Course Spotlight: Why Did Peter Deny Christ?

In some of our online courses, we have a “Student Thoughts” section where we ask a question to see what the students think. In Unit 4 of the Life Ministry and Teachings of Jesus Christ course, we asked the question:

Why did Peter deny Christ (Luke 22:54-62)? What can we do in our own lives to make sure we do not deny Him (Matthew 10:32-33)?

Come take a look at some of the Student Responses below!

“Peter denied Christ three times because he feared. Scriptures tell us to be of courage and have faith. Christ also told us to pray not to be lead into temptation. If we are truly converted and do not deny Christ, He will not deny us to the Father. We must truly be sure we know the truth, love the truth, live the truth, and be willing to die for it if necessary.”

– SJ

“We have often been admonished to overcome self, Satan, and society. This incident with Peter is a good example of these three pulls in our lives. First, Peter was fearful of what society would do to him. The scripture reference of Matthew 10:32-33 is in the context of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples before sending them out. The preceding verses instructed them not to fear those who can kill the body but not the inward man that God has started within us. Peter’s focus on what the governing authorities could do was part of his failure here. Another vital part was that Satan was ‘playing him like a cheap fiddle.’ Jesus predicted Peter’s denial just a little earlier saying, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.’ (Luke 22:31) However, Satan’s influence over Peter’s actions here was because Peter was trusting in his own strength. This is evidenced by his use of the sword. In order for us to succeed in the job God has given us to do, we need to recognize our enemies. We have three. They are self, Satan, and society”

– TW

“Peter was still carnal, not fully conquered by the power of God, the Holy Spirit. Also, Peter was relying on his strength rather than putting his trust in God to take care of everything. So, for us today, we have to keep the commandments of God as shown in John 14:15. Also in 1 Thessalonians 5:18-22, we are told, ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.’ [ESV] “

– LK

Digging Deeper: What was Moses’ Seat?

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated Reading time: 7 min.

Did you know that Moses was honored with a seat in New Testament Jewish synagogues?

Centuries after Moses died, the seat of Moses was an honored chair in these meeting houses. In the first century, there is evidence from some synagogues of a special decorative seat called the “Seat of Moses” on a raised platform. His seat was filled by men who claimed the exalted position of teaching by Moses’ authority. Jesus referred to this religious office with some sharp statements about the religious leaders who occupied it. Today’s Digging Deeper explores the history behind this exalted position with Jesus’ important caveat.

Our central passage for this study is: “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:1-3 KJV). In this same chapter, Jesus pronounced seven woes upon these men for their abuse of power (Matthew 23:13-36).

The authority of Moses

Moses was the great legislator of the Israelite nation. God inspired him to preach and to inscribe five books (the Torah or Pentateuch) in God’s name. His influence transcended the centuries, for he is named 80 times in our New Testament, having a massive presence among the devout of the land. Moses occupied the office of expounder and chief justice for the application of the law to specific cases of conduct. Exodus 18 describes how his father-in-law convinced him to delegate authority to other judges under his command, thereby sharing his authority but leaving him as the chief justice with God’s final authority. Upon his death, Moses’ authority passed on to his successors who sat in his seat.

The Expository Notes of Dr. Constable explains what sitting in Moses’ seat represented: “According to Old Testament figurative usage a person who sat on a predecessor’s seat was that person’s successor (Exodus 11:5; 12:29; 1 Kings 1:35; 1:46; 2:12; 16:11; 2 Kings 15:12; Psalm 132:12)” (e-Sword 12.2). Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible explains why God permitted them to do so: “They sat there formerly by Divine appointment: they sit there now by Divine permission” (Ibid.). They were not authorized to mandate new law but rather to interpret already provided law for their followers.

The College Press Bible Study Textbook Series describes how his position was transferred upon his death: “Moses’ seat is his cathedra, his ‘Bible Chair’ from which his doctrine is read and expounded. In Malachi’s day it was the priests who had the magisterial responsibility (Malachi 2:7 ff.), a duty as old as the priesthood itself (Leviticus 10:17; Deuteronomy 17:9-13). But with ‘Ezra the priest and scribe’ (Nehemiah 12:26) the function began shifting onto professional scribes (Nehemiah 8:4, 7-9; 8:13, 18; cf. Ezra 7:1-6; 10)” (e-Sword 12.2).

The Transfer of Influence

In the first century, the Levites were to have been Israel’s teachers, but most of them were Sadducees and no longer carried the same authority. Moses’ authority had devolved to the scribes and Pharisees. Study of the Scriptures was of little interest to the indifferent Sadducees. The Pulpit Commentary, edited by H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, explains: “The Sadducees seem to have had no popular influence, and were never recognized as leaders. The Levitical priests never appear in the Gospels as teachers or expositors of the Mosaic system; this function of theirs had devolved upon scribes and lawyers” (e-Sword 12.2).

By Jesus’ day, scribes (doctors of the law or legal experts) were mostly from the Pharisaic party instead of the Sadducean, but not all Pharisees were scribes. Dr. Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible describes the scribes as “…experts in the Written Law (OT) and the Oral Law (Talmud) of Israel and were available to make local practical applications. In effect they replaced the traditional OT functions of the local Levites” (e-Sword 12.2). A Commentary on the Holy Bible, edited by J.R. Dummelow explains their claim to authority: “The scribes (who were ordained with the laying-on of hands) claimed to have received their authority through an unbroken succession from Moses. The ‘sitting’ refers to the judicial power, and the authority to teach, which all scribes or rabbis possessed, and which was centred in the Great Sanhedrin [Jewish supreme court]” (Ibid.).

Sitting to Teach

Moses’ writings were read incrementally in the synagogues every Sabbath day (Acts 15:21). When the Law of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and the Prophets were read from the scrolls stored in “the Ark” (cabinet) in synagogues, the reader stood; however, when he expounded the reading afterward he sat. Sitting was the posture of a teacher. Jesus employed this position to teach as well: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him” (Matthew 5:1 KJV). The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges notes that “In the Talmud ‘to sit’ is nearly synonymous with ‘to teach'” (e-Sword 12.2).

When Jesus said the scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, He merely acknowledged the fact. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains His remark about these leaders: “Where they went wrong Jesus will point out. But here He must mention them, because, despite their faults, they uphold Moses, as opposed to the paganizing leadership of the Sadducean priesthood” (e-Sword 12.2).

However, Jesus did criticize their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:3-7). The College Press Bible Study Textbook Series clarifies that Jesus’ criticism of these religious leaders was not for their holding such an authoritative position but “…because their party zeal strenuously applied the theologians’ legalistic conclusions to everyday life with a rigor that required everyone to fall in lock-step behind them. In this sense, the Pharisees, too, were Israel’s teachers, even if unofficially” (e-Sword 12.2).

To do what they say

In Matthew 23:3 Jesus does not dispute the importance of Moses’ law, but His implication is clear. He goes on to explain that these teachers did not obey their teachings (Matthew 23:4). As The College Press Bible Study Textbook Series continues ” … whatever comes from Moses is from God and is to be received with full confidence and submission. Merely because Jesus must undercut the unjustified pretensions of the Jewish magisterium does not mean that Moses must go too. So, before beginning His condemnation of the unfaithfulness and sinful conduct of the religious leaders, He calls for sincere reverence for God’s Law” (e-Sword 12.2).

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible provides us two important lessons from this passage:

“1. Many a good place is filled with bad men; it is no new thing for the vilest men to be exalted even to Moses’s seat (Psalm 12:8); and, when it is so, the men are not so much honoured by the seat as the seat is dishonoured by the men. Now they that sat in Moses’s seat were so wretchedly degenerated, that it was time for the great Prophet to arise, like unto Moses, to erect another seat.

2. Good and useful offices and powers are not therefore to be condemned and abolished, because they fall sometimes into the hands of bad men, who abuse them. We must not therefore pull down Moses’s seat, because scribes and Pharisees have got possession of it; rather than so, let both grow together until the harvest, Matthew 13:30″ (e-Sword 12.2).

Respect for high office, especially religious office, is a fundamental teaching of church government. Jesus set the record straight at a time when there was much abuse of this position by the religious teachers. This was not meant to condone their unbiblical behavior but rather to instruct their followers to abide by their correct teachings of God’s word, despite their hypocrisy. God’s mighty word will still change lives, even if delivered by defective servants.

Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Course Spotlight: The Gloss of 1 John 5:7-8

1 John 5:7-8 is a common passage in Scripture that secular Christians claim that the Bible supports the Trinity. How can we prove that these verses are not talking about God having a Trinitarian nature?

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 2) The Letters of John and Jude

Course Spotlight: Is the Law Done Away?

Many professing Christians today believe that Christ did away with the Law. They often think that Christ kept the Law for them, and earning salvation does not come with any requirements or responsibilities beyond loving God and your neighbor. But is this the case?

Course Spotlight From The Life, Ministry, and Teachings of Jesus Christ: (Unit 2) The Galilean Ministry

Digging Deeper: Did John Invent Baptism?

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated Reading time: 6 min. 46 sec.

Did you know that John the Baptist did not invent total immersion water baptism?

Early in our four Gospels, we read about a man named John, later called John the Baptist or John the Baptizer. Some may conclude from this title that John first used or even invented the practice. The Gospels name a few of the locations near the Jordan River where he baptized those who came to him for spiritual cleansing. Readers of the New Testament may conclude that water baptism was a new ceremony begun by John. However, as this Digging Deeper will disclose, total immersion water baptism long predates the ministry of John.

Within a couple of months, the Church of God will again observe the annual Passover, so now is the time to concentrate on its deep spiritual meaning.  As an annual recommitment to our baptismal covenant with Christ, we reflect on our momentous, life-transforming decision to accept His sacrifice for our sins and serve Him as loyal disciples. Tracing the history of water baptism will deepen our appreciation for its spiritual significance.

Baptism in the Ancient World

Ablutions and bathing were practiced by many ancient peoples. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes that “From the OT to Greek, Hittite and Egyptian temples, ritual purity and purification were important in the ancient world. Jewish people observed various ceremonial washings, and some groups, such as the Essenes, took these practices to an extreme” (Tecarta Bible App). The Essenes were an ascetic group living near the Dead Sea during the time of John the Baptist and Jesus.

This source continues: “Many ancient cults practiced ceremonial washings, which are also common in the OT and Judaism; some Jewish sects (such as the people who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls) were particularly scrupulous about these washings, but others (such as Sadducees and Pharisees) also shared this emphasis. Whereas most of these washings were often repeated, one kind of immersion (apparently attested even by some first- and second-century Gentile writers) was employed for conversion, namely of Gentiles converting to Judaism (alongside male circumcision)” (Ibid.).

Further describing this practice, the Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, edited by James Hastings, in its article by A.J. Maclean on “Baptism of proselytes” states that “The Jews admitted ‘proselytes of righteousness,’ i.e. full proselytes, with baptism, circumcision, and sacrifice. This custom was very common in Rabbinical times, though Josephus and Philo do not mention it, and some have therefore concluded that it did not exist in the 1st cent.; but Edersheim has clearly proved from ancient evidence that it was then in use (LT [Note: T Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Edersheim).] ii. 746, Appendix xii.)” (e-Sword 12.2).

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible describes later Jewish baptisms: “Jewish initiatory baptisms involved immersion; later rabbis in fact required full-body immersions to be performed naked, to guarantee that the entire body was covered. Nevertheless, at an early stage Christians began making other arrangements where conditions were less than ideal (Didache 7.1–3)” (Tecarta Bible App).

Describing the seriousness of Jewish baptism of Gentile converts, Paul H. Wright in the Rose Then and Now Bible Map Atlas states: “A second type of immersion was required of Gentile proselytes converting to Judaism. These underwent a single initiatory rite of baptism to remove the defilement which had adhered to them, as non-Jews, from birth” (Rose Publishing, 2012, p. 164).

Various Baptisms in Biblical History

The following summarizes an article in the Archaeological Study Bible (Zondervan, 2010, p. 1328):

Ritual immersion in water was a frequently used religious symbol in ancient Judaism.  It symbolized purification and the removal of sin or was sometimes employed as an initiation rite to represent a change of status or a conversion.

  1. In the OT, priests practiced rites of immersion for maintaining ritual purity – Leviticus 15; Leviticus 16:3-4, Leviticus 16:23-24.
  2. Within Pharisaic Judaism during the NT period, water immersion served as the primary means by which ritual impurity was eliminated – Matthew 15:1-3; John 2:6-7.
  3. In the community at Qumran, baptism became a symbolic act with which one was “made holy by the waters of repentance.”
  4. Certain Jewish groups during the 1st century AD, practiced proselyte baptism, requiring converts, along with circumcision, to receive immersion in a ritualistic bath before full acceptance into the Jewish community.
  5. Before entering the Temple and participating in Holy Day services, purification through ritualistic immersion baths was expected of all Jews – Numbers 9:10-11; John 11:55; Acts 21:20-27.
  6. Several Jewish ritual baths, or miqvaot (singular mikveh), in cities like Jerusalem, Jericho, and other cities have been excavated.  Rabbinical law required them to hold at least 60 gallons of water, deep enough to completely immerse the body.

John’s Baptism

The Rose Then and Now Bible Map Atlas describes how John adapted this custom: “But unlike the Temple Jews, the Essenes–and John–reserved immersion for people who first repented of their sins” (Ibid., p. 163). This is why John’s baptism was described as a “baptism of repentance” by the Gospels of Mark and Luke and the Book of Acts. Unlike some Jewish ritual baptisms, John’s baptism was once for all: “John’s one-time ‘baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ was an initiatory rite aimed at emphasizing the need for living righteously (defined in terms of social, liturgical, acts) in a Kingdom of Heaven [Matthew’s term for the Kingdom of God] that was inclusive of anyone who submitted to its waters, regardless of gender, ethnicity, status or former life” (Ibid., p. 164). It was this particular form of baptism that gave John the distinctive nickname of “the Baptist” or “the Baptizer.”

Today, Christians also request baptism, after they have repented of their sins, to receive forgiveness. Jesus came to John for baptism, not for spiritual cleansing of sin, but to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). John knew his baptism was limited when he told his followers, when Jesus came for baptism, that Jesus’ followers would receive the “baptism of the Spirit” from Jesus as well (Mark 1:8). In the Old Testament, water is often associated with the Spirit (Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-29). Today, Christians receive this baptism of the Spirit with the laying on of hands by the ministry following water baptism. This distinguishes Christian baptism from John’s baptism. Baptism is indeed a symbolic act – there is no magic worked by getting wet. Yet that does not mean it is unimportant. It is a commanded observance that represents being crucified with Christ, buried with Him in baptism, and rising to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-6).

John’s baptism was preparatory to Christian baptism – a stepping stone that focused more attention on Jesus’ Spirit baptism than his own. John knew he prepared the way for the coming of the Lord and that his ministry would diminish as Jesus’ ministry ascended (John 1:15, 26-30; Acts 19:4). Additionally, he recognized his place in God’s preparation for the coming of the Messiah (John 1:23). His baptism of repentance prepared many people for Jesus’ baptism of the Spirit, including some of John’s disciples who left him to follow Jesus instead. It was a vital link in the chain of God’s plan. As we prepare for this year’s Passover service, let us reflect on this baptism history to better appreciate our place in that chain.

Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Course Spotlight: Luther and an “Epistle of Straw”

Martin Luther removed books from the Old Testament, and fought to strip away sections of the New Testament as well. Luther’s words denigrating James’ epistle are well-known.

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 1) The Letters of James and Peter

Course Spotlight: Was Christ a “Created Being” or Eternal?

Some religions teach that Jesus Christ is a created being. Some even say that He was the brother of Lucifer, or that He was the archangel Michael. Is Jesus Christ a created being, or is He eternal?

Course Spotlight from The Life Ministry and Teachings of Jesus Christ: (Unit 1) The Early Life of Christ

Digging Deeper: The Greatest Nation

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated Reading time: 8 min. 41 sec.

Did you know that God intended ancient Israel to be the greatest nation in history?

Some Americans hail themselves as the greatest nation the world has ever seen by chanting: “USA, USA, etc.” or “We’re Number 1, We’re Number 1, etc.” Many nations and civilizations have considered themselves the greatest in history. The United States of America is just the latest to claim exceptionalism. However, by simply reading God’s description of His chosen and accountable people in the Holy Bible, one comes away with a very different conclusion. Achieving their supreme position depended on their adherence to His teachings, called the Torah in the Hebrew Old Testament. This Digging Deeper explores this theme in biblical history to discover that this honored position is to be filled by a most unexpected people.

Rising from slavery

The Book of Exodus chronicles God’s release, rescue, and redemption of the ancient Israelites from bondage to the Pharaoh of Egypt and his court. Ten divine miracles forced the Pharaoh to liberate them to follow God’s pillar of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night to a land of milk and honey. Once there, God provided them productive land that would fill their material needs. He assured them that if they obeyed Him they would prosper generation after generation to the point of world dominance. God intended Israel to become the greatest nation in the history of the world. Notice these scriptures showing the divine blessing prerequisites and how astonished other nations would be at the greatness of these former slave people:

“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8 KJV)? (emphasis mine throughout)

“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6 KJV).

“Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee” (Deuteronomy 7:11-15 KJV).

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth” (Deuteronomy 28:1 KJV).

Strangers welcome!

God did not show favoritism by selecting Israel to be His model nation. Rather, He chose them to be His shining light on a hill to other nations attracting them to His truth as modeled by Israel. If individuals came to Israel for refuge, they were to be welcomed: “Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9 KJV). The word stranger appears 131 times in our King James Bible. God has much to say about welcoming foreigners and alien residents if they came as converts to the God of Israel. Israel suffered desperate hearts as strangers in the oppressive land of Egypt, qualifying them to understand and welcome foreign converts to the true faith and promote God’s ways to the ends of the earth.

We see this again in Solomon’s dedicatory prayer for the opening of the first temple: “Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name” (2 Chronicles 6:32-33 KJV). That is why the temple was called “an house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:7 KJV). It was designed to promote repentance by pagan nations who had experienced the bitter fruit of idolatry.

Falling for idolatry…

The Old Testament offers the fascinating story of one such foreigner, the Queen of Sheba, who came to inspect the glory of Solomon’s kingdom (1 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 9). She returned from her visit astonished by what she saw. Israel’s apex occurred during the reigns of David and Solomon. This was the closest Israel came to qualifying as God’s model nation. Regrettably, not long after her visit, Solomon compromised by accepting his many wives’ gods into his kingdom. These idols turned his heart away from God: “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father’ (1 Kings 11:3-6 KJV).

Israel declined rapidly during the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, leading to the rebellion of the House of Israel from the House of Judah and the Throne of David. All the kings of the House of Israel turned out bad as well as most of the kings of the House of Judah. Ancient Israel failed in its mission through idolatry: “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:11-13 KJV).

A new great nation

Nonetheless, in the New Testament, God ordained that a new spiritual Israel, His church, would be His model nation now empowered to obey by the Holy Spirit:

Matthew 21:43 KJB Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you [unbelieving Jews], and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Galatians 6:16 KJV:  “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”

1 Peter 2:9 KJV:  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

This spiritual Israel is to be that shining light on a hill: Matthew 5:14-16 KJV:  “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  (15)  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  (16)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Jesus taught that those who are truly great are servants: Matthew 23:11 KJV:  “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Spiritual Israel’s example provides an evangelistic magnet for peoples yearning to breathe free from heathenism. They will show desperate peoples “the way of the LORD.” As they respond to God’s calling, they will then seek the way of eternal life: John 14:6 KJV “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In this way, Christian ambassadors will serve as “the greatest nation.”

Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.