Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.

Revisionist History


There are some people and organizations that believe in some incorrect things so strongly that when they find out they are wrong, they would rather make up a story - or even go as far as to call God and Jesus liars - than change their minds. Don't think so? Read on.


The Bible is a history Book that relates to us the events in the past.


Stay with the word

As is obvious from the other writings on this site, we feel that one of the most important aspects of interpretations of passages in the Bible is to make sure that the interpretations do not conflict with the rest of the book. However, in making sure the interpretation matches, it is equally important that you do not twist, delete from, or add to, the original statement to make it match what you may already believe. Otherwise, you are revising history and the result is not necessarily the Truth.

Finding an easier path for Christians, by calling Jesus a liar?

Remember back in Matthew 5 when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount? He described some beatitudes that foresaw what will happen for those who are Godly. After saying that He did not come to change the law, He said that each one is actually more strict than even the Pharisees knew. He also added the requirement of righteousness to the actions of obedience as necessary to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20
20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

and Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."


Jesus added meaning

Do you remember that Jesus didn't make the "murder" commandment, or any of the others for that matter, easier for people to follow? Instead, He actually made it harder by putting forth the concept of someone being condemned who is "merely" angry with his brother. In other words, He expanded on the meaning of the intent of the law. How do pastors claim that the law is gone for Gentiles when Jesus said that it means more than we thought?

Pastors don't like that, so it must be wrong

After reading Matthew 5:22
22"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca,' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

, there are people, including pastors, who adamantly feel that this that cannot be the true meaning of the verse. They ask, "How can someone who simply says 'You fool!' be in danger of hell fire? If that is true, then it destroys the doctrines of eternal security and assurance of salvation." I guess they haven't read 2 Peter 2:20-21
20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.


"What's wrong with that?"

Actually, there are two problems with this objection. The first is that it contradicts the unquestionable statement by Jesus that is spoken in the present tense, not future. The second is that it assumes that the belief in pre-assigned salvation that cannot be lost is valid (for the truth, see 2 Peter 2:20-21
20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

, discussed elsewhere on this site on the Salvation page). Changing the words of the Lord to match a belief that is not justified by the Bible seems a very dangerous thing to me.

How do people reconcile this obvious conflict with the words of the Source of All Truth? Was He wrong? Was He saying something else? Was the statement translated accurately? How do we know? Many just change the context of the verse so that it applies to a time yet to come so that it does not apply to the people to whom it was first spoken nor the people of today. Or, even worse, they add or remove words to make it softer. Again, how do we know how to interpret this?

More common than you think

That is exactly the current trend in churches today. Think I'm kidding? Take a look at the site at Grace in Focus. The author of the article tells of a pastor who is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount and mentions that he is having trouble with Matthew 5:22.

The author agrees with the pastor and says that he can't believe that this statement is true because it destroys his concept of assurance of salvation (think, "I'm saved no matter what I do."). Here is an excerpt from that site in response to the person who had the concern (himself a pastor of a church in North Carolina):

Whoever Says "You Fool!"
Shall Be in Danger of Hell Fire
-Matthew 5:22

By Bob Wilkin

Recently I received a call regarding this passage from Pastor Rick Lawrenson of Nags Head Baptist Church in Nags Head, North Carolina. Rick is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount, (a brave man!) and this passage was giving him trouble:
Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, "Raca!" shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, "You fool!" shall be in danger of hell fire (Matt 5:22).
The verse is difficult. How can someone who simply says "You fool!" be in danger of hell fire? If that is true, then it destroys the doctrines of eternal security and assurance of salvation. How can I be sure my destiny is God's kingdom if by calling a person a fool I will end up in hell? Who among us has never said something equal to or worse than "You fool"?

The Millennial Kingdom Is in View

The disciples, who were Jews and also helped found the Church, can represent believers during the church age, believers during the Tribulation, or believers during the Millennium. There are details in v 22 which could only be true of the Millennium.

No one during the church age is brought before "the council" for saying "Raca!" (numskull, empty-head, or fool). No one is in danger of judgment simply because he is angry with his brother without cause. Similarly, there is no evidence that these things will take place during the Tribulation either. However, since the Millennium will be a time of the righteous rule of the King of kings and Lord of lords, a time when Satan is bound, there will be righteous judgment. Rampant sin will not be tolerated as it is today.

Jesus lied? "Well, maybe that's not what He meant to say..."

His solution? In order to make the word match his own philosophy, he concludes that Jesus must be speaking of a time that not only had not come in His day, but that still has not come in our day - the Millennium. After all, the author says, which of us hasn't done that? And, we can't possibly be condemned because we're so special. He further reasons that, since we weren't told that the unbelieving Jews of the time held court to condemn it, it wasn't valid in the first church. That trend of the author's thought, without benefit of investigation and verification, leads Christians further away from the word of God. That is, if the whole of the real word is being taught at all in today's churches.

Before we go further, please note that the words of Matthew 5:22 regarding committing the act are in the present tense:

"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (emphasis mine) (NIV)

The only future tense is regarding the time of judgment, not referring to the action of being angry itself.

There are controversies

We can't just blame the author above for having his opinion, since the Bible version he used on the site did have a phrase that was included in the KJV text but was not in the Greek. But, why the difference in translations? Note the difference between the NIV in the box above and how the KJV renders the passage as:

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (emphasis added)

Note the addition of the words "without a cause". This little phrase is not in the Greek text, but was added in the KJV. The writer of the article at Grace in Focus above even used a Biblical quote that includes these added words, and uses them in his response to the questioner:

From the same article above:

Why does Jesus refer to "his brother"? This could refer to one of three people: 1) one's literal brother, 2) one's ethnic brother, in this case a fellow Jew, 3) one's spiritual brother, a fellow believer. While all three are possible here, option 1 is very unlikely. Why would Jesus put such narrow limits on this scenario? Even option 2 seems a bit narrow. There will likely be many Gentiles in the Millennium. Option 3 seems most likely. Jesus' point is that if a believer is simply angry with a fellow-believer without a cause, then he will be in danger of judgment. The Lord Jesus will not tolerate that sort of conduct. The judgment is not specified. In light of the next scenario, it likely refers to a trial and possible fines, community service, or jail time. It could even result in capital punishment, since Jesus is here equating hatred with murder (see vv 21-22), which under the Mosaic Law was punishable by death. (emphasis added)

How deep do we have to look?

Is it wrong to quote from a Bible that modifies the original statement to make it softer than the original words of Jesus? Is it OK to be angry with a brother if we have a good reason? How can we even tell if the reason is good? However, if we are spreading the gospel mixed with lies, are we leading people toward or away from Christ?

According to Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers, it is assumed that the translator was trying to "soften down the apparent harshness of the teaching". Here is the Greek with translation:

"Oh. Well, as long as you have a good reason...just shoot him"

This addition in the KJV changes the meaning to allow anger - if it is justified. This can create another issue of controversy in that the "justification" can be itself a matter of opinion. Would the author of the article (and the speaking pastor) have accepted this KJV version since it allows both the inevitable anger of humans if justified and his idea of salvation that cannot be lost regardless of our actions? Does this mean that Paul was wrong when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:5
5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

to "take captive every thought"? Maybe we can make a new translation that says, "take captive most thoughts".

There are factions on many sides of the issue with this passage in Matthew. You can see some of the stands at A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, where the author goes through a very detailed analysis of the different opinions as to why the KJV adds a phrase.

In short, the article indicates that some of the old manuscripts have the Greek word for "without a cause

" added to the verse, while others do not. It seems that some feel that the words "without a cause" were in the original writings, but later removed, then even later, put back in by some and not others. Some say that the words were not in the originals, but were added to include the concept of God's anger as justified. Others hold that it must have been omitted accidently in translation. No one can say for sure. The result? The waters are so muddy that "everyone's opinion matters".

Who determines the "cause"?

While each faction gives a plausible reason for his stand, we are left without facts and have only suppositions to support the claim that Jesus was wrong. I guess this makes the matter what Paul calls "disputable", as far as the phrase "without cause" is concerned. If we "feel" justified in being angry, then are we OK? Stating it in a slightly different version of a common question, "What would Jesus think about people calling Him a liar?" or "What would Jesus say today if He were here?" He is here, you know.

However, this just changes the degree or duration of the anger of which Jesus spoke. It does not move the whole discussion to affect only those in the future living in some fantasy "perfect world" that some see existing for a thousand years before the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven. The context in which Jesus said this statement was for believers at the time of Christ and all the time thereafter - not just those in the Millennium.

Otherwise, why warn us about something that doesn't apply to the people of His day if people are to be judged in different ways in different times? Today's pastors will just say that it applies to those "bad" churches, and that members of his "good" church are fine. Sound familiar?

What we think will happen doesn't really matter

Remember, what we think doesn't matter. As Doris Day sang a long time ago, "Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be." Things will happen God's way, no matter what we think. We are just getting signs and warnings along with clear instructions, but too many are ignoring them because they think they are too harsh, or just too "Jewish". And, in all the reading about this issue so far, no one has mentioned the fact that the verses say "in danger of" hell fire. This implies that there is still hope if one is truly repentant. They do not say that everyone who says this "will burn in hell". Read what it says, not what you think it means, and make sure your translation does not cause contradictions with other parts of the Bible. (For a discussion of the signs we ignore, see the Signs and Warnings page).

God warns us in Deuteronomy 4:2
2Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

and Proverbs 30:6
6Do not add to his words,
        or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

to leave His words alone. Yeah, these are from the Old Testament, and "only given to the Israelites", but that doesn't make them void (Isaiah 55:10-11
10As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
        It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
        and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

). In fact, in the next chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah 56:6-8 6And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
        to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
        and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
        and who hold fast to my covenant -
7these I will bring to my holy mountain
        and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
        will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
        a house of prayer for all nations."
8The Sovereign Lord declares -
        he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them
        besides those already gathered."

), we read that Gentiles obeying His law and hold fast to His covenant will be blessed. Sometimes it is hard to tell the truth from the lies with all the translations available, but as long as the words we read match the whole Bible without conflict, and we follow them, we will be safe.

That's just one example

As you can see by the pages on the rest of this site, there are many instances where Christians, churches, and even pastors select demonstrably incorrect revisions of the word of God and teach it because it allows some pet belief to survive or softens the impact of the real word of God. The term for that is revisionist history, and if the revisions are incorrect, the teaching of them is a lie. But, if we can call Jesus a liar, doubting His words, what difference does revising things make? Eternally, that is (shudder). Remember Luke 17:1
1Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.


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