Tag Archives: New Testament

Lost in Translation – Are our English Bibles accurate?

While the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings are most definitely inspired by God, the Translations we carry are not. Translation is an extremely hard task with so many variables, since it is done by human beings with their own thoughts, ideas, doctrines & biases. The mere fact that there are so many different English Translations should show us that there are issues with our translations that lead to erroneous doctrines and twisting of God’s Word. These additions, subtractions and changes whether done in purpose or not, effect how we read and perceive the Bible. It is of utter importance to look into these changes and be informed so that we get to know the unadulterated truth.

Foxe's_Book_of_Martyrs_-_Tyndale

We must all be thankful for the people who have spent their precious time, resources and sometimes done it under duress – so that we have a translation which we can read. In this sense, the following inspection is in no way an attempt to undermine the work of Translators but an undertaking, so that we are all informed of the less than perfect translations we are left with to learn from.

While this post will not provide an exhaustive list of all additions, subtractions and changes seen in our English Translations, I hope to provide some key flaws I have noted in my own personal study. You are most welcome to provide your findings – so that I can add them into this post!

Deu 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Pro 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Rev 22:18,19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

With dire warnings against Adding to and Subtracting from God’s Word, we should shudder about the fact that such additions, subtractions and changes still exist in our translations. These could be categorized under the below list:
1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
2) Parenthesis
3) Additions & Changes
3) Mistranslation & Bias

1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
The word “LORD” in capital letters can be seen in our English Translations over 6500 times, and each of those times the root Hebrew word is “יהוה” (Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay) or YHVH commonly known as the Tetragrammaton. While there is a Hebrew Word for the title “Lord” which is “אדני” Adonai, wherever our Bible Translations have “LORD” in CAPITALS, it is signifying God’s Divine name. In a few rare instances in the King James Version, God’s Divine Name is seen in it’s original form as “JEHOVAH” – a very close transliteration to the original Yehovah (Exo 6:3,Psa 83:18,Isa 12:2,Isa 26:4). Can God’s name, known as His Memorial Name(Hos 12:5), My Holy Name(Eze 39:7) & My Name(Isa 42:8, Jer 16:21) be substituted with a mere title such as Lord? One of the biggest changes seen in our translations is that all of them mask God’s one true name. (Read this article for further study)

But it does not stop there. It comes as a shock to many people to know that “Jesus” was not the name that Christ was addressed by, by any of His disciples or any contemporaries of His day. Even though the name Jesus is seen close to 1000 times in the New Testament translation, The Hebrew Name He was known by was “ישׁוּע” “Yeshua” the same name given to Moses’ aid commonly known as Joshua.  In two instances in the King James Version, Joshua is even referred to as Jesus (Acts 7:45, Heb 4:8) proving that the two names Jesus and Joshua are derived from the same name. But how did the name “Yeshua” end up being turned to “Jesus”? This is the cause of transliterations done from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to German to English. (Read this article for further study)

Almost all of the names we read in our English Translations are anglicized versions of the originals. Even though there are too many to point out, a few key names are mentioned below. Mary’s true name is “Miriam”(the same name as Moses’ Sister), John is “Yochanan”, Jude, Judas and Judah is “Yehudah”, James and Jacob is “Yaakov”, Matthew is “Mathityahu”, Simon is “Shi-mon”, Thomas is “Taome”, Saul is “Sha-ul”, Eve is “Chavah”, Isaac is “Yitzach”, Isaiah is “Yeshiyahu”, Solomon is “Sh-lomo” and so on. This begs the question – can we change or Anglicize names? If we can’t do it to our own names… how come we change Biblical names?

2) Parenthesis
Translators use words or phrases in certain instances to help readers understand verses. But many of these additions marked by bracket marks or italicized letters are thought by readers to be part of the original text. Thus the translators make certain decisions in the interpretation of Scripture which has a profound impact on readers perception and understanding which may not be accurate at certain times.
A) Mark 7:19 –  (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
One of the biggest cases against God’s Food Laws, is based on Mark 7:19 in which Christ is making a statement about the question in context – “Does one become unclean by eating with unwashed hands?”. The translators add “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)”, thereby making Christ an advocate of breaking God’s Food Laws. This insertion seen in translations such as ESV, NIV, NLT, NASB, NET, etc., gives a wrong understanding to the lay reader. (Read this article for further study)
B) Heb 8:7, Heb 8:13, Heb 9:1 – Covenant
The Word “Covenant” appears in the Letter to the Hebrews a number of times. But the translators have inserted this all important word in 3 places thereby changing the whole context of the Letter. The main question addressed in this Letter is the “Priesthood”(8:1), and not the Covenant. By inserting the word to where it does not exist, the translators thereby change the context of the priesthood towards the covenant, which has led to “Hebrews” being used as a proof text to say that “Old Covenant” is done away. There is no argument that when a certain line speaks about the first (as in priesthood), inserting the word “covenant”, changes the context to a completely different path. (Read this article for further study)

3) Additions & Changes
In some instances two sets of Manuscripts may have vast differences, which are carried to different English translations, making different versions of translations carry completely different verses. While some of these are rectified in newer editions, some ideas which were not communicated by the writers may end up and remain in our translations to this day.
A) Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes”

H.B. Swete's The Apocalypse of St. John... (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

Difference between Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes “H.B. Swete’s The Apocalypse of St. John… (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

In the conclusion of Revelation written by John, some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) say “Blessed are those who wash their robes”  while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “Blessed are those doing His Commands”. The change comes from two different sets of Manuscripts. While the Greek text of the two versions (as seen above) have minor differences, the messages that the two different versions give out are vastly contrasting. Long before the books were compiled to form “The New Testament,” Rev. 22:14 was quoted, as “Blessed are those doing His Commands”, by Tertullian (CE 208) and by Cyprian (CE 251).

B) 1John 5:7 – “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” or “For there are three that testify”
In some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) this verse says “For there are three that testify” while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The longer form that is central to Trinitarian Doctrine, is thought to have been added by Desiderius Erasmus in 1522, while they were absent from the first modern Greek critical text published by him in 1516.

C) Mark 16:9-20 – Missing from the oldest Greek Manuscripts
Even though the vast majority of later Greek Manuscripts carry verses 9-20 in the Gospel of Mark, two of the oldest and most respected manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, end at verse 8. While there is scholarly consensus on this addition, the question remains why it is still part of our translations. At the least there should be a note accompanied in our translations on this fact.

D) Mattew 28:19 – Missing from the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew
It is a known fact that Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew as mentioned by Irenaeus of Lyons in “Against Heresies 3:1:1” written in 180AD. These Hebrew Manuscripts have survived to this day, which was translated by George Howard – Professor of Religion, University of Georgia in 1995. These manuscripts do not contain the words “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” which is found in verse 19 of our Bible Translations. Instead the Hebrew Manuscripts merely go on from verse 18 to 20 saying “Go, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The command to baptize using a trinitarian creed seems to be missing in the Hebrew Manuscripts. This agrees with the Book of Acts where everyone is baptized in the name of Christ, whilst the trinitarian baptism creed is not mentioned anywhere(Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16). (Read this article for further study)

4) Mistranslation & Bias
There are many occurrences where a translator or set of translators have translated the same word in the Original Greek/Hebrew to different English Words. While this maybe helpful at times, it can also cause quite a lot of confusion, especially when the translation is changing the text to fit a certain idea/doctrine. While there certainly are hundreds if not thousands of such instances, I will point out the main ones I have noticed which makes a vast difference in understanding what we read. I invite you to add any other instances which you have found, so that this article gets improved.

A. H4150 – mô‛êd – Appointed time/place
Gen 1:14  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Lev 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. The fact is that Gen 1:14 should have been translated as “appointed time/Feast” and not “seasons”, which gives the idea of Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter. God’s Appointed Times or Feasts depend on the Sun & Moon, and it is fitting for this reason that God created the lights for the calculating of His appointments. (Read this article for further study)

B. H8577 – tannı̂ym – Sea Creatures, Whales, Dragons or Serpants
Gen 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Exo 7:9  When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
Deu 32:33  Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. Gen 1:21 should not be translated as Whales in any case, as the same word is translated Serpent and as Dragon. Vastly different to the idea which is given in our English translations pertaining the Creation account.

C. Lucifer or Heylel
We are all familiar with the name Lucifer, by which Satan is known in popular culture. But oddly enough the name “Lucifer” does not originate from the Hebrew Text, but from Latin. The Hebrew Haylel (meaning “Shining One”) seen in the Hebrew Manuscripts can only be seen in Isa 14:12. The using of Lucifer here in our translations makes a false claim that this is the name of the Adversary, when there is no mention of such in the Original Manuscripts.  (Read this article for further study)

D. H7585 – she’ôl – Hell or Grave
In some instances “she’ôl” is translated as Hell instead of Grave, when it is very clear that the correct translation should be Grave as in the Ground in burial, rather than a fiery place as communicated in popular media. (Read this article for further study)

E. Luke 23:43 and the placing of the Comma
We are all familiar with the famous words Christ spoke to the thief who believed on the cross. These words are also a central part of the theology that people go to heaven immediately when they die. Most Christians would not know that there are no punctuation marks in the Greek Manuscripts. So the placing of the Comma (marked in red) makes a vast difference to the meaning of the verse. If you place it in between “I say to you” and “today you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that the thief will be in paradise the same day. Alternatively, if you place the comma in between “I say to you today” and “you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that Christ is merely proclaiming that the thief will be in paradise. The placement of the comma in our English translations make a vast difference to the message derived from it. See both version below. Whichever version is right, it certainly shows the power of a simple punctuation mark.
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

F. Acts 12:4 – Passover or Easter
In the King James Version the word “pascha-G3957” is translated as “Easter” in Acts 12:4 – a word which is translated “Passover” everywhere else. The word “Easter” is a clear insertion which is foreign to the Greek text, and is not present in any other translation or passage of the Bible.

G. G4864 – sunagōgē – Synagogue
Jas 2:2 (KJV, NET, ESV, ISV) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Jas 2:2 (NIV) Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
Jas 2:2 (YLT, ASV) For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile clothing;
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Greek Manuscripts. The fact that the believers that James is writing to are attending Synagogue is skewed by some of the translations by replacing the word with “assembly”/”meeting”. While this particular verse is changed, the 50 odd other times “sunagōgē” is seen in the Greek text it has been left translated as “Synagogue”. It begs the question why the translators left the same word in Rev 2:9 & 3:9 as “Synagoge” when it was speaking of a “Synagogue of Satan”. Should it not have been translated as Assembly of Satan or Meeting of Satan to keep it consistent?

H. G5515 – chlōros – Pale Horse or Green Horse
The Famous verse in Revelations where Death comes riding a Pale Horse(6:8) might be not a Pale Horse, but a Green Horse – as the word used there is “chloros” seen translated as Green in Mar 6:39, Rev 8:7, 9:4. You may think what does it matter whether it is “Pale” or “Green”… but could it mean that Death comes through the Green Trees, Fruit, etc food that are eaten? This is why accurate translation is of such importance.

Conclusion
Don’t agree with any of the above? Found out something that you would like to share? Please do let us know, so that we may also learn. There are many things wrong with our translations, but let us also be happy that we are fortunate enough to have a copy of the Bible in our own languages, so that we can read it for ourselves. Let us be thankful to God and ask Him to show us His Truth that we may seek Him alone!

Was Pentecost instituted at the Upper Room or at Mount Sinai?

The day of Pentecost, celebrated throughout most Christian Congregations, is thought to have started with the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples gathered at the Upper Room. But what if Pentecost started almost 1500 years before? As Christians who were brought up being taught that Pentecost started in the upper Room, this may come as a shock. But the truth is that Pentecost had been celebrated for almost 1500 years before Christ, being instituted by YHVH at the Mount of Sinai.

As Christians, we need to become more like the “noble Bereans” (Acts 17:10,11) who searched the Scriptures to check what was told to them were true or not. So let us dig into the Scriptures for the evidence of a Pre-Christ Pentecost.

What does the word “Pentecost” mean?
The English word “Pentecost” is a direct transliteration of the Greek word “Pentekoste” and means “fiftieth” or more specifically “the fiftieth day” in Greek. Even though the meaning has been lost in our English translations of the Bible, a quick look at a dictionary/lexicon reveals the real meaning.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
G4005 – πεντηκοστή – pentēkoste – Pentecost = “the fiftieth day”
1) the second of the three great Jewish feasts, celebrated at Jerusalem yearly, the seventh week after the Passover, in grateful recognition of the completed harvest.

Pentecost in the New Testament writings
lexImageThere are 3 instances where the above word “G4005 – Pentekoste” appears in the New Testament. In the below verses, the 1st instance speaks of the disciple being gathered to the upper room when the “fiftieth day” had fully come. The second instance is of Paul who determines to go to Jerusalem by the “fiftieth day”. And the 3rd instance is of Paul’s words to the Ephesians explaining how he will stay at Ephesus until the “fiftieth day”.

And when the day of Pentecost(Pentekoste – the fiftieth day) was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Act 2:1)

For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost(Pentekoste – the fiftieth day). (Act 20:16)

But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost(Pentekoste – the fiftieth day). (1Co 16:8)

Why was this day called “The Fiftieth Day”?
If it was called the Fiftieth Day, there would have had to be a reason for it. Was it a Fiftieth day from a specific event? To know the answer, we must examine the Old Testament Scriptures, as well as the clues left for us in the New Testament.

A. The Fiftieth Day is instituted at Sinai
To understand what “Pentecost/the fiftieth day” really means, we must look at its origins, in the Old Testament.

Lev 23:15,16 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. Lev 23:21  And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

The above reference is part of the commandment given by God at Sinai regarding the “Feasts/Appointments of God” recorded in Leviticus, and speaks of the Appointment which comes 50 days from the day of “Firstfruits” which is the day after the Sabbath following “Passover“. (To know detailed information on this topic, please read this post). In it God commands to count “Seven Sabbaths” (Seven Weeks) from the day the firstfruit (sheaf of the wave offering) was brought to the temple – and the day after the Seventh Sabbath would be considered, a day of Assembly, where no monetary work would be done and would be proclaimed each year, forever.

Generally known as the Feast of Weeks in the Scriptures, it was a countdown of Seven Weeks/Sabbaths leading to 50 days. (7days x 7 +1 = 50days)
Exo 34:22  And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
Deu 16:10  And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
2Ch 8:13  Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.

It was also necessary for all males to come to Jerusalem for this day/event.
Deu 16:16  Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

B. Clues left in the Book of Acts by Luke, regarding the “Fiftieth day”
1. The completion of 50 days
In Acts 2:1, Luke specifically mentions the “completion of 50 days” saying “when the day of Pentecost was fully come“. This shows how the Disciple gathered in the upper room, as Pentecost/Fifty Days were completed.

2. A multitude of Jews living outside Judea and Jerusalem had gathered to Jerusalem
In Acts 2:5, Luke specifies that devout men from every nation under heaven had gathered to Jerusalem. Why were such a crowd gathered to Jerusalem at the time the disciples were in the upper room? It was no coincidence. God had specified that all males of His people must come to Jerusalem for the “Feast of Weeks”/”Fifty Days” or better known as “Pentecost” in the New Testament (Deut 16:16, Exo 23:14-17, 34:22,23).

3. Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost/The fiftieth day
As a devout Jew who was obedient to God’s Law, it is no surprise that Paul determined to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost(Act 20:16), as it was part of God’s Law to be present in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Contrary to popular belief, Paul was obedient to Mosaic Law as per James(Act 21:18-24) & Paul’s(Act 24:14) own testimony. He  was earnest to keep the feast days in Jerusalem according to Acts 18:21

4. A specified time span and a command not to leave Jerusalem
The disciples themselves were ordered by Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) not to leave Jerusalem(Acts 1:4) and Luke even specifies the proximity to the Fiftieth day by recording that Messiah was seen by the disciples for Forty days after His Resurrection(Acts 1:3). As Yeshua arose on the day of FirstFruits – and the counting of 50 days starts on Firstfruits, this meant that there were 10 days remaining to the feast of Pentecost.

Conclusion
Pentecost was instituted at Sinai by God, 1500 years before the giving of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the Upper Room. Pentecost, a Greek word turned into English hides the meaning of “Fifty days” behind it, which was the counting of fifty days according to the Law of God. Modern Christianity might not even know it, but they are keeping God’s Law of the “Fiftieth Day” when they meet together on Pentecost. How wonderful would it be if all Christians knew and understood that God’s Commandments, His Word endures forever without change – without a single jot or tittle being done away. And that His Feasts/Appointed Days do foreshadow the first and second coming of Messiah Yeshua. And that Pentecost, which was instituted in the Old Testament is part of these 7 appointed days set forth by God Himself.

The Gracious God of the Old Testament

All of us know that our Father in Heaven is a gracious God, who loves us and has abundant mercy towards us. But through years of conditioning, many Christians have come to view the God of the Old Testament as a completely different person – a harsh judge with a fiery character. Now, almost all Christians believe that God does not change. But how does one angry-godexplain this change in character? They turn to the idea of “Dispensationalism” – an idea which first reared it’s head in the 1800’s through the views of John Nelson Darby. So the idea is that God had not revealed his “Gracious character” in the Old Testament age – but that it was only revealed after Messiah Yeshua (Jesus’ true name). This idea is also closely connected to thoughts of a certain “Marcion of Sinope” who lived as far back as 145AD. He is the first person recorded to have made a distinction between the God of the Old Testament and the New. Labelled as a heretic at the time, sadly, his thoughts do live on in the Church today.

Introducing you to the Gracious God of the Old Testament!
God does not change. In fact His name “YHVH” (pronounced Yehovah) means “I was” that “I was”, “I am” that “I am”, “I will be” that “I will be”. It is in His character not to change. He is our everlasting Heavenly Father who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So why is it that Christians view God in a different light when it comes to the Old Testament? Is there evidence that He, in fact was, Gracious at the time of the Old Testament similar to how He is seen today? I welcome you to read the abundant evidence in the Scriptures – Meet Our Gracious, loving, merciful God who was the same in the time of the Old Testament!

God has always been Gracious
Gen 6:8  
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
2Ki 13:23  
And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
Exo 33:19
 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
Exo 33:17  And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
Gen 39:21  But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
2Sa 7:15  But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
2Sa 22:50,51 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.
1Ki 8:23  And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:

God has always revealed Himself as a Gracious God
Exo 22:27  For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
Exo 34:6,7 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Hos 2:19  And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
Jer 9:24  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
Isa 54:8  In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
Exo 20:6  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Jer 31:3  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 

His people have always known that He is a Gracious God
2Ch 30:9  For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.
Neh 9:17  And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
Neh 9:31  Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
Psa 86:15  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
Psa 103:8  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
Psa 111:4  He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
Psa 116:5  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
Psa 145:8,9  The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Joe 2:13  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Jon 4:2  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
Mic 7:18  Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
Psa 86:5  For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
Psa 36:7  How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
Psa 69:16  Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
Psa 130:7  Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Dan 9:18  O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
Dan 9:9  To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
Dan 9:4  And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
Lam 3:22,23 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Isa 63:7  I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.
1Ch 21:13  And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.
Mic 7:18  Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
Isa 30:19  For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
Psa 103:4  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Psa 119:132  Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
Psa 119:156  Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
Psa 51:1  Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Psa 84:11  For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
Num 14:18,19  The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
Deu 5:10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
1Ch 16:34  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. 
2Ch 5:13  It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;
2Ch 7:3  And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 138:2  I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
Psa 130:7  Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Psa 119:64  The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
Psa 108:4  For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.
Psa 107:31  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psa 103:11  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
Psa 94:18  When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.
Psa 86:5  For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

His Graciousness endures forever
Psa 52:1  Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.
Psa 103:17  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
Psa 107:1  O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 25:6  Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
Jer 33:11  The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.
Jer 9:24  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
Isa 54:8  In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
Isa 54:10  For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
Deu 7:9  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 
2Ch 20:21  And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. 
Ezr 3:11  And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Neh 13:22  And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. 
Psa 118:1  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

Conclusion
Why list down so many verses? Why emphasize the fact that God has always been a loving, merciful, gracious Father? Because there is a gap in the mind of today’s Christian, between the Old Testament and the New. There is no such thing as a change of Character in God, that has happened or revealed itself throughout the past. He has always been a Judge. He has always been a jealous God. He has always been a loving God. He has always been a merciful God. He has always been a gracious God. And His character will not change. He is YHVH – The Everlasting, Unchanging – Praise be to Him!

Can we eat all meats? Food sacrificed to idols and misunderstandings regarding 1Cor 10:25

As most of Paul’s words, another common misunderstanding of his writings is the fact that he gave permission to eat anything and everything – effectively making void God’s decree of what is to be eaten and not, written down in Leviticus Chapter 11.

So was he making the law void? If so, why does he say “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law“(Rom 3:3). Is he contradicting himself, or have we misunderstood his words; as Peter wrote “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction”(2Pe 3:15,16). Let us see whether Paul was telling the believers to “eat all meats” or whether we have misunderstood his writings.

The below study is broken down into 7 sections for your ease.
1. A personal connection to this misunderstood verse
2. What happened in Corinth after Paul left?
3. A historical background of Corinth and the environment Paul lived in
4. Examination of Paul’s words: where to start
5. A brief look at 1Cor 8:1 to 10:33 as one topic/theme
6. Now we finally come upon the verse in question 1Cor 10:25-33
7. Conclusion

1. A personal connection to this misunderstood verse
I was brought up in a traditional Christian family background where we were free to eat anything we liked. “Paul had given specific instructions that Christians could eat anything”. “We were free”. “Christ had died so that we could have these freedoms”. These were the doctrines I had learned at sunday school.

When I first understood the Scriptures in their entirety, many of my earlier beliefs were questioned. I struggled within myself to look at things afresh, without preconceived ideas or notions. Putting things into context, both historically and textually, I was met with one question after the other. As I progressed in my studies, proving myself wrong, and coming to the understanding that I had believed in un-scriptural teachings for so long –  one of the questions that kept coming up was “can I eat what I have been eating all this time? Bacon, prawns, cuttlefish, crab and the like?” Instantly, the answer would pop into my mind – Paul said “Whatsoever is sold in the meat market, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake”1Co 10:25. It couldn’t get clearer than that – Paul said we could eat anything! Right? I had to make sure I was right.

In my studies, I learned something obvious. Paul was writing “letters” to specific congregations. These letters were targeted at particular groups in history, with specific problems and questions. You can’t read a line off an epistle such as this, separate! It’s a letter which is meant to be read from beginning to end. Paul did not mark verse numbers and break his letter down into chapters. These were done much later in time, to make reference easier. So now I had to read each of these letters in one go. And that is what I did.

To further understand the Historical context of the Corinthian congregation, I turned to an expert. Namely Dr. Bruce Winter, who has written a book named “After Paul left Corinth”, which as the name suggests, explores the historical atmosphere of Corinth after Paul left the congregation following his stay with them for one and half years (Act 18:11). I would highly recommend every Christian who wants to know the true meaning of Paul’s words, to read this book.

2. What happened in Corinth after Paul left?
It is important to understand the historical context of the Roman Colony named Corinth, at the time Paul wrote this letter. Without understanding what they went through and what circumstances they lived in, how can we, who live 2000 years after them, hope to understand the true context of Paul’s words?

We know that Paul stayed at Corinth for one and a half years(Act 18:11), which would have been enough time to train and teach the believers in the ways of God. He also commends the congregation for still “following the traditions” that he passed on to them(1Cor 11:2). So the question we should be asking now is, why does Paul suddenly have to explain about eating food from the market? Did he not teach them about food for 1½yrs? Why hadn’t he passed on a tradition on what to do in this regard? Or had circumstances changed in Corinth, so that he needed to give them new instructions?

Even though Paul’s letter to Corinth has been preserved, we do not have the letter which the Corinth congregation sent to Paul. The believers had written to Paul about at least six main matters which they needed answers on, which were addressed by Paul in this letter(7:1, 7:25, 8:1, 14:1, 16:1, 16:12) as we see, Paul himself writing “Now concerning the things you wrote about”(1Co 7:1). Furthermore, Paul had received reports of the issues at Corinth, from other sources as well(1:11, 5:1). It is also important to note that this was not the first time he had written on such issues to Corinth, as he says “I wrote to you in my letter….”(1Co 5:9), which they had misunderstood previously(1Cor 5:10)

3. A historical background of Corinth and the environment Paul lived in
1. Jews had been expelled from Rome under the order of Claudius around 49AD (Act 18:2)

2. The imperial cult where emperors and dignitaries were deified, and regarded, as well as, worshiped to as gods were also on the rise[A]. The “gods on earth” mentioned by Paul, in reference to “so-called gods and lords” could be speaking of such worship (1Cor 8:5)

3. The Isthmian games, a festival of athletic and musical competitions in honour of the sea god poseidon, was also held in Isthmus of Corinth[B]. The president of the Games, was known to have given multiple civic dinners to all who had Roman citizenship [C]. The “right” mentioned in 1Cor 8:9, could very well be the right to eat at Poseidon’s sanctuary at Isthmia, which was open to all who had Roman Citizenship at Corinth.

sanctuary-students working

The Santuary of Poseidon at Isthmia (Click to learn about the excavations done by the Ohio State University

“Archeological evidence suggests that the games did not return to Isthmia until about 50 AD. At that time, the temple and the facilities for the games were repaired, and in 67 AD the Emperor Nero took part in the panhellenic games.” (It is more than possible that the Isthmian Games and the dinners at poseidon’s temple started after Paul left Corinth, requiring him to write to them on how to act accordingly in these changed circumstances.)

4. The city authorities controlled the marketplaces, and special provisions were made for Jews to obtain meats which were slaughtered according to their standards[D]. (The Corinthian congregation would have also had to buy the meat separated for the Jews as per regulations made in Acts 15:20,29).

5. There was no such religion called Christianity at the time of Paul. In fact, the name “Christian”, mentioned only 3 times in the New Testament (Act 11:26, 26:28, 1Pet 4:16) would have been a derogatory term, at the time, as we see it’s use being connected to shame by Peter (1Pet 4:16).

6. Even-though believers in Christ, had significant theological differences with Jews who did not believe in Christ, they were all regarded as part of Jews and one belief system, being called a sect (Act 24:5,14, 28:22).

4. Examination of Paul’s words: where to start
As I have mentioned above, it is important to read the whole of the 1st letter to the Corinthian congregation in one go, to really understand the instructions Paul is providing the Church of Corinth. But, as such a study might not be possible in a short post such as this, we will focus our attention to the the particular part of the letter in concern. Even though the verse in question is 1Cor 10:25, Paul starts addressing this single topic in 1Cor 8:1 and goes upto 10:33. As such, this whole part of the letter needs to be read without interruption, to understand the context of 1Cor 10:25.

5. A brief look at 1Cor 8:1 to 10:33 as one topic/theme
As we will see in this study, from 1Cor 8:1 onwards till 10:33, Paul addresses only one topic. And this topic is none other than, “food offered/sacrificed to idols”. In 1Cor 8:1, Paul starts by saying “Now concerning food offered to idols and this theme continues on till the end of chapter 10(besides a deviation in chapter 9) where he is still speaking on the same topic when he writes “But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it”(1Cor 10:28). Following is a summarized version of the 3 Chapters in concern: (Although reading through the complete section is advisable, the main/important sections are marked in red for quick reference) 

1Cor 8:1-3 Paul enters into the topic saying that we all have knowledge regarding things offered to idols. It is important to note that “abstaining from meat offered to idols” was one of the four key judgements that was commanded by the Jerusalem Council to be adhered by all believers (Acts 15:20,29). [please read this study for an in-depth understanding of these four main rulings made by James]. Paul reproves the Corinthians not to be puffed up by the things they know, but to act in love.

1Cor 8:4-5 Paul says that everyone of you know that an idol is nothing, as there are no other gods but ONE. He then goes onto mention that there are many who are known to be gods and lords on earth as well as heaven, possibly making reference to the “imperial cult” which worshiped the emperors as divine beings alongside the other idols which were worshiped, such as apollo, poseidon and aphrodite in Corinth.

1Cor 8:6-8 He then explains that there are no other gods other than the Father, and no other lords other than Christ for them. And that some do not possess this knowledge, being accustomed to idol worship and offering sacrifices in the past, still think eating meat at such a place would be equal to idol worship. (This was exactly what was happening at the Isthmian Games mentioned above in section 3. The President of the Isthmian Games was hosting large dinners at the temple complex of poseidon for the Roman citizens of Corinth. Even-though the food at these dinners were not offered to poseidon, eating at such a place could be seen as idol worship by new Christians because of their “conscience being weak” as per Paul’s words.)
1Cor 8:9 The “Liberty” or “Right” spoken in this verse, would have been the right Christians with Roman Citizenship at Corinth, received to participate at the civic dinners held in honor of the Isthmian Games. Participating at such an occasion would have been a highest honor one could receive in Corinth. Paul advises the people who had this right to be careful that they do not put other believers at risk.
1Cor 8:10 Paul speaks to the ones who had the “right” to participate at the civic dinners to be careful, as a new believer could easily see them at these idol temples, and think that participation in eating of meats offered to idols is an acceptable thing to do. We should especially note that Paul is not approving anyone of eating “meat offered to idols” as this goes against the ruling made by the Jerusalem Council in Act 15:20,29. He was simply saying that the Corinthians who had Roman citizenship should think twice before they participated at the Isthmian Game dinners (which were hosted at the idol temple of poseidon) as new believers could see them dining there, and think that it is acceptable to eat things that were offered to idols. The ones who had this “civic right” knew that the dinners hosted at the temple of poseidon did not have food offered to poseidon, but an outsider would not know this, and could be tempted to think participating in idol worship was acceptable.
1Cor 8:11-13 Paul ends the first part of his argument saying, that just because a seasoned believer understands what is right from wrong, he/she should be careful in how they guide their actions, as they could lead another to sin by what they do and how they act. He furthermore argues that if he is making a brother sin through his actions, he would rather eat nothing at all.
1Cor 9:1-27 Paul diverts for a moment from the subject at hand, to answer the ones who questions his authority (1Cor 9:3) explaining the service he is involved in, expecting nothing in return.
1Cor 10:1-11 Paul returns to the subject on hand, by giving a host of examples from the Old Testament Scriptures. He explains how God was with the children of Israel in the wilderness, the same way He is with them now. And how God was not pleased with many of the israelites because of their lusts, idolatry, fornication, provocation and murmuring. He explains that all of these situations came to pass as examples for them. 
1Cor 10:12,13 Paul advises the Corinthians to be careful of being arrogant to the extent where one thinks that they cannot fall into temptation. And that with temptation, God provides a path of escape.
1Cor 10:14 Paul makes a clear statement, coming back to the topic on hand “flee from idolatry”! basically have nothing to do with idolatry.
1Cor 10:15-18 Paul asks the Corinthians to judge his words, and see whether it is right, explaining how partakers of the wine and the bread become part of Christ. Similarly partakers of the sacrifices at the Jerusalem Temple become partakers of that Altar.
1Cor 10:19-21 He explains that an idol is nothing. And that the “sacrifices offered to such idols” are also nothing of concern. But the sacrifices made to these idols by Gentiles are done towards demons, and that a person cannot be a partaker of the body of Christ and also be a partaker of such, done towards demonic beings. 
1Cor 10:22 He points back at the example he gave earlier about the Children of Israel, by asking whether we are trying to provoke God, and attain the same fate as them?
1Cor 10:23-24 He points back at 1Cor 8:9 here, saying things that are “lawful” or received as a “right” (speaking of the right of dining at the Isthmian Games) are not always profitable or edifying in regards to the congregation and other believers. He appeals to the Corinthians asking them to do whatever they do, for the good of their brothers and sisters in the congregation.

6. Now we finally come upon the verse in question 1Cor 10:25-33

1Cor 10:25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles(meat market), that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 

In this study so far, we have seen that the topic in concern still remains “meat offered to idols”. As per section 3- point 4, we know that special provisions for meats were made at the markets of Corinth, as the Jews were known to not eat meat offered to idols, meat with blood or animals which were strangled to death. These were the exact requirements set forth by the Jerusalem Council in Act 15:20,29 for all gentile believers to follow. So it is safe to presume that believers in Christ would have also purchased meat from the same vendors who provided meat for the Jews. The Corinthian congregation would have had to buy meats which were specially separated and prepared for the Jews, as eating anything else would have been going against the words of James and the Jerusalem Council.

The fact that Paul who was with the Corinth congregation for 1½ yrs, and had given them many traditions that they were still adhering to(1Cor 11:2), had to now write to them saying “eat anything sold at the market, without question” can lead us to conclude that some circumstances had changed in Corinth. It is possible that the special provision for meat made for the Jews would have been revoked as the Romans were becoming agitated with them. Claudius had deported all Jews from Rome(Acts 18:2) and Gallio the deputy of Achaea was more than hostile towards Jews(Acts 18:16,17). From 40AD onwards there were tension building against the Jews, with uprisings happening in Judea in 46-48AD which were put down by the Roman authorities. All of these factors would have pushed authorities to draw back special provisions provided to the Jews such as what was provided in the meat markets.

If the special meat provision was revoked, the Corinthian Congregation would now need to have questioned Paul whether it would be acceptable to eat from the meat market, as they were unsure of the quality and origins of the meat they bought. The meat could have been brought to the meat markets from the temples, as we see such a case in 1Cor 10:28, where meat offered to idols were served at dinners.

Paul’s judgement was “to eat from the meat market, as their was no way to clearly know what was offered to idols or not”. But then he continues his discussion quoting Psalm 24:1 “For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof”, known to have been a blessing which was recited before meals by all Jews[E]. Then in 10:27,28 he asks the congregation to eat what is set before them if they go for a function hosted by a non-believer, but to not partake if the non-believer informs them that the food is in fact, what is offered to idols as a sacrifice. Paul writes to them saying, not to partake for the sake of the non-believer (possibly to also showcase to the non-believer that Christians do not partake in idol worship, thereby gaining a chance to speak to them about the gospel) and also partly because eating what is sacrificed to idols, knowingly, is a sinful act as per the Jerusalem Council judgement. He further explains in 10:29-33 that the refusal to consume meat that is offered to idols, is not only a personal issue, but something that effects other believers as discussed above under 1Cor 8:10. He ends his words saying whatever you do, to do it for the glory of God, not offending Jew, Gentile or the Church, seeking to save others in all that they do.

7. Conclusion
The letter written by Paul to the Corinthians, like any other letter, needs to be read from beginning to end without pause. Plucking a verse out of context, such as 1Cor 10:25 could be used to argue that eating any food is permissible – but this would not be the reality behind the words of Paul. Like many of his writings which are misunderstood, this verse needs to be examined in its historical and textual context, for us to know its true meaning. The historical background of the Isthmian Games and its dinners hosted at the temple of poseidon as well as the special meat market provisions made for the Jews, shed light on the background of the questions the Corinthians would have written to Paul about. Paul in return explains why believers should not engage themselves in idolatry and eating sacrifices made to idols, and how they should act upon the discontinuation of the specially separated meat in the Corinthian Market. Nowhere does the topic of “eating against God’s instructions” come to play, in this epistle to the Corinthians. The written instructions of Lev 11 was never revoked by Paul; he simply said to eat the meats at the Corinth Market, as there was no way to know whether a particular meat was offered to idols or not. If a believer got to know that a meat was in fact offered to an idol as a sacrifice, he/she was not to partake in such a thing, as per the ruling of the Jerusalem council.

References ———————————————————————————————
[A] Pseudo Julian Letters 198, 407Bff. Also read ‘Achaean Federal Imperial Cult, Part II; The Corinthian Church’, TynB 46.1 (1995) 169-78
[B] E.R. Gebhard, ‘The Isthmian Games and the Sanctuary of Poseidon in the Early Empire’, in T.E. Gregory ed., The Corinthia in the Roman Period, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supp.8 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1994), pp.78-94
[C] Plutarch Moralia 723A
[D] P.R. Trebilco, Jewish Communities in Asia Minor, SNTSMS 69 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p.17. See also Josephus – Antiquities of the Jews Book 14, Ch 10.24
[E] T. Ber. 4.1.

Examination of the term “First day of the Week” in the New Testament

One of the regular comments I hear about “Sabbath observance”, is that the 1st Century Church met on the “1st Day of the Week” and not on the “Sabbath”. Did Peter, Paul, James and the rest of the Disciples in the 1st Century change the day of worship from “The Sabbath” to “The 1st Day of the Week”? This is an examination of the Greek behind our English translations in an attempt to understand what “The 1st Day of the Week” meant in the Original Greek Manuscripts. I encourage all of you, who take the time to examine the following, to do your own research and test these conclusions.

Lev23

Lev 23:15&16 from the 1611 print of the King James Version of the Bible (Please note the highlighted words “Seven Sabbaths” & “Fifty Days”)

»The following examination will review Greek Words using the Strong’s Greek Concordance. It maybe slightly technical, but I have tried to keep it as simple as possible. The Strong’s Greek Concordance numbers will accompany the related word within brackets (eg. G4521) for each reviewed verse. The below examination will reveal that the phrase “First day of the Week” did not have the word “day” in the Greek Manuscripts. Accordingly, our examination will show, that this phrase should read “First Week” or “First of the Weeks”. The term “First Week” or “First of the Weeks” refer to the “First” of the seven “Weeks” in the 50 day count from Christ’s Resurrection(Firstfruits) to Pentecost. Our examinations will arrive at the conclusion, that wherever the New Testament reads “First day of the Week”, it actually meant “First Week” or “First of the Weeks” in Greek. And that it exclusively referred to the “First” of the seven “Weeks” in the 7 Week count towards the day of Pentecost as seen in Lev 23:15,16, Deut 16:9,10.«

There are only 8 verses overall, in the New Testament writings, with the term “First day of the Week”. It will be our objective to check each of these 8 verses to better understand what this phrase means. The verses are as follows:

Mat 28:1  In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mar 16:2  And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mar 16:9  Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Luk 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
Joh 20:1  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Joh 20:19  Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Act 20:7  And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
1Co 16:2  Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

What most people do not understand is that, all of the above verses are connected (in some way or the other) to some of the Feasts/Appointed times of God(Passover, Week of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits & Pentecost[50 days or Feast of Weeks]). Because of this, we need to have some background information that will help us better understand the above Scriptures before we start our examination.
A. Christ died on the day of Passover(Joh 18:28, 19:14, Mat 27:46-50, Mar 15:33-37, Luk 23:44-46). This is not a fixed day, such as “Friday” on our modern Calendars. Passover could fall on any day of the week, and depends solely on the Biblical Calendar(Lev 23:5). Read this post for more information
B. Passover eve starts off the days of Unleavened Bread which continues on for 7 days(Lev 23:6-8). The day following Passover, which is the 1st day of Unleavened Bread is always a “Special/High Sabbath” (Lev 23:7). It is known as a Special/High Sabbath, because it can fall on any day of the week, unlike the fixed 7th day Sabbath. (Joh 19:31) Read this post for more information
C. Christ’s resurrection happened on the day of Firstfruits. This is the day after the 7th day Sabbath which follows Passover(Mt 28:1-6, Mar 16:2-4, Luke 24:1-3, Joh 20:1,2). In other words, It is always the 1st Day of the week following Passover(Lev 23:10,11). Read this post for more information
D. Pentecost which means “50 days”, is counted from the Day of First Fruits. Pentecost will always fall after 50 days(7 weeks) from the Feast of Firstfruits (Lev 23:15,16, Deut 16:9,10) which is the day Christ rose from the Dead. Read this post for more information
E. For example, if Passover fell on the 4th Day(Wed) of the Week, the 5th Day(Thur) of that same week would be the 1st Day of unleavened bread which would be a special/high Sabbath. The 7th Day(Sat) of the week would be the regular fixed Sabbath. The next day, which is the 1st Day(Sun) of the next week will be the Day of Firstfruits. Counting 50 days from the Day of Firstfruits, brings us to the feast of Pentecost(exactly 7 weeks from the day of first fruits).

With the above information by our side, let’s start our examination. The 8 verses highlighted at the onset of this study has been broken down into 3 parts.

PART 1 – The “First day of the Week” and the Resurrection of Christ
Fact #1: Christ rose from the dead on the day of firstfruits(Sunday after Passover), which begins the 7 week (50 day) count towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks.
Fact #2: Out of the 6 instances/verses given below, none of them carry the word “day” in the Greek. This word is given in italics in most English Bible Translations, denoting that it is a word inserted by translators.
Fact #3: If the word “day” is dropped from all of these verses, it would read “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks”
Fact #4: In all of the below verses, (as Yeshua rose on the day of Firstfruits) the week that had begun or dawned, was in fact, “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks” towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, as it was a counting of 7 Weeks that led to Pentecost.
Mat 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first(G3391) day of the week(G4521), came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mar 16:2 
And very early in the morning the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mar 16:9 
Now when Jesus was risen early the first(G4413) day of the week(G4521), he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Luk 24:1 Now upon the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 
Joh 20:1 The first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521) cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 
Joh 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

G3391 – μία – mia – Irregular feminine of G1520; one or first: – a (certain), + agree, first, one, X other.
G3588 – ὁ, ἡ, τό – ho hē to – The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom): – the, this, that, one, he, she, it, etc.
G4413 – πρῶτος – prōtos – Contracted superlative of G4253; foremost (in time, place, order or importance): – before, beginning, best, chief (-est), first (of all), former.
G4521 – σάββατον – sabbaton – Of Hebrew origin [H7676]; the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se’nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: – sabbath (day), week.

PART 2 – The “First day of the Week” and the breaking of bread by the Disciples
Fact #1: Similar to the 6 verses highlighted in PART 1, Acts 20:7 does not carry the word “day”
Fact #2: Acts 20:6 highlights that Paul sailed from Phillipi amid* the days of unleavened bread, coming to troas in 5 days and dwelling there for 7 days, placing the breaking of bread comfortably in “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks” towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks.

Act 20:6  And we sailed away from Philippi after(G3326)* the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
Act 20:7  And upon the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

*G3326 – μετά – meta – A primary preposition (often used adverbially); properly denoting accompaniment; “amid” (local or causal); modified variously according to the case (genitive case association, or accusative case succession) with which it is joined; occupying an intermediate position between G575 or G1537 and G1519 or G4314; less intimate than G1722, and less close than G4862): – after (-ward),X that he again, against, among, X and, + follow, hence, hereafter, in, of, (up-) on, + our, X and setting, since, (un-) to, + together, when, with (+ -out). Often used in composition, in substantially the same relations of participation or proximity, and transfer or sequence.

PART 3 – The “First day of the Week” and the collection for the saints in Jerusalem
Fact #1: Similar to the verses highlighted in PART 1 & PART 2, 1Cor 16:2 does not carry the word “day”
Fact #2: The collection mentioned in this verse was to be taken to Jerusalem
Fact #3: Visiting Jerusalem 3 times a year for the feasts, including Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, was a Commandment given by God(Deut 16:16), and Paul was aware of it (Act 20:16)
Fact #4: Paul mentions that he will stay in Ephesus till Pentecost in 1Cor 16:8, which would mean that Pentecost/Feast of Weeks was at hand, connecting 1Cor 16 verse 2 with verse 8.
Fact #5: This would mean that Paul was asking the believers to gather the collection for the saints in Jerusalem in “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks” towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, rather than waiting to collect the offering till his arrival.
Fact #6: This could not have been a weekly collection as it was supposed to be sent to Jerusalem

1Cor 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
1Cor 16:2 Upon the first(G3391) day of the week(G4521) let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
1Cor 16:3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

Another Clue: Luke’s mention of the Second Sabbath after the First in Luk 6:1
Fact #1: The phrase “Second Sabbath after the First” makes little sense in the below verse. Understanding that Seven Weeks/Sabbaths were supposed to be numbered from Firstfruits till the Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, helps us understand this phrase better.
Fact #2: According to Luke, this event happened in the 2nd Week of 7 Weeks towards Pentecost
Fact #3: This is a clear indication that the numbering of “Weeks” leading upto Pentecost/Feast of Weeks was a well known fact by Scholars such as Luke, in the 1st Century, which was used as a marker to highlight a time of year
Fact #4: The timing given by Luke (2nd Week towards Pentecost) and the disciples walking through the corn fields also make absolute sense, as this would be the time when fields are beginning to ripen and are full with grain.

Luk 6:1  And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first(G1207)(G4521), that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

G1207 – δευτερόπρωτος – deuteroprōtos – From G1208 and G4413; second first, that is, (specifically) a designation of the Sabbath immediately after the Paschal week (being the second after Passover day, and the first of the seven Sabbaths intervening before Pentecost): – second . . . after the first.

Conclusion
The 8 verses that carry the phrase “First day of the Week” in the New Testament writings should ideally read “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks”. Each of the 8 instances/verses in question relate to the “time” (of counting seven weeks) that lead towards Pentecost. While “First day of the Week” misinterprets and misrepresents the New Testament accounts leading people to believe that “Sunday” replaced the “Sabbath” which was commanded by God and adhered to by Yeshua & His believers, it is my belief that the above evidence proves that no such change happened at all. The only verses that are used to promote “Sunday” observance instead of the “Sabbath”, are not speaking of the “First day of the Week”, but are speaking of the “First Week” leading upto Pentecost as a marker of time. I hope all of you do your own research whether this conclusion is true, so that all of us better understand the Scriptures leading people out of the massive confusion most bible translations have made over the years.

Questions
Q1. What about the “Lord’s Day”? Isn’t that “Sunday”? The only mention made of “The Lord’s Day” in the whole of the New Testament happens in Rev 1:10. There is no evidence to believe that this is “sunday”. If at all, the day that is referred here by John, could be the “Day of the Lord”(2Pet 3:10, 1Thes 5:2, Act 2:20, Mal 4:5, Joe 2:31) which is the day when He brings judgement at His return.
Q2. Can we be sure that just because the word “day” is not seen in the Greek, it is not insinuated,and should be read as the “First day of the Week”?  There are numerous examples in the New Testament where the word “day”(G2250 – ἡμέρα – hēmera) is used along with a number (eg. first day[Mar 14:12], third day[Joh 2:1], seventh day[Heb 4:4], eighth day[Luk 1:59], etc.). The fact is, it is not used even once in these 8 instances where it could have been easily used. If it was meant to be read as “First day of the Week” and not “First Week” or “First of the Weeks”, the writers could have easily included the word day in each of these verses.

Is Christ a Prophet like unto Moses?

In a time where there were no Gospels, let alone any of the letters that make up the New Testament, how did the early believers prove that Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) was indeed the promised Messiah? What did Peter, Paul and all the other apostles and believers use to proclaim the Salvation that God had gifted to men?

Moses or YeshuaIn  a previous study, we found out that Yeshua and all His disciples including Paul, referred  “the Old Testament” as “Scripture”. As the 1st Century Church did not have a New Testament (which came into being more than 3 centuries after Christ), they would have used the “Scriptures” (Old Testament as it is known today) to prove that He is the promised Messiah.

Today, we will study one of the main Prophecies used by the 1st Century Church to testify of Yeshua as the promised Messiah. This prophecy was given to the people of Israel by Moses, who proclaimed that YHVH (Our Heavenly Father’s name) will raise up a prophet like unto Moses in the future.

Deu 18:15-19 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

It is evident that the 1st Century believers understood that the Prophet spoken in the above verse was none other than Messiah Yeshua.

Act 3:22,23  For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Act 7:37  This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
Joh 5:46  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

While the statement done by Moses in Deut 18:15-19, is not clear on who the Prophet is exactly (as there have been many Prophets between Moses and Yeshua), we see a few significant key characteristics of the “Prophet” in the said passage which is quoted again in Act 3:22,23.

The key characteristics mentioned in Deut 18:18-19 are
1. God will raise up unto you(Israel) a Prophet
2. From your(Israel’s) midst, out of your(Israel’s) brethren
3. Like unto me(Moses)
4. God will put His words in this Prophet’s Mouth and he will speak everything that God commands
5. Whoever that does not listen to God’s Words that which this prophet will speak, will have to give account to God

Did Yeshua fit the above 5 characteristics? let’s see what the Bible reveals:

1. Yeshua referred to Himself as a Prophet. Even the people of His day, understood Yeshua was “The Prophet” prophesied by Moses in Deut 18:15-19
Mat 13:57  And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Luk 13:33  Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
Joh 6:14  Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
Joh 7:40  Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the prophet.

2. Yeshua was born amongst Jews (the tribe of Judah) which was the tribe, King David belonged to
Luk 1:69  And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
Joh 7:42  Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
Heb 7:14  For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
Rom 1:3  Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
2Ti 2:8  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
Rev 5:5  And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

3. Yeshua had the characteristics of Moses
A Mediator between God & Man – just like Moses
Deu 5:5  (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
1Ti 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Rejected by men, but exalted by God – just like Moses
Act 7:35  This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
Act 5:30,31  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Faithful to God – just like Moses
Heb 3:5,6  And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Worked mighty miracles – just like Moses
Deu 34:10,11  And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
Act 2:22
  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.

Turned God’s wrath away from destroying His people – just like Moses
Psa 106:23  Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.
1Th 1:10  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

Sealed the Covenant with Blood – just like Moses
Exo 24:8  And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
Heb 12:24  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Mat 26:28  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

People were baptized unto Him – just like Moses
1Co 10:2  And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
Gal 3:27  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
(*The words translated as unto and into in the above passages are the same – G1519 – εἰς – eis)

4. Yeshua spoke nothing of Himself, but only God’s Word and His commandments
Joh 8:26  I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
Joh 8:28  Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
Joh 12:49,50  For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
Joh 14:23,24  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
Joh 17:8  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Mat 19:17  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

5. Whoever that does not listen to God’s Words that which Yeshua has spoken, will have to give an account to God
Heb 2:3  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Heb 12:25  See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Heb 10:28,29  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Conclusion
Moses was one of the greatest prophets known in the Scriptures. The ten plagues, parting of the Red Sea, Water from a rock, were but a few of the miracles of God, done through him. But undoubtedly, the one thing that “Moses” is known for, is the bringing forth of God’s Commandments(Torah or Law) and teaching it to the people. And similarly, much of Yeshua’s ministry was spent teaching the true meaning of God’s Commandments given through Moses. Nowhere did Yeshua say that any of God’s Words given through Moses were done away(Luk 16:17, Mat 5:18). He was truly a Prophet like unto Moses, teaching and establishing God’s Word and its true meaning. Yeshua did not replace Moses, but fully taught what God had revealed through Moses.

In an age when Christianity does not want anything to do with Moses or God’s Law given through him, we must remember that Messiah himself was said to be a “Prophet like unto Moses” as quoted by Peter (Act 7:37) and taught by Paul (Act 26:22,23).

Could anyone in Old Testament times, take “an Eye for an Eye”?

One of the well known teachings done by Christ at the “Sermon on the Mount”, is the comparison of “Eye for an Eye” and “Turning the other cheek”(Mat 5:38-42). It is a known fact that the “Eye for an Eye” teaching comes from the Old Testament Scriptures. Some believe that Christ was abolishing Old Testament teachings while showing the New Testament way of Love, when He compared these 2 contradictory thoughts, or ways of living. Others see this as an example of how the 2 Covenants are different from each other. The question that is often asked is “Why did God command to take an eye for an eye in the Old Testament, whereas Christ changed it to turning ones cheek in the New Testament”? Is there a contradiction here? Could anyone take “An eye for an eye” in the Old Testament?

Mat 5:38-42  Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

In the following study, we will find out that a little understanding and context behind the Scriptures would help anyone see that the “Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a tooth” phrase was not a commandment for everyone, but a “measurement” used for punishment by “Judges”, appointed in the Old Testament. In other words, no Israelite could take the Law onto his/her own hand and “take an eye for an eye” – it was solely upto the Judges to make just judgement – “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Solomon JudgesA person who was wronged had to appear before a Judge (Such as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Solomon, etc.) with at least two witnesses, so that their case was heard. The Judge would then give the judgement according to the loss (An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, etc.) as per the legal system constituted by Moses according to the Word of God. Furthermore, we will see that “Turning ones cheek” which means “Refusing to take revenge” has also been a central theme of the Old Testament, which Yeshua(Jesus’s true name) clearly taught to everyone, through the “Word of God or Scripture“.

1. Why were these 2 ideas compared? The Context.
Much of the misunderstanding behind the phrase “Eye for eye” exists because of the comparison made by Yeshua. Because of this comparison, most Christians believe that anyone in the Old Testament was taught to take “An eye for an eye” while Christ changed it to “Turn the other cheek”. To really understand the reason why Christ compared these ideas, we only need to look at the context of the said passage. The “you have heard” – “but I say to you” teachings of Messiah start off at Mat 5:21. One needs to read only a few verses before, to understand the context of His teaching.

Mat 5:17-20  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

So what is the context of His teaching, of “you have heard” – “but I say to you”? Notice the “Scribes and the Pharisees” mentioned just before His teaching. Notice how He says that whoever breaks the least of the Commandments or “teach” men to break them will be least in God’s Kingdom. Yeshua was talking about the Scribes & Pharisees of His day, who had taught a perverted version of God’s Word/Scripture (Old Testament). We have studied all about the teachings of the Pharisees in depth, in a previous post. But it is sufficient to say that the Pharisees were going against God’s Word by their own “Traditions” also known as the “Oral Law”. Yeshua was teaching the crowds that had gathered around at His feet, that “they had heard” (from the teachers of their time – who were the Scribes and Pharisees) it being said “An eye for an eye”, but that the correct way was to “turn ones cheek” or in other words, “keep judgement unto God and God alone”.

2. Eye for an Eye – A measurement for the Judges – Not a commandment for people
Under the Law given by God through Moses, any and all Israelites who were wronged had to come before a judge to plead their case. No one could take the Law into their own hands, and “dish out” justice (Deut 1:16-18, 16:18,19, 25:1-3). Now let’s take a look at the verse in concern “Eye for an eye”, and check what the Old Testament writings say about it.

Exo 21:22-25  If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Deu 19:15-21  One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

In the above verses, we can clearly see that the person charged with some wrongdoing had to appear before the Judges, who made him/her pay as “Determined by the judges” after a trial. This was the legal system which was instituted by God, through Moses. Judges were instituted by God to judge His people (Exo 18:21, 1Chr 17:10), and they were supposed to be impartial(2Chr 19:5-7). One of the criteria that the judges had to adhere, which came straight from God’s mouth was “Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth”(Lev 24:20). In other words, the Judges had to judge righteously – nothing more, nothing less.

Anyone who says that “in Old Testament times, people took an eye for an eye” believe in an erroneous doctrine. The judgement of “Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” could never be put to power without the ruling of the judges, after due inquisition. It is the same today, with most of the justice systems in the world, where the common man cannot take action against wrongdoing. He/she has to come before a judge and plead his/her case, where the judge will give his judgement according to the Law of that country.

3. Evidence of the same justice system in force even in New Testament times
Even though the justice system put in to effect by Moses survived through to the time of the New Testament, the ruling sect such as the Pharisees broke this system frequently. The following instances are but a few places where we see that no one could be punished outside the Law of God, even in the time of the New Testament.

A. When the Pharisees were accusing Yeshua without a formal hearing, we see that Nicodemus (who was a pharisee himself) challenging the other Pharisees saying “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?“(Joh 7:51). This proves that no one could be punished before being judged, and being formally heard.

B. In a similar fashion, we see Paul challenging the Council which had brought him to be  judged, for hitting him for no reason saying “for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?”(Act 23:3). This shows that the person brought before the judges could not be punished in any way before proven guilty. In other words, It was contrary to the Law to punish someone without him/her being found guilty.

4. Turning the other cheek
Through this teaching (which challenged and rectified the teaching of the Pharisees) Yeshua taught the crowds that no one should retaliate or avenge oneself, when somebody wrongs them. God alone stands for Justice, and taking it upon oneself to enact justice has never been approved by God. In fact, God had communicated the same idea in the Old Testament as we see below.

Lev 19:18  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
Pro 20:22  Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
Pro 24:29  Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
Job 31:29,30  If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.
Pro 25:21  If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
Exo 23:4,5  If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

5. Righteous Judgement belongs to God Almighty
Righteous judgement can only be provided by Our Heavenly Father. This is why He said not to avenge anyone as vengeance is His alone. These are the same words quoted by Paul, in his letter to the Romans, as well as by the author of the Book of Hebrews.

Deu 32:35  To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
Rom 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Heb 10:30  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

We see that throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, people referred to God as the Judge, and kept off judgement to Him alone.

Jdg 11:27  Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.
Job 5:8 
I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
Gen 18:25 
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Psa 75:7  But God is the judge:
he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

King David has shown the same characteristic of “Turning the other cheek” on several occasions, where he refused to take vengeance, even though it was rightfully his. He knew that God was the ultimate judge, who judges between people to deliver true justice.

1Sa 24:12  The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
1Sa 26:23  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.
2Sa 16:11b,12 let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.

Additionally, even Joseph showed the same characteristic, when his brothers begged him for forgiveness for selling him into slavery. His words to them were “Fear not: for am I in the place of God?”(Gen 50:19),  Even though Joseph was wronged by his brothers, he did not avenge his brothers for their wrong, knowing that God is the judge of all creation.

6. Conclusion
The words of Yeshua recorded in Mat 5:38-42 are inherently connected to “Loving your Neighbor”(Mat 5:43). Even though the subject of “Loving the Neighbor and Hating the enemy” has been discussed in a previous post, it is important to note that “turning the other cheek” is part and parcel of “The Love thy Neighbor” commandment(Lev 19:18). In retrospect, whoever compares the Old Testament to the idea of “An eye for an eye” is utterly mistaken, as Yeshua’s message was directed at rectifying the wrong doctrines taught by the teachers of His day, such as the “Scribes & Pharisees”.

A person with a simple knowledge of the Old Testament would know that no one could take the Law on to their own hand, under the Mosaic Covenant. Anyone who was wronged by another, had to bring the case before the Judges who listened to both sides and judged with the measure of “Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. What Yeshua addressed was the wrong doctrine of applying “An eye for an eye”(which was a standard/measure given to the judges), to say that any person can avenge him/herself for whatever wrong caused against them. “Judgement”, just like in the Old Testament times, still belongs to God. We must trust Him and bring our petitions to Him, without trying to avenge anyone for the hurt they have caused us. This was the simple teaching that our Messiah brought us, not that it was from Himself, but it was God’s Word all along.