The Magog War: Part Two-The Nations Of The War

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Throughout Ezekiel 38 and 39, we are told about a war that a will take place some time during the Christian Age.  

In this war, the enemies of God will attack “Israel” and (by all appearances) will destroy God’s people.  

However, He intervenes and the enemies of God are defeated.  

In this article, we are going to notice the identities of the specific nations which are mentioned in this passage (saving the identity of “Israel” for last).  

The Hostile Nations 

We are told about several nations that attack Israel.  

Let’s notice the list of nations here recorded, and see who their descendants are today.  

Magog 

The first nation mentioned in this list is that of Magog. (Notice: Gog is said to be a powerful leader who comes from the land of Magog).  

Magog is first mentioned back in the Book of Genesis, in what is known as the Table of Nations (Genesis 10).  

Let me point out that while many people mock the list of nations recorded in Genesis 10, those who have set themselves to study the authenticity of this record have been amazed at its’ accuracy.

For example, one inquisitive investigator named Bill Cooper records: 

“When I first came across this problem some fifty years ago, I found it most perplexing. On the one hand I had the Bible itself claiming to be the very Word of God, and on the other I was presented with numerous commentaries that spoke with one voice in telling me that the Bible was nothing of the kind. It was merely a hotch- potch collection of Middle- Eastern myths and fables that sought to explain the world in primitive terms, whose parts had been patched together by a series of later editors. Modem scientific man need have nothing whatever to do with it. Now, it simply was not possible for both these claims to be valid. Only one of them could be right, and I saw it as my duty, to myself at least, to find out which was the true account and which was the false….Either way, I would discover once and for all whether the Biblical record was worthy of my trust or not. It seemed a little irreverent to treat a book that claimed to be the very Word of God in such a fashion. But if truth has any substance at all, then that Book would surely be able to bear such a test. If Genesis contained any falsehood, error or misleading statement of fact, then a severe testing would reveal it and I would be the first to add my own voice to those of all the other scholars who declared the Book of Genesis to be little more than fable…What I had not expected at the time was the fact that the task was to engage my attention and energies for more than twenty- five years. Nor had I expected the astonishing degree to which Genesis, particularly the tenth and eleventh chapters, was to be vindicated. These chapters are conveniently known to scholars as the Table of Nations, and the sheer breadth and depth of the historical evidence that was available for their study astonished me….Today I can say that the names so far vindicated in the Table of Nations make up over 99% of the list, and I shall make no further comment on that other than to say that no other ancient historical document of purely human authorship could be expected to yield such a level of corroboration as that!” (Bill Cooper, After The Flood: The Early Post-Flood History Of Europe Traced Back To Noah, 80-111 (emphasis added, M.T.), (Kindle Edition))  

Genesis 10 recorded the descendants of the nations from Ham, Shem, and Japheth (the sons of Noah) after the Flood, and after the Tower of Babel incident.  

We first find Magog being mentioned in this passage:

Genesis 10:1-2-1 Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.  

We are told in several ancient Hebrew history books that the descendants of Magog settled in the land of Scythia.

For example: 

“Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians. ” (Josephus, Antiquities Of The Jews,. 1.6.1)

The ancient book of Jasher (which is not inspired Scripture but is highly recommended for study by the Scriptures-Joshua 10:13; 2 Timothy 3:8), records that some of the descendants of Magog settled in other parts of Scythia: 

Book Of Jasher 10:14-14 And the children of Meshech are the Shibashni and the children of Tiras are Rushash, Cushni, and Ongolis; all these went and built themselves cities; those are the cities that are situate by the sea Jabus by the river Cura, which empties itself in the river Tragan.

Another Jewish history book records: 

Book Of Jubilees 9:9-Magog (dwells in)_ all the inner portions of the north until it reaches to the sea of Me’at.”  

Finally, it would be well to note that the Irish historian Geoffrey of Monmouth (in Historian Regum Britanniae) reported that Magog crowned his firstborn son, Boath, as the first king of Scythia.  

Now, all of these historians point out that Magog settled in the land of Scythia.

What land is that in our day and age?  

Russia.  

In fact, it is noteworthy that in the reference from Jasher (mentioned above), the descendants of Magog are said to settle near the river Tragan. This was an ancient name for the river known today as the Volga River.  

Interestingly enough, there is a famous city that exists there to this day: 

Moscow.  

It also needs to be pointed out however that Magog and his descendants actually are the ancestors of other nations.

Notice: 

“There later follows a succession of strange and ancient names, of which the table of descent that opens this chapter is a somewhat simplified extract. The important thing for us to notice in this table of descent, though, is the unequivocal statement that the decidedly pagan Irish traced their origins back to the Biblical patriarch, Magog, the son of Japheth. This is in direct contrast to the claims of the Britons and other European nations, whose genealogies were traced back to Javan, another son of Japheth. Now, Magog, as we shall see in Appendix 3, was considered, with Ashchenaz, the father of the Scythian peoples, and the early Irish chroniclers were most emphatic in their insistence that the Irish were of Scythian stock. And there is good etymological evidence for this. The Irish were long referred to as Scots even before some of them migrated to the country that today bears their name, and as Brewer tells us: “Scot (is) the same as Scythian in etymology; the root of both is Sct. The Greeks had no c, and would change t into th making the root skth, and by adding a phonetic vowel we get Skuthai (Scythians), and Skodiai (Skoths). The Welsh disliked s at the beginning of a word, and would change it to ys; they would also change c or k to g, and th to d; whence the Welsh root would be Ysgd, and Skuth or Skoth would become ysgod. Once more, the Saxons would cut off the Welsh y, and change the g back again to c, and the d to t, converting the Ysgod to Scot.” 9 It would be no strange thing to find Scythian peoples as far west as Ireland. After all, the land in Asia Minor known of old as Galatia, was populated by a migrating colony of Gallic Celts (the Gauls) from whom the country got its name. St Paul wrote his famous epistle to their descendants. Many other examples from history are known of nations seemingly popping up in places where one would normally not expect to find them, so it requires no great stretch of the imagination to accept what the early Irish chroniclers so often insisted upon, namely their descent from the Scythian races.” (Bill Cooper, After The Flood: The Early Post-Flood History Of Europe Traced Back To Noah, 1473-1482 (Kindle Edition))

The descendants of Magog included the peoples of Russia and Ireland.
 
The Connection To Rome

There is another important fact that needs to be pointed out about Magog.

Despite the evidence listed above, some scholars have pointed out that the connection with Magog to Russia is not accurate.

Instead, it is pointed out that in Ezekiel’s day, there was a nation that was known as Magog!  

“In his multi-volume work called The Natural History, Pliny identifies the ancient Lydian city of Hierapolis as being part of Magog. Built atop the cliffs, the city of Hierapolis controlled the water supply of the Lydian city of Laodicea six miles to the south. The city of Hierapolis was built by the Lydians and always under Lydian control until the Lydian Kingdom became part of the Persian Empire in 546 BC and then part of the Greek and Roman Empires that followed. Like Pliny, today’s archeologists also identify Magog with the ancient nation of Lydia, which was in western Asia Minor. Indeed, written records from the Assyrian royal court show that the Assyrians used the name Magog as an eponym for the nation of Lydia. In his book Pliny writes, “Bambyx the other name of which is Hierapolis, but by the Syrians called Magog.”* In other words, Pliny identifies the famed Lydian city of Hierapolis as being part of Magog. In this we see that Magog is another name for the ancient nation of Lydia….The identification of Magog with Lydia and not Scythia is consistent with the ancient texts of the Assyrians, who at various times were either the allies or the foes of the Scythians yet had peaceful dealings with the Lydians. The identification of Magog as Lydian, and not Scythian is also consistent with the writings of the ancient historian Herodotus (ca 490-424 BC), a Greek who was born in, lived in, and traveled throughout all of ancient Asia Minor. Herodotus’ famed book, The History, which gives a detailed history of all the ancient nations of Asia Minor, was written about 100 years after Ezekiel’s writings. 14 Herodotus, who is considered the Father of History, wrote detailed information about the three different Scythian tribes and the ten different tribes that neighbored them, including their ever changing and opportunistic alliances….He says that Magog (Lydia), as led by the historical figure Gog (Gyges to the Greek, Gugu to the Assyrians) and the Scythians, were in fact enemies! In Gyges of Lydia we have the leader the Assyrians called “Gugu, King of Ludu,” and “Gugu of Magugu,” the Bible’s Gog of Magog. 15” (Jeffrey Goodman, Ph.D., The Comets Of God: New Scientific Evidence For God-Recent Archaeological, Geological, And Astronomical Discoveries That Shine New Light On The Bible And Its’ Prophecies, 473-476 (Kindle Edition); Tucson, ARIZONA; Archaeological Research Books L.L.C.). 

Now, here is the fascinating thing about Magog (Lydia): it was one of the leading nations that eventually formed the Roman Empire.  

Throughout several Old Testament prophecies, the nation of Rome is seen to be the archenemy of God’s people.

In fact, the wickedness that began through pagan Rome worked its’ way down through papal Rome, trying in every way to destroy the church of Christ (Daniel 2:36-44; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12).  

In regards to the identification of Magog, I personally believe that both of these interpretations (connecting Magog with Russia and Rome) have some elements of truth in them.  

It seems undeniable that there is a connection between Russia and Magog; but it also seems undeniable that there is a connection between Magog and Rome.  

Rosh 

The next interesting nation that is mentioned here is found in verse 2.  

Ezekiel 38:2-“Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him,

In verse two, we are told about the prince of “Rosh.”  

Now, it is very likely that your Bible translation will not use this word. Notice how this passage is translated in different translations: 

Ezekiel 38:2 (KJV)-Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,

Ezekiel 38:2 (ASV)-Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 

Some of the translations use the word “Rosh,” while others simply translate this as “chief prince.”  

There is confusion about exactly how to translate this word.

You see, it could be a word that simply means “the ruler.”  

Or, it could be a personal noun.  
Some investigators have pointed out that this was possibly an ancient designation for the nation of Russia.  

Let’s notice some of the interesting facts regarding this issue:

“Bible scholars have often identified Rosh with Russia. But this conclusion has not been unanimous. Two key questions must be answered to properly identify Rosh: (1) Is Rosh a common noun or a proper name? and (2) Does Rosh have any relation to Russia? The word rosh in Hebrew simply means “head, top, summit, or chief.” It is a very common word used in all Semitic languages. Most Bible translations translate rosh as a common noun—“ chief.” The King James Version, Revised Standard Version, English Standard Version, New American Bible, New Living Translation, and New International Version all adopt this translation. However, the Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, and New American Standard Bible all translate Rosh as a proper name indicating a geographical location. The weight of evidence favors translating Rosh in Ezekiel 38–39 as a proper name. Five arguments support this view. First, the eminent Hebrew scholars C. F. Keil and Wilhelm Gesenius both hold that a proper noun is the better translation of Rosh in Ezekiel 38: 2-3 and 39: 1, referring to a specific geographical location. 214 Second, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, translates Rosh as the proper name Ros. This translation is especially significant since the Septuagint was translated only three centuries after Ezekiel was written—obviously much closer to the original than any modern translation. The modern translations of Rosh as an adjective can be traced to the Latin Vulgate of Jerome. 215 Third, in their articles on Rosh, many Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias (New Bible Dictionary, Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, and International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) support taking it as a proper name in Ezekiel 38. Fourth, Rosh is mentioned the first time in Ezekiel 38: 2 and then repeated in Ezekiel 38: 3 and 39: 1. If Rosh were simply a title, it would be dropped in these two places, because when titles are repeated in Hebrew, they are generally abbreviated. Fifth, the most impressive evidence in favor of taking Rosh as a proper name is simply that this translation in this context is the most natural. G. A. Cooke translates Ezekiel 38: 2, “the chief of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.” He calls this “the most natural way of rendering the Hebrew.”…There are two key reasons for understanding Rosh in Ezekiel 38–39 as a reference to Russia. First, linguistically and historically, there is substantial evidence that in Ezekiel’s day there was a group of people known variously as Rash, Reshu, or Ros who lived in what today is southern Russia. 217 Egyptian inscriptions as early as 2600 BC identify a place called Rosh (Rash). A later Egyptian inscription from about 1500 BC refers to a land called Reshu that was located to the north of Egypt. 218 Other ancient documents include a place named Rosh or its equivalent in various languages. The word appears three times in the Septuagint (LXX), ten times in Sargon’s inscriptions, once in Ashurbanipal’s cylinder, once in Sennacherib’s annals, and five times in Ugaritic tablets. 219 While the word has a variety of forms and spellings, it is clear that the same people are in view. Rosh was apparently a well-known place in Ezekiel’s day. After providing extensive evidence of the origin and early history of the Rosh people, and then tracing them through the centuries, Clyde Billington concludes: Historical, ethnological, and archaeological evidence all favor the conclusion that the Rosh people of Ezekiel 38–39 were the ancestors of the Rus/ Ros people of Europe and Asia. . . . Those Rosh people who lived to the north of the Black Sea in ancient and medieval times were called the Rus/ Ros/ Rox/ Aorsi from very early times. . . . The Rosh people of the area north of the Black Sea formed the people known today as the Russians. 220 The great Hebrew scholar Wilhelm Gesenius, who died in 1842, noted that Rosh is “undoubtedly the Russians.” 221 Second, geographically, Ezekiel 38–39 emphasizes repeatedly that at least part of this invading force will come from the “remote parts of the north” (38: 6, 15; 39: 2, NASB). The Bible usually provides directions in reference to Israel, which, on God’s compass, is the center of the earth (Ezekiel 38: 12). If you draw a line directly north from Israel, the land that is most remote or distant to the north is Russia.” (Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview Of Bible Prophecy And The End Of Days, 294-297 (Kindle Edition); Carol Stream, Illinois; Tyndale House Foundation) 

It seems likely that “Rosh” is indeed a reference to Russia.  

Meshech And Tubal

We are also told in this passage about Meshech and Tubal.

In the Bible, these two peoples are usually listed together.

For example:

Ezekiel 27:13-Javan, Tubal, and Meshech were your traders. They bartered human lives and vessels of bronze for your merchandise.

Ezekiel 32:26-“There are Meshech and Tubal and all their multitudes, With all their graves around it, All of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, Though they caused their terror in the land of the living.

Some have identified these two places as ancient names for Moscow and Tobolsk, two Russian cities, because they sound similar.

However, this is not sufficient evidence to make this connection.  

So then, who are they? 

Notice that in the earlier reference (Ezekiel 27:13), the city of Tyre was doing business with these two countries.  
It ks doubtful they were trading with russia!
So who were they?

Many believe that these cities are the same ones identified in Greek writings as Moschoi and Tibarenoi. The Assyrians referred to them as Tabal and Musku.  

They are located in modern day Turkey.  

Persia

Persia is one of the ancient names for the country of Iran (as is Elam).  

Ethiopia, Libya 

These are the same countries as today with those names.  

Gomer 

When we study the writings of ancient extra-biblical documents, we see that the descendants of Gomer are associated with the peoples of Germany and France.  

“Gomer, the first son of Japheth according to Genesis, founded a people known to the early Greeks as the Cimmerians who dwelt on the shores of the Caspian Sea. From here, they were later driven away by the Elamites. The prophet Ezekiel, during the time of the Captivity, referred to them as those who dwelt in the uppermost parts of the north. They appear in Assyrian records as the Gimirraya whose defeat under king Esarhaddon is duly noted. They appear also in the annals of the reign of Ashurbanipal of Assyria around 660 BC. The people of Ashchenaz are found in earliest times in Armenia, and later Jewish writers associate them with the Germanic races (Germanic Jews to this day are called Ashkenazim). They appear also in the 6th century BC records of Assyria as the Askuza who allied themselves with the Mannai in a revolt against Assyria, an event also mentioned in Jeremiah (51: 27) -whose prophecy incidentally confirms the identity of the Askuza with the Ashkenazim. This people were later known to the Greeks as the Scythai, the Scythians of Herodotus. They gave their name to the lake and harbour of Ascanius and to the land of Ascania.” (Bill Cooper, After The Flood: The Early Post-Flood History Of Europe Traced Back To Noah, 510-518 (Kindle Edition))

We are told in the Book of Genesis about some of the descendants of Gomer:

Genesis 10:3-The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.

Interestingly enough, Josephus points out that the Greek name for the children of Ashkenaz is Rheginians.

According to ancient Roman maps, these people settled in the modern nations of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany.  

Further, the book of Jasher indicates that there were connections between the ancestors of Gomer and the French.  

Book Of Jasher 10:8-And the children of Gomer, according to their cities, were the Francum, who dwell in the land of Franza , by the river Franza, by the river Senah.

The river “Senah” mentioned by Jasher is virtually identical to the Seine River where Paris was built.  

Josephus-“ For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites. ”. (Antiquities Of The Jews 1.6.1)

House Of Togarmah 

Ken Johnson shows incredible historical evidence that the house of Togarmah included many nations, including China:

“In the chapter on Armenia we learned Togarmah had eight sons. His firstborn founded the Armenian race. This information was preserved in the History of Armenia , by Moses Chorene, and the Georgian Chronicl e s written by Leonti Mroveli in the 11th century AD. The sons of Togarmah became the progenitors of several of the Caucasian peoples . Togarmah is said to have settled among his children in Armenia and Georgia . It is also said he lived for almost 600 years. After the fall of the tower of Babel , when Nimrod lost most of his power in the outer regions, Togarmah partitioned his land among his eight sons. Hayk took what is now Armenia and part of Turkey . Kartlos and his sons settled the regions which today are collectively called the provinces of Georgia . His other sons took the land between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea up to the Caucasus Mountains . Two of Togarmah’s sons, Kovkas and Kekan (founder of the Leks), settled north of the Caucasus Mountains . The Georgian Chronicle s tell us the second born son of Togarmah, Kartlos , founded the Georgian race. Kartlos had five sons: Mc ’ xet ’a, Gardbos , Ka x os , K uxos, and Gajis . Mc ’ xet ’a had three sons: Op’los, Ojrx os , and Jawaxos . These seven sons and grandsons of Kartlos became the founders and first kings of the Mtskheta, Gardabani, Kakheti, Kukheti, Gachiani, Uplistsikhe, Odzrkhe, and Javakheti peoples , respectively. Kartlos united his people and founded the city of Kartli. Today Kartli is the name of the largest province of Eastern Georgia . The Georgian capital, Tbilisi , and the cities Gori and Rustavi are located there. Azerbaijan and Armenia are directly south of it….Part of the house of Togarmah, known as Kipchaks, spread throughout, and intermingled with, the peoples of southern Russia as far as China and as far west as Bulgaria, and the Ukraine. A zerbaijan should be a part of the house of Togarmah ; but they have no record that they are.” (Ken Johnson, Th.D., Ancient Post-Flood History: Historical Evidences That Point To Biblical Creation, 2691-2796 (Kindle Edition)). 

The Hesitant Nations 

We are also told about some nations that do not actually help Israel.  

Furthermore, they seem to simply offer a complaint and an objection against the hateful nations for attacking Israel; yet they do not take any definitive action.

Let’s notice these “hesitant nations.”  

Sheba And Dan 

Today, these are the scattered peoples of Saudi Arabia.  

Tarshish And Her Merchants And Lions

Many people believe that this could be a reference to the United States.  

Tarshish itself was a city located in Spain, which was far to the west from Israel.  

Hitchcock explains: 

“The specific nations that question Gogs actions are identified as “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish.” Sheba and Dedan are not difficult to identify. These are the ancient names for the land we know today as Saudi Arabia. Tarshish, on the other hand, is not so simple to identify. But the majority of scholars believe that Tarshish is ancient Tartessus in the present-day nation of Spain. Both Brown-Driver-Briggs and the Hebrew scholar Gesenius support this view. Tarshish was a wealthy, flourishing colony of the Phoenicians. It exported silver, iron, tin, and lead (see Jeremiah 10: 9; Ezekiel 27: 12, 25)….Where was Tarshish in Ezekiel’s day? It was at the extreme west of the known world, in Spain. When God commanded Jonah to go preach to Nineveh (about five hundred miles northeast of Israel), Jonah headed to Tarshish instead—about as far in the other direction as he could go (see Jonah 1: 1-3). Tarshish is associated in Scripture with the West: “The western kings of Tarshish and the islands will bring him tribute” (Psalm 72: 10, NLT)….The young lions of Tarshish could be a reference to the colonies that emerged from Europe—including the United States. If this is true, then the young lions of Tarshish could be the United States in the last days. If so, she will join with her European and Saudi allies to lodge a formal protest against the Russian-Islamic aggressors.” (Mark Hitchcock, Is America In Bible Prophecy, (395-404 (Kindle Edition); Multinomah Books) 

The study of archaeology has shed further light on this issue by demonstrating that Tarshish was part of the ancient Phoenician Empire, which led expeditions to the New World long before the time of Christopher Columbus: 

“That ancient Old World Semitic civilizations built a large temple observatory complex in ancient America indicates that they were colonizing, not merely exploring, ancient America. Radiocarbon dating tests showing this facility was in use during the 2nd millennium B.C. confirms that this Semitic colony was present in North America at the time King David was importing prodigious amounts of copper ore for the building of God’s Temple. The presence of a large Semitic settlement in North America during King David’s reign confirms the likelihood that King David’s Israel (with its huge copper smelting facility at Ezion-geber) was the consignee for the many millions of pounds of copper ores which “vanished” from the ancient Lake Superior copper mines. The ships of Tarshish (referred to in Ezekiel 27: 25 and Jonah 1: 3) were also regular callers in the New World, and inscriptions and tablets of their involvement in colonizing ancient America was preserved in Rhode Island, Ohio, and West Virginia. 21…Fell notes that the Tartessian inscriptions in ancient America are a “dialectal variant of Phoenician,” 22 confirming that these early American visitors were also Semites from the Mediterranean area.” (Steven M. Collins, The ‘Lost” Ten Tribes Of Israel…Found!, 1012-1021 (Kindle Edition); Boring, Oregon; CPA Books)

Therefore, some believe that these “hesitant” nations primarily refer to Saudi Arabia, American, Spain, and England.  

The Hated Nation

The Bible here tells us about the nation that is so hated is Israel.  

However, this poses a bit of a dilemma.  
Throughout the Bible, the word “Israel” can have reference to two different “groups.”

I refer to them as Physical Israel (the physical descendants of Abraham) and Spiritual Israel (the spiritual descendants of Abraham).  

Romans 9:6-7-6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED.”

The Bible talks about two “different” Israels:

1 Corinthians 10:18-Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

Galatians 6:16-And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

God had declared in the Old Testament that the people of Israel would be His people IF and only IF they obeyed the Lord’s Word: 

Exodus 19:3-6-3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

One author points out several examples of these “two Israels” as found throughout the Bible: 

“According to Paul, there are two Israels. The proof? The Jewish apostle wrote, “They are not all Israel who are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). In this chapter, we will discover that there is an “Israel after the flesh” (1 Corinthians 10:18) and an “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), composed of both Jews and Gentiles who have personal faith in Jesus Christ, God’s true Messiah. Paul wrote, “Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:6-7). Paul’s argument is that because Abraham was a man of faith, only those who have faith are his spiritual children. We might call this the concept of “faith lineage.” This truth is like a key that can open a lock in our heads. Once the lock is open we can understand the shocking principle of two Israels. John the Baptist understood and boldly preached “faith lineage.” When a group of tricky Pharisees and Sadducees came to question John’s right to baptize, the wilderness prophet astonished them by shouting, “And do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:9-10). Those Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t have real faith like Abraham did, yet they claimed to be his children. John the Baptist exposed this delusion. “Don’t think that!” he thundered. John then laid the “ax” to the root of the trees by saying that if they didn’t bear “good fruit” through faith in God like Abraham did, they would be “cut down and thrown into the fire” (verse 10). Clearly natural lineage alone is not enough. Without faith and a spiritual connection with the Almighty, those Jews were doomed. Jesus Christ taught the same truth. A certain group of Jewish people once said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus responded, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39). They also claimed to be Abraham’s children, but they lacked true faith. By saying, “If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus denied their claim. Christ continued, “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father” (John 8:40-41). “We have one Father—God,” they countered. “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me…You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it’” (John 8:41-42,44). What an atomic text! Jesus was talking to some Jewish people who claimed to be Israelites, the children of Abraham, yet they were only following God outwardly, not in heart. Jesus said they weren’t really Abraham’s children at all because they lacked true faith and were following lies. Their lineage actually went back to satan, the first liar….Jesus Christ also taught “faith lineage” in John chapter 1. A spiritually-minded Jew named Nathanael was wondering whether Jesus of Nazareth was really his Messiah. Retiring to a favorite spot under a fig tree, he prayed about the matter. Soon a friend introduced him to the Savior. When Jesus saw Nathanael, He joyfully declared, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47) Nathanael had a natural lineage that went back to Abraham. Yet he had more. In his spiritual life, he had gained victories over guile, which means deception. When Jesus discerned Nathanael’s spiritual lineage to Abraham and Jacob, He called him “an Israelite indeed.” Just as Jacob himself had become a spiritual Israel, even so had Nathanael become “an Israelite indeed.” He was part of God’s true spiritual Israel. Just as there are two Israels, even so are there two kinds of Jews. There are Jewish people in the flesh and Jewish people in the Spirit. In words of warning to certain Jews who were breaking the Ten Commandments, Paul wrote, “Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God…. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man [a Gentile] keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?…For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:17,25-26,28-29). Did you catch that? Someone who is “called a Jew” because he is a physical descendant of Abraham, and yet who lives as a lawbreaker, is “not a Jew.” His “circumcision has become uncircumcision.” To God, he is a Gentile. And the believing Gentile, who through faith keeps “the righteous requirements of the law,” his uncircumcision is “counted as circumcision.” To God, he is a Jew. Thus John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and Paul all agree—natural lineage is not enough. Whether or not someone is “an Israelite indeed” depends upon one’s faith and spiritual character. Paul summarized, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Anyone today can become one of these “Jews,” no matter who their earthly parents are. These concepts of “faith lineage,” Jews being counted as Gentiles, and visa versa, lead us to one of the biggest issues facing the prophecy-minded Christian world. This issue is at the core of prophetic interpretation. In it, we are faced with two options. One is the truth, the other a lie. One leads to Heaven and the other, possibly, to hell….Paul deals with this explosive issue in Romans 9:2-8. His words require careful thought. Sorrowfully, Paul wrote about his Jewish “countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises” (verses 2-4). God did make promises to Israel in the Old Testament. Yet what if some Jews do not have true faith in Him? Can God fulfill His promises to an unbelieving Israel after the flesh? If not, has His Word failed? Paul’s answer to these important questions is vital: “Not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel” (verse 6). Notice that the truth of two Israels is Paul’s assurance that God’s Word will not fail. Look carefully: “They are not all Israel [the Israel of God] who are of Israel [of the Jewish nation].” Thus a Jew can be of the Jewish nation, and yet not be part of the Israel of God. Now here’s the explosive question: To which Israel will God fulfill His promises? Paul continues, “Nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called’” (verse 7). Since not all physical descendants of Abraham are automatically God’s true children, therefore His promises are for those “in Isaac.” Abraham had two sons. The first was Ishmael, who was born after the flesh. The second was Isaac, who was born when Abraham had faith in God’s promise (see Genesis 16:1-3,15; 21:1-3; Romans 4:18-21). In Galatians 4:22-31, Paul shockingly reveals that Ishmael represents unbelieving Jews, while Isaac represents Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Christ! “Now we, brethren [as believers in Christ], as Isaac was, are children of promise” (Galatians 4:28). The “children of promise” are those who “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14). Therefore, the Israel that is “in Isaac” is the Israel of God in the Holy Spirit. Paul concludes, “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed” (Romans 9:8, emphasis added). “Counted as the seed” means that, although some may be Gentiles, they’re in. Here is an eight-point summary of Paul’s rather detailed reasoning: God made promises to Abraham and his seed (Galatians 3:16). Abraham’s seed would continue “in Isaac” (Romans 9:7). Isaac was born when Abraham had faith in God’s promise (Romans 4:19-21). Isaac represents everyone who believes in Jesus and who receives the promise of the Holy Spirit by faith (Galatians 3:14; 4:22-28) All who have faith in Jesus Christ—Jews or Gentiles—“are counted as the seed” (Galatians 3:14; Romans 9:8; 10:12). This seed is “the Israel of God” in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16,29; 6:14-16). God will fulfill His promises to this Israel (Galatians 3:29; 4:28; 6:14-16). Thus God’s promises to Israel have not been made of “no effect,” even though some Jewish people don’t believe in their own Messiah (Romans 9:6-8). Here we have the answer to the issue that means so much in prophetic interpretation. The Bible is clear. God will fulfill His Old Testament promises to those “in Isaac,” that is, to any human being who follows Abraham’s example and who becomes part of His Israel in the Spirit through faith in the Messiah. Thus the issue is not race, bloodline, genealogy, or ethnicity, but personal faith—a faith available to all (see Romans 10:12). Those who are only “the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed” (Romans 9:8). We should not expect God to fulfill His promises to unbelieving Israelites of the flesh (or to lips-only Christians of the flesh for that matter), unless, of course, they individually become true believers in the Messiah….In the next three verses, Paul refers to Israel’s apostasy in the days of Elijah. God told His prophet, “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal” (verse 4). In Elijah’s time there were also two Israels. One followed Baal, the other followed God. Then Paul made this pointed application. “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (verse 5). Just as in Elijah’s time there was a faithful remnant of Israel, even so in Paul’s time there was also a faithful remnant of believing Jews, who, like himself, had been saved by grace. Based on the context of Romans 11:1-5, it is this faithful remnant of Israel, made up of Jews like Paul, which God has certainly not “cast away.” Soon we will see this exact issue in the Book of Revelation. As in the days of Elijah, we are now in the midst of a terrible apostasy. Yet today God has His “seven thousand” who have not “bowed the knee to Baal.” They are His faithful remnant, His Israel in the Holy Spirit, who rely on God’s power instead of their flesh. Like Elijah, they will be on the side of Jesus Christ and His truth at Armageddon.” (Steve Wohlberg, End-Time Delusions: The Rapture, The Antichrist, Israel, And The End Of The World, 153-157 (Kindle Edition); Shippensburg, PA; Treasure House) 

Since the word “Israel” can have reference to either the physical or the spiritual descendants of Abraham, which are we talking about here in Ezekiel 38-39?  

In other words, is the “Israel” in this passage talking about the Jewish people, or about the church of Christ?  

First, the text tells us that the “Israel” in this passage were in subjection to the Messiah (Ezekiel 34:11-31; 37:24).  

Second, this “Israel” had the Holy Spirit of God (Ezekiel 36:27).  

Third, this “Israel” had repented of sin and been forgiven by the Lord (Ezekiel 36:32-33; 37:23).  

Fourth, this “Israel” lived under the New Testament (Ezekiel 16:60-62; 20:37; 34:25; 37:26).  

Fifth, this “Israel” would be in existence during the Christian Age or the “latter years” and “latter days” (Ezekiel 38:8, 16).

The “Israel after the flesh” that God brought back from Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel 37) was given the opportunity to become the true “Israel of God” based upon whether or not they accepted Jesus Christ.

The “Israel” in these chapters has reference to those Hebrews who became the people of God when they were forgiven and saved and added to God’s church: 

Romans 2:28-29-28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Galatians 3:7-Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Galatians 3:26-29-26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Conclusion 

In our next article, we will try and put all of these facts together.

We will see what these chapters in Ezekiel teach us about God, His people, and their enemies.  

For now, in conclusion, notice three things with me.  

First, when we carefully analyze this list of nations, something remarkable stands out: all of the nations (both the hateful nations and the hesitant nations) surround “Israel.”

In other words, the people of God are here completely surrounded by enemies.  

Second, to be part of “Israel” today, we must be added by God to His church when we surrender to the Lord according to His plan of redemption.  

Finally, we see here the promise that God would bring forth the Good Shepherd Who would come and heal the people: 

Ezekiel 34:11-12-11 ‘For thus says the Lord GOD: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.

The Good Shepherd (Jesus-John 1-:1-30) did come, to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came and died for the sins of mankind on the cross of Calvary, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

He invites all believers everywhere to come to Him and be saved (Matthew 11:28-30).

Believers are told: 

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Christians who sin are exhorted to come back to the Lord: 

1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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

Christianity And The Masonic Lodge: Are They Compatible?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)  

In this outline, I want to show you some of the reasons why New Testament Christianity and Freemasonry are incompatible.  

I have quoted a great deal of sources in this study, and hope that you will study these things out for yourself. Please do not be deceived by Freemasonry!  

The Concept Of Freemasonry  

One of the problems we face in the church is that people do not understand what the Masonic Lodge is.

What exactly is the Lodge?  

Let’s turn to the writings of the Masonic Lodge itself in order to help us understand what exactly Freemasonry is.  

“MASONRY What is Masonry? The erection of buildings and consecrating them to the veneration of God, we will admit was the purpose of the builders, of the ancient operative art. The Masons of the Speculative Science operate in a spiritual sense, employing the tools of the operative Mason as symbols, and using veiled allegories from the Bible to convey to their initiates a lesson and belief that there is life beyond the grave.” (Masonic Bible, Questions And Answers, 20).  

“One of the first questions asked by a new brother on being brought to the Light is, “What is Masonry?” The answer has never appeared in any satisfactory definition. There is no satisfactory formula. Dr. Joseph Fort Newton, in his Masonic classic, “The Builders,” at least expresses its true philosophy when he says: “When is a man a Mason? When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage-which is the root of every virtue. When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellow man. When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins-knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds. When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself. When he loves flowers, can hunt the birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy, when he hears the laugh of a little child. When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life. When star-crowned trees, and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead; when no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response. When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be. When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn mortal and see something beyond sin. When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope. When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellow man, with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song-glad to live, but afraid to die! Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world. (Kentucky Monitor, pages 9-10).”

Freemasonry is, (on the surface) a secret brotherhood that is devoted to good works.

However, it is much more then that.

It is a combination of any and all religious beliefs and a consecration to any and all deities that man believes in.  

Albert Pike (33rd degree Mason who as also the Supreme Comamdner of the Lodge for several years) tells us more about this side of Freemasonry when he explains that Freemasonry is: 

…the custodian and depository of the great philosophical and religious truths, unknown to the world at large, and handed down from age to age by an unbroken current of tradition, embodied in symbols, emblems and allegories. (Pike, Morals And Dogma, 201).  

Thus, Freemasonry is much more then a “brotherhood” devoted to good works, which is what is often claimed.  

Organization Of The Masonic Lodge And The Different Degrees  

Please notice that the “foundation” of Freemasonry is the first three degrees, also known as the Blue Lodge.

As the initiate advances in the Lodge (through the various degrees of the York and the Scott Rite).

The Origin Of The Masonic Lodge  

There is a great deal of debate about the origins of the Masonic Lodge.  

Some date the Lodge to the sixteenth century A.D.; others claim it is much older, perhaps having its’ origins in ancient Egypt and during the day of Solomon.  

The Cornerstones Of Freemasonry  

Whether Or Not The Lodge Is A Religion  

Notice these quotations from Masonic scholars about whether or not the Lodge has its’ own religion and religious style.  

“Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion.” (Albert Pike, Morals And Dogma, 213).  

“I contend, without any sort of hesitation, that Masonry is, in every sense of the word, except one, and that its least philosophical, an eminently religious institution-that it is indebted solely to the religious element which it contains for its origin and for its continued existence, and that without this religious element it would scarcely be worthy of cultivation by the wise and good.”. (Mackey, Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 618).

The Degree of Apprentice…declares that Masonry is a worship.” (Pike, 219)  

“Freemasonry is a religious institution…Freemasonry may rightfully claim to be called a religious institution…The religion of Freemasonry is not sectarian…The doctrine of a resurrection to a future and eternal life constitutes an indispensable portion of the religious faith of Freemasonry.” (Mackey, 792, 847, 851).  

“By Speculative Masonry, we learn to subdue the passions, act upon the square, keep the tongue of good report, maintain secrecy and practice charity. It is so far interwoven with religion as to lay us under obligation to pay that rational homage to the Deity, which at once constitutes our duty and our happiness.” (West Virginia Monitor, 47-48).  

“But the Masonic organizations in which these legends were cherished, like Masonic Lodges today, were religious bodies.” (Masonic Bible, 30).  

“Masonry is essentially a religious order. Most of its legends and allegories are of a sacred nature…A religion is a divinely inspired code of morals.” (Joseph Fort Newton, The Lost Keys Of Masonry, 13).  

“ALTAR Of what importance is the Altar to the Lodge? The Altar is undoubtedly the most important piece of furniture in the Lodge. In all the religions of antiquity, it was the usage of the priests and the people, to pass around the Altar in the course of the sun, that is to say, from the east, by way of the south, to the west, singing hymns of praise to Deity as part of their worship.” (Masonic Bible, Questions And Answers, 3).  

“RAISED What does the term Raised signify? The expressive term used to designate the reception of the candidate into the third or sublime degree of Master Mason, and alludes both to a part of the ceremony and to our faith in the glorious morn of the resurrection, when our bodies will rise, and become as incorruptible as our souls. Hos. 6:2; 1 Co. 6:14.” (Masonic Bible, Questions And Answers, 24).

Can there be any doubt that Freemasonry is indeed a religion, when you study the authoritative writings of these Masons?  

Often Freemasons make the claim that the Lodge is not really a religion because it allows belief in any “god” and any system of religion.

This is just ridiculous!

I wonder if Freemasons believe that Hinduism is a religion?

What does that have to do with anything, you ask?

Hinduism admits roughly around 30 million gods!

Or how about Buddhism?

Even Buddhists admit some of the religious claims of Christianity, and in past years, some Buddhists have been trying to merge Christianity with Buddhism.

Will anyone claim that Hinduism and Buddhism are not religions because they espouse belief in any and every god?

Hardly!  

Furthermore, think about some of the things that are found in Freemasonry and you tell me if you think it has its’ own religious flavor.  

Worship.  

Religious items (such as the apron).  

Prayer.  

Songs.  

Special Funeral Services.  

Chaplains.  

Altars.  

Friends, Freemasonry is a religion.  

The Goal Of Freemasonry  

The goal of Freemasonry is definitely something which should concern the Christian.  

“Thus Freemasonry comes to us from the Temple, an operative Art combined with speculative Science…It makes no profession of Christianity, and wars not against sectarian creeds or doctrines, but looks forward to the time when the labor of our ancient brethren shall be symbolized by the erection of a spiritual temple whose moral grandeur shall be commensurate with civilization; a temple in which there shall be but one altar and but one worship; one common altar of Masonry, on which the Veda, Shastras, Sade, Zend-Avesta, Koran, and Holy Bible shall lie untouched by sacrilegious hands, and at whose shrine the Hindoo, the Persian, the Assyrian, the Chaldean, the Egyptian, the Chinese, the Mohammedan, the Jew, and the Christian may kneel and with one united voice celebrate the praises of the supreme Architect of the Universe.” (Kentucky Monitor, 95).  

The Lodge wishes to join together all the religions of the world into one large religious organization.

However, God teaches us through the Bible that Christianity is not “one religion among many,” and that the Christian has no right to mix together all the religions of the world (cf. Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  

Requirement To Enter The Blue Lodge: Belief In “God”  

The one universal requirement of any person who desires to enter into the Lodge is a belief in a Supreme Being.

Any “god” will do; the Lodge will not admit atheists into the Lodge.  

According to Albert Mackey: 

“There never was a time when the dogma (belief in God) did not form an essential part of the Masonic system.” (Mackey, Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1:410).  

“Masonry has no religious dogma other than that it requires a belief in Deity. Any man, good and true, whether he be Christian, Jew, Mohammedan, Parsee, Buddhist, Braham or Deist may be admitted to Masonry because all these religions require a belief in Deity.” (Masonic Code Alabama, 141).  

We will notice more about this later.  

First Degree And Darkness    

When the initiate first comes to the Lodge, he is blindfolded. As he approaches, the following happens.  

“The ritual contains a question-and-answer segment in which the candidate’s conductor is asked, ‘Who comes here? He answers, “(The candidate’s name), who is in darkness and wishes for light, to have and receive a part of the rights and benefits of this Worshipful Lodge, erected to God and dedicated to the holy Saints John (the Baptist and the apostle). After another short series of questions the candidate is led to the Masonic Altar, upon which rest the “Three Great Lights in Freemasonry”-the Volume of the Sacred Law (VSL), the Square, and the Compass. He is then asked to kneel, still blindfolded, before the altar on his naked left knee, and wear an oath of secrecy that he will never reveal the secrets of Freemasonry. Upon completion of this obligation the candidate is asked, ‘What do you now most desire?” He answers, “Light.” Genesis 1:1-3 is then recited (this particular reading occurs only if the candidate wishes to take his obligation on the bible; for those of other faiths, passages from the appropriate VSL are read). The Hoodwink is removed from the candidate. He finds himself kneeling before the Three Great Lights in Freemasonry. He is told the following: ‘The Bible we take to be the rule and guide of our faith; the Square to square our actions; and the Compass to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds with all mankind, most especially with our Brothers in Freemasonry.” (Tsoukalas, Masonic Rites And Wrongs, 51).  

Right here, one who is a follower of Jesus Christ must ask some hard questions.

How can a Christian come to the Masonic Lodge and claim that he is in darkness?

One who is following Christ is not in darkness; and he does not need to come to the Lodge to get some kind of spiritual enlightenment!  

John 8:12-“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  

The Christian who goes through this ritual needs to beware that he has just denied Jesus Christ.  

Second Degree And Third Degree And The Legend Of Hiram Abif  

The second degree helps prepare the Initiate for the third degree, which is one of the most fundamental degrees of the Lodge.  

In order to understand anything else about Freemasonry, you need to understand some facts (and interestingly enough, some fiction) about a man named Hiram Abif.

The name might sound familiar to you; he is mentioned in the Bible.

Take a look at 2 Chronicles 2:11-14 and 1 Kings 7:13-14. He is mentioned as one of the ones who helped Solomon build the Temple.

However, the Lodge has a great deal more to teach about Abif. Ephesians 5:11 Ministries has this excellent description of the rite.  

“During the Legend of the Third Degree, the candidate portrays Hiram Abiff in the ritual. He is blindfolded and led through the ritual by a conductor. In Masonic ritual, Hiram Abiff is not a worker of brass as in Scripture, but rather the Grand Master at the building of Solomon’s temple. Each day, he lays out the work for the workmen to complete. There are Fellowcrafts who work on the temple who are to be given the secrets of a Master Mason as compensation – when the temple is completed. Once they have the secrets of a Master Mason they will earn the wages of a Master. A group of fifteen Fellowcrafts decide that they do not want to wait until the work is completed. They form a plot which only three of them carry through. The three “ruffians” sequentially accost Hiram at the East gate, the South gate and the West gate. A similar dialog occurs at each temple entrance. The ruffian demands the secrets of a Master Mason. Hiram explains that this is neither the time, nor the place; the secrets can only be revealed in the presence of three, King Solomon, Hiram the King of Tyre and myself. The ruffian demands, “Your life, or the secrets.” Hiram responds, “My life you can have, my integrity – never.” When they fail to get what they want, they strike Hiram with one of the working tools and he staggers to the next gate and the next encounter. The third ruffian is also unable to extract the secrets from Hiram Abiff. He strikes Hiram on the head with a setting maul and kills him. Hiram willingly laid down his life rather than betray his trust.The ruffians have not achieved their goal and they have a body to dispose of. They bury the body in temple rubble and plan to return at midnight to give the body a more decent burial. At midnight, they return and carry the body to a hill west of Mt. Moriah, where Hiram Abiff is reburied. The next day, Hiram is nowhere to be found. A search is conducted. The Fellowcrafts who did not go through with the conspiracy confess the plot. A grave is found; the body of Hiram is found within it. Hiram Abiff has been in the grave for 15 days. King Solomon gives the order for the body to be raised using the grips of the Entered Apprentice and then the Fellowcraft. Those efforts are unsuccessful. King Solomon states that he fears that with the death of Hiram Abiff the word of a Master Mason has been lost. Therefore, the first word spoken after Hiram is raised from the grave will be the substitute until the lost word can be recovered. At that point, King Solomon raises Hiram Abiff from “a dead level to a living perpendicular” using the real grip of a Master Mason, also known as the Lion’s Paw. He embraces Hiram on the five points of fellowship, standing foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back and mouth to ear. King Solomon, played by the Worshipful Master, then whispers the substitute for the lost word in Hiram’s ear. That word is Ma-Ha-Bone. Following the Master Mason Lecture, the following words are spoken:  Then, finally my brethren, let us imitate our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, in his virtuous conduct, his unfeigned piety to God, and his inflexible fidelity to his trust; that, like him, we may welcome the grim tyrant, Death, and receive him as a kind messenger sent by our Supreme Grand Master, to translate us from this imperfect to that all-perfect, glorious, and celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides. (http://www.ephesians5-11.org/printpdf.htm).”

In the words of another Masonic author: 

“That which is shewn to him in the Ceremony is therefore the Resurrection of Hiram, issuing gloriously-as it is said-from the tomb and ‘reborn to a new life.’ In a word, the Master-Builder arises as Christ. The Temple of Masonry is henceforward the House of Christ, at once of earth and of Heaven, of earth in so far as it is realized here in the heart and life of the Brotherhood, of Heaven as it is built in Christ, world without end.” (Waite, Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry, Volume I, 314).  

“It was the single object of all the ancient rites and mysteries practiced in the bosom of pagan darkness….to teach the immortality of the Soul. This is still the great design of the third degree of Masonry. This is the scope and aim of its ritual. The Master Mason represents man, when youth, manhood, old age, and life itself have passed away as fleeting shadows, yet raised from the grave of iniquity, and quickened into another and better existence. By its legend and all its ritual, it is implied that we have been redeemed from the death of sin and the sepulcher of pollution…and the conclusion we arrive at is, that youth, properly directed, leads us to honorable and virtuous maturity, and that the life of man, regulated by morality, faith, and justice, will be rewarded at its closing hour by the prospect of eternal bliss…The important design of the degree is to symbolize the great doctrines of the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul; and hence it has been remarked by a learned writer of our Order, that the Master Mason represents a man saved from the grave of iniquity, and raised to the faith of salvation.” (Ahiman Rezon, Grand Lodge of South Carolina, 141-142).  

What is the significance of this important word, Ma-Ha-Bone?

No one is really sure.

However, it is likely a derivative of the Hebrew language, carrying with it the idea of, “How is the builder?,” having of course a reference to the initiate as he is raised to the “new life.”  

In this Masonic ritual, therefore, the Mason claims that he has died to the old life and is rising to a new life; he is claiming further that he is (by this) planning on entering into the great “heavenly Lodge” someday.  

What’s wrong with this? Very simply, one may only be reborn by the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 4:14; 15:1-4). One is not reborn by the power of the Masonic Lodge, but by the Spirit of God (see John 3:1-8).  

The Compromises Of Freemasonry  

Compromises Regarding God  

The Lodge is not concerned with which “god” a person believes in: Jehovah, Allah, Jesus, Braham, etc.; it does not matter to the Lodge. According to the Bible, there is only one God.  

Isaiah 44:6-“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.”  

In fact, I want you to do a study of Isaiah 44-God is challenging the people to prove that their “gods” are really Divine. They fail the test…miserably! Yet the one true God has communicated His existence and His will through nature and through the Bible (Romans 1:18-20; Acts 14:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  

John 14:6-“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

However, this is not what the Lodge teaches.  

“The true Mason is not creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha, or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth.” (Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys Of Freemasonry, p. 65-also note that Hall was a 33rd degree Mason).  

“For Masonry knows, what so many forget, that religions are many, but Religion is one-perhaps we may say one thing, but that one thing includes everything-the life of God in the soul of man, and the duty and hope of man which proceed from His essential character. Therefore, it invites to its altar men of all faiths, knowing that, if they use different names for “the Nameless One of a hundred names,” they are yet praying to the one God and Father of all; knowing, also, that while they read different volumes, they are in fact reading the same vast Book of the Faith of Man as revealed in the struggle and sorrow of the race in its quest of God.” (Masonic Bible, pages 5-6).  

It is for this reason that the Lodge has such an “open-door” policy regarding “god.”

Notice these shocking quotations.  

“You have learned that Freemasonry calls God “The Great Architect of the Universe.” This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In His private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of his choice. In a Masonic lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe.” (Allen E. Roberts, The Craft And Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism, 6).  

“There never was a false god, nor was there ever really a false religion, unless you call a child a false man.” (Max Muller, as quoted in Louisiana Masonic Monitor).  

“Masonry, around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moslem, the Brahmin, the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer to the one God who is above ALL the Baalim, must needs leave it to each of its initiates to look for the foundation of his faith and hope to the written scriptures of his own religion.” (Pike, Morals And Dogma, 226).  

Notice two things about this last quotation.  

First of all, the word “ Baalim” means “false god or gods.”

Pike says Jehovah is included in this group.

How can a Christian support any organization which is based upon the belief that Jehovah God is not the one true God?  

Second, this is the same age-old plea to bring all religions together and to cast aside truth. The Christian cannot do this (Ephesians 5:11)!  

Thus, from its’ very beginning, please notice that the Lodge is corrupt.

Why is this the case?

Simply stated, there is only ONE true God, and that God is Jehovah! The Lodge compromises this fact.  

Compromises Regarding The Bible  

The Bible claims to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Notice 2 Timothy 3:16-17-“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It also claims that it is God’s ONLY special revelation to mankind (see 1 Corinthians 2:9-13; Galatians 1:5-9; Colossians 2:6-8; Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 John 4:6).  

What’s more, the Bible is confirmed to be the inspired Word of God through many different ways (the unity of Scripture, the prophecies of the Bible and their fulfillment, the miracles of God’s chosen spokespeople especially in the first century as witnessed by many eyewitnesses, the resurrection of Christ, etc.).

However, the Lodge teaches many things that are contrary to this.

Notice a few examples.  

“And yet, like everything else in Masonry, the Bible, so rich in symbolism, is itself a symbol-that is, a part taken for the whole. It is a sovereign symbol of the Book of Faith, the Will of God as man has learned it in the midst of the years-that perpetual revelation of himself which God is making mankind in every land and every age. Thus, by the very honor which Masonry pays to the Bible, it teaches us to revere every book of faith in which men find help for to-day and hope for the morrow, joining hands with the man of Islam as he takes oath on the Koran, and with the Hindu as he makes covenant with God upon the book that he loves best.” (Masonic Bible, 5-7).  

Please notice that according to the Lodge, the Mason must honor and reverence all religions and all religious doctrines. It denies that the Bible is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind.

How can a Christian support an institution which claims this?  

In fact, according to the teaching of the Lodge, there is nothing truly unique about the Bible.  

“The Bible is used among Freemasons as a symbol of the will of God, however it may be expressed. Therefore, whatever to any people express that will may be used as a substitute for the Bible in a Masonic Lodge. Thus, in a Lodge consisting entirely of Jews, the Old Testament alone may be placed upon the altar, and Turkish Freemasons may use the Koran. Whether it be the Gospel to the Christian, the Pentateuch to the Israelite, the Koran to the Mussulman, or the Vedas to the Brahman, it everywhere Masonically conveys the same idea-that of the symbolism of the Divine will revealed to man.” (Albert Mackey, Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry, 133).

Albert Pike goes so far as to teach that the Bible is not truly unique, and that the Kabala (a book of Jewish occultism) is actually a more perfect volume then the Bible.  

“All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabalah and return to it: everything scientific and grand in the religious dreams of all the illuminati, Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg, Saint Martin, and others, is borrowed from the Kabalah; all the Masonic associations owe to it their Secrets and their Symbols. The Kabalah alone consecrates the alliance of the Universal Reason and the Divine Word…The Bible, with all the allegories it contains, expresses, in an incomplete and veiled manner only, the religious science of the Hebrews. The doctrine of Moses and the Prophets, identical at bottom with that of the ancient Egyptians, also had its outward meaning and its veils. The Hebrew books were written only to recall to memory the traditions; and they were written in Symbols unintelligible to the Profane. The Pentateuch and the prophetic poems were merely elementary books of doctrine, morals, or liturgy; and the true secret and traditional philosophy was only written afterward, under veils still less transparent. Thus was a second Bible born, unknown to, or rather uncomprehended by, the Christians; a collection, they say, of monstrous absurdities; a monument, the adept says, wherein is everything that the genius of philosophy and that of religion have ever formed or imagined of the sublime; a treasure surrounded by thorns; a diamond concealed in a rough dark stone.” (Pike, 744-745).  

Friends, please do not be deceived: Freemasonry is nothing but a false religion.  

Compromises Regarding Jesus Christ  

I am sure that many Masons believe in and are striving to follow Jesus Christ. However, this does not change the fact that the Lodge does not recognize Jesus Christ as the unique Son of God (John 3:16).

The evidence is found in the following quotation.  

“All believed in a future life, to be attained by purification and trials; in a state of successive states of reward and punishment; and in a Mediator or Redeemer, by whom the Evil Principle was to be overcome and the Supreme Deity reconciled to His creatures. The belief was general that He was to be born of a virgin and suffer a painful death. The Hindus called him Krishna; the Chinese, Kiountse; the Persians, Sosiosch; the Chaldeans, Dhovanai; the Egyptians, Horus; Plato, Love; the Scandinavians, Balder; the Christians, Jesus; Masons, Hiram.” (Kentucky Monitor, 14-15).  

Please notice: Jesus is not unique at all, according to the Lodge.

You can substitute anyone for Jesus; and according to the Kentucky Monitor, this is what Masons do with Hiram Abiff.  

Compromises Regarding Salvation  

The Bible teaches that salvation is only found through the good news of Jesus Christ (His death, burial, and resurrection-1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and that all the saved are in the church of God (Acts 2:47; 20:28; Ephesians 2:16). Simply put, there is only one way to be saved, and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). However, the Lodge teaches that a Mason may be eternally saved through the Masonic Lodge.  

“The Covering of a Lodge is the Clouded Canopy or Starry Decked Heavens, where all good Masons hope at last to arrive…” (West Virginia Monitor, 26).

“Lord of all! Below, above. Fill our hearts with truth and love; When dissolves our earthly tie, take us to Thy Lodge on high…Yet, O Lord! Have compassion on the children of Thy creation, administer them comfort in the time of trouble and save them with an everlasting salvation…” (West Virginia Monitor, 64-66).  

…”that so in old age, as Master Masons, we may enjoy the happy reflections consequent upon a well-spent life, and die in the hope of a glorious immortality.” (WV Monitor, 71).  

…”but the Master Mason is suddenly revived by the ever green and ever living Sprig of Faith in the merits of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, which strengthens him with confidence and composure to look forward to a glorious immortality beyond the grave. Then let us imitate our Most Excellent Grand Master in his virtuous and amiable conduct; in his unfeigned piety to God; in his inflexible fidelity to his trust; that we may welcome the grim tyrant Death, and receive him as a kind messenger sent from our Supreme Grand Master to translate us from this imperfect to that all perfect, glorious and celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe in his glory presides.” (WV Monitor, 81).  

Don’t buy into it!  

Compromises Regarding Oaths  

Jesus’ teaching is very simple regarding oaths.  

Matthew 5:37-“But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ ‘no’. For whatever is more then these is from the evil one.”  

Notice some of these Masonic oaths.  

“To all of which I do most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, without the least equivocations, mental reservation, or self-evasion of mind in me whatever; binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea at low water-mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours; so help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance”. (Entered Apprentice: 1st Degree).  

“…binding myself under no less penalty than to have my left breast torn open and my heart and vitals taken from thence and thrown over my left shoulder and carried into the valley of Jehosaphat, there to become a prey to the wild beasts of the field, and vulture of the air, if ever I should prove willfully guilty of violating any part of this my solemn oath or obligation of a Fellow Craft Mason; so help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same.” (Fellow Craft, 2nd Degree).  

“…bind myself under no less penalty than to have my body severed in two in the midst, and divided to the north and south, my bowels burnt to ashes in the center, and the ashes scattered before the four winds of heaven, that there might not the least track or trace of remembrance remain among me, or Masons, of so vile and perjured a wretch as I should be, were I ever to prove willfully guilty of violating any part of this my solemn oath or obligation of a Master Mason.” (Master Mason, 3rd Degree).  

“…and may ALLAH, the god of Arab, Moslem and Mohammedan, the god of our fathers, support me to the entire fulfillment of the same, Amen, Amen, Amen.” (Mystic Shrine).  

Friends, how can any person who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ make such an oath and pray to a false god? This is nothing short of a betrayal of Jesus Christ!  

These are some of the oaths of Freemasonry. It should be obvious to everyone that this is not in harmony with the teaching of Jesus (that our yes is to be yes, and our no is to be no).  

Compromises Regarding Honesty  

The Masonic Lodge is in the business of deception.  

“Masonry, like all the religions, all the Mysteries, Hermeticism, and Alchemy, conceals is secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages, or the Elect, and uses false explanations and misinterpretations of its symbols to mislead those who deserve only to be misled; to conceal the Truth, which it calls Light, from them, and to draw them away from it. Truth is not for those who are unworthy or unable to receive it, or would pervert it…The Teachers, even of Christianity, are, in general, the most ignorant of the true meaning of that which they teach. There is no book of which so little is known as the Bible. To most who read it, it is as incomprehensible as the Sohar. So Masonry jealously conceals its secrets, and intentionally leads conceited interpreters astray.” (Pike, Morals And Dogma, 104-105).  

Perhaps you are asking yourself, “Well, if this is true, why haven’t I heard any of it before? Why do so many Masons claim that these things aren’t true?” The answer is: the Masonic Lodge is actively involved in deceiving many of its’ members as well.

Hear Albert Pike again: 

“The Blue Degrees are but the outer court of portico of the Temple. Part of the symbols are displayed there to the Initiate, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations. It is not intended that he shall understand them, but it is intended that he shall imagine that he understands them.” (Pike, Morals And Dogma, 819).  

How can you trust the Lodge when it is so deceptive?  

Compromises Regarding Satan  

According to the Bible, Satan is the great enemy of God and mankind (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12) who is a created being who rebelled against God (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6-7).

However, the following words should shock any rational person.  

According to the Bible, Satan tempted Adam and Eve to sin by disobeying God n the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). However, Albert Pike tells us a different scenario in his book Morals and Dogma.  

“To prevent the light from escaping at once, the Demons forbade Adam to eat the fruit of “knowledge of good and evil,” by which he would have known the Empire of Light and that of Darkness. He obeyed; an Angel of Light induced him to transgress, and gave him the means of victory; but the Demons created Eve, who seduced him into an act of Sensualism, that enfeebled him, and bound him anew in the bonds of matter.” (Pike, 567).  

Friends, who was it who told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

It was God (Genesis 2:15-17).

Who was it who tempted them to eat it?

It was Satan (Genesis 3).

Notice how Pike has turned this around!

He tries to make God into Satan, and Satan into God!

Why would he do this, you wonder?

Let’s let him answer.  

“That which we must say to the crowd is-We worship a God, but it is the God that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the Brethren of the 32nd, 31st, and 30th degrees-The Masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the high degrees, maintained in the purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay (the Christian God) whose deeds prove his cruelty, perfidy, and hatred of man, barbarism and repulsion for science, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him? Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade-no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods: darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue and the brake to the locomotive. Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of God of light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity, the God of darkness and evil.” (Albert Pike, Instructions To The 23 Supreme Councils Of the World, recorded by A.C. De La Rive in “La Femme et ‘’ Enfant dans la Franc-Maconnerie Universelle” page 588).  

“When the Mason learns that the Key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of living power, he has learned the Mystery of his Craft. The seething energies of LUCIFER are in his hands and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply (this) energy.” (Manly P. Hall, Lost Keys Of Freemasonry, 48). 

Conclusion  

I hope that this brief review will be enough to show you that a Christian should not be a Mason. You do not need the Masonic Lodge for enlightenment or for anything that pertains to life and godliness; you need only Christ and His Word (2 Peter 1:3; Colossians 2:1-10).

If you are a Mason, I implore you with all of my energy to renounce Freemasonry and embrace Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 16:15-16; 1 John 1:7-10).  

In conclusion, I share this story as the testimony of one who left the Masonic Lodge in order to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Please understand that this man did not understand the plan of salvation correctly, and as such he uses some denominational slogans that are not accurate and scriptural.

However, his testimony is very powerful to the truth about Freemasonry.  

Testimony Of James Shaw  

“Dear Friend,  
Membership in the Masonic Lodge has in many cases become a family tradition, with young men often joining because their fathers and grandfathers belonged. Because of their admiration for certain friends or relatives, these men join the Lodge without hesitation, certain that the Order is based on noble aspirations. This was the case with me. From the time I was a little boy, my mother encouraged me to become a Mason some day like my uncle whom she greatly admired. Her impression of Freemasonry was that of a club where good men met to plan on helping those in need…Although I knew of many ministers and preachers who wee Masons, particularly those affiliated with the National Council of Churches, I had been trained by my father to stay away from churches. My stepfather said they were full of hypocrites and no one in his house was ever to go to a church. And here I was, with a doctor who was working on my eyes trying to read the Bible to me. On my job I began speaking with a few people who I knew to be Christians, and they also told me about Jesus. One went so far as telling me that no Christian should ever be a Mason. In the meantime, the doctor continued sharing with me while he was working on my eyes. I tried not to listen, but deep inside I knew he was right…I had been chosen to receive the 33rd degree Masons and was to report to Washington in one week to accept the honor…After I had received the 33rd degree along with my white hat and ring, we all had a big feast and drank wine. It was all so much fun. Yet throughout this time I kept thinking of some of the passages the doctor had read to me from the Bible. Soon after returning home I received a call from the Secretary of the Scottish Rite telling me to prepare for the upcoming Maundy Thursday services prior to Easter. I can tell you that the Lodges always make a mockery of Christian Holy Days. Now I was Master of all degree work and had to conduct the service. In the meantime my wife and I had begun attending church with the ophthalmologist. He was still helping me understand the Bible and did not like the idea of me being a Mason. He told me he didn’t think I understood just how evil the Lodge really was, and he urged me to read thoughtfully the books of John and Galatians…But to become fully convinced I had yet to go through the Maundy Thursday ritual itself. We were all in our places for the Maundy Thursday Rose Croix service to begin, each of us dressed in black robes. I stood and clapped my hands three times, and everyone rose to their feet. I began to speak, ‘My brothers, we meet this day to commemorate the death of our most wise and perfect Master-NOT as inspired or divine, but as at least the greatest of all humanity.’ At this point I had to stop for a moment to think about what I had just said. I was denying the fact that Christ was inspired or divine, saying he was merely a human master no greater than Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius or other religious figures. I felt a tear run down my face, but I had to go on. I walked ought to the menorah and lit a candle. The next speaker said his part and lit a candle on the menorah. All spoke and lit candles. I was feeling sad and bewildered, wondering how I could go on; but I did. We had the Black Mass, drinking wine from a skull and eating a piece of bread-passing it around the table-saying to each man, ‘Take, drink, and give to the thirsty. Take, eat, and give to the hungry.’ Then we all went back to our stations. As I got up, my knees were shaking. I knew what fear was, and I had never felt anything like this since being shot at in the Army. I stood and began to recite the closing words. “We now close this commemoration of the death of our master. MOURN!! LAMENT!! CRY ALOUD!! HE IS GONE!! NEVER TO RETURN!! MOURN!! LAMENT!!” The candles were extinguished one at a time. I closed the ceremony by saying, ‘It is over; we must depart.”….During my nineteen years as a Mason, I witnessed and participated in numerous disturbing events, but the single most important reason causing me to leave was the fact that Jesus Christ was not the one being worshipped. Many gods in the Scottish Rite are revered and many religions taught, but never is the Blessed Name of Jesus Christ allowed. One is not even allowed to close a prayer in the name of Jesus, but instead must a vague reference to God, which could mean anyone or anything. Teachings of the Kabbalah, Zend Avesta, and the Gnostics are used along with astrology and the doctrines of ancient false gods such as Osiris, Semiramis, Isis and Krishna. The Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are also given reference as deities. But whenever Christ was mentioned, it was only in the form of a mockery. For these reasons I left the Masonic Lodge. If you are currently a Mason, I urge you from the bottom of my heart to do likewise. It is the only right thing to do.  
In Christian Love,  
Jack Shaw”. (From Gary Kah, En Route To Global Occupation: A High ranking Goverment liaison Exposes The Secret Agenda For World Unification, pages 137-140; Noblesville, IN; Hope For The World)

The Magog War: Part One-The Time Of The War

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

In the Book of Ezekiel, there is a fascinating prophecy found which describes a coalition of nations which launch an all-out assault upon “Israel” during the “latter years.” This list of nations has a determination to defeat God’s people; and yet when the Lord Himself intervenes, they are stopped and destroyed.  

Who are the countries in this alliance?  
When are the “latter years” that the Prophet describes?  

How much of this passage is literal, and how much is figurative?  

What lessons can we learn from the Magog War?  

In this series of articles, we will carefully turn our attention to the Word of God to find answers to these (and other) questions.  

In this first article, we will notice what the Bible teaches us regarding WHEN the Magog war will take place.  

Let’s study.  

The Context Of The Prophet Ezekiel 
The Prophet Ezekiel was taken captive from the land of Israel in 597 B.C. The mighty nation of Babylon, in keeping with its’ practice of massive deportations learned from the preceding powerful Assyrian Empire, relocated many of their Jewish’ enemies to its’ homeland, where they could be policed and enslaved (Ezekiel 1:1-3).  

It was here, among these captive Jews, that the Lord commissioned Ezekiel to preach His Word.  

In the year 586 B.C., king Nebuchadnezzar would return to Jerusalem and destroy the temple of God. Using this event, we see that Ezekiel’s prophecies were divided up into the following pattern:

The Prophecies Which Were Made Before The Destruction Of The Temple (1-24)

The Prophecies Which Were Made Destruction The Destruction Of The Temple (25-32)

The Prophecies Which Were Made After The Destruction Of The Temple (33-48)

With these facts firmly in place, we will turn our attention to the question: When will this war take place?  

First: The Magog War Will Take Place After The Jews Return To Their Land

God had declared through Jeremiah the Prophet that the people would be in captivity for seventy years in Babylon:&nbsp

Jeremiah 29:10-For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.

Ezekiel 28:25-Thus says the Lord GOD: “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob.

Ezekiel 34:13-And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.

Ezekiel 36:24-For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.

This was fulfilled in the years 536, 457, and 444 B.C when Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah led the Jews back from Babylonian captivity.  

Second: The Magog War Will Happen After The Messiah Has Come And Is Reigning 

Ezekiel 34:11-31-The Bible here talks about the Lord being the Good Shepherd Who goes and finds the lost sheep. Jesus applies this title to Himself in John 10:1-30.  

Ezekiel 37:24-“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.

What does it mean that David will rule over them?  

The ancient Jews understood that the Messiah would be a descendant of king David.

Several Scriptures document this, and the Jewish sages long before the time of Christ. The famous scholar, John Kill, made the following comment on this passage: 

“The King Messiah, as Kimchi interprets it; and so Abarbinel (i) and others; being of the seed of David, and of whom David was an eminent type; and who, as Mediator, is the Lord’s servant, and as man appeared in the form of one: this shows that this prophecy looks further than the times of deliverance from the Babylonish captivity…”. (John Gill) 

Thus, “David” was a reference to the Messiah.  

Jesus came and He is now reigning (Matthew 28:18; Revelation 1:4-5).  

Third: The Magog War Will Happen After The Establishment Of The New Testament 

Several times throughout the OldTestament, we are told about the fact that God was going to make a New Covenant with His people. This Covenant would be different from the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  

Ezekiel talks a great deal about this New Covenant, and we see that it would be established before the events of chapters 38 and 39.  

Ezekiel 16:60-62-60 “Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you. 62 And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD,

Ezekiel 20:37-I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;

Ezekiel 34:25-“I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.

Ezekiel 37:26-Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.

The New Covenant was established when Jesus died on the cross of Calvary: 

Matthew 26:28-For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

This New Covenant is better then the Old in many ways: 

Hebrews 7:22-by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

Hebrews 8:6-But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.  

Fourth: The Magog War Will Happen After The People Repent And Are Forgiven By The Lord

Ezekiel tells us that the war of Magog would take place when the people of Israel repented of their sins.  

Ezekiel 36:32-33-32 Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” 33 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt.

Ezekiel 37:23-They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them.

Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

Furthermore, we are told these Jews who repented would be from all the nations of the world: 

Ezekiel 36:24-For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.

Notice the beginning of the fulfillment of this:

Acts 2:5-And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

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

Fifth: The Magog War Will Happen After The Holy Spirit Has Been Given To The People Of God

We are told about the fact that the Holy Spirit would be given to the people of Israel before the war of Magog.  

Ezekiel 36:27-I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Jesus prophesied about the giving of the Holy Spirit: 

John 7:38-39-38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  

The Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost: 

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Sixth: The Magog War Would Take Place In The “Latter Years” And The “Latter Days” 

We are assured that the Magog War will take place in what Ezekiel calls the “latter years” and the “latter days.”  

Ezekiel 38:8-After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.

Ezekiel 38:16-You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”

The phrase “the latter years” is only used here in the Bible (Ezekiel 38:8).  

However, the phrase “after days” (also “last days”) is used all throughout the Bible.

It often has reference to the Christian Age (which began at Pentecost and which will continue down through the Second Coming).  

Notice that in Acts 2, Peter takes the prophecy of Joel of the “latter days” and points out that it was beginning to be fulfilled in the first century: 

Acts 2:16-21-16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE LAST DAYS, SAYS GOD, THAT I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL FLESH; YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS. 18 AND ON MY MENSERVANTS AND ON MY MAIDSERVANTS I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT IN THOSE DAYS; AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY. 19 I WILL SHOW WONDERS IN HEAVEN ABOVE AND SIGNS IN THE EARTH BENEATH: BLOOD AND FIRE AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 20 THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE COMING OF THE GREAT AND AWESOME DAY OF THE LORD. 21 AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS THAT WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.’

The Apostle Paul also writes about the last days: 

Hebrews 1:1-2-1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 

Seventh: The Magog War Would Occur When Iran Is At Peace With Russia 

In the next article in this series, I will go into more detail about the identification of the nations here described. For now, I will simply point out that “Rosh” (Ezekiel 38:2) is most likely a reference to Russia, and Persia is a reference to Iran.

We are told:

Ezekiel 38:5-Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet;

Now, here is why that is significant: the Russians and Iranians have never had an alliance until the last few years!  

Eighth: The Magog War Would Occur When “Israel” Was In Peace And Secure In Her Land

The final clue to notice about when the war of Magog will happen when the people of Israel are secure in their land.

We read:

Ezekiel 38:11-You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’—

In our next article, we will talk more about the identity of “Israel” here.

However, i want to share this fact with you: if “Israel” here has reference to the literal Jewish people (i.e., the physical descendants of Abraham), then this prophecy would seem to still be in the future.  

One author has written: 

“Some argue that Israel is at rest and living securely today, and they believe this prophecy could be fulfilled at any time. They maintain that Israel is living in great prosperity and is enjoying security. While that is true to some degree, no matter how hard one might try to stretch the meaning of these words, Israel is not really at rest today. Today an armed truce and a no-man’s-land separate Israel from their enemies. At the time of this writing, Israel is an armed camp, living under a tenuous truce with only two of their Arab neighbors—Egypt and Jordan—and both of those agreements could be jeopardized at any time by current events in the Middle East. Their other neighbors would love nothing more than to drive every Israelite into the Mediterranean Sea and kill all of them. The reason that they do not is that, humanly speaking, Israel has a good army that is more than a match for its neighbors. Every young Israeli man is required to have three years of military training and every young woman, two years of military training. While the women are trained for jobs that are not necessarily combatant, they also learn to use weapons, so that if they need to fight, they can. After military training, many of them are settled in villages near the border, where they can serve a double purpose—following their civilian job, whatever it is, and serving as guards for the border of Israel. If the nations of Ezekiel 38–39 should invade the Middle East today, it would not fulfill this prophecy because Israel is not at rest. Israel’s current state of unrest does not correspond to Ezekiel’s prophecy.” (Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview Of Bible Prophecy And The End Of Days, 304 (Kindle Edition); Carol Stream, Illinois; Tyndale House Foundation)

Conclusion 

The Magog War will occur: 

After The Jews Were Returned To Their Land (Fulfilled) 

After The Messiah Has Come And Is Reigning (Fulfilled) 

After The New Testament Has Been Established (Fulfilled) 

After The People Had Repented And Would Be Forgiven (Fulfilled) 

After The Holy Spirit Had Been Given (Fulfilled) 

After The Time Of The Latter Days Had Begun (Fulfilled) 

After The Nations Of Russia And Iran Have Made Peace (Fulfilled) 

After The People Of Israel Are Living Peacefully And Securely In Their Land (Unfulfilled) 

Let me also make some other observations for you to consider.  

First, these subjects show us very clearly that God knows the future. He is God! He is all-knowing (1 John 3:20).  

Since we are so limited in our understanding, wouldn’t it be wise to turn to Him and allow Him to lead us? 

Knowing that God knows the future, shouldn’t we be making plans to get right with Him for whenever we do meet Him?  

Second, these examples of prophecy and fulfillment from Ezekiel demonstrate again the supernatural origin of the Bible.  
Friends, the Bible IS the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17)! It is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind, and it is what is needed to direct us (1 Corinthians 14:37; Jude 3; 1 Timothy 3:14-15).  

Recently, I was having a brief Bible discussion with a gentleman who wanted to know why we in the churches of Christ do not use instrumental music in our worship services to God.  

As we talked, he asked the question, “Well, who decides what we can and can’t do in worship?”  

My response was simple: “The Bible.”  

I don’t believe that sat well with him, just like it doesn’t set well with a lot of people. Yet the simple truth is: the Bible is the Word of God! Why call Jesus Lord if we are not going to do what He says to do (Luke 6:46)?  

We need to surrender ourselves to His Word and allow Him to lead us.  

Third, this study has demonstrated very clearly that when we are God’s people, we are going to have enemies.  

Not long ago, I was having a Bible study with a young man who asked why so many people do not like Christians. I told him that one reason (not the only one) is because people want to live in darkness and they do not like the Light.  

So, when they see and hear people who stand for the Word of Jesus (the Light of the World), they will often hate and persecute His light-bringers.  

Isn’t that what Jesus taught?  

John 3:19-And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 15:20-21-20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

Being a Christian will mean that we will have enemies. Yes, we strive to love them and pray for them and do good to them (Matthew 5:44-45), but make no mistake about it: people will often hate us for standing up for the Word of God.  

Yes, they will attack us.  

Yes, they will stand against us.  

Yet in the end, we are going to be victorious!  

Friends, Jesus Christ died for your sins on the Cross of Calvary because of the great love of God for mankind (1 Timothy 2:6). He wants you to be saved from Hell and to be with Him for eternity in Heaven (1 Timothy 2:4).

For you, He died, was buried, and arose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).  

He calls believers to repent and be baptized by the authority of Christ for the remission of their sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).  

Why not obey Him today?  

If you are an erring child of God, will you not today repent of your sin and confess it to the Lord in prayer as you return to Him and His church (1 John 1:8-2:2)?

Even now He is knocking and inviting you back to Him (Revelation 3:20).  

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

Did The Catholic Church Change The Sabbath?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Often when I study with friends of different religious persuasions, the claim is made that Christians are supposed to keep the Sabbath Day as a day of worship.

Many of my friends have held to beliefs such as this, and some have even been taught that worshiping on Sunday is the “mark of the beast!”  

Right along with this, it is claimed that the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and that the early Christians met together and worshiped on the Sabbath before then.  

What is the truth of the matter?  

When did the early Christians worship-on Saturday or Sunday? 

In the Bible, we find the answers.  

The Meeting At Troas

In the Book of Acts, we find the following information: 

Acts 20:7-Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

Notice several things with me about this passage.  

We are told about the fact that the disciples had come together. The words which Luke uses show that this was a common gathering. The Greek of the passage implies this was the case (the phrase “when we were gathered together” is in the perfect tense, suggesting this was their common practice that would be continuing).  

We also see that these Christians had come together for religious reasons.  

Three clues demonstrate this fact.  

The first is that this meeting was primarily about “breaking bread.” While this phrase sometimes had reference to a common meal, throughout Luke and Acts (as well as most of the rest of the New Testament), it usually denoted the Lord’s Supper:

Luke 22:19-And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Luke 24:30-Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 

Luke 24:35-And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

1 Corinthians 10:16-The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

It is also important to realize that the earliest translations of the New Testament from Greek into other languages show that this passage was undoubtedly understood to be a reference to the Lord’s Supper.  

For example, the Syriac translation renders this as “to break the Eucharist,” which was an ancient designation for the Communion. The Arabic renders this as “to distribute the body of Christ,” which, again, is a phrase used specifically to designate the Supper.  

Third, that this is a religious meeting is made clear by the fact that Paul preached to them. Preaching and expounding upon the Word of God was common practice in places of worship (Nehemiah 8:3; 9:3; 1 Timothy 2:12-14, especially verse eight, the phrase “everywhere” being a common Jewish expression that had the idea of “in every religious assembly”).  

The time of this assembly is also important to consider. We are told that it is upon the “first day of the week.”  

The Greek phrase used here is en de miāi tōn sabbatōn.  

The phrase has reference to that day which follows the Jewish Sabbath (or the seventh day of the week). Notice how this is made very clear in several passages of Scripture:

Matthew 28:1-Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

Mark 16:1-2-1  Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2  Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.

Luke 23:56-24:1-Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

Thus, the phrase en de miāi tōn sabbatōn is the day which we refer to as Sunday (the first day of the week, the day immediately following Saturday, or the Sabbath).  

Some people wonder whether Luke is recording based on Roman time or Jewish time.  

The Jews often reckoned a day as going from 6:00 pm to 6:00 pm (from sunset to sunset-see Genesis 1:5 for example), while the Romans reckoned days from midnight to midnight however.  

There is evidence in the New Testament that the Apostles used both Jewish and Roman reckoning of time, based on context. 

For example, John clearly uses the Roman method of time when he writes: 

John 20:19-Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

John identifies this day as the first day of the week, and includes the evening as being part of that “same” day, showing the Roman calendar.

Luke also refers several times to the Roman reckoning of time throughout the Book of Acts (cf. Acts 3:1; 4:3–5; 10:3, 23; 23:12, 31–32).  

Yet Luke also uses the Jewish calendar throughout the Book of Acts (e.g., references to Pentecost, the Sabbath, Passover, etc).  

The important thing to remember is that whether Luke is using the Jewish or the Roman calendar, the Christians were meeting on the first day of the week.  

Years ago, a preacher told me that this meeting was taking place on Saturday evening. He believed that the Jewish reckoning of time was being used in this passage, and a particular translation of the Bible he read had rendered this translation in similar fashion.  

I pointed out to him, “Friend, let’s say that this religious meeting was what we would call Saturday night. To the Jewish believers, it would have still been considered Sunday morning (since the new day was beginning at sunset).”  

Ken Johnson provides some excellent historical background regarding this and it’s use in Messianic Jewish assemblies today: 

“God gave Moses the ritual for the keeping of the Sabbath. This consisted of two parts : the general Sabbath ritual which was performed at the beginning of the Sabbath , Friday night, and the Havdala ritual which was performed at the end of the Sabbath , or Saturday night…At the end of every Sabbath and festival there is a ritual called the Havdalah . It closes out the holy time and prepares to return the worshipers to the world of the mundane. A Havdalah candle is a special candle made up of three separate candles braided together. It is called the torch [a] , or lapidot in Hebrew . It symbolizes the Messiah as the light of th e world and also picture s the trinity . In the Havdala h service those present f orm a circle . The priest circles the congregants, carrying the torch close enough to each person’s hand for them to feel the heat. In some messianic congre ga tions , Habakkuk 3:4 is read as each person raises his hands in the cohanim blessing (shown on the next page). His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, a nd there His power was hidden. Habakkuk 3:4 NKJV This blessing teaches that the Messiah ’s power to save us comes from the crucifixion , as graphically displayed by the light passing though each person’s fingers. T oday, t his reminds us of the w ounds in Messiah’s hands from the crucifixion. Following the passing of the torch, the Hamadvil prayer is lifted up. Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite , Elijah the Giladite , m ay he arrive quickly in our time with the Messiah , son of David . May He who separates betw een the sacred and the everyday forgive our sins; may He multiply our offspring and our money like the sand, and like the stars at night. A good week! Hamadvil…A t this point the Sabbath has officially ended and each individual lights their own candle. This is the setting for Acts 20 where the believers have gathered together for a Havdalah.” (Ken Johnson, Th.D., Ancient Messianic Festivals And The And The Prophecies They Reveal, 20, 26-28 (Kindle Edition)) 

In other words, even if these Christians were assembling on what WE would call Saturday night, to them it was Sunday, the first day of the week (the Sabbath having passed at sundown)!

Putting all of these facts together, what do we see from Acts 20:7?

First, the disciples were assembling together on Sunday (which was the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath).  

Second, this assembling together on Sunday was a common practice.  

Third, the Christians gathered together on Sunday especially for religious reasons (i.e., worship and edification).  

Fourth-and this is a very important point to consider-these assemblies were taking place with full Apostolic authority. Paul sanctioned these assemblies, and thus sets an example for Christians of all ages to gather together for worship and edification on Sunday.  

What About In The Second Century?

The writings of the second century Christians are very clear that the church gathered together and worshiped on Sunday, and did not assemble for worship on the Sabbath (although Christians could hold the Sabbath in private devotion if they so wished).  

“. . . no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day. (Ignatius (c. 105, E), 1.62) 

“Is there any other matter, my [Jewish] friends, in which we Christians are blamed, than this: that we do not live after the Law . . . and do not observe Sabbaths, as you do?” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.199.)

“There was no need of circumcision before Abraham. Nor was there need of the observance of Sabbaths, or of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses. Accordingly, there is no more need of them now.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.206.)

“If some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe the laws given by Moses, . . . yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, not inducing the Gentiles either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we should join ourselves with such persons.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.218). 

“Let the one who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, . . . prove to us that in times past righteous men kept the Sabbath, or practiced circumcision, and were thereby made “friends of God.” God created Adam uncircumcised and non-observant of the Sabbath. . . . Also, God freed from the deluge Noah, who was uncircumcised and did not observe the Sabbath. Enoch, too, He transported from this world, even though that most righteous man was uncircumcised and did not observe the Sabbath. . . . Melchizedek also, “the priest of the most high God,” although uncircumcised and not observing the Sabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God.” (Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.153)

“Just as the abolition of fleshly circumcision and of the old Law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary.” (Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.155.)

There are also numerous references to the Lord’s Day in the writings of the early Christians (cf. Revelation 1:10). This day was Sunday, the first day of the week.  

“But every Lord’s Day, gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, so that your sacrifice may be pure.” (Didache (c. 80–140, E), 7.381.)

“No longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day.” (Ignatius (c. 105, E), 1.62) 

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read. . . . But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God . . . made the world. And Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on that same day.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.186.)

“In fulfillment of the commandment according to the Gospel, a person keeps the Lord’s Day—when he abandons an evil disposition and assumes the disposition of the spiritual man, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.” (Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.545)

“Christ rose on the third day, which fell on the first day of the weeks of harvest, on which the Law prescribed that the priest should offer up the sheaf.” (Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.581)

“We devote Sunday to rejoicing for a far different reason than sun worship. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.31)

“Others . . . suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians . . . because we make Sunday a day of festivity.” (Terrullian (c. 197, W), 3.123.)

From these second century quotations, several things stand out.  

First, Christians gathered together on the first day of the week for worship. This was the custom in the churches, and this custom was easily traced back directly to the Apostles of Jesus.  

Second, the reasons for assembling on the first day of the week were understood mainly to be the fact that God started creating on the first day (Genesis 1:1), and because Jesus arose from the dead on that day.  

There are, of course, other reasons to worship on the first day of the week.  

It was on the first day of the week that the Holy Spirit was first given to God’s people (Acts 2:38). 

Sunday was the day when the church started (Acts 2:41-47-Leviticus 23:15-16 shows that Pentecost always fell on the first day of the week).  

The importance of Sunday was prophesied through the Old Testament (Psalm 118:24).

Further, the Lord continued meeting with His Apostles especially on the first day of the week after His Resurrection (John 20:26); 

It was on the first day of the week that the Lord’s message of salvation to all mankind first went forth (Acts 2:37-39).  

Third, the Christians referred to the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day.  

Fourth, the Christians understood that the Sabbath day was not a required holy day under the Christian Age, having been abolished along with the rest of the Old Testament when Jesus died on the cross.

Fifth, Christians could hold the Sabbath as a personal day of devotion if their conscience so demanded, but could not bind Sabbath keeping on other disciples (as Paul taught in Romans 14).  

Finally, please observe that all of this took place long before the formation of the Roman Catholic Church!!  

The theory that the pope changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday is simply not true.

From the writings of the Apostles and the early Christians, it is clear that the church assembled together on Sunday and believed that the Sabbath had been abolished when Jesus died on the cross.  

Wait…The Sabbath Was Abolished? 

In the Old Testament there are several references to the fact that God designed the Old Testament to be temporary.

Listen to the words of the Prophet Jeremiah: 

Jeremiah 31:31-34-31  “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—. 32  not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

This entire passage is quoted in Hebrews 8 by Paul. He points out that the Old Testament (including the Ten Commandments-Hebrews 9:1-5) has been removed and made obsolete. It has been replaced with the New Testament of Christ.  

Indeed, He takes away the first that He may establish the Second (Hebrews 10:9-10).

In the Old Testament, there are also specific prophecies which describe how God would one day remove the Sabbath from His people.  

Hosea 2:11-I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, Her New Moons, Her Sabbaths—All her appointed feasts.

God makes it clear in this passage that one day, He would cause all of the holy days of Israel (including the Sabbath) to come to an end. The text specifies that this would be when the people were married in faithfulness to the Lord (Hosea 2:16), which was a prophecy of the marriage of Christ to the church (Ephesians 5:22-33), which He established with His own blood when He died on the cross (Acts 20:28). This marriage takes place when we are baptized into Him (1 Peter 3:20-21).  

There is another powerful prophecy of the end of the Sabbath.  

In the eighth chapter of the Book of Amos, the Prophet is shown a vision of the end of Israel as God’s chosen people (Amos 8:2-3).

Included in the things which would be taken away are the Sabbaths and other holy days (Amos 8:5-8).  

When would this occur?

Amos 8:9-“And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight;

This was fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross: 

Matthew 27:45-Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.

On the day Jesus died, the nation of Israel was rejected as being God’s covenant people (Matthew 21:43-44; Romans 11:19-22). At the same time, the Old Testament was taken away (Ephesians 2:15).  

The Sabbath-along with the rest of the Old Covenant-was removed.  

The Statement Of Paul Regarding The End Of The Jewish Sabbath

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, there were many dangerous teachers going around and telling Christians that they had to keep the Old Testament Law to be saved. 

Listen to Paul’s direct statement regarding this: 

Colossians 2:16-17 (CEV)-16  Don’t let anyone tell you what you must eat or drink. Don’t let them say that you must celebrate the New Moon festival, the Sabbath, or any other festival. 17  These things are only a shadow of what was to come. But Christ is real!

The reason why Christians are not required to keep the Sabbath is because Jesus took the Old Testament away when He died on the cross (Colossians 2:14).  

Some may object that the “Sabbaths” here are not talking about the weekly Sabbath (I.e., Saturday). In fact, it is a common argument that the “Sabbaths” in this passage are talking about some other kind of Sabbath.

One former Seventh-Day Adventist carefully examined this argument.  

In the following lengthy quotation, he shows that the Sabbath in this passage may only refer to the weekly Sabbath: 

“With other Jewish ordinances, the Sabbath was blotted out and nailed to the cross; therefore no man is to judge us about keeping “the Sabbath days.” The statement is positive and plain. When I kept the seventh day this text always perplexed me as it does my Advent brethren now, say what they will. Paul directly names “the Sabbath” or “the Sabbath days,” for there is no difference, as among the shadows which have passed away. It is said by some that “the Sabbath days,” plural number, is not the same as “the Sabbath,” singular number, hence is not the weekly Sabbath. This is a groundless objection, for both the singular and the plural numbers are used indifferently for the weekly Sabbath. Thus Greenfield’s Greek N. T. Lexicon says: “Sabbaton. The Sabbath, . . . both in the singular and plural.” Bagster’s Greek Lexicon says: “The Jewish Sabbath both in the singular and plural.” So plain is this fact that even Elder Smith, Adventist, is compelled to admit it though he tries to save his theory by excepting Col. 2, and Acts 17: 2, but without reason. He says: “When it [Sabbaton] is used in the plural form [excepting Acts 17: 2 and Col. 2: 16], it means just the same as if it had been written in the singular.” Greek Falsehood, page 8. Col. 2: 16, is no exception to the rule. In Acts 17: 2, the word three is what marks the plural. The Revised Version properly renders Col. 2: 16, in the singular, thus: “Let no man therefore judge you in respect of a Sabbath day,” singular number. Sawyer’s translation says: “In respect to a feast, or new moon, or Sabbath,” singular. The Bible Union says: “Of a feast day, or of a new moon, or of a Sabbath,” singular. A few quotations will show that both the singular and plural numbers are used for the weekly Sabbath. “My Sabbaths [plural] shall ye keep for it [singular] is a sign between me and you.” Ex. 31: 13. This is the weekly Sabbath. “Keep my Sabbaths.” Lev. 19: 3. “Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord.” Lev. 23: 38. Adventists argue that this is the weekly Sabbath. “Blessed is the man that. . . keepeth the Sabbath,” “the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths.” Isa. 56: 3,4. Either singular or plural, no difference. “I gave them my Sabbaths to be a sign.” Ez. 20: 12. This is the weekly Sabbath, as Adventists well know. “On the Sabbath days [plural] the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath” [singular]. Matt. 12: 5. Here we have in the same verse both the plural and singular used for the weekly Sabbath. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days?” Matt. 12: 10. “Taught them on the Sabbath days.” Luke 4: 31. “Three Sabbath days reasoned with them.” Acts 17: 2. “Let no man therefore judge you. . . in respect of the Sabbath days.” Col. 2: 16. Who can read this list of texts and not be profoundly impressed that by “the Sabbath days” of Col. 2: 16 Paul means just what that language means in all the other cases? Of course he did, and no other reasonable application can be made of it. In the Greek, in which Paul wrote Col. 2: 16, he uses not only the same word which is always used for the weekly Sabbath, but exactly the same form of the word used in the fourth commandment itself! I will give the Greek word for “Sabbath days” in Col. 2: 16 and other texts where the same word and same form of the word, letter for letter, is used for the weekly Sabbath. Col. 2: 16. “Let no man judge you in respect to the Sabbath days,” Greek, σάββατον, genitive plural. Ex. 20: 8,10, fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day (Greek, σάββατον, genitive plural) to keep it holy.” “But the seventh day is the Sabbath [Greek, σάββατα Sabbate, accusative plural] of the Lord.” Here it will be seen that Paul uses the same Greek word, letter for letter, that is used in the decalogue. Hence he surely meant that very Sabbath day. Notice, further, that in each case in the fourth commandment where the word “Sabbath” occurs it is plural in the Greek. So if the use of the plural in Col. 2 shows any thing, it shows that the Sabbath of the decalogue is meant. Moreover, the Revised Version renders Ex. 20: 10, and Col. 2: 16, exactly alike. Thus: “The seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord.” “Let no man judge you in respect of ‘a Sabbath.’ ” Plainly, then, Col. 2: 16, refers to the Sabbath of Ex. 20: 8-11. Further, σάββατον, Sabbaton, genitive plural, the form of the word used in Col. 2: 16, is the one often used in other texts for the weekly Sabbath. Thus: Ex. 35: 3, “Kindle no fire. . . upon the Sabbath day,” σάββατον. Lev. 23: 38. “Besides the Sabbaths, σάββατον of the Lord.” Lev. 24: 8. “Every Sabbath σάββατον he shall set it in order.” Num. 15: 32. “Gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day, “σάββατον Numbers 28: 9. “On the Sabbath σάββατον day two lambs.” Deut. 5: 12. Fourth commandment again, “Keep the Sabbath σάββατον day.” Isa. 58: 13. “Turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, “σάββατον Matt. 28: 1. “In the end of the Sabbath, “σάββατον Luke 4: 16. “He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath σάββατον day.” Acts 13: 14. “Went into the synagogue on the Sabbath σάββατον day.” Col. 2: 16. “Let no man therefore judge you. . . in respect of the Sabbath σάββατον days.” Unless a man is blinded by a pet theory, he must see that Col. 2: 16 does surely mean the weekly Sabbath, as in all the other texts where the same word occurs. The only word ever used in the Bible, for the weekly Sabbath is the very one Paul did use, σάββατον, Sabbaton. So if he had meant to name that Sabbath, what else could he have said than just what he did say, the Sabbath days? Why, then, deny that he means just what he says when he could have said nothing else if he had meant the Sabbath? The word Sabbath occurs in the New Testament 60 times. Seventh-Day Adventists admit that in 59 out of these 60 cases it means the weekly Sabbath; but in the 60th case, where exactly the same word is used both in Greek and English, as we have seen, they say it must mean something else! Isn’t that remarkable? Hear them: “In the New Testament the Sabbath of the Lord is mentioned 59 times, and those local Sabbaths, which expired by limitation and ceased at the cross, are mentioned once.” Scripture References, p. 9. Strange that the Sabbath means the Sabbath 59 times and the 60th time it don’t! “Jewish feasts are often spoken of in the New Testament but, not one of them anywhere is called a Sabbath or credited with the nature of a Sabbath.” The Sabbath for Man, p. 544. “The feast days and new moons” of Col. 2: 16, include all the holy days of the Jews except the weekly Sabbath; hence there was nothing else left to which it could apply but that Sabbath. The entire list is given in Num. 28 and 29. But what settles it beyond a reasonable doubt that Col. 2: 16, does refer to the weekly Sabbaths is the fact that exactly the same list of holy days here given by Paul is given about a dozen times in the Old Testament, where we know it means the seventh day. Turn to Num. 28 and 29, and you have a detailed law as to just what offerings shall be made on each day of the whole year. The first were the daily offerings of “two lambs,” day by day, for a continual burnt offering. “The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at the even.” Verse 3 and 4. The second were the offerings on the sabbath. “And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot,” verse 9 and 10. None will deny that this was the weekly sabbath. Third, in the very next verse come the new moons. “And in the beginning of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the Lord,” verses 11-15. Fourth comes the annual feast days. “And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the Lord,” verse 16. Then follows a complete list of all the annual feast days, closing with these words, “These things shall ye do unto the Lord in your set feasts,” Num. 29: 39. Here we have the law for the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly offerings; or, those on each day, on the weekly sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the yearly feast days. Now read the following texts, and notice how this list of daily offerings, offerings on the sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts, as laid down in the law of Moses, is repeatedly referred to in almost exactly the words of Col. 2: 16. 1 Chron., 23: 30, 31: “To stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even; and to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them.” Here is a direct reference to the daily offerings, offerings on the weekly sabbaths, new moons and set feasts, just as ordered in Num. 28 and 29. Can any one doubt that “the sabbaths” here are the weekly sabbaths, the same as there? Certainly not. 2 Chron. 2: 4: “Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shew bread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening [daily], on the sabbaths [weekly], and on the new moons, [monthly], and on the solemn feasts [yearly] of the Lord.” Precisely the same list again, and in the same order, hence the weekly sabbaths are the ones named. Besides, it would be absurd to suppose that Solomon would name all the other and minor holy days, but say nothing about the chiefest of all days, the weekly sabbaths. Every candid man would admit that “the sabbaths” here are the weekly sabbaths, and so they are in all the passages which follow. 2 Chron. 8: 13: “Even after a certain rate every day [daily again], offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths [weekly], and on the new moons [monthly], and on the solemn feasts [yearly], three times in the year.” Same list and order as before. 2 Chron. 31: 3: “The morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the Lord.” The same list again, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly offerings, just in the order they would naturally come, and just as given “in the law of the Lord.” Num. 28 and 29. But if the sabbaths are not the weekly sabbaths, then the Lord names the daily, monthly and yearly offerings, but skips the weekly offerings. Every thinking man knows that such an interpretation is false. But it is the only way the sabbaths can be saved from Paul’s list, Col. 2: 16, for that is the same as all these. As the object in these passages is to mention the service of God which must be performed on each of the holy days, it would be absurd to suppose that all the other sacred days in the whole year would be carefully mentioned time and again, while no reference whatever it made to the weekly sabbaths, the most important and the most numerous of all the sacred days. Neh. 10: 33: “For the shew bread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new, moons, for the set feasts.” Same list again, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Either the weekly sabbaths are meant here, or else reference to the worship of God on the Sabbath is always studiously avoided, while all the rest is carefully mentioned. The evidence is too plain to mistake which. Ezek. 45: 17: “Offerings in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths.” Here are named exactly the same days that Paul gives in Col. 2: 16, and in the same order, yearly, monthly, weekly. Hosea 2: 11: “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” Same list of holy days that we have had over and over, where we know that sabbath meant the seventh day. Col. 2: 16: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, (Rev. Version), or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” Here, as before, are the yearly, monthly and weekly holy days just as laid down in the law where we know the weekly sabbaths are meant. It is evident that Paul had in his mind those lists of holy days so often given in the Old Testament, where the sabbath is included. The words “the sabbath days” would certainly embrace the weekly sabbaths unless they were especially named as excepted. But no such exception is made. Hence we must apply the term as it is used in the law, to the seventh day. Hosea 2: 11, is a plain prophecy that all these holy days should cease just as we know has happened in fact; and in Col. 2: 16, is proof that they were nailed to the cross.” (D.M. Canright, Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced, 3782-3883 (Kindle Edition) 

Conclusion

Friends, the Catholic Church did not change the Sabbath.  

The Sabbath day obligations (along with the rest of the Old Testament Law) were taken away by Christ and replaced with the New Testament.  

The Divine authority of the Apostles, along with the testimony of Christians hundreds of years before the rise of the Roman Catholic papacy, shows that the church met upon the first day of the week for worship and edification.  

The Sabbath (along with the rest of the Old Testament) was a shadow of what was to come to pass-and it has all been fully revealed and fulfilled in Christ.  

The God of Heaven loves us so very much that He gave His Son to die for us on the cross of Calvary (Matthew 20:28). The Law shows us our sin before God Romans 3:19-20), and because of this, we are justly condemned in His sight (2 Corinthians 3:2-17).  

But Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead three days later (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).  

He invites all believers to repent of their sins and to be baptized into Him, that they may enjoy His forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).  

Why not obey Him today? 

If you are a child of God who has turned your back on the Lord, why not today repent and confess your sin to Him in prayer (Acts 8:22)? He promises forgiveness and restoration (1 John 1:8-2:2.)!  

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

Ancient Roman Records And Jesus

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

We are often told that the New Testament Books are not credible in the history which they record, and that only a blind fool would accept what the Bible teaches.

Indeed, there are some today who maintain that Jesus Christ never existed, and that Christians should fall in line and accept what everyone knows-that even if Jesus existed, He certainly was not the Son of God.  

In the midst of such accusations against the teachings of the Bible and of the identity of Jesus Christ, I find it curious that many ancient Roman documents reference Jesus and provide impressive evidence of His Divine Nature.

Indeed, these documents contain powerful testimony to the fact that the early Christians claimed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (just as the Bible teaches, interestingly enough).  

Let’s study.  

In the early to mid second century, there was a Christian named Justin Martyr. He had previously been a pagan philosopher, and had become a follower of Jesus Christ after an in-depth study with an elderly Christian gentleman.

So persuaded was he of the truthfulness of Christianity that he began to preach and proclaim the Word of God to his contemporaries, even as he continued to learn more about the faith of which he was now an ardent disciple.

As the Roman Government continued its’ relentless persecution of Jesus’ church, Justin Martyr wrote his First Apology (or Defense, M.T.) to the Emperor of the Empire, Antonines Pius.

He sought to persuade the Emperor of the truthfulness of the claims of Christianity, and it is in his writings that we find the following statements by Justin:

“And after He was crucified they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” (First Apology, XXXV) 

“And that it was predicted that our Christ should heal all diseases and raise the dead, hear what was said. There are these words: “At His coming the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be clear speaking: the blind shall see, and the lepers shall be cleansed; and the dead shall rise, and walk about.” [99] And that He did those things, you can learn from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” (First Apology, XLVIII)

Please notice that Justin encouraged the Romans to carefully examine-not only the Prophets and the Memoirs of the Apostles (i.e., the Gospels)-but official Roman legal documents themselves which contained references to Jesus Christ.

While we do not have these documents in our day and age (having been lost to the wreck of ages), they at one time existed and were appealed to by early Christians as evidence of their faith in Jesus Christ.  

Another second-century Christian named Tertullian also encouraged the magistrates who opposed Christianity to carefully study the official historical records of the Roman Empire for confirmation of what the church taught regarding Jesus Christ.

Speaking of the brutal scourging and trial of Jesus under the supervision of Pontius Pilate, Tertullian writes: 

“All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Cæsar, who was at the time Tiberius.”. (First Apology Of Tertullian, 717 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY: Scriptura Press) 

Indeed, there are other passages in which Tertullian encourages his readers to consult the “records” or “annals” of the Roman Empire to help provide evidence for his case.  

Regarding the existence and authenticity of these documents, along with the profound impact which they had in the ancient world upon even the Roman authorities, scholar Bill Cooper has powerfully written: 

“The chances of a local rumour doing the rounds in Jerusalem reaching the emperor’s ears back in Rome are extremely slight. To reach the emperor at all, the rumour would have to hitch a ride to Rome on the back of an official communication, and there is good evidence indeed that just such a communication was sent from Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius about the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord. While that is not something that the critics would like to hear, it is important enough for us to consider just what this evidence is. We need firstly to bear in mind the fact that such a communication – an update on events in the province of Judaea – would be nothing extraordinary. Such communications were an expected and everyday occurrence, and woe betide the governor who neglected to send them. At the least, dereliction, treasonous thoughts or sabotage would be suspected. Nevertheless, this report must have been something special, because it seems to have had a profound effect on Tiberius himself who received it, Tiberius putting a motion to the Senate to have this Jesus added to the gods of Rome. Happily, the Senate declined the invitation because they’d hitherto heard nothing about this Man….Now, just who was Tertullian writing to? Was it a friend or colleague? – a sympathiser of the Christians perhaps? No, by no means. He was writing to the magistrates of Carthage, to the very men who were then persecuting the Christians. To invite them to consult the state archives to test the truth of what he was saying was a brave move and a foolish one if the annals had not existed, or had told a story contrary to his own….Again the invitation to consult the state archives. Who was Justin writing to? none other than the emperor of Rome at that time, Antoninus Pius, his sons, and the Senate of Rome. That again is quite a readership, and Justin would have been the most foolish man on earth to invite a hostile emperor to consult the archives on Pontius Pilate if those records had not been there to consult. Moreover, those archives must have held papers on the Crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent Resurrection, including a report on the rumour that Matthew records about the disciples being thought to have stolen His body. It’s a wonder that the critics forget to mention these things. But there’s more….In other words, what we have just read about the report from Pilate in Justin, Tertullian and Eusebius, would not be there for us to read unless that report had at one time existed, and had been available in the state archives for others to consult some two hundred years or more afterwards. It is as simple and as straightforward as that. The critics can howl that it isn’t true till they’re blue in the face if they wish, but eggs is eggs, and facts are facts are facts!”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: Part One-The Gospels,1272-1319 (Kindle Edition)) 

Notice several things with me.  
First, ancient Roman documents and sources confirm that Jesus Christ lived and died.

The claims that Jesus never existed are absurd.  

Second, these ancient Roman documents confirm that Jesus Christ was of great political interest in the Roman Empire.

He made a great stir in the world, just as the New Testament affirms.  

Third, the miracles of Jesus were documented-not only by the New Testament writers and hundreds of eyewitnesses in ancient Palestine and Judea-but even among the Roman authorities themselves.  

Fourth, the scourging, Crucifixion, and claims of the resurrection of Christ were all well attested.  

Fifth, the teaching of the Deity (Godhood) of Jesus Christ was not the invention of a church counsel hundreds of years after the first century, but was instead well-known as a teaching of the Apostles of Christ in the ancient Roman Empire.  

In all of these ways, ancient Roman documents confirm the credibility of the New Testament Scriptures.

Indeed, they corroborate in amazing ways the credibility of the entire Bible.  

Why not today make the decision to build your life on the tried and true foundation of the Word of God?  

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, died on the Cross of Calvary to pay the price for our sins (Isaiah 53). He died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

With His blood, Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18), to which He adds the saved (Acts 2:47; 20:28) when they obey His plan of redemption (Acts 2:36-41; Romans 6:17-18).

Why not today be saved from your sins?

Having heard the Word of God (Romans 10:17), will you not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 16:31), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus Christ as God’s Son (Acts 8;37), and be buried with Christ in baptism to have your sins washed away and to begin living for Him, being faithful unto death (Romans 6:3-4; Revelation 2:10)?  

If you have become a Christian and have turned away from the Lord, why not today repent of that sin and pray to Him for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?  

The churches of Christ stand 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.  

Job And The Afterlife: The Descent Of Christ Into Hades #5-1 Peter 4:6 (Part Two)

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Quotation For Contemplation 

“If in this life there are so many ways for purification and repentance, how much more should there be after death! The purification of souls, when separated from the body, will be easier. We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer; to redeem, to rescue, to discipline, is his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life.” (Clement of Alexandria)

Introduction

In our study of Christ’s Descent Into Hades from 1 Peter, we have seen that Peter teaches that when Jesus died He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

This preaching took place between His death and resurrection, while His body was in the tomb and His Spirit went into Hades.

This of course beautifully harmonizes with what the Apostle Paul taught in Ephesians 4:8-10.  

In this final study of Christ’s Descent Into Hades, we will notice another passage from 1 Peter 4:6 which may have reference to His Descent.  

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

Three Interpretations Of The Text 

Through the years, there have been three interpretations of this passage.

Let’s notice all three of these interpretations, examining the strengths and weaknesses of each of these positions.  

Interpretation One: The Spiritually Dead Who Are Now Spiritually And Physically Alive 

The first view of this passage suggests that the ones whom Peter speaks of are those who were at one time spiritually dead but are now spiritually alive.

The proponents of this view would claim that the persons who were thus saved in this passage were spiritually dead because of sin, and hence were made spiritually alive by the Gospel of Christ.  

There is much to commend for this view.

First, it acknowledges the Bible teaching that accountable sinners are dead in sin before the Word of God begins to work in them.

At that point, they begin to pass from death to life, culminating in the new birth of baptism (Romans 6:3-4; John 3:5).  

Ephesians 2:1-And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

Ephesians 2:5-even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Luke 15:24-for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:32-It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’

1 Timothy 5:6-But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.

1 John 3:14-We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.  

Second, this view honors the limited context of 1 Peter 4:1-5 in regards to the spiritual death and spiritual life.

Notice:

1 Peter 4:1-5-1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Notice that Peter talks about how the brethren had passed from their spiritual lives of sin and wickedness to their new spiritual life of being in Christ.

As a result, their friends who were once living in sin with them will now think that it is strange that their former associates are now no longer “sowing their wild oats” as they once had.

It is in this context that Peter points out that Christ will one day judge “the living and the dead,” and that the “dead” were the ones who had the Gospel preached to them.

Gareth Reese has well written on this passage: 

“Literally, even to dead (ones)’. In this writer’s opinion, certain principles of interpretation should be followed. One, it would seem probable that the ‘dead’ in both verses 5 and 6 refer to the same ‘dead ones.’ If one is physically dead, so is the other. If one is spiritually dead, so is the other. Two, it would seem that they were ‘dead’ (whatever that means) at the same time the gospel was preached to them. with these principles in mind, let us study the leading interpretations that have been offered for this verse…(2). The ‘dead’ are the ‘spiritually dead.’ Since Pentecost, and even in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, the Gospel has been preached so people could become spiritually alive (even though this means they may be criticized by their old cronies with whom they run). This interpretation is the one the writers of these notes prefers, thought it is not totally free from difficulties.” (Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On 1 & 2 Peter & Jude, 106 (Kindle Edition); Moberly, Missouri; Scripture Exposition Books) 

Finally, this interpretation honors the immediate context in regard to the “judging” that takes place.

Please observe that Peter points out that the unsaved friends of the new Christians are perplexed at their friends’ new behavior as children of God.

In a matter of speaking, the new Christians are being “judged according to men in the flesh” (1 Peter 4:6) while their old friends are “speaking evil” of them (1 Peter 4:4).

While there is much to commend for this view, there are some weaknesses that should be observed.  

First, while this interpretation notices the connection to the immediate context (1 Peter 4:1-5), it does not account accurately for the larger context (1 Peter 3:18-22).

In fact, it is inconceivable that Peter was not drawing a connection between these two passages. Simply consider the parallels:

Death 

Life

In The Spirit

Through The Gospel 

William Barclay’s comments on this passage are insightful: 

“THIS very difficult passage ends with a very difficult verse. Once again, we have the idea of the gospel being preached to the dead. At least three different meanings have been attached to dead. (1) It has been taken to mean those who are dead in sin, not those who are physically dead. (2) It has been taken to mean those who died before the second coming of Christ, but who heard the gospel before they died and so will not miss the glory. (3) It has been taken to mean quite simply all the dead. There can be little doubt that this third meaning is correct; Peter has just been talking about the descent of Christ to the place of the dead, and here he comes back to the idea of Christ preaching to the dead. No fully satisfactory meaning has ever been found for this verse; but we think that the best explanation is as follows. For mortals, death is the penalty of sin. As Paul wrote: ‘Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned’ (Romans 5:12). Had there been no sin, there would have been no death, and therefore death in itself is a judgment. So, Peter says, all people have already been judged when they die; in spite of that, Christ descended to the world of the dead and preached the gospel there, giving them another chance to live in the Spirit of God. In some ways, this is one of the most wonderful verses in the Bible –for, if our explanation is anywhere near the truth, it gives a breathtaking glimpse of a gospel of a second chance.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters Of James And Peter, 287 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press) 

Second, this view faces the challenge that Peter is speaking of “antitypes” all throughout the context (1 Peter 3:21).

Thus, even if the surface reading supports the idea that the “dead” here is a reference to those who are spiritually dead, it is very possible (indeed, likely) that there is still a secondary meaning to the passage which refers back to what Peter says Jesus did between His death and resurrection (1 Peter 3:18-22).  

Finally, there is the difficulty that the early Christians supported both of these viewpoints.  

Interpretation Two: The Physically Dead Who Died While Spiritually Alive 

A second interpretation of the passage is expressed in the belief that these Christians are people who had been put to death physically (for their faithfulness to Jesus and preaching and teaching the Gospel).

As a result of their faithfulness to the Gospel, they now live spiritually with the Lord.  

There are several things to commend about this view.  

First, this view freely harmonizes with the overall context of 1 Peter regarding Christians who suffer for the faith. For example:

1 Peter 1:6-In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,

1 Peter 2:4-5-4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:12-having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

1 Peter 3:14-But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “AND DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR THREATS, NOR BE TROUBLED.”

1 Peter 4:12-Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

There are indications from the passage that the suffering of these Christians was already underway, and that it would only intensify.

As such, this viewpoint honors the overall context of the Book of 1 Peter.  

Second, this interpretation does indeed it in with the immediate context of the Christians being persecuted by former friends.  

However, this view has the same weaknesses as the ones mentioned in Interpretation One (listed above).  

Interpretation Three: The Spiritually And Physically Dead Who Became Spiritually Alive After Death 

This interpretation suggests that there is a connection between the preaching of Christ to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:18-22), and the preaching of this passage.

There are several things to commend for this view.  

First, the context itself is one of the most powerful indicators pointing to this view.

Within virtually a few lines of Peter’s teaching regarding Christ’s Descent to Hades and His preaching, we find a reference to the preaching of the Gospel to the dead.

The contextual immediacy of 1 Peter 3:18-22 with 1 Peter 4:6 is a powerful indicator that these two passages are intertwined.  

Second, the parallels in the structure of 1 Peter 3:18-22 with 1 Peter 4:6 argues for a connection between the thought of these passages.

Notice:

1 Peter 3:18-22. 

Death

Life

Through The Spirit

Preaching

1 Peter 4:6

Death

Life

Through The Spirit

Preaching

Third, there is another important factor to consider factor to consider in regards to this interpretation of 1 Peter 4:6 and the overall context.  

Peter makes it clear that the “preaching” that was done in both instances resulted in an opportunity to teach and convert the ones who were preached to.

Indeed, this is one of the reasons why Peter says that we should strive to maintain a godly attitude when we are persecuted, in the hopes that we will be able to teach our persecutors the way of Christ (1 Peter 3:14-15).  

Notice:

1 Peter 2:12-having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Peter says we should hope that our enemies will “glorify God” when they observe our Christian conduct in the face of persecution and hardship.

Now, what does the phrase ‘glorify God” have reference to?

“The reference to glorifying God suggests that the salvation of Gentiles is in view.27 Typically in the New Testament people glorify God or give him glory by believing (cf. Acts 13:48; Rom 4:20; 15:7,9; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:6,12,14; 2 Thess 3:1; Rev 5:12–13)….We see the same contrast in Revelation between those who believe and glorify God (Rev 11:13) and those who refuse to repent and do not honor him (Rev 16:9). Peter exhorted believers to live noble lives because in doing so unbelievers will see their good works. Because they observe such works, some unbelievers will repent and believe and therefore give glory to God on the last day.28 The use of the participle “see” (from the verb epopteu) also suggests that salvation is in view, for the same term is used in 1 Pet 3:2, where the submission of wives is intended to lead to the salvation of unbelieving husbands. Peter was confident that some unbelievers will be saved when they notice the godliness of believers. The unbelievers may revile Christians, but as they notice the goodness in their lives, some will repent and be saved, and as a result of their salvation God will be glorified.” (Thomas R. Schreiner, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical And Theological Exposition Of Holy Scripture-1, 2 Peter, Jude-Volume 27, 124 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group). 

So, Peter make a connection between our suffering as God’s people and trying to reach the lost with the Gospel.

Who is the ultimate Example in this regard?

It is Jesus, by Whose suffering and death we have been redeemed (1 Peter 1:22-25).  

With this in mind, we see a connection between the suffering and death of Christ, resulting in preaching the Gospel to the lost (wherever they may be-even in Sheol), with hope in their redemption.  

Finally, this interpretation makes much sense of the verses between 1 Peter 3:18-22 and 1 Peter 4:6.

The intertwining verses detail how we must be willing to suffer for the Lord, just as He suffered for us.

It will mean that people will turn against us, despise us, and hate us; but we have the higher goal of their salvation in mind in that we strive to teach and preach the Word of God to them in our suffering, in the hopes that they will be prepared for the Day of Judgment (1 Peter 4:5).

Indeed, it was this very same reason that the Gospel was preached to the dead (1 Peter 3:18-22) as well as to the living (1 Peter 4:1-4): in order to try and prepare everyone for the Day of Judgment.  

While this interpretation has much to commend for it, there has been two strong objections offered.  

Usually commentators object to this interpretation because there is the fact that the immediate context (1 Peter 4:1-4) argues for an interpretation of “spiritually” dead people and not “physically” dead people (as noted above).

As such, it is suggested that the “dead” in this passage must have reference to those who are physically alive and not spiritually dead.  

To this, it should be pointed out that the larger context argues for those who are both physically dead and spiritually dead.

As Peter discusses (1 Peter 3:18-22), and as Paul likewise confirmed (Ephesians 4:8-10), Jesus indeed went and preached to the dead in Sheol (and not just to the saved-but, as Paul’s quote from Psalm 68:18 shows, the preaching was especially to the unsaved dead, probably encompassing both unsaved humanity and the fallen angels).  

Second, it has been argued that the word “preached” that is used in 1 Peter 3:18-22 is different from the word that is translated as “preached” in 1 Peter 4:6.

In 1 Peter 3:19, Peter uses the Greek word kerusso, and in 1 Peter 4:6 he uses the word euaggelizō.

It is sometimes argued that these two different words imply that the ones in 1 Peter 3:18-22 were not extended an offer of salvation, but were instead told that they were going to be dammed forever in Hell at the Second Coming; whereas in 1 Peter 4:6, the word implies that the ones who thus received the “preaching” would be saved forever in Heaven because they responded to the Gospel while they were physically alive.

In explaining the differences between these two words, Mounce has well written:

“Verb: (euangeliz), GK 2294 (S 2097), 54x. Generally, euangeliz means simply “to bring a message, announce good news” (1 Thess. 3:6, Rev. 10:7). However, the word is used primarily in the specialized sense of preaching the gospel, that is, God’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ (Lk. 1:19, 20; 9:6; 20:1; Acts 5:42; 8:4, 25, 35; 10:36; 11:20; 13:32; 17:18; Gal. 1:16). Reflecting this usage, euangeliz is often translated “to preach the gospel” or “to preach the good news” (our word “evangelize” comes from this word). It differs from keryss (“to preach, proclaim”) in that the latter emphasizes the act of proclamation while euangeliz stresses the content of what is proclaimed….Verb: (kryss), GK 3062 (S 2784), 61x. kryss means to “preach, proclaim, tell, announce a message.” In the NT it is used primarily with two objects: the gospel (Mt. 4:23; 24:14; Mk. 1:14; 16:15; Gal. 2:2; 1 Thess. 2:9) and (Jesus) Christ (Acts 8:5; 1 Cor. 1 19; 15:12; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 1:15). Including these cases, almost all of its occurrences refer to the proclamation of the Christian message (see Mt. 3:1; Mk. 6:12; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Pet. 3:19). Elsewhere it occurs with such objects as the message of John the Baptist (Lk. 3:3; Jn. 3:1; Acts 10:37), the proclamation by Jews of the law of Moses (Acts 15:21; Rom. 2:21), a message in contrast to the gospel (Gal. 5:11), and an angel declaring the worth and deeds of Jesus in heaven (Rev. 5:2).” (William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 21360-21376 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan). 

Mounce makes it clear that he rejects the idea that 1 Peter 3:18-22 refers to a ‘second chance’ for those who were dead.

He does not argue from the meaning of the words, however; he argues that “this interpretation goes contrary to the entire NT message.” (Mounce, 21376).

If a case could be made that kerusso precluded the idea of people being saved through the preaching of the Gospel, Mounce would be the one to make it; yet it cannot be done.

Several passages in the New Testament connect kerusso with people being saved (as Mounce himself demonstrates clearly).  

Possibly All Three Views Are Correct 

There is certainly evidence that Peter is tying together all three of these interpretations in the passage before us.

First, all three views herein expressed are consistent with the overall context of 1 Peter.  

Second, the general themes of the entire Book of 1 Peter could harmonize with all three interpretations that we have studied from 1 Peter 4:6.  

Third, the fact that Peter uses the word “antitype” (1 Peter 3:21) shows that the Apostle could be tying together several different ideas and concepts.  

Finally, the “church fathers” understood all three of these views as being true.

Notice a sampling of testimony from the early second century Christians:

“Those who abandon their faith in this life are judged according to the above judgments, so that they might repent. This is why Peter adds “so that in the spirit they might live as God lives.” Adumbrations.” [Clement of Alexandria, FGNK 3:82.]

“The gospel is preached to the Gentiles who are dead in sin, but this may also refer to the fact that when the Lord was buried in the tomb he went to preach to those who live in hell.” (Hilary of Arles, Introductory Commentary on 1 Peter, [PL Supp. 3:101.])

“Here Peter uses “dead” to refer to the Gentiles, who are dead because of their insurmountable sins and whom he wants to see turn to Christ. Such sinners, after they accept his commandments, judge themselves in the flesh according to their human understanding, by mortifying it in fasting, prostrations, tears and other forms of suffering. They do this in order that they may live in the spirit as God wants them to, being inspired by the word of the apostle Paul, who said: “If our outer man is being destroyed, our inner man is being renewed day by day.” [2Co 4:16.]”. (Andreas, Catena. [CEC 74.]

“So great is God’s concern, so great is his love, so great is his desire that we should be dead to the flesh but alive in the Spirit, that he even decided to preach the message of faith to those who had committed major crimes and who deserved to be put to death for their licentiousness, their lust, their violence, their gluttony, their drunkenness and their illicit worship of idols”. (Bede, On 1 Peter. [PL 93:62.]

“This means that those who are now attacking believers will have to give account of themselves to him who judges everyone, both living and dead, for the dead are also judged, as is clear from Christ’s descent into hell. For when he went there after his death on the cross he preached in the same way as he had preached to those who were alive on earth. Moreover, he did this not in word but in deed. And just as when he came into the world in order to justify those who were ready to acknowledge him and to condemn those who refused to do so, so he did exactly the same in hell. For he went to judge those who had lived according to the flesh, but those who had lived according to the Spirit, that is, who had lived an honest and spiritual life, he raised to glory and salvation.” (Oecumenius, Commentary on 1 Peter. [PG 119:561.]

“It was the habit of the Fathers to take this verse completely out of context. They therefore said that the word dead has two different meanings in Scripture, referring either to those who are dead in their sins and who never lived at all or to those who have been made conformable to the death of Christ, as Paul said: “The life that I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God.” [Gal 2:20.] But if they had paid the slightest attention to the context, they would have seen that here the “dead” are those who have been shut up in hell, to whom Christ went to preach after his death on the cross. (Theophylact, Commentary on 1 Peter. [PG 125:1237-40.]

Final Thoughts

As we conclude our study of Christ’s Descent Into Hades, let me also point out that there are several other passages of Scripture which the early Christians believed taught the Descent.

They are here provided for the student to continue his studies: Psalm 49:15; 68:18; 69:33; 86:13; 107:16; Isaiah 9:2; 45:2-3; 49:9, 25; Zechariah 9:11-12; Matthew 12:32; John 5:25.  

Certainly there is enough evidence from Scripture to conclude that Jesus indeed went and preached to the spirits in the prison of Hades between His death and resurrection.

However, there are still many questions that we are left with, to which we may find answers from further study (1 Peter 2:1-3; Acts 17:11).  

In the conclusion of our studies on this topic, I would suggest that one thing is crystal clear: what Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary transcends more then we can ever imagine.

The love of God reaches out to mankind, descending to our deepest hells (literally and figuratively), and this love demands a response from us.  

To those who are not saved: the death of Christ, His burial, and resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) beckons us to come to Him TODAY to be saved (Acts 2:37-38).  

2 Corinthians 6:2-For He says: “IN AN ACCEPTABLE TIME I HAVE HEARD YOU, AND IN THE DAY OF SALVATION I HAVE HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

To erring Christians: the Gospel calls upon you to return to the Lord in repentance and prayer (1 John 1:8-2:2; Revelation 3:20).

To faithful children of God: the Lord calls us to be faithful to Him in preaching and teaching the Gospel to the lost (Mark 16:15-16), with the full assurance that He Who conquered death and Hades will one Day return for His people (John 14:1-3).  

Revelation 1:18-I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.  

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 #4 1 Peter 3:18-22 (Part One)

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Quotation For Contemplation 

Ezekiel 18:23-Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

In our studies of Ephesians 4:8-10, we have learned that Jesus descended to Sheol between the time of His death and resurrection.

While Paul gives us some insights into what Jesus accomplished in that journey, the Apostle Peter provides further clarification.  

1 Peter 3:18-22-18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.
Let’s notice several different translations of this passage.  

1 Peter 3:18-22 (Bible In Basic English)-18 Because Christ once went through pain for sins, the upright one taking the place of sinners, so that through him we might come back to God; being put to death in the flesh, but given life in the Spirit; 19 By whom he went to the spirits in prison, preaching to those. 20 Who, in the days of Noah, went against God’s orders; but God in his mercy kept back the punishment, while Noah got ready the ark, in which a small number, that is to say eight persons, got salvation through water: 21 And baptism, of which this is an image, now gives you salvation, not by washing clean the flesh, but by making you free from the sense of sin before God, through the coming again of Jesus Christ from the dead; 22 Who has gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been put under his rule.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (ERV)-18 Christ himself suffered when he died for you, and with that one death he paid for your sins. He was not guilty, but he died for people who are guilty. He did this to bring all of you to God. In his physical form he was killed, but he was made alive by the Spirit. 19 And by the Spirit he went and preached to the spirits in prison. 20 Those were the spirits who refused to obey God long ago in the time of Noah. God was waiting patiently for people while Noah was building the big boat. And only a few—eight in all—were saved in the boat through the floodwater. 21 And that water is like baptism, which now saves you. Baptism is not the washing of dirt from the body. It is asking God for a clean conscience. It saves you because Jesus Christ was raised from death. 22 Now he has gone into heaven. He is at God’s right side and rules over angels, authorities, and powers.

Question One: What Are The Main Thoughts Of The Passage?

Answer: The main thoughts of the passage focus on teaching Christians the benefits that may arise from suffering for the Lord, with Jesus as the main Example.  

Notice several general themes of the passage that Peter mentions.  

First, Jesus’ suffering and death led to ultimate an ultimately higher good: the salvation of His people. He was innocent, yet God worked through His suffering to accomplish great things.  

Second, even though Jesus was dead physically, He was alive spiritually.  

Third, by the Spirit Jesus preached to the spirits in prison.  

Fourth, some of the spirits that Jesus preached to were the ones who had rebelled against God in the days of Noah.  

Fifth, during the time of the Flood, the Noah and his family (who were also righteous sufferers) were saved in the Ark through the waters of the Flood.  

Sixth, the deliverance of Noah and his family through the water was a foreshadowing of how baptism would one day save penitent sinners.  

Seventh, this salvation is made possible because of the righteous death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Eighth, the Lord’s suffering led to His ultimate triumph and exaltation, with the angels and principalities and powers being made subject to Him.  

Question Two: What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Suffering That Peter Elaborates On In 1 Peter? 

Answer: There are several benefits of suffering for the Lord which are listed throughout 1 Peter.  

To understand what Peter is teaching us about Christ and His preaching to the spirits in prison, we need to realize the important context of “suffering” throughout the Book.

When Peter wrote this Epistle, the Christians were facing lots of persecutions from unbelievers.  

In order to demonstrate the ways that God can use suffering to lead to higher good, Peter lists several of the benefits of suffering which may arise.  

Suffering can help to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith, and this will lead to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus returns (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Suffering that we endure can lead to the conversion of sinners when they witness how Christians face the trials of life and persecution (1 Peter 2:12).  

Suffering enables Christians to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and allows us to learn to trust in God as He did (1 Peter 2:21-25).

Suffering for the sake of righteousness will lead to God blessing us (1 Peter 3:14).

Suffering for the Lord in the face of hostile neighbors can lead to opportunity to teach God’s Word to our enemies so that they may hopefully be “ashamed” and saved (1 Peter 3:15-16).  

Suffering for Christ will lead us to rejoice in the good that God is going to bring (1 Peter 4:12-13).  

Suffering for the Lord will lead to a greater display of the Holy Spirit in our lives (1 Peter 4:14).  

Suffering helps us to learn to be humble and to cast all of our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:6-7).  

Suffering for the Lord reminds us of the bond and fellowship that we have with other Christians around the world (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Suffering for the cause of Christ will help to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle us (1 Peter 5:10).  

In demonstrating the ultimate good that God can bring through suffering, Peter repeatedly emphasizes Jesus as our Example.

1 Peter 1:10-11 (CEV)-10 Some prophets told how kind God would be to you, and they searched hard to find out more about the way you would be saved. 11 The Spirit of Christ was in them and was telling them how Christ would suffer and would then be given great honor. So they searched to find out exactly who Christ would be and when this would happen.  

1 Peter 2:21-25-21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 3:18-22-18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

Jesus is set forth as the ultimate Example for us. His suffering demonstrates that God can bring great good through the most terrible trials.  

Question Three: Who Are The “Spirits” That Are In Prison? 

Answer: Either the wicked antediluvians, the fallen angels of Genesis 6, or all of the above.  

The text identifies the “spirits” as the ones being present in Noah’s age.

In context, the “spirits” could be referring to the people who rejected the preaching of Moses before the Flood, or it could be a reference to the fallen angels who are kept in Hades.

Let’s look at both possibilities separately.

The Wicked Antediluvians 

The first possible reference is to the wicked people who rejected Noah’s teaching and preaching. There is much to commend for this view.  

First, this follows the general context.

Peter is reminding the Christians that there are many enemies of God’s people who will scoff and persecute the saints.

This was always true, and what better example than the contemporaries of Noah’s day?

Yet despite all of their troubles, Noah and his family stayed faithful to God during all of the trials which they faced.

What was the result?

They triumphed and were victorious.  

Second, it is worth noticing that this also harmonizes with what Peter wrote in his Second Epistle.

He reminds the brethren: 

2 Peter 2:4-5-4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;

In both cases, we see that Noah preached to the wicked humans of his day and age.  

Some may object, “Why would God offer salvation to the people before the Flood, as opposed to everyone else who had died without the knowledge of Christ?”  

First, Peter does not say that Peter preached ONLY to the antediluvians.

Instead, he mentions this particular group of people because he is making a specific point and drawing specific parallels between the people then living and the Christians of his day and age (i.e., to show that even when the righteous suffer, God will bring good out of it and ultimately deliver them).

Second, it is worth nothing that the Greek of the passage suggests that Peter actively implies that Jesus actually preached to others besides the antediluvians.

Reese points out: 

“The participle with which this verse opens has no article, and Lenski urged that it thus does not say that only those disobedient in Noah’s time were heralded to. It rather says that those spirits in prison were “such as” the ones who had been disobedient. Christ’s proclamation in Hades (prison) dealt with others than just the antediluvians who perished in the flood.” (Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On 1 & 2 Peter & Jude, 92-93; Moberly, Missouri; Scripture Exposition Books)

Reese’s footnote with this passage should also be considered: 

“Perhaps the reason for singling out this generation that was swept away with the flood is because it allows Peter to in the point he wishes to about baptism. We remember that Peter’s point is that there is activity after death. Death didn’t end Messiah’s opportunities for service. And death (should his readers be martyred) wont’ end the Christian’s opportunities for service. All this was prefigured in their baptism into Christ-that death, burial and resurrection was followed by activity, the activity of the new life in Christ.” (Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On 1 & 2 Peter & Jude, 92-93, Footnote # 95; Moberly, Missouri; Scripture Exposition Books)

There is thus good reason to believe that the “spirits” here had reference to the wicked humans of Noah’s day and age who perished in the Flood and who were (when Peter was writing) in Sheol.  

The Fallen Angels 

There is also good evidence to suggest that Peter is referencing the fallen angels who had sinned against God, as recorded in Genesis 6.  

First, Peter specifically mentions that when Christ had finished His “preaching,” the angels and the principalities and powers were made subject to Him (1 Peter 3:22).

Second, there are certain parallels between what Peter and Jude say, coupled with what is recorded in the book of Enoch.

Notice: 

2 Peter 2:4-5-4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;

Please notice that Peter joins the world of the ungodly with the fallen angels who are now “cast down” to Tartarus (or the lowest depths of Sheol, as we noticed in a previous lesson).

Further, Jude writes:

Jude 6-6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

Further, both Jude and Peter reference Enoch (Peter indirectly).

The book of Enoch records: 

1 Enoch 10:4-4 And again the Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness and split open the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him in.

1 Enoch 18:12-16-12 And beyond that abyss I saw a place which had no firmament of heaven above, and no firmly founded earth beneath it: there was no water on it, and no birds, 13 But it was a desert and a horrible place. I saw there seven stars like great burning mountains, 14 And an angel questioned me regarding them. The angel said: ‘This place is the end of heaven and earth. 15 This has become a prison for the stars and the host of heaven. And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come out at their proper times. 16 And He was angry with them, and bound them until the time when their guilt should be consummated even for ten thousand years.’

1 Enoch 21:1-6-Then, I proceeded to where things were chaotic and void. 2 And I saw there something horrible: I saw neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth, but a place chaotic and horrible. 3 And there I saw seven stars of heaven bound together in it, like great mountains and burning with fire. 4 Then I said: ‘For what sin are they bound, and on why have they been cast in here?’ 5 Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me, and was chief over them: ‘Enoch, why do you ask, and why art you eager for the truth? 6 These are some of the stars of heaven, which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here until ten thousand years, the time entailed by their sins, are consummated.’

Charles Swindon does an excellent job summarizing the ideas of these passages: 

“What, then, did Jesus do on the Saturday between His death and resurrection? Peter tells us that when Jesus was made alive in the spirit realm, He “made proclamation to the spirits now in prison” (3:19). Who are these “spirits”? Peter says these were the spirits of those who were once disobedient in the days of Noah (3:20). In fact, Peter’s language and narrative reflect a common understanding among Jews and early Christians, based on their reading of Genesis 6:1-4. According to that understanding, prior to the Flood fallen angels (demons) sinned gravely by cohabiting with human women. Though not a part of the inspired biblical writings, the ancient book of 1 Enoch paraphrases the events of Genesis 6:1-4, giving us a clear example of the prevalent view in Peter’s time…But is there any way we can be sure Peter had this common historical interpretation of Genesis 6 in mind when he wrote 1 Peter 3:19-20? Actually, when we compare parallel passages in Jude and 2 Peter with language from 1 Enoch , we see that this is, in fact, in both Peter’s and Jude’s minds. Note the similarities in language and imagery as we compare these passages.” (Charles R. Swindon, Swindoll’s Living Insights: New Testament Commentary-James, 1 & 2 Peter, 5467-5479 (Kindle Edition); Carol Stream, Illinois; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.). 

When we add all of these things together, it would seem that the “spirits” that were preached to were the unsaved dead humans (especially, but not only, the wicked antediluvians), and the fallen angels (especially the ones who sinned with the human women and brought forth the Nephilim, as recorded in Genesis 6:1-4).  

Question Four: What (Or Where) Is The Location Here Identified As “Prison?” 

Answer: The phrase “in prison” has reference to Sheol.  

The Syriac translation of the New Testament renders the phrase “in prison” as “Sheol,” showing that this was the common understanding of the passage in the first century.  

Further, other New Testament passages express the idea that “prison” has primary reference to Sheol.

Satan is (figuratively) locked up in his “prison” (Revelation 20:7), which is identified as “the bottomless pit” (Revelation 20:1).  

Throughout the New Testament, the phrase “bottomless pit” was used interchangeably with Hades (or Sheol-see Luke 8:31).

We see this clearly in Revelation 9:1, where the “bottomless pit” is referred to literally as “the well of the abusson, the same Greek phrase used in Luke 8:31 where the demons begged the Lord not to send them to the abusson (abyss).  

Question Five: When Did The Preaching Take Place?  

Answer: Between the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

One interpretation of this passage holds that Peter is telling us that Christ preached through the Holy Spirit to the people of Noah’s day while they were alive, and who (being killed in the Flood) were in Hades at the time that Peter wrote.  

This view has much to commend for it.  

First, it acknowledges an important principle which Peter had discussed earlier, i.e., that the Spirit of Christ testified through the Prophets.

Notice: 

1 Peter 1:10-11-10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ WHO WAS IN THEM WAS INDICATING WHEN HE TESTIFIED BEFOREHAND the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

Second, it harmonizes with the fact that Peter also taught that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5).  

However, there are serious problems with this interpretation.  

First, the straightforward reading of the passage seems to suggest that the preaching took place between the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  

Notice the introductory statement: 

1 Peter 3:18-For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

It is after Peter mentions Jesus’ being put to death in the flesh and made alive in the Spirit that he introduces the discussion of the preaching being done to the spirits in prison.

There seems to be a natural flow here.

Reese has pointed out: 

“When did He go? At least three answers are offered to this question. (A). During His pre-existent state, Christ preached to Noah’s contemporaries, warning them of the coming flood and urging them to repent. The New Testament does speak of Jesus’ pre-existent activities on earth (cf. John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 1:10ff), but that is hardly the emphasis of this passage. What is needed here is something after Messiah’s death, that can serve as an assurance for Peter’s persecuted and threatened readers. (B). Between His death and resurrection. If verse 18 speaks of Messiah’s death, and verse 21 is the first mention of His resurrection, then His going and preaching took place during the days His dead body was in the tomb. This is the view advanced by the present writer because it seems to him that there is a sequence in these verses-death, energized, went, preached, raised, ascended.” (Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On 1 & 2 Peter & Jude, 88; Moberly, Missouri; Scripture Exposition Books)

I believe that Peter is stressing both ideas.

Christ certainly taught in and through Noah in the time before the Flood, and He also went and taught to the spirits in prison during the time between His death and resurrection (as is also amply demonstrated by our studies of Ephesians 4:8-10).  

Further, consider that the early Christians clearly understood this as a reference to Jesus going and preaching to the lost in Sheol between His death and resurrection.

For example: 

“Here Peter answers the question which some objectors have raised, namely, if the incarnation was so beneficial, why was Christ not incarnated for such a long time, given that he went to the spirits which were in prison and preached to them also? In order to deliver all those who would believe, Christ taught those who were alive on earth at the time of his incarnation, and these others acknowledged him when he appeared to them in the lower regions, and thus they too benefited from his coming. Going in his soul, he preached to those who were in hell, appearing to them as one soul to other souls. When the gatekeepers of hell saw him, they fled; the bronze gates were broken open, and the iron chains were undone. And the only-begotten Son shouted with authority to the suffering souls, according to the word of the new covenant, saying to those in chains: “Come out!” and to those in darkness: “Be enlightened.” In other words, he preached to those who were in hell also, so that he might save all those who would believe in him. For both those who were alive on earth during the time of his incarnation and those who were in hell had a chance to acknowledge him. The greater part of the new covenant is beyond nature and tradition, so that while Christ was able to preach to all those who were alive at the time of his appearing and those who believed in him were blessed, so too he was able to liberate those in hell who believed and acknowledged him, by his descent there.” (Cyril of Alexandria, Catena. [CEC 66.]) 

“”Forgiveness was not granted to everyone in hell, but only to those who believed and acknowledged Christ. Those who cleansed themselves from evil by doing good works while they were alive recognized him, for until he appeared in the lower regions everyone, including those who had been educated in righteousness, was bound by the chains of death and was awaiting his arrival there, for the way to paradise was closed to them because of Adam’s sin. Nevertheless, not everyone who was in the lower regions responded to Christ when he went there, but only those who believed in him. (Severus of Antioch, Catena. [CEC 67-68.]

Question Six: What Does It Mean That Christ Went And Preached To The Spirits “By The Spirit?”  

Answer: The passage should read “in the spirit.”  

Several translations of the Bible render the phrase “by the Spirit” (KJV, NKJV) as “in the spirit.”  

The rendering “by the Spirit” suggests that Jesus went by means of the Holy Spirit and preached to the spirits in prison, whereas the phrase “in the spirit” would suggest that He went and preached to the spirits in prison by means of His own personal spirit.

Kenneth Wuest highlights the facts: 

“The word translated “Spirit,” pneumati, is in the same case and classification as the word for “flesh,” sarki. But the Holy Spirit is not a logical contrast to the human body of our Lord. It is the human spirit of our Lord that is set over against His human body. It is true that our Lord was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that is taught by Paul in Rom 8:11. But Peter is not teaching that truth here. He maintains the perfect contrast between our Lord’s human body and His human spirit. The translators of the A.V. have capitalized the word “spirit,” making it refer to the Holy Spirit. But the following considerations will show that they had no textual basis for doing so. In the first place, the three oldest and best manuscripts we have, the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus, fourth century, and the Alexandrinus of the fifth, are in capital letters entirely. The Chester Beatty manuscript, third century, does not contain the portion of Scripture we are studying. Eberhard Nestle in his text which is the resultant of a collation of three of the principal recensions of the Greek Testament appearing in the latter half of the nineteenth century, Tischendorf, 1869-1872, Westcott and Hort, 1881-1895, and Bernhard Weiss, 1894-1900, capitalizes the word “spirit” when the word is used to designate the third Person of the Triune God. But he has no manuscript evidence for doing this. With him it is a pure matter of interpretation. Every word of his Greek text which appeared in the originals is the inspired Word of God, but the capitalization is not inspired. The word “spirit” in 1Pe 3:18 is not capitalized in Nestle’s text, which indicates that he thought that the word referred, not to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit of the Lord Jesus.” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies In The Greek New Testament)

“There is not general agreement as to where they were and when the preaching occurred. Some interpreters tell us they were the people of Noah’s time while they were alive and while was being prepared; that the preaching was done at that Imel by Noah, but it was Christ, who, by means of the Holy Spirit, preached through Noah. The mistaken translation of the Authorized Version is, perhaps, partly responsible for this interpretation-that He went ‘by the Spirit,’ signifying the Holy Spirit. What Peter actually says is quite different. He did not go ‘by’ in the sense of agency, but ‘in’ signifying mode or manner. Again, the words in the spirit are antithetical to the preceding statement in the flesh, that Christ who was put to death in the flesh, the same in the spirit, His own spirit, went and preached, etc. These words signify His spiritual incorporeal life as distinct from the flesh, in which He was put to death. This clearly shows that the Holy Spirit is not intended by these words, and that the proper rendering of the Greek precludes such a misunderstanding. There is absolutely nothing to suggest the theory that Christ by means of the Holy Spirit through Noah preached to those people prior to the flood. It was during the time Christ was in the grave that He, in HIs own spirit, went and preached, and that is the manner in which the earliest Christian writers understand the passage. This interpretation is strengthened by the expression who once were disobedient (R.V. Aforetime), thus referring to a time in the past. The rendering of the Syriac Version is ‘the spirits shut up in Sheol,’ which fixes the time.” (Dickson New Analytical Study Bible, 1414) 

In our next lesson, we will consider what the message was that Jesus preached to the spirits in prison.  

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

Study Questions 

What are some New Testament Scriptures which discuss Christ’s pre-incarnate work? ________________________________________________

What evidence is there that Jesus did not preach ONLY to the antediluvians who were in Sheol? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are some of the benefits that 1 Peter teaches us God can bring from suffering?  

How does the Syriac translation render the word “prison” in 1 Peter 3:19? __________

What are some reasons to believe that 1 Peter 3:18-22 is not referring (primarily) to the preaching that took place when Noah was alive? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are some reasons to believe that the ‘spirits in prison’ included both unsaved humans and fallen angels? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Prayer Partners

1. Consider the preaching that was done by Christ to the spirits in prison. What do you think the preaching consisted of? Consider 1 Peter 4:6 in your studies.