May 2021 Bible Questions & Answers

  1. Is it sinful to spell out the name of God?
  2. Are there any Messianic prophecies that are being fulfilled today?
  3. In Matthew 21:43, Jesus says the kingdom of God will be taken away from the chief priests and Pharisees. This implies that the sinful Pharisees had authority in the kingdom of God. How could those who didn’t believe in Jesus have such authority?

Is it sinful to spell the name of God?

Sin is defined by Scripture as lawlessness, the breaking of God’s laws (1 John 3:4; Rom. 4:15; 7:8).  Concerning man’s usage of the name of God, we are commanded to treat his name in a “hallowed,” or holy or reverent, way (Matt. 6:9; cf. Is. 29:23; Lk. 1:49; Ex. 20:7).  Yet the specifics on how we are to treat his name as holy are not found in Scripture.  History tells us that the Jews refused to even speak the name of God, but inspired Scripture does not show that God had commanded them to do so.  In like manner, Scripture does not demand of his followers that they not spell out his name as part of treating it in a hallowed way.  Thus, while one may personally choose to not spell out God’s name due to revering it, one is not divinely required to do that in God’s Word.  Scripture shows that treating God’s name in a reverent way means that we always speak of it in an honorable, purposeful way that would bring glory to him and refrain from speaking it in a flippant, meaningless, vulgar way.

Are there any Messianic prophecies that are being fulfilled today?

Most of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the person, character, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth.  Any that would still be fulfilled today would have to do with foretelling of what Jesus still does for us today while he is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Mk. 16:19).

One such prophecy which comes to mind is Isaiah 53:11-12:  “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”  There are two items worthy of note in Isaiah’s prophecy here. 

First, many will be made “to be accounted righteous” by “his knowledge.”  Peter would later tell Christians that God’s “grace and peace” is “multiplied” to them “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet. 1:2).  He would go on to say God’s divine power “has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” specifically “through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” and that it was by that knowledge that God “has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (vs. 3-4).  Peter then urged Christians to add to their faith the qualities of virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, adding that “if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 5-8), “if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (v. 10), and it would be “in this way” that “there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 11).  He would later mention that one “escape(s) the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2:20).  Thus, we see Isaiah’s prophecy of “by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous” continually fulfilled today by Christians who come to know Jesus in the ways taught by Peter.

Secondly, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah “makes intercession for the transgressors.”  The New Testament repeatedly teaches that Jesus continually intercedes on behalf of faithful Christians today (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1).  Thus, this Messianic prophecy is still being fulfilled today, and how thankful I am that it is!

In Matthew 21:43, Jesus says the kingdom of God will be taken away from the chief priests and Pharisees.  This implies that the sinful Pharisees had authority in the kingdom of God.  How could those who didn’t believe in Jesus have such authority?

This statement was made in the context of Jesus giving the parable of the wicked tenants (Matt. 21:33-41), and before that the parable of the two sons (vs. 28-32).  Matthew and Mark’s accounts show that Jesus was speaking to the chief priests and Pharisees in response to challenges they had given to him (Matt. 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-12:1), but Luke’s account brings out that he was also speaking to the Jewish crowds (Lk. 20:9).  Since this took place in the public setting of the temple (Matt. 21:23), it makes sense that crowds of Jews were present and listening (cf. Matt. 21:26).

In the parable of the wicked tenants, the owner of the vineyard sent servants to the vineyard repeatedly to get its fruit, but the tenants continually harmed and killed those servants (vs. 34-36).  Finally, the owner of the vineyard sent his son, and the tenants killed him also (vs. 37-39).  At this point Jesus asked, “When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”  The chief priests and Pharisees replied, “he will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons” (vs. 40-41).  At this point Jesus told them, “…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (v. 43).  Thus, the owner of the vineyard is God, the son is Jesus, and the servants would be the prophets who had continually been sent to the Jews and rejected and killed.  This would make the tenants not only the chief priests and Pharisees, but also the Jews as a whole; it would also make the Gentiles to be the “other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons,” the ones to whom Jesus said the kingdom of God would be given, the “people producing its fruits.”

When the gospel of the kingdom (Acts 8:12) was preached in the Christian age, it was first proclaimed to the Jews (Rom. 1:16; Acts 3:25-26; cf. Acts 1:8).  Yet the Jews as a whole rejected the gospel, and so the apostles and prophets proclaimed it to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-47; 18:5-6; Rom. 11:7-12), who tended to be more receptive to it than the Jews (Acts 13:48).  Thus, when Jesus told the chief priests and Pharisees, as well as the Jews who were listening, that “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits,” he was referring to how the gospel would first be preached to the Jews but then would be preached to the Gentiles who would be more open to obeying it after the Jews as a whole rejected it.  The perceived implication that the sinful Pharisees would have authority in the kingdom of God is thus mistaken.