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The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and The War Against the Human

The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and The War Against the Human Hardcover – May 31, 2022

by Naomi Wolf Author

Review by Jack Kettler


“Dr Naomi Wolf received a D Phil Degree in English Literature from the University of Oxford in 2015. Dr Wolf taught Victorian Studies as a Visiting Professor at SUNY Stony Brook, received a Barnard College Research Fellowship at the Center for Women and Gender, was recipient of a Rothermere American Institute Research Fellowship for her work on John Addington Symonds at the University of Oxford, and taught English Literature at George Washington University as a visiting lecturer. She’s lectured widely on the themes in Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love, presenting lectures on Symonds and the themes in Outrages at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, at Balliol College, Oxford, and to the undergraduates in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. She lectured about Symonds and Outrages for the first LGBTQ Colloquium at Rhodes House. Dr Wolf was a Rhodes Scholar and a Yale graduate. She’s written eight nonfiction bestsellers, about women’s issues and civil liberties, and is the CEO of, a news site and legislative database in which actual US state and Federal legislation is shared digitally and read and explained weekly. She holds an honorary doctorate from Sweet Briar College. She and her family live in New York City.”

Additional Bio:

Naomi Wolf, a former consultant to President Clinton, has written about what, without a doubt, is the gold standard work on Covid and the forced experimental vaccination push by the fed gov along with its naïve but willing collaborators from the private sector. The book is titled “The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and The War Against the Human.” The book is endorsed by Tucker Carlson, Dr. Paul Alexander, Steve Bannon, and Eric Metaxas.


   “This book is about how we came to this harrowing civilizational crossroads — engaged in a war against vast impersonal forces with limitless power over our lives for the freedoms we have taken for granted; how those forces seized upon two years of COVID-19 panic in sinister new ways; and how, yet, against overwhelming odds, we still might win.” (p. 2)

   “Others have looked at this war from a biomedical perspective, or from a strictly political one. My focus is on how this ongoing war against us is far more basic, aimed at nothing less than dissolving the meaning of humanity itself and undoing of the rich cultural legacy we in the West have long treasured and passed on to succeeding generations.

   In those two years, the COVID-19 pandemic, which began unfolding with the unprecedented global “lockdown” in March 2020, has fundamentally remade human relations, capitalism, and culture in the West. No matter that in the past we had lived through far graver medical crises without even passing thought to stopping all congregation, suspending the production of all culture, or compelling all healthy people to cover their faces and close their businesses and keep apart — this time, our elites used the “crisis” to shut down Western norms of liberty, the human-centered world, and civilization itself.

   But what is our culture, which we once thought durable, to be replaced by? A world managed by machines and mediated via digital interfaces; a world predicated on cruelty, without human empathy as an organizing principle; a world in which national boundaries, cultures, and languages are drained of meaning, in which institutions embody only the goals of distant meta-national oligarchs, a world organized for the benefit of massive pharmaceutical companies, a few global tech giants and technocrats, and a tyrannical superpower that is our deadly adversary. In short: a world redesigned to ensure the dominance forever of these distant elites, both geopolitically and via market share.

   In 2020–22, we entered a time in which the post–World War II organizing principle of human affairs, the democratic nation-state, was being intentionally diluted in power and undermined in the interest of constructing a replacement meta-structure of unaccountable loosely aligned global nonprofits, Big Tech corporations, the WEF, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”  (p. 2-3).

A review:

Dr. Wolf shows how fragile Western liberty institutions are, and it is frightening. Without barely a peep, the nations of the Western world surrendered long fought for constitution freedom to un-elected bureaucrats who jumped into action, implanting virtually straight out of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) playbook a strategy to lock down society, literally putting out of business hundreds of thousands of businesses and ruining countless lives. It should be duly noted that Communism is anti-Christ.  Karl Marx wanted to dethrone God, and an influential disciple of Marx’s, Saul Alinsky, dedicated his book, Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer!

In addition, Dr. Wolf documents how the forced experimental so-called vaccines are causing the deaths and injuries of millions around the world. The dam of censorship is starting to break in, which will be seen that the covid vaccines are bio-weapons designed to cause the collapse and depopulation of whole societies. In the future, it will be reported that this is one of the worst crimes against humanity ever recorded. Even now, the battle cry is sounding for the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity, “there will be no amnesty.”

Dr. Wolf explains it this way:

   “It is no exaggeration to say that these coordinated offenses, orchestrated by government in lockstep alliance with tech and pharmaceutical companies and the dominant media, represent an evil we had never seen before in human history.” (p. 13)

Dr. Wolf goes on:

   “The real goal had nothing to do with public health. The real goal is to dissolve and destroy Western and human culture, and to replace it with a techno-fascistic culture — a culture in which we have forgotten what free human beings can do. The crime that was perpetrated during the pandemic years of 2020–22 was perhaps the greatest ever committed against humanity. And it is being perpetrated still.” (p. 14-15)

Thus far, this review has only touched on the introduction. The scope of this work is incredible. Dr. Wolf thoroughly documents her assertions. Dr. Wolf’s book values the dignity of humanity and the best elements of culture. In addition, Dr. Wolf describes with extraordinary empathy the terrible toll of death and destruction of millions of lives and livelihoods the pandemic lockdowns destroyed.    

How could Western societies that had developed such strong democratic cultural norms with real freedom let it be taken and replaced with the practices and dictates taken almost verbatim out of the Chinese Communist Party playbook?

Everything in Western cultural tradition was being thrown out for impersonal degrading practices. When the practices were questioned by asking:


Always the same answer. ‘Because of COVID’” (p. 248)   

Dr. Wolf’s book is sobering and frightening when considering how many of our countrymen blindly submitted. Alternatively, and even more alarming, it gave rise to the totalitarians among us. Unelected It is hard to fathom the amount of damage that was done. A whole generation of children has been impacted negatively in education and social development.

Doctors, one with over 600 peer-reviewed articles published, was stripped of his medical license credentials for daring to question the vaccine narrative and the dangers of the vaccines. *

Unelected bureaucrats suddenly became tyrannical and seemingly relished their new power of having the ability to destroy people’s businesses. Domestic and foreign enemies even used and used the pandemic lockdowns to implement a coup against a sitting American president’s reelection campaign. In opposition to most state constitutions, mail-in ballots by the millions without the proper chain of custody controls and signature verifications were injected into the system. “Why? ‘Because of COVID.’”    

For the naysayers, one of the book’s endorsers writes:

   “Naomi Wolf’s courage is a gift to us all. Her work in this brilliant book is groundbreaking and inescapably important for anyone who cares about freedom and human dignity.” – Eric Metaxas, #1 New York Times bestselling author and the host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas radio show, and is the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Is Atheism Dead, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, and many other titles

Another endorser writes:

   “Naomi Wolf is one of the bravest, clearest-thinking people I know. The reason you hear the forces of repression so desperately trying to dismiss her is because she is right.” – Tucker Carlson.               

In conclusion:

Dr. Naomi Wolf is truly an extraordinary humanitarian. If modern democratic societies are to survive, Dr. Wolf’s book will surely have played a part in waking people up to the dangers exhibited by the enemies of freedom.   

If one fails to read this book or at least a detailed review of Dr. Wolf’s book, that individual could be described metaphorically as an ostrich burying one’s head in the sand.


Wolf, Naomi, The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and The War Against the Human, (All Seasons Press, Fort Lauderdale Florida).

* Dr. Peter A. McCullough brings truth to the world and fights battles against censorship and reprisal. Dr. McCullough is an internist, cardiologist, epidemiologist, a full professor of medicine at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Dallas, USA. He also has a master’s degree in public health and is known for being one of the top five most-published medical researchers in the United States and is the editor of two medical journals.

Supplemental Material:

“Today, the equivalent of Israel’s Judges are the lower magistrates, i.e., governors, judges, sheriffs, county commissioners, and elected representatives. Some on this shortlist have begun to stand up against fed gov tyranny. Pray that many more like Samson of old will stand up for righteousness and freedom and cast off the yoke of the modern-day Philistines who overthrew the legitimate government!” – Jack Kettler

“What can we learn from 1 Kings 18:20-40, Elijah’s victory over the Priests of Baal? Elijah mocked the priests of Baal by saying maybe their god was off in some other land giving them water instead, maybe he was asleep. Similarly, freedom lovers can mock the priests of Baal, i.e., politicians and wicked gov rulers today who promote the false god of statism.” – Jack Kettler 

Prayer for removal

Lord, have mercy on this nation and deliver us from the criminal syndicate whose leader stole the presidential election. This wicked tyrant is ruining the nation by destroying the military, the economy, education, health care, currency, and Biblical morality and has surrendered the Southern border to the drug and human trafficking cartels. Spare Your people from the sins of this unrighteous regime that speaks lies on a daily basis and has brought this nation onto the edge of destruction by collaborating with foreign enemies.

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

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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What was the mark of Cain in Genesis 4:15? 

What was the mark of Cain in Genesis 4:15?                                              By Jack Kettler

In this study, what was God’s mark on Cain (Genesis 4:15)?

“And the LORD said unto him, therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” (Genesis 4:15)

Theories about what the mark was:

A horn tattoo on his forehead, dark skin, leprosy on his face, a wild ghastly look, and others, shaking and trembling in all his limbs. Some believe the mark was inward and not visible, while others believe it was an outward visible mark.

Strong’s Lexicon:

“a mark

א֔וֹת (’ō·wṯ)

Noun – common singular

Strong’s Hebrew 226: 1) sign, signal 1a) a distinguishing mark 1b) banner 1c) remembrance 1d) miraculous sign 1e) omen 1f) warning 2) token, ensign, standard, miracle, proof.”

Strong’s Concordance:

oth: a sign

Original Word: אוֹת

Part of Speech: Noun Feminine

Transliteration: oth

Phonetic Spelling: (oth)

Definition: a sign.”

The American Standard Version renders the verse:

“And Jehovah said unto him, therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And Jehovah appointed a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should smite him.” (Genesis 4:15)

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers clears up the mystery of this mark:

“(15) The Lord said unto him, Therefore. — Most of the versions have Not so, which requires only a slight and probable change of the Hebrew text.”

“Sevenfold. — Cain’s punishment was severe, because his crime was the result of bad and violent passions, but his life was not taken because the act was not premeditated. Murder was more than he had meant. But as any one killing him would mean murder, therefore the vengeance would be sevenfold: that is, complete, seven being the number of perfection. Others, however, consider that Cain’s life was under a religious safeguard, seven being the sacred number of creation. In this we have the germ of the merciful law which set cities of refuge apart for the involuntary manslayer.”

“The Lord set a mark upon Cain. — This rendering suggests an utterly false idea. Cain was not branded nor marked in any way. What the Hebrew says is, “And Jehovah set,” that is, appointed, “unto Cain a sign, that no one finding him should slay him.” In a similar manner God appointed the rainbow as a sign unto Noah that mankind should never again be destroyed by a flood. Probably the sign here was also some natural phenomenon, the regular recurrence of which would assure Cain of his security, and so pacify his excited feelings.” (1)

In closing:

Was the sign literal or figurative? Those who believe the sign was a mark and literal have never gotten beyond speculation as to what the mark was. There is a place for conjecture, but endless speculations are unfruitful. In any regard, God placed this sign on Cain as a pledge of God’s protection, not forgiveness. Moreover, if the Scriptures are silent, the believer would follow the same.

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


1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Genesis, Vol.1, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 30.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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The limits of subjection to ungodly authorities

The limits of subjection to ungodly authorities                           By Jack Kettler

“We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) – The Apostle Peter.

To some, this assertion by Peter would only apply if the state commanded believers that the public worship of God is forbidden. But, in reality, there are many cases in which believers must disregard dictates from the state.

For example:

The Midwives feared God more than Pharaoh in Exodus 1:15-22.

What should a believer do if the state commands one to believe lies like the sun is a god or that Christians must receive regular injections to sedate them to prevent questioning of the actions of the state? Three examples that come to mind are the state’s command to parents to teach their children about the supposed benefits of the transgender lifestyle, transgender transitioning drugs, surgeries, or other actions like promoting homosexuality and fortification.

Believers are rightly appalled by the state’s promotion of sexual deviancy today. However, the state’s promotion of wickedness is nothing new in Church history. Believers have had to grapple with the limits of submission many times in history. The following examples show how believers have wrestled with submission to the state. Limiting Peter’s words in Acts 5:29 to meeting in public for worship is indefensible.   

The present study will consist of two parts, one being theologians who believed in limits regarding submission to the state, and two an analysis and Biblical response to state tyranny during the so-called Covid pandemic.  

Theological observations from various individuals in Church history on the limits of submission. The first will be the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“As Bonhoeffer saw it, it was the church’s duty to call the state to account for its actions; and in the end, if the state did not do the right thing, it was the duty of the church to oppose the state with action.” (1)

“It was Bonhoeffer and his friends who proved by their resistance unto death that even in the age of the nation-state there are loyalties which transcend those to state and nation.” (2)

“Bonhoeffer was firmly and rightly convinced that it is not only a Christian right but a Christian duty towards God to oppose tyranny, that is, a government which is no longer based on natural law and the law of God.” (3)

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident who was a key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential; his 1937 book The Cost of Discipleship is described as a modern classic.” – Wikipedia.

John Calvin:

“For earthly princes lay aside their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy to be reckoned among the number of mankind. We ought, rather, to spit upon their heads than to obey them.” (4)

“But in that obedience which we have shown to be due the authority of rulers, we are always to make this exception, indeed, to observe it as primary, that such obedience is never to lead us away from obedience to him, to whose will the desires of all ought to yield, to whose majesty scepters ought to be submitted. And how absurd would it be that in satisfying men you should incur the displeasure of him for whose sake you obey men he has opened his sacred mouth, must alone be heard, before all and above all men; next to him we are subject to those men who are in authority over us, but only in him. If they command anything against him, let it go unesteemed.” (5) (underlining and bolding emphasis mine)

John Knox:

“Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”  – John Knox.

“I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” – Mary, Queen of Scots.

“If their princes exceed their bounds, Madam, it is no doubt that they may be resisted even by power.” – John Knox (while being questioned by Queen Mary about his views which legitimized subjects resisting their princes)

“Let a thing here be noted, that the prophet of God sometimes may teach treason against kings, and yet neither he nor such as obey the word, spoken in the Lord’s name by him, offend God.” – John Knox.

The First Blast of the Trumpet against the monstrous regiment of Women – John Knox

Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) published his Lex, Rex, where he contended:

“We teach that any private man may kill a tyrant, void of all title …. And if he have nor

the consent of the people, he is an usurper, for we know no unlawful calling that

kings have now, or their family, to me crown, but only the call of the people.” (6)

The War for Independence:

“There is ever, and in all places, a mutual and reciprocal obligation between the people and the prince…If the prince fail in his promise, the people are exempt from obedience, the contract is made void, the rights of obligation of no force.” – Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos written in 1579 (7)

A letter published in a London newspaper from a royalist in New York said:

“Believe me, the Presbyterians have been the chief and principal instruments in all these flaming measures, and they always do and ever will act against Government, from that restless and turbulent anti-monarchical spirit which has always distinguished them everywhere.” (8)

In England, the War for Independence was referred to as the:

“King George III and other highly placed Britons called the colonists’ rebellion a ‘Presbyterian War.’”  (9)

A Hessian captain (one of the 30,000 German mercenaries used by England) wrote in 1778:

“Call this war by whatever name you may only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scots-Irish Presbyterian rebellion.” (10)

The failure to use Scripture-sanctioned resistance to ungodly mandates is summoned up:

“If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the government has been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the living God.” – Francis A. Schaeffer.

The remainder of this study will involve reflections on Covid and the state’s unjust intrusion into the Church.

In this writer’s opinion, the response to the state’s intrusion into the Church in response to Covid was appalling, particularly in many Reformed Churches.

In contrast to the Church’s by in large accepting the lies of the state, consider another explanation of one person’s analysis of the Covid lockdowns:

“Our Dress Rehearsal for a Police State” – The Dennis Prager Show

Prager early on noted that the state had left its bounds and its actions were nefarious. Not only had the state promoted lies, but the medical community also engaged in deception by lying about people dying with covid or of covid.

If one believes the state’s lies and repeats them, does this make the individual a liar? Or just deceived? In either case, it is not the place a believer should find themselves. How could otherwise thinking people fall for such blatantly un-scientific lies like wearing masks and social distancing when dealing with a respiratory virus?  

Covid was not only a test run for a police state but also for the coming “Great Reset” that is openly promoted by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the coming green climate change emergency lockdowns and restrictions. Does this seem far-fetched?

Consider this news item:

European Union bans sales of gasoline cars – in the middle of energy crisis!

Announces moratorium by 2035

By WND News Services

Published October 28, 2022

By Jack McEvoy

Daily Caller News Foundation


“The European Union (EU) announced Thursday that it will be outlawing the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035 even though EU countries are already struggling to fight soaring electricity costs.

EU member states and the European Commission agreed to force all new cars and vans registered in the EU to be electric by 2035, according to an EU press release. Europe is currently embroiled in an energy crisis and is preparing for blackouts as electricity prices remain more than seven times higher than they were in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The agreement sends a strong signal to industry and consumers: Europe is embracing the shift to zero-emission mobility,” Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said in a statement. “The speed at which this change has happened over the past few years is remarkable.”

California has already passed the same type of legislation. As a result, at least 15 other states will follow CA’s lead automatically.

A Biblical response: Christ, not Caesar, Is the Head of the Church. A Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open:

An excerpt:

“As pastors and elders, we cannot hand over to earthly authorities any privilege or power that belongs solely to Christ as head of His church. Pastors and elders are the ones to whom Christ has given the duty and the right to exercise His spiritual authority in the church (1 Peter 5:1–4; Hebrews 13:7, 17)—and Scripture alone defines how and whom they are to serve (1 Corinthians 4:1–4). They have no duty to follow orders from a civil government attempting to regulate the worship or governance of the church. In fact, pastors who cede their Christ-delegated authority in the church to a civil ruler have abdicated their responsibility before their Lord and violated the God-ordained spheres of authority as much as the secular official who illegitimately imposes his authority upon the church.” (11)

Affidavit on COVID Mandates June 14, 2022 Tim Stephens:       

“It was one year ago today that I was arrested a second time and jailed for 18 days for failing to comply with provincial COVID restrictions. Legal matters are still being sorted, but I wanted to share a summary argument that sets forth the Scriptural justification for how we handled COVID.”

“I drafted the following document for my appearance in court to answer charges and fines levied against me and our church. It seeks to make clear why we were unable to comply with all COVID mandates while we sought to maintain a respectful and submissive posture toward our governing authorities in the province of Alberta. It has four sections; it sets forth (1) an argument on COVID mandates in general, (2) on masking, (3) on capacity limits, and (4) on physical distancing. May it provide clarity and prepare us for future challenges.”

“This document summarizes many articles on the subject written by myself and others, along with parts of the court submission of John MacArthur at Grace Community Church in California (which you can find here).”

On COVID Mandates and the Church

1. Jesus is King over all the earth, including all kings, powers, and nations (Matt 28:18; Ps 2; Rev 1:5; Col 1:16; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16). He is the supreme authority in all matters of life, health, society, law, family, and faith. Our Charter recognizes this in the preamble as this is the heritage of our nation.

2. With Christ as head over all, his law rules over all (also acknowledged in the preamble of our Charter). Everyone will be held accountable to God’s law (Rom 3:19).

3. Our civil government including our mayor, premier, and prime minister all answer to God as his servants (Rom 13:1–4). They are his deacons, appointed to carry out justice in this nation in accordance with the will of God. They are called to protect the innocent and punish the wicked.

4. Christ is Lord over all and head over the church (Eph 1:20–21). There are no earthly (i.e. civic) magistrates between the church and Jesus. The church is a distinct institution, separate from the state in its governance, ordinances, and worship.

5. The church, being free from earthly rule under the lordship of Jesus, elects its own leaders—called elders or pastors—who lead, teach, guide, and care for the church (Acts 6:5, 20:28; Tit 1:5). They are called to protect the worship, teaching, and ordinances of the church to ensure fidelity to the word in submission to Christ.

6. We are called to honor and obey the governing authorities of the state (Rom 13:1–7; 1 Pet 2:13–17), the church (Heb 13:17), and the home (Eph 5:22–33).

7. Defiance to earthly authorities (whether in the state, church, or home) out of greater loyalty and obedience to Christ can only be justified if they (1) forbid what God commands; (2) command what God forbids; or (3) command what is not theirs to command (Daniel 3, 6, Acts 5:29).

8. The church is commanded to gather (and not neglect the assembling of ourselves together) especially as the Day draws nearer (Heb 10:25). We are commanded to practice hospitality (1 Pet 4:9; Rom 12:13); sing to one another (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16), celebrate the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17–34), and care for the elderly, widows, and orphans (Jas 1:27). These are direct and divine commands that cannot be defied by the faithful.

9. We maintain that COVID mandates in Alberta forbade what God commanded and the government ruled outside their jurisdiction (reaching in to regulate life in the church and home), and should rightly be resisted in obedience to Christ, the Lord of all.

10. These convictions are in keeping with our church constitution, adopted at our founding in 1960, which states, “We believe that civil government is of divine appointment for the interest and good order of society; that the magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honoured and obeyed except only in the things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only Lord of the conscience and Prince of the Kings of the earth” (Article 2.14).

On Mandatory Masking

The grounds for a religious exemption preventing enforcement of masks at services at Fairview Baptist Church.

1. Fairview Baptist Church regards the wearing of masks in worship first of all as a matter of conscience—and since we are forbidden by the teaching of Christ not to make extra-biblical religious rules that bind men’s consciences (Matthew 23:1-7; 15:1-9), we neither mandate nor forbid the wearing of masks in worship. See for an example.

2. Our Statement of Faith is clear when it says that the Lord Jesus Christ “is the only Lord of the conscience.” It is therefore wrong for me, as pastor, to enforce or mandate face coverings as part of worship and allow the commands of men to regulate or restrict the worship of God.

3. Veils and face coverings have profound religious significance in many world religions. In addition, it cannot be denied that COVID masks have become a very political symbol. In devotion to God, many in our church do not wish to associate either with other world religions nor the secular credo of our society.

4. Face coverings hide or veil our identity and therefore our humanity. The Bible states we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and our face, more than anything else, conveys our identity. A quick flip through any photo album or year book is more than sufficient to prove this point. Therefore, our face, unveiled, is a key element in true worship as we gather coram deo—before the face of God.

5. In addition, not just before God but with one another, one of the distinctives of Christian worship is face-to-face fellowship. The Bible uses the term “face to face” 17 times to describe this closeness in sharing life together. The importance of face-to-face intimacy within the church is stressed repeatedly. Paul writes, “We . . . were all the more eager with great desire to see your face” (1 Thessalonians 2:17). “We night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face” (3:10). The apostle John writes, “I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full” (2 John 12). “I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face” (3 John 14).

6. Koinonia is the Greek word in the Bible to describe fellowship. The word conveys the idea of community, close association, and intimate social contact. In keeping with this, the command “Greet one another with a holy kiss” is repeated four times in the Pauline epistles (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:22). This fellowship is essential to the local church.

7. Worship, in particular, is best seen as an open-face discipline. Covering the face is a symbol of disgrace or shame (Jeremiah 51:51; Job 40:4). Concealing one’s mouth while praising God suppresses the visible expression of worship. The Psalms’ calls to worship are filled with the words “tongue,” “lips,” and “mouth.” “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise” (Psalm 81:1). Wholehearted worship cannot be sung as intended—unrestrained and unmuted—from behind a state-mandated face covering. We see “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), and our faces were designed by him to reflect that glory back to heaven in uninhibited praise as we are being renewed in his image and likeness as we behold him with unveiled face (2 Corinthians 3:18).

8. It is important to note that these convictions are not borne out of political motivations, protest, or scientific skepticism. We are not “anti-maskers.” We do not want to shame any person who chooses to wear a mask to our gatherings. We do not want to bind anyone’s conscience with manmade restrictions. People in the church are free to wear masks if they choose. But people who share the views articulated above are likewise free to worship, sing, pray, and proclaim God’s Word without a face covering—even if that goes against the vacillating, sometimes arbitrary, and frequently heavy-handed dictates of government officials. It is simply not the church’s duty to enforce civic orders that restrict or regulate the worship of the church.

On Capacity Limits

The grounds for religious exemption preventing enforcement of capacity limits at services at Fairview Baptist Church.

1. The Bible is clear that ecclesiastical matters are entrusted not to civic leaders, but to pastors and deacons (Acts 6:5, 20:28; Tit 1:5; Heb 13:17). Under the lordship of Christ, he has delegated authority in different spheres or jurisdictions. He has not given the civil magistrate the jurisdiction over the church to order or regulate its worship (Rom 13:1–5).

2. Our Statement of Faith confirms this belief: “We believe that a church is a company of baptized believers, called out from the world, separated unto the Lord Jesus, voluntarily associated for the ministry of the Word, the mutual edification of its members, the propagation of the faith and the observance of the ordinances.  We believe it is a sovereign, independent body, exercising its own divinely awarded gifts, precepts and privileges under the Lordship of Christ, the Head of the Church.  We believe that its leaders are pastors, elders and deacons.”

3. To limit capacity to 30% or 15% is to fundamentally alter that gathering of the church such that it is impossible to gather as the church. The church is a family of faith, a body of believers, that cannot be separated and rightly be called the church.

4. Of course some have promoted alternative ways to “do church” but these are pastor-centric rather than church-centric. Sunday worship becomes a performance or TED talk where people consume what the pastor says with little to no interaction with the people (i.e., the church). These alternatives contravene the very definition of church (Gr. ekklesia) which is an assembly.

5. The church gathering is more than listening to a message or hearing Christian worship. It involves fellowship, and the communion of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11 mentions “when you come together” five times when instructions concerning the Supper are given to the church). It involves singing songs to one another (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16), and the closer we get to Christ’s return, the more we are encouraged to gather together and spur each other on (Heb 10:24–25). In fact, we are commanded not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together (Heb 10:25).

6. Having just a portion of the congregation assembled or online is akin to having an online marriage or raising children in small, divided groups—it fundamentally alters the very nature of the church. In keeping with this, our church has resisted multi-service or multi-site models as unfaithful to the meaning of the church as a united assembly or family of God.

7. There is a spiritual gift that is shared when we gather together physically. Paul writes in Romans 1:11–12, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” There is something that letter writing could not perform that required a physical presence of the gathered assembly.

8. Our church sought to honor those who were conscience-bound to follow all mandates. However, we will always welcome all, regardless of their convictions (Romans 14:1).We would never close our doors to those who came to worship the one, true God (Romans 15:7). To welcome the stranger in Christian love, is to welcome Christ himself (Matthew 25:35). Our church will welcome all and speak the truth of Christ to all who come to hear.

On Physical Distancing Requirements

The grounds for a religious exemption preventing enforcement of physical distancing at services at Fairview Baptist Church.

1. There are numerous “one another” commands in Scripture that cannot be performed if the body is missing, divided, or restricted from close contact. These include wash one another’s feet (John 13:14); love one another (John 13:34–35; 15:12, 17; Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:12); members on of another (Romans 12:5); outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10); live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16; 15:5); welcome one another (Romans 15:7); instruct one another (Romans 15:14); greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Peter 5:14); have the same care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25); comfort one another (2 Corinthians 13:11); agree with one another (2 Corinthians 13:11); serve one another (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10); bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2); bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2); speak truth with your neighbor for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25); be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32); forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32); address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19); submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21); teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 3:13); encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11); seek to do good to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:15); stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24); do not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another [to gather] (Hebrews 10:25); confess your sins to one another (James 5:16); pray for one another (James 5:16); and show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9).

2. As an elder, there is a biblical qualification for me to practice hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). This includes having church members in my home (1 Peter 4:9) and strangers are to be welcomed too (Hebrew 13:2). Forced to be derelict in my duties before God or in non-compliance with health mandates, I will always choose the latter in devotion to God and in faithfulness to my calling.

3. In the installation of elders, we “lay on hands” (1 Timothy 4:14; 5:22). This necessary physical act carries important spiritual meaning in the commissioning of leaders in the church.

4. In the Scriptures, the sick are called to summon the elders of the church to come and lay hands on them and pray over them (James 5:14). We are commanded to care for the sick, the widowed, the orphan, and those in need rather than isolate from them (James 1:27).

5. There are two ordinances commanded by our Lord, baptism and the Lord’s Supper—also known as communion or the Eucharist (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:17–34). These both require close contact in their proper administration.

6. The Lord’s supper is commanded “when you come together” (1 Corinthians 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34). As such, we celebrate this ordinance each week. It is akin to a covenant renewal like the Passover meal for the Jews where we are reminded of Christ being our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). As such, it is an important practice to celebrate together as a covenant community or family of faith.

7. Greeting one another with a holy kiss is a biblical command (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Peter 5:14) that may find different cultural expression in our day but would still involve close, familial contact, and appropriate displays of affection and union. I could not, in good conscience, undermine or neuter this command among the church to restrict handshakes, hugs, or close contact for brothers and sisters in the Lord.

8. It is wholly inappropriate for me—and beyond the mandate given to me by God—to enforce physical separation between members of the body whom God has joined together to be one. What God has joined together let no man separate (Matthew 19:6).

9. Our church sought to show grace by handling physical distancing as a matter of conscience. We sought to respect one another’s convictions on the issue rather than mandate compliance in conformity with the secular consensus. We offered seating and areas where people could congregate at a greater distance if so desired.

Canadian pastor Tim Stephens saw state tyranny up close, which included personal jail time. James Coates of Alberta, Canada, is another pastor who refused to comply with public health orders during the pandemic and spent a month in jail.

Artur Pawlowski, a Polish-Canadian pastor from Alberta, Canada, was arrested last weekend for allegedly organizing a church service that ignored COVID social distancing rules and wearing mask mandates. He warned the U.S. to watch out for what happened to him.

In an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham that aired on Friday, Pawlowski said that Canada “has no rights whatsoever.” “What we have right now is some kind of a hybrid between fascism and communism medical tyranny.”

A New Brunswick pastor, Philip James Hutchings, the pastor of His Tabernacle Family Church in Saint John, is free after spending a week in jail.

What would John Knox have done? What will modern Presbyterians do in the future?

The ultimate authority:

“We ought to obey God rather than men.” – The Apostle Peter (Acts 5:29).

Peter’s message in the book of Acts has a much broader application than most have thought.

The Covid lockdowns are just the beginning of what to expect as Western societies begin to collapse financially largely due to locking down their economies and destroying millions of jobs along with permanent damage to supply chains. In addition, the U.S. currency is losing its status as the world reserve currency as an increasing number of nations refuse to purchase or sell oil in U.S. dollars leading to an almost certain chaos. Short of a spiritual revival, the modern state will become increasingly totalitarian in its attempt to survive.   

To prepare for unbiblical state mandates, Churches should implement Pastor Tim Stephen’s Affidavit. In addition, Churches should sign onto the Frankfurt statement. Should the Church fight state tyranny without anything? The Church must be able to put into the hands of agents of the state the Biblical reasons for refusal to comply.      

The Frankfurt Statement: An excerpt:

Introduction Christians, Against the Abuse of Power:

“A few concerned pastors from different continents, moved by an emergent totalitarianism of the State over all realms of society, and particularly the Church, and the disregard of God- given and constitutionally guaranteed rights during the Covid crisis, joined in common cause to craft a solemn declaration, which seeks to address these threats with the timeless truths of God’s Word. The following affirmations and denials, derived from biblical principles, we put forth for consideration by all Christians and relevant authorities, in the hope that this document will give light and strength for faithful witness to Jesus Christ in our day.”

2 Sam. 12:1-14; Acts 4:24-29; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-14

Conclusion Call for Respect, Repentance, & Resistance:

“We commend and express our gratitude to those civil authorities who respect the essential nature of these Christian beliefs and practices and who have a high regard for individual and religious freedoms. To those civil authorities who have disregarded these freedoms, we call on you to repent and to become again the protectors of liberty and of the rights that God has given to all men, lest in the abuse of your God-given authority, you become liable to God’s wrath. To those who desire to compel us to obey the secular State rather than God, we respectfully, but firmly say (like the three Hebrews who refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue), “We have no need to answer you in this matter. The God we serve is able to save us from you, and He will rescue us from your hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the idols you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18) …” Sam. 12:1-14; Dan. 5:22-23; Matt. 24:12-13; 1 Cor. 16:13-14; Eph. 5:10-13

In closing, a must-read:

Naomi Wolf, former consultant to President Clinton, has written about what, without a doubt, is the gold standard work on Covid and the forced experimental vaccination push by the fed gov along with its naïve but willing collaborators from the private sector. The book is titled “The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and The War Against the Human.” The book is endorsed by Tucker Carlson, Dr. Paul Alexander, Steve Bannon, and Eric Metaxas.

A review of this book will happen in a future work. Nevertheless, a few words are in order. Dr. Wolf shows how fragile the institutions of Western liberty are and is frightening. Without barely a peep, the nations of the Western world surrendered to un-elected bureaucrats who jumped into action, implanting virtually straight out of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) playbook on locking down a society, literally putting out of business hundreds of thousands of businesses and ruining countless lives. It should be duly noted that Communism is anti-Christ.  Karl Marx wanted to “dethrone God, and an influential disciple of Marx’s, Saul Alinsky dedicated his book, Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer!

In addition, the forced experimental so-called vaccines are causing the deaths and injuries of millions around the world. The dam of censorship is starting to break in, which will be seen that the covid vaccines are bio-weapons designed to cause the collapse and depopulation of whole societies. In the future, it will be reported that this is one of the worst crimes against humanity ever recorded. For the naysayers:

One of the book’s endorsers writes:

“Naomi Wolf’s courage is a gift to us all. Her work in this brilliant book is groundbreaking and inescapably important for anyone who cares about freedom and human dignity.” – Eric Metaxas, #1 New York Times bestselling author and the host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas radio show, and is the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Is Atheism Dead, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, and many other titles

Another endorser writes:

“Naomi Wolf is one of the bravest, clearest-thinking people I know. The reason you hear the forces of repression so desperately trying to dismiss her is because she is right.” – Tucker Carlson.                

Something that may have been missed in the news:

Florida Surgeon General Issues Warning For mRNA Coronavirus Vaccines: ‘FL Will Not Be Silent on The Truth’ By Ryan Saavedra:


“Florida Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD., said in a statement Friday afternoon that the state now recommends against giving men ages 18 to 39 mRNA coronavirus vaccines, citing a heightened risk of cardiac-related death.

The statement from Ladapo comes at the conclusion of an analysis conducted by the Florida Department of Health that was carried out using a self-controlled case series, a technique used to evaluate vaccine safety, the state said.”

Pastor Stephen’s Affidavit on COVID Mandates should be replicated and circulated among the Churches of God along with the Frankfurt Confession.

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


1.      Eric Metaxas, Introduction, Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 11). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

2.      Eric Metaxas, Introduction, Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 29). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

3.      Eric Metaxas, Introduction, Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 31). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

4.      John Calvin, Commentary on Daniel, Lecture XXX Daniel 6:22, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p. 382.

5.      John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics, XX-XXI, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), (IV. xx. 32).

6.      Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince 1564) (Harrisonburg. VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1982), p. 33.

7.      Junius Brutus, A Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, (Still Waters Revival Books, Edmonton AB. Canada), p. 134.

8.      Peter Force, ed., “Extract of a Letter to a Gentleman in London, from New York, May 31, 1774” American Archives, Fourth Series, Vol. 1, 301.

9.      Kevin Phillips, The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics and the Triumph of Anglo-America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 92, 177.

10.  Capt. Johann Heinrichs to the Counsellor of the Court, January 18, 1778: “Extracts from the Letter Book of Captain Johann Heinrichs of the Hessian Jager Corps, 1778-1780,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 22 (1898), 137.

11.  A Statement from John MacArthur and the Elders of Grace Community Church, July 24, 2020

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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In Matthew 16:18, is Peter the rock that Christ will build His Church?

In Matthew 16:18, is Peter the rock that Christ will build His Church?        By Jack Kettler

In this study, in Matthew 16:18, was Jesus saying that Peter was the rock that He would build His Church?

“And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

From Strong’s Lexicon:


Πέτρος (Petros)

Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 4074: Peter, a Greek name meaning rock. Apparently, a primary word; a rock; as a name, Petrus, an apostle.”


πέτρᾳ (petra)

Noun – Dative Feminine Singular

Strong’s Greek 4073: A rock, ledge, cliff, cave, stony ground. Feminine of the same as Petros; a rock.”

Commentary evidence:

Starting with the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

“18. Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church] Cp. Isaiah 28:16, from which passage probably the expression is drawn. There is a play on the words “Peter” and “rock” which is lost in the E. V. It may be seen in a French rendering, “Tu es Pierre et sur cette pierre je bâtirai mon Eglise.” (underlining emphasis mine)”

“On these words mainly rest the enormous pretensions of the Roman pontiff. It is therefore important (1) To remember that it is to Peter with the great confession on his lips that the words are spoken. The Godhead of Christ is the keystone of the Church, and Peter is for the moment the representative of the belief in that truth among men. (2) To take the words in reference: (a) to other passages of Scripture. The Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Ephesians 2:20, on Christ Himself, 2 Corinthians 3:11. (b) To history; Peter is not an infallible repository of truth. He is rebuked by Paul for Judaizing. Nor does he hold a chief place among the Apostles afterwards. It is James, not Peter, who presides at the Council at Jerusalem. (c) To reason: for even if Peter had precedence over the other Apostles, and if he was Bishop of Rome, which is not historically certain, there is no proof that he had a right of conferring such precedence on his successors.”

“my Church] The word ecclesia (Church) occurs twice in Matthew and not elsewhere in the Gospels. See note ch. Matthew 18:17 where the Jewish ecclesia is meant. From the analogy of the corresponding Hebrew word, ecclesia in a Christian sense may be defined as the congregation of the faithful throughout the world, united under Christ as their Head. The use of the word by Christ implied at least two things: (1) that He was founding an organized society, not merely preaching a doctrine: (2) That the Jewish ecclesia was the point of departure for the Christian ecclesia and in part its prototype. It is one among many links in this gospel between Jewish and Christian thought. The Greek word (ἐκκλησία) has passed into the language of the Latin nations; église (French), chiesa (Italian), iglesia (Spanish). The derivation of the Teutonic Church is very doubtful. That usually given—Kuriakon (the Lord’s house)—is abandoned by many scholars. The word is probably from a Teutonic root and may have been connected with heathen usages. See Bib. Dict. Art. Church.”

“the gates of hell] Lit. “the gates of Hades.” The Greek Hades is the same as the Hebrew Sheol, the abode of departed spirits, in which were two divisions Gehenna and Paradise. “The gates of Hades” are generally interpreted to mean the power of the unseen world, especially the power of death: cp. Revelation 1:18, “the keys of hell (Hades) and of death.”

“shall not prevail against it] The gates of Hades prevail over all things human, but the Church shall never die.” (1)

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says:

“18. And I say also unto thee—that is, “As thou hast borne such testimony to Me, even so in return do I to thee.”

“That thou art Peter—At his first calling, this new name was announced to him as an honor afterwards to be conferred on him (Joh 1:43). Now he gets it, with an explanation of what it was meant to convey.”

“and upon this rock—As “Peter” and “Rock” are one word in the dialect familiarly spoken by our Lord—the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic, which was the mother tongue of the country—this exalted play upon the word can be fully seen only in languages which have one word for both. Even in the Greek it is imperfectly represented. In French, as Webster and Wilkinson remark, it is perfect, Pierre—pierre.”

“I will build my Church—not on the man Simon Bar-jona; but on him as the heavenly-taught confessor of a faith. “My Church,” says our Lord, calling the Church His Own; a magnificent expression regarding Himself, remarks Bengel—nowhere else occurring in the Gospels.”

“and the gates of hell — “of Hades,” or, the unseen world; meaning, the gates of Death: in other words, “It shall never perish.” Some explain it of “the assaults of the powers of darkness”; but though that expresses a glorious truth, probably the former is the sense here.” (2)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary adds:

“And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter: Christ gave him this name, John 1:42, when his brother Andrew first brought him to Christ. I did not give thee the name of Cephas, or Peter, for nothing, (for what Cephas signifieth in the Syriac Peter signifieth in the Greek), I called thee Cephas and thou art Peter, a rock. Thou shalt be a rock. This our Lord made good afterward, when he told him, that Satan had desired to winnow him like wheat, but he had prayed that his faith might not fail, Luke 22:32. Thou hast made a confession of faith which is a rock, even such a rock as was mentioned Matthew 7:25. And thou thyself art a rock, a steady, firm believer.”

“And upon this rock I will build my church. Here is a question amongst interpreters, what, or whom, our Saviour here meaneth by this rock.”

“1. Some think that he meaneth himself, as he saith, John 2:19, Destroy this temple (meaning his own body). God is often called a Rock, Deu 32:18 Psalm 18:2 Psalm 31:3, and it is certain Christ is the foundation of the church, Isaiah 28:16 1 Corinthians 3:11 1 Peter 2:6. But this sense seemeth a little hard, that our Saviour, speaking to Peter, and telling him he was a stone, or a rock, should with the same breath pass to himself, and not say, Upon myself, but upon this rock I will build my church.”

“2. The generality of protestant writers, not without the suffrage of divers of the ancients, say Peter’s confession, which he had made, is the rock here spoken of. And indeed, the doctrine contained in his confession is the foundation of the gospel; the whole Christian church is built upon it.”

“3. Others think, in regard that our Saviour directeth his speech not to all the apostles, but to Peter, and doth not say, Blessed are you, but, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, that here is something promised to Peter in special; but they do not think this is any priority, much less any jurisdiction, more than the rest had, but that Christ would make a more eminent and special use of him, in the building of his church, than of the rest; and they observe, that God did make a more eminent use of Peter in raising his gospel church, both amongst the Jews, Acts 2:1-47, and the Gentiles, Acts 10:1-48. But yet this soundeth a little harshly, to interpret upon this rock, by this rock. I do therefore rather incline to interpret it in the second sense:”

“Upon this rock, upon this solid and unmovable foundation of truth, which thou hast publicly made, I will build my church. It is true, Christ is the foundation of the church, and other foundation can no man lay. But though Christ be the foundation in one sense, the apostles are so called in another sense, Ephesians 2:20 Revelation 21:14 not the apostles’ persons, but the doctrine which they preached. They, by their doctrine which they preached, (the sum or great point of which was what Peter here professed), laid the foundation of the Christian church, as they were the first preachers of it to the Gentiles. In which sense soever it be taken, it makes nothing for the papists’ superiority or jurisdiction of St. Peter, or his successors. It follows, I will build my church. By church is here plainly meant the whole body of believers, who all agree in this one faith. It is observable, that Christ calls it his church, not Peter’s, and saith, I will build, not, thou shalt build. The working of faith in souls is God’s work. Men are but ministers, by whom others believe. They have but a ministry towards, not a lordship over the church of God.” (3)

In closing:

Matthew 16:18: The Petros-petra Wordplay—Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew? By David N. Bivin:

“The pinnacle of the gospel drama may be Jesus’ dramatic statement, “You are Petros and on this petra I will build my church.” The saying seems to contain an obvious Greek wordplay, perhaps indicating that Jesus spoke in Greek. However, it is possible that “Petros…petra” is a Hebrew wordplay.” (4)

John Piper’s comments are helpful:

“Jesus does not say, “You are Petros, and on this petros I will build my church.” He says, “You are Petros, and on this petra I will build my church.” Petra has a different connotation than petros — it’s not a loose stone; it’s bedrock stone. Here’s what I mean: In Matthew 27:60, where it says that Jesus’s tomb was cut out of the petra, the bedrock, that doesn’t mean it was cut out of a loose stone — like, here’s a stone, it maybe weighs ten pounds, it’s found on the side of the road, and he cut a grave in that stone. Well, that doesn’t work.”

“What he means is the side of this mountain is stone. This is a massive bedrock where you’d build something, and so you carve into this bedrock. That’s the connotation of petra. It’s not a loose stone like petros. Petra is bedrock. The same word is used in Matthew 7:24: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock [petra]” — not a pile of stones, not gravel, but the bedrock ground in the side of the mountain that you dig down into till you’ve got a good foundation. The bedrock is solid and permanent; it’s the teachings of Jesus, which he says can never pass away.” (5)

Why did Jesus respond to Peter the way that He did? 

It is Biblical and logical to conclude that Jesus responded to Peter’s confession of faith. 

So, when Jesus said, “I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build My Church,” He distinguished between Peter and the “rock” using two different Greek words. The name Peter is petros, but the word for “rock” is petra. It is significant to note who is going to build the Church. Jesus said, “I will build My Church. Why would Jesus build His Church on a mortal man?

To rephrase Jesus’ words, Peter was told, “I say to you that you are a stone, and upon this rock I will build My church.” Jesus used a word play with petra, “on this rock,” to make a point. Jesus does not say, “you are petra, and on this petra I will build.” Instead, Jesus says, “you are petros (a stone), and on this petra (bedrock) that Jesus will build His Church.”

According to Walter Bauer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature:

πέτρα (petra) is “bedrock or massive rock formations.” (6)

The rock spoken of is the foundation or bedrock that Christ will build His Church, not a moral man.

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”  (Isaiah 28:16)

“Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” (1 Peter 2:6)

Strong’s Lexicon:

“a stone,

λίθον (lithon)

Noun – Accusative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3037: A stone; met: of Jesus as the chief stone in a building. Apparently, a primary word; a stone.”

Peter is petros,not λίθον.

Therefore, as Isaiah says and Peter quotes, the rock is not Peter; but is none other than Jesus Christ the Lord.

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:20)

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


1.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, by A. & J. J. S. Perowne Carr, Matthew, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

2.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 931.

3.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Matthew, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 75-76.

4.      David N. Bivin, “Hebraisms in the New Testament,” Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (4 vols.; ed. Geoffrey Khan; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 198-201, and the JP version, “Hebraisms in the New Testament.”

5.      Interview with John Piper, on Matthew16:15–19 https://www.

6.      Walter Bauer, William Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press), p. 654.Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit after being born again?

Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit after being born again?               By Jack Kettler

In this study, the second work of grace doctrine will be considered. Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit the same as being born again? If not, what is it? What could be lacking if Christ lived in believers’ hearts via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  

The second blessing doctrine is generally understood in two ways. One refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and another is Wesleyan in origin, having to do with sanctification unto sinless perfection. The present study will focus on the so-called baptism of the Holy Spirit after being born again by the regenerating power of Christ living in the believer’s heart via the Holy Spirit.

“Born again, or to experience the new birth, is a phrase, particularly in evangelicalism, that refers to a “spiritual rebirth,” or a regeneration of the human spirit. In contrast to one’s physical birth, being “born again” is distinctly and separately caused by baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is not caused by baptism in water.” – Wikipedia

The above definition is at odds with the advocates of the supposed secondary baptism of the Holy Spirit event recorded at the Day of Pentecost event in the book of Acts 2:1-4, which is allegedly seen as an additional work of the Spirit empowering believers in a new way to the adherents of the second work of grace doctrine.  

The originating promise of the coming of the Spirit:

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

This future prediction by John the Baptist speaking of conversion or an alleged secondary work of the Holy Spirit? 

Matthew Poole’s Commentary explains the Matthew 3:11 text:

“I am not the Christ, Mark 1:8 Luke 3:15,16 Joh 1:15,26, I am but the messenger and forerunner of Christ, sent before him to baptize men with the baptism of water, in testimony of their repentance; but there is one immediately coming after me, who is infinitely to be preferred before me, so much, that I am not worthy to carry his shoes, or unloose his shoe latchet. He shall baptize men with another kind of baptism, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire.

With the Holy Ghost, inwardly washing away their sins with his blood, and sanctifying their hearts: The Holy Ghost working in their hearts like fire, purging out their lusts and corruptions, warming and inflaming their hearts with the sense of his love, and kindling in them all spiritual habits. Or, with the Holy Ghost, as in the days of Pentecost, there appearing to them cloven tongues like as of fire, as Acts 2:3: thus, the term fire is made exegetical of the term the Holy Ghost. Or, with the Holy Ghost, and with fire; changing and renewing the hearts of those that believe in him, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and consuming and destroying others, that will not believe, as with fire.” (1) (underlining emphasis mine)

Poole understands Matthew regarding the baptism of the Spirit as the act of regeneration in the hearts of believers.

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:5)

What is this coming baptism referring to?

Again, from Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Acts 1:5

“For John truly baptized with water, Matthew 3:11; water being of a purifying nature, plentiful, and easy to come by.

But ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; his gifts and graces, which were (as water on baptized persons) largely bestowed upon them on the day of Pentecost:

1. That the apostles and all others might be assured of the doctrine of the Gospel.

2. That they might be enabled to fulfil their ministry, and obey our Saviour’s commands left with them. Not many days hence; it was but ten days after his ascension; but our Saviour would not prefix a certain day, that they might watch every day.” (2)

Moreover, as Poole notes in the above two citations, there is no indication that the baptism of the Spirit being anything other than conversion.

Now consider the historical narrative in Acts 2:1-4:

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

The book of Acts is a historical, descriptive narrative. However, it is a hermeneutical mistake to conclude that a descriptive narrative is normative or prescriptive. Just because God did certain things at the beginning of the Christian Church in no way necessitates that these special events are normative or prescriptive.

For example:

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” (Acts 4:32)    

The above passage indicates that the disciples in Jerusalem were practicing some communal or shared living arrangement. The shared arrangement was in preparation for the saints to flee as the Roman armies approached Jerusalem to destroy it in 70AD, and surely not to be practiced throughout Church history as a normative or prescriptive model.

With that said, consider the following points of interest:

·         The Spirit baptism happened to a group

·         There was the sound of a mighty rushing wind

·         Tongues like fire appeared on each of them

·         They were all filled with the Holy Spirit

·         They began to speak in tongues (glossa) foreign languages

The above pattern is unique to the 1st Century Church. Today, advocates of the secondary Spirit baptism movement cannot point to this baptism happening in modern times to groups, along with the accompanying sound of a mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire appearing on each of them, and all speaking in foreign languages that are recognizable, not non-understandable gibberish that is usually passed off as the language of angels.

As an aside, when angels spoke to individuals in Scripture, they spoke in human language, Hebrew or Greek. Furthermore, the point of 1 Corinthians 13:1 is that to speak in a tongue (glossa human language) of men or angels, which no one can understand, is not an act of love. To say that angelic language is not understandable language is not Paul’s point and is a case of special pleading to advance a doctrine read into Scripture rather exegeted from it.       

The disciples were moved by God’s common grace until this point in Acts. Then, with the baptism of the Spirit, i.e., conversion, the disciples had Christ in their hearts thru the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  

The example of the Gentiles:

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,” (Acts 10:44-46)

Noteworthy is the fact that this baptism conversion event happened to a group. Because of this, it can be concluded that Acts 2:1-4 and Acts 10:46 are unique to the 1st Century and foundational at the beginning of the Church. Said another way, these examples of Spirit baptism, i.e., conversion in the book of Acts, are not normative or prescriptive.

As Peter records, this is a salvation event and is proved by:

“Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” (Acts 10:47-48)

After conversion, in the case of adults, water baptism is to follow.

In closing:

In looking at the two selections above from the book of Acts in chapters two and ten, it can be concluded that Spirit baptism is a conversion or regeneration event, not a second work of grace. If it were, then conversion is not sufficient and is lacking in giving the believer power to live for Christ. The second work of grace doctrine in whatever form it takes, sinless perfectionism as in Wesleyan sanctification or a secondary Holy Spirit event as in charismatic circles, diminishes Christ living in the hearts of believers by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

If we are in Christ, the believer is complete in Him and not in need of some extraordinary secondary work. The tongues of fire at Pentecost and the Gentiles baptized in the Spirit before water baptism is best explained by the fact that they were inaugural events at the beginning of the New Covenant.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

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


1.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Matthew, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p.15.

2.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Acts, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p.385.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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How is John 15:2 to be understood?

How is John 15:2 to be understood?                                          By Jack Kettler

In this study, what does “He takes away” mean? Is John speaking of a believer or someone who claims to be a Christian?

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; [airei] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  (John 15:2)

An introduction to two differing interpretations:

At a recent service, this writer heard a view of John 15:2, never encountered before. Upon some research, others were found that had similar views as the pastor listed below.

Joe Smith Ordination Service Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church in Colorado

8/12/2022 (FRIDAY) Bible: John 15:1-8

ID 81322311345427

Pastor David Hanson

Hanson notes that airei “takes way” can be translated “to raise, lift up.” If so, the meaning of John 15:2 would change dramatically.

Consider Strong’s Lexicon:

He cuts off

αἴρει (airei)

Verb – Present Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 142: To raise, lift up, take away, remove.

Others who support this interpretation:

In the following citation, Joseph C. Dillow translates or interprets airei as “lifts up” in John 15:2. The apostle John uses this translation on more than one occasion. The same term is used with the sense of lifting, and not in a judgmental way. Dillow argues that the text in John deals with fellowship, which can be broken, and not salvation, which cannot. Similarly, Pastor J. O. Hosler argues for the same interpretation.

Abiding Is Remaining in Fellowship: Another Look at John 15:1-6 by Joseph C. Dillow:


“The beautiful and profound analogy of the vine and the branches in John 15:1–6 has encouraged believers throughout the centuries. It has also become, unfortunately, a controversial passage regarding the eternal security of the saints.

Three approaches have been taken to the passage. Some say the person who “does not bear fruit” (John 15:2a) cannot be a Christian because all true Christians bear fruit. Others say the branches “in Me” that are taken away refer to Christians who lose their salvation. In this view when a believer stops producing fruit, he forfeits justification. Others say John 15:2a and 6 refer to Christians who do not produce fruit and who will therefore experience divine judgment in time and loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ.

The Meaning of “Every Branch in Me”

Most evangelicals agree that the branches that “bear fruit” and are pruned to bear more fruit (15:2b) are true believers. But what about the branches “in Me” (i.e., in Christ) that do not bear fruit? Some say that those who do not bear fruit are not true Christians. They claim they are saved but are not. Smith argued that “in Me” refers to people being in the kingdom in only a general sense. He notes that the future millennium and the present form of the kingdom include a mixture of true and false believers.1 As Ryle put it, “It

3. Airei Means “Lift up,” not “Remove”

Dillow identifies R. K. Harrison’s interpretation of airei as “lifts up”

in v 2 and notes that in at least 8 out of its 24 occurrences in John it is

used in that sense. 40 He then responds to Laney by noting that Harrison

reported how fallen vines in Palestine “were lifted ‘with meticulous care’

and allowed to heal.” 41 Further, in a footnote Dillow remarks that                                                  Harrison states that airei has airo„ (“to lift”) as its root rather than aireo„ (“to

catch, take away”). 42 Dillow then points to his own personal observation

of vinicultural care, 43 concluding that if “lift up” is the meaning, “then a

fruitless branch is lifted up to put it into a position of fruit-bearing.” He

adds that this interpretation does not contradict v 6, but that it rather Viticulture

and John 15:1-6 suggests “that the heavenly Vinedresser first encourages the branches

and lifts them in the sense of providing loving care to enable them to

bear fruit. If after this encouragement, they do not remain in fellowship

with Him and bear fruit, they are then cast out.”44 This casting out is

from fellowship, not salvation.” (1)

Do Fruitless Branches Go to Hell? The Vine and The Branches: What It Means to Abide In Christ by Pastor J. O. Hosler:


“a. They are lifted up and encouraged: R.K. Harrison points out that the

word translated “takes away” (airo) is best rendered “lifts up.”

i. It is used this way in at least 8 of its 24 occurrences in the

Gospel of John (5:8-12; 8:59; 10:18, 24).

ii. R. K. Harrison says that fallen vines were lifted “with

meticulous care” and allowed to heal. If that is the meaning,

then a fruitless branch is lifted up to put it into a position of


iii. This does not contradict verse 6, which states that the branch

that does not abide is “thrown away,” literally “cast out”.

iv. This would suggest that the heavenly Vinedresser first

encourages the branches and lifts them in the sense of

providing loving care to enable them to bear fruit.” (2)

The advantage of translating John 15:2 this way is that it would agree with the following:

“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he finds it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18: 10–14)

The above translation of the Greek word and new interpretation fits nicely with God’s benevolence and care for His people.

If this interpretation is correct, why have people not heard of it?

A contrary or traditional approach to John 15:2 is from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

“Every branch in me – Everyone that is a true follower of me, that is united to me by faith, and that truly derives grace and strength from me, as the branch does from the vine. The word “branch” includes all the boughs, and the smallest tendrils that shoot out from the parent stalk. Jesus here says that he sustains the same relation to his disciples that a parent stalk does to the branches; but this does not denote any physical or incomprehensible union. It is a union formed by believing on him; resulting from our feeling our dependence on him and our need of him; from embracing him as our Saviour, Redeemer, and Friend. We become united to him in all our interests, and have common feelings, common desires, and a common destiny with him. We seek the same objects, are willing to encounter the same trials, contempt, persecution, and want, and are desirous that his God shall be ours, and his eternal abode ours. It is a union of friendship, of love, and of dependence; a union of weakness with strength; of imperfection with perfection; of a dying nature with a living Saviour; of a lost sinner with an unchanging Friend and Redeemer. It is the most tender and interesting of all relations, but not more mysterious or more physical than the union of parent and child, of husband and wife Ephesians 5:23, or friend and friend.”

“That beareth not fruit – As the vinedresser will remove all branches that are dead or that bear no fruit, so will God take from his church all professed Christians who give no evidence by their lives that they are truly united to the Lord Jesus. He here refers to such cases as that of Judas, the apostatizing disciples, and all false and merely nominal Christians (Dr. Adam Clarke).”

“He taketh away – The vine-dresser cuts it off. God removes such in various ways:

1. by the discipline of the church.

2. by suffering them to fall into temptation.

3. by persecution and tribulation, by the deceitfulness of riches, and by the cares of the world Matthew 13:21-22; by suffering the man to be placed in such circumstances as Judas, Achan, and Ananias were such as to show what they were, to bring their characters fairly out, and to let it be seen that they had no true love to God.”

4. by death, for God has power thus at any moment to remove unprofitable branches from the church.

“Every branch that beareth fruit – That is, all true Christians, for all such bear fruit. To bear fruit is to show by our lives that we are under the influence of the religion of Christ, and that that religion produces in us its appropriate effects, Galatians 5:22-23. Notes, Matthew 7:16-20. It is also to live so as to be useful to others, as a vineyard is worthless unless it bears fruit that may promote the happiness or subsistence of man, so the Christian principle would be worthless unless Christians should live so that others may be made holy and happy by their example and labors, and so that the world may be brought to the cross of the Saviour.”

“He purgeth it – Or rather he prunes it, or cleanses it by pruning. There is a use of words here – a paronomasia – in the original which cannot be retained in the translation. It may be imperfectly seen by retaining the Greek words “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away αἴρει airei; every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it καθαίρει kathairei; now ye are clean καθαροί katharoi,” etc. The same Greek word in different forms is still retained. God purifies all true Christians so that they may be more useful. He takes away that which hindered their usefulness; teaches them; quickens them; revives them; makes them purer in motive and in life. This he does by the regular influences of his Spirit in sanctifying them, purifying their motives, teaching them the beauty of holiness, and inducing them to devote themselves more to him. He does it by taking away what opposes their usefulness, however much they may be attached to it, or however painful to part with it; as a vine-dresser will often feel himself compelled to lop off a branch that is large, apparently thrifty, and handsome, but which bears no fruit, and which shades or injures those which do. So, God often takes away the property of his people, their children, or other idols. He removes the objects which bind their affections, and which render them inactive. He takes away the things around man, as he did the valued gourds of Jonah Jon 4:5-11, so that he may feel his dependence, and live more to the honor of God, and bring forth more proof of humble and active piety.” (3)

John 15:6 provides important context that cannot be ignored that supports the traditional interpretation:

“If a man abides not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6)

John 15:6 seems to support the idea that verse two is not talking about fellowship but the salvation of someone who claims to be a Christian but is not.

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


1.      “Abiding is Remaining in Fellowship: Another Look at John 15:1-6,” Joseph C. Dillow, Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (Jan-Mar 1990): 44-53.

2.      Napier Parkview Baptist Church Bible Studies Page Pastor J. O. Hosler, Th.D.


4.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, John, Vol. 1 p. 1303.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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What does take a balm in Gilead mean?

What does take a balm in Gilead mean?                                          By Jack Kettler

In this study, taking the “balm” of Gilead will be considered.  

“Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.” (Jeremiah 46:11)

Many have heard the old Negro spiritual, “There Is A Balm in Gilead.” So, it is noteworthy that a seemingly obscure passage in Jeremiah became the basis for a song.

It is recorded in Genesis about “balm” and Gilead:

“And as they sat down to eat a meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying spices, balm, and myrrh on their way down to Egypt.” (Genesis 37:25)

As seen in Genesis, balm was an item of trade. Arabia was the source of balm.

From the Strong’s Lexicon, it is learned:


צֳרִ֔י (ṣo·rî)

Noun – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 6875: 1) a kind of balsam, balm, salve 1a) as merchandise 1b) as medicine”

From Strong’s, it appears that “balm” is a salve used as medicine. Balm, or balsam, was a topical mixture for wounds, as seen in Jeremiah 8:22.

From the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, it is learned:

“11. balm] See Jeremiah 8:22, and Jeremiah 30:13.

Egyptian knowledge of medicine is celebrated by Homer (Od. 4:229). Cyrus and Darius were both sent to Egypt as medical men (Herod. III. 1, 132); cp. Pliny XIX. 5.” (1)

Who is the “Virgin daughter of Egypt?”

Regarding this question, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says:

“11. Gilead … balm — (See on [972] Jer 8:22); namely, for curing the wounds; but no medicine will avail, so desperate shall be the slaughter.

virgin—Egypt is so called on account of her effeminate luxury, and as having never yet been brought under foreign yoke.

thou shalt not be cured—literally, “there shall be no cure for thee” (Jer 30:13; Eze 30:21). Not that the kingdom of Egypt should cease to exist, but it should not recover its former strength; the blow should be irretrievable.” (2)

Jeremiah is giving a prophecy against Egypt in verse 11. So also, “balm” would not be a comfort in the coming judgment.

The reader can see this from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:

“(11) Go up into Gilead, and take balm . . .—The words have the tone of a triumphant irony. The “balm of Gilead” was looked on as a cure for all wounds (Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 51:8), but the wounds which Egypt received at Carchemish would be found incurable. It proved, in fact, to be a blow from which the old Egyptian monarchy never recovered. In the “virgin, the daughter of Egypt”—virgin, as being till then, as it boasted, unconquered (Isaiah 23:12)—we have a like touch of sarcasm. The report of the defeat and the utter rout and confused flight that followed (Jeremiah 46:12) would spread far and wide among the nations.” (3)

Now, a summary of “balm” from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:


bam (tseritsori; Septuagint rhetine):

The name of an odoriferous resin said to be brought from Gilead by Ishmaelite Arabs on their way to Egypt (Genesis 37:25). It is translated “balm” in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), but is called “mastic,” the Revised Version, margin. In Genesis 43:11 it is one of the gifts sent by Jacob to Joseph, and in Ezekiel 27:17 it is named as one of the exports from Judea to Tyre. The prophet Jeremiah refers figuratively to its medicinal properties as an application to wounds and as a sedative (Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11; 51:8). The name is derived from a root signifying “to leak,” and is applied to it as being an exudation. There is a sticky, honeylike gum resin prepared at the present day at Jericho, extracted from the Balanites Aegyptiaca grown in the Ghor, and sold to travelers in small tin boxes as “Balm of Gilead,” but it is improbable that this is the real tscori and it has no medicinal value. The material to which the classic authors applied the name is that known as Mecca balsam, which is still imported into Egypt from Arabia, as it was in early times. This is the exudation from the Balsamodendron opobalsamum, a native of southern Arabia and Abyssinia. The tree is small, ragged-looking and with a yellowish bark like that of a plane tree, and the exudation is said to be gathered from its smaller branches. At the present day it grows nowhere in Palestine. Dr. Post and other botanists have sought for it on the Ghor and in Gilead, and have not found it, and there is no trace of it in the neighborhood of Jericho, which Pliny says is its only habitat. Strabo describes it as growing by the Sea of Galilee, as well as at Jericho, but both these and other ancient writers give inconsistent and incorrect descriptions of the tree evidently at second hand. We learn from Theophrastus that many of the spices of the farther East reached the Mediterranean shore through Palestine, being brought by Arab caravans which would traverse the indefinitely bounded tract East of Jordan to which the name Gilead is given, and it was probably thus that the balm received its local name. Mecca balsam is an orange-yellow, treacly fluid, mildly irritating to the skin, possibly a weak local stimulant and antiseptic, but of very little remedial value.” – Alex. Macalister (4)

In closing:

Jesus is the “balm of Gilead” for sinners. When J. C. Philpot preached on Jeremiah, he explained that God’s grace is always greater than our sin:

 “There is more in the balm to heal than there is in guilt to wound; for there is more in grace to save than there is in sin to destroy.” – J.C. Philpot (5)

Thus, it can be said that the Balm of Gilead is a symbol of Christ’s healing power in the life of a believer.

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


1.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, by A. W. Streane, Jeremiah, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

2.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 649.

3.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Jeremiah, Vol. 5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 147.

4.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘BALM,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 381.

5.      J. C. Philpot, Preached on “Balm of Gilead” Tuesday Evening, 27th July 1852, at Eden Street Chapel, Hampstead Road.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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How did a Pharisee baptize a couch or table in Mark 7:4?

How did a Pharisee baptize a couch or table in Mark 7:4?               By Jack Kettler

In this study, the application of washings or baptisms will be considered.  

“And, coming from the market-place, if they [Pharisees] do not baptize themselves, they do not eat; and many other things there are that they received to hold, baptisms of cups, and pots, and brazen vessels, and couches.” (Mark 7:4 Young’s Literal Translation)

In a previous study, the readers learned that the Greek βαπτίζω‎ could be translated as “dip, plunge, dyed, bathed, wetted or immersed” in Scripture. Regarding the Mark 7:4 text, is it even reasonable to believe the Pharisees baptized themselves or an eating couch by immersion?  

James W. Dale and others write: 

“37. James W. Dale argues in his monumental four-volume work on baptism (Classic Baptism Judaic Baptism, Johannic Baptism, and Christic and Patristic Baptism) that baptizo, does not mean “to dip” (that is, “to put into [and to remove from]”) but rather “to put together so as to remain together,” with its import “in nowise governed by, or dependent upon, any form of act” (Classic Baptism [1867; reprint, Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989], 126). He shows that the word in classical Greek means a variety of things, including to plunge, to drown, to steep, to bewilder, to dip, to tinge, to pour, to sprinkle, and to dye! He concludes by saying:

Baptism is a myriad-sided word, adjusting itself to the most diverse cases. Agamemnon was baptized; Bacchus was baptized; Cupid was baptized; Cleinias was baptized; Alexander was baptized; Panthia was baptized; Otho was baptized; Charicles was baptized; and a host of others were baptized, each differing from the other in the nature or the mode of their baptism, or both.

A blind man could more readily select any demanded color from the spectrum, or a child could more readily thread the Cretan labyrinth, than could “the seven wise men of Greece” declare the nature, or mode, of any given baptism by the naked help of baptizo. (353–54)

Therefore, Jay Adams in his foreword to Dale’s Classic Baptism rightly declares that “water baptism is an appropriate ‘uniting ordinance’ that permanently introduces Christians to the visible Church, just as Spirit baptism permanently unites Christians with the invisible Church.

While it may sometimes mean “to dip,” there are several New Testament contexts where it must mean simply “to wash,” with no specific mode of washing indicated. For example, ebaptisthe, hardly means “was immersed” in Luke 11:38, where we are informed that a certain Pharisee, “noticing that Jesus did not first wash [literally “was not baptized”] before the meal, was surprised.” Surely this Pharisee did not expect Jesus (note that Jesus the person is the subject of the verbal action and not simply Jesus’ hands) to be immersed in water before every meal! Surely his surprise was provoked by Jesus not ritually washing his hands before eating, in keeping with the ceremony referred to in Matthew 15:2 and Mark 7:3-4, most probably by having water poured over them (see the practice alluded to in 2 Kgs. 3:11 and Luke 7:44).

Speaking of Mark 7:3-4, in verse 4 we read: ‘And [when they come] from the marketplace, except they ceremonially wash [baptisontai, literally ‘baptize themselves’] they do not eat.” Surely again, baptisontai, cannot mean that “the Pharisees and all the Jews” immersed themselves every time they returned home from the market.” (1)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

“Market – This word means either the place where provisions were sold, or the place where men were convened for any purpose. Here it probably means the former.

Except they wash – In the original, “Except they baptize.” In this place it does not mean to immerse the whole body, but only the hands. There is no evidence that the Jews washed their “whole bodies” every time they came from market. It is probable that they often washed with the use of a very small quantity of water.

The washing of cups – In the Greek, “the baptism of cups.”

Cups – drinking vessels. Those used at their meals.

Pots – Measures of “liquids.” Vessels made of wood, used to hold wine, vinegar, etc.

brazen vessels – Vessels made of brass, used in cooking or otherwise. These, if much polluted, were commonly passed through the fire: if slightly polluted they were washed. Earthen vessels, if defiled, were usually broken.

Tables – This word means, in the original, “beds or couches.” It refers not to the “tables” on which they ate, but to the “couches” on which they reclined at their meals. See the notes at Matthew 23:6. These were supposed to be defiled when any unclean or polluted person had reclined on them, and they deemed it necessary to purify them with water. The word “baptism” is here used – in the original, “the baptism of tables;” but, since it cannot be supposed that “couches” were entirely “immersed” in water, the word “baptism” here must denote some other application of water, by sprinkling or otherwise, and shows that the term is used in the sense of washing in any way. If the word is used here, as is clear it is, to denote anything except entire immersion, it may be elsewhere, and baptism is lawfully performed, therefore, without immersing the whole body in water.” (2) (Underlining and bolding emphasis mine)

Barnes notes that baptism cannot possibly mean immersion in the above examples.

From Vincent’s Word Studies:

“Wash themselves (βαπτίσωνται)

Two of the most important manuscripts, however, read ῥαντίσωνται, sprinkled themselves. See Rev., in margin. This reading is adopted by Westcott and Herr. The American Revisers insist on bathe, instead of wash, already used as a translation of νίψωνται (Mark 7:3). The scope of this work does not admit of our going into the endless controversy to which this word has given rise. It will be sufficient to give the principal facts concerning its meaning and usage.

In classical Greek the primary meaning is to merse. Thus Polybius (i., 51, 6), describing a naval battle of the Romans and Carthaginians, says, “They sank (ἐβάπτιζον) many of the ships.” Josephus (“Jewish War,” 4., 3, 3), says of the crowds which flocked into Jerusalem at the time of the siege, “They overwhelmed (ἐβάπτισαν) the city.” In a metaphorical sense Plato uses it of drunkenness: drowned in drink (βεβαπτισμένοι, “Symposium,” 176); of a youth overwhelmed (βαπτιζόμενον) with the argument of his adversary (“Euthydemus,” 277).

“In the Septuagint the verb occurs four times: Isaiah 21:4, Terror hath frighted me. Septuagint, Iniquity baptizes me (βπτίζε); 2 Kings 5:15, of Naaman’s dipping himself in Jordan (ἐβαπτίσατο); Judith 12:7, Judith washing herself (ἐβαπτίζετο) at the fountain; Sirach 31:25, being baptized (βαπτιζόμενος) from a dead body.”

The New Testament use of the word to denote submersion for a religious purpose, may be traced back to the Levitical washings. See Leviticus 11:32 (of vessels); Leviticus 11:40 (of clothes); Numbers 8:6, Numbers 8:7 (sprinkling with purifying water); Exodus 30:19, Exodus 30:21 (of washing hands and feet). The word appears to have been at that time the technical term for such washings (compare Luke 11:38; Hebrews 9:10; Mark 7:4), and could not therefore have been limited to the meaning immerse. Thus, the washing of pots and vessels for ceremonial purification could not have been by plunging them in water, which would have rendered impure the whole body of purifying water. The word may be taken in the sense of washing or sprinkling.

The Teaching of the Apostles” (see on Matthew 10:10) throws light on the elastic interpretation of the term, in its directions for baptism. “Baptize – in living (i.e., running) water. But if thou hast not living water, baptize in other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water upon the head thrice into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Chap. VII.).

Pots (ξεστῶν)

Another of Mark’s Latin words, adapted from the Latin sextarius, a pint measure. Wyc., cruets. Tynd., cruses.

Brazen vessels (χαλκίων)

More literally, copper.

Tables (κλινῶν)

Omitted in some of the best manuscripts and texts, and by Rev. The A. V. is a mistranslation, the word meaning couches. If this belongs in the text, we certainly cannot explain βαπτισμοὺς as immersion.” (3)

As seen from Vincent’s argument above, the ceremonial purification rite could not have been immersion because of the contamination of the water source used for the ritual.

In addition, “And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece” (John 2:6). The waterpots may have held approximately ten gallons each. Even so, the passage from John clarifies that the Jews did not have enough water in the waterpots to immerse numerous individuals and couches.


“But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38)

Was Jesus talking about baptism with water in this passage? No, Jesus is talking about His crucifixion on the cross, not water baptism.

Hebrew roots of baptism; the consecration of the high priest:

“And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.” (Exodus 29:4) 

Does the translation of רָחַץ rawchats wash necessitate immersion? For example, a sponge bath can be understood as being washed.  

In closing:

In early church history, the Didache meaning “Teaching,” is a Christian manual compiled before 300AD, which dealt with baptism (Chapter 7, verses 1-3) addresses baptism.

The manuscript says:

    “(1) Concerning baptism, baptize in this way. After you have spoken all these things, “baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” in running water.”

    “(2) If you do not have running water, baptize [baptizon] in other water. If you are not able in cold, then in warm.”

    “(3) If you do not have either, pour out [ekcheo] water three times on the head “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Didache proves that alternate forms of baptism existed in the early Church and this, for one thing, means that the Roman Catholic Church did not invent sprinkling or pouring. The Didache predates Leo the Great: AD 440-461, debatably the first fully functional Pope in the Roman Church.

The optimal way, according to Didache, was to baptize in “running water,” which may indicate a river, stream, or spring; the running water has the baptismal benefit of metaphorically speaking, purifying and washing away impurities as the water flows.

As an aside, Eastern Orthodox Christianity baptizes by immersion. However, pouring or sprinkling is allowed in life-or-death emergencies, such as in hospitals.  

Something for other immersionists to consider. Possible solutions:

For the strict immersionist, there is a dilemma. What about emergencies, where immersion is not possible if the aspirant cannot be immersed because of being bedridden or connected to electrical monitoring probes in the ICU?

Pour or sprinkle water on the aspirant’s head three times or Splotch the candidate’s forehead with water three times.

These instructions are based upon the first-century document called the Didache, which allows special applications in emergencies.

A dilemma for strict immersionists:

“And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Corinthians 10:2)

Who would argue that those baptized in the Corinthian passage are to be understood as immersion? The only ones that were immersed were Pharaoh and his army. The children of Israel were either wetted like Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:33 or, more likely, sprinkled with drops of water from the cloud.

    “The New is in the Old contained; The Old is by the New explained” – St. Augustine. 

Utilizing this interpretive principle, one can ascertain: 

Pouring magnifies the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:

Baptism by pouring symbolizes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).

Baptism by sprinkling magnifies the cleansing blood of Christ:

Similarly, baptism by sprinkling symbolizes the cleansing of the blood of Christ that was sprinkled, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22); “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and a sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Peter !;2).  and “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you (Ezekiel 36:25).

As seen from the above citations, “baptism,” and its variations do not always mean “to dip” or “to immerse.” Examples from the Greek Scriptures of the Old Testament show this. Isaiah 21:4, for example, in the Septuagint, reads, “lawlessness overwhelms me.” In Daniel 4:33, “dew from heaven,” is translated as “drenched” or “wet.”

Moreover, just because βαπτίζω does not in translation mean sprinkling does not invalidate the intended parallel of sprinkling and baptism seen in the Scriptures. The Scriptures in Hebrews 9:19, 12:24, Leviticus 14:7, and Numbers 19:18 make the connection between sprinkling and baptism as functional parallels. Thus, baptism parallels and symbolizes the sprinkling of water and blood seen in the Old Testament. Therefore, the literal translation of the various forms of baptisms is superseded by the types and shadows of the Old Testament that are joined together by the New Testament, which becomes the governing hermeneutic of interpretation. Thus, the Scriptures are the best interpreter of Scripture.

And finally:

Westminster Confession of 1646: Of Baptism Chapter XXVIII. Of Baptism

“I. Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, (Mat 28:19); not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, (1Co 12:13); but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, (Rom 4:11; Col 2:11-12); of his ingrafting into Christ, (Gal 3:27; Rom 6:5); of regeneration, (Tts 3:5); of remission of sins, (Mar 1:4); and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life, (Rom 6:3-4). Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world, (Mat 28:19-20).

II. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto, (Mat 3:11; Jhn 1:33; Mat 28:19-20).

III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person, (Hbr 9:10, 19-22; Act 2:41; Act 16:33; Mar 7:4).

IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, (Mar 16:15-16; Act 8:37-38); but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized, (Gen 17:7, 9; Gal 3:9, 14; Col 2:11-12; Act 2:38-39; Rom 4:11-12; 1Co 7:14; Mat 28:19; Mar 10:13-16; Luk 18:15).

V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, (Luk 7:30; Exd 4:24-26); yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it, (Rom 4:11; Act 10:2, 4, 22, 31, 45, 47); or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated, (Act 8:13, 23).

VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered, (Jhn 3:5, 8); yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time, (Gal 3:27; Tts 3:5; Eph 5:25-26; Act 2:38, 41).

VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person, (Tts 3:5).”

For more study:

In the 19th century, Dr. James W. Dale, a Presbyterian minister, embarked on a scholarly project that proved to be the most exhaustive study ever undertaken on the word “baptism.” Aiming at a contextual understanding of the work, Dr. Dale meticulously examined its use in a wide range of historical documents, and his analysis is a masterpiece of lexicographical scholarship. Dr. Dale published his findings in four volumes. Available via Amazon or resellers

1.      Classic Baptism: An Inquiry Into the Meaning of the Word Baptizo as Determined by the Usage of Classical Greek Writers

2.      Judaic Baptism: Baptizo: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word As Determined by the Usage of Jewish and Patristic Writers  

3.      Johannic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word as Determined by the Usage of The Holy Scriptures

4.      Christic Baptism and Patristic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word As Determined by the Usage of the Holy Scriptures and Patristic Writings

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


1.      James W. Dale, and others as cited by Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1998), Pages 923-935.

2.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Mark, Vol. 1 p. 577.

3.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, Mark, Vol. 1, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 199.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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How does a sprinkling of water cleanse someone in Ezekiel 36:25? 

How does a sprinkling of water cleanse someone in Ezekiel 36:25?               By Jack Kettler

In this study, the meaning of the Ezekiel text regarding sprinkling will be considered. Are the sprinkling and cleansing symbolic or literal? The following citation includes, for a fuller context, verses 26-27.

“For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:24-27)

Delving into the original Hebrew will be helpful in the understanding of sprinkling.

Strong’s Concordance:

zaraq: scatter

Original word: זָרַק

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: zaraq

Phonetic Spelling: (zaw-rak’)

Definition: be here and there, scatter, sprinkle, strew.”

The Hebrew word in the above passage mentioning sprinkling is zaraq. The word is a verb and denotes action.

Ezekiel 36:24-25 is looking forward into history by way of a prophecy. The three following commentators use the reality of the New Covenant in Christ to understand Ezekiel’s prophecy.

Regarding verse 24 from Ezekiel, it is learned from the Pulpit Commentary:

“Verse 24. – I will take you from among the heathen; or, nations. The first step in the sanctification of Jehovah’s Name. A promise already given (Ezekiel 11:17; Ezekiel 20:41, 42), and afterwards repeated (Ezekiel 37:21). The mention of “all countries” shows the prophet’s gaze to have been directed beyond the present or immediate future. The Israel of Ezekiel’s time had not been scattered among and could not be gathered from all, countries; yet in the years that have passed since then Ezekiel’s language as to Israel’s dispersion has been literally fulfilled. Wherefore the inference is reasonable that the reassembling to which Ezekiel refers is an event that has not yet occurred, at least in its fullest measure and degree, but will only then be realized completely and finally when the scattered members of the house of Israel shall have been received into the Christian Church (Romans 11:25, 26). Ezekiel 36:24” (1)

Continuing to verse 25 from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:

“(25) Sprinkle clean water. — Comp. Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 10:22. Ezekiel, the priest, here refers to those manifold purifications of the Law (e.g., Numbers 8:7; Numbers 19:9; Numbers 19:17; Leviticus 14:5-7; Leviticus 14:9, &c.) which were performed by means of water; yet he refers to these as a whole, in their symbolical signification, rather than to any one of them in particular. He speaks primarily of the cleansing from idolatry and such gross outward sins, and he treats of the people collectively; yet this purification, as the following verses show, must necessarily extend much farther, and be applied to them individually. It was the same symbolism which led in later ages to the use of baptism in the admission of proselytes to the Jewish Church, a practice adopted by the forerunner of our Lord in the preparation of the people for His coming. Baptism is also alluded to by our Lord Himself in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:5.) and afterwards established by Him as the initiatory sacrament of the Christian Church. (Comp. Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22.)” (2)

In addition, verse 25 is learned from Matthew Poole’s Commentary:

He alludes to the sprinklings under the law, perhaps to that Numbers 19:9, which was for purification of sin; and Ezekiel 36:19-20. So God will purify them from their guilt. Clean water: some think it may refer to baptismal water; if so, it is to the blood of Christ, signified by it, and this, say the best expositors, is here intended, and this is.”

the blood of sprinkling, Hebrews 12:24.”

Ye shall be clean; when sin is remitted, the person is indeed clean, both in the account of God and Christ.”

From all your filthiness; though they have been many of all sorts, and among all ranks of men, yet multitude of sins shall not hinder me from pardoning.”

From all your idols; that notorious great abomination, your multiplied idolatry, I will pardon that also, that ye may be clean. Thus, remission of sin is promised.” (3)

Two New Testament passages involving sprinkling:

“For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people.” (Hebrews 9:19)

Strong’s Concordance:

rhantizó: to sprinkle

Original word: ῥαντίζω

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: rhantizó

Phonetic Spelling: (hran-tid’-zo)

Definition: to sprinkle

Usage: I sprinkle, cleanse ceremonially by sprinkling.”

“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)

Strong’s Concordance:

rhantismos: sprinkling

Original Word: ῥαντισμός, οῦ, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: rhantismos

Phonetic Spelling: (hran-tis-mos’)

Definition: sprinkling

Usage: sprinkling, purification.”

The two New Testament passages above use a verb and noun form of the same word, which means ceremonial or purification by sprinkling. Whereas the Old Testament word for sprinkle denoted action, the New Testament sheds further understanding involving ceremonial purification. In this respect, sprinkling and baptism are symbolic of cleansing sin.

In regards to Hebrews 12:24, Vincent’s Word Studies says:

“The mediator of the new covenant (διαθήκης νέας μεσίτῃ)”

“See Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 8:8, Hebrews 8:9, Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 9:15. For covenant, see on Hebrews 9:6 ff. For the new covenant, rend. a new covenant. Νέα new, only here applied to the covenant in N.T. The word elsewhere is καινή. For the distinction, see on Matthew 26:29. It is better not to press the distinction, since νεός, in certain cases, clearly has the sense of quality rather than of time, as 1 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 3:10, and probably here, where to confine the sense to recent would seem to limit it unduly. In the light of all that the writer has said respecting the better quality of the Christian covenant, superseding the old, outworn, insufficient covenant, he may naturally be supposed to have had in mind something besides its mere recentness. Moreover, all through the contrast from Hebrews 12:18, the thought of earlier and later is not once touched, but only that of inferior and better; repellency and invitation; terrors and delights; fear and confidence. Note that the privilege of approaching the Mediator in person is emphasized.”

“Blood of sprinkling (αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ)”

Ῥαντισμός sprinkling only here and 1 Peter 1:2, see note. The phrase blood of sprinkling N.T.o. olxx, where we find ὕδωρ ῥαντισμοῦ water of sprinkling, Numbers 19:9, Numbers 19:13, Numbers 19:20, Numbers 19:21. For the verb ῥαντίζειν to sprinkle, see on Hebrews 9:13. The mention of blood naturally follows that of a covenant, since no covenant is ratified without blood (Hebrews 9:16). The phrase is sufficiently explained by Hebrews 9:16-22.”

“Speaketh better things (κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι)”

“For “better things” rend. “better.” The blood is personified, and its voice is contrasted with that of Abel, whose blood cried from the ground for vengeance upon his murderer (Genesis 4:10). The voice of Christ’s blood calls for mercy and forgiveness.”

“Than that of Abel (παρὰ τὸν Ἄβελ).”

“Rend. “than Abel.” Comp. Hebrews 11:4, where Abel himself speaks.” (4)

In closing:

Ezekiel 36:26 says, “a new heart, also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Verse 27 says, “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

Therefore, sprinkling in verse 25 prophetically pictures a New Testament conversion which is proved by verse 26 when it says, “a new heart,” taking away the heart of stone and “I will give you a heart of flesh.” In addition, verse 27 says, “put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes.” The Strong’s Concordance says, regarding the word “cause” to “do, make.” Moreover, this caused by God pictures a regenerated changed heart which is not fully released until the “born again” conversion of the New Testament times.

Regarding baptism and its relationship to Ezekiel:

Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into the visible church. Baptism also signifies regeneration and remission of sin. Sprinkling, as seen in Ezekiel’s pictures or symbolizes regeneration that literally would happen in the New Covenant.    

In the Ezekiel passage, sprinkling is symbolic. However, in Numbers 19:9, 18-19, the sprinkling is literal. The cleansing or purification as a result of sprinkling was symbolic, looking forward to New Covenant in Christ where the cleansing by the blood Christ cleanses. Said another way, the sprinkling in the Old Testament did not cleanse sin any more than baptism in the New Testament cleanses sin. However, both actions symbolize the blood of Christ that cleanses sin.    

Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture:

The Greek βαπτίζω‎ is rendered “dip, plunge, dyed, bathed or immersed” in the Septuagint. Therefore, the parallel between sprinkling and baptism (βαπτίζω) does not depend either upon the Old Testament Septuagint or the New Testament translation of the word. Furthermore, just because βαπτίζω does not in translation mean sprinkling does not invalidate the intended parallel of sprinkling and baptism. The Scriptures in Hebrews 9:19, 12:24, Leviticus 14:7, and Numbers 19:18 make the connection between sprinkling and baptism as functional parallels.

Likewise, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” Colossians 2:11–12. The Colossians passage is analogous or the functional equivalent between circumcision in the Older Covenant and water baptism in the New Covenant.

For more study:

See BAPTISM by Rev. John Scott Johnson, Ph.D. at,


by Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee

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


1.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Ezekiel, Vol. 12., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 245.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Ezekiel, Vol. 5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 305.

3.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Ezekiel, Vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 772.

4.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, Hebrews, Vol. 4, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 555-556.Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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Is Matthew 10:37 too difficult to obey?


  Is Matthew 10:37 too difficult to obey?                         By Jack Kettler

In this study, the meaning of “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worth of me” will be considered. Alternatively, as Luke puts it, “and hate not his father and mother….”

 “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

In Matthew and Luke, Christ is talking about his disciples.

What is a disciple?

The simplest definition of a “disciple” is someone who adheres to or follows the teachings of another. In the Christian case, the disciples follow Christ.

Since Luke appears to be the stronger warning, consider:

From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible commenting on Luke:

“If any man come to me…. Not in a corporeal, but in a spiritual way; nor barely to hear him preach; but so, come, as that he believes in him, applies to him for grace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; professes to be his, submits to his ordinances, and desires to be a disciple of his;

and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple: not that proper hatred of any, or all of these, is enjoined by Christ; for this would be contrary to the laws of God, to the first principles of nature, to all humanity, to the light of nature, to reason and divine revelation: but that these are not to be preferred to Christ, or loved more than he, as it is explained in Matthew 10:37 yea, these are to be neglected and forsaken, and turned from with indignation and resentment, when they stand in the way of the honour and interest of Christ, and dissuade from his service: such who would be accounted the disciples of Christ, should be ready to part with their dearest relations and friends, with the greatest enjoyment of life, and with life itself, when Christ calls for it; or otherwise they are not worthy to be called his disciples. The Ethiopic version inserts, ‘his house’, into the account.” (1) (underlining and bolding emphasis mine)

In Deuteronomy, there is a similar passage:

“Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.” (Deuteronomy 33:9)

Deuteronomy refers to the Levites.

Consider Keil and Delitzsch’s Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament regarding the Deuteronomy passage:

“In these temptations Levi had proved itself “a holy one,” although in the latter Moses and Aaron stumbled, since the Levites had risen up in defence of the honour of the Lord and had kept His covenant, even with the denial of father, mother, brethren, and children (Matthew 10:37; Matthew 19:29). The words, “who says to his father,” etc., relate to the event narrated in Exodus 32:26-29, where the Levites draw their swords against the Israelites their brethren, at the command of Moses, after the worship of the golden calf, and execute judgment upon the nation without respect of person. To this we may add Numbers 25:8, where Phinehas interposes with his sword in defence of the honour of the Lord against the shameless prostitution with the daughters of Moab. On these occasions the Levites manifested the spirit which Moses predicates here of all the tribe. By the interposition at Sinai especially, they devoted themselves with such self-denial to the service of the Lord, that the dignity of the priesthood was conferred upon their tribe in consequence. – In Deuteronomy 33:10 and Deuteronomy 33:11, Moses celebrates this vocation: “They will teach Jacob Thy rights, and Israel Thy law; bring incense to Thy nose, and whole-offering upon Thine altar. Bless, Lord, his strength, and let the work of his hands be well-pleasing to Thee: smite his adversaries and his haters upon the hips, that they may not rise!” The tribe of Levi had received the high and glorious calling to instruct Israel in the rights and commandments of God (Leviticus 10:11), and to present the sacrifices of the people to the Lord, viz., incense in the holy place, whole-offering in the court. “Whole-offering,” a term applied to the burnt-offering, which is mentioned instar omnium as being the leading sacrifice. The priests alone were actually entrusted with the instruction of the people in the law and the sacrificial worship; but as the rest of the Levites were given them as assistants in their service, this service might very properly be ascribed to the whole tribe; and no greater blessing could be desired for it than that the Lord should give them power to discharge the duties of their office, should accept their service with favour, and make their opponents powerless. The enemies and haters of Levi were not only envious persons, like Korah and his company (Numbers 16:1), but all opponents of the priests and Levites. The loins are the seat of strength (Psalm 69:24; Job 40:16; Job 31:1; 17). This is the only place in which מן is used before a finite verb, whereas it often stands before the infinitive (e.g., Genesis 27:1; Genesis 31:29).” (2)

The Levites were set apart and consecrated by God in service to administer the types and shadows of the sacrificial worship system that pointed forward in history to the redemption of the New Covenant found in Christ. Like the Levites of old, Christ’s disciples are called and sanctified in service to Christ.

It is possible to some extent to see discipleship and sanctification as overlapping or synonymous. Furthermore, discipleship is impossible without sanctifying grace.  

Being set apart in sanctification can be described as a calling and takes many forms. For example:

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office.” (Romans 12:4)   

In addition:

12 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also, is Christ.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? (1 Corinthians 12:12; 27-29)

It can be ascertained from the above passages that there are many calling in the body of Christ. These callings can be diverse, encompassing spheres such as callings within the church, business, the arts, civil service, family, etc.

Not surprisingly, the majority of Christ’s disciples are not working in full-time church work. There are a limited number of pastors, elders, deacons, evangelists, and missionaries.   

What does it mean for Christians today to be disciples in their calling? Most believers are employed or self-employed. Nevertheless, regardless of one’s station or vocation in life, all Christians are to be disciples. All Christians follow Christ and His teachings. At work, Christians follow Christ and bear witness to His truth verbally or by applying His teachings in events throughout the day. Discipleship is not monasticism.

We are to be in the world, advancing the cause of Christ.


“Luther’s return from the cloister to the world was the worst blow the world had suffered since the days of early Christianity.” (3)

What is the relationship between discipleship and sanctification?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his “The Cost of Discipleship,” has something to say about discipleship and sanctification:

“The otherworldliness of the Christian life ought, Luther concluded, to be manifested in the very midst of the world, in the Christian community and in its daily life. Hence the Christian’s task is to live out that life in terms of his secular calling. That is the way to die unto the world. The value of the secular calling for the Christian is that it provides an opportunity of living the Christian life with the support of God’s grace, and of engaging more vigorously in the assault on the world and everything that it stands for. Luther did not return to the world because he had arrived at a more positive attitude towards it. Nor had he abandoned the eschatological expectation of early Christianity. He intended his action to express a radical criticism and protest against the secularization of Christianity which had taken place within monasticism. By recalling the Christians into the world, he called them paradoxically out of it all the more. That was what Luther experienced in his own person. His call to men to return to the world was essentially a call to enter the visible Church of the incarnate Lord.” (4)

Believers are in the world but not of it. As Abraham Kuyper noted:

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” (5)

“Sanctification means that the Christians have been judged already, and that they are being preserved until the coming of Christ and are ever advancing towards it.” (6)

For Bonhoeffer, discipleship is a lifelong how-to question, a question that must be asked daily by believers. Bonhoeffer’s belief regarding discipleship was that Jesus calls believers to follow Him in life’s mundane and intricate realities. In other words, in the world but not of it, always seeking to be faithful adherents of Scripture.

The means of grace is inescapably intertwined with the Reformed idea of discipleship. Christ disciples us through the ministries of the church, i.e., pastoral ministry, elder visitations, Christian education classes, and exhortations through the fellowship of the brethren.

Chapter XIII. Of Sanctification

I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, (1Co 6:11; Act 20:32; Phl 3:10; Rom 6:5-6); by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them, (Jhn 17:17; Eph 5:26; 1Th 2:13): the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, (Rom 6:6, 14); and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, (Gal 5:24; Rom 8:13); and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, (Col 1:11; Eph 3: 16-19); to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, (2Co 7:1; Hbr 12:14).

II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man, (1Th 5:23); yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part, (1Jo 1:10 Rom 7:18, 23; Phl 3:12); whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, (Gal 5:17; 1Pe 2:11).

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail, (Rom 7:23); yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome, (Rom 6:14; 1Jo 5:4; Eph 4:15-16); and so, the saints grow in grace, (2Pe 3:18; 2Co 3:18); perfecting holiness in the fear of God, (2Co 7:1).

In closing:

As seen from the Scripturally-based Westminster Confession on sanctification, the beginning question regarding Christ’ Words, are these words too hard to obey; it can be said absolutely no. Sanctification is a work of grace in the life of believers. With the sinful nature being changed, Christ is their first love for believers.


“Discipleship is commitment to Christ. Because Christ exists, he must be followed.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship

Therefore, “Be ye therefore followers [imitators] of God, as dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1)

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


1.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Luke, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 387.

2.      Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Deuteronomy, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1985), p. 502.

3.      Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 48). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

4.      Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 265). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

5.      Kuyper’s famous “square inch” slogan accurately reflects his vision of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It comes from his inaugural address, “Sphere Sovereignty,” at the opening of the Free University of Amsterdam in 1880.

6.      Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 279). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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