“Though he were dead” – A Controversial Understanding of John 11:25-26

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Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life:
 a. he that believes in me, though he were dead [i.e. 1st Death], yet shall he live [i.e. 2nd Life]:
 b. And whosoever liveth [i.e. 1st Life]and believes in me shall never die [i.e. 2nd Death].
 Believest thou this?

John 11:25-26 KJV

John 11:25-26 – The Problem of a Superfluous Verse

Like many other verses in the bible, John 11:25-26 uses certain words in multiple senses. This means that the reader needs to be extra careful when trying to understand such verses in order to avoid ending up with the wrong interpretation. What I am about to say will no doubt shock many readers, but after much study, I strongly believe that John 11: 25-26 is referring to the idea that it is possible for (at least some of) the dead to believe the gospel in that state. I hope to demonstrate this discovery by carefully revealing what I believe to be the true meaning of key terms in this passage. Specifically, I believe that the term “dead” (in v.25) does not mean the same as “die” (in v.26) nor does “live” (in v.25) mean the same as “liveth” (in v.26). In other words, the verbs die and live are words to which these two verses have ascribed multiple meanings. Of course, when John 11:25-26 employs different meanings for the same word, this is not done in order to engage in equivocation (i.e. the accidental or deliberate use of a key term in an ambiguous way) but for the sake of achieving contrast through the use of a biblical literary device known as an antithetical parallelism. According to Biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger’s Figures Of Speech Used in the Bible, the antithetical parallelism is used to demonstrate an antithesis, or contrast between certain words in each part of a symmetry . Verses which comprise an antithetical parallelism will therefore join opposing ideas in a noticeable contrast. Instead of repeating the same thing twice (as is done in a synonymous parallelism), an antithetical parallelism will say one thing in the first line and then a different thing in the next. Yet, most explanations of John 11:25-26 which I have encountered miss Christ’s glaring attempt at creating a contrast, and end up with what is effectively the same proposition for both verses. For instance, respected Bible commentators Albert Barnes and Adam Clarke both suggest that John 11:25 refers to the granting of eternal life to those who happen to die in a state of belief, while John 11:26 refers to the granting of eternal life to believers who are currently alive (but will also eventually die) [ref]. But if this is the case, then why is Jesus saying what is effectively the same thing, twice? What is the difference? No, there has to be something else going on in this passage. It is for these reasons that I have concluded that John 11:25-26 requires greater scrutiny.

Because the usual meaning of the verbs “die” and “live” seem inadequate to account for the contrast required between verses 25 and 26, we need to consult the Scriptures for more guidance. It’s as if the word “dead” (in verse 25) and “die” (in verse 26) require two different types of death, and the words “live” (in verse 25) and “liveth” (in verse 26) require two different notions of what it means to live.

Interestingly enough, the bible does tell us that there are actually two types of life and death that a person can experience. Let us first examine the two deaths. Continue reading

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What does it really mean to be “dead in trespasses and sins”?

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Colossians 2:12-20
(12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
(13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him [Christ], having forgiven you all trespasses
(20) …therefore…ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world…

Ephesians 2:1-6
(1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins
(5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
(6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Romans 6:3-4 
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 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:

The goal of this essay is to determine what it means to be “dead in trespasses and sins.” I am concerned that the popular spiritual death explanation ascribed to this phrase by many Christian leaders is misleading. From Romans 6:5 emerges a rule which tethers the words death and resurrection to each other in such a way that both words must be taken in the same sense—they are both either literal or figurative. No mixing of a figurative death (e.g. spiritual death) and a literal resurrection is therefore permitted. This point is important because in the passages of Ephesians 2:1-6 and Colossians 2:13-20, both the Romans 6:5 rule and the force of logic compel us to conclude that the Author is using the terms dead and quickened symmetrically.

Continue reading

A Defense of the Sabbath’s Perpetuity

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The Perpetuity of the Sabbath

In the section entitled: “The Perpetuity of the Sabbath” of his book The Sabbath, Dr. Fruchtenbaum tries to undermine the meaning of several words in the bible that are commonly used to describe time-unending so that he can make a case for the cessation of the Sabbath ordinance. Since the bible uses words like forever, everlasting and perpetual in conjunction with the Sabbath ordinance (Exodus 31:16, Exodus 31:13, Exodus 31:17, Leviticus 24:8, 2 Chronicles 2:4), and since these words are all translated from the Hebrew word olam, Dr. Fruchtenbaum has therefore chosen to undermine the primary meaning of the word olam in order to argue that olam does not support the English meaning of the word forever. Continue reading

Christians worship on Sunday because of the Sunday Resurrection and the deliberate Sunday appearances of the resurrected Christ. Really?

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Unless otherwise noted, all verses below are taken from the King James Version of the bible.

Table of Contents

  1. The Introduction
  2. Christianity is a Jewish faith
  3. God told the Jews when to worship
  4. God wants Gentile believers to keep the biblical Sabbath
  5. The Scriptures say that New Covenant Sabbath-keepers will receive a better name, a better heritage and much more!
  6. Early Christians assembled on the Sabbath Day
  7. If the Sabbath has truly been abolished then why should the Church still assemble?
  8. The Sabbath law was done away with in the New Covenant but it will soon be mandatory in the New Covenant. Wait, what?
  9. The Sabbath law is a necessary inference of Genesis 2:2-3
  10. The seven-day week betrays the ongoing relevance of the Sabbath
  11. Are there certain commandments in the Mosaic Law which are no longer applicable? If so, what does this mean?
  12. The Law has been “abolished” yet it “remains in effect.” Are you confused? So am I!
  13. According to Hebrews 4:9, there remains an “observance of the Sabbath”
  14. Are those who disregard the Sabbath being disloyal to God?
  15. Exploring the origins of Sunday worship
  16. Hijacking the “Lord’s Day”
  17. Extra-biblical Evidence of Sabbath-keeping Throughout Church History
  18. Constantine, Antisemitism and the persecution of Sabbath-Keepers
  19. Ecclesiastical forgeries and the Roman State Church’s involvement in Sunday Worship
  20. Keeping the Sabbath obligates one to keep the whole law? Really?

The Introduction

This may come as a shock to some, but in all of the bible, there is no verse which commands Christians to come together for corporate worship on a Sunday. Neither is there a verse which records Christians coming together for routine worship on a Sunday.

There is the oft-cited Acts 20:7 which mentions a Sunday evening Christian gathering (which would actually be Monday in Jewish reckoning) where the apostle Paul preached until midnight, but the purpose of this meeting was for fellowship and dinner, hence the term “breaking bread” which is used therein. Sometimes “breaking bread” can also refer to partaking in Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper (e.g. Matthew 26:26, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17), nevertheless, this biblical phrase, on several occasions including this one (see Acts 20:11), only referred to eating a meal (e.g. Lamentations 4:4; Luke 24:30,35; Acts 2:46; Acts 20:11, Acts 27:33-35 etc.). Another verse often cited is 1 Corinthians 16:2 but this verse pertains to private preparation, doesn’t even mention a Christian gathering, and is therefore wholly irrelevant to the matter of corporate worship. Continue reading

It is witnessed that Melchizedek lives forever.

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In the series “10 reasons why Melchizedek was actually the pre-incarnate Word of God” the following article is reason # 10.

It is witnessed that Melchizedek lives forever.

According to Hebrews 7:8:

And here [on earth] men that die receive tithes; but there [in heaven] he [Melchizedek] receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

In Hebrews 7:8, the counter-phrase “he liveth” must mean that Melchizedek has and will live forever because it is the direct contrast to the initial phrase “men that die.” But where in the bible exists a witness that Melchizedek cannot die? The answer is found in Psalms 110:4 which the writer of Hebrews quotes no less than 5 times (Hebrews 5:6; 5:10; 6:20; 7:11; 7:17; 7:21). In Psalms 110:4, God declares that Christ—and not Melchizedek—is a high priest for ever. Notwithstanding, the good and necessary consequence of Psalms 110:4 is that Melchizedek must also be a high priest forever since Christ’s designation as a perpetual high priest is predicated upon a trait of Melchizedek’s order (Hebrews 7:17). To illustrate this point further, If God, speaking of Caiaphas were to say “you’re going to be a high priest until the day you die, after the order of Levi” this would tell us that in the Levitical priesthood, high priest are “not [allowed] to continue by reason of death.” (Hebrews 7:23). This is understood because the trait of a temporary high-priesthood which God attributes to Caiaphas is derived from the order of Levi. Likewise, when God in Psalms 110:4 declares that Christ is a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, this tells us that in the Melchizedek priesthood, high priests hold their position perpetually. But again, we can’t have both Christ and Melchizedek being perpetual high priests at the same time so this discovery can only mean that Christ and Melchizedek are the same person. If this conclusion sounds similar to another one that we have encountered in the past, it’s because the proposition that “Melchizedek lives forever” is a necessary implication of him “abiding a priest continually” which we discussed in Reason 6.

Regarding Hebrews 7:8, Dr. Henry Morris states:

This “witness” was in Psalms 110:4, where the coming Messiah was recognized by God as “a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec.” There could be only one such high priest forever! The King of Righteousness (meaning of “Melchizedec”) who blessed Abraham is also our eternal High Priest, the “one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Timothy 2:5).

Melchizedek was a heavenly high priest not an earthly one.

melchizedek2In the series “10 reasons why Melchizedek was actually the pre-incarnate Word of God” the following article is reason # 9.

Melchizedek was a heavenly high priest not an earthly one.

Hebrews 8:1-5 says:
(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;
(2)  A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
(3)  For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
(4)  For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there [on earth] are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
(5)  Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Did you notice how Hebrews 8:3 could present a problem for those that claim Melchizedek was an earthly king and priest practicing the true religion in Salem? The verse clearly states that since every high priest must offer both gifts and sacrifices that it was therefore necessary for Jesus being a high priest to have something to offer as well. And indeed He did have something to offer; for He offered His own shed blood in the holy place in the heavenly tabernacle, once and for all! But what of Melchizedek? What did he have to offer? It certainly couldn’t have been the blood of bulls and goats since Hebrews 10:4 says that such a sacrifice would have disqualified Melchizedek’s priesthood from being one which promises (in Hebrews 7:11 & Hebrews 10:1) to perfect its subjects. Neither could Melchizedek have offered his own shed blood since that would have obviated Christ’s sacrifice. So again what did he offer? Such is the dilemma for those that espouse the idea that Melchizedek was an earthly priest in Salem.

Moreover, Hebrews 8:4 rules out the idea that Melchizedek’s priesthood was being practiced on earth during Abraham’s time since it tells us that there is no way that Jesus could be a priest on earth. Hebrews 9:24 confirms this by stating that Christ is serving as a high priest in heaven. Since Jesus is a high priest after the order and similitude of Melchizedek it follows that Melchizedek couldn’t have been a priest on earth either. Furthermore, Hebrews 8:5 says that the heavenly tabernacle not only preceded the earthly tabernacle used by the Levitical Priesthood but was the basis for its blueprint. This fact combined with the realization that Melchizedek was the first priest mentioned in the bible seems to indicate that he was a high priest in heaven before there was even one on earth.

Regarding Hebrews 8:3-5; 9:2, Dr. Henry Morris states:

The only true tabernacle is in heaven (Rev_21:3, Rev_21:10-11), but God’s glory had filled its earthly model (Exodus 40:34) when its construction was carried out according to the pattern given by God to Moses (Heb_8:5)…The “example” [in Hebrew 8:5] is an actual set of plans, as it were, and Moses was instructed concerning all its details…The design of the tabernacle in the wilderness, with its appurtenances, is described specifically in Exodus 25-27. Many of these details, as well as the worship services specified for the tabernacle, were models of the heavenly tabernacle and types of the spiritual ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest…The heavenly tabernacle is a real physical structure in the real place called Heaven.[1]

Since the true tabernacle in heaven preceded the earthly tabernacle of the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 8:5) and the true tabernacle has a “minister of the sanctuary” (Hebrews 8:2) then it is not unreasonable to think that the perpetual intercession of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:3) was and is being carried out in the true tabernacle and that Melchizedek is actually Jesus the Christ the perpetual high priest who intercedes with His blood which was shed “from the foundation of the world.(Revelation 13:8)”

References
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1. See notes on Hebrews 8:3-5; 9:2, The DEFENDER’S Study Bible, Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

Melchizedek was without sin.

melchizedek2In the series “10 reasons why Melchizedek was actually the pre-incarnate Word of God” the following article is reason #8.

Melchizedek was without sin.

Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:27)

According to Hebrews 7:27, one of the key differences between the Levitical Priesthood and that of Mechizedek’s is that the high priests of the former needed to first offer up a sacrifice for their own sins before sacrificing on behalf of the people’s sins. In contrast, that prerequisite of sacrificing for the high priest’s personal sins is not needed in the Melchizedek priesthood. This can only mean that the high priest of the Melchizedek priesthood is already without sin. This conclusion is confirmed in Hebrews 7:28 were we read that Jesus is perpetually consecrated. Specifically, it says:

For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. (Hebrews 7:28)

Therefore, if being without sin is a characteristic of the Melchizedek priesthood and Jesus is a priest forever after the order and similitude of Melchizedek, then it follows that Melchizedek was also without sin. Yet, in all of history there has only been one person who is without sin, for Matthew 19:17 reminds us that there is no one who is immutably good and incapable of reproach except God. 1 Kings 8:46 says that there is no man who does not sin. 1 John 1:8 says that If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. So we know by these verses that mere men cannot be considered sinless. The compelling conclusion that follows from all of this is that Melchizedek must be Christ the God-man.