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Digging Deeper: The Residue of Men

Author: Kenneth Frank | Faculty, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min., 48 sec.

Did you know that it was God’s intention from the beginning to include non-Israelites, called Gentiles or the nations, in His plan of salvation?

Though God chose Israel to become a model nation, it always was His will that other peoples would be offered the same salvation. Israel was supposed to become a Godly example that other nations would wish to emulate (Deuteronomy 4:6-8). However, by the time of Jesus, many of the Jewish people (especially the ruling elites) had come to look down upon Gentiles, even referring to them as dogs. Jesus’ preaching to Gentiles during His ministry no doubt raised some eyebrows! This “Digging Deeper” highlights the ministry of the early church to not only preach to the Jew first but also to Gentiles. This is made plain by the ministries of Jesus, Peter, Barnabas, Paul, and others in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.

Acts 15 chronicles the first ministerial conference called to settle a question about whether Gentiles needed first to become Jews before they could become Christians. The hot button issue of the day was the matter of circumcision. For centuries, male converts to the Abrahamic faith needed to be circumcised to become full proselytes. Some former Pharisees in the early church insisted such Gentile converts needed bodily circumcision to enter the Christian faith. Nonetheless, chapter after chapter in the early part of Acts revealed that God gave His Holy Spirit to Gentiles without circumcision, illustrating that now it was circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh that was required (Romans 2:28-29).

After Peter, Barnabas, and Paul testified how God provided His spirit to the Gentiles apart from bodily circumcision, the resident pastor of the Jerusalem church, James, announced the church’s decision that it would not insist upon circumcision of Gentiles. For authority, he turned to the prophets of the Hebrew Bible as evidence that this was God’s will all along (Acts 15:15). Acts 15:17 KJV is especially pertinent: “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible explains James’ pronouncement: “He confirms this with a quotation out of the Old Testament: he could not prove the calling of the Gentiles by a vision, as Peter could, nor by miracles wrought by his hand, as Paul and Barnabas could, but he would prove that it was foretold in the Old Testament, and therefore it must be fulfilled, Acts 15:15” (e-Sword 12.1).

Thayer’s Greek Definitions reports that the word “residue” is a translation of the Greek New Testament word kataloipos that appears only here and means that which is “left remaining” (e-Sword 12.1).  It refers to the faithful remnant of humankind who are not of Israelite descent. The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition declares that “residue” comes to English from the Latin neuter residuus and means, “That which remains after a part is taken, separated, removed or designated” (Ibid.). After God had separated Israel, the rest of humankind fit this definition. Thayer then reports that the word “men” in Acts 15:17 is a translation of the word anthropos which means “a human being, whether male or female” (Ibid.).

James only quoted one prophet concerning the welcoming of non-Israelites into the faith but there were several others. Notice that in Acts 15:15 he states, “And to this agree the words of the prophets…” The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains: “Only one prophet is here quoted, viz. Amos (Act_9:11-12), but the audience would recall other like passages, as St Paul does Romans 15:9-12, quoting from the books of Moses, David and Isaiah” (e-Sword 12.1). There were numerous Old Testament prophecies about Gentiles entering the faith. Matthew Henry notes that “…most of the Old Testament prophets spoke more or less of the calling in of the Gentiles, even Moses himself, Romans 10:19. It was the general expectation of the pious Jews that the Messiah should be a light to enlighten the Gentiles (Luke 2:32)…” (Ibid.). Here is a partial list of other Old Testament prophecies of Gentiles turning to God:  Isaiah 2:2; 9:2; 11:10; 25:6; 52:15; Jeremiah 4:2; 16:19; Daniel 7:14; Joel 2:28; Zechariah 8:23.

Starting in Acts 15:15, James rephrases Amos; however, the phrasing is quite different. The original passage from Amos 9:11-12 KJV reads,  “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:  (12)  That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.” Why James used this passage and modified a few words is critical to note. It was common in the New Testament era for God’s inspired leaders to quote the Old Testament verses freely to fit a new situation. This was done by God’s illumination to expand the application for a later generation. As Chief Editor, God is free to edit His own text.

These New Testament authors also may have been citing a different Hebrew text from the one that is the basis of our English Old Testament. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol 6 says that James “may have quoted from a form of the Hebrew text that was more closely related to the LXX [Septuagint Greek] than is the Masoretic [the text underlying our English Old Testament]. Discoveries at Qumran have shown that such texts existed for at least parts of the OT” (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1980, p. 309). What supports this idea is the phrase “I will return” in Acts 15:16. This is “…a favorite Hebrew expression for,  ‘I will do such and such again’…This may be an indication that James quoted the OT in Hebrew'” (Ibid.).

Another possibility is that James is quoting from a Greek translation of the Hebrew text. The NET Bible explains, “James demonstrated a high degree of cultural sensitivity when he cited a version of the text (the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament) that Gentiles would use” (e-Sword 12.1). Why would James quote a Greek version instead of Hebrew? A Popular Commentary on the New Testament edited by Philip Schaff explains, “The LXX. here, as not unfrequently, give a paraphrase rather than a literal translation of the original, and regard ‘Edom’ (a common Rabbinical idea) as a general representative of those who were strangers to the God of Israel. No doubt the LXX. version was quoted by James on account of the many foreign Jews present at the Council; these would be familiar with the Greek Scriptures, not with the original Hebrew” (Ibid.). Joseph S. Excell’s The Pulpit Commentary additionally explains why Edom represents all Gentiles: “Edom, as the nation most hostile to the Jews and furthest from David’s house, is put by a natural figure for the whole Gentile world” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible additionally adds another reason why James would choose a Greek translation: “James quotes the Septuagint because in this case it uniquely fits his purpose of expressing the universal nature of God’s promise of redemption” (e-Sword 12.1). In the first century, Greek was a universal language. Matthew Henry explains why God broadened His calling: “The Jews were for many ages so peculiarly favoured that the residue of men seemed neglected; but now God will have an eye to them, and his name shall be called upon by the Gentiles; his name shall be declared and published among them, and they shall be brought both to know his name and to call upon it: they shall call themselves the people of God, and he shall call them so; and thus, by consent of both parties, his name is called upon them” (Ibid.). This was God’s doing since it was His plan since the “beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

The ministerial decision on circumcision officially settled the dispute between the Pharisaic element of the church and the new Gentile believers – the “residue of men.” Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible enlarges: “These changes would be devastating to a ‘circumcision party’ of believers. Now the chief Apostle (Peter), the converted rabbi Apostle (Paul), and the leader of the Jerusalem church (James) all agree against them…” (e-Sword 12.1). One of the greatest church controversies was settled simply by referencing its own Holy Book. God’s word settled the matter, as it always must.


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.

Announcing! Virtual Worldwide Chorus

Join members around the world in musical harmony this Feast of Tabernacles!

With modern technology, we cross international boundaries and time zones to assemble together and listen to instruction. But we also have the opportunity to praise God in song as one harmonious body through the marvels of technology. This year we’ll be undertaking an effort to create a chorus of voices from our members around the world for a special musical presentation during the Feast of Tabernacles. In order to form this virtual worldwide chorus, we need singers from our congregations around the world to contribute their voices to this project.

Want more information? Want to Join the Choir?


New Hymn Composition Project – Update

With our recent reliance on streaming technology, including our musical praise of God, it seems appropriate to revisit our recorded versions of our hymns, and consider updating the audio using the most recent recording technology. As part of this effort, Mr. Weston has approved including additional hymns that have been written by talented musicians in the Living Church of God. As we read in Psalm 98:1, it gives glory to God to “sing to the Lord a new song!” 

Thank-you to those who have contributed new compositions to our collection of songs to be considered for inclusion in our hymns! More than a dozen song-writers have participated so far.

For more information and to contribute a hymn, navigate to our Hymn Project webpage through the link below!


Digging Deeper: A Lesson From the Ethiopian Eunuch

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


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min

Did you know that welcoming instruction in the Bible from others is a desirable and necessary quality for effective Bible study?

There are numerous examples in Scripture, but this article will deal with an incident involving a non-Israelite in the early years of the Church of God. This person realized that his understanding from his reading of the Book of Isaiah was limited and that he needed someone to guide him. The two individuals involved in this account from Acts 8:26-40 are Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.

We are first introduced to Philip in Acts 6, where he was appointed as one of seven men (later known as deacons) to serve the needy widows of the church. Philip appears next in Acts 8 when he travels to the city of Samaria to preach Christ following a scattering of the church in Jerusalem due to persecution. From here on, some sources refer to him as Philip the Evangelist to distinguish him from the Apostle Philip.

Starting in Acts 8:26 we learn that God’s angel next moves Philip to head south from Jerusalem to Gaza on the main road to Egypt. There he meets a God-fearer (a Gentile who worshiped the God of Israel but was not a full convert) from Ethiopia (Nubia) who is heading home from Jerusalem where he had traveled to worship. This man is described as a eunuch (v. 26), which was either an emasculated man or a high official, who worked closely with the queen as her finance minister. While riding in his chariot (indicating he was a man of means), he reads the scroll of Isaiah (vv. 27-28). It was common then to read aloud. Philip is guided by the Spirit (v. 29) to join this man’s chariot after hearing the Ethiopian’s reading of a particular Messianic passage.

Upon approaching this man’s entourage, Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading (v. 30). The Ethiopian could have been insulted by such a question, assuming he did not need anyone to teach him God’s written word. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible characterizes this Ethiopian’s attitude as “…of an excellent spirit and temper; since instead of answering in a haughty and disdainful manner, as great men are too apt to do; and instead of charging Philip with, impertinence and insolence, in interrupting him whilst reading, and putting such a question to him, he expresses himself with great and uncommon modesty; with a sense and confession of his ignorance and incapacity and of the necessity and usefulness of the instructions of men, appointed of God to open and explain the Scriptures…” (e-Sword 12.1).

Instead, the Ethiopian replies in v. 31, “How can I except some man guide me?” He recognized his need for a man of God to teach him the meaning of this passage. The Pulpit Commentary explains his approach: “The humility and thirst for instruction of this great courtier are very remarkable, and the instance of the joint use of the written Word and the living teacher is noteworthy” (e-Sword 12.1). He humbled himself before this man of God, inviting Philip to climb aboard his chariot to provide spiritual instruction. He was reading a passage from Isaiah 53, one of the clearest prophecies of Jesus’ sacrifice, which is requoted in Acts 8:32-33.

In v. 34 the eunuch asked if this passage referred to Isaiah or someone else. This opened the door for Philip to preach to him Jesus as the expected Messiah (v. 35). Philip then asked the man if he believed what he read and the Ethiopian replied that he did and then asked what hindered him from baptism (v. 36). Philip baptizes him after the man professed his faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (v. 37). Philip then is instantly guided by the Spirit on to new territory (v. 39). The eunuch never saw Philip again but continued his journey home rejoicing (v. 38-39).

This story contains a significant lesson for every serious student of God’s written word: we all need teachers. Some mistakenly believe today that when they begin to study the Bible as novices that they are already fully equipped to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy_2:15 ). This self-reliant approach can lead well-intentioned but ill-equipped people to erroneous conclusions about what the Bible teaches. The Common Man’s Reference Bible annotation on John 16:13 says, “The Holy Ghost [Spirit] will guide a sincere and humble student into all truth who does not seek to justify his preconceived ideas” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

God has provided us with trained and skilled teachers who have spent years studying the Bible and who are guided by God’s Holy Spirit with discernment, wisdom, and understanding. Each of us needs to tap into their reservoir of knowledge for principles on how to apply the Scriptures. Notice Paul’s questions about this learning process: Rom 10:14 KJV  “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible identifies this Ethiopian as: “The humble, the teachable, the prayerful, the gentle of spirit – those who are willing to learn. A proud person who supposes that he already knows enough cannot be taught; a haughty person who has no respect for others, cannot learn of them; a person who is willing to believe nothing cannot be instructed. The first requisite, therefore, in the work of religion, as in respect to all kinds of knowledge, is a meek and docile spirit. See Matthew 18:3” (e-Sword 12.1). The word of God is a large and sometimes complex book with deep spiritual concepts that are not always self-evident. We need teachers to guide us.

This is not to say we cannot learn a limited amount on our own. David Guzik’s Enduring Word Commentary adds this explanation on v. 31: “This is the proper question of anyone who wants to understand the Bible. We should never feel bad if we need to be taught before we can understand many things…It is glorious when we come to understand the great truths of Scripture on our own, but God always has a place and a purpose for teachers in the body of Christ” (e-Sword 12.1).

There is also a place for utilizing Bible reference works. The Ultimate Cross-reference Library draws this important principle about personal Bible study from v. 31: “There is no necessity to reinvent the wheel. It is the height of egotism to suppose that we can go ourselves to the Bible alone, and learn all that God has for us in His Word, never utilizing cross references, concordances, commentaries and specialized topical studies, as though the Holy Spirit never assisted the labors of the writers and scholars that have gone before us. God will hold us responsible not only for what we know, but for what we could have known had we made the proper and diligent use of the means He has made available to us. Proper spiritual growth is dependent upon our careful and systematic study of the Word of God” (e-Sword 12.1).

We all could learn much more if only we applied ourselves to studying the Bible with the assistance of those who have “blazed the trail” before us! This enriching Bible narrative from Acts is for our learning (Romans 15:4). Let us all model this humble Gentile’s approach to biblical instruction.


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.

Life to Lessons: Age Appropriate Reading

Estimated Reading Time: 1 min. 20 sec.

Let’s say you’re about to read from the book of Judges, and you just finished going through the story of Samson with your son and daughter. Flipping ahead you see in chapter 19 the story of the Levite’s Concubine. You knew it was coming, but you were hoping it wasn’t so soon! But now you have to make a decision as you look at the earnest, expectant faces of your innocent children looking up at you. Is now the time to share this graphic account with them? Would they even understand it?

This is a simple example of the type of dilemma you might run into as you read the Scripture to your little ones. We want to be honest and accurate with our children as we teach them about the Bible, but here is where we have to exercise a little Godly wisdom. Are your children, who have very little exposure to the evils of the world, really ready to hear such disturbing material? Also, what about those long lists of genealogies? You might ask, “Well, since it’s the Bible, doesn’t that mean its age appropriate?”.

We must take care not to use the Bible (God’s Word) as an excuse to destroy innocence or to ignore the youthful perspective of our children. We are trying to instill in their minds a deep admiration and love for God and the Bible. We should also be mindful that “there is a time for everything” (Eccl. 3), and “not everything is beneficial” (1 Cor. 10:23).

There will be a time when our children should be introduced to every section of Scripture, but it may be best to save the reading of some parts of the Bible until they are able to appreciate and understand the purpose of those sections. Let’s be careful to remember and appreciate the season of innocence as we read to those impressionable minds from God’s word.


3 steps to writing an outstanding autobiography that will help boost your application

You have been considering applying to LivingEd-Charlotte and you find yourself scanning through the list of requirements to complete your application.

Basic info? Check. Official transcripts? Check. Recommendations? Easy. Autobiographical essay? Wait…what? Oh no, not an essay!

The very name Autobiographical Essay has sort of a daunting effect. But don’t let it scare you, and certainly don’t let it be the reason you decide not to finish your application! Writing an essay may not be your favorite activity, but if you apply these three basic principles to your writing, you’ll find this task is a cinch! Also, you’ll have all the ingredients to please the admissions panel.

The following tips are written to aid students who are applying to our LivingEd-Charlotte program. All applicants are required to submit an autobiographical essay as part of their application.

1.) Be Focused

The first element the panel is looking for is how completely you answered the prompt. There are four content elements that need to be included. Be sure to carefully answer each issue. Since there is a length requirement of 3-5 double-spaced pages it is necessary to get to the point and not become too wordy. The panel is looking for complete answers with relevant detail – enough to give some context, not too much to hold interest.

2.) Be Professional

These days, many students fall into the trap of casual writing. Writing about yourself means writing the way you speak, right?  Nope. It means presenting who you are in an academic context. So, use a clear, easy-to-follow format, full sentences, proper grammar, and suitable vocabulary. Certainly your personality can, and should, come through when you write an essay about yourself, but it’s good to always keep in mind your audience which in this case is the admissions panel for a 9-month educational program. Sure, the panel wants to get a better sense of who you are by the time they finish reading your essay, so let them be left with a sense of your skillful attention to your use of words. 

Quick Tip: Read, read, and re-read through your essay before you submit! Small, unchecked errors show a lack of consideration for detail on the part of the writer. You want to be sure that it is you who catches all the little spelling and grammar errors in your writing, not the guy reviewing your completed application.

3.) Be Real

In other words, be honest about who you are. While you want to present a polished essay, it’s okay to allow your personality to come through in your writing! Remember, the panel wants to get to know YOU! They want to learn what you are about, what some of your goals are, who you look up to, and why you want to come to Charlotte to spend nine months with a bunch of young people to learn about God’s way. While this is not the place to get super personal, you can certainly allow your own charm and unique characteristics to be evident in how you present yourself.

So that’s it! Be focused, professional, and real! If you think about these principles as you prepare your autobiography, you’ll be that much closer to stepping on-campus as an official member of the LivingEd-Charlotte family. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get writing!


Ready to begin your application? Begin Here!