True Bible Teaching about God’s Purpose and His plan of Salvation for all those who will believe in Him

Is Jesus ‘‘God’’?

Is Jesus ‘‘God’’?

Is Jesus ‘‘God’’?Much confusion exists about the true relationship of Jesus and his Father. Was he, as some people think, part of a Trinity (of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit)? Or was he the Son of God, who came into existence when he was born by God’s Holy Spirit power acting upon the virgin Mary? In this article, John Carter looks carefully at the Bible usage when someone is said to be “a god”. His conclusions may surprise you.

Jesus is Called ‘God’

Because Jesus has, by inheritance, “obtained a more excellent name than (the angels)” (Hebrews 1:4), we should not be surprised if, after the style of description used in connection with angels, he is called “God”.

In order to understand this clearly, and to avoid confusion, we need to look at Bible terminology and we start our examination in the Old Testament.

When God gave Israel laws, he made proper arrangements for the administration of justice which required the appointment of judges. Thus:

❖If a slave decided he wanted to accept life servitude with his master, he was to make that arrangement before the judges (Exodus 21:6), or

❖If someone was found stealing, he or she was to be brought before the judges, in much the same way that theft is dealt with today (Exodus 22:8).

In both instances the judges are described by the Hebrew word “elohim”, a designation that is also given to the angels, and sometimes to God Himself, who is, of course, the judge of all mankind. Thus, many modern versions speak of the slave and the thief being brought before God (not before the judge). From this we can see that the rulers of Israel were called ‘gods’ for they were acting on God’s behalf when making their judgments and administering His law. The nation was a theocracy – a nation governed by God through deputies – and because these rulers in this kingdom of Israel were God’s representatives ruling over His kingdom, the word “god” is applied to the mortal rulers of the Kingdom of God.

Vivid Prophecy

The Psalms are Israel’s hymn book or books, but they were much more than that. Some of them are vivid prophecies portraying the life of Jesus. Psalm 22, for example, depicts his crucifixion in startling detail, even though that form of capital punishment was not practised at the time David penned that psalm. Read Psalm 82 and you will find a vivid portrayal of the Lord’s contentions with the contemporary rulers of Israel:

“God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:1–4).

Here God is rebuking the gods of Israel, the mortal rulers, and reproves them because they are showing favour to wicked people and are ignoring the needs of the defenceless. The Psalmist reminds them of their exalted status as rulers appointed by God:

“I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men and fall like one of the princes” (Psalm 82:6–7).

Sharp Contention

If there is any doubt in your mind about the validity of this line of argument, consider how the Lord Jesus referred to this very Psalm. The Jewish leaders were about to stone him because he told them that he was the Son of God.

For them, such a claim was tantamount to claiming to be God Himself, so they accused Jesus of blasphemy.

Look how Jesus responded and note his mastery of the Scriptures:

“Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming, ’because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34–36).

Jesus was quoting this very Psalm and construed it as a prophecy of himself in the company of those whom God had appointed to rule His people (the very Jewish elders who now wanted to stone him). His argument was that as they were called ‘gods’ because of the delegated authority given them by God, how could they accuse him of blasphemy when he was merely stating that he was God’s Son.

Another Psalm

Is Jesus ‘‘God’’?Psalm 45 is another prophecy about the Lord Jesus, one which is yet to be fulfilled. It depicts the time when Jesus will return to earth as King and will call to him all those who are his people, from the present and the past, so they can be together forever. This scene is described as ‘the marriage supper of the Lamb’ in Revelation chapter 19:6–9. In the Psalm, Jesus is addressed thus:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions” (Psalm 45:6–7).

Notice that whilst the King, about whom the Psalm is written, is called “God”, he is clearly subordinate to the One who has blessed him (45:2) and anointed him (45:7). Should you have any doubt about the relevance of this terminology to the Lord Jesus and his filial relationship to his Father, notice that this Psalm is also referred to in the New Testament, this time in the Letter to the Hebrews, where the writer is seeking to establish that Jesus is the Son of God: And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom” (Hebrews 1:7–8).

God Manifest

There is a prophecy concerning God-manifestation in Isaiah chapter 64 which is very interesting, when the prophet utters this prayer:

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence – As fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil – to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!” (Isaiah 64:1–2).

This language is reminiscent of what happened at Mount Sinai when there was a manifestation of God through angelic beings; and this is an appeal that there should be another manifestation of God. Through whom is this manifestation to take place this time?

Through angels, or through someone else? And what is indicated by the words “That the mountains might shake at Your presence”? Whose presence is it for whom the prophet prays?

The one in whom that Divine “presence” will be manifested is now addressed:

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, who acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:4).

Here the prophet is describing one who alone saw what God had prepared and the one who had that discernment is once again addressed as “God”. Not Understanding Writing to the Corinthians, Paul applies the passage to the rulers of his day, who did not understand God’s purpose, and who crucified the Lord of Glory. But the followers of Christ did not share the ignorance of the rulers, hence Paul can quote the Isaiah passage and then add:

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

The followers of Christ share the understanding of the Head, the Lord Jesus, who is called “God” in Isaiah’s message, and who clearly and unerringly saw what God had prepared, and who endured the cross and despised the shame for the joy that was set before him.

So, if the rulers of Israel in this Divine usage of language are called ‘gods’, we should seek a right appreciation of this usage, and recognize that the Lord Jesus was so addressed, because of his unique status as the Son of God.

By John Carter

Noah and the DELUGE

Noah and the DELUGE – Part Two

Noah and the Deluge – Part Two

Noah and the DELUGE

And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. (Gen. 8:4)

If the deluge in Noah’s day was just a local flood compassing only the Tigris/Euphrates river valleys, how then did Noah’s ark end up in the mountains of Ararat far north of the Persian Gulf outlets of these two waterways? Bible skeptics dismiss the Ararat beaching claiming it is obviously a mistake, or an exaggeration and instead suggest that Noah’s barge came to rest on an island in the Tigris/Euphrates delta or beyond. They confine the Genesis flood to the Tigris/Euphrates region and presume that only a small number of people died, namely, those living near the rivers who did not have sufficient time to escape to higher ground. Bible skeptics downgrade the period of rain from 40 days and nights to 6 days and nights, preferring the Gilgamesh account to Genesis. Their arguments hinge on the assertion that such a prolonged period of rain would not be consistent with the climate of Mesopotamia. An attack is also made on the biblical record of the size, shape and carrying capacity of Noah’s Ark. Finally, they make the point that archaeological evidence proving the deluge appears to be lacking.

This chapter will consider the validity of the arguments of Bible skeptics who diminish every aspect of the account of the flood in Genesis, but cannot deny the overwhelming historical memory of a gigantic deluge that is ingrained in the cultures of people all over the globe. I will not attempt to address the extreme form of Bible critic who dismisses the entire scriptures as mere myth and legend. Such a person is beyond the scope of consideration in these essays (though it is hoped that the rationality of the arguments presented might persuade them to examine further the claims of the scriptures). These writings are aimed at the person who respects equally the Bible and science, realizing that the Lord God is the author of both (Psa. 89:11; Psa. 104:24; I Cor. 14:33).

The extent of the flood

Let us revisit the extent of the deluge. In the previous chapter we presented evidence that the flood was neither global, nor did it cover Mount Everest. However, the other side of the coin is not necessarily a local flood confined to the Tigris/Euphrates valleys. The Bible record says that it rained forty days and forty nights (Gen. 7:4, 12) and that the fountains of the great deep were broken up (Gen. 7:11). What does this mean in terms of the possible extent and severity of the deluge?

Skeptics ask: where did all the water come from and where did it go?

  1. a) Rainfall

We can dismiss the notion that it rained only 6 days and nights as told in the Gilgamesh epic. That epic is so replete with exaggeration and tales of multiple pagan gods doing magical things that we can safely say it is unreliable. Given the authenticity of the scriptures that has been verified over and over again by historical and archaeological evidence, to say nothing of the moral and prophetic word that is unique, there is every reason for us to accept the 40-day/night-rainfall period specified in Genesis. Consider the result of such a rainfall. The atmosphere of this planet can absorb water vapor from the seas to an extent limited by solar energy. We can reasonably estimate the maximum severity of a possible storm by checking the historical weather records. For example, one of the largest storms ever recorded was tropical cyclone Domoina, which poured 21.34 inches of rain in a 24-hour period measured by the gauges at the Cape St. Lucia lighthouse on January 31, 1984.1 Since 1 inch of rain equals 12 inches of snowfall the Domoina cyclone was equivalent to receiving 244 inches of snow in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan in one day! While one might say that this is unlikely, nevertheless it did happen toSt. Lucia. One can see that this is a truly enormous amount of precipitation for a twenty-four hour period and a lot of energy had to be poured into that storm.

What if such a storm continued for 40 days and 40 nights? Impossible? In California, a region of the United States with weather patterns not markedly different from Mesopotamia, starting on December 24, 1861, rain continued unabated for almost four consecutive weeks. This weather event has been called the “Great Flood.” By the time it had finished, it had created an inland sea in Orange County in Southern California that took many weeks to drain. Hundreds of miles to the north, the entire Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, to an extent of 250 to 300 miles long, overflowed their banks to a breadth averaging 20 miles. With such tremendous climatic events as the Domoina cyclone and the Great Flood, it is not hard to either imagine, or scientifically acknowledge, that a God-driven rain of 40 days and nights would have had a devastating effect.

If rainfall continued daily at the level of the Domoina event, at the end of 40 days, roughly 68 feet of precipitation would have fallen. In reality, given the runoff from the mountain streams at the headwaters of the Tigris/Euphrates rivers (and perhaps other river valleys, eg. Nile, Ganges, etc.), and the concomitant melting of the snowcaps, the flood crest downstream would have been a number of times higher than the total amount of precipitation. Such a fierce storm need not be confined to a small region. The area covered by such storms should be a familiar occurrence to people who live along the eastern seaboard of North America where tropical hurricanes can originate in the Caribbean Sea and sweep along the entire east coast up to Nova Scotia, a breath of a couple of thousand miles. Thus a “perfect” storm of the magnitude specified in Genesis could easily have encompassed people living from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Western Indian Ocean and everywhere in between. Nothing in the path of such a storm could have survived in that age unless they were in an Ark prepared by God.

  1. b) Fountains of the deep

The scriptures tell us that God prepared far more than just a severe storm to carry out His purpose of completely destroying an evil generation. We are told that the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up (Gen. 7:11). The word “broken” as rendered in the Authorized Version literally means “crumble” or “broken to pieces”.2 This could possibly refer to subterranean earthquakes in the Indian Ocean, Arabian and Mediterranean seas that would have inundated coastal inhabitants with massive Tsunami’s more powerful than the one that struck the nations on the perimeter of the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004.3

Recent explorations have turned up direct evidence that the Black Sea (which lies north and west of the Mountains of Ararat) was once a fertile valley inhabited by many people (see map inset).4 Geological studies of the Black Sea done by the Russian research vessel Aquanaut have revealed that this region was once a much smaller fresh water lake hundreds of feet below the present sea level. The shore line of that lake was surrounded with villages and core samples estimate an age (via radioactive Carbon dating) that places the demise of those cultures around the same time as generally accepted for Noah’s deluge, roughly 5000 years ago. Further studies of the flow patterns and geology of the straits of the Bosporus (the six-mile wide channel connecting the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, see map inset) led the authors of “Noah’s Flood” to conclude that this strait was once a closed, land-locked barrier. The crumbling of this barrier would have sent a wall of water six miles in width initially (but spreading as it followed the contour of the Black Sea basin) and hundreds of feet high. With all the pressure of the vast Mediterranean Sea behind it, this massive flume of water would have raced at speeds comparable to a Tsunami and annihilated all the habitations in the forefront of its path. Ryan and Pittman estimate that “the Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least three hundred days”.5 Everything in its path would have been swept from west to east towards the Mountains of Ararat. If Noah and his family lived in that Black Sea basin, it would explain very nicely how he ended up in the Mountains of Ararat, something that would be nearly impossible if he had simply ridden out a flood in the Tigris/Euphrates basin.

The Bible never actually says where Noah lived prior to the flood and Josephus claims that Noah and his sons had immigrated from their original habitation because of the wickedness of the people in that abode and sought refuge elsewhere (the Black Sea basin?) only to find that place evil also.6 If the Black Sea basin is where Noah built the ark, and the collapse of the Bosporus land bridge and the enormous storm mentioned earlier happened together, then it is entirely natural that he would have ended up in the Mountains of Ararat. It is also reasonable that it would be some nine months or more [Gen. 7:11 8:4, 5] before he would have a hint of abatement of the flood from his perspective. By that time, the Bosporus flume would have settled and the modern day salt water Black sea have been created.

The answer to the skeptics’ question of where did all the water come from and go has a logical outcome. The schematic map inset illustrates the inhabited part of the world that was most likely inundated by the deluge.7 The flood of Noah’s day happened through a miraculous confluence of events that are nevertheless entirely plausible and within the realm of scientific evidence.

Skeptics doubt that the size of the Ark was correct

Noah and the DELUGE - Part TwoOne particularly cantankerous website doubts that a wooden boat the size specified in Genesis would have held together under the stresses of the deluge.8 This commentary goes on to dispute almost every aspect of the Bible story of the ark from its carrying capacity to the ability to load so many animals from far and wide in such a short time. If you believe that Noah did everything single-handedly without the aid of the almighty God, then indeed you could have a problem with a literal interpretation. However, let us consider a few facts about this Ark. First, it was designed with almost the perfect ratio of length to breath 6:1 (300 cubits long by 50 cubits broad), which made for great stability in the water (Gen. 6:15). It was only 30 cubits high and hence had a low center of gravity thus stabilizing it from pitching side to side. How did Noah arrive at these numbers if not by the grace of God? The Gilgamesh Epic, by contrast, has the hero, Utnaphistim, sailing in a perfect cube shaped vessel, which would be completely unseaworthy.

The ark was sealed with bitumen for waterproofing and the interior decks acted as cross bracing for added strength. Finally, there were no breaks in the side of the hull that could have acted as stress concentrator, which could have lead to a failure of the ship.9 The only place where this was possible was at the entry door and the Scriptures are careful to tell us that God sealed that door for protection (Gen. 7:16).

If the flood covered the entire habitable region from the western Mediterranean to as far east as India and north to south from the Black Sea valley to the shores of equatorial Africa, then hundreds of thousands of square miles would have been inundated. The ark was certainly big enough to carry animals and feed so that, in the post-diluvian world, the environmental balance between the land and animals in the vast flooded area would be quickly restored. There is no doubt that the ark was essential and technically capable of its intended purpose.

Skeptics decry the apparent lack of archaeological evidence proving the flood

The problem of finding archaeological evidence becomes acute if you accept the views of creationists that world population at the time of Noah was somewhere between one billion and as high as nine billion or more.10 Finding the remnants of such large populations destroyed from the flood should have left telltale signs all over the globe. On the other hand, the United States Government Census Bureau has compiled historic world population levels and gives a figure of approximately 14 million as reasonable for 3000 BC.11 A population of this level would surely have spread beyond the Tigris/Euphrates basin in search of fresh water and arable land. They would have sought out other areas such as the fresh water lake that comprised the Black Sea depression prior to the flood. The Nile valley and the Ganges in India would also have been primary habitable possibilities.

The systematic geological and oceanographic studies reported by Ryan and Pitman12 in their book make a good case for definitive proof of a massive deluge destroying the Black Sea basin and their dating is consistent with the biblical story of Noah. The archaeologist Woolley found evidence of a dense layer of flood deposited silt with civilized occupations above and below at the ancient site of Ur of the Chaldees.13 Dating of this layer was consistent with the time of the Biblical deluge. This caused a world-wide sensation at the time, but subsequent excavations at Kish by others did not find corroborative evidence. However, exploration specifically seeking to map out the possible extent of a deluge at the time of Noah throughout Mesopotamia has never been done on anywhere near the scale as in the studies in the Black Sea, where dozens of sites were examined all over the sea basin.

It is also obvious that finding silt deposits in a region where a flood surge came roaring down a vast river valley would leave areas where silt would build up and others where the power of the flow of the raging rivers would have scoured the land. Where one would find silt layers attributable to Noah’s time would depend on the local terrain 5,000 years ago, and what happened in those regions in the intervening period down to our present times.

What we can say for sure is that there are indeed bits and pieces of evidence that a massive flood occurred at the time of Noah from a region encompassing the Black Seato several thousand miles south and east including the Tigris/Euphrates valley. More definitive evidence for a wider extent of the biblical deluge awaits serious dedicated archeological digs over a wider area of the globe.

The bottom line is that it is reasonable to conclude the biblical deluge covered the entire area of the habitable world at the time of Noah, roughly 3000 BC. Such a flood would have been sufficient to accomplish exactly the purpose of the Lord God, namely to destroy a world filled with violence and make a new beginning with righteous Noah and his heirs. To presume more or less than this, I will leave to the reader’s own conscience.

By John C. Bilello, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Footnotes

1 Saint   Lucia is an island nation in the southeastern West Indies lying in the Caribbean sea almost due north of Venezuela. Its average annual rainfall is only about 100 inches. Worldbook Encyclopedia Electronic edition, article by Gerald R. Showalter.

2 “broken” = see Strong’s No. 1751.

3 “A wave of biblical proportions”, read the headline on page 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, February 18, 2005 in referring to the Indian Ocean event of December 26, 2004.

4 William Ryan and Walter Pitman, Noah’s Flood, Touchstone edition, Simon and Schuster Pub., New   York, (2000).

5 ibid pg.249.

6 Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, in “The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, Translated by William Whiston, The John C. Winston Co., Philadelphia, (1957), pgs. 35-39.

7 The land area of the region shown on the schematic map comprises a little over 4 million square miles.

8http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html#building. Article by Mark Isaak, Problems with a Global Flood, 2nd Edition, Copyright © 1998.

In World War II the United States made Liberty cargo ships that had a notch cut-out midship to facilitate loading. In cold weather and heavy seas this caused ships to literally split in two. This was not a design flaw made in Noah’s Ark!

10 Such a huge population being destroyed by God with only eight being saved seems monstrous; surely Christian thinking has faith in a more merciful LORD or we are without hope ourselves.

11 Colin McEvedy, and Richard Jones, 1978, “Atlas of World Population History,” Facts on File, New   York, pp. 342-351.

12 See Reference 4.

13 Sir Leonard Woolley, (1880-1960), was a British archaeologist who performed excavations at Ur between 1922 and 1934 where he found geological support for a great flood, possibly the Biblical Deluge.

Noah and the DELUGE

Noah and the DELUGE – Part One

Noah and the Deluge – Part OneNoah and the DELUGE

“And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:7, 8).

The story of Noah and the flood is probably one of the most well-known sagas in the Bible. Many great works of art, books, movies, TV specials and children’s toys celebrate the event. There was a time in the heyday of Bible criticism in the 19th century that pundits relegated the story of Noah and the flood to myth and legend, but that is certainly no longer true. Biblical, historical and geological evidence today are so compelling that the only argument that remains is the extent of the flood. However, before we focus on the contentious issue of the extent let us first review the persuasive scriptural and historical evidence of the certainty of a massive deluge, the likes of which the earth has not seen since, that annihilated all humanity save eight souls.

Referred to throughout scripture

The existence of the patriarch Noah and the events associated with his calling are amply spelled out in the scriptures in Genesis chapters 6 – 10, and in many other places in both the Old and New Testaments. The name Noah means rest and he is indeed appropriately named.1 He provided a “rest” for his family and through his righteousness we can be thankful for the continued existence of the human race.

Noah’s name is evoked by the prophet Isaiah to confirm God’s mercy (Isa. 54:9). He is mentioned by Ezekiel as a notable illustration of righteousness (Ezek.14:14, 20). Noah is held up as one of the heroes of the faith by the author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:7) and the deluge story is confirmed once again by the writings of the apostle Peter (I Peter 3:20; II Peter 2:5). Noah is also mentioned in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke3:36).

What absolutely clinches it for any believing Christian is the endorsement of our Lord, who uses Noah as an exhortation in watchfulness that could well apply to these latter days (Matt. 24:37-38; Luke 17:26,27). There is also a parallel between Jesus and Noah that is understood when we realize Noah provided a refuge, a rest, from the judgments of the Almighty in his day and likewise the Lord Jesus Christ will provide the ultimate rest for the righteous in the kingdom of God: There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God (Heb. 4:9).

Thus, while one might quibble about some of the details, from the Biblical point of view, the existence of a man of righteousness called Noah and the story associated with his construction of a gigantic ark for preserving his family and animal life from a massive deluge is beyond question. What about the historical evidence?

Extra-biblical evidence

The historical evidence is extensive; more than 100 “deluge” stories have been documented from cultures spanning the globe.2 The most famous of these tales was recorded sometime between 2000 and 1700 B.C. and is part of what is known as the “Gilgamesh” epic. In the years 1852 and 1853, the British archaeologists Layard and Rassam excavated the library of the Assyrian King Ashur-bani-pal (668-627 B.C.) at his palace in Nineveh (near modern day Mosul in Iraq). The collection of that library consisted of 25,073 cuneiform tablets, which are now in the possession of the British Museum in London. Gilgamesh was a legendary Sumerian king of Erech who ruled in Mesopotamia prior to the conquest by the Babylonians. Tablet XI of the history of this king is on view at the British Museum; a portion of the description accompanying this display reads: “…(this tablet) describes how the gods sent a flood to destroy the world. Like Noah, Utnapishtim was forewarned and built an ark to house and preserve living things. After the flood he sent out birds to look for dry land.”3

There are remarkable similarities in the two accounts of Noah and Utnapishtim, which leads one to believe the two stories derive from the same ancient root. The detailed similarities and differences between the Biblical and Sumerian accounts have been spelled out elsewhere and will not be repeated here.4 However, the key factor that makes these comparable accounts interesting from the viewpoint of a Bible believer is not so much their similarity, but rather a couple of the startling differences, namely the cause of the great deluge and the ultimate fate of the survivors of the flood.

In the Gilgamesh epic, the cause of the flood is attributed to the rashness of the god Enlil, who apparently gets into a dispute with other gods and mankind pays the price. In the Biblical account, mankind is punished for extraordinary wickedness and Noah is saved because of his righteousness. As in many pagan legends, the Utnapishtim tale displays the capriciousness of the gods and the apparent innocence of humankind. The Bible account argues for the responsibility of mankind to obey spiritual principles laid down in each dispensation by our heavenly Father. After their survival, the result for our two heroes is completely different. Utnapishtim and his wife become one with the immortal gods, but Noah and his family are commanded, in words echoing that spoken earlier to Adam and Eve, simply to renew man’s history on this planet (Gen. 8:17).

How extensive was the flood?

The extent of the flood is the only area of dispute. On one extreme of opinion are those who limit the flood to a local overflowing of the region bounded by the Tigrus and Euphrates rivers. On the other extreme, are those who believe the flood was not only global but also was part of a cataclysm that fully explains the current geology of the earth. The problem with both of these views is that there is little scientific evidence that can clearly back up and prove either one. Bible skeptics will say we have never seen a global flood and the geological evidence for such is lacking. The cataclysm people will cite a global flood and use it to explain everything in geology from the erosion that produced the magnificence of the Grand Canyon to the mechanism that accounts for the extinction of dinosaurs. Of course, both of these views cannot be right. In fact, both of them may be wrong! Let us try to examine rationally what is the hard logical evidence involved.

Two of the leading supporters of a global flood and great cataclysm are Whitcomb and Morris, who give a number of reasons why they believe in a global flood and earth-altering cataclysm, and the reader is referred to this reference for full details.5 6 In contrast to this is the view of skeptics who generally attack every aspect of the story, seeking to diminish in terms of size, scope and impact.7 This chapter will restrict itself to examining the point of view of Whitcomb and Morris and others of a similar opinion.

Supposition 1.

World population was sufficiently large and dispersed, requiring a truly global flood.

Neither the Bible nor any other historical record indicates what the population of the world was roughly 5,000 years ago. In order to estimate the population of the world at that time, the school of Whitcomb and Morris have resorted to statistics. The demographic formulas are well known and given the proper input should give reasonable results. However, this begs the question: Just what are the reasonable parameters to assume? We need to know the birth and death rates, and the average length of time for a generation to pass. Those making a case generously assume numbers that are favorable to their arguments based on the Biblical records of long lifetimes prior to the flood and using current values of population expansion.

With these ideas in mind Whitcomb and Morris8 estimate the world population at the time of Noah at over a billion beings and, with a slight adjustment in the input values, another of their opinion gets a figure of nine billion or more!9 This latter figure is almost 50% higher than the population of the world today.

The argument for an extremely large and dispersed population at the time of Noah simply does not seem reasonable based on the following:

  1. The world population at the time of Christ, almost three thousand years from the flood, was only 200 to 300 million.10Using the Bible’s own time scale the time from Noah to Christ was nearly twice that from Adam to Noah. How then could the world population have been 5 to 30 times greater at the time of the flood?
  2. With regard to population growth rates we know again from the Bible record that Noah was six hundred years old and had only three sons at the time of the deluge (the same number of sons that I had in 33 years). This argues for long generational time scales and birth rates that aren’t completely out of line with modern man. With assumptions along this line one would find that a population level of a few tens of millions (at most) would be more reasonable.
  3. Another fact that would argue against billions of human beings living at the time of Noah is that food supply, not birth rate, would be the determining factor on population limit. How could a billion or more humans have found sufficient food resources given the level of ancient agricultural knowledge? Even with all our modern technology it would be nearly impossible to feed the 9 billion or more people assumed in some texts.
  4. If the world population at the time of Noah was indeed greater than a billion or more people, one would expect that archaeological efforts would have long ago uncovered evidence for such. Such large-scale populations would have left behind telltale signs of their existence. I haven’t located a single piece of archaeological evidence in the literature to support the large population claim.

Supposition 2.

The ark was big enough to carry all animal species that lived on this planet.

The ark as described in Genesis was indeed a very large ship even by modern standards and its volume capacity of 1,518,750 cu. ft. with 101,250 sq. ft. of deck space on its three decks rivals that of modern ocean going transports. The ark needed no space for propulsion, nor any other kind of mechanicals, hence the claim that it could have held and fed 37,000 species is not unreasonable. Let us examine further the claim that all animal species on earth were represented on the ark.

  1. It has been asserted that 37,000 species could fit on the ark. This is based on the assumption that from about a million species on earth one could discount those able to survive the flood without the aid of Noah. However, as we have shown in earlier chapters, the actual number of species on earth is nearly 10 million, nearly ten times that assumed by Whitcomb and Morris. Even discounting all aquatic species the capacity of the ark would be hard pressed to have taken aboard representatives of all of these.
  2. Then there is the question of dinosaurs. To justify both their young earth and global flood claims and at the same time explain the fossil remains of all the various dinosaurs, it is claimed that they, too, were on the ark (as babies!). The usual justification for this is Genesis 6:4, There were giants in the earth in those days. But the word “giant”in this verse refers to the character of the leaders in that age rather than the size of any animal. The Hebrew text here refers to tyrants11 and is no doubt connected with the cause of the flood that the earth was filled with violence (Gen. 6:11, 13), i.e. due to spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). Dinosaurs then supposedly died out after the flood from the changed climatic conditions. Unfortunately the fossil evidence just doesn’t justify the assertion that this species co-existed with modern man.
  3. We also have to consider the evidence from fossil distributions of marsupials (animals that bear their young in pouches, such as the kangaroo). There is absolutely no evidence of fossil remains of this species of animal in Europe, Asia or Africa. It is assumed that they traveled to the ark over a land bridge from Australia; however, the land bridge would have disappeared after the flood. If it was global and oceans rose to their present level, how did they get back?12

Supposition 3:

The waters of the flood covered the highest mountains.

The text of the King James Version says: Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered (Gen. 7:20). However, the same exact Hebrew word is translated as hills in the previous verse. To make a case for covering Mount Everest, for example, we would need a flood level of greater than 29,000 ft.! How could this happen and where did all the water go afterward?

  1. The explanation is that prior to the flood the earth was covered with a canopy cloud cover that held a vast amount of water. The forty days and nights of rain unleashed a torrent that, combined with waters from the fountains of the deep, inundated the earth, covering even Mt. Everest. The existence of such a canopy cloud cover at the time of Noah was simply not possible. We know that mankind practiced normal agricultural methods from the time of Cain, who was a tiller of the soil, onwards. If a cloud cover dense enough to carry the amount of water required by Whitcomb and Morris existed in Noah’s day, nothing on earth could have received sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis to work, to say nothing of the lack of vitamin D conversion necessary for human beings to exist.
  2. To account for covering the highest mountains and at the same time trying to explain what happened after the flood, it is usually asserted that the mountains were much smaller and the oceans very shallow prior to Noah. If this is true it flies in the face of a vast amount of geological evidence. It also contradicts some of the very assumptions made by the school of Whitcomb and Morris as we already showed above in discussing supposed marsupial migrations.

Supposition 4:

When Genesis records that all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered it literally meant that the entire planet including Australia, North and South America, etc.

At first glance, the Mosaic account certainly seems to be literally saying that ALL the continents from Asia to the Americas were covered with water sufficient to submerge the highest mountain. However, we have to bear in mind that “the narrative is intended only to represent things as they appeared to the Noachic survivors.”13 When Moses said that God would put the dread of thee (Israel) and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven….(Deut. 2:25), did that literally happen to all nations on the earth or only those in contact with Israel? Again when the apostle Paul said that the gospel was preached to every creature which is under heaven (Col. 1:23), did he mean this in an absolute sense or not? There are many other examples in the scripture where things are meant in a relative sense even though the strict literalist might think otherwise, e.g. Mark 16:15, Acts 2:17, and others. I think it is reasonable to conclude that the account in Genesis is also speaking in a relative sense in terms of its extent.

In sum, the Whitcomb and Morris model of a global cataclysm with a flood covering even the highest mountains doesn’t hold water. It requires God completely rearranging the earth with vast alterations that would have changed the rotational speed and unleashed tectonic forces that would have swamped Noah and the ark in a monstrous tsunami. Of course the Lord God could have done any level of miracle that He wished in order to accomplish His goal of destroying wicked humanity. The issue is not what God could do, but what the evidence actually proves. Bro. Roberts once wrote: “The ways of God are always most wisely adapted to the requirements of each situation as it arises, and it will be found in the study of each case that the amount of miracle employed is the smallest that the case calls for. There is none of the prodigality of marvel – meaningless marvel that characterizes all artificial history…Only so much extra-natural effort is put forth as is needful for the objects in view.”14

I see no need to expand on his conclusion, namely, that the deluge was neither global, nor did it cover Mt. Everest. Were the skeptics then right that the deluge was just a small local flood and life outside of the Tigris/Euphrates river valleys was unaffected? Hardly, but we need to leave that discussion for the next part two of this article.

By John C. Bilello, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Footnotes

1 Strong’s number 5146, the same as 5118; rest…

2 James George Frazer, Sir, Folk-lore in the Old Testament: studies in comparative religion, legend and law, 1st edition. Macmillan and Co., Limited, London (1918), Vol. 1, pgs. 104-361. This book is out of print, but available for purchase from the following website: http://www.alibris.com. Also by the same author is his famous work on the origin of pagan religions The Golden Bough.

3 Picture of the cuneiform tablet which contains the Babylonian flood tale can be viewed at: http://www.greatcommission.com/london/

4 John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New   Jersey, (1961), pgs. 36-42.

5 ibid

6 http://christiananswers.net [search on “Noah”]

7 Mark Isaak, Problems with a Global Flood, 2nd Edition, © (1998), also at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html

8 Whitcomb and Morris, op. cit., pgs. 25-27.

9 Lambert Dolphin, “Population growth was very rapid for 1656 years until the Flood of Noah reduced the population to eight persons (4 couples). I have arbitrarily chosen the population at the time of the Flood as 9 billion, though as shown above this may be too conservative.” Quoted from: http://www.ldolphin.org/popul.html

10 Also from: www.ldolphin.org/popul.html

11 Strong’s number 5303 from 5307; properly, a feller, i.e. a bully or tyrant.

12 “…all facts are of God, they must be in agreement (with our Bibles). The animals ofNew   Zealand are different again from those ofAustralia. The animals ofAustralia, again differ entirely from those of the American continent: all differ from one another: and the fossil remains on all the continents show that this difference has always prevailed. Now if the flood were universal in the absolute sense, it is manifest that these facts could not be explained…” Quoted from: Robert Roberts, The Visible Hand of God, The Christadelphian,Birmingham,UK, 3rd edition, (1925), pgs. 66-67. (italics by Bro. Roberts).

13 ibid., pg. 68.

14 ibid., pg. 66.

Only ONE Bible HOPE

There Is Only One Bible Hope!

There Is Only One Bible Hope!

There is ONLY ONE Bible HOPEIntroduction

Since the time man discovered that the earth was round and not flat like many experts had believed it was, men have been reluctant to just accept traditional beliefs that are not supported by some sort of proof.

As a result, many would be quick to suggest that man as a result has come a long way in his knowledge and understanding of this world in which we live.

But this is far from being true of man’s knowledge of the One Hope as revealed in the Bible.

If we were to take an overview of the many religious groups in the world today and their claims to know and teach the One Bible Hope, one would have to say that there is more confusion about true Bible teaching today than there ever has been.

In fact so much is this the case that the majority of religions today don’t even make a big fuss about what you believe in terms of whether its right or wrong. Membership is no longer based on common beliefs, despite the Bible clearly stating that all true believers are to be of “one mind”.

Ephesians 4:4-5

“There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all…”

Over the centuries man has woven into religion many non-Biblical teachings.

For this reason, many people today find Bible teaching as presented by the various religious groups as too incredible to believe, preferring to think of them as ancient beliefs and superstitions that offered a world with little scientific proof an explanation to life that has now outlived its usefulness or credibility.

By comparison, in ancient times believers in the Bible were clear and convinced of the things they believed to be the One Hope of the Bible to the point that they were prepared to die for it.

The twelve men Christ chose as his closest followers, when he was alive on this earth, all went to their deaths being convicted of the things they witnessed and were taught by him.

What’s more, these men were put to death in gruel ways like stoning, crucifixion, being cast into boiling hot cauldrons of oil and being thrown to the lions before spectators, many were tortured before this, which all goes to make their conviction all the more remarkable.

Later during the reformation in the 16th century many thousands of believers across Europe were burnt at the stake for their conviction in the One Hope of the Bible.

The world we live in today is a vastly different place in both beliefs and conviction.

Whilst we fully support the idea that we should challenge the validity of any teaching claiming to bring future benefit to those who accept it, neither should we disregard or mock anything we haven’t checked out for ourselves.

And it would seem reasonable to suggest that the teaching claiming the greatest benefit for its adherents are the ones most worthy of our time to check out.

The current confusion of bible teaching was something that the apostles of Christ prophesied as coming on the religious world even in their own day, but that it would increase there from unto the later days ie. the days before Christ’s Return to the Earth.

Current confusion– One bible many religions, does it really matter what we believe?

2Timothy 4:3-4

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Acts 17:21

“Now all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”

2Timothy 3:7

“…ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

So, the Bible is very clear that not all people who claim to believe in the Bible would believe in the Truth or the true message of the Bible.  As sad as this is, sincerity ie. To be sincere with what you believe, is not enough to save you.  Only the Truth can save you.

And there are many false beliefs in the world, so it is up to each one of us to find the Truth, this is a test by God of our Faith and Works to truly seek his Truth out.

This is what Paul said about this:

Who (God) will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life…”  Romans 2:6-7

So if we truly seek after the Truth of God’s Word He will help us.  This is what Paul is telling us here.

How did this present situation come about?

Well most false religious teaching today can be traced back in time to the rise of Christianity under Constantine who became the first pagan Roman Politician to see the spread in Christian follows as something to champion in order to win their support for his own political ends.

Hendrik Van Loon, in summarising the life of Constantine wrote:

(Constantine was revered as a saint by the Catholic Church)

“This wild Serbian who had wielded a spear on every battlefield of Europe, from York in England to Byzantium on the shores of the Bosphorus, was among other things the murderer of his wife, the murderer of his brother-in-law, the murderer of his nephew (a boy of 7), and the executioner of several other relatives of minor degree and importance.”

“That he lived and died a barbarian who had outwardly accepted Christianity, yet until the end of his days tried to read the riddle of the future from the steaming entrails of sacrificial sheep…”

“For the leaders of the Church in the first half of the fourth century were practical politicians…who elevated Christianity from the rank of a minor sect to the dignity of the official Church of the State.”

This is a very clear explanation of how we got into this current situation of false religion.  In essence religion was taken over by politicians who saw the opportunity to ride on this popular movement and win the support of the people to rule.

However, when they got into power, like all good politicians they saw the need to centralise their power base or risk the threat that the ousted power support would rise again and through them out.

So, they merged Christianity in with pagan religion, firstly by the key calendar events or celebrations like December 25th on which day Nimrod’s rebirth was celebrated.  This day they turned into Christ’s Birth even though he was born around July.

From here they slowly allowed more and more of the pagan traditions and beliefs to infiltrate Christianity and Bible Truth.  You can trace all this in the history of religion and see when false beliefs were adoption eg. Infant sprinkling, the Trinity, Immortal soul and so on.

Here is a very quick summary of some of the conflicting Church vs Bible beliefs:

The Churches TeachThe Bible Teaches
·       There is a mysterious Trinity, “One God yet Three”

 

·       “To us there is but one God the Father…and one Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 8:6)
·       Purgatory is a place of temporary punishment for departed souls

 

·       “For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything…their love, hatred, envy is perished” (Ecc. 9;5-6)
·       The soul is immortal and cannot be destroyed·       “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ez 18:4)  “All have sinned” (Rom 6:4)
·       Sprinkling of infants constitutes baptism

 

 

·       Heaven is a place of reward and hell is a place of torment

 

·       “If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest be baptised”  (Acts 8:37)

 

·       “No man hath ascended into heaven:  (Jn 3:13)  “In death there is no remembrance of Thee” and “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Psa 6:5, Matt 5:5)

·       Satan is a supernatural evil being causing men to sin

 

·       “Whatsoever thing from without entereth into a man cannot defile him…from within out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts etc…”  (Mk 7:18-22)

 

Here is a quick summary of when some of these beliefs crept into Christianity:

GROWTH OF FALSE TEACHING and the year in which it came to prominence…Year of Teaching
Immortality of the soul124 AD
Pre-human existence of Christ124 AD
Sprinkling instead of immersion150 AD
Infant baptism180 AD
Constantine triumphs the Christian cause and makes apostate Christianity the state religion and forms what has become known as The Roman Catholic Church312 AD
Jesus a person within the Godhead325 AD
“Holy Ghost” a person within the Godhead381 AD
Doctrine of purgatory431 AD
Exaltation of Mary “the Mother of God”431 AD

From this we can clearly see how false teaching has infiltrated religion and today without people searching this out, they would not even have any idea about this.

You owe it to yourself to learn what the real true teaching of the Bible is!

So what is Bible Truth– i.e. What is God’s purpose all about and how are we involved in this?

What must we do now?  

  • Search the scriptures, for they alone can teach us the Truth
  • “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12
  • “study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed”  2 Timothy 2:15
The Reliability of the Gospel Records

Reliability of the Gospel Records

Reliability of the Gospel Records

The Reliability of the Gospel RecordsThere is considerable evidence that the Gospels are a reliable record of the events that they describe.

This evidence was broken into two main kinds, internal and external.

The internal evidence relies on nothing outside the Bible, but can be seen entirely from the text itself. The external evidence involves comparing the Gospel records with the records of archaeology, ancient writers and other material from the time of the Gospels.

External Evidence

Among the external evidence of the Reliability of the Gospel records we have the following:

Archaeology and History:

The detail of daily life, the times, places and sometimes people which appear in the Gospel narratives can be matched with details of the same things discovered by archaeologists or contained in ancient writings.

Some refer to the minutiae of life: stone water jars (John) and tiled roofs (Luke).

Others involve an understanding of the working of government in the Roman empire, details of geography or the names of prominent men. The Gospels show both kinds of evidence in considerable quantity.

Linguistic Fossils:

The Gospels contain a number of Aramaic phrases, and Aramaic or Hebrew forms are often present in the Greek in which the Gospels were written. It would be virtually impossible for someone living in the Gentile world, which after 70 AD included the areas of Judea and Galilee, to invent a text with such a Hebraic linguistic form.

Undesigned Coincidences:

These are tiny, apparently irrelevant details in one Gospel which match similar details in other Gospels to reveal a sub-narrative which does not appear in the main story.

Undesigned coincidences only appear in records which are accurate representations of real events; they are extremely difficult to include in a fictional or inaccurate account.

The presence of a large number of undesigned coincidences in the Gospels (with possibly still more to be found) indicates that they contain exactly such an accurate record.

Not only that, but they indicate that the manuscripts were copied accurately after the Gospels were written.

The Frequency Distribution of Names:

Names change with the decades and a picture of precisely what proportion of people would have each name would be very difficult to remember, or to discover from scratch without modern methods of analysis.

Despite this, an analysis of the names in the New Testament shows that they have precisely the kind of distribution that we would expect from a true account, accurately remembered.

Internal Evidence

Among the Internal Evidence of the reliability of the Gospel record we have the following:

Detail in the Account:

The writer of a fictional account who wished to pass off his work as a true record would avoid details of customs, people, places and times as these could easily be tested against accurate accounts or the memory of witnesses. A writer recalling an actual event, however, might very well include such detail as part of the memory of what happened.

The Gospels are full of such details; Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree (Luke 19:4), while Jesus made clay to heal the blind man (John 9:6–7).

Details like this are completely absent from such apocryphal gospels as the Gospel of Thomas, or are flagrantly wrong in others, such as the Gospel of Peter or of Barnabas.

Inclusion of Irrelevant Material:

This is material which doesn’t contribute to the account involved. Some is seemingly irrelevant to the story being told, such as the detail that the fragrance of the oil with which the feet of Jesus were anointed filled the house (John 12:3). Some is irrelevant to the early Christian community, such as the fact that Jesus paid the temple tax after sending Peter to find a coin in the mouth of a fish. Some might even be counter-productive, such as the fact that Jesus was accused of being mad (John 10:20), or that he ate with sinners (e.g. Luke 15:1–2).

Someone writing a fictional account would be unlikely to include detail which does not bear on the story; and to include detail which would detract from the message of the account would be very odd unless the account was an accurate record of something that really happened.

The Presence of Embarrassing Material:

The Gospels were written either by the Apostles or people close to them, who would look up to them and see them as important spiritual leaders. They would not invent accounts which showed the Apostles in a poor light. But the Gospels contain many such details. The disciples failed to understand Jesus’ message (Mark 9:32) and squabbled with one another as to who was most important among them (Luke 22:24). Peter denied Jesus (Mark 14:66-72), the other disciples forsook him and fled (Matthew 26:56), and Jesus’ brothers (who included James and Judas who later became prominent in the church and wrote letters found in the New Testament) didn’t believe him (John 7:5).

This shows an honest and accurate account of real events rather than a work of fiction.

Inspiration

We have seen evidence for the reliability of the Gospel accounts. Jesus said and did what the Gospels record. The accounts are accurate, and as the tests were carried out on modern texts, the originals must have been copied with considerable accuracy.

What we haven’t considered is evidence of inspiration, that the Gospels contain a message from God.

This can be shown by fulfilled prophecy (for example the Olivet prophecy of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21) or by the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.

When we consider also how the Old and New testaments are interlinked, we can see that the whole Bible is God’s word.

By John Thorpe

Post Modernism vs Bible Truth

Postmodernism vs The Bible and Truth

Postmodernism vs. The Bible and Truth

The Western media is full of an ideology called “Postmodernism”, but how does this stack up against the Bible’s teaching on “Truth”?Post Modernism vs Bible Truth

The ‘Postmodern’ Worldview

Post modernism is hard to define. It is a movement, a mood, a world view which has been gaining popularity in the last 30 years.
The basic idea is that humans cannot trust their own reasoning skills. That the way we think has been preconditioned by our culture. Therefore, what we believe to be true is not actually true, it is a perception, an interpretation of something which we think.

The Effect of Postmodernist Views

Post modernists say that language is simply the labels that the powerful in society have used to impose their truth on the masses. For this reason, “political correctness” is now high on the news agenda to ensure anyone who uses language which might suppress or impose their culture on others is brought to account.

Post modernists say that the law has been used as the mechanism to maintain power by the dominant cultures of society. Law is now used to attempt to rebalance this as the recent case about Ashers Bakery highlighted (This was about a UK judge ruling against Ashers Bakery on refusal to bake a cake promoting gay marriage.) The bakery had refused to print an anti-homosexual marriage message on a cake because it was against the owners’ Christian values – and the government pursued and fined them for so doing. This is postmodern in that the law is being used to ‘rebalance society’ and include those groups who are perceived as have been historically oppressed.

Post modernists say that History and Literature have been written by the victorious who are all bias because of their culture. So we find that in academic circles texts are “deconstructed” to reveal these biases. One of the most common is to look at Shakespeare and deconstruct his stories to seek to reveal how he was sexist.

They go even further too. It is suggested that society, as we think of it, is a human construction. That it is based, not on right and wrong, but based on what the powerful have wanted us to believe.

The Death of “Truth”

Truth, they say, is therefore subjective, depending on your culture and upbringing. They believe man is trapped inside his culture prison, never to escape. Therefore, instead of seeking truth, we should focus on what feels right. What emotion connects with us as individuals. “If it feels good it’s true for you”.

German Philosopher called Friedrich NietzscheWe should never impose our truth on others, because, say they, for all truth is equal and valid.

Many of the ideas of postmodernism can be traced back to a German Philosopher called Friedrich Nietzsche (pronounced ‘knee-cha’).

These quotes from him help to define the mindset:
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
“There are no eternal facts, as there are no absolute truths.”

This view is now permeating through most of society in the West, especially when it comes to the big questions of life. The quest for truth has been given up on. No longer do we see proper debates on fundamental topics. It is now unpopular to put a view across which dares to say others are wrong. What we are witnessing is: ‘the death of truth’.

It’s a new wave of human thought and it is a powerful one affecting many areas of Western society.

The Bible and “Truth”

The Bible teaches that man is indeed in an unreliable state. 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?we read in Jeremiah 17:9
However, unlike the postmodernists who have therefore concluded that we should give up on looking for absolute truth, the Bible offers a way to a being not touched by the problems of humanity. That ‘being’ is Almighty God, the creator of the heavens and the earth.

The Bible presents God as the source of all truth. “A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he…”
we read in Deuteronomy 32:4.

His word the Bible is defined as “the scripture of truth” in Daniel 10:21 and Jesus says that God’s word “is truth” in John 17:17. The Bible claims to be penned by men and woman who were compelled to write down words directly from God in a process the bible calls “inspiration”.

Therefore, although it may be beyond humans to discover Truth of themselves the Bible offers a way in which we can perceive a universal Truth. That “truth” is the self-expression of God.

“Truth” is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God.

That “truth” is found alone in God’s word.

By Matt Davies

 

 

 

How to read the Bible Effectively

How to Read the Bible Effectively

How to Read the Bible Effectively

How to Start Reading the Bible

How to read the Bible EffectivelyThere is something to be realised right at the beginning. You cannot read the Bible in the way you might read some other books. The Bible is unique and it is good to recognise it right at the start. There is nothing like it or equal to it anywhere else in the world, and therefore the way you read it is important.

You must read it carefully, because every word is important. With other books, individual words may not in themselves have particular significance – but with the Bible it is different, because of what the Bible is.

The Mind of God

Remember the Bible is the documentation of the mind of God. It is the thought of God, expressed in the syllables of human speech. It is the purpose of the Eternal made articulate and imprinted upon the parchment of a book. If so great a concept is confined within the limitations of human language, how important must the words be themselves. Many a man has misunderstood the Bible because he was not willing to take care to read it properly and reverently. It is far more than printers’ ink and paper.

Read with RespectIt deserves respect and esteem.

Some books can be read cursorily, lightly skipping from one chapter to another – but not the Bible.

What time of day you read it and how much you read may have to be regulated by the facts and forces of your particular way of life. But if you really mean business about this enterprise, then the nature of your reading must be careful and reverent. True Bible Students have always been Bible readers. This is not said boastfully, but only to justify offering a word of advice about the method of reading.

We have found from our experience that it is a good and profitable thing to read the Bible every day and we have a system of reading which, if followed, enables us to read the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in the course of 12 months.

This is done by following a table of readings. Using these reading tables gives the added benefit that all of us are reading the same portions of Scripture each day all over the world. So the fellowship of faith is sustained and strengthened by the same thoughts and ideas being pondered upon and weighed from the Word of God.

How to Read

If you are going to read a portion of the Bible every day there is one piece of advice I would offer and it is this. Take care that the exercise does not become a performance – a ritual – so that we do it as a matter of course, like cleaning our teeth or taking the dog for a walk. If that was to happen, before long we should be saying: “Let’s get the readings out of the way and then we can…” That is not the way to start reading the Bible. Quite obviously the objective is to read with a view to understanding.

I met a man the other day who had been reading the Bible every day for 27 years – that meant he had read the prophecy of Habakkuk 27 times but he confessed that he had never understood it. Imagine reading something every year for 27 years and never understanding what had been read. His reading was a performance – a habit – superficial and without feeling.

Read every day by all means but try to read penetratingly. Speaking for myself, I find that where a passage of Scripture is not immediately and clearly self-evident as to its meaning, then it is a good thing to read it several times slowly and to meditate upon and ponder the actual words used, remembering that every word is important.

An Open Mind

Now we must get down to the nitty gritty about Bible reading. If you are reading for the purpose of discovering the truth about God and His purpose, it is essential to come with a genuine desire for truth, and be ready to face the consequences of such a discovery.

What I mean is this. Some people come to the Bible not to discover truth but to find support for ideas they have already formulated in their own mind.

People are often inclined to invent a God which suits their own idea of what He ought to be like. Their own thoughts and ideas become their God – so they come to the Bible seeking to justify the God they have invented.

Sometimes by a capricious selection of certain passages of Scripture and a wilful rejection of others, they can satisfy themselves that their God is the God of the Bible. This is not the way to discover the truth that is revealed in God’s Word.

Problem Areas

If possible, it is best to read the Bible without any preconceived notions at all. That, of course, is asking a lot, but the truth is that the person most likely to be filled is the person who is most empty. The difficulty is that there are certain preconceived ideas which, because of their very nature, are likely to hinder and harm the cause of truth.

Usually those ideas are pagan and consequently out of harmony with the divine purpose revealed in the Bible.

Just as an example of what I mean – there is the Greek and therefore pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

The idea is that man by his very nature is immortal and indestructible. This is a pernicious doctrine and has the effect of blinding people to so much of the truth revealed in the Bible.

It robs death of its real meaning;

it diminishes the awful power of sin;

it confuses the meaning of redemption;

it clouds a true insight into God’s real purpose with the world;

it dislocates a proper understanding of God’s kingdom; and

it contradicts the Bible’s clear teaching about the meaning and need of resurrection as a means of survival.

This is but one illustration of how much we need to come to the Bible with a mind which is open and a heart desiring the truth.

Read it All

The next condition I draw attention to is the need to read the whole Bible.

The Bible had many writers – but one author. It is a transcript of that one author’s purpose and will and it is one complete organic whole. The moment we open the Bible, God is coming close to us.

It is not our business to pronounce judgment upon the value or truth of this part or that. Men did not originate the words, they are only the custodians – they are not the source. If we begin to select this and reject that, we are at once under mining the possibility of gaining a balanced view of God’s Truth. But people do this.

They treat the Word of God as though it is a large department store.

You can wander through such a store saying ‘Yes I like that, that suits me well’, or ‘Oh dear no – I dislike that, that is not for me’. That’s perfectly alright in a department store, but it’s a tragic mistake when it comes to the Bible. But it happens. They read these words:

“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

They say ‘That is good and I like it’.

But then later on they read:

“Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:33), or Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

They say ‘I do not like that, it does not suit my ideas and therefore I cannot receive it’.

Old and New

Then there are those who think that the only important part of the Bible is the New Testament and that everything in the Old Testament is old fashioned and out-of-date. Anybody who believes this has erected a barrier to a proper understanding of the Bible, right at the start. The relationship between the two Testaments is an essential relationship and one of perfect harmony.

The Old completes the New as much as the New completes the Old. Neither is sufficient without the other.

The Old prepares for the New. The New authenticates the Old. The New Testament does not make the Old void, it makes it valid. The New Testament does not weaken the moral law of the Old Testament – instead it develops it and moves from the letter deep into the spiritual part of human life. There is Grace in the Old Testament and there is Law in the New Testament and there is fulfilment in both.

The Bible that Jesus used was what we know as the Old Testament. So if anyone is about to say ‘I believe in Jesus but I cannot believe in the Old Testament’ they have proposed a great contradiction.

In support of what I mean consider this passage:

“Jesus said to them, Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13:51–52).

True Instruction

True InstructionHere is the estimate of Jesus about the meaning of true instruction in the things of God. Dwell on the phrase – “things new and old”. We must be careful to avoid the idea that when the Lord said this he meant things new and things old, as though he was speaking of two separate things or two different sets of ideas.

There is only one thing suggested: one set of ideas – namely the things which are new and old at the same time. The word new here does not mean fresh in the sense that it has just begun, nor does the word old mean something which is ancient and about to pass away.

Everything is new and everything is old. The principle is old, the application is new. The root is old, the blossom is new. The tree is old – the fruit is new every season. The two things are essential to growth. Destroy the old and new growth will be greatly hindered.

See then the relationship between the Old and the New – they are the same things.

The Road to Emmaus In Luke chapter 24 we encounter two disciples who were heading home at the end of a tragic day. It was tragic because their hopes had been dashed. Jesus – the one they expected to see triumphant – had been executed. Their lives were in the past tense. They spoke about:

“Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).

“We were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).

Now notice what the stranger did, as the record continues:

“Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

From the Old Testament, Jesus opened their eyes. He did not bring them any new teaching – he gave them a new understanding of old things. He threw new light on familiar passages. And it changed their lives, for later:

“They said to one another, Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us on the road, and while he opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

See then how they reacted. They sauntered out of Jerusalem wearily – they went back at the double excitedly.

So what folly it is to say the Old Testament is finished and can be disregarded, when Jesus used it to rejuvenate his own disciples. The lesson is – be sure to read the whole Bible.

Interpretation

Now a word or two about methods of interpretation. I am sure it is true to say that the Bible has two levels of understanding. There is that part of it which is plain, unambiguous and crystal clear, as to its meaning, given a fair and open mind. The teaching is self-evident.

But the Bible is not a slot machine.

Bible InterpretationIt is not just a case of putting in the coin and out comes the information. It does not provide ready-made answers to every problem at a flick of the wrist.

There are parts of the Bible where meanings and intentions are submerged – that is, they need to be sought after, they need to be uncovered and exposed.

A better figure is that of harvest. God rewards the diligent. If you sow you reap. If you are neglectful and careless the harvest is poor. There are laws of fruitfulness which have to be observed, else the result is scanty. This old law of harvest is especially true when it comes to finding the deep things of God. If someone sows sparingly he or she will reap sparingly.

Key Passage

Now I want to draw your attention to what seems to me to be, according to the Bible, the best means of finding truly spiritual knowledge and understanding.

It brings us to a saying of Jesus in the gospel of John:

Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority” (John 7:16–17).

Notice what Jesus is saying – that the real secret of spiritual knowledge is obedience. In other words, the person who is most likely to discover the real truth is the person who is seeking it in order to obey it. This is in strict accord with the remainder of Bible teaching:

“The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way (Psalm 25:9); The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10);

“For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

These passages reveal that the Truth places no condition upon the accidents of our life, or our education, or our social standing. But the Truth demands honesty, reverence and sympathy.

It is revealed by God to the lowly and the contrite.

“He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty” (Luke 1:53).

What we Are

Here is the secret revealed: how much we know of the real truth about God is regulated by what we are in ourselves.

If a man sows to the flesh he cannot reap the finer things of the spirit, even though his intellect is clear and his brain nimble.

The Certainty of the TruthThe certainty of the truth and the deepest know ledge of God does not depend at last upon the discoveries of science, nor the proof of miracles, nor the explanation of history. If it did then the truth would be in the reach chiefly of those who were the cleverest. Those who could weigh evidence, investigate history and languages, and study by experiment. This is exactly the opposite of what God says, as we have seen.

Again the truth about God is not likely to be found by those who seek it merely to speculate upon it, for truth ignored or misapplied is nearly always truth lost. Remember what Jesus said:

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority” (John 7:16–17).

A man who speculates about the truth but never does it has become half false already. In a way, the very truth itself has for him been turned into falsehood. So we ought to mark carefully the forces which blind men to the real truth revealed in God’s word – so that we can be careful to avoid them.

Here they are:

✓Prejudice,

✓Intellectual Vanity,

✓Speculative Curiosity,

✓Being superficial about serious things,

✓Worldly preoccupations,

✓Immorality.

God’s Message for All

Think about it! Did prejudice ever discern truly and judge fairly? Can idle curiosity ever discover spiritual reality?

Was anything deep and majestic ever revealed to the silly and the frivolous?

Is it possible that a mind dominated by materialism will be able to understand the things of the Spirit? The words of Jesus are singularly true – it is the person who seeks the truth in order to obey it who is most likely to find it at its best and its deepest. It is important to realise this because there is abroad an idea that the Bible can be understood only by those who are well educated and who hold degrees from some university or other.

As a result many people are put off making the attempt, thinking that they are not clever enough to understand the Word of God. Could there be anything further from the truth? Can you think for one minute that God would only communicate to mankind in such a way that only the very cleverest could understand him? Of course not!

The Word of God is for everybody – the educated and the uneducated alike. God is not interested in somebody’s education. The simplest mind can understand the Bible; it’s directed to the honest heart not to the clever mind. Jesus once said: “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).

Straightforward

In general the Bible means what it says. There are parts which are symbolic, but common sense will soon tell you which they are. For the most part, what the Bible teaches can be taken at face value. When it says that people are dead, it does not mean they are alive on another level of existence.

When it says that God will establish His kingdom of earth it does not mean it is just a spiritual reformation in human hearts. When it says that the Son of God rose from the dead, it does not mean it was a lifting up of his mind to the highest experience of God.

It does use symbol and figurative language at times, so it depicts the devil as a roaring lion; the Lord is described as a lamb; the King has a two-edged sword projecting from his mouth. Your common sense tells you that these are symbolic statements and are to be understood in that way.

One Last Word

Finally I must say this. There is one great harmonious theme running right through the Bible and it can be summed up in one great Bible phrase:

“The kingdom of God”. This phrase describes the sovereignty of God extending over all the life of mankind and over all the earth. It tells of a time to come when God’s glory will be manifested in every part when His will is done by every person.

At that time every tear will be wiped away, all pain will end, all death will be abolished. The final triumph of God will be achieved through the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to earth, to establish once for all the government of God with Christ as its unchallenged King.

If you will read and understand the Bible and make it the centre of your life, by loving God and obeying His will, the prospect before you is wonderful.

God offers the gift of eternal life – unsullied, untarnished and unending – in God’s glorious kingdom. You cannot do it alone. God must be your help.

Remember: it is the humble He teaches His way (Psalm 25:9). Pray to him for strengths and help and guidance.

Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.

May the Lord bless you richly in your search.

By Dennis Gillett

English Bible History

ENGLISH BIBLE HISTORY

ENGLISH BIBLE HISTORY

English Bible HistoryEnglish Bible History

The fascinating story of how we got the Bible in its present form actually starts thousands of years ago, as briefly outlined in our Timeline of Bible Translation History. As a background study, we recommend that you first review our discussion of the Pre-Reformation History of the Bible from 1,400 B.C. to 1,400 A.D., which covers the transmission of the scripture through the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, and the 1,000 years of the Dark & Middle Ages when the Word was trapped in only Latin. Our starting point in this discussion of Bible history, however, is the advent of the scripture in the English language with the “Morning Star of the Reformation”, John Wycliffe.

John WycliffeJohn Wycliffe

The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

John HusJohn Hus

One of Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. The prophecy of Hus had come true! Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin.

Johann GutenbergJohann Gutenberg

Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450’s, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated. Born as “Johann Gensfleisch” (John Gooseflesh), he preferred to be known as “Johann Gutenberg” (John Beautiful Mountain). Ironically, though he had created what many believe to be the most important invention in history, Gutenberg was a victim of unscrupulous business associates who took control of his business and left him in poverty. Nevertheless, the invention of the movable-type printing press meant that Bibles and books could finally be effectively produced in large quantities in a short period of time. This was essential to the success of the Reformation.

Thomas Linacre

In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8th, Thomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.” The Latin had become so corrupt that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel… yet the Church still threatened to kill anyone who read the scripture in any language other than Latin… though Latin was not an original language of the scriptures.

John ColetJohn Colet

In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could understand, that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in! (Sadly, while the enormous and beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral remains the main church in London today, as of 2003, typical Sunday morning worship attendance is only around 200 people… and most of them are tourists). Fortunately for Colet, he was a powerful man with friends in high places, so he amazingly managed to avoid execution.

ErasmusErasmus

In considering the experiences of Linacre and Colet, the great scholar Erasmus was so moved to correct the corrupt Latin Vulgate, that in 1516, with the help of printer John Froben, he published a Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament. The Latin part was not the corrupt Vulgate, but his own fresh rendering of the text from the more accurate and reliable Greek, which he had managed to collate from a half-dozen partial old Greek New Testament manuscripts he had acquired. This milestone was the first non-Latin Vulgate text of the scripture to be produced in a millennium… and the first ever to come off a printing press. The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew (Old Testament) languages to maintain accuracy… and to translate them faithfully into the languages of the common people, whether that be English, German, or any other tongue. No sympathy for this “illegal activity” was to be found from Rome… even as the words of Pope Leo X’s declaration that “thefable of Christ was quite profitable to him” continued through the years to infuriate the people of God.

William TyndaleWilliam Tyndale

William Tyndale was the Captain of the Army of Reformers, and was their spiritual leader. Tyndale holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius, so fluent in eight languages that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. He is frequently referred to as the “Architect of the English Language”, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today

Martin LutherMartin Luther

Martin Luther had a small head-start on Tyndale, as Luther declared his intolerance for the Roman Church’s corruption on Halloween in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther, who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him, would translate the New Testament into German for the first time from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and publish it in September of 1522. Luther also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, and another edition of the German New Testament in 1529. In the 1530’s he would go on to publish the entire Bible in German.

William Tyndale wanted to use the same 1516 Erasmus text as a source to translate and print the New Testament in English for the first time in history. Tyndale showed up on Luther’s doorstep in Germany in 1525, and by year’s end had translated the New Testament into English. Tyndale had been forced to flee England, because of the wide-spread rumor that his English New Testament project was underway, causing inquisitors and bounty hunters to be constantly on Tyndale’s trail to arrest him and prevent his project. God foiled their plans, and in 1525-1526 the Tyndale New Testament became the first printed edition of the scripture in the English language. Subsequent printings of the Tyndale New Testament in the 1530’s were often elaborately illustrated.

They were burned as soon as the Bishop could confiscate them, but copies trickled through and actually ended up in the bedroom of King Henry VIII. The more the King and Bishop resisted its distribution, the more fascinated the public at large became. The church declared it contained thousands of errors as they torched hundreds of New Testaments confiscated by the clergy, while in fact, they burned them because they could find no errors at all. One risked death by burning if caught in mere possession of Tyndale’s forbidden books.

Having God’s Word available to the public in the language of the common man, English, would have meant disaster to the church. No longer would they control access to the scriptures. If people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue, the church’s income and power would crumble. They could not possibly continue to get away with selling indulgences (the forgiveness of sins) or selling the release of loved ones from a church-manufactured “Purgatory”. People would begin to challenge the church’s authority if the church were exposed as frauds and thieves. The contradictions between what God’s Word said, and what the priests taught, would open the public’s eyes and the truth would set them free from the grip of fear that the institutional church held. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. The need for priests would vanish through the priesthood of all believers. The veneration of church-canonized Saints and Mary would be called into question. The availability of the scriptures in English was the biggest threat imaginable to the wicked church. Neither side would give up without a fight.

Today, there are only two known copies left of Tyndale’s 1525-26 First Edition. Any copies printed prior to 1570 are extremely valuable. Tyndale’s flight was an inspiration to freedom-loving Englishmen who drew courage from the 11 years that he was hunted. Books and Bibles flowed into England in bales of cotton and sacks of flour. Ironically, Tyndale’s biggest customer was the King’s men, who would buy up every copy available to burn them… and Tyndale used their money to print even more! In the end, Tyndale was caught: betrayed by an Englishman that he had befriended. Tyndale was incarcerated for 500 days before he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. Tyndale’s last words were, “Oh Lord, open the King of England’s eyes”. This prayer would be answered just three years later in1539, when King Henry VIII finally allowed, and even funded, the printing of an English Bible known as the “Great Bible”. But before that could happen…

Myles CoverdaleMyles Coverdale

Myles Coverdale and John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers had remained loyal disciples the last six years of Tyndale’s life, and they carried the English Bible project forward and even accelerated it. Coverdale finished translating the Old Testament, and in 1535 he printed the first complete Bible in the English language, making use of Luther’s German text and the Latin as sources. Thus, the first complete English Bible was printed on October 4, 1535, and is known as the Coverdale Bible.

John RogersJohn Rogers

John Rogers went on to print the second complete English Bible in 1537. It was, however, the first English Bible translated from the original Biblical languages of Hebrew & Greek. He printed it under the pseudonym “Thomas Matthew”, (an assumed name that had actually been used by Tyndale at one time) as a considerable part of this Bible was the translation of Tyndale, whose writings had been condemned by the English authorities. It is a composite made up of Tyndale’s Pentateuch and New Testament (1534-1535 edition) and Coverdale’s Bible and some of Roger’s own translation of the text. It remains known most commonly as the Matthew-Tyndale Bible. It went through a nearly identical second-edition printing in 1549.

Thomas CranmerThomas Cranmer

In 1539Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, hired Myles Coverdale at the bequest of King Henry VIII to publish the “Great Bible”. It became the first English Bible authorized for public use, as it was distributed to every church, chained to the pulpit, and a reader was even provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God in plain English. It would seem that William Tyndale’s last wish had been granted…just three years after his martyrdom. Cranmer’s Bible, published by Coverdale, was known as the Great Bible due to its great size: a large pulpit folio measuring over 14 inches tall. Seven editions of this version were printed between April of 1539 and December of 1541.

King Henry VIIIKing Henry VIII

It was not that King Henry VIII had a change of conscience regarding publishing the Bible in English. His motives were more sinister… but the Lord sometimes uses the evil intentions of men to bring about His glory. King Henry VIII had in fact, requested that the Pope permit him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. The Pope refused. King Henry responded by marrying his mistress anyway, (later having two of his many wives executed), and thumbing his nose at the Pope by renouncing Roman Catholicism, taking England out from under Rome’s religious control, and declaring himself as the reigning head of State to also be the new head of the Church. This new branch of the Christian Church, neither Roman Catholic nor truly Protestant, became known as the Anglican Church or the Church of England. King Henry acted essentially as its “Pope”. His first act was to further defy the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the scriptures in English… the first legal English Bible… just for spite.

Queen MaryQueen Mary

The ebb and flow of freedom continued through the 1540’s…and into the 1550’s. After King Henry VIII, King Edward VI took the throne, and after his death, the reign of Queen “Bloody” Mary was the next obstacle to the printing of the Bible in English. She was possessed in her quest to return England to the Roman Church. In 1555, John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers and Thomas Cranmer were both burned at the stake. Mary went on to burn reformers at the stake by the hundreds for the “crime” of being a Protestant. This era was known as the Marian Exile, and the refugees fled from England with little hope of ever seeing their home or friends again.

John FoxeJohn Foxe

In the 1550’s, the Church at Geneva, Switzerland, was very sympathetic to the reformer refugees and was one of only a few safe havens for a desperate people. Many of them met in Geneva, led by Myles Coverdale and John Foxe (publisher of the famous Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which is to this day the only exhaustive reference work on the persecution and martyrdom of Early Christians and Protestants from the first century up to the mid-16th century), as well as Thomas Sampson and William Whittingham. There, with the protection of the great theologian John Calvin (author of the most famous theological book ever published, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion) and John Knox, the great Reformer of the Scottish Church, the Church of Geneva determined to produce a Bible that would educate their families while they continued in exile.

John CalvinJohn Calvin

The New Testament was completed in 1557, and the complete Bible was first published in 1560. It became known as the Geneva Bible. Due to a passage in Genesis describing the clothing that God fashioned for Adam and Eve upon expulsion from the Garden of Eden as “Breeches” (an antiquated form of “Britches”), some people referred to the Geneva Bible as the Breeches Bible.

 

John KnoxJohn Knox

The Geneva Bible was the first Bible to add numbered verses to the chapters, so that referencing specific passages would be easier. Every chapter was also accompanied by extensive marginal notes and references so thorough and complete that the Geneva Bible is also considered the first English “Study Bible”. William Shakespeare quotes hundreds of times in his plays from the Geneva translation of the Bible. The Geneva Bible became the Bible of choice for over 100 years of English speaking Christians. Between 1560 and 1644 at least 144 editions of this Bible were published. Examination of the 1611 King James Bible shows clearly that its translators were influenced much more by the Geneva Bible, than by any other source. The Geneva Bible itself retains over 90% of William Tyndale’s original English translation. The Geneva in fact, remained more popular than the King James Version until decades after its original release in 1611! The Geneva holds the honor of being the first Bible taken to America, and the Bible of the Puritans and Pilgrims. It is truly the “Bible of the Protestant Reformation.” Strangely, the famous Geneva Bible has been out-of-print since 1644, so the only way to obtain one is to either purchase an original printing of the Geneva Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1560 Geneva Bible.

With the end of Queen Mary’s bloody reign, the reformers could safely return to England. The Anglican Church, now under Queen Elizabeth I, reluctantly tolerated the printing and distribution of Geneva version Bibles in England. The marginal notes, which were vehemently against the institutional Church of the day, did not rest well with the rulers of the day. Another version, one with a less inflammatory tone was desired, and the copies of the Great Bible were getting to be decades old. In 1568, a revision of the Great Bible known as the Bishop’s Bible was introduced. Despite 19 editions being printed between 1568 and 1606, this Bible, referred to as the “rough draft of the King James Version”, never gained much of a foothold of popularity among the people. The Geneva may have simply been too much to compete with.

By the 1580’s, the Roman Catholic Church saw that it had lost the battle to suppress the will of God: that His Holy Word be available in the English language. In 1582, the Church of Rome surrendered their fight for “Latin only” and decided that if the Bible was to be available in English, they would at least have an official Roman Catholic English translation. And so, using the corrupt and inaccurate Latin Vulgate as the only source text, they went on to publish an English Bible with all the distortions and corruptions that Erasmus had revealed and warned of 75 years earlier. Because it was translated at the Roman Catholic College in the city of Rheims, it was known as the Rheims New Testament (also spelled Rhemes). The Douay Old Testament was translated by the Church of Rome in 1609 at the College in the city of Douay (also spelled Doway & Douai). The combined product is commonly referred to as the “Doway/Rheims” Version. In 1589, Dr. William Fulke of Cambridge published the “Fulke’s Refutation”, in which he printed in parallel columns the Bishops Version along side the Rheims Version, attempting to show the error and distortion of the Roman Church’s corrupt compromise of an English version of the Bible.

King James IKing James I

With the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. The Protestant clergy approached the new King in 1604 and announced their desire for a new translation to replace the Bishop’s Bible first printed in 1568. They knew that the Geneva Version had won the hearts of the people because of its excellent scholarship, accuracy, and exhaustive commentary. However, they did not want the controversial marginal notes (proclaiming the Pope an Anti-Christ, etc.) Essentially, the leaders of the church desired a Bible for the people, with scriptural references only for word clarification or cross-references.

This “translation to end all translations” (for a while at least) was the result of the combined effort of about fifty scholars. They took into consideration: The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, and even the Rheims New Testament. The great revision of the Bishop’s Bible had begun. From 1605 to 1606 the scholars engaged in private research. From 1607 to 1609 the work was assembled. In 1610 the work went to press, and in 1611 the first of the huge (16 inch tall) pulpit folios known today as “The 1611 King James Bible” came off the printing press. A typographical discrepancy in Ruth 3:15 rendered a pronoun “He” instead of “She” in that verse in some printings. This caused some of the 1611 First Editions to be known by collectors as “He” Bibles, and others as“She” Bibles. Starting just one year after the huge 1611 pulpit-size King James Bibles were printed and chained to every church pulpit in England; printing then began on the earliest normal-size printings of the King James Bible. These were produced so individuals could have their own personal copy of the Bible.

John BunyanJohn Bunyan

The Anglican Church’s King James Bible took decades to overcome the more popular Protestant Church’s Geneva Bible. One of the greatest ironies of history, is that many Protestant Christian churches today embrace the King James Bible exclusively as the “only” legitimate English language translation… yet it is not even a Protestant translation! It was printed to compete with the Protestant Geneva Bible, by authorities who throughout most of history were hostile to Protestants… and killed them. While many Protestants are quick to assign the full blame of persecution to the Roman Catholic Church, it should be noted that even after England broke from Roman Catholicism in the 1500’s, the Church of England (The Anglican Church) continued to persecute Protestants throughout the 1600’s. One famous example of this is John Bunyan, who while in prison for the crime of preaching the Gospel, wrote one of Christian history’s greatest books, Pilgrim’s Progress. Throughout the 1600’s, as the Puritans and the Pilgrims fled the religious persecution of England to cross the Atlantic and start a new free nation in America, they took with them their precious Geneva Bible, and rejected the King’s Bible. America was founded upon the Geneva Bible, not the King James Bible.

Protestants today are largely unaware of their own history, and unaware of the Geneva Bible (which is textually 95% the same as the King James Version, but 50 years older than the King James Version, and not influenced by the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament that the King James translators admittedly took into consideration). Nevertheless, the King James Bible turned out to be an excellent and accurate translation, and it became the most printed book in the history of the world, and the only book with one billion copies in print. In fact, for over 250 years…until the appearance of the English Revised Version of 1881-1885…the King James Version reigned without much of a rival. One little-known fact, is that for the past 200 years, all King James Bibles published in America are actually the 1769 Baskerville spelling and wording revision of the 1611. The original “1611” preface is deceivingly included by the publishers, and no mention of the fact that it is really the 1769 version is to be found, because that might hurt sales. The only way to obtain a true, unaltered, 1611 version is to either purchase an original pre-1769 printing of the King James Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1611 King James Bible.

John EliotJohn Eliot

Although the first Bible printed in America was done in the native Algonquin Indian Language by John Eliot in 1663; the first English language Bible to be printed in America by Robert Aitken in 1782 was a King James Version. Robert Aitken’s 1782 Bible was also the only Bible ever authorized by the United States Congress. He was commended by President George Washington for providing Americans with Bibles during the embargo of imported English goods due to the Revolutionary War. In 1808, Robert’s daughter, Jane Aitken, would become the first woman to ever print a Bible… and to do so in America, of course. In 1791, Isaac Collins vastly improved upon the quality and size of the typesetting of American Bibles and produced the first “Family Bible” printed in America… also a King James Version. Also in 1791, Isaiah Thomas published the first Illustrated Bible printed in America…in the King James Version. For more information on the earliest Bibles printed in America from the 1600’s through the early 1800’s, you may wish to review our more detailed discussion of The Bibles of Colonial America.

Noah WebsterNoah Webster

While Noah Webster, just a few years after producing his famous Dictionary of the English Language, would produce his own modern translation of the English Bible in 1833; the public remained too loyal to the King James Version for Webster’s version to have much impact. It was not really until the 1880’s that England’s own planned replacement for their King James Bible, theEnglish Revised Version(E.R.V.) would become the first English language Bible to gain popular acceptance as a post-King James Version modern-English Bible. The widespread popularity of this modern-English translation brought with it another curious characteristic: the absence of the 14 Apocryphal books.

Up until the 1880’s every Protestant Bible (not just Catholic Bibles) had 80 books, not 66! The inter-testamental books written hundreds of years before Christ called “The Apocrypha” were part of virtually every printing of the Tyndale-Matthews Bible, the Great Bible, the Bishops Bible, the Protestant Geneva Bible, and the King James Bible until their removal in the 1880’s! The original 1611 King James contained the Apocrypha, and King James threatened anyone who dared to print the Bible without the Apocrypha with heavy fines and a year in jail. Only for the last 120 years has the Protestant Church rejected these books, and removed them from their Bibles. This has left most modern-day Christians believing the popular myth that there is something “Roman Catholic” about the Apocrypha. There is, however, no truth in that myth, and no widely-accepted reason for the removal of the Apocrypha in the 1880’s has ever been officially issued by a mainline Protestant denomination.

The Americans responded to England’s E.R.V. Bible by publishing the nearly-identical American Standard Version (A.S.V.) in 1901. It was also widely-accepted and embraced by churches throughout America for many decades as the leading modern-English version of the Bible. In the 1971, it was again revised and called New American Standard Version Bible (often referred to as the N.A.S.V. or N.A.S.B. or N.A.S.). This New American Standard Bible is considered by nearly all evangelical Christian scholars and translators today, to be the most accurate, word-for-word translation of the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures into the modern English language that has ever been produced. It remains the most popular version among theologians, professors, scholars, and seminary students today. Some, however, have taken issue with it because it is so direct and literal a translation (focused on accuracy), that it does not flow as easily in conversational English.

For this reason, in 1973, the New International Version (N.I.V.) was produced, which was offered as a “dynamic equivalent” translation into modern English. The N.I.V. was designed not for “word-for-word” accuracy, but rather, for “phrase-for-phrase” accuracy, and ease of reading even at a Junior High-School reading level. It was meant to appeal to a broader (and in some instances less-educated) cross-section of the general public. Critics of the N.I.V. often jokingly refer to it as the “NearlyInspired Version”, but that has not stopped it from becoming the best-selling modern-English translation of the Bible ever published.

In 1982, Thomas Nelson Publishers produced what they called the “New King James Version”. Their original intent was to keep the basic wording of the King James to appeal to King James Version loyalists, while only changing the most obscure words and the Elizabethan “thee, thy, thou” pronouns. This was an interesting marketing ploy, however, upon discovering that this was not enough of a change for them to be able to legally copyright the result, they had to make more significant revisions, which defeated their purpose in the first place. It was never taken seriously by scholars, but it has enjoyed some degree of public acceptance, simply because of its clever “New King James Version” marketing name.

In 2002, a major attempt was made to bridge the gap between the simple readability of the N.I.V., and the extremely precise accuracy of the N.A.S.B. This translation is called the English Standard Version (E.S.V.) and is rapidly gaining popularity for its readability and accuracy. The 21st Century will certainly continue to bring new translations of God’s Word in the modern English language.

As Christians, we must be very careful to make intelligent and informed decisions about what translations of the Bible we choose to read. On the liberal extreme, we have people who would give us heretical new translations that attempt to change God’s Word to make it politically correct. One example of this, which has made headlines recently is the Today’s New International Version (T.N.I.V.) which seeks to remove all gender-specific references in the Bible whenever possible! Not all new translations are good… and some are very bad.

But equally dangerous, is the other extreme… of blindly rejecting ANY English translation that was produced in the four centuries that have come after the 1611 King James. We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern, spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day… as he boldly told one official who criticized his efforts, “If God spare my life, I will see to it that the boy who drives the plowshare knows more of the scripture than you, Sir!

Will we now go backwards, and seek to imprison God’s Word once again exclusively in ancient translations? Clearly it is not God’s will that we over-react to SOME of the bad modern translations, by rejecting ALL new translations and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. The Word of God is unchanging from generation to generation, but language is a dynamic and ever-changing form of communication. We therefore have a responsibility before God as Christians to make sure that each generation has a modern translation that they can easily understand, yet that does not sacrifice accuracy in any way. Let’s be ever mindful that we are not called to worship the Bible. That is called idolatry. We are called to worship the God who gave us the Bible, and who preserved it through the centuries of people who sought to destroy it.

We are also called to preserve the ancient, original English translations of the Bible… and that is what we do here at WWW.GREATSITE.COM

Consider the following textual comparison of the earliest English translations of John 3:16, as shown in the English Hexapla Parallel New Testament:

  • 1st Ed. King James (1611): “For God so loued the world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”
  • Rheims (1582): “For so God loued the vvorld, that he gaue his only-begotten sonne: that euery one that beleeueth in him, perish not, but may haue life euerlasting”
  • Geneva (1560): “For God so loueth the world, that he hath geuen his only begotten Sonne: that none that beleue in him, should peryshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”
  • Great Bible (1539): “For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”
  • Tyndale (1534): “For God so loveth the worlde, that he hath geven his only sonne, that none that beleve in him, shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe.”
  • Wycliff (1380): “for god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man that bileueth in him perisch not: but haue euerlastynge liif,”
  • Anglo-Saxon Proto-English Manuscripts (995 AD): “God lufode middan-eard swa, dat he seade his an-cennedan sunu, dat nan ne forweorde de on hine gely ac habbe dat ece lif.”

Timeline of Bible Translation History

1,400 BC:The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.

500 BC:Completion of All Original Hebrew Manuscripts which make up The 39 Books of the Old Testament.

200 BC:Completion of the Septuagint Greek Manuscripts which contain The 39 Old Testament Books AND 14 Apocrypha Books.

1st Century AD:Completion of All Original Greek Manuscripts which make up The 27 Books of the New Testament.

315 AD:Athenasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.

382 AD:Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Manuscripts Produced which contain All 80 Books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test).

500 AD:Scriptures have been Translated into Over 500 Languages.

600 AD:LATIN was the Only Language Allowed for Scripture.

995 AD:Anglo-Saxon (Early Roots of English Language) Translations of The New Testament Produced.

1384 AD:Wycliffe is the First Person to Produce a (Hand-Written) manuscript Copy of the Complete Bible; All 80 Books.

1455 AD:Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press; Books May Now be mass-Produced Instead of Individually Hand-Written. The First Book Ever Printed is Gutenberg’s Bible in Latin.

1516 AD:Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.

1522 AD:Martin Luther’s German New Testament.

1526 AD:William Tyndale’s New Testament; The First New Testament printed in the English Language.

1535 AD:Myles Coverdale’s Bible; The First Complete Bible printed in the English Language (80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).

1537 AD:Tyndale-Matthews Bible; The Second Complete Bible printed in English. Done by John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers (80 Books).

1539 AD:The “Great Bible” Printed; The First English Language Bible Authorized for Public Use (80 Books).

1560 AD:The Geneva Bible Printed; The First English Language Bible to add Numbered Verses to Each Chapter (80 Books).

1568 AD:The Bishops Bible Printed; The Bible of which the King James was a Revision (80 Books).

1609 AD:The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) Making the First Complete English Catholic Bible; Translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).

1611 AD:The King James Bible Printed; Originally with All 80 Books. The Apocrypha was Officially Removed in 1885 Leaving Only 66 Books.

1782 AD:Robert Aitken’s Bible; The First English Language Bible (KJV) Printed in America.

1791 AD:Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas Respectively Produce the First Family Bible and First Illustrated Bible Printed in America. Both were King James Versions, with All 80 Books.

1808 AD:Jane Aitken’s Bible (Daughter of Robert Aitken); The First Bible to be Printed by a Woman.

1833 AD:Noah Webster’s Bible; After Producing his Famous Dictionary, Webster Printed his Own Revision of the King James Bible.

1841 AD:English Hexapla New Testament; an Early Textual Comparison showing the Greek and 6 Famous English Translations in Parallel Columns.

1846 AD:The Illuminated Bible; The Most Lavishly Illustrated Bible printed in America. A King James Version, with All 80 Books.

1863 AD: Robert Young’s “Literal” Translation; often criticized for being so literal that it sometimes obscures the contextual English meaning.

1885 AD:The “English Revised Version” Bible; The First Major English Revision of the KJV.

1901 AD:The “American Standard Version”; The First Major American Revision of the KJV.

1952 AD: The “Revised Standard Version” (RSV); said to be a Revision of the 1901 American Standard Version, though more highly criticized. 

1971 AD:The “New American Standard Bible” (NASB) is Published as a “Modern and Accurate Word for Word English Translation” of the Bible.

1973 AD:The “New International Version” (NIV) is Published as a “Modern and Accurate Phrase for Phrase English Translation” of the Bible.

1982 AD:The “New King James Version” (NKJV) is Published as a “Modern English Version Maintaining the Original Style of the King James.”

1990 AD: The “New Revised Standard Version” (NRSV); further revision of 1952 RSV, (itself a revision of 1901 ASV), criticized for “gender inclusiveness”.

2002 AD:The English Standard Version (ESV) is Published as a translation to bridge the gap between the accuracy of the NASB and the readability of the NIV.

 

This English Bible History Article & Timeline is ©2012 by author & editor: John L. Jeffcoat III. Special thanks is also given to Dr. Craig H. Lampe for his valuable contributions to the text. This page may be freely reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, in print or electronically, under the one condition that prominent credit must be given to “WWW.GREATSITE.COM” as the source.

Dead Sea Scrolls

HISTORY OF THE BIBLE

HISTORY OF THE BIBLE

History of the Bible Timeline

Trace the History of Scripture from Creation to Current Day Translations

By Mary Fairchild, About.com Guide

Dead Sea Scrolls

Israel Museum in Jerusalem displays part of the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Bible is reported to be the biggest bestseller of all time, and its history is fascinating to study. As God’s Spirit breathed on the authors of the Bible, they recorded the messages with whatever resources were available at the time. The Bible itself illustrates some of the materials used: engravings in clay, inscriptions on tablets of stone, ink and papyrusvellumparchment, leather and metals.

This timeline traces the unparalleled history of the Bible down through the ages. Discover how God’s Word has been painstakingly preserved, and for extended periods even suppressed, during its long and arduous journey from creation to present day English translations.

History of the Bible Timeline

  • Creation – B.C. 2000– Originally, the earliest Scriptures are handed down from generation to generation orally.
  • Circa B.C. 2000-1500– The book of Job, perhaps the oldest book of the Bible, is written.
  • Circa B.C. 1500-1400– The stone tablets of the Ten Commandments are given to Moses at Mount Sinai and later stored in the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Circa B.C. 1400–400– The manuscripts comprising the original Hebrew Bible (39 Old Testament books) are completed. The Book of the Law is kept in the tabernacle and later in the Temple beside the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Circa B.C. 300– All of the original Old Testament Hebrew books have been written, collected, and recognized as official, canonical books.
  • Circa B.C. 250–200– The Septuagint, a popular Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (39 Old Testament books), is produced. The 14 books of the Apocrypha are also included.
  • Circa A.D. 45–100– Original 27 books of the Greek New Testament are written.
  • Circa A.D. 140-150– Marcion of Sinope’s heretical “New Testament” prompted Orthodox Christians to establish a New Testament canon.
  • Circa A.D. 200– The Jewish Mishnah, the Oral Torah, is first recorded.
  • Circa A.D. 240– Origen compiles the Hexapla, a six-columned parallel of Greek and Hebrew texts.
  • Circa A.D. 305-310– Lucian of Antioch’s Greek New Testament text becomes the basis for the Textus Receptus.
  • Circa A.D. 312– Codex Vaticanus is possibly among the original 50 copies of the Bible ordered by Emperor Constantine. It is eventually kept in the Vatican Library in Rome.
  • A.D. 367– Athanasius of Alexandria identifies the complete New Testament canon (27 books) for the first time.
  • A.D. 382-384– Saint Jerome translates the New Testament from original Greek into Latin. This translation becomes part of the Latin Vulgate manuscript.
  • A.D. 397– Third Synod of Carthage approves the New Testament canon (27 books).
  • A.D. 390-405– Saint Jerome translates the Hebrew Bible into Latin and completes the Latin Vulgate manuscript. It includes the 39 Old Testament books, 27 New Testament books, and 14 Apocrypha books.
  • A.D. 500– By now the Scriptures have been translated into multiple languages, not limited to but including an Egyptian version (Codex Alexandrinus), a Coptic version, an Ethiopic translation, a Gothic version (Codex Argentus), and an Armenian version. Some consider the Armenian to be the most beautiful and accurate of all ancient translations.
  • A.D. 600– The Roman Catholic Church declares Latin as the only language for Scripture.
  • A.D. 680– Caedmon, English poet and monk, renders Bible books and stories into Anglo Saxon poetry and song.
  • A.D. 735– Bede, English historian and monk, translates the Gospels into Anglo Saxon.
  • A.D. 775– The Book of Kells, a richly decorated manuscript containing the Gospels and other writings, is completed by Celtic monks in Ireland.
  • Circa A.D. 865– Saints Cyril and Methodius begin translating the Bible into Old Church Slavonic.
  • A.D. 950– The Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript is translated into Old English.
  • Circa A.D. 995-1010– Aelfric, an English abbot, translates parts of Scripture into Old English.
  • A.D. 1205– Stephen Langton, theology professor and later Archbishop of Canterbury, creates the first chapter divisions in the books of the Bible.
  • A.D. 1229– Council of Toulouse strictly forbids and prohibits lay people from owning a Bible.
  • A.D. 1240– French Cardinal Hugh of Saint Cher publishes the first Latin Bible with the chapter divisions that still exist today.
  • A.D. 1325– English hermit and poet, Richard Rolle de Hampole, and English poet William Shoreham, translate the Psalms into metrical verse.
  • Circa A.D. 1330– Rabbi Solomon ben Ismael first places chapter divisions in the margins of the Hebrew Bible.
  • A.D. 1381-1382– John Wycliffe and associates, in defiance of the organized Church, believing that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, begin to translate and produce the first handwritten manuscripts of the entire Bible in English. These include the 39 Old Testament books, 27 New Testament books, and 14 Apocrypha books.
  • A.D. 1388– John Purvey revises Wycliffe’s Bible.
  • A.D. 1415– 31 years after Wycliffe’s death, the Council of Constance charges him with more than 260 counts of heresy.
  • A.D. 1428– 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, church officials dig up his bones, burn them, and scatter the ashes on Swift River.
  • A.D. 1455– After the invention of the printing press in Germany, Johannes Gutenberg produces the first printed Bible, the Gutenberg Bible, in the Latin Vulgate.
  • A.D. 1516– Desiderius Erasmus produces a Greek New Testament, forerunner to the Textus Receptus.
  • A.D. 1517– Daniel Bomberg’s Rabbinic Bible contains the first printed Hebrew version (Masoretic text) with chapter divisions.
  • A.D. 1522– Martin Luther translates and publishes the New Testament for the first time into German from the 1516 Erasmus version.
  • A.D. 1524– Bomberg prints a second edition Masoretic text prepared by Jacob ben Chayim.
  • A.D. 1525– William Tyndale produces the first translation of the New Testament from Greek into English.
  • A.D. 1527– Erasmus publishes a fourth edition Greek-Latin translation.
  • A.D. 1530– Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples completes the first French language translation of the entire Bible.
  • A.D. 1535– Myles Coverdale’s Bible completes Tyndale’s work, producing the first complete printed Bible in the English language. It includes the 39 Old Testament books, 27 New Testament books, and 14 Apocrypha books.
  • A.D. 1536– Martin Luther translates the Old Testament into the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people, completing his translation of the entire Bible in German.
  • A.D. 1536– Tyndale is condemned as a heretic, strangled, and burned at the stake.
  • A.D. 1537– The Matthew Bible (commonly known as the Matthew-Tyndale Bible), a second complete printed English translation, is published, combining the works of Tyndale, Coverdale and John Rogers.
  • A.D. 1539– The Great Bible, the first English Bible authorized for public use, is printed.
  • A.D. 1546– Roman Catholic Council of Trent declares the Vulgate as the exclusive Latin authority for the Bible.
  • A.D. 1553– Robert Estienne publishes a French Bible with chapter and verse divisions. This system of numbering becomes widely accepted and is still found in most Bible’s today.
  • A.D. 1560– The Geneva Bible is printed in Geneva, Switzerland. It is translated by English refugees and published by John Calvin‘s brother-in-law, William Whittingham. The Geneva Bible is the first English Bible to add numbered verses to the chapters. It becomes the Bible of the Protestant Reformation, more popular than the 1611 King James Version for decades after its original release.
  • A.D. 1568– The Bishop’s Bible, a revision of the Great Bible, is introduced in England to compete with the popular but “inflammatory toward the institutional Church” Geneva Bible.
  • A.D. 1582– Dropping its 1,000-year-old Latin only policy, the Church of Rome produces the first English Catholic Bible, the Rheims New Testament, from the Latin Vulgate.
  • A.D. 1592– The Clementine Vulgate (authorized by Pope Clementine VIII), a revised version of the Latin Vulgate, becomes the authoritative Bible of the Catholic Church.
  • A.D. 1609– The Douay Old Testament is translated into English by the Church of Rome, to complete the combined Douay-Rheims Version.
  • A.D. 1611– The King James Version, also called the “Authorized Version” of the Bible is published. It is said to be the most printed book in the history of the world, with more than one billion copies in print.
  • A.D. 1663– John Eliot’s Algonquin Bible is the first Bible printed in America, not in English, but in the native Algonquin Indian language.
  • A.D. 1782– Robert Aitken’s Bible is the first English language (KJV) Bible printed in America.
  • A.D. 1790– Matthew Carey publishes a Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims Version English Bible in America.
  • A.D. 1790– William Young prints the first pocket sized “school edition” King James Version Bible in America.
  • A.D. 1791– The Isaac Collins Bible, the first family Bible (KJV), is printed in America.
  • A.D. 1791– Isaiah Thomas prints the first illustrated Bible (KJV) in America.
  • A.D. 1808– Jane Aitken (daughter of Robert Aitken), is the first woman to print a Bible.
  • A.D. 1833– Noah Webster, after publishing his famous dictionary, releases his own revised edition of the King James Bible.
  • A.D. 1841– The English Hexapla New Testament, a comparison of the original Greek language and six important English translations, is produced.
  • A.D. 1844– The Codex Sinaiticus, a hand written Koine Greek manuscript of both Old and New Testament texts dating back to the fourth century, is rediscovered by German Bible scholar Konstantin Von Tischendorf in the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai.
  • A.D. 1881-1885– The King James Bible is revised and published as the Revised Version (RV) in England.
  • A.D. 1901– The American Standard Version, the first major American revision of the King James Version, is published.
  • A.D. 1946-1952– The Revised Standard Version is published.
  • A.D. 1947-1956– The Dead Sea Scrolls are discovered.
  • A.D. 1971– The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is published.
  • A.D. 1973– The New International Version (NIV) is published.
  • A.D. 1982– The New King James Version (NKJV) is published.
  • A.D. 1986– The discovery of the Silver Scrolls, believed to be the oldest Bible text ever, is announced. They were found three years earlier in the Old City of Jerusalem by Gabriel Barkay of Tel Aviv University.
  • A.D. 1996– The New Living Translation (NLT) is published.
  • A.D. 2001– The English Standard Version (ESV) is published.

(Sources: Willmington’s Bible handbookwww.greatsite.comCrosswayBible MuseumBiblicaChristianity Today; and Theopedia.)

Speaking in Tongues

Bible Teaching About Speaking In Tongues

Bible Teaching About Speaking In Tongues

DAY OF PENTECOST

The Day of Pentecost spoken of in Acts 2 has become an inspiration for many. It was a significant event in the formation of the early followers of Christ and was prominent in the spread of the gospel message to other lands.

It was on this occasion that the power of the Holy Spirit was distributed to the disciples so that the gospel message would be given credibility, being supported by miracles.

Speaking in TonguesActs 2:1-6

“1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.”

TONGUES (LANGUAGES)

It is important that we make a distinction in the terminology relating to this particular miracle. The authorized version of the Bible uses the word “tongues” (they “began to speak in other tongues”). More recent translations use the word “languages,” which is not only easier for us to understand, but it also helps us to remove some of the confusion in the event.

In a careful reading of the context of Acts 2, we learn that the disciples were given the power to speak in languages that they were not familiar with. These were not unintelligible babblings. Jews who were visiting Jerusalem heard the words of the gospel, spoken by unlearned fishermen, each in the language of their many different homelands. (Read Acts 2: 7-11 to see the many lands that they had come from).

A MIRACLE

This was truly a miracle. Through the power of God, each in their turn, the disciples were able to teach the gospel of salvation in another language. We can assume that all of the visitors knew how to talk the language of the day in Jerusalem, and the gospel could have been taught in that one language to all of the visitors at the same time. Had this been done, the preaching would have been without the dramatic evidence that their words were endorsed by the power of God

The gift of languages added great emphasis to the message. It was like a spectacular visual aid that caused everyone to pay attention to the “wonderful works of God.”

Peter explained the miracle as the fulfilment of an OT prophecy by Joel: “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. (Acts 2: 14-21)

“Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”  (1 Corinthians 14:19)

Paul’s Teaching on Tongues

Paul's Teaching on TonguesThe Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians devoted an entire chapter (1 Corinthians 14) to the subject of speaking in tongues. His emphasis was on how important it is to speak with understanding, when in a group, so that all may be edified and uplifted.

It is difficult to understand how anyone could read and understand Paul’s teachings on this subject and still justify speaking with strange tongues in the church.

Unknown Tongues

The problem is not in the use of other languages, such as were spoken at Pentecost. These were languages that were understood by the hearer. Today, some who “speak in tongues” are speaking unintelligible words. There is no language. They do not even understand what they are saying themselves.

Contrary to Paul’s instruction, there is often no interpreter, and even when there is one, the process is still very confusing and appears to have no purpose in promoting an understanding of the gospel.

There are some religions that insist on an experience in speaking with tongues as a rite of passage. You are not considered to be a member of the church unless you have manifested this gift. The pressure is so intense that compliance to the requirement is often fabricated. (After all, who would really know if you were influenced by the Spirit, or just making babbling sounds?)

“And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.” (1 Corinthians 14:7-9)

Paul asked the Corinthians to use sound reasoning concerning this subject. He appeals to them in these words: “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (Verse 20)

His desire was that all things be done “decently and in order” That they would speak words that could be easily understood so that the listeners would be edified. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (Verse 33)

” Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12)

Desire Better Gifts

Paul made one thing very clear; that speaking in tongues was a gift that had very little practical value. Especially as they understood and applied it. They should have realized that this gift of languages (as introduced at Pentecost) was for a sign to impress unbelievers with the truth of the gospel message.

Once the unbelievers were baptized and became members of an Ecclesia, there was another need. When they came together for worship, they needed to be edified, comforted and exhorted. (1 Corinthians 14:3)

He encouraged men to seek after the talent to build up the church, the “body of Christ.” Speaking in another language had its purpose on certain occasions, such as preaching in a strange land, but while they were at home in their own assembly, this ability was neither necessary nor useful.

One Body, many Members

The household of believers (the one body) is made up of many members. There are always the few who are the apostles. They travel forth and teach unbelievers about the gospel of salvation. In that work, as we consider our world today, it may be useful to learn another language. We no longer have the first century gifts of the Holy Spirit at our disposal, and such talents today are subject to God’s blessing on our own effort.

Most of the membersof the body are not preachers; nor do they need to speak Spanish or French. They need to develop their talents, with God’s blessing, in other skills. Skills that will be useful to their brothers and sisters in the faith.

Paul talks about the body of Christ and the role of each and every member in 1 Corinthians 12. All of the members are different. Each with their own talent, but all serving to compliment the whole body.

Edifying the Body

Paul encourages all members to follow after love, which is the one gift that is a necessary part of any talent that will edify the body of Christ. Natural men are inclined to seek after talents that are of great show with the potential for personal glory. Was this the reason the gift of tongues was sought after by the Corinthians?

Love, is a gift that is not self-seeking, it seeks not its own. It is interesting that Paul presented his thoughts on love in the chapter in between his writing on the body, and the chapter on tongues. 1 Corinthians 13 provides us with an excellent description of the value of love, for both the individual and for our relationships between one another.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled..” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 NIV)

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)

TONGUES AND PRAYER

When we speak or pray in the assembly of the brethren, we must always use words that are easy to be understood. If there is another language involved, there must be an interpreter or someone who understands the language so that all may be edified.

There is only one time when it is considered reasonable to be at a loss for intelligible words in our worship to God, and that is in private prayer. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 writes many words on this subject. One of his conclusions is: “But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” (1 Corinthians 14:28)

SILENT INDIVIDUAL PRAYER

SILENT INDIVIDUAL PRAYERThis speaking “to himself, and to God” may be what Paul had reference to in the quotation from Romans 8.

Jesus spoke about both public and silent prayer. He encouraged us: “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” – – “Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8)

Normally, we are encouraged even in our own closet, to pray with understanding using words that can be understood. But there may be times, when in despair, we are at a loss for words and we have needs that we are not able to express.

We are fortunate to have Jesus as our mediator. He understands the feelings of our infirmities, and even when our groanings are barely uttered, Jesus will make intercession for us, to a loving father who knows our needs before we ask. (See Hebrews 4:15)

True of False Teaching

How To Identify TRUE vs FALSE Bible Teaching?

How To Identify TRUE vs FALSE Bible Teaching?

Some people might ask – How do we know what Bible Teaching is True?

Some have even said that surely only God can know this??  But how can this be, God has told us that He has given to us His Word that we might become “wise unto salvation”  2 Timothy 3:15  and that by “Knowing the Only TRUE God and his Son is the hope of Life Eternal”  John 17:3

So it is UP to US to figure out what is the TRUE TEACHING of the BIBLE and it is not that hard to do, but it does require OUR / YOUR input to do this.  Read this article below to help you get started on this ETERNAL LIFE rewarding journey.

True of False TeachingHow to Identify False Teaching or Apostasy?

What will we cover?

  1. What do we mean by the word “apostasy”?
  2. Why is this important?
  3. Some examples from the Bible showing God’s view of this subject.
  4. A warning to US!
  5. A Great Apostasy foretold by the Bible to Come!
  6. An important message to us from Christ

Okay so let’s get started…

  1. What do we mean by term “Apostasy”
      • A Greek work  ‘apostasia’  signifies: ‘a falling away’
      • It only occurs twice in the NT
      • The best known of these is found in 2Thessalonians 2:3
      • “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day (Christ’s coming) shall not come, except there come a falling away (apostasia) first…”

“…a falling away…” from what?

      • From the Teaching of the Apostles concerning the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ
      • Mark 16:15-16

“And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved…”

      • 2 Thessalonians 2:15

“Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word, or our epistle”

  1. Why was this so Important?
        • Because prior to Paul preaching the Gospel message to them they were;

“…without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”   (Eph 2:12)

        • So important was this new knowledge called “truth” or “the faith” that they were told by Paul to believe no other;

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”  (Gal 1:8)

“the faith” used 42 times in the New Testament

        • I Corinthians 16:13

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

        • 2 Corinthians 13:5

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”

        • Philippians 1:27

“…that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

        • Colossians 2:7

“Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught…”

        • 1 Timothy 4:1

“Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith…”

        • Jude vs3

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

  1. SOME EXAMPLES FROM THE BIBLE SHOWING GOD’S VIEW OF THIS SUBJECT.

The Bible records some early examples of Apostasy and its consequences for our learning

      • Cain and Abel
      • The Nation of Israel
      • Nadab and Abihu      

Cain and Abel

“And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.  And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.  And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.  And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?  If thou doest well, should thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.  And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him…Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him’  (Genesis 4:3-8)

Cain and Abel
Both raised by the same parents
Both taught the Truth by the same parents

    • Cain – “a tiller”

“fruit of the ground”

“The LORD had not respect’

“Cain was wrath”

Cain did it his own way

Cain was REJECTED

    • Abel – “a shepherd”

“firstling of his flock”

The LORD had respect”

Abel did it God’s way

Abel was ACCEPTED

      • Genesis 3:21 a slain lamb was established as the offering for sin
      • Hebrews 9:22 “…without the shedding of blood there is no remission”
      • Genesis 4:7 “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted (ie. if you don’t sin all is okay) and if thou doest not well (ie. if you sin) sin (Heb. sin offering ie. a lamb) lieth at the door…”

The Nation of Israel

A special people called out of the nations through Abraham and given a great Hope of everlasting life and possession of the land of Israel “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgements: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do”  (Exodus 24:3)

      • “…if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments…and all these blessings shall come on thee…”  (Deut 28:1-2)
      • “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments…that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee”  (Deut 28:15)

The Nation of Israel punished for failing to follow the word of God

      • “…ye children of Israel…the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hos 4:1)
      • “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee…seeing thou hast forgotten the Law of thy God…” (Hos 4:6)
      • “Therefore my people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge…”  (Isaiah 5:13)

Nadab and Abihu

During a time of worship they took it upon themselves to do something the LORD had not instructed them to do

      • “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died…Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me…”  (Leviticus 10:1-3)

From these examples we learn:

      • That if we want to be accepted by God, then we must worship Him in the way He has prescribed.
      • That even if sincere in our worship we must ensure that we follow God’s word or instructions very carefully.
      • That we must have a true knowledge of God’s word if we are to be blessed by Him according to all His promises.
      • That to do otherwise will lead us to stray from God’s word and loose our hope of salvation.
  1. A WARNING TO US!
    • “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps”  (Jere 10:23)
    • “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2Tim 4:3-4)
    • “For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work…”  (2Thess 2:7)
    • “…lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that are perishing because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved”      (2Thess 2:10)
  1. THE GREAT APOSTASY THE BIBLE SAID WOULD COME.
    • Paul predicted that some believers would be led away from the faith by men who would teach lies…

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits (false teachers) and doctrines of devils (teaching of liars); Speaking lies in hypocrisy…” (1Tim 4:1-2)

    • Paul also predicted that a religious system, whilst initially holding the truth would, “fall away” and follow after the lies of men who used their followers for personal gain

“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God…”  (2Thess 2:3)

    • Last he predicted that only when Christ returns will this system be fully exposed and destroyed.

“…the Lord Jesus shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming”  (2Thess 2:8)

Growth of False Teaching

    • Immortality of the soul………………………………………………………………………..124 AD
    • Pre-human existence of Christ…………………………………………………………….124 AD
    • Sprinkling instead of immersion………………………………………………………….150 AD
    • Infant baptism…………………………………………………………………………………….180 AD
    • Constantine triumphs the Christian cause and makes apostate Christianity the state religion and forms what has become known as The Roman Catholic Church …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..312 AD
    • Jesus a person within the Godhead…………………………………………………….325 AD
    • The “Holy Ghost” a person in the Godhead…………………………………………381 AD
    • Doctrine of purgatory………………………………………………………………………….431 AD
    • Exaltation of Mary “the Mother of God”……………………………………………….431 AD

Consider these facts

    • The Churches Teach

There is a mysterious Trinity, “One God yet Three”

Purgatory is a place of temporary punishment for departed souls

The soul is immortal and cannot be destroyed

Sprinkling of infants constitutes baptism

    • The Bible Teaches

“To us there is but one God the Father…and one Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 8:6)

“For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything…their love, hatred, envy is perished”  (Ecc. 9;5-6)

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die”  (Ez 18:4)  “All have sinned”   (Rom 6:4)

“If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest be baptised”  (Acts 8:37)

    • The Churches Teach

Heaven is a place of reward and hell is a place of torment

Satan is a supernatural evil being causing men to sin

    • The Bible Teaches

“No man hath ascended into heaven:  (Jn 3:13)  “In death there is no remembrance of Thee” and “the meek shall inherit the earth”  (Psa 6:5, Matt 5:5)

“Whatsoever thing from without entereth into a man cannot defile him…from within out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts etc…”   (Mk 7:18-22)

Advice given to a Pope by French Cardinals in AD 1550

    • “Of all the advice reserved for your Holiness, we have kept the most essential until the last moment.  Concerning the reading of the Bible, we must keep our eyes wide open and intervene with all our power.  It is necessary to authorise as little as possible the reading of the Gospels, particularly in modern languages and in countries under our jurisdiction.  That which is generally read during Mass must suffice, and nobody must be authorised to read any other.
    • Your interests will prosper so long as the people are contented with the little which is offered them, but as soon as the public asks for more, your interests are in danger.  The Bible is the book which, more than any other, can stir up against us revolt and storms which might well nigh destroy us.  Certainly, if somebody studies the Bible seriously, and compares it with what is happening in our churches, he will soon find the contradictions, and will see that our doctrines are far astray from the truth, and are even more often completely opposed to the Bible.
    • And if the people come to recognise all these things, they will be constantly defying us, until everything is brought to light: there upon we shall become the object of ridicule and hate.  It is vital to keep the Bible away from the attention of the people, but with much caution so as to avoid uproar.’

Debates and Trials during the Reformation AD 1500 – 1800

    • Huldrich Zwingli: a Swiss evangelical who in 1523 advocated splitting with Rome and the Catholic church on the grounds that the church was astray from the Word of God.  He argued that “the word of God would be his sole arbiter” In reality Zwingli was mostly interested in exalting himself as he staunchly held to Catholic teaching, notably infant baptism.
    • Dr.Balthasar Hubmaier:  an evangelical preacher, who had formerly been a university vice-rector having graduated as Master, plunged into assiduous study of the Scriptures which led to revolutionary thinking.  Based on his studies, Hubmaier insisted that no trace could be found of infant christening in the Scriptures.
    • Zwingli:You reject infant baptism that you may set up rebaptism.
    • Hubmaier:You have not produced a single passage to prove infant baptism is baptism.  You should remember what you once said, that truth is clearly revealed in the word of God.  If now infant baptism is a truth, show us the Scripture in which it is found.
    • Zwingli:If everyone adopts such views as he pleases, and does not ask the church concerning them, error will increase.
    • Hubmaier:We should consult the Scriptures, not the church.  The church is built upon the word, not the word upon the church.
    • Zwingli:The thief on the cross believed, and on the same day was with Christ in paradise; yet he was not baptised with outward baptism.
    • Hubmaier:A man who has the excuse of the thief on the cross will have the favour of God.  But when this excuse is lacking the word of Christ holds true that “he that believes and is baptised shall be saved”.
    • Zwingli:Matthew 3 says that “all Judaea” went out to John and were baptised.  Here one may say that if the whole multitude went out, we should expect that there were children who went out also.
    • Hubmaier:Might not one also say that we should expect that Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod went out and were baptised?  It matters not what we think or expect.  We must be governed by the Scriptures.  I appeal to the Scriptures.  Let them decide.

How to Identify Apostasy

We need to take note of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ

    • Matthew 7:15

“Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  NIV

We need to follow the words of the Apostle Paul

    • Like those who have gone before us, we must make the WORD of GOD our basis of belief and not what the churches teach.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”  (2Tim 2:15)

“Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith” (2Cor 13:5)

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” ( Phil 2:12)

An Important Issue in our Day!

    • In this age of democracy and “political correctness” with all its pressures on tolerance and accommodation with others, we face the risk of becoming complacent in our understanding and appreciation of the dangers of the influence of the APOSTASY that surrounds us.
    • Our eternal well being is at stake…

“And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  (John 17:3)

  1. AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM JESUS CHRIST TO HIS FOLLOWS.

“Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book…Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be”  (Rev 22:7, 12)

Truly as the Apostle Paul has said;

    • “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9
    • So it is up to YOU to ensure you have the TRUE Knowledge of God’s message of HOPE to all those who will search it out.  After all surely a little effort on our part is well worth the reward of ETERNAL LIFE in a PERFECT WORLD.

GOD’S PROMISED KINGDOM ON EARTH

God's Kingdom on Earth

GOD’S KINGDOM ON EARTH!

GOD’S KINGDOM ON EARTH!

God's Kingdom on Earth

GOD’S KINGDOM ON EARTH – A PLAN FOR ALL THE WORLD 

God's Kingdom on EarthTHE view of planet earth, seen from outer space, is very beautiful indeed. Confirmation of this has come from the astronauts who have gazed upon it. The earth is the fairest jewel in God’s creation and it is the chosen place in the whole universe where He has promised to reveal His Kingdom in all its glory. That is why it is so beautiful.

The earth, of all the planets in the solar system, is the one that is perfectly suited to all forms of life and the one that orbits at exactly the right distance from the sun to provide comfortable conditions for the human race.

Bible Prophecy is the Sole Source of Information on God’s Purpose

The Bible alone explains why and how this should be. The reason is that the Creator

“formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18).

We think it is logical to assert that if there is a Great Designer, and if He created a race of beings to inhabit this planet and no other, then there must have been an ultimate objective in His mind. Happily, we have not been left to guess what that goal might be. From the day that God put a human being on this earth, His one supreme purpose was that His creation should willingly respond to His own perfection:

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

The final stage in fulfilling that intention is what the Bible describes as THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH.

A Real Kingdom

Because it will be in every physical and political sense a real kingdom it will have a king, a government, a capital, and an international system of laws. God has already delegated “all power in heaven and in earth” to His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What is more, we learn that the date has been set in the divine calendar:

“God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained”(Acts 17:31).

The kingdom of God on earth will soon be here. The abundant signs which confirm this are not the subject of this booklet; but we are mightily convinced that it is so! This coming Millennium will be the most exciting thing the world has ever seen. It will overshadow all those periods in history labelled with names like ‘the age of enlightenment’, ‘the classical age’, ‘the renaissance’ and so on. The kingdom of God will provide a superb environment on this lovely planet for all who will acknowledge God as supreme Creator and Jesus Christ as king of the world.

A Beautiful World

Use your imagination for a moment! Think of a world at peace, its inhabitants healthy and well-fed and doing rewarding work. Imagine a world in which there is full employment, where people are not exploited and where a man can live a long and prosperous life; a world in which famine and pestilence no longer kill one quarter of the population and where the full resources of the land and the seas are harvested. Already you are getting a picture of the Kingdom of God.

Now ponder on the absence of religious bigotry or sectarian strife; imagine the benefits of internationally accepted laws, with justice administered by fair-minded yet uncompromising judges. Conjure up a mental picture of life without terrorism and child-abuse; where good neighbourliness prevails and evil tendencies are discouraged, where governments establish good standards of behaviour, and implement just forms of retribution. That will be the kingdom of God on earth!

To many people, the Kingdom of God is just a vague hope that one day man will bring about a state of happiness on earth. To others, the Kingdom is a dream of heavenly bliss in the skies. But the realist knows that the aspirations of men are not producing a better world for us or our children. And anyone who reads his Bible carefully knows that there is no evidence for the common belief in an afterlife in heaven. The Kingdom has to do with a real, tangible world empire which will be set up when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth from heaven in the near future.

“Thy kingdom come”

The disciples of Jesus found prayer to God a difficult matter. What to pray for? What are the priorities? The Lord solved their problems by teaching them what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. It established their priorities for them: God is a Father, the provider. God has a realm in heaven where His will is obeyed; God’s kingdom is to come to the earth. It was a powerful plea to make.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven … For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever”(Matthew 6:9-13).

Christendom still repeats the prayer “Thy kingdom come” should always be on the lips of the faithful Christian.

For the most part, human beings act as though there is no Creator and no purpose in the world around them. But they are without excuse, for just look at the wonders of the human body and the miracles of plant life! Did they occur by chance or by design? Even atheists are forced to marvel at the incredible wonders of living cells. The apostle Paul, a well-educated man of his time, declared that atheism is untenable because “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1: 19,20).

If there is a God, and He has a future for the human race, then surely He has told us? Of course He has! The whole Bible, from beginning to end, reveals His plans for the earth. He spoke to the “fathers” and through the prophets, and “in these last days by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:1,2). That is why the Gospel was the centre of Christ’s ministry. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). He left no doubt when that kingdom would happen:

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations …”(Matthew 25:31,32).

Where on Earth will it be?

We have seen that the kingdom of God will be centred in the land of Israel with Jerusalem being the centre of God’s Kingdom on Earth.  One thousand years before Christ the Jewish poets declared:

“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great king”(Psalm 48:2).

It will make a superb capital-more central than New York, Moscow or Strasbourg – and convenient to the great land continents of Europe, Africa and Asia.

This kingdom of God is to be a world empire and Jesus Christ the emperor. This was revealed long ago. The prophet Daniel, interpreting a vision which forecast the successive empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, to be followed by a fragmented world of strong and weak governments leading up to the coming of Jesus Christ, pictured God’s agent in the form of a “stone” descending to crush the rebellious nations at the time of the end:

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever”(Daniel 2:44).

“At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.”(Jeremiah 3:17)

An artist’s impression of the Temple that shall be built in Jerusalem as a “House of Prayer for all nations”

Here is another prophetic statement:

“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

Judgements on the World

Before we go any further let us remember that the return of Jesus Christ will bring its terrors as well as its blessings. The takeover of the nations will not be accomplished without much resistance. Let us note four aspects:

  1. “All nations” gather against Israel but Jesus will destroy the invaders (Zechariah 14; Ezekiel 38, 39).
  2. Jerusalem will suffer a major earthquake, with devastating results, when “his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:4).
  3. Some governments will challenge Christ and will “set themselves against the Lord and against his anointed” (Psalm 2:2), but there will be judgements on those who oppose Christ (Isaiah 34; Revelation 18).
  4. There will be a resurrection and judgement. Loud will be the cries of those who are rejected, who had the opportunity, but rejected it! On the other hand, what joy for those to whom the King will say: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

The Kingdom Begins

With these events over and the King having led his triumphal army of faithful followers into Jerusalem, the real work of Christ’s kingdom can begin. There is a new temple to be built and the tribes of Israel are to be allocated their respective divisions in the land of Israel.

National ambassadors will begin to arrive to pay their respects to the King: “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba (Arabs) shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him” (Psalm 72:10-11). Even the survivors of those enemies which invaded the holy city will come to worship, for “everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).

Nations will be rallying their peoples: “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord”. They will do this because:

“He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”(Isaiah 2:3).

The effect of this education will be remarkable. Nations will “beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks” – a colourful way of describing disarmament. There will be no more war.

The People of the Kingdom

We ought to clarify one or two matters about the inhabitants of the kingdom of God. There will be two kinds of people: firstly, the rulers and spiritual leaders, who will be immortal (that is, never-dying) and, secondly, the citizens of the kingdom, who will be mortal (that is, subject to death).

The first group will include Jesus, the universal king; Abraham, David and other great “worthies”, who will have positions of honour in the empire; the twelve Apostles, and the faithful followers of Jesus the”saints” – who will be the administrative rulers and educators of the new age.

The second group will consist of the mortal peoples of the world who, at Christ’s return, survive the judgements on the earth and are willing for Jesus to be their king. This will include Jews who are allowed to live in Israel.

The Immortals

Immortality is the gift of everlasting life that God will give to those who have faithfully obeyed and practised His commandments – those of all ages of history up to the return of Jesus to the earth. These will be those who are:

“Redeemed … out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation … and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth … They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years”(Revelation 5:9,10; 20:4).

We must not think of an immortal being as something like a ghost. Jesus, after his resurrection, was immortal; but he ate and drank with his followers and showed himself to have remarkable physical powers. The immortal body has flesh and bones like others, but is energised by the Spirit of God, suffering no disease or disability.

Jesus, like any wise ruler, will delegate much of the conduct of his empire to others who have been suitably trained. Prominent among those to be closely associated with the King will be the great Biblical examples of faith: men like Abraham, described as the “heir of the world in Romans 4:13, and “my servant David shall be their prince for ever” (Ezekiel 37:25). Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, Moses and Samuel, will be there; women, too: Sarah, Rahab and Ruth, Mary and Elisabeth.

Rulers with Christ

There will be a special role for the Lord’s twelve apostles – as he promised:

“Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”(Matthew 19:28).

In the book of Daniel, the prophet saw a vision of the kingdom of God on earth, and he was told about those who should be in charge:

“The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever”(7:18).

What is so special about these immortal rulers called “saints”? “Saint” means a holy or separated one – someone chosen for his dedication to divine principles. Like the men who were first selected and given the Spirit of God to help Moses to govern ancient Israel, they will be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth. hating covetousness”. But with one big difference: those in times past died – but the rulers of the future will not die, and their qualities will not be lost with age.

The King will have the discernment to select the right men or women for the jobs on hand and to utilise the skills of mind and body which they began to develop during their service in this present life.

The Quality of Eternal Life

Eternal life will convey marvellous benefits on these governors and teachers. With healthy minds and physically perfect bodies, they will not suffer the crippling effects of disease or disablement: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more: neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat … and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:1617). Like their Master, they will -know what is in men’s hearts and, with the unerring ability to diagnose the source of human problems, will have the capacity to root out trouble-makers and to promote trust between neighbours. Think what that could accomplish in some of the world’s present trouble-spots!

What a transformation will begin to work its way across the earth when Christ’s immortal administrators are sent out from Jerusalem. New laws, based on Biblical principles, will have the effect of cutting through partisan politics and will rapidly remove the cause of so much bigotry among contesting religions.

A Thousand Years of Peace

Of course, it will take time for adjustments to be made and for people to see the benefits to their way of life. It will not happen overnight; but there is to be a period of one thousand years for the glorious “refreshing” of the earth’s peoples before God’s programme is complete.

We must not think of the coming age as a fanciful, too-good-to-be-true fairyland. It will be a very real world, peopled with those who have survived the judgements and have come to accept that Christ is a world ruler who, for the good of the whole civilisation, is prepared to rule with “a rod of iron”. But the mortal nations will still have their own characteristics and cultures, and their own racial backgrounds. The rulers will have the gift of speaking in other languages; but it may be some time before the world’s dialects are completely changed into the one universal language that will reverse the confusion of Babel (see Genesis 11) and allow the suspicions and difficulties of multi-language communication to be dispersed.

A Fair System of Justice

At every level of civilisation throughout the world there are forces at work which undermine happy and rewarding co-existence between people. No ideology, capitalism or communism, even the tyranny of cruel despots, has been able to handle them. They are the forces of greed, corruption, subversion, bribery and personal power. All this is going to change. There will be justice for the poor, and the under-privileged will get fair treatment. Jesus will see to that:

“He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:3-4).

When “princes shall rule in judgement” (Isaiah 32:1) the whole balance of society will change: no longer one law for the rich and one for the poor! The same rules will apply whether you live in Washington, Moscow or Beijing, because they will be based on the Sermon on the Mount and on divine principles laid down by the King and his court in Jerusalem.

How will this affect the lives of the people? When criminals and hooligans perceive that the judges can see right through them and that the punishment will always fit the crime, the majority will soon learn that loving one’s neighbour and the virtues of honesty and truth are much to be preferred in the attainment of a happy and prosperous life. Not only does it mean that families and neighbours can live in complete harmony but it will spill over into a release from national and international tensions. As Isaiah said: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).

The restraints imposed by the immortal rulers will prevent the worst excesses of human nature. Unrepentant sinners will suffer summary execution and the otherwise long lives which people might enjoy will be cut short. “With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked”; and, “The sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 11:4; 65:20).

Good Health

Isaiah also tells us that:

“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old” (65:20).

This suggests that infant mortality, which is still a scourge in many developing countries, will be wiped out. If someone only reaches the age of 100 he will still be accounted a child. What a change from the present, when life expectancy in some countries is only 40 years or so, and even in the medically advanced countries it only attains what the Psalmist described as “threescore years and ten”. Childhood will be a joy, and old age no disgrace, for, “there shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” (Zechariah 8:4,5).

If Jesus, the Great Physician, in his first ministry could heal the sick, cure blind ness-from -birth, make cripples walk, exorcise mental disorders and raise people from the dead, then there is every certainty that he and his aides will do that, and more, in the future. When the people of the world are moved to turn to divine standards and to seek help in the right quarter, then scourges like cancer and heart disease will disappear. When families again have a reverence for the sanctity of marriage and for correct sexual behaviour then pestilences like AIDS will no more afflict the nations. The good news is that:

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing”(Isaiah 35:5-6).

World Resources for the Good of All

It is a sad commentary on our modern civilisation that despite large deposits of minerals and the abundant potential in the soil for the production of food, man seems unable to feed the ever growing population. He cannot distribute the resources or organise the labour so that everyone can have satisfying work and lead a prosperous and contented life. But it can be done! The resources have been there since the Creator designed this bountiful earth. What it needs are right-minded people, with the commitment and authority to solve the physical problems and to organise the bounty.

It is worth remembering that Jesus was a great organiser as well as a great teacher. What he could do in feeding thousands of men, women and children in well-ordered groups of fifty or a hundred, with a dozen assistants, he will surely do among the starving millions when he is God’s King on earth. The heartrending scenes we have seen reported from Ethiopia or Mozambique or Bangladesh will be a thing of the past. No food mountains will rot in European storehouses; no American crops will be burned because the sale price is too low.

The Bible foresees the curse on the ground being removed, and plentiful crops for all who will labour for them. “There shall be an handful of corn … upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon”, said king David (Psalm 72:16). “The mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters”, said Joel (3:18; see also Amos 9:13). The farmer’s crops will be abundant, for “the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew” (Zechariah 8:12).

Then there is the prophet Isaiah’s vision of the desert rejoicing and blossoming as the rose (35: 1). Think of the vast areas of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where every year the sands are encroaching on fertile ground and millions are dying. Governments seem unable to spend the huge sums of money necessary to bring up the water that often lies just below the surface! Then what a blessing it will be for desert peoples to be engaged in huge irrigation schemes and to benefit from the new fertility of their lands. These are the wonderful things that will be possible in the kingdom of God.

Not only this but the animal world will be changed too!  As we read in Romans 8:19-22

The Lion and the Lamb will lie down together“19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”

So it is that the whole animal world “groans” in waiting for the Kingdom of God to come for they too will be changed as we read in Isaiah 11:6-7

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”

What a wonderful time this will be in all the earth.

Living Life to the Full

There will be less concentration of population in large cities: city dwellers moving out into pasture and woodland areas made available by worldwide conservation schemes. God has never encouraged people to live in large cities, where the worst traits of humanity are expressed and where evil men hide in dark places. On the other hand when, under the improved conditions of Christ’s reign, human fitness reaches its peak and men’s minds are expanded to their full potential, there will be abundant room for utilising those skills, to the tremendous benefit of all the world’s inhabitants. Everyone will achieve what we call ‘job satisfaction’:

“They shall build houses, and inhabit them (a contrast with former times!); and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:21-22).

Arabs Working with Jews

One of the most joyful prospects will be the harmony that will exist between ancient enemies. The prophet’s vision of the wolf and the lamb feeding together is not only a beautiful description of a restored harmony between man and the animal creation, but it also has a special reference to future peace between previously warring nations. Isaiah speaks of the Arabs, coming to Jerusalem to “shew forth the praises of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6). He pictures them helping to build up the walls of the new city, working with their former half-brothers, the Jews, and feeding their flocks and becoming farmers and vinedressers. That will be a wonderful reversal of the present state of affairs in the Middle East: a fulfilment of major promises which God made long ago to the Arab branch of Abraham’s family.

How Long will it Last?

Will this benevolent state of affairs last for ever? In the sense that God has designed the earth for man to live on for ever, the answer is: Yes. But Christ’s kingdom, controlled by ever-living rulers, will still have a predominantly mortal populace. That is to say, human propensities and sinfulness will still be there and that is why God has set a time limit on it. By God’s reckoning it will take one thousand years fully to educate the inhabitants of the world to divine standards of behaviour. By then they will have a long-term understanding of the marvellous benefits to be enjoyed by possessing eternal life themselves.

Eventually the Millennium must come to an end. It will be marked by a deliberate easing of the King’s strong reign in order to allow vestiges of rebellion among some of his subjects to come to the surface in a final desperate challenge to his will (see Revelation 20). These disloyal subjects will attack Jerusalem, but will be utterly destroyed. It will be mankind’s last death fling. It will provide the necessary marker, a millennium-end “sign of the times”, to the people of the world that the finale is about to take place.

When the rebellion is over, Christ’s work as Saviour and King is nearly done. The dead of a thousand years must be raised from their graves, to meet again their King and Judge:

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;. and the books were opened … and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works”(Revelation 20:12).

Alongside those raised will stand the millions who are living. They must now await Christ’s righteous judgement. The rebels and those who represent the worst elements of human nature will die, consigned to the “lake of fire”, the death from which there is no returning. On the other hand, the faithful subjects of Christ’s kingdom on earth will then receive their reward, everlasting life, just as their rulers had done a thousand years before.

“Thy kingdom come”

Following these dramatic events, the earth is to be inhabited only by men and women who possess eternal life. The work of the Lord Jesus as King is done. He has no mortal subjects to reign over and the great destroyers of man’s potential, sin and death, have been conquered. God’s will is now truly done on earth, and the “Lord’s prayer” has been answered. The Apostle Paul summed it up in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Then cometh the end, when he (Jesus) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death … And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be ail in all”(verses 24-28).

We may find it difficult to think that far ahead, or to visualise what is meant by God being “all in all”. But it will be the climax of the Creator’s great purpose with the earth-and it will be very wonderful!

“As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Numbers 14:21).

Don’t let this marvellous future slip away from you! Jesus will be here soon. Please, read your Bible, and pray with all your heart:

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

God's Kingdom on Earth Series of Articles

 

Christ is Coming SOON, Are YOU Ready?

Christ is Coming SOON, Are YOU Ready?

Christ is Coming SOON, Are YOU Ready?

Christ is Coming SOON, Are YOU Ready?Are you ready for Christ’s Return?

Do you know about Christ’s Return and what this will mean to you?

Firstly the Bible speaks on Christ’s Return in two completely different ways eg:

Matthew 24:27-31

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 24:30

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 24:37-39

37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Matthew 24:40-42

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Luke 12:39-40

39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Luke 21:27-28

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

1Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-5

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

2 Peter 3:10

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Okay so what do we learn from all these passages:

  1. When Christ comes the dead will rise first ie. Those who have died in belief and faith of Christ’s coming will be resurrected from the grave.
  2. The believers that are still alive at Christ’s coming will be gathered together to be with Christ and along with those who have been resurrected.
  3. At this point only those who were ready and waiting for Christ’s to come will see him as to all others his return will be like a thief and they will not realise that he has come.
  4. We know that one of the first things that Christ will do when he returns is judgement of all that we have done both good and bad.  And Peter tells us that this judgement must first begin at the household of God ie. With the Believers. 

1 Peter 4:16-18

16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

So Judgement will commence with the believers who will be taken away from this world for a time while this process takes place.  Where will they go?

Well Isaiah says that they will enter a place of privacy

Isaiah 26:19-21

19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. 

The world we live in is a world of contrasts.

Many people of this world live a life of luxury and comfort. They seem to have all their needs met. They have a nice house with a good job and do not seem to have any problems that they cannot solve themselves.

On the other hand there are many people in this world who suffer greatly from the effects of poverty and over population. There are millions of people who struggle to find enough food to feed their families, there are millions of people who live in conditions that are breeding grounds for disease and pestilence. Under these conditions diseases such as leprosy run rampant and there is a great deal of suffering.

There are continual disagreements between nations. It seems as if there is always a war taking place and people are dying over unnecessary political agendas.

The problems of this world have been addressed by generations of politicians and charitable organisations yet the problems of this world continue to exist. In fact many different types of Governments have been tried: monarchy; democracy; republic; socialist. Yet man continues to struggle with the problems of this world. He has demonstrated quite successfully that he is unable to solve the problems that we see about us.

Many of the problems of this world are directly related to the selfishness of man. A man in power is happy to work with those that support him and who will help him become successful; generally this is at the expense of those who do not support him. Man is self serving.

Will there ever be a solution to these problems?

The answer is yes, but man cannot correct the problems of this world.

We must turn to the Bible to find the answers to the questions that we might ask.

The Bible tells us of the future, and it tells us what we can do to help make this world a better place to live.

The Bible assures us that man will continue to struggle from one crisis to another and that, left to his own, man will only make things much worse.

The Bible also assures us that if we place our confidence and trust in the God of the Bible, that we can live in a time of peace and security where we can truly enjoy the blessings of a life where the problems of this world will be solved.

The Bible also tells us that this will only happen once the Lord Jesus Christ returns to Earth.

In this article we wish to consider the Bible teaching about the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and discuss what he will do once he returns.

WHAT WILL JESUS DO WHEN HE RETURNS?

The Bible teaches us of many things that the Lord Jesus Christ will do when he returns to the earth.

  1. Jesus is going to set up a kingdom

We’ve already looked at Acts 1:11. In this verse two angels stated that Jesus was to return to earth. Just prior to the ascension of Jesus to heaven the disciples had asked Jesus a question .

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked him saying, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6

The disciples understood that Jesus was to set up a kingdom. Now that Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, the disciples thought that Jesus was now going to “restore the Kingdom to Israel.”

The disciples had very good reason for expecting Jesus to restore the Kingdom to Israel.

There is a consistent message in the Old Testament that a Kingdom will be set up on earth that will replace all the existing kingdoms of this world.

“And in those days the God of Heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Daniel 2:44

It will be a kingdom that will have its throne in Jerusalem and this kingdom will affect all people on earth.

“At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of the their evil hearts.” Jeremiah 3:17

The King of this kingdom will establish God’s ways as the correct way to live our lives.

Remember what we said in the introduction. “Many of the problems of this world are directly related to the selfishness of man. A man in power is happy to work with those that support him and who will help him become successful; generally this is at the expense of those who do not support him. Man is self serving. “However, in the Kingdom that will be set up on this earth men will no longer follow the dictates of their evil hearts.”

Another feature of the Kingdom is that everybody will be willing to learn of God’s ways.

The whole earth will want to go to Jerusalem to be taught of God’s ways.

“Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; he will teach us of his ways, and we shall walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Micah 4:2

  1. Jesus will be king of this kingdom

God made a promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16.

In verse 12 – 13 we read, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up a your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

Included in this promise was a seed that would sit on the throne of the kingdom forever.

The Bible tells us who this seed is.

In the first chapter of Luke an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would have a son. It was to be a special son because his conception would be miraculous.

The name of this Son was to be Jesus. (Luke 1:31)

In Luke 1:32-33 we read “…the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David…and of his kingdom there will be no end”

Matt 1:1 confirms that Jesus Christ is the son of David

The Bible is very clear. The “seed” of David that would sit on his throne is the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns he will re-establish the kingdom of Israel, and set-up his throne in Jerusalem – the same place where King David had his throne.

The Bible is also very clear and consistent in its teaching that Jerusalem is to be the place from which the Kingdom of God will be governed.

“At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord” Jeremiah 3:17

Even the Lord Jesus Christ called Jerusalem “the city of the great king.” (Matthew 5:35)

So far we’ve seen that the Bible teaches that:

(a) Jesus is to return to this earth.

(b) A kingdom is to be set up on this earth.

(c) The King of this Kingdom will rule from Jerusalem.

(d) This King will rule using God’s principles, not man’s.

(e) Everyone will acknowledge this King as ruler over all the earth

(f) This King is Jesus!

  1. Jesus will raise the Dead

Hebrews 11 tells us of many men and women of the Old Testament who all lived faithful lives but they still have not received the reward of eternal life. This is only a small list of faithful men and women. There are many others who have lived faithful lives before God who have died. The same chapter confirms for us that all the faithful are still to receive the promise of eternal life.

“And these all having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” Hebrews 11:39

How can they receive the promise of eternal life? There will be a resurrection of the dead at the coming of Jesus. This teaching of resurrection is taught in many places of the Bible “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” 1 Thessalonians 4:16

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2

“Most assuredly, I say to you the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” John 5:25

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice.” John 5:28

The resurrected people will be gathered with all those who are living that know of God and they will be judged. The Apostle Paul confirms that the Lord Jesus Christ will be judge at this time.

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom.” 2 Timothy 4:1

  1. Christ will reward the faithful

In Revelation we read of the last words that Christ gave to his disciples. They were given to be a source of encouragement to the believers who waited for the return of their Lord.

As part of his encouragement he promised that he would bring a reward for the faithful.

“And behold I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work.” Revelation 22:12

In Romans chapter 2 we are told that if we are faithful we will receive eternal life, but if we choose to be self seeking and do not obey the truth we will receive the indignation and wrath of God.

In Romans 2:6-10 we read that God “will render to every man according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality; but to those who are self seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honour, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and to the Greek.”

Matthew 25:31-46 records a parable that Jesus told his disciples. In this parable sheep and goats are used to symbolise the two 2 classes of people who will be judged. The sheep represent those who have obeyed God, while the goats represent those who have been disobedient.

Those who have been faithful will receive eternal life (v34) and those that have not been faithful will be punished with everlasting death (v41).

John 5:29 tells us that the judgement will result in life for some and eternal death for others.

The Bible teaches that Christ is coming back to earth to reward all those that have been faithful to God. The faithful will be given eternal life and enjoy life in the kingdom.

WHEN WILL JESUS RETURN?

It is well documented in the Bible that Jesus will return to this earth. God has already set the day. Acts 17 confirms this for us.

“He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained:..” Acts 17:31

But when is this day?

In a speech to his disciples in Mark 13, Jesus prophesied of many events that would take place in the future.

In this prophecy he states clearly that he would return to this earth and that he would gather together his faithful followers.

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven.” Mark 13:26

He also told his disciples that he did not know when this was to happen.

“But of that day and that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32

Later, after Jesus had been resurrected from the dead and given immortality, his disciples asked him if he was to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time. (Act 1:6)

Jesus responded by saying “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own authority.” Acts 1:7

The Bible simply does not tell us the exact time when Jesus will return however it does give us clues as to when he will return.

Signs of the return of Jesus

The people of Israel are a “special” people of God. The people of Israel are a people of sign and God has used them to demonstrate his power. Using the people of Israel God has shown that he is true to his word.

“You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he. Before me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10

God stated that the nation would be scattered.

“Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth even to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known – wood and stone.” Deuteronomy 28:64

God also stated that the nation would be re-gathered:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.” Jeremiah 31:10

The Bible is clear in its teaching that the Jews would be re-gathered and established in the land of Israel.

Jesus also stated that Jerusalem would be under the control of foreign powers for a period of time, but this would not be forever.

 “…Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:24

Jesus also said that once this was fulfilled the Son of Man would return. “Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Luke 21:27

In AD 70 the Jews lost control of Jerusalem as the Roman army invaded Israel with such vengeance that the Jews were scattered from one end of the world to the other. However, this was not to last. In 1967 the Jews wrested Jerusalem from Arab control. For nearly 1900 years Jerusalem had been under the control of foreign gentile powers, but the Israelis regained control of Jerusalem.

If Jesus was correct in saying that Jerusalem would again be under the control of Jews, we can also be assured that that his coming will be soon.

It is very important that we understand this Biblical teaching. In fact the Apostle Peter warned that there would be a time when people would mock this important teaching.

“…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4

The Apostle Peter was warning the readers of his letter that even though it might seem that God has “forgotten” his promise to send his son back to earth, God is true to his word and he will do as he has said.

God will not forget his promise and even though there would be a time when many would laugh and scoff at the teaching of the Bible this would not change the teaching of the Bible or the PURPOSE of GOD.

In fact one of the strong points that Peter makes is that God is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish (v9). God wants us to be in His Kingdom.

If Christ were to return now, would you be ready to go into the Kingdom.

If not, make the most of the time left to you so that you are ready and prepared when the Son of God returns.

 

The Origin of the Bible

Bible Origins – How did we get the Bible?

Bible Origins – How did we get the Bible?

The Origin of the Bible

Bible Origins – Where and How did we get the Bible?

What about texts and translations?

The Bible as it is today is in two parts, the Old and the New Testament. The Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew with a few passages in Aramaic, on papyrus or parchment. It consists of 39 books. The number of writers and the dates that the various books were written is uncertain.

Apart from the named books there may have been several scribes who contributed to Books of the Kings and Chronicles and although David composed most of the Psalms, some are attributed to other writers, and it is not known exactly how or when they were collected together into one book.

Job was probably the first book to be written, followed by the books of Moses, but Moses may have had access to earlier written records and verbal tradition. He wrote about 1500 BCE. The last writer to contribute was the prophet Malachi who wrote after the return from captivity in Babylon about 400 BCE. Many copies of the Old Testament would have been made during this period, particularly copies of the five books of Moses, known as the “Torah”. From these copies scribes in Alexandria translated the Old Testament into Greek sometime between 270 and 130 BCE. Christ and the Apostles quote from this Greek translation known as the Septuagint in their preaching, but they would also have had access to the original Hebrew scrolls in the local synagogues.

Nearly a thousand years later Hebrew scholars produced what is called the Masoretic text which updated the ancient Hebrew written language which by this time was only imperfectly understood by scholars, and which was no longer in common use.

The 27 books of the New Testament were written in Greek. With one exception the writers are all as stated. The exception is the Letter to the Hebrews which is not named, but the majority view is that it was written by the Apostle Paul.

About the year 400 CE. A scholar named Jerome translated into Latin a complete Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek documents, and this is called the “Vulgate”. It was generally available only to the scholars of the Roman Catholic Church. In the 13th and 14th centuries translations were made into French and secretly circulated, and in England John Wycliffe made a translation into English. In 1516 CE. the Dutch scholar Erasmus revised the New Testament from Greek and Latin documents not previously available, which resulted in a more accurate text. (There was an earlier translation into Latin which was copied and used in parts of Europe and North Africa).

William TyndaleIn 1526 CE William Tyndale translated into English a complete a New Testament with part of the Old Testament. Ten years later Coverdale completed the Old Testament, and for the first time complete Bibles in English, known as the “Great Bible” were “Appointed to be read in churches” by  King Henry VIII. With the return of Catholicism under Queen Mary Tudor, work on revising and improving the translation became impossible in England and was transferred to Geneva in Switzerland, where refugees from Mary’s persecution had settled. In 1560 the “Geneva Bible” was published. The Geneva Bible was a Calvinist publication and it was heavily annotated with anti-clerical comments, and it became the preferred translation in Protestant England. This translation also coincided with improvements in printing which made its production and distribution easier. In 1611 King James I commissioned the “Authorised Version” which was a revision based upon all previously available scholarship and this has remained in common use until the present day. The Geneva Bible continued in use under Cromwell and the Puritans, but when the monarchy was restored the marginal notes made it politically incorrect, and the King James Authorised Version gradually took over as the only Bible in production and in common use in England.

Meanwhile in Europe translations had been made into German, French and other European languages, but the Roman Catholic Church felt that it was not wise to have the Bible in the hands of the common people who would misunderstand it. Its distribution was suppressed, and existing copies seized and burned. Far from the Bible being misunderstood, the real fear of the Church was that reading the Bible would expose the way in which it was being misused and neglected.

In the 19th century the discovery of more ancient Greek texts, particularly the Codex Sinaiticus found in the Convent of St Catherine at the foot of Mt. Sinai in 1844, brought pressure for another revision and in 1885 the Revised Version was produced. This is still reckoned by many to be the most accurate translation available today, but this will always be a matter of opinion. About the same time Christian missionaries realised the need for the Bible to be available in all languages and in every country where they were preaching the gospel.

Gradually and persistently even the most obscure languages came to be understood and translations were made and printed. Now the American Bible Society reports that the Bible is available in over two thousand languages.

Following two world wars and the inevitable changes in the way people talked and used language, there were several attempts to produce Bibles that simplified the language and made the Bible easier to read and understand. This received great impetus in 1947 when a massive horde of very early manuscripts known as “The Dead Sea Scrolls” was found in caves in the Jordan Valley.

These date back to pre-Christian times, and are therefore of prime importance. Among the documents are parts of every Old Testament book except Esther. After years of scholarship devoted to these scrolls, scholars have concluded that after making careful comparisons, there are very few errors in our current versions of the Old Testament, and that the few they have found are not significant.

The version of the Bible which has found most favour in recent years is the New International Version which has a readable text suitable for the 21st century. First produced in 1979 it is constantly being revised and with each new printing the text changes slightly as current scholarship comes up with preferred readings. It has copious footnotes giving alternative renderings where translations are disputed, or the manuscript text in doubt. In recent years The New King James Version has come on the market, which is the 1611 Bible with minor corrections, and the language brought up-to-date.

Many other versions, particularly of the New Testament, have been published over the last hundred years or so, most of them aimed either at more accuracy in the text, or making the text more understandable to the modern mind. We must always bear in mind that there is one original inspired text which is the work of God, which we do not have, and that our Bible, whichever version we use, has been copied and translated by man. We must therefore make allowances for the differences we find from version to version. It is also reasonable to believe that God who gave us the Bible in the first place that we might understand and obey Him, would have continued to guide and protect His work through the many copyings, translations and revisions which it has undergone through the ages.

The Bible we have in our hands today is as much the Word of God now as it was when it was first written so many years ago.

To learn more see this article: THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE

Bible History

Bible History Through The Ages

Bible History

Bible History Through The Ages

A useful way to understand Bible accounts is to place them in the context of historical periods. Historians tend to divide human development into three main ‘Ages’: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

If we compare historical books and commentaries, we soon see that these Ages occurred at different dates around the world as nations developed at varying rates in the areas where they lived.

An expert in archaeology (Leen Ritmeyer, Archaeological Architect) has given us the following dates which refer to the lands of the Bible in the Middle East:

  •   Stone Age: prior to 3,000 BC
  •   Bronze Age: 3,300 BC to 1,200 BC
  •   Iron Age: 1,200 BC to 586 BC

We notice that some dates overlap each other. This is because no ‘Age’ had a clear–cut beginning or end. A modern day illustration of this can be seen in how many people today would use the internet for reference and research, whereas others still refer to books. In some countries, younger people are likely to measure in metres and centimetres, or grams, but the older generation often still prefer feet, inches and ounces. The modern world is changing, but there is no actual cutoff point for certain methods or systems.

We will now concentrate on the dates which concern Israel and the Middle Eastern lands where the Bible narratives took place. We can relate them well to these periods in history.

The Stone Age

The Stone Age lasted until about 3,000 BC. In biblical history these dates relate to the time of Adam and Eve right through to the birth of Noah.The Stone Age lasted until about 3,000 BC. In biblical history these dates relate to the time of Adam and Eve right through to the birth of Noah.

The main events under the Stone Age can therefore be listed as:

Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden:

  •  Their sons Cain and Abel: Cain killed his brother, the first murder
  •  Seth, their third son, who Eve said replaced the deceased Abel
  •  Enoch, whose writings are quoted later in the Bible
  •  Methuselah – the oldest man who ever lived (969 years old!)

We should not make the mistake of thinking that these people were primitive cave dwellers. They wrote, kept flocks, built cities and made technical progress. Genesis 4:22 says that a man called Tubal Cain worked in bronze and iron, which illustrates that there were some people who were ahead of their time.

The very fact that this is recorded proves that these periods did not suddenly stop, and another one begin. The change came gradually over time.

The Bronze Age

The accepted dates for this Age are 3,300 BC to 1,200 BC. This equates to the time of Noah right through to Samuel, the last of Israel’s judges.

The accepted dates for this Age are 3,300 BC to 1,200 BC. This equates to the time of Noah right through to Samuel, the last of Israel’s judges.

The Bible account tells us that after the Flood, people again turned away from God. So the Lord chose Abraham and made a covenant with him. The rest of the Bible deals with Abraham’s descendants, known as Israel or the Jews. ‘Testament’ is the same as ‘covenant’: the Old Testament relates to God’s promises to Abraham, and then the New Testament shows their fulfillment through Jesus.

The main Bible events under the Bronze Age are:

Noah’s ark and the Flood

  •  Tower of Babel – the rebellion against God soon after the Flood
  •   Abraham and his son Isaac • Isaac’s son Jacob – whose name was changed to Israel
  •   Joseph – sold as a slave into Egypt, but rose to be governor
  •   Israel as slaves in Egypt
  •   Moses – the deliverer who led Israel out of Egypt (the Exodus)
  •   Joshua – succeeded Moses and led Israel into the Promised Land
  •   Capture of the Promised Land promised by God to Abraham
  •   The judges (leaders) until Samuel

Some interesting exceptions again show the gradual transition from this ‘age’ to the next. Og, an enemy king, had an iron bedstead (Deuteronomy 3:11). This was before the Iron Age, but the very mention of it shows that advances were being made, and that it was exceptional in its time.

Similarly, while Joshua was helping the people of Israel to occupy the Promised Land, the following complaint was made:

All the Canaanites who dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron (Joshua 17:16).

This was obviously to pose a huge problem to those who did not possess Iron Age vehicles.

The Iron Age

The Iron AgeThe last of these three Ages lasted from about 1,200 BC to 586 BC. This time period takes us from the start of the kings of Israel through to their last king, and the subsequent captivity in Babylon. It includes much of Israel’s history and a large proportion of their writings, the Kings and Chronicles, Psalms and Prophets. It should be understood that the Psalms and prophetic books fit in alongside the history of their kings, so that the two sections run in parallel. The principal Bible events under the Iron Age cover:

  •   Samuel – the last judge
  •   Saul – Israel’s first king
  •   David – the godly king who wrote many of the Psalms
  •   Solomon – the king who had huge wealth and wisdom
  •   Rehoboam and Jeroboam – in whose reigns the kingdom divided into North and South – and the subsequent kings
  •   Prophets – the teachers who tried to turn the nation back to God
  •   Capture of the Northern kingdom in 722 BC
  •   Capture of the Southern kingdom in 586 BC – they would return 70 years later and their descendants were the Jews living in Israel when Jesus was born.

All of this helps us to see that the Bible is a reliable document which corresponds well to the historical periods in which it is set. More importantly, it should give us confidence that it will continue to be accurate and to look forward to the ‘Age’ still to come the Age of the Kingdom of God.

By David Simpson