"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" The Problem Of Religious Division (1:10-13) by Mark Copeland

The Problem Of Religious Division (1:10-13) INTRODUCTION 1. The picture the world sees of "Christianity" is one with much religious division... a. Between Catholics and Protestants b. Between various Protestant denominations c. Between liberal and conservative factions of any denomination d. Between members of the same congregation 2. Many people do not take the problem of religious division seriously... a. Content to perpetuate the denominational names and doctrines that divide so many b. Considering such differences as not important, often praising such diversity as commendable [Yet in the early church, "The Problem Of Religious Division" was not taken lightly. As we turn to our text (1Co 1:10-13), we are immediately struck with...] I. THE SEVERITY OF THE PROBLEM A. IN THE WORDS OF PAUL... 1. Prompting the apostle to beg ("I plead with you, brethren...") - 1Co 1:10 2. Appealing to the authority of Christ - 1Co 1:10 3. For the contention division creates - 1Co 1:11 4. For the impression such division gives - 1Co 1:12-13 a. That Christ is somehow divided b. That their allegiance is to some man rather than to Christ 5. For such division is indicative of carnality and spiritual immaturity - cf. 1Co 3:1-4 -- Paul certainly took the problem of religious division seriously! B. IN THE WORDS AND DEEDS OF JESUS... 1. Jesus prayed for unity among those who would believe in Him - Jn 17:20-21 a. Unity akin to that between the Father and the Son - Jn 17: 21b,22b b. Participating in the unity between the Father and the Son - Jn 17:21c,23a 2. For two reasons Jesus prays for unity among believers a. "that the world may believe that you sent Me" - Jn 17:21 b. "that the world may know that you sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" - Jn 17:23 3. He even passed along glory from the Father to make unity possible! - cf. Jn 17:22 4. He also died to bring about unity between Jew and Gentile - cf. Ep 2:13-16 -- Jesus prayed and died for unity...He certainly took religious division seriously! [How can we who profess to be Christians today take "The Problem Of Religious Division" lightly? If we appreciate the concern of both Jesus and Paul, what can we do about it? In our text, we find...] II. THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM A. SPEAK THE SAME THING... 1. So the apostle enjoins in our text - 1Co 1:10 a. Of course, it is easier said than done b. But this is the goal to which we are to strive 2. The goal is more likely if we heed the words of Peter
         - 1 Pe 4:11
         a. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God..."
         b. Let those who teach or preach do so in accordance with the
            Word of God
         c. Too many teach or preach their opinions, rather than the
            Word of God
      -- I.e., "Speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the
         Bible is silent"

      1. Again the apostle so enjoins in our text - 1Co 1:10
         a. Those of the same mind will more likely speak the same thing
         b. Striving to be of the same mind) will help us speak the same
      2. The "same mind" we should have is the "mind of Christ" 
           - Php 2:1-5
         a. Which results in consolation, comfort, fellowship, affection
            and mercy
         b. Which requires lowliness of mind, thinking highly of others,
            concern for others
      -- As we develop the mind of Christ, the more likely we will be of
         one mind

      1. As stressed in our text - 1Co 1:10
         a. Where we have the same knowledge, similar processes of
         b. Which leads us to the same conclusions on various issues
      2. Much religious division is the result of different standards of
         a. Many appeal to majority rule, traditions of men, personal
            feelings, etc.
         b. Christians in the New Testament were expected to abide in
            the apostles' doctrine, as taught in every church 
             - cf. Ac 2:42; 1Co 4:17; 14:37; 1Ti 3:15
      -- Where different conclusions are drawn, someone, somehow, is not
         submitting to the mind of Christ as revealed through His


1. We should not be surprised when people do not...
   a. Speak the same thing
   b. Have the same mind
   c. Have the same judgment

2. We should expect that it will require...
   a. Time for people to develop the mind of Christ
   b. Patience and love to give each other time to grow

But wherever "The Problem Of Religious Division" exists, we should not
rest content.  With the same fervency of Paul's words and Jesus' prayer,
we should strive to overcome it...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Archaeology and the Old Testament by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Archaeology and the Old Testament

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

A man wearing a leather vest and a broad-rimmed hat wraps a ripped piece of cloth around an old bone, sets it on fire, and uses it as a torch to see his way through ancient tunnels filled with bones, rats, bugs, and buried treasure. Close behind him lurks the dastardly villain, ready to pounce on the treasure after the hero has done all the planning and dangerous work. We have seen this scenario, or others similar to it, time and again in movies like Indiana Jones or The Mummy. And although we understand that Hollywood exaggerates and dramatizes the situation, it still remains a fact that finding ancient artifacts excites both young and old alike. Finding things left by people of the past is exciting because a little window of their lives is opened to us. When we find an arrowhead, we are reminded that Indians used bows and arrows to hunt and fight. Discovering a piece of pottery tells us something about the lives of ancient cultures. Every tiny artifact gives the modern person a more complete view of life in the past.
Because of the intrinsic value of archaeology, many have turned to it in order to try to answer certain questions about the past. One of the questions most often asked is, “Did the things recorded in the Bible really happen?” Truth be told, archaeology cannot always answer that question. Nothing material remains from Elijah’s ascension into heaven, and no physical artifacts exist to show that Christ actually walked on water. Therefore, if we ask archaeology to “prove” that the entire Bible is true or false, we are faced with the fact that archaeology can neither prove nor disprove the Bible’s validity. However, even though it cannot conclusively prove the Bible’s veracity in every instance, archaeology can provide important pieces of the past that consistently verify the Bible’s historical and factual accuracy. This month’s Reason and Revelation article is designed to bring to light a small fraction of the significant archaeological finds that have been instrumental in corroborating the biblical text of the Old Testament.


When Hezekiah assumed the throne of Judah, he did so under extremely distressing conditions. His father Ahaz had turned to the gods of Damascus, cut into pieces the articles within the house of Jehovah, and shut the doors of the temple of the Lord. In addition, he created high places “in every single city” where he sacrificed, and offered incense to other gods (2 Chronicles 28:22-27). The people of Judah followed Ahaz, and as a result, the Bible records that “the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:19).
Upon this troubled throne, King Hezekiah began to rule at the youthful age of just twenty-five. He reigned for twenty-nine years, and the inspired text declares that he “did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done” (2 Chronicles 29:2). Among other reforms, Hezekiah reopened the temple, reestablished the observance of the Passover, and appointed the priests to receive tithes and administer their proper duties in the temple. After completing these reforms, Scripture states that “Sennacherib, king of Assyria entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself ” (2 Chronicles 32:1).
It is here that we turn to the secular record of history to discover that the powerful nation Assyria, under the reign of King Sargon II, had subdued many regions in and around Palestine. Upon Sargon’s death, revolt broke out within the Assyrian empire. Sennacherib, the new Assyrian king, was determined to maintain a firm grasp on his vassal states, which meant that he would be forced to invade the cities of Judah if Hezekiah continued to defy Assyria’s might (Hoerth, 1998, pp. 341-352). Knowing that Sennacherib would not sit by idly and watch his empire crumble, King Hezekiah began to make preparations for the upcoming invasion. One of the preparations he made was to stop the water from the springs that ran outside of Jerusalem, and to redirect the water into the city by way of a tunnel. Second Kings 20:20 records the construction of the tunnel with these words: “Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah—all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city—are they not written in the book of chronicles of the kings of Judah?”
Hezekiah's Tunnel
Inside view of Hezekiah’s tunnel, displaying the thick limestone through which workers had to dig. Credit: Todd Bolen (www.BiblePlaces.com).
The biblical text from 2 Chronicles 32:30 further substantiates the tunnel construction with this comment: “This same Hezekiah also stopped the water outlet of Upper Gihon, and brought the water by tunnel to the west side of the City of David.” The tunnel—known today as “Hezekiah’s tunnel”—stands as one of the paramount archaeological attestations to the biblical text. Carved through solid limestone, the tunnel meanders in an S-shape under the city of Jerusalem for a length of approximately 1,800 feet. In 1880, two boys swimming at the site discovered an inscription (about 20 feet from the exit) that provided exacting details regarding how the tunnel had been constructed:
...And this was the account of the breakthrough. While the laborers were still working with their picks, each toward the other, and while there were still three cubits to be broken through, the voice of each was heard calling to the other, because there was a crack (or split or overlap) in the rock from the south to the north. And at the moment of the breakthrough, the laborers struck each toward the other, pick against pick. Then water flowed from the spring to the pool for 1,200 cubits. And the height of the rock above the heads of the laborers was 100 cubits (Price, 1997, p. 267).
Of the inscription, John Laughlin wrote that it is “one of the most important, as well as famous, inscriptions ever found in Judah” (2000, p. 145). Incidentally, since the length of the tunnel was about 1,800 feet, and the inscription marked the tunnel at “1,200 cubits,” archaeologists have a good indication that the cubit was about one-and-a-half feet at the time of Hezekiah (Free and Vos, 1992, p. 182). Dug in order to keep a steady supply of water pumping into Jerusalem during Sennacherib’s anticipated siege, Hezekiah’s tunnel stands as a strong witness to the accuracy of the biblical historical record of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.
Siloam Insciption
The Siloam inscription commemorates the excavation of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Archaeological Museum, Istanbul, Turkey. Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.
In addition to Hezekiah’s tunnel, other amazingly detailed archaeological evidence provides an outstanding record of some of the events as they unfolded between Hezekiah and Sennacherib. Much of the information we have comes from the well-known Taylor Prism. This fascinating, six-sided clay artifact stands about 15 inches tall, and was found in Nineveh in 1830 by British colonel R. Taylor. Thus, it is known as the “Taylor Prism” (Price, pp. 272-273). The prism contains six columns covered by over 500 lines of writing, and was purchased in the winter of 1919-1920 by J.H. Breasted for the Oriental Institute in Chicago (Hanson, 2002).
Part of the text on the Taylor Prism has Sennacherib’s account of what happened in his military tour of Judah.
As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them) by means of well-stamped (earth)ramps, and battering-rams brought (thus) near (to the walls) (combined with) the attack by foot soldiers, (using) mines, breeches as well as sapper work. I drove out (of them) 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered (them) booty. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthwork in order to molest those who were leaving his city’s gate (Pritchard, 1958a, p. 200).
At least two facts of monumental significance reside in Sennacherib’s statement. First, Sennacherib’s attack on the outlying cities of Judah finds a direct parallel in 2 Chronicles 32:1: “Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities....” The most noteworthy fortified city that the Assyrian despot besieged and captured was the city of Lachish. Second, Sennacherib never mentions that he captured Jerusalem.

Lachish Under Siege

Assyrians attacking the Jewish town of Lachish
Assyrians attack the Jewish fortified town of Lachish. Part of a relief from the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh. British Museum, London. Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.
When we turn to the biblical account of Sennacherib’s Palestinian invasion in 2 Kings 18, we learn that he had advanced against “all the fortified cities of Judah” (vs. 14). At one of those cities, Lachish, King Hezekiah sent tribute money in an attempt to assuage the Assyrian’s wrath. The text states: “Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, ‘I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay’ ” (vs. 14). Of Lachish, Sennacherib demanded 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold, which Hezekiah promptly paid. Not satisfied, however, the Assyrian ruler “sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah” (vs. 17) in an attempt to frighten the denizens of Jerusalem into surrender. The effort failed, “so the Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish” (19:8). From the biblical record, then, we discover very scant information about the battle at Lachish—only that Sennacherib was there, laid siege to the city (2 Chronicles 32:9), and moved on to Libnah upon the completion of his siege.
From Sennacherib’s historical files, however, we get a much more complete account of the events surrounding Lachish. The Assyrian monarch considered his victory at Lachish of such import that he dedicated an entire wall (nearly seventy linear feet) of his palace in Nineveh to carved reliefs depicting the event (Hoerth, p. 350). In the mid-1840s, renowned English archaeologist Henry Layard began extensive excavations in the ruins of ancient Nineveh. He published his initial finds in an 1849 best-selling volume titled Nineveh and Its Remains, and in three subsequent volumes: The Monuments of Nineveh (1849), Inscriptions in the Cuneiform Characters (1851), and Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh (1853) [see Moorey, 1991, pp. 7-12 for more about Layard’s work]. Since Layard’s early discoveries, archaeologists have located and identified thousands of artifacts from at least three different palaces. The remains of ancient Nineveh are located in two mounds on opposite banks of the Hawsar River. One of the mounds, known as Kouyunjik Tepe, contained the remains of the palaces of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal. The other mound, Nebi Younis, held the relics of the palace of Sennacherib. These palaces were built on raised platforms about 75 feet high (Negev and Gibson, 2001, p. 369).
One of the most outstanding artifacts found among the ruins of Nineveh was the wall relief depicting Sennacherib’s defeat of the city of Lachish. Ephraim Stern offered an excellent description of the events pictured in the relief:
The main scene shows the attack on the gate wall of Lachish. The protruding city gate is presented in minute detail, with its crenellations and its special reinforcement by a superstructure of warriors’ shields. The battering rams were moved over specially constructed ramps covered with wooden logs. They were “prefabricated,” four-wheeled, turreted machines. The scene vividly shows frenzied fighting of both attacker and defender in the final stage of battle (2001, 2:5).
Assyrians impaling Jewish prisoners
Assyrian warriors shown impaling Jewish prisoners. Part of a relief from the palace of Sennacherib. British Museum, London. Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.
Stern also discussed the flaming firebrands that the defenders of Lachish launched at their attackers, the long-handled, ladle-like instruments used to dowse the front of the battering rams when they were set on fire, slingmen, archers, and assault troops with spears. One of the most striking features of the relief is the depiction of the tortures inflicted on the inhabitants of the Lachish. Several prisoners are pictured impaled on poles, while women and children from the city are led past the victims (Stern, 2:5-6). The epigraph that accompanied the relief read: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a nimedu- throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su)” [Pritchard, 1958a, p. 201, parenthetical item in orig.].
Of further interest is the fact that archaeological digs at the city of Lachish bear out the details of Sennacherib’s wall relief. Extensive archaeological digs at Lachish from 1935 to 1938 by the British, and again from 1973 to 1987 under Israeli archaeologist David Ussishkin and others, have revealed a treasure trove of artifacts, each of which fits the events depicted by Sennacherib. Concerning the Assyrian siege of Lachish, William Dever noted:
The evidence of it is all there: the enormous sloping siege ramp thrown up against the city walls south of the gate; the double line of defense walls, upslope and downslope; the iron-shod Assyrian battering rams that breached the city wall at its highest point; the massive destruction within the fallen city.... Virtually all the details of the Assyrian reliefs have been confirmed by archaeology.... Also brought to light by the excavators were the double city walls; the complex siege ramp, embedded with hundreds of iron arrowheads and stone ballistae; the counter-ramp inside the city; the destroyed gate, covered by up to 6 ft. of destruction debris; huge boulders from the city wall, burned almost to lime and fallen far down the slope... (2001, pp. 168-169).
The Assyrian monarch’s siege of Lachish is documented by the biblical text, and the destruction of the city is corroborated by the massive carving dedicated to the event in Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh, as well as the actual artifacts found in stratum III at Lachish.

Jerusalem Stands Strong

Of special interest in Sennacherib’s description of his Palestinian conquest is the fact that he never mentioned seizing the city of Jerusalem. On the Taylor Prism, we find the writings about his conquest of 46 outlying cities, in addition to “walled forts” and “countless small villages.” In fact, we even read that Hezekiah was shut up in Jerusalem as a prisoner “like a bird in a cage.” It also is recorded that Hezekiah sent more tribute to Sennacherib at the end of the campaign (Pritchard, 1958a, pp. 200-201). What is not recorded, however, is any list of booty that was taken from the capital city of Judah. Nor is an inventory of prisoners given in the text of the Taylor Prism. Indeed, one would think that if the city of Lachish deserved so much attention from the Assyrian dictator, then the capital city of Judah would deserve even more.
What we find, however, is complete silence as to the capture of the city. What happened to the vast, conquering army to cause it to buckle at the very point of total victory? Hershel Shanks, author of Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography, wrote: “...although we don’t know for sure what broke the siege, we do know that the Israelites managed to hold out” (1995, p. 84).
The biblical text, however, offers the answer to this historical enigma. Due to Hezekiah’s faithfulness to the Lord, Jehovah offered His divine assistance to the Judean King. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet was sent to Hezekiah with a message of hope. Isaiah informed Hezekiah that God would stop Sennacherib from entering the city, because Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for assistance. In Isaiah 37:36, the text states: “Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.” Sennacherib could not boast of his victory over the city of Jerusalem—because there was no victory! The Lord had delivered the city out of his hand. In addition, as Dever observed: “Finally, Assyrian records note that Sennacherib did die subsequently at the hands of assassins, his own sons...” (2001, p. 171). Luckenbill records the actual inscription from Esarhaddon’s chronicles that describe the event:
In the month Nisanu, on a favorable day, complying with their exalted command, I made my joyful entrance into the royal palace, an awesome place, wherein abides the fate of kings. A firm determination fell upon my brothers. They forsook the gods and turned to their deeds of violence plotting evil. ...To gain the kingship they slew Sennacherib, their father (Luckenbill, 1989, 2:200-201).
These events and artifacts surrounding Hezekiah, Sennacherib, Lachish, and Jerusalem give us an amazing glimpse into the tumultuous relationship between Judah and her neighbors. These facts also provide an excellent example of how archaeology substantiates the biblical account.


The ancient Israelites used several different media to record their information. Among the most popular were scrolls of papyrus and leather. When a scribe had completed writing his information on a scroll, he often would roll the papyrus or leather into a cylinder shape and tie it securely with a string. In order to seal the string even more securely, and to denote the author or sender of the scroll, a bead of soft clay (or soft wax or soft metal) was placed over the string of the scroll. With some type of stamping device, the clay was pressed firmly to the scroll, leaving an inscription in the clay (King and Stager, 2001, p. 307). These clay seals are known as bullae (the plural form of the word bulla). Over the many years of archaeological excavations, hundreds of these bullae have been discovered. The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Landprovides an extensive list of bullae that have been unearthed: 50 in Samaria during the 1930s; 17 at Lachish in 1966; 51 in Jerusalem in digs conducted by Yigal Shiloh; 128 in 1962 found in the Wadi ed-Daliyeh Cave and a large cache of 2,000 bullae found in 1998 at Tel Kadesh (Negev and Gibson, 2001, pp. 93-94).
Examples of Bullae
On the left, a bulla with Hebrew writing in a slightly oval impression. On the right, a stamp seal with the name of the owner or scribe. Credit: The Schøyen Collection MS 1912 and MS 5160/1.
Most of the bullae that have been discovered are small, oval, clay stamps that contain the name of the person responsible for the document that was sealed (and occasionally the father of that person), the title or office of the sealer, and/or a picture of an animal or some other artistic rendering. One of the most interesting things about the bullae that have been discovered is the fact that certain names found among the clay seals correspond with biblical references. For instance, from 1978 to 1985, Yigal Shiloh did extensive digging in the city of Jerusalem. In 1982, in a building in Area G of Jerusalem, he discovered a cache of 51 bullae. Because of these clay inscriptions, the building is known in archaeological circles as the “House of Bullae.” This building was burned during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Unfortunately, the intense heat of the fires burned all the leather and papyrus scrolls. Yet, even though it destroyed the scrolls, the same fire baked the clay bullae hard and preserved them for posterity (King and Stager, p. 307).
One interesting bulla, and probably the most famous, is connected to the scribe of Jeremiah—Baruch*. Hershel Shanks, the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, gave a detailed account of a landmark cache of over 250 bullae. In October 1975, the first four bullae were purchased by an antiquities dealer in east Jerusalem. The dealer took these bullae to Nahman Avigad, a leading Israeli expert on ancient seals at Hebrew University. More and more bullae came across Avigad’s desk that fit with the others. On more than one occasion, a fragment from one collection would fit with a corresponding fragment from another dealer’s collection. Ultimately, Yoav Sasson, a Jerusalem collector, came to acquire about 200 of the bullae, and Reuben Hecht obtained 49 pieces (Shanks, 1987, pp. 58-65).
The names on two of these bullae have captivated the archaeological world for several decades now. On one of the bulla, the name “Berekhyahu son of Neriyahu the scribe,” is clearly impressed. Shanks wrote concerning this inscription: “The common suffix -yahu in ancient Hebrew names, especially in Judah, is a form of Yahweh. Baruch means “the blessed.” Berekhyahu means “blessed of Yahweh.” An equivalent form to -yahu is -yah, traditionally rendered as “-iah” in our English translations. Neriah is actually Neri-yah or Neriyahu. Eighty of the 132 names represented in the hoard (many names appear more than once on the 250 bullae) include the theophoric element -yahu (1987, p. 61). Shanks (along with the general consensus of archaeological scholars) concluded that the bulla belonged to Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 36:4, the text reads: “Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah....” The name on the bulla corresponds well with the name in Jeremiah. Concerning the bulla, Hoerth wrote: “This lump of clay...used to close a papyrus document, was sealed by none other than ‘Baruch son of Neriah’ (Jer. 36:4). Baruch’s name here carries a suffix abbreviation for God, indicating that his full name meant ‘blessed of God’ ” (1998, p. 364).
To multiply the evidence that this inscription was indeed the Baruch of Jeremiah fame, another of the inscriptions from a bulla in the cache documented the title “Yerahme’el, son of the king.” This name corresponds to King Jehoiakim’s son “who was sent on the unsuccessful mission to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah” (Shanks, 1987, p. 61). Indeed, the biblical text so states: “And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son...to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them” (Jeremiah 36:26). In commenting on the bulla, Amihai Mazar, who is among the most noted of archaeologists, stated in regard to Jerahmeel the king’s son: “We presume [he] was Jehoiakim’s son sent to arrest Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:26)” [1992, pp. 519-520]. [As a side note, the Hebrew letter yod is represented by Y and J, which often are used interchangeably in the English transliteration of Hebrew names—a fact that can be seen easily in the Hebrew name for God, which is written variously as Yahweh or Jehovah.] Another bulla in the hoard contained the title “Elishama, servant of the king.” And in Jeremiah 36:12, the text mentioned a certain “Elishama the scribe.” While professor Avigad thinks it would be a dubious connection, since he believes the biblical text would not drop the title “servant of the king” (because of its prestige), Shanks commented: “I would not reject the identification so easily” (1987, p. 62).
One of the names inscribed on a bulla was the Hebrew name “Gemaryahu [Gemariah] the son of Shaphan.” Price noted: “This name, which appears a few times in the book of Jeremiah, was the name of the scribe who served in the court of King Jehoiakim” (1998, p. 235). Jeremiah 36:10 records that Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch, read from the words of the prophet “in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe....” It also is interesting to note that Gemariah was a scribe, which would have put him in precisely the position to produce bullae. Also among the collection from the “House of Bullae” was a bulla that was sealed with the name “Azaryahu son of Hilqiyahu”—a name that easily corresponds with Azariah son of Hilkiah found in 1 Chronicles 9:10-11 (Laughlin, 2000, p. 153).
We have then, among this phenomenal cache of bullae (which dates to the time of the events in the book of Jeremiah), two names and titles that correspond almost identically to Baruch, the son of Neriah, plus Jerahmeel, the son of Jehoiakim, and a third, Elishama, whose name appears in Jeremiah 36. What, then, does this prove? While it is the case that several men in ancient Israel could be named Baruch or Jerahmeel, it becomes almost absurd to suggest that these bullae just happen “coincidentally” to correspond so well to the biblical text. Such evidence points overwhelming to the accuracy of the biblical text and its historical verifiability. At the very least, such finds demonstrate these biblical names to be authentic for the time period. [As an added note of interest on the Baruch bulla, Shanks wrote a follow-up article in Biblical Archaeological Review in 1996, in which he discussed another bulla with Baruch’s title on it that also contains a fingerprint—possibly of the scribe himself. This bulla is in the private collection of a well-known collector named Shlomo Maussaieff (Shanks, 1996, pp. 36-38).]


Another important archaeological find verifying the historicity of the biblical account is known as the Moabite Stone. It is true that writing about a rock that was discovered almost 150 years ago certainly would not fit in a current “in the news” section. In fact, so much has been written about this stone since 1868 that very few new articles pertaining to it have come to light. But the real truth of the matter is that, even though it was discovered more than a century ago, many people do not even know it exists, and thus need to be reminded of its importance.
The Moabite StoneThe find is known as the Moabite Stone, or the Mesha Inscription, since it was written by Mesha, King of Moab. A missionary named F.A. Klein first discovered the stone in August of 1868 (Edersheim, n.d., p. 109). When he initially saw the black basalt stone, it measured approximately 3.5 feet high and 2 feet wide. Upon learning of Klein’s adventure, a French scholar by the name of Clermont-Ganneau located the antiquated piece of rock, and copied eight lines from the stone. He then had an impression (known as a “squeeze”) made of the writing on its surface. A squeeze is made by placing a soggy piece of paper over the inscription, which then retains the form of the inscription when it dries (Pritchard, 1958b, p. 105). From that point, the details surrounding the stone are not quite as clear. Apparently (for reasons unknown), the Arabs who were in possession of the stone decided to shatter it. [Some have suggested that they thought the stone was a religious talisman of some sort, or that they could get more money selling the stone in pieces. However, LeMaire claims that these reasons are “apocryphal,” and suggests that the Arabs broke it because they hated the Ottomans, who were attempting to purchase the stone (1994, p. 34).] By heating it in fire and then pouring cold water on it, they succeeded in breaking the stone into several pieces. The pieces ended up being scattered, but eventually about two-thirds of the original stone ended up being relocated, and currently reside at the Louvre in Paris (Jacobs and McCurdy, 2002).
The written inscription on the stone provides a piece of outstanding evidence that verifies the Bible’s accuracy. Mesha, had the stone cut in c. 850 B.C. to relate his numerous conquests and his reacquisition of certain territories that were controlled by Israel. In the over 30-line text (composed of approximately 260 words), Mesha mentioned that Omri was the king of Israel who had oppressed Moab, but then Mesha says he “saw his desire upon” Omri’s son and upon “his house.” Mesha wrote:
I (am) Mesha, son of Chemosh-[...], king of Moab, the Dibonite—my father (had) reigned over Moab thirty years, and I reigned after my father,—(who) made this high place for Chemosh in Qarhoh [...] because he saved me from all the kings and caused me to triumph over all my adversaries. As for Omri, king of Israel, he humbled Moab many years (lit., days), for Chemosh was angry at his land. And his son followed him and he also said, “I will humble Moab.” In my time he spoke (thus), but I have triumphed over him and over his house, while Israel hath perished forever (Pritchard, 1958a, p. 209).
The Mesha stele cites Omri as the king of Israel, just as 1 Kings 16:21-28 indicates. Furthermore, it mentions Ahab, Omri’s son, in close connection with the Moabites, as does 2 Kings 3:4-6. In addition, both the stele and 2 Kings 3:4-6 list Mesha as King of Moab. Later in the inscription, the stele further names the Israelite tribe of Gad, and the Israelite God, Yahweh. While the references to the Israelite kings are quite notable in and of themselves, Pritchard has pointed out that this reference to Yahweh is one of the few that have been found outside of Palestine proper (1958b, p. 106).
Another important feature of the Moabite stone is the fact that it “gave the solution to a question that had gone unanswered for centuries.” The biblical record chronicles the Moabite subjugation under King David and King Solomon, and how the Moabites broke free at the beginning of the divided kingdom. However, the Bible also mentions (2 Kings 3:4) that Ahab was receiving tribute from Moab. As Alfred Hoerth has remarked: “Nowhere does the Bible state how or when Moab was reclaimed, for Ahab to be receiving such tribute. The Moabite Stone provides that information, telling, as it does, of Omri’s conquest from the Moabite point of view” (1998, p. 310).
From the end of the quoted portion of the Mesha Inscription (“while Israel hath perished forever”), it is obvious that Mesha exaggerated the efficacy of his conquest—a common practice among ancient kings. Pritchard noted that historians agree that “the Moabite chroniclers tended generally, and quite understandably, to ignore their own losses and setbacks” (1958b, p. 106). Free and Vos document the works of John D. Davies and S.L. Caiger, which offer a harmonization of the Moabite text with the biblical record. Davies, formerly of the Princeton University Seminary, accurately observed: “Mesha is in no wise contradicting, but only unintentionally supplementing the Hebrew account” (as quoted in Free and Vos, 1992, p. 161).
As a further point of interest, French scholar André LeMaire, in an extensive article in Biblical Archaeology Review, “identified the reading of the name David in a formerly unreadable line, ‘House of D...,’ on the Mesha Stele (or Moabite Stone)” [Price, 1997, p. 171; see also LeMaire, 1994, pp. 30-37]. Whether or not this identification is accurate, has yet to be verified by scholarly consensus. Even liberal scholars Finkelstein and Silberman, however, acknowledged LaMaire’s identification, along with the Tel Dan inscription documenting the House of David, and concluded: “Thus, the house of David was known throughout the region; this clearly validates the biblical description of a figure named David becoming the founder of the dynasty of Judahite kings in Jerusalem” (2001, p. 129).
Taken as a whole, the Moabite stone remains one of the most impressive pieces of evidence verifying the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. And, although this find has been around almost 150 years, it “still speaks” to us today (Hebrews 11:4).
Cyrus Cylinder


Cyrus, King of the Medo-Persian Empire, is among the most important foreign rulers of the Israelite nation. In fact, many Old Testament prophecies revolve around this monarch. The prophet Isaiah documented that the Babylonian Empire would fall to the Medes and the Persians (Isaiah 13; 21:1-10). Not only did Isaiah detail the particular empire to which the Babylonians would fall, but he also called Cyrus by name (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-5). Amazingly, Isaiah’s prophecy was made roughly 150 years before Cyrus was born (Isaiah prophesied in about 700 B.C.; Cyrus took the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.). To add to Cyrus’ significance, Isaiah predicted that Cyrus would act as the Lord’s “shepherd.” In fact, Isaiah recorded these words of the Lord concerning Cyrus: “And he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’ and to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid’ ” (Isaiah 44:28).
In 1879, Hormoz Rasam found a small clay cylinder (about nine inches long, and now residing in the British Museum) in the ancient city of Babylon. Upon the clay cylinder, King Cyrus had inscribed, among other things, his victory over the city of Babylon and his policy toward the nations he had captured, as well as his policy toward their various gods and religions. Price recorded a translation of a segment of the cuneiform text found on the cylinder:
...I returned to [these] sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been in ruins for a long time, the images which [used] to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I [also] gathered all their [former] inhabitants and returned [to them] their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus has brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their [former] chapels, the places which made them happy. May all the gods who I have resettled in their sacred cities ask daily Bel and Nebo for long life for me and may they recommend me...to Marduk, my lord, may they say thus: Cyrus, the king who worships you and Cambyses, his son, [...] all of them I settled in a peaceful place (pp. 251-252).
The policy, often hailed as Cyrus’ declaration of human rights, coincides with the biblical account of the ruler’s actions, in which Cyrus decreed that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and that all the exiled Israelites who wished to join in the venture had his permission and blessing to do so (Ezra 1:1-11). The little nine-inch-long clay cylinder stands as impressive testimony—along with several other archaeological finds—to the historical accuracy of the biblical text.


The archaeological evidence presented in this article that confirms biblical history is, in truth, only a tiny fraction of the evidence that could be amassed along these lines. In fact, volumes of hundreds of pages each have been produced on such matters, and with every new find comes additional information that will fill archaeology texts for decades to come. The more we uncover the past, the more we discover the truth that the Bible is the most trustworthy, historically accurate document ever produced. As the poet John Greenleaf Whittier once wrote:
We search the world for truth; we cull the good, the pure, the beautiful, from all the old flower fields of the soul; and, weary seekers of the best, we come back laden from our quest, to find that all the sages said is in the Book our mothers read.


* After subsequent research, information on the Baruch bullae points strongly toward the conclusion that the two seals with Baruch's name on them are not authentic. While this conclusion is disputed, the strength of these findings is such that we at Apologetics Press no longer recommend using these bullae as evidence of the Bible's historical accuracy. That said, there is still an overwhelming amount of archaeological evidence in support of the Bible that combines to make an irrefutable case that the Bible is inspired.


Dever, William (2001), What did the Bible Writers Know and When did They Know It? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Edersheim, Albert (no date), The Bible History—Old Testament, Book VI (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed (New York: Simon & Schuster).
Free, Joseph P. and Howard F. Vos (1992), Archaeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Hanson, K.C. (2002), Sennacherib Prism, [On-line], URL: http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/meso/sennprism1.html.
Hoerth, Alfred J. (1998), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Jacobs, Joseph and J. Frederick McCurdy (2002), “Moabite Stone,” Jewish Encyclopedia.com, [On-line], URL: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=680&letter=M.
King, Philip J. and Lawrence E. Stager (2001), Life in Biblical Israel (in the Library of Ancient Israel series), ed. Douglas A. Knight (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press).
Laughlin, John C.H. (2000), Archaeology and the Bible (New York: Routledge).
LeMaire, André (1994), “House of David Restored in Moabite Inscription,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 20[3]:30-37, May/June.
Luckenbill, Daniel D. (1989), Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon (London: Histories and Mysteries of Man Ltd.).
Mazar, Amihai (1992), Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (New York: Doubleday).
Moorey, P.R.S. (1991), A Century of Biblical Archaeology (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press).
Negev, Avraham and Shimon Gibson (2001), Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (New York: Continuum).
Price, Randall (1997), The Stones Cry Out (Eugene, OR: Harvest House).
Pritchard, James B., ed. (1958a), The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Pritchard, James B. (1958b), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Shanks, Hershel (1987), “Jeremiah’s Scribe and Confidant Speaks from a Hoard of Clay Bullae,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13[5]:58-65, September/October.
Shanks, Hershel (1995), Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography (New York: Random House).
Shanks, Hershel (1996), “Fingerprint of Jeremiah’s Scribe,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 22[2]:36-38, March/April.
Stern, Ephraim (2001), Archaeology and the Land of the Bible: The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Periods (732-332 B.C.E.) (New York: Doubleday).

All Religion Is Bad Because Some Is? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


All Religion Is Bad Because Some Is?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In logical discussions, a straw man is a weak, illogical position that is easily refuted. The more powerful, logical position is then coupled with the straw man, and both are said to fall together, yet the stronger position never actually is refuted by the opposition. For example, suppose a person stated that he owned a congenial, safe dog. The man’s neighbor argued that such was impossible. The opposing neighbor then recounted a story about a family’s pet pitbull that went berserk and killed someone. Then he stated that this incident proves that all pets are dangerous. Does his argument follow from the evidence? Of course not. He might have proven that one family’s pitbull was dangerous, but he did not prove that all pets are dangerous. In fact, it would be easy to multiply numerous examples of dangerous pets, but proving those specific pets to be dangerous could not logically be applied to all pets.
This idea must be understood when reading modern atheistic writings that purport to prove that the ideas of God and formulated religion are detrimental to society. Their argument, in a nutshell, goes like this: Since we can list examples of religions and religious fanatics that were (or are) harmful or detrimental to society, then all religions or ideas about God are harmful or detrimental to society.
So that the reader does not think that this author is, himself, constructing a straw man, let us consult the writings of a very popular, militant atheist by the name of Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens has been critically acclaimed as “one of the most prolific, as well as brilliant, journalists of our time” according to the London Observer. The Los Angeles Times stated that he is a “political and literary journalist extraordinaire.”
One of Hitchens’ most popular recent books is titled god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Notice that his subtitle is broad enough to lump all religions into it: Islam, New Testament Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Hitchens then proceeded, in the pages of his book, to list many horrible things that people have done in the name of “religion.” He said: “Religion has caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow” (2007, p. 6). Hitchens even titled chapter two, “Religion Kills.” In it he wrote: “Here, then, is a very brief summary of the religiously inspired cruelty I witnessed... ” (p. 18). He then recounted horror stories of several moral atrocities perpetrated in the name of “religion.” Furthermore, Hitchens stated: “If one comprehends the fallacies of any ‘revealed’ religion, one comprehends them all” (p. 126).
Can Hitchens and others document atrocities performed in the name of religion? Of course they can. Does this prove that all religion is false, and that if a person can spot a flaw or comprehend a fallacy in one religion, then he has effectively disproved the validity of all religions? Absolutely not. Can you imagine what would happen if this type of argument were used in other areas of life? Apply such thinking to food. Many foods are poisonous and kill people, thus all foods should be avoided. Apply it to electricity. It is the case that many people have died while using electricity, thus all electrical use is detrimental to society. Or apply it to activities like swimming. Many have drowned while swimming, thus all swimming leads to drowning and should be avoided. What if it were applied to surgery? Since it is true that thousands of people have died during surgery, or as a result of surgery, then all surgery should be avoided because it all leads to death or is in some way physically detrimental to society. Obviously, the ridiculous idea that all religion is detrimental to society because it can be proven that some religions are, should be quickly discarded by any honest, thoughtful observer.
New Testament Christianity does not stand or fall based on the validity of other competing religions. In fact, Hitchens and others are right to assert that many religions are detrimental to society. But they are wrong to lump true Christianity in with the rest of the useless lot. New Testament Christianity is unique, logically valid, historically documented, and philosophically flawless. It does not crumble with various other religions that are filled with “vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20). Instead, New Testament Christianity as personified in the life of Jesus Christ shines as the truth that makes men free (John 8:32).
[NOTE: It should not be understood that Hitchens and others attack Christianity solely using the straw man argument. They do present other, more specific arguments that are answered in other Apologetics Press materials. It should be observed, however, that the straw man is a frequently used, favorite tactic that needs to be understood and specifically refuted.]


Hitchens, Christopher (2007), god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve).

Systematically Understanding the Bible Better [Part 2] by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Systematically Understanding the Bible Better [Part 2]

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part 1 of this two-part series appeared in the February issue. Part 2 follows below and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]


On any given day, we may read a definition in a dictionary, a romantic love letter written by our spouse, a law passed by Congress, an article from a favorite satiric Web site, and the lyrics of an eccentric song we are contemplating downloading for our children. Obviously, if we really care to understand the meaning of these compositions, we are going to take note of the fact that they are categorically quite different. Love letters do not read like laws (at least we hope not); laws do not read like lyrics; and lyrics do not read like dictionaries. One particular preliminary principle of biblical interpretation to keep in mind is the need to pay special attention to the kind of composition. Are you reading laws, letters, prayers, and prologues penned in prose, or are you analyzing prophecies, lyrics, and speeches written in poetry?
The everyday language that people customarily use in writing (like that which you are reading at this very moment) is prose. This ordinary literary medium is distinguished from poetry, which may be characterized by its rhythm or rhyme (or some other regular, creative pattern), as well as varying kinds of figurative language. The Holy Spirit chose to communicate His message through man using varieties of both prose and poetry. If we want to succeed at effectively interpreting Scripture and arriving at the Truth that God communicated (and that He wants us to learn—1 Timothy 2:4), we need to identify the kind of composition Bible writers used in various sections of Scripture. Consider a few of these.


Much of the Bible should be recognized as a historical composition, full of real people, places, dialogue, and events, written primarily in ordinary language (prose). Genesis is principally a book of history that details the beginning of numerous things, including matter, energy, life, mankind, sin, and the nation of Israel.1 The book of Numbers is a historical book that describes many events that occurred during Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The 12 Old Testament books of Joshua through Esther are oftentimes referred to as “the books of history.” They chronicle Israel’s history from the time they entered the Promised Land through the period of the judges, the United Kingdom, the Divided Kingdom, and their return to Jerusalem following 70 years of captivity in Babylon.
More than half of the content of the New Testament could be categorized as history. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John detail many events in the life of Christ, while the book of Acts (written by Luke) serves as a brief history of the first 30 years of the Lord’s Church. Although these books only make up five of the 27 in the New Testament, their total content is more voluminous than the rest of the 22 books combined.


Though generally the Bible may be broken down into three law systems (Patriarchal Law, Law of Moses, and Law of Christ),2 a few books are largely made up of numerous laws and need to be recognized as such. The Bible writers frequently referred to the first five books of the Bible as “the Law” (or more precisely, the Law of Moses) due doubtlessly to the number of laws that Moses communicated to the Israelites. Exodus records the giving of the Ten Commandments, laws about the Passover (which was instituted in Exodus), tort laws, slavery laws, and more. Leviticus contains over 200 individual laws, which, as the name “Leviticus” would suggest, largely focus on matters pertaining to the levitical priesthood, the Temple, sacrifices, religious festivals, etc. Deuteronomy, the English name given to the fifth book of Moses,3 means “The Second Law,” and refers to the retelling of the laws of God to a new Israelite generation (since the former generation passed away during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness). Unlike Leviticus, which contains many laws unique to the levitical priesthood, the laws in Deuteronomy focus more on all of Israel. This “retelling of the Law” includes the Ten Commandments, as well as laws concerning families, the community, war, idolatry, and much more.
Reading and interpreting books made up primarily of law is quite different than digesting other kinds of composition, whether written in prose or a poetic style. Poetry obviously includes a great amount of figurative language, but so do many speeches, letters, and descriptions written in prose. Law is almost always written in clear, concrete language. As D.R. Dungan explained:
If law is being interpreted, we do not expect to find a single figurative expression. The author has evidently tried to be severely plain and definite. The very purpose of law precludes the thought of anything in the composition but the plainest and most direct form of speech. It has been the intent of him who gave the law to have his will carried out by the people. Hence we expect him to use every precaution to prevent any misunderstanding.4
Keep in mind, though all biblical books may generally be categorized as a particular kind of writing (e.g., history or law written in prose), they often still contain sections of other unique forms of writing. The Law of Moses, for example, contains speeches, descriptions, genealogies, songs, and much more. But primarily, they are books of law and history.


Although we refer to the 66 major sections of the English Bible as “books,” several of them are actually “epistles” (another term for “letter”).5 In fact, most of the New Testament “books” are epistles. One normally has to read only the first few lines of these documents to detect their epistle-type form (discovering the identity of the sender and the recipient, as well as a greeting and a prayer or statement of thanksgiving). Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude all wrote one or more New Testament epistles to many different people in a number of different locations for a variety of different reasons.
In their book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart acknowledged various differences in the New Testament epistles, but went on to highlight what “all of the epistles have in common” that readers need to especially note—“the crucial thing to note in reading and interpreting them”:
They are all what are technically called occasional documents (i.e., arising out of and intended for a specific occasion), and they are all from the first century. Although inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus belonging to all time, they were first written out of the context of the author to the context of the original recipients. It is precisely these factors—that they are occasional and that they belong to the first century—that make their interpretation difficult at times.
Above all else, their occasional nature must be taken seriously. This means that they were occasioned, or called forth, by some special circumstance, either from the reader’s side or the author’s…. Usually the occasion was some kind of behavior that needed correcting, or a doctrinal error that needed setting right, or a misunderstanding that needed further light.6
If we ever want to arrive at a proper understanding of the biblical epistles, it is paramount that we first identify their unique format (which is not a difficult task). Then, once we learn of their letter-like style, we should move on and actually read it like a letter (though an inspired letter). That is, read it in its entirety, paragraph by paragraph, asking questions all along the way, such as, “What is the occasion of this epistle? What is the writer getting at? What is this letter all about? What is its purpose?” In short, if we expect to understand the New Testament epistles, we must do more than thoughtlessly picking and choosing a few verses here and there to prove some point that we think they teach (when upon a fuller, thoughtful, and serious study, they may not).


The last 17 books of the English Old Testament make up what is frequently called “the books of prophecy.” Isaiah through Daniel are known as the “Major Prophets,” while Hosea through Malachi are referred to as the “Minor Prophets.”7 Revelation is the only book in the New Testament that fits into the category of prophecy (though it is also a letter—1:4-7; 22:21), as it contains inspired visions given to the apostle John in the first century about “things which must shortly take place” (1:1).
Most people seem to have the impression that the prophets were primarily future-tellers. Though they certainly foretold (by the revelation of God) many things that would soon, or eventually, come to past, primarily the prophets were forthtellers. That is, they were first and foremost public proclaimers of the will of God, including, and especially, reminding their audiences of (1) the blessings of submitting to God’s laws, and (2) the consequences of rejecting them.
The prophetical books present interpretation challenges for at least three notable reasons.8First, similar to some of the difficulties in properly understanding the New Testament epistles (as well as the Psalms), the Prophets generally offer few hints regarding their historical settings.9Thus, Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, and various handbooks can be quite helpful in ascertaining relevant historical background information. Second, many of the proclamations and prophecies in the last 17 books of the Old Testament are in the form of Hebrew poetry, which is significantly different than the customary poetic features (e.g., rhyme) of modern-day America. Third, the Old Testament prophets and the apostle John (in Revelation) used a great deal of figurative phrases and symbols, including apocalyptic language, which communicates important truths to the intended audience while veiling the message to outside forces (who could misuse the prophetic utterances against them). The book of Revelation, as well as various parts of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, etc., contain extensive amounts of apocalyptic language and symbols which conscientious 21st-century Bible students must handle with the greatest amount of care and concern. (To interpret such language literally, rather than figuratively, leads to a complete misunderstanding of the inspired message.)


Those unfamiliar with the Bible are likely surprised to learn how much poetry it contains. As mentioned earlier, the prophets (whose writings make up 17 of the 39 books of the Old Testament) often spoke and wrote their stirring messages in the form of poetry. Pieces of poetic history, prophecy, and lyric (including the songs of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15, the beautiful, brief, priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26, and the song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55) are sprinkled throughout many books of the Bible. Poetry dominates the composition style of Job through Song of Solomon so much so that when grouping books of the Bible together, many refer to these five as “The Books of Poetry.” Psalms and Song of Solomon, as their titles suggest, are obviously poetic, while about 90% of the book of Job is poetry.
Although “the division between prose and poetry in ancient Heb. is not precise,” thankfully “certain literary devices in poetry allow us to identify poems with a high level of confidence.”10In his helpful discussion of poetry in the New Bible Dictionary, T. Longman III highlighted three primary poetic devices frequently found in Scripture: terseness, imagery, and most notably, parallelism.11 Hebrew parallelism is a “peculiar repetition of form, and usually of thought also, in successive, or alternate lines.”12 Oftentimes the parallel thought is “synonymous,”13 while at other times there is an advancing thought (known as “synthetic parallelism”),14 or a contrasting thought (called “antithetical parallelism”).15
Except for the lyrics we hear from modern-day musicians, most Americans (including myself) generally seem to have little interest in poetry.16 No doubt, many today wonder why God chose to compose a significant amount of His written revelation to man in a poetic style. Surely He wasn’t simply trying to make life more difficult than it already is. In truth, there are at least two logical possibilities why God chose this style of composition. First, many ancient cultures highly prized poetic modes of expression. Thus, it made perfect sense for God’s messengers, at least occasionally, if not regularly, to compose poetic messages. Second, people tend to remember truths more easily when they are communicated in poetry. Even those of us who do not appreciate poetry as much as we probably should, must admit that truths conveyed with rhyme, rhythm, or some other poetic device are often much easier to remember.17 Furthermore, we must keep in mind that
God made use of this helpful phenomenon in an age where reading and writing were rare skills and where private ownership of written documents was virtually unknown. Thus the larger parts of the prophetic oracles were usually expressed in poetic form. People were used to poetry and could remember those prophecies; they would ring in their ears.18
One of the most important characteristics of poetry to keep in mind, especially as it relates to interpreting the Word of God fairly and accurately, is the amount of hyperbole it employs. Hyperbole is exaggeration. It is “language that describes something that is better or worse than it really is.”19 It serves the purpose of heightening the sense of what is being described. If a person hasn’t eaten all day, he could say that he is “really hungry.” Or, he mightsay it in a hyperbolic way: “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” Could he really eat an entire horse? No, and to interpret his words thusly would be to misunderstand his intended exaggeration. Similarly, when, for example, David proclaimed in the poetic language of Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies,” he employed strong, figurative language. Obviously, no babies literally speak lies from the moment that they are born. However, the wicked judges of David’s day had been unrighteous for many years—since rather early on in their lives (but not when they were innocent babies).20 As long as we are aware of the hyperbolic element of poetry, statements such as that found in Psalm 58:3 (and many other places in Scripture, especially in the poetic parts) will be rather easy to properly understand.


Imagine going for an afternoon stroll in Central Park and finding a small, faded piece of paper on the ground with these words: “Help my son before he dies.” In addition to being shocked by the message, most likely you would immediately begin asking a number of reasonable questions: Who wrote the note? Who was the note about? Who was the note written to? Was the note meant especially for you or someone else, or was it meant for just anyone who reads it? Did someone in Manhattan pen the note, or was it from someone outside of the city? Was there an original recipient of the note who already helped the boy and discarded the note afterwards, or is the writer of the note still waiting for someone to help his/her son?
These kinds of questions are similar to the ones Bible students need to ask in order to come to a better understanding of Scripture. If we attempt to conclude certain things about the biblical text without giving serious thought to the following “Four Who’s,” we will likely misunderstand some of the divinely revealed message.

Who is Writing?

If you knew that the note you found in Central Park was written by a deceased 20th-century playwright who worked on Broadway and specialized in fictional tragedy plays, you would become very relieved. First, since the famous writer has been dead for several years, there is likely no longer an immediate concern. Second, since the playwright often wrote tragedies about missing persons, the note you found may simply be from a fictional manuscript he produced that subsequently was lost.
Identifying certain things about the author helps to give context to his overall message. Of course, as stated in principle #3 (in Part 1 of this article), God is the ultimate Source of all of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).21 But God used humanity to communicate His Truth. If possible, Bible students need to learn something about the one whom God chose to write the particular Bible book they are studying. Does the penmen specifically identify himself?22 Is he identified by another writer?23 Was the penmen a king (like David), a fisherman (like Peter), or a physician (like Luke)? Was the writer living under Patriarchal Law, the Law of Moses, or the Law of Christ? If under Mosaic Law, in what particular period was he living? Was it, for example, during the time of the judges, the United Kingdom, or the Divided Kingdom? If during the Divided Kingdom, was the penmen writing from the Northern Kingdom (Israel) or the Southern Kingdom (Judah)? Was he writing during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel (852-841 B.C.), or did the penmen live more than two centuries later, during the reign of King Josiah of Judah (640-609 B.C.)? Questions such as these (and others) help give us a proper perspective when reading and interpreting the Scriptures.

Who is the Writer’s Original Audience?

If you saw a man write a note on December 31st that said, “I’ll see you next year,” you would understand the message much better if you knew something about the recipient. If the note, for example, was directed toward a colleague that the author normally saw five days a week, then you could understand that the message-writer most likely meant (in somewhat of a witty manner) that he would see his co-worker in the next day or two. On the other hand, if you knew the note was for a distant relative that the writer normally only saw once a year around the holidays, then you would obviously come to a different conclusion about the message.
The simple fact is, the 66 books of the Bible were written to a number of different people, who lived in different places, and at different times in history. Was the document originally directed to the Jews, to the Gentiles, or to Christians? Was it written to a single individual or to a local church? Deuteronomy, meaning “Second Law,” was written to the entire national of Israel—but to a different generation (cf. Numbers 14:26-38) than the one that originally received the Ten Commandments and the laws of Exodus and Leviticus. The repetition of Deuteronomy (e.g., Deuteronomy 5:1-22) makes perfect sense in light of the original recipients of the “Second Law.”
The four inspired accounts of the Gospel of Christ make more sense when we consider that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John had different audiences in mind while penning their narratives. In the introduction to his excellent article titled simply, “The Four Gospel Accounts,” Wayne Jackson observed:
When Jesus was crucified, the superscription on the cross above his head proclaimed, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” It was written in three tongues—Hebrew, Latin, and Greek—representing the three dominant cultures of the Mediterranean world when the New Testament was produced.
It is not without significance that there is a Gospel record designed for each of these societal elements. Matthew’s record was directed to the Hebrews, Mark was written for the Romans, and Luke was designed to address the Greeks. John’s narrative, however, was cosmopolitan in its thrust.24
Jackson proceeded to give evidences throughout the rest of his article proving his thesis, including, for example, the fact that, unlike Matthew, Mark must have had a non-Jewish audience in mind, since he “has to explain Hebrew traditions (7:3) and Palestinian conditions (11:13).”25 What’s more, the Latinisms within Mark indicate that he wrote for Roman readers.26In short, the individual books of the Bible come into much better focus when we consider their original recipients.

Who is Speaking?

This question is not, “Who is writing?” but rather “Who is speaking?” That is, who is the writer quoting? Is the speaker in the narrative an inspired spokesmen or an uninspired individual? Although the Bible contains many inspired quotations, including statements, sermons, and prophecies by Moses, David, Isaiah, Jesus, John the Baptizer, Peter, Stephen, Paul, etc., a careful distinction must be made between (a) an inspired statement recorded by an inspired writer, and (b) an uninspired statement recorded by an inspired writer.
Even though “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), not everything that the inspired writers recorded was a true statement. For example, after God created Adam, He told him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest he die (Genesis 2:17). Yet, when the serpent approached Eve, he “informed” her that she would not die if she ate of this forbidden fruit (3:4). Obviously, Satan was not inspired by God to lie and say, “You will not surely die.” However, hundreds of years later, when Moses wrote Genesis, recording the events that took place in Eden, he wrote by inspiration of God the lie that Satan told (cf. Luke 24:44; John 5:46). When Jesus healed a demoniac, some of the Pharisees accused Him of casting out demons, not by the power of God, but by the power of “Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons” (Matthew 12:24). Like Moses, Matthew did not write a lie, but merely reported a lie.
Bible students must keep in mind who is doing the talking in the particular text they are studying. The above examples are rather elementary: Satan’s statement and the Pharisees’ allegations clearly were false. But what about when statements are made by individuals who do not seem “as bad” as these? Oftentimes when attempting to defend a certain doctrine, a person will quote a verse from the book of Job and say, “See, that’s what it says…the book of Job says…therefore my doctrine is proven true.” Not long ago I read an article by a gentleman who was defending a doctrine by citing various verses in the book of Job. This man never indicated who made the statements; he simply cited all of them as being true statements. Sadly, such a handling of Scripture totally disregards one of the fundamental rules of interpretation—knowing who is speaking. One who studies Job must realize that it is an inspired book that contains many uninspired statements. For instance, we know that Job’s wife was incorrect when she told him to “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). We also know that many statements made by Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were incorrect. Nine of the 42 chapters in the book were speeches by these “miserable comforters” (16:2) whom God said had “not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (42:7). Clearly then, one never should quote these men and claim it as an inspired truth.
Furthermore, we must understand that even though Job was “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (1:1), there is no indication that his speeches were inspired. In fact, when Jehovah finally answered Job out of the whirlwind, He asked: “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (38:2).27 Obviously, God never would have asked such a rhetorical question had Job been inspired while stating the things he spoke in those chapters. Later, Job even said himself: “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (42:3; cf. 30:16-23). Clearly, then, these passages indicate that Job’s speeches were not inspired (unlike God’s speeches in chapters 38-41). So, as Bible students, let’s handle them carefully. Let’s remember to pay close attention to “who is speaking.”

Who is the Speaker’s Audience?

When Moses wrote that God said, “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood” (Genesis 6:14), these words were spoken to a particular audience of one. The command was not given to Adam, Abraham, Moses, or any Christian in the 1st century. The specific command was for a particular audience: “God said to Noah…” (6:13). God’s command to Noah was not part of the Old Law given to all Israelites, nor was it part of the Law of Christ to which everyone living today is subject. It was a specific command spoken by God to Noah, which Moses recorded approximately 1,000 years later for our learning (Romans 15:4), but not for our specific observance.
The apostle John recorded that in the last week of Jesus’ life, He said: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). He promised that “when the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth;… He will tell you things to come” (16:13). In order to understand properly this promise, we must consider the speaker’s audience; Jesus was talking to the apostles—His special disciples, including Peter, John, Thomas, and Philip.28 The promise of supernatural revelation and guidance was promised to them (cf. Acts 2:1-40), not to every follower of Jesus for the past 2,000 years. The fact is, “the faith…was once for alldelivered to the saints” in the first century (Jude 3), so that since that time Christians have had “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Since the Holy Spirit miraculously guided into “all truth” those to whom He was promised, Christians have been “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)—guided by the oral and written teachings of these men (cf. Ephesians 3:1-5). In short, paying close attention to the speaker’s original audience will go a long way in properly understanding Holy Writ.29


Effective communication is impossible without the participants taking into consideration the context in which statements are made. Imagine a mother sitting in a warm gym in the middle of winter watching her son Jimmy miss 10 consecutive shots in the first half of a basketball game. She turns to her husband and says, “He’s as cold as he can be.” The mother obviously means that her son “can’t hit anything”; he’s not shooting the basketball very well. A little while later, however, when the family walks outside of the gym into the frigid Wisconsin winter night, the mother says to her husband, “Jimmy’s freezing.” The husband immediately understands what she means given the current context of the comment. Mom is simply concerned about her son’s well-being and wants to get him warm as soon as possible.
Given the multiple meanings of most words, the flexibility of language, and the many figures of speech that can be found in languages all over the world, context is critical to understanding most everything.30 What exactly do we mean by “context”? Clinton Lockhart briefly defined the meaning of the word in his excellent book titled Principles of Interpretation:
The Context of a word or expression is that part of a discourse which is immediately connected with it, or that precedes or follows it. The parts which are closely connected are the immediate context; while those of another paragraph or chapter form the remote context. In most writings and utterances there is such a connection of thought in clauses, sentences, and paragraphs, that one part will to some extent indicate the meaning of another part.31
Perhaps no Bible verse has been misused more in modern times than Matthew 7:1—“Judge not, that you be not judged.” From church pews to barstools, from the “Bible belt” to Hollywood, Matthew 7:1 is ripped from its context and confidently quoted as proof that “Jesus said, ‘Don’t judge.’ Don’t tell anyone they’re doing wrong at anytime.”32 But is that really what Jesus meant? Actually, the context proves otherwise. Consider how a close look at the surrounding verses and chapters help to correct abuses of Matthew 7:1 and to give its true meaning.
Throughout Matthew chapters 5-7 (often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus publicly criticized the Jewish scribes and Pharisees for their self-righteousness and abuse of the Old Testament. Near the beginning of this sermon, Jesus stated: “For I say to you, that unless your right­eousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The unrighteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was at the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus wanted His audience to understand that self-righteousness would not be permitted in the kingdom of heaven; rather, it would lead to “condemnation” in hell (5:20; cf. 23:14,33). A follower of God must be “poor in spirit” (5:3), not filled with pride. He must love his enemies, not hate them (5:44). He is to do good deeds, but only to please God, not men (6:1-4). The scribes and Pharisees were guilty of wearing “righteousness” on their sleeves, rather than in their hearts (6:1-8; cf. 23:1-36). It was in the midst of such strong public rebuke that Christ proclaimed:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5).
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus instructed us not to do charitable deeds…“as the hypocrites do” (to be seen of men). In 6:5-8, Jesus told us not to pray…“like the hypocrites” (to be heard of men). In 6:16-18, Jesus taught us not to fast…“like the hypocrites” (to be seen of men). Likewise, in Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus was teaching us that judging another is wrong…when that judgment is hypocritical.
But, what if we are doing charitable deeds to be seen of God? Then by all means, “do good to all men” (Galatians 6:10)! What if our prayers are led from a pure heart and with righteous intentions? Should we pray? Most certainly (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Can we fast today, if the purpose of our fasting is to be seen of God and not men? Yes. But what about passing judgment? In Matthew 7:1-5, did Jesus condemn all judging, or, similar to the above examples, did He condemn only a certain kind of judging? Matthew 7:5 provides the answer. After condemning unrighteous judgments (7:1-4), Jesus instructed a person to “first remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” He was saying, in essence, “Get your life right first. Then, in love, address your brother’s problem.” This is consistent with what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (2:4). God never intended for Christians to be recluses who never interacted with those around them (Luke 19:10; Galatians 6:1). Rather, He gave us the responsibility of helping others by lovingly correcting them when they sin. In Matthew 7, Jesus was not suggesting that a person can never judge. He was saying, when you judge, judge righteously (as when we pray, fast, and do good deeds—do it without hypocrisy—John 7:24). Incidentally, Jesus already had judged the Pharisees. Thus, He obviously was not teaching that judging is inherently wrong.
Further proof that Jesus did not condemn all judging can be found throughout the rest of chapter 7. In fact, in the very next verse after His statements about judging, Jesus implicitly commanded that His followers make a judgment. He said: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (7:6). Disciples of Christ must judge as to who are “dogs” and who are “hogs.” Otherwise, how can we know when not to give that which is holy to “dogs”? Or how can we know when not to cast our pearls before “swine”? Jesus said we must judge between those who are “worthy” and those who are like dogs and pigs (cf. Matthew 10:12-15; Acts 13:42-46).33 A few verses later, Jesus again implied that His disciples must make a judgment.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:15-20).
Question: How can we “watch out” for false prophets if we cannot make judgments as to who the false prophets are? According to Jesus, determining the identity of false teachers involves inspecting “their fruits” and making judgments—righteous judgments. The simple fact is, those who teach that Jesus was condemning all judging in Matthew 7:1 are guilty of ignoring the context of the passage (as well as the numerous verses throughout the rest of Scripture which teach that sincerely judging the sinful lifestyles of others is necessary).34 In short, observing the context of any Bible statement is critical to understanding it properly.


Nothing in the world is more important to comprehend than the words that God revealed in written form for our eternal benefit. Millions of precious souls around the globe may have access to the Bible, but they often do not know where to begin. Their honest reaction to the idea of reading the Bible is similar to the reaction of a student walking into his first algebra class: intimidated and confused. They know that the Bible is a book, but that is about the extent of their knowledge.
We believe that a person can systematically understand the Bible better by taking special note of the eight elementary truths and preliminary principles discussed in this article. Let’s help interested individuals understand (1) the need to be fair with the Bible, (2) that the Bible claims to be divinely inspired, (3) that the Bible possesses the attributes of Divine inspiration, (4) the need for a reliable Bible translation, (5) the importance of breaking down the Bible in order to build up comprehension, (6) the need to recognize the style of composition, (7) the importance of identifying “four who’s” of any text, and (8) the significance of paying special attention to the context of all biblical statements.


1 Genesis chapter 1 details the history of the six days of Creation. Chapter 3 describes the history of the Fall of Man. Chapters 6-9 record the history of Noah and the Flood, while chapter 11 gives various historical details of what occurred at the Tower of Babel. Although some liberal scholars have attempted to rationalize a non-historical view of Genesis 1-11 in an attempt to hang on to central components of the Theory of Evolution (e.g., billions of years of time), the fact is, critical analysis of Genesis (and especially of Genesis 1-11), confirms what most people can easily detect from even a superficial investigation of the book—it was written as a real history, and not as a myth or an exaggerated legend. For more information, see “Genesis 1 thru 11—Mythical or Historical?” Apologetics Press, www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=451.
2 Discussed in Part 1 of this article.
3 “Deuteronomy” is derived from the Greek name (Deuteronomion) given to the fifth book of Moses in the Septuagint. The Hebrew title for Deuteronomy is Hadebharim, meaning “the words,” which is derived from the first line of the book.
4 D.R. Dungan (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light, reprint), p. 166.
5 Admittedly, some make various distinctions between letters and epistles (contending that epistles, rather than letters, are more formal literary works that were written more for posterity). It is not my purpose to make this distinction here, nor to propose which New Testament epistles are more or less formal. The purpose here is more general in nature.
6 Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart (2014), How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), p. 60, italics in orig.
7 The “Minor” prophetical books are known as such, not because they are less important, but because they are much shorter in overall length.
8 Admittedly, other challenges exist, including the difficulty in attempting to discover the original chronological order of the various oracles.
9 Their cultural, political, and overall historical backgrounds were vastly different from our own. The three centuries covered in the prophetical books of Isaiah-Malachi (760 B.C.-460 B.C.) were characterized by “unprecedented political, military, economic, and social upheaval” (Fee and Stuart, p. 197).
10 T. Longman III (1996), “Poetry,” New Bible Dictionary (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity), p. 938.
11 Ibid., pp. 938-939.
12 Clinton Lockhart (1915), Principles of Interpretation (Fort Worth: S.H. Taylor), p. 55.
13 E.g., Psalm 19:1.
14 E.g., Psalm 19:7-11.
15 E.g., Proverbs 12:1-2.
16 I am not opposed to poetry; it’s simply not a skill or passion of mine. Those who are more creative and artistic than myself doubtlessly have a much greater appreciation for poetry in general. Hopefully this admiration and passion will lead those individuals to be even more appreciative of the beauty of biblical poetry through which God communicated the most important and beautiful truths the world has ever known.
17 Think of the many songs you know “by heart.”
18 Fee and Stuart, p. 205.
19 “Hyperbole” (2016), Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperbole.
20 For a brief discussion on whether babies are born sinners, see Moises Pinedo (2009), “Are Children Born with Sin?” Apologetics Press, www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=2697. See also Kyle Butt (2003), “Do Babies Go To Hell When They Die?” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1201.
21 When the New Testament writers quoted from an Old Testament writer, they could truthfully say, “the Holy Spirit says” (Hebrews 3:7; cf. Psalm 95:7-11), even when the Old Testament writer did not mention the Holy Spirit in the text, because God is the ultimate Source of the information. Though God used the vocabulary and style unique to the various inspired writers, He did so with complete control over the words which they wrote (cf. Samuel 23:2; 1 Corinthians 2:13). Indeed, just as Jesus and the New Testament writers had complete trust in even the smallest portions of the Old Testament (cf. John 10:35; Psalm 82:6; Matthew 22:43-44; Psalm 110:1), we should have complete trust in both the Old and New Testaments.
22 Cf. Jeremiah 1:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 3:17.
23 Bible writers throughout Scripture credited Moses with writing the first five books of the Old Testament (Joshua 8:32; 2 Chronicles 34:14; John 1:17; Romans 10:5).
24 Wayne Jackson (2016), “The Four Gospel Accounts,” Christian Courier, September, p. 1.
25 Ibid., p. 2.
26 Ibid. “See 12:42 where Mark converts the Greek ‘two mites’ [lepta] into the Roman term ‘farthing,’” etc. (pp. 2-3).
27 All bold text in Scripture quotations in this article was added for emphasis.
28 John 13:5,6,22-23; 14:5,8; 16:17,29.
29 For a logical and thorough treatment of “when an account of action in the Bible can be used correctly to show that some action is binding on men living today” (p. i), see Thomas B. Warren’s book When is an “Example” Binding? (Moore, OK: National Christian Press).
30 There are a few areas where “context” may not be as crucial to understanding a given statement, including various proverbs where “the preceding or following parts may not furnish any clue to the meaning of any sentence, or word in the sentence” (Lockhart, p. 108).
31 Lockhart, p. 108, italics in orig.
32 Of course, one cannot help but immediately ask if those who parrot this claim actually disobey their own interpretation and “judge” someone whom they deem as “judging” them.
33 For a brief explanation of Matthew 7:6, see Wayne Jackson (2017), “Concerning ‘Dogs’ and ‘Hogs,’ Christian Courier, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1343-concerning-dogs-and-hogs.
34 1 Corinthians 5:1-11; Ephesians 5:11; Romans 16:17; 2 John 9-11.
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