Biblical Parameters for Life
Hebrews Lesson #085
April 12, 2007
NKJ 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
In our study of Hebrews 7 we have come down to the last three verses in the chapter which brings up a very interesting theological debate that has gone on down through the centuries. Primarily we ought to just look at 8, 9, and 10. In this case…
NKJ Hebrews 7:8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.
Here is the key verse…
NKJ Hebrews 7:9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak,
NKJ Hebrews 7:10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
That (father) would be Abraham.
Now the issue here is how we understand this phrase, “He was still in the loins of his father Abraham.” In one sense this is taken by a lot of people rather literally that through the progenitor all the descendants are literally, fully, actually within them seminally. That is the position that is taught. That is the correct term for it - seminalism. There are two views that theologians have developed for understanding the relationship of the members of the human race to Abraham. One is a seminal relationship which is purely physical. The other is federal – that Adam is our federal head. Those two positions we are not getting into yet because they are also related to two other positions. One is called creationism and the other Traducianism. That has to do with the origin of the soul.
These two issues and 4 positions are all related. Now down through the ages theologians have tended to chose sides – one or the other. I am of the opinion (because there is a lot of Scripture you can go to to support both) that in some senses they are all true. We are going to work through that in the next few weeks as we go through this to try understand the ways in which the seminal position is true and the ways in which the federal position are true and the ways in which the creationist view is true and the way the traducianist position is true. The bottom line is that you have certain aspects of the human being that are passed down physically through procreation. And you have other aspects which are immaterial. The soul is immaterial. It is important to understand the distinction here as well as the influence of external philosophy on this whole debate because that does have a particular and significant role. We’ll get into that maybe a little bit tonight.
So let’s start off where we were last time to pick up the definitions. There are two views on the origin of the soul.
As a matter of fact, I brought with me tonight the January-February 2007 issue of Israel My Glory. In the January-February issue and then again in the March-April issue there are two parts actually of a series on the morality of God under the heading “The Foundations of Faith” by Dr. Renald Showers. Dr. Showers has his doctorate from Dallas Seminary. I have read a number of his books over the years and they are very well done. He is a very meticulous researcher- thinker. His theology is very sound in most areas. He began in the January-February edition in part 9 of this series on this great controversy on the origin of the soul. It is a two-page article on pages 36 and 37. He gives an introduction, as I did last time. I talked about how this debate as to the origin of the soul relates to and is usually correlated to the abortion controversy. He takes the first page to deal with that. Then he takes (and each page has three columns as you can maybe see) 1-2/3 columns to introduce the issue of the origin of the soul and that first theory that I dealt with last week briefly on the preexistence theory of the soul which comes out of a Greek philosophical background - mostly a platonic background. The view is consistent with reincarnation. It did have a slight acceptance among some in the early church, but it was negligible. Then he gave basically one column (because it is about 70% of one column and 40% of another column) to the creationist view. I felt when I read that that he just didn’t understand the theory in the best articulation and he didn’t present it honestly and accurately. He ignored a tremendous amount of data that has been utilized over the centuries.
I find this to be typical of conservative evangelicals ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973. There were at the time of Roe v. Wade (I know that Bruce Waltke who was the chairman of the Old Testament Department of Dallas Seminary did a flip-flop. Bruce has done flip-flops on I don’t know how many of his theologies over the years, but he was dispensational back then. He is covenant reformed now. He changed a lot of positions. He is a great grammarian, but he is not the best theologian) a lot of theologians who did that. There were a lot of people who did that between the 60s and the 70s because they assumed that a creationist position on the origin of the soul – that is that God directly creates and simultaneously imparts the soul to each baby at birth and that it comes through that initial breathe. A lot of people took that and thought it automatically meant that abortion was legitimate. They knew that historically the church had always been against abortion despite the position. But, they just automatically assumed that. Still today you will run into many people who think that it is an automatic, necessary conclusion from a creationist position. It is not an automatic, necessary conclusion. In fact I think it is an inconsistent conclusion from a creationist position. A creationist position I think is what the Scriptures clearly teach. But to go to the next step to say that it means that all abortion is okay is a total leap because of the fact that other aspects of Scripture. We will get into that as we go through this. I just want to point that out.
He does a good job of pointing out the three basic questions that have to be addressed if you are going to handle or present a consistent view of the creationist position.
First, it does not explain the biblical teaching that all human beings sinned in Adam. Second (he says, and we will deal with each of these.) the creation theory there is no explanation of the sinful nature of all human beings from the time of their conception. (It does. That has been clearly articulated by numerous theologians. He doesn’t like it) Third the creation theory finds it difficult to explain the fact that children often inherit the intellect and character of their parents.
That is explained also. We will deal with each one of those. I just found it odd that when you get into the next issue he uses all 6 columns and three pages to present the Traducianist view. He only presents a column to present the creationist view - 90% of that is the flaws that he sees with the creation view. So, he doesn’t do an adequate job of presenting it.
Well, we have used the two key terms – Traducianism and creationism. We will review them again for you.
Traducianism is from the Latin word traducere which means to transfer. It is the view in theology that teaches that both the material body and the immaterial soul are transmitted through physical procreation. Actually I shouldn’t have immaterial soul there even though later theologians up into the Reformation period up into the present would try to treat the soul immaterially. The reality is that this view was originated by Tertullian in the second to third century (AD). Tertullian understood the soul to be material. So one of the major weaknesses with the Traducianist view which has not been explained is how the immaterial get transmitted by the material. That is not particularly dealt with along with another number of important scriptural exegetical issues which we will deal with.
The other view that goes back equally as far (in fact it is the view that was there when Tertullian introduced the Traducianist theory) and that was the creationist view that taught that the body was generated physically through the physical act of procreation but the soul of each person is created directly by God and is imparted simultaneous at the birth of each baby as indicated by taking a breath. This is held by numerous people - Jerome who translated the Vulgate, Thomas Aquinas who is considered the angelic doctor (He is the theologian for the Roman Catholic Church coming out of the Middle Ages), John Calvin, Charles Hodge, contemporary theologian was Louis Burkhoff all held to a creationist view. These are not intellectual lightweights by the way or theological lightweights. They are very adept in what they presented.
Aquinas in fact said, “Traducianism is heresy – to think that the soul was transmitted through the semen.”
So how do we understand this? We have to build our case slowly, gradually from Scripture and not jump to conclusions that aren’t in evidence at the beginning. So let’s take it very cautiously and slowly as we go through this.
First off we have to start with the creation of man in original formation which takes place in Genesis 2:7. There we read…
NKJ Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
This would be the chemicals in the soil. He takes the earth and he begins to form man from the earth.
That always reminds me of one of my favorite little stories about some evolutionists who finally got to the point where they could create life in the laboratory.
So they said, “Well, we don’t need God anymore. We have proof that God is unnecessary so we are going to tell God that He is unnecessary and He is worthless. We can do it all ourselves and we don’t need Him.”
So they challenged God and God came out and said, “Okay. I will take up your challenge. We will see what you can do. We will have a contest and you can go first. I will be a gentleman and you can go first. You create life.”
So the scientist said, “Okay. That sounds fine. I appreciate the opportunity.”
So he leaned over and picked up some dirt.
God said, “No, no, no. You have to create your own dirt.”
God originally created the chemicals of the soil. Remember that? So it is from the chemicals of the soil now that God is going to form the physical body of man. Now this is why this whole issue of Platonism comes into play. The problem that you have that comes out of the influence of Platonism is this issue between matter and the immaterial or as Plato put it – between the ideas and the forms.
He had a great cave illustration that everybody is in a cave. You remember when you were kids and you would have real bright light or somebody would hold up a flashlight and turn the lights off in your bedroom and you would hold up your fingers and you would make a shadow image of a dog or a rabbit or something like that. That would go up in the wall. Well, Plato’s view of knowledge was that all you and I ever see are the shadows on the wall. That’s it. We don’t see the thing that actually makes the image. That is what he would call the form – the form or the ideal. That’s not in the physical creation.
Down here in a lower story - he has this dichotomy in the way he views reality. Down below what you have is matter. The form or the ideal is pure and it is good, but matter is inherently evil. Everything that is of real value has to do with the pure, the good, the form, the ideal. This is where you have the realm of spirit. Down here of course is where you have the realm of body.
Only the philosophers ever got enough information to come up out of the cave and see ultimate reality – the ideas, the forms.
This came over into the early church. Up here, this was changed to grace. This is the realm where God operates. Down below it is matter or nature. As Christians they knew that creation itself wasn’t evil. But, it wasn’t important. When you get into the effect of neo-Platonism on Christianity, they dump the ideas that it is evil; but it is just not important. What is really important is what goes on up here in the realm of spirit and soul.
Now I am not going to embarrass anybody here because I think everybody would answer the question the same way.
But, most of us have heard people teach about the soul and say, “The soul is the real you.”
Right? The soul is the real you. How platonic! The body isn’t important. Do you hear that? If the soul is the real you, the body is irrelevant. It is just dirt, dust and chemicals. It is not significant. That is purely a neo-platonic idea of life.
Here is a principle- the body is just as important as the soul.
We studied this earlier in Hebrews when Jesus Christ says to the Father, “A body you have prepared for Me.”
Now think about this a little bit. God the Father is sitting there – let’s say a day or two before Genesis 2:7. He is sitting there up on His throne and He has got His head down in His hand like The Thinker. I am being a little anthropocentric here (or a little anthropomorphic). He is thinking about this.
He says, “Hum. One day I am going to have to take My essence (that is spirit in terms of the Second Person of the Trinity) and I am going to have to get all scrunched down and put Myself into this body, this creature I am about to create. So I have to design a physical body that is the best expression possible that I can have to express all that I am in My infinite being and as a spirit.”
So He doesn’t just come up with some idea and say, “Oh. Bipedal humanoid. What a great idea. Let’s give that a shot.”
This is well thought out.
God is saying, “Of all the possible ways in which we can create this body.”
Just think about some of the different ideas that human have come up with. Think about that famous bar scene in the first Star Wars movie that had all those different creatures in there or some of the Star Trek shows where they have all the different Klingons, and Romulans and all these different creatures - trivets or whatever they were. You had all these different bodies, all these different options and God in His infinite omniscience would know all of the variables.
So He says, “I am going to pick a finite physical body that is going to be the home for the Second Person of the Trinity whose job it is to reveal Me and to display who I am within this physical body.”
So this physical body is not an afterthought. It is not something that is just a home for the soul. It is as important and as significant as the soul. There is no time your soul doesn’t operate without a body. You have got a physical body now. Based on Luke 16 there is going to be some sort of interim body between now and the future. Otherwise how is the soul going to see? How is the soul going to hear? At physical death when the soul is separated from the physical body, how is the soul going to hear, see, experience anything? The soul has to have a physical body in order to receive any sensory data – seeing, hearing, tasting, anything. It has to come through a physical body. So a physical body is just as important.
That is what was missing from a tremendous amount of theology in the Middle Ages because they tended to denigrate the significance of anything physical due to this influence of neo-platonic thought. It denigrated marriage. It denigrated sex. It denigrates food and pleasure and all of these other things. That is why the people who were the real spiritual people were the monks (the monastics) who were operating up here where they are living off in their monastic community where all the emphasis is on the spirit and soul development. We are not going to eat a whole lot. We are not going to drink a whole lot although they did develop some very fine beers in the Middle Ages in the monasteries. In fact the current issue of Christian History is devoted to monastic spirituality, which is another whole rabbit trail that I could go down. It is coming in Gang Busters.
Let me just get off on this a minute. If you haven’t noticed this, the trend for the last 20 years among evangelicals has been to go back to a Middle Ages, Roman Catholic contemplative form of spirituality. Asceticism, monasticism, going back - in fact they don’t call them initiates because that would have to be someone who was becoming a Benedictine monk. But they have according to this issue in Christian History the lay people who can associate themselves with a monastery. A large number of people who are associating (I don’t mean 1 or 2%, probably 10-15%) with monasteries today are protestants. We are on our way back to Rome, folks. In fact, this morning (I haven’t had time to go back and investigate the whole thing) I got an email from Charlie Clough. It was a forward from an email from Tommy Ice. We all spend a lot of time together.
Tommy was writing this email to Charlie saying, “I know you like to read Charles Colson.”
Many of you have heard Charlie reference Charles Colson. Chuck Colson was a lawyer. He was in the Nixon White House. He was guilty of various crimes of Watergate. He was sent to prison. He trusted Christ as a Savior and since then developed this huge national prison ministry. He has written a number of books and he has a number of valuable insights. It also has a number of flaws. It turns out that Chuck Colson has been promoting the writings of a man named Henry Nouwen. He is one of these contemporary contemplative mystic types. He (Henry Nouwen does) also promotes the works of an earlier writer named Thomas Merton who was into all this New Age type of mystical spirituality. This is coming on big time today.
Now let me connect some of these dots for you. There is another big name today that is promoting these same two people – Henry Nouwen and Thomas Merton. That’s Rick Warren of the Purpose Driven Life and the Purpose Driven Church. We are going to have a mystic driven spiritual life.
That connects to the core things we were studying the last several weeks on Sunday morning on worship in evaluating the claims of contemporary Christian music and contemporary Christian worship movement. Their core understanding of worship is subjectivity. It is a certain mindset. The music and the words are designed to get you into a certain mindset. So we have to have these little praise courses because that helps get you into this particular mindset. That mindset is one that has affinity with the kind of mindset that is defined as worshipful and spiritual in this contemplative spirituality movement that goes back to the medieval mystics and ascetics and the pillar saints and all these other things, stuff that went on in the Middle Ages. We are going back to Rome folks in a big way. So you need to be aware of how these things connect.
Worship is not defined by a subjective mental attitude or mental state of some sort of ethereal lightweight happy mentality. When Jesus was angry at the moneychangers in the temple and threw them out, He was worshipping God. When they can factor that into their definition of Sunday morning worship, they might be getting somewhere biblically. Most of them don’t do that – that jars, that violates their whole concept of love and feel good, and let’s just be all emotional here. All of this goes back to these horrible ideas that came into the early church through platonic thought. It deemphasizes the physical, the material and nature. We saw that all the way through the Middle Ages how it impacted their art and how it impacted music. In art it was two dimensional. It tended to present people in an ideal manner. Pictures of people didn’t look like people. You couldn’t identify them as individuals. Once you had a shift towards the later Middle Ages—and that wasn’t due to getting back to the Bible—it was due to getting back to Aristotle. When they got back to Aristotle, Aristotle emphasized the particulars. It was Plato that emphasized the universals or the ideals.
How does this affect us? Well, the way it affected the whole idea of the origin of the soul and our understanding of the soul and the formation of the body is it puts the formation of the body of man from the dust of the ground…
“Well, that is kind of secondary. God is just doing that to get to the really important part of creating the soul.”
What I am telling you is they are both important. You never have human souls function without some kind of body.
Let’s go to Luke 16. What is interesting is in almost all these passages there have been so many changes and challenges and things in recent years that it boggles my mind compared to what I was taught and what I have concluded down through the last 30 years or so since I was in seminary.
NKJ Luke 16:19 " There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
He (the certain rich man) is unnamed.
NKJ Luke 16:20 "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
Now here is the first point. It starts like it might be a parable. There are a lot of people today who will tell you this as a parable. But, parables don’t name the individuals in them. Once they start getting named, they are talking about real people. Remember the parable of the prodigal son. You had a certain man and he had two sons. Nobody has got a name. They are parables. This is not a parable. This is treated as a real event that is taking place outside the range of our empirical faculties.
NKJ Luke 16:21 "desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
This is a pathetic sight of this homeless guy outside of the rich man’s house.
NKJ Luke 16:22 "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
There is a doctrine there that the angels come and escort our souls into the presence of God. Abraham’s bosom was also paradise. This is the place where believers before Christ died on the cross - where Old Testament saints went – sort of a holding place until sin was actually paid for and the opening to heaven was made by Christ’s death on the cross.
NKJ Luke 16:23 "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Now throughout the Old Testament these are real places. So this isn’t just parabolic.
“He” means the rich man.
You are not in torment if there is not some sort of nervous system that can telegraph pain to the soul. He is in torment and he saw. There has to be some sort of faculty for seeing. He can’t be some disembodied soul like Casper the Ghost floating through the air or some of those whatever they were protoplasmic things in Ghostbusters. There is some sort of interim body there. It might not be like our physical material body that we have today, but it is some sort of body.
NKJ Luke 16:24 "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'
He has to have a mouth and a tongue to cry out.
Dip what? The tip of his finger. If he is just a disembodied soul, there is no finger to dip.
That tells us that both the unbeliever (the rich guy) and Lazarus have some sort of body. They are not just disembodied souls. There is some area in which they feel pleasure and pain. The rich man is feeling tremendous amount of heat-type of pain. He desperately wants to be cooled off. He wants water dropped off on his tongue.
NKJ Luke 16:25 "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
Abraham says that it isn’t going to work. The great point of this is that the rich man wants Lazarus to go back to his brothers and tell them what is going to happen to them. If he rose from the dead and went back and told them about all that happened and gave them a message from me, then they would believe. Abraham says in verse 29…
NKJ Luke 16:29 "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'
They have Moses and the prophets. If they don’t believe them, they won’t believe Lazarus. That is a fabulous passage because what that is saying is that the testimony of the Word of God is equal to if not superior to any empirical or rational data that you can come up with to try to convince somebody of the truth of Scripture. The Scripture is self-authenticating. It is the final authority. If they won’t believe the Scripture, they won’t believe anything else.
The point that we are getting out of all this is that there is no time when there is not some sort of body to house the soul. The idea that bodies are insignificant, secondary, not important - real you is your soul comes out of the influence of Platonism and neo-Platonism on Christianity. Both are important. God spends a tremendous amount of time talking about this.
Jesus says, “A body you have prepared for Me.”
So the body is important.
The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground. The word there for form is the Hebrew word jatsar which means to shape or mold as a potter shapes clay into some sort of instrument.
NKJ Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
What is interesting here is that the word for breath is this word neshamah. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul at that particular point.
Now I will come back and talk about some of those other terms later on, but right now I want to talk about the importance of breath. It is when God breathes into the physical body that the physical body comes alive. That is when you have the soul (the immaterial part of man) introduced into the physical body. It is at that point that it becomes a genuine, living, fully human person. But, let’s just take an example here. If you were to come up before God breathe into Adam’s body and you were to take a machete and chop off the head, would you be guilty of murder? No, because the soul is not there yet. Is that the right thing to do? No, that is not the right thing to do. The purpose of this is to create a human being who is going to be in the image and likeness of God. The body is just as much a significant part of what is being developed as the soul. They haven’t come together yet to be a full human being, but they are both important. It is vital for us to understand some things about just when the Bible talks about life beginning.
I have entitled this lesson The Biblical Parameters of Life. In the process of doing some research on this I’ve gone back through this whole topic numerous times over the last 20 years and changed my views considerably over time. There are some things that are not pointed out by just about anybody. Not that I am patting myself on the back, but it just seems like in so many areas we just jump to comfortable conclusions without evaluating all the data.
In Job 1:21, Job says…
NKJ Job 1:21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
There is a lot about this verse that we could go into but the main thing that we want to look at is that Job recognizes that the Lord is the one who gives him life. That life includes his physical life as well as his soul life - both the body and the soul.
When he says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,” there is a technical phrase there in the Hebrew that we will look at in just a minute.
The emphasis is not on “naked I arrived in the womb”. I want you to pay attention to this because it is one of the most important things that you will find and I don’t know that it is in print anywhere. That is that the Bible never ever puts the parameters of life at conception and death. I am going to document that later on. Watch this. The Bible always puts the parameters between birth and death. It never ever (The vocabulary is there in the Hebrew) puts the parameters at conception - not once. This is just one place that you see that.
He is talking about the beginning of life is at birth.
When he says, “The Lord gave,” that is in parallelism to what he has just said in the previous phrase. So it is the Lord that is behind and is the one who is indirectly involved in that birth process and in the death process.
That is all we will say about Job 1:21 right now, but we will come back to it a little later on. The important phrase that we have here is one that shows up a little later on and I will talk about a little later on.
The word for womb in the Hebrew is beten; the preposition is min. When it comes before a consonant it drops the “n” so it would be mibeten. It means from the womb. Now we talked about this preposition. It works the same way in Hebrew.
Sometimes the word from is… for example I could say, “I moved back to Houston from Connecticut.”
If I talk about it that way, then it clearly says that I was in Connecticut. But when Jesus prays for the disciples to be kept from the evil one, there is no indication that they are ever in the evil one. Okay? So it has these two different nuances. That becomes important in a study we did not that long ago on Sunday morning in another passage in Revelation 3:10.
So why don’t you turn over there. I am not going to do a detailed exegesis of this verse. The causal clause at the beginning of verse 10 belongs to verse 9. There are technical syntactical reasons for that. Unfortunately the verse was divided here, but the standard practice in Greek is not to begin a sentence with because. If you want to get the details of that go back and listen to the tape where I went through it in detail. So the sentence actually begins, I will also in addition to other things…
NKJ Revelation 3:10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
The hour of testing is a technical for the tribulation. Keeping you from the hour of testing is the Greek preposition ek which is parallel to the Greek preposition min. It is clear that it means that they are never in the hour of testing. They are kept from ever going into it. So if we were to diagram this in a chart we would do it something like this…
Sometimes “from” is inside the circle as in the phrase “I moved here from Connecticut.”
But in most cases - Jeff Townsend documents this in a totally unrelated subject to the one we are studying when he wrote an article in Bibliotheca Sacra back in the early 80’s on Revelation 3:10 that the vast majority of uses in the New Testament - “from” is not ever entering into. It doesn’t involve being in this place. It is talking about exiting or being outside of it. The starting point is outside of the circle.
The reason this is important is this phrase that I am looking at mibeten is a Hebrew idiom for birth. In fact, I did a search through Logos on the English phrase “from birth” in the New American Standard and came out with about 9 hits. In the Old Testament every time you have the phrase that is translated in the English “from birth” it is always mibeten or mirecham which is the parallel term. It is a synonym for the womb as well. We will get into that in a minute. So this phrase “coming from my mother’s womb” is consistently treated by translators as an idiom for “from birth”. It doesn’t mean inside the womb. It means from the time of birth.
So, Job is saying, “Naked I came from birth and naked I will return”.
He is focusing on birth and death as the parameters of life.
In Job 33:4, Job says...
NKJ Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
This is not the technical word bara. Now there is a lot of debate over the meaning of these three different Hebrew words for create – bara, asah, and jatsar. I have already talked about jatsar. Bara is the word that is used in Genesis 1:1.
NKJ Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The unique thing about bara is the only person who baras anything is God. God is the only subject of that verb – anywhere in Scripture. So only God can create, bara. Thus we see as a secondary meaning, not the core meaning, ex nihilo creation in some places.
So here when Job says, “The spirit of God has made me”, this is a more generic term and could imply some other things.
Then in parallelism it says…
The word for Spirit there is ruach. That is the word that we have for breath back in Genesis.
“The breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
So what Job is saying here is that it is not just Adam. See that is what the traducianist will argue – when you go to Genesis 2:7 that is just how it got started. That is the only time there is this breathing of God that creates life or imparts the soul.
But Job says that too. Isaiah is going to say that as well. There are numerous passages that say that.
Full life is related to breathing which begins at birth.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 is another crucial passage to look at here. The writer of Ecclesiastes says…
NKJ Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
Then is the time of death.
That is the physical body decomposes.
The word for spirit in the Hebrew is ruach – for Holy Spirit, for wind, for breath. It has a variety of meanings just like pneuma in the New Testament. It can mean breath, but it also refers to in this context it has to refer to the immaterial part of man. You have a material part that decomposes in the grave. You have an immaterial part and it goes to God. There is a connection between the fact that the immaterial part is called ruach meaning breath or wind and the fact that it is related to the neshamah, the breath of God. They work together. They are parallel and correlated concepts. So you have two processes - a physical process which generates physical life and an immaterial process that generates the soul life.
Now another thing just so we don’t get too confused here. There are three parts to the human makeup we say. We go to passages - I Thessalonians 3, Hebrews 4:12, where there is a distinction between body soul and spirit. But these words for soul and for spirit are not always used in that technical sense. Sometimes they are used interchangeably and they both can refer, either one can refer to the immaterial part of man. We talk about the spirit of pharaoh (the ruach of pharaoh) in the Old Testament. He is not saved, but he has this immaterial part. So the ruach of man is just a term, a generic term, non-technical term - for the immaterial part of man. It doesn’t always refer to what we would refer to in another context, to the human spirit meaning that part of man’s immaterial nature that he receives at regeneration, the natural man (the soulish man) of 1 Corinthians 2:14 and Jude 9 (something like that. I am not sure of the passage) do not have. So the term spirit is also applied in a technical sense to that element that was lost in spiritual death and gained in regeneration. Here it is a non-technical use of the word. Context dictates.
Isaiah 2:22 is another passage that emphasizes the importance of breath.
NKJ Isaiah 2:22 Sever yourselves from such a man, Whose breath is in his nostrils; For of what account is he?
It is an emphasis on breathing as crucial to presence of soul life.
NKJ Isaiah 42:5 Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk on it:
Somebody was asking me a question about this the other day. When you have the LORD that indicates that the Hebrew behind it is YHWH, the sacred Tetragrammaton. When you have lower case like God, it is Elohim. Sometimes you will have GOD and Lord. That will mean that God is a term that they are using to translate YHWH and lower case Lord would be Adonai. So sometimes you have YHWH Adonai. So they would translate that Lord God. That is just a typical style feature of most Bibles.
Who what? Who gives breath? You see this is ongoing action. It is not “who gave breath at the beginning of the process going with Adam and it continues”. He gives breath to the people on it, not to the singular person Adam, and the process got started which is what the Traducianists would want to argue. But He continues to give breath to the people on it and spirit (ruach) to those who walk on it.
You see where ruach is parallel to neshamah for breath. God is the one here who is being pictured as being directly or immediately involved in the process of bestowing the soul.
NKJ Isaiah 57:16 For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, And the souls which I have made.
He is talking about ruach. If He were really angry the spirit of man would fail.
It is a bad translation. It is not soul there. It is neshamah, the breaths which I have made. Again we see this parallel between spirit and neshamah.
So I have just gone through these passages to show that there are numerous passages after the creation that continue to talk about God imparting the souls through His breath. Breath is crucial to understanding the presence of life and the presence of soul life.
The next thing I want to look at as we go through this has to do with understanding when God imparts the soul and you have a complete full human being. Once again, we are going to deal with the parameters of life. The Bible presents these parameters from birth to death, not from conception to death. So we are just going to ratchet our argument up a little step and get into a key verse in Psalm 22:9-10.
He speaks to God.
NKJ Psalm 22:9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts.
NKJ Psalm 22:10 I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb You have been My God.
That is the word mirechem. Rechem is a word for the inner parts. Sometimes rechem is the source of compassion.
From my mother’s womb, mibeten. Those are the two words. We are going to see them in synonymous parallelism numerous times – rechem and beten - the womb. You see mirechem – mi is that Hebrew preposition min drops the “n” when it comes before a consonant. You see how the New American Standard translates it from birth. You see they understand it. You are putting in a passage that is at the core of the debate over this, they will translate it “from the womb”. But when you go to non-central passages all of a sudden they recognize that it is “from birth”. I am arguing for consistency here. So mirechem and mibeten both have that idea of from birth. So from the womb doesn’t mean in the womb. It means from the time the child comes out of the womb. You see this also in Psalm 58:3
NKJ Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.
That is they are fallen from the womb - mirechem.
“Those who speak lies” is in synonymous parallelism to the wicked. Go astray is synonymous parallelism to estranged. Go astray from birth is mibeten. So you see mibeten and mirechem are synonymous terms both indicating the concept from birth, not from conception.
Isaiah 46:3 is another key passage.
NKJ Isaiah 46:3 " Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb:
Born meaning carried.
You see not from conception. It is talking about the nation. When was the nation conceived? It doesn’t fit a parallel. You see it talks about birth, when it began. That is the beginning of the nation. It is not conception; it’s birth.
So those terms are used synonymously there– mibeten first and then mirechem in the second usage.
NKJ Job 1:21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
Mibeten – from my mother’s womb.
Job now begins to have a pity party after his suffering.
NKJ Job 3:11 "Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?
He says, “Why did I not die from birth.” Not conception - birth.
It is post birth, the beginning of life.
He says in Job 10:19…
NKJ Job 10:19 I would have been as though I had not been. I would have been carried from the womb to the grave.
So you see the argument here is that life begins at birth and ends with death. Those are the parameters. You don’t have a single place...
NKJ Isaiah 44:2 Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you: 'Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
NKJ Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
You see in the phrase “from birth”, you have a preposition from which in the Hebrew is min and the Greek is ek plus a noun. You have a noun. Here I have the verb jalad. You don’t have a noun related to it in Hebrew. You don’t. There is no noun. So you can’t say in Hebrew “from birth” because you have to have a preposition and a noun. You can’t have a prepositional phrase from birth because Hebrew has a verb for birth jalad but, it doesn’t have noun for birth. So you have to use an idiom or circumlocution to talk about from birth. This is why they use either the word mibeten or mirechem – from the womb. There was no possible way – no vocabulary, no tool to talk about from birth using a noun. It didn’t exist.
But you do have a verb harah which is the verb which means to conceive. It is used 52 times in the Scripture. You also have noun form which is present in numerous places in the Scripture. You can talk about “from conception”. So, if there is the vocabulary – there is the tool to talk about “from conception” - why does the author always use the mibeten or mirechem? Because, he is not talking about from conception. He has the vocabulary tools to do it, but he never does. It is never from conception to the tomb. It is always from birth to the tomb. Those are the parameters. So that helps us understand I think something very important about the parameters of life.
I have brought this up in discussions and debates with other guys – guys who don’t agree with this. They just sit back and they are quiet. Usually we don’t come back to this discussion. I am not meaning that in the sense that… They have never heard it before and they don’t have an answer. I don’t know of anybody that has heard this that has had an answer. It surprises them. I have never found this to be developed in any literature in any pro or con either side of this discussion. I have never seen anybody either present it or adequately deal with it.
I think that was one example.
NKJ Genesis 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD."
There is the verb – and gave birth to Cain. So you have both conception and birth in that particular verse. So see these words were all there. So if the Old Testament is making a case that the parameters of life are from conception to death which is what every body argues in the abortion discussion, why is it that the Bible never ever ever sets conception as the parameter? It just isn’t there.
The big question is so what actual impact does this have on the abortion debate? We will get there because there is a lot more on both sides of this to cover than we can possibly cover tonight. So we will come back the next class. We will review this again.