The Anointed One is the exclusive Lord of the Kingdom

Yeshua has a radical message in light of a culture of inclusion.

1 John 2:21-23 – I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah? This one is the anti-messiah: the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.

The apostle John lays out some ground rules for spiritual truth and error. He begins with “no lie comes from the truth.” This statement on its own would do much to identify false teaching we see in the world today if we would simply take it at face value. Anything that is not true cannot be from the truth; simple in its profundity.

But then John takes it a step further by claiming that anyone who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah is a liar. This is strong language in today’s culture of inclusion. But the Bible is not limited by any cultural definitions. It can’t be, or it could not have survived for the millennia of its existence. The Bible rises above all culture because it is eternal.

John then ties faith in Messiah to belief in God as the Father. To deny one is to deny the other. This is how closely Yeshua is identified with the teaching and character of the Father. Yeshua clarified this for us prior to his crucifixion in his conversation with Philip.

John 14:8-11 – “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Yeshua said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.”

John goes so far as to say that those who deny Messiah are antichrists, or anti-messiah. This also substantiates another teaching of Messiah.

Matthew 12:30 – “Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters.”

Not recognizing Yeshua as the Messiah results in opposition to the purpose and plan of God for all time. John equates not believing that Yeshua is the Messiah means one does not have God, either.

To believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, or the “Christ,” is to acknowledge that he was anointed by God, for this is what the term itself means. If he was anointed by God to do and to teach the things he did, as he explained to Philip, then he maintained the exclusivity of his relationship with the Father as God. This is why to have one is to have the other, and to deny one is to deny both. This is also validates the Bible, because he only taught what was prophesied in the prophets and Writings (i.e., the Old Testament, or Tanakh).

Luke 18:31- Then he took the Twelve aside and told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.
Luke 24:25, 27 – He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken! … Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

The Messiah is the Lord of God’s Kingdom. Trust in Yeshua as the Messiah provides stability beyond any cultural variability. This stability carries over into one’s personal life and provides the believer with a solid basis for consistent practice in harmony with God’s will.

And accomplishing God’s will on the earth is what the Kingdom of God is all about.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

How Yeshua describes his followers

There is no room for partial commitment.

John 8:30-32 – “As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Yeshua said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”

Yeshua says that in order to be his followers or disciples, one must abide in his word. What does this mean and how is it done?

Yeshua’s word is his teaching, the principles he sought to bring to the people of Israel from God. It is my belief that the bulk of Yeshua’s teaching is summarized in the Sermon on the Mount, but it includes all of his doctrinal statements throughout his public ministry among the Israelites.

John 8:40, 47 – “but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. … Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Yeshua reiterated time and time again that the message he brought was from God, the Father. To abide in his word is to abide in the very teaching of God. When we are faithfully in the word, we can see how Yeshua’s teaching lines up in fulfillment with everything that God intended for his people.

The word abide is also a demonstration of the vigilance needed to be faithful in the word. It means to remain, to stay, or wait. Remaining in the word of Yeshua requires a great amount of fortitude and intention. Every day, we encounter challenges that can test our commitment to the word of God. Yeshua says that his disciples are the ones who stick it out and remain faithful regardless of what else may be going on in their lives.

Yeshua mentions two other benefits from remaining in his word: knowing the truth and being set free. The truth is a rare commodity these days, and having the confidence to assert and rely on the truthfulness of the word of God can be a welcome stabilizer in a sea of constantly shifting opinions.

There is also a freedom, not to do whatever we want, but a freedom from sin that allows us to obediently serve God. We have been set free to serve, and are now enabled to do so when we are disciples of Yeshua.

Are you a disciple of Yeshua, or are you instead a disciple of your pastor or church or denomination? Remaining vigilantly alert and aware in the word of God will free you from the hollow traditions and opinions of men and allow you to be empowered by the Spirit of God, bringing to life his very words in the presence of those who need to hear them most.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

To forgive is to leave it behind

Separating oneself from offense can lead to reconciliation.

1 Corinthians 7:12-13 – But to others I am saying, not my Lord, if there is a brother who has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to stay with him, let him not leave her. And whichever wife has a husband who is not a believer, and he is willing to stay with her, let her not leave her husband.

This text explains the situation Paul addresses between spouses of differing levels of faith. While typically evaluated in light of divorce, this passage actually has more to do with forgiveness than divorce. How can this be?

As usual, the issue goes back to the original language. In the Greek, the word used here for leaving or not leaving a spouse is the same root word used for forgiveness. Here are some other examples of how this word is used to demonstrate leaving something or someone.

Matthew 4:20 – Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 13:36 – Then he left the crowds and went into the house.
Matthew 22:22 – When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Mark 1:31 – And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

All of these instances of leaving something or someone are using the same root word for forgiveness. This helps understand how the concept of forgiveness was understood by the culture. To forgive means to leave or turn away from an offense. In one sense, it could be said that to forgive someone is to divorce yourself from the offense.

What offense do you need to be divorced from in order to demonstrate forgiveness to that individual? When looked at from this perspective, forgiveness can become more clearly understood and readily applied.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The flexible life of faith

Living here but energized from above.

Hebrews 11:13-16 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. If indeed they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had enough time to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

Those individuals listed out in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews are all said to have had great faith, and that by their faith they accomplished great things. But one thing their faith did not provide was a receiving of the promises of rest in the land that were made to them and their forefathers. However, the text says they discerned them through the eyes of faith and welcomed them, as it were, from a distance, since they did not receive them themselves.

They confessed to being foreigners and “temporary countrymen” alongside the actual residents on the earth. The passage says because of this faith and declaration of not being permanent residents, it was apparent that they were seeking their own country or residence, a heavenly one.

Most commentators conclude that this passage speaks of an eternal residence “in heaven” taking place after this earthly life, and that is not an incorrect assessment. However, this phrasing does not solely necessitate that the residence actually be in the heavens, just that its source is from there. This is similar to the statement of Yeshua when he was being questioned before Pilate.

John 18:36 Yeshua answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.”

When Yeshua says his Kingdom is not OF this world, he doesn’t just mean to say that it is ethereal and heavenly and can only be experienced after this physical life. But his phrasing means it does not emanate FROM or OUT OF this world; its source of authority and reign is FROM the heavens, hence it is the kingdom of God or of heaven.

What that implies is that this heavenly country or place could also be experienced here while they lived here temporarily. It’s similar to earthly foreigners living in a country different from their own, yet abiding by the cultural practices of their home country in the foreign land.

A life of faith, then, based on the lifestyle of the patriarchs, is one that is lived here but energized from above. It is a life of interacting with this world but understanding it is only on a temporary basis. It is similar to how a temporary worker or substitute teacher might perform necessary tasks in their respective roles, yet they should just not expect to always be doing those things in the same way with the same group of co-workers or working with the same students every day.

This way of living comes with its own challenges, but also with its own freedoms: the ability to have a fresh start on a regular basis; to experience a variety of locations or establishments to work in, along with a variety of co-workers to interact with on a regular basis. While there may not be the permanency of one’s own workspace or classroom, there also is no ongoing maintenance of that space or facility.

Similar to renting an apartment is contrasted with owning a home, a renter has more ability to move on into new ventures or locations, while the homeowner must take the time to sell the home and possessions and is less likely to move around as much.

Regardless of one’s choice of work or residence, the life of faith is one of non-attachment to things. If one has a permanent job and home, they should not become so attached as to think it could never be affected by change. Likewise, if one has more temporary workstyle and living conditions, one should not always expect to simply move on if more permanent opportunities or needs arise. In all situations, believers should maintain a sense of transiency and flexibility in all things.

The key is to live for the King and his Kingdom in this place, and to be prepared to be available for whatever may be needed within that reality while we are living in this one. This is the life of faith.

Matthew 6:19-21, 33 – “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also … But seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Set apart for obedience to God’s will

The culmination of the biblical imagery is fulfilled in Messiah.

Hebrews 10:4-10 – For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, ‘You didn’t desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.’ Previously saying, ‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you didn’t desire, neither had pleasure in them’ (those which are offered according to the law), then he has said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He takes away the first, that he may establish the second, by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

While most believers look to the book of Romans as the most theologically dense writing of the New Testament, in actuality, I believe the book of Hebrews provides the most depth of theology, and also provides us the perspective of how the early believers, who were all Jewish, viewed the work and ministry of Yeshua.

The book never names its author; many think it is Paul, some think it may have been Timothy. The individual carries many of the same long phrases and characteristic nuances of Paul. Regardless, throughout the book, a well-planned and graduated argument is laid out for the meaning and purpose of what Messiah came to do.

By chapter ten, the book is reaching a crescendo of thought and focuses on the work of Messiah contrasted with the sacrifices of the priests according to the law of Moses. Almost all commentators focus on Yeshua’s blood sacrifice against the animal sacrifices of the priests. But is that the true comparison or contrast being laid out here? I don’t believe so, and here is why.

First, it is established that animal sacrifices don’t take away sin. This was not a new concept to biblical thought, since Psalm 40 is then quoted to demonstrate this. The problem begins with the representation of Psalm 40 in this passage of Hebrews and it being mis-quoted (in our modern Bibles) in this passage where it says “you prepared a body for me.” If we actually go back to the text in the Psalms, we see that it reads:

Psalm 40:6-8 “Sacrifice and offering you didn’t desire. You have opened my ears. You have not required burnt offering and sin offering. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come. It is written about me in the book in the scroll. I delight to do your will, my God. Yes, your law is within my heart.’”

So the original text does not include a body being prepared for Messiah, but that his ears were opened. Opened to what? “Your law is within my heart.” Yes, the Messiah exemplified receptiveness to the law which is equated with the obedience of “delighting to do God’s will.”

The writer of Hebrews then states the crux of his argument: “He takes away the first (i.e., the animal sacrifices) that he may establish the second (the doing of God’s will in obedience from the heart). That is the contrast of thought in this passage, NOT the animal sacrifices vs. the sacrifice of Yeshua. The thought is concluded by saying “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua once for all.”

You see, Yeshua offered his body in obedience to God’s will, and THAT is the characteristic that sets believers apart: when we, in like fashion as our Lord and Messiah, are obedient to God’s will from the heart. THAT is the “second” (the doing of God’s will from the heart) that is being contrasted with the “first” (animal sacrifices).

This is what sanctifies or sets believers apart from the rest of the world. We have received God’s eternal torah or instruction written in our heart, and we are willing to obey it to the death, if needed. That is how Yeshua’s death “sanctifies” believers; he provided the ultimate example for us to follow.

The blood of the new covenant is not the physical sacrifice of a man in Judea two thousand years ago for some spiritual “blood debt,” because the writer tells us plainly that physical blood cannot take away any sins, and this was known throughout biblical history. But what the blood represents is what is important: this blood is the life of an individual who was willing to pay the ultimate price in obedience to his God. The “first” has been fulfilled with the “second.”

The Bible plainly teaches that the blood carries the life of the individual, which is why it is forbidden to eat or drink blood.

Leviticus 17:11 – ” For the life of the flesh is in the blood. I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.”

The blood makes atonement by reason of the life not the death. This was the symbolic significance that God was attempting to teach his people to understand with every animal sacrifice. It was not the death of the animal that was the point, but the representative life that was being forfeited on behalf of another.

This passage in Hebrews is the culmination of all of those spiritual lessons that had led up this point; the law is the “schoolmaster that leads to Messiah,” (Galatians 3:24). This is the contrast that illustrates what the whole New Testament points to. This man Yeshua is who believers are called to follow; this is who we are called to imitate. This is the new covenant of having our “ears opened” to the instruction of God, and being willing to follow him wherever he leads, even to the ultimate act of giving our life on behalf of others, if needed.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Humility before God is where the path begins

Recognizing our inability to be righteous on our own.

Isaiah 66:1-2 – “Yahweh says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build to me? Where will I rest? For my hand has made all these things, and so all these things came to be,’ says Yahweh: ‘but I will look to this man, even to he who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.'”

Everything in the life of a believer begins with humility of reference: the one who is of a contrite spirit. The Hebrew word Isaiah uses here for “contrite” means “stricken,” and is also translated in other passages as “crippled or lame; not having the ability to walk on one’s own.” To my way of thinking, that is a powerful metaphor for the believing life.

These are two of the biggest hurdles for those who do not believe; to recognize that God is the all-powerful Creator and that his Word is supreme. There is a pride that will not yield to God’s authority, as one prefers to chart their own way through this life.

One of my favorite sayings of the ancients that is attributed to Solomon comes from the Septuagint version of the Bible where it reads, “Unwearied endurance in seeking Yahweh is better than a masterless charioteer of one’s own life,” (Sirach 20:32). The masterless charioteer may have the freedom to choose their own way, but in doing so they must recognize that their way is fraught with unnecessary strife and adversity.

A few examples from the other writings of Solomon in the book of Proverbs can illustrate this:

Proverbs 11:5 – The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way, but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who is wise listens to counsel.
Proverbs 19:3 – The foolishness of man subverts his way; his heart rages against Yahweh.
Proverbs 21:2 – Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.

By contrast, one needs only to look at how Solomon also depicted the path of the righteous:

Proverbs 3:33 – Yahweh’s curse is in the house of the wicked, but he blesses the habitation of the righteous.
Proverbs 10:2 – Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 11:6 – The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them, but the unfaithful will be trapped by evil desires.

There are over 80 references to the positive attributes of the righteous in the Proverbs alone; this is no small indication of God’s desire for all people. Solomon’s conclusion even at the end of Ecclesiastes is also a famous verse, noted for its simplicity and universality for all people:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 “This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.”

Yeshua begins the most significant teaching in the New Testament writings, the Sermon on the Mount, with the assertion that every principle he was about to teach on begins with simple humility before God.

Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

There is no need to go further into the Sermon on the Mount if one has not begun with the humility of heart that Yeshua honors. Recognizing that one is not able to walk the path of this life on one’s own is a true demonstration of the contrite spirit, and one that Isaiah assures believers will provide an ongoing rejuvenating experience.

Isaiah 57:15 – “For the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, says: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.'”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The power to forgive and overcome evil with good

God expects that we overcome our adversaries through forgiveness and kind actions.

Core of the Bible podcast #56 – The power to forgive and overcome evil with good

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, and how God expects us to honor and forgive our adversaries; yes, not just our family and friends but our adversaries. Retaliation against personal injustices are meant to be met with godly forgiveness and meeting the needs of our enemies. Thankfully, as we shall see, he has also provided us the ability to do so.

1 Samuel 24:9-13 – “David asked Saul, ‘Why do you listen to rumors that I am trying to harm you? Today you saw how Yahweh handed you over to me in the cave. Although I was told to kill you, I spared you, saying, ‘I will not raise my hand against Your Majesty because you are Yahweh’s anointed.’ My master, look at this! The border of your robe is in my hand! Since I cut off the border of your robe and didn’t kill you, you should know and be able to see I mean no harm or rebellion. I haven’t sinned against you, but you are trying to ambush me in order to take my life. May Yahweh decide between you and me. May Yahweh take revenge on you for what you did to me. However, I will not lay a hand on you. It’s like people used to say long ago, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ But I will not lay a hand on you.

The story of Saul and David encompasses many facets of spiritual instruction within the lore of Israel. In this instance, David and his men are being pursued by a jealous Saul, then present King of Israel, because Saul thinks David is heading a rebellion to overthrow him. The pursuit comes to a climax when Saul unknowingly enters a cave into which David and his men are already hiding. David even gets close enough to cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

This incident highlights Yeshua’s teaching that we should not harm our enemies, paraphrased below.

Matthew 5:38-41 – “Never retaliate; instead, offer to go above and beyond for those oppressing you.”

David could have been justified in taking vengeance on his enemy who was quite literally pursuing him to kill him. However, in our day and culture, those who may be adversarial to us are rarely out to physically kill us. They may speak badly about us in an unjustifiable way; they may actively try to work against our objectives; they may use us for their own personal ends; but they are rarely out to actually take our lives.

If David could be so forgiving and honorable in a justifiable situation with a sworn enemy when his life was in danger, shouldn’t that give us hope that we can, and should, have the ability to overcome the advances of our adversaries?

We can gain some additional insight into this concept by reviewing the text a little more closely. David mentions a saying that was prevalent in his culture and his time, “Wickedness comes from wicked people.” Yet even a thousand later, Yeshua substantiated that very same perspective in his teachings.

Luke 6:43-45 – “A good tree doesn’t produce rotten fruit, and a rotten tree doesn’t produce good fruit. Each tree is known by its fruit. You don’t pick figs from thorny plants or grapes from a thornbush. Good people do the good that is in them. But evil people do the evil that is in them. The things people say come from inside them.”

In the same way David affirmed “wickedness comes from wicked people,” Yeshua also says, “evil people do the evil that is in them.” Even though this may be the case, Yeshua also encouraged his followers to take a very specific stance with those who may be displaying this wickedness that comes from inside of them:

Matthew 5:38-42 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to oppose an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well. If someone wants to sue you in order to take your shirt, let him have your coat too. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to everyone who asks you for something. Don’t turn anyone away who wants to borrow something from you.”

If we are to be considered followers of Yeshua, then we need to abide by the principles he endorses, or rather, requires, of those who would claim to be his. Yet none of these principles come naturally. If we are slapped, our reaction is to slap back. If someone sues us unjustly, we want to fight back and have our day in court. If we are forced to comply with governmental initiatives, we try to find ways to circumvent them. We typically avoid those who would ask us to give and borrow so we can hang on to our own resources.

In John 14:15, Yeshua says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Yet if all of these principles he commands his followers to do are contrary to our natural reactions, then how is it that he expects us to follow his commandments? In just a moment, we’ll review one of the key teachings that Yeshua brought forward to tell us how to do just that.


During his last few hours before he was given up to the authorities in Jerusalem, Yeshua provides some insight for us in what were to become his parting words to his disciples.

John 14:15-17 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Yeshua says that after his departure, provision would be made for the disciples to continue to follow his teachings. The Spirit of truth would be given to them and would provide the following benefits:

  • dwell with and be in them (14:17)
  • teach them all things (14:26)
  • bring to remembrance his teachings (14:26)
  • testify to the truth of Messiah (15:26)
  • guide them into truth (16:13)
  • tell them things to come (16:13)

Additionally, Yeshua mentioned in other teaching settings how the disciples would be able to provide irrefutable answers to those in authority when they were arraigned before judges: this would be possible only because the spirit of the Father would be speaking through them (Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11).

This “Helper” would help the believers in all of these ways. Notice, all of these ways are characteristics which were supernatural, not just improvements on the natural: indwelling, teaching, remembering, testifying, guiding, providing foreknowledge; these were all characteristics beyond each of the disciples individually, yet they were to be empowered with these abilities by the Spirit of God dwelling in them.

So, the types of non-retaliatory actions that Yeshua encouraged his followers to abide by must have required a very special form of forgiveness. This type could only be displayed when relying on the Spirit of God providing the strength to do so by indwelling them.

In the passages just mentioned, Yeshua painted in broad strokes in what ways the Spirit of God would be assisting the believers. The apostle Paul, however, expands on this further when he writes about the contrast between the Spirit and the corrupted nature evident in the world “which cannot receive” the Spirit because it “neither sees nor knows him,” as Yeshua had said.

Romans 8:3-9 – “For what the law couldn’t do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile toward God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

The dynamic of the holy Spirit living within the believer is the fulfillment of the covenant that Israel had been looking forward to for centuries.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

This is how the believers were to live up to standards that were unattainable by purely doing their best to live out of the flesh. This is why fleshly works have no value in the sight of God; they cannot accomplish the depth and complexity of what God intends. The believer must be transformed to allow God to work through them; this is what makes biblical faith come alive. This is how we become image-bearers as God intended, ruling and reigning in his Creation with the wisdom and understanding that comes from him.

Romans 12:1-2 – “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

In order for believers to do things that are not natural, but supernatural, they must go through a transformative process. Paul here calls it a “renewing of the mind.” This mind renewal transforms the believer into an individual accomplishing the will of God in this world.

Yeshua called it being born anew, or born from above.

John 3:5-8 – “Yeshua answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

To be born of the Spirit is to be transformed and empowered to accomplish God’s will on the earth. This is the good news of the kingdom, and how the kingdom continues to grow within each generation.

So a logical question then becomes: How then does one receive this holy Spirit in order for this transformation to take place? Yeshua and the apostles provide that answer and more throughout the pages of the New Testament writings.


While there are many religious traditions that may answer this question differently, the teaching of Yeshua and the apostles is that the holy Spirit is available to all who simply ask.

Luke 11:9-13 – “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? “Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
James 1:5 – “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given him.”

Asking God for us to be participants in his will through his Spirit working in and through us is the answer. When we ask in sincerity, he will provide us what we need so his will can be accomplished on this earth as he intends.

2 Peter 1:3-8 – “…his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue, by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control perseverance; and in perseverance godliness; and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to not be idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua Messiah.”

See, God’s provision of his Spirit causes us to not be idle nor unfruitful in the things that Yeshua has instructed us to do. So if we are instructed to be forgiving to the unforgivable, we can now do so. If we are instructed to not seek revenge for offenses against us, we can now do so.

This is a highly significant truth in the panorama of religious life because this is the very thing that sets apart a biblical faith from every other worldly religion in the world that boasts some code of ethics or good works. Those religions may provide lofty goals that some of their followers may discipline themselves to achieve some of the time, but God has provided not only lofty ethics but the power to accomplish all of them all the time!

This is such a foreign concept among believers today because we are generally taught that our flesh is sinful and useless and we will only experience freedom from these sinful tendencies in the life to come. However, the gospel message is the complete opposite! The good news of the Kingdom is that we can begin to live by its standards here and now AND also into eternity beyond this life! We have been set free from the sinful tendencies that weigh people down so we can exhibit the love of God here and now.

John 8:34-36 “Yeshua answered them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

A true biblical faith is not just one religious tradition among a host of world religions, but an empowered lifestyle of burning brightly with the energy and power of God. As Peter says, to “escape from the corruption that is in the world by lust” in our lives, and to overcome the evil in this world with good actions.

Romans 12:17-21 “Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says Yahweh.’ Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

1 Peter 2:11-16 – “Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having good behavior among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore subject yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether to the king, as supreme; or to governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evildoers and for praise to those who do well. For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God.”

As believers, God has provided us the resources needed to carry out his expectations that we overcome our adversaries through forgiveness and kind actions. This is not just some hope for a distant future in another age, but real-world, practical advice for believers in this day and age. Why would the early believers have been commanded these things if they were not attainable then? And if they were attainable then, why would they not attainable now?

Our goal, no, our mission, is to exhibit godly characteristics in the face of an ungodly world as a demonstration of the reality of the One who dwells within us for his honor and glory. To merely profess lofty ideals but never attain them is not an option that has been provided by the message of Yeshua and the Bible. We are to be the lights in this world, a light that stems from the light of God himself.

1 John 1:5-7 – “This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua Messiah, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

Therefore, we can truly forgive our adversaries and not seek retaliation as Yeshua instructs us, but only as we walk in the light of God with the provision of his Spirit.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The good shepherd: how to identify the true Messiah

He would defend the flock to the death, if needed.

John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture.

This section of Scripture is interesting to me on a couple of levels: one, because it is typically used as a “salvation” passage, and two, because it mentions those who have been “saved” going back out into the pasture. If this is a salvation passage, why is it that the sheep go in, but then go back out? If the sheepfold is representative of being saved and in the kingdom, why would those who are saved leave the kingdom?

I believe the difficulty arises when we make this a salvation passage just because the word “saved” is used. The larger context of the parable is not salvation, but the identification of the good shepherd who is contrasted with the thief. Clearly (at least to us in perfect hindsight) we can see that Yeshua is that good shepherd. I think we could benefit from a wider perspective and context to understand some of this in more detail.

In verses one through six, Yeshua had just used the parable of the sheepfold that includes a thief, a gatekeeper and a shepherd. Yeshua mentions the gatekeeper opens the door for the true shepherd, and the sheep recognize his voice and dutifully follow him and will not follow the thief because they don’t recognize his voice. In this parable, Yeshua identifies himself as the shepherd. This is none other than an only slightly veiled reference to himself as the Messiah, and that the true “sheep” would recognize him when he arrived.

However, it is said in verse six that “Yeshua spoke this parable to them, but they didn’t understand what he was telling them.” So, while keeping the same characters in play, he transitions the identification of himself from the good shepherd to the gate or entrance to the sheepfold.

John 10:7-10 Yeshua therefore said to them again, “Most certainly, I tell you, I am the sheep’s door. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

In this section, Yeshua positions himself as the authoritative entrance to the sheepfold who keeps the sheep safe while they are in the sheepfold. The gatekeeper opened up to him because he is the good shepherd. Here he identifies as the only passage into the sheepfold; there is no other way into the sheepfold. Thieves may try to climb in some other way (verse 1), but there is a unique and exclusionary emphasis to Yeshua claiming to be the gate. The sheep who would want to be safe must go through him.

John 14:6 – Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.

The word for “saved” there can and does mean saved in other contexts, but here it means that the sheep are safe or protected while they are in the sheepfold and the gate is shut; that is the purpose of the gate: to keep the thieves and wolves out.

However, the sheep need to leave the sheepfold in order to eat and survive. They can’t just stay protected in the sheepfold all day. So Yeshua also mentions that he is the good shepherd who will not run away even if wolves come to attack the flock while they are out of the sheepfold and in the pasture. He is not just a hired hand who has no commitment to the sheep, but he would defend the flock to the death, if needed.

Once again, we see Yeshua providing an indication of how he was going to demonstrate to the sheep that he was the true and good shepherd and not just a “hired hand.” He would ultimately give his life for them, and that would be the final authentication of his Messiahship.

So, while this passage is many times used as a salvation proof text, in reality, the meaning of the parable was of Yeshua indicating that he was indeed the Messiah the sheep were waiting for, and he would ultimately give his life to demonstrate his role.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The believer’s role of enriching others

Stirring up the natural flow of generosity.

2 Corinthians 8:9 -“For you know the grace of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.”

In one of the most protracted sections of the Bible on provision for others, the apostle Paul conveys the importance of the Corinthian congregation’s participation in assisting the poorer congregations in the Jerusalem area.

In his commentary, Albert Barnes provides the historical backdrop that prompted Paul’s gentle prodding of their support.

“The occasion of this distress which made the collection for the saints of Judea necessary, was probably the famine which was predicted by Agabus, and which occurred in the time of Claudius Caesar, Acts 11:28. Barnabas was associated with Paul in conveying the contribution to Jerusalem, Acts 6:30. Paul was unwilling to do it unless they particularly desired it, and he seems to have insisted that some person should be associated with him…”

Essentially, Paul was trying to be faithful in garnering support for fellow believers who were suffering due to lack. Congregations in other areas of the world where Paul was ministering had more resources to provide, and Paul was attempting to help out those early congregations that had sprung up in Judea. They were worthy of this assistance, since they were among the earliest of congregations that had led to the growing faith of the missionary congregations of Asia and Greece.

Romans 15:25-27 – “But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints. For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if those among the nations have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things.”

Since the missionary congregations had benefited from the spiritual assistance of the Judean groups, Paul argues, the least they could do in return was to provide them assistance in their practical needs.

However, the motivation for doing so is contained in the work of Messiah. Paul writes “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.” Yeshua’s example of enriching others at his own expense was the touchstone for all righteous behavior. Yeshua had modeled true servanthood that was to be copied and exhibited by his followers in all things.

As believers, we should be compassionate because we have received compassion; we should love because we have been loved; we should give freely because we have received freely. Our motivation for assisting others experiencing spiritual or practical needs should be a spontaneous reflex, not an obligation.

Paul prays for their anticipated generosity with words that we can still take to heart today.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 – Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Did Yeshua teach pacifism?

All interests are subservient to the eternal interests of the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 5:39 – But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

The concept of forgiveness runs strong within the teachings of Yeshua. In order to not retaliate to aggressive behavior or a personal affront requires a measure of self-control and maturity to allow the insult, and sometimes injury, to pass.

But to what extent does the Bible teach that should believers remain non-retaliatory? Should a father protect his family from home intruders? Should a believer be engaged with a national military conflict? These are difficult questions because the Bible speaks to many different types of situations and has been used to support many different positions on this topic.

Even though I am a veteran of the American military, as I have grown in my biblical understanding over the years, I have gravitated toward a more pacifistic stance. From a philosophical standpoint, the idea of believers serving in opposing military forces would mean that believers are essentially killing other believers for the sake of their respective national interest. This would mean that the national interest has taken precedence over the universal spiritual kingdom of God. Under any other circumstance, believers would not be pitted against each other in a fight to the death.

In fairness, though, I must also admit that the passage quoted above about turning the other cheek is contextually about personal responsibility, and is not an absolute morality standard. If we believe love is the primary response for believers, we must remember that Yeshua also taught that the greatest love for others is self-sacrifice. Yeshua used the example of the good shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for the sheep; however, as King David was famous for, that was typically in protecting the sheep from the wild animals, not other humans.

But is that self-sacrifice to be exhibited in acts of aggression toward others? Is it morally defensible from the Bible to kill a human aggressor in order to save others?

1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Once again, John is not setting up a universal morality standard here, as the context of this passage is in ensuring that believers are diligent in providing for one another’s physical needs. In that sense, we should put the interests of others above ourselves.

1 John 3:15, 17-18 – Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. … But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Paul reiterates this point, as well.

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

If I was to land upon a more definitive position regarding what might be called biblical messianic pacifism within the Kingdom of God, I would offer the following: in personal quarrels, forgive and do not retaliate. When faced with endangerment of others not able to protect themselves, placing oneself as a non-lethal protector and defender is justifiable and honorable.

Some may argue that God is not against war, as he commanded the Israelites to kill and essentially exterminate the Canaanites. But we must remember the campaign against Canaan was God’s judgment upon those nations for their detestable idolatrous practices, and was not primarily about Israel’s interests. Moses made this abundantly clear as he spoke to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan to take the land.

Deuteronomy 9:5-6 – “Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations Yahweh your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, therefore, that Yahweh your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.”

God’s use of Israel in war was a measure of physical judgment upon the Canaanites that was a metaphorical baseline within the over-arching biblical narrative: God’s enemies would be vanquished and his universal kingdom would be established in their place. However, to presume any war fought today is a righteous and holy war against idolatrous barbarians because of their wickedness and rebellion against God would require mental gymnastics beyond the scope of reason.

How we apply Yeshua’s admonition to turn the other cheek may lead us to differing conclusions regarding personal defense and national interests. But we must remember that even national interests are subservient to the eternal interests of the Kingdom of God. Doing what is biblically “correct” in any situation requires a holistic view of the entire Bible, not just cherry-picking proof-texts to support a personal or public agenda.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.