Sunday, January 03, 2021

Why The COVID-19 Vaccine Is Not “The Mark Of The Beast”

Revelation 13:16–17 (NRSV): 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
I had a recent Facebook conversation in which I explained why I didn't think that the COVID-19 vaccine, or government certifications or travel restrictions related to it, had anything to do with the mark of the beast of Revelation 13, as some seem to be saying. I also explained why I don’t regard Revelation as predicting specific events that are happening or will happen in our days. So unlike some people, I am not concerned that getting the vaccine or getting it in my right hand (arm) means I am taking the mark of the beast, and I don’t think you should be so concerned, either.
A reason I feel this way is because (to put it simply) the Book of Revelation itself says several times that the events it’s warning its first-century readers about were to happen soon, not after 2,000 or more years:
1:1 Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἣν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ θεὸς δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει, καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ Ἰωάννῃ,1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
2:16 μετανόησον οὖν· εἰ δὲ μή, ἔρχομαί σοι ταχὺ καὶ πολεμήσω μετʼ αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ῥομφαίᾳ τοῦ στόματός μου.2:16 Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth.”
3:11 ἔρχομαι ταχύ· κράτει ὃ ἔχεις, ἵνα μηδεὶς λάβῃ τὸν στέφανόν σου.3:11 I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”
11:14 Ἡ οὐαὶ ἡ δευτέρα ἀπῆλθεν· ἰδοὺ ἡ οὐαὶ ἡ τρίτη ἔρχεται ταχύ.11:14 The second woe has passed. The third woe is coming very soon.
22:6 Καὶ εἶπέν μοι· οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι πιστοὶ καὶ ἀληθινοί, καὶ ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν προφητῶν ἀπέστειλεν τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει.22:6 And he said to me, These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
22:7 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ. μακάριος ὁ τηρῶν τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου.22:7 See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
22:12 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ, καὶ ὁ μισθός μου μετʼ ἐμοῦ ἀποδοῦναι ἑκάστῳ ὡς τὸ ἔργον ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ.22:12 See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.”
22:20 Λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα· ναί, ἔρχομαι ταχύ. Ἀμήν, ἔρχου κύριε Ἰησοῦ.22:20 The one who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Per BDAG (Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich, the authoritative New Testament Greek lexicon), here are the two words translated in English as soon, followed by a listing of which word each of the above verses uses. References to the above verses are bold-faced and underlined:
* τάχος, ους, τό (Hom. et al.; ins, pap, LXX; TestSol 7:3 D; Just., D. 68, 3) ① a very brief period of time, with focus on speed of an activity or event, speed, quickness, swiftness, haste, μετὰ τάχους with speed (Pla., Prot. 332b, Leg. 944c; POxy 2107, 4 [III A.D.]) MPol 13:1. • —ἐν τάχει (Pind., Aeschyl. et al.; Galen, CMG V/9/2 p. 25, 25 al.; ins, pap, LXX; Jos., Ant. 6, 163; 17, 83) quickly, at once, without delay Ac 10:33 D; 12:7; 17:15 D; 22:18; 1 Cl 48:1; 63:4. • —τάχει (Tetrast. Iamb. 2, 6, 1 p. 287; SibOr 1, 205; in Plut., Caes. 717 [20, 4], Lys. 438 [11, 2] w. the addition of πολλῷ, παντί; cp. Just., D. 68, 3 σὺν τάχει) quickly Rv 2:5 v.l. (s. Tdf.). • —τὸ τάχος as acc. of specification, adverbially (very) quickly, without delay (PHib 62, 13; PPetr II, 9, 2, 9; PSI 326, 12; 495, 17; 18 [all III B.C.]; LXX; Jos., Ant. 13, 8. Without the art. as early as Aeschyl.) 1 Cl 53:2; B 4:8; 14:3 (w. all three cp. Ex 32:7). ② pert. to a relatively brief time subsequent to another point of time, ἐν τάχει as adverbial unit soon, in a short time Lk 18:8; Ro 16:20; 1 Ti 3:14; Rv 1:1; 22:6; 1 Cl 65:1; • shortly Ac 25:4. • Cp. ταχύς 2. • —DELG s.v. ταχύς. M-M. 
** ταχύς, εῖα, ύ (Hom.+) ① pert. to a very brief period of time, with focus on speed of an activity or event ⓐ adj. quick, swift, speedy ταχ. καρπός fruit that ripens quickly 2 Cl 20:3. • ταχὺς εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι quick to hear Js 1:19 (Lucian, Epigr. 18 ταχ. εἰς τὸ φαγεῖν; Sir 5:11; Libanius, Or. 33 p. 186, 15 ἐν τῷ δῆσαι ταχύς, ἐν τῷ κρῖναι βραδύς ‘quick to arrest but slow in deciding’; cp. PsSol 4:5 ταχὺς εἰσόδῳ εἰς πάσαν οἰκίαν). ⓑ mostly in the neut. sing. as adv. ταχύ (Trag., Hdt.+; pap, LXX; En 97:10; TestSol 4:2 P; Jos., Bell. 7, 394, Vi. 149). α. quickly, at a rapid rate ταχὺ ἔφυγον Mk 16:8 v.l. • —Mt 28:8. β. without delay, quickly, at once (though it is not always poss. to make a clear distinction betw. this mng. and the one in 2) Mt 5:25; 28:7; Lk 15:22; J 11:29; Ac 14:2 D; 1 Cl 23:5ab (Is 13:22); • 53:2 (Ex 32:8; Dt 9:12); Hm 9:7. • This is prob. the place for the ἔρχεσθαι ταχύ of Rv 2:5 v.l. (many cursives and printed texts), Rv 2:16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, 20 (P-ÉLangevin, Jésus Seigneur, ’67, 209–35). ② pert. to a relatively brief time subsequent to another point of time, neut. sg. as adv. in a short time, soon (cp. 1bβ above and τάχος 2). • Mk 9:39 (soon afterward); • Hv 3, 8, 9; m 12, 5, 3. • This is also prob. the place for the μετανοεῖν ταχύ of Hs 8, 7, 5; 8, 8, 3; 5; 8, 10, 1; 9, 19, 2; 9, 21, 4; 9, 23, 2; • εἰς ταχεῖαν (sc. ὥραν) soon AcPlCor 2:3. • —DELG. M-M.
* Revelation 1:1
** Revelation 2:16
** Revelation 3:11
** Revelation 11:14
* Revelation 22:6
** Revelation 22:7
** Revelation 22:12
** Revelation 22:20
As G. K. Beale points out in his commentary on Revelation (New International Greek Testament Commentary), the author of Revelation regards his times as the last days that Daniel wrote about. So Revelation itself tells us that it is about events beginning to happen or soon to happen, and not about events that won’t happen for another 500 or 1,000 or 2,000, etc., years. Per Beale:
Simply put, John understands Daniel’s reference to a distant time as referring to his own era, and he updates the text accordingly. What Daniel expected to occur in the distant latter days—the defeat of cosmic evil and the ushering in of the divine kingdom—John expects to begin quickly, in his own generation, if it has not already begun to happen.6
6John’s understanding of Daniel 2 as having already begun fulfillment is not unique in the NT. Luke 20:18 ( = Matt. 21:44) quotes Jesus as equating the stone of Dan. 2:34–35 with his own ministry. The same inaugurated end-time view of Dan. 2:35 is probably also apparent in Rev. 12:8 (see the comments below on that verse). (p. 153, Introduction)
The significance of this OT background for v 1 is best understood from examination of the following phrase, δεῖξαι … ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι (to show … what must come to pass), which, together with ἐν τάχει (quickly), is derived from Dan. 2:28–29, 45 (as discussed above, pp. 152–53). ἐν τάχει (quickly) is a deliberate substitute for Daniel’s ἐπʼ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν (in the latter days; e.g., Dan. 2:28) and connotes neither the speedy manner in which the Daniel prophecy is to be fulfilled nor the mere possibility that it could be fulfilled at any time, but the definite, imminent time of fulfillment, which likely has already begun in the present. This may be evident as we recognize that ἐπʼ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν (in the latter days) in Daniel 2 must be understood as referring only to the temporal aspect of the prophecy’s fulfillment and not to the rapid manner in which it is to be fulfilled. John’s substitution of ἐν τάχει implies his expectation that the final tribulation, defeat of evil, and establishment of the kingdom, which Daniel expected to occur distantly in the latter days, would begin in his own generation, and, indeed, that it had already begun to happen (for the idea of tribulation preceding the divine kingdom see Daniel 7, which is a parallel prophecy to Daniel 2).
Therefore, it is also unnecessary to introduce into v 1 the idea that John has a prophetic perspective in which, for various reasons, what is actually to occur in the distant future is perceived as near. Some believe that John was expecting only a coming crisis of persecution. But that he was also anticipating God’s victory over evil and the inauguration of the kingdom is clear from the Daniel 2 (and 7) context, as well as from what follows in Revelation 1. (pp. 181–182 on Revelation 1:1)

  The Book of Revelation concludes with this warning:

Revelation 22:18–19 (NRSV): 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19 if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Those who interpretatively add to the meaning of Revelation by trying to make it be about events in the year 2021 may inadvertently be doing what the author warns his hearers and readers not to do.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Tongues And The Interpretation Of Tongues: A Critical Inquiry

© 1996, 1997, 2022 Eric S. Weiss
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

I was skimming through PAUL, THE SPIRIT, AND THE PEOPLE OF GOD by Gordon D. Fee (Hendrickson 1996), not in any particular order nor for any particular purpose. When I read these words [about speaking in tongues]: "It is speech directed basically toward God" (p. 169) I suddenly stopped. Not because this was a new revelation to me—I had always known that speaking in tongues was speaking in the spirit to God. I stopped suddenly because I had the thought: "If speaking in tongues is speech directed basically toward God, then an interpretation of a message in tongues should also consist of speech directed basically toward God." Yet I would have to say that, almost without fail, every single "interpretation" of a message in tongues that I have heard (and I've been involved in the Charismatic Movement since 1977 or so) has been directed not toward God but toward people. E.g., the interpretations usually begin (and continue) along the lines of something like: "My people... " or "Thus says the Lord… " or "The Lord would say...."

Though this thought made perfect sense, it so went against almost everything I had experienced or been taught that I had to check it out in the Scriptures. So I looked at the passages in the New Testament where people spoke in tongues and there was an interpretation, or where tongues and/or their interpretation were discussed or possibly indicated, and what follows is what I found. I have concluded based on this study that the church's understanding and practice of the "interpretation of tongues" has most likely been erroneous in light of what the Scriptures seem to teach.


Acts 2:3–11 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God."

The "interpretation" (in this case, the direct understanding) of the message in tongues was that the speakers were declaring the mighty works of God. However, this is really not a case of "tongues and interpretation," since the speech was either in the native languages of the hearers and/or the Holy Spirit caused the hearers to understand in their own languages what was being spoken in tongues. This passage may thus not be relevant to this discussion; however, see comments below on Acts 10:44–47.

Acts 10:44–47 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"

The "exalting God" could have been the interpretation of what they were speaking in tongues. That Peter seems to equate what happened here with what happened to him and those with him at Pentecost (Acts 2:3–11, above) (i.e., "just as we did") may indicate that at Pentecost Peter and his companions did speak in tongues and the Holy Spirit "interpreted" their speech into the languages of the hearers.

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

If the prophesying was the interpretation of the tongues they were speaking (and there is no indication one way or the other), then since prophesy is speech directed from God to man, this could be a possible instance of tongues being a message directed to men. Likewise, it could be showing that there is a difference between speaking with tongues and prophesying (i.e., one is from man to God, the other is from God to man). This verse may neither support nor refute the conclusion of this essay.


Romans 8:26–27 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

If the "groanings too deep for words" is speaking or praying in tongues, it is speech (prayer) directed toward God.

1 Corinthians 12:1–3 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

If such saying by the Holy Spirit that "Jesus is Lord" relates to speaking in tongues (and I'm not saying that it does), it is speech directed toward God or speech extolling God. I would suggest based on Romans 10:9 and Philippians 2:11 that this saying "Jesus is Lord," in this context is probably a personal declaration or confession to God rather than a prophetic or declarative proclamation to men. If, however, Paul was talking about speech directed to men, and if it was related to speaking in tongues, then it might be an instance of tongues-speech being a message to men (two big "ifs").

1 Corinthians 14:2–19, 26–32 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue…. What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets;

He who "speaks in a tongue… [speaks] to God," so one would assume that any interpretation of that speaking should reflect that it's speech directed to God. Some have argued that speaking in tongues + interpretation = prophecy, hence speaking in tongues can be a message directed to men, like prophecy is. Paul doesn't seem to be saying that speaking in tongues + interpretation = prophecy, but that both edify the church. He does seems to indicate that speaking in tongues is speech or prayer directed to God, since he refers to it as "bless[ing] in the spirit" and as a "giving of thanks," and says that it calls for the response of "Amen." [In support of the view that Paul does not equate "tongues" with "prophecy," note that he seems to equate "prophecy"—but not "tongues" or the "interpretation" of tongues—with "revelation," since his list in verse 26 refers to "a revelation,… a tongue,… an interpretation" and omits "prophecy" (this omission is understandable if that's what he means by "revelation"), and his discussion in verses 29–30 clearly equates "prophecy"—but not "tongues" or the "interpretation" of tongues—with "revelation." On the other hand, in 14:6 he lists revelation and prophecy as different things.]

Ephesians 5:18–19 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

If these "spiritual songs" are what Paul meant by "sing[ing] with the spirit" in 1 Corinthians 14:15, then the discussion there, as well as the immediate context here with "psalms and hymns," indicate that they are speech (song) directed to God or about God and hence should reflect that if interpreted.

Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

If "pray... in the Spirit" means to speak or pray in tongues, it's speech directed to or about God.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

See the comments on Ephesians 5:18–19.

Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

This could possibly be translated "[by] praying in the Holy Spirit." If "praying in the Holy Spirit" means to pray in tongues, it supports what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:4 about speaking in tongues edifying (building up) the one speaking. See the comments on 1 Corinthians 14:2–19 about this being speech directed to God.


Some say that Jesus never spoke in tongues, and indeed we have no scriptural record that he ever did. Some hold that because speaking in tongues was a sign of the new dispensation inaugurated after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection to declare the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, no one before that time (including Jesus) could have or would have spoken in tongues. There is no evidence that anyone in the Old Testament ever spoke in tongues either, though to say that they didn't is, as with Jesus, to argue from silence. Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was something new, it can be expected that a "new thing" would accompany this event. On the other hand, Peter equated the events at Pentecost with the fulfillment of Joel's prophesy (Joel 2:28) that God would one day pour out from His Spirit upon all flesh, a prophecy that hearkens back to Moses' desire that all God's people might be prophets (Numbers 11:29) and would prophesy as those with him had just done. There is always the possibility that speaking in tongues accompanied this prophetic speaking. Likewise, since Jesus was filled with the same Holy Spirit we receive as Christians, it is possible that he spoke in tongues even if that fact was not recorded, for he exhibited the other manifestations or gifts of the Spirit (e.g., prophecy, healing, faith, etc.).

Luke 10:21 At that very time He [Jesus] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight."

It is possible that what we have here is an account of Jesus praising God in tongues ("rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit") and then speaking the interpretation: "I praise You, O Father…." If so, this further supports what I've written here that speaking in tongues is speech or prayer directed toward God, and hence its interpretation will reflect speech or prayer directed toward God.


What I have found—and hence what I will call my "conclusion"—based on searching the Scriptures on this subject, is that since speaking in tongues is primarily speech or prayer directed to God or about God, when that speech is "interpreted," the "interpretation" should reflect that fact. If it doesn't, then the "interpretation" is likely not the proper interpretation. My conclusion could be wrong, but, on the other hand:

  • If my conclusion is correct, Charismatics and Pentecostals will have to seriously reconsider what they call "the interpretation of tongues" and their practices related to it.
  • If my conclusion is correct, then almost every "interpretation of a message in tongues" that a Charismatic or Pentecostal has heard or has himself or herself given has NOT been the "interpretation" of that message.
  • If my conclusion is correct, then that "sense" or "impression" a person has gotten whenever he or she felt that he or she "had the interpretation" of a message in tongues was not a "sense" from God—unless, with rare exception, the "interpretation" was in accord with what my conclusion says an interpretation of a message in tongues should be.

I later read (in the same book) this comment by Fee: "Prayer (and praise), therefore, seems the best way to view Paul's understanding of glossolalia [speaking in tongues]. At no point in 1 Corinthians 14 does Paul suggest that tongues is speech directed toward people." (p. 148). Fee endnotes these statements with the remark: "See further the exegesis of 1 Corinthians 14:5 in GEP [God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul—see below], where I argue that the interpretation of a tongue does not thereby turn it into human-directed speech, but interprets the mystery spoken to God referred to in 14:2." (p. 151). Following is that exegesis:

5 This verse summarizes the point of vv. 1–4 by making explicit Paul’s preference for prophecy over tongues in the assembly. As in vv. 2–4, he begins with tongues: “I would like you all to speak in tongues.” This sentence is often viewed as “merely conciliatory,” especially in light of 12:28–30 where he asserts that all do not speak in tongues.540 But that is not quite correct. Paul has already indicated that tongues have value for the individual, meaning in private, personal prayer (cf. vv. 14–15 and 18–19). Now he says of that dimension of spiritual life that he could wish all experienced the edification that came from such a gift of the Spirit. But that of course is not his present point; thus he quickly qualifies that “wish” by repeating the language of v. 1: “but rather that you prophesy.”

After such a summary one would expect in this letter that it might be followed by an explanatory “for” and a reason. In this case, however, he concludes with the proposition, “Greater is the one who prophesies than the one who speaks in tongues.” With these words two matters from the preceding argument are brought into focus. First, this defines the meaning of “greater gift” in the exhortation in 12:31; second, the reason prophecy is greater is related to the edification of the community, as the preceding argument makes certain. Thus it is not inherently greater, since all gifts come from the Spirit and are beneficial. It is greater precisely because it is intelligible and therefore can edify.

This last point is ensured by the final qualifying clause added to speaking in tongues: “unless he or she interprets,541 so that the church may be edified.” The problem is not with tongues per se but tongues without interpretation—which from the context seems very likely what the Corinthians were doing. The interpretation of the tongues-speech brings it within the framework of intelligibility, which in turn means that it too can edify the community. This does not imply that such a tongue is to be understood as directed toward the community, but that what the person has been speaking to God has now been made intelligible, so that others may benefit from the Spirit’s utterance.542 Thus, even though from Paul’s perspective prophecy is clearly preferable, it seems equally clear that the real urgency is not with tongues and prophecy, but with intelligible utterances in the gathered assembly so that all may be edified.

Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 220–221.

On glance, therefore, it appears that Fee (a Pentecostal), who has undoubtedly thoroughly studied the subject, would support my conclusion. Fee's comment that speech in tongues and the interpretation have to do with "the mystery [i.e., a secret now revealed] spoken to God referred to in [1 Corinthians] 14:2" may allow for a message in tongues to be a kind of revelation, and hence its "interpretation" could resemble prophecy—but this would still not provide a scriptural basis for much of what has been and is regarded in the church as "interpretations" of messages in tongues.


I would urge anyone who reads and accepts this message and who formerly gave "interpretations" of messages in tongues to be cautious about soon giving "interpretations" that are more in line with what this essay concludes that such an "interpretation" should sound like. I would suggest that they first ask themselves how their "sense" that they now "have the interpretation" differs from what they previously felt when they gave an "interpretation" which they now agree, based on my conclusion, was probably not the interpretation and was probably not from God. (If what they felt then was similar to what they feel whenever they get a "word" from God or a "sense of what the Lord is doing," then I'd urge them to examine their discernment in all areas, not just in the matter of the interpretation of tongues.) I'm not trying to quench the Spirit. I'm just suggesting that if someone realizes and admits they have been in error for so long and on so many occasions in this area, they should be very cautious about thinking that, just because they have now been "more accurately" taught, they are now or in a short time able to discern the Spirit of God correctly and can again begin "interpreting" messages in tongues. I would advise that person and the leadership of their congregation to leave the "interpretation" of tongues for a time to those whose interpretations have in the past been according to what the Scriptures seem to teach. Hopefully the congregation has such people.


I sent a copy of this essay to Gordon Fee and received a response that basically said that from being in many situations where the "interpretation" did speak very directly to the needs of the church, his opinion was that: a) we may be experiencing a combination of a message in tongues followed by a prophetic word, rather than an "interpretation"; b) God may be accommodating himself to our weaknesses at this point; c) the New Testament may not address this issue; or d) a little bit of all the above.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Same-Sex Sexual Relations In The New Testament And Contemporary Jewish And Christian Texts

There are a very few passages in the New Testament that seem to speak against same-sex sexual relations (often referred to as "homosexuality"). These are Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10, all attributed to the Apostle Paul. 

(I am omitting from this discussion two other New Testament passages: a) Jude 6–7, because it may be condemning the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah for attempting to have sex with angels, rather than with humans of the same sex, though several of the texts I include seem to take it to mean the latter; and b) Revelation 22:15, because there is not agreement that “dogs” (κύων kyōn) refers to homosexuals and/or pederasts and/or sodomites.)

A number of scholars and writers have come out in support of same-sex relationships between Christians by showing that the terms ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs) and μαλακός (malakos) in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 likely refer to exploitive or abusive dominant-submissive activities, and not to mutual and loving same-sex relationships.

And because the condemnation of same-sex sexual activities expressed in Romans 1:26–27 is directed at persons who acted “against nature” (παρὰ φύσιν) after failing to glorify or thank God and/or turning to idolatry, they similarly argue that it is therefore not condemning relations between same-sex-attracted persons, as they are not acting “against [their] nature.”

They also state that our knowledge and understanding of sexual orientation and gender make it anachronistic to apply the term “homosexuality” to those texts. Indeed, the word “homosexual” (a fairly recent word at that) didn’t appear in an English Bible translation until the 1946 New Testament of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) as a translation in 1 Corinthians 6:9 of the two terms μαλακός (malakos) and ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs), and it was subsequently changed to “sexual perverts” when the full RSV Bible was published in 1952. See

However one views the subject matter of these New Testament texts, other Jewish and Christian texts of the time did seem to condemn same-sex sexual activities regardless of the reasons persons engaged in them. Richard N. Longnecker refers to some of these other texts when he writes:

“…male homoeroticism is explicitly denounced in the Jewish (OT) Scriptures103 and in a number of the writings of Second Temple Judaism104—with female homoeroticism, while not mentioned in the Jewish (OT) Scriptures or in the writings of Second Temple Judaism, being also condemned in the Talmud.105 ...Further, it needs to be noted that the connection between homosexuality and idolatry was commonly made by both Jews and Jewish Christians of Paul’s day. For example, in T Naph 3:2–4, which is probably a Jewish writing that was later redacted by first-century Jewish Christians, there is the statement:

The sun, moon, and stars do not change their order, so you must not change the law of God by the disorder of your deeds. Gentiles, in going astray and forsaking the Lord, have changed their order and gone after stones and wooden objects, led away by spirits of error. But not so you, my children. You have recognized in heaven’s vault, in the earth, in the sea, and in all created things the Lord who made them all, so you should not become like Sodom, which changed the order of its nature.[1]

Following are the texts and verses cited by Longnecker. (I’ve sometimes included more verses than Longnecker’s citation.) As mentioned, they seem to show that there was blanket condemnation in Jewish and Christian thought of Paul’s time of any and all (male) same-sex sexual activities. But this is not unexpected considering the times and the culture and what was understood and assumed and believed then and for centuries afterwards about human sexuality.

Longnecker’s citations: Letter of Aristeas 152; Philo, De Abrahamo 26.135–36; De specialibus legibus 2.14.50; Josephus, Contra Apion 2.25, 199; Sibylline Oracles 2:73; 3:185–87, 594–600, 763; 5:386–433; 2 Enoch 10:4; Testament of Levi 14:6; 17:11; Testament of Naphtali 3:2–4 ; 4:1.


Letter of Aristeas 151–152

151 because the strength of the whole body with its action rests upon the shoulders and the legs.j2 The symbolismk2 conveyed by these things compels us to make a distinction in the performance of all our acts, with righteousness as our aim. This moreover explains why we are distinct from all other men. 152 The majority of other men defile themselves in their relationships, thereby committing a serious offense, and lands and whole cities take pride in it: they not only procurel2 the males, they also defile mothers and daughters. We are quite separated from these practices. 

j2 The underlying thought here is that the cloven, separate hoof is symbolic of the Jews and of their being separate and distinct from other people.
k2 The text is corrupt. Thackeray’s suggestion ho semeioutai, “he signifies by symbols,” is adopted here.
l2 Thackeray adopts Schmidt’s emendation proagousi, “they procure.”

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament: Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom, and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works, vol. 2 (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1985), 22–23.

Letter of Aristeas 151–152

151 ἡ γὰρ ἰσχὺς τῶν ὅλων σωμάτων μετʼ ἐνεργείας ἀπέρεισιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὤμους ἔχει καὶ τὰ σκέλη. μετὰ διαστολῆς οὖν ἅπαντα ἐπιτελεῖν πρὸς δικαιοσύνην ἀναγκάζει †τὸ σημειοῦσθαι† διὰ τούτων· ἔτι δὲ καὶ διότι παρὰ πάντας ἀνθρώπους διεστάλμεθα.
152 οἱ γὰρ πλείονες τῶν λοιπῶν ἀνθρώπων ἑαυτοὺς μολύνουσιν ἐπιμισγόμενοι, συντελοῦντες μεγάλην ἀδικίαν, καὶ χῶραι καὶ πόλεις ὅλαι σεμνύνονται ἐπὶ τούτοις. οὐ μόνον γὰρ <προάγουσι> τοὺς ἄρσενας, ἀλλὰ καὶ τεκούσας ἔτι δὲ θυγατέρας μολύνουσιν. ἡμεῖς δὲ ἀπὸ τούτων διεστάλμεθα.

 Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Philo, De Abrahamo 26.133–140

XXVI. (133) And what is signified by this is indicated in a most evident and careful manner by the events which ensued. The country of the Sodomites was a district of the land of Canaan, which the Syrians afterwards called Palestine, a country full of innumerable iniquities, and especially of gluttony and debauchery, and all the great and numerous pleasures of other kinds which have been built up by men as a fortress, on which account it had been already condemned by the Judge of the whole world. (134) And the cause of its excessive and immoderate intemperance was the unlimited abundance of supplies of all kinds which its inhabitants enjoyed. For the land was one with a deep soil, and well watered, and as such produced abundant crops of every kind of fruit every year. And he was a wise man and spoke truly who said—

“The greatest cause of all iniquity
Is found in overmuch prosperity.”

(135) As men, being unable to bear discreetly a satiety of these things, get restive like cattle, and become stiff-necked, and discard the laws of nature, pursuing a great and intemperate indulgence of gluttony, and drinking, and unlawful connections; for not only did they go mad after women, and defile the marriage bed of others, but also those who were men lusted after one another, doing unseemly things, and not regarding or respecting their common nature, and though eager for children, they were convicted by having only an abortive offspring; but the conviction produced no advantage, since they were overcome by violent desire; (136) and so, by degrees, the men became accustomed to be treated like women, and in this way engendered among themselves the disease of females, and intolerable evil; for they not only, as to effeminacy and delicacy, became like women in their persons, but they made also their souls most ignoble, corrupting in this way the whole race of man, as far as depended on them. At all events, if the Greeks and barbarians were to have agreed together, and to have adopted the commerce of the citizens of this city, their cities one after another would have become desolate, as if they had been emptied by a pestilence.

XXVII. (137) But God, having taken pity on mankind, as being a Saviour and full of love for mankind, increased, as far as possible, the natural desire of men and women for a connexion together, for the sake of producing children, and detesting the unnatural and unlawful commerce of the people of Sodom, he extinguished it, and destroyed those who were inclined to these things, and that not by any ordinary chastisement, but he inflicted on them an astonishing novelty, and unheard of rarity of vengeance; (138) for, on a sudden, he commanded the sky to become overclouded and to pour forth a mighty shower, not of rain but of fire; and as the flame poured down, with a resistless and unceasing violence, the fields were burnt up, and the meadows, and all the dense groves, and the thick marshes, and the impenetrable thickets; the plain too was consumed, and all the crop of wheat, and of everything else that was sown; and all the trees of the mountain district were burnt up, the trunks and the very roots being consumed.
(139) And the folds for the cattle, and the houses of the men, and the walls, and all that was in any building, whether of private or public property, were all burnt. And in one day these populous cities became the tomb of their inhabitants, and the vast edifices of stone and timber became thin dust and ashes. (140) And when the flames had consumed everything that was visible and that existed on the face of the earth, they proceeded to burn even the earth itself, penetrating into its lowest recesses, and destroying all the vivifying powers which existed within it so as to produce a complete and everlasting barrenness, so that it should never again be able to bear fruit, or to put forth any verdure; and to this very day it is scorched up. For the fire of the lightning is what is most difficult to extinguish, and creeps on pervading everything, and smouldering.

Charles Duke Yonge with Philo of Alexandria, The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995), 422–423.

Philo, De Abrahamo 26.133–140

§ 133     φανερώτατα μέντοι καὶ διαπονητότατα μηνύει διὰ τῶν ἑξῆς τὸ δηλούμενον ἡ Σοδομιτῶν χώρα, μοῖρα τῆς Χανανίτιδος γῆς, ἣν ὕστερον ὠνόμασαν Συρίαν Παλαιστίνην, ἀδικημάτων μυρίων ὅσων γεμισθεῖσα καὶ μάλιστα τῶν ἐκ γαστριμαργίας καὶ λαγνείας ὅσα τε μεγέθη καὶ πλήθη τῶν ἄλλων ἡδονῶν ἐπιτειχίσασα ἤδη παρὰ τῷ δικαστῇ τῶν ὅλων κατέγνωστο.
§ 134     αἴτιον δὲ τῆς περὶ τὸ ἀκολασταίνειν ἀμετρίας ἐγένετο τοῖς οἰκήτορσιν ἡ τῶν χορηγιῶν ἐπάλληλος ἀφθονία· βαθύγειος γὰρ καὶ εὔυδρος οὖσα χώρα παντοίων ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος εὐφορίᾳ καρπῶν ἐχρῆτο· “μεγίστη δʼ ἀρχὴ κακῶν” ὡς εἶπέ τις οὐκ ἀπὸ σκοποῦ “τὰ λίαν ἀγαθά.”
§ 135     ὧν ἀδυνατοῦντες φέρειν τὸν κόρον ὥσπερ τὰ θρέμματα σκιρτῶντες ἀπαυχενίζουσι τὸν τῆς φύσεως νόμον, ἄκρατον πολὺν καὶ ὀψοφαγίας καὶ ὀχείας ἐκθέσμους μεταδιώκοντες· οὐ γὰρ μόνον θηλυμανοῦντες ἀλλοτρίους γάμους διέφθειρον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἄνδρες ὄντες ἄρρεσιν ἐπιβαίνοντες, τὴν κοινὴν πρὸς τοὺς πάσχοντας οἱ δρῶντες φύσιν οὐκ αἰδούμενοι, παιδοσποροῦντες ἠλέγχοντο μὲν ἀτελῆ γονὴν σπείροντες, ὁ δʼ ἔλεγχος πρὸς οὐδὲν ἦν ὄφελος, ὑπὸ βιαιοτέρας νικωμένων ἐπιθυμίας
§ 136     εἶτʼ ἐκ τοῦ κατʼ ὀλίγον ἐθίζοντες τὰ γυναικῶν ὑπομένειν τοὺς ἄνδρας γεννηθέντας θήλειαν κατεσκεύασαν αὐτοῖς νόσον, κακὸν δύσμαχον, οὐ μόνον τὰ σώματα μαλακότητι καὶ θρύψει γυναικοῦντες, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς ἀγεννεστέρας ἀπεργαζόμενοι καὶ τό γε ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ἧκον μέρος τὸ σύμπαν ἀνθρώπων γένος διέφθειρον· εἰ γοῦν Ἕλληνες ὁμοῦ καὶ βάρβαροι συμφωνήσαντες ἐζήλωσαν τὰς τοιαύτας ὁμιλίας, ἠρήμωντο ἂν ἑξῆς αἱ πόλεις ὥσπερ λοιμώδει νόσῳ κενωθεῖσαι
§ 137     λαβὼν δὲ ὁ θεὸς οἶκτον ἅτε σωτὴρ καὶ φιλάνθρωπος τὰς μὲν κατὰ φύσιν ἀνδρῶν καὶ γυναικῶν συνόδους γινομένας ἕνεκα παίδων σπορᾶς ηὔξησεν ὡς ἔνι μάλιστα, τὰς δʼ ἐκφύλους καὶ ἐκθέσμους διαμισήσας ἔσβεσε καὶ τοὺς ὀργῶντας ἐπὶ ταύτας προβαλόμενος οὐχὶ τὰς ἐν ἔθει καινουργήσας δʼ ἐκτόπους καὶ παρηλλαγμένας τιμωρίας ἐτιμωρήσατο
§ 138     κελεύει γὰρ ἐξαίφνης τὸν ἀέρα νεφωθέντα πολὺν ὄμβρον οὐχ ὕδατος ἀλλὰ πυρὸς ὕειν· ἀθρόας δὲ νιφούσης ἀδιαστάτῳ καὶ ἀπαύστῳ ῥύμῃ φλογός, ἐκαίοντο μὲν ἀγροὶ καὶ λειμῶνες καὶ λάσια ἄλση καὶ ἕλη δασύτατα καὶ δρυμοὶ βαθεῖς, ἐκαίετο δʼ ἡ πεδιὰς καὶ ὁ τοῦ σίτου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων σπαρτῶν ἅπας καρπός, ἐκαίετο δὲ καὶ τῆς ὀρεινῆς ἡ δενδροφόρος, στελεχῶν ῥίζαις αὐταῖς ἐμπιπραμένων·
§ 139     ἐπαύλεις δὲ καὶ οἰκίαι καὶ τείχη καὶ ὅσα ἐν οἰκοδομαῖς ἰδιωτικὰ καὶ δημόσια πάντα συγκατεπίμπραντο καὶ ἡμέρᾳ μιᾷ αἱ μὲν εὐανδροῦσαι πόλεις τάφος τῶν οἰκητόρων ἐγεγένητο, αἱ δʼ ἐκ λίθων καὶ ξύλων κατασκευαὶ τέφρα καὶ λεπτὴ κόνις.
§ 140     ἐπεὶ δὲ τὰ ἐν φανερῷ καὶ ὑπὲρ γῆς ἅπαντα κατανάλωσεν ἡ φλόξ, ἤδη καὶ τὴν γῆν αὐτὴν ἔκαιε κατωτάτω διαδῦσα καὶ τὴν ἐνυπάρχουσαν ζωτικὴν δύναμιν ἔφθειρεν εἰς ἀγονίαν παντελῆ, ὑπὲρ τοῦ μηδʼ αὖθίς ποτε καρπὸν ἐνεγκεῖν ἢ χλοηφορῆσαι τὸ παράπαν δυνηθῆναι· καὶ μέχρι νῦν καίεται, τὸ γὰρ κεραύνιον πῦρ ἥκιστα σβεννύμενον ἢ νέμεται ἢ ἐντύφεται

Peder Borgen, Kåre Fuglseth, and Roald Skarsten, “The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005).

Philo De specialibus legibus 2.14.49–50

XIV. (49) Wherefore, if truth were to be the judge, no wicked or worthless man can pass a time of festival, no not even for the briefest period, inasmuch as he must be continually pained by the consciousness of his own iniquities, even though, with his soul, and his voice, and his countenance, he may pretend to smile; for how can a man who is full of the most evil counsels, and who lives with folly, have any period of genuine joy? A man who is in every respect unfortunate and miserable, in his tongue, and his belly, and all his other members, (50) since he uses the first for the utterance of things which ought to be secret and buried in silence, and the second he fills full of abundance of strong wine and immoderate quantities of food out of gluttony, and the rest of his members he uses for the indulgence of unlawful desires and illicit connections, not only seeking to violate the marriage bed of others, but lusting unnaturally, and seeking to deface the manly character of the nature of man, and to change it into a womanlike appearance, for the sake of the gratification of his own polluted and accursed passions.

Charles Duke Yonge with Philo of Alexandria, The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995), 573.

Philo De specialibus legibus 2.14.49–50

§ 49     διὸ παρʼ ἀληθείᾳ δικαζούσῃ τῶν φαύλων οὐδεὶς ἀλλʼ οὐδὲ τὸν βραχύτατον χρόνον ἑορτάζει, συνειδήσει τῶν ἀδικημάτων ἀγχόμενος καὶ τῇ ψυχῇ κατηφῶν, εἰ καὶ τῷ προσώπῳ μειδιᾶν καθυποκρίνεται ποῦ γὰρ ἔχει καιρὸν ἀψευδοῦς εὐφροσύνης κακοβουλότατος ὢν καὶ συζῶν ἀφροσύνῃ καὶ περὶ πάντα ἀκαιρευόμενος γλῶτταν, γαστέρα, τὰ γεννητικά;
§ 50     διʼ ἧς μὲν γὰρ ἐκλαλεῖ τὰ ἀπόρρητα καὶ ἡσυχαστέα, τὴν δὲ ἀκράτου πολλοῦ καὶ ἐδεσμάτων ἀμέτρων ἀναπίμπλησιν ὑπὸ λαιμαργίας, τοῖς δὲ καταχρῆται πρὸς ἐκνομωτάτους οἴστρους καὶ μίξεις ἀθέσμους, οὐ μόνον ἀλλοτρίοις γάμοις ἐπιμεμηνώς, ἀλλὰ καὶ παιδεραστῶν καὶ βιαζόμενος τὸν ἄρρενα τῆς φύσεως χαρακτῆρα παρακόπτειν καὶ μεταβάλλειν εἰς γυναικόμορφον ἰδέαν ἕνεκα τοῦ μεμιασμένῳ καὶ ἐπαράτῳ πάθει χαρίσασθαι

Peder Borgen, Kåre Fuglseth, and Roald Skarsten, “The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005).

Josephus, Contra Apion 2.25, 199

25. (199) But then, what are our laws about marriage? That law owns no other mixture of sexes but that which nature hath appointed, of a man with his wife, and that this be used only for the procreation of children. But it abhors the mixture of a male with a male; and if anyone do that, death is his punishment.

Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 806.

Josephus, Contra Apion 2.25, 199

14†     §199 Τίνες δ ̓ οἱ περὶ γάμων νόμοι; μῖξιν μόνην οἶδεν ὁ νόμος
1†     τὴν κατὰ φύσιν τὴν πρὸς γυναῖκα καὶ ταύτην, εἰ μέλλοι τέκνων ἕνεκα
2†     γίνεσθαι. τὴν δὲ πρὸς ἄρρενας ἀρρένων ἐστύγηκεν καὶ θάνατος
3†     τοὐπιτίμιον, εἴ τις ἐπιχειρήσειεν.

Flavius Josephus and Benedikt Niese, “Flavii Iosephi Opera Recognovit Benedictvs Niese ...” (Berolini: apvd Weidmannos, 1888–).

Sibylline Oracles 2:71–73;

Do not steal seeds. Whoever takes for himself is accursed
(to generations of generations, to the scattering of life.
Do not practice homosexuality, do not betray information, do not murder.)

( and ) Parentheses circumscribe words added by the translator. Ancient languages are cryptic; verbs, nouns, and pronouns are often omitted. These are, of course, necessary for idiomatic English and are presented within parentheses.

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 347.

Sibylline Oracles 2:71–73;

71 σπέρματα μὴ κλέπτειν· ἐπαράσιμος ὅστις ἕληται
72 (εἰς γενεὰς γενεῶν <εἰς> σκορπισμὸν βιότοιο.
73 μὴ ἀρσενοκοιτεῖν, μὴ συκοφαντεῖν, μήτε φονεύειν.)

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Sibylline Oracles 3:175–195

175 But then will be the beginningv of another kingdom,
white and many-headed from the western sea.w
It will rule over much land, and will shake many,
and will thereafter cause fear to all kings.
It will destroy much gold and silver
180* from many cities. But there will again be gold
on the wondrous earth, and then silver also and ornament.
They will also oppress mortals. But those men
will have a great fall when they launch on a course of unjust haughtiness.
Immediately compulsion to impiety will come upon these men.
185* Male will have intercourse with male and they will set up boys
in houses of ill-fame and in those days
there will be a great affliction among men and it will throw everything into confusion.
It will cut up everything and fill everything with evils
with disgraceful love of gain, ill-gotten wealth,
190* in many places, but especially in Macedonia.x
It will stir up hatred. Every kind of deceit will be found among them
until the seventh reign, when
a king of Egypt, who will be of the Greeks by race, will rule.y
And then the people of the great God will again be strong
195* who will be guides in life for all mortals.

v Or: “dominion.”
w Rome. The reference is to the Senate. As Lanchester notes, Rome still appears here as a remote and unfamiliar power. The passage fits the impression of Rome in the East after the battle of Magnesia (190 B.C.).
* 2.73; 3.596, 764; 4.34; 5.166, 387, 430; LetAris 152 Philo, Abr 135 SpecLeg 2.50; 3.37
Rom 1:26–27; 1 Cor 6:9f.
* 3.613
* 3.318; 608
x Macedonia was divided after the battle of Pydna in 168 B.C. and was made a Roman province in 147 B.C.
y Most probably either Ptolemy VI Philometor (if Alexander is counted as the first king) or his anticipated successor. See the Introduction to SibOr 3.
* 1.384-385

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 366.

Sibylline Oracles 3:175–195

175 αὐτὰρ ἔπειτʼ ἄλλης βασιληίδος ἔσσεται ἀρχή
176 λευκὴ καὶ πολύκρανος ἀφʼ ἑσπερίοιο θαλάσσης,
177 ἣ πολλῆς γαίης ἄρξει, πολλοὺς δὲ σαλεύσει,
178 καὶ πᾶσιν βασιλεῦσι φόβον μετόπισθε ποιήσει,
179 πολλὸν δʼ αὖ χρυσόν τε καὶ ἄργυρον ἐξαλαπάξει
180 ἐκ πόλεων πολλῶν· πάλι δʼ ἔσσεται ἐν χθονὶ δίῃ
181 χρυσίον, αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα καὶ ἄργυρος ἠδέ τε κόσμος.
182 καὶ θλίψουσι βροτούς. μέγα δʼ ἔσσεται ἀνδράσι κείνοις
183 πτῶμʼ, ὁπόταν ἄρξωνθʼ ὑπερηφανίης ἀδίκοιο.
184 αὐτίκα δʼ ἐν τούτοις ἀσεβείας ἔσσετʼ ἀνάγκη,
185 ἄρσην δʼ ἄρσενι πλησιάσει στήσουσί τε παῖδας
186 αἰσχροῖς ἐν τεγέεσσι καὶ ἔσσεται ἤμασι κείνοις
187 θλῖψις ἐν ἀνθρώποις μεγάλη καὶ πάντα ταράξει,
188 πάντα δὲ συγκόψει καὶ πάντα κακῶν ἀναπλήσει
189 αἰσχροβίῳ φιλοχρημοσύνῃ, κακοκερδέι πλούτῳ,
190 ἐν πολλαῖς χώρῃσι, Μακηδονίῃ δὲ μάλιστα.
191 μῖσος δʼ ἐξεγερεῖ καὶ πᾶς δόλος ἔσσεται αὐτοῖς.
192 [ἄχρι πρὸς ἑβδομάτην βασιληίδα, ἧς βασιλεύσει
193 Αἰγύπτου βασιλεύς, ὃς ἀφʼ Ἑλλήνων γένος ἔσται].
194 καὶ τότʼ ἔθνος μεγάλοιο θεοῦ πάλι καρτερὸν ἔσται,
195 οἳ πάντεσσι βροτοῖσι βίου καθοδηγοὶ ἔσονται. 

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Sibylline Oracles 3:591–600

For on the contrary, at dawn they lift up holy arms
toward heaven, from their beds, always sanctifying their flesht3
with water, and they honor only the Immortal who always rules,
and then their parents. Greatly, surpassing all men,
595* they are mindful of holy wedlock,
and they do not engage in impious intercourse with male children,
as do Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Romans,
spacious Greece and many nations of others,
Persians and Galatians and all Asia, transgressing
600 the holy law of immortal God, which they transgressed.

t3 So Clement, Protrepticus 6.70; MSS read “hands.”
* 3.185, etc.

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 375.

Sibylline Oracles 3:591–600

591 ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἀείρουσι πρὸς οὐρανὸν ὠλένας ἁγνάς
592 ὄρθριοι ἐξ εὐνῆς αἰεὶ χρόα ἁγνίζοντες
593 ὕδατι καὶ τιμῶσι μόνον τὸν ἀεὶ μεδέοντα
594 ἀθάνατον καὶ ἔπειτα γονεῖς· μέγα δʼ ἔξοχα πάντων
595 ἀνθρώπων ὁσίης εὐνῆς μεμνημένοι εἰσίν·
596 κοὐδὲ πρὸς ἀρσενικοὺς παῖδας μίγνυνται ἀνάγνως,
597 ὅσσα τε Φοίνικες Αἰγύπτιοι ἠδὲ Λατῖνοι
598 Ἑλλάς τʼ εὐρύχορος καὶ ἄλλων ἔθνεα πολλά
599 Περσῶν καὶ Γαλατῶν πάσης τʼ Ἀσίης παραβάντες
600 ἀθανάτοιο θεοῦ ἁγνὸν νόμον *ὃν παρέβησαν*

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Sibylline Oracles 3:762–764

But urge on your minds in your breasts
and shun unlawful worship. Worship the Living One.
* Avoid adultery and indiscriminate intercourse with males.

* 3.184–86, etc.

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 379.

Sibylline Oracles 3:762–764

762 ἀλλὰ κατασπεύσαντες ἑὰς φρένας ἐν στήθεσσιν,
763 φεύγετε λατρείας ἀνόμους, τῷ ζῶντι λάτρευε·
764 μοιχείας πεφύλαξο καὶ ἄρσενος ἄκριτον εὐνήν·

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Sibylline Oracles 5:386–433

Admonition to the Romans

* Matricides, desist from boldness and evil daring,
you who formerly impiously catered for pederasty
and set up in houses prostitutes who were pure before,
with insults and punishment and toilsome disgrace.
390* For in you mother had intercourse with child unlawfully,
and daughter was joined with her begetter as bride.
In you also kings defiled their ill-fated mouths.
In you also evil men practiced bestiality.
Be silent, most lamentable evil city, which indulges in revelry.
395 For no longer in you will virgin maidens
tend the divine fire of sacred nourishing wood.v3

Destruction of the Temple

The desired Temple has long ago been extinguished by you,
When I saw the second Temple cast headlong,
soaked in fire by an impious hand,
400 the ever-flourishing, watchful Temple of God
* made by holy people and hoped
by theirw3 soul and body to be always imperishable.
For among them no one carelessly praises a god
of insignificant clay, nor did a clever sculptor make one from rock,
405* nor worship ornament of gold, a deception of souls.
But they honored the great God, begetter of all
who have God-given breath, with holy sacrifices and hecatombs.
But now a certain insignificant and impious king
has gone up, cast it down, and left it in ruins
410 with a great horde and illustrious men.
He himself perished at immortal hands when he left the land,x3
and no such sign has yet been performed among men
that others should think to sack a great city.

The advent of a savior figure

* For a blessed man came from the expanses of heaveny3
415 with a scepter in his hands which God gave him,
and he gained sway over all things well, and gave back the wealth
to all the good, which previous men had taken.
He destroyed every city from its foundations with much fire
and burned nations of mortals who were formerly evildoers.
420* And the city which God desired, this he made
more brilliant than stars and sun and moon,
and he provided ornament and made a holy temple,z3
exceedingly beautiful in its fair shrine,a4 and he fashioned
* a great and immense tower over many stadia
425* touching even the clouds and visible to all,
so that all faithful and all righteous people could see
the glory of eternal God, a form desired.
East and West sang out the glory of God.
For terrible things no longer happen to wretched mortals,
430* no adulteries or illicit love of boys,
no murder, or din of battle, but competition is fair among all.
It is the last time of holy people when God, who thunders on high,
founder of the greatest temple, accomplishes these things.

* 5.363
3.185, etc.
* 7.43–45
v3 Gk. para soi gʾhierēs for para soio tēn tēs (Rzach). The reference is to the burning of the temple of Vesta in A.D. 64.
* 3.13, etc.
w3 Gk. autōn for autou (Rzach). The reference is, of course, to Herod’s Temple.
* 5.268
x3 Reading chersin hupʾ athanatois apobas gēs (Geffcken). The king is Titus, but his death was not in any way miraculous.
* 5.256, etc.
y3 The past tense is used by anticipation. The heavenly origin of the savior figure accords with the consistent expectation of SibOr 5.
* 5.261; Lactantius, DivInst 7.24.6
z3 Gk. hagion tʾoikon; (Rzach: oikon [“house” or “temple”] is added).
a4 Gk. en sēkō kalō for ensarkon kalon (Lanchester). Contrast the new Jerusalem in Rev 21:22 in which there is no temple.
* 5.251-252.
* Ps 19:1
* 3.764

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 402–403.

Sibylline Oracles 5:386–433

386 μητρολέται, παύσασθε θράσους τόλμης τε κακούργου,
387 οἳ τὸ πάλαι παίδων κοίτην ἐπορίζετʼ ἀνάγνως
388 καὶ τέγεσιν πόρνας ἐστήσατε τὰς πάλαι ἁγνάς
389 ὕβρεσι καὶ κολάσει κἀσχημοσύνῃ πολυμόχθῳ.
390 ἐν σοὶ γὰρ μήτηρ τέκνῳ ἐμίγη ἀθεμίστως,
391 καὶ θυγάτηρ γενετῆρι ἑῷ συζεύξατο νύμφη·
392 ἐν σοὶ καὶ βασιλεῖς στόμα δύσμορον ἐξεμίηναν,
393 ἐν σοὶ καὶ κτηνῶν εὗρον κοίτην κακοὶ ἄνδρες.
394 σίγησον, πανόδυρτε κακὴ πόλι, κῶμον ἔχουσα·
395 οὐκέτι γὰρ *παρὰ σοῖο τὴν τῆς* φιλοθρέμμονος ὕλης
396 παρθενικαὶ κοῦραι πῦρ ἔνθεον ὠρήσουσιν.
397 ἔσβεσται παρὰ σεῖο πάλαι πεποθημένος οἶκος,
398 ἡνίκα δεύτερον εἶδον ἐγὼ ῥιπτούμενον οἶκον
399 πρηνηδὸν πυρὶ τεγγόμενον διὰ χειρὸς ἀνάγνου,
400 οἶκον ἀεὶ θάλλοντα, θεοῦ τηρήμονα ναόν,
401 ἐξ ἁγίων γεγαῶτα καὶ ἄφθιτον αἰὲν ἐόντα
402 ἐκ ψυχῆς ἐλπιζόμενον καὶ σώματος *αὐτοῦ*.
403 οὐ γὰρ ἀκηδέστως *αἰνεῖ* θεὸν ἐξ ἀφανοῦς γῆς
404 οὐδὲ πέτρης ποίησε σοφὸς τέκτων παρὰ τούτοις,
405 οὐ χρυσοῦ κόσμον, ἀπάτην ψυχῶν ἐσεβάσθη.
406 ἀλλὰ μέγαν γενετῆρα θεὸν πάντων θεοπνεύστων
407 ἐν θυσίαις ἁγίαις ἐγέραιρον καὶ ἑκατόμβαις.
408 νῦν δέ τις ἐξαναβὰς ἀφανὴς βασιλεὺς καὶ ἄναγνος
409 ταύτην ἔρριψεν καὶ ἀνοικοδόμητον ἀφῆκεν
410 σὺν πλήθει μεγάλῳ καὶ ἀνδράσι κυδαλίμοισιν.
411 αὐτὸς δʼ ὤλετο *χέρσον ἀπʼ ἀθανάτην ἐπιβὰς γῆν*,
412 κοὐκέτι σῆμα τοιοῦτον ἐπʼ ἀνθρώποισι τέτυκτο,
413 ὥστε δοκεῖν ἑτέρους μεγάλην πόλιν ἐξαλαπάξαι.
414 ἦλθε γὰρ οὐρανίων νώτων ἀνὴρ μακαρίτης
415 σκῆπτρον ἔχων ἐν χερσίν, ὅ οἱ θεὸς ἐγγυάλιξεν,
416 καὶ πάντων ἐκράτησε καλῶς πᾶσίν τʼ ἀπέδωκεν
417 τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς τὸν πλοῦτον, ὃν οἱ πρότεροι λάβον ἄνδρες.
418 πᾶσαν δʼ ἐκ βάθρων εἷλεν πόλιν ἐν πυρὶ πολλῷ
419 καὶ δήμους ἔφλεξε βροτῶν τῶν πρόσθε κακούργων
420 καὶ πόλιν, ἣν ἐπόθησε θεός, ταύτην ἐποίησεν
421 φαιδροτέραν ἄστρων τε καὶ ἡλίου ἠδὲ σελήνης
422 καὶ κόσμον κατέθηχʼ ἅγιόν τʼ …… ἐποίησεν
423 ἔνσαρκον καλὸν περικαλλέα ἠδὲ ἔπλασσεν
424 πολλοῖς ἐν σταδίοισι μέγαν καὶ ἀπείρονα πύργον
425 αὐτῶν ἁπτόμενον νεφέων καὶ πᾶσιν ὁρατόν,
426 ὥστε βλέπειν πάντας πιστοὺς πάντας τε δικαίους
427 ἀιδίοιο θεοῦ δόξαν, πεποθημένον εἶδος·
428 ἀντολίαι δύσιές τε θεοῦ κλέος ἐξύμνησαν.
429 οὐκέτι γὰρ πέλεται *δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσιν δεινά*
430 οὐδὲ γαμοκλοπίαι καὶ παίδων Κύπρις ἄθεσμος,
431 οὐ φόνος οὐδὲ κυδοιμός, ἔρις δʼ ἐν πᾶσι δικαίη.
432 ὕστατος ἔσθʼ ἁγίων καιρός, ὅτε ταῦτα περαίνει
433 θεὸς ὑψιβρεμέτης, κτίστης ναοῖο μεγίστου.

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

2 Enoch 10:4

4* And I said, “Woe, woe! How very frightful this place is!” And those men said to me, “This place, Enoch, has been prepared for thosek who do not glorify God, who practice on the earth the sin |which is against nature, which is child corruption in the anus in the manner of Sodom|,l of witchcraft, enchantments,m divinations, trafficking with demons, who boast about their evil deeds—|stealing, lying, insulting, coveting, resentment, fornication, murder|n

* Mt 25:41
Rom 1:32
k The vices for which the wicked are in the place of torture are not simply the opposite of the virtues in ch. 9, nor corresponding sins of omission, except for starving the hungry, stripping the destitute naked, and idolatry. Even so the schemes are compatible, at least when the glosses are removed; but here the black arts are forbidden. The more specific Jewish duties—circumcision, sabbath-keeping, food taboos, sex taboos (as distinct from fornication and deviant practices)—are not listed. There is nothing here that any god-fearer, Jew or Christian, would not affirm.
| This siglum indicates a letter incorrectly omitted by an ancient scribe.
| This siglum indicates a letter incorrectly omitted by an ancient scribe.
l The reference to sodomy is found only in P, which has similar additions in ch. 34. On prokhodŭ = otverstie (“aperture”) see MSD, vol. 2, p. 1604. Slav. zadneprokhodnoe otverstie = “anus.”
m V N agree with J P R as reading obajanije, which means “magic” or more precisely “sorcery.” The reading of A U (obaženija, “calumnies”) is inferior.
| This siglum indicates a letter incorrectly omitted by an ancient scribe.
| This siglum indicates a letter incorrectly omitted by an ancient scribe.
n The list of vices at the end of vs. 4 is found only in P.

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 118.

2 Enoch 10:4

No extant Greek text

Testament of Levi 14:6

6* You teach the Lord’s commands out of greed for gain; married women you profane; you have intercourse with whores and adulteresses. You take gentile women for your wives and your sexual relations will become like Sodom and Gomorrah.

* Micah 3:11

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 793.

Testament of Levi 14:6

6 ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ τὰς ἐντολὰς κυρίου διδάξετε, τὰς ὑπάνδρους βεβηλώσετε, καὶ παρθένους Ἰερουσαλὴμ μιανεῖτε, καὶ πόρναις καὶ μοιχαλίσι συναφθήσεσθε, θυγατέρας ἐθνῶν λήψεσθε εἰς γυναῖκας, καθαρίζοντες αὐτὰς καθαρισμῷ παρανόμῳ, καὶ γενήσεται ἡ μεῖξις ὑμῶν Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα ἐν ἀσεβείᾳ.

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Testament of Levi 17:11

11 In the seventh week there will come priests: idolators, adulterers, money lovers, arrogant, lawless, voluptuaries, pederasts, those who practice bestiality.

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 794.

Testament of Levi 17:11

11 ἐν δὲ τῷ ἑβδόμῳ ἑβδοματικῷ ἥξουσιν οἱ ἱερεῖς εἰδωλολατροῦντες, μάχιμοι, φιλάργυροι, ὑπερήφανοι, ἄνομοι, ἀσελγεῖς, παιδοφθόροι καὶ κτηνοφθόροι.

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Testament of Naphtali 3:2–4

2 Sun, moon, and stars do not alter their order; thus you should not alter the Law of God by the disorder of your actions. 3* The gentiles, because they wandered astray and forsook the Lord, have changed the order, and have devoted themselves to stones and sticks, patterning themselves after wandering spirits. 4* But you, my children, shall not be like that: In the firmament, in the earth, and in the sea, in all the products of his workmanship discern the Lord who made all things, so that you do not become like Sodom, which departed from the order of nature.

* Deut 4:28
Wis Sol 14:21
Jude 12–13
* Gen 19:1
Jude 7

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 812.

Testament of Naphtali 3:2–4

2 Ἥλιος καὶ σελήνη καὶ ἀστέρες οὐκ ἀλλοιοῦσι τάξιν αὐτῶν· οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς μὴ ἀλλοιώσετε νόμον Θεοῦ ἐν ἀταξίᾳ πράξεων ὑμῶν.
3 Ἔθνη πλανηθέντα καὶ ἀφέντα τὸν Κύριον ἠλλοίωσαν τάξιν αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐπηκολούθησαν λίθοις καὶ ξύλοις, ἐξακολουθήσαντες πνεύμασι πλάνης.
4 Ὑμεῖς δὲ μὴ οὕτως, τέκνα μου, γνόντες ἐν στερεώματι, ἐν γῇ, καὶ ἐν θαλάσσῃ, καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς δημιουργήμασι, Κύριον τὸν ποιήσαντα ταῦτα πάντα, ἵνα μὴ γένησθε ὡς Σόδομα, ἥτις ἐνήλλαξε τάξιν φύσεως αὐτῆς.

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

Testament of Naphtali 4:1

4 1 “I say these things, my children, because I have read in the writing of holy Enoch that you also will stray from the Lord, living in accord with every wickedness of the gentiles and committing every lawlessness of Sodom.

James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 812.

Testament of Naphtali 4:1

1 Ταῦτα λέγω, τέκνα μου, ὅτι ἀνέγνων ἐν γραφῇ ἁγίᾳ Ἐνώχ, ὅτι καίγε καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀποστήσεσθε ἀπὸ Κυρίου, πορευόμενοι κατὰ πᾶσαν πονηρίαν ἐθνῶν, καὶ ποιήσετε κατὰ πᾶσαν ἀνομίαν Σοδόμων.

Ken Penner and Michael S. Heiser, “Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology” (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2008).

103 See Lev 18:22, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable”; Lev 20:13, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

104 See Let Aris 152; Philo, De Abrahamo 26.135–36; De specialibus legibus 2.14.50; Josephus, Contra Apion 2.25, 199; Sib Or 2:73; 3:185–87, 594–600, 763; 5:386–433; 2 En 10:4; T Levi 14:6; 17:11; T Naph 4:1.

105 See, e.g., Sifra Lev. 18:3; b. Sabb. 65a; b. Yebam. 76a.

OT Old Testament

Let Aris Letter of Aristeas

Sib Or Sibylline Oracles

2 En 2 Enoch

T Levi Testament of Levi

T Naph Testament of Naphtali

[1] Richard N. Longenecker, The Epistle to the Romans: A Commentary on the Greek Text, ed. I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 217–218.