More Answers to Biblical Questions - #3
Scriptural replies to common questions, with Bible study tips.
Many sincere students of the Bible are deterred from joining
Church because of problems they perceive as being based on the
On this web page, we will look at some of those questions, to see
what light God's Word can give us as an answer.
'THE SABBATH ISN'T SUNDAY.'
There is no doubt that in the Old
the Jewish Sabbath was Saturday. Some Bible students protest that
Christians who worship on Sunday are actually violating the
to keep holy the sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11). Interesting points! But
they prove that Christians shouldn't attend Sunday services?
From Matthew chapter 12: "At that time, Jesus was going
field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and
to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw
they said to Him, 'See your disciples are doing what is unlawful
do on the sabbath.' He said to them, 'Have you not read what
did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the
of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his
but only the priest could lawfully eat?...If you knew what this
'I desire mercy and not sacrifice' (Hos. 6:6), you would not have
condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the
(Mt. 12:1-4, 7-8). Jesus asserts His authority over the sabbath
the application of the commandments!
After Jesus' ascension into heaven, we read that the early
at first continued to attend the sabbath worship in synagogues
at the Temple. But in commemoration of the day of Jesus'
from the dead, they also gathered together on Sunday: "On
day of the week (Sunday) when we gathered together for the
of the bread, Paul spoke to them..." (Acts 20:7).
That this was a common practice is apparent from Paul's words:
imitators of me, as I am of Christ. I praise you because you
me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I
them on to you." (1 Cor. 11:1-2). There follows a
of the Lord's Eucharistic Supper and matters dealing with related
One of the 'traditions' of Christ the Corinthians were taught to
was worshipping on the Lord's day, not the sabbath: "Now in
to the collection for the holy ones, you should also do as I
for the churches of Galatia. On the first day of the week, each
you should set aside and save whatever each of you can afford, so
that the collections will not be going on when I come." (1
this is also a reminder for us to give).
2 Corinthians 8:1 makes it clear that similar instructions were
in Macedonia by Paul, and also to Titus (2 Cor. 8: 16, 23) who we
know was told to: "appoint presbyters in every town, as I
you...holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will
able to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents. For
are also many rebels and idle talkers and deceivers, especially
Jewish Christians. It is imperative to silence them, as they are
upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they
not." (Tit. 1:5, 9-11). Many lessons can be drawn from these
First, Jesus is "Lord
of the sabbath" and can observe it on any day He chooses!
his oral instructions obeyed regarding Sunday worship. Paul
Titus and Timothy to pass on such oral Christian traditions, 'in
of Christ,' which included Sunday worship. Early Christian
support this Christian tradition.
Jesus identified Himself with the Church (cf. Lk. 10:16; Acts
22:4-8), which is "...the Church of the living God, the
foundation of truth." (1 Tim. 3:15). The early Church began
the Lord's supper on Sunday, 'the first day of the week', in
of Christ's resurrection. As Christ's Body on earth, the Church
authority, in His Name, to govern the worship we owe to God. We
avoid those, who like the 'Jewish Christians' Paul warned us
want to impose old rules on believers: such as forced Saturday
circumcision, and other Old Testament practices.
Many 'issues' are easily resolved simply by believing Jesus'
that His Church would "guide you into all truth." (Jn.
would be with us "always, to the end of time." (Mt.
28:20). If we
trust Jesus, we should trust His Church to teach the truth.
GALATIANS REFUTES 'THE ROCK'
Some say that Galatians 2:11-14
proves that Peter, 'the Rock' was not infallible.
In one sense,
they are right. Peter (and his successors), are sinners, just as
Privately, Simon Peter could and did err, most
dramatically in denying
Jesus when Christ was arrested. The
following verses help
clarify the actual gift Jesus bestowed on
Privately, for example, Peter tried to talk Jesus out of
and dying to redeem mankind. Jesus told Simon: "You are
not as God does, but as people do." (Mt. 16:23). Jesus
this point by indicating that Satan was trying to trick Peter.
This doesn't change the fact that Simon was given the "keys
kingdom" by Jesus after confessing the Nazarene to be the
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood
revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father. And so I say to
you are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the
gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the
to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth, will be
in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in
(Mt. 16:18-19). To this day, in cartoons, shows and literature,
see the image of Saint Peter as the guardian of the heavenly
since he got the keys!
It is only when Peter officially speaks on behalf of the
Church that he is protected from teaching in error on matters of
and morals. This is implicit in Peter's role as the shepherd that
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, appointed to tend and feed the Lord's
(cf. Jn. 21:15-17). How could Jesus let His shepherd err?
Note in Galatians 2:7-8, Paul calls Simon "Peter", and
in the following
verse, by the Aramaic for Peter, "Kephas", which means
the Old Testament, only God is referred to as 'Rock', and in the
Testament, Jesus is the 'Cornerstone.' So it's the 'Cornerstone'
dubbed Simon 'Kephas,' the Rock, the first time in known history
this name is given to a man! The various forms of Peter's name,
cited over 6 times more in the New Testament than
disciple' John. For those open to the truth,
Peter's authority is
Finally, the very issue that Paul refers to in Galatians 2:11-14
settled in Acts 15. "After much debate had taken place,
up and said to them..." after his public decision "the
fell silent" and the debate ended (Acts 15:7,12). It was
Rock with the keys), the one who could 'bind and loose' that
the final debate-ending statement. The Bible never says Peter
need advice from fellow presbyters. Peter learns as any man does,
and benefits from the counsel of others; just as Kephas did from
advice noted in Galatians. Once Peter's successor has prayerfully
studied an issue of faith or morals, and addresses the universal
as its leader, then the Holy Spirit prevents the teaching of 'the
Rock' from leading the faithful into error. This fact is
by almost 2,000 years of history, proof of God's gift to His
TIPS FOR BIBLE STUDY:
It's helpful for Bible students to use a
of the Scriptures that is an approved translation. In Revelations
22:18-19, John tells us that those who add to or take away from
book" will receive "the plagues" described in
Revelations, which are
many! Some have in fact dared to cut books from the Scriptures,
have added words, or even whole books to the Sacred Text. The
Church that 'guides us into all truth' preserved faithfully the
Bible, and has prepared modern translations with study notes and
that can help us understand God's Word to us. This is in keeping
with 2 Peter 1:20 and 3:15.
We've noted before how Hebrews 1:1-2 offers an important
in Scripture study: "In times past, God spoke in
various ways to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last
days, He spoke to us through a Son,
whom He made heir of all
things and through whom He created the universe."
The fullness of God's message to mankind came through Jesus
His Son. The messages from ''the prophets' are called '
They obviously weren't complete, or what would have been the need
for a New Covenant and a New Testament? It also says God spoke in
''various ways to our ancestors.'' This is literally true, as a
of the Old Testament will reveal books with: history, law, wisdom
literature, political intrigue, military plots, poetic forms and
The Bible shouldn't be read like a newspaper, it helps to
what literary form the inspired author was using to convey God's
Also, unique cultural expressions and Jewish idioms are often
until they are learned. To be sure that we fully understand the
Text, we should utilize a good study Bible, such as the New
Bible. The Jerusalem Bible, the Vulgate translation and others
by the universal Church, such as the interdenominationally
Revised Standard ("RSV" or "Common Bible")
are good as well.
Often, people ask, 'Where should I begin reading the Bible?'
it helps to know the basics of authentic Christian teachings.
see from experience how much this helps! Then, start with Matthew
and continue reading through the New Testament. Start by reading
the Sacred text. Refer to the study notes only when you feel
Once you've read the entire New Testament, go back and read it
this time referring to the notes. Prayerfully consider how God's
Word applies to you. Then read the Old Testament, starting with
again using the foot notes only when needed; and then on a later
studying the entire text with the study helps. Once you're
with God's Word, you'll see it confirms the True Faith, and truly
'lights your way!'
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