Etikettarkiv | heaven

The FIRMAMENT in Biblical Genesis – something visible and SOLID – the meaning of raqia

footstool

Acts 7:49 ”Heaven is My throne, and the earth a footstool of My feet”

And God said, Let there be A FIRMAMENT in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters (Gen. 1:6)

(Bible verses further down below.)

Heroic efforts have been made to explain away the firmament which we can read about in the Bible, partly because of the clear implications that it is durable enough to hold waters above it, but still small (and near) enough to enclose the celestial bodies which Genesis talks about. This Biblical information bothers many Christians due to their hard task to try to fit in the moon landings, the ball-shaped earth and heliocentrism – which are believed to be modern truths that must be saved to all costs. The Evolution theory is naturally impossible to save if the earth is not made through a Big Bang billions of years ago because lots of time is required in order to make this theory sound plausible.

It is more honest to read the Bible without trying to save certain theories, even if we are convinced they are true, because it is never a sin to read Biblical texts in its proper context. Even secular people must admit that the Bible has over the years proved to be a highly trustworthy book because of the many details about cities, people, leaders, wars, coins, etc, which have parallels also in other old sources as well as in history and archaeology. It is therefore interesting to see what the Bible says about the firmament – which this blog post is about. If we try to be neutral with no preconceived ideas, what does the Bible really say about it?

It is of interest to see how the Greek Septuagint has rendered the Hebrew word raqia with help from the holy Spirit. The answer is the noun στερέωμα (stereóma) from Strong’s 4733, meaning a support, strength (solidity), firmness, steadfastness. It derives from the verb στερεόω (stereoó) from Strong’s 4732, and can mean strengthen, confirm, establish, solidify, make strong, make firm. HELP’s word studies: Cognate: – make stable (solid, immoveable). The adjective is στερεός (stereos) from Strong’s 4731, and the short definition is hard/firm. It can also be translated solid, steadfast or immoveable.

The first occurrence can be found in the first chapter of Genesis (Gen. 1:6) where we can read about God’s creation. This means that raqia/stereóma is something physical that was made. The latin Vulgate has translated the word firmamentum.

The Bible contains many verses where the writer is in total awe about God’s creation of the heavens and the firmament, but if the firmament is nothing physical but at the most air or space, then this type of ”handiwork” is not much do be impressed about. However, if the firmament is a physical vault covering the entire earth and containing the stars, the sun and the moon, then it is definitely something to mention in a psalm.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens [shamayim] declare the glory of God; and the firmament [raqiya] sheweth his handywork.   

Since also theologians can be in error about the Bible, even if it is scarce, the best tools to verify the meaning of a term are:

  1. The Bible itself. To see how the same term is used elsewhere in the Bible.
  2. The Septuagint can be used to check equivalent Hebrew expressions in Greek. 
  3. Other old trustworthy writings from the same period, particularly those referred to in the Bible (the book of Enoch, the book of Jasher).  
  4. Old church fathers – the older the better. What quotes do they use, and how do they understand the term? Which lost books do they speak highly of? (See here that the church fathers indeed believed in a physical firmament.)

Based on the above tools, it is very hard to come to any other conclusion than that the firmament is a physical object above the sky – the outer edge – and the celestial bodies are placed in it.

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus of the Antiquities of the Jews — Book I, The constitution of the world and the disposition of the elements:

1. — After this, on the second day, he placed the heaven over the whole world, and separated it from the other parts, and he determined it should stand by itself. He also placed a crystalline [firmament] round it, and put it together in a manner agreeable to the earth, and fitted it for giving moisture and rain, and for affording the advantage of dews.  

Ez. 1:22, Rev. 4:6 and Rev. 22:1 speak about the firmament as likened to crystal, and it is clearly something visible and amazing:

Ez. 1:22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

Rev. 4:6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

Rev. 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

If the firmament is constructed as the Bible explains, naturally no moon landing couldmark twain ever have taken place. With or without the firmament problem, there is absolutely no evidence that man has ever been to the moon, but there is evidence that NASA has lied to us and faked all moon missions (check out also other NASA lies linked to the ISS, the Hubble telescope, etc). The reason why it is now 2018 and people still believe man has been on the moon, is because they are convinced that NASA would not lie to them, because they believe thousands or millions of people must have been involved (which is totally false), and because they have not seen films such as ”A funny thing happened on the way to the moon” (proves cheating), or Jarrah White’s youtube channel Moonfaker, or Marcus Allen’s moon hoax films or any of the fake moon landing photos on aulis, etc. Instead they rely on mainstream media and that they must avoid alternative news to be good and obedient citizens. It really should be enough to see the press conference right after the first moon landing, where the three astronauts should have danced around the room of joy just for having survived the round trip despite all the radiation impact and other risks, but instead they looked like their favorite dog just died. Surprisingly, they could not even remember if they could see any stars on their trip or not. Michael Collins claimed he could not remember seeing any stars at all (contrary to Neil Armstrong’s claim), but later in his book he mentioned all the beautiful stars he could see.

Bible verses showing the Hebrew verb raqa and the Hebrew noun raqia

The English word ”firmament” is based on the Latin word firmamentum, used in the Vulgate and this term in turn is derived from the Latin root firmus – a cognate with ”firm”. It is a Latinization of the Greek stereōma which appears in the Septuagint version of the Bible.

The original Hebrew noun in the Old Testament is raqia (Strong’s 7549) and can be translated as an extended surface or expanse. Bluletterbible also offers ”a visible arch of the sky”. This noun is used 17 times in the KJV.   

The corresponding Hebrew verb raqa (Strong’s 7554) could be translated into: to beat, beat out, stamp, hammer and spread out thinly, like the process of making a dish by hammering thin a lump of metal. This verb is used 11 times in the KJV.

Let us start with the Bible verses with the verb form, so that we can easier understand what the noun might mean thanks to the details. The most interesting verse is Job 37:18 which could be translated as God beating out the skies as strong as metal. 

Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, Strong as a molten mirror? (NASB)

Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror? (ESV)

Below, the verb use in the KJV This verb is for example used when we read about beating gold into thin plates, plates being made broad to cover an altar, goldsmiths spreading out gold over graven images, silver spread into plates, and God stretching out the earth (most importantly, when he spreads out the sky which is strong as molten looking-glass).

Job 37:18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?

Ex. 39:3 And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.

Num. 16:39 And Eleazar the priest took the brasen censers, wherewith they that were burnt had offered; and they were made broad plates for a covering of the altar:

2 Sam. 22:41 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.— 43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.

Ps. 136:6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Is. 40:19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

Is. 42:5 5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein

Is. 44:24 24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Jer. 10:9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

Ez. 6:11 Thus saith the Lord God; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.

Ez. 25:6 For thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel

flat earthBelow, the noun use in the KJV – this noun is for example used to show something visible, solid, with a certain color (crystal) and brightness, and strong enough to hold water above it. There is water both below this firmament (on the earth) as well as above. We know from films of stars that they indeed look like they are placed behind a layer of water. The firmament is also called ”heaven” but is specifically explained as ”the firmament of the heaven”. The celestial bodies (the lights) are placed in this firmament and not above it. The lights are there specifically to give light upon the earth, and to be used as signs for the inhabitants of the earth. The birds were created to fly in the open firmament of heaven”. Based on psalms, this firmament is still in existence to show the glory of God. The firmament is stretched forth over our heads and Ezekiel describes the firmament to be rather near, because the odd-looking creatures with wings will be close by this firmament with their voices heard from it. The context of Ezekiel requires a literal vault or dome.

Gen. 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.— 14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

 Ps. 150:1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Ez. 1:15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.— 22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. 23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

Ez. 10:1 Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.

Dan. 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever

Other versesearth

Other equivalent verses about the firmament which looks like a tabernacle or tent. A rotating globe circling around the sun naturally does not need a ”foundation”, nor any pillars to stand on. Spreading out the firmament/vault/tabernacle as a tent over the earth, for the inhabitants to dwell in, would be hard to imagine on a ball.

Is. 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

Job 9:1 Then Job answered and said —6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. 

Job  36:29 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?30 Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.

Job 38:44 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?— 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.

Job 26:7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.8 He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.9 He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.10 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.

1 Sam. 2:7 The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the PILLARS of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.

Psalm 104:2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

Psalm 148:4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.

1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.” 

The Apocalypse of Baruch is not a canonized book, but it could still very well be that this book confirms the Bible in part or in total. It seems like the Bible, lost books/pseudogrypha, old church fathers, the Septauagint, etc, all say the same thing: The firmament is solid. 

Greek Apocalypse of Baruch, 3:5–8:

”Those who gave counsel to build the tower, for they whom thou seest drove forth multitudes of both men and women, to make bricks; among whom, a woman making bricks was not allowed to be released in the hour of child-birth, but brought forth while she was making bricks, and carried her child in her apron, and continued to make bricks. And the Lord appeared to them and confused their speech, when they had built the tower to the height of four hundred and sixty-three cubits. And they took a gimlet, and sought to pierce the heavens, saying, Let us see (whether) the heaven is made of clay, or of brass, or of iron. When God saw this He did not permit them, but smote them with blindness and confusion of speech, and rendered them as thou seest.

Stars will fall to the earth, and people continue to live

Stars can fall from the skies according to Daniel 8:10 and Matthew 24:29, as well as Revelations.

Rev. 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 1And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb

Rev: 8:10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Rev. 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Ps. 147:4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

If one star let alone all the stars in the sky fell on the earth, no one would be able to either hide or speak since the earth would burn up long before this happened.

The book of Enoch – a flat earth bookflat earth 5

Numerous manuscripts of 1 Enoch have  been found in Ethiopian monasteries, and they have also been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. The book of Enoch and the book of Jasher are both quoted in the Bible. This means that we should not view the text lightly, but rather with the assumption that they likely contain valid descriptions of our past.

The punishment of the fallen angels described in 2 Peter seems to resemble the book of Enoch, as does much of the wording in Revelation. The Epistle of Jude does not only reveal that Genesis should be taken literally (Enoch is in the 7th generation from Adam), but also supports the book of Enoch when it comes to the punishment of the angels – even if the book of Enoch contains many more details. By attributing prophecy to Enoch, Jude gives much support to the validity of his book.

Jude 14 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.—And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

The book of Enoch contains too many descriptions of the sun, moon, stars and angels, etc, to cover here, but here are some quotes:

1 Enoch 1:1. The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. 2. And he took up his parable and said–Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come.

1 Enoch 18:1. I saw the treasuries of all the winds: I saw how He had furnished with them the whole creation and the firm foundations of the earth. 2. And I saw the corner-stone of the earth: I saw the four winds which bear [ the earth and ] the firmament of the heaven. 3. And I saw how the winds stretch out the vaults of heaven, and have their station between heaven and earth: these are the pillars of the heaven . 4. I saw the winds of heaven which turn and bring the circumference of the sun and all the stars to their setting. 5. I saw the winds on the earth carrying the clouds: I saw the paths of the angels. I saw at the end of the earth the firmament of the heaven above. —9. And I saw a flaming fire. And beyond these mountains 10. is a region the end of the great earth:there the heavens were completed.  — 15. And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times. 

1 Enoch 21:1. And I proceeded to where things were chaotic. 2. And I saw there something horrible: I saw neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth, but a place chaotic and horrible. 3. And there I saw seven stars of the heaven bound together in it, like great mountains and burning with fire. 4. Then I said: ‘For what sin are they bound, and on what account have they been cast in hither?’ 5. Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me, and was chief over them, and said: ‘Enoch, why dost thou ask, and why art thou eager for the truth? 6. These are of the number of the stars of heaven, which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here till ten thousand years, the time entailed by their sins, are consummated.’ 7. And from thence I went to another place, which was still more horrible than the former, and I saw a horrible thing: a great fire there which burnt and blazed, and the place was cleft as far as the abyss, being full of great descending columns of fire: neither its extent or magnitude could I see, nor could I conjecture. 8. Then I said: ‘How fearful is the place and how terrible to look upon!’ 9. Then Uriel answered me, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: ‘Enoch, why hast thou such fear and affright?’ And I answered: ‘Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of the pain.’ 10. And he said unto me: ‘This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever.’

1 Enoch 33:2. And to the east of those beasts I saw the ends of the earth whereon the heaven rests, and the portals of the heaven open. 3. And I saw how the stars of heaven come forth, and I counted the portals out of which they proceed, and wrote down all their outlets, of each individual star by itself, according to their number and their names, their courses and their positions, and their times and their months, as Uriel the holy angel who was with me showed me. 

1 Enoch 72:2-5. This is the first commandment of the luminaries: The sun is a luminary whose egress is an opening of heaven, which is (located) in the direction of the east, and whose ingress is (another) opening of heaven, (located) in the west. I saw six openings through which the sun rises and six openings through which it sets. The moon also rises and sets through the same openings, and they are guided by the stars; together with those whom they lead, they are six in the east and six in the west heaven. All of them (are arranged) one after another in a constant order. There are many windows (both) to the right and the left of these openings. First there goes out the great light whose name is the sun; its roundness is like the roundness of the sky; and it is totally filled with light and heat. The chariot in which it ascends is (driven by) the blowing wind. The sun sets in the sky (in the west) and returns by the northeast in order to go to the east; it is guided so that it shall reach the eastern gate and shine in the face of the sky,

According to this description, stars that rise and set do so through openings in the dome, just like the sun and moon. Enoch describes the sun and the moon as being of the same size. Most stars belong in certain star constellations, but there are also wandering stars who do not follow the order. They are the ones which have transgressed the commandments of God because they do not arrive punctually (1 Enoch 18:14-15). Like the Bible, 1 Enoch typically depicts stars, and the ”sons of God” as living, anthropomorphic beings. This is consistent with Job 38:7, which says that when the earth’s cornerstone was laid “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted aloud.”

Also King David describes the sun as a male, and just like Enoch and David too speaks about chambers, running a race, etc:

Ps. 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Job  9:1 Then Job answered and said,2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?— 6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.

FE 4No need to fear the flat earth movement and their arguments

The last thing that Satan would do is to push people straight into the arms of God, but this is exactly what the flat earth movement is doing. For this reason there is no reason to be upset with people who have come to the conclusion that the earth if flat based on the Biblical information (others have of course come to this conclusion regardless of the Bible), and who do what they can to refute Big Bang, Evolution, heliocentrism, a global earth, etc. If they are wrong, it is better to explain why and present better arguments. Satan does not even want people to believe in God in the first place, so flat-earthers are certainly not his best friends. Not all flat earthers are Christians, but they still inadvertently highlight the existence of a Creator and that the earth, with its inhabitants, is the absolute center of his creation and with everything revolving around it. This is far from the naturalistic and materialistic world – with no room for a Creator – which we are brought up to believe in.

The Bible explains that our Creator can be detected through his creation, by the things that are made. Naturally then Satan would like to do all he can to hide this divine creation from the people of the earth, and he also offers other an alternative which does not require a Creator to start with.

Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the THINGS that are MADE, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

Satan’s presentation of our existence includes Big Bang and Evolution in order to deceive people to turn their backs on a Creator, but heliocentrism is also a piece of this puzzle (and the idea that the earth is a planet among other planets) since it reduces the earth into a tiny little speck circling the sun in a vast universe which likely contains more ”earths” with living creatures since the earth is far from unique. This in turn reduces human being into brief parentheses in time, with no purpose, without a God who loves them, with no value whatsoever and particularly with no future. In Satan’s world, the earth is far from placed in the center, but is rather mere dust which came about by chance.

The Biblical creation account is the exact opposite. In the Bible we can read that the earth is the center of God’s world, is his footstool, hangs on nothing, is immovable, is placed on four pillars, human beings on it are the crown of his creation, has a firmament/dome/vault/arch over it which is stretched out like a tent to dwell in, stars are small enough to fall on earth, etc. Flat-earthers would even say that the Bible straight out says that the earth is flat.

Revelation 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 

The word ”breadth” above is a description of the shape of the earth, and not certain parts of the earth. The word is a translation from the noun πλάτος/platos, Strong’s 4114, which means broad, something stretched out, flat, wide and is sometimes interpreted as ”broad plain” = NASB. The adjective is πλατύς, Strong’s 4116, which can be used as a description of a street. The origin comes from the verb πλάσσω/plassó, Strong’s 4111, which can be defined as ”forming/spreading/flattening out”. NE provides the information that it is connected to the French word plateau, of platel, which is a flat object.  

The above is no proof for that the earth is flat, but rather that the Biblical authors believed it was. If you want to learn why people believe in the flat earth, I recommend Mark Sargent’s Flat earth clues or the youtube channel ”Celebrate truth” (the latter from a Christian perspective).

You can read about ”the circle of the earth” from Is. 40:22 in this blog article.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God! Jesus kingdom or his Father’s kingdom?

kingdomSeeking the kingdom of God should be our highest priority

We are not supposed to be careless about our needs and do nothing while we expect God to provide for us by letting someone regularly knock on our door and hand over money and a few bags of groceries. The general idea is that if we don’t work in order to provide for ourselves and our families, then neither should we expect to get something to eat. In Matt. 6:31-34 Jesus point is that miracles can indeed happen (we can get food, clothes or a sum of money) if we end up in severe circumstances and if we seek the kingdom of God first. If we seek the kingdom of God first, it results in us having the main goal to stay faithful to God, and also to be eager to keep a close contact with him and spread the gospel to others.

Matt. 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

2 Thess. 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

Jesus reason for making his statement (to not worry about what to eat or drink), is to warn us from serving two masters. In this day and age it’s a risk that we live too much in the world and think about worldly agendas and problems instead of focusing on God and his kingdom. We can’t serve both God and mammon and still survive.

Matt. 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

The final return of Jesus will definitely be apparent for everyone, but when it comes to the kingdom of God it can be said to be within us and will not be able to be observed in the same way. It’s also something that we can look forward to in the future. Thanks to the holy Spirit who is within us, we can get a foretaste of the love that we can expect in God’s kingdom.

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

The kingdom of God is of course GOD’s kingdom, so why does Jesus often say it’s his (Jesus) kingdom? 

The above question must of course be addressed to anti-Trinitarian. Jesus talks about ”MY table in MY kingdom”, and why does he do that if the kingdom belongs to his Father alone? Isn’t it particularly unfortunate to express oneself in such a way that takes honor away from his Father, and to confuse so many honest readers to believe that Jesus has a kingdom of his own as though he would be God? Anti-trinitarians would of course respond that the only reason for Jesus to have a kingdom is because his Father had given it to him, which would be further evidence for the Father’s superiority (they say). I’ve already addressed Jesus free will subordination here, but on top of this it would make more sense if Jesus made sure to always give all honor to his Father (who doesn’t share his honor with anyone according to Isaiah) by always referring to his kingdom as ”my Father’s kingdom” or just ”God’s kingdom”. Surely the kingdom doesn’t cease to be God’s kingdom also after having given it to Jesus? So it would never be wrong to consistently use the terms ”my Father’s kingdom” or ”God’s kingdom”, but Jesus often calls it his own.

Luke 22:28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;30 That ye may eat and drink at MY TABLE IN MY KINGDOM, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matt. 20 20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in THY kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

Matt. 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

John 18:36 Jesus answered, MY kingdom is not of this world: if MY kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is MY kingdom not from hence.

Ps. 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of THY kingdom is a right sceptre.

Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

The kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven are the same

Example concerning the rich young man who sought eternal life.

Matt. 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Example, when Jesus explained to his disciples why he spoke in parables

Matt. 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Mark 4:9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

Luke 8:9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Example, when Jesus explained the parable about the mustard seed

Matt. 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Mark. 4:30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

Luke 13:18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

Example, when John the Baptist and Jesus urged people to repent in order to be saved

Matt. 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matt. 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

Mark. 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

See more examples by reading Matt, 5:3 + 10 Luke 6:20-22, and by reading Matt. 11:11 + Luke 7:28, and by reading  Matt. 19:14 + Mark. 10:14

 The famous THRONE of God that is in heaven is sometimes referred to as Jesus throneright side of God2

Unless we’re talking about the twelve thrones of the patriarchs in the new Jerusalem, the throne of God in heaven is always stated in singular form. God sits on this throne, but Jesus is often depicted as sitting on his right hand side. Both the Father and the son are capable of being in several places at the same time (Jesus is for instance able to be in the midst of groups of 2-3 people who pray in his name) so nothing is out of line with the idea that they are separate individuals on this particular throne. (The trinity contains three ”persons” in one and the same God.) Sometimes the throne in heaven is referred to as being Jesus’ throne.

The four beasts around the throne called the one sitting on the throne ”God almighty”, and they declare that the reason for him to be worthy and to receive glory, honor and power is because he has created all things. As we will remember, both God the Father and Jesus are referred to as having created all things, which indicates that they are one and the same God. Similar expressions, and more, are attributed to the lamb (Jesus) ”Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing”, and they all worshiped him.

Rev. 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: FOR thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Rev. 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. —5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;—11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down andworshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Daniel 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

It’s a common Biblical expression that ”the throne of David” shall endure for ever, even though everyone naturally understands that King David’s reign naturally won’t last for ever in a literal sense. Jesus Christ, however, is from the seed of David and his throne is promised to be established for ever. ”His throne” can be applied to both God the Father and Jesus Christ.

1 King. 2:45 And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever.

2 Chron. 18:18 Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.

Ps. 9:7 But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.

Ps. 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

Hebr. 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Ps. 89:3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.—13 Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.—28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.-–35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

Ps. 103:19 The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Matt. 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  

Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

Acts 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

Hebr. 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

The ”thrones” in plural seem to be related to the thrones in the new Jerusalem – the thrones of judgment. More specifically, the twelve tribes of Judah who will be judged from twelve thrones belonging to the apostles. But we can also read a psalm about thrones prepared for those who keep God’s covenant.

 

Ps.132:12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.

Ps. 122:5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Jer. 1:15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith theLord; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

Jer. 17:25 Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.

Matt. 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Rev. 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 

Paul makes it clear that nothing and no one was before Jesus since he created ”all things” in heaven and on earth. Whether we’re talking about visible or invisible things, or whether we’re talking about THRONES, dominions, principalities, powers, etc. NOTHING existed before Jesus Christ since he was absolutely FIRST. This means that God the Father couldn’t have existed one single second prior to Jesus existence, but he could certainly have existed simultaneously as him. God is eternal, and God the Father and Jesus Christ both belong to the eternal Godhead.

Col. 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him

Was Paul not yet morally perfect according to Phil. 3:12?

goalPhil. 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already PERFECT: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 

The context for this verse is the RESURRECTION of our bodies, and that’s important to keep in mind. If we don’t understand that it’s about the resurrection, there is a risk we might misunderstand Paul and believe that he is talking about a moral perfection and that he has failed to live morally upright here on earth. Paul doesn’t talk about moral perfection but about a bodily perfection, because as long as we remain in our earthly bodies we must accept that we are not physically perfect but actually rather weak and fragile. Our goal is to one day enter the kingdom of God, and get new glorified bodies. Jesus asked us to be perfect (which you can read more about here), and naturally Paul wouldn’t argue against his Master.

Phil. 3:2 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 

Those who are the circumcision (of the heart) are those who worship God in spirit, and that is in contrast to those who obey their flesh. Only those who worship God in spirit will one day inherit the kingdom of God, so this is a condition for salvation.

Phil. 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, BLAMELESS (”found blameless”, NASB). 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

The problem with the pharisees was that they were not clean on the inside but only on the outside, and Paul counted himself as a pharisee who was eager to obey God and his laws (as he understood them).  Even if Paul was a learned man with a good reputation, he feels that  such worldly glory isn’t worth anything in comparison to what he has found in Jesus Christ. We are told to not love the world or anything in it, but we are supposed to live our lives for Christ and his kingdom. Naturally Paul doesn’t suggest that it’s now less important to be faithful to God compared with before.

Phil. 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Paul’s aim is to win Christ and be found in him, and that means that he has to move forward and leave the   Jewish ceremonial laws behind him and put his faith in Jesus Christ. The eternal life that Jesus offers is by faith   (evidenced by obedience from the heart) and one is not saved only because he is born a jew and circumcised. Paul says again, in Phil. 3:2, that those are circumcised who worship God in spirit, and who rejoice in him. If we have sinned (and we have), we are not able to be cleansed and righteous in ourselves but we rely on righteous blood shed for our sake. We can be righteous if we confess our sins and repent, because then we become cleansed from our sins in the precious blood of Jesus. Paul makes a difference between works of the law (the entire Torah with its 613 laws) and obedience to God.

Phil. 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Above is the direct context to v. 12. It’s about the resurrection of the dead, which is the goal for Paul, and when he writes to the Philippians he hasn’t reached this goal yet. Paul presses forward towards the prize, but he still calls himself PERFECT, and shows that he isn’t the only one being perfect.

Phil. 3:15 Let us therefore, AS MANY AS BE PERFECT, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Paul isn’t physically perfect, but he is morally and spiritually perfect.  He asks us to walk by the same rule, based on  perfection.

Phil. 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.(NASB)18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Paul – who calls himself holy, righteous and blameless  – asks others to follow his example. If he would be mixing good deeds with bad deeds (sin), he wouldn’t be a very good example for us, but he would be a big hypocrite and someone to stay away from.  Paul weeps about those who are not walking with him on the narrow path to God, and he calls them enemies of Christ. Their end is destruction! That’s because they have their mind on earthly things instead of focusing on God.

Phil. 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Paul continues to talk about the resurrection in heaven, and the new glorified bodies. He doesn’t say that he isn’t able to fight his flesh successfully unless he first gets a new glorified body. We don’t have to wait until we die before we can be faithful to God, but we can live holy lives here and now. Not even Jesus was ”perfected” until the third day in his resurrection, so it’s about the physical body.

Luke. 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Paul about himself:

1 Thess 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:—12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

1 Cor. 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (NIV)

Rom. 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.–12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.—16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 

1 Cor. 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Saved as by fire as per 1 Cor. 3:15? Yes, but NOT if we sin!

eldIf any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Cor 3:15)

This verse does not say that we can be saved in our sins, and notice that sins are not even mentioned in the context. This is a warning to christians (not sinners) who might not always build their lives on a proper foundation, and sometimes also lack the proper motivation for doing good works.

There are christians who are satisfied by with having a ”fire insurance” – an insurance that gives them the right to at least be exempted from hell, as long as they believe in Jesus Christ. They are content with this type of  insurance because this means they can still get away with sinning once in a while, and the only thing they would ever risk amounts to reduced rewards in heaven. They might think it’s worth it because heaven is always heaven, and with this type of insurance they can both have their sins and their salvation too. You might exclaim that ”true christians wouldn’t reason in that way!”, but isn’t it true that also christians can choose to sin? And isn’t it likely that they might give in for sins more readily if they are being told they won’t end up in hell for it? The tragic thing is that we do NOT have an unconditional fire insurance. We risk to be cut off the vine and thrown in the fire if we lack fruit (John. 15), and we will not reap eternal life in heaven if we break the commandments and sin. If we love Jesus, we obey him (John. 14:15).

The context in 1 Cor. 3:15 shows that it concerns believing christians and their building material and building methods. Sin is nowhere mentioned, and it’s not even needed to be mentioned since we already know from the rest of the Bible that sins separate us from God unless we repent. Nothing unholy shall enter heaven, and sins evidently make us unholy.  We can read that the foundation that we build upon must be JESUS CHRIST (and not ourselves, a philosophy, a pastor, a church, a dear friend, money, high status, tradition or someone/something else).  It’s the motives in our hearts that will be judged by God. He can see what ground we are building on, and the reasoning in our hearts.  Our motive should be to spread the gospel about Jesus Christ in order to see people saved.

Paul is addressing ”brethren”, but he is warning these brethren. He also lists a few sins that would make us carnal, and if we are carnal we are not saved:

1 C0r. 3:For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

Rom. 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Speaking about christians, Paul says that they shall receive ”his own reward” according to their LABOR. This indicates these christians at least do some work, which means they produce some good fruit. That is a good thing because we know that lukewarm christians are not saved. We will reap the reward of eternal life if we show our faith with good works, and we will also be rewarded individually depending on our works.

1 Cor. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Rom. 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Paul warns christians that they must take heed on the way they build their lives, and every man’s work shall one day be made manifest. Do we work in order to get a popular position in the society, or because we want to go with the flow? What are our true reasons?

1 Cor.3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

Paul says ”IF any man’s work abide”, meaning it’s not certain it will. It’s still ”work”, but will it abide? It depends on the motives. If it abides, the man shall receive both eternal life and individual gratification, but if the work does not abide but burned he will be saved but as by fire. If the man would be sinning on the other hand, he would not even be saved as through fire, but he wouldn’t even be able to enter the kingdom at all. This story is about christians who WORK, in combination with their motives for doing so. Paul ends with a warning to christians that if they defile the temple of God, which they all are, they will be DESTROYED.

1 Cor. 3:14 IF any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.15 IF any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Read also the next chapter which is also about the intent of the heart.

1 Cor. 4:Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Three chapters later Paul lists sins that will prevent us from entering the kingdom of God, and christians are not exempted:

1 Kor. 6:Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

We can unfortunately be the cause for that a brother stumbles/falls/is offended, by the way we are living our lives:

1 Kor. 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (”stumble” NKJV)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)

woe

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

Something in this world that is considered evil must surely be SIN, and sins are committed by individuals. SINS are related to darkness, and darkness is the opposite of light. If we try to teach others that sinners are still considered righteous in the eyes of God – as long as they are born again believers – because he can only see the blood of Jesus and not their sins, then the woe above is actually addressed to us. Then we are in fact saying that sin is not evil enough to make us lose our salvation over it and that we are still labeled righteous (because ”Jesus paid for our sins and we are already forgiven” or ”once saved always saved” – or some other unbiblical terms).

The best example of someone calling evil ”good” is when Satan managed to fool Eve into believing that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be a GOOD and wise thing to do even though GOD had declared that it was BAD to eat of this tree and against his commandment.  Satan suggested that Eve could be as GOD if she ate of this tree and Eve decided to give it a try thanks to the assurance from Satan that she would NOT DIE if she DISOBEYED GOD! So what God declared wrong – and therefore EVIL – Satan declared GOOD. God prohibited Adam and Eve from eating of this tree and this means that acting to the contrary of his command would be a SIN. God assured Adam and Eve that they would DIE if they ate from it and Satan said the exact opposite. Isn’t it rather common today that pastors and evangelists repeat Satan’s lie and teach others that sins will NOT separate us from God (as long as we are christians)? Satan’s lie can be presented in many forms so be on your guard!

Genesis 2:17 [God says] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.

Genesis 3:4 [Satan says] —YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

It was of course not the fruit in itself that was bad. The reason why eating of this fruit was bad was because God forbade it, likely because this rule would actually force Adam and Eve to make a stance on whether or not trust and obey God each time they passed this tree – just like a simple test which wasn’t difficult to obey at all. This means that the sin they ended up being guilty of was that they DISOBEYED GOD and by doing so REBELLED against him. So it was DISOBEDIENCE that was the SIN, and God said that SIN leads to DEATH. In Adam and Eve’s case it was both a physical death (no longer access to the tree of life) as well as a spiritual death, and we will all die spiritually if we sin. Teaching the opposite (for instance trying to exempt christians from this rule) is to repeat Satan’s lie.

Perhaps you have been in a church where the pastor in a similar way assures you that you shall NOT DIE if you SIN because you are eternally and unconditionally secure in your salvation once you’ve become a child of God (+ if you sin ”habitually” it shows that you’re ”not saved to begin with”). Have you ever heard someone declaring to you that ”sinning will only make a true christian lose his RELATIONSHIP with God but will never risk his soul” and ”God will not see a true christian’s sins but only the blood of Jesus”? Then this pastor is deceived and at risk for being a person who calls evil ”good”. Malachi 2:17 tells us that we can dissatisfy our Lord by suggesting that a person who sins is still GOOD in the sight of God and that God still delights in him and that he will not judge him for his sins. The opposite is true:

Malachi 2:17 Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

It’s actually rather common for pastors to declare that a christian is fine and off the hook (from the risk of being judged and punished) as long as he is a born again christian. There is of course FORGIVENESS to get for a person with a truly repentant heart – because our Lord is mighty and always ready to take us back into his arms – but it’s dangerous for the soul to be told that sins will not separate us from God. Instead we should encourage each other to not give into temptations, and to not stray from the road to Heaven by sinning. Temptations can be hard enough as they are and we don’t need anyone patting us on our backs, assuring us that everything is well with our soul despite our sins:

James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way SHALL SAVE A SOUL FROM DEATH, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

I’m aware of that pastors could have been fooled about this (major) issue just like Eve was, and just because a pastor is wrong about this he could still be right in many other areas and even lead many people to God (praise God for that), BUT the fact remains that this pastor needs to be taught about the true ways of God so that he can repent from his false teachings and be an even more useful tool to spread the gospel. Many of us (like myself) have incorrectly believed all kinds of false teachings and even taught them to others, but we have also chosen to stay corrected by scripture and amended our ways. Unfortunately, there are pastors who are not willing to listen and learn but they prefer to close their ears and continue to deceive people into believing that we can have our sins and our salvation too, because this is what people out there would like to hear.

Example of a person who teaches that evil is good

If someone claims that what Satan did to Eve (fooling her to sin by assuring her that she would not die) was actually something GOOD and even predestined by God, then this person is definitely a person who calls evil ”good”. To claim that an activity that God calls wrong and evil for something ”good” is simply dangerous. John Calvin taught that Adam and Eve were predestined BY GOD to fall and that means that in order to be consistent with his own teaching he must call EVIL for ”GOOD” since God’s own actions couldn’t be evil. I’m sorry if you dislike that I bring him up, but we are told to expose false teachers now when souls are at stake.

“God NOT ONLY foresaw the FALL of the first man, and in him the RUIN of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure ARRANGED it” .(John Calvin (Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, XXIII)

“The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 8)

“Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly DECREED” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 3)

“We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also THE COUNSELS AND WILLS OF MEN are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which HE has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)

The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as HE COMMANDS, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)

“But since he foresees future events only by reason of the fact that he decreed that they take place, they vainly raise a quarrel over foreknowledge, then it is clear that all things take place rather by his determination and bidding.“ (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

King David says:

Psalm 38:18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.20 They also that render evil for GOOD are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. 

Who will be greatest in heaven?

Those who say that it’s impossible to obey the ten commandments and that we have no option but to sin once in a while until we die? Those who say that a person can only be righteous if God declares him righteous in the midst of his unrighteousness? Those who claim that too much obedience to Jesus is legalism, pharisaism and salvation by deeds and something to flee from? Those who teach that we are saved by faith ALONE? Those who teach that we should not expose false doctrines but compromise with the scriptures in order to not cause division? No, those who DO (obey) the commandments and who also teach others to do the same will be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Those who do the opposite – teach men that it’s hard or impossible to obey God’s commandments – will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Note that Jesus doesn’t teach here that sinners will at least GET IN to God’s kingdom despite their sins. He continues to say that our righteousness must EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and the pharisees in order to get into the kingdom of heaven. So why does it appear as though we can enter the kingdom of heaven in v. 19 (albeit being called LEAST) despite acting in the wrong way? There might be evangelists who are deceived and who teach the wrong doctrines once in a while without being aware of it, and they might NOT live as they teach. A deceived pastor might for instance teach that we are born with a sinful nature and ”once saved always saved” without being a filthy sinner himself, and he might do a lot of good deeds for the kingdom of God through evangelism and hard work. The question is how interested he will be to change his doctrines once being shown from the Bible that he is in error? Will he be open for correction or will he close his ears and continue to spread errors? God can see our hearts and our intentions. Just pray that God will show you the truth and that you live your life so that you won’t risk to be called LEAST in the kingdom of God, or even worse; that you won’t enter the kingdom at all due to sin.

I can add that it’s just as bad (or worse) to know the right doctrines and still be very lazy when it comes to sharing the gospel to others and rather sit at home and complain about the failures of other christians.

The difference between the Sheep and the Goats in the parable, is what they DID and DIDN’T DO

Jesus says in John 5:29 that at the resurrection those who have done good will get LIFE and those who have done evil will get damnation. James, Paul, John and Peter say the same thing.

John. 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

James. 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

1 Pet 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the SOUL;

What we DO makes the difference whether we will be able to enter God’s kingdom or not (even if we of course must believe that Jesus is God who has come in the flesh and that he has died as a sin offering and cleansed us from our sins with his blood). The Bible is filled with commands that we must DO things to be saved (not lose salt, go through the narrow gate, endure to the end, carry our cross daily, etc) and this might be surprising for us in Scandinavia, because we have been influenced by Martin Luther to a great deal. He was a person who didn’t take much delight in the book of James (according to his own words) where he could read things such as:

James. 2:20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our fathered by faith alone” even though the Bible says we’re not saved by faith alone. 

We tend to believe that if we must DO anything at all to be saved, then it is ”works salvation” and the biggest theological error under the sun (and a sin). Naturally we can’t save ourselves, because we are all in need of cleansing in the blood of Jesus, and we can’t earn our salvation by anything we do or believe, but there are still conditions for our salvation and that is to believe, repent and obey God. This is something that we must DO. Matthew 25 contains three parables that all have the point that what we DO affect our final destination – heaven or hell. This might be referred to as heresy in the Church today, but the Bible disagrees. Read the parable between the sheep and the goats. Both the sheep and the goats believed in the one they communicated with – Jesus – and also demons accept that Jesus is the son of God and even confess this out loud! This won’t save them, which is James’ point. (Not that demons are angels and can’t be saved, because the subject in James 2 is ”Deeds”.) Faith without deeds is dead. 

The final judgment 

Matthew 25:31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, andye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, andye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. 

The difference between the sheep and the goats is therefore what they DO. The sheep end up on the right side, and they are the ones that have done something good (righteousness), and the goats end up on the left side, and they are the ones that have neglected to do something good. They have NOT shown compassion and mercy. Lack of fruit can hinder us from entering the kingdom of God. We can read this in John 15 where the branches are cut off and thrown in the fire due to lack of fruit. We are not  saved by merely believing in a ”package”. We could compare with the angels in the beginning of the creation. I don’t believe they had a problem to ”believe in God”, or to accept him as their Creator. Still, we can read that 1/3 of them fell when they followed Lucifer on his wicked ways. It was once again what they DID which affected the continuation of the story – in the future they will be thrown in the lake of fire which was prepared for them from the beginning of the world, due to their deeds.

The other parables in Matthew 25 are the well known parables of the ten virgins and the one about the talents. All the ten virgins ”believed” in the bride groom and waited for his arrival. What they DID and DIDN’T DO made all the difference for what happened next. They all had lamps, but half of the girls had chosen to not bring any extra oil even though this might be needed. We can see that it probably concerned spare oil since the foolish girls said the lamps are ”gone out”. This means the lamps had previously given light, but they did not endure to the end due to lack of oil. We are told by Jesus that we must endure to the end to be saved! The wise girls had chosen to bring some spare oil with them which was a good choice. Our choices make the difference! Also the parable with the Talents shows that our choices and our actions affect the outcome of things, and also here we can see that it concerns eternal life (with various rewards) or eternal damnation.

I know that I write a lot about repentance and righteousness in my blog, and that is because these topics are neither that common, nor popular, despite that they are very important subjects because they concern our SOULS. The devil’s only goal is to make us SIN so that we won’t be able to enter God’s kingdom. He tempts us and tries to provide us with excuses to sin. I believe the devil wants to reassure us that we can be saved by faith alone with no deeds, and that sin will not separate us from God. Wouldn’t it be horrible if he managed to deceive us into thinking ”What a relief that God loves me just the way I am, and that he views me as righteous despite that I live unrighteously at times, and that it’s enough to BELIEVE in him to be saved” IF this is not true? Just imagine if we on Judgment Day would have to say…”Oops!”

1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?