Category Archives: KJV Bible

The NIV Bible Quiz

One of the most popular Bible translations today is the New International Version, or NIV that came out in 1978 and 1984. Last night, as a family, we sat down with the NIV, the NASB (New American Standard Version) and the KJV (King James Version), and had such a great time taking the following quiz, that I thought it would be profitable to post it here at the blog.

This NIV quiz is designed to help Christians understand the differences between Bible translations as compared with the 400 year old KJV. Print out the following quiz, have an NIV and at least a KJV handy, we also used an NASB, out of curiosity, and involve the whole family. We have three daughters, so each one had a different Bible translation…my husband followed along in his KJV and led our discussion, while I read off the references and asked the questions once everyone was ready to read.

Dr. Rex Cobb, the director of Baptist Bible Translators in Bowie, TX wrote this quiz. You may download it and print it off here:

The NIV Quiz

Don’t have an NIV? You can use one online here at Blue Letter Bible.

Remember, when you take this quiz, your answers must come from the Bible text itself, not from the margins or footnotes. Marginal notes do not have the power and authority of God’s written word, they are only included by editors as extra information, and can be biased. Also, don’t “guess” the answers based on memory, look up each NIV reference given. (My personal favorites are #’s 17 & 24)

Post Script

This quiz is based on the older NIV Bibles, the 1978 and 1984 editions. Have you followed the uproar amongst conservative evangelicals regarding the NIV’s gender neutral “updates” thatKJVBible came out in 2005 and 2011? Where do you think the changes will end?

My pastor is fond of saying, while holding his Bible high, “Life is an open book test, and we have the textbook!” I’m so glad I can trust the authority that I’ve found remaining constant in my KJV Bible!

Romans 9, an Introduction

Romans 9 is one of those amazing passages that begs for deeper study. The book of Romans is Paul’s gospel message–his unveiling of the great mystery entrusted to him by God: justification by faith and salvation through Jesus Christ for the Gentiles! And where exactly does this leave the Jews, and their status as God’s “chosen people”? He answers that question too.

This is a difficult passage taken by itself. Many people have been led down the road of Calvinism by majoring on certain of its verses. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of studying the whole book of Romans in order to truly grasp the truth of Romans 9. At the very least…read chapters 9-11. Also important is the greater context of the passages referred to in the Old Testament. Paul makes this easy for us, by embellishing Romans 9-11 with many quotes from the Old Testament, that when read in their context, shed a great deal of light on chapter nine’s meaning.

J. Vernon McGee’s Thru The Bible series says this about the theme of Romans chapter 9:

“Israel defined; Israel identified; the choice of Israel in the sovereign purpose of God; the choice of Gentiles in the scriptural prophecies.”

Further, McGee writes of Romans 9-11:

“it deals with the eschatological, that is, the prophetic, section of the Bible that reveals God is not through with Israel. Now as we begin chapter 9, notice that this has to do with God’s past dealings with Israel. In chapter 10 we will see God’s present dealings with Israel and, in chapter 11, God’s future dealings with Israel as a nation…”

This post is intended as a very brief intro to this study…maybe there are others who read here who have often been puzzled at certain verses in this passage, verses that seem to lend credibility to the Calvinist’s claim that God created certain souls for hell and certain souls for heaven.  After all, Romans 9:21 sure seems to indicate as much:

“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

But let me assure you, that the answers to these riddles are all to be found in God’s word, with just a little cross referencing. I hope you’ll be as blessed by this study as I have been.

Disclaimer: I am a woman, with no theology degree, with only a deep love for God’s word and a sincere desire to understand it. Differing stances on Romans 9, as we get into the series, will be welcome when accompanied by scripture references. Thank you!

The Word of God Personified

Our family’s understanding of God’s word has grown exponentially as we familiarize ourselves with the dispensational approach to Bible study. Dispensationalism is a way of “rightly dividing” the Bible into time frames that help us see how God’s plan has progressed from day 1 of Creation to now, and beyond. There is a lot more to it than that, but this blog post is not about explaining dispensationalism, it’s about the Bible, the word of God being Jesus Himself. I bring dispensationalism into it only because this blog post will reference Dr. Douglas Stauffer’s resources, the dvd series, Changed by the Book, and his corresponding book, titled, One Book Rightly Divided. Dr. Stauffer has taught us much about dispensational study, and came highly recommended by our pastor.

I was so struck by Dr. Stauffer’s comments about the “personification” of the word of God, that I jotted the scripture references down in my special Bible notebook. So here we go!

Perhaps the first one we all think of, is John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Doesn’t get much more equitable than that, or so I thought.

But it just gets better and better.

Check out Proverbs 30:4-5, noticing the questions raised, that I’ve bolded:

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?”

(and verse 5 gives us the answer to the six questions in verse 4)

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”

Incredible! Do you see that? The answer to “what is his name and what is his son’s name” is “every word of God is pure”! Do you see how the very next word after “pure” is “he”, referring back to the word of God? I love it.

Another good one,

John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Notice that the “Word” dwelt among us. Another reference to Jesus being the word of God.

Another awesome one, in Romans 9:17,

“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”

This passage in Romans 9, is referring back to Exodus 9:13-16, noting specifically the first few words of verse 13, and how verse 16 directly corresponds to Romans 9:17. Here we see that the “scripture saith” of Romans 9, is what “the Lord said” back in Exodus 9! A classic example of how the word of God is personified.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that [there is] none like me in all the earth.

For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.

And in very deed for this [cause] have I raised thee up, for to shew [in] thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”

Galatians 3:8 mentions the “scripture” as “seeing”:

“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed.”

Lastly, for this blog post, is the wonderful passage of Hebrews 4:12-13,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

So we see the scripture, both the written and spoken word of God, coming alive…ascending into heaven and descending, gathering the wind in his fists, binding the waters in a garment, establishing all the ends of the earth, shielding those that trust in him, becoming flesh and dwelling among us, as a quick and powerful sword of the spirit, seeing all things and speaking both as the Lord, and as Scripture to his people.

Is it any wonder, that He would promise to perfectly preserve His words forever according to Psalms 12:6-7? And that we’re warned several times of the grievousness of adding to or changing His words? (Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:6, Rev. 22:18-19)

When we all get to heaven, do you think He’ll say, “Hey, listen, you took my words just a little too seriously there on earth. Lighten up, will you?”

Rather, this is what He tells us is at stake:

John 12:48,

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

May God lead us all to a knowledge of the life-changing truth of His words before it’s too late.

Part 3: Examining Calvinism Proof Texts

Okay, continuing on in our *class homework* quest to apply Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 2:13 to “compare spiritual things with spiritual”, and again in 2 Timothy 2:15,  as we study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Today we actually find ourselves in that same second chapter of 1 Corinthians, looking closely at 1 Corinthians 2:14. Let’s dive right into the “proof” text.

1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: (Why?) for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” (emphasis mine)

Probably the phrase in this verse that causes problems is “neither can he know them”…keeping in mind the Calvinist doctrine of “Total Depravity”, the teaching that mankind is totally unable or incapable of seeing his need for Christ. Certainly, you could take this verse out of its context, and stumble over this phrase, thinking “neither can he know them” refers to man’s inability to have spiritual discernment unless they are one of the “elect”. (Elect is a term used by Calvinists for those that they believe have been pre-selected before the creation of the world by God and gifted with salvation…OTOH, remember that the flip-side, is that the “non-elect” have been supposedly selected by God to spend eternity in hell.)

As always, I recommend we read through this whole chapter, to grasp the context. Paul begins by expounding on the fact that he, as a man, has no wisdom apart from the Spirit’s power (verse 4), and that this wisdom is a mystery to the world (verses 6-8). But check out verses 9-12:

“But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. ”

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him…” (vs. 14)

Here again we see that if we come to God, believing, if we LOVE Him, and receive the truth of the gospel, the Holy Spirit will reveal all manner of wisdom, power and truth to us. These are the “perks” of being the sons of God!  Notice also, the reason given in verse 14 as to why the natural man “just doesn’t get it”…it’s because the things of God are foolishness to him. That is *key*. We see this often reflected by hard core evolutionists and atheists who are completely blind to the overwhelming evidence historically, archaeologically, and scientifically for the Creator of the Bible.

More scriptures along these lines, that the Spirit is given to those that believe/receive the free gift of the gospel…

Galatians 4:5-6, “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Ephesians 1:12-14, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

The order is always: receive/believe the truth/gospel, and then the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts to reveal all truth, so that we no longer are “of the flesh” but are “of the Spirit”…, not as the natural man who receiveth not, but as the humble believer, coming in faith to the cross, believing that Jesus’ death paid it all.

Here’s another great one on the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer:

John 16:13-14, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.”

In summing up, I have one more point to make.  In regard to 1 Cor. 2:14’s reference to the natural man “receiving not” because to him, the things of God are foolishness…this goes along with yesterday’s problem text in Part 2, 1 Corinthians 1:20B-21,

“Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

It takes the willingness of a believing heart by faith in things unseen and things considered foolish, to please God. I believe that this is precisely why He wrote some hard-to-understand texts into His word. He knew that if we wanted to know Him on a deeper level, out of love for Him and His words, we’d keep studying these passages till we grasped their truth…and likewise, that we’d have to accept some things by faith, perhaps not finding their answers this side of Heaven. (1 Cor. 4:5)

God allows these puzzlers to identify Himself as the Author of the Bible. As the Creator, He allows exactly the same type of discrepancies in nature…according to the Bible, the earth is around 6,000 years old. However, starlight can be seen from stars millions of light years away. Venus rotates in reverse.  Salt melts ice but the polar caps remain frozen two miles deep in salt water.  He is God, maybe He wants to stimulate men and women to study and think. Why did Jesus speak in parables? God could have shortened the Bible to the salvation particulars and left it at that. But He didn’t. He is the God of history, and I am seeing how awesome it is to see in the Bible, how God’s truth is revealed progressively as time marches on.  Thus it stays ever relevant… Maybe God allows these hard texts to test our hearts and motives. Hebrews 4:12-13?  To see if we will still believe, and study to “show ourselves approved unto God”…did you ever think about seeking God’s approval being a big part of reading the word? I never *got* that before this past year.

I know for me personally, it’s been an amazing journey to plumb the depths of God’s awesome word in this way, by faith believing it holds every answer, and I’ve only just begun…

Are the things of God “foolishness” to you? Or do you love Him, and believe the whole counsel of His word, receiving the gospel account by faith, not as head-knowledge, but in your heart?

Part 2: Examining Calvinism Proof Texts

Continuing on with class homework for my friends who *want to know*…we will next tackle Romans 8:7-8, a passage often used by the Calvinist as a proof text for their doctrine of Total Depravity–the “T” in “TULIP”. Total Depravity refers to the idea of mankind’s complete inability to respond to the gospel. It bears repeating, that I am not a Calvinist, nor an Arminian, but rather a Christian who stands on the Bible as my final authority. We don’t want to be like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, who elevated their own teachings and traditions to the level of scripture. Likewise, nor should we measure scripture by the writings of John Calvin, or Jacob Arminius, or whoever’s name we choose to plug into for truth.

So, that said, what saith the scriptures?

“Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:7-8

Okay. Concrete statement here: “they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” So what’s the problem? From my understanding, Calvinists believe that if one cannot please God, one cannot be saved. And their assumption here, is that this verse indicates that no one can please God. Now there are many different shades of Calvinism out there, with some or all of the points of TULIP being either accepted or rejected. This is not intended to be a blanket assumption of all Calvinists, just an “in general” observation.

So the key phrase in this passage to cross-reference, is “please God”, because we need to see what God himself says in the Bible about what “pleases” him to give us light as to the core of this teaching. It’s been interesting to me, as we’ve studied Calvinism, how contradictory Calvin’s interpretations are to scripture. Yet if we let the Bible speak for itself, by cross-referencing, we see no contradictions…but rather we get LIGHT! So let’s commence…

Okay, in cross referencing “please God” we find some good stuff. 

1 Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

We see here that “it pleased God…to save them that believe.” There is that reference to “believing” again, this time in reference to “pleasing God”! If you keep reading in 1 Cor. 1, you see “foolishness of preaching” defined in verses 23, 25, 27, and 28. God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise…things like our gaining life through one who died, gaining a blessing by one who was made a curse, being justified by one who was condemned–this is all foolishness to men blinded by self-conceit and vain philosophies. Not to mention that God chose fishermen to propagate the gospel, when he could have chosen eloquent scholars. We see this in verse 26, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]:” It is interesting to note here that Saul-who-became-Paul was a scholar of scriptures, a Pharisee…yet he admits to being “rude in speech, though not in knowledge”, and God gave him a thorn in his flesh to keep him humble…something to do with his eyesight.

Okay, next scripture up:

Hebrews 11:5-6, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

We see here simply, that it is faith that pleases God. And by faith, the believer walks after the Spirit, not after the flesh. Enoch’s testimony was one of faith, which pleased God. Faith is defined here as coming to God, believing that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Coming to God, believing. That really corresponds with our previous study on John 6.

This Hebrews passage also shows that man is responsible for his faith or lack of faith.

Let’s not forget to read Romans 8 in context, starting with verse one:

Romans 8:1, “[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (FYI, italics added to indicate an important portion of this verse that is left out of new Bible versions)

And the rest of Romans 8, leading up to the verses we’re questioning, plus verse 9, I will put here also:

Romans 8:2-9, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.

Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Don’t you love that “But” at the beginning of verse 9? To be “carnally or fleshly minded” is death, it is not of the Spirit of Christ, BUT ye are not in the flesh…Paul is speaking to believers here, in the whole context of the importance of walking after the spirit, not after the flesh.

So if verses 7-8 are used by Calvinists to prove that mankind cannot be saved because they cannot please God, then we see, in context and by cross referencing, the simple truth that walking after sinful flesh does not please God and without faith, it is impossible to please him. But for His grace, by faith! “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:” Eph. 2:8.

Romans 5:1-2,

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

How do we get faith? Scripture is very clear on this as well:

Romans 10:8-17, “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Can man please God, then? YES, by faith believing!

Examining John 6:44, a Calvinism “proof text”…

This post is for the two friends of mine that were unable to come to Bible class two weeks ago. One of them asked me for a copy of my notes…and my notes are so messy uniquely decipherable by yours truly, that I thought this might be a better way of “catching her up” on what we learned. To anyone else happening to read this, maybe you’ll learn something new, as I did. And maybe you’ll disagree. Either way, we can chat about it more in comments.

So our study at the evening service these past weeks has been on understanding Calvinism. I will say up front that I am not a Calvinist, nor an Arminian, I am a follower of Christ and His word. However, there are some passages Calvinists use to prove certain of their points, that can be downright confusing if you don’t rightly divide the word of truth. I’m not attempting here to refute the five points of Calvinism, aka, TULIP. I’m simply sharing class homework with fellow truth seekers…so here we go!

John 6:44 is a verse that, taken by itself, has stumped me in the past. A Calvinist will read this as supporting evidence for their belief in the total depravity of mankind, which basically means that wicked mankind is totally incapable of responding to the gospel, and further, their belief that Jesus only died for the “elect”, or the “chosen”, while the rest of humanity is damned to hell. Here is the verse:

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

One thing I’ve learned in this Bible study, is that to get “light” on scripture, you must read the context, and cross-reference certain key phrases. This is all part of “rightly dividing” the word, and comparing spiritual things with spiritual as we’re told to do in 1 Cor. 2:13. So if you would, read John 6, and see what Jesus said on both sides of verse 44. Verses 35, 36, 37, 45, 47 and 51 jump out at me:

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (vs. 35)

“But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.” (vs. 36)

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. ” (vs. 37)

“It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (vs. 45)

Notice that phrase “cometh unto me“…it is in verses 35, 37, and 45, the verses directly surrounding the one we’re studying. Jesus just said in verse 44, that “no man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him”… So this verse sheds great light on the verses surrounding it! How does God draw us to him? Verse 45 tells us, by our response to hearing the gospel, or being “taught of God”! Here we have simply been reading in context, and this key phrase “come/cometh to me” keeps popping out at us. The Bible will define itself every time! 

On to the other verses in this context that grabbed my attention.

“He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (vs. 47)

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (vs. 51)

Notice the words in bold. Keep in mind that to Calvinists, there are two groups of people: the elect or “chosen” ones, and the non-elect. Also remember their premise of “total depravity,” that mankind is incapable of responding to the gospel, unless they are of the elect. Yet, Jesus says, “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Believing is responding. And in verse 51, “if ANY man eat of this bread” is also an action in response to Christ available to ANY man seeking to partake of it. And his life was given for the world! Not just the elect few…

Before we go any further, I have to say that I believe God calls everyone to Himself, but many reject the gospel, or haven’t heard the gospel, and these people don’t respond by believing in Christ. The scripture passages we are focusing on today, support this belief. It’s important to draw attention to the times in these passages where Jesus draws a distinction between those that “believe” and those that “believe not.” John 3:18 says this:

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Unbelief is the only roadblock to salvation. As long as you continue in unbelief, you have a ticket straight to hell. Do nothing, and you are condemned already. So we have two camps of people here, those that believe and come, and those that believe not or come not. Here are some verses that support the doctrine of man’s having the free will to believe in God, or to reject God:

Romans 6:17, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”

(This is a really good verse to read in context…it’s leading up to the famous Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…” ie: servants of sin, get the wages of sin, but if you are obedient unto righteousness, then the gift of God is eternal life…wonderful passage!)

John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”

I love that these two verses refer distinctly to our John 6:44-45  theme that God draws mankind to him by teaching them of Himself, and after hearing and learning about God, men either “come to him,” thereby “obeying that form of doctrine” or they “come not” and thus never receive life in Christ Jesus.

But this gets really exciting when you look up John 12:32:

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.”

Wow! There is that word again, “draw”–same word we saw in John 6:44–“No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” And here Jesus is saying he will draw ALL men unto him…the phrase “if I be lifted up from the earth” refers to his being lifted up on the cross (John 3:14), that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:15).

The study of the context and cross-references of John 6:44 is full of incredible truth! And John himself tells us, in the second to last chapter of his book, why he wrote this gospel account. John 20:31 sums it all up very clearly:

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” 

Pretty straightforward, after all.

Another key thing to consider, is, would God devote so much time in His word to telling mankind to “believe” if mankind “can’t” believe, or is unable to believe? For God to tell men to believe, if they can’t, is unjust. The God of the Bible is not looking much like the God of Calvinism.

Well, I only got through one of the verses from last week’s class! I have 4 or 5 more to go…and will post more as I have time. Loving this excuse to rehash it all in my own mind and heart.

As always, in awe of His word (Psalm 119:161),

Mary

Is the Love of Money the Root of All Evil?

Is the love of money really the root of all evil? What about hatred, rape, lying, or Adam’s fall? Let’s pursue this a little deeper here on the blog today.

Texts under consideration:

1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (KJV)

1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (NIV)

(NKJV says: “a root of all kinds of evil”, ESV says: “a root of all kinds of evils“, NASB says “a root of all sorts of evil”)

Here’s a recap of something I said in my other post:

The new versions addition of the word “kinds of” does not occur in any Greek text. “Evil” is plural, disallowing their interpolation and implying all.

But, the argument on the flip side is this:

True, there is no word for “sorts” or “kinds” in the original, and it is also true that in Greek, the word Evil is plural. The problem then is in translation, because, in English, the word evil is singular (as an abstract, it is ideologically plural, but it is grammatically singular). This makes translation a bit difficult. So, the inclusion of the word “all KINDS of evil” actually makes sense and accurately translates the Greek clause “all evils.”

Since we’ve explored the manuscript angle here before, I’ll just up front say that this reading of “a root of all kinds of evil” is derived from the RSV, Revised Standard Version, which is based on Alexandrian manuscripts. Today’s ESV is the RSV, re-clothed.

The KJV is not alone, historically, in rendering this phrase as “the love of money is THE root of ALL evil”. Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale’s New Testament 1534, Coverdale 1535, Bishop’s Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible of 1599, The Great Bible, Wesley’s translation 1755, Daniel Mace’s N.T. 1729, Darby’s translation, Webster’s 1833 translation, the Douay 1950 version, the New American Bible of 1970, the Living Oracles New Testament, Goodspeed’s American Translation, the Spanish Reina Valera versions of 1569 and 1602, the Italian Diodati version, the New English Bible 1970, the KJV 21st Century, Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the 2003 International Standard Version, and the Third Millenium Bible all do as well.

I personally don’t see that the word evil stands to lose any of its intended meaning in this passage whether it be singular or plural. How many evils are included in the phrase “all kinds of evil”? It kind of comes back full circle to the KJV reading of “all evil” anyway, doesn’t it?

The crux of this particular puzzle lies in finding out the intended meaning of the passage. Let’s check out the context by reading it with the preceding verse.

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Tim. 6:9-10

As we read this in context, I think we begin to see that the problem is that we are reading it as if it says, “The love of money is the root of all SINS,” rather than all evil.  Evil is the result of sin, not the sin itself.

“All evil” is not referring here to every kind of evil or sin but rather to the state of evil.  The word evil as it is used here refers to the consequences of sin–internally and externally manifested, soul-related unrest.

The context of 1 Tim. 6:10 isn’t the “root” or “vehicle” of  “sin” being “money”, but rather the Christian’s attitude toward money and where that attitude leads. We’re shown here that the love of money is the root of all evil. 

Remember that a “root” is not a “cause.” A “root” is not a “seed”.  A seed generates or “causes” something; a root merely acts as a vehicle for feeding. As the root does its job, it contributes the sustenance necessary to the plant or tree’s growth. The love of money in a person’s life spreads out roots out in all directions, leading them into more and more evil.  Our old sin nature is ready and willing to bear evil fruit.

 This person has fallen into a state of  “all evil”. He is “drowned in destruction and perdition” by many “foolish and hurtful lusts”. He is “pierced through with many sorrows“. There is no consciousness of anything good in this person’s life and all he feels and experiences is a state of evil.

To go a step further in our study, in 1 Cor. 2:13 we’re told to “compare spiritual things with spiritual” so let’s look to various scriptures on the subject. A comparison of the following verses shows that the phrase “all evil'” does not refer to every conceivable form of evil or sin, but rather to a state of being which consists of unmixed evil:

Joshua 23:15, “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you ALL EVIL THINGS, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”

Proverbs 5:14 “I was almost in ALL EVIL in the midst of the congregation and assembly.”

Genesis 48:16, “The Angel which redeemed me from ALL EVIL, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them.”

James 3:16, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Does James 3:16 imply that where there is envy and strife, there will also be the fall of man, lies, rape, incest, greed and murder? No, but it does indicate that the presence of these two sins contaminate and affect everything else going on around them, and result in a state of evil. Kind of the way leaven works, as we’ve seen before.

We as Christians are blessed by many good things, while existing with the presence of evil or difficulties in our lives. But 1 Timothy 6:10 warns us that the Christian who pursues the love of money will soon be snared in a state of  evil, sorrows and hurtful lusts and will lose the sense of God’s presence and approval in his life. The love of money will cause one to err from the faith. I believe this is the true sense of the passage as it is found in the King James Bible, and many others as well.

Matthew 6:19-24 comes to mind:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness!  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Lastly, with respect to the absence of the definite article in “the Greek” in 1 Timothy 6:10 (“the” root as opposed to “a” root), British scholar, Alan O’Reilly cites 1 Corinthians 2:16, where the scholars inserted a definite article, Hebrews 2:9, where the scholars inserted two definite articles and Luke 1:17, with four definite articles inserted, all of which “are found in no copies of Greek manuscripts from any set of manuscripts found in any “family” of manuscripts.”

1 Timothy 6:10 does not differ grammatically from the above cases.

No Doctrines Changed?

In my last post I promised to share some examples of places in the Bible that have been affected by the “devices” of Satan. Please understand, I am not attacking God’s word here. We are warned all over scriptures what to watch out for, concerning the devil’s handiwork, and a spiritual perspective both on how Satan works, as well as on the emphasis God places upon His words would be in great order. I’ve covered both areas in previous blog posts, but will briefly touch upon them again.  2 Cor. 2:11 says,

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (v. 17)

I suggest that before reading this article, you seek God’s heart on the matter, and ask for Him to reveal truth to you…and test what I’m saying here against scripture. Every one of us is accountable to God in this way. His word is the great leveler, the filter through which we can know what pure, unadulterated truth actually is. That’s why this topic is near and dear to my heart. You can have absolute truth to stand on, truth that is not contradictory, confusing, but rather illuminating and powerful! Psalm 119 is full of truth about God’s word, one of my all time favorites is verse 130, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. “ So pray right now, that God’s truth would be with you, a light to your path as you study these things.

Secondly, I want to share here a selection of verses from Jeremiah 23, please go read the whole chapter keeping in mind the seriousness portrayed here, of tampering with God’s word:

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.” (v. 1)

“For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.” (v. 11)

“For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard [it]?” (v. 18)

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” (v. 21)

“But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” (v. 22)

“[Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces?” (v. 29)

“Therefore, behold, I [am] against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.” (v. 30)

“…Ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.” (v. 36)

I realize this is not a popular topic, except behind the scenes where I tend to receive the blasts of critics and friends alike, as well as the “amens!” by those of you who have believed God’s words as preserved in the KJV to be inspired, infallible, Hebrews 4:12 caliber words capable of casting their high-beamed spotlight out into this dark sin-sick world of ours. I don’t shy away from discussion, whether here in comments, or behind the scenes via email. Whether you agree with the controversial things posted here, I hope they spur you deeper into God’s word, to the ability of being able to defend your position with scripture, and above all, to “awake the sleepers” (2 Cor. 15:34) …according to the example set before us in Ezekiel 33:5.

Example #1

Matthew 5:22, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

New versions remove this key phrase, “without a cause”, thus implying that Jesus himself was a sinner. For examples of Jesus’ anger, see Matt. 21:12, Mark 11:15, and Mark 3:5 where Jesus “looked round about on them with anger”, and that He most certainly did not sin, Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”

Example #2

In Matthew 6:13, new versions do not contain the ending to the Lord’s prayer, or they put it in brackets which casts doubt as to its “authenticity”:

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

 Why is this a big deal? One commentary says it this way, “When you remove the ending of the verse, you’ve taken the glory from God for bringing a literal, physical, Jewish kingdom on this earth (“in earth, as it is in heaven”–Matt. 6:10). You have made the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ end with a reference to Satan, sin, and evil instead of a Jewish Kingdom with a Judean ‘King of the Jews’ on David’s throne.”

New versions leave it at this, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Speaking of unacceptable endings, this might be a good place to bring up the new versions’ missing eleven verses at the ending of Mark. Books have been written on the fallacy of this omission based on historical evidence pointing to their authenticity. But realize this, what would the enemy have had to gain by snipping this ending out? One advantage I’ll share here, perhaps I’ll go into more detail on this in a separate blog. Did you realize that the Gospels initially circulated as a distinct unit, but in the temporary arrangement of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark? (p. 163 of  Hills, King James Version Defended, and p. 68 of The Causes and Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, John William Burgon, B.D.) Evidence for the verses’ inclusion aside, by their absence we’re left to conclude that the earliest propagation of the “good news” of the gospels of Christ’s all-sufficient grace concluded with a scene of fear and trembling. Quite the opposite of 2 Tim. 1:7a, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear…”

Example #3

Mark 1:2, KJV, “As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

NIV, NASB, etc, “It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.”

“By altering the KJV’s ‘prophets’ (meaning: Malachi AND Isaiah) to just ‘Isaiah’ (who did not author the quotation of vs. 2), the Deity of Christ was obscured. The quote of verse 2 is from Malachi 3:1. ‘Malachi said that the ‘thy’ and ‘thee’ of Mark 1:2 was Jehovah (see ‘me’ in Mal. 3:1, referring to ‘the LORD of hosts’).’  In this way, a direct attack on the Deity of Jesus Christ was accomplished by purposely lying about the source of the quotation.”

Example #4

1 Timothy 3:16, KJV, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

NIV, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He  appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”

NASB, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

Do I need to expound on this one? Jesus Christ is no longer “God” manifest in the flesh, but rather, “He” who was manifest in the flesh, or “appeared in a body”.  I believe this is a not so “subtle” attack on the Deity and the Incarnation of Christ.

Example #5

John 3:13–the only reference in the NT to Christ’s omnipresence. See for yourself, the KJV phrase, “which is in heaven”:

KJV, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.” 

NIV–“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”             

NASB–“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”

This is a basic truth regarding the character of God the Son, Christ Jesus!

Example #6

2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV)

In 2 Tim. 2:15, only in the KJV, are we commanded to “study” the word of God, and then we’re told how to study it. This is an active verb, direct command, whereas, the new versions replace “Study” with NASB’s “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God” or NIV’s, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved”… Do your best?  

Example #7

We learn in this passage that you can trust in riches, as long as you don’t have them. Confusing?

Mark 10:24, “And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (KJV)

New versions leave out the phrase in bold above.  One might argue that in the context, Jesus sandwiched the above verse with warnings on how hard it is for a rich man to enter heaven…but verse 24, states specifically that it is not simply “riches” that provide the problem, but rather clarifies that it is  “trusting in those riches” that makes it hard to enter into the kingdom of God. Big difference, at least to any wealthy saints tuning in. Also, taken by itself, it’s sure not a verse I would want my six year old learning in Sunday School…”Mommy, the Bible says that it is really hard to get into heaven…”

One has to wonder why new versions also change 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” New versions read, “…is a root of all sorts/kinds of evil”…

Now before you jump on this one in comments, remember that a “root” is not a “cause.” A “root” is not a “seed”. A seed generates or “causes” something; a root merely acts as a vehicle for feeding. One friend put it like this, “The pornography, movie, fashion and advertising industries and their ‘love of money’ are at the ‘root’. This ‘root’ leads into temptation of man’s sinful nature. This nature is ready and willing to bear evil fruit; the desire for gain inspires (or is at the root of) the tempters.”

Also, the new versions addition of the word “kinds of” does not occur in any Greek text. “Evil” is plural, disallowing their interpolation and implying all.

Example #8

Luke 4:4, “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” KJV

Again, the words in “bold” are not in new Bible versions. I guess if every word isn’t sacred, then that allows for the 36,000-64,000 missing and changed words in the manuscripts underlying the new versions. What it doesn’t allow for, is the commands found in Rev. 22:18-19, Deut. 4:2, and Prov. 30:5-6 where we are explicitly commanded NOT to add to, or subtract from God’s word.

Example #9

Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:” KJV

“Through his blood” is not in modern Bible versions. Yet, redemption is dependent solely upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ. “Redemption” and “remission” are different things according to Exodus 34:7Hebrews 9:15; and Romans 3:25. Ever hear of the “bloodless gospel”?

Example #10

This will be my last one for today, since I brought it up in an earlier post concerning the Jehovah Witnesses NWT’s attack on Christ’s deity being the same here as it is in the NASB. In all fairness, they are based upon the same handful of Alexandrian manuscripts, whereas the KJV stands on 99% of the extant manuscripts out there today.

John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].” KJV

NASB–“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

NIV–“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”

Two gods? One begotten and one unbegotten? You can see that the NIV slightly changes the wording but it still is saying “only God the one and only has seen God”. Still sounds like two gods. The idea of a “god begetting a god” is an Arian heresy from 325 A.D. Or Polytheism as taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Does this not concern fundamental doctrines of our faith? Jesus is eternal, is he not? He was a begotten Son, in the flesh, who existed as God throughout all eternity.

Ten examples are plenty for now. My point is, why settle for leavened Bibles when you can have the pure word of God?

Please remember, if you disagree with the above conclusions, you are more than welcome to leave your thoughts in comments, speaking the truth “in love”.

Martin Luther on Leaven…

A few days ago, we explored the scriptural warnings on leaven and how leaven, biblically, acts as an agent of corruption, symbolic of sin, and likened to false doctrines in the church. Many people I talk to concerning the issue of Bible versions, believe that as long as no fundamental doctrine is affected in the Bible, then certain missing doctrines,  such as Acts 8:27 or 1 John 5:7, don’t really cause a problem.

I’d like to say that if God had wanted to, He could have written a brief 2-3 page letter to the world, a Divine gospel tract, outlining the plan of salvation, and leaving it at that. Why did He write a whole Book? Why does He put such emphasis on every word in that Book? All the fundamental doctrines can be found in a gospel tract, or the Apostle’s Creed, but that doesn’t make them into Bibles! 

In the same way, to allow “some” leaven (false doctrine) in the word is to “leaven the whole lump”.  God, the Author of the Bible, had a reason for putting every word, even to jots and tittles, in His holy Book, just as He many times repeated Himself in scripture to emphasize the importance of what He wanted us to understand. To add or subtract from His words is a serious offense, as we see in Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, and Proverbs 30:5-6.  

Today, in Galatians 5, we see the Apostle Paul making it clear that “one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel”. Think of it this way, if you were trying to sell a barrel of apples, would you put all the rotten ones on top? No, you would be less obvious, more deceptive , and mix them up in the barrel.

While studying the various warnings about “leaven” in the New Testament, I came to Galatians 5, where Paul is valiantly expounding on justification by faith alone, and the dangers of trying to add anything to Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. I came across this gem of Martin Luther’s. He had this to say in regards to Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”:

Paul’s concern for them meant nothing to some of the Galatians. Many had disowned him as their teacher and gone over to the false apostles. No doubt the false apostles took every occasion to defame Paul as a stubborn and contemptuous fellow who thought nothing of disrupting the unity of the churches for no other reason than his selfish pride and jealousy.

Others of the Galatians perhaps saw no harm in deviating a trifle from the doctrine of justification and faith. When they noticed that Paul made so much ado about a matter that seemed of no particular importance to them they raised their eyebrows and thought within themselves: “What if we did deviate a little from the doctrine of Paul? What if we are a little to blame? He ought to overlook the whole matter, and not make such an issue out of it, lest the unity of the churches be disturbed.” To this Paul replies: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

Our opponents record the same complaints about us. They put us down as contentious, ill-tempered faultfinders. But these are the crafty passes of the devil, with which he seeks to overthrow our faith. We answer with Paul: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

Small faults grow into big faults. To tolerate a trifling error inevitably leads to crass heresy. The doctrine of the Bible is not ours to take or to allow liberties with. We have no right to change even a tittle of it. When it comes to life we are ready to do, to suffer, to forgive anything our opponents demand as long as faith and doctrine remain pure and uncorrupt. The Apostle James says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” This passage supports us over against our critics who claim that we disregard all charity to the great injury of the churches. We protest we desire nothing more than peace with all men. If they would only permit us to keep our doctrine of faith! The pure doctrine takes precedence before charity, apostles, or an angel from heaven.

Let others praise charity and concord to the skies; we magnify the authority of the Word and faith. Charity may be neglected at times without peril, but not the Word and faith. Charity suffers all things, it gives in. Faith suffers nothing; it never yields. Charity is often deceived but is never put out because it lies nothing to lose; it continues to do well even to the ungrateful. When it comes to faith and salvation in the midst of lies and errors that parade as truth and deceive many, charity has no voice or vote. Let us not be influenced by the popular cry for charity and unity. If we do not love God and His Word what difference does it make if we love anything at all?” (all bold and italics added for emphasis)

The issue of which Bible to use, is to me, of paramount importance…for it is by His Word, the Lord Jesus Christ–the word in the flesh and on the page, that we are changed from the inside out.

We may be able to still find “fundamental doctrine” in other places in the new Bible versions, but pardon my lack of finesse here: finding a dollar bill in a trash can does not make the trash can into a bank. You wouldn’t find today’s scholars recommending we use the Jehovah Witness’s NWT, which is based on the same manuscripts (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) as the rest of the modern Bible versions–because “it attacks the Deity of Christ”. Well, to that, we say, the Jehovah Witness Bible gives the same “doctrinal statement” on the Deity of Christ in John 1:18 as does the NASB, among others.

Any “being” who is as subtle as the Devil (Gen. 3:1) is not going to eradicate any “fundamental doctrine” completely…he is going to go by the “little leaven” principle, which eventually leavens the WHOLE  lump. (Gal. 5:9)

I’ll give a few examples of this in another post.

Beware of the Leaven

In terms of modern Bible versions, is it okay to subtract certain passages from scripture, as long they are not erased completely? My pastor’s analogy to this philosophy goes something like this:

So, by this viewpoint, it would be okay if you were in the ocean and a shark decides to bite off only a few toes and fingers and a chunk here and there, as long as he leaves most of the rest of you relatively intact?  Sorry, I’m not okay with that philosophy.

Do the scholars think multiple fingers are redundant?  That we really don’t need them all?  If God says something multiple times, I think I need to know it and read it repeatedly.  Anything less is a deficiency!  Just as I would feel without all my fingers!

This is a big issue to the KJV debate, so it begs discussing. What do you think? Can we remove God’s words here and there, as long as no major doctrine is affected?  The implication to this argument, is that God inspired the fundamental doctrines, but NOT the “words.”  I don’t know about you, but I believe God is very specific in scripture as to the fact that it’s His *words* that are inspired and preserved:  “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35)  Doctrines are expressed in words, and with altered or deleted words every doctrine is “affected,” and more up for debate that it was otherwise.  Acts 8:37 is an example of this, as is 1 John 5:7. God says Himself, that “every word is pure“…and warns us against adding to or subtracting from His words. (Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:5-6, and Rev. 22:18-19)

What does God say about leaven?

My new approach to all of life’s questions, thanks to the final authority found in God’s word, is to check everything out via the Book. And as it turns out, a scriptural study of leaven stands us in excellent stead for this discussion. Did you know that every single Biblical reference to leaven is negative?  Check them out. References to leaven in the NT refer to doctrinal heresy, evil, sin, hypocrisy, unbelief, and wickedness. If you follow the trail of leaven throughout the NT, you will see that each one speaks of “contamination”and the pervasiveness of sin and evil – how a small amount of leaven spreads quickly and affects the “whole lump of dough”. 

According to Matthew 16:12, leaven as a corrupting agent is a type of heretical doctrine:

“Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

The Apostle Paul made it clear that “one rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel” writing in Gal. 5:9, that, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” To imply that any text is acceptable so long as one can find the desired doctrine somewhere within is not scriptural.

In the Old Testament as well, leaven represents evil. Leaven was forbidden in all offerings made by fire (Leviticus 2:11; 6:17), because it symbolized the pervasiveness of evil, and thus was inappropriate to use in offerings which typified the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. The Israelites were also forbidden to eat leavened bread for seven days at the time of Passover. Not only that, God forbid them from having any leaven in their homes (Exodus 12:15, 19) or in their land (Exodus 13:7; Deuteronomy 16:4). Can you imagine? The Israelites took this very seriously, searching their homes, purging out every tiny remnant of leaven.

But let’s look specifically at the Parable of the Leaven today in Matthew 13:33.

The Parable of the Leaven

“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

At first glance, this almost seems as if leaven is a good thing, but we know from every single other reference to leaven in the entire Bible, that it is a corrupting agent, one we are to beware in no uncertain terms. So we apply 2 Tim. 2:15 , “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” and we study this puzzle out.

Jesus is using a woman for an example. Perhaps He even gestured to one in a nearby courtyard, mixing up a batch of bread dough. Anyone that has baked bread from scratch knows that yeast (leaven) is a very important ingredient. Bread made without yeast would be very flat and hard. So we add yeast to our dough, and let it rise in a warm place…and through the process of fermentation, our bread dough rises and is soon ready to bake.

At this point, we need to realize that this passage is interpreted two ways. 

  1. Some believe that the leaven here represents the gospel, and the bread, the world. This would mean that the church is the leaven working inside the world, the bread, and its influence spreads throughout the world.
  2. Another way to understand this parable, is that the world is spreading into the church. This picture of ‘leaven taken by a woman and hidden in the meal’ indicates a mixture of evil within the good. The leaven symbolizes evil that penetrates the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 11:12 tells us that “from the days of John the Baptis until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”

I believe a thorough study of scripture will support the second view quite authoritatively. I believe this parable is a warning to Christians about the pervasiveness of evil spreading like leaven in the church. Keep with me here, it will become very obvious as we peel back the layers.

The parable says this, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

At first read through, it appears that we are to believe that the Kingdom of heaven is like leaven…but if you study the parable of the sower, or the parable of the mustard seed, among others, you would see that they begin the same way…yet Jesus wasn’t saying that the kingdom was the sower but rather the result of his sowing, or that the kingdom was the mustard seed, but the result of the seed sown. So what is He saying here about the leaven? Again we must continue digging, with the whole picture of the parable in mind…we see a woman, taking leaven, and hiding it in three measures of meal.

So we’ve talked about the leaven, let’s talk about the meal…

Romans 11:16, “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.”

The “lump” here is referring to dough, to God’s people, being holy. In this parable, the measures of meal are referring to “flour”. Wheat flour, if you go by the Greek commentaries on this passage. Jesus explained elsewhere that tares in the wheat represent the children of the wicked, whereas the good seed, the wheat, is a picture of the children of kingdom. (Matthew 13:38). In Matthew 3:12, John the Baptist uses wheat to picture believers when he teaches that Jesus would one day “gather His wheat (the righteous) into the garner (barn); but he will burn up the chaff (the wicked) with unquenchable fire.” (additions mine in parentheses)

In John 6:35, Jesus says,  “I am the bread of life.”

1 Corinthians 10:17 says, “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread...”

So when we see the terms wheat, flour, bread, and hence, meal, they refer to believers in Jesus.

If leaven symbolizes evil and wheat refers to Christians, then the lesson of the parable is that evil is able to penetrate the kingdom of heaven and corrupt it.

The world is penetrating the church with its bad influence and Jesus is telling us to watch out for this.

*Hidden* in the meal…

Notice next, that the woman “hid” the leaven in the meal. Here we see secrecy…can we say that God would hide his gospel from the world? Rather the opposite…

The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:9, “for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” The apostles were there for the whole world to see. There was nothing secretive or hidden about the gospel.

Again, in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul says, 

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 

Wow, pretty self-explanatory. Satan, the deceiver, is the one blinding and hiding the gospel from the world. How does he do this? Study the scriptures on leaven and you soon see.

The influence of the church works as the city in Matthew 5:14, “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” Jesus is our light, illuminating the darkness.

By this, I’d say it’s fairly obvious that it is not the church that is hiding in the world. Or the gospel that is being hidden in the meal. Rather it is the world entering secretly into the church.

We are warned of this in the Bible.  In Jude 1:4, we see,

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In 2 Peter 2:1, we read again,

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

Our conclusion must be that this is the leaven that is hidden in the meal, the pervasive and secret influence of the false teachers and of the world in the church. And that is what Jesus is warning us about in this parable.  

(Other NT references on leaven for you to check out: Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 13:21; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 7, 8; Galatians 5:9)

In conclusion…

Leaven works only in one kind of environment.  A lukewarm environment. If you put bread dough in a cold place, the leaven will not do anything. If you put it in a hot place, again, nothing happens. You have to provide the leaven the lukewarm condition required for the dough to rise.

In this sense again, the church cannot be the leaven. The church must be either hot or cold, as Jesus says in Revelation 3:16, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

2 Thessalonians 2:3 warns us that in the end times, there will come a “great falling away” of God’s people, not a great revival. We have to realize that nothing else but “a falling away” is an option as the leavening agent of evil gets progressively worse in the church. The question is, are we alert to it, and what are we as individuals to do about it?

Biblically, the corrupting agent of leaven is to bread what fermentation is to wine. Neither were permitted in the communion elements which pictured Christ’s perfect body and blood.

And we, as Christ’s followers, need to follow 1 Cor. 5:7-8, 

“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 

Luke 18:18 breaks my heart. “…Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”