Gifts From The Holy Spirit

This article is part 4 of 7 in the series Holy Spirit

   The Holy Spirit is a gift to all who give their life to Jesus (Acts 2:37-39). Most believers accept this as a fact, even though they may not understand the implications of it. A segue question comes to mind about the gifts provided by the Holy Spirit. Are the gifts given by the Spirit for Christians today? Which ones? Are these connected to being more or less blessed and accepted?
   As we begin this brief study, let me say that scriptures teach when one is saved, he is all the way saved, accepted by the Father as one washed in the blood of Jesus. The Spirit who indwells the Christian works in the Christian to help him/her grow continually through life, in His grace.
   Gifts from the Spirit are different from the gift of the Spirit. All Christians receive the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), and Christians receive gifts from the Spirit, but not all Christians receive the same gifts (I Corinthians 12:4-10). The body of Christ, illustrated by Paul with the human body, has different parts, performing different duties and thus the ‘body of Christ’ (the church) does what it is supposed to do in the world, with the help of the Spirit.
   Now since I am not going to be able to cover everything in this article… and since I don’t know it all, you will need to read carefully I Corinthians 12, 13, and 14. These Christians had a major problem of jealousy and lack of love for each other. Thus chapter 13 is critical to all of this. Brethren were jealous, because some Christians had the gift of tongues (the ability to speak a different language not normally learned (Acts 2:1-12), and others did not.  They may have had a gift like ‘mercy’ or ‘giving’ or ‘leading’ or some other gift (Romans 12:4-8). The ones with the gift of ‘tongues’ looked down on the one without this gift, this is evident when reading I Corinthians 14. Paul writes to correct their attitudes towards each other. Every gift was important to the ‘body’. No one was to be considered ‘of less importance’ than others, (Romans 12:3), even though some gifts were more important (I Corinthians 14:5). Certainly putting one another down, was not right.
   As far as ‘tongues’ was concerned, Paul deals with this more in I Corinthians 14, where he says that prophecy (which edified the whole congregation), was actually to be desired more than ‘tongues’, since it didn’t involve speaking a language unknown to the rest (I Corinthians 14:3-5). Prophesying was simply speaking a word from God for the instruction, encouragement, and edification of the whole group. The practice of everyone speaking at the same time in some ‘unknown tongue’, was actually FORBIDDEN by the apostle (I Corinthians 14:23).
   They were to follow these instructions… two or at the most three with the gift of tongues were allowed to speak at the assembly (obviously with an interpreter)
(I Corinthians 14:27).
 Those that prophesied, they were to do so in a decent and orderly fashion,
(I Corinthians 14:33).
   Does the Holy Spirit still give gifts today? The “signs and wonders” done to prove that those who spoke were authentic apostles are recorded for us in scriptures. Gifts from the Spirit, some are not with us, some are. God still works, answers prayer, heals, guides, ‘opens opportunities’… Other things were mentioned in a previous article.
   No I am not trying to limit God. however, I do not want to teach something which goes beyond what He has revealed in scriptures either.

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What Does The Holy Spirit Do In The Life Of The Christian Today?

This article is part 3 of 7 in the series Holy Spirit

    On the Day of Pentecost (AD 33) some three thousand were redeemed by the grace of God when they repented and were immersed “for the remission (forgiveness) of sins” as Peter commanded, but that wasn’t and isn’t all that is promised! There was a gift, a gift from God which is for all Christians… the indwelling Holy Spirit, (Acts 2:38-29). 
   This is a special, ‘what I believe’ article… So, if you do not agree, just open your Bible and read the references that are there, and make your own decisions.  (One old preacher told me, “Jack, it’s alright to write about the Holy Spirit as long as you don’t try to explain Him.” Maybe he was right.)
   That all Christians receive the Holy Spirit is beyond a doubt (to me), (Acts 2:39; 5:32). Jesus had promised the coming of the Spirit (John 7:37-39), a Comforter, an Advocate for his disciples (John 16:6-11; Acts 1:1-11). 
   When speaking with Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:1-8). Thus Jesus brings both water (immersion) and Spirit together into the picture of a new birth. Keep in mind… “A WATERLESS, SPIRIT BIRTH, IS NO MORE BIBLICAL THAN A SPIRITLESS WATER BIRTH.” Jesus said this birth is composed of “water” AND “Spirit”.
   It is the Holy Spirit, our Reality our Guide, who protects, and nourishes and keeps the body of Christ until He returns. The Gift OF the Spirit is different from gifts FROM the Spirit, some of these gifts were temporary and some permanent. All gifts have a special purpose within the body of Christ. Study carefully the following passages, I Corinthians 12:1-12; Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:11-14. Today, we have the written word, and while some gifts do not seem to be with us today, others definitely are, but ALL as the Spirit wills and purposes. We also have the Spirit’s help in guiding, protecting, and opening doors for the spread of the Good News.  
   Other things that the Spirit still does today…(1) Provides spiritual judgment (1 Corinthians 2:14-15), (2) Works in salvation, ( 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Corinthians 12:13), (3) Fruits of the Spirit in the Christian’s life, (Galatians 5:22-24), (4) He strengthens the Christian’s heart (spirit), (Ephesians 3:16-17),  (5) He unifies the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:3-6), (6) He helps in worship, (Ephesians 5:18-21), by encouraging worship in song, thanksgiving, submission, and reverence, and prayer (Ephesians 6:18), (7) He brings joy, (I Thessalonians 1:6), (8) He sanctifies the Christian throughout life, (Romans 15:15-16; II Thessalonians 2:13), (9) He is evidence of salvation to the Christian, (I John 3:24). 
   If these are not enough to make the Christian rejoice, then consider that the Spirit, gives life, satisfies spiritual thirst, enables service in a new and deeper way, sets us free from the law of sin and death, makes us God’s children, helps us pray, makes us God’s temple, and fills our lives completely, and …. just as God raised His Son, by the power of the Spirit….he will one day raise us (Romans 8:9-11; I John 3:1). Physical death is only the door to an eternal resurrection. Praise God!

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What Is The Gift Of The Holy Spirit?

This article is part 2 of 7 in the series Holy Spirit

   Peter said it… “The promise is for you and your
children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call”
(Acts 2:39). This verse carries as much weight as verse 38… Paul said, “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of
God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not
belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).
ither that ALL CHRISTIANS HAVE THE SPIRIT or NONE have received the Holy Spirit. It is no more difficult for the Spirit to dwell in a million than 12. I find no middle ground on this in scriptures. Jesus said it, promised it… Peter and Paul both preached it…. I believe it. Paul confirms this in I Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” 
   Let’s carefully question the next one who is to be baptized.  “Are you
saved?”  “No, not yet”.  “Are you wet?”  “No not yet”. Continue the questioning after baptism. “Are you wet?”  “Yes”. “Are you saved?  “Yes”.  If all that takes place between the ‘dry’ and the ‘wet’ is water, why does Paul write “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (I Corinthians 12:13). Jesus taught Nicodemus, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5).  One birth, two elements. 
   Both are equally essential, and serve a different purpose in the picture of being saved. If one denies that baptism is necessary for salvation, he necessarily invalidates the life giving Spirit, for they are both JOINED and necessary in the new birth according to Jesus, this much is plain. Paul said “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). It  is my conviction that the scriptures clearly teach  that all those that receive the good news of Jesus Christ, who turn from sin and are born again in a birth of WATER AND SPIRIT, and not only receive the remission of sins but also the gift of the Holy Spirit (or the Holy Spirit as a gift).

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What Is The Gift Of The Holy Spirit?

This article is part 1 of 7 in the series Holy Spirit

   You have to be patient with beginning preachers…. (and maybe a few experienced ones)… we make mistakes. Looking back over sermons preached back in the 70’s and 80’s, I have to admit, I would make a few changes. There was too much guilt, not enough grace. Balance was sorely missing and greatly needed. I recall I was full of excitement, yet very nervous. My mind was ‘packed’ with scriptures, yet there was something missing. A minister needs both a knowledge of the scriptures and A KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF PEOPLE.  I was afraid of being ‘marked’, and upsetting those who ‘held the church purse strings’. For whatever reason, I held back from saying some things which needed to be said… things which would have helped, not only those who listened, but myself as well. 
    I spoke strongly about “remission of sins” mentioned in Acts 2:38, but said little about the last part of the verse where Peter speaks equally about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. I can’t really explain it. How could I preach so much on baptism being FOR the remission of sins, and fail to teach that those who are baptized receive something very important, even critical to living the life of a Christian…. a gift from God, the Holy Spirit?
  The fact is, that those on Pentecost, were told to do two things, “repent” and “be baptized” (immersed is the meaning of this word). They were also told that they would receive two things, the “remission (forgiveness) of sins” (this was the reason for doing what Peter said), AND “the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now, after personal study, and independent thinking, I want to share some things with you.
   John the Baptist, introduced Jesus by saying, “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8).   John was speaking to a people from  Judea and Jerusalem.  This was BEFORE Christ chose his 12 apostles. When and how does Jesus baptize believers in the Holy Spirit?  Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:37:39).  If the penitent believer receives the remission of sins at baptism (immersion), and does not receive the Spirit of God, then this would indeed be called, ‘water regeneration or water salvation’. Much indeed would be missing. Paul wrote, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12). Does God work in the process of being baptized or is it just a matter of form?  Is there an actual birth, and if so, does it not require a new Spirit?  (Because without the Spirit, that which has been planted (buried) in baptism… receives no LIFE,  therefore will not grow. The past would be dealt with, but there would be no future.) If it requires a new Spirit, who’s Spirit is it? Why hold back in teaching that every believer receives the Holy Spirit in conversion when the Word of God clearly teaches this truth!
            More to come….

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Divorce And Remarriage – “The Bible Expressly Says A Divorced Man Does Not Sin If He Marries”

This article is part 6 of 9 in the series Divorce and Remarriage

(We are grateful for this material by Olan Hicks, provided here with permission.)

   Why not let 1 Cor. 7:28 say what it says? What is the motive for changing it? Whatever the reason, textual facts are being denied, even by some brethren.

   THE ARGUMENT USED TO CHANGE IT: Because Paul spoke of “virgins” in verse 25, these men are saying he is still speaking of virgins in verse 28. But think. How do we know he spoke of virgins in verse 25? Because “parthenos,” the Greek word for virgins, is in the verse. In other words, that is what he said. But in verse 27 “parthenos” is not in the verse. Paul did not speak of virgins there. He said “dedetai gunaiki,” a Greek phrase meaning “bound to a wife.” One who is bound to a wife would not be a virgin. So we know that in verse 27 Paul spoke of a married man because he said so.

   The TNIV has it meaning betrothed and that simply is not what it says. The Greek word for betrothed is “mnestuo.” That word is not in this verse. “Virgins” is not there and “betrothed” is not there. The passage does not speak of virgins and it does not speak of engagement. It says what it means, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a divorce.” Like it or not, that is what the Greek text says.

   Then at verse 28 they continue the nonsense by reading it “Are you free from such a commitment?” meaning “Are you not engaged?” It isn’t there. How do we know Paul spoke of virgins in verse 25? Because he said so. We know he spoke of married men in verse 27 the same say, because he said so. In the same way we know that he spoke of a divorced man in verse 28 because he said so.

   The verb is “lelusai,” perfect, passive of “lusin,” derived from “luo.” This is the word in Mat. 19:9 which is translated “put away” or in most versions,  “divorced.” If it means that in Mat. 19:9, why does it not mean that here? In fact the NIV translates a form of the same word  ”divorce” in verse 27. A form of the same word starts verse 28 and there they translate it “Are you unmarried?” There is no way to justify that.

   It is a fact, this scripture says that a man who has been divorced by his wife does not sin if he marries. Of course he doesn’t. He is a single man. Jesus said that “adultery” is a wrong committed “against her,” the wife put away. This man has no wife to sin against. She divorced him in the past. This is a passive voice verb, meaning that she divorced him, not the other way around. If you can’t let the Bible say what it says here, maybe you should ask yourself why?

   The Catholic doctrine of marriage as a “sacrament” is what is behind the distortion of this passage. That came down to us from the Council of Trent, issued in the middle of the 16th century. They declared marriage to be the 7th sacrament and as such that it is unbreakable by anything but death. They had good intentions. They said it was their intention “to curb the abuse of marriage.” But the problem is they chose to try to do that in a human way, not in God’s appointed way. God placed marriage as a protector against immorality. (1 Cor. 7:2, vs. 5 and vs.9) Celibacy is never prescribed in scripture as a way to accomplish that.

   To better understand how serious it is to forbid marriage to divorced people read 1 Timothy 4:1-3 about the apostasy Paul predicted would happen in the latter times. The first feature of it is “forbidding to marry.”(vs.3) He said there that it is a departure from the faith and a giving of heed to the doctrine of demons. Therefore I would urge you to think about the fact that one who forbids marriage is obeying the devil and rejecting God’s orders “Let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Cor. 7:9) That is serious business. Think about it.

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Divorce And Remarriage – “Biblical Summary On Divorce & Remarriage”

This article is part 5 of 9 in the series Divorce and Remarriage

(We are grateful for this material by Olan Hicks, provided here with permission.)

   In Matthew 19, verses 3-12, Jesus stated several facts clearly. First He said that marriage is of God, that it is to be a “one flesh” relationship, and that man must not put it asunder. The Pharisees, evidently thinking this was an inconsistency, asked “Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce and put her away?” (vs. 7) Jesus replied, “For the hardness of your hearts Moses suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Looking back at what Moses said in Deut. 24:1-3 we find that what was commanded there was the paper work, the “bill of divorce,” in a case where a wife was being put away. It was not a command to put her away but rather a command that in the event you were putting her away you must give her the written release or bill of divorcement. The “hardness of heart” or cruelty, consisted in putting her away without the formal release. As Josephus said, “without the bill of divorcement she was not permitted so to do.” (Marry another)

   In the Pharisees’ logic this seemed to imply an approval of marriage breaking. But at verse 8 Jesus said that from the beginning it was “not so,” i.e. not God’s will that marriages break up. Then He said that when a man does put away his wife and she is not guilty of fornication, and marries another, he “commits adultery.” This is not a present infinitive verb. It does not denote an ongoing, continuous action. It is present indicative. It points to an action that happens, as the text says, when he puts away one and marries another, two punctiliar actions, not later in the sexual cohabitation in another marriage.

   Thus the first thing we need to do is identify what the sin is according to what the text says, not according to human theory. The words of Jesus are clear on this. The sin occurs when two things are done, (1) the man puts away his innocent wife and (2) marries another. In Mark 10:11 Jesus clarified this matter further. He said that the man who does this “commits adultery against her,” i.e.the wife put away. The adultery then is against the first wife, not with the second wife.  It is a betrayal of his vows and obligations to the original wife. This fact is not altered one way or the other by what he does after that, whether he marries again or not. The fact is he has committed a sin against the wife and in so doing has violated the will of God.

   One significant thing is not in the Biblical text. As Foy Wallace Jr. pointed out, Jesus did not “legislate a disciplinary procedure.” (Sermon on the Mt. & the civil state, pg. 41) The Lord said it is a sin but He did not specify the penalty, what must be done about it. Wallace said, “We cannot make one without human legislation.”

   This is exactly what did happen in later years, human legislation prescribed the penalty. The Council of Trent (middle 16th century) had good intentions. They said their intention was “to curb the abuse of marriage.” That is a good thing. But the problem is they chose to do it according to their traditional human theories, not according to Bible prescriptions. Their theology was traditional Catholic teaching so the “sacrament” theory of marriage was their basic view point. Reasoning on the basis of that premise their interpretation of this text changes “do not” to “cannot.” They believed that marriage, as a sacrament, is not breakable until death. The resulting conclusion of their logic is that the divorced and remarried man is not living with the one who is still his wife in God’s sight and is living with a woman who is not his wife in God’s sight. They put the label “adultery” there.

   As you can see, this line of reasoning also causes them to move the sin from the two acts of putting away and marrying another to the sexual activity in the subsequent marriage. They set aside the specification Jesus gave, that unscriptural divorce and remarriage is adultery, and declare that “adultery is a sex act.” And so it is that from this source, the human theories of the council of Trent,  we have what is called “the traditional view” on divorce and remarriage, i.e. that sinfully divorced people lose their “eligibility” to participate in marriage.

   This theory not only damages lives by requiring people to live an abnormal life, (without a mate) it also brings them into conflict with another very serious premise in scripture, in which the perpetrators may be jeopardizing their own souls. In 1 Timothy 4:1-3 the apostle says that the Spirit predicts a falling away in the last times when men will depart from the faith and give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. The first feature of it (in verse 3) is “forbidding to marry.” Again here they have good intentions, they want people not to “live in adultery.” But like the Council of Trent, they lose sight of what God has said about the matter. God states very clearly that He does not want marriage forbidden, He wants it practiced. Marriage is God’s appointed way of preventing “immorality.” (1 Cor. 7:2) “Let them marry, for it is better to marry then to burn.” (Vs. 9) Thus it is not surprising that this passage would say of those who forbid marriage that they  “depart from the faith.”

   So if we strip away the human theories, even though well intentioned, what we have left is the fact of a sin and a need to apply the Bible way of dealing with sin. Repentance, of course, is the Biblical way. If we have been doing something that is contrary to God’s will, such as breaking marriage, we must stop doing that and start doing what is according to God’s will. In this matter the will of God is one man married to one woman, and both are committed to that for life. Whether it is now the first marriage or the third or fourth or what, the prescription is the same, one man for one woman for life. Change your practice. Stop being unfaithful in marriage and start being faithful in marriage. Forgiveness of the past is available in the blood of Jesus.

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Divorce And Remarriage – “The Evils Of Forbidding Marriage”

This article is part 4 of 9 in the series Divorce and Remarriage

(We are grateful for this material by Olan Hicks, provided here with permission.)

   1 Timothy 4:1-3  One of the strongest condemnations found anywhere in scripture is here in what this passage says about the doctrine of forbidding marriage. Please note that it comes from God. This is not a personal opinion on my part. The inspired apostle Paul says here that the Spirit ( Spirit of God) expressly predicted that in latter times some brethren would do five things. 1. depart from the faith, 2. give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 3. speak lies in hypocrisy, 4. have a seared conscience, and 5. forbid people to marry and command to abstain from foods. This is strong language. Yet most people have never realized how evil this particular doctrine is. Consider now the evil deeds this text says are done by people who forbid marriage.

   1. First it says they “depart from the faith.” This is to turn from what God’s word says. When they say that divorced people cannot be married again they do this. I don’t say it is intentional but the first mistake in today’s version of this departure is to revise the statement of Jesus in Mat. 19:6. They depart from it. Whereas Jesus said, “What God has joined together let not man put asunder,” these brethren say, “What God has joined together man cannot put asunder.” Thus they conclude that divorced persons are still married “in the eyes of God.” The command “Do not” is changed to “cannot,” and becomes a declaration of impossibility. Upon that step a pyramid of error is built which ends up literally departing from the faith, the Biblical concept, on this whole subject.  It ends up denying virtually every passage on the subject throughout the New Testament.

   2. The second thing it says they do is they “Give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” Are demons involved in this? How is Satan behind this? Why would he want marriage eliminated from anyone’s life? In 1 Corintians 7 Paul said three times in the first 9 verses that marriage is God’s appointed way for us to avoid sexual immorality. Satan does not want that avoided, he wants it practiced. Of course then, since marriage is a deterrent to immorality, Satan wants it deleted. Thus two opposite sides are in this picture. God is for marriage and against divorce and Satan is for divorce and against Marriage. Those who try to eliminate marriage from someone’s life are on Satan’s side on that part of this equation.

   3. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy.” For a long time I wondered why the Spirit said this. Where is the hypocrisy in the “marriage forbidden” doctrine? If you notice what they write or hear them preach, you will find that every article and every sermon is a tirade about how wrong it is to divorce, as though that were the issue of difference between us. It is not. There is no question it is wrong to break marriage. They pretend to be opposing divorce when the fact is they oppose marriage itself and not divorce at all. A person might be divorced, completely without cause, and upon repentance, he will be acceptable to them while he remains divorced. But if he marries, then he will be disfellowshiped. So it is not divorce that they oppose actually, but marriage itself. Thus it is a pretense. This may be where the hypocrisy is.

   4. “Having their conscience seared as with a hot iron.” I have also wondered about this. Where does a seared conscience fit in the picture of marriage forbidders? Most of them I have talked with seem to have little or no feeling for the cruelty that the marriage forbidden decree imposes. I have seen them sentence young boys 20 to 25 years of age, to life long celibacy and seem not to mind doing that at all. When the disciples suggested “It is better not to marry” Jesus said, “Not all can receive that saying,” Mat. 19:11. Paul said the same thing, that some have the gift of celibacy and some do not. For those who do not he said, “Let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Cor. 7:8-9) Surely anyone who can give some thought to the fact that eliminating marriage is setting aside our defense against immorality, and to the fact that doing so places a normal person in a condition of burning, and yet can exert force to demand this of a fellow human being, must have a non-working conscience.

   5. “Forbidding to marry.” At the creation God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helpmeet for him.” (Gen. 2:18) It is remarkable that men could come along thousands of years later and issue an opposite decree, “forbidding to marry.” That command is purely a human assumption. God not only did not give it, He decreed the opposite. Men have tried all sorts of maneuverings to try to make God say this but He didn’t. They site Ezra 10. But those people were only forbidden to marry heathen wives. They were not forbidden to marry anyone at all. They site Herod’s case with Herodious. But he was only forbidden to have his brother’s wife. He was not  told he could have no wife at all. No one in scripture was ever told that he was “ineligible to marry.” It is as Foy Wallace Jr. said, Jesus did not prescribe that sentence as the punishment for marriage breaking and preachers who do so are ascending the judge’s bench. (Sermon on the Mount and the Civil State, pg. 41-42)

   Opposing divorce is right. God said He hates that. But to make divorce a second unpardonable sin with life long celibacy as the punishment is from human tradition, not divine tradition. It is a more evil thing than most folks realize, even though those who do it usually mean well. When you think about the fact that it is first a departure from the faith, that is bad enough in itself.  And second, the Bible says it is a doctrine authored by Satan. It serves his purposes. How can that be acceptable? Thirdly it is imbedded in an attitude of hypocrisy, pretending to be what you aren’t. And beyond that it takes a person of unfeeling conscience to swallow it, and fifthly it is opposite to what God decreed from the very first.

   Let’s continue to follow the Biblical instructions to oppose all sin, including marriage breaking. But let’s not oppose an appointment of God in the process. let’s apply the teachings of the Bible to the handling of every sin, including this one. Remember Satan can make something that is very wrong appear to be very right.

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Divorce And Remarriage – “Adultery Defined”

This article is part 3 of 9 in the series Divorce and Remarriage

(We are grateful for this material by Olan Hicks, provided here with permission.)

   Origin of the word: The English language did not have this word until the 16th century. Its Latin root was first put into the Bible text in the 4th century. When Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, called the Vulgate version, he used the Latin word “adulterium” to translate the Greek word “moichatai” in the divorce passages. There is no etymology connecting these two words. They do not mean the same.

   Our English dictionary, in defiing the word “adultery,” says first that it is derived from the Latin word “adulterium,” which, it says, means “to adulterate.” It then defines “adulterate” as meaning “to corrupt, falsify, or add  extraneous ingredients.” Then, without explaining why, it gives as the number one definition, “To have unlawful sexual intercourse with the spouse of another.” If the word “adultery” comes from a word that means “to falsify or corrupt,” from whence comes the sexual definition? No explanation is given and no etymology is cited. The Greek lexicons do the same. They take the sexual definition and feed it back into a definition of the Greek word “moichatai,” while giving no etymology.

   The word enters the English language. No form of this word was in English translations of scripture until the Geneva Bible in 1570. Two English translations before the Geneva Bible were made by Wycliffe (1384) and Tyndale in 1535. Both ignored Jerome’s rendering and translated “moichatai” as “breaketh wedlock.” Although Wycliffe translated  from the Vulgate version he did not accept “adulterium” nor its cognates as a rendering of “moichatai.” Tyndale worked directly from the Greek text. He also saw “moichatai,” as it applies to marriage, as meaning to break wedlock.

   Apparent bias. Jerome was a Catholic theologian. Putting this word in the text accommodated Catholic theology. It placed into the Bible an element of support for their “sacrament” theory of marriage. Catholic theology and the Vulgate version strongly influenced developments that occurred in following centuries. The vulgate version became the standard Bible used in the Catholic Church. In the middle of the 16th century the Council of Trent pronounced it “authentic,” the official Bible to be used in all liturgical activities of the church. The English Church was an outgrowth of Catholicism and it retained many of the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Considering the word “adultery” as meaning a sex act gives support to the Catholic idea that the church is the determiner of who is eligible to marry and who is not.

   The Geneva Bible translators were from England. They made their translation in 1560 and presented it to the queen in 1570. They brought the word “adulterium” over from the Vulgate version and coined the word “adultery” for their translation. This created a new word and for the first time the sexual idea was put into an English Bible as a translation of “moichatai” in the divorce passages. 41 years later (1611) the King James version, also made in England, placed the word “adultery” in these passages. Virtually all translations since that time have continued to follow that course.

   To find out the real meaning of the Greek word in the text one has to check out its usage in the Bible. Doing that reveals a lot. We find that this word is applied to a number of different kinds of action. In the divorce passages (Mat. 19:9, luke 16:18 etc.) it refers to two acts of unfaithfulness, neither of which is a sex act, putting away a faithful wife and marrying another. In several passages it refers to idolatry. (Jeremiah 3:8, Vs. 9 “with stones and trees”). Thayer cites Revelation 2:22 as a case in which a form of this word refers to those who “at a woman’s solicitation are drawn away to idolatry.” He also recognizes one of its meanings as “to falsify, to corrupt,” which agrees with the dictionary definition of “adulterate.” He even says one of its meanings is “to usurp unlawful control over the sea.” (Lexicon, pg.417) In James 4:4 it is applied to “friendship with the world.” In Mat. 12:39 it is applied to seeking after a sign.

   One thing is consistently there. These are a variety of different acts but one ingredient is common to them all, unfaithfulness or betrayal. In Malachi 2:14 God said that He had been a “witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously.” At verse 16 He said that what the Lord hates is “putting away.” Jesus applied the same idea in Mark 10:11, “Whoever puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery (moichatai) against her.” So betrayal or unfaithfulness is its basic meaning. It can be committed in different ways but the definition of the word is unfaithulness, whether against God or against a mate, or anyone to whom we owe commitment. To restrict its meaning to one kind of action, such as a sex act, or idolatry, is wrong and gives support to some of man’s worst errors.

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