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).
Babel, 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 10:9-10 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 11:1-7 preceded the dispersion of the nations according to their languages as recorded in Gen. 10:5, 20, 31; 11:8-9 Harmonizing the accounts of the founding of Babel as recorded in Genesis 10:9-10 and Genesis 11:1-4, Nimrod was evidently the leader of those who settled in Shinar and founded and built the city.
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?"
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.
BDB. Brown Driver Briggs, the standard Hebrew Lexicon. The names refer to Francis Brown, C. Briggs, and S. R. Driver. The Chistianbook.com 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.
Beast as Antichrist: 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. 19:20; 20:10).
Believer, Believers. In the context of WordExplain,
those of any age who have placed their faith in God, and have thus
begun a relationship with Him that lasts into eternity. Examples of OT
believers outside of God's calling of Abraham and his line of chosen
descendants would include Abel, Shem, Noah, Job, and Melchizedek (a
contemporary of Abraham). We describe these individuals as believing
Gentiles (people among earth's nations). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were
believers in God. They were the patriarchs of what would become the
nation of Israel. Outstanding believers from the nation of Israel were
Moses and such prophets as Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah. There
were some believing kings during Israel's history. Among them were
David, Josiah, and Hezekiah. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the
Day of Pentecost, all Gentiles and Jewish people who believe in Jesus
have been incorporated into the Church. When the Church is completed,
the Church will be raptured up to heaven, and the Tribulation will
begin. But some from among both Israel and the Gentiles (nations) will
become believers during the Tribulation. We call them "Tribulation
Saints." Those believers who survive the Tribulation will inherit the
Kingdom of Christ in their natural bodies. They will marry and bear
children. Tragically, not all will become believers in Christ the King
during the Millennium. Those who are not believers will be enticed by
Satan to revolt against the King and His administration. Their demise
will be terrible. Throughout eternity on New Earth, there will be three
distinct groups, all believers in God and Christ. These groups will
include believing Israel, believers belonging to the Church, and
believers from among the earth's nations (Gentiles) who are part of
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.
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.
An aggregate term defining those individuals, churches, and
institutions that believe in Jesus, but who also believe that the Bible
alone is our rule of faith and practice. This would rule out, for
example, Roman Catholics, who believe that not only is the Bible our
rule of faith and practice, but so also is 2000 years' worth of
Catholic tradition. In my view, it would rule out Christians who
believe the Bible, but do not believe that God's original promises to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob still hold hope for a redeemed nation of
Israel living in the promised land under the rule of King Jesus for a
thousand years. It would rule out Christians who believe the Bible, but
do not believe that Ezekiel 40-48 is talking about a future literal
temple in a topographically restructured land of Israel. It would rule
out Christians who do not believe Revelation 21:1-22:5 promises a
literal city as the future capital of New Earth. It would rule out
Christians who do not believe in a recent creation of earth and the
universe dating back to a mere 6,000 years ago, give or take just a
little bit. It would rule out Christians who do not believe in a global
Flood in the days of Noah. It would rule out churches who ordain women
and homosexuals or lesbians as pastors. So Biblical Christianity, in my
view, is rather limited. And probably my view is narrower than many
Christians would espouse. But this is my definition.
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.
Big Bang. The current theory of the origin of our universe stipulating that pre-existing infinitely dense and infinitely hot matter of 0 size exploded and, over billions of years, coalesced through pre-existing gravity into the highly-ordered universe we now observe. (See an artist's rendering.) The model makes no attempt to explain the pre-existing elements, so the theory stops far short of explaining how our universe originated. The previously held view was the Steady State Model. Elements currently included in the Big Bang theory are an initial singularity, an expanding universe, cosmic microwave background (CMB), and dark matter surrounding galaxies. The theological and philosophical consequences of the Big Bang Theory are multitudinous and profound. Among them are these: (1) The inability of astrophysicists to account for the start of matter, time, density, temperature, motion (expansion), and laws such as gravity. (2) The irrelevance of God. (3) The unreliability of the Biblical account of God's creation of the universe in six days. (4) The foundation for biological evolution as opposed to Divine creation. (5) The non-existence of universal morals and ethics. (6) The supremacy of secular humanism.
The Big Bang is counter-intuitive on a number of levels. (1) Has anyone ever witnessed a beneficial explosion? (2) Do observed explosions create, or do they destroy? (3) How can order come from disorder through random chance? (4) How can information (DNA, RNA) come from inert matter? (5) How can life spontaneously generate from non-life? (6) How can intelligence come from matter? (7) How can purpose coalesce from purposeless detonation? (8) How can personality come from impersonal forces? (9) The Big Bang itself completely contradicts a foundational belief of most scientists, that of uniformitarianism. (10) The Big Bang model does not really explain the origin of the universe at all. It fails to answer the question, "Where did matter come from in the first place?" They refer back to a "causal singularity" at the start of time as follows:
The classical version of the Big Bang cosmological model of the universe contains a causal singularity at the start of time (t=0), where all time-like geodesics have no extensions into the past. Extrapolating backward to this hypothetical time 0 results in a universe with all spatial dimensions of size zero, infinite density, infinite temperature, and infinite spacetime curvature.
This is nonsense. How can something have no size, yet be infinitely dense and possess infinite temperature? According to God's true account, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). "In the beginning" is the beginning of time as we know it today here in our physical universe. "In the beginning God created the heavens." That is the beginning of space as we know it today. "In the beginning God created ... the earth." That is the beginning of matter as we know it today. Before that nothing existed at all in terms of a physical universe. But there was an eternity before that in which God was always existing in a spiritual dimension of which scientists today are willfully ignorant.
Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, in her article, "Super-colliders Looking for Dark Matter in All the Wrong Places," concludes the following:
The big bang idea is an attempt to explain the origin of the universe in a naturalistic fashion—without invoking God. Sadly, many Christians compromise by trying to add the billions of years from the big bang to the Bible.
From the Bible, we can already know the big bang idea is wrong. The Word of God in Genesis 1 says the earth was created before the stars; the big bang view is the very opposite. In addition, the Bible teaches the earth was created as a paradise; the big bang model teaches it was first a hot, molten blob. The big bang and the Bible are entirely incompatible.
In my opinion, the Big Bang theory is a desperate theory perpetrated on the gullible public by individuals who have an animus against God and His self-revelation in the Bible. In the main, they are secular humanists who wish to be free to pursue their own amoral agenda without any accountability to the Being who created them. The Biblical account details Biblical Creationism, that God created everything that exists in a space of six days (Gen. 1:1-2:3). Biblical Creationism entails the truth that created entities appear to be older than they actually are. For example, God created humans who appeared to be twenty-five years of age, but were only moments old; God created forty-foot tall trees that were only moments old; God created stars with starlight already reaching the earth (Gen. 1:14-19). The lights in the heavens were to serve "for signs and for seasons and for days and years" (Gen. 1:14). They appeared to be far older than they actually were.
For a critical look at the Big Bang model from a Biblical Creationist point of view, see the article, "The Big Bang?" by Roger Patterson. See also the brief video, "Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe is Old?" by Astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle.
In summary, Biblical Creationism is far more rational than the Big Bang theory. With the Biblical account we have a complete explanation for everything that exists – for the existence of life, of personality, of order, design, purpose, wrong-doing, decay, death, truth, love, hate, accountability, consequences, the past, the present, and the future. Both theories, Biblical Creationism, and the Big Bang require faith. In a real sense, both are religious theories. No scientist was there to observe the origin of the universe. But God was, and He has given us His account. His account is more credible than that of the scientists and astrophysicists who promote the Big Bang. The choice as to whom you believe is incredibly important, and it has eternal consequences. The choice is yours.
Bishop, better, Overseer. In the New Testament the term "overseer" (often translated "bishop"), episkopos (1985) is an alternative and descriptive word for the term elder, presbuteros (4245), 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 (Acts 20:17, 28). 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.
Unfortunately, in many instances, the church at large has abused the office of overseer and called it "bishop." In fact, the very term "bishop" is not to be found in the Greek NT. What is found is the term episkopos (1985), literally translated, "overseer." As church history developed, certain individuals and churches began to ascribe special power and authority to a leading overseer. Him they called a "bishop." Subsequently a "bishop" came to hold authority over all the local churches of a city. Thus, he was, in some sense a "monarchical bishop." Eventually in church history there were five monarchical bishops who were said to hold authority over territories. They came to be called "Patriarchs." The five patriarchs were the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria. But the Bishop of Rome was given primacy due to a misrepresentation of Jesus' prediction about Peter (Matt. 16:18-19), and was called by Roman Catholics the "Pope," a term found nowhere in Scripture. In Roman Catholic thinking the "Bishop" of Rome, the "Pope," is the human head of the Church Universal, the "one true church" which they take to mean the visible, organized Catholic Church. None of this, of course, agrees with the Bible, and is to be rejected out of hand. In the Bible the terms episkopos (1985), overseer, and presbuteros (4245), elder, refer to the same leader (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7). The Bible, not church tradition, is infallible.
Blood Covenant. A covenant, or formal agreement, signed in blood. The most graphic blood covenant was that in which two parties killed animals, divided them in halves, and walked between the two halves. Presumably this covenant included a "self-maledictory" oath, saying, in effect, "May this be done to me if I do not keep this covenant." Though Ruth's commitment to her mother-in-law Naomi did not take the form of a blood covenant, she did use a self-maledictory oath (Ruth 1:16-17).The first example of a blood covenant was that between Yahweh and Abram (Gen. 15:7-21). In this case, Yahweh put Abram
into a trance and God Himself walked between the animals alone. In no
clearer way could God convey that this was to be a unilateral covenant between Himself and Abram. God's integrity alone was at stake in fulfilling the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant. Subsequently, circumcision was introduced as an obligatory human sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 17:1-14). Yahweh referenced this same type of blood covenant in Jer. 34:17-20
Another example of a Blood Covenant was the agreement between Yahweh and the nation of Israel. We sometimes call this covenant the Mosaic Covenant, for Moses was the mediator of the covenant. Since this covenant was between God and perhaps 2.5 million people, they could not all walk between the animals. But blood was used in this covenant, part of it sprinkled on the altar, representing God, and the rest sprinkled on the people. In this covenant Yahweh agreed to be Israel's invisible King who would care for and provide for them and protect them from their enemies, provided they would obey Him (Exod. 19:1-6). The people agreed (Exod. 19:7-8). God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exod. 19:7-25) a ten-word summary of Israel's responsibility (Exod. 20:1-17). Finally, the two parties came to a formal agreement. At the foot of the mountain burnt offerings and peace offerings of young bulls were sacrificed to Yahweh (Exod. 24:3-5). Half of the blood Moses sprinkled on the altar, representing God's agreement to the covenant (Exod. 24:6). After reading the terms of the covenant, to which the people agreed (Exod. 24:7), Moses sprinkled the blood of the covenant on the people, solemnly binding them to their promise of obedience (Exod. 24:8). Later, because of their repeated unfaithfulness and disobedience, God required the lives of all the older generation (Num. 14:20-38). A blood covenant meant the forfeiture of one's life if one reneged on his responsibility. It was not an idle promise.
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).
Book of Life. A book, presumably in heaven, in which are recorded the names of all who have trusted or who will one day trust in God and HIs Messiah, Jesus. Several passages in the NT refer to this book: Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27. It is twice referred to as "the Lamb's Book of Life" (Rev. 13:8; 21:27). For more information on this topic, see "The Book of Life."
Born Again. The act of God whereby He makes alive a spiritually dead sinner who has placed his faith in Jesus Christ. In his opening comments in his gospel, the Apostle John recorded that, though Jesus came to His own creation, His own people, the people of Israel, did not receive Him (John 1:11). On the other hand, to as many as did receive Him, also defined as those believing into Jesus' name, to them Jesus gave the authority to become children of God (John 1:12). These individuals John described as having been born (gennaō, 1080) not of bloods, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of a male, but of God (John 1:13). This concept of spiritual birth is also found in Jesus' statement to Nicodemus that he needed to be "born" (gennaō, 1080) "again" or "from above" (anōthen, 509) (John 3:3, 7), or else he could neither see nor enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). It is this passage in John 3:1-8 from which we derive the term "born again."
Actually, both "born again" and "born from above" are appropriate understandings of John 3:1-8. All people, as Nicodemus understood, are born. But to be "born again" means to be born spiritually. Obviously that spiritual birth comes "from above." Being born again, being born from above, and being born of (or by means of) the Holy Spirit all refer to the same thing. Those who trust in Jesus as the Messiah are miraculously and mysteriously born into the family of God. This makes God their spiritual Father. And it makes all Christians brothers and sisters in Christ, the greatest and most diverse family in the world.
Another term for being "born again" is "regeneration." The term "regeneration" (paliggenesia, 3824) in this sense is used only in Titus 3:5. The literal meaning of paliggenesia (3824) is from pŠlin (3825), "again" and gťnesis (1078), birth" or "beginning."
New birth, or being born spiritually, being born again, or being regenerated (they are all one in the same) is necessary inasmuch as when man is born physically, he is already dead spiritually, i.e., separated from God (Eph. 2:1). We inherited a sin nature from our parents, and anyone who insists he has no sin (nature) is merely deceiving himself and is bereft of the truth (1 John 3:8). God's salvation is not based upon deeds which we have done in righteousness, but upon His mercy (Tit. 3:5). His salvation is accomplished by the washing (loutron, 3067) of regeneration (paliggenesia, 3824) and by renewing (anakainōsis, 342) accomplished by the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5). Similarly, Jesus linked the new birth in John 3:5-8 to the activity of the Holy Spirit. Both Roman Catholics and certain mainline Protestant denominations believe that the "washing of regeneration" in Tit. 3:5 and the water in John 3:5 refer to water baptism. But the noun "washing" (loutron, 3067) in Tit. 3:5 refers to a bath or bathing, not to baptism (baptisma, 908). And the washing is defined as being "regeneration," not baptism. And in the context of Jesus' and Nicodemus' discussion, being "born of water" in John 3:5 far more likely refers to natural birth ("that which is born of the flesh is flesh") (John 3:4, 6) than it does to the ceremonial act of baptism. How can physical water ever cleanse a sin-polluted soul or spirit? Water baptism can no more regenerate a sinner or wash away his "original sin" than circumcising an Israeli's organ of procreation could circumcise his heart (Romans 2:29). See Four Different Types of Baptism.
The Roman Catholic explanation of Titus 3:5; of John 3:5. Return to text. I have attended Lutheran funerals in which the pastor intoned that the deceased "put on Christ" when he was baptized. Return to text.Other terms that convey the same idea as being "Born Again" are "New Birth," "Spiritual Birth," and "Regeneration."
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).
If you have difficulty locating a file, please contact the Web Master.
Background and Button Image Credit
Updated March 22, 2021