January 2019 Bible Questions and Answers

Questions:
1.  How does a person repent of the sin of divorce?
2.  What was the purpose of anointing of oil?  Should we still do this today?
3.  What should a person do if they want to go to a brother about something, but they feel the person with whom they want to address an issue is intimidating or unapproachable?
4.  Is there any numerical significance to Jesus being dead three days before rising again?

How does a person repent of the sin of divorce?

The term repent literally means “to change one’s mind.” Biblical repentance is brought about by having the same kind of grief over one’s sin that God has (2 Cor. 7:10). One can choose to repent of any sin and receive immediate and complete forgiveness by God, including the sin of divorce.

This will result in one “performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20), which is also known as “bear(ing) fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8).  One will very earnestly and eagerly strive to clear themselves, be indignant over their sin, fear the punishment of God, be passionate about changing for the better, and be willing to accept any consequences which come their way in this life due to their wrongdoing (2 Cor. 7:11).

One of those consequences those who repent of divorce would willingly accept includes the limited options the Lord gives to those who divorce or separate from their spouses.  To those who divorce for reasons other than their spouse’s fornication, remarriage would be considered adultery (Matt. 19:9). Thus, their only options would be to remain unmarried or else be reconciled to their spouse (1 Cor. 7:10-11). Those penitent over divorce for reasons other than fornication could choose either option and be right in God’s eyes.

What was the purpose of anointing of oil? Should we still do this today?

I’m assuming the question has in mind James 5:14-16:

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

In biblical times, one would anoint someone with oil for medicinal purposes (Lk. 10:34), since such was one of the major forms of medicinal aid at that time. Also, those with the miraculous spiritual gift of healing would sometimes anoint others with oil as part of the miraculous healing process (Mk. 6:13).  If the anointing of oil done by elders to the sick person was done to miraculously heal him, then such would not be required today since miracles done through men have ceased upon the completion of God’s Word (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

If the elders’ anointing of the sick Christian with oil was done for medicinal purposes, then James is basically saying that sick Christians should be visited by the elders of the church who would, if necessary, help administer appropriate medicinal care.  Such would certainly be appropriate for elders to do as part of their job as shepherds who set the proper example, and it would also be appropriate for any other Christian to do today (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8; John 10:2-5; 1 Pet. 5:2-3; Matt. 25:34-40).

It is more likely that the anointing of oil in James 5:14-16 was medicinal rather than miraculous because verse 15 literally says in the Greek that “the VOW of faith,” not the “prayer” of faith, will “save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” Nowhere in the N.T. is this Greek word for “vow” used to refer to prayer.  Furthermore, the sick person is guaranteed forgiveness over any sins committed (v. 16). Miraculous healing of illness does not guarantee forgiveness of sins, nor does prayer by itself. Only penitent prayer which acknowledges sin does that (1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22).

Since James is literally saying that the sick man is taking a VOW of faith that is guaranteed to save him, raise him up, and forgive all his sins, what’s actually being said is that the sick man is making a penitent commitment to God and God is responding by healing him and forgiving him.  Meanwhile, the elders are there visiting the sick man and administering medicinal aid to him in the form of anointing him with oil. Thus, only in the sense of visiting and offering medicinal aid should this “anointing with oil” be done today.

What should a person do if they want to go to a brother about something, but they feel the person with whom they want to address an issue is intimidating or unapproachable?

If this person is foolish due to being completely closed to any sort of reproof or correction (Prov. 12:1, 15), ultimately all tactics used by anyone to try to reach him will fail and backfire. Thus, don’t make further attempts (Matt. 7:6; 10:14; Prov. 26:4) if previous attempts or observations have led you to such a conclusion (Prov. 9:7-8; 26:5).

If you think that the person might ultimately be open to a kind correction, yet you hesitate out of fear or the perception of them being unapproachable, then consider getting truly befriending them first.  After all, people tend to follow those whom they already know rather than strangers (John 10:2-4). You yourself are probably more open to the rebukes of trusted friends (Prov. 27:6) rather than casual acquaintances or strangers to whom your defenses might likely go up as a reflex.

There’s a reason God wants us to be as close to each other as family when we correct each other (1 Tim. 5:1-2) and commands us to open our homes to each other and live in harmony with each other (Rom. 12:13, 16; 1 Pet. 4:9).  That reason is because we are to correct each other when necessary (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19-20), and correction is more likely heeded when given by trusted, close friends.

Is there any numerical significance to Jesus being dead for three days before rising again?

Rising from the dead after three days would be a specific fulfillment of prophecy (Matt. 12:40; Mk. 8:31; 9:31; John 2:19-22).  As to why the specific number of days was three, it could be that it was God’s plan to use Jonah’s burial inside of a fish for three days before being “resurrected” through regurgitation to foreshadow Christ’s burial inside the earth for three days before being resurrected from the dead (Matt. 12:40; cf. Heb. 10:1a).

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