0 Dispensationalism


The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 2)

6.     The Feast of Dedication Reference: John 10:22-42

The feast of dedication was not one of the original Mosaic feasts in Israel. This feast was established during the inter-testament period by Judas Maccabaeus when he freed Jerusalem and the Temple from the Greeks in 164 B.C. It was held on the 25th of Chisleu (December), which seems to be good evidence that Jesus was not born on that day. Just three years to the day after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated the temple it was rededicated. The word dedication means “renewal.” It was also called the feast of Lights. For the eight days of the festival lights were kindled in the temple and in every Jewish home. Solomon’s porch, according to Josephus, was a remnant of the original temple of Solomon which had remained intact after the Babylonian destruction. It was on the east side and the morning sun would warm the place on a winter morning.

The Jews asked Jesus, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus had told them plainly on several occasions and He repeats His claim to Messiahship again. Jesus attributed their unbelief to the fact that they were not His sheep and therefore did not hear His voice. The case was just the opposite with those who were His sheep.

Verses 28 and 29 are very strong security promises for the believer. “I give (not will give or may give) unto them eternal life and (if it is eternal then it must be true) they shall never perish.” The believer is pictured as being held in the hand of Christ, and His hand held in the Father’s hand, so that no man will ever be able to snatch him out of those almighty hands.

Christ follows this, not only with the claims of Messiahship, but with equality with the Father: “I and my Father are one.” The Greek reads: “I and my Father one we are.” The verb is plural and “one” is neuter singular. If “one” had been masculine, it might have implied “one person.” The neuter implies “one in essence.” The statement thus affirms the distinction of Persons in the Godhead and the unity of essence and nature. But this claim of equality with God, perfectly understood by the Jews, angered the Jews and they took up stones again to kill Him for blasphemy. They could find no fault with the good works which Jesus had done, but for a man to make Himself God was too much. Then Jesus quoted Scripture to them, as He often did: “Is it not written in your law, I have said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

You will notice that Jesus said that this was written “in your law,” that is, the Jew’s law, which means God was calling certain Jews gods. This fact is further emphasized in the statement “to whom the word of God came.” The word of God came only to the people of Israel back then. This does not mean that God called every Israelite a god; howbeit, He did call them all, children of the most High (Ps. 82:6). This verse begins, “I have said,” indicating that God had said this previously.

If we turn back to Ex. 21:6 and 22:8,9, we discover that the word translated “judges” in these verses is the Hebrew “Elohim,” or gods. Moses is also called a god in Ex. 7:1. Thus God called the judges, the prophets, and the rulers “gods” as being His representatives. Jesus is not saying that He is a god only in the sense that the judges of Israel were called gods. But rather, if they could be called gods in an official sense, how much more properly could He, who was sealed and consecrated by the Father, be called, Son of God. After answering their charge of blasphemy He appeals again to the character of His works: If they don’t bear the character of the Father, don’t believe me; but if they do, which you have admitted, believe the testimony of the works, even though you don’t believe me, that you may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him. Again, they would have stoned Him but He escaped out of their hands. So Jesus went away again “beyond Jordan” where John at the first had baptized and there He abode and many believed on Him, for John’s testimony of Him had proved to be true.

We should point out that Jesus also defended the infallibility of the Scripture on several occasions: here, when He asserted: “The scripture cannot be broken.”

7.     Discourse on Prayer Reference: Lk. 11:1-13

This chapter begins with Jesus teaching some disciples to pray, as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. Jesus used almost the same format for prayer as we find in the sermon on the mount. The setting here in Luke seems altogether different from that in Matthew, although the wording of the prayer is very similar.

A The Parable of the Importunate Friend.

Jesus follows this instruction with two parables on prayer. The first is that of the Importunate Friend, and is found only in Luke. On the surface prayer seems to be a very simple thing, simply making request for a particular need. But there is more in the outworking of prayer than human wisdom can fathom. Men rationalize that if God has foreordained and foreknown everything that will ever happen from the beginning, how can man’s prayer cause anything different to happen? We can answer only by saying that God has ordained the means as well as the result, and prayer is often the means. Thus, God foreknew that a missionary would have a particular need and that He would supply that need, but He also foreknew that a group of believers ten thousand miles away would pray for that need and their prayer would be answered.

The present parable deals with the importunity of prayer. Importune means to urge with frequent application, press urgently, be insistent. The parable seems to be saying that if one keeps on asking long enough God will finally give in and grant the request. But on another occasion the Lord said: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). The parable is not encouraging man to act like a selfish child, always crying, “Gi’me! Gi’me!” There is more to real prayer than simply saying, “Bless the foreign missionaries,” and then taking the attitude you have discharged your duty and there is no further need to talk to God about it until another urgent request is received. Prayer should be born of concern. If a loved one is at the point of death, we do not pray in that fashion. We continue in prayer pouring out our hearts, and that is a good Pauline admonition: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). The teaching of the parable seems to be if we can by importunity obtain our requests from an unwilling friend, how much more can we expect to receive from a willing Giver?

B The Parable of Fatherhood.

This is a self-explanatory parable of God’s willingness to give good things to His children. Often people think of God only as a Judge whose only motive is to catch us doing wrong, to punish, and to take away our pleasures. God is, of course, a righteous Judge, but the believer has passed out of judgment into God’s family and now knows God as a loving Father. The objects which Christ contrasted in this parable: a stone for a loaf of bread, a serpent for a fish, and a scorpion for an egg, might seem odd at first sight, but there is a similarity in appearance between these pairs of objects. There are also contrasts between an earthly father and the Heavenly Father and between good material gifts and spiritual gifts.

Apparently the Lord did not mean that the Father would give the Person of the Holy Spirit to those who asked, for Christ made it plain that the Holy Spirit could not come as an indwelling presence until He had ascended to the Father (John 16:7). In the Greek text Holy Spirit appears without the definite article, and this usage usually means gifts or endowments of the Spirit. Christ also told His disciples while He was with them the Holy Spirit was also with them, but that later on He would be in them. Believers in the present dispensation do not have to pray that God would give them the Holy Spirit; nor do they have to tarry for Him (Lk. 24:49); they receive Him and are sealed by Him upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where the present participle “after ye believed” should be translated, “upon believing”). Both of these parables lend great encouragement to the child of God to make request to His heavenly Father.

8.     Conflict With the Pharisees

A The Unpardonable Sin: Matt. 12:22-32; Mk. 3:22-30; Lk. 11:14-23.

After healing a man who was blind and dumb, the Pharisees accused Jesus of using Satanic power, but Jesus showed the inconsistency of such a charge, for in that case Satan would be fighting against himself and his kingdom would be destroyed. But if He was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, this was proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon them. He illustrated this truth with the parable of the stronger man (Christ) binding the strong man (Satan) and then spoiling his goods. Matthew and Mark give the added details of what is generally called the unpardonable sin.

Christ stated that all manner of sin against the Son of man would be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven: it is an eternal sin. This passage has caused many Christians to fear, lest they have committed this sin and have therefore lost their salvation. First of all, it should be evident that anyone who is sincerely concerned about being saved through faith in Christ has not committed this sin. In fact, after one has received the gift of eternal life and has been sealed by the Spirit unto the future day of redemption, there is no sin or power that can separate him from the love of Christ, or as we have recently seen from John 10, nothing that can snatch such a one out of the hands of Christ and the Father.

The unpardonable sin is usually interpreted as ascribing the work of Christ which He wrought through the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan, as these Pharisees were doing. It seems, however, there is a deeper meaning than this, for Jesus Himself prayed that these people who had thus accused Him and finally had Him crucified might be forgiven because they really didn’t know what they were doing. However, when the Holy Spirit was miraculously poured out at Pentecost and the people of Israel were enlightened by the Spirit (cf. Heb. 2:3,4; 6:4-6), they were no longer ignorant of what they were doing. We read in the book of Acts that the Jews blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, which means that that generation of natural Israel committed this sin and they could not be renewed unto repentance. This, we believe, is the true meaning of that sin. It was committed by Israel, and as such it is a sin which cannot be committed today. Every sin is forgivable through faith in Christ, and no sin is forgivable apart from faith in Him.

B The Unclean Spirit Who Returned: Matt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:24-26.

All we know about demon spirits is what we read in Scripture. Jesus said that when such a spirit goes out of a man he walks through dry places seeking rest and finds none, so he returns to the man from whence he departed and finds the place swept and garnished and then brings with him seven other spirits worse than himself and the latter end of the possessed man is worse than the first. This is apparently not a case where a demon had been cast out by Jesus, for we cannot imagine that these people He healed ended up the worse for His healing. It seems that the demon left of his own accord, at least when he left, the man’s house or body was left empty, unoccupied.

When a person is saved today his body is occupied by the Holy Spirit, which rules out the possibility of an evil spirit coming back to take possession again. It seems that man’s body is either occupied or strongly influenced by either the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit. Paul states that before we were saved, the prince of the power of the air was the spirit that was energizing us (Eph. 2:2). This does not mean that all unsaved people are demon possessed, but it does mean that Satan has access to their spirits and can mightily work in them. But thank God, the Spirit who energizes us is greater than Satan and will not permit him to take control of us, although when the Spirit is grieved and not allowed His rightful place in our lives it is possible for Satan to take advantage of us.

Some feel that this story of the unclean spirit is a case history of Israel. Israel became idolatrous in O.T. times; God sent them into captivity and they gave up their idolatry in reformation without actually committing themselves to God, and now in the days of Christ the demons have come back and the latter state of Israel is worse than it was at the first.

C The Mistaken Woman: Lk. 11:27, 28.

People often make the mistake of placing the emphasis upon the wrong thing. What they say is not necessarily untrue, but the truth is distorted. While Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd, apparently admiring Jesus for His wonderful words and works, and perhaps wishing that she had had a son like that, shouted out: “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked!” The woman was blessing the mother of Jesus, rather than Jesus Himself.

Sad to say, this mistake has become a creed in Christendom. She is honored as the Mother of God, immaculately conceived, assumed up into heaven, where she intercedes for mankind with her Son, Jesus. Mary was indeed highly honored in being chosen to become the human mother of Jesus Christ, but the gentle rebuke of Jesus in answering this woman clearly indicates that Jesus did not give Mary the exalted place above Himself which Rome has given her. Jesus said, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” He did not dishonor His human mother, but as far as blessedness was concerned, any humble soul who heard God’s word and obeyed it was more blessed than His mother in the flesh.

D The Sign of the Prophet Jonah: Matt. 12:38-42; Lk. 11:29-32.

It will be noted that Matthew placed the sign of Jonah before the story of the unclean spirit, whereas Luke reverses the order. Matthew includes the statement: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,”(cf. Jonah 1:17), whereas Luke simply states: “For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” The men of Ninevah will rise up in the judgment and condemn the men of Jesus’ day, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching (cf. Jon. 3:5-10), and a greater One than Jonah was there present and they repented not.

The Queen of Sheba will also testify against those of Jesus’ day, for she came from a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon (cf. 2 Chron. 9:1-12), and a greater than Solomon was there. The generation which lived through the earthly ministry of Christ bore the greatest responsibility of any generation in the past. Earlier generations had much less light of revelation and yet in many cases they were more responsive than those of Jesus’ day. It is our belief that people in our present generation bear even a greater responsibility than those of Jesus’ day, for we have the full and completed revelation of God’s Word which leaves man totally without any excuse whatsoever.

E Parable of the Lighted Lamp: Lk. 41:33-36; cf. Matt. 5:15; Mk. 4:21; Lk. 8:16; Matt. 6:22,23. See notes on the above passages where this parable is expounded.

F Dining at the Pharisee’s House: Lk. 11:37-54.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner marvelled that Jesus did not baptize Himself before reclining at the table. It would have been a great service to the English reader if the translators had always rendered the Greek “baptizo” as baptize, instead of “wash” as in this instance. By saying that Jesus and His disciples did not wash before eating, the impression is left that Jesus paid little attention to bodily cleanliness. Also the true significance of baptism is veiled. Most Christians suppose that baptism has only one meaning and that it is a ceremony to be performed only once at the time they join the church. The Mosaic religion contained many baptisms, according to Heb. 9:10, and the Jews had added many more since Moses’ day. They ceremonially baptized themselves before every meal, as well as baptizing their eating utensils. Jesus not only did not practice these traditions of the elders, but stated that these practices had made void the word of God.

It was no doubt because Jesus understood what was going on in this Pharisee’s mind that He began pronouncing woes upon them. They washed the outside of the cup, the part that man could see, but left the inside dirty and encrusted with mold and corruption. If only they would cleanse the inside they would not have to worry about the outside. They obeyed meticulously the smallest outward requirements of the law, such as tithing of various things, but they passed over judgment and the love of God. They should have done the lesser outward things, but even more they should have done the weightier things that were inward.

He said they were like unmarked tombs that men trample underfoot without knowing it. In another place He called them whitewashed tombs, white on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. There were some lawyers present also, the experts in interpreting the Bible. And they said, “Master, you have insulted us also by your words.” And Jesus fearlessly flayed them also. They placed heavy burdens upon the laity but freed themselves from all obligation. They built tombs for the prophets which their fathers had murdered, thus consenting to the deeds of their fathers. And again we see the great responsibility which devolved upon that generation. He said that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the beginning of the world, all the way from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-22), would be required of this generation. The lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge; they had not gone in themselves and they stopped those who were trying to go into the Kingdom.

It had not been a very pleasant dinner party for the Pharisees and Lawyers. After dinner they became very bitter and tried to draw Him out on many subjects, hoping to pounce upon some incriminating statement, whereby they might condemn Him.

For further denunciations of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 23:4-36 and Mk. 12:38-40.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)








0 Dispensationalism


The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 1)


As stated earlier, it is not possible to fit all of the events of Christ’s ministry into a perfect chronological order. Some writers end the Period of Retirement with Mark 9:50, and insert next a Judean Ministry beginning at Mk. 10:1 taking in the trip from Galilee to Jerusalem and continuing through the Feast of Tabernacles to the Feast of Dedication in John 10. Because the events at these two feasts are recorded only in John it is uncertain exactly where they fit into the Synoptic record. We are beginning the Perean Period with Christ’s final departure from Galilee and ending in His last appearance in Jerusalem. As will be seen the greater part of this period is covered only by Luke. Of the 43 topics in this section, only 9 are common to the Synoptics – 5 are found only in John, and 28 only in Luke.

Perea is not a scriptural name. It is the name used by Josephus to describe the district which the rabbis habitually referred to as “the land beyond Jordan,” which in the Greek is “peran tou Iordanou” (Matt. 4:15; 19:1). It was bounded by Pella in the north to Machaerus in the south and extended from the Jordan river on the west to the desert on the east. Perea was considered as a part of the land of Israel, along with Judea and Galilee and was under the same religious and political laws.

The Final Departure From Galilee

References: Matt. 19:1,2 cf. 8:18-22; Mk. 10:1; Lk. 9:51-62

Much of our Lord’s ministry was in Galilee, but now He is leaving Galilee behind and heading for the eventualities which will transpire in Jerusalem, although there still remains several months of ministry beyond Jordan. The chronology of this section is uncertain. Luke states that when the time had come for Him to be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. But following this is the account of certain men who would follow Jesus, but only after they had taken care of other business. This same account is found in Matt. 8, which means that the passage is out of chronological order in either Matthew or Luke, or the same situation happened on two different occasions.

The Lord never made it easy to be a disciple. He reminded these men that even the animals have a place they can call home, but He didn’t own so much as a place to lay His head. We are not told whether the man changed his mind about following Jesus when he learned that. Then Jesus said to another, “Follow me,” but he asked for permission to wait until his father died and was buried, but Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” This sounds strange, for how could a dead person bury another dead person? Undoubtedly Jesus used “dead” in two different senses. The unsaved are spiritually dead. There are many jobs they can do as well or better than a saved person. The saved person should be sure he is doing God’s work first of all. Another man wanted to wait until he went back home and bid farewell to his friends and family. Many a person has thought of serving Christ, but after consulting with friends and relatives has been dissuaded. It is man’s nature either to be too forward (vs. 57), or too backward (vs. 59), or too undecided (vs. 61).

The Samaritans had no dealings with the Jews (John 4:9), so when Jesus sent His disciples to find lodging in the Samaritan village, they would not receive Him because He was going toward Jerusalem. James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven, and while the fire will fail some day, it was then the day of salvation and not of judgment.

1.     The Mission of the Seventy

Reference: Lk. 10:1-24

Jesus appointed these seventy disciples to go ahead of Him in pairs into every city and village He was going to visit to prepare the way for His coming. Just as the number twelve is significant in connection with Israel, so is the number seventy. Beginning with Jacob, there were seventy souls. that came forth out of his loins (Ex. 1:5). There were seventy elders in Israel (Ex. 24:1,9; Num. 11:16). Israel’s period of captivity in Babylon lasted seventy years (Jer. 25:11). Daniel prophesied that seventy weeks (of years) had been determined upon Israel (9:24 cf. vs. 2). And the ruling body in Israel, the Sanhedrin, was composed of seventy men. The Septuagint was supposedly translated by seventy scholars.

The commission of the seventy disciples was very similar to that of the Twelve, given in Matt. 10. They were to take no supplies with them; they were not to pass the time of day with people on their journey; they were to be entertained at a home that would receive them, and if no one received them they were to wipe the dust off their feet as a gesture of shame against that city and tell them to be sure of the fact that the Kingdom of God had come near unto them. Then Jesus berated the cities in which He had done His mightiest works, stating that they would suffer a sorer judgment than such wicked cities as Tyre and Sidon.

When the Seventy had finished their mission and had returned they were very happy, for they said that even the demons were subject to them through the name of Jesus. Jesus replied: “I was beholding (imperfect) Satan as lightning having fallen (aorist) from heaven.” This may refer to Satan’s original fall, but more likely to what had just been transpiring. While the Seventy were getting the victory over the servants of Satan, Christ was beholding Satan fall as a dazzling flash of light which was quickly extinguished. The divine protection against serpents and scorpions is similar to that given to the Apostles in the commission of Mk. 16:17,18. However, their greater cause of rejoicing was that their names were written in heaven. The disciples were honored above many kings and prophets who never had the privilege of seeing and hearing the things they were experiencing.

2.     The Good Samaritan

Reference: Lk. 10:25-37

The expressed purpose of this parable was to answer the question of the lawyer: “Who is my neighbor?,” and this should be the primary interpretation. The lawyer, one versed in the Mosaic law, was tempting Jesus, that is, trying to trip Him up. As usual, Jesus made His questioner answer his own question. It was most difficult for the Jewish lawyer to admit that a despised Samaritan was a better neighbor than a priest or Levite of the Jews, but that is what he had to admit and that is the primary teaching of the parable.

However, the parable has many applications, and Christians generally make only applications and never use it to teach the human relationship of neighborliness.

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem knows that one literally goes down from Jerusalem, 2500 feet above sea level, to Jericho, 825 feet below sea level. The usual application of the parable makes the certain man who thus went down to represent Adam’s fall.

He was robbed of his innocence and righteousness, mortally wounded and left to die. The priest and the Levite who happened along, when they saw the dying man, passed by on the other side of the road. They represent the Law. The Law cannot forgive, or restore life; it can only condemn and put to death. That is the clear teaching of Paul’s epistles, especially Romans and Galatians.

But then a certain Samaritan came along, and came to where the dying man was, had compassion on him, treated his wounds and bandaged them, put him on his own beast of burden and brought him to the inn and took care of him. And when he left the next day, he gave the host money and promised upon his return to pay the entire bill for caring for this robbed and wounded man, who had no money to pay his own debts, and had no strength to take care of himself.

And in the application, Jesus, of course, is the good Samaritan. In fact, shortly before this incident the Jews had said: “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a demon?” (John 8:48). Jesus is the only man who ever loved God with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself. He is the only good, really good, neighbor this world has ever had.

3.     The Visit to Martha and Mary

Reference: Lk. 10:38-42

We often hear of women’s societies in churches which call themselves the Martha Society, but seldom do we hear of a Mary Society, and yet Mary was the one who chose the better part. The inference might be made that Mary was an impractical kind who shirked her household duties; however, the text proves just the opposite. When Martha said: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone,” the verb, “hath left,” is in the aorist tense. “She did leave,” indicates that she had been helping until Jesus appeared. The text makes it plain that the house belonged to Martha and she was the one who invited and received Jesus under her roof and was responsible for providing the hospitality. We dare not condemn Martha for what she was doing, for she was doing her best to entertain Jesus in her home, and we can think of many things worse than that. But Martha did not have the spiritual discernment possessed by Mary. She was interested only in providing the outward, physical things for the enjoyment of her Guest, but Mary realized that the Guest had spiritual blessings to bestow, and so took time off from the physical preparations to become spiritually prepared.

The word “cumbered” is an interesting word. This word appears only twice in our A.V., here and in Lk. 13:7; however, they are entirely different words in the Greek. Here the verb means to be distracted. She was distracted from the person of Jesus by the many little chores which needed to be done.

The word “help” is also an unusual word. It is a compound of three words: “to take hold,” “together with,” “reciprocally,” so that Martha said: “Bid her therefore that she take hold and do her part together with me.” This word occurs only one other time, in Rom. 8:26, where we are told that the Spirit “helpeth” our infirmities; that is, the indwelling Holy Spirit takes hold of the heavy end of the load we are called upon to bear and thus helps us in our weakness.

4.     Healing of Man Born Blind

Reference: John 9:1-41

Here we would point out a few principles involved. The first is what we might call the mediate and the immediate cause of disease. Disease is the result of sin, and so naturally the disciples asked: “Who committed the sin which caused this man to be born blind, the man himself or his parents?” In saying that neither this man nor his parents sinned, Jesus did not mean that they had never committed sin, but that it was not their sin which caused the blindness. A man may commit a sin which is the immediate cause of disease, or it may be some defect which he has inherited mediately through his forebears. Ultimately all the sin and disease in the world came in a mediate way from Adam. But in this case Jesus said the man had been born blind that the works of God might be manifested in him. How little did he or his parents have any such concept until the day that Jesus worked this great miracle, for there was no case on record of the restoration of sight to a man born blind. There are doubtless cases today where God has permitted one to be diseased for this very same purpose, that God might do some work through him to bring glory to God, but apart from revelation it would be mere speculation to make such judgments today.

Actually this man was not the only blind person involved. The Jewish rulers in their hatred of Jesus were spiritually blind. They closed their eyes to every bit of evidence: refused to believe the man had been blind until his parents testified he was their son and although they didn’t know how he had received his sight they knew he had been blind from birth. Faced with this evidence they went back to the man and tried to make him confess that Jesus was a sinner. They accused him of being a disciple of this sinner Jesus, but claimed they were Moses’ disciples, and knew not where this Jesus came from. The man marvelled at the ignorance of the rulers: here is a Man restoring sight to the blind and the rulers don’t even know anything about Him. This answer enraged the rulers: “Are you who were born in sin trying to teach us?” And they cast him out.

Up to this point the only thing the man knew for certain was that whereas he was blind, now he could see. When Jesus had heard what the leaders had done, He found the man and asked if he believed on the Son of God, and he replied: “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe?” And Jesus revealed Himself to the man as the Son of God and he believed and worshipped Him. It has often been pointed out that if Jesus accepted the worship of man, and Jesus was not truly God manifested in the flesh, He was guilty of blasphemy and was the greatest imposter the world has ever seen.

In conclusion Jesus told the Pharisees, “For judgment I am come into the world.” He did not mean that He had come to judge the world, for He explicitly stated: “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). The original meaning of judgment was separation, such as dividing the sheep from the goats at the judgment of the nations. Thus, His coming into the world resulted in a judgment, a separation between those who believed on Him and those that rejected Him. Phillips catches the idea in his paraphrase: “My coming into this world is itself a judgment – those who cannot see have their eyes opened and those who think they can see become blind.” Some of the Pharisees overheard this and said: “So we’re blind too, are we?” “If you were blind,” returned Jesus, “nobody could blame you, but as you insist, ‘We can see,’ your guilt remains.”

5.     The Good Shepherd

Reference: John 10:1-21

The first five verses of this chapter constitute a parable, but the disciples did not understand what Jesus meant by the parable. In the verses that follow Jesus applies the parable to Himself as the Shepherd who enters in by the door, in contrast to all who came before Him, who climbed in by some other way and were thieves and robbers. Actually the expression “some other way” (vs. 1), means from some other quarter. It is a matter of origin. Christ had been insisting previously that He came from above, from heaven. The others had their origin from a different quarter: they were from the world. Christ is the door for the sheep. It is said that the shepherd, after bringing his flock into the fold, lies down at the entrance, so that any intruder would have to come in contact with him before getting at the sheep. He is thus both shepherd and door. The shepherd’s job is to lead his sheep in and out for pasture so that they might have abundance of life, as well as to protect them from danger. All of this is in contrast to the hirelings, the rulers or shepherds in Israel. Read the entire 34th chapter of Ezekiel for God’s appraisal of these false shepherds, and for God’s plan for the restoration of His flock and fold.

The interpretation of this portion belongs to Israel, as is evident from both the 34th and the 37th chapters of Ezekiel. The traditional interpretation makes the other sheep of vs. 16 to be the Gentiles, which are to be incorporated with Israel into the Church. This mistake has been partly due to a failure to recognize Old Testament prophecy and partly to the inaccurate rendering both in the Vulgate and the A.V. of the words for flock and fold. These two translations ignore the differences between these two words.

The A.V. entirely ignores the distinction between aule, fold, and poimne, flock. The latter word is found in Matt. xxvi. 31; Lk. ii. 8; 1 Cor. ix. 7, and always distinctly meaning a flock, as does also the diminutive poimnion, little flock (Lk. xii. 32; I Pet. v. 2, etc.). Render as Rev., one flock, one shepherd. So Tynd. Compare Ezek. xxxiv. 23. We are not, however, to say with Trench (‘Authorized Version of the New Testament’), that the Jew and the Gentile are the two folds which Christ will gather into a single flock. The heathen are not conceived as a fold but as a dispersion. ‘Nothing is said of one fold under the new dispensation’ (Wescott). It will readily be seen that the incorrect rendering fostered by the carelessness or the mistake of some of the Western fathers, and. by the Vulgate, which renders both words by ovile, fold, has been in the interest of Romish claims.28

Thus, vs. 16 should read: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold (aules): them also I must lead out, and they shall become one flock (poimne), and one shepherd.”

The Gentiles are nowhere in Scripture represented as being a sheep fold. Instead, it is evident from Ezek. 37 in the sign of the two sticks, that Israel’s one fold became divided into two folds when the northern ten tribes split off from the southern two tribes and became two nations. The prophet was told to take two sticks and write the name of Judah on one and Ephraim on the other, and then to join the two sticks together into one stick. This was a sign of what God was going to do:

Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel: and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all;… And David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd…and the heathen (Gentiles) shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore (Ezek. 37:21,22,24,28).

Here the one shepherd is over the two folds of Israel which have been united into one flock in contrast to the Gentiles. By refusing to interpret literally the Old Testament prophecies and by refusing to recognize the mystery character of the Body of Christ which had not been revealed while Christ was on earth, traditional theologians have applied this passage in John to the Gentiles of the present era. The great blunder of the Church has ever been to identify itself with Israel, appropriating to itself the Israel promises, and leaving only the curses to the Israel to whom the promises were made.

While it is true that Jesus is Israel’s Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep, we know that at the same time God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Here we need to distinguish between the dispensational and the doctrinal aspects of Christ’s life and ministry.

In laying down His life, Christ made it plain that no man could take His life from Him. He had the power to lay it down and to take it again. This is another evidence of His Deity. The truth of John 9:39 is seen again, in that His words caused a division among the Jews, some claiming He was demon possessed and others asking if a demon could open the eyes of one born blind.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)








0 Dispensationalism


Final Period of the Galilean Ministry


This is sometimes called the Period of Retirement. It begins with the withdrawal of Jesus into Northern Galilee and ends with His final departure for Jerusalem. It covers roughly Matthew 15-18; Mark 7-9; Luke 9; and John 7-8. This trip took Jesus all the way up to the borders of Phoenicia, where He had the encounter with the Syrophoenician woman. Some of the notable events during this period were the Feeding of the Four Thousand, the important encounter with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, Peter’s confession of the Deity of Christ, Christ’s prediction of the Millennial Church, the Transfiguration, the discourse on Little Children, predictions of Christ’s betrayal and death, the woman taken in adultery, Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, and His two discourses on the Light of the World and True Freedom.

1.    Children and Dogs, The Syrophoenician Woman

References: Matt. 15:21-28; Mk. 7:24-30

The story of the Syrophoenician woman is one of the most definitive dispensational elements in the Gospel accounts, for it shows with unmistakable clearness the relative positions of Jews and Gentiles in relation to the earthly ministry of Christ. It shows the priority of the Jews over the Gentiles in the prophetic Kingdom purpose of God. It explains the order in which the blessings of the Kingdom were to be bestowed upon Israel and the nations.

Jesus had withdrawn from Galilee and had gone to the northwest into the area around Tyre and Sidon. These two cities are mentioned numerous times in the O.T. In time these cities and kingdoms fell under the judgment of God as depicted in Ezek. 27 and 28. Jesus declared it would be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for the cities of Israel wherein He had done His mighty works (Matt. 11:21,22). These two cities are located a little to the south of modern Beirut in Lebanon.

Matthew calls the woman “Canaanitish,” and Mark refers to her as Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. The woman’s little daughter was grievously possessed by an unclean demon spirit and she came crying for Jesus to help her by curing her daughter, but Jesus answered her not a word. The disciples seemed embarrassed and asked Jesus to send her away. Jesus replied, “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman fell down and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, help me.” Jesus answered: “Let the children first be filled; it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.” It is clear that Jesus was referring to Israelites as children and to Gentiles as dogs. Dogs were unclean animals, and He contrasts them with sheep, clean animals. It is also clear that God’s order was for Israel to first be filled with her blessings before the Gentiles were to receive any blessing. In fact, the prophetic kingdom program was that the Gentiles were to be blessed through Israel; therefore, Israel must first be blessed before she could in turn pass on the blessings to the Gentiles. It is axiomatic that wherever the message is to Israel only, or to Israel first, the ministry is that of the Messianic Kingdom. This is in direct contrast to the dispensational order today, when Israel has been blinded and cast aside, when no nationality has the priority. The very name of the present dispensation: the dispensation of the grace of God, prohibits any such discrimination.

The woman in our story apparently understood that as a Gentile she had no claim upon Christ, since she was a stranger from the covenants of Israel, and she took her place as a dog and replied to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, it is true that it is not right to cast the children’s bread to dogs, but do not the little dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs?” Even though Jesus as yet had no ministry for the Gentiles, this expression of great faith prompted Him to make an exception to the rule, one of the two recorded exceptions, and He granted the woman’s request and her daughter was freed of the demon spirit. This is the only record of His ministry in this region of Tyre and Sidon.

2.     Return to Decapolis

References: Matt. 15:29-31; Mk. 7:31-37

Matthew tells of multitudes of lame, blind, deaf, maimed and others being healed as Jesus passed through the cities of Decapoils. Mark singles out one deaf man who had a speech impediment, whom Jesus took aside privately and healed. The healing was unique in that Jesus put His fingers in his ears and spat and touched his tongue and said, “Ephphatha,” Aramaic for, “Be opened,” and immediately his ears were opened and his tongue was loosed so that he spoke plainly. The multitudes marvelled and glorified the God of Israel. Although he charged those who were healed to tell no man, the more He charged them the more they publicized the miracles.

It should be noted that Jesus used great variety in His healing miracles. For some He simply spoke the word, others He laid His hands upon them, some simply touched His garments, others such as this man and the blind man upon whose eyes He applied clay made from spittle, He used outward means. This variety illustrates the variety God uses in the spiritual realm in the work of salvation. Some are saved simply by reading the Word, others pass through some great crisis; some are saved through personal witness, and others are converted in evangelistic services. There are those who argue that a person is not genuinely saved unless he has gone through their particular conversion experience. These facts should be a sufficient answer to such claims.

3.     The Feeding of the Four Thousand

References: Matt. 15:32-38; Mk. 8:1-9

This miracle was very similar to the feeding of the five thousand, the only differences being in the numbers involved. In the former there were five thousand men, the disciples had five loaves and two fish, and they picked up twelve baskets of fragments. In this miracle, there were four thousand men, seven loaves and four fish, and they picked up seven baskets full.

There are those who believe that every number in Scripture has spiritual significance. While certain numbers in Scripture do seem to have spiritual significance, there is always the danger of speculation. We believe that God gave His revelation so that ordinary people could grasp its message without going into complex mathematical problems, such as counting the numerical value of the letters of every word in the book and finding a secret meaning between the lines, to be known to only a select few. We doubt that God intended some hidden spiritual significance for every mention of a number in Scripture.

4.     Encounter With Pharisees and Sadducees

References: Matt. 15:39-16:12; Mk. 8:10-21

After feeding the four thousand Jesus dismissed the multitude and entered a boat bound for Magdala or Magadan, according to Matthew, and Dalmanutha, according to Mark. These two areas were probably contiguous. Their exact location is in doubt. There He encountered some Pharisees and Sadducees who tempted Him, asking to see a sign from heaven. He rebuked their spiritual blindness by stating that although they could discern the signs in the atmosphere concerning the state of the weather, they were blind to the signs of the times. People today who are always clamoring for signs should remember what Christ told these Jews: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” and in their case no sign was to be given but the sign of the prophet Jonah. This reference to Jonah by the Lord surely supports the historicity of the story of Jonah in the O.T. If Jonah was not three days and nights in the whale’s belly, Christ was not three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Jesus had no more to say to these who had closed their eyes to the truth, so He left them and departed to the other side of the lake with His disciples.

The disciples had forgotten to take food with them and while they were discussing the problem Jesus told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (and Mark adds, of Herod). The disciples supposed He was rebuking them for not bringing bread with them for the trip. But Jesus was rebuking them for their unbelief and lack of spiritual perception, recalling to their minds the feeding of the five thousand and four thousand. Why should they ever worry about lack of food in the light of such experiences? Here again we see a distinction in dispensations. Whereas the disciples were supernaturally fed while Christ was with them in the flesh under the Kingdom program, later under the Church program we find the great Apostle Paul oftentimes hungry, thirsty, naked and cold (1 Cor. 4:11; 2 Cor. 11:27; Phil. 4:12). Israel was promised physical blessings for obedience (Deut. 28:1-4), but we have no such promise as members of the Body of Christ. He will supply our needs, thank God (Phil. 4:19), but that is different from the riches promised to Israel.

5.     The Blind Man at Bethsaida

Reference: Mk. 8:22-26

We referred to this healing a few paragraphs back in discussing the healing of the deaf man with a speech impediment. For a reason not given, Jesus led this blind man by the hand outside the village, and there, spit on his eyes and laid His hands on him. At this point the man’s sight was partially restored, so that he saw men as trees walking. Then Jesus laid His hands on his eyes again and his sight was completely restored. God sometimes does things instantaneously and at other times He does things gradually through a longer or shorter process. No two people have identical experiences. No doubt in this case Jesus chose to work through a process to meet a particular spiritual need of this man. Or perhaps this gradual healing was indicative of the slowness of the disciples to gain spiritual vision.

After seeing so many miracles they still did not perceive. Jesus then sent the man home and warned him not to even enter into the village. We saw in Matt. 11:21 that Christ pronounced woe upon Bethsaida because of their unbelief, and one of the judgments of unbelief is enforced judicial blindness. Because of their unbelief, Jesus withheld from the inhabitants the testimony of this healing miracle, performing the miracle outside the village and forbidding the man to return to it.

6.     Peter’s Confession and the Millennial Church

References: Matt. 16:13-20; Mk. 8:27-30; Lk. 9:18-21

All three Synoptics record the same confession by Peter of the identity of Christ, but Matthew, being the Kingdom Gospel, gives the further details of the keys of the Kingdom and the Church which Christ will build in relation to that Kingdom.

The confession was called forth by Christ’s own question: “Who do men say that I am?” Some speculated that Jesus was John the Baptist come back to life, or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the old prophets risen from the dead. Then Jesus directed the question to the disciples: “But who say ye that I am?” Peter answered for the group: “Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus declared that Peter did not learn this fact from any human source but that it was revealed to him by the Father in heaven. Here we have what is perhaps the clearest claim of Jesus Himself to His Messiahship and His unique relation as the Son of God. He not only claimed it for Himself but declared that God the Father was the originator of this revelation. Men who have not had this truth revealed to them by the Father may deny His title as the Anointed One or as the Son of God, but they cannot deny that Jesus claimed this for Himself.

There follows after this a statement by Jesus which is one of the most misunderstood of all of His sayings: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Rome uses this passage as proof of the Papacy: The Church built upon Peter with the power to forgive and to bind sin. Protestants have used all manner of interpretations to try to deny these claims of Rome. Some argue that Peter’s name means a little pebble, but the rock upon which the church is to be built means bedrock foundation, and that foundation rock is not Peter but Peter’s confession. Others argue that Peter had no more authority to forgive sin than the humblest believer and that all Jesus meant to say was that when we preach the gospel we are using the keys to the kingdom, so that we can say when a man believes his sins are forgiven, and when he doesn’t they are retained. And Rome further uses the statement about the gates of hell to claim infallibility for the Church: the Devil will never be able to prevail by bringing false doctrine into the Church. And of course, Catholics and Protestants alike agree on one point, and that is the Church of which Christ spoke is our present Church, the Body of Christ.

If we could only stop for a moment and put Scriptures in perspective, we would be saved from all of this controversy and confusion. The first fact is Paul’s plain teaching that the Church of which he was made the revelator and minister was a secret truth hidden in God and never before revealed to the sons of men in past generations (Eph. 3:3-9; 5:32). The other fact is that the Church of which Jesus spoke is associated with the Kingdom of the heavens, which as we have seen, is the long promised Messianic Kingdom predicted by all of the prophets, which will be established here on earth when Jesus returns as King of kings. To make this church identical with the Church of our present dispensation we must either say Paul was mistaken about our Church being a previously unrevealed secret, or we must say that the term “kingdom of heaven,” has suddenly taken on an entirely different meaning from the way it has been used previously in Matthew’s Gospel. But if we let Scripture speak for itself and recognize that Christ is going to have a great congregation or church (ekklesia) in the Millennial Kingdom (cf. Heb. 2:12 which is quoted from Ps. 22:22), the meaning becomes perfectly clear.

Christ told Peter and the other Eleven that they would sit on thrones in that Kingdom judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). It makes little sense to argue that a judge sitting upon a throne exercising his authority has no more authority than the humblest believer. Why do we have to resort to an interpretation which completely nullifies the words of Christ to try to answer the claims of Rome? Rome is correct in delegating authority to Peter, but wrong in making the Millennial Church to be the Church in the world today. Rome is wrong in limiting this authority to Peter, for Christ gave this same authority to all Twelve of the Apostles, for all of them are to sit as Judges in that Kingdom (John 20:23).

Many people have the mistaken idea that the Church is something that is limited to the New Testament and is separate and distinct from Israel. This is true of the Church, the Mystery, the Body of Christ, but the word “church” (ekklesia) appears over 40 times in the LXX (the Greek translation of the O.T.). There was definitely a church before the death of Christ, as seen from Christ’s instructions in Matt. 18:17. That church was entirely Jewish and was the nucleus of the Kingdom Church. The church of our dispensation is a joint body of Jews and Gentiles, where all such nationalistic distinctions have disappeared.

There is misunderstanding also about the meaning of the gates of hell not prevailing against this millennial church. Hell here is the Greek Hades, the place of the dead, the unseen world, and sometimes translated “grave.” Hell as the lake of fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels, is an entirely different word. Christ had predicted that many of His followers, who were members of His church, would suffer martyrdom, and what He is saying here is that the gates of death will not prevail against His church, for He will conquer death and bring all of these back to life to take part in that Church.

It is altogether possible that Christ spoke these words in Aramaic and not in Greek, and if so, there is no possibility of making the distinction between Petros, a little stone, and petra, a foundation stone, in the Aramaic language. In every dispensation God has given special authority to certain men. Surely Moses and Aaron, David and Paul were men of special authority. Why take it away from Peter in the government of the Messianic Kingdom? If we understand this passage correctly, it refers to the yet future millennial Church, the program of which was interrupted and temporarily set aside because of Israel’s rejection of Christ and their choice of Caesar rather than Jesus as their King. It has no reference to the Church of this dispensation, of which Paul is the master-builder (1 Cor. 3:10).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)








0 Dispensationalism


The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

18. The Fourth Sign – Feeding of the Five Thousand
References: Matt. 14:13-23; Mk. 6:30-46; Lk. 9:10-17; John 6:1-15

19. The Fifth Sign – Jesus Walking on the Water
References: Matt. 14:24-36; Mk. 6:47-56; John 6:16-21

These two sections will be considered together.

We will first briefly review the historical aspects of the story and then deal with the significance of the miracles as signs. When the Apostles returned from their preaching tour they came and told Jesus all that they had done and taught. There had been so much activity they hardly had time to eat, so Jesus took them to a secret place to rest. But the crowds saw them leave in a boat and ran on foot around the shore and got to the destination before Jesus and the disciples arrived. When Jesus saw the multitudes He had compassion on them, and instead of taking the needed rest, He taught them all day, and toward evening the disciples asked Him to dismiss the meeting and send the people to find food and lodging.

John tells us that Jesus asked Philip, “How can we buy bread for all of these people to eat?” He did this to test Philip to see what he would answer. Would he say, “We don’t need to buy bread, Lord; you are able to feed them miraculously?” Instead, Philip quickly figured that two hundred pennyworths of bread would hardly be enough to give each person just a bite. Then Peter volunteered the information that there was a lad in the crowd who had brought his lunch, five little barley rolls and a couple of fish, but what was that among such a multitude.

Christian workers have to learn that little is much when placed in the Lord’s hand. Jesus knew from the beginning what He was going to do, so he had the disciples make the people sit in companies on the grass, and blessing the lad’s lunch. He took it and broke the rolls and fish and gave to the disciples to distribute until they were all filled. Actually, we do not know how many people were there, for Matthew tells us there were five thousand men, besides women and children. There was such an abundance of food that twelve baskets of scraps were picked up after the meal. John tells us that the people were about to take Jesus by force and make Him king, and Jesus knowing this withdrew into the mountain by Himself. The reason they wanted to make Him king was the prospect of having a ruler who would give them free meals (John 6:26).

Immediately after the meal Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake before Him, while He dismissed the multitude. He then went up in the mountain to pray. In the meantime, night had closed in on the disciples and a storm had developed making it very difficult to man the boat. They had rowed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs towards Capernaum (about four or five miles), when in the fourth watch (between three and six A.M.) Jesus came walking on the water, and Mark says that He would have passed them by, but they, when they saw Him, supposed it was a ghost and they all cried out in fright, for they all saw Him. Whereupon Jesus spoke to them, “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid.”

Matthew gives us the additional details concerning Peter who said, “Lord if it is thou, bid me come to thee upon the waters.” And He said, “Come.” Peter stepped out of the boat walking toward Jesus, but when he took his eyes off Jesus and saw the storm he began to sink and cried out for help. Jesus took his hand, rebuking him for his lack of faith, and together they boarded the boat. Immediately the wind ceased and the boat was almost immediately at the place they were headed for. Mark tells us that the disciples were dumbfounded, for they did not understand the incident of the loaves; their hearts were hardened. In spite of the miracle of the loaves, they still did not see who He was. When they disembarked, the people recognized Him and began bringing their sick to be healed.

Let us notice now the similarity between these two signs, and then what they might signify. In both the glory of Christ as Creator is displayed. Only the Creator could transform five small loaves and two fish into enough food to feed over five thousand people with twelve baskets of leftovers. And only the Creator could have such powers over the forces of nature as to defy the law of gravity by walking on the water, to still the raging storm, and instantly cause the boat with its occupants to be at its destination. He is not only the Creator of Israel (Isa. 43:15), He is the faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19), and as such He can and will supply both the physical and spiritual needs of His people. Both of these signs are prefaced by the statement: “Jesus went up into a mountain” (vs. 3 and 15). Mark informs us that He went up into a mountain to pray and that He saw the disciples toiling in rowing because of the storm on the lake.

This may be a considered as foreshadowing of that future time of Jacob’s Trouble, but Jesus as the ascended great High Priest sees them in their trouble and speedily comes to deliver them and bring them quickly to their land of millennial rest.

20. Discourse on the Bread of Life Reference: John 6:22-71

The multitude that had been fed which wanted to make Jesus King had seen the disciples leave in the only boat on the shore and they had seen Jesus retire into the mountain for the night, and the next day they began looking for Him. They knew He could not have left by boat, but not finding Him they decided to go back to Capernaum, His headquarters, to look for Him there. Upon finding Him they asked when and how He had come to Capernaum. Jesus did not answer their inquisitiveness but got down to the more important question of why they were looking for Him. He told them they wanted to make Him King simply because they got a free meal and were filled, and that they should not work for perishable food, but for that which endures unto life everlasting. This answer brought forth another question, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

The word believe appears about one hundred times in John and is especially important in this context, since Jesus made some other statements which caused many of the Jews to stumble, and still causes people to stumble today. He stated: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” The Jews murmured first because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven,” and secondly because He said they must eat His flesh to have eternal life. What did He mean by this latter statement? We can be sure that Jesus was not stating several different ways to have eternal life.

He had made it plain that there was only one way and that He was that way to God. He stated in vs. 29 that the work of God was to believe on Him, and in three of the following verses He stated without any qualification: “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” He then spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood to have everlasting life. Unless this is a second and different way from believing on Him, eating His flesh must be equivalent to believing on Him. We have seen that receiving Christ is equivalent to believing on Him (1:12), and eating is another figure of receiving and assimilating Christ into one’s own being, just as food is in a physical sense. It is plain that Jesus was not advocating cannibalism, for He said, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” It seems clear from vs. 51 that He was referring to His coming death when He spoke of giving His flesh for the life of the world. And then He says, “If this saying about my death offends you, what about my resurrection: What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?”

The statement, “the work of God is to believe,” sounds almost contradictory, for in other Scriptures work is just the opposite of believing (cf. Rom. 3:27; 4:5; 11:6; Eph. 2:8,9). The Jews were works oriented; they believed man must work his way to eternal life through religious observances and law keeping. It would seem that Jesus used their word “work” to show that it was not work but simply believing. Believing is not an activity of working, but a passive acceptance of what God has done for man. It should be pointed out that the word “work” is not always bad when used in a spiritual sense. While no man can work or do works of righteousness to accomplish his salvation, his salvation has recreated him for the very purpose of producing good works (Eph. 2:10). Faith is an active principle, and Paul speaks of the work of faith (1 Thes. 1:3; 2 Thes. 1:11), which is just the opposite of the works of the flesh and the works of the law (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; 5:19).

It is self-evident that after Jesus had given the Jews the Sign of Creating Bread for them that He should interpret this sign by giving the discourse on Himself as the Bread of Life. It turned out to be a hard saying for the Jews, many of whom turned away and no longer followed Him. Why did some reject and others, such as the Apostles receive Him? Jesus explained it: “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life,” (vs. 65, 40). Peter makes his great confession of Christ, (vs. 68, 69), but Christ confesses that one of the Twelve He has chosen is a devil.

21. Eating With Unwashed Hands References: Matt. 15:1-20; Mk. 7:1-23

This section deals with the complaint of the Pharisees that Jesus’ disciples did not observe the traditions of the elders, of Jesus’ rebuttal showing that the traditions of the elders made void the commandments of God, and of a parable concerning that which defiles a man.

Mark goes into a little more detail of explaining some of the traditional teachings of the elders. The fact that the disciples did not wash before eating does not mean that they were unhygienic. The washing referred to was a ceremony of baptism. The last clause of vs. 4 should actually read: “And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the baptizing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and couches upon which they reclined at meals.” The Law of Moses did contain a number of baptism rites, such as the sprinkling of blood and of the water of cleansing, but these traditional baptisms were inventions of the elders of Israel.

Next, Jesus showed how these traditions made the law of God meaningless. God had commanded that a man should honor his father and mother, but tradition of the elders taught that by making a gift to the temple a son could free himself of any responsibility toward his parents.

Then Jesus explained that it was not physical things which entered man’s body that defiled him, but the things that came forth out of his heart: evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. This is a Biblical definition of human depravity. Man has a corrupt, sinful nature. Cleansing the outside of man with various baptisms and washings cannot change the inward condition.

Christendom has developed many traditional teachings over the centuries, the same as Judaism, many of which make void the Gospel just as did the traditions of the elders. The traditions of the Roman Catholic Church which are held on a par with the written Word of God, make void that Word by teaching baptismal regeneration, the intercession of Mary, the re-sacrifice of Christ, and a host of other anti-scriptural doctrines. We must always ask: “What saith the Scriptures?”

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)








0 Dispensationalism


The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

14. Two Blind Men and a Dumb Demoniac Healed Reference: Matt. 9:27-34

We find a great deal of variety in the healing ministry of Jesus. He did not have some fixed way of dealing with everybody. People are different, their problems and needs are different. They need to be dealt with in a personal way. In this case the two blind men followed Him crying out for mercy. Jesus apparently gave them no heed, so they followed Him into the house. Then Jesus asked: “Do you believe I am able to do this?” and they said, “Yes, Lord.” So, He touched their eyes and they received sight according to their faith. As He had done with others, He strictly charged them to tell no man, but they went forth and spread abroad His fame. It would seem in some of these cases, at least, Jesus wanted to show the impossibility of silencing a testimony of one upon whom God had done a real work.

Then upon the healing of a dumb demoniac the people said, “It was never so seen in Israel,” but the Pharisees said, “By the prince of demons he casts out demons.”

15. Second Rejection at Nazareth References: Matt. 13:54-58; Mk. 6:1-6

Some commentators believe this is a record of His first and only visit to Nazareth, which is recorded in Luke 4:16-30, and which was commented upon under the Early Galilean Period.

16. The Mission of the Twelve References: Matt. 9:35-11:1; Mk. 6:7-13; Lk. 9:1-6

Since we have already dealt with the appointment of the Twelve Apostles we will confine our remarks to their commission. This is one of the great commissions of the N.T. Here we learn that Jesus gave His apostles authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sicknesses and diseases. The disciples had been in training up to this point. Now they are to be sent out to preach and to heal diseases. Disciples are learners; apostles are officially sent ones.

This commission consists of several commands. The first is: “Don’t go to the Gentiles;” second, “Don’t go into any city of the Samaritans;” third, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” fourth, “Preach that the kingdom of heaven is near at hand;” fifth, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and do all of this as freely as the ability has been given you;” sixth, “Don’t take any money with you; don’t pack a bag for your journey; don’t take a change of clothing or of shoes; don’t take a staff; for the worker is worthy of having these needs supplied.”

This commission is a very good example of the dispensational character of the Bible and of God’s dealings with His people. Many of these commands were changed by Jesus just a few months later. In the next commission Jesus gave to these same apostles after His death and resurrection, He rescinded the restriction on the Gentiles and Samaritans, and told them to witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and then to the uttermost part of the earth. This command is a complete reversal of the previous command. On the night before His death He asked these same apostles: “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. Then he said unto them, BUT NOW, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip (bag), and he that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one” (Lk. 22:35,36). Again there is a complete reversal of commands. For the apostles to obey the commands of Jesus in Matt. 10 after receiving the new commands in Lk. 22 would constitute disobedience.

But why would Jesus give one set of commands only to reverse them in a few months? The answer lies in God’s covenant relationship with Israel. God had covenanted with Israel to establish His Kingdom with them, and after that to bless all of the other nations through Israel. Therefore, while Christ was on earth, when the Kingdom was near but not yet established, His message had to be addressed to Israel alone; just as He told the Syrophenician woman: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not right to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs” (Matt. 15:24-26). Israel had to be filled with her promised blessing before any blessing could go to the Gentiles. But after His death and resurrection when the Kingdom was being offered to Israel and when there was the possibility of the Kingdom being established (contingent upon Israel’s repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus as Messiah and King), Christ changed His commands and told them to go to Jerusalem and Judea first, then to Samaria, and finally to the uttermost parts of the earth. But before they had progressed far enough to go to the Gentile nations the rulers of the Jews rejected the ministry of the Apostles, blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and killed some of the witnesses. Thereupon God interposed a moratorium on the Kingdom offer; raised up a new apostle with a new dispensation and a new commission, and the Twelve who had been commissioned to finally go to the Gentiles, turned the Gentiles over to the Apostle Paul (Gal. 2:9).

It is strange that many Christians suppose that God cannot or has no right to change His commands. Some are still trying to carry out commands given by Moses to Israel; others are trying to carry out the commands of Jesus in Matt. 10; and it seems that the great majority of Protestants as well as Catholics are trying to carry out the Kingdom commission of Matt. 28 and Acts 1. If it was disobedience to work under the Matt. 10 commission after the Matt. 28 commission was given, is it not also disobedience to try to fulfill the Matt. 28 commission after a new commission was given to and through Paul?
After telling the Apostles how to behave in their ministry and how they will suffer as sheep amongst wolves, He tells them that they who endure to the end shall be saved (Matt. 10:22). This is a favorite proof-text for Arminians. Modern preachers who use this verse not only remove it from the context of the Kingdom dispensation, but they also fail to understand what the end means. It is usually construed to mean “to the end of one’s life,” whereas the end of which Christ so often speaks is the end of the age. If the Kingdom was near, the end of the present age was even nearer. (Cf. Matt. 13:40; 24:3,6,13,14 where world means age.) Those who endure through the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation, will be saved.

Matt. 10:23, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come,” has puzzled Bible scholars. Those who deny the literal second coming of Christ to establish His Kingdom argue that this verse shows that Jesus intended His coming to be understood in a figurative sense, for surely the Apostles went to these cities and 1900 years have transpired and yet Jesus has not come. It might be well to quote three other similar passages and point out a fact which is common to all and which explains the meaning from a grammatical standpoint.

Matt. 16:28, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

Matt. 23:39, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord .”

Matt. 24:34, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

It will be noted that in all four of these passages the word “till” occurs. In the Greek text there is an untranslatable particle, “an,” used with the subjunctive mood. On the meaning of this particle, Thayers Greek-English Lexicon states: “an, a particle indicating that something can or could occur on certain conditions, or by the combination of certain fortuitous causes.” In other words, these statements are conditional. We might read our present text: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man may have come depending upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. If the conditions are fulfilled, the Son of man will come before you have gone over all the cities of Israel.” What then is the condition upon which His coming depended? There can be no doubt but that it depended upon Israel’s repentance and acceptance of the offered Kingdom. Acts 3:19,20 makes this abundantly plain. Even though Israel had rejected Christ in incarnation, now they were given the opportunity to accept Him in resurrection and had they done so Peter says that God would have sent Him back to bring in the times of restitution spoken of by the prophets. We know now that Israel did not repent and therefore the condition stated in these four references was not satisfied, and therefore Christ did not come.

In exhorting His disciples to faithfulness in the face of violent opposition the Lord made a remarkable statement, recorded more fully in Matt. 10:28 than in Lk. 12:5. “Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (gehenna).” This statement is a sufficient answer to those who claim that physical death results in the death of the soul. The body may be killed without killing the soul. It must therefore exist apart from the body. Only God has the ability, not only to kill, but to destroy both the body and soul in gehenna. Destroy never means annihilate in Scripture. The word used here is apollumi, and is the same word as translated lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Matt. 10:6; 15:24); go after that which is lost, till he finds it (Lk. 15:4); the prodigal son was lost and is found (Lk. 15:32). The word means loss, not of being, but of well-being.

Gabriel’s message of peace on earth is reversed by the Lord in the hostile environment in which He found Himself. He had not come to send peace but a sword (Matt. 10:34). Many Christians are at a loss to explain how Jesus could say He had come to send a sword and not peace, and many critics of the Bible, ignorant of this statement and the reason for it, try to impugn the claims of Christ by pointing to the fact that Christianity has failed to bring about peace in the world. The fact is that not only here did Jesus make such a statement, but in the Olivet Discourse He plainly stated that there would be wars and rumors of wars down to the very end of the age; that is, to the time of His second coming.
To be worthy of Christ the disciples must place Christ before their nearest of kin (vs. 37), before their own interests and safety (vs. 38), before life itself (vs. 39). He closely identified Himself with His own (vs. 40) and promised reward even for giving a cup of cold water to one of these little ones.

Matthew ends the section by stating that Jesus departed from there to teach and preach after thus commanding His twelve apostles, but Mark and Luke state that the Apostles went out and preached the gospel everywhere (in Israel and only to Israelites as Christ had commanded), casting out demons and healing the sick.

17. Death of John the Baptist References:Matt. 14:1-12; Mk. 6:14-29; Lk. 9:7-9

This Herod was one of the sons of Herod the Great who had ordered the slaughter of the innocents. His official title was Tetrach, “ruler of a fourth part.” On the death of King Herod his dominions were divided into four parts: Archelaus obtained two parts, Philip one part, and Antipas (the Herod of this story) one part. Herod’s wife was a daughter of Aretas, King of Arabia, whom he dishonored by taking Herodias, the wife of Philip, to be his wife. Salome was the daughter of Herodias. John had condemned Herod for his immorality and Herod had put him in prison.

John had been arrested perhaps eight months before his martyrdom. Possibly he was imprisoned at the fortress of Machaerus on the east side of the Dead Sea although some think it was at Herod’s palace in Samaria. There Herod had built not only a fortress with dungeons, but an ornate palace. The feast which he gave on this occasion must have been at this palace. The word “here” in Matt. 14:8 at least suggests this, for Salome said, Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist. John must have been nearby for the execution to take place and the head to be brought before the feast was over. It would have required considerable time to go from Jerusalem to Samaria and back. Herodias and Salome knew of Herod’s reluctance to put John to death, and they wanted the deed done before Herod had time to change his mind.

When Herod had heard of the mighty works of Jesus, he was sure that John had risen from the dead. It is strange that he was superstitious enough to believe John had risen from the dead but refused to believe Jesus had risen from the dead later on. Mark tells us that Herodias was so incensed by John’s condemnation of her marriage to Herod that she tried to have him killed, but Herod feared John, knowing he was a holy and righteous man, and kept him safe. Herod had apparently had several conversations with John, for we read that he was much perplexed when he listened to him and yet he heard him gladly. He apparently put John in prison only because of the insistence of Herodias, and now when he made the rash promise to Salome, she and her mother were quick to see the opportunity to have done what Herod had refused to do. Herod was outfoxed and although he was very sorry, to save face before his guests he caused John to lose his head. Herod had two fears: one, a superstitious fear that John might be able to put a curse on him; and the other, a fear of the people, because they considered him to be a prophet. He apparently had no fear of God. God is going to have two great witnesses in Jerusalem during the Tribulation and the rulers will do the same thing to them that Herod did to John (Rev. 11:3-10).

John’s disciples buried John’s body and went and told Jesus what had happened. Jesus was near the Sea of Galilee when the news reached Him, and He withdrew from there in a boat to the other side of the sea, which place Luke identifies as Bethsaida.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)








0 Dispensationalism


The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

B. The Parable of the Sower: Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23;Mk. 4:1-20; Lk. 8:4-15.

Jesus Himself explained the interpretation of this parable, and we would not presume to improve upon His words. The Sower is Christ, the seed is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the ground upon which the seed fell represents four different kinds of hearers. The wayside hearer is the one who hears the Kingdom message but does not understand it, and the wicked one comes as a bird would and snatches the Word from his heart. The stony place hearer is the one who hears the Word and immediately with joy receives it but because he has no root in himself, becomes offended as soon as persecution or tribulation arises, as represented by the heat of the sun. The seed which fell among thorns and was choked or stunted represents those who permit the care of the world and the deceitfulness of riches to choke the Word and thus become unfruitful. Finally, the seed which fell on good ground represents those who hear the Word, understand it, and bear varying degrees of fruit.

Nothing is said specifically about salvation. The parable is concerned with fruit- bearing. It is evident that those in the first category could not have been saved. The second group seem not to have been saved since they had no root. The third group might represent saved people who had become unfruitful. However, the only way we can be sure people are saved is by their fruit. God alone knows the heart. Fruit-bearing is always the result of salvation; never the cause of it.

The parable teaches that the preaching of the Kingdom Gospel will not result in the conversion of an entire nation or of the world. There will be only partial success. Only a fourth of the preaching might produce fruit. We know that the same principle holds true for the preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God in our day and hence we may make a secondary application of the parable to our own preaching. However, we must be careful in making such an application that we do not confuse personal salvation with fruit bearing. Truly saved people have been caused to doubt their salvation by a faulty application of this parable to our day.

C. The Parable of the Wheat and Tares: Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.

We are fortunate again in having Christ’s own explanation of the meaning of this parable. It is a parable of two sowers. One man sowed good seed in his field and his enemy sowed tares in the same field while the man slept. Jesus again is the man who sowed the good seed. The enemy is the Devil; the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the Kingdom and the tares are the children of the wicked one. The workers ask whether they should pull up the tares, and the answer is, “No, you may also pull up the wheat along with the tares; let them both grow together until the harvest.” The harvest is the end of the age; the reapers are the angels who are sent forth by the Son of man to gather out the tares. Those that are evil will be cast into a furnace of fire, and then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.

In trying to apply this parable to God’s present spiritual program with the Church several facts should be observed. The first is that the wheat represents the children of the Millennial Kingdom (including the tribulation saints); not members of the Body of Christ. Next, this parable culminates with the end of the age. This present evil age ends with the second coming of Christ after the Great Tribulation. The Body of Christ will be raptured or gathered out of this world before the Great Tribulation. In the parable the ones who are gathered out by the angels are those who offend and do iniquity; the righteous are left on earth to enjoy the Kingdom. Just the opposite happens at the Rapture: the saints are gathered out to be with Christ in glory, and the ungodly are left to go through the Tribulation on earth. The only thing in this parable which is similar to God’s present spiritual program is the fact that both good and evil exist together in the world; all else is in contrast.

The first two parables are given in much detail and are fully explained for us. The remaining five must be interpreted in harmony with the first two. The lesson of the first two is that there will be a period of preaching of the Kingdom during which good and evil will grow up together, which will be terminated by the second coming of Christ at the end of the age to punish the wicked and to reward the righteous in the new age of the Millennium.

D. The Parable of the Mustard Seed: Matt. 13:31,32; Mk. 4:30-32; Lk. 13:18,19.

The mustard plant in this parable is thought to be the black mustard (Sinapsis nigra), which grows quite large. There are smaller seeds than the mustard, but it is probably smallest of the garden seeds. The statement that the birds lodged in the branches does not mean that they built their nests in it, but lighted on its branches to rest or to eat the seeds. The birds were probably small sparrow-like birds.

The parable speaks of rapid growth, but growth that is temporary, for mustard is a herb which lasts for only a season, and not a tree which endures for many years. Some commentators believe that the birds represent forces of evil, corresponding to the tares in the previous parable and to Satan’s emissaries, the birds, in the parable of the Sower. It should be remembered that these parables are not depicting the character of the Kingdom after it is established at the second coming of Christ, but its character prior to that time when it contains a mixture of good and evil.

E. The Parable of the Leaven: Matt. 13:33-35; Lk. 13:20,21. What does leaven represent in the Bible? There can be no doubt about the meaning Paul placed upon it: “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:6-8). What meaning did Christ place upon it? Jesus told His disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees,” by which He meant the unscriptural “doctrine” of these Jews (Matt. 16:6-12). In no place in Scripture is leaven used to represent truth or that which is good.

Jesus did not say that the kingdom was like leaven or evil; He said it was like leaven which a woman hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. The Kingdom is likened to the whole process. Traditionally the leaven is interpreted as the Gospel, the woman as the Church, and the three measures of meal as the world. The interpretation is that the whole world will be permeated by the Gospel through the instrumentality of the Church, thus resulting in a converted world. This interpretation is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the first two parables as explained by Christ Himself. It is also opposed to experience, for the non-Christian population of the world is increasing at a much more rapid rate than that of new converts to the faith. It is also opposed to the plain, pre-millennial teaching of the Bible. It is also opposed to the a-millennial view which many Christians hold.

It should also be remembered that even the Millennial Kingdom, which apparently begins with a converted world, will end in a great rebellion when Satan is loosed from his prison in the abyss (Rev. 20:7-9). There will be no Kingdom of absolute righteousness until the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.

F. The Parable of the Hid Treasure: Matt. 13:44.

This is the first of the parables spoken privately to His disciples after He had dismissed the multitudes and gone into the house. This parable is about a treasure buried in a field which a man found, and after finding it he buried it again and went and sold all that he had and with the proceeds purchased the field. It seems evident that this parable illustrates a different aspect of the Kingdom from that which has gone before.

We believe this speaks of God’s hidden purpose to redeem Israel and in so doing to redeem the world. In the other parables the field is the world and there is no reason for changing it here. This treasure in the world must speak of people. Ps. 135:4 states: “For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure.” In Ex. 19:5 God says to Israel: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine.” Since Israel is God’s chosen nation, His peculiar treasure which He found in this world, there seems no reason not to inject that meaning into the parable. We would not be dogmatic on what the hiding of the treasure depicts, but we would suggest that it could refer to the fact that Israel has been dispersed and in a sense hidden among all the nations of the world.

But God’s sovereign purpose with Israel is not going to fail, although the Kingdom in its mystery form may seem to fail. Paul explains the apparent failure of God’s promises to Israel in Rom. 10, and in Rom. 11 he shows that the present fall and casting away of Israel resulted in the reconciliation of the world. “But if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness” (vs. 12-15). And so Paul concludes: “All Israel shall be saved,” even though they are enemies of the gospel at the present. “But as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake.” There can be no doubt that the giving up of all in order to purchase the field refers to Christ’s leaving behind heaven’s riches in order that He might pay the redemption price for the world on Calvary’s cross.

G. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price: Matt. 13:45,46.

The interpretation of this parable is much the same as that of the hidden treasure. Some interpreters claim that the pearl represents the Church as distinct from Israel. It is our belief that the truth about the Church of this dispensation was as yet a secret and not revealed until it was given to the Apostle Paul. It has been suggested that the Pearl, instead of representing Israel as a nation, represents the remnant of Israel which shall be saved before the final establishment of Israel as a nation in the Kingdom. (Rev. 7:4-8; 12:17 cf. Rom. 9:27; 11:5 and the many references to the remnant in Isa., Jer., Ezek., and Micah.) Again, Christ is the Merchant who gave up all to purchase this Pearl, this remnant which remained faithful in spite of trial and testing and great tribulation.

H. The Parable of the Dragnet: Matt. 13:47-50.

This parable reinforces the teaching of the other parables that during the interval between the two comings of Christ the good and the bad will co-exist. The net cast into the sea enclosed every kind of sea life edible and non-edible. The fishers drew the net to the shore, sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. The fulfillment of this will come at the end of the age, that is, at the end of the Tribulation when Christ returns. There is a remarkable passage in Jer. 16:13-21, where God says concerning the remnant of Israel: “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them.” There are many Old Testament passages which speak of the regathering of Israel and the separation of the faithful from the rebels, (cf. Isa. 27:12,13; Ezek. 20:13-38). According to Matt. 24:31, God will use the angels as the fishers to gather the elect. In the symbolism of Revelation the sea represents peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (Rev. 17:15; cf. Rev. 13:1; Dan. 7:2).

I. Parable of the Scribe and the Householder: Matt. 13:52.

This statement is not actually called a parable and is not recognized by many commentators as such. However, we have included a number of similes and will treat this one as such.

In this comparison the scribe who is instructed concerning the Kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings forth out of his treasure things old and new. A scribe in Bible times was a scholar whose business it was to study and teach the Law. But sad to say the scribes, as a body, were ignorant of the Kingdom and they rejected the teachings of Jesus. But every scribe who is instructed (literally, has been made a disciple to) the Kingdom brings forth out of his treasure things new and old, the New Testament secrets of the Kingdom as taught by Christ and the Old Testament truths concerning the Kingdom.

These scribes would be dispensationalists of that day who rightly divided the Word of Truth. They would be able to put the old and the new together in a unified whole. There is an old saying, “Whatever is new is not true, and whatever is true is not new.” The only new things in the spiritual world are revelations of truth from God. The axiom we have just quoted would not have been true in Jesus’ day, for He was revealing new truth about the Kingdom, but it is true in our day because God completed His revelation with the apostles and the canon is closed. We may find much that is new to us, but if it is true, it has been in the Scripture all along. God revealed a whole new body of truth to the Apostle Paul for members of the Church which is His Body, and it has been in the Book for two thousand years.

12. The Stilling of the Storm
References: Matt. 8:18, 23-27; Mk. 4:35-41; Lk. 8:22-25

A scene like this is a cause for wonder. Here the Lord Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth, is asleep in the stern of a little boat on the Sea of Galilee and a sudden squall swamps the boat and threatens the lives of those abroad. And Jesus slept through it all. Was God asleep? What would happen if God went to sleep? But, “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:3). Here we are confronted again with the mystery of the Incarnation. The Man Jesus was asleep, but as God He was not asleep.

When awakened by the frantic disciples, Jesus calmly asked, “Where is your faith?” Could the ship sink with the God-man aboard? And He rebuked the wind and the raging of the water, and them was a great calm. No doubt we ourselves, who have had the advantage of studying the completed Word of God, would marvel as much as did the disciples if we were put through a similar experience. “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” The story could have many spiritual applications to the presence of Christ with us in the many storms of life we all experience.

13. The Healing of the Maniac at Gadara
References: Matt. 8:28-34; Mk. 5:1-20; Lk. 8:26-39

Usually the Gospel of Mark gives an abbreviated account of events but on this occasion it is the longest and gives more details. Some believe that the account in Matthew happened upon a different occasion, because in Matthew there were two demoniacs, and only one is mentioned in Mark and Luke. It seems rather unlikely that two events so similar would happen at the same place with the demons entering the swine and the swine being destroyed by rushing over the cliff into the sea. Here is a possible explanation:

Mark and Luke only speak of one; just as they only speak of one blind man at Jericho and one colt at the entry to Jerusalem. This shows design, not discrepancy. The prophecies immediately preceding Matthew predicted the advent of Christ as King of Israel and Prince of Judah. The Holy Spirit in this first Gospel therefore, records the historic facts that there were two demoniacs, and two blind men, and two animals, for these represent Israel and Judah. No such duality was needed in the other Gospels.

Mark adds such details as when the demoniac saw Jesus “from afar” he ran and worshipped Him; that there were about 2,000 swine; and that after he was healed he began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him; whereas Luke says, “throughout the whole city.” Decapolis is not a city, but a league of ten cities, as the name means.

This story not only shows the power of Christ over the Satanic world and the fact that these spirit beings recognized and confessed who Jesus really was, but it reveals a great deal about demons.

There can be degrees of demon possession. In some cases there was only one demon, in another the one went and found seven others worse than himself and entered into the man, and in this case there must have been a thousand, for their name was Legion. This may explain the super-human strength of the man that enabled him to break the fetters and chains with which the authorities tried to bind him.

Further, these demons requested Jesus to send them into the swine, and Jesus granted the request. They knew that swine were unclean animals and therefore Jesus would be more inclined to grant their request than if they had asked to go into a herd of sheep. But why did they want to go into any creature? We know very little about the nature of demons, but they appear to be disembodied spirits who constantly seek embodiment of some kind. Some think they are the fallen sons of God in Gen. 6:4. They are characterized as being unclean. They are not like Satan who appears as an angel of light and a minister of righteousness, (2 Cor. 11:14). They are degraded and cause those they possess to engage in all kinds of filth and insane behavior.

But what a contrast between this poor soul before and after meeting Jesus. He was sitting, not raging and cutting himself; he was clothed, not naked; and in his right mind, no longer a maniac. One would have thought that the people of the area would have welcomed a healer who could perform such cures, but He had apparently damaged their illegal business, and that coupled with their superstitious fear caused them to ask Jesus to depart and He granted their request, but not before telling the healed man to tell others of his deliverance.

14. The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter
References: Matt. 9:1,18-26; Mk. 5:21-43; Lk. 8:40-56

Again in this incident Mark gives us details omitted by Matthew and Luke. Mark and Luke give the name of the ruler, Jairus. Mark and Luke mention the daughter was near death when Jairus first spoke to Jesus and that as they were on the way to the house the message came that the daughter was dead. Matthew begins with the Ruler saying, My daughter is dead. Mark and Luke both mention the age of the child, twelve years; Matthew doesn’t.

All three mention that the woman with an issue of blood who intercepted Him on the way, had been afflicted twelve years. Twelve is the number of Israel. The physical diseases of the people healed are representative of the moral and spiritual condition of Israel. In just this one chapter 9 of Matthew we see illustrated man’s condition by nature as paralyzed (vs. 2), dead (vs. 18), diseased (vs. 20), blind (vs. 27), and dumb (vs. 32).

Mark also gives details of the woman’s illness and experience with the physicians, having spent all she had without any improvement, but rather had worsened. Mark also tells us that when Jesus said, “Who touched me?” the disciples said, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” Only one in that pushing, shoving crowd really touched Jesus. The woman was fearful and timid but she had strong faith.
Mark and Luke also tell us that Jesus took Peter, James, and John into the house with the parents, after He had expelled the mourners, to raise the child. And Mark alone tells us that Jesus said, “Talitha cumi,” which is Aramaic for “Damsel, arise.” After raising the child He prescribed a good meal. Having been restored by Jesus the child was now in the best of health. When Jesus healed, He restored to perfect and complete health.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.
We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.


0 Dispensationalism


The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

8. Christ’s Companions on Second Preaching Tour Reference: Lk. 8:1-3

While Jesus did not appoint any women apostles or place women in places of leadership, He did lift the status of women and recognize their place of ministry. On this preaching tour through Galilee He took with Him, not only the Twelve, but three women whose names are mentioned, along with many others who ministered to Him and His apostles of their means. Susanna is mentioned only this once in the N.T. Joanna is mentioned here and in Lk. 3:27 and 24:10. Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times: Matt. 27:56,61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40,47; 16:1,9; Lk. 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1,18). We have no record of how or when these women became disciples. Nothing is said to identify Susanna. We do know that Joanna was the wife of King Herod’s steward, which is an interesting sidelight. But Mary Magdalene is described as a demon possessed woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. These women seem to have had more spiritual insight than did the apostles.

The two Marys are mentioned together at the sepulchre of Christ watching as Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in a linen cloth and laid it in the tomb and then rolled a great stone over the door. These same two Marys were the first at the tomb, at daybreak on Sunday morning, and they were the first human beings to see the risen Christ (Mk. 16:9). And when these women told the Apostles Jesus had arisen from the dead, they believed not. God has honored and rewarded these women by placing their names in Holy Writ for hundreds of generations to further honor them for their love and devotion to Christ.

9. The Unpardonable Sin
References: Matt. 12:22-45; Mk. 3:19-30, cf. Lk. 11:14-23; 6:43-45; 11:29-32

The references in this section are quite fragmented, especially in Luke.
First, Mark tells us that the multitudes surrounded Jesus to the extent that no one could so much as eat bread. The friends of Jesus thought He was crazy and went to take charge of Him. (It is not clear whether His friends said He was crazy, or the people who were gathered.) On this occasion Jesus was casting out a demon from a blind and dumb man. When the man spoke and saw, the multitudes marveled, but the Jewish leaders accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus showed the impossibility of their charge, for if Satan was divided against himself, his power would be destroyed. But if Jesus was casting out demons by the Spirit of God it was evident that the Kingdom of God was manifesting itself.

Then follows what has been called the unpardonable sin, which has been so misinterpreted as to cause many people deep spiritual harm, for fear they have committed it. The character of the sin is said to be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin could not be any sin against Jesus Christ, for Christ plainly stated that sins against Himself were forgivable, but this sin against the Holy Spirit was not forgivable. What is this sin? Do we read anywhere of men thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit?
We believe first that this sin could not be committed until the Holy Spirit was given, and that was after the death and resurrection of Christ. Next, we believe that Israel’s sin against the Son of Man in crucifying Him was forgiven, for Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given, and one of the functions of the Spirit was to enlighten and reprove of sin, because they believe not on the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Pentecost the rulers of Israel were no longer acting in ignorance. In rejecting Christ now, they were sinning against the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we read Stephen’s indictment in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did so do ye.” They were resisting the Holy Spirit, but when Paul was raised up as the new apostle of the Gentiles, Paul still had dealings with the people of Israel in the dispersion. On his first missionary journey when he was in Antioch of Pisidia and the Jews opposed him, it is said, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” Again the same thing happened at Corinth: “And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). And finally the same thing happened when Paul reached Rome as a prisoner and preached to the Jews (Acts 28:25-28). Paul says that he himself was formerly a blasphemer, but he acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Tim. 1: 13), and in his hatred of Jesus he forced others to blaspheme (Acts 26:11).

Therefore, we believe that this sin against the Holy Spirit was committed by Israel during the book of Acts period. There are many warnings against sin of any kind in Paul’s epistles, but interesting enough, nowhere does he speak of an unforgivable sin in this dispensation of grace.

After this Jesus gave some similitudes of good and bad men bringing forth good and bad fruit, even as good and bad trees do. The importance of spoken words is emphasized. Men will have to give account of every idle or careless word they speak. Men will be justified or condemned by their words.

The next paragraph deals with signs. God has always dealt in signs with Israel. Paul tells us that the Jews require a sign (1 Cor. 1:22). Here the Jews demanded a sign from Jesus to accredit His claims. The only sign He will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. It goes without saying that Jesus knew and believed the story of Jonah to be a true historic event. Those who call this story a myth impugns the testimony of Christ. While the story of Jonah is historically true it is also a parable or illustration of the nation of Israel. Israel had a commission from God to make His name known to the Gentile nations, but like Jonah they refused. As a result God dispersed them among the Gentiles, even as Jonah fled to Tarshish. On board the ship a great storm arose and Jonah was cast overboard into the sea, which is often a figure for the Gentile nations, where Jonah was miraculously preserved, even as Israel has been preserved as a distinct ethnic group over the centuries. As Jonah was vomited up out of the sea, so Israel will again be restored as a nation upon her own land. And finally as Jonah then went to Nineveh and preached and the whole city repented, so Israel, when they are restored, will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations; the so-called Great Commission will be carried out, and the nations of the earth will be converted. But in the present context Jesus makes the experience of Jonah in the belly of the sea-monster to be typical of His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus claimed to be greater than Jonah and greater than Solomon: hence the greater the condemnation which would come upon those who had the greater enlightenment and yet did not repent.

The final paragraph in this section is the record of a demon who is evicted and later returns with seven other demons worse than himself, so that the latter end of the one possessed is worse than the first. This is the story of the nation of Israel. They had reformed and evicted the demon of idolatry with which they had been possessed in the days before the dispersion, and now they refuse to be filled with the Spirit of God. When the demon returns he finds Israel “empty, swept, and garnished.” He enters in with even worse companions and takes possession of Israel again. This describes their condition in the time of great tribulation (cf. Rev. 12:13).

10. The True Kindred of Christ
References: Matt. 12:46-50; Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 8:19-21

We do not think that Jesus showed disrespect for His mother and brothers according to the flesh by apparently denying them and turning to His true disciples and calling the ones who did the will of the Father in heaven, his mother and brethren. Rather Jesus was making it plain that His mother and brothers in the flesh did not have any unique or favored relationship with Himself. As we have seen, Jesus placed Himself in subjection to His earthly parents until He became of age, and even as He was dying on the cross He made provision for His mother (John 19:26,27).

Spiritual ties can bind people more closely together than physical ties. In fact, many times believers find their natural relations antagonistic to spiritual things. Jesus Himself experienced this, for we read: “Neither did His brethren believe in Him.” In fact, Jesus predicted that because of His being rejected by Israel, instead of bringing peace to the world, He would bring division: father divided against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (Lk. 12:49-53).

11. The Parables of the Mysteries of the Kingdom
References: Matt. 13:1-53; Mk. 4:1-34; Lk. 8:4-18

A. Why Parables? Matt. 13:10-17; Mk. 4:10-12; Lk. 8:9.10. The Greek word “parable” means “something thrown alongside.” The parable places a truth from nature alongside a spiritual one. Since parables are figures of speech used to illustrate spiritual truth, Christ’s answer to the disciples’ question may seem paradoxical: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Also He said: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Thus, parables were used by Christ to reveal truth to His disciples, and to conceal truth from the unbelieving Jews.

While various spiritual applications may be drawn from the parables, it is most important to understand their primary interpretation. The parables deal with either the subjects of the Kingdom or with the chief Character of the Kingdom, who is depicted under such figures as Nobleman, King, Bridegroom, Builder, Master, Judge, Sower, Husbandman, Shepherd, Physician, Creditor, Rock and Cornerstone. After we understand the primary meaning of the parables, we may make secondary applications to ourselves in this Church age, for the simple reason that there are certain moral and spiritual truths which are unchangeable and apply to mankind in every age.

The parables in this section concern “the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven.” The Kingdom of heaven in Matthew is synonymous with the Kingdom of God in Mark and Luke. This Kingdom is not to be thought of either as God’s general sovereignty over the universe, or as a purely spiritual kingdom which consists of all holy and righteous beings. Both of these aspects of the Kingdom of God have always existed whereas that aspect of the Kingdom which is before us in the Gospels is something that was near at hand at that time, but its establishment was yet future. Therefore, it seems evident that the Kingdom of which Christ spoke was the Davidic, Messianic, earthly Millennial Kingdom which is the subject of Old Testament prophecy.

The word “mystery” in Scripture is not something mysterious, but rather something which had been kept secret but is now revealed. There was nothing secret about God’s purpose to establish the Messianic Kingdom upon the earth. This was one of the main burdens of Old Testament prophecy. What then is the secret about the Kingdom which these parables reveal? As we understand it, the secret is that the Kingdom was not to be established at the first coming of the Messiah, but at His second coming. The Jews expected that the Kingdom would appear immediately (Lk. 19:11). Instead, Christ taught that the Messiah must first die, and then there must be the worldwide sowing of the Gospel of the Kingdom, during which good and evil would grow up together until the end of the age, at which time He would return, judge the nations, and establish His Kingdom. Old Testament prophecy does not distinguish between the two comings of Christ and the interval in between. Isa. 61:1 is an example. Thus far a period of 2000 years has intervened between. the first and last clauses of this verse. The same is true concerning the 70 heptads of years which Daniel prophesied unto the establishment of the Kingdom. There is no intimation that 2000 years would intervene between the 69th and the 70th heptad. It is therefore not exactly correct to state that Christ came the first time to offer the Kingdom to Israel. He did preach that the Kingdom was near, but He came to present Himself to Israel as the Messiah, to be rejected, and to die a sacrificial death. It was only after this that the Kingdom could be offered to Israel, as indeed it was in the early chapters of the Acts. Those who fail to understand the meaning of the mysteries of the Kingdom teach that Christ came the first time to offer and establish the Kingdom, and that since Israel rejected the offer, God began something entirely new and different on the Day of Pentecost.

Before looking at the parables themselves, we might ask: Why would Christ adopt a method of teaching which would keep certain people from understanding the truth? To answer this, we must understand something about what is called “judicial blindness.” This means that when people harden their hearts toward God and close their eyes to the light, He confirms their action and keeps them in the dark. Christ quoted Isa. 6:9,10; read Matt. 13:13-15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; John 12:39-41; Acts 28:25-27; and Rom. 11:7-12. All of these passages speak of the judicial blindness which God pronounced upon the people of Israel, first in Isaiah’s day, then in Christ’s day, and finally in Paul’s day. In all three cases Israel closed their eyes to the light which God gave them, and as a judgment God sealed their eyes shut. This blindness of Israel was not total, that is, not all Israelites were blinded, for some did believe. Paul states that “blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and then all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25,26).

It should be noted that while Matthew records seven “mystery” parables, Mark and Luke record only the first one, about the Sower. Mark then relates the parable of the candle and the parable of the unconscious growth, before giving another of the mystery parables, that of the Mustard Seed. Luke also mentions the Mustard Seed and the Leaven in a different context (13:18-21).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.
We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.



0 Dispensationalism


The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

D. Riches: Matt. 6:19-24. There are two great principles enunciated in this section: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and “No man can serve two masters.” The Bible contains many warnings about worldly riches. Here the warning is about the uncertainty of such riches. And even if a man succeeds in amassing a fortune, he may be like the rich fool of Lk. 12:20, whose soul was required of him and he could not take any of his riches with him. The believer can transmute base earthly labor and money into heavenly treasure and have it kept safe on deposit awaiting his arrival in glory.

Paul’s main comments on riches, and they that would be rich are to be found in 1 Tim. 6:6-10. James has some scathing remarks about the rich in Ch. 5:1-6 of his epistle. God has entrusted some of His faithful people with worldly riches, and Paul has a word for them in 1 Tim. 6:17-19.

The parable of the Eye as the Light of the Body in vs. 22 and 23 seems to be related to the location of one’s treasure as well as the serving of two masters. The eye that is single is an eye that is focused upon just one object, not on a complex mixture of objects. We should have an eye single to the glory of God (Eph. 6:5). Likewise, our eye should be focused upon the Lord who is Light, otherwise the light that is in us becomes darkness.
“No man can serve two masters.” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is an Aramaic word meaning property or wealth, and is here personified, as it is in Lk. 16:13. People try to serve both masters, but their loyalties are divided.

E. Anxiety: Matt. 6:25-34. Anxiety is a sin; it not only demonstrates a lack of faith (and whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14:23), but is also injurious to health. The A.V., “Take no thought,” is a very poor translation for today, although it was a good translation in 1611 when the word thought meant anxiety, as can be seen from Shakespeare’s usage in Hamlet: “The native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”
All six of the “take no thoughts” of this passage should be translated, “Don’t be over anxious.” Jesus did not mean a reckless neglect of the future, but uneasiness and worry and anxiety about the future. While many of the principles in this section can be applied equally to the Kingdom and to the Church, we believe there is a distinct difference in some of the Kingdom promises and those for us today. Kingdom promises include material blessings. The Kingdom disciples formed a kind of commune in which they shared all their possessions in common, and we read: “Neither was there any among them that lacked” (Acts 4:34), but a few years later, after the Kingdom program had been set aside in favor of the new Pauline dispensation, we read of these same people that they had become destitute, insomuch that Paul had to take up a collection from his Gentile churches for the poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26). Since apostolic days numerous attempts have been made to establish Christian communism, but they have all failed.

Paul condemns anxiety, just as Jesus did (Phil. 4:6), but he encourages industry and the laying aside of funds and the right use of money. He doesn’t condemn the rich but tells them to be rich in good works. He warned those who willed to be rich, for this was an indication of the love of money, which is the root of all kinds of evil.

Matt. 6:33 is often misapplied. Two questions need to be asked: What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God, and, Are all these other things automatically added? The Kingdom of which Jesus spoke was still future, for He had just instructed His disciples to pray for its coming into being. They were to seek it as a future expectation. This expectation is ours today only in a secondary sense.

Our expectation is the Rapture and to be manifested in glory with Christ. We are already in the spiritual Kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). We are not seeking the Millennial Kingdom as the disciples of Jesus were. Even if we interpret seeking the Kingdom to mean, putting God first in our lives, does this automatically guarantee that all of these material things will be supplied? We have known people who have gone out as foreign missionaries who believed on the basis of this verse that God would add to them all of these earthly needs. They surely put God first in their lives. Some took no health precautions, thinking this promise took care of all such things, but they came down with malaria, dysentery, and parasites and had to be brought home.

We today must remember that the disciples were living in a dispensation under which they had power over all manner of diseases and even over poisonous serpents. We are not living in that dispensation. Putting God first involves putting His Word first, and that means following His instruction to rightly divide His Word, so that we know which part is for our obedience. In so doing we may learn that putting God first means industriousness, “for if any will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thes. 3:10); and the use of remedies for sickness (1 Tim. 5:23); and bodily exercise (1 Tim. 4:8 – it is profitable for a little, not profiteth little). God works according to a plan and He expects us to have a plan for our lives. We can make such plans without becoming anxious or worried. He gives us common sense and He expects us to use it. In every dispensation God and His glory should be put first, but the promises of physical blessings flowing from such actions may vary from dispensation to dispensation. Paul surely put God first in his life, but read of some of his privations in 2 Cor. 11:24-33.

F. Discernment: Matt. 7:1-6; Lk. 6:37-42. The commands in the Bible about judging can be very confusing unless we use discernment. The command here, “Judge not,” seems to say that we should never judge. But that could not be so, for Jesus also said: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And Paul instructs believers to pass judgment upon those in the Church who are misbehaving, and he asks: “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Cor. 6:5). And in another place Paul says: “Yea, I judge not mine own self” (1 Cor. 4:3) and in the same epistle, “if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged” (11:31). These are not contradictory statements.

The context must determine the meaning. In Matt. 7:1 Jesus is saying, “If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t criticize others, for others will criticize you by the same standards you use in judging others. The measure you give will be the measure you get.” And He says, before finding fault with others be sure you don’t have the same or even greater fault. He illustrates this with exaggeration. How can you see to remove a speck from your brother’s eye when you have a big log in your own eye? Getting the log out of our own eye is self-judgment. The meaning of these verses seems clear, but what did Jesus mean in Matt. 7: 67?

“Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you?” This surely, does not mean to refrain from preaching the gospel to the unsaved, for this is the only message the Christian has for those outside of Christ.

In the figure which the Lord uses, the word “holy” refers to the meat of the animal sacrifice of which no unclean person could eat (Lev. 22:6,7,10,14,15,16). Dogs were unclean animals, a term which the Jews applied to Gentiles (Matt. 15:26). Early Christians applied this similitude of the holy things to the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, which should not be administered to the unsaved.

The other similitude has a different character. Pearls have a resemblance to peas and acorns which are given to swine, but if thrown to swine, upon discovery that they are inedible they will trample them underfoot and turn upon the donor in anger. There is truth in the Bible intended for the unsaved, and there is truth intended for only the saved. To minister a heavenly diet to the unsaved is like trying to feed swine on pearls. The unregenerated mind cannot tolerate spiritual food. It is, as Paul says, foolishness unto him. When God gave the heavenly manna to the Israelites they treated it with contempt and lusted for the leeks and garlic and the fleshpots of Egypt (Num. 11:4-6).
In the corresponding portion in Luke “the measure” is enlarged upon. If you, as a merchant, fill the measure, press it down, and shake it down further and then fill it to overflowing, your customers will deal in like fashion with you. If you give a skimpy measure, you will get the same in return. This principle applies also to our relation to God, (cf. 2 Cor. 9:6).

Luke also adds the parable of the blind leading the blind. If you have a log in your eye you are blinded and cannot see to lead another who is blind. Also, the disciple or learner is not equal to his master. One must study long to become perfected as a teacher, and then he becomes equal with his master. As the poet has said, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Some people learn the meaning of a few Greek words in the N.T. and go about posing as authorities. They can easily lead others astray by conclusions based upon their ignorance of the language as a whole.

G. Encouragements: Matt. 7:7-21; Lk. 11:9-13. The encouragement is based upon prayer and the fact that if parents who are themselves evil know how to give good things to their children who ask, will not the heavenly Father rather give good things to those who ask Him? Asking, seeking, and knocking indicate varying degrees of earnestness in prayer. There is no promise of getting any or every request of a selfish nature (cf. Jas. 4:3). Parents have to be very unwise to give their children everything for which they ask. God gives good things, not requested things which would be for the hurt of the child. The comparison of bread and stones and fish and serpents might seem odd, but there can be a resemblance between these objects.

Lk. 11:13 has a variation on the Matthew rendering: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” In the O.T. the Holy Spirit came upon kings and prophets for special types of empowerments and might later leave them. The Holy Spirit was taken away from Saul because of his sins of disobedience. David prayed that God would not take His Holy Spirit from him (Ps. 51:11). The New Covenant promised that God would put His Spirit in the hearts of the children of Israel (Ezek. 36:27; 37:14).

Christ told His disciples that the Holy Spirit was dwelling with them, and that later on He would be in them (John 14:17). John explains that when Jesus spoke of rivers of living water flowing out of one’s innermost being, “He spake this of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Whereas in that dispensation people had to pray for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell with them, and at Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given after repentance and water baptism, in the present dispensation the Holy Spirit is given upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where “after believing” as in the A.V., should be translated, “upon believing,” for it is a present participle).

H. The Golden Rule: Matt. 7:12. Many people have the impression that to become a Christian one must try to keep the Golden Rule. But the Golden Rule is not a means of salvation. When Christ gave it He said: “For this is the Law and the Prophets.” Scripture is clear that no flesh will ever be justified by keeping the Law. The law demanded that you do unto others what you would have them do unto you. There is nothing especially Christian about this rule. Confucius taught it 500 years before Christ and probably all religions contain the general idea. It is actually a part of natural law. But no man, aside from Jesus Christ, ever consistently lived up to this rule. But through the operation of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, God is able to fulfill all of the righteous requirements of the moral Law in the believer (Rom. 8:24). There is nothing wrong with the Golden Rule or with the Law. Man’s sinful nature is at fault (cf. Rom. 7:12-18).

I. Alternatives: Matt. 7:13,14. Religionists often say that there are many roads that lead to heaven, but Jesus spoke of only two roads, and one of them led to destruction, leaving only one road that leads to life. In John 14:6 Christ speaks of Himself as the only Way by which men can come to God. In John 10:9 He spoke of Himself as the Door, through which if any man enter he shall be saved. In the passage before us the two gates and the two ways seem to refer more to the choices men make in life as they travel through this world.

A better translation of these two verses would be: “Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones going through it: Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life, and few are the ones finding it.” Notice the comparisons. One gate is very wide, the other very narrow; one way is broad and spacious, the other uneven and difficult to travel; one leads to disaster and destruction, the other leads to life everlasting.

If we isolate these verses from the remainder of Scripture we might get the impression that Jesus is teaching that in order to be saved one must by his own efforts overcome all of the obstacles and difficulties of the narrow way, that he must climb up to heaven by his own strength. But, of course, that is not at all what He is saying. When one enters through the narrow gate he is saved, but from there on the way will not be easy. Over and over Jesus told those who would be His disciples that they would suffer persecution and tribulation (John 16:33; Matt. 10:22; John 15:18), and the same is true in our present dispensation (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thes. 3:4). In Jesus’ day, as the opposition from the rulers mounted, it became more and more difficult to make the choice of going through the narrow gate, and the way became more and more straitened and difficult. On the other hand, it seems that the gate is so wide and the road is so broad which leads to destruction, that the unsaved are unaware of having gone through a gate. But they are aware of the bright lights and high life of Broadway, not realizing what is at the end of that road.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.

We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.



0 Dispensationalism


The Middle Galilean Period


This period of our Lord’s ministry extends from the calling of the Twelve Apostles to His withdrawal into northern Galilee. Again in this section we will notice that the order of events in Matthew differs somewhat from that in Mark and Luke. Matthew will skip from Ch. 12, where we ended the last section, to Ch. 10, and then to Ch. 5, 6, 7, then to Ch. 11 – 13, back to Ch. 8 and 9, and on to Ch. 14 and 15. Mark carries consecutively from Ch. 3:7 through 7:23. Luke likewise carries consecutively from Ch. 6:17 through 9:17. John Ch. 6 comes in at the close of the section.

1. Jesus Withdraws to the Sea of Galilee
References: Matt. 12:15-21; Mk. 3:7-12; Lk. 6:17-19

Although the Jewish leaders had been very upset over the claims of Jesus, this is the first time a council is held to find a means of destroying Him. Jesus, knowing their plot, withdrew Himself from them, but His fame was spreading so that people thronged from Jerusalem, Judea, Idumea, the areas east of Jordan, and from the seacoast to Tyre and Sidon to hear His preaching and to be healed. He tells those who were healed not to publicize Him. Matthew adds that this was done to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (42:1-4).
It would have been easy for Jesus to raise up an army in revolution against those who were plotting His death, but this was not His purpose in coming into the world. “He shall not strive, nor cry out; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench,” These words refer to the character of His first coming. But Isaiah also saw the second coming of Christ. Jesus did not act in judgment upon His enemies, but the prophecy continues, “TILL he send forth judgment unto victory, and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” When He returns, He will execute judgment upon the ungodly; He will establish His Kingdom, and in that Kingdom the Gentiles will come to Israel’s Light.

There are differences of opinion concerning the meaning of the bruised reed and smoking flax. We believe that this prophecy teaches Christ’s restraint from judgment during His ministry of grace. He withdrew in order that He might not smite them. These were His enemies. He cannot break or quench until He sends forth judgment to victory.

2. Jesus Chooses His Twelve Apostles
References: Matt. 10:1-4; Mk. 3:13-19; Lk. 6:12-19

Luke informs us that before Jesus chose the Twelve He went out into a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. Important decisions should be preceded by much prayer. Luke also tells us that He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He also named apostles. Apostle means one who is sent, an envoy, a missionary.

These twelve were entrusted with special power and authority. As we shall see later, they are to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom.
In comparing the names in the three accounts it will be seen that Matthew speaks of Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus (vs. 3), whereas Luke calls him Judas the son (not brother) of James. The second Simon is called the Canaanite by Matthew and Mark, but Luke calls him the Zealot. The A.V. incorrectly calls him a Canaanite. The Greek reads, “Cananaean.” The Zealots were a Jewish party which professed great zeal for the Law and resorted to violence in their hatred for foreigners. Simon apparently belonged to that party before becoming a disciple.

Luke tells us that Jesus came down from the mount and stood in the plain or a level place and great crowds came and were healed. There follows after this in Luke what appears to be an abbreviated form of the Sermon on the Mount. Some scholars think this discourse in Luke is separate and distinct from the Sermon on the Mount, and they call it the Sermon in the Plain. Since the two are so similar, they will be considered together under the next heading.

3. The Sermon on the Mount 

References: Matt. 5, 6, 7; Lk. 6:20-49

The Sermon on the Mount is a summary of the moral and spiritual qualifications of candidates for the Millennial Kingdom. There are certain moral and spiritual absolutes which are unchangeable and which apply equally to God’s people in all ages. Therefore, many of the principles enunciated in this Sermon are as applicable to members of the Body of Christ as they are to members of the Kingdom. But there are certain features of this Sermon which are applicable only to members of the Kingdom, and there is, therefore, need to rightly divide this portion of the Word.

The purpose of the Sermon is also to instruct the disciples how to live in view of the persecutions and tribulation which they would suffer while waiting for the actual establishment of the Kingdom. They are instructed to pray for the Kingdom to come. The Sermon was given to the disciples in the presence of a multitude. The Sermon does not present the Gospel of salvation or explain how sinners may be saved: rather, it is addressed to people who were already saved, who could call God their heavenly Father. Much confusion has come from supposing that one can become a Christian by trying to live up to the Sermon on the Mount. There is a vast difference between living in order to become a saint, and living as becometh a saint (cf. Eph. 5:1-3).

With these introductory thoughts in mind, let us examine the following ten divisions:
A. Character: Matt. 5:1-16; Lk. 6:20-26. This division deals with the character and the blessedness of the Kingdom saints. It consists of what is generally called the Beatitudes, or the pronouncement of blessedness upon the eight traits of character which are enumerated. The first is poverty of spirit, the realization of one’s moral and spiritual bankruptcy before God, which is just the opposite of pride of spirit, which characterizes the unconverted, who suppose they have such abundance of goodness in themselves that they have no need of a Savior. See the poverty of spirit of Isaiah in Ch. 6:5 of his prophecy, or that of Job in Job 42:1-6, or that of David in Ps. 51:1-5, or that of Paul in Phil. 3:7-9. Many of the parables of Jesus illustrate man’s spiritual poverty by nature, such as the two debtors of Lk. 7:42. The Kingdom of heaven, not heaven, not the Church, but the Millennial Kingdom will belong to the poor in spirit.

The second blessing is upon those that mourn. But doesn’t everyone in this world mourn at one time or another? People mourn over their losses, over their misfortunes and reverses, but all such mourning is based upon selfishness. Jesus mourned and wept over Jerusalem, over the suffering and injustice in society, over man’s sinfulness and hardness of heart. This is the kind of mourning which we believe is meant here. And the promise is that all such will be comforted. There is comfort in knowing that some day God will put down everything that offends and the promise of comfort in this verse will be realized in the sabbath-rest of that glorious Kingdom.

Thirdly, there is blessing upon the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Meekness is not weakness. It is humility, submissiveness to God, mildness, gentleness. Whereas the word “meek” appears but three times in the Gospels, once in this beatitude and twice in reference to Christ, Paul admonishes meekness in the members of the Body of Christ nine times (1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:23; 6:1; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:25; Tit. 3:2). This meekness is not a product of human nature: it is the fruit of the Spirit. Paul would surely pronounce blessedness upon the meek also, but he never promises that because of their meekness they will inherit the earth. This earthly inheritance belongs to Israel’s Kingdom saints. The Church’s inheritance is heavenly. It is only in a secondary sense that members of the Church as joint-heirs with Christ will share in all that is His, which includes the redeemed earth.

Another characteristic for which there is blessedness is a hunger and thirst for righteousness. There is the imputed righteousness of God which is given as a free gift to all who believe as a result of justification by faith, and there is an imparted and inwrought righteousness of character which is the product of the burning desire for likeness to God. If there is a desire, a hungering and thirsting to be like Christ, God will satisfy that longing.

The fifth beatitude is upon the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. It is because God is rich in mercy that anyone is saved (Eph. 2:4). Mercy emphasizes the misery with which grace deals. Bengel remarks: “Grace takes away the fault, mercy the misery.” God desires mercy more than sacrifice (Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6- 8). The wise man of old had observed that “the merciful man doeth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh” (Prov. 11:17).

The pure in heart are singled out next, for they shall see God. There were many ceremonial purifications practiced in the Old Testament, which touched only the flesh, the outward man, but they were all typical of the inward purification which is now wrought by the Spirit of God in those that believe. Paul, in speaking of that work of God states: “Our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works” (Tit. 2: 14). Paul speaks also of purity of heart and purity of conscience.

Next, there is blessedness for peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Again, Paul has much to say about this subject. He says, “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15). “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). “And be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thes. 5: 13). “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Does this mean that all of those at the United Nations should be called the children of God? Are they not supposed to be there to bring about world peace? It should be evident to any unbiased observer that each of the nations represented in that body are there to keep peace only if it results in benefits to its own selfish interests. God and the peace of God are foreign to all of their undertakings. The peacemakers of our text are children of God.

We have purposely emphasized the fact that all eight of these character traits for the Kingdom saints are to be found in greater degree even in the Pauline writings to members of the Body of Christ, for the reason that charges are often made that a dispensational approach robs the believer of the truth in the Sermon on the Mount. If there is any dispensational difference, it is that in the full blaze of revelation in the Pauline epistles, we in this dispensation are under greater obligation to manifest these godly traits of character than were the people of Jesus’ day. As we have seen, there are dispensational differences between promises made to the Kingdom saints and the Body saints, and as we shall see there is progressive revelation which produces changes, but there are other things which never change.

Finally there is blessedness for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Peter has a wonderful commentary on this passage:

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy (blessed) are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4: 12-16).

The beatitudes conclude with two brief parables, that of the salt and the candle. Salt is a seasoning and a preservative. Light dispels darkness. The disciples were to be both the Light of the world and the Salt of the earth. Salt is needed where there is corruption, and Light where there is darkness. These two parables teach that the main work of the disciples was to influence for good those round about them. Salt that has lost its saltiness and a candle that is placed under a bushel are worthless: neither can fulfill its intended function. These principles are as valid today as they will be for Israel in the coming tribulation. (Col. 4:6).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.
We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.



0 Dispensationalism



John alone gives us the record of this period of our Lord’s ministry. After His brief stay in Capernaum Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. When He entered the Temple He found stalls set up for selling sheep and oxen and doves and money changers doing business. Making a whip out of rope, He drove them all out of the temple, the animals as well as the dealers, and overturned the tables of the money changers along with their coins, and cried out to them: “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Whereupon the Jews asked Jesus for a sign which would give Him authority to do such things. The sign He gave was: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews reasoned that it had taken 46 years to build the temple: how then could He raise it up in three days. After the death and resurrection of Jesus the disciples remembered this saying of Jesus and understood that He was talking about the raising up of His body from the dead: not the temple of Herod.

Beholding the signs which Jesus did, many in Jerusalem believed on His name, but He did not trust Himself unto them, for He knew all men and what was in man. There was a particular man by the name of Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews who came to Jesus by night, confessing that Jesus was a teacher coming from God, since no man could do the signs that Jesus did except God be with Him. Jesus immediately got down to basics and told him he had to be born again of the Spirit of God in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus seemed incapable of understanding spiritual truths. He replied: “How can these things be?” The discourse ended with a reference to the brazen serpent which Moses set up, and the familiar John 3:16, “God so loved the world,” and the conflict between light and darkness.

After this Jesus left Jerusalem and went to the northern area of Judea with His disciples, where John was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim. A discussion arose about baptism, during which a man came with a report that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than John, which gave John the opportunity to give another witness about Jesus.

When Jesus knew that the Pharisees had heard that He was making more disciples than John He left Judea and headed north for Galilee. To get to Galilee He had to go through Samaria and there He encountered the woman at the well. Through her conversion the whole city of Sychar turned out and many believed on His name, not because of the woman’s words, but because they heard Him personally and were persuaded that this is indeed the Savior of the world.


1. The First Passover and Cleansing of the Temple
(Reference: John 2:13-23)

The First Passover of His Ministry. As far as the Biblical record goes, this is the first Passover Jesus attended since He was 12 years old. We are certain that He must have attended others, since Joseph and Mary are said to have gone to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. All Jews everywhere tried to get back to Jerusalem for this important feast. Jesus, however, did not assert His authority until He became of age and began His public ministry. The Passover is mentioned 9 times in John (2:13,23; 6:4; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28,39; 19:14). Thus, Jesus observed three Passovers during His ministry: this one, one in the middle; and one at the very end of His ministry. It is significant that He began and ended with the Passover, for He was to fulfill the Passover type, and thus become our Passover (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7).

A. Cleansing the Temple. In spite of the fact that the Jews had made the Temple a den of thieves, Jesus still recognized it as His Father’s house. The original temple built by Solomon had been utterly destroyed by the Babylonians. It was rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah, but with much less grandeur (Hag. 2:3). Finally, Herod became King in Jerusalem in 37 B.C. He decided to rebuild the temple, and first collected all of the materials before dismantling the old one. The new building was started 20 – 19 B.C. The disciples later on must have been impressed by the grandeur of the temple, for they undertook to show off the buildings of the temple to Jesus (Matt. 24:1,2), but He foretold how this beautiful structure would also be destroyed and left desolate because Jerusalem did not know the time of her visitation.

This action of Jesus of driving out the merchants and money changers and overturning their tables seems out of character for those who think only of Jesus as “meek and mild.” What will they think when they see Him coming in flaming fire to take vengeance upon those that know not God and obey not the Gospel? God’s attributes of love and mercy are balanced against His attributes of holiness and justice.

B. The Sign of His Resurrection. When the Jews asked for a sign of His authority He replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” There were many things which Jesus said which the disciples did not at the time understand, but later, after they had received the Holy Spirit they remembered the sayings and understood. Here they understood He was speaking of His human body. The Jews remembered this saying too and perverted it and tried to use it against Him at His trial (Matt. 26:61). The disciples remembered it and were profited by it: they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

C. Incomplete Faith. The people believed in His name when they saw the miracles He did. This kind of belief is inadequate and does not result in salvation. The word “believe” has in it the idea of commitment. The statement in vs. 24, “Jesus did not commit himself unto these believers,” contains the same Greek word used in vs. 23 and translated “believed” but here translated “commit.” Scriptural belief involves the element of committal, entrusting one’s self to God. To see a miracle worker and believe he has divine powers involved no sense of acknowledging one’s own sin and no element of committal. This fact is born out in the next section which deals with one of these men who had seen Jesus’ miracles and believed because of the miracles. Belief even caused him to seek out Jesus by night, apparently to avoid detection by other Jews, but Nicodemus was not saved by this kind of believing.

2. Discourse With Nicodemus
(Reference: John 2:23-3:21)

A. What Was in Man. Jesus knew what was in man. We can tell that from the way He dealt with Nicodemus. We don’t know why Nicodemus came to Jesus that night. As a ruler of the Jews he was surely interested in any religious developments. Perhaps he just wanted to check up on Jesus. Perhaps he had some questions. Perhaps he wanted to know how Jesus performed His miracles. Or perhaps it was just plain curiosity. It does not seem he was driven to Jesus by a sense of lostness, or by a desire to improve his relationship with God. As a Pharisee he would boast of being better than other men, of keeping the law in a blameless fashion. He was probably much like Saul of Tarsus, as Paul describes his situation before he met Christ (cf. Phil. 3:4-6). But Jesus knew what was in Nicodemus. Later on in some of His teaching He tells us what is in man. He knew that within every man is a nature of sin. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things that defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matt. 15:19,20). Nicodemus got something that night he was not looking for.

B. What Christ Came to Put In Man. Jesus knew that Nicodemus needed not more religion but a new birth, which would give him a new nature. He needed to be born again. This was something that he couldn’t understand, for this was foreign to his way of thinking. What ridiculous ideas this Jesus had. How could a man enter into his mother’s womb and be born again? Jesus has to explain the most elementary truths to this one who was a notable teacher in Israel.

The flesh and the Spirit are two separate realms. That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is Spirit. The flesh cannot evolve into spirit any more than a rock can evolve into an animal. A man must have spiritual life to enter God’s kingdom; therefore, Nicodemus, you must be born of the Spirit. But Nicodemus wants to know how can these things be? Jesus used an illustration from the wind. The word wind and the word spirit are identical. When the wind blows, you can hear the sound it makes but you can’t tell where it came from and where it is going because it is invisible. So also is the Spirit. You can’t see how the Spirit operates any more than you can see how the wind blows. But you can see the effects of both the wind and the Spirit. The Spirit imparts new life and brings forth fruit of God. The song writer probably had this passage in mind when he wrote: “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him; but I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

Three times Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again, but the second time He added something. He said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.. .” What does He mean by being born of water? Is this something different from just being born of the Spirit? Sacramentarians argue from this verse baptismal regeneration. Inserting such an argument in this context seems strange indeed, for if Jesus is saying anything at all He is saying that the physical, material world cannot in any way produce this new birth. How then could material water which can be seen, felt, and analyzed produce spiritual life?
Others take the water to be the water in which the fetus lives in its mother’s womb and therefore being born of water refers to our natural birth. The Living New Testament gives this as an alternate reading: “Physical birth is not enough. You must also be born spiritually.” We seriously doubt that Scripture ever uses water with this meaning. But the Scripture, and especially the Gospel of John, does often use water in a figurative sense. What did Christ mean when He told the woman at the well He would give her living water (John 4:10-14)? Or what did He mean by the rivers of living water which would flow out of man (ch. 7:38)?

In the very next verse John plainly states what He meant by water: “But this he spake of the Spirit.” Water and Spirit are both without the definite article and are connected by the conjunction “kai” (and). If this figure is used here the sense would be: Except a man be born of water, even spiritual water.

Water is also used to represent the operation of the Word of God, as in Eph. 5:26: “cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” And Peter speaks of being born again, not of corruptible seed, but by the Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23). Therefore, we prefer to believe this is the correct meaning of this passage. It is true that water baptism was being preached and practiced both by John and Jesus, and that baptism was required, just as animal sacrifices were, but water is never presented as a procuring cause of regeneration in Scripture. If the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin and make one a member of God’s family, surely water could not do so.

Nicodemus started out by telling Jesus what he knew, and Jesus ended up telling Nicodemus he was ignorant: “Are you a master teacher in Israel and knowest not these things?” If Nicodemus didn’t believe the earthly things Jesus told him, how could he believe the heavenly things? Jesus knew whereof He spoke, for He had come down from heaven. (Some ancient Greek texts omit the last clause of vs. 13, “which is in heaven .”) Jesus at that time as the Son of man was not in heaven but on earth. As God, of course, He is omnipresent.

Not only was it necessary for Nicodemus to be born again, it was necessary for the Son of man to be lifted up on the Cross to make it possible for man to be born again. The Lord had sent fiery serpents into the camp of Israel because of their murmurings and many died from being bitten (Num. 21:6-9). Moses was commanded to make a serpent of brass and place it upon a pole. Every one that looked upon it was healed of his bite. In like manner Jesus had to be lifted up on the Cross, to be made the condemned serpent in our stead, that condemned sinners might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

From the illustration of the brazen serpent it is certain that the expression in the next verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,” refers to giving Him in the sense of the Cross, and not merely in incarnation as a Teacher. Because the verb here is in the past tense, indicating a finished past action, it appears that the discourse with Nicodemus ends with vs. 15, if not sooner. Not only are “loved” and “gave” in the past tense, but there are a couple of phrases in vs. 16 that are never used by Christ Himself, “only begotten Son,” and “believe on the name of.” John has a way of injecting explanatory words of his own, so that it is sometimes difficult to know where a break should be made. For example, see ch. 1:16-18 and 12:37-41.

The words “condemn” and “condemned” in vs. 17 and 18, and “condemnation” in vs. 19, should be rendered “judge, judged, and judgment.” The unbeliever has been judged already: judged by virtue of his unbelief. Their judgment resides in the fact that light has come into the world, and men as a class loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were (imperfect tense) habitually evil.

We are beginning to see several of the most important and most often used words’ in John: “believe” – 99 times, “world” – 79 times, “Father” – 156 times, “know” – 107 times, “abide” – 41 times.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)