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June 23, 2023

HIS Story Lesson 43

The Archaeological Study Bible presents many notes and articles documenting how archeology has again and again proven that the Bible does correspond to historical reality.


Chapter 43

Appendix of Misc Questions

Appendix of Miscellaneous Questions

  1. When did God come into being?

The question itself is actually misleading because of God’s eternal nature. God didn’t spontaneously appear. He has always existed. []

  1. Where did the account of creation mentioned in the Bible originate?

Moses wrote the book of Genesis which includes the creation account. Although the events of Genesis concluded three hundred years before Moses was born, he could have written about creation without having been there. Two possible sources of his information were by direct revelation from God (like the prophets) and by making use of records that were already in existence in Egypt where he grew up and was educated. []

  1. How do we know for sure that all the events in the Bible happened the way they said they did?

The Archaeological Study Bible presents many notes and articles documenting how archeology has again and again proven that the Bible does correspond to historical reality. There are other kinds of evidence that the Bible is true. These have to do with internal consistency and coherence. Although the Bible was written over many centuries by different writers, the messages it contains are coherent and consistent. The Bible presents a coherent theology and worldview and presents this material consistently. Moreover, the Christian worldview is robust, reasonable and grounded in history. []

  1. Does the Bible give all the details or does it leave some things out?

The Bible is God’s revelation to us. As such, God reveals what He wants us to know and that does not always include every detail. There are many mysteries in the Bible which I believe to be intentional on God’s part. If we really needed to know, God would have told us.

  1. Why did it take God six days to create the physical world?

Perhaps the question we should be asking is why did God take as long as six days? He is all-powerful and could have created everything in no time at all. The reason for six days is revealed in Exodus 20:9-11. God is telling us He worked for six ordinary days and rested one ordinary day to set a pattern for man—the pattern of our seven-day week which we still have today. [] 

  1. Where did the light in Day 1 come from since the Sun, moon and stars were not created until Day 4?

Scripture states that light emanates from God or the spiritual heaven of heavens or even other spiritual beings like angels, cherubs, or heavenly hosts even though they are often related as stars or beings with light capabilities (Job 38:7; Psalm 104:4; Acts 12:7; Revelation 1:2, 12:9). []

  1. Were Adam and Eve already grown when God created them?

Yes. While the Bible doesn’t specify the age of Adam at Creation, we know he was created as an adult because God assigned Adam work immediately from the beginning and gave him a wife on Day 6. []

  1. Why did God create the woman (Eve) out of man (Adam)?

God used Adam’s rib to form Eve—He used existing tissue and did not “start from scratch”—to show that Adam and Eve were of the same substance; she was made from the same “stuff” and was a bearer of God’s image and likeness, just as Adam was. The woman made of Adam’s rib was designed to be a companion and “helper suitable” for Adam. Eve, formed from a physical part of Adam, was truly his complement, an integral part of who he was. As such, she was a perfect companion. []

  1. Why did God place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden?

God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a choice to obey Him or disobey Him. Adam and Eve were free to do anything they wanted, except eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If God had not given Adam and Eve the choice, they would have essentially been robots, simply doing what they were programmed to do. God created Adam and Eve to be “free” beings, able to make decisions, able to choose between good and evil. In order for Adam and Eve to truly be free, they had to have a choice. []

  1. Why didn’t God strike Adam and Eve dead the same day they sinned?

Both physical and spiritual death resulted from original sin. The moment Adam and Eve sinned against God, their souls were separated from God, and their bodies began to die. Adam and Eve lost eternal life, were expelled from the Garden of Eden, and eventually experienced physical death. But praise the Lord. God did not abandon Adam and Eve. He provided clothing for them and allowed them to have children. He also promised “the seed of the woman” to crush the power of the serpent. []

  1. Did serpents crawl around on their bellies before Adam and Eve’s sinned?

In Genesis 3:1 we get a clue that the serpent was likely classified as a beast of the field, which is probably why beasts of the field were also mentioned in Genesis 3:14. What makes this an issue is that it was a land animal and/or flying reptile in general—hence, it moved by flying, slithering, or with appendages. But if it slithered already, what was the point of the curse and why compare it to creatures that had legs? []

  1. How did the earth populate after Adam and Eve? Who were all the wives?

If the race was to populate and fulfill the command of Genesis 1:28, there is little doubt that Adam’s sons and daughters had to have married their own sisters and brothers if the race was to populate the earth, but due to the purity of the race as evidenced also by the long length of life, there were no adverse effects as we see happening today. Gradually, as the effects of sin took its toll on the human race, marrying one’s own sister, etc., began to create hereditary problems. []

  1. Why do we not hear about prehistoric cavemen in the Bible?

The Bible does not use the term “caveman.” According to the Bible there is no such thing as “prehistoric” man, in that sense. The Bible gives no indication that Adam and Eve accidentally evolved from lower life forms. Nor does it give any explicit indication that there were human-like beings prior to man. The Bible does describe a period of traumatic upheaval upon the earth—the flood (Genesis Chapters 6–9), during which time civilization was utterly destroyed except for eight people. Humanity was forced to start over. It is in this historical context that some scholars believe men lived in caves and made use of stone tools. These men were not primitive; they were simply destitute. And they certainly were NOT half ape. The fossil evidence is quite clear: cavemen were human men who lived in caves. []

  1. Why do we have all of those genealogies in the Bible?

The genealogies help substantiate the Bible’s historical accuracy. These lists confirm the physical existence of the characters in the Bible. By knowing family histories, we understand that the Bible is far from a mere story or a parable for how we should live our lives. It is authentic, historical truth. The genealogies also confirm prophecy. Finally, the lists demonstrate the detail-oriented nature of God and His interest in individuals. Real people, with real histories and real futures. God cares about each person and the details of his or her life. []

  1. Do we know a timeline for events and characters mentioned in the Bible?

Yes. There are a lot of resources available that will provide this information such as

  1. Why are the ages of the various characters not a part of your story?

I mention people’s ages when I think it is pertinent to the story. For example, I mention that Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born and that Jesus was 12 when His parents took Him on a road trip to Jerusalem. Where the Bible doesn’t provide us people’s ages (most cases) it would only be speculation on my part.

  1. Why the emphasis on the sons? Why aren’t the daughters talked about much?

Old Testament Israel operated in a patrilineal culture like most nations of their day. This is centered around tracing ancestral descent, and therefore tribal affiliations and inheritances, through the male line. Daughters are mentioned occasionally but the cultural emphasis was generally on the sons. []

  1. Was there any punishment by God for Abraham’s relations with his servant girl Hagar?

No. God did not punish Abraham directly but He did allow him to reap what he had sown. Genesis 16:4 goes on to say, “And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.” From that moment on Hagar looked down upon Sarah and as we read the whole history of this household, we see that there was nothing but contention between these two women. Add to this the fact that when Abraham and Sarah gave birth to the promised child Isaac in Genesis Chapter 21, the son of Hagar hated Isaac and persecuted him. So, even though God did not personally punish Abraham, He did allow Abraham to reap the terrible consequences of taking matters into his own hands by taking another wife and bearing a child by her. Abraham suffered greatly in a divided house where jealousy, anger and persecution were common. []

  1. Ishmael was Abraham’s son. Why does God refer to Isaac as his “only son”?

At the time God said this He had already instructed Abraham to do as Sarah desired, and to cast out the troublesome Ishmael together with his mother Hagar. This then left Abraham with “one only,” in the sense of a familial relationship and a proper heir. []

  1. Is there a genealogy in the Bible for Esau?

Yes. It is contained in Genesis Chapter 36

  1. Jacob was a deceitful person. So why did God choose and bless him so much?

God’s continued blessing of Jacob was only because of God’s covenant promise to Abraham. That was an unconditional promise. So then, Jacob was the beneficiary of God’s grace. If you read the biography of Jacob, you will see that God did continue to work on Jacob’s pride and selfishness over time.

  1. Who were the people who sexually assaulted Jacob’s daughter Dinah?

Dinah was assaulted by a man named Shechem, a Hivite, whose father was the ruler of that region. The Hivites were one of the many Canaanite tribes that occupied the area where Jacob and his family lived at the time. []

  1. After Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, why is he still referred to as Jacob?

Although we may not know precisely why God and others chose to use the name of Jacob even after his name was changed to Israel, logical possibilities exist. It could be that he would no longer be thought of and called upon with the negative meaning of the name Jacob in mind (“deceiver”). Or, it might also be that implied in the statement is the idea of “simply” or “only.” That is, the patriarch would no longer only be known as “Jacob,” but as “Israel.” Both of these possibilities are perfectly reasonable explanations, especially in light of the fact that similar terminology is used elsewhere in Scripture. []

  1. Why would Jacob lie to Esau about meeting up with him at Mount Seir?

This deception is a negative commentary on Jacob. There are ironies here. Jacob’s first deception (that forced him to flee for his life) took place in Jacob’s domestic space. This latter deception takes place in Esau’s open country. While it was Jacob who had the mysterious encounter wrestling with a messenger of God, it appears that it is Esau and not Jacob who is the changed man. []

  1. Why is the blessing of a great ruler given thru Judah’s line instead of Joseph’s?

 The best and simplest answer is that Judah was selected for the chosen line based on God’s sovereignty and pre-election. []

  1. In Job Chapters 1 and 2, why and how can a holy God converse with Satan who is evil?

When Scripture says that Satan stood before God in Job Chapters 1 and 2, this is not the third heaven (the throne-room of God). This would be the second heaven (outer space). Isaiah 14:13 talks about this “mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Those “congregating” are angelic beings, and, according to the book of Job, they assemble frequently. It is somewhere in the universe, perhaps on some planet or other celestial body, that the angels give an account to and/or report to God concerning their activities. God meets these spiritual beings here. It is evidently where Satan answers to God regarding his mischief on Earth. []

  1. Do we have any idea where the Land of Uz, where Job lived, was located?

Uz is connected with Edom in Lamentations 4:21. The most plausible location, then, would be east of Israel and northeast of Edom, in what is now North Arabia. An early Christian tradition placed Job’s home in an area about 40 miles south of Damascus, in Baashan at the southeast foot of Mount Hermon. [NET Bible study notes]

  1. Why did God permit Satan to do bad things to such a godly man as Job?

The Book of Job is fascinating in that we (the readers) know the answer to this question while Job and his friends were never told why. Based on the conversation between God and Satan in Job Chapters 1 and 2, everything that happened to Job was to prove that Job really was a good, God-fearing man with integrity and not just a fair weathered follower of God.

  1. Where did the term used for God’s people, “the Hebrews” originate?

The origin of the term Hebrew itself is uncertain. It could be derived from the word eber, or ever, a Hebrew word meaning the “other side” and conceivably referring to Abraham, who crossed into the land of Canaan from the “other side” of the Euphrates River. []

  1. How was Pharaoh’s daughter able to pass Moses off as her own son?

There are many fictitious stories and speculations. The best answer is that God intervened. He allowed Moses to be raised in the palace right under Pharaoh’s nose. It begins with Pharaoh’s daughter intercepting the basket with Moses inside. God puts a deep compassion for young Moses in the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter. She then hires Moses’s biological mother to serve as his nursemaid. This is all more than coincidence. It is all part of a divine plan which involves the actions of compassionate Gentiles who are in the right place at the right time.

  1. Was Moses’s brother Aaron living in the same region when God called Moses?

More than likely Aaron was still living in Egypt with his family. God spoke to Aaron and told him to meet Moses in the wilderness. To his credit Aaron obeyed God and went. Moses told Aaron what God had said, including God’s instructions about the signs they would perform in front of Pharaoh.

  1. Did Aaron have same parents as Moses? How was his life spared from Pharaoh?

Yes, they had the same mother and father. Aaron was older than Moses and was not threatened by the decree of Pharaoh which took place at a later date. []

  1. Why does the Book of Exodus not identify which of several Pharaohs is which?

There are about ten Egyptian Pharaohs mentioned in the Bible, although most of them are not given specific names, and are not identified with historical Pharaohs. The best explanation for this is that the Egyptians themselves didn't mention the name of the reigning pharaoh when addressing him, or in most documents. []

  1. How did Moses (and Abraham, Jacob, etc.) carry on conversations with God?

On occasion God spoke audibly to some of His servants such as Moses, Abraham and Jacob. Sometimes He spoke in visions such as to Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Most of the time God speaks through His Holy Spirit and through His written Word, the holy scriptures, which He has preserved for us.

  1. If an Egyptian had put blood on their doorpost, would God have passed over them?

This is a hypothetical question, but I believe that God would have done so. Obedience to His command is the key here – “top line” action. Sadly, there is no indication in the Bible that any of the Egyptian people put the blood on their doorpost – “there was no house in which there was not someone dead” (Exodus 12:30).

  1. At the time of the Exodus did all the Israelites live in the same region of Egypt?

As far as we know they all resided in the land of Goshen where they had been living since the time of Joseph (Genesis 46:28). No resettlement of the people is recorded.

  1. How long would it have taken for all the Israelite people (1 million plus) to cross through the Red Sea?

It would take the length of the entire night time, about 8-10 hours. During this time a pillar of fire stood between the Israelite people and the Egyptian army. []

  1. While on Mount Sinai, how did Moses write down all the laws and instructions he was given by God?

Exodus 24:4 says that Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. This happened after he came down from Mount Sinai and told the people what God had said. He wrote down everything God had told him except for the 10 commandments, the “tablets of testimony,” which God Himself wrote (Exodus 31:18). The ancient Jewish tradition is that the Torah was written upon leather or sheepskin. Ink was made from a number of mixtures including soot, easily collected as a by-product of fire. []

  1. Why didn’t God lead Israel on a direct route from Egypt to the Promised Land?

There were several reasons for this: (1) To avoid hostile confrontations with many enemies on the way. The people were vulnerable having just been released from years in slavery and having many women and children; (2) By experiencing God's miraculous provisions of food and water in the wilderness God was teaching them to trust Him; (3) The people needed the time at Mount Sinai getting the Law and Ten Commandments and to establish their national identity as God’s covenant people; (4) To develop their character and strength as a nation through all the adversity they faced. []

  1. Why was Miriam struck with leprosy while Aaron was not?

One possible explanation is that God spared Aaron specifically so that he could intercede as Israel’s high priest, approaching Moses with a renewed recognition of him as God’s representative. If Aaron had been struck with leprosy, he would not have been able to function as a priest according to the laws in Leviticus. Another explanation is that Aaron was immediately repentant. He said to Moses: “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed.” []

  1. Is the bronze snake on a pole (Numbers Chapter 21) where our medical symbol originated?

 The widely recognized, universal symbol of medicine and health care, the snake-entwined staff is called the Rod of Asclepius named for the Greek god of healing (8th Century B.C.). But Moses’s brass serpent (15th Century B.C.) may well have been the inspiration for it. The connection between the two is this: Israel’s seafaring tribe of Dan was directly involved in back-and-forth commerce and relations with Greece and they established a presence in the Greek islands. The tribe of Dan was the most pagan of all the Israelite tribes. A tradition of pagan worship, related to a snake-entwined rod, may well have been passed on to the Greeks by them. []

  1. In Deuteronomy 17:17 what is meant by “[the king] must not marry many wives lest his affections turn aside”?

This was to prevent Israel’s kings from making alliances thru marriages to women of the surrounding pagan nations (a common practice in that day). Not being God-followers, these women could turn the king away from God and toward idolatry and superstition. As it turned out this is exactly what Solomon did and it led to his spiritual downfall. []

  1. When did the pillar of cloud and fire cease to be manifestations of God’s presence with Israel?

The pillar of cloud was no longer required after Israel settled in Canaan, for they no longer needed a token from God to direct their travels, giving “them light on the way they were to take” (Nehemiah 9:12). The manna had stopped the day after the Israelites ate the food from Canaan (Joshua 5:12). Perhaps the pillar of cloud and fire had completed its purpose about that time also. Notably, the account of the crossing of the Jordan River into the Land of Canaan (Joshua Chapters 3-4) does not mention Israel following the cloud. []

  1. Why do the Old Testament Israelites tear their clothes as a sign of mourning?

The ancient Jewish act of tearing garments as a sign of grief and mourning probably originated with Jacob after his sons told him that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

  1. How come so many people hate Israel and the Jews?

Historians have classified six explanations as to why people hate the Jews: (1) Economic -- "We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power." (2) Chosen People -- "We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people." (3) Scapegoat -- "Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles." (4) Deicide -- "We hate Jews because they killed Jesus." (5) Outsiders, -- "We hate Jews because they are different than us." (6) Racial Theory -- "We hate Jews because they are an inferior race." []

  1. What outside biblical sources corroborate the history recorded in the Bible?

There are many extra-biblical sources. First you have the early Christian writers like Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr; second are the works of Phlegon of Tralles, a 2nd C historian; third is Thallus, a 1st C non-Christian writer; fourth is the writing of Celsus, a 2nd C philosopher; fifth is Lucian of Samosata, a 2nd C Greek writer; sixth is Suetonius, a 2nd C Roman historian; seventh is Josephus, a 1st C Jewish historian; and eighth is Tacitus, a 2nd C Roman historian. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. []

  1. How long was the Period of the Judges?

It lasted only about 200 years. The period of the judges began after the death of Joshua in 1245 BC (Joshua 24:29) and continued until Saul was crowned king of Israel by the prophet Samuel in 1052 BC (1 Samuel 10:24).

  1. Do we know who wrote the book of Judges?

We do not know for sure who wrote the book of Judges because it does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that the Prophet Samuel was the author of Judges. Internal evidence indicates that the author of Judges lived shortly after the period of the Judges. Samuel fits this qualification. []

  1. What does the term “Messiah” mean?

The term Messiah comes from the Hebrew term mashiach. It refers specifically to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line who is expected to save God’s people and set up His kingdom and rule the earth.

  1. What happened to the people of the northern tribe of Israel after the Assyrians conquered them?

In 722 BC, King Tiglath-Pileser III of the Assyrians invaded and conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Later, Assyria relocated some of the people of the northern kingdom to other parts of the Assyrian Empire and replaced them with foreigners who had no ties to the land of Israel. After the Assyrian conquest of Ephraim, the northern kingdom ceased to exist and the tribes of Israelites who had resided there eventually lost their identity as members of Israel. They become known as the "lost tribes of Israel." There are many myths surrounding the location of the lost tribes today. Their mass migration has basically scattered them throughout the world. []

  1. Who were Asaph and Korah that are mentioned in the Psalms?

Korah is infamous for leading a rebellion against Moses in Numbers Chapter 16 and was killed by God for it. His descendants known as the “sons of Korah” (Psalms 42 and 84) distanced themselves from Korah’s negative legacy. They served as doorkeepers and soldiers with King David. Three descendants of the line of Korah go on to become great musical masters and pen the Psalms: Heman, Asaph, and Ethan. []

  1. Can prophecies have multiple meanings, both a near and a distant future fulfillment in mind?

Yes. Some prophecies in the Bible can have both a short-term (near) and long-term (far) fulfilment. In theological terms this is called “dual prophecy” or “duality in prophecy.” Isaiah 7:14 is just one of many examples of dual prophecy, fulfilled by a child in Isaiah’s day and by Jesus later. Another example is 2 Samuel 7:11-13 which was fulfilled by both Solomon (1 Kings) and by Jesus (Luke 1:32-33).

  1. Did Isaiah literally see God or was that only a vision he had of God?

God told Moses in Exodus 33:20: “You (Moses) cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.” Therefore, I believe that Isaiah, being a mere man, “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne” (Isaiah 6:1) in a vision that God showed him. If Isaiah had literally seen God with human eyes, then, based on what God told Moses, he would certainly have died right then.

  1. Why were the prophecies of virtually unknown men like Joel, Amos and Obadiah included as part of the Hebrew scriptures?

Just because we know very little about these men does not mean that they were not remarkable servants of God. They must have been. The very fact that God used them to declare His message and preserved their words through the centuries indicates their extraordinary character. This should encourage all of us “virtually unknowns”!

  1. Did Ezekiel and Daniel, the two exilic prophets know each other personally?

We know that Ezekiel and Daniel were in the Babylonian Empire at the same time and were around the same age. But they did not run in the same circles. Daniel served in the king’s palace in the capital city of Babylon. Ezekiel was in a different location. We know that Ezekiel was aware of Daniel because he mentions him three times in his writings. So, even though they were contemporaries of each other, it is doubtful that they knew each other personally. Daniel never mentions Ezekiel in his writings.

  1. In the book of Daniel why is it that Daniel is usually referred to by his Hebrew name (Daniel) while Daniel’s three friends are usually referred to by their Babylonian names (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego)?

It’s not clear why this is the case. It’s possible that the third episode, in which the three friends are the central characters (it’s also the last one in which they appear), is based on a Babylonian source, which would have used their Babylonian names, and they have simply been carried over. While the second episode does use their Hebrew names at the beginning, it uses their Babylonian names at the end; this might be to help create continuity leading into the next episode. Daniel, on the other hand, might have been known so well by that name by the book’s intended audience that the authors or compilers might have supplied his Hebrew name when their sources said Belteshazzar, but kept the Babylonian name in an “also known as” parenthesis. However, this is speculative; we don’t know for sure. []

  1. After the fiery furnace incident did the people continue to worship the golden stature? What happened to it?

History does not tell us exactly what happened to the golden image itself. Apparently, the incident recorded in Daniel Chapter 3 had a huge impact on the king and he put an end to the worship of it.

  1. Were Ezra’s actions in Ezra Chapter 10 calling for mass divorce of foreign wives God directed?

Yes. Ezra was following the Mosaic law which came from God. Though his actions seem harsh to us, they had a real spiritual purpose. The law prohibited God’s covenant people from marrying foreign wives because of the ungodly influence their idolatry would have on the nation. From the days of Joshua forward, marrying foreign wives was at the heart of the sins that eventually led to the fall of Israel and Judah. After the exile, at the dedication of the temple, some of the surrounding pagans repudiated their gods and joined themselves to the God of Israel. They became part of the nation of Israel and were welcomed to join in its most important festival. When they married ethnic Israelites, those marriages were not part of the problem that Ezra was dealing with. Ezra appointed men to investigate each individual situation. The guilty parties were determined to be Israelite men whose foreign wives had been given a chance to become Israelites but had refused. These are women who would have eventually led their husbands into the same uncleanness destroyed the society that godly leaders like Ezra were working to build. In these cases, divorce was directed. []

  1. Did the four Gospel writers know each other personally?

The simple answer is “probably yes.” Matthew certainly knew John because they were both Jesus’s disciples. Mark knew Peter who stayed in his home (Acts 12:12-14). Luke was a close associate of Paul’s. Paul in turn knew Peter and the other disciples. So then, these four men knew of each other; and being in the circle of Jesus’s early followers in Jerusalem about the same time, they more than likely met each other at some point.

  1. Why are the Gospels in the order they are?

The order in which the Gospels are laid out in our Bible’s today is of the Jerome Tradition. The Jerome Tradition places each Gospel in the Bible in the order it was understood to have been written. []

  1. What happened to unwed and pregnant Jewish women in bible times?

A betrothed woman who lay with a man that was not her intended husband, was punished as if she had committed adultery. According to Deuteronomy 22:23 she could be stoned to death. Mary of Nazareth, unwed and pregnant, knew the punishment she faced—stoning. She had nothing but the story of an angel to tell her parents and Joseph, the man she had promised to marry. Joseph would have been well within his rights—even within his duty—to expose her sin and witness her execution. []

  1. What was John the Baptist’s relationship to Jesus and when did he know that Jesus was the Messiah?

John and Jesus were cousins born six months apart and likely grew up together, so Jesus’ superior righteousness must have been evident to John. Therefore, as John stood in the wilderness calling sinners to receive a water baptism for the repentance of sins, surely, he would have been surprised to see his righteous cousin coming to him for such a baptism. John understood that Jesus was far more righteous than he, which explains why John exclaimed that Jesus should baptize him instead. Nevertheless, Jesus insisted on receiving baptism from John, and thereafter the Spirit descended on Jesus leading John to understand why Jesus was so righteous. It was at Jesus’s baptism that John first realized Jesus was the Messiah! []

  1. Did Mary and Joseph travel alone to Bethlehem?

In biblical times travelers were frequently threatened not only by flesh-easting lions, bears, and wild boars, but also by bandits, pirates of the desert and robbers. Facing such dangers, solitary travelers often joined caravans for protection. So then, Mary and Joseph likely joined up with a caravan for their own safety. []

  1. Were the nails driven in Jesus’s hands or wrists?

Some scientists have suggested that if Jesus was crucified on a cross, the hands would not have been strong enough to hold His weight. Therefore, they suggest that the nails were actually in His wrists, which are considered stronger and more capable of holding His weight. Others say that the hands would have been strong enough, considering that His feet were also nailed and would have supported some of His weight. While historical scholars are uncertain of the nail placement in Jesus’ crucifixion, the Bible simply says that Jesus had wounds in His “hands” (John 20:25-27). The Greek word translated “hands” is cheir, which means literally “hands.” There is no Greek word for “wrists” in the New Testament, even though some versions translate Acts 12:7 to say that the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. But the Greek word in this verse is also cheir. So, the nails may have been driven through Jesus’s hands OR His wrists. Both are possible and either one would be biblically accurate. []

  1. What kind of fish did Jesus’ disciples most likely catch in the Sea of Galilee?

Probably either Musht (which includes tilapia) or Biny (Barbels), part of the carp family. These are the most common larger edible fish found there. []

  1. Was the apostles’ selection of a replacement for Judas in Acts 1:21-26 directed and sanctioned by God?

With Judas having betrayed Christ and then committing suicide, the 11 remaining disciples decided to replace Judas with a new 12th disciple. The requirements were that the man had to have been with them the entire time of Jesus’ ministry, and to have been a witness of the resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:21-22). The 11 disciples proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (possibly the same person as Barnabas), and Matthias. The 11 disciples prayed for the Lord’s direction and then cast lots. The lot fell to Matthias. But was this God directed? The New Testament nowhere condones or condemns the way the apostles made this decision. God is sovereign. If it was not God’s sovereign will for Matthias to be chosen, Matthias would not have been chosen. Some have argued that, while it was God’s sovereign will (what He ordained) for Matthias to be chosen, it was God’s perfect will (what He desired) for the apostles to wait for Paul. But this is pure speculation. Again, the Bible nowhere condemns Matthias being chosen for the 12th apostle. Church history records that Matthias died as a martyr for Christ, as did all of the other apostles, except for John.

  1. In Acts Chapter 20 did the young man, Eutychus, who fell asleep while Paul was preaching and fell out the window actually die?

Yes. Though some do not believe that Eutychus died, Wayne Jackson observes the following facts: (1) the author Luke, a physician, plainly states that Eutychus was "taken up dead"; (2) after Paul embraces Eutychus, he says, "Trouble not yourselves, for his life is in him," not "still in him"; (3) Eutychus was then "brought alive" by which the others were "not a little comforted." These words would make no sense if Eutychus had not died; and (4) Luke was fully capable of describing someone as only being "supposedly dead" as he did of Paul in Acts 14:19, but he did not do so here in this passage. []

  1. Why are the New Testament letters in the order that they are in the Bible?

The letters of Paul are first because of his prominence in the early church. Paul’s 13 letters are in order by their length, the longest (Romans) to the shortest (Philemon). Hebrews is next because some believe Paul or one of his close associates wrote it. The General Epistles follow. They are grouped by who wrote them – James 1 letter, Peter 2 letters, John 3 letters and Jude 1 letter. In different periods of church history, the General Epistles were arranged different ways. Again, length comes into play here, James is the longest letter and Jude the shortest. []

  1. What is the definition of “gospel” as Paul uses it in Romans?

Paul presented his “gospel” as God's act of salvation for those who believe in Christ's death and resurrection. This salvation came to the Jews, but also, and equally, to the Gentiles. By allowing Gentiles into the promise, God has not rejected His people and has not abandoned them. God is, above all, just and righteous. []

  1. Was the church at Corinth the only church in the First Century dealing with sin issues in their church or were there others?

No, there were others. Based on the contents of their letters we know that the Galatian churches and the church at Ephesus also dealt with serious sin issues. Several churches of Asia Minor that are addressed in Revelation Chapters 2-3 also struggled with sin.

  1. What are the most likely possibilities for Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”?

Since he was not talking of a literal thorn, he must have been speaking metaphorically. Some of the more popular theories of the thorn’s interpretation include temptation, a chronic eye problem, malaria, migraines, epilepsy, and a speech disability. Some even say that the thorn refers to a person, such as Alexander the coppersmith, who did Paul “a great deal of harm” (2 Timothy 4:14). No one can say for sure what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, but it was a source of real pain in the apostle’s life. []

  1. Since as believers in Jesus we are secure in our salvation and no longer under condemnation, what are the consequences (if any) for our sin?

There are physical, emotional and spiritual consequences for a believer who sins. Physical – Sin can cause an internal conflict with God and us, leading to health issues and taking a physical toll on your body. Depending on the sin you battle with, it can affect your blood pressure, sleeping patterns or destruct your body depending on your lifestyle choices because of sin. Emotional – The Bible tells us that walking the wide road or the easy way leads to destruction. Interestingly, this goes beyond physical death and results in emptiness, hopelessness, and brokenness. Many have experienced guilt, depression and even suicidal thoughts due to the emotional consequences of sin. Spiritual – Sin breaks off our relationship with God.

  1. Was the stoning of Stephen by the Jews legal? I thought only the Romans had the authority to put someone to death.

The long and short of it is that the Jewish religious leaders did not have the legal right to exact the death penalty. However, Rome’s interest in enforcing that rule was subject to many factors, not the least of which was whether or not the incident was—in Rome’s view—worth pursuing. The stoning of Stephen by the Jews was technically illegal, but the Romans had no vested interest in the matter, and the temple leaders in Jerusalem rightly felt that Rome would not respond. Jesus, on the other hand, had caught the attention of many powerful people, and the Jews would not venture to violate Roman law by executing Jesus on their own. []

  1. You mentioned that the New Testament writers James and Jude were “half-brothers” of Jesus. What do you mean by this?

They had the same biological mother, Mary, but different biological fathers. Joseph was NOT Jesus’s father, God was. The Bible says that Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that she had no sexual relations with Joseph during her pregnancy with Jesus. 

  1. If Jesus is indeed the eternal Son of God and He and God the Father both existed since eternity past, how then could He be “begotten” from the Father. Doesn’t that mean that the Father came first?

“Begotten” is an English translation of the Greek word monogenes. That Greek word actually means "pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind." So then, the New Testament writers are highlighting Jesus as being uniquely God’s Son—sharing the same divine nature as God – as opposed to being “fathered” by God. []

  1. Could the destruction of the earth with fire as described in 2 Peter 3:10-13 be caused by a nuclear holocaust?

While a nuclear blast could technically destroy the earth, it does not explain what happens to the rest of the created cosmos, like Sun, Moon and stars. The destructive fire that Peter describes will be something supernaturally sent by God.

  1. Who is opposing Jesus, the church and Israel at the Battle of Armageddon in Revelation Chapter 19?

The armies gathered at Armageddon against Jesus include: (1) The beast’s (the antichrist’s) army (Revelation 16:13-14; 19:19). The beast’s forces will primarily come from Europe. (2) Kings from the east with vast armies (Revelation 16:12). This likely represents a conglomerate of Asian powers. (3) All nations, including mighty men of war (Joel 3:9-11). []

  1. During the 1000-year reign of Christ there will still be people on the earth in their mortal bodies (those who have not died and been resurrected and those who have not been raptured). For those who fall into this group and then come to faith in Jesus, what will happen to them?

The problem here is that the Bible does not tell us. But there are one of three possibilities: (1) Those who get saved will immediately be transformed into their eternal bodies and will never experience death. (2) Those who get saved will eventually die and at some point, God will raise them from the dead and transform them. (3) Those who get saved will live out their natural lives in their earthly body and then, when they die, will be transformed into their eternal bodies.

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Chapter 43: Appendix of Misc Questions