Oct 14

IS ONE RELIGION AS GOOD AS ANOTHER? (2)

It is the nature of religion to mold and develop the character of those who follow it. In our quest to address the subject of “pluralism,” which teaches that one religion is just as good and no worse than any other. Here is a little point with a big application, if two religions teach the same thing, then, there is no need for one of them. The reason attention is called to this point is that some have made the claim that their religion teaches the same thing as does “the teaching of Christ,” but they refuse to be identified as a “church of Christ,” which follows “the teaching of Christ!” Think on this, would “the teaching of Christ” produce anything not the “churches of Christ?”
Therefore, the question is put forth, if your religion teaches the “the teaching of Christ,” then, why not just accept “the teaching of Christ” and we can have unity; we can be one! Surely, no one desires division just for the sake of having division! Do they? Unity means we have power to reach the lost; as we all speak the same thing. In fact, “the teaching of Christ,” teaches this, for the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). However, there is a question that must be addressed; does your religion really teach the same thing as “the teaching of Christ?” If so, why are you known by another name?
Here we will take up one religion, the Roman Catholic Church, and notice only a few of its teachings that are not in harmony with “the teaching of Christ.” Many people, who study the New Testament, are aware of the claim, in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which says that Peter was the first Pope and that the church was built upon him. Therefore, the question: “Is this claim true?”
First, let us notice the verse upon which this claim is based. It says, as recorded by Matthew while Jesus was speaking to Peter: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The Greek words for Peter and “rock” have been added to the text so they may be easily identified! In looking at Thayer, it will be noticed that the Greek word “Petros” is capitalized while the Greek word for “rock” is not. This is, of course, totally human; as all the letters in the Greek text were capitalized. So, why bring this point up at all? Simply because it reveals the mind, the thinking, of one Greek Scholar. But, it is not just the scholarship of Thayer, but also of Strong, as he also capitalized the Greek word “Petros” but uses the lower case for “petra.” So, just what does this mean? It means that “Petros” is a proper name; while “petra” is not a proper name. It should also be noticed that the word “church” is never capitalized in the translations; such as the King James and American Standard, nor the English Standard Version; meaning it was understood by the translators that the word “church” is not a name! In fact, the Greek word “ekklēsia,” (church) means: “a calling out.” It relates to the “rock” and not Peter, as we shall see in the following!
Second, the meanings of the two words also comes into play here. First, taking the word “Petros (Peter), Thayer gives this: “a rock or a stone;” and Strong says: “Apparently a primary word; a (piece of) rock (larger than “lithos” and gives the meaning as: “a stone.” If this sounds like such a small matter, think of it this way; “a stone” is not a “rock” in Greek! Peter was called a “Petros,” a “rock” which is a little larger than a “stone.” However, “Petros” (Peter) is a “piece of a rock but not the “rock” itself. Second, the word “rock” which is the Greek “petra.” Thayer gives this: “a (mass of) rock (literally or figuratively): – rock.” “Petra” is “a rock,” the “massive” rock and is not a piece as of “rock” as is Peter. To this point, we have a “massive rock,” upon which Jesus said he would build his church; and we have a “piece of rock,” which is Peter, but Peter is too small to be the “rock” upon which Jesus said he would build his church! Therefore, Peter is not the “rock” upon which Jesus built his church.
Third, let us take up the gender question. Peter (Petros) is masculine in gender but the “rock” (petra) is feminine in gender! We all understand that there must be agreement in gender. It is necessary that we look for a feminine word to go with the feminine “rock.” That word is the Greek “ekklesia,” translated “church.” Therefore, Jesus never promised to build his feminine “church” upon the masculine “Petros,” Peter! It is a simple truth, the feminine “church” sets a top the feminine “rock” and that “rock” is not Peter! Peter was too small for the “church” to be built upon!
It is clear that “the teaching of Christ” is not the same as, in that it does not agree with, the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church! The Roman Catholic Church can NEVER be the church that Jesus built; the church that Jesus build was not built upon Peter; as he is too little and unsuited for such! Nevertheless, the doctrine of “pluralism” would have us all believe that all religions are equal with each other! Two religions, one built upon truth; while the other is built upon that which false; are not equal, neither can they every be!

Frank R. Williams

 

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Oct 07

IS ONE RELIGION AS GOOD AS ANOTHER? (1)

The word of the day, present day America, is that one religion is as good, or no worse, than any other! This is called, “pluralism.” If you look this word up, you will find several meanings; therefore, it is best that I define how I am using the word. I also believe that this is the real meaning of the word as used today. Pluralism is the teaching that one religion is just as good and no worse than any other one. It carries with it, the idea that one god is just as good as another god and that one “teaching” is equal with any other “teaching.” It, by its nature, denies that there is but one true God.
What are some of the religions, which are claiming, to be just as good as the religion of the God of the Bible? Let us start with Buddhism. How about these points:

  1.  “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.”
  2.  “Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.”
  3.  “Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.”
  4. “Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.”
  5. “Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for many generations.”
  6. “But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

More than likely, many would agree with these! However, if you read carefully number six; here is a question for thought. It is based on human determination as to what is “good and benefit of one and all”! Therefore, we would have to turn to Buddha to know the answer. Or else, we would be left without any means of knowing what is of “good and benefit of one and all!” There is another possibility; that each one is left to determine what is “good” and a “benefit to one and all.”
Buddhism is essentially a non-theistic religion and there is no one sacred text or book that Buddhists follow but Buddhists practice meditation and mindfulness. It might be of interest to you, that there are currently about 376 million follows. It is the fourth largest religion; following “Christianity,” Islam and Hinduism! It is older than Christianity, but not as old as Judaism. It was founded from 563 to 460 B.C. (This is questioned in some writings. Such as this, Buddhism first originated in India in the first century B.C.) In researching the subject, it was learned that Buddhism is making major inroads in America! One of the reasons for this, is that many people have immigrated to America who have brought with them, Buddhism!
The term “Buddha” is generally used as an appellation for the ancient Indian figure, Siddhartha Gautama, who is believed to have lived sometime between 563 B.C. and 483 B.C. “Buddha” is a Sanskrit term meaning “the awakened one.” (new world encyclopedia.org) This would appear to confirm that Buddhism does not have a Deity!
Therefore, when we pose the question, “Is one religion just as good, and no worse, than any other?” A godless religion, means that the religion is of human origin and Buddhism does not really deny it. It is no better than the human mind is capable of thinking and leaves us with the opened question: “Is there one human mind that is better than all other human minds?” I am reminded of the words of the “weeping” prophet: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Buddha cannot quote any words like Moses wrote: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

Frank R. Williams

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Sep 30

THE WORLD AND THE EARTH (7)

In our study of the words, “The world and the earth,” several verses have been studied and this is as much a part of our study as the words themselves. Little good would be gained, if we only studied the words, but no verses or context. In this, what may be the last in this series, we will look at the Greek “aiōn,” which is used and greatly misunderstood in Matthew chapter twenty-eight and verse twenty: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aion).” This word means: “1) for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity, 2) the worlds, universe, 3) period of time, age” (Thayer). As with many other word, or group of words, the context must determine how the word is used! So, what meaning best fits the context?
We have already learned that the “world” does not equal the word “earth;” therefore, to what “world” does Jesus have in mind? Dismissing the idea of the “world” being equal to the word “earth;” therefore, it appears that Jesus has in mind “the end of the age.” Now, just why is this the best meaning of the word and context? Jesus is talking to his apostles, as verse sixteen identifies them: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” Now believing in Jesus’ resurrection, they finally go to the place Jesus had appointed before his death. He tells them that he has been given “all authority (power) in heaven and earth.” Notice the word “earth” in Jesus’ statement. The Greek word is “gē” and this is the same word used in Peter’s writing about the end of time: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Therefore, when addressing the end of the earth, so long as it exists, Jesus has “authority” over the “earth” and Peter said it would end. But, this is not the Greek word Jesus used in Matthew twenty-four, verse twenty: “… lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aion). It is most important that we hit hard on the word “world,” that Jesus did not use the Greek “kosmos,” as he did in Mark 16:15. No, Jesus used the Greek “aion” and it is best understood to mean, age. Therefore, Jesus is promising to be with the apostles, until the end of the age. This does not tell what “age” Jesus is talking about, however.
When Luke recorded the words of Jesus to the apostles in “Acts of the Apostles;” he said: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (verse 8). Wait, did you see it? Did you see that Jesus used the word “earth,” in this, his commission to the apostles! So, how do we put Matthew twenty-eight, verse twenty and Acts one, verse eight together? If you are a careful reader, you will have noticed that in Matthew’s account, that Jesus said to the apostles, “… lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aion).” If we correctly put the two accounts together, Jesus is saying to the apostles, that he would be with them as they “received power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you: …” Now, let us reach over and bring the words Jesus said to the apostles in John 14:17: “… for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Jesus is here talking about the “Spirit of truth,” which is the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit would give the apostles “power, after” he came upon them. In the Holy Spirit’s coming upon the apostles, he would guide them “into all truth” (John 16:13). Notice these words: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). Jesus would be with the apostles, as the Holy Spirit testified of Jesus and confirmed their teaching with the “spiritual gifts!”
Here is a most interesting statement made by Jesus to the apostles: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). Did you get it? So, how did Jesus come to them? Jesus came to the apostles in the Holy Spirit as he “testified” of Jesus! One last point just here: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). Once more I ask, did you get it? What is “it?” It is the word, “forever,” which is the Greek “aion” the same word Jesus used in Matthew 28:20! But, there is another word, tied to “aion,” in the text and it is “eis.” With this word, we get, the Holy Spirit “abid(ing)” with the apostles, “unto the end of the age!” This age could not go longer than the apostles! For it is said of them and no one else! The “age” (aion) cannot point to a time that reached beyond the lifetime of the apostles!

Frank R. Williams

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Sep 23

THE WORLD AND THE EARTH (6)

By this time each reader is asking the question: “How many articles are you going to write on this subject?” Truth is, the answer is unknown!” It is believed that more verses need to be covered which address the “world,” as in the nation of Israel.
Here is a question that will reveal one of the difficulties in any study of the word, “kosmos,” “world” as found in the New Testament: “Just what was the world of the New Testament?” There are at least four worlds in the New Testament: 1) Jewish world, 2) the Hellenistic world, 3) the Samaritan world, and 4) the Roman world (Though other divisions can be made, but this will do for our study). In trying to look at each of these, in any detail a larger series of articles would be required, which we do not intend to address; but only in calling attention to the four “worlds” just identified. If it were our purpose to really study the larger context, we would have to engage in a deep investigation of the following, as the words relate to the four “worlds” of the New Testament. The three areas are: 1) cultural, 2) social, and 3) historical contexts. We shall not do so; however, it is necessary to identify at least one verse where each “world” is seen. First, the Jewish “kosmos,” When Jesus sent out the twelve, he said: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-6). Here Jesus has introduced three “worlds:” 1) the world of the Gentiles, 2) the world of the Samaritans, and 3) the world of “the house of Israel,” the Jewish world. It might be, that Jesus is using the words, “the Gentiles,” as a reference to the Roman world. This leaves us with one more to identify; and Luke will handle this for us. When the first problem arose in the church, Luke wrote: “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration” (Acts 6:1). Here Luke has pointed out for us, two “worlds” within the church; and they are: 1) “the Grecians” and 2) “the Hebrews;” at this time. Just who are these two “worlds” called: 1) “the Grecians” and 2) “the Hebrews?” Even when we think we know who the “Hebrews” are, do we really? First, “the Grecians” and to keep it simple, were called, from the Greek word “Hellēnistēs,” which is used throughout the New Testament to refer to Jews born in a foreign land who spoke Greek. Second, the “Hebrews,” and the Greek word is “Hebraios,” which means: “any one of the Jewish or Israelitish nations (the tribes, frw) who spoke in what was then termed the Hebrew language. Therefore, in only two verses, we have identified the basic four “worlds” of the New Testament. No effort here will be made to address a larger context, as this serves our purpose.
The following will be useful to us; “Read just a few chapters in one of the Gospels (There is but one “gospel” given in four accounts. frw), and you’ll encounter Romans and Herodians, Jews and Gentiles, Pharisees and Sadducees, teachers of the law and ordinary country folk, and many others” (Mel Lawrenz, “How to understand the Bible.”) This is quoted to help us see that the “world” of Jesus’ time, could be divided into smaller groups, “worlds.” The words written and put above the head of Jesus on the cross, helps us see this; they were: “And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Luke 23:38). These words divide the “worlds” of Jesus’ time into three “worlds:” 1) Greek, 2) Latin, and 3) Hebrew. However, do we understand what is meant by the word “Greek?” If we have not done at least some study, more than likely the answer is, “No!” It may come as a surprise that the Greek word translated, “Greek,” is “Hellēnikos;” and means: “Grecian.” Adam Clarke wrote about this verse: “The inscription was written in Greek, on account of the Hellenistic Jews, who were then at Jerusalem because of the passover; it was written in Latin, that being the language of the government under which he was crucified; and it was written in Hebrew, that being the language of the place in which this deed of darkness was committed.” The Bible Illustrator gives us this: “It was the custom of the Romans, that the equity of their proceedings might more clearly appear when they crucified any man, to publish the cause of his death in a table written in capital letters, and placed over the head of the crucified.”
So, you think there is nothing else? Wrong! There is at least one more group, “world,” of people. Let Mark introduce us to this group: “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:6). The internet page, “Got Questions,” has this: “The Herodians held political power, and most scholars believe that they were a political party that supported King Herod Antipas, the Roman Empire’s ruler over much of the land of the Jews from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39. The Herodians favored submitting to the Herods, and therefore to Rome, for political expediency.”
The “world,” and here the word “world” stands for all of humanity, in the time of Jesus and the apostles of Christ was complex, to say the least! It was to this “world,” that Jesus commissioned the apostles: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15).

Frank R. Williams

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Sep 16

THE WORLD AND THE EARTH (5)

Studying the two words: 1) world and 2) earth; it is necessary to call attention to verses that reveal how the word “world” is used. Many times, we just read the word, without thinking, how the word “world” is used in the verse. One of the reasons is very simple; in that we are giving the word, “world,” a meaning without much thought! We read the word “world” and think “earth” in an almost automatic manner!
In this fifth article about, “The world and the earth,” attention is called to a verse, that is so well known, it is called “the golden text of the Bible.” Yet, even without any thought the word “world” is read and the meaning is so clear, no one calls attention to it. Of course, the verse reads: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). So, the “world” that God so loved, “that he gave his only begotten Son,” is not the “earth,” neither is it “the things in the world.” God, of course, did not love the things on the earth; neither did he love the physical earth; no, God loved the souls of the inhabitants of the earth. The “world” of this verse can “believe,” and escape perishing and have “everlasting life.” Just to add a little understanding here, the “earth” is appointed for, as Peter wrote: “…the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). There is nothing that can be done, to save the “earth” and “the works that are therein!” But, God has provided the means of saving the people of the earth!
So, you are saying, “I know all this, so why are you writing so much on this subject?” With this in mind, notice the next verse of John three: “For God sent not his Son into the world (kosmos) to condemn the world (kosmos); but that the world (kosmos) through him might be saved” (verse 17). Three times the word “world” appears is this verse and each time it is the Greek “kosmos.” Is the word “kosmos” used in the same manner each time or could it be used differently? Let us just paraphrase the verse: “For God sent not his Son among the inhabitants of the earth to condemn them; but that all the inhabitants through the Son might be saved.” This goes “hand in hand” with the commission Jesus gave the apostles: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Here one verse sheds light upon another verse, in that it means, God would use because of this love, to save the world, the inhabitants, is the gospel! Let it be clear, the blood of Jesus is in the gospel!! Therefore, Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16); but the apostle did not stop here, as he also wrote of the appearing of Christ: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).
Looking a little more at the Greek word “kosmos,” Strong gives this: “kósmos” (literally, “something ordered”) – properly, an “ordered system” (like the universe, creation); the world.” Please notice the words, “ordered system.” Strong then says, “(like the universe, creation).” It never occurs to some people that Judaism was an “ordered system!” Despite this, many folks never look beyond the creation and the universe! Before continuing, Strong says the Greek word “kosmos” appears about 187 times in the New Testament. Look at the words of the apostle John: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world (kosmos) and this is the victory that overcometh the world (kosmos), even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Put your thinking “cap” on and answer the question: “How does John use the word “kosmos?” Is John referring to the earth, when he ,” writes: “overcometh the world,” the earth? Is John referring to the inhabitants of the earth, when he writes: “this is the victory that overcometh the world,” the people of the earth? Or, is John referring to the things of the world,” when he wrote: “this is the victory that overcometh the world, the things of this world? Of course, the victory comes by means of “our faith!” In order to help you, in trying to answer these questions; read John: “Love not the world (kosmos), neither the things that are in the world (kosmos). If any man love the world (kosmos), the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). In John’s uses of the Greek “kosmos,” one thing is very clear, if one loves it, “the love of the Father is not in him.” However, this might be called “punting the ball,” in modern terms. Therefore, I will not do it! The word “neither” needs to be noticed here, Strong says it is “a continued negation,” of “if any man love the world.” It should be noted, that John also wrote: “For God so loved the world,” (John 3:16). Is God “allowed” to love what we are not? In a word, “No!’ It appears to this humble writer, that the “world,” we are not to “love,” that the second use of the word “world,” is but a continuation of the first! F. F. Bruce noted the difference thus: “It is the world-system organized in rebellion against God which is in view…” Bruce also wrote showing the difference between two types of “love,“ as he wrote: “it is self-sacrificing love; (John 3:16, frw) here it is acquisitive love” (1 John 2:15, frw).” Let me put it this way: 1) one is the greatest love ever shown to mankind, while 2) is to love less and less, until there is no love at all.
This has turned into a “many” article series, but personally, I believe it is good to look at the verses which have been covered and will be covered.

Frank R. Williams

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Sep 09

THE WORLD AND THE EARTH (4)

In an earlier article, it was pointed out that at times, the words “world” and “earth,” shed light on each other. This may appear at first reading as a most unlikely thing to occur! Nevertheless, it is true and in this article, it will be shown where this is the case. Keep in mind as we approach the subject, that God never does the unnecessary and does not use more than is needed to complete the task! With these two thoughts before us, let see how the words “world” and “earth” shed light upon each other.
We have all read the apostolic commission more times than we can recall; however, more than likely most people have missed the point that is to be made here. As Mark states the commission, he wrote: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). First, just notice that the word “earth” is not in the text. The Greek word Mark used is, “kosmos,” which means: “the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family.” Yes, the word “kosmos” has other meanings, but in using this one, the text will become very clear. Nevertheless, for the sake of honesty, here is all that Strong gives: “Probably from the base of G2865; orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]): – adorning, world.” This will allow you to put any or all of these into the text; so, you can see for yourself, what might be the best meaning of the Greek word as used by Mark. It is helpful to notice that Paul used the same Greek words, when he wrote: “… the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; …” (Col. 1:23). The Greek words, translated, “every creature” is the Greek: “pas ktisis,” in Colossians and is the same Greek words used by Mark: “pas (every) ktisis (creature).” You do not need, as the old saying goes, “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist” to see what is the best meaning of the word “world,” the Greek “kosmos” in the apostolic commission! However, this has not answered the question, “How does the word “world,” having the meaning: “the inhabitants of the earth,” shed light on the word “earth?”
Therefore, let us get to the task! Let us here recall that God does not do the unnecessary; as he is perfectly frugal, in that God does not waste time, energy, or material. Luke in writing “The Acts of the Apostles,” covers the apostolic commission in these words: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are here interested in the words, “unto the uttermost part of the earth!” The Greek word for “earth” is, “gē,” and means: “1) arable land 2) the ground, the earth as a standing place …” The word “ge” is used in the same manner as Peter used it, when he wrote of the “willingly” “ignorant” of the first century; when he wrote: “the earth (gē) standing out of the water and in the water: (6) Whereby the world (kosmos) that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: (7) the heavens and the earth (gē), which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved …” (2 Pet. 3:5-7). Therefore, it is easy to conclude that Jesus used, as written by Luke, the word “earth” to mean the same as did Peter. Just for your information, the meaning of the word “ge” is “arable land,” which means, “fit for;” thus, the earth is “fit for” the intended end: “reserved unto fire!” Now, let us conclude this part of the article by simply pointing out, that Mark has Jesus addressing “the inhabitants of the earth,” in his use of the word “kosmos,” while Luke in Acts has Jesus pointing to the “earth” (ge).
Question, did Jesus mean for the apostles to go to the North Pole and preach the gospel, when he said: “unto the uttermost part of the earth”? In my research, I found this interesting statement: “No-one and nothing (animals or plants) lives on the North Pole.” Excluding scientists, the population is 0! And in the time of Jesus, there were no scientists at the North Pole! Virtually all of Antarctica (5,400,00 sq. miles, 98% covered with ice) is uninhabitable, and much of Australia is still uninhabited. So, the question, knowing the nature of God, would Jesus send the apostles into such uninhabitable places, even though they are part of the earth? No! Therefore, the word “earth” (ge) in Acts 1:8 is limited by the word “world” (kosmos, the inhabitants) of Mark 16:15.
You knew this all along, but may never have stated it. You fully understood that God, through Christ, would never be so wasteful, by having the gospel preached where no humans were present to hear it. Here is another point, the time for the apostles to fulfill their commission, was time limited! Yes, it was time limited! As the apostles were not going to live on this earth forever! Therefore, the “world” sheds light upon the word “earth!”
On another note, Paul has, by the Holy Spirit, declared that the commission had been fulfill when he wrote.

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Sep 02

THE WORLD AND THE EARTH (3)

Have you ever read, or seen an article written on the subject: “The World and the Earth,” before the ones you are now reading? To the best of my memory, I have not! Just because few, if any, have written on this subject, does not in itself, make it necessary that articles be written; however, the reason these articles are written is because we have a tenuously to read the words “world” as “earth” as meaning the same thing. This produces a mis-understanding in the mind and more than likely a failure to understand the text.
There are any number of texts, wherein the two words would give a different understanding (meaning) of the text, had the writer used the word “world” and not the word “earth.” Let us look at one such text, just here. On the day of Pentecost, after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, Peter quoted the words of Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (18) And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (19) And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: (20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (21) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21, Joel 2:28-32). This text has been mis-understood by many, for many years and no doubt such will continue; however, it is not our purpose here to bring out the meaning of Joel’s words as quoted by Peter. Our purpose is to notice the word “earth” in verse 19: “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke.” Question, where were the “signs” to take place? Peter said, they were to be “in the earth.” The Greek word he used is “ge” and it means: “1) arable land 2) the ground, the earth as a standing place 3) the main land as opposed to the sea or water 4) the earth as a whole 4a) the earth as opposed to the heavens 4b) the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals 5) a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region” (Strong). This is all that Strong gives and it is thought necessary to give the full meaning; so, the reader will be able to see it all. Now, notice the first meaning: “arable land.” The word “arable” means: “fit for or used for the growing of crop arable land.” (Merriam-Webster). So, the “land,” the “earth,” at the time these “signs” would take place was a “fit” land unto the purpose of the “signs!” Therefore, it would appear, that the “earth” was not always “arable” land! But, starting here without trying to prove, that the “land,” the “earth” was fit for all the “signs” leading up to and during the A.D. 70 destruction of Judea (Jerusalem) and that the “land,” the “earth” was properly prepared for the events that fall into the figurative language: “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 that great and notable day of the Lord come” (verse 19-20). Please notice here, that the prophecy of Joel used the word “before,” “before that great and notable (Joel, “terrible”) day of the Lord come;” therefore, the “signs” would start “before that great and notable day of the Lord came,” referring to the destruction of Jerusalem! Though these words are directed at the ‘earth,” and not the “world,” the inhabitants of the land of Judea, nevertheless, the people would suffer severely!! Therefore, Joel and Peter are pointing in the direction of the utter physical destruction of the “land!” Jesus will help us get the picture of what (things on the land) Joel said in referring to the event: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Jesus is pointing to the temple area, Matt. 24:2).
On the other hand, Jesus in Matthew twenty-four, pointed to the personal, physical, suffering! He said: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows. (9) Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (10) And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another (Matt. 24:7-10). It was not a pretty sight, but one of utter personal suffering and destruction!
Now, let us be honest! Have you ever noticed the fact that Joel’s prophecy used the word “earth” and not the word “world,” in the text? More than likely, you have never paid any attention to the little word “earth,” in this text! It can make a real difference in our being able to understand the text!

–Frank R. Williams

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Aug 26

THE WORLD AND THE EARTH (2)

The world, the world, and the world. This is where we stopped in the last article on the subject: “The World and The Earth.” The words come from “The Gospel According to John,” when he wrote of Jesus: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10). Each time the word “world” is used, it is the Greek “kosmos.” The general rule is, that if a writer uses the same word, in the same context, it will have the same meaning. However, there are exceptions to the general rule. Long ago, I remember my English teacher telling the class, the rules about the English language as it is written. Then, after a long list of rules, she said, “except!” My question was, “How do I know when the exception is used and how am I to know when not to use the exception?” It was here that English became a mystery and those who read my writings, will testify that it is still a mystery to me!
So, what about John’s use of the same word, “world,” three times in the verse addressing Jesus. How was Jesus: 1) “in the world;” 2) then the “world was made by him;” and 3) “the world knew him not.” Let us first recall, the word “world” is not the same as the word “earth!” In the days of Noah, the “world” was destroyed save eight souls, and the “earth” was forever changed; as Peter wrote: “Whereby the world (kosmos) that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Pet. 3:6); therefore, we know that the word “world” (kosmos) can and does refer to the inhabitants of the earth, while not referring to the “earth.” However, this does not answer our question: “How is the word “world” used in John 1:10 but it sure does help! If we understand the words, Jesus “was in the world,” to mean that Jesus lived and died among the inhabitants of the Jewish nation, then, we have made a major step in the right direction! Keep in mind, John is writing in the past tense, after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus! Therefore, Jesus “was,” at one time “in the world.”
Now, this moves us to the second phrase: ““world was made by him;” here attention is called once more the past tense of the word “was.” Keep in mind, the “world” is not the same as the “earth;” therefore, the words do not refer to the opening statement of the Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The word “God” as used here is referring to the “Godhead,” which includes: God the Father, God the Son (Word) and God the Holy Spirit. It appears that many commentaries have varying opinions on this verse; thus, there are verging degrees of understanding and some miss the real meaning all together! It would be worth our time to note some of the views of the different commentaries, but space and time will not allow us to do so. If we are going to follow the general rule about the use of the same word in a text, that it is used in the same way; then, by the words: “the world was made by him (Jesus),” John is saying that Jesus “made” the Jewish nation, “world.” The words, “was made,” is the Greek “ginomai” and means: “to come into existence.” It was God who created the Jewish nation by calling them out of Egypt, baptizing them in the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:1-2), and giving them the law of Moses; thus, they became a “world,” the Jewish nation. Remember, of course, that the home land was just waiting for them to take. Thus, the second member of the “God” includes the God the Word” of John 1:1-2; 14). Therefore, the words, “the world was made by him,” more than likely means the Jewish world as in the first case: Jesus” was “in the world.” He was in the same “world” he “made.”
The third phrase, “the world knew him not,” is used in the same way as the first two phrases: “the Jewish world.” The Greek word, “ginōskō,” our English word “knew,” refers to a very intimate, essential; innermost, relationship. The Jews were very aware of the person named Jesus, they knew his “hometown,” they knew of his father, and his mother, but they still “knew him not! They did not “know” him as the “Word,” which “was made flesh, and dwelt among” them (John 1:14), they did not “know” him as the “Son of God;” they knew him only as Jesus who came from Nazareth. Therefore, they crucified him!
It does appear to this writer that the “world” in John 1:10 is used the same way in all three phrases! Finally, verse 11: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” The words, “his own,” once more refers to the Jewish nation. And it appears the word “world” has no reference to the word “earth” in verse ten.

Frank R. Williams

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Aug 19

THE WORLD AND THE EARTH (1)

In the articles written under the heading, “Studying the word of God,’’ we looked at the words “world” and “earth.” However, it was like an introduction to the two words. If these words are not understood, using the correct meaning, we can come away from the teaching wherein one of them is used, having reached a false conclusion. Then, there is the fact, that more than one Greek word is translated into our English word “world.” Therefore, more study is called for!
First, we need to see all the Greek words translated world! Then, of course, we must not overlook the word “earth.” It may surprise you to learn that these two words shed light on each other. Keep this thought in mind! So, what are the Greek words which are translated into our English world? First, there is the Greek “kosmos”, which appears about 151 times in the New Testament. This Greek word was looked at in the earlier articles, entitled “A Study of Word of God.” But, it is necessary to refresh our minds as to what it means. Many people, and some preachers, sadly to say, have never taken the time to study long enough to learn the meaning of the word “kosmos!” People have heard it used in Carl Sagan’s T.V. production, though he spelled it “Cosmos.” Strong gives this: “kósmos (literally, “something ordered”) – properly, an “ordered system” (like the universe, creation); the world.” We love to see the order of the universe, each planet in its own orbit. The sun giving us light in the day and the moon taking over at night, then there are those numberless stars! Moses wrote of them: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” (Gen. 1:16). The universe is an “ordered system;” thus, the word “kosmos” is used. Sagan had much wrong, but God has it right! It is correct to say, “The ordered system” when referring to the universe:” the kosmos!
Second, the word “kosmos” is used to refer to the people on the earth: “the inhabitants of the earth!” Thus, the human family! While at other times, it is used to refer to only part of the human family. The devil offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8). Here the inhabitants of the earth were divided into many kingdoms! Thus, the word “kosmos” may be used to refer to all the inhabitants of the earth, or part of the inhabitants as in different kingdoms. Here is one for thought, a verse you may have read many times; but what was in your mind as you read it? Jesus said: “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world (kosmos)” (Matt. 13:35). Now, be honest when you answer the question: You were thinking “earth” when you read the word “world.” Your mind went back to creation; you had Jesus speaking about things “kept secret from the foundation of the earth;” in other words, your thinking went right into heaven, to the mind of God, of things not made known until the coming of Jesus! The words “foundation of the kosmos,” in the mind of so many, refer to the opening statement of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). But Jesus was addressing the Jewish world; an ordered system. All the prophecies written before the establishment of the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai fall under Jesus’ words, “from the foundation of the world!”

Third, here is a verse that has the Greek “kosmos” in it three times! The apostle John wrote of Jesus: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10). Each time the word “world” appears, it is the Greek “kosmos!” Notice how the word is used: 1) “Jesus was IN the kosmos,” 2) “and the kosmos was MADE by him,” and 3) “and the kosmos KNEW HIM NOT.” First, Jesus was not addressing the “earth,” but the “kosmos!” Is the word “kosmos” use the same way all three times in this verse? Just what “kosmos” had Jesus “MADE?” The easier answer is in his use of the “kosmos” which “knew him not.” Clearly this refers to the Jewish “kosmos”: the Jewish nation!
Well, it is easy to see that more study must be done of the word “kosmos” and its use! Then, there is the Greek word, “aiōn,” which is translated “world” in Matthew 28:20.

rank R. Williams

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Aug 12

STUDYING THE WORD OF GOD (4)

Do you desire to be a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed” unto God? What child of God would not so desire? Of course, what faithful child of God would not desire to study the word of God? These thoughts come from 2 Timothy, chapter two, verse fifteen. Thais is where the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, and the verse reads: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The American Standard has the words: “Give diligence;” where the King James Verse has “study.” It would be impossible to truly “give diligence” without studying the word of God!
In this fourth article on the subject: “studying the word of God,” we shall once more look at the words of Peter. However, having noticed a few truths in 2 Peter 3:3 – 7, it is necessary, to get the context, that we recall verse seven: “but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” First, notice that Peter is writing about the “heavens” and the “earth” that were present in his time and our time. He wrote that they: 1) “by the same word have been stored up for fire;” and 2) they are “being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Answer this question: “What are the heavens and the earth waiting on? They are, even at this present time, waiting, as they are now in a state of being “reserved!” The Greek word is “tēreō” and means: “to reserve: to undergo something!” Peter is pointing to a time of change: “reserved, waiting to undergo something.” Just what are the “heavens and the earth” waiting to undergo? Peter wrote: “against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men!” Here, notice the word Peter used, “against,” which is the Greek, “eis,” which means: “towards.” So, the heavens and the earth are “reserved,” as they look “forward,” to undergo something! Just what is this something? Let Peter, by the Holy Spirit, answer our question. He wrote: “the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” However, Peter calls on us to be aware of a great truth: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (verse 8). In other words, don’t be like those who are “scoffers,” who are “willingly ignorant” as we wait! Let us do our waiting with knowledge we have gained through “studying the word of God!”
Here your attention is called to Peter’s words in verse 9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; …” As we live, it is so important that we see things, not from our point of view, but God’s!” As we look at our “world,” we see evil on every side, yet, more than likely today is not as bad as it was in Peter’s time. The Roman “world” was known for its evil! Then, we know for sure our “world” is not as evil as it was in the time of Noah! Here is another thought, read with thought Peter’s next words: “but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” In every day, that passes and the Lord has not come; we should see the love of God, as he is waiting for one more lost soul to “come to repentance!” Here is a question: Do we see one more day as God sees one more day: “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance?”
Peter now turns his attention, to what this should mean to us; he wrote: 1) “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness;” and 2) “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” The keys words are: “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”
So, unlike what took place in the days of Noah; wherein the people, the “kosmos,” “perished;” Peter is telling us “the heavens” and “the earth,” which are now, will be no more; therefore, Peter questioned: “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” This is one of the most important questions that we can put our minds on; and answer it! Therefore, in conclusion, the same question comes to each of us! How do you answer?

Frank R. Williams

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