July 20, 2003


Mark tells us in Mark 6:7-13 that Jesus called the 12 apostles "to Him, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff -- no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts -- but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. Also He said to them, 'In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!' So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them."

The names of these 12 apostles are recorded in Matthew's parallel account of this incident, along with several other facts that Mark did not mention. Matthew informs us that Jesus at this time instructed them not to go among the Gentiles or Samaritans, but only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

One interesting thing about this incident is that it points out that the so-called lost ten tribes had not become completely obliterated as many commentators assume. At the time that the Jews from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi returned to the land of Palestine from Babylonian exile, some from the other ten tribes returned with them as well, and some individuals from those ten tribes had never been completely removed from the land. Thus, when Ezra and the other returnees from exile sacrificed in the land, they offered sacrifices for all 12 tribes and not just for two or three tribes. See Ezra 2:70 and 6:17. This also explains how a prophetess from the tribe of Asher could be known and identified as such in Luke 2:36. They were lost spiritually, but not all of them had become lost physically.

Matthew's account of this incident also gives us insight into the nature of the inspiration of the apostles: "Do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak, for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Matthew 10:19-20).

Some students see a difficulty between the instructions recorded in Mark 6:8-9 and those recorded in Matt. 10:8-10. A casual reading might leave the impression that Matthew is saying they should not take a staff with them, nor wear sandals on their feet, while Mark's account clearly says they are to have both. A more careful reading of Matthew's account shows that Jesus was forbidding them to take an extra pair of sandals, or an extra staff. They were to take only their immediate needs, stay wherever they were welcomed, and live on whatever provisions were made available to them until the time came to move to the next town.

--Clarence R. Johnson


Bible believers must distinguish between the theories of men and the teachings of the Bible. It is currently popular to develop fantastic theories about the future based on a patchwork arrangement of misapplied Bible passages. Anyone daring to challenge those theories is accused of disbelieving the Bible itself. Such accusations result from equating human theories with Bible teaching.

The Bible teaches that Christians will be "caught up" to meet Christ in the air at the time of His second coming (1 Thess. 4:13- 17). In the Latin Vulgate (the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures translated into the Latin language), the Latin word for "rapture" is used to translate the Greek word that in our English Bibles is translated "caught up." If that word were only used to refer to the ascension of Christians at the second coming of Christ, perhaps no serious objection would be offered. But the word "rapture" today is usually used to refer to the premillennial theory that Christians will be snatched out of this world before the actual second coming of Jesus. This aspect of premilennialism pictures the unconverted as being in a state of bewilderment at the "sudden, mysterious disappearance of millions of people." According to the theory, worldly people will remain on the earth, and life will go on here for them. This rapture theory is not taught in the Bible.

The Bible teaches that Christ is coming again (Acts 1:11) and that the time of His coming is not known to men (Man. 24:36-39). Both the righteous and the wicked will be resurrected the same time, John 5:28-29. The righteous (including those still living at the time of Christ's return) will ascend to meet Jesus in the air, 1 Thess. 4:13-17. In the last day, John 6:40, 44, there will be a judgment, John 12:48. After that judgment the righteous will be permitted to enter heaven and the wicked will be consigned to hell, Matt. 25:31-46.

The Bible does not teach several future comings of Jesus, nor several future resurrections.

--Clarence R. Johnson


In Bible times, when most men walked wherever they went on hot, dusty roads, washing another person's feet was a common an act of hospitality. Jesus did not institute that practice. Similar customs included greeting with a kiss, anointing one's head with oil, etc. (Luke 7:36-50). These were acts of respect and hospitality. Most of us can see that Christians in the 21st century do not need to pour oil on a guest's head to show hospitality or respect. That is not our custom. We show the same respect and hospitality in other ways. The same is true of the kiss of greeting, footwashing, etc.

In John 13:3-17, Jesus washed His disciples' feet and declared that He had left them an example to follow. Again, most of us will have little trouble seeing that Jesus was teaching a lesson on humility. He had no intention of binding a first century Jewish custom on all people of all times - yet His lesson does apply to Christians in every age. Christians should demonstrate that they have learned the lesson by rendering whatever service their brethren need, no matter how menial or humble it may be. To limit the teaching of this passage to the single act of feetwashing is to miss the point entirely. Jesus was not instituting an empty ceremony of washing feet that needed no washing.

Some speak of feetwashing as a "church ordinance" to be performed as a ritual during worship services. 1 Tim. 5:9-10 shows that feetwashing belongs along-side lodging strangers, relieving the afflicted, and other home duties. The practices named are aspects of brotherly kindness. God never intended that man pick out one of these practices and exalt it into a "church ordinance" or an act of worship.

--Clarence R. Johnson


[Editor's Note: Many of our readers are probably aware that instrumental music was not used in the worship of the first century church. In fact, instruments were not introduced into the Roman Catholic Church until more than 600 years after time of Christ. The Greek Orthodox Church has been very slow to allow them. Most of the major Protestant churches began without them. The following article was originally entitled "Gleanings of Travel." We thought our readers would find it interesting, informative, and perhaps amusing. -CRJ]

While in Bangor, Maine, in bro. Ralph Smart's study, I had opportunity to examine a book called: HYMN STUDIES -ANNOTATED METHODIST HYMNAL by Charles S. Nutter, Tilton, New Hampshire; Feb. 15, 1884. 

On page 18 of this book there was hymn no. 27, "Praise The Lord." We give the first and fourth stanzas:

1. "Praise the Lord! his glories show, Saints within his courts below, Angels round his throne above, All that see and share his love.

4. Strings and voices, hands and hearts In the concert bear your parts; All that breathe, your Lord adore, Praise him, praise him evermore!  Henry F. Lyte, Alt."

What interested us particularly was the comment which followed the above hymn. Mr. Nutter, author of this Methodist Hymnal, said: "The fourth stanza would not have been admitted into any hymn book by the early Methodist. Instruments of music in the church, and especially those with strings" were an abomination to them.

"Dr. Adam Clarke [noted Methodist commentator] said, 'Music as a science I admire; but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor.'

"John Wesley ["founder" of Methodism] said, 'I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither heard not seen.'"

Readers of church history are familiar with these "quotes" - but in a Methodist Hymnal??? Hummmmm!!

--Robert F. Turner, Plain Talk, Vol. 7, Number 4



July 25-27

Washington, NJ

Brent Hunter

August 11-14

Watertown, NY

Different Speakers

Jumping at conclusions is not half as good exercise as digging for the facts.


Clarence R. Johnson
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