Tag Archives: Bible Interpretation

Bible Q&A – How did Jude Get Enoch’s Prophecy?

Question: How did Jude get Enoch’s prophecy, since it isn’t recorded in the Old Testament? Is the “Book of Enoch” inspired? And if so, why isn’t it in the Bible?—S.P.

Thanks for writing. This section of Jude (that is, verses 14-15) has caused perhaps the most discussion and confusion of any section of the entire letter. Is Jude endorsing an apocryphal book as being from God? If so, why isn’t it included in our Bibles today? Is Jude using an uninspired document as proof of what he’s been speaking? If so, how can we have any confidence of what is inspired and what isn’t? Is it possible that Jude is quoting something that truly happened, but just wasn’t recorded for us? There are so many questions, and each of them deserves to be answered.

So, let’s look at the text and answer the questions:

(14) And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

Enoch

There are a few things that Enoch is known for in the Scriptures. First, he was taken by God and did not see death. Elijah is the only other on in Scripture that was taken by God without having to suffer physical death. Second, he “walked with God” or “pleased God,” which is the reason why he did not see death (Gen. 5:22, 24, Heb. 11:5). Third, he was the father of Methuselah (Gen. 5:22).

So far as the Scriptures outside of Jude are concerned, this is basically all we know about Enoch.

The seventh from Adam

If there was any doubt about the one who gave the prophecy, Jude eliminates it here. The prophecy he is about to quote came from Enoch, the seventh in chronology, starting with Adam. In order, they are: (1) Adam, (2) Seth, (3) Enos, (4) Cainan, (5) Mahaleel, (6) Jared, and (7) Enoch.

Enoch…prophesied

This is extremely important to understand, because Jude is saying without a doubt, that this prophecy is from the Enoch mentioned in Genesis 5. And because Jude was written by inspiration of God, we can know that this prophecy was indeed given by the real Enoch who was taken by God before the flood.

Why is this important? It is important for multiple reasons:

First, there is no such prophecy recorded in Scripture.

Some people, in trying to explain how Jude could quote a prophecy that isn’t recorded, have said that perhaps Jude is quoting from some other Enoch. But Jude makes it clear that the Enoch he is quoting is the seventh from Adam. That objection is thrown out.

Second, because Jude has been accused of quoting an uninspired book as Scripture.

The Book of Enoch 1:9 says:

“And behold! He cometh
with ten thousands of [His] holy ones
To execute judgment upon all,
And to destroy [all] the ungodly:

And to convict all flesh
Of all the works [of their ungodliness]
which they have ungodly committed,
And of all the hard things
which ungodly sinners [have spoken] against Him.

If you read Jude 14-15, you will see a striking similarity between the two passages.

It has become fashionable to say that Jude is quoting from this uninspired book. But given that no one can pinpoint the date in which it was written (with guesses ranging from 200 BC to AD 200), it is just as likely that whoever wrote “the Book of Enoch” was quoting from Jude.

If Jude was quoting from the Book of Enoch, then he lied when he said he was quoting from the real “Enoch, the seventh from Adam.” Hopefully, you can see that the charge leveled against Jude is a serious one. If Jude was quoting from the “Book of Enoch”—written no earlier than 200 BC—then the book of Jude cannot be inspired, for it would be speaking a lie as though it were truth—proving it was not from God.

So, how this all be settled? Where did the information come from? Why is Jude 14-15 so similar to Enoch 1:9?

Here are some plausible possibilities.

Possibility #1: There was an oral tradition that Enoch had given this prophecy, though it was not ever written down in the Old Testament Scriptures. If indeed this is the case, then the prophecy of Enoch was passed down by word of mouth accurately for over 2500 years. While it is possible, it seems very unlikely that any oral tradition could be passed down for 2500+ years and remain anything close to accurate. However, if there was an oral tradition to this effect, then Jude was confirming its authenticity and application (by inspiration), and there would be no surprise that the so-called “Book of Enoch” would have included it.

Possibility #2: Jude was given this information directly by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This possibility assumes there was no oral tradition, but instead that Jude was given information that wasn’t in the Old Testament record. This should not be a surprise, because the apostle Paul was given the names of two Egyptian magicians who withstood Moses—even though those two men were never named in the Old Testament (see 2Ti. 3:8). This was information given by inspiration without any reliance on an outside source.

Possibility #3: The Book of Enoch, though uninspired, contained an accurate quote of Enoch which was afterwards affirmed by God through Jude. What must be kept in mind is that this does not mean that everything in the Book of Enoch is accurate. This is just like when Paul quoted from two uninspired poets. He was only saying that the part he quoted was accurate—nothing more (see Act. 17:28, Tit. 1:12). The problem with this is again that no one knows when Enoch was written (some guesses are as late as the second century AD—long after Jude was written).

Of the three, I am convinced that the second is the most likely, though the other two are possible.

-Bradley S. Cobb

(Note: the above information comes from our book, “Fight for the Faith: A Study of the Letter from Jude”)

Bible Q&A – What About the Thousand-Year Reign?

Question: A man was talking to me today about the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, and he said that some people don’t believe it will happen. Why would people ignore such a clear Bible doctrine?—Jack T., Oklahoma.

The main reason some people (like myself) deny the doctrine of a thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth is because it’s not in the Bible.

I’ll wait a second for you to calm back down before I continue. 🙂

There are several problems with the idea of a “1,000-year reign,” and we’ll only be able to deal with them briefly. The primary issue with each of them is that people have started assuming things that aren’t actually in the text, and then they’ve made them into doctrine.

The only place that mentions a thousand-year reign is in Revelation 20, and so it is to there we must go for our answers.

1. Jesus isn’t the one reigning for 1,000 years.

Let’s look at the text:

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4).

The subject of this verse is not Jesus. The subjects of this verse are those who had been martyred for the cause of Christ. It is they, not Jesus, who are said to reign a thousand years.

I’m sure that right now, you think I’m grasping at straws here, but let’s prove this assertion by way of an illustration.

Imagine you have lost your job and you need a place to live. So, I invite you to come live in my house. Now, let’s say you live there for almost three years (let’s say 1,000 days). I would say that you lived with me in my house for 1,000 days. Does this information tell you how long I lived in my house? No, it doesn’t. It only tells you how long you lived in my house with me.

Revelation 20:4 says nothing about how long Christ reigns. It only tells how long the martyred saints reigned with Him. The fact is, The Bible states that Jesus began reigning in the first century (Acts 2:32-33; Revelation 1:9; Colossians 1:13).

2. This verse is not literal.

How can you say that? Of course it’s literal! There’s nothing in the verse to make us think otherwise!!!

If this verse is to be taken literally (as is claimed by many well-meaning believers), then you have a really sticky problem:

Jesus has to die again.

Most people focus on the reigning part of this verse, and tend to ignore the living part. If the thousand years is literal, then that means Christ ceases to reign at the end of the thousand years—but more than that, Christ must also cease living.

Let’s also look at another problem this verse presents, if we are to take it literally. The only ones who are allowed to live and reign with Christ are the ones who have no head, and who were killed for the faith. That means that if you died a natural death, you can’t live or reign with Christ. This also means that if you were killed for the faith, but by some way other than beheading, you cannot live or reign with Christ.

And one more problem presented by taking this verse literally: the only ones allowed to live and reign with Christ are the ones who had already been beheaded for the faith when John wrote this down. This is written in past tense, speaking of something that had already happened.

So, if we take this verse literally, no one today (or for the past 1900 years) has any hope of living and reigning with Christ—and Christ has to die again. These conclusions are demanded if we take this verse literally. And these conclusions contradict other passages of the New Testament.

Therefore this verse is not meant to be taken literally.

3. This reigning is not on earth.

Go ahead and read all of chapter twenty. Nowhere in that chapter does it place Jesus Christ on earth, let alone Jerusalem. With so many doctrines existing about Jesus reigning on a literal throne in literal Jerusalem on the literal earth, you’d think those items would be mentioned here—but they’re not.

The kingdom of Jesus Christ existed during the first century. The apostle John said he was a part of it while he was alive in the first century (Revelation 1:9). The apostle Paul said that Christians had been (past tense) translated into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13). There can be no kingdom without a king. Since Jesus’ kingdom existed in the first century, Jesus was already a king in the first century.

Since Jesus was already a king 2,000 years ago, that means He’s been reigning over His kingdom for close to 2,000 years already. And He’s been doing it from the throne in heaven (Acts 2:32-33).

4. Revelation isn’t about things which haven’t happened.

The most common assertion about Revelation is that it is describing something that hasn’t happened yet. But that view contradicts what the Bible says about the book of Revelation.

God makes it extremely obvious that the things which are in Revelation are things that were “at hand” and “shortly come to pass” when John wrote itin the first century! The book opens with those statements (1:1, 3). The book closes with those statements (22:6, 10). It is the bold man indeed who calls God a liar by saying the things in Revelation are about things that were 2,000+ years away from the lifetime of the original readers.

Conclusion:

Jack, I do hope this helps you understand the topic better. The reason why some people (including myself) deny that there will be a literal reign of Jesus Christ on earth for a literal thousand years is that the Bible doesn’t teach it. Christ has been reigning from His throne in heaven for almost 2,000 years already. And the verses that people go to in order to “prove” the thousand-year reign don’t actually say what they claim.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Bible Q&A – Did the Apostles Expect Christ to Return During Their Lifetime?

Question: A man I was talking with told me that the Bible isn’t true because it shows the Apostles thought Jesus’ return would be during their lifetime. And that, since Jesus didn’t come back when they expected it (and still hasn’t), they obviously didn’t have any idea what they were talking about. Can you help me?–C.F. from Indiana.

Thank you for asking such a great question. Believe it or not, this is actually a common attack against the Bible. Unfortunately, though, many people who try to defend the Bible answer this attack in ways that are actually self-defeating. By that, I mean many of the answers that Christians give to this attack are actually in favor of the attacker!

Let me give you some examples. These are not quotes, but paraphrases of what some Christians have said in the past to answer this attack.

  • When they said that the coming of Jesus was “at hand” (that is, very close), the Apostles were just saying that we should live like Christ could come in our lifetimes.

Do you see that on one hand, these Christians acknowledge that the Bible says the coming of Christ was indeed “very close,” but then on the other hand, they deny what they just admitted.

  • The Apostles expected the coming of Jesus to be during their lifetime, but they were just humans and didn’t know everything. But that doesn’t affect the reliability of the Scriptures.

The problem with this argument is that by saying the apostles were mistaken, or just expressing their opinion on when Jesus would return, it calls the rest of the New Testament letters into question. After all, if a plain, direct statement such as “the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8) was just an opinion, how many other things are actually just opinion? It undermines the credibility of the entire New Testament.

What is just as unfortunate is that these arguments are used in Bible classes to “explain” (or better stated, “explain away”) these statements about the coming of Christ.

Let’s look at two things which will answer the question.

The First Thing.

the New Testament writers absolutely stated (by inspiration) that Jesus would return during the first century. There is no sense in denying these clear Bible statements:

  • “Therefore, YOU [first century Christians] be patient unto the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7).
  • “The coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:9).
  • “The end of all things is at hand” (I Peter 4:7).
  • “Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of THESE [first century false teachers], saying ‘Behold the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These [first century false teachers] are [present tense] murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaks great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 14-16).
  • “…Things which must shortly come to pass. …the time is at hand. …Behold He [Jesus] is coming [present tense] with clouds” (Revelation 1:1, 3, 7).

The New Testament writers believed Jesus would return very soon after they wrote. But this wasn’t just their guess or their opinion. This was an inspired message from the Holy Spirit! It was God Himself giving this message to the first-century Christians.

The Second Thing:

These statements of the imminent coming of Jesus Christ–the coming that the New Testament writers expected to come in the first century–weren’t about Jesus Christ coming at the end of time to destroy the universe. They were in regards to a different “coming” of Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 24, Jesus Christ talks about the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. He says that it will be the worst destruction to ever befall a nation in history. In fact He says there’s never going to be any national destruction worse than what would happen to Judah and Jerusalem (Matthew 24:21). Jesus also gives them a time-frame so they would know when to expect it: “this generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34). This destruction, prophesied by Jesus, would come during the lifetime of some of those who were listening to Him.

You might ask Why is that important? It’s because of this: Jesus describes this destruction, this judgment on the Jewish nation, as “the coming of the Son of man” (Matthew 24:27, 30).

This destruction, this coming of Jesus Christ in judgment on Jerusalem, happened in AD 70–and it is this coming of Jesus that the apostles spoke about as being imminent. This took place during the lifetime of some of Jesus’ original disciples.

The apostles knew what they were talking about, and they were right when they said that Jesus’ coming [in judgment on Jerusalem] was “at hand.”

When we understand that there’s more than one “coming” of Jesus Christ mentioned in the Bible (one of them imminent, the other one not imminent), this once-confusing “problem” disappears.

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – The Divisions of the Bible

Back after a few weeks’ hiatus, we are proud to continue our series on “Fundamentals of the Faith.”  And you might have noticed that we’ve moved this feature up a day.  Instead of “Sermon Thursday,” we’ll be having “Sermon Wednesday.”

Enjoy!  And, as always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know!

Introduction:

Everyone understands the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament…right?

  • The Old Testament is still binding today for all people.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today, but only for the Jews.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today, but only for Christians.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today except for the animal sacrifices.
  • The Old Testament is not binding on anyone today in any way.

OK, so there’s some confusion about the Old Testament; but everyone understands the New Testament, right?

  • The New Testament only applies to those who have become Christians.
  • The New Testament applies to all people.
  • The New Testament applies to everyone except Jews.
  • The New Testament begins in Matthew.
  • The New Testament doesn’t begin until Acts 2.
  • The New Testament didn’t really officially become effective until Jerusalem was destroyed.

Every one of these things are said by people about the two testaments in the Bible.  To say there is confusion about the Old Testament and New Testament is an understatement.

Today, we’ll look at the two divisions of the Bible, who they apply to, and why.

The two divisions explained.

We get the names “Old Testament” and “New Testament” from the Bible.

  • II Corinthians 3:14 – “…the reading of the Old Testament.”
  • This is also called the “first testament” (Hebrews 9:15, 18).
  • I Corinthians 11:25 – “this is the New Testament in my blood…”
  • See also II Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 9:15.

What is a “testament”?

This is the same as a covenant, an agreement between two or more parties.  There are two types of covenants: suzerainty and parity (don’t worry, you don’t need to remember the names).

A parity covenant is an agreement between two or more parties of equal standing.  It’s like a business merger.  God is never involved in these kind of covenants, because no one is equal to Him.

A suzerainty covenant is where the more powerful party sets the rules.  This is like the covenants the Roman Empire had with the nations it conquered.  Every covenant involving God is this kind; He is the powerful party, and He sets the rules.

So, when you see the word “testament,” think of the word “covenant.”

The two covenants (or testaments) were both given by God at different times.

The first covenant (the Old Testament), which is also called “the Law of Moses” (Malachi 4:4), was established by God in the book of Exodus (see Exodus 20) and includes all the commands and restrictions given in Exodus through Deuteronomy.

Exodus through Deuteronomy? What about the other 35 books of the Old Testament?

Genesis is the story leading up to the giving of the Law of Moses, beginning with creation, and going through the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose family is the focus of the rest of the Old Testament).

Genesis contained teachings and commands that would be the foundation of the covenant that was given (such as circumcision, tithing, animal sacrifices, etc…).  But they were not the Covenant itself.

The books after Deuteronomy give the history of Jacob’s family (the Israelites) after the Law of Moses (the first covenant) was given.  Joshua through Esther give, basically, a chronological history of the Israelites until the 400’s BC.  Psalms though Song of Solomon are writings of some of the famous Israelites mentioned in the historical books (primarily David and Solomon).

Isaiah through Malachi (the “prophets”) contain some historical narratives, but their primary focuses are (1) attempts to bring the Israelites back to faithfulness, and (2) prophecies of things that had not yet taken place including many prophecies about Christ and the church.

The new covenant (New Testament), which is also called “the Law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), was established by God in the book of Acts (see Acts 2), and includes all the commands and restrictions given in Acts through Revelation.

But what about the gospels? Where do they fit in?

Like Genesis, the gospel accounts tell the story leading up to a covenant.  They contain teachings and commands that would be foundational to the new covenant (such as “love one another,” faith, repentance, confession, baptism, and others).

The book of Acts is a brief history of the New Covenant people (the church) from its establishment on Pentecost until around AD 62.

The books of Romans through Jude (the “epistles” or “letters”) are like the books of prophecy in the Old Testament—written with two main focuses (1) to bring Christians to a higher level of faithfulness, and to a lesser extent (2) prophecies about events which had not yet taken place (some of the epistles—like Philemon—don’t include any prophecies).

Revelation is like the epistles, except that it focuses heavily on prophecy about things which had not yet taken place when it was written, but it still encourages Christians to a higher level of faithfulness.

There are two covenants in the Bible, both given by God.

The question before us now is…

Who do the covenants apply to?

Covenants made with specific people do not apply to those outside of that group.

The covenants made between the Roman Empire and the nations it conquered do not apply AT ALL to other nations.  China, which was never conquered by Rome, was never in one of those covenants.  You may say “that’s a big bag of duh right there,” but it is important we point this out.

Covenants only apply to the people who are involved in it.

But just as clear, we must point out that covenants apply to everyone involved in it.

If Rome conquered a nation, then every single person in that nation was now involved—no exceptions.

Covenants made for or at a specific time do not apply outside of that timeframe.

A covenant is an agreement that says “from now on, this is how things are going to be.”  It only becomes enforceable when it begins—not before.  And if the covenant has a cut-off date, it is no longer effective or enforceable after that date.

It’s like a football contract: the player cannot demand that the team pay him for the years he wasn’t under contract, nor can he demand that they keep paying him after the contract has expired.

You may think that this is so obvious that I shouldn’t even bring it up, but it needs to be said because of some of the confusion about the Old Testament and New Testament.

With these things in mind, let’s look at who the old and new covenants applied to.

The Old Testament was given to a specific people.  God had established a covenant with Abraham, then Isaac, and then Jacob to give their descendants the land of Canaan (Exodus 6:4-5).  In Exodus 20:2, God announces that He is speaking directly to the group of people that He had just led out of the bondage of Egypt.

  • What group had He led out of Egypt? The Israelites.
  • Who was God speaking to? The Israelites.
  • Was He speaking to anyone else? No.

Immediately after stating who He was addressing, God gave the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, all the Israelites, and no one but the Israelites.

God never commanded that Gentiles (non-Jews) follow the Ten Commandments or the rest of the Law of Moses—it was only ever for the Jews.

This Law of Moses was not intended to last forever—it was given for a specific period of time.

God, through Jeremiah, foretold that God would establish a “new covenant” with His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  God specifically states in that passage that it is not the same covenant as the one He made with them when He brought them out of Egypt.

When a new covenant is made, then any old ones are no longer valid.

A football player cannot play under two separate contracts with the same team at the same time.  Only one contract is valid.  So, when this “new covenant” was made, the old one was no longer valid.

Jesus said that the “new testament” (covenant) was in His blood—which was shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).  Christ’s blood was shed on the cross (John 19:33-34).

Jesus connected His death and remission of sins, saying it must first be preached in Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).  Remission of sins was first offered in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:38).

The New Testament (covenant) began on Pentecost—making the Old Testament no longer valid beginning at that point.

The only group that the Old Testament was ever binding on was the Jews, and that Testament was no longer in effect, starting on the Day of Pentecost after the death of Jesus Christ.  The Law of Christ—the New Testament—became effective beginning in Jerusalem on the same day.

It was first a covenant with the Jews only, but beginning in Acts 10 it was expanded to include the Gentiles as well.  See Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe: to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.

There are only two groups of people in the world, so far as Jews were concerned—Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles).  The New Testament applies to both groups, therefore it is a universal covenant.  It applies to every person—none are excluded.

Those who reject it are still subject to the punishments contained in it for disobedience, for breaking the laws.

Because there is only one Covenant in force today—and it is a universal covenant –THAT is the covenant we need to be most concerned about studying.

We still read and study the Old Testament, because it helps us understand God, how He works, His actions towards His people in the past, and for great encouragement from examples of faithful followers then.  But we need to remember that the entire purpose of the Old Testament was to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-27).

The New Testament is what we live under today, which is why we should focus most of all on its pages.

Conclusion:

The New Testament says that all have sinned, and thus all deserve death (Romans 6:23, 3:23).

The New Testament says that in order to become part of God’s family and receive the blessings of the New Covenant, you have to believe in Christ, repent of your sins, and be baptized to have those sins washed away.

After doing that, the New Testament commands that we continually strive for a life of greater faithfulness to Him, repenting when we’ve messed up (Acts 8:22), and keeping our focus on heaven so that we don’t lose what we’ve worked for (II John 8).

Make the decision to obey the New Testament of Jesus Christ today!

-Bradley Cobb