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

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Baal. The god Bel of Babylonia appearing frequently in the land of Canaan as a local deity. “Baal” is the untranslated Hebrew ba’al (1168). It is most often stated to mean “lord,” and perhaps more accurately, “owner, possessor.” He is depicted in archaeological finds as having a female consort, Ashtoreth (Babylonian “Ashtar”). In apostate Israel, the false worship of one frequently included the worship of the other (e.g., Judges 2:13; 3:7; 6:25, 28, 30; 10:6; 1 Sam. 7:4; 12:10; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:3; 23:4; 2 Chron. 33:3-4). Consequently, worship of Baal and Ashtoreth, the god and goddess of fertility, was license for sexual indulgence and the frequenting of temple prostitutes.

    “Baal” was often used in the OT in connection with other words. So, for example, Baal-berith means “Lord, or Possessor of the Covenant”) (Judges 8:33; 9:4). Frequently "Baal" occurred in connection with a town or village, and sometimes it was incorporated as the proper name of a person. See the following: Baal-zephon (Ex. 14:2, 9; Num. 33:7); Baal of Peor or Baal-peor (Num. 25:3, 5; Deut. 4:3; Psa. 106:28; Hos. 9:10); Baal-meon (Num. 32:38; Josh. 13:17; 1 Chron. 5:8; Ezek. 25:9); Baal-gad (Josh. 11:17: 12:7; 13:5); Bamoth-baal (Josh. 13:17); Baalah, also known as Kiriath-jearim and Kiriath-baal (Josh. 15:9, 10, 11, 29, 60; 18:14; 1 Chron. 13:6); Baalath-beer (Josh. 19:8); Baalath (Josh. 19:44; 1 Kings 9:18; 2 Chron. 8:6); Baal-hermon (Judges 3:3; 1 Chron. 5:23); Baal-tamar (Judges 20:33); Baal-perazim (2 Sam. 5:20; 1 Chron. 14:11); Baale-judah (2 Sam. 6:2); Baal-hazor (2 Sam. 13:23); Ethbaal (1 Kings 16:31); Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1:2, 3, 6, 16); Baal-shalisha (2 Kings 4:42); Baal-hanan, king of Edom (1 Chron. 1:49, 50); Baal-hanan, an official in King David's court (1 Chron. 27:28); Eshbaal, son of King Saul (1 Chron. 8:33); Merib-baal, son of Jonathan, son of King Saul (1 Chron. 8:34; 9:40); Gur-baal (2 Chron. 26:7); Baal-hamon (Song of Solomon 8:11); Baalis, king of the Ammonites (Jer. 40:14).

    The most notable public conflict of the true worship of Yahweh with the false worship of Baal occurred when the prophet Elijah challenged and defeated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:1-46). Later than that King Jehu destroyed all Baal-worshipers (2 Kings 10:18-28). He did not, however fully follow Yahweh, but retained the worship of the golden calves begun under Jeroboam, probably, again, for political purposes (2 Kings 10:29-31). Though Josiah had attempted to weed out idolatry in Judah (2 Kings 23:4-20), there was still a remnant of Baal that Yahweh would destroy (Zeph. 1:4).

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Babylon. A city and a regime in southeastern Mesopotamia inimical to God and His people throughout most of history. Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon became the greatest power on earth (Dan. 2:1-38). Saddam Hussein of Iraq labored to restore the greatness of Babylon.

Babel (Babylon) was first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 10:10 in connection with Nimrod (whose name means “we shall rebel”). Nimrod’s kingdom included Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar (the southeasternmost half of Mesopotamia, which is the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). But the dispersion of the nations (Gen. 10) was in accordance with their distinct languages (Gen. 10:5). That means the events surrounding Babel recorded in Genesis 11:1-9 preceded the dispersion of the nations (Gen. 10). So Genesis 11:9 is the first reference to Babel (Babylon) chronologically speaking.

After the Flood of Noah (Gen. 6-8), God had blessed Noah and his sons, commanding them to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1). But there came a time when the people of the earth resisted the last part of that command. Speaking but one language, they traveled east to the land of Shinar (Gen. 11:1-2), where they counseled themselves to build a city whose top would reach to heaven. They desired to make a name for themselves to prevent themselves from being scattered abroad over the face of the entire earth (Gen. 11:4). It is possible, if not likely, that Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-12) was the chief instigator of this rebellion. I call this council the first General Assembly of the United Nations, and it did not bode well for good or for God. It certainly caught Yahweh’s attention (Gen. 11:5)! He said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech” (Gen. 11:6-7). The effect was dramatic! Yahweh succeeded in scattering the human race abroad over the face of the earth and they were forced to stop building the city (Gen. 11:8). The name of the city was called “Babel” (babel) because there Yahweh confused (balal) the language of the whole earth and scattered them abroad (Gen. 11:9). So the name Babel (Babylon) means “confusion.” From its inception it connotes rebellion against God.

Idolatry plagued the nation of Israel. In judgment, God sent the Assyrians to deport the northern ten tribes into captivity in 722 B.C. (2 Ki. 17). God sent the world-class power of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar to deport Judah into captivity in 606, 597, and 586 B.C. (2 Ki. 24-25). God later judged Babylon with the invasion of the Medes and Persians (Dan. 5).

In the perhaps not-too-distant future, Babylon will again come into extraordinary power. It is depicted in Revelation 17:1-6, 18 as the seductive prostitution of the true worship of God temporarily wielding enormous religious, political and economic influence over the rest of the world. The religious/political/economic entity of Babylon will be drunk with the blood of the saints (Rev. 17:6; 19:2). Because of Babylon’s perversion of the worship of God and her slaughter of believers, she is singled out for destruction (Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:1, 16; 18:1-8, 9-10, 21), and all heaven will rejoice at her demise (Rev. 18:20; 19:1-3). It is no accident that Babylon is depicted as a prostitute worthy only of judgment (Rev. 17:1-19:3), while New Jerusalem is depicted as the holy bride of the Lamb (Rev. 21:1-9), and the eternal capital city of all who submit to the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ (Rev. 21-22). Note further information on Babylon as the Great Prostitute.

Baptism, Fire. The act of judgment whereby Jesus immerses in inextinguishable fire all who fall short of God's righteousness and fail to accept His payment for their sins. Jesus' baptism by means of fire was predicted by John the Immerser (Matt. 3:11-12; Luke 3:16-17). It is also predicted in other passages such as Isa. 14:11; 66:24; Matt. 13:40-42, 49-50; 25:41; Mark 9:43, 47-48; Luke 16:23-24; Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14-15; 21:8. See The Sentence and Disposition of the Defendants who Appear before the Great White Throne – Hell, which is the Lake of fire, which is the Second Death (Rev. 20:14-15).

Baptism, Water.  The outward sign whereby believers in Jesus publicly identify themselves as His adherents.  Baptism consists of immersion in water by a fellow believer.  It is not a means of salvation but a public act of obedience.  Water baptism is a ritual baptism, meaning that it has no transformational, but only identificational significance. In other words, regeneration by means of water baptism is a myth. Water baptism can no more regenerate the human heart than John's baptism by means of water could make its recipients repentant (Matt. 3:7-10).  See a chart on water baptism. See also "Is It Necessary to Be Baptized in Water in Order to Be Saved?"

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Baptism, Spirit.  The act of Jesus whereby He uses the Holy Spirit to place believers in the body of Christ at the moment of salvation (1 Cor. 12:13).  There is no universally accompanying visible sign of Spirit baptism.  Exceptions to that general rule occurred at the founding of the Church on the Day of Pentecost, when Jewish believers were granted tangible phenomena by which they could identify Jesus’ impartation of the Spirit; and at the Gentiles’ salvation in the home of Cornelius, where the new Gentile believers spoke in tongues.  This served to demonstrate to the Jewish believers that the Gentiles had also been granted the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Spirit Baptism is a real baptism in the sense that it supernaturally accomplishes something – believers are actually immersed into the Body of Christ.  See a chart on Spirit baptism. See also Holy Spirit, Baptism of.

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BDB. Brown Driver Briggs, the standard Hebrew Lexicon. The names refer to Francis Brown, C. Briggs, and S. R. Driver. The Product Description reads as follows:

A trio of eminent Old Testament scholars, Francis Brown, R. Driver, and Charles Briggs, spent over twenty years researching, writing, and preparing this lexicon. Since it first appeared in the early part of the twentieth century, BDB has been considered the finest and most comprehensive Hebrew lexicon available to the English-speaking student. Based upon the classic work of Wilhelm Gesenius, the "father of modern. [sic] Hebrew lexicography," BDB gives not only dictionary definitions for each word, but relates each word to its Old Testament usage and categorizes its nuances of meaning. BDB's exhaustive coverage of Old Testament Hebrew words, as well as its unparalleled usage of cognate languages and the wealth of background sources consulted and quoted, render BDB and [sic] invaluable resource for all students of the Bible.

Beast. Literally, an undomesticated, often predatory animal; metaphorically, a Gentile kingdom or empire led by a dictator; eschatologically, a sinister world ruler heading up a global, malevolent, anti-God, anti-Christian regime -- also known as the Antichrist.

    On the literal level, God created a triumvirate of land-based "living (chay, 2416) creatures" (nephesh, 5315): domesticable "cattle" (behemah, 929), "creeping things" (remes, 7431) -- generally of the reptile category, and "beasts (chayah, 2421) of the earth" (erets, 776) (Gen. 1:24-25). "Beasts of the earth" refers, in general, to a wide variety of land-based wild animals, whether herbivorous or carnivorous. One NT equivalent of literal chayah is thÍrion (2342) (Mark 1:13; James 3:7; Rev. 6:8), translated "beast" or "wild beast."

    On a metaphorical (and prophetic) level, the statesman-prophet Daniel was given a vision. He wrote of "four great beasts (chêyvâ', 2423) coming up from the sea" (Dan. 7:3). The first was like a lion with the wings of an eagle (Dan. 7:4). The second beast resembled a bear with three ribs in its mouth (Dan. 7:5). The third looked like a four-headed leopard with four wings on its back (Dan. 7:6). The fourth beast was "dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong." It had large iron teeth and ten horns. An eleventh horn appeared among the ten and three of the original ten were pulled up by the roots before it. This eleventh horn had human-like eyes and a mouth that uttered great boasts (Dan. 7:7-8). The four beasts represent, successively, with their most prominent leaders, the Babylonian empire (Nebuchadnezzar), the Medo-Persian empire (Cyrus), the Greek empire (Alexander), and the Roman empire. We deduce from other prophecies in Daniel (particularly Dan. 9:24-27), that the original Roman empire will be revived in the future, and that the Antichrist will head it up. He is "little horn" who boasts great things.

    On a metaphorical (and eschatological) level, the Apostle John describes the Antichrist and his diabolical regime. He is the beast (thÍrion, 2342) who comes up out of the abyss and kills the saints (Rev. 11:7). He is the composite beast (thÍrion, 2342) coming up out of the sea, having seven heads with ten horns crowned with ten diadems (Rev. 13:1-2), empowered by the dragon (Satan) (Rev. 13:4). He will have a boastful, blasphemous mouth (Rev. 13:6). He will make war with the saints and overcome them (Rev. 13:7). He will be given authority over the entire earth, and all whose names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life will worship him (Rev. 13:7-8). The Antichrist and his regime are to be identified with the scarlet beast (thÍrion, 2342) with seven heads and ten  horns (Rev. 17:3) on whom rides the great and wealthy prostitute, drunk with the blood of saints and witnesses of Jesus (Rev. 17:1-6). The Antichrist is the beast (thÍrion, 2342) who will defy Jesus at His return (Rev. 19:19), and who will be deposited forever in the Lake of  Fire (Rev. 19:10; 20:10).

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS). The most widely-used printed edition of the Hebrew Bible in use today. It was first published in installments from 1968 to 1976. The first one-volume edition was published in 1977. The fourth edition was revised and redistributed in 1997. The BHS is based upon the Leningrad Codex, the oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible written in Hebrew. It is printed by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society) in Stuttgart, Germany. The BHS can be accessed online in pdf files (complete text, but without the apparatus) through the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). Hard copies, of course, can be purchased from the German Bible Society, or from booksellers such as Amazon or CBD.

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Bible. The collection of sixty-six books that make up God’s Word to man.  The Old Testament was written to Jewish people, the New Testament to both Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus.  Redemption, the Sovereignty of God, the faithfulness of God, the depravity of man, and the sacrifice and supremacy of the Messiah (Christ) are themes that permeate the Bible.  The most-beloved Scripture passage, John 3:16, accurately captures the message of the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” For more information about the Bible, go to Bibliology, the Study of the Bible.

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Biblical Creationism. The only exegetically defensible view, based on a straightforward reading of the Bible, that God created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six literal days (Gen. 1:1-2:3; Ex. 20:8-11). The Biblical view is supernatural creationism - that God operated outside the laws of nature (for nature didn't even exist yet) to create ex nihilo (out of nothing) a fully functioning universe all in the space of six days. Biblical Creationism stipulates that God  operates outside the laws of nature. How can He operate within the laws of nature if nature hasn't even been created yet? When God created the universe, He set in operation most of the laws of nature that are in existence today. But since God is God and invented the laws of nature, He can supernaturally tweak them for His purposes. And supernaturally tweak them He has done. (1) When man sinned, God cursed the ground and, by implication, the entire universe. The laws of entropy (the degradation of matter and energy in the universe) and death were imposed on man, upon animals, upon the earth and upon the universe (Gen. 3:17-19; Psa. 102:25-26; Isa. 34:4; 51:6; Matt. 24:35; Rom. 8:20-23; Heb. 1:10-12). Plants decay and die. People and animals sicken, age and die. Stars explode. The oribit of the moon around the earth decays. The geomagnetic field around the earth decays. (2) When mankind became utterly evil, corrupt, and violent (Gen. 6:5-11), God determined supernaturally to tweak nature again. He sent a global flood that  destroyed all birds, land animals, and humans not preserved aboard a floating 3-story barge (Gen. 6:13 - 8:22). This catastrophic judgment laid down all the strata with fossils in the space of 371 days or less (Gen. 7:11-8:14).. These strata are now known as the geologic column. (3) God will one day catastrophically alter every corner of the universe in a roaring conflagration (Isa. 24:19; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 20:11). (4) God will one day supernaturally create new heavens and a new earth in which only righteousness and righteous people exist (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-22:5). Since Biblical Creationism takes the Bible literally, Biblical Creationism holds to supernatural creation, not naturalistic, uniformitarian evolution. Biblical Creationists hold that the genealogies of Genesis 5, as they are stated, are consecutive, with no gaps, and as such give a credible time-line back to the start of the earth. Finally, Biblical Creationists see the Flood as providing the fossil-bearing layers of the geographic column. Because Biblical Creationists take the Bible in a straightforward way, they see the Scriptures demanding a young earth, not an ancient one. And they believe that scientific evidence, properly understood and interpreted unfettered by naturalistic and uniformitarian presuppositions, unerringly corroborates a young earth.

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Bishop.  In the New Testament the term bishop (episkopos) is an alternative and descriptive word for term elder (presbuteros), the leader of a church.  Episkopos means simply overseer, emphasizing the job description of a church leader.  The term elder emphasizes the honor, gravity, and responsibility of the task.  He is to oversee the flock of God.  The Holy Spirit places elders/overseers in charge of the flock.  The qualifications given for the overseer (1 Tim. 3:1-8) are the same, essentially, as that given for an elder (Titus 1:5-9).  Overseers (elders) must be men who are spiritually mature, exemplary in their marriages and family governance, above reproach in the community, and gifted at teaching God’s Word to others.  The main task of an overseer/elder is that of shepherding the flock.  Shepherding the flock consists of feeding, guiding, and guarding the flock.  See Elder.  See Biblical Eldership.

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Body of Christ. A term that exists on two levels: (1) The physical body of Christ, often in terms of its having been crucified (Matt. 27:58-59; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:52, 55; 24:3, 23; John 19:38, 40; 20:12; Rom. 7:4; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; (2) The mystical, spiritual body of Christ, into which all believers are baptized by means of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 7:4; 12:5; 1 Cor. 6:15; 10:16; 12:12-27). The word "body" is the Greek word sōma (4983). The spiritual Body of Christ is to be defined also as the Church, of which Christ is the Head (kephalÍ, 2776) (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23-24; Col. 1:18; 2:19).

The Vatican Church insists that the Body of Christ, the true Church, is necessarily coterminous with the institutional, visible, hierarchical Roman Church. (See also Mystici Corporis Christi, paragraph 60; see also Satis Cognitum, Section 3; Paragraph 4.) The Vatican's argument is flawed. The representatives of the Vatican state first of all, that the "Body of Christ" in appropriate contexts refers to the mystical, spiritual Body of Christ. In that they are correct. But logic forsakes them when they argue that, since the Scriptures use metaphor of a body, that mystical body must necessarily be organized in a visible institutional entity, which is none other than the Church headquartered in the Vatican! So they use a metaphor to demonstrate the mystical, non-corporeal nature of the Universal Church, and then they use the same metaphor to prove the Universal Church must necessarily be the physical, hierarchical, physical entity which they, in elitist and unbiblical fashion, arbitrarily designate as the "Catholic Church" headquartered in the Vatican! There is no way that one can prove from Scripture that the Body of Christ is limited to the Vatican Church. Of course, that does not stop the Vatican, which, frankly, allows its own Church Tradition to trump Scripture. In candor, they would disagree with my conclusion, stating that Church Tradition goes hand in hand with Scripture and they speak together as one. But that is the Vatican spin, not the truth. If Vatican tradition concludes a great many things that cannot be supported from Scripture, then, in truth Vatican tradition trumps Scripture, regardless of any denials.

A much more Biblical position is that there are local churches and there is the Universal (Catholic) Church. The Vatican Church has confused the two. The local church that was planted in Rome already by the time of Paul's letter to the Romans, was but one physical representation of the far-flung Universal Church of  Christ. The true Church is necessarily invisible, because by this time, nearly 2000 years after its founding on the Day of Pentecost, a huge portion of the Church does not even reside on earth, but up in heaven.

The question must be asked, "What is the significance of Jesus' statement, recorded in the gospels and referenced in the letters, "Take, eat; this is My body" (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22)? Adherents of the Vatican Church (and, to a lesser degree, the Lutheran Church) insist that, when the priest waves the censer of incense and intones the prescribed words, the wafer becomes the actual body of Christ. But that is a most unlikely interpretation. Whatever Jesus meant, it had to mean that to the twelve disciples at the very moment He gave them the bread before He died! When they partook of the bread Jesus gave them, they were not actually in any sense eating Jesus' flesh, for the bread did not taste like human flesh. And when they drank the wine, they were not in any sense actually partaking of His blood, for it certainly did not taste like human blood. And the same is true for adherents of the Vatican Church today after Christ's death. Jesus' sacrifice was a one-time, all-sufficient sacrifice (Heb. 9:27-28; 10:10-14). To insist, as Rome does (1367), that every Eucharist is an unbloody, propitiatory sacrifice of Christ's body, actually paying for human sins, makes a mockery of the words of Scripture, and is, in my opinion, frankly, blasphemous. The correct understanding is given in parallel Scriptures, that observance of the Lord's Table constitutes a memorial, non-sacramental observance of Jesus' death on our behalf (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24).  

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Bride of Christ. The New Testament presents church-age believers under several metaphors, one of them being the Bride of Christ. This metaphor is beautifully presented in Ephesians 5:25-27, 29, 32. There, husbands are commanded to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the Church. He did so by sacrificing His life for the Church. His purpose was to set her apart to Himself, cleansing her by the Word of God. His ultimate purpose is to present the Church to Himself as His bride in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or defect of any kind. She will be holy and blameless. The Church as the Bride of Christ is to submit to Him (Eph. 5:24). This in turn is to provide a model for human wives to submit to their human husbands in all things. At the Rapture, the Church will be taken to heaven, there to appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ to be purified of all her impurities (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10). This purifying judgment is aptly described in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. By the end of the Tribulation period on earth, the Bride of Christ will be purified up in heaven, ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9). Christ will descend to earth with His Bride, who will be a spectator as Christ overcomes His enemies in battle (Rev. 19:11-21). After all survivors of the Tribulation have been judged (Mt. 25), only righteous survivors will be left alive to inhabit Christ's Millennial Kingdom. This kingdom will begin with a great feast which serves as the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and His Bride, the Church (Isa. 25:6; Matt. 25:1-13; Rev. 19:9). In the Eternal State, New Jerusalem is described as "the Holy City ... coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2). An angel promised to show John "the bride, the wife of the Lamb" (Rev. 21:9), whereupon John looked upon the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:10-22:5). There is, in the book of Revelation, a profound contrast between the Prostitute Babylon (Rev. 17:1- 19:3) and the Holy Bride, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21-22). New Jerusalem serves as the eternal home of Christ's Bride, the Church and the Eternal Capital of the redeemed Nation of Israel. Redeemed, "other-than-Church" Gentiles inhabit New Earth enjoying constant and unguarded access to their Capital City (Rev. 21:24-26; 22:2).

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Updated January 24, 2017

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