"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Every Idle Word (12:36-37) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                       Every Idle Word (12:36-37)


1. The standards of God are much different than those of the world
   - cf. Isa 55:8,9

2. A striking example of this difference pertains to one's speech...
   a. The world thinks lightly of certain kinds of speech (e.g., 
      allowing profane speech in the name of free speech)
   b. Whereas Jesus taught us to take all speech seriously - Mt 12:

3. Speech is important, for it reveals the heart of man...
   a. Out of the abundance of heart the mouth speaks - Mt 12:34
   b. Thus speech reveals the sort of treasure stored in the heart of
      man - Mt 12:35

4. For this reason...
   a. Our very words will be taken into account on the day of judgment!
   b. We ought to give careful thought concerning the words we use
   c. It is imperative that our speech be in keeping with God's
      standard and not the world's!

[In this lesson, we shall review what the Bible teaches concerning 
acceptable and unacceptable speech.  We begin by cataloging some types
of speech that are condemned in the Scriptures...]


      1. Using the Lord's name in vain - Exo 20:7
         a. That is, without an attitude of sincere reverence
         b. One can be guilty of this in two ways:
            1) Using the Lord's name in swearing or cursing
            2) Using vain repetitions of His name
         c. Applies also to the name of Jesus, for His name is to be
            held in honor - Php 2:9-11
      2. Words that are evil - cf. 1Pe 3:10
         a. Lying words, or those that cause trouble among brethren 
            - Pr 6:16-19
         b. Deceitful words - Ro 16:18
         c. Filthy language - Ep 5:4

      1. The overuse of words - Jm 1:26; Pr 10:19; 13:3
      2. Words spoken in haste - Pr 29:20; cf. Jm 1:19
      3. Speaking evil of others
         a. Of those in authority - Exo 22:28; Jude 8
         b. Of those around us - Mt 5:21-22
         -- Such speech is known as reviling, and is clearly condemned
            - 1Co 6:9-10
      4. Flattery - Ps 12:1-4; cf. Ro 16:18
      5. Rash oaths - Mt 5:33-37; Jm 5:12
      6. Any unwholesome word - cf. Ep 4:29
         a. Including some euphemisms (An inoffensive expression 
            substituted for one considered offensive)
         b. Some examples of euphemisms (darn, shoot, gosh, gee)
         c. What is wrong with such expressions?
            1) They mean the same thing as the more offensive words
            2) It is the same wrongful emotions behind the euphemism or
               its equivalent
            3) They reflect an attitude of heart contrary to the proper
               spirit of Christian conduct - cf. Ep 4:31-32; Col 3:8-15

[Often our speech is one of habit...but such habits reflect "the
abundance of the heart", i.e., what has been allowed to reside in the
heart and reveal the true nature of our hearts when so used.  As we
attempt to store up "good treasure" in our heart (cf. Mt 12:35), here


      1. Our speech should lead to edification  - Ep 4:29
         a. That which encourages and builds up 
         b. That which extends grace to others - cf. Col 4:6
            1) E.g., words which cool down heated conversations - Pro
            2) E.g., words that are a delight to those who hear - Pro
               15:4,23; 25:11
      2. Our speech should be characterized with thankfulness - Ep 5:
         a. An attitude becoming of saints - cf. Col 1:12; 2:7; 3:15,17;4:2
         b. While murmuring and complaining is not becoming - cf.
            Php 2:14-15

      1. The righteous will give careful thought to his speech - Pro
      2. The righteous will be concerned about what comes out of his
         a. For he knows that his speech reflects the true condition of
            the heart - Mt 12:34-35; 15:17-20
         b. And he looks to God for help, even accepting the rebuke of
            others - Ps 141:3-5


1. It has been my purpose...
   a. To remind us of Jesus' words in Mt 12:36-37
   b. To raise our awareness of how easy it is to sin in our speech
   c. To remind us of the graceful speech that should proceed from our

2. I hope I have stimulated your thinking to give careful consideration
   to God's standard; may each of us possess the same desire as that 
   expressed in the prayer of the Psalmist:

   "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
      Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
                                                        (Ps 19:14)

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" The Savior's Tender Invitation (11:28-30) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

               The Savior's Tender Invitation (11:28-30)


1. In the text for our study today, we find a wonderful invitation 
   extended by Jesus...

   "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
   you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle
   and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My
   yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

2. From heaven Jesus still offers this tender invitation; but do we 
   really understand and appreciate...
   a. To whom Jesus extends this invitation?
   b. What He offers to those who will accept it?
   c. What He expects from those who desire to respond?
   d. The true ease of accepting this invitation?

[These are some of the questions we shall consider as we examine what
has been called "The Savior's Tender Invitation"...]


      1. To those who are burdened by sin
         a. A burden which separates one from God - cf. Isa 59:1-2
         b. A burden with terrible side effects
            1) A lack of inner peace - Isa 48:22
            2) Instead, one is burdened with anxiety, depression, fear
               and doubt
            3) And rightly so, in view of the ultimate consequence of
               sin (spiritual death) - Ro 6:23a
      2. This invitation, then, is really for everyone!
         a. For all are sinners! - Ro 3:23,10
         b. And as such are in bondage to sin and its heavy burden 
            - Jn 8:34

      1. That they are sinners
      2. That they are enslaved by sin and its burden
      3. That they need Divine help to freed from the burden of sin

[If you are not too proud to face the fact that you are a sinner and
need Divine help, then "The Savior's Tender Invitation" is especially
designed for you!  But perhaps you wonder...]


      1. Jesus is offering rest for our souls!
      2. Souls which have been burdened by:
         a. The guilt of sin, which separates from God (i.e., legal 
         b. The side effects of sin, such as anxiety, depression, fear
            and doubt (i.e., emotional guilt)

      1. Which includes a removal of the guilt of sin!
         a. For by God's own love and grace, forgiveness of sin is now
            possible through Jesus - cf. Ro 5:8-9; 1Jn 4:10; Ep 1:7
         b. Through His own blood, Jesus frees us from the condemnation
            of sin - Ro 8:1
      2. Which includes a removal of the side effects of sin!
         a. To have true rest for our souls, we need more than just
            1) For even those forgiven may be plagued by the side 
               effects of sin 
            2) Having lived so long under the burden of sin, it may not
               be easy to lay aside those feelings which often 
               accompany sin (e.g., anxiety, fear, doubt)
         b. Jesus certainly provides what our souls need...
            1) To remove anxiety, Jesus offers peace to calm the
               troubled heart
               a) A peace unlike any that the world might give - Jn 14:
               b) A peace stronger than any tribulation the world might
                  bring - Jn 16:33
               c) A peace which guards our hearts and minds, and 
                  "surpasses all understanding" - Php 4:7
            2) To remove depression, Jesus offers joy to lift our
               a) The same joy Jesus Himself had - Jn 15:11
               b) A joy later described as "inexpressible" - 1Pe 1:8
            3) To remove fear, Jesus offers love which casts out fear
               - 1Jn 4:18
               a) The same love which exists between the Father and the
                  Son - Jn 15:9
               b) A love which "passes knowledge" - Ep 3:19
            4) To remove doubt, Jesus offers hope for facing the future
               a) By assuring us of eternal life - Jn 11:25
               b) By promising eternal rest to those who die in the 
                  Lord - Re 14:13

[I have not exhausted all that pertains to the wonderful rest Jesus
offers, but it is...

   * A rest from the burden of sin's guilt, and a rest from the burden
     of sin's side effects!

   * A rest for our burdened souls now, and eternal rest for our souls
     when we die!

Incidentally, even physical burdens are made lighter by coming to 
Jesus, because the soul is made stronger to bear them!  This sounds 
wonderful, but...]


   A. "COME TO ME..."
      1. This is easy, even though Jesus is "King of kings and Lord of
      2. For as He says, "I am gentle and lowly in heart"
         a. He is so gentle, children felt comfortable in His presence
            (cf. Mt 18:2)
         b. He is so lowly in heart, the common people heard Him gladly
            (cf. Mk 12:37)
      -- As prophesied, Jesus would be tender and sensitive to our 
         needs ("A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He
         will not quench" - Isa 42:3; Mt 12:20)

      1. "In Jewish literature a 'yoke' represents the sum-total of
         obligations which, according to the teaching of the rabbis,
         a person must take upon himself." - William Hendriksen
         (Matthew, New Testament Commentary)
      2. Jesus is therefore expecting those who desire the rest He 
         offers to:
         a. Accept His teachings
         b. Accept whatever obligations He would lay upon you

      1. This is how we learn what obligations He would place upon us
      2. We must be willing to listen to Him, and do whatever He says
         - cf. Lk 6:46-49

[In essence, "The Savior's Tender Invitation" is a call to 
discipleship:  to commit your life as a disciple of Jesus, committed to
learning from Him and accepting the obligations He places upon you 
(i.e., "His yoke").  This might prompt one to ask...]


      1. That we observe all that He commanded - Mt 28:19-20
      2. That we abide in His doctrine (teaching) - Jn 8:31

      1. John, who was a disciple for over fifty years, said:  "His
         commandments are not grievous" - 1Jn 5:3
      2. What helps lighten our burden is the strength Jesus Himself
         gives - Php 2:12-13; 4:13
      -- Certainly the burden Jesus places upon us is lighter than the
         burden sin lays upon us!


1. Do you desire the rest for your soul that is offered by "The 
   Savior's Tender Invitation"?
   a. Then come to Jesus in full obedience to His gospel
   b. Commit to becoming His disciple, learning from Him all that He

2. As suggested in Mt 28:19-20, this life of discipleship begins with
   a. For in baptism we put on Christ - Ga 3:27
   b. For in baptism we rise to walk in newness of life - Ro 6:3-4

As one rises from the watery grave of baptism, they are freed from the
burden of sin through the precious blood of Christ.  As they continue
to observe all that He commanded, their burden becomes even lighter as
they apply to their lives the wisdom Jesus taught.  

Have you accepted the yoke of Jesus?  Are you living under that yoke?

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Greater Than John The Baptist? (11:11) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                 Greater Than John The Baptist? (11:11)


1. At the height of His earthly ministry, Jesus was approached by two
   disciples of John the Baptist - Mt 11:1-6
   a. John was in prison, and had sent the two disciples to Jesus
   b. Perhaps troubled by his own imprisonment, he wanted affirmation
      that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Coming One
   c. Jesus pointed to His works, and spoke of the blessedness of those
      not offended because of Him

2. Jesus used this opportunity to tell the multitudes about John the
   Baptist - Mt 11:7-10
   a. That he was not some easily shaken reed or man in soft clothing,
      but a prophet
   b. Indeed, he was the prophet foretold by Isaiah and Malachi Isa 40:3;
      Mal 3:1; 4:5

3. But then Jesus made two remarkable statements - Mt 11:11
   a. First, that no one had been greater than John the Baptist
   b. Second, that one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater
      than he!

4. It is the second statement that has perplexed many...
   a. For the kingdom of heaven is the church that was about to be 
   b. And in the church there are many people who do not seem to 
      measure up to a man like John the Baptist!
   -- How can any of us be greater than he?

[When we know the answer, it should fill us with humility and 
gratitude, and encourage us to greater dedication in our service to the
Lord.  Before we consider the answer, let's review...]


      1. Enduring a life of austerity, with voluntary simplicity 
         - Lk 1:80; Mt 3:4
      2. He showed courage before king Herod, condemning his unlawful
         marriage - Mt 14:3-4
      3. He possessed humility, showing deference at the height of his
         own ministry to a New Comer - Jn 1:19-37; 3:22-30

      1. His influence brought people throughout Judea into the desert
         - Mt 3:1-2,5
      2. They were moved to be baptized and confess their sins - Mt 6:6
      3. Yet He did not weaken his message to accommodate his audience
         - Mt 6:7-8

      1. Such was his particular mission - Mt 3:3; 11:9-10
      2. And when Jesus came, he pointed people to Him - Jn 1:29,34-36;
         a. "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the
         b. "I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."
         c. "He must increase, but I must decrease."
         d. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life..."

[In light of his mission, and the faithful manner in which he carried
it out, no one had arisen greater than John (not even Moses, Elijah,
etc., though they might be consider "as great as" John).

But again, Jesus says that the least in the kingdom is "greater" than
John.  How can that be...?]


      1. John's limited knowledge of Christ is implied by his question
         - Mt 11:2-3
         a. He had not seen what Jesus' disciples had seen
         b. He had not heard what Jesus' disciples had heard-cf. Mt13:16-17
      2. Through the further teaching of Christ and His apostles...
         a. We know the wonderful story of the cross!
         b. We know the nature of the kingdom, its establishment, its
            future glory!
         c. We know "many things" which even Jesus Himself had not
            taught His apostles until after the Holy Spirit was sent!
            - cf. Jn 16:12-13
      -- Even "he who is least in the kingdom" knows things about Jesus
         and His church that John did not know!

      1. John was not in the kingdom of heaven (or church) during his
         a. He proclaimed it was "at hand" - Mt 3:1-2
         b. Jesus and His apostles were still preaching it as being 
            "at hand" - Mt 10:7
         c. Jesus would later speak of building His church - Mt 16:18
      2. But with the establishment of the church, those who are in
         a. Have been translated into the kingdom of God's Son - Co
            1:13; cf. Re 1:9
         b. Have been made a royal priesthood and holy nation - 1 Pe2:9
      -- John lived under the Old Covenant; even "he who is least in
         the kingdom" lives under the New Covenant with its better 
         sacrifice, hope, and promises - He 7:9; 8:6

      1. John certainly enjoyed wonderful privileges
         a. He was filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb - Lk 1:15
         b. Who certainly helped him fulfill his mission
      2. But Jesus offers things which John did not have; e.g...
         a. A gift (or measure) of the Spirit that was not given until
            after Jesus was glorified - Jn 7:37-39
            1) Something other than inspiration or miraculous powers,
               for many had enjoyed that before Jesus was glorified
               (ascended to heaven)
            2) Because of the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost,
               all who are saved have experienced "the washing of 
               regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" - Tit 3:5-7
            3) John was born of woman, but those in the kingdom are
               "born of the Spirit"! - cf. Jn 3:5
               a) We therefore receive "the gift of the Spirit" - Ac 2:38
               b) A gift that helps deliver one from the power of sin 
                  - cf. Ro 8:11-13
               c) A gift not enjoyed by those under the Old Covenant 
                  - cf. Ro 7:14-8:4
         b. The fellowship of the church, the body of Christ - Ro 12:5
            1) Remember that John spent his life in the desert, and
               then in prison
            2) He did not enjoy the blessings of fellowship available
               to the "least" in the kingdom
            3) As promised by Jesus, we have a "hundred-fold" family
               members in this life, something John never had - Mk 10:
         -- Many other privileges peculiar to the New Covenant could be
            mentioned, all of which are enjoyed today by "he who is 
            least in the kingdom"!


1. In at least three ways, then, we are "greater" than John the 
   a. In our knowledge of Jesus Christ
   b. In our station of life by being in Christ
   c. In our privileges offered by Jesus Christ
2. As per J. W. McGarvey:  "We find from this passage that all true
   greatness arises from association, relation and contact with Jesus
   Christ" (The Fourfold Gospel)
   a. As the forerunner of Christ, John was as great as any other 
      teacher, prophet, priest, lawgiver, and king
   b. As the beneficiaries of Christ, even the least of those in His
      kingdom are greater than he

3. Should this not fill us with humility, gratitude, and a desire to
   greater service?
   a. That Jesus would bestow such great blessings upon us?
   b. That we ought to be more dedicated in our service to Christ?
      1) Producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives
      2) Nurturing and enjoying the fellowship of the family of God
      3) Proclaiming the gospel of Christ and the kingdom in its

If John was so faithful in that which is less, should we not be more
diligent when we have that which is more?

      "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be
      required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they
      will ask the more." (Lk 12:48)

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Principles Of Evangelism - II (10:11-42) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                Principles Of Evangelism - II (10:11-42)


1. In our previous study, we began looking at the instructions Jesus
   gave in charging His apostles with "The Limited Commission"...
   a. In which He sent them to preach to the house of Israel - Mt 10:
   b. To prepare the way for Jesus to come to them personally - cf.
      Mt 10:23; 11:1; Lk 10:1

2. In that study, we observed five "Principles Of Evangelism"...
   a. Utilize the power of synergy
   b. Employ the practice of specialization
   c. Proclaim the word of God
   d. Offer our services freely
   e. Support those willing to work
   -- Principles that were utilized by the early church with great
      success, and worthy of our emulation today

3. In this study, we shall consider the rest of Jesus words in giving
   "The Limited Commission"...
   a. Gleaning at least five more "Principles of Evangelism"
   b. Noticing principles applied by the early church and applicable
      today as well

[Beginning with Mt 10:11-15, we find Jesus telling His apostles...]


      1. Those who were both hospitable and willing to listen - Mt 10:
      2. But they were to "shake off the dust from your feet" when
         leaving a city that would not receive them or hear their words
         - Mt 10:14
      3. It would be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom
         and Gomorrah than for such people - Mt 10:15

      1. We are not to "cast your pearls before swine" - Mt 7:6
      2. People judge themselves unworthy of the gospel by their lack
         of interest
         a. Paul was willing to preach again if people were interested
            - Ac 13:42-44
         b. But when people rejected the gospel, he turned elsewhere
            - Ac 13:45-46

      1. We are to preach the gospel to every creature - Mk 16:15
         a. But once people display lack of interest, we are not
            obligated to keep trying
         b. Rather than "cast our pearls" before those who don't
            appreciate it, we should move on to someone else
      2. Admittedly, there is room for judgment...
         a. As to how long we try to reach someone before going on
         b. Some may not show much interest at first, but do later on
      3. But at some point, there may be other souls who need the
         gospel more than our friends, family and neighbors who show no

[Another principle of evangelism we do well to remember is to...]


      1. Jesus was sending them as sheep in the midst of wolves - Mt10:16
      2. He gave them a picture of what to expect - Mt 10:17-23
      3. As His disciples, they should expect treatment similar to what
         He had received - Mt 10:24-25

      1. Jesus later reminded His apostles they would be hated by the
         world - Jn 15:18-20
      2. The apostles would later tell the disciples of persecution to
         come - Ac 14:22; 1Th 3:4; 2Ti 3:12
      3. But the disciples were prepared to react in the proper way
         a. To rejoice that they were worthy to suffer in Christ's name
            - Mt 5:10-12
         b. To rejoice knowing that trials can make them better - Ro 5:

      1. Don't expect everyone to gladly receive your message of
         salvation in Christ
      2. Rather, expect some to be offended and angry...
         a. For many don't like to be told they are sinners, in need of
         b. They may become defensive when told repentance is necessary
         c. You might lose friends, be ostracized, and in some places,
            physically abused
      3. But being forewarned is forearmed, able to respond in the
         proper way
         a. Blessing those who curse you, praying for those who despise
            you - Mt 5:44
         b. Rejoicing for the good that can come out of persecution
            - Jm 1:2-4

[Evangelism is often short-circuited when met with resistance;
anticipating persecution is an important principle that will help us
to not lose heart.  Closely related to this is another principle of


      1. They were not to fear those who would resist them - Mt 10:
      2. They were not to fear those who could kill them - Mt 10:28
      3. They were to fear God if they desired to be free from the fear
         of men
         a. For God had the power to destroy both body and soul - Mt10:28
         b. But God also knew everything about them and valued them
            highly - Mt 10:29-31
      4. Confessing Jesus before men would ensure their being confessed
         before God - Mt 10:32-33

      1. Fear of rejection often hinders many evangelistic efforts
         a. We want to be accepted by friends, family, neighbors
         b. We don't want to be turned away from them
         -- But they are not the ones who will judge us in the last
      2. Paul reminds us that pleasing God rather than man is what
         makes one a servant of Christ - Ga 1:10

      1. Christians need to have a healthy reverence for God - Php 2:12
      2. When we revere God more than we fear man, the fear of
         rejection will not hinder our efforts to teach others
         a. We will stop trying to please others, and seek to please
         b. We will seek His favor, rather than the favor of men
      3. With the proper fear of God, we will not rest until we are
         doing something in the area of evangelism, for that is His
         will for us!

[Fearing God over fearing men is a matter of keeping our priorities
straight.  Along the same vein is the next principle of evangelism that
Jesus taught...]


      1. Jesus described the kind of conflicts that would often arise
         - Mt 10:34-36
         a. His coming and the gospel of the kingdom would often divide
            family members
         b. The members of one's own household might become enemies
      2. To be worthy, they must love Him more than family and self
         - Mt 10:37-39
         a. They must be willing to take up their cross and follow Him
         b. They must be willing to lose their life in service to Him
            to truly find their life

      1. A cost Jesus encouraged all to count before becoming His
         disciples - Lk 14:25-33
      2. A cost Jesus reminded one disciple who sought to put family
         first - Mt 8:21-22

      1. Service to God is hindered by allowing family and personal
         interests to come first
         a. You see this in how some put relatives and family before
            the church
         b. We have a responsibility to our families (1Ti 5:8), but we
            must not let that get in the way of serving Jesus
      2. Evangelism, especially foreign evangelism, will never be what
         it should be as long as we allow family and personal
         considerations hold us back
         a. Think of the early Christians, who "went everywhere
            preaching the word" - Ac 8:4
         b. Likely there were children, parents, and others saying
            "Don't go"; but neither persecution nor family ties kept
            them from spreading the Word!

[We come to the last point, which ties in with the last point of the
previous lesson (Support those willing to work)...]


      1. For in receiving them, they receive Christ and God who sent
         Him - Mt 10:40
      2. They would share in the rewards of the prophets and righteous
         men they supported - Mt 10:41
      3. Even a cup of cold water would not go unnoticed - Mt 10:42

      1. Back when David and his men were pursuing the Amalekites
         - 1Sa 30:9-10,18-25
         a. When some had to be left with the supplies while others
            fought the enemy
         b. David decreed that all should share alike - both those at
            the base, and those at the front
      2. Thus those who support have fellowship in both the work and
         reward of those they support!

      1. Never underestimate the role of supporting those who go ("How
         shall they preach unless they are sent?") - cf. Ro 10:14-15
      2. If you cannot go or teach yourself, then do what you can to
         support those who can
      3. Take comfort in knowing:
         a. It is Christ you are serving, not just a servant of Christ!
         b. You can receive a prophet's reward without necessarily
            being a prophet!


1. In summation, here are ten "Principles Of Evangelism" found in "The
   Limited Commission"...
   a. Utilize the power of synergy           f. Be selective
   b. Employ the practice of specialization  g. Anticipate persecution
   c. Proclaim the word of God               h. Fear God, not man
   d. Offer our services freely              i. Put the Lord first
   e. Support those willing to work          j. Supporters share in the

2. As we attempt to fulfill "The Great Commission" (Mt 28:19)...
   a. Can we improve on the principles taught by our Savior?
   b. Did not the early Christians implement them as they went forth
      with the gospel?

As preachers or simply disciples, as churches or as individuals,
success in evangelism can only be increased by remembering what our
Lord told His twelve apostles before He sent them out to preach the
good news of the kingdom...

Is the New Testament “Given by Inspiration of God”? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Is the New Testament “Given by Inspiration of God”?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In attempts to discredit the divine origin of the New Testament, some critics have accused Christian apologists of mishandling 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The argument goes something like this: “When the apostle Paul wrote, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ he was referring to the Old Testament, not the New Testament.” As “proof,” these individuals cite 2 Timothy 3:15 wherein Paul told Timothy, “From childhood you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (emp. added). Since the “Scriptures” (ASV, “writings”; Greek gr√°mmata) of which Paul spoke in this verse obviously referred to the Old Testament (for the New Testament writings would not have been around when Timothy was a child), then we are told that the “Scripture” (Greek, grafe√©) mentioned in verse 16 also must refer only to the Old Testament. Furthermore, it is alleged, since “the New Testament was not written at the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16,” supposedly “he could only be claiming inspiration for the Old Testament.” Such statements are made by some in hopes to prove that the New Testament documents do not claim divine inspiration for themselves, but only for the Old Testament. And, skeptics assert, “if the New Testament does not claim inspiration for itself, then neither should we.”
Primarily when the term “Scripture(s)” is found in the New Testament it is used in reference to the Old Testament. In fact, 52 times one can read the word “Scripture(s)” in the King James translation of New Testament, and nearly every time it is referring only to the Old Testament. However, at least two times this term is used when referring to both the Old Testament and the writings that eventually would become the New Testament. For example, Paul quoted Luke 10:7 as “Scripture” in his first epistle to Timothy (5:18). And in 2 Peter 3:16, Peter placed Paul’s letters on a par with the Old Testament Scriptures when he compared them to “the rest of the Scriptures.” Thus, it is incorrect to say that the New Testament does not claim inspiration for itself.
But what about 2 Timothy 3:16-17? Does it claim divine inspiration for the Old Testament alone? Is it inappropriate to quote this verse when defending the inspiration of the whole Bible, including the New Testament? All agree that 2 Timothy 3:16 applies to the Old Testament. Some scholars, however, teach that it applies only to the Old Testament. Adam Clarke stated in his commentary on 2 Timothy:
The apostle is here [3:16—EL], beyond all controversy, speaking of the writings of the Old Testament, which, because they came by divine inspiration, he terms the Holy Scriptures, 2 Tim. 3:15; and it is of them alone that this passage is to be understood; and although all the New Testament came by as direct an inspiration as the Old, yet, as it was not collected at that time, not indeed complete, the apostle could have no reference to it (1996, emp. added).
Albert Barnes accepted this understanding to some extent when he stated that 2 Timothy 3:16 “properly refers to the Old Testament, and should not be applied to any part of the New Testament, unless it can be shown that that part was then written, and was included under the general name of ‘the Scriptures’ ” (1997, emp. added). Was a part of the New Testament written by the time Paul penned this letter to Timothy? Yes. As commentator Burton Coffman noted: “A great deal of the NT had indeed already been written” (1986, p. 270, emp. added). In fact, scholars believe that one of Paul’s earliest epistles (1 Thessalonians) was written approximately 15 years prior to this epistle to Timothy. Interestingly, in his first letter to the Thessalonian brethren, he claimed the words he wrote were “by the word of the Lord” (4:15). Thus, the notion that Paul did not consider his own writings as Scripture is false.
Perhaps the Holy Spirit guided Paul to write “all Scripture” (in verse 16) rather than the “holy Scriptures” (as in verse 15) “are given by inspiration of God” because He wanted to differentiate between the Old Testament alone (that Timothy learned as a child), and the Old Testament combined with the New Testament writings—some of which had been in circulation for almost fifteen years. One may never know for sure. However, it seems certain, considering all of the above information: (1) that Paul had earlier quoted Luke 10:7 as Scripture; (2) that Peter referred to Paul’s writings as “Scripture;” (3) that Paul indicated prior to his writing of 2 Timothy that he wrote “by the word of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15; cf. Galatians 1:12); and (4) that much of the New Testament already had been written. Thus, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “can be interpreted as covering the NT as well as the Old” (Ward, 1974, p. 200).
The critics’ efforts to discredit the reliability of the New Testament by alleging it does not even claim to be given by divine inspiration are to no avail. The fact is, it claims inspiration numerous times—one example of which is found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.


Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Coffman, Burton James (1986), Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, & Philemon (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Ward, Ronald A. (1974), Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (Waco, TX: Word Books)

God Rules Even When Atheists Attack by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


God Rules Even When Atheists Attack

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In years gone by, candidates for public office in the United States were admired for their Christian heritage, beliefs, and practices. They respected the Creator. They quoted His Word. They prayed to Him for divine assistance. They acknowledged His sovereignty and recognized that “He rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28). Americans expected their elected representatives to honor God in private and in public (see Miller, 2008). Oh, how times have changed. Sadly, the very thing that Americans once expected from their leaders—a reliance on the Creator and Sustainer of life—has become increasingly attacked and hated...and now is supposedly a reason candidates are disqualified from serving in public office.
Consider the comments by Sam Harris in a recent Newsweek article. Harris has written dozens of articles in the past for such prominent publications as The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, and The Times of the United Kingdom. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor as well as Brian Flemming’s documentary film The God Who Wasn’t There. His latest books, The End of Faith (2004) and Letter to a Christian Nation (2006), both were New York Times best sellers. He is on record saying such things as, “If you are concerned about suffering in this universe, killing a fly should present you with greater moral difficulties than killing a human blastocyst [three-day-old human embryo—EL]” (2006, p. 30). In short, Sam Harris is one of the world’s most well-known, vocal, influential, militant atheists.
In the September 29, 2008 issue of Newsweek, Harris penned an article titled “When Atheists Attack.” After painting vice-presidential candidate, Governor Sarah Palin, as an unqualified, ignorant beauty queen, Harris wrote concerning what really bothered him about the Governor: “I care even more about the many things Palin thinks she knows but doesn’t: like her conviction that the Biblical God consciously directs world events. Needless to say, she shares this belief with millions of Americans—but we shouldn’t be eager to give these people our nuclear codes, either” (152[13]:33, emp. added). [So, should we put our nuclear weapons in the hands of people who believe that “killing a fly should present you with greater moral difficulties than killing a human blastocyst”?]
The fact is, though God created humans with free will (cf. Joshua 24:15), God uses our free will to accomplish His purposes. Scripture repeatedly testifies to the fact that God is in control of the Universe and everything in it. He is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). The psalmist wrote: “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.... God is the King of all the earth” (103:19; 47:7). Four times in the book of Daniel we are reminded that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men” (4:17,25,32; 5:21). Although God does not maneuver His human creation like robots, He is in control. For most of America’s history, the overwhelming majority of our elected officials (1) believed that God ultimately was in control and (2) prayed that His will be done in America (see Miller, 2008). Today’s media would have us reject both Scripture and our country’s Christian heritage. When Harris wrote, “Every detail that has emerged about Palin’s life in Alaska suggests that she is as devout and literal-minded in her Christian dogmatism as any man or woman in the land” (2008, p. 33, emp. added), he meant it as criticism. Supposedly, America should not be run by “devout and literal-minded” Christian leaders.
The fact is, however, if America is to survive as a nation, it must reject the godless, immoral, anti-Christian outlook that Sam Harris and others continually propagate. We must turn to the Almighty, Who “rules in the kingdom of men,” and recognize that every decision we make, including selecting government leaders, must be based upon our recognition of God’s sovereignty. He not only “rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28), but He judges both nations (in this lifetime; cf. Genesis 11:1-9; 18-19) and the individuals who make up nations (at the end of time; cf. Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:10).


Harris, Sam (2006), Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).
Harris, Sam (2008), “When Atheists Attack,” Newsweek, 152[13]:32-35, September 29.
Miller, Dave (2008), The Silencing of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Does the Bible Teach Geocentricity? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D. Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Does the Bible Teach Geocentricity?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Does the Bible teach that the Sun revolves around the Earth, in contradiction to modern scientific knowledge on this matter?
The medieval Catholic Church maintained that the Bible taught geocentricity (i.e., that the Sun and planets revolve around the Earth) as opposed to what we now know as the Copernican idea of heliocentricity (i.e., that the planets all revolve around the Sun). This situation began when Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria restated the ancient Ptolemaic geocentric theory in the second century after Christ, and was able to predict the motion of the celestial bodies with far greater accuracy than the existing theory of heliocentricity. Somewhere along the line, scientific dogma became enshrined in theological dogma, and passages in the Bible were found to consecrate Ptolemy’s theory. According to the theologians, man was the focus of God’s creative act, and therefore the Earth must be the center of God’s creation. After all, if we were dwelling on one average planet, rotating around one average star, in one average galaxy in an infinite Universe, how could we be the sole focus of God’s attention, and why should His only Son be sent just to this middling planet, as the Bible suggests?
Needless to say, this revolution of thought provided great fuel for the atheists, skeptics and agnostics. According to Paul Steidl:
The truths of God’s word and the work of Jesus Christ in no way depend on our position.... If anything, our lack of a unique position in the natural universe is only an illustration of the natural man’s lack of a unique position before God (1979, p. 6).
In other words, the presence of our material selves in the material Universe is not as important to God as our immortal souls. On the other hand, it is difficult to doubt that God has placed our planet in just the right place, and set it in motion in just the right way, to benefit the survival of humanity.
Copernicus submitted his ideas in the early sixteenth century, stating that geocentricity was incorrect after all. Some of Copernicus’ ideas could not be defended scientifically, but science generally had little to do with the attacks on this theory. Calvin, for instance, criticized Copernicus by appealing to passages in Joshua and Psalms that supposedly show the fixity of the Earth relative to the Sun. Galileo came along a hundred years later and firmed up the Copernican theories with better mathematics and with more accurate and numerous measurements. Unlike Copernicus, Galileo was persistent, arrogant, and prepared to stand up to the wrath of the Inquisition. Galileo’s assertion that the Bible should be interpreted in light of man’s knowledge of the natural world, and that Scripture should not have authority in scientific controversies, did little to endear him to church leaders. Thus, rather than being the case of “science versus the Bible,” it was “dogmatic scientist versus religious dogmatism.” This, of course, is not all the story; the remainder would be covered in a good history book.
One of the passages used to defend the biblical basis of geocentricity was Joshua 10:12-14, and later references to the same event, in which Joshua prayed, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; And thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon” (v. 12), that he might defeat the numerous armies assembled against his people. God immediately answered Joshua’s prayer, and in the following verse he wrote: “And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stayed.” Keil and Delitzsch have suggested that either the day appeared long to the warriors of Israel because of the greatness of the task they performed (i.e., defeating the enemy), or that God miraculously caused the day to be lengthened so the Lord’s army could perform its task. The former is consistent with similar language in other parts of the Old Testament, and the latter explanation is totally consistent with God’s infinite power over the Universe (1982, 2:106-112). In any case, as Joshua goes on to say in verse 14, “there was no day like that before it or after it.” Thus, whether miraculous or not, to say that these verses teach that the Earth continues to stand still, and that the Earth is the center of the Universe, is both a gross misinterpretation and a misapplication of the verse. This passage does not teach geocentricity, despite Calvin’s claims to the contrary.
In addition to Joshua 10, Calvin used Psalm 93:1 in defense of geocentricity. The verse simply suggests that the Earth is stable, and cannot be moved, but is it trying to say that the Earth is totally motionless in every sense? As the passage is primarily concerned with God’s majesty and power, it is more likely that the psalmist is saying, “Who but God could move the Earth?” Besides, the Earth is set in an unchanging orbit around the Sun, all the while rotating at a steady speed on a fixed axis.
Psalm 19:6 is a passage that often is cited as another example of Scripture teaching pre-Copernican astronomy. In this verse, the Sun is said to move, rather than the Earth, and therefore is said by some to imply that the Sun revolves around the Earth. There are many other verses in the Bible that talk about the Sun “going down” or “rising up.” This hardly should be surprising, however, since events in the Bible often are written in accommodative or “phenomenal” language—i.e., the language used to express phenomena as man sees them. Even today we teach our children that “the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west,” and astronomers and navigators use the Earth as a fixed point for purposes of simple observation, expressing distances and directions in relation to it. The weatherman on the evening news often will state that the Sun is going to “rise” at a certain time the following morning and “set” at a certain time the following evening. Why does no one accuse him of scientific error? Because we all are perfectly aware of, and understand, the Copernican view of the solar system, and because we likewise understand that our weatherman is using “phenomenal” language.
In addition, scientific foreknowledge could be claimed from Psalm 19:6 if a more literal interpretation was applied in the following way. Astronomers now know that the Sun moves in a gigantic orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy; traveling at 600,000 miles an hour it would take the Sun 230 million years to make just one orbit! It also is believed that our galaxy is moving with respect to other galaxies in the Universe. The Sun’s going forth is indeed from one end of the heavens to the other. In any case, there is no way to substantiate the claims that the Bible teaches geocentricity, or that it promotes any other anti-scientific concept.


Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1982 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Steidl, Paul (1979), The Earth, the Stars, and the Bible (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed).

Did Moses Make a Scientific Mistake? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Did Moses Make a Scientific Mistake?

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.


The Bible speaks of two animals, the coney and the hare, as “chewing the cud.” Isn't the Bible mistaken on this point? These animals do not actually chew the cud, do they?


An infidel once wrote: “Something that has long perplexed me is the way that inerrancy proponents can so easily find ‘scientific foreknowledge’ in obscurely worded Bible passages but seem completely unable to see scientific error in statements that were rather plainly written.” This skeptic then cited Leviticus 11:5-6, where the coney and the hare are said to chew the cud, and boasted that since these animals do not have compartmentalized stomachs like those in ruminants (e.g., the cow), Moses clearly made a mistake. What shall we say to this charge?
First, no scientific mistake can be attributed to the Bible unless all of the facts are fully known. In such an alleged case, the biblical assertion must be unambiguous. The scientific information must be factual. And an indisputable conflict must prevent any harmonization of the two. Do these criteria obtain in this matter? They do not.
Second, we must note that the words “coney” (Hebrew shaphan) and “hare” (arnebeth) are rare and difficult words in the Old Testament. The former is found but four times, and the latter only twice. The etymology of the terms is obscure. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament), shaphan is rendered by dasupoda, meaning “rough foot,” and arnebeth becomes choirogrullion, literally, “swine-pig.” Hence, identification becomes a factor. It is commonly believed, however, that the arnebeth is some species of hare, and that shaphan denotes the Syrian hyrax.
But, so it is claimed, neither of these chews the cud. A number of scholars have noted that both of these animals, even when at rest, masticate, much like the cow or sheep, and that Moses thus employed phenomenal language (i.e., describing something as it appears), for the purpose of ready identification, inasmuch as these creatures were ceremonially unclean and thus prohibited for use as food (Archer, 1982, p. 126).
That is not an impossible solution. Bats, for example, are listed along with birds in Leviticus 11, not because both are mammals, but simply because both fly. The Scriptures do not necessarily follow the arbitrary classification systems of man. When Christ said that the mustard seed is “less than all seeds,” (Matthew 13:33), He was speaking from the vantage point of the Palestinian citizen—not that of a modern botanist. We today employ phenomenal jargon when we speak of the Sun “rising and setting.” Technically, it is not correct to refer to a woman’s amniotic fluid as “water,” and yet doctors employ this language frequently. Why do we not allow the biblical writers as much literary license as we ourselves employ? The bias of agnosticism is utterly incredible.
There is, however, another factor that must be taken into consideration. Rumination does not necessarily involve a compartmentalized stomach system. One definition of “ruminate” is simply “to chew again that which has been swallowed” (Webster’s Dictionary). And oddly enough, that is precisely what the hare does. Though the hare does not have a multi-chambered stomach—which is characteristic of most ruminants—it does chew its food a second time. It has been learned rather recently that hares pass two types of fecal material.
In addition to normal waste, they pass a second type of pellet known as a caecotroph. The very instant the caecotroph is passed, it is grabbed and chewed again.... As soon as the caecotroph is chewed thoroughly and swallowed, it aggregates in the cardiac region of the stomach where it undergoes a second digestion (Morton, 1978, pp. 179-181).
This complicated process provides the rabbit with 100% more riboflavin, 80% more niacin, 160% more pantothenic acid, and a little in excess of 40% more vitamin B12 (Harrison, 1980, p. 121). In a comparative study of cows and rabbits, Jules Carles concluded that rumination should not be defined from an anatomical point of view (e.g., the presence of a four-part stomach); rather, it should be viewed from the standpoint of a mechanism for breeding bacteria to improve food. Cows and rabbits are similar in that both possess a fermentation chamber with microorganisms that digest otherwise indigestible plant material, converting it into nutrients. Some of the microorganisms in these two animals are the same, or very similar. Carles has stated that on this basis “it is difficult to deny that rabbits are ruminants” (as quoted in Brand, 1977, p. 104). Dr. Bernard Grzimek, Director of the Frankfurt Zoological Gardens in Germany, likewise has classified the hare as a ruminant (1975, pp. 421-422).
On the other hand, the hyrax also is considered by some to be a ruminant, based upon the fact that it has a multiple digestive process.
The hyrax has a very long protrusion, a caecum, and two additional caeca near the colon. At least one of these protrusions participates in decomposition of cellulose. It contributes certain enzymes necessary for breakdown of the cellulose (Morton, 1978, p. 184).
Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia (1975) considers the hyrax as a ruminant. Professor Joseph Fischel of the University of California has suggested that the biblical allusion to the coney as a cud-chewer probably was due “to the structure of its digestive system, the protuberances in its large stomach together with its appendix and maw possibly being regarded as analogous to a ruminant’s four stomachs” (1971, p. 1144). In his significant study of the intestinal microflora in herbivores, scientist Richard McBee observed that the hyrax has a fermentation chamber for the digestion of grass by microorganisms (as quoted in Brand, 1977, p. 103).
Finally, the precise meaning of gerah, rendered “chewing the cud” in most versions, is uncertain. Many orthodox Jews consider it simply to mean a second mastication, or the semblance of chewing. Samuel Clark stated that the meaning of gerah “became expanded, and the rodents and pachyderms, which have a habit of grinding with their jaws, were familiarly spoken of as ruminating animals” (1981, 1:546).
In view of the foregoing facts, it is extremely presumptuous to suggest that the Mosaic account contains an error relative to these creatures. A sensible interpretive procedure and/or an acquaintance with accurate information would have eliminated such a rash and unwarranted conclusion.


Archer, Gleason (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Brand, Leonard R. (1977), “Do Rabbits Chew the Cud?,” Origins, 4(2):102-104.
Clark, Samuel (1981), “Leviticus,” The Bible Commentary, ed. F.C. Cook (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Fischel, Joseph W. (1971), “Hyrax,” Encyclopedia Judaica (New York: Macmillan).
Grzimek, Bernard, ed. (1975), Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold).
Harrison, R.K. (1980), Leviticus (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press).
Morton, Jean Sloat (1978), Science in the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody).

Changing Their Tune about the Age of the Grand Canyon? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Changing Their Tune about the Age of the Grand Canyon?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

For literally thousands of years, the story of Noah’s Flood has enchanted, frightened, encouraged, and amazed Bible readers. In a downpour that lasted forty days and forty nights, Noah and his family of seven braved the crashing waters from the windows of heaven and the fountains of the deep (Genesis 7:11-12). In the single greatest cataclysm in Earth’s geological history, the Bible tells that “all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man…. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive” (Genesis 7:21-23).
Yet, in the past several decades, it has become increasingly popular to dismiss the cataclysmic effect that such a flood would have had on Earth’s geological structures. The idea of “uniformitarianism” has reigned supreme as the official anthem for the geological sciences. Uniformitarianism, simply put, says that things continue to happen as they have always happened. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a geological doctrine that existing processes acting in the same manner as at present are sufficient to account for all geological changes.”
Using this idea—that the existing processes of geology can account for all geological changes—the geological community has extrapolated from the processes at work in the Grand Canyon, that the Canyon itself must be the result of slow, monotonous erosion. After studying the current rates of erosion caused by the Colorado River running through the Canyon, uniformitarians suggest that the Grand Canyon must have taken millions of years to carve.
In opposition to this idea of uniformitarianism, some in the scientific community, especially those who believe in the global Flood of Noah, have argued that slow, uniform processes cannot “account for all geological changes.” This idea, known as catastrophism, suggests that many of the Earth’s geological phenomena were caused by sudden, drastic catastrophes (i.e., Noah’s Flood).
Due to the overwhelming evidence for catastrophism, many in geological circles are being forced to admit that the idea of uniformitarianism cannot “account for all the geological changes” that are present on the Earth. In fact, recently in National Geographic Kids, the writers gave a telling nod to the idea of catastrophism when they wrote:
For a long time scientists believed that the Grand Canyon was carved out slowly over millions of years. Scientists also thought that the canyon had finished forming around 1.2 million years ago. But new research has turned both theories upside down. Geologists now think that the Grand Canyon grew in quick, violent spurts from massive flooding of the Colorado River (2003, p. 7).
Although not generally conceding the idea of a global flood, the geological community is being pulled closer to the fact that things have not always been the same on the Earth’s surface. They are also being pulled closer to the truth that things on this Earth might not continue as they are right now. As the apostle Peter once wrote:
[B]y the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:5-7).
[For further reading on the evidences for the Grand Canyon’s cataclysmic formation, see Stephen Austin’s book, Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, published in 1994 by the Institute for Creation Research.]


“Baby Grand” (2003), National Geographic Kids, p. 7, March.
Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary (2003), [On-line], URL: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary

Freedom Without Religion? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Freedom Without Religion?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Even in the midst of ominous economic woes, the level of prosperity enjoyed by Americans is unparalleled and unsurpassed in the history of the world. So also is the freedom that Americans enjoy—unsurpassed in the annals of human existence. To what do we owe these tremendous blessings? Are these circumstances coincidental, or merely the result of happenchance? A sizable segment of the American population has come to believe that the religious complexion of the nation has little or nothing to do with America’s freedom and prosperity. But what was the viewpoint of those who orchestrated the American Republic? As they arranged the inner workings of their grand political experiment, and established the framework from which the nation was to function, did they have anything to say about the role of religion as it relates to freedom and prosperity? Indeed, they did.
Declaration signer and physician, Dr. Benjamin Rush, explained the mode of education to be adopted “so as to secure to the state all the advantages to be derived from the proper instruction of youth”:
“[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments” (1804, p. 8). The “religion” to which Dr. Rush alluded was the Christian religion. Observe: without Christian virtue/morality, there can be no liberty.
On October 20, 1779, the Continental Congress—an entity that represents a host of the Founders of America—issued a proclamation to the entire nation that contains the quintessential answer to the question: “On what does American freedom depend?” Please read it closely:
Whereas it becomes us humbly to approach the throne of Almighty God, with gratitude and praise for the wonders which his goodness has wrought in conducting our forefathers to this western world; for his protection to them and to their posterity amid difficulties and dangers; for raising us, their children, from deep distress to be numbered among the nations of the earth; ...and above all, that he hath diffused the glorious light of the gospel, whereby, through the merits of our gracious Redeemer, we may become the heirs of his eternal glory: therefore, Resolved, That it be recommended to the several states, to appoint Thursday, the 9th of December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercies, and of prayer for the continuance of his favor and protection to these United States; ...that he would grant to his church the plentiful effusions of divine grace, and pour out his holy spirit on all ministers of the gospel; that he would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; ...that he would in mercy look down upon us, pardon our sins and receive us into his favor, and finally, that he would establish the independence of these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue, and support and protect them in the enjoyment of peace, liberty and safety as long as the sun and moon shall endure, until time shall be no more. Done in Congress, the 20th day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, and in the 4th year of the independence of the United States of America.
Samuel Huntington, President.
Attest, Charles Thomson, Secretary (Journals of..., 1904-1937, 15:1191-1193, emp. added).
There you have it—if you can accept it. The Founders of America—the very ones who initiated the incredible freedom that characterizes our country and for which she is renowned—maintained that that freedom depends on citizen commitment to the Christian religion. So does spiritual freedom. As Jesus Himself explained: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:31-32,36).


Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.
Rush, Benjamin (1804), Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical (Philadelphia, PA: Thomas and William Bradford), http://books.google.com/books?id=xtUKAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=benjamin+rush&cd=2#v=onepage&q&f=false.

How Long Was the Israelites’ Egyptian Bondage? by Kyle Butt, M.Div. Alden Bass Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


How Long Was the Israelites’ Egyptian Bondage?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Alden Bass
Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

[1] In Galatians 3:17, the apostle Paul stated that the Law of Moses (which was given shortly after the Israelites’ exit from Egypt) came 430 years after God had made His covenant with Abraham. However, Moses stated in Exodus 12:40-41 that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt 430 years. How can both passages be correct when it seems clear from a straightforward reading of biblical chronology that a minimum of 215 years passed between the time God made His covenant with Abraham and the time the Israelites (through Jacob) entered Egypt—thus making it appear that the Israelites had to have been in Egypt 645 years (215 + 430)?
[2] Additionally, information in 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20 allows for a maximum time period of 352 years. How, then, can it be stated that the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years?
[3] Furthermore, in Genesis 15:13 Moses explained that the Israelites would be “sojourners in a land that is not theirs” for “400 years,” and Stephen used the same figure in his speech in Acts 7:6 when he said that the Israelites would be brought “into bondage” and treated evil “for 400 years.” What is the truth of the matter? How, exactly, do all these passages fit together? How many years were the children of Israel in Egypt?
The Exodus of the Hebrews from the hands of their cruel Egyptian taskmasters is one of the most triumphant stories in Old Testament history. This event was the beginning of Israel’s rise to power, and proved to the then-known world that the living God had chosen the descendants of Abraham as the people through whom He would bring the Messiah. The Exodus and its aftermath were so monumental, in fact, that it virtually overshadowed the history of the previous centuries.
But the exact length of the Israelites’ “sojourn” has been in the past, and remains today, a matter of some controversy. Certain biblical passages (e.g., Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6) seem to indicate a length of 400 years for the time period under consideration. Elsewhere (e.g., Exodus 12:40-41) the length of time appears to be 430 years. Still other information (e.g., 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20) places an upper limit of approximately 350 years on the time frame involved. In an article written more than thirty years ago (“The Duration of the Egyptian Bondage”), chronologist Harold W. Hoehner observed: “When one looks at the various passages of Scripture concerning the length of Israel’s bondage in Egypt, one immediately discovers that there are apparent disagreements in the biblical record” (1969, 126:306). In his discussion on Exodus 12:40-41, renowned commentator Adam Clarke noted: “The statement in this verse is allowed on all hands to be extremely difficult, and therefore the passage stands in especial need of illustration” (n.d., p. 358). Albert Barnes took the same position in regard to Acts 7:6 when he wrote in his commentary on that book: “Great perplexity has been experienced in explaining this passage, or reconciling it with other statements” (1949a, p. 121). Those “other statements” to which Barnes referred are the passages mentioned in the above questions. Can the “apparent disagreements” between these passages be resolved?
Yes, they can. However, some background information on each of these passages is required in order to understand the problems posed by the three questions above—and the solutions that we plan to propose.
First, we need to address the suggestion that there was a minimum of 215 years between God’s promise to Abraham and the entrance of the Israelites (through Jacob) into Egypt. Such a suggestion is correct. Various writers (e.g.: Barnes, 1949b, p. 343; Duncan, n.d., p. 4; Hoehner, 1969, 126:308-309; Mauro, n.d., pp. 26-27) have explained how the 215-year figure can be obtained quite readily from Scripture. By way of summary, the information appears as follows:
Later in this discussion, we will return to the problem of the alleged 430 years of Egyptian bondage supposedly having to be added to that 215-year period. But for the present, we would like to examine the problem of the limitation placed on the Egyptian sojourn by information found in such passages as 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20. Again, by way of summary, the information gleaned from these texts is as follows:
  1. The text in Genesis 46:11 indicates that Kohath, the son of Levi and grandfather of Moses, apparently was born prior to Jacob moving to Egypt with his sons (Genesis 46:11). If he had just been born at the time, and if he sired his son Amram the last day of his life, then Amram could have been born no later than 134 years after the entrance into Egypt (rounding a 9-month pregnancy upward to a full year) because Kohath lived only 133 years (Exodus 6:18).
  2. Amram (the father of Moses) lived 137 years (Exodus 6:20). If he had sired Moses the last day of his life, then Moses would have been born no more than 272 years after Jacob and his sons entered Egypt (133 +1 + 137 + 1 = 272).
  3. Moses was 80 years old when Israel came out of Egypt (Exodus 7:7).
  4. Add that 80 to the 272, and the total is a maximum of 352 years. As Barnes noted: “From the account which Moses has given of the lives of certain persons, it would seem clear that...the whole time thus mentioned, including the time in which the father lived after his son, was only three hundred and fifty years” (1949a, p. 121, emp. in orig.). Thus the suggestion that these passages “allow for a maximum time period of 352 years” also is correct.
  5. Additional information that delimits the number of years of the sojourn can be derived from a source completely independent of Kohath—Moses’ mother, Jochebed. The Bible mentions her twice, the first instance being Exodus 6:20: “And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years.” Jochebed is named a second time in Numbers 26:59: “And the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.”
Clearly, Jochebed (who was born in Egypt) was the daughter of Levi, the sister of Kohath. With this information before us, let’s “crunch the numbers.” Eleven of Jacob’s sons were born within a seven-year period. Remember that as a bachelor, Jacob worked seven years for Laban in order to “pay” for Rachel, but was tricked by Laban into marrying Leah. Then, he worked for seven more years in order to marry Rachel. At the end of this second seven years, he asked to depart from Laban with all of the children who had been born to him and his wives (Genesis 30:25). With Levi being the third son of Jacob/Leah (allowing approximately one year for the births of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi), he could have been only about four years older than Joseph, who was born near the end of the seven-year period. As Joseph was 39 when Jacob came into Egypt (he was 30 when he appeared before Pharaoh [Genesis 41:46], plus seven years of plenty, plus one more year before the famine was realized), Levi could not have been more than 44 or 45 when he came into Egypt. Levi lived in Egypt for 93 years (age at his death was 137 [Exodus 6:16], minus 44 [his age when he went into Egypt], which equals 93). If Levi had conceived Jochebed on the very last day of his life, then Jochebed would have had to given birth to Moses when she was 257 years old in order to get a period of 430 years for the sojourn in Egypt (93 years that Levi lived in Egypt, plus Moses’ 80 years (Exodus 7:7) when he arrived to deliver the children of Israel—93+80+257=430). Recalling the fact that Sarah was only 90 when the miraculous birth of Isaac occurred, it makes little sense to suggest that Jochebed gave birth to Moses when she was almost three times as old as Sarah! Furthermore, we know that life spans were far shorter than 257 by this time, and that the 430-year sojourn does not (and cannot) fit with the genealogies—either through Kohath or through Jochebed.
Where, then, do the figures of 430 years and 400 years fit into all of this? Were the Israelites in Egypt 645 years? Or 430 years? Or 400 years? Or 215 years?
As we attempt to provide the answers to such questions, let us point out that no one has stepped forward to suggest that the Israelites were in Egypt for 645 years. Such a view is indefensible in light of the biblical evidence, including (but not necessarily limited to) the scripturally imposed time limit mentioned above of 352 years. There are, however, two major viewpoints regarding the specific length of Israel’s sojourn. The first suggests that the Israelites actually lived in Egypt for 430 years. This view has been adopted by Archer (1994, pp. 205-212), Keil and Delitzsch (1974, 2:29), Kitchen (1966, pp. 53-56), and Unger (1954, pp. 106,150), among others. Yet, as David Rohl observed in his book, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest:
In most commentaries or popular books on the Old Testament you will read that the Israelite Sojourn in the land of Egypt lasted four hundred and thirty years. However, this figure is by no means certain. In fact, there is clear evidence that the period of the Sojourn was no more than two hundred fifteen years (1995, p. 329).
Dr. Rohl is correct on both counts. The idea which suggests that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt is presented in “most commentaries or popular books on the Old Testament.” Nevertheless, there is “clear evidence” that the Israelites were in Egypt for only 215 years, not 430. [We will deal with the matter of the “400 years” of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 at a later point in this article, since it turns out to be a separate issue altogether.] This, then, is the second major view regarding the length of the sojourn, and has been adopted by such scholars as Barnes (n.d., p. 121), Clarke (n.d., 1:358), Henry (n.d., 1:322), Mauro (n.d., pp. 31-32), Rohl (1995, pp. 329-332), and Thiele (1963, pp. 166-167), among others. But why—in light of what appear to be clear statements of Scripture that assign a period of 430 years to the sojourn—do such writers suggest that the sojourn actually was half of that? An explanation is in order.
There is only one passage in the Old Testament that suggests a sojourn of 430 years—Exodus 12:40-41:
Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt.
Those who suggest that the sojourn lasted only 215 years believe—because numerous facts seem to demand it—that the time period of “the sojourning of the children of Israel” begins with the call of Abraham and God’s promise to him (Genesis 12:1-3), and ends with the Exodus. In other words, the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) sojourned in Canaan for 215 years, and their descendants lived in Egyptian bondage for an additional 215 years. The total, then, is the 430-year figure of Exodus 12:40-41 (and Galatians 3:17). In his commentary on Acts, Albert Barnes put it this way: “The question then is, how can these accounts be reconciled? The only satisfactory way is by supposing that the four hundred and thirty years includes the whole time from the calling of Abraham to the departure from Egypt”(1949a, p. 121, emp. added). In addressing the text of Acts 7:6 in his commentary on that inspired book, H. Leo Boles remarked: “Paul says that the law came four hundred thirty years after the promise (Gal. 3:17); so that the four hundred years of Ex. 12:40 probably included the patriarchs’ residence in Canaan (Genesis 15:13,14; Exodus 3:12)” [1941, p. 104, emp. added]. In his commentary on Galatians, Barnes wrote: “The exact time here referred to was probably when Abraham was called, and when the promise was first made to him. Assuming that as the time referred to, it is not difficult to make out the period of four hundred and thirty years” (1949b, p. 343).
But why is it “not difficult”? And what do we mean by our statement that some scholars believe the sojourn lasted only 215 years because “numerous facts” seem to demand it? What are those “numerous facts”? How can the 215-year figure be defended?
First, it must be admitted forthrightly, in light of the information given above, that there is a maximum of 352 years available for the sojourn in Egypt, whatever that sojourn might encompass. There simply is no way around that fact.
Second, Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, reviewed the time element associated with the covenant between God and Abraham (given in Genesis 15) when he wrote:
Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, “And to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “And to thy seed,” which is Christ. Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law—which came four hundred and thirty years after—doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none effect (3:16-17).
In discussing Paul’s observation, Philip Mauro wrote: “Here we see that the 430 years began with God’s promise to Abram, made at the time he entered into Canaan at the age of 75 (Gen. 12:1-4) and ended with the giving of the law, which was the same year as the Exodus” (n.d., p. 27). As we have shown above, it can be documented quite easily from Scripture that the time from Abraham’s call to Jacob’s entrance into Egypt was 215 years. Rohl therefore concluded:
Various passages in the book of Genesis have led scholars to determine that the period from Abraham’s descent to Jacob’s arrival in the Land of Goshen was two hundred and fifteen years and so the Sojourn in Egypt (from Jacob’s arrival to the Exodus) lasted around the same length of time—in other words, circa two hundred and fifteen years (1995, p. 331, parenthetical item in orig.).
If the time period between Abraham’s call and the giving of the law (which occurred roughly three months after the Exodus) was 430 years (and Paul specifically remarked that it was), and if 215 of those years had passed before the Israelites went into Egypt (the time period from Abraham’s call to Jacob’s entrance into the land of the Nile), then that would leave only 215 years remaining for the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt—which is exactly the time frame we believe the evidence supports.
Third, in Genesis 15:16 it was prophesied that the Israelites would return to Palestine during the lifetime of the “fourth generation”—which they did, according to Exodus 6:16-20, Numbers 3:17-19, Numbers 26:57-59, 1 Chronicles 6:1-3, and 1 Chronicles 23:6,12-13 (Jacob-Levi-Kohath-Amram-Moses). As Hoehner (who does not even agree with the 215-year view) admitted: “To fit four generations into a 215-year period is much more reasonable than a 430- year span” (1969, 126:309; see also Duncan, n.d.).
Fourth, secular research likewise has concluded that the Israelites remained in the land of the pharaohs for 215 years. David Rohl, a respected Egyptologist, is convinced that this is the proper interpretation of the facts. In his book, Pharaohs and Kings, he undertook the challenge of reassessing the century-old Egyptian chronology so that it could accommodate more accurately several new archaeological discoveries. According to his research, Israel went down into Egypt c. 1662 B.C., and was delivered by God through Moses c. 1447 B.C.—a span of 215 years (1995, pp. 329-332).
Fifth, there are other important historical and/or textual considerations that need to be investigated in this matter. For example, in Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus wrote that the Israelites “left Egypt in the month of Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt” (II. 15.2). Rohl observed in this regard:
Now, according to the statements of Josephus himself, he had access to very old documents formerly housed in the Temple of Jerusalem from which to draw his account of early Israelite history. Josephus lived in the first century A.D. and so his writings are dated hundreds of years before the Masoretic text of the Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) was completed in the fourth century A.D. If his source documents were genuine, then the information he gives for the duration of the Sojourn derives from a much earlier period than that employed by the Masoretes when they made their version of the history of Israel and a further several centuries before the earliest extant copy of the Masoretic text (1995, p. 331).
In the Masoretic text of the Old Testament (to which Rohl referred, and on which the biblical quotations given above have been based), Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “The time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.” Two other highly reliable biblical texts, however, strongly suggest that this translation is incorrect due to a critical omission. In both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan AND in the land of Egypt was 430 years” (see Clarke, n.d., pp. 358-359, emp. in orig.). William Whiston, who translated the works of Flavius Josephus into English, included a footnote at the bottom of the page accompanying Josephus’ comment (quoted above in regard to the Israelites’ 215-year stay in Egypt). Whiston wrote:
Why our Masorete copy so groundlessly abridges this account in Exod. xii,40 as to ascribe 430 years to the sole peregrination [travel by foot—AB/BT/KB] of the Israelites in Egypt when it is clear even by that Masorete chronology elsewhere, as well as from the express text itself, in the Samaritan, Septuagint, and Josephus, that they sojourned in Egypt but half that time—and that by consequence the other half of their peregrination was in the land of Canaan, before they came into Egypt—is hard to say (1974, 2:171).
Rohl suggested, however, that it really is not hard to say. In fact, he said:
It is fairly easy to see what happened in the interval between Josephus’ day and that of the Masoretes. During the process of copying down the original scrolls over the intervening centuries, a section of text something on the lines of “and in the land of Canaan” had fallen out (or had been edited out). This is confirmed by the Greek rendition of the Old Testament (the Septuagint or LXX) which retains the original, full version of the passage (1995, p. 331).
In his commentary on the Pentateuch, Adam Clarke discussed this at length:
...the Samaritan Pentateuch, by preserving the two passages, they and their fathers and in the land of Canaan, which are lost out of the present copies of the Hebrew text, has rescued this passage from all obscurity and contradiction. It may be necessary to observe that the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has the same reading as that in the Samaritan. The Samaritan Pentateuch is allowed by many learned men to exhibit the most correct copy of the five books of Moses; and the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint must also be allowed to be one of the most authentic as well as most ancient copies of this version which we possess (n.d., pp. 358-359, emp. in orig.).
Rohl wrote in agreement:
The Septuagint was first written down in the time of Ptolemy I during the third century B.C. and the earliest surviving manuscript is again much older than the earliest surviving Masoretic copy. The Samaritan version of the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) is also considerably more ancient than the Masoretic scriptures and it too retains the longer rendition of the passage on the length of the Sojourn. Thus, three out of four sources for the book of Exodus state that the four-hundred-and-thirty-year interval represents the whole period from Abraham’s descent into Canaan all the way down to the Exodus of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt (1995, p. 331).
If Josephus, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Septuagint are correct (and there is good evidence to indicate that they are) in stating that “the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan AND in the land of Egypt was 430 years,” then the alleged contradiction between Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17 evaporates into thin air, and the 215-year figure for the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt can be accepted quite easily as both credible and scriptural.
But where do the “400 years” of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 fit into this scheme? As God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15 while the patriarch was dwelling among the terebinth trees at Hebron, the Lord said: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.” Here, God was permitting His faithful servant—through words spoken approximately two centuries prior to Israel’s entrance into Egypt—to peek into the future of his descendants. Add to that the words of Stephen (in Acts 7:6) when he said, looking back on Israel’s history: “And God spake on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and treat them ill, four hundred years.” What is the meaning of these particular passages?
Some writers (e.g., Barnes, 1949a, p. 121; Boles, 1941, p. 104) have suggested that the 400- year figure represents merely a “rounding off” of the 430-year figure given in Genesis 15:13. But we think there is a much better explanation, and suggest that there is a fundamental distinction between the 430-year figure and the 400-year figure.
Notice that in Stephen’s speech he specifically stated that Abraham’s “seed should sojourn in a strange land.” In his book, The Wonders of Bible Chronology, Philip Mauro wrote:
But, in addition to this period of 430 years, there is another of 400 years, which also ended at the Exodus.... The period of 430 years includes the sojourn of Abram and Sarah. That of 400, however, begins with the experience of Abraham’s “seed.” This refers, of course, to Isaac in the first place; for in Isaac the promised “seed” was to be “ called”; but the era is not that of the birth of Isaac, but that when he was acknowledged the “seed” and the “heir” by the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael. That took place at the time of the “great feast” which Abraham made the day Isaac was weaned (Gen. 21:8-10). This is an important event in the annals of God’s people, because of its deep spiritual significance, as appears by the reference to it in Galatians 4:29,30. From the foregoing Scriptures we are able to arrive at the date when Isaac was weaned and Ishmael was cast out (whereby Isaac became the acknowledged “seed” and “heir”). For there is a difference of thirty years between the two periods. But we have already found that there were twenty-five years from the call of Abraham (and God’s “ covenant” with him) to the birth of Isaac. Hence, deducting 25 from 30 gives us 5 years as the age of Isaac when Ishmael was cast out. There is no need to give at greater length the proofs concerning the 400-year period (n.d., pp. 27, 28, emp. in orig.).
As Hoehner wrote: “In conclusion, the 430 years went from Abraham’s call to the Exodus. The first 215 years was their sojourn in Palestine and the last 215 years in Egypt. The 400 years was from the weaning of Isaac to the time of the Exodus” (1969, 126:309). Our point exactly!
Some may ask, though, how the 215-year figure for the Israelites’ time in Egypt can be squared with statements such as those in Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6, which seem to indicate that the Hebrews would be “sojourners in a strange land that is not theirs” where their enemies would “bring them into bondage” and “treat them ill”? In his commentary on Galatians, David Lipscomb addressed this point.
The law was given by Moses four hundred and thirty years after this promise was made to Abraham (Ex. 12:40). Many interpret this to mean that they sojourned in Egypt four hundred and thirty years. But they dwelt in tents and had no permanent habitation during their sojourn in Canaan and Egypt and in the wilderness from the call in Ur until the entrance into Canaan after the Egyptian bondage (n.d., p. 231, emp. added).
Or, as Mauro stated: “This period of ‘sojourning’ of the people of God is reckoned from Abraham’s entrance into Canaan, for then they (Abram and Sarah, the beginnings of the family) became strangers and pilgrims (Heb. 11:8-13)” [n.d., p. 27, parenthetical item in orig.]. In Exodus 6:4, Canaan is referred to as “the land in which they dwelt as sojourners.” While it certainly is true that they were slaves in Egypt for a considerable period of time (215 years), their oppression actually began much earlier, and lasted much longer, than just those 215 years. In fact, it would be accurate to say that the oppression began as early as Ishmael, who was half Egyptian and who mocked Isaac, the son of promise (Genesis 21:9). In Galatians 4:29, Paul discussed Ishmael’s ill treatment of Isaac when he penned these words: “He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit.” That “persecution” obviously continued, as is evident from the fact that Egyptians felt it was a great abomination to eat with Hebrews (Genesis 43:32)—even until the time that Joseph came to power in their country. Later, of course, the persecution culminated in the attempted destruction by Pharaoh of the Hebrew male babies during Moses’ infancy (Exodus 1:15-22). Thus, the “sojourning” and “ill treatment” did not occur only during Egyptian captivity, but actually had commenced much earlier.
Critics of the 215-year view, however, have suggested that the second 215-year period (i.e., the time spent in Egypt) would not allow for the population explosion that obviously occurred while the Hebrews were captives. Less than 100 went down into Egypt, and yet by the time they left, they numbered more than 2 million (based on the figures in Numbers 1:46; cf. Archer, 1982, pp. 378-379). However, C.G. Ozanne, in his volume, The First 7,000 Years, has shed some light on this criticism.
Of course, the standard objection to this interpretation is the census totals of male Levites in Numbers 3. In this chapter the total number of Kohath’s male descendants “from a month old and upward” is given as 8600 (v. 28), these being divided between his four sons, Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Assuming that the total number is to be divided evenly between the four sons, Amram must have had some 2150 male descendants within a few months of the Exodus. At first sight this figure may seem well-nigh impossible. When, however, it is broken down, it begins to assume more reasonable proportions. Thus, supposing that Amram was born fifty-five years after the descent into Egypt and that forty years constitute a generation, it is only necessary to allocate seven males to a family to arrive at a figure considerably in excess of the desired 2150. On this reckoning Moses would have had 7 brothers (for he himself may be ignored for the purposes of this calculation), 49 nephews, 343 great-nephews and 2401 great-great-nephews within the allotted span. A total of 2800 is thus obtained, of which the vast majority would still have been alive to see the exodus from Egypt. Bearing in mind the greatly extended period of childbearing (Jochebed was about 70 at the birth of Moses), the practice of polygamy (which enabled Jacob to have eleven sons in seven years), and above all the astonishing fertility of the Israelite women on which the Bible lays special emphasis (cf. Gen. 46.3; Exod. 1.7,12,19; Deut. 26.5), the rate of increase here suggested should not necessarily be thought incredible (1970, pp. 22-23).
Thus, when all of the biblical information is considered, it is apparent that there is no contradiction between Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17. Nor is there any problem in regard to Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6. As the late Bobby Duncan said when he ended his study of these matters, “Isn’t it amazing how the Bible clarifies the Bible?” (n.d., p. 4). Amazing indeed!
Archer, Gleason (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Archer, Gleason L. (1994), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Barnes, Albert (1949a reprint), Barnes’ Notes—Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Barnes, Albert (1949b reprint), Barnes’ Notes—II Corinthians and Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Boles, H. Leo (1941), Commentary on Acts of the Apostles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary on the Old Testament—Volume I: Genesis to Deuteronomy (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury).
Duncan, Bobby (no date), “The God of the Fourth Generation” (Adamsville, AL: Adamsville Church of Christ).
Henry, Matthew (no date), Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible—Volume I: Genesis to Deuteronomy (McLean, VA: MacDonald).
Hoehner, Harold W. (1969), “The Duration of the Egyptian Bondage,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 126:306-316, October.
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1974 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament—The Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Kitchen, Kenneth A. (1966), Ancient Orient and Old Testament (London: Tyndale).
Lipscomb, David (no date), Commentary on Second Corinthians and Galatians (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Mauro, Philip (no date), The Wonders of Bible Chronology (Swengel, PA: Reiner).
Ozanne, C.G. (1970), The First 7,000 Years (New York: Exposition Press).
Rohl, David M. (1995), Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (New York: Crown).
Thiele, Edwin (1963), “Chronology, Old Testament,” Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Unger, Merrill (1954), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Whiston, William, trans. (1974 reprint), The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).