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A Look at Those “Difficult” Passages


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:47 AM

A Look at Those ‘Difficult’ Passages
 
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- H.A. Whittaker
 
1995
 
This material was first published as a series entitled ‘Some Wrested Scriptures’ in Vols. 94 & 95 of “The Christadelphian”, a monthly magazine published from Birmingham, U.K. by The Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association Ltd. to whom grateful acknowledgement is given for permission to reprint the material in book form. The publishers also thank the author’s family for their permission to publish this work. The material has been kept in the same order as it was first presented, with Topic and Reference Indexes being added to allow easy reference to the subjects and Bible verses dealt with.
 
Published and Printed by:
 
Printland Publishers, G.P.O. Box 159, Hyderabad 
500 001, Andhra Pradesh, India.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:47 AM

INTRODUCTION
 
THERE are very few Christadelphians who have not at some time or another found themselves tangled up in discussion and argument about some principle of the Truth. And there are very few who have not at some time or another been compelled to admit to themselves if not to others that they have been lamentably ill-prepared for such a responsibility.
 
It is not sufficient, as one finds to one’s cost, to be able to quote: “The dead know not anything”. It is quite another matter that one should cope convincingly with the thief on the cross, and the spirits of just men made perfect, and Paul’s desire to depart and be with Christ, and his manifest preference to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.
 
It is one thing to know and believe: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord”. But to reason cogently concerning Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy about a “Mighty God”, or with Thomas’s confession, or with the copious “pre-existence” passages in John’s gospel, is a different proposition altogether.
 
Nor is it sufficient to fence with these problems of orthodoxy defensively. One must be able to carry the campaign into the home territory of ignorance and error. The chief function of light is that it shall shine in darkness.
 
It becomes, therefore, the responsibility of all Christadelphians, and not only of those who are speakers or campaigners, to acquaint themselves with the best available means of quenching all the fiery darts of the enemy.
 
Often all that is needed to expose fully the errors of orthodoxy is a more-careful-than-usual reading of the controverted passage and its context. The rich man in hell is a first-class example of this.
 
Sometimes the help of a little specialized knowledge can make a world of difference. Again the rich man in hell is a good illustration, for it is certainly very handy to be able to quote Josephus’ “Dissertation on Hades” as solid support for the view we usually adopt about that parable.
 
It is perhaps worthwhile to point out that often our part in these discussions is primarily a negative one. For instance, in dealing with Isaiah 14 the main problem is quite simply this: Does this Scripture refer to a superhuman Devil or does it not? And it is well, in argument, to keep strictly to this issue. We may have very clear ideas as to which King of Babylon is alluded to there. We may feel a certain confidence in being able to explain all the various details in the chapter with reference to him. But it is rarely good tactics to allow oneself to be drawn into a discussion of such points. Let the issue be confined to the point in question.
 
At the same time there is need of warning against the attitude of mind which regards the “proof-texts” of orthodoxy as so many scriptures to be explained away. Nothing imparts more confidence in controversy than a well grounded knowledge of what the passage in question really does mean.
 
These brief studies may be regarded as a continuation of the worthy lead given by the late Bro. C.C. Walker in The Christadelphian Shield, a little book which should be in every Christadelphian’s hands.
 
For brevity’s sake and, it is hoped, for greater lucidity and convenience of reference the passages considered are to be dealt with in note form. Readers are recommended to follow the references in their own Bibles.
 
There are a few instances where it can hardly be said that there is unanimity among Christadelphians as to what is the precise meaning of a passage, even though there may be complete agreement as to what it does not mean. In such cases an effort will be made to include two or even three different points of view, so that readers may exercise their own judgment.
 
H.A.W.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:51 AM

Genesis 6:12 - The Sons of God
 
“The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” This is often quoted in connection with the conventional doctrine of the Devil. These “Sons of God”, it is claimed, were angels who had sinned, and in this way evil was spread in the earth. But see Matt. 22:30. Angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. This is conclusive.
 
The “Sons of God” were probably the members of the righteous line of Seth, now intermarrying with the evil Cainites. Compare Deut. 14:1; 1 John 3:1.
 
The R.V. Margin: “my spirit shall not always abide in man” (the Septuagint reading, which is also supported by 1 Peter 3:19,20) makes this likely.
 
The alternative is that they were the sons of “the mighty, the rulers”. Compare the use of Elohim in Exod. 21:6 and 22:8,28; Psa. 138:1.
 
 
Genesis 3:1- The Serpent
 
Was the serpent a superhuman Devil who had been ejected from heaven, and who now appeared in Eden in disguise?
 
  a) The narrative insists that this was a serpent, “more subtil than any beast of the field”: verse 14. “thou art cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field.” What can be the point of these expressions if the serpent was a rebellious angel?
 
  b) Paul believed the serpent to be a serpent! “I fear lest as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted...” (2 Cor. 11:3).
 
  c) Then why or whence the serpent’s subtilty and power of speech? Is this a difficulty? Parrots and budgerigars talk. And did not God give speech to Balaam’s ass?
 
Further suggestion: that the serpent’s subtilty came from partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. How did Eve know that the tree was “good for food” (verse 6), unless she saw someone eating of it? And the curse on the serpent: “upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat...” - why this except it be as appropriate punishment for an act that had led to so much evil? The idea is attractive but tentative.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:52 AM

Isa.14:12-15 - “Lucifer, son of the morning”
 
  a) The passage is about “the king of Babylon” (verse 4). The Devil is nowhere mentioned. (Note that, whilst the language is not inappropriate to describe Nebuchadnezzar, the true application is to Sennacherib or one of his Assyrian predecessors in Isaiah’s own time: see verse 25. The Assyrian kings were specially proud of their additional title: King of Babylon).
 
  b) Verse 16: “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?” Therefore no superhuman Devil! And note verse 22.
 
  c) If the Devil, why should he be specially anxious for a place of honour “in the sides of the north”? (Verse 13).
 
  d) But why “Lucifer”? There is no earthly or unearthly reason why this word should describe the Devil. As a personal name of the Devil it seems to have been introduced by Jerome near the end of the Fourth Century. It became very popular in the Middle Ages and was “immortalized” by Milton’s Paradise Lost, a fiction which Milton himself can hardly have taken seriously. It means “morning star”: R.V. “Day star” - hence “Son of the dawn”. The figure is that of the brilliant planet Venus which appears low in the sky just before dawn to climb higher and higher until lost in daylight (verse 13,14). The same bright planet is also an evening star seen at sunset and then going lower and lower until lost beneath the horizon - “brought down to hell”.
 
  e) This passage only becomes a difficulty when the more astute adversary seeks to combine it with Luke 10:18 “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven”. There you are, says the cunning one, Jesus himself applies the passage to Satan! This can be trouble-some, especially since any insistence in reply on the past tense “I beheld” is liable to land one in an unedifying wrangle about the “pre-existence” of Christ. So, instead, this approach might be used:
 
  f) fit the words of Luke 10:18 into their context. The disciples return triumphant that their mission has been such a success. There is especial glee over the working of sensational miracles (verse 17). Jesus warns them “Beware of pride and self-exaltation. Remember the judgment pride brought on the King of Babylon.”
 
  g) There is a further reason why Jesus should at this point refer back to Isaiah 14 - he had just been using it in his teaching to point another lesson. Verse 15 is also a quote of Isaiah 14:13 but the words are now addressed to Capernaum! “And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? Thou shalt be brought down unto Hades.” Thus Jesus allows of another application of Isaiah 14, but to the people of another Godless city, not to a personal Devil.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:53 AM

Gen. 1:3,14 - Light before the Sun?
 
How could there be light on the earth before the formation of the heavenly bodies, since all the earth’s light comes from them?
 
It is futile here to attempt to argue that science may be wrong in asserting that the sun is not younger than the earth. The evidence is too strong the other way. Instead, accept it as a fact that the sun is older than the earth. Then what?
 
Suggestion: that Gen. 1 gives the story of creation not necessarily as it took place, but as it was revealed to Moses (perhaps, according to Wiseman, to Adam and Eve) and probably in the order in which it would have appeared to an earthly onlooker.
 
First, chaos on a globe wrapped in thick cloud. The vapour thins out, and light (from the sun) percolates through. As this process continues the separation between earth and sky takes place, followed by another separation - sea and land. Forthwith vegetable growth appears. The enveloping mist gradually dissipates, and the heavenly bodies are revealed in all their grandeur.
 
In discussion of this passage, emphasis needs to be put on the fact that this is the order of the divine revelation.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:54 AM

Exod. 20:8 - The Sabbath
 
It is argued: the Ten Commandments are not part of the ritual Law of Moses, but express the eternal principles of the moral law, binding, on all men at all times.
 
  a) Where is the justification for this claim? The Law itself makes no distinction whatever between the Ten Commandments and all the rest.
 
  b) Of all the Ten Commandments, the law of the sabbath is the only one that is not expressly re-affirmed in the N.T.
 
  c) 2 Cor. 3:7,9 speaks of that which was “written and engraven in stones” as a “ministration of death, of condemnation”.
 
  d) Col. 2:16: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holi(y)day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days”. In reply to the evasion that this refers to special Sabbaths associated with the Feasts of Passover, etc., it is sufficient to say: “Evidence, please?” And here note especially the verse that follows: “Which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ”.
 
  e) Rom. 14:5,6 is conclusive: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day. regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks, and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks”.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:54 AM

Lev. 11- The Dietary Laws
 
Seventh Day Adventists (and some others) maintain that the food prohibitions of the Law have a binding force today. Answer by Rom. 14:6,14,15,17-23; 1 Tim 4:4,5; Mark 7:19, R.V.; Col. 2:16; 1 Cor 8:8.
 
In reply to this formidable list of passages, Seventh Day Adventists put reliance on Matt. 5:18,19. But note verse 17 here, and also Col. 2:17.
 
 
2 Kings 2:11 - Elijah Taken To Heaven
 
  a) Even when coupled with Matt. 17:3 this is pathetic as support for conventional ideas. For here it was the living body of Elijah which went to heaven. So what can this prove about the immortality of the soul? 
 
  b) Elijah is not still alive: “as in Adam all die” 
 
  Compare Hebrews 11:39,40 (this includes Elijah, verse 35).
 
  c) Years after this incident Elijah was still alive.
 
  2 Chron. 21:12 establishes that Elijah was still alive on the earth in the reign of Jehoram, whereas in the reign of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram’s father, Elisha had already succeeded to Elijah’s office, 2 Kings 3:11,12,14.
 
  d) Consequently Elijah’s removal, and the simultaneous appearance of the cherubim chariot, intimated the termination of his prophetic office. Elijah was taken away into a retirement broken only by this solitary intervention by letter, in the later reign of Jehoram. Note that “went up into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11) need mean no more than that Elijah disappeared into the sky, to be transported to some other place. Compare Acts 8:39; 1 Thess. 4:17. Indeed, it must mean this, “No man hath ascended up to heaven” (John 3:13).


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:55 AM

1 Samuel 28 - The Witch of Endor
 
Difficulties in the way of a literal interpretation:
 
  1. Would God answer Saul by a means which His own commandment given through Moses, had already outlawed? (Deut. 18:10-12).
 
  2. Saul is condemned for this very action (1 Chron 10:13).
 
  3. Samuel is described as “coming up... out of the earth”. Is that where the souls of the departed go? 
 
Explanation on the lines of a fake spiritualistic séance is easy.
 
  a) Saul would be recognized at once in spite of an attempt at disguise. He stood a good head above all the rest of the nation (1 Sam. 9:2). The woman’s words in verse 9 imply recognition.
 
  b) Verse 10: “As the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee”. Saul thus revealed his identity.
 
  c) Saul saw nothing (note verses 12,13, 14).
 
  d) He showed all the credulity that people frequenting séances usually show. “An old man cometh up: and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel.” Was Samuel the only old man ever to wear a mantle?
 
  e) The narrative has strong echoes of chapter 15. Verses. 14,16-18 here should be compared with chapter 15:22, 27,28. And all this was known to all the nation at large; see 15:30.
 
  f) What of the “prophecy” of Saul’s death (chapter 28:19)? This would be an easy inference from the familiar earlier prophecy of Samuel’s (chapter 15) and from the evident collapse of Saul’s morale in face of the inevitable encounter with the Philistines.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:56 AM

Joshua 10:13 - Joshua’s Long Day
 
It is urged that if the earth had indeed stopped its axial rotation, which is the cause of day and night, all kinds of fantastic consequences would have followed - huge tides would have swamped the land, people and everything not fixed would have been rushed off into space, and so on.
 
  a) These words (verses 12-15) are an extract from the lost Book of Jasher, only one other known quotation from it is extant: 2 Sam. 1:18-27, printed as poetry in the R.V. So these words in Joshua 10 are also poetry. Whenever did anyone take Bible poetry literally? e.g. Isa. 55:12; Psa. 98:8 and 114:4,6.
 
  b) Note that what Joshua wanted was sufficient time for his army to vanquish their enemies completely. If the confederacy were allowed to re-form, the victory would have to be won all over again. Now observe what Joshua’s army accomplished in less than 24 hours: they marched about 20 miles through the night, including a climb of about 3,000 feet, they fought a battle all through the early part of the day; and they pursued their enemies another 30 miles or more. Did any army ever pack so much into a single day? The miracle lay not in the physical arresting of the motion of earth or sun but in the strengthening of Joshua’s men for a gruelling ordeal. It was in this way that the leader’s prayer was answered.
 
  c) “The sun stood still... About a whole day.” How could anyone tell by how much the day had been lengthened? Had Joshua a wrist-watch? Or did he carry a water-clock?
 
A portable sundial, even if he had one, would have been useless for this purpose! Clearly the lengthening of the day could only be estimated by what Israel were able to accomplish in it. And they so surprised themselves by what they achieved (in the strength that comes from God) that it seemed as though the sun had been standing still.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:57 AM

Psa. 16:10 - “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell”
 
This commonly - used Christadelphian proof text is not without its own difficulties. “Hell” equals “the grave”, clearly. Peter’s argument in Acts 2 requires this. But the word “soul” can be troublesome. So use Psa. 59:3 and 35:13 and Jer. 18:20 to show that here “my soul” equals “me”; or, use Num. 9:6,7, where the same word is applied to a dead body.
 
 
Psa. 49:15 - “God will redeem my soul...”
 
One would think this Psalm to be explicit enough (verses 7-14,20): nevertheless in discussion the force of these words is liable to become clouded by an orthodox misuse of this verse 15.
 
Explain “soul” as in Psa. 16:10. Emphasize also the force of the word “redeem” and back it up with Psa. 17:15 as an explanation of “he shall receive me”.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:57 AM

2 Kings 17:6 - The Captivity of the Northern Kingdom
 
This verse reads: “In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes”.
 
The entire British-Israel case rests on the assumption that when this captivity took place, two tribes only were left behind in the southern kingdom, and that the ten tribes never returned but have preserved their identity in Western Europe and elsewhere.
 
  a) The Ten Tribes were never lost. From the time of Jeroboam I until Shalmaneser V and Sargon there were constant migrations out of the northern into the southern kingdom (1 Kings 12:17; 2 Chron. 15:9 and 30:11,18,25).  Consequently, when the Babylonian captivity took place, it was a mixture of the twelve tribes that went to Babylon.
 
  b) In any case, the southern kingdom always consisted of four tribes from the start, not two: Judah, Benjamin, Levi (2 Chron. 11:13,16,17), and Simeon, which had its territory in that of Judah (Joshua 19:9).
 
  c) The return from the captivity included people out of “all Israel, yet they are called “Jew”. Thus another basic assumption of British-Israelism, that “Jew” always means “man of Judah,” is disproved (Neh. 7:73 and 5:8,17). See also 1 Chron. 9:2,3, which all authorities accept as a reference to the return from captivity. 
 
  d) British-Israelism insists that the British Commonwealth is a fulfillment of the blessing in Gen. 48:19, 20 But Scripture invariably speaks of Israel s scattering as a punishment (Jer. 32:36-44).
 
  e) Matt. 10:6: the “lost sheep of Israel” were in Palestine - or else the Twelve did not obey their instructions! But according to British-Israelism the lost sheep of Israel were at that very time wandering across Europe in the direction of Britain.
 
  f) Acts 26:7 represents the Twelve Tribes as “earnestly serving God” (R.V) at the very time when Paul spoke. Yet according to British-Israelism they were godless and pagan in the first century.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:58 AM

Eccl. 12:7- “The spirit shall return unto God who gave it”
 
  a) The rest of Ecclesiastes teaches mortality most emphatically (9:5,6,10 and 6:6 and 3:19,20).
 
  b) “Return” means “to go back to a place you came from”. “One day I hope to return to China” would be meaningless, unless spoken by a man who had been there. So, if the spirit is to return to God, it came from God. But none of us had any conscious existence in heaven before this life began. Therefore there is no reason to expect a conscious existence in heaven when this life ends. The “spirit” which returns to God is simply the life power with which He endows us.
 
  c) Some attempt to argue that the spirit must go somewhere. But must it? When an electric light is switched off, no one thinks to ask: Where has the light gone to? It has gone out. It has just ceased to be a light. Even so is man in death.
 
  d) The word “spirit” is the same here as in chapter 3:19. Yet would anyone argue that beasts have or are immortal “spirits”?


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:59 AM

Micah 5:2- “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from ancient days” (R.V.)
 
  a) The expression is commonly interpreted as signifying that Christ, the “ruler in Israel”, has existed as a person from ancient days. But it need not mean any more than this: his “going forth” (his birth; see first part of the verse) has been known to God and foreordained “from ancient days” (1 Peter 1:19,20).
 
  b) But there is good reason to believe that these two phrases “whose goings forth” and “from ancient days” should be read with reference to Israel (the immediate antecedent), and not to the Messiah. The identical expressions occur in the Hebrew of chapter 7:14,15: “thy coming out”, “as in the days of old”, and the reference here is certainly to Israel’s escape from Egypt. Chapter 6:4 is another allusion to the same thing. 


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 10:59 AM

Matt 1:23 - Is Isa. 7:14 - really a Prophecy of the Virgin Birth?
 
  a) Objections are usually that the Hebrew word there translated “virgin” simply means “a young woman of marriageable age”: and that the context of Isaiah 7:14 is purely historical, and has nothing whatever to do with Christ. How, it is asked, could the birth of a child 700 years later be in any sense a sign of divine help to desperate Ahaz faced with threat of invasion?
 
  b) The first of these points need not be argued against even though the truth of the statement is by no means sure. It may, however, be observed that the Septuagint translators some 150 or more years before Christ chose the Greek word for virgin to represent the Hebrew word in Isa. 7:14, although they can have had little idea of this prophecy relating to Messiah. There seems to have been no expectation amongst the Jews that Messiah would be born of a virgin.
 
  c) The second point is met in the first instance by agreeing that Isaiah’s words had a local and immediate reference to Ahaz’ problem, with a fuller Messianic significance (the real significance) in days to come. This is a normal feature of Old Testament prophecy.
 
  d) But the main point to be insisted upon is that the context of the prophecy requires a Messianic application Faithless Ahaz, fearful for the safety of his kingdom, should have rested in confidence on God’s promise to David (2 Sam 7). Hence the implied rebuke in Isaiah’s words, “Hear ye now, house of David”. More pointedly still, Isaiah bade the king ask a sign, concerning the promised Messiah! This is the idiomatic meaning of the words: “ask it either in the depth, or in the height above” (verse 11). In one passage after another these expressions are used with reference to the Messiah. See Gen. 49:25; Prov. 30:4, Deut. 30:2 (Rom 10:6); Isa 45:8; Psa. 85:11; Gen. 22:17; Zech. 8:12; Deut. 33:13.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 11:00 AM

Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13 - The Temptation of Jesus
 
There is no lack of reason to require that this story of Christ’s temptation be not read as a narrative of what literally happened.
 
  1) Verse 8. From what mountain can all the kingdoms of the world be seen, in a moment of time? (Luke 4:5)
 
  2) Verse 9. “All these things will I give thee”. But the emphatic teaching of the rest of the Bible is that “God rules in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whosoever He will”.
 
  3) Mark 1:13: “forty days, tempted of Satan”. But the entire temptation could comfortably have been packed into a couple of hours!
 
  4) “In the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan”. The temptation did not take place in the wilderness at least, the second and third items were in Jerusalem and on a high mountain. 
 
  5) The order of the temptations in Matthew and Luke is different. So either one evangelist is in error, or the records must be read in such a way as to be harmonized, and that means coming away from a literal interpretation.
 
  6) Heb. 4:15 is conclusive: “Tempted in all points like as we are”. But what person has ever had experience of being tempted by a personal appearance of a superhuman Devil? Neither did Jesus.
 
  7) Suppose the Devil had appeared to Jesus in person! Then there would have been no temptation. The whole power of temptation lies in its subtilty, not its obviousness. This has been well expressed by a famous German theologian, de Wette; “The appearance of the Devil in person would have taken all force from the temptation for the Son of God would know him at once”.
 
  8) Where did Matthew and Luke get their accounts of the temptation? Possibly by direct inspiration from God, but far more likely from the lips of Jesus himself. And how could Jesus put into words an adequate impression of the power and variety of his temptations except by expressing it in the vigorous figurative language so characteristic of him?
 
  9) James 1:13,14; “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed”.
 
  10) The present writer is strongly of the opinion that the temptations of Jesus were all subjective (as James 1:14 emphasizes). It should be noted that all the difficulties listed above cease to be difficulties as soon as the subjective interpretation is adopted. This case of interpretation is itself a further argument in favour of such an approach to the question.
 
  11) A brief summary of the issues facing Jesus in his temptation:
 
  The main part of his life’s work now lies before him. And he begins it equipped with divine power such as no man ever had. What are the principles to be followed?
  
  Suppose this miraculous power be used for selfish purposes, to make life smooth and easy? (Stones into bread). NO! There must be dependence upon God. (Hence Matt. 8:20).
  
  Suppose he aim at converting purblind Israel by dazzling displays of miraculous power? NO! The Father wishes men to come to Him in faith and not through spiritual bulldozing. (Hence Matt. 12:15-20).
  
  Suppose he turn away from the wretched prospect of suffering and death? Why not aim directly at dominion of the world? Jesus could have been a supremely beneficent emperor of Rome within a few years. (Hence John 6:15). Again, NO! First the cross, and then the crown.
 
There are doubtless many other aspects to the temptation of Jesus besides these.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 11:01 AM

Matt. 16:16-19 - “Upon this Rock”
 
  a) The rock is not Peter but Peter’s confession 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20; Matt 7:24,25; 1 Peter 2:6,8.
 
  b) In the O.T. the Rock is always God or (prophetically) Christ. Psalm 18:2 and 42:9 and 78:16 (l Cor. 10:4), and many others.
 
  c) The power of the keys was committed to the other apostles as well as to Peter; ch. 18:18; John 20:23; Rev. 21:14. And note that 1 Cor 12:28 says; “First, apostles”; not “First, Peter; then apostles....’’.
 
  d) In verse 23 Peter is a stumbling stone (“an offence”) not a Rock. And there he is also “Satan”!
 
  e) The Roman Church makes great play with John 1:42- Jesus gave the name Rock to Simon at the very start. But in Matt. 16:18 the Greek is: “Thou art Petrous, and upon this petra I will build my church”. The change in the terminology suggests a distinction rather than an identification. There is available a neat Biblical proof of this which a priest might appreciate but which unfortunately is above the level of the ordinary Catholic: Luke 22:31,32: “Simon, Satan hath desired to have you (apostles) that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee (Simon) and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”. Without doubt these words are based on Amos 9:9, where note: “Yet shall not the least grain (mg. Heb. Stone) fall upon the earth”. That word “stone” shows why Jesus went to this passage and also that he understood the name Peter to mean a tiny stone, not the living rock. 
 
  f) The Roman Church, insists almost querulously on the tradition of the Early Church as the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. On this passage the Fathers are anything but unanimous. Lannouy, a French Catholic, catalogued the evidence thus: 17 fathers say the rock was Peter; 44 say the rock was the faith Peter confessed; 16 say the rock was the Church built on all the Apostles. In the second category are great names like Hilary, Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria. And even Origen and the great Augustine hover between different interpretations.
 
  g) The early Church quite evidently did not regard Peter as a supreme authority in things spiritual. In Acts 11:1-3 it is the church which calls Peter to account. In Acts 8:14 “the apostles.... Sent Peter and John” to Samaria. In Gal. 2:11 Paul rebuked Peter publicly for a blatant error in the principles of Christ.
 
  h) Luke 22:32 does not belong to Peter exclusively. The church in Rome itself was strengthened by Paul (Rom 1:11, where the same Greek word is used). See also 2 Cor. 11:28. And note the limitation on Peter’s jurisdiction in Gal. 2:8.
 
  i) Even if it is established that Peter did receive authority over the church, where is the evidence that he was also given power to pass that authority on to others? And suppose such evidence were available, where is the proof that the bishop of Rome is his successor? (Even in the Fourth Century the illustrious Eusebius maintained strongly that the Rock was Peter only, and none after him). Note that it is not wise to attempt to contest the claim that Peter ever went to Rome. The evidence is almost all the other way.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 11:02 AM

Matt. 22:32 - “God is not the God of the dead but of the living”.
 
Some quote these words as a proof that Jesus meant to teach that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive. Yet the context (verse 23:31) is entirely about resurrection, the resurrection of the body. And the Lord’s argument is God is a God of living people and not of dead people, therefore the fathers must one day rise from the dead. Note also that the passage is quoted from Exod. 3:6,16 where the emphasis is clearly on the future purpose of God: see the R.V. margin of verse 14: “I will be that I will be”, which is certainly the correct reading of the Hebrew.
 
 
Matt 26:26 - “This is my body”
 
The Roman Church claims that the priestly blessing changes the bread into the veritable body of Christ.
 
  a) Did this transubstantiation actually take place in the upper room? The entire complete body of Christ was with them there at the table.
 
  b) “This is my body”. Compare “I am the true vine”: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth”: “I am the door”: “The Rock was Christ”. In each of these the verb “to be” is used for “to mean, to symbolize”. Especially, compare 1 Cor. 11:25: “This cup is the new testament (covenant)”, So if “this is my blood” means that the wine became literal blood, then the cup became a literal covenant.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 11:03 AM

Mark 9:43-48 - “If thy hand offend thee, cut it off...”
 
A careful reading of this passage makes it plain that the words cannot be read literally.
 
  a) “It is better for thee to enter into life maimed (or halt, or with one eye).” Is it possible that the life to come is to be a state of imperfection? Further, hands, feet and eyes are parts of the material body. But those who quote these words believe in a disembodied immortality!
 
  b) “Cut it off-pluck it out.” Is Jesus really asking his disciples to cut off hands and feet and to pluck out eyes? Strange that no one has ever done it - literally!
 
  c) “Than having two hands (feet, eyes) to go into hell”. But those who interpret this of eternal torment believe that the soul, and not the body, goes to hell. Does the soul have hands, feet, eyes?
 
  d) “Where their worm dieth not.” If these words are taken literally, then hell (the place of fiery punishment of the wicked) is populated with immortal worms.
 
  e) This passage is based on Isa. 66:24. Is that about hell fire?
 
  f) “And the fire is not quenched.” A long list of passages shows the sense to attach to this O.T. idiom. Isa. 34:10; Ezek. 20:47 (which Jesus applied to the destruction of  Jerusalem in A.D. 70: Luke 23:31) Jer 7:20 and 21:12; 2 Kings 22:17.


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 11:03 AM

Mark 10:14,15 - “Suffer the little children to come unto me”.
 
This passage is the great resort of those who would justify infant baptism.
 
  a) It is, of course, quite right to infer from this incident that Jesus is well pleased when parents seek to dedicate their children to Christ from earliest days.
 
  b) But there is here no mention or hint of baptism.
 
  c) Further, if infant baptism is the logical outcome of these words of the Lord, what of verse 15, which must then mean that only those baptized in infancy have a hope of life!
 
  d) But, evidently enough, verse 15 means that only he will enter the kingdom who has the humble teachability of a little child (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Peter 2:2).


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Posted 13 June 2020 - 11:04 AM

Luke 12:58, 59 - “I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite”.
 
That these words must be taken figuratively cannot be denied. The R.C. interpretation asserts that “prison” here is Purgatory and “till thou hast paid the very last mite” implies a going out of Purgatory when “cleansing” of the soul is complete.
 
  a) It is a confession of weakness to build a major doctrine on a parable. Matt 18:34; 1 Cor 3:12-15, are further similar confessions of weakness by the same church with reference to the same doctrine.
 
  b) What will the R.C. do with the word “until” in Matt. 1:25? “... And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.” The Roman Church regards as heresy the suggestion that Mary bore other children after Jesus. But their argument in Luke 12:59 requires precisely that conclusion in Matt 1:25. Douai Version of Isa 46:4 is: “I am till you grow old”. Does God cease to be when the house of Jacob grows old?
 
  c) The “Fathers” exhibit marked disagreement in the understanding of this passage.
 
  d) Jerome who translated the Vulgate version used by the Roman Church, and Maldonatus the Jesuit, both take this passage to mean everlasting punishment.
 
Matt. 12:32 is read as implying that there is forgiveness in “the world to come”, i.e., in Purgatory. But see the parallel passages in Mark 3:29 and Luke 12:10.
 
1 Peter 3:18-20: whatever this passage may mean, the R.C. can hardly quote it to prove Purgatory, for in the Douai Version which “sometime were disobedient” reads “were incredulous”. But unbelief is regarded as a mortal sin, and such do not go to Purgatory!





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