All posts by BradleyCobb

Michael the Archangel

Michael the Archangel

Angels!  They have fascinated the mind and imagination of believers for millennia.  Elaborate schemes of angelic hierarchy are popular in some denominations.  One of these beings in particular is mentioned by name multiple times in the Scriptures.  His name is Michael.

  • He is called “the archangel” (the word “archangels”—as in more than one—never appears in the Bible. There is only one). (Jude 9).
  • He is called the great prince [ruler] of Israel (Daniel 12:1).
  • He is the one who would defeat Satan (Revelation 12:7-9).
  • He is the one whose victory over Satan would bring about the kingdom of God (Revelation 12:10).
  • Since there is only one archangel, when Jesus comes in judgment, it is with Michael’s voice that He will speak (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
  • He is probably “the Angel of the LORD” from the Old Testament (compare Jude 9 and Zechariah 3).
  • The word “archangel” means “highest messenger.”
  • The name “Michael” means “who is as God” (and it should be noted that this name could have come from none other than God Himself).

Putting all this together, Michael is the highest messenger of God, who is as God, who is the great ruler of Israel, who would defeat Satan and bring about the kingdom of God, whose voice will be heard when the judgment comes.

He’s a lot more important that we might usually think!

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Jehovah’s Witnesses and “a god”

Perhaps the most striking fact about the religious group calling themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is that they believe Jesus is not God/deity, but that He was created by God.  As a way of trying to bolster their doctrine, they created their own version of the Scriptures, The New World Translation.

In the NWT, in John 1:1, they made a slight change that makes a big difference.  “…the word was with God, and the word was a god.”  If you question them about this, they will say something about a Greek rule that say when the word “the” (the Greek form of it, at least) doesn’t appear before the word “God” (theos in Greek), it is not talking about THE God, but only A god.

Here’s the problem with that reasoning…well, a couple problems—(1) It’s not true, and (2) they don’t follow their own supposed rule anywhere else in their translation—including the other four times it appears in the same chapter!  John 1:6, 12, 13, and 18 all have the word “God,” but the Greek word for “the” is absent.  In the NWT, each one of these verses is translated “God” (with a capital “G”).

In short, they made the whole thing up in order to “support” their false doctrine.  But Jesus is God in the flesh, He is the creator, the defeater of Satan—He is not “a god.”

-Bradley S. Cobb

Paul – the Preacher of Foreign Demons

Did You Know?

When Paul was in Athens, he saw that the city was “wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16).  This city had idols and shrines to every imaginable god.  There were shrines to Zeus, to Hermes, to Apollo, to Dionysius, and on and on and on.  But in the synagogue, Paul was arguing with the Jews for Jesus Christ—the true Son of Deity.

However, some of the pagans in the city heard what Paul was preaching, and they desired to hear more about it, because it was something new to their ears (and they longed to hear new things).  But what is interesting is what they attributed to Paul.  Most translations render the phrase from Acts 17:18 this way: “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign [or strange] gods.”

But did you know that the word translated “gods” in that verse is actually the word “demons”?  In fact, this verse is the only instance in the entire Bible where that word is NOT translated “demon” or “demons” (or “devils,” in KJV).  They apparently believed that since they didn’t already worship Him (they thought they had every god already covered by all the shrines and temples), he couldn’t be a real god—so they called Jesus a “foreign demon.”

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Two Mans (yes, I said “mans”)

Did You Know?

While Jesus was on earth, He was called a “man” in two different ways.  Obviously, Jesus was a male, and as such was called a “man” by His cousin, John the immerser (John 1:30).  The Greek word for a male is aner. (Interestingly, every time the word “husband” appears in the New Testament, it is the same Greek word).

But Jesus, while on earth, was also a human.  He frequently identified Himself as “the Son of man,” or more literally, “the Son of a human.”  You’re probably more familiar with this Greek term (almost always translated as “man” or “men” in the New Testament)—it is anthropos (as in anthropology).

But now Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of the throne of God.  So, is Jesus still “man” in either way?  2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul tells the church that he has espoused (betrothed) them to one “husband,” Jesus Christ.  The Greek word there is aner, a male.  So Jesus is still described as a “man” in that way, even though He is in heaven.  But what might surprise you is 1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  In this verse, Paul describes the current role of Jesus as Mediator in heaven.  And there, by inspiration, Paul says Jesus is human (anthropos).  Jesus, though ascended and glorified in heaven, still retains His humanity so He can be our perfect mediator with the Father.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Judas the Assassin?

Did You Know?

There is debate among Biblical scholars over Judas Iscariot.  I’m not talking about those goofy people who believe that Judas was somehow Jesus’ “chosen one” who was hand-selected by Christ to carry out God’s plan (as seen in the ridiculous 2nd century forgery, the Gospel of Judas).  I’m talking about those who believe in the inspiration of the Bible.  This debate deals with the question, “What does Iscariot mean?”

There are generally two schools of thought on this one.  The predominant view (overwhelmingly so) is that it means “Man from Kerioth,” which is a town in Judah.  If indeed this is the case, then it is proof that Judas was the only one of the apostles who wasn’t from Galilee (see Acts 2).

But, there is another possibility, and it is something that you might never have expected.  Some believe that Iscariot means “member of the Sicarii.” Now I’m sure you’re wondering, What is the Sicarii?  The Sicarii was a sect of the Jews, the most extreme of the Zealots (Simon was a Zealot).  These extremists prided themselves on their assassinations of Roman officials, Roman nobility, and prominent Roman sympathizers.  They would murder these people in broad daylight, among crowds, that way by the time the victim fell to the ground, they were lost in the crowd.  In fact, it was the growth of these actions that later led to the Roman-Jewish War that left Jerusalem in ruins and 1.1 million Jews dead.

And if Judas was one of these kind of men, it puts a whole new twist on his actions.  It is a possibility.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Why did Artaxerxes Care?

Did You Know?

Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of Persian King Artaxerxes, was upset because he had heard about the Jews who had gone back to Judea being persecuted, and about the wall around the city being broken down.  The king saw he was sad, asked what was wrong, and when Nehemiah told him, the king responded, “What is it that you desire?”

When Nehemiah told him he wanted to go to Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall, the king, it seems, didn’t blink, but asked, “How long are you going to be gone?”  The king also sent letters of passage, and letters of permission to log the forests to rebuild the gates, walls, and a house.  Additionally, he sent soldiers with Nehemiah.  The question is Why would Artaxerxes care about the city wall of a conquered people?

The answer is this.  Queen Esther was married to Ahasuerus, King of Persia.  Ahasuerus is more well-known by the name Xerxes. During the days of Nehemiah, the Persian king was Artaxerxes—literally the son of Xerxes.  Artaxerxes cared about the Jewish people and their city because his mother (or step-mother) was Queen Esther—a Jew.  In other words, he cared because the Jews were family to him.

Did You Know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Who was Jesus Praying About?

Did You Know?

One of the joys of using the King James Version is those dreaded thees and thous that everyone seems to hate so much.  But they’re actually quite helpful in understanding what is going on in some Bible passages.  Here’s an example.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not… (Luke 22:31-32).

When the words “you” and “ye” appear in the King James Version, it shows that the original language is plural, a group of people.  The words “thee” and “thou” (and “thy”) indicate a single person being spoken to.  This is a distinction that is missing from almost all modern translations.  Taking that knowledge, let’s look at that passage again:

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you [apostles], that he may sift you [apostles] as wheat: But I have prayed for thee [Peter], that thy [Peter’s] faith fail not…

Jesus didn’t pray for all the apostles in the face of Satan’s impending attack on them.  He prayed for Peter, that Peter’s faith would not fail.

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Put that Snake on a Sign?

Did You Know?

It is interesting how many times the same words are used in Greek and Hebrew, but our English translations don’t bring it out.  Here’s one such example.

The Israelites are whiners.  Plain and simple.  And then finally God has enough of their nonsense, and sends fiery serpents among them, and those serpents start biting the Israelites, and people die.  Then they realize “Oh, we messed up!” and beg for Moses to do something about it.  So, Moses talks to God, and God tells him to make a brass serpent and put it on a pole.  Right?  Well, sort of.

The exact same word translated “pole” in Numbers 21 is translated as “sign” just five chapters later.  You might remember that Korah and company tried to rebel and overthrow Moses’ leadership.  Then Moses called for the ground to open up and swallow Korah and his crew alive.  It happened, and God said that this was done as a sign to the people.

The word in Hebrew almost always refers to something done or raised for others to see.  It is called a standard (a.k.a., battle flag), an ensign (a.k.a. flag of conquest), or a banner (you’re noticing a trend here, right?).

God told Moses not just to put the snake up on a pole, but to put it on a sign, raise it up for people to see the power of God, who through the snakes had declared war on the complaining Israelites.  The brazen serpent served as God’s battle flag.

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Non-Hebrew Writer of the Old Testament

Did You Know?

If you ask people—even Christians who read their Bible every day—to identify the biblical writers, they would probably all agree that the Bible (at least the Old Testament) was written by Israelites (which, today, is used synonymously with the word “Jew”).  Most Bible scholars will point out that Luke was probably a Gentile, but the near-unanimous opinion of all is that the Old Testament was written exclusively by Israelites.

Not so fast.

While that’s true for the most part, there is one chapter that wasn’t written by an Israelite at all.  And it is an inspired message from God.

To make it even more interesting, in many ancient copies of the book, this chapter is not written in Hebrew, but in the Chaldee language—the language of Babylon.

The author? King Nebuchadnezzar.  The chapter? Daniel chapter 4.

So, if someone ever asks you about the writers of the Bible, don’t forget to add that formerly heathen king who learned his lesson by being sent out to pasture (literally) by God.

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb