Category Archives: Bible Questions

Bible Q&A – Lost Books of the Bible?

Question: I keep hearing about “Lost Books of the Bible.”  Should these books be in our Bibles?—anonymous.

Thanks for the question!  I, too, once had the same question.  I have a book in my library that claims to be “Lost Books of the Bible.”  It sounds sensational, but the title is misleading.  When you hear about supposed “lost books of the Bible” on TV, radio, magazines, or internet, that’s also quite misleading.  Here’s why:

First, these books were never part of the Bible to begin with.  Books like The Gospel of Peter, or The Gospel of Judas, or any of a hundred more with similar titles were never considered part of the Bible.  There is no historical record—none whatsoever—that these books were ever put on equal standing with the Bible.  No Christian in history ever believed these books were actually part of God’s word.

Second, these books were written far too late to be an actual part of the Bible.  With only a few possible exceptions, every one of these supposed “lost books of the Bible” were written in the mid-second century or later.  Jesus told the apostles that He would guide them (the apostles) into all truth by means of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).  When we read what the apostles wrote, we will have the same knowledge that they had (Ephesians 3:3-5).  The apostles were all dead for close to 100 years before these so-called “lost books of the Bible” were written.  Any books written after the apostles died are not inspired by God.

Third, these “lost books” weren’t ever really lost.  They were known and mentioned by writers for hundreds of years after they were written.  The fact is, they weren’t really of any value, so people eventually stopped reading them or even mentioning them.  So, after a while people basically forgot they existed.  Then hundreds of years later, some archaeologists found some of these books in Egypt.  They were never “lost.”  They just got put away and never used again.

Something else you might find interesting regarding these no-so-“lost books” is this: One of the reasons Christians knew these books weren’t really from God is that a lot of them are ridiculous.  Take, for example, this quote from the book called The Gospel of Thomas:

Simon Peter said to them, “Mary should leave us, for females are not worthy of life.” Jesus said, “Look, I am going to invite her to make her male so that she too might become a living spirit like you males. For every female that makes itself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Women must become men in order to get to heaven?  Now you can see why it was never considered to be from God.

So, the things that people claim as the “Lost Books of the Bible” weren’t ever really lost, and they were never part of the Bible to begin with.

—Bradley Cobb

Bible Q&A – God is Very Pitiful?

Why does the Bible say that God is “very pitiful”? (James 5:11).  Doesn’t “pitiful” mean “pathetic”?—T.P., from Oklahoma.

Thanks for the question!  As I’m sure you’re aware, over time, some words can change meanings.  The word “pitiful” originally meant “full of pity.”  That means, you took pity, or compassion on someone’s condition and circumstances, and helped them.

On the other side of the coin, if you were that person who was in a horrible situation, you were to be “pitied.”  You’ve heard people say, “I don’t want your pity”?  They’re saying they don’t want to be viewed as someone who’s having a rough time who’s needing help.

Over the 400+ years since the King James Version came out, the word “pitiful” has come to be used to refer to the person who is to be pitied instead of the one who has pity on them.  In fact, people would think you were quite strange if you used the word properly and announced to the world, “I am very pitiful!”

So, while it is common for people to use the word “pitiful” as a synonym for “pathetic” or “to be pitied,” that’s not what the word actually means.  And that’s not what it meant in James 5:11.

If you want to know something really cool about this verse, then you’ll love this: The Greek word that’s translated “very pitiful” literally means “much-hearted”, or to say it in a more modern way, “has a big heart.”

Isn’t it great to know that God has a big heart when it comes to His people?

–Bradley Cobb

Bible Q&A – Disciples and Apostles

Here’s a brand-new question from the question box!  Let’s get straight to it!

What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?—Anonymous

That’s a question that I’m sure lots of people have.  Thanks for asking it!

A disciple is someone who learns from someone else and studies under them.  They follow that person’s teachings.  When Jesus was on earth, He had lots of disciples.  People followed Him around everywhere, wanting to learn from Him.  Of course, some of the ones following Jesus were just in it for the free food.  Those weren’t really disciples.  Those were moochers.

However, there were several people who were dedicated to studying under Jesus’ teaching.  They wanted to know everything they could from this great Master Teacher.  These were the disciples of Jesus.

One evening, Jesus spent all night on a mountain praying.  The next morning, He met with His disciples.  From among those many disciples, Jesus chose twelve men to be His primary messengers (Luke 6:12-13).  These men were named Peter, Andrew, James (the son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Thomas, Matthew, Bartholemew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Simon, Thaddeaus, and Judas.  These are the men who Jesus called the apostles.

So, a disciple is a follower, or a learner of someone else (John the baptizer had disciples, too—John 3:25).  The apostles were a special selected group of Jesus’ disciples.  All of the apostles were disciples of Jesus.  But not all of the disciples of Jesus got to be apostles.

But what is an apostle?

The word apostle means “one who is sent out on a mission.”  Jesus was called an apostle because He was sent by God with a mission (Hebrews 3:1).  Paul and Barnabas were called apostles because they were sent by the church in Antioch (Acts 14:14, see also Acts 13:1-3).  The twelve men that Jesus selected to be apostles were men who He was sending out on a mission.  That mission was to spread the gospel to the whole world, starting in Jerusalem (Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47).  All of Jesus’ apostles were given special abilities—miracles—so that they could prove that what they were saying was true (Mark 16:20, Acts 1:26-2:4).

An apostle of Jesus Christ was a special disciple, selected by Jesus and sent on a special mission.  Today, we can be disciples of Jesus Christ, learning from Him through His word, but no one today can be an apostle.

–Bradley Cobb

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Bible Q&A – Lord of Sabaoth

This is the first of what will (Lord willing) be an ongoing feature of TheCobbSix.com.  We plan on posting a new Bible Q&A each Friday.  Now, on to the question!

Why is God called “The Lord of Sabaoth” (James 5:4, Romans 9:29)?  I’m sure it means something, but I’m not sure what.–Anonymous

That’s a great question, and the answer may not be what you expect.  The word Sabaoth only appears twice in the Bible, James 5:4 and Romans 9:29.  Many people look at the word Sabaoth, and assume it is another spelling of the word Sabbath.  And so, most people just think that this is another way of saying “Lord of the Sabbath,” like in Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5.  But just because the words look similar doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

The word Sabaoth means armies.  The best way to show this is to look at one of the places where it is used.  Romans 9:29 says, “And as Isaiah said before, ‘Except the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we’d been like Sodom and made like Gomorrah’.”  Here, the apostle Paul quotes from Isaiah 1:9.  Except that, in Isaiah 1:9, it says “the LORD of hosts.”

“The Lord of Sabaoth” in the New Testament is the same as “the LORD of hosts” in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, the phrase “the LORD of hosts” appears 245 times.  This phrase describes God as the one who has the power to destroy anyone who gets in His way.  It means He’s the military God who can control the armies of heaven and earth.  When you understand this, and understand what was meant when God is called “the LORD of hosts,” it helps you get a better picture of what’s going on in the Bible.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘As My anger and My fury have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so will My fury be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse, and a reproach; and you shall see this place no more.’” (Jeremiah 42:18).

Do you see there how God identifies Himself as “the LORD of hosts” right before He promises to bring destruction?  Now, let’s go back to the New Testament and look at the other place where “the Lord of Sabaoth” is mentioned: James 5:4.

“Behold, the wages of the laborer who have reaped down your fields (which you have kept back by fraud) cries, and the cries of the reapers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”

Here, God is telling the ones who were oppressive to the poor that the God of destruction is coming.  He’s heard the cries of the poor.  And if you read the whole chapter, you’ll see that it was going to be bad.  Just a few years after this was written, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people who had been oppressing the poor Christians were killed or made into slaves by the Roman armies, led by God.

–Bradley Cobb