March 26, 2009

First let me remind you that I am only a student and because I understand that is all I am if I see something in Scripture that seems different than what others believe I continually reexamine it to make sure I am not misleading anyone.


My post on Proverbs 27:17 is just such a case. I am sure that iron can not be used to sharpen iron. So if you understand the verse as it is written and understand that the word for sharpen is to mean “to increase one’s mental ability”, which is the common way to comprehend the word in this context, we then have a problem with understanding other verses in Scripture. It is not an insurmountable problem, but still a problem.


The duty of a Biblical teacher is commonly thought of as to sharpen another’s understanding of Scripture. The problem as I see it is God appoints some as teachers and yet in the NIV Jesus said call no man teacher (Mat 23:10 NIV) Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. Are we to be teachers and yet not think of ourselves as teachers or allow anyone to call us teachers?


Then if you consider the NIV translation of Proverbs 27:17 you can see that it isn’t even possible to sharpen anyone! That is if you understand that iron can not sharpen iron and you consider the NIV translation without also considering the KJV.


If you think that I am trying to reconcile these two verses of the NIV, you are correct. I believe the Bible to be without error, so if that is true there must be some way that those who God appoint teachers must teach and yet not be recognized as teachers. Well one way that I see is those who have not turned to God do not yet have the Holy Spirit as their teacher and they need a man to teach or show the way.


Before I was saved my pastor seemed like he knew all of the answers and every sermon seemed to fit what I had just experienced the week prior to the sermon and I was excited to hear, but after I turned and was baptized I became critical of his sermons and they no longer pertained to my recent experiences. If he understood this he could have predicted it and even explained it to me, but no one knows everything and I must admit that I have not heard a better preacher.


Let’s examine the KJV, comparing it to the NIV. The KJV translates Proverbs 27:17 quite a bit differently than the NIV. (Prov 27:17 KJV)  Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. The NIV disregards the word countenance, but it is in Strong’s so it is in the original Hebrew language.


Those who use the NIV and who refuse to accept that the second part of the verse determines that the first part is not possible I would bet have no problem believing it when the KJV is considered.


As I understand the KJV it says that when someone is depressed, or down as we would say, there is nothing anyone else can do to change it. Only time will change that, though we try; and we do try. Even Job’s friends understood that (Job 2:13 NIV) “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”


The KJV translates the word “didaskalos” as “master”, which puts a different meaning than the NIV on most of the verses where the word is used, because the NIV translates the word as “teacher” most of the time. But it also translates it as Rabbi in four verses and that when there is a word for Rabbi: that word is “rhabbi” (Strong’s #4461).


I have noticed many differences between the NIV and the KJV as I thought about this deviation, but there is one underlying concept that guides my thoughts. God protects His word and it is not possible to change something that God is protecting. It may be possible to write a different version of God’s word, but it will not prevail. Because both the KJV and the NIV prevail then it is my understanding that God wants both translations of Proverbs 27:17 to be viewed as genuine. For the word of God is living and active.


And here is what angers my brothers, the first phrase in Proverbs 27:17 determines the meaning of the second phrase and iron still does not sharpen iron. Ha-ha, and you thought I was going to change!  


March 17, 2009

Some time ago I wrote a post about the two witnesses spoken of in Revelations. I wouldn’t be much of a student if I was not learning and as I learn I must change what I thought before or I would not be an honest student. So though I do not have all of the answers, and will not as long as I am in this body, I think God has let me understand who the two witnesses are and I would like to share it with you.


First I would like to point out that God has already revealed their identity to us and yet He hid it right out in the open. He is good at that, but then He is good at everything.


Jesus is one of the witnesses and in the same verse he claims that God Himself testifies that he is a witness.  (John 8:18 NIV)  I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” Also consider Rev 1:5 (NIV) and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,


And the Holy Spirit is the second witness. (Acts 5:32 NIV) We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

 The Holy Spirit was sent to Jesus when he was baptized and though Jesus gave up his spirit on the cross Scripture does not say that the Holy Spirit left him. Notice what Jesus said in John 8:29 (NIV)  The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” If Jesus always does what pleases the Spirit then why would He leave him?


Revelations 3:14 (NIV) says, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” Notice that the word Amen is capitalized every time it is used in the Bible. If you search the word Amen you will find that every time part of the law was stated in Deuteronomy the people were to say Amen. As I understand this it means Amen is the One who is saying it. As I understand it Amen is the name of the High Priest of the Law.


Another name for the High Priest of the Law is Melchizedek (Gen 14:18 NIV) Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High.

There are two High Priests that are permanent High Priests. The High Priest of the Law and Jesus who became High Priest after Amen, but at the same time with Amen. Jesus is the Lord of David and Psalms 110:4 (NIV) says, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”


Both High Priests are true and faithful witnesses of God. The Holy Spirit is the witness of God’s law and though Christians are free of the penalty of the law if everyone obeyed the law there would be peace on earth. Jesus is the witness of the grace of God and suffered death on the cross to demonstrate that grace.  


Well let’s consider the two witnesses spoken of in Revelations. First they are very important. They are said to be the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. What man other than Jesus could stand before the Lord of the earth? Just as kind of a sidebar, I believe the Lord of the earth spoken of here is the God of everything, but it could mean Satan (Eph 2:2) who is the ruler of the kingdom of the air and that could be said as Lord of the earth. Anyway it should be apparent that Jesus and the Holy Spirit can stand before either God or Satan.


Notice that the time of the Gentiles and the time that the two witnesses spoken of in Revelations 11:2&3 are really the same amount of time: 42 months = 1260 days, because months in the Egyptian calendar (Read Gentile calendar) consisted of 30 days.

The time of the Gentiles started when God’s chosen people, the Israelites, rejected and crucified Jesus. The two witnesses, Jesus and the Holy Spirit began to prophesy at that time and will continue until they are taken out of the way by Satan.


They are said to be clothed in sackcloth because though they are powerful and could make anyone understand and turn to God they do not exercise that power. Sackcloth is symbolic of humility.


(Rev 11:5 NIV)  If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die.

We read that verse and picture those that would harm the two witnesses as being slain physically and immediately, but it does not say physically or immediately. Those who are enemies of the two witnesses will die the second death at the end of time and it will be because of the words from the mouths of the two witnesses. There must be two or three witnesses in order to convict anyone, and these two also have our Father as a witness. The Holy Spirit will be a witness that they did not keep the law and Jesus will be a witness that they did not turn to him and all three together will be witnesses that the condemned are enemies. They will truly die, because the second death is the real death. Everyone that dies the first death will be raised again to face judgment; either true life or true death.


Verse 8 is a bit confusing if you view the two witnesses as Jesus and the Holy Spirit, because the NIV says, “Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” And the KJV says, “Their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

I think the key to understanding this is the city itself is said to be figuratively or spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. The city spoken of is symbolic and I think it is symbolic of the world. There is no actual city that is called by the name of both a city and a country. Or should I say none that I know of. Anyway the word “their” in the NIV and the word “our” in the KJV is not in Strong’s Concordance. The word “kai” which is translated “also” can also mean “indeed”.


Now you may say that I am trying too hard to fit what I think I understand to Scripture, but you would have to admit that the NIV and the KJV differ in the two words (their and our) and it does change the meaning of the verses. If you read it as ‘where indeed the Lord was crucified’ it would fit my understanding. I am not trying to add or take away anything from Scripture. I am only pointing out a difference and suggesting a different way to translate it. I believe God protects His Word and He allowed the difference between the two versions for a reason, and it is probably too complicated for me to understand. I also am not a Greek scholar: not even an English scholar for that matter so be careful when you consider what I say about such things.


(Rev 11:9 NIV)  For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.

Jesus was in the tomb for three days and those from every people, tribe, language and nation that will not turn to God are refusing them burial, because they refuse to be buried with them in baptism.


In order to be consistent with the second and third verse this period of time is also symbolic, but it seems to me that it symbolizes two things (Death and life). The three days represent the time Jesus and the Holy Spirit spent in the tomb awaiting a proper burial (With anyone that wanted or wants to be baptized) and the half day symbolizes the life of an individual. If a person would live the entire time that God now allots to anyone (120 years) it would be only a little time when compared to all the time given to the Gentiles (A half day compared to three and a half years).


(Rev 11:10 NIV)  The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

The two witnesses do torment those who will not turn to God. On Christmas the inhabitants of the earth do gloat over them and make fun of Christ by celebrating Christmas and sending gifts to each other when they do not even believe in Christ; and the whole world does so.


(Rev 11:11&12 NIV)  But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

This says to me that after three and a half days or the time the two witnesses were in the tomb and the length of an individual’s life the two witnesses will be taken from them and there will be no chance to turn to God left for them and that will strike terror in their hearts. It also confirms that they are enemies of the two.


(Rev 11:13 NIV)  At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Well, OK, so I do not yet understand everything spoken of here. Though I do not understand this verse I know enough to say the time spoken of is more than likely symbolic. Perhaps the earthquake, the tenth of the city and the seven thousand people are also symbolic, that would be consistent, but I really don’t have a clue.


Just as another sidebar, the earthquake when Jesus died on the cross (Mathew 27:51-53) could have been the beginning of the 144,000 that follow Jesus wherever he goes.


It’s your turn! You tell me.