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What is Art, and what does the Bible say about Artistic talent?

What is Art, and what does the Bible say about Artistic talent?                    By Jack Kettler

What is Art? How does the Bible treat Artistic talent? How should Christians interact with the Arts? This study is an introductory primer on the arts in general. The reader should consult Images and Worship a primer by this author for a survey on Art and worship.

KJV Dictionary Definition: Art

‘ART, The second person, indicative mode, present tense, of the substantive verb am.

ARTFUL, a. See Art.

1. Performed with art or skill.

2. Artificial, as opposed to natural

3. Cunning; practicing art, or stratagem, crafty, as an artful boy. This is the most usual sense.

4. Proceeding from art or craft, as an artful scheme.”

In general, art is an exhibition of human innovative skills and imagination.

Art can be different things, pictures, painting, music, sculpture, Shakespearian plays, poetry, movies, and literature. In one sense, everything created by a man is a work of art. Art can represent good and beautiful things created by humans. It can also represent ugliness and rebellion against God.

Art is never neutral; it can be good or evil. It can glorify God or mock God. Literature and films can be inspirational, or they can be pornographic and promote atheism and other forms of ungodliness. Therefore, the Arts should be viewed discerningly. Unfortunately, Art produced by Christians can be flawed as well, and represent heresy. See * note for an example of Christian heresy in literature and film.

In many cases, Art displays reveal the artist’s worldview. The viewer of the Arts should be aware of particular worldviews that are on display and judged accordingly.

A painting or picture of creation would fall under the description of Psalms 19:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1 ESV)

Art that replicates God’s creation is not neutral according to the Psalmist; it declares the glory of God.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18 NKJV)

Art produced by the men of Romans 1:18 likewise is not neutral; it suppresses the truth about creation.

How does the Bible say about Artistic talent?

Artistic talent is borrowed from Heaven. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29 ESV).

In Scripture, we see that God gives artists their skill, and He gives particular artisans specific directions for His ordained projects.   

From the HELPS Word-studies using the Strong’ numbering system on the word gifts:
“Cognate: 5486 xárisma (from “grace,” 5485 /xáris) – properly, the operation of grace (divine favor), i.e. a grace-endowment to edify the Church (note the -ma suffix, focusing on the end-result of the endowment of grace).

5486 /xárisma (“grace-gift”) divinely empowers a believer to share God’s work with others, i.e. Spirit-empowered service to the Church to carry out His plan for His people.

[5486 /xárisma (but not limited to) “spiritual gifts.” xarismata (the plural form) literally means “grace-endowments.”]” See Helps Ministry Inc.

 These gifts or xárisma are not limited to spiritual gifts. Consequently, they can refer to artistic gifts. Artistic skill is a gift of God’s grace.

 What do men do with their talents; glorify God or themselves? What does the Bible say about the artist and Artistic talent?

 We see a reference about artistic work in Exodus 31. God gave this artistic talent:  “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, See I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle – the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base – the garments of ministry, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests, and the anointing oil and sweet incense for the holy place.” (Exodus 31:1-11 NKJV)

 In this text, God is instructing Moses to create a sacred tent for the Ark of the Covenant. This sacred tent was a visible symbol of God’s presence. God references several artisans whom He selected to decorate the tent. God says, “I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans.” In this text, we learn that God commands the work of the artisan, and He is the origin of this artistic talent by way of what is known as God’s communicable attributes. These attributes are those, which He shares with humankind.

 Another example is Solomon building the temple in 1Kings. This text focuses on detail and precision:  “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord. The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits1 long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house. And he made for the house windows with recessed frames. He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary. And he made side chambers all around. The lowest story was five cubits broad, the middle one was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad. For around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house. When the house was built, fit was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built. The entrance for the lowest story was on the south side of the house, and one went up by stairs to the middle story, and from the middle story to the third. So he built the house and finished it, and he made the ceiling of the house of beams and planks of cedar. He built the structure against the whole house, five cubits high, and it was joined to the house with timbers of cedar.” (1Kings 6:1-10 ESV)

 The above text in 1Kings show the details that went into constructing the House of the Lord.

 In 1Chronicles, we learn about the precious stones went into beautifying the temple: 
“So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.” (1Chronicles 29:2 ESV)

 In 2Chronicles, we read about the decorations and Artistic skill that went into the building of the temple: “The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre. He is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, and in purple, blue, and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all sorts of engraving and execute any design that may be assigned him, with your craftsmen, the craftsmen of my lord, David your father.” (2Chronicles 2:14 ESV)  
“The nave he lined with cypress and covered it with fine gold and made palms and chains on it.He adorned the house with settings of precious stones. The gold was gold of Parvaim.So he lined the house with gold—its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors—and he carved cherubim on the walls.” (2Chronicles 3:6 ESV)

 Other passages about Artistic talent that God gave to individuals in the Bible:  “The Lord said to Moses,  “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,  and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship,  to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze,  in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 35:1-5 ESV)

“He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.” (Exodus 35:35 ESV)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV)


In passages survey from Scripture, we see that God is concerned about detail and gives individuals Artistic talent. The aim was that in all this is that God will be glorified.

A view of the Arts by Protestant reformer, John Calvin:
“But, as sculpture and painting are gifts of God, what I insist on is, that both shall be used purely and lawfully, that gifts which the Lord has bestowed upon us, for His glory and our good, shall not be preposterously abused, nay, shall not be perverted to our destruction.” (1)  “The object of music is God and His creation. The glory of God and the elevation of man are its goal, and the inspired Psalms are its means. Since it is the goodness of God emanating through the universe that makes men sing, God ought to be the centre of man’s thoughts and feelings when he sings. Seriousness, harmony and joy must characterize our songs to God.” (2)

Presbyterian theologian and a missionary, Francis Schaeffer’s thoughts on art:
“The lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts,”

“A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.”

“There was no pragmatic reason for the precious stones. They had no utilitarian purpose. God simply wanted beauty in the temple. God is interested in beauty.”  “…there is a very real sense in which the Christian life itself should be our greatest work of art. Even for the great artist, the most crucial work of art is his life.”  “As a Christian we know why a work of art has value. Why? First, because a work of art is a work of creativity, and creativity has value because God is the Creator.”

“Second, an art work has value as a creation because man is made in the image of God, and therefore man not only can love and think and feel emotion but also has the capacity to create. Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity. In fact, it is part of the image of God to be creative, or to have creativity.” (3)

 Abraham Kuyper, prime minister of the Netherlands, asserts that leading Protestant reformer John Calvin believed regarding the Arts:  1. “esteemed art, in all its ramifications, as a gift of God.”

2. “fully grasped the profound effects worked by art upon the life of the emotions.”

3. “appreciated the end for which art has been given.”

4. “believed “that by [art] we might glorify God.”

5.  “attributed to [art] the noble vocation of disclosing to man a higher reality than was offered to us by this sinful and corrupted world.” (4)

 In closing:

 Art is the demonstration of human innovative skills and imagination by virtue of created human beings sharing in the communicable attributes of God. Communicable attributes are those attributes shared with humanity. God’s incommunicable attributes, such as omniscient and omnipresence, are not. Artistic talent is not innate in a man; it is given by God to be shared with God’s creation, humanity.

 Christians, therefore, can and should participate in the Arts. They should do this being aware that artistic is talent is borrowed from heaven or more preciously; God gives or loans the talent to the artist this side of heaven.

 In a unique display, the famous contemporary Irish music group, the Corrs understood this quite well and titled their fourth studio album, Borrowed Heaven. John Coltrane, the jazz saxophonist, was one of the first musicians in the modern era publically to give God credit in the notes from his album A Love Supreme.

 Does the artist give God the glory for their talent or not. The talent or ability is on loan from God. Whom gets the glory? 

 In evaluating the arts, Christians should be worldview conscious. Said another way, view the Arts with discernment with a biblical mindset.

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) And “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


 1.      John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeil (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, and The S.C.M. Press Ltd., London, 1960), 1.11.8-16.

2.      Quoted in Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinist Concept of Culture, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, 1972), p. 110.

3.      Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible, (Inter Varsity Press, Kindle Edition), pp. 18, 26, 49, 51.  

4.      Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1981), p. 153.

 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

 For More Study:

 * Six Major Problems with The Shack

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What does the Bible say about money?

What does the Bible say about money?                                                   By Jack Kettler

“For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6:10)

This passage from Timothy is routinely misunderstood. Money is not condemned; the love of money is. In the New Testament, we learn about Jesus and His view of money. Jesus observed the rich putting their money into the treasury, and the poor widow casting in her two mites. The two mites were in the eyes of Jesus were worth far more.

“And He sat down over against the treasury and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And He called unto Him His disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they which are casting into the treasury; for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:41-44 RV)

Jesus is concerned about a person’s heart. The rich people in this passage were, in reality, giving nothing. The poor widow gave everything. She could have given only half, one mite. We can all ask, are our hearts fixated on money?

Rather than deal with temptations and warnings in Scripture about money, this study or primer will be concerned with a definition of money, and biblically how exchanges were to be made and what was the item or medium of trade.

As an introduction, money in the Bible was not made out of paper like today; it was a hard medium of exchange like silver, gold. Livestock or crops could be traded or bartered but were not as efficient as a metal since storage of grains and other factors such as transportation made it unmanageable. With modern silos, numerous crops have a better storage value. Metal, on the other hand, in ancient times, had a practical storage value. In addition, silver and gold could be held in a person’s hand and could be relocated to an exchange.

Scriptures on money and its everyday functions. A survey of passages with lexical help:

Strong’s Concordance 3701 keseph

keseph: silver, money

Original Word: כֶּסֶף
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Transliteration: keseph
Phonetic Spelling: (keh’-sef)
Definition: silver, money

Silver is used as money in a number of passages. The biblical references are listed rather than the whole text except in a few cases.

Sometimes the King James translators use the word money and sometimes silver when translating the Hebrew word keseph.

See the two examples from Genesis 17:27 and Genesis 20:16 on the translation of keseph

Genesis 17:12-13

Genesis 17:23

Genesis 17:27 – “And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money (keseph) of the stranger, were circumcised with him.”

Genesis 20:16 – “And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: (keseph) behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.”

Genesis 23:9

Genesis 23:13

Genesis 31:15

Genesis 37:28

Genesis 42:25-35   

Genesis 43:12-23; 44:1-8; 47:14-18;  

Exodus 12:44; 21:11, 21, 34-35; 22:7, 17, 25; 30:16;

Leviticus 22:11; 25:37, 51; 27:15, 18;

Numbers 3:48-51; 18:16;

Deuteronomy 2:6, 28; 14:25-26; 21:14; 23:19;

Judges 5:19; 16:18; 17:4;

1 Kings 21:2,6,15; 2 Kings 5:26; 12:4,7-16; 15:20; 22:7, 9; 23:35;

2Chronicles 24:5, 11, 14; 34:9, 14, 17;

Ezra 3:7; 7:17;

Nehemiah 5:4, 10-11;

Esther 4:7; Job 31:39;

Psalm 15:5;

Proverbs 7:20;

Ecclesiastes 7:12; 10:19;

Isaiah 43:24; 52:3; 55:1-2;

Jeremiah 32:9-10, 25, 44;

Lamentations 5:4; Micah 3:11;

Matthew 25:18, 27; 28:12, 15;

Mark 14:11;

Luke 9:3; 19:15, 23; 22:5;

Acts 7:16; 8:20.

Strong’s Concordance 2091 zahab

zahab: gold

Original Word: זָהָב

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: zahab

Phonetic Spelling: (zaw-hawb’)

Definition: gold

Gold used as money in the Old Testament:

Genesis 13:2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Genesis 24:35

Genesis 44:8

1Chronicles 21:25

Ezra 8:25-27

Isaiah 13:17

Isaiah 46:6

Isaiah 60:9;

Ezekiel 7:19; 28:4;

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Greek 5557 chrusos


Perhaps from the base of chraomai (through the idea of the utility of the metal); gold, by extension, a golden article, as an ornament or coin — gold.

See GREEK chraomai

Gold in the New Testament:

Matthew 2:11; 10:9;

Acts 3:6; 20:33;

1Peter 1:18.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance 5475 chalkos

Money, copper or bronze

Perhaps from chalao through the idea of hollowing out as a vessel (this metal being chiefly used for that purpose); copper (the substance, or some implement or coin made of it) — brass, money.

See GREEK chalao

Copper or bronze used as money:

Mark 6:8

Mark 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, an abbreviated entry on money:
“mun’-i: Various terms are used for money in the Bible, but the most common are the Hebrew keceph, and Greek argurion, both meaning silver. We find also qesiTah, rendered by Septuagint “lambs,” probably referring to money in a particular form; chalkos is used for money in Mt 10:9; Mark 6:8; 12:41. It was the name of a small coin of Agrippa II (Madden, Coins of the Jews); chrema, “price,” is rendered money in Ac 4:37; 8:18,20; 24:26; kerma, “piece,” i.e. piece of money (Joh 2:15); didrachmon, “tribute money” (Mt 17:24 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) “half-shekel”); kensos, “census,” “tribute money” (Mt 22:19).

1. Material and Form:

Gold and silver were the common medium of exchange in Syria and Palestine in the earliest times of which we have any historical record. The period of mere barter had passed before Abraham. The close connection of the country with the two great civilized centers of antiquity, Egypt and Babylonia, had led to the introduction of a currency for the purposes of trade. We have abundant evidence of the use of these metals in the Biblical records, and we know from the monuments that they were used as money before the time of Abraham. The patriarch came back from his visit to Egypt “rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” (Ge 13:2). There was no system of coinage, but they had these metals cast in a convenient form for use in exchange, such as bars or rings, the latter being a common form and often represented or mentioned on the monuments of Egypt. In Babylonia the more common form seems to have been the former, such as the bar, or wedge, that Achan found in the sack of Jericho (Jos 7:21). This might indicate that the pieces were too large for ordinary use, but we have indications of the use of small portions also (2Ki 12:9; Job 42:11). But the pieces were not so accurately divided as to pass for money without weighing, as we see in the case of the transaction between Abraham and the children of Heth for the purchase of the field of Machpelah (Ge 23:1-20). This transaction indicates also the common use of silver as currency, for it was “current money with the merchant,” and earlier than this we have mention of the use of silver by Abraham as money: “He that is born in thy house and he that is bought with thy money” (Ge 17:13).

Jewels of silver and gold were probably made to conform to the shekel weight, so that they might be used for money in case of necessity. Thus Abraham’s servant gave to Rebecca a gold ring of half a shekel weight and bracelets of ten shekels weight (Ge 24:22). The bundles of money carried by the sons of Jacob to Egypt for the purchase of grain (Ge 42:35) were probably silver rings tied together in bundles. The Hebrew for “talent,” kikkar, signifies something round or circular, suggesting a ring of this weight to be used as money. The ordinary term for money was keceph, “silver,” and this word preceded by a numeral always refers to money, either with or without “shekel,” which we are probably to supply where it is not expressed after the numeral, at least wherever value is involved, as the shekel (sheqel) was the standard of value as well as of weight (see WEIGHTS AND MEASURES). Thus the value of the field of Ephron was in shekels, as was also the estimation of offerings for sacred purposes (Le 5:15; 27:1-34, passim). Solomon purchased chariots at 600 (shekels) each and horses at 150 (1Ki 10:29). Large sums were expressed in talents, which were a multiple of the shekel. Thus Menahem gave Pul 1,000 talents of silver (2Ki 15:19), which was made up by the exaction of 50 shekels from each rich man. Hezekiah paid the war indemnity to Sennacherib with 300 talents of silver and 30 of gold (2Ki 18:14). The Assyrian account gives 800 talents of silver, and the discrepancy may not be an error in the Hebrew text, as some would explain it, but probably a different kind of talent (see Madden, Coins of the Jews, 4). Solomon’s revenue is stated in talents (1Ki 10:14), and the amount (666 of gold) indicates that money was abundant, for this was in addition to what he obtained from the vassal states and by trade. His partnership with the Phoenicians in commerce brought him large amounts of the precious metals, so that silver was said to have been as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones (1Ki 10:27).

Besides the forms of rings and bars, in which the precious metals were cast for commercial use, some other forms were perhaps current. Thus, the term qesiTah has been referred to as used for money, and the Septuagint translation has “lambs.” It is used in Ge 33:19; Jos 24:32; Job 42:11, and the Septuagint rendering is supposed to indicate a piece in the form of a lamb or stamped with a lamb, used at first as a weight, later the same weight of the precious metals being used for money. We are familiar with lion weights and weights in the form of bulls and geese from the monuments, and it would not be strange to find them in the form of sheep. QesiTah is cognate with the Arabic qasaT, which means, “to divide exactly” or “justly,” and the noun qist means “a portion” or “a measure. H. Porter” (1)

 From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, an abbreviated entry on Weights:  “wāt (Measure of quantity) משׁקל, mishḳāl, (משׁקל, mshḳōl (Ezekiel 4:10), from קל, shāḳkal, “to weigh” אבן, ‘ebhen, “a stone” used for weighing in the balance): Weights were commonly of stone or bronze (or of lead, Zechariah 5:7, Zechariah 5:8). They were of various forms, such as the lion-shaped weights of Babylonia and Assyria, or in the form of birds and other animals. The Hebrew and Phoenician weights, when made of stone, were barrel-shaped or spindle-shaped, but in bronze, they were often cubical or octagonal or with numerous faces (see illustration under WEIGHTS AND MEASURES). Hemispherical or dome-shaped stone weights have been found in Palestine (PEFS, 1902, p. 344; 1903, p. 117; 1904, p. 209).

Figurative: The phrase “without weight” (2Kings 25:16) signifies a quantity too great to be estimated. “Weight of glory” (2Corinthians 4:17, βάρος, báros) has a similar meaning, but with a spiritual reference. “Weighty,” “weightier” (Matthew 23:23; 2Corinthians 10:10, βαρύς, barús, βαρύτερος, barúteros), signify what is important. The Greek (ὄγκος, ógkos) (Hebrews 12:1), is used in the sense of burden, hindrance, as is also the Hebrew nēṭel (Proverbs 27:3). H. Porter” (2)

 From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, an abbreviated entry on MEASURES: mezh’-ur, Several different words in the Hebrew and Greek are rendered by “measure” inEnglish Versions of the Bible. In Job 11:9 and Jeremiah 13:25 it stands for madh, middah, and it is the usual rendering of the verb madhadh, “to measure,” i.e. “stretch out,” “extend,” “spread.” It is often used to render the words representing particular measures, such as [‘ephah] (Deuteronomy 25:14,15; Proverbs 20:10; Micah 6:10); or kor (1Kings 4:22; 5:11 (1Ki 5:2, 5:25 Hebrew text); 2Chronicles 2:10 (Hebrew text 2:9) 27:5; Ezra 7:22); or seah (Genesis 18:6; 1Samuel 25:18; 1Kings 18:32; 2Kings 7:1,16,18); or batos, “bath” (Luke 16:6). For these terms, see WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. It also renders middah, “measure of length” (Exodus 26:2); mesurah, a liquid measure (Leviticus 19:35; 1Chronicles 23:29; Ezekiel 4:11,16); mishpaT, “judgment” (Jeremiah 30:11; 46:28); ca’ce’ah, a word of uncertain meaning, perhaps derived from seah (Isaiah 27:8); shalish, “threefold, large measure” (Psalms 80:5 (Hebrew text Psalms 80:6); Isaiah 40:12); tokhen, and mathkoneth, “weight” and that which is weighed, taken as measure (Ezekiel 45:11). In Isaiah 5:14 it stands for choq, “limit.” In the New Testament, besides being the usual rendering of the verb metreo, and of the noun metron, it is used for choinix, a dry measure containing about a quart (Revelation 6:6). H. Porter” (3)

 Thus far, from the material covered, money in biblical times was in some metal such as silver or gold.

 Was this system perfect?

 Warnings against unjust weights and balances are for everyone, even political rulers:
“You shall do no wrong in judgment, in the measurement of weight, or capacity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin; I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:35-36 NASB)

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16 NASB)

“Thus says the Lord GOD, enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness stop your expropriations from my people, declares the Lord GOD. You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath.” (Ezekiel 45:9-10 NASB)

“Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, when will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales, so as to buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?” (Amos 8:4-6 NASB)

“A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, he loves to oppress. And Ephraim said, surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me No iniquity, which would be sin.” (Hosea 12:7-8 NASB)

“Is there yet a man in the wicked house, Along with treasures of wickedness and a short measure that is cursed? Can I justify wicked scales and a bag of deceptive weights? For the rich men of the city are full of violence, her residents speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.” (Micah 6:10-14 NASB)

“A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” (Proverbs 11:1 NASB)

 From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on this warning from Proverbs 11:  “CHAPTER 11

Proverbs 11:1-31.

1. (Compare Margin). The Hebrews used stones for weights.

just—complete in measure. A false balance, the use of all false weights and measures in commerce, is abomination, i.e. highly abominable, as the abstract signifies; which is opposed to the false opinion of men, who account it a fineness of wit, or, at worst, but a trivial fault.

To the Lord; partly because this wickedness is acted under a colour of justice; and partly because it is destructive to human society, and especially to the poor, whose patron the Lord owneth himself to be.” (4)

 More warnings against unjust weights and balances:  “A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern.” (Proverbs 16:11 NASB)

“Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the LORD.” (Proverbs 20:10 NASB)

“Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false scale is not good.” (Proverbs 20:23 NASB)

 Comments on monetary manipulation:

 There have always been people that have schemed to get an advantage over other people in business or commercial transactions. This is particularly true of rulers or politicians. Politicians like to tax endlessly. Eventually, people have enough with endless taxation. A dream come true for politicians and tyrants is the modern printing press and electronic money creation in which the true value of a monetary currency is diluted. Dilution of the currency is a crafty form of hidden taxation. Most economists call it inflation, and almost no one knows how it happens. Every time there is a new printing run, the paper notes are further diluted. Advocates of biblical money call this is inflation.

 From the online KJV Dictionary’s definition of money: “money, n. plu. moneys.

1. Coin; stamped metal; any piece of metal, usually gold, silver or copper, stamped by public authority, and used as the medium of commerce. We sometimes give the name of money to other coined metals, and to any other material which rude nations use a medium of trade. But among modern commercial nations, gold, silver and copper are the only metals used for this purpose. Gold and silver, containing great value in small compass, and being therefore of easy conveyance, and being also durable and little liable to diminution by use, are the most convenient metals for coin or money, which is the representative of commodities of all kinds, of lands, and of everything that is capable of being transferred in commerce.

2. Bank notes or bills of credit issued by authority and exchangeable for coin or redeemable, are also called money; as such notes in modern times represent coin, and are used as a substitute for it. If a man pays in hand for goods in bank notes, which are current, he is said to pay in ready money.

3. Wealth; affluence.

Money can neither open new avenues to pleasure, nor block up the passages of anguish.

moneyed, a. Rich in money; having money; able to command money; used often in opposition to such as have their wealth in real estate.

Invite moneyed men to lend to the merchants.

1. Consisting in money, as moneyed capital.”

 Definition of Barter from the online Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary: “1. (v. i.) To traffic or trade, by exchanging one commodity for another, in distinction from a sale and purchase, in which money is paid for the commodities transferred; to truck.

2. (v. t.) To trade or exchange in the way of barter; to exchange (frequently for an unworthy consideration); to traffic; to truck; — sometimes followed by away; as, to barter away goods or honor.

3. (n.) The act or practice of trafficking by exchange of commodities; an exchange of goods.

4. (n.) The thing given in exchange.”

 In closing:

 Real money is a tangible, instrumental object, metal, or commodities, which serves as a medium of exchange for the purchase of goods, and services and a tangible financial instrument is a way to store value. To illustrate this last point about storage value consider; in the 1920s if one put 10 thousand dollars of paper notes in a suitcase under the bed and pulled it out today, what happened?

 An ounce of gold coined in biblical times would still be an ounce of gold today. A hundred dollars printed today is much different in value than $100 printed 100 years ago. Since 1913, the dollar has plummeted in value. At that time, a person with $100 could buy the same amount of food, clothing, and other necessities, as $2,529 would buy today. 

To borrow an illustration from a friend; historically, an ounce of gold has consistently bought a good man’s suit. It does today, and it did back in 1913 when gold was $20. Today, an ounce of gold is close to $1500, and a good man’s suit is about the same.

 The constant running of the government printing presses diluted the value of the paper notes. The suitcase under the bed is not a way to keep value. On the other hand, 10 thousand dollars in gold or silver coins at today’s cost would make one a hefty profit, which could be leveraged for other items of intrinsic value.    

 As seen from the illustrations, modern-day paper notes have no intrinsic value or storage worth. At one time U.S. paper notes were redeemable in silver or gold. Today this system of paper notes only has the backing of the good faith of the government printing these notes.  

 In contrast, gold, silver, using various weights and measures, as seen in the Bible did have intrinsic value. The advantage of biblical money is that it is less easily manipulated and cannot be inflated. Contrary to popular knowledge, it is a misnomer to call paper notes money. In and of itself, paper notes have no value.

 The present system of paper notes as an exchange is somewhat precarious. A return to a medium of exchange that has intrinsic value would be more than prudent.

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) And “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


 1.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for Money, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 2076.

2.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for Weights, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 3079.

3.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for MEASURE; MEASURES, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 2016.

4.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 464-465.

 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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Jacques Derrida and Language Deconstruction a review

Jacques Derrida

The Great Thinkers’

By Christopher Watkin

P & R Publishing 2017

A Review by Jack Kettler


Christopher Watkin (MPhil, Ph.D., Jesus College, Cambridge) researches and writes on modern and contemporary French thought, atheism, and religion. He lectures in French studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, blogs at, and can be found on Twitter @DrChrisWatkin.

What others are saying:

“Chris Watkin has done what I thought was impossible. He has explained Derrida’s deconstruction with lucidity, brevity, and charity. Not only that: he has imagined what it would be like for Cornelius Van Til to go toe-to-toe with Derrida in a discussion about language, logic, and the Logos made flesh, all of which figure prominently in John 1:1-18. And if that were not enough, he has done it in just over a hundred pages. Readers who want to know what all the fuss over postmodernity is about would do well to consult this book.” – Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Philosopher Stanley Fish once declared, ‘Deconstruction is dead in the same way that Freudianism is dead. . . . It is everywhere.’ Christopher Watkin’s remarkable book explains better than any other the nature of Derrida’s program and the reasons for its persistence. Watkin corrects misunderstandings and caricatures. Derrida is easy to dismiss when one takes a few of his thoughts out of context. But a great deal of importance must be highlighted. The author engages in a biblical and Reformed critique, one that ‘hold[s] fast what is good,’ while identifying its evils (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Complete with helpful diagrams, the book is a tour de force. I wish I had possessed it while in graduate school.” – William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary

“The Reformed community has long sought to stage a dialogue between Jacques Derrida and Karl Barth, but no one before Christopher Watkin has ever considered initiating a dialogue between Derrida and Barth’s Reformed critic Cornelius Van Til. Watkin explains Derrida’s fundamental ideas very clearly; more, he shows Calvinists some things that might be gained if they read Derrida with sympathy. Not least of all, the Bible might disclose more of its meaning.” – Kevin Hart, Edwin B. Kyle Professor of Christian Studies, University of Virginia


Christopher Watkin has done a masterful job introducing and explaining Jacques Derrida’s thoughts to the reader. Using important citations from Derrida’s philosophy of “Language Deconstruction.”

Derrida was a prolific writer and is evidenced by the fact that:

“Derrida was the author or coauthor of at least seventy books, held professorships in Paris and the University of California, Irvine, and received honorary doctorates at many more universities (including Cambridge: the petition failed in the end), but that says very little about the scope of his influence.” (xxii introduction)

Watkin’s goal is to help the reader with an overview of Derrida’s most important ideas, which cover a significant range of subjects from metaphysics, ethics, politics, and theology. Along with this goal is another, which makes it understandable and how to interact with it in terms of a Reformed Van Tilian presuppositionalist position. This challenge may seem almost impossible for many, yet Watkins does a superb job.

A couple of examples of how Watkin’s introduces the reader to Derrida:
“In other words, deconstruction is a warning against treating our meanings as completely clear and our truths as The Truth. Derrida’s most succinct expression of this conclusion is in “Force of Law,” where he argues that we should never simply identify the law with justice, or, to put it a bit differently, never identify our laws with The Law. One could build a rather strong case for such a thesis from the Prophets, Jesus, and Paul. No?” (Introduction xxiv)

“My aim is to provide Christians with a way of understanding Derrida that does justice both to his own thinking in its own terms, and to the Bible in its. Although I hope my analyses and interpretations will stand for themselves, I perhaps owe the reader at the outset some explanation of my methodology. First, I write as a Christian for a Christian publishing house. Second, I start with the assumption that one must earn the right to critique a position by understanding it and being able to express it in a way that its adherents will be happy to own and endorse as correct. It is the important principle of audi alteram partem: listen to the other side. In terms of understanding a philosopher’s writing, this means that until we have understood not only what position someone holds, but also the reasons why he holds it—or, in other words, why that person finds his position attractive—we have not yet understood it.” (Introduction xxv)

 Key concepts of Derrida:

Logocentrism and Phonocentrism (Chapter 1 p. 5.)

“Logocentrism. A term used by Derrida to describe the traditional Western understanding of truth, according to which an absolute and self-present logos grounds all truth and acts as a transcendental signified. For logocentrism, truth is to be found outside language, and language is a tool that can be thrown away once it has brought us to an immediate understanding of truth.  The “epoch of the logos” (OG, 12) began with Plato’s ideas—fixed, eternal Forms that guaranteed the meaning of the changing and particular entities in the world—and is only now coming to an end.” (130)

“Phonocentrism. A term used by Derrida in OG to describe the Western philosophical privilege for the supposed immediacy of meaning in spoken language over the inferior mode of writing. Writing uses signs (written words), whereas speech is an unmediated expression of the speaker’s thoughts. The Western understanding of truth in general, Derrida argues, rests on this presupposition of immediacy, but it is in fact an illusion.” (131)

Text. “There is Nothing Outside the Text” (Chapter 1 p. 6.)

“Text. A term used by Derrida in phrases such as “there is nothing outside the text” to mean more than written language or books. It means any structure (linguistic, economic, historical, etc.) in which values or meanings circulate and are exchanged. Anything that we experience is always already text because it cannot enter our experience as utterly singular, isolated, and absolutely “other,” but must always already have been brought within the web and circulation of meanings in terms of which we make sense of the world.” (132)

Différance (Chapter 1 p. 11.)

“Différance. For Derrida, the mode of existence of everything that exists. In major strands of traditional Western metaphysics, things exist as isolated atoms, their meanings completely present to our consciousness. Derrida argues that this is a theological illusion and that, rather than being completely present, things exist as always different from themselves and deferred with respect to themselves (the two senses of the French différer). A near-synonym of arche-writing.” (129)

  Two examples of Derrida and Van Til’s thought are similar in Chapter 4:

“Thus far in this section, I have been arguing that Derridean and Van Tilian thought share an aversion to claiming to speak of God in an absolute, brute, or uninterpreted way. There is also a second important resonance between Derrida and Van Til on the subject of brute fact, this time as it pertains to creation. We have already seen that, in Colossians 1, Paul argues that all things were created by Christ and for Christ. This means that all things (including ourselves) are always already interpreted, or, to put it in more Derridean terms, there is “nothing outside” the context of God’s pre-interpretation. The world is not first of all an inert, indifferent, or meaningless environment that God subsequently chooses to infuse with meaning; materiality and meaning are—just like unity and plurality, and just like universality and particularity—of “equal ultimacy” in the biblical account of “all things.” (108)

“Insofar as the claim for there to be something “outside the text” is the claim that such a thing stands as a brute, uninterpreted fact not dependent on or situated within any context that governs its meaning, Derrida’s famous phrase is close to the Van Tilian rejection of the objectivist’s idea of brute facts. While Derrida and Van Til are united here in opposing the objectivist appeal to brute facts, there is of course also a great difference between the two positions. For Van Til, a correct understanding of things is always to interpret them in line with God’s own interpretation, whereas Derrida’s “there is nothing outside the text” results in a radical openness to the meaning of things. Looked at from another angle, though, the difference is not as great as all that. Derrida and Van Til would be quite happy to agree, I think, that, in Van Til’s terms, “The meaning of words derives from the total system of which they form a part” (ICG, 9). They would also agree that we cannot know that total system exhaustively.” (109)

 This chapter has much more interaction with Derrida’s and Van Tilian thought given Watkin’s grasp of both philosopher and theologian. 

 Concerning one of his goal in writing this book, Watkin’s says:

 “I hope that I have done enough in these pages to make at least a plausible case that the future of Reformed scholarship in dialogue with Derrida can be fruitfully pursued in the Van Tilian tradition.” (125)

 The chapters:

 Part 1: Derrida’s Thought

1. What Is Deconstruction? Not Meaninglessness but Openness Logocentrism and Phonocentrism “There Is Nothing Outside the Text” Différance Deconstruction Is Not Just Another Way of Reading

2. Ethics and Politics The “Mystical Foundation of Authority” Not Relativism but Incommensurability “Every Other Is Wholly Other” Language and Violence

3. Theology “I Rightly Pass for an Atheist” The God of Ontotheology Messianicity without Messianism

Part 2: A Reformed Assessment of Derrida’s Thought

4. Derrida and Van Til: A Chapter Waiting to Be Written Frame’s Reformed Readings and Misreadings of Derrida Derrida’s Style and Van Tilian “Epistemological Self-Consciousness”

5. Derrida and Van Til in the Light of John 1:1–18 The Creator-Creature Distinction and “There Is Nothing Outside the Text” Absolute Personality Theism and Ontotheology Trinity, Différance, and “Every Other Is Wholly Other” Accommodation, Language, and Violence Brute Facts, the Transcendental Signified, and Idolatry Gift, Recognition, and Praise Predestination and Messianicity without Messianism Union with Christ and “I Am Just”


 In conclusion:

 Without a doubt, Watkins has accomplished his goal of making Derrida understandable and how Derrida and Van Til’s thought can interact.

 Every pastor and Christian apologist should have to this book and the other book in this series. I highly recommend this book.

 “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)

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      Christopher Watkin, Jacques Derrida, Great Thinkers, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing CO, 2017). pp. xxiv, xxv, 5-6, 11, 108-109, 125, 129-132.      

 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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Bio-Chemical Individuality: towards an understanding of dietary supplements and the categories of essential nutritional needs. A health primer.

Bio-Chemical Individuality: towards an understanding of dietary supplements and the categories of essential nutritional needs. A health primer.                       By Jack Kettler

A myth must be put to rest, which is still very prevalent in our society. That is the myth that dietary supplements are not necessary. Why? First off, can one get all the nutrients needed simply by eating a healthy diet? How many people can eat the five servings of fruits and vegetables per day that are recommended? It is a fact that most people fail to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily. In reality, doing this is an almost impossible time-consuming task. It is therefore vital to recognize that supplementation with top quality dietary supplements may be helpful. The supplementation concept will be defended in this article, and the importance of finding the optimal food sources of essential nutrition.

Unfortunately, for too long, the conventional wisdom from so-called health experts who denied the need for nutritional supplementation is now seen to be nothing more than quackery under the veneer of respectability. Fortunately, a change was coming. The June 19, 2002 volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) contains the “Clinician’s Corner” section that features the Scientific Review and the Clinical Applications, “Vitamins for chronic disease Prevention in Adults.”

From the publication JAMA:

“Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone…It appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.” (1)

The JAMA article is an excellent starting point. Maybe in the future, JAMA will recommend and publish studies regarding the use of other nutritional supplements. When common sense begins to take over, and someone is sure that nutritional supplementation is necessary, questions arise like which supplements, how many, and length of time before having desired results. These questions may involve much research on the inquirer’s part before finding satisfactory answers. It is hoped that the following article will supply the reader with a strategy for an ongoing program of nutritional supplementation.

To begin with, the most critical nutrient for anyone is the one that a person is deficient. As a practical starting point to answer this question in a general way, everyone should be concerned to know if one’s body is getting the required nutrients in each class of the essential nutrient categories. The first goal should be to obtain essential nutrients in our diets. If this is not feasible regarding what supplements, how many, and how long to take a particular supplement should be asked by those seeking to remedy a health issue more challenging to answer. Why is this? Those involved in the nutrition industry are well aware of the phenomena of varying results among supplement users. Some people have seemingly miraculous results, while others have no noticeable changes. Why is this so? It is easy to share the excitement with those who have immediate results with nutritional intervention. What can we say to those who see no change after using the same regiment of nutrients?

Before we can even attempt to answer this question of varying results, a concept called “Biochemical Individuality” will help us understand why different individuals utilize nutrition more efficiently, leading to different results from nutritional consumption. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on this phenomenon of different results among individuals who are using the same supplements and providing a rational basis for continuing a program of nutritional supplementation.

As previously mentioned, some people seem to have immediate results with supplements, and others do not notice anything. It is important to note that noticing or feeling is not necessarily indicative of the effectiveness of nutrition. How many people feel or notice a change when vitamin D is absorbed into the bloodstream and feeds the cells in various places in the body? If one is getting vitamin D through the diet or supplementation and the body is utilizing it efficiently, how can one question the fact that a metabolic process is happening in the body and one may benefit even if it is not noticed outwardly?

The metabolic process may be different for different individuals. Therefore, an understanding of the concept of “biochemical individuality” will also give direction when trying to determine what amount of supplements is right for an individual. It will provide the basis for experimenting with different amounts of nutrients and not being discouraged.

The term “Biochemical Individuality” is the name of a book written by the brilliant biochemist Roger J. Williams in 1956 and republished in 1998. Dr. Williams discovered the vitamins, Pantothenic acid in 1933 and Folic acid in 1941

Dr. Williams explains the “Genetotrophic Concept,” a term, which he created, which is essential to understanding biochemical individuality:

“While the same physical mechanisms and the same metabolic processes are operating in all human bodies, the structures are sufficiently diverse and the genetically determined enzyme efficiencies vary sufficiently from individual to individual so that the sum total of all the reactions taking place in one individual’s body may be very different from those taking place in the body of another individual of the same age, sex, and body size.” (2)

“Although every nutritionally important mineral, amino acid, and vitamin is needed by every individual, it follows – if biochemical individuality exists – that the needs are quantitatively distinctive for each individual.” (3)

“It may be stated as follows: Every individual organism that has a distinctive genetic background has distinctive nutritional needs which must be met for optimal wellbeing.” (4) (Emphasis mine)

In other words, each individual also has unique and distinctive nutritional needs, which means some individuals may need higher levels of nutrients than others may. Determining and meeting those needs will give the body a fighting chance to combat health issues naturally.

The concept of nutritional individuality can also be explained by showing how human physiological differences are known to be both outward and internal.

We are individuals who are unique and different from everyone else. One’s body appearance, though in many ways the same, is also quite different from others. Individuals do not all look the same. There are both outward and inward differences. The inward differences are just as striking as our outward differences. Everyone has the same vital body organs. However, all stomachs are not the same size, nor are their hearts and other internal organs. They come in all shapes and sizes.

An individual’s intestinal lining may be different or even malformed, thus hindering critical nutrients’ absorption into the bloodstream. If this is the case, the individual may need more of certain nutrients to get the necessary cellular support. In addition, as Dr. Williams has shown in his book mentioned book above, an individual’s internal composition and comprised of the different organ shapes and sizes are factors, plus an individual’s enzymic functions, excretion patterns, and endocrine activities are involved and can have a substantial impact on individual nutritional needs.

Biochemically speaking, individuals have differing nutritional needs. As a side note, when the government puts out the recommended daily nutritional allowances (RDAs), these figures for some people may have no relationship to reality. Unfortunately, as Dr. Williams has argued, there may not be such a thing as usual or average nutritional requirements.

Summarizing his laboratory experiments, Dr. Williams says:

“It is worthy of note, however, that these experiments give strong corroboration of the central idea of this chapter, namely, (1) each human individual has quantitatively a distinctive pattern of nutritional needs, (2) from individual to individual, specific needs may vary several fold, and (3) important deficiencies may exist which have not been discoverable clinically by observing acute outward symptoms.” (5) (Emphasis mine)

Therefore, to summarize Dr. William’s research, each person has unique or distinctive nutritional needs. Furthermore, not every person starts at the same place when considering cellular health. Unfortunately, for some individuals, many processes leading to bad health have begun to take a toll, and they need to nourish the body in such a way as to provide the nutrients needed for the body’s immune system repair functions. The endocrine, digestive, and elimination systems of our bodies also need to have care.

In other words, one may need more than a daily maintenance amount of nutrients. It should also be noted that the government’s RDAs should not be confused with nutritional requirements. These guidelines are helpful and a good starting place when looking into where to start when analyzing one’s nutritional picture. The RDAs criteria were developed for healthy people with no known illness or deficiency problems.

The challenge of nutritional science is to find ways to identify an individual’s unique needs. What we do know is that there are four main classes of essential nutrients. Listed below are the four main groups of nutrients with brief descriptions of their role in the body. Some familiar food sources are also listed. In addition, there are other vital nutrients such as phytohormones or plant sterols, a unique group of antioxidants, and other immune system support nutrients.

An individual will have to determine if they are deficient in any of these nutrients and then take steps to correct the problem. A task like this is not necessarily easy. With that said, this task does not have to be seen as daunting. Dr. William’s books are an excellent place to start this quest to determine unique individual nutritional needs.

A survey of the different categories of essential nutrition:

1. Monosaccharides:

What are they? Monosaccharides arenatural plant sugars. Eight have been identified as essential to optimal cellular needs and are utilized by the body in the battle against health issues. Monosaccharides are the newest class of recognized essential nutrients.

Glycosylation can be described as the course of action, which involves the essential monosaccharides and is the beginning and end of cellular health without exception! In fact, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review, February 2003, “If you don’t have glycosylation, you don’t have life.” Glycosylation is adding a polysaccharide (chain of sugars) to a polypeptide (chain of amino acids) to make a glycoprotein. Each of the essential biologically active sugars is needed by the body to make specific glycoproteins that coat every cell surface in our body, enabling the immune system to function by creating the cellular antenna on each cell surface. These cell surface antennas allow the cells to communicate with each other using a unique cellular alphabet.

Because of the importance of the glycosylation process and the role monosaccharides play in this process, many doctors, health practitioners, and nutritionists are now calling monosaccharide technology the “operating system” of the human body. This is why this category is listed first.

The Eight Monosaccharides:

  • Glucose provides a potent fast-energy source, enhances memory and stimulates calcium absorption, and can be found in many fruits and vegetables, sorghum, dates, raisins, and pineapples.
  • Galactose enhances wound healing, increases calcium absorption, and triggers long-term memory formation, and is found in milk.
  • Mannose is vital to proper cellular function and positively affects the body’s immune response to pathogens. Mannose may also have anti-inflammatory and blood-sugar-lowering capabilities and can be found in seeds, plant saps, cacti, and aloe.
  • Fucose plays a vital role in developing a healthy immune response in infants and can be found in flaxseed, gum, algae, and certain seaweeds.
  • Xylose like other essential saccharides, xylose helps fight microbial invaders such as fungus and bacteria and may support weak immune systems. It has been featured in allergy nasal spray products due to its ability to discourage allergens’ binding to mucous membranes and can be found in husks of grains, such as wheat, rye oat, and barley.
  • N-acetylglucosamine can be very helpful for the proper maintenance of joints and can reverse or prevent cartilage and joint damage and inflammation and is found in some seeds and plant saps.
  • N-acetylgalactosamine plays a vital role in promoting proper function of and communication between cells. There is evidence that it can help improve the immune system and is found in milk.
  • N-acetylneuraminic acid can significantly influence a newborn’s immune and nervous systems and is found in milk.

These eight monosaccharides have been identified in “Harper’s Biochemistry,” chapter 56, of the 1996 and following editions. Only two, glucose and galactose, are common in the modern diet.

A combination of green harvesting, processing, over-cooking of foods, and different eating habits account for the loss of these vital nutrients from the modern diet. If lacking any of these necessary sugars, it is prudent to supplement the missing ones. There is an ongoing scholarly debate regarding a healthy individual’s body and its ability to manufacture the missing ones from the two still common in our diets.

In regards to glycosylation, it should be noted that some cells are replaced in the body daily. Other cells are replaced weekly, monthly, and in the case of bone cells, may take a year or more to be replaced with new ones. The glycosylation process is ongoing, does not happen overnight, and has the utmost bearing on the question of how long someone should supplement.

It should be noted that it is impossible to know which cells will receive the necessary requirement of monosaccharides or how many cells will get the monosaccharides they need. The cells that die are being replaced by cells, which also need to be glycosylated, and one may or may not have sufficient monosaccharides available at that moment to get that job done.

Many glycoproteins have a short life of 10 days or less. Keeping the body supplied with an adequate amount of monosaccharides seems prudent to be used for the new glycoprotein synthesis process. It is also important to note that monosaccharide absorption, which is the beginning of the glycosylation process, depends on the necessary enzyme, vitamin, and mineral co-factors. Having the necessary co-factors is of enormous importance. If one does not have the necessary co-factors, the vital nutrients will simply pass through the body and be eliminated in the waste.

2. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs):

In biochemistry, a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid or organic acid with a long aliphatic tail, either saturated or unsaturated. Most of the natural fatty acids have an even number of carbon atoms because they are made up of acetate, which has two carbon atoms.

  • Omega-3 or Alpha-Linolenic Acid (LNA) is an essential fatty acid (EFA), which means that it is essential to human health and cannot be manufactured by the body. For this reason, Omega 3 fatty acids must be obtained from food. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in fish and certain plant oils.
  • Omega 6 or Linoleic Acid (LA) is an EFA, cannot be made by humans, and is considered essential in the diet. Omega 6 is found in cereals, eggs, poultry, oils, whole-grain bread.
  • Omega-9 or Oleic Acid is essential but technically not an EFA because the human body can manufacture a limited amount, provided the essential LNA and LA EFAs are present. Oleic acid lowers heart attack risk and arteriosclerosis and aids in the prevention of numerous health issues. It is found in olive oil (virgin cold-pressed), olives, avocados, almonds, peanuts, sesame oil, pecans, pistachio nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts.

It is vital to maintain a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in the diet as these two fatty acids work together to promote health. It should be noted that usually, there is far more Omega 6 in the modern diet.

3. Amino Acids:

Eight are essential of 22 known amino acids. Amino acids have been called the “building blocks” of the body. They help in building cells and repairing tissue. In addition, they form antibodies to combat invading bacteria and viruses. They carry oxygen throughout the body and participate in muscle activity.The eight essential are:

  • Isoleucineprovides elements required for the manufacturing of essential biochemical components in the body, which are utilized to produce energy, stimulates the upper brain, and helps one mentally alert. They can be found in eggs, fish, lentils, poultry, beef, seeds, soy, wheat, almonds, and dairy.
  • Leucine also provides ingredients for manufacturing essential biochemical components in the body, which are utilized of energy, stimulates the upper brain, and help one be mentally alert. They can be found in cottage cheese, sesame seeds, peanuts, dry lentils, chicken, and fish.
  • Lysineensures the adequate absorption of calcium and helps form collagen, which makes up bone cartilage and connective tissues and aids in the production of antibodies, hormones, and enzymes. They can be found in food sources such as green beans, lentils, soybean, spinach, and amaranth.
  • Methionine is a principle supplier of sulfur, which prevents maladies of hair, skin, and nails. It helps lower cholesterol levels by increasing the liver’s production of lecithin, reduces liver fat, and protects the kidneys. They are found in fish, whole grains, and dairy.
  • Phenylalanine is used by the brain to produce Norepinephrine, a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells and the brain; keeps you awake and alert. It reduces hunger pains, functions as an antidepressant, and improves memory. Phenylalanine is found in dairy products, almonds, avocados, lima beans, peanuts, and seeds.
  • Threonine is a vital component of collagen and enamel protein. It helps prevents fat build-up in the liver. It also helps the digestive, and intestinal tracts function more smoothly, assists metabolism assimilation. Threonine is found in dairy products, beef, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • Tryptophan is a natural relaxant and helps ease insomnia by inducing normal sleep. It reduces anxiety and depression; helps in the treatment of migraine headaches. It is known to help reduce the risk of artery and heart spasms and works with Lysine in reducing cholesterol levels, and is plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey, and peanuts.
  • Valine promotes mental vigor, muscle coordination, and calms emotions and is found in dairy products, grain, meat, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy proteins.

We get most of the amino acids from food. If we lack any of the essential ones, they must be supplied through supplementation. The others are non-essential, which means the body can manufacture them with proper nutritional intake. Remember that adding a polysaccharide (chain of sugars) to a polypeptide (chain of amino acids) is essential to make a glycoprotein. Monosaccharides and amino acids are without question vital for optimal health.

Amino Acid deficiency can be manifested as a weak immune system, fatigue, stomach acid or alkaline imbalance, dizziness and nausea, water retention, and infertility.

4. Vitamins and Minerals:

A vitamin is any group of organic substances, which are essential for metabolism and for physiological growth and development. Vitamins are co-factors, and are necessary for the proper functioning of an enzyme.

Vitamins and minerals are needed in the body for several important processes, including:

  • The growth and repair of body tissues
  • As co-factors in enzyme metabolic reactions
  • For oxygen transfer and oxidative metabolism
  • Support immune function
  • Work as antioxidants
  • Vitamins regulate metabolic processes.
  • Control cellular functions

Essential Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A plays a significant role in the functioning and quality of the body’s immune system, especially the body’s skin and mucus membranes. It can be found in green, yellow, and orange vegetables, cantaloupes, apricots, and sweet potatoes.
  • Vitamin B and Complexes: B1, B2, B6, and B12. The B vitamins help the body to convert food to energy. They break up the proteins and fats that make the nervous system run efficiently. They help keep the eyes, hair, and skin healthy, and maintain mental functioning, and support muscle tone and oral health. They can be found in bananas, meats, poultry, fish, potatoes, broccoli, grains, eggs, and milk.
  • Vitamin C plays a vital role in wound healing, and the rebuilding of tissues and can be found in citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and green or red peppers, and broccoli.
  • Vitamin D helps to ensure calcium absorption and is especially important in bone development and strength and is supplied from fish, liver, and egg yolks.
  • Vitamin E has a role in the repair of DNA and in the body’s natural immune system and is found in seeds, nuts, seafood, eggs, and oils.
  • Vitamin K is vital for blood clotting and can be found in cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables, cereals, soybeans.

Essential Minerals:

Minerals are inorganic and are essential, acting as the necessary co-factors for many enzymes. Enzymes would not function without minerals. Minerals help the body organize the molecular construction of the cells and membrane. The fourteen minerals necessary for life are:

  • Phosphorus is best known for its role in the creation of bones and teeth and is found in whole grain cereals, milk, fish, and vegetables.
  • Copper acts as a co-factor for many enzymes and vitamins and is found in oysters and other shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, and organ meats.
  • Manganese works in the digestive system by breaking down foods through digestion into a form that the body can use and is found in whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables, and teas.
  • Selenium is especially important in the body’s battle against free radical damage and is found in brown rice, chicken, wheat, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tuna, and eggs.
  • Zinc serves many vital purposes since approximately one hundred enzymes rely on zinc presence to be effective in their specialized tasks and is found in beef, pork, and lamb.
  • Calcium is also vital in the prevention of incapacitating bone problems, such as osteoporosis and is found in milk and milk products such as yogurt, cheese tofu, broccoli, and orange juice.
  • Iron promotes the important functioning of the body’s immune system, particularly in the production of the white blood cells, which are essential to combating infection and numerous health issues. It is found in red meats, seafood, and fish apricots, and beans.
  • Phosphorus has a role in the working of the body’s muscular system and is found in dairy products, egg yolks, meat, poultry, fish, and legumes.
  • Sodium has a vital role in the circulatory system and is found in meats, nut, grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Iodine plays a role in the body’s basic metabolism levels and processes because of its influence on the thyroid’s activities and is found in salmon, tuna, and seaweed.
  • Potassium promotes the growth and health of cells, particularly through its importance in waste product removal and to enhance muscle control and is found in milk, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Magnesium is required by more than 300 biochemical processes in the human body, such as the body’s most fundamental structures and systems, from the bones to the heart, and is found in spinach, almonds, barley, and Brazil nuts.
  • Choline is necessary for growth and nerve and kidney function and is found in lecithin, beef liver, beef heart, egg yolks, wheat germ, cauliflower, cucumber, and peanuts.
  • Molybdenum protects against tooth decay, is necessary for metabolism, and is found in green beans, wheat germ, and spinach.

Phytoestrogens, the most important Phytohormones:

Phytoestrogens are compounds that occur naturally in plants and, under certain circumstances, can have actions like human estrogen. Phytoestrogens are commonly found in foods such as beans, cabbage, soybeans, and grain. These nutrients help support communication among the body’s organs. They have been shown to support the body’s well-being against heart problems and weak immune systems.

  • Saponins; are the most important being diosgenin, which comes from the wild yam root of the Dioscorea plant.
  • Isoflavones are found abundantly in legumes or beans.
  • Lignins are found in seeds, particularly in flaxseed.

The Best Known Antioxidants:

Antioxidants are involved in the prevention of cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms with an abnormal number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with specific molecules. They can do immense damage when they react with important cellular machinery such as DNA or the cell coverings. The body’s defense system utilizes antioxidants.

The best currently known antioxidants are:

  • Quercetin is both fat and water-soluble. It helps reduce inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and supports the heart, and is found in apples, onions, parsley, and red wine.
  • Grape skin extract is water-soluble and is known to protect the body against weak immune systems, and heart problems.
  • Green tea is water-soluble and is known to help the liver and stop infections by supporting the immune system.
  • Bush plum is water-soluble, and has the highest known concentration of vitamin C, and helps the body repair tissue and the healing of wounds found in the Australian Bush Plum.

Colostrum and Lactoferrin:

Colostrum, or the mother’s first milk and is an important immune system builder.

Consider how significant a lack of colostrum can be:

“If a calf, foal, puppy, etc. experiences difficulties at birth and is unable to nurse for 12 to 18 it will probably die. This is due to the re-absorption of immuno-factors by the mother.” (6)

Lactoferrin is known to be a biologically active glycoprotein and helps activate the immune system and benefits intestinal cell health.

Essential Enzymes and human needs:

First, an enzyme is a protein that catalyzes or speeds up a chemical reaction in the body. Enzymes are digestive agents that break down food particles into molecules that can then be absorbed through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream.

Secondly, enzymes require companions or helper molecules in order to operate. They are called co-factors. A co-factor is a substance that needs to be present with the enzyme for a specific reaction to take place. The term co-factor can refer to either an inorganic molecule that works with enzymes or organic molecules. It should be noted that some enzymes specifically require organic molecules (vitamins) to function correctly, and others require inorganic molecules (minerals) to function correctly. They are both called co-factors because they help carry pieces of molecules to different places in the body via the bloodstream.

If the companion molecule is an organic vitamin, then the companion is called a co-enzyme. The word co-enzyme refers to an organic molecule or a vitamin. A co-enzyme is a functional and necessary part of an enzyme.

Digestive enzymes come from food sources such as sprouts, papaya, pineapples, avocados, bananas, and mangos. Enzymes are manufactured internally in our bodies by the digestive system, which secretes them into the saliva, stomach, pancreas, and intestines.

There are six main divisions or groups of enzymes. Within each class of enzymes, there are many more.

The Six Groups:

  • Hydrolases are needed to break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fat molecules into their simplest forms.
  • Isomerasebreaks down chemical groups within molecules. Note: this enzyme is needed to help attach galactose (a monosaccharide) to the bodily cells,
  • Ligases bring about the unification of two different molecules.
  • Lyasessplit the double bonds between atoms within certain chemical groups.
  • Oxidoreductases facilitate oxidation and reduction within a wide range of biological processes.
  • Transferase, as the name implies, transfer chemical groups from one molecule to another.

What happens if one is deficient in one or more critical enzymes? Alternatively, if the necessary nutritional co-factors are missing, the enzymes cannot assist in the digestive process. On the other hand, the enzyme may be missing the needed co-enzyme. Enzyme deficiency is known to cause heart problems, joint pain, obesity, and many other health problems because of the nutritional loss due to this deficiency. The importance of essential enzyme activity has been seriously overlooked in the field of nutritional science. There are a number of good enzyme supplements available in the marketplace.

Concluding thoughts on dietary supplements and how nutrition is turned into new cells:

The information supplied in this article will help the reader with some directions when trying to answer the question regarding the right supplements and food sources and how much of each particular supplement is needed by the body to feed or supply its necessary nutritional needs.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers for each individual’s unique requirements. It would be wonderful if there were a nutritional body scanner that could answer this question. The doctor could then tell the individual if one needed extra vitamin B or more amino acids. Short of waiting for this machine to be invented, it seems prudent to adhere to a well-balanced diet consisting of foods as close to their raw state as possible. Maintaining a regime of essential nutrients and a proper exercise program, coupled with plenty of rest, drinking clean water, and breathing clean air will help develop a healthy, active lifestyle.

Again, it needs to be asked, what happens if one is deficient in one or more of the essential monosaccharides, amino acids, vital dietary enzymes, or vitamins, and minerals? Will the glycosylation or other metabolic processes break down if an individual lacks in their unique required nutritional needs?

Unless there are unique factors that require a doctor’s analysis and recommendation, it is vital to take enough of a supplement and take them long enough. Like the ongoing glycosylation process, all cells need vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and enzymes supplied in the diet or by supplementation to live. This is an ongoing, lifelong sustaining process. In other words, the body needs to be nourished.

Nutritional supplements are not drugs. They must be thought of differently. Approaching nutrition like drugs is a mistake. One should not be looking for an overnight quick fix. Nourishing the bodies through proper diet and nutritional supplementation is entirely different. It is a lifestyle or way of life. Eating is necessary to live. It has been said, “We are what we eat.” Therefore, it must be evaluated if our food intake is truly nourishment and not merely empty calories devoid of nutritional content.

Finally, some people ask when they would be able to stop taking a supplement. This question is a tip-off that the individual is approaching a nutritional supplement like a drug. To make a point, what happens if one is deficient in one or more of the essential vitamins and minerals? Beriberi, pellagra, rickets, and scurvy are well known nutritional deficiencies. Suppose one had the symptoms of scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency). It be wise to take a vitamin C supplement until the symptoms disappeared and then stop or make sure that one is continuing to get enough vitamin C through your diet or a supplement for the rest of their life.

In review, one of the ways the structure and function of cells are determined is the nature of nutrition supplied into the body. Nutrition is the raw material that goes into the ongoing creation of new cellular structures. For this process to happen correctly, an individual needs to have vital nutrition in the body. When ingested in the body, nutrition is broken down into micronutrients, which become the building blocks or parts used in the making of the cells in one’s body.

All of the recognized groups of nutrition are vital for improving cellular structure and function by supporting the body’s physiological functions of repair, regeneration, and other immune defense mechanisms. In other words, the body repairs itself, and nutrition provides the molecules necessary to accomplish this. When this happens, these are not drug effects. It is normal physiology. In other words, the biochemistry of the body is being changed nutritionally, and because of this, no claim is being made that nutritional products treat, cure, or mitigate disease. In short, when the body has the correct nutrition supplied, the structure of the new cells will be normal, and they will function correctly.

Nutrition is essential because it supplies critically needed raw material for your body’s metabolism processes. Live a healthy lifestyle, nourish the body with the best foods, and find the best supplements for the body by giving it the tools needed to repair and correct itself! In other words, give the body a fighting chance! Support the immune, endocrine, digestive, and elimination systems of the body and do not let health issues get the upper hand. Be proactive when it comes to health!

The Bible and Nutrition:

“The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:12)

“Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.’” (Genesis 1:29)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains this passage:

“Every herb bearing seed and tree bearing fruit is granted to man for his sustenance. With our habits it may seem a matter of course that each should at once appropriate what he needs of things at his hand. But in the beginning of existence it could not be so. Of two things proceeding from the same creative hand neither has any original or inherent right to interfere in any way whatever with the other. The absolute right to each lies in the Creator alone. The one, it is true, may need the other to support its life, as fruit is needful to man. And therefore the just Creator cannot make one creature dependent for subsistence on another without granting to it the use of that other. But this is a matter between Creator and creature, not by any means between creature and creature. Hence, it was necessary to the rightful adjustment of things, whenever a rational creature was ushered into the world, that the Creator should give an express permission to that creature to partake of the fruits of the earth. And in harmony with this view we shall hereafter find an exception made to this general grant Genesis 2:17. Thus, we perceive, the necessity of this formal grant of the use of certain creatures to moral and responsible man lies deep in the nature of things. And the sacred writer here hands down to us from the mists of a hoary antiquity the primitive deed of conveyance, which lies at the foundation of the common property of man in the earth, and all that it contains.

The whole vegetable world is assigned to the animals for food. In the terms of the original grant the herb bearing seed and the tree bearing fruit are especially allotted to man, because the grain and the fruit were edible by man without much preparation. As usual in Scripture the chief parts are put for the whole, and accordingly this specification of the ordinary and the obvious covers the general principle that whatever part of the vegetable kingdom is convertible into food by the ingenuity of man is free for his use. It is plain that a vegetable diet alone is expressly conceded to man in this original conveyance, and it is probable that this alone was designed for him in the state in which he was created. But we must bear in mind that he was constituted master of the animal as well as of the vegetable world; and we cannot positively affirm that his dominion did not involve the use of them for food.” (7)

“Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.” (Genesis 9:3)

“Then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.” (Leviticus 26:4)

“You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; you greatly enrich it; the stream of God is full of water; you prepare their grain, for thus you prepare the earth.” (Psalm 65:9)

“He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth.” (Psalm 104:14)

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13)

“But as for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself; you shall eat it according to the number of the days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days.” (Ezekiel 4:9)

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.” (1 Timothy 4:4)         

Wisdom through the ages:

“All that mankind needs for good health and healing is provided by God in nature… the challenge to science is to find it.” – Paracelsus, the father of Pharmacology

“Doctors are men who prescribe medicine of which they know little to cure diseases of which they know less in human beings of which they know nothing.” – Voltaire

“Let your food be your medicine, let your medicine be your food.” – Hippocrates 320 BC

“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use, when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” – Ancient Ayurvedic Proverb

“A dietary deficiency cannot be corrected with drugs or anything else, only the missing nutrients.” – Anonymous

In closing:

A healthy diet from optimal food sources is of the utmost importance. Nutritional products are vital for improving cellular structure and function by supporting the physiological functions of repair, regeneration, and other immune defense mechanisms of the body. The body heals itself and nutrition provides the molecules necessary to accomplish this. When this happens, this is not a drug effect, it is normal physiology, in other words, the biochemistry of the body is being changed nutritionally and because of this, no claim is being made that nutritional products treat cure, or mitigate disease.

Mr. Kettler is a Certified Wellness Consultant (DSHEA Certified) (Diplomat in Nutritional Education and Health)

Extended Bio

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

Disclaimer: The information in this article should not be considered a substitute for a doctor’s care or advice.


  1. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults, JAMA 2002; 287:3116
  2. Roger J. Williams, Biochemical Individuality, (New Canaan, Connecticut, Keats Publishing, Reprint 1998) p. 189.
  3. Williams, p. 189.
  4. Ibid, p. 190.
  5. Ibid, p. 184.
  6.  Beth M. Ley, Colostrum & Lactoferrin, (Detroit Lakes, MN, BL Publications, 2000) pp. 45, 46.
  7. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Genesis, Vol. 1. p. 71-72.

This article was originally written in 2005 and now updated in 2020.

Recommended Reading:

Roger J. Williams, Biochemical Individuality, (New Canaan, Connecticut, Keats Publishing Reprint 1998).

Roger J. Williams, The Wonderful World Within You, (Wichita, Kansas, Bio Communications Press, Revised edition republished 1998).

Roger J. Williams, Nutrition Against Disease, (New York, Pitman Publishing Corporation, 1971).

Roger J. Williams, Physicians Handbook Of nutritional Science, (Springfield, Illinois, Thomas Books 1975).

Anthony J. Cichoke, The Complete Book Of Enzyme Therapy, (New York, Avery, 1999).

Robert Ronzio, The Encyclopedia of nutrition and Good Health, (New York. Facts On File Inc., 2003).

Beth M. Ley, Colostrum & Lactoferrin, (Detroit Lakes, MN, BL Publications, 2000).

Lester Packer and Carol Colman, The Antioxidant Miracle, (New York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1999).

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Death and Dying, What Happens at Death?

Death and Dying, What Happens at Death?                                                   By Jack Kettler

What Happens at Death? Death is one of the most certain realities: “it is appointed for men to die once.” (Hebrews 9:27)

There is a discipline called thanatology that started during the 20th Century. Thanatology can be defined as the scientific study of death and the practices associated with it, including the review of the needs of the terminally ill and their families.

Thanatology, as defined, has overlapped with biblical pastoral counseling. Christian colleges offer training and certification in this area. The word thanatology comes from the Greek “thanatos,” which means death. It is good to understand the promises we see in Scripture on death and dying to increase our hope in the final resting place of believers.

Scriptures that are relevant about the death of the saints in the Lord:

God speaking to Moses:

“Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.” (Deuteronomy 32:50 NASB)

What does gathered to his people mean?

From Brown-Driver-Briggs we learn:

“אָסַף200 verb gather, remove (Assyrian asâpu, DlPr 45) —

Qal Perfect אָסַף Genesis 30:23 +; אָסַפְתָּ Psalm 85:4, etc.; Imperfect יֶּאֱסֹף 2 Kings 5:3; יַאַסְפֵנִי Psalm 27:10, etc.; also וַיֹּסֶף 2 Samuel 6:1; 2masculine singular תֹּסֵף Psalm 104:29; 1singular אֹסְפָה Micah 4:6; so probably (suffix) אִֹ˜ספְךָ 1 Samuel 15:6 (read אֹסִפְךָ) see Köi. 382 DrSm; Imperative אֱסֹף Numbers 21:16 + אֶסְפָה Numbers 11:16; 2feminine singular אִסְמִּי Jeremiah 10:17; אִסְפוּ Psalm 50:5 +; Infinitive absolute אָסֹף Jeremiah 8:13 + (Hiph`il, from סוף according to BaNB 73); construct אֱסֹף 2 Kings 5:7 +; אָסְמְּךָ Exodus 23:16; אָסְמְּכֶם Leviticus 23:39; Participle active אֹסֵף Numbers 19:10; אֹסִפְךָ 2 Kings 22:20; 2Chronicles 34:28 (pointed אִֹ˜ספְךָ i.e. Hiph`il; compare Köl.c.); אֹסְפָם Psalm 39:7; passive plural construct אֲסֻפֵי Ezekiel 34:29;

1 gather, collect (a) persons Genesis 29:22; Genesis 42:17 (followed by אֶלֿ) Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:29; Numbers 11:16,24; Numbers 21:16; Joshua 2:18 (followed by אֶלֿ + הֿ locative) Joshua 24:1 (followed by הֿ locative; all these J E); 1 Samuel 5:8,11; 2 Kings 23:1 (followed by אֶלֿ) Joshua 2:16; Isaiah 11:12; Zephaniah 3:8; Habakkuk 2:5; Ezekiel 11:17 (all “” קבץ) +; collect men, people, armies, etc., for fighting Numbers 21:23 (E) Judges 11:20; 1 Samuel 17:1; 2 Samuel 10:17; 2 Samuel 12:29 +; compare Zechariah 14:2 (followed by עַלֿ against); (b) once object beasts Jeremiah 12:9; (c) things, especially fruits ofearth Exodus 23:10,16 (Cov’t code) Leviticus 25:3,20,39 (H) Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 16:13; Deuteronomy 28:38; Isaiah 17:5; Jeremiah 40:10,12; Job 39:12; Psalm 39:7; compare Ruth 2:7 (“” לקט glean); the quails Numbers 11:32 (twice in verse); food in General (מַאֲכָל) Genesis 6:21 (followed by אֶלֿ); eggs Isaiah 10:14; money 2 Kings 22:4; 2Chronicles 24:11; ashes of red heifer Numbers 19:9,10; chariots 1 Kings 10:26; 2Chronicles 1:14, etc.; of fisherman (בְּמִכְמַרְתּוֺ, in metaphor) Habakkuk 1:15; of collecting wind Proverbs 30:4 מִי רֿוּחַ בְּחָפְנָיו׳א.

2 gather an individual into company of others: (a) object person especially gather to one’s father 2 Kings 22:20 (עַלאֲֿבֹתֶיךָ) = 2 Chronicles 34:28 (אֶלֿ; both “” Niph`al of same verb q. v. ); hence also (b) bring, object person 1 Samuel 14:52 (on form here see Dr) 2 Samuel 11:27 (both followed by אֶלֿ), association, responsibility, protection being implied; also of stray ox or sheep Deuteronomy 22:2 (followed by אֶלתּֿוֺח); hence also (c) take up, care for, subject ׳י Psalm 27:10 (compare perhaps Isaiah 40:11 קבץ); (d) draw up the feet upon the bed (אֶלֿ) Genesis 49:33.” (1)

As the lexicon notes, “gather an individual into the company of others.” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all were gathered to their people. Who are their people? God called Abraham or (Abram) out of Ur of the Chaldees, see Genesis 11:27-12:9. In Abraham’s case, many or all of his relatives were pagans. God called Abraham out of Ur and set him apart from his bloodline relatives. Were his bloodline relatives “his people” that he “was gathered to” that is referred to in the Deuteronomy passage? The answer must be no to this question. Whom was Moses gathered to?  

The people Moses were gathered to must be the redeemed saints in the Old Testament that are now with the Lord in Heaven. Moses died on Mount Nebo. The relatives of Moses people did not die there. In the case of Aaron, he died on Mount Hor. Moses and Aaron died on two different mountains. So, gathered to his people cannot mean the physical grave. There are too many graves in different locations. Therefore, both Moses and Aaron were gathered to their people, the saints, in heaven.

In Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible in Deuteronomy 32:50, we see why this gathering place must be heaven:

“And die in the mount whither thou goest up, … Immediately after having taken a view of the land, expect to die, prepare for it, and willingly and cheerfully submit to it:

and be gathered unto thy people; to the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven, his more immediate and more remote ancestors, the souls of good men; for otherwise there were none that died, and were buried here, before him, and therefore can have no respect to the burying place of his people.” (2)

Gill makes the case that this gathering place must be heaven since both Moses and Aaron were buried in two different mountains.

What about Abraham’s Bosom? Can this explain, “Gathered unto thy people”?

As a necessary aside from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:


booz’-um (kolpos Abraam; kolpoi Abraam):

Figurative. The expression occurs in Luke 16:22, 23, in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, to denote the place of repose to which Lazarus was carried after his death. The figure is suggested by the practice of the guest at a feast reclining on the breast of his neighbor. Thus, John leaned on the breast of Jesus at supper (John 21:20). The rabbis divided the state after death (Sheol) into a place for the righteous and a place for the wicked (see ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; SHEOL), but it is doubtful whether the figure of Jesus quite corresponds with this idea. “Abraham’s bosom” is not spoken of as in “Hades,” but rather as distinguished from it (Luke 16:23)–a place of blessedness by itself. There Abraham receives, as at a feast, the truly faithful, and admits them to closest intimacy. It may be regarded as equivalent to the “Paradise” of Luke 23:43. James Orr” (3)

Abraham’s Bosom must be understood figuratively. Jesus’ use of the term was intended to convey comfort just like his Words to the thief on the cross about “Paradise.” Therefore, “Abraham’s Bosom” and “Paradise” must be equivalents.

Going on in the survey of passages about the death of the saints:

“Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!” (Numbers 23:10 ESV)

According to this passage in Numbers, the death of the upright is to be desired. Interesting, this prophecy about Israel is confirmed by Balaam who is speaking.

As John Gill notes regarding this passage about the death of the upright:

“‘the death of the true ones,’

who are truly righteous and upright, truly gracious persons; who have the truth of grace, and the root of the matter in them: these die as well as others, yet their death is different from others, not in the thing itself, but in the concomitants and consequences of it; they die in the Lord, in union to him, in faith of him, in hope of eternal life by him, and their death is precious to him; and in consequence of this they are carried by angels to glory at death are immediately in heaven with Christ, and it will be well with them to all eternity. Balaam had some notion of this; and though he did not care to live the life of such, he wished to die their death, or that he might be as happy at death as they; by which he bears a testimony to the immortality of the soul, to a future state after death, and to an eternal life and happiness to be enjoyed by good men.” (4)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 ESV)

Because God is with us in the valley of the shadow of death, we do not have to fear.

“For this God is our God forever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48:14 KJV)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Psalm 48:14 is edifying:

“For this God is our God for ever and ever, Who is spoken of throughout the whole psalm as greatly to be praised, as well as is known in Zion, as the stability, security, and protection of her. This is said as pointing unto him as if visible, as Christ is God manifest in the flesh, now in Gospel times, to which this psalm belongs; as distinguishing him from all others, from the gods of the Gentiles, rejected by the people of God; as claiming an interest in him as their covenant God; as exulting in the view of such relation to him; as suggesting how happy they were on this account; and especially since this relation will always continue, being founded in an everlasting covenant, and arising from the unchangeable love of God;

he will be our guide, even unto death; the Lord orders the steps of the righteous, holds them by the right hand, and guides them with his counsel and in judgment: Christ, the great Shepherd of the flock, feeds them, as the antitype of David, according to the integrity of his heart, and guides them by the skilfulness of his hands; he guides their feet in the ways of peace, life, and salvation, by himself; he leads them into green pastures, beside the still waters, and unto fountains of living waters: the Spirit of the Lord leads them to the fulness of Christ; guides them into all truth, as it is in him; directs them into his and his Father’s love, and leads them on to the land of uprightness. And this guide is an everlasting one; “even unto death”, or “in death”, or “above death” (k); so as not to be hurt of the second death. He guides not only to the brink of Jordan’s river, but through the deep waters of it, and never leaves till he has landed them safe on the shores of eternity: and some, as Aben Ezra, render the word as if it was “for ever”; and others, as Abendana observes, render it “secretly”; the Lord sometimes leading his people in ways dark and hidden to them: and others give the sense of it, “as in the days of youth”; that is, God is the guide of his people in old age as in youth; he is always their guide, and ever will be: to which sense incline R. Moses in Aben Ezra, others in Kimchi and Abendana, and as also Jarchi and the Chaldee paraphrase; but Kimchi and Ben Melech render it as we do, “unto death”, or “unto our death”.” (5)

This comforting promise from Psalm 48 is personal to us when Gill says; “unto our death” God will be our guide.

The Psalmist continues:

“Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15 KJV)

“A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1 KJV)

Entering into the New Testament, we read:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 ESV)

Mourning is part of a grieving process for our loved ones who die. Comfort shall come!

“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 KJV)  

These words of comfort to the repentant thief bring comfort to all the faithful.

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26 KJV)

“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8 ESV)

As Paul notes, if we die, “we are the Lord’s.” As we see in the next passage from 2Corinthians, if we die, we are at home with the Lord.

“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2Corinthians 5:8 ESV)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible captures this great hope of Christians perfectly:

“We are confident – 2Corinthians 5:6. We are cheerful, and courageous, and ready to bear our trial. Tyndale renders it: “we are of good comfort.”

And willing rather to be absent from the body – We would prefer to die. The same idea occurs in Philippians 1:23. “Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better.” The sense is that Paul would have preferred to die, and to go to heaven; rather than to remain in a world of sin and trial.

To be present with the Lord – The Lord Jesus; see the note on Acts 1:24; compare Philippians 1:23. The idea of Paul is, that the Lord Jesus would constitute the main glory of heaven, and that to be with him was equivalent to being in a place of perfect bliss. He had no idea of any heaven where the Lord Jesus was not; and to be with him was to be in heaven. That world where the Redeemer is, is heaven. This also proves that the spirits of the saints, when they depart, are with the Redeemer; that is, are at once taken to heaven. It demonstrates:

(1) That they are not annihilated.

(2) that they do not sleep, and remain in an unconscious state, as Dr. Priestley supposes.

(3) that they are not in some intermediate state, either in a state of purgatory, as the Papists suppose, or a state where all the souls of the just and the unjust are assembled in a common abode, as many Protestants have supposed; but,

(4) That they dwell with Christ; they are with the Lord (πρὸς τὸν Κυρίον pros ton Kurion). They abide in his presence; they partake of his joy and his glory; they are permitted to sit with him in his throne; Revelation 3:21.

The same idea the Saviour expressed to the dying thief, when he said, “today shalt thou be with me in paradise;” Luke 23:43.” (6)

“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.” (Colossians 1:5 KJV)

Keeping our eyes fixed upon heaven decreases our attachment to things of this earth.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if, we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1Thessalonians 4:13-14 KJV)

Paul gives encouragement to those whose loved ones have already passed.

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13 ESV)

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV)

The following sermon from Spurgeon is a fitting close of this brief study.

Death is at Christ’s Disposal by C. H. Spurgeon:

“All the issues of death are at Christ’s disposal. No man can die unless Jesus opens the mystic door of death. It is our consolation that our death is entirely in his hands. In the midst of fever and pestilence, we shall never die until he wills it.

In the times of the greatest healthiness, when all the air is balmy, we shall not live a second longer than Jesus has purposed; the place, the circumstance, the exact second of our departure, have all been appointed by him, and settled long ago in love and wisdom.

A thousand angels could not hurl us to the grave, nor could a host of cherubim confine us there one moment after Jesus says, “Arise.”

This is our comfort. We are “immortal until our work is done;” mortal still, but immortal also.

Let us never fear death, then, but rather rejoice at the approach of it, since it comes at our dear Bridegroom’s bidding!

Christ has the key of death, and therefore death to us is no longer a gate of terror.

“Fear not” may be specially applied to the matter of the grave. We need not fear to die, because Jesus has the key of the grave. We shall never pass through that iron gate with an angel to be our conductor, or some grim executioner to lead us into a dreary place of hideous imprisonment. No, Jesus shall come to our dying bed, in all the glory of his supernal splendor, and shall say, “Come with me my spouse, for the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.”

The sight of Jesus, as he thrusts in the key and opens that gate of death, shall make you forget the supposed terrors of the grave, for they are but suppositions, and you shall find it sweet to die.

Since Jesus has the sepulcher’s key, never fear it again, never fear it again.

Depend upon it; your dying hour will be the best hour you have ever known! Your last moment will be your richest moment, better than the day of your birth will be the day of your death.

It shall be the beginning of heaven, the rising of a sun that shall go no more down forever!

Let the fear of death be banished from you by faith in a living Savior.

“I have the keys of hell and of death.”

Excerpt from Christ with the Keys of Death and Hell by C. H. Spurgeon” (7)

In closing:

From the above Scriptural passages, we see what blessings awaiting the believer when passing from death to life:

·         An end of suffering – Matthew 5:4; Revelation 21:4

·         The hope of heaven – Colossians 1:5

·         Being reunited with the saints – Deuteronomy 32:50

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) And “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


1.      Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), p. 62-63.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 535.

3.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for “Abraham’s Bosom,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 22.

4.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Numbers, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 345.

5.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Deuteronomy, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 466.  

6.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 2Corinthians, Vol. 2 p. 2976-2977.

7.      Excerpt from Christ with the Keys of Death and Hell by C. H. Spurgeon

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

For More Study:

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying Available at

 About the book Final Gifts:

 In this moving and compassionate classic – now updated with new material from the authors -hospice Nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years’ experience tending the terminally ill.

 What to learn when reading this book?  “My mother was nearing the end of a nearly 7-year battle with advanced breast cancer, when I found this wonderful book. Thank God I’m a fast reader, as her condition deteriorated rapidly, and she became bedridden and practically non-communicative within two days of the book’s arrival. Although her body seemed ready for death, something seemed to be holding her back, causing her to become agitated. Using the clues in the book, I realized that she was waiting for my father to say good bye and to tell her he’d be okay. Once I convinced him to do this, she passed peacefully about six hours later, surrounded by those she loved.” Anonymous

There are many stories like this in the book that help the relatives of loved ones who are close to death understand their loved one’s physical actions or verbal communications.

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What is Purgatory? Does the Bible teach it?

What is Purgatory? Does the Bible teach it?

Purgatory is a belief that there is a place after death where the sins of Christians are further cleansed through suffering. Seemingly, purgatory is a halfway house where a person stays, suffers, and eventually makes it to heaven. Does the Bible teach this?

Roman Catholic doctrinal explanation of purgatory:

“Purgatory (Latin, ‘purgare,’ to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” (1)


1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. 604 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: 605

  As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. 606

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” 607 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. 608 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

    Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. 609” (2)

From the promotional wizard and fundraiser for the Roman Pope Leo X:

“When the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” – Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar

Modern Roman Catholics try to downplay this quote; by saying it is not accurate. Even granting this, the alleged quote captures Tetzel’s warped theological fundraising strategy.

Scriptures against the doctrine of purgatory:

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”  (Matthew 25:46 KJV)

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30 ESV)

“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.” (Romans 6:10 ESV) (Underline emphasis mine)

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 2:21 ESV)

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV)

“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:11, 27 ESV)

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:12, 14 KJV)

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1Peter 3:18 KJV)

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:7, 9 ESV)

As the above Scriptures make clear, Christ’s death is sufficient and complete, being a one-time event. If Christ died for your sins, there are no sins to be paid for in purgatory. Either Christ died for your sins, or He did not. The Roman Church is still in error on the doctrine of justification, which is the heart of this issue. The Christian is justified, or he is not.

As a necessary aside, justification from the Dictionary of Theological Terms:

“The establishment of a sinner in a righteous standing before God. The verb dikaioo means, “to declare or demonstrate to be righteous” (Matthew 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29; 10:29). The cognate nouns are dikaiosune (Romans 1:17), dikaiosis (Romans 4:25), and dikaioma (Romans 1:32; 5:16, 18). Dikaiosune is always translated “righteousness” and denotes a perfect rectitude according to the standard of God’s character revealed in His law. The phrase “the righteousness of God” may denote the divine attribute of righteousness, or in the great soteriological teaching of Romans, the righteousness God has provided to give His people a title to eternal life (Rom. 3:22; 5:17, “the gift of righteousness”).

Dikaiosis is the action of declaring righteous, and dikaioma signifies the verdict, the judgment handed down by God. Lenski states the relationship between these two terms: dikaiosis is “a declaring righteous (action)”; dikaioma is “a declaring righteous and thereby placing in a permanent relationship or state even as the declaration stands permanently (result).” The language of Scripture, therefore, points to justification as God’s action in declaring His people righteous and placing them in a state of legal perfection before His law on the basis of the righteousness He provided freely for them in Christ.

There is no more scriptural or succinct theological definition of justification than that given by the Shorter Catechism: “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” (See the Westminster shorter catechism Q. 33; see the Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 11).

The Two Elements in Justification:

The two elements in justification are pardon and imputed righteousness. That is, the total obedience of Christ, both passive and active, avails for the believer. The vicarious atonement of Christ pays the debt of the believer’s sin, satisfies divine justice on his behalf, and renders it possible for God to be just and yet to justify him (Romans 3:26). The imputed righteousness of Christ gives the believer “the adoption of children” (Galatians 4:5) and the title to eternal life.” (3)

Properly understood, God’s justification of the believer on behalf of Christ’s account covers all sin. Therefore, this is no sin remaining to be paid for in purgatory.

The favorite Roman proof text for purgatory:

“If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1Corinthians 3:15 KJV)

This passage fails to prove purgatory exists. This verse informs us that a man’s works are that which are adjudicated in this passage, not a man’s soul. The fire will burn up impious works. Fire in this passage is metaphorical. The Roman Church is reading something into the passage that is not there.

What can be understood from the Corinthian passage?

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on 1Corinthians 3:15:

“(15) So as.—These words remind us that the whole passage, and especially the reference to fire, is to be regarded as metaphorical, and not to be understood in a literal and physical sense. Forgetting this, Roman divines have evolved from these words the doctrine of purgatory.” (4)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary support’s Ellicott’s interpretation:

“But if his work do not abide, if it shall appear upon the more clear and bright shining out of the truth of the gospel, that though he hath held the foundation right, yet he hath built upon it wood, hay, and stubble, mixed fables, and idle stories, and corrupt doctrine with the doctrine of the gospel,

he shall suffer loss by it, either by the afflicting hand of God, or by a loss of his reputation, or some other way. But yet God will not cast off a soul for every such error, if he keeps to the main foundation, Jesus Christ; he shall be saved, though it be as by fire, that is, with difficulty; which certainly is a more natural sense of this text, than those give, who interpret as by fire, of the fire of the gospel, or the fire of purgatory, of which the papists understand it. For:

1. It is, and always hath been, a proverbial form of speech to express a thing obtained by difficulty; we say, It is got out of the fire, &c.

2. For the fire of purgatory, it is a fiction, and mere imaginary thing, and of no further significancy than to make the pope’s chimney smoke.

3. That pretended fire only purgeth venial sins; this fire trieth every man’s work, the gold as well as the stubble.” (5)

John Calvin’s comments on purgatory are a textbook analysis of the pernicious error of this teaching:

“We should exclaim with all our might, that purgatory is a pernicious fiction of Satan, that it makes void the cross of Christ, that it intolerably insults the Divine Mercy, and weakens and overturns our faith. For what is their purgatory, but a satisfaction for sins paid after death by the souls of the deceased? Thus the notion of satisfaction being overthrown, purgatory itself is immediately subverted from its very foundation.

It has been fully proved that the blood of Christ is the only satisfaction, expiation, and purgation for the sins of the faithful. What, then, is the necessary conclusion but that purgation is nothing but a horrible blasphemy against Christ? I pass by the sacrilegious pretences with which it is daily defended, the offences, which it produces in religion, and the other innumerable evils, which we see to have come from such a source of impiety.” (6)

In closing:

As the readers learned at the beginning of this primer:

“Purgatory (Latin, ‘purgare,’ to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”

It seems that this teaching of purgatory depends upon a whole series of unbiblical assumptions, all of which undermine the work of Christ. According to the idea of purgatory, Christ’s death does not fully cover certain sins. The doctrine of purgatory is an error that does not recognize the completed work of Christ on the cross.

As the above-quoted noted, the chief error of purgatory is “for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”   

Additional closing questions:

The error of purgatory teaches that sin can be removed through further personal suffering. The proponents of purgatory must explain how human suffering can pay for sin. The idea of venial sins does not help in answering this question. Are venial sins, sins, or not? If they are sins, did Christ die for them or not? If not, where does the Bible teach this that Christ did not die for all of a true Christian’s sins? Can a Mass (which requires a stipend) said for a deceased relative shorten their time in purgatory?

When considering another Roman doctrine that involves the dead, i.e., praying for the dead, why pray for the dead if there is no value as the Roman Church maintains? Likewise, why conduct a Mass for the dead if not seeking grace for the deceased? There is nothing wrong with seeking grace. However, if seeking grace is motivated by an inferior view of Christ’s substitutionary death, it is wrong. Thankfully, the Roman Church today has ceased from the crass practice of Johann Tetzel; nevertheless, prayers and masses for the deceased still underscore the weakness in Roman theology regarding the sufficiency of Christ’s death for His people. Christian saints are in heaven with Christ, and they need nothing from the saints on earth, i.e., prayers and masses. Purgatory is manufactured with no support in the Word of God. 

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) And “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


1.      Hanna, E, Purgatory, In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, (1911), Retrieved August 31, 2019 from New Advent: http://  http://www.

2.      Catechism of the Catholic Church, (St. Paul, Minnesota, The Wandere Press, 1994), pp. 268-69).

3.      Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms, Justification, (Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International), pp. 201-204.

4.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, John, Vol. 7, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 296.

5.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Matthew, vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 548.

6.      Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics, XX-XXI, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960) Book III, Chapter V, p. 676.

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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Does firstborn in Colossians 1:15 mean Jesus was created? Part Two

Does firstborn in Colossians 1:15 mean Jesus was created? Part Two                          By Jack Kettler

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:5 ESV)

Religious groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, in particular, have claimed that Paul’s portrayal of Christ as the firstborn of creation means that Jesus is a created being. In this brief study, the goal will be to gain an understanding of the biblical word “firstborn.” It will be necessary to delve into the previously named religious group that has an agenda. 

For example, in the Jehovah Witness online study Bible, one finds:

“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;  16 because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him. 17 Also, he is before all other things, and by means of him all other things were made to exist, 18 and he is the head of the body, the congregation.” (Colossians 1:15-18 NWT) (Highlighting bold and yellow emphases mine)

In the printed version of the New World Translation* on the Colossians text from the 1961 reprint, the word “other” is in brackets, indicating that the word other has been inserted. Not so, as seen from the online study version, in which there are no brackets. The online version inserting the word is deceptive since the word “other” is not in the Greek text.

The insertion of “other” is a trick to get the reader to think of Christ as a thing, a created thing. Similar to this is the Witnesses’ gross mistranslation of John 1:1-3, where they insert the word “a” in John 1:1 to make it read “a god.” Then in John 1:3, when it says, “All things were made by him…” you have been tricked into thinking the Christ is not God, but “a god” or a thing. Once an error like this has been accepted, the next falsehood of Christ being the first created or firstborn; two purportedly synonymous words seemingly makes sense.    

* The whole purpose of the New World Translation is an attempt to disprove the deity of Christ. Therefore, it is not a translation at all but a perversion of Scripture.

The Greek language and firstborn meaning first created does not hold up:

The Greek word for “first created” is πρωτόπλαστος (protóplastos). This word is different from “firstborn,” which is, πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos).  

Using the HELPS Word-studies with Strong’s numbers:

4416 prōtótokos (from 4413 /prṓtos, “first, pre-eminent” and 5088 /tíktō, “bring forth”) – properly, first in time (Mt 1:25; Lk 2:7); hence, pre-eminent (Col 1:15; Rev 1:5).

4416 /prōtótokos (“firstly”) specifically refers to Christ as the first to experience glorification, i.e., at His resurrection (see Heb 12:23; Rev 1:5). For this (and countless other reasons), Jesus is “preeminent” (4416 /prōtótokos) – the unequivocal Sovereign over all creation (Col 1:16).

A fine entry from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Colossians 1:15 does an excellent job explaining the apostle’s use of “firstborn:”

“(15) The image of the invisible God.—This all important clause needs the most careful examination. We note accordingly (1) that the word “image” (like the word “form,” Philippians 2:6-7) is used in the New Testament for real and essential embodiment, as distinguished from mere likeness. Thus in Hebrews 10:1 we read, “The law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things;” we note also in Romans 1:23 the distinction between the mere outward “likeness” and the “image” which it represented; we find in 1Corinthians 15:49 that the “image of the earthy” and “the image of the heavenly” Adam denote actual identity of nature with both; and in 2Corinthians 3:18 the actual work of the Spirit in the heart is described as “changing us from glory to glory” into “the image” of the glorified Christ. (2) Next we observe that although, speaking popularly, St. Paul in 1Corinthians 11:7 calls man “the image and glory of God,” yet the allusion is to Genesis 1:26; Genesis 1:28, where man is said, with stricter accuracy, to be made “after the image of God” (as in Ephesians 4:24, “created after God”), and this more accurate expression is used in Colossians 3:10 of this Epistle, “renewed after the image of Him that created him.” Who then, or what, is the “image of God,” after which man is created? St. Paul here emphatically (as in 2Corinthians 4:4 parenthetically) answers “Christ,” as the Son of God, “first-born before all creation.” The same truth is conveyed in a different form, clearer (if possible) even than this, in Hebrews 1:3, where “the Son” is said to be not only “the brightness of the glory of the Father,” but “the express image of His Person.” For the word “express image” is character in the original, used here (as when we speak of the alphabetical “characters”) to signify the visible drawn image, and the word “Person” is substance or essence. (3) It is not to be forgotten that at this time in the Platonising Judaism of Philo, “the Word” was called the eternal “image of God.” (See passages quoted in Dr. Light-foot’s note on this passage.) This expression was not peculiar to him; it was but a working out of that personification of the “wisdom of God,” of which we have a magnificent example in Proverbs 8:22-30, and of which we trace the effect in the Alexandrine Book of “Wisdom” (Wisdom Of Solomon 7:25-26). “Wisdom is the breath of the power of God, and a pure stream from the glory of the Most High—the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness.” It seems to have represented in the Jewish schools the idea complementary to the ordinary idea of the Messiah in the Jewish world. Just as St. John took up the vague idea of “the Word,” and gave it a clear divine personality in Christ, so St. Paul seems to act here in relation to the other phrase, used as a description of the Word. In Christ, he fixes in solid reality the floating vision of the “image of God.” (4) There is an emphasis on the words “of the invisible God.” Now, since the whole context shows that the reference is to the eternal pre-existence of Christ, ancient interpreters (of whom Chrysostom may be taken as the type) argued that the image of the invisible must be also invisible. But this seems opposed to the whole idea of the word “image,” and to its use in the New Testament and elsewhere. The true key to this passage is in our Lord’s own words in John 1:8, “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son” (here is the remarkable reading, “the only begotten God”), “who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him.” In anticipation of the future revelation of Godhead, Christ, even as pre-existent, is called “The image of the invisible God.”

The firstborn of every creature (of all creation).—(1) as to the sense of this clause. The grammatical construction here will bear either the rendering of our version, or the rendering “begotten before all creation,” whence comes the “begotten before all worlds “of the Nicene Creed. But the whole context shows that the latter is unquestionably the true rendering. For, as has been remarked from ancient times, He is said to be “begotten” and not “created;” next, he is emphatically spoken of below as He “by whom all things were created,” who is “before all things,” and in whom all things consist.” (2) As to the order of idea. In Himself He is “the image of God” from all eternity. From this essential conception, by a natural contrast, the thought immediately passes on to distinction from, and priority to, all created being. Exactly in this same order of idea, we have in Hebrews 1:2-3, “By whom also He made the worlds . . . upholding all things by the word of His power;” and in John 1:3, “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made which was made. Here St. Paul indicates this idea in the words “firstborn before all creation,” and works it out in the verses following. (3) As to the name “firstborn” itself. It is used of the Messiah as an almost technical name (derived from Psalm 2:7; Psalm 89:28), as is shown in Hebrews 1:6, “when He bringeth the first begotten into the world.” In tracing the Messianic line of promise we notice that; while the Messiah is always true man, “the seed of Abraham,” “the son of David,” yet on him are accumulated attributes too high for any created being (as in Isaiah 9:6). He is declared to be an “Emmanuel” God with us; and His kingdom a visible manifestation of God. Hence the idea contained in the word “firstborn” is not only sovereignty “above all the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:28; comp. Daniel 8:13-14), but also likeness to God and priority to all created being. (4) As to the union of the two clauses. In the first we have the declaration of His eternal unity with God—all that was completely embodied in the declaration of the “Word who is God,” up to which all the higher Jewish speculations had led; in the second we trace the distinctness of His Person, as the “begotten of the Father,” the true Messiah of Jewish hopes, and the subordination of the co-eternal Son to the Father. The union of the two marks the assertion of Christian mystery, as against rationalising systems, of the type of Arianism on one side, of Sabellianism on the other.” (1)

Another entry is from Vincent’s Word Studies that is also helpful in understanding the use of “firstborn:”

“The image (εἰκών)

See on Revelation 13:14. For the Logos (Word) underlying the passage, see on John 1:1. Image is more than likeness, which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype. Compare in the form of God, Philippians 2:6 (note), and the effulgence of the Father’s glory, Hebrews 1:3. Also 1 John 1:1.

Of the invisible God (τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου)

Lit., of the God, the invisible. Thus is brought out the idea of manifestation, which lies in image. See on Revelation 13:14.

The first born of every creature (πρωτότοκος πασῆς κτίσεως)

Rev., the first-born of all creation. For first-born, see on Revelation 1:5; for creation, see on 2 Corinthians 5:17. As image points to revelation, so first-born points to eternal preexistence. Even the Rev. is a little ambiguous, for we must carefully avoid any suggestion that Christ was the first of created things, which is contradicted by the following words: in Him were all things created. The true sense is, born before the creation. Compare before all things, Colossians 1:17. This fact of priority implies sovereignty. He is exalted above all thrones, etc., and all things are unto (εἰς) Him, as they are elsewhere declared to be unto God. Compare Psalm 89:27; Hebrews 1:2.” (2)

As seen from the lexical and commentary entries, “first created,” and “firstborn” have two different meanings entirely. The Jehovah’s Witnesses mistranslation and perversion of the Colossians and John passages are damnable heresies.   

Additional Scriptures on Christ” preeminence:

“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11 NASB)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3 NASB)

“He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” (John 3:31 NASB)

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36 NASB)

“For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9 NASB  )

“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” (Colossians 1:18 NASB)

“For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.” (Hebrews 3:3 NASB)

In closing:

As seen, the word “firstborn” speaks of Christ’s preeminence, and not anything to do with creation.

Preeminence is the quality of being superior. It is a status or distinction from anything considered the finest like a king. Christ is above all.

One final passage, the Psalmist, while immediately speaking of David, looks forward prophetically to Christ and His divine preeminence.

“Also I will make him [or appoint him אֶתְּנֵ֑הוּ] my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:27)

For those who want to make an issue with the word “make” and suggest that it means to create, this can be said:

“You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:24 ESV)

“Disregard them! They are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14 BSB)

Strong’s Lexicon:

“appoint him as

אֶתְּנֵ֑הוּ (’et·tə·nê·hū)

Verb – Qal – Imperfect – first person common singular | third person masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 5414: 1) to give, put, set 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to give, bestow, grant, permit, ascribe, employ, devote, consecrate, dedicate, pay wages, sell, exchange, lend, commit, entrust, give over, deliver up, yield produce, occasion, produce, requite to, report, mention, utter, stretch out, extend 1a2) to put, set, put on, put upon, set, appoint, assign, designate 1a3) to make, constitute 1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to be given, be bestowed, be provided, be entrusted to, be granted to, be permitted, be issued, be published, be uttered, be assigned 1b2) to be set, be put, be made, be inflicted 1c) (Hophal) 1c1) to be given, be bestowed, be given up, be delivered up 1c2) to be put upon.”

“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)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Colossians, Vol. 20, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 8-9.

2.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 468.

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

·  The Preeminence of Christ in Preaching, Part 1 – Colossians 1:28-29

Audio/MP3 by Steven J Lawson

·  The Preeminence of Christ in Preaching, Part 2 – Colossians 1:28-29

Audio/MP3 by Steven J Lawson

·  The Preeminence of Christ in Preaching, Part 3 – Colossians 1:28-29

Audio/MP3 by Steven J Lawson

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What does the firstborn of creation mean in Colossians 1:15? Part One

What does the firstborn of creation mean in Colossians 1:15?                        By Jack Kettler

Does firstborn mean that Jesus created? Proponents of the ancient Arian heresy make claims that firstborn means first created. Nothing could be further from the truth. This study should be considered an entry-level research primer. The reader will be introduced to traditionally orthodox commentary entries on the subject at hand.

We read:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (πρωτότοκος) of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15 ESV)

First, according to the Englishman’s Concordance, we have three occurrences of πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos) the Greek word for firstborn:

πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos) — 3 Occurrences

Colossians 1:15 Adj-NMS

GRK: τοῦ ἀοράτου πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

NAS: God, the firstborn of all

KJV: God, the firstborn of every

INT: invisible [the] firstborn of all creation

Colossians 1:18 Adj-NMS

GRK: ἡ ἀρχή πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν

NAS: and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,

KJV: the beginning, the firstborn from

INT: the beginning firstborn from among the

Revelation 1:5 Adj-NMS

GRK: πιστός ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν

NAS: witness, the firstborn of the dead,

KJV: witness, [and] the first begotten of

INT: faithful the firstborn of the dead (1)

There is nothing in the occurrences of the Greek word prōtotokos that demand an understanding of first created. First created is an idea that certain people with an agenda try to smuggle into the text. If first created were intended, why was not the Greek word protoktistos used? Protoktistos, means first created. Significantly, it is never used for Christ in the New Testament. Protoktistos does not even appear in the New Testament.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers enlightens us regarding the Colossians passage and the term firstborn:

“The firstborn of every creature (of all creation).—(1) As to the sense of this clause. The grammatical construction here will bear either the rendering of our version, or the rendering “begotten before all creation,” whence comes the “begotten before all worlds “of the Nicene Creed. But the whole context shows that the latter is unquestionably the true rendering. For, as has been remarked from ancient times, He is said to be “begotten” and not “created;” next, he is emphatically spoken of below as He “by whom all things were created,” who is “before all things,” and in whom all things consist.” (2) As to the order of idea. In Himself He is “the image of God” from all eternity. From this essential conception, by a natural contrast, the thought immediately passes on to distinction from, and priority to, all created being. Exactly in this same order of idea, we have in Hebrews 1:2-3, “By whom also He made the worlds . . . upholding all things by the word of His power;” and in John 1:3, “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made which was made. Here St. Paul indicates this idea in the words “firstborn before all creation,” and works it out in the verses following. (3) As to the name “firstborn” itself. It is used of the Messiah as an almost technical name (derived from Psalm 2:7; Psalm 89:28), as is shown in Hebrews 1:6, “when He bringeth the first begotten into the world.” In tracing the Messianic line of promise we notice that; while the Messiah is always true man, “the seed of Abraham,” “the son of David,” yet on him are accumulated attributes too high for any created being (as in Isaiah 9:6). He is declared to be an “Emmanuel” God with us; and His kingdom a visible manifestation of God. Hence the idea contained in the word “firstborn” is not only sovereignty “above all the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:28; comp. Daniel 8:13-14), but also likeness to God and priority to all created being. (4) As to the union of the two clauses. In the first we have the declaration of His eternal unity with God—all that was completely embodied in the declaration of the “Word who is God,” up to which all the higher Jewish speculations had led; in the second we trace the distinctness of His Person, as the “begotten of the Father,” the true Messiah of Jewish hopes, and the subordination of the co-eternal Son to the Father. The union of the two marks the assertion of Christian mystery, as against rationalising systems, of the type of Arianism on one side, of Sabellianism on the other.” (2)

Digging deeper with Vincent’s Word Studies on Colossians 1:15 further enlightens:

“The image (εἰκών)

See on Revelation 13:14. For the Logos (Word) underlying the passage, see on John 1:1. Image is more than likeness, which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype. Compare in the form of God, Philippians 2:6 (note), and the effulgence of the Father’s glory, Hebrews 1:3. Also 1 John 1:1.

Of the invisible God (τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου)

Lit., of the God, the invisible. Thus is brought out the idea of manifestation, which lies in image. See on Revelation 13:14.

The first born of every creature (πρωτότοκος πασῆς κτίσεως)

Rev., the first-born of all creation. For first-born, see on Revelation 1:5; for creation, see on 2Corinthians 5:17. As image points to revelation, so first-born points to eternal preexistence. Even the Rev. is a little ambiguous, for we must carefully avoid any suggestion that Christ was the first of created things, which is contradicted by the following words: in Him were all things created. The true sense is, born before the creation. Compare before all things, Colossians 1:17. This fact of priority implies sovereignty. He is exalted above all thrones, etc., and all things are unto (εἰς) Him, as they are elsewhere declared to be unto God. Compare Psalm 89:27; Hebrews 1:2.” (3)

Cross References to Colossians 1:15 from the Old Testament:

“And I will make him the firstborn, (bekor) the highest of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:27 ESV)

Strong’s Concordance on the Hebrew:

bekor: first-born

Original Word: בְּכוֹר

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: bekor

Phonetic Spelling: (bek-ore’)

Definition: first-born

As the reader can see from the Strong’s entry on the Hebrew word “bekor” there is nothing that demands an understanding of first created.

As Matthew Poole’s Commentary demonstrates, first born in Psalm 89:27 is a reference to Christ:

“As he calls me Father, Psalm 89:26, so I will make him my son, yea, my first-born, who had divers privileges above other sons. This and the following passage in some sort agree to David, who may well be called God’s

First-born, as all the people of Israel are, Exodus 4:22; and so is Ephraim, Jeremiah 31:9. Nor can I see fit wholly to exclude David here, of whom all the foregoing and following verses may, and some of them must be, understood. But this is more fully and properly accomplished in Christ, and seems to be ascribed to David here as a type of Christ, and that our minds might be led through David to him whom David represented, even to the Messias, to whom alone this doth strictly and literally belong.

Higher than the kings of the earth: this also was in some sort accomplished in David, partly because he had a greater power and dominion than any of the neighbouring kings, yea, than any other kings of his age, and in those parts of the world, except the Assyrian monarch; nor is the expression here universal, but indefinite, and if it had been said higher than all the kings, yet even such universal expressions admit of some limitation or exception, as is manifest and confessed: and partly because David had many privileges, wherein he did excel all other kings of the earth of his age without exception; which probably he did in the honour and renown which he got by his military achievements, and by that wisdom and justice wherewith he managed all his dominions; but certainly he did in this, that he was a king chosen and advanced by the immediate order and appointment of God himself, that he was set over God’s own peculiar and beloved people, that he was intrusted with the care and patronage of the true religion and the worship of God in the world, and especially that he was not only an eminent type, but also the progenitor of the Messias, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and God blessed for ever.” (4)

Cross References to Colossians 1:15 from the New Testament:

Colossians 1:15 is crossed referenced to John 1:1 in many cross-referencing systems.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 ESV)

This cross-reference is because, the firstborn of all creation is the Word, and He also God!

“And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” (Revelation1:5 ESV)

Does firstborn in Revelation mean anything different from other usages of the word in other texts? The Pulpit Commentary’s entry will be helpful.

From the Pulpit Commentary on Revelation 1:5:
“Verse 5. – The faithful Witness. This was his function – “to bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37). The rainbow is called “the faithful witness” (Psalm 89:37). The Firstborn of the dead. Christ was the first who was born to eternal life after the death which ends this life (see Lightfoot on Colossians 1:15, 18; and comp. Psalm 89:27). “The ruler of this world” offered Jesus the glory of the kingdoms of the world, if he would worship him. He won a higher glory by dying to conquer him, and thus the crucified Peasant became the Lord of Roman emperors, “the Ruler of the kings of the earth.” The grammar of this verse is irregular; “the faithful Witness,” etc., in the nominative being in apposition with “Jesus Christ” in the genitive (comp. Revelation 2:20; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 9:14; Revelation 14:12). Unto him that loved us. The true reading gives “that loveth us” unceasingly. The supreme act of dying for us did not exhaust his love. In what follows it is difficult to decide between “washed” (λούσαντι) and “loosed” (λύσαντι), both readings being very well supported; but we should certainly omit “own” before “blood.” The blood of Jesus Christ cleansing us from all sin is a frequent thought with the apostle who witnessed the piercing of the side (Revelation 7:13, 14; 1John 1:7; 1John 5:6-8).” (5)

 In closing:

 Firstborn is a unique biblical word. Modern readers, at times, are confused or at a loss on how to understand the word, especially if they have encountered an unscrupulous Arian heretic. The above commentary evidence is historically and biblically sound in the information presented on the Greek word firstborn. For those interested in in-depth debates on the subject of firstborn versus first created, see the “for more study” sections at the end of this primer.  

 Consider the Colossians text in context with the adjoining verses:

 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:15-18 ESV)

 Christ is the image of God, i.e., God Himself; everything was created by Him and through him. In Him, all things hold together. Moreover, in everything He is preeminent. The context provides no support for the heretical notion that firstborn means first created.      

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) And “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

See part two next week.


 1.      Wigram-Green, Englishman’s Concordance, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson publishers, 1982), p. 766.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Colossians, Vol. 8, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 100.

3.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARY, e • Albany, Oregon), p. 508-509.

4.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Psalm, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 141-142.

5.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Revelation, Vol.22., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 3.

 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

 For More Study:

 Sources for answering Arian heretics:

 Arianism and its influence today

 Modern Day Arians: Who are they?

 Heresy and Those Who Fought It

 Is Arianism is Consistent with Scripture?

 Trinitarian Heresies Trinitarian Heresies | Monergism

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“Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics that believes the Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and attempts to expose flaws in other worldviews.” – Wikipedia

Presuppositional apologetic quotes

“Once the biblical defense has been given it is necessary to expose the fact that the non-Christian rejects the Christian evidence because of his commitment to independence. Every thought contrary to Christianity which the unbeliever has results from his desire to set himself up as the independent judge of truth. We live in a day when many non-Christians think they are neutral and objective. So, their basic commitment must be exposed. This can be done by a series of questions. If the Christian wishes to show the non-Christian that he has committed himself to independence he may simply assert that it is the case and then ask, “Why do you believe that?” or “How do you know that?” again and again until the point becomes obvious. The unbeliever thinks and believes as he does because he has determined it to be correct independently. For instance, the unbeliever may argue that the Christian God does not exist. When asked “Why?” he may say, ‘You have shown me no convincing evidence.” When asked why he thinks the evidence is unconvincing, he will have to admit that the evidence does not meet with his independent criterion of truth. When asked why he accepts his criterion of truth he can be shown that it is the result of his own independent decision to look at things without submission to the Bible and to God.

By exposing the commitment of the unbeliever, the Christian reveals the truth that all men have either chosen for Christ or against Him. The line of division is clearly drawn and the door is opened for demonstrating the hopelessness of the non-Christian way of thinking.” – Richard L. Pratt Jr. from “Every Thought Captive”

“All the scheming, craftiness, and efforts of unbelievers turn against themselves as the judgment of God is revealed to them. This inherent futility is shown to the non-Christian by the believer as he points to the internal inconsistencies within the unbelieving system of thought. In this capacity the apologist becomes a messenger of judgment revealing to his opponent the hopelessness and futility of his rejection of Christ.” – Richard L. Pratt Jr. from “Every Thought Captive”

“Only the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of human experience. That is, only the Christian view of God, creation, providence, revelation, and human nature can make sense of the world in which we live. So, for example, only the Christian worldview can make sense out of morality since it alone provides the necessary presuppositions for making ethical evaluations, namely, an absolute and personal Law Giver who reveals His moral will to mankind. It does not make sense, however, for the atheist/materialist to denounce any action as wrong since, according to his worldview, all that exists is matter in motion. And matter in motion is inherently non-moral. That is, since the world according to the materialist is totally explicable in terms of physical processes, and since physical processes are categorically non-moral, moral considerations have no place in his worldview. Thus for the materialist to say that stealing is morally wrong makes as much sense as saying that the secretion of insulin from the pancreas is morally wrong. [This is not to say, however, that atheists never act morally. Atheists feed their children, give money to charity and often make good neighbors. But atheists cannot give a justification for their actions. In the words of Cornelius Van Til, they are living on “borrowed capital” from the Christian worldview. Thus, they profess one thing, but their actions belie this profession].” – Michael Butler

In defending the Christian faith, the most important question before us is “What sort of defense will best glorify our God (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31)?” God forbid that in seeking to defend the faith before others we should in that very act compromise it. The so-called “presuppositional” school of apologetics is concerned above all with answering this question. Among all the sources of divine revelation (including nature, history, human beings in God’s image), Scripture plays a central role. Indeed, though the point cannot be argued in detail here, my view is that Scripture is the supremely authoritative, inerrant Word of God, the divinely authored, written constitution of the church of Jesus Christ. Scripture is therefore the foundational authority for all of human life including apologetics. As the ultimate authority, the very Word of God, it provides the foundational justifications for all our reasoning, without itself being subject to prior justification. – John Frame

“When you say there’s too much evil in this world you assume there’s good. When you assume there’s good, you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But if you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral Law Giver, but that’s Who you’re trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there’s no moral Law Giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. What is your question?” – Ravi Zacharias

“If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true, but rather because of a series of chemical reactions… Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else.” – Douglas Wilson

“God built into the creation a variety of cultural spheres, such as the family, economics, politics, art, and intellectual inquiry. Each of these spheres has its own proper “business” and needs its own unique pattern of authority. When we confuse spheres, by violating the proper boundaries of church and state, for instance, or reducing the academic life to a business enterprise, we transgress the patterns that God has set.” – Abraham Kuyper

“God is thus the principle of definition, of law, and of all things. He is the premise of all thinking, and the necessary presupposition for every sphere of thought. It is blasphemy therefore to attempt to “prove” God; God is the necessary presupposition of all proof. To ground any sphere of thought, life, or action, or any sphere of being, on anything other than the triune God is thus blasphemy. Education without God as its premise, law which does not presuppose God and rest on His law, a civil order which does not derive all authority from God, or a family whose foundation is not God’s word, is blasphemous.” – R. J. Rushdoony

“If one does not make human knowledge wholly dependent upon the original self-knowledge and consequent revelation of God to man, then man will have to seek knowledge within himself as the final reference point. Then he will have to seek an exhaustive understanding of reality. He will have to hold that if he cannot attain to such an exhaustive understanding of reality he has no true knowledge of anything at all. Either man must then know everything or he knows nothing. This is the dilemma that confronts every form of non-Christian epistemology.” – Cornelius Van Til

The transcendental proof for God’s existence stated:

“1. God is a necessary precondition for logic and morality (because these are immaterial, yet real universals).

2. People depend upon logic and morality, showing that they depend upon the universal, immaterial, and abstract realities, which could not exist in a materialist universe but presupposes (presumes) the existence of an immaterial and absolute God.

3. Therefore, God exists. If He didn’t, we could not rely upon logic, reason, morality, and other absolute universals (which are required and assumed to live in this universe, let alone to debate), and could not exist in a materialist universe where there are no absolute standards or an absolute Lawgiver.

The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist world view is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality.” – Greg Bahnsen

From this principle, the presuppositional argument for God’s existence and its implications stated, and atheism challenged:

“The Bible contains the Christian’s starting principles or presuppositions. God speaks to us in the Scriptures (special revelation) with human language utilizing logically structured sentences in which He tells us the difference between right and wrong. The Christian worldview has the necessary preconditions to talk intelligently and give justification for the use of logic, science, and morality. Consequently, the strength of the Christian worldview is seen by the impossibility of the contrary. The impossibility of the contrary can be asserted because as of this day, no non-Christian anywhere has shown how their worldview can account for the use of science, logic, and intelligently talk about ethics. Begging the question is the typical response by the atheist to their worldview’s failure and this begging the question is a logical fallacy. We are not saying the atheist does not use logic or talk about right and wrong. We are saying the atheist cannot account for these things within his system.

Note: Begging the question is a fallacy of assumption because it directly presumes the conclusion, which is the question in the first place. For example, “Killing people is wrong, (premise) so the death penalty is wrong.” Begging the question is known as circular reasoning because the conclusion is seen at the beginning and the end of the argument, it creates an unending circle, never achieving anything of substance. The atheist system assumes it can account for logic and ethics without ever providing substantiation. One must accept the premise to be true for the claim to be true.

Why the atheist cannot find God:

The Christian says if an individual starts with a non-Christian syllogism or presupposition, the individual will never arrive at a Christian conclusion. As Clark noted above, every system or belief has a starting point. Starting with a non-Christian premise reminds us of “…of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:18-19). The atheist in his suppression of the truth refuses to start with the testimony of Scripture or natural revelation, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalms 19:1). All non-believing presuppositions ultimately lead to complete skepticism or the philosophy of no-nothing-ism.

Furthermore, because of this ultimate skepticism, the atheist cannot live consistently with the result of where his worldview takes him. That is why many atheists still talk about morality, science, and logic. They are inconsistent. From their starting premise, nothing can be proven. As stated, a materialistic worldview or atheism cannot justify or account for science, logic, or morality, since matter is silent! A rock cannot tell the atheist the difference between right and wrong. Likewise, the moon, which is a big rock, cannot tell the difference between what is right, and what is wrong. Atheistic materialism has nothing to say about science, logic, and ethics reliably. The matter making up the universe is silent. God is not silent. Closing this paragraph with a quote by William Provine, Charles A. Alexander Professor of Biological Sciences at Cornell University, “There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.” “No ultimate foundation for ethics, no meaning to life,” says Provine. With assertions like this, the intellectual bankruptcy of atheism is exposed.

Atheists refuse to acknowledge how their system works:

Atheists generally refuse to acknowledge that they have presuppositions and that presuppositions govern interpretations of the world. In short, the Christian’s presupposition is God’s revelation in the Bible is our authority and standard of interpretation. The atheist’s presupposition is the man himself is the authority and standard of interpretation. This clash or antithesis of worldviews happened in the beginning, Genesis 3:5, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The consequence of Adam’s disobedience is that Adam’s descendants in their rebellion will seek to be the interpreters of reality and reject God’s interpretation. Now that the fallen race of man is acting like God, he appeals to his authority in his attempt to answer the demands of speaking intelligently about science, morality, and logic. It is the authority of the infinite versus the authority of the finite. The atheist may not like this conclusion; until he comes up with epistemological solutions, he should remain silent like a rock. 

Pressing the antithesis:

In addition to numerous philosophical problems regarding atheists and other non-Christian interpretations of the world, it should be clear that matter or material has nothing to say within the framework of non-believing philosophy. What could it say? Within this framework, material or matter is ultimately an accident and therefore meaningless. In addition to this problem, all men have a priori commitments, which are at work and from which truth or falsity is deduced. The question is not do men have a priori commitments, but what are they? The non-believer has suppressed and substituted God’s revealed truth for his interpretation of the world. When dealing with ethics in particular atheism cannot speak intelligently. The atheist has to borrow from and assume Christian definitions when talking about evil and good. To quote Nietzsche: “When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. For the latter is not self-evident… Christianity is a system.” When rejecting the Christian system, “Everything is permitted” – Friedrich Nietzsche. According to Nietzsche, if “everything is permitted,” good and evil are meaningless terms. Nietzsche was a consistent atheist.

In essence, the atheist has erected a closed system. His system is closed to God. He does not allow God to speak. Since the atheist rejects the Creator, he has nothing within his closed system that he allows to speak with moral certainty. As long as fallen man excludes God from his system, he cannot know anything with certainty. The atheist thought has no basis for absolutes. An atheist has plenty of arbitrary social conventions. If there are no absolutes, there can be no meaning attached to anything since everything could be said to be true and not true at the same time, which is unacceptable irrational nonsense. As noted earlier by Aldous Huxley: “It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.’” An example of a failed atheistic attempt at determining morality for society is pragmatic majoritarianism, i.e., the majority makes right. This system does not work out so well for the minorities, like the Jews in Nazi Germany.

Unanswerable questions for the atheist:

John Locke is known as the originator of the epistemological theory known as empiricism, which postulates the mind at birth is a blank tablet (tabula rasa) and then assimilates knowledge through sensations. This theory could be called the “blank mind theory” of knowledge. The details of how this theory works out with the mind receiving, interpreting, and retaining these sensations are lacking, to say the least.

For example, can atheistic empiricism provide a basis for certainty? It cannot. For example, empiricism historically argues that knowledge comes through sensations in the following order: (a) sensations, (b) perceptions, (c) memory images, (d) and the development of abstract ideas. In this system of interpretation, perceptions are inferences from sensations. How does the atheistic empiricist know valid from invalid inferences?

Can atheistic rationalism (reason alone) provide answers to big questions of life? Does the atheist have the necessary preconditions to interpret reality? The Christian says God is a necessary precondition for interpretation. The atheist says no. From a Christian worldview, it can be explained why life has a purpose. Can the atheist explain why life is purposeful? To remember an earlier quote: “There is no splendor, no vastness, anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing” – Bertrand Russell. This assertion by Russell is an example of a bankrupt worldview. Dostoevsky countered this idea of Russell by saying: “I don’t understand how, up to now, an atheist could know there is no God and not kill himself at once” – Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Pressing the antithesis further: 

We can ask the atheist, what is the origin of laws of logic? Are the laws of logic interpreted in the same way universally? If not, why not? The laws of logic within the framework of non-belief are nothing more than a philosophical construct, which ends up collapsing into irrationality and inconsistency. Thus, the atheistic rational man has no rationale for his rationalism. The assertion that God is not silent is the solution to obtaining knowledge. God has spoken through the Scriptures to all of mankind. As Christians, we have a foundation for knowledge; it is revelational. God-given revelation is objective. Atheists reject this revelation; they suppress the truth that God has revealed to them through creation (Romans 1:18). God has spoken in the Scriptures, God’s special revelation to all men concerning what is required of him, and thus, we have a rationale for ethics. To repeat two quotes from David Silverman, “There is no objective moral standard. We are responsible for our own actions….” In addition, “The hard answer is it is a matter of opinion.” David Silverman is an American secular advocate who served as president of American Atheists. According to Silverman, we are left with opinions. Different opinions are not solutions.

Again, we can ask the atheist and all non-Christians, what standard for interpretation is being used; identify your worldview and its basis for predication. Predication is attaching a predicate to a subject; hence, making an assertion. Van Til says, “Only the Christian worldview makes predication possible.” The atheist needs to demonstrate how his worldview can accomplish this.

For the atheist, there is ultimately only irrationalism:

Thus, the atheistic man has only matter, unintelligible or debatable explanations for sensations (sense perception), or his finite, fallible reason. An unclear debatable sensation is one reason for the bankruptcy of atheistic, materialistic humanism. The Christian has a rational basis for knowledge; it is the Biblical revelation. The Christian allows God to speak through creation and Scripture. The non-Christian will not allow room for the God of the Bible to speak in their system. As said, their system is closed to God’s revelation. The atheist insists on being the ultimate interpreter of reality, God is excluded. The Christian system is not closed like the atheist’s system. The Bible tells us about general and special revelation and man’s requirement to submit to a God-given interpretation of all things. It is because we have God’s revelation that an intelligent conversation on these matters can be carried on. How can a finite man who does not even know how many atoms are in an orange speak intelligently when asserting, absolutely and omnisciently, there is no God? These same people talk about the universe coming into existence from a big bang out of nothing. Was there a spark before the explosion of nothing? How did this spark happen? How does nothing explode? A big explosion sounds like the primitive view of spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation is illogical nonsense. In contrast to the atheist’s hypothetical speculation, the Christian has a God-given rational case for knowledge.   

Philosophically, atheism vacillates between two positions of knowing and not knowing. These two opposite poles of allegiance constitute a never-ending dilemma, thus revealing the futility of non-Christian epistemology. Despite this, the atheist presses on irrationally. To illustrate, for example, some atheists claim absolutely that there are no absolutes, a self-refuting contradiction. The philosophy of non-belief contradicts itself when it claims not to know (uncertainty, agnosticism) and to know (certainty, atheism). Both atheism and agnosticism are two sides of the same coin. Thus, the non-believer is left with contradictory uncertainty and certainty, which are manifestations of his epistemological inability to derive meaningful intelligibility from an ultimate irrational meaningless universe.

The Christian Solution to knowledge:

As Christians, we have a coherent theory of knowledge. God has spoken. God speaking through revelation is certain: God speaks to us in the Scriptures with human language utilizing logically structured sentences in which He tells us the difference between right and wrong. Language has the same meaning for God and man. Because of this, presuppositionalists argue that Christianity is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. The atheist position of the contrary has never been articulated successfully. See the great debate between Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein at Davis University in California in 1985.* Atheistic epistemology has different theories, but no universal certainty and cannot escape skepticism better explained as no-nothing-ism. The non-Christian philosophers will argue on and on, never reaching an agreement.” – Jack Kettler

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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Does Jesus Know Everything (Mark 13:32)?

Does Jesus Know Everything (Mark 13:32)?                                                    By Jack Kettler

According to Mark 13:32, Jesus says there are some things He does not know. How can this be if He is God?

We read:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)

How do we understand this passage? The Scriptures present Jesus as God. It seems in the passage Jesus admits to not knowing the time of His second coming. If He is God, should not he know this? In this study, we will explore some commentary evidence to find answers to this question.

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Mark 13:32, we read:

“(32-37) But of that day and that hour.—See Notes on Matthew 24:36-41.

Neither the Son.—The addition to St. Matthew’s report is every way remarkable. It indicates the self-imposed limitation of the divine attributes, which had belonged to our Lord as the eternal Son, and the acquiescence in a power and knowledge which, like that of the human nature which He assumed, were derived and therefore finite. Such a limitation is implied by St. Paul, when he says that our Lord “being in the form of God . . . made Himself of no reputation” (or better, emptied Himself), “and took upon Him the form of a servant.” (See Note on Philippians 2:6-7.) It is clear that we cannot consistently take the word “knoweth” as having a different meaning in this clause from that which it bears in the others; and we must therefore reject all interpretations which explain away the force of the words as meaning only that the Son did not declare His knowledge of the time of the far-off event.” (1)

Ellicott refers to Philippians 2:6-7. This text needs to be looked at in detail since it sheds light upon the understanding of Mark 13:32.

Two translations of Mark 13:32:

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7 ESV)

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7 KJV)

From Strong’s Concordance:

kenoó: to empty

Original Word: κενόω

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: kenoó

Phonetic Spelling: (ken-o’-o)

Definition: to empty

Usage: (a) I empty, (b) I deprive of content, make unreal.

Ellicott is using the King James Version on the Philippians text; hence, the phrase “made himself” as opposed to “emptied himself.” 

Continuing with Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Philippians 2:7:

“(7) But made himself . . .—This verse needs more exact translation. It should be, But emptied (or, stripped) Himself of His glory by having taken on Him the form of a slave and having been made (or, born) in likeness of men. The “glory” is the “glory which He had with the Father before the world was” (John 17:5; comp. Philippians 1:14), clearly corresponding to the Shechinah of the Divine Presence. Of this He stripped Himself in the Incarnation, taking on Him the “form (or, nature) of a servant” of God. He resumed it for a moment in the Transfiguration; He was crowned with it anew at the Ascension.

Made in the likeness of man.—This clause, at first sight, seems to weaken the previous clause, for it does not distinctly express our Lord’s true humanity. But we note that the phrase is “the likeness of men,” i.e., of men in general, men as they actually are. Hence the key to the meaning is to be found in such passages as Romans 8:3, God sent His own Son in “the likeness of sinful flesh;” or Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 4:15, “It behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren,” “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” It would have been an infinite humiliation to have assumed humanity, even in unique and visible glory; but our Lord went beyond this, by deigning to seem like other men in all things, one only of the multitude, and that, too, in a station, which confused Him with the commoner types of mankind. The truth of His humanity is expressed in the phrase “form of a servant;” its unique and ideal character is glanced at when it is said to have worn only the “likeness of men.” (2)

Vincent’s Word Studies elucidates the Philippians text correctly and supports Ellicott’s interpretation:

“Made Himself of no reputation (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν).

Lit. Emptied Himself. The general sense is that He divested Himself of that peculiar mode of existence which was proper and peculiar to Him as one with God. He laid aside the form of God. In so doing, He did not divest Himself of His divine nature. The change was a change of state: the form of a servant for the form of God. His personality continued the same. His self-emptying was not self-extinction, nor was the divine Being changed into a mere man. In His humanity He retained the consciousness of deity, and in His incarnate state carried out the mind which animated Him before His incarnation. He was not unable to assert equality with God. He was able not to assert it.

Form of a servant (μορφὴν δούλου)

The same word for form as in the phrase form of God, and with the same sense. The mode of expression of a slave’s being is indeed apprehensible, and is associated with human shape, but it is not this side of the fact which Paul is developing. It is that Christ assumed that mode of being which answered to, and was the complete and characteristic expression of, the slave’s being. The mode itself is not defined. This is appropriately inserted here as bringing out the contrast with counted not equality with God, etc. What Christ grasped at in His incarnation was not divine sovereignty, but service.

Was made in the likeness of men (ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος)

Lit., becoming in, etc. Notice the choice of the verb, not was, but became: entered into a new state. Likeness. The word does not imply the reality of our Lord’s humanity, μορφή form implied the reality of His deity. That fact is stated in the form of a servant. Neither is εἰκών image employed, which, for our purposes, implies substantially the same as μορφή. See on Colossians 1:15. As form of a servant exhibits the inmost reality of Christ’s condition as a servant – that He became really and essentially the servant of men (Luke 22:27) – so likeness of men expresses the fact that His mode of manifestation resembled what men are. This leaves room for the assumption of another side of His nature – the divine – in the likeness of which He did not appear. As He appealed to men, He was like themselves, with a real likeness; but this likeness to men did not express His whole self. The totality of His being could not appear to men, for that involved the form of God. Hence the apostle views Him solely as He could appear to men. All that was possible was a real and complete likeness to humanity. What He was essentially and eternally could not enter into His human mode of existence. Humanly He was like men, but regarded with reference to His whole self, He was not identical with man, because there was an element of His personality which did not dwell in them – equality with God. Hence the statement of His human manifestation is necessarily limited by this fact, and is confined to likeness and does not extend to identity. “To affirm likeness is at once to assert similarity and to deny sameness” (Dickson). See on Romans 8:3.” (2)

The reader will notice how Vincent addresses what is known without using the name as the Kenosis theory when explicating how Christ “emptied” or “made” Himself in the Incarnation. 

The Kenosis theory is a false teaching that says that Christ, when emptying himself, gave up some or all of the attributes of Deity, such as omniscience to exist as a man. The danger in this theory is that the implications are that Christ was not fully God during His time on earth.

In certain charismatic prosperity churches, the Kenosis theory teaches that Jesus gave up His divinity while on earth. Jesus was no longer divine from His birth to His Ascension according to this theory. According to this theory, logically, the Triune nature of God must have been suspended or ended during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. It is impossible for God to cease to exist as He is. Therefore, this theory is false and heretical. 

Calvin answers this supposed problem of Christ emptying Himself and yet remaining truly God:
“For we know that in Christ the two natures were united into one person in such a manner that each retained its own properties; and more especially the divine nature was in a state of repose, and did not at all exert itself, whenever it was necessary that the human nature should act separately, according to what was peculiar to itself, in discharging the office of mediator. There would be no impropriety, therefore in saying that Christ, who knew all things (John 21:17), was ignorant of something in respect of his perception as a man; for otherwise he could not have been liable to grief and anxiety, and could not have been like us (Hebrews 2:17).” (3)

 In closing:

 Calvin answers this question of Jesus not knowing in Mark 13:32 by explaining the two natures of Christ. During Jesus’s earthly ministry, He submitted to the Father along with the self-imposed limitation of His divine attributes. Said another way, He did not fully exercise His Divine attributes, in particular, His omniscience. In His earthly ministry, Jesus was still was fully Divine and at the same time a man. Considering His divinity, Jesus knew the time of His coming. In Mark 13:32, we see the humanity of Jesus.

 The implications of Christ’s self-imposed limitations of His Divine attributes are enormous. The self-imposed limitations mean Jesus truly lived as a man. Jesus felt pain when He died on the Cross.

 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV)

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) And “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


 1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Mark, Vol. 6, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 225-226. 1.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Philippians, Vol. 8, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 74.

3.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARY, e • Albany, Oregon), p. 472.

4.      John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Mark, Volume 111, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p. 154.

 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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