Difficult Texts Made Simple

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Difficult Bible Texts Made Simple

 I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Presented by William Earnhardt, Bible Instructor for the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. Tampa, Florida TampaAdventist.Net

Over the years, as I have presented Bible studies in hundreds of homes from Northern Oklahoma, across Texas and Southern Florida, I still get the same questions over and over concerning certain Bible verses. They are good questions about verses that can be hard to understand. They deserve good answers. I have shared some of these questions that I am often asked. I am not smart enough to answer all these questions. However I am sharing how the Bible solves its own dilemma. If you have any Bible texts that are hard for you to understand, there is a very good chance the rest of us have had trouble understanding it too. Please e-mail me any difficult texts that are not already listed. Together we will find the Bible answer. You may e-mail me at Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net  .

 Table of Contents 

The sign of Jonah                          2

Verses Regarding Salvation        3

Speaking in Tongues                    5

Verses Regarding Immortality    7

Verses Regarding the Law           13

Verses Regarding Temperance     15

Texts Regarding First Day of The Week  18

1. 

Did Jesus say He Would be in the Grave Three Nights?

 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40  

This text has perplexed many people since Jesus was not in the grave for three nights. Some try to move His crucifixion back to Thursday so they can fit him into the grave for three nights. Remember when William Miller thought the earth was the sanctuary mentioned in the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel 8:14? He thought at the end of the 2300 days Jesus would return and cleanse the earth with fire. He had the time right but the place wrong. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the earth is the sanctuary. Likewise in Matthew 12:40, many scholars have the time right but the place wrong. Fact is, nowhere in the Bible does it refer to the grave as being the heart of the earth. After all Jesus was not even buried in the earth but placed in a small cave. This verse can also be translated “in the midst of the earth” or in the “middle of the earth.”

 When Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” He was not referring to “in earth” as the grave but the midst of the earth where all the people are. If you take the day for a year in Bible prophecy mentioned in Ezekiel 4:6, you have Jesus preaching the gospel for three years in the midst of the earth where all the people are.  

The sign of Jonah is not so much about the time anyway. We miss what this verse is really saying when we get all wrapped up trying to explain what three days and three nights mean. The point is, the religious leaders were asking Jesus for a sign while the sinners had already accepted Him. In the story of Jonah the men who throw Jonah overboard prayed to God and believed. The wicked inhabitants of Nineveh believed. The only person who kept rejecting God in his life was the prophet Jonah! Everyone else believed. Jesus is simply saying it is the same now. Sinners believe and accept Him but the religious leaders wont. It is just like it was in the days of Jonah.

How sad that Satan has been able to distract so many people with the “three nights” when that simply has nothing to do with Jesus’ point in this verse. Lets all take heed, lest we like Jonah or the Pharisees have a heart of unbelief while those with less light than we have freely accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.  

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Was Esau Predestined to be Lost?

It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.  Romans 9:12-13 

Some people use this verse to teach pre-destination, saying that God had already decided before Esau was born that he would not be saved. God says that He hated Esau, right? Before we jump to conclusions lets see how Jesus uses the word “hate.” In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

Of course Jesus does not want us to hate our families as think of the word “hate.” All He is saying is we must prefer Jesus above our families. So in Romans 9:13 when God says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau have I hated” all He is saying is, I preferred Jacob to have the birthright rather than Esau. This is very clear as verse 12 tells us that “the elder shall serve the younger.”  The context is very clearly about the birthright and not Esau or Jacob’s personal salvation.

 

Is there no Forgiveness if we sin willfully?

 “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26-27

 Many use the above verse to teach that if we make one willful mistake after accepting salvation we are doomed. The plan of salvation is total victory over sin. Sin is nothing to be trifled with for, “What we do not overcome, will overcome us and work out our destruction (Steps to Christ 32). However, in Hebrews, the sin Paul is addressing is not sin as defined in 1 John 3:4, which is breaking the Ten Commandments. The sin Paul is addressing in Hebrews is defined in John 16:7 as the sin of unbelief. Paul wrote the entire book of Hebrews to confirm the faith of the Christians that Jesus was indeed the Messiah even though He has not returned as quickly as they were hoping. He explains Jesus’ “delay” in returning by explaining what He must first accomplish in the sanctuary before His return. Then he strongly cautions them against unbelief in Jesus as the Messiah as there will not be another Savior or sacrifice for sins.

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“In rejecting Christ the Jewish people committed the unpardonable sin; and by refusing the invitation of mercy, we may commit the same error. We offer insult to the Prince of life, and put Him to shame before the synagogue of Satan and before the heavenly universe when we refuse to listen to His delegated messengers, and instead listen to the agents of Satan, who would draw the soul away from Christ. So long as one does this, he can find no hope or pardon, and he will finally lose all desire to be reconciled to God.” (Desire of Ages 324)

 

Was Pharaoh’s Heart Hardened by God?

 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Romans 9:15-19       

 Many take the quote, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” as God defending His right not to be merciful to some people. However it is a direct quote from Exodus 33:19 where Moses is asking for a special favor to see God’s glory. The question is not one of personal salvation, but rather God defending His right to give Moses the favor he requested and receive God’s mercy in seeing His glory. By showing mercy and compassion on whomever He wants, God is not defending His right to not be good to people but rather the exact opposite, which is His right to be good to people who don’t even deserve it. If you think about it, God would not have to defend His right to not be good to people as no one deserves that right in the first place.

  Did God give Pharaoh a rebellious heart? Not at all! God did not make Pharaoh to be rebellious just to accomplish His own purpose. God was actually preserving his life through all of the plagues. God simply preserved his life even though he deserved to be destroyed and accomplished His purposes.

 God did not actually harden Pharaoh’s heart, but rather accepts responsibility for what He did not prevent. Exodus 8:15 says, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.”  And again in verse 32 of the same chapter we read, “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.” So we clearly see that

 

 

 

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Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and God takes responsibility for what He allows or does not prevent, since He gives us all a free choice.   While some people allow God’s goodness to lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4) others take advantage of God’s goodness to continue in sin and rebellion (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Thus because of

 

people’s own choices they are softened or hardened by God’s goodness. The same sun that melts butter hardens clay. You have a choice. You can let God’s love melt your heart or you can harden yourself by resisting that love. The choice is yours.

 

Speaking in Tongues

“For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”   

1 Corinthians 14:14 


Many interpret this verse to mean that when Paul prayed in the Spirit, he used a “heavenly tongue” and did not know what he was praying. This raises an important question. How would Paul know if his prayer was answered? 


What is Paul really saying in 1 Corinthians 14:14?  Please allow me to rephrase the verse in William’s English: “If I pray in a language those around me do not know, I might be praying with the Spirit, but my thoughts would be unfruitful for those listening.” Paul is adamant that if we pray out loud, we should either pray so others around us can understand or else keep quiet! Notice the next few verses: “What is it then I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest” 1 Corinthians 14:15,16. According to this text, the one who has the problem with understanding is the listener and not the speaker. If you have ever prayed with someone who is offering a prayer in a language unknown to you, then you know what Paul meant when he said it is difficult for you to say “Amen” (meaning “so be it”) at the end of the prayer. Without an interpreter, you have no idea to what you are saying “amen” to.

 It is obvious from the context of 1 Corinthians 14 that the purpose of speaking in tongues, or foreign languages, is to communicate the gospel and thereby edify the church. If the listeners do not understand the spoken language they cannot be 

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edified. Consequently, if there is no interpreter, the speaker is simply speaking into the air and the only ones present who know what is being said are God and him- self. This is the clear meaning of the often understood verse 2. “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”

 

Paul emphasizes again that the languages spoken need to be understood by the hearers or else the one who wants to share the gospel needs to sit quietly and just pray to himself. “So likewise ye; except ye utter by tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken for ye shall speak into the air.” “But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” Verses 9, 28. Clearly, as we see in Acts, chapter 2, the entire purpose of tongues is to share the gospel with all languages and people. As a matter of fact, in Acts 2:8 where it says, “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born”, many margins in the KJV will have a footnote by the word “tongue” which will read “language”.  

   

Some have thought that Paul did indeed pray a heavenly language or the language of angels when he says in 1 Corinthians 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels.” If you read this verse in its context, you will see that the word “though” means “even if.” For example, Paul also said in verse 2, “Though I have all faith …” He did not have all faith. And verse 3 adds, “Though I give my body to be burned”. Paul was beheaded, not burned. So we can see that Paul here used the word “though” to mean “even if.”

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Does Luke 16:19-31 Teach us That we go straight to Heaven When we die? 

Without a proper understanding of what the entire Bible says about death, it would be possible to get the idea from the above verse that when we die we go straight to heaven or straight to hell. When we study the Bible the way it suppose to be studied, “line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” Isaiah 28:10, we understand that when we die we rest in our graves asleep, not knowing anything until Jesus returns and wakes us up. If we take the story of the rich man and Lazarus literally then we have a contradiction as to what happens when you die, as the rich man in the story dies and goes straight to hell. Here are some things to remember while reading this story to keep us from being confused.

  

 Jesus tells this parable in the midst of other parables in Luke 15 and 16. Jesus is only using this story to make a point and was not meant to be taken literally. Jesus was telling this story to Jewish leaders and so He told it in a way to get their attention. For example, they were big believers in Abraham, so in the story Lazarus goes to Abraham’s bosom. Obviously, not only do we not go straight to heaven or hell when we die, we also do not go to Abraham but to Jesus. This is an obvious sign this story is not meant to be taken literally. The Rich man asks for water to be sprinkled on his tongue. Again if this was literal, what good would a few drops of water do? At the end of the story Jesus makes the point that if they did not believe already they would not believe though someone rose from the dead. Here Jesus makes the whole point of the story. Jesus picked the name Lazarus in His make believe story, to remind them that one named Lazarus did indeed rise from the dead and they still did not believe. And of course the real Lazarus who rose from the dead had no tales to tell from the grave as he had been dead and asleep the whole time. 

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 Did Paul say he Would Bypass the Grave and go Straight to Heaven When he Died?  

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” Philippians 1:23   

Now he’s not saying that he thinks that he will be with Christ the moment of his death. Actually he is explaining his desire, which is to leave this present troubled existence and to be with Christ without reference to the lapse of time that may occur between those two events. With the whole strength of his ardent nature, he longed to live with the one whom he had so faithfully served. You see, Paul knew, as God’s servant tells us in Desire of Ages, “To the Christian, death is but a sleep. A moment of silence in darkness, the life is hid with Christ. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 15:51,52 . He says, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, and the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” We know that trumpet sounds at the second coming of our Lord in the clouds of heaven. And Paul knew that when he fell asleep, for him time would cease and it would only be like the snap of your finger when he would open his eyes and then he would be with Jesus and all his trials and sorrows and struggles would be over. No more weariness, no more pain. Now he’s with his beloved Savior forever and ever. 

This is what Paul was talking about when he said, “to die is gain.” “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” What a beautiful summation of his commitment to Christ, of his whole Christian experience, of his trust and love for his Lord! 

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 Does John the revelator Refer to Literal Souls Under the Altar?

 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.  Revelation 6:9-11

Does Revelation 6:9-11 teach us that the dead martyrs are all in heaven pleading for vengeance, instead of resting in their graves? This is obviously a symbolic verse. In order to be taken literally not only would the souls be in heaven but they all would be under an altar. Also they would be pleading for vengeance for being in heaven. This simply is not realistic. We know from our reading of the entire scriptures that the dead are just that-dead. Even this passage says that they must rest a while yet, implying they are not literally in heaven now, but their cause has come before the altar and before God. This was the case when Abel was killed by Cain. God said, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10 

Abel’s blood did not literally grow lips and cry, but his cause came before God. So in the fifth seal of Revelation we see that God has not forgotten His faithful martyrs but has heard their cause even as He did Abel’s. After all, why would they be crying for God to avenge the ones who killed them and put them in the presence of God? What an insult to God this would be.

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 Does King Saul talk to the prophet Samuel after Samuel has died?

 In 1 Samuel 28 King Saul consults a medium and supposedly talks to Samuel who has since died. The Bible teaches us that the dead are dead so how could this be? 1 Samuel 28 never tells us that Saul actually saw and talked to Samuel, but rather that Saul perceivedit to be Samuel (Verse 14). Satan takes advantage of his false doctrine of the immortality of the soul so he can masquerade as dead people who are resting in their graves. One glaring clue that this spirit talking to Saul was of satanic origin is found in the fact that the message only had condemnation and doom. If it had been God’s Spirit or even God’s prophet talking, along with the censor would have come hope and forgiveness, but Satan never offers that.

 Did Jesus Refer to a Secret Rapture?

 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  Matthew 24:37-41

  While the Bible never speaks or even alludes to a secret rapture, some have tried to twist Matthew 24:37-41 around to where it sounds like a secret rapture. Two are in the field, one is taken the other is left. They try to make it sound like the one being taken is secretly taken away. However the passage very clearly says, that as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man, when the flood came and took them all away. Who was taken away at the flood? The wicked were taken away and destroyed while the righteous inherited the earth. Likewise when Christ returns the wicked will be taken away and destroyed while the righteous inherit the New Earth.  It clearly is not the righteous who are taken away, but the wicked.

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 Does the Bible Teach of an eternally Burning Hell?

 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelation 20:10

 One of Satan’s most dangerous lies is that hell will burn for all eternity with its inhabitants continually being tortured throughout the ceaseless ages. It is a dangerous lie because it makes God out to be anything but love! John 3:16 tells us the unbeliever will perish, not burn for eternity in hell. Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment. Psalm 37:20, Malachi 4:1-3, Ezekiel 28:15-20 and many more verses all tell us Satan and his followers will be destroyed and cease to exist instead of burning through all eternity.

However Revelation 20:10 does say the lake of fire burns forever and ever right? What we need to do is find out how the word forever is used in the Bible. In Exodus 21:6 a slave who decided to stay with his master for life has his ear bored, and then it says he will serve his master forever. How is the word forever used? It means for the rest of his life until he dies. That is how the verse forever is used here in Revelation 20:10. They will be tormented day and night until they die.

Another example is here in Jude 7. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”  We know that Sodom and Gomorrha are not still burning. The punishment is eternal, the punishing is not. These wicked cities were burned with a fire that burned for the duration, until everyone died.

This idea makes perfect sense as you read Revelation 20. Verse 9 says the wicked are devoured by the fire. That means they are totally consumed to ashes like it mentions in Malachi 4. So when we get to verse 10 and read about the eternal fire we see that just like the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed by the eternal fire, but are no longer burning, so the wicked cast into the lake of fire will be destroyed by a fire that burns for the duration until all is destroyed and gone. Then God creates the New Earth!                      11

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:  Mark 9:43

 Since Mark 9:43 mentions the hell fire being unquenched many get the idea that hell will burn for all eternity. This simply is not so. The Bible clearly teaches us that the punishment of the wicked will be eternal but the punishing is not. Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death and not eternal torment. So what does Jesus mean when He says the fire will never be quenched? Just like the fire in the fireplace burns out on its own without anyone quenching it, likewise Hell will not be quenched but will burn out on its own. In Jeremiah 17:27 it says, “But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”  Sure enough in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus with a fire that was not quenched. However Jerusalem is not still burning. The fire went out on its own without every being quenched. Likewise the lake of fire sinners are destroyed in will not burn for all eternity but will devour the wicked, and then burn out on its own.

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 Was the law Nailed to the Cross?

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.  Colossians 2:14-17

  Does the above verse do away with the Ten Commandments and especially the Sabbath? No. The handwriting which was against us was not the Ten Commandments as they were written by the finger of God. Moses did the handwriting in the ceremonial law which was about the feast days which were all a shadow of things to come, pointing towards the cross. The feast Sabbath days such as the Passover pointed towards the cross. They were done away with as we did not need them anymore since we now have the literal sacrifice. However the Sabbath and the rest of the commandments were with us before sin and after sin. In Genesis 2:1-3 we have the Sabbath before the sin problem. So the weekly Sabbath was not pointing towards the cross or ever done way with. We can clearly see that it was not done away with at the cross, as in Isaiah 66:23 we have the Sabbath in the New Earth after sin has been absolved. It is clearly the handwriting in the ceremonial law that was a shadow of the cross, and done away with, and not the law or weekly Sabbath.

 One way we can be sure of this is that when the Bible speaks of the weekly Sabbath it is singular. When the Bible speaks of the ceremonial Sabbath feast days it is always plural. In Colossians it is plural, thus making it crystal clear that what was done away with was the ceremonial laws pointing us to the cross.

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 What did Paul Mean, When he Said, “we are not Under the law”.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.  Romans 6:14-15 

Is Paul here saying that the law was done away with because of grace? Many say that since we now have the New Covenant of God’s grace that we no longer need the law. In Genesis 3 God gives Adam and Eve the New Covenant of grace when He promises a Savior. Hundreds of years later in Exodus 20 we are given the law. Now how can anyone say God’s grace came and did away with the law when God gave us His grace long before the law? Grace was here before the law, so we can’t say it came along later and did away with the law.

 1 John 3:4 tells us sin is breaking the law. Paul tells us that grace is not a license to sin. So grace in no way does away with the law. Grace gives us the victory over sin as grace frees us from the dominion and power of sin. Because of the power over sin that grace gives us we are not under the condemnation of the law, because grace is the power keeping us in harmony with the law. If I am driving the speed limit and nothing is wrong with my car, the police officer will not pull me over, because I am not under his condemnation. He has no right to condemn me because I am in harmony with the speed limit. Likewise God’s grace keeps us in harmony with God so that we do not fall under the condemnation of the law. 

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 Are There Verses That Tell us we can eat Anything we Want?

 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. Matthew 15:2

  The Pharisees and scribes thought they had found Jesus and His followers in disobedience to the law in not washing their hands before they ate. However this was a man made law, or as Jesus said tradition. Jesus went on to say, “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are [the things] which defile a man.” Matthew 15:17-20.  Some take the preceding statement to mean that Jesus just declared all foods clean, but that was not the point, nor the context of what He was talking about. The end of verse 20 tells us exactly what Jesus was talking about when He said, “but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.  Clean and unclean foods were not the subject here, but rather washing hands according to the traditional laws man had made. Obviously Jesus did not declare Biblically unclean foods clean as Isaiah 66:24 speaks of unclean foods even at the second coming.

People have also tried to take the vision Peter had in Acts 10 out of context. They say God declared all food clean in this vision. In telling Peter that God loved the gentiles as much as the Jews he showed Peter some unclean animals. The fact that Jesus had never declared unclean foods clean is seen by Peter’s comment, “I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Vs. 14  In verse 15 Peter hears the voice in the vision say, “What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common.”  Many try to twist this comment to mean that God had now declared all foods clean. No mention is ever made of unclean foods being pronounced okay to eat. However Peter tells us what the exact context of his vision was in verse 28, “God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”  Peter was encouraged by God to take the gospel to the gentiles. God told Peter no man was unclean, but Peter nor God ever mention animals being made clean in Acts 10 or anywhere else in the Bible.

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 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.  1 Corinthians 8:8

 Is Paul saying in the above verse that it does not matter what we eat? Is he saying we can eat unclean foods? No, the context is clearly set in the first verse of this chapter. It reads, “Now as touching things offered unto idols”.  Foods sacrificed to idols is the issue in 1 Corinthians 8, not clean and unclean meat. This is clearly seen in verse 4, “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols.”  This is clearly the case in Romans 14 as well, as clean and unclean foods were simply not an issue in Paul’s day.

 Later in 1 Corinthians 10:25-27 Paul says, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, [that] eat, asking no question for conscience sake:For the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.  Again some try to twist these verses to the destruction of their own health, saying that we can eat anything clean and unclean and should not even ask about it. However it is clear that Paul is not telling us to eat pork or anything unclean as that was not even on his mind as he wrote this. Again the issue was food sacrificed to idols. In verse 28 the context is very clear, “But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”  All Paul is saying here is that food sacrificed to idols is only a big deal to people who think idols are a big deal. Paul did not value idols, therefore food being given to idols was not an issue one way or the other. Nowhere in 1 Corinthians 10 or Romans 14 is Paul making an issue of unclean foods, much less telling us to eat unclean foods.

 The fact that Paul recognized a distinct difference between what was clean and unclean is seen in 2 Corinthians 6:17 where he says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you.

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 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  1Timothy 4:1-3

 I have had people share this verse with me and tell me that Paul is warning people about Seventh-day Adventists who in the last days will be telling people they can’t eat meat. However, while the Adventist church promotes a healthy vegetarian lifestyle it does not forbid people to eat clean meats. In reality Paul is warning people about a church that will be forbidding people to eat meat and marry. At creation God gave us food and marriage. The Seventh-day Adventist church recognizes this and does not forbid marriage or eating clean meats. It is the Roman Catholic Church that forbids its priests and nuns to marry. It is also the Catholic church that forbids eating meat on Fridays and other special days.

 Did Paul say we should Drink Wine?

 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.  1Timothy 5:23

 As you can imagine, in Paul’s time as now, not all water was safe to drink. Consequently, when safe water was hard to find, other ways of quenching thirst were recommended to avoid such things as dysentery ailments.

 Many have tried to twist this verse around to where Paul is telling Timothy to use fermented wine. They forget that regular grape juice was also called “wine” in the Scriptures as well. Teaching that it is okay to drink fermented grape juice, or what we would call wine today, goes directly against the rest of the Scriptures. (See Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-32)

 Apparently Timothy was frequently ill and was not good advertisement for the gospel. Paul is simply telling Timothy he needs to be physically fit by drinking good grape juice when good drinking water is unavailable.   

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First day of the Week Texts in the Bible

 Notes on the Eight New Testament Sunday (first day) Texts. Do any of these inform us of a transfer of the Sabbath from Saturday (seventh day) to Sunday (first day)?

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first [day] of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. Matthew 28:1

Note: Mary waited until the first day of the week when the Sabbath would be over. Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. Mark 16:1

Note: They were not coming to worship but to work. Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. Mark 16:9

Note: Another verse mentioning the first day of the week but no command to keep it holy. Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

And] she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told [it] unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. Mark 16:10-14

Note: Here it says they believed not. So this obviously was not a meeting of believers on the first day of the week. Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

Now upon the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain [others] with them. Luke 24:1                                           

 

18

Note: No indication of a change in God’s law. Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

The first [day] of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. John 20:1

Note: No mention of the Sabbath being changed from Saturday to Sunday.

Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you. John 20:19

Note: This is not an assembly for worship but for “fear of the Jews.” Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

And upon the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing [him] said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. Acts 20:7-14

Note: There many lights, because this is a Saturday night meeting. Remember the day begins at evening. See Genesis 1:5 and Leviticus 23:32. Paul preached till Dawn Sunday morning and then walked 20 miles to Assos, something he would never have done on the Holy Sabbath. Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:1,2

 

19

 Note: Taking up an offering does not make a day holy. No reference here is even made of a worship service. Paul informed all the churches, including Corinth to lay aside money at home for the poor so that when he passed through he could easily pick it up to take to them. See Acts 11:29,30 and Romans 15:25,26. Nothing here to tell us that Sunday is now the Sabbath.

We clearly see that there is no text in the Bible telling us that Sunday is the new Sabbath. Meanwhile when it comes to keeping Jesus’ New Testament Sabbath, which is still Saturday, or man’s Sabbath which is Sunday, Jesus tells us plainly:

But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

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William Earnhardt is the Bible Instructor of the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tampa Florida. Please contact him with any questions at (813) 933-7505 or at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

One thought on “Difficult Texts Made Simple”

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