"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS" Edifying And Comforting One Another (5:11)



Edifying And Comforting One Another (5:11)


1. To be prepared for the coming of the Lord, Paul exhorted Christians
   to be "sons of light and sons of the day" - cf. 1Th 5:4-7
   a. Which necessitates putting on the armor of God - cf. 1Th 5:8
   b. Which also includes edifying and comforting one another - cf. 1 Th 5:11

2. This last charge to edify and comfort one another is just one of many
   "one another" passages in the New Testament; here are some of them:
   a. Love one another - Jn 13:34-35
   b. Be affectionate to one another, and honor one another - Ro 12:10
   c. Serve one another - Ga 5:13
   d. Bear with one another - Ep 4:2
   e. Submit to one another - Ep 5:21
   f. Be kind to one another, and forgive one another - Ep 4:32
   g. Exhort one another - He 3:13

3. These are based upon the principle that we are "members of one
   another" - Ro 12:5
   a. Implying an interdependence where we need one another
   b. An interdependence felt and expressed most keenly in the local

[In this lesson, I wish to focus our attention upon the charge to
"comfort each other and edify one another", especially in our
relationship as members of the same congregation.  We note first the


      1. The Greek is parakaleo
      2. Lit., to call to one's side, call for, summon
      3. Hence, either "an exhortation, or consolation, comfort"
      -- The picture is one where someone walks alongside of another,
         providing comfort, even exhortation

      1. Each member of the Godhead is a source of comfort
         a. The God of all comfort - 2Co 1:3; Ro 15:5
         b. The Lord Jesus Christ - 2Th 2:16-17
         c. The Holy Spirit - Ac 9:31
      2. The Word of God is a source of comfort
         a. Such as the Old Testament writings - Ro 15:4
         b. As well as New Testament promises - 1Th 4:18
      3. Our brethren are to be a source of comfort - 1Th 4:18; 5:11
         a. As Paul expected Tychicus to do for both the Ephesians and 
            the Colossians - Ep 6:21-22; Col 4:7-8
         b. As others had done for Paul - Col 4:10-11
      -- We are blessed to have so many different sources of comfort
         available to us!

      1. We must as individuals be in a right relationship with God 
         - 1Pe 3:12
         a. Which involves doing the Father's will - Mt 7:21-23
         b. Which involves keeping the Lord's commandments - Jn 14:21-23
      2. We must as individuals feed upon the Word of God - Jm 1:21
         a. The source of much comfort - Ro 15:4
         b. Comfort that comes from the joy and peace it gives - Ps 1:1-3; 119:165; Jer 15:16
      3. We must as "members of one another" comfort one another - 1Th 5:11
         a. With the comfort we each have received from God - 2Co 1:3-4
            1) Each of us receive comfort through our individual 
               relationship with God
            2) Each of us receive comfort through our relationship with 
               one another
         b. Can we not see the importance of involvement in the local 
            1) Unless we are active members, comforting one another...
            2) We miss out, and brethren miss out, on the comfort God 
               offers His people!
      4. God intends for us to receive comfort from two angles:
         a. Horizontally, through our relationship with Him
         b. Vertically, through our relationship with one another in
            the local church!

[Why deprive ourselves of the great blessing of comfort from God?  Why
shortchange ourselves when God desires us to have comfort "coming and
going"?  We hurt not only ourselves, but also our brethren!  Don't
forget Jesus' words in Mt 25:41-46.  Consider now also the charge to...]


      1. The Greek is oikodomeo
      2. Lit., to build a house
      3. Used metaphorically, in the sense of "edifying," promoting the
         spiritual growth and development of character of believers, by
         teaching or by example (Vine's)
      -- Each person is undergoing a spiritual construction project, 
         aided by the efforts of those around him or her

      1. Building up one another is something to "pursue" - Ro 14:19
      2. We need to be careful not to "destroy the work of God" - Ro 14:20
      3. We must be willing to bear with one another if it means 
         edification - Ro 15:1-3
      -- Building each other up is an obligation that has been placed 
         upon all Christians!

      1. It is done through the church, which Christ designed to edify 
         or build up its members - cf. Ep 4:11-12; 1Co 14:26
      2. It is done through the working of each individual member, doing
         his or her part - Ep 4:16
      3. It is done through kind and graceful words to one another - Ep 4:29
      -- The key point is this:  edification (like comfort) takes place
         through our involvement with one another in the local church!


1. To the Thessalonians, Paul was able to follow-up his command to
   comfort and edify one another with this statement:  "...just as you
   also are doing." - 1Th 5:11
   a. They were already comforting one another
   b. They were already edifying one another
   -- Yet like the command to love another, there is always the need to
      abound more and more - cf. 1Th 4:9-10

2. Could Paul have said the same of us as a church?  Of you as a
   a. Are we engaged in the ministry of providing comfort and 
      edification to our brethren?
   b. If you are not an active member of a local congregation, how can
   -- May this command of God motivate us to examine ourselves and our
      relationships with our brethren in the congregation where we work
      and worship!

If Paul could have written the same to us ("...just as you also are
doing."), then keep up the good work, and remember the words given to
encourage another congregation:

   "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
   abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not
   in vain in the Lord."

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality?

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

As one begins a perusal of the New Testament, he encounters an unusual phenomenon known as “demon possession.” The first Gospel writer recorded these words: “And the report of him [Jesus] went forth into all Syria: and they brought unto him all that were sick, holden with divers diseases and torments, possessed with demons, and epileptic, and palsied; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:24, ASV). From this point on, there are numerous references to “demons” or “demon possession” in the New Testament. [NOTE: “Devils,” as found in the KJV, is an incorrect rendition. The Greek word for devil is diabolos. Other terms, diamon(found once) and dimonion (63 times), are transliterated as “demon(s)” in the ASV. There is only one devil, but there are many demons.]
Critics of the Bible, of course, allege that this is an example of the sort of gross superstition that characterizes the ancient volume. The following quote represents a typical atheistic approach to this matter:
Mark 5:1-13 relates an incredible story wherein Jesus casts out the “devils” from an unfortunate man. He then causes the devils to enter, instead, a herd of swine, and the swine, thus bedeviled, race over a cliff, fall into the sea and drown. Fundamentalists would have us believe that this is a true story. That tells us a lot about fundamentalists. Belief in demons and fairies and goblins and dragons ended, for most people, ages ago, and is remembered only in some Fairy Tales. Such primeval superstitions should be left behind, in our colorful past, where they belong (Hayes, 1996, pp. 129-130).
Even religious modernists are prone to dismiss the biblical accounts of demon possession. William Barclay wrote:
We need not argue whether demons were realities or not. One thing certain is that in the time of Jesus people believed in them with terrified intensity. If a man believes he is ill, he will be ill. If a man believed that he was demon-possessed, then, illusion or no, he was definitely ill in mind and body (1976, p. 26).
The Scottish scholar went on to concede that Jesus may have believed in demons, but that “He did not come into this world to give men medical knowledge, and there is no reason to think that his medical knowledge would be any more advanced than that of the people of his day” (p. 27).
To suggest that such a comment is a reflection upon the deity of Christ is an understatement. The New Testament does not represent Jesus merely as believing in demons, but depicts Him actually speaking to these beings, and being spoken to by them. He even commanded demons to do certain things. Either these evil spirits were a reality, or else the biblical record is entirely wrong. There is no other way to view the matter.
This sort of a priori dismissal of the historical record is typical of unbelief. The skeptic, and even those religionists who have been influenced by the rationalistic mode of thought, repudiate anything that is not consistent with current human experience. But such an ideology simply is not an intelligent basis upon which to establish conclusions. There is validity in the credibility of historical testimony. The reality of demon activity, therefore, is not to be determined upon the basis of twentieth-century experiences; rather, it is grounded in whether or not the New Testament documents are credible.
While I do not have the space to explore this matter in depth, I would like to make this observation. In 1846, Simon Greenleaf, Dane Professor of Law at Harvard University, produced a work titled The Testimony of the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. Greenleaf was the greatest authority in the history of legal procedure on what constitutes evidence. His massive three-volume set, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence (1842-53), is, to this very day, a standard on the topic of evidence. Greenleaf argued in The Testimony—with dramatic authority—that the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John passed the strictest tests of authenticity, and thus may be regarded as dependable (1903, pp. 1-54). And without controversy is the fact that these writers described cases of demonic activity during the ministry of Jesus.


The etymology of the term “demon” is rather obscure, but some have suggested that it comes from a Greek root meaning “to know,” hence probably means “a knowing one” (Vine, 1991, p. 203). Vincent noted that Plato derived the term from daemon, signifying “knowing” or “wise” (1972, p. 92). Ancient Greek writers suggested that the genesis of the term is to be found in the fact that these entities were considered to be “intelligent beings” (McClintock and Strong, 1968, 2:639). I will not concern myself with a detailed discussion of how demons were perceived in the ancient world, except to say that they were seen as evil spirits “somewhere between the human and the divine” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, p. 168).
Unlike the speculative literature of antiquity, the New Testament makes no attempt to explain the origin of demons or to describe any materialized features (cf. Reese, 1992, 2:141). This appears to be significant; the restraint, I believe, is a subtle evidence of the divine inspiration of the narratives (see Jackson, 1996). Scholars, however, have speculated as to the origin of demons. I will consider briefly some of the prevalent ideas.
(1) Some claim that demons were the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamic race of men who lived upon the Earth in a “gap period” that allegedly fits between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. There are two things wrong with that notion: (a) There is absolutely no evidence that there ever was a historical “gap” between the first two verses of Genesis (see Fields, 1976). (b) There were no people before Adam. He came directly from God (Luke 3:38), and was the “first” man (1 Corinthians 15:45).
(2) Others trace the origin of demons to a supposed cohabitation between angels and certain women of the pre-Flood world (Genesis 6:1-6). This theory is negated by the fact that Christ taught that angels are sexless beings, incapable of such unions (Matthew 22:30; see also Kaiser, 1992, pp. 33-38).
(3) It has been argued that first-century demons may be identified with the fallen angels mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6, some of whom, consistent with the divine plan, were permitted to leave temporarily that sphere of confinement for the purpose of inhabiting certain people. Charles Hodge argued this theory (1960, p. 643), which probably is the most popular idea regarding this matter.
(4) Another view is that demons were the spirits of wicked dead men who were allowed by God to leave the Hadean realm to accommodate the implementation of the divine plan of redemption. Josephus claimed that demons were the “spirits of the wicked, that enter into men that are alive and kill them, unless they can obtain some help against them” (Wars 7.6.3). Alexander Campbell delivered a lecture in Nashville, Tennessee on March 10, 1841, in which he, in rather persuasive fashion, argued the case that the “demons” of the ancient world were the spirits of the dead. The printed form of that presentation is well worth studying (Campbell, n.d., pp. 379-402).
In the final analysis, no dogmatic conclusion can be drawn with reference to the origin of demons. That they existed admits of no doubt to anyone who takes the Bible seriously; as to their origin, the Scriptures are silent.


The nature of demons is spelled out explicitly in the New Testament. They were “spirit” beings. This, of course, creates a problem for the skeptic, who denies that there is anything beyond the material. But consider the testimony of Matthew. “And when evening was come, they brought unto him [Christ] many possessed with demons: and he cast out the spirits with a word” (8:16). Note that the terms “demons” and “spirits” are used interchangeably. Since it is known also that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), one must conclude that demons were not physical beings.
As spirit entities, demons could exercise both volition (“I will return...”) and locomotion (“Then goeth he...”) (Matthew 12:44-45). Moreover, they could assimilate factual information. A demon once spoke to Christ and said: “I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34; cf. Mark 1:24). Too, they possessed a religious sensitivity. “Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well, the demons also believe and shudder” (James 2:19). “Shudder” suggests to “be struck with extreme fear, to be horrified” (Thayer, 1958, p. 658). The fact is, they tremble in prospect of their ultimate doom (see Matthew 8:29).
As to their character, demons are depicted as “unclean” and “evil.” In describing the vile nature of the Jewish nation of His day, the Lord gave an illustration regarding a man who was possessed of an “unclean” spirit (Matthew 12:43); the spirit left the man, but eventually re-entered the gentleman, taking with him other spirits “more evil” than himself (vs. 45). This passage reveals the “unclean” (Greek akathartos—“not pure”) or “evil” (kakos—that which not only is morally malignant, but injurious as well; cf. Vine, 1991, p. 272) disposition of demons. From this text it is observed also that there were degrees of vileness (“more evil”) in demons.


The physical and/or mental effects occurring in certain individuals as a consequence of being possessed by a demon or demons (more than one could indwell a person; Mary Magdalene had once been inhabited by seven demons—Luke 8:2) were varied. Some demoniacs were afflicted with blindness and/or the inability to speak (Matthew 9:32; 12:22). Some thus possessed might be prone to violent convulsions. A case recorded by all three synoptic writers tells of a young man who was “epileptic.” He suffered grievously, frequently falling into the fire or into water (Matthew 17:15). He was dashed to the ground and bruised badly (Mark 9:18; Luke 9:39); he foamed at the mouth, ground his teeth, and “pineth away” (Mark 9:18). This final descriptive may suggest that the boy’s body became rigid so that he was incapable of motion (Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, p. 550). A demon-possessed man who lived among the tombs on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee had excessive strength. He often had been bound with chains and fetters, but he had broken these restraints into pieces, and no one had the power to tame him (cf. also Acts 19:16). Further, he was characterized by both emotional illness and antisocial behavior (e.g., he wore no clothes—Luke 8:27), but when Christ purged the demon from the poor fellow he was observed “clothed, and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
It is important to distinguish between cause and effect in these cases. The cause was that of demon possession; the effects were physical and/or emotional maladies. The Scriptures never confuse the two. In other words, “demon possession” was not just an ancient, unenlightened attempt to explain physical and/or mental problems. Rather, a clear distinction is made between being inhabited by an unclean spirit and being sick. Demon possession could produce illness, but not all illness was attributed to the indwelling of evil spirits. Note the distinction that is drawn in the following passage. “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him [Jesus] all that were sick, and them that were possessed with demons” (Mark 1:32). The double use of the definite article (tous), together with the conjunction, reveals that two distinct classes are under consideration—those who were merely sick, and those who were demon possessed and may or may not have had attending problems. Lenski has commented: “Two classes are markedly distinguished; those suffering from ordinary diseases and those possessed with demons. The distinction shows that the latter cannot be classed with the former in spite of modern attempts in that direction” (1964, p. 84).


The New Testament clearly indicates that demons were under the control of divine authority. Jesus, for example, could command them to leave a person (Matthew 8:16), or even to keep quiet (Mark 1:34). The demons that tormented the man in the country of the Gerasenes could not enter the nearby swine herd except by the Lord’s concession (Mark 5:13-14). Since it is the case that demons could do nothing except by divine permission, the intriguing question is: Why did God allow these malevolent beings to enter into people?
The truth of the matter is, the Bible does not give a specific answer to this question—as much as our curiosity wants to be fed. I believe, though, that a reasonable case can be built to help shed some light on the subject.
If the mission of Jesus Christ, as the divine Son of God, was to be effective, the Lord’s absolute authority had to be established. No stone could be left unturned. Accordingly, we see the Savior demonstrating His authority in a variety of ways. (1) Christ exhibited power over diseases and physical ailments (Matthew 9:20-22; John 4:46-54; 9:1-41). (2) The Lord exerted His authority over material objects (Matthew 14:15-21; 17:24-27; John 2:1-11; 21:1-14). (3) Jesus showed that He could control the elements of nature (Matthew 8:23-27). (4) The Master even suspended the force of gravity with reference to His own body when He walked upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-23). (5) The Lord released certain ones who had been captured by death (Matthew 9:18-26; John 11:1-45). (6) Finally, it is not unreasonable to assume that, just as the Savior had displayed His marvelous power in all these realms, it likewise was appropriate that He be able to demonstrate His authority in the spirit sphere as well. Satan is not in full control! In fact, note this interesting passage. When the seventy disciples returned from an evangelistic trip (Luke 10:1), they joyfully proclaimed to Christ: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in thy name.” Jesus responded: “I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:17-18). The significance of that statement is this: the disciples’ power over demons, under the aegis of Christ’s name (authority), was but a preview of the ultimate and complete fall of the devil. One scholar has expressed the matter in the following way.
Jesus viewed the triumph of these [disciples] as being symptomatic of ever so many other victories over Satan throughout the course of the new dispensation, triumphs accomplished through the work of thousands of other missionaries. He was looking far into the future (cf. Matt. 24:14). He saw the ultimate discomfiture of the ugly dragon and all his minions (Hendriksen, 1978, p. 581).
Consider another reference. Christ said: “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. Or how can one enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?, and then he will spoil his house” (Matthew 12:28-29; Luke 11:20-22). The Savior’s argument is: I have cast out demons, the servants of Satan. I could not have done so if I were not stronger than he is. My power thus is superior to his.
These passages, I believe, help us to understand the purpose of demon possession in the first century. It established the comprehensive and supreme authority of the Son of God.
Why demons entered particular individuals is not explained in the Scriptures. Unger speculated that “in the great majority of cases possession is doubtless traced to yielding voluntarily to temptation and to sin...” (1952, p. 95). However, in the instance of the epileptic boy, the lad had been tormented “from childhood” (Mark 9:21), which suggests, at the very least, that personal sin was not necessarily a causative factor in demon possession.
  • The demoniac in the synagogue (Mark 1:23;
    Luke 4:33-36).
  • The Gerasene demoniac (Matthew 8:8:28-34;
    Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39).
  • The Syrophoenician girl (Matthew 15:21-28;
    Mark 7:24-30).
  • The epileptic boy (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark
    9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43).
  • The mute demoniac (Matthew 9:32-34).
  • The blind/mute demoniac (Matthew 12:22ff.;
    Luke 11:15).


It is worthwhile to make this brief observation. The ancient world abounded with superstition relative to demons (where the genuine exists, the counterfeit will be as well). But there is a vast chasm between the accounts of demons in the New Testament and that of the pagan world and, in fact, even among some of the Hebrew nation. For instance, as mentioned earlier, there are no accounts in the New Testament of any visual descriptions of demons. Such characterizations, however, were common in the heathen world. A bronze statue from ancient Babylon contains the image of the demon Pazuzu. The figure has the wings and feet of an eagle, a human body with claws for hands, and a misshapen head (Aune, 1979, 1:920). Josephus tells of a demon expulsion whereby the exorcist “put a ring which had a root of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon, to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils...” (Antiquities 8.2.5). The New Testament contains no such absurd concoctions.


Do evil spirits enter into human bodies and afflict people today? I confidently affirm they do not. Unfortunately, though, some modern writers have argued that demon activity is still a part of Earth’s environment. Charles Ryrie contended that certain “fallen angels” are “still free to roam the earth as demons carrying out Satan’s designs” (1959, p. 296). Merrill Unger, a respected scholar, subtitled his book, Biblical Demonology, “A Study of the Spiritual Forces Behind the Present World Unrest.” Several years ago a book titled UFOs, Satan and Evolution enjoyed a limited circulation in the evangelical community. Therein the author claimed that hundreds of UFO visits to Earth represented an invasion of demons. He cited one “example” where a demon raped a woman (an interesting feat for a spirit!). The fact that a prominent creationist wrote the Foreword for this literary fiasco remains an inexplicable mystery.
The position that demon possession does not exist today can be argued from a twofold base. First, a thoughtful study of the details associated with the so-called modern examples of demon habitation reveals that these cases bear no resemblance to the genuine examples of spirit possession described in the New Testament. The contrast is dramatic. Second, a consideration of certain data set forth in the New Testament leads only to the conclusion that demon possession was a first-century experience; it was allowed for a very specific reason, and the divine concession was suspended near the end of the apostolic era.


When the movie, The Exorcist (based upon William Blatty’s novel of the same name), made its appearance in December 1973, a wave of mystical excitement that has been dubbed “the exorcism frenzy,” swept the nation. (By the time the movie had been out for 5 weeks, Blatty’s book had sold 9 million copies.) Scores of people began to surmise that they were possessed of evil spirits—or that they knew someone else who was! Numerous articles regarding these alleged experiences appeared in mainline newspapers and magazines. A careful consideration of the details involved in these alleged episodes highlights some startling contrasts to the New Testament (cf. Woodward, 1974). Reflect upon the following differences.
(1) The “exorcisms” of today are performed almost invariably in dark, secluded environments, only to be publicized later. When Jesus cast out demons, the episodes were public, and therefore subject to critical examination (cf. Luke 4:31-37).
(2) The Lord could expel evil spirits with but a word, and the effect was immediate (Luke 4:36; Matthew 17:18). The Jesuit Priest who supposedly “exorcised” a demon from the youngster who served as the subject of Blatty’s book, The Exorcist,confessed that it took him two months of preparation (fasting on bread and water), and twenty ritual ceremonies to purge the child.
(3) The demoniacs of the New Testament era were afflicted, either physically or mentally, by a malfunction of what were otherwise normal human traits. Those cases involved no grotesque details. However, according to Roman Catholic priest Luigi Novagese (the official exorcist for the papal diocese in Rome), “A man’s skin turned white like paper, his teeth became transparent, his eyes bulged with balls of flame and fire issued from his mouth.” One priest claimed that a demon took a bite out of his sandwich. The February 11, 1974 issue of Newsweek magazine carried a photo of the burglarized delicacy, displaying perfect, human-like teeth prints! (I wonder—do demons get cavities?)
(4) Modern demoniacs frequently are described as uttering “fierce curses” and “bursts of blasphemy.” In the New Testament record, demons always were very respectful of deity (Mark 1:24; 3:11). There is not a solitary case of a demon blaspheming either God or Christ in the biblical narratives.
(5) Two cases of demon possession in the New Testament reveal that the unclean spirits could empower their hosts with supernatural strength (Mark 5:1-20; cf. Acts 19:13-16). The demoniac described in Mark 5 could not be bound even with a “chain.” A respected university professor posed this interesting query: “If we have demon-possessed people today, why in my travels in over forty countries of the world have I never seen a person who is so strong that you can’t bind him with chains (cf. Mk. 5:3)?” (Edwards, 1996, p. 135).
(6) The ability to cast out demons in the first century was given in order to confirm the truth of the Gospel message (Mark 16:17-20). Modern “exorcists” preach everything but the Gospel.


A powerful case can be made for the proposition that demon possession was not allowed to continue beyond the apostolic age—i.e., the era of miracles.
I first must mention that when the prophet Zechariah foretold the coming of the Messianic dispensation, and the blessings that would accompany the spread of the Gospel, he suggested that the Lord would “cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (13:1-2). Some feel that the expression “unclean spirit” may hint of, or at least include, the cessation of demonic activity. Hailey sees this as a prediction of the eventual termination of prophetic activity (on the part of God’s people) and the curtailing of the power of unclean spirits.
Likewise, unclean spirits, the antithesis of the prophets, would cease. In the conquest of Christ over Satan and his forces, unclean spirits have ceased to control men as they did in the time of the ministry of Christ and the apostles... (1972, p. 392).
While this is not a common view of Zechariah’s prophecy, and certainly not one upon which an entire case could be built, it is not without possibility. A firmer proposition can be argued as follows.
With the close of the first century, the age of the supernatural came to a close. God is not empowering men to operate in a miraculous fashion today. This is evinced in the following way:
(1) Nothing duplicating the miracles of the first century is apparent today. No one can walk upon water, raise the dead, calm a raging storm, turn water into wine, instantly heal an amputated ear, extract tax money from a fish’s mouth, etc. Miracles are self-authenticating phenomena that cannot be denied, even by hostile critics (cf. John 11:47; Acts 4:14-16); clearly, they are not occurring today.
(2) The purpose of supernatural gifts was to confirm the authenticity of divine revelation being received from heaven (Mark 16:9-20; Hebrews 2:1-4). Since the revelatory process was completed when the last New Testament book was written, miracles no longer are needed, hence, have ceased. They were like the scaffolding that is removed once the building is finished.
(3) The New Testament explicitly argues that the day was on the horizon when miracles would cease. Paul defended that position both in Ephesians 4:8-16 and in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. During the early days of the apostolic era, divine revelation had been “in part,” i.e., piece-by-piece. The apostle said, however, that when “the perfect” or “the complete” arrived, the partial revelation, which came by means of the various “gifts” (e.g., supernatural knowledge and prophecy), would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8ff.). Prominent Greek scholar, W.E. Vine, summarized the matter well.
With the completion of Apostolic testimony and the completion of the Scriptures of truth (“the faith once for all delivered to the saints”, Jude, 3, R.V.), “that which is perfect” had come, and the temporary gifts were done away. For the Scriptures provided by the Spirit of God were “perfect”. Nothing was to be added to them, nothing taken from them. This interpretation is in keeping with the context (1951, p. 184).
Elsewhere this writer has discussed the theme of miracles and their duration in much greater detail (Jackson, 1990, pp. 114-124).
Here is a crucial point. If it is the case that miraculous powers have been removed from the church’s possession, including the ability to cast out demons (Mark 16:17-20), does it stand to reason that God would allow demons to supernaturally assault people today, thus granting Satan an undue advantage over the human family? How would this square with the promise that “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4)? In other words, if the gift of expelling demons no longer is extant, is it not a reasonable conclusion that demon possession is obsolete as well?


Certainly Satan exerts great influence today. However, as God does not work miraculously in this age, but influences through his Word and through the events of providence, so also, the devil wields his power indirectly, and non-miraculously, through various media. Current cases that are being associated with demon possession doubtless are the results of psychosomatic problems, hysteria, self-induced hypnosis, deception, delusion, and the like. They have natural, though perhaps not always well understood, causes.


Arndt, William F. and F. Wilbur Gingrich (1967), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Aune, D.E. (1979), “Demonology,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Barclay, William (1976), And He Had Compassion—The Healing Miracles of Jesus(Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press).
Campbell, Alexander (no date.), Popular Lectures and Addresses (Nashville, TN: Harbinger Book Club).
Edwards, Earl (1996), “Powers of Darkness—Demon Possession,” Settled in Heaven, ed. David Lipe (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman University).
Fields, Weston W. (1976), Unformed and Unfilled (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed).
Greenleaf, Simon (1903 edition), The Testimony of the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice (Newark, NJ: Soney & Sage).
Hailey, Homer (1972), A Commentary on the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Hayes, Judith (1996), In God We Trust: But Which One? (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).
Hendriksen, William (1978), An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Hodge, Charles (1960 edition), Systematic Theology (London: James Clarke).
Jackson, Wayne (1990), “Miracles,” Giving a Reason for Our Hope, ed. Winford Claiborne, (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
Jackson, Wayne (1996), “The Silence of the Scriptures: An Argument for Inspiration,” Reason & Revelation, 16:17-22, March.
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. (1992), More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1964), The Interpretation of Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McClintock, John and James Strong, eds. (1968 reprint), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Reese, David G. (1992), “Demons,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman, (New York: Doubleday).
Ryrie, Charles C. (1959), Biblical Theology of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Thayer, J.H. (1958 edition), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament(Edinburgh, Scotland: T. & T. Clark).
Unger, Merrill F. (1952), Biblical Demonology (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press).
Vincent, Marvin (1972 edition), Word Studies in the New Testament (Wilmington, DE: Associated Publishers and Authors).
Vine, W.E. (1951), First Corinthians—Local Church Problems (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Vine, W.E. (1991), Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers).
Woodward, Kenneth L. (1974), “The Exorcism Frenzy,” Newsweek, 83:60-66.

Demon Theology by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Demon Theology
by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

As suggested in the feature article in this issue, the term “demon” appears to come from a Greek root form meaning “to know.” Plato, in his Cratylus (i.398), suggested that the word is derived from daemon, “knowing.” Whatever else, therefore, may be said of demons, they were intelligent beings; they “knew” certain truths.
A consideration of the testimony of those demons whose statements are recorded in the New Testament is of considerable interest. From their words, one may draw some reasonable conclusions.
(1) Demons were not atheists; they believed in God; moreover, they were not polytheists; they believed that God is “one” (see James 2:19). Their faith, however, never had been coupled with obedience, hence, it was a “dead” faith (James 2:14-16). Never, however, did they seek to justify themselves in their rebellion.
(2) Demons were not religious modernists. They did not subscribe to the notion that Jesus was a mere man. They acknowledged the Lord as “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). In His presence they cried: “Thou art the Son of God” (Mark 3:11). Observe that they did not address Jesus as “the son of Joseph,” or any other human. Obviously they were aware of the fact that Christ, as the Son of God, was born of a virgin. There are numerous religious leaders today who refuse to make this bold and wonderful confession.
(3) The demons conceded the divine authority of Christ. On one occasion they entreated the Lord that He “would not command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31). They clearly knew that when that awesome time came, they would be obliged to obey.
(4) Demons did not deny personal responsibility. They once inquired of Jesus: “Are you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). Observe that they recognized that a certain “time” was inevitable when they would give account for their wickedness.
(5) Demons did not deny the existence of hell, like some modern cultists do, for they knew that “torment” (a term that implies conscious punishment) was in their future (Matthew 8:29), and they trembled at the prospect of such (James 2:19).
It is a sobering fact that some modern folks do not have enough knowledge and/or faith to rival even that of a demon. This is a tragic circumstance.

Demon Possession, the Bible, and Superstition by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Demon Possession, the Bible, and Superstition
by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


How does one respond to the charge that the New Testament endorses superstition by its occasional references to demon possession?


Demon possession was a real, historical phenomenon of the first century. Spirit entities, known as demons [the KJV “devils” is an incorrect translation], did inhabit and afflict human bodies during that age.
The question of demon origin is not spelled out in the Scriptures, though several theories have been proposed by Bible scholars—some of which may be dismissed out of hand. A few writers have suggested that demons were the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamic race of men who lived upon the Earth in an alleged “gap period” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. There is, however, no evidence of any such gap period. Furthermore, Adam is clearly identified as the “first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Others speculate that demons resulted from the cohabitation of angels with antediluvian women (based upon a misunderstanding of Genesis 6:1-4), even though Christ plainly taught that angels are sexless beings incapable of such unions (Matthew 22:30).
The two more plausible views surmise that: (a) demons may have been the spirits of wicked dead men whom God, in harmony with His divine purpose, permitted to leave the Hadean realm to indwell some people (see, for example, Alexander Campbell, “Demonology,” Popular Lectures and Addresses); or (b) demons may have been fallen angels who were allowed to escape their confinement (Jude 6) for a similar purpose (see Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology). Regardless of their origin, the existence of demons is recognized within the pages of the New Testament.
In regard to their nature, demons are portrayed as spirits (Matthew 8:16), and thus did not possess a corporeal existence (Luke 24:39). In regard to their character, demons are portrayed as unclean spirits that were evil, and under the immediate control of Satan (Matthew 12:24,43,45). Demons also were intelligent beings (Mark 1:24), and could exercise both volition and locomotion whenever permitted (Matthew 12:44-45). Demon possession of human bodies frequently resulted in physical and/or mental illness (although such ailments clearly were distinguished from the demon itself (see Matthew 4:24). Dumbness (Matthew 9:32), blindness (Matthew 12:22), and supernatural strength (Mark 5:4; Acts 19:16) sometimes were characteristic of demoniacs.
The New Testament supplies no reason as to exactly why demons entered particular individuals, but makes clear that they inhabited men (Matthew 9:32), women (Luke 8:2), and children (Mark 7:30). Apparently, demon possession was permitted temporarily by God in order that the authority of Christ might be made manifest. As the Lord revealed control over nature (Mark 4:41), disease (Mark 2:12), material things (John 2:9), and even death (John 11:44), so also did He demonstrate power over the spirit realm (Luke 11:20). In fact, the authority of Jesus over evil spirits amazed His contemporaries, who exclaimed: “What is this? a new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27). Christ’s disciples, by His authority, also could expel demons (Luke 10:17), except on one occasion when hindered by their weak faith (cf. Mark 9:28 and Matthew 17:20).
With the termination of the supernatural era of the early church, demon possession, and the corresponding gift of expulsion ceased. Satan’s supernatural power was bound (Matthew 12:29). Certainly, the devil exerts great influence today. However, just as God no longer works miraculously, but influences men through His Word and providence, so also, Satan wields his power indirectly and non-miraculously through various media. Modern cases of supposed demon possession are doubtless the results of psychosomatic problems, hysteria, self-induced hypnosis, delusion, and such like. They have natural, though perhaps not always well-understood, causes. When the Bible discusses demon possession, it is always from a specific, historical vantage point. As such, it does not endorse myth or superstition.

Defend the Truth...In Meekness and Fear by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Defend the Truth...In Meekness and Fear
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The Truth of God’s Word is precious (Proverbs 23:23; cf. John 17:17; Psalm 119:142,151). God expects humanity to come to learn it and love it (John 8:31-32; Psalm 119:47,48,113,119,127,165,167). Christians are then expected to defend it and let others know about it (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:4; Acts 26:24-25). The inspired apostle Peter even commanded first-century Christians to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, emp. added). God is serious about His people teaching and defending His Word.
In our proclamation of the Truth, however, we must keep in mind what Peter noted at the end of 1 Peter 3:15—that our defense is to be made “with meekness and fear” (emp. added). Christians are to try to be Christ-like at all times, including when we defend the truth. Our teaching is to be characterized “with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB/RSV). We are to “honor all people” as we “fear God” (1 Peter 2:17). As we “proclaim the praises of Him” who called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” we must be “clothed with humility” (1 Peter 2:9; 5:5).
Recently a man who identified himself as a Catholic priest wrote an unsolicited letter to Apologetics Press. We had never heard of this gentleman before reading his note. Although, sadly, he is very mislead in his adherence to Catholic doctrine (see Pinedo, 2009), consider some of his analysis of a handful of preachers in the church of Christ. [NOTE: He refers to preachers as “elders.”]
As a Roman Catholic priest who follows non-Catholic religions with some interest...I have observed a lot of meanness, rudeness, and lack of basic civility among CoC [Church of Christ—EL] elders [preachers—EL], especially recently. How does one explain this? In general (no doubt there are exceptions perhaps many), Christian love seems deficient in the way they seek to promote truth.
In general, they strike me as tending to be suspicious, rash and uncharitable in their judgments about other people’s motives, prone to arrogance, and even too eager to call someone a liar, more so than the average pagan in the streets. These comments are based on only my limited experience, to be sure, and sometimes, no doubt, I am guilty of some of the very same sins and character flaws.
I was considering doing some kind of oral interaction with an elder or two about Catholic matters. Now it looks to me like this would be a royal invitation to verbal abuse, misrepresentation, and even character assassination....
Some members of the Lord’s church might tend to dismiss this criticism with a wave of the hand, but we believe this gentleman was right in his assessment and denouncement of some who attempt to “defend the truth,” yet do so in an unchristlike manner. What’s more, we all need to be reminded of the necessity and seriousness of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We must examine ourselves and ensure that our teachings and defense of the truth are done lovingly and patiently, confidently yet kindly, neither rudely nor arrogantly (1 Corinthians 13).
Keep in mind what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy shortly before commanding him to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). He described “a servant of the Lord” as one who “must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). May God help us to live according to the Truth as we seek to defend it.


Pinedo, Moises (2008), What the Bible says about the Catholic Church (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/wtbsatcc.pdf.

Open Letter to Nancy Grace by Trevor Bowen


Open Letter to Nancy Grace

I was disappointed to read the broadcast transcript of the uninformed, yet negative criticism regarding the Church of Christ. I was most disappointed that truth found no justice in your court of public exposure, which proclaims to seek otherwise.

A Cult?

Nancy, do you believe truth exists? Objective, identifiable truth? Is there such thing as right and wrong? I am convinced you believe these things, since you were once a practicing attorney. If you do indeed believe these things, then please read on. If not, then please understand that I do not accept moral relativism or any other subjective basis for ultimate truth.
I am a member of the Lord�s church, based on the following logical progression. What do you think about these questions? Please notice that each of the following questions appeal to objective evidence, not pressure tactics, mind control, intimidation, or anything else that even remotely resembles a cult.
  1. Do you believe that a divine being exists, or that life sprang from the void? I believe in a divine being, because only nothing comes from nothing, and I am something (Logical argument from cause and effect.). The following verses summarize the conclusions that I have reached, given the global evidence, which I have come to accept (Psalm 19:1-4Romans 1:20). I would part company with the atheist on this point.
  2. Do you believe that this divine being has revealed Himself to us? I see no evidence to modern day revelation. However, I believe the evidence suggests that God did speak in days past....
  3. More specifically, does the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, or any other sacred writing bear the marks of inspiration by a divine being? Do you believe the Bible is a revelation from God? The Bible alone contains hundred of otherwise unexplainable prophecies, many of them written hundreds of years before their fulfillment. God built His case for His own exclusive identity on His ability to foretell the future and bring it to pass (Isaiah 41:21-2442:8-944:6-846:8-11). Some prophecies even specify names of kings of empires that did not exist until hundreds of years after the prophecy�s writing (Isaiah 44:28-45:7). I would part company with the Jew, the Muslim, the Buddhist, and many others on this point, as would every other traditional Christian, who accepts the Bible as the inspired Word of God (II Timothy 3:16-17).
  4. Do you believe the Bible�s integrity has been preserved? The Bible has an impeccable textual pedigree with documents extant that date to as far back as the second century � within 150 years of Jesus. No other sacred book even comes close to this evidence, either in volume or proximity. The prophecies, the ancient miracles, the textual integrity, the external corroboration, the scientific accuracy, and the historical veracity are all unimpeachable. The possibility of the Bible being deceitfully crafted by humans in so short a time would be a miracle far greater than any ever recorded in the Bible itself. I would part company with more liberal Christians on this point, who have accepted modern, negative theories regarding the Bible�s integrity of transmission.
I stand apart from many other Christians, because I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and I have come to trust it implicitly, because the evidence most strongly suggests this reality. What do you think about the Bible?

Religious Elitism?

Mr. Tom Rukala accused the Church of Christ of exhibiting exclusive and condemning attitudes. This is simply not true, as are the rest of his accusations.
First, I have no judgment on the eternal well-being of any individual, be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever. Only God has the power and authority to decide and execute eternal judgment. My opinion is irrelevant. The question to be asked is not, What do you think?", but it should rather be, "What does the Bible say?". Of course, if you do not believe the Bible, then we need to back up to the above questions.
After reading passages, like John 8:2414:6Acts 4:10-12, I immediately become concerned for all my atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, and Hindu friends, who do not believe in Jesus. I understand them to be in eternal danger, because the Bible speaks so clearly on this point; therefore, I seek to reason with all who would openly and objectively consider the evidence, as did ancient Christians (Acts 8:417:2-517-3418:4-61924-2824:24-25). Yet, the final judgment belongs to God, and I would not dare presume to assume that role in offering eternal judgment on anyone (James 4:11-12). My only question is, "What does the Word of God say we should do?" That is all that matters, because that will be the standard by which all people will be eternally judged (John 12:48). We each need to compare ourselves to that standard (James 1:22-25), before it is too late, when God compares us to His standard one last time. God may choose to extend mercy beyond what He has promised, because He has done so in the past (Luke 23:39-43). If he extends unpromised mercy, I certainly won�t complain; however, I cannot promise you that He will, since He has nowhere promised that He will, much less detailed the grounds for such mitigating mercy. Therefore, one cannot act upon the basis of such mercy in good faith, because faith can only be based on God�s Word (Romans 10:17).
Intimidation and other tactics of human wisdom have no part in true evangelism, because the Lord is seeking volunteers (Psalm 110:3Philemon 1:14II Corinthians 8:1-5,129:7). If people do not want to become a Christian, then that is between them and God (II Corinthians 5:10Romans 14:10-12).
Second, baptism is clearly commanded in the Bible (I Peter 3:21Acts 2:37-38Galatians 3:26-27Romans 6:1-6Mark 16:15-16Colossians 2:11-13). If that does not abide by some tradition of human origin, then I will here have to part with other Christians who maintain allegiances to human denominations, institutions, traditions, dogmas, creeds, and synods, which are not taught in the Bible. My only creed is the Bible, and my only head is Jesus, Who speaks through the Bible.
Which sounds more cultic to you? A denominational Christian who blindly accepts whatever compromise flows out of the most recent and popular convention? Or, a non-denominational Christian, who picks up the Bible, reads it for himself, and decides for himself what it says?

Female Leadership in the Church?

Who represents the Church of Christ?

The Lord�s church has no conventions, conferences, organizations, or other direct representation. No one represents the church of Christ � not me, not Tom Rukala, not Alexander Campbell, not Barton Stone, and not even Rubel Shelly (especially considering that he accepted the title of "Reverend" - Matthew 23:5-10Psalm 111:9). The only one who speaks for members of the Lord�s church is the Lord Himself, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2Matthew 16:16-18I Corinthians 1:10-13). His apostles and prophets were promised inspiration (John 16:14:25-26; 16:7, 13). They claimed to have received it (I Corinthians 2:10-16II Peter 1:16-21). Their claims were substantiated by undeniable miracles, signs, and wonders (Mark 16:20Hebrews 2:3-4II Corinthians 13:12Romans 15:18-19I Corinthians 2:1-5Acts 1:1-35:33-42). If we read the writings of Jesus� apostles and prophets, then we can have the same understanding that they had (Ephesians 3:3-5II Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, if anyone wants to know about the church of Christ, all they have to do is pick up the Bible and start reading. :-)
The church of Christ is just one of the names used in the Bible to refer to Christians (Romans 16:16). Many other names were used and are just as applicable ("the church of God"Acts 20:28"the church of the living God"I Timothy 3:15"His body" (referring to Jesus), Ephesians 1:22-23"the churches of God"I Corinthians 11:16, etc.). The church of Christ consists of individual members, who are patterned after the first century, New Testament church. They follow Christ and His Word alone. Since they strive to have no peculiar doctrine, organization, or practice of man�s origin or invention, then the age of this church would more nearly be estimated at 2000 years, not 150.
I look forward to hearing from you.

A Christian
Trevor Bowen