Archive for January, 2013

THE PROBLEM OF THE RED HEIFER

Simon Peter Sutherland @ The Tombs of the Kings, Paphos, CyprusJews in Israel are now claiming that they are re-building thee 3rd Jewish Temple. This is a huge isssue, since many Biblical scholars and theologians believe that God is going to re-establish His Old Covenant sacrifices when the re-building of the so-called 3rd Jewish temple in Jerusalem is complete.

Many pre-milliennial theologians employ 2 Thessalonians 2: 2-12 to proclaim that antichrist will do this? But the problem is that this re-establishment of old covenant sacrifices is based upon one interpretation of Daniel 9, which claims that Daniel was prophesying that at the end of days, antichrist will set up and image of himself in the new temple at Jerusalem and will briefly put an end to sacrifices which have been re-established by a levitical priesthood.

However, despite the controversy which surrounds escatological interpretations, it is clear that Daniel 9 is a prophesy concerning the coming of Christ, who, according to many modern scholars, put an end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the Jewish week and not Friday, as many claim to be the day in which Christ was crucified. However, the problem remains that the building of a 3rd temple in Jerusalem is not a mere matter of theological interpretation of the scriptures, or problematic only because the levitical priesthood does not exist anymore and cannot be reinstated by any priesthood, but, it is a problem regarding the Red Heifer.

According to the Bible, the Red Heifer was a bull used by levitical priests in accordance with the Law of Moses as part of the ritual sacrifices for the so-called cleansing of sin. These requirments are found in Numbers 19: 1-22, which is contained in the Bible and in the Torah and cannot be broken by anyone accept God Himself. So the problem remains, that there is no longer a pure Red Heifer anymore. The Red Heifer genetically gained white markings sometime over the last 2000 years or more. The white markings now found on the Red Heifer make it impossble for the laws of purification to be fulfilled according to the word of God. Jewish scholars and pre-millennial theologians have got a problem. Nothing other than a pure Red Heifer at the age of 3 can be a satisfactory offering (Genesis 15: 9)

So until a pure Red Heifer comes along, there is no signal for the end of days and the sooner people realise that the re-building of temple was made complete in the followers of the Lord Jesus, who are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, then the better for all of us.

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The words of the oldest New Testament fragment

Simon Peter Sutherland at Ephesus  © 2004/2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Simon Peter Sutherland at Ephesus
© 2004/2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

In John Rylands Library, Manchester UK, we have the oldest fragment of the New Testament to date. During an age of critical modern scholarship and its heavy critique of Biblical texts, we have a great testimony in direct contrast to many critical claims of modern textual scholars.

Many claim that the New Testament accounts were written much later than they actually were, and when I see this fragment as I do on a regular basis, its surviving words never cease to amaze me. They are a pure testimony to the reality of the absolute identity of Jesus Christ, son of God, who was and is, and is to come, “The Truth”. Not ‘A’ truth, but ‘The’ Truth.

The Greek fragment, of John 18: 31-33, on the recto reads as follows;

the Jews, “For us it is not permitted to kill
anyone,” so that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he
spoke signifying what kind of death he was going to
to die. Entered therefore again into the Praeto-
rium Pilate and summoned Jesus
and he said to him, “Thou art king of the
Jews?”
The Greek fragment of John 18: 37-38, on the verso reads as follows,
“a King I am. For this I have been born
and (for this) I have come into the world so that I would
testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth
hears of me my voice.” Said to him
Pilate, “What is truth?” and this
having said, again he went out unto the Jews
and said to them, “I find not one
fault in him
.”

Is it not amazing that the oldest fragment in the world of the New Testament, dated possibly earlier than 100 AD and no later than 150 AD, speaks of such a great testimony to the word of God? Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24: 35.

This is certainly true.

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On reading old books and Bibles

Old Bible page, William TyndaleOld bibles truly bless me, they are so full of age and character and records of past lives. Many old Bibles contain much hand written history of times gone by, where people have lived and died, loved and lost and lives have been changed by the scriptures and their brief histories written down within the old pages.

Old books and history can help us reflect upon our own mortality, indeed it helps me and forever reminds me that one day all of us will die. Each of us will lose our earthly lives but for those who belong to Jesus, each of us will win a much better one. This is not morbid in my eyes, but a demonstration of true glory. For the true Christian who departs this life, will be within a life that has no end.

Thomas a Kempis, an early author who wrote one very old book named, ‘The Imitation of Christ’ said, “Very quickly there will be an end of thee here, look what will become of thee in another world. To-day a man is here; to-morrow he hath disappeared” (Book 1. Chapter 23) Such a touching verse, and one worthy of the memory. No one knows the hour when we will depart this life for our venture into the next, be it heaven or hell?

So next time you see an old book, or see a grave, remember that one day, you will be history, you will go the same way. And if you have ever seen a man die, remember that you must pass the same way. Therefore, think upon these things daily and remember yourself, that you may be remembered.

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William Tyndales “Congregation”

Tyndale New TestamentThou art Peter and upon this rock will I build my congregation” Matthew 16: 18. Coverdale Bible. 1537

Matthew 16: 18 as translated in most Bibles is an over literal reading. Willaim Tyndale in his 1526 New Testament used the word ‘Congregation‘ in translation of of the Greek “Ekklesia“.

It is this exact term which is likely that Myles Coverdale employed this word and translation from Tyndale. The Greek ‘ekklēsia‘ holds the meaning of ‘assembly‘ and it is likely that Tyndale translated this word correctly, even more so than many other translations.

This wording is not contained in many translations, but it is in the Tyndale NT, The Coverdale Bible and the Bishops Bible.

Even in such texts as Revelation 2: 9, where the Greek ‘sunagoge‘ is used, Tyndale employs the same word ‘Congregation‘. Which no doubt has many complications for the established ‘Church’. For, in Tyndales understanding, the congregation is the Church and her leadership and not the established order of the Clergy or Kings.

Is there any wonder why the established ‘state’ church burned his translation?

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The doctrine of ‘Double Predestination’ condemned “anathema” @ The Council of Orange

Simon Peter SutherlandResearch through the ancient creeds of Christendom from the first few centuries of the Christian Church always proves interesting.

I have long held to some early church statements concerning my personal faith and regard many of them as very Biblical and foundational.

Some early church creeds are not like the more modern creeds such as the “Synod at Dort” and the “Westminister confession of faith” which go beyond the foundations of the faith and into varying debatable and maybe even none essential doctrines.

However, much of what I find in these early creeds of Christendom are totally contrary to the many doctrines found in the church today, including a popular and growing doctrine which is logically connected to the hardcore Calvinistic doctrine of “Double Predestination”.

The Council of Orange dating to 529 AD says the following; “We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrennce that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema” (The Council of Orange. Conlclusion. 529 AD)

The problem today is that many young Theologians who are influenced by the revival of Puritan books such as Owens “Death of Death” and some Calvinistic/reformed doctrinal books, are embracing doctrines which are not quite right, yet sound right when connected to other doctrines and certain passages of scripture.

Thus, in my posting this text, I would like to add that if any of my readers or your friends and fellow Christians hold to this doctrine condemned at Orange then you would be wise to re-think yourself. As written in scripture; “Take heed unto thyself and unto doctrine; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee” 1 Timothy 4: 16

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St Thomas bay, Malta and St Pauls shipwreck

In 2005 I visited the Island of Malta in the hope of researching the events of Acts 27: 39-44, 28: 1-10. After much research and travelling on foot to various sites connected to the Biblical events, St Pauls Bay became a prominent feature, yet lacked something?

Simon Peter Sutherland at San Pawl Milqi, Malta © 2005/2013  Simon Peter Sutherland

Simon Peter Sutherland at San Pawl Milqi, Malta
© 2005/2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

However, I also came upon a new claim that parts of an ancient shipwreck had been found on the seabed at St Thomas Bay, in contrast to the traditional site of the shipwreck at St Pauls bay.

If these finds are true then they yet again offer more evidence for the Bible as History. The problem is that far too many people look for evidence in the wrong places, then they critique the text they clearly do not know so well.

This video contains some information about the archaeological finds.

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What is a Codex?

Tyndale New Testament‘Codex’ is a descriptive word which refers to an ancient book, in the form of books as we know books in our day and age. In the ancient world, the Latin word ‘codex’ meant “tree trunk” and while tablets were used to record events and various documents before Christ, the record of writings from the Roman era, tablets made of wood were used.

In later centuries Christian texts began to be formed as ‘Codex’ of which the pages of early Christian books were made of papyrus.

Many early Christian documents were written on animal skin, which is known as a ‘parchment’ and when formed in a book, is called a ‘Codex’. Many of these books were written or transcribed by monks or by ministers of various congregations for public reading and personal reflection.

So to define the word ‘Codex’ it refers to an ancient book, in the form of a book as we know a book today.

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