The “Lost Books” Of The Bible:Lesson Three   The Apocrypha Of The Old Testament  

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)  

Upon Completion, Please Return Answered Questions To:

Mark Tabata (Facebook). 

The Tabatas  

608 Dawahare Drive  

Hazard KY

41701  

606-216-1757 (Text or Call)

hazardhomecoc@gmail.com  

Introduction  

In our previous lessons, we have noticed that the Bible was created through a six-step process which was Providentially overseen by God.

The Canon of the Old Testament was a natural development flowing from the people of God recognizing a writing as coming from God through a Divinely confirmed Prophet or Apostle.

“Five foundational questions lie at the very heart of the discovery process: Was the book written by a prophet of God? The basic question was whether a book was prophetic. Propheticity determined canonicity. A prophet was one who declared what God had disclosed. Thus, only the prophetic writings were canonic. Anything not written by a prophet of God was not part of the Word of God. The characteristic words “And the word of the Lord came to the prophet,” or “The Lord said unto,” or “God spoke” so fill the Old Testament that they have become proverbial. If substantiated these claims of inspiration are so clear that it was hardly necessary to discuss whether some books were divine in origin. In most cases it was simply a matter of establishing the authorship of the book. If it was written by a recognized apostle or prophet, its place in the canon was secured….Was the writer confirmed by acts of God? A miracle is an act of God to confirm the word of God given through a prophet of God to the people of God. It is the sign to substantiate his sermon; the miracle to confirm his message…Does the message tell the truth about God? Only immediate contemporaries had access to the supernatural confirmation of the prophet’s message. Other believers in distant places and subsequent times had to depend on other tests. One such test was the authenticity of a book. That is, does the book tell the truth about God and his world as known from previous revelations?…Did it come with the power of God? Another test for canonicity is a book’s power to edify and equip believers. This requires the power of God…Was it accepted by the people of God? A prophet of God was confirmed by an act of God (miracle) and was recognized as a spokesman by the people who received the message. Thus, the seal of canonicity depended on whether the book was accepted by the people.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 81-83 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

The fact that the Prophets and Apostles sometimes quoted from non-inspired sources did not automatically elevate these sources to the status of being canonical.  

In this article, we are going to examine a series of books known as the “Apocrypha.”

The word “Apocrypha” means “doubtful,” “hidden” or “uncertain.”

“From Greek apokrypha (2 Esdras 12:37-38; 14:45-46), meaning “hidden things”; religious texts, the authority or authenticity of which is questionable. Apocrypha can refer to any such texts not in an accepted Old or New Testament canon. Formally, however, the word refers to books in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Old Testaments that aren’t in Protestant Old Testaments, including Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (also known as Wisdom of Sirach), Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, 1 and 2 Maccabees, 1 and 2 Esdras, and additions to the books of Daniel, Esther, and Psalms.” (James Garlow, Timothy Paul Jones, & April Williams, The Da Vinci Codebreaker: An Easy To Use Fact Checker, 21 (Kindle Edition); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Bethany House)

The Old Testament Apocrypha has reference to those books which were written between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament.

It is important to remember that the last Old Testament Book that was written was the Book of Malachi, around 408 B.C.

“The Jewish teachers acknowledged that their prophetic line ended in the fourth century B.C. Yet, as even Catholics acknowledge, all apocryphal books were written after this time. Josephus wrote: “From Artaxerxes until our time everything has been recorded, but has not been deemed worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the exact succession of the prophets ceased” (Josephus). Additional rabbinical statements on the cessation of prophecy support this (see Beckwith, 370). Seder Olam Rabbah 30 declares “Until then [the coming of Alexander the Great] the prophets prophesied through the Holy Spirit. From then on, ‘Incline thine ear and hear the words of the wise.’” Baba Bathra 12b declares: “Since the day when the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from the prophets and given to the wise.” Rabbi Samuel bar Inia said, “The Second Temple lacked five things which the First Temple possessed, namely, the fire, the ark, the Urim and Thummin, the oil of anointing and the Holy Spirit [of prophecy].” Thus, the Jewish fathers (rabbis) acknowledged that the time period during which their Apocrypha was written was not a time when God was giving inspired writings.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 33 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

As such, the books of the Apocrypha were written between the Old and New Testaments and were not accepted as inspired by the Hebrews.

“The Apocrypha are books that were never in the Hebrew Bible. The Israelites did not consider them to be canonical. They are not in modern Jewish Bibles (the Jewish Old Testament). Modern Jewish scholars don’t consider them to be canonical either. The modern Jewish Old Testament and the modern Protestant Old Testament contain the same books.” (Mary Ann Collins-A Former Roman Catholic Nun, Catholic Concerns: Where Does The Road To Rome Lead? 64 (Kindle Edition); Bloomington, NY; iUniverse Inc.)

The Roman Catholic Church includes these books in their Bible, and actually places a condemnation on anyone who rejects them.  

“As we have already seen in chapter 1, both Catholics and Protestants affirm the inspiration and divine authority of the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon (thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament). A crucial difference emerges, however, over eleven pieces of literature (seven books and four parts of books) that the Roman Catholic Church infallibly pronounced part of the canon in A.D. 1546 at the Council of Trent. These books are known by Protestants as the Apocrypha and by Catholics as the deuterocanonical books (lit. “second canon”). It is important to note that, unlike some Protestant groups,1 Catholics’ use of this “second canon” does not imply that the Apocrypha is a secondary canon of inferior status. In spite of some current speculative usage by Catholic scholars to the contrary, the Council of Trent affords these books full canonical status and pronounces an anathema (excommunication) on any who reject them. After enumerating the books, including the eleven apocryphal books, the Council stated: “If anyone, however, should not accept the said books as sacred and canonical, entire with all their parts … and if both knowingly and deliberately he should condemn the aforesaid tradition let him be anathema.’…The same language affirming the Apocrypha is repeated by Vatican II.’…Finally, even the notes in the current Roman Catholic Bible (NAB) make the revealing admission that the apocryphal books are “religious books used by both Jews and Christians which were not included in the collection of inspired writings.” Instead, they “were introduced rather late into the collection of the Bible. Catholics call them `deuterocanonical’ (second canon) books.” (Norman Geisler & Ralph MacKenzie, Roman Catholics & Evangelicals: Agreements And Differences,1801-1852 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

An Overview Of The Apocrypha Of The Old Testament  

The following is a brief review of the books of the Apocrypha: 

First Esdras:

This book is about the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. “Esdras” is another form of the name “Ezra.”

It focuses on how Zerubbabel won the favor of King Darius and received permission for the Hebrews to return to Jerusalem.  
Second Book Of Esdras: This book contains several “visions” which Ezra supposedly had. There are several references to the coming Messiah (7:28-29; 12:32; 13:32, 37, 52). Many scholars believe this book was written in the first century A.D.  

The Book Of Tobit:

This book centers around a Hebrew man named Tobit. He loses his eyesight and sends his son, Tobias, to get ten talents of silver. His son is accompanied by a man, who is actually the angel Raphael.

On their journey, they encounter a man named Raguel, whose daughter Sara has been widowed seven times.

A demon named Asmodeus is in love with Sara, and kills her husbands before they can consummate their wedding. Raphael tells Tobias how to expel the demon, and Tobias seeks the hand of Sara in marriage. While the marriage feast ensues, the angel Raphael travels to Rages and obtains the money for Tobit.

Tobias and his wife then return to Nineveh where Tobit is healed.   

The Book Of Judith:

This is supposed to be a book about the murder of the Assyrian general Holofernes by Judith, who is a rich and beautiful widow of a man named Betulia. This book is full of historical contradictions.  

Extra Chapters To The Book Of Esther:

More detail about the deliverance from the plot of Haman.

However, these additions manifest several historical contradictions and show that this section is not inspired.  

The Wisdom Of Solomon:

This book claims to be an address of King Solomon to the Alexandrian Jews. It shows definite traces of Greek philosophy, and many scholars believe that it was written during the first century A.D.  

The Wisdom Of Jesus The Son Of Sirach (Also Known As Ecclesiasticus):

This is the only book of the Apocrypha where the author identifies himself. In 50:27 he calls himself “Jesus the son of Sirach of Jerusalem.”

The book is similar to the book of Proverbs. It contains pithy statements and discussions of morality. It discusses such topics as old age, women, servants, wisdom, friendship, and anger.

Some leaves of the book were discovered in 1896, and had 23 chapters written in Hebrew. The name “Ecclesiasticus” comes from the time of Cyprian (A.D. 248-258).  

The Book Of Baruch:

This book claims to be written by Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah the Prophet (Jeremiah 36:45:1-2).

It purports to be a letter written to the Jews who were in captivity in Babylon (606-536 B.C.). However, historical contradictions show that it was written much later.  

The Epistle Of Jeremiah:

This is a letter which claims to have been written by the Prophet Jeremiah to the Jews who were in Babylonian captivity.  

The Song Of The Three Holy Children:

This purports to be the song which was sung by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego when they were cast into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).

The book appears to have been copied partly from Daniel 9 and from the Psalms (specifically Psalm 104 & Psalm 150).  

The History Of Susanna:

This book tells the story of Susanna, a woman who was married to a Hebrew named Joacim. Two men became infatuated with Susanna while watching her walk in her garden.

Watching her every day, they conceive a plan to insist she have sexual relations with them or else they would bear false witness that she had been unfaithful to her husband.

Susanna claims that it is better to die for doing right then to sin in the sight of God, and the elders try to have her killed.

God allows Daniel the Prophet to come in and interrogate the two wicked judges and finds out the truth. They are then executed and Susanna is set free.  

Bel And The Dragon:

This apocryphal book tells the story of Daniel confronting the false gods of Babylon. One of these gods, Bel, is an idol that the king and others worshiped.

The priests of Bel propose a challenge: they will enter into the sanctuary of Bel and leave lots of food. Then the doors will be sealed from outside so no one may enter. If the food is gone in the morning (i.e., if Bel has eaten it) then Daniel will be put to death.

The king agrees!

The food is brought, and the doors are sealed. What the king doesn’t know is that the priests have created a secret door in the room by which they and their families come and steal the food. The next day, the food is gone!

But what the priests do not know is that Daniel’s servants have put down ashes on the floor and the evidence of their footprints is all through the room! They then confess to the king, who has them put to death.

Later, Daniel charges that the dragon idol that the people worship is a false god. He is thrown into a lion’s den but God provides food and sustenance for him. Daniel is released and vindicated.  

The Prayer Of Manasses King Of Judah:

This is supposedly the prayer that king Manasseh prayed when he repented before God (2 Chronicles 33). It is made up of phrases and lines from the canonical Scriptures.  
The Books Of The Maccabees:

These books are very interesting and useful. They tell the history of the Jewish people and their conflict with the Greeks which eventually led them to seek alliance with Rome.

While the books are valuable in providing some historical background of the pre-first century world, they do not belong in the canon of Scripture.  

This is a summary of the books of the Old Testament Apocrypha.

Let us now move to a more thorough investigation of why these books should not be classified as inspired Scripture. 

One: Apocryphal Books Were Rejected From The Canon Because Of Their Authorship  

One of the reasons why the Apocryphal books were rightly rejected from the canon is because of their uncertain authorship. They were not written by confirmed Prophets or Apostles, as they themselves acknowledge. Close scrutiny of these books demonstrates this fact.

For example:

1 Maccabees 4:45-46-45    And a good counsel came into their minds, to pull it down: lest it should be a reproach to them, because the Gentiles had defiled it; so they threw it down.
46    And they laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple, in a convenient place, till there should come a prophet, and give answer concerning them.

1 Maccabees 9:27-And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day, that there was no prophet seen in Israel.

1 Maccabees 14:41-41    And that the Jews, and their priests, had consented that he should be their prince and high priest for ever, till there should arise a faithful prophet:

The books themselves are often anonymous.

Furthermore, the Hebrews of the time acknowledge that they are not certain of the authorship of these books (which is one of the primary reasons why they were not included in the canon of Scripture).  

Two: Apocryphal Books Were Rejected From The Canon Because Of Their Time Of Writing

The Apocryphal books were written at a time when there were no Prophets in Israel, as the books themselves freely acknowledge.

This coincides and confirms what we have previously noticed, i.e., that the Apocrypha was written during a period of time which the Hebrews acknowledged that there were no Prophets in Israel.

Further, there are indications that The Lord said that there would no more Prophets after Malachi until the time of John the Baptist: 

Malachi 4:4-6-4    “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. 5    Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 6    And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

Many of the Jews believed that this meant there would no Prophets until the time of the Messiah.  

Three: Apocryphal Books Were Rejected From The Canon Because Of Their Obvious Errors  

If a Book is truly inspired, it must be free from error in its original form.

Remember that the Bible never extends the promise of inerrancy to every copy of the New Testament. Over time, scribal errors seeped into many of the manuscripts.

It is important to realize that these errors do not affect any crucial matter of doctrine; and that even with the variations in thr manuscripts of the Bible, the text is still pure!

“There is widespread misunderstanding among critics about the “errors” in the biblical manuscripts. Some have estimated there are about 400,000 of them. First of all, these are not “errors” but variant readings, the vast majority of which are strictly grammatical. Second, these readings are spread throughout more than 5,800 manuscripts, so that a variant spelling of one letter of one word in one verse in 2,000 manuscripts is counted as 2,000 “errors.” Textual scholars Westcott and Hort estimated that only 1 in 60 of these variants has significance. This would leave a text 98.33 percent pure. Philip Schaff calculated that, of the 150,000 variants known in his day, only 400 changed the meaning of the passage, only 50 were of real significance, and not even one affected “an article of faith or a precept of duty which is not abundantly sustained by other and undoubted passages, or by the whole tenor of Scripture teaching” (Schaff, 177).” (Norman Geisler, The Big Book Of Christian Apologetics: An A To Z Guide, 392 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books

With that in mind, we have to observe that the Apocryphal books show diverse errors from their very beginning.

These errors include historical and doctrinal types, as well as irreconcilable contradictions.

For example:

“These books contain historical errors. “It is claimed that Tobit was alive when the Assyrians conquered Israel (722 B.C.) as well as when Jeroboam revolted against Judah (931 B.C.),” which would make him at least 209 years old.15 Yet, according to the account, he died when he was only 158 years old. Moreover, the book of Judith “speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as reigning in Nineveh instead of Babylon (Judith 1:1).”16 Such inaccuracies are inconsistent with the doctrine of inspiration, which teaches that inspired books are “God-breathed” and free from errors.” (Erwin Lutzer, Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust The Bible, 3159-3168 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Publishers)

“Fourth, the hindering of the construction of the temple until the second year of Darius’s reign occurs twice (2:30; 5:72-73). Moreover, the way forward in rebuilding the temple is effected by two incompatible means: the success of Zerubbabel in the court of Darius (3:1-5:6) and the exhortation of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraging Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the people in Jerusalem (6:1-2). This is the most telling internal problem…In light of its contradictions of other sources and its own internal contradictions,, 1 Esdras would not seem to be primarily interested in history, even though it is in the form of historiography.” (David DeSilva, Introducing The Apocrypha: Message, Content, And Significance,4123-4128 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic)

“First, there are numerous contradictions between Addition A 12:1-6 and the older report of a foiled assassination attempt on the king by two eunuchs in 2:21-23, if these are taken to be doublets of the same event. Even if they are taken as different plots thwarted by Mordecai five years apart, at least one contradiction remains: Haman’s motive for destroying Mordecai along with his people. In Addition A 12:6, Haman looms behind the assassination attempt on Artaxerxes that Mordecai thwarted and seeks vengeance on Mordecai for spoiling his plans, whereas in Hebrew Esth. 3:5-6, Haman is motivated by Mordecai’s refusal to do him obeisance (a motive also assumed, however, in Addition C 13:12-15).” (David DeSilva, Introducing The Apocrypha: Message, Content, And Significance,1620 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic)

With these things in mind, it is evident that these books are not inspired of God.   

Four: Apocryphal Books Were Never Accepted By Christ Or The Apostles  

Jesus and His Apostles were familiar with and accepted the thirty-nine Books of the Old Testament. This is evident by their use of the common phrase “the Law, Prophets, and the Psalms.”  

Luke 24:44-Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”  

This phrase was used by the Hebrews to refer to the thirty-nine Books of the Old Testament.

“In the Law of Moses. That is, the first major section of the OT, consisting of the first five books.33 The Prophets. That is, the second major section of the OT consisting of the “former prophets” (Joshua through 2 Kings) and the “latter prophets” (the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; and the minor prophets: Hosea through Malachi).34 In Acts 13:15; 24:14; 28:23 the Law and the Prophets appear together and refer to the entire OT. And the Psalms. This probably refers to the third major section of the OT called the “Writings,” which contains the rest of the books in the OT. The first (in the Hebrew arrangement) and largest book in this section is the Psalms. We find the same threefold division of the OT in the prologue of Sirach, where we read twice of the law, the prophets, and the other books (the writings).” (Robert Stein, The New American Commentary: Volume 24-Luke, 619-620 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group)

“By the time of Jesus the books of the Old Testament were divided into three sections (Luke 24:44): (1) The Law, (2) The Prophets, and (3) The Writings or the Psalms. Although Jesus disagreed with the oral tradition of the Jews of His day, we have no indication that He disagreed with their canon of scripture (John 10:31-36). Even though the Hebrew Bible contains the same number of books as our English translations, they arranged those books differently. The had “the Law” which consisted of the same books as we list in the Pentateuch. Then they listed “The Prophets” which they divided into two categories. (1) The Former Prophets” Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings and (2) The Latter Prophets which are the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the twelve Minor Prophets which they put into one book they called “The Twelve.” Their section called “The Writings Or Psalms” was made up of the poetical books of Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. These were followed by what is called the “Five Rolls” consisting of Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, and Ecclesiastes. The last section in their Bible was the Historical Books which included Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and the last book, Chronicles (McDowell 34). Indirectly, Jesus knew and approved of this arrangement. When He mentioned that men from the Old Testament had been killed, He referred to Abel and Zechariah (Luke 11:41). Abel was the first martyr and his death is recorded in the book of Genesis. Zechariah’s death is recorded in II Chronicles 24:21. This is the last book in their list of books. Thus, He was saying in effect, you have killed people from the beginning of the Old Testament until the last book of the Old Testament.” (Wayne Burger, ‘Who Fired That Canon? The process Of Canonization’ in Sean Hochdorf (Director), The 28th Annual West Visalia Church Of Christ Lectureship: From God’s Mind To Man’s Pen-Volume 1: Inspiration, Canonization, Transcription, Translation, 152-153; no publisher cited)

“The basis for this threefold division of the Hebrew Scriptures is found in Jewish history. The earliest possible testimony to it is the prologue to the book of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, during the second century B.C. The Jewish Mishnah (Teaching), the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, and subsequent Jewish tradition have also continued this threefold categorization of their Scriptures.” (Norman Geisler & William Nix, From God To Us; How We Got Our Bible, 10 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, Illinois; Moody Press)

While Jesus and the Apostles show familiarity with the books of the Apocrypha, they never place them on equal footing with the Old Testament Scriptures.    

“There may be New Testament allusions to the Apocrypha, but not once is there a definite quotation from any Apocrypha book accepted by the Roman Catholic church. There are allusions to Pseudepigraphical books (false writings) that are rejected by Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, such as the Bodily Assumption of Moses (Jude 9) and the Book of Enoch (Jude 14–15). There are also citations from Pagan poets and philosophers (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Titus 1:12). None of these sources are cited as Scripture, nor with authority. The New Testament simply refers to a truth contained in these books which otherwise may (and do) have errors. Roman Catholic scholars agree with this assessment. The New Testament never refers to any document outside the canon as authoritative.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 29; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Conclusion  

The 39 Book Canon of the Old Testament was established with the close of the Book of Malachi.

The books of the Apocrypha, written between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament, were rejected by the Hebrews from the canon for excellent reasons.

While these books may have valuable historical information, they are not part of the Bible.  

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

Questions  

What is the meaning of the word “Apocrypha?” ________________________

According to the apocryphal book of Tobit, what was the name of the angel who accompanied Tobias? _______________

Several leaves of the apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus were discovered in the year ________ and had ____ chapters written in ____________.  

According to Josephus, “From ____________________ until our time everything has been recorded, but has not been deemed worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the exact succession of the prophets ____________.”  

Complete the following verses from the Apocrypha: 

 1 Maccabees 4:45-46-45    And a good counsel came into their minds, to pull it down: lest it should be a reproach to them, because the ________________ had defiled it; so they threw it down. 46    And they laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple, in a convenient place, till there should come a prophet, and give ____________ concerning them.

1 Maccabees 9:27-And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day, that there was no ______________ seen in Israel.

1 Maccabees 14:41-41    And that the Jews, and their priests, had consented that he should be their prince and high priest for ever, till there should arise a ________________ ______________

What are some sources from Jewish history before the time of Christ which refer to the three-fold division of the Old Testament? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What Old Testament Prophet suggests that there would be no more Prophets until the time of the Messiah? _________________

The “Lost Books” Of The Bible:Lesson Two   The “Missing Books” Of The Old Testament

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)  

Upon Completion, Please Return Answered Questions To:

Mark Tabata (Facebook). 

The Tabatas  

608 Dawahare Drive  

Hazard KY

41701  

606-216-1757 (Text or Call)

hazardhomecoc@gmail.com  

Introduction  

In this lesson, we will be continuing our study of the alleged “lost books of the Bible.”

Throughout the Old Testament, there are many passages which mention books which are not found in the Bible.

A partial list would include the following: 

The Book Of The Wars Of Yahweh (Numbers 21:14)  

The Book Of Jasher (Joshua 10:12-13)

The Acts Of Solomon (I Kings 11:41)  

The Acts Of Samuel The Seer (I Chronicles 29:29)

The Acts Of Gad The Seer (I Chronicles 29:29) 

The Acts Of Nathan The Prophet (I Chronicles 29:29)  

History Of Nathan The Prophet (II Chronicles 9:29)

Visions Of Iddo The Seer (II Chronicles 9:29

The Acts Of Jehu Son Of Hannai (II Chronicles 20:34)

Acts Of The Seers (II Chronicles 33:19)

Midrash Of The Prophet Iddo (II Chronicles 13:22)

The Chronicles Of The Kings Of The Medes And Persians (Esther 10:2)

Paul’s Letter To The Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16)   

What are we to make of this?

Are there books which should be in the Bible, but which aren’t?

That is certainly the claim made by many people.

Let’s carefully study these matters.  

One: Just Because The Bible Alludes To A Non-Canonical Source Does Not Therefore Imply That Said Source Is Inspired

There are several times in the Scriptures where non-inspired writings are referenced and alluded to.
For example: 

Matthew 5:21-“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’

Matthew 5:27-“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.

Matthew 5:31-“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’

Matthew 5:33-“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’  

Matthew 5:38-“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH. 

Matthew 5:43-“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’   

“Jesus used the phrase ‘You have heard that the ancients were told,’ or a similar one, to introduce each of the six corrective illustrations He gives in this part of His sermon (see vv. 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). The phrase has reference to rabbinical, traditional teaching, and in each illustration Jesus contrasts that human teaching with the divine Word of God. The examples show ways in which God’s righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (see v. 20)…Jesus is not modifying the law of Moses, the teaching of the Psalms, the standards of the prophets, or any other part of Scripture. The essence of what He has just said in verses 17-20 is (1) that His teaching stands firmly in agreement with every truth, even every word, of the Old Testament, and (2) that the Jewish religious traditions did not…The rabbis of past generations were often called the ‘fathers of antiquity,’ or ‘the men of long ago,’ and it is to them that ‘the ancients’ (vv. 21, 33) refers. Jesus was contrasting His teaching-and the true teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures themselves-with the Jewish written and oral traditions that had accumulated over the previous several hundred years and that had so terribly perverted God’s revelation.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 7025-7066 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, Illinois; Moody Press)

Jesus quotes from the rabbinical writings and traditions of his day, demonstrating both a familiarity with these teachings and a clear contrast between them and the Word of God.

Consider the example of the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 15:33-Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Paul here quotes from a pagan source:

“Although Paul is quoting an Old Testament text (albeit without a quotation formula to explicitly mark it as such), it is not necessarily important for his readers to recognize it as a scriptural quotation (I Corinthians 15:32 quoting Isaiah 22:13, M.T.). The sentiment expressed in the line is widespread in both the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds…”Paul now moves from a biblical text with an anti-Epicurean thrust (vs. 32 b) to a quotation from the third-to-fourth century Athenian dramatist Meander: ‘Do no be misled; bad company corrupts good character.’ …The epigram from Meander’s Thais was a popular one in Paul’s day and would probably have been known to any educated Corinthian.” (Roy E. Ciampa & Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter To The Corinthians: The Pillar New Testament Commentary, 791-792 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

Again:

Acts 17:28-for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 

“The precise expression is found in the writings of Aratus (270 B.C.); and though not the exact words still the idea is found in the writings of Cleanthes (300-220 B.C.). Cleanthes was a Stoic philosopher, and the sentiment here quoted was directly at variance with the Epicureans’ beliefs. Aratus was a native of Cilcia, the same country Paul was from. This quotation of the heathen poets would at once quicken the attention of the hearers. This was not an illiterate Jew, but a man of culture, acquainted with the thoughts of their own great poets.” (Gareth Reese, Acts: New Testament History, 632; Joplin, Missouri; College Press)

Paul even quotes from pagan prophets!

Titus 1:12-13-One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

“This phrase is found in the Minos of the Cretan poet Epimenides, a sixth-century B.C. poet of Knossos, Crete, quoted by Callimachus (ca. 300-240 B.C.). Epimenides joked of his own people that the absence of wild beasts on the island was supplied by its’ human inhabitants…Paul occasionally quoted Ancient Greek poets (Acts 17:28).” (Thomas C. Oden, First And Second Timothy And Titus: INTERPRETATION: A Bible Commentary For Teaching And Preaching, 65-66 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

We could also consider the writings of Luke and Jude (as well as other New Testament writers):

Luke 1:1-4-Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.  

“The three primary ways of understanding this verb involve Luke’s (1) having studied the various narratives referred to in v. 1, (2) having become acquainted with the things that had been fulfilled (1:1), and (3) having participated in the events. Although the latter interpretation is possible in Acts with regard to the ‘we’ sections, Luke was not interested at this point in establishing his qualifications for writing the second part of his work (Acts) by showing his participation in those events. “This interpretation is also refuted by 1:2, where the author implied that he was not an eyewitness, i.e., he did not participate in the things referred to in his Gospel. It seems best to understand this term (a participle in Greek) in the first sense. “Luke, in describing his credentials for writing his Gospel, claimed he had investigated the various narratives and eyewitness accounts which tell of ‘the things fulfilled.'” (Robert A. Stein, The New American Commentary: Volume 24 Luke: An Exegetical And Theological Exposition Of Holy Scripture, 64 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B&H Publishing Group)

Finally, consider Jude:

Jude 1:9-Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”   

“The story is reputed to come from a book titled Assumption Of Moses…What we do learn from the traditions compiled by Bauckham is that the devil contested Moses’ ‘right to an honorable burial,’ charging him with the of Egyptian…”Jude’s reference to a noncanonical book is puzzling for many Christians today…These are vexing questions, but we should not draw the conclusion that the citation from a book means that the entire book is inspired. Paul cited Greek poets and sayings without suggesting that the entire work was authoritative Scripture (Acts 17:28; I Cor. 15:33; Titus 1:12).” (Thomas R. Schreiner, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical And Theological Exposition Of Holy Scripture: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Volume 37); 459-460 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B&H Publishing Group)

Clearly, the inspired writers were familiar with non-inspired writings and often quoted them to establish their points.

Just because an inspired writer references a non-inspired work does not mean that he endorses everything which that source endorses.  

“Some Mormons try to make much of the fact that the Bible mentions specific books that are not contained in the Bible as Scripture. Luke 1:1, for example, says that “many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us” (emphasis added). There is also a reference to the book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18) and the “book of the wars of the LORD ” (Numbers 21:14). Mormons thus conclude that these are lost books of the Bible, when, in fact, there is no evidence that these books were ever intended to become a part of the canon of Scripture. Simply because a book is cited in the Bible does not mean that the book belongs in the Bible.” (Ron Rhodes & Marian Bodine, Reasoning From The Scriptures With The Mormons, 139-140 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

Two: The Alleged “Lost Books” Mentioned In The Old Testament Were Clearly Not Considered Canonical 

The second thing to consider regarding these alleged “lost books” is that the Prophets and Apostles (as well as the Hebrews overall) clearly did not consider them Divinely inspired.

How do we know this?

Very simply, because they did not include them in the canon of Scripture. This immediately tells us that the books were not of canonical status.  

Now, this does not mean that the aforementioned books do not contain anything worthwhile; indeed, it is precisely because they do include important information that they are mentioned by the inspired Prophets and Apostles.

However, simply because a document told the truth about some historical fact was not enough for it to be considered canonical; on that basis, any authentic and credible history textbook would be on par with Scripture!  

“Not all Jewish religious literature was considered canonical by the believing community. There was certainly religious significance to some of the earlier books such as the Book of Jasher (Jos 10:13 ), the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Num 21:14) and others (see 1 Ki 11:41). The books of the Jewish Apocrypha, written after the close of the Old Testament period (c. 400 B.C.), have a definite religious significance but were never considered canonical by official Judaism (see chap. 8). The crucial difference between canonical and noncanonical literature is that the former is normative (authoritative) and the latter is not. Inspired books have divine binding authority on the believer; the latter may have some value for devotion and edification, but they are not to be used to define or delimit any doctrine. Canonical books provide the truth criteria by which all noncanonical books are to be judged. No article of faith may be based on any noncanonical work, regardless of its religious value. The divinely inspired and authoritative books are the sole basis for doctrine. Whatever complementary support canonical truth derives from other books, it in no way lends canonical value to those books. The support is purely historical and has no authoritative theological value. The truth of inspired Scripture alone is the canon or foundation of the truths of faith.” (Norman Geisler & William Nix, From God To Us: How We Got Our Bible, 75-76 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Press)

As demonstrated in the previous lesson, canonicity was determined primarily by whether or not a Book was written by a confirmed Prophet or Apostle.

As such, the Old Testament canon of Scripture was closed long before the time of Christ. Many ancient sources (such as the first century Jewish historian Josephus) bear witness to this fact.  

“The canon was substantially fixed long before Jamnia, and discussions there did not admit certain books into the canon but allowed these books to remain. 2 Additional evidence on the Old Testament canon comes from Josephus, a well- known Jewish historian of the first century….We can draw several conclusions from Josephus. 1. The number of books looked upon as having divine authority is carefully limited to twenty- two. By joining Ruth to Judges and Lamentations to Jeremiah, and remembering that the Jews enumerated their books differently, the twenty- two books mentioned by Josephus are the same as the thirty- nine books in our Bible today. 2. The division of the books is according to a three- part pattern. Although individual books are included in different categories, they form a threefold grouping similar to the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. 3. The time covered in these books is expressly limited. Josephus believed that the canon extended from Moses to Artaxerxes (464- 424 B.C.). This corresponds with the Jewish belief that prophetic inspiration ceased with Malachi, who apparently was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. 4 This was the period of Artaxerxes. Others indeed wrote later, but their writings are not on a par with the earlier writings. In other words, according to Josephus, the canon is closed. 4. The text of these books is sacred. No one has dared to cancel or alter it, since to every Jew these writings are “decrees of God.” (Neil Lightfoot, How We Got The Bible, 154-156 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

“The Jewish teachers acknowledged that their prophetic line ended in the fourth century B.C. Yet, as even Catholics acknowledge, all apocryphal books were written after this time. Josephus wrote: “From Artaxerxes until our time everything has been recorded, but has not been deemed worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the exact succession of the prophets ceased” (Josephus). Additional rabbinical statements on the cessation of prophecy support this (see Beckwith, 370). Seder Olam Rabbah 30 declares “Until then [the coming of Alexander the Great] the prophets prophesied through the Holy Spirit. From then on, ‘Incline thine ear and hear the words of the wise.’” Baba Bathra 12b declares: “Since the day when the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from the prophets and given to the wise.” Rabbi Samuel bar Inia said, “The Second Temple lacked five things which the First Temple possessed, namely, the fire, the ark, the Urim and Thummin, the oil of anointing and the Holy Spirit [of prophecy].” Thus, the Jewish fathers (rabbis) acknowledged that the time period during which their Apocrypha was written was not a time when God was giving inspired writings.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 33 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

What’s more, we need to consider that the Prophets of God knew of these books. If these books had been inspired, what would they have done? Undoubtedly, they would have accepted these books into the canon immediately.

Indeed, this was the practice of the people immediately when a Book had been confirmed to have been written by a true Prophet or Apostle:

Deuteronomy 31:24-26-24    So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;

Daniel 9:2-in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

If these “missing books” had been inspired, they would have been readily ushered into the canon by Joshua and the other Prophets and Apostles.  

So, the thing to notice here is that these “missing books” of the Old Testament were not considered inspired by God.  

Three: The Alleged “Lost Books”Mentioned In The Old Testament May Be Canonical Books Under A Different Name  

It will also help us to consider that some of the “missing books” mentioned above may actually be Bible books, under a different name.

One example is in the Book of I Chronicles:

1 Chronicles 29:29-Now the acts of King David, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer,

There is strong evidence that this book was actually the combined Books of I & II Samuel, begun by Samuel and completed by Nathan and Gad.

“The only citation to these works is found in 1 Chronicles 29:29. This probably refers to 1 and 2 Samuel, which Talmudic tradition says was written by Samuel until his death (see 1 Samuel 25:1), and was finished by Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet (Rodkinson, 1918, V:45-46). With this explanation, it stands to reason that Ezra was referring to one work (Samuel) by its composite authors—Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. So these three “lost books” probably cite a single, currently existing work, known to us as 1 and 2 Samuel.” (Apologetics Press Staff, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=66)

As such, some of the “lost books” were undoubtedly Old Testament Books completed by other Prophets and found under a different name.  

Four: The Alleged “Lost Books” Mentioned In The Old Testament Were Primarily Used For Historical Corroboration Of Canonical Statements  

It is also important to realize that these books are primarily mentioned as historical corroboration of other statements made by the Prophets and the Apostles. Several times we read statements like this: 

1 Kings 11:41-   Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?  

1 Kings 14:21-Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

2 Chronicles 9:29- Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat?  

These references are simply the inspired Prophets mentioning the various historical sources which confirm and elaborate upon their statements.  

“The Book of the Wars of the Lord. This book is quoted in Num. 21:14- 15 (21:17- 18 and 27- 30 may also represent quotations from this book). The part of the book quoted describes the territory conquered by God in behalf of the Israelites. The book was probably a collection of poems that relate the conquest of the land during the time of Moses and Joshua. As the title of the book suggests, the Lord (acting as commander- in- chief) was responsible for the success of the conquest. The Books of Joshua. Joshua wrote one book detailing the allotment of Canaan to the Israelite tribes (Josh. 18:9) and a book similar to The Book of the Covenant listed above (Josh. 24:25- 26). The Book of Jashar (or Upright) A book quoted twice in the OT: Joshua’s poetic address to the sun and the moon (Josh. 10:12- 13) and David’s lament for Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam. 1:17- 27). Others would include Solomon’s words of dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:12- 13), which the earliest Greek translation attributes to the book of song (Hb. shir) , a transposition of letters of Hebrew jshr or ishr for Jashar. Deborah’s song (Judg. 5) and Miriam’s song (Exod. 15:20- 21) are sometimes seen as part of Jashar. The Book of Jashar probably consisted of poems on important events in Israel’s history collected during the time of David or Solomon. The Book of Jashar is often compared to or identified with The Book of the Wars of the Lord discussed above. The Book of the Acts of Solomon Probably a biographical document that included such stories as Solomon’s judgment between the two harlots (1 Kings 3:16- 28), Solomon’s administrative arrangements (1 Kings 4:1- 19), and the visit of the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1- 13). Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel Perhaps a continuous journal compiled by scribes from various sources but not to be confused with 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Bible. The writer of 1 and 2 Kings mentions this book 18 times as containing more complete information on the reigns of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 14:19; 15:31; 16:5,14,20,27; 22:39; 2 Kings 1:18; 10:34; 13:8,12; 14:15,28; 15:11,15,21, 26,31). Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah Source similar to the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel , not to be confused with 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Bible. The writer of 1 and 2 Kings mentions this book 15 times as containing more complete information on the reigns of the kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29; 15:7,23; 22:45; 2 Kings 8:23; 12:19; 14:18; 15:6,36; 16:19; 20:20; 21:17,25; 23:28; 24:5). Books Mentioned in 1 and 2 Chronicles Included are the Book of the Kings of Israel (1 Chron. 9:1; 2 Chron. 20:34), the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah (2 Chron. 27:7; 35:27; 36:8), the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel ( 2 Chron. 16:11; 25:26; 28:26; 32:32), the Acts of the Kings of Israel ( 2 Chron. 33:18), and the Commentary on the Book of the Kings ( 2 Chron. 24:27)…Many think these titles are references to the same work and refer to it as the Midrash of the Kings. This work may contain the books of the chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah listed above or at least be very similar in content to them. of King David (1 Chron. 27:24), an untitled work containing the plan for the temple (1 Chron. 28:19), works on the organization of the Levites written by David and Solomon (2 Chron. 35:4), and lamentations for the death of Josiah by Jeremiah and others (2 Chron. 35:25). Book of the Chronicles This is a work that contained genealogies and possibly other historical material (Neh. 7:5; 12:23) but was distinct from 1 and 2 Chronicles. (Phil Logan, ‘Books,’ in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 8322-8350 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers)

Five: Some Of The Alleged “Lost Books” Mentioned In The Old Testament Were Undoubtedly National Archives And Records Of Kings Which Bore Little Spiritual Significance  

Next, consider that many of the alleged “missing books” of the Old Testament were primarily books which would have simply recorded basic facts of the reigns of different kings.

“These sources appear to have been very much like a genre common in Assyria and Babylonia called “chronicles” (or “chronographic texts”), which consisted of lengthy lists of kings. Each year that the king reigned was recorded, usually with a notice of some significant political, military, or religious event. The information in the Mesopotamian chronicles was brief for each king, ranging from two or three words, recording the king’s name and length of reign, to several short detailing highlights for each year of the king’s reign…We should remember, however, that official court records, as those found in Mesopotamia (and presumably in Israel and Judah), did not include the religious evaluations of the kings that we find in 1 & 2 Kings.” (David M. Howard, Jr., An Introduction To The Old Testament Historical Books, 4121-4136 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, Moody Publishers)

Thus, it would not have been necessary to include in the Bible (which deals especially with the spiritual issues of God’s people).

A Grand Conspiracy?  

Some believe that these books were once in the Bible, but were removed by the Hebrews because these books cast them in a bad light. However, a little thinking will quickly dispel this notion.  

First, if the Hebrews had removed these books from the Old Testament, why didn’t they remove the mention of these books from the rest of the Old Testament?

If there was a conspiracy to get rid of these books from the Bible, why would they leave so many references to the books?

It doesn’t add up.  

Second, if the Jews had tried to remove inspired books from the Old Testament, the Prophets of God would have quickly opposed this publicly and powerfully. Indeed, they often stood against the religious elite of their day when they opposed the teachings of God.

This is one of the clear indicators that no such conspiracy took place.  

Third, the Jewish people who were faithful to God would have immediately rebelled against their leaders if they had tried to tamper with the canon of Scripture.  

Finally, if the Hebrews wanted to remove Bible books from the Old Testament because they cast the Jews in a bad light, then there would not BE an Old Testament. Every Book of the Old Testament at times rebukes the Hebrews for their sinfulness and rebellion against God.  

These alleged “missing books” of the Bible were never removed from the Bible for the simple reason that they were never part of the Bible.

Conclusion  

The claim that there are “missing books” of the Old Testament is false.

There are non-canonical sources which the inspired Prophets and Apostles at times allude to and reference. Yet these books are not included in the collection of Sacred writings for very good reasons.  

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

Questions 

List some non-canonical books mentioned in the Old Testament. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

When Jesus used the phrase “it has been said” (and equivalent phrases), what did He mean? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Whom does the Apostle Paul quote in 1 Corinthians 15:33? __________________________________

In Acts 17:28, Paul quotes from the pagan philosophers Aratus and Cleanthes. When these did these men live and write? _____________________________________________  

Fill in the quotation from Josephus: “From ____________________ until our time everything has been recorded, but has not been deemed worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the exact ____________________ of the prophets ____________.”  

What do “the book of Samuel the seer,” “the book of Nathan the prophet,” and “the book of Gad the seer” probably have reference to? ___________________________

What are some evidences against the idea that the Jews deliberately removed the alleged “lost books” from the canon of Scripture because they did not care for the content of these books? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The “Lost Books” Of The Bible:Lesson One-How We Got The Bible  

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)  

Upon Completion, Please Return Answered Questions To:

Mark Tabata (Facebook). 

The Tabatas  

608 Dawahare Drive  

Hazard KY

41701  

606-216-1757 (Text or Call)

hazardhomecoc@gmail.com  

(Unless Otherwise Noted, All Scripture References Are From The New King James Version of the Bible).   

Many people teach that there are “lost books of the Bible.”

Yet what does this mean, and what shall we say to this allegation?

In this series of lessons, you will find the answers to this question (and other related ones).

You will learn also some of the evidences that the Bible is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind. This is certainly the claim that the Scriptures make for themselves!

II Timothy 3:16-17-16    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17    that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Further, there is an irrefutable foundation of evidence to establish this fact.  

In order to investigate the subject of the “lost books of the Bible,” we first need to understand some basic facts about how the Bible came into existence. That will be the focus of this study.  

The process by which the Bible was created may be described in six words. 

Revelation  

The word “revelation” literally means “communication” or “unveiling.” God has revealed Himself to mankind in two different ways: in general revelation (through nature), and in special revelation (through His Son Jesus Christ and through the Bible).  

General revelation shows us that there is a God.

From studying nature, one may come to the conclusion that God exists: 

Romans 1:18-20-18    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19    because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

Psalm 19:1-The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

The more man learns about the complexity and the nature of the universe, the more he is able to discern the existence of the Creator through it.

Even the most hardened skeptics may be able to discern the hand of God in His handiwork.

“But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past…His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.” (Albert Einstein, Ideas And Opinions, 40 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY; Three Rivers Press)

World renowned former atheist Antony Flew became a believer in God and wrote rhe following near the end of his life::

“I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science. Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God. The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature. But it is not science alone that has guided me. I have also been helped by a renewed study of the classical philosophical arguments.” (Antony Flew, There Is A God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, 87-88 (Kindle Edition); HarperCollins E-Books)

However, while general revelation teaches us that there is a God (and also teaches us many of His basic attributes sixh as His goodness, lerfection, etc.), man needs more than this; he needs special revelation from God.

We need to know who we are, why we are here, and where we are going.

We need special revelation.

Jeremiah the Prophet describes our need in this way: 

Jeremiah 10:23-O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

Inspiration  

The word “inspiration” comes from the Greek word theopneustos.

This word had reference to the way that God would so work upon His Prophets and Apostles that the word which they spoke and wrote was actually the Word of God, and not the word of man.

Several Scriptures help us understand this claim of the Bible writers: 

II Samuel 23:2-The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.

Jeremiah 1:9-Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.

Matthew 10:19-20-19    But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20    for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

II Peter 1:20-21-20    knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21    for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The word for “moved’ in this passage is very graphic:

…”to carry; pass., to be carried, to be borne along. Pres. describes the action as it was in progress. The word was used of a ship carried along by the wind (s. Acts 17:15, 17). The metaphor here is of prophets raising their sails, the Holy Spirit filling them and carrying their craft along in the direction He wished. Men spoke; God spoke (Green).” (Cleon Rogers Jr. & Cleon Rogers III, The New Linguistic And Exegetical Key To The Greek New Testament, 584; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

The word “interpretation” is also worthy of study:

“The word “interpretation” in 2 Peter 1:20 literally means “unloosing” in the original Greek.50 The verse could be paraphrased: “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own unloosing.” In other words, the prophecies did not stem merely from the prophets themselves or by human imaginings, but ultimately came from God (as verse 21 goes on to emphatically state). Put another way, no prophecy of Scripture comes from (or originates from) a human being’s personal interpretation—that is, his personal understanding of events around him—but rather comes from God….The word “for” at the beginning of verse 21 carries an explanatory function—indicating that verse 21 explains verse 20 by restating its contents and then pointing to God as the author of Scripture. Hence, the context of verse 21 indicates that the collective focus of verses 20 and 21 is Scripture’s origin, not its interpretation. In keeping with this, we must emphasize that the word moved (in the phrase “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God”) literally means “borne along” or “carried along.” Luke uses this same word in the book of Acts to refer to a ship being borne along or carried along by the wind (Acts 27:15,17). The experienced sailors on the ship could not navigate it because the wind was so strong. The ship was being driven, directed, and carried about by the wind. This is similar to the Spirit’s driving, directing, and carrying the human authors of the Bible as they wrote (2 Peter 1:20-21). The word “moved” is a strong one, indicating the Spirit’s complete superintendence of the human authors. Of course, just as sailors are individually active and consciously involved while on a ship, in the same way, the authors of God’s Word were individually active and consciously involved in writing Scripture. But it was the Spirit who ultimately directed them or carried them along.” (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning From The Scriptures With The Jehovah’s Witnesses, 38-39 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

While the actual process by which the Word of God was inspired is not completely known, we need to remember at least two things.

First, the inspiration of the Bible is verbal-that is, the very words of the Scriptures are inspired (not just the concepts or principles of the Bible).

One passage which bears this out is from Paul’s first letter to the church of Christ at Corinth:

I Corinthians 2:13-These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I Corinthians 2:13 (Easy To Read Version)-When we say this, we don’t use words taught to us by human wisdom. We use words taught to us by the Spirit. We use the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.

Second, the inspiration of the Bible is plenary, or full. The idea of the plenary inspiration of the Bible is that the entire Bible is inspired of God (not just parts of it).

So, the Bible does not contain the Word of God (in the sense that some of it is inspired and some isn’t); rather it IS the Word of God.

Jesus clearly endorsed this view of Scripture: 

Matthew 5:18-For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 

The “jot” or “tittle” had reference to the smallest parts of the Hebrew alphabet.

“The smallest letter translates the word ita, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. To Jesus’ Jewish hearers it would have represented the yodh, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which looks something like an apostrophe. A stroke (keraia) literally means “little horn” and refers to the small marks that help distinguish one Hebrew letter from another. It was a small extension of a letter similar to a serif in modern typefaces…No other statement made by our Lord more clearly states His absolute contention that Scripture is verbally inerrant, totally without error in the original form in which God gave it. That is, Scripture is God’s own Word not only down to every single written word, but down to every letter and the smallest part of every letter.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 65244-6541 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, Illinois; Moody Press)

Thus, Christ was affirming His belief that the entirety of the Old Testament Scriptures-even down to the smallest parts-were inspired of God.

Confirmation  

Any person can claim to be speaking the Word of God to people.

However, what makes the Bible Prophets and Apostles unique in this department is the fact that God authenticated His Word and His Messengers through various ways.  

There are many evidences that the Bible is the Word of God. At this juncture, let’s notice the way that God confirmed His Word miraculously: 

John 3:2-This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

John 20:30-31-30    And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31    but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Acts 2:22-Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—

Hebrews 2:3-4-3    how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4    God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

These miracles of God authenticated His Word and His Messengers, showing that what they were teaching and writing was truly Divinely inspired.

Ancient extra-biblical historians also document these miracles (Josephus, the Jewish Talmuds, ancient Egyptian documents, the Acts Of Pontius Pilate, etc)

Canonization

When the people of God recognized that a Book was truly from God, they would accept that Book into the “Canon,” or the collection of Sacred Writings.

literally the word sinply means “measueing stick.”

There were very specific rules for determining which Books were included in the Canon, and this careful process ensured that non-inspired books were excluded.  

“The 66 books that were chosen met the following strict standards: 1. Does the book possess a definite prophetic and inspirational quality; does it manifest a clear “Thus saith the Lord?” 2. Was the book written by a reputable prophet, authored by an apostle, or a contemporary intimately associated with an apostle? 3. Was the book accepted, collected, preserved, distributed, and read by God’s people either in the Old Testament period or New Testament period? 4. Do its contents and message harmonize with the standards of sound biblical teaching? Many of the false writings contained an abundance of fanciful legends, factual inaccuracies, and doctrinal heresies. 5. Does it possess a dynamic, life-transforming power which has a universal impact upon men? 6. Was it endorsed and accepted by successive generations of believers, such as the early church fathers? In other words, there seemed to be a consistent, prevailing witness of the overwhelming majority of the church concerning a book’s divine inspiration.” (Joanne Howe, From Nun To Priest: Hope For Those Bound By Tradition, 650-658 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company)

Some object that the Hebrew Bible only contains 22 Books, whereas our English Old Testament has 39: however, this is simply because of the way the Books were arranged by the Hebrews, and not because there was an actual difference in the number of Books.

“If you were to look at the table of contents of a Hebrew Old Testament, you would notice two differences from our English Old Testament. First, it has only twenty-two books, not thirty-nine. But it is most important to realize that the content is identical; it is just that the Hebrew Bible combines certain books. (For example, books such as 1 and 2 Samuel are combined into one; other smaller books are attached to larger ones.)”. (Erwin Lutzer, Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust The Bible, 2869 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, Illinois; Moody Press)

“The books of the Old Testament, in the days of Christ and the Apostles, were the same as now…It is well known that the twenty-two books endorsed by Josephus are the same as our thirty-nine, since he reckoned the minor prophets as one book, Judges and Ruth as one, the two books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, as one each, Ezra and Nehemiah as one, and Jeremiah and Lamentations as one. It should also be remembered that this decisive testimony comes from the times of Christ and His Apostles…The Septuagint version of the Old Testament was the one generally used in the days of Christ. The Apostles usually quote from it, rather than from the Hebrew; but the Septuagint contained the same books as our present Old Testament…This of itself, is sufficient and unanswerable evidence that the ‘Scriptures’ of Christ and the Apostles were our books of the Old Testament.” (Harvey Everest, The Divine Demonstration, 362-363; Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company).

By the time of Christ, the Old Testament Canon had been firmly established.  

“According to both Josephus (Against Apion. I. 8) and the Talmud, the succession of prophets ended in Nehemiah’s day with Malachi. The Talmud records, “After the latter prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.” In addition, the New Testament never quotes any book as authoritative after the time of Malachi. Our investigation shows that as far as the evidence is concerned, the canon of the Old Testament was completed about 400 B.c.” (Norman Geisler & William Nix, From God To Us, 84-85 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, Illinois; Moody Press)

The New Testament Canon was clearly established by the end of the first century.
This is made clear by the fact that the Apostles clearly pointed out that their Books contained Divine authority: 

I Corinthians 14:37-If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

Ephesians 3:1-4-1    For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— 2    if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3    how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4    by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),

Further, both Peter and Paul refer to the Epistles of the Apostles and the Gospels as “Scripture,” indicating their understanding that their writings were regarded as the inspired Word of God, on par with the canonical Old Testament Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16-18; 1 Timothy 5:18 with Luke 10:7). nbsp;

Preservation  

The Word of God was preserved by scribes who made hundreds of copies of its’ many Books through the years and centuries. Often, the claim is made that there are hundreds of thousands of errors in the manuscript copies: however, those who make this claim do not usually understand how this large number of “errors” is arrived at.

Basically, if there is one word that is omitted in a single manuscript-and if this error is copied in two hundred manuscripts-this is counted as “200 errors (even though the meaning of the text has not been changed).”

“This large number is gained by counting all the variations in all of the manuscripts (above 5,300). For example, if one slight variant were to occur in 4,000 different manuscripts, this would amount to 4,000 “errors.” But this is how one can arrive at the large number of 200,000 “errors.” A person is either unlearned or of a skeptical mind who tries to take this large number of variations and use it in such a way as to undermine one’s faith in the Word of God.” (Neil Lightfoot, How We Got The Bible, 96 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

It is also important to realize that the vast majority of these “errors” stem from common scribal errors.

“a. Unintentional changes of various kinds all arise from the imperfection of some human faculty. These constitute by far the vast majority of all transcriptional errors. 1. Errors of the eye • Wrong division of words that resulted in the formation of new words—early manuscripts were not punctuated, and letters were not separated into words by spaces. • Omission of letters, words, and even whole lines occurred when the astigmatic eye mistook one group of letters or words for another, sometimes located on a different line. • Repetition results in an error opposite the error of omission. Hence, when the eye picked up the same letter or word twice and repeated it, it is called dittography. • Transposition is the reversal of the position of two letters or words. This is technically known as metathesis. In 2 Chronicles 3:4, the transposition of a letter would make the measurements of the porch of Solomon’s Temple out of proportion—for example, 120 cubits instead of 20 cubits as in the LXX (Septuagint). • Other confusion of spelling abbreviations or scribal insertions account for the remainder of scribal errors. This is especially true about Hebrew letters, which were also used for numbers and could be easily confused. These errors of the eye may account for many of the numerical discrepancies in the Old Testament (cf. 2 Kings 8:26; 2 Chronicles 22:2). 2. Errors of the ear occurred only when manuscripts were copied while listening to someone read them. This may explain why some manuscripts (fifth century onward) read kamelos (a rope) instead of kamēlos (a camel) in Matthew 19:24. In 1 Corinthians 13:3, kauthēsomai (he burns) was confused with kauchēsomai (he boasts). 3. Errors of memory. These are not so numerous, but occasionally a scribe might forget the precise word in a passage and substitute a synonym. 4. Errors of judgment. The most common error of this kind is caused by dim lighting or poor eyesight. Sometimes marginal notes were incorporated into the text under the misapprehension that they were part of the text. It is difficult to determine whether some variants are caused by faulty judgment or intentional doctrinal changes….5. Errors of writing. If a scribe, due to imperfect style or accident, wrote indistinctly or imprecisely, he would set the stage for future error of sight or judgment. Rapid copying was no doubt responsible for many errors in writing. This is viewed especially in the parallel accounts of the Kings-Chronicles corpus.” (Ed Hindson & Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia Of Apologetics, 98-99 (Kindle Edition); Eugenee Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

Finally, the vast majority of these “errors” amount to nothing more than spelling and grammatical blunders, and do not change or alter the meaning of the text  

“The overwhelming majority of these four hundred thousand supposed variations stem from differences in spelling, word order, or the relationships between nouns and definite articles. In other words, a copyist simply switched a couple of letters, misheard a word, or skipped a line of text. Such variants are readily recognizable and, in most cases, utterly unnoticeable in translations!…In the end, more than 99 percent of the four hundred thousand or so differences fall into this category of variants that can’t even be seen in translations!” (Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies And The Cross, 1531-1538 (Kindle Edition); Lake Mary Florida; FrontLine)

Translation

The idea of “translation” is that of translating the Bible from its’ original languages (Hebrew, Greek, and parts in Aramaic) into different languages throughout time.

If it were not for Bible translations, we would all need to learn the original languages in order to understand God’s Word.

There is an example of Bible translation in the Old Testament: 

Nehemiah 8:8-So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.  

The Hebrews here had been in captivity in a foreign nation, and were no longer familiar with the language of the Old Testament; therefore, Ezra and the others helped to translate the passage into the common tongue of the people.  

“The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language. Since the people had lived in a foreign country all of their lives, they had lost some of their ability to understand Hebrew. Regardless, the Levites had the job of making sure the people knew what was being said. They were helping them bridge the cultural gap between the last seventy years in Babylonia with their cultural heritage as found in Scripture…Since the Jews in captivity would have used Aramaic along with Hebrew, parts of Ezra are in Aramaic-the international diplomatic language of the time. Part of the work of the Levites was to give them an Aramaic translation.” (Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical And Theological Exposition Of Holy Scripture-Volume 30 Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, 5983-5990 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B&H publishing Group)

There are many fine translations of the Bible available to us today. When I study with people, I encourage them to obtain a copy of the New King James Version of the Bible (my personal favorite); however, we would do well to utilize several different translations of the Bible in our personal study of the Word of God.  

Conclusion

Through this six stage summary, we are able to discern the basic process by which the Bible has come to mankind.  

In the following lessons, we will examine more carefully the allegations that there are “lost books of the Bible.”

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

Questions  

What six words describe the basic process by which we have received the Bible? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are the two basic types of “revelation?” _______________________________________________________________________________________  

Name a famous former atheist. _____________________________  

Jeremiah 10:23-O LORD, I know the way of man is not __________________; It is not in man who walks to ______________ his own steps.

Miracles were given to ______________ the Word of God.  

What were some of the rules for accepting a Book into the Canon of Scripture? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Of the many “textual errors” found in the manuscripts of the Bible, what percentage are due to simple spelling errors and grammatical mistakes? _______ 

Which two Apostles refer to the New Testament as “Scripture?” ____________________________________________

Did Jesus Christ Really Live? What Ancient Non-Christian Historians Tell Us

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)  

Introduction

Today, the claims of skeptics in our world are numerous regarding the authenticity of the Bible. From the claims of the “Jesus Seminar” to the raving fictions of “The Da Vinci Code,” people all over America are being told that the Bible is just a book of mythology and nonsense.

What is more, Christians are often viewed as being irrational and illogical bumpkins who proclaim a way of life that is ineffective and “out-of-touch” with the times.

We especially see how these allegations have affected the young people of our country. Timothy Paul Jones points out:

Only 9 percent of middle-aged adults and 14 percent of adults in their early thirties identify themselves as atheists or agnostics. Yet, when it comes to the people who have grown up in the shadow of such claims about Jesus-persons presently in their late teens and early twenties-nearly 20 percent openly refer to themselves as atheists or agnostics. Put another way, one out of every five college-aged students has rejected not merely Jesus but the very possibility of knowing God at all. (Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies And The Cross: How To Intelligently Counter The Ten Most Popular Theories That Attack The Gospel Of Jesus, 4; Lake Mary, Florida; FrontLine: A Strang Company).  

In past articles, I have defended the basic propositions of Christian Apologetics, including: (1) The Existence Of God. (2) The Inspiration Of The Bible. (3) The Deity Of Jesus Christ.

Under these categories, attention has been given to such matters as the historical nature of the New Testament documents, the role of archaeology in confirming the biblical narrative, the amazing way that science confirms creationism and refutes the general theory of macroevolution, etc.

In this article, I wish to carefully examine another intriguing field of apologetics, i.e., what ancient non-Christian historians tell us about Jesus Christ.

Today, we are being told by college professors and by mass media that Jesus Christ was just a myth, a story that was just rehashed from pre-existing religious beliefs (see our previous article Do The New Testament Scriptures Borrow From Ancient Pagan Religions? ).

As such, it is often claimed that Jesus Christ never even really existed!  

Well, how about it?

Is Christ just a figment of someone’s imagination?

Or was He a real Person?

Let’s examine four different historical sources to find out.  

Special Note Regarding The New Testament Scriptures  

Let it be pointed out that this study is going to focus on extra-biblical evidences. Make no mistake about it: the basic source information for Jesus Christ is from the New Testament Scriptures. Many people do not realize that these books are historical in nature (cf. Luke 1:1-4; 2:1-4; John 20:30-31; Acts 1:1-3; 10:39-43; I Corinthians 15:1-8; I John 1:1-3; II Peter 1:16; etc).

In previous articles, I have defended the genuineness and credibility of the New Testament Scriptures.

As such, they are able to stand upon their own weight of evidence. This study is designed to investigate primarily what non-Christian sources have said about Jesus Christ. That there is value in such a study is evident from the fact that Luke himself researched several documents and testimonies regarding Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-2).  

The Extra-biblical Documents From The First Century A.D.  

As we approach this study, we must realize that not many documents (outside of the manuscripts of the New Testament) are available from the first century A.D. As such, consider the words of the scholar E.M. Blaiklock:

It is a somber fact that practically everything written during the lifetime of Christ has perished. Parts of one unimportant historical work survive from the years of His ministry or their vicinity. The badly written history of Rome by Velleius Paterculus, a retired army officer of Tiberius turned amateur historian, was published in A.D. 30. The procuratorial records of Palestine were much less likely to be preserved. Two-thirds of Pilate’s name has recently been in an inscription at Caesarea along with a reference in one word to a shrine of Tiberius-an oddly brief authentication of the procurator and his preoccupations…The same remark is almost true of the surviving literature of the fifties and sixties of the first century, when the first three gospels, and most of the letters of the New Testament were being written. Bookends set a foot apart on this desk where I write would enclose the works from those significant years. (E.M. Blaiklock, Jesus Christ: Man Or Myth? A Contemporary Examination Of Ancient Evidence, 12-13; Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers)  

Therefore, it should not surprise us if we do not read of many examples of Jesus in the surviving documents we DO have. We would also expect that Jesus would not be mentioned in great detail by these documents.

Why?

For the simple reason that the pagans viewed Jesus Christ as an insignificant and iterant preacher. There were far more pressing concerns in the minds of the Roman government-issues of politics, of war, of famine, of social order. To be frank, Jesus would not be much of a concern to them.  

For these reasons, I believe it is quite significant that we have so much surviving extra-biblical references to Jesus Christ from ancient non-Christian historians. Indeed, as will notice, there are several references to Jesus Christ by these historians which demonstrates that the basic portrayal of Him in the Gospels were credible and authentic.

Simply stated, the idea that Jesus Christ did not exist is ludicrous.

Let’s study.

Jewish Literature Regarding Jesus Christ  

Josephus  

Josephus was a Jewish historian who was born in A.D. 37. He made three references to Jesus that are especially noteworthy. First, he wrote of John the Baptist, saying that John:

“…had a great influence over the people, and that they seemed ready to do anything that he should advise.” (Josephus, 382)  

In another reference, Josephus makes reference to the death of James. He writes:

And now Caesar, upon hearing of the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea as procurator; but the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignify on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes, that this elder Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons, who had all performed the office of a hgh priest to God, and he had himself enjoyed that dignify a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests; but this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who were very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition he thought he had now a proper opportunity (to exercise his authority). Festus was not dead, and Albinud was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others (or some of his companions); and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers fo the law, he delivered them to be stoned…(Whiston, Josephus Complete Works, 423).  

Finally, Josephus makes a very important reference to Jesus Himself. Parts of this passage are often disputed, but the overall fact is that Josephus makes specific reference to Jesus Christ. He writes:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonders, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with please. He drew many after him both of the Jews and the gentiles. He was the Christ. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things about him, and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (Antiquities 18:63-64)  

Some question the genuineness of this text. However, in its’ defense, consider these words:

This passage has been rejected by some scholars as an interpolation on the grounds that it does not sound like an unbelieving Jew such as Josephus. It is also said to be out of place in the context, for here Josephus was discussing seditions. In defense of the passage it may be said that it appears in every copy of Josephus that has come down to us and was quoted twice by Eusebius as early as 315 A.D. In a North Slavic manuscript of Josephus there is the description of a tumult made on account of Jesus and the statement reads, “At that time a man appeared, if he can be called a man. His nature and his body were human, but his appearance was more than human. He performed miracles through some invisible power. Some said of him that he was our first Law giver, Moses, risen from the dead, and making himself known by many healings and magic works; others that that he was sent by God. I, personally in view of his whole life, should not call him a messenger of God.” (F.W. Mattox, The Eternal Kingdom: A History Of The Church, 32-33; Delight, Arkansas; Gospel Light Publishing Company)   

Overall, Josephus is very clear that Jesus was a real figure of history. He also mentions the disciples of Christ, the miracles and teaching of Christ, etc, the brother of Christ, John the Baptist, etc. All of this goes to corroborate the basic historical facts of Christianity.

Jewish Talmuds  

The Jewish Talmuds consist of 63 books. They contain many features of history and tradition for the Jewish people, and began to be written during the first century A.D. Especially interesting are their references to Jesus Christ. Notice one in particular:

On the eve of Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover! (Babylonian Talmud)  

Several things are important about this passage. Consider the words of Ralph Muncaster:

This passage is important in that it was written by Jews that not only denied Jesus, but were actively proselytizing against Christians. Courts of law have long maintained that some of the most powerful testimony is corroborative testimony from hostile witnesses (in this case Jews testifying about Jesus). What can be deduced from the Talmud’s words is (1) that Jesus existed, (2) that Jesus was crucified (“hanged”) on the eve of Passover; (3) that He performed miracles (the Jews referred to this as sorcery); (4) that he led many people away from legalistic Jewish teaching (as indicated in the New Testament-Matthew 15:3-9); (5) that the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus. In summary, the evidence of Jesus written in the Talmud, by the very Jews who despised him, is strong testimony of his existence and acts. It is very significant that it is in total agreement with the account of Jesus in the New Testament, including references to miracles, to the crucifixion, and to other details. (Ralph Muncaster, Examine The Evidence: Exploring The Case For Christianity, 210; Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)  

Pagan Historians

Tacitus

One Roman historian by the name of Tacitus provides testimony regarding the historical Jesus. He records:  

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures of a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. (Tacitus-Annals, 15.44)  

Skeptics usually object to this statement of Tacitus, claiming that he must have been simply repeating the common rumors of his day. However, we must remember that Tacitus was a qualified and objective historian. Josh McDowell has well answered this objection:

First, he makes his statement about the death of Christ as a historical fact, not as something someone else said was true.
Second, as mentioned in the previous chapter, both Justin and Tertullian challenged their readers to go read for themselves the official secular documents substantiating certain details of Jesus’ life. Third, being a Roman senator, Tacitus certainly must have had access to the best records available in the Roman Empire at the time. Fourth, in Annals 4.10, where Tacitus refutes a particular rumor, he says that he has reported from “the most numerous and trustworthy authorities.” In 4.57 he says, “I have followed the majority of historians.” Fifth, Tacitus is careful to record conflicts in his sources. In 15.38 he speaks of conflicting versions as to the source of the great fire of Rome. Sixth, Tacitus does not quote his sources uncritically. In Annals 4.57 he questions the majority report of the historians. In 15.53 he considers Pliny’s statement absurd, and in 13.20 he notes Fabius Rusticus’ bias. B. Walker comments that Tacitus “was a persistent skeptic towards popular rumor, even when a rumor coincided with his own prejudices” and cites Annals 2.68 as an example. Seventh, Tacitus hedges his opinion when others do not. Eighth, Tacitus distinguishes between rumor and fact by using expressions such as, “Some have put it on record”; or “As the general account goes.” He also uses terms such as “It is said” and “They say” when he does not want to vouch for a statement’s reliability. Maurice Goguel, former Professor of Theology in the University of Paris, notes that the absence of words such as “it is said” in Annals 15.44 (the passage about Christ) should cause us to believe that Tacitus’ source was a document. He states: “One fact is certain, and that is, Tacitus knew of a document, which was neither Jewish nor Christian, which connected Christianity with the Christ crucified by Pontius Pilate. Finally, even if Tacitus had made no independent statement at all about the person of Christ, he still records the fact that men and women living thirty years after Jesus was crucified were willing to die for their belief that Jesus had lived just thirty years earlier. (Josh McDowell, He Walked Among Us: Evidence For The Historical Jesus, 50-51; Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers)  

Tacitus provides compelling evidence regarding the basic historical facts of Christianity.  

Pliny The Younger  

Another piece of evidence we have comes from the pen of Pliny the Younger. Describing the Christians, he writes:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food-but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. (Letters, 10:96)  

Notice the parallels to the New Testament.

First, the Christians gathered together (Hebrews 10:24-25) on a certain day (the Lord’s Day-the first day of the week-Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Revelation 1:10).

They sang hymns of worship (acapella music as authorized by the New Testament-Colossians 3:16-17; Ephesians 5:18-19; Hebrews 2:12; 13:15; Romans 15:9) to Christ “as to a god” (I John 5:7; John 1:1-5, 14; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:12-14).

They exhorted each other to live the Christian life (Acts 2:46-47; I Timothy 4:16; II Timothy 4:1-5).

They partook of food (the Lord’s Supper-Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 10:16; also the “love feast” of Jude 12).  

Acts Of Pontius Pilate  

There was an official Roman document in the first century known as the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.

Justin Martyr and other Christian apologists encourage their readers and listeners to turn to this document as evidence of their claims regarding Jesus Christ.

Skeptics usually claim that we cannot rely on this document since we do not have it today. Some even maintain that it never existed!

However, it was obviously in existence in the first three centuries A.D. for several Christians encouraged skeptics to look to it as further evidence for their religion.

As Josh McDowell points out:

Justin’s statement is a bold one if in fact no record existed. Can you imagine a respected scholar writing the President of the United States a letter, which he knows will be carefully scrutinized, and building his case on official federal documents which do not exist? (McDowell, ibid. 24)  

Further, it is obviously not misquoted by the early Christians for they would have had their case demolished if they had been guilty of mishandling it! With these things in mind, consider two of these references which are relevant here. On two occasions, Justin Martyr quotes the Acts of Pontius Pilate to this effect:

That he (Jesus-M.T.) performed these miracles you may easily satisfy yourself from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate. (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 35.7-9)  

In another reference, he points out:

And the expression, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” was used in reference to the nails of the cross which were fixed in his hands and feet. And after he was crucified, they cast lots upon his vesture, and they that crucified him parted in among them. And that these things did happen you can ascertain from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate (First Apology, 35).  

Lucian  

Lucian (early second century Greek writer who often attacked the Christians)-

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day-the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property. (Death Of Pelegrine, 11-13)  

Again, notice that the basic historical facts of Christianity are understood and accepted. Jesus Christ was a Person of history.  

Phlegon.

Norman Geisler tells us a great deal about this piece of evidence:

 Phlegon (b. ca. 80) was a freed slave of Emperor Hadrian. None of Phlegon’s writings are extant, but he is mentioned several times by later writers. He spoke of Christ’s death and resurrection his nonextant Chronicles, saying, “Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails” (cited in Origen, 4:455; cf. Habermas, 210; Anderson, 19). Phlegon also mentioned “the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquake which then took place” (Origen, 14). Julius Africanus confirms the same quotations (Julius Africanus, 18). Habermas summarizes from the Phlegon references that Jesus predicted the future, that there was an eclipse at the time of the crucifixion, and that it occurred during the reign of Tiberius. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared and showed his wounds, especially the nail marks from the crucifixion. (Habermas, 211). (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 384; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)  

Hadrian, Suetonius, Lucian of Samosata, and Mara Bar-Serapion also make reference to Jesus Christ in the time-frame of the first century A.D.  

Of Special Interest: The Darkening Of The Earth When Christ Died  

The Bible account describes a great darkness which covered the whole earth when Jesus Christ died on Calvary (Matthew 27:45). Please notice the following pagan citations which further corroborate this great biblical event.  

Thallus, who wrote around A.D. 52, and was quoted by a Christian apologist named Juilius Africanus in about 221 A.D, makes this comment: 

On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. 

Another pagan historian, named Dionysius the Areopagite, discusses this darkness. Commentator Gill comments:
Dionysius the Areopagite, then an Heathen, saw it in Egypt; and said

“either the, divine being suffers, or suffers with him that suffers, or the frame of the world is dissolving.  

The Mayans and the Aztec civilizations also contain written references to the terrible darkness and horrible earthquakes which transpired when Christ died on the Cross. Don Mariano Fernandez de Echevarria y Veytia wrote a two volume work entitled Historia Antigua de Mexico. He chronicles:

These natives indicate another singular event in their histories with great exactness, which later served them as a fixed era for their chronological calculations. They say that 166 years after the correction of their calendar, at the beginning of the year that was indicated with the hieroglyph of the House in the number ten, being a full moon, the sun was eclipsed at midday, the solar body being totally covered, such that the earth became darkened so much that the stars appeared and it seemed like night, and at the same time an earthquake was felt as horrible as they had ever experienced, because the stones crashing against one another were broken into pieces, and the earth opened up in many parts…Following these calculations, and adjusted to the comparison of the tables, this event should be placed in the year 4066 of the world, which was indicated with this character as can be seen in the tables, and precisely 166 after the adjustment of the calendar; and because of the circumstances surrounding this eclipse and earthquake, it was impossible for it to be any other than that which was observed at the death of Jesus Christ our Lord, having suffered it in the thirty-third year of his age, and so it seems that the incarnation of the Word should be placed in the year 4034 of the world, which the Indians indicated with the same hieroglyph of the House in the number 4, and I have noted it that way in the tables, and with this calculation following the chronological order they observed, counting the years from one memorable event to another with the assignment of the hieroglyph of the year in which they fell, I have been able to coordinate it perfectly with our years in the year 1519, in which Cortez landed at Veracruz, as will be seen in the discourse of this history. ( Donald W. Hemingway and W. David Hemingway, The Bearded White God Of Ancient America: The Legend Of Quetzalcoatl, 50-51; Cedar Fort, Inc.)

Conclusion

What have we learned from this study of non-Christian historical evidence regarding Jesus Christ?

First of all, that we should not surprised if there isn’t a great deal said about Him since so little has survived from the first century and since most government officials and historians would not bother mentioning him since He was not in their purview of concerning issues.

Secondly, that the sheer magnitude of historical references outside the Bible to Christ are absolutely amazing.

Third, the non-Christian historians confirm the essential elements of the New Testament Scriptures.

Finally, we have no reason whatsoever to deny the historical Jesus. In the words of one man:

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea around B.C. 7-4. He was a Jew, born to Joseph and Mary, both Jews and descendants of King David. Though Mary was His mother, Joseph was not presumed to be Jesus’ father. He was born during a time of great unrest in Palestine as the Jews were unhappy with the Roman occupation of their land, and believed their ancient writings predicted that the appearance of a savior to deliver their people form Roman control was imminent. As a child, Jesus was briefly taken to Egypt, but eventually returned to Nazareth where He grew up with His brother, James. When Jesus was an adult, He began a new religious movement around the same time as a man named John the Baptist, so called because he preached baptism. His teachings attracted many followers but he eventually earned the wrath of Herod who imprisoned him and had him put to death. Jesus’ ministry attracted many people from numerous nationalities and ethnic groups. He preached a religion of brotherhood, and earned a reputation of being wise and virtuous. He claimed to embody God on earth, and instructed His followers to live after His laws, and those that followed Him believed they would have eternal life. He exhibited the power to perform miracles: healing various ailments, and defying the laws of nature. His teachings angered Jewish authorities, however, who charged Him with sorcery and false teachings. Shortly before the Passover festival of A.D. 33, Jesus was sentenced to death by the Roman procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. He was executed by crucifixion, and at the time of His death, an unexplained darkness fell over the land. Shortly after His burial, His body disappeared from the tomb. People soon began to report that they had encountered Jesus alive again. Very soon after these events, Jesus’ disciples began a new religious movement based on the one Jesus had started. They asserted that Jesus was the “Christ” (the Jewish Messiah), risen from the dead to prove He was one with God, and that those who followed Him would live forever in heaven. This religion, called “Christianity” after it’s founder, continues today. ( Scott Robinson, History Confirms Christianity: The Story Of Jesus As Told By Non-Christian Writers, 37-38, emphasis added; Fort Worth, TX; Star Bible Publications)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this world to suffer and die for the sins of mankind (John 3:16; II Corinthians 5:14-21). He died for us, was buried, and rose again on the third day (I Corinthians 15:1-8).

He invites all men and women everywhere to come to Him in simple faith, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:37-38).

This begins the Christian life, where a person must remain faithful to death to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10; I John 1:9).  

Friend, if you have not obeyed that Gospel plan of salvation, why not do it today? The church of Christ stands ready to assist you!  

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

Evidences Of Giants From Around The World

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Several passages of Scripture bear witness to the existence of giants, and how many of these beings once enslaved mankind.

For example: 

Genesis 6:1-4-1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them,

2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Numbers 13:28-Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.

Numbers 13:32-33-32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.

33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Deuteronomy 2:9-11- Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’ ”

10 (The Emim had dwelt there in times past, a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim.

11 They were also regarded as giants, like the Anakim, but the Moabites call them Emim.

Deuteronomy 2:20-23-20 (That was also regarded as a land of giants; giants formerly dwelt there. But the Ammonites call them Zamzummim,

21 a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim. But the LORD destroyed them before them, and they dispossessed them and dwelt in their place,

22 just as He had done for the descendants of Esau, who dwelt in Seir, when He destroyed the Horites from before them. They dispossessed them and dwelt in their place, even to this day.

23 And the Avim, who dwelt in villages as far as Gaza—the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and dwelt in their place.)

Deuteronomy 3:11-For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants. Indeed his bedstead was an iron bedstead. (Is it not in Rabbah of the people of Ammon?) Nine cubits is its length and four cubits its width, according to the standard cubit.

1 Chronicles 20:6-Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, with twenty-four fingers and toes, six on each hand and six on each foot; and he also was born to the giant.

Nevertheless, many skeptics of the Bible attack His Word and attempt to destroy people’s faith in the one true God. They claim that there never were giants, and that this is an example of the ignorance and superstition of Bible writers.  

What many are not aware of is the fact that other ancient historical references outside of the Bible document the existence of giants.  

 Existence Of Giants According To Ancient Historians 

One of the most celebrated works to survive through the ages is known as the Works of Pliny the Elder.

A Roman scholar, Pliny was well known in the ancient world for his historical and scholarly works. 

Regarding the existence of giants, he writes: 

“A mountain of the island of Crete having been burst asunder by the action of an earthquake, a body was found there standing upright, forty-six cubits in height; by some persons it is supposed to have been that of Orion; while others again are of opinion that it was that of Otus. It is generally believed, from what is stated in ancient records, that the body of Orestes, which was disinterred by command of an oracle, was seven cubits in height. It is now nearly one thousand years ago, that that divine poet Homer was unceasingly complaining, that men were of less stature in his day than they had formerly been. Our Annals do not inform us what was the height of Nævius Pollio; but we learn from them that he nearly lost his life from the rush of the people to see him, and that he was looked upon as a prodigy. The tallest man that has been seen in our times, was one Gabbaras by name, who was brought from Arabia by the Emperor Claudius; his height was nine feet and as many inches. In the reign of Augustus, there were two persons, Posio and Secundilla by name, who were half a foot taller than him; their bodies have been preserved as objects of curiosity in the museum of the Sallustian family.” (Pliny The Wlder, Translated by John Bostock and Henry Thomas Riley, Complete Works of Pliny the Elder, 6064-6075 (Kindle Edition); Hastings, East Sussex; Delphi Classics)

Speaking of the historical reckoning and reliability of these statements, Cooper has pointed out some interesting facts: 

“The body of Orestes which Pliny mentions, was measured at seven cubits, which equals some 12 feet in our terms; 6 whilst those of Pusio and Secundilla were some 10 feet 3 inches in height. It is a great pity that Pliny did not discuss them at greater length, though it is worth mentioning that the Romans were very exact in measuring things. If they tell us that Gabbara stood at 9 feet 9 inches, and Pusio and Secundilla at 10 feet 3, then we can rely on the exactness of those measurements. The Romans were not fools, and Pliny treasured his own reputation as a scholar too much to be caught out in a lie. After all, when he wrote his account, there were many hundreds in Rome still living who would have seen and spoken with these giants -and many rival scholars (Pollio and Livy among them) who would have delighted in exposing Pliny as a fraud or a fool had he got his facts wrong. The fact that that never happened should tell us something.”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Judges, 694-700 (Kindle Edition)).

The testimony of Pliny is one of the many evidences which confirm the existence and nature of giants.  

The Jewish historian, Josephus also records these interesting words about giants: 

“For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants. But Noah was very uneasy at what they did; and being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their dispositions and their acts for the better: but seeing they did not yield to him, but were slaves to their wicked pleasures, he was afraid they would kill him, together with his wife and children, and those they had married; so he departed out of that land.” (The Complete Works Of Flavius Josephus, One of the best known translations of Josephus’s work, translated by William Whiston in 1737 Formatted by E.C. Marsh 2010, 1103-1108 (Kindle Edition); ecmarsh.com) 

“For which reason they removed their camp to Hebron; and when they had taken it, they slew all the inhabitants. There were till then left the race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to the hearing. The bones of these men are still shown to this very day, unlike to any credible relations of other men.” (Flavius Josephus, The Complete Works Of Flavius Josephus, translated by William Whiston in 1737 Formatted by E.C. Marsh 2010, 4571 (Kindle Edition); ecmarsh.com) 

The testimony of the ancient Egyptians is equally incredible.

In describing the warrior campaigns against the Canaanites, we read:

“23,5 ones to look. Their eyes are good, thy hand grows weak(?)”. 25: T\’ Q “^ /Q3 rn2«*’. Thou makest the name of every Maher, officers of the land of Egypt”. Thy name becomes like (that of) K-dr-d-y ^ the chief of *I-s-r ^* ^ when the hyena” found him in the balsam-tree’*. —The( r) narrow defile’* is infested (?) with Shosu concealed beneath the bushes; some of them are of four cubits or of five cubits, from head(??) to foot(?)'”, fierce of face, their heart is not mild, and they hearken not to coaxing. Thou art alone, there is no helper(?)” with thee, no army””. (Alan henderson Gardiner, Egyptian Hieratic Texts, 1068-1086 (Kindle Edition)) 

The Egyptians here record their battles against the Shosu, who were a race of giants that lived in the land of Canaan. The cubit mentioned here is an Egyptian royal cubit of 20.62 inches, which means that the Shosu were anywhere from 7-10 feet tall!  

While skeptics of these records maintain that these accounts of giants are not trustworthy, it is fascinating to notice that there were other records kept of the Shosu.

The Egyptians kept drawings of these creatures, and the size difference between the Shosu and the Egyptians is indeed staggering.  

It is also worth mentioning here that the Egyptians drew pictures of the Shosu, and other giant populations, walking alongside of and towering over giraffes and horses.

Along these lines, on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser the III, the giants captured in battle are depicted as being much taller then the war horses of the Assyrian Empire.  

The ancient historian, Herodotus, also describes the existence of giants in these words: 

“For as there were at that time dealings under truce with the men of Tegea, he had come to a forge there and was looking at iron being wrought; and he was in wonder as he saw that which was being done. The smith therefore, perceiving that he marvelled at it, ceased from his work and said: “Surely, thou stranger of Lacedemon, if thou hadst seen that which I once saw, thou wouldst have marvelled much, since now it falls out that thou dost marvel so greatly at the working of this iron; for I, desiring in this enclosure to make a well, lighted in my digging upon a coffin of seven cubits in length; and not believing that ever there had been men larger than those of the present day, I opened it, and I saw that the dead body was equal in length to the coffin: then after I had measured it, I filled in the earth over it again.””. (Herodotus, The Histories, 527-537 (Kindle Edition); Start Publishing LLC) 

Some of the most powerful evidence regarding the existence of giants comes from Native American tradition and legend.

One author, in documenting the historical traditions of his people after. being commissioned to do so by his tribal elders, wrote the following: 

“Rarely do we hear why the Creator destroyed the earth with water. I turned my attention back to PipeCarrier, whose war scarred face was showered with moonlight as it cascaded down his back as if tracing the length of his long black hair and asked him, “What do you know of the star people?” PipeCarrier focused his gaze beyond the moon into the deep evening sky full of shining stars. He pointed to The Warrior constellation’s belt and said. “They fell from the heavens in the ancient times. They took our women. They were not washte [good].” PipeCarrier confirmed what I have heard from many other tribal elders. My father told me that there was a great battle in the Sky World where good spirit and bad spirits were fighting one another. The bad spirits were thrown from the heavens down to the earth below where they made themselves out to be gods. These star people took our women by force and the resulting children became the race of giants that we read about in historical accounts from cultures around the world, including the Bible. Interestingly enough, the repeating similarity is these beings came from the sky, took the human women, and produced a race of giants….When I served in the U.S. Army, I met a traditional Navajo woman whose family was of the Bitter Water and Towering House Clans. We were on guard duty together one evening when we were deployed out in the desert, and we began talking about the star people. The most famous of the Southwestern star people is Kokopelli. This figure is well-known in pan-Indian Native American art and even common art that can be found in national retail stores although its origin is in Southwest United States. Kokopelli is one of the star people who fell from the heavens to the desert region of the Southwest, according to native tradition. He quickly made himself out to be a god of rain and fertility demanding worship and tribute of a young woman in exchange for bringing the rains to the fields or fertility to women by playing his flute. In the older renditions of him, he is often depicted with a hunched back, four protrusions sticking out of his back and two arms holding a flute which he would play to lure women to himself. Sometimes in more modern depictions, the four protrusions are what look like four crazy dreadlocks poking out from the top and back of his head. There are even many of the ancient drawings that depict him with an erect phallus, alluding to the sexual nature and focus of this false god. His portraits are not just found in the Southwest; there is even a petroglyph carving of Kokopelli on the island of Puerto Rico where he visited the Taino Native Americans. The stories of Kokopelli are vast across many Native cultures. It is strange to me that this seducing spirit could have grown in such popularity across the country. It is crucial that we know the origins of the things that we have or decide to pass along to another generation. For some time as a child, my wife lived on the Navajo reservation in Shonto, Arizona where an old song is occasionally sung: “Fathers, hide your daughters; Kokopelli is coming!” Kokopelli is just one of many “star people” that fell to the earth and made themselves out to be “gods.” There are numerous accounts of giant tribes that sprung forth as a direct result of these fallen ones mixing with the human women. The common thread in the many cross-cultural stories across the globe is that these beings taking human women and breeding a race of giants. It is found throughout the world; so many cultures have stories that have been passed down for thousands of generations centering on these giants. If you are a believer in the Bible, yet find yourself incredulous at the mention of this subject, ask yourself why? Either you do or do not believe the Bible when it says in Genesis 6:1-4…In Genesis 6, we clearly read that these races of giants covered the earth. It distinctly tells us that the fallen ones looked upon the women and wanted them so they took them, had relations with them, and from these unions the giants were born. Why is this subject not discussed in churches and Bible studies? Are we to be multiple choice believers, picking and choosing what we want to believe concerning the Word of God? Heaven forbid! For centuries the skeletal remains of these giants have been systematically unearthed. In America, we find countless newspaper articles and reports detailing skeletal remains of these giants ranging from seven to twelve feet tall, and in some rare instances even larger. For the scientific community at large to admit the existence of these skeletal remains means two things: First, that evolution, as it is currently presented, is wrong. And secondly, that the physical evidence gives credence to Scriptural accounts of giants since it validates what was written thousands of years ago by Moses, inspired by God. One semester, my Archaeology/Anthropology professor was doing a lecture on Native American “legends” and began talking about the Muscogee Creek Indian stories that centered around Este-Papv (Ishtee-Papa). The professor was telling us that the stories are talking about a mountain lion which is not what the stories are about. Este-Papv in the Muscogee language means “Man-Eater.” This “Man-Eater” lived in a cave and was a giant who frequently raided villages and would decapitate the warriors who tried to kill him. Then “Este-Papv” would suck the blood out of their lifeless bodies and then eat the remains. The more commonly used word in the Muscogee language for panther or lion is Katcv (Kat-chuh) according to what Micco Blue of the Holatte Grounds shared with me. The odds of so many cultures worldwide telling the same stories with the same details are beyond chance. In the Native American stories of these giants there are several recurring themes. These are a few of them: • Most of the giant tribes were red-haired. • The giants were sexually and ritually sadistic. • The giants were cannibalistic, frequently raiding nearby Native villages for meals and blood-drinking sacrifices. • They were seven feet and taller. • They had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. • Some stories tell of the giants having double rows of teeth. Whenever these skeletal remains were found, excavated, or accidentally unearthed they were often sent to the Smithsonian Institute, never to be seen again. Not only do these remains found throughout the country validate the Biblical record, it is also authenticates the oral history of Native American tribes. Unfortunately, the scientific community does not accept indigenous oral history as a valid source of information….One day I was in a bookstore when I felt the prompting to pick up a book on tattoo designs. I didn’t know why Creator would have me look through a tattoo book, but I picked it up and started flipping through it. The art was page after page of typical tattoo montages of skulls, snakes, hearts, and other designs until I came to a page depicting a Hindu god and goddess. I stood there as illumination at what I was seeing hit me in waves. One of the so-called gods had four arms and the other had six arms! I read the legends of these two demons and sure enough they both “fell from the heavens” and were worshipped as gods. This was a fallen cherub and a fallen seraph taking on the persona of a god/goddess in a country half a world away from here with the same story as what has been told amongst Native people of the Americas. I received more insight when I read the Book of Enoch. While it is not part of the canonized Bible, it is quoted in the New Testament just like the Book of Jasher. Most see them as history books that fill in some of the background details found in the Old Testament. If you feel led to read these books just keep in mind that they are not Scripture but they do offer us historical insights. I suggest, if you have an interest in these books, praying and asking the Lord whether or not you should read them. If you read them, I suggest approaching them as reading a history book written by an unverified source. They do not claim to be from the mouth of God, and it is important that we remember that. That being said, the Book of Enoch goes into detail about the fallen angels and the things they taught mankind, as well many other things that the church deemed heresy at the time such as the earth revolving around the sun. After being cleared by the Lord to read the Book of Enoch one day, I began. What I found shocked me. The name of one of the fallen angels, as transcribe by Enoch who was Noah’s great, great grandfather, is Kokabel. Is this striking resemblance to the name “Kokopelli” merely a coincidence? I don’t believe this is any accident of phonetics. Even more disturbing is the breakdown of this false god’s name. Koko in the native Zuni language means “Lord or God” and Pelli means “Flies.” We find this exact same definition written in Hebrew in the Bible.” (Chief Joseph RiverWind Assisted by Laralyn RiverWind, That’s What The Old Ones Say: Pre-Colonial Revelations Of God, 122-129 (Kindle Edition); Marble, NC; Word Branch Publishing)

The testimony of history is clear: the giants did indeed exist!  

Modern Times 

Yet I believe that we should also consider some of the evidences from our current day and age that demonstrate giants did indeed exist.  

Bill Cooper provides some startling evidences regarding the unearthing of giant remains in modern times: 

“But why should we be surprised at these things? Like dragons -like the Great Flood itself -giants are known to every culture under the sun. Virtually every nation on earth remembers a time when they were neighbours to, or lived amongst giant populations, and the Israelites were no exception. Giant peoples were known to them under various names: The Nephilim, the Rephaim, the Tzuzim, the Anakim, to name a few, all of whom were noted by the Israelites for their great stature; and even amongst later scholars and writers of the classical world we find mention of similar gigantic peoples. Homer, Lucretius, Virgil, Juvenal, Pliny, and even po-faced Augustine of Hippo all write of them. Whether they were writing truth or fable, however, may be judged by the mention of gigantic peoples which have appeared in more modern times, and which have been written about and lectured upon by ‘establishment’ anthropologists and archaeologists. Note the following report which appeared in The Princeton Union, on October 11th 1894: “In a prehistoric cemetery recently uncovered at Montpellier, France, while workmen were excavating a waterworks reservoir, human skulls were found measuring 28, 31 and 32 inches in circumference. The bones which were found with the skulls were also of gigantic proportions. These relics were sent to the Paris academy, and a learned ‘savant’ who lectured on the find says that they belonged to a race of men between ten and fifteen feet in height.” 10 The ‘learned savant’ of the article was Dr Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854-1936), and his findings were corroborated in full by Dr Paul Valéry, a colleague of his at the University of Montpellier between 1886 -1891.11 Would these men -these revered figures of the establishment –have willingly thrown away their careers and reputations for a stupid hoax? It seems not, for six months later, this same report appeared again in another journal, there having been plenty of time for the facts to be checked. 12 And then, out of Castelnau in France appeared this report: “In the year 1890, some human bones of enormous size, double the ordinary in fact, were found in the tumulus of Castelnau (Herault) [France], and have since been carefully examined by Prof. Kiener, who, while admitting that the bones are those of a very tall race, nevertheless finds them abnormal in dimensions and apparently of morbid growth. They undoubtedly re-open the question of ‘giants’ of antiquity, but do not furnish sufficient evidence to decide it.” 13…The photo taken of the bones at the time of their discovery (see Fig. 19 above) shows clearly the immense difference in size between them and the ‘normal’ modern human femur placed between them. Kiener’s staid and learned paper on the remains may be read to this day, 14 and it is notable that neither in the case of the Montpellier remains, nor yet those of Castelnau, has any serious attempt been made by anthropologists or archaeologists to dispute the simple facts of the case. In other words, the facts are unarguable. These are indeed the bones of gigantic human beings who stood up to 15 feet in height. As for the most famous giant in all history -Goliath -what can we say of him other than this? -his name has been discovered inscribed on a potsherd in the ruins of his hometown of Gath (Tel es-Safi, Israel) dating to within 70 years of his slaying by David, i.e. to about 950 BC (see Fig. 20 below). 15 Interesting, isn’t it, when we consider what the critics have been saying all these years.”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Judges, 751-776 (Kindle Edition)) 

Amazingly, there is a great deal of evidence from right here in the United States that these giant populations existed!

Indeed, many newspapers throughout our country over the last several hundred years have reported the discovery of tombs of giants.

Consider some of the articles: 

“On the upper terrace, within the corporate limits of Monongahela City, are situated the garden and greenhouse of Mr. I.S. Crall. Two ravines on the east and west sides open directly south into Pigeon Creek, and their erosion has lowered the ground until it is surrounded by higher land on every side except along the bluff next to the creek. …In excavating for foundation walls and other purposes, Mr. Crall has, at different times, unearthed skeletons of large size: the ground is strewn with mussel shells, flint chips etc. On the eastern side of this levee, near the break of the ravine, and close to a never-failing spring, stands the largest mound above the one at McKee’s rocks, measuring 9 feet in height and 60 feet in diameter… at the center a hole measuring 3 feet across the top and 2 feet into the original soil. In this were fragments of human bones too soft to be preserved. They indicated an adult of large size. The gray clay was unbroken over this hole. Directly over this, above the clay and resting upon it, were portions of another large skeleton, with which was found part of an unburned clay tube or pipe.” (The Wichita Daily Eagle – November 17, 1891)

 
“There has just been received at the Maryland Academy of Sciences, the skeleton of an Indian seven feet tall. It was discovered near Antietam. There are now skeletons of three powerful Indians at the Academy who at one time in their wildness roamed over the state of Maryland armed with such instruments as nature gave them or that their limited skill taught them to make. Two of these skeletons belonged to individuals evidently of gigantic size. The vertebrae and bones of the legs are nearly as thick as those of a horse and the length of the long bones exceptional. The skulls are of fine proportions, ample and with walls of moderate thickness and of great strength and stiffened beyond with a powerful occipital ridge. The curves of the forehead are moderate and not retreating, suggesting intelligence and connected with jaws of moderate development.”. (BALTIMORE AMERICAN, NOVEMBER 15, 1897)

“The skeleton of a giant Indian, maybe seven or more feet in height, who died and was buried about the time Christ was born, has been unearthed from prehistoric burial grounds along the Potomac River near Point of Rocks recently. Nicholas Yinger, who has been excavating at this and other sites of early Indian villages along the Potomac River in recent years, discovered the skeleton of the giant Indian, along with the other artifacts buried with the body, on Saturday, April 28, just a few weeks ago.” (MORNING HERALD, MAY 14, 1956)

“Along the Susquehanna River in Indiana County, Pennsylvania a major Indian burial site was uncovered. All together, forty-nine skeletons were exhumed, the tallest being eight feet tall. These skeletons were reportedly taken to the Harrisburg Museum for reassembly and then shipped to the Smithsonian for further study. However, the Smithsonian denies any knowledge of them. On the site of the William H. Rhea farm (circa 1871–1880) in Conemaugh Township just west of the mouth of Black Legs Creek, skeletons of men, probably Indians, were found. Noted local historian Clarence Stephenson says, “One of the skeletons is of a giant nearly eight feet tall. The giant’s skeleton measured 89 inches from the top of the skull to the phalanges of the feet. It was covered with small stones, lay on the back, and measured 26 inches across the chest.””. (CHARLEROI MAIL, MAY 7, 1953)

“On July 13, Professor Skinner of the American Indian Museum, excavating the mound at Tioga Point, near Sayre, Pennsylvania, uncovered the bones of 68 men, which he estimates had been buried at least seven or eight hundred years. The average height indicated by the skeletons was seven feet, but many were taller. Evidence of the gigantic size of these men was seen in huge axes found beside the bones.” (CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL, SEPTEMBER 20, 1916) 

These articles (and many more) are referenced in Richard J. Dewhurst’s book, The Ancient Giants Who Ruled America: The Missing Skeletons And The Great Smithsonian Cover-Up (Rochester, Vermont; Toronto, Canada; Bear & Company).

Newspaper articles from reputable news agencies around our country, dating back hundreds of years, document the existence of these giants.  

Consider also that researchers who have devoted their lives to studying these matters have found physical evidences of the Nephilim giants throughout the world.  

Why The Cover-Up? 

One thing continually comes to the surface in the investigations of these matters: there is an attempt by some in academia and scholarly circles to deliberately cover up th truth of these findings.  

One researcher, after examining a lifetime of evidence about the existence of these Giants and the attempted cover-up of the truth, provided his opinion regarding these matters: 

“In my opinion it becomes clear that those at the helm of the Smithsonian were engaged in the deliberate obfuscation of evidence that would offer another paradigm than the accepted Darwinian one that then and now permeate all of science and academia. The question is why would men of science deliberately engage in this? And, I believe I have an answer. If these skeletons exist, and by all of the overwhelming evidence both from the written record found in newspapers and accounts from scientists, as well as the oral traditions from Native Americans, they pose a direct threat to the pervading world view, Darwinism.”. (L.A. Marzulli, On The Trail Of The Nephilim-Volume One-Giant Skeletons & Ancient Megalithic Structures,1341-1350 (Kindle Edition); Spiral Of Life Publishing) 

The desire of some to hold to the illusion of Darwinian evolution may be one reason for such an attempted coverup of the truth.  

The Connection Between Nephilim And “Aliens”

I want to make one final note in this study of “Giants.”

There is a great deal of evidence that the physical appearance of the nephilim is strikingly similar to that of reported “aliens” in our world today.  

Investigating the many ancient accounts of the “nephilim” found throughout the world, one author has written: 

“Nephilim mirrored their fathers, fallen angels, for watchers possess the face of a viper 36 serpents identified as seraphim, 37 employed as liaisons between heaven and earth. 38 Satan took the form of a seraph when he deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. 39 Serpent-like angels were recorded in the Gnostic gospel Origin of the World, possessing faces that were long and narrow, prominent cheekbones, elongated jawbones, thin lips, and slanted eyes (similar to aliens), while their offspring looked just like them. 40…Postdiluvian Nephilim are also captured in Canaanite art, which clearly portrays beings with long, serpentine necks, heads like cobras, small mouths and coffee bean eyes. 47 Rephaim, surprisingly enough, crop up often in Canaanite texts, where the appellation translates as “divine beings.”…Again, similar images of serpentine beings have been found in ancient monuments from both Egypt and Central America, which ostensibly date back to the antediluvian epoch. 49 These sculptures appear to be images of long-necked and sloped-headed Anakites….In short, the colossal Nephilim were a race of giants that were tall in stature and mighty in size, strength, and dexterity. They were voracious hunters with unending appetites. Their appearance was frightful to the eyes and their sounds harsh to the ears. Nephilim were beasts with long necks and faces like serpents, similar to aliens we now mythologize. They were indeed a mutation onto themselves, a distinct race that partnered with misguided humans to sponsor Snake Brotherhoods that eventually usurped all the governments of the antediluvian age.” (Gary Wayne, The Genesis 6 Conspiracy: How Secret Societies And The Descendants Of Giants Plan To Enslave Humankind, 925-930 (Kindle Edition); Trusted Books-An Imprint Of Deep River Books)

Considering the anti-Christian message being propagated by the “aliens” who masquerade as extra-terrestrials (which has been documented in prior articles), this similarity between them and the Nephilim is striking and worthy of reflection.  

Conclusion 

The findings of secular history confirm in stunning detail the accuracy of the Bible regarding giants.  

These things also speaks to us regarding the subject of Divine judgment; for the first race of giants was wiped off the face of the Earth (along with the antediluvian race of man) because of rebellion against God (Genesis 6-9). This judgment of God upon the Earth by water foreshadowed how one Day the Lord would bring judgment on the world through fire.  

2 Peter 3:5-7-5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,

6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.

7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment.

While all sinners are guilty before God (Romans 3:23), the Lord of glory has prepared a plan by which we may be saved. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sins of mankind on Calvary (Romans 5:8). He was buried, and the days later He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

He has promised salvation to those believes who will repent of their sins, confess their faith in Him, and be baptized into Him for the remission of their sins and be faithful to Him to death (Acts 2:37-47; 8:35-38; 22:16; Revelation 2:10).

When we are baptized into Christ, we are born again (John 3:5; Romans 6:3-4) and are made members of God’s church or family (Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13).

When we sin and fall short as Christians, He will forgive us when we repent and confess our sins to Him in prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).  

Why not obey Him 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.  

  

The Tell-El Amarna Tablets And The Hebrews 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

The Book of Joshua chronicles the invasion of the land of Canaan by the Hebrews. The Canaanites at the time were composed of several different nations and lands, nearly all of whom hated the Hebrews and their God.  

The Bible teaches that the Lord commanded the Hebrews to “utterly destroy” the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7:1-2; 20:16-17). As we learn from other passages of Scripture (such as Jeremiah 25:9, 12) this basically meant to drive the people out of the land. The Bible tells us, indeed, that this is exactly what happened. The Hebrews (led by Joshua) “utterly destroyed” the Canaanites and repopulated the land (cf. Joshua 10). The Canaanites (or at least, a great many of them) fled to other countries and lands.  

However, we are told by critics of the Bible that this invasion of Canaan was a complete lie. It never happened!

Instead, the writers of the Bible wanted to make up this account to try and convince the Jewish people that they had a Divine claim on the land.

As such, the Hebrews never really conquered the Canaanites.  

When I study with skeptics of the Bible who make claims such as this, I ask them if they have ever heard of the Tell-El Amarna Tablets.  

What are those, you ask?  

Well, these are the 15th century records of the Canaanites which document the Hebrew invasion of their land.  

Oh, I am not surprised if you have not heard of them before now.

The truth is, there are many in the “scholarly community” who want the facts of the Amarna Tablets “kept quiet,” so to speak.

If people knew of the existence of these incredible documents, they would soon discover another powerful evidence that the Bible is historically accurate.  

The enemies of the Bible certainly do not want THAT to happen!  

So very thorough are these documents, in fact, that they contain over eighty references to the Hebrews!  

Let me share the words of scholar Bill Cooper with you about these incredible documents: 

“To read the critics, you’d think that the records of 15th-century BC Canaan would have nothing to say either about Joshua or his people. They will tell you that that is because Joshua himself did not exist, and his people never conquered the land called Canaan. It was all just a myth cobbled together by the wishful thinking of Jewish ‘editors’ after their return from the Babylonian Exile. And this is not some outdated allegation which has been corrected recently as scholarship has improved over the years. It is being made increasingly even today by some of the major critics and taken up by the media and universities. It is therefore with considerable surprise that we read about Joshua and his people, not just once in some ambiguous, fragmentary inscription of dubious date and interpretation, but plainly and at least 85 times in that 15th-century BC Canaanite archive known as the Tell El Amarna Tablets. The critics don’t like to mention the fact, but Joshua himself is sometimes obliquely referred to in the Tablets. There is one man in particular who is referred to as ‘that Hebrew’; ‘that Hebrew dog’; at least three times as the ‘chief of the Hebrews’; and, it seems, in one inscription he is called ‘Ilimilku,’ which name is the Akkadian cognate of the Hebrew name Elimelech, God is my King. It is a nickname which would have suggested itself to Canaanite observers after it became clear to them that Joshua was not a king, but that he fought under the God of Israel. Though not a name that the Bible specifically gives him, it is one that the Canaanites seem to have known him by, and they accordingly wrote it down in their correspondence -‘Ilimilku!’ 1 The Hebrews themselves are referred to in the Amarna Tablets as slaves –‘runaway dogs’ in some of the Tablets –‘slaves that have become Habiru’ in another -recalling the history of their escape from slavery in Egypt. This again is entirely natural and to be expected. After all, if Rahab, a mere harlot of Jericho, was familiar with this history (Joshua 2: 9-11), why should the much better informed kings of Canaan not have been? A trawl through the Amarna archive reveals the following references to Joshua and his people. It does not include every instance in which the Hebrews or their leader are mentioned, but it does give us a good idea of just how prominently Joshua and his people figured on the Canaanite scene. The incursion of the Hebrews was indeed a major invasion, and its startling impact on the Canaanite kings comes over loud and clear in the urgency of their appeals to the Pharaoh of Egypt to send soldiers to help fight them off. This is evidence for the integrity of the Book of Joshua that is of the very highest quality, and it is astonishing that this information has not been made more available to the public. What has been made available is the somewhat inaccurate notion that a couple of the tablets mention some “Apiru,” a name which, we are asked to believe, may be derived from the Assyrian word habbatu, meaning robber, and that these occurrences must therefore refer to some troublesome bandits that were roaming the area at that time. Nothing could be more distorted and inaccurate. It is a forced and false derivation which misleads the reader. The Canaanite kings were certainly strong enough and well enough organised to see off any such bands of robbers, whom they would have hunted to extinction. It is what they did, and they were very good at it. Canaan could never have become a land flowing with milk and honey had it been a land in which lawless bands of cutthroats carried the day. Neither do bands of robbers capture whole swathes of territories along with their walled and fortified cities which were protected by regiments of disciplined and armed soldiers. No. The term Apiru, which appears throughout the archive, is merely the Akkadian cognate of the word Hebrew (Habiru), Akkadian being the diplomatic language in which most of the tablets are written.” (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Joshua, 220-243 (Kindle Edition))

Noting these facts, Cooper then goes on to point out that the Hebrews are mentioned quite often in the Amarna Tablets. He cites several examples: 

““Now he is like the Hebrew, a runaway dog….” EA 67: 17. “The war of the Hebrew hosts against me is most severe….” EA 68: 18. “Through the Hebrews his auxiliary force is strong!…. Let him not gather together all the Hebrews….” EA 71: 21 & 29. “Kill your lord and join the Hebrews…. and all the lands will be joined to the Hebrews…. EA 73: 29 & 33. “They were won over following his message, and they are like Hebrews…. that the entire country be joined to the Hebrews.” EA 74: 29 & 36. “The war, however, of the Hebrews against me is severe…. The Hebrews killed Aduna, the king of Irqata, and so they go on taking territory to themselves.” EA 75: 10 & 27. “He has just gathered together all the Hebrews against Sigata and Ampi, and he himself has taken these two cities.” EA 76: 18. “ … speak to your lord so that he will send you at the head of the archers to drive off the Hebrews…” EA77: 24 & 29. “… all the Hebrews… have turned against me…. If there are no archers, then all lands will be joined to the Hebrews. Listen!” EA 79: 10 & 20. “He said to the men of Gubla, ‘Kill your lord, and be joined to the Hebrews like Ammiya.’” EA 81: 13. “All the Hebrews are on his side…. he is strong.” EA 82: 9. “The Hebrews have taken the entire country!” EA 83: 17. “… the Hebrews have gone to Yapah-Hadda in Beirut so an alliance might be formed…. the lands have been joined to the Hebrews…. lest he gather together all the Hebrews and they seize the city.” EA 85: 41, 73 & 78. “Let an elite force, together with chariots, advance with you, that I may drive the Hebrews from the gate.” EA 87: 21. “But if the king my lord does not give heed to the words of his servant… all the lands of the king as far as Egypt will be joined to the Hebrews.” EA 88: 34. “You yourself have been negligent of your cities, so that the Hebrew dog takes them.” EA 90: 25. “Why have you sat idly by and done nothing, so that the Hebrew dog takes your cities?…. I have just heard that he has gathered together all the Hebrews to attack me!” EA 91: 5 & 24. “They would attack me and I would be unable to get out, and Gubla would be joined to the Hebrews. They have gone to Ibirta, and an agreement has been made with the Hebrews.” EA 104: 49-54. “If this year there are no archers, then all lands will be joined to the Hebrews. Behold, members of the [Hebrew] army have entered Akka….!” EA 111: 21. “I paid 13 shekels of silver and a pair of mantles as the hire of the Hebrews….” EA 112: 46. “… all my towns have been joined to the Hebrews….” EA 116: 38. “There is treachery against me…. all the lands will belong to the Hebrews…. What am I to do? May the king send a garrison and men from Meluhha to guard me. May the city not be joined to the Hebrews!” EA 117: 58 & 94. “Behold… the Hebrews will seize the city!” EA 118: 38. “… the sons of Abdi-Asirta have said to the Hebrews and the men who have joined them…” EA 121: 21. “Should Gubla be joined to the Hebrews….” EA 127: 22. “They have won the lands for the Hebrews….” EA 129: 94. “They are like dogs, and there is no one who wants to serve them. What am I, who live among the Hebrews, to do?” EA 130: 38. “Now Aziru has gathered all the Hebrews….” EA 132: 21. “All the cities that the king put in my charge have been joined to the Hebrews…. a man that will lead the archers of the king to call to account the cities that have been joined to the Hebrews, so you can restore them to my charge….” EA 144: 26 & 30. “The king of Hasura has abandoned his house and has aligned himself with the Hebrews…. He has taken over the land of the king for the Hebrews.” EA 148: 43 & 45. “He has made Amurru an enemy territory, and has turned over all the men in the cities of the king… to the Hebrews.” EA 179: 22. “… when the Hebrew forces waged war against the king…. The Hebrews captured Mahzibtu… then the Hebrews took refuge…. And the Hebrews captured Gilunu…. And the Hebrews captured Magdalu… plundered it, sent it up in flames…. And the Hebrews captured Ustu…. And then the Hebrews raided Hasi… we did battle with the Hebrews…. Then 40 Hebrews went to Amanhatpe… Amanhatpe is an Hebrew…. &c.” EA 185. “… allowed all of the cities of the king, my lord, to go over to the Hebrews in Tahsi and Upu…. I restored from the Hebrews…. I disbanded the Hebrews.” EA 189r 11, 17-18. “They gave his horses and his chariot to the Hebrews….” EA 197: 4. “Lost to the Hebrews from my control are all the cities of the king.” EA 207: 21. “… all the lands are lost to the Hebrews.” EA 215: 15. “And as the warring of the Hebrews in the land is severe…” EA 243: 20. “The two sons of Labayu have indeed given their money to the Hebrews…” EA 246r: 7. “I did not know that my son was consorting with the Hebrews.” EA 254: 34. “So may the king, my lord, save his land from the power of the Hebrews.” EA 271: 16. “… and the entire land of the king, my lord, has deserted to the Hebrews.” EA 272: 17. “… and gone is the land of the king, my lord, by desertion to the Hebrews…. know that the Hebrews wrote to Ayyaluna and to Sarha, and the two sons of Milkilu barely escaped being killed.” EA 273: 14 & 19. “May the king, my lord, save his land from the power of the Hebrews lest it be lost.” EA 274: 13. “… my lord, why do you love the Hebrews, but hate the [city] governors?…. That Hebrew has plundered all the lands of the king.” EA 286: 19 & 56. “… who have given the land of the king to the Hebrews.” EA 287: 31. “I am treated like an Hebrew…. but now the Hebrews have taken the very cities of the king…. ” EA 288: 38 & 41-47. “… when he was giving the land of Sakmu to the Hebrews?” EA 289: 24. “The land of the king deserted to the Hebrews…. the land of the king will desert to the Hebrews.” EA 290: 13 & 24. “… having become my enemy, entered Muhhazu and pledged himself to the Hebrews!” EA 298: 27. “Since the Hebrews are stronger than we…. may the king, my lord, get me away from the Hebrews, lest the Hebrews destroy us.” EA 299: 18, 24 & 26. “As the Hebrews are more powerful than we…” EA 305: 22. “… merchants from Egypt who were struck down in the attack of the Hebrews.” EA 313: 6. “Save me from the powerful enemies, from the hand of the Hebrews….!” EA 318: 11.”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Joshua, 253-322 (Kindle Edition))

Yet what is also equally amazing is the fact that the Amarna Tablets make other references to the Hebrews!

Cooper clarifies : 

“But there are added corroborations for the Book of Joshua amongst the Amarna Tablets, and one of them is the specific mention of “men of Judah” –ameluti Ia-u-du! –and “armed men [or warriors] of Judah” –ameluti sabe Ia-u-du. 2 The Canaanite spelling of Ia-u-du is identical to that of Assyrian inscriptions which later speak of Judah, and it is interesting to see the men of Judah and the many cities allotted to Judah set out so precisely in Joshua 15. The tribe of Judah formed a major component of Joshua’s people, and it is interesting to see the Canaanites unwittingly acknowledging that fact. It is also worth noting a complaint made by Abdi-heba, king of Jerusalem, that he is troubled by the men of “Laba,” or Levi in the Hebrew….The Canaanite kings have left their own vociferous testimony to the truth of the Book of Joshua, and it is no exaggeration to say that, had the invasion of Canaan under Joshua not taken place –as the critics claim -then the Amarna archive would never have carried this independent testimony to the fact that the Hebrews –including men of Judah, Levites, Malchielites and Heberites! -successfully invaded and overran Canaan in the late 15th century BC, the very time in which the archive’s contents were written. And we must remember that the archive’s letters were not written and sent by just one of Canaan’s kings, but by many.” (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Joshua, 322-346 (Kindle Edition))

Several things need to be noted here.  

First, the Amarna Tablets contain some of the most incredible testimony regarding the trustworthiness of Scripture. The Book of Joshua is not a fictional narrative written by some second century B.C. editor who wanted to feed his people lies and encourage them in the midst of suffering.

Rather, it was the firsthand account of Joshua, the successor of Moses, who (with Divine help) carried out the Lord’s will to ‘drive out’ the Canaanites and give the land to His chosen people.  

When critics of the Bible tell us that the Bible is not historically accurate, it is good to point out the truth to them.

Which truth am I referencing?

Very simply, secular history continually confirms and validates the authenticity of Sacred Writ!  

Second, it is very disheartening to realize that there are so many people who are opposed to the Word of God to such an extent that they would do anything and everything in their power to keep such testimony as this from the hands of the common people. There are, indeed, some individuals who so hate and despise God and His people that they will do everything in their power to try and keep the truth from those who are desperately seeking for answers.

There are, indeed, many such enemies of the Cross of Christ: 

Philippians 3:18-19-18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

Third, it is important to keep in mind that despite such efforts of wicked men, God will always providentially arrange for the truth of His Word to be made known. God has promised that the person who seeks Him with the whole heart will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He declares that He is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). How thankful we should be that God has allowed such incredible evidences of His Word to exist, and to be made known to those who are seeking the truth.  

Fourth, there is another fascinating lesson to consider from the Amarna Tablets. We find herein some incredible indirect evidence to the Ten Plagues of Egypt which devastated that country’s economy, infrastructure, and military.  

Speaking of the fall of Jericho in the Amarna Tablets, and how appeals were being sent to Egypt from the Canaanite kings for help against the Hebrews, Cooper writes the following: 

“But does that mean that the city of Jericho –and especially its fall -is not mentioned in the Amarna Tablets by any of the other kings of Canaan? If we believed modern translations and their commentators then we would think not. And yet the fall of Jericho is indeed mentioned, and it appears in the earliest translation of the Tablets into English by Claude Conder, which he published in 1893, just five years or so after the Tablets’ discovery. 1 Conder was eminently qualified to translate the tablets, for apart from his many academic qualifications in the field, he had been speaking on a daily basis for seven years a Syrian dialect which was directly related to the language of the Tablets. On one tablet which he refers to as 102 B, he notes the reading “icalu, ca-ar Irhu zabbatu,” which translates as, “They have prevailed, they have taken the fortress of Jericho (Irhu).” 2 He is cautious enough to state that the sign for Jericho –Irhu –is unusual, and that an alternative reading (if his was wrong) could be “they have been swift to seize.” But “they have taken the fortress of Jericho” is clearly his preferred reading. Making better sense of the passage, it takes due cognizance of the sign irhu –the name of Jericho -which the alternative reading would have to ignore. And after all, the letter is meant to be a factual report conveying military information to the Pharaoh of Egypt, and not an exercise in truisms. Moreover, it fits the rest of what this and certain other Tablets –not to mention the Book of Joshua -say exactly. Needless to say, the tablet has since been ‘retranslated’ with the name of Jericho (irhu) expunged. Subsequent transliterations of the line (nowadays EA 286: 6) have been made to read: i-ka-lu ka-ar-si-ja, where -si-replaces Conder’s Irhu. See, for example, Mercer. 3 Here he transliterates the line as i-ka-lu ka-ar-si-ja (u-sha-a-ru), translating only the final word “u-sha-a-ru” as “They slander me,” and seemingly ignoring the preceding and crucial phrase, i-ka-lu ka-ar-si-ja, in which -si-replaces Conder’s reading of irhu –Jericho. Without translating it, Mercer acknowledges the uncertainty of his own reading by annotating the contentious sign with, “This must be -si-.” 4 In fairness, the mistranslation did not originate with Mercer, who took it from Knudtzon, whose 1908 edition of the tablets (Die El-Amarna Tafeln –it was Knudtzon who inverted the order of the Tablets) became the standard reference on the subject up to the present day, 5 and so the expunging of EA 286’ s reading of “they have taken the fortress of Jericho” is perpetuated with no further questions asked. We may wonder what other readings have been falsified in the Tablets -readings which would have further exonerated the Book of Joshua? The same tablet also notes that the Pharaoh had inexplicably withdrawn all his forces from Canaan that very year, when the Hebrews ceased their wanderings in the desert and entered the Land of Canaan. The loss of a recent Pharaoh and his army under the waters of the Red Sea some forty odd years previously, was, not surprisingly, still fresh in the memory of the present Pharaoh’s more senior ministers, and he had therefore made the strategically wise move of avoiding all confrontation with the Hebrews. Hence the precautionary withdrawal of his forces out of Canaan just as the enormous Hebrew multitude came into Canaan from their wanderings –a withdrawal that was inexplicable to the Canaanites, but perfectly understandable to any who were now employed in trying to preserve Egypt through this present crisis and hopefully restore her to her former power once it was all over. It is why the Pharaoh is so often berated in the Amarna Tablets by the Canaanite kings for his complete inaction and refusal to help.” (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Joshua, 375-408 (Kindle Edition))

Thus we find even more confirmation in the Amarna Tablets to the trustworthiness and credibility of the Bible.  

Friends, the Bible is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17)! Why not start allowing God to be the Lord of your life and directing your paths today (Proverbs 3:5-6; Luke 6:46)?  

The God of Heaven loves you so very much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the world to die for your sins on the Cross of Calvary (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). The Gospel is the “Good News” that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

It includes also the promise that God will forgive those who believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), repent of their sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (1 Timothy 6:12), and who are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38).

He also promises that when we live faithfully to Him, we will receive Heaven as our home one day (Revelation 2:10).

When we sin and fall away after becoming a Christian (1 John 1:8), He will forgive us if we repent of that sin and confess it to Him in prayer (1 John 1:9-2:2).  

Why not obey Him 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.  

Job And The Afterlife: The Descent Of Christ Into Hades #1 Ephesians 4:8-10 (Part One)

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Quotation For Contemplation 

“The most significant interpretational difficulty in this verse is in deciding what “the lower parts of the earth” refers to. The view of the early church fathers and the consensus view through the centuries has been that it refers to a descent of Christ to the underworld (or, Hades). Although a difficult issue, this view appears to have the greatest amount of evidence to support it.” (Clinton E. Arnold, Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: Ephesians, 6714 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Introduction 

In our studies of Job, we have learned a great deal about the subject of Hades. A brief summary will be helpful: 

The realm of departed spirits in the Old Testament was referred to as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek).  

Sheol was a place of consciousness, memory, and various sensations.  

Sheol was divided into (at least) two sections.  

For The Saved: Sheol was a lush garden in which God’s people were reunited after death, and in which they enjoyed sweet fellowship and looked forward to being ransomed from this realm at the end of time by the Messiah.  

For The Unsaved: Sheol was a terrible place of suffering, of which the unsaved experienced pain and sorrow. This sorrow and pain, however, was borne from God’s desire to bring the wicked to repentance.  

Sheol was the world for (most) deceased humans, (some) fallen angels, and (many) of the nephilim.  

It is also clear that not all of humanity went to this realm (at least, not immediately); and that, for reasons unbeknownst to us, some were allowed to leave that realm.  

With these thoughts in mind, we will now turn to one of the most mysterious teachings of the Bible regarding this world of the dead: the teaching of the Scriptures that Jesus descended into Hades.  

There are five primary texts which set forth this teaching (Psalm 68:18; Romans 10:6-7; Ephesians 4:8-10; 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6).

As we will notice, however, there are other texts in the Bible which touch upon this theme.  

In the following two lessons, we will carefully examine Paul’s statement to the church of Ephesus (4:8-10).

A study of this passage will also lead to a detailed analysis of Psalm 68:18 and Romans 10:6-7.

These lessons will take the form of several “Questions And Answers” from the text.  
Let’s begin with a study of several different translations of the passage.  

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV)-8 Therefore He says: “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, AND GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”

9 (Now this, “HE ASCENDED”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:8-10 (CEV)-8 As the Scriptures say, “When he went up to the highest place, he led away many prisoners and gave gifts to people.”

9 When it says, “he went up,” it means that Christ had been deep in the earth.

10 This also means that the one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (Young’s Literal Translation)-8 wherefore, he saith, ‘Having gone up on high he led captive captivity, and gave gifts to men,’ —

9 and that, he went up, what is it except that he also went down first to the lower parts of the earth?

10 he who went down is the same also who went up far above all the heavens, that He may fill all things—

Ephesians 4:8-10 (Amplified)-8 Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of  N1 vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. [Psa 68:18]

9 [But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth?

10 He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).

Let’s turn to a detailed study of this passage in the form of a series of Questions And Answers.  

QUESTION ONE: What Is The Context Of Paul’s Statement Regarding Christ’s Descent? 

ANSWER: Paul is encouraging the Christians to pursue unity and to remember the spiritual gifts which they have been given.
 
The Book of Ephesians was written by Paul with a very specific purpose and theme: to expound upon the church of Christ. The prevailing phrase throughout the Book is “in Christ,” which was a designation which had reference to the church. Paul is adamant that the purpose for Creation, and for redemption, is the establishment of the church (Ephesians 1:4-7; 9-11; 3:9-11). Indeed, this central theme of God in creating the church was to bridge all the divisions of the universe, including those of Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Furthermore, the work of the church somehow involves preaching to the principalities and powers (Ephesians 3:9-11), which was Paul’s phrase to have reference to the angels (both those which are faithful to God and those which are opposed to Him).

Evidence of this is found in the fact that the phrases “principalities and powers” were well-known Jewish terms of Paul’s day and age.

As Clinton Arnold has pointed out: 

“While all three texts refer to the angelic hierarchy surrounding God’s throne, the Jews believed the same hierarchy existed in the kingdom of evil. Furthermore, many of these terms were commonly used to refer to various ranks of human leaders in governmental positions of authority. The angelic kingdom was widely believed to be structured in an analogous way to earthly political kingdoms….While “principalities” (archai) and “authorities” (exousiai) seem to be uniquely Jewish expressions for the unseen realm, many of the other words he used were also used by Gentiles to refer to the world of spirits and invisible powers. Words like “powers” (dynameis), “dominions” (kyriotetes), “thrones” (thronoi), “angels” (angeloi), “world rulers” (kosmokratores), “demons” (daimonia), “elemental spirits” (stoicheia) and “rulers” (archontes) were known and used by pagans, as evidenced in their magical and astrological texts.”” (Clinton E. Arnold, The Powers Of Darkness: Principalities & Powers In Paul’s Letters, 90-91 (Kindle Edition); Downers’ Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press) 

Speaking specifically of the role that God has assigned to the church as described in Ephesians 3:10 (either in the present age or the age to come) in regard to the principalities and powers, another author has written: 

“The church’s task is articulated here as preaching to the Powers. It is engaged in a kind of spiritual warfare, but it also has a mission that carries the truth of the gospel into the very heart of power and expects some result. Are we then to envisage the conversion of the Powers? What is the church to tell them? Where are “the heavenly places,” and how is the church to have access to Powers there? None of these questions is easily answered.” (Walter Wink, Naming The Powers: The Language Of Power In The New Testament, 1017 (Kindle Edition); Philadelphia, PA; Fortress Books) 

What has brought all of God’s plans for the church to fruition is what Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary.

This was the essence of God’s preordained plan to bring all things together, whether in Heaven or on Earth (Ephesians 1:9-11).

It is by the Word of the Gospel the Ephesians had been redeemed from sin (Ephesians 1:13-14), and it is by that same Gospel that Christ has ascended far above the highest heaven (Ephesians 4:8-10) and taken His rightful place as the Head of the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).  

These mysteries had been hidden from the world at large before Christ came; yet now, through His New Testament revelation (Ephesians 3:1-4), we can have access to that wondrous knowledge and revelation of God.

Because of what God has kept hidden, and now revealed, the world (both the physical world and the spiritual world) can come to fathom and understand the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

It is for these incredible truths that Paul prays the Christians will continue to grow and abound in the knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 1:14-23; 3:14-21), and which leads him to exhort the disciples to walk worthy of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-6). God has equipped His church with everything it will need to carry out its’ purpose of fellowship and preparation for eternity and the sharing of the Gospel message with the lost (Ephesians 6:10-20).  

Describing the fact that God has provided His church with everything which they need, Paul points out that He has given “gifts” to His church: 

Ephesians 4:11-12-11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

It is in this context that Paul is going to explain where these gifts came from, and why they are so important to the theme of Christ’s victory at Calvary.  

QUESTION TWO: Why Does Paul Quote Psalm 68:18 In This Context?  

ANSWER: To draw upon a commonly understood Jewish tradition regarding a victorious king presenting gifts to his subjects from the enemies that he had conquered.  

The Apostle Paul is going to join together three important themes.  

First, he has been elaborating on the incredible things that Jesus has done in creating the church. It was in His atoning death, burial, and Resurrection on the third day, and His continual work in the lives of His people, that Jesus carried out this incredible mission (Ephesians 2:10; 5:22-31).  

Second, Paul is going to quote a passage from the Book of Psalms which prophesied the far-reaching implications of what Jesus accomplished at Calvary. Let’s carefully study the passage, and see how it applies to Paul’s point: 

Psalm 68:18-You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the LORD God might dwell there.

The passage in Psalms has reference to an ancient custom among the Hebrews (and other nations).

When a king went out to fight some horrific battle and was victorious, he would capture the enemy soldiers and parade them behind him. Having his soldiers “loot” the enemy, the king would then lead the train back to his homeland. There, his citizens would be gathered together and would welcome him with shouts of adoration and glory. The king would then take the gifts he had taken from his enemies and shower them upon his faithful subjects.  

“As Paul quotes the passage, there is one noteworthy divergence from the Hebrew and Septuagint texts. Where they read “Thou hast received gifts among men,” he quotes the form “He … gave gifts unto men.” This reading is also attested in Jewish antiquity; it found its way into the Syriac version of the Old Testament (the Peshitta) and into the Targum or Aramaic paraphrase of the Psalter. The original picture is of a victorious king ascending the mountain of the Lord in triumphal procession, attended by a long train of captives, receiving tribute from his new subjects (according to the one reading) and bestowing largesse upon the crowds which line his processional route (according to the other reading). For Paul’s present purpose the reading which speaks of the conqueror as giving gifts is more appropriate than that which speaks of him as receiving them; but if this secondary reading had not been available to him the first would not have been unsuitable; the ascended Christ may well be pictured as receiving from His Father the gifts which he proceeds to bestow among men.” (The New F.F. Bruce, A New Presentation Of His Classic The Epistle To The Ephesians Verse-By-Verse Exposition-An Open Your Bible Project, 1346-1363 (Kindle Edition); Claverton Down, Bath BA2 6DT, UK; Creative Communications Ltd,) 

The differences between the quote in Psalm 68:18 and Paul’s quote of this passage is readily explained by the fact that Paul is quoting from a non-Hebrew translation of Psalms:

“A much more serious attempt to solve the dilemma takes its starting point from a variant form of the Old Testament textual tradition. The Syriac Peshitta rendering of Psalm 68: 18 is ‘you have given gifts’, and although there is difference of scholarly opinion as to its value as evidence, it may reflect a textual tradition different from that represented by the MT and the LXX. 1059 Furthermore, the paraphrase of Psalm 68: 18 in the Aramaic Targum is remarkable, for like the Peshitta it reads ‘you gave’ rather than ‘you received’ (as in the MT). It is unlikely that the New Testament wording of the passage has influenced the Targum, and although the Targum on the Psalms is late, it reflects a tradition and text form that are much earlier. 1060 M. Wilcox has cautiously concluded that the author of Ephesians ‘was here quoting either from, or in the light of, an Old Testament textual tradition resembling that of the Targum, but disagreeing with the tradition preserved in the LXX and MT at this point’.” (Peter T. O’Brien, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Epistle To The Ephesians, 289-290 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 

“First, there were other forms of the text current in Paul’s day that read “you/ he gave gifts” instead of “you received gifts.” One is the Aramaic Targum of Psalm 68: 18, which reads, “You ascended to the firmament, O prophet Moses, you took captives, you taught the words of the law, you gave them as gifts to the sons of man.” 17 Although it is doubtful that Paul is depending on the entire Targum paraphrase of this psalm (see the “In Depth” section for analysis), the Targum does represent an alternative form of the text, namely, “he gave gifts,” that Paul may have been familiar with when he was writing Ephesians. The Aramaic was not the only form of the Psalms text that spoke of the giving of gifts. The Syriac translation of the Psalms also agrees with the text form of Ephesians: “You ascended on high; and you led captivity captive; and you gave gifts to the sons of men.” 18 This is a far less interpretive translation than the Targum and, apart from the Septuagint, is one of the oldest translations of the OT. It is likely that this text form of Psalm 68 existed in the first century before Ephesians was written and was thus not influenced by Eph 4: 8.19 In addition to this, most manuscripts in the Sahidic and Bohairic dialects of Coptic also have “he gave.” Furthermore, one Old Latin manuscript contains the same third person singular reading.” (Clinton E. Arnold, Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: Ephesians, 6674 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Paul is going to tie this in with what Jesus has accomplished. By virtue of the fact that Jesus descended into Sheol, He was able to take power from the captives there and shower it upon the church which He would build.  

Third, because of what Jesus has accomplished, He has given these gifts to His people. What are they? In the context of Ephesians 4, these gifts are specifically the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). 

QUESTION THREE: Who Is “He” Who Ascended?  
ANSWER: Jesus Christ 

There is a great deal of discussion about the original intent of Psalm 68. Messianic prophecy often is drawn from types and shadows. Chuck Missler has explained it well:

“In our culture, we tend to think of prophecy as a prediction with a future fulfillment. That’s what we think of as prophecy. That’s the Greek mindset, however. The Hebrew model is a little different. Hebrew prophecies about the future are based on patterns. As we study the Hebrew literature, we continually see patterns of the Messiah profiled in Israel….The Book of Ruth certainly has a historical application. The story describes a series of events that actually took place during the times of the Judges. We need to understand the historical period during which these events took place….We will also discover that Ruth has some prophetic applications. There are mystical revelations that might surprise us if we missed them at first glance. In Hebrew hermeneutics, the rabbis have what they call the remez –the hint of something deeper. We run across what appear to be small rabbit holes, but they open the door to another world of perspective.” (Dr. Chuck Missler, The Romance Od Redemption, 76-89 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

As such, the original context of Psalm 68 had reference to some battle in which God was victorious over His enemies.

Some have suggested it was perhaps in reference to how David defeated some terrible king with the help of the Lord, or to how Moses himself ascended up to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

The Jews have quite an interesting amount of traditions regarding this particular Psalm:

“The “therefore” clearly indicates that this parenthesis is related somehow to the giving of gifts. But what is that relationship? The problems begin with the citation of Psalm 68:18 itself, “You ascended the high mount, leading captives in your train and receiving gifts from people.” Psalm 68 is, according to the notes in the Oxford Annotated Bible, “the most difficult of the psalms to interpret.” The cited fragment, however, seems clearly to refer to God’s ascending to his throne in the temple and to a celebration of God’s victory over God’s enemies. The people, “even those who rebel against the LORD God’s abiding there” (as Ps. 68:18 continues), are forced to bring tribute to God. The victory may be a reference to some historical triumph during the time of David or to an anticipated eschatological triumph….Calvin knew of certain Jewish interpretations of this psalm that took it to refer not to God but to David, but he had less sympathy for those interpretations of Psalm 68 than he did for the reading of the psalm in Ephesians….There was evidently a tradition of interpretation that transferred to the son of David (whether to the current king or to the messianic king) attributes ascribed to God in the enthronement psalms. It was a small step from that transfer to understanding David to be the one who “ascended” in this psalm, going up “the high mountain” of Zion, in the aftermath of his triumph over his enemies to establish Jerusalem as a place for the throne of God, bringing the ark of God to Jerusalem. Psalm 68 does seem to invite liturgical celebration at the temple (see vs. 24–27), and worship at the temple would surely connect with the earlier image of the church as “a holy temple,” a “dwelling place for God” (Eph. 2:21, 22). There was, however, another tradition of interpreting this psalm that transferred what was said of God to Moses. In this tradition Moses is the one who ascended the high mount, and the mount is Sinai.23 That was evidently the view of a number of ancient Jewish interpreters, in part because the passage was read at the Jewish festival of Pentecost, celebrating the gift of the law. It found its way into the Targum on Psalm 68 (an Aramaic translation or paraphrase that was read in synagogue worship). The Targum not only identified Moses as the one who “ascended,” it also paraphrased “received gifts” as “you have learned the words of the Tora, you gave them as gifts to the sons of men.”24”. (Allen Verhey & Joseph S. Harvard, Ephesians: Belief-A Theological Commentary On The Bible, 159-160 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press) 

Whether the Psalm originally referred to Moses or David, there were definitely Messianic overtones to it.  

“Verse 6 is very fascinating when one studies the individual words, though none of the regular translations seem to recognize this. The word for “solitary” is the same word translated “darling” in Psalm 22:20 and Psalm 35:17. In the Greek Septuagint, “darling” is rendered by monogenes , meaning literally “only begotten.” The Hebrew for “families” is translated many different ways, most often “home,” and frequently “temple” or “palace.” The word for “setteth” is really “sets down” or “sits down.” Putting all this together, the first part of verse 6 might read: “God sets down His only begotten in His own home (or heavenly temple).” Following our previous inference that verse 1 refers ultimately to Christ’s resurrection, this ties in beautifully with such Scriptures as Ephesians 1:20: “[God] raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” Then the last part of verse 6 anticipates verse 18 (see below). When Christ rose from the dead, His Spirit returning from Sheol (or Hades), “He bringeth out those which are bound (that is, those who had died in faith, but had to remain in Hades until Christ became the sacrifice for their sins) into freedom.” The word for “chains” is actually “freedom” or “prosperity,” as many translations render it. In contrast, the ones who died still in rebellion against God must be left in the prison “a dry land” (literally, “parched land”; compare Luke 16:24).” (Henry M. Morris with Henry M. Morris III, Treasures In The Psalms:1240-1252 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books) 

In Ephesians 4, Paul makes specific reference of this passage to Christ. &nbsp

“He” Who ascended is “Christ” (Ephesians 4:7, 15).  

QUESTION FOUR: Where Did Christ “Ascend?”  
ANSWER: Into Heaven

The text is very clear that Paul ascended to the highest Heaven.

The Jews conceived of Heaven in at three different ways.

There was the heavens in which the birds fly (Genesis 1:20), that is, our atmosphere.

Second, there is the starry heavens (Psalm 19:1-5; 108:4).

Finally, there is the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).

This is the very dwelling place of God, where Jesus ascended forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11). In Scripture, this place is also referred to as the “heaven of heavens” (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 68:33).  

QUESTION FIVE: Where Did Christ “Descend?” 

ANSWER: Christ Descended To The Realm Of Hades

Now, Paul is going to make the application that Christ not only ascended to the highest Heaven, but that He also descended to the “lower parts of the earth.”

What does this phrase mean?

Through the years, there have been three interpretations offered.  

First, some have suggested that the phrase “the lowest parts” of the earth refer simply to Earth itself. So, the idea is proposed that this passage is simply saying that Christ came to the Earth from Heaven and lived among humanity. This is certainly true, of course (Philippians 2:5-8; John 1:1, 14; 2 Corinthians 8:9), but as we shall see, this is not the meaning of the expression.  

Second, it has been suggested that this has reference very simply to His body being put in the grave at the time of His death. Again, this is certainly true (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), yet we will see that this is not the meaning of the phrase.  

The third interpretation which has been offered regarding this passage is that Paul is teaching that Jesus descended into Hades, the realm of the dead.

When we go back and study carefully, we see that this is the most obvious explanation.  
How do we know this?  

The Bible was not written in English.

Instead, God gave His Word through the languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. By going back and studying the original languages of the Bible, we are able to better understand what the God of creation would have us to know.  

What we find is that, among the Jews of the first century (and long before),the phrase “lower parts of the earth” had specific reference to Hades.  

The first example of this evidence is seen in that the specific phrase “lower parts of the Earth” was used throughout the Greek translation of the Old Testament to refer to Sheol.  

“To say Christ descended to the “lower parts of the earth” seems to us different than saying that he descended to the earth. The language (katōtera merē tēs gēs) resembles the language that the Septuagint used to refer to Sheol, to the “underworld,” the realm of the dead.25 The Messiah descended into the realm of the dead by his death. He “was buried” (as the ancient confession in 1 Cor. 15:3–4 put it). He had descended “into the abyss” of death (Rom. 10:7). That is the presupposition for his resurrection from the dead and for his exaltation, his ascent, to his place at God’s right hand, far above the powers, including the power of death. The Messiah was dead. He was in the realm of the dead. And he took even our captivity to death captive. Even the power of death can no longer hold us captive or separate us from God (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24–26; Ps. 68:20). All those held captive by death find their release, their liberation, in this Jewish Messiah (Eph. 2:4–6).” (Allen Verhey & Joseph S. Harvard, Ephesians: Belief-A Theological Commentary On The Bible, 161-162 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press)

In the footnoted reference mentioned in the aforementioned section (footnote 25), we have the following: 

“See, e.g., Gen. 44:29; Pss. 63:9 (LXX 62:10); 139:15 (LXX 138:15); etc. See Buchsel, TDNT 3:641 n. 10.” (Allen Verhey & Joseph S. Harvard, Ephesians: Belief-A Theological Commentary On The Bible, 177 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press)

Second, the non-canonical writings of both the Jews and the Christians for centuries before and after the time of Christ used this phrase in the same way, e.g., to refer to Sheol.  

“The superlative adjective (), however, does appear a handful of times in the LXX, and its usage there does provide some helpful perspective for this passage. On three of the seven occasions of its use in the LXX, the genitive expression “of the earth” () modifies it. For instance, Ps 63: 9 [62: 10] reads, “those who seek my life … will go down to the depths of the earth ()” (see also Ps 139: 15 [138: 15]; Odes 12: 13 [= Prayer of Mannaseh 1: 13]). In none of these passages can the genitive be taken in apposition to “the lowest parts” as in views (1) and (3), “the lower parts, that is, the earth”; it can be viewed only as possessive or partitive, “the lower parts of the earth. The only place in Jewish literature where the comparative adjective () does appear is in the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, a document that may be a Christian composition incorporating earlier Jewish apocalyptic traditions. In this document, Ezra asks God to see “the lower parts of Tartarus” (, 4: 5). 28 A retinue of angels then leads Ezra into lower and lower parts of the Abyss. There is no sign that this document has been influenced by the words of Ephesians. The document suggests that the language of “lower parts” would be readily understood in Jewish circles familiar with an apocalyptic worldview as referring to Hades, Tartarus, or the Abyss….The “lower parts of the earth” makes the most sense in its first-century religious context if it is interpreted as an expression for the underworld or Hades.” (Clinton E. Arnold, Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: Ephesians, 6714-6739 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan) 

So, Paul is telling us very clearly (in language used by both the Hebrew and Greek Old Testament, as well as the Jewish and Christian terminology of his day and age) that Christ, at some point, personally descended into Sheol.  

QUESTION SIX: When Did Christ “Descend” Into Hades?  

ANSWER: Between His Death And Resurrection 

There are many facts which show us that it was during the time of His death on Calvary and His resurrection from the dead that Jesus descended into Sheol.  

First, Jesus Himself declared that when He died, He would go to Hades. While on the cross, He spoke to one of the thieves who was being crucified with Him and who had shown true faith and repentance. Jesus told him:

Luke 23:43-And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Second, Hades is the realm of departed spirits, so of course, Christ went to Hades when He died.  

Third, in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul makes the point that Jesus descended into the deepest parts of Hades when He died:

Romans 10:6-7 (CEV)-6 But people whose faith makes them acceptable to God will never ask, “Who will go up to heaven to bring Christ down?”

7 Neither will they ask, “Who will go down into the world of the dead to raise him to life?”

Paul specifically ties together the time of Christ’s descent into the world of the dead with the timeframe of Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 10:9-10).  

Jesus, at the time of His death and up to the time of His resurrection three days later, descended in the spirit to Sheol, the realm of the dead.  

Conclusion 

From our study, we have learned the following: 

In Ephesians 4, while describing how the eternal purpose of God in the church has been brought to fruition by what Christ accomplished at Calvary, the Apostle Paul clearly teaches that Jesus descended into Hades.  

Paul is clear that this descent of Christ to the lowest depths of Hades took place between the time of His death and resurrection three days later.  

The quotation of Paul from Psalms (68:18) shows that this Messianic prophecy had been fulfilled in what Christ accomplished in His descent into Hades and His ascension to Heaven; and that as a result of this, He had taken “captivity captive” and brought gifts to His church.  

Study Questions 

 In Ephesians 4:8-10, Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 as saying that Christ “gave” gifts. Yet Psalm 68:18 actually reads that the Messiah “received” gifts. Why the different renderings? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are the three possible interpretations of the phrase “the lower parts of the earth?” ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What is the meaning of the phrase, “the lower parts of the earth,” and how may we be certain of this? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are the translations of the following Greek words?  

Archai: _______________________________

Exousiai: _____________________________

Dynameis: ____________________________

Kyriotetes: _____________________________

Thronoi: _______________________________

Angeloi: _______________________________

Kosmokratores: _________________________

Daimonia: _____________________________

Stoicheia: _____________________________

Archonetes: ____________________________

5. Which Scripture from the pen of Paul teaches that the church is somehow involved in preaching to angels? __________________________

For Prayer Partners: 

1. Consider the statement of Paul in Ephesians 4:8-10. Who did Christ preach to in Hades? What message did He preach?