Which Baptism? by Trevor Bowen

Which Baptism?


We know of several types of baptism that were administered in the early first century and recorded in the Bible; however, Ephesians 4:5 plainly says that there is only "one baptism". Therefore, by the time Paul recorded this verse in Ephesians, all other baptisms must have fulfilled their purpose and ceased, leaving only one baptism that was to be practiced by the ongoing New Testament church.
Today, some people believe that "Holy Spirit baptism" is the one saving baptism that remains. Others, believe that "water baptism" is the only one authorized for today. While still other modern disciples pray for the Lord to baptize them in "fire". Because of the many types of baptism being advocated today, in this article we search to answer the question, "Since there is only one baptism that is authorized for today, of the many possible baptisms, which is the one baptism?"

The Possible Baptisms

During the ministries of John, Jesus, and the apostles, the Bible references four types of baptism:
  1. John's baptism
  2. Holy Spirit baptism
  3. Fire Baptism
  4. Baptism of the Great Commission
One of these baptisms may sound more powerful, or desirable, over the others. For example, baptism of the Holy Spirit sounds like it would be very powerful and beneficial to the Christian; however, we must consult the Scriptures to determine the purpose and authority of each of these baptisms. Our final conclusion must be based on Scripture, else tradition, prejudice, or other personal goals become our standard, rather than faith (Romans 10:17).
Now, let us examine the Scriptures concerning each of these baptisms. As we study, we will make observations concerning the purpose, scope, and duration of each baptism, looking for the one baptism that we are authorized and commanded to practice today.

John's Baptism

Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, his cousin John, often known as John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1), in Judea preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:2-22).
"In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! ..."
"Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him, and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. ..."
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Matthew 3:1-11
Several features are worth noting as being characteristic of John's message and baptism:
First, John was the primary administrator, or one performing the baptism. Later, as John's ministry began to draw to a close and Jesus ministry was just beginning, we learn that Jesus' and His disciples also began to baptize in addition to John (John 3:22-23), although Jesus never actually baptized anybody Himself. Only His disciples performed the baptisms (John 4:1-2). Shortly after this time, John was thrown into prison, and his ministry ceased.
Second, it should be observed that John's baptism was "unto repentance for remission of sins" (Luke 3:2-3). The primary work of his message was to prepare men's hearts by a message that would lead to a baptism for repentance. This repentance was looking forward unto the remission of sins, which would be provided through Jesus' imminent gospel message.
Third, we should note that John was aware and taught that his ministry was intended to be preparatory for the work of Jesus and would fade away as Jesus' ministry progressed, completing John's work (Mark 1:1-6). Consequently, once Jesus arrived, John's message and baptism were fulfilled, antiquated, and ceased (John 3:24-30).

Baptism of The Holy Spirit

Few people, if any, would today advocate the practice of John's baptism. However, many people would profess Holy Spirit baptism to be the cornerstone of a person's conversion and salvation. It is believed by many that this baptism results in the cleansing of the inherited total depravity that was taught by John Calvin. Although many denominations have forsaken the cruel implications of Calvinism, most continue to teach the other less offensive conclusions, such as Holy Spirit Baptism.
Contrary to Calvin's teaching, the Scripture teaches that Holy Spirit Baptism had a much more limited purpose, result, and time-frame than that of conversion and salvation. First, let us observe who was to administer this baptism:
"John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Luke 3:16
Holy Spirit baptism was not administered by any mere mortal, but it was performed by the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not a baptism that could possibly be administered by a human, for the element into which the subject was immersed, or overwhelmed was the Holy Spirit.
Please notice that the purpose of the baptism was to empower the subject to work miracles and prophesy by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He directed and promised His apostles:
"And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
"Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:4-8
How were the apostles to accomplish this incredible mission? How would uneducated Galileans be able to preach the gospel in all of Judea, much less to the ends of the earth? How would they remember what Jesus said? How would they prove that their testimony was truly from God? Jesus informed the apostles that they would "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you". This special assistance was previously promised to the apostles, Jesus special ambassadors. They were to be guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit. And, they were enabled to confirm their message through miraculous signs (John 16:13; Mark 16:17-20). Ten days after Jesus' ascension, on the day of the feast of Pentecost, the promise was fulfilled when the apostles were "baptized with the Holy Spirit" and "received power".
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:1-4
This led to a miraculous scene of uneducated men speaking and preaching the gospel in over 14 different languages. When a crowd gathered to observe this strange occurrence, Peter explained:
"But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'" Acts 2:16-21
Notice that this "pouring out of the Spirit from heaven" was viewed as an overwhelming, or immersing in the Spirit by the recipients on earth. What was to be the results of this baptism? Was it salvation? No, it was power unto prophesying God's message and confirming it with wondrous signs. Salvation is only mentioned at the end of the fulfilled prophecy, where it is not mentioned as a result of Holy Spirit baptism, but it is instead declared to be a gift to "whoever calls on the name of the Lord".
The only other record of Holy Spirit Baptism occurs in Acts 10 at the conversion of Cornelius and his family. The conversion was unique because it was the first conversion of Gentiles. Until this point, the gospel had only been preached to Jews around Judea and Samaria. By the time of the events in Acts 10, the time had come for the gospel to be preached to "every creature" (Mark 16:15-16). But, a powerful sign was required to convince the Jews that non-Jews were also to be granted the opportunity to repent unto life. In fact, God had to tell Peter in a vision to go preach to Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:9-35). In spite of this heavenly direction, Peter remained confused and a more powerful and obvious sign was required to enlighten Peter and his Jewish companions. The events of the following passage occurred while Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his family:
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
"Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
"And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days." Acts 10:44-48
In addition to enabling Corneluis' family to prophesy through tongues, what was the significance of this sudden and astonishing bestowment of the Holy Spirit? The answer is seen in the effect that it had on Peter and the other Jews. From this event, they concluded that nobody could forbid these Gentiles the opportunity to be baptized in water, in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:47-48).
Later, Peter recountted this event to several more Jews, who similarly concluded that "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (Acts 11:18). The baptism served as a sign that salvation had come to the Gentiles. God's time had come for the gospel to be preached to "every creature".
Why would someone think that this was the second and only other occurrence of Holy Spirit baptism, beside the baptism of the apostles on Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2? Notice how Peter later related the events of Acts 10:
"And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.
"Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
"If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"
When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." Acts 11:15-18
First, Cornelius' family's reception of the Holy Spirit was indeed Holy Spirit baptism because Peter specifically recalled and associated this event to Jesus' promise of Holy Spirit baptism. Secondly, Peter compared this event at Cornelius' house to when it fell upon them "at the beginning"? Since over 20,000 Jews had been converted by this point, why did Peter not instead relate "as it has fallen upon every Jew", or "as it fell upon a Jew just yesterday at his conversion"? Moreover, why did Peter have to work through his confusion at the time until he recalled, "Then I remembered the word of the Lord"? It was only after he remembered the Lord's promise that he realized Jesus had personally bestowed this gift, signifying His authority for their opportunity for "repentance to life" and the opening of the gospel unto all Gentiles. These two phrases uttered by Peter imply that this was a rare occurrence and specify that the most closely related occurrence was that of the apostles Holy Spirit baptism on Pentecost, "at the beginning".
There is no other record of the Holy Spirit descending suddenly and unexpectedly on people. We have several references to the apostles deliberately bestowing gifts and powers of the Holy Spirit by the "laying on of their hands" (Acts 8:5-25). But, the distinction of this gift is seen in its administration. Baptism of the Holy Spirit was administered suddenly and unseen by Jesus, while the gift of the Holy Spirit was given by apostles through the laying on of hands (Acts 8:16-18). Although they both resulted in the ability of the recipient to perform miracles and speak in foreign tongues, baptism of the Holy Spirit carried special significance because it was administered directly by the Lord, signifying His special approval (Acts 11:15-18). Once the kingdom was evidently opened to Gentiles and Jews, the need and occurrence of this unique baptism apparently ceased.

Baptism of Fire

Fire is often used to symbolize God's treatment of the righteous and the wicked. Some passages use fire to symbolize God's fiery wrath and judgment upon the wicked (Ezekiel 21:31-32; Isaiah 29:6). Other passages refer to a difficult, but merciful trial by refining fire that purges God's people of their wickedness (Zechariah 13:8-9; Malachi 3:1-4). In each symbolic usage of fire, the context determines whether the intent is punishment or refinement. With these two possible uses in mind, let us examine the context of the references to "baptism of fire".
Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all,
"I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire." Luke 3:15-17
John's answer was given in response to the question of him being the Messiah, or Christ. He contrasts himself with the Messiah by contrasting his baptism with the those baptisms administered by the Messiah. He continues to expound on the Messiah's authority through His power to render judgment and separate the righteous from the wicked
Please notice that the only other reference to the "fire" of verse 16 is that of "unquenchable fire" in verse 17. Verse 17 illustrates the Messiah's judgment through an old figure of separating the useless chaff from the desired wheat kernels. The winnower separates the wheat to be saved, while the chaff is separated for destruction by fire, which illustrates the ultimate redemption of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked. This would cause one to reasonably conclude that baptism by fire is nothing other than a symbol of the eternal destruction of the wicked in hell's fire.
Another possibility, although unlikely, is that the "baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire" refers to a single baptism, that comprises two elements: the empowering of the Holy Spirit and a purifying fire. This may seem plausible, since a vision of something like fire was shown during the apostles' baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). However, please notice that the phrase "baptize with ... fire" only occurs in two passages out of the entire Bible (Matthew 3:10-12; Luke 3:15-17). In the context of both passages, we find a reference to destruction or punishment by fire (Matthew 3:10, 12; Luke 3:17). However, in contrast to this relation, the other two gospel accounts that mention baptism with the Holy Spirit, that do not reference fire, also do not reference punishment (Mark 1:8; John 1:33). This suggests that "baptism with fire" is associated with punishment and destruction by fire.
Moreover, when Peter recalled Jesus' reference to the events surrounding the apostles and Cornelius' family's Holy Spirit baptism, he makes reference to "baptize with the Holy Spirit" but "baptize with fire" is again conspicuously absent (Acts 11:15-16).
This gives us three reasons as basis for a conclusion: one, the relation of the immediate context to destruction by fire where the phrase is used; two, the conspicuous absence of reference to punishment by fire when the phrase is not used; and three, the further absence of its reference when Holy Spirit baptism did occur. These three reasons lead one to believe that "baptism with fire" is not part of a single Holy Spirit baptism, but it is a separate baptism, referring to the immersion of the wicked into the fires of hell (Revelation 20:11-15; Matthew 25:41-46). Of course, if it did refer to a single baptism, then it would have expired in conjunction with Holy Spirit baptism according to the earlier cited passages.

Baptism of the Great Commission

John's baptism has long ceased. Holy Spirit baptism occurred only twice, and its mission was limited to empowerment by the Holy Spirit and approving the open invitation of the gospel to Jews and later, Gentiles. We have found that Bible references to "baptism with fire" refer not to a desirable blessing from God, but they rather refer to a dreaded eternal punishment, separated from God. Eliminating all the previously discussed baptisms, only one baptism remains that is eligible for our question, "Which baptism is the one baptism?".
Jesus commissioned His apostles to go into the whole world, preaching the gospel to every creature, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). The purpose of this baptism was to be for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:21). It was not administered by Jesus, but it was performed by other humans upon willful, believing, and penitent sinners (Acts 2:37-38; Acts 8:35-38; Acts 22:12-16). The element was water (Acts 8:36-39; 10:47-48). It began to be first practiced "at the beginning" on the day of Pentecost, immediately following Jesus' ascension (Acts 2:1, 37-38), and the command for its practice continues today (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).
How do we know this is the one? If a person has been raised believing, or has been previously convinced that Holy Spirit baptism is superior and commanded over the water baptism of Jesus' Great Commission, it may be difficult to accept a Bible-based conclusion, contrary to one's personal conviction. Considering this situation, let us examine a few more points.
  1. Jesus' Great Commission included the apostles administering baptism by the authority of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-19). This commission to be carried on by disciples, and its baptism was to be performed upon those who believed (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, the baptism that was commissioned by Jesus must be able to be administered by the apostles or disciples. Since Holy Spirit baptism was administered directly by Jesus, it cannot be the baptism of the Great Commission (Luke 3:15-16).

  2. The baptism of the Great Commission was to be performed on "every creature" that believes. It is universal in it scope and without time limits. Since Holy Spirit baptism cannot be the baptism of the Great Commission, then it must not be the one baptism, if the baptism of the Great Commission is to continue until the end of time.

  3. The baptism for remission of sins was a baptism that was commanded (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Holy Spirit baptism cannot be commanded by any preacher, since it is administered by the Lord; however, subjects of the gospel can and were commanded to be baptized in water, in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 10:47-48).

  4. Immediately following the Holy Spirit baptism of Cornelius' family, it was still necessary for them to be baptized in water in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 10:47-48). The purpose of the Holy Spirit baptism was to manifest Jesus' authority for the Gentiles' repentance unto life (Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-18). If Holy Spirit's purpose also included the redemption, salvation, or forgiveness of sins, then why did Peter follow their baptism of the Holy Spirit with the command for them to be baptized in water by the Lord's name? What was the purpose of the baptism in water in the name of the Lord Jesus?

  5. Why was nobody else baptized in the Holy Spirit, but yet many more coverts were commanded to be baptized in water by the name of Jesus? Please note: All references to commanded baptism must be understood as water baptism by above designated point 3 and cannot be Holy Spirit baptism by points 1, 2, and 3. This includes Acts 8:35-39; 22:16; 2:38; and I Corinthians 1:13-16.

  6. "Baptism in the name of the Lord" is associated with water baptism, not Holy Spirit baptism, and refers to the source of authority for the command (Acts 10:47-48; Matthew 28:18-19). Again note this was a commanded baptism, consistent with the Great Commission's purpose for the remission of sins.

    At Ephesus, Paul again commanded baptism in the name of the Lord (Acts 19:1-5). There is no reference in this passage to the baptism of the Holy Spirit; moreover, the only way the new converts were able to receive the Holy Spirit was not by Holy Spirit baptism, but by Paul administering the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of his hands (Acts 19:4-5), which is consistent with other conversions (Acts 8:14-20). If Holy Spirit baptism was already the one baptism, then why was it necessary that Paul lay his hands on them that they might receive miraculous gifts, since that was one of the effects of Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-48)? Why is Holy Spirit baptism not mentioned in Acts 19 or 8? Why is water baptism in the name of the Lord the one baptism mentioned in Acts 8 and 19?

  7. "Baptism in the name of the Lord" produces rejoicing (Acts 8:5-8); however, this rejoicing occurs before the miraculous reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-16). How could Christians go on their way rejoicing, never receiving the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:35-39)?

The Right Baptism for the Wrong Reason

Some people realize the importance, role, and purpose of baptism, after they have already been baptized. They may have been baptized for another purpose, beside the remission of sins, if they believed they were saved before they were baptized. Others may have been baptized in water, but confused it with Holy Spirit baptism. This raises another question, "What if someone is baptized in water, but for the wrong reason?"
Fortunately, we are not left without Scriptural guidance on this question.
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them,
"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism."
"Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
"When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 19:1-5
Even though these Ephesians had been baptized in a water baptism for repentance unto remission of sins, their baptism was ultimately for the wrong purpose. It was a baptism that was looking forward unto the remission of sins granted by Jesus' crucifixion, while baptism in the name of the Lord was by the Lord's authority and immediately unto remission of sins. It was a minor point, but yet it posed a problem. The solution was simple. They were immediately baptized again, but this time for the right reason (Acts 19:5). If rebaptism was necessary for those who were baptized under a divinely ordered, but antiquated baptism, then will it not be even more necessary, if we were baptized because we wrongly thought we were already saved? If the Ephesians' baptism did not suffice, then how will any other baptism be adequate that is not the the one baptism?


The differences between each of these four baptisms is easily seen when their characteristics are compared and contrasted, as shown in the chart below:

Paul's letter to the Ephesians teaches that there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Only one baptism was administered for the purpose of salvation and is commanded still today, the baptism that was authorized by Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Once we recognize the true purpose and role of this one baptism, we must ask ourselves if we have been baptized for the right reason. If we have not, then the solution is simple: Be baptized in water, by the name of Jesus, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:47-48; 22:16; 19:1-5). If we are in doubt, then why gamble with the redemption of our soul, when assurance is readily available? Why not be baptized for the right reason and put an end to all self-condemning doubt (Romans 14:23)?
The writer of Hebrews classifies doctrines concerning baptisms as "elementary" or "basic" (Hebrews 6:1-2). If it is so basic, then why is there so much confusion and hesitancy about this subject? Please do not let pride or prejudice hinder. Simply read the Bible and do what it says, abandoning tradition and your own wisdom (I Corinthians 1:18-31). Christians walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). Let us encourage each other to do so.
If you any questions or comments regarding this essay, please e-mail the author or any of our local contacts.  They will be glad to discuss your questions or comments.
Trevor Bowen

"THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS" The True Circumcision Of God (3:1-16) by Mark Copeland

                    "THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"

                  The True Circumcision Of God (3:1-16)


1. Throughout his ministry as an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul had to
   contend with certain Jewish Christians
   a. Known today as "Judaizers", they  were false teachers who often
      followed Paul wherever he went
   b. They would try to bind the act of circumcision and the Law of
      Moses itself upon Gentile Christians - e.g., Ac 15:1-2

2. Even as he writes this "epistle of joy", encouraging the brethren to
   rejoice in the Lord (3:1), he finds it necessary to warn them of
   these false teachers (3:2-3)
   a. In these verses, we find Paul making a play on words...
      1) He calls the Judaizers "katatome" (mutilation) - 3:2
      2) And refers to true Christians as "peritome" (circumcision) 
         - 3:3
   b. In doing so, he also declares that "the true circumcision" are
      those who:
      1) Worship God in the Spirit
      2) Rejoice in Christ Jesus
      3) Have no confidence in the flesh

3. Using himself as an example, Paul further defines the attitudes and
   characteristics of those who are "The True Circumcision Of God" 

[In doing so, Paul actually does it in an order reverse to what we find 
in verse 3; thus first illustrating "The True Circumcision Of God" as 
those who...]


      1. He could have boasted in things of a "RACIAL" nature
         a. "circumcised the eighth day"
            1) A genuine Jew from birth
            2) Not a proselyte
         b. "of the stock of Israel"
            1) Directly descended from Jacob
               a) The Arabs could boast of their descent from Abraham
               b) The Edomites could boast of Isaac
            2) But only the Jews could boast of Jacob, who had prevailed
               with God and was given the name "Israel" (literally, "one
               who strives with God")
         c. "of the tribe of Benjamin"
            1) The son of Jacob's beloved wife, Rachel
            2) The only son actually born in the promised land
            3) Israel's first king, Saul, was from this tribe
            4) The only tribe that remained true to Judah when the
               kingdom was divided
         d. "a Hebrew of the Hebrews"
            1) Both his parents were Jews
            2) He was true to the customs of the Jews, not a Grecian or
               Hellenistic Jew
      2. He could have boasted in things of a "RELIGIOUS" nature
         a. "concerning the law, a Pharisee"
            1) A very religious person
            2) Belonging to a sect known for their loyalty, patriotism,
               and conservatism to the Law of Moses
         b. "concerning zeal, persecuting the church"
            1) Illustrates his sincerity and enthusiasm for his religion
            2) Always true to his conscience - cf. Ac 23:1; 26:9-11
         c. "concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless"
            1) Not that he was perfect
            2) But was diligent in fulfilling the requirements of the
               Law (e.g., animal sacrifices)

      1. All these things which could have provided Paul with prestige
         and social standing, he counted as loss
      2. In fact, he lost many things when he chose to follow Christ 
         - cf. 1Co 4:11-13
      3. Yet, compared to the excellence of the knowledge of Christ,
         they were to Paul nothing more than "rubbish" (literally,

      1. Do we place confidence in our fleshly accomplishments?
      2. Do we take pride in our racial background, religious heritage,
      3. Or do we consider such things as "rubbish" compared to the
         knowledge of Jesus Christ?

[How we answer helps to determine whether we are "The True Circumcision 
Of God"!  But there is more; those who are the "true circumcision"...]


      1. As in Paul's case, he considered fleshly accomplishments as
      2. His compelling desire was to "gain Christ" (8)

      1. To "be found in Him", which includes...
         a. "not having my own righteousness, which is from the law"
            (not trusting in his keeping the Law of Moses to save him)
         b. "but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness
            which is from God by faith" (experiencing salvation as a gift
            from God through faith in Jesus)
      2. To "know Him"
         a. The word "know" as used here, means...
            1) "to recognize" or "to become acquainted with"
            2) I.e., a personal knowledge, not a theoretical or vicarious
         b. In particular, to know "the power of His resurrection"
            1) The same power Paul wanted the Ephesians to know
                 - Ep 1:18-20
            2) A power that is first experienced in baptism into Christ
               - Col 2:12-13
            3) And throughout our lives - Ep 3:20-21
            4) And ultimately in our own bodily resurrection - Php 3:20-21
         c. To know "the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to
            His death"
            1) In his effort to know Christ, Paul wanted to experience
               and share even in His sufferings!
            2) "Such fellowship in the sufferings of Christ includes a
               turning from sin, and the death of self.  It may involve
               much hardship for the sake of Christ.  For Paul it finally
               meant martyrdom." (CHARLES ERDMAN)
            3) We all should be willing to do the same! - cf. 1Pe 4:1-2
      3. To "attain to the resurrection from the dead"
         a. This would be the ultimate experience in "gaining Christ"!
         b. I.e., a personal and experiential knowledge of the "power" of
            the resurrection!

      1. Such was the goal of Paul's life, the source of his true joy!
      2. Can this said about us?
      3. Is our goal in life to truly "know Christ"?

[If it is, then what Paul continues to say will be our attitude also; 
for "The True Circumcision Of God" are also those who...]


      1. In His discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well - Jn 4:23-24
      2. Since God is Spirit, our worship must be of the spirit as well,
         and not limited to particular locations

      1. They are never satisfied with their present spiritual condition
      2. With perseverance, they press on (13-15)
         a. Not looking back
            1) Resting on past laurels
            2) Or bemoaning past failures
         b. But ever reaching forward, which is a mark of spiritual
      3. All the while living up to the standard of knowledge they have
         attained (16)


1. Do these attitudes characterize our devotion to God and His Son?
   a. Do we worship God by allowing His Spirit and the Spirit-given Word
      to rule over our complete lives?
   b. Do we consider the relationship we are developing with Christ to be
      our primary joy and focus in life?
   c. Do we place no confidence in the flesh?
   ---   If so, then we are "The True Circumcision of God"!

2. As Paul invites us to do in verse 17, let's be sure to follow his

How does one begin in becoming "The True Circumcision Of God"?  It
begins when we in faith submit to the working of God in baptism, in
which we experience the "circumcision of Christ" (cf. Col 2:11-13).

Have you had the "circumcision made without hands" (i.e., been baptized
into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins - Ac 2:38)?

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3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God by Eric Lyons, M.Min. Kyle Butt, M.Div.


3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The Bible is the most popular book that has ever been printed. It was one of the first books mass produced on Gutenberg’s printing press in 1455. To estimate a total number of Bibles and portions of it that have been produced and distributed worldwide throughout history would be virtually impossible, but the number stands well over 10 billion, since the United Bible Society alone has distributed over nine billion in the past 70 years (“God Facts,” n.d.). Without dispute, the Bible is the best selling book of all time worldwide (“Best Selling…,” 2014).
Why is the Bible so popular? The reason most often given is that those who are printing, distributing, and reading the Bible believe it is the inspired Word of God. Most people who read the Bible do not think it is good advice from mere men. Nor do they think it is a book of fairy tales written for entertainment. Instead, they believe the Book they are reading is the product of the one true God.
Oftentimes, when people are asked to give reasons that support their belief that the Bible is from God, they say that the Bible claims to be from God. It is certainly true that the Bible contains numerous statements that claim inspiration. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God….” In fact, anyone who wants to search the entire Bible will discover that it contains more than 2,700 instances in which divine inspiration is claimed (e.g., “God said;” “the Lord said;” “by revelation He [God] made known”).
Yet, even though we would expect to find that any book produced by God would claim divine inspiration, such a claim does not prove anything in and of itself. It is a necessary trait of inspiration, but it is not a sufficient trait. Various books claim to be inspired by God (e.g., the Quran, the Book of Mormon), but are contradictory to the Bible, and can be proven to be inaccurate and deficient in other instances (see Miller, 2005; Miller, 2003). Simply because a book or writing claims divine inspiration is not positive proof of its inspiration. Any person could stand in front of an audience and claim to be the President of the United States of America. In fact, he could make that claim over 2,700 times. But his multiple claims to the presidency would fail to prove his case unless he could provide more adequate and sufficient evidence.
When Jesus revealed Himself to the world as the Son of God at about the age of 30 (Luke 3:23), He did not expect people to believe Him simply because He said He was the Messiah. On the contrary, Jesus said, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added). If the Messiah was not to be trusted merely based upon claims of messiahship, neither should the Bible. Again, though the claim of inspiration is important (and expected if the Bible is the Word of God), mere claims prove nothing.
Those who penned the Bible did not expect the world to receive their writings as God’s Word simply because they claimed they were. The Bible writers insisted that their writings were not based on imaginary, unverifiable people and events, but instead were grounded on solid, verifiable facts. The apostle Peter wrote: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). In his introduction to the book of Acts, Luke stated that Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3, emp. added). The Bible writers understood and insisted that the information they penned was accurate and factual, and should be accepted, not based on a lack of evidence or a “leap in the dark,” but on an abundance of verifiable proof.
So what is the proof that the Bible is of supernatural origin? Why should an honest truth-seeker come to the conclusion that the Bible is the special revelation from the Creator of the Universe? In short, the main, overarching reason that the Bible is demonstrated to be of divine origin is because the Bible writers were correct in everything they wrote—about the past, the present, and even the future.
Eighteenth-century English poet Alexander Pope succinctly noted in “An Essay on Criticism” what every rational person knows all to well—“to err is human” (1709). Even though we may set high standards for ourselves and learn all that we can, and even though we may put as many safeguards in place as is humanly possible, mistakes will be made; ignorance will be revealed; errors will occur. As great of a historian as Herodotus was, he sometimes erred. As brilliant of a man as Aristotle was, he was terribly incorrect at times (see Jackson, 1997). As accomplished a writer as was the eighth-century B.C. Greek poet Homer, sometimes “even good old Homer nods” (Horace, 1.359). It simply is humanly impossible to be correct about everything a person says or writes. “With God,” however, “all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).
If an all-knowing, all-powerful God exists (and there is ample proof that He does—see Lyons and Butt, 2014), then such a God could produce written revelation for His human creation that was flawless in its original production. He could guide uneducated men to write about events that occurred hundreds or thousands of years before their time with complete accuracy. He could “move” (otherwise) ordinary men to write flawlessly about any number of contemporary people, places, and things (2 Peter 1:20-21). He could even guide man to write about future events with perfect accuracy. In truth, the all-encompassing reason (which shall be dissected into three parts) that a person can come to the rational conclusion that the Bible is “given by inspiration of God” is because the writers of the Bible were amazingly accurate…about everything.

Reason #1: Predictive Prophecy

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a horrible tragedy shocked the United States of America when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Amidst the tragedy, a rumor circulated that Nostradamus, a supposed fortuneteller, had predicted the turn of events. Web sites with information on Nostradamus received thousands, even millions of hits. After all was said and done, the rumored prediction had been fabricated and misunderstood; Nostradamus had not predicted the future. But it was obvious from the public’s response that anyone who can accurately predict the future is more than just a little special. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “Who is he who speaks, and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37). The prophet’s point was clear: no one accurately foretells the future unless God informs him of it. Therefore, if the Bible accurately predicts the future, we can know that it is from God.
The fact is, the Bible contains numerous prophecies that ancient history has shown to be perfectly fulfilled in every detail. Consider a few examples. [NOTE: For many other instances that space restraints will not allow in this article, please consult Apologetics Press’s book Behold! The Word of God or visit the “Inspiration of the Bible” section of www.apologeticspress.org.]

The Fall of the City of Tyre

According to history, the Phoenician city of Tyre stood as one of the most ancient and prosperous cities in history. During a visit to the temple of Heracles in Tyre in the fifth century B.C., the historian Herodotus inquired about the age of the temple, to which the inhabits replied that the temple was as old as “Tyre itself, and that Tyre had already stood for two thousand three hundred years” (Herodotus, 2:44). According to the early 20th-century Hebrew and Greek scholar, Wallace Fleming, in his book The History of Tyre, “As early as 1400 B.C., Tyre was not only a great city but was considered impregnable” (1966, p. 8).
In the early sixth century B.C., however, the prophet Ezekiel mentioned several events that were to occur in Tyre as punishment for the city’s arrogance and merciless actions (26:1-14,19-21). The prophet predicted: (1) Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, would build a siege mound against the city; (2) many nations would come against Tyre; (3) the city would be broken down, scraped like the top of a rock, and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” (4) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” and (5) the city would never be rebuilt.
History reveals that everything Ezekiel prophesied about Tyre came to pass.
  • Nebuchadnezzar “besieged Tyre for thirteen years in the days of Ithobal, their king” (Josephus, 1.21). The king of Babylon severely damaged the mainland as Ezekiel predicted, but the island city remained primarily unaffected.
  • Regarding the prediction that “many nations” would come against Tyre, in 392 B.C., “Tyre was involved in the war which arose between the Persians and Evagorus of Cyprus” in which the king of Egypt “took Tyre by assault” (Fleming, p. 52). Sixty years later, in 332, Alexander the Great besieged Tyre and crushed it. In fact, Tyre was contested by so many foreign forces that Fleming wrote: “It seemed ever the fate of the Phoenician cities to be between an upper and a nether millstone” (p. 66). Thus, Ezekiel’s prophecy about “many nations” remains as a historical reality that cannot be successfully gainsaid.
  • By 333 B.C., Ezekiel’s 250-plus-year-old prophecy that Tyre would be destroyed and its building material cast into the midst of the waters had yet to materialize. But that situation was soon altered. Ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, who lived from approximately 80-20 B.C., wrote extensively of Alexander the Great’s dealing with Tyre (see Siculus, 17.40-46). Secular history details Alexander’s destruction of Tyre, which coincides precisely with Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning what would happen to the city’s building materials. As Ezekiel had predicted, the stones, timber, and soil of the mainland city were thrown into the midst of the sea in an unprecedented military maneuver (Fleming, p. 56), which allowed Alexander to create a land bridge upon which his army could come across to defeat the island city of Tyre. For Ezekiel to have accurately “guessed” this situation would be to stretch the law of probability beyond the limits of absurdity.
  • Ultimately, in A.D. 1291, the Sultan Halil massacred the inhabitants of Tyre and subjected the city to utter ruin. “Houses, factories, temples, everything in the city was consigned to the sword, flame and ruin” (Fleming, p. 122). After this major defeat in 1291, Fleming cites several travel logs in which visitors to the city mention that citizens of the area in 1697 were “only a few poor wretches...subsisting chiefly upon fishing” (p. 124).
Taking these accounts into consideration, it is obvious that many nations continued to come against the island city, that it was destroyed on numerous occasions, and that it became a place for fishing, fulfilling Ezekiel’s prediction about the spreading of nets. Furthermore, it is evident that the multiple periods of destruction and rebuilding of the city have long since buried the Phoenician city that came under the condemnation of Ezekiel. The Columbia Encyclopedia, under its entry for Tyre, noted: “The principal ruins of the city today are those of buildings erected by the Crusaders. There are some Greco-Roman remains, but any left by the Phoenicians lie underneath the present town” (“Tyre,” 2006).
So accurate were the prophecies made by Ezekiel that skeptics are forced to suggest a later date for his writings. Yet, such a later date cannot be maintained, and the admission of Ezekiel’s accuracy stands as irrefutable evidence of the prophet’s divine inspiration. With the penetrating gaze that can only be maintained by the Divine, God looked hundreds of years into the future and instructed Ezekiel precisely what to write so that in the centuries following the predictions, the fulfillment of every detail of the prophet’s words could be denied by no honest student of history. “When the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (Jeremiah 28:9).

The Fall of Babylon and the Rise of Cyrus

Imagine taking a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and visiting the State House where the Constitutional Convention took place in 1787. During the tour, your guide points to a document dating back to just this side of the Convention—about the year 1820. The piece of parchment tells of a man named George W. Bush from Austin, Texas who would be President of the United States within the next 200 years. But how could someone know that a man named George W. Bush would be born in the United States? And how could someone know more than a century before Mr. Bush ever was born that he would be President of the United States? Furthermore, how could someone in 1820 know that a man from Texas (named George W. Bush) would be President of the United States when Texas wasn’t even part of the Union yet? Such a prophecy truly would be amazing! Yet, obviously no such prediction was ever made. Amazingly, the Bible makes a comparable prediction, which was fulfilled with complete accuracy.
In the eighth century B.C., Isaiah vividly described how God would destroy the powerful kingdom of Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms” (13:19). Writing as if it had already occurred (commonly known as the “prophetic perfect,” frequently employed in the Old Testament to stress the absolute certainty of fulfillment), Isaiah declared Babylon would fall (21:9). He then prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13; 21:1-10). Later, he proclaimed that the “golden city” (Babylon) would be conquered by a man named Cyrus (44:28; 45:1-7). (This prophecy is remarkable, especially since Cyrus was not even born until almost 150 years after Isaiah penned these words.) Not only did Isaiah predict that Cyrus would overthrow Babylon, he also wrote that Cyrus, serving as Jehovah’s “anointed” and “shepherd,” would release the Jews from captivity and assist them in their return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple. All of this was written almost two centuries before Cyrus conquered Babylon (539 B.C.).
Amazingly, secular history verifies that all of these events came true. There really was a man named Cyrus who ruled the Medo-Persian Empire. He did conquer Babylon. And just as Isaiah prophesied, he assisted the Jews in their return to Jerusalem and in the rebuilding of the Temple.
Jeremiah also predicted the destruction of Babylon, the most powerful nation in the world at the time the predictions were made (Jeremiah 50-51). He predicted that Babylon’s water would be dried up, and her soldiers would be drunken and sleep a perpetual sleep. The precision of his predictions was remarkably verified when Cyrus redirected the Euphrates River and entered Babylon through the opening where the river usually entered. The entrance was left unattended because the Babylonians were getting drunk during a festival celebration.

Messianic Prophecies

Throughout the pages of the Old Testament there are over 250 prophecies about a coming Messiah. Each one of these is fulfilled in minute detail in the life of Jesus Christ. While it is true that most people’s lives can only be chronicled after they have lived it, the life of Jesus was chronicled before He arrived on Earth. In addition, a host of the prophecies concerning Christ were intentionally specific and could not have been arranged by a mere human who was falsely claiming to be the Messiah. For instance, the Old Testament told where the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2), a situation that cannot be manipulated by the one being born. The circumstances of the Messiah’s death were detailed, even down to His burial, which provides another instance in which the deceased could not have connived a fulfillment.
In contrasting the God of Israel with the pagan idols of old, the prophet Isaiah issued a challenge to those who believed in the potency of their pagan deities. Isaiah said this about the idols: “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them…. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods” (41:22-23). According to Isaiah, any deity that could consistently forecast the future would be recognized as a true God, while any unable to tell the future should be relegated to the rubbish pile of false religions. In order to prove that the God of Israel was the true God, Isaiah quoted this from the mouth of God: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (46:9-10). Truly, Isaiah’s God could tell the future. The fall of Tyre and Babylon, the reign of Cyrus, and the coming Messiah are but a few of the more prominent examples. When evidence is honestly considered, the truth seeker must admit that the prophecies contained in the Bible show that it was penned by the inspiration of God.

Reason #2: Scientific Accuracy and Foreknowledge

While the Bible does not present itself as a scientific or medical textbook, it is only reasonable that if God really did inspire the books of the Bible, they would be completely accurate in every scientific or medical detail found within their pages. Furthermore, all scientific and medical errors that fill the pages of other ancient, non-inspired texts should be entirely absent from the biblical record. Is the Bible infallible when it speaks about scientific disciplines, or does it contain the errors that one would expect to find in the writings of fallible men in ancient times?
The Egyptians were renowned in the ancient world for their progress in the field of medicine. Dr. Samuel Massengill, early 20th-century pharmaceutical chemist, noted that “Egypt was the medical center of the ancient world” (1943, p. 13). Herodotus recorded that it was king Darius’ practice “to keep in attendance certain Egyptian doctors, who had a reputation for the highest eminence in their profession” (Herodotus, 3.129). Among the ancient documents that detail much of the Egyptian medicinal knowledge that has survived, the Ebers Papyrus (discovered in 1872) ranks as one of the foremost sources (Bryan, 1930, p. 1). It consists of a host of medical remedies purported to heal, enhance, and prevent. “Altogether 811 prescriptions are set forth in the papyrus, and they take the form of salves, plasters, and poultices; snuffs, inhalations, and gargles; draughts, confections, and pills; fumigations, suppositories, and enemata” (p. 15). Among the hundreds of prescriptions, we find disgusting treatments that caused much more harm than good. For instance, under a section titled “What to do to draw out splinters in the flesh,” a remedy is prescribed consisting of “worm blood, mole, and donkey dung” (p. 73). Remedies to help heal skin diseases included such things as cat dung, dog dung, and a hog’s tooth (p. 92). It seems that the Egyptians were among the first to present the idea of “good and laudable pus” (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 10). While it must be noted that some of the Egyptian medicine was helpful, the harmful remedies and ingredients cast a sickening shadow of untrustworthiness on the entire Egyptian endeavor as viewed by the modern reader.
Admittedly, the Bible is not devoted to long lists of medical prescriptions. The Bible writers did not intend to write a medical textbook. There are, however, especially in the first five books of the Old Testament, numerous rules for sanitation, quarantine, and other medical procedures that were to govern the daily lives of the Israelites. Interestingly, the harmful remedies and ingredients prescribed by other ancient civilizations are missing entirely from the pages of the Bible. In fact, the Pentateuch exhibits an understanding of germs and disease that the “modern” medical community did not grasp until relatively recently.

Germs, Labor Fever, and Biblical Sanitation

In 1847, an obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis was the director of a hospital ward in Vienna, Austria. Many pregnant women checked into his ward, but 10-18% of those women never checked out. About one out of every six that received treatment in Semmelweis’ ward died of labor fever (Nuland, 2003, p. 31). Autopsies revealed pus under their skin, in their chest cavities, in their eye sockets, etc. Semmelweis was distraught over the mortality rate in his ward, and other hospital wards like it all over Europe. Nuland noted that Australia, the Americas, Britain, Ireland, and practically every other nation that had established a hospital suffered a similar mortality rate (pp. 41-43). If a woman delivered a baby using a midwife, then the death rate fell to only about 3%. Yet if she chose to use the most advanced medical knowledge and facilities of the day, her chance of dying skyrocketed immensely!
Semmelweis had tried everything to curb the carnage. He turned all the women on their sides in hopes that the death rate would drop, but with no results. He thought maybe the bell that the priest rang in the wee hours of the morning scared the women. So, he made the priest enter silently, yet without any drop in death rates. As he contemplated his dilemma, he watched young medical students perform their routine tasks. Each day the students would conduct autopsies on the dead mothers. Then they would rinse their hands in a bowl of bloody water, wipe them off on a shared, dirty towel, and immediately begin internal examinations of the still-living women. Medical doctor and historian Sherwin Nuland commented concerning the practice: “Because there seemed no reason for them to wash their hands, except superficially, or change their clothing before coming to the First Division, they did neither” (p. 100). As a 21st-century observer, one is appalled to think that such practices actually took place in institutes of what was at the time “modern technology.” What doctor in his right mind would touch a dead person and then perform examinations on living patients—without first employing some sort of minimal hygienic practices intended to kill germs? But to Europeans in the middle-19th-century, germs were virtually a foreign concept.
Semmelweis then ordered everyone in his ward to wash his or her hands thoroughly in a chlorine solution after every examination. In three months, the death rate fell from 18% to 1%. Semmelweis had made a groundbreaking discovery…or had he? Almost 3,300 years before Semmelweis lived, Moses had written: “He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean” (Numbers 19:11-12). Germs were no new discovery in 1847; the biblical text recorded measures to check their spread as far back as circa 1500 B.C.

Germs and the Water of Purification

When Old Testament instructions are compared to the New Testament explanations for those actions, it becomes clear that some of the ancient injunctions were primarily symbolic in nature (e.g., John 19:31-37). With the presence of such symbolism in the Old Testament, it is important, however, that we do not overlook Old Testament instructions that were pragmatic in value and that testify to a Master Mind behind the writing of the Law. One such instruction is found in Numbers 19, where the Israelites were instructed to prepare the “water of purification” that was to be used to wash any person who had touched a dead body.
At first glance, the water of purification sounds like a hodge-podge of superstitious potion-making that included the ashes of a young cow, hyssop, cedar wood, and scarlet. But this formula was the farthest thing from a potion intended to “ward off evil spirits.” On the contrary, the recipe for the water of purification stands today as a wonderful example of the Bible’s brilliance, since the recipe is nothing less than a procedure to produce an antibacterial soap.
When we look at the ingredients individually, we begin to see the value of each. First, consider the use of ashes. The chemical known as lye is one of the main ingredients in many soaps today. In fact, lye, in high concentrations, is very caustic and irritating to the skin. In more diluted concentrations, it can be used as an excellent exfoliate and cleansing agent. Various lye-soap recipes reveal that, to obtain lye, water often is poured through ashes. The water retrieved from pouring it through the ashes contains a concentration of the chemical. Moses instructed the Israelites to prepare a mixture that would have included lye mixed in a diluted solution, which would have been ideal for stopping the spread of germs.
What about the specific ingredients for the water of purification? Hyssop contains the antiseptic thymol, the same ingredient that we find today in some brands of mouthwash (McMillen and Stern, p. 24). “Cedar wood has long been used for storage cabinets because of its ability to repel insects and prevent decay. In oil form, applied to humans, it is an antiseptic, astringent, expectorant (removes mucus from respiratory system), anti-fungal, sedative and insecticide” (“Cedar Oil,” n.d.). The Israelites were instructed to toss into the mix “scarlet,” which most likely was scarlet wool (see Hebrews 9:19). Adding wool fibers to the concoction would have made the mixture the “ancient equivalent of Lava® soap” (McMillen and Stern, p. 25).
Thousands of years before any formal studies were done to see what type of cleaning methods were the most effective; millennia before American pioneers concocted their lye solutions; and ages before our most advanced medical students knew a thing about germ theory, Moses instructed the Israelites to concoct an amazingly effective recipe for soap, that, if used properly in medical facilities like hospitals in Vienna, would literally have saved thousands of lives.


The Old Testament record added another extremely beneficial practice to the field of medicine in its detailed descriptions of maladies for which living individuals should be quarantined. The book of Leviticus lists a host of diseases and ways in which an Israelite would come in contact with germs. Those with such diseases as leprosy were instructed to “dwell alone” “outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:46). If and when a diseased individual got close to those who were not diseased, he was instructed to “cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” (13:45). It is of interest that the covering of one’s mustache (“upper lip”—ASV) would prevent spit and spray from the mouth of the individual to pass freely through the air, much like the covering of one’s mouth during a cough.
In regard to the understanding of contagion that is evident in the quarantine rules in the Old Testament, Roderick McGrew noted in the Encyclopedia of Medical History: “The idea of contagion was foreign to the classic medical tradition and found no place in the voluminous Hippocratic writings. The Old Testament, however, is a rich source for contagionist sentiment, especially in regard to leprosy and venereal disease” (1985, pp. 77-78). Here again, the Bible exhibits amazingly accurate medical and scientific knowledge that surpasses any known human ingenuity available at the time of its writing.
Many physicians who have compared Moses’ medical instructions to effective modern methods have come to realize the astonishing value and insight of the Bible. As 20th-century pharmacologist and Hebrew scholar, Dr. David Macht of Johns Hopkins University, once wrote: “Every word in the Hebrew Scriptures is well chosen and carries valuable knowledge and deep significance” (1953, p. 450). Indeed, the accurate medical practices prescribed thousands of years before their significance was completely understood provide excellent evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.

Reason #3: The Overall Factual accuracy of the Bible

Suppose we were to ask a group of historians to author the most up-to-date history of the United States of America on the market. Suppose we gave them years to finish it and unlimited resources to use for their research. At the end of that period, with their newly published volume in hand, could we be confident that they had accurately recorded the significant dates and information perfectly? No, we could not. In fact, within just a few years, as every decent publishing company owner knows, we would need a second edition. Within a decade, so much new information would have come to light that a third or fourth edition would be necessary. And within 20 years, we most likely would need a completely new book if we wanted to preserve history accurately. But when we look into the 66 books of the Bible, we find perfect historical accuracy that has never needed updating or correcting.
Every single statement of the Bible that can be historically checked or verified has shown that the Bible writers never once made a mistake. The fact that the books of the Bible are perfectly accurate indicates that an intelligence beyond human ability must have been involved in the composition of the books.

The Accuracy of Acts

Sir William Ramsay was a one-time unbeliever and world-class archaeologist. His extensive education had ingrained within him the keenest sense of scholarship. But along with that scholarship came a built-in prejudice about the supposed inaccuracy of the Bible (specifically the book of Acts). As Ramsay himself remarked:
[A]bout 1880 to 1890, the book of the Acts was regarded as the weakest part of the New Testament. No one that had any regard for his reputation as a scholar cared to say a word in its defence. The most conservative of theological scholars, as a rule, thought the wisest plan of defence for the New Testament as a whole was to say as little as possible about the Acts (1915, p. 38).
As could be expected of someone who had been trained by such “scholars,” Ramsay held the same view. He eventually abandoned it, however, because he was willing to do what few people of his time dared to do—explore the Bible lands themselves with an archaeologist’s pick in one hand and an open Bible in the other. His self-stated intention was to prove the inaccuracy of Luke’s history as recorded in the book of Acts. But, much to his surprise, the book of Acts passed every test that any historical narrative could be asked to pass. In fact, after years of literally digging through the evidence in Asia Minor, Ramsay concluded that Luke was an exemplary historian. Lee S. Wheeler, in his classic work Famous Infidels Who Found Christ, recounted Ramsay’s life story in great detail (1931, pp. 102-106), and then quoted the famed archaeologist, who ultimately admitted:
The more I have studied the narrative of the Acts, and the more I have learned year after year about Graeco-Roman society and thoughts and fashions, and organization in those provinces, the more I admire and the better I understand. I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it here [in the book of Acts—KB/EL]. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s, and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment, provided always that the critic knows the subject and does not go beyond the limits of science and of justice (Ramsay, 1915, p. 89).
Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, is now widely acknowledged as an extremely accurate historian in his own right—so much so that Ramsay came to believe in Christianity as a result of his personal examination of the preciseness of Luke’s historical record. What legitimate reason is there to reject Luke’s amazingly accurate testimony? As Wayne Jackson summarized:
In Acts, Luke mentions thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine Mediterranean islands. He also mentions ninety-five persons, sixty-two of which are not named elsewhere in the New Testament. And his references, where checkable, are always correct. This is truly remarkable, in view of the fact that the political/territorial situation of his day was in a state of almost constant change (1991, 27:2).

The Pilate Inscription

The last few days of Jesus’ life were the most tragic of any in human history. Amidst all the violence, there stood one man who had the power to stop all the torture. One man could call off the Roman soldiers and save Christ from being crucified. His name—Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who governed the area of Judea at the time of Christ’s death. The story of the crucifixion can hardly be told without mentioning the name of this Roman official who sentenced Christ to death—even though Pilate knew He was innocent (John 18:38; 19:4,6).
Although the Bible mentions Pilate on several occasions, his name could not be found among the archaeological evidence. For hundreds of years, no stone inscriptions or other physical evidence could be produced to support the idea that a man named Pilate had anything to do with either Christ or Judea. Because of this, many mocked the Bible and claimed that creative biblical writers concocted Pilate from their own fertile imaginations. After all, if Pilate were such a prominent leader, wouldn’t there be some kind of archaeological evidence to verify his existence?
Critics were silenced when, in 1961, an Italian archaeological team working at Caesarea found a stone tablet that measured 32 inches high, by 27 inches wide, by 8 inches thick. On this slab, now known as the “Pilate Inscription,” were the remains of this simple title: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea”—almost the exact same title as the one given to him in Luke 3:1. This, then, became yet another find to remind us that the more we uncover the past, the more we uncover the truth that the Bible is indeed the Word of God (see Price, 1997, pp. 307-308).
The truth is, numerous archaeological finds have verified the Bible’s accuracy. As the renowned archaeologist Nelson Glueck wrote: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible” (1959, p. 31). Truly, the perfect historical accuracy, without the tell-tale mistakes that are found in works written by mere humans, testifies to the Bible’s divine origin.


No series of books in human history has maintained the supernatural consistency that is present within the pages of the Bible. From the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation, approximately 40 men penned individual treatises that combine to form the best-selling, most widely distributed, perfectly unified, flawlessly written book ever produced. Mere human genius never could have produced a work with such predictive prophecy, scientific foreknowledge, and overall factual accuracy. Common sense demands an adequate explanation. The only rational conclusion, which is in keeping with the evidence at hand, is that the Bible is “given by inspiration of God.”


“Best Selling Book of Non-Fiction” (2014), Guinness World Records, http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-1/best-selling-book-of-non-fiction/.
Bryan, Cyril (1930), Ancient Egyptian Medicine: The Papyrus Ebers (Chicago, IL: Ares Publishers).
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