Start with a pinch of Homer, add two cups of scriptural interpretation, slowly pour in some secret ingredients and blend with copious amounts of wild imagination. Chop into 11 parts (more depending on your appetite), cook on low heat, and let simmer for 1500 years. Serve along with Scripture.
This recipe for imitation Bible is known as the Apocrypha. The Roman Catholic Church serves it as main fare in their version of the Scriptures. Before you indulge on this literary concoction, first consider the ingredients. Apocrypha means “things hidden or concealed.” It is from the Greek word apokryphos and it concerns writings that at first were not read publicly. Later, Apocrypha came to be understood as spurious and uncanonical writings.
In common usage, Apocrypha refers to the 11 books (some say 14) made a part of some Bibles by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in 1546. This council itself dropped three of the apocryphal books that had been admitted at the Council of Carthage in 397. Those dropped were Prayer of Manasses and 1 and 2 Esdras. All three had appeared for 1,100 years in the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible, completed by Jerome in 405.
The Apocrypha was written between the third and first centuries B.C.E. in the period between the Old and New Testaments. Because of that, some Bibles place the Apocrypha between their Old and New Testament pages.
The books generally recognized as constituting the Apocrypha are: 1, 2 Maccabees; Prayer of Manasses; 1, 2 Esdras; Tobit; Judith; Wisdom; Ecclesiasticus (a.k.a. Sirach); Baruch and Epistle of Jeremy; supplements to Esther and three additions to Daniel include: The Song of the Three Children, Susanna and the Elders, the
Destruction of Bel and the Dragon; and the Letters of Jeremiah.
Jews Rejected Apocrypha
The trend toward including these works as part of the Scriptures was initiated by Augustine in 354 to 430. Although acknowledging some of the historical values of the books, Augustine admitted there was a definite difference between these “outside books” and the Inspired Word.
These spurious works were found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. This fact alone gives no credence to the argument that the Apocrypha was part of the inspired canon, because no original copies of the Septuagint exist to support such a position. In fact, the Jewish Council of Jamnia in 90 C.E. specifically excluded the Apocrypha from the Hebrew canon of Inspired Scripture.
It was the Jews who were entrusted with preserving the Old Testament Bible. Paul testified to that fact, “What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of Yahweh,” Romans 3:1-2. By oracles Paul meant the actual words of Yahweh, given to Moses and the prophets, Acts 7:38.
No other literary work has been preserved better through the ages than the Bible. The Scribes were meticulous in their dedication to transcribe Scripture exactly. If there were any authenticity to the Apocrypha the Jews would have recognized it. On the contrary. They rejected it.
Neither was any stamp of approval given by Josephus, the first century historian. He said, “For there are not with us myriads of books, discordant and discrepant, but only two and twenty (equivalent to the 39 books of Hebrew Scripture), comprising the history of all time, which are justly accredited.”
Josephus acknowledged that the Hebrew Canon was complete following the books of Nehemiah and Malachi in the 5th century B.C.E. He wrote, “From the time of Artaxerxes up to our own everything has been recorded, but the records have not accounted equally worthy of credit with those written before them, because the exact succession of prophets ceased.” The Bible itself is testimony to the great lengths Yahweh went to preserve the Scriptures.
Jeremiah had been prophesying for 23 years in the 36th chapter of his book. Yahweh commanded him to write his prophecies in a book to be read in the synagogue. When King Jehoiakim heard some of the prophecies he threw the scroll into a fire. With the help of a scribe, Jeremiah rewrote the entire book through Yahweh’s inspiration. If the apocryphal books were to be part of the Hebrew Canon, why is not a single one of them quoted in the New Testament? There are hundreds of quotations of the Old Testament included in the New, yet not one original quotation from one of the apocryphal books is found.
Books with Flaws
The Bible contains no errors. Any mistakes found in modern translations are by translators or editors. Most did not have a grasp of Yahweh’s entire plan of salvation and didn’t understand how the Bible complements itself. The mere historical and literary accuracy of Scripture is testimony to holy inspiration.
The same is not true of the Apocrypha. The best evidence for the bogus nature of the Apocrypha is found in the books themselves. Two of the writers imply that the works are not inspired. In the prologue to Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), we find, ”…my grandfather Jesus, after devoting himself especially to the reading of the law and the prophets and the other books of our fathers, and after acquiring considerable proficiency in them, was himself led to write wisdom…” We get the idea of a cut-and- paste job in the books of Maccabees. From 2 Maccabees 2:25 and 28 we discover this admission, “We have aimed to please those who wish to read, to make it easy for those who are inclined to memorize, and to profit all readers…leaving the responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our effort to arriving at the outlines of condensation.”
Lacking a prophetic element, the Apocrypha at times contradict the Bible and even themselves. They are full of historical and geological inaccuracies as well as errors in fact and mistakes in time. Each of these mistakes is witness to the fallible men who wrote them.
Their Errors Are Legion
Let’s take a look at a few of the Apocryphal books and discover why they are classified as uninspired.
The Book of Enoch – Jude 1:14: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, Yahweh cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are wicked among them of all their wicked deeds which they have unrighteously committed, and of all their hard speeches which wicked sinners have spoken against him.”
This is a prophecy by the man Enoch. It is found in the non-canonical 1Enoch 1:9. The words, “Book of Enoch” are nowhere found in Scripture. The Jews did not include this book in their accepted canon, and they were the ones entrusted with that very responsibility by Yahweh Himself, Romans 3:2. The book called Enoch did not appear before the first century BCE. A Restoration Study Bible note in Jude 1:14 from Barnes’ Commentary reads, “There is, indeed, now an apocryphal writing called the Book of Enoch containing a prediction strongly resembling this, but there is no certain proof that it existed so early as the time of Jude, nor if it did, is it absolutely certain that he quoted from it. Both Jude and the author of that book may have quoted a common tradition of their time, for there can be no doubt that the passage referred to was handed down by tradition.”
The Book of Tobit or Tobias is about a pious Jew who is deported to Nineveh. Blinded by bird dung, he sends his son Tobias to collect a debt. During the journey Tobias acquires the gall of a fish that restores his father’s sight.
Estimated to be from the third century B.C.E., Tobit has a serious chronological flaw, among other problems. It says Tobit saw the revolt of the northern tribes (997 B.C.E.) and was on the scene when the tribe of Naphtali was deported to Ninevah (740 B.C.E.). That would mean he lived more than 257 years. But Tobit 14:1-3 gives his age as 102 when he died.
The fact of two authors brings confusion to the Book of Baruch. The first five chapters are made to look as if Baruch wrote them. The sixth chapter is presented as a letter written by Jeremiah. Baruch is said to live in Babylon (1:1, 2) although the Bible says he went to Egypt. In his preface to the Book of Jeremiah, Jerome said, “I have not thought it worthwhile to translate the Book of Baruch.”
In Judith events are said to have occurred during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar who is called the king “who reigned over the Assyrians in the great city of Ninevah,” Judith 1:1, 7. The fact is that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon and never reigned in Ninevah because Ninevah was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar. Furthermore, the introduction to the Jerusalem Bible notes that the itinerary of officer Holofernes is a “geographical impossibility.”
A case of mistaken authorship is found in Wisdom. Certain texts in this book present Solomon as its author (9:7, 8, 12). The Jerusalem Bible states that this is a “literary device,” because Wisdom cites passages of Scripture written centuries after Solomon died. Also in Wisdom are advanced the erroneous doctrines of the immortality of the soul (2:23; 3:2, 4) as well as the preexistence of human souls, 8:19, 20 and 9:15. Wisdom of Solomon (11:17) states that G-d “created the world out of formless matter.” Tobit and Judith contain many historical, chronological, and geographical errors.
Perhaps the most valuable of the Old Testament Apocrypha are I and II Maccabees. These two books arebasically historical accounts of the Jewish struggle for independence during the second century B.C.E. They concern the exploits of a priest named Mattathias and his five sons who revolted against Antiochus Epiphanes in his attempt to destroy the Jews and their religion. The works are characteristically written from the human standpoint and did not form part of the inspired Canon.
New Forgeries Flourish
With the advent of the New Testament, new apocryphal works popped up like blossoms in April. There are about 50 spurious “gospels” besides many apocryphal Acts and Epistles. Written mostly beginning in the second century, these works imitated the Evangels, Acts, Letters of Paul and Revelation.
They were partly an attempt to fill in the gaps purposely left open by the inspired New Testament writers. For example, two books purport to detail the events of Yahshua’s youth, information the Bible is purposely silent on. They picture Him as a capricious child performing miracles at whim with supernatural powers.
Of the later apocryphal works, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says, “Many of them are trivial, some are highly theatrical, some are disgusting, even loathsome.” These imitation works were excluded from the New Testament writings in the same way the Hebrew Canon was kept pure of the older Apocrypha.
The Apocrypha are the source of some of the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. Here is a glimpse of some of the spurious works appearing after the New Testament’s advent:
• Gospel of Nicodemus. A purely imaginary report on the trial of Yahshua to the emperor Tiberius (2nd or 5th century).
• Passing of Mary. Silly miracles, ending with the removal of her “spotless and precious body” to Paradise. Written in the 4th century with the rise of virgin worship.
• Nativity of Mary. Deliberate forgery of the 6th century to further worship of the Virgin Mary. Stories about daily visits of angels to Mary. Immensely popular as papacy grew.
• The Gospel of the Egyptians. Imaginary conversations between Yahshua and Salome (130-150)
• Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. (note the name!) A 5th century forged translation of Matthew, abounding with the supposed childhood miracles of Yahshua.
• Gospel of Thomas. A 2nd century work on Yahshua’s life from the 5th to the 12th year. Makes him a miracle worker to satisfy his boyish whims.
• Apocalypse of Peter. Purported visions of heaven and hell granted to Peter. Called spurious by Eusebius.
Bible’s Truth Preserved
With all the attempts to imitate the Bible, the holy inspiration of Scripture is borne out time after time. With each archaeological discovery, the Bible and its authenticity stand durable. The Psalmist wrote, “The statutes of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether,” Psalm 19:8 and 9.
Henry Halley, in his Bible Handbook, sums up the Bible’s veracity beautifully: “If you assume that the Bible is just what it appears to be, accept the books as we have them in the Bible as units, study them to know their contents, you will find there a unity of thought indicating that one mind inspired the writing and compilation of the whole series of books. That it bears on its face the stamp of its author. [Yahweh] Himself superintended and directed and dictated the writing of the Bible books, with the human authors so completely under His control that the writing was [Yahweh’s] writing. The Bible is [Yahweh’s] Word, in a sense that no other book in the world is [Yahweh’s] Word.”
Eight Reasons Why the Apocrypha Are Not Inspired Scripture
Unlike other Scriptures, none of the apocryphal writers claims to be inspired.
Unlike the Old Testament, the Apocrypha are nowhere quoted in the New.
The Apocrypha are tainted with errors in fact and time, exposing non-inspiration.
The Apocrypha contain fabulous statements which not only contradict the “canonical” scriptures but also themselves. For example, in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in three different places.
The Apocrypha include doctrines in variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead, sinless perfection, and immortality of the soul.
The apocryphal books were never acknowledged as sacred scriptures by the Jews, custodians of the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, the Jewish people rejected and destroyed the Apocrypha after the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Not one of the apocryphal books is written in the Hebrew language, which was used by all the inspired writers of the Old Testament. All apocryphal books are in Greek, except one which exists only in Latin.
The apocryphal books were not permitted among the sacred books during the first four centuries of the common era.
A proper and accurate understanding of the Bible is so important that our very salvation hinges on it. Whether we walk in Truth will hinge on our grasp of the Truth. Paul told Timothy: “Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine [proper teachings]; continue in them: for in doing this you shall save both yourself, and them that hear you,” 1Timothy 4:16.
For a variety of reasons some passages create difficulty. Doctrinal problems result if care isn’t taken to rightly divide the Word.
Some Bible students approach the Word in a piecemeal way, yanking verses or parts of verses out of context with damaging and even dangerous results. The story is told of a man who did this very thing while looking for an answer to a dilemma in his life.
Not knowing where or even how to look, he closed his eyes, flipped through his Bible’s pages, and happened to drop his finger down on Matthew 27:5: “Judas went and hanged himself.”
That wasn’t much help so he tried again, this time stopping on Luke 10:37, where Yahshua said, “Go and do likewise.”
He’d try one more time, his finger landing on John 13:27, “That thou doest, do quickly.”
Poor Study Methods Yield Error
One cannot afford to be careless with the Scriptures. The Word is given for proper doctrine, correction, and instruction in righteous living, 2Timothy 3:16. Paul also told Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved unto Elohim, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth,” 2Timothy 2:15.
So how can we study Yahweh’s Word and know that we are properly understanding it? Five principles of Bible study will help guide us in getting the truth from each verse, while solving most problems presented by the more difficult passages.
Principle One: Take it at Face Value
The first principle of proper Bible understanding is to take the passage just as it reads. Look first for the literal meaning. A symbolic or deeper sense of the passage will often be evident, especially in combination with other related verses.
When Yahweh commands, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” Exodus 20:8, and then explains that we are to work six days and rest the seventh, He means to keep the Sabbath literally by resting from work. He does not mean to remember it by just thinking about the Sabbath or its significance while continuing to labor on the seventh day. The passage would be better rendered, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” which is how a few versions render it. This shows that the command is not intended for just a spiritual application, as some teach, but for literal ceasing from labor, a fact made obvious by consulting other translations.
Principle Two: Read the Passage in Context
When faced with a difficult verse, read all the verses surrounding it. Read what comes immediately before and after the passage. Read the entire chapter, if necessary. Often this will reveal the true meaning.
As obvious as this principle is, even many “experts” fail to apply it and end up twisting a passage or missing its meaning entirely. An example of this is Romans 14:5, which has been used to support Sunday worship. “One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
By reading the entire chapter we can plainly see that Paul is addressing the practices of fasting and vegetarianism, and is not discussing the day of rest.
Principle three: Let Scripture Explain Itself
The biggest mistake of popular worship is a failure to harmonize the Scriptures, a violation that has led to a myriad of contradictory teachings. A verse will never disagree with any other passage in the Word.
In John 10:35 Yahshua said the Scriptures cannot be broken (“broken” is the Greek luo, meaning to loosen or dissolve). Paul in 2Timothy 3:16 tells us that ALL Scripture is inspired, meaning it is “Yahweh breathed.” And Yahweh never contradicts Himself, Hebrews 6:18.
In the same way we cannot read of the Savior’s plain instruction to the young man, “If you will enter into life, keep the Commandments,” Matthew 19:17, and then turn right around and say he abolished the law at His death, rendering His directive to the young man useless and pointless.
When a particular view of a passage does not seem to hold up in light of other Scriptures that say the opposite, then something is wrong with our understanding of the passage.
Principle Four: Know the Context
You often need to know the reason a passage was written in order to understand it properly; it may also be very helpful to know to whom the passage was written and why.
For example, 1Corinthians 16:2 has been grossly misinterpreted to support worship on the first day of the week. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as Yahweh has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” “Lay by him in store” does not refer to passing an offering plate at a church service on Sunday morning. Rather, Paul is seeking help for a drought-induced famine situation in Jerusalem. He asks that the brethren in Corinth have their aid ready to give to the Jerusalem brethren on the first day of the week so that he can pick it up when he comes by. “Day” is not in the Greek but is an added word by translators.
No reference to a Sunday worship service is intended or implied. A careful reading of the first 4 verses reveals the truth of the circumstance and will dispel any erroneous conclusions drawn from this passage.
Some believe that Paul taught against observing Sabbaths and Feasts in Galatians 4:8-11: “Howbeit then, when you knew not Elohim, you did service unto them which by nature are no g-ds. But now, after that you have known Elohim, or rather are known of Elohim, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.”
If we understand that the Galatians were converts from a pagan place called Gaul (an area of old France from which they derived their name), then it is clear that he is telling them to stop going back to their old heathen ways. The “days, and months, and times, and years” he is speaking about is not the Sabbath and Feasts commanded at Sinai, but their old false worship, which is defined as “weak and beggarly,” being without substance and truth. Yahweh’s days are never referred to as weak and beggarly,
but part of His laws that are defined as “holy…and just, and good,” Romans 7:12.
Principle Five: Language and Grammar
Anyone who has studied a foreign language knows that nuances of meaning are often lost in the translation. By returning to the original languages as much as possible, one can come much closer to understanding the passage.
The common interpretation of Romans 10:4 is that Yahshua did away with the law. “For Messiah is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.” The Greek word “end” is telos and means “goal.” Far from being the termination of the law, Yahshua is the very purpose for the law! The law aims at Him. The law transforms us to be like Yahshua when we adhere to it. He said in Matthew 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my father Which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.”
Now we can employ principles three and five together. The same word telos is found in James 5:11, “…you have heard the patience of Job, and have seen the end [telos] of Yahweh, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.”
The same word telos is used in both passages. If telos means “end,” as in end of the law, then Yahweh has come to an end, too. In truth, telos means “goal” in both verses.
Another example of the importance of knowing the original meaning of words is in Matthew 25:46, which has been popularly interpreted to say that the wicked go to an ever-burning hell fire to roast in agony for eternity. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
The word “punishment” is from the Greek kolasis, and signifies a “lopping off.” It derives from No. 2849 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Greek dictionary and means to curtail. Properly interpreted, the verse tells us that the wicked will forever be “cut off,” their lives “curtailed.”
This agrees with 2Thessalonians 1:9, which reads that the wicked “shall be punished with an everlasting destruction from the presence of Yahweh and from the glory of his power.” Destruction” in this verse is the Greek olethros and means to destroy, not live forever sizzling in sulfurous flames for an eternity in a world of fiery brimstone.
Choosing a good Bible translation can be a daunting task. Walking into a bookstore you are faced with dozens of options and unless you know what purpose each translation serves, you can easily feel overwhelmed.
To understand why so many versions exist you must realize the difficulties in translating from Hebrew and Greek texts into English. A goal of any good Bible should be to have an accurate translation while at the same time using a style that sounds natural to an English-speaking person. To be accurate, however, the text also must express the same meaning that was intended when it was originally written or spoken. And to sound natural the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek needs to be translated into the right words and expressions.
Difficulties in Translation
To accomplish this goal most Bibles are completed by a committee of scholars who ultimately need to overcome the following difficulties:
Many Hebrew and Greek words have no direct equivalent in English. Some words have multiple meanings in English and some have no English equivalent. For example, the Greek has many words for “love” (eros, phileo, agape, storgay). The translator must determine the original meaning of the word and then accurately translate the word into English.
Thousands of years separate us from Biblical times. For translators to understand the text they need to understand the setting and culture in which it was written.
There are figures of speech in the Hebrew and Greek that do not make sense in English. Part of understanding the language of Biblical times is understanding the idioms and euphemisms commonly used then, and then finding an accurate English interpretation.
Even after translators overcome these difficulties there are still meanings lost in the translation, like Hebrew wordplays and acrostics, both of which are unique to the language they were written in. Often, the translators will just add a footnote to point these out.
Methods of Translation
Translators use many methods to create new Bible versions, and each version can be put into a category. These categories are good for comparing Bible translations because they are a good indicator of the purpose of the version, and summarize which method the translators used. Following are the major methods of translating:
Formal Equivalent (word-for-word)In this version translators try to reproduce the Hebrew or Greek language word-for-word, sometimes at the expense of expressing a passage in a way that sounds natural in English. Because this type is as close as possible to the original text, it is good for Bible studies but may require advanced knowledge of the language and historic setting to fully understand.
Dynamic Equivalent (thought-for-thought)In the dynamic equivalent the Hebrew or Greek has been more loosely translated to make understanding easier. Instead of word-for-word meaning, the translators will take phrases or thoughts and translate them into a modern equivalent that the average person would understand. While these versions are easier to read than their Formal Equivalent counterparts, some scriptures are more interpretations than translations.
Free Translation (Paraphrase)Some Bible versions are complete paraphrases of the original text, or even of other versions. Translators will re-word whole passages, focusing on readability instead of staying true to the original. Some versions paraphrase to the extent that many details are lost. For that reason these may be suitable for personal devotions or youth Bibles but not so suitable for Bible studies as are other versions.
With these categories in mind, presented below are reviews of several of the most widely available Bible versions. Most Bibles have this type of information in the preface or it can be found on the publisher’s website.
King James Version (KJV)
The King James Version is the most circulated and well-known version of the Bible. Originally printed in 1611, this version was authorized by King James I of England in an attempt to unify the kingdom by providing a single version to replace the various English translations that existed at the time.
The translators of the KJV relied heavily on the work of William Tyndale, whose translations had been used in the first English versions printed in the prior century. The King James Version is not without error, and does not always match more recent versions, which have been updated with manuscripts not yet discovered in 1611.
The KJV is a word-for-word (Formal Equivalent) translation, and although some scriptures contain antiquated language (the English language has evolved a lot in 400 years), the KJV contains the flowery Shakespearean language that many have come to love. Take for example Psalm 23:2-3: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, an update to the KJV was sponsored by Thomas Nelson Publishers. This New King James Version was completed in 1982 and sought to address the archaic language in the KJV (e.g., thee, thou, ye, -est, -eth) while keeping the stylistic beauty of the KJV. This update is still a word-for-word translation and, therefore, an acceptable version for Bible studies.
When translating Yahweh’s Name, the translators of the KJV substituted “lord” in small capital letters. “Yahshua” was substituted with “Jesus.” In fact, one of the mistakes of the translators was to make this substitution for the name of Old Testament general “Joshua” in Hebrews 4:78 and Acts 7:45, which renders the passages meaningless.
The Revised Standard Version (RSV)
The King James Version spawned several revisions in an attempt to correct some of the translation issues and update the language. One of these revisions is the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV), which was the basis for the Revised Standard Version. Like the KJV and the ASV, the RSV is a word-for-word translation. The RSV is easier to read and some believe this version accomplished the goal of readability while staying true to the original text. When it was originally published in 1952 it replaced the KJV in many churches as their Bible of choice. Like the KJV, the name Yahweh was rendered in this translation in small capitals as LORD.
The Amplified Bible
This version was created to give more depth to key words and phrases translated from the original languages by “amplifying” them with synonyms and definitions placed right in the text inside parenthesis and brackets. This version also includes cross-references and commentary in the footnotes.
Psalm 23:2-3 in the Amplified Bible reads, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.”
The Amplified Bible is based on the 1901 American Standard Version, but according to the publisher’s website, it “attempts to go beyond the ‘word-for-word’ translation to bring out the richness of the Hebrew and Greek languages.” The Amplified Bible was printed in stages over a period of about 10 years until the complete version was published in 1964 by the Lockman Foundation.
This version was not meant to be a stand-alone version, but rather to complement other Bibles. “Yahweh” is rendered in this translation in title case as Lord.
New American Standard (NASB)
This version is also a revision of the 1901 American Standard Version printed by the Lockman Foundation. The project started in 1959 and was a collaboration of conservative scholars from various religious backgrounds. The goal was to create a version that is grammatically correct and easy to understand, while being true to the original languages (a literal word-for-word translation) incorporating texts that had been newly discovered. The complete Bible was printed in 1971 and became the best-selling Bible until the New International Version was published later in the decade.
To enhance readability each verse starts on a new line, and paragraphs are marked by boldface verse numbers. Any quotations from the Old Testament that appear in the New Testament are printed in small capital letters. The NASB also has an extensive cross-referencing system, and occasionally includes alternate translations in the margins. These qualities make it a good study Bible.
Yahweh was rendered in this translation in small capitals as LORD.
New International Version (NIV)
The project for the NIV started in 1965 after a meeting between the Christian Reformed Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, and other Bible scholars. Their desire was for a version that used contemporary English, one that was accurate and readable, and that fell somewhere between formal and dynamic equivalence. The NIV is not as literal as the versions that preceded it like the NASB or RSV, but is arguably easier to read. There is some debate over whether the NIV is suitable for Bible study because of the emphasis put on being a thought-for-thought translation.
With the support of the New York Bible Society (now the International Bible Society) and Zondervan Bible Publishers, the work began in the late 1960s and involved over 100 scholars from different religious backgrounds (some in different countries). One of the most costly translation projects, the NIV quickly became the fastest selling Bible and remains one of the most popular Bibles. The NIV is available in many forms, like the NIV Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible.
Another revision to the NIV has just been completed, and printing of the new NIV is scheduled for later this year.
In 1996, Zondervan also published The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV), which is a revision of the NIV intended for youth or anyone to whom English is a second language. The sentences were shortened, and an easier vocabulary was used, and this version is more of a dynamic equivalence translation and not especially suitable for Bible study.
In 2005 Zondervan published Today’s New International Reader’s Version (TNIV), yet another spinoff of the NIV, with updated English intended to engage young adults. Some of the updates were made to remove gender references. For example, Genesis 1:27 reads “…human beings in his own image,” instead of “…man in his own image.” The main purpose of this version was to make the English more clear to modern readers.
In the NIV Yahweh is rendered LORD in small capital letters. Adonai is rendered Lord with small letters. When the two are found together in the Old Testament in reference to Yahweh, they are rendered “Sovereign LORD.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
This version was created to be easily accessible to those who are accustomed to reading in modern English. Published in 1996 by Tyndale Publishers, this started as a major revision of The Living Bible (which was a paraphrase of the 1901 American Standard Version), but as the translators referenced more recent manuscripts, the NLT because a much more accurate translation than The Living Bible. Still, as a dynamic equivalence translation, there are better versions for Bible study than the NLT.
This version is a paraphrase that uses a lot of English figures-of-speech. The version was created in about 10 years by pastor Eugene H. Peterson, and published in its complete form in 2002. About this version, Peterson said, “This paraphrase is not meant to replace one’s current Bible. Rather it was designed as a reading Bible that can provide a fresh perspective.”
Psalm 23:2-3 in this version reads, “You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”
As with any paraphrase, a true worshiper should be cautious with paraphrased Bibles because they can reflect the opinions and religious views of the person(s) doing the paraphrasing, whether they are aligned with Yahweh’s word or not.
Sacred Name Versions
Most mainstream versions of the Bible have taken out the sacred Names of Yahweh and Yahshua, and in their place put pagan terms or erroneous transliterations. There are now a handful of Bible translations that have restored the sacred names. Most of them are based on translations discussed earlier, like the King James Version or the 1901 American Standard Version. Because these versions are literal translations they make good Bibles for studying. The obvious benefit of having a sacred Name Bible is that you do not have to mentally restore the sacred names as you are reading the text.
At the time of this writing, Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry was in the final stages of producing The Restoration Study Bible (RSB) and raising funds for an initial printing. An online version is now available at www.restorationstudybible.org There you can view the text with and without Strong’s numbering along with Strong’s definitions. We plan to add study notes in the near future.
The RSB project started two years ago and is being completed by a group of volunteers from Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry. The goal of this version is to provide a sound study Bible with the sacred Names restored. No such Bible has ever been done. The version is based on the original King James Version, a word-for-word translation, in order to remain close to the original text. The KJV was also chosen as the basis because it is easy to cross-reference in Hebrew/Greek dictionaries and lexicons for deeper study into the Word.
Every significant word in the RSB includes a Strong’s reference number corresponding to a definition in Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. This version also includes character profiles in the footnotes as well as commentary and word definitions. The commentary explains popular error and some of the translation issues in the KJV that have led to error. To enhance readability each verse begins on a new line, and paragraphs are marked with a paragraph symbol. Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are printed in small capital letters, and each quotation includes a cross-reference in the footnotes.
As True Worshipers, we should be looking to the Bible as the Word given to us by Yahweh to guide our lives. Deciding which version to use for our devotions and Bible studies should not be taken lightly because there are so many translations to choose from and some are much better than others.
You could say there is no perfect English translation. Several translations have been created in an attempt to improve upon the ones before, and new translations and revisions will continue to be produced. A good rule of thumb is to get a good formal equivalence translation for Bible studies. You could also benefit by having more than one version so you can compare how different translators render passages into English. Additionally, a good Hebrew/Greek lexicon is very helpful in finding the possible English meaning and renderings of the original words.
We are anticipating that the RSB currently being produced by Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry will be very useful in Bible studies, and we are confident it would make a great addition to your collection of Bible translations.
Few deceptions in human history have caused more damage to the truth of Yahweh’s Word than the theory of evolution. Most people consider the theory of Darwin harmless, but truth be told this theory is anything but harmless.
The ultimate goal of evolution is to remove Yahweh, the creative source and power behind this universe. If Darwin’s theory of creative advancement can convince this world that evolution was the mechanism for man’s existence, then man has no need for Yahweh or the morality of His Word.
A Harvard geneticist and leading evolutionist, Richard Lewontin, confirms this view, “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door” (In Six Days, John Ashton, Ph.D., p. 76).
It is the goal of this article to prove by Yahweh’s Word and scientific evidence that the theory of evolution is nothing more than a deception and a lie of the Evil One. Some of the scientific proofs that this article will consider are the “evidence” for evolution, the second law of thermodynamics, the facts of mutation, and complexity of life. After considering this evidence we hope that those who may give credence to this unholy theory might agree from both Yahweh’s Word and science that evolution is indeed a deceptive travesty of HaSatan.
In one of the plainest passages showing Yahweh’s creation, the Apostle Paul offers prophetic insight that few could disagree with. “…because what may be known of Yahweh is manifest in them, for Yahweh has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [Majesty], so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:19-20, NKJV).
The Apostle Paul verified that the heavens and the earth serve are a visible sign and testimony to not only Yahweh’s existence, but also to His very attributes. Since Yahweh’s creation testifies of his creative power and existence, those who reject Him have no justification for their rebellion.
Paul was not alone in writing of man’s rejection. Peter, one of Yahshua’s most devoted apostles, also told of man’s rebellion. “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of Yahweh the heavens were of old…” (2Peter 3:5, NKJV).
Peter affirms in this passage that it was through Yahweh’s Word that the heavens and earth came into being and verifies that man deliberately forgets and ignores this truth. Why? As Satan rebelled with the intent of becoming equal to the Most High (Isa. 14:14), mankind is doing the same through the theory of evolution. If man can remove Yahweh’s creative presence from this universe then man is free to believe that no power, no Being, and no authority higher than man exists. This gives man the claim that he is the supreme mighty one.
From a Biblical perspective it is clear that the heavens and earth are testimony to Yahweh’s inspired creation. Now when it comes to this universe, does science contradict scripture? While many scientists might say that scripture and science are in opposition and incompatible to one another, there are many who see the harmony between the two.
Evolution Versus Science
Is Darwinian or macroevolution science? One person of many who share the belief that Darwinian evolution is not science is Dr. John Kramer. According to Dr. Kramer: “No one has ever demonstrated macro evolutionary changes on a molecular level, yet many people readily speculate evolutionary links between bacteria, plants, animals, and man” (In Six Days, p. 47).
Dr. Kramer, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and currently serves as associate editor of the Scientific Journal, raises an important question. What does this mean for those who advocate that Darwinian evolution is a legitimate science? The answer depends on how one defines science. According to most definitions science contains three elements: observation, hypothesis, and reproduction. In a recent essay, Dr. Jeremy Walter corroborates this definition: “Science is the human enterprise of seeking accurately and quantitatively the nature and processes of our universe through observation, hypothesis, and experimental validation” (In Six Days, p. 47).
The problem is that no observable evidence has ever been found to verify and substantiate the claim of macroevolution. With this being the case it is the opinion of many leading scientists that Darwinian evolution is not a valid science. “Scientists who utterly reject evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities…Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science” (The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel, p. 31).
Second Law of Thermodynamics
A basic law of nature that contradicts macro evolutionary changes is the second law of thermodynamics. Dr. John Cimbala, Ph.D. from CalTech, offers the following definition for this scientific law: “A formal definition of the second law of thermodynamics is: ‘in any closed system, a process proceeds in a direction such that the unavailable energy increases.’ In other words, in any closed system, the amount of disorder always increases with time. Things progress naturally from order to disorder, or from an available energy state to one where energy is more unavailable” (In Six Days, p. 201).
According to this natural law all aspects of the universe break down over time and become unusable. We see that every day, as buildings left unattended will decay and collapse; the same is true with anything that man constructs. Dr. Don DeYoung states that death itself is a consequence of this law. “The second basic law of nature…Stated in another way, everything deteriorates, breaks down, and becomes less ordered with time. Ultimately, death itself is a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics” (Ibid., p. 343).
If death itself is a result of the second law of thermodynamics, how could life have evolved as explained by Darwinian evolution? In other words, how could life go from disorder to order – wonderful in its complexity and design? The cornerstone theory of evolution defies a basic law of nature.
Mutations and Loss of Information
Darwinian evolution also contradicts the laws of mutation. It is believed by most evolutionists that life arose from numerous mutations over million of years. Before delving into how mutations occur, it is first important to establish that the mutation supported by Darwinian evolution is macroevolution. A theoretical example of macroevolution is a bird evolving from a reptile. Now it is absolutely essential to point out that macroevolution has never been confirmed through human observation or even by the fossil record. The missing link that so many evolutionists speak about is just that – a missing link.
The only observable form of mutation is what occurs on the molecular level, such as DNA and different forms of bacteria. It is important to understand that this mutation, however, is not supportive of macroevolution. The reason why mutation on the molecular level does not support macroevolution is that these mutations always occur from a loss of genetic information, thus not allowing macro evolutionary advancements. Dr. Ariel Roth, a leading biologist with a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Michigan and an editor for the Origins journal for 23 years, verifies that for the above reasons macro evolutionary advancements through mutation are highly improbable: “…mutations are not a great breakthrough for evolution. They are almost always detrimental, and as such are more representative of a mechanism for degeneration than for advancement” (Ibid., p. 91).
In addition, Dr. Stephen Taylor verifies that all the examples of mutation used to support macroevolution are contradictory to the evidence: “For large-scale evolution, mutations must on average add information. In a recent book, bio-physicist Dr. Lee Spetner shows with detailed probabilistic analysis that this is completely precluded. He examines the classic textbook cases of mutations cited in favor of neo-Darwinism evolution and shows conclusively that, without exception, they are all losses of information. There is so such thing as a mutation that adds information” (Ibid., p. 307).
For macroevolution to occur it is fact that additional genetic information is required which according to the above sources cited, this simply does not happen. Without additional genetic information it would be impossible for a bird to evolve from a retile or a bear to evolve from a whale, as speculated in Darwin’s book Origin of the Species.
Complexity of Creation
The last point of evidence to examine is the complexity of creation. Few areas of study are more fascinating than the intricacies of this universe. Most people live their mundane lives without ever asking, “How did all this come to be?” Yahweh’s creation is truly an awesome work once we understand the complexity of this universe.
Physicist Paul Davis offers this remarkable observation, “It is hard to resist the impression that the present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in numbers, has been rather carefully thought out…The seemingly miraculous concurrence of these numerical values must remain the most compelling evidence for cosmic design” (The Case for a Creator, p. 125).
What Dr. Davis is stating is this – this universe is far too complex for chance and time to be the basis for its existence. For example, consider for a just the moment the distance of the earth from the sun. If the earth were any closer to the sun it would be too hot to support life and if the earth were any farther from the sun it would be too cold to support life. The earth is exactly the right distance away and has the right elements to support life. In this way, the earth is unique from its other planetary neighbors in the galaxy. Science knows of no other planet in this galaxy or in fact in this universe that shares these necessary phenomena.
Because of the complexity of this universe many believe that such theories as natural selection cannot account for its existence. For example, Dr. Roth offers this astonishing revelation, “The problem is that the very system of natural selection which Darwin proposed will tend to eliminate the interdependent parts of complex systems as these systems develop. The parts do not function until all the interdependent parts are present and the system works and provides some survival value to the organism” (In Six Days, p. 90).
What Dr. Roth is proposing is that the theory of natural selection, which puts forward the notion of mutation for the purpose of survival, does not explain or offer a probable explanation for the complexity and interdependencies of life; in fact, this theory is counter intuitive to the universe. Evolutionists advocate the idea that all life arose from mutation through the process of natural selection; however, the process of natural selection would advance an organism only if that advancement served some sort of survival value. Since mutation can serve no survival value until all the parts were complete and working, such theories as natural selection do not offer an adequate explanation for Darwinian evolution via mutation.
Evolution has a big problem. For instance, the first man would have no need of blood clotting mechanisms until he cut himself. But by then it would be too late and he would bleed to death. This survival mechanism has to be working by the time he first cuts himself. But evolution says it would not exist until something like a cut in the flesh makes it necessary to exist. So our first man bleeds to death and the human species ceases to survive, according to the logic of evolution! Many other similar and complex self-preservation mechanisms are built into human and animal bodies that must work right the very first time or else the animal or human dies. Evolution’s basic premise of millions of years of development cannot explain or answer this quandary.
One of the foremost men in the field of creation and author of Darwin’s Black Box and 20-year professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, Dr. Michael Behe offers this significant observation about the complexity of the human body: “Evolution can’t produce an irreducibly complex biological machine suddenly, all at once, because it’s much too complicated. The odds against that would be prohibitive. And you can’t produce it directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor system would be missing a part and consequently couldn’t function. There would be no reason for it to exist. And natural selection chooses systems that are already working” (The Case for a Creator, p. 198).
Those who have taken time to study the human body know its awesome design. The complexity of a single DNA strand is far too complicated to evolve unguided through mere chance. According to Dr. Jonathon Sarfati, a physical chemist, the amount of information that could be stored in a pinhead’s volume of DNA could fill a pile of “paperback books 500 times as tall as the distance from earth to the sun” (In Six Days, p. 80). In another analogy, Dr. John Marcus, who received his Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Michigan, states that the information in one human DNA cell could “fill almost 1,000 books, each containing 1,000 pages of text” (Ibid., p. 174).
No matter what aspect of this breathtakingly complex universe we consider, the fingerprint of Almighty Yahweh is stamped on everything we see. As it written in Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of Elohim and the firmament shows his handiwork.” There is no other explanation for the creation of this universe other than Yahweh’s direct hand (Ps. 150:6).
The evolutionary theory has been the catapult for today’s secular movement. In what began as a denial of intelligent design will end in a removal of Yahweh and His Word from the culture. It is absolutely essential that Yahweh’s people reject an irrational and impossible humanistic theory rooted in the denial of Yahweh and His authority.
Modern worship and its teachings over the centuries have gotten so far away from what is taught and practiced in the pages of the Bible that many fundamental doctrines have been entirely skewed, and most churchgoers do not even know it. We challenge you to take a look for yourself and compare what you think the Scriptures teach with what is clearly laid out in the Word and observed by the true worshiper. Prepare to be amazed, if not shocked.
I grew up in a large church denomination. I took for granted that its teachings were the same as the Bible’s until the day I was challenged to prove what I had been taught. I was stunned. I could not support from the Scriptures much of what I had believed all my life. I found one contradiction after another. Bewilderment led to frustration. The more I investigated the more incredulous I became.
Why didn’t I look into this before? The minister’s explanations for the many inconsistencies left me only more baffled. He could not give me any sound, Bible-supported answers to my many questions. Much of his validation came from calcified tradition and that was not acceptable, as even the Bible itself demands proof for teachings. I needed to know what the Scriptures said because they were my true guide, not ancient church doctrine. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourself approved unto Elohim, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The Truths I Was Never Told
Acceptance of the facts I discovered would transform my basic understanding of the Word, opening my blind eyes and bringing me to proper worship. This quest for Bible-based knowledge was nothing less than exhilarating! The more I dug into the Word the more the Scriptures began to make sense. I was blown over by the harmony in the Word. Yahweh’s ordained worship is a continuum from Genesis through Revelation. By stripping away unsupported and erroneous doctrines and observances, I found that the more error I tossed out the more insight I was given. I would realize to my total shock that countless popular beliefs and teachings have no backing in the Scriptures!
Here is some of what I discovered:
I had searched for answers as to why I was worshiping on the first day of the week when the Fourth Commandment clearly teaches that the seventh day is the Sabbath. I was told the day of worship was changed in the New Testament with the Savior’s resurrection on the first day of the week. My minister explained that although the seventh day is really the scriptural Sabbath, I must observe Sunday as the “Lord’s day.” Yet, I found no New Testament support for such a change and nothing about a change in the Sabbath because of a resurrection day.
Instead, I read that our Savior observed the seventh day Himself and so did His followers. His apostles, including Paul and Peter, James and John, continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath and met for worship on the seventh day of the week long after the Messiah was resurrected. If His resurrection permanently changed the day of worship, then why didn’t the apostles ever switch THEIR Sabbath worship over to Sunday? I wondered. To my surprise, I learned that the Savior’s resurrection was not on Sunday morning anyway, but had taken place just before sunset on Saturday—exactly three days and nights from the time He was laid in the tomb, just as He promised in Matthew 12:40 as the one signature proof of His Messiahship.
Why did my church celebrate worldly holidays that were nowhere in the Bible, while ignoring the commanded annual Feast days repeatedly taught in Old and New testaments and celebrated all through the pages of Scripture? Who authorized these changes, I wondered. I could not get a satisfactory answer. The minister said, “Just accept it on faith,” and yet 1Thessalonians 5:21 told me to “prove all things” and hold fast to what is right. I could not accept what I could not support from the Bible.
I also wanted to know why I had been taught that the Old Testament had no relevance today, even though it was the very Bible used by the Messiah, His disciples, and all the early New Testament believers. In fact, it was the only Bible they had because the New Testament had not yet been written or codified. That would not happen for decades. If the New Testament had changed the worship of the Old Testament, then my Savior and His immediate disciples all worshiped in error because they still honored Old Testament teachings. If the Old Testament was my Savior’s teaching text, why shouldn’t it be my Scriptures as well? Was I not to do exactly what the Messiah did and follow His teachings? Is He not my judge? (2Timothy 4:1)
For some mystifying reason I was never told that my Heavenly Father has a personal name, Yahweh, and that He expected me to call Him by that Name and not by common, generic titles. Once the blinders came off my eyes I found hundreds of references to His Name in both Testaments, along with many clear admonishments that I was to honor and use His Name. I found the short form of the Father’s Name Yahweh (“Yah”) in many notable Bible names like IsaYah, JeremiYah, Yahel (Joel) and even in the word common term HalleluYah (which in Hebrew means “Praise Yah”). I had found the short form of His Name (Yah) in Psalm 68:4 of the King James Version. And even more astounding, His Name exists almost 7,000 times in the Hebrew text from which the the Old Testament is translated! Yet, no one in the church ever said a thing about it. In light of these facts I was stunned by the universal silence when it came to His revealed, personal Name.
Also puzzling was the fact that the Savior was born of Hebrew parents, yet He is called by a Latinized-Greek name today. What was the Son’s original and true name, I wondered? I needed to find out and then begin calling Him by His legitimate Name, the only Name given for salvation, Acts 4:12. Once I learned the correct Name of the Savior, Yahshua, I had a new appreciation for His statement that He came in His Father’s Name (John 5:43), that the Father’s Name was in His own (Exodus 23:21), and that His Name reflected salvation. None of which had made any sense with the incorrect Greek name He is typically known by.
I spent years looking for answers to these and other basic questions. Surely somewhere people were faithful to the Word in all things and I needed to find them. The Messiah Yahshua had said that the gates of the grave would not prevail against the true Body of believers, meaning there would always be a remnant group carrying on the original faith and worship taught in the Bible, Matthew 16:18. It would not be a large, prominent denomination because the Messiah had said to His faithful, “Fear not LITTLE flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom,” Luke 12:32. He also taught that the way of truth was narrow and few would find it, Matthew 7:14. The universal blindness I saw in the world of faith now made sense. I realized that I had to walk in all the light I was being given. My newfound understanding was refreshing and exciting. Being blessed with this incredible knowledge, I soon realized that I was responsible to follow what I was learning. I was grateful that after much diligent study and effort I found the answers I had long searched for.
Life’s Instruction Manual Goes Unread
Millions like me have been led astray by man-made teachings lacking Scriptural support. Only a way of worship well-defined in the Scriptures is acceptable. The Bible is Yahweh’s manual for His creation. The 16th verse of 2Timothy 3 says that all Scripture is given by “inspiration,” meaning it is “Yahweh breathed.” The Scriptures we hold in our hands originated as the very breath of Yahweh’s mouth, revealing His own mind and nature as they were transmitted through the power of the Holy Spirit to the writer. If any belief, custom or tradition is not in the Bible then it is not authorized by Yahweh and therefore is not “Yahweh breathed.” It originates somewhere else.
No wonder that the Bereans in Acts 17:11 were praised as noble worshipers when they “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” These enlightened truth-seekers knew that that they had to confirm by Scripture whatever was taught them, or else their worship would be meaningless.
As Yahweh’s Word, the Scriptures are the authority for all doctrine. Man has not been given special permission to invent his own teachings or to follow beliefs outside the Bible. No church was granted the authority to deviate from the Word or add its own traditions. Yet, that is just what has been going on for 2,000 years through a vast assortment of dogmas that are nowhere supported in the Word. Almighty Yahweh punished ancient Israel repeatedly for turning away from Him and taking up the beliefs and customs of the pagans around them. He thundered, “Learn not the way of the heathen” in Jeremiah 10:2. To my shock I discovered that many church teachings began as compromises with heathen beliefs and practices. It is this unholy blending that is at the root of many major church doctrines today.
Immortality of Man?
A universal belief among the religious and the pagan alike is that man has an immortal soul. The concept of immortality didn’t come from Scripture, however, but from Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates. It ultimately spawned from ancient gnostic and Babylonian beliefs. The Bible clearly says, “The soul that sins, it shall die”— not live forever lounging on wispy clouds in heavenly bliss, Ezekiel 18:4. Paul told Timothy that only the Father Yahweh has immortality (1Tim. 6:16). Immortality will be granted only to those found worthy at the resurrection (1Cor. 15:22-23). The propensity to live forever is not a built-in part of man’s soul. Nowhere in the Bible are the words “immortal” and “soul” found together in the text.
So where do the faithful spend eternity? Regardless of what is heard at funerals, the Bible nowhere promises a heavenly paradise to unbelievers or even to the righteous. The Messiah Yahshua plainly said no man has ascended to heaven, John 3:13, and He inspired John to write that the faithful at the resurrection will reign on earth, not in heaven, Revelation 5:10. The Apostle Peter said that not even King David has gone to heaven, Acts 2:34. The Apostle Paul taught that the saints and patriarchs of old are still dead, awaiting the resurrection and their reward, Hebrews 11:13, which will be a position of priest on earth.
Sacred Name Replaced with Generic Titles
Yahweh never gave anyone, not even the church, the authority to replace His Name with generic titles like God and Lord. First and foremost we must know Whom it is we worship. We are told to honor and call on His revealed Name Yahweh in such passages as Psalm 66:2, 4; Romans 9:17, and Hebrews 2:12. His Name Yahweh is found Almost 7,000 times in the Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts, but not once in 30 years did I ever hear His personal Name spoken in any church service, Bible study, or conversation with the minister. How incredible that the most important and holy Name in all the universe has been universally covered up and ignored—replaced by common labels.
Words communicate thoughts, names identify. And in Hebrew, names both distinguish as well as convey meaning. Deliberately concealing His Name and using substitutes is identity theft. It is a crime against the Heavenly Father that He said will not go unpunished. I learned that translators covertly suppressed His Name by exchanging it for titles in our English Bibles. But now some modern English versions have properly restored the sacred Name in the text, including our Restoration Study Bible.
How translators could hide Yahweh’s Name for thousands of year even when it is found 6,823 times in the ancient manuscripts was beyond explanation. That the most important Name in the universe had been hidden away from His own worshipers is reprehensible to Yahweh Almighty Himself. He thunders in Malachi 2:2, “If you will not hear, and if you will not lay [it] to heart, to give glory unto my name, says Yahweh of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because you do not lay [it] to heart.”
From Sabbath to Sunday
Neither Yahweh nor His Son Yahshua ever authorized changing worship to the first day of the week. That change was finalized by the church Council of Nicaea two and a half centuries after the Apostles, without any Scriptural authority.
The Messiah Yahshua kept and taught the seventh-day Sabbath along with His disciples even after He was resurrected, Luke 13:10. He cautioned in His end-time prophecy about the days ahead of us to pray that you won’t need to flee on the Sabbath, Matthew 24:20. He considered the Sabbath consecrated and still in effect even in the last days of man’s rule. The Apostle Paul observed the proper Sabbath along with Jews and Gentiles long after the resurrection, Acts 13:42-44. Paul wrote in the New Testament that Sabbath rest is still in full force and effect for Yahweh’s people, Hebrews 4:9.
And most revealing of all is that the seventh-day Sabbath will continue to be observed on into the coming Kingdom, according to Isaiah 66:23.
If a Sabbath change were authorized in the Scriptures, it would have become effective immediately, as did other Levitical laws like animal sacrifices. But the switch from seventh-day worship to Sunday was gradual, proving the Sabbath was still legitimate.
The early faith resisted the move to change it, even as church fathers of the Roman church pushed for the switch. This fact alone should speak volumes about the lack of validity of Sunday worship. Justin Martyr, writing in the 2nd century in his Dialogue with Trypho (12:3), rejected the need to keep a literal seventh-day Sabbath, arguing instead that “the new law requires you to keep the Sabbath constantly.”
This is the same argument many use today, saying they keep every day a sabbath, which clearly violates the Fourth Commandment to “work six days and rest the seventh.” Besides, there was never such a “new law” given in the New Testament but only one made by man. Lutheran historian Augustus Neander states with candor, “The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance” (History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 1, page 186).
Augustine of Hippo followed the early patristic writers in spiritualizing away the Sabbath commandment, reducing it to an eschatological rest rather than observance of a literal day (Sabbath and Sunday in the Medieval Church in the West, Bauckham, R.J., 1982). Even in the fifth century the eastern Roman Empire was still carrying on Sabbath worship. Sozomen (Ecclesiastical History, book VII), referencing Socrates Scholasticus, wrote, “Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.” The switchover to Sunday was not complete even by the early Middle Ages. The folks knew that the seventh-day Sabbath was a commandment, Leviticus 23:3.
Biblical Holidays Strangely Ignored
Today’s major worldly holidays observed by the church, like Christmas and Easter, are nonexistent in the Scriptures. Such man-made celebrations lack any command, requirement, or sanction in the Bible.
I soon saw that, other than the weekly Sabbath, the only observances commanded are seven annual appointed times (called moedim in the Hebrew) first given to Israel and also kept by the Savior, His disciples, the apostles, and others in the New Testament. His commanded Feasts will even be honored in the Kingdom as the centerpiece of Yahweh’s yearly calendar that will be administrated universe-wide in His holy realm. His appointed days are therefore still in effect and obligatory today.
Learning of the great design and purpose of these days, I asked myself, why am I not keeping them right now? If they were so important that the Savior Himself kept them and taught them to others, why are they neglected by nearly every modern church and denomination? The minister would sometimes talk about Pentecost, one of the Old Testament Feast days prominent in Acts 2, but we never did anything special to observe it, like properly treating it as a Sabbath as it should have been (Leviticus 23:21).
All the Bible’s commanded observances have been dropped or replaced. They are not hard to find, being listed in detail in Leviticus 23 and other places and observed by true believers in the New Testament, including the Savior. Yahweh even says, “These are my Feasts,” not just feasts for Israel or Judaism. Regardless of His clear commands, we never once honored them. They were never even mentioned.
Clearly, the statutes and laws of the Old Testament are still in effect, and will be the standard by which Yahweh will judge the lives of mankind, Revelation 20:12. He said that His laws are forever, and they were not nailed to a cross, Psalm 119:160. What were abolished were man-made laws and decrees, Colossians 2:14. Yahweh never likes it when man usurps His authority by creating his own worship.
King Solomon summed up his advice about living by what Yahweh commands in His Word in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear Yahweh and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” The Messiah Yahshua in John 14:15 admonished, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” But we in the church never paid any attention to what He taught about obedience.
Another eye-opener was that so many church customs and practices came right out of ancient mystery religion. Their practices were absorbed to ease the transition for converts from foreign lands and non-Biblical religions to come into the church, regardless of Yahweh’s clear command to stay far away from rituals and practices of heathens, Jeremiah 10. The following are some of the more obvious heathen gifts bequeathed to and taken up in churchianity.
Historians do not shy from the fact that Christmas was an invention of the Roman church, designed to compete with the heathen Roman feast of Saturnalia, the biggest bash of the Roman year, which honored the deity Saturn at the winter solstice December 17-23. Before the 4th century, December 25th was best known as the birthday of the Persian hero and sun-god, Mithra. Mithraism arose in the Mediterranean world at the same time as Christianity, either imported from Iran or as a new religion that borrowed the name Mithra from the Persians.
The return of the Invincible Sun at the winter solstice has been celebrated by many cultures. Mithra bore remarkable similarity to the Biblical Messiah. The Mithraic feast was celebrated to commemorate his birth, just as Christmas was to Yahshua. Shepherds watched his miraculous birth and hurried to greet him with the first fruits of their flocks and their harvests. In time the cult of Mithra spread all over the Roman empire.
In 274 CE the Roman emperor Valerian declared December 25th the birthday of Sol Invictus, the Unconquerable Sun. Great feasts were held and presents were exchanged – especially earthen figurines called sigillaria and candles, which became a symbol of the holiday and represented the return of the sun. People decorated their houses and themselves with greenery and garlands. Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra. December 25 was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun,
Even before this, the roots of Christmas had reached down thousands of years to Nimrod, founder of ancient, pagan Babylon. Forefather of Mithras, Nimrod began a counterfeit religion in the Book of Genesis that was to compete with the true Faith of the Bible. The Bible refers to it as the religion of Mystery Babylon — the mother of false religion that will be destroyed when the Savior Yahshua comes to set up His throne on earth, Revelation 18.
Babylon’s false worship is found universally today in nearly all religions, including Bible-professing ones. After Nimrod’s death Semiramis, Nimrod’s mother-wife, declared that Nimrod was a god. She claimed that she saw a full-grown evergreen tree spring out of the roots of a dead tree stump, symbolizing the springing forth of Nimrod brought back to life. On the anniversary of his rebirth (at the winter solstice, December 25), she proclaimed that Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts under it. (For an in-depth look at this subject read our booklet: December 25, Birthday of the Sun, which is also on our site at YRM.org .)
Easter – A Deity Gets Morphed
Historically, Easter is the celebration of the ancient queen of heaven, Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. Her beau was the Babylonian Tammuz (Greek Adonis). She is the same goddess worshiped throughout the Near East and Mediterranean worlds almost from the beginning of recorded history. She was variously known as Inanna, Innin, Astarte, Ashtar, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus. “Her presence was thought to guarantee fertility, and in her absence the land, humans, and animals could not reproduce,” Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.
Only in one place is the word Easter found in the Bible −Acts 12:4 in the King James Version. It is a mistranslation of the Greek word Pasch or Passover. Throughout the years man has deviated from the original Passover observance and added rites and rituals from ancient mystery worship, which are quite evident in the modern Easter celebration.
Its nonexistence in any Biblical manuscripts shows that Easter was never a part of New Testament worship. This fact has not escaped even secular sources. The New Werner Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannicasays, “There is no trace of the cele-bration of Easter as a Christian festival in the New Testament or in the writings of the apostolic fathers,” vol. VII, p. 531.
Easter is a total repackaging and completely unauthorized replacement of the Passover. The Britannica adds this eye-opening statement: “The name Easter (German Ostern) like the names of the days of the week, is a survival from the old Teutonic mythology. According to Bede, it is derived from Eostre or Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our April, and called Eostur-monath, was dedicated” (11th edition). (For an in-depth look at this subject see our booklet Easter—the Fertility of It All, or read it online at YRM.org.)
Three in One — It Doesn’t Add Up
Belief in a triune deity is timeworn, tracing back to ancient mystery worship. “Will anyone after this say that the Roman Catholic Church must still be called Christian, because it holds the doctrine of the Trinity? So did the pagan Babylonians, so did the Egyptians, so do the Hindoos at this hour, in the very sense in which Rome does” (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop).
A belief few ever stop to question is, why is the Trinity doctrine tightly held by most of Christendom, even used as a test doctrine, when it is entirely missing from the Bible’s pages? Jay P. Green’s Classic Bible Dictionary says about the word Trinity, “This is not itself a Biblical term, but was a term coined by Tertullian to refer to this whole concept under one word.” The historian Will Durant adds this revealing explanation, “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it… From Egypt came the ideas of a divine Trinity” (The Story of Civilization, vol. III).
If the Trinity were a pure Biblical teaching and key test doctrine, why did it take so long to develop into the form we find it today? Why the centuries-long debate, squabbling, contention and infighting over the notion of a three-in-one majesty? Shouldn’t a straightforward Bible teaching be clear and concise and easy to understand as are other teachings of Yahweh are? The whole concept of a Trinity emerged only after many centuries of heated disagreement and disputing: “The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies…By the end of the 4th century…the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Trinity”).
Yahshua the Messiah maintained that he was not co-equal with the Father, but was in subjection to His Father. In saying that, He affirmed that He was not Yahweh’s peer. In fact, He was His Son! “You have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). One cannot be equal with another if the other is greater. Yahshua said that no man can come to Him unless the Father first draws him, John 6:44, revealing a supreme hierarchy that is not co-equal in authority.
The Apostle Paul clearly disputes equality among the Yahweh family in 1Timothy 6:16. Describing the Father he wrote, “Who only has immortality…” Only Yahweh the Father is innately immortal. His post-resurrection statement took into account the risen Messiah as well as the mortal, earthly Savior.
The nameless Holy Spirit is not another person but the very power of Yahweh by which He accomplishes His acts. In the Hebrew spirit is ruach, and in Greek, pneuma. Both words mean power like wind or breath. It was the inbreathing of this power that gave life to Adam and all life on the earth, Genesis 2:7. No mention is ever made to praying to or honoring the Holy Spirit. (For an in-depth look at this subject see our booklet, The Trinity – Fact or Fiction? or read it on our Website.)
The Missing Rapture Teaching
We are nowhere told in the inspired Word to expect to be snatched away to heaven to watch our unbelieving loved ones suffer unspeakably and die excruciating deaths during the worst-ever disasters and conflagration prophesied to engulf this planet. Like the word trinity, the word rapture never appears in the Scriptures.
Scripture confirms that Yahshua’s coming will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:29-31), at which time He will raise His chosen who have been obedient to His laws to meet Him in the clouds (1Thess. 4:17) and all will then go to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). His resurrected chosen will reign on earth, not in heaven (Rev. 5:10, 20:6).
Today’s pre-tribulation rapture teaching was first popularized by John Nelson Darby in 1827 and was later put into the Scofield Reference Bible (1909). Until that time the notion of a rapture preceding the Second Coming of the Messiah was not church teaching.
The rapture doctrine is an attempt to avoid the inevitable trials prophesided to befall this planet. Man always wants to make the way broad and effortless. It is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 30:10: “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”
The rapture teaching is completely foreign to Scripture and runs counter to many passages that show believers going through the coming tribulation. A key lesson in Scripture is that the Believer must overcome pain, trials, and tribulation to enter the Kingdom, not seek an escape from them. (For an in-depth look at this subject see our booklet, Are You Counting on a Coming Rapture? or read it online.)
The Borrowed Cross — An Ancient Symbol of Life
The Messiah’s death was not on a cross, as popularly believed, but on an upright pole with wrists nailed overhead. This is clear from the words translated “cross.” They are the Greek stauros andxulon, and specify a simple stake or pole without a crosspiece. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “Stauros denotes, primarily, an upright pole or stake.” John 3:14 tells us He was lifted up at His impalement in the same way Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole in Numbers 21:9.
The origins of the cross can be traced back to Egypt and even earlier to Babylon. In Egypt it was known as the “ankh” (key of the Nile). It was an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol of life and sexual fertility and literally signifies “eternal life.” The sign of the cross was used as a sacred symbol in various forms by nonChristians. In Babylon the cross was used as a symbol of the heathen god Tammuz. Also, the symbol of the cross was used among Aryan civilization as a representation of mystical light of the pagan gods or sacred fire and even the sun, which gave life.
In the Encyclopaedia Britannica we read, “In the Egyptian churches the cross was a pagan symbol of life borrowed by the Christians and interpreted in the pagan manner” (11th edition, vol. 14, p. 273).
Again Alexander Hislop writes in The Two Babylons, “This Pagan symbol … the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah … the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) and Egyptians – the true original form of the letter T the initial of the name of Tammuz … the Babylonian cross was the recognized emblem of Tammuz,” pp. 197-205.
History records that Constantine claims to have seen a vision of a bright cross of light emblazoned against the noonday sky and upon it the inscription: “In hoc signo vinces”—”In this sign conquer.” He allegedly saw it as a sign of victory in the battle against his rival Maxentius.
The Companion Bible notes, “Crosses were used as symbols of the Babylonian Sun-god … It should be stated that Constantine was a Sun-god worshipper … The evidence is thus complete, that [Yahshua] was put to death upon an upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle,” appendix 162.
Ubiquitous Steeples Trace to Egypt and Babylon
Church steeples originated thouands of years ago in Egyptian idolatry. Roman Emperor Constantine in his “Edict of Milan” in 313 C.E. made the Empire officially neutral with regard to religion. Paganism and Christianity could be practiced freely. The stage was set for the aggressive melding of beliefs. Pagan architecture, like the popular obelisk, was borrowed from Egypt. When Emperor Augustus conquered Egypt in 30 BCE he brought obelisks dedicated to the Pharaohs Rameses II and Psammetichus II from Heliopolis to Rome.
In heathen religion the obelisk was an ancient phallic symbol honoring and celebrating the regeneration of the sun god Ra (Egypt’s greatest deity). The peak or point of the obelisk was the first spot the sun’s rays hit when rising in the sky, which the pagans believed symbolized re-birth. Always eager to incorporate erotic motifs into their fertility worship, the phallic obelisk completes the metaphor for the pagans in their worship of sex and the propagation of life.
The ancient Romans became so strongly attached to the obelisk that there are now more than twice as many obelisks standing in Rome as remain in Egypt. One such granite obelisk is the second highest in Rome, having been brought from Egypt by Emperor Caligula in 37 CE. It originally stood in his circus on a spot to the south of the basilica. Pope Sixtus V moved it in 1586 to the center of St. Peter’s Square. It takes little imagination to see the clear connection between the obelisk and the common church steeple, a fact many historians have pointed out. It is a testimony to early Christianity’s susceptibility to pagan influence that we now see exemplified in church architecture in every continent on earth
The Roman Catholic Church, mother of the modern church, adopted an Egyptian obelisk and placed a cross on its peak, thus creating the first church steeple. It’s a fact that should send chills down the spines of churchgoers everywhere.
An original form of the obelisk was the Hebrew asherah in the Old Testament. The King James Bible translates the Hebrew term asherah as “groves.” Strongs Concordance defines it as No. 842, from Hebrew 833 (‘ashar), and includes what is upright, erect. The asherah was made of trees, often with all branches cut off and the top rounded. It is found in the scriptures 40 times, always referring to idol worship. The totem pole is a takeoff of the asherah.
The Companion Bible in Appendix 42 defines asherah in the following way: “It was an upright pillar connected with Baal-worship, and is associated with the goddess Ashtoreth, being the representation of the productive principle of life, and Baal being the representative of the generative principle. The image, which represents the Phoenician Ashtoreth of Paphos, as the sole object of worship in her temple, was an upright block of stone, anointed with oil, and covered with an embroidered cloth.”
Historian Ruth Andersson notes that when Christianity was gaining strength in its early years, priests and practitioners often adopted local traditions and religious symbols and beliefs as a way to convert non-Christians. “Phallic (male) imagery, as well as imagery of women represented by [female genitalia], is commonplace, both in pagan sites and in churches. Lots of people never notice!” But Yahweh notices and He won’t tolerate the injecting of heathen rites and symbols into His worship, which happened even in Israel.
Anciently Yahweh cleaned house of these abominations. In 2Kings 10:25-26 the Amplified Version says: “As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guards and to the officers, Go in and slay them; let none escape. And they smote them with the sword; and the guards or runners [before the king] and the officers threw their bodies out and went into the inner dwelling of the house of Baal. They brought out the pillars or obelisks of the house of Baal and burned them.”
In Deuteronomy 16:22 we find this warning: “Neither shall you set thee up a pillar; which Yahweh your Elohim hates.” Yahweh is adamant that His people be separate and not partake in the pagan practices of the heathens, including erecting towers and pillars pointing to the sun, vestiges of ancient fertility rites.
Can We Make Our Own Truth?
But does it actually matter if we choose our own path when it comes to worship? Don’t all routes ultimately lead to salvation anyway, as some reason? Maybe if I am an honest and decent person I don’t need to actually follow the Bible, some think. Yahshua will come anyway and just sweep me into His Kingdom.
If we can obtain salvation without the involvement of our Creator, then it doesn’t matter what He says. But of course we can’t. Yahweh Almighty alone decides whether we will be given the opportunity for life again once this life of ours is over, and He expects honor and obedience. Hebrews 5:9 says, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” In Revelation 14:12 we read of the chosen ones, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Yahweh, and the faith of Yahshua.”
According to Proverbs 14:12, our own ideas could easily lead to a dead-end: “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Only one way is right and only one way will be rewarded — that is the way of true obedience to the Father in heaven in all things—a worship unmixed with error. Paul wrote, “There is one Master, one faith, one baptism,” 4:5. There are not many roads to truth. The true faith is not a smorgasbord of choosing what one likes and ignoring everything else. The truth comes as a package deal. You keep all of it or none of it. Lukewarm, half involvement won’t cut it.
Yahweh has set out a clear and well-defined way to salvation that rests on honoring Him and obeying His Word. If a teaching or a practice is not established by the Word, it is by definition bogus. Idolatry is anything devised by man that comes between us and the True Worship of Yahweh. Such worship overshadows and eventually replaces the Truth. It tells Yahweh that we, the mere created ones, have chosen to worship in a manner that WE think is best and acceptable.
The Apostle Paul compares this to a clump of clay telling the potter what to create of it. Yahweh calls it rebellion: “You will say then unto me, Why does he yet find fault? For who has resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who are you that replies against Elohim? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” (Rom. 9:19-21).
In order to follow the ways of truth one must be determined to eliminate what is not Scriptural and adhere only to what is found in the pages of the Book of Books. No doctrine coming from outside of the Scriptures is valid. The prophet Isaiah expressed this fact clearly, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them,” Isaiah 8:20. “The law” in this passage means the Old Testament, while “the testimony” is the New Testament.
Another prophet, Jeremiah, foretold that in the final days the error found in popular worship will be evident when “the Gentiles shall come unto you from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit” (16:19).
To add teachings and practices that are not in the written Word of Yahweh is explicitly forbidden: “For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, Yahweh shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book,” Revelation 22:18. Proverbs 30:5-6 warns against adding anything at all, “Every word of Yahweh is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add not unto his words, lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar.”
The sincere seeker of truth will accept nothing that he or she is told without proving it first, 1Thessalonians 5:21. Paul admonished in Ephesians 4:14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Being well-grounded in the Scriptures will help ensure that this does not happen to us.
Your Life’s Purpose
Our objective at Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry is to restore the salvation truths that were lost or neglected over millennia and to promote a solid and right understanding and practice of the Word. We are in training now to learn all we can about Yahweh and His will, and to put that knowledge into practice in our daily lives.
We use the Scriptures as our guide to life, just as the patriarchs and apostles did. They followed the precepts and laws of the Word every day. That is why Yahweh chose them over others. Abraham is known as the father of the faithful because “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws,” Genesis 26:5. The other patriarchs were also faithful to Yahweh not only in their religious lives, but also in their daily walk. He demands no less of His people today.
The ultimate purpose of our existence is not to lounge around for eternity in the mists of heaven admiring one another’s halos and showing off our wings. Yahweh is a dynamic, active Father who has incredible plans for His faithful. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 2:9-10, “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which Elohim has prepared for them that love him. But Yahweh has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of Elohim.”
His plan is to establish an everlasting Kingdom here on earth where Yahshua will first set up His own seat of government when He returns. He is seeking devout, sincere, and righteous believers whom He finds worthy to serve as priests to administer His ways in this coming Kingdom, Luke 20:35; 21:36; 2Thessalonians 1:5, 11.
He is calling out those now who prove faithful and learn of Him as they prepare for rulership. “That ye might walk worthy of the Master unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of Elohim,” Colossians 1:10. “And has made us unto our Elohim kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth,” Revelation 5:10. The goal of the True Worshiper is to be found worthy to reign in the Kingdom of Yahshua as a priest. He promised, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne,” Revelation 3:21.
Preparing for such a huge responsibility takes much effort, learning, training, overcoming, and the proper spiritual conditioning. Yahweh has a special position for each of His faithful. It is critical that we learn all we can about Him and His teachings so that we will be found acceptable to administer them in His Kingdom soon coming to this earth. Following His teachings now shows Him your desire to serve Him for eternity.
Make your calling and election sure by following in the footstep training of His Son, our Savior and future King. Learn of His ways. Follow His teachings. Do what He did. Only then will you find acceptance in the eyes of your future Judge.
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Tithing is an important part of a True Believer’s life. Are you following Yahweh’s will by putting Him first
We see a paradox today among those professing the Bible — their most deeply held beliefs are rarely evident in their lives. The nominal worshiper has learned to separate his religious life from his everyday life. Two fundamental reasons explain this:
society has made many individuals fearful of expressing their faith openly, and
most churches no longer teach conviction and how professed faith must be put into daily practice.
In marked contrast, Yahweh is uncompromising about how He expects His true people to worship as well as conduct themselves at all times no matter the circumstance or situation. The Bible is a record of how courageous believers overcame all kinds of difficult situations without yielding their principles.
To know the mind and will of Almighty Yahweh we need only to look at what He commanded His chosen people. Malachi 3:6 and other passages tell us that Yahweh doesn’t change — His expectations are the same for us as for the patriarchs of old.
Worship Is Through ‘Giving,’ Not ‘Getting’
Self-sacrifice is key to what Yahweh expected of all His people both anciently and now. Yet, today’s message is just the opposite: put yourself first.
Aside from their regular offerings for sin, Israel’s worship included returning to Yahweh a tenth part of all their increase. This meant that a tenth of the best of the flock or field was to be given up as proof of one’s faith in Almighty Yahweh as Provider of everything. The principle of giving back through various sacrifices was at the core of the many offerings that Yahweh expected of Israel each day, and it remains a key part of New Testament worship.
Today the tithe is intended to teach Yahweh’s people to revere Him first by returning to Him a small percentage of what most individuals hold dearest —their earnings. Deuteronomy 14:22-23 says, “You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. And you shall eat in the presence of Yahweh your Elohim, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, in order that you may learn to fear Yahweh your Elohim always.” Fear is the Hebrew ary and means to stand in awe of and revere.
For the majority their pocketbook reflects their heart because it is what they revere most. Financial priorities tend to speak louder than anything else in our self-indulgent culture. Therefore, the question of whether to tithe becomes a key indicator of how much one is devoted to Yahweh. It answers the all-important and fundamental question: does He or do my own wants come first in my life?
The First Commandments is clear — if we don’t put Yahweh above all else then our worship is in vain. He thunders in Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other Elohim before me.” Yahshua clearly understood this. He said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be also.” Of the 29 parables Yahshua told, over half dealt with a person and his finances. Through these teachings Yahshua pinpointed what people value the highest.
The parable of the rich man comes to mind. This individual described by Yahshua esteemed his riches more than he esteemed His Savior because He was unwilling to give up his wealth to follow Yahshua. By putting riches before Yahweh he proved that his gold is what he really worshiped. His gold was more important to him than his own salvation.
How we give also demonstrates whether we love the brethren, which is another key element of True Worship. The tithe was used to support the priesthood, whose main job was to minister on behalf of the people. When we support the ministry today, which is the vehicle whereby Truth is spread and lives are changed, we are telling the truth seeker and the general body of Believers that we care about them and their salvation.
This booklet will examine the meaning behind the tithe and the purpose for it, as well as what the tithe teaches us about True Worship. We will address common misunderstandings about the tithe, and we will see the great wisdom of Yahweh and His desire for us as manifest in His command to return 10 percent of our increase to Him.
The Tithe Firstfruit Is Holy to Yahweh
We first learn of the tithe in Genesis 14:20 when Abraham gives to the priest Melchizedek “tithes of all” his spoils of war. “Tithe” here comes from the Hebrew maasrah and means “a tenth part.” Later, the patriarch Jacob vows to return a tenth of all he owns to Yahweh, Genesis 28:22.
Why did these righteous men of Yahweh willingly turn over a tenth of their gain or possessions to Him? Because they knew that it was essential to do so. The tithes of Abraham and Jacob demonstrate that these righteous men had a right worship concept firmly grounded in Scripture.
Yahweh’s people know that the tithe is not theirs to keep or use. Yahweh said the tithe belongs to Him and is holy, Leviticus 27: 30. He warns that to keep it is to rob from Him. “Will a man rob Elohim? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings,” Malachi 3:8.
If we earn $100 then $10 is to be returned to Yahweh. If we keep that $10 we steal from Yahweh. Malachi’s warning is as clear as crystal. Furthermore, Paul cautioned that no thief will inherit the Kingdom, 1Corinthians 6:9-10.
Giving over to Yahweh the firstfruit sacrifice was and still is fundamental to True Worship. The tithe is a firstfruits offering, the first 10 percent of our increase given before any of our own needs are met.
Turning over the firstfruits to Yahweh is fundamental in both Old and New testament Scripture. This ancient principle extends all the way to Yahshua the Messiah Himself, who is a spiritual firstfruit offered by the Father on our behalf because of our sins. “But now Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” 1Corinthians 15:20. Yahweh so loved us that He gave to us the first of His creation — His very beloved and only Son, John 3:16.
What if He had decided to keep His Firstfruits —His Son — for Himself? In that case we would be lost in the death penalty earned by our sins! Can we give back any less than our own firstfruits to Him in joyful and humble appreciation? Every true child of Yahweh should have a compelling desire to tithe. That desire should be basic to worship.
Proverbs 3:9 directs us to “honor Yahweh with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” Firstfruits were offered to Yahweh in acknowledgment that everything ultimately belongs to Him and that all we possess is merely on loan to us. Those who revere Him will be blessed.
Some spend their tithes on the poor. Yahweh commands, however, that His tenth be given to Him and used for the furtherance of His Truth, ministry, and teachings. It is the job of the ministry to determine where the greatest need is, just as it was with the priests at the temple. Malachi 3:10 commands, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says Yahweh Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” This also applies spiritually to the ultimate blessing of everlasting life!
Israel willingly gave of the firstfruits of their crops, their livestock, their orchards and everything else they produced. These firstfruits were the best they had, given from “off the top,” not picked from the leftovers once their personal needs were met. Firstfruits are entirely Yahweh’s and are sacred to Him.
A Compelling Test of Our Devotion
Yahweh commanded in Leviticus 27:30-34: “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is Yahweh’s: it is holy to Yahweh… And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto Yahweh. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”
No matter what is earned, increased, and gained from, the True Worshiper automatically returns a tenth to Yahweh. We are not to take our share first and give back the leftovers. We first return to Him His due — His 10 percent — and we then take care of ourselves. By this act we show Him that He comes before everything else in our lives.
We must understand that paying tithes is not “giving” or offering to Yahweh anything. It is only rendering to Yahweh what already is His. Giving back only part of what belongs to Him is not tithing.
If someone stole ten dollars from you and then gave you a dollar in return, you would consider the dollar a gift but at the same time you would consider the giver a thief. Similarly, if your tithe is ten dollars but you return only a dollar, then you are robbing Yahweh of His tenth. You may be returning some, but you are stealing the rest. A wife who is 85 percent faithful to her husband is not faithful at all. There is no such thing as partial tithing.
Tithing is not a charity exercise. Our Father in heaven doesn’t need a cent from us. He already owns the entire planet. Yahweh created it all; everything we call ours is His to begin with. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is Yahweh’s, and everything in it.”
Tithing is a compelling test of our true desire to serve Him by showing whether He indeed comes first in our lives. Putting Him last monetarily — after we have first taken care of ourselves — reveals a spiritual defect. It tells Him that I am more important than He is! If Idolatry means putting anything else before Him in worship, then non-tithing is idolatrous.
The Feast days teach a fundamental principle here through the harvest firstfruits that Israel was to present to Almighty Yahweh on His special days. One Feast in particular, Pentecost or Feast of Firstfruits, is specifically about this firstfruits offering to Yahweh, where the first gatherings of the wheat harvest were presented to Yahweh and only then could the general harvest begin. In other words, once our obligations to Yahweh are met then we focus on our own needs.
Yahweh judges what we give by what we keep. What we cherish reflects our heart’s true desire. The question of whether I should tithe or not boils down to a simple issue: do I recognize, honor, and serve Him above all else? Even above myself? If not, then I need to re-examine my attitude and get right with Him.
Is the Tithe Only for Farmers?
Let us re-read Leviticus 27:30, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is Yahweh’s, it is holy unto Yahweh.” Some believe this means tithing applies only to farmers. This is not only irrational but also clearly inequitable.
Are we to believe that only farmers are to fear and revere Yahweh? That just farmers alone are to put Him first in their lives? That only farmers are to receive instruction and practice on what is holy to Yahweh? That only farmers return what belongs to Yahweh while the rest of us are free to keep what isn’t ours?
In truth, a tenth is required from all the riches and wealth that the earth produces to our benefit, no matter what it is and who earns it. As an agrarian people Israel derived their income from the land so naturally Yahweh would instruct that whatever the land produced they were to tithe of.
Not everyone in Israel farmed, but everyone still tithed. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war, Genesis 14:20, while Jacob gave a tenth of all he possessed, Genesis 28:22. The Levites as well had to give their 10 percent from the tithe given to them, Numbers 18:26-28. The Levites were priests, not farmers. They could not own land or produce anything. Their income was from a second-hand source — the people who came to the temple.
Most giving in the Old Testament was to support the priests and the Levites in their duties, Numbers 18:24. The Priests and Levites were the clergy of the Old Testament. The Priests handled the sacrifices and were responsible for instructing the people in the Word of Yahweh (2Chron. 31:4, Mal. 2:6-9). The Levites led people in worship and assisted in the physical management of the tabernacle and temple (1Chron. 23:28-32).
It All Belongs to Yahweh
The issue is not where the tithe comes from but whether we prove our faithfulness by turning over to Yahweh a tenth of whatever is produced or profited from — no matter how we make our living. Yahweh does not need our adherence to any of His commands. But He does expect our willing obedience as a sign of our true hearts as His committed people. By this He knows who are indeed His.
The word “land” that Israel was to tithe from in Leviticus 27:30 is far broader in scope than just agricultural fields. It is the Hebrew erets and includes “earth, whole earth, earth as opposed to heaven.” From erets we see that everything belongs to Yahweh, even our existence.
Paul said in 1Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (NRS).
We leave everything behind when we enter the grave so that nothing is truly ours. Hearses do not pull U-Haul trailers. The gift of our life itself ultimately returns to Yahweh who gave it, Eccl. 12:7.
If He wants to let us keep 90 percent and requires only 10 percent in return, who are we as His creation to argue? What is the clay that it should challenge the potter? What does it tell Him about us as His worshipers if we resist or refuse? Yahweh has the perfect right to demand everything from us, yet He asks for only a small percentage and then waits to see whether we revere Him enough to follow through.
When we willingly obey He blesses us with more, Mal. 3:10-12. Tithers soon discover that 90 percent of their income after tithing will stretch further than 100 percent without tithing. Yahweh blesses the tither.
Quibbling over whether or not to tithe exposes a heart problem. By keeping the tithe for ourselves we say to Yahweh that He isn’t even 10 percent important to us. Not only that, but that we think so little of Him that we would steal from Him!
In marked contrast, a True Worshiper puts Yahweh above everything else. The person with Yahweh at heart will not keep what is not his but would joyfully give it ALL up if asked to do so — even if that means his very life. Rightly managing the tithe proves that we have a heart longing to obey.
We see this principle in operation when Yahweh directs Abraham to offer up Isaac, the patriarch’s most valued possession. What Yahweh really wants is to see Abraham’s true heart revealed through his willingness to part with his son if it came down to it, just as Yahweh revealed His love for mankind by giving up His own Son for us. Abraham passes the test and thereby confirms his complete devotion to and love of Yahweh. True Worship always requires a measure of personal sacrifice.
Tithing in the New Testament
Our firstfruits — the tithe — is an essential way of proving our true love for Yahweh. Giving is part of love itself. We give to our spouse and children because we love them. Giving to Yahweh through His ministry here on earth reveals our love for Him and the brotherhood. “Elohim is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them,” Hebrews 6:10, NIV. In contrast, Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 held back for themselves a portion designated for the work of Yahweh and each swiftly suffered the ultimate punishment.
Yahshua in the New Testament put His own authority behind the tithe when He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices…. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law —justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matt. 23:23, NIV)
Notice that Yahshua did NOT say, “Just worry about justice, mercy and faith and let the herbs take care of themselves,” or something equally dismissive. Rather, He confirmed the necessity of the tithe by directing them not to neglect it, either, as they refocused on what they had been disregarding.
In another parable in Luke 18:12, Yahshua confirmed that proper tithing constitutes a tenth of our gain, regardless of how that gain is achieved. He never told the Pharisee or anyone else that tithing was no longer required.
Some may say they could show their love better by giving whatever they wish instead of a set amount like 10 percent. The Bible shows that the tithe is just a starting point, a minimal amount expected of us. If one desires to give more, one is freely allowed to do so and will be blessed accordingly. Yahshua said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” He put no limits on giving. Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices Elohim is well pleased,” NIV.
There are actually three kinds of tithe in Scripture: the first is a tenth of all increase by wages or profit, Leviticus 27:30-33; the second tithe is used personally for attending the Feasts, Deuteronomy 14:22-27, and the third comes around every three years and is for the stranger, widows and orphans, Deuteronomy 14:28-29 and 26:12. All of these tithes carry with them a promise of blessing if we do them, Deuteronomy 14:29.
Since the Garden of Eden man has been trying to do things his own way — instead of the way Yahweh prescribed — and man’s way nearly always leads to problems. Yahweh showed us through Old Testament Law that tithing was part of what He considers acceptable worship. He never said otherwise in the New Testament.
Some contend that because we are not under the Levitical priesthood that tithing is brought to an end in the New Testament. It is true that we are now under the Melchizedek priesthood with Yahshua as our High Priest in the Melchizedek order, Psalm 110:4. But as shown in the account of Abraham, the Melchizedek priesthood also took tithes. It was to Melchizedek the High Priest that Abraham returned a tenth of the spoils of war, Hebrews 7:1-2.
Yahweh’s desire is that His ministry under today’s Melchizedek priestly system have a means of support to carry out the work of preaching and teaching, in the same way that the Levitical system was supported by tithes. Paul instructed Timothy, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages,’” 1Timothy 5:17-18.
Paul was a tentmaker, Acts 18:3. But he did not rely exclusively on his vocation. The brethren in Philippi sent him aid when he was out ministering (Phil. 4:16), which he accepted. Paul explained that those who minister have a right by authority of Yahweh to expect support: “Yahweh has commanded that those who preach the evangel should receive their living from the evangel” (1Cor. 9:13-14). The Apostle Paul personally chose not to live solely by proceeds from ministry, even though it was lawful for him to do so.
The Poor Widow Gave Her All, Literally
Paying the tithe is our obligation, and our attitude toward it is as important as the act of doing it. Yahshua looked for examples where righteous people showed their generosity of spirit regardless of their own personal needs or situations.
One of Yahshua’s key examples leaves us all without excuse when it comes to giving.
Yahshua was not impressed with the large amounts that the rich contributed to the temple treasury. And although the wealthy did give, “they all gave out of their wealth” (Mark 12:44). What won Yahshua’s praise and His heart was the sacrificial giving of a poor widow who couldn’t afford to give by anyone’s standard and yet she still gave — of the very money she needed to survive on!
What dedication! What faith! Her true heart was revealed as she put Yahweh before even her own basic need for food and shelter.
As you read this account, notice that Yahshua did not excuse her from giving because she was poor. He recognized that giving is an essential part of worship that teaches us to subjugate self while reaching out in love to others. This is a critical lesson for the True Worshiper: if you don’t sacrifice then how can you truly serve Yahweh?
“And Yahshua sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow has cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living,” Mark 12:41-44.
The act of giving is just as much a part of True Worship as keeping the Sabbath and calling on Yahweh’s Name. The tithe is like loving a wonderful spouse. It is a token reminder of how important he or she is, but at the same time shows that they deserve much more than it would be possible to give.
If you think you can’t afford to tithe, examine your budget and expenses each month to determine what you can do without so you can tithe. The lesson of the widow proves that no one has an excuse. And if someone claims he cannot tithe but yet owns a cellular phone, cable television, a boat, a sizable savings account, or any of life’s non-essentials, that person needs to re-evaluate priorities and begin putting Yahweh first.
A Modern Parable
The following parable speaks to those who go no further than profess their good intentions: Once, a man said, “If I had some extra money, I’d give it to Yahweh, but I have just enough to support myself and my family.” And the same man said, “If I had some extra time, I’d give it to Yahweh, but every minute is taken up with my job, my family, my clubs — every single minute.” And the same man said, “If I had a talent I’d give it to Yahweh, but I have no lovely voice; I have no special skill; I’ve never been able to lead a group; I can’t think cleverly or quickly, the way I would like to.”
Yahweh was touched, and so He gave that man money, time, and a glorious talent. And then Yahweh waited…and waited…and waited. Weary of waiting, He shrugged His shoulders and took all those things back from the man — the money, the time and the glorious talent.
Eventually the man said, “If I only had some of that money back, I’d give it to Yahweh. If I only had some of that time, I’d give it to Yahweh. If I could only rediscover that glorious talent, I’d give it to Yahweh.” And Yahweh sighed in deep disappointment.
Good intentions are worthless unless we put legs on those intentions, carry out our obligations and fulfill our promises. When we make a commitment to Yahweh, that commitment is binding and unchangeable. Our promise to be faithful to Him in ALL things was permanently and irrevocably set when we repented and were immersed into the Body of Messiah. We vowed to change our lives and obediently do all that He commanded us in His Word. Vows are irreversible, Ecclesiastes 5:4-6.
Finally, the Apostle Paul tells us to remember this,
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for Elohim loves a cheerful giver,” 2 Corinthians 9:6-13. May we live up to our promises and receive the blessings that come with being good stewards of what He gives us.
The following actually happened to men in the ministry:
On a ministerial tour, a minister entered a particular home with the hope of explaining Yahweh’s truth. During the conversation the man of the house asked whether the minister’s wife ever accompanied him on such trips. “Oh, she never comes with me,” the elder answered. “She isn’t in the faith.” The incredulous man responded, “Then I have some advice for you — why don’t you go home and convert your own wife first before you presume to teach me.”Struggling with marital problems, a couple sought counseling from a minister. After a few extraneous responses to their questions, they asked him, “Are YOU married?” “Well, no, I’ve never been married,” he answered. They were skeptical. “If you have never experienced married life firsthand, how can you really help us solve our marital problems?”An elderly man who had been ordained for a couple of years was asked some questions from a somewhat younger elder. The younger minister hoped to gain some special insight from the older man’s wisdom and knowledge of the Word. To his surprise and dismay, it was soon obvious that the older minister’s vague answers were indicative of one who had done little Bible study.A very young minister was sent to counsel a middle-aged man experiencing personal trials. The session failed, mostly because the older man was put off by the fact that someone less than half his age was trying to give him advice about life.
Each of these events is real. And they all emphasize an important fact when it comes to the office of ministry: It is crucial that those who are ordained meet certain Biblical standards and qualifications. Before they receive ordination, they must have first proved themselves, as Paul clearly explains in 1Timothy 3:10. If an elder who does not qualify Biblically is placed in authority before an Assembly, that ministry will inevitably suffer. Yahweh’s blessing will be lacking, and those responsible for ordaining him will suffer the consequences for their negligence.
This is a serious problem in some Assemblies today and the consequences have proved devastating.
Men are being ordained who fail in one or several key qualifications laid down in the Word. It is nothing less than a sin to lay hands on a man who does not have the Scriptural credentials, because to do so violates plain commands of the Bible. It also reveals a disturbing lack of a minister’s responsibility to his Assembly to ordain men who do not measure up.
When Yahweh sets the qualifications for eldership in two New Testament chapters – 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1
– the criteria He emphasizes foremost are not about the man’s ability to preach or teach, but about his character. Behind everything a man says is the testimony of his own life. This is vital, because above all else the office of minister is a spiritual trust. He is responsible for the spiritual guidance of those he serves. If he isn’t living what he preaches and teaches, he has lost his ability to convince. He is his own opposition.
We are told to examine the man’s marriage and family life. Nothing tells us more about a man than his relationship with those closest to him. Is he a good husband and father who receives praise from all? Does even the world recognize him as an honorable individual?
Are his wife and children in the faith? Has he proven himself by converting those closest to him? Paul is quite specific on this point. The candidate for eldership must have already led his family to the truth he holds dear, which is the same thing he will be doing in the ministry.
This qualification speaks volumes about the man and his ability and desire to admonish, guide, and influence others for Yahweh. As Paul admonishes, “For if a man knows not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Assembly of Yahweh?” 1Timothy 3:5.
Yahweh’s Standards Are Non-Negotiable
In essence, Paul says that the man considered for leadership in the Assembly has already demonstrated his spiritual qualifications in the most intimate place — his own family. Often Paul refers to saints in his life as his children. John calls them his “children in the faith.” Peter refers to believers as “children.” Why? Because spiritual leadership is like parenting, where you interact with others and set a living example for them, besides teaching and instructing them.
The standards Yahweh establishes for the office of ministry are not debatable. Simply put, certain men are fit for leadership while others are not. ALL the qualifications set forth in the Bible must be met before one is considered for such an important and influential office.
Any minister who ordains men for their tithing record, friendship or their ability to massage his ego is falsifying the Word and doing irreparable damage to those brethren he has vowed to serve scripturally in all things. Such dereliction of duty and lack of concern for the Body of Messiah are inexcusable.
Yahweh went to great pains to ensure that the right men were chosen for His service. Consider His selection of Noah, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, David, and the Apostles. Each was specifically chosen out of the world to serve Him, some with much effort. Are we to do less today? Mistakes made in choosing such men will assuredly return one day to plague and even destroy a work.
A true minister is a man who teaches, counsels, guides, manages, and produces for the sake of Yahweh’s truth. Above all, a minister is a leader. A leader is one whose life is so exemplary that others want to copy it. At its essence, leadership means being an example. Therefore, the very character of a man forms the basis for his ministry. If he fails to be a model of what he speaks and teaches, he will not be believed. Such a man is a hypocrite and a mockery to Yahweh’s Word.
Paul constantly had to remind himself not to act with duplicity. He wrote in 1Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
The strength of what a man says rests in his own virtuous life. All admonishment he gives to others ultimately is judged by whether he lives what he says. Paul explains that a minister like himself must be a good example. “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Phil. 3:17, NIV).
Elders don’t just teach the word, they live it. It is similar to the parent-child relationship, and that is one reason Paul emphasizes that a man’s family life be right. He will be doing much the same for the Assembly as he does for his family.
People need a proper standard to follow, because in essence, everyone should strive to attain the ideal expected of elders and deacons. We respect and emulate those who have the highest of character. Where else should we expect to find such examples if not in the ministry? In 2Thessalonians 3:9 Paul writes that he and his evangelists “make ourselves an example unto you to follow us.” Hebrews 13:7 issues this admonishment: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of Elohim to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
An elder’s life is like a giant video screen on display behind his pulpit, revealing the truth about him for all to see every time he speaks. If he doesn’t measure up to his own teachings, it will quickly be evident.
In no profession is it more crucial to embody the highest standards in all aspects of life than for a man who represents the very teachings of the King of the universe! An elder is a servant and the finest example of the kind of life Yahweh expects in all His people. A unique life — proclaiming truth and living it with integrity — is going to have a tremendous impact on others.
What is astounding is how many ministers themselves don’t seem to comprehend this basic fact. They are too wrapped up in achieving personal goals in a position they see not as a righteous witness in humble service and sacrifice, but as a position for power and personal glory.
In 1Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of Elohim. Don’t give an offense to a Jew or to a Greek or to the Assembly.” He says, “Just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
First and Foremost Is Character
Let us examine Titus 1, where we find the specific standards that a man must meet in order to qualify for ordination: “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of Elohim; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
No honest minister can ever read these qualifications without reevaluating himself each time he reviews them.
The qualifications for eldership, from verses 6-9, can be divided into four categories. The first is sexual purity, then family leadership; the third is general character, and the last is ability to teach. A candidate for ordination must qualify in all four areas. When he does, he will be above reproach. If he fails to measure up to any one of these, he must not be ordained.
“But that isn’t fair,” some will argue. “The man is a great speaker, we can overlook some of his shortcomings.” Not Scripturally, you can’t. Some will have trouble accepting Paul’s specific requirements for ministers, especially those who desire to be ordained but who fall short somewhere. Remember, Yahweh Himself set up those standards to be followed.
Those men who would argue and contest the standards because they would be permanently disqualified need to consider that half the population is prohibited from the ministry simply by their gender. Women are unable to serve as elders (1Cor. 14:34-35). Right-hearted women accept the fact that Yahweh made them females and go on living their lives to please Him, knowing they can never be ordained. Similarly, men who are not qualified should simply accept that fact. There are other important and necessary ways each can serve the Body.
More Specific Requirements in 1Timothy 3
As a senior minister once wrote, “As goes the eldership, so goes the Assembly.” Moral and spiritual looseness by elders breeds the same in the people. No wonder that this issue was of the utmost concern to the Apostle Paul, and others. Paul is the senior elder speaking to the young evangelist Timothy in 1Timothy 3.
Paul’s obligation was to ordain men in various cities who would carry on the work that he had started. He realized that the congregation may not always like the selections. To arm the leadership in their choices, Yahweh inspired Paul to establish very specific qualifications they were to follow.
The highest of standards along with the right motivation will give the people the right example they desperately need. All of this is to say that no one but those of impeccable integrity and the right qualifications must be considered for ordination. Therefore, Paul warns in 1Timothy 3:2-11 not to lay hands on any man if he:
is not blameless in his life
has more than one wife (was married before)
lacks self control
is not respectable
is not hospitable
does not know his Bible well and cannot teach it in an inspired way
is a drunkard
lacks control of and honor from his own family.
is a recent convert
has a bad reputation in the community
lacks a respectable, trustworthy wife who does not gossip.
These qualifications reveal and reflect the actual character of a man.
Is it wrong to expect more from elders and deacons? Of course not. That is exactly what we are to do. The 12 Apostles told the early Assembly, “Look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom,” Acts 6:3. These were exceptional men. Men of proven dedication and ability who had impeccable reputations. They were to serve as deacons, showing us that even the lower levels of office demand the same high qualities in a man, 1Timothy 3:8-13.
Rather than defending moral failure, twisting the Bible to accommodate unqualified men, and passing the buck for mistakes in ordinations, Yahweh’s people must demand high standards in their elders and deacons from the start. Yahweh Himself does!
The man with a wife who has not submitted to baptism in Yahshua’s Name is also unqualified for the position of elder or deacon. Paul’s mandate is clear that the wife must be dedicated in every way, 1Peter 3:1, 5. “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things,” 1Timothy 3:11. She cannot be faithful in all things if she is rebellious when it comes to the Faith. “Faithful” is from the Greek pistos and is translated “believer,” “he that believes,” “sure” and “true.”
A man whose wife and family are not with him in the Assembly is not the proper example to the membership. His ability to convince and convict is seriously lacking, notably through his lack of initiative with his own family.
On the other hand, if he has children who believe and are not rebellious, they will never bring scandal upon his good name and leadership. Now we can see more clearly some of the reasons behind these qualifications.
Suppose you as a father have older children who have not followed Yahweh or been dedicated to the faith, despite all your efforts. You are not responsible for their rebellion if you have done all you can as a believing parent. But neither would you qualify for ordination, according to clear, Scriptural requirements.
Paul’s guidelines about a wife presuppose that a minister is to be married, as Paul previously was. Being a member of the Sanhedrin meant Paul had a wife at the time he served in that council. We specifically read that Peter had a wife, Matthew 8:14, Luke 4:38. Also note what Paul wrote about the rights of an Apostle in 1Corinthians 9:5: “Don’t we have the right to take abelieving wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the [Master’s] brothers and Cephas [Peter]?” [NIV]
‘But…Can’t a Person Change?’
A common argument is that expecting a man to meet all of these qualifications is holding him to an impossible standard. Listen, if the standard were impossible to meet, then Paul deceived us and no one can ever be qualified.
“But what about conversion?” some may ask. “Doesn’t baptism wash away all sins?”
If this were an issue purely about sin, then there would be no point in setting down the requirements in the first place. A man’s conversion and washing away of his sins would make him instantly qualified no matter what his prior sins were. Obviously sin is not the only issue here. In fact, of the 14 prerequisites we find in 1Timothy 3, at least nine are unrelated to sin or are only indirectly associated.
A man either has had two wives (through remarriage) or he has not. Baptism cannot wash away that fact. (“one wife” does not mean one at a time. See our Web study: Online Studies/Marriage Studies: “Man of One Wife”)
A man’s wife is either converted at the point of his ordination or she is not. Again, his baptism does not affect that, either.
His being a recent convert does not change with his baptism. In fact, the lateness of his immersion is what makes him a recent convert.
His conversion does not immediately affect his Bible knowledge.
All of these are simple facts in a man’s life that cannot be changed by repentance and immersion.
The criteria listed in 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are prior qualifications. He is already supposed to be blameless, husband of one wife (one-woman man; married only once — Moffatt, Jerusalem, NRSV), with faithful children, of good character and able to convince the contradictors by his good Bible knowledge.
This is not a position for novices or one that a man eventually grows into. He is already there. His reputation precedes him and so does his knowledge of the Word. This is because he is to be a special example to everyone from the very start of his ministry.
A teacher is not there to learn himself. He is there to teach, and show by example.
Don’t Accept Compromise
The minister is not like the head of a company. He is like a father in a family. He is loving, compassionate, and patient. He has a concern for others far exceeding his care for himself, no matter how great the sacrifice. At the same time he is persuasive, courageous and able to motivate. It goes without saying that he exemplifies the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-25.
His attributes are also an example for children.
To persist in attending an Assembly where the elder is a hypocrite is unacceptable with Yahweh. Some parents will close their eyes to a minister who is morally tainted and continue under his leadership.
A child must believe that his spiritual leaders, for all their human failings, are basically honest and obedient to Yahweh’s laws. Children, and especially teens, will spot the hypocrite a mile away and know that phonies do not belong behind a pulpit. Such a man has no business counseling people about their problems while reveling in the same problems himself.
Adult example is critical to children. If parents continue to bring a child under the teaching of a man he distrusts, the child may conclude that his own parents are hypocrites as well. As a result, he may rebel or also become hypocritical, thinking that if it doesn’t matter to the minister or to my parents, it shouldn’t matter to me.
Showing others the power that repentance and conversion can have in a transformed life is one of the most powerful tools that Yahweh has in bringing people to the truth. A minister must be just that.
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