➡ Average Reading Time: 98 minutes

Stuff Folks Ask: Beginning Answers in Plain English
By Winn Griffin
Copyright copyright 2012 by Winn Griffin
All Rights Reserved. Worldwide.
Published by: Harmon Press: Digital Edition
Woodinville, WA 98077

ISBN: 978-1-935959-35-9

All rights reserved solely by the author. The author guarantees all contents are original and do not infringe upon the legal rights of any other person or work. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. The views expressed in this book do not necessarily represent those of Harmon Press or one of its Imprints.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copy-right copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Contents
Introduction

Old Testament


↓ Why is God in a plural form in the first chapter of Genesis?
↓ Are we to believe that incest occurred at the beginning?
↓ Who were “the sons of God” that married “daughters of men” | (Gen 6:1)?
↓ Did Jesus appear in the OT in Human form?
↓ Why did Lot’s wife turn to salt?
↓ Why did Isaac give Jacob the blessing instead of Esau in Genesis?
↓ The Day of Atonement and Chronology
↓ Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and the Splitting of the Kingdom: 1 Kings 12.1-24
↓ What does Ezekiel chapter 16 (vs. 59-63) mean today?
↓ How Many Temples in the Old Testament?
↓ Who in the Bible laughed when threatened with a spear?
↓ Chronology of Old and New Testament

New Testament

↓ Jupiter and Saturn Alignment
↓ What was the timeframe of the death of Jesus?
↓ Questions about Jesus
↓ What is the spiritual mark Christian have that attest that they belong to Christ?
↓ What is the spiritual mark Christians have to attest to their belonging to Christ?
↓ What say you about signs of the Holy Ghost as to speaking in other tongues?
↓ Where can I find the Story of the Prodigal Son?
↓ What sin was repented of to obey the Acts 2:38 command?
↓ How does John 15.7 apply to the reader of Scripture today?
↓ Do deacons have to be male – 1 Tim. 3.12?
↓ How does Hebrews 6 apply to us today?
↓ Will Christians be raptured?

Theology

↓ How was Satan thrown out of heaven?
↓ How was Satan thrown out of heaven?
↓ Sexual Evangelism?
↓ Can a wife withhold sex from her husband?
↓ What about a church board member “living with” his fiancée?
↓ Is it wrong to remarry…?
↓ What about premarital sex?
↓ What about sex before marriage?
↓ Does the Bible speak about an open marriage?
↓ What about Nudity?
↓ What is the meaning of the kingdom of God?
↓ What is the biblically defined role of a pastor?
↓ What is the function of elders?
↓ What about Apocalyptic Literature?
↓ Who was crucified upside down?
↓ Did Women Sing in the Sanctuary?
↓ Will there be any pets in heaven?
↓ Where in the Bible did God appear as an angel?
↓ Do you use the KJV of the Bible?
↓ What does Scritprue say about physical appearances and plastic surgery?
↓ Son of God and Son of Man
↓ Chronological Bible
↓ How long do I live?
↓ What about Spiritual Gifts?
↓ Are there any stories in Scripture about the environmental cleanliness?
↓ What does the word threescore mean?
↓ Can you tell me where I can get an Englishman’s Concordance?
↓ Where is that verse?
Works Cited
Bibliography

Introduction

In the church, we usually have more questions than we get answers. I often get invited to speak to communities of faith. On several occasions, I have offered the congregants a choice of presentations. They collectively chose a Q&A format. I found that interesting. For background to why Q&A is important, I gave a quick overview of 1 Corinthians demonstrating that it was a book whose content was largely Paul’s answers to questions that the Corinthian church had. Then, I facilitated an open Q&A with the congregants in which the confines of the question had to deal with some conflict they were having with understanding the Bible. It was a freeing experience for them.

It has been my experience that believers new and not-so-new often have many questions that go unanswered because there is not sufficient time given in the structure of church services to suggest answers. We are so afraid of argumentation that we stifle conversation.

Online, over the years, I have entertained a Q&A format at askdrwinn.com. The following information has been gathered from there and edited for this presentation. I must say that my answers are not infallible. They are just my answers. You may agree or disagree and they still remain my answers. They are not offered as an apologetic for argumentation about right and wrong. They are my answers. Ooops, I already said that.

The book is formatted using three different sections around which questions have been asked: Old Testament, New Testament, and Theology. While the latter may have also fit into the Old Testament and New Testament arena, they seemed better arranged in a general theology section. Often the questioner would write back a comment to which I would respond. These comments and responses are also included. On occasion, I have not cleaned up the grammar of the questions. The reason: so that you as a reader can read the “real words” of the questioner as they struggle with the question they are proposing.

My hope for the reader is that this will be a stimulation to ask questions of your biblical teachers and then allow them to provide their answers for you to contemplate. One of my presuppositions is that when the Bible doesn’t answer a specific question, and often it doesn’t, there may be something wrong with the question. So, if we were to ask the question of Scripture, “How old is the earth?” There is no answer in the sacred text to this question. A follow-up question that could be asked is, “Why is it important for the questioner to want an answer from the Bible for such a question?” Once I was asked, “How many gallons of water did I think it took for the flood to cover the whole earth ala the Genesis story? The questioner had heard a lecture on the subject the week before in a different church that he attended in which the teacher had gone to great lengths to devise a formula for calculating such according to the topography of the earth. My answer surprised him. I suggested that he should return to the class the following week and ask that teacher a question. What does the story of the flood tell us about why it is wrong to beat a dog? His quizzical look was priceless. “Why should he ask such a foolish question?” he asked. I replied, “What question do you think was being asked by the teacher for you to hear the answer of X number of gallons of water covering the earth?” I then suggested what I suggested above, sometimes the questions we ask are not answered by the sacred text and to force an answer from the sacred text that it was not trying to answer is simply a form of biblical abuse.

So, let’s turn to the questions at hand and my attempt at a beginning answer. A note about the format: sometimes the information from which an answer is gathered is long. On those occasions, I have either suggested where you could read the information online with a step by step approach to how to find the material, or there is a link that will take you to an article elsewhere online using the beauty of hyperlinks in the eBook.

Enjoy, and if these questions and answers stimulate other questions you have, please go to askdr-winn.com and ask away.

By the way, when you see the following symbol () after a link in the text, it means that it is pointed toward an online page. All other links will send you internally within the document with a link to return to where you departed from.

Old Testament

The material in this section is generally centered around questions about the Old Testament. Some of them are specific to a passage; others are general.

Question: Why is God in a plural form in the first chapter of Genesis?
Please explain why the plural is used in Genesis when God says, Let us make man in our own image. Thanks for your help.

Beginning Answer

To understand this phrase we need to ask the question: What did the human author mean by it and what could the first hearers have understood by it? These questions are the controlling factors for its present meaning.
Humanity’s creation is preceded by the phrase “let us make man” (v. 26). We should hesitate to read this as a clear-cut Trinitarian statement, a matter about which the Old Testament is essentially silent. One must remember that the Old Testament people of God to whom this story of creation was first delivered believed, the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4).

God’s main interest in this creation story was to help his newly formed children to form a monotheistic view of God over against the polytheistic view of the ancient world in which they lived. The “us” for this group of people may have been the concept of the heavenly council (Psalm 89.6-7). If that were the case then the community was the image to which this text was pointing. Therefore, this phrase may indicate that God created humankind to be a community. This would be within the boundaries of teaching his newly formed children that they were his people.

As the New Testament unfolded and the church of the first centuries began to understand the implications of the teaching of the New Testament, the doctrine of the Trinity of God began to be understood. The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a community, also.

The uniqueness of the Holy Spirit in inspiration allowed the first hearers to understand the community without stumbling them by the idea of Trinity in the midst of a polytheistic society, while the concept of Trinity might be understood today as a community.

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Are we to believe that incest occurred at the beginning?
According to Genesis 1:27-28, God created one man and one woman and told them to multiply. How did the rest of human beings come to be? Are we to believe that incest occurred at the beginning? As a Catholic, I am often asked that question and I really do not know how to answer. I believe the Church says that we are not to consider Adam and Eve as just representing one couple among many. Please help me with this.

Beginning Answer

There is an interesting rule of thumb when it comes to asking questions of Scripture. If we supply the right answer to the wrong question, the answer we supplied is wrong. As believers impregnated with the Western Enlightenment Project, we often ask questions of Scripture that are not really important. Think of it this way. If one believes that God is behind the writing of Scripture (i.e., he in-spired the human authors to write what he wanted to be written, but allowed them to use their own vocabulary to do so) then what is written is what God wanted to say about a subject in the context in which it was said. When we ask a question that is not answered in Scripture, there is nothing wrong with Scripture; there might be something wrong with the question. Such is the question about where did other humans come from or more simply stated as a question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” Since Scripture is silent on where Cain’s wife came from, it means that it is not important for us to know or God would have provided the answer.

This answer makes most Western believers feel very uncomfortable. Because of the Enlightenment project of the last 300 or so years, we have come to believe that if there is a question that we can think up, there must be an answer to it. Such is simply not the case.

The text of Genesis 1.27-28 was a story told the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai to help them understand the importance of community. If they were going to be God’s people in the land God had promised to which they were going, they desperately needed to understand and live as a community.

Genesis 1 is not a treatise on how the world came into existence. It is a teaching about how to have a relationship with the one and only God and not all the other gods that crowd our lives asking for worship. Is it possible that sometimes even our questions, which we sometimes are driven to ask, become idols themselves, and without knowing it, we violate the implicit teaching of Genesis chapter 1? Of course, I don’t mean that we should refrain from asking questions, but when we discover that the sacred text is not going to provide us an answer, maybe we should just lay the question aside and not create an idol with our own inquiries.

Question: Who were “the sons of God” that married “daughters of men” in Gen 6:1?

Beginning Answer

Genesis 6.1-4. The function of these verses is to link the genealogy of Adam in the preceding chapter with the following event. Chapter 5 focuses only on the sons born before the flood, while Genesis 6.1 focuses on the daughters born to men. To say the least, Genesis 6.1-4 has been and appears to remain a baffling passage of Scripture. Some questions that are often asked include: Does this story indicate the reason for the judgment that follows the story, i.e., the flood? Who are the sons of God? What does it mean for God to say “My spirit shall not contend with man forever….”? Who are the Nephilim? Are they the same or different from “the mighty men?” Were the Nephilim con-temporary with the mentioned cohabitation or the product of such cohabitation? There have been many answers to questions such as these.

The author of Genesis 1-11, traditionally held to be Moses, intended to produce a readable story for the first readers. It was most likely oral in its telling only becoming written later. This story was to demonstrate the increase of wickedness that occurred after the fall of humankind. He had an interest in the listeners/readers knowing that God had created everything good and that nothing evil could be laid at the feet of God. Evil had not come from God but had occurred when the first humans decided to disobey God.

The effects of evil started with Adam and Eve, continued with Cain with the murder of his brother, and within the line of Cain. Lamech sang a song boasting of how many men he had slain—from one murder to multiple murders. It is at this point in the story of Genesis 1-11 that the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” story appears.

Literary Genre

One of the questions that should always be asked by a student of Scripture is: In what kind of literature is the passage under consideration written? This is the most important question that you can ask of Genesis 1-11. Most interpretations center around two views: Historical and Mythological. The normal Christian reaction to using the word “myth” as related to Biblical text is often that of disdain. One should not jump to conclusions that the word myth is all bad until some research is done by the student of Scripture on the concept of myth in the ancient world. We might ask, “Is myth bad?”

Myth. Myth is usually defined as “stories about gods which have been narrated in a communal setting as occurrences of permanent significance, and which normally presuppose a given view of the world.” For more information read the following article: “Myth, Mythology.[1]

The main characteristics of a myth that most writers agree on are:

  • The story is set in a narrative form that expresses ideas or events as tales that embody imaginative features.
  • The stories are never generalizations or analyses.
  • They emerge in a communal setting.
  • In their community setting, myths possess the status of believed truth.

As a Bible student, you need to decide if this story is “mythological” or “historical” using the above information or information like the above information from another source. Again, remember to try to lay aside your presuppositions as best you can. Your presuppositions may often have deep emotional roots, and try to view the passage as objectively as possible. Of course, nothing here is completely objective. But, on the other hand, nothing has to be observed completely from our own emotional baggage either.
Sons of God

There are three different views concerning the meaning of the phrase “sons of God.”

  • View #1. The “sons of God” were sons of princes. This is the view of orthodox rabbinical Judaism. This is the starting place for an interpretation which suggests that the key to the identity of the “sons of God” is provided by the sacral kings who are so much in the center of interest in studies concerning the ancient near Eastern life and culture. Kings were often regarded as divine, in one way or another, and they were often called the “sons” of various gods. In Genesis 6.1-4, the phrase “sons of God” is a designation for the antediluvian (before the time of the flood) kings and should be translated “sons of the gods.”
  • View #2. The “sons of God” were angels. This view is defended in the following way: The language “sons of God” elsewhere in the Old Testament is unquestionably understood as “an-gels” (Job 1.6, 2.1, 38.6-7; cf. Psalm 29.1, 89.7). The strength of This position is based on its desire to allow the language of other passages to take its full be weight as equal to each other. This may be outweighed in that more than one author or editor had this story in hand and may have meant something very different than another author because of the context in which the words appear.
  • View #3. The “sons of God” was the line of Cain and the line of Seth. This view presupposes that Seth’s line was the godly line while Cain’s line was the ungodly line. The intermarriage between the lines is seen as a breach of covenant. There is nothing implicit or explicit in the story to help the present reader to come to this conclusion.

The second view was a common way for this passage to be explained during the life of Jesus and his disciples. This seems to be the opinion of Jude in his New Testament book. Jude’s references are dependent on 1 Enoch 6-11. He was certainly familiar with these chapters. These chapters in 1 Enoch tell of two hundred angels under the leadership of Semihazah and Asael, who were filled with lust for the beauty of human women. They descended on Mount Hermon and took human wives. Their children, the giants, ravaged the earth, and the fallen angels taught men forbidden knowledge of all kinds of sin. They were responsible for the destruction of the world by the flood that God sent.

The stimulus for the behavior of the “sons of God” was the attractiveness of the daughters of men. Scripture has no shortage of stories about human beauty (Gen. 12.11, 14; 24.16; 29.17; Deut. 21.10-11; Judges 15.2; 2 Sam. 11.2-3; 13.1; 14.27; 1 Kings 1.3-4; Esther 1.10-11, 2.7; Job 42.15) not to mention the bride in the Song of Songs. It should be said that we should not become dogmatic about the identification of the “sons of God” in this passage. At best, we should consider all the options.

Verse 3 “My spirit shall not remain in man forever…” should be contrasted with Genesis 3.22 where eating of the tree of life would produce immortality. The attempt of this angelic-human intercourse was like eating of the tree of life. It was intended to produce eternal life for humankind. As an attempt to appropriate what belongs only to God, it is severely condemned. Instead of humankind living forever, they are now reduced to 120 years. There seems to be ample evidence that in the post-flood, the recorded ages steadily decline (Jacob: 110 years, Gen. 50.26; Moses: 120 years, Deut. 34.7; Joshua. 110 years, Jos. 24.29; only Aaron exceeds 120 years and lived till 123 years of age, Num. 33.39).

Who are the Nephilim?

The only other reference in Scripture to the Nephilim is in Numbers 13.33. The spies who entered the Promised Land said they saw the Nephilim and in their midst, they felt like mere grasshoppers. In the Genesis passage, the Nephilim appear to be the offspring of this combination who continue to generate Nephilim in the course of their married lives. The passage in Numbers implies that the people that the spies saw were people of extraordinary physical stature and thus understood as giants. It would be contrary to Scripture to suggest that this race survived the flood whose purpose may have been to destroy such a race. The other name Genesis gives these offspring is “mighty men.”

The placement of this story in Genesis is certainly to introduce the Flood story.

Comment from the questioner.
I was confused in some other way about the interpretation of the sons of God and daughters of men because some are saying that the sons of God are the fallen angels as they said Gen. 6:1. My question is, can an angel be a human being? Do they have the power to live as human beings, like they have married the daughters of men as stated in the Bible (Gen 6 )? We all knew that God created us in his likeness, and in Genesis 2 when He created man and woman that was the beginning of the race of men. And in some instances in the New Testament, it says there that the sons of God are those people who have the Spirit of God. Like Noah, and his children who were walking in the light of God! Is it not that the sons of God in Gen.6:1 are those ancestors of Noah who walked with God for 300 years? Those in Noah’s time that intermarried with the daughters of men? That God Almighty became upset with their actions and started to wipe them out by means of a ”flood”? Please help me in prayers to give me a clear understanding of God’s message pertaining to this issue. I believed that God Almighty will reveal His Word to everyone out there. God bless

Response

The original question that was asked was: who were “the sons of God” that married daughters of men in Gen 6:1?

I offered the three main views that are often held in regard to this question.
Your question comes from View #2: “can an angel be a human being?” This view was held by some in the ancient world and even today. Remember, this is a view, an opinion, not necessarily what the text means. The best I can say is that throughout history these are the views that have been offered to understand Genesis 6.1-4. It doesn’t mean that any one of them is correct, or that anyone of them is not correct. It only means that they have been offered. As a reader of the sacred text, your job is to take on the task of reading widely about this issue and see the arguments that are offered for this passage. You might want to take a look at The NIV Application Commentary Genesis[2]

In the Old Testament, Jesus was in the Garden. There were three men who came to eat with Abra-ham. He performed a role as Melchizedek as the “King of Righteousness” in Heb 7. As only a God family member can be Righteous, it is obviously Christ. Also, Abraham gave a tithe to Him – Why was a mere man tithing to God (See also Hebrews 5 – 6)?

According to John 1, all was made by Christ as the Word of God. So it was He who formed, communicated, and banished Adam & Eve from the garden.

So, did Jesus appear in the OT in human form?

Beginning Answer

No, Jesus was not in a human form in the Old Testament. Some interpret the story in Genesis 18 believing that one of the three visitors to Abraham was Jesus. Others see the phrase “son of man” in the story of Daniel in the lion’s den as a reference to Jesus. A rule of thumb when interpreting Scripture is that a story cannot mean what it could not have meant to the first hearers/readers. The Old Testament folks did not have a concept of Jesus. They would not have recognized him as a character in a story presented to them to tell them of the journey of God with Israel.

John recounts the birth of Jesus and “he became flesh and tabernacled among us” as the point in time of the incarnation of the “human form” of Jesus.

Jesus did not have a human form until he was born into humankind by Mary. There is no evidence in the text of the Old Testament to support otherwise. However, some have found random Scripture and supplied an out of context interpretation. This way of looking at Scripture, i.e., a group of vers-es here and there is what cults are made of. You might want to take a look at two helpful books and one article in this regard:

  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
  • God Has Spoken but What Has He Said?
  • Stop Quoting Verses! Start Reading Stories.

Finally, one has to ask the question: Why is it so important that Jesus be found in the Old Testament?

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Question: Why did Lot’s wife turn to salt?

Beginning Answer

The stories in the book of Genesis are the teaching stories for the children of Israel as they were journeying from Egypt to Canaan. Both ends of their journey were rampant with polytheism, i.e., the belief in may gods. God’s major concern was to teach and train his people about who he was. Remember, they had lived in Egypt for several centuries and had forgotten who he was. Hence, the story early in Exodus about Moses wanting to know who he should tell the slaves in Egypt that God was. At the foot of Sinai, God continued to teach them about being faithful to the covenant he had made with Israel which began with the covenant stipulation that Israel could only have one God, Yahweh. No other gods were permitted. The result of worshiping other gods would have serious consequences on them. The result of looking back to Egypt and their former gods would have serious results in the community. In light of this small historical backdrop, it is not surprising that we have several stories about the result of disobeying God of which Lot’s wife is one.

The story does not center around the substance into which she was turned, salt. However, in a land that was close to the Great Salt Sea in which nothing was able to live, one might be inclined to observe that to be turned into salt was a picture of how drastic it is to disobey God.

The children of Israel who were on their journey needed to know and understand how important it was to obey God. Some of them learned this and made it to the land God had promised their forefathers. Others died in the wilderness for their disobedience.
One might ask from this story what the result might be in our lives for disobedience to the direction of God.

Question: Why did Isaac give Jacob the blessing instead of giving it to Esau? (Genesis 27)

BEGINNING ANSWER
As we stated above, the stories in Genesis are given to help Israel on their journey to the land that God had promised them beginning with Abraham. At this point in the story, Abraham had died. What might happen to God’s promise to him about a land? The stories that follow in Genesis stress that the promise will continue through Isaac and later his children. The basic idea of these stories is that the descendants of the obedient servant Abraham would be blessed because of him, but his descendants also had to exercise faith in order to enjoy the promised blessing of the land. A faith in God to produce his promises engenders a fearless walk focused on God and not on his surroundings. This Israel needed to learn on their journey to the promised land.
In the story of Genesis 27.1ff, Isaac was advanced in age and was losing his eyesight. He requested his oldest son to go into the fields and find the wild game and make him something to eat and he would bless him. It is paradoxical to note that Esau lost his birthright after he returned from a hunt and he was about to lose the blessing after he left to go hunting.

When the deception, (which is the root meaning of Jacob’s name) was complete and the blessing given, there was no ability to undo it. Once a word of blessing in the ancient world was spoken, it could not be recalled. We may note that this is the reason there are so many injunctions in the Old Testament against speaking too much, making rash vows, injudicious talk, etc. There is an irrevocable quality attached to words. One cannot unsay them.

It appears that Jacob and his mother Rebekah won with their deception. While in just lines in a later story of Joseph, he noted that God works in everything to bring about what he wants to bring about. God would work through their conniving. What God wanted to achieve would not be stopped by man’s inability to wait for God to move. God’s program will triumph in spite of fallen human activities.

The story demonstrates the over-reliance on one’s senses and the fact of deception. Israel needed to learn that to make it into the land that God had promised that there was a need to be obedient and not be given to following their natural senses. This happened in Ai only to the detriment of Israel.
We must remember that the stories that are recorded in the Bible are “as is.” There is no choice to spin the characters to look like “holy” people. They are just plain ole people trying to learn to follow God and gaining blessings when they succeed and judgment when they fail.

In light of the deception of Jacob’s father, God still worked out what he wanted to accomplish. But, think of the anguish of Jacob in his deception of his father and his long estrangement from his brother. Deception had its consequences. One of the timeless truths that we may discover here is that a reliance on one’s senses for spiritual discernment not only will often prove fallible but often foul up life and make it messier than it already is.

Question: The Day of Atonement and Chronology

I would like to know what the Torah Jews do in place of sacrifices to atone for their sins in this day and age? And I would like to know the chronological order of the OT and the NT?

BEGINNING ANSWER

I know that Modern Jews still worship in their synagogues on the Day of Atonement which is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur[3] starts at sunset on Sunday, October 1, and ends at nightfall on Monday, Oc-tober 2. But, beyond that, I am not sure. You might want to ask a Jewish Rabbi that question. Search Google for “ask a Rabbi.”

Question: Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and the Splitting of the Kingdom: 1 Kings 12.1-24
Why were the twelve tribes of Israel separated in ten Northern Tribes and two Southern Tribes? Isra-el and Judah? Please give me scripture references.

BEGINNING ANSWER

After the death of Solomon, which brought on the beginning of the end for Israel as a nation as God’s light to the world, the nation of Israel was made up of twelve tribes and was called the Unit-ed Kingdom split (1 Kings 12.1ff.)and disintegrated into two separate nations. The Northern King-dom existed as an independent nation for about two hundred years before being carried off into captivity by Assyria. The Northern Kingdom made up of ten tribes retained the name Israel in the sacred text. The Southern Kingdom made up of two tribes was called Judah and she survived for about 340 years before her own captivity at the hands of Babylon.

The Northern Kingdom had twenty kings, all of them portrayed as “doing evil in the eyes of the Lord” which became code words for breaking the stipulations of the Covenant. The Southern King-dom also had twenty kings of which twelve of them broke Covenant stipulations while eight of them followed the stipulations of the Covenant. Most Old Testament specialists believe that the Southern Kingdom lasted longer because of the respite of these eight Covenant following kings.

Question: What does Ezekiel 16.59-63 mean today?

Of the many precious promises found in the Bible that I claim on a daily basis, one of the most special for me as a seventy-five-year-old prodigal son, I found recorded in Ezekiel 16:59-63.

I feel that to a large degree I understand it as it applies to me, except for this statement, “and you will be overcome by my favor when I take your sisters, Samaria and Sodom, and make them your daughters, for you to rule over.”
I have said that I am sure there was a meaning here for the Israelites of that day…but is there something there for me today?

What do you think?

BEGINNING ANSWER

The following short article from Evangelical Commentary on the Bible may help you understand the flow of the words of Ezekiel. We must remember that these words were said and later read to a group of Hebrews and we cannot always make a one-to-one correlation and apply them directly to us today thousands of years later. The meaning of any one text of Scripture is wrapped up in the meaning the author of the text meant and what the hearers of the text could understand. It cannot have any other meaning. We often get meaning and application mixed up. It is my firm conviction that we cannot have true application until we actually understand what God meant by any passage of Scripture to those who first heard it. Then, whatever it meant to them, it will still mean to us today.

Few chapters in the Bible, and certainly none in the Old Testament, provide a more forceful illustration of the love of God than does this one. The Lord finds a female child abandoned by her parents, who are described in verse 3 as an Amorite and a Hittite. This may be understood literally on the basis of Genesis 10:15, which connects Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites ethnographically; or it may be understood morally. This child the Lord rescues raises, and eventually pledges his troth to in marriage. He lavishes upon her great riches.

Instead of appreciating and loving her Lord, she squanders her dowry on fornication, engages in ritual filicide with her offspring, seeks other lovers (foreign alliances), and in the process becomes worse than all other harlots.
For these sins, the Lord sentences her (Jerusalem) to a bloody death. The punishment will be two-fold. First, she will be stripped naked before her lovers (v. 37b). Stripping designates public expo-sure and degradation. Second, God will deliver her to her paramours (vv. 37–41) who will stone her and finally burn her. Foreign nations will ravage Jerusalem. As in the Book of Judges, God’s form of punishment on his own is to remove his protective hedge around them and hand them over to an alien. Only then will God’s wrath be assuaged.
What makes Jerusalem’s promiscuity so abominable is that she is more depraved than her sisters Sodom (to the south) and Samaria (to the north). Both of these analogies would touch a raw nerve, but the one referring to “sister Sodom” would be particularly upsetting. Not only is Jerusalem the worst of the three sisters, but also she has done things that make Samaria and Sodom blush! How interesting and debilitating it is when Sodomites, the epitome of iniquity, turn red when they gaze on the behavior of the citizens of the city of God!

To shame Jerusalem even further, the Lord promises the restoration of her two sinful sisters, and Jerusalem as well. God’s love is not restricted to one citizenry and to one city. Jerusalem, who once could not even bring herself to say “Sodom,” will now have to share the Lord’s love with Sodom. After all, if Jerusalem can spread her love around in the wrong way, why cannot the Lord spread?[4]

Question: How Many Temples in the Old Testament?
BEGINNING ANSWER
I am presuming that the question being asked is: How many Temples did the Jewish people have in their story in the Old Testament?
The concept of Temple started with the tabernacle. Walter Brueggemann says that “hosting the Holy One is not a small, trivial, or casual undertaking. And therefore the practice of symmetry, order, discipline, and beauty is essential to the reality of God’s presence in Israel.”[5] In chapters 25-31, God shows Moses the plan, material, and the designs for building the tabernacle. Moses carries out his assignment in the minutest detail. The tabernacle performed double duty: It was a visible symbol that God’s presence was with them and that each person had equal access to him and it provided Israel a place to worship and make atonement for their breaking of the covenant stipulations.[6] During the reign of David, he decided that the tabernacle needed a permanent place, and Jerusalem was chosen. The building of that Temple occurred during the reign of Solomon. The people of the ancient world believed that deities were attached to specific locations, so they built Temples to house their gods. Because the God of Israel did not need a place to be housed, which Solomon realized, he built a Temple with a different purpose. The Temple of Solomon was a meeting place between a man and God. His Temple was the first of the Jewish Temples. Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and lay in ruins until Ezra and Nehemiah returned to the land in the Restoration Period to rebuild it. When it was built, it was approximate twice the size of the portable Tabernacle which was constructed by the Jews under the guidance of Moses. About 180,000 workers were needed to complete the task of building the Temple. In today’s economy, it would have cost several billion dollars.
The Temple was destroyed in the invasion of the Southern Kingdom by the Babylonians. After Cyrus defeated the Babylonians, he allowed Ezra and Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. This period of time is referred to in scholarly writing as Second Temple Judaism. The mindset of this period was still prevalent during the life of Jesus.
During Jesus’ day, Herod had taken on a beautification project which included the Temple in Jerusalem. In AD 70, the Temple was again destroyed and has never been rebuilt.

??? 3 corrected

Question: Who in the Bible laughed when threatened with a spear?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Thanks for your question: I was unable to find any character in Scripture that fits the above situation. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one, only that I couldn’t find one.
Comment

Maybe you’re thinking of Goliath, who laughed at David while holding a big ‘ole spear himself?
Response

Could be! Maybe that was what the original questioner was referring to. Thanks for your input!

Question: Chronology of Old and New Testament
Can I find out the order of the Old and New Testament books?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Dating of Old Testament books is difficult. Dating of New Testament books is easier but still difficult. Old Testament Introductions or Surveys seem to avoid the controversy of dating Old Testament documents. New Testament Introductions and Surveys often make an attempt to date a specific book.
You can find a chronology of the story of the Old Testament[7] (still under revision) and New Tes-tament[8] on my SBL website site.

New Testament
The material in this section is generally centered around questions about the New Testament. Some of them are specific to passages, others are general.

Question: Jupiter and Saturn Alignment
Astrologers report that in the year 7 BC, two planets Jupiter and Saturn came together and made a bright star in the night sky. Have you heard of this? Do you agree?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Yes, I have heard of this. It is sometimes argued in the dating of the birth of Jesus. The following two resources may help.
First, from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the Public Domain.

Date of the Birth of Jesus:

Though challenged by some (Caspari, Bosanquet, Conder, etc., put it as late as 1 BC) the usual date for the death of Herod the Great, March, 4 BC (year of Rome 750), may be assumed as correct (for grounds of this dating, see Schurer, op. cit., Div. I, Vol. I, 464-67). The birth of Je-sus was before, and apparently not very long before, this event (Mt 2). It may therefore be placed with probability in the latter part of the previous year (5 BC), the ordinary dating of the commencement of the Christian era being thus, as is generally recognized, four years too late. There is no certainty as to the month or day of the birth. The Christmas date, December 25, is first met within the West in the 4th century (the eastern date was January 6) and was then possibly borrowed from a pagan festival. December, in the winter season, seems unlikely, as unsuitable for the pasturing of flocks (Lk 2:8), though this objection is perhaps not decisive (Andrews, Conder). More probable date is a couple of months earlier. The synchronism with Quirinius (Lk 2:2) is considered in connection with the nativity. The earlier dating of 6, 7, or even 8 BC, suggested by Ramsay, Mackinlay, and others, on grounds of the assumed Roman census, astronomical phenomena, etc., appear to leave too long an interval before the death of Herod, and conflict with other data, as Lk 3:1.[9]

Second, from Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels:

5. The Date and Birth of Jesus
…there was a notable conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC. in the constellation Pisces, and it is also true that both the Berlin Star Table and the Sippar Star Almanac indicate great interest and close study of planetary movements during 7 BC and afterward (Brown).
Modern astronomers have stressed that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in question was not close enough to appear a single star (Boa and Proctor). E. L. Martin’s careful and detailed study argues for the year of Herod’s death as 1 BC and the star being the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter seen from August 12, 3 B.C. onward. He further urges that the Magi did not come to honor Jesus until fifteen months after his birth (on December 25, 2 BC) and that at that time Jupiter had stopped over Bethlehem in the meridian position in the constellation of the Virgin. There are, however, many assumptions made in these calculations, and most scholars would reject such a late date for Herod’s death (but cf. Thorley). Another theory appeals to the appearance of Halley’s comet, which took place in the region in 12 BC — a date too early to be correlated with Jesus’ birth.

In short, it is doubtful that natural astral phenomena can help us pinpoint the time of Jesus’ birth. There are various imponderables about the story of the Magi that make calculations al-most impossible (e.g., how long after Jesus’ birth did the Magi come and honor him?). Most scholars who consider the story of the Magi historically possible would stress that there seems to have been an interval, perhaps over a year, between the time of the birth and the coming of the Magi. Taking all the evidence together, it appears that Jesus was born in or before 4 BC.[10]

Question: What was the time frame of the death of Jesus?
What is the time frame between the death and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-44) and when he came to Bethany and ate with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (John 12:1-10) and the time frame from that date to when Jesus was put to death on the cross

Beginning ANSWER
There is no indication to the time frame between the story of Lazarus in John 11 and John 12.1. John 12.1 begins on Friday evening before the crucifixion of Jesus on the next Friday.

Question: Questions about Jesus
As Jesus our Savior and God hung on the cross and was about to experience the sin of the world, He said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Knowing that God cannot look upon sin, 1.) How is it that He became sin for us? 2.) Did God the Spirit leave the body of Jesus at that moment, separating body and soul? 3.) How was it that God forsook Jesus?

BEGINNING ANSWER

1. How is it that He became sin for us?

This question t is not easily answered in a few sentences. So, you may need to read broader on the subject. I think you can find the beginning of an answer to this question in the article “Death of Christ” in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, which you can read online by going to this link. Death of Christ

2. Did God the Spirit leave the body of Jesus at that moment, separating body and soul?

Here are two ways Greek philosophy infiltrated the Christian faith early, which still has its effect on the church today.
There was a brand of belief that impregnated the church called Gnosticism, which was a form of belief that was most dangerous at the close of the second century. It most likely began much earlier than this date. There had been a tremendous influx of Gentiles into the early church. This influx brought with it several elements of the Greek philosophical mindset. The basic presupposition of this philosophy was dualism. This dualism says that spirit is good and material is evil. Salvation was an escape from the realm of matter to spirit via knowledge. This conflict became most acute in the understanding of the person of Jesus. The gnostic asked the question, “How could infinite pure spirit have anything to do with an evil material body?” There were two solutions to this dilemma.

A view called Docetism suggested that “Jesus was not really human — he only appeared to be.” The concept of Docetism came from the Greek word dekeo, which can be defined as “to seem.” Docetism suggested that Jesus was a ghost, an illusion; he seemed to be a man but had no real existence.

Jesus’ spirit did not inhabit his body until his baptism and his spirit left before his death. This was called Cerinthianism, from its leader, Cerinthus. This made Jesus a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde; one did not know when Jesus was human or when he was divine. The dualism of good and evil may be the background for what Jude says in v. 4a, i.e., …who changed the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.[11] Here are some additional thoughts on the often misconception derived from Platonic philosophy that we have a body and a soul. This information may help you in rethinking how you have asked the question.
“Got Soul: A Platonic Theory or Biblical Theology?”
Plato (427-347 BC) was a Greek philosopher and one of the most creative and influential thinkers in Western philosophy. Born in Athens, he became a student of Socrates, accepting his basic philosophy and style of debate. In 387 BC, Plato founded the Academy of Athens, often described as the first European university. Aristotle was the university’s most prominent student. Theologians Clem-ent of Alexandria, Origen, and Saint Augustine were early Christian exponents of a Platonic perspective.

Christianese

Like any other group of people, Christians have their own language system. It has often been called Christianese. With that language, we describe what has occurred to a new believer as “God saving a soul.” This betrays a definite Greek thought-form, which has become the foundation for our use of the soul language. The idea of getting souls saved is the language of Jonathan Edwards in the First Great Awakening in the 18th century. It has carried down to the present as good evangelical language, usually based on the passage in 1 Peter 1.9, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (NIV).

We have prayed and taught our kids to pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord, my soul, to keep….” This is not Christian theology but Greek philosophy unless the soul is taken with its Hebraic concept of wholeness as we will discuss below. Plato (see above in box) developed the distinction between body and soul. Scripture does not indicate anywhere that man has a soul but rather that man is a soul. Body and spirit would be two different ways or perspectives in Scripture by which the soul is viewed.
The Hebrew word which we translate soul is nepesh, which refers to a human being. It appears in the Hebrew Bible 750 times and is translated soul 119 times. No other Hebrew word is translated soul. All the other instances are rendered by English words such as life, being, self, etc. The New Testament term is psyche and essentially has the same meaning as nepesh. In Scripture, a soul is a complete person.

God shaped a lifeless form and breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 2.7). The human became a living being. Our anthropology of man has suffered greatly by the translation of this verse in KJV as a living soul. The first human creation of God became a complete being not body and soul. The concept of humankind as being made up of body, soul, and spirit is Platonic philosophy, not Biblical theology. Man is a whole viewed from two perspectives, body and spirit. This composite nature of a human being does not by itself set humankind apart from the animal kingdom. Both are identified as living beings (Gen. 1.20, 2.19) and both are designated as having the breath of life (Gen. 6.17; 7.22). What we can say is that the word picture suggests that humans have received special attention from God. His relationship with humans is immediate and personal.

Dr. George Ladd presents us with a more natural view of the soul in his book A Theology of the New Testament (Revised Edition).

“Soul (nepesh) is not a higher part of a human person standing over against the body, but designates the vitality of life principle in man. God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul (Gen. 2.7). The “body” and the divine breath together make the vital, active soul. The word is then extended from the life principle to include the feelings, passions, will, and even the mentality of the individual. It then comes to be used as a synonym for humanity itself[12].

Psyche (often translated soul) and pneuma (translated spirit) are not strictly interchangeable but refer to man’s inner life viewed from two points of view. Pneuma is man’s inner self viewed in terms of man’s relationship to God and to other men; psyche is man as a living being, as a human personality…Paul never speaks of the salvation of the soul, nor is there any intimation of the pre-existence of the soul.”[13]

The soul designates the vitality of life in man. It is the summation of his personality. It is equivalent to the meaning of I myself or yourself.
A way to understand this is to comprehend the following equation: Soul = Body (the outward part of man) and Spirit (the inward part of man). If we choose to use the terminology that God wants to save our souls, we need to be Hebraic instead of Greek. Yes, God does want to save our soul, i.e., the salvation of the body and the spirit, the salvation of the complete person.

Worship serves as a good example of this total person view because worship encompasses the total person. Remember, the Hebrew saw man as a unity with outer and inner dimensions. Humankind was for the Hebrew not divided into three parts, even though the Western rational interpretations of First Thessalonians 5.23 would try to so persuade us. Paul was using Platonic language in this passage, but with Hebraic insight. Man is not made of three parts any more than he is divided into four parts (Mark 12.30). We must be constantly reminded that although the New Testament is written in the Greek language, the concepts behind the language are rooted in Hebraic thought.
With this in mind, look at John 4.24, which says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Jesus was responding to the woman at the well’s assertion that worship happened in Samaria and Jerusalem according to her belief and the belief of the Jews. Jesus told her that the realm of worship, not the location of worship, was the issue. To worship in spirit and truth was the spiritual realm or the realm of spiritual activity that worship would naturally occur within. Therefore, to worship in spirit was to respond to the Holy Spirit with the inner man. To worship in truth meant to have genuine, truthful, honest worship. Truth is the knowledge of God, which comes through Jesus. Knowledge is a part of the physical perspective of humankind. As so often interpreted, truth does not mean philosophical correctness or even the Word of God (Bible) in this passage.

So biblical worship brings together the inner and outer man in response to God. It is an outward expression from an inner response, which God expects as we worship him. When we sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul…,” we are blessing God with our total being, not some Platonic part of our being.
We should always be willing to let our popular understanding of biblical ideas be formed by Scripture and not try to insert our popular understanding into the text of Scripture and thereby make God say something he never said. The good news is: you don’t have a soul, you are one! God created you as a complete person. He sent Jesus to deliver you as a complete person. Rejoice and accept his work in your total person. Got Soul? Nope, you are a soul!

3. How was it that God forsook Jesus?

It may well be that Jesus was simply quoting the first verse of Psalm 22, which is a Psalm of victory, to his mother, John, and others who were watching this awesome gift occur right in front of their eyes.

Question: What is the spiritual mark Christians have to attest to their belonging to Christ? Is it something the spiritual world can see on our bodies or faces?
BEGINNING ANSWER
At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told his disciples to make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching. The mark of a disciple is his or her changed lifestyle that lives in accordance with what Jesus taught. Matthew’s Gospel is a compendium of what he taught. Jesus taught his disciples to do the works of the Kingdom (heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, etc.) and live the words of the Kingdom (these teachings of Jesus are found in five places in the Gospel of Matthew, 5.1-7.27; 10.5-42, 13.3-52, 18.1-35, and 24.4-25.46). In addition, in the letters of Paul, we are told that we should live as new people of God in this present world. He tells his readers that they are to “put to death” the habits of life of this present age (Col. 3.5-11) and “clothe” themselves with the life of the age to come (Col. 3.12-14).
The marks of an authentic disciple of Jesus can be seen, but they are not physical marks like a tattoo would be.

4 ???? corrected to here

Question: What say you about signs of the Holy Ghost as to speaking in other tongues?

BEGINNING ANSWER

First, I was wondering about the filling of the Holy Spirit. I have been informed that the filling is evidenced by the speaking of tongues. This theology calls this the baptism in the Holy Ghost and I am confused. I believe that the filling is not the baptism. It is filling. And to be filled you do not have to speak in tongues. Also, I believe that the Book of Acts is not speaking of everyone’s baptism in the spirit as coming at a later date. Now I believe once we are saved you immediately receive that baptism. The Bible says you are baptized with water and of the spirit. To be filled, do you always have to speak in tongues? I have always understood this as just a gift. And the least of all gifts at that.

Second, do tongues present themselves as Baptism in the Spirit? Is this the only evidence of Baptism? Or, is Baptism in the Spirit the salvation experience? Also, do all people get all gifts? Why do people say everyone can speak in tongues when half the population of our churches can’t? Are tongues for a message from God? Or, are tongues something we can just use at will without the Spirit’s unction? I am so confused!!! I have been in Charismatic churches where this gift is exalted and is high and lifted up and seems to be an earmark of Christian supremacy and ultimate maturity.
BEGINNING ANSWER
The idea of being filled with the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in tongues is a belief system developed at the beginning of the last century (the 1900s). It is the “cardinal” doctrine of such denominational bodies like the Assemblies of God.
I have written about this in my Spiritual Gifts booklet called Spiritual Gifts for Boneheads. The following is an excerpt:
Tongues, Kinds of (gene glosson): 1 Cor. 12.10, 28
[A working definition of tongues is:]The supernatural speaking in a language not learned by the speaker. It is spoken to God in a public gathering and needs to be accompanied by the Gift of Interpretation for the edification of the group.
Interpretation of Tongues (ermeneia glosson): 1 Cor. 12.10, 30
[A working definition of tongues is:] The supernatural ability to say in the listener’s language what has been spoken to God with the Gift of Tongues resulting in the edification of the group.
Remember, Paul and Luke were partners on their church planting missions. Both of these New Testament authors write about tongues. First Corinthians comes from the pen of Paul and Acts comes from the pen of Luke. The following is some basic information about these two writers.
Luke was a theologian and is often called the theologian of the Holy Spirit. Part two of Luke’s writings, the Book of Acts, is theological history. It is not a history as we understand history, to provide a document of facts about the past. It is a history with a theological purpose in which not everything that happened to the early church is recorded. Paul was also a theological writer. He wrote to a historical situation concerning tongues in 1 Corinthians. He wrote 1 Corinthians before Luke wrote Acts, and, therefore, it has priority. It is very probable that Luke was influenced by Paul.
Some similarities between Luke and Paul are:

  • Tongues originated with the Spirit (Acts 2.4; 1 Cor. 12.8, 14.2)
  • The same term (latein glossai) is used by both authors for speaking in tongues (Acts 10.46; 19.1-6; 1 Cor. 12-14).
  • When one speaks in tongues before unbelievers, the result may lead to accusations (Acts 2.5ff.; 1 Cor. 14.23ff.).
  • Speaking in tongues is directed toward God (Acts 2.11; 10.46; 1 Cor. 14.2; 14-17).
  • Prophecy and tongues are different (Acts 19.6; 1 Cor. 12).
  • Unity and diversity can be seen (Acts 2.2-4; 1 Cor. 12.14-26).
  • Both Paul and Luke see the Spirit as the source of power to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Acts 1.8; 1 Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4.11).
    There are some ideas, which are only Luke’s:
  • The first record of speaking in tongues occurs in Acts at the birth of the Church (Acts 2.4).
  • It is surrounded by symbolic language (Acts 2.2-3: sound like the wind; tongues like fire).

There are some ideas, which are only Paul’s:

  • These gifts are temporary; when Jesus returns they will cease to operate (1 Cor. 13.8).
  • Tongues need to be lubricated with love (according to my mentor and friend Russ Spittler) (1 Cor. 13).

According to 1 Corinthians, the purposes of tongues are:

  • A means of supernaturally inspired communication to God (14.2).
  • Edification of the speaker, even if others are not edified (14.4).
  • To bring edification to the Body. When tongues are properly interpreted, edification is the result. (Tongues plus interpretation equals prophecy in edification value: 14.5).
  • To serve as a sign to the unbeliever (14.22). In this passage, Paul used a first-century hermeneutic (a way to interpret) to say that tongues improperly used (i.e., without interpretation) should be understood as a judgment for the unbeliever who would leave the meeting of the church and possibly never return because he believed that those practicing such activities were mad (v. 23). By leaving and never returning, they judge themselves by not making available the life of the Spirit to bring them new birth.

Tongues
Paul is clear that tongues can be utilized in private to pray and sing to God. In this case, there is no need for interpretation, because no one is there to hear except the speaker (14.14-15).
Praying in Tongues is sometimes called Praying in the Spirit in today’s church. The curious question to ask is: Did Jesus pray in the Spirit, i.e., pray in tongues? There is no clear evidence in the Gospels to support the theorization that Jesus spoke in tongues. However, there are some places, which sug-gest the possibility. In the story in Mark 7.34, Jesus is working a miracle. The text declares that Jesus gave a deep sigh. In 8.12, Mark records that he sighed deeply. The word, which translates sigh, is the same word as groan in Romans 8.22-23, 26. The word was a technical term in the Hellenistic world of the day for prayer that did not involve the mind but was caused by a spirit.
In the first reference, the term sighing (stenazein) is used along with the word ephata. Ephata was an expression in a strange language, which, according to numerous parallels in the Hellenistic world, was often used in connection with healing the sick and casting out demons. These are not conclusive to say that Jesus spoke in tongues but should give our thinking some elasticity.
Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 14.15 that there is a kind of charismatic music, which includes singing in tongues, which he calls with the spirit and singing with intelligible words, which he calls with the mind. The singing, which is referred to happened spontaneously when the church came together. This spontaneous singing mentioned is found in public use in 14.26. This passage may have a parallel in Ephesians 5.19 and Colossians 3.16. In these passages, Paul wrote about three forums of singing: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. In these passages, he may have had in mind what today is called singing in the Spirit.
This conclusion can be drawn from two factors:

  1. Being continually filled with the Spirit is the context of this passage. Paul contrasts the impulse of the Spirit to what occurs when the stimulus is wine.
  2. Both passages use the word spiritual to characterize that the music is prompted by the Spirit. The text is not clear and may not be referring to three different kinds of music mentioned. The word spiritual is an adjective and could probably be translated as psalms, hymns, and songs, which the Spirit inspires. Dunn points out that even if the word spiritual belongs to songs, the distinction between psalms and hymns and spiritual songs is not between established liturgical forms and spontaneous songs. It would be a contrast between spontaneous singing of intelligible words and spontaneous singing in tongues (Dunn. Jesus and the Spirit. 238-289).

Interpretation of Tongues

Every coin has two sides. The last four gifts in this small list have two sides. Prophecy should be accompanied with discernings of spirits and tongues must be accompanied with the interpretation of tongues. So closely are they connected in the mind of Paul that one is not thought about without the other when the church comes together (1 Cor. 14.5, 23, 27ff.). As with all of the gracelets, these two gifts are for the common good of the church when it comes together (1 Cor. 12.7). When glossolalia is a gracelet, it is a service to the church and is completed by its companion, interpretation.
The following information should be noted about this gracelet:

  • It is not an independent gift; it is used as the completion of the gracelet of tongues (1 Cor. 12.10).
  • It provides edification for the believer when the church comes together and the gracelet of tongues is spoken. It causes the unlearned to understand (1 Cor. 14.5).
  • When the gift of tongues is spoken in a public service of the church gathered, believers should pray to interpret (1 Cor. 14.13). Here is an overlooked stipulation of the use of these gifts: if there is no one present to interpret and the one speaking in tongues has not interpret-ed, he should keep silent and speak to himself and to God (1 Cor. 14.28).
  • This gracelet is not a natural talent to translate another language into the language of the hearer; it is a supernatural enabling.
  • Together both of these gifts should be operative with order (1 Cor. 14.37-40).

Remember, the God of the Bible is a speaking God. He loves to speak to us and through us. The result of the speaking gifts is to be built-up in the church. Don’t resist the opportunity to let the God of the universe speak through you.[14]

Question: Where can I find the Story of the Prodigal Son?
I’m looking to find the story of the “Protocol Son” (Prodigal). A son who wants his father’s inheritance before his father dies. After getting it and spending it, he comes back to his father as a slave. Where can I find this story at?
BEGINNING ANSWER
The story of the often called Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-32). One might notice that the word prodigal does not appear in the text. The story is misnamed. The story is about the Father who is “rashly or wastefully extravagant,” not the son. The story should be named “The Extravagant Father.” See AskDrWinn eBook Resource page for more resources. AskDrWinn eBook Resources

Question: What sin was repented of to obey the Acts 2:38 command?
BEGINNING ANSWER
The text of Acts 2.38 reads: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
The call for repentance was a common call for the Jews to heed. The word “repent” meant to turn around form what you were doing and move back toward God. It meant to give up the way you thought you could get to God and follow a different way. It was not a specific “sin” that Peter or Luke, the writer of Acts, had in mind.

Question: How does John 15.7 apply to the reader of Scripture today?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Again Barclay’s Commentary series has a great historical background for this question.
One of the ways for you to interact with this material is the following. Open a browser and key in books.google.com. In the search box, put the ISBN number: 9780664224905 and press Search Books. This should take you to a page for Barclay’s Gospel of John: Volume 2. (It reads Volume 1, but it is really volume 2). Click on the link. The next window should be a display of the book. In the search box (left side of the window), enter the text “I am the real vine and my Father” and press Go. This will take you to a small list, click on the first one (Page 200) and you will be at the section that reads: “The Vine and the Branches.” Read pages 200-205).
http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=42&ch=15
Barclay, William. “Commentary on John 15:1”. “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible”. “http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=42&ch=15”. 1956-1959
For Show Notes
Chapter 15
THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES (John 15:1-10)
15:1-10 “I am the real vine and my Father is the vine-dresser. He destroys every branch in me which does not bear fruit; and he cleanses every branch which does bear fruit, so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean through the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me even as I abide in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit in its own strength, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The man who abides in me, and in whom I abide, bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he will be cast out like a withered branch. And they gather such branches and throw them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what you will, and it will be given to you. It is by the fact that you bear much fruit, and that you show yourselves to be my disciples, that my Father is glorified. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. As I have kept my Father’s commandments, so I abide in his love.”
Jesus, as so often, is working in this passage with pictures and ideas which were part of the religious heritage of the Jewish nation. Over and over again in the Old Testament, Israel is pictured as the vine or the vineyard of God. “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel” (Isaiah 5:1-7). “Yet I planted you a choice vine” is God’s message to Israel through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:21). Ezekiel 15:1-8 likens Israel to the vine, as does Ezekiel 19:10. “Israel is a luxuriant vine,” said Hosea (Hosea 10:1). “Thou didst bring a vine out of Egypt,” sang the Psalmist, thinking of God’s deliverance of his people from bondage (Psalms 80:8). The vine had actually become the symbol of the nation of Israel. It was the emblem on the coins of the Macca-bees. One of the glories of the Temple was the great golden vine upon the front of the Holy Place. Many a great man had counted it an honor to give gold to mold a new bunch of grapes or even a new grape on to that vine. The vine was part and parcel of Jewish imagery and the very symbol of Israel.
Jesus calls himself the true vine. The point of that word alethinos (Greek #228), true, real, genuine, is this. It is a curious fact that the symbol of the vine is never used in the Old Testament apart from the idea of de-generation. The point of Isaiah’s picture is that the vineyard has run wild. Jeremiah complains that the nation has turned into “degenerate and become a wild vine.” It is as if Jesus said: “You think that because you belong to the nation of Israel you are a branch of the true vine of God. But the nation it is; a degenerate vine, as all your prophets saw. It is I who am the true vine. The fact that you are a Jew will not save you. The only thing that can save you is to have an intimate living fellowship with me, for I am the vine of God and you must be branched joined to me.” Jesus was laying it down that not Jewish blood but faith in him was the way to God’s salvation. No external qualification can set a man right with God; only the friendship of Jesus Christ can do that.
THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES (John 15:1-10 continued)
When Jesus drew his picture of the vine he knew what he was talking about. The vine was grown all over Palestine as it still is. It is a plant that needs a great deal of attention if the best fruit is to be got out of it. It is grown commonly on terraces. The ground has to be perfectly clean. It is sometimes trained on trellises; it is sometimes allowed to creep over the ground upheld by low forked sticks; it sometimes even grows round the doors of the cottages; but wherever it grows careful preparation of the soil is essential. It grows luxuriantly and drastic pruning is necessary. So luxuriant is it that the slips are set in the ground at least twelve feet apart, for it will creep over the ground at speed. A young vine is not allowed to fruit for the first three years and each year is cut drastically back to develop and conserve its life and energy. When mature, it is pruned in December and January. It bears two kinds of branches, one that bears fruit and one that does not; and the branches that do not bear fruit are drastically pruned back so that they will drain away none of the plant’s strength. The vine can not produce the crop of which it is capable without drastic pruning–and Jesus knew that.
Further, the wood of the vine has the curious characteristic that it is good for nothing. It is too soft for any purpose. At certain times of the year, it was laid down by the law, the people must bring offerings of wood to the Temple for the altar fires. But the wood of the vine must not be brought. The only thing that could be done with the wood pruned out of a vine was to make a bonfire of it and destroy it. This adds to the picture Jesus draws.
He says that his followers are like that. Some of them are lovely fruit-bearing branches of himself; others are useless because they bear no fruit. Who was Jesus thinking of when he spoke of the fruitless branches? There are two answers. First, he was thinking of the Jews. They were branches of God’s vine. Was not that the picture that prophet after the prophet had drawn? But they refused to listen to him; they refused to accept him; therefore they were withered and useless branches. Second, he was thinking of something more general. He was thinking of Christians whose Christianity consisted of the profession without practice, words with-out deeds; he was thinking of Christians who were useless branches, all leaves and no fruit. And he was thinking of Christians who became apostates, who heard the message and accepted it and then fell away, becoming traitors to the Master they had once pledged themselves to serve.
So then there are three ways in which we can be useless branches. We can refuse to listen to Jesus Christ at all. We can listen to him, and then render him a lip service unsupported by any deeds. We can accept him as Master, and then, in face of the difficulties of the way or the desire to do as we like, abandon him. One thing we must remember. It is the first principle of the New Testament that uselessness invites disaster. The fruitless branch is on the way to destruction.

5 ???? corrected to here

THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES (John 15:1-10 continued)
In this passage, there is much about abiding in Christ. What is meant by that? It is true that there is a mystical sense in which the Christian is in Christ and Christ is in the Christian. But there are many–maybe they are in the majority–who never have this mystical experience. If we are like that, we must not blame ourselves. There is a much simpler way of looking at this and of experiencing it, a way open to anyone.
Let us take a human analogy. All analogies are imperfect but we must work with the ideas which we possess. Suppose a person is weak. He has fallen to temptation; he has made a mess of things; he is on the way down to degeneracy of mind and heart and mental fiber. Now suppose that he has a friend of a strong and lovely and loving nature, who rescues him from his degraded situation. There is only one way in which he can retain his reformation and keep himself on the right way. He must keep in contact with his friend If he loses that contact; all the chances are that his weakness will overcome him; the old temptations will rear their heads again, and he will fall. His salvation lies in continual contact with the strength of his friend.
Many a time a down-and-out has been taken to live with someone fine. So long as he continued in that fine home and that fine presence he was safe. But when he kicked over the traces and went off on his own, he fell. We must keep in contact with the fine thing in order to defeat the evil thing. Robertson of Brighton was one of the great preachers. There was a tradesman who had a little shop; in the back room, he kept a photograph of Robertson, for he was his hero and his inspiration. Whenever he was tempted to carry out a bit of sharp practice, he would rush into the back room and look at the photograph, and the temptation was de-feated. When Kingsley was asked the secret of his life, referring to F. D. Maurice he said: “I had a friend.” The contact with loveliness made him lovely.
Abiding in Christ means something like that. The secret of the life of Jesus was his contact with God; again and again, he withdrew into a solitary place to meet him. We must keep in contact with Jesus. We cannot do that unless we deliberately take steps to do it. To take but one example–to pray in the morning, if it be for only a few moments, is to have an antiseptic for the whole day; for we cannot come out of the presence of Christ to touch the evil things. For some few of us, abiding in Christ will be a mystical experience that is beyond words to express. For most of us, it will mean constant contact with him. It will mean arranging life, arranging prayer, arranging silence in such a way that there is never a day when we give ourselves a chance to forget him.
Finally, we must note that here there are two things laid down about the good disciple. First, he enriches his own life; his contact makes him a fruitful branch. Second, he brings glory to God; the sight of his life turns men’s thoughts to the God who made him like that. God is glorified when we bear much fruit and show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus. The greatest glory of the Christian life is that by our life and conduct we can bring glory to God

The John 15.7 passage is in the context of abiding. Prayer that is effective is based on the one who is praying, abiding in Jesus so that the words and works of Jesus control the minds in such a way that we pray in conformity to the will of God. We can ask for anything that is in the will of God for us and he is faithful to answer. The Contemporary English Version gives us this translation of 15.7: Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered. The emphasis of the passage is on staying joined with Jesus, i.e., living in his story, not on asking and receiving. The asking and receiving are conditioned by staying joined with Jesus. What we think maybe his will may not. What God wants is not always in line with what we want. The story of the blind man that Jesus healed is an example that things happen in life so that God gets the glory that he determines will best suit his overall plan for the redemption of the world. To heal or not to heal is his prerogative and not our ability to muster enough faith or belief to control his choices. We must remember that Christianity is about our worshiping God so that we can get from him some answer to make our life easier. It is all about him, not about us.
As long as we live in this Present Evil Age, it is our job to continue to live out the Rule (Kingdom) of God into it. The war over healing has already been won in the event of the life of Jesus (birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension). However, as we remain here between the ages (the kingdom come and coming) we will suffer losses and even lose battles. But sitting in heaven, (Rev. 4) is God on his throne, victor overall circumstances. What often appears to us as defeat is so that God can work good for his eternal purposes and calls us to our knees to sing with the angels in heaven:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will, they were created
and have their being.”

Question: Do deacons have to be male 1 Tim. 3.12?
In 1 Tim. 3.12, Paul writes, “Let the deacon be the husband of one wife….” This will lead some to believe and teach that Paul is saying that a deacon has to be a man, and cannot be a woman. What do you believe?
BEGINNING ANSWER
A short answer would be that the problem Paul was trying to get Tim to solve in the Ephesian church centered around men who were deacons having more than one wife, not women who were deacons having more than one husband.
The local context, the author’s intent, and the listener’s ability to understand, all control the meaning of the text. The text can only mean what it first meant. As you know, verses are useless for anything but finding some bit of content and quoted as proof texts, they are downright dangerous.

Question: How does Hebrews 6 apply to us today?
BEGINNING ANSWER
In the midst of the author’s exposition about the high priesthood of Jesus, he interrupts one exhortation to begin another exhortation (5.11-6.8). This section begins with a rebuke, which is rather severe. The author wants to say more about the priesthood of Jesus (5.11-12) but needs to prepare his audience to be able to understand and appreciate what he has to say to them. These Jewish believers were content with what they had learned and were ready to settle for the status quo. To progress further would be to place a greater distance between them and their Jewish roots for which they were already suffering. For the writer, spiritual stagnation is dangerous. We grow and we are fed solid food as we are taught and we are protected by spiritual and ethical discernment.
For these Jewish believers, the process of digestion was going to be painful. Each of the elementary teachings (the ABCs: 6.1-2) had a place in Judaism but had been invested with new significance in Christian teaching. The author was not going to go over these truths again. Rather, what he had in mind was the error that sought to lure them away from the faith and back to their Jewish roots. One cannot discard the basics even though they may not be all-sufficient. It is important to understand that believers need to cultivate their spiritual life by being continually fed. Knowledge often leads to deeper faith. He was ready to take them into a deeper understanding of their Christian experience.
There is a solution to their problem. He urged his audience to go beyond the elementary teaching about Jesus and go on to maturity. To continually review the fundamentals is to remain where one is, kind of like being a perpetual child.
All the matters listed in 6.1-2 were in fact the elementary truths on which the believers were wavering. Verse 3 tells his readers that pressing forward toward maturity is his intended goal as God per-mitted.
There is an alternative to progress. It is tragic. Choosing not to advance was in fact a retreat that held a gloomy result.
There are four ways this passage has been handled by interpreters. 1) A believer can be in danger of losing his salvation. This is often refuted because of other biblical assurances that salvation is a work of God that cannot be reversed; 2) The warning is against only a profession of faith which fell short of “real salvation,” tasting but not partaking of salvation. (This view is seen in the New Scofield Reference Bible) 3) A warning that a believer could lose his salvation in which case there is no provision for further repentance (This view is seen in the Ryrie Study Bible); 4) This is a warning given of the danger of a Christian moving from a position of the true faith and life to the extent of becoming disqualified for further service in the church.
We must remember that the background of Hebrews was the persecution of those Jewish people who had chosen to follow Jesus over against Judaism. In any such time, apostasy is the supreme sin. When a man can save himself by denying Jesus, it is a hard blow to the church because this person has counted his life and person more valuable than the life of Jesus and his church. This is the condemnation of a person who loves his own comfort of life more than he loves Jesus. It was not the author’s intent to erect a doctrine that there is no forgiveness of post-baptismal sin. What is meant to be understood by those first hearers was the terrible seriousness of choosing personal existence in-stead of loyalty to Jesus.
In that light, this may be possible that some who live in our culture may often choose the pleasant-ness of their comfortable lifestyle over the claims of Jesus on their lifestyle. What we might ask ourselves is what are we doing in our lifestyle that suggests to those looking on and wondering about Christianity about who we are really loyal to? Finally, in a similar time and space of persecution in which you could be called to forfeit your own life, which would you choose? To know, one should continue reading the rest of Hebrews to see what one needs to know and give him or herself to in order to make the correct choice if that proposition should ever arise in our culture. On a lesser note, it can arise in our relationship with our employers, family, politics, etc. Will we have the integrity to stand unwaveringly against the things we know are wrong and harmful; to do that, we may be called to do so in our jobs, etc? Or, will we turn the other direction, choosing to keep the comforts of life and denounce our loyalty to Jesus?

Question: Will Christians be raptured?
Will Christians be raptured after three and one-half years into the great tribulation…what does the Nazarene church believe?
BEGINNING ANSWER
There are several beliefs about the rapture of the church. The most popular one (The Left Behind Series) is a theological product that came from England in the middle 1800s. It is not a historic belief of the church. This group takes the position that there are two parts to Jesus’ second coming. Part A to rapture the church *before* the tribulation* and Part B the second coming. There are not many current scholars who support a mid-tribulation rapture of the church. However, I do not find the arguments for this position nor the fiction of The Left Behind Series persuasive.
As for what the Nazarene church believes, I found this on their web site under their Articles of Be-lief. These are the beliefs Nazarenes hold to be true: Nazarene Beliefs
We believe in one God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.
We believe that man is born with a fallen nature, and is, therefore, inclined to evil, and that continually.
We believe that the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.
We believe that the atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race, and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.
We believe that believers are to be sanctified wholly, subsequent to regeneration, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire sanctification of believers.
We believe that our Lord will return, the dead will be raised, and the final judgment will take place.
When I originally wrote this answer, the Nazarene website had the following:

♦ XV. Second Coming of Christ

♦19. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again; that we who are alive at His coming shall not precede them that are asleep in Christ Jesus; but that, if we are abiding in Him, we shall be caught up with the risen saints to meet the Lord in the air, so that we shall ever be with the Lord. (Matthew 25:31-46; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 9:26-28; 2 Peter 3:3-15; Revelation 1:7-8; 22:7-20)
I am sure that there are varied beliefs about the tribulation within the Nazarene church as there are in all other denominations.
You can read both sides of the subject in two older books (easy to read), which will give you enough material to make a clear decision for yourself:
The Blessed Hope[15] by George Ladd and The Rapture Question[16] by John Walvoord

Theology
The material in this section is generally centered around questions that have a general theological concert in them. There is some grouping as to subject matter.

Question: How was Satan thrown out of heaven?
In the Bible, does it ever describe how Satan (Lucifer) was thrown out of heaven? If yes, where? If no, how did this theory come about?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Some have taken two passages from the Old Testament (Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14) as describing the fall of Satan. There is no agreement among scholars about the interpretation of these passages. Some believe that Satan fell before creation. Some believe that he fell at the story in Genesis 6.1-4. Others believe that he fell in the Intertestamental Period, now often called Second Temple Judaism, the period of about 400 years between the last prophet of the Old Testament period and the beginning of the New Testament story.
A Small Digression: The Serpent
Let’s take a small digression from the text and take a look at the concept of the serpent. The word “satan” is used in many ways in the Hebrew Bible. The term refers to:

  • To the angel of the Lord who may be an adversary (Numbers 22.22, 32)
  • To another person who may function as an adversary (1 Sam. 29.4; 2 Sam. 19.22; 1 Kings 5.4; 11.14, 23, 25; Psalm 109.8).
  • Finally, to an angel in the angelic host as seen in the book of Job.

The word “satan” appears eighteen times in the Hebrew Bible. Out of the eighteen, fourteen times it appears in Job chapters one and two. We should note with interest that in all but one of these eighteen times that “satan” appears (the exception is 1 Chronicles 21.1), the article is attached to the word and it reads “the satan.” This form indicates that it is a title, not a personal name. The term “satan” does not describe “who” but “what.” The term is not a proper name. We must carefully understand that in the ancient world not having a name was to be reduced to nonexistence.
Genesis 3 reveals that the serpent was one of the creatures that the Creator God created. The serpent was not eternal or divine. The storyteller reveals that this creature was “more subtle” than any other animal. This is not a disparaging term. As a matter of fact, the word, which is translated “subtle” for us, is used in Proverbs several times (12.16, 23, 13.16, 14.8, 15; 18; 22.3) and is translated “the prudent [one, person, man]. This prudent one is contrasted with the “fool.” Elsewhere the word is translated as “crafty” which is something that God dislikes (Job 5.12, 15.5). In this story, the storyteller only speaks of the serpent’s destiny (Genesis 3.14-15).
Explanations abound about who the serpent was. Some believe that it was a mythological character that had magical powers. Others think that the serpent was a symbol of human curiosity. Still, others believe that the serpent was a symbol of some ancient fertility cult. Some see the serpent as symbol of chaos or evil. Some believe that the voice of the serpent is only the voice of the “inner person.” Among Christian and Jewish interpreters, the serpent is often identified as Satan’s instrument. Luther, as an example, believed that “the devil was permitted to enter the beast, as he here entered the serpent. There is no doubt that it was a real serpent in which Satan was and in which he conversed with Eve.”[17] The word “serpent” is the general term for the snake. The reptile played a significant role in the ancient world. It was an object of reverence and worship. Serpents are found in ancient myths and represent life, recurring youth, death, chaos, and wisdom. Scripture also possesses the same association for the serpent (the rejuvenating effects of the bronze serpent in the wilderness, Numbers 21.9 is an example).
In the ancient world’s Epic of Gilgamesh, the serpent was perceived as the opponent of humankind. Gilgamesh searched for the famed survivor of the flood, the immortal Utnapishtim so that he could learn how he might obtain eternal life. Utnapishtim revealed to Gilgamesh a secret known only to him and the gods. There was a plant in the deepest part of the sea that could rejuvenate one’s life. Gilgamesh obtained the plant and named it “Man Becomes Young in Old Age.” However, the plant was stolen by a serpent, who carried it off and shed its own skin (a process of rejuvenation).
In the community that God was creating in the wilderness, the snake was classified as an unclean animal because of its movement on the ground (Lev. 11.41-45). Serpents were associated with the judgment of God for Israel’s complaints against God in the wilderness (venomous snakes, Numbers 21.6) as well as being the source of rejuvenation.
So is the serpent in the Garden story Satan? Most likely not, or at least not for the teller of the story.[18]

Question: Sexual Evangelism?
If you are witnessing to someone and they start having sex with someone else while you’re witnessing to them, should you keep witnessing to them? I’m not joking, I’m serious.
BEGINNING ANSWER
I’ve heard of friendship evangelism, off-the-map evangelism, power evangelism, presence evangelism, and maybe a few more. But, I don’t think I have ever put sex and evangelism together or for that matter is seen anyone else put them together either. But, according to this question, there is a new category: Sexual Evangelism, or How to Sleep Your Way into Salvation.
I would say that following Joseph’s strategy with Potiphar’s wife in Genesis would be a great solution to this problem this question asks. I think the category of evangelism found in this question falls outside the Story of God that followers of Jesus should be living in.

Question: (and COMMENTARY) Can a wife withhold sex from her husband?
Can you please show me where in the Bible [where] God tells a wife it’s OK to withhold sex from her husband? I know that a husband should do Eph 5:25, does it say that if he doesn’t at all times it’s OK for his wife to withhold sex? When I’m doing Eph. 5:25 and my wife still withholds sex, it’s hard to continue with Eph. 5:25. I do still try, but I am only human and I am here in the flesh.
I have found that sex within marriage is not a negotiable thing. God says a husband and wife should satisfy each other’s sexual needs, (1 Corinthians 7.3). And not withhold sex except when both agree and for a time to pray and then resume their normal sexual relations with each other, and this should not be on a regular basis.
However, if you cannot control your desires, you should get married. It is better for you to marry than to burn with sexual desire. (1 Corinthians 7.9).
I am married and still burn with sexual desire when my wife withholds. Did I miss something in God’s word or am I just stupid?
BEGINNING ANSWER
First, let me say that I have no reason to think that you are stupid!
Ephesians 5.25 does not have a sexual context. There is nothing in the text that speaks about the subject of sex.
Second, the 1 Corinthians passage (7.9) does speak about marriage partners withholding sex during a specific time devoted to prayer, but then they should come back together. This passage is a correction to those in the church at Corinth who may have thought that once they had become Spirit-filled they no longer had to involve themselves with mundane human stuff like sex. Paul writes to correct them. I don’t think that Paul is saying that every day that you are going to pray those mates should abstain from sexual intercourse.
As a pastor for many years, I know that sexual problems within marriage are only a sign of deeper marriage problems. You might suggest that you both talk about what might be causing your wife’s response (remember, I am only hearing one side of the story here). Problems within marriage are usually not one-sided and there is usually fault on both sides.
If you cannot talk about it in private between each other, you might want to seek professional help.
Comment (from blog ????)
Another useless answer for those seeking help…I have been there done that, seen professional help, it’s all useless after awhile the wife will just say she is not doing what the professional help suggest-ed. She is determined it’s over, as she is filled with HATE for her husband, he can be a very good man, and God-fearing, and truly love his wife. And yet she will treat him in this way. Preachers mostly have wives that love them and they never have to go years without sex, while having a woman in the house. It’s terrible stress for the man, living with desires that will never be met, sex, love, romance, a touch, a soft word…all he gets is hate and discord. I was married 19 years and year 2 started off and fast went to a no sex marriage. I stayed as long as I could as the marriage got worse, she would hurt me in the house to come and bitch me out, I built me a room in the basement to get away from her, she would then come down there screaming at me. She screamed at me up-stairs, She screamed and hated me so much, I was truly surprised after my divorce when I could see more clearly her total hatred for me. I then could begin to stop loving her. I wished I left sooner for my son’s sake.
Response

Jack, thanks for your response. Sorry, you think it was useless. From your response, it sounds like a horrible place to be in. However, as I said in the original answer to the post, you are only presenting “your” picture of what happened. There are always two sides to every complaint. Thanks for sharing yours.
Comment

The male sex drive is a gift from God. Clearly, the only legitimate place a man can direct his sex drive is with his wife. It’s very clear in Corinthians what the rules are… In many cases, we see women withholding sex from their husbands because they are mad at them for struggling with temptation or sin. God says Women need to respect (affirm) their husbands, and men need to love their wives like God loves the church; it must work both ways. But when a man is trying, I believe the wife needs to stop using sex as a penalty, all it does is crush his self-image. Men put a very high value on their ability to please their wife through the gift of sex and when the wife says no, the reject-ed man hears “you can’t please me” or ” I don’t want you.” No wonder sex eventually turns into a routine. Fearing rejection, the husband shows no romance, puts his head down, and charges the bed hoping he can convince his wife to participate. If he is persistent, she may say” no” a few times and gives in but says something like “do we have to do this every night?” (that’s not love or respect on either part.)…. could this be why God said “The wife hath not the power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not the power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it, be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempts you not for your incontinency.” I believe a lot of problems would be resolved if more wives observed this scripture, however (men need to do their part, too, and it won’t work without love.) Maybe husbands and wives could benefit from the communication that takes place during sex; it may be the most productive time they spend together during times of trouble and times of peace.
Response
It surely is true that withholding sex from a partner can be painful. But, it is a two-way street. When men complain, it is usually directed at the wife, but the opposite is also true, women could and sometimes do complain and that is directed at the husband. It is difficult in this kind of forum to hear both voices. If this is male writing, don’t know by the initials provided, but seemingly from the tone of the post it is, then you might want to ask the question of your wife, to find out what you are doing wrong that causes this dysfunction to occur. So, when the wife uses withholding sex as a penalty, what does the husband withhold or what has the husband withheld from the wife? As I said in the original post, there are always two sides to the story.
Comment

It’s pretty much all the same, before marriage the women will do anything and act exactly perfectly. After marriage, especially after children, the hook is there, then starts the non-essential sex or just get it over, pretend. We’ve been married for forty-three years and this is the hardest part. I talked, explained, prayed for help, none of these lasted for more than a couple of days. It kills men of faith to go through these times, because of the strong drive God gave to them. Women and I’m convinced most of them are the same way, become such do-gooders and of course that no one could condemn them, it’s always the poor stupid man’s non-affectionate and ineptness that is the real cause to them. Society stands firm; it must be the man’s lacking somewhere. Somehow the words in Ephesians and Corinthians seem void to most women. But yet as a man, we are to stay the course, without blemish this is torture. And I agree with some of the other men – Dr. Winn, you are not listening – We have been to psychologists – they will always take the side of the good-looking women- so sweet!
Response

7 ???? edited to here

First, I’m not sure of what I’m not “listening” to you means.
You write, … “before marriage, the women will do anything and act exactly perfect.” I find that to be the case for both men and women when they are courting, not just the woman. As I said in a previous post, there are two sides to every story about sexual malfunction within a marriage. It is never one-sided. Because I don’t know your wife’s side of the story and am only hearing yours, which seems to be painful for you, I can’t take aside. While you may think that the “words in Ephesians and Corinthians seem void to most women,” it is just as possible that most men might not understand what Paul is saying as well. I trust that you figure a way to resolve your sexual issues with your wife. I really do!
Comment

I have only been married for 3 years. My libido is higher than my husband’s, so I have had to control it, however, when we do make love my husband does not follow thru and satisfy my desires after they are met. I have tried to explain what to do to help him, but he declares I am just fussing at him. I wrote him letters, made his favorite dinner, gave him backrubs, tried all the things he has asked for. I am at the point that when he is ready, is it him or me withholding from the other? I want to bring this to this blog. It is hard for me to have terrible feelings and be forgiving. I am trying to not look at what he is doing wrong but to look at myself and I keep trying new things that he asks for and try over long periods of time to listen to what his concerns are and respect them. It is the toughest part of my life because it feels like rejection when It does not seem to get the results I need, but for some reason, I know God is telling me to do them willingly and without getting anything in return. Maybe one day whatever baggage I harbor that makes what he does feel like rejection or what he feels I do makes him feel like I am nagging will be answered in seeking answers in all aspects of the Bible. That may be why prayer is so important. Either way believes that God will answer our pain and sorrow in the time we will be open in our hearts to receive it. Forgiveness is one of the toughest things, especially when we are so close to someone we feel has hurt us. But if he puts a crown of thorns on me, or my son whips me and tears off my skin, cuts my side with a sword, drives nails in my hands and feet and puts me on a cross to die, can I forgive? I am supposed to. I am pretty sure if I continue to look at it that way, these hurtful feelings I have will eventually find their perspective, but because I am human, it doesn’t mean it is easy to do the right thing. The stupid devil in my closet makes my life a living hell; he always makes doing the wrong thing look so easy for the moment and then I realize the moment is fleeting, and wrong moments turn into baggage I will carry with me.
Response

Usually, most problems in a marriage concerning sex occur because of no information or bogus information. Maybe a good place to start is by gathering some information that you and your husband can listen to together to open up a channel of communication between you about the problem you are sharing. In light of this, here is a set of materials that you might listen to along with your husband. See AskDrWinn eBook Resources. AskDrWinn eBook Resources

Question: What about a church board member “living with” his fiancée?
Is it okay to have a Christian, who is living with his fiancée, to partake as a church decision-board member? The knowledge about his living condition was found out after he was selected to be a board member.
BEGINNING ANSWER
If you mean “living with his fiancée” as a euphemism for sexual immorality, then there is some clear teaching in 1 Corinthians 5 about such. If “living with his fiancée” means “renting a room,” then that is something else. I am not trying to be coy, but the meaning of words is important. The sexual standard in Scripture is the same for everyone, clergy, leader, or laity. There is no one standard for one group and another for another. These problems arise in the church because we are all fallen creatures, living from time to time outside the Story of God. There really is not enough information provided for me to give a precise answer.

Question: Is it wrong to remarry…?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Is it wrong to remarry while your spouse is still alive? It says that if a man leaves his wife he causes her to become an adulterer. It also says that there may be legitimate reasons to leave your spouse, but it doesn’t mention remarriage while that spouse is still living.
Two passages come to mind. The first is Matthew 5.31-32 and the other is 1 Corinthians 7.12-16.
Matthew 5.31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulterous, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. (NIV)
Barclay has a wonderful historical look at the background of this passage. One of the ways for you to interact with this material is the following. Open a browser and key in books.google.com. In the search box put the ISBN number: 0664224911 and press Search Books. This should take you to a page for Barclay’s Gospel of Matthew 1-10. Click on the link. The next window should be a display of the book. In the search box (left side of the window) put the text “Let every man who divorces his wife” and press Go. This will make you a small list, click on the first one (Page 173) and you will be at the section that reads: “The Bond Which Must Not Be Broken.” Read sections 1 and 2 which go to page 179.
1 Corinthians 7:12-16 (New International Version)
12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
A stronger case may be made for translating “unbeliever” as “unfaithful” in the 1 Corinthian 7 pas-sage. If unfaithful to one’s spouse, it allows divorce in the case of adultery. It does advise reconciliation in such cases, but clearly states that the spouse is free to remarry if the unfaithful one leaves (divorces). This may be the understanding of the phrase: “A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances.” We may presume that a divorce would be obtained and the marriage legally ended.

Question: What about premarital sex?
What does the Bible say about premarital sex? What did Jesus say?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Jesus speaks of a list of humankind’s habits of life in which sexual immorality is mentioned. The term “sexual immorality” is the word fornication and means “sexual intercourse” outside of the marriage relationship. Jesus’ list can be seen in the Gospel of Mark at 7.20-23.
In the New Testament book of Galatians written by Paul, he also writes a list of humankind’s habits of life, which are not pleasing to God. They are called the “works of the flesh.” (Gal. 5.19-21) The first three “works” and the last one comment on sexuality.
SEXUAL SINS

  • Sexual immorality: Sexual intercourse outside the marriage relationship (Illustration: 1 Cor. 5.1ff). Intercourse outside marriage breaks down the stability of a family. The word “adultery” found in the KJV does not appear in reliable manuscripts.
  • Impurity: The general word for immoral activity that shuts a person off from God’s presence. The opposite lifestyle is found in Matthew 5.8 where Jesus says that God will bless those who have a pure heart. One could translate “pure in heart” as “with no ulterior motives. Those empowered people will have continued fellowship with God. It is fair to say that our motives should be adjusted to God’s motives. This is a change of Story, for the story we live into God’s Story.
  • Debauchery: This means a lack of restraint. A love for sin is so reckless that the one sinning has ceased to care what God or man thinks of his/her actions. No attempt is made to hide the sin; it is committed in the open (1 Pet. 4.3; Jude 4). Debauchery shocks public civility. It does not care what God or people think.
  • Orgies: Sexual orgies were characteristic of pagan worship.

I trust this answer will help in your ongoing discovery process.

Question: What about sex before marriage?
Where in the Bible does it say that it is a sin to have sex before marriage?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Sex is an important part of life. It should not come as any surprise that sex attracts a lot of interest and raises many questions. Your question suggests that there might be a verse somewhere in Scripture that answers the question. Scripture, however, is not a list of rules and regulations, but a story about the love of a Creator God who has the best in mind for his creation.
The common word for sex before marriage in the NT is porneia. It occurs 26 times in the NT and is translated by different English words in different translations (fornication in the KJV and sexual immorality in the NIV). Its usual meaning is to participate in sexual intercourse outside marriage.
In 1 Corinthians 6.18, Paul exhorts the members of the Corinthian church to flee from sexual immorality (porneia) after telling them that having sex with a prostitute (i.e., having sex with one with whom a person is not married) is not acceptable behavior for a believer.
There is probably a lot of preachy stuff out there about the subject of premarital sex, which is a great turn off to those who are struggling with their sexual appetites. It may be well to remember that those who call themselves believers in Christ are called to live by a different standard of life than those who are not believers. When faced with a situation of having sex with a partner to whom you are not married, you might ask yourself the question: If Jesus were you in that very situation, how would he act?

Question: Does the Bible speak about an open marriage?
Since marriage only allows two people to get married. I would like to know of the Bible’s opinion of open marriages and engaging in homosexuality while in a marriage? I think that if anyone can not be committed to one person, they shouldn’t get married.
BEGINNING ANSWER
The ancient world in the age of the New Testament had open marriages. The male was married, had concubines, and visited prostitutes. However, the New Testament text offers a different way of viewing marriage, a different Story to live into, if you please, one woman with a man or one man with a woman at a time. It seems clear that Scripture does not allow for any same-sex relationships in or out of marriage. Read First Corinthians and Romans (especially the first couple of chapters) for Paul’s thoughts on the subject of same-sex sexual relationships.

Question: What about Nudity?
I read an article by the Catholic Pope recently, in which he concludes that while lust may be associated with nudity, nudity in itself is not wrong. The basis for his conclusions seemed to derive from the fact that Adam and Eve were created nude and were declared at the same time, to be ‘very good’! I agree! I have seen beautiful works of art, which depict nudity (e.g. Goya’s ‘The Nude Maja’), and have not felt the need to lust. Being a normal male person with a pulse, however, I have indeed felt sexually aroused by images of nudity that I have seen in the media. To deal with this problem, I consulted with several of my male Christian acquaintances as to what to do. They all told me that I needed to avoid looking at such images so as not to be tempted to lust. However, most of them have since fallen over by getting involved in pornography and the like. In response, I have adopted a different strategy. Instead of just trying to avoid being tempted, I have made it my practice to go out of my way to meet sexy looking females, for example, so that I can practice a multiple of mental routines aimed at disciplining my natural tendencies to become aroused and lust after them. I do the same thing with images depicting female nudity. While the process was difficult at first and I did fall over a few times in the beginning, it is all second nature to me now. I no longer feel ill at ease and sexually tempted by exotic looking girls, or images of them, regardless as to how undressed they might appear. I am now regarded with considerable suspicion and disdain by many in my congregation, however, who see me as being engaged in a sinful process. I am not convinced, however. The strategy that I have used, works a lot better than the “hear no evil, see no evil” type of approach that was first recommended to me. As far as I can see, all I have been doing is practicing how not to lust in the face of temptation, so as to build up an immunity against my natural tendencies to be tempted by female beauty and sexuality. I cannot find anything in Scripture that says that it is wrong to talk to good-looking women (especially if I am doing so for the purpose of being accomplished at not lusting after them), or as per the Pope’s view, that there is nothing wrong with nudity in itself (once again – especially if I am using images of it to practice not being tempted or improperly influenced by it). What do you think?
BEGINNING ANSWER
It is fair to point out that when humankind was created, they were nude. But, when they disobeyed God’s one and only commandment, they discovered their nudity and their response was to cover it up and God later confirmed their solution by providing clothes for them. The inference here may be that in their fallen state that nudity would lead to more problems in their lives than they were presently facing. This seems to play itself out in that in the business of religious systems in the ancient world, nudity played a significant part in their worship life and these rituals were condemned by Judaism.
God seems to suggest, in his action of providing clothes, that it is important to have a social relationship where body parts are not the object of being social. One story of interest in the New Testament was the demonized person in the cemetery who was nude when he approached Jesus and after he was released from his demons, he set clothed and in his right mind. One must ask why Jesus didn’t leave the man nude.
It appears that nudity is not a biblically socially acceptable practice.
I don’t think that if you could ask the Pope about your interpretation of what he said about nudity that he would have come to your present strategy. He would not acquiesce that what he meant or what you have interpreted that he meant in the article you read as the same thing. You might want to ask yourself WPDI (Would the Pope Do It)?
Living in God’s Story means living in a story that has a different character about it. So, I would suggest that you should keep your clothes on, keep the clothes on those “good- looking” women you are meeting, keep your pants zipped, and ask for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to help you overcome your present practices.
Well, there’s what I think!

Question: What is the meaning of the kingdom of God?
BEGINNING ANSWER There are two ways to understand the concept of the kingdom of God.
Realm: Kingdom is normally understood as a realm over which a king rules. A modern-day example of this idea was the United Kingdom, which was made up of many nations: Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, etc. People live in the Kingdom (a place) and are subjects of the King or Queen who exercises his or her authority over his or her subjects.
Reign-Rule: Another way to view the idea of the kingdom is found in its dictionary definition: “The reign or rule a king has over his subjects.” This definition is closer to the primary meaning of the He-brew and Greek words than the concept of realm. In Hebrew, the word for Kingdom is malkut (mal-coot). The Greek word is basileia (bah-see-lay-a).
It is the meaning of the first concept above that the sacred text to which the New Testament gives preference.
See eBook Resources for information about a free thirteen week Bible study at the following link that may help you identify an answer to your question. AskDrWinn eBook Resources

Question: What is the biblically defined role of a pastor?
What is the actual biblically defined role of a pastor and why do they so often gravitate to perform-ing duties similar to an Old Testament priest?
BEGINNING ANSWER
This is a fascinating question. The word pastor only appears once in a list in Ephesians 4.11 and there it is combined with Teacher. There are not five gifts mentioned by Paul in this passage, only four. The Greek prohibits the understanding of five gifts in the so-called “five-fold ministry.” In some circles, this idea makes for “good preaching” or so it is taught, but in my opinion, it is theologically unsound preaching and just plain ignorance of the original language. Okay, enough ranting!
The role of pastor has evolved from the New Testament church that did not have pastors as we have in the church today. There was no such thing as a “professional” pastor in the New Testament era. The beginning of pastoring as such began to take place early after the New Testament books were written, which was early in the second century. It evolved into the priesthood in the Roman tradition and when Luther broke with the church, he continued the tradition of pastor/priest.
The Biblical concept of church governance and the modern concept of church governance are oppo-sites. Only in the last few hundred years have we evolved into corporate churches with CEOs dressed in cleric robes.
If we were true to our calling as the people of God, everyone would get to play, i.e., minister as God called and placed his blessing on a time of ministry. As an example, you may witness to someone who becomes a believer and you have a pool in your back yard. You could feel free to take the new convert and baptize him or her. I wonder how the New Testament got along without buildings, places within the building to baptize folks, and pastors whose duty it is to do the baptizing.
Of course, the idea of being a shepherd is impregnated within the Story of God. It has found its expression in different cultures in different ways. As usual, we have to try and sort out what we see in a culture and how we practice our beliefs as sometimes two different things. Not exactly bad, just different. What often happens is that we take a practice that has a theological backdrop and then sanctions it as the biblical way of expression. Then, endless arguments occur. I can hear the resistance. But, there need to be some boundaries, does just anything go? Sure, there are boundaries, but, they are just broader than we would like to admit.

Question: What is the function of elders?
Does the N.T. make a distinction between elders and pastors? What would be a good understanding of the function of elders in a local church? Part of what I’m trying [to] see is what could be the appropriate boundaries for elders. Is this more situational and relational than doctrinal? Can you direct me to the material I can read to gain a better understanding of the role and function of elders?
BEGINNING ANSWER
The following

Elders (presbuteroi pres-bu-ter-oi) formed the governing body of the Jewish congregations. The Jerusalem church under James was likely modeled after this pattern.[19] This word does not appear in Paul’s writings before 1, 2 Timothy and Titus.
New Testament specialists usually believe that the Jerusalem church, under the leadership of James, was patterned after the synagogue with elders in leadership. If that is so, there is a direct tie to the apostles that would show continuity for this form of government as being the correct one. One may arrive at this conclusion if the presupposition is held that unity means conformity. Unity does not have to be regimented conformity. Both unity and diversity appear in Scripture. If unity and diversity are understood as a motif in Scripture, then there may have been two different styles of systems of government in the church. One may be called a Pauline functional type that was charismatic. The other might be called an institutional style moving from function to form by the time of the Pastoral Letters. It has been suggested that the authorship of the letters to Timothy and Titus was an edited Paul, which leaned toward an institutional approach of church government that had developed by the time of the editing. What is more important than the authorship of these letters is what they teach.
The letters written to Timothy and Titus may be the first illustrations of progressive institutionalizing, which has affected every modern movement of spiritual renewal, usually in the second or third generation. By the time of Timothy and Titus, the freshness of the renewal experiences, which brought the movement about, had hardened into rigid set forms. The second and third-generation leaders may have been less creative and sensitive toward the Spirit. They began to treat the experiences of the founding fathers as faith. The teaching and experience of the founders become the sacred words, hallowed heritage, which is to be preserved, guarded, and handed on, but never re-visited or reinterpreted. The present becomes only a channel whereby the religion of the past can be transmitted for the next generation in good order. The vitality of the founders usually disappears and the second generation tries what is not possible, to live out the past experience in the present. This has not fully happened in the letters to Timothy and Titus, but the processes are well-advanced and possibly irreversible.[20] When Paul speaks of the work of associates and individuals within the New Testament Church, he consistently avoids these words.[21] With only one exception (Phil. 1.1), Paul never addresses a single group of leaders or a specific class of people as the ones responsible to organize or provide for the spiritual well-being of others over whom they give oversight. The letter to the Corinthians would have been a perfect place for Paul to give specific directions to an individual leader or a group of leaders to solve the significant problems within the church. The fact that there was not such an individual leader or group of leaders may be a blunt implication that if leadership was going to be required, the Spirit would have to provide it.[22] The point is that there does not appear to be a hierarchical system of church government appointed by Paul in the Corinthian church or any of his churches to which he could appeal for help in solving the problems. Paul was the leader of the church, but the instructions he wrote were given by the Spirit to the whole church to help them correct the problem.[23] I have also found Arthur G. Patzia’s The Emergence of the Church: Context, Growth, Leadership & Worship[24] useful with this kind of question.

Question: What about Apocalyptic Literature?
I was wondering what you thought the value that apocalyptic literature holds in today’s society and how it has been used in church history. Also, do you think that there are any dangers associated with engaging in these texts?
BEGINNING ANSWER
In my online study of the book of Revelation entitled: “Decoding the Apocalypse,” I devote a session to Apocalyptic Literature called “Apocalyptic What?” The following is that session that can be found at “Decoding the Apocalypse” Apocalypt What?
When I was a kid, I used to sit with my dad and listen to baseball games in the cool of his barbershop in the blistering heat of Florida summers. In our neck of the woods, we could only get Yankee games (that’s the NY Yankees for those of you that are not familiar with American baseball). I would sit, listen, and try to imagine what it was like to be in the park watching Mickey Mantle play.
Often, I would hear the announcer say that the batter was looking to the third base coach for a sign. I had no idea what that meant because I had never seen a live baseball game, even a high school game, at that point in my life.
Some years later after my folks bought the first TV in the little Southern community that I lived in and we finally were able to receive something besides “snow” and an occasion signal, I saw my first major league game.
Then, I understood what signs were, but did not understand what they meant. Baseball signs go all the way back to the late 1800s when a deaf player named Dummy Hoy, certainly not a politically correct way of referring to someone today, requested the third base coach to raise his left hand to indicate a ball and his right hand to indicate a strike. As a deaf player, the pitchers were quick pitch-ing him while he was asking the umpire if the previous pitch was a ball or a strike. So “signs” in baseball were born. They developed into some pretty sophisticated stuff over the years. The purpose: to keep the other team from knowing what is going on as the next possible play.
Ever listened to quarterbacks call plays? They are in code. The players with the code in hand under-stand what is going to happen; the opposite team, well, they are left to guess what’s coming.
When I was serving in the military in the US Air Force, I had a Top Secret clearance. We would get coded messages and someone had to decode them. If you read the original message, you would have no knowledge about what was being said. You needed the codebook to help understand it.
It is fair to say, that different areas of life have different codes and we have all kinds of codes that we read. We can understand them because we have the code to understand them.
In the first session of Revelation, we spoke (wrote) briefly about the genre of literature of the book we call Revelation. It is Apocalyptic Literature, and it is early-coded material. If we try to read it as the Left Behind writers have done, along with hundreds of other authors trying to decipher the text, without giving due attention to what the possible codes are, we will surely misread it, misunderstand it, misuse it, and often put words into the mouth of God that he never said and does not intend to say.
When I say “code,” I do not mean some mystical code hidden deep within the words of the book that requires you to have a magic formula to decode words every so often in the text wherein the real message of the text is hidden. I’m not talking about having some kind of urban-legend-decoder ring popular in USAmerica beginning in the 1930s. I am not talking about the rash of recent “code” books claiming to help us uncover “hidden” meaning in the text. These books all had a rather Gnostic insiders feel to them.
Let me confess upfront. I don’t have the codebook. However, I do know something about the kind of literature that the book purports to be. If we get a grasp on that angle, we will have an easier time reading and understanding the text. The following may be helpful.
Why Apocalyptic Literature?
In the story of the Old Testament, we discover that Israel had an undefeated and indestructible hope that they were the chosen people of God (Genesis 12.1-9).
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring, I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
From Abraham forward, the Jews began to believe that they were destined to be the greatest nation in the world and would eventually have world supremacy because they were the people of God. Solomon was viewed as the apex of this nationalistic belief.
The Hebrew prophets of the eighth and seventh centuries BC still cherished the hope that Israel’s repentance and renewal would lead to the recovery of this lost ideal. The term day of the Lord, which denoted the desire for God to intervene and promote Israel to a superior place, was ever-present in the message of the prophets. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who were prophets of the Exile, believed that Israel would be restored and revived in her homeland. They believed that Israel, as a purified nation, would fulfill her appointed destiny in the world and she would have a new king from the family of David.
Prophetic hopes were nourished through the Babylonian Exile (586–536 BC). It was difficult for them to reconcile that they were God’s chosen people who were destined for world supremacy, but yet they were captive in a foreign land first by Assyria, then by Babylon, then Medo-Persia, and lat-er Rome, with only a brief respite during the Maccabean period.
Captivity and Exposure to Zoroastrianism (A Stimuli for the Hebrews)
Added to this onset of pessimism and rejection was the contact that Israel had in the Exile with some ideas of Iranian religion. This ancient form of Persian Zoroastrianism taught:

  • A cosmic struggle between good and evil.
  • A hope of the sudden arrival of a god on the earth.
  • A resurrection and judgment of all men.
  • A world destroyed by fire.
  • A final victory of a god with a new beginning of world history.

The Restoration Period showed a rise in this kind of literature, (Ezek. 40-48; Daniel 7-12; and Zech. 1-14).
The Intervention of God (Intertestamental / Second Temple Judaism)
When one lives with expectations, but finds no resolution for the expectations, a feeling can often rise that nothing can be done about the present situation. This happened to Israel during this long period. They believed that God must intervene in human affairs and fulfill his promises to them as a nation. They still held the conviction that their destiny was to be the greatest nation, which would afford them world supremacy, but they discovered that they had to adjust the present situation.
The Development of Time
In this segment of their history, the Jews developed a belief about how time occurred. How were their expectations going to play out and be fulfilled? How could they understand where they were in God’s plan. From this period of turmoil in their national history, they developed the following way of thinking about time.

  • The Present Age: The present age was wholly and totally bad. It was beyond redemption and could not be transformed. There was only one way out: total destruction. The Jews waited for the end of all things as they were.
  • The Age to Come: The age to come was wholly and totally good and righteous. It was the Golden Age in which God would be in charge. In this age, God’s chosen people would at last be vindicated. They would receive their rightful place in world history. Out of this develop-ment of their concept of time arose an obvious question: How was the present age to become the future age?
  • The Transition: What was the transition? The transition would be when God would blast the Present Age out of existence. The day when God would come to destroy the present age was called the day of the Lord.
  • The Day of the Lord: The day of the Lord would be a terrible time of terror, destruction, and judgment. During this time, things as they are would be totally destroyed. The day of the Lord would be the birth pangs of the new age to come. Apocalyptic Literature is set within the background of these events: the Present Age, which is evil; the Transition Period, which is the day of the Lord; and the Age to Come, which would be the Golden age of good with God in charge.

What is Apocalyptic Literature?
Apocalyptic Literature is literature, which is composed of dreams and visions. There are five features, which historically mark most examples of Apocalyptic Literature.

  1. Visionary Experience. The visionary experience of the seer would announce the content of his message, which was usually conveyed in an extended dialogue between himself and a heavenly counterpart (e.g., Zech. 1.18f.; 4.1). The writer is visibly overcome by the situation, which meets him, usually the encounter with a heavenly reality. He may fall into a trance, or lie prostrate on the ground, or manifest great agitation in his spirit.
  2. Ancient Names. The use of ancient names like Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and Ezra to conceal the identity of the seer is a common device, which leads to the description of Apocalyptic Literature as pseudonymous, though there was no intention on the writer’s part to deceive the reader.
  3. Dualistic. The present struggle between God’s people on earth and their enemies is unequal because of the cosmic setting of the real conflict. Their thought is dualistic. They see the earth-ly struggle of the Jewish people in light of the great rivalry between God and his enemy, Sa-tan, or Belial, or Mastema, or Azazel. The ultimate victory of God is assuredly predetermined.
  4. Symbolic Language. Because the setting of the apocalyptic literature is other-worldly, it is natural that the language used is symbolic and dramatic. Angels and demons are the contest-ants. They engage one another through the medium of mythological and zoological figures, such as dragons, monsters, members of the animal kingdom, and species of reptiles.
  5. Hope and Encouragement. The apocalyptic writer addressed a message of hope and encouragement to his readers as well as a call for patience in the interim between the dark present and the glorious future.

Cryptic

It was necessary for it to be cryptic, i.e., use symbols and pictures. There was a continual attempt to describe the indescribable, to say the unseeable, and to paint the unpaintable.
Why Cryptic?
The more tyranny, the more vengeance one wanted! The more held down, the hotter the vision of deliverance. Events were written in code. They were deliberately couched in language, which was unintelligible to an outsider. Many events will remain covered because the code is lost.
It would appear that the more you know about the historical background and the situation of such books, the better you can interpret and grasp their meaning.

A Listing of Jewish Apocalypses

The Book of Enoch contains visions of world history and the history of Israel, from the time of Enoch to the present-day, and looks toward the impending end. The Sibylline Oracles were written in Greek by a Hellenistic Jewish apologist who was thought to imitate the pagan oracles. The Ascension of Isaiah has a definitely Christian character and contains a prediction of the prophet’s death, being sawed in two. The Assumption of Moses was written originally in Aramaic but extant only in a Latin translation or an earlier Greek translation. Moses is portrayed as predicting the history of Israel from the time of the entry into Canaan to the time of the writing. The Apocalypse of Baruch contains a discussion on the problem of suffering and evil and provides an answer: the present evil age will soon pass from existence and the Messianic age will come. Fourth Ezra records seven visions given to Ezra in Babylon. It contains much imagery and phraseology that appear in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Revelation.

  • Book of Enoch. Known as 1 Enoch or Ethiopic Enoch, dating from c. 170 BC and follow-ing. It contains visions of world history and the history of Israel, from the time of Enoch to the present-day, and looks toward the impending end. It is by far the most important of the non-biblical apocalypses. Read the Book of Enoch here. http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical stud-ies/noncanon/ot/pseudo/enoch.htm
  • The Sibylline Oracles. Written in Greek by a Hellenistic Jewish apologist who was thought to imitate the pagan oracles. Words are put into the mouth of a prophetess named Sibyl who is identified as Noah’s daughter-in-law, who purports to predict the course of world history and the coming of the Messianic age with its peace and prosperity. Read The Sibylline Oracles here. http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/sib/
  • The Ascension of Isaiah. It has a definitely Christian character and contains a prediction of the prophet’s death by being sawed in two. Read The Ascension of Isaiah here. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/ascension.html
  • The Assumption of Moses. It was written originally in Aramaic but extant only a Latin translation or an earlier Greek translation. Its date is somewhere between AD 6-30. Moses is portrayed as predicting the history of Israel from the time of the entry into Canaan to the time of the writing. The book centers on the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes (169-164 BC) and has a pronouncement concerning the coming Kingdom of God and the end of the world. Read The Assumption of Moses here. http://www.piney.com/Testament-Moses.html
  • The Apocalypse of Baruch. This book is closely related to 2 Ezra’s dating (AD 100-130). It contains a discussion on the problem of suffering and evil and provides an answer: the present evil age will soon pass from existence and the Messianic age will come. Read The Apocalypse of Baruch here. http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/pseudepigrapha/2Baruch.html
  • Fourth Ezra. This book is a mixture of Jewish and Christian thoughts. Dating AD 90-100, it records seven visions given to Ezra in Babylon. It contains much imagery and phraseology, which appears in the NT, especially in the book of Revelation. Read Fourth Ezra here. http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/apocrypha ot/2esdr.htm

Christian Apocalypse: REVELATION

The book of Revelation was written using the pattern of two ages (the Present Evil Age and the Age to Come) with a Transition period (the day of the Lord). The major difference between the Jewish and Chris-tian Apocalyptic is the Second Coming in Revelation is often thought to equal the day of the Lord in Jewish Apocalyptic writings. I think the genre of the text needs to be understood and interpreted within the boundaries of the kind of literature it is. Like all literature, if you don’t know what kind it is, poetry, narrative, etc., you might discover that when reading it you might come to a different conclusion than the author’s intent because you do not know what kind of literature he/she is using to convey the message to the reader/listener.
I would encourage you to sign up for the whole study at: Decoding the Apocalypse. Just click here. Revelation Signup

Question: Who was crucified upside down?
BEGINNING ANSWER
It is believed that some of the apostles met their death in such away. Peter is the most notable. However, the death of the apostles is not recorded in Scripture (except James) and we find our information from the writers in the early church of the following centuries. You might check an encyclopedia or a Bible Dictionary under each of the twelve disciples’ names to discover what church historians say about their deaths.

Question: Did Women Sing in the Sanctuary?
During the Bible days, did women sing in the sanctuary?
BEGINNING ANSWER
I am unclear by what you mean by the sanctuary. If you are thinking about the Old Testament, I’m not aware of anywhere that the subject is addressed. If you are using sanctuary as another word for church in the New Testament, we must realize that they had no church buildings to meet in. They met in homes.
I would say that in the church (and I don’t mean building) that Paul’s injunction in Galatians 3.28 that in God’s new creation, the church, there is neither male or female, that singing by both male and female would be acceptable. There is no prohibition against women worshiping or ministering in the NT that I am aware of.
If you are interested, here is a talk that I shared about women in ministry. AskDrWinn eBook Re-sources

Question: Will there be any pets in heaven?
Do you know in scripture where it supports that pets and animals will be in heaven?
BEGINNING ANSWER
I know of no Scripture that suggests that pets or animals will be in heaven. Animals are real in Scripture as well as often used as metaphors. One has to be careful not to build a theology around a metaphor as something that is factual. So when Scripture says that outside the New Jerusalem there are dogs (Rev. 22.15), the author is not referring to real dogs. This is a metaphor as shown by who these “dogs” are.
One further comment. There is a misconception in popular theology that when a Christian dies, he/she goes to heaven. Scripture does not teach such. It is almost completely silent on the subject. The best we should say is that eternity begins when a person meets Jesus in this present evil age. Eternal life continues after we leave this body. N. T. Wright is fond of saying that there is life after life after death. There is a point in the future when the resurrection occurs and believers inherit their resurrected body; between physical death and resurrection, Scripture has little to say. One thing is clear: there is nothing in Scripture that supports a “free spirit” without a body after physical death. At some point in the future, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. That is where eternity’s future will be played out.

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Question: Where in the Bible did God appear as an angel?
BEGINNING ANSWER
I am not aware of any place where God appeared as an angel. Below is part of an article on angels in the OT from Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series) that might be helpful.
Angels in the OT and Judaism.
Although angels are frequently called “sent ones” in the OT, they may also be referred to as “holy ones,” “sons of gods,” “sons of God,” “hosts,” “ministers,” or in certain instances, they may be given the title “commander,” Josh 5:14. Angels in the OT appear as messengers or representatives of the heavenly world, frequently sent by Yahweh himself. They are part of the created order and serve God’s purposes, assisting and carrying out important transactions be-tween God and humans, but primarily between God and Israel. They mediate revelation (2 Kings 1:3), come to the assistance of individuals (Gen 16:9), are associated with manifestations of Yahweh (Gen 18; 32:1), serve as part of the heavenly council (Ps 89:6-9), and make up the heavenly army (Deut 33:2; Zech 1:11). An angel is sent to accompany and direct Israel through the wilderness journey (cf. Ex 23:23 and Ex 33:2), and an angel brings judgment against Jerusalem (2 Sam 24:16). In visionary and apocalyptic settings, angels take on more distinct roles as manlike figures who guide the seer within visions and serve as interpreters (Ezek 40:3; Zech 1:7-17). In Daniel, angels take on a variety of roles, the most notable being that of the great archangel Michael, the protector of Israel (Dan 10:13; 12:1).
The title “angel of the Lord” seems to refer to an angel of rank or stature who carries out special missions for Yahweh. Such an angel appears to Moses in the flaming bush (Ex 3:2), leads Israel out of Egypt and into the land of promise (cf. Josh 5:13-15 and Judg 2:1-5), and appears to Gideon (Judg 6:11) at an hour of crisis.

Jewish texts outside the OT testify to an expanded understanding of the nature and role of angels in some sectors of Second Temple Judaism. Much of this was simply an extension and development of what was to be found in the OT. Angels protect individuals (1 Enoch 100:5), execute judgment (1 Enoch 56:1-8), act as heavenly scribes (Jub 1:27-29), populate the heavenly court (1 Enoch 14:18-24), take part in the heavenly liturgy (1 Enoch 61:9-13; 4Q400-407[Song of Sabbath Sacrifice in the Dead Sea Scrolls]), come to the aid of Israel in warfare (3 Macc. 6:18-21), are differentiated by rank and name (1 Enoch 61:10; 2 Enoch 20; T. Levi 3), and guide heavenly visions and interpret mysteries (1 Enoch 17-36). One notable new development is the notion of two opposing forces of angelic powers: a force of good angels led by God or an archangel, and a force of evil angels led by an evil angelic power known as Sa-tan, Mastema or Belial. [25] See AskDrWinn eBook Resources for more articles on Angels. AskDrWinn eBook Resources

Question: Do you use the KJV of the Bible?
BEGINNING ANSWER
I only use the KJV on occasion in the study. I primarily use the New International Version or the New Revised Standard Version. If you are interested in more information about the KJV and other translations see askDrWinn eBook Resources. AskDrWinn eBook Resources

  • The Facts on the King James Only Debate> by John Ankerberg and John Weldon [26]
  • he King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism by D.A. Carson [27]
  • King James Only Controversy, The: Can You Trust Modern Translations? by James R. White [28]
  • How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions by Gordon D. Fee and Mark L. Strauss [29]

Question: What does the Bible say about physical appearances and obsession with plastic surgery?
I will be giving my first teaching to a group of women at a day retreat. I feel I need to speak about our “obsession with outer beauty” and plastic surgery. What does the Bible say about physical appearances and obsession with plastic surgery?
BEGINNING ANSWER
Scripture does not take on every topic that might affect modern humankind. Proverbs 31 does cite some information about the virtue of a wife. I’m not sure that we can apply that to every female by extension. One might point to the women who emerge as spouses in the Bible—” Sarah, Rachel, Ruth, Mary—are known to us solely by their godly and virtuous character, and not at all by physical appearance. However, this observation is not the primary teaching of their stories.
Plastic Surgery is not a new phenomenon. Written evidence cites medical treatment for facial injuries more than 4,000 years ago. Physicians in ancient India were utilizing skin grafts for reconstructive work as early as 800 BC However, progress in plastic surgery, like most of medicine, moved glacially for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the specialty forged ahead both scientifically and within the medical establishment in both Europe and the United States. America’s first plastic surgeon of note was Dr. John Peter Mettauer, who was born in Virginia in 1787. The colorful Dr. Mettauer performed the first cleft palate operation in the New World in 1827 with instruments he designed himself.
One might want to talk about self-image in this case. It is not necessary to have Bible verses to support or prove one’s point of view. Scripture was not created by God to prove anything. We, however, want to use it to prove everything. One might go through the Song of Songs and see the fascination of the husband with the outer beauty of his wife.
Of course, this may all be moot now for the above-mentioned occasion if it has already passed.
Question: Son of God and Son of Man
In the book of Mark, Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of God.” In the middle of chapter 9, Jesus then uses the term “Son of Man.” What prompts this change in His reference, and can you describe the difference between these two titles? I have a good understanding but am having trouble putting it into words for our small group setting. Thanks!
BEGINNING ANSWER
In popular writing and thinking, “Son of God” is usually thought to reference the divinity of Jesus while “Son of Man” represents his humanity. Gallons of ink have been spilled over this topic. It is difficult to summarize. So let me say to begin with, the above simplification does not seem to hold theological water. Most likely “Son of God” in some way identified Jesus with God but never came from the mouth of Jesus speaking of himself. It was a designation of another about Jesus. On the other hand, “Son of Man” seems to be Jesus’ own designation of himself. The “Son of Man” designation is more likely to mean within the context of Second Temple Judaism, a god-man who will come to deliver God’s people from their bondage.
If you would like to read further on this topic please go to AskDrWinn eBook Resources
Question: Chronological Bible
I am interested in locating a Bible online that is chronological. We were discussing psalm 26 and we questioned when it was written versus David’s sin?
BEGINNING ANSWER
I have a chronological outline on my web site. In addition, I have written a book: God’s EPIC Ad-venture,[30] which follows a chronological concept of the story presented in the Bible. See AskDr-Winn eBook resources. AskDrWinn eBook Resources for more resources on chronology.
Question: How long do I live?
Where in the Bible does it state how long God has given us to live and how long is it?
BEGINNING ANSWER
There is no clear indication of the “exact” time of life. Some folks read Genesis 6.3 “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years’” as a literal time frame for life. It is more likely the time delay that allowed the people to repent before the flood actually occurred.
There seems to be ample evidence that in the post-flood, the recorded ages steadily decline (Jacob: 110 years, Gen. 50.26; Moses: 120 years, Deut. 34.7; Joshua. 110 years, Jos.. 24.29; only Aaron exceeds 120 years and lived till 123 years of age, Num. 33.39).
Psalm 90.19 indicates that life is still shorter:
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
The question might be framed as follows: In the amount of time that God has allowed me on this earth, how much of it will I use for ministry to the world around me?
Question: What about Spiritual Gifts?
Who gets the gifts of the Spirit?
The following conversation was posted on my blog on Friday, May 09, 2003, and were the results of the questioner reading a set of bulletin inserts that I had written on the topic of Spiritual Gifts.
Question/Comment
You said that the Holy Spirit does not give all the spiritual gifts to every believer and I can believe that regarding the corporate setting of the church. That is where the office of giftings flows. However, John Wimber taught us that the Holy Spirit has all gifts, and if we are a believer we have the Holy Spirit inside us and He can work and manifest all of the gifts through us. When you say the Holy Spirit only gives out the gifts to those whom he chooses, are you talking about office gifts for the corporate church setting and not the individual’s personal giftings for daily living?
Beginning Answer
I believe that “when the church comes together” that God gives gifts as he desires for the edification of the church gathered. The answer to each of the questions posed by Paul at the end of 1 Cor. 12 is “No” within the context of “when the church comes together.” Therefore in that context, one person will not receive all the gifts, and may not receive any gift during that period. Paul is dealing with a limited problem (the abuse of tongues) and providing a solution for the Corinthian church at that point.
I agree with John’s point that the Holy Spirit can flow any gift he desires through us. I do not believe at this point in my journey that we “have” gifts in the sense that we can discover them, develop them, and deploy them. I believe the gifts reside in the Holy Spirit and we are the conduits through which they flow. The one to whom the gift is given receives the gift. As an example, I do not believe that anyone has the “gifts of healings” as a resident/constituted gift to use at will. I do believe that when I am praying for a person to be healed that God, at his will, can flow a gift of healing through me to the person being prayed for and she or he receives the gift of healing.
I do not understand what you mean by “where the office of giftings flows.” I don’t believe that there are office gifts for the corporate church setting vs. personal giftings for daily living. One is only a pastor when he or she is pastoring. As an example, you may call yourself Pastor of a Vineyard, but this is a modern idea not a biblical one. You and others may pastor the people that identify with the Vineyard in your community as God sends the gift of pastoring through you and they receive it.
Question/Comment
John Wimber was my pastor for ten years in Anaheim. I understand God giving gracelets for pastor-ing or teaching your own family or a kinship of believers and there is a much more powerful gracelet needed for the office of pastor or teacher to a flock of a 100 or 1000 for sure.
Beginning Answer
Again, I don’t believe in a constituted gift of pastor. John himself was fond of saying that he was a pastor when he was pastoring, and elder when he was elding, etc. The structure of the church today is far removed from the structure/formation of the church in the New Testament. There really was no hierarchical structure there. We have inherited our structures from the Roman Catholic Church through Martin Luther not from any biblical idea. What the Roman Catholics and Martin Luther brought to bear turned into a corporate business at the turn of the twentieth century. In America, we need to rethink our concept of church. We are so prone to think about “going” rather than “being” the church for the sake of the world.
Question/Comment
Do you believe that all believers can receive the gift of tongues for their personal edification? I think that one who gives a corporate prayer tongue should be able to interpret it also if he is going to give it in a corporate church setting, therefore the office of ministry through tongues to the church in the corporate setting has a much higher grace requirement. Is this what you are talking about? I was taught by John Wimber and teach it in my own church that all new believers can receive the gift of tongues as a personal prayer language between them and God. Can you help me with this question?
Beginning Answer
I believe that the term “praying in the spirit” in Paul’s books is a technical term that includes praying in tongues (what today has often been called “prayer language”). Praying in the Spirit would be open to any believer. I do not believe that this is the gift of tongues that Paul refers to in the Corinthian letters. I believe that it is possible for a person to be used by God with the gift of tongues in a worship service even one who has never spoken in tongues as a prayer language (praying in the spirit) before and may never speak in tongues again. The text is clear that one who speaks in tongues is speaking to God, not to men and women. He or she is not required to interpret only to pray for the interpretation if there is not another who gives the interpretation. I believe that the interpretation of tongues is a Godward message, not a manward message. Tongues and interpretation are not equal to prophesy except in edification value. We must remember that Paul is not teaching the church at Corinth about tongues, he is correcting them in their abuse of this gift “when the church was gathered together.” I would resist talking about “office” gifts. The two lists in 1 Corinthians 12 (as well as other places like Ephesians and 1 Peter) are just lists. There are no more important or less important gifts. Lists in the New Testament are representative, not complete. That is to say that the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 (and elsewhere) are the only representative of the “gifts” of the Holy Spirit, not a complete list of all the “gifts” that the Holy Spirit will ever or could ever give.
If I have not been clear in trying to answer the questions you asked, we can continue the conversation, if you wish to do so.
QUESTION: Are there any stories in the Bible about the cleanliness of the environment
I want to locate Bible stories or passages that talk about the cleanliness of the environment.
BEGINNING ANSWER
The basic story of creation (Genesis 1.1-2.4a) suggests that humankind is responsible for the creation. I am not aware of any specific stories that relate to this rather modern issue.
As an additional thought: Passages of scripture pulled from their context to support issues is not a proper use of Scripture. Scripture comes in a historical context to solve the problems of ancient people. While it still has a message to us today, it does not address all of the modern concerns that we may bring to it. I am often amazed at how we go to the Bible to find “support” for some ideas that we have. God did not answer all the questions that humankind could ask in his storybook.
QUESTION: What does the word threescore mean? It is used in different ways?
threescore years | threescore silver | threescore people | threescore cubits
BEGINNING ANSWER
Three scores is an old way of saying sixty (60) or 3 x 20 (20 is a score). So your example would be 60 years, 60 silver, 60 people, 60 cubits.
Question: Englishman’s Concordance
Question
Can you tell me where I can get an Englishman’s Concordance?
You may find the books you were looking for at the following address:

  • The Englishman’s Concordance of the Old Testament[31] by George V. Wigram
  • The Englishman’s Concordance of the New Testament by[32]George V. Wigram

Question: Where is that verse?
I’ve got a question that I can’t seem to find the answer to. About a year ago, I heard a verse that went like this, “The Joy of the Lord is my strength” (or something like that). There is also a song that has that in it. Can you tell me where in the Bible I can find that?
BEGINNING ANSWER
The verse is found in Nehemiah 8.10, which reads: Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
The problem that you can surmise from the question asked is that the quote only points to part of the verse that is being searched out. Verses, as we have written elsewhere, were inserted into the text in the 1500s. They were inserted to help the scholarship of the day find text. It was with the ingeniousness of the Enlightenment that we Westerners have turned a “search” idea into a “quote” idea. Thus, we are often guilty of quoting a verse or only a part of a verse to the exclusion of the context it is found in. It is my opinion that this form of using the sacred text is not helpful and in reality, is harmful to the reader. We should become intentional about ridding ourselves of this spurious habit.

Works Cited
Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon. The Facts on the King James Only Debate. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996.
Answers.com, “Yom Kippur”, Answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/yom-kippur (accessed October 15 2011).
Brueggemann, Walter. An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
Carson, D.A. King James Version Debate, The: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1978.
Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin and Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993.
Dunn, James D. G. Jesus and the Spirit: A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Je-sus and the First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.
Elwell, Walter A. ed. Evangelical Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989.
Fee, Gordon D., and Mark L. Strauss. How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2007.
Green, Joel B, Scot McKnight, and eds. I Howard Marshall. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL InterVarsity Press, 1992.
Griffin, Winn, “New Testament Chronology”, SBL Ministries http://www.sbl.org/readthrubible/chronological/nt/index.shtm (accessed October 11 2011).
________, “Old Testament Chronology”, SBL Ministries http://www.sbl.org/readthrubible/chronological/ot/index.shtm (accessed October 11 2011).
________. Jude: How to Keep Yourself from Error. Woodinville, WA: Harmon Press, 1997.
________. Spiritual Gifts for Boneheads. Woodinville, WA: Harmon Press, 1999.
________. God’s Epic Adventure. Woodinville, WA: Harmon Press, 2007.
Ladd, George. The Blessed Hope. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956.
Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament (Revised Edition). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993.
Luther, Martin. Luther’s Work Lectures on Genesis 1-5. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1986.
Orr, James, M.A., General Editor, “Jesus Christ: 1. Date of the Birth of Jesus”, StudyLight.org http://www.studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T5014.
Patzia, Arthur G. The Emergence of the Church: Context, Growth, Leadership & Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
Tenney, Merrill C. “Myth, Mythology.” In Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company.
Walton, John H. The NIV Application Commentary Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2001.
Walvoord, John. The Rapture Question. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957.
White, James R. The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? Ada, MI: Bethany Publishing Group, 1995.
Wigram, George V. The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament: Coded with Strong’s Concordance Numbers. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996.
________. The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament: Coded with Strong’s Concordance Numbers. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing 1996.

Bibliography
[1] Merrill C. Tenney ed (A.C. Thiselton: “Myth, Mythology,” in Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company), 4:333.
https://books.google.com/books?id=S4MZREX03u0C&pg=PT910&lpg=PT910&dq=Myth,+Mythology+Merrill+C.+Tenney&source=bl&ots=o2W_EDAAGU&sig=e7hvocbOUb9vOs3Hf_XXXs3it4c&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjwj-v947LKAhVS3WMKHVc4DREQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=Myth%2C%20Mythology%20Merrill%20C.%20Tenney&f=false

[2] John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub-lishing Company, 2001), 290-303.
[3] Answers.com, “Yom Kippur”, Answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/yom-kippur (accessed October 15 2011).
[4] Walter A. ed. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).
[5] Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagina-tion (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 46.
[6] Ibid., 76.
[7] Winn Griffin, “Old Testament Chronology”, SBL Ministries http://www.sbl.org/readthrubible/chronological/ot/index.shtm (accessed October 11 2011).
[8] Winn Griffin, “New Testament Chronology”, SBL Ministries http://www.sbl.org/readthrubible/chronological/nt/index.shtm (accessed October 11 2011).
[9] James Orr, M.A., General Editor, “Jesus Christ: 1. Date of the Birth of Jesus”, StudyLight.org http://www.studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T5014. See AskDrWinn eBook Resources  http://bit.ly/xXg0DJ
[10] Joel B Green, Scot McKnight, and eds. I Howard Marshall, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gos-pels (Downers Grove, IL InterVarsity Press, 1992), 60-74 [68].  http://bit.ly/A3haUy
[11] Winn Griffin, Jude: How to Keep Yourself from Error (Woodinville, WA: Harmon Press, 1997), 21.
[12] George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Revised Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 500.
[13] Ibid., 502.
[14] Winn Griffin, Spiritual Gifts for Boneheads (Woodinville, WA: Harmon Press, 1999), 38-41.
[15] George Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956). This was Ladd’s departure from classic dispensational theology published in 1956.
[16] John Walvoord, The Rapture Question (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957). This was Walvoord’s response to Ladd in 1957. Walvoord was a classic dispensational theo-logian.
[17] Martin Luther, Luther’ Work Lectures on Genesis 1-5 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1986), 151.
[18] Winn Griffin, God’s Epic Adventure (Woodinville, WA: Harmon Press, 2007), Appendix 6: 336-337.
[19] James D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit: A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Jesus and the First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerd-mans Publishing Company, 1997), 285.
[20] Ibid., 349-350.
[21] Ibid., 285.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Griffin, Spiritual Gifts for Boneheads, 44-45.
[24] Arthur G. Patzia, The Emergence of the Church: Context, Growth, Leadership & Worship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001).
[25] Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 20-21.
[26] John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Facts on the King James Only Debate (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996).
[27] D.A. Carson, King James Version Debate, The: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1978).
[28] James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (Ada, MI: Bethany Publishing Group, 1995).
[29] Gordon D. Fee and Mark L. Strauss, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2007).
[30] Griffin, God’s Epic Adventure.
[31] George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of Old Testament: Coded with Strong’s Concordance Numbers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing 1996).
[32] George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of New Testament: Coded with Strong’s Concordance Numbers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996).

Other eBooks by Winn Griffin
God’s EPIC Adventure | The Story Before the Story (The Reader’s Edition)
God’s EPIC Adventure | Act 1: Creation (The Reader’s Version)
God’s EPIC Adventure | Act 2: Chaos (The Reader’s Version)
God’s EPIC Adventure | Act 3: Covenant (The Reader’s Version)
googling God’s Will: Why Keep Searching for It When It’s Not Lost?
Kingdom Praxis Solos
Veilless in Corinth: An Interpretative Read of 1 Corinthians 11.2-16 [A KingdomPraxis Solo] Individuals As Sinner Or Saint: Which One Do Communities Of Faith Produce? [A KingdomPraxis Solo] Other Paper books by Winn Griffin
God’s EPIC Adventure
googling God’s Will

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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)