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In the Regeneration

(Matt. 19: 28)

        As indicated in the above title, Jesus used the term “regeneration” as he answered Peter’s question regarding the expected reward for having forsaken their families and their possessions in order to follow Jesus.  It is not difficult to discover the meaning of the term Jesus used in his answer to Peter.  Let us ponder the terms “generate” and “regeneration” and seek to discover the meaning of Jesus’ answer to Peter.

       The word “regeneration” clearly has reference to something that ceased to exist but would come back into existence.  Let us now examine the words “generate” and “regenerate” from Webster’s dictionary: 

       “Generate: 1. To produce; to bring into being.” 

       “Regenerate: 1. Spiritually reborn, 2. Renewed; restored; reformed

       3. To cause to be spiritually reborn; 4. To bring into existence again.” 

Jesus’ answer to Peter makes several revelations that give strong evidence about that which is to be regenerated according to prophecy. Two important factors are mentioned in the verse:

 “Jesus sitting on the throne of his glory” (Matthew 26: 31).

 “The twelve apostles sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 

       Both of the above-mentioned factors reveal the fulfillment of two prophesied promises regarding the restoration of the kingdom of Israel:

The seed of David (Jesus) sitting on David’s restored throne (2 Samuel 7: 13; Ezekiel 21:  26-27); Luke 1: 32-33; Acts 15: 16)

The restoration of Israel’s judges (Isaiah 1: 26).

How well these passages prove beyond doubt the prophecies that relate to the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, which was the “kingdom of God” (2 Chronicles 29: 23). 

Also, how fitting that after Jesus spent forty days with his disciples, teaching them of the things concerning the kingdom of God, that they should ask him, “Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”    

Teaching them of the coming Kingdom of God was to teach them of the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, for the future Kingdom of God is but the restored kingdom of Jacob (Israel).  The angel who wrestled with Jacob changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32: 28; 35: 10).  For the angel to say “House of Jacob” to Mary was to say “House of Israel.”

       Yes, Luke 1: 32, Matthew 19: 28, and Acts 28: 20 clearly verifies God’s intention to reestablish His kingdom as He restores the kingdom of Israel which grows until it covers the whole earth (Daniel 2: 35;  44;  Psalm 72: 8; Zechariah 14: 9). 

The House of Prayer for All People

(Mark 11: 17; Isaiah 56: 7)

Notice: in Mark 11: 17, as Jesus drives away those who were selling animals and fowl at the temple in Jerusalem, he remarks in verse 17, that the temple is destined to be the “house of prayer for all nations.” 

Until now the temple in Jerusalem has been only for worship by Israelites.  Therefore, it should be clear that, as the restored kingdom of Israel grows to fill the whole earth, several changes will take place in Israel.

A great and high mountain will be newly created (Matthew 4: 8; Ezekiel 40: 2; Isaiah 2: 2; Zechariah 14: 5, 10-11).  An earthquake is to form a 40 mile-long valley from which all the material from the small mountains forms a great, high mountain around which will exist the house of prayer for all people.  That temple will possess two rows of buildings that stretch a full mile in all directions in order to accommodate the whole population of the earth.

Two rivers are to leave that temple with one flowing into the Dead Sea; the Dead Sea is healed so that it can support life. (Ezekiel 47th Chapter).

All people will be required to go to Jerusalem to worship and keep the holy days (Zechariah 14: 16-21; Isaiah 2: 2).

       Isaiah 2: 2-4 speaks of the above order of things.  Verse 2 refers both to the mountain and to the Lord’s house with all nations flowing into it. 

Jeremiah 3: 17 speaks of Jerusalem being the throne of the Lord in those days.

Therefore, Jerusalem shall be the capital of God’s worldwide kingdom, for the law shall go forth from Zion; and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

 Thus, the question of Jesus’ disciples in Acts 1: 6 will be answered, for Jesus will have restored the kingdom to Israel.  From that time and forever, Jerusalem will be the capital of the worldwide Kingdom of God (Jeremiah 3: 17).

       Matthew 15: 8-9 and 23: 37-39 speak of the evil of the nation, for which their kingdom was dissolved and the people scattered.  Isaiah 60: 18-21 and Chapter 61 along with Ezekiel  36: 25-38 speak of the righteous existence of the restored nation under God.                                Wayne R. Tanner   Published July 18, 2018 

The Kingdom is at Hand

Matthew 3: 2; 4; 17, 23 

       It may seem strange that two thousand years ago, both John the Baptist and Jesus declared that the kingdom was at hand, meaning the kingdom is near. Yet, two thousand years later, the kingdom of God still has not been established.   We must realize that the Gentiles were not being offered the kingdom at the time John and Jesus declared the “kingdom is at hand,” for the “middle wall of partition” between Jews and Gentiles was still in place (Ephesians 2: 14).  Not until Acts 13: 46 did the apostles “turn to the Gentiles” as had been prophesied (Isaiah 65: 1-2; Isaiah 49: 6; Romans 10:20-21.

       When Jesus sent his disciples throughout the cities of Israel (Matthew 10: 5-6), he instructed them not to go to the Gentiles, but only to Israelites, because the

“wall of partition” had not yet been removed.   

It was not until after Jesus was in heaven at his Father’s right hand, that the disciples turned to the Gentiles for a people of the name.

       Therefore, the pronouncement,  “the kingdom is at hand” was spoken only to members of the nation of Israel who were still under the law.  In Matthew 23: 37-39,  Jesus assures the Israelites that he often offered to gather Israelites together “under his wing” as does a hen protects her chicks, but the Jews refused.

Therefore, since the Jews refused Jesus’ offer to restore their kingdom, the time of the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28: 20 – meaning the restoration of their kingdom), was delayed for a future generation. 

       We are now at the very door of that time.  In Luke 17:20-25, Jesus was asked, “when the kingdom of God should come?” He answered in Verse 25, “… first, he (the Son of man) must suffer many things and be rejected of this generation.”                                                                             

       Therefore, Jesus himself declared that the kingdom of God would be established in a future generation, instead of the time of his first advent.  Amos 9: 11-12 and Acts 15: 15-17 declare that the throne of David, from which Jesus is to rule the entire earth, would be set up at the return of Jesus to the earth, so that the residue of mankind may seek after the Lord (Acts 15: 17).

       In 2 Samuel 7: 12-15, God made a promise to King David, saying that after David was sleeping with his fathers, God would raise up a future descendant of David who would both build a house for God’s name and that God would establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  Peter, on the day of Pentecost, declared that God’s promise to David referred to Jesus (Acts 2: 30).   

       Appropriately, as the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her of the impending birth of Jesus, he assured her (Luke 1: 32-33) that God would give Jesus the throne of David (which was fallen) and “that Jesus would rule over the house of Jacob) (or Israel: Genesis 32: 28), and of his kingdom there would be no end.”

       Jesus himself was quoted by James, his brother,  assuring us that he would return and build again that throne of David and that he “would set it up” (Acts 15: 16-18). 

Therefore, we are given the assurance that the setting up of the kingdom of God awaits the return of Jesus to the earth as he promised his disciples in John 14: 3. 

       A problem exists for many Bible students in John 14: 2, 3 as Jesus tells his apostles he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for his disciples. 

Many Bible students mistakenly believe that Jesus was going to heaven to prepare a place for his disciples in heaven.  It is a fact that in John 13:33, Jesus had informed his disciples, just as he had told the Jews in John 7: 24 and 8: 21, that where he was going “they could not come.”  Many Bible students fail to understand Jesus statement  “I go to prepare a place for you.” 

        Those who are blessed with understanding are aware that Proverbs 10: 30 declares that the righteous shall never be removed from the earth.  Therefore, it is surely a fact that Jesus being at the right hand of his Father to intercede for us, prepares us to receive the place we are to inherit.   

Jesus tells us of the place we are to inherit, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5: 5) Without Jesus at the Father’s right hand to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7: 25), no place would ever be available for anyone to inherit.

       We should not be confused by John 13:36, which Jesus addressed to Peter, saying “thou shalt follow me afterwards.”  They had “followed him for three and a half years during his ministry, and Jesus assured them that when he returns, they would follow him again throughout eternity.  Jesus never invited them to follow him to heaven, for Proverbs 10: 30 says, “the righteous shall never be removed, but the wicked shall not inherit the earth.”

       Also, John 3: 13 declares “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven.” 

That is as true today as it was in the day it was first written.        

Yes, the kingdom was at hand for the Jews in Jesus’ day, for he offered to restore their kingdom to them (Matthew 23: 37-39).  However, their answer was, “we will not have this man to reign over us.”                                                                                       

      Today, the kingdom is at hand for both Jews and Gentiles, for everything that was foretold to be happening at the return of Jesus to the earth is happening at this very moment.  This generation has been marked for the “set time” to favor Zion (Psalms 102: 13).  Let us have our lamps trimmed and full of oil.  We should be eager to go out to meet him.  May we all thrill to hear, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:  34).       Wayne R.  Tanner  

      Putting off the Body of Sin

Colossians 2:11 

In Colossians 2: 11 the Apostle Paul, inspired by God (I Corinthians 7: 40), makes a statement regarding the results of the baptism of the believers in the city of Colosse.  The passage as it appears in the text today reads: "In whom ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ," (meaning the cutting off of Christ in his death). 

 The Colossian brethren had been crucified with Christ in their baptism as Colossians 2:12, 13 shows, as well as does Romans 6: 3-6. It is important that we be aware that the New Scofield edition, as well as the Scofield "Study System" Bible, say of Colossians 2: 11, "omit the sins of.

 It is also a fact that the Revised Standard Version reads: "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ."  The Revised Standard Interlinear Bible reads exactly the same way in both the Greek and the English.

 The Emphatic Diaglott reads: "By whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not done by hand, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of the Anointed."  The Greek reading in the passage is exactly the same as in the English.

 It is worthy of note that on Page 523 of Volume VI of Adam Clarke's Commentary states: "The words twn amartiwn, of the sins, are omitted by (reference garbled), and several others; also by the Coptic,  Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and the Atala; also by Clement, Athanasius, Basil, Cyril, and several others. Also, Griesback has omitted them."

 Therefore it is easy to see that the Apostle Paul clearly stated to the brethren at Colosse that in baptism the brethren had actually, in a symbolic way, put off the "body of the flesh."  In verse 13 Paul declared that God had "forgiven you all trespasses.”  If Paul had stated in verse 11 what some translators claim, then it would not have needed to be said in Verse 13 as did Paul. This indicates Paul knew he had not made the statement that they had "put off the body of the sins of the flesh," as Verse 11 is made to read today.

 The Apostle Paul had taught the same truth to the brethren at Rome as Romans 6: 3-6 demonstrates. Due to the fact that in Christ's sacrifice, he was both put to death and buried. He then rose from the tomb on the third day. Therefore, baptism represents the sequence of events experienced by Christ as he suffered for his and our redemption (Romans 6: 3-5-6).  In Romans 6:  6 Paul taught the Romans brethren the same truth,  that he taught the brethren at Colosse in Colossians 2: 11-13. That is, that baptism had  an effect on the body of the flesh, which is said in Romans 6: 6 to be "a body of sin." The forgiveness of personal sins belongs to Colossians 2: 13, not to Verse 11.  If Paul had said that in Colossians 2:  11, he would not have needed to say it again in Colossians 2: 13.

 What fact is to be recognized by the phrase "body of flesh," or "body of sin?"  In what way is our body a "body of sin?"  The answer is that what takes place in the mind is as much a part of any sin as is the very act itself. 

Jesus remarked in Mathew 15:18-20 that every sin that can be committed comes from the heart, or from within.  Galatians 5: 17-21 says also that every possible sin is "the work(s) of the flesh," while James 1:13-15 informs us that sin is the result of the "lust of the flesh;" and as a result of that lust, sin is committed and death is the result of sin, all of which comes from within a man. 

Thus, we are a body of sin, and the source of sin is as obnoxious to God as is the very act of sin itself. Therefore, God requires atonement for the source of sin as much as for the act itself.  Romans 6: 3-6 and Colossians 2:11-13 is proof of that fact.

 Is Atonement only for Personal Sin?

It is not unusual to encounter the erroneous claim that sin is only an act in violation of a commandment of God, and, that atonement needs to be made only for an act of disobedience to God of which a person is guilty.

 If this is so, the faithful Bible student must become very bewildered when he encounters the following in God's requirements:

 1.  Leviticus 16: 16 "And he shall make an atonement for the holy place because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins; and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness."

 Notice that the holy place needed an atonement. Could that be for its own personal sin? How could an inanimate object or place commit personal transgression? The reason it needed atonement was for two reasons – reasons that were not the fault of the holy place. The reason is stated to be for their (the people's) "uncleanness" and "their transgressions in all their sins."

 How was Israel in possession of both uncleanness and transgression in their sins? It is truth that not one Israelite ever existed that was not born of a woman, and God declared repeatedly that no man has ever been born of a woman who was not unclean  (Job 14: 4; Job 15:14; Job 25: 4).  That was the source of the uncleanness, meaning the Sanctuary was in the midst of thousands of unclean persons who were unclean because of having been born of a woman;  in addition, all of them had committed trespasses.

 Both conditions required a need for atonement, not just their personal sins.  Why would not atonement have been needed by the persons who were themselves unclean by birth if uncleanness was caused even by being in the midst of such persons?

 In verse 17, we see the need for all persons including the priest, needing atonement for both uncleanness as well as personal sins.

 In Leviticus 16: 18-19 we see that an inanimate altar had to have an atonement made for it. What could an inanimate altar have done that could be labeled a personal sin?  Away with such claims as some dare to make! See also verse 33 where all these truths are stated again.

 Then refer to Leviticus 12: 1-7.  Here a woman, not said to be unmarried at all, bears a child.  She needs atonement for bearing "a body of sin," even though she committed no sin by bearing the child; and the child needs an atonement even though it committed no sin in being born.  All this was required even when Mary gave birth to Jesus in Luke 2:  21-24.

 Then refer to Leviticus 14th and 15th Chapters.  It must be noticed that nowhere in either of these two chapters, is there any mention of the leper having leprosy because of anything – any transgression – that he had committed against God or against God's law.

 Also even after the leprosy was cured, the leper still had to be cleansed by the atonement.  Repeatedly through that chapter, he who has been cured of leprosy is still "he that is to be cleansed." That statement is made regarding him who must be cleansed by atonement because of having become defiled by the disease.  No uncleanness is allowed in contact with God or with His holy things. An atonement has to be made for all uncleanness whether that which needs atonement is a person or something inanimate.

 Paul advised the believers in Romans 15: 4 that the things written in former times (the Old Testament), were written for our learning.  If we have not learned these things that were shown to us, we have failed to receive that which God gave us for that purpose.

 From the lessons set forth in all these provisions, all Bible students should know before making a covenant with God, that they themselves are unclean by being born of a woman; and are further unclean by our own sins.  Atonement must be made for both reasons of defilement before covenant with God is acceptable to Him. Colossians 2: 11-13  makes that same point very well.

 In addition to all these truths being taught to us from God Himself, we owe our thanks to Robert Roberts, for he once penned this truth for our learning in his magazine, The Christadelphian, volume  15 (1878): "Legally, a man is freed from Adamic condemnation at the time he obeys the truth and receives remission of sins ; but actually its physical effects remain until  "this mortal" (that is, this Adamic condemned nature) is swallowed up in the life that Christ will bestow upon his brethren at his coming..."

 How clearly did he teach us that not only does the candidate for baptism legally "put off the body of the flesh (or sin) but that he is also forgiven all trespasses.  By such is the truth of God so clearly taught,  and such truths beckon us to be partakers of the divine nature, and equal unto Jesus and the angels of God (II Peter 1: 4;  Luke 20:  35-37;  Philippians 3:  20-21).

                                                                                                         Wayne R.  Tanner

What is the Soul?

         Many people of the religious world believe that "the soul” is an immortal part of man that cannot die.  The Bible knows nothing of such an entity, for such a thing is not described once in the entire Bible.  Some think Matthew 10: 28 teaches that doctrine.  It will be advantageous for the reader to read Matthew 10:  28 in the Emphatic Diaglott, and also to compare the passage with Luke 12: 4-5.  It is easy then to see that Jesus was not at all teaching what the mistaken folk think Jesus was saying.  

So what is the Bible soul?  We can get a clear message from Genesis 2: 7:

         "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."  Therefore, from the above we see that whatever the soul is, it did not come down from heaven and enter into the man.  That which was made of dust, as soon as life entered into it, became a living soul.  That which was dust, prior to having life breathed into it was not yet a “living soul.”

            It was, however, a living soul as soon as life entered into it

The Apostle Paul taught the same truth by inspiration from God in I Cor.  15: 45.  Paul in that passage wrote: "The first man Adam was made a living soul." 

          Notice that neither of these verses in Genesis nor 1 Corinthians 15: 45 say that Adam "received” a living soul, but both say that he became a living soul. 

At this point,  it needs to be realized that in the Hebrew of the Old Testament,  the word "soul"  comes from the Hebrew term ”nephesh.” The term “nephesh” is translated:

Soul 428 times.

Life 119 times.

Body 7 times.

Beast 2 times

Desire 5 times.

Mind 15 times -showing the soul is the man with a mind, or with the senses.

Person 30 times.

Creature 9 times, even speaking of animals and fishes: Gen.  1: 20, 21, 24; Gen.  2: 19, 9: 9: 10, 15, 16 ;  Leviticus 1:  46;  Gen.  9: 10, 15, 16;, Leviticus 11: 46. Also in other ways as well.

 In the New Testament "soul” is translated from the Greek “psuche” and is translated:

Soul 58 times.

Life 40 times.

Mind 3 times, showing the soul is the man himself, having a mind, or with the senses.

Truths Relating to the Soul

Souls are born – Exodus 1: 5;  Genesis 46: 18, 26

Souls eat – Leviticus 7: 18, 20, 25, 26, 27; Leviticus 17: 12, 15.

Souls breathe, they have breath (Ecclesiastes 3:  19).

Souls Die – Numbers 23: 10; Joshua 10:25, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39, 40; 11: 11;

Matthew 26: 38; Judges 18: 2, 20, 27; Job 7: 15; Psalm 22: 20, 29; Psalm 78:50.

Souls Go To The Grave - Job.  33: 18; Psalm 16: 10 ; Psalm 30: 3; Psalm 49:15; Psalm 89: 48; Isaiah 38: 17;Acts 2: 31.

 There is no consciousness in the grave (Ecclesiastes 9; 5, 10; Ecclesiastes 3: 17, 20; Psalm 6: 5; Psalm 146:  3-4; Psalm 115: 17.

Both men and animals have "Spirit" or breath.

The term "Spirit" comes from the Hebrew “ruach” in the Old Testament:

Genesis 7: 15; 21-22.

The phrase "immortal soul" does not occur one time in the Bible.

The Bible shows clearly that mankind awaits the day when all souls (or faithful men and women) are changed from mortal to immortal (1 Corinthians 15: 53-58).                               Wayne R. Tanner                 

 What is Death?

In the Bible record, we are informed that man became a living soul.  The Bible does not say that he was given a soul (Genesis 2: 7). The soul that sins, dies (Ezekiel 18: 4, 20).

 The angels of God told Adam that if he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die (Genesis 2: 17).

 So, just what is death?

 Mistaken theologians will nearly all answer that "death" is “to leave your body and go to heaven to live with God and the angels.”

 Let us imagine for a moment that the angels of God agree with that belief.

 Let us imagine Adam responding to the angel with this question with these words: "You tell me, that if I eat of that tree, I will die." My question is, "What is it to die?"

 The angel answers: "Why Adam, to die, is to leave your body and go to heaven to live with God and with us angels in perfect happiness and peace. That will be your punishment if you disobey."

 Adam:  “Then what is the result if I obey and do not eat of that tree?”

 The angel:  “Well, if you obey, you will stay here and work in the garden all day every day.”

 Adam:  “My goodness, I like the punishment for disobedience a lot more than I like the reward for obedience.  I think I will eat of that tree right now, for I do want the punishment for sin.  It is much better than the reward for righteousness.”  So Adam steps over and eats of the tree.  Do we see the folly that the fables (II Timothy 4: 1-4) of the apostate beliefs present?

 Is the punishment of death a better choice than the obedience of eternal life for obeying?

 Going to heaven to live in eternal happiness is certainly a reward’ and should be classed as "a friend to man." 

 However, the Bible says that death is mankind's enemy and that death is due to be destroyed (I Corinthians 15: 24-28).  Indeed, it is the last "enemy" to be destroyed (I Corinthians 15: 26). 

 If the churches are right, God will be destroying the most beloved friend that mankind has. But God tells us that to destroy death, is to destroy man's worst enemy

Also, Revelation 21: 1-4 declares that destroying death is to wipe away the tears from all eyes.  Can we not see how some theologians have wandered into apostasy and foolish error while denying the truth of God? 

What is the Truth About Death?

(The Angels Know This is so!)

 Please refer to Ecclesiastes 3: 17-21, where the destiny of man is clearly stated. Then, ponder Ecclesiastes 12: 10 where God tells us that the conclusions of Solomon were words of truth. Now turn back to chapter 3. Beginning in verse 17 we see that Solomon is discussing the exact sameness of the deaths of both men and of beasts. In verse 19, he writes that just as do the beasts die, so do men die

 In verse 20 he says "they all go to one place" – both men and the beasts.  Where do they go?  Consider that Ecclesiastes 9: 6 and 9: 10 declare “there is no consciousness in death.”  Apostates think they have proof of their false doctrine in verse 21 where they think God inspired Solomon to say the spirit of man goes upward, while the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth.

 NO!  God did not inspire Solomon to say that both man and beast go to the same place in verse 20, and then say in verse 21 that they go to different places!  We should never accuse God of such inconsistency.  In verse 21 Solomon asked, WHO KNOWS SUCH A THING?"  It is a known fact that originating out of Egypt there were many doctrines that were apostate theories.   There were philosophers there that believed and taught the immortality of the soul, and heaven-going at death – doctrines which were denied by God Himself.  Therefore, Solomon asked, “WHO KNOWS such a thing?” as the spirit of the man going upward, and the spirit of beasts that go downward. In other words, he is pointing out the falsity of that theory!

 In Verse 10, writing to those servants of God with white garments (verse 8), Solomon writes, that "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, no wisdom IN THE GRAVE WHITHER THOU GOEST."

 In Isaiah 38: 1-19, God sent the message to king Hezekiah that Hezekiah was going to die and not live.  Now, if Hezekiah believed the apostate doctrine that death sends the dead off to heaven to live with God and His angels in peace and everlasting happiness, why did he go all to pieces and desperately pray to God to give him longer life, even fifteen more years? 

 God heard his plea and gave him fifteen more years to live.  Please read Isaiah 38: 16-20 and see how relieved and thankful he was.  Does anyone think that he was so relieved that he was not going to heaven to live with God and His angels?  There is not one hint in the whole chapter that death would have sent him off the heavens.  The truth about what death would have done to him makes us understand why the threat of death upset him so desperately.  It is the truth of God that Adam was sentenced at his death to return to the dust from which he was taken (Genesis 2: 19). 

 It is also true that the sentence that passed upon Adam passed on to all his descendants (Romans 5: 9, 18).  Hezekiah knew very well that in dying, he was not going to continue to exist, but that “his breath would go forth, that he would return to the dust and in that very day his thoughts would perish” (Psalms 146: 3-4).

 Psalms 146: 3-4 also clearly tells us what death is.  Compare that passage with Genesis 2: 7 and it is obvious that death is the reverse of being created. Moses by inspiration says that in death, a man's breath goes forth, he returns to the earth, and in that very day, his thoughts perish,"  for there is no knowledge or wisdom in the grave” (Ecclesiastes 9: 10).

 Teaching that death means to go to heaven is to teach the doctrines of men instead of the doctrines of God.  In Isaiah 29: 13 and Matthew 15: 8, the Bible declared that the Jews, having taught doctrines of men instead of the truths of God, caused the Jews to worship in vain.  Why would it be any different when theologians do the same thing?  The servants, the believers of God, teach the doctrines of God and reject the doctrines of men.                                                               Wayne R. Tanner

 A Priest Forever After the Order of Melchisedec

Q & A

          Question:  In Hebrews chapter 7 we read of the man Melchizedek, who met Abraham who was returning from his battle with the kings – that he had no father nor mother, nor a beginning of days.  It does not make sense that any man since Adam has had no father nor mother nor a beginning of days.  Can this be explained in a way that it can be understood? (A fellow student)

         Answer:  This passage has for a long time been a problem for many Bible Students.  As pointed out in the question above, no man (except Adam) has existed on the earth that did not have a father and a mother, as well as a beginning of days.

         It will help if we understand that in this 7th Chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul is showing the superiority of the Melchizedek order to which Jesus had ascended over the Levitical order that existed all the days of Israel, and with which all Israelites were familiar. Also, all that is said in verse 3 pertains to the Melchizedek "order" that both Jesus and Melchizedek had received from God.

         Notice the word "descent" in verse 3 which is associated with the terms "father" and "mother," which Paul says does not pertain to the Melchizedek order.  All that is said in the chapter speaks of the difference between the Levitical and the Melchizedek orders.

         As we delve into this, we must bear in mind that Melchizedek was a king/priest of the Melchizedek order  (Genesis 14: 18; Hebrews 7: 1-2; Zechariah 6: 12-13).  Literally, verse 3 declares that Jesus did not receive his king/priest position by inheritance from Joseph and/or Mary.

         Paul is here pointing out that during the times of Israel when the Levitical order was in force,  both the kingship and the Levitical priesthood "descended" (was inherited) from one's father or mother to the next king or to the next priest (Hebrews 7: 5 - 6).  When Aaron died, his son became the high priest.  Likewise when the king or queen died, their offspring became king or queen. This is true in all nations ruled over by the Royal system.   However, the Melchisedec king/priest Order was not by descent from father or mother; instead, a man is made a Melchizedek king/priest by means of an oath from God (Hebrews 7: 20-22).

         Paul makes further reference to all this again in Hebrews 8: 4, 6.  Because the old covenant was faulty, Jesus now is the Priest (verse 4) of a "better covenant" into which even Israel will enter during the kingdom age.  The reference to the better, Melchizedek covenant verifies that Paul is clearly comparing the Levitical order and the Melchizedek orders, showing the superiority of the "better covenant" (the Melchisedec order)  over the lesser Levitical order.

         A very thought-provoking fact is made known by the inspired apostle in Hebrews 7: 3.  Not only does Paul state that the Melchizedek king/priest order is not by descent from father or mother, he also declares the order had no beginning of days or end of life. 

         In other words, it has always existed

         We are aware that even the earth had a beginning, so long ago that God "stretched forth the heavens that pertain to this galaxy, alone;" and that He "spread abroad the earth by Myself" (Isaiah 44: 24).  Therefore, the Melchizedek priesthood always has existed, even before the earth was formed; and even before the angels of God in heaven existed, for God formed the "heavens and the earth alone" and "by Himself" – before there existed any of mankind (Isaiah  44: 24). 

         Sometimes angels seem to have carried out such works. 

         Obviously, this heaven and earth had a beginning, but the Melchizedek order has not had a beginning (Hebrews 7: 3), for it has always been.

         The Melchizedek king/priesthood is administered by God through whomever He appoints as the Melchizedek king/priest.  We have to wonder, "Of what benefit was such an order if there was no one over whom to administer such an order in the far, distant past?"  Does this not cause us to wonder about the possibility of life in more ancient galaxies other than the galaxy in which we live?  Over whom has the Melchizedek order been administered forever, if life has only existed in this one Milky Way galaxy since the time when God formed the earth by Himself?  The answer will no doubt be revealed to us when this mortal puts on immortality (I Corinthians 15: 53-54; Luke 20: 35-36; II Peter 1: 4).

         Also, Paul's main point, is that Jesus was made a king/priest "forever" by that "oath" from God (verses 20, 21, 28), for Paul says, “The Lord hath sworn and will not repent;" also ... "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110: 4; Hebrews 7: 17, 21). 

         No one can be a priest forever if he is mortal, as all members of the Levitical order were.  Jesus was qualified to be "a priest forever" because “He continueth forever" and has "the power of an endless life" (Hebrews 7: 16, 23-26).  It was the Melchizedek order that was without the beginning of days or an end of life, for that Order is of God. It has been forever, and will always continue to exist.

         Again, throughout this 7th chapter of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul demonstrates the superiority of the Melchizedek order (temporal) over the Levitical order (eternal), showing that the Melchizedek king/priest does not inherit his position by descent from father or mother (as was true under the Law of Moses) but by an oath from God, by which he was appointed to that position, and abides in that position forever.               Wayne R. Tanner