March 14th, 1973 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-14-73 7:30 p.m.
. . . because there is so much to be compressed in so small and short a space of time. This coming Wednesday night we are going to speak, we are going to teach, on the three great sections into which God divides all humanity, and about which the Scriptures have so much to say. In 1 Corinthians 10:32, Paul divides all mankind into three categories: the Jews, the Gentiles, and the church. And next Wednesday night, we are going to look at what God has to say in His Book concerning the Jew, the Gentile, and the church.
Now just for a moment, a review of last Wednesday night, our first and introductory lesson. We spoke of the fact that there were two ways to study the Bible. One is to do it analytically; that is, to break it down into small parts and pieces, which is the way that almost always the Bible is studied. But there is also another way to approach a study of the Word of God, and that is synthetically, putting it all together in a synthesis, a view of the Bible as a whole. I have never studied the Bible like that, nor have I ever heard of it being taught like that. So, I said, in this series of lessons, we are not going to study the Bible analytically, we are not going to break it down in its small parts; but we are going to study the Bible in a synthesis, in a putting together, we are going to look at it, the whole vast panoramic view of it, and find how each of its parts is related to the whole.
Then we spoke of the divisions of the Bible, in the Hebrew Bible and in our Bible. The Hebrew Bible, the Law, the Writings and the Prophets; in our Bible we have the books of history, then we have the books of poetry, then we have the books of prophecy. Then of course the New Testament follows the same pattern: the history, the Gospels of Christ, then the story of the church, then the epistles, then finally the great consummation. Then we spoke of the many ways to divide up the Bible, in a way to grab it, to get a hold of it, a handle to hold by. And in that we mentioned the fact that many people studied the Bible dispensationally; that is a way to divide up the Bible, and most of the times when they study the Bible dispensationally, they will divide it into seven different dispensations.
Now tonight we’re going to study the canon of the Bible; that is, the books that are in it and how they came to get there. The word “canon” is one of the most unusual words in the English language. It is the same word every time it ever appears in any language in all the world; the “canon” is the same, the word is the same. Now, coming to us, Anglo-Saxon “canon,” meaning “a rule, or a model”; the Latin “canon,” meaning “a measuring line, or a rule”; the Greek canon – kanon, kanon – meaning “a rule or a rod”; and Hebrew, “canon”; in every language it is pronounced and spelled the same. I don’t know of another word in human speech that follows that order except the word “canon.” Now, four times Paul uses the word in the New Testament. In Galatians 6:16, he writes, “As many as walked according to this canon, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.” There in the King James Version it is translated “rule”: “As many as walked according to this rule, peace be on them.” Now, in Philippians 3:16, he uses the same word again, “Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same canon, let us mind the same thing,” again translated “rule,” Then in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verses 13 and 15, he uses it again: “According to the measure of the canon, the rule which God hath distributed to us,” then the fifteenth verse, “Having hope by you, according to our rule abundantly, according to our canon abundantly to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you” [2 Corinthians 10:13, 15]. So a canon, a canon is a rule, it is a line, it is a guide. Originally the word meant “a straight staff, a straight staff,” like a man would walk with a straight staff; then it came to mean a measuring rod; then figuratively a guide or a model; and finally in the New Testament a normal principle. In Christian ecclesiastical history, canon law is the decrees and regulations of the church, canon law; distinct from secular law, the law of the government or the state. Canon law is the rule, the decree of the church.
Now since Christian doctrine was professedly based upon the Scriptures, the writings themselves became known as the Canon; that is, the Holy Scriptures that were accepted as the church, for faith, for guide, for rule, and for practice. And this is the use of the word in the Council of Laodicea in 363 AD, and I quote from the creed of that council: “No un-canonical books can be read in the church; but only the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments,” end quote. A canonical book is one that measured up to the rule, the canon of the church.
Now, the Old Testament canon was chosen by Ezra and the men of the great synagogue. After the Babylonian captivity, as you know, there were three great things that came out of the Babylonian captivity. Number one: the Jew was no more and no longer idolatrous. Until that time, the Babylonian captivity, he relaxed into idolatry again and again and again; it was the constant story of Israel, the story of idolatry, the relax, the apostasy into idolatry. After the Babylonian captivity, they were never again idolatrous. Number two: out of the Babylonian captivity came the synagogue. They did not have the temple any longer in which to worship, so the synagogue was born, as the people gathered together to worship the Lord. And the synagogue is what we, the form, the model, that we observe today in the church of Jesus Christ. This is a sunagogos, a gathering together of the people. Third: out of the Babylonian captivity was born the canon of the Holy Scriptures; until that time the Scriptures were diverse and how they were kept is known but to God. But after the Babylonian captivity, as the people gathered in the synagogue, they gathered around the Word of the Lord. And that meant, that the books that were inspired had to be chosen and placed together. And the canon was made by Ezra and his successors, who are known as the men of the great synagogue. And the books that we have in our Bible, the Old Testament books in our Bible, are the books that are in the Hebrew Canon; and they are in the Septuagint translation of the Bible; they are in Philo, they are in Josephus, the exact books that we have here you will find in the Hebrew Bible, the Hebrew Canon.
Now the New Testament canon, how were they put together? The Gospels were treasured by the churches. For example, Mark was treasured by the church at Rome. Matthew was treasured by the church at Antioch. Luke was treasured by the church at Philippi and Caesarea. And John was treasured by the church at Ephesus. So as time went on, the Gospel that Ephesus possessed, John, the Gospel that Rome possessed, Mark, the Gospel that Caesarea possessed, Luke, and the Gospel that Antioch possessed, Matthew, they exchanged those Gospels, and they became current in all of the churches. Now, the letters were kept in the same way. Philippi kept the letter of Paul to the church at Philippi. Each one of the churches, Thessalonica, Corinth, all of those churches treasured the letters that were written to them. And as time went on, they exchanged those letters. Now I’m going to quote from Polycarp a letter that he addressed to the Philippians in 110 AD, and you’ll see how these letters were exchanged. Quote, from Polycarp’s letter, Polycarp the pastor at Smyrna, the great martyr of 155 AD at Smyrna, writing to the church at Philippi he said, I quote, “I have received letters from you, and from Ignatius,” who was pastor of the church at Antioch;
You recommend me to send on yours to Syria, I shall do so, either personally or by some other means. In return, I send you the letters of Ignatius as well as others which I have in my hands, and for which you have made request. I add them to the present one; they will serve to edify your faith and perseverance.
Now that gives you a good illustration of how the letters were exchanged: they were copied and sent from church to church to church. And thus it was that the letters and the Gospels that were written by the apostles and the amanuenses of the apostles were scattered among the churches.
Now, the first time that the churches ever sought to make a canon of the Scriptures of the New Testament, that these were the inspired words of God and these were not, came in the Montanus heresy. Montanus was a fierce and rugged prophet, who appeared in Phrygia, around a 150 AD. And he said that there was restored through him the signs, the miracles, and the wonders of the apostles. And he said that his ecstatic utterances were Holy Scriptures. Now there are two things from that that I can learn. One: I can see from that that the signs of the apostles had ceased with the apostles; there were no more apostolic miracles. They ceased with the apostles. An apostle could not even; he himself could not do a miracle at will. For example, Paul says, “I left Trophimus at Miletus sick” [2 Timothy 4:20]. Well, why didn’t Paul heal him? Because no man, apostle included, could do a miracle except it be a sign of authentication from God. And when the apostles died, the miracles and the signs of their apostolic attestation ceased.
All right, the second thing that arose out of that Montanus heresy: I know from that that the Scriptures have ceased to be written because he professes to continue their inspiration in his own ecstatic utterances. Now that Montanian, the Montanus heresy spread over the entire Christian world; so much so, as I said the other day, even Tertullian, the most brilliant apologist, defender, of the Christian faith that ever appeared in the Latin language and in the Latin world – and that includes the centuries of the Western church – even Tertullian was a Montanist, so vibrant was that Montanian heresy. But out of the fierce controversy that arose around Montanus, came those two great affirmations of the church: one, that the signs of the apostles had ceased and that the work of the Holy Spirit was now one of illumination; and the second thing that came out of that Montanian heresy was there are no more Scriptures written. And the canon became that the Scriptures were written by an apostle or the amanuensis of an apostle. And after the days of the apostles, there were no more inspired writings. That was the affirmation of the church.
Now, the Council of Carthage, for example in 397 AD, said and I quote, “Aside from the canonical Scriptures, nothing is to be read in the churches under the name of divine Scripture”; it then listed our present twenty-seven New Testament books. So the canon then became this, the rule is this; the canon, the yardstick of the New Testament Bible Scriptures is this: a New Testament book must be written by an apostle or an amanuensis of an apostle, such as Mark was the amanuensis of Peter, and Luke was the amanuensis of Paul. And that was the canon that was the rule by which the books were accepted in the New Testament. I say it again, the canon was, the rule was, for a book to be in the New Testament as inspired Scriptures, as accepted as being canonical, as authoritative in the church, it had to be written by an apostle or by an amanuensis of an apostle.
Now that raised a startling question: what about the Book of Hebrews? The Book of Hebrews is manifestly inspired; it was written by someone well known to the early church, and it was written by someone who was an equal to the greatest apostles. Second, its classic elegance of structure and expression is beyond anything in human literature. I don’t know of anything penned by mortal man that has in it the beauty of elegance and style and expression of the letter to the Hebrews. Well, who wrote it? For the rule is, the canon is, the reason I’m taking Hebrews is, I want to try to illustrate how it is that the canon was used, why what it means, and how the Scriptures are chosen by a canon or rule.
Now, the arguments against the Pauline authorship are manifest. First, there is no Western church father who believed that Paul wrote it; way back yonder in the first century, the second century, the third century, not any of those church fathers believed that Paul wrote it.
All right, the second thing is, when you look at the Book of Hebrews, it doesn’t look like a letter of Paul. Now, just look at it. Look how it begins: it begins just like a cannon ball, just like a rifle shot, you just like, getting into it right at the beginning. Now look at it:
God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Just like that, he’s in it. He’s just like a fellow getting up to preach: you know, some of them idle their motor a long time, takes time to warm up; boy, this guy gets up there in the pulpit, and Hebrews is the sermon, and just like that, boy he’s right in the middle of it, that’s the way he is.
All right, now you look at anything Paul wrote, I don’t care what it is. All right, I just happened to turn the leaf of my Bible and turned to 2 Thessalonians. Look how he begins, “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” [2 Thessalonians 1:1-2], and on and on and on. And every one of Paul’s letters begins like that, but not this letter to the Hebrews; just like that he’s in it.
All right, a second thing: why do you think that Paul did not write the Book to the Hebrews? All right, I think this is absolutely and positively determinative: whoever wrote the Book to the Hebrews places himself in the second generation of Christians. Well, I read, here’s chapter 2: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast,” and he’s talking about the law, Moses’ law, “and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; this great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him” [Hebrews 2:1-32]. Whoever wrote this book is a second generation Christian. The word was confirmed to him, whoever wrote the book, the word came to him by those who heard and knew the Lord; he’s a second generation Christian.
All right, now let’s see if that sounds like the apostle Paul. The man who wrote the letter to the Hebrews is somebody who learned the message from somebody else, from a man, from the first generation of Christians. He classifies himself as the second generation Christian, and he got the message from the first generation Christian, from other men. All right, let’s see if Paul’s like that. I turn now to the Book of Galatians, Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, and look what he says, chapter 1, verse 11, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man, I never got it from a man” [Galatians 1:11]. Now, verse 15 and following, “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the nations; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood”: I did not talk to a man about it, “neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia. And after three years,” that he later says, “then returned, I came again to Damascus, and preached that Jesus is the Christ” [Galatians 1:15-17]. All right, look again in the second chapter of this letter to the Galatians. Chapter 2, verse 7:
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:
And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they to the Jews.
Now look again, in verse 11:
When Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, the pastor of the church at Jerusalem, why, he ate with the Gentiles and lived just like the Gentiles; but when this committee came from James, why, he dissembled, he withdrew . . . And when I saw that he walked not uprightly . . . I said to Peter before them all, Why do you as a Jew live like the Gentiles, then why, living like the Gentiles do you want to compel these Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Now that doesn’t sound like that Peter, that James classifies him as somebody who is a second generation Christian, that what he knew he learned from somebody else.
Paul expressly avows, and I delivered my soul on this in this pulpit right here one time, Paul expressly avows, and I named the sermon The Fifth Gospel, Paul expressly avows that he got his gospel message directly from Jesus Christ by revelation [Galatians 1:11-12]. He never learned it from a man. For example, when he says at the Lord’s Supper, “For I have delivered unto you that which also I have received, how that the Lord Jesus” [1 Corinthians 11:23], that is, he received it directly from the Lord Himself. He never got his gospel from Matthew, Mark, Peter, James, John, anyone else. He got it directly from God. It was a revelation to him from Christ. And that’s the reason I called it The Fifth Gospel; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, directly from Christ. So, in this Book of the Hebrews, when this man classifies himself as a second generation Christian, having got his gospel from somebody who was a first generation Christian [Hebrews 2:1-3], to me, it rules out the apostle Paul.
Well, what do you do? Now one other thing before I go on. In every Pauline epistle, thirteen of them, in all thirteen of the Pauline epistles, they’re all made exactly alike. First, he will write doctrine, then he will write exhortation. And every one of those thirteen follow the same pattern. But in the Book of Hebrews, it’s nothing like that: there is doctrine and exhortation, doctrine and exhortation, exhortation and doctrine, all the way through it. But the canon was, is, that a book to be in the New Testament must be written by an apostle or by an amanuensis of an apostle; had to be written by Mark, or Luke, or one of the apostles. Well, how in the world then are you going to put the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament, when the canon is it has to be written by an apostle or an amanuensis of an apostle? All right, here’s how it got in there. The Council of Hippo, finally, in 393 AD, placed the epistle in the canon saying, quote, “Thirteen epistles of Paul, and one by the same to the Hebrews.” Then in the Council of Carthage in 397 AD and again in 419 AD, it named the present twenty-seven books of the New Testament and in the council in 419, the Council of Carthage in 419, it reckoned, I quote, “the fourteen epistles of Paul.” Now what does that mean to us? It means to us this: the books that are in the New Testament are there by the inspiration of God, no matter who wrote it; it is God-breathed [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21]. And this Council at Hippo, and the two Councils of Carthage, in order to meet the canon, that is, that it had to be written by an apostle, finally said the apostle Paul wrote it, so they stuck it in the Bible. I say it’s in the Bible by the inspiration of God. God put it in there. And the canon is, to me, what is God-breathed, theopneusta, is in the Book, it’s in the Bible, and there it is for us to see today and to read.
Now, regarding Hebrews, some think Barnabas wrote it, some think Priscilla wrote it, how do you like that? Have a woman author of the Bible, that’d be all right? Some think Priscilla wrote it. I think Apollos wrote it; he’s the most logical one in the earth to have written the Book of Hebrews. All right, now we’ve got to go, got to rush.
I now want to talk to you about the amanuensis. The amanuensis, that is, the one who takes dictation and copies and writes the manuscript – you know, that’s an unusual word “amanuensis”: servus, meaning, “slave,” am meaning “by or at,” manus manual, meaning “hand.” So, “amanuensis” means “a slave at hand,” and then add the meaning, “writing,” a slave at handwriting; the amanuensis, the man who wrote it down. Now, if you’ll turn to Romans 16, verse 22, it says, “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.” Now isn’t that funny? This is Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, yet in Romans 16:22 it says, “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.” Well, who is this Tertius who writes the epistle? He is Paul’s amanuensis. Now, in every letter that Paul writes, he will say that he’s going to take the pen in hand, and he’s going to sign it with his own hand so they will know it is a genuine letter from him. For example, in 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 17, he writes, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write” [2 Thessalonians 3:17]. Well, why is it that Paul says, “Every epistle that I write to you that is a genuine from my hand, I will sign it with my own hand [2 Thessalonians 2:2], and you will know because it is the token in every epistle”? Well, the reason for it is, in the second chapter of that 2 Thessalonian letter, he will say, “Now I beseech you, my brethren, that you be not soon troubled in mind, or spirit, or word, as by letter as from us, as that,” so and so, “the day of the Lord, right here at hand,” so and so and so and so. That is, there were spurious letters that were written to the churches as though they came from the apostle Paul. So the apostle Paul says, “You are not to be troubled by those spurious letters because a real letter from my hand I will sign with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle; so I write.” So whenever Paul got through, why, he would sign the letter with his own hand.
Now, in 1 Corinthians 16, verse 21, he will write, and I quote:
The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema,
The salutation of me, Paul, with mine own hand.
[1 Corinthians 16:21-22]
Look over here in Galatians, at verse 11, the last chapter, says, “You see with what large letters I write unto you with mine own hand” [Galatians 6:11]. Or look again, here in Colossians, the last chapter, chapter 4, in verse 18, the last verse, “The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you” [Colossians 4:18]. Paul picked up, after he wrote the letter through an amanuensis, he picked up the pen, and he always writes, signs, with his own hand. In Philemon, verse 19, “I Paul have written it with mine own hand” [Philemon 1:19].
Now, the reason I mention that to you is this: a reporter came over there to the church office, he’s going to write something about me, so I hope it is real good. So he said, “Do you ever have any problems in your head, in your mind, about the Word of God? You know, you just so believe it is the Word of the Lord, and you so are given to its infallibility and its inspiration. Now, do you ever have any doubts about that? Do you ever have any troubles about that?”
Well, I said, “My brother, just for your ears,” not for all of us, tonight just for our ears and not for all the infidels out there, I said, “I have to confess to you that I do have times when I have troubles and doubts, I do.”
Well, he said, “Name some of them for me.”
Well, I said, [Audio Skip]
Well, he said, “Do it now, be honest with me.”
Well, I said, “I shall.” And one of them I named to them was this: I said, “I have to confess to you that my introduction to and study of German rationalism, higher criticism of the Word of God,” I said, “I have to confess to you that that has plunged me into some of the most awful, awesome conflicts in my heart, and still does, and still does. Oh, those fellows in their driving against the Word of God, and their illimitable, immeasurable heights and depths of scholarship, oh, those fellows, sometimes I feel just beaten to the ground by them when I read it.”
Well, I want to give you an example of that, and how the amanuensis explains it to me. In my humble judgment – I’m not infallible I know, but as much as I can understand – I think every one of those devastating criticisms that German rationalistic, that modern theology brings against the Word of God, I think every one of them is explicable if we just know the truth.
All right, now I’m going to take one of them. One of the things that the rationalistic critic drives against the New Testament, in this instance, is 1 Peter and 2 Peter. First Peter is written elegantly, beautifully; the Greek language just flows along like a trickling stream, a rippling stream. But 2 Peter sounds as though it were written by a man who was using the Greek language with a dictionary; it is not native to him, the tongue is not native to him, and he’s struggling with the language and trying to express himself in the language. “Now how in the earth,” says the rationalist, the higher critic, “how in the earth can you stand up there and say that Simon Peter wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter, when whoever wrote 1 Peter did it in beautiful language, and whoever wrote 2 Peter struggled with the language to express himself. Now how do you explain that?”
Well, my brother, to me it is explicable simply, and plainly, and lucidly, and clearly in the amanuensis. Simon Peter spoke in Aramaic; he was a Galilean, and he spoke the language of Palestine. And he was a grown man when he followed Jesus. He was a fisherman out there. Now, you look at 2 Peter. In 1 Peter, in 1 Peter, he says, 1 Peter the last chapter, the fifth chapter, and the twelfth verse, he says, “By Silvanus, a faithful brother, I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying” [1 Peter 5:12]; but 2 Peter we don’t know who the amanuensis was. We know that he wrote 1 Peter by Silvanus, “By Silvanus I have written.” All right, now doesn’t this sound reasonable? Now listen, here is Simon Peter and he is speaking in Aramaic, he’s speaking in his native language, and the amanuensis is writing it down in Greek. So, the amanuensis who wrote 1 Peter was a man who knew how to write things in beautiful flowing Greek. So as Simon Peter dictated it, why, he wrote it down in beautiful Greek, the language flows along.
Now, 2 Peter, he either wrote it himself, or he wrote it through an amanuensis who was like himself, the Greek tongue was not native to him. So, in 2 Peter, if he wrote it himself, he’s struggling to express himself in the language, and by divine inspiration, he said just exactly what the Holy Spirit wanted him to say, but he did it as he himself wrote the language; whereas in 1 Peter under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an amanuensis wrote it beautifully. And that’s why you would have one style in 1 Peter, [Audio skips] dictating, speaking Aramaic; and here is an amanuensis who wrote it down in Greek as he translated it. And in 2 Peter, you have another amanuensis; either he wrote it himself or somebody else, and he was not fluent in Greek as the first man was, and so the language is not quite as beautiful; but both inspired by the Word, by the Spirit of the Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21].
Now, we’re going to have a little choice here. I have here a study of the Apocrypha; that is, the books that are not in the canon; and we have our Bible to mark, and we’ve got just a few minutes left. Now, what am I going to do? Shall I leave the Apocrypha until next time, and then we pick up our Bible and underscore these passages? Somebody said to me, “Preacher, what in the earth are you going to do? We had our first session,” and there are only sixteen of these sessions, “we had our first session to mark in the Bible, and we got through the first three chapters of Genesis. Now what you going to do through all the rest of the Word of God?” Oh, oh, what . . . [comment from audience] . . . they what? Oh, if they have seventeen sessions instead of sixteen, all right, well, I’ll tell you, let’s pick up the Apocrypha and the pseudepigrapha, that’s another class of writings, let’s pick them up next time. These are books that some say are inspired, but they are not in the canon of the Holy Bible. Now why aren’t they in that? Well, the Roman church says they belong in there, and they’ve got them in there. Why don’t we have them in there? Why doesn’t the Hebrew canon have them in there? Well, next time we’ll look at the Apocrypha and the pseudepigrapha, we’ll look at them and see why it is that they are not in the canon, why they’re not in the Holy Scriptures.
All right, now let’s take our Bibles, a new Bible. See this one? Like one brand new, let’s take our Bibles, and we’re going to underscore for just a moment; we’re going to underscore some of the great passages in the Holy Scriptures. Now, I told you the last time – and to bring a red pencil with you, a colored pencil with you – I said last time, “Now we’re going to put us a little wedge between the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis and the second verse of the first chapter of Genesis” [Genesis 1:1-2]. And after our study was over, somebody came to me and said, “Why don’t you tell us why it is that you think that all of those geological ages occurred between the first verse of Genesis and the second verse of Genesis?”
Well I said, “The reason is we’re going to be here all our lifetimes, and we’re never going to get this thing done.”
They said, “Well, let’s just spend a lifetime, and you say it anyway.”
Well, I’m going to just summarize it just like this: the reason that I think that there is a hiatus that contains all of the geological ages between the first verse and the second verse of Genesis is this, I take it as axiomatic that if God created the heaven and the earth, God could not do an imperfect thing; it is impossible with God to do something erroneously, in error, in mistake, in chaos, in void, in disarray. God is incapable of anything but perfection. So I say it is axiomatic that God, who created the heaven and the earth in the beginning, did it beautifully and perfectly [Genesis 1:1]; and in the second verse it says, “And the earth became formless and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2].
Now, what happened was this: the fall of Satan. God made Satan the ruler over the entire created universe; it was all given under his dominion. And he was responsible but to God for it, the entire creation was under the surveillance and in the keeping and in the mandate of Satan [John 12:31, 2 Corinthians 4:4]. And when Satan fell, the entire universe fell with him; all of God’s creation fell with him, all of it. There wasn’t any part of it that didn’t fall [Romans 8:21-22]. The entire universe fell with Satan; for sin always destroys, it blackens, it blasts. And when Satan fell, the whole universe fell with him. And these are those geological ages that we see in the rocks, and in the blasted stars, and in the deserts, and in the hand of disaster that is manifest in this whole creative universe. There’s no section of this universe that we can touch but that has been blasted by the fall of Satan.
And what you have in the first verses here in Genesis, the six days, is, you have the recreation of this planet earth [Genesis 1:3-31]. And when it is recreated, outside the gate is that same subtle enemy [Genesis 3:1]. He didn’t start at Eden; he started back there whenever it was that God created the sons of heaven and placed them under the commandship, the chieftainship of Lucifer [2 Corinthians 4:4]. And what you have here is not creation. The word “create,” bara, is only used, “In the beginning, God bara, created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. And the next time we come across that word bara is when He is creating men, animals, life of breath, the seeds even, and the roots of the previous creation are still in the earth. He didn’t create the vegetation, it was already here just ready to sprout and start again. The only time bara, create, is used is when He created the thing in the beginning. And then, since all of the animal life was destroyed, He created the animal life and man [Genesis 1:20-27].
And what you have here in the first chapter of Genesis, you have a recreation; that is, the bringing order out of chaos. That’s why the moon and the stars and the sun are appearing on the fourth day [Genesis 1:14-19]. Well, how in the earth could you have morning and evening if you didn’t have any sun, you didn’t have any day, you didn’t have any night?
Well, what happened was, on the fourth day the phenomenon of sunset and sunrise appeared [Genesis 1:14-19]. Until that time the thing was chaotic, it was mixed up; the earth, the land, the seas, it was just a chaotic mass, and it was shrouded and it was covered in darkness. And on the fourth day God had cleared it all out, and you had the phenomenon of the sun rising in the sky and setting in the west; and the stars shining and the moon at night. He didn’t create the sun then, on the fourth day; He created the sun in the beginning [Genesis 1:1]; nor the stars on the fourth day, He did that in the beginning [Genesis 1:1]; nor the moon on the fourth day, He did that in the beginning [Genesis 1:1]. But on the fourth day, in the recreation, the bursting of the sunrise and sunset [Genesis 1:14-19]; and so all the way through you have the recreation of the world.
Now, in verses 26, 27, of the first chapter [Genesis 1:26-27] – we’re just going through this quickly, we’ve already said this – and in the second chapter, verse 7, 16, 17, 21, 25 [Genesis 2:7, 16, 17, 21, 25]; the third chapter, verse 1, verse 15 [Genesis 3:1, 15]. I wonder if anybody can remember what I said about Genesis 3:15? Can anybody remember what I said about that? Could they? Stand up and say it, Freeman, yeah, what’d I say about that? [speaking from audience]
Now that’s right. Last Wednesday night, God bless you Judge, you’re so smart you ought to be on the Supreme Court of the United States instead of the guy that’s up there. Last Wednesday night I said that the entire text of the Bible, all of the Bible is Genesis 3:15. It is called the protevangelium, the gospel before the gospel; and the entire unfolding of the Word of God is the unfolding of that text, “The Seed of the woman shall crush Satan’s head,” all of that, following after.
Now, 4:9 is a famous question you ought to underline: “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” [Genesis 4:9]. You ought to underscore that. Now, in chapter 5, verse 4 – now the reason for I’d like for you to underscore it is this – “And the days of Adam, after he had begotten Seth, were eight hundred years: and he beget sons and daughters” [Genesis 5:4]; so some nincompoop, some screwball, some nitwit come to you and say, “Where did Cain get his wife?” Good night alive, as though the only children that Adam had were Cain, Abel, and Seth. Right there in the Book it says the fellow lived eight hundred years after he beget Seth, and in those eight hundred years he beget sons and daughters [Genesis 5:4]. How many offspring do you think a guy could have, if he’s potent and virulent, if he had eight hundred years in which to do it? How many kids you think he’d have? I tell you. Think of that, eight hundred years to do it in, boy!
I read an authoritative commentary on this one time, years ago. And that fellow had figured out how many women there were that Cain could have chosen among to marry, and he had figured it out scientifically that Cain could have chosen among thirty-five thousand women, he picked him out a wife. And then some delude will come by and say, “Where did Cain get his wife?” You remember what the Lord said to the scribes and the Pharisees: “You do exceedingly err, not knowing the Scriptures” [Matthew 22:29]. All you got to do is read these things and all of them come out.
All right, now we got to go on. Now look over here in verse 24, in verse 24, chapter 5, Genesis, 24, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” [Genesis 5:24]. That ought to be underscored. Now, the twenty-seventh verse ought to be underscored: “All the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years; he lived to the Flood” [Genesis 5:27]. Do you ever wonder about Methuselah, did he die in the Flood? Was he an ungodly man, or did he die the day the Flood began? Now it’s one or the other, because he lived up until the day that the rain began to pour down, and the deeps began to break up. Methuselah lived to the day of the Flood.
Now, you ought to underscore the third verse of the sixth chapter of Genesis. The Lord said, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” [Genesis 6:3]. Now you ought to underscore the sixteenth verse of the next chapter, Genesis 7:16. I have preached on this: God sent all those animals into the ark [Genesis 7:14-16], then He sent Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Noah’s wife [Genesis 7:13], and the Lord shut him in [Genesis 7:16]; God closed the door, the Lord shut the door. That’s a good thing to remember when you preach the gospel to the lost. We don’t close it, God does it. It’s a judgment of the Lord; the Lord shut him in. And the Book expressly says, Jesus expressly says, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man” [Luke 17:26]. The Lord shut Noah in, he didn’t do it. I can just hear those people just banging on the door, “Noah, you know me, I live next door to you. Your boy played with my boy. You know me, open this door.” Well, hard hearted Noah? No, not that at all; God shut that door, God closed the door. Oh, makes you scared to death.
All right, the twenty-second verse of the eighth chapter of Genesis [Genesis 8:22], and the thirteenth through the seventeenth verses of the ninth chapter of Genesis [Genesis 9:13-17]; we’re going to study the covenants of the Bible, and we’re going to go back to this. This is the Noaic Covenant:
I do set My bow in the cloud; it shall be a token of a covenant between Me and thee,
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease,
And My bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
The Noaic Covenant.
Now you may also want to take the eighteenth verse of the ninth chapter of Genesis: the three great ethnic groups of all humanity [Genesis 9:18]. Shem, we leave off the “h” when we use it adjectivally, “Semitic,” actually it is Shemitic; the Shemitic people, the Shemitic tribes, or we leave the “h” out, Semitic, Semitic. And Ham, Hamites, all of the Africans come from Ham; and Japheth, Japheth; we’re all descendants of Japheth.
Well, God bless us, we’ll pick it up. We did pretty good, we got three more chapters in it tonight. And the rest will come in God’s time. Now, is Dr. Eddleman here?