Bible Questions Answered

Did Christ Have a Pre-Existence?

JN8:26 There are many things I have to say and judge about you [Jews]. However, the One who sent me is real, and what I have heard ‘alongside Him,’ [Proverbs 8:30 LXX] these things I am speaking to the world.” [21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures - NCMM]

The phrase “alongside Him” is PAR AUTO in Greek. The phrase also occurs at John 8:38, 40. In John chapter 8 Jesus refers to his pre-existence “alongside” the Father before he came into the world. What proves to be interesting that PAR AUTO also occurs at Proverbs 8:30 in the context off a created son who was begotten before the creation of the earth. Proverbs 8:22, 30 reads from the 3rd Century BC Jewish Greek Septuagint: “YHWH created me [the] beginning of His way for His works. … I was alongside Him [PAR AUTOU] arranging everything. I was His delight, and daily I rejoiced in His presence continually.” Jesus makes the same reference again in his Passover Prayer at John 17:5, “And now glorify me, Father, alongside Yourself [PARA] with the glory that I had alongside You [PARA SOI] before the cosmos existed.” [NCMM] The word “before” [PRO] is also a word which occurs four times in Proverbs 8:23-25. John 1:1 also uses a word from Proverbs 8:23, EN ARCHE [in a beginning]. There seems reasonable material in Jesus’ own words that both he and John allude to Proverbs 8:22-30.

Who Are “Genuine Disciples”?

JN8:31 As a result, the Jesus spoke toward those Jews who had believed in him: “As long as you remain in my Word you are my genuine disciples.” [NCMM]

The phrase “genuine disciples” is also rendered by Goodspeed as “really disciples of mine.” In his parable of the Sower, Jesus foretold the time when his field would be sown with both wheat and weeds. [Matthew 13:36-43] The Nazarene’s words above indicate something about “genuine disciples” and at the same time suggest there are not so genuine or real disciples. The “genuine disciples” are identified as those Christians who “remain in [Christ’s] Word.” At the very least such would first have to know and be familiar with the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Gospels. Then, they would need to “remain” in his Word. The word “remain” is also rendered: continue, abide, live in, faithful to, hold fast to, dwell within. Does this not move all with a desire to become more acquainted with the Lord’s teachings? This can be done by making those red letters in the Gospels a regular source of personal Bible reading and study. Though all of the Scriptures are God-breathed [2 Timothy 3:16] we note Hebrews 1:1, 2, “On many occasions, and in a variety of ways in ancient times, The God spoke to our [Hebrew] forefathers by means of the Prophets. In these last days He spoke to us [Hebrews] by means of a Son.” [NCMM] If we find ourselves losing our godly joy, perhaps it is due in part because we have ceased remaining in his Word? Nothing heals the inner person more than letting that Christine “living waters” flood through our heart and mind. No other portion of Scripture is more filled with God’s Power than the Words of our Lord Christ.

How Important is Meditation?

Psalm 1:2 [Their] greatest pleasure is in the law of Yehowah, and in His law they study day and night.” [ModVer]

The phrase “study” here is also rendered: reads in an undertone, talk with himself, meditate, recites, pouring over it. Since most ancient Hebrew worshippers did not possess a copy of the Scriptures, it was vital they learned to remember and recite portions. The psalmist David encourages the godly person to utter these in recitation, as in prayerful meditations, both during the day and during the night. Such sincere efforts will be a source of blessings, or happiness, to the one who has become so familiar with His Word. This kind of person is characterized by several observable things mentioned in Psalm 1:1, 3 - a] they do not walk in ungodly advice; b] walk the road sinners tread; c] join the company of scoffers; and, d] produce fruitage at the proper time. A little meditation on these characteristics and the sincere worshipper can see these things surrounding us in the modern world. Nothing can protect us more than remaining close to the Word. It should be the goal of every Christian disciple to make familiarity with the Word a life-long pleasure so that as years advance more and more perfect gems from God’s Law will be on our tongue as we meditate day and night.

What Will Happen at the Parousia-Judgment?

MT13:41 The Son of Humankind will send forth his angels and they will cull out of his Realm everything that causes scandal and those doing lawlessness.” [NCMM]

When the Lord Messiah returns in his foretold visible Parousia he sends out “his angels” [compare “his angels” Revelation 12:7] to cull out - or gather, collect out - all those unrighteous undesirables within the Church throughout its history, living and dead. Jesus mentions these angels in both Matthew 24:31 and Matthew 25:31. Those so removed at the time of Christ’s visible manifestation are described as those who cause “scandal” and are “lawless.” The Greek word for “scandal” is SCANDALA and is also rendered: things that offend, causes stumbling, all who are hindrances, spoiling, those who lead others to do wrong. The history of the Church has been filled with such “scandal.” Such persons who stand before “the judgment-seat of Christ” will meet their professed King in shame. [2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28]

The other word used to describe these “sons of the Evil One” is “lawlessness.” Lawlessness may be defined as the transgression of God’s commandments. The apostle John describes “lawlessness” in this manner: “Anybody habitually sinning is a law-breaker. Therefore law-breaking is sin.” [1 John 3:4 NCMM Paraphrase] In John’s context there are two major “commandments” or laws: “Now this is His commandment: first, we believe and trust in the name of His Son Jesus Christ; and, second, love one another just as he commanded.” [1 John 3:23 NCMM Paraphrase] One of the examples John gives in the same chapter is the failure to come to the aid of a brother or sister in need: “For example: if any of us has this world’s resources for maintaining life and is aware than another Christian is in need and yet slams shut the doors of his tender affections - how is it possible that God still loves that person?” [1 John 3:17 NCMM Paraphrase] He actually compares such non-action and disinterest to hatred and murder.

It is interesting to note that “lawlessness” [the breaking of God’s commandments of freedom] is also mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23, “Many will say to me in The Day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? And, in your name cast out demons? And, in your name did many dynamic works?’ And then I shall confess to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, those working unlawfully!’” [NCMM] Or, those who were doing “lawlessness.” Yes, they pointed to great works done “in the name of Jesus” but likely these failed the requirement of 1 John 3:23. These “lawless” ones are the “goats” who see the need of even “one of the most humble of [His] brothers” and yet refuse to come to their assistance. Such negative, disinterested persons are not fit for the heavenly Kingdom of God. [Matthew 25:31-46]

In What Hope do Christians Rejoice?

Romans 12:12a Always rejoice in the hope. [NCMM]

Romans 12:12a reads in the King James Version: “rejoicing in hope.” The Greek has the article and thus it is “the hope.” Paul had earlier described the condition of the human creation as, “The (human) creation groans together and travails in pain together.” (Romans 8:22 NCMM) He continues to show that despite this groaning pain there is a sustaining hope: “We groan eagerly awaiting the adoption (as children), the release by ransom of our Body. For to this hope we were saved. But, hope seen is no longer hope, for why hope for what you can see. But if we hope for the unseen we keep waiting by enduring.” (Romans 8:23-25 NCMM)

This hope is “one” and unique to the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:4) It is The Hope. It is the hope of “partaking in the heavenly calling.” (Hebrews 3:1) This “hope” has two premier elements. The first is described by 1 John 3:2, “Now we are children of God but when (the Son) is made visible we shall see him as he really is.”[NCMM] What a joyous part of our hope, seeing our Lord! But, if possible, there is another feature of the hope even more transcendental and it is recorded at Revelation 22:3, 4: “His slaves will serve Him reverently and they will see His face.” [NCMM] The power of this “one hope” -- one day meeting both the Celestial Christ and his Father, God Almighty -- is beyond description. Such a hope, renewed daily in prayer and Scriptural meditations, will be characterized in our joy. When we find ourselves overcome by “the groaning pain of this human creation” we will prayerfully reflect on that “one hope” of viewing the Father and the Son within the golden walls of the Celestial New Jerusalem. (Revelation chapters 19, 22)

The Bible is a Book of joy and hope. The word groups “joy” and “happy” occur 650 times in one translation. These words appear most often in the Psalms (118 times) and so meditating on these will build the joy of this God-given hope. In the Christian Bible Luke has been called “the theologian of joy” with over 50 occurrences in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. The Bible is also a book of “hope” with this word occurring 240 times. By regularly reading God’s Word and prayerfully meditating on it, hope can be sustained and will manifest itself in a happy and joyful disposition. As in all matters of life, when things are particularly difficult, this joy may reside within instead of revealing itself by the countenance. But, it will be helpful and healthy to keep this hope alive like a burning coal which keeps the inner self warm while the outside may shiver in the cold. Ask: When I consider everything else what is my grandest hope? Did something material come to mind? If I was to make a list of those things which bring me the greatest joy what would be at the top? [Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How are Christians Joined Together?

Ephesians 2:21 … in whom all the building, jointed together, is growing into a sacred, lordly Divine Habitat, Ephesians 2:22 in whom you also are being built up together into a spiritual dwelling place of The God. [NCMM]

The stones in this spiritual Temple have been “jointed together.” The image is of finely chiseled stones carefully made to fit into the next. The Saints are compared to “living stones” by Peter. (Read 1 Peter 2:4-10; compare 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19. Note 1 Kings 5:17; 7:9.) The stones in the quarry were so well chiseled that no improvements needed to be made when ‘jointed together’ in Solomon’s temple. 1 Kings 6:7 says, “As for the house, while it was being built, it was of quarry stone already completed that it was built; and as for hammers and axes or any tools of iron, they were not heard in the house while it was being built.” The test in the quarry is so perfect each Christian fits flawlessly into the celestial Temple. [Compare Colossians 2:19.] This hammering and chiseling involves a process of growth personally and as a Body. [Compare notes at Ephesians 4:13 and Ephesians 4:16.] [Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What do Some Sects Tolerate?

2 Corinthians 11:19 For you, as sensible persons, gladly tolerate those who are senseless. 20 You [Corinthians] tolerate anyone who tries to enslave you, anyone who devours you, anyone who takes from you, anyone who exalts himself, anyone who strikes you in the face. [NCMM]

Paul will list five characteristics of the minister of Satan posing as a church representative, giving all the appearance of an angel of light or a minister of righteousness. [2 Corinthians 11:14, 15] Firs, some, even today, enslave their membership by organizational control. The Christian Judaizers would impose more and more rules and regulations from the Law of Moses to “enslave” the Corinthians. [Note the same language at Galatians 2:4; 4:9; 5:1.] Second, these attempt to “devour” the flock. [Or, plunders, prey upon, spends your money.] One characteristic consistent with most of these ministers of Satan is - money. [1 Timothy 6:5] Third, these satanic ministers are takers and not givers. [Or, TCN: gets you into his power; KNX: vaunt their power over you; PME: if a man takes away your liberty, spends your money, takes advantage of you.] Any minister who attempts to control the lives of the flock, and who expects to live in luxury at the expense of the sheep, is a minister of Satan. Notice his wrist-watch, his car, his home, his clothing, his life-style - and you may find that lovely “angel of light.” Third, the satanic minister exalts himself. [Or, TCN: puts on airs of superiority; PME: puts on airs.] A minister of Satan can be no different than the one who sent him - filled with arrogance and pride. [Compare 1 Timothy 3:6.] Fifth, the satanic ministers “do not treat the flock with tenderness.” [Acts 20:29, 30] There is more than one way to do this: verbal accusations made in public from the pulpit. Satan’s ministers abuse the flock. [Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How Would Jesus Return?

Acts1:11 [The angels] said to the apostles: “Men of Galilee, why do you standing watching toward the sky? This same Jesus, who is departing from you into the sky, will return in the same manner as you watched him ascend into the sky.” [NCMM]

The apostles seem to wonder what is happening. If the apostles had understood Daniel 7:13 at this moment they would have understood: “In my night visions I beheld someone similar to a human being arriving on the clouds of heaven.” [NCMM] This is the Risen Lord now in a spirit-like body. [1 Corinthians 15:40-50; 1 Peter 3:18] The former, fleshly body sacrificed on the Tree, has been accepted by God and used as a sin-offering. [Compare the notes on Hebrews 13:11, 12.] “This Jesus” is the one who will return at his Parousia. [John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17] The Hebrew and Greek for “heaven” may be used of the atmosphere or Sky. [Note Genesis 1:8, 20; Revelation 14:6] How did “this Jesus” depart? It was visibly, until a cloud caught him from beneath out of the sight of the apostles. If this was like a film rewound backward, "this Jesus" would be seen visibly coming on the clouds, and so Jesus foretold. [Matthew 24:30, 31] In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Christ is in the “air.” In Revelation 11:12, 13 the raptured Saints are seen by their enemies as they ascend in clouds. [Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

May Any Christian Know the Time of Christ’s Return?

Acts 1:7 However, Jesus answered them: “It is not for you [apostles] to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed within His own authority. [NCMM]

The apostles had one question to ask before Jesus left: “Was he going to restore the Davidic kingdom to Israel now?” About a week before Jesus had already answered a similar question. He had told them: “Regarding that day or that hour, no one knows - not the angels, nor the Son, but only the Father. So, be on the lookout and remain awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is.” [Mark 13:32, 33 NCMM] Here in Acts 1:7 Jesus says something similar but uses the phrase “times and seasons.” [Or, KIT: times and appointed times; WMS: times and dates; MOF: periods of time; NAS: times and epochs.] The Nazarene’s language rules out even knowing the “season.” And, certainly it rules out computing some “appointed times” and arriving at some chronological date for his Return. Jesus had clearly told his apostles that no one could know the time of his Return. [Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32] The Nazarene warned that any who preached, “the time is at hand,” were not to be followed. [Luke 21:8] [Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Where Did The Apostles Spread the Gospel?

Acts 1:8“You [apostles] will be my witnesses throughout Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [NCMM]

There are three divisions here: Judea, Samaria, and the non-Jewish world. The Nazarene told Peter he would give to him the “keys of the kingdom” and in the case of the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles, it is Peter who initiates the Gospel with these three groups. [Acts 8:14; 10:24] Daniel 9:25-27 suggests that the “Jews first” [Romans 1:16] would have a seven year period of special grace during which the Gospel was presented solely to them. [Matthew 10:6; 15:24] This period covered 29-36 AD, following which the non-Jews were then given the invitation. [Compare notes on Matthew 22:1-14.] It is thought by some that many of the apostles departed Jerusalem before the year 66 and went to distant lands, including England and India. Peter himself writes from Babylon. [1 Peter 5:13]

What Were the Tongues Spoken by the Apostles?

“So how are we all hearing in our own native languages? Parthians, Medes and Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, those from Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egyptians, and those from Cyrene in Libya, visitors from Rome [both Hebrews and Jewish converts], Cretans and Arabs - all of us in our own languages hear them in other languages the mighty acts of the God.” [Acts 2:8-11 NCMM]

The pious Jews from “every nation under heaven” heard these twelve men speaking in their own languages about the magnificent things of God. By examining each of the language groups it can be seen the great distances these men traveled. Thus, later after their baptism and they returned home, we can see thousands of paths leading to every part of the Roman world. Parthians came from south east of the Caspian Sea including as far as India. Christianity would develop in the world of the Persia religion. Medes and Elamites from the Iran Plateau were also from a Persian background. Elam was southeast of Mesopotamia, also called Khuzestan in southwest Iran. Mesopotamia is something of another name for Babylon, including present day Iraq. Thus, these peoples, though likely also speaking Hebrew and Greek, generally spoke a related Persia language. [Aramaic] Judea would indicate that one of the apostles was speaking Hebrew. Cappadocians were from what is today Turkey and Armenia. Pontus was the area around the Black Sea. Asia in the Christian Bible does not mean China, but Asia Minor which included such places as Galatia. Phrygia was also part of Asia Minor. Pamphylia was also part of Asia Minor. All these above places were north of Israel reaching as far as Turkey and India. Most spoke either Persian, Greek, or Latin. Now the list goes south to North Africa where there were large populations of Jews in Egypt and Libya. Then northwest to Rome, the island of Crete; and back to the southwest in Arabia. Thus, like seed-bearing birds, these first Christians carried the Gospel to the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire. [Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

About What Thinking Does Paul Warn?

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. [Revised Standard Version]

Paul warns against being misled by Greek philosophy. The word PHILO-SOPHIAS [love+wisdom] is also rendered: MOF: theosophy; PME: intellectualism; NEB: delusive speculations. Having alluded to Aristotle above, Paul means Greek philosophy in particular. [1 Corinthians 2:13]. Paul also calls this philosophy: empty deceit, hollow sham, idle fancies, make-believe, empty fantasies, high-sounding nonsense, delusive speculations, empty seduction. [Ephesians 4:14, 15; 5:6] Most inspired epistles warn of the coming of false teachers just as the Nazarene foretold. [Matthew 24:4, 24; compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff; 2 Peter 2:1ff; 1 John 4:1ff; and, the letter of Jude] The modern Church in the 3rd Millennium is filled with such persons who continue to “twist the Scriptures.” [2 Peter 3:16] There are thousands on the World Wide Web.

Paul also mentions “human tradition” or “the tradition of men.” Such echoes Matthew 15:9 and the corrupted Jewish doctrines. Such “traditions of men” or man-made doctrine can result in vain worship. [Isaiah 29:13] From the Egyptians, the Greeks developed such doctrines as hell-fire, soul immortality, and the Trinity - none of which are taught in the Bible.

Paul lastly identifies “the elemental spirits of the universe” and such language may confuse a modern reader. The phrase is also rendered: KJV: rudiments of the world; RHM: first principles of the world; GDS: material ways of looking at things; NOR: he may set forth some human tradition, or some theory about the nature of the universe. The phrase “elemental spirits” is from the Greek STOICHEIA [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4747] and literally “elementary things.” This is also an allusion to the Stoic philosophers. [Compare Acts 17:18] The Stoics believed matter and force were the elementary principles of a wholly material world, without a personal God. They believed the soul was the result of an impersonal deity. They were naturalists who sought happiness as the highest virtue. Ultimately their souls would be reabsorbed by the universal Soul or be destroyed with the Universe. They rejected the idea of a resurrection. One does not have to think long before identifying similar thinking in the modern world - a mixture of Darwin and Sartre and evolutionary existentialism. One also sees modern attempts to mix Hinduism [and Buddhism] in a Taoist philosophy of the Universe.

Paul writes that these were “not according to Christ.” A disciple of Christ is a learner of Jesus Christ, their master and teacher. There is a serious danger that modern disciples may spend more time on the doctrines of men rather than the teachings of Jesus. [Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Friends of the Nazarene Publishing

Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

Back to Index to Biblical Articles