Daily Archives: July 16, 2014

Questions about Angels and Demons: What Are the Names of Angels in the Bible?

 

The Bible describes angels as powerful spiritual beings whom God created to perform specific jobs both in heaven and on earth. And although the Bible often mentions a “host” of angels, it only names a few.

Gabriel is the most well-known named angel to appear in Scripture. Each time He is mentioned, we see him act as a messenger to impart wisdom or a special announcement from God. In the book of Daniel, Gabriel appeared to the prophet Daniel in order to explain some visions God gave Daniel about the end times (Daniel 8:15–27; 9:20–27). While Daniel still had trouble wrapping his mind around the visions, Gabriel’s explanations, along with other biblical information about the end times, have allowed us to come to some conclusions about how the end times will play out.

Gabriel also appears in the New Testament. He appears to Zacharias in the temple to herald the news that Zacharias’s wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to John. Gabriel also approaches Mary with the announcement of the birth of Christ. Later, Joseph receives guidance in a couple visits from Gabriel. Because of the monumental importance of these history-shaping announcements, it seems likely that Gabriel is one of God’s chief messengers.

The second angel the Bible calls by name is Michael, who functions very differently from the angel Gabriel. Michael is an archangel, which means “chief angel”; this title indicates that Michael holds a high rank in heaven. Although it is not certain that Michael is the only archangel, the possibility exists, according to Jude 9, where Michael is referred to in definite terms as “the archangel Michael.” If other archangels exist, it is likely that Michael leads them.

When Michael appears in the Bible, it is usually in a battle of some type. He wars with the fallen angels (those who sinned against God and became demons) and Satan on behalf of God and His people. Michael appears several times in the book of Daniel as a warrior (see Daniel 10:21 and 12:1). In one instance, the angel Gabriel describes Michael as fighting against the demonic “prince of the Persian kingdom,” enabling Gabriel to reach Daniel and explain the visions to him (Daniel 10:13).

Michael is also seen in the Book of Revelation, when he battles the great dragon—Satan—during the end times (Revelation 12:7–9). The fact that Michael is leading an army of angels against Satan himself testifies to Michael’s high rank and power.

If fallen angels are included in the list of angels who are named in the Bible, two more names should be mentioned: Lucifer/Satan and Apollyon/Abaddon. Lucifer rebelled against God and was thrown down from heaven along with the angels who followed him. Before his rebellion, Lucifer was a beautiful and powerful being; but he coveted equality with the Most High God and therefore became unholy and cursed (Isaiah 14:12–18; Luke 10:18). He is now known as Satan and is God’s chief enemy who seeks to deceive and destroy all of mankind (John 10:10). Apollyon/Abaddon is another fallen angel, mentioned in Revelation 9:11, who leads an end-times demonic army.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Parables: What Is the Meaning of the Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin?

 

The Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin are the first two in a series of three. The third is the “lost son” or the “prodigal son.” Just as in other cases, Jesus taught these parables in a set of three to emphasize His point. To properly understand the message of these parables, we must recognize exactly what a parable is, and why it is used.

What is a parable? At a basic level, a parable is a short story designed to convey a concept to be understood and/or a principle to be put into practice. This, however, tells us more about the intent of a parable than what it actually is. The word “parable” in Greek literally means, “to set beside,” as in the English word “comparison” or “similitude.” In the Jewish culture, things were explained not in terms of statistics or definitions as they are in English-speaking cultures. In the Jewish culture of biblical times, things were explained in word pictures.

Why did Jesus use parables? Word pictures do not draw attention to technicalities (like the Jewish law) but to attitudes, concepts, and characteristics. Jesus was speaking a language that all Jews could understand, but with an emphasis on attitudes rather than the outward appearances that the Pharisees focused on (John 7:24). Parables also have an emotional impact that makes them more meaningful and memorable to those who are soft of heart. At the same time, the parables of Jesus often times remained a mystery to those with a hardened heart because parables require the listeners to be self-critical and put themselves in the appropriate place in the story. The result was that the Pharisees would “be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9; Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:35).

By using parables, the teaching of Jesus remains timeless despite most changes in culture, time, and technology. For example, these two parables convey commonly understood concepts like grace, gentleness, concern, pride and others, all of which we can be understood by us, even though the story is over two thousand years old. In Jewish culture character traits are often described in relation to objects that are universally recognized like the regularity of the sun or the refreshing nature of rain (Hosea 6:3). This also explains why poetry is the most common mode of language used in the Bible. In the case of parables specifically, the elements mentioned in them are usually representations of something else, just as in an allegory. However, an overemphasis on a particular detail in a parable tends to lead to interpretive errors. Repetitions, patterns, or changes will often help us in identifying when we should focus on a particular detail.

Why Jesus taught these parables Let us look at the particular details of these parables. The situation in which Jesus is speaking can be seen in v. 1–2. “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’ ” (NIV). Notice that the Pharisees did not complain that Jesus is teaching sinners. Since the Pharisees thought themselves to be righteous teachers of the law and all others to be wicked, they could not condemn His preaching to “sinners,” but they thought it was inconsistent with the dignity of someone so knowledgeable in the Scriptures to “eat with them.” The presupposition behind the statement of the Pharisees, “this man welcomes sinners,” is what Jesus addresses in all three parables.

To understand the significance of the opening statement in chapter 15, we must consider that the Jewish culture is a shame/honor-driven society that used shame/honor in a way that developed a sort of caste system. Virtually everything that is done in Jewish culture brings either shame or honor. The primary motivation for what and how things are done is based on seeking honor for oneself and avoiding shame. This was the central and all-consuming preoccupation of all Jewish interaction.

In the first parable, Jesus invites His listeners to place themselves into the story with, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep.” In doing this Jesus is appealing to their intuitive reasoning and life experiences. As the story completes, the Pharisees in their pride refuse to see themselves as shameful “sinners,” but eagerly take the honoring label of being “righteous.” However, by the implication of their own pride, they place themselves in the position of being the less significant group of ninety-nine: “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” There may be a bit of sarcasm in the reference to the Pharisees “who do not need to repent” (see Romans 3:23).

In the “lost coin” parable, the ten silver coins refers to a piece of jewelry with ten silver coins on it worn by brides. This was the equivalent of a wedding ring in modern times.

Upon careful examination of the parables, we can see that Jesus was turning His listeners’ understanding of things upside down. The Pharisees saw themselves as being the beloved of God and the “sinners” as refuse. Jesus uses the Pharisees’ prejudices against them, while encouraging the sinners with one clear message. That message is this: God has a tender, personal concern (“and when he finds it, he puts it on his shoulders,” v. 5). God has a joyous love for individuals who are lost (in sin) and are found (repent). Jesus makes it clear that the Pharisees, who thought they were close to God, were actually distant and those sinners and tax collectors were the ones God was seeking after. We see this same message in 18:9–14. There, Jesus is teaching on attitudes of prayer, but the problem he is addressing is the same as in chapter 15. In 18:14 Jesus provides the conclusion for us: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Patterns of progression in the parables By identifying things in common in the parables, we can gain context to help us understand the significance of otherwise subtle elements in the story. As the old saying goes, “Proper context covers a multitude of interpretive errors.” 1) The progression of value: in the first parable a sheep is lost, then a silver coin in the next, followed by a son in the third. As mentioned before, part of the power of these parables to reach the audience comes from the shame/honor aspect of their culture. To lose a sheep as a shepherd would be a very shameful thing, a coin from a piece of bridal jewelry lost in her own house would be more shameful, followed by the lost son, which was the worst of all in Jewish culture. 2) The personal progression from seeking after only 1 of 100 sheep, then 1 of 10 coins, then 1 of 2 sons. This shows the scope of God’s personal concern for individuals and would have been of great comfort to the “sinners” Jesus was teaching. 3) A change in tense in each parable regarding the rejoicing at that which was found, from future tense, to present, and then to past tense: “will be more joy” to “there is joy” and finally “had to be.” This may have communicated the certainty of God’s acceptance of those who repent. 4) The progression of earthly references to what the thing was lost in (a subtle reference to sin). The sheep was lost in open fields, the coin was lost in the dirt that was swept up, and son was in the mud of a pigsty before coming to his senses. 5) The relational power of each parable: Poor men and young boys would have related best to the shepherd and the lost sheep. Women would have related best to the lost bridal coin. The last parable dealt with everyone present by dealing with the relationship of a father and son.

Patterns of Consistency in the parables 1) The main character possesses something valuable and does not want to lose it. 2) The main character rejoices in the finding of the lost thing, but does not rejoice alone. 3) The main character (God) expresses care in either the looking or the handling of that which was lost. 4) Each thing that was lost has a personal value, not just a monetary value: shepherds care for their sheep, women cherish their bridal jewelry, and a father loves his son.

Incidentally, this first illustration of the shepherd caring the sheep on his shoulders was the original figure used to identify Christians before people began identifying Christianity with crosses. In these parables Jesus paints with words a beautiful picture of God’s grace in His desire to see the lost return to Him. Men seek honor and avoid shame; God seeks to glorify Himself through us His sheep, His sons and daughters. Despite having ninety-nine other sheep, despite the sinful rebellion of His lost sheep, God joyfully receives it back, just as He does when we repent and return to Him.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Bible: What Is the Critical Text?

 

The Critical Text is a Greek text of the New Testament that draws from a group of ancient Greek manuscripts and their variants in an attempt to preserve the most accurate wording possible. Other Greek texts besides the Critical Text used for producing English Bibles are the Majority Text and the Textus Receptus.

Until the late 1800s, the Textus Receptus, or the “received text,” was the foremost Greek text from which the New Testament was derived. (The King James Version and New King James Version are based on the Textus Receptus.) In 1881 two prominent scholars, Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton J. A. Hort, printed their New Testament in Greek, later known as the Critical Text. Dismissing the Textus Receptus as an inferior text rife with errors, Westcott and Hort compiled a new Greek text, with special focus on two fourth-century manuscripts, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus.

As a result of Westcott and Hort’s work, their Critical Text became the standard Greek text used for modern interpretation and translation for nearly two generations. The Critical Text was the one chiefly used for the English Revised Version and the later American Standard Version. Today, the updated and revised Critical Text is the Greek manuscript basis for the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, and virtually every other modern English translation of the Bible.

Though the Critical Text was not without its faults, it has been accepted, on the whole, as being the most accurate in duplicating the original text of the New Testament. Modern biblical scholars have adjusted and adapted Westcott and Hort’s theories of translation, which can be summarized by nine critical rules of biblical interpretation, including the following:

  • The reading is less likely to be original if it shows a disposition to smooth away difficulties.
  • Readings are approved or rejected by reason of the quality, and not the number of supporting witnesses.
  • The preferred reading best explains the existence of other readings.
  • The preferred reading makes the best sense; that is, it best conforms to the grammar and is most congruous with the purport of the rest of the sentence and of the larger context.

With the discovery of new manuscript evidence, the Critical Text has been revised many times. Currently, the Nestle-Aland text (now in its twenty-eighth edition) is the critical text in common use, along with the Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies (UBS).

In summary, the Critical Text is an effort to discover the wording of the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament by comparing/contrasting all of the existing manuscripts and using logic and reason to determine the most likely original readings. While no human effort will ever produce an absolutely perfect copy of the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the Critical Text is very likely extremely close to what the New Testament authors wrote.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Albert Mohler Blog: “‘Get with the Program’ — The Church of England Votes to Ordain Women Bishops”

In his recent Blog Essay, “‘Get with the Program’ — The Church of England Votes to Ordain Women Bishops,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. responds to the Church of England’s consecration of women as bishops of the church. He writes,

“This is the kind of ‘compromise’ that pervades mainline liberal Protestantism. It shifts the church decisively to the left and calls for mutual respect. Conservatives are to be kindly shown the door. Ruth Gledhill of The Guardian [London], one of the most insightful observers of religion in Great Britain, recognized the plight of the evangelicals, though she celebrated the vote: ‘In the last 69 episcopal appointments, there have been evangelicals but not a single conservative one.’ In this context, ‘conservative’ means more concerned with doctrinal matters and opposed to a change in the church’s teachings on gender and human sexuality.”

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End Times Prophecy Headlines: July 16, 2014

End Times Prophecy Report

End Times Prophecy Report Headlines: Bible prophecy in Today's headlines. Bible prophecy in Today’s headlines.

End Times Prophecy Report
HEADLINES
July 16, 2014

CommentaryAnd OPINION

===INTERNATIONAL

CHINA: China warns USA to stay out of South China Sea area

RUSSIA: Mysterious crater appears in Siberia

ISRAEL: Hamas rejects peace offer, fires more rockets

TURKEY: Prime Minister accuses Israel of state terrorism

IRAQ: Trapped In Iraq

GAZA: Ceasefire In Gaza Lasts All Of Four Hours

===NATIONAL

PAT BUCHANAN: America could break up  – This meme seems to be starting to pick up steam in the media.

Congress Told of Possible Gap in Air Force’s Nuclear Strike Capability

The FDA Has Been Holding Up Sunscreen Technology For 12 Years

Paul Ryan: Immigration Bill dead this year – But how many can trust what Ryan says?

NASA: Humans are not alone – The Corporate Media and Government have been working for over 60 years to beat that message into the brains of Americans.

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Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14 ESV)

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 ESV)

What is the preaching of the cross? This…

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