“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
“In the beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with TON THEON, and the LOGOS was theos.” — John 1:1; transliterations obtained from Westcott & Hort Interlinear
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from the Holy Bible are from the World English bible translation.
We will, in this study, examine what is the “beginning” spoken of in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, as well as what is included in the “panta” [all things] spoken of in John 1:3. One claims: “By saying that the Word was in the beginning, John implies that the Logos already existed before the beginning talked about in Gen 1:1, namely, the beginning of created reality. This means that the Logos must be uncreated and eternal.” This is usually the concept that most apply to the word “beginning” in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1, and then, from this it is assumed the the Logos had no beginning.
One might say that the word “beginning” refers to the beginning of creation, which is true, but then we need to ask: What creation? One might say the creation of the “heavens and the earth”, as spoken of in Genesis 1:1. But then, we need to ask, What is included in the heavens and earth that is spoken of there? Does it include the heavens where the angels are who always see the face of God? (Matthew 18:10) Doesn’t Job 38:4-7 speak the angels as “sons of God”, and thus show that they were already in existence before the beginning of the heavens and the earth of Genesis 1:1? Was the heaven wherein God’s throne exists ever created? — Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34.
What was the general thought of the New Testament writers when they spoke of the “beginning” of creation, or of the world? We need to examine some scriptures to see, and thereby compare spiritual with spiritual. — 1 Corinthians 2:13.
The first scripture we will examine is Matthew 19:4:
He answered, “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, …”
We can learn from this that Jesus associated “the beginning” with the time of the creation of Adam and Eve. This agrees with Exodus 20:11: “In six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them.” This shows that the “beginning” spoken of in Genesis 1:1 is the six days that are described in Genesis 1:3 through Genesis 2:1. Adam and Eve’s creation was on the last of the six days of creation in which God created the heavens and the earth. Thus, the “beginning” spoken of in Genesis 1:1 is regarding the six days of creation.
However, do these six days include the creation of the planet earth, the sun, the moon, the stars and the angels? No. Let us see why this is so.
Before getting into the creation of the heavens and the earth — the six days — we read: “the earth was formless and empty.” (Genesis 1:2) It should be apparent here that “earth” is referring to the planet. The planet earth already “was” before the first day of creation, thus before the beginning spoken of in Genesis 1:1, as verified by Exodus 20:11. Thus, “earth” in verse 1, which refers to the six days of creation, must mean something different than the planet earth.
So what was the “earth” that is spoken of that was ccreated in the “beginning”? Genesis 1:9,10 tells us:
God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear,” and it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas. God saw that it was good.
Notice that was not the planet that was created on the third day, but dry land. This is the “earth” that was created in the beginning spoken of in verse one. “Earth” in the Bible, however, also designates the society of people who are living on the dry land. We read that “The earth also was corrupt before God.” (Genesis 6:11) Does this mean that the planet itself was corrupt? No, it is speaking of mankind and his society upon the earth: “the earth was filled with violence.” And:
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. — Genesis 6:13.
Here God says he will destroy all flesh with the earth. Did he mean that the planet earth would be no more? No, but he did destroy the order of things that man had made upon the earth. Thus, we should be able to see that the word “earth” can refer to the human society on the planet earth, and not to the planet itself.
Likewise, Abraham called Jehovah the “Judge of all the earth.” (Genesis 18:25) Did he mean that the planet itself was to be judged by Yahweh? No, he is speaking of mankind upon the planet. More scriptures could be cited, but these give a basis for showing that the “earth” referred to in Genesis 1:1 is not the planet, but rather the things upon the land.
What about the heavens — what is included in the statement that in the beginning God created the heavens? Very evidently “heavens” does not include the heavens that is God’s throne, and where the angels see the face of God. (Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34; 18:10) The scriptures seem to indicate that the invisible heavens where God throne is has always been. (Psalm 93:2; 103:19; Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:45) So what heavens is being referred to?
The word “heaven”, like the word “earth”, is used in different ways in the Bible.
The Hebrew word Shamayim, usually rendered “heavens” in Genesis 1:1, is precisely the same word that used in Genesis 1:8. Often it is rendered by many translations in the singular in Genesis 1:8; however, it is plural in both instances in the Hebrew — it is exactly the same word used in both instances. This indicates that “heavens” spoken of as being created in Genesis 1:1, is that expanse, or firmament, that is spoken of in Genesis 1:8. However, as the beginning involves the full of the six days, the heavens includes all that is in these heavens — the hosts of heaven — as seen from the earth, the flying creatures, and even the sun, moon and stars that were made to appear in the fourth day (Genesis 1:14,15; 2:1; Note: We do not understand Genesis 1:14,15 to mean that the sun, moon and stars, as physical bodies, were created on the fourth day, but that they were made to appear in the heavens as seen from the surface of the earth). We should note further that the word “heavens” can also refer to the spiritual ruling powers that had been set in place by God through Jesus, which heavens — spiritual ruling powers, having come under the control of wicked spirits – is to pass away. — Psalm 102:25; Ezekiel 28:12-15; Matthew 4:8,9; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; Hebrews 1:8,10; 1 John 5:19.
And what about the “beginning” in John 1:1? It is speaking of the beginning of the world of mankind and not the creation of the spirit world or even of the stars and planet systems. (We should take note that there is a single “day” of creation spoken of in Genesis 2:4, which “day” includes the “six days” in which he created the heavens [skies] and the earth [land masses]. — Exodus 20:13; see also Matthew 19:4,5, which refers to the beginning when Adam and Eve were created.) The angels were already in existence in the spirit world at the creation being spoken of. — Job 4:11-17; Mark 10:6.
So we conclude that at the “beginning” spoken of in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1, the angels were already in existence, as well as the LOGOS. Again, by comparing spiritual with spiritual, we find verification for this in the way the word “beginning” is used in the NT, as related to creation.
In Matthew 24:21, Jesus speaks of the “beginning of the world.”
For then will be great oppression, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be.
Is he here speaking of the world of the angels? No, he is speaking of the world of mankind.
Mark 10:6 makes this even clearer:
But from the beginning of the creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
So the beginning of creation here is not the beginning of the creation of the spirit world; the angels — the spirit sons of God — were already in existence at the creation that Jesus spoke of. — Job 38:4-7; see Job 1:6; 2:1.
Let us also notice some usages of the word “creation” (Hebrew, ktisis; Strong’s #2937) that show that it usually (although not always) was used in the NT times to refer to human creation, and not angels, sun, moon, stars, etc.
Mark 16:15 – He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”
The whole creation here does not include the angels, nor the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. The “creation” being spoken of is the human creation. The word translated “whole” in the Greek is “pasee”, a variation of the word “pas”. (Strong’s #3956 — This word is discussed in the latter part of this study.) The usage here further illustrates that “pas” in all its variations does not refer to absolutely everything in the universe. Here it is limited to the human creation, as it is also in John 1:3. It is speaking of the world of mankind into which Jesus came. — John 1:10.
Romans 1:20 – For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.
It should be obvious here that the “world” being spoken of is the visible world — the world of mankind here on earth, and not the invisible world of the angels, etc.
Romans 8:19 – For the creation waits with eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
Romans 8:20 – For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope…
Similarly, it should be apparent that the spirit world is not subjected to the vanity spoken of here, but it is the world of mankind.
Now getting back to the “beginning” spoken of in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, by a comparison of spriritual revealment with spiritual revealment we can see that this beginning is not speaking of everything in the entire universe, but it can be seen to be limited especially to the world of mankind, into which Jesus came. It is of the world of mankind that John speaks of John 1:3 as “panta” — all. TON THEON made the all of the world of mankind, through Jesus, and without him none of this world was made.
However, many read in John 1:3 that not one thing was made without the Logos and thus conclude that the “beginning” in John 1:1 refers to the absolute beginning of everything that was created.
John 1:3 – All things [Greek, panta, Strong’s #3956] were made through [Greek, di, Strong’s #1223] him. Without him was not anything [oude hen, Strong’s #3761, 1520] made that has been made.
The word translated “all things” in the Greek is “panta”. Literally, it means “all.” The word “things” is supplied by translators. The word panta is a variation of the word “pas”. This word always looks to context and common evidence for what should be included and what should not be included. It rarely, if ever, means absolutely everything that exists.
If one were to do a search through the NT occurences of variations of the Greek word “pas”, and try to replace it with “absolutely everything in the universe”, one could see it just does not fit. One can do this by using a Greek transliterated text that can be searched. However, it is easier if one searches for Strong’s #3956. The Westcott & Hort text is available online by which one can do such a search.
Let us look at a few scriptures to demonstrate this principle of evident inclusion and exclusion.
“There went out to him all the country of Judea, and all those [Strong’s 3956] of Jerusalem. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:5) Pantes [a variation of “pas”] is here rendered “all those”. Does this mean that absolutely every person who lived in the country of Judea and in Jerusalem came to John and was baptized by him? Absolutely not.
kai exeporeueto pros auton pasa hee ioudaia
AND WAS GOING THE WAY OUT TOWARD HIM ALL THE JUDEAN
2532 1607 4314 0846_7 3956 3588 2449
chwra kai hoi ierosolumeitai pantes kai
COUNTRY AND THE JERUSALEMITES ALL, AND
5561 2532 3588 2415 3956 2532
ebaptizonto hup autou en tw iordanee potamw
WERE BEING BAPTIZED BY HIM IN THE JORDAN RIVER
0907 5259 0846_3 1722 3588 2446 4215
exomologoumenoi tas hamartias autwn
OPENLY CONFESSING THE SINS OF THEM.
1843 3588 0266 0846_92
Westcott & Hort Interlinear, as obtained from the Bible Students Library DVD
To make greater sense in English, this would be better rendered: “And there went to him those of all the land of Judea, and Jerusalemites. All these were baptized by him in the Jordan River, openly confessing their sins.” The Good News Translation, although it is paraphrased, captures the sense by expressing it: “Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.”
“And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.” (Mark 4:11, King James Version) Here in the KJV, the phrase “ta panta” [literally, ‘the all’] is shown as “all these things”. This is a good example of how qualifiers added by translators may help the reader understand the usage of the word “all”. Not only did the KJV translators add the word “things”, but they also added the word “these”.
“With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all [Strong’s 3956] things which are done here.” (Colossians 4:9) Here it is evident from the context that “all” is limited the things “which are done here.” The word “things” in English is added by the KJV translators.
And then we have the example of the usage of “ta panta” in Hebrews 2:8, where Paul quotes Psalm 8 regarding mankind: “‘You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that he subjected all things to him [man], he left nothing that is not subject to him [man]. But now we don’t see all things subjected to him, yet.” What are the “all things” — ta panta: the all — that was subjected to mankind? Psalm 8:7 answers: “All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field, The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas.” (See Genesis 1:26,28) It is evident that ta panta here does not mean absolutely everything in the universe, but that it includes all the things being spoken of that was subjected to man.
In Colossians 1:20 we read that through Jesus, God is reconciling “all things” [ta panta] to himself, “whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Does this mean that absolutely everything in the universe is out of harmony with God, and thus through Jesus absolutely everything in the universe needs to be reconciled to God? Does this mean that the obedient angels need to be reconciled with God? Does this mean that Satan himself will be reconciled with God? The things that come to peace with God directly through the blood of Jesus is man, first of all the seed of Abraham, and then those take of the waters of life in the millennium. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) However, Jesus and his joint-heirs especially, will not only rule over mankind, but also over the angels — over all dominions, so that eventually all must either repent and come into harmony with God, or else be destroyed. The end result is that all creation then remaining both in heaven and earth that had been out of harmony with God will be reconciled to God, but the point is that the term “all things” does not totally refer to absolutely everything in the universe, since not all things in the universe are out of harmony with God so that they would need to be reconciled.
Therefore, The word panta (as well as all the variations of the Greek pas — Strong’s Greek #3956) is used in connection with what is spoken of, thus all the things of which we are speaking. It does not necessarily mean absolutely everything that exists, else God himself would have to be included.
So we conclude that the word panta (usually translated in John 1:3 as “all things”) and the words “oude hen” (usually translated as “not one thing”) need to be viewed relative to what is being spoken of, that is, the world of mankind into which the Logos came and was not recognized by. (John 1:10; 17:5) The words “things” and “thing” are supplied by the translators. Without adding the supplied word “things” and “thing”, the verse would read: “All through him came to be, and without him not one came to be.”
Now, regarding the phrase “not one thing”. A similar usage may be found in Hebrews 2:8 (already discussed above), in connection with his quotation from Psalm 8:5,6. Paul is referring to the subjection of “all things” to mankind. And then he says “For in that he [God] subjected all things to him [man], he left nothing that is not subject to him.” In saying that God left nothing that is not subject to man, did Paul mean that there is nothing in the whole universe that was not made subject to man? Absolutely, not! Paul is speaking concerning realm of the earth. And this is what can be seen from Psalm 8:6-8:
Psalm 8:6 You make him ruler over the works of your hands. You have put all things under his feet: Psalm 8:7 All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field, Psalm 8:8 The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
Likewise, by context, and from the rest of the scriptures, we can determine that “not one thing” in John 1:3 refers the creation of the world of mankind, not to everything in the universe.
Having all this evidence from what is revealed through the holy spirit in the scriptures, it is our conclusion that the “beginning” spoken of in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 is not pertaining to the angels, nor even to the physical earth, stars and planets; that these were already in existence at the “beginning” spoken of both in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1, and that this beginning refers to the beginning of the world of mankind, as spoken of in John 1:10; 17:5.
(1) Even if you are not sure that you believe in a Creator, there are many things that you know to be true. We can use things that we know to be true to help us arrive at some reasonable conclusions about our Creator.
(2) Yet by using our reason alone, we still cannot arrive at definite conclusions regarding the Creator’s purposes and what he wants us to do. We still could not be sure that our conclusions were correct. What we would need is a direct revelation from our creator.
(3) What, however, can we learn without a direct revelation? If we look into the sky with a telescope, or even with our natural eyes alone, we can see there the immensity of creation, its symmetry, beauty, order, harmony and diversity. We should reasonably be influenced to believe that the Creator of these is vastly our superior both in wisdom and power. — Isaiah 40:26.
(4) Every plant and every flower speaks volumes of testimony on this subject. Their very sight is beautiful. From these we obtain a large diversity of foods and aromas. How reasonable to believe that the Creator provided these things for the benefit of mankind.
(5) But as we study how all these things are made, they tell us even more about how great their Creator must be. With all of mankind’s knowledge, we have not been able to even duplicate these wondrous creations. (Psalm 104:14-24) Certainly these marvels of creations did not just come here by chance. If so, why has not man been able to duplicate these wonders of creation? No, the possibility of all this happening by chance is so small, so tiny, it can only be believed by those who refuse to look at the facts.
Is Evolution the Creator?
(6) Some who deny the existence of an intelligent Creator claim that nature is the only God. They claim that all forms of animal and vegetable life came to be here without the help of any intelligent God or Creator. These usually say all life came to be on the earth in a process they call “evolution.”
(7) According to the theory or idea of evolution, life started as result of spontaneous biogenesis and then somehow developed into a single cell billions or trillions of years ago. This cell split and made another cell. These two cells split and made four cells. These cells kept splitting and making more cells until finally there millions of cells. Somehow, these cells, without the ability to think, decided to join together to form a different kind of life. In time, enough cells joined together to make the small microbes. Then, as millions of years passed, they finally decided to form into fish, then later into birds, dinosaurs, tigers, apes — and last of all — man. According to this theory, this whole process took billions or trillions of years — all without the help of any intelligence at all! (Some who profess Christianity claim to also believe that man evolved from lower animals. See: our publication, The Ransom For All to see why the Bible and the theory of man’s evolution cannot be harmonized.)
(8) The theory of evolution without a creator, however, lacks proof. All about us we see that the various creatures are of fixed kinds — that is, they do not change from their basic animal kinds. They do not evolve to higher kinds. Some scientists have succeeded in producing mutations and crossing some species. But they have never succeeded in bringing forth a completely new fixed kind of animal that is able to reproduce and carry on its own “kind.” No instance is known where one “kind” has changed to another kind. There are fish that can use their fins for a moment as wings, and fly out of the water. There are frogs that can sing. Yet they have never been known to change into birds.
(9) It is true that different types of the same general “kind” or family have come into existence. This has often been referred to as examples of evolution, to which we find no objection to in the Bible. Thus we have different types that belong to the dog family, the cat family, etc. Yet there has been no blending of the various “kinds” to produce a sustainable new “kind.” Nor is there any proof of one kind evolving from another. Surely if unintelligent nature were the creator or evolver she would continue the process. There would be no such thing as fixity of kind, since without intelligence nothing would arrive at fixed conditions. Evolution would be a fact today. We would see about us fish becoming birds, and monkeys becoming men.
(10) It is further claimed that the original plants and animals, from which present varieties came, became extinct millions of years before the arrival of man. Skeletons and fossils of animals and plants which do not now exist, found deep below the earth’s surface are used to support this theory. Scientists have found remains of animals that lived many thousands of years ago. Some bear a resemblance to men. However, the evidence is wholly lacking that man was evolved from such creatures, or that these creatures came from a common ancestor of man. Additionally, there is no way to determine factually how old any of these fossils are. Nor is there any genuine evidence from the fossils found that one kind evolved into another kind. Many scientists admit that the evidence of the fossil record for evolution is extremely sparse. For more information regarding evolution, see our Creation and the Bible subdomain.
(11) Back of all the intricate machinery of the laws of creation is the hand of its great Author, the intelligent, omnipotent Creator. We conclude, then, that the theory of evolution without a Creator is not reasonable. Additionally, it contradicts the Bible when it claims that intelligent beings came into existence by a power not having intelligence.
(12) We maintain, then, that the existence of an intelligent creator is a clearly demonstrated truth. The proof lies all around us. Additionally, our own bodies supply verification of his workmanship. Every power of our minds and bodies speaks of a marvelous skill beyond our comprehension. (Psalm 19:1; 139:14-16; Hebrews 3:4) And he is also the designer and creator of what is termed the laws of the universe. We contend that our Creator ordered and established these laws. Despite the few irregularities they note, even atheistic scientists stand in awe at the beauty and harmony seen in the operation these laws. (Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; Psalm 19:1) Certainly the Bible is correct in attributing the creation of the heavens, moon, stars and man to God. — Psalm 8:1,3-5.
(13) Nonetheless, when one realizes the existence of this mighty God he may feel dread because of his omnipotent strength. Thus we need more than just realizing his existence. We need to have assurance that he possesses qualities of love and goodness to equal his power. Of this fact we are also fully assured by the same evidence which proves his existence, power and wisdom.
(14) Reasonably we judge that the grandest thing created is not superior to its Creator. Hence we conclude that the greatest manifestation of benevolence and justice among men is inferior in scope to that of the Creator, even as man’s wisdom and power are inferior to his. And consequently we have before our mental vision the personal attributes of the great Creator. We project that he is wise, just, loving and powerful. We further reason that the scope of his attributes are immeasurably wider than that of his grandest creation.
(15) We have now shown that it is feasible to conclude that God exists. We have additionally shown what we can reasonably accept concerning his attributes. Now one might inquire: “What should we expect of such a being?” Should he decide to use his power to create, would he not use his power of creation in harmony with his own nature — wisely, justly and benevolently? Regardless of the means to that end, would not the final outcome be consistent with his nature and personality? Would not every step be approved of his infinite wisdom? What could be more reasonable than such exercise of power as we see manifested in the creation of the countless stars, and galaxies in the universe, and in the wonderful variety of earth? What could be more reasonable than the creation of man, endowed with reason and judgment, capable of appreciating his Creator’s works, and judging of his skill — of his wisdom, justice, power and love? All this is reasonable, and all in perfect accord with facts known to us.
Provision of a Revelation
(16) Would not a wise and good Creator be moved by his love and justice to supply the wants of his creature’s nature by giving him some revelation? Would it not be a reasonable supposition that God would supply to man information concerning the object of his existence, and his plans for his future? On the contrary, we ask, would it not be unreasonable to suppose otherwise? Would such a being make such a creature as man, endow him with powers of reason reaching out into the future, and yet make no revelation of his plans to meet those longings? Such a course would be unreasonable, because contrary to the personality which we have reasonably attributed to God. It would be contrary to the proper course of being controlled by justice and love.
(17) Suppose that the Creator decided it not wise to grant his creatures a knowledge of his future destiny or his share in the Creator’s plans. Then surely divine justice, as well as divine love, would not want his creatures to be continually tormented and perplexed with doubts, fears, etc. Thus the Creator would have insisted that his creatures should be limited in his capacity to reason. Power would have been used under those limitations.
(18) However, man has capacity for appreciating a revelation of the Creator’s plans and purposes. Therefore we reason that the Creator’s personal qualities would see to it that man should receive such a revelation. Accordingly, we have abundant reason for expecting that our creator would grant such a revelation, in such time and manner as his wisdom approved. So, then, in view of these considerations, even if we were ignorant of the Bible, reason would lead us to expect and to be on the lookout for some such revelation as the Bible claims to be. And furthermore, we note the order and harmony of the general creation. We see the grand procession the spheres and systems keep time and place.
(19) Yet there are irregularities that seem to mar the harmony and order of the universe. On earth, we have earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and many other erratic disturbances that upsets the tranquility of creation. In space, scientists tell us of many other irregularities. We reasonably conclude that these minor irregularities are being permitted only temporarily. We reason that the elements of the world at present are responding to the same outworking of the Creator’s plan that will eventually benefit all his creatures. Thus we expect some assurance that all will ultimately be perfect and harmonious on earth and throughout the universe. We further expect some explanation as to why it is not so at the present. These are requests which are not unreasonable for reasoning men to ask. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that a loving and wise Creator would provide answers to these questions. Hence we should expect the revelation sought to include such an assurance and such an explanation.
(20) We will now begin an examination of the general attributes of the Bible which claims to be just such a revelation. We will want to see if it presents the personality of God in perfect harmony with what we have reasonably concluded. If so, we should conclude that it thus proves itself to be the needed and expected revelation from God, and should then accept its testimony as such. If the Bible is of God, we should find that its teachings, when fully appreciated, will be seen in perfect harmony with the creator’s attributes of wisdom, justice, love and power.
(21) No other book in the world has been given such a wide circulation as the Bible. Its influence for good in society has been recognized by the greatest statesmen, even though they for the most part have looked at it through the diverse glasses of popular beliefs and traditions. Traditional Christianity has, for the most part, claimed to believe in the Bible. Yet their traditions grossly misrepresent its teachings. Thus these “friends” of the Bible often do more harm than those who outright oppose the Bible. But the Bible tells of a time when all, both its friends and foes, “will come to understanding.” And “those who murmured will learn doctrine,” thus bringing vindication to the Deity of the Bible! — Isaiah 29:24
(22) We have shown that the light of creation leads us to expect a fuller revelation of God than that which creation supplies. Therefore, what would be the reasonable thing to do? If a book shows a reasonable surface evidence that it is a divine revelation, should we not be prepared to examine its claims? The Bible claims to be such a revelation from God. Additionally it does come to us with sufficient surface evidence as to the probable correctness of its claims. This gives us a reasonable hope that a closer investigation will disclose more complete and positive evidence that it is indeed the Word of God.
The Oldest Book
(23) The first book of the Bible, Genesis, contains the earliest known writings. Its opening chapters were written over 6,000 years ago. Through the centuries men have endeavored by every means to abolish the Bible from the face of the earth. They have hidden it, burned it, and even made it a crime punishable with death to have it in possession. The most bitter and relentless persecutions have been waged against those who had faith it. Yet still the book lives. Today many of its foes slumber in death. Hundreds of volumes that have been written to discredit it and to overthrow its influence have long since been forgotten. Nonetheless, the Bible has found its way into every nation and language of earth. At least part of it exists in over 1,300 languages. The fact that this book has survived so many centuries, notwithstanding such unparalleled efforts to banish and destroy it, is at least strong circumstantial evidence that the great Being whom it claims as its Author has also been its Preserver.
(24) The Bible is not a book to be read merely. It is a book to be studied with care and thought. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8,9) And if we really want to understand the plan and thoughts of the infinite God, we must bend all our energies to that important work. The richest treasures of truth do not always lie on the surface. They require rugged digging in order to obtain. — Proverbs 2:3-5.
(25) This book throughout constantly points to two persons. The first is, of course, the Creator Himself. The general theme of the Bible is that God will be vindicated before all creation when his glory is revealed to them. (Isaiah 40:5) All the events recorded in the Bible are related in some way to this eventual end. To this end we are taught to pray: “Your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) God himself will vindicate his own name. — Ezekiel 36:23.
(26) The Bible tells us, however, that “there are many gods.” (1 Corinthians 8:5) This is in accord with the facts, for no matter where you go on earth, you find people worshiping “gods” in some form or another. There are “gods” worshiped in the form of Buddha, Brahma, Allah, and many other names. The people who adhere to these “gods” use many writings believed to be divine revelations from their own “gods”. In professed “Christian” lands millions claim to know the true God, whom they refer as “the Lord”. But, if we believe the Bible, then very few of these “believers” in various gods have actually come to know the true God. (Matthew 7:13,14,21-23) Both in and out of popular Christianity, the true God is still to them an “unknown God”. (Acts 17:23) They have not understood the Creator’s purposes and have proclaimed counterfeit gospel messages.
(27) Instead of seeking to worship in “spirit and truth”, popular Christianity has adopted false teachings and practices from the Greeks and Romans and proclaim them as “Christian”. (John 4:24) True, thousands profess Jesus as their savior. But of these thousands, very few take the time to learn the real purposes of their Creator. The traditions taken from the Greeks and Romans are so embellished with scripture quotations, that the vast majority accept them without further investigation. As a result, their worship becomes “in vain.” They are like the religious people of Jesus’ day, to whom he said: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you, saying: ‘This people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:8,9) Such as these, despite all their protestations to contrary, have not yet come to fully understand the true gospel, nor the God who reveals this gospel to us.
(28) The first part of the Bible, often called “Old Testament,” was originally written in the Hebrew language. God’s personal name in the Hebrew is spelled with four letters (Yod – He – Waw -He) that correspond with the English letters YHWH or JHVH. Bible Scholars often refer to the four letters that make up God’s name as the tetragrammaton. This personal name of God appears thousands of times in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. Additionally some fragments of ancient Greek manuscripts of earlier editions of the Greek Septuagint Bible show that they also contained God’s name.
(29) Many Bible scholars translate the Creator’s name into English as “Yahweh” or “Jahveh.” Others use the form “Jehovah”. Most Bible translations, however, substitute “the Lord” or “God” for God’s name, making it appear that His name is “the Lord” or “God.” But there is no scripture that tells us to change His Holy Name to “Lord” or “God”.
(30) “Jehovah” does not mean “the Lord” nor does it mean “God.” “Lord” and “God” are titles, not the proper name of God. Thus Isaiah 42:8 should be translated: “I am Jehovah, that is my name.” Likewise, everywhere that the King James Version (as well as many other translations) has “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, it should be rendered “Jehovah.” Thus anytime we see in this and many other translations “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, the only proper thing to do would be reinstate the divine name by reading these as “Jehovah.”
(31) While we may not know for sure the correct pronunciation as God Himself stated it in the Hebrew,Â the scriptures do declare that Jehovah was angry with the Israelites for taking away his name for that of Baal, which means “Lord” or “the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:13,14; 11:13,14; 23:13,27 – remember that “the Lord” in all capital letters should be read as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”.* (See Note 1) The Hebrew word for “Jehovah” means “He is”, He will be”, “He causes to be,” or “He proves to be.” His name is considered important all through the Bible, especially as related to His being found to be true to His Word. — Ezekiel 12:25; Isaiah 14:24; 55:11; 2 Timothy 2:13.
*See Psalm 83:18, Exodus 6:3, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4 in the King James Version where the tetragrammaton is translated as Jehovah. For more details, see our studies on the Holy Name.
(32) Earlier we mentioned that Jehovah will sanctify his own name. The sanctification or vindication of Jehovah’s name means more than that just the word used as his personal name will be made known. It means that his name (his character and authority) will be cleared of all the falsehoods and lies that have been spread about him since mankind’s fall as recorded in the first few chapters of the Bible. In fact, this is what all creation has been unknowingly waiting and longing for as they grope blindly, because not aware of Jehovah’s purposes. (Romans 8:19; Jeremiah 4:22; Isaiah 59:10) The entire Bible is intended for the revealing of this One to those who are truly seeking him. — Proverbs 8:17; 2 Corinthians 4:13-15.
(33) Besides Jehovah, another person is given great prominence in the Bible. This is the one commonly called Jesus* (His name has been rendered many ways into English: Yahowshuwa, Yahshua, Joshua, Jeshua, Iesous) of Nazareth,” whom the Bible declares to be the Son of God, the son of the Most High. (Luke 1:32,35; 3:21,22) From beginning to end his name, and office, and work, are made prominent in the Bible. Writers outside of the Bible confirm that a man called Jesus of Nazareth lived. The fact that Jesus walked this earth is thus corroborated by historical documents. Concerning this Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia 1986 Edition) states: “Scholars generally agree that his existence is authenticated, both by New Testament writers and by a number of Roman and Jewish historians.” The “New Testament” Bible writers (except Paul and Luke) were the personal acquaintances and disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, whose doctrines their writings set forth.
*Some have argued that the name of the Son of God is sacred and should be written “Yahshua.” Others have argued that “Yeshua” or “Yahoshua” is the correct manner for writing the Saviors name. Still others have claimed even different ways of writing and expressing this name.Â We believe that it is more important to recognize the personage behind the word than to spend hours upon hours trying to prove this or that spelling or pronunciation in English as supposedly representing an original Hebrew pronunciation. The person is still the same whether we pronounce his name Jesus, Yahshua, or Yeshua. Linguists tell us that these are variations of the same name, rather than different names. For more information, see our study: The Name of Messiah.
Motives of the Bible Writers
(34) The existence of any book implies motive on the part of the writer. We therefore ask: “What could have been the motives of these men that they would feel inspired to give all their support to the cause of Jesus?” He was condemned to death and hung on a tree as a criminal at the instigation of the Jews. Even the most religious among his people approved of and demanded his death. They considered him as one unfit to live. But his followers took up his cause, and spread his teachings. In doing so, these men braved contempt, deprivation and bitter persecution. They even risked life itself, and in some cases suffered martyrdom. Many admit that Jesus was a remarkable person while he lived, in both his life and his teaching. Yet what motive could there have been for any to defend his cause after he was dead, especially when his death was considered so shameful?
(35) And what if we suppose that these writers invented their narratives, and that Jesus was their imaginary or ideal hero? Let us consider this. These writers declared that Jesus was the Son of God and that he had been begotten in a supernatural way. (Luke 1:30-35) They asserted that he had supernatural powers by which he had healed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused the deaf to hear, and even raised the dead. (Matthew 9:27-34; 12:22; 11:2-5; Luke 5:17-25; 6:6-10; 7:11-16; 8:43,44; 13:11-13; 17:12-14; John 5:5-9) How absurd to suppose that they would wind up the story of such a person by stating that a little band of his enemies executed him as a criminal! Wouldn’t it be senseless for them to have all his friends and disciples, among them the writers themselves, forsake their hero and flee in the trying moment? — Matthew 26:47-27:61; Mark 14:43-15:47; Luke 22:47-23:56; John 18:2-19:42.
(36) The fact that certain historians do not agree in some respects with these writers should not lead us to regard their records as untrue. Those who dismiss these scriptures as untrue should assign and prove some motive on the part of these writers for making false statements. What motives could have prompted them? Could they reasonably have hoped thereby for fortune, or fame, or power, or any earthly advantage? The poverty of Jesus friends, and the unpopularity of their hero himself with the great religionists of Judea, contradict such a thought. Indeed, the fact that he died as a common criminal, a seditious disturber of the peace, and that he was made of no reputation, held forth no hope of enviable fame or earthly advantage to those who should attempt to re-establish his doctrine. On the contrary, if such had been the object of those who preached Jesus, would they not have quickly given it up when they found that it brought disgrace, persecution, imprisonment, stripes and even death? What prompted these men to sacrifice home, reputation, honor and life? What caused them to live for something other than present gratification? Why did they risk all to tell others about their God, and to aid their fellowman to worship Him, thus inculcating a high standard for doing what is right?
(37) Reason would have us conclude that these men were not only possessed of a motive, but further that their motive must have been pure and their object grandly sublime. Reason further declares that the testimony of such men, actuated by only pure and good motives, is worthy of ten times the weight and consideration of ordinary writers. Nor were these men irrational religious fanatics. They were men of sound and reasonable mind. They furnished in every case a reason for their faith and hope. They were perseveringly faithful to those reasonable convictions.
(38) And what we have here noticed is likewise applicable to the various writers of the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called “The Old Testament”). They were, in the main, men notable for their fidelity to Jehovah. Their writings as impartially records and reproves their weaknesses and shortcomings as it commends their virtues and faithfulness. This must astonish those who presume the Bible to be a manufactured history, designed to awe men into reverence of a religious system. There is a straightforwardness about the Bible that stamps it as truth. Evil-minded men would desire to represent a man as great. If desirous of presenting some of his writings as inspired of God, he would undoubtedly paint such an individual’s personality blameless and noble to the last degree. Such a course has not been pursued in the Bible. This is reasonable evidence that it was not fraudulently gotten up to deceive.
Tithing Under the Law – Was It Fair?
(39) Someone might ask: “Doesn’t the law concerning the tithe prove that the priesthood was a selfish institution?” It is true that the tribe of Levi was supported by the annual tenth, or tithe, of the individual produce of their brothers of the other tribes. This fact, stated thus, is an unfair presentation too common to skeptics. These, possibly ignorantly, thereby misrepresent one of the most remarkable evidences of God’s part in the organization of that system, and that it was not the work of a selfish and scheming priesthood. Indeed, it is often misrepresented by modern clerical priesthoods. Many religious leaders claim a similar system today, using the Israelite priesthood as a precedent, without mentioning the condition of things upon which it was founded, or its method of payment.
(40) It was, in fact, founded upon the strictest equity. When Israel came into the possession of the land of Canaan, the Levites certainly had as much right to a share of the land as the other tribes. But, by God’s express command, they got none of it, except certain cities or villages for residence, scattered among the various tribes, whom they were to serve in religious things. (Numbers 35:2-8) Nine times this prohibition is given before the division of the land. Instead of a share in the land, some equivalent should surely be provided them, and the tithe was therefore this reasonable and just provision. Nor is this all: the tithe, though, as we have seen, a just debt, was not enforced as a tax, but was to be paid as a voluntary contribution. And no threat bound them to make those contributions; all depended upon their conscientiousness. The only exhortations to the people on the subject are as follows: “Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 12:19) “And the Levite who is within your gates, you must not forsake him, for he does not have any part nor inheritance with you [in the land].” — Deuteronomy 14:27.
Israel’s Laws Came From Jehovah
(41) Is it, we ask, reasonable to suppose that this order of things would have been thus arranged by selfish and ambitious priests? — an arrangement to disinherit themselves and to make them dependent for support upon their brothers? Does not reason teach us contrary?
(42) In harmony with this, and equally inexplicable on any other grounds than those claimed — that God is the author of those laws — is the fact that no special provision was made for honoring the priesthood. In nothing would impostors be more careful than to provide reverence and respect for themselves, and the severest penalties and curses upon those who misused them. But nothing of the kind appears: no special honor, or reverence, or immunity from violence or insult is provided. The common law, which made no distinction between classes, and was no respecter of persons, was their only protection. This is even more remarkable because the treatment of servants, and foreigners, and the aged, was the subject of special legislation. For instance: “You must not mistreat nor oppress a foreigner, or widow, or fatherless child; for if they should cry at all to me [to Jehovah] I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:21-24; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33,34) “You must not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers, or one of the foreigners that are in your land, within you gates. For his day you must give him his wages, neither should you allow the sun to go down upon it, for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you unto Jehovah and it becomes a sin to you.” (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14,15; Exodus 21:26,27) “You should rise up before the greyheaded and honor the face of the elderly.” (Leviticus 19:32; see also Leviticus 29:14) All this, yet nothing special for the priests, or Levites, or their tithes.
Compared to Hammurabi’s Code
(43) Some, however, point to the law code of King Hammurabi of Babylon as the supposed actual source of the laws given by Moses. Hammurabi is believed to have lived about 150 years before Moses wrote the laws of Israel. There are several authors that point to Genesis 26:5, in which Jehovah states: “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” It is argued that this scripture indicates that God had given a set of laws to someone long before Hammurabi or Mosaic Law Covenant. If so, then the suggestion is given that Hammurabi, or Hammurabi’s ancestors, actually copied from God’s earlier given law. Far from being merely copied from Hammurabi’s code, the Mosaic law stands far superior to those of Hammurabi. Concerning this the noted Frend Orientalist Joseph Plessis wrote: “It does not appear that the Hebrew legislator made any use of the various codes of Babylonia and Assyria. Nothing in his work can be proved to have been borrowed. Although there are interesting similarities, they are not such that they cannot be easily explained by the codifying of customs shared by people with a common origin.” (Supple’ment au Dictionnaire de la Bible) Also W. J. Martin tells us: “Despite many resemblances, there is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylonian. Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit. For example, in the Hammurabi Code, theft and receiving stolen goods were punished by the death penalty (Laws 6 and 22), but in Israel’s laws the punishment was compensation. (Exodus 22:1; Leviticus 6:1-5) Whereas the Mosaic law forbade handing over an escaped slave to his master (Deuteronomy 23:15,16), the Babylonian laws punished by death anyone taking in a fugitive slave. — Laws 15,16,19.” — Documents from Old Testament Times
(44) Further, the Code of Hammurabi would have one display a spirit of retaliation, whereas the Hebrew law tells us: “You must not hate your brother in your heart…. You must not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am Jehovah.” — Leviticus 19:17,18
Some thoughts presented by others related to this (we do not necessarily agree with all conclusions given by the authors):
Jehovah’s Law A Marvelous
Arrangement of Wisdom and Justice
(45) The sanitary arrangements of the law, so needful to a poor and long-oppressed people, together with the arrangements and limitations respecting clean and unclean animals which might or might not be eaten, are remarkable, and would, with other features, be of interest if space permitted their examination, as showing that law to have been up-to-date with, if not in advance of, the latest conclusions of medical science on the subject. The law of Moses had also a typical nature, which we must leave for future consideration; but even our hasty glance has furnished overwhelming evidence that this law, which constitutes the very framework of the entire system of revealed religion, which the remainder of the Bible elaborates, is truly a marvelous display of wisdom and justice, especially when its date is taken into consideration.
(46) In the light of reason, all must admit that the Hebrew law bears no evidence of being the work of wicked, designing men, but that it corresponds exactly with what nature teaches to be the personal qualities of God. It gives evidence of his wisdom, justice and love. And further, the godly and noble lawgiver, Moses, denies that the laws were his own, and attributes them to Jehovah. (Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 9:9-11; Exodus 26:30; Leviticus 1:1) In view of his general personality, and his commands to the people not to bear false witness, and to avoid hypocrisy and lying, is it reasonable to suppose that such a man bore false witness and palmed off his own views and laws for those of Jehovah? It should be remembered also that we are examining present Hebrew “copies” of the Bible. Therefore the integrity for which it is so marked applies equally to the successors of Moses. Though bad men were among those successors, who did seek their own and not the people’s good, it is evident that they did not tamper with the Hebrew Sacred Writings, which remain pure to this day, as demonstrated by a system of Biblical Numerics.
The Prophets of the Bible
(47) Glance now at the general personality of the prophets and their testimonies. A rather remarkable fact is that the prophets, with few exceptions, were not of the priestly class. In their day their prophecies were generally repugnant to the degenerating and time-serving priesthood, as well as to the people who were inclined to indulge in the gaiety of idol worship. The burden of the prophets’ messages from God to the people was generally reproof for sin, coupled with warnings of coming punishments. Along with this, however, we find occasional promises of future blessings, if the people would repent from sin and should return to the favor of Jehovah. The experiences of the prophets, for the most part, were far from enviable. They were generally reviled. Many of them were imprisoned and put to violent deaths. (See 1 Kings 18:4,10,17,18; 19:10; Jeremiah 38:6; Hebrews 11:32-38.) In some instances it was years after their death before their true integrity as God’s prophets was recognized. But we speak thus of the prophetic writers whose utterances claim to be the direct inspiration of Jehovah.
The prophets were not primarily foretellers of events or historical soothsayers but rather foretellers of God’s will, teachers of His Word, statesmen for leading His people. They boldly proclaimed divine judgment and faithfully reminded the people of God’s promises. A prophet in his primary role was one who passed a message from God to man (Exodus 7:1; Ezekiel 3:4; Amos 3:8). He did not attain his position by heredity, as did a king or priest, or by human appointment, as did an official, but only by receiving a message from God with instructions to deliver that divine message. In other words, the designation “prophet” is one of function instead of position. Thus, a king or priest or government official could perform prophetically (Exodus 3:10; Judges 6:14). The primary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi. Though its etymology is unknown, the meaning of the word is abundantly clear in its usage. The word is usually masculine in gender; however, its feminine form (nebiah) usually indicates a woman who receives and delivers a divine message (cf. Judges 4:4-6; 2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-28). — from The Criswell Bible (KJV), comments on Numbers 11:29 (We have expanded names of the Bible books in scriptural citations to aid in searches).
(48) It is well in this connection that we should remember that in the giving of the law to Israel there was no priestly intervention. It was given by God to the people by the hand of Moses. (Exodus 19:17-25; Deuteronomy 5:1-5) And, furthermore, it was made the duty of every man seeing a violation of the law to reprove the sinner. (Leviticus 19:17) Thus all had the authority to teach and reprove. But, since, as in our own day, the majority were absorbed in the cares of business, and became indifferent and irreligious, only a few fulfilled this requirement by reproving sin and exhorting to godliness. These preachers are termed “prophets” in both the Law and the Prophets (commonly called the “Old Testament”) as well as the Apostolic Scriptures (commonly called the “New Testament”). The term prophet, as generally used, signifies public expounder, and the public teachers of idolatry were also so called — for instance, “the prophets of Baal,” etc. — See 1 Corinthians 14:1-6; 2 Peter 2:1; Matthew 7:15; 14:5; Nehemiah 6:7; 1 Kings 18:40; Titus 1:12.
(49) Prophesying, in the ordinary sense of teaching, afterward became popular with a certain class, and degenerated into Phariseeism. This order taught, instead of or as in extension of God’s commandments, the traditions of the ancients. In doing so they opposed the truth and became false prophets, or false teachers. (Matthew 15:2-9) Out of the large class called prophets, Jehovah at various times made choice of some whom he specially commissioned to deliver messages, relating sometimes to things then at hand, at other times to future events. It is to the writings of this class who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit, that we are now giving attention.
Divinely Commissioned Prophets or Seers
(50) We should note that most of these prophets were not Levites. They did not receive support from the tithes of the priestly tribe. Additionally, they were frequently not only the reprovers of kings and judges, but also of priests (though they reproved not the office, but the personal sins of the men who filled it). Therefore it becomes evident that we could not reasonably decide that these prophets were parties to any league of priests, or others, to fabricate falsehood in the name of God. Reason in the light of facts contradicts such a suspicion.
(51) We find no reason to challenge the motives of the various writers of the Bible. We find that the spirit of its various parts is righteousness and truth. Consequently let us next proceed to inquire whether there exists any link, or bond of union, between the records of Moses, those of the other prophets, and those of the disciples of Jesus. Can we find one common line of thought as a connecting theme throughout the Law and the Prophets and the Apostolic Scriptures which cover a period of more than 2,000 years? If so, this, taken in connection with the honesty of the writers, will be good reason for admitting their claim — that they are divinely inspired. Particularly should this be true if the theme common to all of them is a grand and noble one, conforming well with what sanctified common sense teaches regarding the personal qualities and attributes of God.
One Plan, Spirit and Purpose
(52) This we do find: One plan, spirit, aim and purpose pervades the entire book. Its opening pages record the creation and fall of man; its closing pages tell of man’s recovery from that fall; and its intervening pages show the successive steps of the plan of God for the accomplishment of this purpose. The harmony, yet contrast, of the first three and the last three chapters of the Bible is striking. The one describes the first creation, the other the renewed or restored creation, with sin and its penal-curse removed. The one shows Satan and evil entering the world to profane God’s name, deceive and destroy, the other shows his work undone, the destroyed ones restored, God vindicated, evil extinguished and Satan destroyed. The one shows the dominion lost by Adam, the other shows it restored and forever established by Christ, and God’s will done in earth as in heaven. The one shows sin as the producing cause of degradation, shame and death, the other shows the reward of righteousness to be glory, honor and life.
(53) Though written by many pens, at various times, under different circumstances, the Bible is not merely a collection of moral precepts, wise maxims and words of comfort. It is more — it is a reasonable, logical and harmonious statement of the causes of present evil in the world. It shows the only remedy for this evil and the final results as seen by divine wisdom and love, which saw the end of the plan from before its beginning, marking as well the pathway of God’s people, and upholding and strengthening them with exceeding great and precious promises to be realized in due time.
(54) The teaching of Genesis, that man was tried in a state of original perfection in one representative, that he failed, and that the present imperfection, sickness and death are the results, but that God has not forsaken him, and will ultimately recover him through a redeemer, born of a woman (Genesis 3:15), is kept up and elaborated all the way through. The necessity of the death of a redeemer as a sacrifice for sins, and of his righteous blood as a covering for our sin, is pointed out in the clothing of skins for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21); in the acceptance of Abel’s offerings (Genesis 4:3,4); in Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1-18); in the death of the various sacrifices by which the patriarchs had access to God, and of those instituted under the Law and perpetuated throughout the Jewish age (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:14; Numbers 19:2; Hebrews 9:7-14). The prophets, though credited with understanding but slightly the significance of some their utterances (1 Peter 1:12), mention the laying of the sins upon a person instead of a dumb animal, and in prophetic vision they see him who is to redeem and deliver the race led “as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7), that “the chastisement of our peace was upon him,” and the “by his stripes we are healed.” They pictured him as “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” and declared that “Jehovah has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6) They told where this deliverer would be born (Micah 5:2), and when he would die, assuring us that it would be “not for himself.” (Daniel 9:26) They mention various peculiarities concerning him — that he would be “righteous,” and “free from deceit,” “violence,” or any just cause of death (Isaiah 53:8,9,11); that he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12); that he would be numbered among the transgressors in his death (Isaiah 53:12); that not one of his bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:36); and that though he should die and be buried, his flesh would not corrupt, neither would he remain in the grave. — Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31.
(55) The writers of the Christian Scriptures clearly and forcibly, yet simply, record the fulfillment of these predictions in Jesus of Nazareth, and by logical reasonings show that such a ransom price as he gave was needful, as already predicted in the Law and the Prophets, before the sins of the world could be blotted out. (Isaiah 1:18) They trace the entire plan in a more logical and forcible manner, appealing neither to the prejudices nor to the passions of their hearers, but their enlightened reason alone, furnishing some of the most remarkably close and cogent reasoning to be found anywhere on the subject. — See Romans 5:17-19, and onward to the 12th chapter.
(56) Moses, in the Law, pointed not alone to a sacrifice, but also to a blotting out of sins and a blessing of the people under this great deliverer, whose power and authority he declares shall vastly exceed his own, though it should be “like unto” it. (Deuteronomy 18:15,19) The promised deliverer is to bless not only Israel, but through Israel “all the families of the earth.” (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4) And notwithstanding the prejudices of the Jewish people to the contrary, the prophets continue the same strain, declaring that Messiah will be also “for a light to lighten the nations” (Isaiah 49:6; Luke 2:32); that the nations would come to him “from the ends of the earth” (Jeremiah 16:19); that his name “will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11); and that he “will be a light to the nations” and he “will set justice in the earth.” —- Isaiah 42:1-7.
(57) The writers of the Christian Scriptures claim a divine anointing which enabled them to realize the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the sacrifice of Christ. They, though prejudiced as Jews to think of every blessing as limited to their own people (Acts 11:1-18), were enabled to see that while their nation would be blessed, all the families of the earth would be blessed also, with and through them. They saw also that, before the blessing of either Israel or the world, a selection would be made of a small number from both Jews and Gentiles, who, being tried, would be found worthy to be made heirs of the glory, and sharers with him of the honor of blessing Israel and all the nations. —- Galatians 3:29; Acts 3:20-26; Romans 8:17-23.
(58) These writers point out the harmony of this view with what is written in the Law and the Prophets. The grandeur and breadth of the plan they present more than meets the most exalted conception of what it purports to be —- “Good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.” —- Luke 2:10.
(59) The thought of Messiah as ruler not only of Israel, but also of the world, suggested in the books of Moses, is the theme of all the prophets. The thought of the kingdom was uppermost also in the teaching of the apostles; and Jesus taught that we should pray: “Your kingdom come,” (Matthew 6:10) and promised those a share in it who would faithfully carry out his words — Galatians 4:29; 1 John 2:3-6.
(60) This hope of the coming glorious kingdom gave all the faithful ones courage to endure persecution and to suffer reproach, deprivation and loss, even unto death. And in the grand allegorical prophecy which closes the Christian Scriptures, the worthy “Lamb that was slain” (Revelation 5:12), the worthy “overcomers” whom he will make kings and priests with him in his kingdom, and the trials and obstacles which they must overcome to be worthy to share in that kingdom, are faithfully portrayed. Then are introduced symbolic representations of the blessings to accrue to the world under that Millennial reign, when Satan will be bound and Adamic death and sorrow wiped out, and when all the nations of the earth will walk in the light of the heavenly kingdom —- the new Jerusalem. —- Revelation 21, 22.
(61) The Bible, from first to last, holds out a doctrine found nowhere else, and in opposition to the theories of all the world’s religions — that a future life for the dead will come through a resurrection of the dead as a result of having been purchased through one ransom sacrifice that covers all who are dyingÂ due to the sin of one man. (John 5:27,28; Acts 24:15; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; Revelation 20) All the inspired writers expressed their confidence in a redeemer, and one declares that “in the morning,” when God will call them from the tomb, and they come forth, the wicked will no longer hold the rulership of the earth; for “The upright will have dominion over them, in the morning.” (Psalm 49:14) The resurrection of the dead is taught by the prophets; and the writers of the Christian Scriptures base all their hopes of future life and blessing upon it. Paul expresses it thus: “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen; and if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain; … then they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept; … for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ will all be made alive.” —- 1 Corinthians 15:13-22
(62) Like a watch, whose many wheels might at first seem superfluous, but whose slowest moving wheels are essential, so the Bible, composed of many parts, and prepared by many pens, is one complete and harmonious whole. Not a single part is superfluous. Though some parts take a more active and prominent place than others, all are useful and necessary. It is becoming popular among the so-called “advanced thinkers” and “great theologians” of the present day to treat lightly, or to ignore if they do not deny, many of the “miracles” of the Hebrew Scriptures, calling them “old wives’ tales.” Of these are the accounts of Jonah and the great fish, Noah and the ark, Eve and the serpent, the standing still of the sun at the command of Joshua, and Balaam’s speaking donkey. Seemingly these wise men overlook the fact that the Bible is interwoven and united in its various parts that to tear from it these miracles, or to discredit them, is to destroy or discredit the whole. For if the original accounts are false, those who repeated them were either falsifiers or dupes, and in either case it would be impossible for us to accept their testimony as divinely inspired. To eliminate from the Bible the miracles mentioned would invalidate the testimony of its principal writers, besides that of our Lord Jesus. The story of the fall is attested by Paul (Romans 5:17); also Eve’s deception by the serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14). (See also our Lord’s reference to the latter in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2.) The standing still of the sun at the overthrow of the Amorites, as an evidence of Jehovah’s power, was evidently typical of the power to be displayed in the end of the age, in “the day of Jehovah,” at the hand of him whom Joshua typified. This is attested by three prophets. (Isaiah 28:21; Habakkuk 2:1-3,13,14 and 3:2-11; Zechariah 14:1,6,7) The account of the speaking donkey is confirmed by Jude (verse 11), and by Peter (2 Peter 2:16). And the great teacher, Jesus, confirms the narratives of Jonah and the great fish and of Noah and the flood. (Matthew 12:40; 24:38,39; Luke 17:26; See also 1 Peter 3:20.) Really these are no greater miracles than those performed by Jesus and the apostles, such as the turning of water into wine, the healing of diseases, etc.; and as a miracle, the awakening of the dead is the most wonderful of all.
(63) These miracles, not common to our everyday experience, do find parallels about us every day, which being more common, are passed by unnoticed. The reproduction of living organisms, either animal or vegetable, is beyond our comprehension, as well as beyond our power —- hence miraculous. We can see the exercise of life principle, but can neither fully understand it nor produce it. We plant two seeds side by side; the conditions, air, water and soil are alike; they grow, we cannot tell exactly how, nor can the wisest philosopher or scientist truly explain this miracle. These seeds develop organisms of opposite tendencies; one creeps, the other stands erect; though the conditions are the same. Such miracles grow common to us, and we cease to remember them as such as we leave the wonderment of childhood. Yet they manifest a power as much beyond our own, and beyond our limited intelligence, as the few miracles recorded in the Bible for special purposes, and as intended illustrations of omnipotence, and of the ability of the great Creator to overcome every obstacle and to accomplish all his will, even to our promised resurrection from the dead, the extermination of evil, and the ultimate reign of everlasting righteousness.
(64) Here we rest the case. Every step has been tested by reason. We have found that there is a God, a supreme, intelligent Creator, in whom wisdom, justice, love and power exist in perfect harmony. We have found it reasonable to expect a revelation of his plans to his creatures capable of appreciating and having an interest in them. We have found the Bible, claiming to be that revelation, worthy of consideration. We have examined its writers, and their possible objects, in the light of what they taught. Our reason has told us that such wisdom, combined with such purity of motive, was not the cunning device of crafty men for selfish ends. Reason has urged that it is far more probable that such righteous and benevolent sentiments and laws must be of God and not of men, and has insisted that they could not be the work of knavish priests. We have seen the harmony of testimony concerning Jesus, his ransom-sacrifice, and the resurrection and blessing of all as the outcome, in his glorious kingdom to come; and reason has told us that a scheme so grand and comprehensive, beyond all we could otherwise have reason to expect, yet built upon such reasonable deductions, must be the plan of God for which we seek. It cannot be the mere device of men, for even when revealed, it is almost too grand to be believed by men.
(65) When Columbus discovered the Orinoco river, some one said he had found an island. He replied: “No such river as that flows from an island. That mighty torrent must drain the waters of a continent.” So the depth and power and wisdom and scope of the Bible’s testimony convince us that not man, but the Almighty God, is the author of its plans and revelations. We have taken but a hasty glance at the surface claims of the Scriptures to be of divine origin, and have found them reasonable. Succeeding chapters in this series, will unfold various parts of the plan of God, and will, we trust, give ample evidence to every candid mind that the Bible is a divinely inspired revelation, and that the length and breadth and height and depth of the plan it unfolds, gloriously reflect the personal attributes of the divine being, which has been most often but dimly comprehended, but which can now be more clearly seen by means of the revealment through the holy spirit. — 1 Corinthians 2:10.
Blessed Bible, shining light!
Glowing through the depths of night;
Glory to our God be giv’n
For this loving gift from heav’n.
‘Tis a beam of purest light,
Gleaming through the depths of night;
Brighter than ten thousand gems
Of the costliest diadems
‘Tis a fountain pouring forth
Streams of life to gladden earth
Whence eternal blessing flow,
Remedy for human woe.
‘Tis a mine, yes, deeper, too,
Than can mortal ever go;
Search we may for many years,
Still some new, rich gem appears.
There we learn Jehovah’s love,
Through his message from above.
How he’ll bring to earth true peace,
And will make all wars to cease!
With this lamp of purest light
We can see in earth’s dark night.
Learn the way that we should go,
And Jah’s glories we will know.
Some present the thought that the parousia of Jesus refers to his arrival, not “presence.” We present below our short study regarding this.
Initially, Christ comes as a thief in the night, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come with observation.” (Luke 17:20, World English Bible translation) “nor will they say, `Look, here it is!’ or, `There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21, NASB translation) Then Jesus states, as recorded in Matthew 24:27:
Matt 24:27 “For just as the lightning (Greek, astrape: light, bright shining) comes from the east and flashes [Greek, phaino: shines] even to the west, so will the coming [Greek, Parousia: presence] of the Son of Man be. (NAS)
Lightning does not generally come from the east and shine even to the west, but the sun does. The word “lightning” is a poor translation of the Greek word “astrape,” which signifies “bright shining” (as given in Luke 11:36 in the KJV), and really refers here, as the context indicates, to the sunlight which shines always from the east even to the west, while on the other hand, lightning flashes in a variety of directions, wherever the electrical forces producing it may be discharged. A flash of lightning would only luminate the sky for a split second, which is not a good illustration of Jesus’ return.
When the word “presence” is substituted for “coming,” the statement is seen to declare that the presence of Christ will be like the sunlight, gradually illuminating the world. It is not split second of time, in which all the world sees and recognizes Jesus, as some have seemingly assumed.
Those who are awake and watching, the children of the light, are the first to discern and rejoice in His presence. The children of the night and of the darkness will awake when the Sun of Righteousness will arise in His full glory, and all the sin-sick will rejoice in the healing to be gained through the influence of His rays. Therefore, Jesus uses here the illustration of how the sun brings light as it comes up the east and goes to the west. This well depicts the sun of righteousness who arises with healing in his wings. (Malachi 4:2) The shining is not confined to any one place, but its effect is different in different places. The bright shining (verse 27) means truths and knowledge greatly increases, especially during the time that Christ is returning. That this shining is visible from the east to the west, refers to the fact that our Lord’s presence reveals truth that not only is seen now, but even unto the west, the end of the Millennium, even as the sun gradually moves across the sky from east to west. (Revelation 21:23-24). When the sun first rises in the east, it is not especially bright, but the rays of light can be seen gleaming through the sky. As it continues its journey, the shining gets brighter and brighter.
The sun shine of this new day, however, is different from a normal day, for the prophecy says that the bright shining is darkened by the clouds. (Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15) The clouds we understand to mean obscurity — darkness and trouble on earth. (Isaiah 8:22) It is a unique day, different from what we have known before, for we are told that at evening time, rather than darkness coming, there will be light. (Zechariah 14:7) Thus seen, we can see that this day endures on into the millennial rule, when the world will be instructed in the ways of Yahweh, and the knowledge of Yahweh will fill the earth. — Isaiah 2:2-4; 6:11.
At first, only those who are spiritually awake recognize this presence, (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6) but after Satan is abyssed, all men will become aware of his presence. (Revelation 20:3; Isaiah 25:7; Revelation 1:7) To the watchers in Zion, this light is now seen in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, as well as a flood of knowledge that causes understanding of many spiritual truths that were hidden in the darkness of the wilderness for over a thousand years. Thus to them it has a special meaning. But to the world the light first brings a time of trouble, as never seen before in history, for poor humanity, still being out of harmony with God and truth, cannot properly control the increase of knowledge that has so gradually filled the world since 1799. (Daniel 12:1,4) Yet they are ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7) God’s kingdom is in their midst, but they do not recognize it. — Luke 17:21.
Thus seen, in agreement with other scriptures, Christ’s parousia, covers a period of time, in which many things occur. Yes, Jesus does arrive at the beginning of his parousia, his presense as King, and thus remains present. The Greek word parousia means more than just his arrival, since it also includes the things prophesied to happen during his parousia.
W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being.denotes both n arrival and a consequent presence with. Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.
Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.’
One way of showing that the parousia is a period of time can be seen by comparing two scritpures:
Matthew 24:37-39 – As the days of Noah, so will be the coming [parousia — kingly presence] of the Son of Man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming [parousia – Kingly presence] of the Son of [the] Man
Luke 17:26 – As it happened in the days of Noah, even so will it be also in the days [parallels with “parousia” of Matthew 24:37] of the Son of Man.
Thus the world in general is carrying on these affairs in the days of Jesus’ parousia, that is, his parousia is not known to them. It is not until after the resurrection, that even those who pierced him will be brought back to life so that they may “see” him, and thus “They also who err in spirit shall come to understanding, and those who murmur shall receive instruction.” — Revelation 1:7; Isaiah 29:24.
For more on this, see:
For various viewpoints being presented on chronology, see:
The claim is being made concerning Hebrews 2:14 that Jesus was a failure since he did not destroy the devil as spoken of in that verse.
According the New King James Version, Hebrews 2:14 reads:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Evidently, some are seeking to find fault in the Bible by reading into this that this means that at Jesus’ death, the devil was supposed to have been destroyed, but that he wasn’t and therefore it is offered as proof that the Bible is not true.
In reality, Hebrews 2:14 does not say that Jesus “destroyed” the devil at his death; what it does say is: “by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.” The word “might” here is used in the sense of “may be able to”. Having received the authority through faithfulness until death (Philippians 2:8-11), Jesus will be able to destroy the devil in due time — after the millennial rule. — Romans 16:20; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:7-9.
The Bible is in harmony on this; Hebrews 2:14 does not in any way offer any proof that the Bible is not true.
A Study of Mark 2:1-11
Parallel Accounts: Matthew 9:1-13; Luke 5:17-26
The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from the Holy Bible are from the World English bible translation.
Mark 2:1 – When he entered again into Capernaum after some days, it was heard that he was in the house.
(1) AFTER the busy experiences of the Sabbath day, the Lord Jesus withdrew from Capernaum to a desert place for private communion with his God and Father. Later his four disciples joined him, as also others, who urged his return to Capernaum, but instead he went for a time to other cities and villages of Galilee. Our lesson marks his return to Capernaum, where the people soon learned of his presence and gathered in large numbers to see and hear him.
(2) The houses of the middle classes of that time are understood to have been usually of one room only, in size about 20 x 40 feet, with a flat roof formed by heavy timbers about two feet apart, on which were placed slabs of either wood or stone, the whole being covered with earth or sod closely rolled. The roof was usually accessible by an outside stairway and was often used as a summer sleeping place.
Mark 2:2 – Immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even around the door; and he spoke the word to them.
Mark 2:3 – Four people came, carrying a paralytic to him.
(3) To the crowd of his fellow-citizens — who had but recently awakened to the fact that Jesus was a great prophet, endued with miraculous powers — the Lord was discoursing, possibly respecting the Kingdom of God long promised, and which he proclaimed to be nigh, even at the door, if the people were willing to receive the message and its blessing. At this juncture four men, bearing on a litter a young man paralyzed and utterly helpless, approached the house with a view to having the sick one healed. His helpless condition probably hindered the ailing one from applying to Jesus on the day when so many of the sick at Capernaum were cured. Now he had found friends and helpers and had come within sound of the Master’s voice, yet was unable to gain access to his presence because of the crowd who were unwilling to make way for him.
Mark 2:4 – When they could not come near to him for the crowd, they removed the roof where he was. When they had broken it up, they let down the mat that the paralytic was lying on.
(4) The faith on this man which had brought him thus far insisted that some way of presenting his case before Jesus would be found. Finally he was carried to the roof of the house the earthy covering was dug away from a portion, the slab lifted, and by improvised ropes he was let down into the very presence of Jesus. He must have had a strong faith not only in the Lord’s power to heal but also in his gentleness and goodness, that so far from resenting the rude intrusion he would have patience and realize his deep necessity.
Mark 2:5 – Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
(5) We should take note of how important faith is in the Lord’s estimation — the record does not mention that he saw their works, but he saw their faith, which, of course, was demonstrated by their efforts to get this man to him. As the scriptures show, if true faith is exercised corresponding works would naturally and unavoidably follow.
(6) And so it was: instead of finding fault, threatening them with arrest, accusing them of rudeness, etc., our Lord was so pleased with the faith manifested that he overlooked the intrusion entirely and greeted his uninvited guest most graciously, saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” Perhaps the young man was thinking less of his sins and their forgiveness than of his hope for recovery, but in any event our Lord put the most important thing foremost. He was primarily the sin-bearer and teacher, his work of healing being a secondary one at the time, a mere exercise, so as to emphasize the lessons given.
WISE AND UNWISE ALERTNESS
Mark 2:6 – But there were some of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Mark 2:7 – “Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
(7) The people present were alert to notice everything what Jesus did and said, and amongst them were some of the learned, the Scribes, who were well informed respecting the Law and looked up to as authorities by the masses. These with the others had been attracted by the wonderful miracles and teachings of Jesus and they were watching his words and deeds. Here they thought they had found a flaw — that Jesus was arrogating to himself a power and authority which could belong to God alone. Indeed we may suppose that it was partly to start this very line of reasoning that our Lord expressed himself as he did. Of course, as we will see, Jesus did have authority from his God to forgive sins.
Mark 2:8 – Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you reason these things in your hearts?
Mark 2:9 – Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?’”
(8) Then, reading their evil thoughts (Matthew 9:4), he answered their queries, he, in effect, said: “Which is the easier for you to believe, that I am able to forgive sins or that I could heal this man of the result of his sins? But to prove I have authority from my God to forgive the sin I will perform the cure, and its performance will testify that I have not blasphemed; that I have not arrogated to myself authority which has not properly been given to me; that I am not misrepresenting the Father when I declare that I am his special agent and representative.”
Mark 2:10 – “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic —
Mark 2:11 – “I tell you, arise, take up your mat, and go to your house.”
Mark 2:12 – He arose, and immediately took up the mat, and went out in front of them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
(9) When the man did arise and carried forth his stretcher on which he had lain the people were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything of the like before.” Luke adds that they said, “We have seen strange things today.” They had heard the Messiah explain about his Kingdom and declare his power to forgive sins and demonstrate that power by a miracle. How could they help but wish that the Kingdom of Yahweh might immediately be established, that divine favor might reach the whole world and increase in restitution blessings until there should be no more sickness, no more pain, no more dying, no more crying, no more sin, no more death. However, a particular work must be accomplished before the Kingdom could be set up and begin its restitution work: first the the seed of Abraham, who are participate with Jesus in bringing the blessings to the heathen, must be selected. Palestine and the favored nation did not supply a sufficient number to fulfil the divine arrangement, and therefore the favor of God turned to the Gentiles, to gather out of them those of an honest and good heart, who, having heard the word, hold it tightly, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15) These of faith, the scriptures say, receive the right to become sons of God. (John 1:12) Such are gathered for the purpose of being the seed of Abraham that is to bless all the families of the earth. (Galatians 3:26-29) Our hope, our confidence is that this gathering work is very nearly accomplished; that soon the second coming of Christ will bring forth the revealing of the sons of God and the blessings so long promised. — Genesis 22:17; 28:17; Isaiah 2:2-4; Romans 8:19-22.
(10) Sin and its forgiveness may be considered the essence of this lesson: to this subject, therefore, we turn our attention.
(11) Not only is sin generally common to the world of mankind, as the Scriptures abundantly declare and explain, but a consciousness of sin is general. The world in general recognizes what the Bible emphasizes, namely, that all unrighteousness is sin, all imperfection is sin, or at least a falling short of the perfection desired, whether they express it as “sin” or otherwise. (Romans 1-3) The Jews under the Law, realizing their inability to keep its requirements, would be bound to admit, if they were honest, that they were sinners, transgressors of its requirements. (Romans 3:20; 7:7,8; 8:3) Christians, recognizing God’s law on a still higher plane, should realize still more fully their own blemishes and shortcomings of the perfect law which says, “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”, and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:28-31) But those who have not the Jewish Law nor the Christian law and instruction have nevertheless a sufficiency of conscience, a sufficiency of the original law written in man’s constitution, though largely obliterated through the six thousand years of the fall: by this they realize that they have shortcomings, and, as the Apostle points out, they confess that they are sinners against their ideals of righteousness in that they sometimes attempt to excuse their conduct while at other times they clearly and plainly acknowledge wrong-doing. Thus all are convicted as sinners. — Romans 3:9,10
(12) The remarkable thing is that our consciousness of sin increases with our education in the school of Christ — increases in proportion as we cease to do evil and learn to do well. Accordingly, the most advanced saint has a clearer discernment of and a greater repugnance for sin than has the most degraded sinner. Thus it is, too, with God, who hates sin and cannot look upon it with acceptance. (Deuteronomy 25:16; Psalm 5:4-6; 11:5; Proverbs 6:16-19) He has placed his ban, his sentence, his edict against it, and declares that it shall be utterly rooted out, and that all intelligently and willfully in sympathy with it must be considered as part of it and be destroyed with it. — Psalm 37:9-11; Revelation 20:7,8.
(13) The more we see of sin, the more we realize its contaminating character and destructive tendencies, the more we appreciate the divine justice which on account of sin condemns sin in humanity. (Romans 8:3) The more advanced our conceptions of righteousness, truth, holiness, purity, the more we are enabled to appreciate the divine view of sin and to say of Yahweh and his sentence against sin and sinners, “True and righteous are your judgments.” — Revelation 16:7.
THE OPERATION OF DIVINE MERCY
(14) But the more we come to appreciate divine justice and the righteousness of the sentence of death against our race, the more also we come to appreciate the love and mercy of God toward us, and to rejoice that he was not willing that any should perish, and hence made provision wide enough, high enough, deep enough, that all might turn unto him and live — have everlasting life. This provision of mercy cannot ignore the sin nor can it permit the sinner to ignore it. It is necessary that the redeemed should know, should appreciate, their fallen condition, the justice of their sentence of death, and that their recovery is wholly a matter of divine mercy. Unless they learn this lesson they could never appreciate the divine arrangements and the only terms upon which God could grant them everlasting life — terms of acceptance of God’s grace and forgiveness and their obedience to him and his principles of righteousness.
NO OTHER NAME GIVEN
(15) It is to this end that the heavenly Father arranged his plan for the recovery of our race as he reveals it in his Word — a plan by which he extends mercy to all, yet requires all to accept that mercy through Jesus, “through faith in his blood,” producing fruitage in God’s will (Matthew 3:8; 7:17,18,21; 12:50; John 14:15,21; 15:20), or not at all. (Romans 3:25) This insures that every one coming to the Father must admit that he is a sinner, must admit that he cannot clear himself of the penalty of his own sin and live, must admit that his salvation is purely of divine mercy through Christ; and it insures that the terms and conditions which Jesus the Redeemer will establish as the Mediator between God and sinners must be thoroughly understood and accepted and complied with. He proposes to help back to perfection and to full fellowship with the Father all who sincerely repent of sin and will use their best endeavors under his guidance, instruction and assistance to return to God. To such and to such alone will perfection be granted. Such alone will attain permanently the everlasting life through the assistance as well as through the redemption of him who bought us with his precious blood.
SINS BLOTTED OUT
(16) It is well that we mark a wide distinction between the blotting out of sin, which the Scriptures assure us will be accomplished at the second coming of Christ (Acts 3:19), and the forgiveness of sins which may be enjoyed now by all who will exercise the necessary faith and obedience. The blotting out of sins at the second advent of Christ will be applied first of all to the church: not a trace of sin in any sense or degree will remain upon these from the time that they share in the glorious blessings of the first resurrection. In the present time they are actually imperfect, blemished, marked and marred by sin, and continually need the covering of the robe of Christ’s righteousness so freely granted to them; but with the resurrection change all the blemishes of sin will be gone. As described by the Apostle, that which was sown in weakness will be raised in power, that sown in dishonor will be raised in glory, that, for those who become joint-heirs with Christ, that which was sown in a natural body will be raised a spiritual body (yet in the resurrection, there is not just the spiritual body, but also a physical body). (1 Corinthians 15:40-44) No longer will they need imputed righteousness, but each will individually be absolutely perfect, absolutely righteous.
(17) The blotting out of the world’s sins will not be thus instantaneous, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, but will progress throughout the Millennial age gradually. As each individual recognizes sin and falls in line with the rules of the Kingdom he will find himself growing stronger in the ways of righteousness, as he progresses up the highway of holiness. (Isaiah 35:8) Day by day, year by year, he will increase in mental, moral and physical development, or failing so to do will, after the abundant opportunities of that time, be cut off in the Second Death as unworthy of any further opportunities for gaining life eternal through the Redeemer’s Kingdom. Those who will may avail themselves of the privileges of that time and have their sins entirely blotted out — reach absolute perfection of mind and body by the close of the Millennial age, and then be tested as to their heart loyalty to the principles of righteousness as shown in Revelation 20:10. That final test will be general to the human family: it will correspond to the trial given to Adam in Eden, except that these will have had experience with sin and the fall, and with the recovery and with the reign of righteousness. They will, therefore, all be in a proper attitude to enable them to pass the examination satisfactorily, and any failure so to do will demonstrate that the heart had not come, under all the favorable conditions (Isaiah 26:9,10), into that harmony with God which would be indispensable to eternal life. Such the Scriptures show us will be destroyed with Satan as those who have some elements at least of his disposition.
FORGIVENESS OF SINS
(18) In our lesson the Scribes are represented as reasoning that the only one who could forgive a sin is the one against whom the transgression is committed. If A commit a transgression against B it is not in the power of C to forgive it. B alone has the right to feel offended and he alone can forgive. The Scribes were reasoning along correct lines: while we do as individuals transgress the rights and liberties of each other at times and thus sin against one another and need to have one another’s forgiveness, yet all sin is primarily against God, whose law of righteousness is infringed. All unrighteousness is sin — against God, against his laws. He alone sets the standard of right and wrong by which his creatures are to be measured or judged and he is the Judge. The question is asked; How, then,
COULD JESUS FORGIVE SINS?
(19) We answer that our Creator had so fixed the matter of sin and its penalty that Jesus was the only one who could forgive sins — or, more specifically, the heavenly Father through him. (Romans 5:1,9-11; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 15:57; 2 Corinthians 3:4,5; 5:18; Galatians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Hebrews 7:25; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 John 4:9) The divine arrangement was so fixed that the God and Father had even put in Jesus’ own hands the power to forgive sins (Isaiah 61:1-3; John 5:19,27,30; 10:18,36-38; Acts 2:22; 10:38), because he had fixed a positive, absolute, unchangeable penalty against sin in the case of Adam and his posterity. (Genesis 2:17) He could have done differently: he could have dealt with mankind as he dealt with the angels that fell, and merely put them under some kind of restraints without imposing directly the death sentence. (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:60) But once the death penalty had been imposed, nothing could alter or annul it.
(20) But that unchangeable sentence against mankind was made by the Creator with full knowledge of how he could, and in due time, would negate or nullify the sentence, not by withdrawing it but by meeting its requirements through a Redeemer. God himself could not pay this price to himself, so as release mankind from death. It was one of God’s creatures — a man — that sinned, and brought sin upon man, and thus it would have to be one of God’s creatures that would pay the price for all mankind. Only in this way could God remain just, and justify the sinner. Thus it was that in the divine plan our Lord Jesus was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. In other words God had in mind the plan of redemption before he imposed the death sentence which made necessary that redemption. — Acts 15:18; Romans 3:25,26; 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 2 Timothy 2:5,6; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.
DIVINE FAVOR EARLY MANIFESTED
(21) It may be urged that God manifested his favor to Abraham and others before our Lord Jesus came into the world and presented man’s ransom price. We reply that this is so, that divine favor was manifested, but that its manifestation was based upon the divine intention that in due time the ransom for sinners would be paid. God called things that are not as though they were. (Romans 4:17) Thus in God’s sight the faithful of old were counted as “alive”, for the God and Father of Jesus is the God of the living, not of the dead. (Matthew 22:31-33) Thus, in view of the coming ransom sacrifice of Jesus, God did impute righteousness to Abraham. (Romans 4:17-22) But even then the favor granted was not actual the blotting out of sins, for they still had their sinful flesh to contend with. No! that could not have been done prior to the ransom, and is to be done by God through the Redeemer glorified in the resurrection day. All the ancient worthies could possibly have was such measure of divine favor as their faith in God would justify, and the only favors which God could grant to them would be such as his intentions through the Redeemer would make reasonable.
SIN UNDER MOSES’ LAW
(22) Under the Law Covenant, God arranged with the nation of Israel a certain kind and degree of forgiveness and reconciliation through Moses, the mediator of that Covenant. Under these arrangements the sin offerings year by year made a picture, a type, an illustration of the coming blessings under the New Covenant and its Mediator, the Christ. Israel as a nation enjoyed God’s favor — his grace — to a limited extent through faith, as did the patriarchs, but neither did they have a blotting out of sins. On the contrary, the Apostle points out that it is evident that Israel’s sacrifices and sin offerings never really took away sin, but were merely typical of better sacrifices through which sin will actually be cancelled and ultimately blotted out.—Hebrews 10:1-4; Acts 3:19.
THE MEASURE OF JESUS’ FORGIVENESS
(23) If the heavenly Father were bound by his own law and could not blot out sins without the payment of the ransom price, could our Lord Jesus do so? Had he greater power in this respect than the Father? We answer, No! His words to the paralyzed man in this lesson did not refer to a blotting out of man’s sins, but merely to such a forgiveness of sins as the Father had already extended to Abraham and others in the past. When the Lord had uttered the words, “Your sins be forgiven you,” the man still lay helpless, his sins not blotted out though forgiven; he was still a picture, an illustration of the terrible effects of sin. And our Lord’s later words, “Arise, take up your mat, and go to your house,” although in an illustration, or a type, of the coming restoration blessing, were not a blotting out of the man’s sins. To have blotted out his sins completely would have meant the lifting of him completely out of all the imperfections of the fall up to the full perfection of a perfect man mentally, morally and physically. Jesus did not do this for him; he merely healed him of a measure of his special difficulty.
(24) But more importantly, all the works that Jesus did were actually the works of his God and Father which were done in, by means of, him. (John 5:36; 9:3,4; 10:25,32,37,38; Acts 2:22) In all the works that Jesus performed, he performed under the authority given to him by his God. Thus when the multitudes saw the paralyzed man healed, “they marveled and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” (Matthew 9:8) Yes, Jesus was given this authority! Thus Jesus says: “For neither does the Father judge any man, but he has given all judgment [authority to judge] to the Son.” (John 5:22) And, “and [the God and Father of Jesus] has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man [the Messiah, the anointed son of David].” (John 5:27, New King James Version) Jesus also states: “I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me.” (John 5:30) Thus, while God has given all this authority to Jesus, it still can be said that God “has appointed a day in which he [God] will judge the world in righteousness by [through, by means of] the man [person] whom he has ordained. — Acts 17:31.
(25) We might note that included in this man [person], Christ Jesus, is the entire body of Christ. (Romans 8:1; 12:18; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12) All of these members of the body of Christ to some extent offer up sacrifices pleasing to God through Jesus (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 9:23; 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5), and thus in addition to Jesus, the judgment [the authority to judge] will be given to the faithful saints. (Daniel 7:22; 1 Corinthians 6:2,3; Revelation 20:4) Nevertheless, in the name of, or by the authority of Jesus (who has been given this authority by his God), even today saints can offer forgiveness of sins to those who put faith in the blood of Jesus. (Acts 2:38) Still, however, we should note Jesus sent forth his disciples to forgive of sins by his authority, which he said was given to him by his God and Father (John 20:21-23; Acts 2:38; 13:38,39), and that we should preach repentance toward Yahweh God, the God of Israel, the God of Jesus, and faith in the name of Jesus for forgiveness and remission of sins. — Acts 10:43; 20:21; 26:20; 1 Corinthians 6:11.
(26) Nevertheless, forgiveness extended to us now on account of faith is of the nature of a covering or hiding of our sins, a reckoning or imputation of justification. As the prophet expresses the matter, “Blessed is he whose disobedience is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom Yahweh doesn’t impute iniquity.” (Psalm 32:1,2) Our sins are not imputed so long as we would renounce them and seek Yahweh through Jesus in faith and in sincerity. The time for the blotting out of sins, their complete eradication, is future, as the Apostle Peter declared. Our sins will be blotted out when we receive our resurrection bodies, in which there will remain no trace of the weaknesses, imperfections and maladies that came upon us because of original and subsequent sin. — Acts 3:19-21.
(27) We should note, however, in Jesus’ words of Mark 2:5 our Lord did not refer to original sin and its death penalty. He was speaking of sins in the plural, the man’s own sins additional to his share in father Adam’s sin and father Adam’s penalty. The man was a Jew, under the Mosaic Covenant. His share in original sin, in common with that of all Jews, was atoned for every year, and on the basis of this atonement he as a Jew had a standing with Yahweh, and Yahweh’s engagement with that people was that under their Covenant they should be free from sickness, etc., so long as they were obedient to Yahweh. To every Jew, therefore, sickness meant, implied, personal guilt, personal transgression, because Yahweh had so covenanted with them, as he had not done with other peoples and nations. It was declared that “whoever does these things will live.” If they could have kept that law, by reason of their obedience they could live and never die. — Amos 3:2; Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12; Hebrews 10:1-3.
OUR LORD ALREADY SACRIFICED
(28) But even as respects Adamic sin and its penalty our Lord would have had the right to have spoken peace and forgiveness and to have given an assurance of an ultimate blotting out of sins, because although he had not yet finished the work which he came to do, although he had not yet finished the ransom sacrifice, he had begun it. (Indeed, it was begun in the promise of God from the very beginning.— Genesis 3:15) At his baptism he had consecrated his life, had laid down his life, presented it to the Father in sacrifice, and the Father had in a measure accepted it and had signified his acceptance of the contract by giving to our Lord the holy Spirit, the first-fruits of the glorious blessing which he received at his resurrection.
(29) It was by virtue of his already having made this sacrifice, which he fully intended to carry out to the very end, and which God had already counted as having taken place (Acts 23:15), that our Lord was authorized in saying to his believers, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who disobeys the Son won’t see life.” “He who eats [by putting faith in] my [sacrificed] flesh [his righteous, sinless body] and drinks [by putting faith in] my blood [reprsenting Jesus’ sinless human soul, offered to God] has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 3:36; 6:54; Romans 3:5; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:14; 10:10,20) In effect, Jesus is saying he who believes in me and becomes my true, faithful follower may reckon that he has already begotten in him the new life [or he has been reckoned as “born again”, as many wish to speak of this] (Romans 6:11), and that I will assist him and carry him through, so that in the very dawning of the Millennial morning he may have a share in the first resurrection and thus obtain the eternal life under its perfect conditions. — Revelation 20:6.
(30) The entire operation of this Gospel age so far as the Church is concerned is one of faith — “We walk by faith not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) By faith we realize our sins forgiven, by faith we look into the future and believe that in the first resurrection we shall share our Master’s glory, honor and immortality. And by faith we are satisfied and rest in hope — yes, actually, we shall be satisfied when we awake in his likeness.— Psalm 17:15.
(31) Some place scriptures such as Psalm 103:2,3 together with Luke 5:20, evidently in an endeavor to prove that since Jesus forgives sins, then Jesus must be Yahweh. Mark 2:7 shows that the Jewish leaders wanted to use Jesus’ statement to claim that he committed blasphemy, stating: “Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” However, what did Jesus say? Did he say, “Don’t you know that I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thus I can forgive sins?” Did Jesus claim to be Jehovah (Yahweh)? Here is what the scriptures say: Mark 2:8 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you reason these things in your hearts? Mark 2:99 Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?’ Mark 2:10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — Jesus claimed “authority” on earth to forgive sins. He did not claim that he was his God, Jehovah, who sent him. The only place where there is even a hint that of an expression in the Bible that only God can forgive sins are the instances in Mark 2:7 and Luke 5:21, where the offspring of vipers, lying, deceived and deceiving, hypocrites, (Matthew 3:7; 6:2-8,16-18; 12:31; 15:1-9; 16:1-12; 21:33-46; 23:2-33; Luke 11:14-54; 12:1; 15:1-19; John 8:38,41,44), the Jewish religious leaders state: “Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (Luke 5:21) Not a very good authority to base this idea on. But Matthew records: Matthew 9:3 Behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man blasphemes.” Matthew 9:4 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? Matthew 9:5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk?’ Matthew 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (then he said to the paralytic), “Get up, and take up your mat, and go up to your house.” Matthew 9:7 He arose and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. — italics added for emphasis. Matthew tells us plainly that it is God who had given such authority to men. Nothing in any of this suggests that Jesus was/is his God, Jehovah (Yahweh), who sent him. “Praise Yahweh! Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, For his lovingkindness endures forever.” (Psalm 107:15, World English Bible translation) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, World English Bible translation)
Much of the above has been adapted from Reprints 3728, Last update: October 14, 2009
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