TEXTUAL INTERPRETATIONS

Text: Judge not, that ye be not judged.” – Matthew chapter 7: 1. 

Explanation: The interpretation some people give to this statement is very wrong and misleading. Christ himself gave its interpretation in verses 2, 3, 4 and 5, but many people have not the patience to read these verses, let alone understand them. He did not mean that we should not judge or criticise at all. Rather, he meant that before we judge we should make sure that we are in a position to do so in the sense that we ourselves are free from the fault for which we judge others. For if we too are guilty of what we criticise in others, they also will in return point accusing fingers at us.

In verse 2, Jesus continued: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” This will happen when the person who judges another is equally guilty in that as he criticises or treats others so too they will do to him, he being not free.

And in verses 3 and 4, Jesus Christ threw more light on the point when he further said: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”

It is possible some may still be in doubt as regards the intention of Christ or misconstrue the whole illustration; so he reprimanded those who always see others’ faults and not theirs, and positively stated what Christians should do, as it is written: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”

Text: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” – Hebrews 11:4.

Explanation:  Some people sometimes refer to the statement by St. Paul’s about Abel that “he (Abel) being dead yet speaketh”. This does not mean that Abel was talking after his death. Rather the apostle was explaining how by Abel’s illustrious example of faith, which made him offer a better sacrifice than Cain, he is being spoken of up till today as a righteous man to teach people about faith in God and the doing of things that are pleasing in His sight. The paraphrased epistles, LIVING LETTERS, by Kenneth N. Taylor, renders the text thus: “It was by faith that Abel obeyed God and brought an offering that pleased God more than Cain’s offering did. God accepted Abel and proved it by accepting his gift; and though Abel is long dead, we can still learn from him about trusting God.”

Text: “ And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” –  Mark 9:47, 48.

Explanation: It is very wrong to interpret this text literally because it will mean that we should pull out our eyes if they irritate or itch us and so on. Christ used the eye to symbolise anything that is precious to us. So he used the hand, foot, and eye separately to illustrate the value of sacrifices we, his followers, should make in order to prove ourselves worthy of the Kingdom of God.

In other words, Christ was saying in effect that if anything very dear to us would cause us to go to everlasting destruction, it will be better to deny ourselves and forsake that thing -even if it is as precious as an eye-so that we may enter God’s Kingdom.

The fire therefore is not a literal object but a symbol of the suffering or severe pain-“weeping and gnashing of teeth”-which God would make the wicked taste while alive before they go to perpetual destruction which is also known as the “second death”-that is, the death in which there is no more favour or chance of resurrection. After they have died, they do not suffer pain any more (Isaiah. 66: I5, 16; Romans 2:5,6,8-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Peter 3:7, 10; Revelation 21: 8).

Text: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matthew 11:11

Explanation: Great as John the Baptist was, Jesus pointed out that the least among the “Little Flock” or his anointed followers who are for the heavenly realm holds a higher position than he. This shows that John the Baptist and those before him are not for the kingdom of heaven.

Notwithstanding the fact that the ancient prophets and other holy men and women showed a high degree of faith in their days, it is God’s unquestionable will that the anointed Christians should hold a higher position in His holy organisation. St. Paul, having outlined in Hebrews chapter 11, how those great men and women of old including Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Rahab and others demonstrated their faith, he stated in verses 39 and 40, to wit: “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us (Anointed Christians) should not be made perfect.”

Text: “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?  Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” – Acts 2:12-13.

Explanation:  The point to note is that only the 12 apostles received the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  The people observing the event noted “these men are full of new wine” (verse13) – meaning that those speaking in tongues were only men. No woman was among them. Moreover, St. Peter’s reply to the scoffers also shows that only the 12 apostles were anointed. Dr. Luke’s report in verse 14 states “But Peter standing up with the eleven…” Obviously he rose in defence of himself and the other 11 apostles so falsely accused. It is misleading to teach or believe that the 120 brethren, including women and children residing in the upper chamber in Jerusalem were all anointed at Pentecost

In fulfilment of the Lord’s promise, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the 12 apostles in the form of cloven tongues of fire, making them to speak distinctly in various foreign languages which they had never learnt. (Acts 2:5-11).

The apostles spoke languages that were known to the people hence the pilgrims to Jerusalem were able to understand them. The charade commonly seen today in which some people in the guise of speaking in tongues utter meaningless sounds that could conveniently pass for demonic incantations is different from what happened on the day of Pentecost. As St. Peter eloquently explained, the event on the day of Pentecost was a fulfilment of prophecy of Joel.  It served to establish the Church, which was then in its infancy.  After the gift of speaking in tongues had served its purpose, it ceased. (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Text: : “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy ghost, (holy spirit) and with fire…” – Matthew 3:11.

Explanation: This statement of John the Baptist means that the mission of Christ was of a far higher order than his. After Christ had been baptized with water by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit alighted on him in the form of a dove. (Matthew 3:16-17) Thereafter he promised the apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit (or the spirit of anointing) which fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the spirit descended on them in the form of cloven tongues of fire. (Luke 24:47-49; Acts 1:3-8; Acts 2:1-41)  This was the baptism with the Holy Spirit spoken of by John the Baptist.

For the fact that the holy spirit helps, strengthens and teaches the servants of God to withstand the fiery trials that come their way at the instance of the devil, it is called the Comforter or the Teaching Spirit (John 14:26; John 15:26; 1 John 2:27) The holy spirit is meant to help, not to destroy people.- Romans 8:26.

The baptism of fire mentioned earlier is not about retribution but refers to the suffering which Christ and those of the heavenly class face in the course of their ministry on earth.  In the Psalms, the prophet David wrote under the inspiration of God: “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Psalms 50:5)  By virtue of the “covenant of sacrifice” the servants of God are prepared to suffer anything, including death, in the course of their ministry. Because they of the heavenly class suffer tribulations all their days on earth Christ declared thus: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. “- Revelation 2:10.

Text: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” – Matthew 11:12.

Explanation: When Jesus Christ spoke of the kingdom of heaven suffering “violence” and  the “violent” taking it by force, he meant that the devil and his agents use violence to continually persecute the true servants of God and make false claims to the kingdom. History is replete with records of atrocities committed by so-called Church leaders against those they called ‘heretics’.  Such churches have proved themselves not to be the servants of God. – Revelation 2:9; 3:9.

St. Paul states: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

Text: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” – John 14:12-14.

Explanation: Miracle workers frequently make reference to this citation to  support their claims. But the truth is that Jesus Christ was not talking about miracles in this text as even a cursory reading of the Synoptic gospels and the Acts would show that the Disciples of Christ never did greater miracles that he did.  The primary mission of Jesus Christ was to preach the gospel (Luke 4:43) And for the three and half years of his ministry, he concentrated primarily on the Jews. (Matthew 10: 5; 15: 26,27) What Jesus Christ meant was that his disciples would do the work of dispensing the gospel for a far longer period and to many more nations than he did. – Luke 24:45-47; Acts 1:8

God knowing that the devil mimics every aspect of His work, has made it clear in the scriptures that the test or proof of true discipleship in these last days will not be the performance of miracles but the ability to interpret the scriptures and dispense the truth which if people believe and practice, will lead them to salvation. – 1 John 2: 27; John 8: 31,  32; 1 Timothy 2: 3,4; etc

Is there anything like Holy Ghost?

Answer: There is nothing like Holy Ghost. The word ghost, according to The New Imperial Reference Dictionary comes from the archaic English word g’ast which is derived from the German word geist, meaning “a spirit appearing after death”. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary says it means “the spirit of a dead person appearing to somebody who is still living” while the Websters New World Dictionary defines ghost as among other things “the supposed disembodied spirit of a dead person, conceived of as appearing to the living as a pale, shadowy apparition”

The word holy ghost was wrongly used by the translators of the King James Version of the Bible to stand for holy spirit. For instance Matthew 28:19 is rendered thus in the King James Version “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” But this has been amended in the New King James Version to read “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The idea that a person continues to live after death, which is the meaning carried by the word ghost is of course superstitious, devilish and completely alien to the truth of the Scriptures. (Genesis 3:1-4) In Hebrews 9:27 St. Paul declared unequivocally: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. Also, the prophet Solomon stated: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” – Eccl 9:5, 6, 10.  See also Psalm 146:3, 4.

It could be seen therefore that once a man dies, he becomes unconscious, lifeless, and inactive. He does not become a “ghost” wandering about but remains in the grave until the day of resurrection. -John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:14, 15.