Three Christian Leaders Mentioned in Historical Sources

Three Christian Leaders Mentioned in Historical Sources

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

As we survey the New Testament, we learn about some of the great ministers of early Christian history. People tend to be familiar with Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas, and James. Other major leaders are mentioned, but these are among the most well-known ministers.

What about historical sources outside of the New Testament?

The earliest non-Biblical historical sources that reference Christianity come from Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger. Of them, Josephus mentions James, the brother of Jesus (Antiquities of the Jews, 20.9.1). In the New Testament, James is discussed as a leader of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:9).

Pliny also mentioned other Christian leaders. These two individuals are not mentioned in the New Testament, but they must have been very important. In about 110/111 AD, Pliny served as the governor for the province of Bithynia in Asia Minor. While there, Christians were put on trial for their faith. He reported to the Roman Emperor Trajan how he handled the situation and if Trajan would advise any changes to his strategy. We have an excerpt of his letter below (listed by Loeb as Letter 96; listed by Bosanquet as Letter 97).

“…to the Emperor Trajan: It is my invariable rule, Sir, to refer to you in all matters where I feel doubtful; for who is more capable of removing my scruples, or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials concerning those who profess Christianity, I am unacquainted not only with the nature of their crimes, or the measure of their punishment, but how far it is proper to enter into an examination concerning them…”

“An anonymous information was laid before me containing a charge against several persons, who upon examination denied they were Christians, or had ever been so. They repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered religious rites with wine and incense before your statue (which for that purpose I had ordered to be brought, together with those of the gods), and even reviled [cursing] the name of Christ: whereas there is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians into any of these compliances: I thought it proper, therefore, to discharge them…”

“Some among those who were accused by a witness in person at first confessed themselves Christians, but immediately after denied it; the rest owned indeed that they had been of that number formerly, but had now (some above three, others more, and a few above twenty years ago) renounced that error. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, uttering imprecations at the same time against the name of Christ…”

“…They affirmed the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal. From this custom, however, they desisted after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, I forbade the meeting of any assemblies…”

“…I judged it so much the more necessary to endeavor to extort the real truth, by putting two female slaves to the torture, who were said to officiate in their religious rites: but all I could discover was evidence of an absurd and extravagant superstition…”

“…I deemed it expedient, therefore, to adjourn all further proceedings, in order to consult you. For it appears to be a matter highly deserving your consideration, more especially as great numbers must be involved in the danger of these prosecutions, which have already extended, and are still likely to extend, to persons of all ranks and ages, and even of both sexes…” (Letter 96/97).

This document is a powerful witness of early Christians. Among the details to be garnered from it are the fact that Christians lived a moral life and that the gospel message had an appeal to people from all ages and ranks of Roman society. The faith also appealed to both males and females. Unfortunately, the persecution of Christians also caused some to recant their faith and return to the worship of other gods. This report contains a fascinating piece of evidence that could be easily overlooked.

Pliny noted that he desired to learn more about the Christian faith. As a result, he sought out leaders who could explain it even further. His search led him to two female leaders!

The underlying Latin for the section that mentions them is: Quo magis necessarium credidi ex duabus ancillis, quae ministrae dicebantur, quid esset veri, et per tormenta quaerere. Nihil aliud inveni quam superstitionem pravam et immodicam.

I have highlighted some Latin words in bold. Duabus means two. Ancillis means hand-maid, servant, or slave. Ministrae dicebantur is translated as “…they were said to be ministers…” In other words, other people reported them as operating in this capacity. The Latin word ministrae is in the feminine plural form of ministra; it means “female attendant or servant.” This word is where we derive the English word minister.

The translator renders the term ministrae as officiating in religious rites. Other translations, such as Loeb, render this word deaconess. This is likely because Pheobe in Romans 16:1 is called a deaconess.

One must remember that Pliny was not a believer. Therefore, he attempted to use language to describe something from an outsiders perspective (in anthropology, this is called the etic view). Female officiants in religion were not uncommon in the ancient world, so the fact that women were report to him was not strange at all.

These women are two of three Christian leaders mentioned in early historical sources outside of the Bible. We do not know their names. After Roman authorities interrogated some Christians, they sought prominent individuals. These women were known by others to be Christian leaders and individuals who could explain the Christian faith deeper. These were extraordinary examples of the faith!  They also were known to officiate services, which means that they had authority within the Christian community.

These women remind us of other female leaders in the early Christian community. In Romans 16:1, Pheobe was called a deaconess or diakonon. She obviously was a woman with authority because Paul said: “…that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self” (Romans 16:2, WEB).

Later in the same chapter, Paul commended Priscilla, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, and others. These women worked hard for the faith and were considered trustworthy witnesses of the gospel message.

While we may not know much about these two women, we commend their bravery. They rose to prominence in a time when Christians were persecuted. While others recanted their faith, these women endured for the faith.

They remind us that women played a significant role in the early Christian community.

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.


Holy Bible. World English Bible (WEB). Public Domain.

Pliny the Younger, Letter 96. Translated by William Melmoth. Revised by W. M. L. Hutchinson. Vol 2. New York: The MacMillan Co. 1915. p 404-405.

Pliny the Younger. Letter 97. Translated by Melmoth. Revised by Rev. F. C. T. Bosanquet, London: George Bell and Sons, 1905. pp 393-397.

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The Theology of Jesus as Our Passover Lamb

The Theology of Jesus as Our Passover Lamb
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. Therefore let’s keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor. 5:7b-8).

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he stated that Christ is our Passover Lamb. Over my life, I have often heard Jesus called a Lamb or our Passover Lamb, but what does that really mean?

To answer this question, we must connect the Old Testament Passover in Exodus with the life and death of Jesus. There are many powerful Passover accounts in the Bible, such as the ones under Josiah, Hezekiah, and Ezra. However, the best example in the Old Testament to understand Jesus as our Passover Lamb is the first one. It was the initial event which led to the freedom of God’s natural people and the establishment of the physical Passover. Throughout the Bible, writers make references back to the Exodus.

Jesus’ perfect life culminated in His death – it was the event which initiated our spiritual freedom from sin and death. Jesus spent His life showing Himself as that Lamb. Throughout the New Testament, there are references made to Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection. Because Jesus is a greater Lamb – His entire life can be looked at through the lens of the first Passover and first Exodus.

In this article, we want to develop the Biblical Basis for the theology and understanding that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. We will compare the first Passover in Exodus to Jesus’ life and last Passover on earth. There are many parallels and prophetic fulfillments when we compare the two.

#1 – The lamb was chosen

In Exodus 12:1-13, we learn that the Israeliteswere supposed to select a lamb. “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household…” (Ex. 12:3).

Jesus is compared to a Lamb in the Old and New Testaments (Isaiah 53, John 1:29-33, I Peter 2:21-24, Rev. 5:6). Like the Exodus lamb, Jesus was chosen. However, He was not chosen by people but God the Father. This is one way that Jesus is greater. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One” (John 1:29, 34).

#2 – The lamb was examined and had to be without blemish

In Exodus 12:5, we learn that the lamb had to be without defect. This also means it was examined. “Your lamb shall be without defect, a male a year old. You shall take it from the sheep or from the goats” (Ex. 12:5).

Jesus lived a perfect life according to God’s laws and commandments (I John 3:1-6). Just before Jesus’ death, He was examined by the chief priests, Herod, and Pilate. They could not find anything wrong with Him. In fact, false accusers had to be brought forward to lodge a charge against Him. We have some quotes from His trial below:

“59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus, that they might put him to death, 60 and they found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, ‘This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.’ 62 The high priest stood up and said to him, ‘Have you no answer? What is this that these testify against you?’ 63 But Jesus stayed silent” (Matthew 26:59-63).

“4 Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, ‘I find no basis for a charge against this man.’…7 When he found out that he was in Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days…13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 and said to them, ‘You brought this man to me as one that perverts the people, and behold, having examined him before you, I found no basis for a charge against this man concerning those things of which you accuse him. 15 Neither has Herod, for I sent you to him, and see, nothing worthy of death has been done by him’…20 Then Pilate spoke to them again, wanting to release Jesus, 21 but they shouted, saying, ‘Crucify! Crucify him!’ 22 He said to them the third time, ‘Why? What evil has this man done? I have found no capital crime in him. I will therefore chastise him and release him’” (Luke 23:4, 7, 13-15, 20-22).

Jesus was examined and found innocent. Like a lamb before the slaughter, Jesus remained silent before His accusers.

#3 – The lamb died

The children of Israel were commanded to slaughter the lamb on the evening portion of the 14th day of the first Hebrew month which is called Aviv or Nisan. “…You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at evening…” (Ex. 12:6).

Jesus died on Passover, which becomes evident through the gospel chronologies. He willingly gave His life. Ultimately, it was the will of the Father for Christ to suffer because of our sins (John 10:11-18, I John 3:16). He was chosen for this purpose. This further reinforces New Testament analogies to Jesus as the Lamb.

Jesus is greater. He died for all our sins, whereas the lamb from Exodus died for one nation. 

“The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29).

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…” (I Cor. 15:3).

#4 – The blood of the lamb had to be applied

The Israelites were commanded to take the blood of the lamb and apply it a certain way. Following these instructions spared them from the death angel when it came through Egypt.

“7 They shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two door posts and on the lintel, on the houses in which they shall eat it…13 The blood shall be to you for a token on the houses where you are. When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:7, 13).

In a similar manner, the blood of Jesus was shed to spare us from the wrath of God and eternal condemnation! This wrath is coming upon the whole world for disobedience. The blood gives us access to flee this wrath! This is another way that Jesus is an even greater lamb than those from the first Passover.

“…knowing that you were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from the useless way of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish or spot, the blood of Christ…” (I Peter 1:18-19).

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

#5 – Hyssop

During the first Exodus, the hyssop was dipped in the basin before the blood was applied. “You shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two door posts with the blood that is in the basin…” (Ex. 12:22a).

Hyssop was also applied to Jesus as His blood was being shed. “After this, Jesus, seeing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I am thirsty.’ Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it at his mouth…” (John 19:28-29).

#6 – Not a bone broken

During the first Passover in Egypt, the people were not allowed to break any bones of the lamb. “You shall not carry any of the meat outside of the house. Do not break any of its bones” (Exodus 12:46b).

In the same way, we learn that Jesus’ bones were not broken when he was crucified. We have an excerpt below:

“31 Therefore the Jews, because it was the Preparation Day, so that the bodies wouldn’t remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special one), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Therefore the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him; 33 but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs.… 36 For these things happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ‘A bone of him will not be broken’” (John 19:31-33, 36).

#7 – The Lamb was eaten

In the Exodus story, we learn that the physical lamb had to be eaten. “They shall eat the meat in that night, roasted with fire, with unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs…” (Ex. 12:8).

During His last Passover, Jesus revealed that the unleavened bread consumed during that season represented his body. The cup represents His blood. We partake of this on Passover because Jesus is our Passover Lamb. “26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, and broke it. He gave to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ 27 He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, ‘All of you drink it, 28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins’…” (Matthew 26:26-28).

#8 – One household

The lamb in Exodus was supposed to be eaten in one house. “It must be eaten in one house. You shall not carry any of the meat outside of the house” (Ex. 12:46a).

There’s only one household in which the true Lamb can be received: the household of faith (Gal. 6:10, Eph. 2:18-20, Hebrews 3:6, I Peter 2:5). “…but Christ is faithful as a Son over his house. We are his house, if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:6).

In I Peter 4:17, Peter wrote that judgment begins in the household of God. Why is that? Because that is where the blood is supposed to be applied and the Lamb is eaten.

#9 – God gave them freedom through the lamb

God promised the children of Israel that He was going to free them through the miraculous plagues, the last of which was rendered during Passover. “I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments…” (Ex. 6:6).  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex. 20:1, KJV).

All humanity is in slavery to sin and bondage (John 8:33-34, Romans 6:16-17). Jesus’ death freed those who receive Him from that bondage. “14 Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The big difference is that the children of Israel were freed from Egypt, but fondness for Egypt was still in their hearts. The generation that left remained enslaved to sin while in the desert (Amos 5:25-28). As children of God, we are free from sin and death, but we must choose to remain that way (Romans 6:18-22, 8:2, Gal. 5:1-21, 2 Peter 2:19). “Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).

As discussed in the Spring 2022 edition of Pursuit magazine, God is performing a greater Exodus now. The Israelites left physical Egypt and eventually made it to the Promised Land. Through the blood of the Lamb of God, we are being freed from this age. At the resurrection, we will be granted full entrance into all ages to come. We are tasked with putting the yeast or sin out of our lives during this present age! Paul also discussed this in I Cor. 5:6-8. That is our response to Jesus’ great sacrifice for us, which is the greatest investment ever made! He expects a return! (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 18:11-27)

#10 – We become one

When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were a mixed multitude. Said another way, there were descendants of Israel and Egypt who left the land together. “A mixed multitude went up also with them, with flocks, herds, and even very much livestock” (Ex. 12:38).

They were all reckoned as one nation when they passed through the Red Sea and followed the cloud. “1 Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (I Cor. 10:1-2). The process of them becoming one nation was made complete at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:4-6).

Just before Jesus’ death, He lifted us – all future believers – up to the Father in a beautiful prayer that is recorded in John chapter 17. He prayed that we would all be one with each other as He is one with the Father. Since the end of the age was initiated at Jesus’ death and resurrection, God is calling people from all nations to repent (Matthew 28:19, Acts 14:27, 17:30, Romans 1:5, 14:25).

The blood of the Lamb of God allows us to join a spiritual nation unto God. Our natural distinctions, such as nationality, ethnicity, etc., are secondary to the Godly nation. We are grated into Israel and the promises of God (Romans chapters 9-11, Eph. 4:4).

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28).

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (2 Peter 2:9).


After reviewing these details, one can easily see how a person who knew Jesus and witnessed His life, suffering, and death would view Him as the Lamb of God. His death fulfilled so many aspects of the Passover lamb from Exodus. But always remember that Jesus is greater in many ways.

Among them is the fact that Jesus resurrected from the dead. This makes Him a living sacrifice, not a dead one like that from the Exodus story. He brings about eternal change in His children and delivering us from this evil age of darkness (Gal. 1:4).

This article gives you a sample of the many ways that Jesus is viewed as the Passover Lamb in the New Testament. We may explore even more of them in future articles.  

All Bible verses, unless otherwise noted, come from the World English Bible (WEB); public domain.

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Hidden Lust in the Last Days

Hidden Lust in the Last Days
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

There is a hidden lust in the last days that we must guard ourselves against! What is it? How do we recognize it? How do we protect ourselves from it?

The hidden lust of our times is the lust for knowledge. The Apostle Paul spoke about this development in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

“3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn away to fables.”

Why is it happening now?
This trend was prophesied by Paul to happen in the future, but why now? Another prophecy helps us identify the time in history when these words would come to pass. In Daniel 12:4, we learn: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end. Many will run back and forth, and knowledge will be increased.” (Dan. 12:4, WEB).

The Hebrew word translated as ‘increased’ is rabah. It means increase by leaps and bounds. In Genesis, it was used of the flood waters increasing upon the earth.

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened” (Genesis 7:11).

Jesus said that the days just before His return would be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). Daniel 12:4 certainly ties into this concept, but with reference to knowledge rather than water.

For most of human history there has not been great access to knowledge by the average person at any one time. There were scattered monuments, documents, and other finds that could be accessed. But a person had to physically travel to those locations and look at them. A select few could gain some knowledge over the course of their lives.

But consider the prevalence of knowledge today!

Today, knowledge from past generations can be accessed with the touch of a finger. Entire encyclopedia sets are available for search online. You can search ancient documents and monuments within seconds. There are more ancient documents being translated into modern languages today than ever before; this allows the average person to better access historical documents. One can also travel to see ancient sites in a reasonable amount of time.

We have access to a greater amount of knowledge and at a faster pace than any other time in human history. In the days of Noah there was probably a lot of knowledge because people lived so long – but that kosmos was destroyed and our knowledge of that world is limited.

In 1982, Buckminster Fuller developed a knowledge increase curve. He estimated that humans doubled knowledge every century. After World War II, knowledge began to double every 25 years. By 1982, it was doubling every 12-13 months. IBM released a report in 2006 than the world’s fund of knowledge will eventually double every 11-12 hours (Marc Rosenburg, 2017).

Like the flood waters in the days of Noah, knowledge is rapidly increasing. Daniel warned us about this increase thousands of years before it happened. This prophecy is a major proof of the Bible’s validity.

There are also specific technological advancements in this area that connect to prophecies about the end. Consider the capacity for knowledge that the average person can store and access:

1990s – Floppy Disk (1.4 MB storage)

2000s – CDs – (700 MB storage – a 500 times increase from floppy disks)

2020s – Thumb drives or flash drives can be purchased for 128 GB (reasonably priced). This is 91,428 times growth since the early 1990s. Expensive external hard drives can go up to 144 Terrabytes. This is over 102 million times growth since 1990s.

Moreover, consider the proliferation of smart phones! In the 1990s, the flip phone was popular. In the early 2000s, smart phone development began. The lowest level of memory for many smart phones is 8 GB. That is many thousands of times more capacity than a floppy disk.

Today, you can get phones, tablets, and other technology with hundreds of GB. That is hundreds of thousands of times more capacity than a floppy disk. Much of this new technology can fit in your pocket. The memory has greatly increased, but the size has decreased.

This new technology is prophetic as it allows us to take large amounts of knowledge “to and fro.” It allows for a person’s knowledge to increase suddenly!

Our ability to spread knowledge has also greatly increased. There are people online who have millions of followers. They can type a message, picture, or video from their couch and millions of people can see it within seconds. Even people without fame or notoriety can have thousands of followers.

The average person can receive, spread, or retain knowledge at a more rapid pace than ever before. And this rapid pace is certainly a rabah – exponential increase. In the last one hundred years, we went from horses, trains, and telegrams to cars, planes, and phones. Truly many are traveling ‘to and fro.’

I receive messages from people in other countries who don’t have running water, but they have smart phone or internet access.  Knowledge is becoming more important to people than basic needs.

There is a dark side to this prophesied trend!

In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, the Apostle Paul spoke of a future prophetic time (kairos) where people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, their focus will be on gathering knowledge. If there was ever a time in which this prophetic message was true, it is in our time where knowledge is increasing rapidly and can be accessed rapidly by the average person.

In these verses, the Greek word translated as ‘will turn’ (apostrepsousin) can also mean to put a sword in its sheath. This lust for knowledge takes the sword of the Word and puts it in the sheath. That does not mean the Word of God is not acknowledged by people. It just becomes another category of knowledge piled on top of other categories of knowledge. This attitude can create religiously knowledgeable zealots that are not transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The lust for knowledge creates the never-ending itch of wanting to heap up more knowledge. As one attains these heaps, they feel empowered – as if they are putting together the great puzzle to solve mysteries of the universe. Yet, at the end of the day they are no closer to absolute truth than when they started.

Why you ask? Because their lust will never be satisfied. The Apostle Paul said that in this age we know in part (I Cor. 13:8-12). Interestingly enough, this explanation is given in the chapter on love.

In this same letter, Paul wrote, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (I Cor. 8:1). Those snake-bit with the lust for knowledge are not always considerate of their actions towards others or even self. Their pursuit of knowledge is of upmost importance.

The first fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, not knowledge. The Holy Spirit is the LOVE of God shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Love is the foundation from which knowledge can be added without blurring our focus on what is most important. “…and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

To be filled with the FULLNESS of God we must intimately know the LOVE of God that surpasses knowledge. Then knowledge can be properly added. This explains why Peter exhorted believers to grow in GRACE and KNOWLEDGE (2 Peter 3:18). The lust for knowledge neglects the love that surpasses knowledge and the grace of God.

As humans, we are finite beings. We have a limited amount of time on earth.  We have a limited amount of knowledge that we can retain at any given moment (despite being able to access much knowledge). What do you want to use your limited time, energy, and memory for?

What will you fill it with? To overcome yourself, your desires cannot be the center of your time. Lust for piles of knowledge creates something called intrigue. This is one of the names given to Antiochus Epiphanes, who is the forerunner of the man of lawlessness (see Daniel 11:21-34; 2 Thess. 2:1-8).

Does something intrigue you to the point that you miss the conviction and leading of God’s Spirit? Knowledge can captivate you, but in a way that causes you to be more connected to this age and kosmos (world). How attached are you to this Kosmos?

You can become so enthralled in this age and world with the PRIDE of your knowledge that you become as Lot’s wife – who was attracted to Sodom and Gomorrah. But she suffered judgment for turning back to what God intended to destroy. What was it she wanted to keep? At least in part, knowledge of that cursed place.  

In our times, everyone can have a following – even if its just a few people. Because only a few may follow, they can claim that they are truly following the “narrow path” from Matthew 7:13-14. And everyone can have a host of pet teachers that only tell them what they want to hear or what version of evidence they prefer.

An Opportunity Exists for Truth

Amidst this chaos, there’s an opportunity there for us to plug into the knowledge of God. We are called to be the light of the world amidst the darkness around us (Matthew 5:14, Phil. 2:14-16).

There’s one aspect of the flood in Noah’s day I did not talk about. The increase of the waters came from both below and above. I believe this would correspond to earthly knowledge (below) and heavenly knowledge (above).

Today, we have more study tools at our disposal than ever. The Bible is more readily available now than ever. The knowledge of its original languages is progressing so fast that many people can take courses online anywhere around the world. The Bible is being translated into more languages every year. There is revelation knowledge out of the Word that is being released. It has progressed in various forms from the 1800s until now. Knowledge of the Kingdom of God is also growing.

We can use these same tools to reach people with the true, genuine gospel faster than ever before. We can reach people with love, grace, and the knowledge of God.

Recall the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Don’t be one who refused compassion and love to those in need because they don’t have the same knowledge that you possess.

We live in dangerous times. We must guard ourselves with lust for knowledge with the love of God and others.

God Bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.


Marc Rosenburg. Marc My Words: The Coming Knowledge Tsunami. Oct. 10, 2017. Accessed 2/7/2023.

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Why the Wrath of God?

Why the Wrath of God?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

One aspect of the prophetic meaning of the Fall Holy Days that is often overlooked is the Wrath of God. Over the years, many scholars, preachers, and believers have asked the question: “Why the Wrath of God?” They say, “How can a loving God be so wrathful?” These questions are usually made in reference to prophetic books of the Bible, especially the book of Revelation. Admittedly, these are good questions, and in this article, we will help to answer them.

Before we delve into this subject, I think it is important for us to consider how humans have treated each other the last six thousand years. Just in the past one hundred years or so, over 100 million humans have died due to warfare and the consequences from it. We have seen genocide on the greatest level that has probably ever existed. Senseless acts of violence occur daily. The trend appears to be increasing. These callous acts are heartbreaking.

Jesus foretold that these days would come. He compared the end of this age to the days of Noah. “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26, KJV). In Genesis, we learn that the earth was filled with violence during Noah’s lifetime. “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:12-13). At that time, God sent a flood to end the needless bloodshed which filled the earth. We see this same pattern repeating itself in our times.

This subject brings up a good counter question: Is God supposed to allow humanity to continue to hurt, wound, and slay each other forever? Instead of questioning God for the existence of suffering, we should pause and examine ourselves and human nature. Why do we allow ourselves to do these things to each other? Most suffering exists because humans have corrupted their ways – as in the time of Noah. Christians around the world also suffer, so we are not exempt from this plight.

Imagine for a moment a world where everyone worked together, people looked out for their neighbor, and all humans thought about the greater good. Wouldn’t such a world be wonderful? The Bible depicts such a world that is to come (Micah 4:1-4 is a great example).

But why does this world not already exist? Do we have God to blame? Truly, we only have ourselves to blame. We want God to change the world for us, but humanity as a whole does not want to change its ways. As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one…” (Rom. 3:10). The utopia we all desire to see is coming. The Lord God is coming to establish perfect peace on the earth.

Various prophecies in the Bible foresaw a time where the violence of mankind towards each other would reach a climax. The earth would get so bad that humans would not survive at all unless God intervened. “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:10-12, 21-22).

During a future period called the Great Tribulation, there will be world war, famine, disease, and suffering such as never been seen in the past or ever again. The Book of Revelation explains how Christians alive at that time will be killed because they refused to compromise the Word of God.

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands… And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9, 14).

Why will God not intervene to stop the slaying of so many believers? God has given humanity free will – a chance to choose between right and wrong. The believers who are martyred at that time are the testimony or witness of His way on earth. Other people will have the opportunity to see that testimony and walk in it. Everyone else will be so jealous and enraged at God’s way that they hurt believers. There are consequences for one’s choice. If God does not intervene in the death of these believers, then what would we expect His response to be towards those who slayed them?

The Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God which follows it are part of God’s plan to bring final judgment during this age. This explains why they happen at the end of it. In the first period, the whole world must decide if it will worship God or the beast power and its mark (Rev. chapter 13).

Those who follow God are martyred, but they will inherit eternal reward. Those who worship the beast and take its mark will choose the way of life that also expresses hate and violence towards others – as in the days of Noah (Cain’s descendants were also marked). They will be severely punished. The Wrath of God is poured out upon those who are still alive after the Great Tribulation because they did harm to those who obeyed God and refused to repent (Rev. 16:5-6).  

The worldly attitudes of this age are reflected by breaking the commandments of God. In Matthew 24:12 (quoted above) hatred towards people has increased and will increase because of iniquity. The Greek root word translated as iniquity is anomia, and it means lawlessness.

All of humanity is put through a great test at the end of this age. There will be a separation of those who desire to be in the next age of lawfulness and Godly love from those who cling to this age of lawlessness. The Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God will settle it all. God wants humanity to experience the fullness of His plan and blessing for them. There must be a purge from the old ways of this age because they are so deeply engrained.

The Lord God is the creator of all mankind (Num. 27:16). He has laid out for us a way of life that brings joy to us and everyone around us. It is first described in the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah, and summarized in the Ten Commandments. Depth is added throughout the rest of the Bible. These will guide us in the age to come.

There are more reasons that this wrath is necessary. Presently, Satan is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). He has deceived humanity to go the wrong way (Rev. 12:9). He has influenced corruption upon the earth. There are world-wide reminders of his influence such as statutes, idols, images, monuments, books, and inscriptions all over the world. Items such as these create a cord of iniquity between humans and the object (Prov. 5:22). They remind people of sinful lifestyles, other gods, and satan. God asked the Israelites to destroy these items (Ex. 34:10-14, Deut. 7:1-6, 12:1-7).  God will destroy them during His wrath (Is. 27:9, Zeph. 2:11). Unfortunately, humans throughout the generations of this age have come into agreement with satan’s schemes through these items. Satan is punished just after the wrath is complete (Rev. 20:1-3).

The objects connected to satan would drag all of humanity back into the sinful mess of this age if not removed. This explains some of the judgments rendered during that time, such as the first trumpet, which destroys part of the earth (Rev. 8:7).

There are also sins which defile the land (Lev. chapter 18 provides one list). Humans are made from the earth, so this connection is logical. Because these sins have been committed world-wide, the entire earth has been defiled. Thus, the wrath is coming upon the whole world (John 3:36, Rom. 1:18, Eph. 5:5-6). Humanity has also perverted the earth, plants, and animal life from God’s original design. This explains some of the judgments upon nature rendered in the Wrath of God; the kosmos is being purged for a better future (Rev. 11:18).

God does not want humanity to perish (2 Peter 3:9). But if God did not intervene with His Wrath, then we would destroy each other and be lost forever. There is a certain Wrath to come. I pray that everyone would repent of their ways and turn to God. There is a way to escape the Wrath through Jesus Christ (I Thess. 5:9).

God wants the best for humanity, but that requires a time of suffering to receive it. This situation is comparable to parents that discipline their children out of love. There is pain but also love.

God will allow humanity to reach the apex of evil and then intervene to alter the destiny of humanity in a way that is for our good. After the wrath is completed, mankind will have a fresh start. Some will survive it and enjoy the wonderful age to come (Zech. 14:16). All generations born in the age to come will know the way of love and truth. Through the Wrath and the resulting obedience because of it, God is going to show humanity that His ways bring us into perfect harmony with Him and each other.

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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7 Ministry Types that End in Failure

7 Ministry Types that End in Failure

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Over my years of serving with ministries and observing ministries, I have come to notice at least seven types of ministry that end in failure. What I say that these ministry types result in failure, what I mean is that the ministry will not fulfill its intended purpose to love God and love people. It does not mean that the church or ministry will fail to exist. It is also possible that leaders in a church or ministry repent and turn back to God from these errors – as we should always hope that they do so.

Below, we have listed these seven ministry types. Keep in mind that these are overall attitudes held by the leader or leaders of a ministry. The structure of the church – including services – is geared around a certain mindset. Some of these attitudes can be combined or simultaneously occur in one ministry.

Personality Driven – It’s all about the pastor / leader’s personality. Everything is designed to promote, support and prop up the personality. This means that people can be tempted to look the other way when sin or false doctrine appears because the personality is what sustains the ministry structure. In this type, people become expendable to the personality.

Performance Driven – It’s all about the show. The service and sermon are geared around putting on church as a show. This requires being fake. Real issues going on underneath the service are hidden so that the show can go on. Glorifying God becomes expendable to the show.

Proving Driven – The leader or leaders are always trying to prove themselves. This means that they are always trying to one-up someone else or another ministry. The tendency to put down churches is necessary so that the leader can better ‘prove’ himself/herself. The will of God becomes secondary to the leaders proving themselves to others or self.

Reactionary Driven – Some church leaders are focused on reacting to what others are doing. If one church promotes missions, they react and become anti-missions. If another church is pro-spiritual warfare, they suddenly become anti-spiritual warfare. The leader or leaders are so focused on reacting to what everyone else is doing that they lose their own vision and lack genuineness. This will produce disciples that look at other people as enemies rather than human beings made in the image of God who need correction and affection. The attendees will also lack understanding of Christianity’s core beliefs because the teaching is so focused on what we should be against.

Fad Driven – What’s new? What’s hip? This type of structure “goes with the flow” of whatever new cultural phenomenon is going on regardless of how Scriptural it may be. The goal is to be the ‘cool’ church that can appeal to anyone rather than stand on the timeless principles of the Word of God. It is hard for this structure to sustain the same vision over time because it will always change with trends.

Numbers Driven – This type of structure focuses on numbers. The type of music played, who preaches, how the service is arranged, the schedule used, and so forth is all geared towards filling the pews with as many people as possible. This of course will cause the individual to be drowned out amid the collective. This is usually paired with other ministry types, but it doesn’t have to be.

Money Driven – Some leaders are focused on money. This can be connected to numbers, but not always. If the money is flowing, then they view God as having approval to everything else they do. There is a temptation to compromise to the will of givers to keep the money coming in. There is also the temptation to think that God approves of everything going on in the ministry because the finances are present. The will of God is assumed based on money and not on if God is actually honored by the ministry in Spirit and Truth.

Each of these structures is sustained by human effort because the goal is of human origin. The goal of getting the gospel out is dropped for the ministry structure – maintain a personality / agenda / program / human expectations / personal goals / cultural fads/ numbers / money. Pleasing God is not the first thing on their minds – it is not the central focus.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

When we serve in ministry, God wants to build character in us as well as the people who attend. We must seek the Kingdom of God first and foremost. The outward things of ministry will take care of themselves.

These ministry types are solely focused on horizontal attitude towards ministry. This is to be juxtaposed with a vertical-focused ministry – where a person receives from God and then ministers outward from that posture/position.

Let’s get back to the fundamentals of loving God and loving others in our ministries. Let’s seek first the Kingdom of God. Then we will be able fulfill the great commission!

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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Making the Case for Rosh Chodesh

Making the Case for Rosh Chodesh

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

According to the Bible, God established a weekly day of rest and celebration—the seventh-day Sabbath (Friday sunset through Saturday sunset). It is discussed in at least 140 verses across the entire Bible. God also established annual festivals which are outlined in Leviticus chapter 23. They are called moad’im or chag in Hebrew. They are mentioned in many Bible verses. If these weekly and annual cycles are clearly established by God,  then it would be logical for us to ask: does the Bible mention a monthly cycle with a celebration of some kind?

A Biblical month is based upon the cycle of the moon around the earth. This is about every 29.5 days. A year is composed of 12 or 13 lunar months. An extra month is added some years so that the monthly cycle will stay in sync with the proper seasons. God placed the annual festivals on specific months and days during the year. The Bible talks about the importance of the moon as it relates to the months and festival days. We have some verses below.

“Blow the trumpet at the new moon (chodesh), At the full moon, on our feast-day (chagenu)” (Psalm 81:3).

“It shall be established for ever as the moon, And as the faithful witness in the sky. Selah” (Psalm 89:37).

“He appointed the moon for seasons (moad’im): The sun knoweth his going down…” (Psalm 104:19).

The moon is the faithful witness to the monthly cycle. In Hebrew, the first day of the month is called Rosh Chodesh, Echad Chodesh, or Chodesh. Chodesh means month. Rosh means head or chief. Echad means first or oneness. The first clue that this one day of the month is set apart from the others is the fact that it has its own name. More evidence exists to affirm this point.  

In Numbers 28:1-8, we learn that God required certain sacrifices to be offered by the priests every day. One lamb was offered in the morning and another one in the evening. In verses 9-10, we learn that two extra lambs were required to be sacrificed on the Sabbath. This is one witness that days known to be set apart by God had special sacrifices offered on them. In Numbers 28:16 through the end of chapter 29, we learn that the annual festivals, which are commonly called Holy Days, also had special sacrifices offered on them (many more than the weekly Sabbath). This is a second witness that days with set apart meaning had special sacrifices offered on them.

Between the verses on the weekly Sabbath offerings and Annual Sabbath offerings we find the sacrifices for Rosh Chodesh (Num. 28:11-15). On the first day of every month, God required special sacrifices to be made. They were similar to those offered on the annual festivals.

In Numbers 10:1-10, God told the Israelites to make special silver trumpets. They were only to be sounded by the sons of Aaron in special situations. One of them was when sacrifices were offered at “days of rejoicing” (verse 10). The Hebrew word translated as ‘rejoicing’ is simchah; it means gladness or joyful. In this verse, the two times of joy listed are the moad’im (found in Leviticus 23) and Rosh Chodeshim or the New Moons. So the moad’im in Leviticus 23 are considered days of gladness, but so is Rosh Chodesh. However, Rosh Chodesh is listed in a separate category from the moad’im. While the New Moon is set apart from all the other days of the month, it is also in a different category from the annual festivals.

Special events happened on certain New Moons throughout the Bible. We will start with the Torah, which is the first five books of the Bible, and then look at events outside of it.

During the time of Noah’s flood, the tops of the mountains were visible again on the first day of the tenth month (Gen. 8:5). On the first day of the first month, the waters were dried up from off the earth (Gen. 8:13).

The instructions for Passover were most likely given on the first day of the first month (Ex. 12:2). The Tabernacle was assembled in the second year after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the first month (Ex. 40:17). On the first day of the second month in the second year after they left Egypt, the Lord told the Israelites to assemble so that they could be counted (Num. 1:1, 18). The Feast of Trumpets was established on the first day of the seventh month (Lev. 23:23-24).

On the first day of the fifth month in the 40th year after they came out of Egypt, the Lord commanded Aaron to go up on the mountain. There he died (Num 33:38). On the first day of the eleventh month of the same year, Moses spoke to the people everything that the Lord had commanded him (Deut. 1:3). Most or perhaps all the book of Deuteronomy was taught to the people on the New Moon.

This overview of events in just the Torah is very revealing! God gave special instructions to His servants and the people on the New Moon. Other parts of the Bible discuss the importance of this day of the month.

In the Old Testament period, people had special gatherings on the day. In the time of David, we learn that people gathered to celebrate this event (I Samuel 20:1-34). In this same account, we learn that they enjoyed special food.

In the days of the kings, it appears that people expected prophets to receive revelation from God on the New Moons (2 Kings 4:23). The prophet Ezekiel often recorded which day of the Hebrew Calendar He received his prophetic words. Of all the prophetic messages he recorded, four of them came on the first day of the month, four of them on the fifth day, and three on the tenth day (the other days have scattered references).

Another theme connected to the New Moon is the Tabernacle/Temple of God. As aforementioned, the Tabernacle was set up on the Rosh Chodesh (Ex 40:17). In Hezekiah’s time, they began to purify the Temple on the first day of the first month (2 Chron. 29:17). In Ezra’s time, burnt offerings began to be offered again on the first day of the seventh month, which is also the Feast of Trumpets (Ezra 3:1-6). Ezra read the book of the law to the people on the same holy day, although it was probably a different year (Neh. Chapter 8). In Haggai chapter 1, God gave the people a prophetic message to return to rebuilding the Temple on the first day of the sixth month. The future Temple built in the Millennium will be purified on the first day of the first month (Ezekiel 45:18).

There are also prophetic implications with the New Moon. During the Millennial reign of Christ, a new Temple will be built in Israel. The gate to its inner court will only be open on the New Moon and the Sabbath (Ezekiel 46:1-10). The people will come and worship the Lord when this gate opens. In Isaiah 66:22-23, we learn that everyone in the New Heavens and New Earth will worship the Lord on the Sabbath and New Moons.

Revelation 22:1-2 provides more detail about this eternal age. In these verses, we learn that the Trees of Life on each side of the River of Life will produce their fruit every month. This is an indirect reference to the New Moon. In that eternal age, months will be connected to the production of fruit from those two trees! In Colossians 2:16-17, the Apostle Paul wrote that Christ is the body or real meaning for the New Moons just like He is for the weekly and annual Sabbaths.

When we look at these details, it becomes clear that there is something special about the New Moon. It is to be treated differently than the other days in a month. It has a special emphasis placed upon it by God and this importance is reinforced throughout the Bible.

How do we practically apply this understanding?
The New Moon does not have the types of commanded instruction that we find for the Sabbath and annual festivals. Despite that, there remains a set apartness to the day. There are practical ways that we can set this time apart to God.

Gather. The Israelites were not required to go to Jerusalem for the New Moon, but it appears that gatherings did happen on a local or regional level. Meet with other believers and fellowship. Families can also gather on the day.

Food. You can also have special food that you would normally not eat on other days. This will add emphasis to the day.

Scripture Readings. Read the Scriptures as a group or individually. Moses read the book of the Law to the people (Deut. 1:3). Ezra had the book of the law read to the people (Neh. 8).

Worship God. We do not offer sacrifices with animals, but we do make spiritual sacrifices to God (Rom. 12:2, Hebrews 13:15). We can share praise reports from the past month. You could have a time of prayer and music at your gathering. It was a time when God spoke to His people, so we want to position ourselves to hear from Him. All Christians have His Spirit (Acts 2:17-18, Rom. 8:1-14). If the prophets of old heard from God on the New Moon, then why can’t we?

At my home congregation, we gather for worship and fellowship. We sometimes have a presentation out of the Word. We encourage everyone who attends to write down praises from the past month. Everyone takes a turn reading two or three of their praises out loud. I can personally attest that it is encouraging and faith-building to hear the praises of other people. It allows us to connect better with each other. This is part of our spiritual sacrifice to God. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

As part of our practice of this day, we also write down our prayer requests to God – including our deepest needs. As we worship God on Rosh Chodesh, we seek His will for our lives. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (Ps. 105:4).

Remember that rosh means head. Echad means one or becoming one with. We want to make God our head and become one with Him. Every month we have the opportunity to place the Lord God of Israel at the head of our plans and lives and bring our intent and purposes into echad with His will for our lives.

The weekly Sabbath is a day of rest at the end of the week. The focus for that day is rest from labor and gathering with other believers. The New Moon is qualitatively different in multiple ways. First, it is once a month. Second, it is at the beginning of the month (instead of the end of a time period). Third, it is a way for us to count down to the months when the annual festivals occur. It is a chance for us to review the past month and prepare for the upcoming month. It is a great opportunity for us to review our spiritual fruit and how we are treating the spiritual Temple of believers.

So this upcoming month, examine yourself. How can you make the first day of the month a time of gladness? Who is your Rosh? Who are you Echad with? Remember that Christ is the reality of the day.

Ultimately, there is something supernatural happening every New Moon. A special connection is made between heaven and earth. Will you position yourself to receive it?

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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Why I Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets

Why I Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.” (Lev 23:1-2)

“23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’” (Lev. 23:23-24).

In Leviticus chapter 23, we learn about annual feast days of the Lord. The Hebrew word translated as feast is moed. It is more properly translated as appointed times. They are times in history in which God had appointments with His people. He still meets with us today.

As I consider why I celebrate these festivals, I first recognize that I have an appointment to meet with God. This reminds me of how God is personally interested in my existence and purpose. God wants to meet with me and the rest of His people.

The Hebrew word translated as ‘assembly’ is miqra. It means a gathering or rehearsal. This reminds me that God wants His people to meet together. We worship Him as one Body.

The appointed time which just passed (Friday Sept 18 at sunset through Saturday Sept 19 at sunset) is commonly called The Feast of Trumpets. It is also called zikron teruah. Zikron means to remember or a remembrance. Teruah can mean blowing (as in a trumpet) or shouting.

In fact, the Hebrew word Teruah throughout the Old Testament is connected to shouting, rejoicing, and praising God. Moreover, the word is used when the silver trumpets in Numbers chapter 10 are used or the ram’s horn (called a shofar).

These uses of the word teruah for shouting, the silver trumpets, and the shofar allow us to connect this appointed time with many verses relating to future judgment on the world for sin and disobedience (see Zephaniah chapter 1; Rev. chapters 8-11, 15-16). It is also tied to the Lord returning to gather the scattered people of God and defeat the armies of this world, which are at enmity with God’s people (see Isaiah 27:12-14).

While God’s judgment is a future event, I also remember that I will stand before God and give account for my life. This is sober and humbling.

To this end, our congregation spends the entire month before Trumpets (some call this Teshuvah) in self-reflection and repentance for our behavior, thoughts, and intent that violate God’s Word.

We take an inventory of our spiritual and natural lives. We look at where we haven’t lived up to God’s standard. We ask forgiveness and grace for where we have fallen short. We also make spiritual and natural goals so that, by God’s grace and the power of His Spirit, we will do better for the upcoming year.

One of the future events we anticipate on this day is the Lord returning with His armies to defeat the armies of this world at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21). This battle will result in the end of this age of disobedience and pain, which began with Adam. Satan is then bound from influencing humanity (Rev. 20:1-3). Amidst God’s judgment mercy is granted to the humble (Is. 27:12-14). After His judgment, a better world can then begin (Rev. 20:4-6). There is hope for all humanity to have a brighter future. The Lord Jesus will see to it. This is something to truly celebrate!

God bless!


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Understanding Romans 14:5-6

Understanding Romans 14:5-6

by Kelly McDonald, Jr. 

“5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6, KLV).

Common arguments: These verses have been misunderstood as negating the Sabbath or Holy days. Some have said that they are the basis for proclaiming every day is holy or that no day is holy.

Think it through: These arguments have obvious problems. If Paul can make any day holy or common, then any human could do this any time they wanted to. This would mean that there is no objective standard as to what days were holy or common. These viewpoints reduce God’s authority to lower than that of a man, which is dangerous. If Paul can change the rest of the Bible, who else can do that? What other subjects do we allow people to change?

Short Answer: Paul is talking about days that men esteem higher than others, not days that God considers holy. Thus, he is referring to Roman cultural days.

Longer Answer: We will examine the example of Paul, the context of Romans 14, and some history to clarify the meaning of Paul’s words.

One of the ways we interpret history is through what we call primary sources. This can include people who were eye witnesses to events as well as archaeological findings from the time period. The Apostle Peter was a contemporary of Paul and thus a primary source to the subject matter at hand. Here is what Peter said about Paul:

“15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:15-17, ASV).

We learn some important details from Peter’s words. Apparently, Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, but they do not negate the other Scriptures. The other Scriptures are a reference to the Old Testament. They did not have a New Testament in Paul’s time. Paul was a very educated man, which is why some people struggled with his words.

With this background understanding from Paul’s life, let’s look further at the context of Romans 14:5-6 and the specific language used.

First of all, let’s look at Romans 14:1 “Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions.” Paul informed us that this issue was a dispute about opinions. This means it is not clearly defined by Scripture. Secondly, the Greek word Paul uses for day, hemera, refers to any common day. It refers to the other six days of the week. Thus, he is addressing common days, not holy days like the Sabbath.

Third, the Greek word for holy, hagios, is not even found in this chapter (Romans 14). This reinforces that he is addressing common days, not holy days like the Sabbath. If he were referring to the Sabbath, Paul would have used the specific Greek word for Sabbath, sabbaton. Fourth, Paul was not addressing which days God considers to be holy, but what days men esteem higher than others. God is the one who set aside the Sabbath, not man.

Lastly, one must also consider his audience. Paul wrote these words to the Romans. He is applying these verses specifically to days that the Romans considered to be important. Let’s take a look at some primary sources from the time before, during, and after Paul that will illuminate the meaning of these verses.

The Romans were very superstitious. They considered some days of the week to be unlucky, such as Saturday (Tibullus, 1:3,17-18; Propertius 4:1,81-86). They also considered certain days of the month bad for specific activities such as business or travel (Marcus Varro, On the Latin Language: VI:29-31; Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25). There were even days of certain months on which activities were discouraged, such as marriage (Ovid, Fasti, 5:470-492). On some days, common activities were encouraged, such as eating certain foods (Ovid, Fasti, 6:169 ). For instance, beans and spelt were eaten on June 1st to honor Juno).

The Romans conducted their behavior in this manner for one or more reasons. Sometimes these prohibitions were to honor a specific god or goddess (such as their activity on June 1st). At other times, the Romans were just superstitious. For instance, the Romans considered odd numbers as unlucky. Certain odd days of a month were considered bad for business (Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25).  The Emperor Augustus thought his shoes were an omen (Seutonius, Life of Augustus, XCII).

Another issue raised in Romans 14:5-6 is the issue of abstaining from meat. There was a strain of thought in the Roman world which believed very strongly in vegetarianism (Ovid, Metamorphosis,bk15:76-112, 140-142, 458-462; Seneca, Epistulae, 108:17-22; Plutarch: On the Eating of Flesh, 1:41 and On Isis and Osiris, sections 2,4,7; Lucius Apuleis, Metamorphosis, 11:26-29).  From these sources we can see that their vegetarian beliefs were rooted either in the worship of other gods or superstition.

With this historical understanding, we can better ascertain the meaning of these verses. Paul himself was an educated man and even a Roman citizen. While he grew up Jewish, he also grew up in a culture that practiced these Roman superstitions. He was well versed with them.

What do we learn from Romans 14:5-6? If we are going to consider a common day as important to perform a specific activity, then we should do so unto the Lord and not to a pagan deity, or superstition. He is addressing this specific Roman cultural activity for common days and activities, not the Sabbath or any day declared holy by God.

Paul’s example in the Bible shows us that he continued to keep and reverence the Sabbath even after his conversion to Christianity (for a few examples: Acts 13, Acts 17, 18, Acts 20:16, Acts 27:9, and I Cor.16:8). All of the early churches kept the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.

God is the one who declared the Sabbath Holy, not man (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 31:12-18, and Leviticus 23:1-6 to name a few). The seventh-day Sabbath persists even into the New Heavens and the New Earth (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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New Booklet: The Chronology of Christ’s Passion

New Booklet: The Chronology of Christ’s Passion

Would you like to understand the chronology of events from Jesus last Passover until the resurrection? How about the timeline of events from the resurrection until the ascension? In this booklet, you will receive in depth explanation of these events as well as the necessary background information to put it all together.

The four gospel accounts do no contradict, they compliment. In this booklet you will find out how!

Click the picture below to download this FREE booklet!

chronology booklet

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A 2nd Century Perspective on the Importance of Passover

A 2nd Century Perspective on the Importance of Passover

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

The earliest disciples commemorated the death of Jesus, called Passover, on the 14th of Nissan. This remained the majority practice in Christianity for at least 120 or more years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The earliest Christians knew nothing of a celebration called Easter. In fact, they did not even have a celebration for the resurrection of Jesus. This is not to say that the resurrection of Jesus is not important – but to highlight a historical fact. Why was the remembrance of Jesus’ death more important as a feast than the resurrection and why wasn’t the resurrection celebrated in some form?

Jesus established the practice of Passover for the early Church. “14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God’…And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me… (Luke 22:14-16, 19)

There are three things to note about these verses: 1) Jesus said that He eagerly desired to eat Passover with the disciples. This is the only time the Greek words translated as ‘eagerly desired’ are used. 2) He said it would find fulfillment in the Kingdom of God, which has not yet come, and pursuant to this point He commanded them to 3) “do this in remembrance of me”.

The early church continued this practice. Paul worded it this way: “6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor 5:6-8).

Again, the New Testament does not record any sort of celebration for the resurrection of Jesus. They did not neglect this incredible event as they preached about it. To understand why remembering the death of Jesus with an annual observance was so important, one must take a quick trip with me into the second century.

As I have reviewed in other articles, the second century was a tumultuous time for Christianity. There were cultural and religious forces that attempted to change the Christian community. Among the false teachings that exploded in the second century was Gnosticism; it had tremendous influence on the Christian community.

Gnosticism is a belief system which blended Greek and Middle Eastern influences. Some of their common beliefs are as follows: matter is evil and spiritual things are good; an inferior god made the material world and a superior god made the spiritual realm; spirit and matter are opposed; and a strong emphasis on the gaining of knowledge as essential to the salvation of one’s immortal soul.

The Gnostic teachers infiltrated the Christian community heavily in the second century. Because these heretics viewed the material world as evil, they denied that the perfect Jesus Christ could have ever been born in a human body. In their view – how could a being so perfect dwell in an evil, material body? They denied the bodily birth, bodily ministry, physical suffering, and death of Christ. They claimed that an apparition or the mere appearance of the perfect Christ appeared on earth.

For one example, we will consider the false teacher Basilides. The second century Christian Irenaeus testifies of his false doctrine, which insinuates that Christ did not really suffer and die for the world.

“He [Jesus] appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and wrought miracles. Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead ; so that this latter [Simon] being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them. For since he was an incorporeal power, and the Nous (mind) of the unborn father, he transfigured himself as he pleased, and thus ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to all… it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world… 5. Salvation belongs to the soul alone, for the body is by nature subject to corruption” (Irenaeus, Adv. Her., 1.24.3-5; emphasis mine throughout).

The Gnostic heretics did not always deny that Christ experienced some sort of resurrection or transfiguration, that He ascended into Heaven, and that He lives forever. They denied that He lived in a human body and suffered.

During His last Passover on earth, Jesus took bread and the fruit of the vine; he explained that they represented His body and His blood. This is a sober reminder that He actually came in a physical body and physically suffered for our sins.

Of all the feast days in the Bible, Passover is the ultimate refutation of Gnostic belief. No one can deny that He took physical items and used them as representations of His physical body/blood. Truly, no one can deny that He suffered those things for the sins of the whole world.

“Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:26)

For a Christian in the second century, Passover was a reminder that the Word of God who became flesh triumphs over all heresy. In His suffering He gave us the victory. This is one historical reason why the Passover was instituted by Jesus and the early disciples.

Truly the Lord knows better than we do!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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