Tag Archives: Did You Know?

Michael the Archangel

Michael the Archangel

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

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

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

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

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Two Mans (yes, I said “mans”)

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

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

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

-Bradley S. Cobb

Judas the Assassin?

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

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

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

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

-Bradley S. Cobb

Why did Artaxerxes Care?

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

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

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

Did You Know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Who was Jesus Praying About?

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

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

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

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

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

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Put that Snake on a Sign?

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

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

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

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

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

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Non-Hebrew Writer of the Old Testament

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

Not so fast.

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

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

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

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

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Faith Comes by What?!?

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When Paul works his way backwards from salvation to God in Romans 10, he says those “who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (verse 13).  He then asks rhetorical questions, “How can they call on Him in Whom they have not believed?  How can they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they be sent?” (verses 14-15).  He points out that preaching alone didn’t save people, then quotes Isaiah, saying “Who has believed our report?” (verse 16).  That word “report” is important to remember.

We all know the next verse: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

But did you know that this isn’t actually what the verse is supposed to say?  The word “report” in verse 16 is a noun.  It is a message, something delivered to people.  The word “hearing” in verse 17—in the original—is the EXACT SAME WORD.  That’s right, it is supposed to be a noun, not a verb.  Not only that, but there’s another word in the Greek that isn’t in most English translations—the word that means “the.”  Literally, this verse reads:

“So then the faith comes by (our) report, and (our) report (comes) from the declaration of God.”

Romans 10:17, instead of being designed to show a step in the plan of salvation, is stressing the origin of the message that saves: the faith (see Jude 3) comes from the message we preach, and that message comes from God.

(Note: the Modern Literal Version, and Young’s Literal Translation both make this point clear in their translations)

-Bradley S. Cobb

Peter’s “Love” Problem

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After Peter denied Jesus three times, he ran away and wept bitterly.  However, after Jesus’ resurrection Peter proclaimed his “love” for Jesus three times—and then got sad!  Why is that?  The Greek helps us to understand this conundrum much better.

When Jesus and Peter are walking together, in the last chapter of John, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  Jesus uses the word agape, which is a sacrificial love, a willing love, a higher love.  Peter answers back, “Lord, you know I love you.”  The problem is that Peter doesn’t use the same word that Jesus does.  Peter uses the word phileo (where we get “Phil-adelphia), which means like, or friendship, or warm affection.  In essence, Jesus says, “Peter do you love me,” and Peter’s response is, “Lord, you know I’m your friend.”

Jesus again asks the same question, using the same word as before, and Peter’s response is the same—still not willing to use the word agape to express his level of commitment to Jesus.

But the third time’s the charm, so to speak.  The third time Jesus asks the question, He says, “Do you like [phileo] me?”  Jesus uses Peter’s own word, and asks if Peter’s commitment is even that strong.  And the inspired Scripture tells us, “Peter was sorrowful, because [Jesus] said the third time, ‘Do you phileo me?’” (John 21:17).  Twice Jesus asks “Do you love me?” and the final time, He basically asks Peter, “Are you really even my friend?”  No wonder Peter was sad.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Poor vs. REALLY Poor

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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