November 16, 2003


Mark writes, "The multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 'I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.' Then His disciples answered Him, 'How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?' He asked them, 'How many loaves do you have?' And they said, 'Seven.' So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha." (Mark 8:1-10).

Dalmanutha is another name for Magdala. In addition to the 4,000 men mentioned by both writers, an unspecified number of women and children were also fed on this occasion, Matt. 15:38.

Some Bible critics cite this passage as contradicting what Mark himself had written in chapter 6. They claim Mark records two contradictory accounts of the same incident. Even a child can see that Mark has recorded two similar but very distinct events.

In chapter six, 5,000 were fed with five barley loaves and two small fish. On this second occasion, the Lord began with seven loaves, a few fish, and fed 4,000. In the first case, 12 baskets full of fragments were collected, while in the second incident, there were seven large baskets full. The baskets in the first incident were known in the Greek language as KOPHINOS. This was a wicker basket often used as a measuring device. The baskets in the feeding of the 4,000 were SPURIS, a large hamper, sometimes large enough to hold a full grown man, Acts 9:25.

The feeding of the 5,000 took place in the area of Bethsaida-Julias on the east bank of the upper Jordan about a mile north of the Sea of Galilee, Luke 9:10. The feeding of the 4,000 took place in the region of Decapolis a few miles south of the Sea of Galilee, Mark 7:32.

But the strongest proof of all that these were two very distinct events is that Jesus Himself referred to both incidents in the same speech in Mark 8:19-20 and Matt. 16:9-15. The critic who lights upon these verses as a Bible "contradiction" is desperate indeed for material to work with. God's word will not be defeated. 

--Clarence R. Johnson


[Editor's Note: The following article was written several years ago by a preacher in the Baptist denomination, but we believe it deserves further circulation and consideration. -CRJ]

The conducting of religious services used to be with an acute awareness that God was holy and that His message was very serious. Gradually this has changed until presently God seems to be "one of the boys" and the gospel just another funny story. It is felt that people must be entertained religiously. In order to meet the demands for this kind of "ministry" there has arisen a generation of platform clowns and pulpit jokers. The gospel has become entertainment, its declaration a joke.

The latest "gospel music" must have a jungle beat. Turn up the amplifiers to a deafening roar and let the singers contort and gyrate like a chorus of dancing girls. This will get the crowd in the mood to hear the pulpit joker whose little sermonette is to follow.

When he steps forward prepare for joke one, joke two, and maybe joke ten before anything from the Bible is sprung upon the unsuspecting audience. This joker must slip up on the blind side and try to get across this little idea of God's love without any painful reaction on their part. Never mind the terrible truths concerning man's sin, God's holiness, Calvary's anguish, and the judgment to come. Rather, "Smile, God loves you" and that without seeming regard for salvation's terrible cost and the sinner's need to repent. In far too many instances the platform and pulpit of the church and evangelistic hall have degenerated into places of cheap worldly entertainment. Jesus Christ has become the "superstar" of the entertainers and God is just "the man upstairs." Frankly, I'm weary of these platform clowns and pulpit jokers.

Whether any poor lost sinner is ever saved in such a confused atmosphere is highly doubtful. That no saint is edified by such a perversion is absolutely certain.

God's Holy Spirit will work these works of grace in men's heart when God's servants follow the biblical pattern of true spiritual service as they hold forth the word of life. To eclipse that word with carnal music and lighthearted preaching is criminal.

--Norvin T. Jones


"Reuben, Simeon, and Levi marriage"? Now we have heard of a "Reuben sandwich," but a "Reuben marriage"? Leah had one.

And Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, "because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me." Then she conceived again and born a son and said, "because the Lord has heard that I am unloved." "So she named him Simeon. And she conceived again and bore a son and said, 'Now this time my husband will become attached to me' Therefore he was named Levi'" (Gen.29:32-34).

"Surely now my husband will love me" cannot refer to sex - she had that.

"I am unloved"? Did not Jacob provide her housing, food, and clothing? Is that not "love"? It is, and it is important. But something was lacking. There is another kind of love - a love she needed and wanted.

"Become attached"? But wasn't she married to Jacob? What does she mean? She felt Jacob was "detached." Not legally - they were married. Not physically -- they had children.

Detached - 3. Marked by an absence of emotional involvement and an aloof impersonal objectivity. (American Heritage Dictionary, Third edition).

Is there another kind of "love" - a love of emotional attachment...?

Romance - 1.b. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people, especially that characterized by a high level of purity and devotion; love: They kept the romance alive in their marriage for 35 years. (Ibid.)

I don't know how this may have been reflected in their culture. Today, it may be in such simple things as holding hands, enjoying a walk together, time for chitchat, a gentle touch, "sweet nothing?" whispered into the ear... well, you use your own imagination.

A Reuben sandwich - good. A "Reuben marriage - cut the romance" - not good. "Reuben," "Simeon," and "Levi'- names that stand as testimonials to what this woman (and many women today) wanted so badly but did not have. Remember men, the Lord "sees" (Reuben) and "hears" (Simeon) the "affliction" of a woman that longs for such "attachment" (Levi). 

--Steve Fontenot, Bible Comments, Issue # 22


Did you know that the "tongues" or languages referred to in Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 14, and other New Testament passages involved intelligently speaking in a language that was known and understood by one or more of the members of the assembly? Acts 2:6-8; 1 Cor. 14:27-28.

And did you know that the original Greek text of 1 Cor. 14 contains no Greek equivalent for the word "unknown"? Note that in translations where the word "unknown" is used, the word is printed in italics, indicating that it was added to the text by the translators without any corresponding word in the Greek text. 

Did you know that the "new tongue" of Mark 16:17 were new to the speakers but not to the hearers? The promise of Mark 16:17 is fulfilled in Acts 2:1, 11 when the apostles spoke in languages that were new to the speakers, but not to the hearers. Greek scholar W.E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. 3, page 109 states, "The new tongues of Mark 16:17 are the 'other tongues' of Acts 2:4. These languages, however, were 'new' and 'different.' not in the sense that they had never been heard before, or that they were new to the hearers, as it is plain from vs. 8 that this is not the case; they were new languages to the speakers, different from those in which they were accustomed to speak."

And did you know that in Luke 3:12-17, John was emphasizing who was to administer Holy Spirit baptism, not who was going to receive it. In fact, only a part of his audience was ever to receive Holy Spirit baptism; another part of the audience was warned of a baptism of fire, (vs. 16-17; Matt. 3:7, 10-12). Some who heard John speak may not receive either of these baptisms. The emphasis in the context is on the contrast between John and Jesus. John could indeed baptize in water, but Jesus would have the power and authority to immerse men in the Holy Spirit, and likewise the power to immerse the disobedient in a lake of fire (Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 20:10-15).

Did you know that the "gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38) is not the same as the gift of tongues? The promise in Acts 2:38 was to all Christians. Not all Christians could speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:8-10; 14:5). The gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38 is the indwelling of the H.S. in the life of the Christian, and is promised to all, and received by all who come into fellowship with God (1 Cor. 6:19; Rom, 8:9).

And, did you know that by the time Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians (about 64 A.D.), Holy Spirit baptism had ceased, and only one baptism -- water baptism -- remained? (Eph. 4:5; 1 Peter 3:20-21). The last mention of Holy Spirit baptism in the Bible is in Acts 11:16 in connection with the miraculous manifestation that occurred when the gospel was preached to the Gentiles for the first time, approximately 39 A.D.

--Clarence R. Johnson



Nov. 21-23, 2003

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Doug Focht


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