Ask Your Preacher
What is Jesus referring to in Matthew 11 when He says, "My yoke is easy; My burden is light"?
Dear Weight Lifter,
A yoke is a type of harness that is placed on oxen, so they can pull a cart or plow. In this circumstance, Jesus is using a yoke to explain that everyone has a burden to carry. Whatever you let guide your life, it becomes your master (i.e. money, family, pride, lusts, etc.), and you have to work to feed its will (Matt 6:24). Jesus says that if we will follow Him, learn from Him, and obey His commands, our burden will be much lighter than if we live worldly lives. He is a kind and gentle Master that will give us rest for our souls. (Matt 11:28-30).
The fourth commandment clearly states to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. Why do so many churches not keep this command?
For The Fourth
Dear For The Fourth,
The Sabbath was a holy day for the Jews, not for Christians. The Old Testament has a myriad of laws that are no longer binding in the New Testament: animal sacrifice, clean and unclean foods, and various festivals… just to name a few. 2 Cor 3 is an entire chapter devoted to explaining how the Old Law has been surpassed by the New Law. 2 Cor 3:3 especially clarifies the issue when it states that our law is “not in tables of stone”, a direct reference to the Ten Commandments that were written on stone tablets.
Gal 3:24-25 makes it clear that the Old Law was a tutor to bring mankind to Christ, but now that Christ has come, we are no longer under that tutor. The Sabbath is a part of that Old Law. In the New Testament, christians meet on the first day of the week to worship, take the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7), and take up a collection (1 Cor 16:1-2). In short: different covenants, different days.
The Old Testament law given by Moses was a covenant with the Jews (Deut 5:1-5). The New Testament law given in Christ is for all of mankind (Acts 2:38-39).
Who changed the law? God did.
When did it change? When the church began.
Maybe you folks could clear something up for me. I asked a question a few weeks back about studying Scriptures in English. The post was entitled “Speaking Of Tongues”, and I was excited and pleased with your answer. Then I happened to read your response to a question about Peter ‘the rock’ in Matt 16:18 (“Bigger than a Boulder”). Now you are saying you do have to have knowledge of the Greek in order to truly understand what Jesus meant to say! This is exactly what I was afraid of! I never heard of this petros/petra play on words in the Greek that ends up changing the entire meaning of the text. You said the verse “can be a little confusing to English-speaking folks”. That is quite an understatement! When you answered my question, you said, “Linguists are able to properly convey the same ideas from one language to another”. You said, “God has no problems using translations to convey His wisdom to every culture and language”. Obviously, this particular passage is an exception. The English translation is not good enough, in this case, to properly understand what Jesus was really saying. Now it seems I have to have more than my King James Bible when I study Scripture. According to you guys, I also need a Greek dictionary. I also seem to have to know all the different sizes of rocks and stones and cliffs and boulders that these Greek words were used for. Plus, this was all 2,000 years ago! You said, “The Bible was meant to be understood and studied by average folks!” If I asked twenty average folks about Matt 16:18, would they all know about the underlying Greek meaning? Without looking at the marginal notes of a study Bible, I doubt it. Try it with your congregation this week at Sunday school. How many other passages of Scripture change meaning when you take apart the Greek words? So again, is the English Bible really enough? You seem to be saying two different things. Thanks.
It’s All Greek To Me
Dear It’s All Greek To Me,
We never intended to convey to you that knowing the Greek language doesn’t have its perks and benefits. At times, difficult passages become easier when you can look into the original Greek – but making something clearer by going to the Greek doesn’t mean it is impossible to understand it in the English. First of all, the English translation does translate the word ‘petra’ differently than ‘petros’. One word is translated ‘Peter’, and the other word is translated ‘rock’… the translators did this for a reason because they are two different words. Second of all, all the major translations typically provide a footnote, an asterisk, or some other sort of marker to note that there is something special about the words used for ‘rock’ in that passage – they do that because noting irregularities between languages is part of good translation. And last, but most importantly, the hardest passages can always be understood by comparing them to the sum of God’s teachings (Ps 119:160). If you run into a difficult-to -understand passage (even Peter said that some Scripture is hard to understand – 2 Pet 3:16), it takes work to dig in and compare the other verses, but you can find the truth on the subject. Anyone can understand the Bible in their own language, but that doesn’t mean just anyone will understand the Bible because doing so takes work. God tells us that we must hunger and thirst after righteousness if we want to be filled (Matt 5:6). He also says that it takes a love for the truth to be saved (2 Thess 2:10). Reading in the original Greek adds color, but you don’t have to know Greek to learn God’s will. However, you do need to be willing to dig in, compare verses, look up definitions, etc. Understanding the Bible is about being a student of God’s Word, and all students have to do their homework.
Your explanation for Matt. 16:18 (“Bigger Than A Boulder”) says Peter is not the rock Jesus will use to begin building His church. Isn't Jesus referred to as the rock (petra – feminine) in 1 Cor. 10:4? Is Jesus a small rock? Will the church be built on Him? The fact that two different, but similar, words are used does not mean He is not talking about the same person. When we let the Bible interpret itself, we see that, in the verses in question, Peter states something about Jesus' identity, and then Jesus states something about Peter's identity. Peter tells Jesus that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus tells Peter that Peter got this from the Father – that it was a revelation. Jesus then gives him more revelation by telling Peter something about Peter's identity. He is Peter, a small stone, who, through the power of God, Jesus will be able to use as a massive stone to begin house-building His people whom He is calling out of this world to His assembly.
You stated “the fact that two different, but similar words are used does not mean He is not talking about the same person.”… that is true, but it is also true that two different, but similar words doesn’t mean He is talking about the same person. So now we are stuck; Matt 16:18 could be referring to Peter as the foundation for the church, or it could be referring to the Lordship of Christ as the foundation of the church. When a verse could be interpreted two different ways, how do we find the truth? God tells us that we find the truth by studying the sum of the Bible (Ps 119:160). Is there any other verse in the Bible that talks about the foundation of the church? YES! In 1 Cor 3:9, Paul says that the church is God’s building, and then he says in 1 Cor 3:11, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” So what is the foundation that the church is built upon? Jesus the Christ. The dilemma is easily solved when we look at the sum of God’s teachings on the subject. If you have further questions regarding this passage, please feel free to write back and include an e-mail address, so your question is sure to be answered.
Are we judging fallen angels? Jesus said we will judge the angels. Also, are we to be angels (I read we will be as angels)?
Ready For Wings
Dear Ready For Wings,
Yes, christians will judge angels – the same way the Queen of the South judges spiritually lazy people. The verse in question is 1 Cor 6:3. We have to keep in mind that there are many ways to bring judgment on others. In our case, we will bring judgment on others through our example. God uses people’s examples to condemn others in similar circumstances.
- The Queen of the South condemns those who won’t seek the truth (Matt 12:42).
- The citizens of Nineveh will condemn those who won’t repent of their sins after hearing the gospel (Matt 12:42).
- Christians will condemn those who have excuses for why they didn’t serve God (1 Cor 6:2).
Angels that denied God and went to serve Satan (Rev 12:9) will have no excuse for not having served God. All christians will stand as a living example and condemnation against the angels that chose to deny God and turn to evil. I f we, having not seen God (Ex 33:20), can still serve Him… the angels who are ever before Him (Matt 18:10) are without excuse.
The Bible never says we will become angels when we get to heaven, but we will be like the angels in that we won’t marry (Matt 22:30). That is the only similarity between the angels and us that the Bible ever gives us. As far as we know, we will continue to be distinctly different creatures from them.