November 2020 Bible Questions & Answers

1. 1 Samuel 16:14 refers to an evil spirit of the Lord. What is this spirit?
2. Are all men created in the image of God, or was that just Adam and Eve?
3. Why is the Jewish race determined through the mother instead of the father? What’s the symbolism here?
4. Why are Christians punished worse than the unbeliever if we commit the same sins, even if we pray about it?
5. Is it wrong for a woman to baptize someone?
6. Were preachers ordained in the New Testament?

1 Samuel 16:14 refers to an evil spirit of the Lord. What is this spirit?

The Bible mentions several occasions in which “a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented” Saul (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10; 19:9, ESV).  Some understandably view this as an Old Testament example of demon possession, but this view is mistaken when one closely compares Saul to the New Testament examples of evil spirits.  In the New Testament, miraculous power was required to cast out evil spirits from people (Matt. 17:14-18; Lk. 11:14; Mk. 1:32-34; etc.).  Yet in Saul’s case the Bible says that David was able to refresh Saul by playing his lyre, thus causing the harmful spirit to depart from him (1 Sam. 16:23).  In the New Testament, casting out demons was considered to be a miraculous act.  But in Saul’s case, all he needed was soothing music. 

This shows that Saul was probably borderline insane and had severe mental problems rather than actually being demon possessed.  Thus, “the harmful spirit from the Lord” was likely mental problems.

Are all men created in the image of God, or was that just Adam and Eve?

The Bible indicates that all of humanity is made in the image of God, not just Adam and Eve.  There are several scriptural indicators of this.  First, consider when God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26) upon making the first man at the beginning of time.  The Hebrew term translated man in this verse is adam, which would come to be known as the name of the first man (“Adam”) but also is the generic term for all of mankind.  The Hebrew term adam is used in other passages which clearly refer to humanity in general (Gen. 6:1-7; Ex. 4:11; Job 34:15; Ps. 8:4; etc.).  Secondly, other passages in the Bible speak of God making man in his image in contexts that clearly refer to all of humanity rather than just Adam and Eve (Gen. 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; James 3:9).

Thus, it is clear that all of us are created in God’s image.  Such has always been the case.

Why is the Jewish race determined through the mother instead of the father? What’s the symbolism here?

Shecaniah’s call for the Jews to put away not only their foreign wives but the children produced by marriage with these foreign wives, and that this be done “according to the Law” (Ezra 10:1-3), shows that hundreds of years after Moses established the Torah, the Jews’ understanding of the Law of Moses was that it taught that if the mother of a child is Jewish, that child is Jewish.  Conversely, if the mother is not Jewish, then the child is not Jewish even if the father is Jewish.  The Jews of Ezra’s day would not have put away children they considered to be Jewish.  Interestingly, there is no explicit command in the Torah specifying Jewish matrilineal descent, even though clearly the Jews of Ezra’s day considered such to be the case.  Yet the Code of Jewish Law clearly teaches such today, and rabbinic tradition going all the way back to biblical times has also taught that Jewishness has followed the mother.

I can only speculate as to the meaning behind it.  In my research I came across a Jewish source who said the purpose behind it was to keep the family line purely Jewish due to the common practice of the men having concubines and mistresses.  A child therefore would be considered Jewish only if a Jewish wife was pregnant.  The example of Hagar and Ishmael and Sarah and Isaac shows that the children of concubines and slaves were not considered heirs unless there was no child by the legal wife.  More study needs to be done as I’m sure there’s more to this question than the answer I’ve thus far provided.

Why are Christians punished worse than the unbeliever if we commit the same sins, even if we pray about it?

God does imply a degree of worse punishment for the apostate Christian than the unbeliever who had never known the way of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:20-22; Luke 12:47-48).  This is because the believer who willfully, unrepentantly sins is “crucifying once again the Son of God…and holding him up to contempt” (Heb. 6:4-6).  He has “spurned the Son of God…profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:26-29).

Yet, the Christian who penitently prays about his sins to God, confessing them and asking for forgiveness and strength to overcome them, will receive no eternal punishment.  Instead, he will receive forgiveness and eternal life (1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22; 2 Cor. 7:10).

Is it wrong for a woman to baptize someone?

The command to teach the gospel to lost souls and baptize them was given to ALL Christians, not just males (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15).

True, women are commanded to not teach or exercise authority over men (1 Tim. 2:11-12), but that command is limited to within the church (1 Tim. 3:14-15).  No one is within the church until AFTER baptism (1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Eph. 1:22-23).  Thus, no scripture prohibits a woman from teaching the gospel to anyone who is lost – male or female – and baptizing them into the church.

However, if this freedom a woman has offends a brother or sister weaker in knowledge, she should give up her freedom for the sake of unity (Rom. 14:1-15:2).

Were preachers ordained in the New Testament?

The practice of ordaining religious officers as is done in denominations today originated with Catholicism when they came up with the idea of sacraments, particularly the sacrament called Holy Orders.  This is the special appointment of bishops, priests, deacons, and sub-deacons by means of a special ceremony in which those being ordained receive a special unction (anointing), which supposedly transfer to them an essence of such an exalted “spiritual” nature that they could never forfeit it.  In other words, after being ordained no personal sin could make one unfit to function in that office.  There is no special parallel to this in the New Testament.  In fact, this hierarchy system of Catholicism was patterned after the governmental structure of pagan Rome.

The closest biblical similarity is found in the scriptural practice of laying on of hands, which was done for a variety of reasons, including appointing someone to a particular office (Num. 27:18-23; Acts 6:1-6; 13:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:19-22).  However, unlike Catholic and some Protestant ordination, the New Testament doesn’t seem to record any sort of special ceremony commanded when one appoints someone to a church office via the laying on of hands, nor does it indicate that by appointing them one is granting that they would always be qualified for that office no matter what.