"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" Inheriting The Kingdom Of God (5:21) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

                  Inheriting The Kingdom Of God (5:21)


1. In listing the works of the flesh, Paul concludes with an ominous
   a. One that he had told them about in the past
   b. That those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom
      of God - Ga 5:21

2. The kingdom of God was an important theme in Paul's ministry...
   a. He preached the kingdom of God among the Ephesians - Ac 20:25
   b. He did so for two years while in Rome - Ac 28:23,30-31

3. In our text (Ga 5:21), Paul refers to 'inheriting' the kingdom of
   a. What is this kingdom of God?
   b. Is it something that exists now?  Is it in the future?
   c. How can one 'inherit' the kingdom of God?

[In answer to such questions, let's first talk about...]


      1. Note what is said about those in the church
         a. They were being called into the kingdom - 1Th 2:12
         b. They had been translated (conveyed) into the kingdom - Co
         c. They were receiving the kingdom - He 12:28
         d. They were companions in the kingdom - Re 1:9
      2. The church is that community of souls in whose hearts Christ is
         recognized as sovereign
         a. They have confessed Christ as Lord 
            - cf. Ro 10:9-10; 1 Pe 3:15
         b. They freely submit to the Lord in the day of His power - cf.
            Ps 110:1-3
      3. Thus the terms 'church' and 'kingdom' are often used
         a. As when Jesus spoke to Peter - Mt 16:18
         b. The comments made to Christians in the church - Col 1:13;
            1Th 2:12
         c. The description of those in the seven churches of Asia 
            - Re 1:4,6,9
      4. The kingdom of God (i.e., the reign of Christ) reaches beyond
         those in the church (cf. Ps 110), but it benefits those in the
         church - cf. Ep 1:22-23
      -- In one sense, the kingdom of God is clearly present

      1. As spoken of by Jesus
         a. In the parable of the tares - Mt 13:40-43
         b. In describing the judgment - Mt 25:34
      2. As referred to by Paul
         a. Exhorting Christians to be steadfast and holy - Ac 14:22;
            1Co 6:9-10; Ga 5:19-21
         b. Expounding on the hope of the resurrection - 1Co 15:22-26;
         c. Expressing his own expectation for the future - 2Ti 4:18
      3. As promised by Peter
         a. With a call to diligence to make our calling and election
            sure - 2Pe 1:10
         b. To receive an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom
            - 2Pe 1:11
      -- In another sense, the kingdom of God is still in the future

      1. In the present sense...
         a. It is found wherever the sovereignty of Jesus is accepted
            - Mt 28:18-20
         b. It is a spiritual kingdom, for Jesus rules in the hearts of
            men - Lk 17:20-21
         c. Its outward manifestation today is the Lord's church 
            - Mt 16:18-19
         d. This rule or kingdom was inaugurated on at Pentecost - cf.
            Ac 2:36
      2. In the future sense...
         a. The rule or kingdom will be culminated with the coming of
            the Lord - 1Co 15:22-26
         b. It will be a heavenly and everlasting kingdom - 2Ti 4:18;
            2Pe 1:11
         c. Enjoyed only by those submitting to God's will today! - cf.
            Mt 7:21-23
         d. In which they shall reign with God and Christ forever! 
            - Re 22:1-5
      -- The kingdom of God relates to the rule of God in the person of
         Jesus Christ, with manifestations and blessings of this rule
         both present and in the future

[In our text (Ga 5:21), Paul evidently has the future blessings of the
kingdom in mind.  He is concerned that the Galatians will indeed inherit
the kingdom.  Do you have a similar concern?  If so, consider...]


      1. Otherwise we cannot see the kingdom of God - Jn 3:3
      2. We must be born of water and Spirit - Jn 3:5; cf. Tit 3:5
      -- A reference to baptism, in which one is born of both water and
         the Spirit - cf. Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:36-38

      1. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God - 1Co 6:
      2. Yet the unrighteous can be washed, sanctified, and justified
         - 1Co 6:11
      -- Another reference to baptism, in which our sins are washed
         away, and we are thus set apart, and declared not guilty for
         our sins - cf. Ac 22:16; Col 2:12-13; 1Pe 3:21

      1. Such as fornication, uncleanness, covetousness 
         - Ep 5:3-7; Ga 5:19-21
      2. We must put them to death, put them off, put on the new man
         - Col 3:5-8
      -- In their place we must put on Christ-like qualities - Col 3:
         9-17; Ga 5:22-23

      1. It is not enough to simply confess the Lord - Mt 7:21
      2. It is not enough to do things in the name of the Lord - Mt 7:
      -- We must have actually done the Father's will! - Mt 7:21


1. Remember that the kingdom of God is both present and future...
   a. The future manifestation and blessings will be experienced when
      Christ comes again
   b. To inherit that kingdom, we must submit to His rule in our lives
      in the present

2. Have you entered the kingdom of God in its present sense...?
   a. By being born again of water and the Spirit?
   b. By being washed, sanctified, and justified?

3. Will you inherit the kingdom of God in its future sense...?
   a. By putting aside the works of the flesh?
   b. By submitting to the Father's will in Christ?

Paul found it needful to warn his brethren time and again (Ga 5:21).
May our hearts be receptive to such warnings, and be determined to let
the will of God reign freely in our lives...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Did Shakespeare Slip His Name in Psalm 46? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Did Shakespeare Slip His Name in Psalm 46?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Amazing! Incredible! Unbelievable! William Shakespeare left his mark on the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. At least that is the rumor going around. According to a host of Websites and books, William Shakespeare was called upon to add his artistic touch to the English translation of the Bible done at the behest of King James, which was finished in 1611. As proof for this idea, proponents point to Psalm 46, and allege that Shakespeare slipped his name into the text. Here is how the story goes. Since Shakespeare was born in the year 1564, then he would have been 46 years old during 1610 when the finishing touches were being put on the KJV. In the King James Version, if you count down 46 words from the top (not counting the title) you read the word “shake,” then, if you omit the word “selah” and count 46 words from the bottom you find the word “spear.” Voilà! Shakespeare must have tinkered with the text and subtly added his signature. How else could one account for all of these 46s to work out so well? To top it all off, William Shakespeare is an anagram of “Here was I, like a psalm.”
First, it should be noted that, although Shakespeare did live at the same time the King James Version was being translated, there is no evidence that he had anything to do with the translation. The events and dates in the life of Shakespeare are fairly well known, and in all of the established facts about his life, not a single piece of paper or document puts him anywhere near the translation process of the King James Version.
Second, in order to get the “perfect” 46s out of Psalm 46, the word “selah” must be omitted from the text. Since the word “selah” seems to be used in many of the psalms as a type of musical punctuation, then the proponents of the Shakespeare rumor think that it would be acceptable not to count the word in order to obtain the desired result. However, the word is in the original text of the psalm. If Shakespeare were involved in translating Psalm 46, he mostly likely would have had the manuscripts before him that contained the word “selah,” since it is in the text. Why, then, would he have arbitrarily decided not to count the word? And, if the word “spear” had come one word later in the text, would the propagators of this rumor simply say that Shakespeare did count the word “selah.” Needless to say, you can make numbers do anything you want them to do if you conveniently omit anything that you do not want to count.
Third, Shakespeare could not have subjectively inserted the words into the text in order to get his name in, since the Hebrew words for “shake” and “spear” had been there for thousands of years prior to 1611. Also, the word “shake” is a commonly used word in the KJV (as is the word “spear”). Finding the two words together in one psalm is unremarkable.
Finally, numbers like these 46s, and coincidences of this kind, are a dime a dozen. A person can pull numerical shenanigans all day long. My wife’s name is Bethany, and at this writing, she is 26 years old. In the New King James Version in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew in verse 6, the name Bethany appears. It happens to be the sixth word from the beginning of the verse, which is the exact age my wife would have been for the majority of the year 1982, which was the year the New King James Version hit the market. That must mean that she helped translate that particular section of scripture. Or maybe it just means that numbers can be made to say just about anything.
Let’s stop trying to discover “secret” codes and names in the Bible, and let’s start reading it to see what God really is saying to us. When we do, we will not find secret codes and mysterious names, but instead, we will see God’s straightforward plan for righteous living.
[For additional reading on this topic, see: http://www.kjvonly.org/aisi/2002/aisi_5_2_02.htm]

God Cannot Lie by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


God Cannot Lie

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Can God be limited? Many Bible passages proclaim that God is all-powerful, all-seeing, and all-knowing. While God is unlimited by time, space, or force, His very character has determined that He will never do some things, because to do them would be inconsistent with His principles—viz., God’s nature prevents Him from such things. For example, God cannot lie. Observe what the Bible has to say about God’s honesty and, therefore, His reliability.
Numbers 23:19: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
1 Samuel 15:29: “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.”
Psalm 92:15: “To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord, I do not change.”
Romans 3:4: “Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.”
Titus 1:2: “[I]n hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”
Hebrews 6:18: “[I]t is impossible for God to lie.”
James 1:17-18: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
God is the only being Who is incapable of lying. Everything that God said would happen before now, has happened—just as He said it would. Since God knows all things past, present, and future (and since He is completely honest), it is impossible for Him to speak untruths (see Colley, 2004). One striking characteristic of the Bible is that it contains a large collection of statements attributed to God. Some of these statements are predictions of future occurrences, some are warnings, some are instructions, some are revelations concerning the Divine character, and some are statements of simple fact. One common thread runs through all of God’s recorded statements: they are all true. God has never “gone back” on a promise. God has never lied—He has never even made an “honest mistake.” God, in revealing His message to humans, has not held back truths that we need (2 Peter 1:3). Likewise, Jesus was completely honest, even when telling a hard truth meant putting Himself in danger (Matthew 23:28-33; 1 John 3:5).
God is not tempted to lie. No one can catch Him in a compromising position, or give Him an opportunity to make Himself appear more impressive by making up false accomplishments or attributes. He is perfect in every way, so even if His character did permit Him to lie, the potential for personal gain, which serves as many people’s motivation to lie, would not affect Him.
Paul, who stated so boldly in his letter to Titus that God cannot lie, wrote to Titus while he worked among the Cretans, who were known for their dishonesty. Furthermore, Cretans were accustomed to a pantheon, which included various gods, all with different personalities, so when Paul emphasized that God does not lie, he not only was giving Titus a practical teaching tool, but also was showing that Christianity is distinct from the polytheism that surrounded the church of Christ at Crete (see “God Cannot Lie,” 1996; “Why Crete?,” n.d.). People are more likely to serve a God upon Whom they can unquestionably depend. In fact, take away God’s trustworthiness, and He is no longer God. Philosopher René Descartes, in his fourth meditation, wrote:
To begin with, I recognize that it is impossible that God should ever deceive me. For in every case of trickery or deception some imperfection is to be found; and although the ability to deceive appears to be an indication of cleverness or power, the will to deceive is undoubtedly evidence of malice or weakness, and so cannot apply to God (1984, p. 37).
Humans often lie. God made humans in His image and likeness, but, unlike God, humans commit sin (see Lyons and Thompson, 2002a,b). On occasion, we say things that are false, not because we intend to lie, but because we lack accurate information. Sometimes, while we know the truth, we choose to relay false information to others. Often, we are not comfortable with frankly telling people what they need to know. The words of humans are frequently so undependable that we sometimes use lie detectors in attempts to determine who is telling the truth, and who is not. Apparently, some humans are so “good” at lying, that even the polygraph test has now been proven ineffective in detecting lies (Vergano, 2004).
The devil is the father of lies. Jesus said: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). The dishonesty of Satan is one of the features that makes him the complete opposite of God; God speaks the truth exclusively, while Satan speaks only lies. The angels who, at one time, chose to follow Satan, are partakers in his deceit (see Thompson, 1999). Satan does not tell lies because he wants humans to avoid the pain that truth often brings. Rather, he lies because he hopes that humans will believe falsehoods and, eventually, be damned because they reject the truth of God (1 Peter 5:8). The fact that the devil keeps “no truth in him” is one of the reasons why heaven and hell are so far separated (Matthew 25:41; Luke 16:26). God cannot associate with the impurity that dishonesty brings.


How should we respond to the truthfulness of God? We should be grateful because we serve a God Who will not go back on His word. God’s honesty means that He will fulfill His promise of eternal life for those who serve Him. Imagine a scenario in which you approach His throne on Judgment Day, having fulfilled the requirements for appropriating the redeeming blood of Christ to your soul, only to find that God has changed the rules! You no longer would be able to enter heaven, because God had not been honest with you. We should be grateful because God is not required to be forthright with us, anymore than He is required to love us enough to offer His Son as a sacrifice for sin. Nonetheless, He is all-merciful, all-caring, and fortunately, completely honest. We are assured that every word of God is a “sure word” (2 Peter 1:19), because we know God has a detailed history of making His word good.
As we strive to be godly, we must be honest with ourselves, and with others (Luke 8:15; Romans 12:17). If we practice deceit, no one will believe we are truly followers of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 8:21, we read: “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (KJV). Following this precept will earn us “high esteem” in the eyes of God and men (Proverbs 3:4).


Colley, Caleb (2004), “The Omniscience of God,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2562.
Descartes, René (1984), The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press).
“God Cannot Lie” (1996), [On-line], URL: http://www.ivmdl.org/wil.cfm?study=117.
Lyons, Eric, and Bert Thompson (2002a), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God’ [Part I],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/123.
Lyons, Eric, and Bert Thompson (2002b), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God’ [Part II],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/125.
Thompson, Bert (1999), Satan: His Origin and Mission (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Vergano, Dan (2004), “Telling the Truth About Lie Detectors, [On-line], URL: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-09-09-lie_x.htm.
“Why Crete?” (no date), World Health Organization, [On-line], URL: http://www.nsph.gr/who-harvard/whyCrete.html.

What Happened to the Body? by Brad Bromling, D.Min.


What Happened to the Body?

by Brad Bromling, D.Min.


Christianity is based in its entirety on the claim that Jesus arose from the dead. Is there any actual evidence to support such a claim?
The unexpected happened. He told them it would; He even told them how. They simply refused to believe. Thursday, Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem with His friends; Friday, He was dead. His battered, lifeless body was removed from the cross and carried away. Friday night it was there—undisturbed. All day Saturday it was there—under guard. Sunday dawned. The tomb was empty. What happened to the body?
Jesus Christ met death face-to-face, and defeated it. The tomb was empty Sunday morning because Jesus was alive. Tombs are for the dead—not the living. By His resurrection, every claim Jesus made regarding His deity was confirmed “with power” (Romans 1:4). He not only kept His word that He would be raised, but He fulfilled a thousand-year-old prophecy by David (cf. Psalm 16:1-2; Acts 2:24-36).
In an age devoid of active miracles, people often wonder if such a claim can be proved. The answer is “yes!” A compelling case for the resurrection can be made from the information contained in the Gospel records. This article will present some of that material, and will answer common alternative theories employed to explain away the resurrection.


If Jesus was raised, His tomb had to be emptied. His bodily resurrection is indefensible if He remained in the tomb even one hour of day four. If the tomb was occupied Monday, Jesus is less than divine, and there is no hope in Him as Savior. This makes the witness of the tomb all-important.
Before discussing the evidence from the tomb, however, two preliminary points call for attention. First, was Jesus placed in a tomb? The Bible is clear on this point. His interment was witnessed by at least four individuals. Joseph of Arimathea received permission from Pilate to bury Jesus (Mark 15:43-45). He and Nicodemus hurriedly prepared and entombed the Lord’s body (John 19:38). Their activities were observed by Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph (Mark 15:46-47). Then, on the next day, the chief priests and Pharisees requested of Pilate that a guard be provided for the tomb (Matthew 27:62-65). They necessarily believed Jesus’ body remained there at the time of their request. This request was granted and a guard was sent. It is inconceivable that Pilate (who was responsible for maintaining the body of Jesus) would have sealed and set watch over a tomb that he did not believe was occupied. Hence, at least four people saw Jesus’ body in the tomb on Friday. The Jews, Pilate, and the guards acknowledged its presence on Saturday.
Second, Jesus was not buried in just any tomb; it was a new tomb. This is significant when one remembers that a dead man was once miraculously revived when his body was placed into the tomb that contained Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:21). Instead, Jesus was put into a tomb “in which no one had yet been laid” (John 19:41). The Lord’s resurrection was a unique event that could not be attributed to such a factor.
With these facts established, consider how the tomb offers powerful evidence of the Lord’s resurrection. First, it was impossible for Jesus to escape from the tomb without being detected. This is seen in various ways.
  • All four of the Gospel records explicitly declare that the Lord was dead prior to entering the tomb (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:44-45; Luke 23:46; John 19:32-34).
  • The tomb was cut out of solid rock (Matthew 27:60). Tombs, like caskets, generally are not equipped with back doors!
  • The cave opening was blocked by a massive stone (Matthew 27:60).
  • The stone was affixed with a seal, and watched by soldiers (Matthew 27:66).
Obviously, it was impossible for Jesus to leave that tomb (apart from the resurrection miracle), let alone to do so without detection.
Second, the tomb did not contain the body of Jesus after the dawning of Sunday. This evidence is gleaned from those on both sides of the issue.
  • The empty tomb was seen by at least six of Jesus’ followers: Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:1-10), Mary (the mother of James) and Salome (Mark 16:1-8), Joanna (Luke 24:10), and Peter and John (John 20:2-8).
  • The empty tomb was probably seen by at least a few Roman guards (Matthew 28:2,11-15).
  • That the tomb was empty was not denied by the antagonistic Jews (they merely attempted to explain why it was empty).
  • That the tomb was empty was loudly proclaimed on the day of Pentecost in the presence of literally thousands of Jews who most certainly would have denied it if they could (Acts 2:24-36).


One of the tomb’s most impressive features was the immense stone that acted as its door. Matthew used the Greek phrase lithon megan to describe the stone (27:60). This two-word combination is the source of our modern term, “megalith” (i.e., large stone). Mark and Luke report that the four women who came to the tomb wondered who would move the stone for them (Mark 16:2-4; Luke 24:10). Mark calls the stone “very large.” How large is “very large”? While we may never know, it is safe to assume that four women could move a fairly large stone without help; yet, apparently the force needed to move this stone exceeded their combined strength (Mark 16:3). If these women didn’t move it, who did? Can we rationally conclude that it was moved by a brutally beaten, crucified, and allegedly dead man? The record indicates that an angel of the Lord was dispatched from heaven to accomplish the task (Matthew 28:2).
Someone might contend that the stone could not have been too heavy since Joseph rolled it in place by himself (Matthew 27:60). But this is only partially correct. The stones used for this purpose often were set in a sloping groove with the low point in front of the tomb’s opening. While it may have taken many men to move and scotch the stone up and away from the doorway prior to burial, one man easily could have removed the block and allowed gravity to draw the stone down the slope into its proper resting position. Also, it is possible that the stone was set in place by a number of men under the direction of Joseph. After all, when we say that Alexander conquered the world, we do not mean that he did so without the aid of an army!
Moreover, the stone was not just nudged aside to allow a single man to slip through, but it actually was moved completely away from the tomb (John 20:1). The moving of the great stone by the angel was an event of such magnitude that Matthew tells us the soldiers “shook for fear of him, and became as dead men” (28:4). It is no wonder they left their post and returned to the city to make a report to the chief priests! Adding to their fear of this supernatural sighting was the fact that the tomb they were guarding was opened and empty. Perhaps they reasoned that if the Jews knew the circumstances, they would not press charges against them for losing custody of the body.
The impressive evidence from the tomb and stone may be summarized as follows. On Friday, at least four witnesses saw Jesus’ dead body placed into a previously empty tomb. The tomb was sealed with a stone too large for four women to move. Jesus’ presence in the tomb was acknowledged by friend and enemy alike on Saturday, when the stone was affixed with a Roman seal (McDowell, 1981, p. 59). On Sunday the stone had been moved and Jesus’ body was gone!


The Jews’ primary effort to prevent the disciples of Jesus from making any resurrection claims for their Master served as one of the strongest evidences supporting those claims. Matthew recounts the incident:
The next day, after the Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together before Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that the deceiver said, I will arise after three days. Command therefore that the tomb be made secure until the third day to guard against his disciples stealing the body and saying, He has been raised from the dead. The last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate replied to them, “Take guards and go and make the tomb as secure as you can.” They departed and secured the tomb, sealing the stone, and stationing the guards (Matthew 27:62-66; McCord, 1988).
Although they did not believe Christ, the Jews realized the importance of His words. The passage implies that the Jews were obtaining a Roman guard. Some scholars contend that Pilate told the Jews to take their own temple guard for the task. This seems unlikely. In the Greek, the phrase, “Take a guard” is in the imperative. It was a “curt permission” to take guards (Robertson, 1930, 1:239). Why would the Jews approach Pilate to request a Jewish guard? If they used their own guard, they would have been open to criticisms should the body turn up missing. Why would the temple guard fear Pilate’s reaction (Matthew 28:14)? It seems more probable that the Jews wanted a Roman guard to prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing their Lord’s body.
As noted above, the guards were terrified when the angel moved the giant stone away from the tomb. They left their post and some of them returned to the city to report the incredible event. No doubt fearful of what would become of them, they went to the Jews (to plead for help?). The record continues:
When they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept. And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day (Matthew 28:12-15).
The guards were left with an empty tomb, and the Jews were faced with a dilemma. They had to deal with not just an empty tomb, but also eyewitness accounts (from neutral witnesses) of the resurrection of Jesus. What could they do? Three options were possible: they could accept the testimony and believe in the One they crucified; they could complain to Pilate about his incompetent soldiers; or, they could enact a cover-up. They were not yet willing to accept this Jesus as the Messiah. If they complained to Pilate, he might either believe or slay the soldiers. If he believed them, the Jews would be defeated. If he slew them, the Jews would be left with an inexplicably empty tomb. There was really only one option for them—a cover-up. So they bought a false report and circulated it in all directions. However, contrary to their desire, everywhere that false report traveled, so went one important fact—the tomb was empty!


Some persist in doubt. They reject the possibility of Christ’s resurrection and offer various explanations for the data.

The Swoon Theory

Some have suggested that Jesus did not actually die. He just fainted (“swooned”) and merely seemed to be dead. Thinking He was dead, His friends buried Him according to custom. After resting upon that cold stone slab, the Lord’s body naturally revived; thus revived, He moved the stone and exited the tomb (carefully avoiding being spotted by the guards). This view is utterly without foundation and collapses after even the most cursory glance at the evidence.
First, the body was acknowledged as dead by all parties involved. The Romans (who were experts at crucifixion) saw He was already dead and did not need to have His legs broken (John 19:33). Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus had died so quickly, and investigated the matter (Mark 15:44-45). The followers of Jesus knew He was dead, for they began to prepare Him for burial, and even anticipated the coming of Sunday so they could finish the job. The Jews were sure He was dead, otherwise they would not have been so concerned with keeping His disciples from stealing His body (Matthew 27:62-66).
Second, no one who has been scourged, nailed to and hung upon a cross for six hours, and has had a spear pierce his side, is going to wake up capable of rolling away a stone that four women could not move!
Third, if this theory were true, the Jews would have been more successful claiming that Jesus had only swooned than in manufacturing an excuse for the empty tomb.
Fourth, where is Jesus now? The divine record has Him appearing for only forty days after His alleged swoon—what of the rest of His life?
Fifth, can any clear-thinking person really believe that the apostles lived persecuted lives and died as martyrs for a cause they knew to be false, or that Jesus would have been so cruel as to be the cause of such (either directly or indirectly)? Everything we know of Jesus mitigates against this thought.

The Wrong Tomb Theory

Some suggest that although Jesus was actually dead and buried, His followers accidentally went to another tomb that was empty. This theory hardly deserves mention; it defies nearly every detail of the resurrection narratives and leads to the absurd conclusion that not only His friends, but His enemies, and the Roman soldiers all went to the wrong tomb. On the contrary, the Gospel records mention that the interred body was seen by at least four people. How long would it take before someone recognized the mistake? After all, Joseph of Arimathea surely knew how to locate his own tomb, and easily could have corrected this error. Finally, Paul told of more than five hundred witnesses who did not see the empty tomb, but who had seen the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:6).

Friends Stole the Body

The most common theory suggests that Jesus’ friends stole His body while the guards slept. This was the story circulating when Matthew wrote his history (Matthew 28:15). But, where is the evidence that the guards slept? How could the disciples have moved the stone and kept from waking the guards? Why would the Jews have paid the guards to say the very thing that they tried to avoid in the first place? The whole reason the Pharisees asked Pilate to grant them a guard was to keep the disciples from stealing the body!
This view implies that the disciples knowingly devoted their lives to a falsehood. But, J.P. Moreland points out, “the disciples had nothing to gain by lying and starting a new religion. They faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyrs’ deaths. In light of this, they could have never sustained such unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie” (1987, pp. 171-172).

Enemies Stole the Body

Some might aver that Jesus’ body was stolen by the Jews to keep the disciples from doing so. Hence, they took the body and hired a guard to watch an already vacant tomb. But this is ridiculous. If they stole the body, why did they not expose the disciples’ lie? Instead, they maintained the unprovable position that it was really the disciples who took the body. They never produced the body. What did they have to gain by concealing the most powerful evidence conceivable against the resurrection? Imagine how devastating it would have been for the disciples, had the Jews paraded Jesus’ rotting corpse before the many thousands on Pentecost. Such an act would have strangled the infant church in its crib.

God Stole the Body

One of the most unusual theories regarding the resurrection of Jesus was penned by Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses:
Our Lord’s human body was, however, supernaturally removed from the tomb; because had it remained there it would have been an insurmountable obstacle to the faith of the disciples, who were not yet instructed in spiritual things—for “the spirit was not yet given.” (John 7:39.) We know nothing about what became of it, except that it did not decay or corrupt. (Acts 2:27,31.) Whether it was dissolved into gases or whether it is still preserved somewhere as the grand memorial of God’s love, of Christ’s obedience, and of our redemption, no one knows (1912, 2:129).
Obvious problems with this theory are numerous. Not only does it deny the plain teachings of Scripture, but it implies that the disciples’ faith in the resurrection was based upon a falsehood. In other words, they believed the Lord was raised, and had irrefutable proof of it—when in fact He wasn’t. This makes God guilty of deliberate deception.

The Hallucination Theory

Another alternative theory is that the disciples never actually saw the Lord’s risen body—they only imagined they did. However, the biggest hindrance to this view is that many of these eyewitnesses were not easily convinced. Thomas was hardly alone in his skepticism concerning the resurrection. When the women went to the tomb on Sunday they found it empty. Their first reaction was one of bewilderment, not belief (Luke 24:4). Remember the disciples’ reaction to Mary’s incredible report? They had been with Jesus and had no doubt heard Him say many times that He would rise again, and yet Mark wrote: “And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe” (Mark 16:11). Jesus later rebuked them for this unbelief (Mark 16:14). They should have expected His resurrection, but obviously they did not. Jesus was also disappointed in the two disciples from Emmaus for failing to believe in the resurrection claims (Luke 24:25). Even at nightfall of the resurrection day the disciples were still doubting (Luke 24:38). The point is this: at first, these witnesses were unwilling to accept the fact of the resurrection.
Had they been predisposed to believe the reports of the resurrection, we might wonder if they simply believed what they wanted to about the matter. On the contrary, here were people who initially were skeptical and required evidence for belief. If they had believed all along that they would see the Lord alive again, then isolated hallucinations might have taken place among the mentally unstable disciples (if there were any). But, hallucinations do not occur in people of stable mental condition (unless artificially induced). Regardless, the empty tomb remains unexplained by this theory.


If compelled by the evidence to believe the resurrection, what is its relevance? First, the resurrection is the strongest single argument for the deity of Jesus (Romans 1:4). If He was raised from the dead as David prophesied, and as He so often promised, then He must have been deity! If He was not raised, then David spoke of another, and Jesus was a liar.
Second, the resurrection is the foundational principle upon which Christianity is built. Paul linked the reality of salvation to the fact of the resurrection; refute that fact, and Christians are a truly pathetic lot (1 Corinthians 15). Christianity is either the one true religion of the one true God, or it is a farce—the reality of the resurrection determines which.
Third, the fact of the resurrection is the greatest source of genuine hope available in this transient and confusing world. If Christ was raised, Christians will be raised (1 Corinthians 15). Since Christ was raised, He took away the power of death. His resurrection made it possible for Him to keep His promise to prepare a heavenly home for the faithful (John 14:1-4). No one fact offers more hope or assurance than does the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!


McCord, Hugo (1988), McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel(Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
McDowell, Josh (1981), The Resurrection Factor (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers).
Moreland, J.P. (1987), Scaling the Secular City (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Robertson, A.T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Russell, Charles Taze (1889), Studies in the Scriptures (New York: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society).

"Christ—the Firstfruits" by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


"Christ—the Firstfruits"

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul wrote at length concerning the resurrection of the dead, because some of the Christians in Corinth taught “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (vs. 12). As one of his proofs for the Christian’s eventual resurrection, Paul pointed to the fact of the resurrection of Christ, and showed that the two stand or fall together, saying, “if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (vss. 16-17)! After hypothetically arguing from the absurd in an attempt to get the Corinthian Christians to see that their stance on the final resurrection completely undermined Christianity, Paul proceeded to demonstrate that Christ had risen, and thus made the resurrection of the dead inevitable. It is in this section of scripture that some find a difficulty. Beginning with verse 20, Paul wrote:
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, emp. added).
In view of the fact that Jesus was not the first person ever to arise from the dead (cf. 2 Kings 13:21; Luke 7:14-15; Matthew 10:8; 11:5), some have questioned why the apostle Paul twice described Jesus as “the firstfruits” from the dead in 1 Corinthians 15. Did Paul err? Was he ignorant of the widow’s son whom God revived at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:22)? Did he not know that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44)? How could Paul legitimately speak of Christ as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”?
One solution to this alleged discrepancy can be found in the fact that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead—never to die again. All who have ever arisen from the dead, including the sons of both the widow of Zarephath and the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:8-37), the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:35-43), Lazarus, et al., died in later years. Jesus, however, accurately could be called “the firstfruits” of the dead because “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Romans 6:9). All others who previously were raised at one time, died again, and are among those who “sleep” and continue to wait for the bodily resurrection; only Jesus has truly conquered death. In this sense, Christ is “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5; cf. Acts 26:23).
Another possible explanation of the difficulty surrounding 1 Corinthians 15:20,23 and Paul’s use of the word “firstfruits” (Greek aparche) is to understand how "firstfruits" was used in the Old Testament. Under the Old Law, the firstfruits were the earliest gathered grains, fruits, and vegetables that the people dedicated to God in recognition of His faithfulness for providing the necessities of life. The Israelites were to offer to God a sheaf of the first grain that was harvested on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover feast (Leviticus 23:9-14). Paul may have used the term “firstfruits” in this letter to the Corinthian church to reinforce the certainty of the resurrection. Just as the term “firstfruits” indicates that “the first sheaf of the forthcoming grain harvest will be followed by the rest of the sheaves, Christ, the firstfruits raised from the dead, is the guarantee for all those who belong to him that they also will share in his resurrection” (Kistemaker, 1993, p. 548). Jesus is God’s “firstfruits” of the resurrection. And, like the Israelites, God will gather the rest of the harvest at the final resurrection. It may be that Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand (by way of metaphor) that Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of our resurrection. It is inevitable—guaranteed by God Himself.


Kistemaker, Simon J. (1993), Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Behemoth and Leviathan--Creatures of Controversy by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Behemoth and Leviathan--Creatures of Controversy

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Many have heard of Hercules, the Greek hero remembered for his strength, courage, and numerous legendary exploits. In his journeys, he encountered, among other things, the multi-headed monsters Geryon (whose oxen he ultimately captured) and the Hydra (whom he killed). Still others may recall the Greek hero Odysseus (Ulysses in Latin) in Homer’s work, The Odyssey. His adventures came to life as he found himself face to face with the man-eating giant, Polyphemus, and then with the goddess Calypso, who offered him immortality if he would abandon his quest for home. Such adventurous stories always are entertaining to read. They allow a person to dream about what it would be like to live in a world with such fantastic beings.
In Job 40 and 41, God describes two amazing creatures that some have compared to the monsters of pagan mythology. Behemoth and leviathan are so famous that an ocean liner was named after one, while the other has become a synonym for objects of enormous size. Are these two animals—as described in God’s last speech to Job—simply mythological monsters that should be considered in the same light as those beasts conquered by Hercules and Odysseus? Are they simply fictitious creatures of an extraordinary time when pagan gods allegedly ruled the world? Or, are the two beasts God described in Job 40-41 real flesh-and-blood animals? Furthermore, if it can be established that these creatures are real, what are their identities?


Over the last several centuries, many have attempted to mythologize the inspired Word of God. Atheists vigorously attack the Genesis account of creation, calling it nothing more than a fictitious story that should be placed alongside (or even “behind”) myths like the Babylonian creation account. Liberal theologians similarly labor to make Scripture conform to secular sources, claiming that the Israelite religion is a mere “Yahwization” of pagan religions (i.e., attributing to Yahweh what pagan religions attributed to their gods) [see Brantley, 1993, 13:50]. Such attempts to mythologize Scripture represent a blatant attack upon God’s Word.
But even though the Bible is not based on pagan mythology, on occasion it does contain unmistakable allusions to it. Consider, for example, Isaiah 27:1: “In that day Jehovah with his hard and great and strong sword will punish leviathan the swift serpent, and leviathan the crooked serpent; and he will slay the monster that is in the sea.” Here, the inspired writer makes reference to leviathan in a prophetic passage depicting the future victory of God over His foes. As Pfeiffer has observed:
Isaiah was, of course, a strict monotheist. He did, however, draw upon the common stock of poetic imagery known to his people just as contemporary writers allude to mythology to illustrate a point without thereby expressing or encouraging faith in the story so used (1960, 32:209).
Among the clay tablets found in ancient Ugarit (present-day Ras Shamra), there was one that described with similar words a creature called Lotan: “When thou hast smitten Lotan, the fleeing serpent [and] hast put to an end the tortuous serpent, the mighty one with seven heads...” (as quoted in Pfeiffer, 32:209). In explaining the language of Isaiah and other Bible writers, John Day commented:
Canaanite mythic imagery was the most impressive means in that ancient cultural milieu whereby to display the sovereignty and transcendence of Yahweh, along with His superiority over Baal and all other earthly contenders. Although the Hebrews did not borrow the theology of Canaan, they did borrow its imagery—here the imagery of Baal’s enemy, Sea/Dragon/Leviathan (1998, 155:436, emp. added).
Day believes the problem is not one of borrowed mythology, but one of borrowed imagery. In summarizing his view on this subject, R. Laird Harris wrote: “We may conclude that mythological symbols are used in the Bible for purposes of illustration and communication of truth without in the least adopting the mythology or approving of its ideas” (1992, p. 165, emp. added). To suggest that the godly men and writers of the Old Testament believed in these mythological creatures is to make an abrasive and completely unwarranted assumption. In the words of Old Testament scholar, J. Barton Payne, such a view should be “roundly denied” (1980, 1:472). Elmer Smick noted:
Reading primitive meaning into a piece of monotheistic literature where the idiom can be viewed as a result of simple observation or the use of quaint expressions is poor methodology. On the other hand, we must be cautioned against the rejection of all mythological usage in a strained attempt to remove the writers of Scripture from such contamination (1970, p. 222).
In the book of Job, there no doubt are allusions to mythology (cf. 3:8; 26:12), but Job itself is not a mythological book. Rather, Job is presented as a devout monotheist who rejected then-popular mythological concepts (cf. 31:26-28). It is quite possible that a mythological element can be seen in the poetic language of Job 3:8: “Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to rouse up leviathan” (Job 3:8; see Hailey, 1994, p. 49). [The KJV rendering “who are ready to raise up their mourning” misses the reference to leviathan, which is obvious in the original language.] Many scholars identify the leviathan of this verse with a mythological creature described in Ugaritic myths. According to such mythology, a marine monster named Lotan was capable of altering the entire world order by eclipsing the Sun or Moon with its body (Payne, 1980, 1:472). Smick has suggested, then, that in the context of chapter 3, “Job, in a cursing mood, employs the most vivid, forceful, proverbial language available to call for the obliteration of that day” (1978, 40[2]:215). In his commentary on Job, Roy Zuck made the following observation concerning mythology and its relation to the book.
Was Job indicating belief in a creature of mythology? No, he was probably doing nothing more than utilizing for poetic purposes a common notion that his hearers would understand. This would have been similar to modern adults referring to Santa Claus. Mentioning his name does not mean that one believes such a person exists (1978, p. 24).
Thus, even though the Bible may make allusions to mythology, “neither the book of Job nor any of the Old Testament has the slightest hint of belief in any such mythology” (Smick, 1970, p. 229).


For centuries, students of the Bible have questioned the identity of behemoth and leviathan. “In the Middle Ages, some theologians, like Albert Magnus, conceived of behemoth as a symbol of sensuality and sin. Others, like Thomas Aquinas, equated behemoth with the elephant, and leviathan with the whale” (Gordis, 1978, p. 569)—both being natural monsters in the literalsense, but representing diabolical power in a figurative sense. In 1663, Samuel Bochart published a two-volume work identifying the two animals under consideration as the hippopotamus and the crocodile. Then, as additional extrabiblical literature came to light in the middle-to-late nineteenth century (most notably from Mesopotamia), the mythological interpretation was revived and comparative mythology became very popular among biblical scholars.
By the closing of the nineteenth century, some scholars began to see mythology as the solution to the “identification problem” of the creatures described in Job 40-41. That problem was stated by T.K. Cheyne as early as 1887 when he observed that “...neither Behemoth nor Leviathan corresponds strictly to any known animal” (p. 56). In 1892, C.H. Toy argued that behemoth and leviathan were water animals associated with the “primeval seas Apsu and Tiamat as they appeared to be presented in the emerging Babylonian Epic of Creation” (as quoted in Wilson, 1975, 25:2). In his commentary on Job, Tur-Sinai dismissed behemoth altogether, and suggested instead that the passage of Scripture from Job 40:15 through the end of the chapter is concerned with only one powerful figure—the mythological leviathan (1967, p. 558). Marvin Pope probably is the most recent well-known supporter of the mythological view. Using the Ugaritic texts as support for his theory, Pope has proposed that behemoth and leviathan of Job 40-41 are the same mythological creatures found in the ancient Jewish writings of Enoch, IV Ezra, and the Apocalypse of Baruch.


Some scholars believe behemoth and leviathan are mythological monsters due largely to the fact that similar creatures are mentioned in pagan myths. Those holding to this view do admit that the plural form behemot occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament without any hint of mythological implications (cf. Psalms 8:8; 50:10; Joel 1:20; 2:22; Habakkuk 2:17). Generally speaking, for example, in Scripture behemoth often refers to ordinary cattle. But those same scholars quickly point out the instances in which behemoth is used in some of the ancient Jewish writings that echo ancient pagan mythology. By citing extrabiblical texts such as 1 Enoch 60:7-9, 4 Ezra 49-52, and 2 Baruch 29:4, Pope has suggested that behemoth had a prototype in pre-Israelite mythology that was connected in some ancient myth, or played similar roles in different myths (1965, p. 269).
Scholars also allude to the Ugaritic texts where, they point out, the violent goddess ‘Anat boasts of having conquered along with Leviathan a bovine creature called ‘glil’tk that may be rendered “the ferocious bullock of El” (Pope, p. 269). Pope believes that this bullock of El very well may correspond with the behemoth of Job 40. He further suggests that the monstrous bullock of the Ugaritic myths and behemoth both are connected with the Sumero-Akkadian “bull of heaven” that was slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu (Gilgamesh’s foe-turned-friend) from the Gilgamesh Epic. The “bull of heaven” is said to have brushed Enkidu “with the thick of his tail” (as quoted in Pope, p. 272). Pope likens this description to that of the massive tail of the behemoth in 40:17 where God said that “he moveth his tail like a cedar.”
Perhaps the mythological theory rests mostly on the simple evidence of leviathan’s name and its use elsewhere in biblical and pagan literature. The name “leviathan” (liwyatan) appears six times in the Bible (Job 3:8, 41:1; Psalms 74:14; 104:26; Isaiah 27:1 [twice]; Lipinski, 1995, p. 504). Excluding Job 41, leviathan occurs once in the meaning of a natural sea-monster (Psalm 104:26), and three times in the meaning of a mythological creature (Job 3:8; Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 74:14). In commenting on the name leviathan and its use both within and without Scripture, James Williams stated:
The mythological significance of Leviathan is well known. Appearing as the Lothan of seven heads that Baal destroys in the Ugaritic myths, he is likewise the sea-serpent of many heads that Elohim defeated in the beginning (Ps. 74.12-14). One mythical tradition of the eschaton represents a final battle of Yahweh with Leviathan (Isa. 27.1). This Leviathan is doubtless the mythical origin of the dragon of seven heads in Rev. 17. Leviathan, as well as Behemoth, appears with eschatological significance in Enoch 60.7-9, IV Ezra 6.49-52, and Apoc[ryphal] Baruch 24.4 (1992, p. 367).
Unlike Williams (who understands these as mythological creatures in some texts but as real animals in Job 40-41), others have proposed that the leviathan in Job 41 might possibly be equated with the “leviathan with seven heads” found within Ugaritic mythology. Mythologizers frequently cite Ugaritic passages as “proof ” that the leviathan in Job 41 is, in fact, a mythological monster. In the following portion of the Ugaritic myth, a discussion is taking place between Baal and Mot (Death), wherein Mot gives Baal the credit for having slain Lotan.
When you smote Lotan the fleeting serpent,
Annihilated the tortuous serpent,
The tyrant with seven heads.
(as quoted in Pope, p. 276)
In another section of this Canaanite myth, the goddess ‘Anat (Baal’s sister and the most active goddess in Ugaritic mythology) claims to have destroyed the seven-headed dragon along with other assorted monsters.
What enemy rises up against Baal,
What adversary against Him who Mounteth the Clouds?
Have I not slain Sea, beloved of El?
Have I not annihilated [the] River, the great god?
Have I not muzzled the Dragon, holding her in a muzzle?
I have slain the Crooked Serpent,
The Foul-fanged with Seven Heads,
I have slain the beloved of earth-deities.
(as quoted in Gray, 1961, p. 129)
After quoting various Ugaritic passages like the ones above, those who support the mythological view seek to make a connection with Psalm 74:12-14 and its allusion to the tradition of a leviathan with many heads once smitten by the Almighty long ago. The psalmist wrote:
Yet God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: Thou brakest the heads of the sea-monsters in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces; Thou gavest him to be food to the people inhabiting the wilderness (Psalm 74:12-14, emp. added).
Marvin Pope takes the view that the supernatural character of leviathan can be seen quite clearly in this passage, as well as from the myths mentioned above (pp. 276-277). He thus concluded that the leviathan of Job 41 is identical to the one spoken of in the Ugaritic citations.
Mythologizers “see” numerous similarities between the leviathan of Job 41 and the creatures mentioned in pagan myths. Pope has compared God’s rhetorical question of whether Job could put a rope into leviathan’s nose or a hook in his jaw (41:2) to the following mythical passage from the Babylonian Creation Epic: “Ea (father of Marduk) liquidated or neutralized his foes, he laid hold on Mummu (counselor of Apsu), holding him by the nose-rope” (p. 279, emp. added). Then, in commenting on the teeth of leviathan (Job 41:14), Pope compared them to the “formidable dentition of the monsters engendered by Tiamat” (p. 284). And finally, Pope expressed how the beasts’ invincibility is one more reason to view these beings as mythological: “In the Ugaritic myth of the conflict between Baal and Prince Sea, the terrible messengers of the Sea-god intimidate the entire divine assembly, except Baal, by their fiery appearance” (p. 285, emp. added). Supporters of the mythological view make all these comparisons, and many more.
A final reason why many scholars hold to the mythological view is simply because they believe (correctly) that behemoth and leviathan cannot be the hippopotamus and the crocodile. It is obvious that the animals in Job 40-41 are represented as being beyond the power of men to capture. Yet it is known that ancient Egyptians hunted and captured both the crocodile and the hippopotamus (Driver and Gray, 1964, p. 353). Also, if the animals really are the hippopotamus and the crocodile, one wonders why there is a shift from the Palestinian animals of the previous chapters to Egyptian animals in chapters 40-41? Mythologizers suggest that the animals described in Job 40-41 are neither crocodiles, hippopotamuses, nor any other known creature. Thus, they conclude the animals described in these two chapters must be imaginary monsters.


What evidence is there to suggest that the behemoth and leviathan of Job 40-41 are, in fact, real, literal, historical creatures? First, of course, it is evident that certain Old Testament passages speak clearly of leviathan and behemoth in various contexts without any hint whatsoever of mythological or symbolic implication. Even though leviathan seemingly refers to a mythological creature in three passages of Scripture (Job 3:8; Psalm 74:14; Isaiah 27:1), there is at least one passage (other than Job 41) that speaks of it as a real animal. In expressing his thoughts that the great sea monsters were created by Yahweh, the Psalmist wrote: “There go the ships; there is leviathan, whom thou hast formed to play therein” (Psalm 104:26). Furthermore, every time behemoth is mentioned outside of Job 40, it refers to real animals (Cansdale, 1996, p. 43). In differentiating between whether the passage is speaking of an imaginary or a literal creature, one must be guided by the thrust of the context, not by what similarities might be found between pagan mythology and the Bible (Smick, 1978, 40[2]:214). In the context of Job 38-41, God is in the midst of asking Job a lengthy series of questions—the entire purpose of which was to show the patriarch that he did not know nearly as much as he thought he did when he charged God foolishly. If the creatures in Job 40-41 were, in fact, mythological, Job then could (and likely would!) have turned to God and asked, “Lord, what’s your point? These creatures are mythological!” God’s argument would have collapsed of its own weight. The context (which also refers to other real animals such as horses, hawks, and ostriches) becomes critical, especially considering the purpose and intent of God’s questions to Job. That the leviathan was referred to in ancient mythological literature is beyond question. But this does not prove that mythological creatures are under consideration in Job 40 and 41.
Second, behemoth is not described as horrifying and predatory, as is the “ferocious bullock of El” in the Ugaritic texts. On the contrary, he is portrayed as a herbivorous animal (40:20) that even allows other animals to graze nearby without harm (20), lies peacefully in the shadow of the rushes of the rivers (21-22), and leisurely laps up its waters (26) [see Gordis, 1978, p. 571]. As John Hartley noted in his excellent commentary on Job:
In contrast to mythological thought, Yahweh did not have to defeat Behemoth to gain control over the forces of chaos. Rather Behemoth obeyed him from the first moment of origin.... Unafraid, Yahweh can approach Behemoth with his sword. Such an act symbolizes his complete mastery of this beast (1988, p. 525).
Similarly, the leviathan of Job 41 poses no threat to God (contrary to what ancient myths depict), regardless of how unmanageable and terrifying he may appear to puny Job.
Third, neither description is close to being identical with that of such monsters as depicted in any ancient Near Eastern mythology (see Wharton, 1999, p. 175). No mythical creature called behemoth, nor anything like it, is seen in pagan mythology (despite Marvin Pope’s attempt to identify the behemoth with “the ferocious bullock of El”). In fact, one of leviathan’s most impressive characteristics—the ability to breathe fire—is not even mentioned in the Ugaritic texts. It also is interesting to note that in Job 41, God does not mention leviathan having multiple heads, as is stated in the mythopoetic language of Psalm 74:14: “Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces.” Mythology speaks of leviathan as having seven heads, but in the description of Job 41 we read that he has only one head (v. 7), one tongue (v. 1), one nose (v. 2), and one jaw (v. 2). There is absolutely no hint of Job’s leviathan having multiple heads. Surely, if the leviathan of Job 41 were a mythological creature, God would not have excluded such vital characteristics as these.
Fourth, instead of attempting to prove that these are mythological creatures, some mythologizers try to reason in a somewhat reverse fashion. They argue that since these creatures cannot be the hippopotamus and the crocodile, then they must be mythological (Driver and Gray, 1964, p. 351). This kind of logic is faulty, however, as it closes its parameters to another very real possibility—extinct creatures.
Fifth, although the poems in Job 40-41 are longer and are placed into the context of a separate speech, essentially they are the same as the earlier poems which deal with familiar birds and animals that the reader would have been expected to know (Anderson, 1974, p. 289). From the existence of these animals, God obviously intended Job to draw important conclusions regarding the nature of the world and man’s place in it. Robert Gordis commented: “The same consideration supports the idea that Behemoth and Leviathan are also natural creatures, the existence of which heightens the impact of God’s argument” (1978, p. 571). Descriptions of these creatures are critical in regard to the intent of God’s speeches to Job. “They are surely to be taken...as variations on the theme that God is God and Job is not” (Wharton, p. 174). Job is overwhelmed by the “sheer power and terror of these beings, but even more so by the fact that they exist as signs of God’s overarching power” (Wharton, p. 174). In contemplating taking up his case with God, Job has been concerned with being overcome by terror (cf. 9:32-35; 13:20-21). Now Yahweh is showing Job that his apprehensions were not misplaced. If he would have to retreat in terror before a literal animal like leviathan, he certainly was unfit to contend in court with Almighty God!
Sixth, poetic use of hyperbole, including the possible utilization of traits from mythology, is characteristic of poetry in general and of the book of Job in particular (Gordis, 1978, p. 571). Quite fanciful imagery and hyperbole already had been used in earlier poems to describe living animals. We no more are required to believe that behemoth’s bones were made of metal (40:18) than that God has water-bottles in the sky (38:37) or that a horse “swallows the ground” (39:24, RSV). Thus, embellishment is to be found in both of God’s speeches. To conclude that leviathan and behemoth are mythological creatures based upon the use of hyperbole (and possible mythopoetic language) is a very poor methodology of interpretation. As Wayne Jackson commented in regard to the poetry of Job 41:19-21: “It must not be assumed that this language implies a mythological creature. It may simply be poetic hyperbole...” (1983, p. 87). The other possibility, of course, is that there was a real animal at one time that breathed fire. This certainly is not impossible physiologically, as various scientists have pointed out (see, for example: DeYoung, 2000, pp. 117-118; Morris, 1984, p. 359).
Seventh, allowing for the use of highly poetic language at times, the book of Job remains realistic throughout (Anderson, 1974, p. 288). Job was a real person (cf. Ezekiel 14:14,20; James 5:11) who experienced real pain. He challenged a real God that was (and is) alive. Jehovah described real creatures in Job 38 and 39. And so there is no legitimate reason for rejecting behemoth and leviathan as real animals.
Eighth, unlike the mythology in the Babylonian and Ugaritic creation epics (where the writers described alleged cosmic events of the distant past), God was concerned in His discussion with Job with the appearance and habits of these creatures in the present. God “is not interested in imaginary creatures from the dim mythological past—he is concerned with the actual present, with the vast universe as it is governed by its Maker” (Gordis, 1965, p. 119).
Ninth, God’s purpose in glorifying His creation would not be served by describing mythological creatures derived from a polytheistic background. In his commentary on Job, Gordis elaborated on this point:
A passing mythological reference, such as we encounter in Isa. and Ps., is conceivable, but not an extended description of primordial beasts the reality of which the exalted monotheism of the author of Job had rejected. The point need not be labored that an uncompromising monotheism is the indispensable religious background for the book of Job and for the discussion of the issue of evil which it raises. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that Job parts company with Sumerian, Akkadian, and Egyptian Wisdom precisely here—the book is not a lament on suffering, nor even a complaint to the gods, but a challenge to the one God, whose hallmark is justice and who is being charged with having violated His own standard (1978, p. 571).
Finally, that these creatures are real would seem to be quite conclusive, for Job 40:15 states explicitly that behemoth and Job are equally God’s creatures (Anderson, 1974, pp. 288-289). Speaking to Job, God said, “Behold now, behemoth, which I made as well as thee” (40:15, emp. added).
Scholars who take the mythological approach when interpreting Job 40-41 simply are making comparisons to their liking. They have been so captivated by “apparent” parallels in ancient literature that they have lost sight of the basic exegetical test—the relevance and appropriateness of the interpretation within the context of the book of Job (Gordis, p. 569).


What are these flesh-and-blood creatures that Jehovah employed to impress upon Job his puniness when compared with God’s omnipotence? Older expositors like Thomas Aquinas thought that perhaps behemoth was the elephant, while leviathan was the whale (e.g., Gibson, 1905, p. 220). But since Samuel Bochart’s two-volume work Hierozoicon, sive bipertitum opus de animalibus Sacrae Scripturae was published in 1663, most modern critics have labeled the animals in question as the hippopotamus and the crocodile (Wilson, 1975, 25:1). Their basic claim is that the hippopotamus fits many of the characteristics of behemoth, while the crocodile aligns itself very closely with leviathan. This position has become so popular in modern times that few commentators have bothered to challenge the proposed identification of these beasts. In fact, even some versions of the Bible identify these creatures in the marginal notes or chapter headings as the hippopotamus and the crocodile.
When commenting on behemoth and leviathan, modern scholars who do not hold to the mythological view choose to make a general statement like, “Most identify these beasts as the hippo and the crocodile.” But then they give little if any evidence to support such a claim. Another disturbing trend is how “certain” many of the critics sound when identifying these animals. For example, Gordis confidently stated: “Behemot is to be identified as the hippopotamus and Leviathan as the crocodile” (1978, p. 571). Edgar Gibson wrote: “...there can be little doubt that” behemoth corresponds with the hippopotamus, and “there can be no doubt here leviathan means the crocodile” (1905, p. 223). In his practical book on Job, Theodore Epp confidently affirmed: “The first animal mentioned is the behemoth or the hippopotamus” and the leviathan “was a large crocodile” (1967, p. 175). Again, however, after making such definite statements, little evidence is offered, except for making a few comparisons between the animals. Actually, in more than one commentary the reader will find ample time spent answering objections, but little to none laying out concrete evidence supporting the author’s particular theory.


While it is true that a few similarities do exist between the behemoth and the hippo, and between the leviathan and the crocodile, many of the descriptive details do not seem to fit either creature. These differences are so numerous and significant that they cannot be overlooked.
1. It has been suggested by some scholars that the word behemoth itself derives from a hypothetical Egyptian compound p’-ih-mw (pehemu), meaning “the ox of the water” (Mitchell, 1996, p. 127). But, as Marvin Pope observed, “no such word has yet been found in Coptic or Egyptian and no known Egyptian designation of the hippopotamus bears any close resemblance to the word Behemoth” (1965, p. 268).
2. God described the behemoth as a creature that “moveth his tail like a cedar” (40:17). The tail of a hippopotamus “would surely not have been compared to a cedar by a truthful though poetic observer like the author of chapters 38-39” (Cheyne, 1887, p. 56). The hippopotamus hardly could be described—with its little 6-8 inch stubby appendage—as having a stiff or large tail. The tail of the hippo is short and small like that of a pig, and is a mere twig in comparison with a cedar tree. But that fact has not prevented commentators from attempting to avoid the obvious. Edgar Gibson wrote: “The comparison of the short, stiff, muscular tail, to the strong and elastic cedar branch (which is probably intended) seems really to be perfectly natural, and need cause no difficulty” (1905, p. 221, parenthetical comment in orig.). Keil and Delitzsch also concluded that the tail should not be compared to the cedar tree, but the cedar branch (1996). Hartley has advocated the view that the tail (zanab) is being compared to a cedar tree, rather than to a branch, but that God really was referring to the genitals of the hippopotamus (1988, p. 525). However, there is no credible evidence that zanab was used euphemistically in Hebrew (e.g., as in regard to the genitals), while referring only to analogies in English or other languages (Pope, 1965, p. 324). It appears that Hartley and others have rejected the logical rendering of the passage in order to force a comparison between the behemoth and the hippopotamus.
3. The behemoth is said to be “chief [i.e., largest] of the ways of God” (40:19). Surely this would rule out the hippo, since at full size it is but seven feet high (Thompson and Bromling, n.d., p. 5). An elephant is twice the size of a hippopotamus, and yet even it was dwarfed by certain extinct creatures. For example, the creature once popularly referred to as Brontosaurus (now known more accurately as Apatosaurus) grew to weigh more than 30 tons, whereas the hippo weighs in at only around 4 tons (Jackson, 1983, p. 86).
4. The text indicates that no man could approach the behemoth with a sword (40:19), nor was he able to capture him (40:24). Yet as mentioned earlier, the hippopotamus was hunted frequently and captured successfully by the Egyptians (Driver and Gray, 1964, p. 353). Hartley observed:
Egyptian pharaohs took pride in slaying a hippopotamus. There are numerous pictures in which the pharaoh, hunting a hippopotamus from a papyrus boat, is poised to hurl his harpoon into the animal’s opened mouth, thereby inflicting a fatal blow (1988, p. 524).
Egyptians even celebrated festivals known as “Harpooning the Hippopotamus” (Hartley, 1988, p. 524). Additionally, Egyptian monuments frequently picture single hunters attacking the hippo with a spear (McClintock and Strong, 1968, 1:728). How could one accurately compare the unapproachable and unseizable behemoth with the hippopotamus?
5. The leviathan also is represented as unapproachable and too mighty to be apprehended by men. The Lord said:
Canst thou draw out leviathan with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord? Canst thou put a rope into his nose? Or pierce his jaw through with a hook?... If one lay at him with the sword, it cannot avail; Nor the spear, the dart, nor the pointed shaft (41:1-2,26).
It is clear that the leviathan is represented as “too powerful and ferocious for mere man to dare to come to grips with it” (Pope, p. 268). He is “beyond the power of men to capture” (Driver and Gray, 1964, p. 353). Leviathan is “peerless and fearless” (Strauss, 1976, p. 437). Contrariwise, the crocodile—like the hippopotamus—was hunted and captured by Egyptians. Herodotus discussed how they captured crocodiles (Rowley, 1980, p. 259), and how that, after being seized, some even were tamed (Jackson, 1983, p. 87). Such a scene hardly depicts the animal of Job 40:15ff.
6. According to Jehovah, the leviathan’s “sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning torches, and sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils a smoke goeth, as of a boiling pot and (burning) rushes. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth forth from his mouth” (Job 41:18-21). Some, such as Driver and Gray, have suggested that perhaps God did not intend to use literal imagery in these verses (1964, p. 366). However, as Henry Morris observed:
It is presumptuous merely to write all this off as mythological and impossible. To say that the leviathan could not have breathed fire is to say much more than we know about leviathans (or water dragons or sea serpents). Fire flies produce light, eels produce electricity, and bombardier beetles produce explosive chemical reactions. All of these involve complex chemical processes, and it does not seem at all impossible that an animal might be given the ability to breathe out certain gaseous fumes which, upon coming in contact with oxygen, would briefly ignite (1984, p. 359).
7. When leviathan “raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid: By reason of consternation they are beside themselves.... He beholdeth everything that is high: He is king over all the sons of pride” (Job 41:25,34). True, crocodiles are frightening creatures. Yet they are no more frightening standing up than when sitting, because their legs are so short. How could it thus be said of the crocodile that “he beholdeth everything that is high”—when he himself is so close to the ground?
8. God also described leviathan as an animal that cannot be availed by swords, spears, or darts (41:26). In fact, leviathan “laugheth at the rushing of the javelin” (41:29) and “his underparts are (like) sharp potsherds” (41:30). In commenting on these verses, Thompson and Bromling wrote:
Although the hide that covers the crocodile’s back is extremely thick and difficult to penetrate, this is not true of his belly. The crocodile is most vulnerable to spears and javelins on his underside; hence, it could not be said of him that “his underparts are like sharp potsherds” (n.d., p. 7).
The problem of identifying these two creatures was acknowledged by T.K. Cheyne long ago. Even though his mythological interpretation of Job 40-41 is faulty, he and others have observed correctly that neither the behemoth nor the leviathan corresponds well to the hippopotamus or the crocodile. If Edwin Good was speaking of present-day animals, he was correct when he wrote: “There is simply no plausible natural counterpart to Leviathan” (1990, p. 361). Plus, “Eating grass like the cattle, having a tail in any way comparable to a cedar, having any contact with the mountains, and relating to the Jordan River, are all incompatibilities between Behemoth and the hippopotamus” (Wolfers, 1995, p. 191). Actually, the only support for identification of the behemoth as the hippopotamus is the biblical description “not of the animal but of its habitat” (Good, 1990, p. 358).
Concerning leviathan, Wolfers wrote: “Underside like sharpest potsherds, swimming in sea rather than river, and breathing fire and smoke, are incompatibilities between Leviathan and the crocodile” (p. 191). Job 41 is dominated by the idea of the beast’s utter invincibility. As Driver and Gray admitted: “There is nothing, unless we should so regard 41:7, that points necessarily or at all striking to the crocodile, and one or two points seem inconsistent with it” (1964, p. 353). In reality, there are more than just “one or two points” that are inconsistent with the suggestion that the leviathan is little more than a crocodile.


The evidence documents overwhelmingly that the behemoth and leviathan of Job 40-41 are flesh-and-blood animals, not imaginary creatures. Furthermore, the description of these creatures does not fit that of any known animal present in the world today, regardless of attempts to equate them with the hippopotamus and the crocodile. Thus, they must be some type of extinct creature. But what kind? God’s descriptions of behemoth and leviathan are compatible in every way with the descriptions we have of dinosaurs and dinosaur-like, water-living reptiles that roamed the Earth, not millions of years ago as some have suggested, but only a few thousand years ago. Moses wrote: “For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is (Exodus 20:11, emp. added). Man, according to Christ, existed “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10.6; cf. Matthew 19:4). So did the dinosaurs.
This conclusion is supported by the available scientific evidence as well. In the early 1920s, distinguished archaeologist Samuel Hubbard uncovered Indian petroglyphs in the Hava Supai area of the Grand Canyon. Among them were representations of easily recognizable creatures, including the ibex, the buffalo—and the dinosaur. In fact, a reproduction of the dinosaur petroglyph graced the front cover of the scientific monograph authored by Dr. Hubbard and published under the auspices of the Oakland, California Museum of Natural History (where Dr. Hubbard served as the honorary curatory of archaeology, and which had sponsored the expedition as a result of funding by the highly respected philanthropist E.L. Doheny; see Hubbard, 1925). Upon seeing the petroglyph of the dinosaur, Dr. Hubbard remarked:
Taken all in all, the proportions are good. The huge reptile is depicted in the attitude in which man would be most likely to see it—reared on its hind legs, balancing with the long tail, either feeding or in fighting position, possibly defending itself against a party of men (as quoted in Verrill, 1954, pp. 155ff.).
In the book, The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible, there is a reproduction of the Hava Supai dinosaur petroglyph, side-by-side with a representation from the evolutionists’ texts of the dinosaur known as Edmontosaurus (see Taylor, 1989, p. 39). The two are indistinguishable. And that, in this context, raises an important question: How could Indians draw such accurate pictures of a creature they never had seen? It is evident that both biblical and scientific evidence support the coexistence of man and dinosaurs at some point in the not-too-distant past.


There are three possible explanations as to the exact identity of the biblical creatures known as behemoth and leviathan: (1) they are unreal, mythological monsters; (2) they are real animals that exist somewhere in the world today; or (3) they are some kind of real, yet extinct creature. The biblical and scientific evidence makes it clear that the third choice is the only correct option. Yet, sadly, as Henry Morris has observed:
Modern Bible scholars, for the most part, have become so conditioned to think in terms of the long ages of evolutionary geology that it never occurs to them that mankind once lived in the same world with the great animals that are now found only as fossils (1988, p. 115).


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