"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Beware Of Leaven (16:5-12) by Mark Copeland



Beware Of Leaven (16:5-12)


1. In the course of His public ministry, Jesus was often challenged by
   the Pharisees, along with the Sadducees...
   a. They questioned why He ate with sinners - Mt 9:11
   b. They accused His disciples of breaking the Sabbath - Mt 12:1-2
   c. They accused His disciples of violating the traditions of the
      elders - Mt 15:1-2
   d. They sought to test Him by asking for a sign - Mt 16:1

2. Jesus therefore warned His disciples concerning these religious leaders...
   a. They were "blind leaders of the blind" - Mt 15:12-14
   b. The disciples were to beware of their doctrine - Mt 16:5-12

3. Jesus described their doctrine as "leaven" (yeast)...
   a. Used in the making of bread, leaven gradually spreads through
      the dough, making it rise
   b. Jesus used the figure of leaven to describe the spread of His
      kingdom - Mt 13:33
   c. But in Mt 16:6, He uses it to depict the pernicious doctrines of
      the Pharisees and Sadducees - Mt 16:11-12

[What were the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus
warned about?  Are there modern Pharisees and Sadducees that we should
beware of today?  To answer these questions, let's begin by taking a
look at...]


      1. A religious and political group noted for its conservatism
         a. They were strict observers of the Law of Moses
         b. They also adopted "the traditions of the elders", 
            interpretations of the Law that had been handed down 
            - cf. Mk 7:1-5
      2. Jesus described them as "blind leaders of the blind" - Mt 15: 12-14
         a. They made the commandments of God of no effect by their
            traditions - Mt 15:3-6
         b. They were hypocrites, teaching one thing and practicing
            another - Mt 15:7-8; 16:3; 23:1-4, 27-28; cf. Lk 12:1
         c. They did their works to be seen of men - Mt 23:5
         d. They loved the attention and special treatment by others- Mt 23:6-7
         d. They wore religious titles - Mt 23:8-10
         e. They prevented others from finding the way to the kingdom
            of heaven - Mt 23:13
         f. They used their religion to make money and impress others
            - Mt 23:14
         g. They didn't make people better, they made them worse! - Mt 23:15
         h. They made distinctions where God did not - Mt 23:16-22
         i. Though sticklers for some commandments, they ignored others
             - Mt 23:23-24
         j. They honored men of God who went before them, but were more
            like those who persecuted the people of God - Mt 23:29-31

      1. Many people accuse those who stress the keeping of God's 
         commands as legalists, and therefore "Pharisees" today - but consider:
         a. The words legalism, legalist, are not found in the 
            Scriptures - they are labels often used to defame those who
            seek to encourage the keeping of God's commands
         b. Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for strict adherence to
            the Law itself
            1) Only for making the commands of God of no effect by their traditions!
            2) Only for leaving some commands of God undone while doing
         c. If calling for strict observance of God's commandments 
            makes one a legalist, then Jesus was a legalist!
            1) While the Law was in force, He expected it to be taught
               and observed down to its smallest detail - Mt 5:17-19
            2) He expected His disciples to surpass the Pharisees in
               their righteousness - Mt 5:20
            3) He called for His disciples to express their love for
               Him by keeping His commandments - Jn 14:15,21,23
            4) He promised His love and friendship to those who would
               keep His commandments - Jn 15:10,14
            5) He expected disciples from all nations to observe 
               whatever He commanded His apostles - Mt 28:19-20
         d. If calling for strict observance of God's commandments
            makes one a legalist, then the apostles were legalists!
            1) Paul stressed the keeping of commandments - 1Co 7:19; 1Th 4:1-2
            2) John stressed the keeping of commandments 
                 -  1Jn 2:3-5; 3:22-24; 5:2-3
      2. The true Pharisees today are those who:
         a. Teach and practice traditions of men, instead of the 
            commands of God
         b. Teach one thing, while practicing another
         c. Do things to be seen of men, wearing special garments and
            asking to be called by religious titles
         d. Do not truly show people the way to the kingdom of heaven
         e. Use religion to make money and impress others
         f. Make distinctions where God has made none
         g. Stress some commands, but neglect others as unnecessary

[Such are the Pharisees of today, who often condemn others as
"legalists" (as a way to deflect the charge that their lives and 
teachings are contrary to the commandments of our Lord).

Now let's take a look at...]


      1. A religious and political group noted for its liberalism
         a. Included many powerful members of the priesthood - Ac 5:17
         b. They insisted only the laws found in the Pentateuch (first
            five books of the OT) were binding
         c. They rejected "the traditions of the elders", 
            interpretations of the Law that had been handed down
         d. They did not believe in the resurrection, spirits, angels 
            - Ac 23:8; Mt 22:23
         e. They did not believe in rewards or punishment after death,
            nor in heaven or hell
      2. Jesus charged them with two faults - Mt 22:23-29
         a. They did not know the Scriptures
            1) Even those scriptures they held to be true!
            2) For Jesus used a statement in the Pentateuch to show
               their error - Mt 22:31-32; Exo 3:6
         b. They did not know the power of God
            1) Like many liberals, they were influenced by rationalism
            2) They assumed that if they could not conceive or 
               comprehend something, it could not be
            3) They failed to believe what Gabriel and Jesus both knew:
               that with God, nothing is impossible! - Lk 1:37; Mt 19:26

      1. Those who take some portions of God's word, but reject the 
         rest; such as:
         a. Those who heed only the "red-letter" words of Jesus
         b. Those who will accept the words of Jesus, but not His apostles
         c. Those who accept the words of His apostles, but hold that
            all of Jesus' teachings in the gospels are Old Covenant teaching
         -- The apostles' words are just as authoritative (Jn 13:10;
            Ac 2:42; 1Co 14:37), and so were the words of Jesus 
            spoken during His earthly ministry (Mt 28:20; Ac 20:35;
            1Ti 5:18b; Lk 10:7)
      2. Those who accept human reason over divine revelation
         a. Many will not accept a Biblical doctrine unless it "makes 
            sense" to them
         b. A dangerous position to hold, since God has chosen to 
            confound the wise and arrogant with the foolishness of the
            gospel message - cf. 1Co 1:18-31
         c. Some doctrines revealed may contain elements beyond man's
            ability to fully comprehend (such as the mystery of 
            godliness:  God manifested in the flesh - 1Ti 3:16; or the
            nature of the Godhead itself)
         -- A child-like trust is more becoming of a Christian - cf. 
            Mt 18:3; Ps 131:1-3
      3. Those who rule out the power of God
         a. Who reject any doctrine, any promise, of the Scriptures if
            conceived as not being physically possible
         b. Such as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, the
            miracles of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead
         -- Once we accept the premise that with God all things are
            possible, we cannot reject Biblical testimony or doctrine
            just because it does not fit our preconceived ideas of what
            is possible


1. Is there a need to "Beware Of Leaven" today?
   a. Are there modern-day Pharisees and Sadducees?
   b. Are there doctrines that can permeate and spread through the 
      Lord's church like leaven?

2. The answer to such questions is a resounding "Yes!"
   a. Such doctrines abound in the denominational world around us
   b. Much error that makes its way into the church usually falls into
      one of two categories:
      1) Traditions of men proclaimed as doctrines (like the Pharisees)
      2) Doctrines of the Bible rejected as impossible (like the Sadducees)

And so the warning by Jesus is just as great today:

 "...beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Mt 16:11) 



Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

eXTReMe Tracker







Take Bible Literally? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.




Take Bible Literally?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Recently, when an ABC News reporter asked President Bush if the Bible is “literally true,” the president responded that he is “not a literalist,” and that one can read the Bible and not take it literally (Escherich, 2008). Sadly, many Americans have been duped by over a century of propaganda perpetrated by higher critics who seek to undermine confidence in the inspiration of the Bible. Nevertheless, the evidence is decisive: the Bible possesses the attributes of inspiration that prove its divine origin (Jackson, 1982; Butt, 2007).

To suggest that the Bible is not to be taken literally is nonsensical. True, the Bible contains much figurative language, i.e., it includes figures of speech (e.g., simile, metaphor, hyperbole, metonymy, synecdoche, etc.)—just like our own English language (e.g., “quit cold turkey,” “stretch my legs,” “died laughing”). But figurative language still communicates meaning that can be comprehended. Did the ABC News reporter’s questions communicate “literal truth” that the president could grasp? Of course. And so does the Bible. Any diligent student can ascertain the original intent of the divinely-guided writers. Could it be that the “can’t take the Bible literally” crowd simply does not want to be restrained by the Bible’s admonitions to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts” and “live soberly, righteously, and godly” (Titus 2:12)? Could it be they do not want to hear that “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4), and the “sexually immoral...shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8)?


Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Escherich, Katie (2008), “Excerpts: Cynthia McFadden Interviews President George W. Bush,” ABC News: Nightline, Dec. 8, [On-line], URL: http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Politics/story?id=6418908&page=1.

Jackson, Wayne (1982), The Holy Scriptures—Verbally Inspired,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/holyscri.pdf.





Symbols in Revelation by Kyle Butt, M.Div.




Symbols in Revelation

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Anyone who has read the book of Revelation, the last book in the New Testament, has come face to face with many strange, fairy-tale-like creatures and events. Huge dragons attempt to swallow children, a beast with multiple heads arises from the midst of the sea, angels dump golden bowls out on the Earth, and animals with eyes covering their bodies lift their voices in praise to God. Needless to say, the book of Revelation is quite unique among the books of the Bible. The natural question that arises from reading the book is, “What does it all mean?”

In this brief article, I cannot explore the answer to that question in an in-depth fashion. However, I would like to provide two principles that can greatly increase a person’s understanding of the book of Revelation.

The first principle is the fact that the book of Revelation uses extensive figurative language. Revelation is a book of apocalyptic literature. Several books of Jewish apocalyptic literature are available for study. In the Old Testament, the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Joel contain apocalyptic literature. Also, certain extrabiblical books such as the Book of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, and the Book of Baruch fall into the literary category of apocalyptic writings. Apocalyptic literature uses signs and symbols to veil its message to outside readers. This type of literature was written when the Jewish nation was amidst one of its most tumultuous times—when the Israelites were under attack, or ruled over, by another powerful nation. Ray Summers explained as follows: “The personal safety of both writer and reader was endangered if the persecutors understood the true meaning of the book. For this reason the message of the apocalypse was written so as to conceal and to reveal—to conceal the message from the outsider but to reveal its message to the initiated” (1951, p. 5)

Apocalyptic language uses a system of figurative language. This type of language uses symbols to get across to its readers specific messages. We use figurative language everyday. Suppose a person said that his boss “flew off the handle” one day at work. The mental picture of that phrase might be of a person attached to a teapot handle flying off using a pair of wings, or it might be of a hammerhead in the shape of a person coming dislodged from its handle. But the true meaning of the phrase is that the boss became very angry. To illustrate further, suppose someone said that his dog “kicked the bucket.” Literally, we would be watching for a Kung Fu dog that could abuse a container with his feet, but the figurative meaning simply is that the person’s dog died. Now, suppose that we write down a long list of these figurative statements and bury them in a time capsule. In 2,000 years, a civilization not familiar with such statements uncovers our list and reads the figurative language. Our kicking dog would be just as confusing to them as the seven-headed beast of Revelation is to us today. Therefore, we must read Revelation with figurative language at the forefront of our mind, remembering that apocalyptic literature had an elaborate system of such language that was used to convey social and political happenings of the time.

The first chapters of Revelation offer several examples that explain some of the symbols. For instance, in chapter one verses 12-17 we read about “One like the Son of Man” who walks among seven golden lampstands and who has a “sharp two-edged sword” coming out of His mouth—a frightening, strange picture to be sure. But when we continue to read, we find that this man is Jesus, and the seven lampstands are the “seven churches” of Asia (1:20). But what does the sword represent? In apocalyptic literature, a sword coming out of someone’s mouth meant that they were coming to judge a group of people. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul explained that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 explains that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” And John 12:48 informs us that the words of Jesus will judge all people at the last days. The sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth in Revelation 1 is God’s Word, which Jesus was using to judge the churches. Putting the entire picture together, we see Jesus walking among the churches of Asia, cutting out the cancers of sin with the Word of God. While I do not have the space here to go through all of the apocalyptic symbols in this much detail, a brief reading of the book will show that horns often represent kings, numbers represent strength, weakness, perfection, or imperfection, and beasts represent evil nations or powers.

But please do not think that every symbol in Revelation is easy to understand, or that its exact meaning is easy to figure out. Many of the figurative pictures in the latter parts of the book are not quite as clear as we would like them to be. Therefore, we also must keep in mind the second principle necessary to a proper understanding of the book of Revelation: Nothing in Revelation will contradict anything else in the Bible. For instance, many religious people have gone to Revelation 20:1-11 to suggest that Christ will return to the Earth and reign for a thousand years with His saints. First, using the figurative language principle, the 1,000-year period stands for something other than a literal thousand years. Second, the passage in 2 Peter 3:10-13 clearly states that the “earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” And 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 records that Christians will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. Nowhere does the New Testament teach or imply that Jesus will ever set foot on this Earth again. In order to make the figurative language of Revelation 20 accommodate such a theory, a person must make it contradict the clear language found elsewhere in the New Testament.

The book of Revelation introduces many challenges to the student of the Bible. Yet, using these two principles can help anyone get more of God’s intended message out of the book.


Summers, Ray (1951), Worthy Is The Lamb (Nashville: Broadman).









Sunday and the Lord's Supper by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



Sunday and the Lord's Supper

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The idea that all people are obligated to conform their thinking and their actions to the teaching of Jesus Christ is not a popular notion these days—even among Christians. Many desire to feel religiously authentic and pleasing to God, but few think that acceptance by God is predicated upon their own conformity to divine legislation. In fact, those who urge people to be conscientious about compliance with the details of God’s Word are decried as “legalists” (see Miller, 2003). Of course, this antinomian spirit is in direct conflict with the thrust of the Bible from beginning to end. God always has expected people to conform themselves to His stipulations (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Obedient human response is a manifestation of one’s love (John 14:15; John 15:14; 1 John 5:3).

The New Testament conveys specific information regarding the “what, when, how, and why” of the observance the Lord’s Supper. Nevertheless, most within Christendom assign no significance to frequency. To them, one may partake of the Lord’s Supper once each month, quarter, or year. However, Scripture is in conflict with this thinking (Brownlow, 1945, pp. 168-175). The biblical view is that God intends for the church to observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, i.e., every Sunday. A more recent wrinkle of innovation is the insistence that the Lord’s Supper may be observed on days of the week other than Sunday (e.g., Atchley, 1989; Hood, 1990, p. 15; Mayeux, 1989, 46:6). But what does the Bible teach?

Preliminary Considerations

Shortly before His death, Jesus observed the Old Testament feast of unleavened bread. In the process, He instituted the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20) and told His disciples that this “communion” (1 Corinthians 10:16) would be observed in the kingdom (Matthew 26:29). The bread and the fruit of the vine were to function as symbols for the body and blood of Jesus that soon would be offered on the cross as the sacrifice for the world. When is this practice of observing the Lord’s Supper to be done? On Sunday? Every Sunday? Only on Sunday?

One key consideration is the early church’s practice under the apostles’ guidance. After all, Jesus specifically predicted that after His departure from Earth, the Holy Spirit would enable the apostles to implement the teachings of Christ in the establishment of the church and the launching of the Christian religion (John 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15). Just prior to His ascension, He commissioned the apostles to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Hence, the New Testament reports what early Christians and churches practiced as a direct result of the teachings of Christ as mediated through the apostles. How churches observed the Lord’s Supper, beginning in the book of Acts, is unquestionably a reflection of apostolic influence and inspired precedent. As McGarvey well noted:

It is axiomatic that the Lord, who instituted ordinances for observance in the church, knew the precise manner of their observance which would best secure the spiritual ends had in view; and consequently every loyal soul feels impelled to preserve them precisely in the manner of their first institution, when that can be ascertained.... [O]ur only safety...is to be found in copying precisely the form instituted by divine authority (1910, pp. 342-343).

A second key factor concerns the significance of Sunday. Does the New Testament assign any special meaning to Sunday? One cannot help but take note of the fact that Jesus’ resurrection took place on Sunday (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). After His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples on Sunday (John 20:19,26). Pentecost was a Jewish feast day (Leviticus 23:15ff.), and it was on this feast day, ten days after the ascension of Jesus, that the church was established—on Sunday (see McGarvey, 1892, p. 19; Brewer, 1941, pp. 325-326). New Testament churches assembled on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). They observed the Lord’s Supper on that day (Acts 20:7). In harmony with Revelation 1:10, early Christians began calling Sunday “the Lord’s day” (Swete, 1911, p. 13). How can even the casual reader miss this repetition? Without a doubt, the day Sunday is infused with considerable religious significance.

Another implied factor is the deafening silence of the New Testament with regard to the special significance of Saturday (or any other day). Other than Sunday, Saturday is the only serious contender for a day of religious significance. However, observance of the Sabbath was unquestionably a feature of only Judaism, not Christianity—though the infant church was exclusively Jewish and initially reluctant to abandon Mosaic practice (Acts 11:19; 15:1,5; 21:12). The same is true with regard to early church history. While certainly not the deciding criterion for New Testament Christians, early church history confirms that Acts 20:7 is not an incidental reference. Observance of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday reflects the general practice of both the first-century churches as well as post-first-century churches. For example, the Didache, written shortly after the close of the first century, speaks of Christians coming together each Lord’s day and breaking bread (9:1-12; 14:1). Justin Martyr wrote in his First Apology (ch. 67), circa A.D. 152, of Christians meeting on Sunday and partaking of the communion (ch. 67). Milligan observed: “That the primitive Christians were wont to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on every first day of the week is evident.... During the first two centuries the practice of weekly communion was universal, and it was continued in the Greek church till the seventh century” (1975, p. 440). Johnson summarized the post-first century data:

[T]he early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all with one consent, declare that the church observed the first day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord’s Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week (1891, 1:505, emp. added).

Still another consideration is the doctrinal significance that interconnects the Lord’s Supper and Sunday. Jesus’ death and resurrection were connected intimately to Sunday observance of the Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26). One cannot argue for a Sunday assembly without arguing for Sunday communion. In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath commemorated the Exodus—the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. Sunday, in like manner, is the Christian’s day of deliverance. The Lord’s Supper is associated with this redemption and the very nature of the church. It is a corporate act and thus done by all members when the assembly comes together on Sunday. The Lord’s Supper on any other day weakens its doctrinal significance (see Ferguson, 1976, pp. 59-62). As Rex Turner so eloquently affirmed:

The first day of the week is Christ’s resurrection day. It is the greatest day in all the annals of history. What could be more appropriate, therefore, than for the disciples to assemble on Christ’s resurrection day, the first day of the week, to break the bread and to drink the fruit of the vine in commemoration of Christ’s death, his atoning blood, his resurrection, and his promise to come again? He who contends that Christians may with equal propriety and authority partake of the Lord’s Supper on some other day than the first day of the week has not grasped the real significance of what took place on that certain first day of the week, nor does he recognize how that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10) (1972, p. 80, emp. added).

Ultimately, the issue of observance frequency hinges on the verses that address the subject specifically. [NOTE: For an excellent analytical treatment of the passages of Scripture that impinge on the question of the Lord’s Supper, see Warren, 1975, pp. 148-156.]


ACTS 2:42,46

In Acts 2:42, we encounter the expression “breaking of bread.” The Greek expression “to break bread” (klasai arton), a literal rendering of the Hebrew idiom (paras lechem), was a common idiom meaning “to partake of food” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 839; Woods, 1976, p. 67; Harris, et al., 1980, 2:736; Gesenius, 1847, p. 690; Moule, 1961, p. 25; Behm, 1965, 3:729). The idiom developed from the fact that Hebrews baked their bread in the shape of thin round flat cakes (rather than loaves) that lent themselves more to breaking than cutting (Bullinger, p. 839; McClintock and Strong, 1867, 1:882). The idiom is clearly seen in Isaiah 58:7, Jeremiah 16:7, and Lamentations 4:4. Americans use a similar idiom when we speak of “getting a bite to eat.” However, figures of speech often do “double duty” by developing additional meanings. From the idiomatic meaning of eating a meal came a more technical use of the expression in Scripture. Since the Lord took bread and, in accordance with the Jewish practice where the father of the household prepared the bread for distribution to the family (see Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 434; Rackham, 1901, p. 37; Behm, 1964, 1:477), apparently broke it into pieces (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 1:24), “breaking bread” sometimes is used in Scripture to refer to the Lord’s Supper (see Behm, 1965, 3:730; Klappert, 1976, 2:530; Reese, 1976, pp. 83, 734). One cannot assume that every occurrence of the idiom refers to the Lord’s Supper. Context must determine whether a common meal or the Lord’s Supper is intended (see chart).


Literal Breaking

Figurative Breaking

Common Meal

Matt. 14:19; 15:36

Mark 6:41; 8:6,19

Luke 9:16; 24:30

Acts 27:35

Luke 24:35

Acts 2:46

Lord’s Supper

Matt. 26:26

Mark 14:22

Luke 22:19

1 Cor. 11:24

Acts 2:42

Acts 20:7,11

Contextual indicators in Acts 2:42 that point to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper include the use of the article “the” (in the Greek), indicating that a particular event, as opposed to a common meal, is under consideration (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16; Nicoll, n.d., 2:95). The verse could well have been translated, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and the fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.” Luke obviously was speaking of the formal worship activities of the Christians.


Second, “breaking bread” is listed among other unmistakably religious activities of the church: apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, and prayer. Third, the phrase “continued steadfastly” (imperfect tense) indicates a customary, habitual, ongoing practice—though the exact frequency is not indicated in this context. One has to go elsewhere to ascertain whether specific frequency is enjoined. Yet, from this passage one can see that the early church obviously partook more frequently than annually, since a year had not passed since the establishment of the church, and they already were worshiping “steadfastly.”

“Breaking bread” is again mentioned four verses later. Here, too, context must provide indication as to whether Acts 2:46 refers to observance of the Lord’s Supper or simply common meals. Arndt and Gingrich call attention to the use of the enclitic particle, te, occurring most frequently in the New Testament in the book of Acts. It appears twice in Acts 2:46 to convey the idea of “not only...but also” (1957, p. 807; cf. Robertson, 1934, p. 1179—“But te...te is strictly correlative”). Thayer identifies the term as a copulative enclitic particle that conveys an inner connection with what precedes. Hence, double use of the term in the same sentence, as in Acts 2:46, presents parallel or coordinate ideas—“as...so” (Thayer, 1901, pp. 616-617; Blass, et al., 1961, p. 230). Hence the use of the correlative conjunction (te) in verse 46 functions as a break in thought—a contrast—to guard against the impression that the disciples stayed in the temple 24 hours a day. Luke conveyed the idea that the disciples clustered together in the temple almost constantly after the momentous events of Pentecost, no doubt unwilling to miss any of the tremendous spiritual activities associated with the establishment of the church. However, they went to their private homes in order to carry on the routine amenities associated with common meals. So Jamieson, et al.: “in private, as contrasted with their temple-worship” (1871, p. 176, italics in orig.).

The parallel thought conveyed by the double use of te, evident throughout the context, is the unity or togetherness that the disciples enjoyed. While they participated together in their religious activities, they also continued their togetherness in their nonreligious acts of domestic socialization. English versions that capture the grammatical nuances of the verse include the NIV: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Observe that the allusion to being together in the temple courts is terminated with a period. The next sentence conveys a separate idea pertaining to the eating of common meals in their homes. The ASV translates the verse: “And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart.” The daily meeting in the temple was a separate practice from breaking bread at home, where they ate their meals with gladness. Barnes observed: “[T]he expression ‘did eat their meat’ seems to imply that this refers to their common meals, and not to the Lord’s supper” (1847, p. 59, emp. added). “Breaking bread” (vs. 46) therefore refers, not to the Lord’s Supper, but to common meals. The term “food” (trophe; cf. “meat,” KJV), never used to refer to the Lord’s Supper, is explicative of the expression “breaking bread”—further proof that a common meal is under consideration (Jackson, 1991, p. 3).

In order to prove that Acts 2:46 refers to daily observance of the Lord’s Supper, one would have to both know and prove two unprovable points: (1) that “daily” is an adverbial temporal modifier that necessarily modifies the phrase “breaking bread at home,” and (2) that the phrase “breaking bread at home” refers specifically and exclusively to the Lord’s Supper (Warren, 1975, p. 151). One would have to know these two things before one could draw the conclusion that God sanctions partaking of the Lord’s Supper on some day other than Sunday. But one cannot know or prove these two points. Indeed, the grammatical evidence militates against them. Acts 2:46 provides no authority or evidence to warrant the conclusion that the church can partake of the Lord’s Supper on some day other than Sunday.

ACTS 20:7

In Acts 20, considerable information regarding the early church’s handling of the Lord’s Supper is divulged. Nothing in this or any other context indicates that the “many lights,” “upper room” (vs. 8), or “third story” (vs. 9) have anything to do with the Lord’s Supper. Thus the location and surrounding paraphernalia (e.g., number of trays/cups) are expedients. As such, they are permanently optional (cf. Warren, 1975, p. 140). Additional contextual features help to define the parameters of the passage.

First, the term “to break bread” is a first Aorist infinitive. Infinitives in Greek and English denote purpose of action of the principal verb (Summers, 1950, p. 132; Dana and Mantey, 1927, p. 214). The verb in the verse is “came together.” Thus the primary purpose for the assembly was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. This conclusion is also implied in Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians: “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20). Alexander Campbell noted that Paul’s words demonstrate that partaking of the Lord’s Supper was “the chief object of meeting” (1972, p. 32). Observe carefully that even as the purpose for the assembly is declared forthrightly to be partaking of the Lord’s Supper, so the text states explicitly that this act was done on the first day of the week. [NOTE: For a discussion of the underlying Greek that authenticates the translation “first day of the week,” see McGarvey, 1910, pp. 306-307.]

Second, Luke used “when” as a stylistic device to denote a regular procedure that the reader should know and understand (see Dungan, 1891, 1:245-246; Gibson, 1990, pp. 4-5). The clause prefaced by the word “when” constitutes a side comment by Luke intended to flag a well-recognized, fully expected event. The significance of this feature is illustrated in the following paraphrase: “Now on the first day of the week—which everyone recognizes is the very day that Christians come together to observe the Lord’s Supper—Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them....” A parallel to American culture may be seen in the statement: “On the fourth of July, when Americans celebrate the birth of their country, the President delivered a stirring speech to the nation” (cf. Nichol and Whiteside, 1920, 1:171). The main point to which Luke was driving was the preaching of Paul that lasted until midnight. However, subordinating an additional action within a separate clause, prefaced with “when,” shows that Luke was making reference to that which was recognized as standard protocol among Christians: Sunday observance of the Lord’s Supper. Indeed,

[w]e must remember that I Cor. had been previously written, and that the reference in I Cor. xvi.2 to “the first day of the week” for the collection of alms naturally connects itself with the statement here in proof that this day had been marked out by the Christian Church as a special day for public worship, and for “the breaking of the bread” (Nicoll, n.d., 2:424, emp. added).

Third, Paul spent an entire week in Troas—even though he was on a rushed schedule, in a hurry to get to Jerusalem (20:16). One would not delay a rushed trip simply to partake of a common meal or meals—which could have been eaten on any of the delayed days. It would seem he desired to meet with the entire church at the formal, weekly worship assembly—a circumstance he repeated both at Tyre (Acts 21:4) and Puteoli (Acts 28:14). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown explain the timetable:

[A]rriving on a Monday, they stayed over the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord’s Day following; occupying himself, doubtless, in refreshing and strengthening fellowship with the brethren during the interval.... This...plainly indicates that the Christian observance of the day afterwards distinctly called “the Lord’s Day,” was already a fixed practice of the churches (1871, p. 208, emp. added).

Saturday Night or Sunday Night?

From the text it is apparent that on this occasion the disciples came together in the evening. Since we are informed that they came together “on the first day of the week,” the question remains whether the evening was our Saturday night or our Sunday night. The answer hinges on the matter of the reckoning of time in the first century, specifically, whether Luke’s narrative employs Jewish or Roman time. The following background information will resolve this question.

Days & Hours

Throughout history, cultures have differed in their counting of hours and days. The term “day” has a variety of meanings among cultures even in the Bible. The 24-hour rotation of the Earth on its axis is one meaning for the term “day,” i.e., a solar or astronomical day. But the point at which one begins to count this single revolution has differed from culture to culture. Scholars are largely agreed that the Babylonians counted their days from sunrise to sunrise, the Umbrians from noon to noon, the Athenians and Hebrews from sunset to sunset, and the Egyptians and Romans from midnight to midnight (Pliny, 1855, 2.79.77; Smith, 1868, 1:567; Hasel, 1979b, 1:878; Anthon, 1843, p. 361). Europe, America, and Western civilization have generally conformed to Roman time. Throughout the Bible, the Jews commenced their day in the evening—as stipulated by the Law of Moses in the phrase “from evening to evening” (Leviticus 23:32; cf. Exodus 12:18). Hence, for Jews the Sabbath (Saturday) began at sunset (approximately 6:00 p.m.) on what we delineate as Friday evening. Their Sabbath (Saturday) came to a close at approximately 6:00 p.m. on our Saturday evening, and their Sunday began at that time (see also Nehemiah 13:19; Psalm 55:17; cf. ereb boqer [evening-morning] in Daniel 8:14). Since the early church initially was composed entirely of Jews, and since Jews were scattered outside of Palestine throughout the Roman Empire, “the early churches...often followed the Jewish custom” (Johnson, 1891, 1:506) of reckoning time.

Another meaning for the word “day” corresponds to our word “daylight.” The phrase “night and day” (Mark 5:5) refers to the dark and light portions of a single, 24-hour day—with the word “day” referring to only half of the 24-hour day (Gibbs, 1982, 2:769; Hasel, 1979a, 1:877; Anthon, pp. 362,507). Jesus made this meaning clear when He asked, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” (John 11:9, emp. added). He was using the word “day” to refer to the daylight hours as distinguished from the night. Luke uses the term the same way. In Acts 16:35, he wrote: “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, ‘Let those men go.’” He means “when it was daylight,” since the events leading up to his statement were post-midnight occurrences (vs. 25).

The Jews of Jesus’ day divided the daylight portion of the “day” into even smaller units, i.e., four units of three hours each beginning about 6:00 a.m. (Hasel, 1979b, 1:878; Robinson, 1881, p. 338; Robertson, 1922, p. 284). This mode permeates the New Testament. The darkness that prevailed during Christ’s crucifixion “from the sixth hour until the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45; cf. Mark 15:33) is our noon to 3:00 p.m. Though Luke probably was a non-Jew, and though the initial recipient of the book, Theophilus, very likely was also a Gentile, it nevertheless is evident that Luke used the Jewish—not Roman—method of counting time in Luke and Acts. The “sixth hour” and “ninth hour” in Luke 23:44 are noon and 3:00 p.m. respectively. The “third hour of the day” in Acts 2:15 refers to 9:00 a.m. The “sixth hour” in Acts 10:9 is 12:00 noon. The “ninth hour” in Acts 3:1 and Acts 10:3,30 is 3:00 p.m. So certain of this reckoning were the NIV translators that they converted the “ninth hour” to the modern equivalent to aid the English reader: “Cornelius answered: ‘Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon” (Acts 10:30, emp. added; cf. vs. 3). Even the Roman authority Claudius Lysias was “following the Jewish method of counting time” (Jackson, 2005, p. 298) in Acts 23:23 when he alluded to “the third hour of the night” (i.e., 9:00 p.m.). Notice that all of Luke’s allusions to days and hours in Acts assume a Jewish reckoning of time. [NOTE: Matthew and Mark also followed Jewish time, while John—who wrote near the end of the first century—seems to have followed Roman time (cf. Smith, 1869, 2:1102; Robertson, 1922, p. 285; Lockhart, 1901, p. 28; Brewer, 1941, pp. 330-331; McGarvey, 1892, 2:181-182).] The same may be said even of Luke’s references to seasons, as Reese so insightfully observes in his comments on Acts 27:9:

It should be noted that Paul is using Jewish time here (as he does in Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8; and Acts 18:21, KJV); or shall we say that Luke is using Jewish time in his account of what Paul said? Rather than speaking of sailing being dangerous from the Ides of November to the Ides of March, Luke uses the Jewish means of reckoning. In Jewish language, the sailing season was reckoned from the feast of Passover until the feast of Tabernacles (five days after the Day of Atonement) (1976, p. 897, emp. added).

Further, one must distinguish very carefully between the meaning “24-hour period” and “daylight” in the Bible’s use of “day.” For example, Luke informs us that Herod had James executed and intended to do the same to Peter: “Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover” (Acts 12:3-4, emp. added). Passover began on our Friday evening around 6:00 p.m. While sitting in prison during that night (vs. 6), Peter was released by an angel, so he went to the home of Mary (vs. 12) to report the incident, and then went elsewhere. Luke then states: “as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter” (vs. 18, emp. added). “Day” in verse 18 refers to daylight, i.e., morning—not another or second day.

Another example is seen in Luke’s remark about the Jewish authorities: “And they laid hands on them [the apostles—DM], and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening” (Acts 4:3, emp. added). Observe that, by “next day,” Luke did not mean to refer to a different day, as if to say that the apostles were arrested on Monday, but placed in custody until Tuesday. Rather, using Jewish time, Luke was saying that the apostles were arrested at or after 6:00 p.m. (“it was already evening”) on a particular day, and then placed in custody until the next daylight period, i.e., the next morning of the same day. To illustrate, if the apostles were arrested after 6:00 p.m. on, say, our Monday, it already was their Tuesday, and the “next day” when the Sun rose would still be Tuesday. [NOTE: For yet another example of this use of “day,” see Acts 23, where Paul delivered his defense before the Jewish Council (vss. 1-10). Luke then states: “But the following night the Lord stood by him...” (vs. 11). The “following night” does not refer to the night of the next day, but rather to the dark hours that followed sequentially after Paul’s defense during the daylight hours (as reflected in the NASB rendering: “But on the night immediately following...”). Verse 12 then states: “And when it was day...”—referring to the daylight that followed the night of verse 11. See also Acts 23:31-32; 27:27-29.]

This linguistic usage comes into play in Acts 20. Since Luke was using Jewish time (as he does everywhere else in Acts), then the disciples came together on the evening of our Saturday—their Sunday—with Paul “ready to depart the next day,” i.e., the next period of daylight, which would be sometime after dawn the next morning—which would still be their (and our) Sunday. Conybeare and Howson comment: “It was the evening which succeeded the Jewish Sabbath. On the Sunday morning the vessel was about to sail” (1899, pp. 592-593).

Observe also that the Jewish (vs. Roman) method of reckoning time is inherent in the terminology in the above passages, in which 12 sequential hours are equated with “day,” i.e., daylight. Roy Lanier, Sr. explains:

But reckoning the day of twenty-four hours from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the only way one can get twelve hours of night and twelve hours of day and get them in that order. Starting the period at midnight gives us approximately six hours of darkness, then twelve hours of light, and then another six hours of darkness, in that order. The Biblical day began with twelve hours of darkness and was followed by twelve hours of light (1984, 2:108).

Acts 20:11

When the worship was interrupted by the fall of Eutychus from the upper window, and Paul miraculously revived him, we read in verse 11: “Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.” Commentators are divided as to the meaning of “broken bread” in this verse. Some insist that “broken bread” and “eaten” refer to a common meal (perhaps “love feast”) that the brethren shared with Paul before his departure. Others insist that “broken bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper.

One primary reason to equate “broken bread” in this verse with the eating of the Lord’s Supper is due to its connection to the same expression used previously in verse seven. The Greek places the article before “bread” in verse 11, i.e., “the bread,” as reflected in both the ASV and NASB. G.C. Brewer concluded from this grammatical feature: “In verse 7 we are told that they came together to break bread, and in verse 11 we are told that after the interruption they came to the upper chamber again and broke the breadton arton” (p. 331). Brewer’s point was not that the article preceding “bread” automatically proves that the Lord’s Supper is intended. Rather, his point was that

since bread was mentioned in the context (verse 7), and this, as all admit, was the Lord’s Supper, and no other bread was contemplated in the passage, then “the bread” in verse 11 would naturally refer to the bread just previously mentioned. If we allow the context to explain what bread is intended, we can have no doubt about its being the Lord’s Supper (p. 336, italics in orig., emp. added; see also Hackett, 1852, p. 283; cf. Johnson, 1891, 1:505).

In their famous Greek Grammar of the New Testament, Blass, Debrunner, and Funk lend further support to this interpretation of Acts 20:11, in their discussion of the use of the article with proper names (1961, pp. 135-136). They note that while proper names “do not as such take the article,” they may do so as the result of “anaphora” (i.e., “the use of a linguistic unit...to refer back to another unit”—American Heritage..., 2000, p. 65). In other words, if a proper name is used, arton (bread) in verse seven, and the same noun is used thereafter in the same context preceded by the article, ton arton (the bread) in verse 11, the second occurrence of the noun generally refers to the earlier occurrence. Blass, et al., give examples of two such instances—both also by Luke: (1) the use of the article with Saul (“the Saul”) in Acts 9:1 with reference to the earlier mention of him in Acts 8:3 where the article is not used, and (2) the use of the article with Damascus (“the Damascus”) in Acts 9:3 with anaphora to verse two where Damascus occurs without the article.

Using four participles and one verb in verse 11, Luke itemized five specific actions that followed the revival of Eutychus. In the ASV, those actions are: (1) gone up (i.e., returning to the third floor), (2) broken the bread, (3) eaten, (4) talked a long while, and (5) departed. Observe carefully that the term “eaten” is a separate participial action from the breaking of the bread. It would appear that “eaten” refers to a common meal that Paul ate after the Lord’s Supper was commemorated. Guy N. Woods commented: “We believe that the breaking of the bread in verse 11 refers to the Lord’s supper; and that the mention of the word eaten suggests a common meal” (Woods, 1976, p. 351, italics in orig.). Conybeare and Howson agree: “[T]hey celebrated the Eucharistic feast. The act of Holy Communion was combined, as was usual in the Apostolic age, with a common meal” (1899, p. 594). They further noted that “When he had eaten, v. 11...is distinguished in the Greek from the breaking bread” (p. 594, note 3, italics in orig.; see also Robertson, 1930, 3:342; Jamieson, et al., 1871, p. 208). The objection that the allusion to breaking bread is singular and that therefore it cannot refer to the Lord’s Supper, since Paul would not have taken the Lord’s Supper by himself, actually carries no force, since the same objection would apply to the idea that a common meal is intended. Would Paul have consumed a common meal by himself—especially since he was accompanied by several traveling companions who would have been in just as much need of sustenance before continuing the trip with Paul (cf. McGarvey, 1863, p. 249)?

In view of Luke’s use of Jewish time, it matters little whether the Lord’s Supper or a common meal is indicated. In either case, the disciples came together to partake of the Lord Supper “on the first day of the week”—not Saturday or Monday. Even those scholars who are inclined to believe that Luke used Roman time, nevertheless, speak with virtually one accord in affirming that the Lord’s Supper was observed on Sunday—not Monday. As H. Leo Boles insisted: “[I]f they ate the Lord’s Supper on Monday, they did not do what they met to do on the first day of the week” (1941, p. 319). He also explained:

Yes. The Jews and Romans had different ways of counting time. It matters not to us how they counted time. We have a time designated as the “first day of the week,” and the Lord’s people are to meet upon that day. Their time was divided into days, weeks, months, and years, as in ours. Their weeks had a first day, and our weeks have a first day. We can know the first day of our week, and can meet and worship on that day and receive the blessing of God (1985, p. 112).

Though DeWelt assumes a Jewish reckoning, he noted: “We might remark that the Lord’s Supper here called the ‘breaking of bread’ was partaken of on Sunday regardless of what time of reckoning for time is used. If you count the time from sundown to sundown (Jewish) it was on Sunday. If from midnight to midnight (Roman) it was on Sunday” (1958, p. 271, emp. added).


Some argue that since the Jewish Christians could have observed the Lord’s Supper on our Saturday evening, we can, too. However, Saturday evening was not Saturday evening to a Jew—it was Sunday! The timing of our observance of the Lord’s Supper must conform to the reckoning of time indigenous to our culture. God expects Christians to observe the Supper on the first day of the week—however that day is reckoned in a given society. It will not do to say that we can partake of the Lord’s Supper on Saturday in Texas since at that moment in Australia it is already Sunday. A person living in Texas must observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday as Sunday is reckoned in Texas. Otherwise, there would be no end to the resulting confusion, and the emphasis placed on Sunday in the New Testament would be rendered essentially meaningless. God will hold each of us accountable for observing the Supper on Sunday as that day is reckoned in our culture and geographical location.

Another quibble is the assertion that since Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on a Thursday—taking of it Himself along with His disciples—we can partake on days other than Sunday. It is true that Jesus instigated the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening—the first day on which the Jews commenced preparations for the feast, which was the killing of the Passover lamb. But the thinking that says, “If He did it on Thursday, we can, too” fails on two counts. First, Jesus could have taught His disciples about a practice on one day, but intend for them to practice it on another, without being inconsistent. Second, the text plainly says that Jesus’ participation in this practice would take place “new...in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). In other words, He was giving them instruction on the observance of the Lord’s Supper that would be practiced in the church after its establishment. Therefore, one would have to look after Acts chapter two in order to see if Jesus intended any set frequency or particular day. We find precisely that—Sunday observance of the Lord’s Supper.

1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-39

While 1 Corinthians 11:23-39 provides much detail, the main purpose of the passage pertains to the how of the Lord’s Supper, not the when. Nevertheless, frequency and consistency in partaking of the Lord’s Supper are implied in such words as “do this” (vss. 24,25), “as often as” (vss. 25,26), “until” (vs. 26), “when” (vs. 33). Repetition is inherent in the construction of such expressions, without specifying the precise pattern of frequency. Since the phrases are indefinite, one must look elsewhere to see if any specific frequency is enjoined. All one need do is read forward to chapter 16. The Corinthians knew that they were to meet every first day of the week—as is evident from the use of kata in 1 Corinthians 16:2 (“every week”—see below). When Paul wrote, “Whenever you meet, you are to do such and so,” he knew that his readers already understood the intended specificity about the day (Sunday).


In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the term kata is distributive and means “every.” Macknight explains: “And as kata polin signifies every city; and kata mena, every month; and, Acts xiv. 23 kata ekklesian, in every church: so kata mian sabbatou signifies the first day of every week” (n.d., p. 208, italics and emp. in orig.; cf. Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 407; for a discussion of the proper translation of sabbatou, see Lyons, 2006; McGarvey, 1910, pp. 306-307). English translations that reflect this feature of the Greek include the NIV and NASB. Thus Paul unquestionably invoked weekly contributions for the churches: “on the first day of every week.” Similarly, the Jews understood that the Sabbath observance—“remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8)—applied to every Sabbath. Paul stated that he gave this same command for weekly Sunday collection to the Galatian churches as well (vs. 1). Here is an inspired apostle, under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus said would come, legislating frequency for first century churches. These churches obviously came together not only to offer a financial contribution and then go home. They met to engage in all acts of worship—the Lord’s Supper being premiere among them. Recognized theologian, avowed Pentecostal minister, and Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Regent College, Gordon Fee, agrees with this contention, when he speaks of Sunday as—

a weekly reckoning with religious significance.... This language is well remembered in the Gospel traditions in relationship to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The fixed place of this terminology in those narratives implies that it had more than simply historical interest for the early church. This is verified further by the note in Acts 20:7, which implies most strongly that Paul and the others waited in Troas until the “first day of the week” precisely because that is when the Christians gathered for the breaking of bread, that is, their meal in honor of the Lord (1987, p. 814, emp. added).


Only by gathering everything the New Testament says on a subject and logically fitting it all together can one arrive at the truth. The conclusion to be drawn from this information is definitive and unquestionable. Since Christians met every Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:2), and a central purpose for such assemblies was to observe the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7) regularly and consistently (Acts 2:42), it follows that the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday—and partook of it only on Sunday. H. Leo Boles well concluded: “There is no scriptural example or instruction authorizing the eating of the Lord’s Supper on any day except the first day of the week” (1985, p. 37). Rex Turner offers a fitting summary: “[T]he necessary and inescapable conclusion is that disciples must meet on, and only on, the first day of the week to break bread” (1972, p. 77).


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.

Anthon, Charles (1843), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (New York: American Book).

Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Atchley, Rick (1989), in Monroe Hawley, “Acts As A Pattern for the Church Today (Part 3),” Audio Cassette (Searcy, AR: Harding University Lectures).

Barnes, Albert (1847), Notes on the New Testament: Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005 reprint).

Behm, Johannes (1964), “artos,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Behm, Johannes (1965), “klao, klasis, klasma,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Blass, F., A. Debrunner, and Robert Funk (1961), A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Boles, H. Leo (1941), A Commentary on Acts of the Apostles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Boles, H. Leo (1985), Questions and Answers, Sermon Outlines and Bible Study Notes (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Brewer, G.C. (1941), Contending For the Faith (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Brownlow, Leroy (1945), Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ (Fort Worth, TX: Brownlow Publishing).

Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).

Campbell, Alexander (1972 reprint), “Lord’s Supper A Divine Institution,” in Around the Lord’s Table, ed. John Hinds (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Conybeare, W.J. and J.S. Howson (1971 reprint), The Life and Epistles of Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Dana, H.E. and Julius Mantey (1927), A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto, Canada: Macmillan).

DeWelt, Don (1958), Acts Made Actual (Joplin, MO: College Press).

Didache (no date), ed. Roberts-Donaldson, [On-line], URL: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html.

Dungan, D.R. (1891), “The Lord’s Supper,” in The Old Faith Restated, ed. J.H. Garrison (St. Louis, MO: Christian Publishing). Reprinted in John Hudson, ed., The Pioneers on Worship (Kansas City, MO: The Old Paths Book Club), pp. 93-114.

Fee, Gordon (1987), The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Ferguson, Everett (1976), “The Lord’s Supper and Biblical Hermeneutics,” Mission, September.

Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).

Gibbs, J.G. (1982), “Hour,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Gibson, Steve (1990), “Ruminations on Acts 20:7,” The Restorer, 10[1]:4-5, January.

Hackett, H.B. (1852), A Commentary on the Original Text of the Acts of the Apostles (Boston, MA: J.P. Jewett).

Harris, R.L., G.L. Archer, Jr., and B.K. Waltke (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).

Hasel, G.F. (1979a), “Day,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Hasel, G.F. (1979b), “Day and Night,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Hood, Kregg (1990), “Establishing Biblical Authority: A Fresh Look at A Familiar Issue (Part 2),” Image 6, May/June.

Jackson, Wayne (1991), “The Lord’s Supper in the Early Church,” The Edifier, 11:3, November 28.

Jackson, Wayne (2005), The Acts of the Apostles from Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Christian Courier), second edition.

Jamieson, Robert, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (1871), A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), [On-line], URL: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jamieson/jfb.i.html.

Johnson, B.W. (1891), The People’s New Testament (St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Education).

Klappert, Bertold (1976), “Lord’s Supper,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Lanier, Roy, Sr. (1984), 20 Years of the Problem Page (Abilene, TX: Quality Publications).

Lockhart, Clinton (1901), Principles of Interpretation (Delight, AR: Gospel Light), revised edition.

Lyons, Eric (2006), “The First Day of the Week,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3157.

MacKnight, James (no date), Apostolical Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Martyr, Justin (no date), First Apology, ed. Roberts-Donaldson, [On-line], URL: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/justin.html.

Mayeux, Randy (1989), “Letter to the Editor,” Christian Chronicle, 46:6, June.

McClintock, John and James Strong (1867), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).

McGarvey, J.W. (1863), A Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth Foundation).

McGarvey, J.W. (1892), New Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).

McGarvey, J.W. (1910), Biblical Criticism (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).

Miller, Dave (2003), “Legalism,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2265.

Milligan, Robert (1975 reprint), The Scheme of Redemption (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Moule, C.F.D. (1961), Worship in the New Testament Church (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press).

Nichol, C.R. and R.L. Whiteside (1920), Sound Doctrine (Clifton, TX: Nichol Publishing).

Nicoll, W. Robertson (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Pliny the Elder (1855 edition), The Natural History,ed. Bostick, John and H.T. Riley (London: Taylor & Francis), [On-line], URL: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999. 02.0137%3Ahead%3D%2382.

Rackham, Richard (1901), The Acts of the Apostles (London: Methuen & Co.).

Reese, Gareth (1976), New Testament History—Acts (Joplin, MO: College Press).

Robertson, A.T. (1922), A Harmony of the Gospels (New York: Harper & Row).

Robertson, A.T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman).

Robertson, A.T. (1934), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).

Robinson, Edward (1881), The Comprehensive Critical and Explanatory Bible Encyclopedia (Toledo, OH: H.W. Snow).

Smith, William (1868/1869), Dictionary of the Bible, ed. H.B. Hackett (New York: Hurd & Houghton).

Summers, Ray (1950), Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville, TN: Broadman).

Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1980 reprint).

Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).

Turner, Rex (1972), Sermons and Addresses on the Fundamentals of the Faith (Montgomery, AL: Rex Turner).

Warren, Thomas B. (1975), When Is An “Example” Binding? (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).

Woods, Guy N. (1976), Questions and Answers (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).










Correct views or warm righteousness? (2) by Jim McGuiggan



 Correct views or warm righteousness? (2)

Because it’s true that God desires mercy (covenant love that expresses itself in kindness and justice toward the neighbor) rather than the mere keeping of ordinances, people are tempted to dismiss ordinances as close to irrelevant in the lives of believers (OT or NT).

You can’t read the OT without seeing that the prophets rebuked the people for substituting religious ordinances for lives of faithful obedience. Micah 6:6-8, Isaiah 58:1-7 and Amos 5:21-24 illustrate this well and see Psalm 40:6-8 and 51:6-17.

So why didn’t Israel simply dismiss ordinances altogether? Why didn’t they say, “God really wants heartfelt allegiance to him and lives of righteousness and kindness so let’s forget all the things he called for, ordinances like circumcision, Sabbath observance, Passover and such”?

Wise men and women who are at home in the Scriptures and biblical theology would be able to give us a long list of good reasons why they didn’t but the rank and file of us have a couple of obvious ones we can rest on.

For one, God instituted these ordinances and whether the Jews understood all his wise reasons for doing so it wasn’t for them to debate with their King. God is a great King and as such he must be honored even in the matter of ordinances (compare Malachi 1:6-14). Many of us don't like that kind of talk; it sounds to us like God is a bully and we're being "ordered around". He isn't a bully or tyrant but he is GOD! We don't mind his refusal to negotiate with Pharaoh; we don't mind him simply deanding, "Let my People go!" It suits us for him to be GOD when he's commanding others on our behalf but we often get into that debating mode when he commands what we don't fully understand or what doesn't please us.

Secondly, institutions that embodied truths about God’s self-disclosure proclaimed things about God! It’s true that the fundamental truths about God were lived out in daily honor and justice with each other but ordinances like circumcision, Passover, Ingathering, Tabernacles and Sabbath gave meaning to their community living. Circumcision reminded them that they were God's children through Abraham and covenanted with God through him by grace. Passover reminded them that they were a people redeemed by grace from national oppression and so forth.

There were non-elect Gentiles that treated one another with neighborly kindness and justice (compare Romans 2:14-16) but they had no mark of circumcision saying they were the elect of God, they had no Passover saying they have been the object of a gracious redemption and they had no Sabbath to signify election and the one true God’s total provision. If the lives of non-elect people like Ruth the Moabite were compared with other fine Jewish women they would all be admired for their gentleness and generosity of spirit but God's ordinances in Israel spoke of HIM and not just upright Jews.

The ordinances spoke their truthful message about God even if Israel abused them! The ordinances spoke a condemnation on Israel when Israel refused to live up to the meaning of those ordinances. The ordinances proclaimed truths about God and his character and purpose as surely as the lovely lives of obedient and faith-filled Israelites did.

We don’t learn to despise or dismiss or think little of the ordinances of God from the Bible because they shape the believer’s understanding of his/her life of obedience. The ordinances proclaim the soil out of which their virtue takes it rise. The believing Jew would tell the world of Passover and Sabbath and the Christian world tell the world of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper because the ordinances were a witness to God and his work (see 1 Corinthians 11:26). While a life pursuit of holiness, righteousness and kindness is an indispensable marker of the believer it is not to be severed from the God-appointed ordinances which point to Him and his cosmic purpose and beyond the lifestyle of the true believer even while they shape the identity of God’s people and the nature of their pursuit of holiness. 

“But who cares why we are virtuous and righteous or what kind of religious soil they spring from? Is it not enough that we all treat one another decently and with justice?”

I’ve heard that question expressed hundreds of times in my life. I’ve often asked it! For those who have little time for religion (but who nevertheless live on the bread brought to the world via the Hebrew—Christian scriptures and faith)—for those who have little time for religious ordinances, their theological meaning and witness are wholly irrelevant. “Look at me! I live as well as any of you religious people so it’s clear I can get along very well without your ‘truth’ and ordinances.” I’ve often heard that too from decent and upright people who weren’t speaking in arrogance but in honest debate.

With many others I would answer that God is at work in their lives whether they acknowledge him or not and that our faith and ordinances included proclaim truth about God that their lives without faith or ordinances do not. [To be continued, God enabling.]









BIBLE QUOTE: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins....(NKJV)

BAPTIST INTERPRETATION: Repent, and let every one of you be baptized because your sins have already been forgiven.(Baptist Doctrine)

BIBLE QUOTE: 1 Peter 3:20-21...were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism....(NKJV)

BAPTIST INTERPRETATION: Baptism does not save you, it is simply a testimony of faith. (Baptist Doctrine)

BIBLE QUOTE: Hebrews 6:4-6 For is is impossible for those who were once enlightened....and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.....6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance..(NKJV)

BAPTIST INTERPRETATION: Once a Baptist is in grace, he is always in grace, he cannot fall away. (Baptist Doctrine)

BIBLE QUOTE: Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved...(NKJV)

BAPTIST INTERPRETATION: He who believes is saved already and should be baptized into the Baptist Church. (Baptist Doctrine)

BIBLE QUOTE: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should perish but have everlasting life.(NKJV)

BAPTIST INTERPRETATION: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him and is not baptized in water, is saved by "faith only."(Baptist Doctrine)      








Saved by Many Things by J.C. Bailey




 Saved by Many Things

It is widely taught in the religious world that we are saved by faith alone. I once heard a man preaching on the radio who declared that we are saved by grace alone. The Bible certainly teaches that we are saved by faith. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul what he should do to be saved, Paul told him to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Paul wrote to Titus and said that the grace of God has appeared and brought salvation to all men (Titus 2:11). There is no contradiction here and neither verse says that we are saved by faith alone or by grace alone. The Holy Spirit declares through the apostle Paul that by faith we have access to God's grace (Romans 5:1,2). So we see there is no contradiction in the Scriptures when it says we are saved by grace and we are saved by faith.

The Scriptures teach that we are saved by obedience. We read: “...though he was a son, yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8,9). Is there any contradiction here? No, there is never any contradiction in the word of God. Jesus, in His prayer to the Father, said: “Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Truth never contradicts itself. That is an impossibility.

Obedient Faith

Let us show then that there is no contradiction between being saved by obedience and being saved by faith through grace. Let us read from the Word of God again: “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). So we see that the faith that saves is an obedient faith. James, by the power of the Holy Spirit, put it this way: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

One brother in India said to me: “It is hard to reconcile James and Romans.” I said, “It is not difficult to reconcile James and Romans. The problem is that you cannot reconcile James with what you think Romans teaches.”

It is a very common fallacy of the religious world to claim that Paul taught justification by faith alone in the book of Romans. He did not. Let us see what Paul said in the book of Romans. We read: “Who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all nations, for his name's sake” (Romans 1:4,5). So instead of Paul teaching justification by faith alone, he plainly stated by the power of the Holy Spirit that he was talking about an obedient faith. Lest the world should fail to grasp this great truth, he said in the very last chapter, referring to mystery of the gospel: “...but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26).

Love of the Truth

The Scriptures clearly point out that we are saved by these things. So as we study and learn more things by which we are saved we shall have no problem as long as we do not teach that we are saved by any one of them alone. If we are going to be saved, we must love the truth (II Thessalonians 2:10).

Jesus said that the word is truth (John 17:17). He said that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all the truth. “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26). Jesus further declared: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all the truth; for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall be speak; and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

So the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the truth. He gave them all the truth. He guided them into all the truth. We are to love the truth. We would not take from it nor would we add to it. John now talks to us by the power of the Holy Spirit: “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 9).

We have studied enough now that we can see the truth in God's Word when it says: “Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). How does the Word save? When we believe it. “So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

The Place of Baptism

If we have faithfully followed the teaching of the Scriptures we shall not have trouble in accepting the fact that we are saved by baptism (I Peter 3:21). Why do people reject this plain statement of Scripture? Because they have been taught that we are saved by faith alone. We are saved by receiving with meekness the implanted word. We are to abide in the teaching. Here is what Jesus said: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15,16). No child of twelve years old could misunderstand what it says here. Why do men who profess to be Bible scholars reject this plain statement? Jesus gave us the reason: “And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your traditions” (Mark 7:9). The tradition of man today is that we are justified by faith alone. In order to hold to that tradition they must reject the commandment of Jesus in Mark 16:15,16. If you, in times past, have held to that tradition of justification by faith alone, will you continue to hold to it and reject the commandment of God?

The day the gospel was first preached, after the sermon by Peter, the people asked the question: “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Now listen carefully to Peter's answer for it was the answer of the Holy Spirit: “Repent ye and be baptized every one in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Is there anything difficult to understand about this? No. Why does nearly the whole religious world reject this command? They want to maintain their doctrine of justification by faith alone.

The line is drawn. The issue is clear. If we teach justification by faith alone, we must reject the commandments of God, but if we accept the fact that we are saved by an obedient faith we can accept every Scripture we have used. We can accept all Scriptures. If we keep the human doctrine of justification by faith alone then we must reject the commandment of God as revealed in the New Testament.

The battle line is drawn up. Some day we are going to be judged by the Word of God (John 12:48). Why not live by it now!

J. C. Bailey, 1982, Dauphin, Manitoba

Published in The Old Paths Archive