Monday, August 30, 2010

The Lord's Approval or People's Approval?

Dr. Couch, what did Paul mean when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:19, "They which are approved may be made manifest among you." Does "approve" refer to our Lord's approval or to people's approval?

ANSWER:  Good question. It has to do with the fact that they are approved of by the Lord. The first of the verse says "For there must be heresies among you." When we face heretical teaching, we are strengthened by God. The church then is put on trial, tested. In his commentary, Charles Hodge says:

     "It is that they which are approved, the tried, those who have stood the test, and are worthy of approbation. By the prevalence of disorders and other evils in the church, God puts His people to the test. They are tried as gold in the furnace, and their genuineness is made to appear. It is a great consolation to know that dissensions ... are ordered by the providence of God, and are designed, as storms, for the purpose of purification" of the believer.

   God knows what He is doing with us!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Maranatha and Anathema

Dr. Couch, what do the words Maranatha and Anathema mean?

ANSWER:  The word "marantha" can mean either "Our Lord has come!" or "Lord come!" In the lexicons we are told that it is difficult to determine which meaning is correct. The word is used only in 1 Corinthians 16:22. Since it is at the end of the book, it would be assumed that this is a wish, "May our Lord come!" Actually, a wish idea follows in the next verse (v. 23). "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!" This is used in the Didache 10:6: "Let grace come and may this world pass away! Hosanna to the God (v. 1 son) of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if not, let him repent! Amen."

   Anathema and its verb is used eleven times in the NT. It means "to curse," or "accursed." Generally, it is for false doctrine that Paul pronounces a curse. This tells us how important truth was in the early church. No one was allowed to fudge with proper doctrine.

   In his 1 Corinthian commentary, Hodge says: "This is a solemn warning. The Lord, whom men refuse to recognize and love, is about to come in the glory of His Father and with all His holy angels to take vengeance on those who know not God, and who obey not the gospel."

   Interestingly, both words are used together in 1 Corinthians 16:22.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

God's Sovereignty and Satan

Dr. Couch, how can God be sovereign and Satan be "the god of this world" as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 4:4?

ANSWER:  Both are truths that cannot be reconciled. They form a paradox. The English word paradox comes from two words: para=alongside, and dox= or doxology, or teaching. That Satan is the god of this world and God is still sovereign are two parallel truths that do not "meet," they are truths that run alongside of each other. One does not cancel out the other. For example, God can send a deluding spirit to those who are evil that they may be judged (2 Thess. 2:11-12) and look carefully at Revelation 17:17: "God has put (rebellion) in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled."

   My question: "Who is in charge?" And, "Who do we think we are?" Sin and evil is real and powerful but God is still sovereign and in full control over all creatures and over all of His universe!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Audience of 1 Peter

Dr. Couch, to whom is the book of 1 Peter written? Some say it is written to the Gentiles though the first verse says "to the alien scattered."

ANSWER:  The book is clearly written to the Jewish "diaspora," that is the Greek of the word "scattered." The word "alien" means "the strangers." This is how the Jews were described who were driven out of Israel. In the case of verse 1, it is speaking about the Jewish believers who were part of the diaspora. The word diaspora is two words: dia=through, thoroughly, and spora=seed. "To scatter the seed" is the way it described the scattered Jews.

   2:12 also proves that Peter is writing to the scattered believing Jews. The verse reads: "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles," proving that Peter's audience is not Gentile but Jewish. The answer to your question is really simple. I don't know how anyone came up with the idea that the audience was Gentiles!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kingdom of God is Here Now

Dr. Couch, since Jesus was casting out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit, does this not prove that the kingdom of God is here now, according to Matthew 12:28?

ANSWER:  The verse reads: "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you [the Jews]."

   First of all, this has to do with the Jews and not the church. We do not call the kingdom of God the church!

   The kingdom of God, and/or the kingdom of heaven is about the earthly, historic, literal, messianic kingdom promised to Israel. That kingdom has to do with (1) the occupation of the Holy Land, (2) the personal reign of the Messiah in Jerusalem, and (3) the New covenant and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Jewish people, who are in that earthly kingdom. Is that going on right now? No.

   While the New covenant has been (1) ratified by Christ's death, (2) launched at Pentecost, and (3) now is benefiting the Gentile and Jewish church believers, it is only one element of the kingdom. And, it also must be benefiting the Jews in the Holy Land, when that Land is restored and ruled over by Christ. None of those things is happening presently.

   The kingdom was indeed presented when Christ the king was present. But that does not mean that the kingdom was put into place and is now here, as it is described above.

   John the Baptist, and Christ, proclaimed "The kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt. 10:7) (Along with many other references). The verb "is at hand" is the key to understand what is happening. It is the Greek word agizo in the Perfect Tense. The Perfect tense means that the action starts in the past and comes up to the present but this does not imply that the action has been fulfilled. It could be translated "The kingdom of heaven has come up to the present moment but is not necessarily being fulfilled." The word is defined "to come near, to be close by, to be brought near." The kingdom was near because the king was there! But the kingdom did not materialize.

   This is what Christ has in mind in Matthew 12:28. The missing ingredient is that the Jews did not repent, in terms of the majority of the nation, they did not accept and embrace their king. Thus, the kingdom was postponed, though it was nearby; therefore it is yet future.

   The church is not the kingdom and the kingdom is not the church.
   In Matthew 12:28 the "has come near" is the Greek verb "phthano" in the Aorist Tense. The word means, according to Toussaint in his Matthew commentary, "to come or to arrive." He further says "In view of the evident rejection of the King, the kingdom could not now be said to be in the condition of remaining at hand. In fact the kingdom is never again preached as having drawn near."

   Matthew 12:28 does not indicate that the earthly kingdom had been established but simply that because the king was there so was the kingdom IN CHRIST! Hindson in his Matthew commentary notes "It must be noticed that the kingdom of God was already present in the person of the king—Christ Himself." But the millennial earthly reign was postponed because the Jews did not repent of their sins and in their accepting of Him.

   The well-known grammarians Balz & Schneider say on Matthew 12:28: "This did not constitute the commencement of the kingdom of God announced by Jesus as being near at hand (agizo, Matt. 10:7)." 

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Author of the Faith

Dr. Couch, what does it mean in Hebrews 12:2 when it calls Christ the Author of The Faith?

ANSWER:  This is a bad translation. This is why I took about 40 hours of graduate Greek in order to get it straight, as to what the Bible was saying. The NT IS Greek and without understanding the language we are out to lunch in trying to interpret the Word of God.

   The Greek word is "archagos." The word is better translated "leader." You can see the word Arch, or "top one, the highest one."

   The great grammarians Balz & Schneider have a lot to say about this word. "God exalted [Christ] at His right hand as Leader and Savior" (Acts 5:31). "The predication 'Leader and Savior' is plainly near to Heb. 2:10, 'pioneer of their salvation.'" "Heb. 2:10 has: 'Make the Leader who delivers them perfect through sufferings.'" "Jesus' function as Leader results from the cross and the resurrection from the dead (13:20)." "God effects faith in Jesus as the Leader."

   Ger adds: "Jesus is described here with two complementary designations. He is the "archegos," "the champion," "the leader," the pioneering source and heroic author of faith. This is a rare messianic title that is used by the author of Hebrews in 2:10 and 12:2 and only in additional two times in the New Testament in Acts (3:15; 5:31). ... His magnificent accomplishment, now serves as the very embodiment of faith itself."

   The writer of Hebrews seems to be pulling this name from Jeremiah 30:21. The NAS there calls the Messiah "the Leader." It is the Hebrew word Ay'Der. It sometimes is translated as Prince, or "Mighty, Splendid One." Jeremiah 30:21 reads: "And their Leader shall be one of them [the Jews in the restoration]."

   The word is used of God in Psalm 8:2. "O Lord, our Lord, How GLORIOUS is You Name in all the earth, who has displayed Your splendor above the heavens!" 

   The Hebrew word Ay'Der is related to other Hebrew words that are translated: "splendor, noble." The word can describe a splendid robe of a king!

   Thus, on Hebrews 12:2 we might say: "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Glorious Splendid Leader of THE FAITH, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame [of it], and has [now] sat down at the right hand of the throne of God," waiting for the Lord to subdue His enemies (Psa. 110:1-2).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Monday, August 23, 2010


Dr. Couch, what is hyper-dispensationalism?

ANSWER:  This is also called ultra-dispensationalism. Remember, there are always folks out there who are a little weird. They always gravitate to odd views, and that is the case of these people. I liken this to this example:

   There are people who go into the cafeteria and head straight for the food bar with all kinds of goodies. But then there are those who enter the cafeteria and go straight to the garbage can. You can't figure out why they want the garbage instead of the good stuff. I've always noted in the ministry there are those who can't think on a straight line. They are always led to that which is stupid or just not correct!

   To put it simply, the hyper folks hold that the church did not begin until Acts 9. This is because, they argue that Paul did not come on the scene until about that chapter. But it does not matter when Paul came on the scene. The church began in Acts 2, period!

   I had a fellow who held to that view and I took him to a bunch of verses. In 5 minutes he dropped his hyper-dispensationalism! He saw the light. By the way, he was a "fighting fundy" who was extremely "tight" in his Christianity. He had no joy, no happiness, he did not smile. Everything was just super serious to him. So it was expected that he would think weird! The Bible makes it clear, the church started earlier:

   The church is mentioned in 5:11; 8:1, 3. So the church was around before Acts 9.

   Don't listen to odd teachings.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hebrews and Unbelieving Jews

Dr. Couch, I have been following your arguments for sometime that Hebrews was not written to believing Jews who were giving up their faith in Christ. You have convinced me! I now see that the heart of the book was written to unbelieving Jews who came up to the edge of faith in Christ but then backed off and did not trust Him as Savior. Thank you for that insight!

ANSWER:  You and I are in good company. The great Kenneth Wuest, Greek scholar, and I hold to the position that the book was mainly written to unbelieving Jews but then turned over to the Christian community as a witnessing tool. Those who hold that it was written to believing Jews who were about to apostatize cannot point to one verse in Hebrews to support their view!

   I just discovered several weeks ago that the best lexicographers, Balz & Schnieder, hold to what I teach. They are now considered the best Greek grammarians around. They write that the word "apeitheo" which is translated in Hebrews as disobedient should, and could, be translated as "disbelief." They write that the word has to do with the rejection of Christian faith in Hebrews. "This equation of disobedience has to do with the lack of belief." "These Jews were unbelievers, Jews who had not become Christians." "The author of Hebrews is speaking of unbelievers." "They had a resistance against the revelation of God's salvation in the gospel." And "when it is said that the Jews have now been disobedient, nothing is being said other than that the Jews had not accepted the Christian faith."  End of discussion.

   One Jewish Christian writer says that Hebrews 10:26 is about loss of the physical life not the spiritual life. The passage reads: "For is we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."

   The Jewish Christian author writes: The Jewish Christians "were subject to the penalty of physical death. It will not be spiritual death but physical death."

   But he forgot to quote the verses that followed: "There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (v. 26) but a certain terrifying expectation of a judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries" (v. 27). (The adversaries are those who deny the gospel.)
   Verse 27 is about physical death?

   The "sinning willfully" is the rejection of Christ after these Jews had heard the gospel. They remained in their sins.

   The author of Hebrews shows how bad it was to reject the testimony of the Law (v. 28), but "How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant (the New covenant) by which he was sanctified and has insulted the Spirit of grace" (v. 29).

   Thus, the Jews who rejected Christ face the vengeance of God. See the next verse: "For we know Him, who said 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.' And again, 'the Lord will judge His people'" (v. 30). Verse 30 is not about physical judgment but spiritual judgment of the Jews who reject the New covenant of salvation in Christ!

   A lot of Bible teachers just quote others without critical and exegetical thinking first. It's okay to quote others but you must make sure your own hermeneutical principles are sound first!

   Thanks for writing.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Christ Went to Hell

Dr. Couch, I still hear there are teachers that argue Christ went to hell when He died. Where do they get this idea?

ANSWER:  Most use 1 Peter 3:19 that reads: Christ "also went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah ..." They say "the prison" was hell where the unsaved were confined.

   Some charismatics argue that He had to go to hell because He was a sinner and had to suffer there to placate God in order to rid us of our sins. Those who take this position or argue that the Lord was confined for a period in hell miss the context completely. "Made proclamation" is "karruso" and is the common word "to preach, proclaim."  He did this with those who were disobedient (or disbelieving) while the ark was being constructed by Noah. Check out the full context of the passage. So this is not a general statement that indicates Christ is somehow being judged or seen as a sinner in hell. The "prison" could be the place of waiting for the final stage of judgment for the lost. The Lord is not being confined there as if He is a sinner.

   By the way, "to proclaim" can mean "to herald," "to cry aloud." The Lord Jesus was making clear what the disobedient people in Noah's time had given up. Christ was telling them this.

   The "spirits in prison" have been interpreted as confined evil angels in relation to Genesis 6:1-4. I am glad to see the comments of William Baker in my Commentary series on 1 & 2 Peter. We agree that these spirits in prison are humans and not fallen angels.

   Baker writes what I hold to: He says "My opinion is that Genesis 6:1-4 is connected primarily with Genesis 5, which lists the genealogy of Adam and his descendants; thus, the reference to 'sons of God' and 'daughters of men' is to Adam's descendants." Baker goes on and writes: "Based on my interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, I reject the interpretation of 'spirits in prison' as angels and understand them to be human beings who were disobedient during the period of Noah's preaching."

   To conclude: Christ was sharing what was true with the generation that was rejecting the revelation of Noah, but this does not mean He was somehow "judged" or confined in hell, as some try to argue.

   It is good to see Bible scholars "think" and not just follow what they've heard others say!

   This 1 Peter passage is difficult but my interpretation, along with Baker's, is right and makes common sense. Do not go to the flamboyant and "way-out" interpretations, and don't simply quote what someone else has said.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is the Sermon on the Mount for Today?

Dr. Couch, is the Sermon on the Mount for the church today?

ANSWER:  In interpreting the Bible we have some important steps. There is (1) OBSERVATION – What does it say? (2) INTERPRETATION – What does it mean?, and (3) APPLICATION – (a) What does it mean to those to whom it is written? And, (b) What does it mean to us?

   There are tremendous spiritual principles in the Sermon that we can all appreciate and learn from but the Sermon is given first to the nation of Israel by her King, the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be brought before the Supreme Court and tried in 5:22? This is Jewish and it is the judgment of the Sanhedrin for those who defame others by calling them numb skull, brain damaged (RACA).

   What does it mean to be cast into the fiery hell (Gehenna, the burning garbage dump outside of Jerusalem) in verse 5:22? This too is extremely Jewish. It is not "church"!

   What does it mean in regard to bringing an offering to the altar in 5:24? What does it mean about not swearing by the city of Jerusalem which is "the city of the great King"? (5:35). What does it mean about "seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness"? (6:34). What does Jesus mean when He speaks about "the Law and the Prophets"? (7:12).

   Now do you want to ask again if the first application of the Sermon on the Mount is for the church today? We can learn a lot from secondary application for us today but not from first application (which is for the Jews). 

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Palestinian Covenant

Dr. Couch, why do we call the Land covenant the Palestinian Covenant? Is this not a pagan name given to the land promised to Abraham, and to his children forever?

ANSWER:  Yes, God said to Abraham in the Abrahamic covenant, "Go forth from your country ... to the land which I will show you" (Gen. 12:1). From this, comes what we call the "sub-covenant" or the Land Promise. It has wrongly been called the Palestinian covenant. The reason is that on the coast this was where the Philistines lived in OT times. So the Romans called that territory Palestine or Palestina.

   However, we should call it The Holy Land, or The Promised Land. Or in Hebrew, "Eratz Israel," The Land of Israel! I don't understand how the amils can call it The Promised Land if they do not believe the Jews are to be restored back to that territory. It is "Promised" to them!

   In the past, without thinking, many of us called that covenant, The Palestinian Covenant. And we should not have done that. I now label it The Holy Land, or The Promised Land.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  (8/10)

Monday, August 9, 2010


Dr. Couch, is the "mystery" of 1 Corinthians 2:7 the same as the "mystery" of Ephesians 3:1-7?

ANSWER:  No, it does not seem to be the same. The "mystery" (musterion) of Ephesians 3 is about the fact that the Gentiles will be blessed by the gospel. Paul says this mystery was specifically made know to him alone. It was "the mystery of Christ which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, but now 'specifically' it is that the Gentiles are [now] fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (vv. 5-6). It is the "mystery according to the gift of God's grace which was given (or revealed) to me according to the working of His power" (v. 7).

   The mystery of 1 Corinthians 2:7 seems to be specifically about the gospel not just about God's working with the church. Here, the mystery is God's hidden wisdom "which God predestined before the ages to our glory" (v. 7). The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: "The message which Paul proclaimed was God's revelation (Matt. 11:25). At the heart of this wisdom is the plan of salvation intended for our glory, determined before time began (Eph. 1:4)."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Who Are "We"?

Dr. Couch, Who are the 'we' in Romans 1:5?

ANSWER:  The "we" would possibly be the apostles but it could also include the church saints to whom Paul is writing. Note verse 6 where he writes "among whom YOU ALSO (the church saints) are the called of Jesus Christ." The larger body of church saints are added to the "through whom we (the apostles) have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake" (v. 5).

   Paul then adds, "To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints ..." (v. 7).

   Good question; thanks for asking.
   --Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Dr. Couch, you seem to be right on about the cultural apostasy that is now sweeping our nation, and of course, the entire world.

ANSWER: This is setting us up for the tribulation. It will be a horrible time, though the true believers will certainly not be here. However, the church may go through the storm clouds of the tribulation and experience terrible things before the rapture. Remember, the wrath of God will fall on a specific generation that is definitely deserving God's judgment. It is not going to fall simply indiscriminately. It will be a judgment on a specific period of history with the population in massive rebellion against the truth.

   In my view a cultural apostasy is mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:2: "For MEN (the lost) will be lovers of self, ..." They will "hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power ..." (v. 5). As the church goes, so goes the culture. Or, as the culture goes so goes the church! However you want to say it!

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (8/10)