Developing A Set Of Biblical Ethics by Allan Turner


Developing A Set Of Biblical Ethics

The constant temptation for Christians is to blend in. We instinctively do not want to be thought of as being “different.” The thought that living a godly life could cause us to be looked upon with contempt by our neighbors is quite disagreeable. Indeed, such thoughts make us feel very uncomfortable, and although we know the Bible calls upon us to be pilgrims in our own culture (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13), we do not enjoy feeling like strangers, particularly in our own culture. Satan, our ancient and crafty adversary, by reason of his experience with the human race, knows our weaknesses very well and is certainly not slack in fully exploiting them. Realizing that he would probably fail in a full frontal assault, he tries to convince us that Christianity is a relaxing, easy-going, laid-back religion. He tries to convince us that we really do not need to keep our minds razor-sharp (I Peter 1:13). He tries to tell us that we do not need to be careful. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth taught in God's word!
If our behavior is not radically different from the world's, then we can be certain that we are not pleasing to our Lord and Savior. If we are being conformed to this world instead of to the image of Christ, then we can be sure that our heavenly Father is displeased with us. If our minds have not been transformed from what they once were when we served our own lusts, then we are not proving to the world what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is (Romans 12:2).
So, how do we do this? Well, we do so by developing a set of Biblical ethics. In the space that follows, we'll examine a working model that facilitates this very thing.
A Biblical Model For Developing Personal Ethics
The following model, which consists of five principles, is to be applied to particular issues to evaluate whether they are acceptable behavior for a Christian to be engaged in. This model is completely transcultural. This means that that these principles are to be applied to every culture equally (i.e., it is totally inconceivable that God would permit these principles to be violated in any cultural setting).
The Five Principles Are:
  1. Does it violate any clear teaching of Scripture?
  2. Does it destroy any part of my body (physically, mentally, or spiritually), which is the temple o f the Holy Spirit?
  3. Does it cause a weaker Christian or non-Christian to be hindered?
  4. Does it violate the express will of one who has the God-given right to exercise headship over me?
  5. Does it glorify God? In other words, can I ask God's blessing upon what I am doing with a clear conscience?
In the space that follows, we will examine the Biblical justification for each of these five principles.
The First Principle
The first principle assumes that the Bible is authoritative and normative when it comes to ethical concerns. It is based on the idea that the Bible is God's revelation to man and is to be used as the standardized guide in determining all matters of faith and practice. In one sense, all the remaining principles are based on this one. Nevertheless, it needs to be spelled out here. This principle says that any practice which the Christian is trying to evaluate that violates the teaching of Scripture is wrong. This principle covers the obvious incidents of overt sin. If someone is trying to make a decision as to whether it is right to take the property of another, this principle applies. The Bible clearly prohibits stealing. Various cultural ideas about what constitutes stealing have to be weighed according to what the Bible says. Consequently, Bible settings that address the issue of theft serve as the guide in defining what constitutes theft in the Biblical sense and take precedence over individual cultures.
Great care must be taken to extract the teaching of Scripture on particular issues. Hermeneutical procedures, like those outlined in the article entitled Rules For Bible Study, ought to be followed in doing this. All the various passages that deal with the particular behavior being questioned ought to be gathered to formulate a comprehensive understanding of the subject and its various ramifications. Any ethical issue must be submitted to this first principle and may be determined right or wrong based on the Biblical data accumulated.
Many passages could be cited to support the claim that the Bible is authoritative in the lives of believers because it is God-breathed (e.g., Jeremiah 36:2; Ezekial 1:3; Acts 1:16; II Peter 1:21; or Revelation 14:13), but for this study we will cite and expound upon only one passage—II Timothy 3:16, 17, which says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” According to this passage, Scripture is the standard one is to use in sorting out truth from error. It is the standard one is to use in order to correct his path so he can do the good works Christ called him to do. Therefore, anything that violates Scripture is ethically wrong, no matter what any particular culture might have to say about it. The basic authority of Scripture is transcultural, because one cannot conceive of any circumstances when God would release one from His revelation's authority.
The Second Principle
The second principle has to do with the basic sanctity of the body. The Christian is not to do something willingly which he knows will destroy his body. The body is sacred because it is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. By implication, a holistic concept of the body is in view here. In other words, the body, with its physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions is under consideration. Anything which deteriorates one's state of existence is prohibited by this principle. Variations as to what such things may be can be different in different cultures. Nevertheless, the Bible is the ultimate standard of authority in these matters. Any willful destruction of the body, mind, and ultimately the spirit is strictly prohibited by the word of God.
The passage we have chosen as justification for this principle illustrates the effects of sexual impurity on the physical body. But, in doing so, it also addresses the sanctification process. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5: 22,23) cannot be produced in a vessel that is being destroyed by sexual sin. The word of God makes it clear that spiritual and mental factors cannot be excluded when considering the destructive nature of sexual laxity.
In Corinth, sexual impurity was rampant. The city was well-known for its temple of Aphrodite, which had over one-thousand prostitutes. That the Corinthian church was composed mostly of Gentile converts is well established. This means these converts would have brought many wrong and hurtful pagan ideas along with their entrance into the Corinthian church. Therefore, a great deal of teaching was necessary in order to direct them in Christian living. Paul's letters to the Corinthians reflect this fact, particularly his first letter. The text which justifies the principle we are considering is drawn from I Corinthians 6:12-20, but we wish to focus on verses 19 and 20, which say: “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” In I Corinthians 3:16, the apostle Paul refers to the entire church as the temple of God. In this verse, however, he uses the word “body” in the singular. Each Christian individually represents the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, anything that would be out of place in God's temple ought to have no place in the Christian's life; especially sexual impurity. As Paul gave these instruction, he demonstrated that he was not willing to let the Corinthian culture define what was sexually permissible. The word of God is the standard. In addition to sexual immorality, modern issues that come under close scrutiny as a result of this principle are the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, non-prescription drugs, certain types of literature, movies, music, etc. If something a Christian is evaluating for acceptability as godly behavior leads to self-destruction, he can safely conclude that it does not respect the sanctity of the body and, consequently, does not glorify God and should, therefore, be avoided.
The Third Principle
What we do or say may have either a constructive or destructive effect on other people, particularly spiritually weak Christians who may have problems understanding the nature of Christian liberty. The concept of a "weaker brother" means that Christians are not at liberty to do anything which offends the conscience of a brother in Christ. The texts we will use to justify this principle make it very clear that everything that is lawful may not actually enhance the spiritual walk of others. If one insists on doing something which may appear to some to be questionable, and he does this at the risk of causing a brother to stumble, then he demonstrates his willingness to put a fragile spiritual life in great peril. In doing so, he sins. Furthermore, the Bible also teaches us that the Christian must also be sensitive to the conscience of a non-Christian.
I Corinthians 8:1-13, 10:23-33, and Romans 14:14-23 are the passages which give the clearest understanding of this principle. Actually, these passages are a further elaboration of what it means to love one's neighbor (cf. Matthew 22:28; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; and James 2:8). As we have already said, many of the Corinthian Christians were Gentiles who were coming out of idolatrous backgrounds. Consequently, some of the old pagan customs were still sensitive issues to their consciences.
In Corinth, it was the practice to celebrate festive occasions with an animal sacrifice offered to some pagan god or idol, and then eat the animal. These events were often held in the temples dedicated to these false gods. What was not eaten of the sacrificed animal was often offered for sale in the local meat market. As it was difficult, if not impossible, to identify the meat that had been so “used,” it was quite possible that a Christian buying meat in the market might purchase this “used” meat. Evidently, some of the Christians who came out of pagan backgrounds had not matured enough to overcome the meaning they had previously attached to such things. Some in the Corinthian church were being offended by the careless attitude of others in regard to the eating of this meat. In this context, the apostle sets forth a simple principle. Chapter eight contains his basic instructions on the subject. Whatever we do, we must not “wound...[the] weak conscience” of a brother. If we do so, we sin against Christ Himself. Chapter ten extends this principle even to non-Christians (verses 27-29). In other words, we must be careful to “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God“ (verse 32). In Romans 14:14-23, the apostle expounds on the law of love and how it relates to this issue.
The Fourth Principle
In society there must be some sort of authoritative structure to ensure order. Anarchy and chaos result when everyone does that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). Under such circumstances, everyone goes his own way, soing his own thing. But, eventually the various paths cross. When they do, there is bound to be trouble. If society is going to resolve conflicts, protect individuals, and promote the general well-being of its inhabitants, there must be some kind of order. According to the Bible, certain relationships and their roles have been established for the ongoing of society. The roles and functions prescribed for each person in these relationships serve as the glue that holds society together.
According to the Bible, the most fundamental social relationship is the family. The Biblical model for this unit prescribes roles for the husband-wife and parent-child relationships. Outside the family, the Bible prescribes other roles and relationships. For example, roles and functions are set for the employer-employee (or master-slave) and government-citizen relationships. Fundamentally, the essence of each of these relationships is that of head-subject or leader-follower. Of course, in modern circles, the idea of submission raises people's wrath. Nevertheless, can any social relationship function without there being someone willing to submit to some degree? Any law, or policy, whether decreed or voted on, means someone will have to follow and accept the will of another.
However, it must be clearly understood that there is a limit to which one is expected to submit in any such relationship. This right to resist is not rooted in selfish defiance of those in authority over us, but in the fact that those in authority over us cannot require us to submit to them if they are asking us to do something contrary to the God's word. Our ultimate authority is the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one has the right to ask us to do anything that would violate this relationship.
The system of headship prescribed in the Bible regulates the horizontal relationships of human social interaction, but only so far as these relationships do not violate one's vertical relationship with God. If something the Christian is thinking about doing contradicts the express will of his duly authorized spiritual head, then it is sin. We must always remember that the spiritual head is placed over the individual by God. As such, the head has the authority of God unless he negates his own position by expecting other to sin by submitting to his authority.
The key passages that expound this principle are Ephesians 5:22-6:9 and Romans 13:1-7. Other passages that teach this same principle are Colossians 3:18-4:1 and I Peter 2:11-3:7. The key to understanding these relationships is the word “submit.” The Greek word hupotasso was used in military settings and meant “to draw up in order of battle, to form, array, marshal.” According to Strong's Concordance, the word meant “to arrange under; to subject one's self, obey.” As we have already pointed out, to discuss the concept of submission in modern settings often provokes rage. Independence movements, women's right's movements, et cetera, all resist such a notion. This, in many cases, has been brought on by the abuse of rights by the spiritual head. The husband, parent, master, employer, and government official, contrary to what some seem to think, do not have the right to exercise absolute dictatorial control over their subjects. They have been given their positions by God in order to lead and guide those in submission with a selfless love. It is unfortunate, but truth, that sin frequently interferes with these God-ordained relationships. For this system to work as God intended, the heads must remember at all times that they too are in submission to God. This will rule out any arrogance on the part of the spiritual head.
In summary, if something is going to be correct ethically, it must not cause us to go against the rightful will of our spiritual head or heads.
The Fifth Principle
This principle is really the practical extension of the second and third principle. Paul's whole argument in addressing the various issues at Corinth is that whatever one does in regard to ethical questions, in the final analysis, it ought to glorify God. In I Corinthians 10:31, Paul summarizes his entire appeal that ran through the preceding four chapters by saying: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” The idea is clear—all things are to ultimately glorify God!
Admittedly, discerning whether something will glorify God can be highly subjective. Yet, at the same time, it can be very practical. Faith, the Bibles tells us, comes by hearing God's word (Romans 10:17). Consequently, if we are going to do something that will glorify God, it must be done by faith. This means we ought to have book, chapter, and verse for what we are thinking about doing. If we don't have Biblical authority, then what we are about to do is sinful. Furthermore, if we don't know whether we have Bible authority to do a particular thing, and we do it anyway, we sin by violating our conscience (Romans 14:23) and could not possibly glorify God in such a thing.
In Conclusion
We have now considered a model for developing a Biblical ethic based on five scriptural principles. You must bring to this model a willingness to seek, find, and follow the will of God regarding any particular ethical issue. If you do so, I am convinced that you will know how the Lord wants you to conduct yourself ethically (John 7:17).

"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Chapter Eleven by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                             Chapter Eleven


1) To appreciate the value of benevolence and diligence in preparing for
   the future

2) To glean what counsel the Preacher offers for those who are young


In this chapter the Preacher begins with encouraging benevolence and
diligence as ways to guard against the uncertain future.  By casting our
bread upon the waters, willing to offer servings to many, and not
withholding our hands in the evening, our benevolence may serve us well
in the future should evil befall us.  Likewise, things may happen beyond
our ability to control or comprehend, but diligence in sowing seed and
being mindful of the dark days to come can help to prepare us for their
coming (1-8).

This chapter also introduces counsel from the Preacher designed
especially for the young.  The young man is encouraged to rejoice,
letting his heart cheer him.  He is told to walk in the ways of his
heart and in the sight of his eyes, yet with the knowledge that God will
hold him accountable for all that he does.  So remove sorrow (i.e.,
rejoice!).  But also put away evil during the fleeting years of
childhood and youth (9-10).



      1. Cast your bread upon the waters, you will find it after many
      2. Give servings to seven, and to eight, for you do not know what
         evil will come

      1. Many things (like rain and wind storms) are inevitable (3-4)
         a. We cannot stop the clouds full of rain from falling
         b. Trees will lie wherever they fall
         c. If we spend our time just watching and not doing, we will
            not sow and reap
      2. There are things we cannot comprehend (5-6)
         a. Like the way of the wind (or spirit)
         b. Like the development of the child in the womb
         c. We cannot comprehend God's working; therefore do not
            restrict your efforts
      3. There will be days of darkness (7-8)
         a. It is great to be alive when one is well
            1) The light is sweet
            2) It is pleasant to behold the sun
         b. But even if one lives many joyful days, they should know
            that evil days will come


      1. Let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth
      2. Walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes
      1. God will bring you into judgment
      2. You will answer for all that you do

      1. Remove sorrow from your heart
      2. Put away evil from your flesh
      3. For childhood and youth are vanity


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The value of benevolence and diligence (1-8)
   - Advice to the young (9-10)

2) Why does the Preacher encourage you to "cast your bread upon the
   waters"? (1)
   - It will come back to you after many days

3) Why does the Preacher counsel you to "give a serving to seven, and
   also to eight"? (2)
   - You do not know what evil will be on the earth

4) What is the point of these two admonitions?
   - To be liberal and largesse in your benevolence, for it may help you
     during difficult days in the future

5) What two examples are given of things that are inevitable? (3)
   - Clouds full of rain will empty themselves on the earth
   - Where a tree falls, there it will lie

6) What does the Preacher caution against? (4)
   - Watching the wind and clouds to the neglect of sowing and reaping

7) What two examples illustrate our limited ability to comprehend the
   ways of God? (5)
   - The way of the wind
   - How the bones of a child grow in the womb

8) How does the Preacher encourage diligence and benevolence? (6)
   - In the morning, sow your seed (diligence)
   - In the evening, do not withhold your hand (benevolence)

9) Why does he encourage diligence and benevolence? (6)
   - For we don't know which of the two will prosper, perhaps even both

10) What is described as sweet and pleasant? (7)
   - Light is sweet, and it is pleasant to behold the sun

11) If one is blessed to live many joyful years, what should he still
    bear in mind? (8)
   - The days of darkness, for they will be many and all that is coming
     is vanity

12) What does the Preacher encourage the young man to do? (9)
   - Rejoice in his youth
   - Let his heart cheer him in the days of his youth
   - Walk in the ways of his heart and in the sight of his eyes

13) Yet what does the Preacher also encourage him to remember? (9)
   - God will bring him into judgment for the things he does

14) So what else the Preacher counsel the young man to do?  Why? (10)
   - Remove sorrow from his heart, put away evil from his flesh
   - Childhood and youth are vanity (fleeting)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Chapter Ten by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                              Chapter Ten


1) To compare the harm of folly and the value of wisdom

2) To see the impact of folly on one's reputation, the government, and
in business


The Preacher continues to share wisdom that can help endure the many
vanities in life.   This chapter is filled with proverbial statements,
in which he first deplores folly and the affect it can have on one's
reputation (1-3). 

The Preacher also describes how folly is often manifested in government,
and in one's life and labors.  The land suffers when governed by foolish
men, and labor is made even more difficult.  Yet wisdom can bring
success to one's endeavors, and blessings to the land when found in the
conduct of those who lead (4-20).



      1. Like dead flies putrefy the perfumer's ointment
      2. So folly is to one respected for wisdom and honor

      1. The wise man's heart is at his right hand
      2. The fool's heart is at his left hand (in the wrong place)

      1. A fool walks along the way without wisdom
      2. He shows everyone that he is a fool


      1. Do not leave your post
      2. Allow conciliation to pacify great offense

      1. An evil observed by the Preacher (5-7)
         a. Error proceeding from the ruler
         b. Folly exalted while the rich are debased
         c. Servants in power while true princes are humbled
      2. Those who labor with foolishness hurt and hinder themselves
         a. As illustrated through several examples given by the
         b. The wisdom of the wise will know how to expedite his labors
      3. The foolish seldom know how to restrain themselves (11-15)
         a. They do not know how to hold their tongues
         b. They do not know how to direct their labor
      4. How folly and wisdom affect the condition of the country
         a. Woe to the land whose leaders...
            1) Are childish and feast in the morning
            2) Are lazy, resulting in broken down buildings
         b. Blessed is the land whose leaders...
            1) Feast at the proper time
            2) Successfully rule, providing for true happiness and
               meeting every need
      5. Be careful what you say (20)
         a. Do not curse the king
         b. Do not curse the rich
         c. For what you say will likely reach their ears


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Folly deplored (1-3)
   - Folly manifested (4-20)

2) What comparison is used to illustrate how folly ruins the reputation
   of the wise? (1)
   - As dead flies cause the perfumer's ointment to give off a foul odor

3) Where is the heart of a wise man?  The heart of the foolish man? (2)
   - At his right hand; at his left hand

4) When does the fool display his folly to everyone? (3)
   - Even when he walks along the way

5) How should one respond when the spirit of the ruler rises against
   them? (4)
   - By remaining at their post (i.e., maintaining their faithfulness)
   - By seeking conciliation

6) What evil had the Preacher seen under the sun pertaining to
   government? (5-7)
   - Error proceeding from the ruler
   - Folly set in great dignity while the rich are set in a lowly place
   - Servants on horses while princes walk on the ground

7) What four illustrations appear to depict the lack of wisdom in
   business? (8-9)
   - Digging a pit, then falling into it
   - Breaking through a wall, only to be bit by a serpent
   - Being hurt by the stone one quarries
   - Endangered by the wood one splits

8) When the ax is dull, what is required?  What will bring success? (10)
   - More strength; wisdom

9) To what is a babbler compared? (11)
   - A serpent that may bite when not charmed

10) How are the words of the wise?  What will the lips of a fool do to
    him? (12)
   - Gracious
   - Swallow him up

11) What do the words of a fool begin with?  How do they end? (13)
   - Foolishness; with raving madness

12) What else is said about a fool? (14-15)
   - He multiplies his words
   - His labor wearies him

13) When is there woe upon the land? (16)
   - When the king is a child, and the princes feast in the morning

14) When is a land blessed? (17)
   - When the king is the son of nobles, and princes feast at the proper

15) What is evidence of laziness and idleness? (18)
   - Decaying buildings and leaking houses

16) What observations are made about feasting, wine and money? (19)
   - Feasting is made for laughter
   - Wine makes merry
   - Money answers everything

17) Why should one not curse the king nor the rich? (20)
   - What you say (even in private) may eventually get back to them

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Chapter Nine by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                              Chapter Nine


1) To reflect upon the inevitability of death, and the uncertainty of

2) To consider how time and chance happens to all

3) To appreciate the importance of a joyful, diligent life, and heeding
   the words of the wise


The Preacher continues to share counsel gleaned from observations on
life made during his search for meaning.  He noted that all things come
alike to all, it matters not that you are righteous or wicked.  One
thing that certainly happens to all is death, after which one is soon
forgotten and has no share in this life (things done "under the sun"). 
Should one therefore despair?  No, the Preacher again encourages us to
live joyfully, especially with the wife of our youth, and to work
diligently in what time we have in this life.  Once you die, you won't
be able to continue your efforts in the grave.  This is our portion in
life, and God has already accepted our works (1-10).

The Preacher also observed that time and chance happens to all, and that
evil times come suddenly.  The uncertainty of life can be softened with
the aid of wisdom, which the Preacher praises as better than strength
and the weapons of war.  Thus the words of the wise should be heard,
even when spoken softly, or coming from a poor man (11-18).



      1. It happens to both the righteous and the wicked
         a. While the righteous are in God's hands
         b. And the sons of men are full of evil
      2. While we live, there is hope; when we die...
         a. We know nothing of what goes on here on earth
         b. Others' memory of us soon fades

   B. ENJOY LIFE (7-10)
      1. While death is inevitable, we should still enjoy life
      2. Live joyfully with the wife God has given you
      3. Work diligently while you are here; you won't be able to do
         anymore after you die


      1. Time and chance happens to all
         a. Being swift and strong does not mean you will always win
         b. Being wise, understanding, and skillful does not always
            ensure food, riches, or favor
      2. Sometimes death will come unexpectedly, like animals caught in
         a trap

   B. ESTEEM WISDOM (13-18)
      1. The Preacher saw how wisdom saved a city
         a. Even though found in a poor man
         b. Even though the man was soon forgotten
      2. Therefore he praises the value of wisdom
         a. As better than strength, though a poor man's wisdom is often
         b. As better than weapons of war, though spoken quietly by the


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Enduring the inevitability of death (1-10)
   - Enduring the uncertainty of life (11-18)

2) What did the Preacher consider about the righteous and the wise? (1)
   - They and their works are in the hand of God

3) What two observations did he make regarding the righteous and the
   wicked? (2-3)
   - All things come alike to all
   - One thing happens to all

4) What one event does he discuss that happens to everyone? (3-5)
   - Death

5) What two things does he see in the hearts of men? What happens to
   them? (3)
   - Evil, madness; they die

6) Who still has hope?  Why? (4-5)
   - Those who are living
   - For they know they will die

7) What is said of the dead? (5-6)
   - They know nothing, they have no more reward
   - The memory of them is forgotten
   - Their love, hatred, and envy have perished
   - They no longer have a share in things done "under the sun"

8) What does the Preacher counsel the living to do? (7-10)
   - Eat and drink your food with joy
   - Adorn yourself with good apparel
   - Live joyfully with the wife of your youth
   - Work diligently

9) What reasons does he give for such counsel? (7-10)
   - God has already accepted your works
   - That is your portion in life
   - There is no work, device, knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave

10) What other observations did the Preacher make about life? (11-12)
   - Time and chance happen to all men, despite their strength, wisdom,
     or skill
   - Evil times often come suddenly upon men

11) What observations did he make about the value of wisdom? (13-18)
   - Wisdom is better than strength
   - A poor man's wisdom is often despised
   - Quiet words of the wise should be heard rather than the shout of a
     ruler of fools
   - Wisdom is better than weapons of war

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Chapter Eight by Mark Copeland

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                             Chapter Eight


1) To glean wisdom for enduring evil and oppressive governments

2) To note the similarity between the Preacher's conclusion and the book
   of Job about the inability of man to discern all of the work of God


Among the "vanities" in life is living in circumstances over which we
have little control.  Such as the kind of government ruling the country
in which we live.  The Preacher observed that evil men are often in
positions of power, and offers his counsel for enduring such "vanity."

Wisdom is helpful, capable of softening one's countenance (so one is not
overly troubled?).  Submitting to governing authorities is important,
especially in view of the power wielded by those in authority.  There
will be times when the wicked rule, bringing misery.  Be patient, while
judgment against such evil may be delayed it will come in its own time
and the wicked will soon be forgotten after their demise.  In the
meantime, it is best to fear God (1-13).

Another "vanity" is how the righteous sometimes suffer while the wicked
prosper.  The Preacher reiterates his conclusion that it is best to seek
to enjoy what good God gives in one's labor under the sun.  Even the
wisest man is unable to discern all that God is doing, no matter how
hard he tries.  A lesson similar to the one taught in the book of Job



      1. Wisdom has its value, able to change one's countenance
      2. Obey the king's command, for God's sake
         a. Don't be hasty to leave the king's presence
         b. Don't take your stand for an evil thing
         c. Respect his power, and you will be unharmed
      3. A wise man will understand that judgment will come in it's own
         time, so don't resort to wickedness (i.e., rebellion) to 
         alleviate misery - cf. Ro 13:1-7; 1Pe 2:11-17

      1. There will be times when men rule to their own detriment
      2. They will soon be forgotten after their demise
      3. Why do some persist in their evil?
         a. Because their judgment does not occur immediately
         b. Even so, it is still better to fear God


   A. EXPECT PERPLEXITY (14, 16-17)
      1. Sometimes the righteous suffer, and the wicked prosper, which
         is vanity
      2. One cannot always understand why things happen the way they do
         (remember Job?)

   B. ENJOY LIFE (15)
      1. Delight in the fruits of your own labor
         a. Eat, drink, and be merry
         b. As you labor in the days God has given you in life under the
      2. The advice given throughout this book - 2:24-26; 3:12-13; 5:


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Enduring the governments of men (1-13)
   - Enduring the vanity in life (14-17)

2) What benefit does wisdom have? (1)
   - It can make the face of a man to shine, softening its sternness

3) Why should one be in submission to the king (i.e., government)? (2-4)
   - For God's sake
   - Because of the power which the king has at his disposal

4) Generally speaking, what will one experience who heeds the king's
   command? (5)
   - Nothing harmful

5) What will a wise man discern even though misery may increase greatly?
   - There is a time and judgment for every matter

6) What is said of those who are given to wickedness? (8)
   - Wickedness will not deliver them

7) What had the Preacher observed about the rule of men? (9)
   - There is a time when a man rules over another to his own hurt

8) What did he observe about the wicked who had come and gone from the
   place of holiness? (10)
   - They were soon forgotten after their death

9) Why were the hearts of some men set to do evil? (11)
   - Because the sentence against evil was not executed speedily

10) What did the Preacher conclude about a sinner whose days are
    prolonged? (12-13)
   - It will be well for those who fear God
   - It will not be well with the wicked

11) What did the Preacher describe as a vanity which occurs on the
    earth? (14)
   - There are just men who receive what should be for the wicked
   - There are wicked men who receive what should be for the righteous

12) In view of such vanity, what does the Preacher commend?  Why? (15)
   - To eat, drink, and be merry (i.e., enjoy life)
   - For this is what God gives to man as he labors in life under the

13) What did the Preacher conclude after diligently observing the
    business that is done on the earth? (16-17)
   - That no one can know all of the work of God, even if one is wise

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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


Antisemitism and the Crucifixion of Christ: Who Murdered Jesus?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

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


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


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

How I Would Prove to a Jury that the Bible is True by Robert C. Veil, J.D.


How I Would Prove to a Jury that the Bible is True

by Robert C. Veil, J.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A.P. auxiliary writer Robert Veil, Jr. formerly served as a district attorney for the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office, and previously maintained an active private law practice. He currently preaches in Martinsburg, West Virginia.]
The truthfulness of the Bible can be proven in much the same way that we prove cases to a jury every day. As a prosecutor, I had the responsibility of presenting numerous cases at trial, including a large number of jury trials. Working within the rules of evidence and procedure, I soon learned that juries are, for the most part, receptive to logical and reasonable arguments. They have an almost uncanny ability to hear cases presented and come to a fair verdict. They may not always get it right, but they usually do.
I also learned that the same type of logical arguments which are compelling to a jury can be formulated from the inspired biblical record. Proving the truthfulness of the Bible is no mysterious, incomprehensible exercise. It is done by the presentation of logical proof. And, at its most fundamental level, the Bible is an extremely logical and compelling book. It does not leave the reader depending upon mere hopes, wishes, and hunches. It is an evidentiary record (Hebrews 11:1).
The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God. But in a secular culture of increasing ignorance and doubt, these claims are often rejected without investigation. Fewer and fewer, it would seem, are willing to accept the Bible’s claim that it is the infallible and absolute truth of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:11-13). In teaching others how to be saved, we sometimes need to take a step back to a more basic question.
So, how would I prove to a jury that the Bible is true? I would do it the same way that I would prove any factual pattern or scenario. I would utilize the rules of evidence in presenting the case, and then emphasize the standards which the jury should apply in making a fair and correct decision based upon that evidence.
For example, it is commonly recognized in the various criminal justice systems of our land, that the jury can properly evaluate the credibility of witnesses. It can do this by considering such things as: (1) The witness’s opportunity to observe the things about which testimony was given; (2) The accuracy of the witness’s memory; (3) Whether the witness has a motive not to tell the truth; (4) Whether the witness has an interest in the outcome of the case; (5) Whether the witness’s testimony was consistent; (6) Whether the witness’s testimony was supported or contradicted by other evidence; and (7) Whether and to what extent the witness’s testimony in court differed from the statements made by the witness on any previous occasion (“3:10–Credibility…,” 1986).
Let us notice how these accepted standards can be applied in a specific Bible event: the empty tombActually, they can be applied in a similar fashion to most any major event recorded in the Bible. But we will use the incident involving the empty tomb because of its centrality to the gospel message, and because if it can be established, most of the other Bible events will readily fall into place.
First, we raise the question, who observed the empty tomb? Who are the witnesses? We recall that the Bible teaches, and good jurisprudence demands, that important matters must be established “at the mouth of two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16). Interestingly, the witnesses to the empty tomb more than satisfy this corroboration requirement. They are listed in the complimentary accounts of John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke as follows: Mary Magdalene, the “other” Mary, Mary the mother of James (that is, James the less, or Jacob), Salome, Joanna, and “other” women. Also of significance is the fact that there are actually two different “layers” of witnesses, since both John and Peter arrived at the scene as well.
These individuals are among the last people to see the Lord before He died. They had an excellent opportunity to observe the events immediately preceding His death, as well as His body after crucifixion. Most of them were in close proximity to Jesus throughout His intensive ministry, and they had an excellent opportunity to observe the facts in question.
Their memory has never been seriously questioned. There is not the slightest indication that any of them suffered from mental illness, delusional episodes, senility, or mental impairment of any kind. Both John and Peter went on to write detailed narratives and well-reasoned statements of doctrine and instruction. None of them would appear to have had any trouble recalling the events, and there is no indication that any of them ever deviated from their recollection of the empty tomb. If they had given conflicting reports due to failing memory, such would no doubt have been published broadly, but history records no such discrepancies.
Second, we cannot help but notice the details in the record. Details are signs of credibility. They tend to establish a witness’s opportunity to observe the events in question, and they show a carefulness typical of truthful testimony.
John details these events as occurring “on the first day of the week,” “early,” and “while it was yet dark” (John 20:1). Matthew’s account is consistent, but utilizes language which might be expected with a Jewish audience: “after the Sabbath.” He then provides an additional detail: “as the first day of the week began to dawn” (Matthew 28:1). Another mark of truthfulness is the fact that these accounts use language which at first glance appears to be contradictory. The contradiction disappears upon a realization that Matthew is framing the time with a Jewish mindset, as opposed to John’s description. But that realization may not be at first apparent, and if these accounts were falsified (developed in collusion), it is hard to understand why they would not have simply used the same language, rather than what at first seems inconsistent. Mark, reverting to a Gentile mindset, sets the time as “when the Sabbath was past” (Mark 16:1) and adds yet another detail: “very early on the first day of the week, when the sun was risen” (Mark 16:2). Again, one wonders why language was used, which at first seems contradictory, if this is a concocted account. Typically, when witnesses are falsifying a story, they try to present their accounts using identical language. This, then, becomes another mark of truthfulness, particularly when all three accounts are read together, which suggests that these events occurred after the Sun was risen, but just barely risen, in the early morning, while it was still largely dark. Such an understanding comports well with Luke’s detailed observations that the events occurred “on the first day of the week at early dawn” (Luke 24:1).
Thus, when all of these details are considered together, we get a consistent and complete picture of the time of these occurrences. Yet it reads like truthful testimony, each using slightly different wording, providing additional detail, seeming at first to be contradictory, but upon closer examination stating an accurate account.
If four witnesses had taken the stand in court and described an early-dawn occurrence as depicted here, it is difficult to imagine a more believable sequence of testimony. Had it been manufactured pursuant to some preconceived plot, it would have been much more uniform, but far less believable. The differences provide helpful details, and do not amount to contradictions or discrepancies in fact. On the contrary, they provide helpful and credible pieces of the overall picture. After reading and considering each of them, we get the confident conviction that we understand exactly what occurred.
There are a great many other details, which, if they are not truthful, are unexplainable. John tells us that, as between him and Peter, he arrived at the empty tomb first (John 20:4). Mark informs us that the women brought spices that they might “anoint him” (Mark 16:1), and Luke adds that the women brought spices which they themselves had prepared (Luke 24:1). Such details have the ring of truthfulness. Further, John advises us that he stooped and looked into the tomb (John 20:5). Mark actually provides details of the conversation the women had on their way to the tomb regarding who would roll away the stone (Mark 16:3). Luke offers the interesting detail that Peter ran to the tomb (Luke 24:12). Upon arrival, John tells us that he saw the linen cloths lying there (John 20:5), but Luke adds that Peter saw the linens by themselves (Luke 24:12). John agrees that Peter saw the linen cloths, but adds the telling fact that he saw a napkin separate from the cloths, “in a place by itself” (John 20:6-7). Why would such details be included if they were not true? Details provided in a witness’s testimony are marks of truthfulness, especially when they appear to serve no other purpose, because they end up establishing overall credibility of the narrative.
Third, we notice some things which might have been omitted in these accounts, had they been manufactured for some deceptive purpose. These are relatively small insertions which would not be necessary to advance a false narrative. For example, it is a consistent trait of human nature that people do not usually include “unflattering” details about themselves, especially if they are not necessary to the narrative. Mark provides the unflattering detail that the women did not speak to others after this occurrence out of simple fear (Mark 16:8). Indeed, the women are seen, not in some artificial and well-reasoned conspiracy, but in a completely believable state of confusion, failing to even consider who would roll away the mighty stone until they were well on their way to the tomb. Such details, however unflattering, are completely consistent with actual human events. They are typical of what people really do, not of what people say they do.
Mary’s pitiful, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2), so typical of an exasperated and unplanned predicament, shows that she did not at all comprehend what had really occurred in the resurrection of Christ. Such is an unflattering admission, written long after the events, which would have been corrected had it not been true.
Nor do the apostles escape this less-than-complimentary treatment. Luke concedes that the report of the women “seemed as idle talk” to the apostles, and admits very plainly that they did not believe them (Luke 24:11). If they can be avoided, people do not usually include details which make themselves look bad. John, for example, admits that after he had out run Peter to the tomb, he hesitated and did not enter. But Peter boldly did, a fact included by John himself which appears to be unaccounted for unless it is true. It is also stated that the apostles, who later had such a commendable understanding of God’s plan, at the time simply left the tomb and went to their own homes. Such behavior, being fully characteristic of confused and exhausted men, would be inexplicable were it not true. People making up a story do not usually include distasteful or disagreeable details about themselves.
Finally we notice the consistency in these accounts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each describe the same event. Yet their language is quite dissimilar, far from a mere copy of each other. Such consistency is a mark of truthfulness. It has the indicia of reliability, and does not read like accounts which were deliberately manufactured to advance a false story. Each writer approaches the story from a different cultural background and expresses it in words and concepts consistent with his audience. The accounts are not contradictory but supplementary. By reading all of the narratives in full, one gets a complete understanding of what occurred. Likewise, reading only one or two narratives leaves questions and an incomplete perception. This suggests an over-arching Guide in these writings, a higher control, which guaranteed that all of the necessary information was included. It verifies the Bible claim that these writings are inspired by God.
Our faith is founded upon evidence (Hebrews 11:1). The evidence adduced from these credible witnesses is believable and compelling. It certainly proves the narrative beyond any reasonable doubt. If there is any remaining doubt, one might well ask how could a band of working-class fishermen and women “cook up” such a well-documented event? If they had lied, the accounts would not bear such marks of truthfulness and credibility. Further, if they had lied, they would have had to have maintained those lies consistently to their deaths. Believing such a thing would stretch credibility beyond its limits.
If I were trying this case before a jury, I would summarize the evidence we have and point out these standards which the jury should apply. When that is done, the conclusion becomes obvious: There is no reasonable and proper explanation, except that the events described in the Bible concerning the empty tomb are true.


“3:10–Credibility of Witnesses” (1986), Maryland Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions (MCPJI)(Baltimore, MD: MICPEL, Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.).

God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


The Law of Cause and Effect states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. The mass of a paper clip is not going to provide sufficient gravitational pull to cause a tidal wave. There must be an adequate cause for the tidal wave, like a massive, offshore, underwater earthquake (“Tsunamis,” 2000, p. 1064). Leaning against a mountain will certainly not cause it to topple over. Jumping up and down on the ground will not cause an earthquake. If a chair is not placed in an empty room, the room will remain chairless. If matter was not made and placed in the Universe, we would not exist. There must be an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause for every material effect. Perhaps the Law of Cause and Effect seems intuitive to most, but common sense is foreign to many when God is brought into the discussion.


The Law of Cause and Effect, or Law/Principle of Causality, has been investigated and recognized for millennia. In Phaedo, written by Plato in 360 B.C., an “investigation of nature” is spoken of concerning causality, wherein “the causes of everything, why each thing comes into being and why it perishes and why it exists” are discussed (Plato, 1966, 1:96a-b, emp. added). In 350B.C., Aristotle contributed more to the causality discussion by stipulating that causes can be “spoken of in four senses”: material, formal, efficient, and final (Aristotle, 2009, 1[3]). Moving forward two millennia in no way changed the established fact pressed by the Law of Cause and Effect. In 1781, the renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote concerning the Principle of Causality in his Critique of Pure Reason that “everything that happens presupposes a previous condition, which it follows with absolute certainty, in conformity with a rule.... All changes take place according to the law of the connection of Cause and Effect” (Kant, 1781). Fast forwarding another 350 years, our understanding of the world still did not cause the law to be discredited. In 1934, W.T. Stace, professor of philosophy at Princeton University, in A Critical History of Greek Philosophy, wrote:
Every student of logic knows that this is the ultimate canon of the sciences, the foundation of them all. If we did not believe the truth of causation, namely, everything which has a beginning has a cause, and that in the same circumstances the same things invariably happen, all the sciences would at once crumble to dust. In every scientific investigation this truth is assumed (1934, p. 6, emp. added).
The truth of causality is so substantiated that it is taken for granted in scientific investigation.

A few decades later, the Law of Cause and Effect still had not been repealed. In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Richard Taylor wrote, “Nevertheless, it is hardly disputable that the idea of causation is not only indispensable in the common affairs of life but in all applied sciences as well” (1967, p. 57, emp. added). Even today, when scientific exploration has brought us to unprecedented heights of knowledge, the age old Law of Causality cannot be denied. Today’s dictionaries define “causality” as:
  • “the principle that nothing can happen without being caused” (“Causality,” 2009).
  • “the principle that everything has a cause” (“Causality,” 2008).
Indeed, the Law of Cause and Effect is not, and cannot rationally be, denied—except when necessary in order to prop up a deficient worldview. Its ramifications have been argued for years, but after the dust settles, the Law of Cause and Effect still stands unscathed, having weathered the trials thrust upon it for thousands of years.


Creationists have absolutely no problem with the truth articulated by this God-ordained law from antiquity. The Bible, in essence, articulated the principle millennia ago when in Hebrews 3:4 it says that “every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” A house must have a cause—namely, a builder. It will not build itself. However, evolutionists are left in a quandary when trying to explain how the effect of the infinitely complex Universe could have come about without a cause. Three decades ago, Robert Jastrow, founder and former director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, wrote:
The Universe, and everything that has happened in it since the beginning of time, are a grand effect without a known cause. An effect without a known cause? That is not the world of science; it is a world of witchcraft, of wild events and the whims of demons, a medieval world that science has tried to banish. As scientists, what are we to make of this picture? I do not know. I would only like to present the evidence for the statement that the Universe, and man himself, originated in a moment when time began (1977, p. 21).
When Jastrow says that there is no “known cause” for everything in the Universe, he is referring to the fact that there is no known natural cause. If atheism were true, there must be a natural explanation of what caused the Universe. Scientists and philosophers recognize that there must be a cause that would be sufficient to bring about matter and the Universe—and yet no natural cause is known. The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms says that “causality,” in physics, is “the principle that an event cannot precede its cause” (2003, p. 346). However, the atheist must concede that in order for his/her claim to be valid, the effect of the Universe not only preceded its cause, but actually came about without it! Such a viewpoint is hardly in keeping with science. Scientifically speaking, according to the Law of Cause and Effect, there had to be a Cause for the Universe. The only book on the planet which contains characteristics that prove its production to be above human capability is the Bible (see Butt, 2007). The God of the Bible is its author (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and in the very first verse of the inspired material He gave to humans, He articulated with authority and clarity that He is the Cause Who brought about the Universe and all that is in it.


Often the atheist or skeptic, attempting to distract and side-step the truth of this law without responding to it, retorts, “But if everything had to have a beginning, why does the same concept not apply to God?” Notice that this statement is based on a misunderstanding of what the Law of Cause and Effect claims concerning the Universe. The law states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. The God of the Bible is a spiritual Being (John 4:24) and therefore is not governed by physical law.

Recall also what Professor W.T. Stace wrote in A Critical History of Greek Philosophy concerning causality. “[E]verything which has a beginning has a cause” (1934, p. 6, emp. added). As mentioned above, scientists and philosophers recognize that, logically, there must be an initial cause of the Universe. [Those who attempt to argue the eternality of the Universe are in direct contradiction with the Second Law of Thermodynamics (see Miller, 2007).] However, God, not being a physical, finite being, but an eternal, spiritual being (by definition), would not be subject to the condition of requiring a beginning. Therefore, the law does not apply to Him. Psalm 90:2 says concerning God, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (emp. added). The Bible describes God as a Being who has always been and always will be—“from everlasting to everlasting.” He, therefore, had no beginning. Hebrews 3:4 again states, “every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God,” indicating that God is not constrained by the Law of Cause and Effect as are houses, but rather, is the Chief Builder—the Uncaused Causer—the Being who initially set all effects into motion. The point stands. The Law of Cause and Effect supports the creation model, not the atheistic evolutionary model.


Aristotle (2009), Metaphysics, trans. W.D. Ross, http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/metaphysics.1.i.html.

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press),http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Behold%20the%20Word%20of%20God.pdf.

“Causality” (2009), Collins English Dictionary—Complete & Unabridged, 10th ed. (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers), http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Causality?x=35&y=25.

“Causality” (2008), Concise Oxford English Dictionary, (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press), http://www.wordreference.com/definition/causality.

Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton).

Kant, Immanuel (1781), The Critique of Pure Reason, trans. J.M.D. Meiklejohn (London: Henry G. Bohn), 1878 edition, http://philosophy.eserver.org/kant/critique-of-pure-reason.txt.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (2003), pub. M.D. Licker (New York: McGraw-Hill), sixth edition.

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

Plato (1966), Plato in Twelve Volumes, trans. Harold North Fowler (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0170%3Atext%3DPhaedo%3Asection%3D96a.

Stace, W.T. (1934), A Critical History of Greek Philosophy (London: Macmillan and Co.).

Taylor, Richard (1967), “Causation,” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Paul Edwards (New York: Philosophical Library).

“Tsunamis” (2000), The Oxford Companion to the Earth, ed. Paul L. Hancock & Brian J. Skinner (Oxford University Press).