This article addresses ten common questions regarding well-known Bible phrases and terms. In this age of deception and confusion, Watchmen should know what they believe and why they believe it. An understanding of Scripture emboldens and equips believers to be stronger witnesses.
If you have other questions, the team at I Am A Watchman welcomes your questions about the Bible. Please Contact Us HERE to email your question. May God bless you as you strive to grow in Him!
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: Is the Golden Rule in the Bible?
Answer: No. The exact phrase Golden Rule is not, but the principle is. The Golden Rule states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While that message is reflected in several places in the Bible, the actual phrase is not in the Bible. The principle is found in these verses:
Leviticus 19:18, Matt. 5:43, 7:12, 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8; Luke 10:27
Question: Is the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” in the Bible?
Answer: No. The phrase, ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’ is not in the Bible. Many Old Testament verses reference ritual washing. Both the Old and New Testament discuss clean and unclean animals. These instructions were provided to facilitate good hygiene, health, and to remind people of the importance of spiritual purity. God is concerned with our health and welfare, but the focus of God’s Word is spiritual purity. Here are a few examples:
John 15:3; 1 John 1:9; 2 Cor. 7:1; James 4:8, Ephesians 5:26-27
Question: Is hell an actual place?
Answer: Yes. The Bible uses figurative language such as a lake of fire or Gehenna to reference hell, but hell must be understood as a literal place and not a figurative concept. Recent studies show that most people do not believe in the existence of hell, however, Jesus, and every New Testament writer, taught that hell awaits those who refuse to believe. This is one of the main teaching points in the book of Romans.
Humans have a choice: Believe in Jesus, accept His love, grace, and forgiveness, become His disciple, and receive the reward of eternal life with Him in heaven – OR – Reject the things of God, including Jesus’ offer of salvation. To reject Christ is to choose an eternity apart from God, in hell. God is the judge, but we play the lead role in determining our fate. These verses make that clear:
Matthew 10:28,11:23; Luke 10:15; Acts 2:27; Rev. 20:13-14 Psa. 6:5, 17:15, 30:9, 49:15, 86:13, 88:10-12, 115:17; Psa. 116:3; Prov.15:24, 21:16, 27:20; Ecclesiastes 9:4-6; Isaiah5:14
Question: Does Scripture teach women are less important than men?
Answer: No. Some believe Scripture does not hold women in high esteem—I strongly disagree. In both Old and New Testaments, God blesses and uses women in great and mighty ways. Scripture records how Deborah led in battle and served as a judge (in the days before kings). Other women served as prophets, prayed in church, led in worship, hosted prayer and worship meetings in the book of Acts, owned businesses, and served in critical support roles in the ministries of both Jesus and Paul.
God loves, anoints, and empowers women to do important work. He equips women for service and calls them to serve in His Kingdom work. Many women are called to be Watchmen—All women have a responsibility to fulfill His Great Commission. There are, however, different callings and offices in the body of Christ. Different does not indicate less important.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul notes that all parts of the Body of Christ are valued, useful, and important. He also clarifies that the eye cannot think itself more important than the hand or other body parts. Body parts have different roles or functions, but all are of equal value. The same is true in the church today.
We may not understand all of the whys, but the fact that women have the gift and calling to nurse and nurture does not indicate that men are somehow slighted or thought of by God as less important. The Spirit gives different gifting, callings, and ‘offices.’ Though some of this has a gender component, Scripture emphasizes that all callings and roles are of equal importance. Remember, the most important thing we can do is what God calls us to do (1 Cor. 12:15-26).
Question: Should believers pray to saints? Are saints angels?
Answer: No, and No. In Scripture, a saint is any believer in Jesus Christ. A saint can be in heaven, but most often in Scripture, the term saints refers to the living—to believers—the Church – capital ‘C.’ The term saint in the original text means, ‘holy one.’ Saints are made holy by the forgiving touch of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we do not become a saint because we have manifested a certain number of miracles or good deeds—we become saints because of what Christ has done for us. When we are saved, we are forgiven and made holy by Christ. When this happens, we become a ‘holy one’ and part of the Body of Christ, a saint.
The saints on earth are to focus on Great Commission work (Matt. 28:18-20) and accomplishing the will of God as the Spirit leads. According to Scripture, the saints on earth are to serve others, help and love others, and witness-to and teach others.
People should not pray to the dead (or departed saints). Communicating with the dead is expressly forbidden in the Bible. However, living saints can intercede for others in prayers. When a believer prays, they should pray to God through Jesus. There is no biblical foundation for the idea of patron saints, praying to saints, or asking a departed saint to petition Jesus on behalf of someone in need.
Deut. 33:2-3; 1 Sam. 2:9; 2 Chr. 6:41; Job 5:1, 15:15; Psa. 16:3, 30:4, 31:23, 34:9, 50:5, 89:5
Acts 26:10; Rom. 1:7, 8:27, 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:1-2; Eph. 1:15,18; Col. 1:2,4; 1 Tim. 5:10; Heb. 6:10
Question: Is there a New Testament commandment to tithe?
Answer: No, but consider the following. The Old Testament directive was to give a tithe. Tithe means 10%, but there was more. In addition to tithing money, individuals were to give special offerings and pay an additional 20% to support Israel’s Temple, the priests’ spiritual work, and governance needs. Old Testament believers were expected to give 30% of their income, plus, provide special offerings and sacrifices through the year.
Some suggest the command to give a tithe and more no longer applies. They point to the New Covenant and suggest that because there is no emphasis on sacrifices, the government of Israel, or providing for the Temple, priests and Levites, the idea of the tithe is nullified.
However, though New Testament writers do not stress the tithe, the New Testament does stress the principle of stewardship, “whole life stewardship.” This means, believers must respond to receiving the love and grace of God by offering their entire life to God.
So for believers today, the tithe is not the maximum gift required by God, nor is it the acceptable minimum sacrifice. Believers should give freely of their love, time, talent, focus, energy, and yes, money; with no regard for percentages or amounts. Believers are to give as the Spirit leads. Believers “live to give to God.” 1 Corinthians 3 notes that generous giving that honors God and His work will be recognized and rewarded in the kingdom of heaven.
Num. 18:26; Deut. 14:22; Mal. 3:10; Matt. 19:21; 22:37; 23:23, Mark 12:42; 1 Sam 15:22; 2 Cor. 9:7
Question: Are there degrees of sin? Does God consider some sins worse than others?
Answer: No. Sins can have different social and spiritual ramifications and this may lead one to believe that some sins are worse than others. A white lie, for example, impacts individuals and society differently than a murder. Are there degrees of sin? Consider the following:
- Crimes or sins against others have varying degrees of social Old Testament law recognized this and assigned different penalties for different crimes, which the Bible calls ‘sins.’
- Crimes or sins have a spiritual dynamic. Though this is difficult to understand, there is only one spiritual standard—individuals are either perfect and holy, or not. Sin makes us imperfect. The question is not: “How many or what kind of sins can I commit and still go to heaven?” The question God will ask when we face Him one day is, “Have you committed any sin?” One is either perfectly pure (having never sinned) or not. Those who have sinned are no longer pure and therefore ineligible to reside with God in His pure heaven. However, there is hope. God knows “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23) and has made a provision for our spiritual cleansing via the perfect sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus (John 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10), strive to live for Jesus (James 2:17-19), and confess their sins to Jesus (1 John 1:9) will be renewed, forgiven, and made pure by Jesus.
1 John 3:4; Rom. 3:23, 6:23; Luke 12:47-48
Question: Is one Bible translation the true word of God, without error, and superior to all others? Which translation is best?
Answer: No one Bible translation is superior than all others. The truth is, language changes over time. Many struggle to understand Shakespeare, which was written some 500 years ago. English script of 1000 years ago is barely decipherable to most today. This leads some to question the integrity of contemporary Bible translations. Let me share two thoughts:
- The idea that a text can not be trusted because it is old has no biblical foundation. Jesus quoted extensively from the Old Testament, from passages translated from both Hebrew and Greek scrolls. In Luke 4, when tempted by Satan, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture more than 1400 years old in His day. I believe Jesus quoted some of the oldest passages in the Bible to note His confidence in the power and integrity of Scripture. Just as God preserved the integrity of Old Testament writing in the days of Jesus, so has He preserved the integrity of His Word in our day.
- Some translations are not presented as exact transcriptions from the original text. These translations are called paraphrased translations. A few examples are the Living Bible, the Good News Bible, and the Message translations. Paraphrase translations are designed to present the general spirit of the original text in easy-to-understand, contemporary language. These translations have value but should not serve as primary resources for developing doctrine or determining how Scripture addresses important topics. The NLT, NIV, NET Bible, and several others are thought-for-thought versions. They maintain the thoughts of the original writers, keeping all doctrine and teaching intact, but do not provide word-for-word transliterations.
- Translations such as the NASV, CEV, KJV, and the NKJV, strive to present the today’s English text as an exact translation of the oldest Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin texts available. Prayerful scholars rely on the Spirt to help them present a word-for-word transcription of the oldest (very early generation) families of manuscripts. Though these translations vary some in the wording, there is no variance in any point of doctrine. God maintains the integrity of His Word.
2 Timothy 3:16
Question: Do numbers have special spiritual significance in the Bible?
Answer: Yes. Numbers can embody great spiritual significance in Hebrew writing. Just as the Fourth of July and red, white, and blue are more than just dates and colors to Americans, many numbers, locations, customs, and phrases have deeper meaning in Hebrew culture.
The number 3, for example, can mean complete or ultimate. This is why Scripture notes that God is not just holy, He is ‘holy, holy, holy.’ This is also likely why the Antichrist in the book of Revelation is assigned the number 666. Six is a number indicating incomplete or imperfection. The number six, expressed three times (666) could point to the ultimate imperfection.
In Hebrew culture, the number 12 correlates to a perfect set. The number 1000 often indicates a perfect, uncountable number. The 144,000 Jewish witnesses John sees in Revelation 7 (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel) may be a literal count, or it could easily represent a perfect, uncountable number. Either interpretation is possible.
Jehovah’s Witnesses wrongly teach that the 144,000 in Revelation 7 is a literal number that notes the total number of people granted a place in heaven. When interpreting Scripture, one must view numbers in their cultural and spiritual context.
Rev. 7; 13:16-18; 14:9,11; John 1:12, 3:16; Rom. 10:13; Phil. 3:20
Question: Is the phrase, ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child” in the Bible?
Answer: No. The phrase, “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” is not in the Bible. However, the mandate for parents to teach youth respect, set boundaries, and exercise discipline are clearly defined biblical principles. A few verses that support these principles are noted below:
Proverbs 13:24, 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15
Question: Does the Bible indicate there were three wise men? What are their names?
Answer: No. Scripture provides few facts about the Magi. One may infer there were three wise men because Jesus received three gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. However, Scripture does not record the names of the wisemen and does not specifically note that there were three. The suggestion of the names Melchior, Belshazzar, and Kasper came centuries later. These names have strong regional ties and likely were suggested to represent how the Christ Child came for the people groups of the world (the three names noted above represent the peoples of India, Arabia, Africa).
Question: Is the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” in the Bible?
Answer: No. This phrase is not in the Bible. It likely has its origins in one of Aesop’s Fables, later popularized in the writings of Benjamin Franklin. However, the teaching that hard work has virtue, personal responsibility has merit, and self-efficiency is admirable do have biblical foundation.
Romans 5:6,8; Jeremiah 17:5; Proverbs 28:26
Question Is there scriptural support for the ‘Once saved, always saved’ position?
Answer: There is honest disagreement on this issue. However, this writer believes many verses support the teaching that those who make a sincere decision to become a follower of Christ are not in danger of losing their salvation. Key support verses include John 10:27-30 and Romans 8:38-39. The key is to become a sincere believer. Scripture notes that many can partake of good things, but not have a good heart—that is, not be sincere about their faith. Judas Iscariot is a case in point. The book of James is an excellent read on the subject of why and how to live out your faith.
Note: though the following terms and phrases are not part of the original biblical text, they do have solid biblical support:
- The Rapture
- The Trinity
- Sunday School
- The ‘sinner’s prayer’
- The ‘Great Commission’
- The Lord’s Prayer
Our ministry friends at Got Questions are a great resource for answering Bible questions. You can find over 60,000 answers to common and not-so-common questions at GotQuestions.com
“…you should know how to give the right answer to everyone.” Colossians 4:6b
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