Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Did Luke get his genealogy wrong?

The genealogy from Noah to Abraham is thought by many to be complete in Genesis and not at all 'telescoped' like every other genealogy in the Bible.  Telescoped basically means that certain people were missed out and only key names were used.  Adam can be said to be the father of us all, for instance, or Abraham the father of the Hebrews, leaving out a great many names in between; in both the Old Testament and New, we see the ancient understanding of a genealogy employed consistently.

However, some Young Earth Creationists do not like the fact that Luke includes an extra name in the Noah to Abraham genealogy which we do not find in Genesis 11.  This opens up the possibility that the genealogies in the first few chapters of Genesis are incomplete and thus casts doubt on Archbishop Ussher's specific date for the age of earth.  They are so quixotic in the defence of their views, they even go so far as to say that the version of Luke which we can prove to be the very best attested and apparently original must be wrong or, worse still, that Luke simply got it wrong!  Those who genuinely desire to arrive at God's truth do not close their minds to all reason and hide their beliefs from scrutiny but are rather open and objective.  If we believe we already understand all things, how can we learn?

Luke was not wrong but was certainly inspired by the Spirit of God who knows all things.

Cainan is said to be the son of Arphaxad and father of Shelah, yet this is excluded from Genesis:
Genesis 11:12  Arpachshad lived thirty-five years, and became the father of Shelah; 
Luke 3:35-36  the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad  (NASB)

However, the Septuagint and Samaritan texts of Genesis 11 include Cainan.  The Book of Jubilees and the Sefer ha-Yashar both describe Cainan as a historical figure.  In fact, as Smith notes, 'there are more traditions preserved of him than of his son Salah.'
It has even been suggested by scholarly examination of the timing of the writing of the Masoretic Text that Cainan was deliberately not included by the Jews for sociopolitical reasons - see article.

So is there any evidence against Luke's inspiration?  The NET Bible notes recognise that whilst two key manuscripts do not include Cainan, the witnesses for his inclusion are substantial.  They conclude that 'the omission may be a motivated reading'.  And certainly it was not just the Jews who were motivated for removing Cainan from Genesis 11, nor early Christians, such as Irenaeus or Eusebius, trying to avoid the claim of contradictions or errors in the Bible.  Even today, there are some who misrepresent Young Earth Creationists, who are motivated by a desire to allow no scholarly foot in the door of their interpretation.

Genealogies which are recorded in one book of the Bible but which deliberately exclude names found in the same genealogy from another book of the Bible are not treated with contempt.  They are not criticised away by those with obvious motivation.  It is my sincere prayer that the body of Christ would cease wrestling with the above texts also and allow the Bible to shape their interpretation rather than re-shaping the Bible to fit their presuppositions.

May the God of all truth help us!
Titus 3:9  But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.  (NASB)

Friday, 6 December 2013

Will the real False Prophet please stand up

The False Prophet = the Antichrist

1John 2:18  Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

1John 4:1-3  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

2John 7  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

These terms show conclusively that John, author of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, understood the terms false prophet and antichrist to be synonymous.  He clearly used them interchangeably.  It is ironic that we are so used to calling the one specifically prophesied Antichrist by that very title, that we ignore the fact that John is the only NT writer to even call him ‘Antichrist’ and yet he and Paul used other names for this figure.

As we can see from the first quote given, 1John 2:18, all Christians were expecting a particular Antichrist to come.  Pauls refers to this figure as the ‘lawless one’ – the man of lawlessness and the son of destruction who should come: i) empowered by Satan; ii) with false signs and false wonders to deceive the wicked; and iii) blasphemously exalting himself, within the temple of God, to the title of God on earth (2Thessalonians 2:3-12).

i)                    In Revelation 13, we see the first beast, i.e. the Pagan Roman Empire.  The dragon, later revealed to be Satan, is the one who gives this empire its authority (Revelation 13:2 & 4).  Now the second beast of this chapter is also empowered by Satan, as it exercises the same power as the first beast (Revelation 13:11-12).
ii)                   The identity of this second beast is also revealed as ‘the false prophet’ who performed false wonders, creating an image of the first beast, seeming to give life to it and causing people to receive the mark of the beast (Revelation 19:20).  This is precisely what the second beast of Revelation 13 does. 
iii)                 The blasphemous names on the whore who rides the first beast (Revelation 17) are synonymous with the blasphemies that the False Prophet causes the revived first beast to speak (Revelation 13:5-6 & 15).  Rather than a whore riding the ten-horned first beast, Daniel prophesies of the Antichrist as a ‘little horn’ which rises up amongst the ten other horns and has dominion over them.  He also speaks blasphemously (Daniel 7:8 & 20) and like the False Prophet makes war with the saints and overcomes them (Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:7).

For now, the point is proven that the False Prophet is the Antichrist.  But who is or was the Antichrist?

(All Scripture quotes from ESV unless specified otherwise)