A Pauper In Heaven! – II

I Corinthians 3:10-15

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

What do I mean by the title of this Gem? The answer is found in I Corinthians 3:11 through 15: Saint Paul is writing to the Corinthian church concerning divisions among the members. The apostle tells them in I Corinthians 3:4 (International Standard Version), “…one person says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another person says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ …as if Paul or Apollos saved them! There is only One who saved them, Jesus Christ! He is…the foundation…of the believer’s life! It is on this foundation, through his or her Christian life, that saved one then builds! Here is what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:11 through 15, our featured Scripture:

    For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, 
    which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation 
    with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's 
    work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it 
    will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, 
    of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it 
    endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, 
    he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as 
    through fire.

Here are some things we need to emphasize:

  • The concept of “…no other foundation…” is expanded in Matthew 7:24 through 27 in Jesus’ Parable of Two Builders, found at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
    The first builder is “...a wise man who built his 
        house on a rock ...” [bedrock].  Since the founda-
        tion was on such a solid under pinning, nothing can 
        shake it, neither wind, nor rain, nor even floods!

    The second builder is “...a foolish man who built 
        his house upon the sand....” With no solid base, 
        when wind, rain, and floods came, the house fell, 
        completely destroyed!

    ✞   The house built is the life lived! The foundations 
        are either embracing Jesus as Savior and Lord, or 
        not! The house that stood is receiving rewards for 
        a life lived in obedience to Jesus! The house that 
        fell is a life lived for self!

I see a difference between Matthew 7:24 through 27 and I Corinthians 15:10 through 15. In Matthew the ruined house represents the total ruin of a person confined to eternal hell! In I Corinthians 3 such a house represents a worldly Christian who loses heavenly rewards but still gets into heaven!

  • To what judgment is I Corinthians 3 referring? For there are other judgments mentioned in the Bible. This judgment is the Believer’s Judgment, also called the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the Bema Seat Judgment!
    The Bema was a raised platform where a judge sat to 
        hear and decide legal cases. The Bema was also the 
        place where one sat to judge who the winners were 
        in athletic contests. 

    This is not a judgment to determine who gets into 
        heaven and who does not. For all who are judged here 
        go into heaven!

    ✞   This judgment is where the Lord judges the Christian’s 
        works – what we did for the glory of Jesus Christ, or 
        what we did just for ourselves!
  • What are the dimensions of the foundation of Jesus Christ laid in the believers life? That foundation, laid when He is invited into a person’s life, is big enough and strong enough to build upon it a mighty castle! To construct such a structure, one must…
    ...use the three materials stated in the first part 
        of I Corinthians 3:12, “...gold, silver, precious 
        stones..., works that glorify the Lord!

    ...shun the other three materials stated in verse 
        12, “...wood, hay, straw...,works that are done 
        to please oneself!
  • It is a shame for the Christian to build a pauper’s hut or even a respectable looking dwelling using “…wood, hay, [and] straw….” But it is also a shame for one to build just a humble cottage using …gold, silver, [and] precious stones…! Remember, the foundation of Jesus Christ in a person’s life can sustain a mighty castle, as big as the greatest saint in history would build!
  • Besides the worth of the two triads of building materials, what else is significant in our featured Scripture? It is their non-flammable or flammable nature!…each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day [of judgment] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” (I Corinthians 3:12).
    Obviously “...wood, hay, [and] straw...will easily 
        catch fire and burn up! But “...gold, silver, [and] 
        precious stones...will pass through the fire un-

       What is meant by the reference to fire? In the vision 
        that the Apostle John had of the glorified Christ in 
        Revelation 1:13 through 15, he describes the Lord in 
        verse 14, “...His head and His hair were white like 
        wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of 
        fire.... With eyes like a flame of fire, all Jesus 
        will have to do at this believer’s judgment is look 
        upon our works, how we lived our lives as Christians 
        – and our works will either abide His gaze, or be 
        burned up!
  • What kind of rewards will the Lord give to those who build with “…gold, silver, [and] precious stones…”?
    There are five crowns given in heaven as rewards: 

        ➔   The Imperishable crown (see I Corinthians 
             9:25 through 27). This reward is for those 
             who have mastered putting the carnal nature 
             to death and letting the spiritual nature 
             dominate. (see Romans 6:19-22).

        ➔   The Crown of rejoicing (see Philippians 2:1; 
             I Thessalonians 2:19). This crown is given 
             to those who share the gospel and win others 
             to Christ.The Crown of life given for a life lived 
             building on the foundation of Christ with...gold, silver, [and] precious stones...” 
             (James 1:12). It is reserved for those who 
             have victoriously overcome temptations. The Crown of righteousness (see II Timothy 
             4:8). This crown is given to all who long-
             ingly wait for the Lord’s coming, in the 
             Rapture and in His glorious appearing. (see 
             Titus 2:13).

        ➔   The Crown of glory (see I Peter 5:2-4). This 
             will be given to faithful preachers/teachers 
             who proclaim God’s Word.

    ✞   The Parable of the Ten Talents (or Minas in the New 
        KJV) is found in Luke 19:12 through 27. A Talent or 
        Mina was a large amount of money in Jesus’ day. “A 
        certain nobleman went into a far country....So he 
        called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten 
        minas [one mina each], and said...‘Do business till 
        I come [back].” (verses 12, 13). 

        ➔   According to verses 16 and 17, the first 
             servant invested the master’s money and 
             earned ten more minas! So the master said 
             to him, “Well done, good servant; because 
             you were faithful in a very little, have 
             authority over ten cities.”

        ➔   In verses 18 and 19, the second servant in-
             vested and turned the one mina into five! 
             The master told him, “You also be over five 

According to Genesis 1:28 God commanded man whom He had just created, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion…over every living thing that moves on the earth.Adam was to rule over the earth as a beneficial manager of God’s creation! But Adam bowed before Satan, and gave his dominion to this one who is now calledThe god who rules this world…” (II Corinthians 4:4 – Contemporary English Version). But in I Corinthians 15:45 and 47, Jesus is referred to as…the last Adam…” and “…the second Man…the Lord from heaven.” He is called that because Adam lost it all, but Jesus restored it all back – salvation, eternal life, dominion, holiness, fellowship with God and other believers, a witness to those who are lost!

All this to say concerning the above parable and Jesus’ restoration of what Adam lost, when we reign with Christ in His kingdom (see Revelation 20:4, 6), we will be assigned to oversee and administrate population centers according to how we handled our responsibilities as Christians here and now!

    Another ‘reward’ that we all will share in heaven is 
        found in I Thessalonians 4:14 through 17: concerning...those [loved ones] who sleep in Jesus.Those who 
        have died believing in Jesus will be resurrected with 
        new bodies! And ...we who are alive and remain shall 
        be caught up [also with new bodies] together with them 
        in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we 
        shall always be with the Lord [and each other]....But the greatest reward for all true believers is 
        found in I John 3:2: “...when He shall appear [His 
        second coming] we shall be like Him, for we shall 
        see Him as He is.” (see also I Corinthians 15:49-54; 
        Philippians 3:21). 
  • But it is the first two groups of rewards described above that will be lost to those who are Christians, but they built on the foundation of Jesus with “…wood, hay, [and] straw….They lived for their own pleasures, while ignoring what the Lord Jesus wanted for them! That person will get into heaven, but his…work is burned [up, and] he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.He will enter heaven with the smell of smoke upon him, and nothing to lay at the feet of Jesus to glorify the Lord! (see Revelation 4:9-11). And …he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven…! (Matthew 5:19).

And so…

…as you make your choices here and now,
Will it be for your pleasure or for God’s glory?
Don’t spend eternity as a Pauper in Heaven!

A Pauper In Heaven! – I

I Corinthians 3:10-15

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Samson, portrayed above in his final act as the deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, might be a good example of A Pauper In Heaven! Let’s look at some of the highlights (and lowlights) of Samson’s life.

His birth was announced by a heavenly messenger, the angel of the LORD! (see Judges 13:2-5).

  • When, in the Old Testament, the heavenly messenger is designated the angel of the LORD, it is generally agreed among conservative Bible scholars that this is the pre-incarnate Christ!
  • An unnamed barren woman, the wife of Manoah, would become pregnant and give birth to a son whom she named Samson (see Judges 13:24).
  • In His initial visit, the angel of the LORD told Manoah’s wife that “…the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb…” (Judges 13:5). Numbers 6:1 through 8 describes what a Nazirite will be:
     ✡   Numbers 6:2 – “...to take the vow of a Nazirite...[is] 
          to separate himself to the LORD....”

     ✡   Numbers 6:4 – “All the days of his separation he shall 
          eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from 
          seed to skin.”

     ✡   Numbers 6:5 – “All the days of the vow of his separation 
          no razor shall come upon his head...he shall be holy.”

     ✡   Numbers 6:6 and 7 – “All the days that he separates him-
          self to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body...even 
          for his father or his mother...brother or...sister....”

     ✡   Numbers 6:8 – “All the days of his separation he shall 
          be holy to the LORD.
  • Also in that first visit, the angel of the LORD told the woman, “…he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5).

The Philistines were Israel’s nemeses for centuries!

  • The first recorded war with the Philistines was in the time of Joshua, around 1380 BC, when Israel was conquering the Promised Land (see Judges 1:18, 19; 3:1-3).
  • In II Chronicles 26:6 and 7 it is recorded that King Uzziah of Judah (ruled 792 to 740 BC) led a successful conflict against the Philistines.

In Judges 13:1 we are told, “Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” This particular domination began approximately twenty years before Samson began his twenty-year judgeship against the Philistines (see Judges 16:31).

Samson was gifted with his Nazirite calling from birth, as well as his super-human strength! But what was his life like after he became an adult?

  • Judges 14:1 and 2 – “Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman…of the daughters of the Philistines. So he…told his father and mother…‘…get her for me as a wife.’
     ✡   His parents could not understand his choice of a Phil-
          istine woman for his wife. “Is there no woman among 
          the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, 
          that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised 
          Philistines?” (Judges 14:3).

     ✡   “But his father and mother did not know that it was of 
          the LORD — that He was seeking an occasion to move 
          against the Philistines. For at that time the Philis-
          tines had dominion over Israel.” (Judges 14:4). Yes, 
          God was using this situation! But still, Samson was 
          acting out of his soulish nature, not remembering his 
          Nazirite dedication to God! It would lead to further 

     What might we learn from Samson’s hasty decision?

         ➔   II Corinthians 6:14 – “Do not be unequally 
              yoked together with unbelievers.” 

         ➔    I Corinthians 7:39 (changed from feminine 
               to masculine) – He “...is at liberty to be 
               married to whom...[he] wishes, only in the
  • Judges 14:5 and 6:
     So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, 
     and...[at] the vineyards of Timnah...a young lion came 
     roaring against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came 
     mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart...though he 
     had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father 
  • Judges 14:7 through 9 – Being pleased with this Philistine young woman, Samson later returned to Timnah to marry her.
     ✡   On the way, “...he turned aside to see the carcass 
          of the lion. And...a swarm of bees and honey were 
          in the carcass....” 

     ✡   He took some honey and ate it; even giving some to 
          his parents. Being a Nazirite,...he shall not go 
          near a dead body...! Samson was ignoring the Nazar-
          ite injunctions!

The marriage didn’t work out. His new wife betrayed him (see Judges 14:11-18). Samson resorted to murdering thirty Philistines to fulfill an obligation (see Judges 14:19). Then, after losing his wife to his best man, he set fire to a large portion of the Philistine’s crops in a very unusual way! (see Judges 15:4, 5). In retaliation, the Philistines burned alive his wife and her father, upon which Samson ended up killing a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey! (see Judges 15:1-16).

Judges 16:1 through 3 – Samson’s fleshly desires found him in the arms of an unnamed prostitute of the Philistine city of Gaza. The soldiers, having found out about his tryst, surrounded the house to arrest him in the morning. But Samson snuck out at midnight, tore the massive city gates, closed and barred for the night, out of their foundations, and carried them miles away to the top of a mountain! He was just showing off, I guess.

Next, he entered his final downfall – his affair with the Philistine Delilah!

Judges 16:5 – “…the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said…‘Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and…[how] we may overpower him…and [we]…will give you [each] eleven hundred pieces of silver.

  • Three times she pestered him with tears, Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.” (Judges 16:6, 10, 13).
  • Three times Samson led her on:
     ✡   Judges 16:7 – “If they bind me with seven fresh bow-
          strings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, 
          and be like any other man.”

     ✡   Judges 16:11 – “If they bind me securely with new 
          ropes that have never been used, then I shall be-
          come weak, and be like any other man.”

     ✡   Judges 16:13 – “If you weave the seven locks of my 
          head into the web of the loom....
  • Three times when he was asleep, Delilah did what Samson’s lies suggested! Then she shouted, The Philistines are on you, Samson!” (Judges 16:9, 12, 14). And Samson jumped up and shook off any attempt of Delilah to make him weak.

Delilah then hounded him day after day: “How can you say, ‘I love you’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.” (Judges 16:15).

Finally Samson gave in!No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:17).

  • So Delilah made him fall asleep, called a barber, then shouted, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” (Judges 16:20).
  • And the Philistines finally got him! They subdued their enemy, blinded him, “and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a [grain] grinder in the prison.” (Judges 16:21).

But his …hair…began to grow again…!

…the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice…’Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy…’ ” (Judges 16:23). To add sport to the celebration, they decided to bring in Samson from the prison, and make him dance and play and make them laugh! (Judges 16:25 – author’s interpretation).

  • And they stationed him between the [two supporting] pillars.” (Judges 16:25).
  • And Samson prayed, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me…just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (Judges 16:28).
  • And he …took hold of the two [supporting] pillars…and…said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell…” (Judges 16:30).
The Philistine elite were at this celebration! For 
          we are told in Judges 16:27, “...all the lords of 
          the Philistines were there. Samson’s vengeful act 
          left the Philistines without leadership!With that one act, Samson ...killed...[more than] 
          three thousand...at his death...more than he had 
          killed in his life.” (Judges 16:27, 30).

So what has Samson’s life and death have to do with Paupers in Heaven? It says in part of our featured Scripture, I Corinthians 3:12 through 15:

     If anyone builds on this foundation [of Jesus Christ] with 
     gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s 
     work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, be-
     cause it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test 
     each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which 
     he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If 
     anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he him-
     self will be saved, yet so as through fire.

This is called the judgment seat of Christ! It is not to determine who gets into heaven and who does not. For all who are judged here go into heaven!

  • It is a judgment of our works – what we did for the glory of Jesus Christ, or what we did just for ourselves! We will further examine this in our next Gem.
  • Yes, apparently Samson had believed the promises of a future Messiah who would redeem and rule Israel as their godly leader.(see Genesis 3:15; 12:2, 3; Numbers 24:15-19; Deuteronomy 18:15-18). So we should see him in heaven!
  • But think of how he lived his life! Most of his recorded life was lived for his own will and pleasure! That means most of his work is burned up, with no rewards! He would then get into heaven yet so as through fire! If that is so, Samson would be a Pauper in heaven!

May you, Christian,
Never be a Pauper in Heaven!

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – VI

Acts 10:19-22

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is a representation of Cornelius the Roman Centurion seeking the God of the Jews. Cornelius and Rahab the harlot are the only two just people of the ten in the Bible that are not directly related to the Israelites!

  • Rahab the Harlot of the Old Testament was incorporated into Israel when she married Boaz (see Ruth 4:10; Matthew 1:5). She became the great-grandmother of King David! (see Ruth 4:21, 22). You might say Rahab was a naturalized citizen of Israel!
  • Cornelius the Roman Centurion remained totally outside of the Jewish nation, but he embraced Israel’s God!

What was the office of a Roman Centurion?

  • From www.britannica.com/topic/centurion-Roman-military-officer:
       The centurion was the commander of a centuria, which 
       was the smallest unit of a Roman legion. A legion was 
       nominally composed of 6,000 soldiers, and each legion 
       was divided up into 10 cohorts, with each cohort con-
       taining 6 centuria. The centurion thus nominally com-
       manded about 100 men, and there were 60 centurions in 
       a legion. 
  • He was promoted from the ranks of common soldiers, was the backbone of the 6,000 man legion, and was responsible for discipline within their centuria (the 100 men under their command).
  • Centurions received a much higher pay than common soldiers, and also had a larger portion of the spoils of war.

Because of his faith, Cornelius was a just man in the eyes of God! Here is the featured Scripture, Acts 10:19 through 22:

   While Peter thought about the vision (see Acts 10:9-16), the 
   Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise 
   therefore, go down and go with them, nothing doubting; for I 
   have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men who had been 
   sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you 
   seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Corne-
   lius the Centurian, a just man, one who fears God and has a 
   good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely 
   instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to 
   hear words from you.”

The next day, Peter went with them, and after a two-day 40 mile journey, they arrived at Cornelius’ house in Caesarea.

  • Acts 10:25 – When Peter entered the house, “Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
  • Acts 10:26 – “But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up, I also am a man.’
          I like the gentleness of Peter with Cornelius. 
           To change his mind concerning Gentiles, the 
           apostle had to have a vision from God of a 
           sheet containing all sorts of unclean animals, 
           birds, and reptiles that the Jews were not al-
           lowed to eat (see Leviticus chapter 11). But 
           the Lord told him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." 
           The purpose of that vision was to teach Peter 
           that the Gentiles are not unclean! 

        Peter “...lifted him up, saying...‘Stand up; I 
           myself am also a man...’His words to Cornelius 
           do not reflect severity, but gentleness! Even 
           though what Cornelius was attempting was blatant 
           idolatry, Peter was gentle in his rebuke!
  • Acts 10:27 – Peter …went in and found many who had come together.” Apparently, Cornelius had invited his extended family and many friends to come hear what Peter had to say!
  • Acts 10:28 – Peter did not quite understand his mission to Cornelius, his family, and friends. His first words were, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation.A Popular Commentary on the New Testament says this about Peter’s statement: “The word (ἀθέμιτος) denotes rather what is opposed to venerable custom than what is contrary to positive law.
There was no God-given law preventing a Jew 
            to keep company with a Gentile or to go into 
            his house!But Pharisaical tradition forbade it!

I went to a Bible college for two years that forbade dancing, drinking, smoking, etc. Also, the skirts on female students had to touch the floor as they kneeled; no facial hair was allowed on the male students; no wearing blue jeansfor either sex; and so on! It reminds me of an old ditty, poking fun at conservative Christians:

You can’t drink, smoke, cuss, or chew;
spit on the sidewalk, or go with girls that do!

The leadership finally kicked me out of that school because I joined a church that was not their kind!

Be careful to follow what it says in God’s Word; not what people have made up!

  • Acts 10:28 – But Peter had learned!…God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
  • Acts 10:29 – Then Peter asked, “…for what reason have you sent for me?

In the next four verses, Acts 10:30 through 33, Cornelius explained his vision of an angel as he was praying. The angel had proceeded to give the Centurian instructions (Acts 10:31-33):

   “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are re-
   membered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call 
   Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house 
   of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes he will speak to 
   you.” So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to 
   come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all 
   the things commanded you by God.
  • Acts 10:34 through 39 (just the sermon highlights to save space):
       Verses 34 and 35 – Peter understands that the 
           gospel is for the Gentiles also!

       Verses 36 and 37 – He begins the presentation 
           of the gospel: “...God...preaching peace through 
           Jesus Christ — He is Lord of all....Verses 38 and 39 – Peter emphasizes Christ’s min-
           istry, “...how God anointed Jesus...with the Holy 
           Spirit and with power, who went about doing good 
           and healing all who were oppressed by the devil....
  • Acts 10:39 through 43 – “And we [disciples] are witnesses…” …not just of Jesus’ earthly ministry…
       Verse 39 – ...but when...they killed [Him] by 
           hanging [Him] on a tree [the cross]...   Verse 40 and 41 – But...God raised [Him] up on 
           the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all 
           people, but...to us who ate and drank with Him 
           after He arose from the dead.Verse 42 – “And He commanded us to preach to the 
           people, and to testify that it is He who was or-
           dained by God to be Judge of the living and the 
           dead.Verse 43 – “To Him all the prophets witness that
           ...whoever believes in Him will receive remission 
           of sins.

What happened next?

  • Acts 10:44 through 47 – A momentous event occurred!
          Verse 44 – In the midst of Peter’s sermon, “...
           the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the 
           word....Verses 45 – “...those of the circumcision...as 
           many as came with Peter...were astonished...be-
           cause the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured 
           out on the Gentiles also.” According to Acts 11:12, 
           “...six brethren accompanied [Peter]....” These 
           six Jews are the ones who were astonished when the 
           Spirit was given to the Gentiles! They thought the 
           gift of the Holy Spirit was for the Jews only!

       Verse 46 – How did they know the Holy Spirit was 
           given to the Gentiles? “...they heard them speak 
           with tongues and magnify God.Verses 46 through 48 – “Then Peter answered, ‘Can 
           anyone forbid water, that these should not be bap-
           tized who have received the Holy Spirit just as 
           we have?’
  • Acts 10:48 – “And [Peter]…commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.

And so membership in the Church was opened also to the Gentiles! Thank God, because I, being a Gentile, have also been saved, baptized, and included in God’s Church!

And thank God for the just man Cornelius! He was a Gentile, yet pious toward the one true God of Israel. And with this just Roman Centurion counted as the first, the door was open for millions of Gentiles to come in!

Cornelius paved the way…
Have you come in through the door?
(See John 10:9)

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – V

John 19:38-42

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is a representation of Joseph of Arimathea claiming the body of Jesus. Here is the featured Scripture, John 19:38 through 42:

    After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but 
    secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take 
    away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he 
    came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first 
    came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh 
    and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of 
    Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the 
    custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was 
    crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in 
    which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, be-
    cause of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

We learn more about Joseph of Arimathea from Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

  • Matthew 27:57 through 60:
       Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from 
       Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a
       disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked 
       for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body 
       to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he 
       wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his 
       new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he 
       rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and 
  • Mark 15:43 through 46:
       Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who 
       was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming 
       and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for 
       the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already 
       dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He 
       had been dead for some time. So when he found out from 
       the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he 
       bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in 
       the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been 
       hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the 
       door of the tomb.
  • It is in Luke 23:50 through 53 that we learn that “…Joseph…[was] a good and just man.
       Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council 
       member, a good and just man. He had not consented to 
       their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city 
       of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the king-
       dom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the 
       body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in 
       linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the 
       rock, where no one had ever lain before.

Remember: The definition of just is, “…just, lawful, righteous…equitable (in character or act); innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively).” Joseph believed the Old Testament Scriptures…

  • …concerning the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God! Perhaps, as with most of the believing Jews, he didn’t understand the two advents:
       ✞   The first advent – where Jesus came...

           ➔   “...to seek and to save that which was 
                lost.” (Luke 19:10).

           ➔   “...to give His life a ransom for many.” 
                (Matthew 20:28).

       ✞   The second advent – He will come...

           ➔   ...as “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” 
                (Revelation 19:16).

           ➔   “...to execute judgment on all...” 
                (Jude 1:15).
  • But Joseph …was…waiting for the kingdom of God [to be manifested upon earth]….” (Luke 23:51). In his anticipation for the coming Kingdom, when Jesus came on the scene, proving His claims to be God’s Son by His teaching and many miracles, Joseph “…had also become a disciple of Jesus…but secretly, for fear of the Jews….” (Matthew 27:57; John 19:38).

Why did Joseph of Arimathea keep his discipleship, his following Jesus, a secret? Because…

  • He was…a prominent council member…” (Mark 15:43). This means Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, the seventy member ruling body of the Jews.
       ✞   It is certain he was a Pharisee, because he 
           believed the Old Testament promises which 
           Jesus taught, such as the resurrection of 
           the dead. According to Acts 23:8, “...the 
           Sadducees say there is no resurrection — and 
           no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees confess 
           both. The Sadducees did not believe in an 
           afterlife. When one died, that was the end!

       As “...a prominent council member...” Joseph 
           was held in high esteem and was quite well off 
           socially and financially.
  • But we are told in John 9:22 that “…the Jews [the Sanhedrin, in this case] had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ [the promised Messiah], he would be put out of the synagogue.
       ✞   This was excommunication! A person put out of 
           the synagogue would be an outcast, for the 
           synagogue was the social and religious center 
           of Jewish life.

       ✞   Joseph, if excommunicated, would lose his 
           social standing, and his income! For one ex-
           communicated would... 

           ➔   ...be restricted to no communication 
                with others, nor they with him!

           ➔   ...have to stay approximately twelve 
                feet away from other people!...not be able to buy from anyone nor 
                sell to anyone!

       If one did not repent of the error of his ways, 
           the excommunication (usually thirty days) would 
           be extended to sixty or ninety days! If that did 
           not produce repentance, the ban would be extended 

But when Joseph saw the extreme mistreatment of Jesus, even unto torture and death on the cross, he became bold in his faith, and went to the Roman governor Pilate to claim the body of Jesus!

  • Having been given that authorization, he was joined by Nicodemus (see John 3:1-21; 7:50-52) who was also a member of the Sanhedrin. Together they hastily prepared the body of Jesus, wrapping Him in a long linen burial cloth, followed by “…strips of linen with……a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds…as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:39, 40).

Note: I have added “a long linen burial cloth” (see Matthew 27:59) to the above description because I believe the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. I have read much concerning the authenticity of the Shroud and, despite the recent scientific dating of the material to a thousand years after Jesus’ burial, I do not think the tremendous energy of the resurrection has been taken into consideration! Such energy affecting the Shroud could throw off the scientific dating!

  • Joseph had prepared for his own life-departure by having his tomb cut out of a rock wall of limestone.
  • Although the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is thought by many to be the burial place of Jesus, the Garden Tomb has many features pointing to that as the Christ tomb!

Wherever it is where Jesus was buried, the main point is that it is an empty tomb! Joseph of Arimathea, a just man, a Pharisee believing in the resurrection, was blessed to be a part of Jesus’ resurrection by lending the Lord his own tomb!

What do you have that you can give for the Savior’s use?

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – IV

I Peter 3:18

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The seventh just man is Jesus! For we are told in I Peter 3:18, “…Christ…suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.The just for the unjust ! Oh yes, Jesus Christ was just! To understand the definition of just, here again is the word study from the first Gem of this series:

  • The Hebrew word for just is צַדִּיק (English spelling, tsaddiyql; and pronounced tsad-deek’) meaning, “…just, lawful, righteous (man).” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary).
  • The Greek word for just is δίκαιος (English spelling, dikaios; and pronounced di-kah’-yos) meaning, “equitable (in character or act); innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively)…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).

Jesus certainly fits the definition of just: …just, lawful, righteous…equitable (in character or act); innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively).” (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries). In His humanity Jesus was totally holy, as it says in the Scriptures:

  • Luke 4:34 – Even the demons recognized Jesus’ holiness! When the Lord encountered the Gadarene demoniac, the demons that inhabited him cried out, “Let us alone! What have we to do with you? I know You, who You are — the Holy One of God!”
  • II Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Hebrews 4:15 – “…we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, but without sin.
  • Hebrews 7:26 – “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens….
  • I Peter 1:18 and 19 – “…you were…redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
  • I Peter 2:21 and 22 – “…Christ…committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth…

Jesus is the highest example of a holy human being! Yes, He was God incarnate, but He came in human flesh! And in that incarnation, Jesus lived as a human being. But He was a human being totally under God’s control by the power of the Holy Spirit! And we, as His followers, are to be growing into that same holy image that He presented to us…as the following Scriptures show:

  • Matthew 10:24 and 25 – Jesus said to His disciples, A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.
  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He [God, the Father] foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
  • II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
  • Ephesians 4:15 – “…speaking the truth in love…[we must] grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ….
  • Ephesians 4:24 (English Standard Version) – “…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • II Peter 1:3 and 4:
        ...His divine power has given to us all things that per-
        tain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him 
        who called us to glory and virtue, by which we have been 
        given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that 
        through these you may be partakers of the divine nature....

In 451 AD, the Council of Chalcedon was called to deal with the problem of some influential teachers who taught that Jesus only had a divine nature, or some mixture of divine and human natures (which debased both natures)…

    The Council produced the “Chalcedonian Definition,” which affirms 
    that Christ is “the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in 
    manhood; truly God and truly   man.” He is “consubstantial [homo-
    ousios] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstan-
    tial with us according to the Manhood.” Jesus Christ is “to be 
    acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivis-
    ibly, inseparably”... The divine and human natures of Christ are 
    distinct yet united in one Person. This co-existence of Christ’s 
    two natures is called the hypostatic union.(www.gotquestions.
    org/council- of-Chalcedon.html).

…truly God and truly man.
If Jesus lived a just and holy life by God’s power…
And if He commands us to also be just
and holy by that same power…
Should we not be pursuing that goal as followers of Him?

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – III

Luke 2:25-32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The next just man in our study is Simeon, who is introduced in Luke 21:25 through 32:

     ...there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and 
     this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation 
     of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been 
     revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see 
     death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by 
     the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in 
     the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of 
     the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 
     “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, ac-
     cording to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation 
     which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a 
     light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of 
     Your people Israel.”

Apparently, Simeon was quite elderly, at the age or beyond not many men reached. He is described by three attributes:

  • …this man was just and devout….” Another way to put it, he was holy and devoted to Jehovah God, and from his heart keeping the law revealed at Mount Sinai.
  • …this man was…waiting for the Consolation of Israel….” What was the Consolation of Israel? It was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises concerning God’s Messiah (translated into Greek – the Christ). This man was waiting expectantly for the LORD to fulfill His promises! One of the greatest promises is found in Isaiah 9:6 and 7:
       For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; 
       And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His 
       name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, 
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase 
       of His government and peace there will be no end, upon 
       the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it 
       and establish it with judgment and justice from that 
       time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of 
       hosts will perform this. 
  • …this man… came by the Spirit into the temple… just as Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus in for dedication – for “…the Holy Spirit was upon him.

This brings me into a praise and thanksgiving mode because of Christians privileged position now in Christ! As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 6:19 and 20:

     ...do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy 
     Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not 
     your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify 
     God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

The Old Testament saints had the Holy Spirit on them, and He would come and go. We have Him permanently in us…

  • …to seal us as the Lord Jesus’ possession! (see Ephesians 1:13).
  • …to fill us with Himself! (see Ephesians 5:18).
  • …to teach us! (see I John 2:27).
  • …to gift us for God’s service! (see I Corinthians 12:4-11; Galatians 5:22, 23).
  • …to comfort us! (see Acts 9:31).
  • …to guide and protect us! (see Isaiah 30:21).
  • …to intercede for us! (see Romans 8:26).

…and so much more!

Simeon took the infant Jesus in his arms, and said…

     “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, 
     according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salva-
     tion which You have prepared before the face of all peo-
     ples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and 
     the glory of Your people Israel.

This man had more vision than so many of the early Jewish believers! For he knew God was going to include the Gentiles (the non-Jews) in His plan of salvation! For instance, when Peter was called by the Holy Spirit to minister to the Roman centurion Cornealius, the initial reaction of many of the Hebrew believers was to contentiously challenge him, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” (Acts 11:3).

But Simeon was more than just a man who was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. He was also…

  • …an encourager! For in Luke 2:34 it says, “Then Simeon blessed them.” And this man had such a just and devout air about him that Joseph and Mary must have felt blessed!
  • …a prophet! For he turned to Mary and said:
       Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and 
            rising of many in Israel...that the thoughts of 
            many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34). What 
            a prescient statement! 

           ➔   For a person must first fall (fail) con-
                cerning all his or her self-reliance on 
                their own ability to guide their own lives 
                and please God!Only then can one be lifted up, forgiven 
                of sin, and made an eternal child of God!  The ultimate rising or falling will be when 
                people stand before God, either as Christians 
                at the Bema Seat Judgment (see I Corinthians 
                3:11-15), or as unbelievers at the Great White 
                Throne Judgment, (see Mark 4:22).

       Behold, this Child is destined for...a sign which 
           will be spoken against...” (Luke 2:34). Jesus Christ 
           has been spoken against by unbelieving Jews and Gen-
           tiles, and all who are...of the world...”! (I John 
           4:5 – see also John 3:19, 20).

       ...yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul 
           also...Oh, how Mary’s soul was pierced when......she was persuaded by her sons to rescue 
                Jesus from a crazy ministry! (see Mark 3:21).

           ➔   ...as the Jewish leaders increasingly opposed 
                Jesus’ ministry! (see John 11:50).

           ➔   ...she saw the savage cruelty her dear Jesus 
                endured during the last day of His human life! 
                (see Isaiah 52:14). 

Yes, Simeon was a just man! We don’t know much about him, except this brief encounter with him in these eleven Luken verses. But…

…may his just, righteous, and holy life
challenge us to be more like Simeon!

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – II Matthew 1:18-21

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The featured Scripture for this Gem is Matthew 1:18 through 21. It features the next just person in this series, Joseph, when he was visited in a dream by an angel.

     Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His 
     mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came to-
     gether, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then 
     Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to 
     make her a public example, was minded to put her away se-
     cretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, 
     an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 
     “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you 
     Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of 
     the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and shall 
     call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their 

We too often read the Scriptures with a perspective from our twenty-first century western world mind-set. So let’s clear up a couple of problems that this passage might seem to put forth:

  • In verse 18, we are told, “…Mary was betrothed to Joseph….” But the angel said, “Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife….” And in verse 19, it says, “…Joseph her husband!
       ✡   “...betrothed...” – that means they were engaged, 
            right? Yes, but engagement among the Jews in the 
            first century was different from our understanding 
            of it today. It was a much more binding agreement 
            between a man and a woman. They were bound together 
            in a legal agreement that could only be broken by 
            divorce! The official marriage did not take place for six 
            months to a year after the betrothal! 
  • Also in verse 18, it says when Mary…was found with child of the Holy Spirit….Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” Being pregnant, “…found with child…, was considered adultery! There were two legal options open to Joseph:
He could divorce her, putting her away publicly! 
            Mary would then live in shame her whole life....
            if she lived!

       ✡   The other option was, according to Leviticus 20:10, 
            “...the adulterer and the adulteress...shall sure-
            ly be put to death.This law was still in effect 
            in Jesus’ day, as shown In John 8:3 through 5:

               ...the scribes and Pharisees brought to 
               [Jesus]...a woman caught in adultery. And 
               when they had set her in the midst, they 
               said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught 
               in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in 
               the law commanded us that such should be 
               stoned [to death].

But “…Joseph…being a just man…didn’t want to shame Mary or have her stoned to death! So he was just going to have her disappear – maybe back “…into the hill country…to a city of Judah… [to ] the house of Zacharias and [Mary’s cousin] Elizabeth…” (Luke 2:39, 40), where she could have her baby and raise Him out of Nazareth’s public eye!

Then the Angel came to Joseph…

     ...in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid 
     to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in 
     her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and 
     shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from 
     their sins.” (Matthew 1:39, 40).

Joseph was called just because he was right with God and with man! He was familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures, and believed the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. And God chose him to be the human father to His Son, Jesus Christ!

As a just person, what will God have you to do?

Mark 6:20 – John the Baptist

Perhaps this just man should have been featured before Joseph because he was six months older than Jesus, and the events highlighted above were at least nine months after his mother Elizabeth’s conception.

Here is what Herod Antipas said in Mark 6:16 through 20, when he heard about Jesus’ growing ministry:

     ...when Herod heard, he said, “This is John, whom I beheaded; 
     he has been raised from the dead!” For Herod had sent and laid 
     hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, 
     his brother Philip’s wife, for [Herod]...had married her. For 
     John had said, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s 
     wife.” Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill 
     him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he 
     was a just and holy man, and he protected him.

…a just and holy man…! That was John! He was so just and holy that many of the Jews thought he might be the Messiah!

  • But John was the forerunner of the Messiah, as prophesied in…
       ✡   ...Isaiah 40:3 – “The voice of one crying in the 
            wilderness; Prepare the way of the LORD; make 
            straight in the desert a highway for our God.” 
            (see the New Testament fulfilment in Matthew 3:3).

       ✡   ...in Malachi 4:5 and 6 – “Behold, I will send you 
            Elijah the prophet before the coming of the LORD. 
            And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the 
            children, and the hearts of the children to their 
            fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a 
            curse.” (see the New Testament fulfilment in Mat-
            thew 17:11-13).
  • However, Jesus said something puzzling concerning John in Matthew 11:11: “…among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.How is it that the one…who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than…John the Baptist?
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament 
            prophets!But he is featured in the New Testament!” 
            you might exclaim. Yes, he is! But until Pentecost, 
            the Bible narrative is still under the Old Testament 

           ➔   The focus was still on the Jewish people in 
                the holy land.

           ➔   The temple and the age-old system of sacrifices 
                were still standing.

           ➔   The revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, the 
                Savior of the world, had not yet been revealed, 
                except as prophesy to a few individuals! (see 
                Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31-33; 1:76, 77; 2:29-32; 
                John 1:29). 

       ✡   Although John had the privilege of meeting Jesus 
            (see John 1:29, 30) and even baptizing Him (see 
            Matthew 3:13-17), and succinctly proclaiming His 
            ministry (see John 1:29, 34); his own ministry of 
            preparation was suddenly cut off (along with his 
            head) by Herod!

            ➔   John did not witness Jesus’ death, resur-
                 rection, and ascension into heaven!

            ➔   He was not there to receive the permanent 
                 internal dwelling of the Holy Spirit at 

           ➔   He did not have the privilege of proclaiming 
                the gospel of Jesus as Savior and Lord of 
                all mankind! 

           ➔   He did not participate in the introduction 
                and growth of the Church!

       But the lowliest believer in the risen Christ as Sav-
           ior and Lord has all those privileges!

So you see, when Jesus spoke that “…he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than [John]…,” it is not a matter of our position in heaven, but we are greater than John in the blessed privileges given to believers on earth!

John the Baptist did the best he could with what was revealed to him!

Are we…
who have the fulness of the gospel,
and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit,
living up to our potential?
If not, why not?

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – I Genesis 6:5-9

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

What would a just person look like according to the Bible?

  • Word study:
       ✡   The Hebrew word for just is צַדִּיק (English spelling, 
            tsaddiyql; and pronounced tsad-deek’) meaning, 
            “...just, lawful, righteous (man).” (Strong’s 
            Hebrew Dictionary).

       The Greek word for just is δίκαιος (English spell-
           ing, dikaios; and pronounced di-kah’-yos) meaning, 
           “equitable (in character or act); innocent, holy 
           (absolutely or relatively)...” (Strong’s Greek Dic-
  • The just person would be law-abiding (religious and civil law), innocent of confessed sin, and holy in his or her living before God and fellow human beings!
  • Those are tough qualities to fulfill! And it is impossible for a human being to perfectly and consistently manifest these qualities! But, as Jesus said in Mark 10:27, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.

There are ten people in the Bible who are called just, nine men and one woman.

Genesis 6:9 – Noah: As the first mentioned in Scripture as being just, and one of only three in the Old Testament, I have selected Genesis 6:5 through 9 as our featured Scripture:

    ...the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the 
    earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart 
    was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He 
    had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 
    So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created 
    from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping 
    thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I made them. 
    But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This is the 
    genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his gen-
    erations. Noah walked with God.
  • Noah passed his just way of living to his three sons, “…Shem, Ham, and Japeth.” (Genesis 5:32).
  • Apparently…
...Noah’s just way of living led him to a just wife!

    ✡   ...further, through Noah’s influence, his three sons 
         also found three just women whom they married.
  • Eight people were saved from death in that universal flood! For God had said to Noah in Genesis 6:18, “…I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark — you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
  • It is through this family of Noah that God reestablished the inhabitants of the earth! …Shem, Ham, and Japeth…from these the whole earth was populated.” (Genesis 9:18 and 19).

I found references concerning the next two Old Testament people called just in the New Testament book of James! Both are spoken, not of being just, but justified (the verb form of the adjective just).

James 2:21 – Abraham: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

  • First, let’s clear up something that has caused controversy in some Christian circles:
          Paul wrote in Galatians 2:16:

              ...knowing that a man is not justified by the 
              works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, 
              even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we 
              might be justified by faith in Christ and not 
              by the works of the law; for by the works of 
              the law no flesh shall be justified.

Paul is here illustrating works by tying it to the Jews trying to fulfill the Old Testament law, through which the Pharisaical leaders especially tried to achieve righteousness before God by keeping all 613 laws found in the Pentateuch! In Titus 3:5 Paul leaves out any direct reference to the law but emphasizes, “…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us….

         James’s position is put forth in James 2:24, “You 
           see then that a man is justified by works, and not 
           by faith only.

Are Paul and James proffering two different gospels – the one: salvation by grace; the other: salvation by works? No! Paul is speaking from God’s viewpoint, looking on the internal heart of the matter, which only He can see! James is emphasizing what evidently others will see in a truly saved person’s life!

  • The most dramatic outward act of obedience in Abraham’s life was when he offered his son Isaac as a burnt offering to God! (see Genesis 22:1-19).
       ✡   The account, in Genesis 22:2, hints at the reason 
            why God told Abraham, “Take now your son, your on-
            ly son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of 
            Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering...” 
            Apparently, “...Isaac, whom...[Abraham] loved.... 
            was loved so much by his father that he was taking 
            the place of the LORD God as Abraham’s first love! 
            As it is written in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love 
            the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your 
            soul, and with all your might.”

       ✡   So when the father was willing to offer his son 
            “...as a burnt offering...,it showed that Abraham 
            was indeed God’s righteous man, willing to put God, 
            not Isaac, first in his life! And so, as Paul wrote 
            in Romans 4:22, “...it was accounted to him for 

James 2:25 – Rahab, the harlot:Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and then sent them out another way?” (see Joshua 2:1-24).

  • It is amazing that Rahab the harlot is here identified as justified before God!
It is not amazing when one considers her faith in 
            siding with the invading Israelites who would con-
            quer the idolatrous people of Canaan. As Rahab 
            told the two spies Joshua had sent out to recon-
            noiter the city of Jericho, “I know that the LORD 
            has given you the land, that the terror of you has 
            fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the 
            land are fainthearted because of you.” (Joshua 2:9). 
            Rahab sided with the Israelites, believing God was 
            leading Israel to that victory over her own people! 
            As she said in verse 11, “...the LORD your God, He 
            is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

       ✡   But it is amazing when considering that all her 
            life she had been steeped in Amorite idolatrous 
            worship! God had plainly warned the Israelites to 
            avoid being attracted to such idolatry:

              When the Lord your God brings you into the 
              land which you go to possess...and when the 
              Lord your God delivers...over to you...the 
              Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites 
              and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the 
              Hivites and the Jebusites...you shall conquer 
              them and utterly destroy them. (Deuteronomy 
              7:1 and 2).

       ✡      And Rahab was an Amorite! But she rejected the 
               idolatry of her former nation, and she trusted 
               the God of the Hebrews! She showed forth her 
               trust, and, as James says, she was...also jus-
               tified by works when she received the messengers 
               and then sent them out another way....”

       ✡      By the way, she was counted so faithful and just 
               by the LORD, Rahab is listed as a direct ancestor 
               of Jesus Christ! (see Matthew 1:5).

We will stop at these three Old Testament just persons, and continue with Joseph, the husband of Mary, in the next Gem.