December 2017 Bible Questions & Answers

Topics:  who can partake of communion, social drinking and 1 Timothy 5:23, lifting holy hands, the identity of the death angel in Egypt, the meaning of Revelation’s “shortly come to pass”, the reason God created us

1.  Is the Lord’s Supper for anyone who has ever been baptized, or is it just for faithful members of the Lord’s church?

The directives Paul gave concerning the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17ff) were given to “the church of God…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Cor. 1:2).  One is added to God’s church and becomes a saint through penitent baptism into Christ due to one’s faith in Him (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:1-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4-5).

Thus, the Lord’s Supper is for those baptized into Christ and thereby made Christians.

The purpose of the Supper is for us individually and collectively to remember the death of Christ while examining ourselves (1 Cor. 11:23-28), not considering whether those around us should participate.  Thus, the spiritual status of each participant is between them and God.

“Unworthily” (v. 27) refers to partaking of the Supper in a manner not in keeping with Paul’s directives, not whether the participant has unrepentant sin in their lives.

2.  The Bible warns us not to get drunk (Eph. 5:18).  Then in 1 Timothy 5:23 it says to take a little wine for your stomach & frequent illnesses.  If a Christian has a glass of wine once or twice a month at home, is he/she sinning?

“Do not get drunk with wine” (Eph. 5:18) in the original Greek literally means, “Do not GROW drunk with wine.”  “Get drunk” (methusko) is an inceptive verb, condemning the entire process of becoming drunk (which would naturally include the first drink.)

A similar command is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, which commands Christians to be “sober” (nepho), literally, “to abstain from wine,” “to be free from the influence of intoxicants.”  Thus, God does not want Christians to drink intoxicating beverages.

That said, one must take into account the entirety of scriptural teaching in order to find the whole truth (Ps. 119:160).  This brings us to 1 Timothy 5:23, which has Paul under inspiration commanding Timothy to “use a little wine” for medicinal purposes (“for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”)

Thus, God wants Christians to abstain from alcoholic beverages, with the exception of ingesting small amounts for medicinal rather than recreational purposes.

Keep in mind that the biblical usage of the term “wine” is very different from how we use it today.  If one says “wine” today, one is automatically referring to an intoxicating beverage.  However, in Bible times the words translated “wine” could refer to anything from an intoxicating beverage (Prov. 20:1), to freshly squeezed grape juice (Is. 16:10), to the grapevine itself (Num. 6:4).

Thus, do not think that Jesus turning water into wine (John 2) would contradict Him inspiring Paul through the Spirit to command Christians to abstain from intoxicating beverages except for medicinal purposes.  Jesus did not sin, nor would He place a stumbling block in other’s paths to sin.  This is why one can safely conclude that the “wine” He miraculously made was freshly squeezed grape juice rather than an intoxicating beverage.

3.  The Bible mentions several times throughout the Old and New Testaments about lifting up holy hands.  Are we required to lift holy hands during prayer according to 1 Timothy 2:8?

Many during biblical times prayed while lifting up their hands (Ps. 141:2; Ez. 9:5-6); however, other postures are mentioned too (Lk. 18:13).  So “lifting up holy hands” is not about posture in prayer.

It should be considered a figurative way to describe what God is really commanding here:  not posture, but holiness & spirituality in prayer & in worship altogether (“holy hands…without wrath or doubting”).

Additionally, the command is given specifically to “the men…in every place,” not to women.  This is not to say that God does not want women to pray (1 Cor. 11:5, 13; 1 Th. 5:17).

Contextually, Paul is entering into a discussion about the different roles men and women play in the church (1 Tim. 2:8-13; cf. 3:14-15).  He tells women to not teach or exercise authority over men in the church (vs. 11-12), but rather to be modest and respectable in attire and involved in good works (vs. 9-10).

By specifying that He wants men who are not hot-tempered or weak in faith to pray with holiness, God is basically laying down the qualifications for those whom He wants to take the lead in acts of worship in the church.

4.  I think that the death angel in Egypt sounded like Satan.  What about that?

A careful study of the scriptures that describe the tenth plague of death upon all the firstborn of Egypt shows that it was actually the Lord Himself who struck down the firstborn rather than an angel or Satan (Ex. 11:4-5; 12:12, 29-30).

5.  What does “shortly come to pass” in Revelation mean?

This phrase and others like it are found throughout Revelation (1:1, 3; 22:7, 12, 20).  Many interpret this to mean that all of what is described in the book must have been fulfilled completely within a short time after the book had been written.  However, that cannot be the case for two reasons:  first, because the book contains prophecies about the end of the world and the final judgment, both of which have not happened yet as of two thousand years since the book’s writing.  Secondly, because limiting fulfillment of the visions of Revelation to the decades & centuries immediately after it was written would make the book inapplicable to Christians today and throughout most of the past two thousand years.

Thus, “shortly come to pass” & “the time is at hand” means that the visions described in the book were about to begin to be fulfilled, very similar to how Jesus and John stated that the kingdom of heaven was “at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).  They meant that the kingdom of heaven, the church, was about to come into existence, but it would continue until the end of time.  In like manner, the events of this book were ready to begin, but they would not end until Christ’s second coming.

6.  Why did God create us?

Two passages of scripture tell us why:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Eph. 2:10)

The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  (Eccl. 12:13)

God created us to serve Him and obey Him by doing the good works He told us to do which He had in mind before He created us.