How to Lead a Pre-School Bible Program

It is unfortunate that young children, especially ages 3-5, are taught in a way that needs to be untaught as they mature.

  • There is not a tiny person named Jesus that wants to live inside of a blood-pumping muscle in your chest.
  • There is not a holey ghost in the Bible.
  • There are no talking vegetables in the Bible.
  • When a person dies, they do not move to a floating golden castle in the clouds.
  • Prayer is not primarily asking God to give us stuff that we want.

Tips

Here are some tips on working with younger students.

  1. Communicate with language that is concrete and literal rather than metaphors and symbolism. Use stories that are easily understood and relatable to the students’ experiences in life. For example, when talking about transformation, tell a story about a boy who changed his attitude and behavior rather than telling a story about a caterpillar and a butterfly.
  2. Stay age-appropriate. Think like a child would think. Stay simple and concise. Repeat and reinforce ideas in creative ways. Young children should be learning primarily that God made them and that God loves them. They should not be learning stuff that is inappropriate for children. Think from the children’s perspective. Use objects and events that are familiar to children in order to help them grasp concepts. Tell stories about sharing toys or putting toys away in order to help them understand friendship, kindness, cooperation, responsibility, etc.
  3. Use visual aids. Hold up an interesting object. Show a poster or banner. Draw a shape. Display an image. However, don’t go into a complex explanation of how the object is a metaphor for an intangible concept. For example, hold up an apple and tell a story about the boy who loved the taste of apples. Don’t hold up an apple and teach that the apple is symbolic for Eve’s disobedience to God.
  4. Play. Reinforce the lesson with activities and experiences that reinforce the concept of the lesson. Allow children to explore and engage with the concept in a tangible and meaningful method.
  5. Be aware of learning styles. Remember that your group is composed of individuals. Some students may grasp the lesson concept easily, some will not. Some may learn through listening, others through images, others through activity and play. Adapt to individual learning styles while keeping the entire group in focus.

Overall, metaphors and symbolism should be used sparingly and thoughtfully with preschoolers to introduce or reinforce certain concepts. Ensure that the metaphors are age-appropriate, relatable, and supported with visuals and concrete examples. Keep in mind that young children primarily learn through direct experiences, play, and hands-on activities, so metaphors and symbolism should complement and enhance their learning in a meaningful way.

Methods

Here are suggestions for techniques and methods.

  1. Play-based learning: Use play as a central component of your teaching approach. Incorporate games, pretend play, and hands-on activities that allow children to explore, experiment, and learn through their natural curiosity. Play-based learning promotes engagement, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
  2. Multi-sensory experiences: Engage multiple senses during lessons to enhance learning and retention. Use sensory materials like sand, water, clay, or textured objects for tactile exploration. Incorporate music, rhythm, and movement to stimulate auditory and kinesthetic learning. Combine visuals, such as colorful images or charts, to support visual learning.
  3. Storytelling and rhymes: Preschoolers love stories and rhymes. Utilize storytelling to introduce new concepts, morals, and values. Incorporate rhymes, songs, and fingerplays to make learning fun and memorable. Encourage children to retell stories or create their own, fostering language development and creativity.
  4. Hands-on manipulatives: Provide a variety of manipulatives, such as blocks, puzzles, counting cubes, and shape sorters. These hands-on materials promote fine motor skills, problem-solving, and mathematical concepts. Encourage children to explore and manipulate these objects during playtime or structured activities.
  5. Guided discovery: Instead of providing all the answers, guide children to discover solutions on their own. Present open-ended questions, encourage critical thinking, and support their problem-solving skills. This approach cultivates independence, confidence, and a love for learning.
  6. Cooperative learning: Encourage collaboration and teamwork by organizing group activities. Group projects, shared responsibilities, and partner activities foster social skills, communication, and cooperation. Children learn from and support each other, fostering a sense of community and belonging.
  7. Use visual supports: Visual aids play a vital role in preschool education. Utilize charts, posters, diagrams, and labeled pictures to reinforce concepts. Visual supports can enhance comprehension, vocabulary development, and memory recall.
  8. Learning centers: Set up learning centers in the classroom where children can engage in different activities independently or in small groups. Establish centers for reading, writing, art, science, dramatic play, and sensory exploration. Learning centers provide opportunities for self-directed learning and develop various skills.
  9. Outdoor education: Incorporate outdoor activities to enhance learning. Take children on nature walks, observe plants and animals, and explore the environment. Engage in physical activities like running, jumping, and playing games that develop gross motor skills and promote a healthy lifestyle.
  10. Individualized instruction: Recognize and address each child’s unique learning style and pace. Differentiate your instruction by offering various approaches, materials, and challenges to accommodate different abilities and interests. Provide additional support for those who need it and extension activities for those ready for more advanced learning.

Remember, flexibility and adaptability are crucial when teaching preschoolers. Observe and assess their interests, strengths, and areas for growth, adjusting your teaching techniques accordingly. Above all, make learning enjoyable, nurturing a love for learning that will last a lifetime.

Focus

Regaining the attention of a group of preschool children can sometimes be challenging, as their attention spans can be short. Here are some techniques to help you recapture their focus:

  1. Use a signal: Develop a consistent attention signal, such as clapping your hands, ringing a bell, or using a special phrase. Teach the children that when they hear the signal, they need to stop what they’re doing and give you their attention.
  2. Transition activities: If you notice that the children are becoming restless or distracted, incorporate transition activities to refocus their attention. These can be simple movements, songs, or chants that help them shift their energy and focus back to the task at hand.
  3. Movement breaks: Incorporate short movement breaks into your lessons. When you see their attention waning, engage them in physical activities like stretching, dancing, or playing a quick game. This can help release excess energy and re-engage their focus.
  4. Call and response: Use call and response techniques to regain attention. For example, you can say a phrase or make a sound, and the children respond by repeating it back to you. This interactive technique helps redirect their attention back to you and the lesson.
  5. Visual cues: Incorporate visual cues to capture their attention. Hold up a picture, use a prop, or display a sign that signals it’s time to pay attention. Bright and colorful visuals can quickly draw their eyes and redirect their focus.
  6. Use engaging props: Utilize props or objects related to the lesson or topic to pique their interest. For example, if you’re teaching about animals, use stuffed animals or pictures of animals to capture their attention and generate excitement.
  7. Vary your voice: Adjust the tone, volume, or speed of your voice to regain attention. If you were speaking softly, try speaking loudly, or vice versa. Changing your voice can capture their attention and re-engage their focus.
  8. Incorporate music and songs: Music has a way of capturing attention and engaging children. Integrate songs, chants, or musical cues into your lessons to refocus their attention. Singing together can help create a sense of unity and re-engage their participation.
  9. Use interactive questions: Pose questions that require a response or action from the children. For example, ask them to raise their hand, stand up, or give a thumbs-up. This active participation helps regain their attention and involvement in the lesson.
  10. Adjust the environment: Make simple adjustments to the environment to reduce distractions. Close windows or doors, dim lights, or rearrange seating if necessary. A quieter and more organized space can help children refocus on the lesson.

Remember, it’s important to be patient and understanding with preschoolers. Their attention spans naturally fluctuate, so incorporating these techniques consistently and with enthusiasm can help bring their focus back and create an engaging and positive learning environment.

Time Fillers

Here are some fun and engaging games suitable for a small group of preschool-age children:

  1. Duck, Duck, Goose: Have the children sit in a circle, and one child walks around tapping others on the head, saying “duck.” When they choose a child to be the “goose,” that child chases them around the circle. If the goose catches the tapper before they reach the empty spot, the tapper continues. If not, the goose becomes the new tapper.
  2. Simon Says: Select one child to be “Simon” who gives commands, such as “Simon says touch your nose” or “Simon says hop on one foot.” The other children must only follow the command if it starts with “Simon says.” If they do something without the phrase, they are out. The last child standing becomes the new Simon.
  3. Musical Chairs: Arrange chairs in a circle, with one less chair than the number of children. Play music and have the children walk around the chairs. When the music stops, they must quickly find a seat. Remove one chair after each round. The child left without a seat is out. Continue until only one child remains.
  4. Freeze Dance: Play upbeat music and have the children dance freely. When the music pauses, they must freeze in their current position. Anyone caught moving is out. Resume dancing until there’s one child left, or play for fun without elimination.
  5. Balloon Volleyball: Inflate a balloon and have the children stand on opposite sides of a designated space. They must hit the balloon back and forth, trying to keep it from touching the ground. Modify the rules as needed to ensure everyone can participate and enjoy the game.
  6. Scavenger Hunt: Create a simple scavenger hunt by hiding objects or pictures around a specific area. Provide the children with clues or descriptions to find each item. You can customize the hunt based on a theme, colors, or shapes to make it more engaging.
  7. Hot Potato: Sit the children in a circle and play music as they pass around a soft ball or a stuffed animal. When the music stops, the child holding the item is “out.” Continue until one child remains.
  8. Follow the Leader: Choose a child to be the leader and have them perform various actions like jumping, hopping, or twirling. The other children must imitate the leader’s actions as closely as possible. Rotate the leader to give everyone a chance.
  9. Animal Charades: Write or print out pictures of different animals and put them in a bag or box. Each child takes turns picking a picture and acting like the animal without speaking. The other children guess the animal being portrayed.
  10. Bubble Pop: Provide the children with bubble wands and a bottle of bubbles. They can take turns blowing bubbles and seeing who can pop the most bubbles in a given time or distance.

Consider the children’s age, abilities, and any safety considerations when selecting games. Adapt the rules or instructions as needed to ensure everyone can participate and have a great time playing together.


Some of this content was created with the help of ai.

 

AI Confirms That The New Testament has Remained Faithful to the Original Manuscripts

User

How many ancient manuscripts of the New Testament books exist today?

ChatGPT

There are thousands of ancient manuscripts of the New Testament in existence today. The exact number is difficult to determine, as many of these manuscripts are fragmentary or incomplete, and some have not yet been catalogued or discovered.

The manuscripts of the New Testament vary in age, with some dating back to the early centuries of Christianity, and others dating to later periods. Some of the most significant and well-known manuscripts include the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates to the 4th century and contains the entire New Testament, and the Codex Vaticanus, which also dates to the 4th century and contains most of the New Testament.

In addition to these major codices, there are numerous other ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, including papyri, uncials, and minuscules. These manuscripts have been studied and analyzed by scholars in order to reconstruct the original text of the New Testament and to better understand its history and development.

User

Does the modern New Testament differ greatly from the ancient versions?

ChatGPT

In terms of the basic content and teachings of the New Testament, the modern versions do not differ greatly from the ancient versions. The core message of the New Testament, which includes the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has remained consistent over time.

However, there are some differences between modern versions of the New Testament and the ancient versions, primarily in terms of language and textual variants. The original New Testament was written in Greek, and as the texts were copied and translated over time, variations and errors were introduced into the manuscripts.

Scholars have worked to reconstruct the original text of the New Testament by comparing the available manuscripts and identifying the most likely readings. While there are some textual variants between different versions of the New Testament, the vast majority of these variants are minor and do not affect the overall meaning or message of the text.

Overall, while there may be some differences between modern and ancient versions of the New Testament, the core teachings and message of the text have remained consistent over time.

User

What is a textual variant?

ChatGPT

A textual variant is a difference in wording, spelling, or other features between different copies of the same text. In the context of the New Testament, textual variants refer to differences between different ancient manuscripts of the New Testament books.

Textual variants can be caused by a variety of factors, including errors made during the process of copying or translating the text, deliberate changes made to the text for theological or other reasons, or accidental damage to the manuscripts over time.

Because the New Testament was originally written in Greek and copied and translated over many centuries, there are many textual variants in the surviving manuscripts. However, the vast majority of these variants are minor and do not affect the core teachings or message of the text.

Scholars use various methods, including textual criticism, to identify and analyze textual variants in order to reconstruct the original text of the New Testament as accurately as possible. This involves comparing different manuscripts and evaluating the likelihood of different readings based on factors such as the age and reliability of the manuscript, the context of the passage, and other textual and historical evidence.

User

How many ancient manuscripts of the New Testament books exist today?

ChatGPT

There are thousands of ancient manuscripts of the New Testament in existence today. The exact number is difficult to determine, as many of these manuscripts are fragmentary or incomplete, and some have not yet been catalogued or discovered.
The manuscripts of the New Testament vary in age, with some dating back to the early centuries of Christianity, and others dating to later periods. Some of the most significant and well-known manuscripts include the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates to the 4th century and contains the entire New Testament, and the Codex Vaticanus, which also dates to the 4th century and contains most of the New Testament.
In addition to these major codices, there are numerous other ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, including papyri, uncials, and minuscules. These manuscripts have been studied and analyzed by scholars in order to reconstruct the original text of the New Testament and to better understand its history and development.

Why should I be baptized?

Do it because it is in the Bible.

The Scriptures have multiple examples of people who were baptized (immersed in water), and the first example is Jesus himself.

Do it because Jesus did it.

Jesus was not baptized to wash away His sins. Jesus had no sins. Jesus was baptized to identify with God. In the historical record, God spoke from heaven when Jesus was baptized. The Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove.

Do it as a confession of faith in the person of Jesus.

Be baptized because you want to identify with Jesus.

Baptism is a physical way to proclaim your spiritual identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Do it as a proclamation of faith in the death of Jesus.

Do it as a proclamation of faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

Actually, Jesus set in place two important rituals that point toward his death and resurrection.

  • At the start of His earthly ministry, Jesus went to John at the Jordan River and demonstrated water baptism.
  • Near the end of His earthly ministry, on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus met with the Twelve and shared communion.

Jesus’ baptism also foreshadowed His own death, burial, and resurrection.

Do it as an affirmation of your own spiritual renewal.

The Scriptures associate baptism with faith, repentance, forgiveness, the Presence of the Holy Spirit, transformation, and a good conscience.

Baptism is a proclamation of transformation. “Look how Jesus changed me. I was dead in sin. I believe that Jesus died to remove my sin and give me a new life. Since Jesus resurrected from the dead, He enables me to have a new life in Christ.”

Do it as an act of obedience to Jesus.

Jesus commissioned his disciples to baptize people in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Peter exhorted people to be baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Do it to honor God in a tangible way.

Do it because you want people to see it.

Baptism is a picture of God’s grace in your life.

Do it because you want people to know that you are a changed person ready to live a new life.


Did you know…

Jesus routinely practiced the Jewish ritual immersion in water in a mikveh?

Mikva’ot are stepped baths filled with water large enough to fully immerse an adult. They were built to fulfill the requirement in the Law for ritual purity. See Leviticus chapters 11-15 and Numbers chapter 19. There have been almost 900 ancient mikva’ot dating to the Second Temple period (the time of Christ) discovered by archaeologists in almost every location in Israel. The Pool of Siloam was a stepped pool that would have qualified as a mikveh large enough to accomodate large numbers of individuals who were in Jerusalem to visit the holy Temple. Jesus and his disciples would have used the Pool of Siloam before ascending to the Temple Mount. On the Day of Pentecost, the Pool of Siloam is the likely site of the baptisms of Acts 2:41.

So those who accepted his message were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added.

 

 

 

The Apostolic Prayers of the New Testament

What is an apostolic prayer?

An apostolic prayer is a type of prayer found in the New Testament that was either prayed or written by an apostle. These prayers typically express the apostles’ desire for believers to grow in their faith and knowledge of God, as well as their desire for God to work in and through the believers to accomplish His purposes. Examples of apostolic prayers in the New Testament include Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21, as well as his prayer in Colossians 1:9-14.

Here are a few examples of apostolic prayers found in the New Testament:

  1. Ephesians 1:15-23 – Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, asking God to give them wisdom and revelation in knowing Him better and the hope to which He has called them, and that they may know the greatness of God’s power toward those who believe.
  2. Colossians 1:9-14 – Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, asking God to fill them with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that they may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.
  3. Philippians 1:9-11 – Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, asking that their love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that they may be able to discern what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.
  4. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 – Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians, asking God to fulfill their every good purpose and faith by His power, so that the name of Jesus may be glorified in them and them in Him.
  5. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 – Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for the Corinthians, giving thanks for the grace of God given to them in Christ Jesus, and asking that they may be strengthened in every way, so that they may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Romans 15:5-6 – Paul’s prayer for unity among the believers, asking God to grant them to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that together they may with one voice glorify the God and Father of their Lord Jesus Christ.

[a]This article was created using ChatGPT.

Notes[+]

Rhema vs. Logos

I was disappointed.

I was disappointed to read a post on the social media page of a popular Christian author. He wrote on January 9.

For logos to be effective in your life, you must intentionally mix it with faith (Heb 4:2). Rhema, in contrast, comes with such vibrancy that it often releases faith with its delivery.

He refers to Hebrews 4:2. This verse contains a word that is translated from the Greek text. The Greek word is logos (λόγος). It can be translated as either “message” or “word.” However, Hebrews 4:2 does not say that a logos lacks vibrancy, nor does it say that a rhema (ῥῆμα) has vibrancy. Hebrews 4:2 doesn’t mention any vibrancy.

Just what does Hebrews 4:2 say?

(ESV) For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

(NASB) For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also did; but the word they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united with those who listened with faith.

If such a thing as vibrancy exists, it would seem that the listeners of Hebrews 4:2 lacked that mysterious element. The word wasn’t inferior in any way, which is what the author is saying that the Scripture says.

The Scripture doesn’t agree with the author’s assessment of logos. The author is not in alignment with the Word of God.

There are two words for “word.”

The writer is pointing at two Bible words that are translated into English as “word.”

  • In Hebrews 4:2, the word used is λόγος (logos).
  • In some other passages, ῥῆμα (rhema) is translated as “word.”

The writer contrasts LOGOS with RHEMA, indicating that a LOGOS word is ineffective at first, but a RHEMA word is immediately effective to “release” faith. He cites Hebrews 4:2 as a source of this explanation.

There are multiple examples from Scripture.

Ephesians 6:17

…and receive the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (RHEMA) of God

  • This RHEMA refers to the “Gospel of peace” in 6:15 which Paul introduced in Ephesians 1:13 as the “gospel of your salvation.” Paul writes, “…when you heard the word (LOGOS) of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” A written word cannot be heard unless it is a spoken word. Paul treats LOGOS and RHEMA as practical synonyms in this letter.

John 6:63

The Spirit is the one who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words (RHEMATA) that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. [a]RHEMATA is plural of RHEMA.

  • Jesus helps us understand that he is talking about the spoken RHEMATA by adding “that I have spoken.” If RHEMA is restricted to a spoken word, then Jesus was being redundant. His statement shows that we need clarification in this instance.

1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another fervently from the heart, because you have been born again, not from perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and enduring word (LOGOS) of God. For “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word (RHEMA) of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word (RHEMA) that has been proclaimed to you.

  • Peter uses LOGOS and RHEMA interchangeably. When the LOGOS was proclaimed to Peter’s audience, he called it RHEMA, not because Peter was using the power of confession to release the creative power of God, but because LOGOS was the message that was spoken.
  • Peter cites from Isaiah 40:6-8. “Grass withers; the flower withers, but the word of our God will stand forever.” In the time of Christ and Peter, the Scriptures, including Isaiah, had been translated from Hebrew into Greek. This “word” (Hebrew: DABAR) from Isaiah is translated into the Greek LOGOS, but Peter substitutes RHEMA for LOGOS. This translation is not a contradiction for Peter if he sees the two words as near-synonyms. If RHEMA and LOGOS are so distinct as suggested, then Peter was making a huge mistake. If RHEMA and LOGOS are as similar as they appear in the other Scriptures, then Peter is justified when he uses RHEMA in place of LOGOS for Isaiah 40:8.
  • RHEMA means a message or a proclamation. When the LOGOS is preached, it can be called RHEMA or LOGOS.

John 18:31,32

So Pilate said to them, “You take him and judge him according to your law!” The Jews said to him, “It is not permitted for us to kill anyone,” in order that the word (LOGOS) of Jesus would be fulfilled that he had spoken, indicating by what sort of death he was going to die.

  • These words of Jesus had not been written down at the time that he spoke them. LOGOS is not always a written word.
  • In the same way as John 6:63, a phrase is employed to clarify that RHEMA is speech in this incidence, “that he had spoken.”

Maybe the mix-up started with someone else.

Kenneth E. Hagin said,

“Faith is always expressed in words. Faith must be released in words through your mouth. We can see that in all of these Scriptures we have read. When you speak something, that is action.”

The truth is that faith is expressed in obedient works and not by confession. The Book of James contradicts the idea that speaking words is action.

Word of Faith authors appear to agree with the author, saying that LOGOS is the written word and that RHEMA words are faith-filled spoken words that release the creative power of God when spoken.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, He quickens a Scripture verse or specific direction to you—a specific word for a specific time and purpose. [b]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

There is no great distinction between the two words.

The truth is that the New Testament does not demonstrate this distinction. Jesus is called the LOGOS, and he is not the written word. The creative power of RHEMA is a concept that comes from outside the Scriptures and has been substituted for the direct teaching of Scripture.

Consider this official position stated by the Assemblies of God:

There are two major problems with this distinction. First, the distinction is not justified by usage either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The words are used synonymously in both. [c]The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Assemblies of God: Position Papers (Springfield, MO: The General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1972–2017).

Consider the full definition found in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.

Proponents of the LOGOS/RHEMA distinction depend upon a partial quotation from W. E. Vine.

rhḗma (ῥῆμα in Greek); that which is spoken, what is uttered in speech or writing;1 an utterance (individually, collectively, or specifically);2 the word by which something is commanded, directed, or enjoined;3 something that is spoken clearly and vividly, in unmistakable terms and in an undeniable language. In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word.[d]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

Vine includes more information that may be intentionally left out since it does not reinforce the strong distinction needed by RHEMA teachers. Vine tells us that RHEMA is not a completely different concept from LOGOS.

The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph. 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture. [e]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

On the same page, Vine also gives a definition of LOGOS that includes spoken words.

logos (λόγος) denotes (I) “the expression of thought”… (a) as embodying a conception or idea… (b) a saying or statement…  (c) discourse, speech, of instruction. [f]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

Stay Alert

If you care about the authentic Word of God, don’t fall for tricksters that use the RHEMA/LOGOS false distinction that is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. They will want you to believe that this doctrine is original from the Bible, and it is not.

Stop living out of alignment with the Word of God.

Notes[+]

Why do Christians sing?

Christians sing for several reasons, including:

  1. Worship and adoration: Christians believe that singing is a form of worship and a way to express their love and adoration for God.
  2. Proclamation of truth: Christians sing to proclaim the truth of the gospel and share the good news with others.
  3. Unity: Singing together can create a sense of unity and community among believers.
  4. Encouragement and comfort: Singing can be a source of encouragement and comfort in difficult times, reminding believers of God’s love and faithfulness.
  5. Instruction: Hymns and worship songs often contain biblical teachings and can serve as a way to teach and reinforce important theological concepts.
  6. Response: Singing can be a response to God’s goodness and grace, as well as a way to express repentance and seek forgiveness.

The oldest song that Christians still sing today is believed to be the “Phos Hilaron” or “Hail Gladdening Light,” a hymn of evening light that is traditionally sung at sunset. This song dates back to at least the 3rd century AD and is still sung by many Christians, especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Other early Christian hymns and songs include the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” and the “Te Deum Laudamus,” both of which date back to the 4th century AD.

This ancient hymn actually uses “hymn” in verb form. The noun is ὕμνος (humnos), and the verb is ὑμνέω (humneo). In Φῶς ἱλαρὸν (Phos Hilaron). the verb takes the form ὑμνεῖσθαι (humneisthai). The ending indicates the infinitive verb is middle voice aorist whatever that means.

Phos Hilaron

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἁγίας δόξης, ἀθανάτου Πατρός, οὐρανίου, ἁγίου, μάκαρος, Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλίου δύσιν, ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν, ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, Υἱόν, καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα Θεόν. Ἄξιόν σε ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς, ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναῖς αἰσίαις, Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς, Διὸ ὁ κόσμος σὲ δοξάζει.

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!

Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue, Son of our God, giver of life, alone;
Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.

[Source]

Basil of Caesarea

Phos Hilaron (Φῶς ἱλαρὸν) is an ancient Christian hymn originally written in Koine Greek. The hymn is known in English as ‘Hail Gladdening Light,’ or ‘O Gladsome Light.’ It is the earliest known Christian hymn, recorded outside of the Bible, that is still being used today. The hymn is featured in the Vespers of the Orthodox Church.

The song is first recorded by an unknown author in the Constitutiones Apostolicae which was written in the late 3rd or early 4th century A.D. It is found in a collection of songs to be sung in the morning, in the evening, before meals, and at candle lighting. Phos Hilaron is to be sung at the lighting of candles in the evening and so is sometimes known as the ‘Candle-light Hymn’. Despite some of the words to the other three songs being from Scripture or in one case dated to around 150 AD, Phos Hilaron is the first to be considered an actual hymn in the modern sense. It is certainly the first complete example. It is far more rhythmic than the others and is divided into twelve verses varying between five, six, eight, nine, ten and eleven syllables a verse. Basil the Great (ca. 330 – January 1, 379) spoke of the singing of the Phos Hilaron as a cherished tradition of the church, the hymn being already considered old in his day (though some attribute the composition of the song to St Basil himself).

At that time in Jerusalem a candle was kept perpetually burning in the empty tomb of Christ, its glow a symbol of the living light of Jesus. As Christians gathered to worship the hymn was sung and, in a tradition known as the lighting of the lamps, the candle was brought forth from the tomb, its bright, solitary flame calling the church to celebrate the risen Lord.

Athenogenes, a saint of unknown date but is commemorated 16th July, is believed by some to have composed this hymn on the way to being martyred. He is often depicted as an elderly bishop with the executioner’s arm paralyzed until the saint has completed his song. The Roman Martyrology states: “In Pontus, the birthday of Saint Athenogenes, [is celebrated, he was] an aged theologian, who, when about to consummate his martyrdom by fire, sang a hymn of joy, which he left in writing to his disciples.” He is probably identical to the bishop who suffered at Sebaste, Armenia, with ten disciples under Diocletian on July 16; therefore estimating his death as around 305 A.D. However, Basil the Great notes the “ancient form” of this hymn, states it comes from antiquity, and states that it is of unknown origin immediately prior to mentioning the story of “the Hymn of Athenogenes, which, as he was hurrying on to his perfecting by fire, he left as a kind of farewell gift to his friends.” Basil the Great is clearly stating that Athenogenes wrote a different hymn, which scholars believe to be “Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις” (Glory to God in the highest), a.k.a. the Great Doxology. [a]https://orthodoxwiki.org/Phos_Hilaron

Basil wrote:

I will now adduce another piece of evidence which might perhaps seem insignificant, but because of its antiquity must in nowise be omitted by a defendant who is indicted on a charge of innovation. It seemed fitting to our fathers not to receive the gift of the light at eventide in silence, but, on its appearing, immediately to give thanks. Who was the author of these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, we are not able to say. The people, however, utter the ancient form, and no one has ever reckoned guilty of impiety those who say “We praise Father, Son, and God’s Holy Spirit.”

(Ps. 141. was called ὁ ἐπιλύχνιος ψαλμός (Ap. Const. viii. 35). In the Vespers of the Eastern Church an evening hymn is sung, translated in D.C.A. i. 634, “Joyful Light of the holy glory of the immortal Father, the heavenly, the holy, the blessed Jesus Christ, we having come to the setting of the sun and beholding the evening light, praise God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is meet at all times that thou shouldest be hymned with auspicious voices, Son of God, Giver of Life: wherefore the world glorifieth thee.”)

And if any one knows the Hymn of Athenogenes, (identified by some with two early hymns, Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις, and φῶς ἱλαρόν) which, as he was hurrying on to his perfecting by fire, he left as a kind of farewell gift (The MSS. vary between ἐξιτήριον and ἀλεξιτήριον, farewell gift and amulet or charm. In Ep. cciii. 229 Basil says that our Lord gave His disciples peace as an ἐξιτήριον δῶρον, using the word, but in conjunction with δῶρον. Greg. Naz., Orat. xiv. 223 speaks of our Lord leaving peace “ὥσπερ ἄλλο τι ἐξιτήριον.”) to his friends, he knows the mind of the martyrs as to the Spirit. On this head I shall say no more. [b]Basil of Caesarea, “The Book of Saint Basil on the Spirit,” in St. Basil: Letters and Select Works, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Blomfield Jackson, vol. 8, A Select Library of the … Continue reading

 

[c]This article includes some content created using OpenAI’s ChatGPT

Notes[+]

How to Find Bible Contradictions in Jesus’ Birth Story

Why does the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Luke contradict the account in the Gospel of Matthew?

Compare the two passages to see this irreconcilable contradiction.

BOTH: Nazareth → Bethlehem

Both passages agree that Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. They don’t agree on where the Holy Family went after Bethlehem.

LUKE: Bethlehem → Nazareth

Click image for larger map.

 

Luke chapter 2 says that they made a brief trip from their home in Bethlehem to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the law of Moses, then returned immediately back to Nazareth from Bethlehem.

22 And when the days of their purification were completed according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb will be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

39 And when they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

 

MATTHEW: Bethlehem → Egypt → Nazareth

Click image for larger map.

 

Matthew chapter 2 says the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left Bethlehem and went to Egypt until Herod was dead, then the Holy Family returned to Nazareth.

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,

13 Now after they had gone away, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to seek the child to destroy him.” 14 So he got up and took the child and his mother during the night and went away to Egypt. 15 And he was there until the death of Herod…

19 Now after Herod had died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the life of the child are dead.” 21 So he got up and took the child and his mother and entered the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream, he took refuge in the regions of Galilee. 23 And he came and lived in a town called Nazareth, in order that what was said by the prophets would be fulfilled: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

The previous summary is inaccurate.

The differences between Matthew and Luke are not irreconcilable differences. They are actually complementary passages.

The Truth About Matthew’s Account

Actually, the Gospel of Matthew does not contain any mention of Joseph and Mary coming from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Matthew is silent on Nazareth until 2:23. However this is not a problem since Luke’s account includes the section.

Matthew does not say that Mary and Joseph did not come from Nazareth. If Matthew had said that Mary and Joseph came from their home in Jericho or some other city, there would be a real contradiction. Or if Matthew had said that Mary and Joseph had never been to Nazareth before, there would be a real contradiction. However, there is not a contradiction about something that was not said. Matthew simply doesn’t mention the location of Nazareth until after Egypt in 2:23.

Matthew’s silence on the Nazareth section does not prevent us from accepting the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem found in Luke.

Furthermore, Matthew does not contain the section about the shepherds and angels. There are no problems with this since the shepherds come from the Luke passage. Both accounts are needed to get the complete story.

Not documenting an event is not a denial of that event when it is documented by another historian.

The Truth About Luke’s Account

Actually, the Gospel of Luke does not contain any mention of Joseph and Mary returning from Jerusalem to Bethlehem before moving back home to Nazareth. However, we know that Bethlehem was their home away from home for the time while Mary was pregnant and when Jesus was delivered (Luke 2:4-6), and possibly up to two years after his birth (Matthew 2:16). So, we can be sure that they left the Temple in Jerusalem and returned to their house in Bethlehem before the journey back to Nazareth in Galilee. There is not a contradiction about something that was not said.

Furthermore, Luke does not mention the visit of the wise men and the slaughter of the children by angry king Herod. But, there are no problems since Matthew covers this section very well.

Another inaccuracy from the opening account is very subtle. I claim that Luke says the Holy Family returned immediately to Nazareth after fulfilling the legal rituals in Jerusalem. The Scripture says “they returned” not “they returned immediately without any trips to Egypt.” When we insert an extra word, we create a contradiction that isn’t really there.

But doesn’t Luke use chronological language here? Yes. He indicates that the move back to Galilee did not take place before the rituals in Jerusalem. We accept that the family did not go straight from Jerusalem to Nazareth even though Luke doesn’t include a section about Bethlehem between Jerusalem and Nazareth. We can’t know why. And therefore, we can’t know why Luke doesn’t tell us how long, days or years, between Jerusalem and Nazareth. If we accept Matthew’s account of Egypt, there was a pretty good gap of time not mentioned by Luke.

Luke’s silence on the Egypt passage isn’t proof that Egypt never happened. We accept Matthew’s account of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem even though Luke is silent. We accept Matthew’s account of the wise men even though Luke is silent. We accept Matthew’s account of angry king Herod ordering the massacre of children even though Luke is silent. We accept Luke’s account of shepherds even though Matthew is silent. We accept Luke’s account of the Jerusalem visit even though Matthew is silent.

We need both Matthew’s account and Luke’s account to see a more complete history.

Each of these two historians had a perspective on the birth of Christ. We need to read both accounts. There is no contradiction if we don’t create one by adding phrases or presumptions that are not in the historical text.

COMBINED ACCOUNTS: Nazareth → Bethlehem → Jerusalem → Bethlehem → Egypt → Nazareth

 

How to Interpret Fill-in-the-blank Jesus

Argument:

Jesus never mentioned abortion, therefore Christians are wrong to be pro-life.

“Jesus never once talked about abortion… for people perverting the gospel of Jesus Christ down to one issue, it’s heresy… Open the Bible… you won’t see it there…” (Joe Scarborough, Morning Joe, September 9, 2022, 28:37. It is worth hearing the whole rant on YouTube.)

Reply:

Arguing about something that was never said is meaningless.

First, make a list of behaviors not mentioned by Jesus.

  • Jesus never mentioned the sex trafficking of children.
  • Jesus never mentioned selling a child into slavery.
  • Jesus never mentioned cannibalism of your children.
  • Jesus never mentioned child sacrifice.

Then, realize that Jesus wasn’t silent about moral issues and did not fail to speak to important ethical questions such as these, because Jesus did quote Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5: 17. He also summarized Exodus 21:12, Leviticus 24:17, Numbers 35:12, and Deuteronomy 17:8-13. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed the motives of a murderous heart that will be judged by God. Furthermore, it would be absurd to ignore the value Jesus placed upon infants and children.

An argument from silence means nothing, but Jesus was not silent about moral issues. You must use what Jesus did say to extrapolate what he believed. You cannot take what he did not say and create a narrative of what he may have believed.

It is absurd to indicate that Jesus approved of killing reborn children for the convenience of the parents. Jesus appealed to Scripture as authoritative, specifically indicating passages that condemn murder. Therefore, Jesus sees the black letters as authoritative, not just his own red ones.

Jesus believed what it says in the book of Psalms.

Indeed you created my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was created secretly, and intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my embryo, and in your book they all were written— days fashioned for me when there was not one of them. And to me, how precious are your thoughts, O God; how vast is their sum. If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. I awaken, and I am still with you. If only you would kill the wicked, O God— so get away from me, you bloodthirsty men— who speak against you deceitfully. Your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Yahweh? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with a complete hatred; they have become my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there is in me the worship of false gods, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139)

It is manipulative to imply that Psalm 139 has no application to the murder of the unborn unless Jesus quoted it directly.

Luke 24:44″… the psalms must be fulfilled” indicates Jesus high view of Psalms. Jesus explicitly endorsed the Old Testament, and the Old Testament explicitly condemn murder, killing a human, even a pre-born human.

The earliest Christians understood Christ and wrote what they thought would please Him.

First century Christians documented their understanding of the Twelve Apostles’ doctrine on Christ and wrote (Didache 12:2) “You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten (pre-born).”

Furthermore, there is no competition between pre-born humans and the born ones, as if the defense of right to life prevents the care and protection of all children. We need to do both. Honor the sanctity of pre-born humans. Protect all humans from neglect and abuse.

Modern man may think himself wise in his own eyes, especially when suggesting that he is more qualified to speak on behalf of Jesus, that the historical Jesus was in favor of abortion, that Jesus had nothing to say about the morality or ethics that are the murderous heart of abortion.

A secular consideration may have some light in it.

Consider the wording that was in the pre-Christian Hippocratic oath, written between the fifth and third century BC. “… I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman with a view to destroy the child.” Even the ancient pagan Greeks knew something about the dignity of human life.

 

 

 

There is No Joy in the Decision to Strike Down Roe vs. Wade

  1. This ruling cannot erase the death of over 60 million innocent citizens.
  2. The persons responsible for the murder of innocent children are still free to murder more.
  3. This ruling has no power to change the heart of responsible adults.
  4. This ruling does not address the root problem of devaluation of human life, does not recognize that a human death for the sake of the convenience is always murder.
  5. This ruling does not address the root problem of sexual promiscuity and behavioral irresponsibility.

Is the Antichrist gay?

Someone recently heard a preacher on the radio. The preacher used the passage in Daniel 11 to prove that the Antichrist will be a homosexual.

What does Daniel 11 say?

Click this link for entire chapter on Bible Gateway. Let’s read Daniel 11: 37 in a few English translations for comparison of interpretation.

(KJV) Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

(NASB 2020) And he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will boast against them all.

(ESV) He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all.

(LEB) He will not pay respect to the gods of his ancestors, or to the darling of women, and not to any god will he pay respect, for he will consider himself great over all gods.

What’s wrong with the preacher’s interpretation?

  1. No version of this verse says that the Antichrist will not desire women. Rather, we find that Daniel 11:37 says that the man will not regard the object of women’s desire.
  2. The preacher is applying his own agenda upon this one verse. This is the kind of stuff that gives Christians a bad reputation. People have told me, “You can make the Bible say anything that you want it to say.” However, making the Bible say what we want it to say is bad practice. The Bible should be read without smothering it in our own opinions. Read it as if you want to learn the original meaning. Do not read the Bible to find proof texts as backup for your favorite rants or as justification for your personal behavior.
  3. The preacher changes the original structure of the sentence. It’s easy to see through the transformation from a man who does not regard the object of women’s desire into a man who does not desire women. However, it just isn’t appropriate to do this to this passage of Holy Scripture.
  4. The preacher provides information not found in the original passage. Even if the passage said he won’t desire women, it wouldn’t make him a homosexual by default… that would require an addition of “his (sexual) desire is for men” into the passage. Other Scriptures indicate that a holy man can live a celibate lifestyle of sexual abstinence.

What is the short answer?

Daniel 11:37 is about a man that is not influenced by the feelings expressed by women.