"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Obadiah - The Judgment Of Edom (1:1-21) INTRODUCTION 1. The first of the "The Minor Prophets" we shall consider is Obadiah, whose book is the shortest of all books in the Old Testament 2. His name means "Servant of Yahweh (Jehovah)", and was quite common... a. Thirteen different people are called by this name in the Old Testament b. One Jewish tradition identifies him as the one who was Ahab's steward 1) Who hid 100 prophets from Jezebel, Ahab's wife - 1Ki 18:3-4 2) Who feared the Lord from his youth - 1Ki 18:12 c. He may have also been... 1) The Obadiah sent by Jehoshaphat to teach the law in Judah - 2Ch 17:7 2) The Obadiah who was one of the overseers in repairing the temple under Josiah - 2Ch 34:12 -- Whoever this Obadiah was, his message contains valuable lessons for us today [Before looking at the book itself, let's consider some...] I. BACKGROUND INFORMATION A. THE DATE... 1. Two dates are often proposed: 845 B.C. and 586 B.C. 2. The prophet refers to an attack on Jerusalem; commentators offer these two possibilities: a. The days of Jehoram (848-844 B.C.), when Philistines and Arabians attacked the city - 2Ch 21:8-10,16-17 b. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (586 B.C.) 3. The internal evidence appears to support the early date of 845 B.C. (Keil, Hailey) a. The language of Obadiah is much different from Jeremiah b. There is no mention of the destruction of the temple, the deportation to Babylon, the remnant who went to Egypt -- I accept the early date, that it was around 845 B.C. B. THE MESSAGE... 1. The fall of Edom a. Because of its pride b. And its cruelty against Israel, their cousins 2. The exaltation of Zion a. When Seir, the Edomite counterpart of Zion, will be cast down b. The rescued of Israel will be in Zion, for in it the redeemed shall be found -- For this reason I have subtitled this lesson as "The Judgment Of Edom" C. THE HISTORY OF EDOM... 1. The people of Edom descended from Esau, Jacob's twin brother 2. There was sibling rivalry between Edom and Israel, found first in Esau and Jacob a. The twins struggled in their mother's womb - Gen 25:22-26 b. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob - Gen 25:27-34 c. Jacob stole Esau's blessing as the firstborn - Gen 27 3. While Jacob and Esau eventually reconciled (Gen 32-33), their descendants were often at odds with one another a. In the Exodus, Edom refused Israel passage through their land - Num 20:14-21 b. Edom was finally subjected by David - 2Sa 8:13-14 c. During the reign of Jehoram, Edom revolted - 2Ki 8:20-22 4. Located south of the Dead Sea, they built their cities in the cliffs and thought themselves impregnable 5. After the prophecy of Obadiah... a. The Edomites were overcome by the Nabataeans, forced to settle south of Judah b. Around 100 B.C., they were conquered by John Hyrcanus of the Maccabees 1) Who forced many of them to be circumcised and accept the Law 2) As such, many became nominal Jewish proselytes (Herod the Great was one) c. By 100 A.D., Edom as a race and nation had become lost to history [With this background, let's now read through the prophecy of Obadiah, with the aid of the following...] II. OUTLINE OF THE BOOK A. THE COMING JUDGMENT ON EDOM (1-9) 1. The decree has gone forth to the nations (1) 2. Deceived by pride in her location, Edom will be brought down (2-4) 3. Destruction will be complete (5-6) 4. Edom will be betrayed by allies (7) 5. Not even wisdom and might can save them (8-9) B. THE REASON FOR JUDGMENT ON EDOM (10-16) 1. For violence and unbrotherly conduct toward Jacob (10-11) 2. A rebuke against such conduct (12-14) 3. Therefore the "Day of the Lord" for them will mean receiving the same sort of treatment! (15-16) C. THE EXALTATION OF ISRAEL OVER EDOM (17-21) 1. Deliverance and holiness will be found on Mt. Zion, not Mt. Seir (the prominent mountain in Edom)! (17a) 2. The house of Jacob shall consume the house of Esau (17b-18) 3. The children of Israel will possess Edom and surrounding nations (19-20) 4. The ultimate rule will be that of the Lord's (21) [With this brief perusal of Obadiah's "vision" concerning Edom (1), here are some thoughts regarding...] III. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROPHECY A. ITS IMMEDIATE FULFILLMENT... 1. Edom's destruction began with the Babylonian invasion under Nebuchadnezzar (ca. 600 B.C.) 2. It continued into the fourth century B.C. with the invasion of the Arabs known as the Nabataeans, forcing them to a region south of Judah 3. In the second century B.C., the Maccabees brought them under subjection when Judas Maccabeus slew twenty thousand of them 4. John Hyrcanus (134-104 B.C.) forced the remnant to accept circumcision and the Law B. ITS ULTIMATE FULFILLMENT... 1. May likely have been with the coming of the Messiah (Jesus Christ)! 2. For with His coming, and the establishment of the spiritual kingdom beginning in Jerusalem... a. Deliverance and holiness did come from Mt. Zion (i.e. Jerusalem)! - Lk 24:47 b. The kingdom (rule) is the Lord's! - cf. Lk 1:31-34; Mt 28: 18; 1Pe 3:22; Re 1:5 c. The house of Jacob (i.e., the true spiritual Israel) did possess Edom as the Gentiles among them became Christians! - cf. Ro 11:13-18 (where faithful Gentiles are spoken as being grafted into the stock of Israel) 3. As support for this interpretation, consider: a. The prophecy of Balaam - Num 24:15-19 1) Which foretells how "A Star shall come out of Jacob, A Scepter shall rise out of Israel" (the Messiah?) 2) And how Edom will be come a possession b. The prophecy of Amos - Am 9:11-12 c. The application by James at the council in Jerusalem-Ac 15:13-17 1) Who understood the conversion of the Gentiles to be a fulfillment of Amos 2) Therefore the fulfillment is figurative, not literal, as Gentiles become Christians [Finally, a few thoughts about some...] IV. LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF OBADIAH A. "PRIDE GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION..." - Pr 16:18 1. Pride leads to vanity and a sense of independence from God 2. Just as Edom took pride in their geographical location, allies, wisdom and might 3. Such arrogance God will punish - cf. Isa 13:9-11 -- Are we on guard against such pride? B. DO NOT MISTREAT YOUR BRETHREN... 1. This was Edom's guilt also (10) 2. How we treat our brethren affects our relationship with the Lord - cf. 1Co 8:12 -- Are we careful about our dealings with our brethren? C. "DO NOT REJOICE WHEN YOUR ENEMY FALLS..." - Pr 24:17-18 1. This Edom did when Judah was plundered (12) 2. This sort of gloating is displeasing to God! -- Do we rejoice when our enemy falls? D. IN TIME OF DIVINE JUDGMENT, GOD PROVIDES A MEANS AND PLACE OF ESCAPE FOR THOSE WHO TURN TO HIM... 1. Note again verse 17, where Mount Zion would become a place of deliverance 2. Today, spiritual Mount Zion is a place to which we can turn - cf. He 12:22-24 3. It is a place where we can find: a. "the city of the living God" b. "the heavenly Jerusalem" c. "an innumerable company of angels" d. "the firstborn registered in heaven" e. "God the Judge of all" f. "the spirits of just men made perfect" g. "Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant" h. "the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel" -- Of course, this is what we come to as we obey the gospel of Christ! CONCLUSION 1. With this brief look at "The Book Of Obadiah", we have seen that... a. The prophets were not limited in their prophecies to just the nation of Israel b. God held the heathen nations accountable for their actions c. While it was written primarily to comfort the Israelites in Obadiah's day, there are lessons to be gleaned for us as well d. The message of hope may have had its ultimate fulfillment in what we can enjoy ourselves today, in the person and work of Jesus! 2. In verse 15, we find the expression "the day of the Lord"... a. An expression often used by the prophets referring to God's judgment upon the nations b. The particular "day of the Lord" of which Obadiah wrote was "near", and was fulfilled with the destruction of Edom c. But there is another "day of the Lord" yet to come...! 1) Of which God's judgments upon the nations were only a shadow, a type 2) Peter writes of that day, in which the whole world will be judged - 2Pe 3:7-13 Are we ready for that "day of the Lord"? Or do we in our arrogance take pride in our wisdom, might, or position in life? If so, "the pride of your heart has deceived you" (3). How much better to humbly recognize that... "...on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness;" (Ob 1:17) Have you come to Mount Zion, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant?
"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Introduction To The Minor Prophets INTRODUCTION 1. While Christians are not under the Old Testament as a system of justification, the OT is of great value for us today... a. Written for our learning, it is a source of comfort and hope - Ro 15:4 b. Written for our admonition, we learn what mistakes to avoid - 1Co 10:11 c. As with all scripture inspired of God, it is profitable "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" - cf. 2Ti 3:14-17 2. This is especially true with regard to "The Minor Prophets"... a. A collection of twelve books that make up the last part of the Old Testament b. Beginning with Hosea, and ending with Malachi 3. Those willing to study these books will find their lives enriched as they increase... a. Their knowledge of God's holiness, righteousness, justice and mercy b. Their understanding of God's dealings in the nations of men c. Their appreciation of the Bible as a literary masterpiece [With this lesson, we begin a series of studies in which we will survey "The Minor Prophets". Before we examine our first book, some introductory material may prove helpful...] I. WHO WERE THE PROPHETS? A. THE OLD COVENANT HAD DIFFERENT KINDS OF INSTRUCTORS... 1. There was Moses, the lawgiver - Neh 8:1,14; 9:13-14; Jn 1:17; 7:19 2. There were the priests, administrators of the law - Lev 10: 8-11; Hos 4:6; Eze 22:26; Mal 2:7 3. There were the wise men, who gave counsel - 2Sa 14:1-24; 20:16-22 4. There were the psalmists, poets who were the "sweet singers" of Israel - cf. 2Sa 23:1; 1Ch 6:33 5. There were the prophets, communicators of the Word of God B. A "PROPHET" WAS A SPOKESMAN FOR ANOTHER... 1. Like Aaron was for his brother Moses - Exo 4:16; 7:1 2. The word literally means "to boil up like a fountain" 3. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, a prophet... a. Was a spokesman for God - 2Pe 1:21 b. Was given something to say, and had to say it! - Jer 20:7-9 4. A prophet was primarily a "forth-teller", though sometimes a "fore-teller" a. God's word often pertained to future events b. The fulfilled prophecies of these prophets are therefore a strong proof of inspiration -- But much of their word concerned not the future, but current events C. OTHER DESIGNATIONS HELP TO DEFINE THE ROLE OF A PROPHET... 1. Early in Israel's history they were called "seers" - 1Sa 9:9 2. Another appellation was "man of God" - 1Sa 9:6; 1Ki 17:18 3. Also known as a "servant of God" - 1Ki 18:36; 1Ch 6:49 4. They served as God's "messenger" - Isa 42:19 5. They were also assigned the role of "watchman" - Eze 3:17; 33:7 [The prophets were therefore servants of God, divinely appointed and inspired to proclaim His Word. At times, they were messengers of God's word as it applied to the present, serving as watchmen of the people of God; other times, God's message pertained to the future, and as such they were "seers" of things to come.] II. HOW ARE THE PROPHETS CLASSIFIED? A. IT IS COMMON TO SPEAK OF "ORAL" AND "LITERARY" PROPHETS... 1. The "oral" prophets are those who left no writings bearing their names a. Such as Elijah and Elisha - cf. 1Ki 17; 2Ki 2 b. Many others, including Nathan (2Sa 12), Gad
(2 Sam 24:11), Ahijah (1Ki 11:29) 2. Those who left books bearing their names are called the "literary" prophets B. THE LITERARY PROPHETS ARE CATEGORIZED AS "MAJOR" AND "MINOR" PROPHETS... 1. Augustine is credited with being the first to classify them in this way 2. The distinction pertains only to the length of the books a. The "major prophets" include the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel b. The "minor prophets" are those twelve books from Hosea to Malachi [As we consider the works of the "literary" prophets, we should note that the order of the books in our Bibles is not chronological. Therefore it may serve useful to review...] III. THE LITERARY PROPHETS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER Please note: Dating the prophets is not without controversy, and with some it can be very difficult. What I provide below are the estimates among many conservative scholars... A. NINTH CENTURY (EARLY ASSYRIAN PERIOD) 1. Obadiah (ca. 845 B.C) 2. Joel (ca 830 B.C.) 3. Jonah (790-750 B.C.) -- This is during the period of "The Divided Kingdom" in Israel's history; to the north and east the empire of Assyria was beginning to make its presence known in Israel B. EIGHTH CENTURY (ASSYRIAN PERIOD) 1. Amos (755 B.C.) 2. Hosea (750-725 B.C.) 3. Isaiah (740-700 B.C.) 4. Micah (735-700 B.C.) -- In 722 B.C., the northern kingdom of Israel was taken into Assyrian captivity; these prophets were proclaiming God's message as the nation was being threatened from the north C. SEVENTH CENTURY (CHALDEAN PERIOD) 1. Jeremiah (626-586 B.C.) 2. Zephaniah (630-625 B.C.) 3. Nahum (625-612 B.C.) 4. Habakkuk (625-605 B.C.) -- Assyria was eventually defeated by Babylon; these prophets served as God's messengers when the Babylonian empire threatened the kingdom of Judah D. SIXTH CENTURY (THE EXILE) 1. Ezekiel (593-570 B.C.) 2. Daniel (605-536 B.C.) -- Like many of their countrymen, these prophets were taken into Babylonian captivity; from Babylon they served as God's messengers to both captives and kings E. SIXTH AND FIFTH CENTURIES (POST-EXILIC PERIOD) 1. Haggai (520 B.C.) 2. Zechariah (520-518 B.C.) 3. Malachi (ca. 440 B.C.) -- After the Jews were allowed to return home from Babylonian captivity, God used Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to rebuild the temple; later, Malachi was used to reform the priesthood during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah [Finally, here are some thoughts on...] IV. UNDERSTANDING THE MESSAGE OF THE PROPHETS A. THREE THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND AS YOU STUDY THE PROPHETS... 1. Seek to understand the political, social and religious conditions of the times a. Any interpretation must consider how the message was relevant for the people to whom the prophet spoke b. Secondary fulfillment of prophecy is often found in the NT, but this can be understood only when applied by inspired writers of the NT c. Guard against making interpretations that are purely speculative d. Any application to modern events must be carefully harmonized in light of the NT 2. Consider God's relation to the heathen nations (i.e., other than Israel and Judah) a. The prophets often revealed how God directed their destiny and judged them b. This may provide insight as to how Christ rules the nations today! - cf. Mt 28:18; Re 1:5; 2:26;27 3. Note any teaching regarding the Messiah and His coming kingdom - Ac 26:6-7; 28:20 a. The immediate mission of most prophets was to save God's people from idolatry and wickedness b. Failing that, they were sent to announce God's judgment and the coming destruction of the nation c. But many prophets left a message of hope for the future, regarding the Messiah who would come and establish a kingdom that could never be destroyed! B. SOME OF THE GREAT THEMES DEVELOPED BY THE PROPHETS... 1. The holiness of God - He is absolutely pure, righteous, just, merciful, tender, loving, and longsuffering 2. The sovereignty of God - He rules the universe and is above all 3. The immutability of God's word a. He carries out His promises b. One can depend upon Him to act consistently with His Word 4. The terribleness of sin a. God abhors iniquity, and will not tolerate, overlook, nor excuse it b. But He is willing to forgive those who humbly repent 5. Repentance and righteousness a. This is the clarion call of the prophets b. Though severe is God's punishment of the wicked, yet God's mercy is great in loving kindness upon the righteous who are of broken spirit and contrite heart 6. The worship due God - The proper reverence, awe, and respect for God will cause one to praise Him and give thanks for His wonderful grace and mercy! CONCLUSION 1. Why study "The Minor Prophets"? a. This question was asked by a dear sister in Christ, when I preached this series before b. She did not see the value of Christians studying this portion of the Old Testament c. Yet, she later remarked how much she got out of our study 2. Why study "The Minor Prophets"? Because in them we learn about... a. The nature of God, His holiness, justice, righteousness and mercy b. The workings of God, as He dealt with nations, bringing judgment upon the guilty ...which can help us in our relationship with God today, giving us comfort and hope to face the future, knowing that God is in ultimate control! I hope this brief introduction has whetted your appetite to study "The Minor Prophets". Our next lesson will begin the study in earnest with a look at the book of Obadiah...
Fact—The New Testament is the Most Historically Accurate Book Ever Written
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Dismissing the miracles documented in the New Testament is a favorite pastime of many skeptics, and even some liberal-thinking religious leaders. However, this “dismissal” game gets extremely complicated because the miracles are so closely blended with historical facts that separating the two soon becomes like trying to separate two different colors of Play-Doh.® Take, for instance, the plight of Sir William Ramsay. His extensive education had engrained within him the keenest sense of scholarship. Along with that sense of scholarship came a built-in prejudice about the supposed inaccuracy of the Bible (especially the book of Acts). Ramsay noted: “…[A]bout 1880 to 1890 the book of the Acts was regarded as the weakest part of the New Testament. No one that had any regard for his reputation as a scholar cared to say a word in its defence [sic]. The most conservative of theological scholars, as a rule, thought the wisest plan of defence [sic] for the New Testament as a whole was to say as little as possible about the Acts” (1915, p. 38).
As could be expect of a person trained by such “scholars,” Ramsay held the same view—for a while. He held the view only for a brief time, however, because he did what few people of his time dared to do. He decided to explore the actual Bible lands with an open Bible—with the intention of proving the inaccuracy of Luke’s history as found in the book of Acts. However, much to his surprise, the book of Acts passed every test that any historical narrative could be asked to pass. After his investigation of the Bible lands, he was forced to conclude:
The renowned archaeologist Nelson Glueck put it like this:
It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which conform in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible (1959, p. 31).
Considering the fact that the land of Palestine in the days of the New Testament writers tossed and turned on a sea of political, economical, and social unrest, I would say that its historical accuracy is pretty amazing. Travel to the Holy Lands and see for yourself if you doubt New Testament accuracy. Carry with you an honest, open mind and a New Testament, and I assure you that you will respect the New Testament writers as accurate historians by the end of your journey.
REFERENCESGlueck, Nelson (1959), Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Cudahy).
Ramsay, William (1915), The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1975 reprint).
Divine Design and the Pine Tree
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The naturalistic explanation given by evolutionists for the existence of the created order cannot meet the dictates of logic that characterize the unencumbered, unprejudiced human mind. The more one investigates the intricacies and complexities of the natural realm, the more self-evident it is that a grand and great Designer is responsible for the existence of the Universe. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming and decisive.
Take, for example, the pine tree. Some 120 species and subspecies of the pine tree exist worldwide (“What Are...?,” n.d.). The Ponderosa pine tree (pinus ponderosa) is one of America’s abundant tree species, covering approximately 27 million acres of land (“Ponderosa Pine,” 1995). A young Ponderosa pine has brownish-black bark that changes to a distinctive orange-brown color as the tree grows older. The bark is segmented into large plate-like structures whose appearance has been likened to a jigsaw puzzle. This unusual design has a purpose. If the tree catches fire, these plates pop off as the bark burns. The tree, in effect, sheds its burning bark! This design, along with the great thickness of the bark, allows the tree to be very resistant to low intensity fires (“Ponderosa Pine,” n.d.). Since design demands a designer, who is responsible for this intricate design?
Courtesy sxc.hu and Jesse Adams
Yet another species of pine tree is the Whitebark Pine (pinus albicaulis). This tree possesses a symbiotic relationship with a bird species known as the Clark’s Nutcracker. The tree is dependent on this bird for reproduction, while the seed of the tree is a major source of food for the bird. This mutualistic relationship is further seen in the fact that Whitebark pinecones do not open and cast seed when they are ripe. The cones remain closed until the Nutcracker comes along, pries the cone open with its bill, and stores the seed within a pouch beneath its tongue. The bird then caches the seed to be used later as a food supply. Some of these seed caches are forgotten, or are not needed, thus enabling the tree to reproduce (“Whitebark Pine,” n.d.). Such amazing design—with no Mind behind it? Illogical!
Ponderosa pine tree
Courtesy bigstockphotos.com and Angela McElroy
Indeed, the realm of nature literally shouts forth the reality of the all-powerful Maker Who alone accounts for the intelligent design of the created order. As the psalmist so eloquently affirmed: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.... There is no speech, nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). Indeed, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Romans 1:20). Only a foolish person would conclude there is no God (Psalm 14:1).
“Ponderosa Pine” (no date), USDA Forest Service, [On-line], URL: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena/resources/trees/PonderosaPine.shtml.
“Ponderosa Pine” (1995), Western Wood Products Association, [On-line], URL: http://www.wwpa.org/ppine.htm.
“What Are Pine Trees?” (no date), The Lovett Pinetum Charitable Foundation, [On-line], URL: http://www.lovett-pinetum.org/1whatare.htm.
“Whitebark Pine” (no date), USDA Forest Service, [On-line], URL: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena/resources/trees/WhitebarkPine.shtml.
|by||Wayne Jackson, M.A.|
As suggested in the feature article in this issue, the term “demon” appears to come from a Greek root form meaning “to know.” Plato, in his Cratylus (i.398), suggested that the word is derived from daemon, “knowing.” Whatever else, therefore, may be said of demons, they were intelligent beings; they “knew” certain truths.
A consideration of the testimony of those demons whose statements are recorded in the New Testament is of considerable interest. From their words, one may draw some reasonable conclusions.
(1) Demons were not atheists; they believed in God; moreover, they were not polytheists; they believed that God is “one” (see James 2:19). Their faith, however, never had been coupled with obedience, hence, it was a “dead” faith (James 2:14-16). Never, however, did they seek to justify themselves in their rebellion.
(2) Demons were not religious modernists. They did not subscribe to the notion that Jesus was a mere man. They acknowledged the Lord as “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). In His presence they cried: “Thou art the Son of God” (Mark 3:11). Observe that they did not address Jesus as “the son of Joseph,” or any other human. Obviously they were aware of the fact that Christ, as the Son of God, was born of a virgin. There are numerous religious leaders today who refuse to make this bold and wonderful confession.
(3) The demons conceded the divine authority of Christ. On one occasion they entreated the Lord that He “would not command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31). They clearly knew that when that awesome time came, they would be obliged to obey.
(4) Demons did not deny personal responsibility. They once inquired of Jesus: “Are you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). Observe that they recognized that a certain “time” was inevitable when they would give account for their wickedness.
(5) Demons did not deny the existence of hell, like some modern cultists do, for they knew that “torment” (a term that implies conscious punishment) was in their future (Matthew 8:29), and they trembled at the prospect of such (James 2:19).
It is a sobering fact that some modern folks do not have enough knowledge and/or faith to rival even that of a demon. This is a tragic circumstance.
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, 37:119), 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).
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, 209:88-89), 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).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 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).
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, 30:60).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.
Carroll, James (2006), “Who Was Mary Magdalene?,” Smithsonian, 37:108-119, June.
Cockburn, Andrew (2006), “The Gospel of Judas,” National Geographic, 209:78-95, 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: August 11, [On-line], URL: http://www.danbrown.com/media/morenews/time.html.
Witherington, Ben (2004), “Reviews,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 30:58-61, May/June.
Appendix Not Useless, But Evolution Is
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
In this month’s Reason & Revelation, Dr. Houts explains that for several decades now, evolutionists have been using various worn out, disproven lines of reasoning in an attempt to bolster their increasingly fragile theory of common descent for all organisms. One of these outmoded tactics is the idea that the human body contains leftover, virtually useless vestiges that once, in our early ancestors, were vibrant organs necessary for survival. In fact, in the late 1800s, evolutionary scientists believed that the human body supported more than 180 such organs.
These “useless” vestiges of evolution, however, turned out to be nothing of the sort. Dr. Houts noted that these organs were “useless” only in the sense that scientists and medical doctors were ignorant of their functions. As the medical community applied more research to the human body, the list quickly dwindled to a tiny fraction of the original number. Today, there is not a single organ that scientists can accurately and confidently proclaim to be a useless vestige of evolution. This realization, however, has not yet trickled down to the popularizers of evolution.
Live Science posts several “Top 10” articles that give the alleged Top 10 items in a given category. For example, there is a list of the “Top 10 Killer Tornadoes” and another of the “Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth.” One of their lists is titled, “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs)” (Miller, 2007). Listed as number one in that article is the human appendix. Concerning the appendix, Miller wrote: “Biologists believe it is a vestigial organ left behind from a plant-eating ancestor” (2007). He then reiterated ideas that Alfred Romer penned in 1949, stating “that the major importance of the appendix would appear to be financial support of the surgical profession, referring to, of course, the large number of appendectomies performed annually” (2007).
As one would expect if God designed the human body, aspects of the body would exist that our finite human minds could assess only after years of intense research. Such is the case with the appendix. Elsewhere in this issue of R&R, Dr. Houts notes several functions and uses already known for the appendix. A recent article published in Theoretical Biology, however, adds another interesting function to the appendix’s increasing workload. Researchers from Duke University believe they have stumbled upon another reason humans have an appendix, and it is not because it is an evolutionary leftover (Borenstein, 2007).
Human digestion requires huge amounts of beneficial bacteria. Certain illnesses, however, destroy or remove both good and bad bacteria from the intestines. In order for digestion to continue, cultures of the good bacteria must be regrown to repopulate the gut. That is where the appendix comes in according to the latest research. Borenstein noted: “Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix’s job is to reboot the digestive system in that case” (2007). Bill Parker, co-author of the latest research, said that the appendix “acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating the good germs” (Borenstein, 2007).
Evolutionists should simply admit that the idea of vestigial organs is false, they should promptly remove it from their arsenals, and reevaluate the data that supposedly prove evolution true. But that is not what happens. Because evolution is so “plastic” and can be expanded to fit any data, even data that is exactly the opposite of what has been used in the past to teach evolution is twisted as new “proof” of evolution. Borenstein quoted Brandies University biochemistry professor Douglas Theobald as saying that the explanation for the function of the appendix “seems by far the most likely” and that the idea “makes evolutionary sense” (2007). So, we are told that the appendix is a useless leftover, and that “fact” proves evolution to be true. Then we are told that the appendix has a very important function and that fact “makes evolutionary sense.” Which is it? In truth, that which proves too much proves nothing. Finding an important function for the appendix is exactly what one would expect if the human body was designed by God.
As for other organs in the human body that have been dubbed vestigial in the past, those who use the vestigial argument should proceed with extreme caution. Borenstein wrote: “The theory led Gary Huffnagle, a University of Michigan internal medicine and microbiology professor, to wonder about the value of another body part that is often yanked: ‘I’ll bet eventually we’ll find the same sort of thing with the tonsils’” (several functions of which already are known, see Bergman, 2000). The only thing that appears to be useless in this discussion is the theory of evolution and the false evidence used to support it.
Borenstein, Seth (2007), “Scientists: Appendix Protects Good Germs,” [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071006/ap_on_he_me/appendix_s_purpose;_ ylt=Ak5.0FtXAiVHNNcRPfiNLsus0NUE.
Miller, Brandon (2007), “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs),” [On-line], URL: http://www.livescience.com/animals/top10_vestigial_organs-1.html.
Choosing Who Has To Die
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Imagine an armed soldier walking into a kindergarten class, followed closely by a doctor. In a gruff voice, the soldier demands that the 18 five-year-olds line up in single file. The scared children do as they are told. Starting with the first in line, the doctor inspects each child for genetic defects. Those who have asthma are removed from the line. Those with poor eyesight come out of the line. The little girl with scoliosis is taken aside. The Down syndrome boy is yanked from the line. After the inspections are finished, only five children pass the examination. They are given an official certificate from the soldier that says they can live. The other 13 are taken outside, shot in the head, and thrown in the dumpster. Does this sound like the plot from a horror movie, or one of the heinous crimes of Hitler and his henchmen? Do you think our “civilized” society is above such gruesome brutality? Think again.
In her article, “Picking the Best Embryo from the Bunch,” Emily Singer describes new testing methods that can be used on embryos that are created during in vitro fertilization. In a nutshell, in vitro fertilization is the process by which several eggs from a woman are fertilized in a lab. Medical personnel then screen the embryos for genetic health and viability. A few of the most promising embryos are implanted in the mother-to-be’s womb. Other “healthy” embryos might be frozen for future implantation, while the remaining “unhealthy” embryos are discarded. Disposed of. Basically, flushed down the drain.
So what characteristics do these genetic screening methods attempt to identify? Why are some embryos discarded? Singer explains: “Such embryos are less likely to lead to successful pregnancies—they either fail to implant or miscarry, or if they do come to term, they can produce babies with disabilities such as Down's [sic] syndrome.” Notice that Singer implies that a non-successful pregnancy would include one from which a Down syndrome baby is born. Also notice her subtle, but false, differentiation between an embryo and the babies “they can produce.” The truth of the matter is that an embryo is a baby. Sly semantic tactics cannot change that fact. An embryo does not produce a baby. It simply grows into maturity, just as a child does not produce a teenager, but grows into one (for a more complete discussion of this point see Harrub, 2002; Miller, 2006). In reality, then, these genetic screenings are little more than a doctor’s examination to see which babies “deserve” to live and which ones are not “normal” enough to get a chance—because they might be Down syndrome babies, or “defective” in some other way.
Have we forgotten the inspired words of the wise man: “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood...” (Proverbs 6:16-17)? Just because we have acquired the ability to detect “normal” babies at their earliest stages does not give us the right to exterminate all others that might have “less of a chance” of survival, or might survive but have Down syndrome. Who gave us the prerogative to play God in such a vicious fashion? Hitler and his ilk tried to play God and were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet our society has become so insensitive to the value of human life that those who frequently destroy thousands of babies in embryonic stages are decorated as scientific overachievers. As the prophet of old warned: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21). May God give us the wisdom and the courage to stand against the brutal holocaust that is being carried out in the name of Science!
Miller, Dave (2006), “Embryos are People,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2995.
Singer, Emily (2007), “Picking the Best Embryo from the Bunch,” Technology Review, January, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=18027.
In What Way was God Greater than Jesus?by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
According to the apostle John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14, emp. added). Unquestionably, this Word (God), Whom John claims became flesh, was Jesus Christ (1:17). This same apostle recorded other statements in his account of the Gospel that convey the same basic truth. He wrote how, on one occasion, Jesus told a group of hostile Jews, “I and My Father are one” (10:30). Later, he recorded how Jesus responded to Philip’s request to see God by saying, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9). He even told about how Jesus accepted worship from a blind man whom He had healed (9:38; cf. Matthew 8:2). And, since only God is to be worshipped (Matthew 4:10), the implication is that Jesus believed He was God (cf. John 1:29,41,49; 20:28; Mark 14:62).
Some, however, see an inconsistency with these statements when they are placed alongside John 14:28, in which Jesus declared: “My Father is greater than I”. Allegedly, this verse (among others—cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3; Mark 13:32; Colossians 3:1) proves that Jesus and the Bible writers were contradictory in their portrayal of Jesus’ divine nature. Jesus could not be one with God and lesser than God at the same time, could He? What is the proper way to understand John 14:28?
Statements found in passages like John 14:28 (indicating that Jesus was lesser than God), or in Mark 13:32 (where Jesus made the comment that even He did not know on what day the Second Coming would be), must be understood in light of what the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi concerning Jesus’ self-limitation during His time on Earth. Christ,
being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation [He “emptied Himself”—NASB], taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8, emp. added).While on Earth, and in the flesh, Jesus was voluntarily in a subordinate position to the Father. Christ “emptied Himself ” (Philippians 2:7; He “made Himself nothing”—NIV). Unlike Adam and Eve, who made an attempt to seize equality with God (Genesis 3:5), Jesus, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47), humbled Himself, and obediently accepted the role of a servant. Jesus’ earthly limitations (cf. Mark 13:32), however, "were not the consequence of a less-than-God nature; rather, they were the result of a self-imposed submission reflecting the exercise of His sovereign will (Jackson, 1995, emp. added). While on Earth, Jesus assumed a position of complete subjection to the Father, and exercised His divine attributes only at the Father’s bidding (cf. John 8:26,28-29) [Wycliffe, 1985]. As A.H. Strong similarly commented years ago, Jesus “resigned not the possession, nor yet entirely the use, but rather the independent exercise, of the divine attributes” (1907, p. 703).
Admittedly, understanding Jesus as being 100% God and 100% human is not an easy concept to grasp. When Jesus came to Earth, He added humanity to His divinity (He was “made in the likeness of men”). For the first time ever, He was subject to such things as hunger, thirst, growth (both physical and mental), pain, disease, and temptation (cf. Hebrews 4:15; Luke 2:52). At the same time Jesus added humanity to His divinity, however, He put Himself in a subordinate position to the Father in terms of role function (1 Corinthians 11:3). In short, as Wayne Jackson summarized, "when Jesus affirmed, 'The Father is greater than I' (John 14:28), He was not disclaiming divine nature; rather, He was asserting that He had subjected Himself voluntarily to the Father’s will" (1995).
REFERENCESJackson, Wayne (1995), "Did Jesus Exist in the Form of God While on Earth?" Reason & Revelation, 15:21-22, March, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/264.
Strong, A.H. (1907), Systematic Theology (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell).
Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1985), Electronic Database: Biblesoft.
“Love your neighbor as yourself”Jesus says this is the second greatest commandment in the law (Matthew 22:39).
Neighborly love includes foreigners: “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:33, 34).
James calls this the royal law! “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well” (James 2:8).
Why is this command great? Because all of God’s commandments are based on love.
We owe a debt of love to all. Paul writes: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10). “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14).
Neighborly love is based on fairness. Jesus says: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31); “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Loving our neighbor as ourselves means that we treat him as we want to be treated. This form of love is based on our mutual humanity. Eve “was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Romans 14:7).
We are all members of one family, the human race. We are part of a greater whole; we share a common humanity. Thus we ought to love others as we love ourselves and treat others as we want to be treated.
“He who despises his neighbor sins” (Proverbs 14:21). The evil slave who demanded full payment from his fellow, after he himself had been forgiven a huge debt he could never repay, was asked by his master: “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:33). We owe love to others because of God’s love for us.
We are commanded to empathize with our fellow man, to participate in the feelings of others. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother’” (Zechariah 7:9).
The law of love is an essential component of ethics, not a substitute for ethics, as is claimed by some. Something built on love may not be torn down in the name of love. Since Gods commands are based on love, they may not be pushed aside in the name of love.
God is the sovereign interpreter of the law of love. He created man. He knows what is good for man and for society. His applications of the law of love are found in the Scriptures.
We need guidance from God to know how to love our fellow man. As John says: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2, 3).
We are able to love others as we should, only when we love God and keep His commandments. Loving God and obeying His commands is an essential ingredient of love for others.
Someone who claims that love allows him to disregard moral principles and commandments of God, does not really love others, but is trying to excuse selfish, unloving or unscriptural behavior.
How did Jesus answer a lawyer who knew God’s requirement but was looking for a loophole?
“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:25-29).
This lawyer knew he should love his neighbor, but he wanted a limited circle of neighbors!
Jesus, the Master teacher, responded to his question, “Who is my neighbor?” with one of the most powerful stories ever told.
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
The lawyer replied: “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:30- 37).
Did you notice that Jesus did not answer the lawyer’s question, but asked him a more important question? “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (verse 36).
The question is not, “Who is my neighbor?” but “What kind of neighbor am I?”
If we want to inherit eternal life, we must be compassionate, merciful and helpful, like the good Samaritan. We must love our neighbor.
What have we learned?
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is the royal law, the foundation of all of God’s commandments on how to treat others. Love is a debt we owe to all because of God’s love for us.
Neighborly love is based on fairness and our mutual humanity. As members of one human family we ought to love others as we love ourselves and treat others as we want to be treated. Love does no harm to a neighbor.
We can love others as we should, only when we love God and keep His commandments. We need God’s guidance to know how to love others.
“What kind of neighbor am I?” is the question.
To inherit eternal life, we must be compassionate, merciful and helpful.
“The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31). Amen.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
Bible Reading October 24 (WEB)
Song of Solomon 1-4
Son 1:1 The Song of songs, which is Solomon's. Beloved
Son 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for your love is better than wine.
Son 1:3 Your oils have a pleasing fragrance. Your name is oil poured forth, therefore the virgins love you.
Son 1:4 Take me away with you. Let us hurry. The king has brought me into his chambers. Friends We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will praise your love more than wine! Beloved They are right to love you.
Son 1:5 I am dark, but lovely, you daughters of Jerusalem, like Kedar's tents, like Solomon's curtains.
Son 1:6 Don't stare at me because I am dark, because the sun has scorched me. My mother's sons were angry with me. They made me keeper of the vineyards. I haven't kept my own vineyard.
Son 1:7 Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you graze your flock, where you rest them at noon; For why should I be as one who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions? Lover
Son 1:8 If you don't know, most beautiful among women, follow the tracks of the sheep. Graze your young goats beside the shepherds' tents.
Son 1:9 I have compared you, my love, to a steed in Pharaoh's chariots.
Son 1:10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.
Son 1:11 We will make you earrings of gold, with studs of silver. Beloved
Son 1:12 While the king sat at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance.
Son 1:13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh, that lies between my breasts.
Son 1:14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi. Lover
Son 1:15 Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves. Beloved
Son 1:16 Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, yes, pleasant; and our couch is verdant. Lover
Son 1:17 The beams of our house are cedars. Our rafters are firs. Beloved
Son 2:1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. Lover
Son 2:2 As a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. Beloved
Son 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, his fruit was sweet to my taste.
Son 2:4 He brought me to the banquet hall. His banner over me is love.
Son 2:5 Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples; For I am faint with love.
Son 2:6 His left hand is under my head. His right hand embraces me.
Son 2:7 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, or by the hinds of the field, that you not stir up, nor awaken love, until it so desires.
Son 2:8 The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills.
Son 2:9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart. Behold, he stands behind our wall! He looks in at the windows. He glances through the lattice.
Son 2:10 My beloved spoke, and said to me, "Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.
Son 2:11 For, behold, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone.
Son 2:12 The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Son 2:13 The fig tree ripens her green figs. The vines are in blossom. They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away." Lover
Son 2:14 My dove in the clefts of the rock, In the hiding places of the mountainside, Let me see your face. Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
Son 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards; for our vineyards are in blossom. Beloved
Son 2:16 My beloved is mine, and I am his. He browses among the lilies.
Son 2:17 Until the day is cool, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart on the mountains of Bether.
Son 3:1 By night on my bed, I sought him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but I didn't find him.
Son 3:2 I will get up now, and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but I didn't find him.
Son 3:3 The watchmen who go about the city found me; "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?"
Son 3:4 I had scarcely passed from them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, into the chamber of her who conceived me.
Son 3:5 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, or by the hinds of the field, that you not stir up, nor awaken love, until it so desires.
Son 3:6 Who is this who comes up from the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all spices of the merchant?
Son 3:7 Behold, it is Solomon's carriage! Sixty mighty men are around it, of the mighty men of Israel.
Son 3:8 They all handle the sword, and are expert in war. Every man has his sword on his thigh, because of fear in the night.
Son 3:9 King Solomon made himself a carriage of the wood of Lebanon.
Son 3:10 He made its pillars of silver, its bottom of gold, its seat of purple, its midst being paved with love, from the daughters of Jerusalem.
Son 3:11 Go forth, you daughters of Zion, and see king Solomon, with the crown with which his mother has crowned him, in the day of his weddings, in the day of the gladness of his heart. Lover
Son 4:1 Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is as a flock of goats, that descend from Mount Gilead.
Son 4:2 Your teeth are like a newly shorn flock, which have come up from the washing, where every one of them has twins. None is bereaved among them.
Son 4:3 Your lips are like scarlet thread. Your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a piece of a pomegranate behind your veil.
Son 4:4 Your neck is like David's tower built for an armory, whereon a thousand shields hang, all the shields of the mighty men.
Son 4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns that are twins of a roe, which feed among the lilies.
Son 4:6 Until the day is cool, and the shadows flee away, I will go to the mountain of myrrh, to the hill of frankincense.
Son 4:7 You are all beautiful, my love. There is no spot in you.
Son 4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
Son 4:9 You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride. You have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck.
Son 4:10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine! The fragrance of your perfumes than all manner of spices!
Son 4:11 Your lips, my bride, drip like the honeycomb. Honey and milk are under your tongue. The smell of your garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
Son 4:12 A locked up garden is my sister, my bride; a locked up spring, a sealed fountain.
Son 4:13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates, with precious fruits: henna with spikenard plants,
Son 4:14 spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree; myrrh and aloes, with all the best spices,
Son 4:15 a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, flowing streams from Lebanon. Beloved
Son 4:16 Awake, north wind; and come, you south! Blow on my garden, that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and taste his precious fruits. Lover
1 Thessalonians 1
1Th 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Th 1:2 We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers,
1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.
1Th 1:4 We know, brothers loved by God, that you are chosen,
1Th 1:5 and that our Good News came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we showed ourselves to be among you for your sake.
1Th 1:6 You became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
1Th 1:7 so that you became an example to all who believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.
1Th 1:8 For from you the word of the Lord has been declared, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone out; so that we need not to say anything.
1Th 1:9 For they themselves report concerning us what kind of a reception we had from you; and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God,
1Th 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.