Rich Man Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

A Study That Reveals The Truth Of This Little-Understood Story

In dealing with these Scriptures and the subject of the so-called "intermediate state," it is important that we should confine ourselves to the Word of God and not go to Tradition. Yet, when nine out of ten believe what they have learned from Tradition, we have a thankless task so far as pleasing man is concerned. We might give our own ideas as to the employment, etc., of the "departed," and man would deal leniently with us. But let us only put God's Revelation against man's imagination, and then we shall be made to feel his wrath and experience man's opposition.

Claiming, however, to have as great a love and jealousy for the Word of God as any of our brethren; and as sincere a desire to find out what God says and what God means: we claim also the sympathy of all our fellow members of The Body of Christ. There are several matters to be considered before we can reach the Scripture concerning the rich man and Lazarus or arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to the State after death. It will be well for us to remember that all such expressions as "Intermediate State," "Church Triumphant," and others similar to them are unknown to Scripture. We have inherited them from Tradition and have accepted them without thought or examination.

Putting aside, therefore, all that we have thus been taught, let us see what God actually does reveal to us in Scripture concerning man, in life, and in death; and concerning the state and condition of the dead.

Psalm 146:4 declares of man,
"His breath goeth forth,
He returneth to his earth;
In that very day his thoughts perish".

God is here speaking of "Man"; not of some part of man, but of "princes," any "man" or any "son of man" (Psalm 146:3), i.e., any and every human being begotten or born of human parents.

There is not a word about "disembodied man." No such expression is to be found in the Scriptures! The phrase is man's own invention in order to make this and other scriptures agree with his tradition. This Scripture speaks of "man" as man. "His breath"; "he returneth"; "his thoughts." It is an unwarrantable liberty to put "body" when the Holy Spirit has put "man." The passage says nothing about the "body." It is whatever has done the thinking. The "body" does not think. The "body," apart from the spirit, has no "thoughts." Whatever has had the "thoughts" has them no more, and this is "man." If this were the only statement in Scripture on the subject, it would be sufficient. But there are many others.

There is Eccl. 9:5, which declares that "The dead know not anything." This also is so clear that there could be no second meaning. "The dead" are the dead; they are those who have ceased to live, and if the dead do or can know anything, then words are useless for the purpose of revelation. The word "dead" here is used in the immediate context as the opposite of "the living," e.g.:

"The living know that they shall die,
But the dead know not anything".

It does not say dead bodies know not anything but "the dead," i.e., dead people, who are set in contrast with "the living." As one of these "living" David says, by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 146:2; Psalm 140:33):

"While I live will I praise the Lord:
I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being".

There would be no praising the Lord after he had ceased to "live." Nor would there be any singing of praises after he had ceased to "have any being." Why? because "princes" and "the son of man" are helpless (Psalm 146:3-4). They return to their earth, and when they die, their "thoughts perish,": and they "know not anything".

This is what God says about death. He explains it to us Himself. We need not therefore ask any man what it is. And if we did, his answer would be valueless, inasmuch as it is absolutely impossible for him to know anything of death, i.e., the death state, beyond what God has told us in the Scriptures. We are obliged to use the word "death" for the state of death, as we have no noun in English to express the act of dying (as German has in the word "sterbend"). This is unfortunate and has been the cause of much error and confusion.

We find the answer is just as clear and decisive in Psalm 104:29-30:

"Thou takest away their breath (Heb. spirit), they die, And return to their dust:
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: And thou renewest the face of the earth".

With this agrees Eccl. 12:7, in which we have a categorical statement as to what takes place at death:

"Then shall the dust RE-turn to the earth as it was:
And the spirit shall RE-turn unto God who gave it".

The "dust" was, and will again be "dust,": but nothing is said in Scripture as to the spirit apart from the body, either before their union, which made man "a living soul", or after that union is broken, when man becomes what Scripture calls "a dead soul".

Where Scripture is silent, we may well be silent too: and, therefore, as to the spirit and its possibilities between dying and Resurrection, we have not said, and do not say anything. Scripture says it will "return To GOD." We do not go beyond this; nor dare we contradict it by saying, with Tradition, that it goes to Purgatory or to Paradise; or with Spiritualism, that it goes elsewhere.

The prayer in 1 Thess. 5:23 is that these three (body, soul, and spirit) may be found and "preserved ENTIRE . . . at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (R.V.): i.e., preserved alive as a "living soul" till (or "at") that coming, and not to die and be separated before it. Hence the importance of the Resurrection as the great doctrine peculiar to Christianity; and known only by revelation. All man's religions end at death, and his only hope is "after death." Christianity goes beyond this and gives Hope after the grave. Scripture opens us up to The Blessed Hope of being reunited in Resurrection. This is why the death of believers is so often called "sleep"; and dying is called "falling asleep"; because of the assured Hope of awakening in Resurrection. It is not called "the sleep of the body," as many express it, or "the sleep of the soul" Scripture knows nothing of either expression. Its language is, "David fell on sleep" (Acts 13:36), not David's body or David's soul. "Stephen... fell asleep" (Acts 7:60). "Lazarus sleepeth" (John 11:11), which is explained, when the Lord afterward speaks "plainly", meaning "Lazarus is dead" (John 11:14).

Now, when the Holy Spirit uses one thing to describe or explain another, He does not choose the opposite word or expression. If He speaks of night, He does not use the word light. If He speaks of daylight, He does not use the word night. He does not put "sweet for bitter, and bitter for sweet" (Isaiah 5:20). He uses adultery to illustrate Idolatry; He does not use virtue. And so, if He uses the word "sleep" of death, it is because sleep illustrates to us what the condition of death is like. If Tradition is the truth, He ought to have used the word awake or wakefulness. But the Lord first uses a Figure and says, "Lazarus sleepeth,"; and afterwards, when he speaks "plainly," He says, "Lazarus is dead". Why? Because sleep expresses and describes the condition of the "unclothed" state. In normal sleep, there is no consciousness. For the Lord, therefore, to have used the word "sleep" to represent the very opposite condition of conscious wakefulness would have been, indeed, to mislead us. But all His words are perfect; and are used for the purpose of teaching us, and not for leading us astray.

Traditionalists, however, who say that death means life, do not hesitate to say also that to "fall asleep" means to wake up! A friend vouches for a case, personally known to him, of one who (though a firm believer in tradition) was, through a fall, utterly unconscious for two weeks. Had he died during that period, Traditionalists would, we presume, say that the man woke up and returned to consciousness when he died! But, if this be so, what does it mean when it says,

"I will behold thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I Awake with thy likeness"?

If death is a waking up, what is the waking in this verse (Psalm 17:15)? Surely it is resurrection, which is the very opposite of falling asleep in death. Indeed, this is why sleep is used for the Lord's people. To them, it is like going to sleep; for when they are raised from the dead, they will surely wake again according to the promise of the Lord; and they shall awake in His own likeness.

And if we ask what life is, the answer from God is given in Gen. 2:7.

"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".

So that the body apart from the spirit cannot be the man, and the spirit apart from the body is not the man, but it is the union of the two that makes "a living soul." When two separate things, having different names, are united, they often receive and are known by a third name, different from both. Not that they are three separate things, but two united in one, which makes a third thing, and receives another or third name. For example, there is the barrel, and there is the stock, but together, they form and are called a Rifle. Neither is the Rifle separately. Oxygen and Hydrogen are two separate and distinct elements, but when they are united, we call them Water. Also, we have the case and the works, but together, they form what we call a Watch; neither is the Watch separately.

The Hebrew is (NEPHESH CHAIYAH) soul of life or living soul. What it really means can be known only by observing how the Holy Spirit Himself uses it. In this very Chapter (Gen. 2:19), it is used of the whole animate creation generally; and is rendered "living creature".

Four times it is used in the previous Chapter (Gen. 1.):

In Gen. 1:20, it is used of "fishes" and is translated as "moving creature that hath life."

In Gen. 1:21, it is used for the great sea monsters and is translated as "living creature."

In Gen. 1:24, it is used of "cattle and beasts of the earth" and is again rendered a "living creature."

In Gen. 1:30, it is used for every beast of the earth, and every fowl of the air and everything that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is (i.e., "to" which there is) life. Margin "Heb. living soul".

Four times in Chapter 9, it is also rendered a "living creature" and is used for "all flesh."

See Gen. 9:10, Gen. 9:12, Gen. 9:15, Gen. 9:16.

Twice in Leviticus 11 it is used:

In Lev. 11:10, of all fishes, and is rendered "living thing."

In Lev. 11:46 of all beasts, birds, and fishes, and is translated as "living creature."

Only once (Gen. 2:7) when it is used of man, has it been translated as "living soul" - as though it there meant something quite different altogether.

The Translators could accurately have used one rendering for all these passages and thus enable Bible students to learn what God teaches on this important subject.

This, then, is God's answer to our question, What is life? The teaching of Scripture is (as we have seen) that man consists of two parts: body and spirit, and that the union of these two makes a third thing, which is called "soul" or "living soul." Hence the word "soul" is used for the whole personality, the living 'organism,' e.g., Gen. 12:5, "Abram took Sarai his wife. . . and the souls (i.e. the persons) whom they had gotten in Haran". Gen. 36:6, "And Esau took his wives . . . and all the persons (marg. Heb. souls) of his house". So Gen. 46:15 and Gen. 46:26, "All the souls (i.e., persons) which came with Jacob into Egypt". As persons, souls have "blood" Jer. 2:34, "In thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents." The Hebrew word NEPHESH (soul) is actually translated as "person" in Gen. 14:21; Gen. 36:6; Exo. 16:16; Lev. 27:2; Num. 5:6; Num. 31:19; Num. 35:11; Num. 35:15; Num 35:30 (twice); Deut. 10:22; Deut. 27:25; Josh. 20:3; Josh. 20:9; 1 Sam. 22:22; 2 Sam. 14:14; Prov. 28:17; Jer. 43:6; Jer. 52:29-30; Ezek. 16:5; Ezek. 17:17; Ezek. 27:13; Ezek. 33:6.

Hence, the Lord Jesus says, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (i.e., the 'personality' but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body (i.e., the whole personality) in hell" (Greek, Gehenna not Hades) (Matt. 10:28).

Hence, souls (as persons) are said to be destroyed: Lev. 5:1-2; Lev. 5:4; Lev. 5:15; Lev. 5:17; Lev. 6:2; Lev. 17:11-12; Lev. 33:30; Num. 15:30. See also Joshua 10:20; Josh. 10:30; Josh. 10:32; Josh. 10:35; Josh. 10:37; Josh. 10:39.

The soul, being the person, is said to be bought and sold. See Lev. 22:11 and Rev. 18:13, where the word "soul" is used for slaves.

Hence, also, when the body returns to dust and the spirit returns to God, the person is called a "dead soul," i.e., a dead person. That is why it says in Ezek. 18:4, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die"; and Psalm 78:50, "He spared not their soul from death." What "the breath of life" is in Gen. 2:7 is explained to us in Gen. 7:22, where we read that everything died, "all in whose nostrils was the breath of life." Margin, "Heb. the breath of the spirit of life", is a still stronger expression and is used for the whole animate creation that died in the Flood.

But such are the exigencies of Traditionalists that in thirteen passages where the Hebrew word "NEPHESH" (soul) refers to a dead soul, such reference is hidden from the English reader by the Translators. Nephesh is actually rendered "Body" in Lev. 21:11; Num. 6:6; Num. 19:11; Num. 19:13; Haggai 2:13. "Dead Body" in Num. 9:6-7; Num. 9:10. And "The Dead" in Lev. 19:28; Lev. 21:1; Lev. 22:4; Num. 5:2; Num. 6:11. In none of these passages is there a word in the margin of either the A.V. or R.V. to indicate that the translators are thus rendering the Hebrew word NEPHESH (soul).

Again, SHEOL is the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for the grave or death-state, and Hades is the corresponding Greek word for it in the New Testament. It is Hades in Luke 16:23 and not Gehenna, which means hell.

The Scriptures are also positive and 'numerous, which declare that "Hades," where the Rich Man is said to be "buried," is always represented as a place of silence. "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge in the grave (Heb. SHEOL) whither thou goest" (Ecc. 9:10). But the rich man, here, was making devices based on his knowledge. Of those who are there, it is written, "Their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun" (Ecc. 9:6). But the rich man is represented as having "love" for his brethren; and as having a "portion" in what is being done on earth.

Psalm 6:5 declares that;

"In death there is no remembrance of thee'
In the grave (Heb. SHEOL) who shall give thee thanks?"

Psalm 31:17,

"Let them be silent in the grave" (Heb. SHEOL).

Psalm 115:17,

"The dead praise not the Lord;
Neither any that go down into silence".

The Scriptures everywhere speak of the dead as destitute of knowledge or speech;

Psalms 30:9,

"What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit?
Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?"

Psalms 88:11,

"Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
or thy faithfulness in destruction?"

Isaiah 38:18,

"For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee:
they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth."

Isaiah 38:19,

"The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day:
the father to the children shall make known thy truth."

and as knowing nothing till The Resurrection. If these Scriptures are to be believed (as they most surely are), then it is clear that the teaching of Tradition is not true, which says that death is not death, but only life in some other form.

Hades means the 'grave' (Heb. SHEOL): not in Heathen mythology, but in the Word of God. It was in Hades the Lord Jesus was put: for "He was buried." As to His Spirit, He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit" (Luke 23:46). And as to His body, it was "laid in a sepulcher". Of this burial, He says (Psalm 16:9):

"Thou wilt not leave my soul (i.e., me. myself) in SHEOL (or Hades),
Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption".

These two lines are strictly parallel, and the second expands and explains the first. Hence, SHEOL (Greek, Hades) is the place where "corruption" is seen. And resurrection is the only way of exit from it. This is made perfectly clear by the Divine commentary on the passage in the New Testament. We read in Acts 2:31: "He (David) seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul (i.e., He) was not left in Hades; neither his flesh did see corruption." To make it still more clear, it is immediately added and expressly stated that "David has not yet ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:34) and therefore had not been raised from the dead. Note it does not say David's body, but David himself. This is another proof that Resurrection is the only way of entrance into heaven.

But this passage (Psalm 16:10) is again referred to in Acts 13:34-37, and here we have the same important lesson re-stated: "And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he saith . . . thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption .... For David fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption. But he whom God raised again saw no corruption". He saw it not because He was raised from the dead and thus brought out of the Sepulcher, where He had been "buried." This is the teaching of the Word of God. It knows nothing whatever of a "descent into hell" as separate, and distinct, from His burial. That is tradition, pure and simple. Not one of the Ancient Creeds of the Church knew anything of it. Up to the seventh century, they all said "And was buried" and nothing more. But the Creed used in the Church of Aquileia (A.D. 400), instead of saying "buried" had the words "he descended into hell," but only as an equivalent for "he was buried." This was, of course, quite correct.

These are the words of Bishop Pearson (Exposition of the Creed. Fourth Ed. 1857, pp. 402-3):

"I observe that in the Aquileian Creed, where this article was first expressed, there was no mention of Christ's burial; but the words of their Confession ran thus, crucified under Pontius Pilate, he descended in inferna. From whence there is no question but the observation of Ruffinus (fl. 397), who first expounded it, was most true, that though the Roman and Oriental Creeds had not these words, yet they had the sense of them in the word buried. It appears, therefore, that the first intention of putting these words in the Creed was only to express the burial of our Savior, or the descent of his body into the grave. In a note he adds that "the same may be observed in the Athanasian Creed, which has the descent, but not the Sepulchre (i.e. the burial) .... Nor is this observable only in these two, but also in the Creed made at Sirmium, and produced at Ariminum" (A.D. 359).

By the incorporation of the words "he descended into hell" in the "Apostles' Creed" and the retention of the word "buried," Tradition obtained an additional "article of faith" quite distinct from the fact of the Lord's burial. This is not a matter of opinion but a matter of history. Not only are these historical facts vouched for by Bishop Pearson but by Archbishop Ussher and, in more recent times, by the late Bishop Harold-Browne in his standard work on the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Those who have been brought up on "The Apostles' Creed" naturally read this spurious additional article, "he descended into hell," into Luke 23:43 and 1 Peter 3:19, and of course, find it difficult to believe that those passages have nothing whatever to do with that "descent." They are thus led into the serious error of substituting man's tradition for God's revelation. This tradition about "the descent into hell" led directly to a misunderstanding of 1 Peter 3:17-22. But note:

(1) There is not a word about "hell" or Hades in the passage.

(2) The word "spirit," by itself, is never used, without qualification, of man in any state or condition, But it is constantly used of angels, of whom it is said, "He maketh his angel's spirits"; i.e., they are spiritual beings, while a man is a human being.

(3) In spite of these being "in-prison spirits," they are taken to refer to men, notwithstanding that in the next Epistle (2 Pet. 2:4), we read of "the angels that sinned," and of their being "cast down to Tartarus (not Hades or Gehenna), and delivered into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment''. These angels are again mentioned in connection with Noah and are thus identified with the spirits (or angels) in 1 Pet. 3:19, who were also disobedient "in the days of Noah." We read further what their sin was in Jude 1:6-7, which can be understood only by reference to Gen. 6:1-4. Here again, we read of these angels being "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." It is surprising that in the face of these two passages (2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 1:6-7), which speak of angels (or spirits) being "in chains," anyone should ever have interpreted the "in-prison spirits" of 1 Pet. 3:19 as referring to human beings!

(4) Moreover. the word "preached" does not, by itself, refer to the preaching of the Gospel. It is not "evangelize", which would be euangelizo. But it is kerusso to proclaim as a herald, to make a proclamation, and the context shows that this paragraph about Christ is intended as an encouragement. It begins with 1 Pet 3:17: "For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing. For Christ also suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God". Then it goes on to explain that as Christ suffered for well-doing and not for evil-doing, they were to do the same, and if they did, they would have, like Him, a glorious triumph. For though He was put to death in the flesh, yet He was made alive again (1 Cor. 15:4.) in spirit (i.e., in a spiritual body, 1 Cor. 15:44): and in this, He made such proclamation of His triumph, even to Tartarus, and was heard there by the angels reserved in chains unto judgment. Never mind, therefore, if you are called to suffer. You will have a like glorious triumph."

No other explanation of this passage takes in the argument of the context; or complies with the strict requirements of the original text. Thus the support for the tradition about Christ's "descent into hell," as distinct from His being buried, vanishes from the Scriptures. Eph. 4:9 also speaks of the Lord's descent "into the lower parts of the earth" before His ascension "on high." But this word "of" here is what is called the genitive of apposition, by which "of the earth" explains what is meant by "the lower parts" and should be rendered "the lower parts," that is to say "the earth." For example: "the temple of his body" means "the temple," that is to say, "his body" (John 2:21). "A sign of circumcision" means "a sign," that is to say "circumcision" (Romans 4:11). "The firstfruits of the Spirit" means "the firstfruits," that is to say "the Spirit" (Romans 8:23). "The earnest of the Spirit" means "the earnest," that is to say "the Spirit" (2 Cor. 5:5). "The bond of peace': means "the bond," which is "peace" (Eph. 4:3). "The breastplate of righteousness" means "the breastplate," which is "righteousness" (Eph. 4:14). So here it should be rendered "He descended into the lower parts (that is to say) the earth". If it means more than this it is not true, for He was "laid in a Sepulchre" and not in a grave in, or below, the Earth: His spirit being commended into the Father's hands. This descension stands in contrast with His ascension - "He that descended is the same also that ascended" (Eph. 4:10). It refers to His descent from heaven in Incarnation and not to any descent as distinct from that or from His burial.

But Tradition is only the handing down of the Old Serpent's lie, which deceived our first parents. God said, "Thou shalt SURELY die" (Gen. 2:17). Satan said, "Thou shalt NOT surely die" (Gen. 3:4). And all Traditionalists and Spiritists agree with Satan in saying, There is no such thing as death: it is only life in some other form.

God speaks of death as an "enemy" (1 Cor. 15:26);

Man speaks of it as a friend.

God speaks of it as a terminus;

Man speaks of it as a gate.

God speaks of it as a calamity;

Man speaks of it as a blessing.

God speaks of it as a fear and a terror;

Man speaks of it as a hope.

God speaks of delivering from it as shewing "mercy";

Man, strange to say, says the same and loses no opportunity to seek such deliverance by using every means in his power.

In Phil. 2:27, we read that Epaphroditus "was sick nigh unto death; but God had mercy on him." So that it was a mercy to preserve Epaphroditus from death, this could hardly be called "mercy" if death were the "gate of glory," according to popular tradition.

In 2 Cor. 1:10-11, it was deliverance of no ordinary kind when Paul himself also was "delivered from so great a death," which called for corresponding greatness of thanksgiving for God's answer to their prayers on his behalf. Moreover, he trusted that God would still deliver him. It is clear from 2 Cor. 5:4 that Paul did not wish for death: for he distinctly says, "not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon (i.e., in resurrection and "change") that mortality might be swallowed up of life"; not of death. This is what he was so "earnestly desiring" (2 Cor. 5:2). True, in Phil. 1:21, Some think Paul spoke of death as "gain," but we may ask, Whose gain? The answer is clear, for the whole context from Phil. 1:12-24 shows that Christ and His cause are the subjects to which he is referring, not himself. Paul's imprisonment had turned out to be for "the furtherance of the Gospel" (Phil 1:12). His death might further it still more and thus prove a "gain" for it. Phil. 1:21 begins with "for" and is given in the explanation of Phil. 1:20.

Hezekiah also had reason to praise God for delivering him from "the king of terrors." It was "mercy" shown to Epaphroditus; it was "a gift" to Paul; it was "love" to Hezekiah. He says (Isa. 38:17-19):

"Thou hast in love to my soul (i.e., to me) delivered it (i.e., me)
from the pit (Heb. BOR, a rock-hewn sepulcher) of corruption.
For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

For the grave (Heb. SHEOL) cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee:
They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day".

On the other hand, the death of Moses was permitted, for it was his punishment; therefore, there was no deliverance for him though he sought it (Deut. 1:37; Deut. 3:23; Deut. 3:27; Deut. 4:21; Deut. 4:22; Deut. 31:2). Surely it could have been no punishment if death is not death; but, as is universally held, the gate of paradise! In Phil. 1:21, death would have been Paul's "gain," for Paul was not on Pisgah but in prison, and it would have been a happy issue out of his then afflictions.

So effectually has Satan's lie succeeded and accomplished its purpose that, though the Lord Jesus said, "I will come again and receive you unto myself," Christendom says, with one voice, "No! Lord. Thou needest not to come for me: I will die and come to Thee". Thus The Blessed Hope of Resurrection and the coming of the Lord have been well nigh blotted out from the belief of the churches, and the promise of the Lord has been made of none effect by the ravages of Tradition. Men may write their books, and a Spiritist may entitle one to "There is no death," etc. They may sing words and expressions that are foreign to the Scriptures about "the church triumphant." They may speak of having "passed on"; about the "home going,"; "the great beyond,"; and the "border-land"; and "beyond the vail"' but against all this we set a special revelation from God, introduced by the prophetic formula, "the Word of the Lord".

"This we say unto you BY THE WORD OF THE LORD,
that we which are alive and remain shall not precede (R.V.)
them which are asleep" (1 Thess. 4:15).

To agree with Tradition, this ought to have been written, "shall not precede them which are already with the Lord." But this would have made nonsense, and there is nothing of that in the Word of God. There are many things in Scripture that are difficult; and hard to understand; there are many Figures of Speech also, but there are no self-contradictory statements such as that would have been.

Moreover, we ought to note that this special Divine revelation was given for the express purpose that we might not be ignorant on this subject, as the heathen and Traditionalists are. This revelation of God's Truth as to the state of the dead is introduced by the noteworthy words in 1 Thess. 4:13: "I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep." Unless, therefore, we know what the Lord has revealed, we must all alike remain "ignorant." What is revealed here "by the Word of the Lord" is

(a) That as the Lord Jesus was brought again from the dead (Heb. 13:20), so will His people be. "If we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so (we believe that) them also which sleep in (R.V. marg. through) Jesus will God bring with him" (i.e., bring again from the dead), even as the Lord Jesus "died and rose again" (1 Thess. 4:14).

(b) That we which are alive and remain till His coming shall not precede those who have fallen on sleep.

(c) And therefore they cannot be with the Lord before us (1 Thess. 4:15).

(d) The first thing to happen will be their Resurrection. They are called "the dead in Christ". Not the living, but "the dead," for Resurrection concerns only "the dead" (1 Thess. 4:16).

(e) The next thing is we, the living, shall be "caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:17). Not (as many people put it) to meet our friends, who are supposed to be already there; but to meet "the Lord Himself" (1 Thess. 4:17).

(f) Finally, it is revealed that this is the manner in which we shall be "with the Lord." The word is houtos thus, so, in this manner and in no other way.

Those who do not know The Truths here given by special Divine revelation have invented other ways of getting there. They say that "death is the gate of glory." God says that the Resurrection and Ascension is the gate. It is the tradition that those who have fallen asleep are already in heaven that has given rise to the idea of "the Church Triumphant." But no such expression can be found in Scripture. Eph. 3:15 is supposed to teach or support it when it speaks of "The whole family in heaven and earth." But it is by no means necessary to translate the words in this way. The R.V. and the American R.V. render them "every family in heaven and earth," so does the A.V. also in Eph. 1:21, where we have the same subject, viz. the giving of names (as onoma onomazo, in both places, means. See Luke 6:13, etc.) to some of these heavenly families, e.g., "principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world, but in that which is to come." It is not "the whole family" that is named, but every family has its own name given to it—a few verses before Eph. 3:15, we have two more of these families, "principalities and powers" (Eph. 3:10). Why then create a new thing altogether by forcing Eph. 3:17 apart from its context? These families in heaven are clearly set in contrast with the family of God on earth. In Eph. 3:10, the earthly family is used as an object lesson to the heavenly family.

Now, these being the positive and clear statements of revelation as to man in life and in death, there are certain passages in the New Testament that seem to speak with a different voice and bear a different testimony. We say advisedly "seem"; for when properly understood and accurately translated, not only is there no difference or opposition to the teaching of the Old Testament, but there is perfect harmony and unity in their testimony. The one corroborates and supports the other. If not, and these New Testament passages do uphold the teachings of Tradition, then quite a different meaning must be given to those passages that we have quoted above from the Old Testament: and Traditionalists must show us how they understand them; and support their interpretations by proofs from the Word of God.

There are five passages which are generally relied on and referred to by Traditionalists, viz.:

(1) Matthew 22:32

"I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."

(2) Luke 23:43

"And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee,
To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

(3) 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

"Therefore we are always confident, knowing that,
whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be
absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

(4) Philippians 1:23

"For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart,
and to be with Christ; which is far better:"

(5) Luke16:19-31

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen,and fared sumptuously every day:

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus,
which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table:
moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the
angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth
Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send
Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my
tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst
thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is
comforted, and thou art tormented.

And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed:
so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can
they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father,
that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them,
lest they also come into this place of torment.

Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets;
let them hear them.

And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them
from the dead, they will repent.

And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

(1) We will deal with them in this order. The first is "The God of the Living" (Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38). In these Scriptures, it is stated that "God is not the God of the dead but of the living". But Traditionalists, believing that the "dead" are "the living," make God the "God of the dead," which He distinctly says He is not. Interpreting the words in this way, they utterly ignore the whole context, which shows that the words refer to THE RESURRECTION and not to the dead at all. Notice how this is emphasized in each Gospel:

(1) "Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no RESURRECTION"  (Matt. 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27).

(2) The one issue raised by the Sadducees was the question,  "Whose wife shall she be in the RESURRECTION?"
(Matt. 22:28; Mark 12:23; Luke 20:33).

(3) The answer of our Lord deals solely with this one issue, which is RESURRECTION. Hence He says:

Matt. 22:31, "as touching the RESURRECTION of the dead."

Mark 12:26, "as touching the dead that they RISE."

Luke 20:38, "now that the dead are RAISED, even Moses showed at the bush,
when he called 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".

These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus in order to prove "that the dead are RAISED." Traditionalists use them to prove that the dead are "living" without being RAISED!

The Sadducees may have denied many other things, but the one and only thing in question here is RESURRECTION. Christ's argument was:

1. God's words at the bush prove a life for the dead patriarchs.

2. But there is no life for the dead without a resurrection.

3. Therefore, they must be RAISED FROM THE DEAD; or "live again" by Him.

This argument held good, for it silenced the Sadducees. For if they are "living" now and not dead, how does that prove a resurrection? and, moreover, what is the difference between them and those who are in "the land of the living"? This is the expression constantly used of the present condition of life in contrast with the state of death.

Psalms 27:13

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness
of the Lord in the land of the living."

Psalms 56:13

"For thou hast delivered my soul from death:
not thou deliver my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of the living?"

Psalms 116:9
"I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living."

Psalms 142:5

"I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said,
Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living."

Jeremiah 11:19

"But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter;
and I knew not that they had devised devices against me,saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us
cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered."

Ezekiel 26:20

"When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit,
with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth,
in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit,
that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;"

In this last passage, the contrast is very pointed, where God speaks of bringing down to death and the grave and setting His glory "in the land of the living."

The argument as to resurrection was so conclusive to the Scribes who heard Him that they said, "Master, thou hast well said. And after that, they durst not ask him any question at all" (Luke 20:39-40).

(2) Luke 23:43: "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise''. This can mean only "Verily I say unto thee this day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise".

In the first place, we must remember that the punctuation is not inspired. It is only of human authority. There is none whatever in the Greek manuscripts. We have, therefore, perfect liberty to criticize and alter man's use of it and to substitute our own. The verb "say," when used with "to-day", is sometimes separated from it by the word hoti that; and sometimes it is joined with it by the absence of hoti. The Holy Spirit uses these words with perfect exactness, and it behooves us to learn what He would thus teach us.

When He puts the word hoti (that) between "say" and "to-day", it throws "to-day" into what is said and cuts it off from the verb "say," e.g., Luke 19:9, "Jesus said.., that (Gr. hoti) this day is salvation come to this house". Here "to-day" is joined with the verb "come" and separated from the verb "I say". So also in Luke 4:21: "And he began to say unto them that (hoti) this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Here again, the presence of (hoti) cuts off "to-day" from "say" and joins it with "fulfilled."

But this is not the case in Luke 23:43. Here, the Holy Spirit has carefully excluded the word (that). How then dare anyone to read the verse as though He had not excluded it, and read it as though it said "I say unto thee, that this day," etc. It is surely adding to the Word of God to insert, or imply the insertion of, the word "that" when the Holy Spirit has not used it, as He has in two other places in this same Gospel (Luke 4:21 and Luke 19:9).

We are now prepared to see that we must translate Luke 23:43 in this manner, "Verily I say to thee this day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise." The prayer was answered. It referred to the future, and so did the promise; for when the Lord shall have come in His Kingdom, the only Paradise the Scripture knows of will be restored. As a matter of fact, the Greek word Paradise occurs in the Septuagint twenty-eight times. Nine times it represents the Hebrew word "Eden," and nineteen times the Hebrew word (GAN) "Garden". In English, it is rendered "Eden," "Garden," "Forest", or "Orchard". The Hebrew word for "Eden" occurs sixteen times. The Hebrew word for "Garden" is used for Eden thirteen times in Genesis alone; and six times in other passages, of "the garden of God", etc. See Gen. 2; Neh. 2:8; Ecc. 2:5; Song 4:13.

From these facts, we learn and notice others:

(1) We see that the three words, Paradise, Eden, and Garden, are used interchangeably, and always, either of the Eden of Gen. 2. or of some glorious park-like beauty which may be compared with it.

(2) It is never used in any other sense than that of an earthly place of beauty and delight.

(3) The "tree of life" and the river of "the water of life" are its great conspicuous characteristics.

(4) We see it

Described in Gen. 2.

Lost in Gen. 3.

Restoration promised in Rev. 2:7.

Regained in Rev. 22:1-5, Rev. 22:14, Rev. 22:17.

Further, we must note that the formula, "I say unto thee this day," was a well-known Hebrew idiom used to emphasize the solemnity of the occasion and the importance of the words. See Deut. 4:26[ Deut. 4:29[ Deut. 4:40; Deut. 5:6; Deut. 6:6; Deut. 7:11; Deut. 8:1[ Deut. 8:11[ Deut. 8:19; Deut. 9:3; Deut. 10:13; Deut. 11:2; Deut. 11:8; Deut. 11:13; Deut. 11:18; Deut. 11:27-28; Deut. 11:32; Deut. 13:18; Deut. 15:5; Deut. 19:9; Deut. 26:3; Deut. 26:17-18; Deut. 27:1; Deut. 27:4; Deut. 27:10; Deut. 28:1; Deut. 28:13-15; Deut. 24:12; Deut. 30:2; Deut. 30:8; Deut. 30:11; Deut. 30:15-16; Deut. 30:18-19; Deut. 32:46. The expression, therefore, "I say unto thee this day", marks the wonderful character of the man's faith, which, under such circumstances, could still believe in and look forward to the coming Kingdom; and acknowledge that Christ was The King, though on that very day He was hanging on the Cross.

(3) The third passage, 2 Cor. 5:6-8, "to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord," was the inspired desire of the Apostle, which could be realized only in The Resurrection. Resurrection (and not death) is the subject of the whole context. These words are generally misquoted "Absent from the body, present with the Lord", as though it said that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. But no such sentence can be found. No less than nine words are deliberately omitted from the context when the quotation is thus popularly made. The omission of these words creates quite a new sense and puts the verse out of all harmony with the context, the object of which is to show that we cannot be "present with the Lord" except by being clothed upon with our Resurrection body our "house which is from heaven."

We might, with equal justice, quote the words "hang all the law and the prophets" and leave out "on these two commandments" (Matt. 22:40); or say "there is no God" and leave out "The fool hath said in his heart" (Psalm 53:1), or say "Ye shall not drink wine", and leave out "Ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but (ye shall not drink wine) of them" (Amos 5:11); or talk about "the restitution of all things" and leave out "which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets" (Acts 3:21).

All these partial quotations are correct so far as the Text is concerned, but what about the Context? The context is, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8).

By omitting the words printed in italics, the sense is entirely changed. Being "at home in the body" in both verses is explained in 2 Cor. 5:3 as being in "this tabernacle," which, in 2 Cor. 5:1, is called "our earthly house of this tabernacle"; and being "present (or at home with) the Lord" is explained in 2 Cor. 5:2 as being "clothed upon with our house which is from heaven". The Apostle distinctly says, on the one hand, that he did not wish to die (2 Cor. 5:4, "not that we would be unclothed"); and on the other hand, he was not merely "willing rather" but "earnestly desiring to be clothed upon" (2 Cor. 5:2). It is true that some years later he did say "to die is gain"; but as we have seen above, the circumstances were very different, for he was then in prison.

(4) This brings us to the expression of Paul's desire in Phil. 1:23. The desire of the Apostle was not "to depart" himself by dying, but his desire was for the return of Christ; the verb rendered "depart" is used elsewhere in the New Testament only in Luke 12:36, where it is rendered "return": "when he shall RETURN from the wedding." May we not fairly ask, Why are we not to translate it in the same way in Phil. 1:23?

The preposition ana again, when compounded with the verb luo to loosen, means to loosen back again to the place from whence the original departure was made, not to set out to a new place; hence, analuo means to loosen back again or to return, and it is so rendered in the only other place where it occurs in the New Testament, Luke 12:36: "when he shall RETURN from the wedding." It does NOT mean to depart, in the sense of setting off from the place where one is, but to return to the place that one has left. The noun analusis occurs in 2 Tim. 4:6 and has the same meaning, returning or dissolution, i.e., the body returning to dust as it was, and the spirit returning to God Who gave it. The verb does not occur in the Greek translation of the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, but it does occur in the Apocryphal books, which, though of no authority in the establishment of doctrine, are invaluable as to the use and meaning of words. In these books, this word always means to return as it is generally translated.

But there is another fact with regard to Phil. 1:23. The English verb depart occurs 130 times in the New Testament; and is used as the rendering of 22 different Greek words. But this one verb analuo occurs only twice and is rendered depart only once; the other occurrence being rendered return, and used by the Lord Himself of His own return from heaven. We must also further note that it is not the simple infinitive of the verb to return. It is a combination of three words: the preposition eis unto, and the definite article to the, with the aorist inference analusai, to return; so that the verb must be translated as a noun -- "having a strong desire unto THE RETURN"; i.e., of Christ, as in Luke 12:36. These words must be interpreted by the context, and from this it is clear that the Apostle's whole argument is that the Gospel might be furthered (Phil. 1:12); and that Christ might be magnified (Phil. 1:20). To this end he cared not whether he lived or died; for, he says, "to me, living (is) Christ, and dying (would be) gain. But if living in the flesh (would be Christ), this (dying) for me, (would be) the fruit of (my) labor. Yet, what I shall choose I wot not, for I am being PRESSED OUT OF these two [i.e. living or dying (Phil. 1:20-21), by a third thing (Phil. 1:23), viz.], having a strong desire unto The RETURN (i.e. of Christ), and to be with Christ, which is a far, far better thing". (The word ek occurs 857 times, and is never once translated "betwixt" except in this place. It is translated "out of" 165 times).

Paul's imprisonment had made many brethren "more abundantly bold" (Phil. 1:12 R.V.) to preach The Gospel. His death might produce still more abundant fruit of his labor; for these brethren were the fruit of his labor (Phil. 1:11; Phil. 4:17; Romans 1:13). Christ would thus be magnified in his body whether Paul lived or died. That was why he did not know what to choose of these three things: Living would be good; for he could himself preach Christ. Dying might be even better and further the preaching of Christ more abundantly, judging by the result of his imprisonment. But there was a third thing, which was far, far better than either, and that was the return of Christ, which he so earnestly desired.

It is for the Traditionalists to show how they deal with these facts. It is not sufficient to say they do not believe in our understanding of these passages: they must show how they dispose of our evidence and must produce their own in support of their own conclusions. Here we have four passages that seem to be opposed to those we have quoted from the Old Testament. Both cannot be true. We must either explain away the Old Testament passages, or we must see whether these four passages admit of other renderings, which remove their apparent opposition. We have suggested these other renderings, based on ample evidence, which not only deprive them of such opposition but show that their teaching is in exact accordance with those other passages.

(5) There remains the fifth passage, Luke 16:19-31, commonly called "the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus" or of "Dives and Lazarus". (If we speak of it sometimes as a Parable, it is not because we hold it to be one of Christ's Parables, especially so-called, but because it partakes of the nature of parabolic teaching.)

It is absolutely impossible that the Traditional interpretation of this can be correct; because if it were, it would be directly opposed to all the other teachings of Scripture. And the Lord's words cannot and must not be so interpreted. If it is Bible truth (as it is) that "the dead know not anything," how could the Lord have taught, and how can we believe that they do know a very great deal? If it is the fact that when a man's "breath goeth forth, in that very day his thoughts perish," how can we believe that he goes on thinking? and not only thinking without a brain but putting his "thoughts" into words and speaking them without a tongue?

When the great subject of Resurrection is in question, one of the most solemn arguments employed is that if there be no such thing as resurrection, then not only all the dead, but "they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Cor. 15:18). This is also the argument which immediately follows in 1 Cor. 15:29 (after the parenthesis in 1 Cor. 15:20-28), and is based upon 1 Cor. 15:18. "Else, what are they doing who are being baptized? It is for dead (corpses) if the dead rise not at all. Why are they then being baptized for corpses?" This is, of course, the case if they are not going to rise again. We render this as Romans 8:33-34 is rendered, by supplying the ellipsis of the verb "to be," as in both the A.V. and R.V. The word nekroi with the article (as in 1 Cor. 15:29) means dead bodies or corpses. See Gen. 23:3-4; Gen. 23:6; Gen. 23:8; Gen. 23:13; Gen. 23:15; Deut. 28:26; Jer. 12:3; Ezek. 37:9; Matt. 22:31; Luke 24:5; 1 Cor. 15:29 (1st and 3rd words); 1 Cor. 15:35; 1 Cor. 15:42; 1 Cor. 15:52.

On the other hand, nekroi without the article (as in 1 Pet. 4:6) means dead people, i.e., people who have died. See Deut. 14:1; Matt. 22:32; Mark 9:10; Luke 16:30-31; Luke 24:46; Acts 23:6; Acts 24:15; Acts 26:8; Romans 6:13; Romans 10:7; Romans 11:15; Heb. 11:19; Heb. 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:12; 1 Cor. 15:13; 1 Cor. 15:15-16; 1 Cor. 15:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:29 (2nd word); 1 Cor. 15:32. This throws light upon 1 Pet. 4:6 (where it is without the article), which shows that "the dead", there, are those who had The Gospel preached to them while they were alive, and though, according to the will of God, man might put them to death, they would "live again" in Resurrection. The word men, though, is left untranslated, both in A.V. and R.V., as it is in 1 Pet. 3:18.

The word zao, to live again, has one of its principal meanings, to live in Resurrection Life. See Matt. 9:18; Acts 9:41; Mark 16:11; Luke 24:5; Luke 24:23; John 11:25-26; Acts 1:3; Acts 25:19; Romans 6:10; Romans 14:9; 2 Cor. 13:4; Rev. 1:18; Rev. 2:8; Rev. 13:14; Rev. 20:4-5.

We are expressly enjoined by the Lord Himself: "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice" (John 5:28). These are the Lord's own words, and they tell us where His Voice will be heard; and, that is not in heaven, not in Paradise, or in any so-called "intermediate state," but "in the GRAVES." With this agrees Dan. 12:2, which tells us that those who "awake" in The Resurrection will be those "that sleep in the dust of the earth." It does not say, in "Abraham's bosom" or any other place, state, or condition, but "IN THE DUST OF THE EARTH"; from which man was "taken" (Gen. 2:7;  Gen. 3:23), and to which he must "re-turn" (Gen. 3:19; Ecc. 12:7).

It is, of course, most blessedly true that there is a vast difference between the saved and the unsaved in this "falling asleep." The former has received the gift of "eternal life" (Romans 6:23): not yet in actual fruition, but "in Christ", who is responsible to raise them from the dead (John 6:39), that they may enter upon the enjoyment of it. The unsaved do not possess "eternal life," for it is declared to be "the gift of God" (Romans 6:23). Very different, therefore, are these two cases. The Atonement, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ has made all the difference for His people. They die like others, but for them, it is only falling asleep; Why? Because they are to wake again. Though dead, they are now called "the dead in Christ," but it remains perfectly true that "we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not precede (R.V.) them." And, therefore, it follows, of necessity, that they cannot precede us.

But it is sometimes urged that "the Lord led forth a multitude of captives from Hades to Paradise when He wrested from Satan his power over death and Hades" (Eph. 4:8). But the fact is that Eph. 4:8 says nothing about Hades or Paradise! Nothing about "multitudes of captives" and nothing about the state between the moment of His dying and rising. It was "when He ascended up on high" that was this great triumph for the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not told what were all the immediate effects of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension in Satan's realm of evil angels. Col. 2:15 tells us the great fact that He "spoiled principalities and powers." Henceforth He held the keys of death and the grave (Hades):

Revelation 1:18

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold,
I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."

There was a mighty conflict and a glorious victory when Christ rose from the dead and conquered him that had the power of death. In proof and token of His triumph, "many" (not a few) rose from the dead (Matt. 27:52-53), but as others that have been raised from the dead again sleep in Christ awaiting the return and final Resurrection.

We now come to the so-called Parable itself. It is evident that this Scripture (Luke 16:19-31) must be interpreted and understood in a manner that shall not only not contradict the plain and direct teaching of all these passages; but, on the contrary, in a manner which must be in perfect and complete harmony with them: and in such a way that it shall be necessary for the better understanding of the whole context in which it stands. That is to say, we must not explain the Parable apologetically, as though we wished it were not there, but as though we could not do without it. We must treat it as being indispensable when taken with the context.

Let us look first at some of the inconsistencies of the Traditional Interpreters. Some of them call it a "Parable,"; but the Lord does not so designate it. It does not even begin by saying, "He said." It commences abruptly - "There was"; without any further guide as to the reason or meaning of what is said. Then they follow their own arbitrary will, picking out one word or expression, which they say is literal, and another, which they say is parabolic. For example, "Abraham's bosom" is, according to them, parabolic; and denotes Paradise. They are bound so to take it because if literal, "Abraham's bosom" would hold only one person! It refers to the act of reclining at meals, where any one person if he leaned back, would be "in the bosom" of the other. John was so placed with regard to the Lord Jesus (John 13:23;  John 21:20), and it was a token of favor and love (John 19:26; John 20:2; John 21:7). Then they take the "fire" and the "water," the "tongue" and the "flame," etc., as being literal; but when the Lord elsewhere speaks of "the worm that dieth not" they take that as parabolic, and say it does not mean "a worm" but conscience. In all this, they draw only on their imagination and interpret according to their own arbitrary will.

If we follow out this illogical principle, then according to them, Lazarus was never buried at all; while the rich man was. For "the rich man also died and was buried" (Luke 16:22), while Lazarus, instead of being buried, was "carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." There is further difficulty as to how a man who has been actually buried could think without a brain or speak without a tongue. How can the spirit speak or act apart from the physical organs of the body? This is a difficulty our friends cannot get over: and so they have to invent some theory (which outdoes the Spiritists' invention of an "Astral body") that has no foundation whatever in fact: and is absolutely destitute of anything worthy of the name "evidence" of any kind whatsoever. Then again, Hades is never elsewhere mentioned as a place of fire. On the contrary, it is itself to be "cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14).

Moreover, there is this further moral difficulty; in this "parable," which is supposed to treat of the most solemn realities as to the eternal destiny of the righteous and the wicked, there is a man who receives all blessings, and his only merit is poverty. That, for ought that is said, is the only title Lazarus has for his reward. It is useless to assume that he might have been righteous as well as poor. The answer is that the parable does not say a word about it, and it is perfectly arbitrary for anyone to insert either the words or the thought. On the other hand, the only sin for which the rich man was punished with those torments was his previous enjoyment of "good things" and his neglect of Lazarus. But for this neglect and his style of living, he might have been as good and moral a man as Lazarus.

Again, if "Abraham's bosom" is the same as Paradise, then we ask, Is that where Christ and the thief went according to the popular interpretation of Luke 23:43? Did they go to "Abraham's bosom"? The fact is, the more closely we look at Tradition. the more glaring are the inconsistencies that it creates.

The teachings of the Pharisees had much in common with the teachings of Romanists and Spiritists in the present day. We have only to refer to the Lord's words to see what He thought of the Pharisees and their teachings. He reserved for them His severest denunciations and woes; and administered to them His most scathing judgments. It was the teaching of the Pharisees, which had made the Word of God of "none effect," that was the very essence of their sin and its condemnation. Everywhere the Lord refers to this as bringing down His wrath: and calling forth His "woes". The Word of God said one thing, and the Pharisees said another; they thus contracted themselves out of the Law of God by their traditions. The context shows that the Lord's controversy with the Pharisees was now approaching a crisis. It begins, in Luke 14:35, with the solemn formula, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear". We are immediately shown who had these opened ears; for we read (Luke 15:1), "THEN drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them". They professed to have the key of knowledge, but they entered not in themselves, and those who were entering in they hindered (Matt. 23:13-33). They had the Scriptures, but they overlaid them with their traditions, and thus made them of none effect (Matt. 15:19). They were like "the Unjust Steward" (Luke 16:1-12) in the parable, which immediately follows Luke 15, for He would explain to His immediate believing followers the iniquity of these murmuring Pharisees. They dealt unjustly with the oracles of God which were committed unto them (Romans 3:2). They allowed His commandments to be disobeyed by others that they might make gain. In Mark 7:9, the Lord said, "Full well ye reject (Margin, frustrate) the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." This was said in solemn irony; for they did not "well" in the strict meaning of the word, though they did well, i.e. consistently with their own teaching when they practically did away with the fifth and seventh Commandments for their own profit and gain, just as Rome in later days did away with the doctrine of "justification through faith" by the sale of "indulgences". (Read carefully Matt. 15:3-6 and Mark 7:7-13.) They were "unjust stewards,"; and contrary to their teaching, the Lord declared there was no such thing as "little" or "much" when it came to honesty, especially in dealing with the Word of God; and that, if they were unfaithful in the least, they would be in much also, and could not be trusted. The time was at hand when the sentence would go forth, "thou mayest be no longer steward."

Then in Luke 16:14, we read: "The Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things; and they derided him" (Luke 16:14): lit., they turned up their noses at Him! Compare Luke 23:35, "The rulers scoffed at him." The same word as in Psalm 22:7, "All they that see me laugh me to scorn." The supreme moment had come. We may thus paraphrase His words which follow and lead up to the Parable: "You deride and scoff at Me, as if I were mistaken, and you were innocent. You seek to justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts. You highly esteem your traditions, but they are an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15). The law and the prophets were until John, but you deal unjustly with them, changing them and wresting them at your pleasure, by your tradition, and by the false glosses ye have put upon them. And when John preached the Kingdom of God, everyone used violence and hostility against it by contradictions, persecution, and derision (Luke 16:16). And yet, though by your vain traditions, you would make the law void and of none effect, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fail (Luke 16:17). Take one instance out of many. It is true that God permitted, and legislated for, divorce. But ye, by your traditions and arbitrary system of divorces, have degraded it for gain. Nevertheless, that law still remains and will stand forever, and he who accepts your teaching on the subject, and receives your divorces, and marrieth another, committeth adultery" (Luke 16:18).

Then the Lord immediately passes on to the culminating point of His lesson (Luke 16:19): "There was a certain rich man," etc. He makes no break. He does not call it, or give it as one of His own Parables: but He at once goes on to give another example from the traditions of the Pharisees, in order to judge them out of their own mouth. A parable of this kind need not be true in itself, or in fact: though it must be believed to be true by the hearers, if not by the speaker. No more than Jotham's parable of the Trees speaking (Judges 9:7-15). No more than when the Pharisees, on another occasion, said, "this fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils"; and He, judging them out of their own mouth, did not contradict them, nor did He admit the truth of their words when He replied, "If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?" (Matt. 12:24; Matt. 12:27). No! the Lord did not volley words in argument with these arch-Traditionists but turned the tables upon them. It was the same here, in Luke 16. He neither denied nor admitted the truth of their tradition when He used their own teachings against them. These are the "offenses" of chapter 17.

It was the same in the case of the parable of the "pounds" a little later on, when He said, "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow" (Luke 19:21-22). The Lord was not, of course, an austere and unjust man, but He used the words that those to whom He was speaking believed to be true; and condemned them out of their own mouth.

We believe that the Lord is doing the very same thing here. The framework of the illustration is exactly what the Pharisees believed and taught. It is a powerful and telling example of one of their distinctive traditions, by which they made the teaching of God's Word of none effect. It is, of course, adapted by the Lord so as to convey His condemnation of the Pharisees. He represents the dead as speaking, but the words put into Abraham's mouth contain the sting of what was His own teaching. In Luke 16:18, He had given an example of their PRACTICE in making void the Law of God as to marriage and divorce; and in the very next verse (Luke 16:19), He proceeds to give an example of their Doctrine to show how their traditions made void the truth of God; using their very words as an argument against themselves: and showing, by His own words, which He puts into Abraham's mouth (Luke 16:20 and Luke 16:31), that all these traditions were contrary to God's truth.

They taught that the dead could go to and communicate with the living; the Lord declares that this is impossible; and that none can go "from the dead" but by resurrection: "neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31). Note, these latter are His own words; He knew that their traditions were false, and in this very parable He corrects them. He distinctly declares that no dead person could go to the living except by resurrection: and that if one did go, it would be useless: for there was one of the same name - Lazarus, who was raised from the dead shortly afterward, but their reply was to call a Council, in which "they determined to put Lazarus also to death", as well as Himself (John 12:10). And when the Lord rose from the dead they again took counsel, and would not believe (Matt. 28:11-15). Thus the parable is made by the Lord to give positive teaching as well as negative, and to teach the truth as well as to correct error.

In the Talmud, we have those very traditions gathered up, which the Lord refers to in His condemnation. Many are there preserved, which were current in our Lord's day. We can thus find out exactly what these popular traditions were.

"Paradise," "The carrying away by angels," "Abraham's bosom," etc., were the popular expressions constantly used. Christ was not the first who used these phrases, but He used the language of the Pharisees, turning it against them.

Take a few examples from the Talmud:

(1) In Kiddushin (Treatise on Betrothal), fol. 72, there is quoted from Juchasin, fol. 75, 2, a long story about what Levi said of Rabbi Judah: "This day he sits in Abraham's bosom," i.e., the day he died.

There is a difference here between the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmuds - the former says Rabbi Judah was "carried by angels"; the latter says that he was "placed in Abraham's bosom."

Here we have again the Pharisees' tradition as used against them by our Lord.

(2) There was a story of a woman who had seen six of her sons slain (we have it also in 2 Macc. vii.). She heard the command given to kill the youngest (two-and-a-half years old), and running into the embraces of her little son, kissed him and said, "Go thou, my son, to Abraham my father, and tell him' Thus saith thy mother. Do not thou boast, saying, I built an altar and offered my son Isaac. For thy mother hath built seven altars, and offered seven sons in one day", etc. (Midrash Echah, fol. 68. 1).

(3) Another example may be given out of a host of others (Midrash on Ruth, fol. 44, 2; and Midrash on Coheleth (Ecclesiastes) fol. 86, 4)' "There are wicked men, that are coupled together in this world. But one of them repents before death, the other doth not; someone is found standing in the assembly of the just, the other in the assembly of the wicked.

The one seeth the other and saith, 'Woe! and Alas! there is accepting of persons in this thing' he and I robbed together, committed murder together; and now he stands in the congregation of the just, and I, in the congregation of the wicked'. They answered him: 'O thou most foolish among mortals that are in the world! Thou weft abominable and cast forth for three days after thy death, and they did not lay thee in the grave; the worm was under thee, and the worm covered thee; which, when this companion of thine came to understand, he became a penitent. It was in thy power also to have repented, but thou didst not'. lie saith to them, 'let me go now, and become a penitent'. But they say, 'O thou foolishest of men, dost thou not know, that this world in which thou art, is like the Sabbath, and the world out of which thou comest is like the evening of the Sabbath'? If thou dost not provide something on the evening of the Sabbath, what wilt thou eat on the Sabbath day? Dost thou not know that the world out of which thou camest is like the land; and the world, in which thou now art, is like the sea'? If a man make no provision on land for what he should eat at sea, what will he have to eat?' He gnashed his teeth, and gnawed his own flesh".

(4) We have examples also of the dead discoursing with one another; and also with those who are still alive (Berachoth, fol. 18, 2 - Treatise on Blessings). "R. Samuel Bar Nachman saith, R. Jonathan saith, How doth it appear that the dead have any discourse among themselves? It appears from what is said (Deut. xxxiv. 4), 'And the Lord said unto him, This is the land, concerning which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob, saying" What is the meaning of the word saying? The Holy Blessed God saith unto Moses, 'Go thou and say to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the oath which I sware unto you, I have performed unto your children'." 'Note that' 'Go thou and say to Abraham", etc.

Then follows a story of a certain pious man that went and lodged in a burying place, and heard two souls discoursing among themselves. "The one said unto the other, 'Come, my companion, and let us wander about the world, and listen behind the veil, what kind of plagues are coming upon the world'. To which the other replied, 'O my companion, I cannot; for I am buried in a cane mat; but do thou go and whatsoever thou hearest, do thou come and tell me,'" etc. The story goes on to tell of the wandering of the soul and what he heard, etc.

(5) There was a good man and a wicked man who died; as for the good man, "he had no funeral rites solemnized"; but the wicked man had. Afterward, there was one who saw in his dream, the good man walking in gardens, and hard by pleasant springs; but the wicked man "with his tongue trickling drop by drop, at the bank of a river, endeavouring to touch the water, but he could not." (Chagigah, fol. 77. Treatise on Exodus 23:17.)

(6) As to "the great gulf," we read (Midrash [or Commentary] on Coheleth [Ecclesiastes], 103. 2), "God hath set the one against the other (Ecc. vii. 14) that is Gehenna and Paradise. How far are they distant? A hand-breadth". Jochanan saith, "A wall is between," But the Rabbis say, "They are so even with one another, that they may see out of one into the other".

The traditions set forth above were widely spread in many early Christian writings, showing how soon the corruption spread, which led to the Dark Ages and to all the worst errors of Romanism. The Apocryphal books (written in Greek, not in Hebrew, Cents. i. and ii. B.C.) contained the germ of this teaching. That is why the Apocrypha is valued by Traditionalists and is incorporated by the Church of Rome as an integral part of her Bible.

The Apocrypha contains prayers for the dead; also "the song of the three Children" (known in the Prayer Book as the Benedicite), in which "the spirits and souls of the righteous" are called on to bless the Lord.

The Te Deum, also, which does not date further back than the fifth century, likewise speaks of the Apostles and Prophets and Martyrs as praising God now.

From all this, it seems to us perfectly clear that the Lord was not delivering this as a Parable or as His own direct teaching; but that He was taking the current, traditional teachings of the Pharisees, which He was condemning, and using them against them, thus convicting them out of their own mouths. We are quite aware of the objection which will occur to some of our readers. But it is an objection based wholly on human reasoning and on what appears to them to be probable. It will be asked, is it possible that our Lord would give utterance in such words without giving some warning to us as to the way in which He used them? Well, the answer to such is that warning has been given in the uniform and unanimous teaching of Scripture. His own words: "they have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them", addressed to the Pharisees through "the Rich Man," may be taken as addressed to us also. We have (as they had) the evidence of the Old Testament (in "Moses and the Prophets"), and we have also the evidence of the New Testament, which accords with the Old. If we "hear them," it would be impossible for us to suppose, for a moment, that Christ could be teaching here that which is the very opposite to that of the whole Word of God.

We have the Scriptures of Truth: and they reveal to us, in plain, direct, categorical, unmistakable words, that "the dead know not anything"; and that when man's breath goeth forth, "in that very day his thoughts perish". It is taken for granted, therefore, that we shall believe what God says in these and many other passages of His Word, and had we not absorbed tradition from our earliest years, we should have at once seen that the popular interpretation of this passage is quite contrary to the whole analogy of Scripture. We ought to discern, at the very first glance at it, that it is unique and stands out so isolated by itself that we should never for one moment dream of accepting as truth that which, if we know anything of His Word, we should instantly and instinctively detect as human tradition used for a special purpose. But, unfortunately, we have been brought up for the most part on man's books instead of the Bible. People draw their theology from hymns written by men who were saturated with tradition, who, when they did write a good hymn, generally spoiled it in the last verse by setting "death" as the church's hope instead of Christ's coming. Hence, hymns are solemnly sung, which contain such absurd, paradoxical teaching as the singing of God's praises while our tongues are seeing corruption and "lie silent in the grave."

Persons saturated with such false traditions come to this Scripture with minds filled with the inventions, fabrications, and imaginations of man; and can, of course, see nothing but their own traditions apparently sanctioned by our Lord. They do not notice the fact that in the very parable itself, the Lord corrected the false doctrine by introducing The Truth of The Resurrection. But when we read the passage in the light of the whole Word of God, and especially in the light of the context, we see in it the traditions of the Pharisees, which were "highly esteemed among men" but were "abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

All these traditions passed into Romanism. This is why we read in the note of the English Romish Version (the Douay) on Luke 16: "The bosom of Abraham is the resting place of all them that died in perfect state of grace before Christ's time - heaven, before, being shut from men. It is called in Zachary a lake without water, and sometimes a prison, but most commonly, of the Divines, 'Limbus Patrum', for that it is thought to have been the higher part, or brim, of hell", etc. Our Protestant friends do not recognize this fact, and hence they have not wholly purged themselves from Romish error. The Jews corrupted their religion by taking over the Pagan teachings of Greek Mythology. Romanism adopted these Jewish traditions of prayers for the dead and added others of her own, and the Reformed Churches took over Romish traditions connected with the so-called "Intermediate State," which they should have purged out.

Instead of completing the Reformation in respect to such heathen traditions, they are still clinging to them today: and so tenaciously that they are giving Romanists and Spiritists all they want as the foundation for their false teachings: while they reserve their wrath for those who, like ourselves, prefer to believe God's Truth in opposition to the first great lie of the Old Serpent. But once we see The Truth of God's word, that "death" means death, and cease to read the word as meaning life - and away goes the only ground for the worship of the Virgin Mary, the invocation of saints, prayers to or for the dead; and all the vapourings and falsehoods of "lying spirits" and "teachings of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1-2), who would deceive, by personating deceased persons of whom God declares their thoughts have perished.

But there is one further argument which we may draw from the internal evidence of the passage itself, taken with other statements in the Gospel narrative. The Jews laid great stress on the fact that they were "Abraham's seed" (John 8:33). They said, "Abraham is our Father," whereupon the Lord answered that, though they might be Abraham's seed according to the flesh, yet they were not Abraham's true seed, inasmuch as they did not the works of Abraham (John 8:39-40).

Early in the Gospels, this fallacy was dealt with judicially when John said by the Holy Ghost: "Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father" (Matt. 3:9). This was when He saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to His baptism; and called them "a generation of vipers," and not the sons of Abraham. They thought and believed that inasmuch as they were the sons of Abraham by natural generation, they were entitled to all the blessings and privileges which were given to Abraham and his seed. So here, one of them is represented as saying, "Father Abraham." Three times he calls him "father," as though to lay claim to these blessings and privileges (Luke 16:24; Luke 16:27; Luke 16:30). And the point of the Lord's teaching is that the first time Abraham speaks, he is made to acknowledge the natural relationship - "Son," he says (Luke 16:25). But he repudiates the Pharisee's title to any spiritual favor on that account. He does not use the word "Son" again. Abraham is represented as repudiating the Pharisee's claim to anything beyond natural relationships. He may be related to him according to the flesh, but there is no closer relationship, though the Pharisee continues to claim it. So the Lord does not make Abraham repeat the word "Son" again, though the rich man twice more calls Abraham "Father". This understanding of the passage is, therefore, in strictest harmony with the whole of the immediate context and with all the other Scriptures which bear upon this subject. It was quite unnecessary for the Lord to stop to explain for us the sense in which He used this tradition because it was so contrary to all the other direct statements of Scripture that no one ought for a moment to be in doubt as to what is the scope of the Lord's teaching here. No previous knowledge of Pharisaic traditions is necessary for the gathering of this scope. But as this is the conflict between Tradition and Scripture, the evidence from the Talmud comes in and may well be used to strengthen our interpretation.

No! The Lord was at the crisis of His condemnation of the Pharisees for their false traditions, which made the Word of God of none effect, and He made use of those very teachings, adapting them to the great end of condemning them out of their own mouth.

May we all prayerfully consider the testimony of God's Word in regard to death and when the dead will live again. Thanks be to God in that we have The Victory through Jesus Christ our Lord, and that Victory is in Him, for Truly He is The Resurrection and The Life.

Did you know that The Great Mystery or Secret was hidden in God from Ages and Generations until it was first revealed to the Apostle Paul?  Ephesians 3:9 states "And to make all {men} see what {is} the fellowship of The Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:" Click Mystery Teachings

Frequently Asked Questions

1. In John 16:12,13 we read, I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth . Does this refer to the administration of the mystery?

In Eph 3:1-4 the apostle Paul makes it clear that it was by a special administration of the grace of God that he was the sole recipient of the gospel of the mystery which he might give to the Gentiles. Down in verse 8 he speaks of himself as less than the least of all saints, but that he should make known the administration of the mystery. The 12 had a part in the administration of promise. They are to sit with Christ in the millennium and judge the nations of the earth and evangelize them. The Church of the mystery has no such mission. The 12 have their names written in the foundations of the New Jerusalem which is to be here on the earth. There were things that the 12 could not bear to hear at that time, but which had reference to further truth in the administration of promise. There was a perfection to be attained in that administration as well as in the other. They were to be given all the truth that they would need to proclaim the coming of the King and His kingdom during the period of the Acts.

2. Some claim that the term Israel refers to the 10 tribes and that Jew refers to Judah (with Benjamin and Levi). Is this true?

The Word of God makes no such distinctions. This is another example of men bending the truth to fit the lie. The 10 tribes were in Persia at the time of Esther, yet in that book they are called Jews 6 times. Our Lord came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, according to His own words. But some would have you believe that the 10 tribes were in Ireland at that time. Did the Lord go to Ireland seeking them? Paul said he was a Jew (Acts 22:3) yet he was of the tribe of Benjamin. Our Lord Himself was a Jew (John 4:9) while Nathaniel called Him the King of Israel (John 1:49). If you use the concordance, you will find many more examples.

3. I still have a little difficulty about the deity of Christ. Where does He come out and say that He was God?

May I ask, Where did the Lord ever come out and say that He was the Messiah of Israel? The signs and the testimony were sufficient and those who could read the OT and see the signs had all the testimony they needed. It is the same with the deity of Christ. Every attribute of God is also attributed to Him. So where is the difficulty? There is no lack of proof, but there is a great lack of belief. That was also Israel's trouble. As for Scripture references look at John 1:18, John 5:18-27, John 8:23-24, John 10:30-38, John 20:28, Eph 3:9 and there are many others.

4. If people do not really die, then why did the Lord say, Because I live, ye shall live also (John 14:19)?

It was not God that said, Ye shall not surely die, but Satan (Gen 3:4). All in Adam do die. Man's only hope for survival is in resurrection. All in Christ will be made alive. He is the first fruits of them that slept. No hope is given for those outside of Christ.

5. Does the Holy Spirit indwell the believer of this age, those in the administration of the mystery? If so, why?


Yes. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit (new nature within), that we are the children of God. Although found in Romans 8:16 this statement is undispensational, truth for all time. Verse 9 tells us that if we do not have the spirit, the new nature, we are none of His. And verse 11 tells us that there is a quickening here and now in our bodies, in our lives, that comes from this indwelling spirit. So it is this indwelling Spirit that seals the believer (Eph 1:13) and it is this indwelling Spirit that can be grieved (Eph 4:30). It is by this indwelling Spirit that God can make The Church, the temple, which is the body of Christ, His habitation (Eph 2:22). The vain and foolish philosophies of the Gnostics of course would have no place for this doctrine.

6. What is this mystery in Romans 16:25 which had been hid since the ages began?

This is not the mystery that had been hid in God from ages and generations which you will find in Colossians and Ephesians. The context of this verse reveals that it is the mystery of Christ which Paul is preaching to the Romans. The mystery of Christ began with the creation in Gen 1:1 of which we find later He is the Creator. Eph 3:3-5 tells of the mystery of Christ. It was known to the sons of men in past ages. But not as fully as when Paul finishes the Word of God, the canon of Scripture, showing Christ to be Head of The Church which is His body. Romans 16:26 tells that this mystery of Christ is manifested by the Scriptures of the prophets. Now the prophets of Eph 4:11 had not written Scriptures at this time of writing. A part of the mystery of Christ is well set forth in Isaiah 53. In fact all the Scriptures speak of Him and further reveal the mystery concerning Him. And in Romans, Christ is brought out as a federal head in contrast to Adam, showing that by Adam came sin and death, but the hope of resurrection by Jesus Christ. So Romans 16:25 tells nothing about the great secret or mystery which had been hid from ages and generations in God that the Salvation of God is now sent to the Gentiles.

7. What is the gospel of the grace of God in Acts 20:24?

It is the gospel of the uncircumcision that we find mentioned in Acts 15 and also in Gal 2:7. It is the good news that the Gentiles could become a part of the congregation of Israel and partake of their blessings (Romans 15:27) without being under the law. So in that early church the Jew walked by law, the Gentile by grace.

8. What gospel must one preach today lest he be accursed (Gal 1:9)?

No one can be accursed today for preaching any so-called gospel. For one to be accursed, he had to be subject to the law. Israel and the law are set aside today and so no one has been accursed for about 1900 years. Where there is no law, no sin can be imputed. We are under grace today.

9. Why at the end of the prophecy of Jonah does it speak of over 120,000 children and then mention much cattle? What can be the connection?

God definitely said by the mouth of Jonah that He was going to destroy Nineveh in 40 days. There were no conditions or if's about it. But the people, including the king, believed God and they repented. So God in mercy and kindness did not do what He said He was going to do. No one can find fault with a judge that will excuse one at the bar thru mercy. We have 2 other instances of like doing by the Almighty. Adam did not die the day he ate of the fruit, and God did not destroy Israel and make a nation from Moses and his family as He said He would. The sentence was lifted in mercy each time. But there is something there to connect the children and the cattle. In Ecc 3:19,20 we see that in dying there is no difference between man and beast, and they go to the same place. But we also find in Deut 8:3 that even though man was barred from the tree of life, he can live by faith, by believing what God has said. These children were not yet old enough to believe unto life, so like the cattle they would have no resurrection.

10. What does repentance have to do with salvation? What is it?

According to the usage of the word, it means a change of mind, and that for the better. We cannot read any more than that into the word. It does not occur in John's gospel which is the great salvation book for the human race today. But it is obvious that if a man believes, he has changed his mind from unbelief. However, the word repentance is used much more in the case of those who belong to God and rarely of those who do not believe. It was Israel that was called to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Today this word has lost much of its original meaning and most folks think it means penance. But the word penance cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. It is not there.

11. Did Paul write any epistles while in the prison at Caesarea?

There is no evidence that he did. And there is strong evidence that he did not. When Paul's testimony was not received at Jerusalem, the Lord said to him, Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. This cannot be said of Caesarea, for it was not far from Jerusalem. Paul's ministry was in Asia, Europe, and ended at Rome.

12. Can it be true„that God will raise up the unbelievers in their original bodies, punish them, and then destroy them?

Resurrection or raising up these people would be an act of creation. Does God create sin or sinners? Would that be according to His attributes? Furthermore why should He punish them? They were slaves of sin and could not help themselves. Also 2Cor 5:19 tells us that Christ died for their sins and no trespasses are imputed. So there is no reason for punishment. The question is just this; What part would this play in redemption?

13. It says in 2Cor 5:18 that all things are of God. Does this include sin and death and also Satan himself?

In the verse before, it says that old things have passed away for the believer and that all things have become new. So all things that are of God are these new things. Never neglect the context. If all things were unlimited, as some suggest, then we can go back to Ecc 1:2 and prove that all things are vanity. But in that case it is the human labors referred to in verses 3-8 that are vanity. Always look for the antecedent.

14. What does the Bible say about birth control?

Nothing, absolutely nothing. There are some things written in 1Cor 7 which seem to pertain to the subject, but it is in view of the coming tribulation and is in keeping with what is revealed in Matt 24:19. After Acts 28:28 Paul advised the younger widows to marry and no longer spoke of the coming distress which was postponed.

15. How did the tradition get started that the church began at Pentecost?

Rome said so. There is no other evidence either historical or Biblical.

16. Some say that Paul never proclaimed the kingdom of God, but preached only the mystery. What is the evidence?

Paul was told first of all by the risen Lord to preach the things which he had seen (Acts 26:16). What he had seen was what the 12 and others were doing. So if Paul preached only the mystery, then we will have to say the same of the 12 and also of Stephen whom Paul heard. In Acts 17:7 the men of Thessalonica heard Paul preach and reported that he preached another King instead of Caesar. Evidently Paul was preaching the kingdom, the same as the 12, up to Acts 28:28.

17. Did not Paul begin a new ministry when he turned to the Gentiles in Acts 13:46? Was not this the beginning of the church?

If you read the next verse you will find that Paul quotes from Isaiah 49:6 for his authority to turn to the Gentiles. Then this was no mystery or secret hid from ages and generations.

18. What was the purpose of the ministry of Peter in the house of Cornelius?

We must note some things that are not true in order to appreciate that which is true. Nothing is said about Cornelius attending temple or synagogue. All we know is that he was a centurion at the head of an Italian band of soldiers and that he was devout, feared God, gave alms to poor Jews, and prayed to God always. This sums up all we know about him. Even after his experience at the preaching of Peter there is nothing said about him, whether he went to the temple or synagogue or whether he ever joined with the band of Christians at Jerusalem or elsewhere. With that out of the way, we can see that this was a preparation for Paul and his ministry to Gentiles during the Acts period of time.

19. How shall I choose a church or place of worship to attend?

In John 4 you will find that this was also the question of the Samaritan woman. And what was the answer? But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. So today worship has no place designated, but the quality is stressed. It is to be a true spiritual worship. What better place to start it than in the home?

20. You have said that John was preaching to Israel only. What proof do you have for saying that?

Acts 13:24.

21. What would be the condition of our country if there had been no churches? Have they not been a great force in keeping our civilization?

We have a great many people today who have gotten all mixed up and they equate civilization and salvation. There are many ministers today dedicated to the task of saving our society at any cost. We have the do-gooders who want to improve the world and the old nature of man so that he will finally reach the peak of evolution and become as God and be fit for heaven. It is true that the churches have improved and preserved a moral tone of our civilization. But that does not save men. Billy Sunday once said, "There is no difference between the up-and-out and the down-and-out. They are all out." That is right. So we cannot say how many would have been saved today without the churches. Many are being saved in spite of them. We do not know how much of the message of salvation would have been preserved in the families of our country if there had been no churches. We just cannot answer your question, for there is no way of knowing. Conditions might have been better or they might have been worse as far as true worship is concerned. Speculation is useless.

22. What are the basic differences between the kingdom and the church?

The kingdom is a part of the promise made to Abraham and pertains primarily to Israel; but The Church is made up of nations without any distinctions. The kingdom will have a King; The Church has a Head. The kingdom is to be here on the earth where David's kingdom was with Jerusalem as the great world center; The Church has its place in the heavenlies. The kingdom has laws; The Church walks by grace. In the kingdom there is a promise of a bride; but The Church is the body of Christ of which He is the Head. But there is one great common truth; all are saved by grace.

23. Is it true that the nation Israel must repent before the Lord can set up His kingdom?

From the human standpoint, Yes. For prophecy tells us that they will mourn and that they will say blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. From God's standpoint, the day cannot be hastened. He will come in the fullness of time.

24. It is said in Rev 1:7 that when the Lord comes every eye shall see Him. Does this mean that all people of all ages will be there to see?

This is a figure of speech, synedoche, where a part is used for the person. Only those who have eyes and can see with them when He comes will see Him. Dead folks cannot see. And some living folks may be blind. They will not see either. We have a similar figure in Ph’p 2:10 where at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord. This points to a time farther on than that in Revelation. But it will all be voluntary and only the living and the resurrected will do it. No one will be forced to bow. There are many other Scriptures in which this figure can be found.

25. Is not Christ reigning as King now in the heavens and will not this rule continue? How come some say that he is coming down to earth again to Jerusalem and rule over the nations here?

At the present time Satan and his angels are in the heavens. They will be cast out in the midst of the last week of the 70 weeks determined on Israel (Dan 9:24). This is described in Rev 12:9. So it is patent that Christ is not supreme ruler in the heavens now, but rather that He is hid (Col 3:3), and that whenever Christ is manifested in the heavens the members of His church (not the bride) will be manifested with Him (Col 3:4): That is the hope of The Church of the administration of the mystery. But Christ will come and reign on the earth on the throne of His father, David. In Acts 1:6 the apostles wanted to know if the kingdom was going to be set up at that time. Now since the kingdom is primarily of Israel and they are to be a blessing to the nations of the earth, how will the Lord and Israel reign over the earth as pictured in Psalms 2 if they are in heaven? It is wise to take what the Word says instead of trying to force some private interpretation upon it, or change it.

26. Was the prophecy of Joel fulfilled at Pentecost and the kingdom established there and then?

No, the prophecy has not been fulfilled yet. At Pentecost the Spirit was not poured out upon all flesh in Mt. Zion and Jerusalem. There were many Roman soldiers that did not even know about it. There were no wonders in heaven and signs in the earth at that time. There was no change in the sun and the moon. True, Peter spoke of it as the last days when these things should happen, but many years later John says that he is in the last days (1 John 2:18), and Peter many years later speaks of the last days as still future (2 Peter 3:3). At Pentecost Peter mentions the prophecy of Joel merely to show that what was working in the apostles was the same Spirit as Joel spoke about. Peter did not say that Joel's prophecy was being fulfilled. The Lord's house was not established (Isaiah 2) but was totally destroyed shortly later. David's throne has not been occupied by Christ yet. No kingdom was set up and the apostles set on thrones.

27. What is a mortal sin?

It is a sin unto death (1John 5:16). Under the law, murder was a sin unto death. In the case of Ananias and Sapphira lying unto the Holy Spirit was a sin unto death. In 1Cor 11:30 Paul speaks of some who sin and are sickly, and some even died. That was a sin unto death. Mortal sin was never spoken of a Gentile. It was to those under the law. Today the law is not in effect, so we see no examples as above among Christians.

28. Should a Christian go to war?

When Jews who had hired out as soldiers came to John at the Jordan, he baptized them, but never told them to quit the army. Our Lord healed the son of a centurion, but never told this man to quit warfare. Peter was in the house of Cornelius, but there is no record that he told Cornelius to leave the army. No Scripture can be quoted for either side, except that we are to be subject to the powers that be. One who is in the will of the Lord and trusts Him, will have no difficulty with the question. The Lord will put him where he wants him, whether it be on the battle front or in some peaceful occupation. Such questions as this are from the fearful and unbelieving.

29. Can Satan leave hell and wander on the earth at will?

There is no Scripture that says or even hints that Satan was ever in hell or ever will be. At the present time he is just where he has always been from the time of his creation. Some day he will be cast down from that position in heaven to the earth with no power to ascend to heaven again. Hell is for those who are made of the dust of the earth. Satan is not such a creature.

30. What about men taking upon themselves the title of Reverend?

This word occurs in Scripture just once, Psalms 111:9. It is used of the name of God. It is blasphemous for man to take to himself that which pertains to God and His holy name.

31. Did our Lord wear long hair when here on the earth among men?

No. Unless a man were a Nazarite, it was a shame for him to have long hair (1Cor 11:14). Our Lord was not a Nazarite, for a Nazarite was not permitted to drink wine, and our Lord did.

32. Can a Christian become wealthy?

There is no reason why he cannot. Of course those who take the story or parable of the rich man and Lazarus as literal, make it mandatory that one has to get rid of all personal property and beg if he is to be saved. But there is no premium on poverty in God's Word. Abraham was wealthy and was a friend of God. David was wealthy and he was a man after God's own heart. Isaac and Jacob both were wealthy. Solomon had much wealth. And Joseph who buried the Lord was reputed to be the wealthiest Jew of the time. Wealth can be a curse, and it can be a blessing. But poverty can make a man steal. We have wealthy men today who have contributed much to the spread of the gospel.

33. I hear that you teach that there are two churches instead of one. Is this true?

Why not read what we write and see for yourself? From time to time we have written about the 7 churches in Asia. We have recognized that there was a church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38). We have taken note of the fact that the Lord was going to build His church on a rock (Matt 16:18). And besides these were the churches at Rome, Corinth, and many other places to which Paul addressed letters. But it is noteworthy that after Acts 28:28 the word church is never in the plural and it is The Church, not A church. And every church is a body. So today there is one body (Eph 4:4), One Church.

34. According to 1Cor 16:1 should there be a collection taken up in the meeting each Sunday?

There is one collection only in this passage. It is for the saints at Jerusalem. These saints were believing Jews. This one collection was to be taken up on the first of the weeks. The word day is not in the Greek. This is the first week after the Passover. Paul would then take up this collection and carry it with him to Jerusalem.

35. What is this resurrection in Php 3:11?

The out resurrection from among the dead is the prize of the high calling and is for those who have remained faithful and suffered like unto the suffering of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying he is not sure if he will attain to it so as to show it is a prize for believers that suffer and remain faithful to the end and to contrast it with other hopes and resurrections taught by the apostle. In Hebrews 11 he does speak of some who attained to a better resurrection. But they were of a different administration. It is not the resurrection that is the result of believing and obtaining everlasting life. For that is by faith, and not by attainment. By 2 Timothy Paul is confident of attaining the prize and also knows his life shall soon end by the hands of his captors.

36. I have heard, life defined as union with Christ and death as separation from Christ. Does this fit the Scriptures?

Try it for yourself. Read Romans 6:1-10 and use these definitions for life and death. Does this fit?

37. I notice that in the records of the baptism of our Lord in Jordan, that it says that He came up out of the water. Does this mean that He was immersed in the water?

Not necessarily. A river flows, as a usual thing in a bed, for water seeks the lowest level possible. So to get into the river it was necessary to go down into the water and to get out, meant going up out of the water.

38. Who are the other sheep of John 10:16?

The word other is allos which means others of the same kind. Since Israel are the sheep and these are of the same kind, they cannot be Gentiles. That fold ceased to exist at Acts 28:28. There is no fold now. But God will deal with Israel again some day and then there will be another fold and other sheep, not the same ones of this fold in John 10. The present era is between the folds. For, other references to these sheep, see Matt 22:9,10 and 24:31. Are not these all the same?

39. How is it that you teach Pauline doctrine, but do not advocate the Lord's table (1Cor 10 & 1l)?

We do not teach Pauline doctrine for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Paul preached 4 separate gospels during his ministry. In 1Cor 10 and 11 Paul is writing to Jewish believers whose fathers had crossed the Red Sea (10:1). And the feast he is talking about is the Passover which was observed in the homes, not in public. This feast was a supper, observed in the evening, never at morning or noon. These 2 chapters cannot be used for a proof text in support of the observance of the heathen Baal's supper which had been taken up by Christendom.

40. I wonder why that Satan is usually pictured as a black man with horns, hooves, and a tail, when it says in 2Cor 11:14 that he is transformed into an angel of light. What did he look like when he appeared in the garden to Eve?

The popular conception of Satan is really a picture of Nimrod, the great rebel of Babylon. It is told in the legends that he killed a wild bull of extraordinary strength and fierceness. He is supposed to have taken the horns of the bull and made himself a headdress. It did not take the artists long to add the hooves and the tail (always pointed as a spear) and you have the concept of Nimrod the great hunter of his fellow men. We are told in Ezekiel 28 that Satan was created as a covering cherub and when he appeared to Eve it was as the Nachash (shining one). So to Eve he did appear as a great and shining angel, one to revere and believe. No snake deceived Eve.

41. Why do you persist in using the King James version when there are so many modern ones that are more easily understood and which do not use obsolete words?

There are a number of reasons for retaining the Authorized Version. Many concordances would be useless, there would be difficulty with lexicons and the like for they are mostly founded on the AV. It is a sample of the best English of the past centuries. And no modern version can express the holiness and majesty of God as it does. It presents no difficulties to those who have been brought up in Christian homes where the Bible was read and prayers made. Neither does it present any difficulties to one who knows God. But the Bible will remain a closed book to the ungodly no difference what version it may be in. We are very suspicious of versions, for all too often they reflect some man's private belief which may be partial unbelief. None yet has surpassed the Authorized Version which also has the benefit of putting many words in italics where there were no corresponding Greek or Hebrew word in the original manuscripts. It is also one of the earliest English translations and although not perfect does contain less license to private doctrines and added words.

42. Who should keep the Passover?

All circumcised Israelites. It was to be eaten in the home. There was to be no leaven in the house. No manner of work was to be done on the day it was observed. Do not forget that this is all about the kingdom and not The Church. The children of the household were to ask why it was observed and the master of the house recited the story of the exodus from Egypt. The law never made any provisions for any uncircumcised to observe it. See Ex 12:47-49. It was in force till the end of Acts, where The Church began.

43. Should I put something into the collection plate when 1 go to a church?

Most certainly, yes, unless you are the type of person that would slip under the side of the circus tent to avoid paying admission. If you go for the show, then pay your share. Jonah paid his fare, even when running from the Lord (Jonah 1:3).

44. What is the meaning of Gal 2:20? How can one be dead and yet alive?

Christ is our life, we have no eternal life of ourselves. Christ is our supply. Holding Him we have nourishment ministered. This is the fact concerning ourselves as His own, a fact we are required to acknowledge against the background of our own death. He has accomplished for us our death to the end that He may now abide in us. The one has first to happen before the other can be. This is the meaning of the words: I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal 2:20). But for an acknowledgment that we, as to our human life, are mortal we can never believe that we are accounted to have died with Christ. Those of our fellow-brethren who hold that the soul of man is immortal may use the term that they died with Christ - but they cannot in actuality believe that they did die. They cannot envisage the truth that, as to their human life, they are accounted to have ceased to be.

45. Paul expected to be among the living at the rapture (1Thes 4:15-17; 1Cor 15:51,52). Is this rapture still Paul's hope, even though he died and will be among the dead believers of that time?

The rapture is only for the children of promise, primarily Jews but also Gentiles who became the children of Abraham by faith from Acts 10 to Acts 28:28. It has to do with the kingdom here on the earth. The rapture is just a little trip up into the air (not heaven) to meet the Lord as He comes with clouds of angels who will execute judgment as He sets up His kingdom seated on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Since the husbandman is to be the first partaker of the fruits, then Paul must surely have a part in the administration of the mystery which was entrusted to him to proclaim. Therefore he will have an earlier resurrection than that at the coming of the Lord and will be manifested with Him in the heavenly places.

46. Matthew 8:11 seems to indicate that Gentiles from the East and the West will have a part in the kingdom, but not from the North and the South. Is there any explanation for this?

There is no explanation that we can give at this time except the suggestion that it may be that the Russians and the Egyptians will not have a part in it. That could also include Lebanon and Syria. But this is only a guess. These nations might be all changed around by that time. But it is something to think about. The Word is exact and there is good reason for these words being written. The prophecies will be plain to all when fulfilled.

47. If the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 begins at the dedication of the temple, 1 always thought it had its beginning with the decree of Artaxerxes or Astyages in 454 B.C. Can you explain your position?

Very briefly, you will find 2 distinct prophecies in Daniel chapter 9. The first one is in verse 24 and speaks of the second advent of the Messiah. Note that 70 weeks are determined upon the people and the city. This cannot begin with the decree for the simple reason that the people are not in the city till about 49 years (7 weeks) later. So the 70 weeks determined on the city and the people must begin about the time of the dedication of the temple or 405 B.C. It is not hard then to figure that the coming of the Messiah to set up His kingdom would have been AD. 85. However the course of the city and the people did not run to this end, but the people were set aside at Acts 28:28 and since then have not been a people. The city was destroyed in 70 AD. Now if the people were cut off at the end of Acts, about A.D. 63, then there are about 3 weeks yet to run till the coming of the Messiah. We do not know when this prophecy will be resumed. Now the 7 and 62 weeks after the going forth of the decree brings us to A.D. 29, the date when Messiah was cut off. That has been completed.

48. Does Genesis 6:3 indicate that God will not always strive with men,. but that one can cross a deadline where there will be no more conviction by the Holy Spirit and they are forever lost?

Man, in this verse is Adam in the Hebrew: The verse means that God is getting weary of striving with Adam, for Adam (like others) is erring. See note in Companion Bible. So Adam is given another 120 years to live and he died at the age of 930. So we can take it that Adam was 810 years old when God finally made up His mind not to put up with him.

49. Is there any escape from hell once one is in it? If so, how?

The common notion of hell is far from what the Word says that it is. It is sheol in the Hebrew and occurs 65 times in the OT. It is translated hell 31 times, grave 31 times and pit 3 times. The RV is consistent in that it renders it sheol each time. It could be translated grave all 65 times and not mar the meaning. In the NT hades is used 11 times. It is also used in the LXX to translate sheol. So it is the same thing. It is translated 10 times as hell and once as grave. Gehenna does not enter into this discussion, for although it is translated hell, it is the city dump outside of Jerusalem. Neither does Tartarus enter in either. The grave or hell is a place where people are dead and live not again till resurrection (Rev 20:5). Our Lord was in hell 3 days and 3 nites. He came out by resurrection and was the first fruits of the great harvest that is still to come forth. Death and hell are to be destroyed (Rev 20:13,14). So all go to hell or the grave at death. Those who have everlasting life will escape by resurrection.

50. What is the difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God?

The former includes the latter in one sense. The gospel or good news of the kingdom was first proclaimed by John the Baptist, the Lord Himself, then the 12, and finally the 70, this being before the death of Christ. Then the apostles were further instructed as to the kingdom and this was the gospel preached by all up to Acts 28:28. The gospel of the grace of God began in the house of Cornelius, about 9 years after Pentecost. This was the only instance that Peter preached this gospel. None of the other 11 preached it at any time. And about 17 years after Pentecost Paul began to preach the gospel of the grace of God at Antioch to the Gentiles (just as Peter did) and continued it till the end of Acts. But in every instance Paul was careful to preach the gospel of the kingdom to the Jew first, and then turned to the Gentiles and preached to them the gospel of the grace of God, which meant that they could partake of all the spiritual blessings of Israel without keeping the law (being circumcised, keeping feasts, and the rituals). The same salvation (not eternal life) of the kingdom was at that time for both Jew and Gentile, but to the Jew first.

51. What is the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25)?

In this context we learn that the mystery that is in view is one that had been hushed since the ages began. So it is not the administration of the mystery which was hid from ages and generations and had its plans made before the ages began. This mystery, that had been hushed had been made known by the prophets as the context tells us, so it is not the mystery of Ephesians and Colossians. Also this mystery in Romans is made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. In the structure outline of Romans this is explained by the same words appearing in 1:1-5. It is the preaching of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but connected with His being the seed of David. So then this is kingdom preaching and declares Jesus Christ not only the anointed one or Messiah, but truly the Son of God.

52. In what sense, if any, did works ever save?

Basically we have all through the Bible record the revelation of life as the gift of God, received by faith and in no connection whatsoever with works. But on that life we find based at least two salvations or lines of blessing. One is the promise made to Abraham. At least the kingdom aspect of the administration of promise has much to do with works as the sermon on the mount will indicate. Also Mark 16:16 adds that when the kingdom was being preached to Jews only, they must believe and be baptized in order to be saved. From 1Cor 3 we may infer that good works of themselves did not save, but could be burned up and the worker saved as by fire. When works were connected with salvation, they were for the most part specific rather than general. But today we have a salvation revealed in Eph 2:8-10 which is obtained by faith only. This salvation is a creation unto good works, not of works.

53. I am puzzled by Mark 13:32. Does this take away from the truth of the deity of Christ?

This passage says, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. This has been a favorite verse for those who deny the deity of Christ. But it may be that it does prove His deity. He knows that no man knows the day and the hour. He knows that the angels in heaven do not know the day and the hour. Does not this knowledge indicate deity? And what if He does not choose to know? Deity can forget or remember at will. He can forget our sins. That we cannot do. If the Lord chose not to know the time, then that was His business and we have no right to question Him.

54. Is glory a place?

If at any time it answers the question, Where?, then it is a place. Whenever the question of place comes up with any terms, this is a good question to ask. If it designates where something is to be or to happen, then it is a place. But you will note when you look up the word glory in the concordance that it is not always used the same. It may speak of the glory of God. It may speak of the glory of Christ. And there are other usages. In the mystery of godliness in 1Timothy 3:16 it says that He was received up into glory. This answers the question of Where?, and is definitely a place. You may try other passages with the same method.

55. What is dispensational truth?

It is the body of truth, doctrine and practice, that is for a particular household of God. Some dispensational truth may be common to both dispensations. Some truth may be peculiar to its own particular dispensation. For instance, citizenship in the heavenly places is peculiar to the dispensation of the mystery. On the other hand, a part in the new Jerusalem is peculiar to the dispensation of promise. The word chosen is common to both, but time of choosing makes the distinction. The choice of some is before the overthrow, and the choice of others since the overthrow. This is where the workmanship of right division comes in.

56. What is meant by falling from grace?

You probably refer to Gal 5:4. In the first place this epistle to the Galatians is written to the members of the administration of promise, and especially to the Gentile members who had been grafted into the blessings of Israel and the kingdom. To these Paul had preached the gospel of the grace of God, that they might receive all the benefits of the administration of the promise without being circumcised and keeping the law. But there were Judaizers who were convincing some of these Gentiles that they must be circumcised and keep the law. So Paul says to them, For I testify again to every man (Gentile) that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you (Gentiles) are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. So to fall from grace was to leave the grace principle or gospel and go back to circumcision.

57. Was the crossing of the Red Sea literal, or was it just a figurative story?

If it was just a story, then we fail to see the point. If it was just a story, then how did the few million Hebrew slaves get out of Egypt?

58. What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Ghost? Acts 1:4,5.

At Pentecost the apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost in fulfillment of the promise in Luke 24: 49. They received power from on high. This power enabled them to speak in languages and perform many miracles. This was in connection with those who proclaimed the kingdom. It was not in any way connected with The Church. See The Giver and His Gifts by E. W. Bullinger for further light.

59. Can Gentiles partake of the New Covenant?

Jer 31:31 plainly states that the New Covenant is to be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This is again quoted in Heb 8:8. This is with Israel, not The Church or the Gentiles. The Gentiles do have a promise (Eph 3:6; 2Tim 1:1; Tit 1:2). But Gentiles have always been strangers from the covenants of promise (Eph 2:12).

60. In Acts 20:27 Paul declares that he has shown the whole counsel of God, yet we are led to believe that the mystery which was later proclaimed had been hid from ages and generations and that Paul did not know it there in Acts 20. How can we reconcile these?

If you will look at Eph 1:9 and 11 you will see two words used which do not mean the same thing. One is counsel, and the other is purpose. Paul did not say that he had proclaimed the whole purpose of God, but God's counsel (in accordance with the purpose then revealed). But when a new purpose or further purpose was made known, then there was a counsel or working out of that purpose as you see in Ephesians one. Be careful with terms.

61. What are the gates of hell in Matthew 16:18?

Since no explanation is given in that place, we must then go back to the OT which the disciples at that time had. In Isaiah 38:10 we read, I shall go to the gates of the grave. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? (Job 38:17). Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death (Psalms 9:13). Can this be resurrection from the grave? And we read in Psalms 107: 18, And they draw near unto the gates of death. Now going back to the passage in Matthew, we must conclude that the doors of the grave or hell cannot hold His church when He calls. They will come forth from the state of death.

62. If being born again in John 3:3 means resurrection, then what does it mean in 1Peter 1:23?

The same word is not used in these two passages. The latter means begotten (See margin in Companion Bible). So we must conclude that there can be no rebirth or resurrection without a begetting by the Word of God. Try using begotten in John 3:6 and see what the meaning is. Further study is needed in this subject.

63. Is it true that "ALL Paul's early epistles are addressed to Gentiles." References, such as Romans 11:13; 1Cor 12:2; Gal 4:8; and 1Thess 2:14, are given to prove the point. Can you give more light on this?

There is little doubt that Paul's first epistle was Galatians. And it appears that it was written to the Gentile Christians of Galatia. But at the same time it is evident that he wrote Hebrews, and that epistle is not to Gentiles at all! Romans 2 is to the Jewish believers, verse 17 emphasizing it. Chapters 10 and 11 of 1Cor are to those whose fathers crossed the Red Sea. Surely they must have been Jews. The fathers of the Gentiles never crossed the Red Sea. You will note in these chapters the directions for keeping the feast (the Passover) which was never lawful for Gentiles to keep.

64. Must the Roman empire be revived?

For many years we have heard this debated, but really have never yet found a Scripture which would indicate that this must be true. We are open to any proof anyone may offer for this, but we are afraid it is merely a tradition someone started.

65. How can every knee bow confessing Christ Lord, to God's glory, unless reconciled? (Philippians 2: 10,11).

Lest any be misled, we must emphasize the fact that reconciliation is not life nor is it salvation. The definition is given in 2Cor 5:19. It means that a work was accomplished so that the sins of the world are not imputed against it. This is good news for those who do not have life, for it gives them access to God to receive the precious gift of everlasting life. Those that have this life shall live. And in resurrection, they will be given knees which they can bow, and be given tongues with which they can confess. But those who do not have life and will never see life (John 3:36), but remain in the dust of the earth, will never have knees or tongues.

66. What does it mean in Philippians 2:12 where it says we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

It is well to consider what salvation is before making any applications. It does not say that we are to work out our everlasting life. To equate salvation and everlasting life will only get us into confusion. And somebody has said that confusion is ignorance. When our Lord said to the woman of Samaria that salvation was of the Jews, He was not talking about everlasting life. By faith the Samaritans or any other people could have life. Peter recognized this fact in Acts 10:43. Israel had a salvation to work out. It was that they were to be a priestly nation and make known to the nations the name of Jehovah. They were promised the blessings of the kingdom. To them pertained the preaching of the kingdom. All this was their salvation and they were expected to work it out. And so when the salvation of God was sent to the Gentiles in Acts 28:28, it does not mean that they are then to obtain everlasting life. Their salvation was the administration of the mystery with all its hopes and blessings. This they were to work out.

67. What is the meaning of 1Timothy 1:8?

This verse states that the law is good if one uses it lawfully. There is law today, but not in the sense of the Mosaic law given at Sinai, although that law did reveal the righteousness of God and man's utter inability to attain unto such a state of holiness. But the law or will of God is given to us in the last seven epistles of Paul in the form of exhortations and the like. This is a good thing for us providing we do not attempt to use it as a means of boasting in the flesh. We can walk worthy of our vocation or calling, but there is nothing to brag about, for such a walk is where Christ lives in and acts thru us.

68. What is the difference between eternal life and everlasting life?

They both translate the same phrase in the Greek. However God alone can have eternal life for He has no beginning or end. His children do have a beginning and are given everlasting life through the works of His Son.

69. Your teaching seems very queer. How can Christ be King of kings on the earth and at the same time be Head of a church which is His body in heaven? This is absurd, is it not?

For finite beings such as you and I, this would be impossible and therefore absurd. But if Christ were deity, God manifest in flesh, then He is the Infinite and could appear in as many different places and forms as He might choose.

70. Was Christ a soul after the resurrection?

Psalms 16:10 says, Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. This is quoted in Acts 2:27 by Peter, and part of it is quoted in Acts 13:35 by Paul. Christ went to hell just as have all others who have lived and died on this earth. But His soul was holy and so did not see corruption. It was raised from the dead. If He was a soul before death, then He was a soul in resurrection.

71. I have heard it said that God is acting in grace today to all the world, and that if He does not act in grace, He does not act at all. Is this according to the Scriptures?

In theory, this is but another version of universal reconciliation or salvation. It just happens that the Redeemer in the Hebrew is also the Avenger. The redemption of Noah and his family brought vengeance on the wicked world of that time. The redemption of Israel from Egypt brought vengeance on Pharaoh and his hosts. The very fact that God loves His people makes Him hate their enemies. We are told that Buddha loves everybody. He sits and does nothing about it. But that is not our God. His grace is for those that will partake of it. His wrath abides on others (John 3:36).

72. I am a little mixed up. It speaks of the inheritance of God in the heavenlies in Ephesians 1:18, and in Colossians 1:12 it says that we are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance in the holiest in light. However Ephesians 5:5 indicates that one may lose this inheritance. How is this?

The Church has an inheritance, even as did Israel. Individuals may lose it, even as many thousands of Israel lost their inheritance.

73. In Psalms 1:5 it says that the ungodly would not stand (arise) in the judgment, and that this meant no resurrection for the unbelievers. Somebody said that this word stand did not mean resurrection. Can you answer this?

A lot of people are quick to set forth their own ideas as gospel truth, but err, not knowing the Scriptures. You will find this word quwm (koom) on page 1101 of the Englishman's Hebrew Concordance. There is a long list of the places where used, but one or two will suffice. See Job 14:12; Psalms 88:10; Isaiah 26:14. You can also check this with Strong's concordance. The word number is 6965. This is what Scripture says.

74. Do you believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible? If so, then how would you translate sheep and vine and the like for people who know nothing of these things? After all, is not the Bible just the words of men?

The Bible time after time claims to be the Word of God. If it is not, then it is false and should be thrown out altogether. It would even be dangerous if it were just the words of men. But look at Psalms 12: 6, The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. God has spoken in man's language to man, but He does not use those words carelessly as man does. And the fact that some might not understand some of the terms used is no excuse to make any changes in the Word of God. How many understand love? How many comprehend the term righteousness? We who are teachers have to teach what these things are. And so it is up to a man to teach what a sheep or a vine is when speaking to the Eskimos. Some tribes do not know what a home is. It is up to Christians to teach and to show these what a home is. We must not tamper with the Scriptures. But we must remember that All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable...

75. What is the sin mentioned in Hebrews 12:1?

It is the sin of unbelief. That is the root of all other sins. Self-will nourishes it.

76. It seems strange that Rahab the harlot should be so well spoken of in the Bible. Why?

In this day when men think that respectability is Christianity, this does pose a real question. But Rahab was saved by faith and not by any moral qualities she may have had. So we can say that she was a sinner saved by grace. People who do not know the love and power of God cannot understand His works. Our Lord was criticized because He kept company with publicans and sinners. God is able to take the worst sinner living today and make a saint of him. But men with all their do-good programs and reformation cannot do this.

77. Why don't we hear more about Jobs wife?

She was not much good as a wife. When Job was in trouble and grief, she was no comfort. All she had to say was that he should curse God and commit suicide (Job 2:9). God did not see fit even to put her name in Scripture. The same with Lot's wife.

78. Why did God have a program of healing in the apostolic times and not have it today?

During the time covered by Acts, the kingdom was still at hand. If any at that time would have been careful to study Daniel 9, they would have been able to set the date of the Lord's second coming and the setting up of His kingdom. It would have been A.D. 85, just 490 years from the dedication of the temple after the exile (405 B.C.). With that near coming at hand, it would be fitting that those who believed and entered into the kingdom would be alive and ready to meet the King at His coming. So the sick were healed and the dead raised during the time that the kingdom was in view. But when the kingdom was postponed at Acts 28:28, the gifts of the Spirit ceased. The two days of Hosea 6:2 must intervene before Israel will be raised and come into their kingdom. Resurrection and being manifested with Him in the heavenlies is the hope of the members of The Church which is His body today. A resurrection at about the time of the great white throne of judgment is the hope of those who have everlasting life, but no adoption (See Job 14:12 and compare with Rev 20:11). Thus we can see that there is no gifts of healing and the like today.

79. How about the common teaching that the church is Spiritual Israel? Is it true?

I am afraid that we will never be able to find the expression Spiritual Israel in the Bible. It is not there. History tells us that this expression originated with a man by the name of Origines. He was a Greek writer and teacher of the third century. It was a theory that God was forever thru with the Jew and now all the blessings and covenants had been transferred to the church. A few years later the Emperor Constantine saw in this a great chance to improve his position as ruler. This would make a fine basis for a church-state, making war in the name of and with the aid of religion, for ritual, pomp, splendor, and ecclesiastical theatricals. We have on hand today the tragic results of that lie, that theory, which has caused to much bloodshed and misery in centuries past. And if we are not careful, organized religion will again take over and rule the world. Then there will be great tribulation.

80. Is water baptism essential for the remission of sins?

Isaiah had a coal of fire laid upon his mouth, which in touching his lips took away all his iniquity and purged all his sins. Our Lord spoke to many during His earthly ministry, remitting their sins without baptism. The members of The Church of the administration of The Mystery are not under law, and they today have redemption through His blood, and the forgiveness of sins. They have only one baptism and this is explained in Col 2:12,13 as being identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, even to a quickening with Him with the accompaniment of forgiveness of sins. No water baptism is mentioned in connection with The Church. It is a part of the law and the kingdom of Israel. But there are even now those who claim that they are Jews (Rev 2:9; 3:9)

81. It would seem that Romans 2:14 proves that man did not have a fall, but by nature does the things of the law. How do you see it?

The epistle to the Romans has suffered much at the hands of its friends, the commentators and the expositors. It is a case of being very careful to read the address on the envelope, to find out to whom the apostle is speaking. This epistle is written to the church at Rome which was made up of Jewish and Gentile believers. The man spoken to in verse 1 of chapter 2 is seen to be the Jew (see verse 17). When we read Galatians we see that the Gentile believers in the churches were not subject to the law of Israel. This is also brought out in the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). So here in Romans 2:14 Paul is reminding the Jewish believers that the Gentile believers did by nature (the new nature in the believer) the things contained in the law. This would only be natural, for the law did contain the righteous requirements of God for His people. This does not say that the Gentiles observed the ritual of the law. That was settled in Acts 15:24-29.

82. There is a great deal of mention of the book of life in the Revelation. There seems to be a danger of being blotted out of it. How can one know his name is in this book?

This is another example of carelessly reading the Word. The book of life is mentioned about 7 times in the Revelation. Once it is called the Lamb's book of life (21:27). This might give us a clue. But the best explanation for it is given in Daniel 12:1. The names written in the book are those of Daniel's people, that is, Israel. So we do not look for the names of Gentiles to be written in that particular book. The Revelation is about Israel, their tribulation, and the overcomers. It is possible that there might be a book for the Gentiles, but you will find that elsewhere.

83. Do we today have need of the Advocate mentioned in 1John 2:1?

Under the law, men were judged by the law (Romans 2:12) and those that do not have the law cannot be judged by it. Where there is no law, sin is not imputed and therefore there can be no summons to court or a charge made against the sinner (see 2Cor 5:19 and Romans 5:13). Those under the law prayed that they might be forgiven as they forgave others. But we who are under grace are to forgive others freely because we have been forgiven (Eph 4:32). We have no need of an Advocate today, for we have forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7 & Col 1:14).

84. What was the spiritual condition of the rich young ruler when he came to the Lord and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life?

This young man who must have been a "somewhat" in the synagogue was already a believer. He recognized the Lord as the Messiah, the King of Israel. His request was what he must do to have a place of importance in the kingdom. The reply of the Lord was very similar to His words in Matt 19:29. It meant the forsaking of everything in the world for His name's sake. The price was too high for this man.

85. Did Paul continue establishing churches or assemblies after Acts 28:28?

There is no record that he did. Neither is there any record that such churches or assemblies were in existence after Acts 28:28.

86. What part, or parts, of the gospel of John are truth for this administration?

In the first place, we do not use the term "this administration." If the administration of The Mystery is meant, then John's gospel is not to or for it. But John's gospel is truth for today. So many are misled by the expression "this administration," thinking it means this age or time in which we live and that it means a way in which God is dealing with mankind today in general. God does have a special way of dealing with the administration of The Mystery, a church already seated in heavenly places. But for the rest of humanity today, John's gospel applies (John 3:16). There is no administration teaching for today in this gospel. That which applies today and which is for Gentiles (the Jews have been set aside, 1:11), is 1:1-18; 3:13-21; and 3:31-36. The reason for the writing of the gospel is given in 20:30,31. There are some short explanations through the book for Gentile readers, and then the last 2 verses of the book are up-to-date.

87. Should those who are Christians gather together at some place for worship today?

It may be that the word worship is somewhat overdone these days. Even in Israel, the temple was the designated place of worship. The Synagogue was not a place of worship, but a place to teach the Scriptures and also as a court where men might be tried under the law and penalties meted out. Paul knew this very well, for he had been beaten in the Synagogues many times. In the epistles written after Acts 28:28 the word worship occurs just once. That is in Ph'p 3:3 where Paul says, For we are the (true) circumcision, which worship God in the spirit. This is an echo of John 4:23 where the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshiper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. That worship has nothing to do with a place, a priesthood, nor a ritual. It is natural for those who love the Word and the One of whom it speaks to gather together, but we have no such command today. Leaders often wish it and even pretend it so they can get a following and a big collection.

88. Do you believe that there are 2 bodies?

In the administration of The Mystery there is 1 Body (Eph 4:4). In the administration of promise there was 1 body (1Co 12:13). Whether that included all believers I cannot tell. It may have been just the church at Corinth. So there was one body, and there is one body. But they are not the same. The first was of Israel with an earthly hope. There is one now of Gentiles already seated in heavenly places. The first was to minister to the nations of the earth. There is one now making known the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers in heavenly places. We are aware that most of Christendom does not know much about right division and the mystery.

89. I am curious about Acts 17:11. What was it that Paul told the Bereans, and what Scriptures might they have looked up to see if it was so?

You have done well to stop and ask such a question. Not many have done that. In the same chapter, in verses 2 and 3, you will find what Paul preached; And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them (the synagogue of the Jews), and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus-whom I preach unto you, is Christ. So it is clear that Paul was preaching and arguing from the Scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their Christ and Messiah, the King of Israel. In verse 7 his enemies charge him with saying, that there is another king (than Caesar), one Jesus. The theme of their Scriptures, the OT, is of the coming kingdom and the King. And this is what the Bereans found. Paul was not preaching the administration of The Mystery. Even if he had, they could not have verified his message from the Scriptures they had, for it was a subject that had been hid in God from ages and generations (Eph 3:9; Col 1:26). Be sure to check this.

90. How can we know that the "voice" in Isaiah 40:3 refers to John the Baptist?

The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write of John the Baptist, For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. This is quoted from the reference you gave. Also you will find that a messenger is to be sent to proclaim the coming of the Lord, the God of Israel (Mal 2:16,17; 3:1-4). This is the same Lord and God referred to in your text. Not only does John the Baptist fulfill the place of the messenger, but Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord and the God of Israel whose way is to be made straight. Christ is Jehovah.

91. Could it be that Philippians 2:9-11 refers to the man, Jesus, who is another creature or a god?

In this reference it is plainly stated that the highest name possible is given to Jesus of Nazareth. That name is found in Psalms 7:17, the first of 36 places it occurs in the OT. It is Jehovah-Elyon, or, Jehovah the Most High God. There is no name above this one. If Jesus of Nazareth was not Jehovah, the Most High God, then our Bible is wrong, not inspired, and can not be trusted. We might just as well throw it out and lean on our own understanding. Here is a further quotation from Isaiah 45:23, I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear. In this same context it is made plain that there is no other Savior. However Satan still is saying, Yea, hath God said! We find our directions made clear in 2 John 9,10, Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ (what the Word testifies of Him) , hath not God ...If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. Just remember, the greatest of sins is unbelief.

92. What is the meaning of Romans 9:6 where it says, " For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Does this have to do with the true seed?

The true and the false seed are not in this context. Rather, the downfall of Israel and the blessing of the Gentile believers is the subject of chapters 9-11 here in Romans. Paul is making it plain that the true Israel of God is not all made up of the descendants of Israel, but also includes Gentiles. In his first epistle, Paul said to the Gentile believers, And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:29). In verse 9 of the same chapter we read, So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Now keep in mind that this is in the administration of promise, not The Mystery. Israel is still first.

93. Did John the Baptist have a message and a baptism for Gentiles?

There is no record that he did. In fact, there was no ministry to Gentiles in the NT until the day that Peter went to the house of Cornelius in the city of Caesarea (Acts 10 entire).

94. There is much talk these days about Moses being married to a black woman, and also that Philip preached to a colored man of Ethiopia. Do these have any bearing on truth for today?

None that I can think of. Zipporah was the wife of Moses. She was the daughter of a priest in Midian. His name was Reuel, Raguel, or Jethro. The Midianites were children of Abraham by his second wife, Keturah, and so would be the same race and color as Moses. Since Midian was in Arabia, a part of the land of Cush, she would be a Cushite by nationality, but a Midianite by race. So what? The eunuch, to whom Philip spoke, is not. said to be an Ethiopian, but from Ethiopia. He had the Scriptures and had been to Jerusalem to worship. So we must conclude that he was a Jew that was a slave in high position with the queen of Ethiopia. This would correspond with the condition of Daniel in the court of Nebuchanezzar and later in the court of Darius the Mede. I might add that the queen of Sheba was very probably not of Ethiopia, as tradition says, but queen Hatshepsut of Egypt (Sheba meaning south).

95. What is meant by the evil day in Ephesians 6:13?

There is a chance that at some time during the truth of the administration of The Mystery there may come a time of tribulation or trial upon those who dare to speak this truth. The spiritual failure and barrenness we see in Christendom today can well lead to such a condition.

96.  Are we to approach the throne of grace in prayer today as indicated in Hebrews 4:16?

The word throne does not appear in any of the epistles Paul wrote after Acts 28:28. It is not found in the gospel of John which was also written this side of Acts. Throne has to do with a King and a kingdom. There is no place for a throne in The Church. In the plural, it occurs in Col 1:16, but it is concerning thrones, dominions, and the like in heaven and earth, not the throne of God.

97. In Romans 6:14,15 it speaks of not being under the law, but under grace. Was not the Jew still under the law then?

Yes, the Jew was still under the ceremonial law, known as the law. But in the reference you gave, there is no article. Under faith, love, and grace, the Jew was no longer subject to the moral law. The moral law is contained in the last 5 of the 10 commandments. You can readily see that if one loves his neighbor as himself, then this moral law is made void. It is rather a strange thing to say that law is for the lawless. But that is right. The Gentile believers in Rome had the new nature and so did the things of the law, even though they never had it (Romans 2:14). Romans 13:8,10 shows that love is the fulfilling of the law (the moral law).

98. According to Ephesians 3:2 is not this the age or administration of grace?

No. This verse tells us that a special administration of grace was given to Paul that he might preach the gospel of the administration of The Mystery. Just notice how Paul follows this statement up in verses 7 & 8. Compare with Col 1:25 where he speaks of his ministry being an administration of God to him. The next verse speaks of this ministry as The Mystery.

99. When did water baptism cease to be the rule for God's people?

The apostles and Paul baptized with water in the Acts era. Paul makes it known that after Acts 28:28 there is one baptism (Eph 4:5) and in Col 2:12 this baptism is described as being identified with Christ in death, burial and resurrection. So we must conclude that water baptism ceased at the end of Acts.

100. Is it true that two distinct purposes of God are revealed in the Bible?

Yes that is true. (1) There is a distinctive purpose revealed concerning Israel, the kingdom, and the earth program (not connected with powers in the heavens). The kingdom phase culminates in the coming of the King, the rapture of His people, Israel, and the setting up of the kingdom. (2) There is another distinctive purpose revealed after Acts 28:28 which has to do with the Gentiles (nations) and this in connection with heavenly places and heavenly beings. This is The Church. All believers outside these two distinctive purposes from Adam till now will have their part with the dying malefactor in paradise (the new earth). This groups all believers into 3 groups, but with 2 spheres of blessing, the earth and the heavens.
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