Impotent “Upper Story” Pietism, a Hellenistic Dreamworld

Impotent “Upper Story” Pietism, a Hellenistic Dreamworld             by Jack Kettler

In this primer, the author borrows from Francis A. Schaeffer’s use of the expressions “upper story” and “lower story.” The phrases will not be used in the same way Schaeffer used them. Schaeffer used them as a divide between the rational as opposed to rationalism. This study will use the terminology in the sense of Greek Platonic dualism with its ideas/forms, invisible/visible motif.

Greek dualism can manifest itself in Christianity as false piety, seeking to escape the material world. The “upper story,” in contrast to the “lower story” is where the pietist seeks to find retreat. In fairness, the pietist would not agree with the assessment that escaping labels or describes Pietism accurately. There are many manifestations of Pietism, making it hard to identify. Some religious groups have elements of Pietism.  

Brief definitions:

·         Pietism stresses personal prayers and meditations over religious formality and doctrinal orthodoxy and Christian political activism.

·         Piety, on the other hand, is the quality of being sanctified and reverent, strived for by all believers.

For those wanting a hilarious and accurate look at Pietism, the film Babette’s Feast is excellent! It is a thoroughly enjoyable film and won an Oscar. There are many manifestations of Pietism. Because of this, the present primer will take a narrow view and focus on the extreme dichotomy between the spiritual and material, as seen in some groups influenced by Pietism. The use of the terminology false Pietism is an important qualification of this primer. True piety is something to be practiced and sought after by all Christians.    

In Pietism, Christians strive to escape to the pure spiritual “upper story” world, and not be contaminated by the “lower story” or sinful material world. In Pietism, there is a spiritual/material or upper story/lower story divide. In Pietism, the material world is sinful and hopeless, “why polish brass on a sinking ship.” Because of this pessimism, the pietist must escape. Sometimes this dualism comes in the form of the “Higher Life movement,” where the experiential take precedence over doctrinal confessions. Historically one aspect of this dualism manifested itself in the monkish life, for all practical purposes, navel-gazing. Today, many have heard the phrase that a person can be so spiritually minded that they are no earthly good. The “cultural mandate,” as developed by Abraham Kuyper, is missing in many pietistic circles.


Hebraic thinking posited a unified view of man and God’s world. The spiritual and material were not in conflict. There was one world, and it was God’s world. God was concerned with how humanity lived in the world. Hence, God’s law is a guidepost or instruction manual on how to live in the real world. God instructed Israel how to worship Him. It involved the real world. For example, tithes were brought to worship with material things such as grain, oil, animals. Inheritance laws and instruction for education are important. The correct doctrine is important; false prophets were condemned.  

The Western world and its legal tradition are built upon this Hebraic thinking. Considering the birth of Christianity, Christ did not repudiate this viewpoint. He encouraged it. Jesus did not repudiate God’s law. See Matthew 5:17. God’s law was not a manual to escape this world, but to provide Godly order in society. Today this worldview is called the Judeo/Christian worldview.

Back to Pietism, which is often manifested as detachment from the material world and its concerns. In some cases, of Pietism, the dichotomy between the spiritual and material reveals itself as some things are spiritual, and others are not. For example, prayer meetings are on a superior level than engaging in Christian political activity. Biblically, these two activities should not be juxtaposed.         

The roots of false pietism:

In Greek philosophy, the spiritual/material dualism is seen in the writings of Plotinus, the third great master of Hellenistic thought.

Plotinus argues that the material world is evil, and the goal is to escape to a higher level above. Plotinus, in his first Ennead, puts it this way:

“Since Evil is here, “haunting this world by necessary law,” and it is the Soul’s design to escape Evil, we must escape hence. But what is this escape? “In attaining Likeness to God,” we read. And this is explained as becoming just and holy, living by wisdom, the entire nature grounded in Virtue…. And elsewhere he [Plato] declares all the virtues without exception to be purifications….The solution is in understanding the virtues and what each has to give: thus the man will learn to work with this or that as every several need demands. And as he reaches to loftier principles and other standards these in turn will define his conduct: for example, Restraint in its earlier form will no longer satisfy him, he will work for the final disengagement; he will live no longer, the life of the good man such as Civic Virtue commends but, leaving this beneath him, will take up instead another life, that of the Gods….What art is there, what method, what discipline to bring us there where we must go?” (1)

The final goal for Plotinus is as follows in the second Ennead:

“There is another life emancipated, whose quality is progression towards the higher realm, towards the good and divine, towards that Principle which no one possesses except by deliberate usage but so may appropriate, becoming each personally, the higher, the beautiful, the Godlike.” (2)

According to Plotinus, we must seek disengagement, and leave things beneath us. The “higher realm” or the “upper story” is what is essential.

In general, in Pietism, the goal is similar to Plotinus that is to escape to the higher realm:

The goal for the pietistic Christian is to escape worldliness. To accomplish this, Pietism turns inward in order to flee this world. Pietism can be described as quietism and retreatism; in other words, an escape. Pietism is quiet and has nothing to say as society degenerates, other than escape or retreat. The problem is, eventually, there is nowhere to hide. Another danger of a pietistic higher life movement as it is sometimes known can include a downplaying of the importance of doctrine. For example, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals find common ground in the “upper story” tongue-speaking movement. 

Observations on Pietism:
“Nietzsche may have been accurately describing the feeble pietism that surrounded him, the saccharine portraits of Jesus from childhood, but he could not have been more incorrect in his analysis that as a religion of the “sick soul,” the preaching of Christ was simply a message of resignation to the powers and principalities. On the contrary, it was the most radical renunciation of the herd mentality that keeps us addicted to the power brokers of this age.” – Michael S. Horton  “Prayer and action … can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.” – Henri Nouwen  “The doctrine of vocation or calling gained currency as men began to take time and history seriously. If the goal of the Christian life is a Neoplatonic flight from this world, then pietism has effectively undermined the doctrine of non-ecclesiastical callings. To speak of having a calling is usually to speak of the clergy and clerical office.” – R. J. Rushdoony  “The purely emotional form of Pietism is, as Ritschl has pointed out, a religious dilettantism for the leisure class.” – Max Weber

 Karl Barth describes Pietism as a phenomenon that promotes individualism rather than social mindedness. If this is true, on the surface, Pietism may appear to be God-centered, when in reality, it may be man-centered under cover of religiosity.

 Barth referring to a pietist named Gerhard Tersteegen whom he had sympathy:  “For him, the world was only a deafening noise from which one must escape!” (3)

 “The Nine Spiritual Laws of White-Wine Pietism” by Craig Parton:

1. Doctrine divides.

As one white-wine pietist told me recently: “Who cares how many natures Christ has? It’s enough to just love Jesus.” The point regularly made by white-wine pietists is that the quest for theological depth, clarity, and maturity lead one away from Jesus Christ and the Scriptures and frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. Subjectivity is spiritual.

White-wine pietists encourage people to look inside themselves to their very core. Here one finds purity of motive, willingness to follow God, good thoughts, marital fidelity, and truth-telling. To the extent these qualities do not exist in one’s heart, the more one must strive to obtain them through various well-tested ladders of ascent (for example, fasting, accountability groups, a “discipleship” relationship, prayer, and displaying “integrity” in one’s profession). While the Reformation identifies the heart as the problem, white-wine pietists see it as the answer.

3. Liturgy dulls.

White-wine pietists distrust ordered worship – it shackles the heartfelt response. These pietists in confessional churches incessantly clamor to “update” worship so that the “spirit can lead.” Thus Lutherans, for example, now experience the strange phenomenon of having an Amy Grant song in the middie of a “modified” Divine Service. In response to questions about this dubious practice, a white-wine pietist told me roughly the following: “We’ve been doing this liturgy-thing for years and nobody knows what they are saying anymore. It’s only meaningful and alive to you because it’s new to you. Anyway, the liturgy is a sixteenth-century German invention. Frankly, it’s all rote and boring to us (and too hard to understand) and to our children. By the way, can you believe how the public schools dummy down to the lowest common denominator? It is scandalous!” The result is that we now have more user-friendly services because the historical (and thus liturgical) service doesn’t “work” for white-wine pietists who have specialized needs within varying age groups, as well as soccer games at 12:10 P.M. on Sunday.

Pastors of white-wine pietists are encouraged to use their word processors on Thursday night to rearrange the liturgy in order to “surprise” victims on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, evangelicals coming to the Reformation come precisely to get away from “surprises.” (A “surprise” on Sunday morning is usually prefaced with the “worship leader” asking: “Does anyone have something that they would like to share this morning?”) The stability of an historic liturgy and its constant reminder each Sunday that we are in need of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins is what I, for example, found so utterly compelling about the Lutheran Church. Instead, white-wine pietists encourage services that end up being cheesy, mid-1970s praise meetings (but without bell-bottom pants) that eclipse the gospel, promote a theology of glory, and teach the congregation that they don’t “participate” unless they’re up front with the white-wine Yuppie “leadership team” doing piano bar music.

4. The Sacraments are scary.

White-wine pietists neither promote nor defend growth in and by the sacraments. Why? Because the objective forgiveness of sins in the means of grace is gospel through and through. White-wine pietists drink from the chalice of the law and either turn sacraments into ordinances or downplay their centrality in the Christian life (“once a month is more than enough – and why not do it on Sunday night so it is less time-consuming?”).

5. Catechesis is for teenagers or intellectuals.

The new white-wine pietists (like their forefathers) disdain the systematic learning of Christian doctrine. Catechesis, it is thought, smells of Rome, and we all know how little good catechism class does them, right? There is the perception among white-wine pietists in confessional churches that confirmation classes are to be endured and that works like Luther’s Small Catechism are to be thankfully put on the shelf at the end of the eighth grade. The concept of a thorough theological education from the earliest grades through adulthood is gone. Pietism has killed it. White-wine pietists keep the coffin nailed shut.

Vacuous Sunday school curricula that catechizes one in the theology of glory (with no emphasis, of course, on the sacraments) are brought in wholesale and fed to the children. Youth rallies stress the inner spiritual life over objective growth in faith through the means of grace (word and sacrament). Yet no one understands why kids are leaving confessional churches in droves for the evangelical movement as soon as they get to college. Of course, they are! Why stay? Johnny Angel goes to college and soon realizes that the evangelical parachurch organizations and other non-denominational Bible churches do a theology of glory with more enthusiasm and quality. The very churches that bemoan declining membership have set the next generation up for the completely logical next step.

6. Small groups promote “real” growth and “accountability.”

I thought I had left the horizontal approach to Bible study back with my white-wine pietist past. Not so. The Relational Bible Study School of Theology is being resuscitated by the new white-wine pietists operating in confessional churches. The result is an erosion of confidence in the value of corporate worship tied in with the worship of all Christians throughout time, in the sacraments and the word as the only sure means of growth in the Christian life, and in the liturgy as both cross-and counter-cultural.

Pietism created The Horizontal School of Theology. That school will never support an emphasis on confessional orthodoxy or on sacramental corporate worship. Small groups within churches that do not foster commitment to corporate worship and thus to the means of grace are enemies of the cross of Christ. The premise of such groups is that word and sacrament are not enough to meet individual felt needs. Everyone is different, so everyone must be met on a different level. Some have daily sins to confess and to be absolved from and some don’t. All have something different they need or want from the church salad bar on Sunday morning. This is a malignant American individualism, and it smells of Lucifer’s droppings.

7. Doctrinal hymns are elitist, but praise choruses edify.

As the white-wine-pietist son of a Lutheran minister told me recently, the first priority should be on whether the song can be sung easily and only then should one focus on the text of the song. Since the key is to experience God directly, immediately, and quickly (like an Egg McMuffin), the easiest way is by using the ubiquitous Maranatha praise book dearly cherished at the local McChurch.

It is known among trained musicians that within certain groups simply playing certain chords will immediately elicit the response of closed eyes or raised hands (somewhat like Pavlov’s dogs salivating at the ringing of a bell). It has nothing to do whatsoever with any content that is being sung – it is simply a matter of musical form eliciting a certain emotional response. Because of their abject ignorance of doctrine, the new white-wine pietists disparage the historic hymnody of the church and encourage a musical style that allows them to put one arm around their girl-friend and the other in the air. While Bach signed his works with “Soli Deo Gloria,” the music of white-wine pietism is signed with the godly reminder that it is “used by permission only, Big Steps 4 U Music, License #47528695, copyright 1986, administered by Integrity Hosanna Music, Incorporated.”

The hymns of the Reformation are often theologically dense and difficult to sing. They can elicit an emotional response too, such as contrition, falling prostrate in fear of God, or despairing of the merit of one’s good works. The impression is given that because there is a language and style to learn, and that it is difficult, it is not worth making the effort. If I had listened to this kind of advice during the first year of law school, I would never have become a lawyer. To those who say you can put any content to any praise chorus and get the appropriate result, I respond: Then why don’t we put the content of Luther’s catechetical hymn “From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee” to the Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun ‘Til Daddy Takes the T’ Bird Away”?

8. The Holy Spirit hates apologetics.

White-wine pietists despise apologetics, because it deals with rational argumentation, and pietists distrust the mind. The heart promotes worship while the mind just gets in the way. The new white-wine pietists are no different from their sixteenth-century predecessors (and Luther’s nemeses) the so-called “Zwickau Prophets,” Carlstadt and Muenzer – they put the head and the heart at war with one another. While we would gladly agree that no human effort (intellectual or otherwise) can ever be attributed as the cause of regeneration or saving faith, Scripture calls us to give a defense of the hope that is within. This takes work, study, and contact with the objections of unbelievers. White-wine pietists don’t do well in these waters, though to their credit they often socialize well with unbelievers. It is easier to attack apologetics as trying to “argue people into the kingdom” than it is to do serious, time-consuming study. Historically, pietism has ignored and disdained apologetics, placing it in tension with the “testimony from the heart.” Historically, pietism has ignored and disdained apologetics, placing it in tension with the “testimony from the heart.”

The new white-wine pietists, unlike their fundamentalist forefathers, do go into the marketplace to “win the lost.” But their method of winning the lost is presenting a theology of glory based on their “lifestyle of integrity,” their “model family,” or by showing unbelievers how “tight” their “fellowship group” is. Mormons and all other moralists or anyone else with their lives halfway together, however, should be profoundly unimpressed. A reasoned and vigorous (and thus apostolic) defense of the cross is simply gone. In fact, it is arrogantly mocked as a strictly unspiritual endeavor. The “good news” preached by the new white-wine pietists is never really that good, because the bad news of the law is never fully grasped or preached in its awful severity.

9. Growth in faith comes through obedience to the law.

This is the central theological sulfur of all strains of pietism. The Reformation in general, and Luther in particular, were emphatic that the prime function of the law was to slay and kill Adam, the first pietist. Growth in the Christian life is a growth in grace – that is, a growth in the life and salvation given by Christ and springing out of the daily forgiveness of sins. A focus on the forgiveness of sins will always push a person to the means of grace, where a holy God promises and delivers that forgiveness. The new white-wine pietist, true to his origins, has an individualistic and pragmatic interest in the church. Pietists interest themselves in the work of the church to the extent that it fosters relationships, love for God “fellowship,” a growing commitment to small groups, and access to God unencumbered by the means of grace or by liturgy, in favor of more emotional worship.” (4)

 Gary North explains the helplessness of Pietism when it comes to real-world issues:  “Christian pietists who self-consciously, religiously, and confidently deny that Christians should ever get involved in any form of public confrontation with humanism, for any reason, have recognized this weakness on the part of antinomian Christian activists. They never tire of telling the activists that they are wasting their time in some “eschatologically futile reform program.” Such activism is a moral affront to the pietists. Those of us who have repeatedly marched in picket lines in front of an abortionist’s office have from time to time been confronted by some outraged Christian pietist who is clearly far more incensed by the sight of Christians in a picket line than the thought of infanticide in the nearby office. ‘Who do you think you are?” we are asked. “Why are you out here making a scene when you could be working in an adoption center or unwed mothers’ home?” (These same two questions seem equally appropriate for the pietist critic. Who does he think he is, and why isn’t he spending his time working in an adoption center or an unwed mothers’ home?)… The pietistic critics of activism also understand that in any direct confrontation, Christians risk getting the stuffings – or their tax exemptions – knocked out of them. They implicitly recognize that a frontal assault on entrenched humanism is futile and dangerous if you have nothing better to offer, since you cannot legitimately expect to beat something with nothing.” (5)

 More on the dangers of Pietistic dualism in Churchianity or Christianity part 6-retreatism pietism Churchianity and the recovery of Christianity:  “All dualism since Ockham, and especially as expressed in pietism, has had the cultural effect of weakening the church and strengthening the state. With its retreat inward, pietism was completely unable to combat the forces of the Enlightenment, just as Lutheranism was found powerless with the rise of the Third Reich. The Enlightenment perspective saw the state, not the church, as the truly universal institution; the church was the area of private faith, whereas the state was the realm of reason. The state would therefore assert itself as the new arbiter of order. Given pietism’s primary concern for ‘spiritual life,’ it did not contest this claim. The same is true of modern evangelical pietism. It has allowed the state to move into and control most of life, and we have given up the majority of that ground uncontested. While on the one hand emphasising the church and spiritual life, pietism actually allows the church to become an essentially peripheral institution, irrelevant to life in the world… An immediate offspring of this dualism and pietism is retreatism.” (6)

 In the real world:

 When the state asserts its authority over the church, for instance, the pietists are not up for the fight. Because of its withdrawal from society, Pietism creates a power vacuum that the state will gladly rush in to fill. Sadly, in Pietism, political action is viewed with suspicion because of its dependence upon Greek Platonic dualism. Escape to the “upper story” is an escape to nowhere. Additionally, as noted by Plotinus, “There is another life emancipated, whose quality is a progression towards the higher realm.” In other words, the invisible and the world of ideas is superior to the visible and the imperfect world of forms. The problem with this is that it is fiction.   

 Jesus did not limit the Christian life to only private worship or gospel preaching only. 

 “Your kingdom comes, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mathew 6:10)

 God’s world is a unified whole, not Greek “upper story,” “lower story” dualism.

 Retreating and evacuating is a methodology for loosing culturally in history. Andrew Sandlin has noted this when he quotes Winston Churchill:  “Wars are not won by evacuations…. We shall fight on the beaches, and we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill

 Bio: Andrew Sandlin is a Christian minister, cultural theologian, and author; the founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California; faculty member at Blackstone Legal. Wikipedia

 Thank God, that Churchill was not a pietist. Churchill’s call to battle helped save Western Civilization. Thankfully, the majority of Christians during the War for Independence were not pietists. During the War for Independence, in the English parliament, the conflict was sometimes referred to as the Presbyterian revolt or that the colonies have followed the Presbyterian parson, John Witherspoon.   

 A conclusion, it can be said; the philosophical positions advanced by the Greeks influenced the areas of epistemology, ontology, ethics, and teleology and that the Greek influence is a sufficient explanation for positions that have been adopted by some western religions and philosophy. Regrettably, this includes Pietism.

 These Greek concepts have influenced present-day Pietism. While admitting that Pietism may not be aware of the source of some of its positions, it nevertheless is dependent upon Greek philosophical ideas, namely, fleeing to the “upper story.”

 Mark Rushdoony describes what has been the result of Pietism in our culture:     “Pietism, in fact, saw Christianity as a retreat from earthly, worldly concerns, which it increasingly abandoned.” (7)

 The present reign of the Lord Jesus Christ is not Pietism:

 “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

 According to Paul in 1 Corinthians, this reign is a present reality and will climax in the Second Coming.

 Jesus did not teach, “Do not waste your time polishing the brass on a sinking ship.” Not only is this contrary to Christ’s present reign, and it is implicitly bad eschatology. 

 Christ reigns in both the upper and lower stories. In both the invisible and visible. In the world of ideas and forms. Anything less is a truncated Christianity. Christians must engage the culture and transform it.

 The cultural mandate:

 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

 “In the total expanse of human life, there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’” Abraham Kuyper

 Christians must proclaim the Lordship of Christ over every aspect of life and culture, not flee to the “upper story.”

 The reader should consult, Messiah the Prince, by William Symington to learn more about Christ’s present reign and the implications for the present world.

 Escaping Cultural Relevance – Gary North:  “Here is a major dilemma For the modern church:

Christians confidently affirm that “the Bible has answers for all questions.” But one question is this: What relevance should Christianity have in culture? Modern antinomian Christians emphatically deny the judicial foundation of Christianity’s cultural relevance in history: biblical law and its biblically mandated sanctions.

Most Christians prefer pietism to cultural relevance, since civil responsibility accompanies cultural relevance.

They seek holiness through withdrawal from the prevailing general culture.

This withdrawal has forced them to create alternative cultures – ghetto cultures – since there can be no existence for man without culture of some kind.

Mennonites have achieved a remarkable separation from the general culture, though not so radical as tourists in Amish country like to imagine, by abandoning such modern benefits as electricity in their homes and the automobile.

But they travel in their buggies on paved highways, and they use electricity in their barns.

They are always dependent on the peace-keeping forces of the nation.

Pietistic Christians have longed for a similar separation, but without the degree of commitment shown by the Amish.

They send their children into the public schools, and they still watch television.

The result has been catastrophic: the widespread erosion of pietism’s intellectual standards by the surrounding humanist culture, and the creation of woefully third-rate Christian alternatives.

The ultimate form of personal Christian withdrawal from culture is mysticism: placing an emotional and epistemological boundary between the Christian anger the world around him.

But there is a major theological risk with all forms of theistic mysticism.

The proponents of theistic mysticism again and again in history have defined mysticism as union with God.

But their primary motive is to escape social responsibility and social ethics.

By defining mysticism as metaphysical rather than ethical, mystics have frequently come to a terribly heretical conclusion: their hoped-for union with God is defined as metaphysical rather than ethical.

They seek a union of their being with God.

The mystic’s quest for unity with God denies the Bible’s ultimate definition of holiness: the separation of God from the creation.” (8)

 In closing, Bavinck’s Critique of Pietism:  “Like so many other efforts at reforming life in Protestant churches, Pietism and Methodism were right in their opposition to dead orthodoxy. Originally their intention was only to arouse a sleeping Christianity; they wished not to bring about a change in the confession of the Reformation but only to apply it in life. Yet, out of an understandable reaction, they frequently went too far in this endeavor and swung to another extreme. They, too, gradually shifted the center of gravity from the objective to the subjective work of salvation. In this connection it makes essentially no difference whether one makes salvation dependent on faith and obedience or on faith and experience. In both cases humanity itself steps into the foreground. Even though Pietism and Methodism did not deny the acquisition of salvation by Christ, they did not use this doctrine or relate it in any organic way to the application of salvation. It was, so to speak, dead capital. The official activity of the exalted Christ, the Lord from heaven, was overshadowed by the experiences of the subject. In Pietism, instead of being directed toward Christ, people were directed toward themselves. They had to travel a long road, meet all sorts of demands and conditions, and test themselves by numerous marks of genuineness before they might believe, appropriate Christ, and be assured of their salvation. Methodism indeed tried to bring all this—conversion, faith, assurance—together in one indivisible moment, but it systematized this method, in a most abbreviated way, in the same manner as Pietism. In both there is a failure to appreciate the activity of the Holy Spirit, the preparation of grace, and the connection between creation and re-creation. That is also the reason why in neither of them does the conversion experience lead to a truly developed Christian life. Whether in Pietistic fashion it withdraws from the world or in Methodist style acts aggressively in the world, it is always something separate, something that stands dualistically alongside the natural life, and therefore does not have an organic impact on the family, society, and the state, on science and art. With or without the Salvation Army uniform, Christians are a special sort of people who live not in but outside the world. The Reformation antithesis between sin and grace has more or less made way for the Catholic antithesis between the natural and the supernatural. Puritanism has been exchanged for asceticism. The essence of sanctification now consists in abstaining from ordinary things.” (9)

 As noted by Bavinck says pietistic, “Christians are a special sort of people who live not in but outside the world.” Thus, in Pietism, platonic dualism manifests itself, and to use Schaeffer’s terminology, they attempt to live in “upper story.”

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


 1.      Plotinus, The Six Enneads, Vol. 17 of Great Books of the Western World, Trans. by S. Mackenna and P.S. Page, (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952), pp. 1.2, 1; p. 6. 1. 2, 3; p. 7. 1. 2, 7; p. 10. 1. 3, 1; p. 10.

2.      Plotinus, 2.3, 9; p. 45.

3.      Eberhard Busch, Karl Barth and the Pietists: The Young Karl Barth’s Critique of Pietism & Its Response, (Wipf and Stock (June 15, 2016), p. 19.

4.      Craig Parton, The nine spiritual laws of white wine pietism, Intrepid Lutherans, https:// vdma. /2010/11/18/the-nine-spiritual-laws-of-white-wine-pietism/

5.      Gary North, Tools of Dominion, (Tyler, Texas, Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), p. 15.

6.      Christian Concern, Churchianity or Christianity part 6-retreatism pietism churchianity and the recovery of Christianity, online resource, https: // Christian concern. com/

7.      Dualism, Rev. Mark R. Rushdoony is president of Chalcedon and Ross House Books. He is also editor-in-chief of Faith for All of Life and Chalcedon’s other publications. https:// sites. Google. com/site/world view address/clients/dualism

8.      Gary North, Leviticus: An Economic Commentary; Introduction, (Tyler, TX, Institute for Christian Economics, 1994), p. 2-3.

9.      Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, trans. H. Bolt, Editor J. Vriend, translator, Vol. 3, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3.567–68.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

 The Fallacy of Pietism by R. J. Rushdoony

Churchianity or Christianity part 6 retreatism pietism churchianity and the recovery of Christianity see parts 1-5 at

How Pietism Deceives Christians by Bob DeWaay

The Bane of Pietism and the Murder of the Preborn by Pastor Matt Trewhella

Pietism: The Reason Pastors Aren’t Involved

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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What does the Bible mean when it says, “All Israel shall be saved”?

What does the Bible mean when it says, “All Israel shall be saved”?           By Jack Kettler

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:26)

·         How has this passage been interpreted historically?

·         For example, is the apostle looking beyond the Old Testament typology of Israel to the larger Church made up of all of God’s elect consisting of both Jews and Gentiles? 

·         If Romans 11:26 is taken at face value, it seems to be saying that everyone in Israel literally will be saved.

·         If so, would this mean every Jewish person throughout all of history will be saved, or only at some specific time in history?

Points two and four or some variation with qualifications; are the two major viewpoints or interpretive approaches to the passage.

First, was Paul referencing other Old Testament Scriptures in Romans 11:26?

“But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” (Isaiah 45:17)

“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 59:20)

“At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:1)

The above three passages, reiterate the theme that is seen concerning Israel’s redemption throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

For example:

“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” (Genesis 17:7)

Paul most certainly had the above passages in mind when he penned Romans 11:26. These Old Testament passages affirm what is said in Romans 11:26; they do not answer the introductory questions about how many in Israel, what time period, and does Israel a type of a larger group of people to be saved.

It is always helpful to survey how Romans 11:26 has been interpreted in the past. There are several competing interpretations.     

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges describes some of the different approaches to interpreting this passage:
“26. And so all Israel shall be saved several interpretations of these words are in themselves legitimate. They may refer (A) to the natural Israel, the Jews; or (B) to the “Israel of God,” the true Church of Christ. Again, if the reference (A) is adopted, the prophecy may mean (a) that then all the elect of Israel shall at length be gathered in—the long process shall at length be complete; or (b) that every individual of the then generation of Jews shall be brought to Messiah’s grace; or (c) that “all” bears a less exact reference here, as so often in Scripture, and means “in general;”—“Israel in general, the Jews of that day as a great aggregate, on a scale unknown before, shall be saved.”

Of these various possibilities we prefer on the whole (A. c,) as the most in accord with the context, and with the analogy of Scripture. The explanation (B) is in itself entirely true: the final glory and triumph of the Gospel will surely be, not specially the salvation of the Jews, but that of the Universal Church—the immortal Bride of the King Eternal. And it is extremely important to remember the full recognition in Scripture of all its true members as the “seed of Abraham” (Galatians 3:29). But this is not the truth exactly in point here, where St Paul is dealing with the special prospect of a time when “blindness in part” will no longer characterize Jews as Jews. And the “Israel” of Romans 11:25 is probably the Israel of Romans 11:26, as no distinction is suggested in the interval.—Again, the reference marked (A. a), though perfectly true in itself, is less likely here because in Romans 11:15; Romans 11:25, we have had already a prediction of a restoration of Jews, en masse, to grace; whereas the process of gathering in the elect of all ages is continuous, and thus, on the whole, gradual.—Again, the reference marked (A. b), though the Divine Plan may, of course, intend no less, is far from analogous to the main teaching of Scripture as to the developements (even the largest) of grace in this world.—On the whole, then, we adopt the interpretation which explains the sentence as predicting the conversion of some generation or generations of Jews, a conversion so real and so vastly extensive that unbelief shall be the small exception at the most, and that Jews as such shall everywhere be recognized as true Christians, lights in the world, and salt on the earth.” (1)

In the next commentary selection, a view will be considered that “all Israel” refers to all of Israel at a specific point in history will be saved.

It will be helpful to consider Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Romans 11:26 for the first or the (A) entry viewpoint as noted by the Cambridge commentary:  “Here is a third and chief part of the aforementioned mystery, that in the end,

all Israel shall be saved. By Israel is not meant the whole church of God, consisting of Jews and Gentiles; so that word is used, Galatians 6:16, and elsewhere; for then, what he spake would have been no mystery at all: but by Israel here (as in the precedent verse) you must understand, the nation and people of the Jews. And by

all Israel is not meant every individual Israelite, but many, or (it may be) the greatest part of them. So all is to be taken in Scripture: see John 6:45 1 Timothy 2:6, and elsewhere. Look, as when he speaks of the conversion of the Gentiles, and the coming in of their fulness, there are many (too many of them) still unconverted; so, notwithstanding the general calling of the Jews, a great many of them may remain uncalled.

As it is written; the apostle had this by revelation, but he proves it also by Scripture. All are not agreed from whence these testimonies are taken; the former is found (with some little variation) in Isaiah 59:20: as for the latter, some think it is taken from Jeremiah 31:33. Others think, that he joineth two places in Isaiah together, (as he did before, Romans 11:8), and the last words are taken out of Isaiah 27:9. The Seventy have the very words used by the apostle. These prophecies and promises, though they were in part fulfilled when Christ came in the flesh, {see Acts 3:26} yet there will be a more full and complete accomplishment thereof upon the Jewish nation and people towards the end of the world.” (2)

 John Calvin represents a second view or (B) entry, as noted by the Cambridge commentary as a type for all of God’s elect people from the Jews and Gentiles.    

 It would be good to consider his line of reasoning from John Calvin on Romans 11:26:  “26. And so all Israel, etc. Many understand this of the Jewish people, as though Paul had said, that religion would again be restored among them as before: but I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, — “When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first-born in God’s family.” This interpretation seems to me the most suitable, because Paul intended here to set forth the completion of the kingdom of Christ, which is by no means to be confined to the Jews, but is to include the whole world. The same manner of speaking we find in Galatians 6:16. The Israel of God is what he calls the Church, gathered alike from Jews and Gentiles; and he sets the people, thus collected from their dispersion, in opposition to the carnal children of Abraham, who had departed from his faith.

As it is written, etc. He does not confirm the whole passage by this testimony of Isaiah, (Isaiah 59:20,) but only one clause, — that the children of Abraham shall be partakers of redemption. But if one takes this view, — that Christ had been promised and offered to them, but that as they rejected him, they were deprived of his grace; yet the Prophet’s words express more, even this, — that there will be some remnant, who, having repented, shall enjoy the favor of deliverance.

Paul, however, does not quote what we read in Isaiah, word for word;

“Come,” he says, “shall a Redeemer to Sion, and to those who shall repent of iniquity in Jacob, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 59:20.)

But on this point we need not be very curious; only this is to be regarded, that the Apostles suitably apply to their purpose whatever proofs they adduce from the Old Testament; for their object was to point but passages, as it were by the finger, that readers might be directed to the fountain itself.

But though in this prophecy deliverance to the spiritual people of God is promised, among whom even Gentiles are included; yet as the Jews are the first-born, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that Scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, whom God had preferred to all other nations. And then, from a regard to the ancient covenant, he says expressly, that a Redeemer shall come to Sion; and he adds, that he will redeem those in Jacob who shall return from their transgression. By these words God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation. And though fitter for his purpose would have been the expression used by the Prophet, “shall come to Sion;” yet Paul made no scruple to follow the commonly received translation, which reads, “The Redeemer shall come forth from Mount Sion.” And similar is the case as to the second part, “He shall turn away iniquities from Jacob:” for Paul thought it enough to regard this point only, — that as it is Christ’s peculiar office to reconcile to God an apostate and faithless people, some change was surely to be looked for, lest they should all perish together.” (3)

 The following summary of the three most prominent views by Simon J. Kistemaker is constructive:Three Interpretations

A. “The Most Popular Theory

“All Israel” indicates the mass of Jews living on earth in the end-time. The full number of elect Gentiles will be gathered in. After that the mass of the Jews—Israel on a large scale—will be saved. This will happen just previous to, or at the very moment of, Christ’s Return.

 For the names of some of the advocates of this theory, see p. 307.


a. The Greek word οὕτως does not mean then or after that. The rendering “Then all Israel will be saved” is wrong. In none of the other occurrences of this word in Romans, or anywhere else in the New Testament, does this word have that meaning. It means so, in this manner, thus.

  b. This theory also fails to do justice to the word all in “all Israel.” Does not “all Israel” sound very strange as a description of the (comparatively) tiny fraction of Jews who will still be living on earth just before, or at the moment of, Christ’s Return?

  c. The context clearly indicates that in writing about the salvation of Israelites and Gentiles Paul is not limiting his thoughts to what will take place in the future. He very definitely includes what is happening now. See especially verses 30, 31.

  d. Would it not be strange for God to single out for a very special favor—nothing less than salvation full and free—exactly that generation of Jews which will have hardened its heart against the testimony of the longest train of Christian witnesses, a train extending all the way from the days of Christ’s sojourn on earth—in fact, in a sense, all the way from Abraham—to the close of the new dispensation?

  e. The reader has not been prepared for the idea of a mass conversion of Israelites. All along Paul stresses the very opposite, namely, the salvation, in any age (past, present, future) of a remnant. See the passages listed under 11:5, p. 363. If Rom. 11:26 actually teaches a mass conversion of Jews, would it not seem as if Paul is saying, “Forget what I told you previously”?

  f. If Paul is here predicting such a future mass conversion of Jews, is he not, contradicting, if not the letter, at least the spirit, of his earlier statement found in 1 Thess. 2:14b–16:

  “… the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and do not please God, and are hostile to all men, in that they try to prevent us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But upon them the wrath [of God] has come to the uttermost”?

  g. The immediately following context (11:26b, 27) refers to a coming of “the Deliverer” who will turn away godlessness and remove sin from Jacob. Was not that the purpose of Christ’s first coming? But the popular interpretation of Rom. 11:26 predicts a mass conversion of Jews in connection with Christ’s second coming. That theory is, accordingly, not in harmony with the context.

  For these several reasons Interpretation A. should be rejected.

 B. John Calvin’s Theory

“All Israel” refers to the total number of the elect throughout history, all those who are ultimately saved both Jews and Gentiles. In his Commentary on his passage Calvin expresses himself as follows:

  “I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning: when the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also will return from their defection to the obedience of faith, and thus will be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both …”

  The same view is defended by J. A. C. Van Leeuwen and D. Jacobs, op. cit., p. 227; and, in a sense, by Karl Barth, Der Römerbrief, Zürich, 1954, p. 401; English tr., p. 416.


In as far as Calvin interprets the term Israel spiritually—“Israel” refers to the elect—his theory must be considered correct. Cf. Rom. 9:6. Also his claim that the section, verses 25–32 (considered as a unit), describes the one people of God cannot be successfully refuted. On the other hand, Calvin’s application of the term “Israel,” in verse 26, to all the people of God, both Jews and Gentiles, is wrong. In the preceding context the words Israel, Isrealites (s) occur no less than eleven times: 9:4; 9:6 (twice); 9:27; 9:31; 10:19; 10:21; 11:1; 11:2; 11:7; and 11:25. In each case the reference is clearly to Jews, never to Gentiles. What compelling reason can there be, therefore, to adopt a different meaning for the term Israel as used here in 11:26? To be sure, at the close of verse 25 the apostle makes mention of the Gentiles, but only in order to indicate that the partial hardening of the Jews will not cease until every elect Gentile will have been brought into the kingdom. Accordingly, Paul is still talking about the Jews. He does so also in verse 26b. Even verse 28 contains a clear reference to Jews. Not until verses 30–32 are reached does the apostle cause the entire body of the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, to pass in review together.

  Therefore, while appreciating the good elements in Calvin’s explanation, we cannot agree with him in interpreting the term “all Israel” in 11:26 as referring to all the elect, both Jews and Gentiles. A passage should be interpreted in light of its context. In the present case the context points to Jews, not to Gentiles, nor in verses 26–29 to a combination of Jews and Gentiles.

 C. A Third Theory

The term “All Israel” means the total number of elect Jews, the sum of all Israel’s “remnants.” “All Israel” parallels “the fulness of the Gentiles.” Verses 25. 26 make it very clear that God is dealing with both groups, has been saving them, is saving them, and is going to save them. And if “All Israel” indicates, as it does, that not a single elect Israelite will be lacking “when the roll is called up yonder,” then “the fulness of the Gentiles” similarly shows that when the attendance is checked every elect Gentile will answer “Present.”

  For the meaning of “will be saved” see on 1:16, p. 60. For Jew and Gentile the way of salvation is the same. In fact, their paths run side by side. Opportunity to be saved will have ended for both when Christ returns. As indicated previously, the two—“the fulness of the Gentiles” and “All Israel”—constitute one organism, symbolized by a single olive tree. It should be clear that if, in the present connection, fulness must be interpreted in its unlimited sense, the same holds for all in “All Israel.”

  The words “And so” are explained by Paul himself. They indicate, “In such a marvelous manner,” a manner no one could have guessed. If God had not revealed this “mystery” to Paul, he would not have known it. It was, in fact, astonishing. The very rejection of the majority of Israelites, throughout history recurring again and again, was, is, and will be, a link in the effectuation of Israel’s salvation. For details, see above, p. 366, 367, 377, 378 (Rom. 11:11, 12, 25).

    Although, to be sure, this interpretation is not nearly as popular as is theory A, among its defenders are men of recognized scholarship (as holds also, of course, for theories A and B). Let me mention but a few.

  One of the propositions successfully defended by S. Volbeda, when he received his summa cum laude doctor of theology degree from the Free University of Amsterdam was: “The term ‘all Israel’ in Rom. 11:26a must be understood as indicating the collective elect out of Israel.”

  H. Bavinck, author of the four-volume work Gereformeerde Dogmatiek [Reformed Dogmatics], states, “ ‘All Israel’ in 11:26, is not the people of Israel, destined lo be converted collectively, neither is it the church consisting of united Jews and Gentiles; but it is the full number which during the course of the centuries is gathered out of Israel.” Cf. H. Hoeksema, God’s Eternal Good Pleasure, Grand Rapids, 1950, p. 465.

  And L. Berkhof states, “‘All Israel’ is to be understood as a designation not of the whole nation but of the whole number of the elect out of the ancient covenant people … and the adverb οὕτως cannot mean ‘after that,’ but only ‘in this manner.’ ”

  For a similar interpretation, see H. Ridderbos, op. cit., p. 263.

  Not only scholars of Reformed persuasion and Dutch nationality or lineage have adopted this interpretation, but so have many others, as is clear from a glance at Lenski’s commentary on Romans, pp. 714, 726, 727. See also O. Palmer Robertson, “Is There a Distinctive Future for Ethnic Israel in Romans II?,” in Perspectives on Evangelical Theology, Grand Rapids, 1979, pp. 81–94. These interpreters are convinced that this is the only interpretation that suits the text and context.” (4)

 A fourth theory: A partial preterist assessment of Romans 11:26:

 All Israel will be saved: Notes on Romans 11:26 by Gary DeMar:  “As with most theological positions, there are a variety of interpretations of this passage: (1) The salvation of every racial/ethnic Jew. This is an impossible interpretation. Why preach the gospel to the Jews if they’re all going to be saved?”[1] (2) the salvation of believers–racial and spiritual Jews–throughout history. This position changes the meaning of Israel, going from literal (Rom. 11:1) to spiritual (11:26). While it’s possible; it’s unlikely; (3) the salvation of a remnant of Jews at the end of history. This is the position of the Westminster Confession of Faith (Q. 191 LC). Two-thousand years have passed since Romans was written. The Jews have had plenty of time to be “jealous” (Rom. 11:11). The Jews in Paul’s day were jealous. That’s why Jews were persecuting the church; (4) salvation of those Jews who survive the Great Tribulation. This becomes a debate over when the GT took/takes place. A remnant of Jews was saved prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, therefore, the GT is a past event; (5) the remnant of Jews living during the period of covenant transition until the time Jerusalem was judged and the temple destroyed. This interpretation makes the most sense given the time indicators in the passage.

“I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Rom. 11:1).1. Paul is describing the remnant in his day (11:5) in the same way that Elijah was describing the remnant in his own day (1 Kings 19:10).

·         The remnant is alive “at the present time” (11:5), that is, in Paul’s day. It’s this remnant that Paul hopes to save through the preaching of the gospel, many of whom have already been saved (cf. Acts 2:5–12, 37–41).

2. There is no mention of a future tribulation or an “after the rapture” period in Romans 9–11.

3. Paul wants to save “some” of his “fellow-countrymen” (11:14).

·         He is speaking of the present.

·         What help is Paul’s “ministry” (11:13) going to be more than 2000 years in the future?: “So these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy” (11:31).

4. Save them from what? Save them from the coming judgment upon Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70.

Endnotes:[1] “Some see [‘all Israel’] in a diachronic sense, namely, that ‘all Israel’ refers to the nation as it has existed throughout history and that will have a share in the world to come (Sanhedrin 10:1) after the resurrection. Others take it in a synchronic sense where ‘all Israel’ refers to the nation only as it exists at a moment in history, particularly at the end of time as a part of the eschatological program. The second alternative is preferred. Moo states, ‘No occurrence of the phrase “all Israel” has a clearly diachronic meaning.’ Furthermore, the context speaks of Israel’s rejection of Messiah and her hardening, which was to continue until the time when the fullness of Gentiles should come in. Then, in sharp contrast, at a particular moment in history, ‘all Israel’ will experience salvation” (Harold W. Hoehner, “Israel in Romans 9–11,” Israel: The Land and the People–An Evangelical Affirmation of God’s Promises, ed. H. Wayne House [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998], 156).” (6)

 In closing:

 Romans 11:26 is a challenging passage to interpret. In the viewpoints surveyed, all have elements of truth. Thankfully, salvation does not hinge on a perfect interpretation of this passage.

 This writer agrees with the Cambridge commentary that:  “Of these various possibilities we prefer on the whole (A. c,) as the most in accord with the context, and with the analogy of Scripture. The explanation (B) is in itself entirely true: the final glory and triumph of the Gospel will surely be, not specially the salvation of the Jews, but that of the Universal Church—the immortal Bride of the King Eternal.”

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


 1.      The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, H. C. G. Moule, Romans, (Cambridge, England, Cambridge University Press, 1892), p. 199-200.

2.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Matthew, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 519-520.

3.      John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Romans, Volume XIX, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), pp. 437-439.

4.      Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Romans, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1982), pp. 379-382.

5.      Gary DeMar, American Vision, All Israel will be saved: Notes on Romans 11:26, (online, 2004)

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

THE DUAL STATUS OF ISRAEL IN ROMANS 11:28, 3 three views by Matt Waymeyer

 And so all Israel will be saved’: Competing Interpretations of Romans 11.26 in Pauline Scholarship by Christopher Zoccali

 Commentators on Romans 11:26, “All Israel will be Saved” Collected and analyzed by Eli Brayley

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What does the Bible say about education?

What does the Bible say about education?                                          By Jack Kettler

What does the Bible say regarding education? As much as it seems unthinkable, should Christians turn over their children to non-believers to be educated? In this study, both the Old and New Testaments will be surveyed to answer this question. Some noteworthy Christian thinkers will be quoted who have worked out the philosophy and theology of a distinctively Christian education.

Old Testament texts that mention education:

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8)

“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” (Proverbs 1:8)

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” (Proverbs 4:13)

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:13)

New Testament Texts that mention education:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“And, ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 1:28)

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)


Some of the passages above do not specifically mention the Word of God, like “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

To believe that Proverbs 22:6 can be understood to be instruction minus the Word of God is preposterous. It is presupposed in Scripture, exhortations to learn, educate, and to seek knowledge and wisdom embraces the Word of God as the starting point and ends with man. Government education starts with an autonomous man and his wisdom as the starting point and ends with man’s opinions. Since both approaches have different starting points, both will end at different end places.  

The above is a shortlist of passages on the topic of education. It is incontrovertible that the Word of God is the fountainhead of righteous education. Furthermore, it is indisputable that not one example of Christians being encouraged or commanded to submit their children to non-Christians for education can be shown.           

Reasons for a distinctively Christian education:

1.      God commands it. See above (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

2.      God, in general, forbids socializing with the pagans. – “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV)

3.      It is profitable. See above (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

The wrong reasons for sending children to pagans to be educated:

1.      Socialization is important and supposedly missing from a Christian education.

2.      Who will evangelize the pagans in the government schools?   


The supposed lack of socialization in Christian education is an outright lie.


No doubt, there are cases where Christian students witness to others in pagan government schools. However, evangelism can be a two-way street. What about the recruitment techniques conducted by pagans in ongoing attempts to convert Christian students into paganism? The main thrust of Christian education is learning to think biblically and evaluating ethics, science, and history in terms of a Christian theistic worldview.


There is no such thing as neutrality. The next two points are reasons to protect Christian children from ungodly educational indoctrination.

1.      Creation is not taught in government schools. Christian children are subjected to ongoing Darwinian propaganda. This propaganda has been the ruin of many.

2.      The sex education in government schools in an abomination to God. Examples need not be given. It should go without saying, how could any parent allow their children to be subjected to this type of perverted indoctrination? In the past, Christian children could, with parental requests, have their children opt-out of the ungodly indoctrination.    

Observations and implications of non-Christian education by notable scholars:

A bio: Gordon Haddon Clark was an American philosopher and Calvinist theologian. He was a leading figure associated with presuppositional apologetics and was chair of the Philosophy Department at Butler University for 28 years. Wikipedia

Gordon H. Clark has this to say when summing up his chapter on neutrality:

“There is no neutrality.

Obviously, the schools are not Christian. Just as obviously, they are not neutral. The Scriptures say that the fear of the Lord is the chief part of knowledge; but the schools, by omitting all reference to God, give the pupils the notion that knowledge can be had apart from God. They teach in effect that God has no control of history, that there is no plan of events that God is working out, that God does not foreordain whatsoever comes to pass. Aside from definite anti-Christian instruction to be discussed later, the public schools are not, never were, can never be, neutral. Neutrality is impossible. Let one ask what neutrality can possibly mean when God is involved. How does God judge the school system, which says to him, “O God, we neither deny nor assert thy existence; and O God, we neither obey nor disobey thy commandments; we are strictly neutral.” Let no one fail to see the point: The school system that ignores God teaches its pupils to ignore God; and this is not neutrality. It is the worst form of antagonism, for it judges God to be unimportant and irrelevant in human affairs. This is atheism.” (1)

A bio: Rousas John Rushdoony was a Calvinist philosopher, historian, and theologian and is widely credited as being the father of Christian Reconstructionism and an inspiration for the modern Christian homeschool movement. Wikipedia   

Rushdoony’s book was on the Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til, was titled By What Standard deals with many ideas relevant to education:
“The Christian thinker, laboring as he often must on alien ground, has too often embraced as his own a non-Christian principle which he believed would be fruitful in terms of Christian thought. He has made bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh a principle which he has believed would bear fruit in a Christian world-view. This resultant hybrid world-view he believed would fall heir to this world’s substance and show mastery and dominion over the human mind. In this expectation, early Christian thinkers embraced Platonism; the scholastics, Aristotelianism; the men of the enlightenment era Cartesianism and rationalism, and men of the 19th and 20th centuries, Kantianism, existentialism, and other alien brides, hoping thereby that in the dark they held Rachel. But, ‘in the morning, behold, it was Leah’!” (2)

 In his book, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum, Rushdoony analyzes both Greek and Roman education. He identified both as humanism and as statist:
“The statist purpose of humanistic education was even more clearly emphasized by the Romans. According to Grimal, “Roman morality has a very distinct aim — the subordination of the individual to the City.” Religion and piety had reference to the City, for the gods with the gods of the City, and religion, by binding man to the gods, bound them to the City of the gods. . . .

The liberal arts curriculum thus had a statist orientation. Man’s liberty, man’s salvation, was to be found in faithful subordination of himself and all his being to the City of Man. The chief end of man, a political and social animal, was to glorify the state and to serve and enjoy it all the days of his life.

It is not surprising therefore, that Christianity came into rapid conflict with Rome and the entire world. It was a battle between Christ and Caesar, between the City of God and the City of Man, for control of the world and of history. One hand, the emphasis was on the triune God and His eternal decree, and on the other hand the emphasis was on the primacy of time, on the civil order as the order of the incarnation and divinity, and on the temporal decree of the total state.” (3)

Rushdoony makes another astute observation that has implications for all of life and in particular, education:
“God is thus the principle of definition, of law, and of all things. He is the premise of all thinking, and the necessary presupposition for every sphere of thought. It is blasphemy therefore to attempt to “prove” God; God is the necessary presupposition of all proof. To ground any sphere of thought, life, or action, or any sphere of being, on anything other than the triune God is thus blasphemy. Education without God as its premise, law which does not presuppose God and rest on His law, a civil order which does not derive all authority from God, or a family whose foundation is not God’s word, is blasphemous.” (4)

 A bio: John Gresham Machen, (born July 28, 1881, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.—died January 1, 1937, Bismarck, North Dakota), American Presbyterian theologian and fundamentalist leader.

Born to a prominent family in Baltimore, Machen later studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906, he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He criticized liberal Protestantism as unbiblical and unhistorical in his Christianity and Liberalism (1923) and struggled to preserve the conservative character of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He left Princeton in 1929 after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1914, Machen was suspended from the ministry by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., for his opposition to modern liberal revision of the 17th-century English Presbyterian creed, the Westminster Confession. Following his suspension from the ministry, he helped found the Presbyterian Church in America, which became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1939. Machen was a major theological voice in support of conservative Christianity. Encyclopedia Britannica

 Machen had this to say about public education in 1923:  “A public-school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument for tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the Middle Ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective.” (5)

 Another incisive observation from Pretoria, South Africa:  “What is more, the Old and New Testaments are not only the basis and pattern for Christian education; they also constitute its content. Christian education is through and through about these two Testaments, otherwise it ceases to be Christian education, unless it has been used to mean the approach in all teaching, and not the content. It is for this reason that Paul the apostle reminded Timothy, “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for  teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16, 17). It is against this background that the history of Christian (Religious) education is traced from the Old and New Testaments.” (6)

 Christian education is in direct conflict humanistic or statist ungodly education. Christian education requires a sacrifice financially; nevertheless, Christian education is the standard and the fountainhead of all knowledge. This view can be called “Scripturalism.”  

 Scripturalism, the following is a paraphrase of Gordon H. Clark on the Christian starting principle:  “Scripturalism (all knowledge must be contained within a system and deduced from its starting principles, in the Christian case, the Bible).”

 From the principle of Scripturalism, the implications of knowledge are stated. The Bible contains the Christian’s starting principles or presuppositions. Therefore, it can be said that God speaks to us in the Scriptures with human language utilizing logically structured sentences in which He tells us the difference between right and wrong. The Christian worldview has the necessary preconditions to talk intelligently and give justification for the use of logic, science, and morality. In ungodly education, nothing can be defined as right or wrong since there is no fixed law system.  

 The mixing or synthesizing a God-centered and man as the ultimate determiner of interpretation-centered education is the destruction of knowledge. How exactly? The following quotes from Cornelius Van Til explain:
“How shortsighted and how uncultured, then, are the efforts of believers in Christ when they seek for snatches of worldly culture for themselves by placing themselves, as they think, on common ground with those who are not believers in Christ. How dishonoring to their Christ if they allow that any culture endures unless it be because of the power of his resurrection in the world. If you have been taken out of the miry clay, do you jump back into it because of some glistening objects that you see in it? Do you run back into the house now almost burned to the ground in order to save your silverware? It is only those who are believers in Christ that will inherit the earth and all the fulness thereof.” (7)

“Non-Christian education is Godless education . . . Godless or nontheistic education is therefore also non- or anti-Christian education. Godless, non-Christian education naturally becomes humanistic, i.e., man-centered. If man does not need to live for God, he may live for himself. If then we want a God-centered and truly Christian education, we will have to break away completely from the educational philosophy that surrounds us.” (8)

 In closing, the Bible, the fountainhead of all education and knowledge:

“The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”  – Immanuel Kant

“The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures…[and] are found upon comparison to be part of the original law of nature. Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.” – Sir William Blackstone

“The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.” – Patrick Henry

“Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure; its examples are captivating and noble. In no Book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant, and by teaching all the same they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith.” – Fisher Ames

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – James Madison

“By removing the Bible from schools we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing criminals and so little pains to prevent crime. Take the Bible out of our schools and there would be an explosion in crime.” – Benjamin Rush

“If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” – Daniel Webster

“Education is useless without the Bible,” “The Bible was America’s basic textbook in all fields,” “God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.” – Noah Webster

“It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” – Horace Greeley

“The Bible is the only force known to history that has freed entire nations from corruption while simultaneously giving them political freedom.” – Vishal Mangalwadi

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


 1.      Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education, (Jefferson, Maryland, Trinity Foundation), p. 60.

2.      R. J. Rushdoony, By What Standard? (Tyler, Texas, Thobern Press, reprinted 1983), p. 1-2.

3.      R. J. Rushdoony, The Philosophy Of The Christian Curriculum (Vallecito, CA, Ross House Book, 1981), p. 5-6.

4.      R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1984), p. 127.

5.      John Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans Publishing), p. 14.

6.      THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION The University of Pretoria, Chapter 5, page 2.

7.      Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1979), p. 8.

8.      Louis Berkhof, Cornelius Van Til, Foundations of Christian Education, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, reprinted 1990), p. 3.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

 For more study:

 Education and Upbringing in the Old Testament – by H. J. SCHILDER


 A Christian Philosophy Of Education by Gordon H. Clark

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What does the Bible say about burial and cremation?

What does the Bible say about burial and cremation?                            By Jack Kettler

What does the Bible say regarding putting to rest the dead? In this study, both the Old and New Testaments will be surveyed to answer this question.   

Old Testament texts that mention burial:

“And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 23:19)

“The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.” (Genesis 25:10)

“But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying place. And he said I will do as thou hast said.” (Genesis 47:30)

“And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite.” (Genesis 49:29)

“There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.” (Genesis 49:31)

“His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 21:23)

“So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He [God] buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” (Deuteronomy 34:5-6)

“Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.” (2 Samuel 19:37)

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

New Testament Texts that mention burial:

“But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:22)

“Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.” (John 11:38)

“But Mary stood without at the sepulchre [tomb μνημεῖον (mnēmeion)] weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.” (John 20:11-12)

“Men and brethren let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” (Acts 2:29)

The doctrine of the resurrection taught with the example of burial:

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in resurrection.” (Romans 6:4-5)

“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 2:12)

In the Romans and Colossians texts, a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is taught using the example of Christ’s death and burial, namely, the resurrection. In and of itself, this a compelling argument for traditional Christian burial.

The Bible and cremation:

The Bible is silent about cremation as an alternative burial choice. It would seem therefore, that cremation is not forbidden. If the Bible in the Old and New Testaments do not specifically condemn practice, the church should be careful to outlaw a practice.    

There are cases of burning the dead; it should be noticed that these cases are not burials.

“If a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.” (Leviticus 20:14)  

“And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.” (Leviticus 21:9)

“And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.” (Joshua 7:15) In the Old Testament, Achan and his family were stoned and then burned.

Another example of burning and judgment is “Thus saith the LORD; for three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime.” (Amos 2:1)

These examples of burnings were a judgment, and therefore cannot be considered an alternative to burials.

To Bury or Cremate? (Updated) by R. Scott Clark:

“Update: Diarmaid MacCulloch agrees (HT: Russell Moore via Aquila Report). “As hellfire receded, there advanced the literal fires of the crematorium.”

First published in 2006. Republished Aug 13, 2009.

Warning: If You’re Eating, You Might Want to Wait to Read This.

The question not infrequently comes to me: “What about cremation?”

This is an inherently difficult question because it touches a very personal and private decision: what to do with the remains of a loved one or what should be done with one’s own remains (it doesn’t get much more personal).

It’s also difficult because these are difficult decisions often made in a very emotional time.

Nevertheless, there are biblical patterns and doctrines from which we can learn and apply to this situation.

There is a consistent biblical pattern of burial of human remains. Perhaps the most outstanding OT example is Abraham’s quest to bury Sarah (Gen. 23) as a sojourner in a foreign land. Other significant examples could be cited (e.g., Jacob, Joseph and others). This is clearly the biblical pattern, carrying right through the care given to the deceased body of our Lord himself.

According to the Apostle Paul, the biblical pattern was not grounded in sentiment but in a conviction: the resurrection. In 1 Cor. 15 the Apostle Paul used an agrarian metaphor to explain the hope of the resurrection. According to Paul, our bodies are like seeds planted in hope, in the expectation of a glorious (if unusual!) harvest: the resurrection body, i.e., a glorified human body.

As my dear friend and colleague Steve Baugh graciously pointed out to me in 1985 or so, the act of cremation is at odds with the act of planting a body in the soil. For one thing, the imagery is not the same at all. Burial is done with regard to the body’s status as part of the image of God. We don’t just have a body. We are body and soul. That is who we are as image-bearers.

In modernity we’ve been taught to regard the body as a machine and in our disposable age we know what to do with broken down machines: we bin them. But the body isn’t just a machine. The materialists are wrong. However much we may think we know about the body, it is not just a machine. We are persons made in the divine image. Our bodies are part of our personhood. That is why it is wrong, a violation of creational law, to murder (Gen. 9:1-6). To attack the body is to attack the image of God.

Thus, burial is not just a cultural custom. It’s an act of faith. When there is a choice between burial and cremation, the latter isn’t just a convenience or an economy, it’s a message about the body and the nature of our humanity and our status as image-bearers.

To be sure, there may be times when burial is simply impossible. In those cases, we must act like sojourners and make do, but just because some are forced by circumstances to a difficult and unhappy choice doesn’t make that choice desirable or preferable.

As to expense, at least some of this difficulty can be faced by planning and wise stewardship. We’re Calvinists. We should expect to die (if the Lord doesn’t come first). Who believes in sin and death more than we? In that case, knowing that the funeral business is just that, a business in search of profits, if we investigate, we can probably discover less expensive modes of burial. Don’t expect the funeral home to tell you how to be buried inexpensively.

As we contemplate the last thing that will likely happen to our bodies, let us at least give some serious thought to the message we are sending about the body and its relation to the image and to human dignity rooted in the image of God. If cremation is unavoidable, we can at least arrange some clear testimony to the hope of the resurrection. If, however, cremation is just one option among many, then we must ask, are we, as much as lies within us, testifying to our hope of the bodily resurrection or are we unintentionally sending another message? There’s no question whether God can and shall reconstitute bodies at the resurrection, the question is what message are we sending by our acts? UPDATE 21 August 2009” (1)

Robert Scott Clark is an American Reformed pastor and seminary professor at Westminster Seminary, in California. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Recovering the Reformed Confession.

From the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) Directory of Worship?

“Article 196 of the Constitution says, “Members of the Church, having died in the faith and hope of the Gospel, shall receive a Christian burial; the burial service may be conducted according to the order prescribed by the Church.” While this sentence does not explicitly forbid cremation, it explicitly requires “Christian burial,” a term, which implicitly requires bodily interment, for “Christian burial” has been historically defined in that way. Thus, a straightforward reading of the Constitution does not conceive of the burial of cremains as a rite of the church, since no body can be present.” (2)
See the link for the whole RCUS report in the for more study section.

In closing:

Biblically, there is no direct command for a burial. However, in Scripture, burial is the only method seen along with biblical analogies. 

The Christian tradition of burial has additional aspects to consider. For example, in the First Century, bodies before burial or entombment were washed and anointed with spices. In other words, care and respect are shown. Additionally, during the present time, prior to burial bodies are prepared and clothed and placed in caskets to slow the process of decay and protect the remains. In some cases, personal effects are entombed with the buried saint. It is common at funeral services to hear the phrase regarding the burial being described as a sendoff.  

In cremation, none of the care emphasized in the above paragraph happens. Cremation has been objectionable to many Christians as it reminds them of the lost who will be burning in Hell. Historically, cremation was practiced throughout the pagan world and later vanquished with the spread of Christianity.

One example of interest, the Hindu religion in India has practiced burning their dead and then sprinkling the ashes if possible into the Ganges River. The practice of burning the dead in India is rejected by Christians in India who see burial as a witness to the Hindus of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Also noteworthy, in Eastern Orthodoxy, the practice of cremation is rejected:

Question: Can you tell me if the Orthodox Church allows cremation?

“According to Byzantine Canon Law, cremation is not permitted. Sources state that the original ban arose out of consideration for the fact that within pagan and possibly gnostic circles cremation was commonly practiced. There was also the implication that through cremation the value of physical creation, and specifically the human body, was denied.”

 According to Orthodoxy, cremation is associated with paganism.

 This writer takes the position of the RCUS as best reflecting the biblical standard. Christian burial signifies Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Because of this, Christians are buried in the hope of the resurrection.

 Those that choose cremation should not be condemned. Many today, choose a cremation because of finances. Churches should consider in their mercy ministry funds to assist those financially to have a burial. In addition, those making the choice of cremation should be encouraged to place the remains in a cemetery with a grave marker or headstone. Why? The gravesite or internment service can be a powerful place to testify or bear witness to the truth of the gospel.

 Burial and Scriptural analogies:

 As seen in Daniel 12:2, Scripture depicts death as sleep and why bodies are preserved in burials. The grave connects sleep with a bed. In cremation, there are no Scriptural analogies, which correspond with this method and the hope of the resurrection, only judgment. 

 The apostle Paul speaking of the human body, “It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:43-44

 Paul teaches that burial is a sowing or planting of the body in 1 Corinthians 15:43-44. Some modern translations instead of “sown” use “buried” or “planted.” The sowing of seeds involves planting them. In these texts, the apostle highlights the body being “sown in corruption” and “raised in incorruption.” Christian burial where the body is laid at rest is analogous biblically to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:43-44. Cremation does not correspond to rest or sleep, which is a temporal state awaiting the glorious resurrection. 

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


 1.      R. Scott Clark, To Bury or Cremate? The Heidelblog First published in 2006. Republished Aug 13, 2009.

2.      Report of the Study Committee of The Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States February 23, 2019.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

Magnifying Christ in My Body: Is Cremation a Legitimate Alternative to Christian Burial?

A Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Analysis. Report of the Study Committee of The Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States February 23, 2019

Why Cremation Is Pagan, Burial Is Christian by Eric Metaxas

THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church book of order Pages 189-206

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16, head coverings, for today?

1 Corinthians 11:2-16, head coverings, for today?                       By Jack Kettler

Should men wear hats in church? If not, what about women and head coverings?                                   

“2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:2-16 KJV)

An overview of the text:

·         Verses 2-3. the headship principle

·         Verses 4-6. how the principle of headship is applied

·         Verses 7-10. the significance of the created order

·         Verses 11-12. the created order and the sexes

·         Verses 13-16. apostolic authority and the light of nature

Introductory comments:

What is Paul teaching in this selection from his first letter to the Corinthians? How can it be summarized, and is it for today? The apostle is teaching about the created order of men and women displayed by long hair or head coverings.

Are head coverings for today? The reason why this is a question is that verse 16, which seems to in spite of what has gone before in the section of the text, invalidate the church practice of head coverings.

What is the apostle referring to when he says, “we have no such custom” in verse 16? Is Paul contradicting what he taught in verses 2-15 regarding the created order of men and women in verse 16?

The key to understanding this section from 1 Corinthians comes down to a correct understanding of verse 16 and what the apostle is referring to when he says, “we have no such custom.” What is this custom? Is “custom” referring to what he had just taught regarding the created order and the symbols of this order?

For Christians today, being far removed from the 1st Century, it is not readily apparent as to the apostle’s meaning of verse 16. To start, for the conservative exegete, biblically and logically, Paul cannot be controverting what he had just taught in the preceding verses without being guilty of a blatant contradiction.   

Historically, it is evident that women have worn head coverings such as veils or hats in worship services, and men have not. Without fear of contradiction, this tradition is based upon our reading from 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. The head covering practice should be referred to as apostolic doctrine rather than a tradition since the use of tradition confuses the reader into thinking historic theological tradition and “custom” are the same.        

The following entries will provide some historical commentary to what Paul is teaching, particularly in verses 5, 7, 10, and 13-16.

From Vincent’s Word Studies on 1 Corinthians 11:5:

“Her head uncovered

Rev., unveiled. The Greek women rarely appeared in public, but lived in strict seclusion. Unmarried women never quitted their apartments, except on occasions of festal processions, as either spectators or participants. Even after marriage, they were largely confined to the gynaeconitis or women’s rooms. Thus Euripides: “As to that which brings the reproach of a bad reputation upon her who remains not at home, giving up the desire of this, I tarried in my dwelling” (“Troades” 649). And Menander: “The door of the court is the boundary fixed for the free woman.” The headdress of Greek women consisted of nets, hair-bags, or kerchiefs, sometimes covering the whole head. A shawl, which enveloped the body, was also often thrown over the head, especially at marriages or funerals. This costume the Corinthian women had disused in the Christian assemblies, perhaps as an assertion of the abolition of sexual distinctions, and the spiritual equality of the woman with the man in the presence of Christ. This custom was discountenanced by Paul as striking at the divinely ordained subjection of the woman to the man. Among the Jews, in ancient times, both married and unmarried women appeared in public unveiled. The later Jewish authorities insisted on the use of the veil.

All one as if she were shaven

Which would be a sign either of grief or of disgrace. The cutting off the hair is used by Isaiah as a figure of the entire destruction of a people by divine retribution. Isaiah 7:20 Among the Jews a woman convicted of adultery had her hair shorn, with the formula: “Because thou hast departed from the manner of the daughters of Israel, who go with their head covered, therefore that has befallen thee which thou hast chosen.” According to Tacitus, among the Germans an adulteress was driven from her husband’s house with her head shaved; and the Justinian code prescribed this penalty for an adulteress, whom, at the expiration of two years, her husband refused to receive again. Paul means that a woman praying or prophesying uncovered puts herself in public opinion on a level with a courtesan.” (1)

Vincent, in his comments, says, “This custom was discountenanced by Paul.” If it can be determined, what custom was discountenanced, or which custom Paul refused to approve, the question of the continuity of head coverings for today can be answered. In refusing to approve of this custom, Paul gives his reason that it was because the custom was “striking at the divinely ordained subjection of the woman to the man.”   

According to Vincent, (not all Greek women) but the Corinthian women were proclaiming their right to cast off the traditional practices and symbols, which would be head coverings that signified the created order. The Corinthian women were praying or prophesying with uncovered heads.

In verse 10, “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” Verse 10 has perplexed commentators over the centuries.

From Vincent’s Word Studies on 1 Corinthians 11:10:

“Power on her head (ἐξουσίαν)

Not in the primary sense of liberty or permission, but authority. Used here of the symbol of power, i.e., the covering upon the head as a sign of her husband’s authority. So Rev., a sign of authority.

Because of the angels

The holy angels, who were supposed by both the Jewish and the early Christian Church to be present in worshipping assemblies. More, however, seems to be meant than “to avoid exciting disapproval among them.” The key-note of Paul’s thought is subordination according to the original divine order. Woman best asserts her spiritual equality before God, not by unsexing herself, but by recognizing her true position and fulfilling its claims, even as do the angels, who are ministering as well as worshipping spirits (Hebrews 1:4). She is to fall in obediently with that divine economy of which she forms a part with the angels, and not to break the divine harmony, which especially asserts itself in worship, where the angelic ministers mingle with the earthly worshippers; nor to ignore the example of the holy ones who keep their first estate, and serve in the heavenly sanctuary.” (2)

For Reformed Christians, John Calvin’s view on 1 Corinthians 11:16 must be considered:

“16. But if any man seem a contentious person is one whose humor inclines him to stir up disputes, and does not care what becomes of the truth. Of this description are all who, without any necessity, abolish good and useful customs — raise disputes respecting matters that are not doubtful — who do not yield to reasonings — who cannot endure that any one should be above them. Of this description, also, are those (akoinonetoi) would be singular persons who, from a foolish affectation, aim at some new and unusual way of acting. Such persons Paul does not reckon worthy of being replied to, inasmuch as contention is a pernicious thing, and ought, therefore, to be banished from the Churches. By this he teaches us, that those that are obstinate and fond of quarrelling, should rather be restrained by authority than confuted by lengthened disputations. For you will never have an end of contentions, if you are disposed to contend with a combative person until you have vanquished him; for though vanquished a hundred times, he would argue still. Let us therefore carefully mark this passage, that we may not allow ourselves to be carried away with needless disputations, provided at the same time we know how to distinguish contentious persons. For we must not always reckon as contentious the man who does not acquiesce in our decisions, or who ventures to contradict us; but when temper and obstinacy show themselves, let us then say with Paul, that contentions are at variance with the custom of the Church.” (3)

Calvin believed the custom the apostle is referring to in verse 16 were to those given to arguing and being contentious about the symbols of the created order.

Our next entry is from Thomas R. Schreiner. Schreiner makes a point that verse 16 does not cancel out the commands given previously in verses 4-9. If so, this would be a serious contradiction in Scripture.

Thomas R. Schreiner is an American New Testament scholar. He is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Thomas R. Schreiner on verse 16:

“Paul returns in the final paragraph (verses 13-16) to the main burden of the text: women’s wearing head coverings. This is another indication that verses 11-12 do not cancel out the commands given in verses 4-9. Here Paul appeals to the Corinthians’ own judgment (11:13), confident that “the very nature of things” will instruct them with respect to what is fitting or proper. What is the content of the instruction given by nature? Nature teaches that “if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,” while “if a woman has long hair, it is her glory.” What is the meaning of the word nature (physis) here? Is Paul simply saying that human tradition and customs have made a distinction between the hair length of men and women? The use of the word practice (sune ̄theia) in 11:16 could support this interpretation. But Paul’s use of nature elsewhere and the use of teach suggest that he is referring to the natural and instinctive sense of right and wrong that God has planted in us, especially with respect to sexuality. This sense of what is appropriate or fitting has been implanted in human beings from creation.28 Romans 1:26-27 is an illuminating parallel because the same word is used. Women and men involved in a homosexual relationship have exchanged the natural function of sexuality for what is contrary to nature, i.e., they have violated the God-given created order and natural instinct, and therefore are engaging in sexual relations with others of the same sex. Nature teaches, then, in the sense that the natural instincts and psychological perceptions of masculinity and femininity are manifested in particular cultural situations. Thus, a male instinctively and naturally shrinks away from doing anything that his culture labels as feminine. So, too, females have a natural inclination to dress like women rather than men. Paul’s point, then, is that how men and women wear their hair is a significant indication of whether they are abiding by the created order. Of course, what constitutes long hair is often debated-what is appropriately masculine or feminine in hairstyle may vary widely from culture to culture.29The function of verses 13-15 in the argument is to show that the wearing of a head covering by a woman is in accord with the God-given sense that women and men are different. For a woman to dress like a man is inappropriate because it violates the distinction God has ordained between the sexes. And, according to Paul, if a woman prophesies in church without wearing the symbol of being under male authority-i.e., if she prophesies while dressed like a man-she is in effect negating the distinction between men and women that God has ordained from creation. In verse 16, Paul concludes his argument by saying, “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” Now, some have said that Paul actually rejects the wearing of head coverings by women with these words because the Greek literally says, “we have no such practice” (toiaute ̄n sune ̄theian), and thus they conclude that the practice of wearing head coverings is renounced here by Paul. But such an understanding is surely wrong. Paul in this verse is addressing the contentious, who, the previous context makes clear, do not want to wear a head covering. The practice of certain Corinthian women who refuse to wear a head covering is what Paul refers to when he says, “we have no such practice.” Thus, he says to the contentious that both the apostolic circle (“we”) and the rest of the churches adhere to the custom of head coverings. The instructions Paul has given reflect his own view of the matter and the practice of the other churches. Those who see this advice as limited only to the Corinthian situation have failed to take this verse seriously enough. Paul perceives his instructions here as binding for all churches in the Greco-Roman world. Indeed, the other churches already adhere to the practice Paul recommends here. Such a universal word at the conclusion of the text is a strong indication that the principle that underlies this passage cannot simply be dismissed as cultural.” (4)

See Schreiner’s full article at the link below in the for more study section.


In the 1st Century, women wore head coverings, most commonly to show they were married and also in worship.

In verse 16, Paul is referring to a practice of Greek women in Corinth that were in opposition to the created order and accompanying symbols and traditions. It seems inescapable that the apostolic directive regarding head coverings is still in place. Paul’s directive, which is from the created order, or light of nature, proves that men and women are distinct. Paul uses similar language in “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature” (Romans 1:26). Against nature or light of nature must mean natural revelation. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 11:16 cannot be considered a temporal, cultural phenomenon like Jesus wearing a robe, thus requiring everyone to wear robes.

In 1 Corinthians 11:16, two words are juxtaposed, contentious, and custom. The contentious person is against apostolic doctrine, namely, the outward symbols of the created order. The apostle is saying the church has no custom of debating endlessly about this teaching. 

John Murray was born in Bonar Bridge, Scotland. He was a Scottish-born Calvinist theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary and then left to help found Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught for many years.

Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter by John Murray:

“Badbea, Bonar Bridge, Ardgay, Ross-shire IV2 43AR, Scotland

16 November 1973

Mr. V. Connors

Presbytery Clerk

Evangelical Presbyterian Church


Dear Mr. Connors,

I am in receipt of your letter of the 8th. I very deeply appreciate your request even though I may not be able to provide any definitive advice on the questions asked. Allow me to give my judgement on the second question first.

If the Presbytery becomes convinced that a head covering for women belongs to the decorum governing the conduct of women in the worship of God, then I think Presbytery should declare accordingly. I would not suppose it necessary expressly to legislate. I think it would be enough to make a resolution for the instruction and guidance of ministers, sessions, and people. A higher judicatory has both right and duty to offer to those under its jurisdiction, guidance respecting divine obligation. This has been recognised in Reformed Churches throughout the world.

Your main question turns, of course, on the interpretation of I Corinthians 11:2-16. Permit me to offer some of my reflections in order.

1. Since Paul appeals to the order of creation (vss. 3b, vss. 7ff.), it is totally indefensible to suppose that what is in view and enjoined had only local or temporary relevance. The ordinance of creation is universally and perpetually applicable, as also are the implications for conduct arising therefrom.

2. I am convinced that a head covering is definitely in view forbidden for the man (vss. 4, & 7) and enjoined for the woman (vss. 5, 6, 15). In the case of the woman the covering is not simply her long hair. This supposition would make nonsense of verse 6. For the thought there is, that if she does not have a covering she might as well be shorn or shaven, a supposition without any force whatever if the hair covering is deemed sufficient. In this connection it is not proper to interpret verse 15b as meaning that the hair was given the woman to take the place of the head covering in view of verses 5, 6. The Greek of verse 15 is surely the Greek of equivalence as used quite often in the New Testament, and so the Greek can be rendered: “the hair is given to her for a covering.” This is within the scope of the particular argument of verses 14, 15 and does not interfere with the demand for the additional covering contemplated in verses 5, 6, 13. Verses 14 and 15 adduce a consideration from the order of nature in support of that which is enjoined earlier in the passage but is not itself tantamount to it. In other words, the long hair is an indication from “nature” of the differentiation between men and women, and so the head covering required (vss. 5, 6, 13) is in line with what “nature” teaches.

3. There is good reason for believing that the apostle is thinking of conduct in the public assemblies of the Church of God and of worship exercises therein in verse 17, this is clearly the case, and verse 18 is confirmatory. But there is a distinct similarity between the terms of verse 17 and of verse 2. Verse 2 begins, “Now I praise you” and verse 17, “Now in this . . . I praise you not”. The virtually identical expressions, the one positive and the other negative, would suggest, if not require, that both have in view the behaviour of the saints in their assemblies, that is, that in respect of denotation the same people are in view in the same identity as worshippers. If a radical difference, that between private and public, were contemplated, it would be difficult to maintain the appropriateness of the contrast between “I praise you” and “I praise you not”.

4. Beyond question it is in reference to praying and prophesying that the injunctions pertain, the absence of head covering for men and the presence for women. It might seem, therefore, that the passage has nothing to do with a head covering for women in the assemblies of the Church if they are not engaged in praying or prophesying, that is, in leading in prayer or exercising the gift of prophesying. And the implication would be that only when they performed these functions were they required to use head covering. The further implication would be that they would be at liberty to perform these functions provided they wore head gear. This view could easily be adopted if it were not so that Paul forbids such exercises on the part of women and does so in the same epistle, (I Cor. 14:33b-36): “As in all the Churches, for it is not permitted to them to speak” (vss. 33b-34a). It is impossible to think that Paul would, by implication, lend approval in chapter 11, to what he so expressly prohibits in chapter 14. Hence we shall have to conclude that he does not contemplate praying or prophesying on the part of women in the Church in chapter 11. The question arises: how can this be, and how can we interpret 11:5, 6, 13? It is possible to interpret the verses in chapter 11 in a way that is compatible with chapter 14:33b-36. It is as follows: —

a. In chapter 11 the decorum prescribed in 14:33b-36 is distinctly in view and Paul is showing its propriety. Praying and prophesying are functions that imply authority, the authority that belongs to the man as distinguished from the woman according to the ordinance of creation. The man in exercising this authority in praying and prophesying must not wear a head covering. Why not? The head covering is the sign of subjection, the opposite of the authority that belongs to him, exemplified in praying and prophesying, hence 11:4, 7. In a word, head covering in praying and prophesying would be a contradiction.

b. But precisely here enters the relevance of verses 5, 6, 13 as they pertain to women. If women are to pray and prophesy in the assemblies, they perform functions that imply authority and would require therefore, to remove the head covering. To do so with the head covering would involve the contradiction referred to already. But it is the impropriety of removing the head covering that is enforced in 11:5, 6 & 13. In other words, the apostle is pressing home the impropriety of the exercise of these functions — praying and prophesying — on the part of women by showing the impropriety of what it would involve, namely, the removal of the head covering. And so the rhetorical question of verse 13: “Is it proper for a woman to pray to God unveiled?”

c. This interpretation removes all discrepancy between 11:5, 6, 13 and 14:33b-36 and it seems to me feasible, and consonant with the whole drift of 11:2-16.

5. The foregoing implies that the head covering for women was understood to belong to the decorum of public worship.

6. The above line of thought would derive confirmation from I Cor. 11:10. Admittedly the reference to the angels is not immediately perspicuous. But a reasonable interpretation is that the presence of the angels with the people of God and therefore their presence in the congregations of the saints. What is being pleaded is the offence given to the holy angels when the impropriety concerned mars the sanctity of God’s worship. But, in any case, the obligation asserted is apparent. It is that the woman ought to have upon her head the sign of the authority to which she is subject, in other words, the sign of her subjection. But this subjection pertains throughout and not simply when in the exercise of praying and prophesying according to the supposition that such is permitted. I submit, therefore, that the verse concerned (vs. 10) enunciates a requirement that is general within the scope of the subject with which Paul is dealing, namely, the decorum of worship in the assembly of the saints.

On these grounds my judgment is that presupposed in the Apostle’s words is the accepted practice of head covering for women in the assemblies of the Church, that apparently this part of decorum was recognised, and that the main point of verses 5, 6, 10, 13 was the impropriety of any interruption of the practice if women were to pray or prophesy, for, in that event, it would be necessary to remove the covering in order to signify the authority that praying and prophesying entailed, an authority not possessed by women, a non-possession signified, in turn, by the use of the covering.

If you so desire I could send you two copies of the Westminster Theological Journal in which opposing interpretations are given, one by Noel Weeks and the other by James B. Hurley. My interpretation has been proposed by Noel Weeks and I acknowledge my debt to him. But the argument as developed is my own. If I send you these copies of the Journal they would have to be sent by surface mail and might take two months to reach you.

With my kind regards to you and the members of your Presbytery,

I am

Sincerely yours,

John Murray” (5)

Historical Quotes:
On the Veiling of Women, “that not nature only, but also her own will may have a part in her acknowledgment of subjection.” “For her to go without a head covering, contrary to Paul’s command, is an indecency.” – John Chrysostom (347-407)

John Chrysostom, Homily 26 (1 Corinthians 11:2-16). Philip Schaff, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1889), 153-154. And John Chrysostom, Homily 15 (Ephesians 4:31)

“It is not becoming even in married women to uncover their hair since the Apostle commands women to keep their heads covered” (Letter 245, To Possidius). – Augustine of Hippo, Epistula CCXLV.

“For that reason, the wife wears a headdress, that is, the veil on her head, as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians in the seventh chapter, that she is not free but under obedience to her husband.” – Martin Luther, Sermon on Marriage, January 5, 1525.

“It is dishonorable to the female sex to lay aside her veil.” – David Dickerson (Scottish theologian; (1583 – 1663) from his Commentaries on the Epistles

The apostle Paul provided “sufficient reasons for that order of covering or veiling the woman,” – George Gillespie; (Scottish theologian; 1613 – 1648) The Works of Mr. George Gillespie, (R. Ogle and Oliver & Boyd, 1846), p. 125.

“For this cause ought the woman to have power”, that is a covering, “on her head, because of the angels” 1 Cor. 11:10…Methinks, holy and beloved sisters, you should be content to wear this power or badge…” – John Bunyan,

The Bunyan quote is from Henry Stebbing, “A Case of Conscience Resolved (Women’s Prayer Meetings),” The Entire Works of John Bunyan, Vol 4 (London: City Road and Ivy Lane, 1860), p. 418.

“The argument of the Apostle will not hold now, covering the head being not a sign of subjection [in our culture]’… I answer, Christian women may… observe the Apostle’s injunction [for reasons beyond the issue of submission, because]… there are other reasons, which will always hold… [Regarding Paul’s mention of ‘angels’ in v.10,] this reason is perpetual.” – John Edwards from An Enquiry Into Four Remarkable Texts of the New Testament, (J. Hayes, 1692), p. 130-135.

…secondly, verses 5, 13, that, on the contrary, that for a woman to appear or to perform any religious function in the Christian assembly, unveiled, is a glaring impropriety, because it is contrary to the subordination of the position assigned her by her Maker, and to the modesty and reserve suitable to her sex; and even nature settles the point by giving her long hair as her natural veil. Even as good taste and a natural sense of propriety would protest against a woman’s going in public shorn of that beautiful badge and adornment of her sex, like a rough soldier or a labourer, even so clearly does nature herself sustain God’s law in requiring the woman always modestly covered in the sanctuary. The holy angels who are present as invisible spectators, hovering over the Christian assemblies, would be shocked by women professing godliness publicly throw off this appropriate badge of their position (verse 10). The woman, then, has a right to the privileges of public worship and the sacraments…but she must always do this veiled or covered.” – Robert L. Dabney, from his Discussions Evangelical and Theological, vol. 2, p. 104.

“Do you think you and I have sufficiently considered that we are always looked upon by angels, and that they desire to learn by us the wisdom of God? The reason why our sisters appear in the House of God with their heads covered is ‘because of the angels’. The apostle says that a woman is to have a covering upon her head, because of the angels, since the angels are present in the assembly and they mark every act of indecorum, and therefore everything is to be conducted with decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits” – (C. H. Spurgeon

From his sermon on Eph. 3:10, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 8, p. 263.

“The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century.” Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ, which is ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Tim. 3:15)?” – R. C. Sproul, Source https ://

“During my high school years, when I went to church on Sunday morning, I never saw a   woman in that church (this was a mainline Presbyterian church) whose head wasn’t covered with a hat or a veil. That is one of those customs that has simply disappeared for the most part from Christian culture.” – R. C. Sproul

R. C. Sproul, Now, That’s a Good Question! (Tyndale House Publishers, 2011) p. 347.

Ligonier Ministries relevant to head coverings:  “Our actions must conform to the principles that God has established…Do you disregard the exterior aspects of religion, saying the heart is all that matters? If so, confess your pride before God today.

Whenever we have a lesson from both the Scriptures and from nature, we are doubly bound to obey. We also must recognize that it is a rule rooted in nature, not custom.

If it is shameful for a woman to have her head shaved, then she must realize that it is just as shameful for her to enter public worship with her head uncovered. We must not confuse Paul’s use of hair as ‘nature’s covering’ and the covering he is exhorting women to wear in public worship.

Nowhere does (Paul) give cultural reasons for his teaching, i.e. abusive practices of a pagan society that placed prostitutes with shorn heads in the temple. Paul points back to God’s established order in nature. Whenever a teaching in Scripture refers to ‘creation ordinances’ that teaching is binding for all cultures in all ages…

The ‘rules of decorum’…regarding the worship of God are established by God Himself not by the whims of culture. It is proper for a woman to have a symbol of authority on her head…The necessity of the symbol remains fixed even as the authority of the man remains fixed.” (From ‘Table Talk’ Devotional Guide for June 17-24, 1996, pp. 36-43 – quoted by Sanseri op. cit. pp. 278f.)

 How can this apostolic directive be implemented?

 Using Presbyterian ecclesiastical terminology, the implementation of using symbolic affirmation of the created order must start at the local sessional level, then for clarification, work the way through Presbyteries, and end at the General Assembly of the Church. The General Assembly of the Church can start by appointing committees both for and against the implementation of the head covering practice.

 It is not that hard to implement:

 In this writer’s opinion, a head covering of some sort can accomplish this, such as a veil, made of lace or cloth or hat would suffice.

 A question for those that oppose head coverings in worship for women. Is it a proper decorum for men to wear hats in worship? If not, why not? Then again, if it is not proper for men to wear a head covering in worship, what is the argument for this. Admittedly, it is not 1 Corinthians 11:4. If the “we have no such custom” Paul referred to is 1 Corinthians 11:5, freeing women from head coverings, then men by implication must be free to wear hats in worship. Oh, the wonders of inconsistency.      

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


 1.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 246-247.

2.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 248.

3.      John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Corinthians, Volume XX, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), pp. 362-363.

4.      Thomas Schreiner, Head Coverings, Prophecies And The Trinity, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, online.

5.      John Murray, Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter by John Murray Badbea, Bonar Bridge, Ardgay, Ross-shire IV2 43AR, Scotland, 16 November 1973.  Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

Head Coverings in Public Worship by Brian Schwertley

What is the Head Covering in 1 Cor. 11:2-16 and Does it Apply to Us Today? By Daniel B. Wallace



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A review of government tyranny

The fed gov can kill

A review of government tyranny and a call to the people and elected representatives to stop the nomination of a potentially dangerous contender for oversight over a government agency by Jack Kettler

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905.

The globalist criminal syndicate figurehead’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) nominee, David Chipman, raises grave concerns among gun owners and everyday Americans. Why?

Sen. Mike Lee from Utah challenges the (BATF) nominee’s disdain for gun owners in a recent hearing and his inability to define an assault weapon. Chipman is on record for wanting to ban the AR-15 rifle, one of America’s most popular guns.

What can a crazed bureaucrat like Chipman, who disrespects an individual’s God-given rights, do?

Consider the leading cause of death in the Twentieth Century:

Democide is a term defined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.” According to Rummel, democide passed war as the leading cause of non-natural death in the 20th Century. Moving into the 21st Century, and it shows no signs of stopping.

See Death by Government, by R.J. Rummel, (New Brunswick, New Jersey, Transaction Publishers, 1994).

From this book, it is earned:

·         The Definition of Democide

·         Over 133,147,000 Murdered: Pre-Twentieth Century Democide


·         61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State

·         35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill

·         20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State

·         10,214,000 Murdered: Depraved Nationalist Regimes such as the Khmer Rouge Hell State


After reading this book, the conclusion is that government is the leading cause of death.

With a maniacal nominee such as Chipman, it would be prudent to review a real example of what happens when the evil intent of a government is turned on its citizens. Many readers of this blog were not even born when an unorthodox religious sect in 1993 fell into bad favor with the government. The Branch Davidians, a Seventh Day Adventist sect, were victims of democide. This democide happened as the result of the BATF carrying out a  military-styled attack on the members of a religious sect.

What follows is an article about the tragic event in 1993, and a documentary film and an investigative film, along with reviews of these films that exposed the government democide.    

                                                               First Article

Thoughts on Waco: A Remembrance                                                       © 1998 by Jack Kettler

As a Reformed believer, I praise God for the gospel and his saving grace. The main reason I have always been against the forced deprogramming of individuals in aberrational religious groups is that deprogramming removes God from the equation. What happened at Waco was far worse than forced deprogramming. The preaching of the gospel and God’s effectual calling are sufficient reasons to leave the conversion of souls in God’s control. It has been challenging to sort out all the issues involved in the Waco case because of my substantial theological disagreements with Branch Davidian theology. The teachings of the Bible give us the basis for many of our present-day civil laws. One law, in particular, is relevant and is found in Deuteronomy 17:6. Two witnesses are required to convict someone of a crime that results in the death penalty. If the state acts, it must be governed by a Biblically-based judicial process. The process of Biblical justice was completely subverted at Waco.   

The violations of the law by agents of our government at Waco, Texas, are almost beyond comprehension. The present cover-up by high officials in the Treasury and Justice Departments and numerous agents within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) has come very close to succeeding. In my opinion, the actions of the federal government agents at Waco constitute the worst abuse of law enforcement power in our nation’s history. Americans witnessed death and the destruction of the Constitution at Waco.

The following items stand out in my mind as unconscionable criminal violations of American civil liberties: 

The Branch Davidians have civil and constitutional protections enjoyed by all Americans, yet those rights were trampled on and destroyed by agents of our government. Women and young children were fired upon through the roof of their house by government agents from helicopters on Feb. 28th, 1993. Attorneys (Dick DeGuerin and Jack Zimmermann) for David Koresh and Steve Schneider (Davidian leaders) had been inside Mt. Carmel during the siege. Both men provided eyewitness testimony to the five hundred rounds fired through the roof by agents in the helicopters. 

Many people have heard portions of what are known as the “911” tapes. These tapes are truly bone-chilling: You listen to the terror in the voice of African American, Harvard University- educated attorney and Branch Davidian Wayne Martin, as he calls for help and pleads for the attack to be called off. A significant fact is that while listening to the recording, you hear Wayne Martin say, “I have a right to defend myself.” Why was the jury in the San Antonio trial of the Davidians not allowed to hear this portion of the tape?

James L. Pate, a reporter who has written for several publications such as the New York Daily News and Soldier of Fortune, has hard evidence that United States special military forces helped train BATF agents for the raid on the Branch Davidians before a search warrant was issued.  Members of the special forces accompanied BATF agents the day of their assault on the Branch Davidians. Most Americans watched on television as tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles surrounded and terrorized United State citizens. The strict rules forbidding the United States military from engaging in police action against American citizens were violated because of the fabrication by BATF agents that the Branch Davidians were manufacturing illegal drugs. The use of military force is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. A Congressional inquiry should be in order.

Another shocking violation of civil liberties is that of the alleged attempt by BATF to serve a warrant. The BATF has never gotten their story straight on what type of warrant they obtained. Was it a search or arrest warrant? The way this warrant was issued is highly irregular and deserves a special investigation in itself. Ken Maynard, FBI special agent (Ret.), has analyzed BATF agent Davy Aguilera’s probable cause affidavit and says this: “There was not even one fact in the probable cause affidavit by the BATF stating that a violation had or was taking place at Mt. Carmel. There was insufficient evidence to issue a warrant.” Why did BATF agents refuse Koresh’s offer for them to come on out and look around? Henry McMahon, the owner of Hewitt Arms, confirms this. BATF agents were in his store at the time of the offer.

Why was Sunday chosen for this raid? It was well known that this is when the highest number of people would be at Mt. Carmel. If the BATF had an arrest warrant, why not pick Koresh up when he was in town or out jogging? If the BATF had a search warrant, why not go to the complex in the daytime during the week? A number of children would be off the property at school. A number of adults would also have been in town at work. If a problem did develop, the risk of injury to innocent parties would also have been greatly minimized.  Where was the concern for the children in the planning for such a raid? KPOC-TV of Ponca City, Oklahoma, had discovered that the BATF did not even have a warrant with them when they attacked Mt. Carmel.

Who fired first?  BATF Agent Roland Ballesteros made two statements ten days after the raid to the Texas Rangers, saying that the BATF shot first, with no warning. The bullet holes in the front door of the Mt. Carmel center prove who fired first. The BATF said they arrived at the front door, and David Koresh came out. The BATF said they announced who they were and that they had a search warrant. At this point, Koresh allegedly slammed the door, and the Davidians began shooting at the agents through the front door. Unfortunately, the BATF lost (or destroyed) this crucial piece of evidence. It is clear from photographic evidence that the bullet holes in the door were all entry holes fired by the BATF agents into Mt. Carmel. This door was not destroyed in the fire: It mysteriously disappeared and was not available to the Branch Davidian defense team in San Antonio.

Many have blamed those inside Mt. Carmel for not leaving. Could the Branch Davidians have left if they wanted to? According to special correspondent Ken Fawcett, who covered the San Antonio trial, He [Mike Tolouse, member of the misnamed FBI hostage rescue team] was asked if flash grenades were used to keep people from coming out of Mt. Carmel. His reply was, “Yes, many times, including March 10th and April 19th [day of the fire].” It is a well-known fact that the FBI had sniper nests set up around the Mt. Carmel center, which created tremendous fear for those inside. In the Department of Justice report on page twenty, we learn: On March 25th, 1993, Steve Schneider was told by the FBI negotiators that no one would be allowed to come outside the compound.

There is strong evidence that members of the church were shot by FBI snipers on the eastside of the building (away from the cameras) as they tried to escape the lethal amounts of Orthocholorbenzylidene Malononitrile (CS) gas sprayed in and the ferret rounds fired into the building. The FBI agents responsible for this murderous act were stationed in the “Sierra Two” sniper’s nest. Mike McNulty, chairman of Citizens Organization for Public Safety, has a “Forward Looking Infra-Red” (FLIR) film taken from an airplane flying above Mt. Carmel to support this allegation. This shooting happened around 10:30 in the morning. 

The death of Jimmy Riddle confirms this. Riddle was killed with a high-powered rifle bullet to the head.  His body was found a few feet from Koresh’s body. Koresh’s body was burned so badly that it was almost impossible to determine who it was. Jimmy Riddle’s body was not burned because of the dirt that covered his body. Mr. McNulty believes he can substantiate the theory that the tanks, equipped with scoop blades, pushed dirt and some of the Davidians who were gunned down back into the building, thus explaining Riddle’s body being covered with dirt and not burning.

On April 19th, 1993, the Branch Davidians, women and children included, had lethal levels of CS gas along with the combustible dispersal agent methylene chloride pumped into their church-home for six straight hours. Branch Davidian church members were crushed by tanks driving into the building. Women and children were crushed and buried alive (Judy Schneider, 41* and Audrey Martinez, 13) as a result of the tanks collapsing the building down upon them. Did one of the tanks collapse part of the building down upon the entrance to the concrete walk-in cooler, trapping thirty-eight women and children from any hope of escape? Did this same tank collapse a section of the walk-in cooler’s ceiling, crushing to death a number of women and children? Why did the tanks collapse the stairways? This trapped people on the second floor from being able to escape the building once the fire started. The entrance to the underground shelter was also destroyed, thus eliminating another avenue of escape.

Who started the fire? The fire started as the result of the criminally negligent methods of dispersing the deadly CS gas (pyrotechnic ferret rounds). Mike McNulty has a “Forward Looking Infra-Red” (FLIR) film that proves the fire started in the section of the building called the “dog run” due directly to a pyrotechnic device. The shell casing to this device has been recovered and identified. Another fire started after a tank knocked over a lantern. Pyrotechnic devices have started fires on numerous occasions. Page sixty-three of the S.W.A.T. team manual says that some pyrotechnic devices will start fires. FBI agent Mike Tolouse admitted that “flash grenades” were used at Mt. Carmel. According to James Bovard, a nationally known writer, “the FBI’s plan was to immediately and totally immerse the place in gas, and throw in flash-bangs.” Col. Rex Applegate, who invented the ferret round, said, “Any flash-bang [grenade] will start fires.” Col. Applegate is not sure how the fire started. He says: “It could have been a flash-bang, or a pyrotechnic device that was shot in there.” Most disturbing of all is that the (FLIR) tape or film gives strong evidence that after the fire started, government agents from two locations outside the cafeteria fired automatic gunfire into the building, thus preventing the Davidians from escaping the conflagration. Approximately forty Davidians died in the cafeteria area.  

According to Aldrich Chemical Company, in their Manufacturing Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), it is clear how dangerous CS can be. CS is highly flammable and explosive when concentrated within closed quarters. There are strict warnings not to use CS indoors because of the danger of a fire caused by something as small as an electrical spark. When CS burns, it emits carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and hydrogen chloride gases. A number of the Davidian autopsies reveal lethal levels of cyanide poisoning in their bodies.

It is a well-known fact that the government knew the Davidians were using kerosene lanterns twenty-four hours a day. The FBI had shut off the water. Pumping flammable substances in upon women and children with these types of conditions is an unforgivable atrocity. KPOC-TV has provided valuable information concerning the misuse of CS, and the terrible consequences this caused inside the Mt. Carmel center. It is also a fact that when you put water on burning CS, you will create a deadly hydrogen cyanide cloud that may travel for some distance. Can this explain why federal agents kept the fire trucks away until after the entire structure had completely burned down? If so, then it is an inescapable conclusion that the FBI and BATF were familiar with the Aldrich Chemical company’s MSDS report and knew what the results would be.

At 6:30 a.m. April 19th, the morning of the gas and tank attack, the Davidians put a white flag out a window and began waving it. The attack continued. At 9:07 the Davidians displayed a banner that read, “we want our phone fixed.” Eight minutes later, a government tank rammed through the front door.

These two facts were reported in Dirk Johnson’s “Death in Waco” in The New York Times April 22nd, 1993. American citizens used a universally understood sign pleading for the attack to stop.  They asked for communications to be restored. What would happen to an American military commander who refused to recognize this sign of surrender on the part of an enemy in battle?  Second, numerous times during the siege, the Davidians plead with the press to intervene on their behalf. The lack of concern on the part of the press for these requests is shameful.                                             

Government agents destroyed and tampered with evidence at Mt. Carmel. Tanks crushed the Davidian vehicles. These vehicles were crucial for the Davidian defense. The lack of bullet holes in the vehicles would have provided important proof that BATF agents were not receiving heavy fire from the Davidians. Tanks pushed sections of the building into the fire. An FBI agent admitted that some of the weapons submitted into evidence against the Davidians were left at Mt. Carmel by the BATF. The company “Failure Analysis” was not allowed to inspect the Davidian weapons recovered after the fire. Why? Were some of these guns converted to full-auto after the fire? 

The government lied about the type of gas used on the Davidians, and the toxicology reports were falsified to hide the cyanide poisoning. The FBI’s five-hundred-page plan for inserting gas into the Davidian home, which they provided to Attorney General Janet Reno, did not mention the possibility of a fire. Why? Is this criminal negligence? Why did Attorney General Janet Reno approve this plan with no contingency for putting out a fire? Why has the government refused the Davidian defense attorney’s request to allow “Failure Analysis” to examine the tape recordings on the day of the fire? Have these recordings been altered? It is a fact that government agents cut out crucial portions of film taken on April 19th, 1993. The missing film footage, in all probability, proves McNulty’s thesis that Davidians were shot while trying to escape.

The trial of the Branch Davidians in San Antonio is another travesty of justice. Jack Devault, Major USAF (Ret.), has written The Waco Whitewash. This book deals primarily with events at the trial of the Davidians charged with conspiring to murder federal agents. Devault argues that federal judge Walter Smith rigged the trial in order to obtain convictions. It is time for the Branch Davidians suffering unjustly in prison to be set free. Jury foreman Sarah Bain has fought tirelessly for the release of the Davidian prisoners. She pleaded for leniency for the Davidians at their sentencing. She collapsed when the judge, contrary to the wishes of the jury, issued forty-year sentences in most cases.

It is easy to recall the many press conferences in which the Branch Davidians were called cultists by the FBI and BATF spokesmen.  Have FBI and BATF agents taken special theological training to make this determination?  Is this the role of either of these agencies?  Articles One, Two, Four, Five, Six, Nine, and Ten of the Bill of Rights were violated by agents of the federal government.  Who will answer for these crimes? Who will answer from the military for their involvement in this terrible crime? Can the U.S. Congress escape blame for the inept Waco hearings in 1995?  The five-minute questioning rule ensured that no meaningful line of questions would develop.  When will Congress appoint a special prosecutor with full subpoena powers?  

The new riveting documentary film Waco: The Rules of Engagement addresses many of the questions that Americans have been asking. The film is unique in that it lets the viewers draw their own conclusions. “Waco” has been screening at film festivals since it’s opening this year in January at Robert Redford’s 1997 Sundance Film Festival.The San Francisco Chronicle called “Waco” “one of the most disturbing films you’ll ever see.” Siskel and Ebert have given the film “two thumbs up.” The film is also up for best documentary of the year. It is common during screenings of “Waco” for people in the audience to be openly sobbing as they witness the brutal government assault and the close-up shots of mutilated burned bodies and the terribly contorted (the result of cyanide poisoning) body of a young girl. Sarah Thompson, M.D., after seeing “Waco” at the Sundance Festival, felt compelled to review the film.

In her review, she cites film director William Gazecki’s words, “This movie is about looking under rocks and finding what we never wanted to know.” “The result is an extremely disturbing film that should be required viewing for all Americans.” She closes her review of the film with these insightful thoughts: “Remember that this is NOT about partisan politics, Right vs. Left, gun rights, or other divisive issues. It is about our unalienable Constitutional rights to religious freedom, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and above all the freedom not to be murdered by our own government. As the Talmud commands: ‘Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy brother.’” Religious and civil liberties stand or fall together. Let us pray that God may once again give us rulers who govern in the fear of the Almighty.

*All of the Davidian’s bodies recovered after the fire. Judy Schneider’s body was recovered missing the head. At the time, PA coroner Cyril Weck had written a book with a chapter on the events at Waco and questions he had about the FBI’s autopsy analysis. Also, at the time, Cyril Weck was a guest on KOA’s Rick Barber’s overnight show, and this writer as a caller asked him if someone in the FBI had taken Judy Schneider’s skull as a trophy, to which he replied “that would be frightening to contemplate.” 



1. Carol Moore, The Davidian Massacre, (Springfield: Legacy Communications & Gun Owners of America, 1995).

2. Jack DeVault, The Waco Whitewash, (San Antonio: Rescue Press, 1994).

3. Dick J. Reavis, The Ashes of Waco, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995).

4. James D. Tabor, and Eugene V. Gallagher, Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).

5. David Koresh, The Decoded Message of the Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation, (Texas: publisher unknown, 1993). This copy was given to me by Branch Davidian fire survivor David Thibodeau.

Newspaper and Magazine Articles:

James Bovard, “Convoluted trail of Waco explanations.” The Washington Times (April 1995)

James Pate, “Waco Must Get a Hearing.” The Wall Street Journal (May 1995).

James Pate, “Judgment Day.” Soldier of Fortune (June 1994).

Peter Maas, “What Might Have Been.” Parade Magazine (February 1994).

David Chilton, “That dangerous cult in Waco.” World (May 1993). 

Video and Television:

KPOC-TV, The Waco Incident, (Ponca City, Oklahoma) 1994.

PBS “Frontline” Waco: The Inside Story. Scott Malone, investigator, 1995.

Audio Tapes:

“Mt. Carmel 911 tapes” Mt. Carmel Survivors Memorial Fund Inc. (Axtell, Texas) 1993.

“The Last Recorded Words of David Koresh” April 16 & 18, 1993. Supplied by David Thibodeau.


Volumes 1- 4 Autopsies of Branch Davidians At New Mt. Carmel Waco, Texas.

Chemical Report On “CS” Agent.

Overview and General Information of Criminal Negligence by Agents of federal government.

These reports were prepared by KPOC TV of Ponca City, Oklahoma and graciously given to me by the owner and general manager, David Hall.

Special Assistance:

Mike McNulty, the producer of the documentary film “Waco: The Rules of Engagement” has provided numerous details concerning the Waco investigation. David Thibodeau provided important details concerning the events surrounding April 19, 1993 at one of his speaking engagements.   

                                                       First Film Review

“Waco: A New Revelation”

A film review and commentary ©2000 by Jack Kettler

1999, MGA Films, Inc.

Produced by Rick Van Vleet, Stephen M. Novak, Jason Van Vleet

and Michael McNulty

Directed by Jason Van Vleet

Original Music Score by Daniel D. Hoeye and Aric R. Johnson

This film is based upon the research of Mike McNulty. After his first film, which won an Emmy for best investigative journalism and was nominated for best documentary of the year, Mr. McNulty was not content to revel in his success. His continued investigation has culminated in this new production, “Waco: A New Revelation,” which is best described as a damning indictment of the federal government’s murderous corruption and cover-ups extending into several agencies and reaching into the executive branch itself.

The film reviews numerous important events surrounding this story and then builds a case based upon solid physical evidence and testimony, which should eventually culminate in lengthy prison sentences for many active and retired federal employees. What is especially heartening about this film is that some current and past federal employees and other law enforcement personnel are lending their credibility to the ongoing investigation by appearing in the movie and even participating in the production of this work about the insidious events at Waco in 1993.

One example is former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, formerly of the FBI crime lab, who narrates the film. Many informed citizens will remember that Dr. Whitehurst became a whistleblower when FBI officials refused to clean up shoddy, unprofessional, and even unethical practices within the reputed celebrated crime lab. In this reviewer’s opinion, the law enforcement and the government employees, both active and retired, who give testimony in the film are heroic and patriotic Americans putting the truth ahead of personal gain. Hopefully, their courage will inspire others in law enforcement and the government to come forward with additional information. Moreover, their testimony makes this new production impossible to dismiss.

In addition to exposing outright federal government lies and suppression of evidence, the film has already resulted in at least one new congressional investigation and even an inquiry from the Justice Department. McNulty’s previous work, “Waco: The Rules of Engagement,” was responsible for a massive shift in public opinion. This new film provides hard physical evidence that the fires, which started in three locations, were the result of flash-bang devices, which are pyrotechnic and were recovered from each place where the fires originated. Interestingly, these devices were all misidentified as silencers or gun parts and buried in an evidence locker for over six years. It is this reviewer’s opinion that this misidentification was intentional and criminal. Trained FBI post-fire investigators knew what flash-bang devices were since the FBI itself had issued and used these same devices to prevent the Branch Davidians from leaving the building during the siege. These devices were also used on April 19th. It should not be forgotten that the FBI had a motive to see the building burned. This destroyed valuable trajectory and ballistic evidence that can be used in both criminal and civil litigation against the government. 

This new film provides compelling evidence of federal responsibility for the fires. It also convincingly argues that military operatives placed a “shape” charge on the top of the concrete walk-in-cooler or “bunker” where the women and children had fled for safety from the deadly concentrations of CS gas. This “shape” charge blew a hole in the concrete roof of this structure, killing everyone and obliterating the bodies of many of the women and children. Former military explosives expert General Benton Partin provides compelling testimony that supports this allegation. This explosion caused the partial disintegration and fusing together of a number of bodies of the women and children on the inside of the “bunker” due to the pressure and heat from this blast. The film reports that investigators were finally given permission to check the remains of the concrete roof of this structure for explosive residue only to find that the roof had disappeared. 

The film deals with how the Davidians were trapped in their crumbled building, the result of tank demolition on April 19th. Because of this demolition, there was only one viable escape route on the side of the complex out of camera view. This avenue of escape would have been through doors in the cafeteria area. In the film, Gene Cullen, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) service officer, among other sources, confirms that Delta operatives, commonly referred to as Delta Force, were forward-deployed and active on April 19th. A number of Davidians were met with automatic gunfire from these Delta operatives as they sought escape through the cafeteria doors. The evidence of this atrocious murderous act is well documented in the film with the government’s own forward-looking infrared (FLIR) film and testimony from one of the country’s leading experts in FLIR technology, Dr. Edward F. Allard, Ph.D. The FLIR expert retained by the congressional committee looking into events at Waco has agreed with Dr. Allard’s analysis of the FLIR tape.

The FBI has long used tape recordings made by their listening devices on April 19th to mislead Congress concerning who was responsible for the fires. Because the film deals with the tapes recorded by FBI listening devices the day of the fire, some comments need to be made regarding these recordings about alleged Davidian plans to pour fuel and start fires. First of all, the FBI is under investigation and cannot be considered trustworthy to tell the truth about the validity of these recordings. Along with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), they have been discovered suppressing the truth and are responsible for missing evidence and the destruction of evidence. The film deals with a number of shocking examples of missing and destroyed evidence. Both agencies must be held accountable.

Therefore, it is fair to question the FBI in particular at every point in this investigation. It should be noted that they have refused to allow independent investigators access to the tape recordings to examine their authenticity. These recordings may have been edited in such a way as to distort the actual audio and context of these tapes. Since these recordings are in existence, this reviewer is glad that the film deals with them. Attorneys for the Davidians will use these recordings in the upcoming civil litigation against the government, as they well should. Also, it is imperative that these tapes be dealt with in order to refute the government’s interpretation of them.    

With that said, let’s assume that these recordings are substantially correct. Some if not all of these recordings were made early in the morning hours before any fire started and had to do with the making of Molotov cocktails to throw at the tanks. There is no evidence that the Davidians were able to carry out these plans. In addition, it appears that according to the recordings, there may have been plans to ignite a fire if federal agents began a physical attack inside the building. It should be remembered that Davidian theology taught that God’s faithful remnant would be attacked by the forces of Babylon (the U.S. Government) and would be killed, thus proving to the world the depravity of this Babylon government. In this writer’s opinion, the depravity of the present government was most certainly proved.

If there were in reality plans of this nature, given Davidian theology against suicide, these plans would have been essentially a last-ditch action to bring the roof down upon Babylon’s murderous forces. These alleged Davidian plans, if true, could easily be understood in essence as a “Samson complex.” When the enemy forces came into their home for the final murderous assault, they would attempt to take out as many of Babylon’s agents as possible before being killed. The Davidians believed that biblical teaching concerning the “fifth seal” spoken of the book of Revelation made it clear that the forces of Babylon would kill God’s faithful remnant. Experientially, they knew these forces had no reservations about shooting women. For example, Jaydean Wendell from Hawaii was killed on February 28th, the day of the initial raid, after she finished nursing her baby. Knowing full well the apocalyptic views of the Davidians, the FBI created a situation in which the Davidians were pushed right to the edge in desperation. 

There is no convincing evidence that a plan like this was actually carried out. However, once the FBI had them on tape in desperation discussing last-ditch plans, then the FBI continued its criminally negligent use of pyrotechnic devices along with the injection of deadly amounts of combustible CS gas, knowing that it would only be a matter of time before the fire would erupt. By the time the fires did begin, Mt. Carmel was structurally ruined, and its hallways were virtually impassable. Most of the Davidians were utterly disoriented and overcome by the CS gas. Towards the end, organized communication among the Davidians was seriously impaired, making any alleged plans impossible to carry out.   

It should be noted that if a plan like this was carried out or contemplated, it is not suicide (remember the Alamo). It is simply a refusal to surrender to unjust attackers and resisting to the last man. It is interesting to note that the Davidian understanding of theology may have given them a reason to believe that had these events took place that God would possibly protect them like He had protected Daniel’s friends long ago in the fiery furnace while the emissaries of Babylon perished. Since the FBI commanders heard these recordings while the tank and gas attack was in progress, which suggested something of this nature, and continued with their assault, they should be found guilty of criminal misconduct among numerous other felonies.   

It should not be forgotten that the Davidians were under siege and subjected to military warfare tactics for fifty-one days. Any comments that are found on the tape recordings during this time must be understood as coming from people under extreme duress, fearing that they were about to perish. People believing that they may be about to die may say things in desperation. Therefore, the content of the tapes must be understood in terms favorable to the Davidians. McNulty has done a great job putting this information on the table so objective analysts can determine the proper context of the recordings in light of the attack that was carried out against the Davidians. 

 As in “Rules of Engagement,” Davidian survivors give compelling testimony. Their humanness is plainly seen. Rita Riddle, a Davidian, left Mt. Carmel during the siege. She appears in the film and talks about her brother Jimmy who was shot and killed on April 19th. Unfortunately, critical autopsy evidence relevant to his death is now missing. This reviewer’s wish is that Rita Riddle’s daughter Misty, who survived the fire, will eventually testify in front of Congress. Misty Ferguson was seventeen at the time and terribly burned in the fire. The American people are still compassionate, and when they see what agents of the federal government did to her, there will be an outpouring of compassion and an outcry for justice.

This film was first screened in Washington, D.C., early in November 1999, to a select group of journalists and government officials. This film deserves a wide audience.   Hopefully, the producers can negotiate a deal to have this film aired on cable television, as was the case with Mr. McNulty’s previous release.

                                                  Second Film Review

“The F.L.I.R. Project”                                          

2001, COPS Productions L.L.C.

Produced and Directed by Michael McNulty

© 2001 A film review and commentary by Jack Kettler

Recently, former Senator John C. Danforth spent millions of taxpayer dollars investigating on behalf of Janet Reno’s Justice Department into a number of serious allegations against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Allegations included such questions as: did the FBI fire on the Davidians trying to escape their burning church home? After his investigation, Danforth pronounced that he was 100% certain that the FBI did not fire any rounds into the building that fateful day on April 19, 1993.

It should be noted that the FBI has come under heavy criticism for its mishandling of evidence in the Timothy McVeigh case. Significantly, the only conviction ensuing from the Danforth investigation was against former U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston, who legally cleared the way, thus allowing Michael McNulty, leading independent investigator into events surrounding the Waco controversy, to examine evidence leading to serious questions of government corruption. Does this lone conviction of Johnston send a message to civil servants that are willing to come forward and reveal information of government wrongdoing? Danforth’s investigation has in effect exonerated the FBI of any wrongdoing in regards to violating rules of engagement designed to safeguard the constitutional liberty of American citizens. 

Unfortunately for Danforth and the FBI, Michael McNulty, the producer of two previous award-winning documentary films, “Waco: The Rules of Engagement” and “Waco: A New Revelation,” released his third film, “The F.L.I.R. Project.” In this new film, McNulty calls into question the credibility of Danforth’s Ft. Hood re-enactment, which allegedly attempted to duplicate events surrounding April 19, 1993, which involved government agents and alleged gunfire directed into Mt. Carmel, the Branch Davidian church home. The government’s actions ultimately climaxed in 80 men, women, and children perishing in a fiery holocaust.

In this new film of thirty-five minutes duration, McNulty raises pertinent questions concerning the accuracy of Danforth’s re-enactment tests. McNulty’s film highlights several examples of differences between the Ft. Hood re-enactment test and April 19, 1993. These are:
1.      A significant difference would be the twenty-inch barrels on the M-16A2 rifles used in the re-enactment at Ft. Hood, whereas the FBI used CAR-16s (M-4s) with 14-inch barrels at Mt. Carmel.

2.      Another significant difference would be that the ammunition used in the re-enactment was standard military ball ammunition with gunpowder that is chemically treated, which suppresses mussel flashes, whereas the FBI, on April 19, 1993, used commercial ammunition produced by the “Federal Cartridge Company.”

3.      Interestingly, the military clothing that used at Mt. Carmel on April 19, 1993, by various agents was treated with a standard heat suppressing substance. The clothing accounts for the difficulty in seeing men on the ground in 1993 “Forward Looking Infra-Red” (FLIR) tape. Danforth makes this apparent invisibility of men a big part of his conclusion. Interestingly, he does not bother to elaborate or explain that this heat suppressing substance is a significant factor, undermining one of his conclusions.

4.      The test debris field at Ft. Hood was watered down the day before and covered with a tarp keeping the ground cool until right before the test took place. The water created a contrast that did not correspond to anything similar or present on April 19, 1993.

5.      There was also a twenty-degree temperature difference between the Ft. Hood tests on April 19, 1993.

6.      The Danforth tests did not bother to create the circulating dust agitated up by the tanks on April 19, 1993. However, agitated circulating dust can make an important difference in flash signatures on FLIR tape.

There are other serious questions, which McNulty raises in his new film, one example being about the FLIR camera used at the re-enactment test and if it was working correctly. The viewer of this film is left with the distinct impression that something is seriously wrong with Danforth’s conclusions. Danforth based his conclusions that the gunfire FLIR tape signatures at the Ft. Hood re-enactment were of shorter duration and nearly invisible on this FLIR tape. Also, Danforth concluded that one could not see men on the ground in the 1993 FLIR tape. McNulty, as outlined above, questions both conclusions by Danforth. McNulty demonstrates that men are visible on the ground in the 1993 FLIR (although difficult to see) and from FBI still photos. In the FBI still photos, men appear to be seen right outside the cafeteria doors, where many Davidians were trapped, unable to exit because of the alleged gunfire. 

In addition, where Danforth failed, McNulty’s “F.L.I.R. Project” team re-created at two locations tests that duplicated gunfire signatures very similar to those flashes seen on the original Waco FLIR tapes. Therefore, in light of the questions raised in this film, this writer believes that it is still an open question regarding the FBI and the use of gunfire directed into Mt. Carmel on April 19, 1993. Also, the interested reader should consult attorney Dave Hardy’s website for pictures and analysis of many issues surrounding the FLIR/gunfire controversy at:

At this point, it would be beneficial to highlight longstanding serious legal and procedural violations still unresolved at Waco. The Justice Department and Danforth are not interested in these violations. Many Americans who are fearful of the loss of religious and civil liberties are very concerned with these issues. The Branch Davidians have civil and constitutional protections enjoyed by all Americans, yet those rights were trampled on and destroyed by agents of our government.Maurice Cox is a mathematician/imagery analyst who summarizes these violations in his OPEN LETTER TO SPECIAL COUNSEL DANFORTH (20 Nov 2000). See the entire letter to Danforth that primarily deals with flaws in the Ft. Hood re-enactment. To date, Danforth has ignored this letter. According to Cox, these unresolved issues are:

  • Using publicity as one motivation for the initial raid
  • Deciding not to arrest Koresh away from Mt. Carmel
  • Acquiring a warrant using false, misleading, and inflammatory information
  • Ignoring the requirement to “knock and announce”
  • Conducting an armed assault for an alleged gun registration/tax crime
  • Conducting an armed assault on a large group to arrest one individual
  • Conducting an armed assault on uncharged women and children
  • Conducting an armed assault on individuals with apocalyptic beliefs
  • Conducting an armed assault on individuals known to be forewarned
  • Indiscriminate firing into a building in violation of policy
  • Assigning a para-military group (HRT) to a non-hostage situation
  • Limiting press access (news management)
  • Using flawed crisis management procedures (shooters negate negotiators)
  • Applying physiological warfare tools against a group with apocalyptic beliefs
  • Imposing an arbitrary negotiation deadline
  • Selective use of “bug” information (requires “enhancement” when unfavorable)
  • Adopting a plan to gas women, children and elderly individuals
  • Executing the gas plan in a manner that intentionally blocked a protected area
  • Destroying the residence beyond anything required by the gas plan
  • Executing the gas plan without adequate fire control means

It is about time that the U.S. Congress hire McNulty and the team of his choosing with full subpoena powers to finally get to the truth of what happened at Waco. A new investigation should start with the botched unconstitutional raid on Feb. 28, 1993, which culminated in the unnecessary deaths of the Davidians on April 19, 1993, and subsequent cover-up

Final Comments:

“The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s good-bye to the Bill of Rights.” – H. L. Mencken Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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Quotes about Mohammad and Islam

Quotes about Mohammad and Islam                                                Collected by Jack Kettler
The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus . . . is such Koranic verses as: (1) “Fighting is prescribed for you” (Koran 2:216); (2) “Slay them wherever you find them” (Koran 4:89); (3) “Fight the idolaters utterly” (Koran 9:36); and such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah”; and the hadith reported by Muslim, “To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.” – (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law)

“Muhammad was a narcissist, a pedophile, a mass murderer, a terrorist, a misogynist, a lecher, a cult leader, a madman, a rapist, a torturer, an assassin and a looter.” – Dr. Ali Sina; Dr. Ali Sina is an ex-Muslim and founder of Faith Freedom International

Speaking about Muhammad: “The perfect personification of a psychopath in power.” – Dr. Masud Ansari, B.A., M.A., Ph. D., D.C.H., F.C.H., holds a B.A. in law, an M.A. in International Relations from the University of London, and three doctorate degrees, two in political science, one from the Tehran University, the Second from the George Washington University, and the third in hypnotherapy from the American Pacific University has studied the life of Mohammad.

According the Egyptian Press, narcissist Barry Soetoro (a.k.a. Barack Obama) is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization. Many members of the Muslim Brotherhood are a part of His administration. His brother, Malik Obama, is an investment advisor for the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Muslim Brotherhood builds Islamic Centers across America to be the “axis” of their Movement to “supply (their) battalions.” These Centers are not simply places of worship. On the contrary their own documents say it is a place for all activity surrounding the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission here and the place from which they will launch their military assault at “Zero Hour.” *

*John Guandolo, “Jihadi Raising a Jihadi Generation: Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in America,” (Kepanto Publishing, Vienna, Virginia), p. 21.

“Mahomet established a religion by putting his enemies to death; Jesus Christ by commanding his followers to lay down their lives.” – Blaise Pascal

“I would never regard Islam with anything but horror and fear because it is fundamentally committed to conquering the world for Islam… it is, I think, best described in a Marxian way as the uniting and justifying ideology of Arab imperialism. Between the New Testament and the Qur’an there is (as it is customary to say when making such comparisons) no comparison. Whereas markets can be found for books on reading the Bible as literature, to read the Qur’an is a penance rather than a pleasure. There is no order or development in its subject matter…. The Prophet, though gifted in the arts of persuasion and clearly a considerable military leader, was both doubtfully literate and certainly ill-informed about the contents of the Old Testament and about several matters of which God, if not even the least informed of the Prophet’s contemporaries, must have been cognizant… one thing I’ll say in this comparison is that, for goodness sake, Jesus is an enormously attractive charismatic figure, which the Prophet of Islam most emphatically is not.” – Anthony Flew, philosopher

“Islam was not a torch, as has been claimed, but an extinguisher. Conceived in a barbarous brain for the use of a barbarous people, it was – and it remains – incapable of adapting itself to civilization. Wherever it has dominated, it has broken the impulse towards progress and checked the evolution of society.” – Andre Servier

“If the people of this religion [Islam] are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.” – Abu Bakr Muhammad al-Razi
“I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. As far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science—the science against which it had vainly struggled—the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” – Winston Churchill

“He (Mohammed) seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh urges us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected; he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.” – Thomas Aquinas

Resources on Islam:

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

Plan to Stop Islamic Terrorism

Coughlin Report on Jihad

Learn about: Contradictions in the Qur’an

Muslim Hope

Learn about: Answering Islam

Answering Muslims

Daniel Pipes

Andrew G. Bostom

Mahdi Watch

Faith Freedom

Ayann Hirsi Ali

Islam Terrorism Expert

American Congress for Truth

Counter Jihad Report

The Clarion Project

Glazov Gang

Creeping Sharia

Bare Naked Islam

The Gorka Briefing

Terror Trends Bulletin

Anti Cair

Counter Jihad Report

Political Islam

Raymond Ibrahim

Act for America

Talk About Islam

The Shariah Threat

Info on Islam

Phyllis Chesler

Islam Watch

Investigative Project

Gates of Vienna

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum.

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The archangel Michael, contending with the devil Jude 1:9?

The archangel Michael, contending with the devil Jude 1:9?                        By Jack Kettler                                     

“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’” (Jude 1:9 ESV)

How do we understand this passage? Is the angel Michael a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ? Historically, this passage is undisputedly obscure and along with parallel passages in Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and Revelation 12:1, difficult to interpret. As in many previous studies, lexical and commentary evidence will be consulted to gain an understanding of the Jude and related passages.  


What is an archangel?

The word archangel means an angel of the highest position or ranking.

What is the meaning of the name Michael?

Michael means, “Who is like God.”

Strong’ Lexicon:

ἀρχάγγελος (archangelos)

Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 743: A ruler of angels, a superior angel, an archangel. From archo and aggelos, a chief angel.

Mikha’el – מִיכָאֵל (Hebrew) Μιχαηλ (Greek) meaning, “Who is like God.”

Strong’ Lexicon:

Μιχαὴλ (Michaēl)

Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3413: Michael, an archangel. Of Hebrew origin, Michael, an archangel.

An overview on Michael from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia abridged:  
“mi’-ka-el, mi’-kel (mikha’el, “who is like God?” Michael):

(11) “The archangel” (Jude 1:9). Probably also the unnamed archangel of 1Th 4:16 is Michael. In the Old Testament, he is mentioned by name only in Daniel. He is “one of the chief princes” (Da 10:13), the “prince” of Israel (Da 10:21), “the great prince” (Da 12:1), perhaps also “the prince of the host” (Da 8:11). In all these passages, Michael appears as the heavenly patron and champion of Israel, as the watchful guardian of the people of God against all foes earthly or devilish. In the uncanonical apocalyptic writings, however, Jewish angelology is further developed. In them, Michael frequently appears and excretes functions similar to those, which are ascribed to him in Daniel. He is the first of the “four presences that stand before God”–Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel or Phanuel (En 9:1; 40:9). In other apocryphal books and even elsewhere in En, the number of archangels is given as 7 (En 20:1-7; Tobit 12:15; compare also Re 8:2). Among the many characterizations of Michael the following may be noted: He is “the merciful and long-suffering” (En 40:9; 68:2, 3), “the mediator and intercessor” (Ascension of Isaiah, Latin version 9:23; Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Le 5:1-19; Da 6:1-28). It is he who opposed the Devil in a dispute concerning Moses’ body (Jude 1:9). This passage, according to most modern authorities, is derived from the apocryphal Assumption of Moses (see Charles’ edition, 105-10). It is Michael also who leads the angelic armies in the war in heaven against “the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan” (Re 12:7 ff). According to Charles, the supplanting of the “child” by the archangel is an indication of the Jewish origin of this part of the book.

The earlier Protestant scholars usually identified Michael with the preincarnate Christ, finding support for their view, not only in the juxtaposition of the “child” and the archangel in Re 12:1-17, but also in the attributes ascribed to him in Daniel (for a full discussion see Hengstenberg, Offenbarung, I, 611-22, and an interesting survey in English by Dr. Douglas in Fairbairn’s BD).” John A. Lees (1)

 The cultic Jehovah’s Witnesses and the sectarian Seventh Day Adventists are proponents of the view that Michael is Christ. Unfortunately, anyone who believes likewise, albeit for Scriptural reasons, is unfairly tagged with guilt by association.

 As noted by the encyclopedia, a number of “the earlier Protestant scholars identified Michael with the pre-incarnate Christ.” In the commentators cited below, John Gill, and Matthew Poole, Puritan expositors, identified with this interpretation. In addition, Calvin, in his Daniel commentary agreed, and Lutheran theological tradition does likewise.

 Commentary evidence on the meaning of Jude 1:9 and related passages:

 From Matthew Poole’s 17th Century Commentary on Jude 1:9:  “Michael the archangel: either this is understood of Christ the Prince of angels, who is often in Scripture called an Angel, or of a created angel; and that either:

1. One of the archangels: Daniel 10:13, Michael is called one of the chief princes, which though the word archangel be not found in the plural number in Scripture, may well imply a plurality of them; for what is one of the chief princes among the angels, but an archangel? Or,

2. A principal angel, or one that is chief among others.

When contending with the devil; it may be meant either of Christ contending with the devil, as Matthew 4:1-25, in his temptation, and Zechariah 3:1, 2, and Revelation 12:7; or rather, of Michael, a created angel.

He disputed about the body of Moses:

1. If Michael the archangel be meant of Christ, then the body of Moses may be taken figuratively, for that body whereof the Mosaical ceremonies were shadows, Colossians 2:17, i.e. the truth and accomplishment of the law given by Moses; that accomplishment was to be in Christ, who is represented by Joshua, Zechariah 3:1-10: him Satan resists in the execution of his office, and by him strikes at Christ, whose type he was, and whom he afterward opposeth in the execution of his office, when he was come in the flesh. Or,

2. If we take Michael for a created angel, which agrees best with the parallel place in Peter, then the body of Moses must be taken properly, (as most take it), and the dispute seems to be: Whether Moses’s body should be so buried as to be concealed from the Israelites? Deuteronomy 34:6, it is said God buried him, (which might be by the ministry of Michael the archangel), and that no man knoweth of his sepulchre. The devil opposeth the angel, desiring to have the place of his burial known, that in after-times it might be a snare to that people, and a means to bring them to idolatry. And this seems very probable, if we consider what work the devil hath made in the world with the bodies of saints and martyrs, and how much idolatry he hath brought in thereby. This passage Jude, most probably, had (as was observed in the argument) from some known tradition among the Jews, the truth of which we are now sure of, because certified here concerning it.

Durst not bring against him; or, could not endure, (as the Greek word is often taken among profane writers), or find in his heart, not from fear of punishment, but by reason of the holiness of his own nature, and to give an example to us. And this sense agrees to the scope of the place, whether we understand it of Christ, or of a created angel, Hebrews 12:3 1 Peter 2:23.

A railing accusation: see 2 Peter 2:11.

But said, The Lord rebuke thee; i.e. put thee to silence, restrain thy insolence, hinder thy design, &c.: hereby the angel refers the cause to God.” (2)

 From the 20th Century New Testament Commentary by Simon J. Kistemaker:  “B. Michael and Satan


In these two verses, Jude relies on information that is recorded in the apocryphal book the Testament of Moses or the related work known as the Assumption of Moses. Unfortunately, the ending of this testament is no longer extant, but scholars have been able to reconstruct it from early Christian sources.

Because of this allusion to a non-canonical book and the direct quote from the apocryphal book I Enoch, the church in the first few centuries hesitated to accept the Epistle of Jude as canonical. The fact remains, however, that although Jude uses material from other sources, he does not recognize these books as inspired. He borrows examples from apocryphal literature or from the oral tradition of his day to illustrate and clarify his own teachings.

9. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil over the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

a. Michael

The name given to the archangel means “who is like God?” and is common in the Old Testament. The name also belongs to ten different persons, all of whom are virtually unknown. In the prophecy of Daniel, the name Michael belongs to the angel who is “one of the chief princes” (10:13) and “the great prince who protects” the people Israel (12:1). He opposes and overcomes demons whom Satan has sent to influence the rulers of Persia and Greece (10:13, 20). The term prince is equivalent to the word archangel (compare 1 Thess. 4:16).

Apocryphal literature teaches that there are seven archangels. This information corresponds with John’s description of “the seven angels who stand before God” (Rev. 8:2). Four of these have names; they are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. Michael is the leader of the heavenly armies that fight Satan and his fallen angels and drive them out of heaven (Rev. 12:7–9).

b. Moses

“But even the archangel Michael … was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses.” The Old Testament is silent about this dispute between Michael and Satan and only records that God “buried [Moses] in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is” (Deut. 34:6). A reconstructed outline of the lost ending of the Testament of Moses gives this account of Moses’ burial:

Joshua accompanied Moses up Mount Nebo, where God showed Moses the land of promise. Moses then sent Joshua back to the people to inform them of Moses’ death, and Moses died. God sent the archangel Michael to remove the body of Moses to another place and bury it there, but Samma’el, the devil, opposed him, disputing Moses’ right to honorable burial.… The devil brought against Moses a charge of murder, because he smote the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. But this accusation was not better than slander against Moses and Michael, not tolerating the slander, said to the devil, “May the Lord rebuke you, devil!” At that the devil took flight, and Michael removed the body to the place commanded by God, where he buried it with his own hands. Thus, no one saw the burial of Moses.

Jude uses this illustration about the dispute between Michael and Satan to demonstrate that even this mighty archangel did not dare to rebuke the devil. Even though Michael ranked high above Satan and from our point of view had every right to reprimand this devil, the archangel avoided uttering a rebuke. God is the judge.

c. Satan

“The Lord rebuke you!” This sentence is reminiscent of the account that describes, “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (Zech. 3:1). Then the Lord said, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!” (v. 2). Likewise, Michael turned Satan over to God when Satan forced him to argue about the body of Moses. Jude uses the literary device of comparison: the greater versus the lesser. That is, if the mightiest archangel Michael refuses to rebuke Satan, how much more should sinful man refrain from reviling (compare 2 Peter 2:11–12).

10. Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

In passing, we note that Peter provides a parallel that is even clearer than the wording in Jude’s epistle. He writes, “But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish” (2 Peter 2:12).

After illustrating his teaching with an incident that involves Michael and Satan, Jude returns to the subject of his discussion, namely, the godless men, whom he calls dreamers (v. 8). He depicts them as people who lack spiritual discernment and yet speak abusively against anyone and everything. As Jude says elsewhere, “[They] follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit” (v. 19). Indeed, they are devoid of divine wisdom, unable to comprehend spiritual truth and unwilling to admit their foolishness (see especially 1 Cor. 2:14). David also reflected on the thoughts and deeds of evil men when he composed Psalm 14. This is David’s view, presented here in verse:

The God who sits enthroned on high

The foolish in their heart deny;

Not one does good; corrupt in thought,

Unrighteous works their hands have wrought.

—Psalter Hymnal

“What things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals— these are the very things that destroy them.” What is Jude trying to say? He means that persons without spiritual discernment are abysmally ignorant of reality and depend on instinct. That is, they have lowered themselves to the level of animals and in their sexual pursuits (see v. 8) are guided by instinct. Yet, unlike the animals which abide by the laws of nature, these godless men are destroyed by the very things they fail to understand. When men live by instinct, they abandon even natural law and consequently perish. They place themselves on a par with the animals, but because of their refusal to obey even the laws God has placed in nature, they are destroyed (compare Rom. 1:24).

Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions in 9–10

Verse 9

ὁ δέ—this combination indicates a change of subject in the discourse.

διακρινόμενος—the use of this middle participle in the present tense denotes duration of time. The tense of the participle relates to the tense of the main verb.

διελέγετο—from the verb διαλέγομαι (I discuss); this form is in the imperfect middle indicative to show duration in the past tense. The imperfect is descriptive.

Verse 10

οὗτοι δέ—Jude returns to the subject of verse 8. The combination of these two Greek words reveals a change of subject in the discourse.

οἴδασιν—this verb in the perfect tense with a present meaning (from οἶδα, I know) expresses innate knowledge.” (3)

 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13)

 From Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Daniel 10:13:  “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: this place hath some difficulty, therefore variously expounded. Some expound it of earthly princes, some of angels, and among them, some will have good angels meant, who they say have the patronage of the kingdoms and provinces of the earth; but who can imagine that good angels should quarrel one with the other? therefore, say others, they are bad angels that oppose the people of God, and their deliverance, seeking rather their ruin, as Michael and the devil strove, Revelation 12:7: now sometimes God permits Satan to do much this way. But I judge by the prince of Persia is meant Cambyses, who was an enemy to the Jews, and hindered the building of the temple. Now he could not properly resist the angel, but figuratively he did. Angels’ power is not unlimited, but by commission and instructions from God, and their works successive. Therefore, God suffered the wicked counsels of Cambyses to take place a while; but Daniel by his prayers, and the angel by his power, overcame him at last. And this very thing laid a foundation of the Persian monarchy’s ruin, Daniel 10:20; and doubtless that king was stirred up to his evil machinations against the people of God by the prince of the powers of darkness, that ruleth in the children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2.

Michael: this we take to be Christ.

1. His name signifies, who is like God.

2. He is the first in dignity above all the angels, Hebrews 1:4-7, &c., called archangel, and the church’s prince, Daniel 10:21.

3. The chief champion of his church, helping Gabriel not as his fellow, but as his general. Thus we see what care God takes of his church’s safety against their potent enemies, by doubling their succours, (when he could do it, if he pleased, without means,) thereby to consult his own glory in the world by defeating the counsels and breaking the powers of the mightiest enemies, after he had given them rope to do their worst.” (4)

 “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” (Daniel 10:21 KJV)

 From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Daniel 10:21:  “But I will show that which is noted in the Scripture of truth,…. Not in the written word, though there are many things relating to what should befall the Jews in the latter day, especially in Deuteronomy 28:1 but in the decrees and purposes of God, which are sometimes signified by a book, and things written in it; because so particular and distinct, and so sure and certain, and which will be most truly, infallibly, and punctually performed: these are “noted”, marked, engraven, in the eternal mind of God; they are “in writing”, and they are “truth” (b), as it may be rendered, since there is a distinguishing accent between “Scripture” and “truth”: they are written in the book of God’s decrees, and are his true and faithful words and sayings, and will most surely be accomplished: now these are the deep things of God, which angels themselves know nothing of, till they are revealed unto them: the angel here having a revelation of such of them as concerned the future monarchies of the earth, and the case of the Jews under them, promises to show them to Daniel; which was the work he was appointed to do:

and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your Prince; Christ the Prince of the kings of the earth, he was the Prince, Protector, and Guardian of the people of the Jews; he is the Angel that went before them in the wilderness, and guarded them in it, and guided them into the land of Canaan; he is the Angel of God’s presence, that bore, carried, and saved them all the days of old, and was their King and their God, their Defender and Deliverer, still; he took their part, and was on their side; yea, he was on the side of, and took part with, them that were for them, the holy angels; and there was none but him that exerted his power, and strengthened Gabriel to act for them in “these things” relating to their peace and prosperity: or, “against these” (c), as it may be rendered; against the princes of Persia and Greece, the evil spirits that worked in these kingdoms, in the children of disobedience there; and had it not been for him, and the exertion of his mighty power, it would have been soon all over with the people of the Jews; as it would be now with the church of Christ, of which they were typical, but the Lord is on their side; Michael the Archangel, and his angels under him, fight for it, protect and defend it; and since he is for his people, who shall be against them? or to what purpose will an opposition be? The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of God, the saints of the most High.” (5)

 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” (Daniel 12:1 ESV)

 Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Daniel 12:1 is useful:  “And at that time – At the period referred to in the preceding chapter. The fair construction of the passage demands this interpretation, and if that refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, then what is here said must also; and we are to look for the direct and immediate fulfillment of this prediction in something that occurred under him, however, it may be supposed to have an ultimate reference to other and more remote events. The phrase “at that time,” however, does not limit what is here said to any one part of his life, or to his death, but to the general period referred to in the time of his reign. That reign was but eleven years, and the fulfillment must be found somewhere during that period.

Shall Michael – On the meaning of this word, and the being here referred to, see the notes at Daniel 10:13.

Stand up – That is, he shall interpose; he shall come forth to render aid. This does not mean necessarily that he would visibly appear, but that he would in fact interpose. In the time of great distress and trouble, there would be supernatural or angelic aid rendered to the people of God. No man can prove that this would not be so, nor is there any inherent improbability in the supposition that good angels may be employed to render assistance in the time of trouble. Compare the notes at Daniel 10:13.

The great prince, which standeth for the children of thy people – See the notes as above at Daniel 10:13. The meaning is that he had the affairs of the Hebrew people, or the people of God, especially under his protection, or he was appointed to watch over them. This doctrine is in accordance with the notions that prevailed at that time; and no one can demonstrate that it is not true. There is no authority for applying this to the Messiah, as many have done, for the term Michael is not elsewhere given to him, and all that the language fairly conveys is met by the other supposition. The simple meaning is, that he who was the guardian angel of that nation, or who was appointed to watch over its interests, would at that time of great trouble interpose and render aid.

And there shall be a time of trouble – Under Antiochus Epiphanes. See the notes at Daniel 11:21-45. Compare the books of the Maccabees, passim.

Such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time – This might be construed with reference to the Jewish nation, as meaning that the trouble would be greater than any that had occurred during its history. But it may also be taken, as our translators understand it, in a more general sense, as referring to any or all nations. In either sense, it can hardly be considered as the language of hyperbole. The troubles that came upon the land under the persecutions of Antiochus probably surpassed any that the Hebrew nation ever experienced, nor could it be shown that, for the same period of time, they were surpassed among any other people. The Saviour has employed this language as adapted to express the intensity of the trials, which would be brought upon the Jews by the Romans Mat 24:21, but he does not say that as used in Daniel it had reference originally to that event. It was language appropriate to express the thought which he wished to convey, and he, therefore, so employed it.

And at that time – When these troubles are at their height.

Thy people shall be delivered – To wit, by the valor and virtues of the Maccabees. See the accounts in the books of the Maccabees. Compare Prideaux, Con. iii. 257, following.

Every one that shall be found written in the book – Whose names are enrolled; that is, enrolled as among the living. The idea is, that a register was made of the names of those who were to be spared, to wit, by God, or by the angel, and that all whose names were so recorded would be preserved. Those not so enrolled would be cut off under the persecutions of Antiochus. The language here does not refer to the book of eternal life or salvation, nor is it implied that they who would thus be preserved would necessarily be saved, but to their preservation from death and persecution, as if their names were recorded in a book, or were enrolled. We frequently meet with similar ideas in the Scriptures. The idea is, of course, poetical, but it expresses with sufficient clearness the thought that there was a Divine purpose in regard to them, and that there was a definite number whom God designed to keep alive, and that these would be delivered from those troubles, while many others would be cut off.” (6)

 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

 From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on 1 Thessalonians 4:16:  “with the voice of the archangel; so Michael is called, in Jude 1:9 with which compare Revelation 12:7 and who perhaps is no other than Christ himself, who is the head of all principality and power; and the sense be, that Christ shall descend from heaven with a voice, or shall then utter such a voice, as will show him to be the archangel; or as the Syriac version renders it, “the head”, or “prince of angels”; and which whether, it will be an articulate voice, such as was expressed at the grave of Lazarus; or a violent clap of thunder, which is the voice of God; or the exertion of the power of Christ, is not certain: it is added,” (7)

 “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back,” (Revelation 12:7 ESV)

 From the Pulpit Commentary on Revelation 12:7:  “Verses 7, 8. – And there was war in heaven. The passage verses 7-13 is an interruption of the narrative of the persecution of the woman by Satan. It is caused, apparently, by a desire to account in some degree for the relentless hostility of the devil towards God and his Church. Two explanations of the passage may be referred to.

(1) Verses 7-13 relate to the period anterior to the Creation, concerning which we have a slight hint in Jude 1:6. This, on the whole, seems to agree best with the general sense of the chapter, and to present fewest difficulties. Thus:

(a) It accounts for the insertion of the passage (see above).

(b) The war is directly between the devil and Michael, not between the devil and Christ, as at the Incarnation and Resurrection.

(c) Verses 8 and 9 seem to require a more literal interpretation than that which makes them refer to the effects of Christ’s resurrection.

(d) It was not at the period of the Incarnation that the scene of Satan’s opposition was transferred to the earth, as described in ver. 12.

(e) The song of the heavenly voice may be intended to end with the word Christ (ver. 10), and the following passages may be the words of the writer of the Apocalypse, and may refer to the earthly martyrs (see on ver. 10).

(f) This attempt of the devil in heaven may be alluded to in John 1:5, “The darkness overcame it not” (see also John 12:35).

(2) The passage may refer to the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, and the victory then won over the devil. This interpretation renders the whole passage much more figurative.

(a) Michael is the type of mankind, which in the Person of Jesus Christ vanquishes the devil.

(b) Subsequent to the Resurrection Satan is no more allowed to accuse men before God in heaven, as he has done previously (see Job 1; Zechariah 3:1; 1 Kings 22:19-22); he is thus the accuser cast down (ver. 10), and his place is no more found in heaven (ver. 8).

(c) The earth and sea represent the worldly and tumultuous nations. Perhaps the strongest argument in favour of the second view is found in Luke 10:18 and John 12:31. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, Michael and his angels [going forth] to war with the dragon (Revised Version). Alford explains the infinitive phrase as compounded of the genitive τοῦ and depending upon ἐγένετο. Michael (מָי־כאֵל) signifies, “Who is like to God?” We may compare this with the cry of the worldly in Revelation 13:4, “Who is like unto the beast?” In Daniel, Michael is the prince who stands up for the people of Israel (Daniel 12:1; Daniel 10:13, 21). Michael, “the archangel,” is alluded to in Jude 1:9 as the great opposer of Satan. St. John, perhaps borrowing the name from Daniel, puts forward Michael as the chief of those who remained faithful to the cause of God in the rebellion of Satan and his angels. The angels of the dragon are the stars of ver. 4, which he drew with him to the earth, and possibly the reference to this event in ver. 4 gives rise to the account in verses 7-13. Some commentators interpret the war here described as that between the Church and the world. Michael is thus made to be symbolical of Christ, and some have no difficulty in indicating a particular man (such as Licinius) as the antitype of the dragon. And the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. The Greek is stronger, not even their place, etc. Οὐδέ is read in א, A, B, C, Andreas, Arethas; οὔτε is found in P, 1, 17, and others. So complete was the defeat of Satan that he was no longer permitted to remain in heaven in any capacity.” (8)

 Is appears that John Calvin also taught that Jesus is Michael:  “The twelfth chapter commenced, as we stated in yesterday’s Lecture, with the angel’s prediction as to the future state of the Church after the manifestation of Christ. It was to be subject to many miseries, and hence this passage would soothe the sorrow of Daniel, and of all the pious, as he still promises safety to the Church through the help of God. Daniel therefore represented Michael as the guardian of the Church, and God had enjoined this duty upon Christ, as we learn from the 10th chapter of John, (ver. 28, 29.) As we stated yesterday, Michael may mean an angel; but I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ, because it suits the subject best to represent him as standing forward for the defense of his elect people. He is called the mighty prince, because he naturally opposed the unconquered fortitude of God to those dangers to which the angel represents the Church to be subject. We well know the very slight causes for which terror often seizes our minds, and when we begin to tremble, nothing can calm our tumult and agitation. The angel then in treating of very grievous contests, and of the imminent danger of the Church, calls Michael the mighty prince. As if he had said, Michael should be the guardian and protector of the elect people, he should exercise immense power, and he alone without the slightest doubt should be sufficient for their protection. Christ confirms the same assertion, as we just; now saw, in the 10th chapter of John. He says all his elect were given him by his father, and none of them should perish, because his father was greater than all; no one, says he, shall pluck my sheep out of my hand. My father, who gave them me, is greater than all; meaning, God possesses infinite power, and displays it for the safety of those whom he has chosen before the creation of the world, and he has committed it to me, or has deposited it in my hands. We now perceive the reason of this epithet, which designates Michael as the great prince.” (9)

 Michael as Christ in the Lutheran Exegetical Tradition: An Analysis by Christian A. Preus:  “The identification of Michael as Christ in Revelation 12:7 has a long history in the Lutheran exegetical tradition. Both Luther and Melanchthon make the identification and the Lutheran exegetes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries follow suit with apparent unanimity.” (1)

(1) For Luther’s sermon dealing with Michael, see his Predigt am Michaelistage(September 29, 1544), in Martin Luther ,Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe [Schriften], 65 vols. (Weimar: H. Böhlau, 1883–1993),49:570–587 (hereafter WA). For Melanchthon, see In Danielem Prophetam Commentarius (Basel: Bartholomaeus Westheimer, 1543), esp. 148. I have not been able to find a single Lutheran exegete of Reformation or Post-Reformation times who says that the Michael of Revelation 12 is not Christ. In his posthumously published notes on Jude, John Gerhard (or Gerhard’s son who edited the notes) calls it the opinion of the “orthodox,” by which he means, the Lutherans. See John Gerhard, Annotationes Posthumae in Epistolam Judae (Jena: George Sengenwald, 1660), 29.” (10)

 The reader is encouraged to use the link below to see Christian A. Preus’ complete article. In this article, Preus presents Scriptural reasons for the Lutheran understanding of why Michael is believed to be Christ.


 Q. Is the angel of Jude and Daniel and Revelation the same?

A. It can be concluded, yes.

 Q. What does Michael, contending with the devil about the body of Moses imply?

A. Matthew Poole above answers this question,  1. If Michael the archangel be meant of Christ, then the body of Moses may be taken figuratively, for that body whereof the Mosaical ceremonies were shadows, Colossians 2:17, i.e. the truth and accomplishment of the law given by Moses; that accomplishment was to be in Christ, who is represented by Joshua, Zechariah 3:1-10: him Satan resists in the execution of his office, and by him strikes at Christ, whose type he was, and whom he afterward opposeth in the execution of his office, when he was come in the flesh. Or:

2. If we take Michael for a created angel, which agrees best with the parallel place in Peter, then the body of Moses must be taken properly, (as most take it), and the dispute seems to be: Whether Moses’s body should be so buried as to be concealed from the Israelites? Deuteronomy 34:6, it is said God buried him, (which might be by the ministry of Michael the archangel), and that no man knoweth of his sepulchre. The devil opposeth the angel, desiring to have the place of his burial known, that in after-times it might be a snare to that people, and a means to bring them to idolatry. And this seems very probable, if we consider what work the devil hath made in the world with the bodies of saints and martyrs, and how much idolatry he hath brought in thereby. This passage Jude, most probably, had (as was observed in the argument) from some known tradition among the Jews, the truth of which we are now sure of, because certified here concerning it.

 Q. Is Michael the archangel really an angel or Christ?

A. In this writer’s opinion, there are arguments for both yes and no. This however is not suitable. Possibly the best solution is how the Pulpit commentary in the above entry introduces the reader to the idea that Michael is “symbolical of Christ.” Moreover, certainly, Lutheran theological tradition on this topic cannot be dismissed out of hand.  

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


 1.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for “Michael,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2047-2048.

2.       Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Jude, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 945.

3.       Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Peter and Jude, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1986), pp. 385-388.

4.       Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Jude, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 841.

5.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Daniel, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 228-229.

6.       Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Daniel, Vol. 9 p. 838-840.

7.       John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1 Thessalonians, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 69.

8.       H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Revelation, Vol. 22, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 311-312.

9.       Calvin’s Commentaries on The Prophet Daniel, Vol. II, Baker reprint, vol. XIII, pp. 369, 370.

10.   Christian A. Preus, Michael as Christ in the Lutheran Exegetical Tradition: An Analysis (CTQ 80 (2016): 257–267), p. 257.   

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

CTQ 80 (2016): 257–267

Christian A. Preus, Michael as Christ in the Lutheran Exegetical Tradition: An Analysis at

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What does a “troop” mean in Isaiah 65:11?

What does a “troop” mean in Isaiah 65:11?           By Jack Kettler                                     
What does the word “troop” mean as translated by the King James Version? Most modern translations use the word “fortune” or some variation of “luck” or “lucky.” Is the Bible teaching there is something called good “luck” or chance? Is Gad one of Israel’s patriarchs named after a pagan deity, the god of fortune?

For context, Genesis 30:11 and 49:19 will be surveyed:

 “And Leah said, a troop (ḡāḏ 1409 – 1 Occ.) cometh: and she called his name Gad (gāḏ 1410).” (Genesis 30:11 KJV)

 From John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible on Genesis 30:11:  “And Leah said a troop cometh… A troop of children, having borne four herself, and now her maid another, and more she expected; or the commander of a troop cometh, one that shall head an army and overcome his enemies; which agrees with the prophecy of Jacob, Genesis 49:19, and she called his name Gad: which signifies a “troop”, glorying in the multitude of her children, that she had or hoped to have.” (1)

 “Gad, (gāḏ 1410) a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.” (Genesis 49:19)

 From the Pulpit Commentary on Genesis 49:19:  “Verse 19. – Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last. The threefold alliteration of the original, which is lost in the received translation, may be thus expressed: “Gad – a press presses him, but he presses the heel’ (Keil); or, “troops shall troop on him, but he shall troop on their retreat’ (‘Speaker’s Commentary’). The language refers to attacks of nomadic tribes which would harass and annoy the Gadites, but which they would successfully repel.” (2)

 From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Genesis 49:19:  “49:19-21 Concerning Gad, Jacob alludes to his name, which signifies a troop, and foresees the character of that tribe. The cause of God and his people, though for a time it may seem to be baffled and run down, will be victorious at last. It represents the Christian’s conflict. Grace in the soul is often foiled in its conflicts; troops of corruption overcome it, but the cause is God’s, and grace will in the end come off conqueror, yea, more than conqueror, Ro 8:37. Asher should be a rich tribe. His inheritance bordered upon Carmel, which was fruitful to a proverb. Naphtali is a hind let loose. We may consider it as a description of the character of this tribe. Unlike the laborious ox and ass; desirous of ease and liberty; active, but more noted for quick despatch than steady labour and perseverance. Like the suppliant who, with goodly words, craves mercy. Let not those of different tempers and gifts censure or envy one another.” (3)

 Looking at lexical evidence from Genesis 30:11 and 49:19:

 “A troop cometh” (KJV) or “Good fortune has come!” (ESV)

Strong’s Concordance 1409:

 gad: fortune, good fortune

Original Word: גָּד

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: gad

Phonetic Spelling: (gawd)

Definition: fortune, good fortune

Gad, the proper name of a person and tribe, occurs some 70 times (Strong’ 1410). As has been seen is Gad גָּ֖ד (gāḏ)

Noun – proper – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 1410: Gad = ‘troop’ 1) seventh son of Jacob by Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, and full brother of Asher.

 1409 – ḡāḏ; – (גָ֑ד) – How fortunate

 “Troop” and the name “Gad” can have different meanings:

 “and she called his name Gad (gāḏ 1410).” (KJV) or “so she called his name Gad (gāḏ 1410).” (ESV) (Genesis 30:11)

 Strong’s Lexicon 1410:


גָּ֖ד (gāḏ)

Noun – proper – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 1410: Gad = ‘troop’ 1) seventh son of Jacob by Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, and full brother of Asher. 2) The tribe descended from Gad 3) a prophet during the time of David; appears to have joined David when in the hold; reappears in connection with the punishment for taking a census; also assisted in the arrangements for the musical service of the ‘house of God’

 Strong’s Concordance 1410 agrees with the lexicon:

 Gad: a son of Jacob, also his tribe and its territory, also a prophet

Original Word: גָּד

Part of Speech: Proper Name Masculine

Transliteration: Gad

Phonetic Spelling: (gawd)

Definition: a son of Jacob, also his tribe and its territory, also a prophet

 Now for the passage under consideration for this study:

 “But ye are they that forsake the LORD that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.” (Isaiah 65:11 KJV)

 While lengthy, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains some of the confusion surrounding this verse of Isaiah 65:11:  “But ye are they that forsake the Lord – Or rather, ‘Ye who forsake Yahweh, and who forget my holy mountain, I will number to the sword.’ The design of this verse is to remind them of their idolatries, and to assure them that they should not escape unpunished.

That forget my holy mountain – Mount Moriah, the sacred mountain on which the temple was built.

That prepare a table – It was usual to set food and drink before idols – with the belief that the gods consumed what was thus placed before them (see the notes at Isaiah 65:4). The meaning here is, that the Jews had united with the pagan in thus ‘preparing a table;’ that is, setting it before the idols referred to, and placing food on it for them.

For that troop – Margin, ‘Gad.’ Perhaps there is nowhere a more unhappy translation than this. It has been made evidently because our translators were not aware of the true meaning of the word, and did not seem to understand that it referred to idolatry. The translation seems to have been adopted with some reference to the paronomasia occurring in Genesis 49:19; ‘Gad, a troop shall overcome him’ – יגוּדנוּ גדוּד גד gâd gedûd yegûdenû – where the word Gad has some resemblance to the word rendered troop. The word Gad itself, however, never means troop, and evidently should not be so rendered here. Much has been written on this place, and the views of the learned concerning Gad and Meni are very various and uncertain. Those who are disposed to examine the subject at length, may consult Rosenmuller, Vitringa, and Gesenius on the passage; and also the following works.

On this passage, the reader may consult the Dissertation el David Mills, De Gad et Meni, and also the Dissertation of Jo. Goth. Lakemacher, De Gad et Meni, both of which are to be found in Ugolin’s Thesaurus, xxiii. pp. 671-718, where the subject is examined at length. Mills supposes that the names Gad and Meni are two names for the moon – sidus bonum, and μηνη mēnē. He remarks that ‘on account of the power which the moon is supposed to exert over sublunary things, it was often called the goddess Fortune. It is certain that the Egyptians by Τύχη Tuchē (Fortune), which they numbered among the gods who were present at the birth of man, understood the moon.’ Among the Arabians and Persians the moon is said to have been denominated Sidus felix et faustum – ‘The happy and propitious star.’ See Rosenmuller in loc. Lakemather supposes that two idols are meant – Hecate and Mann Vitringa and Rosenmuller suppose that the sun and moon are intended. Grotius supposes that the name Gad means the same as the goddess Fortune, which was worshipped by the Hebrews, Chaldeans, and Arabians; and that Meni means a divinity of that name, which Strabo says was worshipped in Armenia and Phrygia. Other opinions may be seen in Vitringa. That two idols are intended here, there can be no doubt. For,

1. The circumstance mentioned of their preparing a table for them, and pouring out a drink-offering, is expressive of idolatry.

2. The connection implies this, as the reproof in this chapter is to a considerable extent for their idolatry.

3. The universal opinion of expositors, though they have varied in regard to the idols intended, proves this.

Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and the rabbis generally suppose that by Gad the planet Jupiter was intended, which they say was worshipped throughout the East as the god of fortune, and this is now the prevalent opinion. The word גד gad, says Gesenius, means fortune, especially the god Fortune, which was worshipped in Babylon. He supposes that it was the same idol which was also called Baal or Bel (compare the notes at Isaiah 46:1), and that by this name the planet Jupiter – Stella Jovis – was intended, which was regarded throughout the East as the genius and giver of good fortune, hence called by the Arabians bona fortuna major – ‘the greater good fortune.’ The word ‘Meni,’ on the other hand, Gesenius supposes to denote the planet Venus, called in the East bolla fortuna minor – ‘the lesser good fortune.’ The Vulgate renders this, Fortunae – ‘To Fortune.’ The Septuagint, Τῷ δαιμονίῳ tō daimoniō – ‘To a demon;’ though, in the corresponding member, Meni is rendered by τῇ τύχῃ tē tuchē – ‘To Fortune,’ and it is possible that the order of the words has been inverted, and that they meant to render the word Gad by Fortune. The Chaldee renders it simply, לטעון leṭa‛evân – ‘To idols.’ It is agreed on all hands that some idol is here referred to that was extensively worshipped in the East; and the general impression is, that it was an idol representing Fortune. But whether it was the Sun, or the planet Jupiter, is not easy to determine.

That it was customary to place a table before the idol has been already remarked, and is expressly affirmed by Jerome. ‘In all cities,’ says he, ‘and especially in Egypt, and in Alexandria, it was an ancient custom of idolatry, that on the last day of the year, and of the last month, they placed a table filled with food of various kinds, and a cup containing wine and honey mixed together – poculum mulso mistum – either as an expression of thankfulness for the fertility of the past year, or invoking fertility for the coming year.’ Thus Herodotus (iii. 18) also describes the celebrated table of the sun in Ethiopia. ‘What they call the table of the sun was this: A plain in the vicinity of the city was filled, to the height of four feet, with roasted flesh of all kinds of animals, which was carried there in the night under the inspection of magistrates; during the day, whoever pleased was at liberty to go and satisfy his hunger. The natives of the place affirm that the earth spontaneously produces all these viands; this, however, is what they call the table of the sun.’

And that furnish the drink-offering – In all ancient worship, it was customary to pour out a libation, or a drink-offering. This was done among idolaters, to complete the idea of a repast. As they placed food before the idols, so they also poured out wine before them, with the idea of propitiating them (see the notes at Isaiah 57:6).

To that number – Margin, ‘Meni.’ The phrase, ‘to that number’ evidently conveys no idea, and it would have been much better to have retained the name Meni, without any attempt to translate it. The rendering, ‘to that number’ was adopted because the word מני menı̂y is derived from מנה mânâh, to allot, to appoint, to number. Various opinions also have been entertained in regard to this. Rosenmuller and many others suppose that the moon is intended, and it has been supposed that the name Meni was given to that luminary because it numbered the months, or divided the time. Bynaeus and David Mills have endeavored to demonstrate that this was the moon, and that this was extensively worshipped in Eastern nations. Vitringa supposes that it was the same deity which was worshipped by the Syrians and Philistines by the name of Astarte, or Ashtaroth, as it is called in the Scripture; or as οὐρανίης ouraniēs, the queen of heaven; and if the name Gad be supposed to represent the sun, the name Meni will doubtless represent the moon.

The goddess Ashtaroth or Astarte, was a goddess of the Sidonians, and was much worshipped in Syria and Phenicia. Solomon introduced her worship in Jerusalem 1 Kings 11:33. Three hundred priests were constantly employed in her service at Hierapolis in Syria. She was called ‘the queen of heaven;’ and is usually mentioned in connection with Baal. Gesenius supposes that the planet Venus is intended, regarded as the source of good fortune, and worshipped extensively in connection with the planet Jupiter, especially in the regions of Babylonia. It seems to be agreed that the word refers to the worship of either the moon or the planet Venus, regarded as the goddess of good fortune. It is not very material which is intended, nor is it easy to determine. The works referred to above may be consulted for a more full examination of the subject than is consistent with the design of these notes. The leading idea of the prophet is that they were deeply sunken and debased in thus forsaking Yahweh, and endeavoring to propitiate the favor of idol-gods.” (4)

 As Barnes notes, “the word Gad itself, never means troop, and should not be so rendered here.” Barnes’s comment is in line with the previously seen lexical evidence.

 Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Isaiah 65:11 is an excellent short analysis:

 “(11) That forget my holy mountain . . .—The words imply, like Isaiah 65:3-5, the abandonment of the worship of the Temple for a heathen ritual, but those that follow point, it will be seen, to Canaanite rather than Babylonian idolatry, and, so far, are in favour of the earlier date of the chapter. The same phrase occurs, however, as connected with the exiles in Psalm 137:5.

That prepare a table for that troop.—Hebrew, “for the Gad,” probably the planet Jupiter, worshipped as the “greater fortune,” the giver of good luck. The LXX. renders “for the demon” or “Genius.” The name of Baal-Gad (Joshua 11:17; Joshua 12:17) indicates the early prevalence of the worship in Syria. Phœnician inscriptions have been found with the names Gad-Ashtoreth and Gad-Moloch. The “table” points to the lectisternium (or “feast”), which was a prominent feature in Assyrian and other forms of polytheism.

Unto that number. – Here, again, we have in the proper name of a Syrian deity, probably of the planet Venus as the “lesser fortune.” Some scholars have found a name Manu in Babylonian inscriptions; and Manât, one of the three deities invoked by the Arabs in the time of Mahomet, is probably connected with Mëni the it (Cheyne). See Sayce, as in Note on Isaiah 65:4.” (5) Comments in conclusion regarding Isaiah 65:11:

In context, there are three clauses in the passage if noted, help understand Isaiah 65:11. Underlining, along with yellow, red and green highlighting will help emphasis the clauses.

“But you are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain,” that “prepare a table for that troop,” (lag·gaḏ – Strong’ 1409) “and that furnish the drink offering to that number” (lam·nî – Strong’ 4507).

The verse is addressed to “you that forsake the LORD,” and who do two things, one, Prepare a table “for that troop” (lag·gaḏ – Strong’ 1409) (“Fortune” possibly the planet Jupiter) and two, who furnish a drink offering “to that number” or (lam·nî – Strong’ 4507) (“Destiny” a Syrian or Arabian deity represented by the planet Venus).

In the passage, there are two false gods, “Fortune” and “Destiny,” and those who prepare a table for “Fortune” and furnish the drink offering for “Destiny.” Those who serve the pagan deities are the “you” that have forsaken the LORD.

Therefore, it is not apparentat all that “Gad” לַגַּד֙ (lag·gaḏ Fortune – Strong’ 1409) in this passage is Israel’s patriarch, גָּ֖ד (gāḏ Strong’ 1410). 

There are three Gads mentioned in the Bible:

1.      Gad the seventh son of Jacob in Genesis 30:11.

2.      Gad a prophet in the time of David in 1Samuel 22:5.

3.      Gad refers to an idol in Isaiah 65:11.

As noted, the Hebrew word גָּד ḡāḏ (Strong’ 1409), is distinct from Israel’s patriarch גָּ֖ד gāḏ (Strong’1410). Therefore, in Isaiah 65:11, it is extremely doubtful it is referring to Jacob’s son.

In answer to the first question, if the Bible is teaching or endorsing luck or fortune, no. Just because the Bible mentions something in no wise constitutes an endorsement. The pagan deities “Fortune” and “Destiny” are mentioned not recognized. 

In answer to the second question regarding Gad, the patriarch named after a pagan deity, no as seen from the lexical and commentary evidence. Isaiah 65:11, in particular, is not talking about Gad, Israel’s patriarch.

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


1.       John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Genesis, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 529-530.

2.       H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Genesis, Vol. 1. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 528.

3.       Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Genesis, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 416-411-412.

4.       Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Isaiah, Vol. p. 1177-1179.

5.       Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Isaiah, Vol. 4. (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 572.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

Hebrew Dictionary (Lexicon-Concordance) Key Word Studies (Translations-Definitions-Meanings)

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The Biblical laws for Quarantine and Sanitation

The Biblical laws for Quarantine and Sanitation                                           By Jack Kettler                                     

What do the Scriptures say about quarantines? When you have a plague or an infectious disease in the land, which biblically is required to be quarantined? What about the contemporary phrase “social distancing.” Is this approach biblical? In this study, biblical quarantine and sanitary laws will be surveyed. Surprisingly, if followed, out of control, problematic health issues can be solved without infringing upon civil liberties or destroying businesses.   

A study like this is relevant considering the panic of government officials over the latest of the yearly flu virus, the so-called Wuhan China flu. The panic is at least partially due to the question of the Wuhan virus, possibly being a human-engineered weaponized virus. To put things in perspective, 10 to 60 thousand people die from the flu each year in the U.S.  

Most of the time, politicians from large decaying cities in America are not in the least concerned about public health issues accept for political purposes. For example, the West coast large city mayors and governors are not concerned with giant rat-infested homeless camps and humans defecating on the streets, real breeding grounds for infectious diseases.

With that said, a biblical study on how to handle a virus or plaque seems prudent. In general, compared to biblical law, political operatives have things ass-backward. God has provided biblical principles, if followed, to solve many public health emergencies.   

A number of passages will be surveyed. A complete listing in this study of passages is not necessary to avoid redundancy. The majority of the passages will be from the Old Testament. How can passages from the Old Testament, which were for Israel, have anything to say today? Let us see.           

The Scriptures on quarantine laws:

“But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days.” (Leviticus 13:4 ESV) (All passages will be in the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted). 

“He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:46)       

“And if the priest examines the itching disease and it appears no deeper than the skin and there is no black hair in it, then the priest shall shut up the person with the itching disease for seven days, and on the seventh day the priest shall examine the disease. If the itch has not spread, and there is in it no yellow hair, and the itch appears to be no deeper than the skin, then he shall shave himself, but the itch he shall not shave; and the priest shall shut up the person with the itching disease for another seven days.” (Leviticus 13:31-33)           

“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:45-46)   

“Command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead. You shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell.” (Numbers 5:2-3)    

“And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.” (Luke 17:12)

Quarantines Today by Gary North, author of more than fifty books:

“The question then arises: Is priestly quarantining biblically legitimate today? There is no indication that any of these named diseases survived the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. There is also no indication that the laws of quarantine by a priest continue into the New Covenant. On the contrary, they could not have survived the demise of the priesthood. The quarantine laws were part of the Levitical laws of the Mosaic Covenant, and, I think, to some degree were connected to jubilee land laws of Leviticus 25. These laws all perished with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. With the collapse of the judicial boundaries of the nation of Israel, there was a collapse of those ritual boundary laws that had governed the people of Israel even before they entered into the land of Canaan. There was no longer any tabernacle to be excluded from, and there was no unclean place outside either the camp or the city to which anyone could be banished. In other words, these laws related to plague, and plague in Mosaic Israel was judicial rather than biological.

In New Testament times, we can study biological afflictions as a separate class of phenomena, and we can also see them as the judgments of God. We do not have the ability to identify the specific sin, either corporate or personal, that leads to most sicknesses, with the exception of venereal diseases. Neither did the priest of the Mosaic Covenant in most cases. The priest was not asked to identify the sin that had led to the individual’s affliction. The priest was required only to identify the affliction and deal with it judicially. We can therefore say that in New Testament times, afflictions of a biological nature can be dealt with either through medical techniques or by public health techniques. Contagious people can either be cured or they can be quarantined. The quarantining process, however, is based on considerations of the contagious nature of the disease, not the judicial status of the individual. Public health laws in the modern world are to be governed by statutes, and statutes must be predictable. Individuals must know in advance the penalties or sanctions that will be imposed for specific kinds of behavior. Thus, an individual who comes down with a disease cannot be said to be a threat to the community merely because he has come down with a disease. The judicial diseases of the Mosaic Covenant are no longer with us. Therefore, the diseases that afflict us today are like the common diseases that afflicted people inside and outside of Mosaic Israel. They are to be dealt with in similar ways: by medical care, by quarantine, by prayer, or by anointing by the elders (James 5:14).

To Protect the Public

The idea of quarantine in the 13th chapter of Leviticus is based on the need to protect the public. The spread of the disease, or other forms of God’s judgment, was to be halted by removing the afflicted individual from within the city. The concern was public health, but it was not a concern about biological contagion. It was concern about the willingness of God to afflict other individuals with the disease or other afflictions because of their unwillingness to enforce His law. Thus, the quarantining process of Leviticus 13 was primarily judicial. In fact, it would probably be safe to say that it was entirely judicial. Only by the extension of the principle of the protection of others within the city is it legitimate to classify today’s diseases as being subject legally to the Bible’s quarantining process.

Does this qualification alter the legal status of the civil government? For example, does this mean that in modern times the civil government is required to finance an individual who has been quarantined? The State has brought sanctions against him in the name of the health of the community. This was also the case in Mosaic Israel. The State has put him under quarantine because he is biologically contagious. This was not the case in the Mosaic Israel. Does the shift from judicial affliction to biological affliction change the legal requirements of the civil government? Does the change from the contagious legal status of the individual to his contagious biological status change the requirements of the civil government? In other words, do the quarantine laws of the civil government go through a fundamental transformation between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant?

It is part of English common law that when a city is on fire, the authorities have the right to knock down an individual’s house in order to stop the spread of that fire. It is also part of common law that the city and the community do not owe anything to the individual who has had his house knocked down in this way. It is presumed that the fire would have destroyed the house anyway. It is also assumed that by destroying the individual’s house, other houses within the community will be protected. This law was for generations basic to the protection of cities. If the fire-fighters had to worry about the cost of repayment each time they knocked down a house, it is unlikely that they would have had the same kind of incentive to knock down the houses. Obviously, if the price of an action goes up, less of it will be demanded. In this case, it means that the city would have been less likely to be protected from the “plague” of fire because of legal obligations to repay those people who were unfortunate enough to be caught in the line of fire, and whose houses, if knocked down, would have allowed the creation of a fire break. It was assumed that the safety of the city was of greater importance than the loss to the individual. Because the house probably would have burned down anyway, it really was not a net loss to the owner.

Consider a contemporary individual who has contracted a contagious disease. He has become a threat to the community. If the community is required by law to finance this individual until such time as he recovers biologically from the disease, it is less likely that the community will take the necessary steps to isolate him. Common law therefore does not require the civil government to compensate the quarantined individual. Neither does biblical law. This is why quarantine is a devastating event in the life of the individual. Historically, quarantined people have not been permitted to leave their homes. Others have not been able to come into those homes without falling under the ban. While it is assumed that charity will be forthcoming to help the quarantined individual in his time of need, it has been assumed until very recently that the State has no legal obligation to support that person during the period of his confinement. To do so would raise the cost of confining individuals, and it would therefore lead to an unwillingness on the part of public health officials to confine them. This would increase the risk of contagion and disease in the community.

The contagious nature of the disease, in effect, is a form of violence. It is violence conducted by a third party, namely, the biological organisms that transmit the disease, but it is still a form of violence. The carrier places other people at risk. Thus, common law determined that an individual who becomes a threat to the community must be removed from the community so as to reduce the likelihood of this indirect form of violence. Public health measures are directed against the disease primarily and against its carriers secondarily.” (1)

As can be seen from North’s commentary, quarantine laws applied to those with infectious diseases, not healthy people. Moreover, as in the case of a house on fire, the police and larger society is not to bear the cost of the quarantine.

Gary North is an American paleolibertarian writer, Austrian School economic historian, and leading figure in the Christian Reconstructionist movement. … He is known for his advocacy of biblical and libertarian economics and as a theorist of dominionism and theonomy. Wikipedia

R. J. Rushdoony on Biblical Quarantine Laws

“The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” has, as its positive requirement, the  mandate to preserve and further life within the framework of God’s law. Basic to this framework of preservation are the laws of quarantine…To return to the quarantine laws with respect to diseases, those cited in Leviticus 13 and 14 are generally described as leprosy and plague. The term leprosy has changed its meaning extensively from its biblical and “medieval” meaning. The meaning then covered a variety of infectious diseases. In terms of this, the meaning of this legislation is that contagious diseases must be treated with all necessary precautions to prevent contagion. Legislation is thus necessary wherever society requires protection from serious and contagious diseases. The state has therefore a legislative power in dealing with plagues, epidemics, venereal diseases, and other contagious and dangerous diseases. Such legislation is plainly required in the Mosaic Law (Num. 5:1-4). Not only is it declared to be a matter of civil legislation, but also an essential aspect of religious education (Deut. 24:8).

It is clear, however, that this legislation, requiring some kind of quarantine or separation for those who are diseased, or who handle the dead (Num. 5:2), has implications beyond the realm of physical diseases.” (2)

R. J. Rushdoony and quarantine laws through history:

“It is also important to note that the observance of these laws helped eliminate Hansen’s disease, or true leprosy, faster in Europe than in other continents. In Europe, there were at least 9,000 hospitals for leprosy alone, maintained by Christian charity. Louis VII of France left legacies to more than 2,000 hospitals for lepers in his country; no ruler of our times has manifested any comparable charity. The Normans in France applied quarantine strictly, both in Normandy and in England. Thus, the very wealthy and influential Knight, Amiloun, was expelled from his castle to become a beggar when he contracted leprosy. The Lateran Council of 1172 required that special churches be built for lepers, and, in time, both hospitals and churches were available for lepers.” (3)

R. J. Rushdoony bio: a Calvinist philosopher, historian, and theologian and is widely credited as being the father of Christian Reconstructionism and an inspiration for the modern Christian homeschool movement. His followers and critics have argued that his thought exerts considerable influence on the evangelical Christian right. From Wikipedia

The Scriptures on Sanitary Laws:
“And an earthenware vessel that the one with the discharge touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.” (Leviticus 15:12)_

“Encamp outside the for camp seven days. Whoever of you has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats’ hair, and every article of wood.”  (Numbers 31:19-20)

 “If any man among you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp, but when evening comes, he shall bathe himself in water, and as the sun sets, he may come inside the camp.” (Deuteronomy 23:10-11) Burying human waste  “Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment, have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.” (Deuteronomy 23:12-13 NIV)

 An excerpt from The First Book of Public Hygiene:  “On the positive side, the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, provide tremendous insight and relief concerning disease prevention. Remarkably, the Pentateuch is regarded as the earliest evidence we have of sound public health and sanitary practices. These ancient writings, when used in conjunction with modern medicine, can break the mode of transmission of virtually every scourge known to humanity.

What follows is a brief summary of the biblical instructions pertaining to public health and sanitation. Bear in mind that these regulations were practiced some 3,500 years before the germ concept of disease was discovered (mainly by the creationist Louis Pasteur)!” (4)

 The full article is a goldmine of wisdom. As an aside, when God gave the Pentateuch and all of the wisdom included therein to the people of Israel, the continent of Europe was not much more than bands of savages.

 Concluding thoughts:

 Regarding the continuing validity of Old Testament principles:

 “To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 19.4)

 The “general equity” refers not to the specific law, but an abiding principle in the law. 

 For example:

 “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet [railing] for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.” (Deuteronomy 22:8)

 Examples of the enduring continuity would be:

 1.      Having a fence around your swimming pool.

2.      Having your yard fenced in if, you have a potentially vicious dog.

 Some buildings and apartments have rooftop recreational areas. Of course, you would want some type of barrier or railing for protection. In modern jurisprudence, there is a whole body of liability laws that deal with things like this. The bottom line, it is about protecting your neighbor and limiting your liability.

 Many of the case laws are more difficult to find principals that have modern applications. A passage from Mark 12:31 is the key to finding continuing principles of applications.  “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

 Instead of locking down entire states, closing down businesses, and placing people essentially under house arrest, the biblical solution is only the person with infectious disease is quarantined, not the public at large. People are free to visit and care for the infected at their own risk. Many Christian charities do precisely this.   

 The contemporary phrase “social distancing” can be good advice from health and state officials. Likewise, reminding people of personal hygiene such as washing hands.

 On closing churches, this should be the call of the elders of the Church in consultation with health officials. Any responsible official would seek the advice of the local clergy before issuing an edict, forcing churches to cease normal functions.

 Defining churches as non-essential is an egregious overreach on the part of the state.  The Church, at the very least, should protest being labeled as non-essential vigorously. 

 We can pray that this present crisis does not turn into a yearly-politicized flu emergency. 

  Here is a quote from Martin Luther when he faced the Black Death Plague:  “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

 Historically, Christians have never run away from plagues. “God has not given us the spirit of fear.” (2Timothy 1:7)

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



2.       Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Craig Press), p. 293.

3.       Rousas John Rushdoony, Commentaries on the Pentateuch: Leviticus, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2005), p. 144-145.

4.       David Wise, The First Book of Public Hygiene, (Originally published in Creation 26, no 1 (December 2003): 52-55. https:  //

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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