"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Learning From Hypocrites (23:1-39) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   Learning From Hypocrites (23:1-39)


1. What is a hypocrite?
   a. Some are accused of hypocrisy when their walk does not measure up
      to their talk
   b. But that may be an indication of weakness, not hypocrisy per se
   c. "Hypocrite" comes from the Greek "hupokrites (hoop-ok-ree-tace'),
      meaning an actor under an assumed character; e.g., stage-player
   d. A true hypocrite is one who pretends to be something he or she is
      not, and really has no intention of becoming

2. Jesus addressed hypocrites in His day, in particular some scribes
   and Pharisees...
   a. They were among the more religiously conservative of that time
   b. Yet some of the harshest words Jesus ever spoke were directed
      toward them
   c. In just one speech, he called them...
      1) Hypocrites (seven times) - Mt 23:13-15,23,25,27,29
      2) Fools (twice) and blind guides (five times) - Mt 23:16-17,19,
      3) Serpents, brood of vipers (once) - Mt 23:33

3. Despite such strong condemnation, one can learn from hypocrites...
   a. You can heed their teaching, when it comes from God's word - cf.
      Mt 23:1-3
      1) Don't automatically disregard the message if the messenger is
         a hypocrite
      2) Look beyond the messenger to the original source of the 
   b. You can also learn how not to act...
      1) Especially when you take note of how Jesus rebuked them
      2) Which we shall do in this lesson

[What valuable lessons can we learn from hypocrites?  The first are
lessons gleaned ...]


      1. When speaking from Moses' seat in the synagogues, they were
         speaking with authority
      2. Unfortunately, they were binding things on others they
         themselves were unwilling to observe - Mt 23:1-4
      3. This breeds disrespect for all authority, including the Word
         of God
      -- If we desire the highest regard for God's word, then practice
         what we preach!

      1. When they did their works, they did them to be seen by others
         - Mt 23:5a
      2. They loved to wear religious clothing that gave appearance of
         devotion - Mt 23:5b
      3. With time, such hypocrisy will become evident to those who
         know us
      -- If we desire God's approval, we need to do things to glorify
         God, and at times seen only by Him - Mt 5:16; 6:1-18

      1. The Pharisees loved special treatment received from others
      2. Such as the best seats and honorary titles - Mt 23:6-7
      3. Jesus expected His disciples to be different - Mt 23:8-12
         a. He forbade the use of religious titles
         b. He enjoined humility as the road to greatness
      -- If we desire to honor Christ, we will respect His teaching and
         not use religious titles or expect special treatment, but
         serve others with humility

[As Jesus continues with a diatribe against the hypocrisy of the
scribes and Pharisees, we glean several lessons...]


      1. They failed to truly show others the way to the kingdom of
         heaven, and to go in themselves - Mt 23:13
      2. Through their doctrines they had rendered the commandments of
         God of no effect - cf. Mt 15:3-6
      3. Their teaching came from hearts far removed from God - 
         cf. Mt 15:7-9
      -- We need to make sure our teaching saves both ourselves and
         others - cf. 1Ti 4:16

      1. They used religion to take advantage of widows, and impress
         others - Mt 23:14
      2. Paul warned Timothy and Titus about such teachers - 2Ti 3:
         4-6; Tit 1:10-11
      3. Instead, we should view godliness with contentment as true
         gain - cf. 1Ti 6:3-8
      -- It is imperative that we do things honorable in the sight of
         all - cf. 2Co 8:21

      1. The Pharisees did not make people better, they made them
         worse! - Mt 23:15
      2. Perhaps by their emphasis on the traditions of men, rather
         than upon the word of God
         a. The Pharisees themselves may have known the word of God to
            some degree
         b. But in neglecting God's word, they starved those who
            received their teaching!
      -- We must be careful not to put ourselves or traditions between
         God's word and those we teach, but let them know "the whole
         counsel of God"! - cf. Ac 20:27

      1. The scribes and Pharisees made fine distinctions between the
         types of oaths one could swear - Mt 23:16-22
      2. We can easily do similar things today
         a. Saying some commands of God are essential to salvation,
            while others are not
         b. Teaching our "think so's" and "it seems to me" instead of
            telling people what the Bible says
      -- To safely guard against this, "let us speak where the Bible
         speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent", proclaiming
         the oracles of God - cf. 1Pe 4:11

[As Jesus increases the level of His righteous indignation against the
hypocritical scribes and Pharisees of that day, we are able to learn
three final lessons...]

      1. They left undone the "weightier" matters of God's law - Mt 23:
         a. They stressed tithing, but neglected justice, mercy, faith
         b. Thus they would strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel
      2. We can be guilty of the same thing
         a. By stressing "lighter" matters, and leave "weightier"
            matters undone
         b. Also by stressing "weightier" matters, and leave "lighter"
            things undone
      -- Jesus said we should do both, leaving neither undone, for all
         of God's commandments are important! - cf. Mt 5:19

      1. The "blind" scribes and Pharisees focused only on the outside
         - Mt 23:25-28
         a. Concerned with keeping the traditions of ritual cleansing
         b. Willing to put up with extortion, self-indulgence,
            hypocrisy and lawlessness
      2. We can be guilty of having the wrong focus
         a. Stressing big buildings, large crowds
         b. Accepting people into the church without challenging them
            to true repentance
      -- If we are to avoid creating a church of hypocrites, then we
         need to emphasize true repentance, a conversion of the inner
         man - cf. Ro 12:2

      1. They honored the ancient men of God, but were more like their
         ancestors who murdered the prophets - Mt 23:29-31
         a. Indeed, they would do even more harm than their fathers 
            - Mt 23:32-34
         b. Upon that generation would come the judgment for the murder
            of all God's prophets (cf. the destruction of Jerusalem in
            70 A.D.) - Mt 23:35-39
      2. We honor men like Jesus and Peter, but are we willing to live
         what they preached?
         a. Are we willing to obey their commands? - cf. Mt 28:18-20;
            Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38
         b. Or are we like many back then who refused to heed their


1. What can we learn from hypocrites?  A lot!  Provided we...
   a. Take to heart Jesus' denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees!
   b. Do not imitate their abuse of authority, failure in teaching, and
      inconsistency of practice!

2. Speaking of hypocrites, some people avoid church because "there are
   too many hypocrites there."  There may be hypocrites in the church,
   but that is no reason not to follow Jesus...
   a. Did the hypocrisy of Judas Iscariot permit the rest of the
      apostles to leave Jesus?
   b. Do you allow the presence of hypocrites keep you from enjoying
      other activities (such as sports events, vacations, etc.)?

Besides...which is better, to spend a short time with hypocrites in the
church, or to spend eternity with hypocrites in hell?  Remember what
Jesus said of the hypocrites:

      "How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" (Mt 23:33b)

Only through the redemption God offers through His Son can any of us
escape the condemnation of hell.  Don't let the hypocrisy of some keep
you from the blessings of salvation in Christ Jesus!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Two Great Commandments (22:34-40) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   Two Great Commandments (22:34-40)


1. In the temple during His final week prior to His crucifixion, Jesus
   was questioned by various religious groups...
   a. The Pharisees and Herodians sought to entangle Him with a
      question about paying taxes - Mt 22:15-22
   b. The Sadducees tried to trip Him on the subject of the 
      resurrection - Mt 22:23-33
   -- His answers caused people to marvel and be astonished - Mt 22:22,

2. The Pharisees tried once again, this time sending one of their
   a. Testing Him as to which is the great commandment in the law 
      - Mt 22:34-36
   b. Jesus replied by offering two great commandments
      1) The first pertained to loving God - Mt 22:37-38
      2) The second pertained to loving one's neighbor - Mt 22:39
      -- Upon these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets
         - Mt 22:40

3. While we no longer live under the Old Law, these "Two Great
   Commandments" are still very important to the Christian...
   a. For they certainly have their counterpart in the New Covenant
   b. And keeping the commandments of God is just as important now as
      it was under the Old Covenant - cf. 1Co 7:19; 1Jn 5:3

[It is proper to ask, therefore, do we love God and our neighbor as we
should?  Do we understand what is involved in loving God and our fellow
man?  Perhaps by reflecting upon these "Two Great Commandments" we can
find the answer to such questions...]


      1. The Israelites were expected to love God (Deut 6:5)...
         a. "with all your heart"
         b. "with all your soul"
         c. "with all your strength"
         d. "with all your mind" - cf. Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27
            (the Septuagint has "mind, soul, strength" in Deut 6:5)
         -- Emotionally, physically, intellectually, they were to love
      2. Thus they were to love God with their whole being, not like
         some who...
         a. Serve God emotionally, while committing intellectual
         b. Serve God intellectually, but with no emotion
         c. Serve God emotionally and intellectually, but with no
            actual obedience requiring the exercise of strength (i.e.,
         -- Note how the Law stated their responsibility in Deut 10:

      1. Does God expect any less of us?  Of course not!  We are to 
         love God:
         a. With all our heart - cf. 1Co 16:22 (note the use of the
            word "phileo")
         b. With all our soul (body and mind) - cf. Ro 12:1-2
         c. With all our strength - cf. He 10:36
         d. With all our mind - cf. Col 3:1; Php 4:8
      2. We demonstrate our love for God through keeping His
         a. This is the love of God - 1Jn 5:3
         b. This is evidence that we love Jesus - Jn 14:15

      1. We enjoy a special relationship with God and Jesus - Jn14:21-23
      2. We will abide in the love of God - Jn 15:10; 1Jn 2:5
      3. Our prayers will be answered - 1Jn 3:22

      1. By allowing God's love for us to move us - cf. 1Jn 4:9-10;
         Ro 5:8
         a. God loved us, even while we were still sinners
         b. When we reflect upon His love for us, we will love Him
      2. By asking God to help us grow in love - cf. 2Th 3:5
         a. Paul prayed that the Lord would direct the Thessalonians
            into the love of God
         b. If he could pray such for others, can we not pray the same
            for ourselves?
      3. By praying, and growing in love when He answers - cf. Ps 116:
         a. David loved the Lord because He heard His supplications
         b. Perhaps if we prayed more, and received answers to our
            prayers more, we would love God more!
      4. By keeping the word of God - cf. 1Jn 2:5
         a. The love of God is perfected in those who keep God's word
         b. Therefore the more we obey Him, the more our love for God
            will grow!
[Do we love God any less than what was expected of the Israelites?  We
certainly have compelling reasons to love Him even more (e.g., the gift
of His Son)!  Now let's consider...]


      1. We owe it to our neighbors to love them - Ro 13:8a
      2. When fully applied, it fulfills what the Law required - Ro 13:
         a. Five of the Ten Commandments spoke to working no ill toward
            our fellow man
         b. If one truly loves his or her neighbor, they will not be
            guilty of killing, adultery, stealing, lying, or 
         c. For sins (and many others) do grave harm to our neighbor

      1. Jesus taught us to love one another - Jn 13:34-35
      2. This new command takes our love to a higher level
         a. No longer do we just love one another as we love ourselves
         b. We must love one another as Christ loved us!
            1) He loved us with the greatest love - Jn 15:13
            2) He became poor, that we might be rich - 2Co 8:9
      3. Thus no one can use low self-esteem (or low self-love) as an
         excuse not to love others as they should
      1. We demonstrate true love of one another by keeping the
         commandments of God - 2Jn 5-6
      2. This is how we know that we really love one another - 1Jn 5:2
         a. Not by just claiming to love one another
         b. But by setting the proper example, and encouraging each
            other by the example we set!

      1. We develop love for one another by being taught of God - cf.
         1Th 4:9-10
         a. The Thessalonians had been taught of God to love their
         b. They did so remarkably, though there was always room for
      2. Jesus by His own example demonstrates what true love is-1Jn 3:16-18
      -- If we wish to learn how to love one another properly, look to
         God and Jesus!


1. How great were these two commandments...to love God, and to love
   your neighbor?
   a. "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
      - Mt 22:40
   b. "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." - Ro 13:9
   -- These two commands summed up what the Old Law required of the

2. When one truly loves God, and loves his neighbor as himself...
   a. He is on the road that leads to eternal life! - cf. Lk 10:25-28
   b. He is on the path that leads to the kingdom of God! - cf. Mk 12:

If you wish to receive eternal life, and become a citizen of the
kingdom, then demonstrate your love for God by obeying His commands
(cf. Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:16), and live a life of faith in Jesus that is
focused on loving God and your fellow man!

Lilith… The First Wife of Adam? by Kyle Butt, M.Div. Harrison Chastain


Lilith… The First Wife of Adam?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Harrison Chastain

The first chapters of the book of Genesis give us a “play by play” analysis of many of the main events in the creation of the Universe. The text explains that God created everything in the Universe in six, literal days. Included in His “very good” creation (Genesis 1:31) was the formation of the first man—Adam. After God breathed life into his nostrils, the Bible states that God did not want man to be alone, and so the Creator brought into existence a helper comparable to Adam. The Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam, and He fashioned Eve from one of the man’s ribs. This well-known narrative is often one of the first Bible stories children learn.
Over the years, some people have questioned the legitimacy of the story of the first two people on Earth. They have suggested that Eve was not Adam’s first wife. Uninspired Jewish folklore says that a woman by the name of Lilith was Adam’s first wife instead of Eve. The text known as The Alphabet of Ben Sira narrates the mythical story of Lilith, explaining that God originally created her out of the ground just as He created Adam. But when Adam explained to her that he was to be the leader and head of the relationship, Lilith flew away from him. Adam then proceeded to report the incident to God. God sent three angels to retrieve her, and she refused to return (Alphabet of Ben Sira, 2015). [NOTE: The date of this work is unknown, but scholars generally agree it was written some time in the middle ages around 1000-1300 A.D. see “Alphabet of Ben Sira,” 2008].
When the Lilith legend is evaluated closer, however, it becomes obvious that the story is a fabricated myth unsupported by historical fact. It is impossible to nail down when the myth started. Her name derives from a Sumerian word that means “female demons” or “wind spirits.” Lilith’s roots can be roughly traced back to Babylonian demonology, where she is said to have terrorized pregnant women and preyed upon infants, but even that is uncertain.  Feminists in today’s society often praise her for attempting to break free from the shackles of Adam’s rule in the Garden of Eden. In most expressions of her myth, she represents seduction, chaos, and ungodliness (Gaines, 2014). There is no historical proof that Lilith existed on the Earth, much less that she was Adam’s first wife who God formed in the beginning.


In order to validate the claim that the Lilith myth is true, adherents insist that Genesis chapters one and two are separate Creation accounts. God supposedly created Lilith from dust at the same time as Adam in one Creation account, and Eve was formed from his rib as the Bible describes in the other. When the words of Genesis are surveyed in greater detail, this claim cannot be reasonably maintained. There are not two different accounts of Creation in Genesis one and two (Jackson, 1991). Genesis two simply provides more details regarding the Creation account of chapter one. Genesis one and two form a perfectly complimentary account of the same events. The biblical text specifically mentions Eve as Adam’s wife and states that she is the “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Just as conspicuously, the text does not mention any other wife, nor does it mention other mythological female demons or gods such as Ashteroth, Hera, Ishtar, or Lamia. To artificially insert such a character into the text would be disingenuous and misguided.
When the words of the Bible are evaluated, they have been proven to be factually accurate. The historical facts, archaeological finds, and written records of famous historians “live to tell the tale.” Not only have people such as John the Baptizer and King David been shown to be real, historical figures, but also countless narratives in the Bible have proven to be historically true. In fact, nothing in secular history has ever been shown to be factually true that disproves anything in the 66 books of the Bible. That fact, coupled with numerous other evidences, proves these books to be accurate and inspired (Butt, 2007). Since the Lilith story contradicts the biblical account of Creation, and since we can know that the biblical account is accurate and inspired, then we can conclude that the Lilith myth cannot be true and must be understood to be a myth fabricated over time from human imagination.


Does the myth of Lilith match up with the biblical record? Despite the beliefs and personal opinions of some, it does not. There is only one account of creation in the Bible, and the name Lilith is not found in the Creation account. Her name is associated with myths, folktales, and demonology that is based on superstition and imagination, not historical events. The Bible’s account of creation has passed every test of scrutiny and has proven itself to be historically accurate and divinely inspired. Any person or group of people can make up a story, but God’s Word has stood the test of time, and it remains the standard.


“Alphabet of Ben Sira,” (2008), Encyclopedia Judaica, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0003_0_02541.html.
Alphabet of Ben Sira, (2015), http://jwa.org/media/alphabet-of-ben-sira-78-lilith.
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God, Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Behold%20the%20Word%20of%20God.pdf.
Gaines, Janet Howe (2014), “Lilith: Seductress, Heroine, or Murderer?” Bible Archaeology, http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/lilith/.
Jackson, Wayne (1991), “Are There Two Creation Accounts in Genesis?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=127&article=1131.

God's Fierce Anger by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God's Fierce Anger

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

A great disservice has been committed against the present generation of Americans. An inaccurate picture of the character and nature of God has been created. But only God’s Word can provide us with a balanced, healthy comprehension of God’s personal attributes. Only the Bible can bestow upon us the appropriate interplay between the love and mercy of God, as well as the wrath and anger of God. Many people today have failed to assess properly the reality of God’s wrath. They have substituted emotion and human feelings for truth and the clear statements of God.
A general attitude of permissiveness, laxity, and undiscriminating tolerance has blanketed American society. Christians comfortably relax in the presence of impenitent sin and open defiance of the laws of God—using the refrain that, after all, “nobody’s perfect.” Christians demonstrate a willingness to toy with unscriptural innovation—after all, “God wants us to be happy and to express ourselves.” Church members entertain fellowship with denominationalism and false religion—after all, “it’s sincerity that counts,” not whether you conform to the objective, absolute will of God. Churches lose their sense of alarm and urgency in providing wayward church members and the unevangelized with the divine antidote to sin and their lost condition.
Out of this context, voices have arisen that focus almost exclusively upon the love of God. Emphasis is repeatedly placed upon God’s compassion, mercy, and grace—to the neglect of other attributes of God. While one never can emphasize God’s love enough, one can be guilty of misrepresenting the true nature of that love. One can so present the love of God that the equally biblical doctrine of God’s wrath makes no sense, and eventually fades into irrelevance.


Many Bible passages detail the amazing love of God. Consider the following from the New Testament:
“Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:30,32).
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16).
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” I John 3:16 says: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (Romans 8:32).
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
“[T]he kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared” (Titus 3:4).
Even in the Old Testament, God’s amazing love is expressed repeatedly:
“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’ ” (Exodus 34:6-7).
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
“ ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool’ ” (Isaiah 1:18).
“I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 38:17).
“I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me; for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22).
“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
Of course, the Bible contains many more similar allusions. These few serve to summarize the basic nature of the incredible love of God. God loves every single human being. He wants every single person to obey Him so that He can usher every person into eternity in His presence. “God…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).


But, having noted the reality of the wonderful love of God for all people, the reader is urged to integrate and harmonize this attribute of God with what the Scriptures teach about God’s wrath. Numerous passages in both the Old and New Testaments depict God as a God Who executes His wrath against people. Notice the following from the Old Testament:
“For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me” (Exodus 20:5).
“[B]y no means clearing the guilty” (Exodus 34:7).
“[Lest the anger of the Lord your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 6:15).
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe” (Deuteronomy 10:17).
“Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. And the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 29:27-28).
“Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ ” (Deuteronomy 31:17).
Moving to the New Testament, notice the following verses:
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).
“[S]ince it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
God struck dead two Christians, a husband and wife, in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 5:1-11). The writer of Hebrews provided this sober warning:
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who rejected Moses’ law died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God under foot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:26-31).
He then added: “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Given today’s religious climate, many people do not believe that such verses exist in the Bible. Or they ignore them or insist that they do not apply today. What a tragic mistake! The Bible is replete with such references to the wrath and justice of God, and it is imperative that we accept them and respond accordingly.
Consider the example of the great Judean king, Hezekiah. He endeavored to bring the nation back into harmony with God’s written revelation. Why? “...that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.” That expression is used three times in the context (2 Chronicles 29:10; 30:8; 32:26). King Josiah found himself in a similar circumstance. When he realized the extent to which the nation had departed from God’s will, he tore his robes and declared: “[G]reat is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do after all that is written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:21).
People in our day go merrily on their way, out of harmony with God’s written Word, consoling themselves with a false view of God’s love. They are like Jeremiah’s contemporaries, who tried to heal the hurt of the people “slightly.” “Slightly” meant they did not consider their neglect of God’s will to be all that serious. They said, “Peace, Peace” when there was no peace as long as they were out of harmony with the Scriptures (Jeremiah 6:14).
The time has come to approach the situation the way the prophets of God did. Read the Old Testament books written by the prophets—like Amos, Joel, and Habakkuk. As they did, we need to warn people today about the reality of God’s wrath and its inevitable occurrence. One day, all people will know what God’s wrath is. Listen again to the words of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9: “[T]he Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who know not God, and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”
It is absolutely imperative that we live our lives everyday with a correct understanding of both the love of God and the wrath of God. The same God Who speaks of the availability of an eternal home of bliss called heaven is the same God Who will provide an eternal place of conscious pain called hell. Consider closely Paul’s summary given to Christians in Rome, warning them of the danger of losing their salvation: “Therefore, consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off ” (Romans 11:22).
Did you know that God cannot save everybody? “But I thought God can do anything?” Not true! The Bible certainly represents God as omnipotent—all-powerful (Romans 1:20; Ephesians 1:19). But we misunderstand the power of God if we think He somehow is going to gloss over people’s rejection of His words and save everyone. God simply cannot do that and still be God! God is powerless to save people who do not want to be saved. He cannot save people who refuse to take advantage of the antidote to sin that He has provided. He is incapable of saving those who reject the one and only means by which they can be forgiven of sin.
God made provision for human sin by sending His Son to die in place of us. Only the sacrifice of Christ had the atoning power to pay for our sin. But the very nature of the Universe is such that God gave us free moral agency. He cannot interfere with our own wills and coerce us to be saved. We must make the choice. We are responsible for all of our choices. If we wish to take advantage of the free gift of salvation available in Christ, we must freely choose to believe, to repent of our sins, to confess Jesus to be divine, and to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins. Passage after passage in the New Testament indicates that this is the divine plan of salvation for human beings. Hear the Gospel message of salvation and choose to believe (Romans 10:17). Change your mind about your past sinful conduct (Acts 17:30). Confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10). Then allow someone to baptize you, that is, immerse you in water with the understanding that in that action, the blood of Jesus will wash away your sins by the grace of God (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21).
If you deliberately reject these simple instructions on how to become a Christian, then you will have no one else to blame in eternity when you experience the wrath and punishment of God. When one becomes a Christian, then a new life commences. Now that person will pour over the Scriptures in order to learn how to live the Christian life. He or she will find out how God wants to be worshipped. “You mean, I can’t just worship God spontaneously out of my own inclinations?” Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
A person also will determine which church Christ endorses, and refrain from associating with churches spawned by mere men. “You mean one church is not as good as another?” That’s correct. Jesus did not build a multiplicity of churches. He built only one (Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12:20). He declared: “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).
A fitting summary regarding the nature of God and how all people must make preparation now for eternity is found in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

Facsimile 1 from the Book of Abraham by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.


Facsimile 1 from the Book of Abraham

by  Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

Christianity is a historical religion. The Bible makes claims about events that happened in real time and space that can be evaluated in light of the historical and archaeological records. If the events of the Bible truly happened, then one would expect the surviving evidence to lend support to the biblical record. If not, then we would naturally expect the evidence to contradict it. Over the last two centuries, the Bible has fared incredibly well.
Mormonism also makes a number of historical claims. Like the claims of the Old and New Testaments, the Mormon scriptures can be checked against the historical and archaeological records. The Book of Mormon and other Mormon scriptures have not fared well at all. The dearth of evidence has made things increasingly difficult for Mormon apologists.
Scholars within the Mormon community have recognized the difficulties presented by the archaeological record. Michael Coe, professor emeritus at Yale University and one of America’s foremost experts on the Mayan civilization, says, “What has gone wrong, therefore, with Mormon archaeology?… Mormon intellectuals, it seems to me, have taken three ways to extract themselves from the dilemma,” noting, “The third way out of the dilemma is apostasy. I will not dwell further on this painful subject, but merely point out that many unusually gifted scholars whom I count as friends have taken exactly this route” (Coe 1973, pp. 46-47). Scholars such as William Ramsay and William Foxwell Albright began as skeptics of the Bible and later became convinced by the evidence that the Bible was true. It would appear that the opposite is the case for many scholars who have difficulty reconciling the claims of the Mormon scriptures with the paucity of evidence in the archaeological record.
Of all the sacred texts of the Mormon church, one of the most fascinating is the Book of Abraham, a five-chapter book that purportedly records the travels of Abraham in Egypt. According to Joseph Smith’s introductory comments in the translation, Abraham wrote the book himself, “by his own hand, upon papyrus” (Smith, 1842, [9]3:704). The book tells a story of Abraham’s capture and near-sacrifice by an evil Egyptian priest. It also portrays the patriarch as lecturing the pharaoh in astronomy.
In the 1800s, ancient papyrus documents emerged that were quickly purchased by the budding Mormon church. Smith, eagerly seeking historical evidence, claimed these documents were part of the Book of Abraham, which would in time become canonized as part of the Mormon scriptures. These documents were later lost, only to resurface in the 1900s to be examined by scholars.
Egyptologists who have examined these papyrus fragments understand them to be parts of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a tome of spells to aid the deceased in the afterlife. This corpus of material began as the Pyramid Texts, which were inscribed inside the pyramids themselves. As pharaohs abandoned pyramid building in favor of tombs, Egyptians inscribed these texts on coffins, which were then called the Coffin Texts. Finally, this material was written on scrolls, later known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. This work was illustrated by scribes in the ancient world, and three such illustrations (known as Facsimiles 1, 2, and 3) were found among the papyrus documents Smith purchased.
Facsimile 1 supposedly depicts the scene of Abraham nearly being sacrificed by the Egyptian priest Elkenah. Since Joseph Smith knew virtually nothing about Egyptian religion, he misidentified everything in the scene. Following is the list of Smith’s proposed identifications, as well as their true identification (The facsimiles and the suggested identifications may also be found on the LDS Web site: http://lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-1?lang=eng).
  1. “The Angel of the Lord.” This winged figure is not an angel but the ba, or the soul of the deceased. It was depicted in Egyptian art as a bird-like figure with a human head that hovered near the body of its owner. Angels in the Bible are heavenly beings (the Hebrew term mal’ach means “messenger”), not disembodied human souls. The original papyrus is fragmentary, and the original head of the bird is missing. It was restored (presumably by Smith himself) as the head of a bird, but almost certainly had the head of a human originally.
  2. “Abraham fastened upon the altar.” The figure identified as Abraham is really the body of the deceased who is being mummified. This is a common scene in Egyptian art.
  3. “The idolatrous priest Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice.” What the picture does not reveal is that in the original papyrus document, the head of the standing figure is missing, as is the hand of the arm that is extended over the body. These were drawn in at a later date. In the original document, it is absolutely certain that the head of the standing figure was that of a jackal, which would belong to Anubis, the god of mummification. The knife in the hand was also added. In pictures like this from Egypt, the hand is empty. Someone supplied the knife in the drawing, which was not there originally.
  4. “The altar for sacrifice by the idolatrous priests, standing before the gods Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and Pharaoh.” The “altar” is a structure known as a funerary couch or funerary bed. It was essentially an embalming table. The deceased is often depicted as resting on this structure during the mummification process. In other ancient illustrations the god Osiris is seen lying on the couch.
  5. “The idolatrous god of Elkenah.” The items in the picture numbered 5-8 are improperly identified. There are no known gods with the names Smith ascribes. In the Book of Abraham, Smith plainly states that this illustration was included to educate the reader about the Egyptian gods: “That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning” (Book of Abraham, 1:14). Unfortunately, many Mormon believers may be completely unaware that this is pure invention. These are not idols of gods, but rather funerary items known as canopic jars (some might object here, saying that Smith’s identification is accurate, since the jars depict Egyptian gods. The problem is that the word “god” in Scripture, unless it refers to the God of the Bible, is often synonymous with “idol.”). These jars, often made of alabaster, held specific internal organs that had been removed from the body of the deceased during the mummification process. The heads on the tops of the jars each represent one of the four sons of Horus. All four of the names Smith assigns are incorrect. No one with any familiarity with either Egyptian or Hebrew would have used these names—because they belong to neither language. The figure depicted on the first jar is the god Qebehsenuef. This jar contained the intestines of the deceased.
  6. “The idolatrous god of Libnah.” This jar is topped with the head of a jackal, representing the god Duamutef. It contained the stomach.
  7. “The idolatrous god of Mahkackrah.” This jar is topped with the head of a baboon, representing the god Hapi. It contained the lungs.
  8. “The idolatrous god of Korash.” This is the human-headed jar, representing Imseti. This jar contained the liver.
  9. “The idolatrous god of Pharaoh.” This figure is more difficult to identify, but it may represent the crocodile god Sobek. Defenders argue this point tenaciously, since no name is given other than “idolatrous god” and its ambiguity allows considerable room for defense by Mormon apologists. But the very fact that the identification is so vague suggests that it, like everything else in the scene, is guesswork on Smith’s part (remember that the canopic jars are also misidentified as “idolatrous gods”). There is still a problem with this identification, however. The term pharaoh was not used to refer to the king of Egypt until the Eighteenth Dynasty (Hoffmeier, 1996, p. 87)—roughly 1500 B.C.—a detail Smith could not have known. The patriarchal narratives in Genesis call the king of Egypt pharaoh because by the time Moses put these stories in writing, this was a common term used to refer to the king (although Hoffmeier also notes that the king’s name may be missing because it was common Egyptian practice not to name one’s enemies). If Abraham had written the papyrus with “his own hand” as Smith stated, the patriarch would have used the name of the king rather than the term “Pharaoh.”
  10. “Abraham in Egypt.” Again, this is the body of the deceased person being mummified, not the captive patriarch. The fact that the figure appears to be clean-shaven is particularly difficult for Mormon apologists. Egyptian men shaved their heads and facial hair, while Semitic peoples did not (cf. Genesis 41:14). Egyptian art, such as that in the Beni Hasan tomb painting (17th century B.C.), shows Semitic people like Abraham with beards and full heads of hair (the beard with which the pharaohs were depicted was a false one—a close examination of both paintings and sculpture will show the strap along the jaw line designed to hold the beard in place). Shaving the beard was a sign of extreme shame (2 Samuel 10:4) or mourning (cf. Isaiah 7:20) for the Israelites.
  11. “Designed to represent the pillars of heaven, as understood by the Egyptians.” Many ancient cultures believed that heaven was supported by pillars. The design in Facsimile 1 seems to be nothing more than artistic ornamentation. The name Smith assigns to these “pillars” is neither Hebrew nor Egyptian. It is another instance of invention on his part. The Egyptian concept of heaven, which they called Aaru (“the field of reeds”), was of reed fields much like those in the Nile delta. Of course, Smith could not have known this, and simply based his guess on what was familiar to him.
  12. “Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament over our heads; but in this case, in relation to this subject, the Egyptians meant it to signify Shaumau, to be high, or the heavens, answering to the Hebrew word, Shaumahyeem.” Smith says that the “expanse” is analogous to the Hebrew “Shaumahyeem,” which is a badly garbled spelling of the Hebrew word shamayim, meaning “heavens.” Raukeeyang and shaumau are not Egyptian words. Smith’s designations do little more than expose his lack of familiarity with the textual evidence, both biblical and Egyptian.
Egyptologists have disputed Smith’s identifications for a century. In 1912, an Episcopal bishop named Franklin S. Spalding sent copies of the three facsimiles to some of the world’s leading Egyptologists. Spalding published the results of his inquiry in the book, Joseph Smith, Jr., As a Translator. The scholars of whom Spalding inquired agreed that the facsimiles belonged to funerary documents. The famed Sir William Flinders Petrie said, “It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations.… None but the ignorant could possibly be imposed on by such ludicrous blunders” (as quoted in Spalding, p. 24). Archibald Sayce of Oxford said, “It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud” (as quoted in Spalding, p. 23). Arthur Mace of the Department of Egyptian Art of the Metropolitan Museum of New York stated:
The “Book of Abraham,” it is hardly necessary to say, is a pure fabrication.… Joseph Smith’s interpretation of these cuts is a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end. Egyptian characters can now be read almost as easily as Greek, and five minutes’ study in an Egyptian gallery of any museum should be enough to convince any educated man of the clumsiness of the imposture” (as quoted in Spalding, p. 27).
The New York Times even carried a story in the Sunday edition of December 29, 1912, with a headline stating, “Museum Walls Proclaim Fraud of Mormon Prophet” (“Museum Walls…”).
Mormons passionately believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. They also vigorously defend the texts considered sacred by the Mormon church. But as a historical faith—one that makes claims that may be checked against the ancient evidence—the Mormon scriptures fail to pass basic tests of historical accuracy. This is not surprising, as the evidence clearly implicates Smith as a gifted, though error-prone, storyteller. The Old and New Testaments have been supported and verified by archaeological evidence. Mormon scriptures have been contradicted by it. With all passionate sincerity, we would invite our Mormon friends to investigate the evidence and see for themselves whether the Mormon scriptures pass the test. From all the evidence that has emerged so far, the Bible passes with flying colors. The same cannot be said for the Book of Mormon or its companion, the Book of Abraham. [NOTE: For more discussion on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, see “Is the Book of Mormon From God”? http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2787&topic=80.]


Coe, Michael D. (1973), “Mormons and Archaeology: An Outside View,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer, pp. 40-48.
Hoffmeier, James K. (1996), Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press).
Smith, Joseph Jr. (1842), “Truth Will Prevail,” Times and Seasons, [9]3, March 1.
Spalding, Franklin Spencer (1912), Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator (New York: Protestant Episcopal Church National Council).
“Museum Walls Proclaim Fraud of Mormon Prophet” (1912), New York Times, 29:1-2, December.
“Facsimile I” (no date), http://lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-1?lang=eng.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Worship of Jesus by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Worship of Jesus

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Jesus is not God,” and thus should not be worshiped by Christians. The Watchtower, a magazine published twice a month by Jehovah’s Witnesses, has repeatedly made such claims through the years. In their September 15, 2005 issue, for example, they stated quite simply that the Scriptures “show that Jesus is not God Almighty.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official Web site (jw.org), which republishes many items from The Watchtower, briefly answers the question “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe in Jesus?,” concluding, “we do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God” (2015). After all, allegedly “in his prehuman existence, Jesus was a created spirit being…. Jesus had a beginning and could never be coequal with God in power or eternity” (“What Does the Bible…?,” 2000, emp. added). The October 15, 2004 issue of The Watchtower concluded a section about Jesus not being the true God with these words: “Jehovah, and no one else, is ‘the true God and life everlasting.’ He alone is worthy to receive exclusive worship from those whom he created.—Revelation 4:11” (p. 31). Since God alone is worthy of worship, and since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is only an angel and not God (see “The Truth About Angels,” 1995), He allegedly should not be worshiped.

God alone is worthy of worship

There is no argument over the fact that God alone is worthy of worship. Jehovah revealed His will to Moses on Mt. Sinai, saying, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3-5). Regarding the Gentiles who were sent to live in Samaria after the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Bible says:
To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the Lord, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the Lord had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel, with whom the Lord had made a covenant and charged them, saying: “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them; but the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice” (2 Kings 17:34-36, emp. added).
The Bible reveals time and again that God alone is to be worshiped. Luke recorded that King Herod was eaten with worms because, instead of glorifying God Almighty, he allowed the people to glorify him as a god (Acts 12:21-23). Herod’s arrogant spirit stands in direct contrast to the reaction that Paul and Barnabas had when the citizens of Lystra attempted to worship them (Acts 14:8-18). After Paul healed a man who had been crippled from his birth, the people of Lystra shouted: “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.” They even called Paul and Barnabas by the names of their gods (Hermes and Zeus), and sought to worship them with sacrifice. Had these two preachers had the same arrogant spirit as Herod, they would have accepted worship, and felt as if they deserved such honor. Instead, these Christian men “tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, ‘Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you’” (Acts 14:15). Paul recognized that it is unlawful for humans to worship other humans, and thus sought to turn the people’s attention toward God, and away from himself.
The Bible also reveals that man must refrain from worshiping angels. When the apostle John fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who had revealed to him the message of Revelation, the angel responded, saying, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9, emp. added; cf. 19:10). Angels, idols, and humans are all unworthy of the reverent worship that is due only to God. As Jesus reminded Satan: “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10, emp. added).

Jesus Accepted Worship

The dilemma in which Jehovah’s Witnesses find themselves is that they believe Jesus was a good man and prophet, yet unlike good men and good angels who have always rejected worship from humanity, Jesus accepted worship. If worship is to be reserved only for God, and Jesus, the One “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22), accepted worship, then the logical conclusion is that Jesus believed that He was deity. Numerous times the Bible mentions that Jesus accepted worship from mankind. Matthew 14:33 indicates that those who saw Jesus walk on water “worshiped Him.” John 9:38 reveals that the blind man whom Jesus had healed, later confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God and “worshiped him.” After Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the empty tomb of Jesus, and the risen Christ appeared to them, “they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:9). When Thomas first witnessed the resurrected Christ, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Later, when Jesus appeared to the apostles in Galilee, “they worshiped Him” on a mountain (Matthew 28:17). A few days after that, his disciples “worshiped Him” in Bethany (Luke 24:52). Time and time again Jesus accepted the kind of praise from men that is due only to God. He never sought to correct His followers and redirect the worship away from Himself as did the angel in Revelation or the apostle Paul in Acts 14. Nor did God strike Jesus with deadly worms for not redirecting the praise He received from men as He did Herod, who, when being hailed as a god, “did not give praise to God” (Acts 12:23).
Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses have attempted to circumvent the obvious references to Jesus accepting worship by changing the word “worship” in their New World Translation to “obeisance” every time the Greek word proskuneo (the most prominent word for worship in the New Testament) is used in reference to Jesus. Over 30 times in the New World Translation (first published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1950) proskuneo is correctly translated “worship” when God the Father is the recipient of glory and praise. This Greek word occurs 14 times in the New Testament in reference to Jesus, yet not once do more recent editions of the New World Translationrender it “worship;” instead, every time it is translated “obeisance.” Allegedly, Mary Magdalene, the apostles, the blind man whom Jesus healed, etc., never worshiped Jesus; rather, they only paid “obeisance” to Him.
In 21st-century English, people generally make a distinction between the verbs “worship” and “do obeisance.” Most individuals, especially monotheists, use the word worship in a positive sense when talking about God, whereas “obeisance” is used more often in reference to the general respect given to people held in high regard. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines “obeisance” as “1. A gesture or movement of the body, such as a curtsy, that expresses deference or homage. 2. An attitude of deference or homage,” whereas the verb “worship” is defined as “1. To honor and love as a deity. 2. To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion” (2000, emp. added). The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society agrees with the distinction often made between these words in modern English: God should be “worshiped,” while Jesus (we are told) should only receive “obeisance” (i.e., the respect and submission one pays to important dignitaries and superiors).
The Greek word proskuneo, which appears in the New Testament 60 times, literally means “to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence” (Thayer, 1962, p. 548; see also Mounce, 1993, p. 398). According to Greek scholars Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, this word was used in ancient times “to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or something holy” (1979, p. 723). Admittedly, the word “obeisance” could be used on occasions to translate proskuneo. The problem is that Jehovah’s Witnesses make an arbitrary distinction between obeisance and worship when it comes to the token of reverence that Jesus in particular was given. They translate proskuneo as “obeisance” every time Jesus is the object, yet never when God the Father is the recipient of honor and praise.
As with other words in the Bible that have multiple meanings, the context can help determine the writer’s intended meaning. Consider the circumstances surrounding some of the occasions when Jesus is mentioned as the object of man’s devotion.
  • In John chapter nine, Jesus miraculously healed a man who was “blind from his birth” (vs. 1). When the man upon whom this miracle was performed appeared before various Jews in the synagogue and called Jesus a prophet (vs. 17), he was instructed to “give glory to God,” not Jesus, because allegedly Jesus “is a sinner” (vs. 24). Later, after the man born blind was cast out of the synagogue, Jesus informed him of His true identity—that He was not just a prophet, but also “the Son of God.” At that moment, the gentleman exclaimed, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him (vs. 38). Although the Greek word proskuneo was used in ancient times of paying respect or doing obeisance to people, no such translation is warranted in this passage. In the Gospel of John, this word is found 11 times. In every instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation renders it “worship,” except here in John 9:38 where it is arbitrarily translated “obeisance.”
  • Following a day in which Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men (not including women and children) with only five loaves of bread and two fish, Matthew recorded how Jesus literally walked on the water in the midst of the Sea of Galilee during a violent storm, saved Peter from drowning, and then walked onto a boat where He was met with those who “worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:33). Jesus’ worshipers did not merely pay Him the same respect (or “obeisance”) that one pays a respected ruler, teacher, or master—people incapable of such feats. On the contrary, they recognized that Jesus had overcome the laws of nature, and that His actions warranted praise and adoration—not as a man, but as the “Son of God.” If Jesus was not worthy of such praise, why did He accept it? If Jesus was not to be adored, why did the angel of the Lord not strike Him with the same deadly worms with which he struck Herod (Acts 12:23)?
  • After defeating death and rising from the grave, a sign which declared Him to be “the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4), Jesus accepted worship (proskuneo) from Mary Magdalene and the other women who went to visit the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:8-9), as well as all of the apostles (Matthew 28:17). Jesus was not the only one ever to be resurrected from the dead, but He was the only resurrected individual the Bible mentions as afterwards receiving praise and adoration (i.e., worship) from man. The widow’s son of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:22), the son of a Shunammite (2 Kings 4:32-35), the daughter of Jairus (Mark 8:21-24,35-43), the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-16), Lazarus (John 11:1-45), Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43), and Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12) all were raised from the dead, but none received proskuneo. The Bible never reveals any resurrected person other than Jesus who ever received and accepted worship. Jesus’ followers recognized that His resurrection was different. It verified His claims of divinity.
  • The disciples worshiped Jesus again at His ascension. After recording that Jesus was “carried up into heaven,” Luke wrote: “[T]hey worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the Temple praising and blessing God” (Luke 24:52). Notice that the word “worshiped” (proskuneo) is used in this passage along with such words as “praising” and “blessing”—words that carry a religious connotation in connection with God. This fact highlights that the use of proskuneo in this context is not merely obeisance. Also, notice that the disciples offered worship to an “absent” Savior. It would make no sense to pay obeisance to a respected individual that has departed, but makes perfect sense if, rather, the individual is God and worthy of worship. The disciples did not just bow before some earthly ruler; they worshiped their Lord Who had defeated death 40 days earlier, and had just ascended up into heaven before their eyes.
Jesus did not receive proskuneo on these occasions because He was a great teacher, or because He was viewed at these moments simply as an earthly king. Rather, all of these instances of worship were surrounded by miraculous events that were done to prove He was Heaven sent, and that “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). There is every reason to believe that on such occasions as these, Jesus’ disciples meant to pay divine, religious honor to Him, not mere civil respect or regard that earthly rulers often receive.

Waffling on the Worship of Jesus

To the church at Philippi the apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him [Jesus] and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11, emp. added). The reference to the bowing of the knee is an obvious allusion to worship (cf. Isaiah 45:23; Romans 1:4). Such worship, Paul wrote, would not only come from those on Earth, but also from “those in heaven” (Philippians 2:10). This statement harmonizes well with Hebrews 1:6. In a section in which the writer of Hebrews exalted Jesus above the heavenly hosts, he affirmed that even the angels worship Christ. He wrote: “Let all the angels of God worship (proskuneo) Him.” The KJV, ASV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, RSVand a host of other translations render proskuneo in this verse as “worship.” How does the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translationrender this passage? Unfortunately, as with all other times in the NWT when Jesus is mentioned as being the object ofproskuneo, the word is translated “do obeisance,” not “worship.” Hebrews 1:6 reads: “Let all God’s angels do obeisance to him” (NWT).
Interestingly, however, the NWT has not always rendered proskuneo in Hebrews 1:6 as “do obeisance.” When Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible and Tract Society first printed the NWT in 1950, the verse actually rendered proskuneo as “worship” instead of “do obeisance.” Even the revised 1961 edition of the NWT translated proskuneo as “worship.” But, by 1971, Jehovah’s Witnesses had changed Hebrews 1:6 to read: “Let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.”
The fact is, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has been very inconsistent in their teachings on whether or not Jesus should be worshiped. In the past few decades Jehovah’s Witnesses’ flagship magazine (November 1964, p. 671) has claimed that “it is unscriptural for worshipers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ” (as quoted in Rhodes, 2001, p. 26; see also The Watchtower 2004, pp. 30-31). But, “from the beginning it was not so.” Notice what Jehovah’s Witnesses used to teach in The Watchtower (called Zion’s Watch Tower in the early days) regarding whether or not Jesus should be worshiped:
  • “The wise men came at His birth to worship Him. (Matt. 2) The leper worshiped Him. They in the ship worshiped Him, as did also the ruler and woman of Canaan. Yet none were ever rebuked for it…. [T]o worship Christ in any form cannot be wrong” (Allen, 1880, emp. added).
  • “[A]lthough we are nowhere instructed to make petitions to him, it evidently could not be improper to do so; for such a course is nowhere prohibited, and the disciples worshiped him” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1892, emp. added).
  • “Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1898).
  • “[W]hosoever should worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah’s Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus…” (The Watchtower, 1945, p. 313).
For more than half a century, Jehovah’s Witnesses taught that it was acceptable to worship Jesus. Now, however, they claim it is unscriptural. Such inconsistency regarding the nature of Christ, which is no small matter, reveals to the honest truth seeker that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is an advocate of serious biblical error.
Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses not only reject the worship of Jesus because of their belief that He is not deity, they also must deny Him such religious devotion because they teach He actually is an angel. The Watchtower has taught such a notion for several years. The November 1, 1995 issue indicated, “The foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael” (“The Truth About Angels”). More recently, an article appeared on the Jehovah’s Witnesses official Web site affirming “the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth…. [I]t is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role” (“Who Is Michael…?,” 2015). Since, according to Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9, good angels do not accept worship, but rather preach the worship of God, and no other, Jehovah’s Witnesses must reject paying religious praise and devotion to Jesus. But, notice (again) how inconsistent Jehovah’s Witnesses have been. In only the fifth issue ofZion’s Watch Tower magazine (originally edited by Charles Taze Russell, the founderof The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), regular contributing writer J.H. Paton stated about Jesus: “Hence it is said, ‘let all the angels of God worship him’: (that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God)…” (1879, p. 4, emp. added). Thus, at one time Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official publication taught that Jesus is not Michael the archangel, and that Heshould be worshiped. In the 21st century, however, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is Michael the archangel, and that He should not be worshiped. Clear contradictory statements like these found throughout the years in The Watchtower should compel current and potential members of this religious group to question their teachings in light ofthe Truth found in God’s Word.

“Worthy is the Lamb”

One additional passage to consider regarding the worship of Jesus is Revelation chapters four and five. In chapter four, the scene in this book of signs (cf. 1:1) is the throne room of God. The “Lord God Almighty” is described as sitting on His throne while “the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him” (4:9). Also, “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created’” (4:10-11). In chapter five, the Lamb that was slain is introduced as standing “in the midst of the throne” (5:6). No one argues the fact that this Lamb is Jesus—the One Whom John the Baptizer twice called “The Lamb of God” (John 1:29,36), and Whom Peter called the “lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). Regarding this Lamb, the apostle John recorded the following in Revelation 5:11-14:
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever (emp. added).
In this chapter, John revealed that both God the Father and Jesus are worthy to receive worship from all of creation. In fact, Jesus is given the same praise and adoration that the Father is given. Just as God is “worthy…to receive glory and honor and power” (4:11), so Jesus is “worthy…to receive power…and honor and glory…” (5:12).  Indeed, “[b]lessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever” (5:13, emp. added). Although Jehovah’s Witnesses use Revelation 4:11 as a proof text for worshiping God the Father (see “What Does God…?,” 1996, p. 4), they reject and call unscriptural the worship that Jesus rightly deserves.


Jesus once stated during His earthly ministry, “[A]ll should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23). Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to honor Jesus in the same way they honor God the Father. While on Earth, Jesus was honored on several occasions. His followers worshiped Him. They even worshiped Him after His ascension into heaven (Luke 24:52). Unlike good men and angels in Bible times who rejected worship, Jesus unhesitatingly received glory, honor, and praise from His creation. Truly, such worship is one of the powerful proofs of the deity of Christ.


Allen, L.A. (1880), “A Living Christ,” Zion’s Watch Tower, March,https://archive.org/stream/1880ZionsWatchTower/1880_Watch_Tower_djvu.txt.
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
“Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe in Jesus?” (2015), http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/believe-in-jesus/.
Mounce, William D. (1993),Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Paton, J.H. (1879), “The Name of Jesus,”Zion’s Watch Tower, November,https://archive.org/stream/1879ZionsWatchTower/1879_Watch_Tower_djvu.txt.
Rhodes, Ron (2001), The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers).
Thayer, Joseph (1962 reprint), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
“The Truth About Angels” (1995), The Watchtower, November 1.
The Watchtower, 1945, October 15.
The Watchtower, 2004, October 15.
The Watchtower, 2005, September 15.
“What Does God Require of Us?” (1996), Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York.
“What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?” (2000), Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
“Who Is Michael the Archangel?” (2015), http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/bible-teach/who-is-michael-the-archangel-jesus/.
Zion’s Watch Tower, 1892, May 15, https://archive.org/stream/1898ZionsWatchTower/1898_Watch_Tower_djvu.txt.
Zion’s Watch Tower, 1898, July 15, https://archive.org/stream/1892ZionsWatchTower/1892_Watch_Tower_djvu.txt.

Controversial Collagen Confirmation Points to Creation by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Controversial Collagen Confirmation Points to Creation

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Imagine watching an interview on television and hearing a blind, deaf, wrinkled, hunched-back, bedridden man claim that he was 130 years old. Although many would likely be skeptical of such a declaration, if ever there was a man in modern times to live 130 years on Earth, he surely would have looked as worn out as this man. Imagine, however, if a quick-witted, strong, marathon runner with fair skin, thick, dark hair, low blood pressure, high bone mineral density, good memory, etc., claimed to be 130 years old. What reasonable individual would believe such a claim? Virtually everyone would doubt the declaration, especially the doctors, who had found the man’s overall health to be comparable to that of a 20-year-old.
Now take a step into the world of evolutionary science. According to evolution’s assumption-based geologic timetable, since dinosaurs supposedly became extinct 65 million years ago, any dinosaur fossil found in the ground must be at least 65 million years old. But what if the fossils don’t “appear” to be that old? What if, when inspected by scientists, various dinosaur bones around the world were discovered with “highly fibrous,” “flexible,” and “resilient” bone tissue that “when stretched, returns to its original shape” (Schweitzer, et al., 2005, 307:1952,1953; Schweitzer, et al., 2007, 316:277)? What if proteins such as collagen were found, along with “haemoglobin, elastin and laminin, as well as cell-like structures resembling blood and bone cells” (Hecht, 2009)? Would evolutionists come to a similar conclusion as most everyone would about a marathon-running, 130-year-old? Apparently not.
In the last few years, scientists have reported unearthing a variety of dinosaur bones from around the world that contain intact protein fragments (see Lyons, 2007), including collagen, hemoglobin, elastin, and laminin. Amazingly, once the minerals are chemically stripped away from the apparent soft tissue, the researchers were even able to squeeze round, dark-red-to-deep-brown microscopic structures from the presumed dinosaur blood vessels (Perkins, 2005, 167[13]:195). However, since, according to evolutionist and Science writer Robert Service, “proteins in tissue normally degrade quickly after an animal dies,” the research by Dr. Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues has remained “controversial” and “contentious” (Service, 2009, 324[5927]:578; cf. Schweitzer, et al., 2005; Schweitzer, et al., 2007).
Since Schweitzer published her findings in 2005 and 2007 about “68-million-year-old” T. rex soft tissue, a much more thorough study has been done on an “80-million-year-old fossil from a duck-billed dinosaur” (Service, 2009, p. 578). What did researchers find? This time “Schweitzer and colleagues report finding an even larger number of protein fragments” (p. 578, emp. added). After using “chemicals to dissolve away the minerals,” scientists have seen what appears to be “a network of soft, transparent vessels, cells, and extracellular matrix” (p. 578). Biochemist Raghu Kalluri of Harvard Medical School independently confirmed the presence of “collagen, as well as laminin and elastin, two proteins found in blood vessels” (p. 578).
Any strong, marathon-running, dark-haired, fair-skinned, wrinkle-free, 20-year-old-looking, modern man who claims to be 130 years old would be discredited immediately. Science and common sense would demand that the 130-year date be rejected. But what about the dates evolutionists give us for these “young looking” dinosaur bones—bones with “miraculously preserved soft tissue” (Gebel, 2007)? Now that the once “controversial” and “contentious” dinosaur collagen has been confirmed, are evolutionists reconsidering the age of dinosaur fossils? Are evolutionists considering the possibility that dinosaurs may have lived hundreds or thousands of years ago rather than 65+ million years ago? Apparently not—at least not in their writings. Evolutionists are eerily silent about this blatant contradiction: how can dinosaur fossils reportedly 80 million years (or 29 billion 200 million days) old contain “collagen...haemoglobin, elastin, and laminin, as well as cell-like structures resembling blood and bone cells” (Hecht, 2009)? The problem is not with the dinosaur bones: repeated studies over the last four years have verified the presence of collagen. The problem is with the assumption-based evolutionary dating methods (see DeYoung, 2005). Hello! The bones are not 80 million years old!
[NOTE: For an outstanding treatment of the evidence that proves the co-existence of dinosaurs and humans, see The Dinosaur Delusion: Dismantling Evolution's Most Cherished Icon available from Apologetics Press.]


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Gebel, Erika (2007), “T. Rex May Be Close Relation to the Chicken,” Charleston Daily Mail, April 16, [On-line], URL: http://www.dailymail.com/story/Life/2007041620/T-Rex-may-be-close- relation-to-the-chicken/.
Hecht, Jeff (2009), “First Dino ‘Blood’ Extracted from Ancient Bone,” New Scientist, [On-line], URL: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17060-first-dino-blood-extracted-from-ancient-bone.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news.
Lyons, Eric (2007), “More Soft Dinosaur Tissue,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3518.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2008), The Dinosaur Delusion: Dismantling Evolution’s Most Cherished Icon (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Perkins, Sid (2005), “Old Softy: Tyrannosaurus Fossil Yields Flexible Tissue,” Science News, 167[13]:195, March 26, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20050326/fob1.asp.
Service, Robert F. (2009), “‘Protein’ in 80-Million-Year-Old Fossil Bolsters Controversial T. rex Claim” Science, 324[5927]:578, May 1.
Schweitzer, Mary H., Jennifer L. Wittmeyer, John R. Horner, and Jan K. Toporski (2005), “Soft-Tissue Vessels and Cellular Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex,” Science, 307:1952-1955, March 25.
Schweitzer, Mary, et al. (2007), “Analyses of Soft Tissue from Tyrannosaurus rex Suggest the Presence of Protein,” Science, 316:277-285, April 13.