Ask Your Preacher
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.
Why does the Bible list all the names of the sons and daughters at some point? Is it important? How should we take it?
Dear Kid Counter,
The section of the Bible that lists the names of the sons descended from Adam is found in Genesis chapter five; we are assuming this is the list of names that you are referring to. This particular chapter is given as an overview of the time between Adam and Noah. After the early events with Adam and Eve (the sin in the Garden of Eden, Cain killing Abel, etc.), the next big event in Bible history was the worldwide flood and the ark that Noah built. Genesis chapter five sums up all the generations in between, so we have an idea about what happened during that time period, but in the end, the details of that section of history weren’t important for us so an overview was all God deemed necessary for us to be given.
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.
I want to know what spirit most charismatic preachers operate by since they claim to operate in the prophetic ministry. Some people have said that some of the things they said about them came to pass. What must I know? I know a preacher who says he can line up fifty people and give them prophecies. What is really happening??
Testing The Spirits
Dear Testing The Spirits,
Charismatic preachers are false teachers that take advantage of the vulnerable and play verbal tricks to come across as prophets. Many people believe that fortune tellers are able to tell their future… but that doesn’t mean they actually can. It is all a game of smoke and mirrors meant to deceive.
The charismatic tent meetings that started the charismatic movement (the big tent meetings where people fall over, start randomly speaking gibberish, and supposedly are healed) are infamous for being rigged. Many journalists have investigated these tent meetings and found that they are specifically designed to work people into a frenzy. During that frenzy, the evangelists will tell people they are healed, give them a vague fortune cookie prophecy, and the adrenaline of the moment gives some the momentary feeling of being healed and the action of the meeting leaves people thinking they have heard a real prophecy. There are documented cases of patients going to these meetings and being told that they had been cured of their cancer only to have the doctors diagnose them as terminally ill days later. Other “healed” people are deceivers planted within the audience that pretend to be sick and throw their crutches away to add to the charade.
The charismatic churches create a highly charged atmosphere that sucks in those vulnerable to false teaching and they are consequently deceived. They are seeking a cure, purpose to their life, or a religious experience and the false teachers know what to say to grab their attention (2 Tim 4:3). The faith healers are false teachers, and they will be judged by God for their wicked deceptions (2 Pet 2:1-2). A teacher is more strictly judged (Jas 3:1), and therefore, these preachers will be held accountable for their lies. It is our duty to try and undo their deception by bringing the truth to those who have been deceived.