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Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism

Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism by Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism. This is a study in Reformed theology. This study will deal with God’s eternal decrees involving predestination. Christians that are not reformed also have theologies that attempt to understand God’s eternal degrees. The serious reader should consult the Cannons of Dort to see two competing systems in contrast.

The doctrine of predestination more than any other teaching of Scripture takes salvation out of man’s hands and places it in God’s control. The cause of God’s choosing or election is found in God Himself. If a man insists that he played a part in God’s choice, then human merit is brought into the picture. Salvation then becomes synergistic (a cooperative effort) rather than monergistic (God alone saves apart from man’s effort). Biblical salvation is monergistic. Christ alone, by his complete and finished work saves a fallen man. Within a synergistic scheme, salvation becomes a mutual effort.

The words predestination and election appear in the pages of Scripture. A Christian, therefore, must have an understanding of passages that teach this. This study of infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism will seek to clarify and help us better understand the doctrine of grace seen in God’s election of sinners. The goal of this study is to glorify God.

Therefore, we must start with the Scripture:

“My name is the LORD! I won’t let idols or humans share my glory and praise.” (Isaiah 42:8 CEV)

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)

“Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)

“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:


The view that in the plan made by God in eternity, his decree to permit the fall logically preceded his decree of election, so that when God chose some people to receive eternal life, he was choosing them from the whole mass of humanity, all regarded as fallen creatures. *


An issue within Reformed theology dealing with what may have happened in God’s mind regarding the logical order of His considering whom to elect into salvation before the foundation of the world. The word means “after the fall.” The position is that God first decided he would allow sin into the world and second that he would then save people from it. By contrast, the supralapsarian (“before the fall”) position holds that God first decided that he would save some people and then second that he would allow sin into the world. **


The view that in the plan made by God in eternity, his decree of election logically preceded his decree to permit the fall, so that when God chose “some to receive eternal life and rejected all others,” he was contemplating them as unfallen. *


An issue within Reformed theology dealing with what may have happened in God’s mind regarding the logical order of His considering whom to elect into salvation before the foundation of the world. The word means “before the fall.” This position holds that God first decided that he would save some people and then second that he would allow sin into the world. By contrast, the infralapsarian (“after the fall”) position is the reverse in that it holds that God first decided he would allow sin into the world and second that he would then save people from it. **

Scripture in support of infralapsarianism:

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19)

It will be good to look at John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on John 15:19:

“If ye were of the world … Belonged to the world, were of the same spirit and principles with it, and pursued the same practices:

the world would love its own; for every like loves it’s like; the men of the world love each other’s persons, company, and conversation:

but because ye are not of the world: once they were, being born into it, brought up in it, had their conversation among the men of it, were themselves men of carnal, worldly, principles and practices; but being called by Christ, and becoming his disciples, they were no more of it; and as he was not of the world, so they were not of it, though they were in it. The Jews distinguish the disciples of the wise men, from, “the men of the world” (u), pretending that they were not; but this is a character that only belongs to the disciples of Christ, in consequence of their being called by him out of it:

but I have chosen you out of the world: which designs not the eternal election of them, but the separation of them from the rest of the world in the effectual calling, and the designation of them to his work and service:

therefore the world hateth you; and since it was upon that account, they had no reason to be uneasy, but rather to rejoice; seeing this was an evidence of their not belonging to the world, and of being chosen and called by Christ out of it.” (1)

The next passage:

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Ephesians 1:5 is particularly helpful:

Having predestinated us – On the meaning of the word here used, see the notes at Romans 1:4, Romans 8:29 note. The word used πρωρίζω prōrizō means properly “to set bounds before;” and then to “pre-determine.” There is the essential idea of setting bounds or limits, and of doing this beforehand. It is not that God determined to do it when it was actually done, but that he intended to do it beforehand. No language could express this more clearly, and I suppose this interpretation is generally admitted. Even by those who deny the doctrine of particular election, it is not denied that the word here used means to “pre-determine;” and they maintain that the sense is, that God had pre-determined to admit the Gentiles to the privileges of his people. Admitting then that the meaning is to predestinate in the proper sense, the only question is, “who” are predestinated? To whom does the expression apply? Is it to nations or to individuals? In reply to this, in addition to the remarks already made, I would observe,

(1) that there is no specification of “nations” here as such, no mention of the Gentiles in contradistinction from the Jews.

(2) those referred to were those included in the word “us,” among whom Paul was one – but Paul was not a heathen.

(3) the same objection will lie against the doctrine of predestinating “nations” which will lie against predestinating “individuals.”

(4) nations are made up of individuals, and the pre-determination must have had some reference to individuals.

What is a nation but a collection of individuals? There is no such abstract being or thing as a nation; and if there was any purpose in regard to a nation, it must have had some reference to the individuals composing it. He that would act on the ocean, must act on the drops of water that make up the ocean; for besides the collection of drops of water there is no ocean. He that would remove a mountain, must act on the particles of matter that compose that mountain; for there is no such thing as an abstract mountain. Perhaps there was never a greater illusion than to suppose that all difficulty is removed in regard to the doctrine of election and predestination, by saying that it refers to “nations.” What difficulty is lessened? What is gained by it? How does it make God appear more amiable and good?

Does it render him less “partial” to suppose that he has made a difference among nations, than to suppose that he has made a difference among individuals? Does it remove any difficulty about the offer of salvation, to suppose that he has granted the knowledge of his truth to some “nations,” and withheld it from others? The truth is, that all the reasoning which has been founded on this supposition, has been merely throwing dust in the eyes. If there is “any” well-founded objection to the doctrine of decrees or predestination, it is to the doctrine “at all,” alike in regard to nations and individuals, and there are just the same difficulties in the one case as in the other. But there is no real difficulty in either. Who could worship or honor a God who had no plan, or purpose, or intention in what he did? Who can believe that the universe was formed and is governed without design? Who can doubt that what God “does” he always meant to do?

When, therefore, he converts and saves a soul, it is clear that he always intended to do it. He has no new plan. It is not an afterthought. It is not the work of chance. If I can find out anything that God has “done,” I have the most certain conviction that he “always meant” to do it – and this is all that is intended by the doctrine of election or predestination. What God does, he always meant to do. What he permits, he always meant to permit. I may add further, that if it is right to “do” it, it was right to “intend” to do it. If there is no injustice or partiality in the act itself, there is no injustice or partiality in the intention to perform it. If it is right to save a soul, it was also right to intend to save it. If it is right to condemn a sinner to we, it was right to intend to do it. Let us then look “at the thing itself,” and if that is not wrong, we should not blame the purpose to do it, however long it has been cherished.

Unto the adoption … – see John 1:12 note, Romans 8:15 note.

According to the good pleasure of his will – The word rendered “good pleasure” – (εὐδοκία eudokia) – means “a being well pleased;” delight in anything, favor, good-will, Luke 2:14; Philippians 1:15; compare Luke 12:32. Then it denotes purpose, or will, the idea of benevolence being included – Robinson. Rosenmuller renders the phrase, “from his most benignant decree.” The evident object of the apostle is to state why God chose the heirs of salvation. It was done as it seemed good to him in the circumstances of the case. It was not that man had any control over him, or that man was consulted in the determination, or that it was based on the good works of man, real or foreseen. But we are not to suppose that there were no good reasons for what he has thus done. Convicts are frequently pardoned by an executive. He does it according to his own will, or as seems good in his sight.

He is to be the judge, and no one has a right to control him in doing it. It may seem to be entirely arbitrary. The executive may not have communicated the reasons why he did it, either to those who are pardoned, or to the other prisoners, or to anyone else. But we are not to infer that there was no “reason” for doing it. If he is a wise magistrate, and worthy of his station, it is to be presumed that there were reasons which, if known, would be satisfactory to all. But those reasons he is under no obligations to make known. Indeed, it might be improper that they should be known. Of that he is the best judge. Meantime, however, we may see what would be the effect in those who were not forgiven. It would excite, very likely, their hatred, and they would charge him with partiality or with tyranny. But they should remember that whoever might be pardoned, and on whatever ground it might be done, they could not complain.

They would suffer no more than they deserve. But what if, when the act of pardon was made known to one part, it was offered to the others also on certain plain and easy conditions? Suppose it should appear that while the executive meant, for wise but concealed reasons, to forgive a part, he had also determined to offer forgiveness to all. And suppose that they were in fact disposed in the highest degree to neglect it, and that no inducements or arguments could prevail on them to accept of it. Who then could blame the executive? Now this is about the case in regard to God, and the doctrine of election. All people were guilty and condemned. For wise reasons, which God has not communicated to us, he determined to bring a portion at least of the human race to salvation. This he did not intend to leave to chance and hap-hazard. He saw that all would of themselves reject the offer, and that unless some efficient means were used, the blood of the atonement would be shed in vain.

He did not make known to people who they were that he meant to save, nor the reason why they particularly were to be brought to heaven. Meantime he meant to make the offer universal; to make the terms as easy as possible, and thus to take away every ground of complaint. If people will not accept of pardon; if they prefer their sins; if nothing can induce them to come and be saved, why should they complain? If the doors of a prison are open, and the chains of the prisoners are knocked off, and they will not come out, why should they complain that others are in fact willing to come out and be saved? Let it be borne in mind that the purposes of God correspond exactly to facts as they actually occur, and much of the difficulty is taken away. If in the facts there is no just ground of complaint, there can be none, because it was the intention of God that the facts should be so. (2)

Scriptures in support of supralapsarianism:

“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:17, 19-21)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary sums up Paul’s argument in Romans perfectly:

“He argueth from the less to the greater, that if a potter hath power over his clay, to form it as he pleaseth, then God hath much more power over his creatures, to form them or order them as he listeth. God’s authority over his creature, is greater than that of a potter over his clay. The potter made not his clay; but both clay and potter are made by God. Here is something implied, that as there is no difference in the matter or lump out of which the potter frameth diversity of vessels, so there is no difference in mankind; all men are alike by nature, and in the same corrupt state; both those who are elected, and those who are rejected, that are made vessels of mercy, or vessels of wrath. And here is this expressed, that as the potter maketh vessels of honour or dishonour, of nobler or viler use, out of the same lump, as he listeth, and is not bound to give a reason of his so doing to his pots; so God may choose some, and reject others, and give no account thereof unto his creatures. The potter takes nothing from the clay, of what form soever he makes it; and the Creator doth no wrong to the creature, however he doth dispose of it.” (3)


Among those who call themselves Calvinists there has been some difference of opinion as to the order of events in the Divine plan. The question here is, when the decrees of election and reprobation came into existence were men considered as fallen or as unfallen? Were the objects of these decrees contemplated as members of a sinful, corrupt mass, or were they contemplated merely as men whom God would create?

According to the infralapsarian view the order of events was as follows: God proposed,

1. to create;

2. to permit the fall;

3. to elect to eternal life and blessedness a great multitude out of this mass of fallen men, and to leave the others, as He left the Devil and the fallen angels, to suffer the just punishment of their sins;

4. to give His Son, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of the elect; and

5. to send the Holy Spirit to apply to the elect the redemption which was purchased by Christ.

According to the supralapsarian view the order of events was:

1. to elect some creatable men (that is, men who were to be created) to life and to condemn others to destruction;

2. to create;

3. to permit the fall;

4. to send Christ to redeem the elect; and

5. to send the Holy Spirit to apply this redemption to the elect The question then is as to whether election precedes or follows the fall.

One of the leading motives in the supralapsarian scheme is to emphasize the idea of discrimination and to push this idea into the whole of God’s dealings with men. We believe, however, that supralapsarianism over-emphasizes this idea. In the very nature of the case this idea cannot be consistently carried out, e.g., in creation, and especially in the fall. It was not merely some of the members of the human race who were objects of the decree to create, but all mankind, and that with the same nature. And it was not merely some men, but the entire race, which was permitted to fall. Supralapsarianism goes to as great an extreme on the one side as does universalism on the other. Only the infralapsarian scheme is self-consistent or consistent with other facts.

In regard to this difference Dr. Warfield writes: “The mere putting of the question seems to carry its answer with it. For the actual dealing with men which is in question, is, with respect to both classes alike, those who are elected and those who are passed by, conditioned on sin; we cannot speak of salvation any more than of reprobation without positing sin. Sin is necessarily precedent in thought, not indeed to the abstract idea of discrimination, but to the concrete instance of discrimination which is in question, a discrimination with regard to a destiny which involves either salvation or punishment. There must be sin in contemplation to ground a decree of salvation, as truly as a decree of punishment. We cannot speak of a decree discriminating between men with reference to salvation and punishment, therefore, without positing the contemplation of men as sinners as its logical prius.”1

And to the same effect Dr. Charles Hodge says:

“It is a clearly revealed Scriptural principle that where there is no sin there is no condemnation. . . . He hath mercy upon one and not on another, according to His own good pleasure, because all are equally unworthy and guilty . . . Everywhere, as in Romans 1:24, 26, 28, reprobation is declared to be judicial, founded upon the sinfulness of its object. Otherwise, it could not be a manifestation of the justice of God.” 2

It is not in harmony with the Scripture ideas of God that innocent men, men who are not contemplated as sinners, should be foreordained to eternal misery and death. The decrees concerning the saved ‘and the lost should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign, but this sovereignty is not exercised in an arbitrary way. Rather it is a sovereignty exercised in harmony with His other attributes, especially His justice, holiness, and wisdom. God cannot commit sin; and in that respect He is limited, although it would be more accurate to speak of His inability to commit sin as a perfection. There is, of course, mystery in connection with either system; but the supralapsarian system seems to pass beyond mystery and into contradiction.

The Scriptures are practically infralapsarian, — Christians are said to have been chosen “out of” the world, John 15:19; the potter has a right over the clay, “from the same lump,” to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor, Rom. 9:21; and the elect and the non-elect are regarded as being originally in a common state of misery. Suffering and death are uniformly represented as the wages of sin. The infralapsarian scheme naturally commends itself to our ideas of justice and mercy; and it is at least free from the Arminian objection that God simply creates some men in order to damn them. Augustine and the great majority of those who have held the doctrine of Election since that time have been and are infralapsarians, — that is, they believe that it was from the mass of fallen men that some were elected to eternal life while others were sentenced to eternal death for their sins. There is no Reformed confession which teaches the supralapsarian view; but on the other hand a considerable number do explicitly teach the infralapsarian view, which thus emerges as the typical form of Calvinism. At the present day it is probably safe to say that not more than one Calvinist in a hundred holds the supralapsarian view. We are Calvinists strongly enough, but not “high Calvinists.” By a “high Calvinist” we mean one who holds the supralapsarian view.

It is of course true that in either system the sovereign choice of God in election is stressed and salvation in its whole course is the work of God. Opponents usually stress the supralapsarian system since it is the one which without explanation is more likely to conflict with man’s natural feelings and impressions. It is also true that there are some things here which cannot be put into the time mould, — that these events are not in the Divine mind as they are in ours, by a succession of acts, one after another, but that by one single act God has at once ordained all these things. In the Divine mind the plan is a unit, each part of which is designed with reference to a state of facts which God intended should result from the other parts. All of the decrees are eternal. They have a logical, but not a chronological, relationship. Yet in order for us to reason intelligently about them we must have a certain order of thought. We very naturally think of the gift of Christ in sanctification and glorification as following the decrees of the creation and the fall.

In regard to the teaching of the Westminster Confession, Dr. Charles Hodge makes the following comment:

“Twiss, the Prolocutor of that venerable body (the Westminster Assembly), was a zealous supralapsarian; the great majority of its members, however, were on the other side. The symbols of that Assembly, while they clearly imply the infralapsarian view, were yet so framed as to avoid offence to those who adopted the supralapsarian theory. In the ‘Westminster Confession,’ it is said that God appointed the elect unto eternal life, and the rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.’ It is here taught that those whom God passes by are ‘the rest of mankind’; not the rest of ideal or possible men, but the rest of those human beings who constitute mankind, or the human race. In the second place, the passage quoted teaches that the non-elect are passed by and ordained to wrath ‘for their sin.’ This implies that they were contemplated as sinful before this foreordination to judgment. The infralapsarian view is still more obviously assumed in the answer to the 19th and 20th questions in the ‘Shorter Catechism.’ It is there taught that all mankind by the fall lost communion with God, and are under His wrath and curse, and that God out of His mere good pleasure elected some (some of those under His wrath and curse), unto everlasting life. Such has been the doctrine of the great body of Augustinians from the time of Augustine to the present day.” 3

Notes referenced in the article:

1. The Plan of Salvation, p. 28.

2. Systematic Theology, II, p. 318.

3. Systematic Theology, II, p. 317. (4)

Conclusions from the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology published by Baker:

Infralapsarianism, (Sublapsarianism)

(Lat. for “after the fall,” sometimes designated “sublapsarianism”). A part of the doctrine of predestination, specifically that which relates to the decrees of election and reprobation. The issues involved are God’s eternal decrees and man’s will, how can the one be affirmed without denying the other. If one argues for God’s predetermination of mankind’s fate, this tends to deny mankind’s free will and threatens to make God responsible for sin.

On the other hand, if one argues for the freedom of mankind’s will, thus making man responsible for sin, this can threaten the sovereignty and power of God since his decrees then are contingent upon mankind’s decisions. The argument / dilemma is not new. Pelagius and Augustine argued over the issue with the Synod of Orange, 529, which sided with Augustine. In the Middle Ages, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham questioned Augustine’s position. Luther and Erasmus argued the issue in Freedom of the Will and Bondage of the Will. Melanchthon got involved and was accused by Flacius of synergism, and by the end of the sixteenth century the position of Arminius stirred the controversy among the Reformed, who attempted to resolve the issue at the Synod of Dort.

What is the order of the eternal decrees of God? Infralapsarians argue for this order:

(1) God decreed the creation of mankind, a good, blessed creation, not marred or flawed.

(2) God decreed mankind would be allowed to fall through its own self determination.

(3) God decreed to save some of the fallen.

(4) God decreed to leave the rest to their just fate of condemnation.

(5) God provides the Redeemer for the saved.

(6) God sends the Holy Spirit to effect redemption among the saved.

The key to the order of the decrees is that God decreed election to salvation after the fall, not before; hence the name of the view “infralapsarianism.” The supralapsarian view would offer an order in which the decree for election and reprobation occurs before the creation. Those on both sides of the issue cite weighty arguments for their positions, quote Scripture as a foundation, and comb through Augustine, Calvin, and others for support. Generally most Reformed assemblies have refused to make either infra – or supralapsarianism normative, although the tendency has been to favor the former without condemning those who hold to the latter.
R V Schnucker
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary) (5)


The doctrine that God decreed both election and reprobation before the fall. Supralapsarianism differs from infralapsarianism on the relation of God’s decree to human sin. The differences go back to the conflict between Augustine and Pelagius. Before the Reformation, the main difference was whether Adam’s fall was included in God’s eternal decree; supralapsarians held that it was, but infralapsarians acknowledged only God’s foreknowledge of sin. Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were agreed that Adam’s fall was somehow included in God’s decree; it came to be referred to as a “permissive decree,” and all insisted that God was in no way the author of sin. As a result of the Reformers’ agreement, after the Reformation the distinction between infra – and supralapsarianism shifted to differences on the logical order of God’s decrees.

Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor at Geneva, was the first to develop supralapsarianism in this new sense. By the time of the Synod of Dort in 1618 – 19, a heated intraconfessional controversy developed between infra – and supralapsarians; both positions were represented at the synod. Francis Gomarus, the chief opponent of James Arminius, was a supralapsarian.

The question of the logical, not the temporal, order of the eternal decrees reflected differences on God’s ultimate goal in predestination and on the specific objects of predestination. Supralapsarians considered God’s ultimate goal to be his own glory in election and reprobation, while infralapsarians considered predestination subordinate to other goals. The object of predestination, according to supralapsarians, was uncreated and unfallen humanity, while infralapsarians viewed the object as created and fallen humanity.

The term “supralapsarianism” comes from the Latin words supra and lapsus; the decree of predestination was considered to be “above” (supra) or logically “before” the decree concerning the fall (lapsus), while the infralapsarians viewed it as “below” (infra) or logically “after” the decree concerning the fall. The contrast of the two views is evident from the following summaries.

The logical order of the decrees in the supralapsarian scheme is:

(1) God’s decree to glorify himself through the election of some and the reprobation of others;

(2) as a means to that goal, the decree to create those elected and reprobated;

(3) the decree to permit the fall; and

(4) the decree to provide salvation for the elect through Jesus Christ.

The logical order of the decrees according to infralapsarians is:

(1) God’s decree to glorify himself through the creation of the human race;

(2) the decree to permit the fall;

(3) the decree to elect some of the fallen race to salvation and to pass by the others and condemn them for their sin; and

(4) the decree to provide salvation for the elect through Jesus Christ.

Infralapsarians were in the majority at the Synod of Dort. The Arminians tried to depict all the Calvinists as representatives of the “repulsive” supralapsarian doctrine. Four attempts were made at Dort to condemn the supralapsarian view, but the efforts were unsuccessful. Although the Canons of Dort do not deal with the order of the divine decrees, they are infralapsarian in the sense that the elect are “chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction” (I, 7; cf. I, 1). The reprobate “are passed by in the eternal decree” and God “decreed to leave (them) in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves” and “to condemn and punish them forever…for all their sins” (I, 15).

Defenders of supralapsarianism continued after Dort. The chairman of the Westminister Assembly, William Twisse, was a supralapsarian but the Westminister standards do not favor either position. Although supralapsarianism never received confessional endorsement within the Reformed churches, it has been tolerated within the confessional boundaries. In 1905 the Reformed churches of the Netherlands and the Christian Reformed Church in 1908 adopted the Conclusions of Utrecht, which stated that “our Confessional Standards admittedly follow the infralapsarian presentation in respect to the doctrine of election, but that it is evident…that this in no wise intended to exclude or condemn the supralapsarian presentation.” Recent defenders of the supralapsarian position have been Gerhardus Vos, Herman Hoeksema, and G H Kersten.
F H Klooster
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary) (6)

In closing:

From The Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

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


1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, John, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 504.

2. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Ephesians, pp. 3354-3356 .

3. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Romans, vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 511.

4. Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing CO. signed copy 1984), pp. 126-130.

5. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 560-561.

6. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 1059-1060.

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

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:


** CARM theological dictionary

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Simul Justus Et Peccator

Simul Justus Et Peccator By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand how justification happens. The Latin phrase (simul justus et peccator) will be the springboard to help us understand the doctrine of justification. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:

simul justus et peccator:

“Latin for “at the same time just and sinner,” a formula Martin Luther used to communicate “the objective reality of justification by faith alongside the Christian’s continual struggle against sin.” *

simul justus et peccator:

“‘Simil’ is the word from which we get the English ‘simultaneous;’ it means ‘at the same time.’ ‘Justus’ is the Latin word for ‘just’ or ‘righteous.’ ‘Et’ simply means ‘and.’ ‘Peccator’ means ‘sinner.’ So, with this formula, – ‘at the same time just and sinner’ – Luther was saying that in our justification, we are at the same time righteous and sinful. …He was saying that, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, we are sinners. In and of ourselves, under God’s scrutiny, we still have sin. But by God’s imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to our accounts, we are considered just.” See endnote 5

Simul justus et peccator”—“Simultaneously righteous and sinner”

Scripture teaching

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Romans 4:5 get this exactly right:

But to him that worketh not – Who does not rely on his conformity to the Law for his justification; who does not depend on his works; who seeks to be justified in some other way. The reference here is to the Christian plan of justification.

But believeth – Note, Romans 3:26.

On him – On God. Thus, the connection requires; for the discussion has immediate reference to Abraham, whose faith was in the promise of God.

That justifieth the ungodly – This is a very important expression. It implies,

(1) That people are sinners, or are ungodly.

(2) that God regards them as such when they are justified. He does not justify them because he sees them to be, or regards them to be righteous; but knowing that they are in fact polluted. He does not first esteem them, contrary to fact, to be pure; but knowing that they are polluted, and that they deserve no favor, he resolves to forgive them, and to treat them as his friends.

(3) in themselves they are equally undeserving, whether they are justified or not. Their souls have been defiled by sin; and that is known when they are pardoned. God judges things as they are; and sinners who are justified, he judges not as if they were pure, or as if they had a claim; but he regards them as united by faith to the Lord Jesus; and in this relation he judges that they should be treated as his friends, though they have been, are, and always will be, personally undeserving. It is not meant that the righteousness of Christ is transferred to them, so as to become personally theirs – for moral character cannot be transferred; nor that it is infused into them, making them personally meritorious – for then they could not be spoken of as ungodly; but that Christ died in their stead, to atone for their sins, and is regarded and esteemed by God to have died; and that the results or benefits of his death are so reckoned or imputed to believers as to make it proper for God to regard and treat them as if they had themselves obeyed the Law; that is, as righteous in his sight; see the note at Romans 4:3. (1)

“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” (Romans 4:6)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Romans 4:6 is superb:

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man,…. the apostle having instanced in Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, cites some passages from David, king of Israel, a person of great note and esteem among the Jews, in favour of the doctrine he is establishing; who in a very proper and lively manner describes the happiness of such persons:

unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. This righteousness cannot be the righteousness of the law, or man’s obedience to it; for that is a righteousness with works, is a man’s own, and not imputed; and indeed is not a righteousness in the sight of God: nor does man’s blessedness lie in, or come by it; no man is, or can be instilled by it, nor saved by it, or attain to heaven and eternal happiness by the means of it; but the righteousness here spoken of is the righteousness of Christ, called the righteousness of God; and is better than that of angels or men; is complete and perfect; by which the law is honoured, and justice is satisfied. This is freely bestowed, and graciously “imputed” by God. Just in the same way his righteousness becomes ours, as Adam’s sin did, which is by imputation; or in the same way that our sins became Christ’s, his righteousness becomes ours; and as we have no righteousness of our own when God justifies us, this must be done by the righteousness of another; and that can be done no other way by the righteousness of another, than by imputing it to us: and which is done “without works”; not without the works of Christ, of which this righteousness consists; but without the works of the creature, or any consideration of them, which are utterly excluded from justification; for if these came into account, it would not be of grace, and boasting would not be removed. Now such who have this righteousness thus imputed to them, are happy persons; they are justified from all sin, and freed from all condemnation; their persons and services are acceptable to God; it will be always well with them; they are heirs of glory, and shall enjoy it. (2)

Simul Iustus et Peccator from the Monergism web site:

To one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

How is the Christian to see himself in this world? “Simul iustus et peccator” – “At the same time righteous and a sinner.” Justification is forensic. In Christ, we are declared, counted or reckoned to be righteous when God imputes the righteousness of Christ (an “alien righteousness”) to our account. Christ’s righteousness ascribed to the redeemed individual without their personal merit. We are declared righteous in Christ, it is imputed to us — it is counted as ours … not infused in us. We are counted righteous in God’s eyes because of Christ. But this does not make us righteous in ourselves. That will only happen at our glorification when Christ transforms these bodies to be sealed in righteousness. Justifying righteousness is something, which always resides in the Person of Christ alone. The imputation of this “alien” righteousness is the only means by which man can be acceptable to God. As long as the Christian lives, he is guilty in himself, but “in Christ” he is righteous and accounted precious.

Righteousness through Christ is called an “alien” righteousness because it did not generate from us. It is not our righteousness; it is his. It is an alien righteousness because it came from without, and now it is in a foreign land. It does not belong here; it is an alien righteousness. In Latin, we call it simul iustus et peccator: simul, simultaneously; iustus, just; et, and; peccator, sinful. That is me – simultaneously righteous and sinful. That is my contribution to salvation — my sin! At the same time that I am a sinner, God sees me as righteous because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That is the message of outreach — it is the message of salvation.

Righteousness comes in two ways: coram deo (righteousness before God) and coram hominibus (before man). Instead of a development in righteousness based in the person, or an infusion of merit from the saints, a person is judged righteous before God because of the works of Christ. But, absent the perspective of God and the righteousness of Christ, based on one’s own merit—a Christian still looks like a sinner. The declaration involves God imputing to the believer’s “balance sheet” or account the alien righteousness of Christ. The believer is not declared righteous by virtue of his own merit, but on the basis of the merit of Christ. When united to Him, it is justification, which becomes the foundation upon which the believer can stand with confidence coram dei. The believer has no cause to fear in the presence of God because of His acquittal. The believer has only and always to look to the finished work of Christ on the Cross and hear God’s declaration, “You are accepted.” Because of justification, the believer does not fear God’s rejection because of the sin still present in his/her life. God does not look at the sin in our life except through the work of Christ. This tension is resolved in the Incarnate Christ, crucified and now risen for the life of the world.

Eternal life is Christ dwelling in His righteousness in the soul of the justified person. So eternal life is union with Jesus Christ. And the word for that union with him is faith. The sinners comes to him, rests in him, trusts in him, is one with him, abides with him; and this is life because it never ends. The united soul abides in the Vine eternally. Weakness, sin, proneness to sin never brings separation, but only the Father’s pruning, which cements the union even and ever tighter.

The Judge of all the earth declares us “not guilty” when we believe because Christ was pronounced “guilty” for us on the cross. We are not first made righteous, then declared righteous; we are declared righteous by grace through faith in Christ, and then made righteous! When we believe, God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us ‘as if’ it were our own. However, it is HIS righteousness, that is why Paul says in Romans 1:17 that there is a righteousness that has been revealed from God, a righteousness not of our own, but a righteousness revealed from God and freely given to those who do not work, but to those who believe. In light of the goodness and graciousness of God who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, we should daily repent of our own self-righteousness (our works), the words imply a declaration and pronouncement from the divine court of the believer’s right standing with God. “Justification” in itself does not mean a change in the man, but a declaration of how he appears in God’s sight.

Through faith we run to Christ and hold fast to Him, who satisfied the law on our behalf (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:10-13). In this way, we are accounted righteous in the sight of God through faith alone, without doing the works of the law. We are simul iustus et peccator.

Luther recognized that even in a state of regeneration the believer still lives in the world and still in fact does commit acts of sin. There is no attempt to redefine sin to make it anything less than what it is. Rather there is a stark recognition of the dialectic of the Christian’s acceptance before God and the fact that he still sins. Luther’s phrase to describe this condition was that the state of the Christian between regeneration and ultimate glorification is simul iustus et peccator, at once just (or justified) and sinner. This is not a condition that will ever be transcended in this life. Rather, the believer must always rely on the finished work of Christ for his/her acceptance before God. (3)


Definition of Justification

The establishment of a sinner in a righteous standing before God. The verb dikaioo means “to declare or demonstrate to be righteous” (Matt. 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29; 10:29). The cognate nouns are dikaiosune (Rom. 1:17), dikaiosis (Rom. 4:25), and dikaioma (Rom. 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” (Q. 33; see 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 (Rom. 3:26). The imputed righteousness of Christ gives the believer “the adoption of children” (Gal. 4:5) and the title to eternal life.

Characteristics of Justification

1. Justification is an act, not a process (Rom. 5:1). It is something that has taken place in the justified, not something that is constantly taking place.

2. It is an act of the free grace of God toward sinners who are personally guilty and deserving of His wrath (Rom. 3:25).

3. It is a forensic act. It describes a change in the legal standing of the justified person. It does not describe the inner moral change God effects in all those whom He saves (2 Cor. 5:21). This is a vital truth. “God made him [Christ] to be sin for us” does not mean that Christ became morally corrupted. It solely describes a forensic transaction. Similarly, when as a result of that transaction we are “made the righteousness of God in him,” there is no reference to an inner moral change. It does not mean we are made morally sinless or pure. It means that God has radically changed our legal standing before His law. Thus justify means “to declare righteous,” not “to make righteous” (see Psa. 51:4). The statement in Rom. 5:19 that through Christ’s obedience “shall many be made righteous” uses the verb kathistemi, which means, “appoint, constitute.” It describes the place we occupy, not a purification of our nature.

4. It is a just act, for it proceeds on the ground of the imputed righteousness of Christ (Rom. 5:19). This text makes it clear that the righteousness of Christ’s obedience in life and death is imputed as the ground of justification. Christ is the righteousness of the justified (1 Cor. 1:30; Jer. 23:6). This answers the objection that unless justification is an actual infusion of grace and moral purity, God would be lying to declare any man righteous. Paul states bluntly that God “justifieth the ungodly” (Rom. 5:5), not the godly, the sanctified. How can the God of truth declare the ungodly righteous? By crediting all the perfect righteousness of Christ to their account (see Imputation).

5. It is a once-and-for-all act. It can neither be reversed nor repeated (Heb. 10:2; Rom. 8:30).

6. It is equally complete in all the justified. It cannot be increased or decreased (Rom. 5:19; 1 Cor. 1:30). All Christians are not equally mature, or holy. But all believers are equally “justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). They all have the same basis for their acceptance by God, the righteousness of Christ.

7. It invariably leads to glorification. No justified person can perish: “whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30).

8. It is received by faith without works (Rom. 3:20–22; 4:1–8, 24; 5:1; Gal. 3:5–12; see Sola Fide). Some imagine that James contradicts this in James 2:18–26, notably in verse 24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

There is no discrepancy between Paul and James. There is a difference of emphasis in response to the particular form of opposition each apostle was combatting. Paul was opposing the legalist who taught justification by works. James was opposing the antinomian (see Antinomianism) whose profession of justifying faith was united to a life of blatant ungodliness. Paul teaches that we are justified by faith as the sole instrument of reception, excluding works or any mixture of faith and works. James teaches that the faith that justifies is never alone. It is a living faith and therefore will express itself in good works. Good works are the evidence of the reality of justifying faith, not a substitute for it, a preparation for it, or an addition to it. Buchanan in his Justification, terms justification according to Paul actual justification, and justification according to James declarative justification.

Confusion about Justification

The doctrine of justification lies at the very heart of all biblical soteriology. Yet prior to the Reformation, confusion reigned on the meaning of the term. Even in very early times, the legal aspect of justification so clearly set forth in the NT was overlooked with the result that it was common for justification to be confused with regeneration or sanctification.

Justification Confused with Regeneration. Thomas Aquinas set the standard for medieval views on the subject. He taught that the first element in justification was the infusion of grace, on the ground of which the second element, pardon for sins, was given. Thus, the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification in baptism was laid down. As Aquinas’ doctrine was developed, Rome came to assert more and more blatantly that the justification received in baptism could be increased or lost by human activity. This laid the ground for the Tridentine decree that justification depends at least in part upon personal merit.

Justification Confused with Sanctification. Confounding justification and sanctification led to the error of viewing justification as a process (e.g. , Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, chap. 16, canon 24). This characteristic error of Romanism has found acceptance in many other quarters. Many early Anabaptists espoused it. To this day, it is the mark of all false gospels to equate justification with sanctification as the basis of a doctrine of salvation by works.

Distinctions Between Justification and Sanctification

Scripture carefully marks the difference between justification and sanctification. Berkhof notes:

“1. Justification removes the guilt of sin and restores the sinner to all the filial rights involved in his state as a child of God, including eternal inheritance. Sanctification removes the pollution of sin and renews the sinner ever increasingly in conformity with the image of God.

“2. Justification takes place outside of the sinner in the tribunal of God, and does not change his inner life, though the sentence is brought home to him subjectively. Sanctification on the other hand, takes place in the inner life of man and gradually affects his whole being.

“3. Justification takes place once for all. It is not repeated, neither is it a process; it is complete at once and for all time. There is no more or less in justification, man is either fully justified, or he is not justified at all. In distinction from it, sanctification is a continuous process, which is never completed in this life.

“4. While the meritorious cause of both lies in the merits of Christ, there is a difference in the efficient cause. Speaking economically, God the Father declares the sinner righteous, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies him” (Systematic Theology, pp. 513, 514).

Justification the Same for OT and NT Believers

This justification is in all respects the same for believers under both the Old and New Testaments (Gal. 3:9, 13, 14; Rom. 4:1–6, 16). Abraham was justified on the very same ground and in the very same way as believers in the NT . We are “blessed with faithful Abraham.” He is the “father of all them that believe” (Rom. 4:11). David rejoiced in the very same justification we enjoy (Ps. 32:1, 2; Rom. 4:6). The only righteousness that ever gave any man a title to heaven is the righteousness of Christ freely imputed to him and received by faith alone.


Luther’s insight was accurate when he declared the biblical doctrine of justification to be articulus ecclesiae stantis aut cadentis, the article of faith that marks whether a church is standing or falling. Paul realized its immense importance to the entire gospel scheme and pronounced God’s curse on anyone, even an angel from heaven, who preached any other gospel (Gal. 1:8, 9). This is the gospel of which the apostle was “not ashamed … for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16). (4)

Double Imputation by R. C. Sproul

“If any word was at the center of the firestorm of the Reformation controversy and remains central to the debate even in our day, it is imputation. …We cannot really understand what the Reformation was about without understanding the central importance of this concept.”

“…If any statement summarizes and capture the essence of the Reformation view, it is Luther’s famous Latin formula ‘simul justus et peccator.’ ‘Simil’ is the word from which we get the English ‘simultaneous;’ it means ‘at the same time.’ ‘Justus’ is the Latin word for ‘just’ or ‘righteous.’ ‘Et’ simply means ‘and.’ ‘Peccator’ means ‘sinner.’ So, with this formula, – ‘at the same time just and sinner’ – Luther was saying that in our justification, we are at the same time righteous and sinful. …He was saying that, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, we are sinners. In and of ourselves, under God’s scrutiny, we still have sin. But by God’s imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to our accounts, we are considered just.”

“This is the very heart of the gospel. In order to get into heaven, will I be judged by my righteousness or by the righteousness of Christ? If I have to trust in my righteousness to get into heaven, I must completely and utterly despair of any possibility of ever being redeemed. But when we see that the righteousness that is ours by faith is the perfect righteousness of Christ, we see how glorious is the good news of the gospel. The good news is simply this: I can be reconciled to God. I can be justified, not on the basis of what I do, but on the basis of what has been accomplished for me by Christ.”

“Of course, Protestantism really teaches a double imputation. Our sin is imputed to Jesus and his righteousness is imputed to us. In this twofold transaction, we see that God does not compromise his integrity in providing salvation for his people. Rather, he punishes sin fully after it has been imputed to Jesus. This is why he is able to be both ‘just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus’ as Paul writes in Romans 3:26. So my sin goes to Jesus and his righteousness comes to me.”

“This is a truth worth dividing the church.”

“This is the article on which the church stands or falls, because it is the article on which we all stand or fall.” (5)

From the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 11, Of Justification:

I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

In conclusion:

In further reflection upon biblical justification, it involves understanding the Hebrew verb tsayke, which both the Greek word dikaioun and the Latin justificare refer, and is used in Scripture when dealing with passages on forensic or declared judicial righteousness. The Hebrew verb is forensic and means to absolve someone in a trial, or to hold or to declare just, as opposed to the verb to condemn and to incriminate. See Exodus 23:7; Deuteronomy 25:1; Job 9:3; Psalms 143:2; Proverbs 17:15; Luke 18:14, Romans 4:3-5; and Acts 13:39. The Scriptures are unmistakable in establishing our justification because of how Christ bore the wrath of God for us (see Romans 4:1-7). Justification does not happen repeatedly. Christ has died once for all of our sins (not just some), and the Father on our behalf accepted His death as our substitute. It is a finished fact!

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

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


1. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Romans, p.2094.

2. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Romans, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 84.


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

5. R. C. Sproul, Excerpt from Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism (Sanford: Reformation Trust, 2012), 43-4.

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

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:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca writes

** CARM theological dictionary


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Anthropomorphisms and Theophanies

Anthropomorphisms and Theophanies By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand anthropomorphisms and theophanies. What are they? How to avoid pitfalls in the interpretation of the Scriptures when anthropomorphism and theophanies are encountered in the Bible. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:


Narrowly, the attribution of human form to God. More broadly, a description of God using human categories; language that speaks of God in human terms, ascribing human features and qualities to him. *


God relates to us in human terms. Anthropomorphism comes from two Greek words: anthropos (man) and morphe (form). Therefore, an anthropomorphism is when God appears to us or manifests Himself to us in human form or even attributes to Himself human characteristics. **


A theophany is a visible manifestation of God usually restricted to the Old Testament. God has appeared in dreams (Genesis 20:3-7; Genesis 28:12-17), visions (Genesis 15:1-21; Isaiah 6:1-13), as an angel (Genesis 16:7-13; Gen 18:1-33), etc.

There is a manifestation known as the Angel of the Lord (Judges 6:20f.) and seems to have characteristics of God Himself (Genesis 16:7-9; Gen 18:1-2; Exodus 3:2-6; Joshua 5:14; Judges 2:1-5; Jdg 6:11). Such characteristics as having the name of God, being worshiped, and recognized as God has led many scholars to conclude that the angel of the Lord is really Jesus manifested in the Old Testament. This does not mean that Jesus is an angel. The word “angel” means messenger.

Other scriptures that describe more vivid manifestations of God are Genesis 17:1; Gen 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; Exo 24:9-11; Exo 33:20; Numbers 12:6-8; Acts 7:2. **

What is a theophany?

A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form. ***

Scriptural examples of Anthropomorphisms:

Does God have hands?

“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:5)

Does God have a face?

“And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)

Does God have feet?

“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.” (Job 23:11)

Does God have eyes and ears?

“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalm 34:15)

Is God a bird?

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4)

Is Jesus a door?

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Properly understanding anthropomorphic passages are important to avoid errors in interpretation. A large Utah based religion interprets these passages literally to teach that God exists in a corporeal and human form. They would say God has feet, ears, eye, and hands and has a white beard.

We see in Scripture something altogether different. For example, God says he is not a man:

“God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

“I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.” (Hosea11:9)

In response to these passages, the Utah based religion would say, “Yes it is true that God is not a man, although he looks like a man.”

This response would be countered with what the Bible says in the next two verses:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39)


Not only is God not a man, “God is a Spirit.” Negatively, God says he is not (a man) and positively, He says what He is (a Spirit)!

From the Pulpit Commentary on John 4:24:

Verse 24. – A still more explicit and comprehensive reason is given for the previous assertion, based on the essential nature of God himself in the fullness of his eternal Being. God is Spirit (Πνεῦμα ὁ Θεός; cf. John 1:1, Θεὸς η΅ν ὁ Λόγος, – the article indicates the subject, and the predicate is here generic, and not an indefinite; therefore we do not render it, “God is a Spirit”). The most comprehensive and far-reaching metaphor or method by which Jesus endeavoured to portray the fundamental essence of the Divine Being is “Spirit,” not body, not ὕλη, not κόσμος, but that deep inner verity presented in self-conscious ego; the substantia of which mind may be predicated, and all its states and faculties. The Father is Spirit, the Son is Spirit, and Spirit is the unity of the Father and the Son. St. John has recorded elsewhere that “God is Light,” and “God is Love.” These three Divine utterances are the sublimest ever formed to express the metaphysical, intellectual, and moral essence of the Deity. They are unfathomably deep, and quite inexhaustible in their suggestions, and yet they are not too profound for even a little child or a poor Samaritaness to grasp for practical purposes. If God be Spirit, then they who worship him, the Spirit, must by the nature of the case, must by the force of a Divine arrangement, worship him, if they worship him at all, in spirit and in truth. The truth which our Lord uttered was not unknown in the Old Testament. (1)

Spirit – From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:


[1, G4151, pneuma]

primarily denotes the wind (akin to pneo, “to breathe, blow”); also “breath;” then, especially “the spirit,” which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful. The NT uses of the word may be analyzed approximately as follows:

(a) the wind, John 3:8 (where marg. is, perhaps, to be preferred); Hebrews 1:7; cp. Amos 4:13, Sept.;

(b) the breath, 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 13:15; cp. Job 12:10, Sept.;

(c) the immaterial, invisible part of man, Luke 8:55; Acts 7:59; 1 Corinthians 5:5; James 2:26; cp. Ecclesiastes 12:7, Sept.;

(d) the disembodied (or ‘unclothed,’ or ‘naked,’ 2 Corinthians 5:3-4) man, Luke 24:37, Luke 24:39; Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 4:6;

(e) the resurrection body, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18;

(f) the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires, Matthew 5:3; Matthew 26:41; Mark 2:8; Luke 1:47, Luke 1:80; Acts 17:16; Acts 20:22; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1; cp. Genesis 26:35; Isaiah 26:9; Ezekiel 13:3; Daniel 7:15;

(g) purpose, aim, 2 Corinthians 12:18; Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:23; Revelation 19:10; cp. Ezra 1:5; Psalms 78:8; Daniel 5:12;

(h) the equivalent of the personal pronoun, used for emphasis and effect: 1st person, 1 Corinthians 16:18; cp. Genesis 6:3; 2nd person, 2 Timothy 4:22; Philemon 1:25; cp. Psalms 139:7; 3rd person, 2 Corinthians 7:13; cp. Isaiah 40:13;

(i) character, Luke 1:17; Romans 1:4; cp. Numbers 14:24;

(j) moral qualities and activities: bad, as of bondage, as of a slave, Romans 8:15; cp. Isaiah 61:3; stupor, Romans 11:8; cp. Isaiah 29:10; timidity, 2 Timothy 1:7; cp. Joshua 5:1; good, as of adoption, i.e., liberty as of a son, Romans 8:15; cp. Psalms 51:12; meekness, 1 Corinthians 4:21; cp. Proverbs 16:19; faith, 2 Corinthians 4:13; quietness, 1 Peter 3:4; cp. Proverbs 14:29

(k) the Holy Spirit, e.g., Matthew 4:1 (See below); Luke 4:18;

(l) ‘the inward man’ (an expression used only of the believer, Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16); the new life, Romans 8:4-Romans 8:6, Romans 8:10, Romans 8:16; Hebrews 12:9; cp. Psalms 51:10;

(m) unclean spirits, demons, Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:33; 1 Peter 3:19; cp. 1 Samuel 18:10;

(n) angels, Hebrews 1:14; cp. Acts 12:15;

(o) divine gift for service, 1 Corinthians 14:12, 1 Corinthians 14:32;

(p) by metonymy, those who claim to be depostories of these gifts, 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 John 4:1-3;

(q) the significance, as contrasted with the form, of words, or of a rite, John 6:63; Romans 2:29; Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6;

(r) a vision, Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 21:10.” * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp 204,205.] (2)

See below in the for more study # area for a biblical and philosophical examination of does God have a body.

Anthropomorphisms from Nave’s Topical Bible:

(Figures of speech, which attribute human forms, acts, and affections to God)


Genesis 2:2; Genesis 2:3; Genesis 2:19; 6:6; 9:16; Genesis 11:5; Genesis 11:7; Genesis 18:17-19; Genesis 18:21; Genesis 18:33; 19:29; 22:12; 28:13; 35:13; Exodus 2:24; 3:8; 14:24; 20:5; 31:17; 32:14; Numbers 11:25; Judges 2:18; 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Psalms 31:2; 33:6; 35:1-3; 36:7; 57:1; 68:17; 94:9; 121:4; Isaiah 1:15; Ezekiel 1:24 Ezekiel 1:28; Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Peter 3:12



Isaiah 43:26; 63:11

Assisted by tokens

Genesis 9:16


Isaiah 1:18


Psalms 147:5


Romans 9:19



Genesis 3:8; Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 23:14; Job 22:14; Habakkuk 3:15


Genesis 2:2 Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:11; 31:17; Deuteronomy 5:14; Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 4:10

Does not faint

Isaiah 40:28


Isaiah 59:16; 63:5; Mark 6:6


Psalms 2:4; 37:13; 59:8; Proverbs 1:26


Psalms 44:23; 78:61


Genesis 6:6; Judges 10:16; Psalms 95:10; Hebrews 3:10 Hebrews 3:17


Isaiah 62:8; Hebrews 6 (3)

In addition to the anthropomorphic passages, there are occurrences of where God has revealed himself in human form. How do we explain this and what does this mean? These appearances are called theophanies. This is a new term. It is similar to an anthropomorphism.

Theophany from the Dictionary of Bible Themes:

1454 theophany

A temporary visible manifestation of the presence and glory of God. This may be in natural phenomena such as cloud or fire, in human form or in prophetic visionary experience.

God is manifested in nature

God’s presence in storms, thunder and lightning Ps 18:7-15; Ex 19:16 See also Ex 20:18; Job 37:5; Ps 29:3-9; Ps 77:18; Ps 97:4; Isa 30:27-33; Am 1:2; Hab 3:11; Zec 9:14; Rev 11:19

God’s presence in volcanic phenomena Ex 19:18 See also Isa 30:33

God’s presence in earthquakes Isa 29:5-6 See also Jdg 5:4-5; Ps 77:18; Hab 3:6

Specific phenomena associated with the presence of God

Fire signifies God’s presence Ex 3:2 Fire in particular represents the purity, holiness and unapproachability of God. See also Ex 13:21; Ex 19:18; Ex 24:17; Lev 9:24; Nu 14:14; Dt 4:11-12; Dt 5:4,22-26; Jdg 13:20-22; Ps 97:3; Joel 2:30

Smoke signifies God’s presence Ex 19:18 See also Ex 20:18; Ps 144:5; Isa 6:4; Isa 30:27; Joel 2:30; Rev 15:8

Cloud signifies God’s presence Ex 16:10 Cloud and smoke convey the mystery and transcendence of God. See also Ex 13:21 God speaks to Moses from the cloud: Ex 19:9; Ex 24:15-16; Ex 33:9; Ex 34:5; Dt 31:15

Lev 16:2; Nu 9:15-22; Nu 14:14; 1Ki 8:10-11; Eze 1:4; Eze 10:3-4 The transfiguration of Jesus Christ: Mt 17:5 pp Mk 9:7 pp Lk 9:34-35

Rev 14:14-16

God is manifested in human or angelic form

Ge 16:7-13 See also Ge 18:1-22; Ge 32:24-30; Jos 5:13-15

God appears in prophetic visions

God appears on a throne Isa 6:1 John interprets this verse to refer to Jesus Christ (Jn 12:41). See also Eze 1:26; Eze 10:1; Da 7:9; Rev 4:2; Rev 20:11

God appears attended by angels and other heavenly beings Isa 6:2; Eze 1:5-18; Eze 10:9-13; Rev 4:6-11

God appears like, or with, precious stones Ex 24:10; Eze 1:26; Rev 4:3

Functions and effects of theophanies

Theophanies reveal God’s glory Eze 10:4 See also Ex 16:10; Ex 24:16; Ex 40:34-35; Lev 9:23-24; Nu 14:10; 1Ki 8:11; 2Ch 7:1-3; Ps 29:3,9; Ps 97:2-6; Eze 11:22-23

Theophanies bring judgment Isa 30:27 See also Nu 12:9-10; Ps 18:13-15

Theophanies arouse the fear of God Ex 19:16; Ex 20:18-20; Isa 6:5

Theophanies commission God’s servants Isa 6:8; Eze 1:28-2:1

Theophanies authenticate God’s servants Nu 12:5-8

See also

1045 God, glory of

1065 God, holiness of

1310 God as judge

1403 God, revelation

1469 visions

2595 incarnation

4060 nature

4140 angel of the Lord

4180 seraphim

4805 clouds

4826 fire

4851 storm

“And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.” (Genesis 12:7-9)

There are other examples of theophanies in Genesis 18:1-33 and Genesis 32:22-30. (4)

Comments in conclusion:

The Bible uses many literary forms. For example, it uses genera’s such as law, historical narrative, wisdom, poetical, gospel, didactic letters, or epistles, predictive, and apocalyptic literature. When reading poetical portions of Scripture, you should recognize the difference from the didactic letters of Paul.

For example when you read:

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4).

In Psalm 91:4, you must understand the genera of literature as poetical and not interpret it literally. Whereas in contrast:

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9 ESV).

This passage in Romans is straightforward doctrinal teaching and every reason to take the passage literally.

Hermeneutical safeguards

Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method:

What is the Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method? This method of interpretation focuses attention not only on literary forms but also upon grammatical constructions and historical contexts from which the Scriptures were written. It is the literal school of interpretation. Knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and history is crucial to this process. With tools such as a Strong’s Concordance, any layman can utilize this method.

Exegesis, the interpretive norm:

Exegesis (from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι’ to lead out’) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term is used for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage, it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text. The goal of biblical exegesis is to explore the meaning of the text, which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance.

Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds for the author, the text and the original audience. Other analysis includes classification of the type of literary genres present in the text, and an analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.

Eisegesis, the interpretive danger:

Eisegesis (from Greek εἰς “into” and ending from exegesis from ἐξηγεῖσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own ideas, reading into the text. This is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning of the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective. An individual who practices eisegesis is known as an eisegete, as someone who practices exegesis is known as an exegete.

Understanding the Bible is not that hard; The Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16); yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105, 130).

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


1. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, John, Vol. 17, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p.169-170.

2. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), p. 1075-1076.

3. Nave, Orville J. Nave’s Topical Bible “Entry for ‘Anthropomorphisms,’” Kindle p. 1799.

4. Martin H. Manser, Editor, Dictionary of Bible Themes, Kindle p. 6517.

5. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, Unabridged, 1Volume, (Stief Books, 2017), p. 10-11.

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:


** CARM theological dictionary


A biblical and philosophical examination of does God have a body. #

From the Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas Question 3. The simplicity of God:

Article 1. Whether God is a body?

Objection 1. It seems that God is a body. For a body is that which has the three dimensions. But Holy Scripture attributes the three dimensions to God, for it is written: “He is higher than Heaven, and what wilt thou do? He is deeper than Hell, and how wilt thou know? The measure of Him is longer than the earth and broader than the sea” (Job 11:8-9). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 2. Further, everything that has figure is a body, since figure is a quality of quantity. But God seems to have figure, for it is written: “Let us make man to our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Now a figure is called an image, according to the text: “Who being the brightness of His glory and the figure,” i.e. the image, “of His substance” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 3. Further, whatever has corporeal parts is a body. Now Scripture attributes corporeal parts to God. “Hast thou an arm like God?” (Job 40:4); and “The eyes of the Lord are upon the just” (Psalm 33:16); and “The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength” (Psalm 117:16). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 4. Further, posture belongs only to bodies. But something which supposes posture is said of God in the Scriptures: “I saw the Lord sitting” (Isaiah 6:1), and “He standeth up to judge” (Isaiah 3:13). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 5. Further, only bodies or things corporeal can be a local term “wherefrom” or “whereto.” But in the Scriptures God is spoken of as a local term “whereto,” according to the words, “Come ye to Him and be enlightened” (Psalm 33:6), and as a term “wherefrom”: “All they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth” (Jeremiah 17:13). Therefore God is a body.

On the contrary, It is written in the Gospel of St. John (John 4:24): “God is a spirit.”

I answer that, It is absolutely true that God is not a body; and this can be shown in three ways.

First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already proved (I:2:3), that God is the First Mover, and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God is not a body.

Secondly, because the first being must of necessity be in act, and in no way in potentiality. For although in any single thing that passes from potentiality to actuality, the potentiality is prior in time to the actuality; nevertheless, absolutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality; for whatever is in potentiality can be reduced into actuality only by some being in actuality. Now it has been already proved that God is the First Being. It is therefore impossible that in God there should be any potentiality. But every body is in potentiality because the continuous, as such, is divisible to infinity; it is therefore impossible that God should be a body.

Thirdly, because God is the most noble of beings. Now it is impossible for a body to be the most noble of beings; for a body must be either animate or inanimate; and an animate body is manifestly nobler than any inanimate body. But an animate body is not animate precisely as body; otherwise all bodies would be animate. Therefore its animation depends upon some other thing, as our body depends for its animation on the soul. Hence that by which a body becomes animated must be nobler than the body. Therefore it is impossible that God should be a body.

Reply to Objection 1. As we have said above (I:1:9), Holy Writ puts before us spiritual and divine things under the comparison of corporeal things. Hence, when it attributes to God the three dimensions under the comparison of corporeal quantity, it implies His virtual quantity; thus, by depth, it signifies His power of knowing hidden things; by height, the transcendence of His excelling power; by length, the duration of His existence; by breadth, His act of love for all. Or, as says Dionysius (Div. Nom. ix), by the depth of God is meant the incomprehensibility of His essence; by length, the procession of His all-pervading power; by breadth, His overspreading all things, inasmuch as all things lie under His protection.

Reply to Objection 2. Man is said to be after the image of God, not as regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals. Hence, when it is said, “Let us make man to our image and likeness”, it is added, “And let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea” (Genesis 1:26). Now man excels all animals by his reason and intelligence; hence it is according to his intelligence and reason, which are incorporeal, that man is said to be according to the image of God.

Reply to Objection 3. Corporeal parts are attributed to God in Scripture on account of His actions, and this is owing to a certain parallel. For instance the act of the eye is to see; hence the eye attributed to God signifies His power of seeing intellectually, not sensibly; and so on with the other parts.

Reply to Objection 4. Whatever pertains to posture, also, is only attributed to God by some sort of parallel. He is spoken of as sitting, on account of His unchangeableness and dominion; and as standing, on account of His power of overcoming whatever withstands Him.

Reply to Objection 5. We draw near to God by no corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but by the affections of our soul, and by the actions of that same soul do we withdraw from Him; thus, to draw near to or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual actions based on the metaphor of local motion.

Article 2. Whether God is composed of matter and form?

Objection 1. It seems that God is composed of matter and form. For whatever has a soul is composed of matter and form; since the soul is the form of the body. But Scripture attributes a soul to God; for it is mentioned in Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38), where God says: “But My just man liveth by faith; but if he withdraw himself, he shall not please My soul.” Therefore God is composed of matter and form.

Objection 2. Further, anger, joy and the like are passions of the composite. But these are attributed to God in Scripture: “The Lord was exceeding angry with His people” (Psalm 105:40). Therefore God is composed of matter and form.

Objection 3. Further, matter is the principle of individualization. But God seems to be individual, for He cannot be predicated of many. Therefore He is composed of matter and form.

On the contrary, Whatever is composed of matter and form is a body; for dimensive quantity is the first property of matter. But God is not a body as proved in the preceding Article; therefore He is not composed of matter and form.

I answer that, It is impossible that matter should exist in God.

First, because matter is in potentiality. But we have shown (I:2:3) that God is pure act, without any potentiality. Hence it is impossible that God should be composed of matter and form.

Secondly, because everything composed of matter and form owes its perfection and goodness to its form; therefore its goodness is participated, inasmuch as matter participates the form. Now the first good and the best—viz. God—is not a participated good, because the essential good is prior to the participated good. Hence it is impossible that God should be composed of matter and form.

Thirdly, because every agent acts by its form; hence the manner in which it has its form is the manner in which it is an agent. Therefore whatever is primarily and essentially an agent must be primarily and essentially form. Now God is the first agent, since He is the first efficient cause. He is therefore of His essence a form; and not composed of matter and form.

Reply to Objection 1. A soul is attributed to God because His acts resemble the acts of a soul; for, that we will anything, is due to our soul. Hence what is pleasing to His will is said to be pleasing to His soul.

Reply to Objection 2. Anger and the like are attributed to God on account of a similitude of effect. Thus, because to punish is properly the act of an angry man, God’s punishment is metaphorically spoken of as His anger.

Reply to Objection 3. Forms which can be received in matter are individualized by matter, which cannot be in another as in a subject since it is the first underlying subject; although form of itself, unless something else prevents it, can be received by many. But that form which cannot be received in matter, but is self-subsisting, is individualized precisely because it cannot be received in a subject; and such a form is God. Hence it does not follow that matter exists in God. (5)

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Polytheism and philosophical absurdities

Polytheism and philosophical absurdities By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand polytheism. First, is it biblical? Second, is it a coherent metaphysical philosophy? As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:


Polytheism is the belief that there are many gods. Breaking the word down, “poly” comes from the Greek word for “many,” and “theism” from the Greek word for “God.” Polytheism has perhaps been the dominant theistic view in human history. The best-known example of polytheism in ancient times is Greek/Roman mythology (Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Poseidon, etc.). The clearest modern example of polytheism is Hinduism, which has over 300 million gods. Although Hinduism is, in essence, pantheistic, it does hold to beliefs in many gods. It is interesting to note that even in polytheistic religions; one god usually reigns supreme over the other gods, e.g., Zeus in Greek/Roman mythology and Brahman in Hinduism. *


The teaching that there are many gods. In the Ancient Near East, the nation of Israel was faced with the problem of the gods of other nations creeping into the theology of Judaism and corrupting the true revelation of God. Baal was the god of rain and exercised a powerful influence over the religion of many pagan cultures and even into the Jewish community. This is so because rain was essential to survival. Rain meant the crops would grow, the animals would have water, and the people would be able to eat. If there was no rain, death prevailed. Such visible realities as rain, drought, crops, and death often carried the spiritual character of the nation of Israel into spiritual adultery: worshiping other gods. The Bible does recognize the existence of other gods, but only as false. **

In contrast, Monotheism:

The belief that there is only one God in all places at all times. There were none before God and there will be none after Him. Monotheism is the teaching of the Bible. **

Scripture teaching against polytheism:

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39 ESV)

“For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” (Psalm 96:5)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

From the Pulpit Commentary on Deuteronomy 6:4:

Verses 4-25. – THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT. “In the fear of Jehovah all true obedience is rooted (vers. 2, 3); for this is the first and most intimate fact in the relation of Israel and Jehovah (Deuteronomy 5:26). But where the supreme fear of Jehovah hinders men from allowing self to preponderate in opposition to God, there will be no stopping at this renunciation of self-will, though this comes first as the negative form of the ten commandments also shows, but there will come to be a coalescence of the human with the Divine will; and this is love, which is the proper condition of obedience, as the ten commandments also indicate (Deuteronomy 5:10)” (Baumgarten). Verse 4. – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. This is an affirmation not so much of the moneity as of the unity and simplicity of Jehovah, the alone God. Though Elohim (plu.), he is one. The speaker does not say, “Jehovah is alone God,” but “Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah” (comp. for the force of אֶחָד, Exodus 26:6, 11; Ezekiel 37:16-19). Among the heathen there were many Baals and many Jupiters; and it was believed that the deity might be divided and communicated to many. But the God of Israel, Jehovah, is one, indivisible and incommunicable. He is the Absolute and the Infinite One, who alone is to be worshipped, on whom all depend, and to whose command all must yield obedience (cf. Zechariah 14:9). Not only to polytheism, but to pantheism, and to the conception of a localized or national deity, is this declaration of the unity of Jehovah opposed. With these words the Jews begin their daily liturgy, morning and evening; the sentence expresses the essence of their religious belief; and so familiar is it to their thought and speech that, it is said, they were often, during the persecution in Spain, betrayed to their enemies by the involuntary utterance of it. (1)


Sh’ma Israel Yehovah Eloheinu Yehovah Echad. These words can be translated into English as, “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah [Yhvh], our God [Elohim], is one [echad] Jehovah [Yhvh].”

“I am he: before me there was no God formed. Neither shall there be after me, I, even I, am LORD, and beside me there is no Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:10)

“I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Isaiah 44:6:

And I am the last – In Isaiah 41:4, this is expressed ‘with the last;’ in Revelation 1:8, ‘I am Alpha and Omega.’ The sense is, that God existed before all things, and will exist forever.

And besides me there is no God – This is repeatedly declared (Deuteronomy 4:35, Deuteronomy 4:39; see the note at Isaiah 43:10-12). This great truth it was God’s purpose to keep steadily before the minds of the Jews; and to keep it in the world, and ultimately to diffuse it abroad among the nations, was one of the leading reasons why he selected them as a special people, and separated them from the rest of mankind. (2)

“Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any?” (Isaiah 44:8)

“And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he.” (Mark 12:32)

“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says this about 1 Corinthians 8:5 regarding “gods many”:

(5) For though there be. . . .—This is an hypothetic argument. “Be” is the emphatic word of the supposition. Even assuming that there do exist those beings which are called “gods” (we have a right to make such a supposition, for Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 105:2-3, speaks of “gods and lords” of another kind), the difference between the heathen, “gods many” and the “lords and gods” of whom the Old Testament speaks, is that the former are deities, and the latter only a casual way of speaking of angels and other spiritual subjects and servants of the one God. This is brought out in the following verse. (3)


1 Corinthians 8:5 is a favorite proof text in support of multiple gods by a large Utah based religion. As seen, Ellicott’s comments refute this idea.

“Who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4 ESV)


Paul explains in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 clarifies what he means in 1 Corinthians 8:5. The gods mentioned in Corinthians are false gods and not gods at all.

The next passage from James has tremendous apologetic value in defense of monotheism.

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)


James says even the devils believe in one God. The devils are not polytheists. What does this say about people advancing the idea of many gods? The devils faith in one God is not saving faith, yet it is a true confession much like the demons that would acknowledge Christ when he cast them out of the possessed. See Luke 4:41. If you are advancing the idea that other gods exist, woe is you, do you really want the devil’s minions to be a witness against you?

Consider Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on James 2:19:

Thou believest that there is one God,…. These words are a continuation of the address of the man that has works, to him that boasts of his faith without them, observing to him, that one, and a main article of his faith, is, that there is one God; which is to be understood in the Christian sense, since both the person speaking, and the person spoken to, were such as professed themselves Christians; so that to believe there is one God, is not merely to give into this article, in opposition to the polytheism of the Gentiles, or barely to confess the God of Israel, as believed on by the Jews, but to believe that there are three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, and that these three are the one God; wherefore this article of faith includes everything relating to God; as to God the Father, his being and perfections, so to Christ, as God, and the Son of God, and the Messiah, &c. and to the Holy Spirit; and to believe all this is right:

thou doest well; for that there is but one God, is to be proved by the light of nature, and from the works of creation and providence, and has been owned by the wisest of the Heathens themselves; and is established, by divine revelation, in the books both of the Old and of the New Testament; what has been received by the Jews, and is well known by Christians, to whom it is set in the clearest light, and who are assured of the truth of it: but then

the devils also believe; the Arabic version reads, “the devils likewise so believe”; they believe the same truth; they know and believe there is but one God, and not many; and they know that the God of Israel is he; and that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are the one God; they know and believe him to be the most high God, whose servants the ministers of the Gospel are; and they know and believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the Son of God, and the Messiah, Acts 16:17.

And tremble; at the wrath of God, which they now feel, and at the thought of future torments, which they expect, Mark 5:7 and which is more than some men do; and yet these shall not be saved, their damnation is certain and inevitable, 2 Peter 2:4 wherefore it follows, that a bare historical faith will not profit, and cannot save any; a man may have all faith of this kind, and be damned; and therefore it is not to be boasted of, nor trusted to. (4)

Polytheism by systematic theologian Charles Hodge:

“As the word implies, Polytheism is the theory which assumes the existence of many gods. Monotheism was the original religion of our race. This is evident not only from the teachings of the Scriptures, but also from the fact that the earliest historical form of religious belief is monotheistic. There are monotheistic hymns in the Vedas, the most ancient writings now extant, unless the Pentateuch be an exception.

The first departure from monotheism seems to have been nature worship. As men lost the knowledge of God as creator, they were led to reverence the physical elements with which they were in contact, whose power they witnessed, and whose beneficent influence they constantly experienced. Hence not only the sun, moon, and stars, the great representatives of nature, but fire, air, and water, became the objects of popular worship. We accordingly find that the Vedas consist largely of hymns addressed to these natural elements.

These powers were personified, and soon it came to be generally believed that a personal being presided over each. And these imaginary beings were the objects of popular worship.

While the mass of the people really believed in beings that were “called gods” (1 Cor. 8:5), many of the more enlightened were monotheists, and more were pantheists. The early introduction and wide dissemination of pantheism are proved from the fact that it lies at the foundation of Brahminism and Buddhism, the religions of the larger part of the human race for thousands of years.

There can be little doubt that when the Aryan tribes entered India, fifteen hundred or two thousand years before Christ, pantheism was their established belief. The unknown, and “unconditioned” infinite Being, reveals itself according to the Hindu system, as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva,—that is, as Creator, Preserver, and Restorer. These were not persons, but modes of manifestation. It was in this form that the idea of an endless process of development of the infinite into the finite, and of the return of the finite into the infinite, was expressed. It was from this pantheistic principle that the endless polytheism of the Hindus naturally developed itself; and this determined the character of their whole religion. As all that is, is only a manifestation of God, everything remarkable, and especially the appearance of any remarkable man, was regarded as an “avatar,” or incarnation of God, in one or other of his modes of manifestation, as Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva. And as evil is as actual as good, the one is as much a manifestation, or, modus existendi, of the infinite Being as the other. And hence there are evil gods as well as good. In no part of the world has pantheism had such a field for development as in India, and nowhere has it brought forth its legitimate effects in such a portentous amount of evil. Nowhere has polytheism been carried to such revolting extremes.

Among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans polytheism assumed a form determined by the character of the people. The Greeks rendered it bright, beautiful, and sensual; the Romans were more decorous and sedate. Among barbarous nations it has assumed forms much more simple, and in many cases more rational.

In the Bible the gods of the heathen are declared to be “vanity,” and “nothing,” mere imaginary beings, without power either to hurt or to save. (Jer. 2:28; Isa. 41:29; Isa. 13:17; Ps. 106:28.) They are also represented as δαιμόνια (1 Cor. 10:20). This word may express either an imaginary, or a real existence. The objects of heathen worship are called gods, even when declared to be nonentities. So they may be called “demons,” without intending to teach that they are “spirits.” As the word, however, generally in the New Testament, does mean “evil spirits,” it is perhaps better to take it in that sense when it refers to the objects of heathen worship. This is not inconsistent with the doctrine that the gods of the heathen are “vanities and lies.” They are not what men take them to be. They have no divine power. Paul says of the heathen before their conversion, “ἐδουλεύσατε το̂ις φυσει μή οὐ̂σι θεοι̂ς” (Gal. 4:8). The prevalence and persistency of Polytheism show that it must have a strong affinity with fallen human nature. Although, except in pantheism, it has no philosophical basis, it constitutes a formidable obstacle to the progress of true religion in the world.” (5)


Polytheism not only includes the worship of other gods, it includes the mere belief that multiple gods exist. Monotheism and polytheism are irreconcilable.

Not only is polytheism unbiblical, its ethics and metaphysics lead to unanswerable absurdities:

1. Are the gods finite, infinite, corporeal or incorporeal?

2. Did the gods evolve? Have they always been?

3. Are they like men?

4. Are they like the Greek and Roman gods?

5. How do the gods communicate with men?

6. Are they omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent?

7. If the gods are not omniscient, are they surrounded by ultimate mystery and contingency?

8. Are all the gods associated with this planet?

9. Are the gods scattered throughout the cosmos and other planets?

10. Are there laws or a law structure in the universe?

11. If so, where did these laws come from?

12. Did the gods create these laws?

13. Is the law structure higher than the gods are?

14. If so, what are the implications?

15. Is the law structure god?

16. Do the gods ever get together and vote on what the standards for men should be or for their own standards?

17. Do they have some kind of debating forum?

18. If they are like men, how do they travel? A space ship?

19. Do the gods communicate with each other? If so, how? An intergalactic phone service?

20. How do the gods define things like good and evil?

21. Do the gods define it, or is a law structure above the gods the source for definitions?

22. Can concepts such as good and evil exist in raw matter? In other words, do concepts like good and evil have to exist in a mind?

23. If concepts such as good and evil must exist in a mind, and many gods exist in the universe, would not the definition of good and evil be very subjective, since there are many minds?

24. Do all the gods in the universe interpret things in the same way?

25. How could you know?

26. If you pick a particular god to follow, how do you know that this god is interpreting ethical ideas properly?

27. How do you know evil is not good? Can the gods help explain this?

28. Will the gods ever defeat evil in the universe?

29. Why have not the gods defeated it yet?

30. Are there evil gods in the universe?

31. If so, could they destroy or defeat the good gods?

32. The terms evil and good are relative in a universe populated with multiple gods, since not all gods may agree.

33. Can the gods articulate a coherent theory of knowledge?

34. Are the gods’ empiricists, rationalists?

35. How do the gods solve the “one and many” problem?

36. Is a counsel of multiple authoritative infallible gods logically coherent? How so?

37. In the world of men, can anyone know anything with certainty about the gods?

38. Are promoters of polytheism engaging in speculation or pure guesswork when making any declaration about the gods?

39. Are assertions about the gods verified, empirically, rationally, by a vote, just believe the assertions, a holy man from India knows, listen to him or doing yoga (yoke with Brahmin) or mediate long enough to learn the answers?

In closing:

In polytheistic systems, there can be no certain standards. Ethics, logic and science would be relative to the authority of each different god or a group of god’s alliance. Polytheism cannot escape manifesting itself in multiple contradictory definitions in regards to ultimate reality. In trying to ascertain answers to the above questions, it is apparent that polytheism is absurd and can say nothing with certainty in the area of science, logic and ethics. Polytheism therefore is irrational.

In contrast, Christian Monotheism solves “The One and Many Problem”:

The “One and Many Problem” is another dilemma for polytheists. Is reality ultimately one or many? If reality is ultimately one, this can manifest itself as communism or a total state. If reality is ultimately many, this can lead to political anarchy. Eastern polytheistic philosophy contradictory comes down on the side of the many and at other times the one manifesting itself as pantheistic monism. Polytheism has never produced a system guaranteeing individual rights. Likewise, Communism answered the question as noted in favor of the one or total state and it likewise never produced any protection for property rights or individual freedom.

The monotheistic Christian worldview, on the other hand, has produced a balance of individual freedoms and a basis for the state and church authority. This is accomplished because of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Christian God is the ground and explanation of all reality. God is one and yet more than one, with a plurality of persons within the one God. Politically and religiously this manifests itself by giving due authority to the state or church and a proper place for individual rights and the basis for appealing abuses of the state or church by the individual.

Why is the polytheist unable to articulate a coherent theory of knowledge that can justify the use of science, ethics and logic? The polytheist uses logic and talks about ethics. They do so without justifying or demonstrating how their worldview can account for these things. In other words, they beg the question. In addition, mind you, when you point out this question begging on their part, you will experience many ad hominem attacks, which serve as a smoke screen to cover-up the bankruptcy of their worldview. Moreover, the polytheist or any non-Christian steals from the Christian worldview that can explain and justify the use of such things to attack the Christian’s presuppositions. When informing the polytheist of their theft, get ready for emotional responses or ad hominem attacks.

Christians have a biblical foundation for seeking knowledge and obtaining it. God-given revelation is objective. Ungodly men reject biblical revelation; they suppress the truth that God has revealed to them through creation (Romans 1:18). God has spoken in the Scriptures, i.e., God’s special revelation to humanity concerning what is required of them.

Greg L. Bahnsen explains the Christian’s worldview ability to talk intelligently like this:

In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. When the perspective of God’s revelation is rejected, then the unbeliever is left in foolish ignorance because his philosophy does not provide the preconditions of knowledge and meaningful experience. To put it another way: the proof that Christianity is true is that if it were not, we would not be able to prove anything.

What the unbeliever needs is nothing less than a radical change of mind – repentance (Acts 17:30). He needs to change his fundamental worldview and submit to the revelation of God in order for any knowledge or experience to make sense. He at the same time needs to repent of his spiritual rebellion and sin against God. Because of the condition of his heart, he cannot see the truth or know God in a saving fashion. (6)

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

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


1. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Deuteronomy, Vol. 3, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p.118.

2. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Isaiah, p.1049.

3. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, 1 Corinthians, vol. 2, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 315.

4. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, James, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, pp. 39-40.

5. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing), p. 243-244.

6. Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready Directions for Defending the Faith, (Atlanta, Georgia, American Vision), p. 122.

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

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:


** CARM theological dictionary

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Cessationism of 1st Century χαρίσματα (charismata) revelatory sign gifts

Cessationism of 1st Century χαρίσματα (charismata) revelatory sign gifts by Jack Kettler

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

In this study, we will look at the teaching known as cessationism and along with some related relevant topics. What does cessationism mean? Does God still give revelation via interpretation of tongues, prophecy and revelatory words of knowledge? If so, are these gifts normative for the entire church age? Are revelations conveyed from these gifts on the same level as the Bible? What exactly are tongues mentioned in the Bible? Is there an angelic language to be used in prayer? These are a few of the questions we will seek biblical answers for in this study.

As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical evidence, commentary evidence and confessional support for the purpose to glorify God in how we live. Glorify God always!


“The view that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit (healing, tongues, prophetic revelations) ended with the apostolic age, and that while God still does do miracles, he does not gift individuals with the miraculous spiritual gifts.” *


“The position within Christianity that the Charismatic Spiritual gifts (speaking in tongues, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, interpretation of tongues, etc.) ceased with the closing of the Canon of scripture and/or the death of the last apostle.” **

From Scripture regarding the cessation of the revelatory gifts:

“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

The passage says that something that is “in part” shall be done away with when “that which is perfect is come.” What is the apostle referring to when he says that something perfect is coming?

Theologian Gordon H. Clark comments on this:

There is one phase, not so far mentioned: “When the completion comes,” or “when that which is perfect comes.” This raises the question: completion of what? It could be the completion of the canon. Miracles and tongues were for the purpose of guaranteeing the divine origin of apostolic doctrine. They cease when the revelation was completed. Even the word knowledge is better understood this way. Instead of comparing present-day extensive study of the New Testament with Justin’s [Martyr] painfully inadequate understanding of the Atonement, it would be better to take knowledge as the apostolic process of revealing new knowledge. This was completed when revelation ceased. (1)

Clark is right on track when connecting the coming perfection with the completion of the Scriptures. The tongues and prophecy of the apostolic era confirmed and bore witness to the truthfulness of the apostolic message. Nevertheless, tongues, prophecy, and revelatory knowledge were lacking when compared with the completed written Scripture. The written Scriptures are far superior to spoken words. The written Scripture stands strong and cannot be overthrown.

Dr. Leonard Coppes also has relevant comments regarding this passage of Scripture:

This is a clear statement that when the knowledge given through the apostles and prophets is complete, tongues and prophecy shall cease. Tongues, prophecy, and knowledge (gnosis) constitute partial, incomplete stages. Some may stumble over the idea that “knowledge” represents a partial and incomplete (revelational) stage. But is rightly remarked that Paul distinguishes between sophia and gnosis in I Cor. 12:8 All three terms (tongues, prophecy, knowledge) involve divine disclosure of verbal revelation and all three on that basis alone ceased when the foundation (i.e., the perfect) came (10). Verse 11 speaks of the partial as childlike (cf., 14:20) and the perfect as manly (the apostolic is “manly,” too, cf., 14:20). Paul reflecting on those who are limited to these childlike things describes this limitation as seeing in a mirror darkly (12). When the perfect (the apostolic depositum) is come, full knowledge is present. (2)

Coppes, like Clark, connects the coming perfection with the completion of the Scriptural canon. Both scholars make compelling exegetical arguments for their interpretation of the Corinthian passage. More will be seen in this study about the closing of the Scriptural canon and its implications.

The next passage of Scripture cited refers to warning of coming judgment upon the people of Israel from the book of Isaiah cited by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians and has relevance to the issue at hand regarding revelatory gifts and their cessation. There are two reasons for tongues and the other revelatory gifts.

Consider the first reason for tongues:

“In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 14:22)

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:22:

22. Thus from Isaiah it appears, reasons Paul, that “tongues” (unknown and uninterpreted) are not a sign mainly intended for believers (though at the conversion of Cornelius and the Gentiles with him, tongues were vouchsafed to him and them to confirm their faith), but mainly to be a condemnation to those, the majority, who, like Israel in Isaiah’s day, reject the sign and the accompanying message. Compare “yet … will they not hear Me” (1Co 14:21). “Sign” is often used for a condemnatory sign (Eze 4:3, 4; Mt 12:39-42). Since they will not understand, they shall not understand.

prophesying … not for them that believe not, but … believe—that is, prophesying has no effect on them that are radically and obstinately like Israel (Isa 28:11, 12), unbelievers, but on them that are either in receptivity or in fact believers; it makes believers of those not willfully unbelievers (1Co 14:24, 25; Ro 10:17), and spiritually nourishes those that already believe.

The commentators are correct to note that tongues were for non-believers, in this case, national Israel. It is noteworthy that the commentators make the connection with Isaiah 28:11-12.

The purpose of tongues in Isaiah 28:11-12 that the apostle Paul quotes in Corinthians:

“For with stammering lips and another tongue [the Assyrian language], He will speak to this people, to whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,’ and, ‘this is the refreshing,’ yet they would not hear.” (Isaiah 28:11-12)

Digging Deeper:

Strong’s Concordance 3956

lashon: tongue

Original Word: לָשׁוֹן

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: lashon

Phonetic Spelling: (law-shone’)

Short Definition: tongue


These words were spoken by the prophet to the people of Judah as a declaration that they were about to be judged by God for their rebellion by the Assyrian army. Moses also mentioned the presence of “unknown tongues” in his prophecy concerning the destruction of the nation of Israel. The passage also has real significance for national Israel’s rejection of Christ and subsequent judgment by the Romans in 70AD. God raised up a foreign army, which spoke an unintelligible or foreign tongue to bring judgment upon His rebellious people.

Consider this earlier prophetic warning:

“The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose [language] tongue you will not understand.” (Deuteronomy 28:49)

Many of the modern translations use language instead of tongue. For example:

“The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language


you do not understand.” (Deuteronomy 28:49 ESV)


This prophecy from Deuteronomy has fulfillment in regards to the Roman invasion of Israel and destruction of the temple. The Deuteronomy passage mentions “eagle.” This almost certainly refers to the emblem or standard of the Roman army, the eagle. The passage probably has significance to the earlier Assyrian and Babylonian judgments as well.

Tongues in the book of Acts did not just appear out of nowhere. The understanding of tongues is rooted in Old Testament prophecy, namely, Deuteronomy and Isaiah. The Greek word glossa has interpreted either tongue or language.

The First purpose of tongues:

Tongues were a sign of judgment on the nation of Israel. The confusion of tongues, at Babel and forward, has been a sign of judgment. When Israel heard the tongues of the Assyrian invaders in the 8th Century before Christ, it was a sign that judgment had come (Isaiah 28:11-12). Paul quotes this verse in 1 Corinthians 14:22 in which he explains how the New Testament gift of unintelligible languages (tongues) was a sign to unbelieving Israel of impending judgment. It was the end of the Old Covenant Age for Israel. When the judgment on Israel came in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the armies of Roman, the nation was scattered, and the purpose of tongues foretold by Deuteronomy and Isaiah was fulfilled.

The Second purpose of tongues:

The second purpose of tongues and their interpretation along with prophecy and words of knowledge functioned to confirm the work of the apostle’s words with power. These gifts were all revelatory or revelations of God’s power and confirmation of His Will and Word.

The scriptural proof of this is seen in:

“And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:20)

“God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 2:4)

After the death of the apostles and the closing of the canon of Scripture, the work of confirming the apostolic message was no longer needed. The destruction of the temple and the inclusion of the Gentiles in the covenant people of God are also tied up in the events of the end.

The Greek language helps in our understanding of tongues in the first century:

Digging deeper, Tongues from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

Tongue (-s)

[A-1, Noun, G1100, glossa] is used of

(1) The tongues … like as of fire, which appeared at Pentecost;

(2) “The tongue,” as an organ of speech, e.g., Mark 7:33; Romans 3:13; Romans 14:11; 1 Corinthians 14:9; Philippians 2:11; James 1:26; James 3:5-James 3:6, James 3:8; 1 Peter 3:10; 1 John 3:18; Revelation 16:10;

(a) “a language,” coupled with phule, “a tribe,” laos, “a people,” ethnos, “a nation,” seven times in the Apocalypse, Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15;

(b) “The supernatural gift of speaking in another language without its having been learnt;” in Acts 2:4-Acts 2:13 the circumstances are recorded from the viewpoint of the hearers; to those in whose language the utterances were made it appeared as a supernatural phenomenon; to others, the stammering of drunkards; what was uttered was not addressed primarily to the audience but consisted in recounting “the mighty works of God;” cp. Acts 2:46; in 1 Cor., chapters 12 and 14, the use of the gift of “tongues” is mentioned as exercised in the gatherings of local churches; 1 Corinthians 12:10 speaks of the gift in general terms, and couples with it that of “the interpretation of tongues;” chap. 14 gives instruction concerning the use of the gift, the paramount object being the edification of the church; unless the “tongue” was interpreted the speaker would speak “not unto men, but unto God,” 1 Corinthians 14:2; he would edify himself alone, 1 Corinthians 14:4, unless he interpreted, 1 Corinthians 14:5, in which case his interpretation would be of the same value as the superior gift of prophesying, as he would edify the church, 1 Corinthians 14:4-6; he must pray that he may interpret, 1 Corinthians 14:13; if there were no interpreter, he must keep silence, 1 Corinthians 14:28, for all things were to be done “unto edifying,” 1 Corinthians 14:26. “If I come … speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you,” says the Apostle (expressing the great object in all oral ministry), “unless I speak to you either by way of revelation, or of knowledge, or of prophesying, or of teaching?” (1 Corinthians 14:6). “Tongues” were for a sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers, 1 Corinthians 14:22, and especially to unbelieving Jews (See 1 Corinthians 14:21): cp. the passages in the Acts.

There is no evidence of the continuance of this gift after apostolic times nor indeed in the later times of the Apostles themselves; this provides confirmation of the fulfillment in this way of 1 Corinthians 13:8, that this gift would cease in the churches, just as would “prophecies” and “knowledge” in the sense of knowledge received by immediate supernatural power (cp. 1 Corinthians 14:6). The completion of the Holy Scriptures has provided the churches with all that is necessary for individual and collective guidance, instruction, and edification.

[A-2, Noun, G1258, dialektos]

“Language” (Eng., ‘dialect”), is rendered “tongue” in the AV of Acts 1:19; Acts 2:6, Acts 2:8; Acts 21:40; Acts 22:2; Acts 26:14. See LANGUAGE.

[B-1, Adjective, G2804, heteroglossos]

Is rendered “strange tongues” in 1 Corinthians 14:21, RV (heteros, “another of a different sort,” See ANOTHER, and A, No. 1), AV, “other tongues.”

[C-1, Adverb, G1447, hebraisti]

(Or ebraisti, Westcott and Hort) denotes

(a) “In Hebrew,” Revelation 9:11, RV (AV, “in the Hebrew tongue”); so Revelation 16:16;

(b) In the Aramaic vernacular of Palestine, John 5:2, AV, “in the Hebrew tongue” (RV, “in Hebrew”); in John 19:13, John 19:17, AV, “in the Hebrew” (RV, “in Hebrew”); in John 19:20, AV and RV, “in Hebrew;” in John 20:16, RV only, “in Hebrew (Rabboni).”

Note: Cp. Hellenisti, “in Greek,” John 19:20, RV; Acts 21:37, “Greek.” See also Rhomaisti, under LATIN. (4)


As seen from Vine’s, the tongues as seen in Acts 2:6–8 were actual languages. In denial of this, the modern day Charismatic and Pentecostal movements assert that the understanding of tongues may be something other than an understandable human language. They would say an angelic language used for prayer.

People in this theological camp believe that men can use angelic languages for private prayers and public exhibitions and interpretations conveying unique revelatory words from God. They cannot have it both ways. That would be equivocation – using the same word to mean different things – a logical fallacy!

Charismatic proof texts passages for praying in non-human language tongues:

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

Consider Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Romans 8:26:

(26, 27) A second reason for the patience of the Christian under suffering. The Spirit helps his weakness and joins in his prayers.

(26) Likewise.—While on the one hand the prospect of salvation sustains him, so on the other hand the Divine Spirit interposes to aid him. The one source of encouragement is human (his own human consciousness of the certainty of salvation), the other is divine.

Infirmities.—The correct reading is the singular, “infirmity.” Without this assistance, we might be too weak to endure, but the Spirit helps and strengthens our weakness by inspiring our prayers.

With groanings which cannot be uttered.—When the Christian’s prayers are too deep and too intense for words, when they are rather a sigh heaved from the heart than any formal utterance, then we may know that they are prompted by the Spirit Himself. It is He who is praying to God for us. (5)

Do Ellicott’s comments do justice to the text?


Ellicott makes no mention of a man praying in an unknown angelic language. First, it should be noted that the text says the Spirit prays, not a man. Proponents of modern day tongue speakers read this into the text something that is not there. Second, the text says the Spirit prays for us with groanings, (stenagmos) not a man. Therefore, groanings cannot be a man praying in an angelic language.

Digger deeper:

Strong’s Concordance 4726

stenagmos: a groaning

Original Word: στεναγμός, οῦ, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: stenagmos

Phonetic Spelling: (sten-ag-mos’)

Short Definition: a groaning

Definition: a groaning, sighing.


As seen, “The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” cannot possibly be a man praying in an angelic language. These “groanings” are not audible whereas tongue speaking is.

Does this next passage validate an angelic prayer language?

“For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” (1 Corinthians 14:14)

From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on 1 Corinthians 14:14:

“For if I pray in an unknown tongue. In the Hebrew tongue, which the greatest part of the Jewish doctors insisted (a) upon should be only used in prayer; which notion might be borrowed from them, and now greatly prevailed in the church at Corinth; and the custom was used by such as had the gift of speaking that language, even though the body and bulk of the people understood it not: my spirit prayeth; I pray with my breath vocally; or else with affection and devotion, understanding what I say myself, and so am edified; or rather with the gift of the Spirit bestowed on me: but my understanding is unfruitful; that is, what I say with understanding to myself is unprofitable to others, not being understood by them.” Vid. Trigland. de Sect. Kar. c. 10. p. 172, 173. (6)


Gill makes no mention of an angelic prayer language, but rather an unknown tongue. In this passage, Paul does not say he prays in an unknown tongue instead; he says, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue…but my understanding is unfruitful.” “For if” is a hypothetical, not something the apostle says he does in personal prayers. Besides, the apostle says if he did this, his understanding is unfruitful. The apostle is not encouraging praying in an unfruitful manner devoid of understanding.

A general command in Scripture is in the next three passages:

“What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15)

“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8)

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

We are to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, not suspend our understanding. This is true even in prayer. We should pray with understanding.

Consider another tongue speaking proof text:

“Though I speak with the tongues (glōssais plural) of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Corinthian 13:1)

The following scholar’s comments regarding the language of angels are pertinent:

“With respect to the words of angels which are recorded in the Scriptures, nothing can be plainer, more direct, and, we may say, more unimpassioned. They seem to say with the utmost conceivable plainness what they have been commissioned to say, and nothing more. No words are less the words of ecstasy than theirs.” (7)


Where does the Bible speak of angels having their own language that doubles as a prayer language for men? Is the mention of tongues in the book Acts and the book of Corinthians an example of different tongues for men and angels? There is no reason to believe that the tongues mentioned are anything other than language, characterized by the rules of grammar and syntax. Tongue speaking in Acts (glōssais the tongue, a language) refers to known languages (maybe not to all the hearers). One can argue that the languages that are spoken in the Corinthians (glōssais) passage are as well. If not, you are equivocating on the use of language without necessary contextual justification.

There is no biblical basis in 1 Corinthians 13:1 for the idea that there is a heavenly, prayer language. This assumption is read into the text. Even if you grant that angels speak in a pure form of Hebrew not understood by man, this hardly supports the idea of a non-human heavenly prayer language. Assumptions like this are pure conjecture. Furthermore, when Paul makes the contrast and speaks of the “tongues of men and of angels,” he is using hyperbole. Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement or claims not meant to be taken literally. The apostle is saying that, notwithstanding however brilliant one could be, using his own language, or a foreign language, or perhaps within the speculative speech of angels, it is worthless without love.

Angels always spoke in human language in the Bible when speaking to men:

Scripture provides many examples of angels speaking to men. They communicated in languages that were understandable by those spoken to in the Bible. The burden of proof is on those who claim who claim angels spoke in non-human languages. The phrase “the tongues of angels” offers no proof that angelic language is different from human language or that there is any justification for some form of non-human language for prayer. All you can ascertain is that the angelic language was unknown. Said another way, trying to determine what the language may have been used is sheer guesswork. The speaking of tongues in modern day churches has no connection to actual language. It is gibberish with no connection to the rules of grammar and syntax.

Linguists can study languages and discern syntax and grammar structure. Messages from tongue-speaking churches show no relationship to anything resembling language. If they do, it would have to be ascertained if the person speaking was bi-lingual or multi-lingual. Trying to track down dates and locations of real foreign languages being spoken is more than problematic. Most stories of real languages seem to be nothing more than the parroting of unverified stories.
Examples of linguist scrutiny*

Biblical Scholar D. A. Carson correctly observes:

“Modern tongues are lexically uncommunicative and the few instances of reported modern xenoglossia [speaking foreign languages] are so poorly attested that no weight can be laid on them” (8)

University of Toronto linguistics professor William Samarin concurs:

“Glossolalia consists of strings of meaningless syllables made up of sounds taken from those familiar to the speaker and put together more or less haphazardly. The speaker controls the rhythm, volume, speed and inflection of his speech so that the sounds emerge as pseudolanguage—in the form of words and sentences. Glossolalia is language-like because the speaker unconsciously wants it to be language-like. Yet in spite of superficial similarities, glossolalia fundamentally is not language.” (9)

What we do know is that the study of history shows that tongues ceased after the death of the apostles. The leading Church fathers such as Chrysostom (Eastern Church), and Augustine (Western Church) believed that tongues was a revelatory confirmatory sign gift only for the apostolic era.

It was not until the Azusa Street Revival, 1906-1915, founded and led by William J. Seymour in Los Angeles, California, which resulted in the spread of what was allegedly a new manifestation of the apostolic sign gifts of the first century. Seymour immersed himself in radical Holiness theology, which taught a post-conversion second blessing or the entire sanctification experience that resulted in complete holiness or sinless perfection this side of heaven, which is heretical. If tongues confirmed the apostolic message, Seymour’s tongues movement did nothing of the sort. God did speak through ordinary people in biblical times, these were prophets, but they had good theology.

Extra questions:

If the revelatory apostolic gifts such as tongues and prophecy were normative for all time in the Church, how can the absence of these gifts be explained after the first century? Was the Church apostate or spiritually dull-hearted two thousand years? Was the true Church lost as the Mormons claim? Those who would advance something like this cannot prove it biblically. An alleged apostasy cannot be because Jesus said, “the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church” in Matthew 16:18.

The nations of Christendom, while not perfect, transformed nations and civilizations for the better over the centuries in fulfillment of Christ’s words.

What about the prophecy for the book of Joel? Does this predict a last day’s reappearance of the apostolic revelatory sign gifts of the first century?

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)

Is this a prophecy for the first century or a futuristic prophecy?

From Matthew Poole’s Commentary Joel 2:28:

It shall come to pass, most certainly this shall be done, afterward; in the latter days, after the return out of Babylonish captivity, after the various troubles and salvations by which they may know that I am the Lord, their God in the midst of them, when those wondrous works shall be seconded by the most wonderful of all, the sending the Messiah, in his day and under his kingdom.

I will pour out my Spirit; in large abundant measures will I give my Holy Spirit, which the Messiah exalted shall send, John 16:7; in extraordinary power and gifts in the apostles and first preachers of the gospel, and in ordinary measure and graces to all believers, Ephesians 4:8-11.

Upon all flesh; before these gifts were confined to a few people, to one particular nation, to a very small people; but now they shall be enlarged to all nations, Acts 2:33 10:45, to all that believe, all that are regenerate.

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: this was in part fulfilled according to the letter in the first days of the gospel; but this promise is rather of a comparative meaning, thus, By pouring out of the Holy Spirit on your sons and your daughters, they shall have as clear and full knowledge of the deep mysteries of God’s law as prophets beforetime had. The law and prophets were till John, and during this time the gifts of the Spirit were given in lesser measures, and of all men the prophets had greatest measures of the Spirit; but in these days, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John.

Your old men shall dream dreams; no difference of age, to old men who had been long blind in the things of God the mysteries of grace shall be revealed, and these shall know as certainly and clearly as if God had extraordinarily revealed himself to them by dreams sent of God upon them.

Your young men shall see visions; many young men shall be as eminent in knowledge as if the things known were communicated by vision. In a word, all knowledge of God and his will shall abound among all ranks, sexes, and ages in the Messiah’s days, and not only equal, but surpass, all that formerly was by prophecy dreams, or visions. (10)


Poole establishes that the prophecy in Joel found its fulfillment in the book of Acts.

What are the implications for ongoing apostolic revelatory gifts?

If these revelatory apostolic gifts are still in operation, the canon of Scripture is still open. If so, does this mean that the expanding oral tradition of the Roman Church and the printed minutes from the Mormon General Conference meetings and the Mormon Ensign Magazine where the Mormon prophet speaks should be added to the book of Acts or an ongoing addendum to the Bible? An addendum would be like the old encyclopedias that had a yearly update edition. How exactly would this work out for the Bible? Should there be Roman Catholic, Charismatic and Mormon addendums?

Additional Problems for modern day tongues speakers:

Some have argued that tongues and words of knowledge and prophecy are personal or private revelations and therefore not the same as a biblical revelation in the Bible, a sort of two-tier system of revelation. Experience in tongue speaking churches shows this is not the case. If tongues are expressed publically, the congregants normally and hopefully wait for an interpretation. Sometimes someone will speak what is supposed to be the interpretation. At other times in the church service, someone will speak prophecies or words of knowledge. This very practice is not private but public.

How are these alleged spoken words to be evaluated? Does the congregation vote on it? On the other hand, should the hearers accept message or words at face value? Most of the time the expressions of interpretation and prophecies are general scripture like-sounding words. Also, how is it determined if the individuals giving this supposed spirit inspired messages are not just showboating or letting their feelings and emotions get the better of them? Can spiritual pride lead to certain individuals to grandstand? Most people want to be seen as spiritual, and some want to be seen as more spiritual than others.

As said, from experience, most of what is said in these alleged words are general exhortations or general words of encouragement that sound like a simplified version of Elizabethan English. No doubt, some of the readers of this article have heard of examples of alleged tongue-speaking where someone would say for example that tongue-speaking was in the Hungarian language. As previously noted, trying to track down when and where this happened is always problematic. When pressed, no one seems to know where and when. Why listen to unverifiable words when we can read the Bible?

Consider this next passage:

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)

Peter says we have “a more sure word of prophecy.” The Word of God is surer than anything else is especially unsubstantiated prophecies. Read Psalm 119.

A Conclusion:

The only time in a church service you can be sure you are hearing the Word of God, is when you hear the Scriptures read. Pastors with concerns to be biblically faithful always pray that God will give a blessing to their preaching and guard the words that come from their mouth. A Sermon from the pastor is not the infallible word of God. Many times a pastor will pray, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.” (Psalm 19:14)

If the first-century revelations of God via, prophecy, interpretation of tongues and words of knowledge were still in practice today, the conclusion would be that the canon of Scripture is still open. This would mean that we need more than just the Bible. In other words, the Bible is not yet complete, because revelation is still ongoing. Some may want to dance around this conclusion. It, however, is inescapable.

Furthermore, those arguing for on-going first century revelatory gifts are inadvertently giving support for Roman Catholicism’s argument for the concept of on-going oral traditions that are purported to be on equal footing with Scripture. The Roman Catholics are more consistent in their argument of a secondary source of revelation than the advocates of the on-going first century revelatory gifts are. If the first-century revelatory gifts are still in operation, how are they fundamentally different from the oral traditions of the Roman Church?

A Time-tested principle of Scripture:

“These were nobler than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

“But test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV)

Why be satisfied with vague or general biblical sounding words; we need the pure Word of God.

General biblical sounding words or phrases that are interpretation of tongues, congregational prophecies, words of knowledge cannot be used for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness. Why? Because if they can, then these new words are admitted to be on par with Scripture. This conclusion is inescapable and proves the problematic nature of these new words that are supposedly from God. Also, if these so-called revelations are on par with the Bible, the sufficiency of Scripture cannot be maintained.

Sufficiency of scripture:

“The principle that the words of scripture contain everything we need to know from God in order for us to be saved and to be perfectly obedient to him.” *

Sufficiency of scripture:

“The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. To say the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior through the gift of faith. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith.” ***

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Concluding Argument:

The most potent argument for cessationism of first-century revelatory gifts is the closing of the canon of Scripture:

The Scriptures are complete; divine revelation has ceased. In fact, the ceasing of divine revelation can be seen right in the texts of Scripture. The ending of divine revelation is the closing of the Scriptural canon. Today, there are only two forms of revelation, general (creation) and special (biblical). See this writer’s The Importance and Necessity of Special Revelation.

The Closing of the Canon:

Consider Daniel 9:24 and its importance for the subject of the closing of the canon:

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24)


The terminus or completion of this prophecy is in the first century. Verses in Daniel 9:25-27 make it clear that when the seventy-week period begins, this week will continue uninterrupted until the seventy-week period is over or complete. Christ’s death and resurrection made an end of the sins of His people. He accomplished reconciliation for His people. Christ’s people have experienced everlasting righteousness because we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, which is everlasting. The phrase “and to seal up the vision and prophecy” sets forth the closing of the canon of Scripture.

E. J. Young in The Geneva Daniel Commentary makes the following observations concerning “vision” and prophecy” in the Old Testament:

Vision was a technical name for revelation given to the OT prophets (cf. Isa, 1:1, Amos 1:1, etc.) The prophet was the one through whom this vision was revealed to the people. The two words, vision and prophet, therefore, serve to designate the prophetic revelation of the OT period…. When Christ came, there was no further need of prophetic revelation in the OT sense. (11)

Why, because Christ is the final revelation:

God “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:2)

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers is in agreement with E. J. Young on Daniel 9:24:

To Seal Up.—σϕραγίσαι, Theod.; συντελεσθῆναι, LXX.; impleatur, Jer.; the impression of the translators being that all visions and prophecies were to receive their complete fulfilment in the course of these seventy weeks. It appears, however, to be more agreeable to the context to suppose that the prophet is speaking of the absolute cessation of all prophecy. (Comp. 1Corinthians 13:8.) (12)

All seventy weeks were fulfilled in the first century contrary to Dispensationalism that is still waiting for the seventieth week to be fulfilled at some time in the future. If Young and Ellicott are correct about the seventieth week, the implications for what the dispensationalists are arguing for is enormous and wrong. This would mean the canon of Scripture is still open for the last two thousand years a position that is indefensible.

A Conclusion:

Since there is no fundamental difference between Old and New Testament revelation, and the source of the revelation is identical, there is no reason to doubt that all giving of new revelation ceased in the first century. The canon of Scripture is closed. Whatever the claims are for the alleged ongoing interpretation of tongues, modern-day prophecies, words of knowledge, they are not genuine new revelations from God.

At best as some argue there are second or third, tier revelations. If the canon is open, no argument can be made not to add these lesser revelations to an addendum of the Bible. The Mormons have already gone there; others are hesitant to get on board with something like this. Nevertheless, this proves to be a glaring inconsistency for those arguing for a continuation of the first century revelatory gifts.

What does the Scripture say about adding an addendum or extra books to the Bible?

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

The very practice of listening to revelations that are admittedly to be of a secondary nature when compared to the written Scripture is diminishing and giving preeminence to unverifiable words in a church gathering over the written Word of God.

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18)

Are charismatic revelations on the same level as the Bible? If pinned down, the modern day tongue-speaker would probably say no. If the charismatic revelatory gifts are imparting new revelation, then this is a dangerous move away from the authority of Scripture. In many cases, the charismatic is unwittingly accepting an authority other than the Bible, namely the new revelation. We are not talking about the personal conviction of the Word by the Holy Spirit. The operation of the Spirit in a believer’s life is inseparable from the written Word of God.

Prone to Errors:

Many followers of the tongue-speaking movement pay lip service to the principle of Sola Scriptura, (the Bible alone). This biblical principle of Sola Scriptura is undermined when so-called spiritual experiences influence the interpretation of the Scriptures. In light of this flawed hermeneutic, namely, letting the alleged spiritual experience (tongues speaking, words of knowledge, and prophecy) influence an understanding of the Scripture, it is not surprising that sound doctrine gives way to interpretations of Scripture that are influenced by these self-same experiences. The judicious reader sees the circular reasoning that plagues this approach.

Since the tongue-speaker has either allegedly witnessed or spoken in tongues, the Bible is interpreted in such a fashion as to support the charismatic interpretations of the Bible. Thus, the charismatic assumes this must be what the Bible teaches since they have witnessed or experienced it. This is nothing more than a dangerous subjectivist circle of interpretation. The role of Scripture and experience are reversed, experience gaining the upper hand in this system. The fruit of this, has led to practices contrary to the Bible.

Tongues, interpretation of tongues, personal prophecies, and personal words of knowledge are subjective. Why should we seek after subjective individual words when we have the clear Word of God?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

A Question:

A Mormon can be asked if the Book of Mormon has added anything to the Bible or took anything away from the Bible. The answer was always no, to which the reply would be, why do we need the book? The same question can be asked of those promoting new revelations whether second or third tier or not.

“Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20)

What does prophecy mean from Matthew Poole’s Commentary on 2 Peter 1:20:

Knowing this first; either, principally and above other things, as being most worthy to be known; or, knowing this as the first principle of faith, or the first thing to be believed.

That no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation: the Greek word here used may be rendered, either:

1. As our translators do, interpretation, or explication; and then the meaning is, not that private men are not to interpret the Scripture, only refer all to the church; but that no man nor company of men, no church nor public officers, are to interpret the Scripture of their own heads, according to their own minds, so as to make their private sense be the sense of the Scripture, but to seek the understanding of it from God, who shows them the meaning of the word in the word itself, (the more obscure places being expounded by the more clear), and by his Spirit leads believers, in their searching the Scripture, into the understanding of his mind in it: God himself being the author of the word, as 2 Peter 1:21, is the best interpreter of it. Or:

2. Mission or dismission; a metaphor taken from races, where they that ran were let loose from the stage where the race began, that they might run their course. The prophets in the Old Testament are said to run, as being God’s messengers, Jeremiah 23:21, and God is said to send them, Ezekiel 13:6, 7. And then this doth not immediately concern the interpretation of the Scripture, but the first revelation of it, spoken of in the next verse; and the question is not: Who hath authority to interpret the Scripture now written? But: What authority the penmen had to write it? And consequently, what respect is due to it? And why believers are so carefully to take heed to it? And then the meaning is, that it is the first principle of our faith, that the Scripture is not of human invention, but Divine inspiration; that the prophets wrote not their own private sense in it, but the mind of God; and at his command, not their own pleasure. (13)


If Poole is correct that Peter has Scripture in mind when mentions no private interpretation, then private revelations are also ruled out. In the Puritan writings, it was common for them to place revelation (scripture) under the heading of prophecy. See “A Quest for Godliness” by J. I. Packer.

Additionally, the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is an essential belief of the Christian faith. The self-evident testimony of the Scriptures is that they are sufficient. The Scriptures are completely adequate to meet the needs of the believer. This teaching is all over the face of the Scriptures. The believer can have confidence in the Scriptures. God’s Words are described as “pure,” “perfect,” “a light,” and “eternal.” This conclusion is one that can be drawn from or deduced from the Scriptures by good and necessary consequence.

Anyone promoting the idea of ongoing revelation is dangerously close to if not an outright denial of the sufficiency of Scripture along with giving aid and comfort to the Roman Catholic attacks upon Sola Scriptura. If the revelatory gifts in the first century bore witness to the word of the apostles, what do these supposed gifts bear witness to today? Do the modern day tongue speaking practices have any effect on doctrinal purity? Roman Catholic tongue-speakers stay within the Roman Church and continue to love the Mass and charismatic tongue-speakers, many who hold doctrinal heresies such as Pelagianism, continue in soteriological errors. Whatever these purported gifts do, it does not appear to lead to doctrinal clarity!

John Owen’s inescapable dilemma:

“Once the Scriptures were written, and the prophetic and apostolic witness to Christ was complete, no need remained for private revelations of new truths, and Owen did not believe that any were given. He opposed the ‘enthusiasm’ of those who, like the Quakers, put their trust in supposed revelations given apart from, and going beyond, the word. In a Latin work Owen calls the Quakers fanatici, ‘fanatics’, for their attitude. He is quick to deploy against them the old dilemma that if their ‘private revelations’ agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree, they are false.” (14)

This dilemma is logistically inescapable and should be used today. Scripture is Paramount!

One of the greatest American theologians, Benjamin B. Warfield on the Cessation of the Charismata:

There is, of course, a deeper principle recognizable here, of which the actual attachment of the charismata of the Apostolic Church to the mission of the Apostles is but an illustration. This deeper principle may be reached by us through the perception, more broadly, of the inseparable connection of miracles with revelation, as its mark and credential; or, more narrowly, of the summing up of all revelation, finally, in Jesus Christ. Miracles do not appear on the page of Scripture vagrantly, here, there, and elsewhere indifferently, without assignable reason. They belong to revelation periods, and appear only when God is speaking to His people through accredited messengers, declaring His gracious purposes. Their abundant display in the Apostolic Church is the mark of the richness of the Apostolic age in revelation; and when this revelation period closed, the period of miracle-working had passed by also, as a mere matter of course. It might, indeed, be a priori conceivable that God should deal with men atomistically, and reveal Himself and His will to each individual, throughout the whole course of history, in the penetralium of his own consciousness. This is the mystic’s dream. It has not, however, been God’s way. He has chosen rather to deal with the race in its entirety, and to give to this race His complete revelation of Himself in an organic whole. And when this historic process of organic revelation had reached its completeness, and when the whole knowledge of God designed for the saving health of the world had been incorporated into the living body of the world’s thought—there remained, of course, no further revelation to be made, and there has been accordingly no further revelation made. God the Holy Spirit has made it His subsequent work, not to introduce new and unneeded revelations into the world, but to diffuse this one complete revelation through the world and to bring mankind into the saving knowledge of it. (15)

In closing, consider how the Word of God Instructs Us:

“Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.” (Psalm 119:169)

Who would argue that “according to thy word” should be interpreted to include personal revelations or unverifiable utterances in a church meeting?

The Westminster Confession of Faith and cessationism 1.1:

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.

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


1. Gordon H. Clark, First Corinthians, (Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1991), pp. 212-213.

2. Leonard J. Coppes, Whatever Happened to Biblical Tongues? (Chattanooga, Tennessee: Pilgrim Publishing Company, 1977), pp. 59-60.

3. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 1219.

4. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), pp. 1154-1155.

5. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Romans, vol. 2, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 238.

6. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1 Corinthians, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 323.

7. M. F. Sadler, The First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, (London, England, George Bell and Sons 1906), p. 217.

8. D.A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14,

9. (Grand Rapids, Michiagn Baker Academic), p. 84.

10. (Cited from Joe Nickell, Looking for a Miracle, (New York, Prometheus Books), p. 108.)

11. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Joel, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), pp. 893-894.

12. E. J. Young, Daniel, (Oxford: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1988), p. 200.

13. Charles John Ellicot, A Bible Commentary for English Readers, Daniel, vol. 5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 387.

14. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, 2 Peter, vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 921.

15. J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, (Westchester, Illinois, Crossway Books 1990), p. 86.

16. Benjamin B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles, (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918), pp. 25-26.

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

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. He served as an ordained ruling elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He worked in and retired from a fortune five hundred company in corporate America after forty years. He runs two blogs sites and 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:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca writes

** CARM theological dictionary


“John Owen on “Communication from God” by J. I. Packer p. 5. A selection from “A Quest for Godliness” by J. I. Packer, 1990, Crossway Books.

COUNTERFEIT MIRACLES BY BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD…/warf…/warfield_counterfeit.html…

*Linguistic scrutiny quotes borrowed from Are Tongues Real Languages? By Nathan Busenitz

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The Bankruptcy of Atheism

The Bankruptcy of Atheism by Jack Kettler

Does the Christian have a coherent theory of knowledge? Asked another way, can Christians make sense out of the world? Do the Christian worldview have a basis to determine right and wrong? This article is a challenge to the atheistic worldview. Can the atheistic worldview explain its starting point and defend it? Where does the Christian worldview start? The Christian worldview starts with an axiom.

Gordon H. Clark: The Axiom of Scripture:

“Every philosophic or theological system must begin somewhere, for if it did not begin it could not continue. But a beginning cannot be preceded by anything else, or it would not be the beginning. Therefore every system must be based on presuppositions (Require as a precondition of possibility or coherence. Tacitly assume to be the case) or axioms (An accepted statement or proposition regarded as being self-evidently true). They may be Spinoza’s axioms; they may be Locke’s sensory starting point, or whatever. Every system must therefore be presuppositional.

The first principle cannot be demonstrated because there is nothing prior from which to deduce it. Call it presuppositionalism, call it fideism, names do not matter. But I know no better presupposition than “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the word of God written, and therefore inerrant in the autographs.

If the axioms of other secularists are not nonsense, they are nonetheless axioms. Every system must start somewhere, and it cannot have started before it starts. A naturalist might amend the Logical Positivists’ principle and make it say that all knowledge is derived from sensation. This is not nonsense, but it is still an empirically unverifiable axiom. If it is not self-contradictory, it is at least without empirical justification. Other arguments against empiricism need not be given here: The point is that no system can deduce its axioms.

The inference is this: No one can consistently object to Christianity being based on an indemonstrable axiom. If the secularists exercise their privilege of basing their theorems on axioms, then so may Christians. If the former refuse to accept our axioms, then they can have no logical objection to our rejecting theirs. Accordingly, we reject the very basis of atheism, Logical Positivism, and, in general, empiricism. Our axiom shall be that God has spoken. More completely, God has spoken in the Bible. More precisely, what the Bible says, God has spoken.” (1)

“Logically the infallibility of the Bible is not a theorem to be deduced from some prior axiom. The infallibility of the Bible is the axiom from which several doctrines are themselves deduced as theorems. Every religion and every philosophy must be based on some first principle. And since a first principle is first, it cannot be “proved” or “demonstrated” on the basis of anything prior. As the catechism question, quoted above, says, “The Word of God is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify Him.”

The inference is this: No one can consistently object to Christianity being based on an indemonstrable axiom. If the secularists exercise their privilege of basing their theorems on axioms, then so may Christians. If the former refuse to accept our axioms, then they can have no logical objection to our rejecting theirs. Accordingly, we reject the very basis of atheism, Logical Positivism, and, in general, empiricism. Our axiom shall be that God has spoken. More completely, God has spoken in the Bible. More precisely, what the Bible says, God has spoken.” (2)

Scripturalism, the following is a paraphrase or summation of the Christian’s starting principle by Gordon H. Clark:

Scripturalism (all knowledge must be contained within a system and deduced from its starting principles, in the Christian case, the Bible).

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 Nietzshe: “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. The following picture illustrates the atheist and other non-believers dilemma. The following picture illustrates the atheist’s impossible escape to nowhere.

Water man climbing to nowhere

In light of the Christian axiom, Scripturalism, (all knowledge must be contained within a system and deduced from its starting principles, in the Christian case, the Bible) we can put forth the Transcendental Argument:

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

“…in the present day not a few are found, who deny the being of a God, yet, whether they will or not, they occasionally feel the truth which they are desirous not to know. We do not read of any man who broke out into more unbridled and audacious contempt of the Deity than C. Caligula, and yet none showed greater dread when any indication of divine wrath was manifested. Thus, however unwilling, he shook with terror before the God whom he professedly studied to condemn. You may every day see the same thing happening to his modern imitators. The most audacious despiser of God is most easily disturbed, trembling at the sound of a falling leaf. How so, unless in vindication of the divine majesty, which smites their consciences the more strongly the more they endeavor to flee from it. They all, indeed, look out for hiding-places where they may conceal themselves from the presence of the Lord, and again efface it from their mind; but after all their efforts, they remain caught within the net. Though the conviction may occasionally seem to vanish for a moment, it immediately returns, and rushes in with new impetuosity, so that any interval of relief from the gnawing of conscience is not unlike the slumber of the intoxicated or the insane, who have no quiet rest in sleep, but are continually haunted with dire horrific dreams. Even the wicked themselves, therefore, are an example of the fact that some idea of God always exists in every human mind.” – John Calvin in Institutes of the Christian Religion

“The statement that ‘God is dead’ comes from Nietzsche and has recently been trumpeted abroad by some German and American theologians. But the good Lord has not died of this; He who dwells in the heaven laughs at them.” – Karl Barth

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV)


1. Gordon H. Clark, In Defense of Theology, (Fenton, Michigan, Mott Media, Inc. Publishers, 1984), pp. 31-33.

2. Gordon H. Clark, What Do Presbyterians Believe? (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed 1985), pg. 18.

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:

* Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein at Davis University in California in 1985.







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The History of Jihad

The History of Jihad

By Robert Spencer
Bombardier Books

Reviewed by Jack Kettler

Robert Spencer’s bio:

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, and the author of nineteen books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad.

Mr. Spencer has directed seminars on Islam and jihad for the FBI, the United States Central Command, United States Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), the Justice Department’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council and the U.S. intelligence community. He has discussed jihad, Islam, and terrorism at a workshop sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the German Foreign Ministry. He is a consultant with the Center for Security Policy and vice president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

What others are saying about Robert Spencer:

“Robert Spencer is one of my heroes. He has once again produced an invaluable and much-needed book. Want to read the truth about Islam? Read this book. It depicts the terrible fate of the hundreds of millions of men, women, and children who, from the 7th century until today, were massacred or enslaved by Islam. It is a fate that awaits us all if we are not vigilant.” – Geert Wilders, member of Parliament in the Netherlands and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV)

“Spencer argues, in brief, ‘There has always been, with virtually no interruption, jihad.’ Painstakingly, he documents in this important study how aggressive war on behalf of Islam has, for fourteen centuries and still now, befouled Muslim life. He hopes his study will awaken potential victims of jihad, but will they–will we–listen to his warning? Much hangs in the balance.” – Daniel Pipes, president, Middle East Forum and author of Slave Soldiers and Islam: The Genesis of a Military System

“Jihad is not mere terrorism. Ironic as it may seem, that is Western wishful thinking. From its inception, as Robert Spencer incontestably illustrates, jihad has been the outward, aggressive expression of a conquest ideology. The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS is as relentless in relating unvarnished truth as is the phenomenon it tracks in seeking domination–and never being satisfied with less, however long it takes. Those who care to preserve Western rationalism, civil liberties, and free societies must confront this history, and its implications, with eyes opened.” – Andrew C. McCarthy, bestselling author, former federal prosecutor, and National Review contributing editor

Important definitions:

Allah: One God (Allah in Arabic).

Caliph: (khalif,) the Caliph is a political-religious leader of the Muslim community.

Dhimmitude: The state of subjection and oppression of non-Muslims under Islamic rule. Enslavement or servitude of the non-Muslims then becomes a whole outlook on life and way of dealing with things.

Jihad: Commonly translated as Holy War, the defense of Islam against its enemies.

Kafir One who does not believe in Allah, or in the content of the Qur’an, or in the prophetic status of Muhammad.

Qur’an: The sacred text of Islam.

Taqiyya: not showing their faith openly by means of pretense, dissimulation, or concealment, is a special type of lying.

My thoughts on Spencer and this new book:

Mr. Spencer continues to distinguish himself as a champion of religious and civil liberties. This latest book, The History of Jihad is the first of its kind. The fake media and feckless politicians and ecumenical leaders who continue to promote the “religion of peace” canard are shown “To have no clothes,” paraphrasing “The emperor has no clothes.”

Never before has the wealth of information in this book been placed into one volume. Historically, Islam has been relentless in ongoing military campaigns. Spencer accounts how modern-day slavery and dhimmitude are dark realities of Islamic conquest. Spencer chronicles the1400 years of bloodshed, murder, rape, pillaging, and slavery done in the name of Islam since its inception. It cannot be disputed after reading Spencer’s book, that the history of Islam is the history of jihad. This is true if Islam in operating under an empire like that of the Ottoman Turks or an individual jihadist.

When a Muslim jihadist screaming “Allahu Akbar” runs over people on the streets or stabs them to death like Theo Van Gogh, in Holland, they are doing what Islam has always done. The acts of terrorism are what Muhammad taught. For example, Muhammad commanded in Quran 8:12 – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” References from the Quran and quotes from historical documents in Spencer’s book prove this beyond doubt.

In conclusion after reading Spencer’s book my thoughts are:

“Islam is a religious, political, genocidal ideology characterized by centuries of Jihadist warfare and brutal oppressive totalitarianism of those enslaved. This 7th Century malevolent ideology provides cover for unfathomable discrimination against non-Muslims, sadistic torture and unthinkable misogyny, even encouraging the rape of non-Muslim women and slavery that is practiced and sanctioned to this present day as witnessed by ISIS.”

“The religion of the New World Order is Islam. The selection of Islam as the religion of the New World Order explains the West’s forced suicidal surrender to Islam and the relentless attacks upon anyone who dares to speak the truth about Islam, its history of violence and subjugation and supremacy over non-Muslims. The violent Mohammedans will be used to intimidate and suppress free speech, lectures, media interviews, and assemblies and terrorize people into submission.”

Islamophobia is a recently made up term, which can be defined as someone who has an irrational hatred and fear of Islam. This charge when made against Mr. Spencer is slanderous.

“…tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

“People that tell you Islam is a religion of peace are only announcing their ignorance.” – Brigitte Gabriel

In ending this review, those who have given in to political correctness and are willing to surrender Western freedoms brought to you by the Judeo/Christian world view, I will end with Mr. Spencer’s words: “And so, in closing, I have to say: Shame on you.”

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 The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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