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

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

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

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

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

James W. Dale and others write: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

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

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

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

Cups – drinking vessels. Those used at their meals.

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

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

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

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

From Vincent’s Word Studies:

“Wash themselves (βαπτίσωνται)

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

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

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

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

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

Pots (ξεστῶν)

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

Brazen vessels (χαλκίων)

More literally, copper.

Tables (κλινῶν)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

In closing:

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

The manuscript says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something for other immersionists to consider. Possible solutions:

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

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

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

A dilemma for strict immersionists:

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

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

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

Utilizing this interpretive principle, one can ascertain: 

Pouring magnifies the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:

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

Baptism by sprinkling magnifies the cleansing blood of Christ:

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

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

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

And finally:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more study:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strong’s Concordance:

zaraq: scatter

Original word: זָרַק

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: zaraq

Phonetic Spelling: (zaw-rak’)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the blood of sprinkling, Hebrews 12:24.”

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

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

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

Two New Testament passages involving sprinkling:

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

Strong’s Concordance:

rhantizó: to sprinkle

Original word: ῥαντίζω

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: rhantizó

Phonetic Spelling: (hran-tid’-zo)

Definition: to sprinkle

Usage: I sprinkle, cleanse ceremonially by sprinkling.”

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

Strong’s Concordance:

rhantismos: sprinkling

Original Word: ῥαντισμός, οῦ, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: rhantismos

Phonetic Spelling: (hran-tis-mos’)

Definition: sprinkling

Usage: sprinkling, purification.”

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

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

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

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

“Blood of sprinkling (αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ)”

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

“Speaketh better things (κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι)”

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

“Than that of Abel (παρὰ τὸν Ἄβελ).”

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

In closing:

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

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

Regarding baptism and its relationship to Ezekiel:

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

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

Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture:

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

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

For more study:

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


by Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee

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


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

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

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

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

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Is Matthew 10:37 too difficult to obey?


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

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

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

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

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

What is a disciple?

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

Since Luke appears to be the stronger warning, consider:

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

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

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

In Deuteronomy, there is a similar passage:

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

Deuteronomy refers to the Levites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

What is the relationship between discipleship and sanctification?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter XIII. Of Sanctification

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

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

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

In closing:

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Isaiah 44:3, what does “pour out floods” on a dry land mean? 

In Isaiah 44:3, what does “pour out floods” on a dry land mean?                By Jack Kettler

In this study, the meaning of “pour out floods on a dry land” will be considered.  

“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” (Isaiah 44:3)

From the Strong’s Lexicon:


מַ֙יִם֙ (ma·yim)

Noun – masculine plural

Strong’s Hebrew 4325: 1) water, waters 1a) water 1b) water of the feet, urine 1c) of danger, violence, transitory things, refreshment (fig.)”

While one can see from the Strong’s why the KJV translators chose floods to translate ma·yim, there is room in the Hebrew for other words to be used.

For example, consider the following translations:

New International Version

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.”

New Living Translation

“For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.”

English Standard Version

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.”

Berean Standard Bible

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and currents on the dry ground. I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.”

New American Standard Bible

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, And My blessing on your descendants.” (Underlining emphasis mine)

The reader will notice the range of meaning the Hebrew allows, such as floods, currents, streams, and irrigating.

In his commentary, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible has this to say:

“For I will pour water – Floods, rivers, streams, and waters, are often used in the Scriptures, and especially in Isaiah, to denote plenteous divine blessings, particularly the abundant influences of the Holy Spirit (see the note at Isaiah 35:6-7). That it here refers to the Holy Spirit and his influences, is proved by the parallel expressions in the subsequent part of the verse.”

“Upon him that is thirsty – Or rather, ‘on the thirsty land.’ The word צמא tsâmē’ refers here rather to land, and the figure is taken from a burning sandy desert, where waters would be made to burst out in copious streams (see Isaiah 35:6-7). The sense is, that God would bestow blessings upon them as signal and marvelous, as if floods of waters were made to descend on the dry, parched, and desolated earth.”

“And floods – The word נוזלים nôzelı̂ym, from נזל nâzal, “to flow,” to run as liquids, means properly flowings, and is used for streams and rivers Exodus 15:8; Psalm 78:16; Proverbs 5:15; Jeremiah 18 It means here that the spiritual influences which would descend on the afflicted, desolate, comfortless, and exiled people, would be like torrents of rain poured on the thirsty earth. This beautiful figure is common in the Scriptures:”

“He shall come down like rain upon the grass,”

“And as showers that water the earth.”  

From J. C. Philpot’s Daily Portions:

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 44:3

In pouring out his Spirit upon Zion’s offspring, God pours out there with every spiritual blessing that there is in his heart or hands to bestow. Whatever earthly good you may enjoy, without the blessing of God it will but prove a curse; whatever afflictions fall to your earthly lot, if God blesses them, they must all eventually be made a blessing. Nor is this blessing niggardly given, for the Lord has here promised that he will POUR it out! It shall be given as profusely and as abundantly as the Spirit himself. Nor shall Zion doubt either the blessing itself or the source whence it comes, for it carries its own evidence, shines in the light of its own testimony, and manifests itself by its own effects.”

“And does not the contrast between the dry ground and the promised showers of blessing enhance it all the more? Your very barrenness and sterility make the promise all the more suitable, and therefore all the more sweet. If you look into yourself, a barren wilderness meets your view. If you look up, you see the clouds of blessing floating in the pure sky. You see that the Lord has promised to “pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” You beg of him to fulfill that promise to your soul. You have no other plea but his own word of promise, no other recommendation but your own miserable barrenness. He enables you to cry to him. He listens to that cry, and in his own time pours water upon your thirsty soul, and floods upon your dry and parched heart. O may a sense of our poverty and destitution be ever a means, in his sacred hand, of leading us to seek that blessing which he alone can bestow!”

Philpot captures the New Testament Messianic implications of Isaiah 44:3 perfectly. 

In closing, a summary of the Isaiah passage from Matthew Poole’s Commentary:

I will pour water; my Spirit and blessing, which is frequently compared to water; and so, it is expounded in the latter part of the verse.”

“Upon him that is thirsty: either,”

1. “Upon him that desires it. Or rather,”

2. “Upon him that is destitute of it; for what is here thirsty, in the next clause it is called dry ground.”

“My Spirit; the gifts and graces of my Spirit; which expression he seems designedly to use, to lift up the minds and hearts of the Jews from carnal and worldly things, to which they were too much addicted, unto spiritual and heavenly blessings, and thereby to prepare them for the better entertainment of the gospel.”

“My blessing; all the blessings of my covenant, both spiritual and temporal.”

The passage from Isaiah 44:3 is one of encouragement for God’s people. Using the word picture of floods or streams being poured upon the dry or thirsty land, one can see two-fold blessings, one literal for dry land in need of moisture, and another, a spiritual or heavenly blessing.

“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, Isaiah, Vol. 7, p.1044.

2.      Philpot’s Daily Portions: Daily Readings for Christians.

3.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Isaiah, Vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 424.

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

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Romans 8:28, an Exposition 

Romans 8:28, an Exposition                                                                           by Jack Kettler

In this study, the meaning of and encouragement found in Romans 8:28 will be considered.  

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Breaking down the phrase “we know” from Strong’s Lexicon:

“we know

Οἴδαμεν (Oidamen)

Verb – Perfect Indicative Active – 1st Person Plural

Strong’s Greek 1492: To know, remember, appreciate.”

Strong’s Concordance:

“eidó: be aware, behold, consider, perceive

Original Word: οἶδα

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: eidó

Phonetic Spelling: (i’-do)

Definition: be aware, behold, consider, perceive

Usage: I know, remember, appreciate.”

Note: “We know” is in the perfect active tense means that it is already completed, thus, inspiring confidence. Consider a few other passages from Romans and how the Apostle Paul uses the Greek word Οἴδαμεν:

“Romans 7:14

GRK: οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι

KJV: For we know that the law”

“Romans 7:18

GRK: οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι

KJV: For I know that in”

“Romans 8:22

GRK: οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι

KJV: For we know that the whole” (underlining emphasis mine)

Now consider God’s action in the Romans 8:28 passage, “are called:”

Strong’s Lexicon:


οὖσιν (ousin)

Verb – Present Participle Active – Dative Masculine Plural

Strong’s Greek 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.”


κλητοῖς (klētois)

Adjective – Dative Masculine Plural

Strong’s Greek 2822: From the same as klesis; invited, i.e. Appointed, or, a saint.”

Together, both οὖσιν (present indicative)and κλητοῖς (appointed, or a saint) indicate present realities.

Is there a condition found in the text? Consider, “called according to his purpose.” It is apparent that the condition is found in God’s purpose and not anything depending on a man’s action. Thus, the condition is found in God’s purpose, which further strengthens the certainty of this promise.

The Strong’s Concordance confirms this:

“prothesis: a setting forth, i.e. fig. proposal, spec. the showbread, sacred (bread)

Original Word: πρόθεσις, εως, ἡ

Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine

Transliteration: prothesis

Phonetic Spelling: (proth’-es-is)

Definition: a setting forth, proposal, the showbread, sacred (bread)

Usage: a setting forth, the show-bread; predetermination, purpose.”

The certainty is seen in other passages from Paul using similar grammatical structure:

“Romans 9:11

GRK: κατ’ ἐκλογὴν πρόθεσις τοῦ θεοῦ

NAS: that God’s purpose according

KJV: that the purpose of God

INT: according to election purpose of God”

“Ephesians 1:11

GRK: προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ

NAS: according to His purpose who works

KJV: according to the purpose of him who worketh

INT: having been predestined according to [the] purpose of him who the”

“Ephesians 3:11

GRK: κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων

NAS: with the eternal purpose which

KJV: the eternal purpose which

INT: according to [the] purpose of the ages”

Parallel Translations:

New International Version

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

New Living Translation

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

English Standard Version

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

New American Standard Bible

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Holman Christian Standard Bible

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”

American Standard Version

“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.”

English Revised Version

“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.”

“Young’s Literal Translation

And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose.”

Helpful Cross References:

Acts 13:48

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”

Romans 8:30

“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 11:29

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

1 Corinthians 1:9

“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:24

“But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

Galatians 1:15

“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,”

Interestingly, in the above passages, the verb tenses are present or past tense, meaning the grounds for hope is a present reality.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

“28. And we knew, &c.] Here appears a fresh assurance of safety. We have seen (1) the certainty of the son-ship of the believer; (2) the fact that his sorrows are only the prelude of glory; (3) the Divine assistance afforded him by the Holy Spirit, especially in prayer. Now, before the final appeal, we have an express statement of the truth that the children of God are the objects on His part of an Eternal Purpose, which must issue in their final blessedness, and must thus turn “all things” at last to good for them. This is stated as a confessed certainty, well known in the Church.

all things] In the amplest sense. See Romans 8:38-39 for illustration. No doubt St Paul has especially in view the sufferings of the saints, which would often tempt them to say “these things are against me.” But peace and rest, on earth, are perils also; and even such trials therefore need a similar assurance. —St Chrysostom’s dying words were, “Glory be to God for all things.”

work together] As means in the great Worker’s hand. It is instructive to note this expression in a passage where also the Divine Decrees are in view. The eternal Will takes place not arbitrarily, but through means; and those means are immensely various, and mutually adjusted by supreme Wisdom only.

for good] Chiefly, no doubt, the final Good is meant, the fruition of God in eternal Glory. But all true good by the way is included, as part of the path thither.

that love God] As His children; in whose hearts His love has been “outpoured by the Holy Ghost” (Ch. Romans 5:5). Observe that this note of saintship stands first in this memorable passage; not eternal election, but that conscious love to God in Christ which is its sure fruit, and without which no speculation of mysteries brings the soul near to Him. —It is the True God alone who makes this His unalterable demand; “Thou shalt love me.”

to them who are the called] Identical with “them that love Him.” See on Romans 1:6, for the profound meaning of “the call.” 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 is a clear illustration, in contrast with Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14. In the Gospels the word “call” refers to outward hearing; in the Epistles to inward reception, due to a special and sovereign influence from above. —See too Revelation 17:14.

according to his purpose] Same word as Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9. See especially the last passage and Ephesians 1:11, for the sense in which St Paul uses the word here. It is the intention of “Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will;” and it is absolute and sovereign, in the sense not of arbitrary caprice, (God forbid,) but in that of its being uncaused by anything external to Himself. The gift of life is “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose.” His “good pleasure” was, “before the world began,” “purposed in Himself.” (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11.) In the next verses, St Paul explains his meaning further. — (The word “His” is not in the Gr., but is certainly right in translation.)” (1)

In closing:

Romans 8:28 inspired this writer while working 60 hours each week to build a six-figure income in a yearly 400 hundred million dollars per year sales company. When this writer won a top twenty business builders of the year award, Romans 8:28 was announced as this writer’s favorite inspirational passage. However, and more importantly, spiritually, this passage is not necessarily about material success but rather a confidence in God’s promises for the task of those active in missions, in personal spiritual assurance, and in general sustaining one’s life. 

To further buttress this closing’s spiritual observation:

Matthew Poole’s Commentary:

“Another argument to comfort us under the cross, from the benefits of it;

We know that all things, &c. It is not matter of guess only and conjecture, but of certainty and assurance. How is this known?

1. By the testimony of God; the Scripture tells us as much, Psalm 128:1,2 Isa 3:10.

2. By our own experience; we are assured of it by the event and effects of all things, both upon ourselves and others.

All things, even sin itself; because from their falls, God’s children arise humbler and more careful. Afflictions are chiefly intended; the worst and crossest providences, those things that are evil in themselves, they work for good to the children of God.

Work together; here is their operation, and their co-operation: First, they work together with God. What the apostle says of himself and others in the ministry, 2 Corinthians 6:1, that may be said of other things, especially of afflictions; they are workers together with God. Some read the words thus, God co-operates all too good. Again, they work together with us; we ourselves must concur, and be active herein; we must labour and endeavour to get good out of every providence. Once more, they work together amongst themselves, or one with another. Take this or that providence singly, or by itself, and you shall not see the good it doth; but take it in its conjunction and connexion with others, and then you may perceive it. One exemplifies it thus: As in matter of physic, if you take such and such simples alone, they may poison rather than cure; but then take them in their composition, as they are made up by the direction of a skillful physician, and so they prove an excellent medicine.

For good; sometimes for temporal good, Genesis 1:20; always for spiritual and eternal good, which is best of all. All occurrences of providence shall serve to bring them nearer to God here, and to heaven hereafter.

According to his purpose: these words are added to show the ground and reason of God’s calling us; which is nothing else but his own purpose and good pleasure; it is not according to our worthiness, but his purpose: see 2 Timothy 1:9.” (2

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


1.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, H. C. G. Moule, Romans, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

2.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Romans, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 506.

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

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What does Isaiah mean by “these things” in Isaiah 38:16?

What does Isaiah mean by these things in Isaiah 38:16?

What does Isaiah mean by these things in Isaiah 38:16?                                 by Jack Kettler

In this study, the meaning of “these things men shall live” will be considered.  

“O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so, wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.” (Isaiah 38:16)

The reader will notice that the words things and men are italicized, meaning that the two are not in the Hebrew text.

Consulting the Strong’s Lexicon:

“by [such things]

עֲלֵיהֶ֣ם (‘ă·lê·hem)

Preposition | third person masculine plural

Strong’s Hebrew 5921: prep 1) upon, on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by, on to, towards, to, against 1a) upon, on the ground of, on the basis of, on account of, because of, therefore, on behalf of, for the sake of, for, with, in spite of, notwithstanding, concerning, in the matter of, as regards 1b) above, beyond, over (of excess) 1c) above, over (of elevation or pre-eminence) 1d) upon, to, over to, unto, in addition to, together with, with (of addition) 1e) over (of suspension or extension) 1f) by, adjoining, next, at, over, around (of contiguity or proximity) 1g) down upon, upon, on, from, up upon, up to, towards, over towards, to, against (with verbs of motion) 1h) to (as a dative) conj 2) because that, because, notwithstanding, although”

The Strong’s Concordance:


chayah: live

Original Word: חָיָה

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: chayah

Phonetic Spelling: (khaw-yaw’)

Definition: to live”

While not in the original, things and men are certainly implied in the Hebrew text.

Since these two words are implied, consider how the English Standard Version (ESV) renders the text in Isaiah 38:16:

“O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh, restore me to health and make me live!” (ESV)

How does one understand the context of Isaiah 38:16?

The context is addressed in Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

“38:9-22 We have here Hezekiah’s thanksgiving. It is well for us to remember the mercies we receive in sickness. Hezekiah records the condition he was in. He dwells upon this; I shall no more see the Lord. A good man wishes not to live for any other end than that he may serve God, and have communion with him. Our present residence is like that of a shepherd in his hut, a poor, mean, and cold lodging, and with a trust committed to our charge, as the shepherd has. Our days are compared to the weaver’s shuttle, Job 7:6, passing and repassing very swiftly, every throw leaving a thread behind it; and when finished, the piece is cut off, taken out of the loom, and showed to our Master to be judged of. A good man, when his life is cut off, his cares and fatigues are cut off with it, and he rests from his labours. But our times are in God’s hand; he has appointed what shall be the length of the piece. When sick, we are very apt to calculate our time, but are still at uncertainty. It should be more our care how we shall get safe to another world. And the more we taste of the loving-kindness of God, the more will our hearts love him, and live to him. It was in love to our poor perishing souls that Christ delivered them. The pardon does not make the sin not to have been sin, but not to be punished as it deserves. It is pleasant to think of our recoveries from sickness, when we see them flowing from the pardon of sin. Hezekiah’s opportunity to glorify God in this world, he made the business, and pleasure, and end of life. Being recovered, he resolves to abound in praising and serving God. God’s promises are not to do away, but to quicken and encourage the use of means. Life and health are given that we may glorify God and do good.” (1)

From Matthew Henry, one learns about King Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery and his praise to God. 

The following commentary entry provides a short synopsis of the passage from Isaiah.  

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Isaiah 38:16:

“16. by these—namely, by God’s benefits, which are implied in the context (Isa 38:15, “He hath Himself done it” “unto me”). All “men live by these” benefits (Ps 104:27-30), “and in all these is the life of my spirit,” that is, I also live by them (De 8:3).

and (wilt) make me to live—The Hebrew is imperative, “make me to live.” In this view, he adds a prayer to the confident hope founded on his comparative convalescence, which he expressed, “Thou wilt recover me” [Maurer].” (2)

In closing:

Answering the starting question, Isaiah, when saying by these things, was referring to God’s gracious benefits. So, like Hezekiah, the believer prays that God is praised for His daily benefits that are the result of divine providential care.   

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


1.      Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 1164.

2.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 556.

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

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What is the Parousia?

What is the Parousia?                                                                                by Jack Kettler

In this study, the Greek word Parousia will be considered as to its meaning, along with some related terms and words. A commentary on the New Testament will be consulted to ascertain its meaning, along with a detailed overview from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  

The Parousia of the Son of Man is described in the following selection from Mark:

“24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.” (Mark 13:24-27)

Old Testament origins of the idea of Parousia:

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” (Daniel 7:13)

Strong’s Lexicon:


אָתֵ֣ה (’ā·ṯêh)

Verb – Qal – Participle – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 858: 1) to come, arrive 1a) (P’al) to come 1b) (Aphel) to bring 1c) (Hophal) to be brought 2) used in the NT in the phrase ‘maranatha’ -‘Lord come’

The Septuagint:

The word does not appear in the main part of the Septuagint that Protestants accept. It is twice used in the Septuagint in (2 Maccabees 8:12 and 15:21) has the ordinary meaning of arrival.

While not appearing in the Old Testament Canon, the idea of the parousia exists in the Old Testament, as one sees from Daniel.

The Son of Man Is Given Dominion:

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)

Three examples of New Testament usage of Parousia:


“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15)

Strong’s Lexicon:


παρουσίαν (parousian)

Noun – Accusative Feminine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3952: From the present participle of pareimi; a being near, i.e. Advent; physically, aspect”

Vincent’s Word Studies:

“By the word of the Lord (ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου)

Or in the word. Λόγος of a concrete saying, Romans 9:9; Romans 13:9. We do not say this on our own authority. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:10, 1 Corinthians 7:12, 1 Corinthians 7:25. No recorded saying of the Lord answers to this reference. It may refer to a saying transmitted orally, or to a direct revelation to Paul. Comp. Galatians 1:12; Galatians 2:2; Ephesians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:1, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Remain (περιλειπόμενοι)

Po. and only in this Epistle. The plural we indicate that Paul himself expected to be alive at the parousia.

Shall not prevent (οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν)

The A.V. misses the force of the double negative – shall in no wise prevent. Prevent in the older sense of anticipate, be beforehand with. See on Matthew 17:25, and see on 1 Thessalonians 2:16. The living shall not share the blessings of the advent sooner than the dead in Christ.” (1)

Vincent wisely notes that Paul expected to be present at the parousia. Understanding the text this way is natural and lends support for a preterist interpretation of the text. (Underlining and bolding emphasis mine) 


“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming (παρουσία) of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:8)

Strong’s Concordance:

“parousia: a presence, a coming

Original Word: παρουσία, ας, ἡ

Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine

Transliteration: parousia

Phonetic Spelling: (par-oo-see’-ah)

Definition: a presence, a coming

Usage: (a) presence, (b) a coming, an arrival, advent, especially of the second coming of Christ.”


“And saying, where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

Strong’s Lexicon:


παρουσίας (parousias)

Noun – Genitive Feminine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3952: From the present participle of pareimi; a being near, i.e. Advent; physically, aspect.”

In Paul’s use of parousia the emphasis is on “being near.” In James parousia is used with an emphasis on an “advent” or second coming.

A comprehensive look at parousia is found in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

“STRONGS NT 3952: παρουσία

παρουσία, παρουσίας, ἡ (παρών, παροῦσα, παρουσον, from πάρειμι which see) in Greek authors from the Tragg., Thucydides, Plato down; not found in the Sept.;

1. presence: 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 10:10; opposed to ἀπουσίᾳ, Philippians 2:12 (2 Macc. 15:21; (Aristotle, phys. 2, 3, p. 195a, 14; metaphys. 4, 2, p. 1013b, 14; meteor. 4, 5, p. 382a, 33 etc.)).

2. the presence of one coming, hence, the coming, arrival, advent, ((Polybius 3, 41, 1. 8); Judith 10:18; 2 Macc. 8:12; (Hermas, sim. 5, 5, 3 [ET])): 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:9 (cf. ἀποκαλυφθήσεται; ἡ … πάλιν πρός τινα, of a return, Philippians 1:26. In the N. T. especially of the advent, i. e. the future, visible, return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God: Matthew 24:3; ἡ παρουσία τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (27), 37, 39; τοῦ κυρίου, 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; James 5:7; 2 Peter 3:4; Χριστοῦ, 2 Peter 1:16; αὐτοῦ, 1 Corinthians 15:23; (1 Thessalonians 2:19); 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 2 Peter 3:4; (1 John 2:28); τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμέρας, 2 Peter 3:12. It is called in ecclesiastical writings ἡ δευτέρᾳ παρουσία, Ev. Nicod. c. 22 at the end; Justin Martyr, Apology 1, 52 (where see Otto’s note); dialog contra Trypho, chapters 40, 110, 121; and is opposed to ἡ πρώτη παρουσία which took place in the incarnation, birth, and earthly career of Christ, Justin Martyr, dialog contra Trypho, chapters 52, 121, cf. 14, 32, 49, etc.; (cf. Ignatius ad Phil. 9 [ET] (and Lightfoot)); see ἔλευσις.” (2)

The present study on “parousia” is not on the subject of preterist interpretation. The present writer has addressed this issue in previous studies. The reader should note in the following entry the academic struggle with Christ’s assertion that He would come in the generation of Paul, as seen from the Vincent quote. Various theories have been advanced to maintain the Bible integrity of Christ’s claim to be coming soon, and skeptics that say it never happened. There will be a recommended reading list that will be of assistance in answering various questions that have arisen over Christ’s claim of His soon coming.  

A thoroughgoing analysis of parousia from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:    




1. Terms

2. Data and Sources

3. Consistency

4. Meaning of the Symbolism


1. Critical Problems

2. Summary

3. Fall of Jerusalem

4. Time


1. Solution of Problem

2. The Church a Divine Quantity


I. The Apostolic Doctrine.

1. Terms:

The Second Coming of Christ (a phrase not found in the Bible) is expressed by the apostles in the following special terms:

“(1) “Parousia” (parousia), a word fairly common in Greek, with the meaning “presence” (2 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:12). More especially it may mean “presence after absence,” “arrival” (but not “return,” unless this is given by the context), as in 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6,7; Philippians 1:26. And still more particularly it is applied to the Coming of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,8; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28–in all 13 times, besides 2 Thessalonians 2:9, where it denotes the coming of Anti-christ. This word for Christ’s Second Coming passed into the early Patristic literature (Diognetus, vii.6, e.g.), but its use in this sense is not invariable. For instance, the word in Ignatius, Philadelphians, ix.2, means the Incarnation. Or the Incarnation is called the first Parousia, as in Justin, Trypho, xiv. But in modern theology it means invariably the Second Coming. Recent archaeological discoveries have explained why the word received such general Christian use in the special sense. In Hellenistic Greek it was used for the arrival of a ruler at a place, as is evidenced by inscriptions in Egypt, Asia Minor, etc. Indeed, in an Epidaurus inscription of the 3rd century BC (Dittenberger, Sylloge”

“(2), Number 803, 34), “Parousia” is applied to a manifestation of Aesculapius. Consequently, the adoption by the Greek-speaking Christians of a word that already contained full regal and even Divine concepts was perfectly natural. (The evidence is well summarized in Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East3, 372-78, German edition, 281-87.) (2) “Epiphany” epiphaneia), “manifestation,” used of the Incarnation in 2 Timothy 1:10, but of the Second Coming in 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13. The word was used like Parousia in Hellenistic Greek to denote the ceremonial arrival of rulers; compare Deissmann, as above.”

“(3) “Apocalypse” apokalupsis), “revelation,” denotes the Second Coming in 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 4:13.”

“(4) “Day of the Lord, more or less modified, but referring to Christ in 1 Corinthians 1:8; 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 1:6,10; 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2. The phrase is used of the Father in the strict Old Testament sense in Acts 2:20; 2 Peter 3:12; Revelation 1:6-14, and probably in 2 Peter 3:10. Besides, as in the Old Testament and the intermediate literature, “day of wrath,” “last day,” or simply “day” are used very frequently.”


“Of the first three of the above terms, only Parousia is found in the Gospels, 4 times, all in Matthew 24:3,17,37,39, and in the last three of these all in the set phrase “so shall be the Parousia of the Son of Man.” As Christ spoke in Aramaic, the use of “Parousia” here is of course due to Matthew’s adoption of the current Greek word.”

2. Data and Sources:

“The last of the 4 terms above brings the apostolic doctrine of the Parousia into connection with the eschatology (Messianic or otherwise) of the Old Testament and of the intermediate writings. But the connection is far closer than that supplied by this single term only, for newly every feature in the apostolic doctrine can be paralleled directly from the Jewish sources. The following summary does not begin to give complete references to even such Jewish material as is extant, but enough is presented to show how closely allied are the eschatologies of Judaism and of early Christianity.”

“The end is not to be expected instantly. There are still signs to come to pass (2 Thessalonians 2:3), and in especial the determined number of martyrs must be filled up (Revelation 6:11; compare 2 Esdras 4:35,36). There is need of patience (James 5:7, etc.; compare 2 Esdras 4:34; Baruch 83:4). But it is at hand (1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 1:3; 22:10; compare 2 Esdras 14:17). “Yet a little while” (Hebrews 10:37), “The night is far spent” (Romans 13:12), “The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5). “We that are alive” expect to see it (1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 15:51; compare Baruch 76:5); the time is shortened henceforth (1 Corinthians 7:29; compare Baruch 20:1; 2 Esdras 4:26, and the commentaries on 1 Corinthians). Indeed, there is hardly time for repentance even (Revelation 22:11, ironical), certainly there is no time left for self-indulgence (1 Thessalonians 5:3; 1 Peter 4:2; 2 Peter 3:11; Revelation 3:3; compare Baruch 83:5), and watchfulness is urgently demanded (1 Thessalonians 5:6; Revelation 3:3).”

“An outpouring of the Spirit is a sign of the end (Acts 2:17,18; compare Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Levi 18:11; Sib Or 4:46, always after the consummation in the Jewish sources). But the world is growing steadily worse, for the godly and intense trials are coming (passim), although those especially favored may be spared suffering (Revelation 3:10; compare Baruch 29:2). This is the beginning of Judgment (1 Peter 4:17; compare Enoch 99:10). Iniquity increases and false teachers are multiplied (Jude 1:18; 2 Peter 3:3; 2 Timothy 3:13; compare Enoch 80:7; Baruch 70:5; 2 Esdras 5:9,10). Above all there is to be an outburst of diabolic malevolence in the antichrist (1John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10; Revelation 19:19; compare Baruch 36:8-10; Sib Or 3:63-70, and see ANTICHRIST), who will gather all nations to his ensign (Revelation 19:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:10 compare 2 Esdras 13:5; Enoch 56). Plagues fall upon men (Rev, passim; compare especially Philo, Execr.), and natural portents occur (Acts 2:19,20; Rev, passim; compare 2 Esdras 5:4,5; Enoch 80:5-8). But the conversion of the Jews (Romans 11:26) is brought about by these plagues (Revelation 11:13; in the Jewish sources, naturally, conversion of Gentiles, as in Sib Or 3:616-623; Enoch 10:21). Then Christ is manifested and Antichrist is slain or captured (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20; compare 2 Esdras 13:10,11). In Revelation 20:3 the Millennium follows (compare 2 Esdras 7:28; 12; 34; Baruch 40:3, and often in rabbinical literature; the millennium in Slavic Enoch, chapter 33, is of very dubious existence), but other traces of millennial doctrine in the New Testament are of the vaguest (compare the commentaries to 1 Corinthians 15:24, for instance, especially Schmiedel, J. Weiss, and Lietzmann, and see MILLENNIUM). The general resurrection follows (see RESURRECTION for details).”

“The Father holds the Judgment in Hebrews 10:30; 12:23; 13:4; James 4:11,12; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 14:7; 20:11, and probably in Jude 1:14,15. Christ is Judge in Acts 10:42; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1. The two concepts are interwoven in Romans 14:9,10. God mediates judgment through Christ in Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16, and probably in Romans 2:2-6; 3:6. In 2 Thessalonians Christ appears as the executor of punishment. For similar uncertainties in the Jewish schemes, compare, for instance, 2 Esdras 7:33 and Enoch 45:3. For the fate of the wicked see ESCHATOLOGY; HELL; Paul, rather curiously, has very little to say about this (Romans 2:3; 1 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9). Then all Nature is renewed (Romans 8:21; Enoch 45:4,5) or completely destroyed (1 Corinthians 7:31; Hebrews 12:27; Revelation 21:1; compare Enoch 1:6; 2 Esdras 7:30); by fire in 2 Peter 3:10 (compare Sib Or 4:172-177), so as to leave only the eternal verities (Hebrews 12:27; compare 2 Esdras 7:30(?)), or to be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1; compare Slavic Enoch 33:1-2). And the righteous receive the New Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 3:12; 21:2,10; compare Baruch 4:2-6; 2 Esdras 7:26).”

3. Consistency:

“It is of course possible, as in the older works on dogmatics, to reconcile the slight divergences of the above details and to fit them all into a single scheme. But the propriety of such an undertaking is more than dubious, for the traditional nature of these details is abundantly clear–a tradition that is not due solely to the fact that the Christian and the Jewish schemes have a common Old Testament basis. That the Jewish writers realized that the eschatological details were merely symbolic is made obvious by the contradictions that every apocalypse contains–the contradictions that are the despair of the beginner in apocalyptics. No writer seems to have thought it worthwhile to reconcile his details, for they were purely figures of dimly comprehended forces. And the Christian symbolism must be interpreted on the same principle. No greater injustice, for instance, could be done Paul’s thought than to suppose he would have been in the least disturbed by John’s interpretation of the Antichrist as many persons and all of them ordinary human beings (1John 2:18,19).”

4. Meaning of the Symbolism:

“The symbolism, then, in which the Parousia is described was simply that held by the apostles in their pre-Christian days. This symbolism, to be sure, has been thoroughly purified from such puerilities as the feast on Leviathan and Behemoth of Baruch 29, or the “thousand children” of Enoch 10:17, a fact all the more remarkable as 2nd-century Christianity has enough of this and to spare (e.g. Irenaeus, v.33). What is more important is that the symbolism of the Parousia is simply in the Jewish sources the symbolism of the coming of the Messiah (or of God in such schemes as have no Messiah). Now it is to be observed that among the apostles the Kingdom of God is almost uniformly regarded as a future quantity (1 Corinthians 6:9,10; 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:1,18; 2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 11:15; 12:10), with a definitely present idea only in Colossians 1:13. Remembering again that the term “Messiah” means simply “the Bringer of the Kingdom,” the case becomes entirely clear. No apostle, of course, ever thought of Christ as anything but the Messiah. But neither did they think of His Messianic work as completed, or, if the most exact terminology be pressed, of the strict Messianic work as done at all. Even the Atonement belonged to the preliminary acts, viewed perhaps somewhat as Enoch 39:6 views the preexistent Messiah’s residence among the “church expectant.” This could come to pass more readily as the traditions generally were silent as to what the Messiah was to do before He brought the Kingdom, while they all agreed that He was not to be created only at that moment. Into this blank, especially with the aid of Isaiah 53, etc., our Lord’s earthly life and Passion fitted naturally, leaving the fact of His Second Coming to be identified with the coming of the Messiah as originally conceived.”

II. The Teaching of Jesus.

1. Critical Problems:

“It will be found helpful, in studying the bitter controversies that have raged around Christ’s teaching about the future, to remember that the apostolic idea of the word “Messiah” is the only definition that the word has; that, for instance, “Messiah” and “Saviour of the world” are not quite convertible terms, or that a redefinition of the Messiah as a moral teacher or an expounder of the will of God does not rest on “spiritualizing” of the term, but on a destruction of it in favor of “prophet.” Now the three expressions, “Messianic work,” “coming of the Kingdom,” and “Parousia” are only three titles for one and the same thing, while the addition of “Son of Man” to them merely involves their being taken in the most transcendental form possible. In fact, this is the state of affairs found in the Synoptists. Christ predicts the coming of the Kingdom. He claims the title of its king (or Regent under the Father). The realization of this expectation He placed on the other side of the grave, i.e. in a glorified state. And in connection with this evidence we find His use of the title Son of Man. From all this the doctrine of the Parousia follows immediately, even apart from the passages in which the regular apocalyptic symbolism is used. The contention may be made that this symbolism in the Gospels has been drawn out of other sources by the evangelists (the so-called “Little Apocalypse” of Mark 13:7-9,14-20,24-27,30-31 is the usual point of attack), but, even if the contention could be made out (and agreement in this regard is anything but attained), no really vital part of the case would be touched. Of course, it is possible to begin with the a priori assumption that “no sane man could conceive of himself as an apocalyptic being walking the earth incognito,” and to refer to later tradition everything in the Gospels that contradicts this assumption. But then there are difficulties. The various concepts involved are mentioned directly so often that the number of passages to be removed grows alarmingly large. Then the concepts interlock in such a way as to present a remarkably firm resistance to the critical knife; the picture is much too consistent for an artificial product. Thus, there are a number of indirect references (the title on the Cross, the “Palm-Sunday” procession, etc.) that contradict all we know of later growths. And, finally, the most undeterred critic finds himself confronted with a last stubborn difficulty, the unwavering conviction of the earliest church that Christ made the eschatological claims. It is conceivable that the apostles may have misunderstood Christ in other matters, but an error in this central point of all (as the apostles appraised things) is hardly in the realms of critical possibility. On the whole, such an attempt to force a way through the evidence of the documents would seem something surprisingly like the violence done to history by the most perverse of the older dogmatists.”

2. Summary:

“The number of relevant passages involved is so large and the critical problems so intricate that any detailed discussion is prohibited here. Moreover, the symbolism presents nothing novel to the student familiar with the usual schemes. Forces of evil increase in the world, the state of the righteous grows harder, distress and natural portents follow, at the climax Christ appears suddenly with His angels, bringing the Kingdom of God, gathers the elect into the Kingdom, and dismisses the wicked into outer darkness (or fire). The Father is the Judge in Matthew 10:32,33, but the Son in the parallel Luke 12:8,9, and in Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 25:32; probably in Matthew 24:50 parallel Luke 12:46; Mark 8:38 and its parallel Luke 9:26 are uncertain. At all events, the eternal destiny of each man depends on Christ’s attitude, possibly with the Father’s (invariable) ratification considered.”

3. Fall of Jerusalem:

“How far Christ connected the Parousia and the fall of Jerusalem, it is not easy to say. Various sayings of Christ about the future were certainly grouped by the evangelists; compare Matthew 24 with Mark 13 and Luke 17:20-37; or Luke 17:31 with Mark 13:15,16 (noting the inappropriateness of Luke 17:31 in its present context). The critical discussions of Mark 13 are familiar and those of Luke 21 (a still more complex problem) only less so. Remembering what the fall of Jerusalem or its immediate prospect would have meant to the apostles, the tendency to group the statements of Christ will be realized. Consequently, not too much stress should be laid on the connection of this with the Parousia, and in no case can the fall of Jerusalem be considered to exhaust the meaning of the Parousia.”

4. Time:

“The most debated question is that of the time of the Parousia. Here Mark 13:30 parallel Luke 21:32 parallel Matthew 24:34 place it within Christ’s generation, Mark 9:1 parallel Luke 9:27 parallel Matthew 16:28 within the lifetime of some of His hearers, Matthew 10:23 before all the cities of Judea are closed to Christ’s apostles. (Only the first of these contains any reference to the fall of Jerusalem.) Then there is “ye shall see” of Mark 14:62; Luke 13:35 parallel Matthew 23:39. Agreeing with this are the exhortations to watchfulness (Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12:40 parallel Matthew 24:44, etc., with many parables, such as the Ten Virgins). Now Mark 13:32 parallel Matthew 24:36 do not quite contradict this, for knowledge of the generation is quite consistent with ignorance of the day and hour; “It will be within your generation, but nothing more can be told you, so watch!” The real difficulty lies in Mark 13:10 parallel Matthew 24:14, the necessity of all Gentiles hearing the gospel (Luke 21:24 is hardly relevant). To leave the question here, as most conservative scholars do, is unsatisfactory, for Mark 13:10 is of no deep value for apologetic service and this value is far outweighed by the real contradiction with the other passages. The key, probably, lies in Matthew 10:18, from which Mark 13:10 differs only in insisting on all Gentiles, perhaps with the apostles’ thought that “world” and “Roman Empire” were practically coextensive. With this assumption the data yield a uniform result.”

III. John’s Evaluation.

1. Solution of Problem:

“It appears, then, that Christ predicted that shortly after His death an event would occur of so transcendental a nature that it could be expressed only in the terms of the fullest eschatological symbolism. John has a clear interpretation of this. In place of the long Parousia discourses in the Synoptists, we have, in the corresponding part of the Fourth Gospel, John 13-17, dealing not only with the future in general but concretely with Christ’s coming and the Judgment. Christ indeed came to His own (John 14:18), and not He only but the Spirit also (14:16), and even the Father (14:23). When the disciples are so equipped, their presence in the world subjects the world to a continual sifting process of judgment (16:11). The fate of men by this process is to be eternally fixed (3:18), while the disciples newly made are assured that they have already entered into their eternal condition of blessedness (11:25,26; 5:24; 10:28; 17:2,3). Equally directly the presence of Christ is conceived in Revelation 3:20. So in Paul, the glorified Christ has returned to His own to dwell in them (Romans 8:9,10, etc.), uniting them into a body vitally connected with Him (Colossians 1:18), so supernatural that it is the teacher of `angels’ (Ephesians 3:10), a body whose members are already in the Kingdom (Colossians 1:13), who even sit already in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). The same thought is found in such synoptic passages (Luke 7:28 parallel Matthew 11:11; Luke 17:21(?); see KINGDOM OF GOD) as represent the Kingdom as present. Already the eschatological promises were realized in a small group of men, even though they still lacked the transforming influence of the Spirit. Compare the continuous coming of Matthew 26:64 (Luke 22:69).”

“It is on these lines of the church as a supernatural quantity (of course not to be confused with any particular denomination) that the immediate realization of the Parousia promises is to be sought. Into human history has been “injected” a supernatural quantity, through which a Divine Head works, whose reaction on men settles their eternal destiny, and within which the life of heaven is begun definitely.”

2. The Church a Divine Quantity:

“The force in this body is felt at the crises of human history, perhaps especially after the catastrophe that destroyed Jerusalem and set Christianity free from the swaddling clothes of the primitive community. This conception of the church as a divine quantity, as, so to speak, a part of heaven extended into earth, is faithful to the essentials of the predictions. Nor is it a rationalization of them, if the idea of the church itself be not rationalized. With this conception all realms of Christian activity take on a transcendental significance, both in life and (especially) death, giving to the individual the confidence that he is building better than he knows, for even the apostles could not realize the full significance of what they were doing. Generally speaking, the details in the symbolism must not be pressed. The purpose of revelation is to minister to life, not to curiosity, and, in teaching of the future, Christ simply taught with the formal language of the schools of the day, with the one change that in the supernatural process He Himself was to be the central figure. Still, the end is not yet. “The hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice” (John 5:28; compare John 6:40; 21:23; 1 John 2:28). In Christ human destiny is drawing to a climax that can be expressed only in spiritual terms that transcend our conceptions.”



“This is overwhelming. For the presuppositions, GJV4 (HJP is antiquated); Volz, Judische Eschatologie; Bousset, Religion des Judentums (2). General discussions:”

“Mathews, The Messianic Hope in the New Testament (the best in English); Sanday, The Life of Christ in Recent Research; Holtzmann, Das messianische Bewusstein Jesu (a classic); von Dobschiitz, The Eschatology of the Gospels (popular, but very sound). Eschatological extreme: Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (Von Reimarus zu Wrede), is quite indispensable; Tyrrell, Christianity at the Cross Roads (perverse, but valuable in parts); Loisy, Gospel and the Church (compare his Evangiles synoptiques). Anti-eschatological: Sharman, The Teaching of Jesus about the Future (minute criticism, inadequate premises, some astounding exegesis); Bacon, The Beginnings of Gospel Story (based on Wellhausen). For the older literature see Schweitzer, Sanday, Holtzmann, as above, and compare Fairweather, The Background of the Gospels, and Brown, “Parousia,” in HDB, III. Burton Scott Easton” (3)

Other similar words or phrases used in Scripture:

What is the meaning of Epiphaneia?

The name Epiphany comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “appearance” or “manifestation,” and refers to the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world.

What is the meaning of Apocalypse?

Apocalypse comes from Greek apokálypsis “uncovering,” a derivative of the verb apokalýptein “to take the cover off,” a compound whose first element is the preposition and prefix apó, apo- “off, away.”

In closing:

What Is the Meaning of Parousia?

“The Coming of the Lord Is “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” a reference to the Second Coming, that is, an event that is still in our future, or is it a coming in judgment upon first-century Jerusalem that would be the event to bring the “”last days” to a close (2 Thess. 2: l)?7 The word translated “coming” in verse 1 is the Greek word parousia, best translated as “presence” in other contexts (2 Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:12). “The term itself does not mean ‘return’ or ‘second’ coming; it simply means ‘arrival’ or ‘presence.’ Applying it to Christ’s coming from heaven in a sense changes what the word connotes.” (4)

The word can refer to the second coming of the Lord but essentially means “arrival” or “presence.” If the study of preterist interpretation is undertaken, the student of Scripture will see the value of this distinction of “presence.”

Recommended Reading, Christian Eschatology:

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation

Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, TX

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

He Shall Have Dominion

Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, TX

Charles E. Hill

Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Future Hope in Early Christianity

Clarendon Press, Clarendon Press, Oxford

Oswald T. Allis

Prophecy And The Church

Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

Gary DeMar

Last Days Madness

American Vision, Powder Springs, Georgia

Keith A. Mathison

Postmillennialism An eschatology of Hope

Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

R. C. Sproul

The Last Days According To Jesus

Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI

Greg L. Bahnsen

Victory In Jesus: The Bright Hope of Postmillennialism

Covenant Media Press, Tyler, TX

“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.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 40-41.

2.      J. H. Thayer, The New Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers), p. 490-491. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘PAROUSIA,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2249-2250.

3.      Ben Witherington II l, Jesus, Paul and the End of the World: A Comparative Study in New Testament Eschatology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 152.

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

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What is an Abomination?

What is an Abomination?                                                                                by Jack Kettler

In this study, the word abomination will be considered as to its meaning, along with its Old and New Testaments usage and the Hebrew and Greek word origins. A commentary on the Old Testament and a New Testament commentary will be consulted. A concise overview of the word abomination will come from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Finally, the study will conclude with a definition from two sources, one contemporary, and the other classic.   

“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination (תּוֹעֲבַ֣ת) to the LORD, But the words of the pure are pleasant.” (Proverbs 15:26)

Strong’s Lexicon:


תּוֹעֲבַ֣ת (tō·w·‘ă·ḇaṯ)

Noun – feminine singular construct

Strong’s Hebrew 8441: 1) a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable 1a) in ritual sense (of unclean food, idols, mixed marriages) 1b) in ethical sense (of wickedness etc.)”

From the Pulpit Commentary on Proverbs 15:26:

“Verse 26. – The thoughts of the wicked (or, evil devices) are an abomination to the Lord. Although the Decalogue, by forbidding coveting, showed that God’s Law touched the thought of the heart as well as the outward action, the idea here refers to wicked plans or designs, rather than emphatically to the secret movements of the mind. These have been noticed in ver. 11. But the words of the pure are pleasant words; literally, pure are words of pleasantness; i.e. words of soothing, comforting tone are, not an abomination to the Lord, as are the devices of the wicked, but they are pure in a ceremonial sense, as it were, a pure and acceptable offering. Revised Version, pleasant words are pure. Vulgate, “Speech pure and pleasant is approved by him” – which is a paraphrase of the clause. Septuagint, “The words of the pure are honoured (σεμναί).” Proverbs 15:26” (1)

“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination (βδέλυγμα) in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)

Strong’s Lexicon:

“[is] detestable

βδέλυγμα (bdelygma)

Noun – Nominative Neuter Singular

Strong’s Greek 946: An abominable thing, an accursed thing. From bdelusso; a detestation, i.e. idolatry.”

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Luke 16:15:

“(15) Ye are they which justify yourselves before men. — The character described is portrayed afterwards more fully in the parable of Luke 18:9-14. The word there used, “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other,” is obviously a reference to what is reported here. They forgot, in their self-righteousness and self-vindication, that they stood before God as the Searcher of all hearts.

That which is highly esteemed among men . . .—Literally, that which is high, or lifted up, among men. The word is at once wider and more vivid than the English.

Abomination . . .—The word is the same as in “the abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15), that which causes physically nausea and loathing. The word seems chosen as the expression of a divine scorn and indignation, which answered, in part, to their “derision,” and was its natural result. (Comp. the bold language of Psalm 2:4, Proverbs 1:26, Revelation 3:16.)” (2)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, a summary of abomination:


a-bom-i-na’-shun (piggul, to`ebhah, sheqets (shiqquts)): Three distinct Hebrew words are rendered in the English Bible by “abomination,” or “abominable thing,” referring (except in Genesis 43:32; Genesis 46:34) to things or practices abhorrent to Yahweh, and opposed to the ritual or moral requirements of His religion. It would be well if these words could be distinguished in translation, as they denote different degrees of abhorrence or loathsomeness.”

“The word most used for this idea by the Hebrews and indicating the highest degree of abomination is to`ebhah, meaning primarily that which offends the religious sense of a people. When it is said, for example, “The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians,” this is the word used; the significance being that the Hebrews were repugnant to the Egyptians as foreigners, as of an inferior caste, and especially as shepherds (Genesis 46:34). The feeling of the Egyptians for the Greeks was likewise one of repugnance. Herodotus (ii.41) says the Egyptians would not kiss a Greek on the mouth, or use his dish, or taste meat cut with the knife of a Greek.”

“Among the objects described in the Old Testament as “abominations” in this sense are heathen gods, such as Ashtoreth (Astarte), Chemosh, Milcom, the “abominations” of the Zidonians (Phoenicians), Moabites, and Ammonites, respectively (2 Kings 23:13), and everything connected with the worship of such gods. When Pharaoh, remonstrating against the departure of the children of Israel, exhorted them to offer sacrifices to their God in Egypt, Moses said: “Shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians (i.e. the animals worshipped by them which were taboo, to`ebhah, to the Israelites) before their eyes, and will they not stone us?” (Exodus 8:26).”

“It is to be noted that, not only the heathen idol itself, but anything offered to or associated with the idol, all the paraphernalia of the forbidden cult, was called an “abomination,” for it “is an abomination to Yahweh thy God” (Deuteronomy 7:25, 26). The Deuteronomic writer here adds, in terms quite significant of the point of view and the spirit of the whole law: `Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thy house and thus become a thing set apart (cherem = tabooed) like unto it; thou shalt utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is a thing set apart’ (tabooed). To`ebhah is even used as synonymous with “idol” or heathen deity, as in Isaiah 44:19 Deuteronomy 32:16 2 Kings 23:13; and especially Exodus 8:22.”

“Everything akin to magic or divination is likewise an abomination to`ebhah; as are sexual transgressions (Deuteronomy 22:5; Deuteronomy 23:18; Deuteronomy 24:4), especially incest and other unnatural offenses: “For all these abominations have the men of the land done, that were before you” (Leviticus 18:27; compare Ezekiel 8:15). It is to be noted, however, that the word takes on in the later usage a higher ethical and spiritual meaning: as where “divers measures, a great and a small,” are forbidden (Deuteronomy 25:14-16); and in Proverbs where “lying lips” (Proverbs 12:22), “the proud in heart” (Proverbs 16:5), “the way of the wicked” (Proverbs 15:9), “evil devices” (Proverbs 15:26), and “he that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the righteous” (Proverbs 17:15), are said to be an abomination in God’s sight. At last prophet and sage are found to unite in declaring that any sacrifice, however free from physical blemish, if offered without purity of motive, is an abomination: `Bring no more an oblation of falsehood-an incense of abomination it is to me’ (Isaiah 1:13; compare Jeremiah 7:10). “The sacrifice of the wicked” and the prayer of him “that turneth away his ear from hearing the law,” are equally an abomination (see Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 21:27; Proverbs 28:9).”

“Another word rendered “abomination” in the King James Version is sheqets or shiqquts. It expresses generally a somewhat less degree of horror or religious aversion than [to`ebhah], but sometimes seems to stand about on a level with it in meaning. In Deuteronomy 14:3, for example, we have the command, “Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing,” as introductory to the laws prohibiting the use of the unclean animals (see CLEAN; UNCLEANNESS), and the word there used is [to`ebhah]. But in Leviticus 11:10-13, 20, 23, 41, 42, Isaiah 66:17; and in Ezekiel 8:10 sheqets is the word used and likewise applied to the prohibited animals; as also in Leviticus 11:43 sheqets is used when it is commanded, “Ye shall not make yourselves abominable.” Then sheqets is often used parallel to or together with to`ebhah of that which should be held as detestable, as for instance, of idols and idolatrous practices (see especially Deuteronomy 29:17 Hosea 9:10 Jeremiah 4:1; Jeremiah 13:27; Jeremiah 16:18 Ezekiel 11:18-21; Ezekiel 20:7, 8). It is used exactly as [to`ebhah] is used as applied to Milcom, the god of the Ammonites, which is spoken of as the detestable thing sheqets of the Ammonites (1 Kings 11:5). Still even in such cases to`ebhah seems to be the stronger word and to express that which is in the highest degree abhorrent.”

“The other word used to express a somewhat kindred idea of abhorrence and translated “abomination” in the King James Version is piggul; but it is used in the Hebrew Bible only of sacrificial flesh that has become stale, putrid, tainted (see Leviticus 7:18; Leviticus 19:7 Ezekiel 4:14 Isaiah 65:4). Driver maintains that it occurs only as a “technical term for such state sacrificial flesh as has not been eaten within the prescribed time,” and, accordingly, he would everywhere render it specifically “refuse meat.” Compare lechem megho’al, “the loaths ome bread” (from ga’al, “to loathe”) Malachi 1:7. A chief interest in the subject for Christians grows out of the use of the term in the expression “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14), which see.”

See also ABHOR.


“Commentators at the place Rabbinical literature in point. Driver; Weiss; Gratz, Gesch. der Juden, IV, note 15. George B. Eager” (3)

In conclusion:

How is abomination defined?

“It is mainly used to denote idolatry; and in many other cases it refers to inherently evil things such as illicit sex, lying, murder, deceit, etc.; and for unclean foods.” – Abomination (Bible) – Wikipedia

KJV Dictionary Definition: abominable:

“ABOM’INABLE, a. See Abominate.

1. Very hateful; detestable; lothesome.

2. This word is applicable to whatever is odious to the mind or offensive to the senses.

3. Unclean. Levit. vli.


“ABOM’INABLENESS, n. The quality or state of being very odious; hatefulness.



1. Very odiously; detestably; sinfully. 1Kings xxi.

2. In vulgar language, extremely, excessively.


“ABOM’INATE, v.t. L. abomino, supposed to be formed by ab and omen; to deprecate as ominous; may the Gods avert the evil.

To hate extremely; to abhor; to detest


“ABOM’INATED, pp. Hated utterly, detested; abhorred.


“ABOM’INATING, ppr. Abhorring; hating extremely.



1. Extreme hatred; detestation.

2. The object of detestation, a common signification in scripture.

The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. Prov. xv.

3. Hence, defilement, pollution, in a physical sense, or evil doctrines and practices, which are moral defilements, idols and idolatry, are called abominations. The Jews were an abomination to the Egyptians; and the sacred animals of the Egyptians were an abomination to the Jews. The Roman army is called the abomination of desolation. Mat. 24:13. In short, whatever is an object of extreme hatred, is called an abomination.” (4)

“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, Proverbs, Vol. 9., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 295.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Luke, Vol.6, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 322.

3.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘ABOMINATIO,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 15-16.

4.      Definitions from Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

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

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A primer regarding a doctrinal debate among Reformation Churches

A primer regarding a doctrinal debate among Reformation Churches    by Jack Kettler

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)

Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament:

“16 Let the ho word logos of ho Christ Christos dwell enoikeō in en you hymeis richly plousiōs as you teach didaskō and kai admonish noutheteō one heautou another with en all pas wisdom sophia by means of psalms psalmos, hymns hymnos, and spiritual pneumatikos songs ōdē, singing adō with en · ho gratitude charis in en · ho your hymeis heart kardia to ho God theos.”

Does Colossians 3:16 support the use of uninspired hymns? As will be seen, the Bible contains examples of triadic expressions or synonymous usages that will help answer this question. For instance, in Exodus 34:7, one reads about iniquity, transgression, and sin. These three terms are synonymous or fundamentally the same. Said another way, a word has the same or practically the same meaning as another word in the identical language. A triadic repetition of language can be used for emphasis.

Examples of synonymous threefold repetition in Scripture:

·         Commandments, statutes, and laws (Gen. 26:5; c.f. Deut. 30:16)

·         Iniquity, transgression, and sin (Ex. 34:7)

·         Statutes, judgments, and laws (Lev. 26:46)

·         Commandments, statutes, and judgments (Deut 5:31; 6:1)

·         Anger, wrath, and indignation (Psa. 78:49)

·         Heart, soul, and mind (Mat. 22:37; c.f. Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27)

·         Miracles, wonders, and signs (Acts 2:22)

·         Good, acceptable, and perfect (Rom. 12:2)

·         Signs, wonders, and mighty deeds (2 Cor. 12:12)

·         Supplications, prayers, intercessions (1 Tim. 2:1)

The following part of the text is where disagreements arise:

Psalms (Psalmos), hymns (Humnos), and spiritual songs (Odee) (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)

The promoters of uninspired hymns only see Psalmos and not Humnos and Odee referringto the Psalms in Paul’s use of the terms. In this view, hymns and songs can be understood as being of human composition. Does this hold up?

Consider the following citation where these three terms are used in the book of Psalms.  

Michael Bushell gives more specifics on the use of the three terms throughout Scripture:

Psalmos…occurs some 87 times in the Septuagint, some 78 of which are in the Psalms themselves, and 67 times in the psalm titles. It also forms the title to the Greek version of the psalter…. Humnos…occurs some 17 times in the Septuagint, 13 of which are in the Psalms, six times in the titles. In 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Chronicles, and Nehemiah there are some 16 examples in which the Psalms are called ‘hymns’ (humnoi) or ‘songs’ (odai) and the singing of them is called ‘hymning’ (humneohumnodeohumnesis) …. Odee…occurs some 80 times in the Septuagint, 45 of which are in the Psalms, 36 in the Psalm titles… In twelve Psalm titles we find both ‘psalm’ and ‘song’; and, in two others we find ‘psalm’ and ‘hymn.’ Psalm seventy-six is designated ‘psalm, hymn and song.’ And at the end of the first seventy two psalms we read ‘the hymns of David the son of Jesse are ended’ (Ps. 72:20).” (1)


The texts where the terms “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual-songs” from Ephesians and Colossians appear are not a problem for the Psalm-Singing churches. The words “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” are used interchangeably in the Psalms, referring to the Psalms themselves. Someone may ask, why Paul didn’t use one word instead of three. That is because, in the Psalms themselves, these three words appear numerous times interchangeable. Moreover, the triadic threefold repetition is for emphasis. As an aside, and noteworthy is how Paul’s triadic language in Ephesians and Colossians parallels the New Testament formulation of the Trinity, God as Father, the Son, and the Spirit.


It has been said that one is not singing the Psalms unless one is singing them in the original Hebrew. Really? An argument about singing in Hebrew sounds similar to the Muslims saying that one is not reading the Koran unless it is read in Arabic. Furthermore, this assertion does not address the above argument from Bushell.  


Is the pastor reading the Word of God unless it is done in the original language? If not, how can it be justified not to read the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek? An argument like this fails for lack of consistency.

Does exclusive psalmody create divisions in Christ’s Church? Does the practice of pedo-baptism? Does the observance of the regulative principle of worship? Does the preaching of the Doctrines of Grace create divisions? The first question in this series of questions is not a refutation of exclusive Psalm-singing.     

Are the Psalm-Singing churches in sin by using only the Psalms? This writer is still waiting for a reply to this question. Are Psalm singing churches missing out? Missing out on what is a retort. Is there something superior to the Psalms? What would that be? What songbook did Jesus use? The answer is the Psalms. Should believers follow the example of our Lord? If not, why not? Nothing in the New Testament sets aside the Psalms as a songbook for Christ’s Church.

What about singing other portions of the Scriptures? While it would not be wrong per se, there is no command in Scripture to do so, like in Ephesians 5:19; and Colossians 3:16. The question about singing other portions of Scripture does not invalidate following Christ’s example of singing the Psalms.

The preeminence of the King in Israel’s worship of God was an important practice. Not only did David direct the people singing songs in worship, but this pattern also applies to David’s Greater Son, who is the Lord. Jesus is our King and is seated at the right hand of the Father. The apostle Paul makes the statement that during worship, believers are seated with Christ in heaven, specifically; “and made us sit together in heavenly places” Ephesians 2:6. Jesus, our King, is enthroned at the Father’s right hand, and we, through our union with Him, are led in heavenly worship by the King Jesus; “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” Hebrews 2:12.

Jesus is our Kingly choirmaster in the heavenly and leads us in singing praises to the Father. The Psalms are profitable for doctrine, but they also testify of Christ. As said, they are, in fact, the songbook Jesus used to worship the Father. The Psalms were composed for Jesus as our perfect King and song leader.

The issue is Biblical sufficiency:

Reformed Churches are committed to the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. The Psalms are Scripture. Therefore, the Psalms are sufficient. A conclusion can be drawn, and since the Psalms are Scripture and sufficient, the Psalm singing churches are not missing out. Moreover, there is no command to sing uninspired songs in worship. Would it be permissible to preach from uninspired sources? Consistency is helpful.  

Without a doubt, there have been some extraordinary human songs composed. Human-composed songs can be used outside of worship, for example, Christmas caroling. Christmas caroling would be similar to street preaching. When it comes to human-composed hymns, one must always evaluate if the human composition is faithful to Scripture. Many modern human compositions are used in worship; all that seemingly matters is if it flows with the instrumentation and the lines can be repeated several times for emotional emphasis. Some of the modern compositions are so nebulous that non-Christian religions could use them. 

The reader is urged to study the topic of this debate by using Michael Bushell’s monumental work titled the Songs of Zion.

Bushell asks, what music does God want His people to sing in worship?

He asks:

“The question provokes strong emotions, but the answer must be solely based on Scripture. We live in a culture where personal preference dominates, where men recoil from the full display of God’s mercy and justice, and where the winds of fancy blow about a church ignorant of her history. This book calls the reader to prostrate himself before a thrice holy God, to echo His tender and fearsome Words in song, and to return to the historical worship practice of the Christian church.”     

The publisher writes:

“The most comprehensive contemporary work on exclusive psalmody now interacts with more recent scholarship, answering those who critique singing only psalms in worship. Like previous editions, it examines the sufficiency and propriety of the Psalter, the testimony of Scripture, the regulative principle, and the testimony of history. In the fourth edition there is a new Bibliography and new subject and author indices.”

Presbyterian denominations practicing exclusive psalmody:

    American Presbyterian Church

    Associated Presbyterian Churches

    Australian Free Church

    Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Australia

    Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)

    Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland

    Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia

    Presbyterian Reformed Church

    Reformation Presbyterian Church, Australian Presbytery

    Reformed Presbyterian churches

    Reformed Presbyterian Church of Australia

    Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland

    Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America

    Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland

    Reformed Presbyterian Church of Malawi

    Southern Presbyterian Church in Australia

    Westminster Presbyterian Church in the United States

    Igreja Puritana Reformada no Brasil (Puritan Reformed Church in Brazil)

    Pilgrim Covenant Church (Singapore)

Dutch Reformed denominations practicing exclusive psalmody:

    Free Reformed Churches of North America

    Gereja Jemaat Protestan di Indonesia

    Heritage Reformed Congregations

    Netherlands Reformed Congregations

    Nigeria Reformed Church

    Old-Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands (Oud Gereformeerde Gemeenten in Nederland)

    Old-Reformed Congregations (unconnected) (Oud Gereformeerde Gemeenten buiten verband)

    Reformed Congregations (Gereformeerde Gemeenten)

    Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands (Gereformeerde Gemeenten in Nederland)

    Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands (unconnected) (Gereformeerde Gemeenten in Nederland (buiten verband))

    Reformed Congregations in North America

    Restored Reformed Church (Hersteld Hervormde Kerk) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reformation leader John Calvin on Psalm singing:

“Now what Saint Augustine says is true, that no one is able to sing things worthy of God unless he has received them from Him. Wherefore, when we have looked thoroughly everywhere and searched high and low, we shall find no better songs nor more appropriate to the purpose than the Psalms of David which the Holy Spirit made and spoke through him. And furthermore, when we sing them, we are certain that God puts the words in our mouths, as if He Himself were singing in us to exalt His glory.” – John Calvin, Epistle to the Reader, Genevan Psalter (1542)

A noteworthy observation:

“Wherever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian Church. With its recovery will come unsuspected power.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Although not dealing with the subject matter of the above primer, Bonhoeffer’s Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible is a must-read. 

Bonhoeffer’s publisher writes:

“Jesus died with a psalm on his lips. For millennia, humans have been shaped by the Psalms. And before the Nazis banned him from publishing, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer published this book on the Psalms.”

“What comfort is found in the Psalter? What praise, and what challenge? What threat? In the pages of Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, discover the richness this book of Scripture held for Bonhoeffer, and learn to pray psalms along with Christ.”

“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.      Michael BushellSongs of Zion, (Norfolk Press, Norfolk Virginia), pp. 217-218.

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

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What does the Apostle Paul mean by dogs in Philippians 3:2? 

What does the Apostle Paul mean by dogs in Philippians 3:2?                      by Jack Kettler

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.” (Philippians 3:2-4)

The Jews frequently called the Gentiles dogs, primarily due to their ceremonial uncleanness. Does Paul affirm or repudiate this classification?

Who are “the dogs” and “the concision” mentioned in the Philippians passage?

Two commentary entries will be consulted to answer these two questions.

First, Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:

“(2) Beware of (the) dogs. — In Revelation 22:15 “the dogs” excluded from the heavenly Jerusalem seem to be those who are impure. In that sense the Jews applied the word to the heathen, as our Lord, for a moment appearing to follow the Jewish usage, does to the Syro-Phœnician woman in Matthew 15:26. But here the context appropriates the word to the Judaising party, who claimed special purity, ceremonial and moral, and who probably were not characterised by peculiar impurity—such as, indeed, below (Philippians 3:17-21) would seem rather to attach to the Antinomian party, probably the extreme on the other side. Chrysostom’s hint that the Apostle means to retort the name upon them, as now by their own wilful apostasy occupying the place outside the spiritual Israel which once belonged to the despised Gentiles, is probably right. Yet perhaps there may be some allusion to the dogs, not as unclean, but as, especially in their half-wild state in the East, snarling and savage, driving off as interlopers all who approach what they consider their ground. Nothing could better describe the narrow Judaising spirit.”

“Of evil workers. — Comp. 2Corinthians 11:13, describing the Judaisers as “deceitful workers.” Here the idea is of their energy in work, but work for evil.”

“The concision. — By an ironical play upon words St. Paul declares his refusal to call the circumcision, on which the Judaisers prided themselves, by that time-honoured name; for “we,” he says, “are the true circumcision,” the true Israel of the new covenant. In Ephesians 2:11 (where see Note) he had denoted it as the “so-called circumcision in the flesh made by hands.” Here he speaks more strongly, and calls it a “concision,” a mere outward mutilation, no longer, as it had been, a “seal” of the covenant (Romans 4:11). There is a still more startling attack on the advocates of circumcision in Galatians 5:12 (where see Note).” (1)

Second, the Pulpit Commentary:

“Verse 2. – Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. The connection is, as given in ver. 3, Rejoice in the Lord, not in the flesh; have confidence in him, not in the ceremonies of the Jewish Law. Compare the same contrast in Galatians 6:13, 14. There is certainly something abrupt in the sudden introduction of this polemic against Judaizing, especially in writing to Philippi, where there were not many Jews. But there may have been circumstances, unknown to us, which made the warning necessary; or, as some think, the apostle may have written this under excitement caused by the violent opposition of the Jewish faction at Rome. Beware; literally, mark, observe them, to be on your guard against them. The dogs. The article must be retained in the translation. The Jews called the Gentiles “dogs” (comp. Matthew 15:26, 27; Revelation 22:15), i.e. unclean, mainly because of their disregard of the distinction between clean and unclean food. St. Paul retorts the epithet: they are the dogs, who have confidence in the flesh, not in spiritual religion. Evil workers; so, 2 Corinthians 11:13, where he calls them “deceitful workers.” The Judaizers were active enough, like the Pharisees who “compassed sea and land to make one proselyte;” but their activity sprang from bad motives – they were evil workers, though their work was sometimes overruled for good (comp. Philippians 1:15-18). The concision (κατατομή, cutting, mutilation); a contemptuous word for “circumcision” (περιτομή). Compare the Jewish contemptuous use of Isbosheth, man of shame, for Eshbaal, man of Baal, etc. Their circumcision is no better than a mutilation. Observe the paronomasia, the combination of like-sounding words, which is common in St. Paul’s Epistles. Winer gives many examples in sect. lxviii. Philippians 3:2” (2)

Vincent’s Word Studies also provides some salient insights:

“Beware (βλέπετε)

Lit., look to. Compare Mark 4:24; Mark 8:15; Luke 21:8.”


“Rev., correctly, the dogs, referring to a well-known party – the Judaizers. These were nominally Christians who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but as the Savior of Israel only. They insisted that Christ’s kingdom could be entered only through the gate of Judaism. Only circumcised converts were fully accepted by God. They appeared quite early in the history of the Church, and are those referred to in Acts 15:1. Paul was the object of their special hatred and abuse. They challenged his birth, his authority, and his motives. “‘Paul must be destroyed,’ was as truly their watchword as the cry for the destruction of Carthage had been of old to the Roman senator” (Stanley, “Sermons and Lectures on the Apostolic Age”). These are referred to in Philippians 1:16; and the whole passage in the present chapter, from Philippians 3:3 to Philippians 3:11, is worthy of study, being full of incidental hints lurking in single words, and not always apparent in our versions; hints which, while they illustrate the main point of the discussion, are also aimed at the assertions of the Judaizers. Dogs was a term of reproach among both Greeks and Jews. Homer uses it of both women and men, implying shamelessness in the one, and recklessness in the other. Thus Helen: “Brother-in-law of me, a mischief devising dog” (“Iliad,” vi., 344). Teucer of Hector: “I cannot hit this raging dog” (“Iliad,” viii., 298). Dr. Thomson says of the dogs in oriental towns: “They lie about the streets in such numbers as to render it difficult and often dangerous to pick one’s way over and amongst them – a lean, hungry, and sinister brood. They have no owners, but upon some principle known only to themselves, they combine into gangs, each of which assumes jurisdiction over a particular street; and they attack with the utmost ferocity all canine intruders into their territory. In those contests, and especially during the night, they keep up an incessant barking and howling, such as is rarely heard in any European city. The imprecations of David upon his enemies derive their significance, therefore, from this reference to one of the most odious of oriental annoyances” (“Land and Book,” Central palestine and Phoenicia, 593). See Psalm 59:6; Psalm 22:16. Being unclean animals, dogs were used to denote what was unholy or profane. So, Matthew 7:6; Revelation 22:15. The Israelites are forbidden in Deuteronomy to bring the price of a dog into the house of God for any vow: Deuteronomy 23:18. The Gentiles of the Christian era were denominated “dogs” by the Jews, see Matthew 15:26. Paul here retorts upon them their own epithet.”

Evil workers

Compare deceitful workers, 2 Corinthians 11:13.

Concision (κατατομήν)

“Only here in the New Testament. The kindred verb occurs in the Septuagint only, of mutilations forbidden by the Mosaic law. See Leviticus 21:5. The noun here is a play upon περιτομή circumcision. It means mutilation. Paul bitterly characterizes those who were not of the true circumcision (Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11; Ephesians 2:11) as merely mutilated. Compare Galatians 5:12, where he uses ἀποκόπτειν to cut off, of those who would impose circumcision upon the Christian converts: “I would they would cut themselves off who trouble you;” that is, not merely circumcise, but mutilate themselves like the priests of Cybele.” (3)

As seen from the above citations, Paul uses a play upon words by calling the Judaizers “dogs” and also calls them those who mutilate the flesh or the “concision.”

In closing:

The Amplified Bible captures Paul’s nuances of language accurately:

“Look out for the [a]dogs [the Judaizers, the legalists], look out for the troublemakers, look out for the [b]false circumcision [those who claim circumcision is necessary for salvation]; for we [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, set apart for His purpose and] are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory and take pride and exult in Christ Jesus and place no confidence [in what we have or who we are] in the flesh— though I myself might have [some grounds for] confidence in the flesh [if I were pursuing salvation by works]. If anyone else thinks that he has reason to be confident in the flesh [that is, in his own efforts to achieve salvation], I have far more.” (Philippians 3:2-4)


   “Philippians 3:2 Jews often used “dogs” as a derogatory term to refer to Gentiles, so Paul’s reference to his Jewish opponents in this verse is ironic. Most dogs were untamed scavengers and considered disgusting because they ate anything.”

    “Philippians 3:2 Because circumcision was not necessary for salvation, the circumcision demanded by the Judaizers was nothing more than mutilation.”   

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


1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Philippians, Vol.8, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 80.

2.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Philippians, Vol. 20., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 111.

3.      Marvin R. Vincent, “Word Studies In The New Testament,” (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 442-443.

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

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