Discernment

The Evangelical Ostrich

Lazy Scholarship: Ignoring Josephus

In a recent conversation, I mentioned that many Biblical gems are hidden in the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. A few years ago, a friend of mine handed me the book, Josephus: The Complete Works. In it, I stumbled upon a clear explanation for why God chose Gideon’s 300 warriors– an issue that Evangelical pastors routinely say is unknown. Even worse, on other issues, I stumbled upon clear explanations that are in complete contradiction to what Evangelical pastors teach as fact. What is going on here? (By the way, my current pastor does not teach on these topics, at least I have never heard him do so, so my points here are not directed at him.)

I did not go to seminary. I do not have a bunch of “elders” advising me. I am not running a “spirit led” church. I’m just some guy whose friend handed him a book that is commonly available. Josephus is probably the greatest historian of all time, and remarkably, uniquely, unbelievably, he was a first-person eyewitness to the sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Second to the Bible, Josephus compiled what is likely the most detailed and thorough history of the Jewish people ever written. So why do so many Evangelical pastors ignore him? There is no good answer.

Your Bible Lost Some Weight

Furthermore, why do Evangelical pastors accept, without (in my experience) one word of protest or scrutiny, the fact that their Bibles are missing seven books books that were in the Septuagint (the Scriptures used by Jesus and the Apostles), books approved as canon by multiple church councils over 1,500 years? Do you have a good answer to this question? I sure don’t.

I’ve heard Evangelical pastors say for years that these books are not accurate, but I have NEVER heard one of these pastors cite a single example of this supposed inaccuracy. I wonder why? The fact that Jesus and the Apostles had these seven books in their Scriptures and never ripped them out or spoke one word against them tells me all I need to know.

The Pre-Trib Rapture: A Colossal Error

My suspicions about Evangelicalism (also known as non-denominational Christianity) started several years ago. I had finished reading the Bible cover to cover, and low and behold, the pre-tribulation rapture I had heard so much about from the pulpit and on Christian radio, was nowhere in the Bible. Wanting not to be the oddball, I asked my Evangelical brothers and sisters to show me the pre-trib rapture in the Bible– and not a single one of them could do it. Most refused to even try. This was a BIG red flag for me. My pastor at the time couldn’t show it to me either, and he taught it as fact!

Father Evangelical Knows Best

Ask any Evangelical why they do not call their pastor “Father,” as Catholics do. You will get the answer that I gave for years.

And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. ~ Matthew 23:9

Okay, great. But what about this verse?

“Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” ~ Paul, Ephesians 6:1-3

Hmm. That seems to be an exception to the rule against calling anyone “father.” And then there’s this verse.

“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them about this place of torment so they won’t have to come here when they die.’ ~ Luke 16:27-28

And this one.

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” ~ Mark 11:10

And this one.

Then the high priest asked him [Stephen], “Are these charges true?” To this he [Stephen] replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ ~ Luke, Acts 7:1-3

And this one.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord… ~ Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:14-17

And this one.

I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. ~ Paul, Philemon 10

All those exceptions are right there in the Protestant Bible, yet they are never cited or even noticed by Protestants. I sure never noticed them, but I am admitting that I notice them now. Will you admit it too?

Here are two questions using simple if/then logic.

  1. If Paul calls his spiritual children “son” and urges others to imitate him, then shouldn’t pastors imitate Paul by calling their spiritual children “son”?
  2. If pastors call their spiritual children “son,” then shouldn’t those sons call their pastors “father”?

As with so many other topics, will the Evangelical church have no good answer for these questions, and therefore refuse to talk about them?

Ostrich

The Bible is always proven true.

Catholic.com: Call No Man “Father”?


I know from experience that the Evangelical church is packed with Jesus-loving, and Jesus-devoted Christians– this includes pastors and congregants. Evangelicals love the God of Israel, and love studying His Bible. These are some of the many reasons I loved being part of the Evangelical movement for nine years. To this day, I would gladly attend an Evangelical service. Evangelicals are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals rightly emphasize the need to search our own individual hearts for alignment with God’s will. I am merely asking Evangelicalism to extend this examination to the Evangelical movement as a whole. Thank you for reading.

16 replies »

  1. In Scripture there are many different names used to describe God. While all the names of God are important in many ways, the name “Abba Father” is one of the most significant names of God in understanding how He relates to people. The word Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.”

    While most people, at least those who do not irrationally deny the existence of God, would claim that all are “children of God,” the Bible reveals quite a different truth. We are all His creations and under His authority and Lordship and will all be judged by Him, but being a child of God and having the right to truly call Him “Abba Father” is something that only born-again Christians are able to do (John 1:12-13).

    Understanding that not all people are children of God and that becoming a child of God only happens when you are adopted by God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26) is important for understanding how and why God deals with people differently. If we are born again (John 1:12, 3:1-8), we have been adopted into the family of God, redeemed from the curse of sin and are “joint-heirs with Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:17; also Galatians 4:7). Part of that new relationship is that God now deals with us differently, which includes His chastisement when we sin (Hebrews 12:3-11). Because of that new relationship, Christians may sin, but they cannot be comfortable or content living a life of habitual, ongoing sin. If people are living a life enslaved to sin and are comfortable in that sin and without the chastisement of God upon them, then we know they are “illegitimate and not sons” (Hebrews 12:8). In other words, they are unbelievers.

    The misguided but popular concept that all people are children of God and can truthfully call Him “Abba Father” is simply not true. Just as children do not choose to be adopted or choose who will adopt them, neither do Christians choose to become children of God. Instead, God chooses them. He predestines them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5), having been chosen by God from “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

    It is life-changing to understand the full force of what it means to be able to call the one true God our “Daddy” and what it means to be joint-heirs with Christ. Because of our relationship with God, we know He no longer deals with us as enemies; instead, we can approach a holy God as our heavenly Father with “boldness” (Hebrews 11:19) and “full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 11:22). We have that confidence because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).

  2. Matthew 23:9 states, “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven.” The context of Matthew 23:9 tells us that referring to your biological father as “father” is not what Jesus is speaking about.

    In Matthew 23:1–12, Jesus is denouncing the Jewish scribes and Pharisees for rejecting Him as their Messiah, in particular for their hypocrisy in elevating themselves above others with titles such as “teacher” and “master.” The Jewish teachers affected that title because they supposed that a teacher formed the man, or gave him real life, and they sought, therefore, to be called “father,” as if they were the source of truth rather than God. Christ taught them that the source of all life and truth is God, and they ought not to seek or receive a title which properly belongs to Him.

    This denunciation is equally relevant for today. In no way should any person look up to, follow, or elevate a human leader in any religious or church organization above Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Head of the Church, His body, and our one and only Master and Teacher. He alone is the author of our salvation, source of comfort in difficulties and strength to live the Christian life, and the only One to whom our prayers should be directed.

    Roman Catholics call their priests “father” and the pope is called “the holy father.” This is clearly unbiblical. The priest as “father” is problematic. Catholic priests are doing precisely what Matthew 23:9 condemns by allowing the term “father” in a spiritual sense be applied to them. In no sense is a priest or pastor a “spiritual father” to a Christian. Only God can cause a person to receive “spiritual birth”; therefore, only God is worthy of the title of “Father” in a spiritual sense.

    In the case of the “holy father,” there is no doubt this is unbiblical. No man can take on the title of “holy” anything, because only God is holy. This title gives the pope a status that is never intended for any man on earth. Even the apostle Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:14). Clearly, Paul made no claim to holiness. Although as Christians we have exchanged our sin for the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), holiness will not be attained until we are in heaven and have left the last vestiges of our sin natures behind. Until then, the pope has no more holiness than the average Christian and is not entitled to be called “holy father.”

    But there is no reason not to call our earthly parents “father” and “mother” because in doing so we are not giving them an elevated title or position that belongs to God. Our earthly parents are worthy of honor, not just on one special day of the year (Father’s Day, Mother’s Day), but we are to honor our parents daily in the spirit of Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, and Ephesians 6:1-3.

    • I listed multiple examples of people in the New Testament using the words “father” and “son” outside the context of biological father/son relationships, and you avoided every single one. Thank you for your comment.

  3. What is important about the rapture is that it WILL happen. When it will happen is insignificant. The word rapture does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.

    The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).

    The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. “We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).

    The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a “mystery” now revealed: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).

    • You say that the timing of the rapture is insignificant. I have found this to be one of the standard answers I get when I ask people to show me the pre-trib rapture in the Bible. In other words, Pre-trib is taught constantly– from pulpits, Christian radio, Christian books, and Christian movies. Yet when challenged, it instantly crumbles to “it doesn’t matter when it will happen.” It can’t stand up to one question?!?! It most certainly DOES matter when it happens. It happens AFTER the great tribulation, and Christians who do not endure until the end will not be saved (Matthew 24:13). The pre-trib rapture is the most evil and heretical doctrine I have noticed in non-denominational Christianity, and I have noticed plenty.

  4. Since their release in the first century AD, the writings of Flavius Josephus have become a primary source of Judeo-Christian history. According to The Life of Flavius Josephus, Josephus “was born to Matthias in the first year of the reign of Caius Caesar” (1:5), being AD 37. At “fourteen years of age, [he] was commended by all for the love [he] had to learning; on which account the high priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to [him] together, in order to know [his] opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law” (2:9).

    Observing the Jewish sects of Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, Flavius Josephus spent three years with a hermit named Banus (2:11–12) and, upon returning at nineteen years age, “began to conduct [him]self according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees” (2:12). Traveling to Rome to defend persecuted Pharisees, he returned with an admiration for the Roman way of life. Soon after, a rebellion by Jewish forces against Rome occurred (AD 66), and Josephus found himself becoming a commander in Galilee where he “took care to have arms provided, and the cities fortified” (14:77). However, despite his attempts, Flavius Josephus surrendered at Jotapata, which “was taken by force” (65:350). When the “siege of Jotapata was over, and [he] was among the Romans, [he] was kept with much care, by means of the great respect that Vespasian showed [him]” (AD 69) and was soon accompanied by the emperor’s son Titus back to Jerusalem (75:414–416).

    Despite Josephus’s attempts to quell growing revolts, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Josephus returned with Titus to Rome, where he “had great care taken of [him] by Vespasian; for he gave [him] an apartment in his own house, which he lived in before he came to the empire. He also honored [Josephus] with the privilege of a Roman citizen, and gave [him] an annual pension; and continued to respect [him] to the end of his life” (76:423).

    The works of Josephus are few in number, but large in volume. The Wars of the Jews is the harrowing and partly eye-witness account of the wars involving the Jewish nation from the Maccabean Revolt (as told in the apocryphal 1 Maccabees) to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, through which Josephus lived. The Antiquities of the Jews details the history of the Jewish people from the creation narrative (Genesis in the Old Testament) to the time of Josephus’s writing (New Testament and thereafter). Against Apion is an insightful apologetic of Jewish theology and thought against critics and students of Greek philosophy. Josephus is best known however, among Christians for his referral to Jesus in The Antiquities of the Jews, one of the earliest pieces of historical evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament. Below is the paragraph from The Antiquities of the Jews (18:63–64), with what is commonly believed to be additions by a later Christian translator in brackets:

    “At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man [if indeed one ought to refer to him as a man]. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who received the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. [He was the Messiah-Christ.] And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. [For on the third day he appeared to them again alive, just as the divine prophets had spoken about these and countless other marvelous things about him.] And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.”

    Later in The Antiquities of the Jews (20:200), Jesus is again mentioned, in passing this time, as Josephus focuses his discussion on Jesus’ half-brother James (Matthew 13:55; Galatians 1:19). The passage is again worth quoting in full:

    “But this younger Ananus, who, as we told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent. . . . He assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus the so-called Messiah-Christ, whose name was James, and some others. When he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them over to be stoned.”

    Despite the occasional bias of his historical works, Josephus is a relatively credible historian whose work provides a thorough understanding of Jewish life in the first century and the Jewish War.

    • I haven’t noticed any of the “occasional bias” you mention in Josephus’ writings. I have noticed that Palestinians are removing dirt from the Temple Mount by the truckload in their never-ending campaign to erase all things Jewish from Jerusalem. They do this in an attempt to remove archaeological artifacts from Jewish history. They simply remove the dirt and dump it elsewhere in a breathtakingly evil act of cultural genocide. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what they do (with the aid and comfort of Western Leftists) to erase all Jewishness from Jerusalem and Israel. Josephus, on the other hand, did an excellent job of preserving the Jewishness of Israel and Jerusalem in his excellent and very unbiased writings. Thank you for your comment.

  5. Roman Catholic Bibles have several more books in the Old Testament than Protestant Bibles. These books are referred to as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. The word apocrypha means “hidden,” while the word deuterocanonical means “second canon.” The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals were written primarily in the time between the Old and New Testaments, as well as additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. The books are named: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees.

    The nation of Israel treated the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books with respect, but never accepted them as true books of the Hebrew Bible. The early Christian church debated the status of the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals, but few early Christians believed they belonged in the canon of Scripture. The New Testament quotes from the Old Testament hundreds of times, but nowhere quotes or alludes to any of the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical books. Further, there are many proven errors and contradictions in the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals. Here are a few websites that demonstrate these errors:
    http://www.justforcatholics.org/a109.htm
    http://www.biblequery.org/Bible/BibleCanon/WhatAboutTheApocrypha.htm
    http://www.johnankerberg.org/ankerberg-articles/apocrypha.html

    The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books teach many things that are not true and are not historically accurate. While many Catholics accepted the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals previously, the Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s A.D., primarily in response to the Protestant Reformation. The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals support some of the things that the Roman Catholic Church believes and practices which are not in agreement with the Bible. Examples are praying for the dead, petitioning “saints” in Heaven for their prayers, worshiping angels, and “alms giving” atoning for sins. Some of what the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals say is true and correct. However, due to the historical and theological errors, the books must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, not as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

    • There are no historical or theological errors. There are only doctrines that prove Martin Luther to be a heretic and a liar. Jesus Christ had those books in his Bible and spoke not one word against them, yet Protestants trust their pope (Martin Luther) over Jesus Christ.

  6. Jesus heads the church, therefore there is absolutely NO need for a “pope”. This current “pope” is likely to be the False Prophet who is described in Biblical prophecy. The catholic church is likely to be the harlot described in Biblical prophecy.

    The apocryphal books were NEVER included in the Jewish Bible because they were contrary to God’s Law……Jesus NEVER spoke of them because of that! Why would He ever mention anything that was contrary to God’s Law?

    You are sorely lacking information about God’s Word!

  7. Martin Luther is the Protestant pope, and protestants take his word over Christ’s word.

    Furthermore, you have once again completely ignored the examples I listed of New Testament father/son relationships that are not literal.

    Regarding your comment about books not being in the Jewish Bible, here are some other books that are not in the Jewish Bible:

    Matthew
    Mark
    Luke
    John
    Acts
    Romans
    1 Corinthians
    2 Corinthians
    Galatians
    Ephesians
    Philippians
    Colossians
    1 Thessalonians
    2 Thessalonians
    1 Timothy
    2 Timothy
    Titus
    Philemon
    Hebrews
    James
    1 Peter
    2 Peter
    1 John
    2 John
    3 John
    Jude
    Revelation

    Thank you for your comment.

  8. Purfekto10
    You have not read what the early church fathers wrote. Continue to read them so that your eyes may be open. You will learn how the early church was indeed CATHOLIC. And if your eyes are not open, you will disagree with everything they wrote about because everything they wrote about is what CATHOLICS believe.

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