What Does “Your Name” Mean in the Bible?

Is the Bible true? Are Bible translations bad? What language is the Bible?

The Bible talks a lot about names. In the NIV, the Hebrew and Greek words for “name” appear 944 times. That’s a bunch!

I get a lot of questions about Bible names. Many people are confused about how “name” is used in the Bible. It’s used in more than one way, so some explanation would be helpful. The simplest way the Bible uses “name” is like this:

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. (Genesis 29:16)

Everybody understands this. Everybody has a name. The word is used in other ways, which causes some confusion…like this:

There Abram called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 13:4

This doesn’t mean that Abram knew God’s name, and called Him by that name. Nobody knows whether God has a name, let alone what that name might be. Now, it’s important to avoid thinking about the Bible in strictly 21st-century terms. To understand what phrases like “the name of the Lord” mean, we have to learn what the authors meant when they wrote them.

The Hebrew word for name is shem. It can mean a name, like Bob or Dave or Melissa. It can also be used to talk about a memorial, or a monument, and it can also be used to talk about a person’s reputation, fame, or glory. This is the part that confuses some people. A lot of people have written to me over the years, suggesting that God’s name is important. They want to know God’s name, or how to pronounce God’s name, or why English-speaking Christians say “Jesus” rather than Yeshua or Yehoshua. They say things like, “Jesus’ name has power” or “Praying in Jesus’ name means your prayer will be answered.”

There’s nothing special, or spiritually meaningful, about speaking someone’s name out loud. There’s no reason to worry about whether you’re saying it exactly right. We don’t need to only talk about the Son of God by using His Hebrew name. This kind of thinking turns Christianity into some kind of system of magic, or superstition…if you say it wrong, you get the wrong result. That’s nonsense.

When we pray in Jesus’ name, we’re not invoking some spiritual power by saying it out loud. Instead, we’re calling on God to help us based on Jesus’ reputation…His character, and our relationship with Him. There’s no power in speaking the sounds “gee” and “zuss” together, like an incantation. We’re saying that we belong to Jesus, and we’re asking for help based not on our own authority, but on Jesus’ authority. It’s not our reputation that we talk about, but His.

An example would help here. When a police officer comes to a house to arrest a criminal, they may knock on the door and say something like, “Open up, in the name of the law.” They’re not saying that someone should open the door for Bob, or Dave, or Melissa…as if they have any authority of their own. Instead, they’re saying that their authority comes from the law of the land. They come “in the name of the law” in the same way that we pray in Jesus’ name: we have no authority of our own. Jesus has all authority (Matthew 28:18), and when we pray, we’re to pray as He instructed.

God made a promise to Abraham. Here’s what He said:

I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.

When God said that He would make Abraham’s name great, He meant that Abraham would be famous, that he would have a great reputation, and that he would gain glory because he would be used by God in important ways. That’s what the Bible means when it talks about the name of the Lord. Not that His name is Bob, or Dave, or Melissa…but that He is great, and powerful, and good. When Abram called on the name of the Lord, He was relying on God’s reputation, believing in God’s character, and trusting that God would deal with Him in ways that matched His reputation.

When the Bible says “the name of the Lord,” we should translate that to “the reputation of the Lord…what we know about His character.”

What is Paradise?

Paradise

We have very little information about Paradise. We only find the word paradeisos in three passages in the Bible:

  • Luke 23:43, where Jesus tells the thief on the cross that he would Join Him in Paradise that day
  • 2 Corinthians 12:4, where Paul talks about a man who was ‘caught up’ into Paradise, or “the third Heaven.”
  • Revelation 2:7, where Jesus writes to the church in Ephesus.

Commentators differ greatly on Paradise, since we know so little. I wouldn’t suggest that anyone take a strong position on Paradise. It’s a secondary matter, and certainly not one worth disputing. Here are a few thoughts that come to mind when reading these three passages:

Luke 23:43

Jesus tells the thief that he would join Him in Paradise that day. Based on this passage, it would appear that Paradise was not the same as Heaven. We read in John 20 that Jesus told Mary, do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. That was on Sunday. If the thief joined Jesus in Paradise on Friday, that may mean that Jesus went to Paradise and not to Heaven.

2 Corinthians 12:4

Paul describes a man who was caught up into God’s presence. In v2 he writes, the third heaven and in v4 he writes, paradise. According to ancient Jewish thought, the third heaven is the place where God dwells. Based on this passage, we might believe that Paradise is Heaven.

Revelation 2:7

Jesus told the church in Ephesus that to the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. One would presume that this is the same Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden…which leads some (including some early church fathers) to believe that Eden was never on Earth, but is on some other plane of existence, like Heaven and Hell. There are three other verses about the Tree of Life in Revelation, showing that it is (or will be) located in the New Jerusalem, which will descend from Heaven to the New Earth.

Paradise: a Possible Synthesis

Is there some way to reconcile these passages? I believe so. First, paradeisos is a general word that provides a mental picture of a garden, or a safe, manicured, well-tended park. It could be used to describe any place that’s like that. Several passages in Proverbs talk about things being like this garden: wisdom, the fruit of the righteous, a longing fulfilled, and a soothing tongue. It’s possible that the three New Testament passages that mention Paradise are talking about different places that are all like this kind of safe, protected, beautiful garden. Next, it’s possible that the word was used to describe two different places. The first would be Heaven or, more literally, ‘the place where God is.’ The second would be a temporary place where the dead waited for Judgement Day. Jesus mentioned this in Luke 16, where He told of a rich man and Lazarus. This place was historically known as Hades, where the unrighteous dead would be in hell and the righteous dead would be in Abraham’s Bosom, believed to be Paradise. Some believe that this place was emptied at the time of Jesus’ resurrection. If that’s the case, the same word could have been used to describe both Hades and Heaven.

In the end, we’re left with a lot of conjecture. We don’t know if anyone is currently in Paradise, or what they would be doing if they were there. That’s okay. There are plenty of other passages that talk about where we’ll end up. Those who wish to be with God forever, and are willing to submit to Him, will be with Him forever in a beautiful, safe, amazing world. Those who want nothing to do with God, who are unwilling to submit to Him, will get their wish…they will be separated from Him forever.

I know which I’d prefer. Do you?

The 52 Books in the Ancient Nag Hammadi Library

Books in the Nag Hammadi Library

What is the Nag Hammadi Library?

Nag Hammadi is a town in Egypt. In 1945, two Egyptian brothers found a large urn near Nag Hammadi, filled with ancient papyri. The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of manuscripts is believed to be from the 4th century, copies of documents written earlier. Most of the documents are indirectly related to early Christianity, though the content varies. None are considered inspired Scripture.

List of Books in the Nag Hammadi Library

Codex I (also known as The Jung Codex):
The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
The Apocryphon of James (also known as the Secret Book of James)
The Gospel of Truth
The Treatise on the Resurrection
The Tripartite Tractate
Codex II:
The Apocryphon of John
The Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Philip
The Hypostasis of the Archons
On the Origin of the World
The Exegesis on the Soul
The Book of Thomas the Contender
Codex III:
The Apocryphon of John
Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit named The Gospel of the Egyptians
Eugnostos the Blessed
The Sophia of Jesus Christ
The Dialogue of the Saviour
Codex IV:
The Apocryphon of John
Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit named The Gospel of the Egyptians
Codex V:
Eugnostos the Blessed
The Apocalypse of Paul
The First Apocalypse of James
The Second Apocalypse of James
The Apocalypse of Adam
Codex VI:
The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
The Thunder, Perfect Mind
Authoritative Teaching
The Concept of Our Great Power
Republic by Plato – The original is not gnostic, but the Nag Hammadi library version is heavily modified with then-current gnostic concepts.
The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth – a Hermetic treatise
The Prayer of Thanksgiving (with a hand-written note) – a Hermetic prayer
Asclepius 21-29 – another Hermetic treatise
Codex VII:
The Paraphrase of Shem
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter
The Teachings of Silvanus
The Three Steles of Seth
Codex VIII:
Zostrianos
The Letter of Peter to Philip
Codex IX:
Melchizedek
The Thought of Norea
The Testimony of Truth
Codex X:
Marsanes
Codex XI:
The Interpretation of Knowledge
A Valentinian Exposition, On the Anointing, On Baptism (A and B) and On the Eucharist (A and B)
Allogenes
Hypsiphrone
Codex XII:
The Sentences of Sextus
The Gospel of Truth
Fragments
Codex XIII:
Trimorphic Protennoia
On the Origin of the World

The 114 Sayings of the Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas is a pseudepigraphal work, part of the Nag Hammadi Library

Origin of the Gospel of Thomas

Discovered in 1945, the Gospel of Thomas is part of the Nag Hammadi library of manuscripts. Also known as the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, it is a collection of 114 supposedly secret sayings of Jesus. Modern scholars consider it pseudepigraphal (bearing the name of someone who didn’t write it) and no major Christian group in history considered it Scripture. Properly dating an ancient document like Thomas is difficult, but it appears to have written or compiled between 140 and 250 AD.

Content in the Gospel of Thomas

Some of the sayings are related to accepted Scripture. Others diverge from biblical ideas and, at times, border on the ridiculous. The general idea is that Jesus passed on hidden knowledge to those closest to Him, which is a core concept in ancient Gnosticism. Thomas cannot reasonably be considered inspired by God, and was rejected by the early church soon after it was written.

The following translation has been committed to the public domain and may be freely copied and used, changed or unchanged, for any purpose. It is based on the Coptic text of NHC II, 2.

Prologue

These are the hidden sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.

Saying 1: True Meaning

And he said, “Whoever discovers the meaning of these sayings won’t taste death.”

Saying 2: Seek and Find

Jesus said, “Whoever seeks shouldn’t stop until they find. When they find, they’ll be disturbed. When they’re disturbed, they’ll be […] amazed, and reign over the All.”

Saying 3: Seeking Within

Jesus said, “If your leaders tell you, ‘Look, the kingdom is in heaven,’ then the birds of heaven will precede you. If they tell you, ‘It’s in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and outside of you.

“When you know yourselves, then you’ll be known, and you’ll realize that you’re the children of the living Father. But if you don’t know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”

Saying 4: First and Last

Jesus said, “The older person won’t hesitate to ask a little seven-day-old child about the place of life, and they’ll live, because many who are first will be last, and they’ll become one.”

Saying 5: Hidden and Revealed

Jesus said, “Know what’s in front of your face, and what’s hidden from you will be revealed to you, because there’s nothing hidden that won’t be revealed.”

Saying 6: Public Ritual

His disciples said to him, “Do you want us to fast? And how should we pray? Should we make donations? And what food should we avoid?”

Jesus said, “Don’t lie, and don’t do what you hate, because everything is revealed in the sight of heaven; for there’s nothing hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing covered up that will stay secret.”

Saying 7: The Lion and the Human

Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion that’s eaten by a human and then becomes human, but how awful for the human who’s eaten by a lion, and the lion becomes human.”

Saying 8: The Parable of the Fish

He said, “The human being is like a wise fisher who cast a net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisher found a fine large fish and cast all the little fish back down into the sea, easily choosing the large fish. Anyone who has ears to hear should hear!”

Saying 9: The Parable of the Sower

Jesus said, “Look, a sower went out, took a handful of seeds, and scattered them. Some fell on the roadside; the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on the rock; they didn’t take root in the soil and ears of grain didn’t rise toward heaven. Yet others fell on thorns; they choked the seeds and worms ate them. Finally, others fell on good soil; it produced fruit up toward heaven, some sixty times as much and some a hundred and twenty.”

Saying 10: Jesus and Fire (1)

Jesus said, “I’ve cast fire on the world, and look, I’m watching over it until it blazes.”

Saying 11: Those Who Are Living Won’t Die (1)

Jesus said, “This heaven will disappear, and the one above it will disappear too. Those who are dead aren’t alive, and those who are living won’t die. In the days when you ate what was dead, you made it alive. When you’re in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became divided. But when you become divided, what will you do?”

Saying 12: James the Just

The disciples said to Jesus, “We know you’re going to leave us. Who will lead us then?”

Jesus said to them, “Wherever you are, you’ll go to James the Just, for whom heaven and earth came into being.”

Saying 13: Thomas’ Confession

Jesus said to his disciples, “If you were to compare me to someone, who would you say I’m like?”

Simon Peter said to him, “You’re like a just angel.”

Matthew said to him, “You’re like a wise philosopher.”

Thomas said to him, “Teacher, I’m completely unable to say whom you’re like.”

Jesus said, “I’m not your teacher. Because you’ve drunk, you’ve become intoxicated by the bubbling spring I’ve measured out.”

He took him aside and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked, “What did Jesus say to you?”

Thomas said to them, “If I tell you one of the things he said to me, you’ll pick up stones and cast them at me, and fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.”

Saying 14: Public Ministry

Jesus said to them, “If you fast, you’ll bring guilt upon yourselves; and if you pray, you’ll be condemned; and if you make donations, you’ll harm your spirits.

“If they welcome you when you enter any land and go around in the countryside, heal those who are sick among them and eat whatever they give you, because it’s not what goes into your mouth that will defile you. What comes out of your mouth is what will defile you.”

Saying 15: Worship

Jesus said, “When you see the one who wasn’t born of a woman, fall down on your face and worship that person. That’s your Father.”

Saying 16: Not Peace, but War

Jesus said, “Maybe people think that I’ve come to cast peace on the world, and they don’t know that I’ve come to cast divisions on the earth: fire, sword, and war. Where there are five in a house, there’ll be three against two and two against three, father against and son and son against father. They’ll stand up and be one.”

Saying 17: Divine Gift

Jesus said, “I’ll give you what no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, no hand has ever touched, and no human mind has ever thought.”

Saying 18: Beginning and End

The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us about our end. How will it come?”

Jesus said, “Have you discovered the beginning so that you can look for the end? Because the end will be where the beginning is. Blessed is the one who will stand up in the beginning. They’ll know the end, and won’t taste death.”

Saying 19: Five Trees in Paradise

Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who came into being before coming into being. If you become my disciples and listen to my message, these stones will become your servants; because there are five trees in paradise which don’t change in summer or winter, and their leaves don’t fall. Whoever knows them won’t taste death.”

Saying 20: The Parable of the Mustard Seed

The disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us, what can the kingdom of heaven be compared to?”

He said to them, “It can be compared to a mustard seed. Though it’s the smallest of all the seeds, when it falls on tilled soil it makes a plant so large that it shelters the birds of heaven.”

Saying 21: The Parables of the Field, the Bandits, and the Reaper

Mary said to Jesus, “Whom are your disciples like?”

He said, “They’re like little children living in a field which isn’t theirs. When the owners of the field come, they’ll say, ‘Give our field back to us.’ They’ll strip naked in front of them to let them have it and give them their field.

“So I say that if the owner of the house realizes the bandit is coming, they’ll watch out beforehand and won’t let the bandit break into the house of their domain and steal their possessions. You, then, watch out for the world! Prepare to defend yourself so that the bandits don’t attack you, because what you’re expecting will come. May there be a wise person among you!

“When the fruit ripened, the reaper came quickly, sickle in hand, and harvested it. Anyone who has ears to hear should hear!”

Saying 22: Making the Two into One

Jesus saw some little children nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing children can be compared to those who enter the kingdom.”

They said to him, “Then we’ll enter the kingdom as little children?”

Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and so make the male and the female a single one so that the male won’t be male nor the female female; when you make eyes in the place of an eye, a hand in the place of a hand, a foot in the place of a foot, and an image in the place of an image; then you’ll enter [the kingdom].”

Saying 23: Those Who are Chosen (1)

Jesus said, “I’ll choose you, one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand, and they’ll stand as a single one.”

Saying 24: Light

His disciples said, “Show us the place where you are, because we need to look for it.”

He said to them, “Anyone who has ears to hear should hear! Light exists within a person of light, and they light up the whole world. If they don’t shine, there’s darkness.”

Saying 25: Love and Protect

Jesus said, “Love your brother as your own soul. Protect them like the pupil of your eye.”

Saying 26: Speck and Beam

Jesus said, “You see the speck that’s in your brother’s eye, but you don’t see the beam in your own eye. When you get the beam out of your own eye, then you’ll be able to see clearly to get the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Saying 27: Fasting and Sabbath

“If you don’t fast from the world, you won’t find the kingdom. If you don’t make the Sabbath into a Sabbath, you won’t see the Father.”

Saying 28: The World is Drunk

Jesus said, “I stood in the middle of the world and appeared to them in the flesh. I found them all drunk; I didn’t find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they were blind in their hearts and couldn’t see. They came into the world empty and plan on leaving the world empty. Meanwhile, they’re drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they’ll change.”

Saying 29: Spirit and Body

Jesus said, “If the flesh came into existence because of spirit, that’s amazing. If spirit came into existence because of the body, that’s really amazing! But I’m amazed at how [such] great wealth has been placed in this poverty.”

Saying 30: Divine Presence

Jesus said, “Where there are three deities, they’re divine. Where there are two or one, I’m with them.”

Saying 31: Prophet and Doctor

Jesus said, “No prophet is welcome in their own village. No doctor heals those who know them.”

Saying 32: The Parable of the Fortified City

Jesus said, “A city built and fortified on a high mountain can’t fall, nor can it be hidden.”

Saying 33: The Parable of the Lamp

Jesus said, “What you hear with one ear, listen to with both, then proclaim from your rooftops. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket or in a hidden place. Rather, they put it on the stand so that everyone who comes and goes can see its light.”

Saying 34: The Parable of Those Who Can’t See

Jesus said, “If someone who’s blind leads someone else who’s blind, both of them fall into a pit.”

Saying 35: The Parable of Binding the Strong

Jesus said, “No one can break into the house of the strong and take it by force without tying the hands of the strong. Then they can loot the house.”

Saying 36: Anxiety

Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious from morning to evening or from evening to morning about what you’ll wear.”

Saying 37: Seeing Jesus

His disciples said, “When will you appear to us? When will we see you?”

Jesus said, “When you strip naked without being ashamed, and throw your clothes on the ground and stomp on them as little children would, then [you’ll] see the Son of the Living One and won’t be afraid.”

Saying 38: Finding Jesus

Jesus said, “Often you’ve wanted to hear this message that I’m telling you, and you don’t have anyone else from whom to hear it. There will be days when you’ll look for me, but you won’t be able to find me.”

Saying 39: The Keys of Knowledge

Jesus said, “The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and hidden them. They haven’t entered, and haven’t let others enter who wanted to. So be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Saying 40: A Grapevine

Jesus said, “A grapevine has been planted outside of the Father. Since it’s malnourished, it’ll be pulled up by its root and destroyed.”

Saying 41: More and Less

Jesus said, “Whoever has something in hand will be given more, but whoever doesn’t have anything will lose even what little they do have.”

Saying 42: Passing By

Jesus said, “Become passersby.”

Saying 43: The Tree and the Fruit

His disciples said to him, “Who are you to say these things to us?”

“You don’t realize who I am from what I say to you, but you’ve become like those Judeans who either love the tree but hate its fruit, or love the fruit but hate the tree.”

Saying 44: Blasphemy

Jesus said, “Whoever blasphemes the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes the Son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither on earth nor in heaven.”

Saying 45: Good and Evil

Jesus said, “Grapes aren’t harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, because they don’t produce fruit. [A person who’s good] brings good things out of their treasure, and a person who’s [evil] brings evil things out of their evil treasure. They say evil things because their heart is full of evil.”

Saying 46: Greater than John the Baptizer

Jesus said, “From Adam to John the Baptizer, no one’s been born who’s so much greater than John the Baptizer that they shouldn’t avert their eyes. But I say that whoever among you will become a little child will know the kingdom and become greater than John.”

Saying 47: The Parables of Divided Loyalties, New Wine in Old Wineskins, and New Patch on Old Cloth

Jesus said, “It’s not possible for anyone to mount two horses or stretch two bows, and it’s not possible for a servant to follow two leaders, because they’ll respect one and despise the other.

“No one drinks old wine and immediately wants to drink new wine. And new wine isn’t put in old wineskins, because they’d burst. Nor is old wine put in new wineskins, because it’d spoil.

“A new patch of cloth isn’t sewn onto an old coat, because it’d tear apart.”

Saying 48: Unity (1)

Jesus said, “If two make peace with each other in a single house, they’ll say to the mountain, ‘Go away,’ and it will.”

Saying 49: Those Who Are Chosen (2)

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are one – those who are chosen, because you’ll find the kingdom. You’ve come from there and will return there.”

Saying 50: Our Origin and Identity

Jesus said, “If they ask you, ‘Where do you come from?’ tell them, ‘We’ve come from the light, the place where light came into being by itself, [established] itself, and appeared in their image.’

“If they ask you, ‘Is it you?’ then say, ‘We are its children, and we’re chosen by our living Father.’

“If they ask you, ‘What’s the sign of your Father in you?’ then say, ‘It’s movement and rest.'”

Saying 51: The New World

His disciples said to him, “When will the dead have rest, and when will the new world come?”

He said to them, “What you’re looking for has already come, but you don’t know it.”

Saying 52: Twenty-Four Prophets

His disciples said to him, “Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you.”

He said to them, “You’ve ignored the Living One right in front of you, and you’ve talked about those who are dead.”

Saying 53: True Circumcision

His disciples said to him, “Is circumcision useful, or not?”

He said to them, “If it were useful, parents would have children who are born circumcised. But the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every way.”

Saying 54: Those Who Are Poor

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.”

Saying 55: Discipleship (1)

Jesus said, “Whoever doesn’t hate their father and mother can’t become my disciple, and whoever doesn’t hate their brothers and sisters and take up their cross like I do isn’t worthy of me.”

Saying 56: The World is a Corpse

Jesus said, “Whoever has known the world has found a corpse. Whoever has found a corpse, of them the world isn’t worthy.”

Saying 57: The Parable of the Weeds

Jesus said, “My Fathers’ kingdom can be compared to someone who had [good] seed. Their enemy came by night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The person didn’t let anyone pull out the weeds, ‘so that you don’t pull out the wheat along with the weeds,’ they said to them. ‘On the day of the harvest, the weeds will be obvious. Then they’ll be pulled out and burned.'”

Saying 58: Finding Life

Jesus said, “Blessed is the person who’s gone to a lot of trouble. They’ve found life.”

Saying 59: The Living One

Jesus said, “Look for the Living One while you’re still alive. If you die and then try to look for him, you won’t be able to.”

Saying 60: Don’t Become a Corpse

They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb to Judea. He said to his disciples, “What do you think he’s going to do with that lamb?”

They said to him, “He’s going to kill it and eat it.”

He said to them, “While it’s living, he won’t eat it, but only after he kills it and it becomes a corpse.”

They said, “He can’t do it any other way.”

He said to them, “You, too, look for a resting place, so that you won’t become a corpse and be eaten.”

Saying 61: Jesus and Salome

Jesus said, “Two will rest on a couch. One will die, the other will live.”

Salome said, “Who are you, Sir, to climb onto my couch and eat off my table as if you’re from someone?”

Jesus said to her, “I’m the one who exists in equality. Some of what belongs to my Father was given to me.”

“I’m your disciple.”

“So I’m telling you, if someone is equal, they’ll be full of light; but if they’re divided, they’ll be full of darkness.”

Saying 62: Mysteries

Jesus said, “I tell my mysteries to [those who are worthy of my] mysteries. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Saying 63: The Parable of the Rich Fool

Jesus said, “There was a rich man who had much money. He said, ‘I’ll use my money to sow, reap, plant, and fill my barns with fruit, so that I won’t need anything.’ That’s what he was thinking to himself, but he died that very night. Anyone who has ears to hear should hear!”

Saying 64: The Parable of the Dinner Party

Jesus said, “Someone was planning on having guests. When dinner was ready, they sent their servant to call the visitors.

“The servant went to the first and said, ‘My master invites you.’

“They said, ‘Some merchants owe me money. They’re coming tonight. I need to go and give them instructions. Excuse me from the dinner.’

“The servant went to another one and said, ‘My master invites you.’

“They said, “I’ve just bought a house and am needed for the day. I won’t have time.’

“The servant went to another one and said, ‘My master invites you.’

“They said, ‘My friend is getting married and I’m going to make dinner. I can’t come. Excuse me from the dinner.’

“The servant went to another one and said, ‘My master invites you.’

“They said, “I’ve just bought a farm and am going to collect the rent. I can’t come. Excuse me.’

“The servant went back and told the master, ‘The ones you’ve invited to the dinner have excused themselves.’

“The master said to their servant, ‘Go out to the roads and bring whomever you find so that they can have dinner.’

“Buyers and merchants won’t [enter] the places of my Father.”

Saying 65: The Parable of the Sharecroppers

He said, “A [creditor] owned a vineyard. He leased it out to some sharecroppers to work it so he could collect its fruit.

“He sent his servant so that the sharecroppers could give him the fruit of the vineyard. They seized his servant, beat him, and nearly killed him.

“The servant went back and told his master. His master said, ‘Maybe he just didn’t know them.’ He sent another servant, but the tenants beat that one too.

“Then the master sent his son, thinking, ‘Maybe they’ll show some respect to my son.’

“Because they knew that he was the heir of the vineyard, the sharecroppers seized and killed him. Anyone who has ears to hear should hear!”

Saying 66: The Rejected Cornerstone

Jesus said, “Show me the stone the builders rejected; that’s the cornerstone.”

Saying 67: Knowing Isn’t Everything

Jesus said, “Whoever knows everything, but is personally lacking, lacks everything.”

Saying 68: Persecution

Jesus said, “Blessed are you when you’re hated and persecuted, and no place will be found where you’ve been persecuted.”

Saying 69: Those Who Are Persecuted

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who’ve been persecuted in their own hearts. They’ve truly known the Father. Blessed are those who are hungry, so that their stomachs may be filled.”

Saying 70: Salvation is Within

Jesus said, “If you give birth to what’s within you, what you have within you will save you. If you don’t have that within [you], what you don’t have within you [will] kill you.”

Saying 71: Destroying the Temple

Jesus said, “I’ll destroy [this] house, and no one will be able to build it […]”

Saying 72: Not a Divider

[Someone said to him], “Tell my brothers to divide our inheritance with me.”

He said to him, “Who made me a divider?”

He turned to his disciples and said to them, “Am I really a divider?”

Saying 73: Workers for the Harvest

Jesus said, “The harvest really is plentiful, but the workers are few. So pray that the Lord will send workers to the harvest.”

Saying 74: The Empty Well

He said, “Lord, many are gathered around the well, but there’s nothing to drink.”

Saying 75: The Bridal Chamber

Jesus said, “Many are waiting at the door, but those who are one will enter the bridal chamber.”

Saying 76: The Parable of the Pearl

Jesus said, “The Father’s kingdom can be compared to a merchant with merchandise who found a pearl. The merchant was wise; they sold their merchandise and bought that single pearl for themselves.

“You, too, look for the treasure that doesn’t perish but endures, where no moths come to eat and no worms destroy.”

Saying 77: Jesus is the All

Jesus said, “I’m the light that’s over all. I am the All. The All has come from me and unfolds toward me.

“Split a log; I’m there. Lift the stone, and you’ll find me there.”

Saying 78: Into the Desert

Jesus said, “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed shaken by the wind? A [person] wearing fancy clothes, [like your] rulers and powerful people? They (wear) fancy [clothes], but can’t know the truth.”

Saying 79: Listening to the Message

A woman in the crowd said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nourished you.”

He said to [her], “Blessed are those who have listened to the message of the Father and kept it, because there will be days when you’ll say, ‘Blessed is the womb that didn’t conceive and the breasts that haven’t given milk.'”

Saying 80: The World is a Body

Jesus said, “Whoever has known the world has found the body; but whoever has found the body, of them the world isn’t worthy.”

Saying 81: Riches and Renunciation (1)

Jesus said, “Whoever has become rich should become a ruler, and whoever has power should renounce it.”

Saying 82: Jesus and Fire (2)

Jesus said, “Whoever is near me is near the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom.”

Saying 83: Light and Images

Jesus said, “Images are revealed to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father’s light. He’ll be revealed, but his image will be hidden by his light.”

Saying 84: Our Previous Images

Jesus said, “When you see your likeness, you rejoice. But when you see your images that came into being before you did – which don’t die, and aren’t revealed – how much you’ll have to bear!”

Saying 85: Adam Wasn’t Worthy

Jesus said, “Adam came into being from a great power and great wealth, but he didn’t become worthy of you. If he had been worthy, [he wouldn’t have tasted] death.”

Saying 86: Foxes and Birds

Jesus said, “[The foxes have dens] and the birds have nests, but the Son of Humanity has nowhere to lay his head and rest.”

Saying 87: Body and Soul

Jesus said, “How miserable is the body that depends on a body, and how miserable is the soul that depends on both.”

Saying 88: Angels and Prophets

Jesus said, “The angels and the prophets will come to you and give you what belongs to you. You’ll give them what you have and ask yourselves, ‘When will they come and take what is theirs?'”

Saying 89: Inside and Outside

Jesus said, “Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Don’t you know that whoever created the inside created the outside too?”

Saying 90: Jesus’ Yoke is Easy

Jesus said, “Come to me, because my yoke is easy and my requirements are light. You’ll be refreshed.”

Saying 91: Reading the Signs

They said to him, “Tell us who you are so that we may trust you.”

He said to them, “You read the face of the sky and the earth, but you don’t know the one right in front of you, and you don’t know how to read the present moment.”

Saying 92: Look and Find

Jesus said, “Look and you’ll find. I didn’t answer your questions before. Now I want to give you answers, but you aren’t looking for them.”

Saying 93: Don’t Throw Pearls to Pigs

“Don’t give what’s holy to the dogs, or else it might be thrown on the manure pile. Don’t throw pearls to the pigs, or else they might […]”

Saying 94: Knock and It Will Be Opened

Jesus [said], “Whoever looks will find, [and whoever knocks], it will be opened for them.”

Saying 95: Giving Money

[Jesus said], “If you have money, don’t lend it at interest. Instead, give [it to] someone from whom you won’t get it back.”

Saying 96: The Parable of the Yeast

Jesus [said], “The Father’s kingdom can be compared to a woman who took a little yeast and [hid] it in flour. She made it into large loaves of bread. Anyone who has ears to hear should hear!”

Saying 97: The Parable of the Jar of Flour

Jesus said, “The Father’s kingdom can be compared to a woman carrying a jar of flour. While she was walking down [a] long road, the jar’s handle broke and the flour spilled out behind her on the road. She didn’t know it, and didn’t realize there was a problem until she got home, put down the jar, and found it empty.”

Saying 98: The Parable of the Assassin

Jesus said, “The Father’s kingdom can be compared to a man who wanted to kill someone powerful. He drew his sword in his house and drove it into the wall to figure out whether his hand was strong enough. Then he killed the powerful one.”

Saying 99: Jesus’ True Family

The disciples said to him, “Your brothers and mother are standing outside.”

He said to them, “The people here who do the will of my Father are my brothers and mother; they’re the ones who will enter my Father’s kingdom.”

Saying 100: Give to Caesar What Belongs to Caesar

They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, “Those who belong to Caesar demand tribute from us.”

He said to them, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give to God what belongs to God, and give to me what belongs to me.”

Saying 101: Discipleship (2)

“Whoever doesn’t hate their [father] and mother as I do can’t become my [disciple], and whoever [doesn’t] love their [father] and mother as I do can’t become my [disciple]. For my mother […], but [my] true [Mother] gave me Life.”

Saying 102: The Dog in the Feeding Trough

Jesus said, “How awful for the Pharisees who are like a dog sleeping in a feeding trough for cattle, because the dog doesn’t eat, and [doesn’t let] the cattle eat either.”

Saying 103: The Parable of the Bandits

Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who knows where the bandits are going to enter. [They can] get up to assemble their defenses and be prepared to defend themselves before they arrive.”

Saying 104: Prayer and Fasting

They said to [Jesus], “Come, let’s pray and fast today.”

Jesus said, “What have I done wrong? Have I failed?

“Rather, when the groom leaves the bridal chamber, then people should fast and pray.”

Saying 105: Knowing Father and Mother

Jesus said, “Whoever knows their father and mother will be called a bastard.”

Saying 106: Unity (2)

Jesus said, “When you make the two into one, you’ll become Children of Humanity, and if you say ‘Mountain, go away!’, it’ll go.”

Saying 107: The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Jesus said, “The kingdom can be compared to a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. The largest one strayed. He left the ninety-nine and looked for that one until he found it. Having gone through the trouble, he said to the sheep: ‘I love you more than the ninety-nine.'”

Saying 108: Becoming Like Jesus

Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me, and I myself will become like them; then, what’s hidden will be revealed to them.”

Saying 109: The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Jesus said, “The kingdom can be compared to someone who had a treasure [hidden] in their field. [They] didn’t know about it. After they died, they left it to their son. The son didn’t know it either. He took the field and sold it.

“The buyer plowed the field, [found] the treasure, and began to loan money at interest to whomever they wanted.”

Saying 110: Riches and Renunciation (2)

Jesus said, “Whoever has found the world and become rich should renounce the world.”

Saying 111: Those Who are Living Won’t Die (2)

Jesus said, “The heavens and the earth will roll up in front of you, and whoever lives from the Living One won’t see death.”

Doesn’t Jesus say, “Whoever finds themselves, of them the world isn’t worthy”?

Saying 112: Flesh and Soul

Jesus said, “How awful for the flesh that depends on the soul. How awful for the soul that depends on the flesh.”

Saying 113: The Kingdom is Already Present

His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?”

“It won’t come by looking for it. They won’t say, ‘Look over here!’ or ‘Look over there!’ Rather, the Father’s kingdom is already spread out over the earth, and people don’t see it.”

Saying 114: Peter and Mary

Simon Peter said to them, “Mary should leave us, because women aren’t worthy of life.”

Jesus said, “Look, am I to make her a man? So that she may become a living spirit too, she’s equal to you men, because every woman who makes herself manly will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Notes on Translation

Saying 13: “Three things.” Or possibly “three words.” The Coptic term for “word” can also be translated as “saying,” as in the incipit.

Sayings 16, 49, and 75: “One.” Literally, monachos, usually translated “single,” “solitary,” or “alone.” For the translation choice, cf. my book The Gospel of Thomas: A New Translation for Spiritual Seekers (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform), 2015, pp. 24,25, building on Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message (Shambhala), 2009, p. 21; “The Gift of Life: The Unified Solitude of the Desert Fathers,” Parabola, 1989, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 27,28; building in turn on Gabriele Winkler, “The Origins and Idiosyncrasies of the Earliest Form of Ascetisicm,” The Continuing Quest for God: Monastic Spirituality in Tradition and Transition, ed. William Skuldarek, O.S.B. (The Liturgical Press), 1981, pp. 28,29.

Saying 61: “Equal.” The Coptic literally reads “destroyed,” which may be a scribal error; if one letter is changed, the word would be “equal,” which would echo the earlier phrase “I am the one who exists in equality.”

Saying 65: “Creditor.” Or possibly “a good person”; cf. Michael W. Grondin, “Good Man or Usurer? Battle over a Lacuna,” rev. May 31, 2014, on-line at http://gospel-thomas.net/lacuna.htm. Last accessed August 1, 2015.

Saying 105: “A bastard.” Literally, “the son of a prostitute.”

Saying 114: “Manly.” Cf. my book The Gospel of Thomas, op. cit., pp. 25,26, building on Samuel Zinner, The Gospel of Thomas in the Light of Early Jewish, Christian and Islamic Esoteric Trajectories: with a contextualized commentary and a new translation of the Thomas Gospel (The Matheson Trust), 2011, pp. 288-290; building in turn on Paul Schüngel, “Ein Vorschlag, EvTho 114 neu zu übersetzen,” Novum Testamentum, 1994, Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 394-401.

What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, False Teachers, Prosperity Gospel

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a movement made up of a number of like-minded people who call themselves Christian, but share a number of unbiblical ideas. Most NAR teachers are also Word of Faith teachers, another decidedly unbiblical set of ideas.

Movements are difficult to analyze and assess. Because a movement has no central authority, there are no official statements, and there is no official oversight. Individuals involved in the movement may have widely disparate beliefs, so valid criticisms for some are invalid for others. Because of the variations in belief and practice in any movement, each church’s or individual’s involvement with others in the NAR must be assessed independently of every other. The only reasonable goal here is to expose the errors and excesses, providing a correction for some and a warning for others.

I see three paths for fairly assessing a movement like NAR:

  1. To look into the principles involved in the genesis of the movement,
  2. To critique what influential leaders in the movement have taught and written, and
  3. To examine the trends embodied in the movement.

New Apostolic Reformation Founding Principles

As with any movement, the NAR has had a variety of influences over the years. While not everyone in the NAR is Charismatic/Pentecostal, the movement is almost entirely in Charismatic/Pentecostal circles. Based on the teachings of some of its prominent leaders, the NAR has strong connections to previous, troublesome, Charismatic/Pentecostal movements. Here are a few of the commonly-held ideas taught by prominent leaders in the NAR:

  • God specially empowered new intercessors in the 1970s, new prophets in the 1980s and new apostles in the 1990s. 2001 marked the beginning of the ‘Second Apostolic Age.’
  • Men and women calling themselves apostles and prophets are elevated to positions of leadership based on supposed God-given authority in the church.
  • These leaders are supposedly given supernatural powers, including the ability to provide new doctrinal revelation.
  • Supernatural manifestations, from tongues to raising people from the dead to mass conversions to heavenly conversations with Jesus or Adam or whomever, are to be expected (and are claimed by certain leaders).
  • These powers are needed to establish dominion over the earth, as God supposedly instructed in Genesis. This is variously understood on a spectrum, from having influence over culture to actually ruling God’s Kingdom here on earth, in our time.
  • They believe Jesus cannot return until the church has dominion over the earth. This process will necessitate the martyrdom of many as spiritual warfare increases.

Related people, movements, and theological concepts in the New Apostolic Reformation:

  • William Branham
  • Latter Rain Movement
  • C. Peter Wagner
  • Rick Joyner
  • Steve Shultz
  • Todd Bentley
  • TBN
  • John Wimber
  • Kim Clement
  • Bob Jones
  • IHOP
  • Mike Bickel
  • Che Ahn
  • James Goll
  • The Passion Bible
  • Bethel Church (Redding, CA)
  • Bill Johnson
  • Hillsong (Australia and worldwide)
  • Kingdom Now
  • The Elijah List
  • Spiritual Mapping
  • Joel’s Army
  • Toronto Blessing / Brownsville Revival
  • Five-fold Ministry
  • Dominion Theology

You can read a lot about the New Apostolic Reformation on the Spirit of Error website. Holly Pivec co-authored a book on the NAR, has written for Biola Magazine and the Christian Research Journal, and has a Master’s degree in apologetics from Biola University.

My Conclusion

While I always try to be impartial, my previous research into groups and individuals colors my conclusions. I’m not anti-Pentecostal, but the excesses and abuses in the movement have given me pause. I see the NAR as only the latest in a long, long line of theologically error-prone leaders, false teachers, charlatans, and demonically-inspired grifters.

Many in the movement are quick to point out that there is an agreed-upon statement of faith in place, and that it is historically and biblically orthodox. While true, that’s often unrelated to what’s actually being taught. In fact, much of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement is characterized by ideas that are theologically questionable at best and, at worst, are simply lies. Most of the recent growth of Christianity around the world appears to be happening in Charismatic/Pentecostal churches, which I find disturbing…not because I’m a hater, but because most of the theologically awful stuff in my lifetime has been birthed and spread there.

Old Testament God vs New Testament God?

Is God real? Does God exist? Does God love me? How can I be saved? How can I go to Heaven?

Is the God of the Old Testament the same as the God of the New Testament?

At first glance, God in the Old Testament seems harsh, and perhaps callous. God in the New Testament seems loving, and gentle. With respect, this is a simple misunderstanding. It’s also not new…this has been a common misunderstanding since at least the turn of the first century AD.

It may seem like the God of the Old Testament is very different from the God of the New Testament, but He’s the same. His nature and character have not changed at all. How does God describe Himself? Look at Exodus 34:6-7

And [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

In the Old Testament, God describes Himself as a shepherd who cares for His sheep, a faithful husband who forgives His unfaithful wife, and so on. His “New Testament character” is clearly seen in these descriptions. Yes, He created some strict rules for His people. Yes, He has always held people accountable for their actions.

On the flip side, those who see Jesus as only gentle and meek are also missing half of the picture. We all know that Jesus used very harsh words when talking to the self-righteous. Take a look at the list of “woes” that Jesus pronounced and try to picture Him as only meek and mild! We also read in the Gospels that He proclaimed a coming judgment on Israel, which happened in 70AD. Jesus talked just as much about Hell as Heaven, if not more. In Acts, Ananias and Sapphira were killed for lying. In Hebrews 10 we read that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, and that He is a consuming fire (12:29). When we get to Revelation, we see that Jesus isn’t soft. He carries a sword, and will judge and destroy those who oppose God.

God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness have been shown from the beginning, from Genesis to Malachi. His justice – with wrath, punishment, and destruction – are there to see from Matthew to Jude and Revelation. God has not changed. He handles different situations differently, which makes sense…but His character has always been the same. Naturally, we LIKE to think of God as more loving and kind and gentle…but what would happen if that were His only attributes? The wicked and unrepentant would go unpunished. That would make Him unjust, and unloving toward those who have been victimized. Were He only harsh and demanding, He would be unjust toward those who love Him and seek to serve Him well.

The antidote to this misunderstanding is easy: just read the Bible more thoroughly. It’s hard to read the first few chapters of Hosea and not see that God is forgiving, loving, compassionate, and patient. We tend to think of God as emotionless, but Song of Solomon tells us otherwise. Reading through the Psalms will show that God cares for us deeply. At the same time, reading ALL of the Gospels – not just passages like the Beatitudes – will help us understand that neither the Son nor the Father are playing games. Lives are at stake, and there will be a reckoning.

Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Who is Jesus? Was Jesus a real person? Why did Jesus die? Is Jesus God?

Many skeptics of Christianity believe that Jesus never claimed to be God. Some claim that nobody believed He was God until long, long after His death. Others argue that Jesus’ own words show that He believed Himself to be simply a man, or only the Son of God and not God Himself. Still others claim that Jesus’ divinity was created by the apostle Paul, and that his teaching and Jesus’ teaching are in conflict. From Jehovah’s Witnesses to Muslims to atheists, a whole bunch of people deny that Jesus is God.

Their confusion is understandable. It’s not a common situation…you know, God becoming human. When we look at Scripture, it’s undeniable that Jesus Himself, and His disciples, and the Jews around Him, understood that He was claiming to be God.

Jesus claimed to be God

Jesus repeatedly called Himself the Son of Man. This refers to a prophecy in Daniel 7, which Jesus quotes directly. The Son of Man is the one whom all will worship, whose reign will last forever, and so on. Remember: religious Jews are fiercely monotheistic…they would never worship anyone who is not God, yet they accept that the Son of Man should be worshipped.

In Revelation 1:17, John records Jesus saying, I am the first and the last. This is a direct quote from Isaiah 44:6, where God says I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, He wasn’t claiming that He was a created being, or that He was less…He was claiming to be EQUAL with God. The Jewish leaders understood this very well, as we see in John 5:18For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

John 2:19, Jesus claimed to be able to raise Himself from the dead: Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.

In Luke 6:5, Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Of course, God Himself created the Sabbath.

In John 8:58, Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham, who died 1600 years before He was born: Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am! (see the next part for more on this)

The Jews believed Jesus claimed to be God

In that same passage, some Jews asked Jesus, “Who do you think you are?” Jesus used the phrase “I am.” He used this phrase to describe Himself numerous times. This is the same phrase God used to describe Himself in Exodus 13:14 when Moses was going to confront Pharaoh: I am. How did the Jews respond? They picked up stones to kill Him for saying it because they understood that Jesus was calling Himself God.

At Jesus’ trial, the Jewish leaders insisted, We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.

It was understood that only God could forgive sins, and then, in Luke 5:20, Jesus forgave sins: When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.

In John 10:30, Jesus was talking about God the Father, and then said, I and the Father are one. Sounds maybe like Jesus was saying they were like-minded, or on the same team or something. That’s not how the Jews heard it, of course…they knew exactly what Jesus meant: Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

The High Priest believed Jesus claimed to be God

In Matthew 26:63, Caiaphas said to Jesus, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Remember that the Jews believed the Son of Man was divine.

Jesus’ disciples believed Jesus is God

John 1:1 says that Jesus was God.

In John 20:28, Thomas called Jesus God.

In Hebrews 1:8 we read that God called the Son God.

In Acts 20:28, Luke records Paul’s words that God bought the church with His own blood…clearly meaning Jesus.

In 2 Peter 1:1, Peter called Jesus our God and Savior.

In Titus 2:13, Paul calls Jesus our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Do we believe Paul, or Jesus?

This is a seemingly valid question, but one that betrays ignorance of the events outlined in the Bible. After fourteen years of ministry, Paul went to Jerusalem to meet privately with Peter, James, and the other Christian leaders there. He presented to them the gospel that he preached to the Gentiles…to make sure he was on track. They added nothing to his message. Why would the disciples accept what Paul taught as true if he falsely claimed that Jesus is God? No…Paul agreed with Jesus and His disciples, which is why there was never any conflict over him saying that Jesus is God.

I could go on, of course. Without question, Jesus claimed to be God. Without question, those around Him understood exactly what He meant…some followed Him because they believed Him, and others wanted to kill Him – and ultimately succeeded – because they didn’t believe Him.

The most important question at the moment is whether YOU believe Him. Having the facts is important, but not enough by itself…to have peace with God, we must trust Him enough to submit to Him as well.