Archive for March, 2011

The Door Was Shut, Rob Bell

March 30, 2011

Rob Bell (Love Wins, p. 66):

Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, “Sorry, too late”? Many have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting, and asking God to be let in, only to hear God say through the keyhole: “Door’s locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it’s too late.”

Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:1-13):

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”

But the wise answered, saying, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.”

But he answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Am I saying that those in Hell will come “truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation” – no, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that when the door shuts, it’s too late. So, since you don’t know when Christ will return, or when you yourself will die, take hold of the kingdom of heaven now. Be prepared.

Bell’s dream of an always-open heaven is nothing more than a delusion.

– TurretinFan

Biblical "Contradictions" – Does God Repent?

March 30, 2011

Skeptics love to allege that there are contradictions between the gospels when the gospels say different things. If one gospel describes God one way, and another gospel describe him another way, this is sometimes alleged to illustrate a contradiction.

One way to handle these claims is, of course, to address the particular alleged contradiction. Another approach – the approach that I have been adopting in this series – is to point out that the methodology of refusing to let the text speak harmoniously is the problem.

In the example I have selected for this post, there is a question of whether God repents or not. There are three verses found in the course of a single passage in 1 Samuel that relate to the issue. The first is at verse 11, then at 29, and finally at 35.

1 Samuel 15:9-35

But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.”

And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.”

And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, “Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”

And Samuel said, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”

And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

Then Samuel said unto Saul, “Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night.”

And he said unto him, “Say on.”

And Samuel said, “When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.’ Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?”

And Saul said unto Samuel, “Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.”

And Samuel said, “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

And Saul said unto Samuel, “I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.”

And Samuel said unto Saul, “I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.” And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. And Samuel said unto him, “The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

Then he said, “I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.”

So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD. Then said Samuel, “Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.”
And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”

And Samuel said, “As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Notice that at the beginning and end of the passage it is written that the Lord repented. In the middle it says that the Lord will not repent. If the first and last descriptions of God were in two gospels, and the middle description was in a third, it would doubtless be alleged that the two gospels represent one position and the third gospel represents a different, conflicting, opinion.

In this case, though, the two “Lord repented” verses sandwich the “Lord will not repent” verse. Thus, it is natural to look for a harmonious explanation. And harmonious explanations are readily available.

For example, the expression “the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent” may be viewed as contrasting the permanence of the removal of Saul with the transience of Saul’s appointment as king. In addition, or alternatively, the expression, “the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent,” can be seen as referring to the fact that God speaks the truth, even about the future. The expression “the Lord repented,” by contrast refers to a change in God’s attitude toward Saul. Prior to this, God’s attitude toward Saul was favorable, but after this it was favorable. Nevertheless, throughout the events, God kept His word. We can trust God, even though He cannot trust us.


Cross an Object Lesson? (UPDATED)

March 28, 2011

As reported here, Michael Horton wrote: “Third, Christ’s work on the cross was not an object lesson.” Horton is wrong. Horton would have been right if Horton had said, “The cross was not just an object lesson,” but that’s not what he wrote.

It is an object lesson here:

1 John 3:16-17
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

Notice that Christ’s willingness to sacrifice himself in love for us is given as a moral example here for us to be willing to lay down our own lives for the brethren. It is plainly stated and virtually undeniable.

And Christ’s work (though not the cross itself) is an object lesson here:

2 Corinthians 8:3-15
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

The lesson here is similar the previous lesson.

It’s perfectly fine for people to say that Christ’s earthly ministry (and particularly the cross) are not merely an object lesson. But it is contrary to Scripture to deny that the cross is an object lesson. Horton ought to affirm the truths that he does affirm about the cross (that it was a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice) without denying the other truths as well.


Some more examples of the cross an object lesson or moral example:

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

– TurretinFan

Response to "Why One Should Read Before Writing" by R. Scott Clark

March 23, 2011

R. Scott Clark kindly responded to my previous post (link) with a post of his own (link). I write to correct a few errors in his post.

1. My State of Mind as to Understanding

After a brief tangent about my pseudonymity, Prof. Clark characterizes my comments as being that I didn’t “understand how [Prof. Clark] could have raised questions about possible plans by federal officials to force teachers/schools to monitor Facebook for “bullying.”” That characterization is not correct. I understand how he could raise questions about such plans.

2. My Recognition of the Status of Prof. Clark’s Blog

While Prof. Clark leads with this:

First, since rotting fish stink, let’s clear away the red herrings from this discussion.

1. The Heidelblog is not the church. It’s a personal blog devoted to Recovering the Reformed Confession (theology, piety, and practice). I discuss things here that, as a minister, I would not discuss from the pulpit.

I myself had written this in the original article:

I think most of the Escondido folks would say it is ok for a minister to comment on political things on his personal blog. Perhaps some would not, but I think most are ok with that – as long as he doesn’t use the pulpit for those political comments.

But imagine if Prof. Clark had raised the same point from the pulpit. I think that some of the Escondido folk would have a problem with that, in that it would seem to involve the church getting involved in political matters.

It’s hard to say whether Prof. Clark missed this important caveat. His response does not reflect that he saw it.

3. Quotations Seemingly Attributed to Me

Prof. Clark provides a number of items in quotation marks. For example, Prof. Clark wrote:

3. If we’re going to discuss this like gentleman and ladies it would go some distance toward restoring civility to this conversation if the critics would not use Jim Dennison’s grossly misleading nomenclature, “The Escondido Hermeneutic.” This phrase begs the question (i.e., it assumes what it has yet to prove, that there is some distinctive, unique biblical hermeneutic being practiced at Westminster Seminary California). This claim is demonstrably false.

Yet I did not use such a term. I used “Escondido position” and “Escondido folks,” but not “Escondido Hermeneutic.”

Likewise, Prof. Clark wrote:

5. There is no such thing as “the two-kingdoms view.” Distinguishing between two kingdoms is nothing more than applying Calvin’s categorical distinction to contemporary questions. Different folks will do it differently.

Yet I didn’t write “the two-kingdoms view.” I wrote “the Escondido position on the two kingdoms” and “as extreme a view of the two kingdoms as Darryl Hart or others who are associated with Westminster West.”

I acknowledge, of course, that Prof. Clark uses quotation marks in a variety of ways in his post.

4. What I Said/Suggested About The Escondido View of the Two Kingdoms

Prof. Clark wrote:

It seems to me a significant misunderstanding of a two-kingdoms analysis to say suggest [sic] that one who distinguishes between Christ’s general, sovereign providence over all things and his saving work through the visible church may think about or comment on only one sphere.

Yet I did not write or suggest such a thing. Quite the contrary — as noted above — I indicated that I believed that those holding the Escondido position on this subject not only would say that people can think about the other sphere but also would say that they could comment on it on their blogs.

6. Reformed Theologians Holding to Perpetual Virginity and Geocentrism

Prof. Clark wrote:

The 16th and 17th-century Reformed theologians held several views that most of us would not want to hold today (e.g., theocracy, perpetual virginity of the BVM, geocentrism).

This comment is true but a little misleading. While Reformed theologians did express opinions about the latter two subjects, they didn’t place those topics in their confessions (at least not any of the confessions of which I’m aware). On the other hand “theocracy” (broadly understood to mean a system of government in which the first table is enforced to some degree or other) they did put in their confessions.

Moreover, we reject the perpetual virginity position on the strength of the Scriptural testimony, confirmed by a more thorough examination of the historical testimony. Even though I suppose few Reformed Theologians today would argue for geocentrism, few would think it important to argue about it. It’s not simply a matter of wanting to.

Finally, of course, the standard of what “most of us” “want” is not the way we should conduct ourselves.

Prof. Clark goes on to state:

We’re not bound to the mistakes of the past but to the degree the tradition helps us to understand what we confess, we should learn from them. The distinction between the two kingdoms is one of those valuable resources we need to recover but before folk start commenting on these questions they do need to do some basic reading.

It’s true that we’re not bound to the mistakes of the past, but the use of the Reformed theologians is not just to help us to understand what we confess – the fact that they held to things should be something that helps to persuade us as a fallible guide.

Moreover, the “distinction between the two kingdoms” was something that they held and held consistently with what Prof. Clark refers to as “theocracy.” It’s remarkable to see Calvin cluelessly quoted on the issue of two kingdoms, as though he would have supported the Escondido position. In point of fact, Clark in this very post quoted Calvin thus:

Therefore, in order that none of us may stumble on that stone, let us first consider that there is a twofold government in man (duplex esse in homine regimen): one aspect is spiritual, whereby the conscience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men. These are usually called the “spiritual” and the “temporal” jurisdiction (not improper terms) by which is meant that the former sort of government pertains to the life of the soul, while the latter has to do with the concerns of the present life—not only with food and clothing but with laying down laws whereby a man may live his life among other men holily, honorably, and temperately. For the former resides in the inner mind, while the latter regulates only outward behavior. The one we may call the spiritual kingdom, the other, the political kingdom. Now these two, as we have divided them, must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other. There are in man, so to speak, two worlds, over which different kings and different laws have authority (Institutes 3.19.15.

So why didn’t he quote Calvin’s consistent comments here:

This consideration ought to be constantly present to the minds of magistrates since it is fitted to furnish a strong stimulus to the discharge of duty, and also afford singular consolation, smoothing the difficulties of their office, which are certainly numerous and weighty. What zeal for integrity, prudence, meekness, continence, and innocence ought to sway those who know that they have been appointed ministers of the divine justice! How will they dare to admit iniquity to their tribunal, when they are told that it is the throne of the living God? How will they venture to pronounce an unjust sentence with that mouth which they understand to be an ordained organ of divine truth? With what conscience will they subscribe impious decrees with that hand which they know has been appointed to write the acts of God? In a word, if they remember that they are the vicegerents of God, it behaves them to watch with all care, diligences and industry, that they may in themselves exhibit a kind of image of the Divine Providence, guardianship, goodness, benevolence, and justice. And let them constantly keep the additional thought in view, that if a curse is pronounced on him that “does the work of the Lord deceitfully” a much heavier curse must lie on him who deals deceitfully in a righteous calling. Therefore, when Moses and Jehoshaphat would urge their judges to the discharge of duty, they had nothing by which they could more powerfully stimulate their minds than the consideration to which we have already referred, – “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgement. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons nor taking of gifts,” (2 Chron. 19: 6, 7, compared with Deut. 1: 16, &c.) And in another passage it is said, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods,” (Psalm 82: 1; Isaiah 3: 14,) that they may be animated to duty when they hear that they are the ambassadors of God, to whom they must one day render an account of the province committed to them. This admonition ought justly to have the greatest effect upon them; for if they sin in any respect, not only is injury done to the men whom they wickedly torment, but they also insult God himself, whose sacred tribunals they pollute. On the other hand, they have an admirable source of comfort when they reflect that they are not engaged in profane occupations, unbefitting a servant of God, but in a most sacred office, inasmuch as they are the ambassadors of God (Institutes 4.20.6.)

Is it simply because Prof. Clark doesn’t confess that? Perhaps so, yet it is strange for him to quote Calvin so selectively while suggesting that some of his readers haven’t done basic reading on the subject. If his readers haven’t done basic reading, he should be more careful to provide them with a complete picture.

7. What Does VanDrunen’s Book Suggest?

Prof. Clark wrote:

4. I say “demonstrably” because anyone who has bothered to read David VanDrunen’s book (see above) on the question of the history of the two-kingdoms ethic could see that there’s nothing novel about this way of analyzing the relations between church and civil life or between Christ and culture more broadly.

I’m not sure whether there’s nothing novel in what Kline did with Vos’ groundwork, but we don’t really need to go there. Certainly the Escondido view of the two kingdoms is in fundamental disagreement with Calvin’s Institutes (4:20), the Westminster Confession of Faith (23:3), Belgic Confession (Art. 36), 39 Articles (Art. 37), and the Second Helvetic Confession (Ch. 30). This is not something like geocentrism, but is rather something that the Reformed creeds generally taught.

8. What’s So Extreme?

Prof. Clark wrote:

I have no idea what TF means when he says “extreme.” It seems like more question begging. It’s true that VanDrunen and others are seeking to apply the two-kingdoms distinction in a post-theocratic setting but it’s hard to see how that’s radical unless one wants to go back to a pre-1789 status. In such a case, who is the radical here, those seeking to work within the status quo or those seeking a theocracy?

At least here Prof. Clark acknowledged that he had no idea what I meant. He then went on to suggest that the comment was question-begging, but at least he started from acknowledging that he did not know.

I provided some clue as to what I meant by extreme: “as extreme a view of the two kingdoms as Darryl Hart or others who are associated with Westminster West” (emphasis added). Darryl Hart (author of Secular Faith) has indicated that he does not believe that the Bible norms the civil magistrate. He specifically wrote:

If the Bible reveals a set of standards that are required of the government, and if Christians believe the Bible, then they have an obligation to make sure that their state follows the Bible.

I don’t understand how the Bible functions as the norm for both civil society and the church and yet you can have women barred from office in the latter but not the former. Is not the state bound to conform to biblical norms? f not, why not. Just because the state applies biblical law with the sword, doesn’t mean that the law is not in effect. Remember John Knox? On biblical grounds he was not real pleased with queens running affairs in England or Scotland. Ever heard of the Baylys who regularly claim, on biblical grounds, that women should not hold public office?

In which case, you have your own fancy footwork for separating the norms of the church and the state but it is riddled with a major inconsistency — namely, that the Bible is the norm for the state but it is not really the norm for the state, or only the norm on the matters on which you say it counts. Please tell me how I too may become pope.

if the Bible requires rule by elders, why doesn’t the state have elders? You simply keep peeling off another layer of the onion.

The reason why this is important is because 2k is constantly criticized for not advocating biblical morality or biblical norms in public. Well, now you, who are not 2k, tell me that it is okay for the state not to be ruled by elders. But that means that the state doesn’t have to follow Scripture. So it’s okay if you say the state doesn’t have to follow the Bible, but not if I do it. Huh?

But again, if you think the Bible is the norm for the state on murder, why isn’t the Bible the norm for the state on worship (i.e. religious freedom or lack thereof), or on which sex gets to rule. I am baffled at a hermeneutic that allows you to pick and choose from Scripture which norms apply to the state, unless, of course, that hermeneutic is convenience.

(source – comment box here)

I consider that extreme or radical in at least two ways. The first way is that it takes the principle of the two kingdoms and extends it too far. There is a difference between church and state, but Hart’s approach takes that difference and extends it to an extreme. The second way is that it is outside the bounds of even the revised Westminster standards. The denial that the Bible norms the civil magistrate logically involves a denial that the Scriptures teach what the revised Westminster standards say are the duties of the magistrate.

9. Missing the Point

The point of my post was two-fold: (1) to point out to my reader (who had the question) the easy resolution of the matter; and (2) to highlight the fact that on the other hand such material would seemingly be unwelcome in the pulpit. I think that Prof. Clark actually accepted these. His comment, “I discuss things here that, as a minister, I would not discuss from the pulpit,” suggests he agrees (violently) with my comment: “I think most are ok with that – as long as he doesn’t use the pulpit for those political comments.”

There was also an additional point or two lurking in the shadows. Is the Escondido position that the Bible teaches that the Civil Magistrate ought to give people religious liberty or not? If so, it looks like (according to that position) the Bible norms the Civil Magistrate at least that far. Moreover, if the Bible teaches it, it is hard to see why it would not be proper subject matter for the pulpit. Or is it the Escondido position that the Bible does not teach that the Civil Magistrate ought to give people religious liberty, but that the light of nature does teach it?

10. Unanswered Questions

And it seems, after reading Prof. Clark’s reply, that he has left the important questions of the original article unanswered. Those questions were these:

This, however, would create an odd tension. Why? Because the Westminster Standards (in the American revision) as well as the Belgic Confession (in the American Revision) call for the civil magistrate to protect God’s church. Yet, the duties of the civil magistrate are always a political matter.

So, can the church speak to political issues or not? Or is there an exception for certain political matters and not others? If there are exceptions, it starts to look like the prohibition on political speech by the church is ad hoc. And if the church can speak to political issues, then why are the Escondido folks so upset when people like the Bayly brothers preach sermons on highly politicized topics like abortion?


P.S. If Prof. Clark should desire to hold me accountable to the appropriate elders for my words, I’m more than happy to provide him with their names and contact information – I believe I’ve already previously offered to give him my name, so long as he keeps it confidential.

David’s Two Visits to Achish

March 22, 2011

Skeptics love to try to find fault with the gospels because there are sometimes accounts that seem to be similar in some ways, but have differences. They are fond of suggesting that these differences are contradictions. In this post, I examine two accounts that have some similarities, but enough differences that if they were in two different gospels, the skeptics would tell us that they are contradictory accounts.

The two accounts I have in mind are of David’s visits to Achish. The two accounts are very different. In the first account, David comes to Achish and pretends to be insane. In the second account, David comes to Achish and pretends to be a traitor to Saul. In both cases, Achish is taken in by the act, and in both cases the song that the women sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” comes up in the discussion.

1. Madman Encounter

1 Samuel 21:10-15
And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said unto him, “Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, ‘Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”
And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.
Then said Achish unto his servants, “Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house?”

2. Traitor Encounter

1 Samuel 27:1-12 (Whole Chapter); 28:1-2; and 29:1-11 (Whole Chapter)
And David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.” And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s wife. And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him.
And David said unto Achish, “If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee?”
Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day. And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months.
And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt. And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish.
And Achish said, “Whither have ye made a road to day?”
And David said, “Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites.”
And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, “Lest they should tell on us, saying, ‘So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.'”
And Achish believed David, saying, “He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever.”
And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, “Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.”
And David said to Achish, “Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do.”
And Achish said to David, “Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.”

Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel. And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish. Then said the princes of the Philistines, “What do these Hebrews here?”
And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, “Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day?”
And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, “Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men? Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, ‘Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”
Then Achish called David, and said unto him, “Surely, as the LORD liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not. Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.”
And David said unto Achish, “But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”
And Achish answered and said to David, “I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master’s servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.”
So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

– TurretinFan

R. Scott Clark, Religious Freedom, and Two Kingdoms

March 21, 2011

Reformed pastor and professor R. Scott Clark recently posted an article on his blog (“Religious Freedom Watch: Feds to Force Schools to Monitor Facebook?“). A reader asked me how Prof. Clark can do this while holding to the Escondido position on the two kingdoms.

I should preface my response by saying that I don’t know whether R. Scott Clark takes as extreme a view of the two kingdoms as Darryl Hart or others who are associated with Westminster West. So, I hope no one will take this article as representing R. Scott Clark’s views. Instead, the article takes Prof. Clark’s post as an opportunity to comment on an important issue.

The Escondido position on the two kingdoms seems to be that the church generally should not be involved in political affairs. This issue looks like a political affair, therefore (one might think) the church should not be involved in it.

I think most of the Escondido folks would say it is ok for a minister to comment on political things on his personal blog. Perhaps some would not, but I think most are ok with that – as long as he doesn’t use the pulpit for those political comments.

But imagine if Prof. Clark had raised the same point from the pulpit. I think that some of the Escondido folk would have a problem with that, in that it would seem to involve the church getting involved in political matters.

This, however, would create an odd tension. Why? Because the Westminster Standards (in the American revision) as well as the Belgic Confession (in the American Revision) call for the civil magistrate to protect God’s church. Yet, the duties of the civil magistrate are always a political matter.

So, can the church speak to political issues or not? Or is there an exception for certain political matters and not others? If there are exceptions, it starts to look like the prohibition on political speech by the church is ad hoc. And if the church can speak to political issues, then why are the Escondido folks so upset when people like the Bayly brothers preach sermons on highly politicized topics like abortion?


David’s Two Escapes from Saul

March 21, 2011

Skeptics who wish to allege contradictions between the gospels love to claim that if there are differences between two similar accounts, this means that the two accounts contradict each other. In this post, I’ll examine a pair of accounts that are similar enough that one might think they were contradictory accounts of the same event, if they were not in the same book inside a larger narrative.

The two accounts I mention here are the two accounts of David’s close calls with Saul. In both cases, Saul is hunting David, someone tells Saul where to find David, David has the chance to kill Saul, but David passes (and commands his men to do the same) and then convicts Saul with respectful and self-deprecating words in which he calls himself a “flea.” In both cases, Saul is convicted and lets David go, while Saul himself goes back to his own place.

1. Cave Account

1 Samuel 24:1-22 (whole chapter)
And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.”
Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.
And the men of David said unto him, “Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, ‘Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand,’ that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee.”
Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily. And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. And he said unto his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.”
So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, “My lord the king.” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself. And David said to Saul, “Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, ‘Behold, David seeketh thy hurt’? Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, ‘I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed.’ Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. As saith the proverb of the ancients, ‘Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked:’ but mine hand shall not be upon thee. After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea. The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.”
And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
And he said to David, “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand. Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house.”
And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.

2. Two Hills Account

1 Samuel 26:1-25 (whole chapter)
And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, “Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?”
Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed. And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him.
Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp?”
And Abishai said, “I will go down with thee.”
So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him. Then said Abishai to David, “God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.”
And David said to Abishai, “Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless?” David said furthermore, “As the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.”
So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them.
Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them: and David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Answerest thou not, Abner?”
Then Abner answered and said, “Who art thou that criest to the king?”
And David said to Abner, “Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord. This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the LORD’S anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.”
And Saul knew David’s voice, and said, “Is this thy voice, my son David?”
And David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.”
And he said, “Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand? Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods. Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.”
Then said Saul, “I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.”
And David answered and said, “Behold the king’s spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it. The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed. And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.”
Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail.”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

Chrysostom: Sermon 5 on Lazarus (On 1 Thessalonians 4:13)

March 18, 2011

In reading through On Wealth and Poverty, providing Catharine P. Roth’s translation of six of Chrysostom’s seven sermons on the parable of Lazarus (or in reading through F. Allen’s translation of the first four of those same sermons), one may wish to see the contents of the fifth sermon on the parable of Lazarus. As Roth notes, the sermon moves quickly away from Lazarus. Nevertheless, a translation of the sermon was made (apparently by H. J. Ripley in The Christian Review, December 1847, p. 512ff). This sermon has a variety of uses. It is useful devotionally at times like the present when people are suffering grief over the loss of loved ones. It is also useful from the standpoint of historical theology, in that it helps to demonstrate Chrysostom’s views about Christ’s own death and the afterlife. Whatever uses you may have, dear reader, I hope you will enjoy the following sermon.

We have occupied four days in explaining to you the parable of Lazarus, bringing out the treasure we found in a body that was covered with sores; a treasure, not of gold and silver and precious stones, but of wisdom and fortitude, of patience and endurance. For as in regard to visible treasures, while the surface of the ground shows only thorns and briers and rough earth, yet, let a person dig deep, abundant wealth discloses itself; so it has proved in respect to Lazarus. Outwardly, wounds; but underneath these, unspeakable wealth; a body pined away, but a noble and wakeful spirit. We have also seen an illustration of that remark of the apostle’s—As much as the outward man perishes, so much the inward man is renewed.

It would, indeed, be proper to address you to-day, also, on this same parable, and to enter the lists with those heretics who censure the Old Testament, bringing accusations against the patriarchs, and whetting their tongues against God, the Creator of the universe. But to avoid satiety, and reserving this controversy for another time, let us direct the discourse to another subject; for a table with only one sort of food produces satiety, while variety provokes the appetite. That it may be so in regard to our preaching, let us now, after a long period, turn to the blessed Paul; for very opportunely has a passage from the apostle been read to-day, and the things which are to be spoken concerning it are harmonious with those that have lately been presented. Hear, then, Paul this day proclaiming—I would not have you to be ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope. The parable of Lazarus is the evangelical chord; this passage is the apostolic note. And there is concord between them; for we have, on that parable, said much concerning the resurrection and the future judgment, and our discourse now recurs to that theme; so that, though it is on apostolic ground we are now toiling, we shall here find the same treasure. For in treating the parable, our aim was to teach the hearers this lesson, that they should regard all the splendors of the present life as nothing, but should look forward in their hopes, and daily reflect on the decisions which will be hereafter pronounced, and on that fearful judgment, and that Judge who cannot be deceived. On these things Paul has counseled us to-day in the passages which have been read to us. Attend, however, to his own words—I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him (1 Thess. 4: 13,14).

We ought here, at the outset, to inquire why, when he is speaking concerning Christ, he employs the word death; but when he is speaking of our decease, he calls it sleep, and not death. For he did not say, Concerning them that are dead: but what did he say? Concerning them that are asleep. And again—Even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. He did not say, Them that have died. Still again—We who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not go before them that sleep. Here, too, he did not say—Them that are dead; but a third time, bringing the subject to their remembrance, he for the third time called death a sleep. Concerning Christ, however, he did not speak thus: but how? For if we believe that Jesus died. He did not say. Jesus slept, but he died. Why now did he use the term death in reference to Christ, but in reference to us the term sleep? For it was not casually, or negligently, that he employed this expression, but he had a wise and great purpose in so doing. In speaking of Christ, he said death, so as to confirm the fact that Christ had actually suffered death; in speaking of us, he said sleep, in order to impart consolation. For where a resurrection had already taken place, he mentions death with plainness: but where the resurrection is still a matter of hope, he says sleep, consoling us by this very expression, and cherishing our valuable hopes. For he who is only asleep, will surely awake; and death is no more than a long sleep.

Say not, a dead man hears not, nor speaks, nor sees, nor is conscious. It is just so with a sleeping person. If I may speak somewhat paradoxically, even the soul of a sleeping person is in some sort asleep; but not so the soul of a dead man; that is awake.

But you say, a dead man experiences corruption, and becomes dust and ashes. And what then, beloved hearers? For this very reason, we ought to rejoice. For when a man is about to rebuild an old and tottering house, he first sends out its occupants, then tears it down and rebuilds anew a more splendid one. This occasions no grief to the occupants, but rather joy; for they do not think of the demolition which they see. but of the house which is to come, though not yet seen. When God is about to do a similar work, he destroys our body, and removes the soul which was dwelling in it as from some house, that he may build it anew and more splendidly, and again bring the soul into it with greater glory. Let us not, therefore, regard the tearing down, but the splendor which is to succeed.

If, again, a man has a statue decayed by rust and age, and mutilated in many of its parts, he breaks it up and casts it into a furnace, and after the melting he receives it again in a more beautiful form. As then the dissolving in the furnace was not a destruction but a renewing of that statue, so the death of our bodies is not a destruction, but a renovation. When, therefore, you see as in a furnace our flesh flowing away to corruption, dwell not on that sight, but wait for the recasting. And be not satisfied with the extent of this illustration, but advance in your thoughts to a still higher point; for the statuary, casting into the furnace a brazen image, does not furnish you in its place a golden and undecaying statue, but again makes a brazen one. God does not thus; but casting in a mortal body formed of clay, he returns to you a golden and immortal statue; for the earth, receiving a corruptible and decaying body, gives back the same, incorruptible and undecaying. Look not, therefore, on the corpse, lying with closed eyes and speechless lips, but on the man that is risen, that has received glory unspeakable and amazing, and direct your thoughts from the present sight to the future hope.

But do you miss his society, and therefore lament and mourn? Now is it not unreasonable, that, if you should have given your daughter in marriage, and her husband should take her to a distant country and should there enjoy prosperity, you would not think the circumstance a calamity, but the intelligence of their prosperity would console the sorrow occasioned by her absence; and yet here, while it is not a man, nor a fellow servant, but the Lord himself who has taken your relative, that you should grieve and lament?

And how is it possible, you ask, not to grieve, since I am only a man? Nor do I say that you should not grieve: I do not condemn dejection, but the intensity of it. To be dejected is natural; but to be overcome by dejection is madness, and folly, and unmanly weakness. You may grieve and weep; but give not way to despondency, nor indulge in complaints. Give thanks to God, who has taken your friend, that you have the opportunity of honoring the departed one and of dismissing him with becoming obsequies. If you sink under depression, you withhold honor from the departed, you displease God who has taken him, and you injure yourself; but if you are grateful, you pay respect to him, you glorify God, and you benefit yourself. Weep, as wept your Master over Lazarus, observing the just limits of sorrow, which it is not proper to pass. Thus also said Paul—I would not have you to be ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not as others who have no hope. Grieve, says he; but not as the Greek, who has no hope of a resurrection, who despairs of a future life.

Believe me, I am ashamed and blush to see unbecoming groups of women pass along the mart, tearing their hair, cutting their arms and cheeks—and all this under the eyes of the Greeks. For what will they not say? What will they not utter concerning us? Are these the men who philosophize about a resurrection? Indeed! How poorly their actions agree with their opinions! In words, they philosophize about a resurrection; but they act just like those who do not acknowledge a resurrection. If they fully believed in a resurrection, they would not act thus; if they had really persuaded themselves that a deceased friend had departed to a better state, they would not thus mourn. These things, and more than these, the unbelievers say when they hear those lamentations. Let us then be ashamed, and be more moderate, and not occasion so much harm to ourselves and to those who are looking on us.

For on what account, tell me, do you thus weep for one departed? Because he was a bad man? You ought on that very account to be thankful, since the occasions of wickedness are now cut off. Because he was good and kind? If so, you ought to rejoice; since he has been soon removed, before wickedness had corrupted him; and he has gone away to a world where he stands ever secure, and there is no room even to mistrust a change. Because he was a youth? For that, too, praise Him that has taken him, because he has speedily called him to a better lot. Because he was an aged man? On this account, also, give thanks and glorify Him that has taken him. Be ashamed of your manner of burial. The singing of psalms, the prayers, the assembling of the [spiritual] fathers and brethren—all this is not that you may weep and lament and afflict yourselves, but that you may render thanks to Him who has taken the departed. For as when men are called to some high office, multitudes with praises on their lips assemble to escort them at their departure to their stations, so do all with abundant praise join to send forward, as to greater honor, those of the pious who have departed. Death is rest, a deliverance from the exhausting labors and cares of this world. When, then, thou seest a relative departing, yield not to despondency; give thyself to reflection; examine thy conscience; cherish the thought that after a little while this end awaits thee also. Be more considerate; let another’s death excite thee to salutary fear; shake off all indolence; examine your past deeds; quit your sins, and commence a happy change.

We differ from unbelievers in our estimate of things. The unbeliever surveys the heaven and worships it, because he thinks it a divinity; he looks to the earth and makes himself a servant to it, and longs for the things of sense. But not so with us. We survey the heaven, and admire him that made it; for we believe it not to be a god, but a work of God. I look on the whole creation, and am led by it to the Creator. He looks on wealth, and longs for it with earnest desire; I look on wealth, and contemn it. He sees poverty, and laments; I see poverty, and rejoice. I see things in one light; he in another. Just so in regard to death. He sees a corpse, and thinks of it as a corpse; I see a corpse, and behold sleep rather than death. And as in regard to books, both learned persons and unlearned see them with the same eyes, but not with the same understanding—for to the unlearned the mere shapes of letters appear, while the learned discover the sense that lies within those letters— so in respect to affairs in general, we all see what takes place with the same eyes, but not with the same understanding and judgment. Since, therefore, in all other things we differ from them, shall we agree with them in our sentiments respecting death?

Consider to whom the departed has gone, and take comfort. He has gone where Paul is, and Peter, and the whole company of the saints. Consider how he shall arise, with what glory and splendor. Consider, that by mourning and lamenting thou canst not alter the event which has occurred, and that thou wilt in the end injure thyself. Consider whom you imitate by so doing, and shun this companionship in sin. For whom do you imitate and emulate? The unbelieving, those who have no hope; as Paul has said—That ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. And observe how carefully he expresses himself; for he does not say, Those who have not the hope of a resurrection, but simply, Those who have no hope. He that has no hope of a future retribution, has no hope at all, nor does he know that there is a God, nor that God exercises a providential care over present occurrences, nor that divine justice looks on all things. But he that is thus ignorant and inconsiderate is more unwise than a beast, and separates his soul from all good; for he that does not expect to render an account of his deeds, cuts himself loose from all virtue, and attaches himself to all vice. Considering these things, therefore, and reflecting on the folly and stupidity of the heathen, whose associates we become by our lamentations for the dead, let us avoid this conformity to them. For the apostle mentions them for this very purpose, that by considering the dishonor into which thou fallest, thou mightest recover thyself from this conformity, and return to thy proper dignity.

And not only here, but every where and frequently, the blessed Paul does the same. For when he would dissuade from sins, he shows with whom we become associated by our sins, that, being touched by the character of the persons, thou shouldest avoid such companionship. To the Thessalonians, accordingly, he says—Let every one keep his own body in sanctification and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles who know not God. And again—Walk not as the other Gentiles in the vanity of their mind. Thus also here—1 would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others who have no hope. For it is not the nature of things, but our own disposition, which makes us grieve; not the death of the departed, but the weakness of those who mourn. No present objects, then, should be able to afflict a believer; but even before he reaches the future good, even in the present life, he differs from unbelievers, receiving no small benefit from the Christian philosophy, but deriving therefrom the greatest encouragement and perpetual joy. Hence Paul says—Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice. Thus even before the resurrection, we receive this no small recompense of our faith, that we are not cast down by any terrible events, but from the hope of future good we receive abundant consolation. As, then, we are gainers on every hand, so the unbeliever is a loser on every hand, being punished at last on account of disbelieving the resurrection, and being dejected by present occurrences on account of his not expecting any good hereafter.

We ought, therefore, to thank God not only for the resurrection, but also for the hope of it; which can comfort the afflicted soul, and bid us be of good cheer concerning the departed, for they will again rise and be with us. If we must have anguish, we should mourn and lament over those who are living in sin, not over those who have died righteously. Thus did Paul; for he says to the Corinthians—Lest when I come to you God shall humble me among you and I shall bewail many. He was not speaking of those, who had died, but of those who had sinned and had not repented of the lasciviousness and uncleanness which they had committed; over these it was proper to mourn. So likewise another writer admonishes, saying—Weep over the dead, for the light has failed; and weep over the fool, for understanding has failed (Ecclesiastes. 22:10). Weep a little for the dead; for he has gone to his rest; but the fool’s life is a greater calamity than death. And surely if one devoid of understanding is always a proper object of lamentation, much more he that is devoid of righteousness and that has fallen from hope towards God. These, then, let us bewail; for such bewailing may be useful. For often while lamenting these, “we amend our own faults; but to bewail the departed is senseless and hurtful. Let us not, then, reverse the order, but bewail only sin; and all other things, whether poverty, or sickness, or untimely death, or calumny, or false accusation, or whatever human evil befalls us, let us resolutely bear them all. For these calamities, if we are watchful, will be the occasions of adding to our crowns.
But how is it possible, you ask, that a bereaved person, being a man, should not grieve? On the contrary, I ask, how is it that being a man he should grieve, since he is honored with reason and with hopes of future good? Who is there, you ask again, that has not been subdued by this weakness? Many, I reply, and in many places, both among us and among those who have died before us. Job, for instance; the whole circle of his children being taken away, hear what he says;—The Lord gave; the Lord hath taken away: as it seemed good to the Lord, so it has come to pass. A wonderful instance, even when barely heard; but if you examine it closely, your wonder will greatly increase.

For consider; Satan did not take merely half and leave half, or take the larger number and leave the rest; but he gathered all the fruit, and yet did not prevail to uproot the tree; he covered the whole sea with waves, and yet did not overwhelm the barque; he despoiled the tower of its strength, and yet could not batter it down. Job stood firm, though assailed from every quarter; showers of arrows fell, but they did not wound him. Consider how great a thing it was, to see so many children perish. Was it not enough to pierce him to the quick, that they should all be snatched away? all together and in one day? in the flower of life? having shown so much virtue? expiring as by a stroke of vengeance? that after so many sorrows this last should be inflicted? that the father was fond of them, and that the deceased were worthy of his affection ? When one loses vicious children, he does indeed suffer grief, but yet not intense grief; for the wickedness of the departed does not allow the sorrow to be poignant. But when they are virtuous, an abiding wound is inflicted, the remembrance is indelible, the calamity is inconsolable; there is a double sting, from nature, and from the virtuous character of the departed.

That Job’s children were virtuous, appears from the fact that their father was particularly solicitous in regard to them, and rising up offered sacrifices in their behalf, fearing lest they might have committed secret sins; and nothing was more important in his esteem than this. Not only the virtue of the children is thus shown, but also the affectionate spirit of the father. Since, therefore, the father was so affectionate, showing not only a love for them which proceeded from nature, but that also which came from their piety, and since the departed were thus virtuous, the anguish had a threefold intensity. Still further; when children are torn away separately, the suffering has some consolation ; for those that are left alleviate the sorrow over the departed; but when the whole circle is gone, to what one of all his numerous children can the childless man now look?

Besides these causes of sorrow, there was a fifth stroke. What was that? That they were all snatched away at once. For if in the case of those who die after three or five days’ sickness, the women and all the relatives bewail this most of all, that the deceased was taken away from their sight speedily and suddenly, much more might he have been distressed, when thus deprived of all, not in three days, or two, or one, but in one hour! For a calamity long thought of, even if it be hard to bear, may easily become light through anticipation: but that which happens contrary to expectation and suddenly is intolerable.

Would you hear of a sixth stroke? He lost them all in the very flower of their age. You know how very piercing are untimely deaths, and productive of very diversified grief. The instance we are contemplating was not only untimely, but also violent; so that here was a seventh stroke. For their father did not see them expire on a bed, but they were all overwhelmed by the falling habitation. Consider then: a man was digging in that pile of ruins, and now he drew up a stone, and now a limb of a deceased one; he saw a hand still holding a cup, and another right hand placed on a table, and the mutilated form of a body, the nose torn away, the head crushed, the eyes put out, the brain scattered, the whole frame marred, and the variety of wounds not permitting the father to recognize the beloved countenances. You. suffer emotions and shed tears at merely hearing of these things ; what must he have endured at the sight of them 1 For if we, so long after the event, cannot bear to hear of this tragedy, though it was another man’s calamity, what an adamant was he to look on these things, and contemplate them, not as another’s, but his own afflictions! He did not give way to dejection, nor ask, “What does this mean? Is this the recompense of my kindness? Was it for this that I opened my house, that I might see it made the grave of my children? Did I for this exhibit every parental virtue, that they should endure such a death?” No such things did he speak, or even think; but steadily bore all, though bereaved of them after bestowing on them so much care. For as an accomplished statuary framing golden images, adorns them with great care, so he sought properly to mould and adorn their souls. And as a husbandman assiduously waters his palm trees, or olives, enclosing them and cultivating them in every suitable way; so he perpetually sought to enrich each one’s soul, as a fruitful olive, with increasing virtue. But he saw the trees overthrown by the assault of the evil spirit, and exposed on the earth, and enduring that miserable kind of death; yet he uttered no reviling word, but rather blessed God, thus giving a deadly blow to the devil.

Should you say that Job had many sons, but that others have frequently lost their only sons, and that his cause of sorrow was not equal to theirs; you say well; but I reply, that Job’s cause of sorrow was not only equal, but far greater. For of what advantage was it to him that he had many children? It was a severer calamity and a more bitter grief to receive the wound in many bodies.

Still, if you wish to see another holy man having an only son, and showing the same and even greater fortitude, call to mind the patriarch Abraham, who did not indeed see Isaac die, but, what was much more painful, was himself commanded to slay him, and did not question the command, nor repine at it, nor say, “Is it for this thou hast made me a father, that thou shouldst make me the slayer of my son? Better it would have been not to give him at all, than having given him thus to take him away. And if thou choosest to take him, why dost thou command me to slay him and to pollute my right hand? Didst thou not promise me that from this son thou wouldst fill the earth with my descendants? How wilt thou give the fruits, then, if thou pluck up the root? How dost thou promise me a posterity, and yet order me to slay my son? Who ever saw such things, or heard of the like? I am deceived; I have been deluded.” No such thing did he say, or even think; he said nothing against the command, he did not ask the reasons; but hearing the word—Take thy son, thine only son whom thou lovest, and carry him up to one of the mountains which I shall show thee, he complied so readily as even to do more than was commanded. For he concealed the matter from his wife, and he left the servants at the foot of the mount in ignorance of what was to be done, and ascended taking only the victim. Thus not unwillingly, but with promptness, he obeyed the command. Think now what it was, to be conversing alone with his son, apart from all others, when the affections are the more fervently excited, and attachment becomes stronger; and this not for one, or two, but for several, days. To obey the command speedily, would have been wonderful; but not so wonderful as, while his heart was burdened and agitated for many days, to avoid indulging in human tenderness toward his son. On this account God appointed for him a more extended arena, and a longer racecourse, that thou mightest the more carefully observe this combatant. A combatant he was indeed, contending not against a man, but against the force of nature. What language can describe his fortitude? He brought forward his son, bound him, placed him on the wood, seized the sacrificing knife, was just on the point of inflicting the stroke. In what manner to express myself properly, I know not; he only would know, who did these things. For no language can describe how it happened that his hand did not become torpid, that the strength of his nerves did not relax, that the affecting sight of his son did not overpower him.

It is proper here, too, to admire Isaac. For as the one obeyed God, so did the other obey his father; and as the one, at God’s bidding him to sacrifice, did not demand an account of the matter, so the other, when his father was binding him and leading him to the altar, did not say, “Why art thou doing this?”—but surrendered himself to his father’s hand. And then was to be seen a man uniting in his own person the father and the sacrificing priest; and a sacrifice offered without blood, a whole burnt-offering without fire, an altar presenting a type of death and the resurrection. For he both sacrificed his son and he did not sacrifice him. He did not sacrifice him with his hand, but in his purpose. For God gave the command, not through desire to see the flowing of blood, but to give you a specimen of steady purpose, to make known throughout the world this worthy man and to instruct all in coming time, that it is necessary to prefer the command of God before children and nature, before all things, and even life itself. And so Abraham descended from the mount, bringing alive the martyr Isaac. How can we be pardoned, then, tell me, or what apology can we have, if we see that noble man obeying God with so much promptness and submitting to him in all things, and yet we murmur at his dispensations? Tell me not of grief, nor of the intolerable nature of your calamity; rather consider, how in the midst of bitter sorrow you may yet rise superior to it. That which was commanded to Abraham was enough to stagger his reason, to throw him into perplexity, and to undermine his faith in the past. For who would not have then thought, that the promise which had been made him of a numerous posterity was all a deception? But not so Abraham. And not less ought we to admire Job’s wisdom in calamity; and particularly, that after so much virtue, after his alms and various acts of kindness to men, and though aware of no wrong either in himself or his children, yet experiencing so much affliction, affliction so singular, such as had never happened even to the most desperately wicked, still he was not affected by it as most men would have been, nor did he regard his virtue as profitless, nor form any ill-advised opinion concerning the past.

By these two examples, then, we ought not only to admire virtue, but to emulate and imitate it. And let no one say, these were wonderful men. True, they were wonderful and great men. But we are now required to have more wisdom than they, and than all who lived under the Old Testament. For except your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Gathering wisdom, then from all quarters, and considering what we are told concerning a resurrection and concerning these holy men, let us frequently recite it to our souls, not only when we are actually in sorrow, but also while we are free from distress. For I have now addressed you on this subject, though no one is in particular affliction, that when we shall fall into any such calamity, we may, from the remembrance of what has been said, obtain requisite consolation. As soldiers, even in peace, perform warlike exercises, so that when actually called to battle and the occasion makes a demand for skill, they may avail themselves of the art which they have cultivated in peace; so let us, in time of peace, furnish ourselves with weapons and remedies, that whenever there shall burst on us a war of unreasonable passions, or grief, or pain, or any such thing, we may, well armed and secure on all sides, repel the assaults of the evil one with all skill, and wall ourselves around with right contemplations, with the declarations of God, with the examples of good men, and with every possible defense. For so shall we be able to pass the present life with happiness, and to attain to the kingdom of heaven, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Background on Harold Camping

March 17, 2011

Some interesting comments on Harold Camping’s own departure from the church can be found at the following story (link to story). This was brought to my attention by the Heidelblog. The most interesting insight is how the May 21, 1988, date seems to be connected to Camping’s final time teaching Sunday School.

Did Jesus Quote from the Apocrypha?

March 17, 2011

I introduced this short series in a previous segment (link). In brief, I’m responding to a Roman advocate who wrote under the handle or nick, “dgor.” In this segment, I’m responding to the issue of whether Jesus quoted from the Apocrypha.

Up front, I should note that there are two reasons that this argument is really a secondary argument. On the one hand, even if Jesus had quoted from them, simply quoting from something doesn’t mean that one is placing that thing within the canon. What would matter is if Jesus had said, “As the Scriptures say …” followed by a quotation from the Apocrypha. That he never does.

On the other hand, simply failing to quote from something doesn’t (in itself) mean that the thing is outside the canon. For example, we may not be able to find any places where the New Testament (much less Jesus himself) quotes from Esther – yet Esther is canonical.

With those caveats, still it is the case that Jesus never quoted from the Apocrypha, as I explain below. This lessens the chances that the Apocrypha are Scripture, although obviously it falls short of absolute proof.

Moreover, there is some merit in providing this response in that the Roman advocate wasn’t being original. He was just cutting and pasting a typical list one can find on various websites, such as the following (example 1)(example 2).

dgor wrote: “In fact, Jesus quotes from deuterocanonical books (books that you call Apocrypha, but which Catholics accept) numerous times:”

This is a common myth, but as we will see below, it is just a myth.

Let’s examine the alleged evidence:

(1) “Matt. 6:19-20 – Jesus’ statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 – lay up your treasure.”

This is probably the strongest example that we will see in the list. Moreover, there may be a similarity of expression in that “lay up” and “treasure” (and even “rust”) are present, but in Sirach 29 the “treasure” is literal treasure, whereas in Matthew 6 there is a contrast between carnal and spiritual treasure. Compare:

Sirach 29:9-13
Help the poor for the commandment’s sake, and turn him not away because of his poverty. Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend, and let it not rust under a stone to be lost. Lay up thy treasure according to the commandments of the most High, and it shall bring thee more profit than gold. Shut up alms in thy storehouses: and it shall deliver thee from all affliction. It shall fight for thee against thine enemies better than a mighty shield and strong spear.


Matthew 6:19-21
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

It’s neither a quotation nor a clear allusion.

Moreover, Sirach’s comment about obedience to God’s commandments being better than gold is itself derivable from the canonical Scriptures:

Psalm 19:7-11
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

And the command referenced in Sirach is found in the canonical Scriptures as well:

Deuteronomy 15:7-11
If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Moreover, the principle expressed can be found in the canonical Scriptures as well:

Proverbs 10:2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.

(2) “Matt.. 7:12 – Jesus’ golden rule “do unto others” is the converse of Tobit 4:15 – what you hate, do not do to others.”

First, of course, this is definitely not a quotation, since, as dgor acknowledged, it is a sort of mirror image approach to the question.

Tobit 4:15 Do that to no man which thou hatest: drink not wine to make thee drunken: neither let drunkenness go with thee in thy journey.

Second, the source of Jesus’ words is explained – it is a summary of the law and the prophets:

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

(3) “Matt. 7:16,20 – Jesus’ statement “you will know them by their fruits” follows Sirach 27:6 – the fruit discloses the cultivation.”

Again, this is not a quotation. Moreover, while it is a similar idea, it is not same idea.

Sirach 27:6 The fruit declareth if the tree have been dressed; so is the utterance of a conceit in the heart of man.


Matthew 7:16-20
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Notice the difference. Jesus is not referring her to how the tree has been cultivated, but to what sort of plant it is. A more similar thought is found in the canonical Scriptures:

Isaiah 5:1-4
Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

(4) “Matt. 9:36 – the people were “like sheep without a shepherd” is same as Judith 11:19 – sheep without a shepherd.”

The shepherd-less sheep imagery isn’t being quoted from Judith, and the imagery has multiple canonical examples:

Numbers 27:17 Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.

1 Kings 22:17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.

2 Chronicles 18:16 Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.

By way of contrast:

Judith 11:19 And I will lead thee through the midst of Judea, until thou come before Jerusalem; and I will set thy throne in the midst thereof; and thou shalt drive them as sheep that have no shepherd, and a dog shall not so much as open his mouth at thee: for these things were told me according to my foreknowledge, and they were declared unto me, and I am sent to tell thee.

But the passage in Matthew states:

Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

And, of course, this is not Jesus speaking, much less quoting. And yet the most clear canonical reference is this:

Ezekiel 34:5-10 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; as I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

(5) “Matt. 11:25 – Jesus’ description “Lord of heaven and earth” is the same as Tobit 7:18 – Lord of heaven and earth.”

Like the “sheep with no shepherd” them, the theme of God being the Lord of heaven and earth is similarly a widespread theme.

Psalm 115:15 Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
Isaiah 37:16 O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.
Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

Moreover, one not only finds this theme in Tobit 7:18:

Tobit 7:18 Be of good comfort, my daughter; the Lord of heaven and earth give thee joy for this thy sorrow: be of good comfort, my daughter.

But one also finds it in Judith 9:12:

Judith 9:12 I pray thee, I pray thee, O God of my father, and God of the inheritance of Israel, Lord of the heavens and earth, Creator of the waters, king of every creature, hear thou my prayer:

And in Matthew 11:25, it is clearly not a quotation of either of those passages of the Apocrypha:

Matthew 11:25-26 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

(6) “Matt. 12:42 – Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.”

No. He refers to the actual wisdom of Solomon, not the book given the name “the wisdom of Solomon.”

Matthew 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

The account of this can be found in the canonical Scriptures:

1 Kings 10:1-13
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon. And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.
1Ki 10:12 And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day. And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.

(7) “Matt. 16:18 – Jesus’ reference to the “power of death” and “gates of Hades” references Wisdom 16:13.”

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18 does indeed use the expression the “gates of hell” which is the same as in the passage that dgor identified:

Wisdom 16:13 For thou hast power of life and death: thou leadest to the gates of hell, and bringest up again.

But the “power of … death” is only in Wisdom 16. While I agree that the gates of hell actually refer to the same concept in both cases (the “gates of hell shall not prevail” refers to the resurrection, not the conquering of anti-Christian forces), it’s amusing to observe how often the passage is used in the wrong way (especially by our Roman friends).

However, while the concept of “gates of hell” (meaning the power of death) may be the same, and while Jesus is making a similar claim to be able to raise the dead, still it seems a stretch to allege that Jesus is “quoting” from Wisdom 16:13 simply by using the same two-word phrase the same way.

(8) “Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 – Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.”

No. This is way off. First, here is the account (in each of the three versions).

Matthew 22:23-32
The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, “Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.” Jesus answered and said unto them, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Mark 12:18-27
Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, “Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.” And Jesus answering said unto them, “Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.”

Luke 20:27-38
Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, saying, “Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.” And Jesus answering said unto them, “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.”

Obviously, the reference to the seven husbands is not from Jesus at all, but from the Saducees. Moreover, it should be noted that the woman is not the same as the woman of Tobit 3:

Tobit 3:8 Because that she had been married to seven husbands, whom Asmodeus the evil spirit had killed, before they had lain with her. Dost thou not know, said they, that thou hast strangled thine husbands? thou hast had already seven husbands, neither wast thou named after any of them.

And interestingly, the woman of Tobit 7 (no need to decide if it is the same one, though it seems to be) was married to an eighth husband:

Tobit 7:9-14
So he communicated the matter with Raguel: and Raguel said to Tobias, Eat and drink, and make merry: for it is meet that thou shouldest marry my daughter: nevertheless I will declare unto thee the truth. I have given my daughter in marriage to seven men, who died that night they came in unto her: nevertheless for the present be merry. But Tobias said, I will eat nothing here, till we agree and swear one to another. Raguel said, Then take her from henceforth according to the manner, for thou art her cousin, and she is thine, and the merciful God give you good success in all things. Then he called his daughter Sara, and she came to her father, and he took her by the hand, and gave her to be wife to Tobias, saying, Behold, take her after the law of Moses, and lead her away to thy father. And he blessed them; and called Edna his wife, and took paper, and did write an instrument of covenants, and sealed it.

(9) “Matt. 24:15 – the “desolating sacrilege” Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.”

No. It is taken from Daniel, and 1&2 Maccabees would contradict Jesus’ words, if taken to refer to Daniel.

Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

In fact, to the extent that 1&2 Maccabees aim to make reference to Daniel’s account, they appear to contradict the words of the Lord:

1 Maccabees 1:54-55
Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side; and burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets.

2 Maccabees 8:16-18
So Maccabeus called his men together unto the number of six thousand, and exhorted them not to be stricken with terror of the enemy, nor to fear the great multitude of the heathen, who came wrongly against them; but to fight manfully, and to set before their eyes the injury that they had unjustly done to the holy place, and the cruel handling of the city, whereof they made a mockery, and also the taking away of the government of their forefathers: for they, said he, trust in their weapons and boldness; but our confidence is in the Almighty who at a beck can cast down both them that come against us, and also all the world.

(10) “Matt. 24:16 – let those “flee to the mountains” is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.”

Again, no. Let’s first examine the text:

Matthew 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Then compare the section from the Apocrypha:

1 Maccabees 2:27-28 And Mattathias cried throughout the city with a loud voice, saying, Whosoever is zealous of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me. So he and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that ever they had in the city.

So, it is not a quote – simply advice to do something similar to what Mattathias did, without referencing Mattathias in any way.

If you’re looking for an Old Testament reference, perhaps a better one would be:

Isaiah 30:17 One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.

At least in that case, there is mention of fleeing and a mountain top, and it is not simply descriptive of a past event.

But fleeing to the mountains was a pretty common theme:

Genesis 14:10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.

Psalm 11:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

Song of Solomon 4:6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

Zechariah 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

(11) “Matt. 27:43 – if He is God’s Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.”

Again, these are unbelievers speaking, but let’s examine whether they seem to be quoting from Wisdom:

Matthew 27:43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

Wis 2:18 For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.

There is some similarity there. It’s not a quotation, but it is somewhat close.

The words of the wicked here, however, actually were prophesied in the canonical scriptures:

Psalm 22:8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

(12) “Mark 4:5,16-17 – Jesus’ description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.”

There is a similar simile used, but it is not the same simile nor is it given in the same words nor used to make the same point.

Sirach 40:15 The children of the ungodly shall not bring forth many branches: but are as unclean roots upon a hard rock.

Notice that in the example in Sirach, the simile relates to the physical offspring of wicked people. In contrast, the point in Mark 4 is about the nature of the faith of certain men.

Mark 4:2-20
And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, “Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: and it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” And he said unto them, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” And he said unto them, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

(13) “Mark 9:48 – description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.”

Judith 16:17 Woe to the nations that rise up against my kindred! the Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh; and they shall feel them, and weep for ever.

A better, and canonical, comparison (and presumably the source for Judith’s comments) would be this:

Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.


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