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All About the Book of James

As a gift to our readers, we’re presenting here the complete introduction from Justified by Works: A Study of the Letter from James, by Bradley Cobb (available in print or eBook here).  Our regular Bible Q&A segment will return next week.  Enjoy!

Introduction

The book of James is unique among the New Testament letters. At first glance, like the book of Proverbs, it seems to be a disconnected series of practical godly living. Some, because of the content of the letter, rejected it as authentic. Others accepted the book but have denied the truths contained therein. Among those who believe in the inspiration of the Bible, there is more debate about the author of this book than any other (except perhaps Hebrews). There’s even disagreement about why and when the book was written. But even with all these disagreements, the letter from James is a goldmine of knowledge and practical application. It’s no wonder that James is many Christians’ favorite book of the Bible.

Who Wrote It?

All Scripture is inspired by God (I Timothy 3:16). As such, the author is God, who by means of the Holy Spirit inspired men to write down His holy word (II Peter 1:21). But now, the question before us is: what man did God inspire to write the book called ‘James’?

The name James is the same as the Old Testament name Jacob. In fact, in Greek, James is spelled Iacob (there is no letter J in Greek). The writer of this book was named after the great patriarch of Israel: Jacob.

There are four men in the New Testament who were named James. Three of them were holy men of God who spoke by inspiration. Each of these three have—to one degree or another—been suggested as the author of this book. But in order to narrow it down, let’s consider each one individually.

James, the brother/father of Judas

The only thing we know for sure about this man is that he was related to Judas, one of the twelve apostles (Acts 1:12-14). The Greek text literally says “Judas of James.” Almost every translation adds words explaining this phrase. The King James Version reads “Judas the brother of James.” The New King James Version reads “Judas the son of James.”

The King James rendering tries to make a connection between this Judas/James relationship and the words of Jude in Jude 1. The New King James rendering is more true to the original language, and appears to distinguish Judas the son of James from Judas Iscariot (something which the original writers thought was necessary—John 14:22).

No one has seriously considered this man as the author of the book of James for the following reasons:

  • No one knows if the man was living or dead when Jesus chose His disciples.
  • No one knows if this man (if he was still alive) ever became a Christian.

In short, there is nothing in the Scriptures to suggest that this man could have been the inspired writer of James.

James, the son of Zebedee.

This man was among the first of Jesus’ disciples (Mark 1:19-20), and one of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). He was a fisherman by trade, the brother of the apostle John (who wrote five New Testament books), and was one of Jesus’ closest friends. Only James, John, and Peter were permitted to go with Jesus to the mountain to witness the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-2).

This James is usually rejected as the writer because he was murdered by Herod around AD 44 (Acts 12:1-2). One has to wonder, however, why James couldn’t have written this book before his death. This question is even more applicable when you realize that many writers think this book was written very early (usually suggesting around AD 45).

Having said all that, this James was not the author of the letter called James. The contents of the letter demand a date after this James—the son of Zebedee—was killed. This will be covered more when we get to the section titled When Did He Write It?

James, the son of Alphaeus.

This man was an apostle of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:2-4). He was also the brother of another apostle, Matthew (or Levi), who wrote the first book of the New Testament (see Mark 2:14). It is generally agreed that he is the James mentioned in Mark 15:40. There, he is called James the Less. Literally, that verse calls him “James the little one” or “the short James.” It is the same word (mikron, mirco) that is used to describe Zaccheaus—the “wee little man.” James, the son of Alphaeus, was short.

Some people—mostly Catholics—have gone to great lengths to supposedly prove that this James is the same as the man known as James, the Lord’s brother (they say it means “cousin”). Guy N. Woods has shown beyond a doubt that this cannot be the case.[1] We can summarize his main points as follows:

(1)   The apostles had been chosen out of His disciples—those who believed in Him—but Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5). Therefore, none of Jesus’ brothers were apostles.

(2)   Jesus’ brothers are mentioned as a separate group from the apostles (I Corinthians 9:5, Acts 1:13-14). Therefore, none of the apostles were brothers of Jesus.

This James, being an apostle, would be a prime candidate to write inspired Scripture. The main argument against his being the writer is that he actually was an apostle. The man who wrote this book identifies himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The argument goes like this: since he didn’t identify himself as “James, an apostle of Jesus Christ,” then that proves he wasn’t an apostle. However, Paul didn’t identify himself as an apostle in four of his letters (Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, as well as Philemon). John never identified himself as an apostle in his letters or in Revelation. This argument carries little—if any—weight.

The second argument used against this man as the author is that nothing is known about him outside of the fact that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Barclay states it this way: “of James, the son of Alphaeus, nothing else is known; and he also can have had no connection with this letter.”[2] Shelly says, “So obscure a person could hardly have written this kind of letter, for the epistle of James presupposes the fact that its readers would know its author and heed its counsel accordingly.”[3] One man said that if this James were the one who wrote it, he would have given extra information to show that he was he James under consideration. This argument is an argument from supposition. It assumes that the apostle James was not well-known enough to have just identified himself as “James.” The early church would have been familiar enough with the apostles that if the apostle James had written them a letter, he wouldn’t have had to specify that he was James the apostle.

N.T. Caton, among others, takes the stance that James, the son of Alphaeus, is the man who wrote this letter. He states:

To these twelve men [the apostles] the Master had said: “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” I conclude, therefore, that the twelve were essentially ministers plenipotentiary [invested with the full authority of Christ]. They spake for the King, and when they spake it was the same as if the King had spoken. None others could be so rec­ognized.[4] [Bracketed explanations and bold font added.]

I have no arguments against James, the son of Alphaeus, being the author of this letter. However, I believe that another James is more likely.

James, the brother of Jesus Christ

This man, the son of Joseph and Mary—and thus the half-brother of Jesus—didn’t believe in Jesus during His earthly ministry (John 7:5). But something happened to radically alter everything he thought he knew about his older brother. After His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared in person to James (I Corinthians 15:4-7). James was a man convinced and convicted. He would have quickly gone to tell his other brothers (Jude, Joseph, and Simon) that they had been wrong. We know this because less than 50 days after the death of Christ, all of Jesus’ brothers were gathered with the apostles and other disciples of Jesus (Acts 1:12-14). After Pentecost, James was an integral part of the church in Jerusalem. He was called a “pillar” of the church there (Galatians 2:9), and was numbered with their elders by AD 49-50 (Acts 15:6, 13; 21:18).[5]

His work for the Lord was focused on the Jews (Galatians 2:9). His concern for the Jewish Christians can be seen in his conversation with Paul in Acts 21:17-26. He is mentioned by Josephus (a non-Christian Jewish historian in the first century) as one who was murdered by order of the Jewish high priest in AD 62. An early Christian historian, Hegesippus, —though he embellished parts of it—records that James was viewed in high regard by all Jews because he was frequently to be found at the temple on his knees praying for the Jews. Because of his unwillingness to show respect of persons, it is said that he was known as “James the Just.” This same historian records that James was cast from the pinnacle of the temple, but survived long enough to pray for his attackers before being stoned and then finally being beaten to death with a club. Hegesippus dates his death immediately before Vespasian’s army came against Judea (AD 66-67, though some believe this is speaking of the attack after Vespasian became emperor, which would place it in early AD 70). How much of this is truth and how much is embellishment is difficult to tell. Josephus, having no sympathy for the Christians, would seem to be the more reliable account. Either way, it is agreed by all sources that James, the Lord’s brother, was murdered because he was an outspoken Christian.

This James is the most likely candidate for the author of the book which bears his name. The following reasons are given in support of his authorship:

  • His ministry was to the Jews (Galatians 2:9). The book of James was written to a Jewish audience (James 1:1).
  • Because of his status and influence within the Jerusalem church as an elder (a status he shared with Peter and John), and being Christ’s brother, there would have been no question as to his authority in writing this letter.
  • What we read of James from Acts 15 and 21 shows that he was focused on practical application of God’s word. The book of James is almost exclusively devoted to practical applications of God’s word.
  • There are some specific Greek words and phrases that are only appear in two places: (1) Acts 15 in connection with the brother of Jesus, and (2) in the book of James.

o   “Hearken” – Acts 15:13 (spoken by James) and James 2:5.

o   “To visit” – Acts 15:14 (spoken by James) and James 1:27.

o   “Your souls” – Acts 15:24 (perhaps written by James) and James 1:21.

Outside of the Bible, the first mention of the authorship of James comes from the third century when Origen attributed the book to the brother of Jesus.

Some have argued against this James as the author, saying that the Greek in this letter is too far advanced for a Jew from Galilee. J.W. Roberts, a Greek scholar who taught at Abilene Christian College many years ago, spends a lot of time proving this argument false.[6] Basically stated, Greek was a universal language. Most first-century Jews would have been bilingual, and would have been quite fluent in it. Besides this, we are told nothing about the education of James. Can anyone say with any degree of certainty that James never worked on becoming proficient in speaking and writing Greek? It’s basically the same as saying that no one from Mexico could ever write something well in English.

It is James, the brother of Jesus (and of Jude—see Jude 1) that most likely wrote this book.

Who Did He Write to?

Like Peter and John, James directed his ministry toward the Jews (Galatians 2:9). It should come as no surprise, then, that his letter was addressed to Jews. However, this wasn’t written to just any Jews. James had a specific audience in mind when he wrote.

James wrote to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad” (James 1:1). Literally, this says “the twelve tribes in the dispersion.” The Greek word translated scattered abroad is diaspora. This is a technical word that meant “Israelites dispersed among foreign nations” (Thayer). The word only appears three times in the Bible. James 1:1, I Peter 1:1, and John 7:35. Each time it has reference to the Jews who lived in the Gentile nations. James was writing to Jews who did not live in the Promised Land.

Some have said that James was using the phrase “the twelve tribes scattered abroad” spiritually to refer to the Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. This is trying to force a figurative meaning on the words when a literal one fits the evidence. It should also be noted that James wrote to people who met in the synagogue (James 2:2—the word translated assembly is the Greek word sunagoge). The synagogue was a Jewish meeting place.

But the audience is even more specific than that. James was writing to Christian Jews who were scattered abroad. James wasn’t writing to non-Christians. This is obvious when you read James 2:1: My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality (NKJV). He couldn’t have called Jesus our Lord if his readers weren’t already Christians.

It is possible (especially if an earlier date is assumed—see below) that James is writing to those who had come to Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 2) and who had stayed in Jerusalem with the church. Many of these people were forced to flee the city because of the persecution brought on by Saul of Tarsus (Acts 8:1-4).

James wrote to Jewish Christians who were living outside of Palestine, throughout the Roman Empire. Interestingly enough, this is also the audience that both Peter (I Peter 1:1) and John (Revelation 1:4) wrote to as well.

When Did He Write It?

Most writers suggest a period of time between AD 45 (after the death of James, son of Zebedee) and AD 62 (when Josephus records that he was killed). There are arguments for an early date (45-50), as well as arguments for a later date (61-62). We will briefly consider both.

The Early Date (AD 45-50)

James, the brother of Jesus, isn’t seen as a leader in the church until after the death of James, son of Zebedee, in AD 44. Because of this, most people propose a date of no earlier than AD 44. Here are the arguments used in favor of an early date (note: compare these with the arguments for the late date).

  • Because there is no mention of Gentile Christians or the problems that were addressed in Acts 15 (AD 49-50), this letter was written before these things became an issue.
  • The persecution that the Jewish Christians were suffering (James 1:2, c.f. Acts 8:1-4)[7] was not as severe after AD 50, so it must have been written before that date.

If this letter was written in the 40’s, then it may well be the earliest of all the inspired letters.

The Late Date (AD 58-62)

Obviously, James could not have written the book after his death, so the latest possible date is AD 62. The evidence in favor of the late date is as follows:

  • There is no mention of the controversy surrounding the Gentile Christians, such as was addressed by James in Acts 15. Thus, this must have been written at a time when the controversy had settled down.
  • The persecution that the Jewish Christians were suffering was intense throughout the Roman Empire, specifically from other Jews (see Acts 17:5-7, 21:27-28, Revelation 2:9).

If you’ll notice, the main arguments for an early date are the same arguments used for the late date. J.W. Roberts stated:

There is really nothing decisive to settle the question. There is an 18-year period from 44-62 A.D. when the letter was most likely written. But the choice between the middle of the 40’s and the decade of the 50’s is difficult. This writer would incline to the latter date, but it is merely a feeling.[8]

Before we move from the discussion of the date, there is one more piece of evidence that must be considered. This evidence, in my opinion, is conclusive.

You also be patient. Establish your hearts: because the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:8)

The phrase “at hand” shows the nearness of something. The only coming of the Lord that was near in the first century was the coming of Christ in judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70 (see Matthew 24:1-34, especially verses 27, 30, and 34). This argues heavily for a later date (AD 60-62) and against an early date.

If Josephus is correct in dating James death in AD 62, then this book should be dated about 61-62. If Hegesippus’ dating of James’ death is correct, then this book could be written as late as AD 66-67.

Why Did He Write It?

This question is one that we should ask about every book of the Bible as we begin to study it. It is when we understand why it was written that we can begin to truly understand what it means and how it applies to us.

To Supplement Paul’s Epistles?

False teachers had been perverting Paul’s teachings, claiming that salvation is by “faith-only” and that “works have nothing to do with salvation.” Because of this (it is claimed), James wrote this letter to counteract these false teachers, and to show that “faith without works is dead.” While this is indeed possible, it is based mostly on guesswork.

It is interesting that these false teachings are still prominent in the religious world today.

To Encourage Practical Christian Living.

Many people are obsessed with learning, understanding, arguing, and debating things in the Bible. There are many Christians whose study of God’s word is barely more than an intellectual pursuit. People break off into groups based on their unique collection of theological beliefs. If you don’t believe it, go to a congregation and ask them which congregations that they have nothing to do with. Then ask them why. Many times, the answer is that the other congregations believe something differently.

In the face of such differences, James basically says that the true test of Christianity is not your theological beliefs, but on your actions.

Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).
After all, what is it that we will be judged on? The Scriptures never say that Christians will be judged based on their beliefs on eschatology or expediency. Instead, the Scriptures are clear that in the final judgment, we will be judged based on our works.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that which he has done, whether it be good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10).

Then shall the King say to them on His right hand, “Come you blessed ones of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Because I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.”… And the King will answer and say to them, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, my brethren, you have done it to me” (Matthew 25:34-40).

And I saw the dead ones, great and small, stand before God; and the books were opened…and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:12).

After reading these passages, you could imagine the following scene taking place at Judgment:

But God, how could you let HIM in? He believed __________!” God ‘s reply, “He gave his money to the poor, worked tirelessly in evangelism, brought many to Christ, and humbly repented any time he discovered he had sinned.”

In fairness, there are obviously certain things we must believe in order to be among the saved (believe in God, believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and believe that the Bible is His inspired word). But these are necessary in order to become a child of God.

James writes to get people to move from being an intellectual Christian to being Christian who shows his faith through his works.

Some Other Thoughts

When you get in the habit of living out your Christianity, it becomes more and more a part of you. It is quite possible that James was trying to get Christians in this habit because he knew that it would help make them more faithful. This is important when you understand that within three years, the Christians’ world was turned completely upside down as Rome and the Jews launched a joint attack against them—thousands upon thousands of Christians were ruthlessly murdered in the years that followed.

The conclusion? The time to get in the habit of living out your faith for Christ is now.

The book of James encouraged them, but it also encourages us to live a life of faith shown by our works. Don’t be a mental disciple, but be an active one!

James’ Place in the Bible

It has been argued by some that James wasn’t really inspired, and they give different reasons for this assertion. Some say that James contradicts Paul, therefore James isn’t inspired. The truth of the matter is that James contradicts what people have claimed Paul taught. James and Paul are in perfect harmony with each other when you throw out the false idea of “faith-only” salvation.

Others make the claim that James wasn’t widespread in the early churches, so it couldn’t have been accepted as inspired. It’s easy to explain why copies of James may not have been widespread. The massive persecution which began in AD 64 wiped out entire Christian communities and all of their writings throughout the Empire. Since James was written in 61-62, there would not have been as much time for it to be copied and spread around. This is the same reason why there were not many copies of II Peter, Jude, Revelation, II John and III John found from that period.

There are several early writers who allude to James, and some outright quote his letter as authoritative Scripture. Some scholars have shown that some Christian writers as early as the first century (AD 80-99) based parts of their writings on the book of James.

Conclusion:

Regardless of when it was written and which James wrote it, this book is filled with practical, useful instruction that applies to every Christian’s life, every single day. The commands may not always be easy, but you can rest assured that they are right and that they are from God, given as a gift to the ones who are willing to accept them (II Peter 1:3, James 1:17).

 

[1] See Woods, Guy N., Gospel Advocate Commentary on James, pages 12-ff.

[2] Barclay, William, The Letter of James, Revised Edition, page 8.

[3] Shelly, Rubel, What Christian Living is All About (Studies in James), page 3.

[4] Caton, N.T., Commentary on the Minor Epistles, pages 5-6

[5] It should be noted here that the text of Acts 15 nowhere states that this James is the Lord’s brother. However, what we learn from Paul in Galatians 2 seems to indicate that the Lord’s brother was a man of great influence in the Jerusalem church. As such, the general consensus is that the James from Acts 15 is the Lord’s brother. But to be fair, it is possible that Acts 15 is a reference to James the apostle.

[6] Roberts, J.W., A Commentary on the General Epistle of James, pages 13-16

[7] Shelly, Rubel, ibid, page 6.

[8] Roberts, J.W., ibid, page 27.

Make it Personal Through Prayer

Yesterday, it was suggested that the first step in making your relationship with Jesus more personal was to study the Scriptures.  Today comes step two: making your relationship personal through prayer.

Studying is great for accumulating knowledge and building understanding, but it isn’t enough.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).

If we want to continue getting wisdom (the ability to apply knowledge personally), we must pray to God and ask for it!

Why, though?  Isn’t studying the Bible enough?

The answer to that question is NO.

Please understand, I am not saying that God will give us some knowledge that is not found in scripture, but he will give us better understanding and wisdom on how that knowledge applies to us.  The most intelligent person on the planet is still not even on the same playing field as God is.  God knows and understands infinitely more than us.  For like the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9).

Praying for wisdom goes hand-in-hand with studying God’s word.  The more you know about Jesus, the more personal your relationship will become with Him.  The more you understand about Jesus—His motives, His teachings, His life—the closer you will grow to Him.

While praying for wisdom is all well and good, there are more reasons to make it personal through prayer.  We are to be in constant contact with God.  Pray without Ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Going through difficulties with someone makes the relationship closer.

When you have a problem with something, who do you turn to?  Who do you tell it to?  A friend, right?  Whether it is your spouse or a friend you’ve known for a while, telling someone your troubles, problems, and concerns always seems to make things better.  This is especially when you have someone who understands what you’re going through.

Why are so many people willing to tell their troubles to a friend, but not to God?

Shouldn’t God be the first one we turn to with our problems and cares?  After all, he’s the only one who can actually do anything for every problem we have!

Constant contact makes for a closer relationship.

Imagine you met someone one time fifteen years ago, and then never heard from them again.  Then out of the blue one day, that person came up to you and said, “Remember me?  I’m John, your really close friend!”  Odds are pretty good that you would not agree with his assessment of your friendship.  After all, a friend—a really good friend—is one who you get to know, and who you talk to on a regular basis.

The same thing is true with God.  The more you talk to him (and listen to what he says to you through his word), the better friend you will have.  As the old saying goes, “To have a friend, you must first be a friend.”

Are you willing to say to God, “I’m sorry for not keeping in touch better”?  Why not start today to build up that relationship with Him.  Be in constant conversation with God.

–Bradley Cobb

Make it Personal Through Study

We would all love for our relationship with Jesus to be more personal.  By this, I mean that we really want to feel a closeness to Christ.  We want to truly feel the friendship of Jesus and know that we too are friends to Him.  But how do we do that?

First, make your relationship with Jesus personal through study.

From childhood, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (II Tim 3:15)

The scriptures can make us wise.  I’ve often heard wisdom described as the ability to apply knowledge to ourselves and others.  Obviously, if you want a personal relationship with Jesus, the first thing you have to do is have knowledge of Him.

How are we to even know who Christ is if we do not study the scriptures?  If you take away the Bible and any reference to the Bible, you are left with very little knowledge about Jesus Christ. Study of the Scriptures is the first step in having a truly personal relationship with Jesus.

But where did scripture come from?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Tim 3:16-17)

Now we see that all scripture came from God!  And in studying it, we me be complete, and fully ready and able to accomplish all the good that can be done!

Study  to show yourself approved to God, a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly dividing the word of truth. (II Tim 2:15).

All these verses show the benefit of studying God’s Word.  But how does that make it personal?  After all, many people study the Bible like they study for a history test.  They memorize the main names, places, and events and can rattle them off without much problem, but they still don’t understand the reasons for them.  Yes, they know Jesus was born and died on the cross, but do they know why?

When you study the Bible and look beyond just the people, places, and events you can start to see what you need to learn from it.  For example: Jesus died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for us.  Sin came into the world, and those who sinned deserved death.  God, in his grace, allowed animal sacrifices to be used in place of the sinners.  Then Jesus came to earth and allowed himself to be the ultimate sacrifice, and in doing so, ended all need for animal sacrifices, as well as paying the debt that we owed–that being our own lives because of our sin.  That’s pretty important.

What kind of person would go before the judge and say “Judge, I know this man has been sentenced to death for what he’s done, but I would like to take the death sentence in his place”?

Only a true, personal friend!

In reading and studying about Jesus and His death on the cross, we can see that He’s ready and willing to be a true personal friend to us.  In fact, Jesus declared His friendship to each one of us almost 2,000 years ago when He said, “No man has greater love than this: that he would lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)

Are we ready to make the same commitment to him?

-Bradley Cobb

Make It Personal

Have you ever heard religious people talk about making Jesus their personal Lord and Savior?  We all know that when you become a Christian, Jesus becomes our Savior and our Lord.  But why do they stress the word “personal”?  Is there something we’re missing here?  Let’s take a look at that today.

How can you tell if it’s personal?

Have you ever had someone say something that aggravated you?  Perhaps they insulted your favorite football team.  Perhaps they contradict you on politics.  Perhaps they spoke ill of your family.  Perhaps they even insulted you.  How did that make you feel?  Mad? Upset?  Why would that be?  It’s because those things are all personal to us.  Our family means a lot to us.  To some, college football is their life and to insult their team is to insult them.  If someone insults you, does it not hurt?  Is there something that gets you bent out of shape?  You know those things are personal.

Do you feel the same way when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain?  Or when someone speaks of the earth being here for billions of years (contrary to the Biblical record)?  Does it really bother you when people twist the Word of God around and lie about what it teaches?

If someone trashing you football team bothers you more than someone trashing the Bible, then something is wrong.   Your relationship with Christ is not personal.

Do you have a friend that you would always stand up for?  Perhaps someone you’ve known for a long time and would do anything for?  If someone called them stupid, or went so far as to even hit them, would you stand up for this friend?  Christ should be your best friend.  If you are not willing to stand up for Christ as He’s insulted, you do not have a personal relationship with Him.

You know the words of the song:

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, No not one, No not one!
There’s not an hour that he is not near us, No not one, No not one!
Jesus knows all about our struggles, he will guide till the day is done!

That’s personal!  We need to make sure our relationship with Christ is personal.

But how?

That is what we will cover over the next few days.

–Bradley Cobb

Bible Q&A – What was Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh”?

Question: What was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”?—anonymous.

Thanks for the question, and for reading! This is one of the most common questions that people ask. It’s often used as an example of what people call “unimportant questions.” But everything in the Bible is important. There’s no such thing as an “unimportant question” from the Bible.

Before we go on, it’s important that you come to this with an open mind and an open Bible. A lot of people say “no one knows what the thorn in the flesh is.” Others say, “It’s probably bad eyesight, but no one knows for sure.” We’re not concerned with what people have to say about it. We’re only interested in what the Bible has to say about it. So, open your Bible and let’s discover the answer for ourselves.

The “thorn in the flesh” is described in Second Corinthians 12:7-9. Please notice how Paul describes it:

  1. It is something physical (a thorn in the flesh).
  2. It is the “messenger of Satan.”
  3. Its purpose is to beat Paul (buffet, in King James, which literally means to hit or strike repeatedly. This indicates violence).
  4. It humbled Paul.
  5. It didn’t go away, even after Paul prayed about it.
  6. Paul calls it “my infirmities.”

Now, look back a chapter and let’s see what the context tells us. In chapter eleven, Paul is dealing with the Jews who were trying to undermine his efforts for Christ. These are frequently called “Judaizers” or “Judaizing teachers.” They were Jews who tried to take people away from Christ and back to the Law of Moses. Look what Paul says about them and their work against him.

  1. These Jews brought physical persecution (11:24-26, 32-33).
  2. These Jews are called “messengers” of Satan (11:13-15).
  3. These Jews attacked Paul with violence (11:24-26, 32-33).
  4. These persecutions kept Paul from exalting himself (11:30).
  5. These persecutions didn’t go away, even after Paul prayed about them (see the book of Acts).
  6. These persecutions from the Jews were called “my infirmities” (11:30, 12:5).

If you notice, everything that was said about Paul’s thorn in the flesh was said about the persecution Paul endured from the Jews—just one chapter earlier.

Based on the evidence and the context, Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was the continual persecution from the Jews who were trying to destroy Paul and the message of the gospel.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Christians, Be More Dedicated!

Many today seem to want to “get by” with doing as little as possible. It is this way in every facet of life. It can be seen at jobs, in families, and unfortunately in the church as well. Many¾perhaps most¾today do not have the dedication that is needed to make the church grow. There are numerous examples of dedication in the New Testament. The wise men traveled a significant distance to come and worship Jesus (Matthew 2:1-2, 7, 16). The Bereans were so dedicated to knowing the truth, they would not even take the apostle Paul’s word without checking in the Scriptures first (Acts 17:10-12). These were not even Christians!   Should not Christians, who know the truth, be even more dedicated than those in Berea?

The eunuch of Ethiopia was a man of true dedication (Acts 8:26-39). First, he traveled a significant distance (close to 900 miles round-trip) for the express purpose of worshipping God. Yet, there are those in the church who find it difficult to drive a short distance to gather with the saints to worship. For the eunuch, this journey would have taken weeks. This was a man who would not let an inconvenience stop him from worshipping God. Do Christians today look for excuses not to “go to church” (Hebrews 11:25)? This man did not see it as an obligation to worship God. This was his life. Can Christians say the same thing about their lives, or has their worship become a nothing more than a weekly obligation?

The eunuch was not only dedicated in traveling to worship, but he was also dedicated to studying the Word of God. On his way back home, he was still studying the scriptures (Acts 8:27-28). Can most Christians say after worshipping God on a Sunday morning that they are concentrating on God’s Word? This man of Ethiopia realized the importance of studying God’s Word. He could have been doing anything on the trip back to Ethiopia, but he showed by his example that his time was best used in studying God’s Word. Should not everyone follow that example?

The eunuch was also a man of great responsibility. He was in charge of all the treasure of an entire nation. This responsibility was secondary compared to his responsibility to God. Many today put their jobs ahead of God. Some will take a job, knowing that it will keep them from assembling with the church. Even in Jesus’ time, people rejected Him in favor of other “responsibilities” (Matthew 8:20-21). How many Christians have more “responsibilities” than the Eunuch? Yet he knew what was more important.

The eunuch was also dedicated to the truth. He pondered the scriptures that he did not understand, and he was ready to learn the truth about them (Acts 8:30-34). He was willing to admit that there were parts of the scripture that he did not understand. However, he did not say that it could not be understood. Some today throw up their hands at certain sections of Scripture, assuming that it there is no way of comprehending it. The eunuch was willing to ask someone who was more knowledgeable what the Scripture meant. He was so dedicated to the truth that he was not content until he understood it.

Finally, the eunuch was dedicated to obeying God. As evidenced by his traveling a long distance to worship and his studying on the way, the eunuch knew the importance of obeying God. He was dedicated to serving the Lord. The eunuch did not know about Jesus until Philip taught him. It is evident, however, that the eunuch believed. Because of his dedication to obeying God, he was baptized in order to become a Christian and be right with God. One might notice that the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. The reason for his overwhelming happiness was because he knew he was obeying God.

The eunuch never tried to just “get by” in his service to God. May every Christian take a long, hard look at themselves, comparing themselves to this example of dedication preserved for us by the Holy Spirit.

-Bradley Cobb

An Introduction to Lamentations

The twenty-fifth book of the Bible is one that is rarely studied, taught, or preached on. This is a shame, because of many reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that this is inspired Scripture. It was given by God through His prophet, Jeremiah. There are lessons which can be learned from reading this short book, and ones which can easily apply today. An understanding of the overall concept of the book will be very helpful in understanding the book itself.

Its Setting

It’s 586 BC, and Jerusalem, the pride of the Jews, has just been completely destroyed. God’s chosen people have been captured, some brutally killed in the streets of the city, and the rest taken as prisoners of war by Babylon. The temple, a place designed by God Himself for the purpose of having a place for the people to worship Him, was abandoned by God and left in burning ruins. The people are in disbelief, scared, frightened, but at the same time, they are blaming God for their calamity. While God did indeed bring it upon them, Jeremiah constantly pointed out to them that it was their own fault that they had been taken captive, and that Jerusalem had been destroyed.

Its Message

The Hebrew title for this book translates literally “How?” It is the first word of chapters 1, 2, and 4. It crystallizes the message of the book well. Jeremiah had been preaching for around 40 years to a people who would not listen. He had prophesied many times that Babylon would come destroy Jerusalem and take them captive, but no one would repent and do the things necessary to avert God’s punishment. How could this have taken place? How could those who were supposed to be God’s people act like God’s message was unimportant? How could God’s people think that by giving Him lip service, they would be saved? Perhaps a better question is how can Christians live and act in the exact same way today? Because many Christians indeed act exactly this way as if God will save them as long as they show up on Sunday morning.

Its Structure

Though for the most part the chapters and verses in our modern-day English Bible were added long after the books were written, the Lamentations of Jeremiah are an exception. This is a collection of five distinct Hebrew poems, each with specific verse divisions within themselves. In all but chapter three, the poems are 22 verses long, with each verse beginning with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. These verses are in alphabetical order in the Hebrew. Chapter three is alphabetical like the others, but instead has three verses for each letter (i.e., Verses 1-3 is the first letter aleph, 4-6 is bait, and so on). This same structure also appears in some of the Psalms, most notably Psalm 119. Because of the mourning done by Jeremiah in these five laments, at least one person has said he was “weeping from A to Z.”[i]

Its Chapters

These chapters have appropriately been termed “funeral dirges” by some, because Jerusalem has died. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of the destruction of Jerusalem. Chapter one deals with the fact of the destruction and the grief which came as a result. Chapter two deals with the anger of God towards Judah and their agony over the destruction of Jerusalem. Chapter three is a prayer for God’s mercy by Jeremiah, beginning with despair and ending with confidence in God. The fourth chapter describes the conditions during the siege of Jerusalem as well as the causes and consequences of the siege. The final chapter is Jeremiah’s prayer to restore Judah to a right relationship with God.

The final three verses of this book are appropriate in seeing the state of the people at this time. Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever and forsake us so long time? Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. But thou hast utterly rejected us, thou art very wroth against us (Lamentations 5:20-22). They feel forsaken, and say to God, “bring us back to you and we’ll stay faithful.” If only they had this willingness to be faithful when Jeremiah had been prophesying, they would not be in Babylonian captivity. Instead, since they rejected God, God rejected them. Now, Christian, are you being faithful to God? God has shown multiple times that He will indeed reject and destroy His people when they are not faithful to Him.

Examine yourselves as you examine the book of Lamentations.

-Bradley Cobb

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[i] Open Bible, Expanded Edition: King James Version. Introduction to the “Lamentations of Jeremiah.” (page 760).

Bible Q&A – Do We Have All the Apostles’ Letters?

Question: Could you expand on your answer about whether there are missing books of the New Testament?  Are you saying that we have everything the apostles wrote? Is it possible there other letters that we simply don’t have?anonymous

That’s a great question, and it really deserves an answer. After all, if we don’t have everything, there could be something important that God expects of us that we don’t know about! We know that the Old Testament mentions books and writings that we don’t have. However, many of those are mentioned simply as historical records and not God-inspired books. Other writings mentioned in the Old Testament might be references to specific Old Testament books, just under a different name. For example, 2 Chronicles 9:29 mentions “the book of Nathan the prophet…the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and…the visions of Iddo the seer.” This could very well be a reference to the books of first and second Kings.

But now, let’s look at the questions that were asked.

Do we have everything the apostles wrote? No, we don’t. How can I say that? I find it difficult—no, impossible to believe that 75% of the apostles never wrote anything. I also find it impossible to believe that the apostle Paul spends two years in jail in Caesarea and writes nothing during that time. Or that during his (minimum) two years—730 days—in jail in Rome, he only writes four short letters. But the fact that we don’t have everything that ever was written by the apostles shouldn’t make us concerned.

Here’s some things to consider:

1. Not everything the apostles wrote would have been inspired. If the apostle Paul gave Luke a list of scrolls to pick up from the Roman library, that wouldn’t have been an inspired list. So, even if we’re missing Andrew’s list of chores for his son to do, that doesn’t mean we’re missing anything inspired. Letters by the apostles of a non-religious nature would not be inspired, nor would there be any reason for them to be copied and passed on for 2,000 years. That’s why we don’t have any of them.

2. A different letter doesn’t mean it contained different information. Look at the books of Colossians and Ephesians. They are very similar in a lot of the things they discuss. Many congregations were dealing with the same kinds of problems. So, even if Paul wrote a letter to the church in Macedonia, that doesn’t mean it contained anything different from what’s in the other letters that we do have. If letters to other congregations were written by Paul or the other apostles, they would have been inspired, but they would have contained basically the same information as we have in the New Testament books.

3. We might actually have some of the supposedly “missing” letters. Many people point to the “Letter from Laodicea” that Paul mentions in Colossians 4 as a letter that’s gone missing. But many Bible students have suggested that this letter is actually the letter we call Ephesians, or possible Philemon (this will be addressed in a later Bible Q&A). So, it is quite possible that we have some of the letters that people think are “missing.”

4. Any supposedly missing letters were not ever recorded as existing. The early church (the first couple centuries after Christ) wrote a lot, and quoted from a lot of Scripture. So much so that it’s said, “if every copy of the Bible were destroyed, we could put it back together through quotes from the early Christian writers.” Every apostolic letter they mentioned or quoted from is contained in the 27 books of the New Testament. They never quoted from any other letters of Paul, Peter, Matthew, John, or any of the other apostles. This is because they didn’t have any others. If there were other letters, they were unknown to the church at large from the very beginning.

5. If we don’t have it, we don’t need it. God is powerful. God could rip apart the entire earth and then put it back together as though it had never happened. If God wanted us to have a specific letter, we’d have it. His word says that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God…so that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” and that God has given us everything “that pertains to life and godliness” (II Timothy 3:16-17, II Peter 1:3). God made sure that we have what we need. If there are other letters, they do not contain anything different or additional to what we already have. Because God is infinitely powerful, we can know that everything that He expects from us and commands of us is contained in the 27 books that are in the New Testament.

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Thursday – What is Baptism?

Thanks for joining us.  For the next several weeks on Sermon Thursday, we will be looking at things that we’re calling The Fundamentals of the Faith.  These are things that each Christian needs to know and understand so they can then help to teach others.  This week, we deal with the question, What is baptism? Enjoy!

Introduction:

Everyone knows what baptism means!  Some folks might say that, but they’d be wrong.  Instead, baptism is one of the things—religiously speaking—that is the most misunderstood by people.

Its substance is misunderstood. Some say it is baptism in water, others say it is only baptism in the Holy Spirit, others say both, and still others say it is just being baptized in the word of God.

Its mode (how it is to be done) is misunderstood.  Some say sprinkling, some say pouring, some say immersion, some say it is completely mental.

Its subjects (who is supposed to be baptized) are misunderstood. Some say babies, others say believers only, others say adults only, some say Jews-only, others say I can get baptized in your place for you.

Its meaning is misunderstood. Some say it is an outward sign of an inward grace, others say it is to add you to a denomination after you’re saved, still others say that it is an act of obedience which in turn saves you.

With all this confusion about almost every aspect of baptism, can we really know what baptism means?  Yes we can, by looking at the Scriptures.  Let’s empty our minds of everything we think we know about baptism, and let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

The substance of baptism (what one is to be baptized in).

Baptism is first mentioned in the book of Matthew, chapter three, when John the baptizer comes on the scene.

The Scriptures state that John baptized them in Jordan (Matthew 3:6).  This is the Jordan River.  John himself clearly stated that he baptized with water (Matthew 3:11).   When Jesus was baptized by John, He came “up immediately out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).

It is true that a baptism of the Holy Spirit is also mentioned, but that is one that would be performed by Jesus Christ—and Him only (Matthew 3:11).  So, we’ve got two different kinds of baptism mentioned in this chapter.  Are they both still valid today? And how can we know?

Ephesians 4:4-6 (which was written at least 25 years after Jesus died) says there is “one Lord, one faith, ONE baptism.” So, by the time that book was written, there was only one valid baptism.  So, which one is it?

Acts 8:35-36 (which took place after Jesus died) says that Philip began to preach Jesus to this man.  And after hearing Jesus preached to him, the man (a eunuch) said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”  Based on what he had been taught by Philip (who had been sent by God), the only baptism that was important to him was baptism in water.

I Peter 3:20-21 (written around the same time as Ephesians) says, “eight souls were saved by water, this corresponds to baptism which now saves you, too” (SENT).   The only baptism which matters is baptism in water.

OK, it involves water, but is it sprinkling? Pouring? Being fully submerged under water?

The Mode of baptism (how baptism is to be done).

Just calling something baptism doesn’t make it baptism.  Calling a rose a skunk doesn’t make it a skunk.  The word baptism has a meaning.  But, just to be sure, let’s look at how baptism in water is described in the Bible.

Acts 8:38-39And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Did you see what I saw there? Baptism requires going into the water and coming out of the water. That’s interesting.

John 3:23John was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there.

So, baptism requires much water. That’s noteworthy to remember.

Romans 6:3-4Don’t you know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him in baptism into death

Interesting. Baptism is described as a burial.

Put these things together:

  1. Baptism requires much water.
  2. Baptism requires going into the water and coming out of the water.
  3. Baptism requires a burial in water.

Just using what the Bible says, we can know that baptism is…

  1. NOT sprinkling water on someone (this doesn’t require much water, going into the water, nor is it a burial in water).
  2. NOT pouring water on someone (this doesn’t require much water, going into the water and coming out of the water, nor is it a burial in water).
  3. Baptism IS being completely submerged, immersed in water.  This requires much water, requires going into and coming out of the water, and it is a burial in water.

The Subjects of baptism (who can be baptized).

Ok, we’ve figured out completely from the Bible that baptism must be in water, and that it is being immersed, completely submerged in water and being brought back up; but who is eligible to be baptized?

Again, let’s not guess or use man’s opinion; let’s just look at what the Bible has to say about it.

Mark 16:16He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.

This verse makes it pretty clear that the person being baptized must be capable of believing (in Jesus Christ).

Acts 2:38repent and be baptized, every one of you.

This makes it pretty clear that whoever is baptized has to be capable of repenting (that is, realizing their sins and turning away from them).

Now I want you to consider something with me.

Babies are incapable of believing in Jesus Christ, and they don’t have the mental capacity to even understand what sin is.   Babies are not candidates for baptism at all, ever.

What about small children?  They are not old enough to comprehend their own sin, nor mature enough to understand what baptism is.

So, according to the Bible, who is eligible for baptism?

If you believe in Jesus Christ, and are willing to repent of your sins (and mature enough to understand what that means), then you are eligible for baptism.  Some people reach that point of maturity earlier than others. If you are an adult, you have reached that point. Teenagers—you want to be treated like an adult? Then you’ve reached that age as well.

The Bible teaches baptism is a burial in water, and the only ones it applies to are those who are old enough to believe in Christ and repent of their sins.

But what is the purpose of baptism?

The Meaning (purpose) of baptism.

I think we can all agree that if the Bible tells us baptism has a specific meaning or purpose, then that should end the discussion.

So, let’s let the Bible speak about the purpose of baptism.

Acts 2:38 – Baptism is “for the remission of sins.”  The word “remission” means “forgiveness.”  So, baptism is for forgiveness of sins.

Does that mean “because sins have already been forgiven” or does it mean “so that your sins can be forgiven”?

That’s a great question, and easily answered.  That verse says that two things (and both of them are commanded) are “for forgiveness of sins”—REPENTANCE and baptism.   Acts 8:22 says “Repent, therefore, of this, your wickedness, and pray to God, if perhaps the thought of your heart might be forgiven.

There’s no getting around it: God will not forgive sin without someone repenting first. So, when Acts 2:38 says repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, it has to mean so that your sins will be forgiven—because God will not forgive someone’s sins unless they repent first.

So, baptism is in order to have your sins forgiven.

Acts 22:16 – Baptism washes away your sins.

A very devout man was praying hard for three days, and God sent another man to him.  This man that God sent said, “why are you waiting, get up and be baptized, washing away your sins.”

Baptism is in order to have your sins washed away.

Mark 16:16 – baptism is for salvation.  He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.  That’s pretty plain.

I Peter 3:21baptism does also now save you.  There’s not really much comment needed there.  The Bible plainly states that baptism saves you.

The only conclusion that you can make from these verses is that you have to be baptized if you want to be saved.  There are many other passages we could go to which show this just as clearly.

What About You?

Now, perhaps is the time to ask the most important question—do YOU need to be baptized?

Perhaps you’ll say “I was baptized when I was a baby.” If a baby is baptized, then all that happened was that the baby got wet—because the baby had no sins to wash away in the first place. That baptism doesn’t match what’s in the Bible, and so it wasn’t really baptism.

Maybe you’ll say, “I was baptized when I was younger.” To that, I simply ask this: why were you baptized?  If you were baptized because you believed in Jesus and you knew you needed to be baptized in order to have your sins forgiven, then that is great!  However, many younger people are baptized because their friends were baptized and they didn’t want to feel left out.   Many younger people are baptized because they feel like it is expected of them.  Many younger people are baptized without really understanding why they were doing it.

If any of these describe you, then were you really baptized like the Bible says to be baptized?

Maybe you’ll say, “I was baptized in the Baptist Church” or some other religious group.  I have no doubt that you did it with the best of intentions.  In fact, I praise you for wanting to follow God’s will.  However, I have to ask you this: were you baptized for the reasons that the Bible gives?

  1. Were you baptized so that your sins could be washed away?
  2. Were you baptized for the purpose of being saved?
  3. Or did you believe you were saved before you were baptized?

You see, while these religious groups have many things that are praiseworthy, a lot of them say that baptism doesn’t save you.

But the Bible says it does.

They say that baptism is so you can be part of the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church or whatever church AFTER you’re saved.

The Bible says that baptism is what saves you—only one of them can be right.

So, the question that you have to honestly, sincerely ask yourself is this: If I was baptized for the wrong reasons, where does that leave me?

I don’t know about you, but that is not a predicament I’d want to be in.   The Bible speaks of a group of men who had been baptized, and thought their baptism was just fine.  However, they discovered that their baptism wasn’t the right baptism.  They were then baptized properly, having their sins forgiven.  You can read about them in Acts 19.

Conclusion:

My friends, don’t let there be any doubt about your salvation.  Don’t let there be any doubt about whether you were baptized for the right reasons. Right now, take care of it by coming to God, believing in Jesus Christ, leaving your sins behind, and being baptized according to the Scriptures. When you do that, you don’t have to ever doubt it.

Some of you might be thinking, “I’m not sure if I need to be baptized properly or not.”   To you, I say this: do it. Do it to be sure.

It could be that your baptism was proper in the first place, and you will just be getting wet—but you will have a pure, confident conscious.  But it could also be that you had good reason to doubt—and this would save your soul.   Please, come be baptized now!

Restoration Moments – An Example of Providence

This week’s Restoration Movement Moment comes from “Memoirs of Abner Jones” (written by his son), which will be in Abner Jones: A Collection (Volume 2), to be released later this year.

Abner Jones was convinced that the event which he describes here was an act of God’s providential care. Enjoy!

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It was in the spring of 1813, as I think— for the regular journal of Elder Jones is here interrupted — that he removed his family to Portsmouth. He found the church and society feeble, and religion in general in a very low state. His tarry in Portsmouth was but of two years’ duration, in which time, although not much occurred of interest to him, many memorable events took place. The war [of 1812], then but recently declared upon Great Britain by the United States, was raging fiercely on the New England coast, and Portsmouth suffered its full share of the excitement and evil. The place was completely blockaded by the British fleet for a number of months, and the inhabitants were greatly distressed, and lived in a constant state of terror. Alarms were frequent, and the town pre­sented the constant appearance of a besieged city.

Several regiments of troops were quartered upon the town, and provisions became exceedingly scarce and dear. Those who could leave their affairs, had already removed to a safer retreat, while many others were ready, with their household stuff already packed, to start at the first booming of the enemy’s cannon. Among these was Elder Jones.

When the enemy appeared off the town there were scarcely any bulwarks of defense to repel the attack of so formidable a foe, and I remember the consternation which prevailed. I think it was on Saturday. The next day the churches were closed, for the worshipers were all draft­ed to turn out and throw up redoubts on the most defensible points at the entrance of the town. There was a general turn out from all professions and avocations, and without respect to the day. In the evening, however, the churches were opened and thronged, and many a prayer was raised to the “God of battles,” that he would scatter their foes, and send them peace.

In the midst of all this distress, the horrors of the scene were dreadfully increased by an aw­ful conflagration, which burned down a large part of the town, and rendered many families, not only houseless, but penniless. Nearly three hundred dwelling houses were consumed, and nearly four hundred families were turned into the streets in one of the coldest nights of De­cember.

“It was,” says Elder Jones, who was an eye witness to the whole scene, and rendered very efficient help on the occasion, by his remarka­ble presence of mind and great activity in sav­ing property and life—and whose daring gener­osity nearly cost him his own life during that awful night—“it was indeed a deplorable sight. Whole streets presented a double line of flame, or a dark and confused mass of smouldering ruins. The goods and furniture either perished in the buildings, or were only thrown into the street to make a bonfire by themselves. Wo­men and children, with disheveled hair, and eyes that spoke too plainly their grief and terror, ran shrieking through the burning streets, either in search of some relative or friend, or too de­mented to have any definite object in view. Here was a distracted mother despairingly call­ing on her husband and children, there the heart-broken father and husband inquiring for his wife and children; and the little ones wandering to and fro, piteously crying for their parents. Some, again, were gazing on the ruin going on all around them in a perfect stupor of grief and sur­prise. No tear bedewed their cheek, no sound escaped the lips, no motion was made by any member of their bodies, and they started not at the fearful crash of falling houses, or the hoarse cry of the brazen-throated firemen.

“A police was organized as soon as the con­fusion would permit. Property was protected as far as was practicable, and all the children who were found destitute of protection were picked up and taken to a place of safety.

“Many were the maternal bosoms who mourned their little ones as dead, in the awful gloom of that memorable night. What a joy then to behold the scene which opened the morning of the next day! The children were all assem­bled in the town Hall, to the number of a hun­dred or more, and the crier sent forth with his bell to announce to all whose children were missing, that they were waiting for their appear­ance. Then flocked the weeping parents to the spot, hoping and fearing. Oh! what a meeting was that, and what pen shall essay the vain at­tempt to describe it! Not a child was missing and not one but found its parents. In all that dreadful burning not a human life was lost, and but one person suffered the fracture of a limb.”