Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What is Happening in the Nations?

Dr. Couch, where are we today, with what is happening in the nations of the world?

ANSWER:  We are into the rebellion of the nations, the hardness of heart, and the rejection of Christ as the Savior of the world! Isaiah said it well. God has to bring upon the planet judgment in order to cause the peoples of the earth to listen to Him. He said "When the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9b).

   But the world can grow extremely hardened in its reaction to punishment. The next is not a contradiction but it does lay down a truth that we need to look carefully at. "Though the wicked are shown favor, the wicked man does not learn righteousness; instead he deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, and does not perceive the majesty of the Lord" (v. 10).

   Only the punishment of the seven year tribulation will awaken the world to its awful sinfulness. We are getting closer to that day! But the believers in Christ need not fear. The church will be taken out of here before that terrible time arrives. Paul writes that the Thessalonians turned to God from their idols:

   "to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:9b-10).

   I read the other day from some "big" Bible teacher that the only place the rapture is mentioned is in 4:13-18. How foolish and blinded such a teacher can be! And he is only fooling himself and those who look to him as one who explains God's Word! These verses in chapter one give us the same scenario of the blessing that is coming to the believer in Christ. God will remove His Own from the earth before that terrible seven year tribulation comes upon the earth. What a glorious Day!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moses Strikes the Rock

Dr. Couch, how do we reconcile the fact that there seems to be a conflict in narration between Moses simply striking the rock in the desert (Exod. 17:6) and in anger striking the rock twice in Numbers 20:8-13. Is there a conflict?

ANSWER: No, because by careful observation, and context, we see that there are actually two different occasions, or two different stories. This is agreed upon by the best of commentators, such as Ellicott and by the orthodox Jewish Rabbis. You have to look carefully to spot the distinction.

   In Exodus 17 we find the people with Moses at Rephidim (v. 1). There they "quarreled with Moses" (v. 2) and "grumbled" (v. 3). In the other story in Numbers 20:7-13, they are called "rebels" (v. 10); this was not mentioned in the Exodus 17 story. The place in Exodus where Moses struck the rock is called "Massah" ("to test") and also "Meribah" or the "place of quarreling" (v. 7).

   In the Numbers 20 story the place is identified as the waters of "Meribah" ("quarreling") and Kadesh. Or there, it is identified as "Meribah-Kadesh." This is not what it is called in Exodus.

   In Numbers 20:10 "rebels" is the Hebrew word "marim". It carries the idea of being "fools" or even in some places "teachers." The Rabbis note that to render the word as "teachers" carries the idea: "You have presumed to teach your teachers," or "You imagine yourselves to be wiser than your leaders."  The Rabbis point out:

   "In that moment of irritation and gloom, Moses gives expression to doubt in front of the masses of the people as to the fulfillment of God's promise."

   More differences:

   In Exodus 17 we note that the people were moving about the wilderness "by stages" and they had camped at Rephidim (v. 1). Moses was to strike the rock as he had struck the Nile in Egypt (17:5; 7:20). Moses did what God commanded and struck the rock "in the sight of the elders of Israel" (v. 6).

   In the Numbers 20 story the entire congregation was gathered to see Moses strike the rock, not just the elders were gathered to see this happen (Num. 20:8-10), as mentioned in Exodus 17:5.

   In Exodus 17 God said He would be with Moses before the elders. In Numbers 20 Moses (with Aaron) said "we [shall] bring forth water for you out of this rock" not simply God (v. 10). In Exodus 17:6 God said Moses was to strike the rock just once, which he does. In Numbers 20:11 Moses strikes the rock twice. Thus, the passage said, Moses "did not believe" God nor treat Him "holy in the sight of the sons of Israel" (v. 12a), therefore, he would not bring the assembly "into the land which I have given them" (v. 12b).

   In the first story, in Exodus, the people are camped at Rephidim (17:1), but in Numbers 20 they are near Kadesh (v. 14).

   The differences in the two stories are striking. And remember too, the people are moving around in the land, almost circling, and traveling by stages. It is certainly credible that they would need water from time to time (when there was none to find), and come to different rocks, or locations, when they were thirsty. 

   By the way, Kadesh was about 200 miles or more north of Rephidim. This clearly shows we have two different stories going on here.

   The rock of course is a type of Christ as Paul mentions (1 Cor. 10:4-6). The people were drinking from a "spiritual rock" which was Christ (v. 4). Nevertheless, "God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness" (v. 5), and those things happened "that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved" (v. 6).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Losing Your Salvation

Dr. Couch, is Luke 8:9-13 about loss of salvation?

ANSWER;  It is about salvation but specifically, about the Jews believing in regard to the coming of the Kingdom of God. This is not the church. That is the millennial Kingdom where the Messiah will reign and rule. There is a "belief" that is not a saving belief. It is a form of acquiescence where one agrees but that belief is not from the heart. It may be an intellectual belief that does not go all the way to personal acceptance of Christ for salvation.

   When Christ speaks about the "mystery of the kingdom," He's referring to that which is about the Kingdom not before revealed in the OT. It is a quality belief, a deeper belief than the Jews had ever exercised. Notice how easy it is for the devil to remove the word from their heart (v. 12), "so that they may not believe and be saved." These Jews were not justified. They agreed to a certain extent but then backed off from their belief. It seems to have been so easy for them to do! The truth did not take root. It was a surface hearing that did not catch hold.

    Their hearts were like rocky soil, they believed for a while (though only in a certain way) but then when temptation came, "they fell away" (v. 13). I think the most important issue is that they were not justified. Nor did they really see, hear, and then truly understand (v. 10). People can agree to something but never apply it directly for themselves. This then is not a loss of salvation. They never truly embraced salvation. They only went so far and then backed off from actually accepting the offer of salvation.

   When I was twelve I made a certain kind of confession but it was not real. It was only when I was sixteen that I actually believed in Christ in a very personal sense. And that was genuine!

   I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10) 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Four Kingdoms Book Recommendations

Dr. Couch, what is a good book that deals in some detail with the four kingdoms mentioned in the prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel?

ANSWER:  For a meaningful overview you need my book, dealing with two subjects: the New Covenant and the coming reign of Christ in His kingdom. In it I deal with the "five" kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Messianic Kingdom of Christ that the world is waiting for. While the treatment is not exhaustive it is still sufficient for getting an important look at the prophecy of the important nations of the world, and God's sovereignty with the nations.

  Almost all my books are going to be featured on Dr. Ed Hindson's national TV program "The King Is Coming!"

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Songs with Bad Theology or Repetitions

Dr. Couch, do you think the Lord is pleased with Christians singing songs with bad theology or mindless repetitions?

ANSWER:  Of course not. But we are all limited in our perceptions and understanding about things. And we all make mistakes. Someone has well said, God will not judge us for our mistakes but He will judge us for our sins. None of us see 20/20 in our spiritual vision. God is an understanding heavenly Father. He knows for better than we what our limitations are.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6/10)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

God's Sovereignty and the Curse

Dr. Couch, if God is sovereign why does He allow imperfections, deformities, and retardations to take place? Why does He allow the world to go on, and does not correct our bodies in this life?

ANSWER:  The apostle Paul writes: "Creation has been subjected to futility; not of its own will, but because of Him (God) who subjects it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of children until now. ... We groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:20-23).

   This is a sinful, cursed universe. It is cursed because of sin and the fall of the human race. God is letting the world run its course, going all the way to destruction so that He can re-create a new and perfect order. When the new heaven and the new earth comes about God "shall wipe away every tear from [men's] eyes; and there shall no longer by any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things will have passed away" (Rev. 21:4). We are getting closer and hope that God will soon change all things to conform to His new and perfect universe!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6/10)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Did the Roman Empire Cover the Whole Earth?

Dr. Couch, in Luke 2:1 the passage says that Caesar Augustus had a census taken "of all the inhabited earth." Did the Roman Empire cover the whole earth?

ANSWER:  No, this is a figure of speech, an expression used to describe the world dominated by the Roman Empire. The Bible is full of figures of speech, expressions that are exaggerations. We do the same today, use extremes that all understand are simply figures of speech. With all that is happening on the globe today we might say "The whole world has gone mad!" We really do not mean every square inch of the planet. This becomes an extreme to make a point. The Bible does the same, and people in that day did the same as well.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6/10)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Which Mountain and Sea is Jesus Talking About?

Dr. Couch, when Jesus said in Mark 11:23 that whoever tells the mountain to be taken up and cast into the sea, is He referring to the Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea?

ANSWER:  Both the Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea were visible from where He was speaking. Remember, He is using exaggeration as we would even today. He was speaking in an extreme illustration in order to get a point across. Christ is speaking about doubt in the heart. He wants people to believe that they can indeed "Have faith in God" (v. 22). The individual can "believe that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him" (v. 23b).

   With common sense (and this is a key principle in Bible interpretation), one would know that the Lord is speaking about the extent of trust one should have with the things of God. He is really talking about spiritual issues not physical issues that are overblown. To see spiritual things happen is far more important than seeing simply physical things come to pass. And it takes a lot of spiritual trust to believe that God can change the hearts of people. Jesus went on: "I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you" (v. 24).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6/10)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spiritual Kingdom

Dr. Couch, Paul says that God has delivered us out of this present evil age because of what Christ did on the cross (Gal. 1:4)? Does this mean that we could currently be living in this way? And, are we living in a spiritual kingdom now?

ANSWER:  "To deliver" is an Aorist Middle Subjunctive in the Greek. The Greek Lexicon says it could read: He "Himself might take [us] away out of a place, that is, out of this evil age." "He Himself might remove, deliver us out of this evil age." Paul is speaking about the influence of this evil age on us now, today. This is happening "according to the will of our God and Father."

   I wrote in my Galatians commentary with Dr. John Witmer, "There is a past benefit with Christ's death. He took the judgment that was placed on all humanity. He also died that believers might be presently liberated from the power and clutch [the influence] of sin. But eternal salvation also awaits believers after death." The Greek word used here for "age" is "aion." Each period of history is a specific age that we are walking through in time.

   We know we are not now in the physical and literal messianic earthly kingdom. The church is not that Jewish, Davidic kingdom over which Christ will someday rule for one thousand years. Paul says that we are on our way to that kingdom. Though the Jews are the key earthly people, the church will be there co-ruling with the Lord and enjoying His worldwide reign. Therefore Paul writes that "He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13). "Delivered" is an Aorist Tense of "ruomai" which should be translated "to cause us to escape, to be rescue, to be delivered." This again carries the idea of "to be influenced by." We still see the workings of "the domain of darkness" all around us! And yet we are headed for His earthly kingdom that has not yet arrived.

   In my commentary series on Colossians, Gromacki points out that this "transfer" is like taking people from one country to another. In terms of influence we have been transferred from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of Christ, that is, its influence on us, as to where we are headed—someday into Christ's earthly domain!

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch  (6-10)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Adopted, Heir, Justified, and Regenerated

Dr. Couch, what is the relationship between being adopted, made an heir, and being justified or regenerated?

ANSWER:  Good question. The issue of becoming an heir is found in many passages of Scripture. The word is two words put together = "Legally called, or, designated." "klaro=called, nomos=law, legally." "To be legally designated."

   Paul writes "If our inheritance be of the law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise" (Gal. 3:18). The inheritance has to do with salvation, and redemption. Paul adds, 'God gave us a pledge of our "inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:14). And, "from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance ..." (Col. 3:24).' The inheritance is eternal (Heb. 9:15) and it is incorruptible (1 Pet. 1:4).

   The word "adoption" ties into the idea of an inheritance. The word is used only five times in the NT. The word is a combination of two words, Son + placement. Or, "to be designated or placed as a son" (whyo [son] + thesia [placement]). "To have all the rights and privileges as a son."

   An adopted child has all the rights and privileges as a son. In ancient days, even as today, there were a lot of illegitimate children, or slave children, but they could be adopted and given all the rights and blessings of a child naturally born into the family. So with us, we are adopted into the family of God and given all the privileges of a natural born child.

   Paul says we have received "the Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Rom. 8:15). Or, "Daddy Father!" The apostle then ties it all together in the two verses that follow:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (vv. 16-17).

   This adoption then makes us "children by Jesus Christ to Himself" (Eph. 1:5). "Legal adoption, heirship, justification and regeneration" all tie together in the verses we've looked at. What a blessing given to us by the process of salvation that comes to us through the Lord Jesus!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Abundant Life

Dr. Couch, Christ speaks of an abundant life in John 10:10. How could that be because of all the persecution Christians have had through the centuries?

ANSWER:  The last part of the verse reads: "Might be having life and [might] be having [it] extraordinarily (surpassingly, un-commonly, pre-eminently, over and above, beyond measure). The Greek word is "perissos." Christ is not talking about a quality of physical life. He is addressing the issue of a deeper spiritual life and walk with the Lord. One can be under persecution and even die with peace on one's lips, truly having a deep relationship with Him. In the Christian life there should be peace and contentment, and joy! This is not measured the way people measure the physical walk in this life. This is about a quality of life that the world can never imagine.

   The world thinks it is having a good life if there is just happiness or lack of fear. But God goes beyond that. Paul and Silas were singing in a dungeon. How could they do that except by the fact that they knew the God who created them (Acts 16:25)? The text says they were thrown into the inner part of the prison with "their feet fastened in the stocks" (v. 24). They were "singing hymns of praise to God."

   This would be called "the peace that passes understanding".

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Second Coming

Dr. Couch, I heard you say that the idea of Christ's Second Coming was in the Bible. Can you give me again that passage?

ANSWER:  The passage is Hebrews 9:28. There the author of Hebrews writes "So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."

   His first coming was in reference to sin. He went to the cross for sinners. "Shall appear a second time" is almost the same wording as "Second Coming!" Christ's second coming is a salvation but it has to do with being rescued from the persecution of the world. We find this idea in Luke 1:68-72. The idea there is about Christ bringing a salvation, a redemption "for His people" that is a salvation "from our enemies." The second coming is Christ redeeming Israel from her enemies in the world. But His first coming is: "To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins" (Luke 1:77). The two comings are clearly shown here in Luke and prophesied by the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias.

   The Amil guys need to weep and cry. Boy, talking about the Amil guys having bad theology! Part of their problem is they just don't study their Bible!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is the Events of Gog and Magog Soon?

Dr. Couch, I understand that recently the Jewish orthodox Rabbis made a public statement that we are extremely close to the events of Gog and Magog as described in Ezekiel 38-39. Do you believe the same?

ANSWER:  Absolutely! I believe we are now going rapidly into the (1) apostasy of the Church, (2) apostasy of the culture, (3) which leaves the rapture of the church coming soon! (4) Next will come the seven year tribulation, followed by (5) the coming reign of Christ on earth!

   Gog and Magog could take place before the rapture or just after the rapture and at the beginning of the seven year tribulation. All scholars, both liberal and conservative, admit the events of Gog and Magog have never happened yet in history. They are waiting to come about! Just a few days ago the Rabbinical Council of Judea issued a statement that the Jews could be at what the Bible describes as "the beginning of the Gog and Magog process where the world is against us, but which ends with the third and final redemption."

   They went on and said "There is a growing interest in the Ezekiel prophecies and whether they could play out in our lifetime, it may be too early to say." Also, "the passage is clearly speaking of Turkey, and a Russian-Iranian alliance against the Jewish state."

   The collapse of the world, economically, socially, and morally, is happening more rapidly than we can think. The world will never be the same. Now is the time for evangelism and for teaching the Word of God to believers and to unbelievers. We should not be discouraged. What we have always taught is now at our doorsteps. "Look up! Our redemption draws near!"

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Couch (6-10)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Who are the Kings of the East?

Dr. Couch, during the tribulation the book of Revelation mentions the invasion of the "kings of the East" into the Middle East. Could this be the Chinese?

ANSWER:  It could be the Arabic peoples from the region of Saudi Arabia or beyond, and it could also be the Chinese. Many forget that less than 100 years ago, China was divided up into kingdoms that were fairly independent, with some being extremely large. We read: "When the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east" (Rev. 16:12).

   The reason I believe it could be the Chinese is because the Arabs are involved with Gog and Magog in the war against Israel. This would leave the "Far Eastern" people, the Chinese, for this battle that is one of the last ones. Since I wrote my Handbook of Revelation the Chinese have come on the stage of historical events at a rapid rate, far faster than I or anyone else could have imagined. Things are changing so fast that it is difficult to keep up with it!

   By the way, the kings of the east could be the Japanese. The Greek text in verse 12 actually reads: "the way of the kings who were from the rising of the sun might be prepared." The full orbed sun is put on the Japanese flag! And through the centuries, they have been the most dominate of peoples in the Far East! Robert Thomas adds: "This bowl looks to the future and the last conflict of world empires against God and His Messianic people (Joel 3:2; Zeph. 3:8)."

   I believe we could be closer to the end-time events than we could have possibly thought just a few years ago. We are moving deeper and deeper into the apostasy of the church and of the culture than could have been guessed. The rapture of the church is very near!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

John 20:22-23

Dr. Couch, what is going on in John 20:22-23? Can you help?

ANSWER:  The passage reads: Christ "breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.'"

   This passage has two parts. (1) The breathing on them of the Holy Spirit. "Receive" is an Aorist Active Imperative (or command). It is the common Greek word "lambano." No time frame is given in the verse. I take it that it is speaking about the future, at Pentecost, when the Spirit will enter the believers as prophesied. However these men, the disciples, will indeed have a distinct ministry above and beyond what the average layman will have. The disciples are called to be the leaders of the church. What they do and say will have special implications.

   There are many places in the Bible where something is said that sounds like it is going to take place right then, at that moment, but in reality, it has to do with something that will happen at some point in the future. I think that is the case here. We have no indication that right then, at that time, they got the Holy Spirit, though we know they did in Acts 2. Christ said to His disciples just before His ascension: "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (v. 5).

   The word "received" ("lambano") along with the Holy Spirit, is used eight times in the NT. This would indicate that my view is correct.

   Then there is the issue of (2) The forgiveness of sins by the disciples (v. 23). The verse ties into Matthew 16:16-20. Peter was given the authority to judge the sins of Israel in this Matthew passage. It is too extensive to deal with this issue here but to simply say, that in the John 20 passage the disciples had to a limited degree the ability to judge as well as Peter. When it says "the sins have been forgive" (v. 23) it is stated so with a Perfect Tense, which means that this forgiveness was already accomplished in the past by the Lord, but simply brought forward by the disciples. In the NAS it is translated correctly: "The sins HAVE BEEN (in the past) forgiven."

   I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spirit-Driven Miracles

Dr. Couch, do the Spirit-driven miracles that are mentioned in Joel 2:26-32, and repeated in Acts 2:17-21, take place at that time in Acts, or do they only come about as Israel enters the Kingdom, when the Spirit is poured forth upon the Jewish people at that time?

ANSWER:  You are speaking about the fact that God's Spirit will come "upon all mankind" (Acts 2:17) and about the Jewish sons and daughters giving prophecies, seeing visions, and dreaming dreams (vv. 17-18). Though dreams and visions are not mentioned as coming to pass in Acts, except here in this passage, this does not mean that they did not take place in the early church. I believe that these prophetic happenings took place in the early church because the Spirit is poured out with the initiation of the New covenant—the proof of which is the fact that the Spirit has come upon the believers.

   I argue that Christ ratified the New covenant by His death (Luke 22:20), it was launched here in Acts 2, the church presently benefits by it, but the New covenant will not be fulfilled until it comes upon the Jewish people in the Kingdom. The two proofs of the New covenant having been launched is: (1) permanent forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:31-34), and (2) the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in Ezekiel 36-37, and referred to in Joel 2.

   We find the Holy Spirit working in church believers with prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12-14. But again, we are not fulfilling the New covenant but only benefiting by it. It is mainly for the Jewish people, when they turn to their Messiah in the Kingdom!

   A very important point is made in Acts 2:17: "I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind." Peter is quoting Joel 2:28. Some try to argue that "mankind" is about the nation of Israel but this is not the case. In the Hebrew of Joel 2:28 "mankind" is the Hebrew words "Al Cal Basar." Or, "Upon all flesh." This is never used only of the Jews but of the Gentiles too. The Greek of Acts 2:28 is "pasan sarka." Again, "all flesh."

   This was what was happening in Acts 2 when the Spirit was poured forth. He came upon Jews but also Gentiles. Remember the people there at Pentecost were both Jews and Gentile proselytes who were believing in the God of the OT (v. 10).

   Acts 2:16 is most important. In the Greek text it reads: "But this is that which was spoken through (by means of) the prophet Joel ..." The "To be" verb "estin" is in the verse. And the "To be" verb is equal grammatically on both sides. "This is exactly that which was spoken ..." In almost all languages the Nominative case is on both sides of the "to be" verb. Or, "This is the same thing as that ..." "That which was spoken" is the Perfect Passive Participle, Nominative, Neuter. Thus, "That which was spoken of in the past, with the action coming up to the present ..." Or, "What was said back in Joel 2 is now coming up to the present ..."

   Conclusion: "What Joel said is now coming about. And we're all seeing it here at Pentecost!"

   I hope this helps. Thanks for asking. If you would like more on the importance of the New covenant, you may want my book that deals with that covenant but also with the coming Messianic Kingdom of Christ: "The New Covenant."

   Dr. Mal Couch (6-10)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Baptism for the Dead

Dr. Couch, what is the baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29?

ANSWER:  Good question and an issue that has stumped many through the years. There are three views: (1) People are substituted for those who have been previously baptized. (2) This is a vicarious baptism, like Mormonism. You can save uncle Bill be being baptized for him. (3) To be baptized for the dead is clarified by the expression "For the dead," using the preposition "uper" which can be translated with the idea "of in place of those who have been baptized but then died and went to heaven." In other words, other believers are coming along after those who have gone before.

   The Mormon-like baptism is not found in any other teaching, or place, in the NT. It does not make sense for Paul to introduce some doctrine that has never before been mentioned in any place in the Bible. His audience must have understood what he was writing about, the problem is that we just don't!

   The best way to understand this is that through the centuries many people have trusted Christ and then were baptized. They have died and gone on to glory. We are another generation that has followed, and we believed and then were baptized, replacing them as the church goes forward.

   On a Mormon-like baptism, some modern commentators say that by the second century there were some being so baptized. But, Mitchell in his commentary points out, "One searches in vain for any independent historical or biblical parallel to the practice of baptisms for the dead. There was nothing like this among the Greeks and Romans. "It is extremely doubtful that the apostle would have made reference to this heretical practice without condemning it in the same breath."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  (6/10)