Tag Archives: Scripture

The Ten Words of God

After a long journey, the chosen people – the Children of Israel as well as a mixed multitude who had left Egypt(Exo 12:38) behind them, were finally at the foot of Sinai to listen to God speak. Through the Thunder, Lightning, thick cloud, Trumpet noises, smoke, fire and earthquakes God would descend onto Mount Sinai to make Himself heard to His people for the first time(Exo 19:16-20). Traditionally we have come to know what proceeded from the Mouth of God as “The Ten Commandments”. The foundation of the Mosaic Covenant as well as the New Covenant. But the Ten Commandments are known in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts by a different term. The Word for Commandment in Hebrew is Mitsvah (H4687 – מצוה – BDB Definition: commandment) while a different Hebrew word is used in conjunction with “Ten” when the Scriptures speak of the “Ten Commandments”.

Exo 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments(H1697-Dabar).
Deu 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments(H1697-Dabar); and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Deu 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments(H1697-Dabar), which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.

H1697 – דּבר – dâbâr – BDB Definition:
1) speech, word, speaking, thing
1a) speech
1b) saying, utterance
1c) word, words
1d) business, occupation, acts, matter, case, something, manner

The above verses literally say “Ten Words/Matters/Sayings” and not “Ten Commandments. This fact can be clearly seen by comparing the above to the introduction of the Ten Words in Exo 20:

Exo 20:1 And God spake all these words(H1697-Dabar), saying,

The reason this is significant is because there was no impulsion for anyone to do what He uttered. God was not forcing the people to Obey Him. A “Commandment” had the connotation of force, but God simply declared these Ten Matters as what really was important in His eyes. His people were given a choice to walk in the upright path, and He was showing the way. Before He came down to Sinai, God had already told Moses that He would show what He requires from His people.

Exo 19:5-9 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words(H1697-Dabar) which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak(H1696-Dabar) with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.

But does this mean the “Ten Words” are any less important? Not at all. These are the words God chose to declare first and foremost to His people. They encapsulated His Heart and what He expects from a Godly people. He would have continued and spoken the entirety of His instructions(Torah) known to us traditionally as the Law, stopping and delivering the rest to Moses only because the people were afraid.

Exo 20:19-22 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

Now the importance of the Ten Commandments – rather the “Ten Words” of God, has been discussed before in “Is Love, all that matters? – Was the Ten old Commandments overuled by Two new Commandments?” and about the connection of the Ten Words to the rest of the instructions in “Law of God & Law of Moses – 2 Laws or 1?

These Ten Words are the “Word of God” which proceeded straight out of the Mouth of God in the ears of all the people at the foot of Sinai. It is the Word that keeps us alive according to:

Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

And we see Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) equating “the Word of God” to the “Ten Words” and the Instructions(Torah) given through Moses.

Mar 7:9-13 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.  And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

In the above passage Christ compares the Word of God and the Traditions of the elders. He is very clearly saying that The Commandments of God are equated to the Word of God. And that Exo 20:12, Exo 21:17 & Lev 20:9 is emphatically the Word of God.

And again Yeshua equates the Law (Torah) to the Word of God.

Joh 10:34,35 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

He reiterates that the Word of God can neither be broken as well, calling the Law, “Scripture” in this instance.

So in Conclusion, we see that the Ten Commandments as it is traditionally known should ideally be called the “Ten Words/Sayings/Matters” of God and the same along with the rest of the Law/Instructions(Torah) was without a doubt known and proclaimed as the “Word of God” by Messiah Yeshua. Let us remember that these “Ten Words” were what God picked to share with His people first, showcasing the importance of abiding by them if we are in Covenant with our Creator.

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The Serpent, Dragon and the Seraphim

We have all read the story of Adam and Eve who was tricked by a snake. As fantastical as it sounds, as believers in the Scriptures we have faith in its accuracy. So what was this serpent’s appearance? Was it a normal snake or something more of a heavenly origin? I believe the scriptures contain a lot more secrets on this regard, than meets the eye. In this short study we will attempt to find answers to what could have been the origins of the Serpent and it’s connection to other parts of Scripture through consideration of the Original Hebrew and Greek words used in our Manuscripts. Let us begin:

1.Enchantment, Divination and the Serpent
The first time we see the “serpent” is in Gen 3:1

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

The Hebrew word for serpent “Nawkhawsh”(H5175) comes from “Nawkhash”(H5172) which is translated as “enchant” and “divine” in several places in the Scriptures(Gen 44:15, Lev 19:26, Deu 18:10, 2Ch 33:6).

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H5172 – נחשׁ – nâchash – naw-khash’ – A primitive root; properly to hiss, that is, whisper a (magic) spell; generally to prognosticate: – X certainly, divine, enchanter, (use) X enchantment, learn by experience, X indeed, diligently observe.

2.Dragon, Serpent and… Whale?
Before the appearance of the Serpent in Gen 3, we see the Hebrew word “Tanneen”. The interesting thing about this word is that it appears in the Scriptures 23 times, of which it is translated as “Whale” 3 times, as “Serpent” 3 times and as “Dragon” 17 times.

Gen 1:21 And God created great whales(H8577), 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 7:9,10 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(H8577). And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent(H8577).

Psa 91:13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon(H8577) shalt thou trample under feet.

Isa 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon(H8577)?

There is surely a correlation between “Tanneen” and “Nawkhash” as God tell Moses that the rod will become a “Nawkhash” in Exo 4:3 and says it will become a “Tanneen” in Exo 7:9. It is surely not a whale as we see it translated in Gen 1:21.

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H8577 – תּנּים תּנּין – tannı̂yn tannı̂ym – tan-neen’, tan-neem’ – (The second form used in Eze_29:3); intensive from the same as H8565; a marine or land monster, that is, sea serpent or jackal: – dragon, sea-monster, serpent, whale.

3.Fiery Serpent and the Seraphim
Out of the heavenly creatures mentioned in the Scriptures the “Saraph” seem to be connected to the word “Nawkhash” as well.

Num 21:6 And the LORD sent fiery(H8314) serpents(H5175) among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Num 21:8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a “fiery serpent(H8314)”, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

Deu 8:15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery(H8314) serpents(H5175), and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;

Isa 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims(H8314): each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

Isa 6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims(H8314) unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

Isa 14:29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent(H8314)(H5774).

Isa 30:6 The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent(H8314)(H5774), they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.

The Seraphim who are called by Isaiah to be heavenly beings with six wings is what God asks Moses to mold in the wilderness and lift it so that the people are healed. This emblem made of Brass was indeed a Serpent(Nawkhash) figure as mentioned in 2Kin 18:4.

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H8314 – שׂרף – śârâph – saw-rawf’ – From H8313; burning, that is, (figuratively) poisonous (serpent); specifically a saraph or symbolical creature (from their copper color): – fiery (serpent), seraph.
H5774 – עוּף – ‛ûph – oof – A primitive root; to cover (with wings or obscurity); hence (as denominative from H5775) to fly; also (by implication of dimness) to faint (from the darkness of swooning): – brandish, be (wax) faint, flee away, fly (away – ), X set, shine forth, weary.

4.Serpent, Dragon, Devil and Satan
The Serpent in the Garden is connected to a dragon and also identified as Devil(Accuser) and Satan(Adversary) clearly in the book of Revelations.

Isa 27:1 In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan(H3882) the piercing serpent(H5175), even leviathan(H3882) that crooked serpent(H5175); and he shall slay the dragon(H8577) that is in the sea.

Rev 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon(G1404); and the dragon(G1404) fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon(G1404) was cast out, that old serpent(G3789), called the Devil(G1228), and Satan(G4567), which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon(G1404), that old serpent(G3789), which is the Devil(G1228), and Satan(G4567), and bound him a thousand years,

In “that” day surely speaks of the great and dreadful “Day of the Lord”. Now a dragon from popular culture may not be the same as the Dragon mentioned in Scripture. But it could be a reptilian creature which is of significant size, far from the insignificant “snake” we have heard of.

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H3882 – לויתן – livyâthân – liv-yaw-thawn’ – From H3867; a wreathed animal, that is, a serpent (especially the crocodile or some other large sea monster); figuratively the constellation of the dragon; also as a symbol of Babylon: – leviathan, mourning.
G1404 – δράκων – drakōn – drak’-own – Probably from an alternate form of δέρκομαι derkomai (to look); a fabulous kind of serpent (perhaps as supposed to fascinate): – dragon.
G3789 – ὄφις – ophis – of’-is – Probably from G3700 (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake, figuratively (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan: – serpent.
G1228 – διάβολος – diabolos – dee-ab’-ol-os – From G1225; a traducer; specifically Satan (compare [H7854]): – false accuser, devil, slanderer.
G4567 – Σατανᾶς – Satanas – sat-an-as’ – Of Chaldee origin corresponding to G4566 (with the definite article affixed); the accuser, that is, the devil: – Satan.
H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’ – From H7853; an opponent; especially (with the article prefixed) Satan, the arch enemy of good: – adversary, Satan, withstand.

Conclusion
In almost all cultures some form of the serpent is visible in folklore or legend. From Apep and Meretseger in Egypt, Illuyanka of the Hittittes, Jörmungandr in Norse mythology, Typhon in Greek Mythology, Shesha in Hinduism, Mucalinda in Buddhism, Dragons/Sea Monsters of Europe and Asia, there are plenty of variations of the Serpent depicted in all forms in each culture.

What exactly did the serpent in Eden look like and what was it exactly? We may never know, unless God Himself reveals it to us. But it was surely something more than a simple talking Snake.

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is one that is often evoked in sermons, and like most other parables, does not have an explanation alongside it. Some presume that it could even be a real story which Christ shares. As we all know, the text often unravels new meaning each time we read it, and thus I would like to give you my understanding of this Parable.

First of all, I believe this is a Parable as Yeshua(Jesus’ Hebrew Name) never relates real stories other than Parables, unless it is from the Scriptures. The other reason to presume that this is a Parable, in fact comes from the text itself, as Christ relates several Parables to the Pharisees and Scribes in Chapter 15 and 16 before relating the parable in question to the same audience. It is most likely a Parable also because of the clues riddled in the story.

Let me know your thoughts and whether you agree, disagree or you have had a better interpretation or revelation.

Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
The Rich Man is adorned in attire that symbolises kingship/authority and he was blessed in everything living a rich life, just like the religious leaders of “the Kingdom/House of Judah” who was always blessed by God, living under His care.
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
The poor beggar named Lazarus (Greek transliteration of Eliezer) was full of sores and was laid at the gate signifying “the Kingdom/House of Israel” who was exiled only to live outside the promised land in uncleanness without the blessing of God. Also note that the dispersed/scattered Israelites were regarded unclean by the Pharisaic authority of the day (Joh 7:35).
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
The scattered people of the Kingdom/House of Israel desired to be part of God’s people but was barred and separated by the religious authority. We see many a time that Gentiles came to worship in Jerusalem (Joh 12:20, Act 8:27). If the House of Israel stood for the beggar, the Gentile nations who longed to be part of God’s People were signified by the Dogs. Christ had previously equated Gentile nations to dogs(Mar 7:26,27). So far the Parable speaks of the Blessed House of Judah with the House of Israel at its feet taking any blessings that they can possibly get. The gentile nations who longed to be blessed by God were trying to be as close to the House of Israel as they possibly could, and get anything that came their way.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Judgement comes to both the House of Israel and the House of Judah
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
The House of Israel ends up in Abraham’s Bosom* which means to be collected to their forefather Abraham(Mat 8:11), while the House of Judah is not collected back to their forefather.
Luk 16:24,25 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
The House of Judah will long to be with their forefather but it will be too late when they are in the grave, to change their fate.
Luk 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
The House of Judah longs to save their brethren who are alive and who will receive the same fate.
Luk 16:29,30 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Christ references himself as a person who goes into the world of the living from the dead, as the House of Judah thinks his brethren will change from evil by the word of such a person.
Luk 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
The change from evil/sin can be attained by the Word of God – His Law and the words of the Prophets, but people who don’t listen to the “Old Testament Scriptures” (as we know them) would not change even if a person comes alive from the dead.

Conclusion
The Parable which is directed at the Pharisees and Scribes were the ones who had Authority of the House of Judah. They were the Rich man of the day. The House of Israel scattered among the nations after the Assyrian Exile, were at the feet of the religious authority and were only getting crumbs because of their disgust of them. The gentile nations were far worse off. This religious authority may think that anything will change with these religious figures, if a person comes back from the dead and preaches repentance and coming back to God’s Word. But a person who does not adhere to Moses (The Five books of Moses known as Torah or the Law of Moses) and the Books of the Prophets would not change their minds because of anything. The Pharisees and Scribes were not keeping God’s Law at the time because of additions that they had made to Gods’ Word (also known as the Traditions of the Fathers/Elders or the Oral Law).

This was a clear rebuke against the religious authority of Yeshua’s day, to go back to God’s Word. How could they believe Yeshua, even when He comes back from the dead; as they don’t even adhere to God’s Law and the words of His Prophets?

*What is Abraham’s Bosom?
It is clear that Abraham’s Lap or Bosom was a generic term used in the 1st century and beyond to explain the dead being collected back to their forefathers, specifically Abraham. In Jewish writings it speaks of a Rabbi named Ada bar Ahava as following: “he was dwelling in the lap of our Patriach Avraham” (Talmud Kiddushin 72b). It was a place that righteous people go to.

Further Reading
The Parable of the prodigal son and the 2 Houses of Israel
Defining the Term “Hell”
The Betrothal, Divorce and Re-Betrothal of God’s people through Messiah
Has the church replaced israel

Can God, His Word or His Covenants change?

We live in a world that take words and promises lightly. A few generations back though, a person’s word would be invaluable. When a person makes a promise, it was for life. “As good as his/her word” had real meaning. Things have changed drastically in this past century – people say one thing, and do another. They say “yes” today and “no” tomorrow. In the time of Paul it was 3d80f50502b6aa9b2f2c361aafab2853incontestable that even a man-made promise could not be changed – as we see Paul explaining “Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto”(Gal 3:15).

“Words” & “Covenants” can be frail & brittle today, but is it the same with The Word of God? Can His Word change? Does He change? Does His Word ever go void? Can Scripture ever be annuled? Can it ever be added to? Can His Covenants change? Let’s see what Our Creator YHVH has to say about Himself and the Word that proceeds from Him.

 

God does not change

Mal 3:6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Num 23:19  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

1Sa 15:29  And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

Ecc 3:14  I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Isa 46:10  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Heb 1:11,12 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

 

God’s Word does not change

Psa 111:7,8 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.

Psa 119:89  For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Psa 119:160  Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Isa 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (also quoted by Peter in 1Pet 1:24,25)

Isa 55:10,11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Mat 5:18  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.

Luk 16:17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

Joh 10:35  If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Rom 11:29  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

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.

 

God’s Covenants do not change

Gen 9:16  And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. (Speaking of the Noahide Covenant)

Gen 17:7,8 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant)

Gen 17:19  And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant)

Exo 31:16,17 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant – specifically of the Sabbath as a sign of the Covenant)

Jdg 2:1  And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant) 

1Ch 16:15-18 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant & Mosaic Covenant)

Psa 89:28  My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. (speaking of the Davidic Covenant)

Psa 89:34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. (speaking of the Davidic Covenant)

Psa 105:8-10 He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: (Speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant & Mosaic Covenant)

Psa 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant) 

Lev 26:44,45  And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant)

Jer 33:20-26 Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them. (Speaking of the Davidic & Levitical Covenants)

Jer 31:35-37 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. (Speaking of the Mosaic Covenant) *please note that this proclamation follows right after the announcement of the New Covenant in Jer 31:31-34 also quoted in Heb 8:8-11

Gal 3:15-17 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (The Mosaic Covenant cannot abolish the Abrahamic Covenant which was before it. Here Apostle Paul is laying down an argument that if man-made covenants cannot be changed, how can God’s Covenants change? See relevant section of the study on the letter to the Galatians)

 

But what about the many times that God seems to change His Mind?
Even though we see many times God delays His prophecy/word/Judgement, never does it cease to be. What He says may get postponed by 15 years (in the case of Hezekiah – Isa 38:1-5) or even more than a 100 years (in the case of Nineveh, which was destroyed by the Babylonians) but it will surely come to pass. Some readers look at the Prophet Jonah with contempt for waiting outside the city to look at what would happen to the city. But the fact is, Jonah knew God’s Word will come to pass – God had stayed His hand for the time being because of the repentant. His Words though would come to pass in 612BC, a significant time after the prophet walked in its streets.

Examples of the unchanging Scriptures in the New Testament
While Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) Himself says that “Scripture cannot be broken“, this would have been a well known fact in the 1st Century. In Acts 10, as Peter saw the Vision of the Cloth filled with Animals, he proclaimed “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Many believers gloss over the fact that after the vision Peter “doubted in himself” what the vision was about. The reason was that what God had called unclean could never be called clean – in other words, His Word could not change. Later he would understand the true meaning of the Vision to be “not calling Gentile believers as common or unclean”(Acts 10:28).

Even though the letter to the Hebrews is generally used to say that the Mosaic covenant has been abolished (which is tackled in a separate study which you are able to read here), it is ironic that the author actually speaks of the opposite – where God’s Word stands unchanged even today. Consider Heb 7:14 & 8:4 where the author makes the case that Christ could only be a High Priest in the Heavenly Temple and not on earth as the Law does not speak of the tribe of Judah (of which He came from), to have anything to do with the priesthood. This shows that the Law is still unchanged and binding even towards Messiah Yeshua.

Conclusion
Everything around us changes – but Our Creator & Heavenly Father is the one constant which we can depend on. Neither He, nor His Word, nor His Promises, nor His Covenants can ever change. He relents, but His judgements stand. If He proclaims it, the Word which goes out of His mouth cannot be made void. May He be blessed, as He is the only true God, who we can put our trust upon. The never ending. Unchanging. God of Heaven & Earth – Yehovah Eloheem!

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!

What did Christ, His Disciples & Paul consider as “Scripture”?

Sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? What was considered as Scripture in the 1st century AD? One would say “Obviously the Bible”. But hang on! Did anyone inclusive of Paul, carry our Bible? Did they carry a Bible at all? Did Paul consider his own writings as Scripture? Did he read or ever hold his letters which were written to specific assemblies in different cities, as Scripture? Let’s check what our Bibles say about the matter.

The Bible – A Brief History
Our current Bibles are composed of 2 sections divided as The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament in our English Translation consist of 39 books, while the new contains 27.

The New Testament containing 27 books/letters which were first put together in 367, by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and is said to have been accepted by the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa in 393AD and again accepted by the Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. The oldest Manuscripts of the New Testament are preserved in Greek – the main language of the 1st Century, while the original works such as Matthew’s Gospel is said to have been written in Hebrew according to Papias.

While there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Old Testament Canon was fixed, some scholars argue that it was done in the time of the Hasmonean dynasty (140BC – 116BC). The Old Testament” as we call it, was completely written in Hebrew and consisted of three divisions – The Torah (5 Books of Moses i.e. Genesis to Deuteronomy), The Nevi’im (Prophets) & The Ketuvim (Writings/Psalms).

The Old Testament divisions can be seen mentioned in the verses below

Luk 24:27  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luk 24:44  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Joh 1:45  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Act 26:22,23  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Act 28:23  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

yeshua_scrollThe phrases “Moses”, “Law” or “Law of Moses” in the New Testament, denotes the first 5 Books of the Old Testament which were written by Moses. “Prophets” denotes all the books written by the Prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Obadiah, Daniel, etc. The Psalms and the rest of the writings together with “Moses” and “Prophets” put together, made up the Old Testament in the 1st Century AD.

1) Law (also known as Moses, Law of Moses or Law) wherever you see these terms referred in the New Testament writing, it means the first 5 Books of the Bible which were written by Moses – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Mar 12:26, Luk 2:22, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, 5:45, 7:23, Act 6:11, 13:15,39, 15:5, 21:21, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, 1Cor 9:9, 2Cor 3:15, Heb 10:28, Rom 3:21
2) Prophets which contains all the Major and Minor Prophets – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, Act 7:42, 13:15,40, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, Rom 3:21
3) Psalms (also known as the Writings) which contains the Book of Psalms and the rest of the writings – Luk 20:42, 24:44, Act 1:20

The Format of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
In our minds whenever we read the New Testament writings, we see everyone opening books and reading from bound books that we are familiar with. But the truth is that there were no bound books at the time. Printing would be introduced 1500 years later. So what was the format of the Scriptures they had? All of the writings were copied on Scrolls made of parchment/Animal skin and rolled and kept. We can see an instance of this in Luke 4:17.

Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened(g380) the book(g975), he found the place where it was written,

scribe1In the above verse “opened” should be translated as “unrolled” according to the Greek word used there (G380 – ἀναπτύσσω – anaptussō – Thayer’s Greek Definition: to unroll). Furthermore, the word used for “book” can mean a scroll as the same word (G975 – βιβλίον – biblion)  is seen again in Rev 6:14 translated as Scroll. These scrolls were copied by hand, with the utmost care and it is said that it would take a scribe a whole year and the skins of a whole herd of sheep to create one copy of the 5 books of Moses.

The Availability of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
Just as most of us imagine Christ, the disciples and even Paul reading a bound Bible, when in fact they were reading rolled up Scrolls – some imagine that the early Christians carried their own copy of the Scriptures. It is very unlikely that the early believers even owned a copy of the Scriptures, as it was quite costly. Only the Synagogues in each of the cities would have a copy that could be read on the Sabbath day when the people assembled together.  

Christ considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) speaks of no other writing other than the books of Moses, Prophets & Writings/Psalms as “Scripture” (Mat 21:42, Mat 22:29, Mat 26:54,56,  Mar 12:10,24, Mar 14:49, Luk 4:21, Joh 5:39, Joh 7:38, Joh 10:35, Joh 13:18, Joh 17:12)

The Gospel writers and the disciples considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Gospel writers Mark, Luke, John, other disciples, James and even Peter refers to the Old Testament as “Scripture” (Mar 15:28, Luk 24:27, Luk 24:32, Luk 24:45, Joh 2:22, Joh 19:24, Joh 19:28, Joh 19:36,37, Joh 20:9, Act 1:16, Act 8:32,35, Act 17:2,11, Act 18:24,28, Jas 2:8, Jas 2:23, Jas 4:5, 1Pet 2:6, 2Pet 1:20, 2Pet 3:16)

Paul considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
In so many instances Paul refers to the Old Testament calling it “The Scriptures”. (Rom 1:2, Rom 4:3, Rom 9:17, Rom 10:11, Rom 11:2, Rom 16:26, 1Cor 15:3,4, Gal 3:8,22, Gal 4:30, 1Tim 5:18, 2Tim 3:16). Out of this list, of special concern is a beloved verse which almost every Christian knows by heart.

2Ti 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Paul tells his beloved son Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures from the time he was a child. The Holy Scripture mentioned here could only be what we refer as the Old Testament. Paul adds to his words explaining that all of the Scriptures are given by the inspiration of God for teaching, as proof, to correct and to train in righteousness. While most of us read 2Tim 3:16 believing it is speaking of our Bibles when it says “Scripture”, it is clear that Paul is referring to the Scriptures that they had. The Scripture which Timothy was familiar with from the time he was a child. What we refer to as the Old Testament.

Today’s view of the Old Testament and the New Testament
OT NTMany Christians see the Old Testament to have been given only for the Jews/Israel while the New Testament to be given to the Gentile/Christian. While there was no New Testament in the hands of Christ, His disciples or Paul – they would have never imagined of a congregation that believes in Messiah while giving the least bit of attention to the Old Testament – the “Holy Scriptures” in their eyes. The man-made division of “Old Testament” & “New Testament”, has brought only division to the Christian body as a whole. Many denominations have made the True Scripture, an enemy of the Christian. They have turned its oulook into a curse. Something which is “Old” and done away. Only if more Christians would pay attention to what the writers of the New Testament say, in their original context. Today’s Christian is not being built on the foundation of the True Scripture – as most new believers are told to even skip the Old Testament and start with the New. We forget that the Bereans who were called noble, turned to Scripture when it came to checking Paul’s words. If only all of us Christians today, turned to the Scriptures to check whether all of the doctrines taught to us by our pastors, teachers and denominations agreed with Scripture!

Conclusion
While all the proof in the New Testament writings point towards the “Old Testament” being referred to exclusively as Scripture, many Christians today give the “Scriptures” of our Messiah, His Disciples and even Paul, step-motherly treatment. Some are engrossed so much in the New Testament, that they see no reason to read the “Holy Scriptures” as Paul mentioned them. The New Testament is looked upon to provide teaching, proof, correction and training, while the Old Testament is seen as an abolished book today. Paul could not have been referring to His own writings as “Scripture”, as these letters were written to specific individuals and congregations, tackling specific issues distinct to those individuals/congregations. For example, Paul’s letter to the Roman Congregation, was sent to Rome and not Corinth, Colosse, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. His letter to Timothy was written specifically to Timothy and no one else.

Furthermore, these individual letters that constitute the New Testament were put together and agreed upon as canonical only in the late 4th Century. The New Testament writings are a necessary part of a Christians life, as it reveals to us about Christ, His disciples and their teachings. But we should not forget that what they considered as “Scripture” was nothing else other than what we call the Old Testament books of Moses, the Prophets & the Psalms. It is time that Christians wake up and give the proper place that “God’s Word” the “Holy Scriptures” deserve!

Was God’s Law blotted out and nailed to the cross? Misunderstandings regarding Col 2:11-17

Paul’s letter to the Colossians contain one, if not the most famous of verses used to prove that God’s Law is done away with Christ’s death. While many Christians quote this passage, not many of us pay proper attention to the words used by Paul – which ultimately leads us to read our own doctrines into the text. Peter was right to warn believers to be careful when reading Paul’s Letters, as many were distorting his words in their day(2 Pet 3:15,16). Nothing much has changed, as the letters and words of this Misunderstood Apostle are still unwittingly distorted by many. Let’s try to put our preconceived ideas and beliefs away so that we can approach the text afresh, and see the true meaning of Paul’s words to the Colossians.

This study is broken down to the following areas
1. Introduction (Col 1:1-2:9)
2. The meaning of Principalities and Powers (Col 1:16, 2:10,15)
3. Circumcision made without hands (Col 2:11)
4. Buried with Him in Baptism (Col 2:12)
5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances (Col 2:14)
6. Let no one judge you (Col 2:16)
7. A shadow of things to come (Col 2:17)
8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men (Col 2:18-23)
9. Conclusion

Abraxas. Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

Abraxas.
Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

1. Introduction
The congregation at Colosse was most probably established and had not even seen Paul face to face(Col 2:1). Paul greets them and thanks God for their faith, telling the Colossians that his prayer is for them to increase in the knowledge and understanding of God. He then thanks God for making them part of His kingdom through Christ. Paul explains that everything in Heaven and on Earth were created through Him, whether it be thrones, dominions, principalities or powers. (This proclamation of authority whether it be in heaven or earth, being under Messiah will be an important thought to consider when we come to the verses in question, as the letter deals with who has authority over the Colossian believers) He goes onto explain that Christ is above all things, being made the head of the body of believers. His blood made peace, reconciling everything to God. Even though the Colossians were aliens before God, when they were doing things contrary to God, Messiah had reconciled them to God through His blood. Paul then explains his ministry to the gentiles of revealing Christ in each and everyone who believes, which was a mystery revealed in their day.

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

In the second chapter Paul once again speaks of the mystery of God, and how wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Him. He asks them to beware of being deceived by persuasive language – in context of Knowledge and wisdom. It is apparent reading the letter thus far, that the Colossians were being persuaded by some party or parties in the realm of wisdom and knowledge. There is a strong probability that these were Gnostics who believed in “Hidden Knowledge” (Gnostikos in Greek meant “Having Knowledge”) – they were known to shun the physical/material world and wanted to embrace the spiritual world. Gnosticism could also be likened unto the “traditions of the elders” which practiced justification through certain works. Gnostics believed that gnosis (knowledge, enlightenment or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence and diligently searching for knowledge/wisdom by helping others. Outwardly, it looked like a good way of life, but inwardly it did nothing to help believers, being just man-made ideas. This will be apparent when we reach the end of Chapter 2.

Paul advises them to be rooted and built up in Christ, and be steadfast & established in the faith they had received. In Col 2:8, Paul once again tells them to beware of philosophy, empty delusions which are according to human traditions and principle of the world. And then proclaims once again that all “principality and power” is under him, as the fullness of divinity resides in Him. In other words, their is no higher authority than the savior and lord of our lives, Yeshua the Messiah.

2. Principalities and Powers
At this juncture, before proceeding to verse 11, we must identify the true meaning of “Principalities and Powers”. The usual explanation is that these are spiritual entities which had authority over humans, before Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Let’s test this against the writings. Paul uses this phrasing 3 times in the letter to the Colossians, denoting a certain importance of said phrase to the point he is trying to make.

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Principalities – Strong’s Dictionary – G746 – ar-khay’ – From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank): – beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

Powers – Strong’s Dictionary – G1849 – ex-oo-see’-ah – From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: – authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

The use of the phrase “Principalities and Powers” in the New Testament 
Luk 12:11  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates(G746), and powers(G1489), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 20:20  And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power(G746) and authority(G1489) of the governor.
1Co 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule(G746) and all authority(G1489) and power.
Eph 1:21  Far above all principality(G746), and power(G1489), and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities(G746), and powers(G1489)in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities(G746), against powers(G1489), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Tit 3:1  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities(G746), and powers(G1489), to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

These two Greek words “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” are mostly used for rule/authority/governance in an earthly sense, as in magistrates, governors, rulers, etc. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul uses the same words to speak of spiritual rule and authority, but he clearly mentions “high places” or “heavenly places” to explain that he is not speaking of it in an earthly sense. Luk 12 and Titus 3 are clearly speaking of earthly rulers and authorities using the same Greek words. Looking at the above evidence, it is most likely that Paul was speaking of an earthly “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” in the letter to the Colossians. Colossians 1:16 further explains the fact that he was speaking of earthly rulers and authorities as well as the heavenly.

3. Circumcision made without hands
Returning to the Letter to the Colossians, we see Paul suddenly addressing the topic of circumcision. One of the main concerns in the 1st century was whether gentile believers in the faith should be circumcised or not before they were accepted as believers – in other words, some were saying that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised to be saved. The 15th Chapter of Acts shows the conflict and the resolution created by the Jerusalem Council. Many of Paul’s letters directly tackle this idea of “justification by Works” – in other words “being saved because of becoming circumcised”. And it is the same argument that Paul brings to the Colossians. Just after explaining that Christ is above all so called rulers and authorities, he explains that the Colossians have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands – The circumcision of the heart – both spoken by Paul(Rom 2:29) and God Himslef(Deut 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4) in the Old Testament Scriptures. Circumcision of the heart was repentance and turning from your iniquities towards God.

4. Buried with Him in Baptism
After explaining that they have received “salvation” (putting off the body of sins of the flesh) without physical circumcision, Paul then turns to baptism. Explaining that they have died to the old life in baptism (burial in water) and being resurrected through the faith in God, Paul writes that they were dead in sin and uncircumcision – but have now been forgiven their sins.

It is important to note that the Jewish Rabbinic authorities believe a proselyte(convert to Judaism) must engage in Circumcision and Baptism before they are regarded part of the congregation ([A] Refer discussion by Maimonides on Yevamot 47a-b). This is still considered mandatory and is in practice even today. It is proven through archaeology that there were ritual baths (special places for baptism) even before the time of Christ, so it is safe to say Jewish Proselytes were circumcised and baptized before they were accepted into the community, even in the 1st Century. It should now be apparent to you why Paul discusses Circumcision and Baptism in his letter to the Colossians. These were new converts into the faith, and most definitely, the rulers/authorities wanted them to adhere to the customs/traditions of their day. In the eyes of these “principalities” and “powers” a proselyte was to be physically circumcised and then baptized before they were part of the faith. The Jerusalem Council had announced this was not necessary to become part of the congregation as one is saved only by faith and the grace of God. Circumcision was never a requirement to approach God. In fact it was a commandment for parents, as they are the one who circumcised a child on the 8th day.

Paul explained that the Colossians had been circumcised with a circumcision done without hands, and with baptism to Christ – so that they did not need any further acts to be done in accordance to the principalities and powers of their day.

5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances
As we step into the main verses in question, the context leading to this verse becomes all the more important. Christians are quick to say that the phrase “Handwriting of Ordinances” refers to the “Law of God” or “Law of Moses” or “The Old Testament Scriptures”. Nothing can be further than the truth.

Handwriting – G5498 – khi-rog’-raf-on – Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)): – handwriting. This word can only be found in Col 2:14

Ordinances – G1378 – dog’-mah – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance.
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

The phrase “handwriting of Ordinances” is only seen in the letter to the Colossians. The word “Ordinances” (Dogmah) is seen 5 times in the New Testament and 3 of those occasions clearly refer to “man-made Decrees”.

Eph 2:15 stands out amongst them, as Paul connected it to the “middle wall of partition” (also known as the soreg). While God had given Commandments and His Law, the word Dogmah stood for man-made Decrees/laws/ordinances. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree”(dogmah) in his letter. These “ordinances” which were prescribed by the principalities and powers, were hostile to the worship of God, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” (as per their definition) from worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12).

Coming back to Col 2:14, we see that which is blotted out and nailed to the cross is “Dogmah” or man-made decrees, and not any parts of the Scriptures. Just as Paul explains in Eph 2:15, these were hostile towards us. He repeats those words to the Colossians by saying that those decrees were against and opposed to believers of God. In the same breadth Paul explains these rulers and people of authority(principalities and powers) who create and subject others to these man-made decrees had been made powerless by Christ, as He alone held authority over all.

6. Let no one judge you
One of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the New Testament, this verse is commonly used as a proof text to say that the Sabbath and feast days that God called “His Feasts” are now discarded after Christ. Let’s look at the verse a little closer.

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Paul writes that “therefore”, hinting at the so called rulers & authorities (principalities and powers) who are powerless because of the true person who has authority over all of God’s children; For this reason the Colossians should not let anyone judge/condemn them. They were under a higher authority. But what were these Principalities and powers condemning the Colossians for? This verse can be read in the following ways:

A) Let no man therefore judge you FOR NOT ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.
B) Let no man therefore judge you FOR ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.

The majority of Christians understand this verse to be read according to “reading A” in which Paul is asking the Colossians to let no one judge them for not keeping God’s Law. The inverse maybe true as well. As per “reading B”, Paul could also be asking them to not let anyone judge them for adhering to God’s Law.

According to the context, it is clear that these gentile believers were being influenced by the Jewish authorities of their day in the realm of adherence to their man-made laws and authority. Paul had already explained that these “dogmah” ordinances/man-made laws were done away in Christ. It is likely that these “principalities and powers” were judging these new Gentile believers for keeping Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons and Sabbath days without proper adherence to their laws which were made for proselytes. In their eyes, these proselytes were keeping the ways of God before being officially accepted into the fold. They were acting outside their authority, and that was not acceptable.

7. A shadow of things to come
Paul concludes the advice about not letting anyone judge them by saying that the Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons & Sabbaths “are” a shadow of things to come. Note that Paul did not say “were” but “are” indicating they are still a shadow of things to come. The next part of the verse is written “But the body is of Christ”, which can also be translated as “and the body is of Christ”. However it is translated, it is apparent that Paul is saying that the Shadow is cast by a body which is Christ. Meaning that these Laws “are” a shadow of the coming Christ and His Kingdom.

8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men
Paul completes his advise on coming under authority/rule of men and obeying their man made laws/doctrines/commandments by speaking of the Gnostic influence on the Colossians once again. We saw that he had mentioned the pursuit of wisdom at the start of the second chapter possibly indicating influence by Gnostics. Now paul speaks of asceticism (a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals), worship/religion of angels, pride in wisdom and intrusion into the unknown. These were all Gnostic ideas/teachings, making it obvious that one of the main parties trying to influence the Colossian believers were indeed the Gnostics.

Paul reminds them to be firmly connected to Christ, the head of authority, who nourishes all believers in faith. And also to not be in subjection to principles of the world or doctrines/commands of men that say do not touch, taste, handle – which appear to be wise, but is self-made religion and asceticism which neglect the body, but do nothing to stop the indulgences of the flesh. In other words, they seem to be spiritual commands but are man-made ideas which does nothing to bring you closer to God. Some see these verses to be speaking of God’s Law, such as the food laws… but Paul is very clear in saying that these are “commandments and doctrines of men”.

9. Conclusion
The Colossians were a group of new believers who were being influenced and criticized by certain authorities. These “principalities and powers” as Paul put them, were in places of power but had no authority over the Children of God, as Christ was the head of the body. Through His sacrifice, He had put those man-made ordinances/doctrines to shame by triumphing over them. There was no more barrier for Gentiles to approach God in repentance. These proselytes need not be subject to the ways of man anymore. The second influencing factor were the Gnostic thoughts in their day. These ideas rejected the earthly life altogether for Spiritual knowledge and wisdom, in worshiping angels and in asceticism.

The Colossians who were most likely being pushed, bullied and rejected by both Jews who held onto the “Traditions of the elders” and the Gentiles who were peddling Gnostic thought, were being influenced in the middle – to which Paul writes to strengthen them in the Gospel they have heard and to advice them to separate God’s Word from the Word of man. Separate God’s eternal Law from the temporary man-made commands and doctrines. Separate Christ who has full authority over them to the powerless “principalities and powers” of their day.

It is important to dissect Paul’s words carefully, and to always remember that we do not fully know the backgrounds of the assemblies he wrote to, nor the troubles and conflicts they faced. We must understand that Paul adhered and walked according to God’s Law, and that his common rebuke was against justification/salvation through the doing of the Law. When taken in context there is no doubt that Paul was speaking of man-made doctrines being nailed to the cross and being blotted out, and not God’s eternal Law.

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[A]”By three things did Israel enter into the Covenant: by circumcision, and baptism and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written: ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof’ (Exodus 12:48). Baptism was in the wilderness, just before giving of the Law, as it is written: ‘Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’ (Exodus 19:10). And sacrifice, as it is said: ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt offerings’ (Exodus 24:5)…When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant…He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice…And at this time when there is no sacrifice, they must be circumcised and be baptized; and when the Temple shall be built, they are to bring a sacrifice…The gentile that is made a proselyte and the slave that is made free, behold he is like a child new born.”