Question 60. Was it the Catholic Church that produced the New Testament canon?

It would be incorrect to say that the Catholic Church produced the New Testament. Historically, the Catholic Church as an organized unit came much later. The Church Fathers could not be classed as Catholic, though the Catholics claim them (especially Augustine), but so do the Eastern Orthodox churches and even many Protestants, especially those of the Calvinistic persuasion. The New Testaments as we have it today was already accepted by the body of believers well before there was such a thing as the Catholic Church.

The basic fact is that as the books of Scripture were written by men inspired by God, they were immediately recognized as being canonical by the body of believers. That is true for both testaments.

For example, regarding the Old Testament, it is clear that when five books of Moses were completed, they were recognized as authoritative Scripture by contemporaries and by succeeding generations. Joshua, the successor of Moses, speaks of the writings of Moses as being authoritative and therefore to be obeyed. Also, Jeremiah and Daniel were contemporaries, and Daniel 9:1-3 clearly shows that he recognized the writing of Jeremiah to be Scripture and authoritative.

The same principle applies to the New Testament: The books written either by the apostles or by apostolic legates were recognized to be Scripture immediately upon being written. In II Peter 3:16, Peter equates the writings of Paul to be Scripture.

It was not the Council of Yavneh (sometimes referred to as Jamnia) that determined what the Hebrew canon was going to be. The council generally recognized which books were inspired, but did not determine the inspiration of those books. The same thing is true with the New Testament. Church councils recognized the books that were inspired, but did not determine the inspiration. These church councils came before there was a Catholic church. The Catholic Church as an organized entity came well after the Council of Nicea.

The view expressed here is generally the Protestant position on the canon of the New Testament.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 59. In our congregation, there is a couple who lives together outside of marriage. The man and the woman are not members of the congregation. Does the Bible say that believers must become members of a church?

The issue of church membership is not dealt with in the Scriptures for one simple reason: In the days when the Scriptures were written, there were not multiple churches in one city. There was just one local church per city, and any believer living in that city was automatically a member of that local church under the authority of the elders of that city. Hence, there was no need for church membership.

In light of what has happened since then, church membership has become an important issue. The believer is committed to a specific local body if he is willing to be supportive of the body both financially and in the use of his spiritual gifts, but also be in subjection to the leadership of that local body.

Obviously church discipline cannot be imposed upon nonmembers, which is why church membership is vital. Anytime there is a moral issue that would bring disrepute upon the local church, church discipline needs to be imposed. Those who are members are held to a higher standard. If a member goes into sin, church discipline should be imposed, especially if it is a moral issue.

The couple you mentioned who are living together outside of marriage but are not members of the congregation, cannot be disciplined by your church at this point. But their immoral lifestyle should definitely be dealt with.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

 

Question 58. Don’t rabbis cover their heads when they pray, yet Paul says men should not cover their heads when praying?

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered, dishonors his head. (I Cor. 11:4)

Your observation is correct that Jewish people do cover their heads not just when they pray, but during the whole synagogue service. Orthodox Jews even cover their heads throughout the day. This shows that Paul’s instructions in I Corinthians 11:2-16 are not coming from his Jewish/rabbinic background, but that he is laying down other rules and regulations for believers of the body of the Messiah. So, if you take the passage literally (as I do), the men should have their heads uncovered, whereas the women should have their heads covered. When I speak in my own Messianic congregation where I am a member, I do not cover my head. My wife, on the other hand, does cover her head when she attends any church meeting, since we both take the text very literally.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

 

Question 57: If Christ died on Friday afternoon before sundown and rose on Sunday before dawn, how could he say in Matthew 12:40 he would be “three days and three nights” in the grave.

In Jewish reckoning, part of a day accounts for the whole day, all twenty-four hours of it, both the day and the night of it.  Actually, the Gospels have three statements that appear contradictory in Gentile reckoning of time but not in Jewish reckoning of time.  Sometimes Jesus said He would rise “on the third day”.  Sometimes He said He would rise “after three days”.  Jesus also used the expression “three days and three nights”.  All three statements are in the same Gospel so it is not merely a variation among the Gospel writers.  These would be contradictory expressions in Gentile reckoning of time but not in Jewish reckoning where part of the day counts for the whole day.  He did rise “on the third day” because Friday before sundown was the first day, Saturday was the second day, and Saturday evening when three stars became visible was the beginning of the third day, Sunday.  Because part of Sunday counts as all of Sunday, He also rose “after three days”.  And the phrase “three days and three nights” refers to any period of time that touches three days, because part of a day counts for the whole day, both the daylight and night time of it.  For example in Esther 4:16, Esther tells the people to fast for three days and three nights and after these three days of fasting she will then go see the king.  Left to itself that might imply that a three full twenty-four hour fast, and on the fourth day she will see the king.  However, in Esther 5:1, it is on the third day that she goes to see the king and there is no way to squeeze three twenty-four hour periods from that passage, nor is it necessary in light of Jewish reckoning.


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Question 56. In Colossians 1:18, Jesus is said to have “first place in everything.” Wouldn’t being first place in everything include being the first to have a glorified human body? If so, into what state were Enoch and Elijah translated when they were taken into heaven? How does this transition differ from physical death?

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have the first place in everything. (Col. 1:18; NASB)

The emphasis in Colossians 1:18 is on Messiah’s preexistence and preeminence in dealing with all the created order. He precedes everything, and He is also the One who holds the universe together. He is essentially the One whom scientists unknowingly refer to as “atomic glue.”

Even if we relate Messiah’s being “first place in everything” to His glorified body, there is a difference between the nature of His resurrected body as over against what happened with Enoch and Elijah, as there is a difference between the resurrected body and the translated body. Both end up being glorified, but the resurrected body is given to the person who died and rose again and therefore passed from mortality to immortality and was glorified. Yeshua was the first one to receive that kind of glorified body. He has therefore a glorified resurrected body.

The concept of translation, on the other hand, is when a living body passes from mortality to immortality without undergoing physical death and by translation is also glorified. Both Enoch and Elijah have this kind of translated body. All saints who are alive at the time of the rapture will also not be resurrected, but will be translated and therefore also glorified.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 55: When God made the covenant with David, why was there no blood sacrifice as in the Abrahamic covenant? Aren’t all the biblical covenants “blood covenants”?

There are various types of covenants in Scripture, including a shoe covenant (Ruth 4:7), a salt covenant (Num. 18:19), and a blood covenant. The last example is the most solemn type of covenant.

Often, covenants were sealed by a covenant meal. That was true when the covenantal partners were people. An example is found in Genesis 26:30, where Isaac and Abimelech entered into a mutual covenant and the terms were sealed by a covenant meal. The principle also held true when the covenantal partners were God and men. This can be seen in Exodus 24, where, after establishing the Mosaic covenant, God shared a meal with the elders of Israel.

The various types of covenants had different elements. For example, a blood covenant always required the shedding of blood. The Abrahamic covenant is an example of such a covenant. Since there are different types of covenants, not every single element has to be true of every single covenant. For example, the principle of exchange was not always true for every covenant. It was certainly true with the salt and shoe covenants, but not with the blood covenant. Therefore, since not all the elements have to be present for each covenant, the lack of mention of these elements in the Bible may simply mean that they were not necessary. For example, the Adamic and Edenic covenants are covenants although they do not have all the elements of the other biblical covenants.

While all covenants contain certain promises and provisions, not all promises of God were put in the terms of a covenant. There are covenantal promises, but there are also promises which are not covenants. Many promises of God are not expressed as being a covenantal arrangement. For example, God promised the second coming and the Messianic kingdom. When He did so, there was no formal agreement, and no response was expected from the recipients of the promises. Yet, even without a covenantal arrangement, God will keep these promises.

Covenantal promises are always part of a legal arrangement. Therefore, the eight covenants make up all legal arrangements between God and the covenanted one.
In both cases, of course, God will fulfill both the promise and the covenant, but the covenant by nature is more solemn. Hence, in Hebrews 6:13, the author emphasizes both the promise and the oath.

You can find additional teaching about the nature of covenants, in Volume 1 of our Come and See series, titled The Word of God: Its Nature and Content, found in the Ariel Store.


Click here to learn more about Ariel Ministries and to enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a part of this ministry through a financial gift, please click Thank you!

Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 54: Why did God almost kill Moses when he was on the way back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites (Exodus 4:24-26)?

Exodus 4:24-26 fits well into the overall picture of the Abrahamic covenant. From Exodus 2:23-25, you will notice that the basis for the Exodus was God’s promises to Abraham in the Abrahamic covenant. On the basis of this covenant, Israel would be rescued out of Egypt. Then, in Exodus 3-4, God calls Moses to deliver Israel out of Egypt. By the time we get to the segment in question, Moses was finally being obedient in heading for Egypt with his wife and sons (Ex. 4:20).

Moses was married to a Midianite woman, and the Midianites did not practice circumcision. In Exodus 4:24-26, only one son was circumcised, which would indicate that when the first son was born, Moses had him circumcised, but his wife may not have liked what she saw. Therefore, when the second son was born, Moses failed to circumcise him, which was in disobedience to the Abrahamic covenant as detailed in Genesis 17. The failure to circumcise could be punishable by death. Now, the question arises: If God was going to save Israel on the basis of the Abrahamic covenant, how could He use someone who was clearly being disobedient to that covenant? Hence, God struck Moses with a very debilitating sickness of some kind that brought him close to death and made him too weak to move. His wife recognized what the situation was. Realizing that to save her husband’s life she would have to be the one to circumcise that second son, since Moses could not do so, she took a flint and performed the circumcision. By so doing, she saved the life of her husband, yet, she was not happy with what she had to do and kept calling Moses “a bloody bridegroom.”

Because of her negativism over the act of circumcision, the wife and sons were sent back to Midian and did not travel with Moses to Egypt. Therefore, they failed to see all of the supernatural works that God performed during the time of the Exodus. When the Jewish people finally arrived at Mount Sinai, Moses’ father-in-law had to bring his wife and sons to Moses at Mount Sinai. Moses’ failure to obey the sign of God’s promises to Abraham brought discord and sadness to the lives of his entire family.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 53: Is the term “Jews” a title just for the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah? Are the other ten still the “lost tribes” of the house of Israel?

The concept of the ten lost tribes of Israel is actually a myth, and they were never lost. This is quite clear historically. When the northern kingdom went into Assyrian captivity, they were settled in specific cities in Assyria. When Babylon conquered the Assyrian empire, all ten tribes fell under the Babylonian sovereignty. Babylon also conquered Judah, thus subduing the remaining two tribes. So all twelve tribes were under the same sovereign authority of Babylonia.

When the Medo-Persian empire conquered Babylonia, all twelve tribes fell under Medo-Persian authority. The Persians allowed the Jews to return to their home country, and most members of all twelve tribes did indeed return to the Land. However, other members of all twelve tribes stayed where they were.

Luke 2 refers to Anna as being “of the tribe of Asher,” one of the so called “ten lost tribes.” Quite obviously, Anna was not lost. James addressed his epistle “to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion.” He did not need to look for the “lost tribes” in order to deliver the letter to them.

By later New Testament times, personal identification by once distinguishable tribal names became less prominent. Thus, Paul called himself a Hebrew, and he also called himself an Israelite. In Philippians 3:5, he identified himself as a Benjaminite, but he also called himself a Jew, which became a generic term for the members of all the tribes of Israel. So, all those who call themselves Jews today can come from any of the twelve tribes of Israel and not just two.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 52: Does Psalm 82 verses 1 and 6 teach (as some claim) that because we are the children of God, we are “little gods”?

The verses state:

1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.
I said, ”You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High. (Psalm 82:1,6 NKJV)

The Hebrew word elohim used in verses 1 and 6 is a general term for “god,” and it is used for the true God and also used for idols. It is not a name for God, since God’s name comprises four Hebrew letters that would correspond to the English letters of YHVH.

Elohim is also used of God’s representatives, such as angels; and in the case of John 10:34, quoting Psalm 82:6, it is a reference to the judges of Israel: Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? The judges were the representatives of God, having his delegated authority, and so by personal, direct mission, they did the very works of God. The problem with thinking of ourselves as “little gods” is that it gives the impression of being some kind of deity, which is certainly not the case for human beings.

The Pharisees themselves recognized this non-deity meaning of the word elohim. Jesus made the point in John 10:34 that if they were called “gods,” the very representatives of God, how could it be blasphemy if He claimed to be the Son of God, since He received not a transmitted authority, but the direct, personal command to do the Father’s work?

Jesus’ answer was a typical rabbinic argument, arguing from the lesser to the greater: If the judges could be called elohim, how much more can He be called the Son of God, since He is the Messianic Person.

Another example of this principle is that Moses was considered a god (elohim) to Aaron (Exodus 4:16) and to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1) because he brought God’s message to these men. So, if Moses as a mere man could be a god to Aaron and Pharaoh, why could not Jesus be God’s Son? He, like Moses, was God’s messenger, having God’s message. The children of Israel listened to Moses, so why should they not listen to the Messiah, who is greater than Moses? They not only had His claims, but His works that proved His claims. Here, again, it is the standard Jewish argument from the lesser to the greater: If Moses or the judges can be called ‘god’, how much more could the Messiah be called the Son of God.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 51: Which calendar is correct: the Christian calendar or the Jewish calendar? Which calendar should believers in Yeshua follow?

Answer: Neither the Christian (Gregorian) calendar nor the Jewish calendar is correct.

The Gregorian calendar was based upon an attempt to include Yeshua’s birth year in the counting of time. However, without having all the historical facts at the time that this was done, there was a discrepancy. Today, it is possible to pinpoint with a fair amount of accuracy the actual year Messiah was born by correlating Luke’s account with Matthew’s and other historical sources from this period (especially Josephus). Four basic clues will be considered.

The first clue concerns the year Herod died, which was the year 4 B.C. The Gospel accounts clearly state that when Yeshua was born, Herod the Great was alive. This means the Messiah was born before the year 4 B.C.

The second clue pertains to the decree that was issued in the days of Quirinius, or more precisely, around the year 8 or 7 B.C. Luke’s point is that the Messiah was born after Quirinius ordered the census. The first two clues combined give a three- to four-year parameter, indicating that Yeshua was born somewhere between 8 and 4 B.C.

The date can be narrowed down even further. Ac­cording to Josephus, Herod left Jerusalem for Jericho in the year 5 B.C., which is where he spent the last year of his life. He died in Jericho, never again to return to Jerusalem. Matthew stated that when the wise men met with Herod, he was still in Jerusalem (Mt. 2:7, 16). We can therefore de­duce from Josephus’ writings and the Gospel account that they would have arrived in Jerusalem in or before the year 5 B.C. This serves as the third clue.

The last clue concerns Yeshua’s age. When the wise men met King Herod in or before the year 5 B.C., the Messiah was already about two years old (Mt. 2:16). Putting all these clues together, we can conclude that Yeshua was born sometime between the years of 7 and 6 B.C. Hence, the Christian calendar is off by approximately seven years. For example, the year 2000 had already occurred between 1993 and 1994.

While the Christian calendar revolves around the year Yeshua was born, the Jewish calendar is tied to the year Adam was created. The present Jewish calendar is based upon a calendar put together by rabbis in the second century A.D., and they, too, did not have all of the history and details necessary to be accurate. The result is that the Jewish calendar is off by approximately 250 years.

Hence, both calendars are not 100% accurate, but it is too late to do anything about this now. However, it is recognized by scholars and historians that both calendars are inaccurate.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.