Thursday, April 29, 2010


This post will continue identifying other names used for angels in scripture.

“sons of God” - I gave a bit of attention to this phrase in my study of Genesis regarding the “sons of God” that chose to procreate with the daughters of men and whose offspring became giants (fallen ones), mighty men of renown.

Genesis 6:1–4 “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

Though many deny this interpretation, I think it is the only reasonable interpretation since there is no reasonable explanation for normal procreation between human men and women to produce children that were so distinct from their peers. I believe Jude makes reference to these rebellious angels in his letter.

Jude 1:6–7 “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Jude is making reference to angels who left their own habitation and went after “strange flesh.” The Greek for strange makes reference to flesh that is different from their own.

The first chapter of Job also gives support to the term "sons of God" referencing angels.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

It would seem that there is a time of discussion in heaven between God and His angels regarding their interactions with men. The writer of Hebrews tells us that they were created as “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14) Satan evidently continues to present himself on these occasions to “accuse the brethren,” as stated by John in Revelation 12:10 and as the story of Job so vividly pictures.

Not until the New Testament is the phrase “sons of God” applied to men in reference to those who believe on Jesus for their salvation. I think it was Chuck Missler that I heard give a very reasonable explanation regarding the term “sons of God” referencing direct creations of God. It wasn’t until New Testament times that men could become a “new creation” in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Job also refers to the sons of God as witnessing the creation of the earth; this would also support this term as a reference to angels.

Job 38:4–7 “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

The verse in Job above also connects the “sons of God” with the “morning stars.” There are other places in scripture that reference angels as stars.

Revelation 9:1 “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.”

This “star” is obviously making reference to a heavenly being.

Revelation 12:3–4, 9 “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born…. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

This section from Revelation specifically connects “the third part of the stars of heaven” to the devil’s angels that were cast out of heaven with him.

Monday, April 26, 2010


In this post we will continue identifying other references to “angels” in scripture.

Seraphims – Only in Isaiah’s vision of God on His throne does scripture make reference to seraphim.

Isaiah 6:1–7 “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”

Not much is given to allow us to make comparison to the cherubim. We know that they stood above the throne and have six wings. Ezekiel described the cherubim as having four wings.

Ezekiel 1:6 “And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.”

If there is a distinction to be made between the seraphim and the cherubim, I think we could say that their focus is on praising God’s holiness and signifying the importance of holiness in God’s presence. The cherubim seem to have more extensive responsibilities in connection with events on earth.

hosts (of LORD/God; of heaven) – This term is first associated with angels in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 32:1–2 “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host….”

The term is also used specifically of angels in conjunction with the announcement of the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2:10–14 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

It is most often used in reference to the armies of the Lord—both in heaven and on earth.

Psalms 24:8–10 “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.”

I think the following verses are definitely referring to the angels.

1 Kings 22:19 “And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.”

1 Chronicles 12:22 “For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.”

Psalms 103:20–21 “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.”

Psalms 148:2 “Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.”

The term saints is also used to describe the armies of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 33:2 “And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”

Jude 1:14–15 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

The following verses connect the saints mentioned above to the angels.

Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”

2 Thessalonians 1:7–8 “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

The angels are also depicted in battle as an army of chariots.

2 Kings 6:17 “And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

Psalms 68:17 “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.”

Isaiah 66:15–16 “For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.”

Friday, April 23, 2010


In this post we will begin to identify other references to “angels” in scripture.

Cherubims – These angels are first mentioned in connection with guarding the way to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were made to leave the Garden in consequence of their disobedience to God.

Genesis 3:24 “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Scripture indicates that Satan was created a cherub.

Ezekiel 28:12–14 “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth….”

Though these verses from Ezekiel are addressed to the King of Tyre, the context makes it clear that the address is to the evil spirit behind the king—a spirit that is identified as having been in the Garden of Eden. Satan is the only logical conclusion in my opinion.

The cherubim are almost always depicted as surrounding the throne of God. Cherubim are prominently depicted in the patterns given to both Moses and David regarding the tabernacle and temple respectively, designated as God’s dwelling place on earth. I believe the mercy seat on the ark was intended to represent God’s throne.

Exodus 25:8-9, 18–20 “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it….And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.”

1 Chronicles 28:18–19 “And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the LORD. All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.

The people of Israel often identified the LORD as "He that dwells between the cherubims."

1 Samuel 4:4 “So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.”

2 Kings 19:15 “And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.”

Ezekiel’s vision was very detailed in describing the ministry of the cherubim, also called living creatures, in association with the throne of God.

Ezekiel 1:3–5 “The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.”

Ezekiel 1:26–28 “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”

Ezekiel 10:1–2 “Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight…. This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.”

I am pretty convinced that these are same beings referenced as the “four beasts around the throne” referenced by John in the book of Revelation since the description is so similar to Ezekiel’s vision.

Ezekiel 10:12–14 “And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had. As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel. And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.”

Revelation 4:6–7 “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


As I began to ponder what to cover next in this blog, my thoughts began to turn more and more to how God reveals in scripture the role that angels have in accomplishing His purposes. They are especially prominent in the passages dealing with end times prophecy.

I usually post ahead on this blog, but there are only two posts remaining; so I have decided to just take you along on my journey as I search the scripture to learn more about angels and the part they have had and continue to play in bringing about God’s plan for man. This means that I have no plan or outline in place. I am going to share with you as I gather information and, hopefully, put it together as a coherent whole in the end.

There are two main words translated angel in scripture—“malak” in the Hebrew Old Testament and “aggelos” in the Greek New Testament.

4397. mal ak, mal-awk´; from an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically, of God, i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher):—ambassador, angel, king, messenger.

32. aggelos, ang´-el-os; from aggello (to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an “angel”; by implication, a pastor:—angel, messenger.

Both words clearly indicate that their primary role is that of a messenger and a perusal of the context of their use in scripture clearly identify them as messengers of God. The word angel is used more often in reference to supernatural beings, but the term is also sometimes applied to human messengers. Many examples come quickly to mind of angels communicating messages from God to humans.
• to Lot regarding Sodom and Gomorrah
• to Daniel regarding enlightenment of his dreams
• to Zechariah regarding the birth of John the Baptist
• to Mary regarding the birth of Jesus
• to the shepherds in announcing the birth of Jesus
• to Peter in releasing him from prison

Scripture is also clear in identifying some angels as holy and some as evil.

Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”

Psalms 78:49 “He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.”

Holy angels are dedicated to serving God and ministering to those who trust in God. Evil angels have given their allegiance to Satan and are dedicated to attacking the faith of those who have declared allegiance to God. Scripture is clear, however, in declaring God’s sovereignty over all the angelic creation.

Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

Hebrews 1:13–14 “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

1 Peter 5:8–9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

In the next post we will begin looking at some of the names used in scripture in reference to angels.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

“The Lord Be With You”

2Thessalonians 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

Every time I read this verse I’m looking for the rest of it as stated in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

The context of the instruction to the Galatians was a bit different; Paul was addressing the benefits that would result from spiritual activities vs. fleshly activities. The context of this passage is the natural responsibility to provide for one’s personal needs. We are not to neglect the responsibilities of this life. The obvious consequence should be that you will suffer because of your own neglect or inaction.

2Thessalonians 3:14-15 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Paul now instructs that any person who does not heed the instructions given in this letter should be “noted”; the Greek indicates “marked for avoidance.” The reason for avoiding fellowship with that person is to make him realize his wrongdoing in hopes that he will respond with repentance and right action. The purpose isn’t to brand that brother or sister as an enemy, but to gently reprove someone you care about.

2Thessalonians 3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

As usual, Paul closes by pronouncing a blessing of God’s peace upon the church at Thessalonica. This blessing is worded such as to recognize the Lord as the source of peace. His peace is to be desired at all times and can be shared with His people in many ways. The peace of God is always available to the child of God according to His word. This gives me another opportunity to use my life verse.

Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

The key to possessing the peace of God is to keep your heart focused on God—to keep Him at the center of everything you do. The Greek references “quietness” and “rest” regarding peace. This is a good description of the spirit within us when we are focused on God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness in spite of the turmoil or trouble that may surround us.

2Thessalonians 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

Paul affirms that this letter is from him by signing it personally. He declares that this will always be true of any letter that is written by him. (This would seem to refute the possibility of Paul as the author of Hebrews unless it was written prior to this practice.)

2Thessalonians 3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens.

Also as usual, Paul pronounces a blessing for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be with this church. All believers desire the continued blessing of God’s unmerited favor. It is God’s grace that keeps us from giving up and motivates us to try and try again. As I was looking for a fresh thought in association with God’s grace, I did a word search and found this verse in the Psalms.

Psalm 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

God’s grace is connected to everything that is good in the lives of His children, and He has promised to withhold nothing good from those of His children who walk uprightly (according to His truth)—and only He knows what is truly “good” for us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can You Say, “Do As I Do?”

2Thessalonians 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.

Paul was convinced that the Thessalonian believers would keep on living according to the truth of God’s word in which they had been instructed. His confidence was not in the people themselves, but (based on the above verse) was based on the truth of God’s working in them through the Holy Spirit.

2Thessalonians 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Even as Paul is sure of the position of the believers in Christ, his prayer is that they will be guided into actions that show the love of God and that reflect a cheerful spirit as they wait on Christ’s return to take them home. Paul reflects the heart of a true brother or sister. He wants to see these brothers and sisters in the faith continue to grow in that faith and experience the fullness of that faith.

2Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

Paul identifies this next statement as a command authorized by the Lord Jesus Christ. The believers are instructed to “abstain from associating with” (from the Greek for withdraw) a brother or sister that acts disorderly (not according to proper morals, insubordinate). Most of the translations insert the idea of idleness with walking disorderly. This doesn’t come from the Greek for this word, but is a correct thought from the context of the following verses. The word for tradition is a reference to “precept” or “command regarding moral conduct” as used in chapter 2, verse 15. It is a reference to the teaching of God’s truth.

2Thessalonians 3:7-8 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

Again, Paul is not afraid to declare himself, Silas and Timothy as examples worthy of imitating. They had set an example of hard work to support themselves even as they ministered at Thessalonica. They did not depend on the support of others.

2Thessalonians 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

As ministers of the gospel, Paul states that the privilege of support was proper for them to expect, but they were more concerned with setting the right example before the new believers than in benefiting from their position. I believe that heart is sadly lacking in many ministries today. In fact, I am afraid that many people today go into the ministry as a means to an end (to fleece the flock) rather than as a response to the call of God.

2Thessalonians 3:10-11 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

Evidently, the tendency to laziness was evident in the community of believers even when Paul was first among them. It had required a special instruction that those who did not contribute to the work should not be allowed to eat. This seems an odd command to have to make to me. Were the people willingly supporting those who refused to support themselves and continually meddled in other people’s business? Frankly, when I looked up the Greek, I expected to see some reference to their partaking of the Lord’s Supper or special feast days or something; but there was no specific reference. Those are group settings in which it would be easier for “lazy” brothers and sisters to take advantage of the efforts of others. I can’t imagine showing up at another brother or sister’s home expecting to be fed just because I am part of the family. Evidently, there were some such people in the community of believers at Thessalonica.

Some commentators try to explain the idleness of these people as a response to expecting the return of the Lord at any moment. Jesus presented a specific teaching in response to the thoughts of His followers that the kingdom of God would soon appear. The thrust of the teaching was that we are to be busy with the work at hand until He comes.

Luke 19:11-13 “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.”

2Thessalonians 3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

“them that are such” = those who are disorderly (lazy, idle) and busybodies (meddling in other people’s business)

Paul is commanding and imploring the believers who fall into the above category on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to get busy and provide for their own needs. It would seem that Paul is stating a command from the Lord and adding the thought of pleading with them as a fellow believer. The instruction to work in quietness is a direct rebuke to being busybodies.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Lord is Faithful

2Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

As Paul begins to close this letter, he asks for prayer for himself, Silas and Timothy. The phrase “may have free course” is represented by one word in the Greek, which means “to run or walk hastily.” Paul, like any preacher, wants to see immediate results in the teaching of God’s word. For the word to be glorified or honored would mean that it is being readily received by the people. Paul compares his request to one of desire that the word of the Lord would produce results in other cities that were comparable to the response in Thessalonica.

Paul and his coworkers were evidently getting opposed and harassed by men who were determined to prevent other people from hearing the good news and accepting Christ as Savior using whatever means necessary—even if it resulted in physical harm to those involved.

Paul has a basic black and white viewpoint (which I have been accused of more often than not). The wickedness of men is prevalent among those who do not accept Christ. Men of faith would never choose to force their views upon others by causing physical harm. That mindset certainly casts a terrible shadow on much of church history. I personally believe there has been much done by many throughout history who profess faith in God that belies a true faith. Thankfully, that judgment will be made by Jesus, the Righteous Judge, whose judgment can never be questioned.

John 5:22 “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son….”

Psalm 96:13 “Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.”

2Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

This verse starts with a very important truth—The Lord is completely trustworthy. We never have to wonder if He will keep His word, that there is a chance that He might possibly forget, that He will change His character. He never changes; He is always the same.

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

Because of God’s faithfulness, the believer can be confident that:

• God will stablish you. – The Greek for stablish states “to set fast, i.e. (literally) to turn resolutely in a certain direction.” This is just another of many statements that affirm to me the security of the believer. It is God’s work in us that keeps us secure; we have nothing to do with the work of salvation. Our only participation in the work of salvation is to accept the gift by responding in faith and repentance to the provision God has made for us through His Son.

• God will keep you from evil. – The Greek for evil states “hurtful, i.e. evil (properly, in effect or influence, and thus differing from 2556, which refers rather to essential character, as well as from 4550, which indicates degeneracy from original virtue).” This phrase made me stop and really think. We know that Christians sin. We know that Christians have “evil” things happen to them. I think the key is found in the Greek. God will protect His children from the hurtful effects or influence of the forces of evil. When the child of God sins, he/she is blessed with a convicting conscience through the Holy Spirit; he/she will experience chastening from the Lord as a result of that sin.

Hebrews 12:6 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”

When the child of God is physically harmed by evil forces, the scripture tells us that that experience will result in “good” according to God’s word.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

When we become a child of God, we are made the “righteousness of God in Christ.”

2Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

God will not allow the character of His child to degenerate so as to be devoid of that righteousness. I know that there will be some who will not agree with me on that point, but I believe the scripture supports its truth. The believer may fall down along the way in his/her walk, but never beyond the point of rescue and recovery. Scripture is clear that our works and our continuance in the faith are proofs of that faith, and, thankfully, the Righteous Judge will make the final determination.

James 2:17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

1John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

Scripture is full of examples of the failures of men of faith and of their response to the Lord in repentance and restoration. I don’t know of one example in scripture that depicts a person of faith showing an eventual total rejection of that faith. Even Saul and Lot, who are the closest examples I can think of I believe died as men of faith. When Saul visited the witch of Endor and was allowed to speak with Samuel (who was already in Paradise, the temporary place of abode of people of faith before the resurrection and ascension of Jesus), Samuel told Saul, “to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.” (1Samuel 28:19) Even though we aren’t given great evidence, scripture states clearly that Lot was a righteous man.

2Peter 2:7-8 “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grace, Hope & Comfort

2Thessalonians 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

This verse begins with a distinct reference to both Jesus the Son and God the Father. Both are identified as beings with whom they are personally connected—to Jesus as Lord and Messiah (Savior) and God as Father. Three things are emphasized as part of that relationship.

• We are recipients of their love. – This is such the predominant characteristic of God that the scripture defines Him as love. The scripture also tells us that this love is “in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Greek word for love used here is the one that references unconditional love.

1John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

Romans 8:39 “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

• They are our source of “everlasting consolation.” – Webster gives more insight on this blessing. Consolation is defined as “allevation of misery or distress of mind; refreshment of spirit; comfort.” As His child, we will experience a refreshing of the spirit as part of His comfort; it will be more than a reminder of His promises, it will be a comfort that restores our strength and our spirit. This consolation is referenced as an everlasting blessing, which I think we tend to associate more with heaven/eternity. The truth we need to grasp is that this blessing is available to us now.

• They are our source of “good hope.” – This is a reference to the “confident expectation/anticipation” of the believer regarding living in the presence of God for eternity. It is this hope that keeps us motivated day in and day out as we make our pilgrimage through this lifetime. It is this hope that helps us keep a perspective on priorities. We are to be storing up treasures in heaven.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

How do we establish a relationship that blesses us so wonderfully? Through the grace of God. Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor.” I think this is brought out more clearly in the Greek definition for this word: “especially the divine influence upon the heart.” In his letter to the Ephesians Paul words it this way.

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God….”
The beautiful truth is that God loves us so much that He is the initiator, the giver and the preserver of our salvation. He does all the work. We just have to receive the gift.

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

2Thessalonians 2:17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

The truth of this whole epistle and especially the truth of the previous verse should both comfort their hearts (includes thoughts and feelings) and strengthen their faith so that it is reflected in both in what they say and what they do. I think it is also significant to note that whatever we say or do as believers that is a result of strong faith should qualify as good/beneficial.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Choose to Believe and Stand Fast in Your Faith

2Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul and his coworkers are ever in a position of thankfulness to the Lord for this body of believers in Thessalonica. As believers, we are privileged to experience the unconditional love of God.

“from the beginning” - Some translations make this phrase a reference the Thessalonian believers as among the firstfruits of those who would turn to God in faith in Jesus. It is true that they form a part of the early church. I believe, however, that this is a reference to the truth stated in Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love….”

God knew, before ever creating the first thing, every individual who would come to Him in faith. Those beings are those whom He has rescued from the penalty of sin. He has purified this body of believers through the ministry of the Holy Spirit because of their trust in His truth and in His Truth—His Word and His Son, Jesus, Who embodies truth. It’s worth emphasizing again that this is the truth declared by the Lord Jesus.

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life….”

“Whereunto” = indicating the point reached or entered
This is a reference to our salvation through faith.

These believers responded in faith to the gospel, the good message, preached by Paul, Silas and Timothy. Paul identified the gospel as “ours” because it becomes a personal possession of every believer. Every person that responds in faith to the gospel brings glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe this was the prevalent truth in the mind of Paul; he was thrilled to be a vessel of service that resulted in bringing glory to His Savior. Most of the translations focus on the truth that salvation will result in the believer getting to share the glory of Jesus. Both are truths expressed by the Savior in one of His last prayers to the Father before His crucifixion.

John 17:22 “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one….”

John 17:24 “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

2Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

“Therefore” – Because you are a child of God by faith who has been chosen to be rescued from God’s wrath and share in His glory…..

“brethren” – Paul never tires of associating with the body of believers as part of his family.

“stand fast” = persevere, continue, abide

“traditions” = transmission, i.e. (concretely) a precept; specially, the Jewish traditionary law

I think we have to remind ourselves that Paul is writing a body of believers that is primarily Gentile according to my reading of Acts 17. It would seem that “precept” would have been a better translation than tradition. Paul is saying that they should persevere in and keep hold of the precepts (instructions) that they had been taught both in person as well as in writing by Paul and his coworkers. I don’t think you can connect this statement to “Jewish traditions” and stay in context. The context is a reference to what they have been taught through the presentation of the gospel message and the truth of the Old Testament scripture.

A former Catholic friend once informed me of how the Catholics take this verse out of context to support their teaching of following the dictates of the Pope. We are never to accept the teaching of men or traditions when they add to, subtract from, or go against the word of God as revealed in scripture.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Antichrist Revealed

2Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Only when the restraining power of the Holy Spirit as embodied in the church, the body of believers is removed, will “that Wicked,” the man of sin, be revealed. The Greek for the word revealed states “to take off the cover, disclose.” In other words, Satan won’t have to work behind the scenes any more. He’ll be granted public fullness of his powers during the time of the day of the Lord. Even though he is going to be granted his limited reign of terror, Paul makes it clear that the Lord will:

• Consume him with the spirit of his mouth. – The Greek for consume is a reference to the destruction of the man of sin when Jesus speaks the word when He returns as King of kings.

• Destroy him with the brightness of His coming. – The Greek for destroy is a reference to making the power behind the man, Satan, of no effect and putting him out of the picture; he will be made to vanish (from the Greek) when he is bound for the 1000 year period of Christ’s rule on planet earth before all judgment is finally declared and eternity begins. The Greek for brightness is a reference to manifestation; in other words, it is the physical appearance of the Lord Jesus that will result in the destruction of Antichrist and his power.

2Thessalonians 2:9-10 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Paul goes on to affirm that the man of sin will be operating under the empowerment of Satan (as established in the comments on v3-4 above). The things that he is able to do will involve miracles of obvious supernatural power (as described in the book of Job) as well as deceitful wonders (i.e., like a very adept magician).

I like the wording of the CJB for verse 10: “He will enable him to deceive, in all kinds of wicked ways, those who are headed for destruction because they would not receive the love of the truth that could have saved them.”

The wording is clear that the reference is to those who are perishing and have chosen to reject the gospel message; they have rejected God’s revelation of truth. The wording is interesting because scripture tells us that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). These people have rejected “the love of the Truth,” which I think we can truthfully read as a statement of their rejecting the love of Jesus. Had they accepted His gift of love, they could have been saved and headed for an eternity with Jesus rather than perishing and headed for an eternity without Him.

2Thessalonians 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

These are very powerful, frightening verses. As I read them in context, the reference is to those who have “received not the love of the truth,” those who are identified as perishing. God is going to send “effective deceit” (from the Greek for “strong delusion”); in other words, those who have rejected the Lord Jesus (which means that they have had an opportunity to receive Him and have refused it), will find the deceit of the Antichrist to be so effective that they will believe it. Even though Antichrist is working through the empowerment of Satan, we know that God has granted Satan power and authority according to God’s own purposes in bringing all to pass according as He has determined from the foundation of the world. Verse 12 emphasizes that ALL will be damned who rejected God’s truth and accepted/approved unrighteousness/wickedness. Reminder—this is speaking of those who have been left to go through the time of God’s wrath, the day of Christ, the day of the Lord.

I haven’t heard this point emphasized or taught (at least in my memory bank). Even the popular “Left Behind” series does not embrace this truth. We know that scripture teaches that many will come to know the Lord during this terrible period of time, but, according to my understanding, that group of believers will come from those who have not yet had the opportunity of hearing a clear presentation of the message of salvation. I have talked to many who have told me that they’ll make sure they get right with God if we disappear and they find themselves in the “tribulation.” If I understand these verses correctly, those who have told me that will not have that opportunity. They will already have chosen to reject the truth.