,11,24,25), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to refer to the literal Garden of Eden on Earth where Adam and Eve lived (Septuagint, 1970, pp. 3-5). It normally is translated “garden” in English versions; (2) it is used one time, in a highly figurative New Testament book, to refer to the final abode of the saved, i.e., heaven (Revelation 2:7); and (3) it is used in connection with the hadean realm. The Hebrew Old Testament term for this waiting place is sheol, and the New Testament term is hades. The Quran shows no awareness of these biblical distinctions. Instead, it advocates the existence of seven heavens (as noted), paradise (which apparently is among the seven heavens), and hell (an evident reflection of the uninspired influence of both Jewish and Persian sources of the sixth and seventh centuries).
According to the Bible, hades is a broad term that designates the receptacle of disembodied spirits where all humans who die await the Lord’s return (Luke 23:43; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Corinthians 12:4) prior to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35-54), the Judgment, and the final disposition of all humans to one of two ultimate eternal realms, i.e., heaven or hell. This realm encompasses two “compartments”: one for the deceased righteous, and one for the deceased wicked. The area inhabited by the righteous is “paradise,” while the area for the wicked is “tartarus.” Very little information is actually given in the Bible in the way of description regarding hades. In fact, the only descriptive detail provided (Luke 16:19-31) indicates that within hades, (1) paradise is described as a place where one is “comforted” (vs. 25), and (2) it is separated from tartarus by “a great gulf ” (vs. 26). That’s it! Absolutely no additional elaboration is given regarding paradise—no couches, no maidens, no rivers of water, no gold goblets. Hades, within which are paradise and tartarus, is, in fact, a temporary realm that will be terminated at the Judgment (Revelation 20:13-14). From that point forward, only two eternal realms will exist: heaven and hell.
The only detailed description given of heaven in the Bible is in the book of Revelation—a self-declared apocalypse (apocalupsis—“revelation”—1:1), i.e., a symbolic, figurative depiction that is not to be understood literally (see Swete, 1911, pp. xxii-xxxii; Gasque, 1975, 1:200-204; Thomson, 1939, 1:162-163). Hence, the “street of gold” (21:21), “pure river of water of life” (22:1), “tree of life” (22:2), and cube-shaped, walled city situated on twelve foundations of precious stones with pearl gates (21:19-21) are explicitly stated to be strictly figurative (“signified”—1:1). The Bible seems to go out of its way to avoid attempting to describe a nonphysical, spiritual, eternal realm to humans who live in a physical, finite realm. It says just enough to “whet the appetite” of an honest seeker of truth, without succumbing to the mistake of overwhelming the reader with a wholly carnal impression of heaven. The Quran commits precisely this blunder. Paradise is repeatedly represented in literal, materialistic terms:
Therefore Allah hath warded off from them the evil of that day, and hath made them find brightness and joy; And hath awarded them for all that they endured, a Garden and silk attire; Reclining therein upon couches, they will find there neither (heat of) a sun nor bitter cold. The shade thereof is close upon them and the clustered fruitsthereof bow down. Goblets of silver are brought round for them, and beakers (as) of glass (bright as) glass but (made) of silver, which they (themselves) have measured to the measure (of their deeds). There are they watered with a cup whereof the mixture is of Zanjabil, the water of a spring therein, named Salsabil. There serve them youths of everlasting youth, whom, when thou seest, thou wouldst take for scattered pearls. When thou seest, thou wilt see there bliss and high estate. Their raiment will be fine green silk and gold embroideryBracelets of silver will they wear. Their Lord will slake their thirst with a pure drink. (And it will be said unto them): Lo! this is a reward for you. Your endeavour (upon earth) hath found acceptance (Surah 76:11-22, emp. added).
But for him who feareth the standing before his Lord there are two gardens. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Of spreading branches, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein are two fountains flowing. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein is every kind of fruit in pairs. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Reclining upon couches lined with silk brocade, the fruit of both gardens near to hand. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Therein are those of modest gaze, whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? (In beauty) like the jacynth and the coral—stone. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord that ye deny? Is the reward of goodness aught save goodness? Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? And beside them are two other gardens, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Dark green with foliage. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein are two abundant springs. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein is fruit, the date—palm and pomegranate. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein (are found) the good and beautiful—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?—Fair ones, close—guarded in pavilions—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Reclining on green cushions and fair carpets. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Blessed be the name of thy Lord, Mighty and Glorious! (Surah 55:46-78, emp. added).
In addition to the multiple gardens or paradises (55:46,62; cf. 83:18-19; Lings, pp. 95,202) with couches, green cushions, carpets, silk attire, silver bracelets, goblets and beakers of silver, shade, branches and foliage, fountains and springs, dates and pomegranates, youthful servants of everlasting youth and fair virgins, paradise also will include golden trays or dishes (43:71), flowering meadows (42:22), a pure wine (non-intoxicating—56:19) sealed with musk and mixed with water from the heavenly spring of Tasnim (83:25-28), multiple storied halls or mansions (29:58; 34:37; 39:20), fowl flesh (56:21), thornless lote-trees (56:28), and clustered plantains (56:29). The references to paradise in such materialistic terms go on and on in the Quran (cf. 15:45-47; 18:32; 22:23; 35:33; 37:41-49; 38:51-53; 44:51-55; 47:15; 52:17-28; 88:8-16; et al.). The contexts in which they occur discount the standard Muslim explanation that they are “figurative.” In fact, one verse even equates the fruit on Earth with the fruit in paradise: “And give glad tidings (O Muhammad) unto those who believe and do good works; that theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers flow; as often as they are regaled with food of the fruit thereof, they say: This is what was given us aforetime; and it is given to them in resemblance” (Surah2:25, emp. added).
One would think that Muslim women would feel short-changed in the afterlife. Paradise for men will include access to maidens: “pure companions” (2:25; 3:15; 4:57), “fair ones with wide, lovely eyes” (44:54; 52:20—or “beautiful, big and lustrous eyes”—Ali; cf. 55:72) like “hidden eggs (of the ostrich)” and “hidden pearls” (37:49; 56:23), “those of modest gaze” (37:48; 38:53—or “chaste women restraining their glances, [companions] of equal age”—Ali; cf. 55:56; 78:33), who are “good and beautiful” (55:70), “virgins” (56:36), “whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them” (55:56,74). Such lascivious, lustful appeals to sensual and sexual passions are transparent—and typical of male authors unguided by a higher power.
Additionally, the Quran and the Bible conflict with one another on the matter of marriage in the afterlife. The Quran unquestionably indicates that marriage will persist in paradise (Surah 13:23; 36:55; 40:8; 43:70). In fact, God Himself will perform the ceremonies: “Lo! those who kept their duty will be in a place secure amid gardens and water-springs, attired in silk and silk embroidery, facing one another. Even so (it will be). And We shall wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes” (44:54, emp. added; cf. 52:20). But Jesus soundly refuted this notion in His interchange with the Sadducees: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).
The emphasis on food, drink, and physical pleasures in the Quranic depictions of afterlife reflect a perspective that one would anticipate from a desert-bound Arab Bedouin. This preoccupation with carnal things and material comforts exposes the description as uninspired, and stands in stark contrast with the Bible’s handling of the subject. So also with the redundancy of repetitious phrases: “gardens underneath which rivers flow” (used 32 times in Pickthall—see Al-nasir). The Quran’s treatment of the afterlife verifies its human origin.


Al-nasir, Jamal (2000-2003), Holy Quran Viewer (London: Divineislam.com), [On-line]: URL: http://www.divineislam.com.
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Gasque, W.W. (1975), “Apocalyptic Literature,” The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Ginzberg, Louis (1909-1939), The Legends of the Jews, trans. Henrietta Szold (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America), [On-line], URL: http://answering-islam.org/Books/Legends/v1_3.htm.
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Septuagint Version of the Old Testament (1970 reprint), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1977 reprint).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Thomson, J.E.H. (1939), “Apocalyptic Literature,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint).

How Could There Be Light Before the Sun? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


How Could There Be Light Before the Sun?

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Genesis 1:3-5 indicates that God created light on day one of the Creation week. It was not until day four, however, that He made the Sun, Moon, and stars. How could there have been light in the beginning, before the Sun was even created? What was that light?


The first thing to note is that whatever the light was, God divided it from darkness and then defined “Day” and “Night” based on the distinction (vss. 4-5). Moses highlights that “the evening and the morning” were in effect at the end of that first day, even though the Sun had not yet been created. Apparently, the light was directional and fixed, like the light from the Sun, allowing a light period for day and a dark period for night as the Earth turned on its axis as it does today, also allowing for an evening and a morning. Wayne Jackson noted that “[t]he ‘light’ of Genesis 1:3 obviously radiated from a ‘fixed’ source, in its relationship to the earth, inasmuch as it facilitated the dark-to-light arrangement, as the primitive orb rotated upon its axis” (2014). Henry M. Morris concurred, stating, “Such a cyclical light-dark arrangement clearly means that the earth was now rotating on its axis and that there was a source of light on one side of the earth corresponding to the sun, even though the sun was not yet made (Genesis 1:16)” (1977, p. 55). Biblical scholars Spence and Exell explain, “On the fourth day the light [that was—JM] developed on the first is concentrated and permanently fixed in the celestial luminaries” (2007, Genesis 1:3-5).
Can we surmise anything else about that light? Spence and Exell point out that Augustine argued that the light was spiritual in nature (2007). However, such a postulation does not harmonize well with the rest of the chapter. How could spiritual light be divided into the days and nights that are described throughout the rest of Genesis one to denote God’s activity on each of the days of the Creation week?
Though “light” was once thought to be inherently a substance or element, we now understand it to be merely a result of matter being in a certain condition. Spence and Exell point out that it would not conflict with the text to argue that the light of Genesis one referred to the “mode or condition of matter,” with luminosity, for example, being merely the result of incandescence (Genesis 1:3-5). This hints that some physical source could have been present to emit the light, unless, of course, the light was purely supernatural and temporary. Adam Clarke and Spence and Exell note that the Genesis one word for “light” is used elsewhere in the Bible to denote fire (Isaiah 31:9; Ezekiel 5:2), the Sun (Job 31:26), lightning (Job 37:3), and even heat (Isaiah 44:16). Clarke concluded “that it is caloric or latent heat which is principally intended by the original word” (2013, Genesis 1:3).
There is no doubt that when the Earth was created on day one, likely with its mantle intact, light (and heat) was immediately in existence due to the nature of the magma therein. Keep in mind also that “light” occurs in a wide spectrum—a range which far exceeds what humans can visibly detect. Henry Morris noted, “[I]t is obvious that visible light is primarily meant [in Genesis 1:3—JM], since it was set in contrast to darkness. At the same time, the presence of visible light waves necessarily involves the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Beyond the visible light waves are, on the one hand, ultraviolet light and all the other shortwavelength radiations and, on the other hand, infrared light and the other longwave phenomena” (p. 56). John D. Morris observed:
Actually there are many sources of light, not just the sun. There are also many types of light, not just visible light. Short-wave light includes ultraviolet light, X-rays, and others. Long-wave light includes infrared light, radio waves, etc. Light is produced by friction, by fire, by numerous chemical reactions, as well as the nuclear reactions of atomic fission and fusion, which is what we think is occurring in the sun. God had at His fingertips many options to accomplish His purposes. Light does not automatically require the sun (2008, p. 14).
Bottom line: while we know the light spectrum and heat (entropy) were created on day one, there is simply not enough information in the text to understand the nature of the fixed, directional light source that allowed for a division of night and day during the first three days of Creation. Whatever it was, no sustained contradiction can be levied against the Bible due to its commentary on the events of the Creation week. [NOTE: Consider that such charges, if sustainable, would have likely caused the Bible millennia ago to be patently rejected by all rational people, fading into obscurity along with the mythological stories of old. Humanity has simply understood that there is an explanation to the enigma, even if the details are not known, and that a legitimate absurdity cannot be levied against the biblical text.] Interestingly, Jackson points out that the ancient, mythological Babylonian account of creation, Enuma Elish, dating back as far as 1800 B.C., also claimed that light was in existence before the lightbearers themselves (2014). For thousands of years, humanity has had such texts, and while not understanding the full implications of such accounts, people have understood that such a concept is not inherently inaccurate. Interestingly, if the Bible were written by humans conning the masses, one might imagine a re-write of the events of day one would be the first edit to be made to give us some more insight.


Clarke, Adam (2013), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: WORDSearch).
Jackson, Wayne (2014), “What Was that ‘Light’ Before the Sun (Genesis 1:3)?” Christian Courier,https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/882-what-was-that-light-before-the-sun-genesis-1-3.
Morris, Henry M. (1977), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Morris, John D. (2008), “Sunlight Before the Sun,” Acts & Facts, 37[1]:14,http://www.icr.org/article/sunlight-before-sun/.
Spence, H.D.M. and Joseph S. Exell (2007), The Pulpit Commentary (Electronic Database: WORDSearch).

Geography as the Most Important Predictor of Religion—Revisited by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Geography as the Most Important Predictor of Religion—Revisited
by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

On September 29, 2011, I debated Blair Scott, the Director of Communications for American Atheists, Inc. During the debate, he suggested that one of the primary reasons (if not the only reason) that people are Christians is because they were born into a society that is predominantly Christian. He contended that this fact cast doubt on the legitimacy of Christianity and the sincerity of the person who claims to believe in Christianity based on the truth of its claims. Blair is not the only atheist who has used this line of reasoning. When I debated Dan Barker on February 12, 2009, he stated basically the same thing as Blair, when he said, “there are other reasons besides reason and truth that people come to their faith.” He continued:
The most obvious one is geography. Geography is the greatest single predictor of what religion a person will have. If you were born in Baghdad, you can pretty much predict what religion that person will have. If you were born in Tennessee, you can pretty much predict what kind of person you are going to be with your religion, generally. It’s the highest predictor (Butt and Barker, 2009).
While it may be true that geography is the highest predictor of a person’s religion, it is important to understand what Scott and Barker are trying to say, and why it has no bearing on the truth of the proposition that God exists. The implication is that if most people in an area hold a certain religious belief, then the mere fact that it is the “traditional” belief of that area should cast disparaging light on the belief, or at least should call into question the honesty and intellectual rigor of those who hold the belief. This is a classic example of a logical fallacy known as the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is committed when a person attempts to discredit an idea based on its origin, not based on the merits of the idea itself. In this instance, Barker, Scott, and other atheists are suggesting that a belief in the God of the Bible should be questioned merely on the basis of the fact that the idea stems from certain cultures or regions.
When this accusation against belief in God is studied critically, however, it becomes apparent that these atheists are making a moot point. What does it matter if the biggest predictor of a person’s religion is geography? Does that mean that the information is necessarily false? If that were the case, we could simply lump atheism in with all other “religions” and say that geography is the single biggest predictor of whether a person will claim atheism. Polls indicate that those born in China or the former Soviet Union, and certain other areas of Europe, are much more likely to be atheists than other areas of the globe (“Major Religions of the World…,” 2007). So what does that mean about atheism? Should it be rejected soley on the basis of geography? We are forced by rationality to understand that it means nothing—other than the fact that most people, including atheists, adopt the beliefs of the people nearest to them. It says nothing whatsoever about the truth of the beliefs.
Suppose we were to suggest that geography is the single biggest predictor of whether a person will know his or her multiplication tables by age 12. Would that mean that all those who learned their “times tables” hold an incorrect view of the world? Of course not. Would it mean that the local knowledge of multiplication casts suspicion on the truth of the math being done? No. It has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of the multiplication tables. Again, suppose that we said that geography is the single most important indicator of whether a person understands how germs are passed. Does that mean that all those people who wash their hands because that is “what their mothers taught them about germs” have been taught wrong? Certainly not.
In truth, we intuitively know that geography has nothing to do with truth claims. Is it the case that truth seekers often break away from their culturally held beliefs, forsake false ideas, and embrace the truth that God exists, the Bible is His Word, and Jesus is His Son? Yes. It is also true that many forsake the cultural truths that they were taught as children, reject the reality of God’s existence, and exchange that belief for false worldviews like atheism and agnosticism. That happens as well.
The atheistic objection that ideas concerning the God of the Bible should be questioned because they are held by more people in certain regions has no merit and can easily be dismissed. It should, however, make us stop and think about why we hold the beliefs that we do. The apostle Paul admonished all people to “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is true that many people are guilty of clinging to a belief simply because their family or culture is closely tied to it, and the Bible explicitly cautions against doing so (cf. Mark 7:8-13). The fact that many people blindly cling to tradition says nothing whatsoever about the truth or falsity of the belief, but it does say something about the sincerity of the one who holds those beliefs without having truly “tested” them. If all the people in the world were to honestly assess their core beliefs based on truth and reason, they would become New Testament Christians regardless of where they were born or where they currently live. As Jesus explained to Pilate: “I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).


Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist?(Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents” (2007), http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html#Nonreligious.

Does “Baptism into Moses” Justify Infant Baptism? by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Does “Baptism into Moses” Justify Infant Baptism?

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Those who support infant baptism sometimes appeal to 1 Corinthians 10:2 to justify their position. The passage states that “all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea”—a direct reference to Exodus 14:22. Baptism into Moses is entirely different from baptism into Christ, but those who defend infant baptism assert that, because Paul called the crossing of the Red Sea a “baptism,” many infants and young children must have been “baptized” when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. What did Paul mean when he wrote that “our fathers” all were “baptized into Moses”?
In 1 Corinthians 10, the inspired apostle did not discuss baptism, how to obtain forgiveness of sin, or entrance into the church. Paul referenced the sins of the children of Israel to warn the Christians in Corinth (see Mare, 1976, pp. 248-249). The meaning of baptism (in 1 Corinthians 10:2) is both literal and figurative. The Israelites were baptized—not in the sense that they were baptized for religious reasons, but in the sense that they were literally surrounded by water, though the water did not touch them. This is a legitimate use of the word “baptism.” When a body is buried in a cemetery, for example, the body is “immersed” in the ground (surrounded by dirt), though a casket prevents any dirt from actually touching the body. In that sense, the children of Israel were submerged in the Red Sea. Paul also wrote of baptism in a figurative sense: the Israelites were “baptized into Moses,” in that they devoted themselves to his leadership and, through him, God’s leadership. G.G. Findlay explained:
The cloud, shading and guiding the Israelites from above, and the “sea” making a path for them through its midst and drowning their enemies behind them, were glorious signs to “our fathers” of God’s salvation; together they formed a washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), inaugurating the national covenant life; as it trode the miraculous path between upper and nether waters, Israel was born into its Divine estate. Thus “they all received their baptism unto Moses, entering through him into acknowledged fellowship with God; even so the Corinthians in the use of the same symbolic element had been baptized unto Christ (cf. Romans 6:3f., Galatians 3:27)” [n.d., p. 857, parenthetical items in orig.].
Baptism into Christ is not mandated by Exodus 14:22, though the example of the Red Sea crossing metaphorically foreshadows baptism into Christ, as does the water of the Flood (1 Peter 3:20-21; see Lenski, 1937, p. 391). In Exodus 14, however, the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea in order to save their physical lives, not to save their eternal souls (plus, the “baptism” of Exodus 14 was instituted by Moses hundreds of years before the baptism of Christ came into effect). There is no identification of the proper candidate for baptism in either 1 Corinthians 10:2 or Exodus 14:22, so infant baptism cannot be justified by either passage.
If the Holy Spirit did not author a discussion of baptism into Moses in order to authorize infant baptism, why did He write about baptism into Moses? First, observe that when the children of Israel were baptized “into Moses,” they made a conscious decision to completely follow Moses’ leadership. Some Israelites had been quite critical of Moses’ leadership because he brought the people out of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 14:10-12). Others likely admired Moses, and were willing to follow Moses and Aaron out of Egypt, but following Moses across the parted Red Sea necessitated a higher level of trust. It was not a given that all the people would be eager to obey Moses’ command to “go forward” (verse 15). Following Moses’ instruction was not the only option available to the children of Israel (though choosing to disobey Moses meant almost certain death). Before crossing the Red Sea, the children of Israel made a commitment to obey Moses, and, in turn, to serve God. In the same way, people are baptized into Christ when they decide to stop sinning and serve the Lord, i.e., they are separated from the world and consecrated to God (Acts 2:37-38; Acts 22:16; see Kistemaker, 2002, p. 322). This point destroys infants’ candidacy for baptism.
Second, notice that the waters of the Red Sea, in dividing, did not save the children of Israel on its own—water is, by itself, incapable of defying the Law of Gravity. It was only by the power of God, in moving the waters, that Israel was preserved. Similarly, the waters of baptism are not magical or miraculous. It is not the water itself that washes away sin and saves souls. Rather, it is God Who forgives sin when someone is baptized, and He continues to forgive the sins of those who penitently serve Him (Matthew 26:28; Acts 8:13; 22:16; Romans 4:7,8; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 John 1:7). However, God never said that He would forgive the sins of one who did not believe on Him (or could not believe on Him, i.e., those incapable of belief need no forgiveness, because they have not sinned; see 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Romans 10:16; McGarvey, n.d., p. 40).
Third, most of the children of Israel who crossed the Red Sea as a result of their obedience to Moses died in the wilderness because they disobeyed God sometime after they crossed the sea. Similarly, just because someone is baptized into Christ and forgiven of sin, does not mean that he can never lose his salvation or fall out of favor with God. To the contrary, the Bible teaches that one can lose his salvation (Galatians 5:1,4; Hebrews 3:1,12; James 5:19,20).
Fourth, the example of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea should make every Christian more appreciative of the sacrifice of Christ. Just as God provided the only means of physical escape to the captive Israelites, God has provided us with the blood of Christ, which cleanses our souls from sin, providing the only means of escape from eternal spiritual death. God used the cloud and the Red Sea to “separate” an identified people—His chosen people. Today, the church makes up God’s spiritual Israel—those who are saved are members of the Lord’s church (Galatians 3; Ephesians 1:22-23; Hebrews 8).


Findlay, G.G. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Lenski, Robert C.H. (1937), The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Mare, W. Harold (1976), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Corinthians, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), Commentary on Acts (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).