Poor vs. REALLY Poor

Did You Know?

We all remember the time when Jesus stood with His disciples, watching people come and go, and putting money into the collection box for the temple.  Then along came this poor widow, who put in two mites—a very small sum.  The Bible even calls her a poor widow (Luke 21:2).  But just how poor was she?

Luke calls her poor, the original word meaning “needy.”  She didn’t have enough to make ends meet, and was in need of assistance.  That was before she gave her two mites (which equate to 1/64th of a day’s wages—in other words, less than two dollars in today’s money).  But after she gave that money to the Lord, Jesus uses a different word for poor (Luke 21:3).  The word Jesus used means “reduced to begging,” or “completely destitute.”

In other words, when she came to the temple, she was poor.  When she left, she was really poor—completely destitute and broke.  And Luke makes that distinction for us.  Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

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A History of the Birdell-Noland churches of Christ

History is a hobby of mine.  Especially church history.  But I’m not alone in that hobby.

Joshua Dement, who lives and works in Northeast Arkansas, is quite the history buff as well, and he specializes in researching the history of congregations in his area.

Today, thanks to brother Dement’s kind permission, we will be presenting a portion of his research, showing the Restoration Movement in action in the planting of several congregations in that part of the state.

If you happen to have more information about the congregations or individuals mentioned therein, I’m sure Joshua would love to hear from you.  Send a note via our contact page, and I’ll make sure it gets to him (don’t want to just publicize his email address for the world to see, you know).

Until then, enjoy!

History of the Birdell-Noland Churches of Christ (Joshua Dement, 2014)

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The Evil Jonathan and His Righteous Ancestor

Did You Know?

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with Jonathan, the son of Saul, who was the bosom friend of David.  Jonathan comes across in the biblical narrative as a true friend, selfless, loyal, devoted to God and to righteousness.  However, there is another man named Jonathan in the Bible—one who is nothing like the friend of David.

In Judges 17-18, a man named Micah (not the prophet) had built an idol, and acquired the services of a Levite to serve as his personal priest (even though this Levite was not a descendant of Aaron).  This Levite claimed to speak to Micah on behalf of God, and in worship, apparently used an idol that Micah had built.  The Levite was treated very well for his services.

Later on, some men from the tribe of Dan came and stole the idol, and convinced the priest that it would be far better for him if he was priest of an entire tribe instead of just Micah’s house.  So, this false priest gladly went after the power and possessions that came with this new opportunity.  The problem is, he was violating God’s law by presuming to act as priest when he wasn’t of the right lineage, and condemning himself by being associated with idol worship.

This Levite’s name was Jonathan.  And though his actions were sinful and self-serving, it gets worse.  Judges 18:30 says “the children of Dan set up for themselves the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land” (ASV, ESV, NIV, etc.).  This Levite who completely disregarded the law of God was the grandson of the most famous Israelite in history—Moses.

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

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Job Prefigures Revelation?

Did You Know?

It’s well-known that the book of Revelation makes frequent reference to the Old Testament, especially prophetic themes and phrases.  But did you know that it actually makes a thematic reference to the book of Job?

In Job 40-41, God speaks to Job from the whirlwind (a whirlwind is loud enough, but can you imagine a voice speaking to you even louder than the whirlwind?!?).  God explains to Job that He is in charge, and can control things that humans can’t hope to.  As an example, God directs Job’s attention to two well-known creatures: the Behemoth and the Leviathan.  So, in essence, God tells His servant, “These two creatures you can’t control, I can.”

How does this fit in with the book of Revelation?  Simply this:  In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (known as the Septuagint, or abbreviated as LXX), which was the main Bible of the first century, the word “Behemoth” was the Greek word Therion; the word “Leviathan” was the Greek word Drakon.

In Revelation 12-13, we are introduced to two creatures that were causing great difficulty for the Christians: the Beast (as in “mark of the beast”) and the Dragon.  You’ve probably figured out the connection by now, but I’ll say it anyway: the word “Beast” in Revelation is Therion (just like “Behemoth”); the word “Dragon” is Drakon. In the book of Revelation, it’s made pretty clear that the servants of God had no hope of overcoming these creatures—but God tells them, in essence, “These two creatures you can’t control, I can.”

Thus, the book of Job is part of the background to understanding the book of Revelation.  Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

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More on the OTHER “Wee Little Man.”

In searching the website, I discovered that something was missing.  If you remember, last year, I started posting sections of my still-in-progress book on the people called “apostles” in the NT.  In that was a section on James, the brother of Jesus.  Apparently, the part that I had written showing the connection between James the brother of the Lord and “James the Less” (they’re the same guy) was left out.

So today, we remedy that mistake.

James the Less

Most writers believe that Mark 15:40 references the apostle known as James, the son of Alphaeus,1 but there is actually more evidence that the man called “James the less,” or “little James” is James, the brother of Jesus.

First, it is logical to assume, given that he identifies a woman named “Mary” by who her children are, that these children would have already been mentioned at some point in the gospel narrative.  One of those children is “James the less.”  Thus, we should be able to find someone named “James” earlier in Mark’s gospel account who could be identified with this man.

James, the son of Zebedee, is eliminated because (1) he is always called “the son of Zebedee” and connected with John, whereas “James the less” is connected with Mary and Joses; and (2) Matthew 27:56 shows that the mother of Zebedee’s children is a different woman than “Mary, the mother of James and Joses.”

Second, if we accept the logical assumption that Mark wouldn’t throw in a name at the end of the gospel unless it had been mentioned earlier (or was an important figure), then we have to account for his including the name “Joses.”  The “Mary” mentioned in Mark 15:40 is identified by the names of her sons: James the less and Joses.  Thus, we should be able to look back in Mark and find the name Joses.  We find it only once—Mark 6:3, which speaks of “Mary” and her sons “James, and Joses…”

Therefore, if we accept the premise (and we do) that “James the less” must be someone previously mentioned, then so, too, must Joses be someone previously mentioned.  The evidence fits perfectly that Mark 15:40 is describing the mother of Jesus, who was also the mother of James and Joses.2

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 See chapter on that apostle for more information.

2 Compare Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25, which put the same group of women together: Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary’s sister, Salome, the mother of Zebedee’s children.  It might be inquired, if this is accurate, why isn’t she called “Mary, the mother of Jesus” in Matthew and Mark?  It is because John mentions her while Jesus is still alive, whereas Matthew and Mark mention her after His death—thus, they identify her by her then-living children.

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The OTHER “Wee Little Man”

Did You Know?

Sometimes when reading the New Testament, you can get confused about who is being spoken of because of several people having the same name.  For example, two of Jesus’ disciples were named “Judas.”  In order to differentiate them, John called the non-betrayer “Judas…not Iscariot” (John 14:22).  There were two apostles named “Simon,” both of whom were called by surnames—Simon Peter, and Simon the zealot.

The fact that there are three prominent followers of Jesus named “James” necessitated that there be some kind of identifying marker given to distinguish them.  One was called “James, the son of Alphaeus,” one was “James…the son of Zebedee,” and of course there is James, the brother of Jesus.  But he is called “James the less” in Mark 15:40.  (Note: some scholars believe it is speaking of James, the son of Alphaeus, but I believe the evidence better supports the brother of Jesus.  More on that Wednesday, though.)

The word “less” in that verse is the exact same word used to describe Zacchaeus in Luke 19:3—little in stature.

So Mark describes the brother of Jesus as “Little James” or “Short James.” (poor guy)

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

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Lose a Tooth, Gain Your Freedom?!?

Did You Know?

In the Old Testament, God permitted the Israelites to purchase people as slaves (how and why this was done is a topic too large for this short article).  In the New Testament, God permitted slave-owners to retain their slaves.  However, God did give rules for how the master was supposed to treat his slave.  In the New Testament, masters were told to remember that they too had a Master in heaven (thus they were slaves to Jesus), and to treat their slaves accordingly (Colossians 4).

In the Old Testament, God gave instructions regarding the treatment of slaves, some of which are quite interesting.  If the slave was an Israelite, he had to be released—along with his family—at the year of Jubilee.  But did you know that in the Law of Moses, God states that if a master hit his slave, and caused that slave to lose his/her tooth, he had to release them from their slavery?  Exodus 21:27 says so.

I don’t know about you, but if I was a slave to a cruel master, that might not be a bad tradeoff!

-Bradley S. Cobb

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The Murder Plot That’s Usually Forgot

(NOTE: I have been asked to write short articles for the church bulletin at our new work.  Each one is a “Did You Know?” article, focusing on little-known facts in the Bible.  We will be posting those here each week–starting today–for your enjoyment.  Also, we are still in the process of house-hunting, and helping to improve the property at Jesse’s parents, which has limited how much posting I’ve been able to do here.  Thanks for sticking with us!)

Did You Know?

He was quite famous, a celebrity in Israel. The people flocked to see him, and because of him, many people believed. But the chief priests wanted him dead. Surely you know who we’re talking about, right?  Well, let me give you one last clue: a week before the cross, even Jesus came to see him!

The man is Lazarus.

In John 12:9-11, the Bible says that the Jews came not only to see Jesus, but to see Lazarus.  His resurrection from the dead was so impressive to them that many of them believed in Jesus as a result of seeing and talking to Lazarus.  Here was undeniable proof of the power of Jesus, and confirmation that He was sent by God with a mission—He could be the Messiah!

This was unacceptable to the chief priests, whose rejection of Jesus had already caused them to contemplate murdering Him (John 11:47-53).  But now they had Lazarus in their sights, ready and willing to put him to death as well.  Their mood certainly didn’t improve when the next day, Jesus enters the city and people spread the word about Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead at Jesus’ hand (John 12:16-17).

The murder plot to kill Lazarus is often lost among the many details of Jesus’ final week, but happen it did!  Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

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The Christian Minister’s Manual

Over the years, I’ve personally seen several different books with the title The Christian Minister’s Manunal.  One was by George DeHoff, another had Jim Bill McInteer’s name attached to it, and yet another was put out by Standard Publishing.

The oldest one I’ve seen (which is being added today to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary) was written by F.M. Green, a preacher in the late 1800s, who also wrote a biography of James A. Garfield.

This book was written as an aid for preachers in dealing with various things that come up in the life of a minister, such as:

  • Selection and Ordination of Elders
  • Church Discipline Problems
  • Marriages
  • Deaths and Sicknesses
  • Business Meetings
  • Lord’s Supper Preparation
  • and much more.

To read online or download for later, just click the link below:

Christian Minister’s Manual (F.M. Green)

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House Hunting and Meeting Christians

We looked at a house for sale yesterday, knocked on the door, and the woman politely informed us her house wasn’t for sale (that’s another story). I started by introducing myself and my wife, and said I was the new preacher at the church of Christ in town. She said, “oh, in Branch?” I said, “No, the one in Charleston.” She said, “I didn’t know there was one in Charleston. I’m a member at Branch.” (that whole “didn’t know there was one in Charleston” is another story too…)

After a twenty minute conversation (during which she suggested we could just move in with her so she could have company and not be lonely), we finally left, with a promise that once we found a house, we would come visit her.

I am guessing, from our short talk with her, that she hasn’t been able to attend lately, because she can’t drive any more, and none of the members at Branch live near where she lives. So I think we might see if she’d mind if we picked her up for church at Charleston.

That whole conversation never would have happened if we hadn’t introduced ourselves as members of the Lord’s church.

Don’t hide your faith, brethren!

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