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Ezekiel 18:4 – What the Bible teaches about Soul and Spirit

This brief text expresses a simple truth. Souls die. Against the speculations of some that there is something within a man, a “soul,” which remains alive after death, lingering as a disembodied spirit, the scriptures affirm to the contrary. Death is what it seems to be — death.

When a dog dies, what happens to the dog? It stops breathing, its body decays and returns to the elements. Thought and consciousness immediately terminate. There is no more dog. It does not go to some place prepared for old dogs, to chew bones in bliss, for there simply is no more dog. It is dead, it is gone, it is no more.

Death is the same for human beings. Death is the cessation of life. Psalm 146:4 describes what happens when a man dies.

“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

“That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other … they have all one breath … all go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20).

The Resurrection

However, unlike the animals, man has the hope of a resurrection from the dead. Animals were made to live for a limited period of time, procreate, age, and pass away as part of the cycle of nature. But man, the height of God’s physical creation, was created with the capacity to live forever. They appreciate life, plan for the future, and cherish the hope for continued life. Accordingly, the prospect of living forever was offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden, by God who created him.

This offer was contingent upon obedience, a test which Adam and Eve failed. But even after being expelled from the Garden, so robust was the human frame that Adam lived 930 years before death claimed his life (Genesis 5:5). Almost 4000 years after Adam sinned, Jesus died as a ransom for father Adam (1 Timothy 2:6), which allows Adam and his posterity a release from the death penalty — in other words, a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22). For the world, this will come during the Millennium so near at hand.

In the meantime, where are all the dead of past ages? They are simply dead. They silently await the resurrection, when they will be reconstituted as the persons they were before they died, to learn the lessons God has for them during the Kingdom on earth.

What is a Soul?

From our opening text, it is apparent that souls do die. The expression immortal soul,sometimes used among Christians, is not found in the Bible.

A soul is a living being, whether animal or human, and neither animals nor humans are immortal.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, word number 5315 in Strong’s Concordance, which gives this definition: “A breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense.”

Genesis 2:7 uses the word “soul” for Adam.

“The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Here the word nephesh, or soul, is defined as a living being, a body combined with the breathe of life. Thus we learn, that man does not possess a soul, but that he IS a soul, which means simply that man, when alive, is a living being.” Adam subsequently died, and he with all the others silently awaits the resurrection.

Animals as Souls

The “breath of life” which animates the human organism is no different than the breath of life given to the lower animals. In reference to the “beasts and every creeping thing” which perished in the Flood, we read,

“All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21,22).

Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 informs us that both man and beast

“have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.”

As Strong’s Concordance notes, animals are also souls — living beings. However, in the common English version this is hidden by the translation, which confuses the subject to many readers. When the word nephesh, soul, refers to an animal, the translators rendered it with some other word, such as creature or beast.

For example, Genesis 1:20 says

“let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh, soul]…”

Verse 21, God created great whales, and every living creature [nephesh, soul] that moveth…”

Verse 24, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh, soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Here are other texts of the same sort: Genesis 1:30, 2:14, 9:3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 18. And Isaiah 19:10,

“… all that make sluices and ponds for fish [nephesh, souls].

This method of translating hides the fact that animals are souls. Were this fact more open and apparent, it would assist people to recognize that souls are not immortal, for no one supposes that animals are in any sense immortal.

Only once in the Old Testament did the translators render the word nephesh “soul” when it applied to animals, namely Numbers 31:28, where the word applies at one time both to people and animals: “one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep.”

The Difference Between the Human Soul and the Animal Soul

The difference between the soul of a human and an animal is in the construction of the organism, particularly in the formation of the brain. Although some organisms of some of the lower animals may seem to be superior to man’s (such as a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing and an eagle’s eyesight), God in his great wisdom created man in his own image, thus giving man the ability to reason, and to have a moral sense of right and wrong — possessing a conscience (1 John 3:20-22). Man has the ability to love and obey Jehovah-God as well as to love (agape) his enemies or those who do or wish him wrong through, striving to see all things through the eyes of their Bridegroom — Christ Jesus. He died as a “ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6) because of his great love of the Heavenly Father — stemming from a love for righteousness which comes from a knowledge, understanding and experience of the results of obeying the Heavenly Father, which permits the highest and purest form of joy to be felt, that joy that is felt through the eyes of faith, that joy that our Lord Jesus had in bringing the Heavenly Father joy, as reflected in his words:

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34, ESV).

Other Hidden References

There are other important places where the translators also obscured the use of nephesh.

“There were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body [nephesh, soul] …” (Numbers 9:6, 7, 10).

If the translation use “soul” in these places, it would be apparent to the reader that souls simply die. When Samson toppled the house of Dagon, he prayed to God:

“Let me [my nephesh, soul] die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30).

Expanded Use

The texts above give us the proper meaning of the word soul, namely any living being. However, Strong’s Concordance shows that nephesh is sometimes used figuratively for one’s life, being, or vitality. Here are two examples of this.

(1) When Rachel was dying at the birth of Benjamin, Genesis 35:18 says

“As her soul was in departing (for she died) … she called his name Benomi: but his father called him Benjamin.”

(2) 1 Kings 17:21, speaking of the raisin of a young boy by Elijah, says he cried to God

“let this child’s soul come into him again.”

In both of these cases the word “life” or “being” is the meaning intended.

Sometimes the word is used of one’s deepest thoughts or feelings, distinguished from the mere body. Thus 2 Kings 4:27 says of a troubled woman,

“her soul is vexed in her.”

Language is flexible, and the word nephesh is used flexibly. But none of these cases are any predicate for believing some conscious force called “soul” mysteriously lingers after death. Death is death. It is the cessation of life.

Soul in the New Testament

The New Testament Greek word for soul is psuche. Whenever the word “soul” appears in the common English version of the New Testament, it is from this word (Strong’s number 5590).

1 Corinthians 15:45 uses psuche as the counterpart of the Hebrew nephesh, which serves to equate the two words.

“The first man Adam was made a living soul [psuche].”

This expression clearly draws from Genesis 2:7, where nephesh is used. This word is frequently rendered life.

“Whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (Mark 8:35).

“I lay down my life (John 10:17).

“They seek my life (Romans 11:3),

and many other examples. In these cases “life” refers to the being, the person. The same meaning attaches when the word is rendered “soul,” as in Acts 2:43,

“fear came upon every soul” — every person, or being.

Revelation 8:9 and 16:3 apply the word to sea creatures. Revelation 6:9 and 20:4 use the term metaphorically of the spent life of the saints, awaiting the resurrection. John 12:27 says of Jesus

“now is my soul troubled.”

Thus there is a breadth in this Greek word that matches the breadth of its Hebrew counterpart.

In the Old Testament the condition of death is expressed by the Hebrew sheol, and its Greek counterpart in the New Testament is hades. This was the condition into which Jesus’ “soul,” psuche, passed for three days until his resurrection, for a soul, psuche, dies and is later raised from the dead.

The Soul Is Not Immortal

If the soul were truly immortal, the soul would be indestructible, yet it is not, because each human born under the curse of Adamic condemnation, dies until the curse shall be lifted up from humanity once Christ’s ransom price has been applied to all mankind. By then the Bride of Christ will have completed their share in the sin offering — and the antityical “atonement day” sin offering thus completed. The High Priest in Leviticus 16 made atonement for  himself, his sons, and then, finally, for the sins of the people (the world of mankind). God warned Adam that if he disobeyed God’s rule, then as a living soul Adam would cease to exist. We read about this in Genesis 2:17,

“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

In Ezekiel 18:4 God said,

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die.”

This means that the person who sins shall die, and since all are born in sin, the entire human race has been dying for nearly 6000 years. Here are two examples of Scriptures about death being the consequence of sin:

“So death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, NASV).

Every soul [person] sins and, as a consequence, every soul dies (Romans 6:16,23).

But God in his great love provided redemption from death for all sinful souls, or persons, through the gift of his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who died as a corresponding ransom price to free mankind from the prison house of death. All of Adam’s progeny lost life through Adamic transgression and thus have inherited sin and imperfection. The Apostle Paul wrote that

“in Adam all die,”

adding to this,

“even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

And again,

“Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21,22).

The Prophet Isaiah wrote that Christ’s “soul” was made an offering for sin, and also that he

“poured out his soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:10,12).

John 3:16 says,

“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.”

Adam and all past generations of his children have fallen asleep in death, but they have not “perished,” because through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and by the exercise of divine power, they are to be awakened in the resurrection and given an opportunity to believe. Then, upon the basis of their belief and obedience, they may live forever.

Those called to discipleship in the present life are given an opportunity to inherit eternal life by accepting Jesus as their personal Redeemer and responding to the invitation to take up their cross and follow him, gladly lay down their lives with him, and be planted together in the likeness of his death (Roman 6:3-6). These are referred to in Revelation 20:4 as the “souls” which are

“beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote,

“If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:17,18).

Thus, Paul speaks of Christians who die as merely being “asleep,” and not in any sense perishing in death.

Genesis 12:11-13 (NASB) says Abraham was afraid that his soul would not live, and thus, that he would die.

“It came about when he [Abram] came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I (“my soul,” nephesh) may live on account of you.” If the Hebrew word nephesh meant an indestructible immortal soul, Abram’s soul could not have died (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

Jesus emphasized this same important truth in an admonition to his disciples to meet courageously any and all opposition against them and any persecuted unto death, saying,

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna]” (Matthew 10:28).

Jesus here refers to the possibility of permanent cessation of life by God for the incorrigible, which the Bible terms as “second death.”

“This does not imply that the soul can live apart from the body, for actually the body is the organism of the soul. Rather, Jesus is speaking from the standpoint of the divine plan to awaken the dead in the resurrection. It was from this standpoint that Paul could say that Christians who fell asleep in death had not ‘perished.’ If an enemy puts a Christian to death, he has not perished as a soul. The body dies, but the person, the soul, merely ‘sleeps’ until the resurrection. But if a Christian becomes a willful sinner and is not worthy of a resurrection, then death means extinction of that person, or soul, forever.

“Jesus explained this from another standpoint, as recorded in Luke 20:37,38

Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.’

Jesus did not say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had gone to heaven to live with God. He simply explained that because there is to be a resurrection of the dead, and these faithful servants will be restored to life, God does not consider them as having gone out of existence — they ‘live unto him,’ or, to him they are alive.

“So it is with all God’s faithful servants of the past. They may have been ‘sawn asunder’ by their enemies; they may have been thrown to the lions, or beheaded, or burned at the stake, but to God they still live, they have not ‘perished,’ for he has the power and will use that power to awaken them from the sleep of death.

“The ‘souls’ which are ‘beheaded,’ as mentioned in Revelation 20:4, are brought forth in the ‘first resurrection’ to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The ‘souls’ that died serving God during the ages preceding Jesus’ first advent will come forth to a ‘better resurrection,’ to serve as ‘princes in all the earth’ Hebrews 11:35; Psalm 45:16” (The Dawn – and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January 1959 issue).

Lazarus – An Example that the Soul is not immortal

In John 11:11 Jesus said “Lazarus sleepeth.” Lazarus was dead for four days (John 11:39). Surely Jesus would not have retrieved Lazarus from the bliss of heaven. For those four days Lazarus did not go anywhere, nor did he see anyone, nor did he speak, eat, feel, or think. He was simply dead. When he was raised to life he began again to do all those things. In this respect the whole world sleeps in death, waiting for the resurrection — unaware of what is transpiring in the meantime, because the dead do not sense, feel or think anything.

“The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

“There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

In John 5:28,29 Jesus said that the hour is coming when all in their graves will come forth. If their souls were already in heaven, then there would be no need for Jesus to say that he would bring them forth from the grave? If physical bodies were needed in heaven, how have these presumably immortal souls survived without them? Scripture also tells us that

“flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Seeking After Immortality

The Bible never equates immortality with the soul of common man, only with the saints, and then only as a gift for faithfulness (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). The sleeping, unconscious dead will one day be awakened from their graves (John 5:28,29; Job 14:11-15; Psalm 17:15; Acts 24:15,16). At that time,

‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:9).

‘Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths’ (Micah 4:2).

In God’s kingdom on earth, mankind will be raised from the dead and have their first real opportunity to learn God’s ways of righteousness because Satan will be bound and will no longer be able to deceive the world (Revelation 20:3) (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

The Dead Raised To Life In the Resurrection Age

“Possibly the spirit that returns to God contains the unique ‘data’ of each individual can be compared to computer information on a removable disk. The resurrection of an individual could be a recreation after the pattern of Adam. The original body had passed to dust so a new one, either spiritual or fleshly, would be created. The individual again comes to life when the (unique?) spirit is returned to the body and he becomes a living soul again. Whatever the exact process is, we know the resurrected fleshly body will be in its intended perfected state. Job intimates that the flesh will be fresher than a child’s and will have the beauty and vitality of youth (Job 33:25)” (Robert Davis, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom article.)

Spirit

The word “spirit” in the Old Testament is usually from the Hebrew ruach, and in the New Testament it is usually from the Greek pneuma. Both terms refer to breath, inhalation, or the movement of air, whether gentle or forceful. But as these are invisible forces, the words are applied by extension to the “spirit” of a person which is the invisible mental force, personality, influence, or disposition of a person.

Thus the Old Testament uses ruach when speaking of the “spirit” of Jacob, Elijah, Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Joshua, God, and others. The New Testament uses pneuma when speaking of the “spirit” of Paul, Christ, and God.

These words are also used to describe the influence of various non-personal but good “spirits” — the spirit of Truth, Holiness, Life, Faith, Wisdom, Grace and Glory and of an opposite spirit of Jealousy, Judgment, Burning, Heaviness, Infirmity, Divination, Bondage, Slumber, Fear and Error.

Ruach also refers to the “spirit of life” which we receive from God, which figuratively “returns” to him when we die.

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

This does not imply a transport of persons. It applies to the motivating force of life, of both good and bad people alike.

Both words sometimes refer to the essence of a person, that is, their identity, character, personality. In this sense Jesus commended his “spirit” to God when he died, which was restored on the third day when God raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 23:46, Psalms 31:5).

In this sense also Paul speaks of the “spirits of just men,” the faithful Ancient Worthies of the Old Testament, who were matured by the things they suffered, and await their resurrection reward in the Kingdom (Hebrews 12:23, 11:40).

None of these cases teach that any conscious entity persists after the death of a person, except metaphorically, in the memory of God. Not until the resurrection does a person who has died live again as a conscious, sentient being. The great hope for the world lies in such a Resurrection from the Dead.

“There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15).

“The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:28,29).

This assurance was secured for us at great cost, both by God who gave His dearest treasure, his son Jesus, and by Jesus who labored in his ministry for 3 ½ years, suffered accusation from the religious leaders of his day, and died for our sins on the cross.

“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust … [to] bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18). “By man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21).

For the saints of the Gospel Age, this resurrection occurs during the present “Harvest” period. For the remainder of the world, the resurrection will occur during the coming Millennium.

Do Angels Have a Soul?

As with human being, angels are souls, for they are the union of the spirit of life, together with a body, in this case a spiritual body.

“The first man Adam was made a living soul…” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

It would be the same with the angelic hosts, but on a higher scale.

“There are also celestial bodies … but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (1 Corinthians 15:40).

——-

Acknowledgment & References

We are thankful for the permission of sharing content from a study titled “Soul and Spirit,” drawn from a study by Br. Gilbert Rice, featured in the “Faithbuilders Fellowship” Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

“Immortality and the Human Soul,” The Bible versus Tradition—Article IV, April 1959 in The Dawn – A Herald of Christ’s Presence (Monthly Magazine) Rutherford, NJ, USA.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

“Immortality of the Soul” by Br. Peter Karavas. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, May-June 2011.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2011/11mj_3.htm

“The Resurrection of the Dead” by Br. Robert Davis. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_14.htm

Suggested Further Reading

Volume 5 of “Studies in the Scriptures” — “The Atonement Between God and Man” by Br. Charles Taze Russell, pages 383-404, Study 13, “Hopes For Life Everlasting and Immortality Secured by the Atonement.”

“What Is the Soul?” by Br. Robert Seklemian
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/seklemians%20discourses.htm

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part A: What Is Jesus All About?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part B: Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/14/ezekiel-184-what-the-bible-teaches-about-soul-and-spirit/

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Preceding articles

Matthew 11:20-24 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 5 Reproached Cities a Lesson for Judgment Day

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

The Acts Of The Sent Ones Chapter 2

 

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Additional reading

  1. Concerning Man
  2. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 3
  3. Creation of the earth and man #9 Formation of man #1 Cure of souls
  4. Creation of the earth and man #10 Formation of man #2 Mortal bodies and Tartarian habitation
  5. Creation of the earth and man #12 Formation of man #4 Constitution of man
  6. Creation of the earth and man #14 Formation of man #6 The Uncreated One, neshemet ruach chayim and nephesh
  7. An openingschapter explaining why things are like they are and why we may have hope for better things
  8. Bereshith 3 Fall of man
  9. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #4 The Fall
  10. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #5 Temptation, assault and curse
  11. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #8 Looking for the 2nd Adam
  12. What is life?
  13. Death
  14. Grave, tomb, sepulchre – graf, begraafplaats, rustplaats, sepulcrum
  15. Today’s thought “Death by being taken captive” (May 15)
  16. Is there an Immortal soul
  17. The Soul not a ghost
  18. The Soul confronted with Death
  19. What happens when we die?
  20. Decomposition, decay – vergaan, afsterven, ontbinding
  21. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #1 Intro
  22. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #2 Psyche, the word
  23. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #3 Historical background
  24. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #4 Psyche, According to the Holy Scriptures
  25. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #5 Mortality of man and mortality of the spirit
  26. People Seeking for God 5 Bread of life
  27. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #6 Summary
  28. Sheol, Sheool, Sjeool, Hades, Hell, Grave, Tomb, Sepulchre
  29. Science, belief, denial and visibility 1
  30. Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual
  31. A Ransom for all 1 Eternal tormentAll Souls’ DayI Can’t Believe That (1) … God would send anyone to hell

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Is it true that all Non-Christians today will go to hell

Related

  1. What is the human soul?
  2. On Plotinus and immortality
  3. The dreams of the Manichees and of Servetus, as to the origin of the soul, refuted
  4. It were vain to seek a definition of the soul from philosophers, not one of whom, with the exception of Plato, distinctly maintained its immortality
  5. Duty of Preparing for the Future World: Immortality and Separate State of the Soul: Book Eight- Chapter 1
  6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints
  7. This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and changes the nature of the soul
  8. Is the human soul mortal or immortal?
  9. Immortal Soul
  10. River myths and the soul
  11. Secret Principles of Immortality, Edition 25
  12. All Soul’s Day, All Saint’s Day, and Day of the Dead
  13. Are there degrees of punishment in hell?
  14. J. W. Hanson on Gehenna
  15. There Is No Hell, Look It Up
  16. Are Near Death Experiences or Out of Body Experiences Biblical?
  17. Fantastic Article Proving that Hell = Complete Annihilation, Not Eternal Torment

Matthew 10:24-31 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Do Not Fear – Preach!

Matthew 10:24-31 – Do Not Fear – Preach!

|| Mark 4:22; Luke 12:2-9

MT10:24 “A disciple[1] is not above the teacher nor a slave above his Master. MT10:25 It is satisfactory if the disciple becomes like his teacher,[2] and the slave like his Master. If they call the lord of the house ‘Beelzebul,’[3] how much more those of the household. MT10:26 So, you should not fear them.[4] For there is nothing concealed[5] which will not be revealed,[6] and nothing hidden[7] which will not become known. MT10:27 What I tell you in the dark, tell in the light; and, what your ear hears, preach on the housetops.[8] MT10:28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul.[9] Rather, continue to fear the One capable of destroying[10] both soul and body in Gehenna.[11] MT10:29 Are not two sparrows[12] sold for an assarion?[13] And not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s [awareness].[14] MT10:30 The very hairs of your head are numbered.[15] MT10:31 So, do not be afraid. You differ [greatly] from many sparrows.[16]

[1] Disciple: The Greek is MATHETES from which the English “mathematics” comes. Though “disciple” is related to “discipline” or that great effort to learn math. The word “Disciple” occurs 76 times in Matthew, 46 times in Mark, 38 times in Luke, 79 times in John, and 30 times in Acts. The word occurs nowhere else in the Christian Bible. No woman is ever called a “disciple” until Tabitha (Dorcas).

[2] Disciple becomes like his teacher: Jesus’ main point is that the disciples can expect to be condemned and spoken against during their work. This should not surprise them because the same is happening to their Teacher. They become like their Teacher in sharing his abuse and reproach.

[3] Beelzebul: Possibly a cryptic name for Satan meaning “Lord (owner) of Dung” or “Lord (owner) of Flies.” The contemptuous designation occurs as an accusation against the Nazarene at Matthew 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15, 18. Compare 2 Kings 1:2.

[4] Not fear them: Courage is an absolutely necessity for a disciple of the Nazarene. Jesus knows that some households and some towns will not accept or receive the disciples well. He knows they are likely to call his apostles names. Note what he had told them in his Mountain Teachings (Matthew 5:10-12). Fear is a tool of the Devil.

[5] Concealed: Those who speak evil against the disciples will be exposed in the Judgment (Matthew 12:36). Secret slander will finally be revealed.

[6] Revealed: The Greek is APOKALYPSTHESETAI. Compare Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; 1 Corinthians 4:5; John 3:19-21. Imagine the evil talk which has gone on throughout the centuries as inquisitors plotted to entrap or accuse innocent Christians?

[7] Hidden: The Greek is CRYPTON. PME: nor any thing private which will not be made public.

[8] Tell in the light; and, what your ear hears, preach on the housetops: Jesus often spoke to his disciples in private (Matthew 17:19; 20:17; 24:3; Mark 4:34; 6:31; 7:33; 9:28; 13:3). He wants his disciples to preach these things. Compare Luke 12:3. NEB: you must repeat in broad daylight; BAS: what comes to your ear secretly; MOF: what you hear in a whisper.

[9] Are unable to kill the soul: This verse is viewed by some to prove the soul is immortal and continues to exist after death. Jesus possibly has in mind the future life as a spirit person. He is saying: while your persecutors may kill you physically, they cannot destroy your True Life. Compare Luke 12:4; 21:19. The Greek for soul here is PSYCHEN and between the Jewish Greek Bible (LXX) and the Christian Bible occurs about 1,000 times. Of these over 100 state the soul is mortal and destructible. Not once is the soul ever stated to be immortal as in the Platonic idea. See commentaries and dictionaries under “soul.”

[10] The One capable of destroying: That is The God. Note that Jesus says the soul is mortal and destructible.

[11] Gehenna: Some render the Greek GEHENNE as hell (KJV), the pit (GDSP), the fires of destruction (PME). See notes on Matthew 5:22. Gehenna is a symbol of eternal destruction and called “Second Death” in Revelation 20:14, 15.

[12] Sparrows: On another occasion Jesus uses five sparrows. The Greek allows for any small bird. Such birds were sold for a penny, roasted over a spit (Light From the Ancient East, by A. Deissmann, 1965, pp. 273, 274).

[13] Assarion: A Roman coin about a half-penny. The widow’s LEPTON was ten times less. One-sixteenth of a denarius. KJV: a farthing; ASV: a penny.

[14] Father’s [awareness]: The literal Greek is not one falls without your Father. TCNT: without your Father’s knowledge; BECK: with your Father’s permission. Jesus teaches how sensitive and aware the Life Source of the Universe is. Some Christians loose every bit of self-worth or self-esteem. This thought ought to encourage any that just as God notes the birds, He is well aware of our own plights. Compare 1 Peter 5:7.

[15] Hairs of your head are numbered: Compare Luke 12:7. Or, KNX: he takes every hair of your head into his reckoning. Some estimate the average head of hair to include about 100,000. The hair of the head is used metamorphicly in the Bible (1 Samuel 14:45; 2 Samuel 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52; Psalm 40:12; 69:4; Luke 21:18; Acts 27:34).

[16] You differ [greatly] from many sparrows: KJV: you are of more value than many sparrows; WEY: you are more precious than a multitude of sparrows

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Preceding

Matthew 10:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Twelve Given Authority

Matthew 10:1-4 – Calling of the apostles – by Calvin

Matthew 10:5-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus’ Orders: Territory, Theme, Trust

Matthew 10:11-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for the Sheep

Matthew 10:16-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sent Forth as Sheep among Wolves

Be strong

Matthew 8:28-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Demon-possessed of the Gadarenes

Matthew 8:28-34 – The Demon-possessed of the Gadarenes

|| Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-37

MT8:28 When Jesus reached the other shore in the country of the Gadarenes[1] two demon-possessed [men] came out from among the memorial tombs[2] to met him. These [demoniacs] were unusually fierce and no one had the strength or courage to travel through that way. MT8:29 And, look! they shrieked, yelling, “What? – to us and you,[3] Son of The God? Did you come here to torment[4] us before the appointed time?”[5] MT8:30 (Far away from them was a feeding herd of swine.)[6] MT8:31 So, the demons entreated him, saying, “If you are going to exorcise us, send us into the herd of swine.” MT8:32 Jesus said to them, “Off with you!” Those exorcised went away into the swine; and, look! the entire herd ran down the precipice into the sea and they died in the waters. MT8:33 But those pasturing the herd fled into the city reporting everything involving the demon-possessed [men]. MT8:34 And, look! the entire city came out to confront Jesus and when they saw him they entreated him to leave their area.

[1] Gadarenes: Called “country of the Gerasenes” in other mss and Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26.

[2] Memorial tombs: The Greek is MNEMEION and could be rendered “memorium” but generally rendered “tombs” and “burial places.” The same word occurs at John 5:28.

[3] What? – to us and you: A Hebraic phrase of disdain or contempt. It is variously rendered: NWT: what have we to do with you; RHM: what have we in common with thee; TCNT: what do you want with us; LAM: what business have we together; KNX: why dost thou meddle with us. Jesus used the same language with his mother when she appeared to either direct him or insist he perform a miracle (John chapter 2).

[4] Torment: The Greek is BASANISAI and though it is generally rendered this way as well as “torture” (GDSP) the idea is one of “punishment.” One may compare its use in the Jewish Greek LXX Ezekiel 32:24, 27, 30 where it is used of buried soldiers and their armament. The word group occurs 20 times in the Christian Bible. Regarding Matthew 18:34, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia states: “Probably the imprisonment itself was regarded as ‘torment’ (as it doubtless was), and the ‘tormentors’ need mean nothing more than jailers.” (Edited by J. Orr, 1960, Vol. V, p. 2999)

[5] Before the appointed time: These demons were not then being tormented in some hell-fire. Their ultimate punishment will be “everlasting cutting off” in what Revelation calls “Second Death.” (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14)

[6] Herd of swine: Jews were forbidden pork and raising them violated the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8). Compare the following regarding Jews and pork (Isaiah 65:4; 66:17; 1 Maccabees 1:63 and 2 Maccabees 6:18, 19; 7:1, 2). The Non-Jews consider pork a delicacy and doubtless these swine-herders sold their product to these.

The demons began to entreat Jesus saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And Jesus said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters.

+

Preceding

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 4:23-25 – Kingdom Preaching and Healing Draws Crowds

Matthew 8:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus a Miracle-working Son of God

Matthew 8:5-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Servant of Army Officer Healed

Matthew 8:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-law

Matthew 8:18-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Two Would-be Followers

Matthew 8:23-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Calms a Stormy Sea

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Further reading

  1. Matthew 8:28-34
  2. Matthew 8:23-24 … bay of Pigs
  3. Escaping the Fear Factor
  4. August 13, 2017 The Gadarene Demoniac
  5. 6th Sunday of Luke: The Gadarene Demoniac
  6. Day 127 – the Gerasene Demoniac
  7. 14th October: Mark 4:1-6:13
  8. How could they not know?
  9. Meditation: Matthew 8:28-34
  10. Thoughts to Ponder from Amos 5:14-15, 21-24 and Matthew 8:28-34
  11. Maybe It’s All in the Telling
  12. Go then …
  13. What if people don’t want Jesus as king? (Matthew 8:28-34)
  14. Inconvenient Christianity
  15. Second Death (New heaven on earth)
  16. The Second Death: The Lake Of Fire And Brimstone

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

|| Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:7-11, 15-18

MT3:7 When John saw many Pharisees[1] and Sadducees[2] coming to the baptism he said to them: “Generation of vipers, who showed you how to flee from the coming wrath? MT3:8 Therefore, produce fruitage[3] worthy of repentance. MT3:9 Do not be presumptuous[4] and tell yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father!’ I tell you that the God[5] is able to raise up Abrahamic children from these stones! MT3:10 The ax is already lying at the root of the trees. So every tree not producing good fruit[6] will be cut down and thrown in a fire. MT3:11 True, I baptize you people in water because of your repentance, but there is One who comes after me[7] – I am not worthy to remove his sandals – he will baptize in holy Pneuma[8] [Isaiah 44:3] as well as with fire.[9] MT3:12 That One’s winnowing shovel is in his hand and he will completely clean up his threshing floor[10] and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up in an inextinguishable fire.”[11]


[1] Pharisees: The name means “Separated Ones” and occurs 87 times: Matthew, 29, Mark, 12, Luke, 20, John, 20, Acts, 6. A prominent Jewish sect described by Josephus: “And so great is their influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest, they immediately gain credence.” [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 288 (x, 5)] “They believe that souls have power to survive death and that there are rewards and punishments under the earth for those who have led lives of virtue or vice: eternal imprisonment is the lot of evil souls, while the good souls receive an easy passage to a new life.” (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 14 [i, 3]) “Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment.… [They] attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate co-operates.” [The Jewish War, II, 162, 163 (viii, 14)] Nicodemas was a Pharisee (John 3:1, 2; 7:47-52; 19:39). Paul was a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5).

[2] Sadducees: The name occurs 16 times (Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 293 [x, 6]; XIII, 172, 173 [v, 9]) They did not believe in angels or the resurrection. They appealed to the wealthy. Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 298 (x, 6); XVIII, 16, 17 (i, 4); The Jewish War, II, 162-166 (viii, 14).

[3] Fruitage: True repentance (a change of mind; a sorrow because of sin) must be accompanied with some evidence of such. Paul lists some identifying fruitage (2 Corinthians 7:10, 11).

[4] Presumptuous: See Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

[5] The God: The Greek is HO THEOS.

[6] Fruit: Compare John 15:2, 6. Twice John has exhorted these Jews to produce fruitage consistent with true repentance.

[7] One who comes after me: That is, the Messiah

[8] Baptize in holy Pneuma: Possibly an allusion to Isaiah 44:3.

[9] Fire: The Jews have two choices, that is two baptisms: spirit or the fire of destruction. See the next verse regarding this fire.

[10] Threshing floor: Possibly an illusion to Isaiah 41:15, 16.

[11] Inextinguishable fire: Or, KJV: unquenchable; WMS: fire that can never be put out. A metaphor for everlasting destruction as in the case of the Second Death (Revelation 20:13, 14).

+

Connecting articles:

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:41-50 – Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple + Luke 2:51-52 – Jesus continued to be in subjection to his parents

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

James Tissot's John and the Pharisees

James Tissot’s John and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

++

  1. On the Nature of Christ
  2. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  3. Jesus begotten Son of God #11 Existence and Genesis Raising up
  4. Repentance and conversion are not milestones which we pass on the way of life and never see again
  5. Looking for True Spirituality 5 Fruitage of the Spirit
  6. Why do we need a ransom?
  7. Leaving behind the lives we have touched.
  8. Dying or not
  9. What happens when we die?
  10. Decomposition, decay – vergaan, afsterven, ontbinding
  11. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  12. Knowing where to go
  13. Two states of existence before God
  14. The one who makes us well and gives life
  15. The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ
  16. We will all be changed
  17. Rebirth and belonging to a church
  18. Baptism
  19. Were Apostles baptised
  20. True Hope
  21. Epitome of the one faith
  22. Our relationship with God, Jesus and eachother

+++

  • John the Baptist and the Pharisees (travismikhailblog.wordpress.com)
    John’s baptism differed from sacramental Baptism, which confers forgiveness and the regenerating grace of justifying faith (Acts 2:38). His was a visible token of repentance and preparation for the Messiah (cf. Is 1:16; Heb9:10; CCC 718).

    with water: John administered a baptism by water alone as a sign of purification. But as was shown in Noah’s day, water alone cannot cleanse the soul; the sinfulness of man’s heart remained unchanged even after the flood (Gen 6:5; 8:21). Only the Sacrament of Baptism infuses the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5) and marks one’s adoption into God’s family (28:19) (CCC 1265).
    with fire: A symbol of God and his purifying judgment (Deut 4:24; Sir 2:5; Is 4:3-5; Acts 2:3-4; CCC 696).
  • Letting the Light In – 4th Sunday of Advent (thewannabesaint.com)
    John’s ministry is in contrast to Jesus’, although their central message, “Repent for the kingdom is near,” appears identical. John remains in the wilderness, calling men and women to come out to him. Jesus seems to seek out crowded cities and synagogues. John sternly requires his followers to repent and to be baptized, to lead an acetic life. Jesus says; “follow me” or do as you see me do.
  • The yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (asicansee.wordpress.com)
    Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
  • In those days: some notes (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    Matthew 3:7 many of the Pharisees and Sadducees: the former were marked by devotion to the law, written and oral, and the scribes, experts in the law, belonged predominantly to this group. The Sadducees were the priestly aristocratic party, centered in Jerusalem. They accepted as scripture only the first five books of the Old Testament, followed only the letter of the law, rejected the oral legal traditions, and were opposed to teachings not found in the Pentateuch, such as the resurrection of the dead. Matthew links both of these groups together as enemies of Jesus (Matthew 16:1, 6, 11, 12; cf Mark 8:11-13, 15). The threatening words that follow are addressed to them rather than to “the crowds” as in Luke 3:7. coming to his baptism: the phrase is ambiguous. It can also be translated as “coming against baptism.” Some older translations read “coming to watch his baptism;” however, there is no verb indicating a “watching” activity. vipers: a genus of snakes prevalent in wilderness areas. The term is used metaphorically for evil or evil people (cf.  Mt 12:34; 23:3). The accusatory description of the Pharisees and Sadducees as an evil “brood of vipers” is twice echoed by Jesus (12:34; 23:33, cf. Gen 3:1; Ps 58:4).   the coming wrath: the judgment that will bring about the destruction of unrepentant sinners.
  • In those days: John the Baptist (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    A new section of Matthew begins at Mt 3:1. From Jesus’ infancy we jump several decades in time.  Without warning or preparation, John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching not (as in Mark 1:4) a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” but rather repentance, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). This is also different than Luke’s gospel in which we follow the story of Zechariah, Elizabeth and their son John (Lk 1); we are not told of the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth – hence there is no announced family relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus.
  • He is Always Coming to Us – A Sermon on Matthew 3:13-17 (interruptingthesilence.com)
    Jesus’ baptism sets before us a choice. We can either prevent or consent, closing or opening ourselves, to the baptism of Jesus. The issue is not Jesus’ coming to us. The issue is our preventing or consenting to his coming. Our work then is to always move from preventing to consenting. That is our repentance just as it was for John.
  • December 8 (stmarkssa.wordpress.com)
    repentance is all about change, to go beyond where we are and open ourselves to transformation. This requires time apart from my cultural context and examination of my motives and areas of my life needing change. To live in or return to the kingdom of God, requires growth and transformation by God’s love, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Second Sunday of Advent 8.12.13 Matthew 3.1-12 (preachersfriend.wordpress.com)
    Hand Questions

    1. What could active, positive repentance mean in your life?
    2. What’s to prevent you from changing any habits of life that distance you from God or neighbour?
    3. Are you ready for the baptism of Holy Spirit and fire?
  • Getting ready for Advent 2 (revdavidyonker.wordpress.com)
    The first thing that John the Baptist says is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  People were coming to him from Jerusalem and Judea, all around the region of the Jordan (both urban and rural places).  They were coming to confess their sins and be baptized.

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