Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances. Proverbs 25:11




























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Abomination of Desolation. In a most important prophecy, the angel Gabriel revealed to Daniel a chronology of seventy sevens of years (Dan. 9:24-27). There is apparently an ongoing break between the 69 sevens of years and the final, or 70th seven of years. There is a "prince who is to come" who is the subject of Daniel 9:27. He is necessarily connected with a revived Roman Empire. We know this because "the people of the prince who is to come" would be the ones to "destroy the city and the sanctuary" (Dan. 9:26). This was fulfilled when the Roman army under General Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in A.D. 70. This yet future prince "will make a firm covenant with the many for one week" (i.e., a defined period of seven years). "The many" apparently refers to the people of Israel. Yet "in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering" (Dan. 9:27). Gabriel continued, "and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." This rather cryptic statement denotes something abominable that desolates the temple.

     In a preliminary fulfillment of this prophecy, the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem in 168 B.C. He erected an idol of Zeus and sacrificed a sow on the altar, thus desecrating it (see Constable's Notes on Daniel, p. 93). This idol became known to Jewish people as "the abomination of desolation." But Antiochus' abominable actions did not exhaust this prophecy. Jesus, in His "Olivet Discourse" concerning the end of the age, stated, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains" (Matt. 24:15-16). Flight would be necessary because then there will be "great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will" (Matt. 24:21). Jesus' prediction means that there will be a yet future fulfillment of the "abomination of desolation." Some contend that the destruction of the temple by Titus in A.D. 70 fulfilled Jesus' prediction. But the evidence does not support their claim.

     The Apostle Paul spoke further about this sinister event. He spoke of the revealing of "the man of lawlessness" also identified as "the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God" (2 Thess. 2:3b-4). So the ultimate fulfillment of the "Abomination of Desolation" will take place when the future False Messiah (Antichrist) enters a rebuilt Jewish temple and seats himself therein describing himself as "God come in the flesh," a diabolical misrepresentation of the True Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Thus violating his seven-year peace treaty with Israel, this man of lawlessness will embark upon a ferocious persecution of Israel. This apparently will take place during the last half of the Tribulation period.

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Abraham.  Father of the people of Israel; father of Arabs who are descendants of Ishmael; spiritual father of all who believe in God and His Son Jesus.  His initial name, Abram, means “Exalted Father.”  God gave him the name Abraham, “Father of Multitudes,” when he had only one son, Ishmael, who was not the child of promise.  Abraham was the man God singled out through whom He would bless the world.  The ultimate descendant of Abraham through whom God would bless the world is Jesus.

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Abrahamic Covenant.  God’s eternal, legal commitment to Abraham to bless him to bless the world through his descendants in their land. Go here for a complete discussion of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The foundation of the Abrahamic Covenant is God's promise as found in Genesis 12:1-3. (1) Abram was to depart for the land Yahweh would show him (Gen. 12:1).  (2) He would make of Abram a great nation (descendants) (Gen. 12:2). (3) He will bless Abram, and Abram is to be a blessing. He will bless those who bless Abram, and He will curse those who curse him. In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed (Gen. 12:2-3).

Once Abram settled in the land of Canaan (Gen. 13:12), Yahweh told him to look in all directions. All the land he could see, Yahweh gave to him  and his descendants forever. Yahweh would make Abram's descendants as innumerable as the dust of the earth. He was to walk through the length and breadth of the land (Gen. 13:14-17).

After Abram's daring rescue of Lot (Gen. 14), Yahweh promised to protect and reward him (Gen. 15:1). When Abram queried his lack of a biological heir, Yahweh promised him descendants as innumerable as the stars (Gen. 15:2-6). Then Yahweh declared he had brought Abram from Ur of the Chaldeans to give him "this land to possess it" (Gen. 15:7).  Abram asked how he could know this was going to happen (Gen. 15:8). Yahweh responded by formalizing His promise to Abram through a blood covenant (Gen. 15:9-11) in which Yahweh obligated Himself alone to fulfill it (Gen. 15:17). This means that the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional. The  features of this covenant were the northeastern and southwestern borders of the land which Yahweh had given to Abram's descendants (Gen. 15:18). It also specified the ethnic cleansing this would entail (Gen. 15:19-21).

When Abram was ninety-nine, Yahweh appeared to him and instructed him to walk before Him in blamelessness. Then Yahweh said that He would establish, in the sense of confirm, or implement His covenant with Abram. As a  sign of Yahweh's working, his name would be changed to Abraham, meaning "Father of a Multitude." This would be appropriate because He would make Abraham's descendants so numerous he would become "father of a multitude of nations." Nations and kings would issue forth from him (Gen. 17:1-6). The covenant Yahweh was establishing with Abraham and his descendants "throughout their generations" was to be an "everlasting covenant" (Gen. 17:7). Yahweh would give to Abraham and his descendants "all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession" (Gen. 17:8). In turn, Abraham and his male descendants and slaves were to bear the sign of circumcision in their male organs "for an everlasting covenant" (Gen. 17:10-14). God then revealed another sign. Sarai ("My Princess") was to have her name changed to Sarah ("Princess") in honor of the fact that royalty would issue from her. God would bless her and give Abraham a son by her. Then He would bless her and she would become a mother of nations and kings (Gen. 17:15-16). Laughing, Abraham requested that his son Ishmael might live before God. God said, "No." He revealed that Sarah would bear a son whom Abraham was to name Isaac ("he laughs"). God would establish His covenant with Isaac "for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him" (Gen. 17:17-19). Having heard Abraham's request, God would indeed bless Ishmael, multiplying him exceedingly, but His covenant He would establish with Isaac, whom Sarah would bear next year (Gen. 17:20-21). Later on, God authorized a parting of the ways between Abraham and Sarah and Isaac, on the one hand, and Hagar and Ishmael, on the other (Gen. 21:1-14). Comforting Abraham, who was deeply distressed, God assured him that it was through Isaac that his descendants would be named. Still, God would make a nation of the "son of the maid" because he also was a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 21:12-13).

As Yahweh had revealed (Gen. 17:15-21), Isaac was the Divinely chosen son of Abraham, and it was he who inherited the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 26:1-6). Isaac was to stay in the land. If he stayed in the land, Yahweh would bless him. He would give Isaac and his descendants "all these lands," establishing with him the oath He had made with his father Abraham. He would multiply Isaac's descendants as the stars of heaven, and would give his "descendants all these lands." By Isaac's descendants "all the nations of the earth" would be blessed."

When Jacob was fleeing to Syria to save his life and find a wife, Yahweh appeared to him in a dream as the God of Abraham and Isaac. He told him  that the land on which he lay, He would give to Jacob and his descendants. His descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and in him and his descendants all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 28:10-15).

The Abrahamic Covenant is the foundational covenant for both the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant. It would be with the descendants of Abraham's grandson Jacob that Yahweh would establish the Mosaic Covenant, the Law, known in Hebrew circles as the Torah.

Go here for a complete discussion of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Abyss. A deep unbounded place, location unknown, that serves as a temporary prison for certain fallen angels. Abyss is usually translated “bottomless," frequently in conjunction with "pit” in the AV. Evidently most fallen angels, also known as demons, are free to roam the earth. Certain demons begged Jesus not to send them into the abyss when He cast them out of the demoniac of the Gerasenes (Luke 8:31). Locust-like demons are presently imprisoned in the abyss, awaiting their release upon the earth in the Tribulation (Rev. 9:1-12). The false messiah, or Antichrist who is to rule the world briefly, is described as coming out of the abyss (Rev. 11:7; 17:8). Satan is thrown into the abyss and chained there for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3, 7), the duration of Christ’s Millennial reign. All fallen angels will ultimately be cast into eternal fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).

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Accusative Case. In NT Koine Greek, generally, the case of the noun that receives the action of the verb.

The accusative case is the case of the direct object, receiving the action of the verb. Like the other cases, the accusative has a wide variety of uses, but its main function is as the direct object of a transitive verb. The direct object will most often be in the accusative case. For example: "As newborn babes, long for the guiless [sic] milk of the word" (1 Peter 2:2). The word "milk" is in the accusative case and is functioning as the direct object of the transitive verb "long for" (or "desire") (Corey Keating, ntgreek.org, Accusative Case).

There are other instances, of course, in which there is, technically, no direct object in view. The Accusative Case can also designate the object of a preposition. For example, in Eph. 1:19, the greatness of God's power for believers is in accordance with the working ....." "In accordance with" translates the preposition katá (2596), and "working" (enérgeia, 1753) appears in the Accusative case as the object of the preposition katá.

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Active Voice. The aspect of Greek verbs that indicates that the subject of the sentence is performing the action of the verb. For example, in Eph. 3:17, we read, "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ...." "May dwell" is the Aorist Active Infinitive of katoikéō (2730). Since the subject of the sentence is "Christ," it is appropriate that the verb is Active in Voice, indicating that it is Christ who performs the action of the verb, and is the one who dwells in the readers' hearts by faith. In short, Voice indicates who is performing the action of the verb. The other two voices are Middle Voice and Passive Voice.

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Adoption. The act whereby God assigns the status of "adult sons" to certain individuals and groups. The Greek word is huiothesia (5206), which likely is a combination of the noun huios (5207), "son," and the verb tithêmi (5087), to "place," "make," or "establish." Accordingly, the NASB uniformly translates each of the 5 occurrences as "adoption as sons." The term does not precisely correspond with our English idea of adoption. In English, one can legally adopt an infant without granting the child an adult status. In Biblical terms, however, in huiothesia God grants his sons an adult standing with all the rights and privileges thereof. In Romans 9:4 huiothesia refers to the elevated status God granted the nation of Israel simply on the basis of Israelis being descendants of Israel (Jacob). (This adoption of Israelis as sons is reason enough, by itself, to reject the nondispensational notion of replacement theology, whereby the Church is said to supersede or replace the nation of Israel.) In Rom. 8:15 and Eph. 1:5, huiothesia refers to the adult standing as sons that God grants to all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, even irrespective of their relation to the Law of Moses (Gal. 4:5). In Rom. 8:23 huiothesia is seen as the fully mature and complete status that all of us believers in Jesus long for, and will one day be granted - the redemption of our bodies from all the deleterious effects of sin and death.

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Advent.  The coming of Jesus Christ into this world. 

First Advent. The First Coming of Jesus Christ into this world. At His First Advent, Jesus came to be Savior.  He was supernaturally conceived within and born of the virgin Mary, a descendant of King David,  in the town of Bethlehem just as had been predicted (Isa. 7:14; Micah 5:2; 2 Sam. 7:8-17; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20; Matt. 1:18-25). He became the Jewish Messiah when He was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:1-2; 42:1; 61:1) at His baptism (Matt. 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus passed with flying colors every temptation wherewith Satan attempted to disqualify Him (Matt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, He went everywhere in Galilee and Judea proclaiming, as God's ultimate Prophet, the Good News of the Kingdom, urging the Jewish people to repent preparatory to entering His Kingdom (Matt. 4:17, 23; 9:35; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; 8:1). He healed the sick and cast out demons (Matt. 4:23-25; 8:16; 9:35; 14:14; 15:30; 19:2; 21:14; Mark 1:34; 3:10; Luke 4:40; 7:21; Acts 10:38). But only a few of the Jewish people accepted Him as their Messiah (John 1:10-13), though multitudes were enthralled with His words and His miracles (Matt. 4:25; Mark 3:7-8; Luke 6:17; John 11:47-48; 12:17-19). The people as a whole remained noncommittal, and the hostile Jewish leaders, including the chief priests, scribes, and most of the Jewish Sanhedrin (Ruling Council), persuaded a mob to call for His crucifixion (Matt. 27:22-23; Mark 15:13-14; Luke 23:18-23; John 19:6, 15). Jesus died on the Jewish Passover (Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24-25; Luke 23:33; John 19:16-23) as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). After three days, God miraculously raised Him from the grave (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-48; John 20:1-29). He showed Himself alive to selected followers, commissioned His followers to be His witnesses (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8), and ascended to heaven (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11), where He sits in power at the Father's right hand, awaiting the moment when He is given the signal to return to earth, where His enemies will be made a footstool for His feet (Psalm 110:1; Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 26:64; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20-22; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:8; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; Rev. 19:11-21).

Second Advent. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ into this world. At His Second Advent, Jesus will return as Sovereign.  Jesus’ Second Advent is in two stages.  First, He will come to claim the Church as His Bride and take her back to heaven to be with Him.  This event is commonly called the Rapture. We call this aspect of Christ's return "Reunion." After at least a seven-year hiatus, called the Tribulation, Jesus will return with His Bride to conquer His enemies and reign as King of Israel and King of the world. We call this aspect of Christ's Return "Retribution." See The Second Coming of Christ for a much more extensive treatment of the subject.

Advent Season. That portion of the liturgical year which celebrates the First Advent of Jesus Christ into this world. The Advent Season begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25, the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive. Many churches use an Advent wreath with four Advent candles, the first of which is lit on the first Sunday, with an additional candle being lit each succeeding Sunday of Advent. Appropriate Scriptures are read in connection with the birth of Jesus, and appropriate Christmas carols are sung.

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Advocate. The role of Jesus Christ in representing believers as attorney for the defense before the Father (1 John 2:1, 2). The word translated "Advocate" (in the NASB) is the noun paraklêtos (3875). The word paraklêtos is used five times in the NT. Four of those five instances (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) refer to the Holy Spirit. This instance alone (1 John 2:1) refers to Jesus Christ. According to Friberg, the basic idea of this "verbal adjective" is "one called alongside to help." Friberg gives two categories of usage: "(1) as a legal technical term, as one who appears in another's behalf advocate, defender, intercessor (1 John 2:1); (2) as one who gives protection, help, and security helper, comforter, counselor (John 14:16)." Clearly, 1 John 2:1 presents Jesus' ministry here as an Attorney for the Defense before the Father. It is always best if a believer does not sin. But if a certain believer does sin (third class, hypothetical condition), we (plural) have a Defense Attorney or Counsel before the Father. And our counsel is not a sleazy lawyer. He is Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1). Not only is He a righteous Lawyer, He is a  self-sacrificial Lawyer! He offered Himself up as the propitiation (legal satisfaction) (hilasmos, 2434) for our sins (1 John 2:2)! Moreover, since His death has infinite value, He is the legal satisfaction for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2)! That fact puts to rest the contention of Reformed Theology that Jesus' death provided only for "Limited Atonement."

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AIDS. Acquired Immune Deficiency Sindrome.  Each person inherits a sin nature from his parents, traceable all the way back to Adam and Eve, our first parents.  Because of our inherited sin nature, each of us has a built-in tendency to sin, to violate God’s standards.  Sin leads inevitably to death.  There is only one cure, being born again through the power of God’s Spirit into the family of God by faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:11-13; 3:1-8, 16-18).

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Aliyah. The return of Jewish people to the land of Canaan, promised by God in perpetuity to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants. Ultimately, only those Israelis who submit to God's Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, will make their home in New Jerusalem in connection with the land of Israel in New Earth.

Before the fledgling nation of Israel ever entered the Promised Land the first time, God through Moses outlined the necessity of obeying the commandments (Torah) He had given them. When the people crossed the Jordan River, half the tribes were to stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people if they obeyed, and the other half were to stand on Mount Ebal to curse the people for disobedience (Deut. 27:1-13). The curses are contained in Deuteronomy 27:14-26 and resumed in Deuteronomy 28:15-19. The blessings for obedience are spelled out in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. The tragic consequences of disobedience (the specific terms of the curses) are spelled out in graphic language in Deuteronomy 28:20-68. Included in those consequences for disobedience are dispersion to foreign lands all around the world. This condition of dispersion and the ones so dispersed are called the Diaspora. Yet if the people, in the lands to which they had been banished, would repent of their evil, Yahweh will restore them back to the Promised Land of Israel (Deut. 30:1-5), and He will circumcise their hearts to love Him and serve Him (Deut. 30:6), and He will prosper them in their land (Deut. 30:7-10).

Historically, significant dispersions as a consequence of Israel's idolatry and disobedience have occurred a number of times. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria and taken into captivity in 722 B.C. There were no returns. The Southern Kingdom of Judah was conquered by Babylon, and the vast majority of Jewish people were deported to Babylon in three waves: 606, 597, and 586 B.C. This Exile lasted seventy years, as predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 25:12). At the decree of Cyrus, King of Persian in 538 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4), Sheshbazzar (likely the Babylonian name of Zerubbabel) led the first group of exiles back to Israel in 536 B.C. (Ezra 1:5 - 2:70). These exiles began reconstruction of the Jewish Temple (Ezra 3:7-13). In 458 B.C. Ezra the priestly scribe led a second wave of exiles back to Israel under the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia (Ezra 7:1 - 8:36). Ezra conducted what might be called a revival (Ezra 9:1 - 10:44). Nehemiah's return in 444 B.C., also under the reign of Artaxerxes I, marks a third return. Nehemiah led the returned exiles in rebuilding the wall of the city of Jerusalem (Neh. 1:1 - 7:73).

In a most significant event in Jewish history, Jesus of Nazareth offered Himself as Jewish King over a space of three years. The people of Israel rejected Him, crucifying Him as a blasphemer. Within forty years following Jesus' ascension to the right hand of God, the Roman army destroyed the city of Jerusalem and Herod's temple in A.D. 70. Within a few years, the Jewish people had been scattered over the face of the globe.

God, in His sovereignty, has engineered a series of Jewish returns to the land. But most of the Jewish people in Israel have made little pretense of a relationship with God, and even fewer have placed their faith in Jesus as their Messiah.

All that will change, and, perhaps, fairly soon. Isaiah 59:20-21. “A redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the LORD. “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from now and forever.” Romans 11:26-27. Historically, Jesus the Christ did die for the sins of Israel (and the world) in Zion. But national Israel remains in unbelief. Doubtless the time is coming when Jesus will return to Zion (Zech. 14:4) and will bring repentance to Israel (Zech. 12:10-13:1). He will gather all Israelis together from all over the world (Isa. 11:11-16; 14:1-2; 43:5-6; 49:22-23; 60:4, 9; Ezek. 20:33-34, 41-44; 36:24-36; Hos. 3:4-5 ). He will remove the rebels (Ezek. 20:33-38). There will be national repentance and national salvation (Ezek. 16:60-63; 20:43-44; Zech. 12:10-13:1), and redeemed Israel will assume its God-ordained role as leader of all the nations ( Isa. 60:10-14; 61:5,7-9; 66:23) under the global rule of Messiah Jesus (Isa. 2:1-4; Zech. 14:9; Rev. 19:11-20:6; 21:1-22:5)! What a glorious time that will be!

For an examination of Aliyah from a secular Jewish point of view, see Aliyah to Israel, published by the Jewish Agency for Israel; see also Aliyah to Israel: Immigration Under Conditions of Adversity by Shoshana Neuman. This Discussion Paper is published on line by IZA, the (German) Institute for the Department of Labor.

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Already Not Yet. The somewhat self-contradictory mantra proclaiming that aspects of Christ's kingdom are already here, but His kingdom to its fullest extent is not yet here. 

    According to George Eldon Ladd, Princeton theologian Gerhardus Vos first proposed this explanation of the kingdom of God early in the 20th century. Others cite Oscar Cullman. Ladd himself expanded on this representation of the kingdom in his book The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (first published in 1959, reprinted as a paperback in 1990). Ladd popularized his ideas in his book The Theology of the New Testament (published in 1974 and republished in 1993 as a paperback). Kingdom Theology and "Inaugurated Eschatology" are two systems that incorporate "already, not yet." "Already, not yet" has, in my view, gained widespread acceptance even in previously dispensational quarters because of dialogue between dispensationalists and amillennialists in the 1980's. As it typically occurs in a dialogue, one side compromises, but the other does not. In this instance, dispensationalists compromised their position. What came to be known as Progressive Dispensationalism began touting the line that Jesus was already seated on David's throne up in heaven. How Christ's throne up in heaven could be misconstrued as David's throne when David was only seated on an earthly throne has always been beyond my comprehension. 

    A variety of different groups within Christianity employ the mantra, "already, not yet," for different reasons. Charismatics use it to justify their perception of signs and wonders and the presence today of such gifts as healing and miracle-working. Amillennialists use it to justify their belief that there is no literal millennium, supported by a nonliteral exegesis of prophetic passages, including, but not limited to Rev. 20:1-6. Historical Premillennialists use it to justify their belief that we are presently in the kingdom of God. Progressive Dispensationalists use it to justify their belief that Jesus is already reigning as King, sitting on David's throne in heaven.

    Some of these groups, at least, base their theology on (what I believe to be) a mistaken interpretation that both John and Jesus stated that the "Kingdom of the Heavens" had arrived in the person and presence of Jesus (Matt. 3:2; 4:17, 23; 10:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9; 11:20). A careful reading of the text reveals that both John and Jesus stated that the kingdom of the heavens had drawn near, not that it had arrived. The state of having drawn near implied both a spatial nearness and a chronological nearness. But Jesus' offer of the kingdom to Israel was conditioned upon Israel's meeting the necessary requirements, including spiritual preparation and an acceptance of Jesus as king. The nation as a whole never met those requirements, and Jesus' preaching changed.He began to predict He would be killed (Matt. 12:38-40; 17:9, 12, 22). And He predicted what matters would be like in the intervening time between His First Advent and His Second Advent. The parables of Matthew 13:10-51 describe, in story form, the course of this inter-advent period. His presentation of Himself as Israel's King at His so-called "Triumphal Entry" (Matt.  21:1-11; Luke 19:28-40) turned out to be an exercise in Israeli apathy. Jesus Himself wept over the judgment to befall the city for not recognizing the significance of His visitation (Luke 19:41-44). In a few days Israel killed their King and asked for His blood to be upon them and their children (Matt. 27:25), the most ghastly prayer any leaders and parents have ever prayed. Jesus had been anointed by God to be King (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34), but He has never been crowned King. To this day that awaits the future (Zech. 12:10-13:1; 14:9).

    Scriptures can be adduced which demonstrate that the kingdom was still future from the vantage point of the speaker. Jesus predicted that when He sat upon His throne in the "regeneration," His 12 disciples would sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:27-28). That has not yet happened. The kingdom was still future then, and it is still future now. James and John, through their mother, requested that they would have prominent positions in Jesus' kingdom (Matt. 20:20-23). They expected Jesus' kingdom to appear in the (near) future. As Jesus and His disciples drew near to Jerusalem, He told them a parable to dispel their belief that His kingdom was going to appear any time soon (Luke 19:11-27). Later, Jesus stated that He would not sit on His glorious throne until the time would come when "the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him" (Matt. 25:31). Even more to the point, after Jesus' death and after His resurrection, He had to dispel His disciples' belief that He was, at this point, going to restore the Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:3-6). Jesus did not tell them they were in error, but that the timing of that event was the Father's business, not theirs (Acts 1:7). Meanwhile, their ongoing task was to recruit people for His kingdom (though He did not use those precise words) (Acts 1:8). They were to be His witnesses.

    What can we learn about the kingdom of God in the epistles? Michael Vlach has written an excellent article entitled, "The Kingdom of God in Paul's Epistles." In  the article he notes that, though Paul did not use the word "kingdom" in 2 Tim. 2:12, he presents Christ's reign as future (2 Tim. 2:10-13). In 2 Tim. 4:1 Paul associates Jesus' kingdom with His appearing (epiphaneia, 2015). In 2 Tim. 4:18 Paul is confident that the Lord will rescue him from "every evil deed" and will bring him "safely to His heavenly kingdom." Paul does not see either himself or his fellow Christians as already being in the kingdom. It is future.

    The writer of the book of Hebrews repeatedly argues, not that Jesus is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father as king, but rather as priest. He repeatedly emphasizes Jesus' present (high) priesthood (Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5-6, 10; 6:20; 7:11-28; 8:1-2; 9:11-14, 24-28; 10:21).

    So the proper conclusion is that Jesus' kingdom as the Son of David is wholly future. He has been anointed by God to be King, so He is presently the Messiah, the Christ. But He is not yet King. While He is presently in heaven He is performing His High Priestly duty of intercession (Psa. 110:4; Heb. 7:23-25), but He is not yet reigning as King. He sits at His Father's right hand, waiting until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet (Psa. 110:1). That will be fulfilled only when He returns to reign from Mount Zion here upon earth (Psa. 110:2). So we find that the mantra "Already, not yet" is an incorrect mantra. Jesus' reign must be upon the earth, not from heaven. Jesus is presently serving as Priest, not King. His Kingly rule awaits His return to earth.

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Amillennialism.  The theological position that denies the existence of a literal one thousand year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-6) upon the present earth from the present day city of Jerusalem.  The prefix “a” means “not” or “non.”  Amillennialism necessitates “spiritualizing” passages that expound prophetic themes.  Prophetic passages which speak of the glories of Christ's future kingdom (such as Isaiah 2:1-4; 11:1-10; 60:1-22; 61:1-9; 65:20-23; 66:18-23)  are said to be “figurative,” "metaphorical," "ideal," or “symbolic.” 

For example, there are those who claim that we are presently in Christ's kingdom here on earth, and that the reference to a thousand-year reign of Christ in Rev. 20:1-7 is merely a "symbolic number". (See "The Amillennial View of the Binding of Satan" by Rev. Carl A. P. Durham, employing that explanation in that passage.) (I might counter that, though numbers in Revelation may have some further significance in certain cases, all the numbers are meant to be taken literally. For example, seven angels means seven angels, not six or eight; seven churches means seven churches, not nine or ten; twenty-four elders means twenty-four elders, not thirty; and so one thousand years means one thousand years, not nearly two thousand and still counting.) 

Amillennialists use a hermeneutic based on their presupposition of New Testament priority over the Old. They thus take the position that any New Testament Scripture trumps Old Testament Scripture on any prophetic events. In this way they deprive the Old Testament prophecies of the distant future of their real significance. It is more accurate to say that NT Scriptures can expand on and amplify OT prophecies, but they cannot either alter or invalidate the promises and predictions asserted in the Old.

Amillennialists often lump many O. T. "eschatological" prophecies into the same time frame. This unfortunately results in irreconcilable anomalies, such as the portrayal of a detailed physical  temple in Ezekiel 40:1-46:24 versus the portrayal of no physical temple whatsoever as predicted in Revelation 21:22. C. J. H. Wright (The Message of Ezekiel, pp. 341-342) dismisses this irreconcilable difficulty as follows: "...it seems to me that Christian interpretations of Ezekiel which insist that there will yet be a literal and physical fulfillment of his vision by the actual building of another temple in Jerusalem, with accompanying miraculous transformations in the geography of Palestine to enable a river to flow down to the Dead Sea, are out of line with the New Testament’s own interpretation, which relates the prophetic hope to its messianic fulfillment in Jesus." In so doing he simply dismisses the irreconcilable anomaly with a wave of his theological wand of symbolism.

Amillennialism results in “Replacement Theology,” in which the present nation of Israel has no meaningful relationship to end-time events since, in the view of Amillennialists, the Church has forever replaced Israel.  Another term for "Replacement Theology" is "Supersessionism," which holds that the Church has superseded Israel. It is difficult to read Paul's apology for Israel in Romans 9:1-11:36 and make any sense out of it if, in fact, the Church has permanently superseded IsraelIf Amillennialism is true, countless passages like Isaiah 2:1-4; Isa. 11; Isa. 60, Zechariah 12:1-14:21, and Revelation 6:1-22:21 cannot be taken at face value – they mean something other than what the writers or the readers in the day they were written would have taken them to mean.  In the view of WordExplain, Amillennialism results from a faulty, inconsistent hermeneutic, or method of interpreting the Scriptures.

For a fairly succinct portrayal of eschatology and the end times from an Amillennial view point (written September, 1989), see "The 'End Times': A Study on Eschatology and Millennialism" - A Report on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. WordExplain does not agree with this study. For a presentation of "Inaugurated Millennialism," see The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary) by Gregory K. Beale of Wheaton College. His lengthy title for Revelation 20:1-15, as found on p. xv of the Table of Contents, reads as follows: "The Millennium Is Inaugurated during the Church Age as God Limits Satan’s Deceptive Powers and as Deceased Christians Are Vindicated by Reigning in Heaven. The Millennium Is Concluded by a Resurgence of Satan’s Deceptive Assault against the Church and the Final Judgment." As can be readily seen, Beale does not employ the term "Millennium", which means "thousand years" literally, as, according to him, the "Millennium" has already been inaugurated and we are living in it today. Already, according to Beale, we have been in the "Millennium" for nearly two thousand years, and we are still counting, for Christ has not yet returned. That, according to him, is the "Inaugurated" sense of the Millennium. Use whatever term he wishes, Beale is, nonetheless, Amillennial, since he denies Christ's future reign on the present earth from present-day Jerusalem for a thousand years. WordExplain, of course, does not agree with Beale's position.

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Ammon. Son of Lot by his unnamed younger daughter (Gen. 19:30-38). His mother called him Ben-Ammi (1151), literally, "Son-of-My-People" (Gen. 19:38), a name which echoes his incestuous origins. His descendants were called "Sons-of-Ammon" (Bene, 1121 Ammon, 5983) (Gen. 19:38). Ammon may mean "Son of my Kin." The hyphenated Hebrew "Sons-of-Ammon" is the typical manner in which the people of Ammon are identified in the OT. The designation is used 104X in the OT (for example, Gen. 19:38; Num. 21:24; Deut. 2:19; Josh. 12:2; Judges 3:13; 1 Sam. 12:12, etc.). The adjectival proper name "Ammonite" (Ammoni, 5984), is used much less frequently, 22X. [Hebrew word searches do not differentiate between the root of the masculine "Ammonite" (Ammoni, 5984) and the root of the feminine "Ammonitess" (Ammonith, 5985). With regard to the latter, in the NASB, Naamah is identified as "the Ammonitess" in 1 Kings 14:21, 31; and 2 Chron. 12:13; Shimeath is identified as "the Ammonitess" in 2 Chron. 24:26; and in Neh. 13:23, the NASB translation is "(women) ... of Ammon." The presence of Ketiv and Qere readings here conflates the number of Hebrew occurrences.]  

The original territory of the Ammonites was on the eastern border of, and adjacent to the Dead Sea, bounded on the north by the Jabbok River (Deut. 3:16), and on the south by the Arnon River, at least according to the king of the Sons of Ammon during the time of Jephthah (Judges 11:13). However, the Biblical account states that land north of the Arnon had originally belonged to Moab (Num. 21:26), the kingdom to the south of Ammon. At some time prior to Israel's conquest of the Eastern bank of the Jordan (Transjordan), however, the Amorites, under King Sihon, had conquered the westernmost portion of the land of the Sons of Ammon, as well as the northern portion of Moab (Num. 21:26). All this territory was adjacent to the Dead Sea. Thus, prior to the time of Israel's conquest of any land in Canaan, the Arnon River was the border between Moab and the Amorites (Num. 21:13). When Israel entered the land of Transjordan, messengers requested of King Sihon a peaceful passage of Israel through the land of the Amorites (Num. 21:21-22). Sihon refused, and attacked Israel. Israel won the war and took possession of the Amorite land that had been conquered by Sihon, king of the Amorites (Num. 21:21-31).

When Israel conquered land in Transjordan, the people were forbidden to conquer any land belonging to the sons of Ammon, descended as they were from Lot (Deut. 2:19, 37; 3:16). The sons of Gad inherited half the land of the sons of Ammon (Josh. 13:24-25). However, this was land that had previously been wrested from the sons of Ammon by the Amorites under Sihon, king of Heshbon (Josh. 13:27). At various subsequent times in Israel's history, there was war between Israel and the sons of Ammon and subjugation (Judges 3:13; 10:7-9). This was because of Israel's idolatry with the gods of their neighbors (Judges 10:6). After repentance (Judges 10:10-16), God delivered Israel  (Judges 10:17-11:33). This cycle repeated itself time and time again. At various times the kings of Israel fought against the sons of Ammon (1 Sam. 11:11; 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:12; 10:1-19). Even after Israel's return from exile there were ongoing problems with the Ammonites (Ezra 9:1; Neh. 2:10, 19; 4:3, 7; 13:1)  Yahweh promised punishment upon the sons of Ammon because of their treatment of Israelis (Amos 1:13). This punishment included utter desolation (Zeph. 2:8-9). Ultimately, Israel will possess the land of the sons of Ammon in the Millennial Kingdom (Zeph. 2:9).

Analogical Day Theory. A non-literal approach to the days of Genesis 1:1-2:3.  "God created the world in six days of work followed by one day of rest - but these days of divine work are an analogy rather than an identity with days of human work.... According to the Analogical Day interpretation the description of creation represents an analogy between the work of God stretching over six divine days followed by a day of rest, and the work of humans in understandable terms, laying groundwork for both the Sabbath day and the Jubilee year commanded in Leviticus. God speaks and teaches through analogy and thus accommodates his revelation to human understanding" (quoting Science, Faith and Vern Poythress 2).

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Angel. A messenger of God. Both the Hebrew word for angel (malak, 4397) and the Greek word for angel (aggelos, 32) mean "messenger." Unfortunately, in my view, in both instances the translators of the OT and NT would have been better off to translate both words as that which they really are, "messenger." Let the context determine the nature of the messenger. As it stands, translators have used the untranslated Greek word aggelos, "angel" to stand for both the OT and NT words. 

Angels serve God by carrying out His will (Psa. 103:20) and informing men of God’s will (Luke 2:8-14). They are especially sent to those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:13-14). When angels appear to humans, they often look like men (Judges 13:2-18; Luke 24:4).  Yet they have a supernatural aura about them that makes men fearful (Judges 13:19-23; Luke 24:5).  Angels have supernatural power (Gen. 19:1-25).  There are different ranks of angels, including cherubim (Gen. 3:24; Ezek. 10:1-20; 11:22; 28:14); seraphim (Isa. 6:2, 6); and archangels (1 Thess. 4:16; Jude 1:9). Two angels are named: Gabriel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26) and Michael (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev. 12:7). Jesus appeared infrequently in the Old Testament as the Angel of Yahweh. 

Satan (Job 1:6-9, 12-13; 2:1-7; Zech. 3:1-2; Matt. 4:10; Mark 1:13), also known as the devil (Matt. 4:1; 13:39; John 8:44; 1 Pet. 5:8) was created as a cherub (Ezek. 28:11-15), a good angel.  But Satan became self-obsessed, prideful, and rebellious (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:16-19).  He drew other angels with him in his rebellion (Rev. 12:3-4).  The elect (chosen) angels have remained true to God (1 Tim. 5:21). God has no plan to redeem fallen angels (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10), also known as  unclean spirits (Matt. 10:1; 12:43; Mark 1:26-27) and demons (Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:17; Psa. 106:37; Matt. 7:22; 8:31; 9:34; Mark 1:34, 39).

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Angel of the LORD; Angel of Yahweh. There is a special angel who appeared at various times in the OT. He is identified as the Angel of the LORD, or the Angel of Yahweh. In his various appearances he is identified not only as "the angel of Yahweh," but, variously, as Yahweh Himself or as Elohim. He receives worship. In the NT, references to the Angel of Yahweh disappear. It makes sense to view the Angel of Yahweh as the pre-incarnate Messiah. See The Angel of Yahweh (html). See the .pdf version.

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Angelology. The study of angels, based on evidence derived from Scripture.  Angelology examines angels in the Old and New Testaments, the tasks of angels, the various categories of angels, the nature of the Angel of Yahweh in the Old Testament, and the ministry of angels in relation to Christ.

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Anointed One. A literal translation of the Hebrew Messiah and the Greek Christos.  In the Old Testament there were priests, prophets, and kings who were anointed.  Typically, the term “Anointed” referred to the king.  The ultimate reference is to the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.  The Anointed One is seen as the ultimate King whose reign will never end.  His kingdom will extend around the world, and will last for a thousand years.  In the final analysis the Anointed One will return the kingdom back to the Father.  The two will reign as Co-Regents from the throne in New Jerusalem, the capital of New Earth (Rev. 21:1-22:5).

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Anthropology. The study of man based on information derived from the Bible.  Anthropology deals with the origin of man, the origin of the world in which he lives, the nature of man as being created in the image of God, the nature of Adam as federal head of the human race, and the nature of man’s dominion over the earth.

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Antichrist. The Greek anti means, in this case, both instead of and against the true Christ, or Messiah.  The actual term “antichrist” is used only by the Apostle John in his first and second letters.  There is the specific Antichrist (1 John 2:18), but down through the Church Age there are those who continually exhibit the spirit of Antichrist (1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7).  The Antichrist will be a charismatic, Satanically inspired world leader who will emerge on the world scene at the beginning of the Tribulation from a revived Roman Empire.  Through diplomatic success he will gain international attention and power.  He will begin the seven-year Tribulation period by finalizing a seven-year peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27) and, perhaps, the “Palestinians.”  Mid-way through the seven years he will break the treaty, and set himself up as the true Christ, God come in the flesh in the temple in Jerusalem (2 Thess. 2:3-4).  The Bible describes him as “the man of lawlessness” who will be able to deceive the world with his miraculous powers (2 Thess. 2:1-12).  He is also described as a beast who will develop a totalitarian empire in which he briefly gains control of the entire world, limiting commercial transactions to those only who subscribe to his numbering system and worship him (Rev. 13).  Christ will destroy him at His return, depositing him and his false prophet mouthpiece in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:19-20).

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Antisupernaturalism. The view of atheism, secular humanism, and scientific naturalism, that there is no such thing as the supernatural.  Everything that exists can be explained in terms of natural, observable phenomena.  Sometimes antisupernaturalism shades over into religion and the study of the Scriptures.  Theological antisupernaturalists deny the existence of the supernatural in the Bible.  Consequently they deny the historicity of Genesis 1:1-11:32, which includes such supernatural events as creation, the fall of man, the flood, and the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel.  They deny the reality of any miracles, such as the ten plagues of Moses or the miracles of Elijah and Elisha or Christ and the apostles.  They deny the reality of predictive prophecy, and seek to “late-date” books so that the events ostensibly predicted occurred after the writing of the book.  The book of Daniel for example, which claims to be written in the 6th century B. C. by Daniel has extensive prophecy (especially including Dan. 11:1-45), much of which has been fulfilled with unerring accuracy through the intrigues of the Ptolemies and Seleucids.  Antisupernaturalists, denying the possibility of predictive prophecy, late-date the book of Daniel to 175 B.C., after the fulfillment of the events predicted by Daniel.  Theological antisupernaturalists classify much of the Bible as myth, by which they mean it contains a nice story with theological value, but that it cannot be regarded as having substantial historical value.  They essentially take the position, in fact, that nothing in the Bible is to be believed unless it can be verified or corroborated by secular history.  Needless to say, Antisupernaturalism is outside the pale of orthodoxy, for the Bible is filled with the supernatural from the first page to the last.  Antisupernaturalists’ view of Scripture is sharply at variance with that of Jesus, who said, “until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matt. 5:18).”

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Aorist. The default tense of Koine Greek, the languague of the New Testament. The kind of action is "simple" or "summary". It generally refers to point (punctiliar) action, often (in the Indicative mode), but not always, in past time. It must be remembered that all definitions of the Aorist tense are determined by the context, and one must be wary of making unqualified generalizations. The indicative Aorist is the typical tense in narrative literature. Sometimes it has a timeless aspect (Gnomic Aorist). Sometimes it has a future orientation or even a present orientation. Oftentimes its orientation is timeless. It is to be distinguished from the Present or Imperfect tenses, the former indicating continuous action in the present, the latter of continuous action in the past. It is also to be distinguished from the Perfect tense, which refers to completed action. The Aorist tense cannot be said to indicate action that is "once for all." That inference must be drawn from the context, not from the inherent nature of the tense of the verb. See an off-site discussion of Greek verb tenses.

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Apocalypse.  Another name for the book of Revelation.  Apocalypse is a transliteration of the opening Greek word of the book of Revelation, Apokalupsis, meaning, “unveiling.”  Understood properly, the book of Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in all His heavenly glory, and it is also an unveiling of the future by Him.

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Apocalyptic Literature. "Symbolic visionary prophetic literature ... consisting of visions whose events are recorded exactly as they were seen by the author and explained through a divine interpreter, and whose theological content is primarily eschatological." This definition is culled from Ralph Alexander, Abstract of “Hermeneutics of Old Testament Apocalyptic Literature,” doctor’s dissertation, p. 1, as quoted by John F. Walvoord, in his Introduction to his commentary on Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation

    J. Dwight Pentecost, in his Introduction to his commentary on Daniel , The Bible Knowledge Commentary, OT, p. 1323, discussed  the "Literary Form" of Daniel, "the first great book of apocalyptic literature in the Bible. The Greek word apokalupsis, from which comes the English 'apocalypse,' means an unveiling, a disclosing, or a revelation." According to Pentecost, "Apocalyptic literature in the Bible has several characteristics: (1) In apocalyptic literature a person who received God's truths in visions recorded what he saw. (2) Apocalyptic literature makes extensive use of symbols or signs. (3) "Such literature normally gives revelation concerning God's program for the future of His people Israel. (4) Prose was usually employed in apocalyptic literature, rather than the poetic style which was normal in most prophetic literature."

    Pentecost continued, "In addition to Daniel and Revelation, apocalyptic literature is found in Ezekiel 37:1-48:35 and Zechariah 1:7 - 7:8. In interpreting visions, symbols, and signs in apocalyptic literature, one is seldom left to his own ingenuity to discover the truth. In most instances an examination of the context or a comparison with a parallel biblical passage provides the Scriptures' own interpretation of the visions or the symbols employed. Apocalyptic literature then demands a careful comparison of Scripture with Scripture to arrive at a correct understanding of the revelation being given."

    I would add one caveat to Pentecost's characteristic #3.  While the future of Israel is in view in the Book of Revelation, it is not only the future of Israel that is in view. Revelation records the future of Israel, of the Church, of the redeemed of all ages, and of the unredeemed of all ages. It also reveals God's systematic judgment of the people and of the planet Earth, and, indeed, of the entire cosmos. It records the unmitigated doom of God's arch-enemy, Satan. It records the eternal horror of the unredeemed of all ages, and it records the eternal bliss of the redeemed of all ages in New Jerusalem in association with New Earth in New Cosmos.

     Unfortunately, I have seen the term "Apocalyptic Literature" misused and abused. For more information on apocalyptic literature, go to "The Use and Abuse of Apocalyptic Literature."

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Apocrypha. Books revered by the Jewish people, but never considered on a par with Scripture. The Apocryphal books were written, most likely, between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100. The word apocrypha means that which is "hidden" or "concealed." There are various lists of Apocryphal books, numbering from twelve to fifteen. One such list includes the following books which appear in the Septuagint (abbreviated as LXX), which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and other "sacred" writings: 1 Esdras, Judith, Tobit, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 MaccabeesSirach (Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus), Psalms of Solomon, Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon. (This list of Apocryphal books appearing in the LXX is obtained from Bibloi 8.02 [Bible software], published by Silver Mountain Software copyrighted May 27, 2007. 2 Esdras (the Greek translation of Ezra) is not Apocryphal, because it incorporates Biblical Ezra-Nehemiah in one book.) Some parts of the Apocryphal books are labeled variously as didactic (teaching) (Wisdom of Solomon), religious novel (Tobit), romantic novel (Judith), historical (1 Maccabees), and legendary (Bel and the Dragon), or in some cases, a combination of genres.  

    Are the Apocryphal books to be considered as "Scripture?" There are a number of facts which would lead us to answer that question, "No."

    (1) These books were never included in the Hebrew canon of Scripture. Josephus, for example, referred to the same canon of OT Scripture which we know today. In fact, the bulk of the Apocryphal books were written first in the Greek language, and initially appeared only in that language. For that reason it is impossible that they can ever be considered part of the Hebrew canon of Scripture.

    (2) Jesus Christ did not include the Apocryphal books in His canon of Scripture as revealed in Matt.  23:35 and Luke 11:51. 

    (3) The writers of the New Testament never quoted any apocryphal books as Scripture. This is in contrast to their frequent quotation from almost every book of the Old Testament.Historically, the early church understood that these Apocryphal books did not have the status of Scripture. 

    (4) Historically, the post-Apostolic church did not treat the Apocrypha as Scripture. Writers such as Josephus and Philo did not do so. Neither did the Jewish Council at Jamnia, around 90 A.D. Neither did Origen. Jerome, editor of the Latin Vulgate version that remains the basis of today's Roman Catholic version, argued that the books were "apocryphal" and not to be included in the canon of Scripture.

    (5) It was not until during the tri-partite Council of Trent (1545-1563) on April 8, 1546 that the Roman Catholic Church officially canonized the Apocryphal books as being Deutero Canonical (meaning a second canon, or standard of Scriptures). The RC Church did so in reaction to the Reformers, who treated the books as non-canonical. But the dogmatic opinion of fallible men cannot make the fallible Apocrypha infallible.

    Some modern versions, such as the Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version also incorporate the Apocrypha. Credit for some aspects of this glossary entry goes to Robert J. Sargent and his article, Canonization: The Apocrypha. There are several on-line renderings of the Septuagint. One of them is the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS). For a brief treatment of the Apocrypha offsite, see The Apocryphal Books. Some of this article was derived from this source. See also, "What are the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books?"

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Apostasy. A specific time of global rebellion against Yahweh and His Messiah. The English word apostasy comes from the Greek apostasia (646), which is used only twice in the NT. In the first instance, Luke used it in Acts 21:21, where it was being reported that Paul was "teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs" (emphasis mine). There apostasia referred to a departure from Moses, circumcision, and the customs of Judaism. In the other instance, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it refers to the future, specific, global departure from any semblance of Judeo-Christianity and associated values.  Paul termed it "the apostasy." The spirit of that apostasy has always been present. The Psalmist spoke of it in Psalm 2:1-3:

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!”

So the spirit of that apostasy has always been present. Presently, during the Church Age, the Holy Spirit in the Church has been restraining that spirit of lawlessness. But at the end of the Church Age, God will remove His Spirit from the earth as indwelling the Church, and there will be nothing left to prevent that great Apostasy. The world will throw off all restraints. The world will be primed to accept the charismatic leadership of a rising world leader the Bible variously terms as "The Prince who is to Come" (Dan. 9:26), "The Lawless One" (2 Thess. 2:8), "The Man of Lawlessness" (2 Thess. 2:3), "The Beast" (Rev. 13:1-4, 12, 14-15, 17-18; 19:20; 20:10) and "The Antichrist" (1 John 2:18). He will facilitate the global apostasy, proclaiming Himself to be God and elevating himself above anything that is called God (2 Thess. 2:4). His revelation, or unveiling (2 Thess. 2:3, 6, 8), will begin the Tribulation, to which Paul referred as "the Day of the Lord" (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2).

Jesus Christ will terminate this great Apostasy when He returns in Retribution (Zech. 14:1-15; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21).

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Apostle, Apostles. An apostle is one who is sent on a mission. The Greek verb apostellô (649) means, "I send." An apostle (apostolos, 652) is a "sent one." Both words can be used in a general, non-technical sense. 

    For example, the verb apostellô is used in a non-technical sense in Matt. 21:1; Mark 11:1; 14:13. The noun apostolos is used in a non-technical sense in Acts 14:14 and 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25.  Similarly, both words can be used in a technical sense, as referring specifically to the twelve individuals whom Jesus personally chose and whom He sent on preaching/healing/exorcism missions. For example, the verb apostellô  is used in a technical sense in Matt. 10:5, 16; Mark 3:14; 6:7; Luke 9:1-2; 10:1-3; 22:35; John 4:38; 17:18; 20:21; 1 Cor. 1:17. Most often in the NT, the word apostolos, "apostle" is used in a technical sense of the twelve original apostles. In order to qualify as an official Apostle, a follower (or learner or disciple) of Jesus had to be hand-picked by Jesus (Luke 6:13), and thus necessarily personally saw Him. In addition, Jesus gave each of the twelve Apostles the authority and power to perform miracles as an authenticating sign of his apostleship (Acts 2:43; 5:12; 2 Cor. 12:12). After the demise of Judas, the remaining eleven apostles, led by Peter, selected by lot Matthias as Judas' successor (Acts 1:15-26). In my opinion, Matthias was man's choice, not the choice of Jesus. I believe the risen Lord hand-picked Saul of Tarsus as His twelfth Apostle (Acts 9:1-18). He became, of course, the Apostle Paul (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; 4:9; 15:9; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:1, 11; Tit. 1:1).  Though others were sent, even by the Holy Spirit, only the original Eleven plus Paul qualify as the bona fide Apostles. They were the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20), and it is their names who are inscribed upon the twelve foundations of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:14). By definition there can be no legitimate Apostles in the Church on earth today. One more thing. Though the Apostles could pass on their teaching to others, there is no hint in Scripture that they could pass on their authority. See Apostolic Succession.

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Apostolic Succession. The exegetically flawed belief that there is an unbroken line of apostolic authority passed on from the original apostles to selected church leaders today. I do not know all the segments of Christianity that claim, to some degree, apostolic succession. But I do know that the Vatican Church claims it. In fact, they claim, on the basis of apostolic succession, that the pope and the bishops in communion with him are the sole interpreters of Scripture (85, 100)! But followers of the Vatican (Roman Catholics) are not alone in their claim of apostolic succession. The Lutheran Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church, and the Episcopal Church all hold to apostolic succession. So also, in some way does the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, which authorizes its pastors to grant forgiveness of sins to congregants based upon their confession. This dogma is based  upon Christ's instructions to His first apostles. It is not difficult to refute Apostolic Succession. The original apostles could transmit their teaching as recorded in Scripture on to their followers. But they were not authorized to pass on their authority. That is Jesus' prerogative and His alone. There is no evidence that any other than the original twelve apostles (less Judas, plus Paul) were authorized by Jesus with apostolic authority. It is Scripture that is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). The interpretations and opinions and traditions of man are not.

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Armageddon. The place of the Final World War on earth before Christ’s return. Appearing only in Revelation 16:16 in the Bible, the name is transliterated from Greek, which in turn is transliterated from two words in Hebrew, Har Magedon, which means Mount or Hill of Megiddo. There is no known Mountain of Megiddo, but there are many hills in that area which overlook the Plain of Megiddo, also known as the Great Plain of Esdraelon, about sixty miles north of Jerusalem. The Plain of Esdraelon (Megiddo) stretches NW to SE bounded on the SW by the Carmel Range and on the NE by Mt. Gilboa and Mt. Tabor. Har Megiddo is “generally identified as the fortress overlooking a pass through the Carmel Range into Galilee” (Friberg Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament). More than two hundred battles have been fought in that region. In Revelation 16:13-16, it is said that demonic spirits will lure “the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty…. And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” (Rev. 16:14, 16). Apparently in the process, the Euphrates River will have been dried up by the contents of the sixth angel’s bowl in order to enable the “kings from the east” to move into the holy land to this colossal battle (Rev. 16:12). It would seem that the motivation of the world’s kings is to summarily dispose of Israel. God’s over-arching plan, however, is to seduce the armies of the earth’s nations to deploy into Israel in order that He might destroy them Himself (Zech. 12:1-9) preparatory to Jesus’ reign as King of Israel and King of the World (Zech. 14:1-9). In popular thinking, Armageddon has come to mean the end-time cataclysm(s) marking the end of the age and civilization as we know it, but that does not really fit the Biblical representation.

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Asceticism.  A legalistic self-denial of legitimate pleasure (1 Tim. 4:1-5).  Asceticism is inspired by demons and is incompatible with the grace of God.

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Assyria. The Hebrew proper name Ashshur (804), used 151X in the OT. It most often refers to the land (Gen. 2:14) or the people (2 Kings 19:35; Isa. 19:23) or the nation (2 Kings 15:20) of Assyria. Rarely, it refers to the second son of Shem, son of Noah (Gen. 10:22). Ashshur appears to be the primitive capital city of the nation that came to be known as Assyria (its Greek name). It was situated on the west bank of the Tigris River. Calah and Nineveh, founded by Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-12), became major cities of the Assyrian Empire. They were also situated on the Tigris River

    Assyria existed as a geo-political entity with varying degrees of dominance from about 2500 B.C. to about 605 B.C. The primary area of the Assyrian Kingdom included portions of Northern modern day Iraq, NorthEastern Syria, and Southeastern Turkey. At its height, between 824 BC and 671 BC, Assyria conquered such countries as Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, Phoenicia, Syria, Arabia, Israel, Judah, Edom, Moab, and Cyprus.

    As Assyria became a mighty Middle Eastern Empire, it developed into a major threat to both Israel and Judah. This was true to such an extent that the prophet Jonah, when ordered by God to preach a message of judgment to the people of Nineveh, Assyria's capital city (Jon. 1:1-2), fled the other direction (Jon. 1:3). He did so because he was afraid the people would repent and avert the judgment God had planned against Assyria. He wanted Assyria removed as a threat to Israel. But God, in His Sovereignty, prevailed against Jonah (Jon. 1:4-2:10), and Jonah finally preached his message to Nineveh (Jon. 3:1-4). Just as he had feared, Nineveh did repent (Jon. 3:5-9), and God averted His judgment (Jon. 3:10). Nineveh and Assyria lived to see another day. 

    Assyria ultimately conquered Israel in 722 B.C., deporting its surviving citizens to other countries (2 Kings 15:29; 17:1-23). Assyria repopulated the land of Israel with foreigners who knew nothing of the true God. But a priest was called upon to convert them. The foreigners accepted the worship of Yahweh but did not cease from their previous religions (2 Kings 17:24-41). These people became the fore-runners of the Samaritans, whom full-blooded Israelis despised in Jesus' day.

     In Zeph. 2:13, Zephaniah predicted that Yahweh would destroy Assyria. Ultimately Assyria was overthrown by Babylon in 605 B.C. From that point on Babylon became the major world empire of the Middle East. 

    In the future there will be amity between Israel and Assyria (Iraq/Iran) (Isa. 11:16; 19:23). That fulfillment awaits the arrival of Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom. Not until then will Israel have an abiding peace, surrounded as she is today by a sea of hostile neighbors.

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Atonement.  In the Old Testament the word kaphar (3722), in its most basic sense, means, “to cover” (Gen. 6:14). Since the natural consequence of sin is death, only death can atone (kaphar, 3722) for, or cover sin (Lev. 17:11).  Animal sacrifices “covered” Israelis’ sins in the Old Testament, but could never pay for them. The English word "atonement" carried with it the idea of "reconciliation" ("at-one-ment") between two estranged parties, namely God and man. In that sense, the English word "reconciliation" comes closest to the English meaning of the English word, "atonement." However, the Hebrew word kaphar does not mean "reconciliation," but rather conveys the idea of "covering over."

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is God’s perfect lamb (John 1:29, 34) that was sacrificed to pay for the sins of the entire world.  Because Jesus is man, His death can pay for human sin.  Because He is God, He was able to live a sinless life.  His death has infinite value and can pay for all human sin.  The atonement, of course, is of value only to those who, through faith in Jesus, accept it. The reader should be aware that atonement is an OT word, not a NT word. We sometimes use the word "atonement" when discussing Christ's substitutionary death, but when we do so, there is no Greek word used in the NT to correspond with that concept. In the LXX, the Greek version of the Hebrew OT, exilaskomai is used to translate the Hebrew kaphar. But exilaskomai is never used in the NT. The English word "atonement" is used only one time in the NT in the King James Version (Rom. 5:11, KJV) (but not, for example, in Rom. 5:11 in the NASB). The Greek word in Rom. 5:11, however, is katallagê, 2643).

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Updated August 31, 2017

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