It’s Always Been About The Cross

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

The Bible makes it clear that the death of Christ was a part of the Godhead’s eternal plan: 

1 Peter 1:19-20-19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

The cross of Calvary has always been at the heart of God’s Word. Throughout the Old Testament, several events foreshadowed what took place on the cross of Calvary.  

Bereshit

Amazingly, the very first word of the Bible tells us about the cross of Jesus.  

“I began to wonder about the Hebrew pictographs. The pictographs can be dated back many thousands of years even before the time of Christ. Each picture tells a part of a story or message; I believe it is a message from eternity to those who are willing to listen and believe….The above illustration is a generalisation of the meanings of each letter. For instance Aleph can also mean sacrifice as it is in the shape of an ox and an ox was used to sacrifice or it can mean God himself as the first above all. Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew “Aleph- bet” and like Aleph and many of the other letters can simply mean cross because of its shape. Again I wondered is there a message here somewhere? I began my search in the very first word of the Old Testament “Bereshit” meaning “In the beginning.” What would happen if I took the ancient pictographs and substituted them for the Hebrew letters in Bereshit? Would there be a message hidden beneath the surface text?…In the pictograph of Bereshit, the first word of Genesis 1, we read from right to left: ְבּ Beit which is a picture of a house or the temple, ֵר Resh meaning the highest, אAleph which can mean God or sacrifice, שׁ Shin meaning to be destroyed or to destroy, יYod meaning hand or one’s own hand, ת Tav meaning a cross. (See fig 4) The stunning message we receive from Genesis 1 in ancient Hebrew Pictographs and Bereshit the very first Hebrew word in the bible is: The house / temple of the highest sacrifice (or God) will be destroyed by his own hand on a cross. (Fig 4)….Isn’t that incredible? To discover the Gospel message hidden in the first Hebrew word of the bible? Hidden in ancient Hebrew pictographs. All the more stunning when one realises the modern religious Jew does not believe God would come and die on a cross for their sins. Yet here it is revealed in the Hebrew pictographs proving, yet again, God authored the bible; placing within the Hebrew text proof they cannot deny from their own ancient pictographic history. Yeshua is God and came and died on the cross for our sins. The message was placed there by a divine hand at the very beginning of the Hebrew bible thousands of years before crucifixion was ever invented!” (Bob Mitchell, The Messiah Code, 77-103 (Kindle Edition))

The Words Of The Psalmist 

Psalm 22:16-For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;

Long before the time of Christ, this passage was understood by the Hebrews as being Messianic.  

“On Ps. xxii. 7 [All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, [saying]] (v 8 in the Hebrew) a remarkable comment appears in Yalkut on Is. lx., applying this passage to the Messiah (the second, or son of Ephraim), and using almost the same words in which the Evangelists describe the mocking behaviour of the Jews at the Cross. Ps. xxii. 15 [My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death] (v 16 in the Hebrew). There is a similarly remarkable application to the Messiah of this verse in Yalkut.” (Alfred Edersheim, Edited by Robert C. Newman, Messianic Passages in the Old Testament as Cited in Rabbinic Literature: IBRI Occasional Paper #35, 538-545 (Kindle Edition); Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute http://www.ibri.org)

One of the reasons why this is so obviously Messianic is because the death of the Person here brings about the conversion of the world. As Smith has pointed out: 

“No Old Testament person could have imagined that his personal deliverance from death could be the occasion for the world’s conversion. Such a hope must be restricted to the future Redeemer. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David in Psalm 22 saw his descendants resembling, but far surpassing, himself in suffering. Furthermore, the deliverance of this descendant would have meaning for all mankind.” (James Smith, The Promised Messiah, 146, cited in Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 113)

Please notice that the text says the Messiah’s hands and feet. This is a powerful depiction of crucifixion.

Incredibly, this prophecy was made nearly eight hundred years before crucifixion was known to the Hebrews!  

“Blinzler states, “Crucifixion was unknown in Jewish criminal law. The hanging on a gibbet, which was prescribed by Jewish law for idolaters and blasphemers who had been stoned, was not a death penalty, but an additional punishment after death designed to brand the executed person as one accursed of God, in accordance with Deut. 21:23 (LXX): ‘For he is accursed of God that hangeth on a tree.’ The Jews applied these words also to one who had been crucified. If crucifixion was the most shameful and degrading death penalty even in the eyes of the pagan world, the Jews in the time of Jesus regarded a person so executed as being, over and above, accursed of God.” 2/247,248 The Encyclopedia Americana records: “The history of crucifixion as a mode of punishment for crime must be studied as a part of the Roman system of jurisprudence…. The Hebrews, for example, adopted or accepted it only under Roman compulsion: under their own system, before Palestine became Roman territory, they inflicted the death penalty by stoning.” 8/253 ” . . . In 63 B.C., Pompey’s legions cut their way into the Judean capital. Palestine became a Roman province, though nominally a puppet Jewish dynasty survived.” 29/262 Thus, the type of death pictured in Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22 did not come into practice under the Jewish system until hundreds of years after the account was written.” (Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Historical Evidences For The Christian Faith-Volume One, 161-162 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers) 

One of the common Jewish objections to Christianity is that the translators of the Bible have mistranslated this passage. Brown provides a powerful refutation of this claim in the following linguistic and etymological study: 

“As for Psalm 22:16[17], almost all of the standard medieval Hebrew manuscripts (known as Masoretic) read ka’ari, followed by the words “my hands and my feet.” According to Rashi, the meaning is “as though they are crushed in a lion’s mouth,” while the commentary of Metsudat David states, “They crush my hands and my feet as the lion which crushes the bones of the prey in its mouth.” Thus, the imagery is clear: These lions are not licking the psalmist’s feet! They are tearing and ripping at them.245 Given the metaphorical language of the surrounding verses (cf. w. 12-21[13-22]), this vivid image of mauling lions graphically conveys the great physical agony of the sufferer. Would this in any way contradict the picture of a crucified victim, his bones out of joint, mockers surrounding him and jeering at him, his garments stripped off of him and divided among his enemies, his feet and hands torn with nails, and his body hung on pieces of wood?246 “But you’re avoiding something here,” you argue. “Where did the King James translators come up with this idea of ‘piercing’ the hands and feet? That’s not what the Hebrew says.” Actually, the Septuagint, the oldest existing Jewish translation of the Tanakh, was the first to translate the Hebrew as “they pierced my hands and feet” (using the verb oruxan in Greek), followed by the Syriac Peshitta version two or three centuries later (rendering with baz‘u). Not only so, but the oldest Hebrew copy of the Psalms we possess (from the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to the century before Yeshua) reads the verb in this verse as ka’aru (not ka‘ari, “like a lion”),247 a reading also found in about a dozen medieval Masoretic manuscripts—recognized as the authoritative texts in traditional Jewish thought—where instead of ka’ari (found in almost all other Masoretic manuscripts) the texts say either ka‘aru or karu. 248 (Hebrew scholars believe this comes from a root meaning “to dig out” or “to bore through.” ) So, the oldest Jewish translation (the Septuagint) translates “they pierced”; the oldest Jewish manuscript (from the Dead Sea Scrolls) reads ka’aru, not ka‘ari; and several Masoretic manuscripts read ka’aru or karu rather than ka’ari. This is not a Christian fabrication. I have copies of the manuscript evidence in front of my eyes as I write these words.249 There is also an interesting notation made by the Masoretic scholars in the margin to Isaiah 38:13, where the Hebrew word ka‘ari, “like a lion,” also occurs—the only other time in the Tanakh that ka’ari is found with the preposition k-, “like,” joined to this form of the word.250 In this instance, however, ka‘ari occurs with a verb explaining the lion’s activity (“break”), whereas in Psalm 22:16[17] the meaning is ambiguous. As noted by Franz Delitzsch, “Perceiving this, the Masora [i.e., the marginal system of notation of the Masoretic scholars to the Hebrew biblical text] on Isaiah xxxviii. 13 observes, that k’ry in the two passages in which it occurs (Ps. xxii. 17, Isa. xxxviii. 13), occurs in two different meanings [Aramaic lyshny btry], just as the Midrash then also understands k‘ry in the Psalm as a verb used of marking with conjuring, magic characters.”251 So, the Masoretes indicated that k’ry in Psalm 22 was to be understood differently than k’ry in Isaiah 38, where it certainly meant “like a lion.”…In reality, there is no stunning mistranslation, no Christian interpolation, no Christian contrivance to be found. Rather, the Christian translations vilified by the anti-missionaries simply reflect an extremely honest and valid attempt to accurately translate the Hebrew text based on ancient Jewish manuscripts and translations. Those are the facts.” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus-Volume Three: Messianic Prophecy Objections, 125-127 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

 Abraham, Isaac, And The Ram

In order to demonstrate his faith, God “tested” Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The Bible teaches that when Abraham was sacrificing his son Isaac, God provided a ram for him to sacrifice in place of his son Isaac: 

Genesis 22:13-Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

Notice several things.  

First, Isaac and Jesus both carried the “wood” of the sacrifices upon which they were to be offered.  

Second, both Jesus and Isaac were roughly the same age when they were “offered.”  

“Where did this concept of righteous martyrdom first arise? According ing to Jewish tradition, it went back to the binding of Isaac. When Abraham was ready to offer his own son as a sacrifice to God, this same Book of Fourth Maccabees states: “Isaac offered himself for the sake of righteousness…. Isaac did not shrink when he saw the knife lifted against him by his father’s hand” (4 Maccabees 13:12; 16:20). This was the understanding of the rabbis. They believed that Isaac was a grown man (actually, thirty-seven years old!) when God tested Abraham, commanding him to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis sis 22). Although the biblical account emphasizes the obedience of Abraham, the rabbis also stressed the obedience of Isaac. In fact, there is a midrash that says at the time of creation, when God was about to make man, the angels asked what man’s significance was. One of his answers was this: “You shall see a father slay his son, and the son consenting to be slain, to sanctify my Name” (Tanhuma, Vayyera, sec. 18). That was the height of sacrificial service: A father offering up his own son, and the son willingly laying down his life for the glory of God. Yes, I know that sounds like the gospel. In fact, the midrash compares Isaac, who carried on his shoulder the wood for the burnt offering (himself!), to “one who carries his cross on his own shoulder.”270”. (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus: Volume Two-Theological Objections, 158-159 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

Third, Jesus and Isaac are referred to the “only begotten son” (Genesis 22:1-2; Hebrews 11:17; John 3:16).  

Fourth, notice that it was on the “third day” that this sacrifice and ‘resurrection” take place (Genesis 22:4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).  

Fifth, notice the “thicket” in which the ram’s head is caught (Genesis 22:13). Then compare with the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on His head (Matthew 27:29).  

“I mentioned earlier that I think we would all agree that in Abraham being commanded to offer up Isaac, this prefigured God offering up His Only-Begotten Son. But I never noticed the significance of some of the specific details until the early Christians pointed them out. For example, the account reads: “So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together” (Gen 22: 6). Do you see something there that happened in the life of Christ? As I mentioned, I think we all realize that Isaac represents Christ in this scene. Who carries the wood to the place of sacrifice? Isaac. Likewise, Jesus started out having to carry his own cross, until he was physically unable. There’s another interesting detail. Once God stopped Abraham from offering up Isaac, He pointed to a ram. Again, I think we would all recognize this ram as also prefiguring Christ. It says in our English Bibles: “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns” (Gen 22: 13). However, the Septuagint says that the ram was caught “in a sabek plant” by its horns. Now, the sabek plant was a thorny, Mideastern plant. Do you get the picture? The ram’s head was surrounded by thorns, just as Jesus’ head was circumscribed by the crown of thorns.” (David Bercot, Shadows Of Christ In The Old Testament, 323-332 (Kindle Edition); Amberson, PA; Scroll Publishing) 

Finally, notice this interesting fact about the horns of the ram: 

“The ram’s horn has its institution, its point of origin, in the Aqedah , the offering of Isaac at the hands of Abraham, when God provided the substitutionary ram. The ram had two horns, the left called “the first trump” and the right called “the last trump.” I believe the “last trump” is directly tied to the Feast of Trumpets without any connection to the judgment trumpets. The celebration traditionally involves the sounding of specific trumpet blasts on the shofar. There is first a single long sounding called T’qiah followed by three short blasts called Sh’varim. The T’ruah comes next, nine blasts in rapid succession. Even though each sounding of the shofar includes different numbers of blasts, the total length of the three are equal to each other. These three sets of blasts are repeated three times. Then the shofar is sounded one last time, the T’qiah g’dolah , a long, triumphant blast that lasts as long as the shofar blower has breath. This is the climax of the Feast of Trumpets, the great blowing of the T’qiah g’dolah. It’s not a display of judgment, but an audible pronouncement of victory!” (Chuck Missler & Dan Stolebarger, The Feasts Of Israel, 533-542 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

1 Corinthians 15:51-52-51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The Passover Lamb 

One of the most important sacrifices of the Old Testament was the Passover lamb.

When God brought His judgments on the nation of Egypt, He instructed the Hebrews to put the blood of slain lambs on their homes. When the angel of God witnessed the blood, he would “pass over” the homes of the Hebrews (Exodus 12). The Hebrews were to commemorate this every year in the Passover feast (Leviticus 23:5). The New Testament is clear that these sacrifices were foreshadowing Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7).  

Amazingly, the ritual of the Passover itself pointed towards the cross of Christ: 

“The lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit pierces right through from the lower parts up to the head, and another one pierces the lamb across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb. (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.215.)

Moses With Arms Lifted Up

In the Old Testament, we read about how when the Hebrews went to battle with their enemies, Moses would raise his hands towards Heaven (probably in prayer). When this happened, the people would advance in battle; but when he would drop his hands, the people would lose ground.

In Exodus, we find this interesting passage: 

Exodus 17:9-13-9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”

10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

“The Spirit spoke to the heart of Moses, that he should make a figure of the cross. . . . Moses therefore placed one weapon above another in the midst of the hill, and standing upon it, so as to be higher than all the people, he stretched forth his hands, and thus again Israel acquired the mastery.” (Barnabas (c. 70–130, E), 1.145.)

“Moses himself prayed to God, stretching out both hands, and Hur with Aaron supported them during the whole day. . . . For if he gave up any part of this sign, which was an imitation of the cross, the people were beaten.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.244.)

First, notice that Moses was on a hill (just like Jesus).  

Second, Moses’ arms were stretched out in the form of a cross.  

Third, his arms had to be held in place (like Jesus’ arms were held in place).  

Fourth, it was only through the sign of the cross that the people were victorious.  

The Camping Arrangement Of The Tribes

In the Old Testament, there were specific regulations for the Hebrews regarding where they were to camp (Numbers 2:3, 10, 18, 25).  

For a long time, I wondered why God had given specific regulations for such a seemingly unimportant subject. Then, I found this: 

“Each of the camps, of three tribes each, were to encamp on one of the four cardinal compass directions (N, S, E, or W) with respect to the camp of the Levites enclosing the Tabernacle. 98 We can only guess at how much space was required by the Levites, whether it was 100 ft. on a side, 100 yards, or whatever. But whatever it was, we’ll assume that length as a basic unit. To fully appreciate all of the implications, you must try to think like a rabbi: you need to maintain an extremely high respect for the precise details of the instructions. They resorted to heroic measures in their attempt to comply with the letter of the law. The tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun—collectively called the Camp of Judah—had to encamp east of the Levites. This poses a technical problem. Notice that if the breadth of their camp was larger than that of the Levites, the excess would be southeast or northeast, not east. Therefore, if they were to strictly comply with their instructions, their camp could only be as wide as that of the Levites, and they then would have to extend eastward to obtain the required space. The camps of Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan had the same constraint on the south, west, and north respectively. The length of each leg would thus be proportional to the total population in each camp….If we assemble what we can infer from the Torah account, we can imagine what the camp of Israel looked like from above: the Tabernacle and the Levites in the center, surrounded by the four faces of the tribal standards, and each of the four camps of Judah, Ephraim, Reuben, and Dan, stretching out in the four cardinal directions. We can also tally the approximate size of each tribe to determine the relative length of each camp as they stretched out in each of the four cardinal directions. The startling results are on the next page….It would appear that when the Israelites encamped, they formed a giant cross! This is a graphic macrocode, indeed! And this is from the Torah, not the New Testament! The New Testament is, indeed, in the Old Testament concealed; the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.” (Chuck Missler, Hidden Treasures In The Biblical Text, 925-947 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816-0347 http://www.khouse.org; Koinonia House) 

First, in the center of the camp was the Tabernacle, which represented the dwelling place of God on Earth.  

Second, the people of God had to be in the cross in order to be in fellowship with God.  

If we want to have fellowship with God, it is only when we are one of His people, brought to Him through the cross.  

Ephesians 2:16-and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

The Serpent On The Cross

When the Hebrews were afflicted because of their wickedness, God instructed Moses how to heal the people.  

Numbers 21:7-9-7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”

9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

In the New Testament, Jesus points out that this was a foreshadowing of how He would be “lifted up” on the cross to provide healing for those who would be obedient to Him: 

John 3:14-15-14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

The Sign Of The Cross

In Ezekiel, God instructs His angels to bring judgments on the people of Jerusalem for their wickedness.

Nevertheless, He instructs them to not punish His faithful remnant, who are to receive a special “mark.”  

Ezekiel 9:3-4-3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side;

4 and the LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

In the Book of Revelation, we see this passage symbolically applied to Christians 

Revelation 7:2-3-2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,

3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Revelation 9:4-They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Revelation 14;1-Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.

What is truly remarkable about the prophecy is the word that is used here in Ezekiel, and translated with the word “mark.”

David Bercot explains:

“A third foreshadowing of the cross is found in the book of Ezekiel. However, this foreshadowing is not as apparent in our English Bibles…The passage goes on to explain that all those in Jerusalem were destroyed, except for those who had the mark on their forehead. As I mentioned, in English, few of us would see a foreshadow of the cross in this passage. However, in both Greek and Hebrew, the foreshadowing is a lot more obvious. That’s becuase what the text actually says is that the man with the writer’s inkhorn was to put the letter T or tau on the foreheads of those who were sighing and crying over the abominations in Jerusalem. And, of course, the letter T is in the shape of the cross. But our English Bibles inaccurately translate the passage by saying that the man was simply to put a ‘mark’ on the foreheads. The foreshadowing here was even more apparent to the early Christians because they frequently traced the sign of the cross on their foreheads to demonstrate that they belonged to Jesus. In fact, at least by the year 200, after a person was baptized, the bishop would anoint him with oil by tracing the sign of the cross on the forehead of the newly baptized person.” (David Bercot, Shadows Of Christ In The Old Testament, 295-307 (Kindle Edition); Amberson, PA; Scroll Publishing)

Conclusion 

In so many incredible ways, the Bible makes it clear: it’s all about the cross.  
Friends, the God of Heaven loves you so very much that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for your sins on the cross of Calvary (John 3:16). Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He invites all people everywhere to come to Him to be saved (Matthew 11:28-30). When a person hears God’s Word (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), repents of sin (Luke 13:3), confesses Jesus Christ as God’s Son (1 Timothy 6:12), and is baptized with Christ in water (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 10:47-48), God will forgive him and add him to the church of Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 47).

When a Christian sins (Hebrews 12:1-2), the Lord will forgive him when he repents of sin and confesses it to the Lord in prayer (1 John 1:8-9).  

It’s about the cross of Christ.

Why not turn to God today?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

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Job And The Afterlife Sheol-Part Four: The Spirit

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible)
Quotation For Consideration 



“The complete man is composed of flesh, soul, and spirit. One of these does indeed preserve and fashion [the man]—the spirit. It is united and formed to another—the flesh. Then there is that which is between these two—the soul. The soul is sometimes indeed raised up by it, when it follows the spirit. But sometimes the soul sympathizes with the flesh and falls into carnal lusts. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.534.”

Introduction 

In our last study we noticed some of the characteristics of the “soul” as used throughout the Bible. We are going to continue our study of the Afterlife and Sheol by now examining the word “spirit” as used throughout the Old and New Testaments.  

The word “spirit” is used quite often in Job. Here are a few of the passages where this word is used throughout Job’s Book:

Job 4:15-Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up.

Job 7:11- “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Job 17:1-“My spirit is broken, My days are extinguished, The grave is ready for me.

Job 20:3-I have heard the rebuke that reproaches me, And the spirit of my understanding causes me to answer.

Job 32:8-But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.

Job 32:18-For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me.
Ruach In The Old Testament

The word “ruach” is the word that is translated as “spirit” in our English Bibles. It is used over 385 times in the Old Testament.

This Hebrew word is translated in the following ways in the King James Version of the Bible: spirit (227); wind (82); breath (27); winds (11); mind (6); side (5); spirits (5); blast (4); vain (2); air (1); anger (1); cool (1); courage (1); quarters (1); spiritual (1); sides (1); spiritual (1); temptest (1); whirlwind (1); and windy (1).  

When we consider the wide range of meaning to this word, we see the need to carefully study the context of the passages where the word is used, to understand and appreciate the specific meaning and usage of that word.

Interesting Facts About Ruach

Let’s notice some of the ideas behind the word ruach.  

The first and most obvious use of “ruach” is in reference to God Himself.

Sometimes the word “Spirit” is applied to the the entire Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); and at other times, the word is used to have special reference to the Holy Spirit as distinct from God the Father and God the Son.

For example: 

Genesis 1:1-2-1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Isaiah 48:16-16 “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”

Sometimes, this word may have reference to storms, winds, and whirlwinds (Genesis 8:1; Isaiah 7:2).

It can also refer to the “breath of life,” and therefore carry the idea of the essence of life itself (Genesis 6:17; Ezekiel 37:8). In fact, ruach can refer (in some contexts) to “breath” itself (Job 9:18).

However, in several passages, the ruach is shown to be distinct from the breath. For example:

Job 34:14-If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, 

Psalm 31:5-Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Ruach can refer to certain attitudes or dispositions. We are told that there was no more spirit in the people of Canaan when they were frightened, discouraged and disheartened by the Hebrews (Joshua 5:1).

We read also that it is better to be patient in spirit (ruach) than proud in spirit (Ecclesiastes 7:8-9). We are reminded that a fool vents all of his anger (ruach-Proverbs 29:11).  

We see therefore that the word ruach can have reference to emotions, attitudes, and dispositions of humans.  

Ruach may refer to intelligent non-physical beings. We see this especially in the Book of Job. Eliphaz speaks of the words that were given to him by a “spirit” to speak to Job: 

Job 4:12-16-12 “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it.

13 In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men,

14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake.

15 Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up.

16 It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; There was silence; Then I heard a voice saying:

It is also interesting to notice that often in the Old Testament, the words ruach (spirit) and nephesh (soul) may be used interchangeably: 

Isaiah 26:9-With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Job 7:11-Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Ruach is used several times in the Old Testament to have reference to the spiritual “essence” of man, as distinct from the physical body:  

Numbers 16:22-Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”

Ecclesiastes 12:7-Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Job 32:8-But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.

Job 32:18-For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me.

Isaiah 31:3-Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out His hand, Both he who helps will fall, And he who is helped will fall down; They all will perish together.

Zechariah 12:1-The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:

Daniel 7:15-I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

Spirit In The New Testament
(Pneuma) 

The word translated as “spirit” in the New Testament is the Greek word “pneuma.”

Like its’ Old Testament counterpart (ruach), pneuma may be translated in several ways in our English language.

The word itself is used 385 times in the Greek New Testament, and is translated in the following ways in the King James Version of the Bible: spirit (257); ghost (92); spirits (32); life (1); spiritual (1); spiritually (1); and wind (1).    

Interesting Facts About Pneuma In The New Testament Scriptures

Sometimes in the Scriptures, pneuma may refer to the wind itself (John 3:8; Hebrews 1:7).

Not surprisingly, the word “spirit” can also be used to describe the “breath” (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 11:11; 13:15).  

There are also times when the word pneuma has specific reference to the Holy Spirit of God (Matthew 3:11; John 1:32). Sometimes He is referred to as the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ (Matthew 3:16; 12:28; Luke 1:35; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Peter 1:11).  

There are times when pneuma may refer to “unclean spirits,” or demons, which are the spirits of the wicked dead who (for whatever reason) do not pass on to Sheol (Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:33; 9:39; 11:24).

Alexander Campbell, in his famous studies in demonology, shows us that this was indeed the meaning of the Greek word daimon: 

“But to our proposition: We have, from a careful survey of the history of the term demon, concluded that the demons of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity were the ghosts of dead men. But we build not only upon the definition of the term, nor on its philological history; but upon the following seven pillars:–1. All the Pagan authors of note, whose works have survived the wreck of ages, affirm the opinion that demons were the spirits or ghosts of dead men. From Hesiod down to the more polished Celsus, their historians, poets, and philosophers occasionally express this opinion. 2. The Jewish historians, Josephus and Philo, also avow this conviction. Josephus says, “Demons are the spirits of wicked men, who enter into living men and destroy them, unless they are so happy as to meet with speedy relief. Philo says, “The souls of dead men are called demons.” 3. The Christian Fathers, Justin Martyr, Ireneus, Origen, &c. depose to the same effect. Justin, when arguing for a future state, alleges, “Those who are seized and tormented by the souls of the dead, whom all call demons, and madmen.” Lardner, after examining with the most laborious care the works of these, and all the Fathers of the first two centuries, says, “The notion of demons, or the souls of dead men, having power over living men, was universally prevalent among the heathen of these times, and believed by many Christians. 4. The Evangelists and Apostles of Jesus Christ so understood the matter. As this is a very important, and of itself a sufficient pillar on which to rest our edifice, we shall be at more pains to illustrate and enforce it. We shall first state the philological law or canon of criticism, on the generality and truth of which all our dictionaries, grammars, and translations are formed. Every word not specially explained or defined in a particular sense, by any standard writer of any particular age and country, is to be taken and applied in the current or commonly received signification of that country and age in which the writer lived and wrote. If this canon of translation and of criticism be denied, then we affirm there is no value in dictionaries, nor in the acquisition of ancient languages in which any book may be written; nor is there any confidence in any translation of any ancient work, sacred or profane: for they are all made upon the assumption of the truth of this law…We have heard Josephus, Philo, Lucian, Justin, and Lardner, from whose writings and affirmations we are expressly told what the universal acceptation of the term was in Judea and in those times; and in the second place, the Apostles and our Lord, as already said, use this word in various forms 75 times, and on no occasion give any hint of a special, private, or peculiar interpretation of it; which was not their method when they used a term either not generally understood, or understood in a special sense….Are we not, therefore, sustained by the highest and most authoritative decision of that literary tribunal by whose rules and decrees all works sacred and profane are translated from a dead to a living tongue? We are, then, fully authorized to say that the demons of the New Testament were the spirits of dead men.” (Alexander Campbell, Demonology, 138-167 (Kindle Edition))

Pneuma is also used in the New Testament to refer to angels of God (Hebrews 1:7, 14), as well as to attitudes and dispositions of mankind.

So we have John the Baptist going forth in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).

We see Paul reminding Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

We remember Peter talking about godly wives who convert their husbands through a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).

In this connection, we are also reminded that pneuma may have reference to the desires and perceptions of a person (2 Corinthians 12:18; Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:23).  

Finally, please notice that often in the New Testament, pneuma has reference to the thoughts and mind-the essence-of a person, as distinguished from their physical body.
Here a few passages which bear this meaning out: 

Luke 24:36-43-36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.”

37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.

38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.

41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?”

42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.

43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

Acts 7:59-And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

1 Corinthians 2:11-For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Hebrews 12:23-to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,

James 2:26-For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

1 Peter 4:6-For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Conclusion

Steve Bond provides an excellent overview of the word “spirit” as used in both the Old and New Testaments:

“In both the OT and NT, “spirit” is used of humans and of other beings. When used of humans, spirit is associated with a wide range of functions including thinking and understanding, emotions, attitudes, and intentions. Elihu told Job it was spirit in a person, the breath of God, which gave understanding (Job 32:8). When Jesus healed the paralytic, He perceived in His “spirit” that the religious leaders present were questioning His forgiving the man’s sins (Mark 2:8). “Spirit” is used extensively with human emotions including sorrow (Prov. 15:4,13), anguish (Exod. 6:9; John 13:21), anger (Prov. 14:29; 16:32), vexation (Eccles. 1:14), fear (2 Tim. 1:7), and joy (Luke 1:47). A variety of attitudes and intentions are associated with “spirit.” Caleb had a different spirit than most of his contemporaries in that he followed the Lord wholeheartedly (Num. 14:24). Sihon, king of Heshbon, had a stubborn spirit (Deut. 2:30). First Kings 22 refers to a lying spirit. The psalmist called persons who have no deceit in their spirits, “blessed” (Ps. 32:2). A person’s spirit can be contrite (Ps. 34:18), steadfast (Ps. 51:10), willing (Ps. 51:12), broken (Ps. 51:17), and haughty (Prov. 16:18). The Gospel of Mark has numerous references to Jesus healing persons with unclean or foul spirits. Spirit is used of nonphysical beings, both good and evil. Satan is called the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient (Eph. 2:2). One of the perennial points of conflict between the Sadducees and the Pharisees was over whether there are angels and spirits. The latter believed that there were such while the former denied that such existed. When the risen Christ appeared to the disciples, they were startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a spirit. Jesus invited them to touch Him. He then reminded them that a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:37- 39).” (Steve Bond, “Spirit” in Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 51385-51401 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Holman Reference) 

Study Questions

 What did it mean that the Canaanites had no more spirit (Joshua 5:1)? _________________________________________________________________________________________

In what passage does the Apostle Paul teach that the spirit of man includes his thoughts? ____________________

What are some ways that the Hebrew word ruach are translated in the King James Version of the Old Testament? _________________________________________________________________

Who are some ancient authors who point out that the word daimon had reference to the wicked dead? ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Fill in the blanks:

“______________ are the ______________ of wicked _____, who enter into living men and _____________ them, unless they are so happy as to meet with speedy relief.” (Josephus)

“The __________ of ________ ______ are called demons.” (Philo) 

When Jesus arose from the dead, what were some of the evidences He used to convince His Apostles that He was not a spirit (Luke 24:36-43)? 

For Prayer Partners

In our studies, we have learned that Sheol is the realm of departed spirits. Yet we have also learned that not all of the dead go to this realm. Why do you think this is the case? What could be the reasons why some of the dead do not pass on to Sheol? 

We have learned that often in the Bible, the words “soul” and “spirit may be used interchangeably. However, sometimes the Bible makes a distinction between the soul and the spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12). What are the differences between the soul and the spirit?  

Job And The Afterlife Sheol-Part Three: The Soul

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible)

Quotation For Consideration

“Understand how that there is within you that entity that is called the soul. By it, the eye sees; by it, the ear hears; by it, the mouth speaks. Understand how it makes use of the whole body. Understand how, whenever He pleases to remove the soul from the body, the body falls to decay and perishes. Melito (c. 170, E), 8.754.”

Introduction 

Throughout Job’s teaching on the Afterlife, we see that the “soul” of man is the part which will enter into this “world of the dead” or “Sheol.”  

Job 33:22-Yes, his soul draws near the Pit, And his life to the executioners.

Job 33:28-He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, And his life shall see the light.

Job 33:29-30-29 “Behold, God works all these things, Twice, in fact, three times with a man,

30 To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.

Yet what exactly does the word “soul” mean?

Some believe that the word “soul” simply means “person.”

Others teach that it means “life.”

Still others advocate that the word “soul” has reference to the spirit of man.  

What are the facts?  

Let’s study.  

“Soul” In The Old Testament (Nephesh)

The Hebrew word nephesh is translated with several different words in the King James Version of the Old Testament.  

Soul (416), Life (100), Souls (58), Lives (18),Persons (16), Person (14), Heart (12), Mind (11), Himself (10), Body (9), Creature (9), Dead (8), Yourselves (8), Desire (5), Man (4), Minds (4), Pleasure (4), Will (4), Any (3), Beast (3), Themselves (3), Appetite (2), Ghost (2), Hearts (2), Lust (2), Thing (2), Angry(1), Breath (1), Angry (1), Deadly (1), Discontented (1), Fish (1), Greedy (1) , Heart’s (1), Hearty (1), Herself (1), Men (1), Mortally (1), Myself (1) , One (1), Own (1), Slay (1) , Slayeth (1), Soul’s (1), Tablets (1), Thyself (1), Would (1)

As you can see, the Old Testament word nephesh has a rich etymology.

To understand how the specific word should be rendered, translators must carefully examine the context of the passage where nephesh is used.  

Interesting Facts About Nephesh

Let’s notice some important facts about the word “soul” as used in the Old Testament, and that are especially relevant to our study on the Book of Job.  

Humans And Animals Have Nephesh 

Genesis 1:20-Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”

Genesis 1:30-Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

Genesis 2:7-And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 6:17-17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

Genesis 7:15-And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life.

Genesis 7:21-23-21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man.

22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died.

23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.

“”Am I suggesting animals have souls? Certainly they do not have human souls. Animals aren’t created in God’s image, and they aren’t equal to humans in any sense. Nonetheless, there’s a strong biblical case for animals having non- human souls. I didn’t take this seriously until I studied the usage of the Hebrew and Greek words nephesh and psyche, often translated “soul” when referring to humans. (Nephesh is translated psyche in the Septuagint.). The fact that these words are often used of animals is compelling evidence that they have non-human souls. That’s what most Christians in the past believed. In their book Beyond Death, Gary Habermas and J. P. Moreland point out, “It wasn’t until the advent of seventeenth-century Enlightenment . . . that the existence of animal souls was even questioned in Western civilization. Throughout the history of the church, the classic understanding of living things has included the doctrine that animals, as well as humans, have souls.”” (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, 7114-7223 (Kindle Edition); Carol Stream, Illinois; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 

“Nephesh” Sometimes Meant “Body” 

Leviticus 21:11-nor shall he go near any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or his mother;

Numbers 6:6-All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body.

Numbers 19:13-Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him.

Haggai 2:13-And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?” So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”

“Nephesh” Is Often Distinguished From The “Body

Isaiah 10:18-And it will consume the glory of his forest and of his fruitful field, Both soul and body; And they will be as when a sick man wastes away.

Deuteronomy 12:23-Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat.

Job 14:22-But his flesh will be in pain over it, And his soul will mourn over it.”

Psalm 63:1-O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.

Psalm 43:5-Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

“Nephesh” Often Refers To The Spiritual (Non-Physical) Element 

Genesis 23:8-And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish that I bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and meet with Ephron the son of Zohar for me,

Genesis 42:21-Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”

Leviticus 26:16-I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

Leviticus 26;43-The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes.

Numbers 21:5-And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”

Deuteronomy 21:14-And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled her.

1 Samuel 2:33-But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age.

1 Kings 17:21-22-21 And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.”

22 Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.

Speaking of this use of the word, Ron Rhodes has written: 

“It is true that in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for soul (nephesh) can be used in reference to a living being.20 Genesis 2:7 is clearly an example of this. But because the word can be used in this sense does not mean that it is limited to this sense, or that man does not have an immaterial nature….Besides referring to “living beings,” the word nephesh is also used in the Old Testament to speak of the seat of the emotions and experiences. Man’s nephesh can be sad (Deuteronomy 28:65), grieved (Job 30:25), in pain (Psalm 13:2), distressed (Genesis 42:21), bitter (Job 3:20), troubled (Psalm 6:3), and cheered (Psalm 86:4). Clearly, man’s soul can experience a wide range of emotional ups and downs. In this sense, nephesh seems to refer to the “inner man” within the human being. This is consistent with verses like 2 Kings 4:27, where we read, “The man of God said, ‘Let her alone, for her soul is troubled within her’” (NASB). Likewise, Psalm 42:6 says, “My soul is cast down within me,” and Psalm 43:5 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning From The Scriptures With The Jehovah’s Witnesses, 308-309 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House publishers) 

“Soul” In The New Testament (Psuche) 

The word “soul” in the New Testament is from the Greek psuche.

It is used 105 times, and is translated in the following ways: Soul (39), Life (36), Souls (19), Lives (5), Minds (2), Doubt (1), Heart (1), Heartily (1), Mind (1).

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon provides the following helpful definition: 

breath; 1a) the breath of life; 1a1) the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing; 1a1a) of animals; 1a1b) of men; 1b) life; 1c) that in which there is life; 1c1) a living being, a living soul; 2) the soul; 2a) the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.); 2b) the (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life; 2c) the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)” (Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, 677).  

Interesting Facts About Psuche 

Like with the Old Testament nephew, the word psuche has some very interesting lessons for us. Let’s notice several.  

Psuche May Refer To The Whole Person 

Acts 2:41-Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Acts 7:14-Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people.

Romans 13:1-Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

1 Peter 3:20-who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Psuche May Refer To Life Itself 

Luke 14;26-If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

John 13:38-Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

Acts 20:24-But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Romans 11:3-“LORD, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS AND TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY SEEK MY LIFE”?

Psuche Is Often Distinguished From The Physical Body

Matthew 6:25-Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 10:28-And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 11:29-Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Acts 2:27-FOR YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HADES, NOR WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION.

Revelation 6:9-11-9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Revelation 20:4-4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Notice especially these last two references in Revelation. The phrase “the souls of” is very interesting.

Maurice Barnett has pointed out: 

“TOON ESPHAGMENOON-the term here is genitive case of a perfect passive participle. This demands the meaning SOULS OF THE ONES SLAIN. If the meaning was intended to be the PERSONS that had been slain the above particple would have been in the accusative case to agree with PSUCHAS, souls.” (Maurice Barnett, Jehovah’s Witnesses: Volume Two, 9; Cullman, Alabama; Printing Service) 
“Soul” Is Often Used interchangably With “Spirit”

While the next lesson will focus exclusively on the definition of the word “spirit,” it is worthwhile to notice here that often in the Bible, “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeably.

For example:

Job 7:11-Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Isaiah 26:9-With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. 

Conclusion

The word “soul” as used in the Bible often had reference to the spiritual nature or essence of a person, especially as distinguished from the physical body.

It is the soul which enters into Sheol at the point of death.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Study Questions 

 What are some renderings for the word “soul” in the King James Version of the Bible? ________________________________________________________________________________________________

List some passages which show that the word “soul” in the New Testament was different from the body. _______________________________________________________________________________

What evidence from the Bible shows that animals have souls? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are some of the different emotions related to the word “soul” in the Bible? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

List two passages which show that the word “soul” could be used interchangeably with the word “spirit.”  

For Prayer Partners 

1. Discuss the fact that the Bible teaches animas have “souls.” How are animals souls like human souls? How are they different? What happens to animal souls when the animal dies? Will animals be in Heaven? Support your answers with Scripture.  

Job And The Afterlife Sheol-Part Two: Death

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the Contemporary English Version) 

Quotation For Consideration

“By Bishop Brent A ship sails and I stand watching till she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says She is gone. Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large now as when I last saw her. Her diminished size and total loss from my sight is in me, not in her. And just at that moment, when someone at my side says she is gone, there are others who are watching her coming over their horizon and other voices take up a glad shout -There she comes! That is what dying is. An horizon and just the limit of our sight. Lift us up O Lord, that we may see further.” (D. Dowden, The Eulogy: Quotes, Poems & Songs For Eulogies And Funerals When There Are No Words, 119-123 (Kindle Edition); Norman, Oklahoma; MSI Publishing) 

Questions For Contemplation 

 What exactly is “death?” 

Does the Bible teach that humans cease to exist when they die? 

What does Job teach us about death? 

Introduction

In our last study, we noticed that the Book of Job teaches us a great deal about death and the afterlife.

In particular, we learned that the Old Testament saints understood that souls go to a place called Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek) at the point of death.

Far from being a state of unconsciousness, the Word of God teaches that in Sheol, God’s people are conscious and aware.

It was also demonstrated that the souls of the saved dead are reunited in this world of the dead. Further, we learned that the souls in Hades knew that their time in this realm was temporary; indeed, that when the Lord came, they would be resurrected at the end of time.  

In our second study of Sheol, we will more closely examine what Job teaches us about death itself.  

Death In The Book Of Job

Job spends a great deal of time discussing the subject of death. Notice several statements from the Book of akin about death: 

Job 1:21-and said: “We bring nothing at birth; we take nothing with us at death. The LORD alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the LORD!”

Job 3:21- I keep longing for death more than I would seek a valuable treasure.

Job 12:22 (NKJV)-He uncovers deep things out of darkness, And brings the shadow of death to light.

Job 30:23 (NKJV)-For I know that You will bring me to death, And to the house appointed for all living.

Job 38:17 (NKJV)-Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?

Job understood that death was something which would be the fate of all persons. Indeed, the only exceptions to this are Enoch (Hebrews 11:5), Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-16), and those who are alive when Christ Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 15:51).  

It is also clear that Job recognized death as the state which bring him to Sheol. Indeed, there is a clear connection between death and the “world of the dead.”  
We also see that Job saw death as a release from the suffering which he faced. 

The Definition Of Death 

Yet what exactly IS death?  

In our world, we have come to think of death as annihilation; the cessation of life. However, that is not a Scriptural understanding of death.

The word death actually means “separation.”  

“1. thanatos (2288), “death,” is used in Scripture of: (a) the separation of the soul (the spiritual part of man) from the body (the material part), the latter ceasing to function and turning to dust, e.g., John 11:13; Heb. 2:15; 5:7; 7:23.” (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 27159 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers) 

“thanatos means “death.” It is used in the NT to describe physical death (the separation of the soul from the body) and spiritual death (the separation of a human being from God), though these two concepts can be closely linked in Scripture. The term never indicates nonexistence…” (William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words Copyright, 6797 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zomdervan) 

In Scripture, physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. 
Genesis 35:18 (NKJV)-And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

1 Kings 17:20-21 (NKJV)-21 And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.”

22 Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NKJV)-Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.

James 2:26 (NKJV)-For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

In the same way, the Bible teaches us that spiritual death is separation from God as a result of our personal sins.  

Genesis 2:16-17-16 But the LORD told him, “You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden,

17 except the one that has the power to let you know the difference between right and wrong. If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over!”

Isaiah 59:1-2-1 The LORD hasn’t lost his powerful strength; he can still hear and answer prayers.

2 Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face.

Romans 6:23-Sin pays off with death. But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10-7 but he will give you relief from your troubles. He will do the same for us, when the Lord Jesus comes from heaven with his powerful angels

8 and with a flaming fire. Our Lord Jesus will punish anyone who doesn’t know God and won’t obey his message.

9 Their punishment will be eternal destruction, and they will be kept far from the presence of our Lord and his glorious strength.

10 This will happen on that day when the Lord returns to be praised and honored by all who have faith in him and belong to him. This includes you, because you believed what we said.

The “Decease” Of The Apostle Peter 
The Apostle Peter discusses his impending death. He writes the following to the brethren:

2 Peter 1:15 (NKJV)-Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

Speaking of the word “decease,” William Barclay points out some interesting facts:

“Peter looks ahead to his early death. He talks of his body as his tent, as Paul does (2 Corinthians 5:4). This was a favourite picture with the early Christian writers. The Epistle to Diognetus says: ‘The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tent.’ The picture comes from the journeyings of the patriarchs in the Old Testament. They had no permanent residence, but lived in tents because they were on the way to the promised land. Christians know that life in this world is not a permanent residence but a journey towards the world beyond. We get the same idea in verse 15. There, Peter speaks of his approaching death as his exodos, his departure. Exodos is, of course, the word which is used for the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, and their setting out to the promised land. Peter sees death not as the end but as the going out into the promised land of God.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters Of James And Peter, 355 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

Conclusion

Sheol was (is) the realm of the dead. The souls of humans enter into this world at the moment of death, which is the separation of the spirit from the body.

The Book of Job also makes it clear that Job looked upon death as a release from his sufferings and as a passage which would reunite him with his family and loved ones who had died before him.  

Study Questions

 What are some lessons that Job teaches us about death? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

According to the Bible, what exactly is death? Please provide Scripture references in your answer. _________________________________________________________________________________________________

Name two people that have never died. ___________________________________________

When Peter discussed his death, he used the Greek word exodos. What do we learn about death from this word? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Prayer Partners

1. What are some questions that you have about death?  

Job And The Afterlife Sheol-Part One

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible)

Quotation For Contemplation

“The next thing Josef felt was the cold barrel pressed against the base of his skull…The strangest thing happened next. Josef’s breathing eased, his heart calmed, his mind cleared. It was as if liquid assurance were being poured, and his body was the receptacle. His fear vanished. Years of theological study, all theory up until this day, suddenly became real to him. The life that he’d experienced paled to insignificance compared to the life that awaited him. At that moment he realized no amount of suffering, or hardship, or pain, or heartache in this life would be remembered one second after a person first tasted the glory of heaven….Josef smiled. He began to sing: And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The crack of a Gestapo pistol echoed through the woods.” (Jack Cavanaugh, While Mortals Sleep: Songs In The Night, Book One, 3430-3437 (Kindle Edition); Threshold Publishing; http://www.jackcavanaugh.com
Questions For Consideration 
 What is Sheol? 

How can an understanding of Sheol help me during times of grief? 

Did the Hebrews believe in an afterlife? 
Introduction 

Throughout the Book of Job, we learn many lessons about the subject of death and the afterlife. Indeed, the afterlife was looked upon by Job as an encouragement, a place of peace and serenity that would free him from the suffering he was being subjected to. In his confused state, he did not understand why God was allowing him to suffer (or in his understanding, why God was punishing him for things which he had not done).

Through all of his ordeals, and in spite of his questions, death was viewed as a welcome voyage to the world of the dead.  

From the Book of Job, we learn several things about death and the afterlife which are worthy of our attention.  

“Sheol” In The Book Of Job 

The Old Testament word “Sheol” was the word that was used primarily to have reference to the realm of the dead. In the Contemporary English Version, this word is usually translated as “the world of the dead.”

Before doing an in-depth study of Sheol, let’s consider the different passages where this realm is referenced in Job.  

Job 7:9-I will disappear in the grave or vanish from sight like a passing cloud.

Job 11:8-They are higher than the heavens and deeper than the grave. So what can you do when you know so little,

Job 17:16-Will it keep me company in the world of the dead?

Job 21:13-and they are successful, without a worry, until the day they die.

Job 24:19-Just as the heat of summer swallows the snow, the world of the dead swallows those who sin.

Job 26:6-Nothing in that land of death and destruction is hidden from God,

Throughout Job, the subject of “death” is obviously connected with Sheol. As such, Job (and the rest of the Old Testament) provide further enlightenment about Sheol.

Mounce has written: 

“(3) In some places in the OT, death is considered a place, equivalent to Sheol (e.g., Ps. 89:48; Song 8:6; see grave). It is a dusty place (Ps. 22:15) that has many chambers (Prov. 7:27). As one faces death, one feels like a person caught in a trap (Ps. 18:5) or tied up with cords (116:3). And as one enters into its realm, one passes through gates (Job 38:17; Ps. 9:13). While these may be metaphors, they do present a vivid picture of the reality of death.” (William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words Copyright, 6779 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan) 

“Sheol” As Translated In The King James Version

The word “Sheol” is translated with several different words in nearly every translation.

Following is a list of every occurrence of the word in the Old Testament Scriptures, along with its’ rendering in the King James Version of the Bible:

Hell

Deuteronomy 32:22; 2 Samuel 22:6; Job 11:8; Job 26:6; Psalm 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; 116:3; 139:8; Proverbs 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11, 24; 23:14; 27:20; Isaiah 5:14; 14:9; 28:15, 18; 57:9; Ezekiel 31:16-17; 32:21, 27; Jonah 2:2; Habakkuk 2:5

Grave 

Genesis 37:35; 42:38; 44:29, 31; 1 Kings 2:6, 9; Job 7:9; 21:13; 24:19; Psalm 6:5; 30:3; 31:17; 49:14-15; 88:3; 89:48; Proverbs 1:12; 30:16; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Song of Solomon 8:6; Isaiah 14:11; 38:10, 18; Ezekiel 31:15; Hosea 13:14

Pit

Numbers 16:30, 33; Job 17:16

Grave’s 

Psalm 141:7

Why was the word “Sheol” translated in so many different ways?

The answer to this question lies in understanding that the word could carry different meanings in different time periods. Much of the same is true in our world today. Simply consider how the word “gangster” meant “politician” in the 1920’s!

Speaking of this important aspect of the history of the word Sheol, Blanchard has written: 

“What did the Old Testament writers mean by ‘Sheol’? The answer seems to be that the word was used to mean different but related things at different times. It is interesting to see how some of our best-known English translations of the Bible handle this. In the Authorized Version, first published in 1611, ‘Sheol’ is translated ‘hell’ thirty-one times, ‘grave’ thirty-one times and ‘the pit’ three times. The New International Version, first published in 1979, has ‘grave’ fifty-five times, ‘death’ six times, and three other phrases for the remainder. The New American Standard Bible, first published in 1971, plays it safe by leaving Sheol untranslated, allowing the reader to determine from the context what the writer meant—though in thirty-four places it puts the note ‘i.e. the nether world’ in the margin. The English Standard Version (on which this book is based) also leaves ‘Sheol’ untranslated. In trying to pull all of this together, it is important to realize that God revealed truth progressively, with the light becoming brighter as the centuries went by, and especially as the Old Testament gave way to the New (with a gap of 400 years in between). This does not mean that the New Testament contradicts the Old; there is not a single case where this happens. Instead, the Bible has a remarkable unity, with each part taking its proper place in the whole scheme of things. There are many statements which underline the fact that although the Bible is a unity, God revealed truth gradually, adding greater intensity to the light as he went along….This is one of the Bible’s ways of telling us that the Old Testament is no less the Word of God than the New, but that in the New Testament the light is brighter. With that in mind, we are in a position to assess what the Old Testament writers had in mind when they used the word Sheol. To help us do this, I will leave the word Sheol untranslated; this will make it clear where it is being used. Firstly, there are a few cases where it seems to refer to death or the grave. When he was suffering from a serious illness, King Hezekiah of Judah was terrified at the prospect of a premature death, and cried out, ‘In the middle of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years’ (Isaiah 38:10)…Secondly, it was used in referring to the place or state to which all men go at death. One of the clearest examples of this is when the psalmist asks, ‘What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?’ (Psalm 89:48). The answer to the question is obviously, ‘No one’; everyone will ‘see death’ and be subject to ‘the power of Sheol’. Elsewhere, we are told that ‘The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up’ (1 Samuel 2:6)—and again this clearly applies to everyone….The picture we have is of a place of shadows, ‘the land of darkness and deep shadow’ (Job 10:21); of darkness, ‘The enemy … has made me sit in darkness like those long dead’ (Psalm 143:3); and of silence, ‘The dead … go down into silence’ (Psalm 115:17). The images are those of a place in which ‘the colour is gone from everything; a washed-out copy is all that remains’4 (S.F.D. Salmond) and the individual person is ‘but a shadow of his former self’. (Buis)5 In his book The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis describes his travellers going to ‘the grey town’6—his way of expressing the general feeling of Sheol that comes across in these quotations from the Old Testament. Thirdly, there are some places in which Sheol is seen as a place of punishment for the wicked. Job says of the wicked that ‘They go down to Sheol’ (Job 21:13, NASB) and that Sheol snatches away ‘those who have sinned’ (Job 24:19); David says that ‘The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God’ (Psalm 9:17); another writer says that the steps of the adulteress ‘follow the path to Sheol’ (Proverbs 5:5). It is difficult to see how the meaning of Sheol in these places can be limited to the grave or the state of being dead. If that were the case, why are warnings such as these given only to the wicked and never to the righteous? The Old Testament might not be as clear as the New Testament in its teaching on the afterlife, but there is no doubt that it does speak of a place where ‘God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil’ (Ecclesiastes 12:14) and where there will be ‘a fire … kindled by [God’s] anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol’ (Deuteronomy 32:22). We would be less than honest if we ignored statements as serious as these. Fourthly, the Old Testament teaches that for God’s people there was to be deliverance from Sheol. One of the clearest statements about this is where the psalmist says of those who trust in themselves (one of the Bible’s classic definitions of the unbeliever) that ‘They are appointed for Sheol’ and then adds, ‘But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me’ (Psalm 49:15). Another psalmist writes with equal assurance of life after death: ‘You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory’ (Psalm 73:24). The British preacher Alec Motyer is hardly exaggerating when he calls this ‘eloquent testimony to a sure hope beyond the grave’.7 The general picture of death in the Old Testament is shadowy and gloomy, but as Buis puts it, ‘There are passages here and there that reveal glimpses of a more wonderful life after death for the believer.’8 When they caught these glimpses, Old Testament believers were able to break through the natural fear of death and rejoice in the assurance that they would ‘dwell in the house of the LORD for ever’ (Psalm 23:6).” (John Blanchard, Whatever Happened To Hell? 544-596 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; EP Books) 

The Link Between “Sheol” And “Hades” 

During the third century B.C., the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into the Greek language.

This translation of the Bible was known as the Septuagint (often abbreviated as LXX, the number 70 standing for the seventy scholars who made the translation)

The history of this translation is fascinating to consider, especially in our study of Sheol:

“In 285 B.C., Ptolemy II Philadelphus funded the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. He had established a library at Alexandria in Egypt and wanted to include a copy of the Jewish Scriptures. Greek was the language of the land, and most people including the Jews spoke Greek. The Jewish people of Egypt used Hebrew primarily for ceremonial purposes, much as Roman Catholics consistently used Latin before Vatican II. Not all Jewish people had facility in Hebrew. Alexandria was one of the major literary centers of the world in those days, and according to tradition, 70 scholars (some say 72) were funded to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. Thus, the Greek work was given the name “Septuagint” from the Greek word for 70. The Septuagint translation is usually abbreviated with LXX, which is “70” in Roman numerals. The five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, were translated first, and they were done quickly though perhaps not in 72 days as the legend said. The rest of the books were likely translated within a few years, but it’s difficult to know exactly how soon they were finished. We know for certain the whole Old Testament was completely translated into Greek by the time Jesus the son of Sirach alluded to them in his Prologue in B.C. 130, but they were certainly finished long before that date….The Septuagint is a valuable document for many reasons. First of all, it demonstrates that the prophecies detailed in the Old Testament were in black and white virtually three centuries before Christ’s ministry. The existence of those prophecies are beyond dispute, because they are locked away in a book that an Egyptian king had translated into Greek several centuries before Christ’s birth. It also gives us a precise Greek rendering of the Old Testament. The translators chose their Greek terms carefully, and these help us better understand what the Alexandrian Jews of the day believed was the correct understanding of certain passages. For instance, where the Hebrew calls the offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men nephilim fallen ones the Septuagint translates them gigantes “earth born” – which had the connotation of “giants.” The Septuagint translation gives us greater insight into the Hebrew understanding of these strange hybrids. The Greek gigantes truly were giants, not just strong men or warriors. The Septuagint is also significant because it became the Bible of the early Church. The early Greek Christians used the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament along with the letters of Paul and the other apostles as their Scriptures. The Septuagint is the most- often quoted text in the New Testament, and the text can be correlated with the same passages in the Hebrew.” (Chuck Missler, How We Got Our Bible, 524-559 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

The Hebrew Sheol Was The Greek Hades

When the Septuagint translation of the Bible was made, the translators used the Greek word “Hades” in place of the Hebrew “Sheol.” This was a very interesting word for the translators to use.

Scholar Guy N. Woods, tells us about these words:

“”The Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek earlier than the beginning of the Christian era. This translation, known as the Septuagint, was started about 285 B.C., at which time the Pentateuch was translated, and subsequently, the remainder of the sacred volume. The Septuagint Version is an extremely valuable one for many reasons. It bears testimony to the text of the Old Testament far antedating the Christian religion. It establishes renderings which cannot be ascribed to the prejudicial leanings of those whose position it supports. It was the Old Testament which Christ and the apostles used, and from which the sacred writers of the New Testament, for the most part, derived their quotations. Sixty-five times the Septuagint translators met with the word Sheal in the text they were rendering. Not once did they render it gehenna, the lake of fire, not one time did they translate it by mnema, grave; sixty-one times they translated it Hades, a word which occurs eleven times in the New Testament text. It follows, therefore, that Hades, in Greek, is the exact equivalent of Sheol, in Hebrew. But, Sheol, in Hebrew, designates the realm of disembodied spirits. Such, then, is the significance of Hades in the Greek text. This word, as we have earlier seen, has been transliterated-given English form and spelling-and inserted into the American Standard text…Hades is the realm of disembodied spirits because, (1) it is the rendering of the Hebrew Sheol which designates such a place in the Old Testament scriptures. (2) Such is the meaning assigned to the word by the classical Greek dictionaries which reflect its usage by the Greeks. The oldest and perhaps one of the most intluential of the Greek authors says in the first line of the Iliad that the wrath of Achilles “hurled many valiant souls of heroes down to Hades.” This usage, common to all of the Greek authors from the one here cited-Homer—–io the times of the Christian era, is so clear and the testimony is so abundant that those who are influenced by evidence regard the case as closed. That the reader may have opportunity to consider these definitions in the language of the lexicographers, we cite the following which we have copied from the original sources themselves: Liddell & Scott: “The unseen.” T. S. Green: “The invisible abode or mansion of the dead.” W. J. Hickie: “The place of departed spirits.” Robinson: “The abode of the dead.” Sophocles: “The under-world-the world of departed spirits.” Thayer: “The common receptacle of disembodied spirits.” This list might be indefinitely lengthened, but it is surely unnecessary to accumulate evidence of that which no informed person denies: that Hades designates the realm of the conscious dead. Such was the significance of the term as it was used by the classical Greek authors, and such is the use to which it is put in the New Testament scriptures.” (Guy N. Woods’s, Questions And Answers, 6448-6480 (Kindle Edition); Henderson, TN; Freed-Hardeman University) 

In this introductory study, let’s notice some of the specific facts that the Book of Job (and the rest of the Old and New Testaments) reveals to us about this “world of the dead.”

Sheol Was Mysterious 

God did not reveal a great deal to the Old Testament saints about the world of the dead. Indeed, when we study the Scriptures, we see that His revelation to the ancients was progressive. As such, there were many questions and unknown factors about Sheol which permeated the discussion of the Old Testament people of God.

William Barclay has well pointed out:

“This passage has found a place in the creed in the phrase: ‘He descended into hell.’ We must first note that this phrase is very misleading. The idea of the New Testament is not that Jesus descended into hell but that he descended into Hades. Acts 2:27, as all the newer translations correctly show, should be translated not as ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell’, as the Authorized Version has it, but as ‘You will not abandon my soul to Hades.’ The difference is that hell is the place of the punishment of the wicked; Hades was the place where all the dead went. The Jews had a very shadowy picture of life beyond the grave. They thought in terms not of heaven and of hell but of a shadowy world, where the spirits of men and women moved like grey ghosts in an everlasting twilight and where there was neither strength nor joy. Such was Hades, into which the spirits of all people went after death…The Jewish idea of the world after death was of this grey world of shadows and forgetfulness, in which the dead were separated from life and light and God.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters Of James And Peter, 273-274 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, Ky; Westminster John Knox Press) 

Notice some passages of Scripture which bear out this “shady” understanding of Sheol during the Patriarchal and Mosaic Ages before Christ:

Job 10:20-22-20 I have only a few days left. Why don’t you leave me alone? Let me find some relief,

21 before I travel to the land

22 of darkness and despair, the place of no return.

Isaiah 38:18-No one in the world of the dead can thank you or praise you; none of those in the deep pit can hope for you to show them how faithful you are.

Psalm 6:5-If I die, I cannot praise you or even remember you.

Psalm 30:9-“What good will it do you if I am in the grave? Once I have turned to dust, how can I praise you or tell how loyal you are?

Psalm 88:10-12-10 Do you work miracles for the dead? Do they stand up and praise you?

11 Are your love and loyalty announced in the world of the dead?

12 Do they know of your miracles or your saving power in the dark world below where all is forgotten?

Psalm 115:17-The dead are silent and cannot praise the LORD,

All of these passages demonstrate that there was much mystery and fear about the world of the dead.  

In the rest of our study, we will notice three additional facts about Sheol which are clearly elaborated upon in Job.    

Sheol Was A Place Of Consciousness 
Speaking of those in the world of the dead, Job declares:

Job 26:5-Remember the terrible trembling of those in the world of the dead below the mighty ocean.

Several times in the Old Testament, we are reminded of the fact that the soul of humans survives death. It is conscious in the realm of the dead following its’ departure from the body. This may be demonstrated from several Old Testament passages.  

In the Book of Isaiah, for example, the downfall of the king of Babylon is compared with the downfall of another great and terrible entity (presumably that of Satan himself, as we noticed in previous lessons).  

Notice what God says through the Prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 14:9-11-9 The world of the dead eagerly waits for you. With great excitement, the spirits of ancient rulers hear about your coming.

10 Each one of them will say, “Now you are just as weak as any of us!

11 Your pride and your music have ended here in the world of the dead. Worms are your blanket, maggots are your bed.”

Observe that the spirits of the dead are here pictured as hearing of the arrival of the king of Babylon.

This teaches us several things about the world of the dead. First, it clearly pictures the spirits in the world of the dead as being conscious (notice that they are aware, they hear, they speak, they feel emotion, etc.).

Second, this speaks to us about the fact that the dead are (to some degree) aware of persons and events in the world of the living.


Third, it speaks to us about the pain and humiliation which will await the king of Babylon.  

A passage in the Book of Ezekiel provides more insights along these lines:

Ezekiel 32:21-Brave military leaders killed in battle will gladly welcome you and your allies into the world of the dead.

Similar thoughts are expressed throughout the New Testament.

For example, we are told about the saints of God who are killed in the Great Tribulation (Revelation 1:9):

Revelation 6:9-11-9 When the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of everyone who had been killed for speaking God’s message and telling about their faith.

10 They shouted, “Master, you are holy and faithful! How long will it be before you judge and punish the people of this earth who killed us?”

11 Then each of those who had been killed was given a white robe and told to rest for a little while. They had to wait until the complete number of the Lord’s other servants and followers would be killed.

First, the dead saints are conscious.


Second, they are pictured as being “under the altar” (not in Heaven, and not on Earth).


Third, they are aware of their identity.


Fourth, these Christians remember what happened to them on Earth. Fifth, they are upset, troubled, and angry due to delayed justice (another indicator that they are not yet in Heaven-see Revelation 21:4). Sixth, these dead saints are aware (to some degree) of events which are taking place on Earth. Seventh, they are praying to God on behalf of events on the Earth.  

Indeed, there are several other powerful indicators from the Old Testament that the spirits in Sheol are conscious.

Orr has well pointed out:

“Yet it would be a mistake to infer, because of these strong and sometimes poetically heightened contrasts to the world of the living, that Sheol was conceived of as absolutely a place without consciousness, or some dim remembrance of the world above. This is not the case. Necromancy rested on the idea that there was some communication between the world above and the world below (De 18:11); a Samuel could be summoned from the dead (1Samuel 28:11-15); Sheol from beneath was stirred at the descent of the king of Babylon (Isa 14:9). The state is rather that of slumbrous semi-consciousness and enfeebled existence from which in a partial way the spirit might temporarily be aroused.” (James Orr, “Sheol,” in James Orr, The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,161133-161166 (Kindle Edition); OSNOVA) 

The Righteous Dead Are Reunited In Sheol 

The second thing to consider deals with reunion of the dead in Sheol. There is evidence from the Book of Job which suggests that the patriarch knew that he would be reunited with his children in Sheol. He says:

Job 30:23-Soon he will send me home to the world of the dead, where we all must go.

The word translated here as “home” also carried with it the idea of household and family.

As such, Job may very well have been voicing his conviction that Sheol was a place where the righteous dead were reunited.  

Other Old Testament ideas parallel this notion.

For example, throughout the Old Testament (especially in the Pentateuch), there is a very interesting phrase that is found in relationship to the death of God’s people. It is stated that they are “gathered to their people” (NKJV).

Here are some examples: 

Genesis 25:8 (NKJV)-Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

Genesis 25:17 (NKJV)-These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.

Genesis 35:29 (NKJV)-So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Genesis 49:29 (NKJV)-Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

Genesis 49:33 (NKJV)-And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Numbers 20:24 (NKJV)-“Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.

Numbers 27:13 (NKJV)-And when you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered.

Numbers 31:2 (NKJV)-Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”

Deuteronomy 32:50 (NKJV)-and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people;

What did it mean in the Old Testament when it is said that one was “gathered to his people?”  

Many Bible translators (such as those who translated the Contemporary English Version apparently) believe that the phrase “gathered to his people” simply meant that a person was being buried, and especially that they were buried with their family members. This idea is reflected in several Bible translations.  

However, the phrase cannot mean “buried” or “buried with their family” in every instance for at least two reasons.  

First, several of the ones who were gathered to their people were not buried anywhere near their family cemeteries!!

Examples would include Abraham (who was buried hundreds of miles away from his family cemetery in Ur of the Chaldeans-Genesis 25:8), and Moses (who was buried alone on top of Mount Nebo, far away from his family cemetery-Deuteronomy 32:50; 34:6).  

Second, the Scriptures are clear that this “gathering” takes place when one dies, not necessarily when one is buried.

We are told, for example, that Jacob was gathered to his people when he died (Genesis 49:33), yet the text goes on to inform us that he was not buried for at least seventy days after his death!

Genesis 50:2-3-2 Joseph gave orders for Jacob’s body to be embalmed, 3 and it took the usual forty days. The Egyptians mourned seventy days for Jacob.

Jacob was not buried for at least seventy days after his death, and yet we are told that he was gathered to his people when he died.

This clearly demonstrates that there is a distinction between “being gathered to your people” and being buried!  

The phrase “gathered to his people” actually focused on the belief of the ancient Hebrews that when one died and entered Sheol, he was reunited with his loved ones and friends who had gone on before.  

Simcha Paull Raphael was a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust. Learning at an early age about the reality of death, he spent a lifetime studying what the Old Testament and ancient Rabbinical interpretations had to say about the Afterlife.

Notice two quotations from his book that are especially relevant to our study:

“Burial in the family grave served to reconnect the departed one with a society of previously dead ancestors. This society was believed to exist in the tomb itself or perhaps in the surrounding locality. 9 Death itself was not seen as a cessation of existence. On the contrary, to be gathered to one’s ancestors implied but a passage to another realm where departed family spirits cohabited and the activities of kith and kin continued within the sacred ancestral society of the family tomb.” (Simcha Paull Raphael, Jewish Views On The Afterlife, 1188 (Kindle Edition); Lanham, Maryland; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)

Later in his book, Raphael discusses the ancient Jewish belief that our family members and loved ones who have died continue to somehow witness us and encourage us, and even how they sometimes meet with us when we are dying. Tying this in with the phrase “gathered to his people,” and carefully examining these ancient Hebrew rabbinical interpretations and cases of near-death experiences, he writes:

“A second type of apparition is reported in the early phase of the dying process. It is very common for a person in the throes of death to be visited by the spirit of a deceased relative or friend, who is ready to welcome them into the postmortem worlds. There are certainly countless reports of people who, just prior to death, have a dream in which a deceased spouse, parent, or sibling informs them they will soon be reunited. It is also common at the moment of death for a person to see before their eyes the spirit of a deceased loved one. 36 In like fashion, NDE experiencers report seeing a loving family member who, at the right time, is prepared to assist the person to make the transition from the physical plane. (In the case of NDEs, the beloved one often tells the person their time to die has not yet come.) Further along these lines, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross tells a fascinating story about a man who had witnessed a hit-and-run accident in which a woman was seriously injured. He stopped his car and offered help, but the woman told him there was nothing he could do except convey a message to her mother that she was okay and happy now because she was with her father. The woman then died in his arms. The man was so profoundly moved by the experience that he drove seven hundred miles to the Native American reservation where this woman’s mother lived. He delivered the daughter’s message, only to discover that the young woman’s father had died from a coronary approximately an hour before the fatal accident, and she had absolutely no way of knowing this news. 37 An anecdote like this suggests that there is a mysterious connection between the world of the living and the world of the dead, a connection that we often cannot fully comprehend. However, thousands of years before Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Jewish tradition seemed to know something about this link between the dying and the dead. For example, the Talmud recounts how, at the time of his death, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai proclaimed that King Hezekiah, of Judah, was coming to meet him (Berakhot 22b). In like manner, the Zohar indicates quite explicitly that “at the hour of a man’s departure from the world, his father and his relatives gather round him … and they accompany his soul to the place where it is to abide” (II, 218a). And perhaps when biblical tradition uses the phrases “gathered unto one’s fathers” or “sleeping with one’s ancestors” to speak of death, conceivably these terms are not metaphoric, but allude to the experiential reality of encountering one’s deceased relatives and friends at the time of death. The convergence of evidence from NDE studies, deathbed observations, and religious literature suggests that at the time of death one is not alone. A disembodied being, or guide—either an archetypal, angelic wise being or a beloved parent, grandparent, or special friend—makes its presence known to the dying individual and actively assists in the transition from the world of the living to the world beyond. These guides have a very specific function: to initiate the neophyte into the realm of post-mortem consciousness.” (Simcha Paull Raphael, Jewish Views On The Afterlife, 7255-7299 (Kindle Edition); Lanham, Maryland; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)

This Old Testament teaching (as further corroborated by ancient rabbinical interpretations and the validated experiences of some NDE’s and others) reflect the teaching of the New Testament, I.e., that the spirits of the righteous dead continue to “witness” us (Hebrews 12:1)-a theme which we will study more extensively in a future lesson.  

For now, please notice that the biblical concept was definitely that the phrase “gathered to his people” carried the idea of the dead being reunited with their loved ones in Sheol.

(More references of this will be provided in the Addendum). 

Further Old Testament Teaching About Reunion In Sheol

When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, they told their father that a wild beast had killed him (Genesis 37:31-34), Joseph makes this statement: 

Genesis 37:35 (Amplified)-And all his sons and daughters attempted to console him, but he refused to be comforted and said, I will go down to Sheol (the place of the dead) to my son mourning. And his father wept for him.

It is clear from this that Jacob expected to reunite with his son in the land of Sheol.  

The same is true with David, whose son had died:

2 Samuel 12:23 (NKJV)-But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

Without a doubt, Job had this encouraging reunion with his children to look forward to at death.

Indeed, as we will notice through future studies of Scripture, the saints of God in every age anticipated this grand reunion.  

Job And The Old Testament Saints Understood Their Time In The World Of The Dead Would Be Temporary And Would Be Followed By The Resurrection Of The Body

Finally, it is important to realize that the Hebrews understood that Sheol itself was a temporary abode which they would eventually vacate. This is manifested in several ways throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.  

Psalm 16:10 (NKJV)-10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Messianic prophecy-Acts 2:27-31)

Psalm 49:15 (NKJV)-But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah

Psalm 86:13 (NKJV)-For great is Your mercy toward me, And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Hosea 13:14 (ISV)-“From the power of Sheol I will rescue them, from death I will redeem them. Death, where are your plagues? Sheol, where is your destruction? My eyes will remain closed to your pleas for compassion.

This last passage is particularly interesting.

It foretells a time when the Lord will save His people from Sheol, and that Sheol itself will cease to exist. Paul quotes this passage and shows that it will have its fulfillment at the time of the Second Coming and of the resurrection at the End (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

Incredibly enough, Job himself sees his time in Sheol ending with a view towards his own resurrection at the end of time!

Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)-25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;

26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,

27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Conclusion 

The Old Testament Teaching concerning Sheol and the Afterlife served as a great encouragement to Job in the midst of his suffering.

The knowledge that death is not unconscious annihilation, that a reunion with his loved ones who had preceded him in death would take place when he entered Sheol, and that God would one day ransom His people from the world of the dead (culminating in the Redeemer standing at the last on the earth and the resurrection of the dead taking place) all served as powerful incentives for Job to continue on through his trials and heartache.  

May they likewise help each of us. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 

Addendum: “Gathered To His People”

“To be gathered is not to cease to exist, but to continue existing in another sphere. His peoples, the departed families, from whom he is descended, are still in being in another not less real world. This, and the like expression in the passage quoted, give the first fact in the history of the soul after death, as the burial is the first step in that of the body.” (Albert Barnes, Commentary On Genesis 25:8)

“This expression, which is synonymous with “going to his fathers” (Gen 15:15), or “being gathered to his fathers” (Jdg 2:10), but is constantly distinguished from departing this life and being buried, denotes the reunion in Sheol with friends who have gone before, and therefore presupposes faith in the personal continuance of a man after death, as a presentiment which the promises of God had exalted in the case of the patriarchs into a firm assurance of faith (Heb 11:13).” (Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary On Genesis 25:8). 

“The last expression used is particularly noteworthy: he was gathered to his people. This cannot mean: buried with his relatives or ancestors, for we know that none of his kin except his wife lay buried at Machpelah. Apparently, the expression is then equivalent to the one used Genesis 15:15 , “to go to one’s fathers.” Those who have gone on before in death are regarded as a people still existing. This is a clear testimony to the belief in a life after death on the part of the earliest patriarch. Though no specific revelation on the subject seems to have been given to these patriarchs, faith in the Almighty God drew its own proper conclusions as to whether God would ultimately let his children perish, and its conclusion was correct: He cannot. This passage confirms that conclusion. If Scripture is to be explained by Scripture, then Hebrews 11:13- 16 offers the fullest confirmation of our interpretation….K. C. points out that the passage cannot mean “to be laid in the family sepulchre,” because it is used in cases where only one ancestor lay in the tomb ( 1 Kings 11:43 , 22:40 ) or none at all ( Deuteronomy 31:16 ; 1 Kings 2:10 ; 16:28 ; 2 Kings 21:18 ). Of course, when one’s “people” are thought of as having gone on before, they are thought of as assembled in the Sheol, which in this connection can mean only the “afterworld” or the “hereafter.” Nothing in this passage or in other instances of the use of the expression (cf. Genesis 25:17 ; 35:29 ; Genesis 49:29 , 33 ; Numbers 20:24 ; 27:13 ; 31:2 ; Deuteronomy 32:50 ) indicates that the existence in the hereafter is regarded as dull, shadowy or unreal. Since practically in each case men of outstanding godliness are involved, it would even seem strange if such were the ultimate issue of a godly life. True, the New Testament fullness of revelation is not yet found in the Old. But the common assertion that the Pentateuch knows nothing of a life hereafter and of the resurrection from the dead is merely a preconceived error. True, we shall have to resort in part to reasoning like that employed by Christ Matthew 22:31- 33 , but in reasoning thus we follow a very reliable precedent.” (H.C. Leuopold, Exposition Of Genesis Volumes 1 & 2,10594-10624 (Kindle Edition): Ephesians Four Group)

Study Questions

 How does the Contemporary English Version often translate the word Sheol? _______________

What are two ways to know that the phrase “gathered to his people” did not have reference to being buried, and to be being buried in a family grave? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are some things which we learn about Sheol from Revelation 6:9-11? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are some different ways that the KJV translates the word Sheol? _________________________________________________

What are some passages in the Old Testament which show that there was a great deal of mystery about Sheol? _______________________________

What are some things that Isaiah 14:9-11 teaches us about Sheol? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Provide a basic description of the Septuagint translation of the Bible. What is it? How many scholars made it? Why was it made? What are some reasons why it is important? Be thorough. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________[______________________________

What are some indications that the idea of Sheol helped Job carry on after his children died? Consider Job 30:23 in your answer. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Prayer Partners

1. Consider the subject of Near Death and Out Of The Body experiences. Is there any indication from Scripture that these events are true? Carefully consider 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 in this connection. 

Shimabuku

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Many skeptics of the Bible tell us that if a nation is built upon the principles of the Bible, that nation will soon be doomed to destruction.  

In fact, there are many who would have us to believe that Christianity had no part in the foundation of America, despite the obvious facts of history. For example, the courts have long since declared that America was founded upon Christian principles (despite the unpopularity of this fact):

“The documentary evidence of the Christian origin of this nation is voluminous; it would take hours even to quote it. The Supreme Court of the United States thoroughly studied this issue, and in 1892 gave us what is known as the Trinity Decision. In that decision, the Supreme Court declared, “These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”5 That is where this nation began.” (D. James Kennedy with Jerry Newcombe, What If America Were A Christian Nation Again? 203-204 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson)

One author, a Native American commissioned to write down the legends of his people for future generations, documented about the Christian foundations of our nation:

“In 1811, New York Supreme Court Chief Justice James Kent in People v. Ruggles held: “‘…whatever strikes at the root of the Bible tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government….’ We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon the Bible…. The Bible in its enlarged sense, as a religion revealed and taught in the Bible, is part and parcel of the law of the land…” (People v. Ruggles, 1811) The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the Christian foundation of this nation when it ruled in 1844 ” Charleston v. Benjamin, “The Bible is part of the common law of the land, with liberty of conscience to all. It has always been so recognized…. Judge Nathaniel Freeman in 1802 charged Massachusetts Grand Juries as follows: “The laws of the Christian system, as embraced by the Bible, must be respected as of high authority in all our courts…. [Our government] originating in the voluntary compact of a people who in that very instrument profess the Christian religion, it may be considered, not as republic Rome was a Pagan, but a Christian republic.” (City of Charleston v Benjamin, 1846)..”. (Chief Joseph Riverwind, Assisted by Laralyn RiverWind That’s What The Old Ones Say: Pre-Colonial Revelations Of God, 146-147 (Kindle Edition); Marble, NC; Word Branch Publishing)

Our country was indeed founded on the principles of the Bible. It was when our rich Christian heritage was recognized and appreciated that our people were greatly prospered. It is only since we have forgotten the God Who has loved us and blessed us that we have seen great national despair.  

In the midst of our nation’s identity crisis, I want to share with you the story of a village called Shimabuku. John Blanchard relates the account to us:

“Some years ago, Reader’s Digest carried a story entitled ‘Shimabuku — the Village that Lives by the Bible’. It told how an advance patrol of American troops liberating the Island of Okinawa were approaching a particular village when they were confronted by two old men carrying a Bible. Suspicious of a trap, they called for the chaplain, who said he felt they could go on. Entering the village, they found it spotless, the fields tilled and fertile, and everything a model of neatness and cleanliness — totally unlike the other run-down villages they had seen. They soon discovered the reason for this amazing contrast. Thirty years earlier, an American missionary on his way to Japan had called at Shimabuku and stayed long enough to leave behind two men who had come to believe in God. He also left a Japanese Bible, which he urged them to study and live by. Without any other outside human help, the community had gradually been transformed. There was no jail, no brothel, no drunkenness, no divorce, a high standard of health and a remarkable spirit of social unity and happiness. Clarence Hall, the war correspondent who wrote the story, quoted the words of his dumbfounded driver: ‘So this is what comes out of a Bible… Maybe we are using the wrong weapons to change the world!’”” (John Blanchard, Does God Believe In Atheists? 9345-9362 (Kindle Edition); Carlisle, Pa; EP Books USA)

In this village history, we are reminded of the transformative power of God’s Word.  

The only hope which our nation has is to return to the principles of the Holy Scriptures. It is only when we learn again to love the Lord with all of our being and to love our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:37-40). We need to again remember that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).  

As a New Testament Christian, I will do what I can to teach people about the saving power of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16), while at the same time praying that this great nation will remember the God Who is the Giver of every good and every perfect gift (James 1:17).  

Years ago, when I was a child growing up in the beautiful state of West Virginia, I remember my preacher Charles Pugh delivering a message one Sunday morning on how our leaders were forgetting the Christian foundations of America. At the conclusion of his lesson, he shared this powerful poem that still speaks so eloquently to our day and age:

I Dreamed I Saw America On Her Knees


C.L. Powell
I dreamed I saw America on her knees.
I dreamed I heard her say: “God, help us, please.”
I saw our children playing happy and free.
I heard them sing: “My Country, tis of thee.”
I walked inside an old country school;
I heard the children quote the golden rule.
I saw the people passing on their way.
I heard them with kind words to say.
I saw a family, with happy boys and girls.
They were a familiar scene, in a Godly world.
I heard a mother call in words so kind, 
“Come to the house, children; it’s supper time.”

I saw them around the table, I hear Daddy say,

“We must thank God for our food; let’s pray.”
I walked into a place of worship; I heard them sing,

Not with style nor glamour; just voices, with a Godly ring.
I awoke from my dream with glad refrain.

Please help us bring America back to God again!”

Friends, the Lord Who has the power to save this nation has the power to save you. He wants to save you from sin, and is now calling you to Him to be saved. He says that His desire is that even the most wicked will turn from their wicked ways and turn to Him and live (Ezekiel 18:23). He loves us so very much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the Cross of Calvary (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:6), be buried, and rise from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He is calling upon you now to trust in Him as the only Savior (Acts 16:31).

Will you not as a believer in Him repent of our sins, confess Him as the Son of God, and be baptized into Him with the determination to live faithfully to Him-even to the point of death-as a member of His church (Acts 2:38; 8:37; 1 Timothy 6:12)?

When you fall short as a Christian and sin, He will forgive when you repent and confess your sins to Him in prayer (1 John 1:9). Why not turn to Him today?

If I can assist you in any way, please call on me.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Who Is The Rock Upon Whom The Church Is Built? 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

One of the greatest differences between Roman Catholicism and New Testament Christianity is in regards to the foundation of the church.

Our Catholic neighbors believe that the Lord Jesus promised to build His church upon the Apostle Peter; and that Peter became the first pope. As such, it is claimed that the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church has been entrusted with the authority of Jesus Christ Himself.  

In this article, we will carefully examine the primary text which our Catholic friends believe teaches that the church is built upon the Apostle Peter.  

In Matthew 16, we read:

Matthew 16:13-14-13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

The identity of Jesus Christ always generates intense discussion, in the first century as well as today.

However, Jesus does not stop the conversation with what “everyone else” says about Him: instead, He makes it personal:

Matthew 16:15-15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

We must all deal with the question that Jesus has here raised.  

It is now that we read the confession of Peter:

Matthew 16:16-Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Peter declared what the other Apostles would not. As a result, we are told the following:

Matthew 16:17-18-17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

It is at this place that our Catholic friends and neighbors tell us that Jesus Christ promised to build His church upon the Apostle Peter and to make him the first pope.  

You see, the word “Peter” is from a Greek word that means ‘”stone.” So, it is argued, Jesus names Peter as “stone” (cf. John 1:43) and then promises to build His church upon Peter.

Therefore, Peter (and all of the popes after him) are the foundation of the church of Christ.  

Yet is this what Jesus really says?  

Look Closer…

If we will dig a little deeper, we will see that this is not the case at all.  

In fact, if we will carefully study, we will notice that Jesus actually makes a clear distinction between “Peter” and the “Rock” upon which the church is built.  

He does this in at least two ways.  

The first indication of this distinction between “Peter” and the “Rock” is seen in the fact that Jesus switches from the second person to the third person.

In other words, He doesn’t say, “You are Peter, and UPON YOU’ I will build my church.” Instead, He says, “YOU are Peter, and upon THIS ROCK I will build My church.”

The switch from second to third person is very informative.  

Second, Jesus uses two Greek words in the original New Testament in this passage. He refers to Peter as “petros” (a small, detached stone or pebble, masculine gender). He then calls the church’s foundation the “Rock,” from the Greek “petra” (a massive rock foundation, feminine gender).  

White explains the significance of these facts:

“A number of specifics should be noted from the text itself. First, Jesus is addressing Peter personally; the pronoun used is singular. Secondly, as has been pointed out many, many times, the Greek term translated “Peter” is the masculine singular term Πέτρος; and this is distinguished from the term translated “rock” which is the feminine singular form, πέτpq. Catholic apologists are quick to assert that Jesus would have been speaking Aramaic, not Greek, and that Aramaic does not distinguish between the genders. 4 However, this is pure supposition; we simply do not know what language the Lord Jesus was speaking, whether Aramaic, Greek, or Hebrew; secondly, we do not have any Aramaic original of this Gospel, if one ever existed. 5 Hence, for anyone to claim that they know what might have been in a non- existent original is ridiculous; even if one accepts that there was an Aramaic original, whoever translated the Gospel of Matthew into Greek felt that there was some reason to differentiate between the two occurrences of the word. Theories and suppositions do not make for sound exegesis. Next, note that when Christ speaks to Peter, He does so in the second person; that is, direct address. Yet, the term “this rock” is third person (indirect address indicated by the use of ταύτη ), making the differentiation between “Peter” and “this rock” complete, even if one accepts the Catholic apologists’ contention of an Aramaic original without differentiation of the genders, masculine and feminine, of “rock.” He is speaking to Peter, about the “rock.” Hence the text differentiates between Peter and the rock in two ways: the form of the word, and the person of address. While Roman Catholics like to think that the church has always understood Matthew 16:18 as establishing Petrine primacy, the fact is just the opposite.” (James White, Answers To Catholic Claims: A Discussion Of Biblical Authority, 1542-1558 (Kindle Edition))

If Peter was not the Rock upon which the church is built, then what is?

The answer lies in verse 16, where Peter declared that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  

It is in the identity of Jesus Christ Himself that serves as the foundation for the church.

This is made abundantly clear throughout the rest of the New Testament Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 3:11-For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:4-and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

Ephesians 2:20-having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

Further, that Jesus’ identity as the Christ (which was confessed by Peter) is the Rock upon which the church is built is also seen in the fact that this discussion in the parallel accounts of the other Gospels ends with the affirmation of Who Jesus is (Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-20). The focus is not on Peter, but on Jesus Himself.

The Church Fathers On The Passage

The early second and third century Christians often discussed the “Rock” upon which the church is built.

One Catholic authority listed the following interpretations of the church fathers: 

“Did the ancient religious Fathers, so-called, agree as to the meaning of Matthew 16:18? Dr. Kendrick, Catholic archbishop of St. Louis, grouped together the various interpretations of these Fathers as follows: 1. Seventeen Fathers designed Peter as the rock upon which the church is built. 2. Eight Fathers, including Origen, Cyprian, and Jerome, taught that the whole apostolic college is the rock. 3. Forty-four Fathers, including Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom, Hilary, and Ambrose, designated Peter’s confession of Christ’s divine Sonship as the Rock. 4. Sixteen Fathers that the Christ Himself was the rock. From this information, we conclude that even the religious leaders upon whose teaching the Roman Catholic Church extensively relies were not in agreement as to the meaning of the supposed magna charta of the papacy, Matthew 16:18, which proves false the statement of Bellarmine that the interpretation of this passage which designates Peter as the rock upon which the church is built had “the consent of the entire church, both Greek and Latin Fathers.” (James Tolle, Was The Apostle Peter A Pope? I8; Pasadena, TX; Haun Publishing Company)  

To give you an idea of how the church fathers understood the passage to be referring to Christ as the Rock, please notice some specific references:

“Next, the Father’s utterance, This is My Son, had revealed to Peter that he must confess You are the Son of God, for in the words This is, God the Revealer points Him out, and the response, You are, is the believer’s welcome to the truth. And this is the rock of confession whereon the Church is built.” (Hilary Of Poitiers, On The Trinity: Book VI).

“Else it were superfluous to   say, “Thou art Son of Jonas;” but since he had said, “Son of God,” to   point out that He is so Son of God, as the other son of Jonas, of the   same substance with Him that begat Him, therefore He added this, “And I   say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my   Church;” [2092] that is, on the faith of his confession.” (Philip Schaff, The Complete Works Of John Chrysostom, 39623-39631 (Kindle Edition))

“For, as regards his proper personality, he was by nature one man, by grace one Christian, by still more abounding grace one, and yet also, the first apostle; but when it was said to him, I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven, he represented the universal Church, which in this world is shaken by various temptations, that come upon it like torrents of rain, floods and tempests, and falls not, because it is founded upon a rock (petra), from which Peter received his name. For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, On this rock will I build my Church, because Peter had said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. [Matthew 16:16-19] On this rock, therefore, He said, which you have confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; [1 Corinthians 10:4] and on this foundation was Peter himself also built. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. [1 Corinthians 3:11] The Church, therefore, which is founded in Christ received from Him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the person of Peter, that is to say, the power of binding and loosing sins. For what the Church is essentially in Christ, such representatively is Peter in the rock (petra); and in this representation Christ is to be understood as the Rock, Peter as the Church.” (Augustine, The Complete Works Of Augustine, 118927-118398 (Kindle Edition); Toronto, Canada)

“See what praises follow this faith. You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. What means, Upon this rock I will build my Church? Upon this faith; upon this that has been said, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Upon this rock, says He, I will build my Church.” (Augustine, The Complete Works Of Augustine, 120966-120971 (Kindle Edition); Toronto, Canada)

It is also important to realize that when the early Christians interpreted the passage as referring to Peter, they understood this as Peter symbolizing all the Apostles and, in some cases, every Christian!  

“If we, too, have said like Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”—not as if flesh and blood had revealed it to us, but by light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart—we become a Peter. So to us there might be said by the Word, “You are Peter, etc.” For every disciple of Christ is a rock. . . . And upon every such rock is built every word of the church and the polity in accordance with it. For in each of the perfect—who have the combination of words, deeds, and thoughts that fill up the blessedness—the church is built by God.” (Origen (c. 245, E), 9.456.) 

“But if you suppose that upon only that one Peter the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John, the son of thunder, or about each one of the apostles? Shall we dare to say that the gates of Hades will not prevail against Peter in particular, but that they will prevail against the other apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, “The gates of Hades will not prevail against it,” apply in regard to all? . . . Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only and will none other of the blessed receive them?” (Origen (c. 245, E), 9.456.)

“In this place [Matt. 16: 18, 19], these words seem to be addressed to only Peter—” Whatever you will bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” However, in the Gospel of John, the Savior gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples by breathing upon them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit, etc.” Many then will say to the Savior, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” . . . And if anyone says this to Him . . . through the Father in heaven, he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the language of the gospel to Peter. . . . For all who are the imitators of Christ bear the surname of “rock.” . . . Furthermore, as members of Christ, they derive their surname from Him, being called “Christians.” And from the rock, they are called “Peters.” (Origen (c. 245, E), 9.456.)

That Peter understood every Christian to be a “stone” is clear from his own statement:

1 Peter 2:5-you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Interestingly enough, in this same passage, Peter refers to Christ as the Rock (Petra) upon which the entire church is built and named from (1 Peter 2:8). 

One very candid Catholic authority summed up the evidence from the early Christians’ interpretation of Matthew 16:18 with the following statement: 

“All this is intelligible enough, if we look at the patristic interpretation of the words of Christ to St. Peter. Of all the Fathers who have exegetically explained these passages in the Gospels (Matt. xvi. 18, John xxi. 17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors. How many Fathers have busied themselves with these texts, yet not one of them whose commentaries we possess—Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas,—has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter! Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His Church of the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peter’s confession of faith in Christ; often both together. Or else they thought Peter was the foundation equally with all the other Apostles, the Twelve being together the foundation-stones of the Church (Apoc. xxi. 14).” ((Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, Janus, The Pope And The Council: Authorized Translation From The German, 90-91 (Kindle Edition); London, Oxford, and Cambridge; Rivingtoms; Pneuma Press)

Did The First Century Church Regard Peter As The First Pope?

Please notice also that the early church did not treat the Apostle Peter as the pope.

Several passages of Scripture illustrate this truth.  

We could consider, for example, the events of Acts 15.

Here the Bible tells us that the Apostles gathered together with the elders of the church in Jerusalem to deal with a serious situation which had arisen. Several false teachers were propagating the notion that in order for a person to be saved, they must be circumcised and keep the Old Testament Law (Acts 15:5). The Bible records for us that Peter was present and spoke to the assembly (Acts 15:7-11).  

Yet what is truly fascinating for our present study is what takes place after Peter speaks:

Acts 15:13-22-13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me:

14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.

15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

16 ‘AFTER THIS I WILL RETURN AND WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID, WHICH HAS FALLEN DOWN; I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL SET IT UP;

17 SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, EVEN ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME, SAYS THE LORD WHO DOES ALL THESE THINGS.’

18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.

19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,

20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

This passage teaches us that Peter did not have the first or the last word about the matter. We are told that Peter did not speak until there had been much dispute (Acts 15:7).  

Isn’t that strange if Peter had been the first pope?  

Yet even more revealing is the fact that it was James who clearly presided over the council (cf. Acts 15:13, 19-20).  
Clearly, the church did not view Peter as the pope, nor did Peter regard himself as such. Several other passages bear out these facts, and demonstrate also that all of the Apostles of Christ were on equal footing in regards to their authority and position in the church (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 12:27-31; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11-12; Galatians 2:7-21; Ephesians 2:20).  

When we turn to the writings of the second century Christians, we see that they understood Peter as being equal with the other Apostles. For example:

“I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments to you. They were apostles.” (Ignatius (c. 105, E), 1.75.)

“The universally known church was founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.415.)

“[Clement of Alexandria] says that Peter, James, and John (after the Savior’s ascension), although preeminently honored by the Lord, did not contend for glory. Rather, they appointed James the Just as bishop of Jerusalem. Eusebius, citing Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.579.)

“To James the Just, John, and Peter, the Lord imparted knowledge after His resurrection. These imparted it to the rest of the apostles. And the rest of the apostles imparted it to the Seventy, of whom Barnabas was one. Eusebius, citing Clement of Alexandria.” (Clement of Alexandria, (c. 195, E), 2.579.)

The church fathers had a great deal of respect for Peter due to his courage in the face of persecution and hardship, as well as his humility.

Yet even with this respect clearly before them, they never hint at the idea that the church was founded on Peter, or that he was the first pope.  

Where Did The Idea That Peter Was The First Pope Come From?

In order to understand where the papacy originated, we need to look at church history.  

In the New Testament church, God has designed each congregation to be autonomous (or self-governing-see 1 Peter 5:1-4, and notice especially the phrase “among you”).

In each congregation, where men are qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) special officers are appointed (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23) to lead the local congregation (1 Timothy 5:17). These men were referred to in the New Testament by the titles pastor, elder, bishop, presbyter, and overseer. All of these phrases are used interchangeably in the New Testament Scriptures (cf. Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Ephesians 4:11), showing that all of these titles referred to the same position in the local church.

The second century Christians understood and adhered to this pattern, at least for a time.

For example:

“Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord: men who are meek, not lovers of money, truthful, and tested; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Do not despise them, therefore, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.” (Didache (c. 80–140, E), 7.381)

“Preaching through countries and cities, the apostles appointed the first- fruits of their labors to be bishops and deacons of those who would believe afterwards. However, they first tested them by the Spirit.” (Clement of Rome (c. 96, W), 1.16.)

However, near the middle of the second century, some in the churches started elevating one man over the rest of the eldership. They made him “the bishop” over all the elders(and remember that this was a departure from the New Testament order implemented under the Apostolic authority). This one man then began to assume control of other local congregations. As time went on, five huge churches developed and claimed preeminence over the rest of the churches.  

Calvin Fields provides a fascinating historical description of these events:

“CHANGES: As the city churches began to evangelize those in the country, the city bishops began to assume authority over the country bishops. These were called the Metropolitans. Thus began the avenue by which the organizational structure eventually evolved into the hierarchical form of church government that exists today in the Catholic and some Protestant churches. BISHOPS over elders (beginning in the second century). METROPOLITANS (city bishops over country bishops). PATRIARCHS in five cities (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Rome). PATRIARCHS IN TWO CITIES: CONSTANTINOPLE (Orthodox Catholic Church in the East). ROME (Roman Catholic Church in the West). POPE (Roman Catholic Church). NOTE: There are other men designated as popes but none over the number of people as that of the Roman Pope. ARCADIUS (377-395) and HONORIUS (384-423) became co-emperors when their father, Theodosius, died. He had designated Arcadius as ruler over the Western half and Honorius over the Eastern half. This set the stage for later separation into the Roman and Orthodox churches. The churches at this time were under control of five Patriarchs in Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Constantinople and Rome. Each had equal authority. With the division of the empire, the three Patriarchs of Antioch, Ephesus, and Alexandria gave their authority to the Patriarch of Constantinople. LEO I (400?-461), as Bishop of Rome, was formally acknowledged as having authority over all the churches of the Western empire by Valentinian, then emperor of the West. It was a political move by the emperor to solidify control over his empire. About the same time, “Pope” became the exclusive title of the Bishop of Rome. Leo justified his position on the basis of Peter being the first bishop of Rome and that such authority was vested in all future bishops of that city. The idea of succession was not from God but from Leo, who seized the opportunity to assume a title he knew would please the Roman emperor. Leo also issued a decree forbidding priests to marry. The idea that Peter was the first Pope, having all authority, is nowhere suggested by the Scriptures or church history. The ability to produce a listing that purportedly shows a continuous line of succession for the Bishop of Rome is no proof that Peter was the first Pope. Although Peter was given the privilege of preaching the first sermon to both Jews and Gentiles, the New Testament makes it clear that he did not have any more power to bind and loose the words of the Holy Spirit, by which we are judged, than any other apostle:…Although some early church fathers of the 2nd century believed that Peter was crucified and buried at Rome, he was never referred to as the Pope or acknowledged as having power over the universal (Catholic) church. Although Iraneus did refer to Peter as the “preeminent disciple,” this would only be as to his privilege of being the first to preach to the Jews and Gentiles.” (Calvin Fields, 10, 000 Faces of Christianity: Which Face Have You Seen? 5567-5594 (Kindle Edition); Xulon Press)

The formation of the Roman Catholic papacy was the result of a departure from the Word of God. This departure had long been foretold by the inspired Prophets and Apostles of Jesus Christ (Daniel 7:1-25; Acts 20:28-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-5).  

It is also important to realize that the early “bishops” of the ancient world did not consider the bishop of Rome the pope (or universal head) of the church on Earth.

Notice some samples of evidence which support this claim:

“For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another.” (Cyprian, “The Seventh Council of Carthage under Cyprian” in The Ante- Nicene Fathers, 5:565]). 

“Neither can it rescind an ordination rightly perfected, that Basilides, after the detection of his crimes, and the baring of his conscience even by his own confession, went to Rome and deceived Stephen our colleague, placed at a distance, and ignorant of what had been done, and of the truth, to canvass that he might be replaced unjustly in the episcopate from which he had been righteously deposed.” (Cyprian, Epistle 67, in The Ante- Nicene Fathers, 5:371)

“The bishops of every country ought to know who is the chief among them, and to esteem him as their head, and not to do any great thing without his consent; but every one to manage only the affairs that belong to his own parish, and the places subject to it. But let him not do anything without the consent of all; for it is by this means there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified by Christ, in the Holy Spirit.” (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles in The Ante- Nicene Fathers, 7:502.)

““Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop.”” (Canons of the Council of Nicea, VI, in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Series II, 14:15.)

“Wherever a bishop may be, whether at Rome or at Eugubium, at Constantinople or at Rhegtum, at Alexandria or at Thanis, he is of the same worth, and of the same priesthood; the force of wealth and lowness of poverty do not render a bishop higher or lower; for all of them are the successors of the apostles.” (Jerome Epistle 85, ad Evag., vol i. p. 259, as cited by Cathcart in The Papal System , pg. 67.

Gregory The First (540-604 A.D.) Bishop Of Rome-“Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others.” (Gregory I, Book VII, Epistle XXXIII, in The Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers, Series II, 12:226. 9

The Need To Return To Christ Jesus And His Pattern For The Church

God has placed His blessing upon those who abide in His Word (John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:14-17), and has likewise placed His curse on those who depart from it (Deuteronomy 4:1-2; Proverbs 30:6; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 22:18-19).

Today in our religious world, the most pressing need is for believers from every denomination to return to the pattern for the church (2 Timothy 1:13; Jeremiah 6:16) that is set forth in God’s Word, the Bible (1 Corinthians 14:37; Colossians 2:6-7; Jeremiah 6:16).  

The central message of the Word of God is the Gospel, or “Good News,” that God’s Son (Jesus Christ) came to this world to die for the sins of mankind (1 Timothy 2:6; Isaiah 53).

Jesus died to pay for the price for each person’s sins because God desires for all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). It is upon Jesus Christ and His Word that we can safely build our lives; only He is the solid foundation upon which His church is built (Matthew 7:24-27).  

Why not today place your faith in Jesus Christ, repent of your sins, confess Him as the Son of God, and be buried with Him in baptism (Acts 2:37-38; 8:35-38)?

When you obey God’s plan of salvation, He will add you to His church (Acts 2:47), and He promises to walk with you and to build you up through His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-13).

When we fall short and sin as Christians (1 John 1:8), He will forgive us when we repent of that sin and confess it to Him in prayer (1 John 1:9).  

If I can assist you in any way, please contact me.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.