Hardheaded Preachers by Allan Turner


Hardheaded Preachers

Some preachers have felt the need to modernize their preaching. Influenced by the “feel good about yourself” gospel of Self-Love that is so popular today, some have begun to accentuate the positive and de-emphasize the negative. As a result, some among us are openly advertising something called “Positive Christianity.” Now, before I get branded by some of you who read this as a “promoter of negativism,” let me say that I am not against preaching what is commonly referred to as the positive aspects of the gospel of Christ. God forbid! What I am against, however, is the careless and erroneous way in which some have divided God’s Word. Frankly, I do not believe that dividing God’s Word into different parts, one part promoting “Positive Christianity” and the other “Negative Christianity” is what the apostle Paul had in mind in 2 Timothy 2:15. In truth, God’s Word is neither “positive” nor “negative.” It is, instead, both positive and negative. In other words, it’s a total package. Take the Ten Commandments for instance. The “Positive Ten Commandments,” and you realize, of course, that there is no such thing, would only involve remembering the sabbath and honoring one’s father and mother. All eight of the remaining commandments would either be de-emphasized, or totally eliminated. So, in theory, the end result of Positive Ten Commandmentism would be an idolatrous, polytheistic, murderous, adulterous, thieving, lying, covetous people who would, without shame, take the name of the only true and living God in vain. Furthermore, I think it would be safe to surmise that such a people, in addition to soon forgetting the sabbath, would also have no respect for their mothers and fathers. So, so much for Positive Ten Commandmentism.
The careful student of God’s Word knows that love (which incidentally is something most people would identify as “positive”) cannot really be understood without considering the subject of sacrifice (something incidentally that many people today would consider “negative”). Likewise, salvation (a very “positive” subject) must be understood within the context of repentance (which is something most people today think is very “negative”). Consequently, when it comes to the religion of Christ, what is of ultimate importance is not whether something is positive or negative. Instead, what is important is whether it is true or false, right or wrong! In reality, whether one preaches the positive and de-emphasizes the negative, or preaches the negative and de-emphasizes the positive, in either case, one is not declaring “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and this is exactly my point. In 2 Timothy 4:2-5, the apostle Paul charged Timothy to:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (NKJV).
One simply cannot miss it. Paul did not say that God’s Word must be accommodated to every new concept that comes along. What he said was “Preach the word.” Therefore, although I’ve said it before, I will now say it again: There is obviously something very suspicious about a group of Christians who turn their sail to every wind that blows. And make no mistake about it, such will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, [who] in cunning craftiness...lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). Enamored with “Positive Thinking” as taught by Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone, Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale et al, some have now begun to accommodate certain scriptures to the idea of positive thinking. Space does not permit me to list these, but one ought to carefully consider these brethren’s prooftexts. In doing so, I will discover that these so-called prooftexts are nothing more than pretexts for unscriptural teaching. Quite frankly, the false concept that “anything the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve” is silliness gone to seed. An even more descriptive term for this doctrine may be found in Paul’s use of the word “dung” to describe those things he considered to be worthless in Philippians 3:8.
As Christians, we have been provided with “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Consequently, the Christian is called upon to out-live, out-think, and out-die the pagans and secularists around about him. The Christian’s mind, a mind that is renewed, pure, prepared, spiritually sensitive, and self-controlled, is the complete antithesis of a worldly mind (cf. Romans 12:1-2). What is the key to all this? Simply stated, it is this: The Christian’s mind does not trust in its own powers, but in the power of God (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6). As more and more Christians clamor for “Positive Christianity,” it will become increasingly more difficult for preachers attempting to preach the whole counsel of God to maintain their integrity. It will be much easier to go with the flow of opinions, values and fads of the masses. But thank God for hardheaded preachers who, like the prophets of old, will not bow or bend to the totems of this world. In Ezekial 3:8-9, the prophet, who has been sent by God to address a rebellious people, was told by God:

Behold I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house (NKJV).
Thank God for hardheaded preachers who do not have to test the winds of public sentiment be- fore they decide what they are going to preach. Thank God for hardheaded preachers who will “Preach the word!” Thank God for hardheaded preachers who will “be ready in season and out of season.” Thank God for hardheaded preachers who will “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” Thank God for hardheaded preachers who, with God’s help, will save not only themselves, but those that hear them (cf. 1 Timothy 4:16).
Josiah Holland, who lived in the 19th century, knew the remedy for our troubles when he prayed thus: God give us men. A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands; men whom the lust of office cannot buy; men who will not lie; men who will stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking; tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog in public duty and private thinking.
Real men, of course, are hard to find, and this has always been the case. It has been reported that in order to emphasize the difficulty of finding a man of integrity in ancient Athens, the Greek philosopher Diogenes lighted a lamp in the daylight and went about the streets of Athens in search of an honest man. But years before this alleged event, Jerusalem could have been saved if one man of integrity could have been found within the walls of the city (cf. Jeremiah 5:1). Even the apostle Paul recognized the difficulty of finding a real man when he said, “For all seek their own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ’s (Philippians 2:21).
It is my prayer that God will continue to bless us with hardheaded preachers who won’t shy away from using “great plainness of speech” in their preaching and teaching (2 Corinthians 3:12). However, it must be remembered that this is a two-way street, for if we ever becomes like those who delight in slaying all God’s plain speakers, even when we can only do it one preacher at a time, then we can be sure that God will eventually send his hardheaded preachers elsewhere. May God bless us all, collectively and individually, as we do His will.

"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter Five by Mark Copeland

                     "THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                              Chapter Five


1) To appreciate the responsibility we have toward our families, 
   especially widows

2) To consider under what circumstances widows may be "taken into the 

3) To note the distinction between the work of the church, and the 
   responsibility of individual Christians

4) To review our responsibilities toward those who serve as elders


This chapter contains Paul's instructions to Timothy regarding various 
members of the congregation.  He starts with the members in general, 
counseling Timothy to consider them as family, and exhorting them 
accordingly (1-2).  A major section is then devoted to the care of
widows, in which some may be "taken into the number".  What this phrase
refers to is unclear, but it may involve congregational support on a
long-term basis.  Only those who are truly widows (as defined in verse 
5) and who meet certain qualifications (listed in verse 9-10) are to be
so honored.  Younger widows are expected to remarry and have children, 
while widows with children and grandchildren are to be supported by 
their own family rather than burden the church (3-16).

Several remarks are then made regarding elders (not just older 
Christians, but those serving as overseers).  Elders who rule well are
to be worthy of financial support, especially if they are laboring in
the word and doctrine.  Accusations against an elder are not to be
taken seriously unless there be two or three witnesses.  Those elders 
who are sinning need to be publicly rebuked so that the rest may fear 

Paul then gives Timothy a solemn charge to be free from prejudice and
partiality as he goes about his duties.  He is also to be cautious 
about those he may commend, being careful to keep himself pure from 
others' sins.  The chapter concludes with advice for treating Timothy's
stomach ailment, and a reminder that both sins and good works will 
eventually become evident (21-25).



      1. Older men as fathers, younger men as brothers (1)
      2. Older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all
         purity (2)

      1. Honor those who are truly widows (3)
      2. Widows with children or grandchildren should be taken care of
         by them (4)
         a. That they may learn to show piety at home and repay their
         b. This is good and acceptable before God 
      3. Contrast between a true widow and one who is not (5-6)
         a. A true widow (5)
            1) One who is left alone (5a)
            2) One who trusts in God (5b)
            3) One who continues in supplications night and day (5c)
         b. The one who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives (6)
      4. Command these things that people may be blameless (7)
      5. One who does not provide for his own, especially his 
         household... (8)
         a. Has denied the faith 
         b. Is worse than an unbeliever 
      6. Regarding the church support of widows (9-16)
         a. Qualifications for those who can be taken into the number
            1) Not under sixty years of age
            2) The wife of one man
            3) Well reported for good works
            4) Has brought up children
            5) Has lodged strangers
            6) Has washed the saints' feet
            7) Has relieved the afflicted
            8) Has diligently followed every good work
         b. Reasons to reject younger widows (11-13)
            1) When they begin to grow wanton against Christ, they
               desire to marry
            2) Casting off their first faith, they have condemnation
            3) They learn to be idle, wandering about from house to
               house as busybodies and gossips
         c. Counsel for younger widows (14-15)
            1) To marry, bear children, manage the house
            2) To give no opportunity for the adversary to speak 
            3) For some have already have turned aside after Satan
         d. Those widows with believing children (16)
            1) The children should relieve them
            2) Do not burden the church, that it may relieve those who
               are truly widows

      1. Those who rule well (17-18)
         a. They are counted worthy of double honor
         b. Especially those who labor in word and doctrine
         c. Scriptural basis for supporting elders:
            1) "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the
            2) "The laborer is worthy of his wages"
      2. Those who don't rule well (19-20)
         a. Don't receive an accusation against an elder except from
            two or three witnesses (19)
         b. Elders who are sinning (20)
            1) Should be rebuked in the presence of all
            2) So that the rest may fear


      1. Given before God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels
      2. To observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing
         without partiality

      1. Don't lay hands hastily on anyone
      2. Don't share in other people's sins
      3. Keep yourself pure

      1. No longer drink only water
      2. Use a little wine for the sake of the stomach and frequent

      1. Some sins are clearly evident, others we learn after the
         judgment (24)
      2. The same is true regarding good works (25)   


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Instructions concerning the members (1-20)
   - Further instructions related to Timothy (21-25)

2) How was Timothy to exhort the members of the congregation? (1-2)
   - The older men as fathers, the younger women as brothers, the older
     women as mothers, the younger women as sisters, in all purity

3) Why are widows with children or grandchildren to be taken care of by
   them? (4)
   - So that the children may learn to show piety at home and repay
     their parents
   - For this is good and acceptable before God

4) Who is truly a widow? (5)
   - One left alone, who trusts in God, and prays night and day

5) What is said of one who will not provide for his own family? (8)
   - He has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever

6) List the qualifications for a widow to be "taken into the number"
   - At least sixty years old
   - The wife of one man
   - Well reported for good works
   - Has brought up children
   - Has lodged strangers
   - Has washed the saints' feet
   - Has relieved the afflicted
   - Has diligently followed every good work

7) What are the younger widows to do?  Why? (14)
   - Marry, bear children, manage the house
   - To give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully

8) What two groups of widows are NOT to be "taken into the number"?
   - Younger widows
   - Widows with believing children who can provide for them

9) How should elders who rule well be considered, especially if they
   labor in word and doctrine? (17)
   - Counted worthy of double honor

10) What basis does Paul give for compensating elders? (18)
   - The Old Testament scriptures (Deut 25:4)
   - The sayings of Jesus (Lk 10:7)

11) What is necessary to receive an accusation against an elder? (19)
   - Two or three witnesses

12) What should be done with elders who are sinning? (20)
   - Rebuke them in the presence of all, that the rest may fear

13) What serious charge was given to Timothy before God, the Lord, and
    the elect angels? (21)
   - To observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with 

14) What words of caution does Paul give Timothy? (22)
   - Don't lay hands on anyone hastily
   - Don't share in other people's sins
   - Keep yourself pure

15) What advice does Paul give Timothy for his stomach ailments? (23)
   - No longer drink only water
   - But use a little wine

16) What is true in regards to both sin and good works? (24-25)
   - Some are clearly evident, and some will not be known until after
     the judgment day

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter Four by Mark Copeland

                     "THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                              Chapter Four


1) To learn what we can about the apostasy foretold by the Spirit

2) To see what sort of things will make one a good minister of Jesus 


Paul begins this chapter with describing how the Spirit has revealed
that in latter times there would be an apostasy in which some would
depart from the faith.  This falling away would come about as people
gave heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, leading to
their speaking lies in hypocrisy and searing their consciences as with
a hot iron.  Examples of their false doctrines are given:  forbidding 
to marry and commanding to abstain from certain foods.  Regarding the 
latter, Paul makes it clear that all foods are acceptable if they be 
received with thanksgiving, for they are sanctified by the word of God 
and prayer (1-5).

In the last half of this chapter, we find Paul instructing Timothy on
how he can be a good minister of Jesus Christ.  By instructing the 
brethren in matters pertaining to sound doctrine, he will also be 
nourished himself.  But he should also be careful to avoid foolish 
fables, and rather exercise himself to godliness, which is of more 
enduring value than bodily exercise (6-10).

Though Timothy is young, he should not let anyone despise him for his
youth.  Instead he must demonstrate the proper example of how a
believer should speak and live.  With further instruction as to what
things to give attention, Paul encourages Timothy that by following
these admonitions his progress will be evident to all, and he will save
both himself and those who hear him (11-16).



      1. Foretold expressly by the Spirit (1a)
      2. In latter times some will depart from the faith (1b-2)
         a. Giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons
         b. Speaking lies in hypocrisy (2a)
         c. Having consciences seared with a hot iron (2b)
      1. Some will forbid to marry (3a)
      2. Some will command abstention from certain foods (3b)
         a. Which God created to be received with thanksgiving (3c)
         b. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be
            refused (4a)
            1) If it is received with thanksgiving (4b)
            2) For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer (5)


      1. Instruct the brethren in regards to such things as the 
         apostasy (6a)
      2. You will be a good minister of Jesus Christ (6b)
      3. You will be nourished in the words of faith and good doctrine
      4. But reject profane and old wives' fables (7a)
      1. Exercise yourself to godliness, for bodily exercise profits a
         little (7b-8a)
      2. But godliness is profitable for all things, having promise...
         a. Of the life that now is (8b)
         b. And of that which is to come (8c)
      3. Such is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance (9)
      4. And to this end we labor and suffer reproach (10a)
         a. Because we trust in the living God (10b)
         b. Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who
            believe (10c)

      1. Command and teach such things as previously described (11)
      2. Let no one despise your youth (12a)
      3. Be an example to the believers (12b)
         a. In word, in conduct, in love
         b. In spirit, in faith, in purity
      4. Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (13)
      5. Do not neglect the gift in you (14a)
         a. Given by prophecy (14b)
         b. With the laying on of hands of the presbytery (14c)
      6. In order that your progress may be evident to all...
         a. Meditate on these things (15a)
         b. Give yourself entirely to them (15b)
      7. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine (16a)
         a. Continue in them (16b)
         b. In doing this, you will save both yourself and those who 
            hear you (16b)


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The coming apostasy (1-5)
   - A good servant of Jesus Christ (6-16)

2) What did the Spirit reveal would happen in latter times? (1)
   - Some will depart from the faith

3) What would such people give heed to? (1)
   - Deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons

4) What would they speak?  Why? (2)
   - Lies in hypocrisy
   - Their consciences would be seared, as with a hot iron

5) List two examples of the sort of doctrines they would teach (3)
   - Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from certain foods

6) What foods are acceptable for Christians to eat?  What makes them
   acceptable? (4-5)
   - Nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving
   - They are sanctified by the word of God and prayer

7) What would ensure that Timothy would be a good minister of Jesus 
   Christ? (6)
   - If he instructed the brethren in these matters

8) As a good minister, in what would he be nourished? (6)
   - In the words of faith and of the good doctrine which he has 
     carefully followed

9) What was Timothy to reject?  Unto what was he to exercise himself?
   - Profane and old wives' fables
   - Godliness

10) What is the value of godliness? (8)
   - It has promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to

11) What was Timothy not to let anyone despise? (12)
   - His youth

12) In what areas was Timothy to be an example to the believers? (12)
   - In word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity

13) To what three things was Timothy to give attention? (13)
   - Reading, exhortation, and doctrine

14) What was Timothy not to neglect?  How was it given to him? (14)
   - The gift that was in him
   - By prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery

15) How could Timothy ensure that his progress would be evident to all?
   - By meditating on these things, and giving himself entirely to them

16) How could Timothy save both himself and those who heard him? (16)
   - By taking heed to himself and to the doctrine, and continuing in

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Ben Carson and Islam by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Ben Carson and Islam

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

"Ben Carson at CPAC 2015" by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons-Wikimedia 2015
One of the current presidential candidates, Ben Carson, was recently asked whether he believes Islam is consistent with theU.S. Constitution: “No, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation” (Sanders, 2015). As one would expect in the current PC climate of the nation, considerable negative reactions were generated. It seems surreal that so many Americans could be so adamantly ignorant of both history and the teachings of the Quran as they naively defend, support, and even encourage the spread of Islam in America via the construction of mosques and introducing public school students to its tenets.
Yet, the Quran is forthright and unmistakable in its declarations concerning the violent nature of Islam as well as the inferior status of women—two things the left absolutely detest. The reader is urged to secure a reputable English translation of the Quran, and read the verses identified in the following articles on the A.P. Web site:
What’s more, the Founders of the United States of America were very plain about their recognition of the threat that Islam poses to freedom and the principles on which they established the Republic. Please read the following historical documentation:
“Were the Founding Fathers ‘Tolerant’ of Islam? [Part I]”http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=4622&topic=33
“Were the Founding Fathers ‘Tolerant’ of Islam? [Part II]”http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1117&article=2138
“The Treaty of Tripoli and America’s Founders”http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=4520&topic=44


Sanders, Sam (2015), “Ben Carson Wouldn’t Vote For A Muslim President; He’s Not Alone,” NPR, September 21, http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/09/21/442308328/republican-rhetoric-highlights-americas-negative-relationship-with-muslims.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity by Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.


The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity

by Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.

Bible believers often are confronted with the charge that the Bible is filled with mistakes. These alleged mistakes can be placed into two major categories: (1) apparent internal inconsistencies among revealed data; and (2) scribal mistakes in the underlying manuscripts themselves. The former category involves those situations in which there are apparent discrepancies between biblical texts regarding a specific event, person, place, etc. [For a treatment of such difficulties see Archer, 1982; Geisler and Brooks, 1989, pp. 163-178]. The latter category involves a much more fundamental concern—the integrity of the underlying documents of our English translations. Some charge that the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts, having been copied and recopied by hand over many years, contain a plethora of scribal errors that have altered significantly the information presented in the original documents. As such, we cannot be confident that our English translations reflect the information initially penned by biblical writers. However, the materials discovered at Qumran, commonly called the Dead Sea Scrolls, have provided impressive evidence for both the integrity of the Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts of the Old Testament and the authenticity of the books themselves.


When the scrolls first were discovered in 1947, scholars disputed their dates of composition. Scholars now generally agree that although some materials are earlier, the Qumran materials date primarily to the Hasmonean (152-63 B.C.) and early Roman periods (63 B.C.-A.D.68). Several strands of evidence corroborate these conclusions. First, archaeological evidence from the ruins of the Qumran community supports these dates. After six major seasons of excavations, archaeologists have identified three specific phases of occupation at the ancient center of Qumran. Coinage discovered in the first stratum dates from the reign of Antiochus VII Sidetes (138-129 B.C.). Such artifacts also indicate that the architecture associated with the second occupational phase dates no later than the time of Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.). Also reflected in the material remains of the site is the destruction of its buildings in the earthquake reported by the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 15.5.2). Apparently, this natural disaster occurred around 31 B.C. a position that prompted the occupants to abandon the site for an indeterminate time. Upon reoccupation of the area—the third phase—the buildings were repaired and rebuilt precisely on the previous plan of the old communal complex. The community flourished until the Romans, under the military direction of Vespasian, occupied the site by force (see Cross, 1992, pp. 21-22). Such evidence is consistent with the second century B.C. to first-century A.D. dates for the scrolls.
The second strand of evidence is that the generally accepted dates for the scrolls are corroborated by palaeographical considerations. Palaeography is the study of ancient writing and, more specifically, the shape and style of letters. Characteristic of ancient languages, the manner in which Hebrew and Aramaic letters were written changed over a period of time. The trained eye can determine, within certain boundaries, the time frame of a document based upon the shape of its letters. This is the method by which scholars determine the date of a text on palaeographical grounds. According to this technique, the scripts at Qumran belong to three periods of palaeographical development: (1) a small group of biblical texts whose archaic style reflects the period between about 250-150 B.C.; (2) a large cache of manuscripts, both biblical and non-biblical, that is consistent with a writing style common to the Hasmonean period (c. 150-30 B.C.); and (3) a similarly large number of texts that evinces a writing style characteristic of the Herodian period (30 B.C.-A.D. 70). This linguistic information also is consistent with the commonly accepted dates of the Qumran materials.
Finally, as an aside, the carbon-14 tests done on both the cloth in which certain scrolls were wrapped, and the scrolls themselves, generally correspond to the palaeographic dates. There are, however, some considerable differences. Due to the inexact nature of carbon-14 dating techniques (see Major, 1993), and the possibility of chemical contamination, scholars place greater confidence in the historically corroborated palaeographic dates (see Shanks, 1991, 17[6]:72). At any rate, the archaeological and linguistic data provide scholars with reasonable confidence that the scrolls date from 250 B.C. to A.D. 70.


While the importance of these documents is multifaceted, one of their principle contributions to biblical studies is in the area of textual criticism. This is the field of study in which scholars attempt to recreate the original content of a biblical text as closely as possible. Such work is legitimate and necessary since we possess only copies (apographs), not the original manuscripts (autographs) of Scripture. The Dead Sea Scrolls are of particular value in this regard for at least two reasons: (1) every book of the traditional Hebrew canon, except Esther, is represented (to some degree) among the materials at Qumran (Collins, 1992, 2:89); and (2) they have provided textual critics with ancient manuscripts against which they can compare the accepted text for accuracy of content.


This second point is of particular importance since, prior to the discovery of the Qumran manuscripts, the earliest extant Old Testament texts were those known as the Masoretic Text (MT), which dated from about A.D. 980. The MT is the result of editorial work performed by Jewish scribes known as the Masoretes. The scribes’ designation was derived from the Hebrew word masora, which refers collectively to the notes entered on the top, bottom, and side margins of the MT manuscripts to safeguard traditional transmission. Hence, the Masoretes, as their name suggests, were the scribal preservers of the masora (Roberts, 1962, 3:295). From the fifth to the ninth century A.D., the Masoretes labored to introduce both these marginal notes and vowel points to the consonantal text—primarily to conserve correct pronunciation and spelling (see Seow, 1987, pp. 8-9).
Critical scholars questioned the accuracy of the MT, which formed the basis of our English versions of the Old Testament, since there was such a large chronological gap between it and the autographs. Because of this uncertainty, scholars often “corrected” the text with considerable freedom. Qumran, however, has provided remains of an early Masoretic edition predating the Christian era on which the traditional MT is based. A comparison of the MT to this earlier text revealed the remarkable accuracy with which scribes copied the sacred texts. Accordingly, the integrity of the Hebrew Bible was confirmed, which generally has heightened its respect among scholars and drastically reduced textual alteration.
Most of the biblical manuscripts found at Qumran belong to the MT tradition or family. This is especially true of the Pentateuch and some of the Prophets. The well-preserved Isaiah scroll from Cave 1 illustrates the tender care with which these sacred texts were copied. Since about 1700 years separated Isaiah in the MT from its original source, textual critics assumed that centuries of copying and recopying this book must have introduced scribal errors into the document that obscured the original message of the author.
The Isaiah scrolls found at Qumran closed that gap to within 500 years of the original manuscript. Interestingly, when scholars compared the MT of Isaiah to the Isaiah scroll of Qumran, the correspondence was astounding. The texts from Qumran proved to be word-for-word identical to our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted primarily of obvious slips of the pen and spelling alterations (Archer, 1974, p. 25). Further, there were no major doctrinal differences between the accepted and Qumran texts (see Table 1 below). This forcibly demonstrated the accuracy with which scribes copied sacred texts, and bolstered our confidence in the Bible’s textual integrity (see Yamauchi, 1972, p. 130). The Dead Sea Scrolls have increased our confidence that faithful scribal transcription substantially has preserved the original content of Isaiah.
Of the 166 Hebrew words in Isaiah 53, only
seventeen letters in Dead Sea Scroll 1QIsb
differ from the Masoretic Text (Geisler and
Nix, 1986, p. 382).

10 letters = spelling differences

4 letters = stylistic changes

3 letters = added word for “light” (vs. 11)
17 letters = no affect on biblical teaching


The Qumran materials similarly have substantiated the textual integrity and authenticity of Daniel. Critical scholarship, as in the case of most all books of the Old Testament, has attempted to dismantle the authenticity of the book of Daniel. The message of the book claims to have originated during the Babylonian exile, from the first deportation of the Jews into captivity (606B.C.; Daniel 1:1-2) to the ascension of the Persian Empire to world dominance (c. 536 B.C.; Daniel 10:1). This date, however, has been questioned and generally dismissed by critical scholars who date the final composition of the book to the second century B.C. Specifically, it is argued that the tales in chapters 1-6 as they appear in their present form can be no earlier than the Hellenistic age (c. 332 B.C.). Also, the four-kingdom outline, explicitly stated in chapter 2, allegedly requires a date after the rise of the Grecian Empire. Further, these scholars argue that since there is no explicit reference to Antiochus Epiphanes IV (175-164 B.C.), a Seleucid king clearly under prophetic consideration in chapter 11, a date in the late third or early second century B.C. is most likely (see Collins, 1992a, 2:31; Whitehorne, 1992, 1:270).
The apparent reason for this conclusion among critical scholars is the predictive nature of the book of Daniel. It speaks precisely of events that transpired several hundred years removed from the period in which it claims to have been composed. Since the guiding principles of the historical-critical method preclude a transcendent God’s intervening in human affairs (see Brantley, 1994), the idea of inspired predictive prophecy is dismissed a priori from the realm of possibility. Accordingly, Daniel could not have spoken with such precision about events so remote from his day. Therefore, critical scholars conclude that the book was written actually as a historical record of events during the Maccabean period, but couched in apocalyptic or prophetic language. Such conclusions clearly deny that this book was the authentic composition of a Daniel who lived in the sixth century B.C., that the Bible affirms.
The Dead Sea Scrolls have lifted their voice in this controversy. Due to the amount of Daniel fragments found in various caves near Qumran, it appears that this prophetic book was one of the most treasured by that community. Perhaps the popularity of Daniel was due to the fact that the people of Qumran lived during the anxious period in which many of these prophecies actually were being fulfilled. For whatever reason, Daniel was peculiarly safeguarded to the extent that we have at our disposal parts of all chapters of Daniel, except chapters 9 and 12. However, one manuscript (4QDanc; 4 = Cave 4; Q = Qumran; Danc = one of the Daniel fragments arbitrarily designated “c” for clarification), published in November 1989, has been dated to the late second century B.C. (see Hasel, 1992, 5[2]:47). Two other major documents (4QDanb, 4QDana) have been published since 1987, and contribute to scholarly analysis of Daniel. These recently released fragments have direct bearing on the integrity and authenticity of the book of Daniel.


As in the case of Isaiah, before Qumran there were no extant manuscripts of Daniel that dated earlier than the late tenth century A.D. Accordingly, scholars cast suspicion on the integrity of Daniel’s text. Also, as with Isaiah, this skepticism about the credibility of Daniel’s contents prompted scholars to take great freedom in adjusting the Hebrew text. One reason for this suspicion is the seemingly arbitrary appearance of Aramaic sections within the book. Some scholars had assumed from this linguistic shift that Daniel was written initially in Aramaic, and then some portions were translated into Hebrew. Further, a comparison of the Septuagint translation (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) with the MT revealed tremendous disparity in length and content between the two texts. Due to these and other considerations, critical scholars assigned little value to the MT rendition of Daniel.
Once again, however, the findings at Qumran have confirmed the integrity of Daniel’s text. Gerhard Hasel listed several strands of evidence from the Daniel fragments found at Qumran that support the integrity of the MT (see 1992, 5[2]:50). First, for the most part, the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts of Daniel are very consistent in content among themselves, containing very few variants. Second, the Qumran fragments conform very closely to the MT overall, with only a few rare variants in the former that side with the Septuagint version. Third, the transitions from Hebrew to Aramaic are preserved in the Qumran fragments. Based on such overwhelming data, it is evident that the MT is a well-preserved rendition of Daniel. In short, Qumran assures us that we can be reasonably confident that the Daniel text on which our English translations are based is one of integrity. Practically speaking, this means that we have at our disposal, through faithful translations of the original, the truth God revealed to Daniel centuries ago.


The Daniel fragments found at Qumran also speak to the issue of Daniel’s authenticity. As mentioned earlier, conventional scholarship generally places the final composition of Daniel during the second century B.C. Yet, the book claims to have been written by a Daniel who lived in the sixth century B.C. However, the Dead Sea fragments of Daniel present compelling evidence for the earlier, biblical date of this book.
The relatively copious remains of Daniel indicate the importance of this book to the Qumran community. Further, there are clear indications that this book was considered “canonical” for the community, which meant it was recognized as an authoritative book on a par with other biblical books (e.g., Deuteronomy, Kings, Isaiah, Psalms). The canonicity of Daniel at Qumran is indicated, not only by the prolific fragments, but by the manner in which it is referenced in other materials. One fragment employs the quotation, “which was written in the book of Daniel the prophet.” This phrase, similar to Jesus’ reference to “Daniel the prophet” (Matthew 24:15), was a formula typically applied to quotations from canonical Scripture at Qumran (see Hasel, 1992, 5[2]:51).
The canonical status of Daniel at Qumran is important to the date and authenticity of the book. If, as critical scholars allege, Daniel reached its final form around 160 B.C., how could it have attained canonical status at Qumran in a mere five or six decades? While we do not know exactly how long it took for a book to reach such authoritative status, it appears that more time is needed for this development (see Bruce, 1988, pp. 27-42). Interestingly, even before the most recent publication of Daniel fragments, R.K. Harrison recognized that the canonical status of Daniel at Qumran militated against its being a composition of the Maccabean era, and served as confirmation of its authenticity (1969, p. 1126-1127).
Although Harrison made this observation in 1969, over three decades before the large cache of Cave 4 documents was made available to the general and scholarly public, no new evidence has refuted it. On the contrary, the newly released texts from Qumran have confirmed this conclusion. The canonical acceptance of Daniel at Qumran indicates the antiquity of the book’s composition—certainly much earlier than the Maccabean period. Hence, the most recent publications of Daniel manuscripts offer confirmation of Daniel’s authenticity; it was written when the Bible says it was written.
A final contribution from Qumran to the biblically claimed date for Daniel’s composition comes from linguistic considerations. Though, as we mentioned earlier, critical scholars argue that the Aramaic sections in Daniel indicate a second-century B.C. date of composition, the Qumran materials suggest otherwise. In fact, a comparison of the documents at Qumran with Daniel demonstrates that the Aramaic in Daniel is a much earlier composition than the second-centuryB.C. Such a comparison further demonstrates that Daniel was written in a region different from that of Judea. For example, the Genesis Apocryphon found in Cave 1 is a second-centuryB.C. document written in Aramaic—the same period during which critical scholars argue that Daniel was composed. If the critical date for Daniel’s composition were correct, it should reflect the same linguistic characteristics of the Genesis Apocryphon. Yet, the Aramaic of these two books is markedly dissimilar.
The Genesis Apocryphon, for example, tends to place the verb toward the beginning of the clause, whereas Daniel tends to defer the verb to a later position in the clause. Due to such considerations, linguists suggest that Daniel reflects an Eastern type Aramaic, which is more flexible with word order, and exhibits scarcely any Western characteristics at all. In each significant category of linguistic comparison (i.e., morphology, grammar, syntax, vocabulary), the Genesis Apocryphon (admittedly written in the second century B.C.) reflects a much later style than the language of Daniel (Archer, 1980, 136:143; cf. Yamauchi, 1980). Interestingly, the same is true when the Hebrew of Daniel is compared with the Hebrew preserved in the Qumran sectarian documents (i.e., those texts composed by the Qumran community reflecting their peculiar societal laws and religious customs). From such linguistic considerations provided by Qumran, Daniel hardly could have been written by a Jewish patriot in Judea during the early second-century B.C., as the critics charge.


There are, of course, critical scholars who, despite the evidence, continue to argue against the authenticity of Daniel and other biblical books. Yet, the Qumran texts have provided compelling evidence that buttresses our faith in the integrity of the manuscripts on which our translations are based. It is now up to Bible believers to allow these texts to direct our attention to divine concerns and become the people God intends us to be.


Archer, Gleason, Jr. (1974), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Archer, Gleason, Jr. (1980), “Modern Rationalism and the Book of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 136:129-147, April-June.
Archer, Gleason, Jr. (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Brantley, Garry K. (1994), “Biblical Miracles: Fact or Fiction?,” Reason and Revelation, 14:33-38, May.
Bruce, F.F. (1988), The Canon of Scriptures (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Collins, John J. (1992a), “Daniel, Book of,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday), 2:29-37.
Collins, John J. (1992b), “Dead Sea Scrolls,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday), 2:85-101.
Cross, Frank Moore (1992), “The Historical Context of the Scrolls,” Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Hershel Shanks (New York: Random House).
Geisler, Norman and Ronald Brooks (1989), When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor).
Geisler, Norman and William Nix (1986), A General Intorduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Harrison, R.K. (1969), Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hasel, Gerhard (1992), “New Light on the Book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 5[2]:45-53, Spring.
Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews,” The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, (Chicago, IL: John C. Winston; translated by William Whiston).
Major, Trevor (1993), “Dating in Archaeology: Radiocarbon and Tree-Ring Dating,” Reason and Revelation, 13:73-77, October.
Roberts, B.J. (1962), “Masora,” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon), 3:295.
Seow, C.L. (1987), A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (Nashville, TN: Abingdon).
Shanks, Hershel (1991), “Carbon-14 Tests Substantiate Scroll Dates,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 17[6]:72, November/December.
Whitehorne, John (1992), “Antiochus,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday), 1:269-272.
Yamauchi, Edwin (1972), The Stones and the Scriptures: An Evangelical Perspective (New York: Lippincott).
Yamauchi, Edwin (1980), “The Archaeological Background of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 137:3-16, January-March.

The Laws of Science —by God by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


The Laws of Science —by God

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

The laws of nature have been discovered through extensive scientific investigation—gathering mounds and mounds of evidence, all of which has proven consistently to point to one conclusion. They are, by definition, a concluding statement that has been drawn from the scientific evidence, and therefore, are in keeping with the rule of logic known as the Law of Rationality (Ruby, 1960, pp. 130-131). If anything can be said to be “scientific,” it is the laws of science, and to hold to a view or theory that contradicts the laws of science is, by definition, irrational, since such a theory would contradict the evidence from science.
The laws of science explain how things work in nature at all times—without exception. TheMcGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms defines a scientific law as “a regularity which applies to all members of a broad class of phenomena” (2003, p. 1182, emp. added). Notice that the writers use the word “all” rather than “some” or even “most.” There are no exceptions to a law of science. Wherever a law is applicable, it has been found to be without exception.
Evolutionists endorse wholeheartedly the laws of science. Evolutionary geologist Robert Hazen, a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Lab, who graduated with a Ph.D. from Harvard, in his lecture series on the origin of life, states, “In this lecture series, I make an assumption that life emerged [i.e., spontaneously generated—JM] from basic raw materials through a sequence of events that was completely consistent with the natural laws of chemistry and physics” (Hazen, 2005, emp. added). Even on something as unfounded as postulating the origin of life from non-life—a proposition which flies in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary—evolutionists do not wish to resort to calling such a phenomenon anexception to the laws of nature. After all, there are no exceptions to the laws. Instead, they hope, without evidence, that their claims will prove to be in keeping with some elusive, hitherto undiscovered, scientific evidence in the future that will be “completely consistent with the natural laws.” [NOTE: Such an approach is the equivalent of brushing aside the mounds of evidence for the existence of gravity in order to develop a theory that asserts that tomorrow, all humanity will start levitating up from the surface of the Earth. Science has already spoken on that matter, and to postulate such a theory would be unscientific. It would go against the evidence from science. Similarly, science has already spoken on the matter of life from non-life and shown that abiogenesis does not occur in nature, according to the Law of Biogenesis (seeMiller, 2012), or in the words of Hazen, abiogenesis is completely inconsistent “with the natural laws of chemistry and physics.” And yet he, along with all atheistic evolutionists, continues to promote evolutionary theory in spite of this crucial piece of evidence to the contrary.] Evolutionists believe in the natural laws, even if they fail to concede the import of their implications with regard to atheistic evolution.
Richard Dawkins, a world renowned evolutionary biologist and professor of zoology at Oxford University, put his stamp of endorsement on the laws of nature as well. While conjecturing (without evidence) about the possibility of life in outer space, he said, “But that higher intelligence would, itself, had to have come about by some ultimately explicable process. It couldn’t have just jumped into existence spontaneously” (Stein and Miller, 2008). Dawkins admits that life could not pop into existence from non-life. But why? Because that would contradict a well-known and respected law of science that is based on mounds of scientific evidence and that has no exception: the Law of Biogenesis. Of course evolution, which Dawkins wholeheartedly subscribes to, requires abiogenesis, which contradicts the Law of Biogenesis. However, notice that Dawkins so respects the laws of nature that he cannot bring himself to consciously and openly admit that his theory requires the violation of said law. Self-delusion can be a powerful narcotic.
Famous atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, highly reveres the laws of science as well. In 2011, he hosted a show on Discovery Channel titled, “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” In that show, he said,
[T]he Universe is a machine governed by principles or laws—laws that can be understood by the human mind. I believe that the discovery of these laws has been humankind’s greatest achievement…. But what’s really important is that these physical laws, as well as being unchangeable, are universal. They apply not just to the flight of the ball, but to the motion of a planet and everything else in the Universe. Unlike laws made by humans, the laws of nature cannot ever be broken. That’s why they are so powerful (“Curiosity…,” 2011, emp. added).
According to Hawking, the laws of nature exist, are unbreakable (i.e., without exception), and apply to the entire Universe—not just to the Earth.
Again, the atheistic evolutionary community believes in the existence of and highly respects the laws of science (i.e., when those laws coincide with the evolutionist’s viewpoints) and would not wish to consciously deny or contradict them. Sadly, they do so, and often, when it comes to their beloved atheistic, origin theories. But that admission by the evolutionary community presents a major problem for atheism. Humanist Martin Gardner said,
Imagine that physicists finally discover all the basic waves and their particles, and all the basic laws, and unite everything in one equation. We can then ask, “Why that equation?” It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing. There had to be quantum laws to fluctuate. And why are there quantum laws?...There is no escape from the superultimate questions: Why is there something rather than nothing, and why is the something structured the way it is? (2000, p. 303, emp. added).
Even if Big Bang cosmology were correct (and it is not), you still can’t have a law without a law writer. In “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” Hawking boldly claims that everything in the Universe can be accounted for through atheistic evolution without the need of God. This is untrue, as we have discussed elsewhere (e.g., Miller, 2011), but notice that Hawking does not even believe that assertion himself. He said, “Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, did we need a god to set it all up so that the Big Bang could bang?” (“Curiosity…”). He provided no answer to these crucial questions—not even an attempt. And he is not alone. No atheist can provide an adequate answer to those questions.
The eminent atheistic, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, Paul Davies, noted Hawking’s sidestep of that question in the “round table discussion” on the Discovery Channel following “Curiosity,” titled, “The Creation Question: a Curiosity Conversation.” Concerning Hawking, Davies said,
In the show, Stephen Hawking gets very, very close to saying, “Well, where did the laws of physics come from? That’s where we might find some sort of God.” And then he backs away and doesn’t return to the subject…. You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws (“The Creation Question…,” 2011).
In his book, The Grand Design, Hawking tries (and fails) to submit a way that the Universe could have created itself from nothing in keeping with the laws of nature without God—an impossible concept, to be sure. He says, “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing” (2010, p. 180). Of course, even if such were possible (and it is not), he does not explain where the law of gravity came from. A more rational statement would have been the following: “Because there is a law like gravity, the Universe must have been created by God.”
Just as the evidence says that you cannot have a poem without a poet, a fingerprint without a finger, or a material effect without a cause, a law must be written by someone. But the atheistic community does not believe in the “Someone” Who alone could have written the laws of nature. So the atheist stands in the dark mist of irrationality—holding to a viewpoint that contradicts the evidence. However, the Christian has no qualms with the existence of the laws of nature. They provide no problem or inconsistency with the Creation model. Long before the laws of thermodynamics were formally articulated in the 1850s and long before the Law of Biogenesis was formally proven by Louis Pasteur in 1864, the laws of science were written in stone and set in place to govern the Universe by the Being in Whom we believe. Recall the last few chapters of the book of Job, where God commenced a speech, humbling Job with the awareness that Job’s knowledge and understanding of the workings of the Universe were extremely deficient in comparison with the omniscience and omnipotence of Almighty God. Two of the humbling questions that God asked Job to ponder were, “Do you know the ordinances [“laws”—NIV] of the heavens? Can you set their dominion [“rule”—ESV] over the earth?” (Job 38:33). These were rhetorical questions, and the obvious answer from Job was, “No, Sir.” He could not even know of all the laws, much less could he understand them, and even less could he have written them and established their rule over the Earth. Only a Supreme Being transcendent of the natural Universe would have the power to do such a thing.
According to the Creation model and in keeping with the evidence, that Supreme Being is the God of the Bible, Who created everything in the Universe in six literal days, only a few thousand years ago. In the words of the 19th-century song writer, Lowell Mason, “Praise the Lord, for He hath spoken; worlds His mighty voice obeyed; laws which never shall be broken, for their guidance He hath made. Hallelujah! Amen” (Howard, 1977, #427).


“The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
“Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Gardner, Martin (2000), Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? (New York: W.W. Norton).
Hawking, Stephen (2010), The Grand Design (New York, NY: Bantam Books).
Hazen, Robert (2005), Origins of Life (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company).
Howard, Alton (1977), “Praise the Lord,” Songs of the Church (West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing).
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (2003), pub. M.D. Licker (New York: McGraw-Hill), sixth edition.
Miller, Jeff  (2011), “A Review of Discovery Channel’s ‘Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?’”Reason & Revelation, 31[10]:98-107, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1004&article=1687.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Ruby, Lionel (1960), Logic: An Introduction (Chicago, IL: J.B. Lippincott).
Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).

Was Peter the First Pope? by Moisés Pinedo


Was Peter the First Pope?

by Moisés Pinedo

Many advocates of petrine tradition will argue that Peter was appointed the “first pope.” Consider some of the arguments that are presented in favor of this assertion.

Argument #1: Peter received the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19).

With this statement Catholicism argues that Peter was granted supreme power or authority over the church. Although the context in Matthew supports no such interpretation, people of various religions agree that Peter was granted “something special” that was given to no other apostle. This “something” has often been misinterpreted.
We need to understand what “kingdom of heaven” means. Some people have suggested that it refers to heaven itself, and thus, they have represented Peter as the one who allows or prevents access into the eternal reward. But this interpretation is inconceivable since it finds itself in clear opposition to the context of this passage. Reading Matthew 16:18, we understand that the subject under discussion is not heaven itself, but the church. Therefore, Jesus spoke of the church as being the kingdom of heaven. This is shown not only in the context of Matthew 16:18, but it also is taught in many other passages throughout the New Testament (e.g., Mark 9:1; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 12:28).
Further, we need to understand the nature of the “keys” given to Peter. H. Leo Boles wrote, “To use the keys was to open the door or give the terms of entrance into the kingdom of God” (1952, p. 348). In other words, because of Peter’s confession about Jesus (Matthew 16:16), Jesus gave him the privilege of being the first man to tell lost souls how to become Christians and thus become part of the Lord’s church. Barnes put it this way:
When the Saviour says, therefore, he will give to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he means that he will make him the instrument of opening the door of faith to the world—the first to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles (2005a, p. 171, italics in orig.).
There is no doubt that the “keys” represent the opportunities Peter would have to welcome the world, for the very first time, to the Christian age and to the kingdom of heaven—the church.
Also, we need to know when Peter used the “keys.” Jesus’ declaration was in a prophetic form. Peter would have the opportunity to open the doors of the church in the future. The Bible clearly shows us the fulfillment of this prophecy in Acts 2. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit like the other apostles (2:4), stood and gave the first recorded Gospel sermon after the resurrection of Jesus (2:14-38). It was at that moment when Jesus’ words were fulfilled. Because of the preaching of Peter and the other apostles, 3,000 Jews (cf. 2:5) were baptized into Christ and entered through the open doors of the church (2:41-47). However, the church would be composed not only of Jews, but also Gentiles. Acts 10 tells us that Peter opened the doors of the church to the Gentiles, in the same way he opened the doors of the church to the Jews. This was the “special something” given to Peter because of his confession—the privilege of being the first to preach the Gospel (after the resurrection of Christ) to both the Jews and the Gentiles.
Peter opened the doors of the church, and since then the doors of the church have remained open. Only Peter received this privilege. Jesus said, “I will give you [Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19, emp. added). There are no individuals, such as popes, opening and closing the doors of the church.

Argument #2: Peter received the power of binding and loosing (Matthew 16:19).

With this argument Catholicism affirms two things concerning Peter: (1) that he received the authority to forgive sins; and (2) that Jesus considered anything Peter would do with His church as approved, authoritative, and good. In other words, Jesus gave him the gift of “infallibility.”
In order to analyze what Jesus said about Peter, we must take into account that the context of Matthew 16:19 is linked to the subject of the church, and not to the forgiveness of sins or the concession of some kind of infallibility about doctrinal matters. A biblical text that can help us understand Matthew 16:19 is Matthew 18:18, where Jesus made the same promise to all His apostles. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Of this text, Boles has noted, “This is the same thought as in Matt. 16:19. This shows that it has a broader application than that of the discipline of an erring brother. The Holy Spirit would guide the apostles in their instruction to the erring brother and the church” (1952, p. 377, emp. added). In His declaration in Matthew 16:19, Jesus affirmed that the conditions of the Christian system that Peter and the other apostles would expound already had been required by Heaven.
The Greek grammar of these verses sheds more light on the meaning of Jesus’ statement. A.T. Robertson noted that “[t]he passive perfect future occurs in the N.T. only in the periphrastic form in such examples as Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18” (1934, p. 361). Therefore, the text should read, “whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.” By saying this, Jesus declared that resolutions made on Earth were subject to decisions made in heaven. The apostles would preach in accordance with what was already bound or loosed in heaven. This was based not on the infallibility of a man, but on the infallibility of the Holy Spirit promised to the apostles in the first century (John 16:13; cf. Matthew 10:19-20). Today we have the inspired, infallible teachings of the Holy Spirit recorded for us in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Jesus never established Peter as a pope. The titles “Pope,” “Universal Bishop,” “Earthly Head of the Church,” “Pontiff,” and others never came from the mouth of Jesus to describe Peter. Regardless of the privileges given to Peter, his authority and rights were the same authority and rights given to the other apostles of the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1-5; 12:28; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11; Galatians 2:8).


If Peter was not the first pope, then the question becomes, “Who was Peter?” Was he equal to the other apostles, or did he deserve a position of supremacy among the others? The arguments that establish Peter’s identity may be presented as follows.

Argument #1: Peter was only a man.

Although this declaration is obvious to many, sometimes its implications are overlooked. When Cornelius lay prostrate before Peter (cf. Acts 10:25), he told him, “Stand up; I too am just a man” (Acts 10:26, NASB). With this statement Peter implied three very important points: (a) that he was “too...a man”—that is to say, a man just like Cornelius; (b) that he was “a man”—that is to say, just like all men; and (c) that he was “just a man”—that is to say that he was not God, and ultimately was unworthy of worship. Peter, with all humility, understood that his human nature prevented him from accepting worship. On the other hand, the pope, being just a man like Peter, expects men to bow before him, kiss his feet, and revere him, thus receiving worship that does not belong to him. What a difference between Peter and his alleged successors! Not even God’s angels allow men to show adoration by kneeling before them (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). One can only be astonished at the tremendous audacity of one who usurps the place that belongs only to God!

Argument #2: Peter was an apostle with the same authority and rights as the other apostles.

On one occasion, the apostles of the Lord were arguing about who was the greatest among them (Luke 22:24), so Jesus told them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them.... But not so among you” (Luke 22:25-26, emp. added; cf. Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48). Jesus never would have made this comment if Peter had more authority and rights than the other apostles as Catholicism suggests. In fact, if Peter was to be considered more honorable than the other apostles, this would have been the opportune time to clarify this point to the rest of the apostles who were “hungry for another’s glory.” However, Jesus assured them that this would not be the case among His apostles.
On another occasion, the mother of John and James came before Jesus with them, asking Him to allow her two sons to sit by Him in His kingdom, one on the right and the other on the left (Matthew 20:20-21). Jesus pointed out that they did not know what they were asking (Matthew 20:22), and added, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them.... Yet it shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:25-26, emp. added). If Jesus considered Peter as greater than the other disciples, He could have clarified the issue immediately by telling Zebedee’s wife and sons that they were asking for an honor already given to Peter. But, He did not do that. Today it seems that many religious people want to make it so, and exalt Peter above the other apostles, in spite of what Jesus said.
Many Catholics try to justify their claim that Peter was the first pope by affirming that he was the greatest of the apostles. They declare that Peter was greater because: (1) he always is mentioned first in the lists of the apostles (e.g., Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13); (2) he was the apostle who recognized Jesus as Lord in Matthew 16:16; and (3) Jesus told him to care for His sheep (John 21:15-19). Are these arguments sufficient for establishing the papacy or supremacy for Peter? No. Consider the case for any other apostle. For example, it could be said that John was the “greatest” of the apostles because: (1) in the Bible he is referred to as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 21:20,24); (2) he rested on Jesus’ bosom just before His arrest (John 13:25; 21:20)—certainly a posture that suggests a close relationship; and (3) Jesus charged him with the responsibility of caring for His mother (John 19:26-27). Does this mean that we also should consider John as a pope? If not, should we consider Peter as a pope when all of the apostles had the same authority and their own privileges? Indeed, Jesus gave all of His disciples, not just Peter, authority (Matthew 28:19-20).
Finally, consider the words of Paul. He said: “[F]or in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing” (2 Corinthians 12:11). From this verse, we conclude that Paul was inferior to none of the apostles, and that Peter was neither lesser nor greater than Paul.

Argument #3: Peter was an apostle who had the same power as the other apostles.

Some religious people have spread the myth that Peter possessed more miraculous power than the other apostles, and that, therefore, he was greater than the rest. Yet, Matthew 17:14-21 presents the account of an epileptic boy who was brought to the disciples of Jesus (including Peter), but they could not heal him. If Peter had a power that was “more effective” than the other apostles’ power, he should have been able to perform this miracle. However, the boy was healed only after he was taken to Jesus. Jesus then reprimanded all the apostles for their lack of faith.
Near the end of His ministry, Jesus promised all of His disciples that “he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do” (John 14:12). In Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit came with power, He empowered not only Peter, but also the rest of the apostles (vss. 1-4). This is confirmed when we read that “fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43, emp. added). There is no doubt that the apostle Peter was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, but that power also was manifested in the rest of the apostles and was never grounds for considering one apostle as being superior to another.

Argument #4: Peter was a man who made mistakes.

Peter committed many mistakes just as any other person. The New Testament records that he: (a) doubted Jesus (Matthew 14:28-31); (b) acted impulsively against his fellow man (John 18:10-11); (c) denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18,25-27); (d) was overwhelmed by his failure (John 21:3); and (e) acted hypocritically before the church (Galatians 2:11-21; Paul “withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed”—a confrontation that would have been considered insolent if Peter was the “head of the church”). We should not belittle Peter, but we must understand that Peter, like all servants of God, had his faults and should never be considered greater than the other apostles, or any other Christian (cf. Matthew 11:11).


Neither Jesus, nor the apostles, nor the early Christians considered Peter as superior to the other apostles. He was simply a man privileged to be part of the apostolic ministry and a member of the body of Christ, which is the church. There is only one Head of the church, and that Head is Jesus Christ, not Peter (Ephesians 1:20-22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; et al.).


Barnes, Albert (2005), Notes on the New Testament: Matthew and Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Boles, H. Leo (1952), The Gospel According to Matthew (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Robertson, A.T. (1934), A Grammar of The Greek New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).