Whom is Ezekiel talking about in 27:13 and 38:2?

Whom is Ezekiel talking about in 27:13 and 38:2?                                           by Jack Kettler

Ezekiel speaks of Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. Whom is Ezekiel talking about in this passage? Is Ezekiel talking about his time or something in the future? Is Rosh Russia? Is Meshech Moscow? Is Tubal the Russian province Tobolsk? As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence for the purpose to glorify God in how we live.

Scriptures

“Javan, Tubal, and Meshech traded with you; they exchanged human beings and vessels of bronze for your merchandise.” (Ezekiel 27:13 ESV)

“Son of man set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him.” (Ezekiel 38:2 ASV)

A first glance, there is nothing in texts above that give any hint of events sometime way in the future. Whom is Ezekiel speaking about in these texts? We should not read into Scripture more than is there.

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, we find a historical interpretation on the Ezekiel 38:2 text:

“(2) Gog, the land of Magog.—“Magog” is mentioned in Genesis 10:2 (1Chronicles 1:5) in connection with Gomer (the Cimmerians) and Madai (the Medes), as the name of a people descended from Japhet. Early Jewish tradition, adopted by Josephus and St. Jerome, identifies them with the Scythians; and this view has seemed probable to nearly all modern expositors. But the name of Scythians must be understood rather in a geographical than in a strictly ethnological sense, of the tribes living north of the Caucasus. Driven from their original home by the Massagetæ, they had poured down upon Asia Minor and Syria shortly before the time of Ezekiel, and had advanced even as far as Egypt. They took Sardis (B.C. 629), spread themselves in Media (B.C. 624), were bribed off from Egypt by Psammeticus, and were finally driven back (B.C. 596), leaving their name as a terror to the whole eastern world for their fierce skill in war, their cruelty, and rapacity. It was probably the memory of their recent disastrous inroads that led Ezekiel to the selection of their name as the representative of the powers hostile to the Church of God.

The name Gog occurs only in connection with Magog, except in 1Chronicles 5:4, as the name of an otherwise unknown Reubenite. It is also the reading of the Samaritan and Septuagint in Numbers 24:7 for Agag. It has generally been supposed that Ezekiel here formed the name from Magog by dropping the first syllable, which was thought to mean simply place or land; but an Assyrian inscription has been discovered, in which Ga-a-gi is mentioned as a chief of the Saka (Scythians), and Mr. Geo. Smith (“Hist. of Assurbanipal”) identifies this name with Gog. The text should be read, Gog, of the land of Magog.

The chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.—Rather, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. Our version has followed St. Jerome in translating Rosh “chief,” because formerly no people of that name was definitely known; but they are frequently mentioned by Arabic writers as a Scythian tribe dwelling in the Taurus, although the attempt to derive from them the name of Russian cannot be considered as sufficiently supported. In Revelation 20:8, Gog and Magog are both symbolic names of nations. For Meshech and Tubal see Note on Ezekiel 27:13.” (1)

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers and his note on Ezekiel 27:13:

“(13) Javan, Tubal, and Meshech.—Javan is strictly Ionia, more generally Greece. Tubal and Meshech are the classic Tibareni and Moschi, between the Black and Caspian Seas. They were famous for dealing in slaves and in brass, or rather copper, of which their mountains still contain abundant supplies.” (2)

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Meshech and Tubal from Ezekiel 27:13:

“13. Javan—the Ionians or Greeks: for the Ionians of Asia Minor were the first Greeks with whom the Asiatics came in contact.

Tubal … Meshech—the Tibareni and Moschi, in the mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas.

Persons of men—that is, as slaves. So the Turkish harems are supplied with female slaves from Circassia and Georgia.

Vessels—all kinds of articles. Superior weapons are still manufactured in the Caucasus region.” (3)

Helpful entries from Strong’s Lexicon:

Gog

Gog,

גּוֹג֙ (gō·wḡ)

Noun – proper – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 1463: Gog = ‘mountain’ 1) a Reubenite, son of Shemaiah 2) the prophetic prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and Magog

Magog

of Magog,

הַמָּג֔וֹג (ham·mā·ḡō·wḡ)

Article | Noun – proper – feminine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 4031: Magog = ‘land of Gog’ n pr m 1) the 2nd son of Japheth, grandson of Noah, and progenitor of several tribes northward from Israel n pr loc 2) the mountainous region between Cappadocia and Media and habitation of the descendants of Magog, son of Japheth and grandson of Noah

Javan,

יָוָ֤ן (yā·wān)

Noun – proper – feminine singular

Hebrew 3120: Javan = ‘Ionia’ or ‘Greece’ n pr m 1) a son of Japheth and grandson of Noah n pr loc 2) Greece, Ionia, Ionians 2a) location of descendants of Javan

Meshech

of Meshech

מֶ֣שֶׁךְ (me·šeḵ)

Noun – proper – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 4902: Mesech or Meshech = ‘drawing out’ 1) son of Japheth, grandson of Noah, and progenitor of peoples to the north of Israel 1a) descendants of Mesech often mentioned in connection with Tubal, Magog, and other northern nations including the Moschi, a people on the borders of Colchis and Armenia

Tubal

and Tubal.

וְתֻבָ֑ל (wə·ṯu·ḇāl)

Conjunctive waw | Noun – proper – feminine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 8422: Tubal = ‘thou shall be brought’ n pr m 1) son of Japheth and grandson of Noah n pr terr 2) a region in east Asia Minor 2a) perhaps nearly equal to Cappadocia

Rosh: head

Original Word: רֹאשׁ

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: rosh

Phonetic Spelling: (roshe)

Definition: head

Commentator Gary DeMar sheds some light on the Hebrew word Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal:

“In Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1, the Hebrew word rosh is translated as if it were the name of a nation. That nation is thought to be modern Russia because rosh sounds like Russia. In addition, Meshech (38:2) is said to sound like Moscow, and Tubal (38:2) is similar to the name of one of the prominent Asiatic provinces of Russia, the province of Tobolsk.” (4)

DeMar cites the noted historian Edwin M. Yamauchi on the word rosh:

“Edwin M. Yamauchi, noted Christian historian and archeologist, writes that rosh “can have nothing to do with modern ‘Russia,’” — “all informed references and studies acknowledge that the association with Moscow and Tobolsk is untenable.”

 Yamauchi continues:

 “Rosh can have nothing to do with modern ‘Russia. This would be a gross anachronism, for the modern name is based upon the name Rus, which was brought into the region of Kiev, north of the Black Sea, by the Vikings only in the Middle Ages.” (5)

 DeMar seals the case against rosh being understood to be Russia by citing a leading dispensationalist Charles Ryrie:

 “Dispensational writer Charles Ryrie does not believe that the rosh-Russian theory holds up. He says: ‘The prince of Rosh (better, ‘the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal’), the area of modern Turkey.’” (6)

 Magog and Meshech from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

 MAGOG

 “ma’-gog (maghogh; Magog): Named among the sons of Japheth (Gen 10:2; 1 Chapter 1:5). Ezekiel uses the word as equivalent to “land of Gog” (Ezekiel 38:2; 39:6). Josephus identifies the Magogites with the Scythians (Ant., I, vi, 1). From a resemblance between the names Gog and Gyges (Gugu), king of Lydia, some have suggested that Magog is Lydia; others, however, urge that Magog is probably only a variant of Gog (Sayce in HDB). In the Apocalypse of John, Gog and Magog represent all the heathen opponents of Messiah (Rev 20:8), and in this sense, these names frequently recur in Jewish apocalyptic literature.” John A. Lees (7)

 MESHECH; MESECH

 “me’-shek, me’-sek (meshekh, “long,” “tall”; Mosoch): Son of Japheth (Gen 10:2; 1Chronicles 1:5; 1:17 is a scribal error for “Mash”; compare Gen 10:22, 23). His descendants and their dwelling-place (probably somewhere in the neighborhood of Armenia (Herodotus iii.94)) seem to be regarded in Scripture as synonyms for the barbaric and remote (Ps 120:5; compare Isa 66:19, where Meshech should be read instead of “that draw the bow”). It is thought that the “Tibareni and Moschi” of the classical writers refer to the same people. Doubtless, they appear in the annals of Assyria as enemies of that country under the names Tabali and Mushki–the latter the descendants of Meshech and the former those of Tubal to whom the term “Tibareni” may refer in the clause above. This juxtaposition of names is in harmony with practically every appearance of the word in Scripture. It is seldom named without some one of the others–Tubal, Javan, Gog and Magog. It is this, which forms a good justification for making the suggested change in Isa 66:19, where Meshech would be in the usual company of Tubal and Javan. Ezekiel mentions them several times, first, as engaged in contributing to the trade of Tyre (Tiras of Gen 10:2?), in “vessels of brass” and–very significantly–slaves; again there is the association of Javan and Tubal with them (Ezekiel 27:13); second, they are included in his weird picture of the under-world: “them that go down into the pit” (Ezekiel 32:18,26). They are mentioned again with Gog and Magog twice as those against whom the prophet is to “set his face” (Ezekiel 38:2, 3; 39:1).” Henry Wallace (8)

 Easton’s Bible Dictionary – Tubal:

 “The fifth son of Japheth Genesis 10:2).

 A nation probably descended from the son of Japheth. It is mentioned by (Isaiah 66:19), along with Javan, and by (Ezekiel 27:13), along with Meshech, among the traders with Tyre, also among the confederates of Gog (Ezekiel 38:2 Ezekiel 38:3; 39:1), and with Meshech among the nations which were to be destroyed (32:26). This nation was probably the Tiberini of the Greek historian Herodotus, a people of the Asiatic highland west of the Upper Euphrates, the southern range of the Caucasus, on the east of the Black Sea.” (9)

 Meshech and Tubal are cities in Turkey, not Russia. Many academics such as the following short list of scholars support this:

 Ralph Alexander Old Testament scholar, (B.A., Rice University; Th.M., Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) is a professor of Hebrew Scriptures and chair of the Division of Bible Studies at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oregon. He has completed graduate work at Hebrew University and specializes in Hebrew and archaeology.

 Daniel I. Block Old Testament scholar, Semitics: Classical Hebrew, School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, England. Dissertation: The Foundations of National Identity: A Study in Ancient Northwest Semitic Perceptions M.A. 1973, Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois

 Edwin Yamauchi, scholar and historian areas of expertise include Ancient History, Old Testament, New Testament, Early Church History, Gnosticism, and Biblical Archaeology. He has been awarded eight fellowships, contributed chapters to several books, articles in reference works, and has published 80 essays in 37 scholarly journals.

 Dr. Michael Heiser holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew, and Semitic languages. He is the co-editor of Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology and Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations, and can do translation work in roughly a dozen ancient languages, including Biblical Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Ugaritic cuneiform. In addition, he was named the 2007 Pacific Northwest Regional Scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature.

 An abbreviated list of dictionaries and encyclopedias:

 The New Bible Dictionary places both Meshech and Tubal in Turkey. See p. 763.

 The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible places Meshech and Tubal in Northern Assyria, which today is northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey today. See pp. 1443-1444.

 In closing:

 An interpretive fallacy:

It is a fallacy to equate Rosh with Russia, Meshech with Moscow, and Tubal with the Russian province Tobolsk. What type of fallacy is this? This fallacy is called an anachronism. “Rosh can have nothing to do with modern ‘Russia. This would be a gross anachronism, for the modern name is based upon the name Rus, which was brought into the region of Kiev, north of the Black Sea, by the Vikings only in the Middle Ages.” See footnote (5) above.

 An anachronism is the representation of an event, person, or thing in a historical context in which it could not have occurred or existed.

 It is incredible that Bible teachers can get away with such logical fallacies like reading the country of Russia into an ancient Hebrew text. Another way to describe this fallacy has been called “newspaper exegesis.” Said another way, it is reading current events from a newspaper back into an ancient text, which is a gross historical anachronism.

 The Bible is not a series of hidden cryptic messages that only later in history will become clear. Are helicopters mentioned in the Bible? For example, “And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months” (Revelation 9:10). Some futurist Bible interpreters say John is talking about helicopter gunships instead of locust-like scorpions. Did God show John some future TV screen vision of helicopters? Since John did not know what he was seeing, he tried the best to describe helicopters as scorpions. Approaching the Bible this way is not biblical exegesis; it is FANTASTIC nonsense.

 What is biblical exegesis?

 The first job of an exegete is to determine what Ezekiel was trying to convey to his readers. Ezekiel was writing under the inspiration of God things to the nation of Israel, for their understanding, not twenty-first-century American futuristic speculators. Being bound by futuristic eschatological assumptions can color one’s research.

 The careful reader of God’s Word should use the grammatical and historical contexts when interpreting the Scriptures. The exegete should not come to the text with preconceived ideas that may color textual interpretation. The grammatical-historical method is a safeguard against this. The grammatical-historical method is a hermeneutical method that seeks to ascertain the authors’ original understanding of a text of Scripture.

 The grammatical-historical method of interpretation focuses attention not only on literary forms but also upon grammatical constructions and historical contexts out of which the Scriptures were written. The grammatical-historical method is solidly in the literal school of interpretation and is the hermeneutical methodology embraced by virtually all Reformed Protestant exegetes and scholars. The goal of biblical exegesis (to bring out) is to explore the meaning of the text, which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance.

 To answer the question:

 Whom is Ezekiel talking about in 27:13 and 38:2?

 Ezekiel was talking about real physical places known in his day, not nations that did not exist. The theories about Russia, fail on both grammatical and historical grounds as well as being logically fallacious.

 Notes:

1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Ezekiel, Vol.5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 309.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Ezekiel, Vol.5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 281.

3.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 708.

4.       Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, (Powder Springs, Georgia, American Vision), p. 363.

5.      Edwin M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier: Invading Hordes from the Russian Steppes, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1982), 20, 24-25.

6.      Charles C. Ryrie, ed., The Ryrie Study Bible, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1978), p. 1285.

7.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘Magog,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 1965.

8.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. “Definition for ‘MESHECH; MESECH’”, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 2038.

9.      M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

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

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

 

For More Study

Debunking the Russia/War of Gog and Magog Myth by Jeffrey Goodman, Ph.D.

http://blogs.christianpost.com/guest-views/debunking-the-russia-war-of-gog-and-magog-myth-8754/#more

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Quotes

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn B. 1918 – D. 2008

“Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, and short story writer. Solzhenitsyn was an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union and Communism and helped to raise global awareness of its Gulag labor camp system.” – Wikipedia

Solzhenitsyn Quotes:

“It’s a universal law– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. ‘One word of truth outweighs the world.’” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Our envy of others devours us most of all.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Pride grows in the human heart like lard on a pig.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“For us in Russia communism is a dead dog. For many people in the West, it is still a living lion.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

In memory of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn by Pastor John Piper:

“Yesterday Alexander Solzhenitsyn died at the age of 89. I pause here on my vacation in the woods of Wisconsin to say, Thank you, heavenly Father, for the inspiration of this man’s life.

No one did more than Solzhenitsyn to expose the horrors of the failed communist experiment in Russia. Hitler’s purge would pale, if such things could pale, when compared to ten times the carnage in Stalin’s gulags.

Solzhenitsyn inspired me because of the suffering he endured and the effect it had on him. Here is the quote that I have not forgotten. It moves me deeply to this day. After his imprisonment in the Russian gulag of Joseph Stalin’s “corrective labor camps” Solzhenitsyn wrote:

“It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts…. That is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: “Bless you, prison!” I…have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!” (The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956, Vol. 2, 615-617)”

For the complete message go to https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/thank-you-lord-for-solzhenitsyn

11/12/2018, PRESIDENT PUTIN UNVEILS SOLZHENITSYN MONUMENT

At a ceremony today on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Street in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new monument of Solzhenitsyn.  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Center — PRESIDENT PUTIN UNVEILS SOLZHENITSYN MONUMENT

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The spirits in prison mentioned in 1Peter 3:19, who are they?

The spirits in prison mentioned in 1Peter 3:19, who are they?                       By Jack Kettler

Are these spirits in prison, those who get a second chance at salvation? Are these the spirits of men, or angels or demons? These two are the main questions we will seek an answer to. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence, and confessional support for the purpose to glorify God in how we live.

Scripture

“By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1Peter 3:19-20)

ΠΕΤΡΟΥ Α΄ 3:19 Greek NT: Stephanus Textus Receptus 1550

ἐν ᾧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν

This passage of Scripture has been the subject of much speculation. We will look at an older historical interpretation and then a contemporary commentary entry – first, the older commentary entry.

First, from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on 1Peter 3:19:

“(19) By which.—If “by the Spirit” had been right in the former verse, this translation might have stood here, though the word is literally in; for “in” is often used to mean “in the power of,” “on the strength of:” e.g., Romans 8:15. But as that former rendering is untenable, we must here keep strictly to in which—i.e., in spirit. This might mean either of two things: (1) “spiritually speaking,” “so far as thought and sympathy goes,” as, for instance, 1Corinthians 5:3, Colossians 2:5; or else (2) “in spirit,” as opposed to “in the body”—i.e., “out of the body” (2Corinthians 12:2; comp. Revelation 1:10), as a disembodied spirit. We adopt the latter rendering without hesitation, for reasons, which will be clearer in the next Note.

He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.—There are two main ways of interpreting this mysterious passage. (1) The spirits are understood as being now in prison, in consequence of having rejected His preaching to them while they were still on earth. According to this interpretation—which has the support of such names as Pearson, Hammond, Barrow, and Leighton (though he afterwards modified his opinion). among ourselves, besides divers great theologians of other countries, including St. Thomas Aquinas on the one hand and Beza on the other—it was “in spirit,” i.e., mystically speaking, our Lord Himself who, in and through the person of Noah, preached repentance to the old world. Thus the passage is altogether dissociated from the doctrine of the descent into hell; and the sense (though not the Greek) would be better expressed by writing, He had gone and preached unto the spirits (now) in prison. In this case, however, it is difficult to see the purpose of the digression, or what could have brought the subject into St. Peter’s mind. (2) The second interpretation—which is that of (practically) all the Fathers, and of Calvin, Luther (finally), Bellarmine, Bengel, and of most modern scholars—refers the passage to what our Lord did while His body was dead. This is the most natural construction to put upon the words “in which also” (i.e., in spirit). It thus gives point to the saying that He was “quickened in spirit,” which would otherwise be left very meaningless. The “spirits” here will thus correspond with “in spirit” there. It is the only way to assign any intelligible meaning to the words “He went and” to suppose that He “went” straight from His quickening in spirit—i.e., from His death. It is far the most natural thing to suppose that the spirits were in prison at the time when Christ went and preached to them. We take it, then, to mean that, directly Christ’s human spirit was disengaged from the body, He gave proof of the new powers of purely spiritual action thus acquired by going off to the place, or state, in which other disembodied spirits were (who would have been incapable of receiving direct impressions from Him had He not Himself been in the purely spiritual condition), and conveyed to them certain tidings: He “preached” unto them. What was the substance of this preaching we are not here told, the word itself (which is not the same as, e.g., in 1Peter 1:25) only means to publish or proclaim like a crier or herald; and as the spirits are said to have been disobedient and in prison, some have thought that Christ went to proclaim to them the certainty of their damnation! The notion has but to be mentioned to be rejected with horror; but it may be pointed out also that in 1Peter 4:6, which refers back to this passage, it is distinctly called a “gospel;” and it would be too grim to call that a gospel which (in Calvin’s words) “made it more clear and patent to them that they were shut out from all salvation!” He brought good tidings, therefore, of some kind to the “prison” and the spirits in it. And this “prison” must not be understood (with Bp. Browne, Articles, p. 95) as merely “a place of safe keeping,” where good spirits might be as well as bad, though etymologically this is imaginable. The word occurs thirty-eight times in the New Testament in the undoubted sense of a “prison,” and not once in that of a place of protection, though twice (Revelation 18:2) it is used in the derived sense of ‘a cage.’” (1)

Next, from Simon J. Kistemaker’s, New Testament Commentary provides a contemporary interpretation of Spirits from 1Peter 3:19–20a:

“Verse 19 is difficult to interpret, for in this relatively short sentence the meaning of each word varies. D. Edmond Hiebert observes, “Each of the nine words in the original has been differently understood.” Accordingly, we cannot expect unanimity in the interpretation of this passage; concurrence eludes us.

Here is the reading of the New International Version:

  1. Through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20a. Who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

What does this text say? Let us look at the component parts, explain them sequentially, and view the text in its context.

  1. “Through whom.” The antecedent of the word whom is the term spirit (either with or without a capital letter). If we take the relative pronoun whom to relate to the nearest antecedent, then we understand that it refers to the Holy Spirit (see the preceding verse). Through the instrumentality of the Spirit of God, Jesus Christ after his resurrection “went and preached to the spirits in prison.” Note that in his epistle Peter mentions the Spirit a few times: “the sanctifying work of the Spirit” (1:2), “the Spirit of Christ” (1:11), and the preaching of the gospel “by the Holy Spirit” (1:12).

We can also relate the phrase through whom to the word spirit without the capital letter. If we interpret the phrase in this sense, its meaning actually is “in which” or “in the resurrected state.” The relative pronoun, then, relates to the spiritual state of Christ after his resurrection.

Some interpreters suggest the translation in the course of which. The antecedent of “which” then seems to be the general context. However, the connection between the relative phrase through whom and the nearest term spirit is unmistakable and thus preferred.

  1. “Also he went and preached.” What is meant by the word also? Apparently Peter wants us to understand it in the sequence of the verbs put to death and made alive. The words he went and preached follow this sequence in the preceding verse. We understand, then, that after his resurrection Jesus went to preach to the spirits in prison.

In the Greek, the same word (“went”) is used in verse 19 as in verse 22 (“who has gone into heaven”). We assume that if Peter speaks about the ascension of Jesus in the one verse, by implication he does so in the other (also see Acts 1:10–11). We have no certainty, however, because the word went as such is indefinite and means, “to go elsewhere.” But if we interpret Paul’s remark about the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12) spatially, then the verb went can mean “to go up” and can refer to Christ’s ascension. Also, the sequence of verses 18 and 19 indicates that Christ went to preach in his resurrected state.

Does the statement he went and preached mean that Jesus descended into hell? No, it does not, because evidence for this assumption is lacking. Scripture nowhere teaches that Christ after his resurrection and prior to his ascension descended into hell. Moreover, we have difficulty in accepting the explanation that Christ in his spirit went to preach to Noah’s contemporaries. But before we continue this point, we must ask this question:

What is meant by the word preached? The verb stands by itself, so that we are unable to determine the content of preaching. In brief, only the fact of preaching, not the message, is important. That is, we understand the verb preached to mean that Christ proclaimed victory over his adversaries. In his brevity, Peter refrains from telling us the context of Christ’s proclamation. We would be adding to the text if we should interpret the word preached to signify the preaching of the gospel. “Hence we may suppose with reason that it is the victory of Christ over His adversaries which is emphasized in 3:19, not the conversion or evangelization of the disobedient spirits.”

  1. “To the spirits in prison.” Do the spirits belong to human beings or to fallen angels or to both? In this passage Peter gives the word spirit two qualifications. First, the spirits are kept in prison. In Revelation, 20:7 John writes that Satan “will be released from his prison” (see also vv. 1–3). And in his second epistle, Peter writes that God sent angels that sinned “into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4; compare Jude 6). Incidentally, Scripture nowhere states that the souls of men are kept in prison.

Next, Peter says that the spirits are those “who disobeyed long ago” (v. 20a). He writes, “the spirits … who disobeyed.” He does not say, “the spirits of those who disobeyed.” If this were the case, Peter could mean the souls of departed men who had been disobedient during their lifetime. However, the word spirits as Peter qualifies it refers to supernatural beings. Peter’s use of this word agrees with the connotation in the Gospels, where it refers to “evil spirits” (see, e.g., Mark 3:11). This usage also agrees with intertestamental literature, in which the term spirits designates angels or demons.

According to the writer of Hebrews, Christ does not help angels (2:16). Rather, he redeems the spiritual descendants of Abraham. Furthermore, if we would interpret the word spirits to be those of men, we should realize that Peter’s qualification regarding disobedient spirits points to willful rejection of God’s authority. Scripture teaches that there is no forgiveness for the sin of deliberate disobedience (Heb. 6:4–6; 10:26). Last, no scriptural doctrine teaches that man has a second chance for repentance after death. When the curtain is drawn between time and eternity, man’s destiny is sealed, and the period of grace and repentance has ended (read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus [Luke 16:19–31]). Consequently, I interpret the phrase the spirits in prison to refer to supernatural beings and not to the souls of men.

  1. “God waited patiently.” A literal translation of this part of the verse is, “when the patience of God kept waiting.” That is, God’s forbearance lasted 120 years before he destroyed humanity, eight persons excepted, with the flood. The construction, translated “God waited patiently,” stresses the leniency of God before he executed his sentence on the human race (compare Gen. 6:3). From the time of Adam to the day when Noah entered the ark, God exercised patience. Noah’s contemporaries were notoriously wicked and served as agents of demonic spirits in their rebellion against God. There is no other time in history in which the contrast between faith and unbelief, obedience and disobedience, was as pronounced as in the days of Noah. The rebellious spirits seemed to control the human race with the exception of Noah and his family.

Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions in 3:19–20a

Verse 19

ἐν ᾧ καί—in 1902 British New Testament scholar J. Rendel Harris popularized a conjecture that had been suggested by J. Bowyer in 1763. Harris conjectured that the reading of the first part of verse 19 should be ἐν ᾧ καὶ Ἐνώχ (in which Enoch [went and preached]). Although the suggestion proved to be attractive, scholars applied the rule that for a conjecture to be acceptable, it must fulfill two conditions: the text must be incomprehensible without the conjecture and the conjecture must improve our understanding of that text. Examining the evidence, however, they concluded that the conjecture was unable to satisfy these two conditions and therefore had to be dismissed.

ἐν θυλακῇ—although the noun prison is not explained in the text, its position is emphatic. The prepositional phrase in prison is placed between the definite article the and the noun spirits.

Verse 20a

ἀπειθήσασιν—this aorist active participle in the neuter dative plural clarifies the noun πνεύμασιν (spirits). The participle derives from the verb ἀπειθειω (I disobey). In the aorist tense, it points to sins committed in the past. The position of the participle is predicate. We translate noun and participle as “spirits who disobeyed.”

ἀπεξεδέχετο—this compound verb is in the imperfect tense and in the middle (deponent) voice. It expresses continued action in the past tense. Because of the compound, this verb is intensive or perfective. It means “to wait patiently for” or “to wait it out.”

κατασκευαζομέης—the present passive participle in the genitive case with κιβωτοῦ (ark) in the same case constitutes the genitive absolute construction. Note that the use of the present tense denotes duration; from use of the passive voice we infer that a work force was needed to build the ark.

Additional comments on 3:19–20a:

Interpretations of this particular text are many. Here are some of them listed in chronological sequence.

  1. Clement of Alexandria, about a.d. 200, taught that Christ went to hell in his spirit to proclaim the message of salvation to the souls of sinners who were imprisoned there since the flood (Stromateis 6.6).
  2. Augustine, about a.d. 400, said that the preexistent Christ proclaimed salvation through Noah to the people who lived before the flood (Epistolae 164).
  3. In the last half of the sixteenth century, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine introduced a view that has been held by many Roman Catholics: in his spirit Christ went to release the souls of the righteous who repented before the flood and had been kept in Limbo, that is, the place between heaven and hell where, Bellarmine said, the souls of the Old Testament saints were kept (De Controversiis 2.4, 13).
  4. An interpretation promulgated by Friedrich Spitta in the last decade of the nineteenth century is this: After his death and before his resurrection, Christ preached to fallen angels, also known as “sons of God,” who during Noah’s time had married “daughters of men” (Gen. 6:2; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
  5. Contemporary commentators teach that the resurrected Christ, when he ascended into heaven, proclaimed to imprisoned spirits his victory over deaths.

Although space prevents me from commenting on all the strengths and weaknesses of these views, I select a few of the major objections. And although it is virtually impossible to achieve unanimity in understanding the text, I call attention to the view that many theologians favor.

The first view is the one of Clement of Alexandria. He taught that Christ went to hell in his spirit to proclaim the message of salvation to the souls of sinners who were imprisoned there since the flood. Two basic objections can be voiced against Clement’s interpretation: one, Scripture is silent on imprisonment of souls condemned by God, and two, Augustine’s doctrine that there is no conversion after death repudiates Clement’s view.

Next, Augustine said that the preexistent Christ proclaimed salvation through Noah to the people who lived before the flood. No one disputes the fact that the Spirit of Christ was active in the time between Adam’s fall into sin and the birth of Jesus (see Peter’s comment in 1:11). The objection to Augustine’s view is that he departs from the wording of 1Peter 3:19. Augustine speaks of the pre-incarnate Christ and not of the Christ who “was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” Augustine’s interpretation dominated the theological scene for centuries until the doctrinal view of Bellarmine displaced it in the Roman Catholic Church.

Third, Bellarmine taught that even though Christ’s body died on the cross, his soul remained alive. Thus in his spirit Christ went to release the souls of the righteous who repented before the flood and were in Limbo. Bellarmine’s interpretation has been rejected by Protestants, because they point out that Scripture teaches that the Old Testament saints are in heaven (see, e.g., Heb. 11:5, 16, 40; 12:23).

Then there is the interpretation of Spitta. He said that Christ after his death and before his resurrection preached to fallen angels who during Noah’s time had married “daughters of men.” But this view faces a serious objection. Answering the Sadducees who asked him about the resurrection, Jesus asserted that angels neither marry nor are given in marriage (Matt. 22:30). We have difficulty understanding how fallen angels, who are spirits, can have sexual relations with women.

Last, recent commentators teach that the resurrected Christ, during his ascension to heaven, proclaimed to imprisoned spirits his victory over death. The exalted Christ passed through the realm where the fallen angels are kept and proclaimed his triumph over them (Eph. 6:12; Col. 2:15). This interpretation has met favorable response in Protestant and Roman Catholic circles and is in harmony with the teaching of the Petrine passage and the rest of Scripture.” (2)

Next, helpful entries from two encyclopedia dictionaries: 

First, from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

PRISON, SPIRITS IN

“The phrase occurs in the much-disputed passage, 1 Peter 3:18-20, where the apostle, exhorting Christians to endurance under suffering for well-doing, says:

“Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.” It is plain that in this context “the spirits in prison” (tois en phulake pneumasin) denote the generation who were disobedient in the days of Noah, while the words “spirits” and “in prison” refer to their present disembodied condition in a place of judgment in the unseen world (compare 2 Peter 2:4-9). The crucial point in the passage lies in what is said of Christ’s preaching to these spirits in prison. The interpretation which strikes one most naturally is that Christ, put to death in the flesh, and made alive again in the spirit, went in this spiritual (disembodied) state, and preached to these spirits, who once had been disobedient, but are viewed as now possibly receptive of His message This is the idea of the passage taken by the majority of modern exegetes, and it finds support in what is said in 1 Peter 4:6, “For unto this end was the gospel preached even to the dead, that they might be judged indeed according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” On this basis is now often reared a mass of doctrine or conjecture respecting “second probation,” “restoration,” etc.–in part going back to patristic times–for which the passage, even so taken, affords a very narrow foundation (see on this view, Plumptre, The Spirits in Prison; Dorner, System of Christian Doctrine, IV, 130-32; E. White, Life in Christ, chapter xxii). It must be admitted, however, that, on closer examination, the above plausible explanation is compassed with many difficulties. A preaching of Christ in Hades is referred to in no other passage of Scripture, while Peter appears to be speaking to his readers of something with which they are familiar; it seems strange that these antediluvians should be singled out as the sole objects of this preaching in the spiritual world; the word “made alive” does not exegetically refer to a disembodied state, but to the resurrection of Christ in the body, etc. Another line of interpretation is therefore preferred by many, who take the words “in which also he went,” to refer, not to a disembodied manifestation, but to the historical preaching to the antediluvian generation through Noah while they yet lived. In favor of this view is the fact that the apostle in 1Peter 1:11 regards the earlier prophetic preaching as a testifying of “the Spirit of Christ,” that God’s long-suffering with Noah’s generation is described in Genesis 6:5, which Peter has doubtless in his mind, as a striving of God’s Spirit, and that in 2 Peter 2:5 there is another allusion to these events, and Noah is described as “a preacher of righteousness.” The passage, 1Peter 4:6, may have the more general meaning that Christians who have died are at no disadvantage in the judgment as compared with those who shall be alive at the Parousia (compare 1Thessalonians 4:15-18). (For an exposition of this view, with a full account of the interpretations and literature on the subject, compare Salmond’s Christian Doctrine of Immortality, 4th edition, 364-87.)” James Orr (3)

Second, from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology:

Spirits in Prison

“The spirits in prison are referred to in 1Peter 3:19-20, where Peter declares that they disobeyed in the time of Noah and that Christ went and preached to them in prison. This passage has often been identified as one of the most obscure in the entire New Testament. Other passages are often used to interpret this one, but it must be understood in its own literary context and ideological environment.

Verses 19-21 appear in the middle of a christological confession of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (v. 18) and his exaltation to the right hand of the Father (v. 22 cf. 1Tim 3:16 ). Verses 19-21 declare his triumphant declaration to the evil spirits, and contrasts them with Noah, who was saved through water — a type of Christian baptism.

Peter used this confession and triumphant journey of Christ to encourage his readers, who were suffering ridicule and persecution as a result of their conversion (1:6; 4:4. In particular, it follows 3:13-17, which explains how they should respond to unreasonable abuse, especially when they have been zealous in living an honorable life before their accusers (2:11-3:12). And their participation in the triumph of Christ is assured by their pledge of a good conscience in baptism (v. 21).

This journey of Christ took place after the resurrection rather than between his death and resurrection, since the description follows the resurrection in verse 18, and the relative clause “in which” (en ho) refers either to his resurrected spiritual state, or “at that time,” that is, after his death and resurrection. Since the very same form of the participle (poreutheis, “going,” or “traveling”) is used in both verse 19 and verse 22, it is most likely that this is a single journey of Christ through the heavens to the right hand of the Father (v. 22).

The distinctive characteristic of these spirits is that they were in prison when Christ traveled to them, since the prepositional phrase is in the attributive position (tois en phulake pneumasin, “the in prison spirits”).

That these spirits are the evil angels of Genesis 6:1-4 (or their offspring) is indicated by their being in prison, their disobedience in the time of Noah, their mention in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6, and the New Testament use of the plural noun (“spirits,” pneumasin) as a reference to evil spirits unless otherwise qualified. This is further supported by contemporary Jewish literature (1Enoch 6:1-8; 12:1-16:4; 19:1; 2Baruch 56:12), which describes these evil angels in the same way as the passage in 1Peter.” Norman R. Ericson (4)

In closing:

As seen by the older Bible commentator Charles John Ellicott, and the older International Standard Bible Encyclopedia entries the difficulty in understanding the text in 1Peter 3:19.

Simon J. Kistemaker in his New Testament Commentary and Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology have the advantage of the most recent tools of scholarship. While the older views on the passage should not be dismissed out of hand, the newer interpretation seems more plausible.

It is safe to say:

The spirits in prison are not men, but fallen angels. Support for this is in 2Peter 2:4–5 and Jude 1:6.

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” (2Peter 2:4-5 ESV)

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 1:6 ESV)

Both of these texts speak of the fallen angels being in chains until the judgment.

Simon J. Kistemaker’s commentary entry on 1Peter 3:19 is convincing when he argues that the spirits are fallen angelic spiritual beings and not fallen men. In addition, Kistemaker reasons that Peter cannot be talking about men. Fallen men do not get a second chance at salvation.

Then Kistemaker cites Hebrews 11:5 that speaks of Enoch to show that godly men in the Old Testament went to heaven, not to prison. Godly men before the resurrection of Christ did not go to spirit prison. This account of Enoch parallels the thief on the cross (Matthew 27:38). Both went to be with Christ.

As a necessary aside. The spirit prison is not Abraham’s Bosom:

Abraham’s Bosom

“Unique phrase found in a parable of Jesus describing the place where Lazarus went after death (Luke 16:19-31). It is a figurative phrase that appears to have been drawn from a popular belief that the righteous would rest by Abraham’s side in the world to come, an opinion described in Jewish literature at the time of Christ. The word kolpos [kovlpo] literally refers to the side or lap of a person. Figuratively, as in this case, it refers to a place of honor reserved for a special guest, similar to its usage in John 13:23. In the case of Lazarus, the reserved place is special because it is beside Abraham, the father of all the righteous. The phrase may be synonymous to the paradise promised to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43). Together these passages support the conviction that a believer enjoys immediate bliss at the moment of physical death.” Sam Hamstra, Jr. (5)

In the beginning, two questions were asked:

To answer the starting question about the possibility of 1Peter 3:19 talking about spirits of men awaiting a second chance for salvation. It can be said with Scriptural certainty; this is impossible in light of “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) In addition, “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6:2)

In answer to the second question at the beginning of this study, it is safe to conclude:

God punished the disobedient angels with imprisonment. When Jesus died, He went spiritually and proclaimed as Ellicott said like “a crier or herald” to these spirits in prison. Jesus proclaimed His victory to the fallen angels imprisoned there. “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:15) Amen!

Notes:

  1. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, 1Peter, Vol.8, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 420-421.
  2. Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Peter, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1986), pp. 141-146.
  3. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘PRISON, SPIRITS IN,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 2456.
  4. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 745-746.
  5. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 7-8.

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

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

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Who is a Virtuous Woman? Can a Christian woman work outside the home?

Who is a Virtuous Woman? Can a Christian woman work outside the home? By Jack Kettler

The Scriptures and Women who worked outside the home:

The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:

“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” (Proverbs 31:12-16 ESV)

The virtuous woman in the above passage is also one who “guides the house” as we read in (1Timothy 5:14). This “guiding the house” in no way conflicts with buying, restate, planting crops or selling merchandise.

More on the virtuous woman:

“She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” (Proverbs 31:18 ESV)

“She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.” (Proverbs 31:24 ESV)

Women mentioned in the New Testament:

“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” (Acts 16:14)

“And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” (Acts 18:2–3)

It almost seems incidental to the text about the two women from the Acts passages and their work. Nevertheless, the two women Lydia and Priscilla who worked outside the home were not admonished for doing so.

Texts used to prove that Women should not work outside the home:

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” (1Timothy 5:14)

Guiding the house supposedly means only to work as a homemaker.

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, workers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5)

“Workers at home” supposedly rule out earning income outside the home. In these two examples, it can be said that more is being taken from the text that is said.

The above two passage set-forth the Godly wife’s primary duties. These texts are the primary passages used to argue for women to stay at home. In these texts, there is no direct command for a woman not to work outside or in the home. The virtuous of Proverbs 31 did both.

A wife can be a “worker at home” and still run a home business, or work outside the home. A married woman’s principal role should be to help her husband. This can mean financial help. Helping her husband by bringing in extra income cannot be excluded. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is a perfect example of this. Proverbs 31 and 1Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:3-5 are not contradictory.

To maintain a dogma against women working is undermined with examples of single moms, or women whose husbands are disabled. Even the strict doctrinaires are forced to give ground to these particular cases.

The case of farming families:

The women stay at home doctrinaires also run into trouble with women milking cows and a host of other farm chores.

In closing:

Admittedly, young women staying home and raising children is the best of the best options. Homeschooling of the children is a full-time job and along with other duties, it is hard to see how more could be asked. Life is not that simple; many situations arise that call for sacrifices to be made, which may involve a woman working outside the home.

A woman working outside the home should not be judged. In addition, she should not be made to feel like a second class in a church that has many stay at home moms. What is ideally right is not always possible in the way God’s providence works out. Because of God’s providence and special cases is why we should not be quick to judge.

“But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1Timothy 5:8)

Does this command only apply to a man? What about single moms? What about a woman whose husband has died and has children in the home? Whatever the circumstance this admonition can apply to both men and women. This closing Scripture gives further support to the idea that a woman can work outside to home. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is biblical woman par excellence. The Bible does not forbid a woman from working outside the home.

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

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

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Observations and Quotations about Atheism and its cousin, Agnosticism

Observations and Quotations about Atheism and its cousin, Agnosticism:

“God is that, the greater than which cannot be conceived.” – Anselm of Canterbury

“Agnosticism is epistemologically self-contradictory on its own assumptions because its claim to make no assertion about ultimate reality rests upon a most comprehensive assertion about ultimate reality.” – Cornelius Van Til

“By this rejection of God, agnosticism has embraced complete relativism. Yet this relativism must furnish a basis for the rejection of the absolute. Accordingly, the standard of self-contradiction taken for granted by antitheistic thought presupposes the absolute for its operation. Antitheism presupposes theism. One must stand upon the solid ground of theism to be an effective antitheist.” – Cornelius Van Til

“The atheist argues that science has proved the nonexistence of God, but the argument is invalid. No scientist has ever produced any evidence that man’s intellect ceases to function at death. Since his methods have not discovered any spirit, Nagel assumes there can be none. He refuses to question his methods. Atheism is not a conclusion developed by his methods; rather it is the assumption on which his methods are based.” – Gordon H. Clark

“The atheist who asserts that there is no God asserts by the same words that he holds the whole universe in his mind; he asserts that no fact, past, present, future, near, or far, escapes his attention, that no power, however great, can baffle or deceive him. In rejecting God, he claims omniscience and omnipotence. In other words, an atheist is one who claims that he himself is God” – Gordon H. Clark,

“When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary. The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes.” – Greg Bahnsen

“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence. Believe me, everything that we call chance today won’t make sense anymore. To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.” – Michio Kaku

“The greatest artists, saints, philosophers, and, until quite recent times, scientists… have all assumed that the New Testament promise of eternal life is valid…. I’d rather be wrong with Dante and Shakespeare and Milton, with Augustine of Hippo and Francis of Assisi, with Dr. Johnson, Blake, and Dostoevsky than right with Voltaire, Rousseau, the Huxleys, Herbert Spencer, H. G. Wells, and Bernard Shaw.” – Malcolm Muggeridge

“Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.” – G. K. Chesterton

“A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” – Francis Bacon

“I now believe there is a God…I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.” “…we have all the evidence we need in our immediate experience and that only a deliberate refusal to “look” is responsible for atheism of any variety.” – Antony Flew

“The atheist is cheating whenever he makes a moral judgment, acting as though it has an objective reference, when his philosophy in fact precludes it.” – William A. Dembski

“A universe whose only claim to be believed in rests on the validity of inference must not start telling us the inference is invalid.” – C.S. Lewis

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

“If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes. It cuts its own throat.” – C.S. Lewis

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

“My conclusion is that contrary to popular belief, atheism is not primarily an intellectual revolt, it is a moral revolt. Atheists don’t find God invisible so much as objectionable. They aren’t adjusting their desires to the truth, but rather the truth to fit their desires. This is something we can all identify with. It is a temptation even for believers. We want to be saved as long as we are not saved from our sins. We are quite willing to be saved from a whole host of social evils, from poverty to disease to war. But we want to leave untouched the personal evils, such as selfishness and lechery and pride. We need spiritual healing, but we do not want it. Like a supervisory parent, God gets in our way. This is the perennial appeal of atheism: it gets rid of the stern fellow with the long beard and liberates us for the pleasures of sin and depravity. The atheist seeks to get rid of moral judgment by getting rid of the judge.” – Dinesh D’Souza

“If the laws of logic are metaphysically dependent on God, it follows that every logical argument presupposes the existence of God. What this means is that every sound theistic argument not only proves the existence of God but also presupposes the existence of God, insofar as that argument depends on logical inference. Indeed, every unsound theistic argument presupposes the existence of God. And the same goes, naturally, for every antitheistic argument. The irony must not be missed: one can logically argue against God only if God exists.” – Dale Tuggy and Greg Welty paraphrasing Van Til

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

“You think you are too intelligent to believe in God. I am not like you.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

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

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

God Bless,
 
 
Jack Kettler

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What is a Biblical Prophet?

What is a Biblical Prophet?                                                                  By Jack Kettler

This study will be a general overview of what constitutes the nature of a biblical prophet. As will be seen, the Old Testament prophetic office was a foreshadowing of the heavenly office of Christ and His headship over the Church. Christ’s present mediatorial reign and implications will be briefly considered. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence, and confessional support for the purpose to glorify God in how we live.

Definitions:

What is a prophet in the Bible?

Answer: In a general sense, a prophet is a person who speaks God’s truth to others. The English word prophet comes from the Greek word prophetes, which can mean “one who speaks forth” or “advocate.” Prophets are also called “seers,” because of their spiritual insight or their ability to “see” the future. *

Prophet:

“A prophet is someone who is the mouthpiece of God. He stands between God and man to communicate to man the Word of God. When the prophet spoke as the mouthpiece, he was inspired and without error. The prophet, though, is not a puppet or a mindless repeater of what he hears. Instead, he retains his own will, mind, and thoughts as he speaks for God. God would put His words in their mouths (Deut. 18:18, Jer. 1:9). A prophet was God’s servant (Zech. 1:6) and messenger (2Chron. 36:15). The prophecies fell into three categories: concerning the destiny of Israel, the messianic prophecies, and eschatological prophecies. The term Law and Prophets refers to the writings of the OT divided into two categories. The Law is the Pentateuch or Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Prophets are all the rest of the OT books.” **

Scriptures and select commentary entries:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.” (Deuteronomy 18:15 ESV)

Whom was Moses speaking of in this passage?

From the Pulpit Commentary on the passage from Deuteronomy we read:

“Verses 15-22. – There should be no need for Israel to turn to heathen soothsayers, or diviners, or such like, because from amongst themselves, of their own brethren, would God raise up prophets like unto Moses, who, as occasion required, would reveal to them what God willed them to know. Verse 15. – A Prophet. The Hebrew word so rendered (נָבִיא) is a derivative from a verb (נָבָא), which signifies to tell, to announce; hence the primary concept of the word is that of announcer, or forth-speaker; and to this the word “prophet” (Greek προφήτης from πρόφημι, I speak before or in place of) closely corresponds; the prophet is one who speaks in the place of God, who conveys God’s word to men, who is an interpreter of God to men. (As illustrative of the meaning of the word, cf. Exodus 7:1; Exodus 4:16.) Hence Abraham is called a prophet (Genesis 20:7), and the term is applied to the patriarchs generally (Psalm 105:15); God conveyed his mind to them, and they spoke it forth to others (cf. Amos 3:7). Like unto me. When the people heard the voice of God speaking to them at Sinai, and from the midst of the fire uttering to them the Ten Words, they were struck with terror, and besought that they might not again hear that awful voice, but that Moses might act as mediator between God and them – might hear what God should say, and speak it unto them (Deuteronomy 5:22-27). Moses thus became God’s prophet to the people; and of this, he reminds them here, as well as of the circumstances amid which he entered specially on this office (cf. vers. 16, 17). The phrase, “like unto me,” does not necessarily imply that the prophet who was to come after Moses was to be in every respect the same as he; all that is indicated is that he would act as Moses had acted as a mediator between God and the people in the way of conveying his will to them.” (1)

Deuteronomy speaks of a coming prophet. The next passage from Luke shows the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy.

“Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” (Luke 7:16 ESV)

From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Luke 7:16:

“And there came a fear on all … That were there present, and heard, and saw what was done. Not a fear of dread, and terror, and of punishment, as in devils and wicked men; but a fear and reverence of the divine majesty, whose power and presence they were sensible must be there at that time:

and they glorified God; they praised him, and gave thanks to him, ascribing this amazing action to divine power, and gave God the glory of it; and blessed him for the Messiah, who was sent unto them, as they concluded Jesus to be, from this wonderful instance:

saying, that a great prophet is risen up among us; even that great prophet Moses wrote of, and said should be raised up from among the children of Israel, Deuteronomy 18:15 and that God hath visited his people. The Arabic version adds, “for good.” For God sometimes visits for evil, in a wave of wrath and sore displeasure; but this was a visitation for good: they concluded that God had looked upon them with a look of love, and had a gracious regard to them, and had sent them the Messiah, who, they hoped, would deliver them from the Roman yoke; as he had formerly looked upon, and visited their fathers, and sent a redeemer to them, to deliver them from Egyptian bondage. The Ethiopic version renders it, “and God hath mercy on his people;” and the Persic version, ‘God hath looked upon his people, and hath taken care of them.’” (2)

The writer of Hebrews further confirms the fulfillment of what is said in Luke:

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)

In times past God spoke through His prophets. Now He speaks through His Son.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary summarizes the Hebrews passage nicely:

“1:1-3 God spake to his ancient people at sundry times, through successive generations, and in divers manners, as he thought proper; sometimes by personal directions, sometimes by dreams, sometimes by visions, sometimes by Divine influences on the minds of the prophets. The gospel revelation is excellent above the former, in that it is a revelation, which God has made by his Son. In beholding the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ, we behold the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Father, Joh 14:7; the fulness of the Godhead dwells, not typically, or in a figure, but really, in him. When, on the fall of man, the world was breaking to pieces under the wrath and curse of God, the Son of God, undertaking the work of redemption, sustained it by his almighty power and goodness. From the glory of the person and office of Christ, we proceed to the glory of his grace. The glory of His person and nature, gave to his sufferings such merit as was a full satisfaction to the honour of God, who suffered an infinite injury and affront by the sins of men. We never can be thankful enough that God has in so many ways, and with such increasing clearness, spoken to us fallen sinners concerning salvation. That he should by himself cleanse us from our sins is a wonder of love beyond our utmost powers of admiration, gratitude, and praise.” (3)

Hence, Jesus is the fulfillment of the future prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15. Moreover, the perfection of Christ in His position as head of the Church negates the need for Old Testament type prophets functioning today. This argument of Christ’s headship rests upon the sufficiency of Christ. Christ’s representatives today are pastors, teachers and deacons. For elders, see Titus 1:5, 7; Acts 20:17, 28 and for deacons see Acts 20:35; 1Timothy 5:17.

Christ and His exalted place as the head of the Church:

“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” (Ephesians 1:22)

Offices of Christ as head of the Church:

Presently Jesus occupies three main offices: Prophet, Priest, and King first seen in the Old Covenant with Israel. In the New Covenant, these three offices became combined into one office held exclusively by the Lord Jesus Christ.

These Messianic offices anticipated in the Old Covenant:

The Messianic Prophet is seen in “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

The Messianic Priest is seen in: “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)

The Messianic King is seen in “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2:6)

Scriptural passages that support the Threefold offices of Christ:

From Scripture, Christ as a Prophet:

“A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22-23)

From Scripture, Christ as a Priest:

“Even he shall build the temple of the LORD and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zechariah 6:13)

From Scripture, Christ as a King:

“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2:6)

“Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” (John 12:15)

“Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” (1Timothy 6:15)

Christ holds the unified office of Prophet, Priest, and King, and shares it with no one. The writer of Hebrews in 7:13-17 declares that Jesus is the one eternal high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Now for some valuable overviews of the Old Testament biblical prophets.

General characteristics of a prophet by Louis Berkhof:

“THE SCRIPTURAL IDEA OF A PROPHET.

  1. The terms used in Scripture. The Old Testament uses three words to designate a prophet, namely, nabhi, ro’eh, and chozeh. The radical meaning of the word nabhi is uncertain, but it is evident from such passages as Ex. 7:1 and Deut. 18:18 that the word designates one who comes with a message from God to the people. The words ro’eh and chozeh stress the fact that the prophet is one who receives revelations from God, particularly in the form of visions. These words are used interchangeably. Other designations are “man of God”, “messenger of the Lord”, and “watchman”. These appellatives indicate that the prophets are in the special service of the Lord, and watch for the spiritual interests of the people. In the New Testament the word prophetes is used, which is composed of pro and phemi. The preposition is not temporal in this case. Consequently, the word prophemi does not mean “to speak beforehand”, but “to speak forth”. The prophet is one who speaks forth from God. From these names, taken together, we gather that a prophet is one who sees things, that is, who receives revelations, who is in the service of God, particularly as a messenger, and who speaks in His name.
  2. The two elements combined in the idea. The classical passages, Ex. 7:1 and Deut. 18:18 indicate that there are two elements in the prophetic function, the one passive, and the other active, the one receptive, and the other productive. The prophet receives divine revelations in dreams, visions, or verbal communications; and passes these on to the people, either orally, or visibly in prophetical actions, Num. 12:6-8; Isa. 6; Jer. 1:4-10; Ezek. 3:1-4,17. Of these two elements, the passive is the most important, because it controls the active element. Without receiving, the prophet cannot give, and he cannot give more than he receives. But the active is also an integral element. One who receives a revelation is not yet necessarily a prophet. Think of Abimelech, Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar, who all received revelations. What constitutes one a prophet, is the divine calling, the instruction, to communicate the divine revelation to others.
  3. The duty of the prophets. It was the duty of the prophets to reveal the will of God to the people. This might be done in the form of instruction, admonition and exhortation, glorious promises, or stern rebukes. They were the ministerial monitors of the people, the interpreters of the law, especially in its moral and spiritual aspects. It was their duty to protest against mere formalism, to stress moral duty, to urge the necessity of spiritual service, and to promote the interests of truth and righteousness. If the people departed from the path of duty, they had to call them back to the law and to the testimony, and to announce the coming terror of the Lord upon the wicked. But their work was also intimately related to the promise, the gracious promises of God for the future. It was their privilege to picture the glorious things, which God had in store for His people. It is also evident from Scripture that the true prophets of Israel typified the great coming prophet of the future, Deut. 18:15, cf. Acts 3:22-24, and that He was already functioning through them in the days of the Old Testament, I Pet. 1:11.” (4)

Another overview of biblical prophets during Old Testament times from the Easton Bible Dictionary:

Prophet

“(Heb. nabi, from a root meaning, “to bubble forth, as from a fountain,” hence “to utter,” Compare Psalms 45:1). This Hebrew word is the first and the most generally used for a prophet. In the time of Samuel another word, ro’eh, “seer,” began to be used (1Samuel 9:9). It occurs seven times in reference to Samuel. Afterwards another word, hozeh, “seer” (2Samuel 24:11), was employed. In 1Chronicles, 29:29, all these three words are used: “Samuel the seer (ro’eh), Nathan the prophet (nabi‘), Gad the seer” (hozeh). In Josh 13:22Balaam is called (Heb.) a kosem “diviner,” a word used only of a false prophet.

The “prophet” proclaimed the message given to him, as the “seer” beheld the vision of God. (See Numbers 12:6 Numbers 12:8.) Thus a prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God’s name and by his authority (Exodus 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to men (Jeremiah 1:9; Isaiah 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is not of man but of God (2Peter 1:20 2Peter 1:21; Compare Hebrews 3:7; Acts 4:25; 28:25). Prophets were the immediate organs of God for the communication of his mind and will to men (Deuteronomy 18:18 Deuteronomy 18:19). The whole Word of God may in this general sense be spoken of as prophetic, inasmuch as it was written by men who received the revelation they communicated from God, no matter what its nature might be. The foretelling of future events was not a necessary but only an incidental part of the prophetic office. The great task assigned to the prophets whom God raised up among the people was “to correct moral and religious abuses, to proclaim the great moral and religious truths which are connected with the character of God, and which lie at the foundation of his government.”

Any one being a spokesman for God to man might thus be called a prophet. Thus Enoch, Abraham, and the patriarchs, as bearers of God’s message (Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:1; Psalms 105:15), as also Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15; 34:10; Hosea 12:13), are ranked among the prophets. The seventy elders of Israel (Numbers 11:16-29), “when the spirit rested upon them, prophesied;” Asaph and Jeduthun “prophesied with a harp” (1Chronicles 25:3). Miriam and Deborah were prophetesses (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4). The title thus has a general application to all who have messages from God to men.

But while the prophetic gift was thus exercised from the beginning, the prophetical order as such began with Samuel. Colleges, “schools of the prophets,” were instituted for the training of prophets, who were constituted, a distinct order (1Samuel 19:18-24; 2Kings 1Samuel 2:3 1Samuel 2:15; 4:38), which continued to the close of the Old Testament. Such “schools” were established at Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal, Gibeah, and Jericho. The “sons” or “disciples” of the prophets were young men (2Kings 5:22; 2Kings 9:1 2Kings 9:4) who lived together at these different “schools” (4:38-41). These young men were taught not only the rudiments of secular knowledge, but they were brought up to exercise the office of prophet, “to preach pure morality and the heart-felt worship of Jehovah, and to act along and co-ordinately with the priesthood and monarchy in guiding the state aright and checking all attempts at illegality and tyranny.”

In New Testament times the prophetical office was continued. Our Lord is frequently spoken of as a prophet Luke 13:33; 24:19). He was and is the great Prophet of the Church. There was also in the Church a distinct order of prophets (1Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5), who made new revelations from God. They differed from the “teacher,” whose office it was to impart truths already revealed.

Of the Old Testament prophets there are sixteen, whose prophecies form part of the inspired canon. These are divided into four groups:

The prophets of the northern kingdom (Israel), viz., Hosea, Amos, Joel, Jonah.

The prophets of Judah, viz., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.

The prophets of Captivity, viz., Ezekiel and Daniel.

The prophets of the Restoration, viz., Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.” (5)

Comments:

A true prophet spoke the Word of God. After the closing of the canon of Scripture ongoing divine revelation ceased along with the prophetic office. See this writer’s chapters on “Sola Scriptura” and the “Primacy of Scripture” in the book The Religion that started in a Hat. We are still to be on guard against false prophets “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). This warning does not prove that there are real prophets.

With the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, prophets from among men of old during the infancy of redemptive history are no longer needed. Christ Jesus is our heavenly prophet and mediator.

A necessary aside, we will look at the unique Mediatorship of Christ:

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 8:1-3 and Scriptural proofs addresses this:

Section 1.) It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man;(1) the Prophet,(2) Priest,(3) and King;(4) the Head and Saviour of His Church;(5) the Heir of all things;(6) and Judge of the world;(7) unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed,(8) and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.(9)

(1) Isa 42:1; 1Pe 1:19,20; John 3:16; 1Ti 2:5 (2) Ac 3:22 (3) Heb. 5:5,6 (4) Ps 2:6; Lk 1:33 (5) Eph. 5:23 (6) Heb. 1:2 (7) Ac 17:31 (8) John 17:6; Ps 22:30; Isa 53:10 (9) 1Ti 2:6; Isa 55:4,5; 1Co 1:30

Section 2.) The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fulness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature,(1) with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;(2) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance.(3) So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.(4) Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.(5)

(1) John 1:1, 14; 1Jn 5:20; Philippians 2:6; Gal 4:4 (2) Heb. 2:14, 16, 17; Heb. 4:15 (3) Lk 1:27, 31, 35; Gal 4:4 (4) Lk 1:35; Col 2:9; Ro 9:5; 1Pe 3:18; 1Ti 3:16 (5) Ro 1:3, 4; 1Ti 2:5

Section 3.) The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure;(1) having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;(2) in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell:(3) to the end, that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth,(4) He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.(5) Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father;(6) who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.(7)

(1) Ps 45:7; John 3:34 (2) Col 2:3 (3) Col 1:19 (4) Heb. 7:26; John 1:14 (5) Ac 10:38; Heb. 12:24; Heb. 7:22 (6) Heb. 5:4, 5 (7) John 5:22, 27; Mt 28:18; Ac 2:36

In particular, note what section three states:

The Confession of Faith, (chap. 8.3.), declares, “Which office he took not to himself, but was thereunto called by his Father, who put all power and judgment into his hand, and gave him a commandment to execute the same.” This reference is speaking of Christ the Mediator.

What is a Mediator? Easton’s Bible Dictionary has a nice entry that is helpful:

“It is one who intervenes between two persons who are at variance, with a view to reconcile them. This word is not found in the Old Testament; but the idea it expresses is found in Job 9:33, in the word “daysman” (q.v.), marg., “umpire.”

This word is used in the New Testament to denote simply an internuncius, an ambassador, one who acts as a medium of communication between two contracting parties. In this sense, Moses is called a mediator in Galatians 3:19.

Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man (1Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). He makes reconciliation between God and man by his all-perfect atoning sacrifice. Such a mediator must be at once divine and human, divine, that his obedience and his sufferings might possess infinite worth, and that he might possess infinite wisdom and knowledge and power to direct all things in the kingdoms of providence and grace which are committed to his hands (Matthew 28:18; John 5:22 John 5:25 John 5:26 John 5:27); and human, that in his work he might represent man, and be capable of rendering obedience to the law and satisfying the claims of justice (Hebrews 2:17 Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:16), and that in his glorified humanity he might be the head of a glorified Church (Romans 8:29).

This office involves the three functions of prophet, priest, and king, all of which are discharged by Christ both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation. These functions are so inherent in the one office that the quality appertaining to each gives character to every mediatorial act. They are never separated in the exercise of the office of mediator.” (6)

In closing:

“Then comes the end, when he [Jesus] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1Corinthians 15:24-26)

Christ is now reigning and as our prophet, priest, and king and His work as the heavenly mediator further invalidates the need for an Old Testament like prophets functioning in the New Covenant era. Christ’s reign is continuing as we still are awaiting the last enemy death to be destroyed. The prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of the Old Covenant all find perfect fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do we need a prophet today? Yes, it is Jesus, and He is our all-sufficient prophet.

Notes:

  1. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Deuteronomy, Vol.3., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 303-304.
  2. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Luke, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 200.
  3. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Hebrews, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 1992.
  4. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing, 1949), pp. 357-358.
  5. M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “Prophet,” Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.
  6. M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “Mediator,” Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.

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

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

For more Study:

* Got Questions https://www.gotquestions.org/prophet-Bible.html

**    https://carm.org/dictionary-prophet

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The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit and the connection to the Word of God

The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit and the connection to the Word of God By Jack Kettler

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

The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, called the testimonium Spiritus sancti internum whereby we are convinced of the truthfulness of the Word of God. This doctrine has important implications for our assurance of salvation.

The following passages show the relationship and work of the Holy Spirit to illumine the believer’s minds to believe the Word of God and have the certainty of saving faith.

From Scripture and select commentary entries:

“And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” (John 10:4)

From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on John 10:4:

“10:1-5 Here is a parable or similitude, taken from the customs of the East, in the management of sheep. Men, as creatures depending on their Creator, are called the sheep of his pasture. The church of God in the world is as a sheep-fold, exposed to deceivers and persecutors. The great Shepherd of the sheep knows all that are his, guards them by his providence, guides them by his Spirit and word, and goes before them, as the Eastern shepherds went before their sheep, to set them in the way of his steps. Ministers must serve the sheep in their spiritual concerns. The Spirit of Christ will set before them an open door. The sheep of Christ will observe their Shepherd, and be cautious and shy of strangers, who would draw them from faith in him to fancies about him.” (1)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

“And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet.” (Acts 28:25 ESV)

In the above two passages, we see the work of the Holy Spirit in confirming and leading Christ’s people.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Romans 8:16:

“The Spirit – The Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit here is intended, is evident,

(1) Because this is the natural meaning of the expression;

(2) Because it is of the Holy Spirit that the apostle is mainly treating here;

(3) Because it would be an unnatural and forced construction to say of the temper of adoption that it bore witness.

Beareth witness – Testifies, gives evidence.

With our spirit – To our minds. This pertains to the adoption; and it means that the Holy Spirit furnishes evidence to our minds that we are adopted into the family of God. This effect is not infrequently attributed to the Holy Spirit, 2Corinthians 1:22; 1John 5:10-11; 1Corinthians 2:12. If it be asked how this is done, I answer, it is not by any revelation of new truth; it is not by inspiration; it is not always by assurance; it is not by a mere persuasion that we are elected to eternal life; but it is by producing in us the appropriate effects of his influence. It is his to renew the heart; to sanctify the soul; to produce “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” Galatians 5:22-23. If a man has these, he has evidence of the witnessing of the Spirit with his spirit. If not, he has no such evidence. And the way, therefore, to ascertain whether we have this witnessing of the Spirit, is by an honest and prayerful inquiry whether these fruits of the Spirit actually exist in our minds. If they do, the evidence is clear. If not, all vain confidence of good estate, all visions, and raptures, and fancied revelations, will be mere delusions. It may be added, that the effect of these fruits of the Spirit and the mind is to produce a calm and heavenly frame; and in that frame, when attended with the appropriate fruits of the Spirit in a holy life, we may rejoice as an evidence of piety.

That we are the children of God – That we are adopted into his family.” (2)

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

“Because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” (1Thessalonians 1:5 ESV)

Once more, we see in Galatians and 1Thessalonians the work of the Holy Spirit in confirming and authenticating the Word of God.

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, Today, if you hear his voice,” (Hebrews 3:7 ESV)

From Vincent’s Word Studies on Hebrews 3:7:

“Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith (διὸ καθὼς λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον)

See on Hebrews 1:6. The formula the Spirit the holy (Spirit) is common in the N.T. with the exception of the Catholic Epistles, where it does not occur. The construction of the passage is as follows: Διὸ wherefore is connected with βλέπετε take heed, Hebrews 3:12. The point is the writer’s warning, not the warning of the citation. The whole citation including the introductory formula, down to rest, Hebrews 3:11, is parenthetical.

Today if ye will hear his voice (σήμερον ἐάν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε)

The Hebrew reads, O that you would hear his voice today. Today is prophetically interpreted by the writer as referring to the Christian present, the time of salvation inaugurated by the appearance of Christ.” (3)

Protestant reformer John Calvin was in the lead explaining the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. It would be good to consider some of his insights.

John Calvin on the testimony of the Holy Spirit:

“’The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit” (I, 7.4).

“Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean; but we subject our judgment and wit to it as to a thing far beyond any guesswork” (I, 7.5).

“Scripture will ultimately suffice for a saving knowledge of God only when its certainty is founded upon the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. . . . But those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known” (I, 8.13). (4)

In the above quotes, Calvin explains how Holy Spirit confirms and establishes the authority of the Scriptures. Calvin called this the internal witness of the Spirit the testimonium Spiritus sancti internum.

Theologian Gordon H. Clark puts the insight of Calvin into a contemporary language in the next citation.

Regeneration: The Key to Believing the Truth by Gordon H. Clark

“When Adam fell, the human race became, not stupid so that the truth was hard to understand, but inimical, to the acceptance of the truth. Men did not like to retain God in their knowledge and changed the truth of God into a lie, for the carnal mind is enmity against God. Hence the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, for the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually discerned. In order to accept the Gospel, therefore, it is necessary to be born again. The abnormal, depraved intellect must be remade by the Holy Spirit; the enemy must be made a friend. This is the work of regeneration, and the heart of stone can be taken away and a heart of flesh can be given only by God himself. Resurrecting the man who is dead in sin and giving him a new life, far from being a human achievement, requires nothing less then almighty power.

It is therefore impossible by argument or preaching alone to cause anyone to believe the Bible. Only God can cause such belief. At the same time, this does not mean that argument is useless. Peter tells us, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” This was the constant practice of the apostles. Stephen disputed with the Libertines; the Jerusalem council disputed; in Ephesus Paul disputed three months in the synagogue and then continued disputing in the school of Tyrannus. (Acts 6:9; 15:7; 19:8, 9: compare Acts 17:2; 18:4, 19; 24:25). Anyone who is unwilling to argue, dispute, and reason is disloyal to his Christian duty.

At this point, the natural question is what is the use of all this expounding and explaining if it does not produce belief? The answer should be clearly understood. The witness or testimony of the Holy Spirit is a witness to something. The Spirit cannot produce belief in Christ unless a sinner has heard of Christ. “How then shall they call on him of whom they have not heard? … So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:14, 17).

No doubt, God in his omnipotence could reveal the necessary information to each man individually without a written Bible or ministerial preaching. But this is not what God has done. God gave the apostles and preachers the duty of expounding the message; but the production of belief is the work of the Spirit, for faith is the gift of God.

This is part of the reason why it was said above that the best procedure for us, if we want someone to accept the doctrine of plenary and verbal inspiration, is to expound the Scripture in detail. We may well use archaeology and historical criticism too, but the main task is to communicate the message of the Bible in as understandable language as we can manage.

It is to be noted too that the sinner, without any special work of the Spirit, can understand the message. Belief in its truth and understanding its meaning are two different things. The Bible can be understood by the same methods of study used on Euclid or Aristotle. Despite some pious disclaimers, it is true that antagonistic unbelievers often enough understand the Bible better than devout Christians. The Pharisees saw the significance of Christ’s claims to deity more quickly and more clearly than the disciples did.

As Paul persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem and set out for Damascus, he understood the words, “Jesus is Lord” as well as any of the twelve. It was precisely because he understood so well that he persecuted so zealously. Had he been unsure of the meaning, he would not have been so exercised. But the trouble was, he did not believe it. On the contrary, he believed that it was false. Then on the Damascus road Christ appeared to him and caused him to believe that the statement was true. Paul did not understand the phrase any better a moment after his conversion than a moment before. Doubtless, in later years God revealed further information to him for use in his epistles. But at the moment, Christ did not enlarge his understanding one whit; he caused him to receive, accept, or believe what he had already understood quite well. Thus it is that the Spirit witnessed to the message previously communicated.

Strong emphasis needs to be placed on the work of the Holy Spirit. Man is dead in sin, an enemy of God, opposed to all righteousness and truth. He needs to be changed. Neither the preacher nor, much less, the sinner himself can cause the change. But “blessed is the man whom you choose, and cause to approach you” (Psalm 65:4). “And I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26, 27). “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). “God when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2Thessalonians 2:13). “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18).

These verses, which primarily refer to regeneration, are applicable to our acceptance of the Bible as the very word of God. Indeed, the new life which the second birth initiates the life to which we are “raised from the death of sin” is precisely the life of faith; and a full faith includes a plenary and verbal inspiration of the salvation message. It is the gift of God.

This is why the greatest of all the creeds issuing from the Reformation, the Westminster Confession says:

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is Truth itself), the author thereof; and, therefore, it is to be received, because it is the Word of God. “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness, by and with the Word, in our heart (I, iv and v.)

In the last analysis, therefore “although historical and archaeological confirmation of the Bible” accuracy is of great interest to us and of great embarrassment to unbelievers a conviction that the Bible is really the Word of God cannot be the conclusion of a valid argument based on more clearly evident premises. This conviction is produced by the Holy Spirit himself.

It must always be kept in mind that the proclamation in the Gospel is part of a spiritual struggle against the supernatural powers of the evil one, and victory comes only through the omnipotent grace of God. Accordingly, as Jesus explained his mission to both Peter and the Pharisees, so we today must expound and explain the Scripture in all its fullness to all sorts of men; and we can then be assured that our Father in Heaven will reveal his truth to some of them.” (5)

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has examined the necessary conditions for human knowledge. He states this in a logical form.

He says that a person:

“S knows some proposition P only if:

(1) S believes P,

(2) P is true,

(3) S’s belief in P is produced by a cognitive faculty that is (a) functioning properly in an appropriate environment and (b) successfully aimed at truth.” (6)

Chapter one in the Westminster Confession of Faith states:

“The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore, it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.”

In closing:

“And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” (John 10:4)

Therefore, we can say with the apostle, Christ’s followers know his voice. These Scriptures surveyed are the grounds of our certainty and assurance.

Notes:

1. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, John, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 1673.

2. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Romans, p. 2190.

3. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARY, (Albany, Oregon), p. 963.

4. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics, XX-XXI, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), Book I, I, 7.4, I, 7.5, I, 8.13.

5. Gordon H. Clark, God’s Hammer: The Bible and its Critics, (Jefferson, Maryland, The Trinity Foundation), p. 20-23.

6. Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, (Oxford England, Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 153-56.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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