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Where Sound Doctrine Endures
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men. After the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Colossians 2:8
Issue #21 November & December 2005

Following the Biblical Stream:
By Philip Busby

Last time, we ended by talking about Genesis chapter 3 verse 19. Verse 19 brings us to the end of the story of the fall. Adam and Eve had been tempted, they had fallen to that temptation, they tried to do something about what they then understood; God had come down and God laid out the curses. The sequence of the fall was over, and verse 20 tells us where things went from there. This may seem to most as simply a technicality, but it's relevant to understanding the Bible. God had dealt with the action of Adam and Eve taking of the fruit. Now God would deal with events as they unfolded from there.

As we talked about last time, God used the word "because" when laying out the curses. God told Adam, "Because thou has harkened to the voice of thy wife." Because of their taking of the fruit God had told them not to, and the specifics which surrounded that event, God laid out certain curses which would follow them. Of course, the curses laid on Adam and Eve would affect us all but that is simply because Adam and Eve are the mother and father of us all. It may be the opinion of some that the sequence of events really goes all the way to the end of this chapter, but that is not true. It may be the opinion of some that the events here are not that chronological, that they are more of a wrap up of the whole mess; but I don't believe this is the right way to look at it. What we are dealing with, beginning in verse 20, is life after the fall, just as the rest of the entire Bible is about. What I'm trying to point out here is the specifics of the first sin are out of the way, and we are now seeing God dealing with man, step by step, as simply a being which is no longer innocent. God's interactions from here on are based on that fact.

Verse 20 shows us how this new life of post innocence would begin! It says Adam called the name of his wife Eve. Adam had named every animal as God brought them before him during creation, (Gen. 2:19) and now he would give a specific name, or what we would call a proper name, to his wife. She would no longer simply be "the woman." The reason for all this is pointed out in the meaning of the name Adam gave her. Eve means "mother," and the verse tells us Adam called her this because she was the "mother of all living." In this verse, we see the human attitude to his new circumstances. As we have talked about, over and over, God made man a free willed being from the start. At the same time, we see in verse 28 of chapter 1, God gives Adam and Eve a list of do's. God tells them to be fruitful, to multiply, to replenish the earth, to subdue the earth and have dominion over the animals. These were all instructions which God gave man when man was still walking in innocence and expecting to live forever here on this planet. Now that man had taken of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, things had changed. God had changed the physical world as they knew it, by cursing the ground. Man had obtained the knowledge of good and evil, but he was not doing very good at being responsible with it. There were serious issues which needed to be dealt with at this point. Verse 21 says, God has to make them coats of skin because they still hadn't fixed the very first problem they faced. In spite of all this, verse 20 tells us the very next thing Adam does is name his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living!

Why is this an important fact? Because it shows that in spite of all that had happened, man's first thought and choice was to further the human race. Understand that what we are seeing in verse 20 is Adam's thought pattern. Eve was not his mother, she was his wife! However, Adam names her Eve, "because she was the mother of all living." Up to this time, we do not see Adam naming his wife. She is simply referred to as "the woman" or "wife." Even talking to God, after they had taken of the fruit, Adam says, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me..." There is no indication that before the fall having children was anything more than, on the to do list. That was not a problem, especially in light of the fact they had eternity ahead of them. Now, we could talk about a great deal of things here, but suffice it to say that now Adam planned on multiplying. He planned on propagating the human race. I realize, to some, this may seem like an odd thing to point out, but we must realize man had choices. When God had told them to multiply, it was under different circumstances. After they took of the fruit, God told Eve she would have great sorrow in bearing and raising children. God had told Adam he would have to work the ground and eat food by the sweat of his face. They were told they would return to the dust of the ground one day! They may have had no real grasp as to what all this meant, but presumably, at the point of verse 20, they are still standing there with nothing but fig leaves tied around their waist for clothing. So, it's still odd that under these new circumstances the first thing we see Adam doing is naming his wife, specifically because she would be a mother!

If they were going to have children, every decision Adam and Eve made was crucial as to how the world would unfold. I don't think we can appreciate their position. Our decisions will affect those around us and the generations to come. However, because God confounded the languages, our effects are even more limited or isolated than they would have been. Our actions may be limited to just our own culture for the most part. Other things may only affect our immediate family; but for Adam and Eve, almost everything they did was going to resonate, to some degree, down the human race. On at least some level, I believe Adam understood this fact, and that is another reason we see the record of Adam giving a proper name to his wife. Eve is the defining word for mother. Eve would not just be someone's mother, she would be the mother of every human. This would be true with only one exception - and that is Jesus. So, Eve's very name would remind her of her responsibility every day!

Verse 21 tells us, God made coats of skin for both Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve could not clothe themselves well enough on their own. So, God shows them what they needed to do. This verse specifically points out God made coats for both of them. Sometimes, we get the thought in our head that God simply punished Adam and Eve for taking the fruit and left. We think God simply causes them pain, curses the ground, then kicks them out into the cold, cold, world with nothing. This is another part of what I was trying to emphasize earlier. The transition has been made. By verse 20, we are on the other side of crime and punishment - so to speak. Here, in verse 21, God is showing His care and concern for Adam and Eve. We see here, the illustration that God is still with them. He has in no way left them or forsaken them. (Heb. 13:5) With His hands, God formed their flesh; and with His hands, He would clothe that flesh, thus, taking care of the very first problem they struggled with and showing them He still wanted to care for them. It's very important we understand this. It's pagan teaching which tries to take an incorruptible God and re-draw His image in the likeness of corruptible men. (Rom. 1:21-23) The fact man had fallen into sin had not touched the Holiness of God. The fact His Righteousness and Holiness can't be touched by our sin, is what causes the separation we feel. However, as we are still on this earth, God is available to us at all times, and God has made a way for us to never be separate from Him even after this life is passed! All we must do, is show, being with Him is the desire of our heart. We do this by simply recognizing in our actions and words that we want God to be Lord of our lives. It's really the most fascinating thing in all the universe! Our God of pure Holiness only asks that we show we believe He is loving enough and caring enough to walk with us even while we are yet sinners. (Rom. 5:8) Which means, even death will not separate us from His love. Essentially, God only asks that we recognize His nature and that it's the right way of life. Thus, we should, and must recognize God's Son, Jesus Christ, has already done the work necessary to redeem us!

As I talked about in an earlier issue, the concept of killing animals was completely foreign to Adam and Eve. When they realized they were naked they tried to use a plant resource, as they had not yet discovered the technology of weaving. I'm sure, it never dawned on them that animal skin would make a good covering. The very idea of shedding blood had to be completely appalling! So, when it says here, God made them coats of skin, not only must the concept of killing animals for parts been hard to take, but the idea of having dead animal skin against their skin must have been almost sickening! These kinds of issues are what still drives some people in our society today to be vegetarians. They just can't stand the idea that something which has eyes and a mouth could actually be put in their mouth and eaten. It's in our most basic nature not to shed blood. However, humans can be desensitized to the idea, just as they can so many things.

This verse is the establishment of the symbol of sacrificing. We know from the story of Cain and Able, that sacrificing animals was not something which developed later on, or as part of the law. It's here, in the twenty-first verse of Genesis chapter 3, we see God setting the example. Sacrificing animals would never be enough to cover the sins of man. This was illustrated in the fact, God made coats for Adam and Eve with the skins. Their nakedness was the first thing they realized after their eyes were opened, and the sacrifice of these animals took care of that problem. However, the road of life was going to be long. There were going to be far more problems for Adam and Eve to figure out. The sacrifice, of especially these first animals may have taken care of one issue, but only this one, and only temporarily.

In this first sacrifice was all the illustrations of sacrifice. It showed that there is no remission of sin without blood. (Heb. 9:19-22) It illustrated that a better sacrifice was going to be needed. (Heb. 9:23-26) It reminded Adam and Eve of the words God had said about returning to the dust from which they were made. (Gen. 3:19) This precept is why at least part of a sacrifice is burned. Burning is simply a way to hasten the process of returning to dust. Nothing goes back to a dust state faster than when it is burned. Because of sin, this flesh is only temporary. Adam and Eve needed to understand that concept. Adam had named his wife, Eve, because she was the mother of all and that was a heavy burden. So too, they both needed to understand the dust to dust concept better and remember it. It's far to easy for us to get caught up in the things of this world, and sacrificing was a way of reminding us the things of this world will pass, and we need to put our trust in something more permanent.

Adam and Eve would take on this concept of sacrifice and make it part of their connection to God. It's the symbol covenant made between man and God. Sacrificing showed that they understood, that they got the point. When Cain and Able came before God and Cain did not bring a blood sacrifice, God asked Cain why he was wroth. Didn't he know that if he would simply bring the offering which showed he understood what it was going to take, God would accept it. The sacrifice was not a competition, and it was not something to simply be made up or changed by man. It had symbolism which fostered understanding, and symbolism has to be done correctly or it has no meaning at all. When it comes to sacrificing, man would lose out over the centuries and become confused by false religion. This is the reason God established a specific people who would be given a specific law. This law would lay out exactly how sacrificing should be done and when. These people would then illustrate to us all the right symbolism. (Rom. 3:1-2)

Verse 21 tells us, God made "coats of skins." Some commentaries will tell you the word "coats" is a reference to nothing more than an apron. However, this point of view is not based on the entire scripture. The Hebrew word which "coats" is translated from here comes from a root word meaning "to cover." In English, to think of a garment like an apron is not appropriate. There are words in Hebrew which describe a garment which would hang from the shoulders. There are also words to describe a garment which would be tied around the waist. In fact, the earlier verse (7) which tells us Adam and Eve made "aprons" out of fig leaves, shows us one of those words. It's a word which means to gird or tie something on, usually around the waist. The garment Adam and Eve made for themselves was obviously not good enough even by their standard. Thus, they hide from God when He came into the garden. It is absurd to think God would have been satisfied with such a garment.

Verse 21 says, God made "coats" and "clothed" Adam and Eve with them. The Hebrew word "coats" comes from here, is not a word for a garment which hangs from the shoulders or one which is just around the waist. It simply means, God made something to cover their bodies with. When you look at the Hebrew word "clothed" is translated from, you find it means to wrap around. So, if you take the entire verse's wording, you find you are most likely talking about more of what we would describe as a robe.

Another indication these "coats" would have been more than just a skirt or apron, is the fact, the Hebrew word "coats" is translated from here is the same word used later to describe the garment of the priests. The outer garment the priest wore was a full length robe, to be sure. (Ex. 28:1-29:9) Then the priest also had a girdle or apron which was worn on top of the outer robe. The "coat" was the base garment which the priest wore under all the other elements of the priestly attire. It was not his underwear as we might say today. God commanded the priests cover his nakedness with linen breeches. The description of those being from the loins to the thighs. The priest's clothing was carefully designed so the priest's flesh was covered very well when going before the Lord, and even as a base garment, an apron would not have been good enough!

Understanding the right way in which these verses are being laid out is very crucial when you get to the twenty-second verse of Genesis, chapter 3. God says in this verse, the man has "become as one of us" in the aspect of knowing good and evil. Therefore, God would remove man from the Tree of Life. This too, was not part of the specific curses or punishment for the fact Adam and Eve had taken the forbidden fruit. This was God dealing with the aspects of human existence under the new circumstances. Adam, in the naming of his wife, had made it clear he intended to further the human race by having children. It was not the determination of Adam and Eve to simply allow their existence to end and there be no others. Even if Adam and Eve believed it was still their obligation to multiply under these new circumstances, there is no evidence they asked God about the matter!

God had already told Adam and Eve they would return to the dust from which they were made. So this verse is not telling us a new determination on God's part, but it's making clear, death would be true for all humans. It was not just Adam and Eve who would return to the dust. Every human would have to face mortality. This was a further instruction for Adam and Eve. God was not going to simply kill them one day. Without the Tree of Life, they and their offspring would have a natural life cycle of growing old and dying. Just how long that cycle would be, would depend on a large number of factors. Certain things could also cut that cycle short as well. Death by accident would be a part of their world. Murder would soon be a part of their world. After the flood, death by animals would even be true. (Gen. 9:2-6) If there was any doubt in Adam and Eve's mind as to if their children would die, this should have settled it. That is why this scripture is separate from the return to dust edict. God was saying, humans as a race have obtained the knowledge of good and evil. God knew not all men would even try to be responsible for this knowledge. As strange as it may sound, death of these physical forms is the love of God! Even with the short life spans we live today, people still complain about the suffering "God allows." Can you imagine the suffering if we never died? Even if there were never sickness, or maybe I should say especially if there were no sickness, there would still be the misery of man's choices and mistakes. I don't think we can even imagine the degradation society could come to.

The other aspect of being removed from the Tree of Life, is we would have no false hope of control over the circumstances of death. Man has made the medical field one of his top priorities, and it has long been man's hope he will someday find that miracle cure for it all. It's true we have had some success in extending peoples lives, but the practice of medicine has also ended many peoples lives prematurely. In today's world, we are even willing to kill some for the sake of extending other's lives. It's hard to say just how much good we have actually done when weighed against the bad. The point is, even if we overcome some of the injuries we sustain or diseases we face, we can never know when they come upon us, if we will live or die and when! Even if God steps in and miraculously heals us, we will still face death someday. There is nothing in our power which can hold back this truth, and right from the start of these new circumstances God wanted that to be clear!

God wanted these facts to be clear, so verse 23 tells us, God sent man out of the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was not just a natural place. It was a place God specifically planted. So sending man out of the garden was simply another way to drive home the point, man was going to have to make his own choices now, not just take for granted the things God had originally prepared for them. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were totally in God's hands. Only their decision to take of the fruit could change that. After taking of the fruit, they knew right from wrong. They would have to make the choice on an ongoing basis as to whether they would seek the voice and things of God or not. There was no better way for them to understand that point than to, in many ways, start all over again. If man was going to even have a garden to live in, it was going to have to be built under the new circumstances man had chosen for himself. It would also have to be built with man's hands. Just as God had formed man from the ground, man would have to work that same ground from which he was made. There is benefit in getting our hands dirty. In learning what it feels like to foster life. In working the ground, man would learn the principles of changing seasons. He would understand seed time and harvest. Every time he planted a seed, he would be shown the truth of death, burial, and new life. (John 12:24-25) Whether God has anything to do with man's personal life or not, would be a choice man would have to make. Man would have to choose, literally from the ground up, if the life he built would look anything like the one God had planned or intended!

Again, God is working for our good. The fact God told us we would have to work the ground, was a good thing. It's what man has chosen, once again, that has turned God's work into death. The fact so much of our society has chosen to turn from agriculture of any kind, is a large source of the mental anguish we face. God intended us to be creative, but being trapped in some office or on some assembly line under man made lights was not the plan of God. These ideas are part of a man made society and the love of money which God says is the root of all evil. (I Tim. 6:1-11) No matter what this life's circumstances have brought us to, we should never become disconnected from the simple facts of our creation. We should never forget how we were formed, and knowing why we were formed will never be found on a production floor. So, even if you live in a small apartment or have other circumstances that may hinder you from having a full-fledged garden. I encourage you, to at the very least, get a little pot and some seeds this next spring. Grow yourself a tomato or even just some herbs. It will do your heart and the heart of God good!

I'll see you next time!

Living Springs' Questions and Answers

1 Thess. 5:22 -----mistranslation or not, please explain.

The answer to this question all depends on which "translation" of the English Bible you are talking about! I put the word "translation" in quotations, because to call some versions a translation is really not an accurate description. There are many versions of the English Bible which, at best, are interpretations. When you go from a language like Greek or Hebrew into a language like English, there are always going to be difficulties. You can't simply translate word for word like you might do if you were translating from Spanish to English. To start with, English sentence structure is very different from that of Hebrew or Greek. Another problem is, the fact there is not always an English word to directly translate to. English is a very weak language, and there is rarely a word in English which even comes close to carrying the same emphasis and indications.

This last problem is made worse by the fact English is not getting better, it is getting worse all the time! This means, the English we speak today, is even weaker than the language spoken at the time of the King James translation. In fact, English has changed so much over the years, many people feel they can't understand a translation like the King James. This has led to the proliferation of Bible "translations," and though many people feel they can understand these versions better, they many times are getting even less of what was originally meant than ever before, and sadly, many versions are simply wrong for the most part!

Keep in mind that the Bible is the most important book you'll ever read. We should not take studying the Bible lightly. It is very true that many people will not find time in this life to learn Greek and/or Hebrew. Many, may never know, or realize, there is even value in doing so. It's also true that even if we study these languages, we still may never get the whole picture in the depth and color the people of the day would have gotten. However, the above facts should emphasize to us that there is a better understanding and greater expressiveness to the Bible, we need to seek. Simply picking up the version of the Bible you feel puts the wording in the most simplistic terms, is not the right idea. We need to put forth more effort than that, if we really want to know what was truly said. So, I encourage people to think about it this way. It's far easier to study and understand the emphases and phrasing of older English, like the King James Bible uses, than it is to study and understand Greek and Hebrew. We should, at the very least, be willing to make understanding of Older English part of our life goals when talking about something as important as God's Word!

All that being said, we now want to take a specific look at the verse in question. As I started out saying, whether this is a correct translation or not all depends on which English version of the Bible you are looking at. The Living Bible says, "Keep away from every kind of evil." Phillip's Modern English says, "Steer clear of evil in any form." The New King James, the New American Standard, and the Revised Standard Version all state, "Abstain from every form of evil." The Today's English Version and the New International Version both say, "Avoid every kind of evil." The Jerusalem Bible says, "avoid every form of evil," and the New English Bible says, "avoid the bad of whatever kind."

Again, I will emphasize the fact that no version is going to be perfect in every way. However, all the above stated versions have serious problems! Now before we go any further, I want to make the fact clear, I will be talking about the "translation" of this verse (I Thess. 5:22) alone. Which versions I believe are better or worse overall is a lecture for a different time.

In my opinion, the worst of the above versions is the New English Bible (NEB). The only word this version gets any points for is "avoid." The reason for this will become clear as we talk about the verse more. Even the word "avoid" is not great, but it is the only word in the verse which portrays at least some of the right meaning. Going up the list, you have The Jerusalem Bible (TJB); Today's English Version (TEV); and the New International Version (NIV). These versions, at least, use the word "evil," which is what makes them slightly better than the NEB, which only uses the word "bad." It is true that this is one of those times when we need a much more descriptive word than our English word "evil," and that is part of the reason the King James Version (KJV) uses the word "appearance" in its text. Standing all by itself, the word "evil," as we think of it in English, is probably a little too harsh. However, the word "bad' has problems in both ways. It may not be as harsh as "evil," but it is still too emphatic. While, at the same time, "bad" is a weaker word that makes it sound like you are talking about a mistake or misstep instead of something which is truly wrong. Again, this will be clearer when we talk about what the verse truly means.

Almost all these versions have the problem of being too general. If you do what you should in studying the Bible, you should take this verse in the context it is written. As you read your way to the twenty-second verse, you find Paul is giving a list of instructions to the church. He is telling them what he wants them to do and not do among themselves and unto others. The wording of these versions throws off the meaning, because we are not talking so general. They all say things like "every kind of evil" or "every form of evil." We should all know that anything which is evil doesn't belong in the life of a believer! What we need instruction on is, just exactly what is evil? This is a time where Paul is trying to point out a specific course of action in order to guide our lives. It is the "appearance" of evil we are dealing with here, not evil in every form it exists!

All the versions which use the word "abstain" are doing a better job. This is because the word "abstain" is about as good an English word as can be found for that part of the statement. The Living Bible says "keep away," and the Phillip's Modern English uses the phrase "steer clear." Most, may believe these are no better than using the word "avoid," but it is my opinion that these versions make, at least, an attempt to indicate there is prior thought and effort to be put forth on our part. The word "avoid" tends to only cover the idea of a swerve and hope for a miss, as you come upon the evil. We need to think ahead about our actions. We should not just blunder through life doing what we want. We may need to restrain ourselves from involvement in certain actions, not just hope we can sidestep the pitfalls as they come.

The attempt to bring the depth of this scripture into English is done best by the King James Version. The KJV says "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Again, the word "abstain" is as good as it gets in English for translation from the original Greek word. The original has more meaning, but "abstain" does good at getting the point across. As I said before, the idea is not just to swerve and miss but to put thought and effort into not doing an action. This word is not just telling us to stand away from something but to hold ourselves off, or away, from something. There is more distance in this word than the simple avoidance of things. It recognizes the fact there are things which we will desire to do or even believe there is nothing wrong in doing, which we will need to put conscious thought into refraining ourselves from!

A good example of this idea is telling your kids about sex before marriage. If we believe in the Bible, we believe it is not God's plan for humans to have sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage, which is a life long commitment. Thus, we do not teach our children to simply avoid having sex outside of marriage as if it's not a great idea, but we tell them to abstain! Especially, in a society where sexuality is basically worshiped as king, it's not good enough to simply worry about the issue when it comes up, but it needs to be a part of our mind set, and will, that we are going to do what it takes to keep ourselves clean!

So, the verse says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." The word "all" here means simply that, ALL. Not part or just what you decide to pick and choose as a personal preference, but all. The next word is very key to understanding what is being instructed here, and the fact most other versions mistranslate this, leaving out the right idea all together, is extreme fallacy! The word "appearance" is what tells us the specifics Paul is instructing us on, and this teaching is a pillar of the New Testament.

When Jesus walked this earth, He told us, not a jot or tittle would be removed from the law till all of it be fulfilled. (Matt. 5:18) It always amazes me how we miss this fact. Far too many churches get hung up on the idea that after the resurrection of Christ, we are living "under grace." They miss the fact, we have always been living under grace! So many churches emphasize this idea as if it is New Testament only. The true evil which exists in that, is it gives the idea God has changed, or that the plan of God is different somehow. This lack of good teaching has opened the door for people feeling they can go around doing just whatever they want. They say things like, "I don't have to worry about my actions because I'm living under grace" or "in the freedom of the spirit." If anything, Jesus taught that humans were failing to grow in God, and we needed to do much better if we truly loved God. This is not about earning heaven, but it is about the life we choose. Whether we think we are paying attention to the physical things, or we feel we are simply "living in the spirit," our actions should follow after righteousness. Saying, "Being good is just a fable I just can't because I'm not able. I'm going to leave it to the Lord." is not a right attitude. We must choose, in our everyday actions, if a life of sin and satisfaction of the flesh is what we want, or if we want the things of God. We show what we have chosen through our actions. If not caring for the things which are important to God is the way we want to live our lives, then heaven is not for us. So it's about putting forth the effort to do the good and specifically reject the evil.

One day Jesus was teaching, and He went over several things that were in the law which we should be doing better at. He was telling us there should be growth! He said, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:43-48) In another place Jesus tells the people the reason Moses gave permission to write a bill of divorcement, was because of the hardness of their hearts. (Mark 10:1-9) This hardness is something true believers in God should overcome by opening their heart to be truly changed by God. The idea of growth is emphatically taught throughout the New Testament. God says in the Old Testament, He wants His people to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him. (Micah 6:8) Jesus shows us the law was only the beginning of that understanding. There is a much higher way of living than just where the letter of these original laws puts you. We are not just sitting here waiting for Christ to return. We are supposed to be walking the walk, making choices in life which show we care for God and others, not just ourselves. This is why Paul instructs us to abstain from all appearance of evil. The word "appearance" means the literal form our lives take on. What we do in our actions, the places we choose to go, the clothes we choose to wear, and the things we choose to talk about are all things which are important.

The Greek word the KJV translates "evil" from is a word which has a base meaning of hurtful. This is one of those instances in which English really fails, because we really need more than one word so that we know what kind of "evil" we are talking about. There is an evil which is the very nature of something. A clear example of this, which our society continually tries to distort, is lying. There is no such thing as a little white lie. It doesn't matter if you believed you were protecting someone or something. Lying is evil. (Rev. 21:8) It is wrong and it has caused more trouble in human history than anyone can ever calculate! So, there are things which are evil no matter what the conditions or circumstances. They are evil by their very nature. Then there is an evil which refers to degeneration. Man is not evil, but there are "evil people." God did not create us to be evil. We are not born evil, but some people choose the evil of this life. As they do, they degrade downward into a total worthlessness. The Bible tells us, this is the path the Devil has taken. (Rev. 12) This is also the kind of evil spoken of in Gen. chapter 6, when God said the thoughts of men's hearts were only evil continually. Thus, it grieved God's heart and it repented the Lord that He had made man! Even at this point, mankind was not evil from birth. However, the degeneration into evil was so bad overall, that there was little to no hope for future generations to ever be raised in or find the ways of righteousness in the world man had created!

The word "evil" in I Thess. 5:22 is a tricky word for most of us, but one which needs to be understood! This is why it is important that the KJV uses the wording "appearance of evil." We can do things that by their very nature are not evil but cause harm to others nonetheless. In I Cor. chapter 10, Paul explains that all things are lawful for him, but all things are not expedient or edifying. He talks about the idea that idols only have power in people's minds. If meat is offered to idols, it is not corrupted, but don't eat it if others tell you it has been offered. It is an issue of conscience and appearance. There is an evil which is evil because of the circumstances which surround it. In I Thess. 5:22, this is the kind of evil Paul is telling us about, and he is making it clear that we should refrain ourselves from doing these kinds of things.

Again, this is not a New Testament verses Old Testament thing, it's what God has wanted us to understand all along. When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, they were both naked. The Bible specifically tells us they were not ashamed. Why? because it is not evil to be naked. God created us and we are what we are. However, once Adam and Eve took of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the very first thing they realized was that they were naked. Why? because the knowledge of good and evil includes the responsibility Paul is talking about in I Thess. 5:22. Adam and Eve were not doing anything at the moment which was evil by its actual nature. They were not committing adultery. They were not cursing God. They were not committing murder. What came to their understanding was the fact they were naked and standing there with no ability to change that fact. So they went right to work sewing fig leaves together and tried to make something to cover themselves with. This was not because Adam and Eve believed it was wrong for them to see each other naked. They were husband and wife. Bone of bone and flesh of flesh. (Gen. 2:23) What Adam and Eve realized was that they needed a plan for when it did become an issue. They were compelled to act ahead of the problem they knew was coming. This is shown when God comes to them; Adam and Eve hid among the trees of the garden. There was never a question as to why they hid, Adam told God "I was afraid, because I was naked;". (Gen. 3)

Adam understood they had a responsibility to cover themselves. Adam did not know anyone who had a problem with impure thoughts, but even that didn't matter. Adam reacted to the responsibility he felt to others. A responsibility which was not his, prior to taking of the forbidden fruit. This is why God says to Adam, "Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" (Gen. 3:11) Through the years of man degrading into sin, we find this most basic and first understanding of right and wrong being one of the hardest concepts for people to take to heart. Our modern teaching which says we are living in the "freedom of the spirit" and "under grace," as if that is a new thing, many times attempts to tell us, our actions, especially the minor ones, are not important. This concept could not be further from the truth. We should strive every day to be an "example of the believers." (I Tim. 4:12) Our actions should be measured. We should care about the clothes we wear. We should care about the places we go and the activities we involve ourselves in. We should be careful with the words we speak, and everything we have control over in our personal lives. We should think ahead about what we look like and what our actions appear to tell others we believe. We can say, we believe something, but if our actions even seem to say other wise, we will destroy our testimony to others.

Now, we can't always understand how someone will interpret something. We do not always know what someone else may be struggling with. We are not mind readers, and God understands that. The benefit is in the trying, and the desire to do right. If we have this desire, then there can be great gain in coming together with others of like precious faith. Understanding others is one of the greatest gains! Through fellowship together, we can hear other points of view. Sometimes, we find we are not alone in what we struggle with, and sometimes we realize there are things others struggle with we would never have thought of. This is why the holding of standards should not be dismissed as pure legalism. Sure, there are those who believe they're earning heaven by their "righteous" actions, but people have become so worried about that issue, they're missing heaven because they end up caring nothing about righteous actions. Our churches have almost stopped teaching any form of standard, and our fellowship together has become more like a social event than, an iron sharpening iron, advantage. (Prov 27:17) If we are striving to get it right, we can't make these kinds of trades. (Matt. 23:23)

So, to answer the question, no, the King James version of the Bible is not a mistranslation of I Thess. 5:22. However, it does serve as an example of just how watered down other versions of the English Bible can be. We need to be careful reading versions which water down or outright distort the scripture. If we do not have the right words in our heart and mind, we will find ourselves vulnerable to the false teaching of this world. We should also remember that to receive the true understanding of the twenty-second verse, or any verse for that matter, we must read the verses which surround it as well. We need to seek God's guidance in everything we do. We need to be in constant contact with our Maker. We need a walk which is not just following a list of do's and don'ts, but a walk where we consider how our everyday actions affect others. Thus, we pray Paul's words which follow the twenty-second verse. We pray that "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." Amen!

Questions submitted to the Institute, answered by Philip Busby.

If you would like to submit a question please visit our Q&A page at or write us at Living Springs' Questions &
Answers, P.O. Box 271, Loveland, CO 80539

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