Jesus warned “beware of covetousness” (Luke 12:13-21). Covetousness (pleonexia) is “a strong or inordinate desire of obtaining and possessing some supposed good; usually in a bad sense, and applied to an inordinate desire of wealth or avarice” (Websters, 1828). Strong defines it as “avarice, i.e., (by implication) fraudulency, extortion.” It is translated “greediness” in Eph. 4:19 and Paul equated it with idolatry (Col. 3:5). It also carries with it the idea of being a lover of money (philarguros). As if to stress how sinful it is, the Holy Spirit often associates it with what we would consider some of the worst sins, like fornication, adultery, uncleanness, thievery and wickedness (e.g., Rom. 1:29; Eph. 5:3; Mark 7:22).

Covetousness is one of those many sins which can creep up on a person unawares, at first. Thus, Jesus warns special precautions need to be taken to fight against it. “Take heed,” He says, “and beware.” Not being content with what we have may lead to covetousness (Heb. 13:5). Achan committed this sin even though he was warned against it because of his greed (Josh. 7:21). If we incline our hearts unto the Testimonies of the Lord, we may avert covetousness (Psalm 119:36). If our hearts are in the wrong place, however, we can easily be defiled by the sin of covetousness (Mark 7:22).

Covetousness has been the source of many family problems. The incident that precipitated Jesus’ teaching regarding covetousness was incubated in the bosom of a family. “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). Similarly, a rift developed between Jacob and Esau because Jacob wanted the birthright and the blessing (Gen. 25:31; 27:36). Jesus’ own disciples were troubled by this kind of selfish attitude. The mother of James and John wanted Jesus to grant them the positions at Jesus’ right and left hand in His kingdom (Matt. 20:20,21). This caused the other disciples to be displeased with these two brothers (Matt. 20:24).

It is important to understand that Jesus never condemns being rich. There were many rich people who followed God and God made them all rich (e.g., Job – 42:10,12; Abraham – Gen. 13:2). The Bible does not say that being wealthy is a sin. What is condemned is the love of money (I Tim. 6:9,10). It seems, however, that, like a horseleach (Prov. 30:15,16), the more some people have, the more they want and the more they worry about keeping it. This rich man wanted bigger and better barns to store his increased substance (Luke 12:18).

The biggest problem with the rich man was that he looked upon these things as his (“my goods”), not gifts from God (James 1:17). He was confident in himself, and in his material wealth. Paul, did not condemn riches per se, but condemned trusting in those riches. “Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not highminded nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who giveth us all things freely to enjoy” (I Tim. 6:17). The rich man erred when he trusted in himself and not God.

But man has but very little control over his life or world. We do not know when our end will be (James 4:13-17). That very night, when the man waxed confident in his possessions, the Lord required his soul (Luke 12:20). He did not know the day of his demise and may not have even expected it. “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). What good will all those riches do for us when we face the tomb? “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (I Timothy 6:7).

God does want us to be rich–spiritually. He wants us to store up treasures for ourselves, only He wants those treasures to be spiritual and not material. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19,20). Those who do lay up for themselves spiritual treasures will lay up a different and unwanted kind of “treasure” (Rom. 2:5).

Such is the fool and his money

Eric L. Padgett

What is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost?

The gospel is to be preached to every person in the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16). Everyone in the world has an opportunity and an obligation to repent. It is a basic rule of sacred hermeneutics that simple, plain passages should govern the interpretation of the more obscure and difficult passages. The Bible is clear that the gospel is to be preached to everyone and that God wants all men to be saved and to come to repentance (I Tim. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9). But the logical conclusion to be drawn under the view of some, is there is a class of people who cannot obey, who cannot be forgiven and are eternally lost even if they were to repent.

Jesus said that “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:31,32).

Jesus said this soon after the Pharisees had accused Him of healing one possessed with a devil through the Spirit of God by the Beelzebub the prince of devils. Some brethren take the view that the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost is the very specific act of attributing to the power of satan the miracles which Jesus performed through the power of the Holy Spirit. Kyle Butt has written: “Even when faced by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit through Jesus, the Pharisees were, in essence, attributing Jesus’ power to Satan, and claiming that Jesus was ‘Satan incarnate instead of God incarnate. It is this, and nothing else, that our Lord calls the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (or Spirit—KB)'”

Another has written, for example, “When the Pharisees saw Jesus cast out a demon, but ascribed the power by which He did it to the devil, Jesus said they would never be forgiven for that” (Blasphemy of the Spirit, Jan. 24).

First, Jesus did say these things because they had affirmed He had an unclean spirit (Mark 3:30). But Jesus also said that a kingdom divided against itself could not stand because they affirmed He had an unclean spirit (v. 25). Jesus also said you first have to bind the strong man before you can spoil his house because they said He did these works by the power of Beelzebub (v. 27). These statements also explain verse thirty.

Verse thirty merely says that Jesus gave this discourse because they accused Him of working for the devil it does not say that the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost is “attributing Jesus’ power to Satan” nor does it say that Jesus said that the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost “is this and nothing else.” As brother H. Leo Boles has written: “Many construe this to mean that Jesus defined the attributing the works of Jesus to the evil power as the sin against the Holy Spirit; but the Bible does not say so, nor anything that implies this. Read Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10.” In other words, verse thirty does not give us anything we didn’t already know from the beginning when the scribes and Pharisees actually accused Jesus of working for satan (Matt. 12:24; Mark 3:22).

The parallel passage in Matthew explains that the “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” is “speaking against the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 12:31,32). Speaking against the Holy Ghost covers a broad spectrum of actions. Certainly denying that the miracles came from God is one, but not the only, blasphemous action. “To disobey and reject God was to blaspheme him; to reject and disobey Jesus was to blaspheme him; to reject and disobey the teachings of the Holy Spirit was to blaspheme him” (Boles, Commentary on Matthew).

Second, there must be a reason why Jesus said blaspheming the Son of man is less offensive than blaspheming the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:32). It certainly could not be because One was more important than the other. Both are members of the Godhead and equal in divinity (cf. e.g. Acts 5:3,4). However, the Lord made a distinction between His work and the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7,8).

As brother Boles further explained: “Many could and did reject Jesus while he was on earth, but when the Holy Spirit came and testified of him, they accepted Christ. But when the Holy Spirit came and gave the complete will of God, if men rejected this, there was no other evidence to be furnished, no other divine agency to be given, and if they finally rejected the Holy Spirit, there was no forgiveness for them. . .It is in perfect harmony with all these scriptures and with all the facts recorded in the Bible for Jesus, when they charged him with acting by the power of the devil, to warn them that they might do this now to him and find forgiveness; but if they so rejected and treated the Holy Spirit when he came, there would be no forgiveness, for there would be no more testimony and no more opportunity to repent. It refers, of course, to the final rejection of the will of God.”

Those who take the “attribution view” state that Jesus said that those who committed this sin could never be forgiven. They understand Jesus’ words “shall not be forgiven” (Matt. 12:31,32) and “hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” to mean that it was impossible to be forgiven, ever! Kyle Butt states, “Mark’s account, with its emphasis on eternity, shows that the phrase simply is meant to underscore the fact that this sin will “absolutely never” be forgiven.”

Are those who say that this is the specific sin of attributing to satan what Christ has done through the Holy Spirit saying that if the one who said this were to later be convinced of his error, he could not repent and turn to Christ and be forgiven? Are they saying that a sincere, penitent believer would be rejected by the Lord because once, in his past, he blasphemed the Holy Ghost?

If they say that such a one who blasphemed the Holy Ghost would never repent, I would ask “How do they know this?” The text does not say that someone who blasphemed the Holy Ghost would never, could never repent. Jesus does not say that they cannot repent, He says only that “it shall not be forgiven him” (Matt. 12:31; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).

But the question is why will it not be forgiven? Brother G. K. Wallace wrote, “The unpardonable sin is a condition of the heart and not a single act. When one’s heart becomes so corrupt and hardened that he cannot be moved to repentance, he has passed the point of redemption. . .Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mat. 12:34). Those who “blasphemed the Holy Spirit” were corrupt at heart. Their hearts were so hardened that they could not be moved. Such a condition makes it impossible to be saved because they cannot be prompted to repent. It is impossible to “renew some again to repentance.” If they could be made to repent they could be saved.” (G. K. Wallace, quoted in The Beacon, Vol. XXXVIII / No. 49 December 7, 2009).

A final question has to be addressed. Some fear that they may have committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Some try to comfort those who ask this question by saying that they cannot now commit this sin because “the situation of those Pharisees cannot be reproduced today. No one today has seen Jesus cast out a demon” (Midway church of Christ). But the particular situation had nothing particularly to do with this sin.

As brother Wallace states, “The very fact that you are troubled shows that you have not gone beyond redemption. It is not a sin of impulse or passion. David made a great mistake for which he was forgiven. The unpardonable sin is a condition of the heart and not a single act. When one’s heart becomes so corrupt and hardened that he cannot be moved to repentance, he has passed the point of redemption. . . Jesus said ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh’ (Matt. 12:34). Those who ‘blasphemed the Holy Spirit’ were corrupt at heart. Their hearts were so hardened that they could not be moved. Such a situation makes it impossible to be saved because they cannot be prompted to repent” (G. K. Wallace, quoted in The Beacon, Vol. XXXVIII / No. 49 December 7, 2009).

Eric L. Padgett


The sermon on the mount is recognized by all serious Bible scholars to be a statement of the very essence of Christian conduct and living. In this blog, I depart from my usual practice of writing and commenting to give you some quotes about the sermon on the mount. No quote should be taken as an endorsement of any of the other teachings of those quoted.

“There is no portion of the Bible that plays a more central role in the history of the Church than the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7, with some parallels in Luke 6 and 11). From the days of the Church Fathers on, these three chapters have been the most frequently quoted and commented-on portion of the Bible. The Sermon has constantly received high praise as a model for the Christian life, the essence of true religion, and the epitome of Jesus’ teachings. These sentiments come not only from Christian interpreters but from many outside the Church as well, where the broader impact of the Sermon is still seen through cultural mantras such as ‘The Golden Rule’ and ‘turn the other cheek.'” — Jonathn T. Pennington Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky

“The Sermon on the Mount compared with the summaries of moral duty belonging to other religions is comprehensive while they are fragmentary. No moral code can be produced which approaches this in completeness or depth. There is no other moral code belonging to an accepted and ancient religion for which any educated European could even claim finality and completeness. We know what John Stuart Mill, though not a believer, said about our Lord’s moral teaching. He said ‘Not even now would it be easy, even for an unbeliever, to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete, than to endeavour so to live that Jesus Christ would approve our life.’ And Dr. Pusey commented on that by saying ‘If men would set this before themselves, there would be fewer unbelievers.’ There is then, I say, no other moral summary belonging to an ancient religion on behalf of which a man of modern enlightenment could, with a reasonable chance of being listened to, make the claim that its principles can never be outgrown or found insufficient for any race of men. This is to others as the comprehensive to the fragmentary.”

“Lastly, it differs from other codes by the authoritative sanction which is given to the words by the person of the speaker. ‘He spoke as one having authority, and not as the scribes.’ All the weight of His mysterious person, all the majesty of His tone, His demeanour, His authority, go to give sanction to this law which He uttered: and not only to give it sanction, in the sense of making men feel that they were dealing with one whose mysterious power it would be better not to offend: His person gives sanction to His words also by inspiring the profoundest confidence that He who makes the claim will also provide strength to correspond with it.” — Charles Gore, M.A., D.D. EDIN.

“The magna charta of Christ’s Kingdom: the unfolding of His righteousness; the sublimest code of morals ever proclaimed on earth; the counterpart of the legislation on Mount Sinai; Christ here appears as Lawgiver and King; Moses spoke in God’s name; Christ speaks in His own.” — Philip Schaff

“We have only to read these ‘instructions’ carefully to see that they bear the mark of Jesus’ genius. Running through them like a golden cord is the handprint of the Master. No man ever spoke like this man. Classic literature is in one sense very little different from ordinary literature in that the words used are the same. But it is the way in which those words are put together, and the ideas that they convey, that make the difference. And that is why they are remembered and become world changing. It is the same with this message. It is more than a classic, it is a work of genius. It is not a question here of selecting out from His material something here and something there, and trying to find from it something spectacularly new. It is a matter of seeing the whole. For the whole is, in its presentation, spectacularly new, even though it is firmly based in the Scriptures. Nothing like it can be found before or since. It presents a total picture that has astounded the world throughout the centuries, including many of differing religions and no religion. Any view of it that does not recognise this element of genius within it can be dispensed with immediately. To suggest therefore that it could be the invention, or even part invention, of a committee or ‘school’ (apart from that consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is so absurd as to be ludicrous. For it hangs together as one whole and has far too much quality for that. It contains ‘the ring of truth’ and ‘the mark of its genius’ throughout. It bears the stamp of a unique personality. It is not only unique in its generation, it is unique in every generation. — Peter Pett

“So the Sermon on the Mount is not a disconcerted jumble of fine sayings, but exhibits remarkable unity as a discourse, as will be observed when I briefly state the outline and analysis of it. Indeed, I much question if any speech has ever been delivered more remarkable for unity than the Sermon on the Mount.” — B. H. Carroll

“It is simple, familiar, direct, sententious, paradoxical, startling, illustrative, conversational, practical, and authoritative.

“It is a simple talk. I mean that every one in that audience could understand it. There was no attempt at big words; the language of the common people, as they spoke it and as they understood it, was used by our Saviour. It was familiar in that it was as homely in its phrases as if he were sitting by the fireside or out on the housetop in the cool of the evening or on the curbing of the street and talking with the passing people. It was not an oration, for there is an utter absence of declamatory, theoretical elocution, and rhetoric, as there must be in all great teachers. I mean to say that there is not an indication of a single strained mental effort after rounded phraseology, euphonious diction, rhetorical effect, dramatic gesticulation. It is direct. I mean to say that it does not intend to reach things by cannoning, hitting here and intending by glancing shot to strike out yonder. He moves right straight forward to the accomplishment of his object.

It is illustrative. The illustrations do not have to be explained, as some men’s illustrations. They illustrate. They preach a sermon by themselves – that is, they carry in their familiar imagery their own application. He selects objects that are perfectly well known to the people and so thoroughly familiar that when used as an illustration there can be no misconception as to the meaning. Sometimes he illustrates by a hen and chickens, sometimes by a lily, other times by rocks and thorns and sheep and birds. It is conversational in its style, . . . But the distinguishing characteristic in style is that which most impressed his audience, because of its intrinsic power and of its marked dissimilarity to the methods of their ordinary religious teachers. He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes and Pharisees. The style then was authoritative . . . But Jesus spoke with authority – authority vested in himself. He leaned on no human buttresses – did not attempt to defend his doctrine, nor to vindicate it. He spoke as God speaks, and without stopping to give an explanation of his manner – and so ought men always to speak who speak for God. Let him speak as the oracles of God. Now as to the rank of this Sermon. Daniel Webster says that no mere man could have produced the Sermon on the Mount. . . Old age and wisdom bow before the simplicity and sublimity of this incomparable teaching. Little children sweetly imbibe its spirit as if it were milk, and aged saints draw from it the strong meat which supplies their sinews of strength. Babes in Christ by it take their first step in the practical walk of Christian life while the men or women in Christ Jesus by it soar on eagles’ wings into the anticipations of the heavenly world. It is peerless, matchless, divine. — B. H. Carroll

Eric L. Padgett


Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29).

Unless gravely ill, the young rarely think seriously about the fragility of life and the reality and certainty of death. As a person ages, he see more of his friends and acquaintances growing more feeble and many of them passing from life to death. Death is a curse that causes many hearts to break and tears to flow continuously. If this life was all that there was, Thomas Hobbes’ assessment might be correct: “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” But the teaching of Jesus provides both a warning and hope for those who face the turmoil and travail of life. This life is not all that there is. There will be a resurrection from the dead and for some this will be a blessing. For others it will be an eternal curse.

The certainty of the resurrection

Jesus’ language leaves no doubt about the certainty of the resurrection–“the hour is coming” and they “shall come forth.” The apostle Paul affirmed that God had given us “assurance” of the judgement, consequently of the resurrection, when He raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 17:30,31). Even back in the patriarchal dispensation Job affirmed the resurrection when he said “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou shalt have a desire to the works of Thy hands” (Job 14:14,15). He affirmed a bodily resurrection when he wrote that in his flesh he would see God, his Redeemer, for himself (Job 19:25-27). The fact that many cultures believe in some kind of future life shows that they have a rudimentary, though limited and faulty, knowledge of the fact of resurrection.

Universal resurrection

Jesus said that “all that are in the graves” shall come forth. It will be a wondrous site to behold when all the dead, small and great, from all the ages, are raised up to stand before the throne of Christ to be judged according to their works (Rev. 20:11-15). Some have used I Thessalonians 4:14-17 to argue that the righteous will be raised separately from the unrighteous, because the unrighteous are not mentioned there. Neither are they mentioned in I Cor.15. But the purpose in these passages is to inform and encourage Christians. Elsewhere, Paul describes a single resurrection of both the good and the bad. For instance, Paul, in defending his actions before Felix, affirmed that there would be “a {i.e., singular – ELP} resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). There is nothing in Paul’s teaching that contradicts the Lord’s plain statements regarding the universality of the resurrection.

Hear His voice – He is the authority

Jesus said those in the graves shall hear “His” voice. While Jesus was on earth, everything was subject to the voice of Christ. Evil spirits obeyed His voice and came out of those whom they possessed (e.g, Mark 9:25). Even the wind and the sea obeyed His voice (Mark 4:41). The ears of the dead also heard His voice obeyed (Mark 5:41,42; John 11:43,44). God the Father commanded all to heed the voice of His beloved Son (Matt. 17:5). When the Lord returns, He will descend with a “shout” that all shall hear and obey (I Thess. 4:16). In fact, all those who refuse to obey the Saviour this day, will one day bow the knee and call Him Lord, submitting to His authority (Phil. 2:9-11).

Two destinies – life and damnation

Jesus also clearly lays out only two possible destinies for man: life and damnation. The fact is we are all created, immortal souls; we will spend eternity somewhere. Elsewhere, Jesus describes these two destinies as life and destruction (Matt. 7:13,14). Again, Jesus describes these two destinies as “life eternal” and “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46). The words “eternal” and “everlasting” are translated from the same Greek word and show us that what is true of one regarding it’s length is also true of the other–“punishment” will last just as long as “life.”

Eternal punishment is a scary prospect. Jesus described this punishment as “outer darkness” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12). He further describes it as a place where refuse is being burned with a fire that never shall be quenched, “where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48). This burning lake of fire is described as “the second death” (Rev. 20:14). On the other hand, eternal life is described as a place where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4). The contrast between these two destinies could not be any more stark.

Moral objectivity – Good and evil

Our eternal destiny is determined by what we do in this life. Jesus said some will do “good” and others will do “evil.” The world sees good as a fluid concept. One of my secular professors once told me that good was a negotiable concept. Men and women decide what is good or what is evil. The Bible, however, tells us that good is defined by the character and nature of God (Psalm 25:8; 34:8; 119:68). Only God is intrinsically good (Matt. 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23). His word is also good (Psalm 119:39; ). Goodness, therefore, is not some ever changing, negotiable idea, it is an objective standard unalterably set by the nature of the Creator of all that is.

The day of the Lord will come as thief in the night (II Pet. 3:10). We do not know the day of our Lord’s return. But it is coming. Even if we are in the grave at that time, you and I will nevertheless answer His call and come forth. But to what end? Will it be life or death? We both will decide that for ourselves in this life.

Eric L. Padgett


Man full of leprosy

Both Matthew and Mark simply call this man a “leper.” Luke, being a physician, records that he was “full of leprosy,” being more precise medically as to his condition. He wasn’t in the beginning stages of leprosy but had been afflicted with this condition for some time for it to have advanced to this state. One can only imagine the physical and emotional toll this disease caused in its victims and it’s victims family. Mosaic Law required that the man thus afflicted be separated from everyone else (Lev. 13:4, et. al.). He also had to go around announcing his condition by declaring himself “unclean” (Lev. 13:45).

The leprosy of the Bible was apparently a term that encompassed a wider variety of conditions than the modern term leprosy conveys. When we think of leprosy today, we usually think only of Hansen’s disease which causes a loss of sensation in the nerves which leads to disfigurement. While today this condition can be treated, it does not heal itself. In the Bible, however, occasionally this disease would go away after some time (Lev. 14:1-3), not so of Hansen’s. The plague of leprosy could also be found in a woolen or linen garment (Lev. 13:47ff), which also would not be true of Hansen’s disease.

Though never expressly stated in the Bible, leprosy can be a type of sin. Leprosy made one unclean (Lev. 13:3). Sin also makes one unclean (Is. 6:5-7). Leprosy was deeper than just skin level (Lev. 13:3). Sin is also deeper than just the skin, it comes from within man, from the heart (Matt. 15:18). Leprosy required separation for the preservation of purity (Lev. 13:4). Sin requires separation to maintain purity (II Cor. 5:4-7). Leprosy could ultimately only be removed by a sacrifice of blood (Lev. 14:23). Sin can also only be removed by the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:12). So in many ways, the account of the healing of this unnamed leper also teaches us about sin.

Seeing Jesus

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him (Matt. 8:1). Jesus’ fame had spread abroad and the multitudes knew Jesus could heal their infirmities (Matt. 4:23-25). The leper came at the same time as this great multitude, even though the law required him to announce his uncleanness (Lev. 13:45). When the leper knew Who Jesus was, he sought Him out. Undoubtedly, there were many who saw the leper and recoiled in disgust at his appearance. Perhaps some, recognizing their own need for healing, overlooked the leper’s condition and paid no attention to him. But the leper disregarded all that the world thought of him that he might see Jesus.

Please note the leper’s confidence in Jesus. “Lord, if Thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Matt. 8:2). He did not say, “If I had enough faith” or “If it were only possible.” He was confident that Jesus could heal him and did everything within his power to see Him. It seems that he had heard Jesus’ teaching, or, at least, had heard about His teaching and knew of His power. We need to show the “same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end” because we are not of them that draw back to perdition but of them that believe to the saving of the soul (Heb. 6:11; 10:35-39). Let us have the leper’s confidence.

Notice also the man’s humility. He fell on his face before the Lord and besought the Lord for an answer to his need (Mark 1:4). As he prostrated himself before the Lord, in front of all the multitude, he worshiped Him (Matt. 8:2). Far too often today men seek to find Jesus without humility. They refuse His word, and substitute their own (Matt. 15:9). It is “My will” not “Thy will” be done (Matt. 26:39). But the Lord resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble (James 4:6). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up” (James 4:10).

I will. Be thou clean.

Jesus’ willingness to cleanse the leper is not to go unnoticed, either. Jesus was not only willing but reached out to this disfigured, mangled body, and he put forth His hand and touched him (Luke 5:13). In a similar fashion, the Lord left the glories of heaven, made Himself of no reputation, humbled Himself and was made in the likeness of men, partaking of flesh and blood that He might deliver us from sin (Phil. 2:5ff; Heb. 2:14ff). As under the law of Moses the priest could pronounce someone clean (Lev. 14:14-20), our High priest is moved by our infirmities (Heb. 4:15) and touches our lives with forgiveness (Heb. 2:17,18).

“Immediately the leprosy departed from him” (Luke 5:13). Jesus’ miracles were immediate. Simon’s mother-in-law was immediately healed (Luke 4:39), as was the young maiden (Luke 5:54,55) and the nobleman’s son (John 4:50-53). Can you imagine the sight of a man long deformed by leprosy being instantaneously healed! Body parts may have been restored that were not there before, right before everyone’s eyes! In the same fashion, sin is immediately forgiven, as well. Right before everyone’s eyes, the sinner is made a new creature (II Cor. 5:17). The penitent alien sinner is immersed beneath the water and a new man emerges (Rom. 6:1-4). Let us learn the lessons of the leper.


Eric L. Padgett


Jesus said men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19). This was especially true with regard to man’s attitude toward Jesus’ first coming (John 1:12). The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers took counsel together against the Lord and His anointed (Psalm 2:2; Acts 4:25-28). The rabble crowd was easily persuaded to actively seek Barabbas’ release and reject Jesus (Mark 15:8,11). He was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). Sadly, to this day the vast majority still reject the Person of Jesus Christ and His teaching (Matt. 7:13).

One of the most curious and troubling traits of man is that he always seems to want what he cannot or should not have or do what he should not do. Eve wanted forbidden fruit. Cain wanted acceptance without obedience. David wanted someone else’s wife. Judas wanted easy money. The lure of taking what is forbidden is often exciting and tantalizing, but it gives a false sense of pleasure (Heb. 11:25). Doing what you want is also the easy way in life, a life void of effort and self-discipline (Luke 9:23). It is not an enlightened existence (Rom. 1:16-32).

All throughout scripture, light is associated with truth and goodness (e.g., Psalm 27:1). God’s character is often associated with light (e.g., Psalm 37:6). To live according to the teaching of God’s word is to walk in the light (Psalm 119:105; I John 1:7). Darkness, however, is associated with evil and error. Those who are alienated from God have their understanding darkened, are ignorant and have a blindness of heart (Eph. 4:18). The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty (Psalm 74:20).

The reason for the world’s love affair with darkness is that it hides sin, or so it is believed. As long as it is dark, as long as there is no light of truth, those in sin can perpetuate their evil. But let one beam of truth pierce the darkness of sin and error, let one ray of goodness break through, and those in darkness scatter like so many roaches exposed to daylight. But the feeling of having hidden sin is only an illusion, for all things are open and naked before God (Heb. 4:13). One of the reasons, if not the main reason, those in the world often feel uncomfortable around faithful Christians is that the faithful child of God reminds sinners of their sins. The faithful child of God might well feel uncomfortable around the sinner, as well (Eph. 5:11).

Sadly, there is a group of degenerates who blatantly flaunt their filth and disobedience to God. They display openly their perversions. They have become so hardened in their reprobate minds that they are past feeling and have given themselves over to lasciviousness (Eph. 4:18,19) and refuse to retain God in their knowledge and have pleasure in every unnatural and every vile act (Rom. 1:20-32). They are so engulfed in abominations that they can no longer even blush (Jer. 6:15). They have allowed the god of this world to so blind their minds that they can no longer see the light even of the glorious gospel (II Cor. 4:4; Matt. 13:14,15). Their deeds will reward them (Rom. 2:1).

As the express image and brightness of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3), the Lord is the light of the world (John 8:12). We know also that the whole world lieth in wickedness (I John 5:19). The world hates the light of life because He reproves its evil deeds (John 3:20), though He is hated without cause (John 15:25). Since the Lord has come and lived and taught, the world now has no cloak for its sin (John 15:22). And because the world hates Him, it will also hate us as we emulate His life and follow His teaching (John 15:18,19).

Jesus said “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). Where do we stand? Do we stand in the shadows? Are we deep in the darkness of sin and error? Or do we run toward and bathe our souls in the light of God and His word? If we have been found to walk in the light in this life, in heaven there will be no night (Rev. 21:25) for the glory of God will lighten it, and the Lamb will be the light thereof (Rev. 21:23-25).

Eric L. Padgett


Jesus was invited (“called”) to a wedding, both He and His disciples. Not only was Jesus’ mother there, but the suggestion is that His whole family was there (2:12), leading some to believe that this was the marriage of either a close friend of the family or a relative. This view seems strengthened by the fact that Mary had intimate knowledge of the logistic problems of supplying the feast (2:3) and she appears to have had some power or authority over the servants, who obey her commands implicitly (2:5). It is a view further strengthened by the fact that the early disciples, Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael and probably James and John, all knew one another and Jesus and the one being married was likely familiar with them all.

Some have even gone so far as to suggest that John, Mary’s sister’s son (cf. John 19:25; Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40), was the one who was being wed, but there is no real proof of this. John does relate the story with first-hand, eyewitness knowledge (cf. 2:11). But other than these facts, all questions as to who was married are just speculations. Jewish practice required virgins to marry on a Wednesday, but the festivities lasted a full week (cf. Judges 14:12,15). Whether Jesus was called from the beginning or came later with His disciples is not clear, either (at least to this author).

The wedding was in a little village called Cana of Galilee, just under four miles north of Nazareth, Jesus’ home town, if the traditional site is accepted (and we do). Joseph was not mentioned as being present at the wedding, having died some time after Jesus’ twelfth year. This left Jesus responsible for supporting His family, being the oldest male, and He undoubtedly continued in the trade of Joseph, being Himself called “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3), until Mary’s other children were old enough to start helping support the family.

Mary’s statement to Jesus seemed designed to solicit His help in some way (John 2:3). Her subsequent command to the servants that they should do whatever Jesus told them seems to suggest that she expected Him to do something extraordinary (2:5). Perhaps Mary, who had hidden in her heart all of the remarkable incidents concerning His birth and all the things that were said about and by Him (Luke 2:19,51), was eager for Him to make known who He really was. She was attempting to insinuate herself, albeit out of love, into matters she could not possibly understand.

Jesus response to her was not mean, but stern. While Jesus had been subject to Mary and Joseph as a son in their household (Luke 2:51), now He was going to be executing the Father’s will. This expression, “Woman,” is the same term of respect He used in addressing the woman He healed which had been afflicted of an infirmity for eighteen years (Luke 13:12), He used it of the woman at the well (John 4:21), of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:10) and when addressing Mary Magdalene after His resurrection (John 20:15). This was not a term of disrespect but of honor and esteem. But He did not address her as “mother” either indicating something was different (cf. Mark 3:31-35).

Indeed, there was going to be a difference in their relationship from that moment on. Jesus said, “What have I to do with thee?” (2:4). This was not meant in a ugly, vicious way but, as Shcaff observes, “whoever makes use of the phrase rejects the interference of another, declines association with him on the matter spoken of. Hence the words reprove,—though mildly” (cf. Josh. 22:24; Judg. 11:12; II Sam. 16:10; 19:22; I Kings 17:18; II Kings 3:13; 9:18; II Chron. 35:21; Ezra 4:3 Matt. 8:29; 27:19; Mark 1:24; 5:7; Luke 4:34; 8:28).

Neither was “Mine hour is not yet come” meant to say “I will do nothing.” At least Mary did not understand it this way for she immediately commands the servants to do whatever Jesus commands them (2:5). Apparently Jesus did not mean it that way for He actually does do something about the situation. We are not told when He did something and it may have taken time for Him to do something, waiting until the exact moment that was appointed. But he was going to obey the Father.

Much has been written on the miracle of turning water into wine. It is not even clear that this miracle was widely known at the time it occurred. The servants knew about it, as did Mary, and the disciples but the governor of the feast did not know of it even after it was done (2:10). Perhaps the people did know exactly what happened at first. Undoubtedly, it was spoken about after by those who knew and news of it probably spread abroad very quickly. This act, His first miracle, demonstrated His power over the natural world.

Some have used this miracle to justify drinking alcoholic beverage, but Jesus would not have created well over one hundred gallons of intoxicating alcohol to give to His neighbors (cf. Hab. 2:15). Furthermore, it took many hours to become inebriated with the wine of the first century (cf. Acts 2:15). Rather, Jesus blessed this house and marriage with His presence, and manifested His glory. More today need to invite Jesus not only to their wedding, but also to their homes.

Eric L. Padgett


When Jesus had just been baptized by John in the Jordan river, continuing to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15), then the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended in a bodily shape like a dove and lighted upon Him. Magnifying this already awesome event, the voice of God spoke from heaven saying “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:13-17). It was immediately after this that the Lord was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matt. 4:1). There Jesus fasted for forty days and was hungry and weak (Matt. 4:2). During these forty days in the wilderness, the tempter came to Him. The following are at least some of the lessons we can learn from this account.

First, the tempter comes to us at our weakest moments. It was not a coincidence that the tempter came to Jesus when He had been fasting for forty days and was surely in a weakened condition. Generally speaking, experience has taught us that forty days nears the limits of man’s ability to safely fast. After this, serious health issues arise and death is a real possibility. Jesus was physically and mentally exhausted. When this particular temptation was over, He apparently needed the assistance of the angels, for they are found ministering unto Him (Matt. 4:11; Mark 1:13). But even in this depleted and weakened condition, Jesus was still able to overcome these temptations.

Second, the tempter comes to us when we least expect it. These temptations came right after Jesus had received approval from God in heaven. It was a glorious moment for the Lord, quite unlike His time on the cross when He cried out “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:45,46). Here, God proclaimed His approval for His beloved Son, as He did at the the mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1ff). It was similar to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when all men proclaimed Him as Messiah. Yet very soon afterword, they were calling for His crucifixion (Matt. 21:8-11; 27:20-25). It was soon after this emotional, glorious and joyous event that satan attacked. Be sober for your adversary as a roaring lion seeketh whom he may devour ( I Pet. 5:8).

The tempter hits us at our weakest points. Due to His fasting, Jesus was particularly hungry during His wilderness stay (Matt. 4:2). It is no wonder then that the tempter tempted Him to make bread out of stones. Perhaps, in the Lord’s mind, as hungry as He was, when He saw a stone it resembled bread to Him and the tempter used this association to get Jesus to think about actually giving in to this urge. On another occasion, Jesus was anxious about going to Jerusalem and suffering many things at the hand of the priests and being crucified (Matt. 16:21). When Peter urged Him not to go, it was a great temptation to Him and He rebuked Peter for it (Matt. 16:23). He did not need the further hindrances to His work.

The tempter is the tempter, not God. James said, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (James 1:13,14). Two things to note. First, the devil actively tempts us. Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, not God. God does not tempt any man. It is God Who makes a way of escape (I Cor. 10:13). Second, man, himself, is also responsible, for it is his own lusts that lure him into situations of temptation.

The tempter does not quit tempting. Luke tells us that the tempter departed from Jesus after these temptations but only “for a season” (Luke 4:13). Jesus said the apostles had continued with Him in His “temptations,” plural, not singular (Luke 22:18). The devil does not let up on us. He goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). Paul says we need the shield of faith to quench, not just one single dart, but “all” the fiery darts (plural) of the wicked (Eph. 6:16). We must resist him steadfast in the faith because he will not let up on his attack (I Pet. 5:9).

The tempter can be resisted. In every case, Jesus resisted the devil’s temptations. Some have said He could do this because He was divine. But if that is the reason, then He can no longer be our example, for we are not divine (at least not in the same sense He was). Jesus took on Himself the seed of Abraham, being made like unto His brethren in all things that He might destroy the devil and his work (Heb. 2:14-18). He was tempted in all points “like as we are,” touched with every feeling of our infirmities, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

When the tempter comes, what will we do? God commands us not to sin (I John 2:1). Our human weaknesses, however, often give us trouble. We have the example of our Saviour who overcame temptation. Temptations will surely come but as Jesus suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted (Heb. 2:18). We have but to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).


Eric L. Padgett

Wise Men

Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ is the only gospel account that records the visit of the wise men (Matt. 2:1-12). The expression “wise men” is translated from the term “magi” (Gk. magoi). The word magi might evoke in our modern mind images of David Copperfield or David Blaine, but this is not what the term suggests. Herodotus says that the magi were originally a tribe of the Medes (1:101:1). He also identifies them as priests, similar to the Levites in that they presided over the offering of sacrifices (1:132:2). These mysterious magi were renowned for their interpretation of dreams and their observations of, and their insight into, the meaning of astrological and astronomical events. They performed peculiar, public religious rites and were held in high regard by the children of the east as having special insights through these methods of divination.

What is more, being so highly esteemed, they were counted valuable as advisors to the kings, and thus they wielded great political power. When Nebuchadnezzar could not remember his dream, he turned to his magicians first to tell him the dream and then interpret it for him (Dan. 2:1,2). They objected that no king asks magicians such things, knowing that such is impossible with man. Whereas they were unsuccessful, Daniel, through revelation from God, made known the dream unto the king, giving all the glory to God (2:27-30). In return, Daniel was given gifts and made a “great man,” “ruler over the whole province of Babylon,” and “chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon” (Dan. 2:48).

The wise men who came from the east to seek Jesus were the spiritual heirs of those we meet in the book of Daniel. The Holy Spirit did not see fit to tell us how many of these men came to seek Jesus, though many have surmised that the number of kinds of gifts gives us insight into their number. Non-authoritative, secular traditions place the number anywhere between two and twelve. Equally unknown and unimportant are the names of the wise men, though secular history agains supplies alternatives: Gaspar, Melchoir and Balthasar, though other cultures offer other names.

Some have objected to the King James translation of “wise men.” However, Daniel was made “chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon” (Dan. 2:47). Daniel referred to the magi as wise men (Dan. 2:10-12, 13, 14, 18, 24, 27, 48; 4:6, 18; 5:7, 8, 15). Jeremiah refers to a rab-mag, or chief of the magi (Jer. 39:13). In being made chief of the wise men, or magi, Daniel would have been considered a rab-mag. Since this position was usually a hereditary position, perhaps this explains, in part, why there were forces seeking Daniel’s death, being a foreigner.

Several things can be gathered from the statement of the wise men about this event (Matt. 2:2). First, these wise men knew about the birth of Jesus. But how could they have known? Daniel’s prophecy pinpointed the time when the Messiah was to appear (Dan. 2:44; 7:9-27; 9:20-27). The Jews still living abroad, as well as the wise men, would have had access to these scriptures, or at least the teachings of the scriptures. Further, since God speaks to the wise men in having them turn in another direction without telling Herod (Matt. 2:12), it is possible that He had already spoken to them earlier, as well, directing them further.

Second, the wise men also allude to the star. We already know the wise men were students of the stars and thought that they could divine the world through them. But perhaps, having had access to the writings of Daniel and other Old Testament authors, they had read Balaam’s prophecy of a star coming out of Jacob (Num. 24:17), Balaam himself being a child of the east (Num. 22:5). The star which the wise men saw was no ordinary star and does not find any fulfillment in any alignment of the planets. This star first moved and then stood still over then house where Jesus was (Matt. 2:9).

Third, they understood that this child was born “king of the Jews” and was worthy of worship. The wise men traveled a great distance, perhaps a thousand miles to see Jesus. This no doubt entailed a great expense and great risk. What would Herod, notorious for killing any who stood in his way to challenge him, do to them? Would Herod consider this trespassing of his land a prelude to war? The fact that their lives were hazarded is confirmed by the fact that the Lord sent them out another way instead of returning to Herod (Matt. 2:12). Yet, despite all this, the wise men risked all to fall down before the young child and worship Him (Matt. 2:11). Contrast the actions of the wise men with that of Herod who only feigned interest in Him so that He might get him out of the way (Matt. 2:16-18).

These wise men sought Jesus at great expense of money and time and at great risk of life and limb. Some “Christians” today would never confess the Lord if they thought it might cost them money, friends or take time away from their precious entertainment. The wise men truly intended to worship Him as Lord and did so worship Him. Many “Christians” today act as if they are Lord. The wise men traveled perhaps a thousand miles so that they could find Him. Some today won’t travel across town to worship the Lord. The wise men undoubtedly had searched the scriptures and listened to God. Some “Christians” today have never opened their Bible or know what the Bible teaches and, perhaps, don’t even care.

Those wise men sought Jesus. Wise men today still seek Him (Acts 17:27).

Eric L. Padgett

In The Beginning Was The Word

One of the most profound statements in all the Bible begins John’s Gospel account: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Holy Spirit through John designed this statement, no doubt, to both draw our minds back to creation in Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”) and to enhance our limited understanding of it. This scripture ties together many thoughts and passages throughout the Old Testament and the New to give us deeper insight into the nature of our God.

John reveals that Jesus is the Word, the Logos. In general, words express ideas, they convey meaning. I am trying to convey certain ideas through the use of words as I write this entry. As the Word, Jesus reveals to us the truths that God wants us to know. Jesus said, “As My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). Again, “I speak that which I have seen with My Father” (John 8:38). Once more, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49). As the Word, Jesus faithfully represents to us what the Father would have us to know and understand.

The use of the term “word” or “logos” also ties together creation and revelation. God created the world by speaking it into existence. Eight times in Genesis chapter one the expression “and God said” is found as it relates to the act of creation. This fact is revealed over and over again in scripture. “He commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 148:5). “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…He spoke, and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6,9). God brought this world into existence through the use of the Word.

In the New Testament, Jesus is identified as the Creator. John writes, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). Paul declares of Jesus “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Colossians 1:16-17). The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that God “made the worlds” by His Son and that He now continues to uphold all things by the Word of His power (Heb. 1:2,3).

We further know from John’s opening declaration that the relationship which the Word sustained to God was intimate and sublime. Just as Genesis 1:1 tells us that God was already present in the beginning before creation, we learn this also of the Word. The Word simply “was.” Not only was the Word in the beginning, but He was both with God and He was God. He was God. Not just a god. Not a part of God. He was fully God and yet He was also distinct from God the Father so that He could be said to be “with” Him. This is why in the creation we hear God say “let Us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26).

But the most profound idea found in these opening verses of John’s account is found in verse 14: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The eternal Word became flesh. God became man. Why do this? “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. . .Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:10,14).

Paul stated that Jesus “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

This is how John began his account of the life of Christ. Matthew wrote to show the Jews that Jesus fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament as the Messiah. Mark wrote to show that Jesus was the Son of God. Luke wrote to demonstrate the humanity of Jesus. But John wrote to show us that Jesus was God and man. In his epistle, John wrote, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (I John 1:1). John touched and handled the Word of Life.

Eric L. Padgett