"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Paul's Second Prayer For The Ephesians (3:14-21) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"

             Paul's Second Prayer For The Ephesians (3:14-21)


1. In the previous lesson we saw where Paul was about to start his
   second prayer for the Ephesians in Ep 3:1...
   a. However, he interrupts himself when describing himself as "the
      prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles"
   b. Lest they be troubled at whatever tribulations he endured as a
      prisoner (Ep 3:13), Paul stresses the fact that:
      1) His apostleship to the Gentiles (even with its tribulations)
         was a gift to him through the wonderful grace of God 
         - Ep 3:2-7
      2) His purpose was to "preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable
         riches of Christ" - Ep 3:8-11
      3) That in Christ he had "boldness and access with confidence
         through faith" in Christ - Ep 3:12

2. Having completed his brief interruption, in Ep 3:14-21 Paul now 
   continues with his second prayer for the Ephesians (the first having
   been in Ep 1:15-23)

3. The phrase "For this reason..." (Ep 3:14; also 3:1) indicates 
   that Paul expresses his prayer in response to those things mentioned 
   earlier, such as:
   a. The wonderful salvation by grace through faith - Ep 2:1-10
   b. The work by Christ on the cross whereby Gentiles can now become 
      "fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise" 
      - Ep 2:11-22; 3:6

[With gratitude in his heart for God's grace toward the Gentiles, Paul 
now prays in their behalf, starting with...]


      1. In this prayer, Paul "bows the knee", a posture in prayer 
         commonly found throughout the Scriptures 
         - cf. Lk 22:41; Ac 9:40; 20:36; 21:5
      2. However, there does not appear to be an "official posture" when 
         it comes to prayer...
         a. Solomon "stood" when he prayed to dedicate the temple 
            - 1 Kin 8:22
         b. David "sat" before the Lord when he prayed about the future 
            of his kingdom - 1 Chron 17:16
         c. Jesus "fell on His face" when He prayed in Gethsemane 
            - Mt 26:39

      1. The pattern and example of prayer in the New Testament church 
         a. "To" the Father - Ep 3:14; 5:20
         b. "In the name of" or "through" the Lord Jesus Christ 
            - Ep 5:20; Col 3:17
         c. And "in" the Spirit - Ep 6:18; Jude 20; cf. Ro 8:26-27
      2. There is little evidence of anyone praying "to" Jesus, and even
         less of praying "to" the Holy Spirit; clearly it is the Father
         to whom we are to address our prayers - cf. Mt 6:9

[To the Father, then, Paul addresses his prayer.  The prayer itself is
divided into three parts (indicated in the Greek by the word "hina"),
and is like a staircase with three steps, each step leading to the

II. THE "PETITION" (16-19)

      1. Paul had mentioned earlier about God's power "toward us who
         believe" - Ep 1:19
      2. Now he prays that the Ephesians might be "strengthened with
      3. Such strength is "according to the riches of His glory"
      4. God's strength is administered "through His Spirit in (lit.,
         into) the inner man"
         a. A Christian's body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit who is
            in you" - cf. 1Co 6:19
         b. One design of the indwelling Spirit is to help one "put to
            death the deeds of the body" - cf. Ro 8:11-13
      5. But the purpose of such "strengthening" by the Spirit in our
         text is for a different purpose, first hinted at in verse
         a. First, that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith"
            1) To the degree God strengthens (by the Spirit) the
               believer's "inner man", so it is said that Christ Himself
               indwells the heart of the believer
            2) Thus the Spirit is the instrumental agent by which Christ
               indwells the believer, just as Ep 2:22 suggests the
               Spirit is instrumental agent by which God inhabits His
         b. Second, that they may be "rooted and grounded in love"
            1) One work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer
               is to instill the love of God in the heart - cf. Ro 5:5;
               Ga 5:22
            2) When strengthened by God through the Spirit in the inner
               man, one becomes "rooted and grounded in love"

   [Strengthened by God through His Spirit, so that Christ is dwelling
   in our hearts and we are well-established "in love", the next step
   is ...

      1. "may be ABLE..."
         a. The word "able" means "to be eminently able; to have full
         b. Thus the prayer for strength in the first part of the prayer
            - Ep 3:16
      2. "...to comprehend"
         a. I.e., to understand, to grasp
         b. As Paul says later in verse 19, "to know..."
      3. It is the "love of Christ" that Paul is praying that we be 
         strong to grasp...
         a. He wants us to know everything about this wonderful love 
            ("width and length...")
         b. But this love of Christ is something which "passes 
            1) How is it possible for us to "know" the love of Christ, 
               if it "passes knowledge"?
            2) Only in the sense that no matter how much we learn about 
               Christ's love, even with the strength God's Spirit 
               provides, there is always much more to grasp!
            3) "...there is a real knowledge of Christ's love possible 
               to us, a knowledge that is capable of increase as we are
               the more strengthened by power in the inner man, while a 
               complete or exhaustive knowledge must ever remain beyond 
               our capacity." (The Expositor's Greek Testament, W. 
               Robertson Nicoll, editor, vol. 3, p. 316)

   [It is only as we begin to know the love of Christ that passes 
   knowledge that we are beginning to experience the last step for which
   Paul is praying...]

      1. This is the objective, the goal, of all that was said 
      2. One begins to be filled with "all the fullness of God"...
         a. As they are strengthened by God (i.e., the Father)
         b. Which is through His Spirit (i.e., the Holy Spirit)
         c. Whereby in their hearts may dwell the Christ (i.e., the Son)
      3. With the help of the all members of the Godhead, then, one is
         "filled" the more they begin to comprehend the wonderful "love
         of Christ" ("For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead
         bodily" - cf. Col 2:9)

[Such is the petition that Paul makes on behalf of the Ephesians...

   1. That they be strengthened by the Spirit of God
   2. So they can comprehend the love of Christ
   3. And thus be filled with all the fullness of God

Is God "able" to fulfill this petition?  There is no doubt in Paul's
mind, as we see how he closes the prayer...]


      1. As Paul ascribes praise to God, he does so for what he 
         confident God is able to do
      2. As expressed by Paul, God's "ability to do" is...
         a. "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (far
            beyond our imagination!)
         b. "according to the power that works in us" - cf. Ep 1:19; 
      1. Paul sees "the church" as the means by which much glory can be 
         given to God
      2. Certainly if Paul's prayer is answered...
         a. That "all the saints" may be able to comprehend the love of 
            Christ - Ep 3:18
         b. That they may all be 'filled with all the fullness of God" - 
            Ep 3:19
         ...the church will have the potential to bring much glory to
         God! - cf. 2Th 1:11-12
      3. Of course, such potential is to come only "by Christ Jesus";
         but if it does, then it will be "throughout all ages, world
         without end"!


1. Do we desire to give God glory throughout all ages, world without
   a. We ought to, in view of all things we have considered in Ep 1-3
   b. If so, then it must be "by Jesus Christ", and that can be only as
      1) Come to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge
      2) Allow ourselves to "be filled with all the fullness of God"

2. How can we be sure to be filled with all the fullness of God?
   a. For one who is already a Christian, we should follow Paul's
      example and start with prayer (such as the one in our text)...
   b. For one who is not a Christian, then one needs first to become a
      child of God - cf. Ga 3:26-27

In our next lesson, we will begin to consider how we can "walk" so as to
bring glory to God...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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En-Gedi Scrolls and the Accuracy of the Bible by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


En-Gedi Scrolls and the Accuracy of the Bible

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Any honest person who has studied the process of how ancient books have come down to us in modern times knows this remarkable fact: the Bible is the most accurately transmitted book in the history of the world. Skeptics and those of other religions (such as Islam) often attempt to cast doubt on the biblical text by claiming that the words that were in the originals have been lost over thousands of years of copying. This accusation is patently false. The accurate and meticulous transmission of the 66 books we call the Bible is nothing short of divine. To document this truth would take entire volumes of thousands of pages each, which has been done, but we have no room to repeat it here. One good summary article of that vast research is the AP article “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible Has Not Been Corrupted.”1
One astounding fact about the Bible’s transmission is that new information continues to come to light, silencing the skeptic, and bolstering an already irrefutable case. One such discovery was made in 1970 near the area where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. A group of scrolls known as the En-Gedi scrolls came to light, but were badly damaged by fire and were unreadable with the technology available at the time.2 While the dating methods used to date the scrolls are not completely reliable, experts place the date of the writing near A.D. 300. That means the scrolls predate the Masoretic Text from which the King James Version was translated by about 500 years.
By using technology known as volume cartology, computer scientist Brent Seales and others were able to “map” the text and identify the writing. When they did, they found an ancient Hebrew text that coincided perfectly with the Masoretic Text of Leviticus 1:1-8. Newitz wrote:
What’s incredible about these chapters, according to archaeologist Emanuel Tov, is that they are virtually identical to the medieval Masoretic Text, written hundreds of years later. The En-Gedi scroll even duplicates the exact paragraph breaks seen later in the medieval Hebrew. The only difference between the two is that ancient Hebrew had no vowels, so these were added in the Middle Ages.3
Were this situation to have occurred with some other ancient text (such as the Quran or even the texts of ancient writers such as Herodotus or Thucydides), scholars would hail the event as unprecedented. In truth, however, this is a “run-of-the-mill” normal occurrence for the biblical text. The accusation that the biblical text has been miscopied or corrupted, in light of such evidence as the En-Gedi scrolls, is vacuous and unsustainable.
Emanuel Tov went on to say this about the En-Gedi text: “[It is] 100 percent identical with the medieval texts, both in its consonants and in its paragraph divisions…. [T]he scroll brings us the good news that the ancient source of the medieval text did not change for 2,000 years.” Newitz added, “In other words, the Jewish community managed to retain some of the exact wording in passages from their biblical texts over centuries, despite massive cultural upheavals and changes to their languages.”4
Indeed, such text preservation is unparalleled when compared to all other ancient documents in the world. We should recognize and appreciate the Providential care by which the biblical text has come down to us. And we should let that knowledge spur us on to study the Holy Bible, knowing that the words we read are those that God inspired.


1 Dave Miller (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible Has Not Been Corrupted,” Reason & Revelation, 35[8]:86-89,92, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5196&topic=103. For more extensive information, see Neil Lightfoot (2003), How We Got the Bible  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), third edition.
2 Annalee Newitz, “One of the World’s Oldest Biblical Texts Read for the First Time,” https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/scholars-use-x-rays-to-read-ancient-biblical-text-for-the-first-time/.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.

God's Patience by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


God's Patience

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Some people picture God as akin to a miserly dictator Who is eager to find a cause to crush the vile human race He created. Is that the way the Bible portrays God? Romans 2:4 reads: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 15:5 emphasizes God’s patience: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” Peter wrote: “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).
God is patient because He does not want anyone to be eternally lost. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). One meaning of “patience,” according to the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, is “the capacity for calm, self-possessed waiting.” God has promised that there will be a day when sinners will receive their final condemnation (2 Peter 2:9; 3:7), but God is waiting in order that more sinners might accept and obey the Gospel. Wayne Jackson noted biblical examples of this patience:
The Lord’s wrath is not inflicted impulsively. Rather, history repeatedly has demonstrated that God exercises “much long-suffering” toward those deserving of punishment (Romans 9:22). His patience was demonstrated to the generation of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:3). He longed to spare corrupt Sodom (Genesis 18:26ff). Jehovah revealed himself to Moses as a God who is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6; cf. Psalms 103:8). The Lord was even long-suffering with a wretch as vile as Ahab (1 Kings 21:29). For centuries He was tolerant with the arrogant and stiff-necked nation of Israel (Nehemiah 9:17) [2000].
We desperately need God’s patience, just as the apostle Paul did. Paul was given the opportunity to be saved, despite the fact that he was “the chief ” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16; see Nicks, 1981, p. 190). Potential for salvation rests in God’s patience. Rather than instantly destroying people when they sin, He providentially gives people opportunities and encouragement that should lead to repentance (Titus 2:11). God expects us to request His continued patience as we make mistakes (1 John 1:9; Luke 11:4), and He shows His patience by continually forgiving us of our sins when we do (based on the sacrifice of Christ’s blood and our sincere obedience to His will; see 1 John 1:7).
We should emulate the patience of God. Romans 2:6-7 emphasizes the necessity of patience in the lives of Christians: “[God] will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (emp. added). Paul instructed Christians to be patient: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, emp. added; cf. Christ’s parable of the impatient servant in Matthew 18:23-35). People cannot be saved unless they have patience, because without patience, the Christian’s work is impossible (see Ecclesiastes 7:8; Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:24; James 1:4). Patience also is necessary because other essential Christian virtues, including faith, hope, and joy, are dependent on it (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3; 15:4; Colossians 1:11; see Nicks, 1981, pp. 191-192). William Barclay observed:
If God had been a man, He would have taken His hand and wiped out this world long ago; but God has that patience which bears with all our sinning and which will not cast us off. In our lives, in our attitude to and dealings with our fellow men, we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude of God toward ourselves (1958, p. 56).
God’s patience is balanced by His perfect justice. Unforgiven sin will be punished, but God’s patience allows time for repentance (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:9; see Colley, 2004). Isaiah 30:18 makes it clear: “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is God of justice; blessed are those who wait for Him.” God’s generous patience should motivate us to obey Him.


Barclay, William (1958), The Daily Study Bible: Letters to Galatians and Ephesians (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Colley, Caleb (2004), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.
Illustrated Oxford Dictionary (2003), (New York: Oxford), revised edition.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), “The Righteousness of God Revealed,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/feature/february2000.htm.
Nicks, Bill (1981), “Patience,” Continuing in the Doctrine, ed. Bill Nicks, M.H. Tucker, John Waddey (Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions).

Who Can Baptize Another Person? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Who Can Baptize Another Person?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

When a person reads through the New Testament, he is struck by how much the 27 books have to say about water baptism. When the Jews on the Day of Pentecost asked Peter what they needed to do to be right with God, Peter told them to “repent and let every one of you be baptized…for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). After Saul of Tarsus had spent three days praying and fasting, Ananias came to him and said: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Paul, in the book of Romans, explained that in the waters of baptism we come in contact with the death of Christ (Romans 6:3), and it is through that contact that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7). That is why Paul could write in Galatians, “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). The importance of baptism in God’s plan of salvation is repeatedly stressed in the New Testament. [For a thorough dealing of this topic, see Lyons and Butt, n.d.]
After realizing the importance of baptism, many honest-hearted truth seekers have asked several sincere questions. One of those questions often is: “Who can baptize another person?” In recent months, we at Apologetics Press have been asked this question on several occasions. It is obvious that it is a question that springs from a genuine desire to be right with God. The place to go for the answer, of course, is the New Testament—the very place we learned about God-ordained baptism in the first place.
When we turn to the New Testament, we learn several things about the person doing the baptizing. The primary lesson learned is that the personal characteristics of the individual doing the baptizing have no bearing on the effectiveness of the baptism. In other words, it does not matter who does the baptizing, as long as the baptism is complete immersion in water (Romans 6:4; Acts 8:38), in the proper name (Matthew 28:19; Acts 19:1-9), and for the proper reason (Acts 2:38). In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote to a group of Christians that were dividing themselves into factions based on their favorite preachers. Some were saying they were of Paul, others of Cephas, others of Apollos, and others of Christ. Paul chastised them for claiming allegiance to any person other than Christ, and he stated: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name…. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). Paul was not minimizing the importance of baptism in this text (see Lyons, 2003), he was minimizing the importance of the person who does the baptizing. He was not saying that baptism is not a part of God’s plan of salvation; he was saying that the person who does the baptizing does not make a difference. The effectiveness of the Corinthians’ baptism was not based on the characteristics of the person who baptized them, but was based on their baptism as it related to God’s overall plan of salvation.
In a similar passage in John 4:1-3, we read that “the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John.” The next verse of the text states, “though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples.” If the characteristics of the one doing the baptizing were important, then Jesus would certainly have been involved in the actual baptizing process of all his disciples due to His perfect, sinless life. Yet what we see in these verses is that the effectiveness of the baptism of those in John 4 was not lessened or diminished because the apostles did the baptizing instead of Jesus.


Some have looked into the New Testament and concluded that every instance of baptism in the New Testament is one in which a Christian man does the baptizing. Thus, they have concluded, that in order to be properly baptized, a person must be baptized by a man who is a Christian. The principle of following biblical examples and precedents is often an important key to determining biblical authority for certain actions, when explicit commands and other information have not been given. In this case, however, there is major problem with this approach. What if a person claimed to be a Christian, but was not, and baptized people while claiming to be a Christian? Would the fact that he was not a Christian negate the validity of the baptisms that he performed? Think through that scenario. Suppose a person was baptized by this charlatan. That person then went out and baptized 100 people who each baptized 100 people, who each baptized 100, etc. If the original person who was baptized by the fraudulent “Christian” later found out that the man was not a Christian, would that negate the baptism of all those who were subsequently baptized? Certainly not.
Furthermore, how “faithful” would a person need to be in order to be eligible to baptize people? It is most likely the case that many people were baptized by Judas Iscariot in John 4:1-3 when Jesus’ disciples were doing the baptizing. Did all those who were baptized by the “son of perdition” need to be re-baptized based on the traitorous character of Judas? No. The truth of the matter is, it would be virtually, if not actually, impossible to verify the “saved” status of all those across the globe who have baptized or will baptize people. Fortunately, the characteristics of the one doing the baptizing have no bearing on the legitimacy of the baptism. When Paul instructed the 12 men in Acts 19:1-9 to be re-baptized, he did not ask them who baptized them, or what were the characteristics of the person who baptized them. He asked them about their baptism, not their baptizer.
In addition, some have gone so far as to say that the person who baptizes another person must have some type of “official” status in the church as a “pastor” or “ordained” minister. When we look into the New Testament, however, we do not see any such stipulation. In fact, the episode of Saul of Tarsus’ conversion offers some pertinent insight into this question. After Saul had seen the Lord on the Road to Damascus, he was instructed to go into the city and wait for a person named Ananias to come to him. In the texts of the narrative, there is no indication that Ananias held any type of official leadership position in the church. The text says he was “a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews” (Acts 22:16), but there is no reference that he was an elder, a deacon, and certainly not an apostle. The suggestion that only an “official” of the church can baptize falls prey to the same fallacy inherent in the idea that only a Christian man can baptize.


The New Testament makes a clear distinction between the roles of men and women in the Lord’s Church (see Miller, 2005). [NOTE: It is important to understand that different gender roles in no way imply a different status or value, see Butt, 2011.] Based on that distinction, some have wondered if women are permitted to baptize, since the Bible teaches that men are to be the public teachers and elders in the church. In addition, it is the case that every example we have in the New Testament of a person being baptized has a male doing the baptizing. Does that mean that a woman cannot baptize, or that a baptism that might be performed by a woman would be nullified?
If we are correct that the characteristics of the baptizer do not matter (as we have shown from previous biblical passages), then we must conclude that the gender of the person would not matter either. One can easily envision a scenario in which a non-Christian couple, that might be geographically isolated from others, studies the Bible and learn the importance of contacting Jesus’ blood through water baptism. Upon learning this, they immediately want to be baptized, but there is no Christian man available to perform the baptism. Could they baptize each other? Yes, they could. In fact, not too long ago, a sincere couple contacted our office with that very question. They had been members of what they called “faith only” churches all their lives. When they realized the importance of baptism, they approached several of their religious friends, none of whom were Christians. Since they could find no one to baptize them, they wrote us asking if the Bible permits such a couple to baptize each other. We explained just what has been explained in this article, that the characteristics of the baptizer do not matter, and that such reciprocal baptism would be permissible. We did, however, advise them to find a body of the Lord’s church nearby and begin to assemble and work with the church. In addition, suppose that a group of women, in which no men were available, wanted to become Christians. Would it be permissible for them to baptize each other? Yes, it would.
What do we do with the idea that all the baptisms that are recorded in the New Testament were performed by men? When looking to the New Testament for approved examples, we must be sure that we do not carry the example farther than it is intended to be taken. We do not want to bind where God has not bound. For instance, the apostles met in an upper room to partake of the Lord’s Supper with Jesus, and Paul in an upper room in Troas in Acts 20. Does that mean that we need to eat the Lord’s Supper and preach in upper rooms? No. Those were incidental details that surrounded the relevant example of eating the Lord’s Supper and preaching (see Warren, 1975). As this idea relates to baptism, the examples in the Bible show us (among other things) that (1) immersion is the “mode” of baptism, (2) a believing person is the candidate for baptism, and (3) the remission of sins to contact the blood of Christ is the reason for baptism. But the examples are not given in an attempt to dictate every aspect of baptism. For instance, there is no case in which a person was baptized in a heated baptistery in a church building. Does that mean that those who are baptized in such a way have been “unscripturally” baptized? No, it simply means that the aspects of baptism that are different from the examples in the New Testament can been shown through proper study of the New Testament to be irrelevant. Again, every person in the New Testament who is recorded to have baptized a person was a Jewish male. Does that mean that only Jewish men can perform scriptural baptisms? No, the fact that they were Jewish was incidental and irrelevant to the purpose and effectiveness of the baptisms they performed. The gender of the baptizer has nothing to do with God’s recognition of a scriptural baptism.

All Things Are Lawful, But All Things are Not Helpful

In 1 Corinthians 10:23, the apostle Paul stated: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.” Paul did not mean that things like sexual immorality were lawful for him (1 Corinthians 9:21). He meant that there were (and are) some things, like eating meat that was offered to idols, that were lawful to a Christian, but even though such things might be lawful, there may be other circumstances to consider that would be reasons not to engage in the practice. In the context, Paul says that since an idol is not really a “god,” but is merely a stone or clump of metal, then any food offered to such a thing is not in some way spiritually contaminated. He concludes that if we know that an idol is nothing, then eating meat offered to a clump of wood or stone has no spiritual significance. Thus, it is “lawful” for a Christian to eat meat offered to idols. He qualifies that statement, however, by saying that some people in Corinth did not understand that idols were not really spiritual powers. These Christians still believed that such food was contaminated. Thus, it could be the case that a Christian who knew eating meat offered to idols was lawful might cause a weaker, less knowledgeable Christian to stumble. Paul then concluded that, even though eating meat offered to idols is technically “lawful,” under certain circumstances it would not be the most “helpful” or wisest course of action.
This passage relates to our baptism discussion in the following way. In the previous sections, we discussed the fact that there is nothing inherently wrong with the scenario in which those who are not Christians baptize people. We also saw that it would be permissible under certain circumstances for a woman to baptize. But we need to ask ourselves if the practical application of these ideas would, under normal circumstances, be helpful. It seems that the best-case scenario, which would be the wisest course of action, would be that those who baptize others are Christian men. Here are a few reasons why. First, if a person was baptized by a non-Christian, he or she might not have thought through the fact that the qualities of the baptizer do not matter, and he or she might later question the effectiveness of the baptism and be filled with internal doubt about the situation. Second, those who are not Christians viewed the baptism might misunderstand and think that baptism is not associated with God’s plan of salvation and can be done for any reason in any way.
Third, women baptizing could lead some to have a misunderstanding about the woman’s role in the church. While it is true that nothing technically precludes the possibility of a woman performing a scriptural baptism, that could easily lead to the scenario in which those who were viewing the baptism, or who hear of it, might think that performing a baptism indicates a public leadership position in the church.
Paul, through inspiration, wrote, “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:12). His statement was designed to instruct the church that positions of authority and public teaching positions in assemblies were to be filled by men (Miller, 2005). Sometimes a position of “authority” might be different in one culture than in another. For instance, in the Corinthian church, some women were engaging in acts of worship with their heads uncovered (1 Corinthians 11:1-16). This was a sign in that culture that the women were not under the authority of the men. Thus, Paul explained to them that in their culture, in order to show proper respect for the authority of male leadership in the church, those women should cover their heads (or otherwise go to the logical extreme by shaving their head, since doing so was viewed as a cultural sign of prostitution). The women should not flout the culturally understood modes of showing submission (Moore, 1998). Applying this principle to baptism, then, we would need to assess whether our culture perceives the act of baptizing a person as an action to be performed by the leadership of the church. If we conclude that baptizing is viewed as something done by those in a leadership position, as is often the case with baptisms in mixed church assemblies in the United States, then we would conclude that it should be done by Christian men. If no Christian men are present, however, a woman could perform a baptism and it would not be usurping authority over a man, since none were available.


From our study, we have looked briefly at the importance of baptism in God’s plan of salvation. We have seen that while there are certain vital aspects of baptism that must be maintained, there are other aspects of the process that are incidental and irrelevant. By analyzing several passages, we have seen that the personal qualities of the baptizer do not alter or affect the effectiveness of the baptism. The truth of this fact is understood from the biblical passages, as well as from the ridiculous nature of the situations that would occur if a person faked being a Christian and baptized others. From this conclusion, it has been established that, technically speaking, both non-Christians and women can baptize. Looking at the principle of the most “helpful” or “wise” scenario, however, leads us to conclude that under some circumstances, it is wise to have a faithful Christian man baptize a person into Christ, especially in cultures in which the person performing a baptism would be viewed as having some type of authority position. 


Butt, Kyle (2011), “The Biblical View of Women,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=944.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (no date), Receiving the Gift of Salvation, Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Receiving%20the%20Gift%20of%20Salvation.pdf.
Lyons, Eric (2003), “The Bible’s Teaching on Baptism: Contradictory or Complimentary?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=806.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Female Leadership in the Church,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1407.
Moore, Kevin (1998), We Have No Such Custom: A Critical Analysis of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (New Delhi, India: Print India).
Warren, Thomas (1975), When Is an Example Binding? (Moore, OK: National Christian Press).

Did Jesus Perform Miracles Or Not? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Did Jesus Perform Miracles Or Not?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

A gentleman who was struggling with his beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible recently contacted our offices questioning why Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees that “no sign shall be given to this generation” (Mark 8:12; cf. Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Luke 11:29). Since other scriptures clearly teach that Jesus worked “many signs” (John 12:37; 20:30-31; 3:2; Acts 2:22), how could Jesus truthfully and consistently say, “no sign shall be given to this generation”? According to certain Bible critics, Jesus was a false prophet since His “prediction that no sign would be given to that generation is clearly false” (McKinsey, 1995, p. 114; cf. Wells, 2010). How can a Christian reasonably and biblically respond to such an assertion?

Sadly, Bible critics (and some Christians) are fond of disregarding the context in which biblical statements are found. Yet, no statement can be understood properly without some kind of background or contextual information. Words mean different things depending on how, when, and where they are spoken. Figures of speech abound in all cultures around the world (cf. Lyons, 2010). Truthful people, for example, have been joking, exaggerating, and using sarcasm for millennia (cf. Job 12:2; Psalm 58:3), all the while rightly expecting their listeners to interpret their language accurately, and without accusation of lying. Unfortunately, skeptics of the Bible’s inspiration often ignore much of the necessary information needed to properly understand Scripture.

When Jesus first made the statement, “no sign will be given” to this generation (Matthew 12:39; Luke 11:29), He had just healed a person who was blind, mute, and demon-possessed (Matthew 12:22; Luke 11:14). Notice that, rather than acknowledging that the great miracle Jesus worked was proof of His deity (John 20:30-31), the hard-hearted Pharisees alleged that His power came from the devil (Matthew 12:24). They did not simply turn away from Jesus; they turned 180 degrees away from the direction that such miracles led the honest and good-hearted truth-seekers. And Jesus’ enemies had not simply seen one miracle. Earlier in Matthew 12, Jesus had healed a man with a withered hand (vss. 9-13). How did the Pharisees react then? Rather than acknowledge the power of Christ, they “plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him” (vs. 14). The fact is, by this time in Jesus’ ministry He had already worked a number of miracles (Matthew 11:4-5), and many of the scribes and Pharisees absolutely refused to believe in Him (cf. Matthew 9:32-34). Regardless of what Jesus did or said, some of His enemies would never be convinced (cf. Matthew 12:31-32; see Butt, 2003).

So what did Jesus mean when He said on two different occasions that “no sign” would be given to “this generation” except “the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:12; Luke 11:29)? Jesus was responding to the Pharisees’ desire to see a sign. But they had already witnessed and heard about many of Jesus’ miracles. They wanted something “more.” They sought “a sign from heaven” (Luke 11:16; Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11, emp. added). Exactly what Jesus’ enemies meant by this, we may not know. What we do know is that while on Earth Jesus manifested His power over nature, disease, demon, and death (see Lyons and Butt, 2007), yet the Pharisees said they wanted more. It seems, as Burton Coffman noted, they “meant some spectacular wonder without moral value but which would appeal sensationally to man’s curiosity” (Coffman, 1984, p. 179). Jesus, however, always rejected doing such miracles. He refused to turn stones to bread or to jump from the temple’s pinnacle simply because Satan challenged Him to do so (Matthew 4:1-7). Jesus could have performed any miracle that He wanted—whether when tempted by Satan, prodded by Herod (Luke 23:8-12), or tested by the Pharisees. He could have pulled rabbits from hats for the sole purpose of amusing people. He could have turned His Jewish enemies into stones or given a person three eyes. He could have commanded that it literally rain cats and dogs. He could have lit the robes of the Pharisees on fire with the snap of his fingers and told them that hell would be ten times as hot. He could have done any number of wonders. But the insincere Pharisees would see none of that (i.e., “no sign [like these] will be given”).

What sign would be given? Other than the kinds of miracles that Christ’s enemies had already rejected, the only other sign Jesus prophesied was “the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Luke 11:29)—Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

Most certainly, Jesus performed miracles. And though Jesus “humbled himself...taking the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:7-8), He refused to get on the lowly, perpetually defiled spiritual level of His enemies. He worked no miracle of the kind that the Pharisees wished to see. But make no mistake, He worked plenty of the kind that provide honest-hearted people sufficient evidence to come to the conclusion that He is, indeed, “the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30-31).


Butt, Kyle (2003), “Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit—The Unpardonable Sin,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2272.

Coffman, Burton (1984), Matthew (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).

Lyons, Eric (2010), “The ‘Twelve,’” http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/177.

Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2007), “The Very Works that I Do Bear Witness of Me,” Reason & Revelation, 26[3]:17-23, March, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2857.

McKinsey, Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).

Wells, Steve (2010), “Did Jesus Perform Many Signs and Wonders?” http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/signs.html.

Christians and the Theory of Evolution by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Christians and the Theory of Evolution

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

It is not uncommon to hear Christians in the 21st century claim to believe in evolution. I have read, corresponded with, and met many people in the past decade who professed to believe both in the inspiration of the Bible and in many aspects of macroevolution. Some claim that the multi-billion-year Big Bang theory is valid, but that God played a part in it. Others assert that the Earth’s layers represent hundreds of millions of years of time, and that the fossils found therein are many millions of years old. Some “Christians” even think that God made man from monkey-like creatures. They believe that humans evolved from lower life forms, while God supposedly directed the process.
I am continually baffled by such claims from alleged Christians for three different reasons. First, as we have addressed many times in the past, the Bible clearly teaches that the Earth is only five days older than man, and even atheistic evolutionists do not believe that man has been on Earth for billions of years (cf. Lyons, 2006). Christians can choose to believe the multi-billion-year evolutionary time scale, which claims that people evolved approximately 13.996 billion years after the beginning of the Universe, or they can believe what Jesus and Paul taught—that man has been on Earth since the foundation of the world (Luke 11:49-51; Mark 10:6; Romans 1:20). You cannot logically or scripturally believe both views.
Second, macroevolution has never been proven. Many Christians have accepted evolution even though the entire theory is based upon assumptions. Evolutionists assume that because there are certain similarities between humans and animals, humans must have evolved from animals. In truth, however, these similarities prove no such thing. (They more accurately point to a common Creator Who made living creatures with many similarities because we live on the same planet, breathe the same air, eat the same kinds of food, drink the same water, etc.). Furthermore, neither geology nor paleontology proves macroevolution. All methods of dating rocks are based upon built-in assumptions (see Riddle, 2007). Evolutionary geologists and paleontologists have not “proven” that the layers of the Earth and the fossils in the Earth are millions of years old, they merely assume that the assumption-based dating methods are accurate. Moreover, there are no evolutionary family trees in the fossil record, but only evolutionists’ interpretations of the fossils. Simply put, macroevolution has never been observed or confirmed.
Finally, many Christians seem willing to defend evolution more blindly than some atheistic evolutionists. For example, even though many professed Christians have swallowed Big Bang Theory hook, line, and sinker (e.g., a senior biology major at a Christian University once informed me that all of her science professors “believe in the validity of the Big Bang”), some of the world’s most decorated evolutionary astrophysicists freely admit that “we are still as confused as ever about how the universe began” (Coles, 193[2593]:37). In short, while Big Bang Theory is falling on hard times within some atheistic evolutionary circles (cf. Brooks, 2008, 198[2659]:31; Coles, 2007, 193[2593]:33-37), it is still propagated among some “Bible believers” as factual. Unbelievable! “Christian” evolutionists are even known to accept alleged “missing links” as proof of human evolution. Another Christian college student once told me about one professor’s espousal of the idea that “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis) was likely one of our hairy, half-human, half-ape ancestors who lived a few million years ago. In truth, the idea of Lucy being our ancestor has been known for years to be riddled with problems, which even some atheistic evolutionists have acknowledged (see Harrub and Thompson, 2003, pp. 41-57).
Sadly, many professed Christians have bought into Darwin’s damnable doctrines despite (1) it never being proven, (2) notable atheistic evolutionists having doubts about, and problems with, many aspects of evolution, and (3) Scripture clearly teaching that the Earth is relatively young and not billions of years old. Scripture and science do not disagree with each other, but God’s Word and the General Theory of Evolution do. May God help His people stop kowtowing to evolutionary scientific elitism and start accepting God at His Word.


Brooks, Michael (2008), “Inflation Deflated,” New Scientist, 198[2659]:30-33, June 7.
Coles, Peter (2007), “Boomtime,” New Scientist, 193[2593]:33-37, March 3.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2003), The Truth About Human Origins (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2006), “Man Has Been on Earth Since...,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3068.
Riddle, Mike (2007), “Does Radiometric Dating Prove the Earth is Old?” [On-line], URL:http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/does-radiometric-dating-prove.

God, the Founders, and the Purpose of Human Government by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God, the Founders, and the Purpose of Human Government

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The American people have been experiencing a significant level of confusion regarding the purpose of civil government. Perhaps the prevailing sentiment of the population is that the core purpose of government is to collect money from citizens (via the IRS) so that elected politicians can make decisions regarding the distribution and dispersal of those funds. This serious misconception has led to a plethora of errors and harmful societal circumstances: a bloated, insatiable federal government that is in the throes of unprecedented, debilitating debt, a corresponding failure of elected officials to focus on their true purpose, a host of citizens who think the government exists to redistribute monetary assistance to them, and the list goes on. Meanwhile, the central purpose of government—the very reason the Founders established a federal government—is being neglected to the extent that citizens are encountering increasing danger to their lives. Perhaps even more tragic, the very government intended to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has assumed an adversarial role in which it persecutes those who hesitate to go along with its oppressive socialistic, anti-Christian, “politically correct” agenda.
What’s more, many Americans have been indoctrinated in the public school system with the idea that “separation of church and state” is true, that the government should have nothing to do with religion—except to suppress it in government, school, and public life.1 This indoctrination is so thorough and pervasive that few consider the fact that God has expressed His view on the subject. Indeed, the sole source of infallibly correct thinking—the Bible—addresses these concerns, articulating very precisely the divine purpose of civil government. What does the inspired Word of God say regarding the purpose of human government?


Perhaps before answering that question, we should ask the prior question: “Did God intend for humans to form a government?” Yes, He did. The Bible states definitively: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1, emp. added). Another inspired apostle stated: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Jesus, Himself, had previously expressed what His apostles later wrote. He implied the validity of human government when He declared: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Nebuchadnezzar’s dream included the realization “that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). So, yes, human government is authorized and ordained by God and fully in keeping with His principle of authority that pervades all of life.2
What, then, does the Bible say about the purpose of the divinely authorized entity of human government? The Bible states explicitly that the central purpose and role of government is to maintain order, peace, protection, safety, and stability in society which, in turn, enables citizens to live their lives in freedom. Consider, for example, Paul’s lengthy discussion of civil government in his admonitions to Christians in the capital city—the heart—of the Roman Empire:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil(Romans 13:3-4, emp. added).
Observe: “a terror to evil works” (vs. 3) and “an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil” (vs. 4). Peter expressed these same thoughts when he also addressed the subject:
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good (1 Peter 2:13-14, emp. added).
Observe:“for the punishment of evildoers” and “praise of those who do good” (vs. 14). Commenting on this passage, Guy N. Woods remarked: “the design, incidentally, of all civil authority—was (a) to punish the wicked, and (b) encourage good works by protecting those engaged therein.”3 In his remarks to Timothy, Paul again noted this same purpose:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2, emp. added).
Observe again: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (i.e., protected from those who would disturb that peace). Even the pagan attorney Tertullus, who acted on behalf of the high priest in bringing formal charges against Paul before the Roman governor Felix, noted in passing the purpose of civil government:
And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness” (Acts 24:2-3, emp. added).
Observe: through the civil magistrate, i.e., the government, “we enjoy great peace, and prosperity,” i.e., we are protected from those who would disrupt the peace, enabling us freely to exercise our right to pursue our vocations and the prosperity such brings. The government does not guarantee, let alone provide, prosperity; it simply ensures a peaceful atmosphere in which citizens can pursue their vocations and earn their living unhampered by thugs, thieves, and other criminals.
Hence, while not discounting subsidiary functions, the Bible states very succinctly that the essential thrust of human government—its core function—is to maintain order, peace, protection, safety, and stability in society so that citizens may be permitted to live their own lives and have the freedom to make their own decisions. This arrangement is God’s will. However, recall again Paul’s words to Timothy:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2, emp. added).
Why should we pray for the government? So that our lives might be “quiet and peaceable”—the objective and purpose of the government as intended by God. But what is the purpose of having a peaceful, undisturbed, unmolested life? So that we might live life “in all godliness and reverence.” God wants people to make wise, spiritual decisions as they live their lives in anticipation of eternity. That is their purpose for existence (Ecclesiastes 12:13). But whether they do or don’t, civil government is divinely designed to create an environment where citizens are not molested by internal or external assailants.


Every American ought to be grateful to live in a country where its Founding Fathers understood God’s view of human government and, consequently, implemented that same view in their efforts to establish the Republic. They were very forthright in their expression of the purpose of government and what they envisioned were the enumerated sub-purposes. Hear them:
Though not an American Founder, the British empiricist philosopher and physician John Locke (1632-1704), widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers, exerted a considerable influence on the thinking of the Founders. They certainly agreed with his assessment of the purpose of human government: “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property,” with “property” defined as “their lives, Liberties and estates.”4 Another Englishman with whom the Founders agreed on this point was British jurist, judge, and politician of the Founding Era Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), most noted for his Commentaries on the Laws of England which profoundly influenced the Founders and the formation of American law.5 He explained: “For the principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which are vested in them by the immutable laws of nature.”6
Apart from these weighty influences, the Founders themselves expressed pointed views of the purpose of government. In a sermon preached in Cambridge before the Massachusetts House of Representatives on May 30, 1770, prominent New England preacher Samuel Cooke pinpointed the true intention of government: “Civil government…the sole end and design of which is…the public benefit, the good of the people; that they may be protected in their persons, and secured in the enjoyment of all their rights, and to be enabled to lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.”7 Five years later, on May 31, 1775, a month after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, Harvard College President Samuel Langdon delivered a sermon to the Massachusetts Congress titled “Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness.” Distinguished scholar, theologian, and charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and delegate to the New Hampshire convention that adopted the U.S. Constitution, he, too, understood the central role of government:
Thanks be to God that he has given us, as men, natural rights, independent of all human laws whatever…. By the law of nature, any body of people, destitute of order and government, may form themselves into a civil society, according to their best prudence, and so provide for their common safety and advantage.8
On July 6, 1775, one year before declaring independence, the Continental Congress issued a declaration articulating precisely why they felt compelled to take up arms against their mother country. Obviously, they felt the government had gone awry (notice the extent to which they connect the purpose of government with God’s will on the matter):
If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason, to believe, that the Divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the Inhabitants of these Colonies might at least require from the Parliament of Great Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverence for our great Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end.9
In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birth-right, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it—for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our fore-fathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms.10
The Founding Fathers, en masse, believed that the role of government was to protect its citizens.

John Jay
John Jay was a brilliant Founder with a long and distinguished career in the formation and shaping of American civilization from the beginning. He not only was a member of the Continental Congress from 1774-1776, serving as its President from 1778-1779, he also helped to frame the New York State Constitution and then served as the Chief Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. He co-authored the Federalist Papers, was appointed as the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by George Washington, served as Governor of New York, and was the vice-president of the American Bible Society from 1816 to 1821. Here was his description of the purpose of government:
[W]ickedness rendered human government necessary to restrain the violence and injustice resulting from it. To facilitate the establishment and administration of government, the human race became, in the course of Providence, divided into separate and distinct nations. Every nation instituted a government, with authority and power to protect it against domestic and foreign aggressions. Each government provided for the internal peace and security of the nation, by laws for punishing their offending subjects. The law of all the nations prescribed the conduct which they were to observe towards each other, and allowed war to be waged by an innocent against an offending nation, when rendered just and necessary by unprovoked, atrocious, and unredressed injuries.11
Jay insightfully observed that God instituted human government in order to enact a restraining influence on the propensity of human beings to harm each other.
Alexander Hamilton was another prominent Founder, serving as an artillery Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel/Aide-de-camp to General Washington in the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the Continental Congress, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, co-author of the Federalist Papers, and Secretary of the Treasury under President Washington. In The Federalist, No. 15, dated December 1, 1787, Hamilton asked: “Why has government been instituted at all?  Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”12Government is intended to constrain lawbreakers.
Another patriot preacher of the Founding era was Samuel West, who served as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War and was an influential member of the Convention that formed the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts, and also of the Convention for the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. In an election-day sermon preached before the Massachusetts House of Representatives on May 29, 1776, sometimes titled “On the Right to Rebel against Governors,” West noted the role of government:
Men of unbridled lusts, were they not restrained by the power of the civil magistrate, would spread horror and desolation all around them. This makes it absolutely necessary that societies should form themselves into politic bodies, that they may enact laws for the public safety, and appoint particular penalties for the violation of their laws, and invest a suitable number of persons with authority to put in execution and enforce the laws of the state, in order that wicked men may be restrained from doing mischief to their fellow-creatures, that the injured may have their rights restored to them, that the virtuous may be encouraged in doing good, and that every member of society may be protected and secured in the peaceable, quiet possession and enjoyment of all those liberties and privileges which the Deity has bestowed upon him, i.e., that he may safely enjoy and pursue whatever he chooses, that is consistent with the public good. This shows that the end and design of civil government cannot be to deprive man of their liberty or take away their freedom; but, on the contrary, the true design of civil government is to protect men in the enjoyment of liberty.13
Constitution signer, co-author of the Federalist Papers, and fourth U.S. President, James Madison, in a speech at the Virginia Convention in 1829, stated: “It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.”14 Quintessential Founder Thomas Jefferson pinpointed this same function of government in his second presidential inaugural address, likewise linking God and religion to its purpose:
Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government.… entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.15
Declaration signer Samuel Adams, considered the “Firebrand of the Revolution” and “The Father of the American Revolution,” was vociferous in his pronouncements of the proper role of the government. In his monumental “Rights of the Colonists,” he explained:
Government was instituted for the purposes of common defence…. [T]he grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property.16
Writing in the Boston-Gazette on Monday, December 19, 1768 under the pseudonym “Vindex,” Adams expounded that “the only true basis of all government [are] the laws of God and nature. For government is an ordinance of Heaven, design’d by the all-benevolent Creator, for the general happiness of his rational creature, man.”17 Alluding to the “fundamental principle of nature and the constitution, that what is a man’s own, is absolutely his own, and that no man can have a right to take it from him without his consent,” Adams maintained:
It is against the plain and obvious rule of equity, whereby the industrious man is intitled [sic] to the fruits of his industry: It weakens the best cement of society, as it renders all property precarious: And it destroys the very end for which alone men can be supposed to submit to civil government; which is not for the sake of exalting one man, or a few men, above their equals, that they may be maintained in splendor and greatness; but that each individual, under the joint protection of the whole community, may be the Lord of his own possession, and sit securely under his own vine.18
So to Adams, the purpose for a community of people to form a government is to create “joint protection” for all citizens as each exerts his own efforts to prosper. Adams’ allusion to each person being enabled to sit under his own vine is taken from the Old Testament prophet Micah (4:4). That same year, in a letter sent by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to their agent in London, Dennis DeBerdt, the purpose of government is identified in the words: “The security of right and property is the great end of government.”19
As tensions increased between the Americans and Britain, the First Provincial Congress of Massachusetts issued a letter to newly appointed British military Governor Lieutenant General Thomas Gage, appealing to him to cease and desist from the hostile preparations being made, which included the construction of military fortifications at the entrance to Boston. The letter, dated Thursday, October 13, 1774, contains a reminder of the proper purpose of government:
Your excellency must be sensible that the sole end of government is the protection and security of the people. Whenever, therefore, that power, which was originally instituted to effect these important and valuable purposes, is employed to harass, distress, or enslave the people, in this case it becomes a curse rather than a blessing.20
In “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments,” Thomas Jefferson offered a further description of the purpose of human government:
Whereas, it frequently happens that wicked and dissolute men, resigning themselves to the dominion of inordinate passions, commit violations on the lives, liberties, and property of others, and, the secure enjoyment of these having principally induced men to enter into society, government would be defective in its principal purpose, were it not to restrain such criminal acts, by inflicting due punishments on those who perpetrate them.21
Prominent Founder John Adams stated the purpose succinctly in these words: “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”22 The state constitution of Massachusetts, believed to be largely the work of Adams, provides a more extensive definition of the purpose of government in its Preamble:
The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights, and the blessings of life: and whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness.23
Though Thomas Paine fell into disrepute in the 1790s all across America when he published The Age of Reason, nevertheless, he was a significant Founder at the beginning. His wording of the purpose of government was given in his treatise The Rights of Man for the Use and Benefit of All Mankind:
Government is nothing more than a national association; and the object of this association is, the good of all, as well individually, as collectively. Every man wishes to pursue his occupation, and to enjoy the fruits of his labours, and the produce of his property, in peace and safety, and with the least possible expence. When these things are accomplished, all the objects for which government ought to be established, are answered.24
Another Founding era preacher, Dan Foster of Connecticut, articulated the same sentiment in his “A Short Essay on Civil Government:”
For ‘tis for the good of the state and people, that every one and the whole community, may enjoy their persons and properties free of all molestations, invasions, rapines and invasions whatsoever, that civil government is erected; and these great ends must be kept in sight and direct…. Our proposition asserts that the people have a natural and inherent right to appoint and constitute a [government] over them, for their civil good, liberty, protection, peace and safety…. to defend and secure to the people the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of their persons and properties.25
Harvard graduate and Founding era preacher from Duxbury, Massachusetts, Charles Turner, delivered an election sermon before the Massachusetts-Bay government in 1773, declaring:
God would have His civil ministers to prove, a terror to evil works; to punish evil doers—by salutary laws, honestly and honorably executed, to save the state from foreign injurious invaders…and to prevent the peoples suffering, from one another, as to life, property, or any of their rights.26
These citations could be multiplied extensively. They may be summarized in the words of the Declaration of Independence which the Founders crafted to articulate clearly the infringements of the British government under which they lived:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.27


It’s as if rank and file Americans at the inception of the nation were widely educated in the principles of government and were attuned to the essentiality of government fulfilling its God-assigned responsibilities. Make no mistake: the freedom which they believed was endangered by the usurpations of the British government was not the 1960s “do your own thing” “freedom” which promoted the overthrow of the prevailing social mores in America. Far from it. They would have viewed such “freedom” to be licentiousness and immoral. Rather, they envisioned the freedom that they considered inherent in the creation of human beings by God—the unalienable right to live on the Earth in order to make one’s own choices in anticipation of eternity.
When the government loses sight of the function for which it was created, citizens are hampered in their efforts to achieve the purpose for which they were created: to obey God. Tragically, more than ever before in its 230 year history, America is experiencing severe convulsion due to the distortion of the role of government that prevails on virtually every level—local, state, and federal. Government has assumed a measure of control over the lives of its citizens that it has no right to exert, exceeding the limits envisioned by both God and the Founders. Citizens are being threatened, bullied, harassed, and intimidated by government to accept a redefinition of marriage and to embrace gender confusion as normal. They are being pressured to ignore the threat to national security posed by the blanket acceptance of foreigners who disdain the religion of Christ and the values upon which the Republic was built.28 The government has placed Americans under severe, nonconsensual financial burdens.29
It is bad enough that the government has ventured into illicit areas of activity. But, in the meantime, it has neglected, if not forsaken, its central purpose of providing adequate security for its law-abiding citizens. Is it coincidental that prisons are full while the government wages war on religious expression? Ask yourself these questions: Do I feel safer or less safe than at any other time in my life? Do I feel that my life and my property (i.e., home and possessions) are more secure or less secure? In my attempt to live a peaceful, serene, undisturbed lifestyle, do I feel the government is a friend and ally, or is it hostile and part of the problem?
The time has come for the nation to return to its moorings. The time has come for a massive spiritual and moral awakening, lest God say to America what He said to Israel of old: “‘Shall I not punish them for these things?’ says the LORD. ‘And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?’” (Jeremiah 5:9,29; 9:9).


1 See the DVD Separation of Church and State? available at: http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Product.aspx?pid=106.
2 For a discussion of the crucial principle of authority, see Dave Miller (2012), Surrendering to His Lordship (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
3 Guy N. Woods (1962), A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude(Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), p. 72.
4 John Locke (1821), Two Treatises of Government (London: Whitmore & Fenn), Book II, Chapter IX, p. 295.
5 Thomas Jefferson noted that the standing sentiment of American lawyers was that “Blackstone is to us what the Alcoran is to the Mahometans”—“Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, May 26, 1810,” The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress,” http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib020310.
6 Sir William Blackstone (1765), Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press), Book I, Chapter I, 1:120, emp. added.
7 Samuel Cooke (1770), The True Principles of Civil Government, A Sermon Preached at Cambridge, in the Audience of His Honor Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Lieutenant-Governor and Commander in Chief; The Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, May 30th, 1770(Boston, MA: Edes and Gill), p. 159, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/evans/N09097.0001.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext.
8 Samuel Langdon (1775), Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness(Watertown, MA: Benjamin Edes), p. 23, italics in orig., emp. added.
9 Continental Congress (1775), A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North America, Now Met in General Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, 2:140,156, emp. added, http://goo.gl/OrJ371.
10 Ibid., emp. added.
11 William Jay (1833), The Life of John Jay (New York: J.&J. Harper), 2:393-394, emp. added.
12 Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison (1911), The Federalist or the New Constitution (New York: E.P. Dutton), pp. 71-72, emp. added.
13 Samuel West (1776), A Sermon Preached Before the Honorable Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New-EnglandMay 29, 1776. Being the Anniversary for the Election of the Honorable Council for the Colony (Boston, MA: John Gill), pp. 13-14, emp. added.
14 Ritchie and Cook, eds. (1830), Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-30 (Richmond, VA: Samuel Shepherd), p. 537, emp. added.
15 Thomas Jefferson (1801), “First Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, emp. added, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jefinau1.asp.
16 William Wells (1866), The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Co.), 1:504, emp. added.
17 The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal (1768), No. 716, Monday, December 19, 1768, p. 1.
18 Ibid., italics in orig., emp. added.
19 The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal (1768), No. 679, Monday, April 4, p. 1, emp. added.
20 William Lincoln, ed. (1838), The Journals of each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety (Boston, MA: Dutton and Wentworth), p. 17.
21 Thomas Jefferson (1853), “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments,” in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. H.A. Washington (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury), 1:147, emp. added.
22 John Adams (1805), Discourses on Davila (Boston, MA: Russell and Cutler), p. 92.
23 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Preamble,” emp. added, https://malegislature.gov/laws/constitution.
24 Thomas Paine (1795), The Rights of Man for the Use and Benefit of All Mankind (London: Daniel Isaac Eaton), p. 97, emp. added.
25 Dan Foster (1775), A Short Essay on Civil Government (Hartford, CT: Ebenezer Watson), pp. 14,27, emp. added.
26 Charles Turner (1773), A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Governor: The Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, May 26th. 1773 (Boston, MA: Richard Draper), pp. 10-11, italics in orig., emp. added.
27 Declaration of Independence (1776), Library of Congress, emp. added, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/pe.76546.
28 See Dave Miller (2016), “Should Christians Favor Accepting Syrian Refugees?” Reason & Revelation, 36[4]:45-47.
29 Writing ca. 1817, James Madison noted: “The people of the U. S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprized [sic] in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.” If the Founders were outraged over the violation of the principle underlying a three cent tax, they would be incredulous at the extent to which Americans tolerate oppressive governmental taxation without their knowledge—let alone consent (e.g., the tax on cell phone bills that funds free phone giveaways). See “Detached Memoranda,” The Founders’ Constitution, ed. Philip Kurland and Ralph Lerner (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press), Volume 5, Amendment I (Religion), Document 64, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions64.html.

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