The Omnipresence Of God Allan Turner

The Omnipresence Of God
Allan Turner
The God who is eternal, and therefore not limited by time, is omnipresent, and not limited by space (Psalm 139:7-10; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:23,24). He is universally present to all of space at all times. Even so, this does not mean that He is dispersed throughout the infinite reaches of space, so that every part of space has at least a little part of God. In other words, God is not present in all space; He is, instead, present to all of space. This means that the unlimited God in His whole being is present at every point of our space. Perhaps a better way to express God's omnipresence is to say that all space is immediately present before Him.
God's omnipresence does not prevent Him from manifesting Himself in a localized place. In fact, although His self-existent, eternal, and infinite Being is present to all of space equally, He has, on occasion, entered space at specific points and become present in it for a specific purpose. These “theophanies,” as they are called, most often involved redemption. For example, the pillar of cloud bearing the glory of God that appeared before the Israelites (Exodus 33:9; 40:34; I Kings 8:10ff) is but one example of such a case. Of course, the most dramatic incident of God entering time and space was the incarnation itself (John 1:14; I Timothy 3:16). Consequently, Jesus was called Immanuel, or “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). But, in entering time and space, God, in His self-existent, eternal, and infinite Being, did not cease to be omnipresent. He was, in fact, still present to every point of space, holding everything together by the word of His power (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). In fact, it is evidently the omnipresence of “God with us” that is the subject of John 3:13, which says, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of God who is in heaven.” If omnipresence is not under discussion, then pray tell me what is? Remember, these words were being spoken by God Himself while manifested here on this earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Another example of God interjecting Himself into time and space would be the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), as well as His indwelling of the body of every Christian (I Corinthians 6:19). “Mind-boggling,” you say? Yes, but such is the nature of the great I AM.

"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" Chapter Eleven by Mark Copeland

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                             Chapter Eleven


1) To understand how God has not totally rejected His people of Israel

2) To see the possibility of apostasy for us today

3) To understand Paul's summary conclusion for this section (Chs. 9-11)


Paul concluded chapter ten with a quotation from Isaiah describing the
nation of Israel as "a disobedient and contrary people."  Paul begins
chapter eleven by giving several examples to show that despite this
rebellion God has not totally rejected His people (1-6).

What God has done, however, is harden the hearts of the rebellious 
Israelites (7-10).  But the outcome of this "hardening" led to 
salvation coming to the Gentiles, which in turn God was using to 
provoke Israel to jealousy in an attempt to win them back to Him.
This is also why Paul magnified his ministry to the Gentiles, hoping
to save some of his countrymen by provoking them to jealousy (11-15).

Paul then directs his attention to the Gentile believers, explaining
that their obedience allowed them to be "grafted" into Israel to
replace those removed by their own disobedience.  This "grafting," 
however, is permanent only as long as they remain faithful.  In 
addition, if any Israelites repent of their unbelief, they too can be 
grafted back in (16-24).

As Paul draws to a conclusion, he explains that this is how "all 
Israel" will be saved.  Through a "hardening in part" mercy can now be 
shown to the Gentiles, and by showing mercy to the Gentiles mercy will 
be available to disobedient Israel.  In this way Paul can say that "God 
has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on 
all", proving that God is no respecter of persons and makes His plan of 
salvation available to all (25-32).  Paul ends this section with a 
doxology praising the wisdom and knowledge of God (33-36).



      1. Paul himself (1)
      2. There is a remnant, just as in the days of Elijah (2-5a)
      3. A remnant according to grace, not works (5b-6)

      1. An "elect" have been saved, the rest were hardened (7)
      2. This "hardening" foretold by Scriptures (8-10)


      1. Salvation to the Gentiles an incentive for the Jews to repent
      2. This is one reason why Paul magnified his ministry to the
         Gentiles (13-16)

      1. Gentiles are but "wild branches" grafted in to the root 
      2. To replace "broken branches", true, but can just as easily be
         displaced and replaced (19-24)

      1. Hardening is partial, until the fulness of the Gentiles come 
         in (25)
      2. In this way all Israel will be saved (26-27)
      3. They may be enemies of the gospel, but they are beloved by God
      4. And they may obtain mercy just as the Gentiles did (29-32)



"so all Israel will be saved" - in this manner will true Israel be


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - God Has Not Totally Rejected Israel (1-10)
   - Hardening Of Israel To Benefit Israel (11-32)
   - Paul's Hymn Of Praise To God (33-36)

2) What example does Paul use to show that God has not totally rejected
   the people of Israel? (1)
   - Himself

3) Why did God harden the rebellious Jews? (11-12)
   - So salvation might be presented to the Gentiles

4) Why was salvation allowed to come to the Gentiles? (11-14)
   - To provoke the rebellious Jews to jealousy that they might repent

5) What condition is necessary to remain in the "tree of Israel"?
   - Continuing in faith

6) How will "all Israel" be saved? (25-26)
   - By a partial hardening of Israel, to allow Gentiles to come in and
     to provoke rebellious Jews to repent

7) What is Paul's summary on God's dealings with Israel? (32)
   - "God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have
     mercy on all"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" Chapter Ten by Mark Copeland

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                              Chapter Ten


1) To see the importance of combining zeal with knowledge

2) To understand that Israel had plenty of opportunity to heed the
   gospel of Christ, but for the most part they had rejected it


As Paul continues to explain God's dealings with the nation of Israel, 
he repeats his expression of love towards them (1).  Though as a nation
they had plenty of zeal, unfortunately their zeal was not according to
knowledge (2).  Thus they rejected the righteousness of God while 
trying to establish their own righteousness through the Law of Moses.  
But Paul explains that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and has 
brought it to an end (3-4).

The righteousness God now offers is based upon faith in Christ, not 
keeping the Law.  It involves not the accomplishment of some great feat 
(like ascending to heaven or descending to hell), but such things as 
confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised Him from the 
dead (5-10).  As foretold by Scripture, it is offered to all, both Jew 
and Gentile (11-13).  And it is offered through the medium of preaching 
the Word (14-15).

The problem with the nation of Israel, then, is that not all of them 
received the gospel message, even when they had ample opportunity 
(16-18).  But as Moses predicted, the day would come when God would 
provoke Israel to jealousy by another people, who Isaiah said did not 
seek God yet found Him, while Israel was constantly rebelling against 
Him (19-21).



      1. That Israel be saved, for they have zeal but not knowledge
      2. Through ignorance, they seek to save themselves by the Law,
         and do not submit to God's righteousness in Christ which 
         brings an end to the Law (3-4)

      1. Righteousness of the Law as defined by Moses (5)
      2. Righteousness by faith as defined by Paul (6-15)
         a. Involves the mouth and the heart (6-8)
         b. Involves confessing Jesus and believing in His resurrection
         c. Offered to all who believe and call on Him (11-13)
         d. Accomplished through the medium of preaching (14-15)


      1. As Isaiah predicted (16)
      2. Even though they had ample opportunity (17-18)

      SCRIPTURES (19-21)
      1. As spoken by Moses (19)
      2. As spoken by Isaiah (20-21)


confess - lit., to speak the same thing, to assent, accord, agree
          with...; to declare openly by way of speaking out freely,
          such confession being the effect of deep conviction of facts
          (Mt 10:32; Ro 10:9,10) - VINE


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Israel's Refusal Of God's Righteousness (1-15)
   - Israel's Neglect Of The Gospel (16-21)

2) What was Paul's prayer in behalf of the nation of Israel? (1)
   - That they may be saved

3) What was good about them?  What was wrong with them (2)
   - They have a zeal for God
   - But not according to knowledge

4) Why was Israel not submitting to the righteousness of God? (3)
   - In ignorance they were seeking to establish their own 

5) What should one confess?  What should one believe? (9-10)
   - The Lord Jesus (or, that Jesus is Lord)
   - That God raised Jesus from the dead

6) For whom is righteousness by faith intended? (11-13)
   - Whoever believes and calls upon the name of the Lord

7) What begins the process which finally enables one to call upon the
   Lord? (14-15)
   - The sending out of preachers

8) How does one come to have faith? (17)
   - By hearing the word of God

9) Did the Jews have opportunity to call upon the Lord? (18)
   - Yes, for the gospel had been spread to the ends of the world

10) How did God say He was going to make His people jealous? (19-20)
    - By making Himself manifest to those who had not been seeking Him
      (the Gentiles)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" Chapter Nine by Mark Copeland

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                              Chapter Nine


1) To appreciate why and how God could choose to reject the nation of
   Israel (except for a remnant) and accept people from among the


With the conclusion of chapter eight Paul has completed his description
of how God's righteousness was manifested in Christ, and the results of
such justification.  However, some of Paul's readers may have received
the impression that God's plan of saving man in Christ apart from the
Law (3:21-22) implies that God has rejected His people of Israel and
the promises made to them.  In chapters nine through eleven, Paul
explains that God has not rejected His people.

Paul first expresses his own concern for his fellow Israelites (1-2).  
If it would do any good, Paul would gladly be condemned in order to
save his brethren who had been the recipients of so many blessings

But Paul quickly states that God's promises had not failed.  He reminds 
them that true Israel is not simply the physical descendants of Israel, 
any more than the promises to Abraham were to be carried out through 
all of Abraham's descendants just because they are his physical 
descendants.  Rather, it depends upon what God has chosen according to 
His Divine purpose.  This is illustrated by contrasting what the 
Scriptures reveal about Isaac and Ishmael, and then about Jacob and 
Esau (6-13).

That God has made such distinction is illustrated further with the 
example of Pharaoh, where God chose to show mercy to some while He 
hardened others [who had already persistently rejected God's mercy, 
MAC] (14-18).  That God has the right to make such choices is His as 
the potter over the clay (19-21).

So God chose to endure "vessels of wrath" with much longsuffering, that 
He might make known His glorious riches to "vessels of mercy" [a point 
expanded upon further in chapter eleven, MAC] (22-23).  And who are 
these "vessels of mercy"?  They consist of Gentiles, and a remnant of 
Israel, as foretold by Hosea and Isaiah (24-29).

Paul's conclusion?  That God's words of promise were not just to the 
fleshly descendants of Abraham (as the Jews would have it), but to the 
faithful remnant of Israel and to the Gentiles who accepted the 
righteousness which is by faith.  The only reason any of the Israelites 
were rejected by God was because of their rejection of the Messiah, 
even as Isaiah foretold (30-33).



      1. His conscience and the Holy Spirit bear witness to his great
         sorrow and grief (1-2)
      2. He would even be willing to be cut off from Christ for their
         sakes (3)

      1. Including the covenants, the Law, the promises (4)
      2. Of whom are the patriarchs, and of course, Christ Himself (5)


      1. They are not all Israel who have descended from Israel (6)
      2. As illustrated with Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau (7-13)
      3. According to God's purpose, whose choice was not based upon
         works (11)

      1. Possible only through His Mercy (14-16)
      2. Just as Pharaoh was the object of His Wrath (17-18)
      3. God's right to choose the objects of His mercy and His wrath

      1. Not of Jews only, as foretold by Hosea (24-26)
      2. But only a remnant of Israel, as foretold by Isaiah (27-29)


      1. Though they had not actively been looking for it (30a)
      2. Yet many have attained righteousness through faith (30b)

   B. FOR ISRAEL (31-33)
      1. Though diligent for the Law, did not have the attitude of
         faith (31-32a)
      2. And therefore stumbled over Christ, as foretold by Isaiah


harden - to make callous, to make strong; can be accomplished in two
         ways:  1) INDIRECTLY, by providing occasion to repent or
         resist (eg: as when judgment is delayed, Ro 2:4-5), and
         2) DIRECTLY, by strengthening those who rebel so as to
         contrast power, mercy, or judgment (for example, a)  Pharaoh,
         to show God's power, Ex 9:12-16; b)  Israel, to show God's 
         mercy, Ro 11:7-11,31; c)  those who disbelieve, to show God's
         judgment, 2Th 2:9-12

remnant - a small portion of the whole; Isaiah foretold only a remnant 
          of Israel would be saved (Ro 9:27-29)

the Stumbling Stone - a reference to Jesus (cf. 1Pe 2:6-8)


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Paul's Concern For His Brethren Of Israel (1-5)
   - The True Children Of God (6-29)
   - The Basis Of God's Choice: Faith vs. No Faith (30-33)

2) How much love did Paul have for the nation of Israel? (2-3)
   - Enough to be lost if it would do any good

3) Who are the true children of God? (8)
   - Children of promise, not children of flesh

4) What does God have the right to do? (18)
   - To show mercy on who He wills, and to harden who He wills

5) What O.T. prophet foretold that Gentiles would be a part of the 
   people of God? (25-26)
   - Hosea

6) What did Isaiah say would happen to the nation of Israel (27)
   - Only a remnant would be saved

7) Why are Gentiles among the saved? (30)
   - Because of faith

8) Why are some Israelites going to be lost? (31-33)
   - They trusted more in the keeping of the Law, and did not believe 
     in Christ

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" Chapter Eight by Mark Copeland

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                             Chapter Eight


1) To appreciate the place the Holy Spirit has in the lives of

2) To notice the power to overcome sin which is available in Christ

3) To realize the extent of God's love toward us


In chapter seven, Paul described the dilemma of a man who becomes a 
prisoner of the law of sin which is in the members of his body.  In 
the last few verses, Paul made reference to the hope of liberation 
made possible by God through Jesus Christ.  In this chapter, Paul
amplifies on the freedom from sin found in Christ.

First, for those in Christ who are walking according to the Spirit, 
there is no condemnation for sin, for the death of Christ for sin has 
set us free from the law of sin and death by fulfilling the 
requirement of the law (1-4).  Second, by setting our minds on the 
things of the Spirit and not the flesh, we are able to enjoy life and 
peace, pleasing God (5-8).  And third, we now enjoy the indwelling of 
the Spirit of God, by whom we can put to death the deeds of the body 
and enjoy both present and future blessings as the children of God 

The blessings of being God's children are enlarged upon in the rest of 
the chapter.  Our present sufferings mean nothing in view of our 
ultimate redemption and revealing for which we eagerly and patiently 
wait (18-25).  We have the privilege of the Holy Spirit and Jesus 
interceding for us when we pray, which assures that all things will 
work together for good for those called according to God's purpose 
(26-30).  Finally, as God's elect we have the assurance that nothing 
can tear us away from God's love and that in all things we are more 
than conquerors through Him who loved us (31-39).



      1. Available to those in Christ, made possible by the law of the
         Spirit of life (1-2)
      2. An accomplishment not attained by the Law, but by the death of
         Christ (3-4)

      1. To those who set their minds on the things of the Spirit, not
         the flesh, pleasing God (5-8)
      2. To those who have the indwelling Holy Spirit (9-11)
      3. To those who by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body
      4. To those thus led, who are the children of God and joint heirs
         with Christ (14-17)


      1. Present sufferings don't even compare (18)
      2. The whole creation eagerly awaits for the revealing and
         glorious liberty of the children of God (19-22)
      3. We also eagerly wait with perseverance for this hope (23-25)

      1. Helps in our weakness as we pray (26a)
      2. By interceding for us as we pray (26b-27)

      1. For those who love God, called according to His purpose (28)
      2. For such, whom God foreknew, He will carry out His ultimate
         purpose (29-30)

      1. God, who spared not His own Son, is on our side (31-33)
      2. Christ, who died for us, now intercedes for us at God's right
         hand (34)
      3. Through such love we are more than conquerors over all things


law of the Spirit of life - 1) possibly an expression referring to the
                            Gospel; or, 2) the law (principle)
                            involving the life-giving Spirit who aids
                            those in Christ to become free of the "law
                            of sin and death" in their members
                            (cf. 7:23 with 8:11-13)

the Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, Spirit of Him - various
   references to the Holy Spirit

the creation - various explanations are often given:  1) all of
               mankind; 2) only the saved; 3) the whole physical
               creation placed under the curse (Ge 3:17; 8:21;
               Re 22:3), using the kind of language found in Ps 98:7-9;

predestined - predetermined; note carefully in v. 29 that it is based
              upon "foreknowledge" (cf. 1Pe 1:2), and that which is
              predetermined is WHAT those in Christ are to become, not
              WHO are to be in Christ

elect - chosen; according to 1Pe 1:2, this election is based upon
        God's foreknowledge, not some arbitrary choice

intercedes - to make a petition on behalf of another; used of the Holy
             Spirit in v. 26-27 (interceding as a "translator"?), and
             of Christ in v. 34 (interceding as "defense counsel"?)


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - In Christ There Is Freedom From Sin (1-17)
   - Blessings Of Being Children Of God (18-39)

2) What is the main difference between the "law of Moses" and the "law
   of the Spirit of life"? (2-4)
   - The Law of Moses could not set one free from the "law of sin and

3) What is the result of setting your mind on the things of the flesh?
   On the things of the Spirit? (6)
   - Death; life and peace

4) Do the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit dwells in the
   Christian? (9-11)
   - Yes

5) How can we assure that we will continue to live spiritually? (13)
   - By putting to death the deeds of the body with the help of the

6) List briefly the blessings of being the children of God (14-39)
   - One day we will be glorified together with Christ
   - We have the help of the Holy Spirit
   - All things ultimately work for our good
   - Nothing can separate us from God's love

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Quran and the Person of Jesus by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Quran and the Person of Jesus

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Christianity and Islam are in hopeless contradiction with each other regarding several significant concepts and core doctrines—contradictions that strike at the very heart of their respective approaches to religion, life, spirituality, and human existence. The most crucial contention—the greatest tension between the two religions—pertains to the person of Christ. On this solitary point, Islam and Christianity, the Bible and the Quran, can never agree. This disagreement is of such momentous import, and of such great magnitude, as to make the inexorable incompatibility permanent.
Observe a few of the Quran’s declarations concerning the person of Jesus (taken from the translation by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall [n.d.]):
Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah (Surah 3:64).
And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he saith: Be glorified! It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then Thou knewest it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. Lo! Thou, only Thou art the Knower of Things Hidden. I spake unto them only that which Thou commandedst me, (saying): Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. I was a witness of them while I dwelt among them, and when Thou tookest me Thou wast the Watcher over them. Thou art Witness over all things (Surah 5:116-117).
Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave…to give warning of stern punishment from Him…and to warn those who say: Allah hath chosen a son, (A thing) whereof they have no knowledge, nor (had) their fathers. Dreadful is the word that cometh out of their mouths. They speak naught but a lie (Surah 18:1-5).
And they say: The Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a son. Assuredly ye utter a disastrous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins, that ye ascribe unto the Beneficent a son, when it is not meet for (the Majesty of) the Beneficent that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficient as a slave (Surah19:88-93).
Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him; else would each God have assuredly championed that which he created, and some of them would assuredly have overcome others. Glorified be Allah above all that they allege (Surah23:91).
He unto Whom belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, He hath chosen no son nor hath He any partner in the sovereignty. He hath created everything and hath meted out for it a measure (Surah 25:2).
These references, and others (e.g., 2:116; 6:101; 17:111; 19:35; 39:3-6; 43:14,59,81; 72:3-4), demonstrate that the Quran depicts Jesus as a mere man—a prophet like Muhammad—who was created by God like all other created beings: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him” (Surah 5:75; cf. 42:9,13,21). Indeed, when Jesus is compared to any of the prophets (listed as Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob), Allah is represented as stating: “We make no distinction between any of them” (Surah 2:136; 3:84). Though the Quran seems to accept the notion of the virgin conception (Surah 21:91), to attribute divinity to Jesus, or to assign to Jesus equal rank with God, is to utter a “dreadful” and “disastrous” thing—to formulate “nothing but a lie”!
Here, indeed, is the number one conflict between Islam and Christianity—–the deity, person, and redemptive role of Christ. If Christ is Who the Bible represents Him to be, then Islam and the Quran are completely fictitious. If Jesus Christ is Who the Quran represents Him to be, then Christianity is baseless and blasphemous. On this point alone, these two religions can neverachieve harmony. But the New Testament is very, very clear: the heart, core, and soul of the Christian religion is allegiance to Jesus Christ as God, Lord, and Savior.
To exhaust what the New Testament has to say on this subject would require volumes (cf. John 21:25). However, it takes only a few verses to establish the clarity with which the New Testament affirms the divine nature of Jesus. The entire book of John is devoted to defending the divine identity of Christ, articulated in its thematic statement: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in Hisname” (20:30-31, emp. added). The book of John pinpoints seven “signs,” i.e., miraculous acts, performed by Jesus while He was on Earth that proved His divine person—beginning with the very first verse that forthrightly affirms: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:1-4). The “Word” is Jesus (1:14). This thesis reaches its climactic pinnacle when Thomas was forced to arrive at the only possible conclusion regarding the person of Jesus, when he exclaimed: “My Lord and My God!” (20:28). To the Muslim and the Quran, such a declaration is preposterous, horrifying, blasphemous, and absolutely unacceptable. But it is the clear teaching of the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, when Moses encountered God at the burning bush, he asked God to clarify His name so that Moses would be able to respond appropriately to the Israelites when he went to them in Egypt on God’s mission. God answered: “ ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you’ ” (Exodus 3:14). “I AM” is a reference to the eternality of God. Being God, He is eternal with no beginning and no end. He is self-existent and has always existed. Yet in the book of John, Jesus repeatedly identifies His own person with this same appellation (4:26; 8:24,28,58; 13:19). For example, when Jesus explained to the hostile Jews that Abraham had rejoiced to see His day, they responded, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus retorted: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (8:58). The Jews unquestionably understood Jesus’ remaThe Quran and the Person of Jesus  by Dave Miller, Ph.D.rk to be a claim to divinity, and promptly took up stones to kill Him (vs. 59).
Another Bible text where the deity of Jesus is set forth in unmistakable terms is the book of Colossians. Paul forcefully affirmed regarding Jesus: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (1:15-17). “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9).
Such depictions of Jesus are frequent in the New Testament. Jesus was certainly a prophet, as the Quran itself affirms (Surah 4:163); but Jesus was not just a prophet. He was God in the flesh. In fact, oral confession of the deity of Christ is prerequisite to becoming a Christian (Romans 10:9-10). This singular point makes Christianity and Islam forever incompatible. One must be a Christian to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and yet one cannot be a Christian without believing in, and verbally confessing, the deity of Christ. The Bible declares that Jesus was the final revelation of God to man (Hebrews 1:1-3). There have been no others.


Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

Two Bethlehems? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Two Bethlehems?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One powerful proof of the supernatural origin of the Bible is the presence of predictive prophecy within its pages. Old Testament prophets predicted minute details of events that were fulfilled in the New Testament. The uninformed observer may take this claim with “a grain of salt,” thinking that anyone can write a book that makes predictions, and then report the fulfillment of those predictions in the same book. In other words, one might simply assume that the entire Bible was written by only one (or a few) writers who simply selected contemporaneous events at the time they were writing, and then couched their subject matter in an anticipatory format, creating the impression that they were predicting events yet future to their own day.
This methodology certainly has been followed by other books that claim to be from God. The Book of Mormon is characterized mostly by its reporting of the past. It purports to be the result of a single individual—Joseph Smith—who allegedly received gold plates from an angel, which then were translated with divine assistance (see Miller, 2003). Likewise, the Quran claims to be the result of revelations presented to a single individual—Muhammad—by the angel Gabriel. It, too, gives the appearance of being the result of a single person responding to his surroundings without the ability to predict the future.
In contrast, the canon of the Old Testament Scriptures, completed prior to the formation of the New Testament, stands as an indisputable fact of history. Although the higher textual critics have attempted to reassign late dates to many of the Old Testament books, even they have not dated them beyond the second century B.C., with canonization complete by 100 B.C. (see Archer, 1974, pp. 77-79). One reason for this concession is the fixed historical fact that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament was translated into Greek by seventy-two scholars in Alexandria in approximately 250 B.C. The existence of this translation, known as the Septuagint, is corroborated by several independent historical witnesses (see Harrison, 1969, pp. 228ff.; Koester, 1982, 1:252ff.; Tenney, 1976, 5:342-343). The existence of the Septuagint verifies that the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament were intact over 300 years before the first books of the New Testament were penned. Likewise, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has further demonstrated a pre-Christian presence of the Old Testament books (see Finegan, 1959, 2:271ff.; Thompson, 1962, p. 264; Free and Vos, 1992, pp. 175ff.; Pfeiffer, 1969, pp. 25ff.; Archer, 1974, pp. 38ff., 505-509).
One category of Old Testament predictive prophecy is Messianic prophecy, i.e., prophecy that pertains to the coming of the Messiah—Jesus Christ. Some 332 (Free and Vos, 1992, p. 241) minute, intricate predictions are scattered throughout the Old Testament that pinpoint details of events and circumstances that transpired while Jesus lived on Earth. Included among these moments in the life of Christ are: His descent from Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Luke 3:34), through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Hebrews 7:14), through the family of David (2 Samuel 7:12; Luke 1:32), through the virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22), during the Roman empire (Daniel 2:44; 9:26; Luke 2:1), while Judah still had a king (Genesis 49:10; Matthew 2:22), His escape to Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15), His Galilean ministry (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12-16), His priesthood comparable to Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; 6:20; 7:15-17), His rejection by the Jews (Isaiah 53:3; Psalm 2:2; Luke 15:25; 23:18; John 1:11; 5:43), His triumphal entry (Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 62:11; Matthew 21:1-11; John 12:12-15), His betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18), for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15), which would be returned for a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:3-10), with His accuser replaced (Psalm 109:7-8; Acts 1:16-20), being spit upon and beaten (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30), His silence when accused (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 26:62-63), by false witnesses (Psalm 27:12; 35:11; Matthew 26:60-61), mocked and insulted (Psalm 22:6-8; Matthew 27:39-40), given gall and vinegar (Psalm 69:21; John 19:29), His death with sinners (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38), with His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16; Luke 24:39), but no bone broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33), while lots were cast for his clothing (Psalm 22:18; Mark 15:24), buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60), but in death his body would not decay (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:22ff.), and His ascension (Psalm 68:18; Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9).
One particularly striking prophecy was uttered by the prophet Micah, who lived and prophesied in the eighth century B.C. (Lewis, 1966, p. 32). He articulated a very specific reference to theplace of Christ’s birth: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (5:2). This prophecy is remarkable on at least two counts. First, the fact that anyone could predict the precise city where a “ruler” would be born centuries later is unsurpassed in ordinary human experience. A charlatan would be “leaving himself wide open” to being discredited. Psychics, palm readers, spiritualists, and faith healers of today are very careful to maintain ambiguity and to keep their words sufficiently vague as to allow for adjustment, evasion, and multiple explanations. Pinpointing a specific city is specificity that is incomparable in its own right.
Second, Micah “stuck his neck out” even farther when he identified the city as “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” Few people probably realize that Palestine contained twotowns named Bethlehem. Similarly, in the United States, we have Paris, Texas, and Paris, Tennessee. There’s a Jackson, Mississippi, and a Jackson, Tennessee, as well as a Lexington, Tennessee, and a Lexington, Kentucky. The Bethlehem with which most people are familiar is Bethlehem of Judah, located five miles south of Jerusalem. This town, or its inhabitants, is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament (e.g., Genesis 35:19; 48:7; Judges 17:7-9; 19:1ff.; Ruth 1:19), and was the birthplace of King David (1 Samuel 16:4; 17:12,15; 2 Samuel 23:14,16). After the Babylonian exile, Bethlehemites reinhabited the town (Ezra 2:21; Nehemiah 7:26). This same Bethlehem served as the birthplace of the Messiah (Matthew 2:1,5; Luke 2:4,15). In fact, King Herod’s familiarity with biblical prophecy caused him to concentrate his massacre of innocent babies on the infant population of this particular Bethlehem.
The other Bethlehem was Bethlehem of Zebulun in northern Palestine. Though mentioned less frequently in the Old Testament (Joshua 19:15; Judges 12:8,10), archaeological excavations indicate that it was a place of some importance in earlier days (Masterman, 1956, 1:449-450).
How did Micah know that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem—let alone Bethlehem Ephrathah? The only rational explanation is that Micah was inspired in his writing—supernaturally guided to predict the precise location where the Messiah would be born. The Bible stands alone—in a class by itself—apart from all other books on the planet that claim to be of divine origin. It is, in fact, the Word of God. As such, it reserves the right to require conformity to its precepts by all accountable human beings.


Archer, Gleason L. Jr. (1974), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Finegan, Jack (1959), Light from the Ancient Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), second edition.
Free, Joseph P. and Howard F. Vos (1992), Archaeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), revised edition.
Harrison, R.K. (1969), Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Koester, Helmut (1982), History, Culture, and Religion of the Hellenistic Age (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress).
Lewis, Jack (1966), The Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Masterman, E.W.G. (1956), “Bethlehem,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1974 reprint.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Is the Book of Mormon from God?” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2243.
Pfeiffer, Charles (1969), The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Tenney, Merrill, ed. (1976), The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Thompson, J.A. (1962), The Bible and Archaeology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Why Do Men Reject God? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Why Do Men Reject God?

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

Most people in the world, throughout the ages of history, have believed in some concept of a Supreme Being. They may have had a perverted sense of Who that Being is, but they were convinced that there is a Personal Power greater than man. Given the evidence available, faith is reasonable. That is why the psalmist declared: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). The Hebrew word for “fool” suggests one who is not thinking rationally.
Since unbelief is neither reasonable nor the norm, one cannot but wonder why some people become atheists. I am convinced, after reflecting upon the matter for many years, that religious disbelief does not result from logical conclusions based on well-researched data. Rather, generally speaking, emotional motivation of some sort is a primary causative factor.
Consider the following case. In 1996, Judith Hayes, a senior writer for The American Rationalist, authored a caustic, atheistic tirade titled: In God We Trust: But Which One? In this treatise, Mrs. Hayes revealed two clues as to why she left the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) and became an atheist.
As a youngster, she had a friend who was a Buddhist. Judith was very close to “Susan,” and she simply could not tolerate the idea that her friend, who did not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God, might be lost apart from the biblical redemptive system. So, rather than carefully examining the evidence to determine whether or not the claims of the Lord (as set forth in the New Testament record—see John 14:6; Acts 4:12) are true, she simply decided, on an emotional and reactionary basis, that Christianity could not be genuine.
Eventually Judith married, but the relationship degenerated. Mrs. Hayes claims her husband was verbally abusive. Again, though, instead of considering the possibility that she might have been responsible for having made a bad choice in her marital selection, or that her husband decided on his own volition to be abusive (in direct violation of divine teaching—Ephesians 5:25ff.), she blamed God for her disappointment. “[H]ow could I possibly have wound up married to a tyrant? Why had God forsaken me?,” she wrote (1996, p. 15). God did not forsake her. He honored her freedom of choice, and that of her husband as well. Human abuse of that freedom is not the Lord’s responsibility.
The infidel William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) was known principally for his skeptical poem,Invictus. As a youngster, Henley contracted tuberculosis, and had to have one foot amputated. He suffered much across the years and became quite bitter. He wrote:
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.
His disbelief, however, was emotional, not intellectual.
The late Isaac Asimov once wrote: “Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time” (1982, emp. added).
In one of his books, Aldous Huxley acknowledged that he had reasons for “not wanting the world to have a meaning.” He contended that the “philosophy of meaningless” was liberating. He confessed that the morality of theism interfered “with our sexual freedom” (1966, p. 19). This is hardly a valid argument for rejecting the vast array of evidence that testifies to the existence of a Supreme Being!
Here is an important point. When men have motives for resisting faith in God, and when—out of personal prejudice—they are predisposed to reject the Creator, they become “ripe” for philosophical skepticism.


Asimov, Isaac (1982), “Interview with Isaac Asimov on Science and the Bible,” Paul Kurtz, interviewer, Free Inquiry, pp. 6-10, Spring. See also Hallman, Steve (1991), “Christianity and Humanism: A Study in Contrasts,” AFA Journal, p. 11, March.
Hayes, Judith (1996), In God We Trust: But Which One? (Madison: WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation).
Huxley, Aldous (1966), “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspectives on the News, Vol. 3, June.

Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart? by Dave Miller, Ph.D. Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In their perpetual quest to find discrepancies in the Bible, to undermine biblical ethics, and to find fault with the actions of God, skeptics have charged that God mistreated Pharaoh by overriding his free will and forcing him to resist the demand of Moses to allow the Israelites to exit Egypt. The skeptics focus on the verses about Pharaoh’s heart, demanding that the God of the Bible is an unjust, cruel being. Steve Wells, the well-known skeptic writer, said: “God begins the process of ‘hardening Pharaoh’s heart’ (see also Exodus 7:3,13, 9:12, 10:1, 20,27, 11:10, 14:4,8), thus making it impossible for any of the plagues that God sends to have any beneficial effect. But according to 1 Samuel 6:6, God didn’t harden the Pharaoh’s heart; the Pharaoh did it himself” (Wells, 2001). Kendall Hobbs, in an essay titled “Why I Am No Longer a Christian,” added Pharaoh’s story to a list of alleged atrocities committed by the God of the Bible. “There are plenty of other atrocities committed by God or at his command,” Hobbs comments, then lists “the Exodus story when the Egyptian Pharaoh was repeatedly ready and willing to let Moses and his people go, until God hardened his heart, and then God punished him for his hardened heart by sending plagues or killing children throughout all of Egypt” (Hobbs, 2003).
The Protestant Calvinist response to the skeptic is simply to say that God can do what He chooses to do, and that humans have no right to question God. To him, the answer is “not to retract the sovereignty of God’s election, or to try to give a rational explanation to doubting men” (Palmer, 1972, p. 33). Since Calvinism has largely dominated the Protestant landscape for the last five centuries, most skeptics have dismissed Christianity as absurd, and have turned away in utter disgust in order to embrace atheism. The smug Calvinist declares, “So be it! You have the problem!”
But why would many otherwise right-thinking people reject the Calvinistic brand of Christianity? Must their rejection necessarily be due to a desire to be free from the moral and social restraints that come with the acceptance of the Christian religion? Must the unbeliever’s unbelief inevitably be the result of an unwillingness to accept truth? While it is true that most human beings in history have rejected the correct pathway in life due to stubborn pride, selfishness, and a desire to gratify fleshly desires (cf. Matthew 7:13-14; 1 John 2:15-17), there are exceptions. Some people reject Christianity because they have been presented with pseudo-Christianity—a Catholic or Protestant version of it—what Paul called “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6), that is, a diluted, distorted form, rather than pure, New Testament Christianity.
The reason rational, honest people would reject Calvinism’s claim that God arbitrarily (i.e., for His own sovereign reasons) rejects some people, or overrides their free will, is because they recognize that a perfect God, i.e., One Who is infinite in all of His attributes (including justice, fairness, and impartiality), would not do so. God cannot be just, while unjustly rejecting some people. God cannot be God, and yet conduct Himself in an ungodly manner. Even the biggest sinner, who has violated his conscience repeatedly, and has dulled his spiritual sensibilities, has enough sense to comprehend the principle of being fair—even if he chooses not to treat people fairly.
Turning to the book of Exodus, most Bible readers must admit that they were at least slightly startled the first time they read about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, and then His punishing Pharaoh for that same hard-heartedness. In dealing with these allegations, three distinct declarations are made with regard to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. First, the text states that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (7:3; 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8), and the hearts of the Egyptians (14:17). Second, it is said that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (8:15,32; 9:34), that he refused to humble himself (10:3), and that he was stubborn (13:15). Third, the text uses the passive form to indicate that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, without giving any indication as to the source (7:13,14,22; 8:19; 9:7,35). The questions that arise from this state of affairs are: (1) did God harden Pharaoh on some occasions, while Pharaoh hardened himself on others? (2) Did God do all the hardening of Pharaoh, with the references to Pharaoh hardening himself being the result of God forcing him to do so against his own will? (3) Are all three declarations given in the text actually parallel expressions that mean the same thing? (4) Are the three declarations distinct from one another in their meaning, but all true in their own respects? Is the God of the Bible an unjust, cruel Being?
Two excellent explanations are available that account for the Exodus declarations, each perfectly plausible and sufficient to demonstrate that both the skeptic and Calvinist interpretations are incorrect. Both explanations pertain to the fact that every language has its own way of using certain types of words and phrases that might appear odd to a person not familiar with the language. For instance, suppose a person commented that his boss became angry and “bit his head off.” Would anyone think that the speaker actually had his head bitten off? Of course not! English-speaking people understand this example of figurative speech. Or suppose a person went looking for a job, and someone said that she was “hitting the streets.” She was not literally hitting the streets with her fists. Most English speakers would understand the idiom. In the same way, the biblical languages had idioms, colloquialisms, Semitisms, and word usages peculiar to them, which those familiar with the language would understand.
In his copious work on biblical figures of speech, E.W. Bullinger listed several ways that the Hebrew and Greek languages used verbs to mean something other than their strict, literal usage. He listed several verses that show that the languages “used active verbs to express the agent’s design or attempt to do anything, even though the thing was not actually done” (1898, p. 821). To illustrate, in discussing the Israelites, Deuteronomy 28:68 states: “Ye shall be sold (i.e., put up for sale) unto your enemies…and no man shall buy you.” The translators of the New King James Version recognized the idiom and rendered the verse, “you shall be offered for sale.” The text clearly indicated that they would not be sold, because there would be no buyer, yet the Hebrew active verb for “sold” was used. In the New Testament, a clear example of this type of usage is found in 1 John 1:10, which states, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God—KB/DM] a liar.” No one can make God a liar, but the attempt to deny sin is the equivalent of attempting to make God a liar, which is rendered with an active verb as if it actually happened. Verbs, therefore, can have idiomatic usages that may convey something other than a strict, literal meaning.
With that in mind, Bullinger’s fourth list of idiomatic verbs deals with active verbs that “were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” (p. 823, emp. in orig.). To illustrate, in commenting on Exodus 4:21, Bullinger stated: “ ‘I will harden his heart (i.e., I will permit or suffer his heart to be hardened), that he shall not let the people go.’ So in all the passages which speak of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. As is clear from the common use of the same Idiom in the following passages” (1968, p. 823). He then listed Jeremiah 4:10, “ ‘Lord God, surely thou hast greatly deceived this people’: i.e., thou hast suffered this People to be greatly deceived, by the false prophets….’ ” Ezekiel 14:9 is also given as an example of this type of usage: “ ‘If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet’: i.e., I have permitted him to deceive himself.” James MacKnight, in a lengthy section on biblical idioms, agrees with Bullinger’s assessment that in Hebrew active verbs can express permission and not direct action. This explanation unquestionably clarifies the question of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. When the text says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it means that God would permit or allow Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.
A second equally legitimate explanation for the Exodus text is that the allusions to God hardening Pharaoh’s heart are a form of figurative speech, very closely associated with metaphor, known as “metonymy,” where one name or word is employed for another. For example, when we speak of “reading Shakespeare,” we mean that we read his writings or plays. God hardening Pharaoh’s heart would be “metonymy of the subject,” that is, the subject is announced, while some property or circumstance belonging to it is meant. Specifically, under this form of the figure, “[a]n action is sometimes said to have been accomplished, when all that is meant by it is that an occasion was given” (Dungan, 1888, p. 287; cf. Bullinger, 1898, p. 570).
The Bible is replete with examples that illustrate this figure of speech. John reported that “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John” (John 4:1). In reality, Jesus did not personally baptize anyone (John 4:2). But His teaching and influence caused it to be done. Jesus, the subject, is mentioned, but it is the circumstance of His influence that is intended. His teachingwas responsible for people being baptized. Repeatedly in the book of 1 Kings, various kings of Israel are said to have “walked in the way of Jeroboam…who had made Israel sin” (e.g., 1 Kings 16:19,26; 22:52). But Jeroboam did not force either his contemporaries or his successors to sin. Rather, he set an example that they chose to follow. Judas was said to have purchased a field with the money he obtained by betraying Christ (Acts 1:18). But, in reality, he returned the money to the chief priests and then hung himself. The blood money was then used to purchase the field (Matthew 27:5-7). By metonymy of the subject, Judas was said to have done that which his action occasioned. Paul warned Roman Christians: “Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15). What he meant was that they should not set an example that lures weaker brothers into doing what they consider to be wrong. Paul told Corinthian Christians that they were in a position to “save” their unbelieving spouses (1 Corinthians 7:16). He told Timothy that he was in a position to “save” those who listened to his teaching (1 Timothy 4:16). In both cases, Paul meant that proper teaching and a proper example could influence the recipients to obey God’s will for their lives.
Another instance of metonymy of the subject, closely aligned with the example of Pharaoh in Exodus, is the occasion of the conversion of Lydia, the businesswoman from Thyatira. The text states that the “Lord opened her heart” (Acts 16:14). However, the specific means by which God achieved this action was the preaching of Paul. God’s Word, spoken through Paul, created within her a receptive and responsive mind. In like fashion, Jesus is said to have preached to Gentiles as well as to the antediluvian population of Noah’s day (Ephesians 2:17; 1 Peter 3:19). Of course, Jesus did neither—directly. Rather, He operated through agents—through Paul in the first case and through Noah in the latter. Similarly, Nathan accused king David: “You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword” (2 Samuel 12:9). In reality, David sent a letter to his general ordering him to arrange battle positions where Uriah would be more vulnerable to enemy fire. On the basis of metonymy of the subject, David, the subject, is said to have done something that, in actuality, he simply arranged for others to do.
In the case of Pharaoh, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh. Moses merely announced God’s instructions. God even accompanied His Word with miracles—to confirm the divine origin of the message (cf. Mark 16:20). Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. Of his own accord, he stubbornly refused to comply. Of course, God provided the occasion for Pharaoh to demonstrate his unyielding attitude. If God had not sent Moses, Pharaoh would not have been faced with the dilemma of whether to release the Israelites. So God was certainly the instigator and initiator. But He was not the author of Pharaoh’s defiance.
Notice that in a very real sense, all four of the following statements are true: (1) God hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (2) Moses hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (3) the words that Moses spoke hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (4) Pharaoh hardened his own heart. All four of these observations are accurate, depicting the same truth from different perspectives. In this sense, God is responsible for everything in the Universe, i.e., He has provided the occasion, the circumstances, and the environment in which all things (including people) operate. But He is not guilty of wrong in so doing. From a quick look at a simple Hebrew idiom, it is clear that God did not unjustly or directly harden Pharaoh’s heart. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), He does not act unjustly (Psalms 33:5), and He has always allowed humans to exercise their free moral agency (Deuteronomy 30:19). God, however, does use the wrong, stubborn decisions committed by rebellious sinners to further His causes (Isaiah 10:5-11). In the case of Pharaoh’s hardened heart, God can be charged with no injustice, and the Bible can be charged with no contradiction. Humans were created with free moral agency and are culpable for their own actions.


Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Dungan, D.R. (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Hobbs, Kendall (2003), “Why I Am No Longer a Christian: Ruminations on a Spiritual Journey out of and into the Material World,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/kendall_hobbs/no_longer.shtml.
MacKnight, James (1954 reprint), Apostolic Epistles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Palmer, Edwin (1972), The Five Points of Calvinism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com>.

The Real Mary Magdalene by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Real Mary Magdalene

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The name “Mary” appears 54 times in the New Testament. There is Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:18), Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2), and Mary, the mother of James and Joses (Mark 15:40), who is likely the same as the “other” Mary (Matthew 27:56,61; 28:1) and “the wife of Clopas” (John 19:25). Also mentioned are Mary of Bethany (John 11:1), Mary, the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12), and Mary of Rome (Romans 16:6). Obviously, Mary (Greek Maria or Mariam) was a popular name in New Testament times. It still is today (see “The Most Popular...,” 2006).
No Mary has been more popular in recent days, however, than Mary Magdalene. A plethora of new books feature her, including Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which is based on the false notion that she gave birth to the heir of Christ, whose descendants supposedly survive to this day. Mary Magdalene, a name likely indicating affiliation with the Galilean city of Magdala (see “Mary,” 1986), has been the focus of talk shows, movies, books, magazines, and more. Sadly, modernists have greatly misunderstood, exaggerated, and distorted her role in the life of Jesus and the early church. The prevailing idea is that Mary Magdalene has finally been released from the male-dominated, “anti-sexual” religious world (see Carroll, 2006, 37[3]:119), and that the real Mary has finally been revealed. Is this true? Was Mary Magdalene Christ’s secret lover? Did she erotically wash His feet with her hair? Did she eventually become His wife and bear His child? Was she a former prostitute? Just who was Mary Magdalene, really?
Those who have heard only of the newly made-over Mary Magdalene might be disappointed to find that the real Mary of Magdala does not fit the modern-day, dramatized version. Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the New Testament—the oldest historical record mentioning her name. All 12 occurrences appear in the gospel accounts, wherein we learn the following:
  • Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9).
  • She was one of many who provided for Jesus out of her own means (Luke 8:1-3).
  • She witnessed the crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25).
  • She was present at His burial (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47).
  • She arrived at Jesus’ tomb on the Sunday following His crucifixion to find His body missing (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-7; John 20:1).
  • She saw the risen Lord, spoke with Him, and later reported the encounter to the apostles (Matthew 28:9-10; Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18).
Where are the passages about her physical relationship with Christ? Where are the hints of erotic behavior? Where is the sexualized version of Mary Magdalene? In truth, the new version of Mary Magdalene is a figment of someone’s imagination.
First, the notion of Mary Magdalene being a former prostitute, apparently made popular as early as the sixth century by Pope Gregory I (see Van Biema, 2003), simply is unfounded. Luke did record an occasion during Jesus’ ministry when a woman “who was a sinner” (Luke 7:37, emp. added) and of poor reputation among the Pharisees (7:39) washed His feet with her tears and hair, and anointed them with oil (7:36-50). And, Luke did place this event in his gospel account just two verses before he introduces Mary Magdalene, “out of whom had come seven demons” (Luke 8:2). But Luke never specifically stated that the woman of disrepute was a prostitute, or that her name was Mary Magdalene. Other than the juxtaposition of the “sinner” at the close of Luke 7 and Mary at the commencement of Luke 8, no connection between the two women exists. What’s more, if one argues that the proximity of the two women is what links them together, one wonders why “Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others” (Luke 8:3) could not also be considered candidates, since they are mentioned along with Mary Magdalene.
Second, Scripture never hints that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married or romantically involved in any way. Did He exercise His power over demons by casting seven of them from her? Yes (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9). Did she (along with “many others”) financially support His ministry? Yes (Luke 8:2-3). Did she cling to Him momentarily following His resurrection? Yes (John 20:17). Was she a dedicated follower of Christ? From all that we can gather in the New Testament, we must assume that she was. Still, nothing in the Bible suggests that she was Jesus’ wife or secret lover.
Even the so-called Gospel of Mary (Magdalene), which unbelievers freely admit was not written until the second century A.D. (cf. Cockburn, 2006, 209[5]:88-89), says nothing about a sexual relationship with Christ. This non-inspired text does contend that Peter told Mary, “Sister, we know the savior loved you more than any other woman” (Meyer, 2005a, p. 38). Furthermore, in this text Levi described Jesus as loving Mary “more than us” (p. 41). Still, however, nothing sexual is mentioned. The New Testament records how Jesus “loved” Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:5); the Jews even marveled at His love for Lazarus (John 11:36). Mark wrote of how He “loved” the rich young ruler (Mark 10:21). And John repeatedly testified of one particular unnamed disciple whom “Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). [NOTE: Proof that this beloved disciple was not Mary Magdalene is found in John 20:2 where she spoke to Peter and the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2).] When we read the uninspired statements from The Gospel of Mary in light of the fact that the New Testament specifically states that Jesus loved certain individuals, one can see more clearly the lack of sexual overtones.
Anyone who has read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is aware that his entire novel revolves around the alleged historical fact that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child together (2003, pp. 244-245). Brown bases his claim on the following brief statements from the non-inspired, gnostic Gospel of Philip, which apparently was penned during the second or third century (cf. Meyer, 2005b, p. 63; Isenberg, n.d.). [NOTE: Brackets indicate missing words.]
Three women always walked with the master: Mary his mother, [] sister, and Mary of Magdala, who is called his companion. For “Mary” is the name of his sister, his mother and his companion (Meyer, 2005b, p. 57).
The companion of the [] is Mary of Magdala. The [] her more than [] the disciples, [] kissed her often on her []. The other []...said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” (Meyer, 2005b, p. 63).
Brown alleges that “any Aramaic scholar will tell you, the word companion, in those days, literally meant spouse” (p. 246, emp. added). Thus, Mary Magdalene and Jesus must have been married, right? Wrong! The Gospel of Philip was not even written in Aramaic, but in Coptic, an ancient Egyptian language. What’s more, the Coptic word for “companion” is synonymous with neither “wife” nor “spouse.” Ben Witherington III, writing in Biblical Archaeological Review, addressed this very point:
The word here for companion (koinonos) is actually a loan word from Greek and is neither a technical term nor a synonym for wife or spouse. It is true the term could be used to refer to a wife, since koinonos, like “companion,” is an umbrella term, but it does not specify this fact. There was another Greek word, gune, which would have made this clear. It is much more likely that koinonos here means “sister” in the spiritual sense since that is how it is used elsewhere in this sort of literature. In any case, this text does not clearly say or even suggest that Jesus was married, much less married to Mary Magdalene (2004, 30[3]:60).
How sad to think that millions of people have been deceived about the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus because The Da Vinci Code’s fiction is consumed as historical fact.
One might assume that The Gospel of Philip hints at a sexual relationship between Mary and Jesus, since Brown alleges that it states Jesus “used to kiss her often on her mouth” (p. 248, emp. added). The word “mouth,” however, is not in the text. Several words are missing from the Coptic manuscript, including those that would designate where He allegedly kissed her. Perhaps the missing word is hand, head, cheek, or nose. When the woman of Luke 7 kissed Jesus’ feet, He responded by telling Simon, “You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in” (7:45). Jesus’ statement implied that even though the woman wept at His feet, washed them with her hair, anointed them with fragrant oil, and kissed them repeatedly (7:36-39), she did not act erotically. On the contrary, she honored Jesus with humble service and adoration, unlike Simon and the others.
Finally, if Jesus did kiss Mary Magdalene, as The Gospel of Philip alleges, it hardly would justify a case for marriage. This so-called “gospel” mentions elsewhere that the followers of Christ “also kiss each other” (Meyer, 2005b, p. 57). And, according to Scripture, Christians were in the habit of greeting “one another with a holy kiss” since the church began (Romans 16:16, emp. added; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; see Miller, 2003). In short, kissing is not equivalent to marrying and having children.
Mary Magdalene apparently was a devout, faithful follower of Christ. Not a shred of solid biblical or extrabiblical evidence suggests she played the role of harlot, wife, mother, or secret lover. The New Testament, as the oldest, most reliable (and only inspired!) witness to her identity, testifies loudly and clearly about her genuine faithfulness to the Lord, and keeps silent about those things which twenty-first-century sensationalists allege. As in so many instances, we must learn to respect the Bible’s silence! And, there is a deafening silence concerning Mary Magdalene as our Lord’s wife or the mother of His child.


Brown, Dan (2003), The Da Vinci Code (New York, NY: Doubleday).
Carroll, James (2006), “Who Was Mary Magdalene?,” Smithsonian, 37[3]:108-119, June.
Cockburn, Andrew (2006), “The Gospel of Judas,” National Geographic, 209[5]:78-95, May.
Isenberg, Wesley W. (no date), The Gospel of Philip, [On-line], URL: http://www.theologywebsite.com/etext/naghammadi/philip.shtml.
“Mary” (1986), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Meyer, Marvin, ed. (2005a), The Gospel of Mary, in The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco).
Meyer, Marvin, ed. (2005b), The Gospel of Philip, in The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Veils, Footwashing, and the Holy Kiss,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2322.
“The Most Popular Names Chosen for Baby Boys and Girls over the Past 120 Years” (2006), [On-line], URL: http://www.thenewparentsguide.com/most-popular-baby-names.htm.
Van Biema, David (2003), “Mary Magdalene: Saint or Sinner,” Time, 162[6]: August 11, [On-line],URL: http://www.danbrown.com/media/morenews/time.html.
Witherington, Ben (2004), “Reviews,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 30[3]:58-61, May/June.