Monthly letter archive

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442

Hollister, California 95024-1442


Fred R. Coulter, Minister

May 12, 2005

Dear Brethren,

From all the e-mails, letters and reports we have received, it is apparent that God blessed everyone with a meaningful and inspiring Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.  During the week of Unleavened Bread, on Tuesday, I traveled to Boise, Idaho. Bill Scherer met me at the airport Holiday Inn and after visiting Richard Fisher, who is recovering from an accident, we gathered for a special and very inspiring Bible study at Marge Sharver’s home.  It was great to see the brethren there because Boise was the first (WCG) church that I pastored beginning in May 1965.  Also, we were able to visit with Ruth Kennedy, who I first met 40 years ago.  She is now over 96 years of age, still lives in her own house and fully takes care of herself.

On Wednesday I flew to Salt Lake City, Utah.  Bob Jacobson met me, and we visited 84-year old Marie Riley, who I had also met and baptized 40 years ago.  For the past two years she has been living in an assisted-living care facility, which is near the airport.  However, just over a month ago she had a massive stroke that left her unable to talk and barely able to move.  Although she could not talk, I could tell that she recognized me because when I squeezed her hand, she responded by squeezing back.  That night we had a wonderful Bible study with 17 brethren at the Jacobson home.  On Thursday morning at about 8:30, Bob took me to the airport.  After getting checked in and inspected from head to toe, I began to wait for my flight to Phoenix.  At about 9:30 I was paged over the airport paging system.  When I got to the phone, Bob was on the other end.  He told me that Marie’s caregiver had called and informed him that Marie died at 4:00 in the morning.  Because of her condition, we knew that she did not have long to live, but I was happy that I was able to see her the day before she died. I immediately called Dolores to tell her about the trip and Marie’s death.

While at the airport I made another call to Virginia Moeglin (Meg), who was in a hospital in Reno, Nevada.  In her early 80’s, she suffers from a severe terminal condition of blood clots in her heart.  I was happy to be able to talk with her and though she was very weak, she appreciated the flowers that we sent to her.  She realized that her life in the flesh was coming to an end, but she was looking forward to the resurrection and to being on the Sea of Glass with all the saints when Jesus returns.  I told her, “Meg, I’ll see you there.”   She died on Sunday evening, May 1.

What a wonderful blessing it is to have the opportunity to serve brethren who are faithful to love God the Father to the very end as Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end, the same shall be saved.”  That is the goal of our lives—to be faithful unto death.  Very few in the world truly understand this. However, God reveals that He views death far differently than men do: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints …. The righteous has hope in his death.” And again, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” And again, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.  He shall enter into peace: they shall rest…” (Psa. 116:15, Pro. 14:32, Rev. 2:10 and Isa. 57:1-2).

Marie and Virginia fought the good fight, finished their course and kept the faith. They passed their final exam—death. From this time forward, a crown of righteousness is laid up for them, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will give to them at the resurrection—and also “to all who love His appearing.”

When I got to Phoenix, Leon Ritchie met me at the airport and took me to the Hilton Garden Inn in Scottsdale.  Although Leon had many obstacles to overcome to find a meeting place for the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with God’s help, he did an exceptional job.  We had nearly 100 brethren in attendance for morning and afternoon services and an excellent meal between services.

In all three locations I gave a special Bible study/sermon The Mystery of Godliness for You.  The Scottsdale sermon is included in this mailing.  While you will not find one scripture that you have not heard before, you will discover the profound reality of God the Father and Jesus Christ’s calling, and how they are personally involved in our lives.  Moreover, you will learn how important the Scriptures truly are because every word is God-breathed from the Father!  The Scriptures are the Father’s words, and He Himself is teaching us through His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit (John 6:44-45).  Remember, the greatest work of God is the work that He is doing in each one of our lives so that we can develop godly character for eternal life. The mystery is this: We are being converted from being sinners to being righteous, from being evil to being perfect (Matt. 5:48)—  the mystery of godliness for you!

Book Review of The New Testament

In Its Original Order

The New Testament In Its Original Order—A Faithful Version With Commentary received a very positive review in the April-June 2005 Bible Editions and Versions.  The entire review written by Dan Decker (bold type added) follows:

“This large, attractive, hardbound book, about the size of a big-city phone directory, is about one-third Biblical text with the rest introductory information, commentary and appendices.  Also distinctive as the translator tells us: ‘This translation has retained the original placement of the books of the New Testament that is reflected in the Byzantine Text.  The complete order is as follows: The Four Gospels, Acts, The Seven General Epistles, Paul’s Epistles to the Churches, Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews, Paul’s Pastoral Epistles, and Revelation.’  The Greek text used as a basis is the Stephens 1550 Greek New Testament, which was also the basis of the 1557 Geneva Bible.

“There is a clear conservative bias in the commentary.  This bias is also indicated in a private correspondence with this reviewer, where he writes: ‘The main purpose of this new translation is to combat the tidal wave of new translations that destroys the true meaning of the Word of God.  Because there is so much confusion in the “Christian” community today, we felt that it was necessary to include the commentaries and appendices along with the New Testament translation in one volume.  We did this because we wanted to restore the New Testament and its teachings back to the times of Jesus and the apostles, instead of viewing it through the lens of later historical interpretations and questionable orthodox traditions that originated three to fifteen hundred years later.  This way we are able to present the original meaning and teachings of the New Testament divorced from the standard Catholic and Protestant traditions.’

“The book’s introductory material had a detailed and scholarly explanation of the translation of Greek verbs, which is most informative.  Moreover, there are two delightful facsimiles of the title page, and the first page of the Gospel of John, from the Stephens Greek Text of 1550.

“The volume is divided into four parts, each consisting of several chapters.  Part one, ‘About the New Testament,’ consists of eight chapters on topics such as when the New Testament was written, canonization, and a tribute to William Tyndale.  Part two, ‘History and Preservation of the Bible,’ is largely about the preservation and authority of the text. Part three is a translation of the New Testament.  And, part four consists of twenty-four appendices, dealing with doctrine and historical data.

“The reader will find this translation very similar to the King James Version, using ‘begats’ and italicizing words supplied by the translators.  However, there are not the ‘thee’s’ and the ‘thou’s,’ as in the KJV.  There are cross-references in center columns of each page, and also explanatory information, by which a star in the text alerts the reader. While not recommending this work for its commentary, this reviewer finds it an excellent translation for those desiring a literal one”—Dan Decker

Letters about the New Testament

and The Day Jesus the Christ Died

To Whom It May Concern:

I have so enjoyed The New Testament In Its Original Order (from the Stephens Text 1550) written by Fred C. Coulter and The Christian Passover by the same.  He writes very informatively, with much detail and Scriptural backup, but also easy to understand, even for a beginner (in the subject).

I have been a Christian for almost 50 years and yet never have studied the Jewish Feasts, Passover in particular, nor understood much about the Sabbath.  As a result of studying these books, I feel now I have a grasp of the incredible significance and importance of keeping Sabbath, the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bred, etc.  I differ with Fred Coulter in a couple of areas, but that doesn’t take away from the wonderful blessings I have received from these books.

When I called and asked how much the books were, I was told (I believe by Kimberly) that if I wanted to, I could send a donation.  I appreciate that approach so much.  We also have a ministry (focusing on the practical application of the Christian walk) so I know how difficult it is to find the balance between giving books away and getting enough income to keep the ministry going.  I believe God is pleased when we do it as you did and He will see to it that the income follows.  Please find a donation check enclosed and one of our newest books.


 NM, King’s High Way Ministries

Dear Fred,

Thanks for coming up to Seattle to see us.  It’s always nice to see you.  I am hoping I will be able to come down to your area this year, but it depends on selling my house…

Fred, I know I haven’t written to tell you how much I value and appreciate your New Testament translation, but I read it every day and I am getting so much out of it.  The clarity and readability are amazing.  I know you agonized over every single word and it really shows. It is a beautiful book and reflects your commitment to the truth of God.  I have enclosed a sheet with a few possible corrections that you can review.  Best wishes to you and Dolores.



Dear Bro. Fred Coulter,

Hello.  I enjoyed the book called, “The Day Jesus the Christ Died.”  After I received the free book last year, I read it over and over.  It touched my heart to understand more clearly about the Christ who died that day.  I agreed and believed that these words were spoken of the truth by the name of Jesus Christ.

Yesterday, I was shocked and surprised that I got another free book called, The New Testament In Its Original Order: A Faithful Version With Commentary.  I overviewed the pages beginning with what you wrote about the explanation of the original Greek language and the other issues in the book.  I really enjoyed and read and understood it more and more.  I want to thank you for sending these wonderful books.  I am pleased to read and to learn from God’s Word.  I want to learn more and more about Jesus Christ.  I know that God will direct me in the right way of finding the right answers in my life for the future.  I can show and prove to the deaf people like me to believe in God’s True Word in the original languages.  May God help you to write more books. … God bless you and your church.  I will pray for you as you will pray for me to seek more of the truth in God’s Word. 

Yours truly in Christ,

EVB, Fl.

Dear Fred,

I truly appreciate all the work that the CBCG is doing.  The Day Jesus the Christ Died is truly a phenomenal book.  I am reading it slowly so I can really grasp what was written.  I have always taken the Passover seriously, but this book has given me a much deeper appreciation for what Jesus Christ did for us.

You wrote about the wonderful moment when Jesus first went to present Himself to His Father after He was resurrected.  I have also thought about the time just before Jesus was made a pinpoint of life and was impregnated in Mary. I think it was very hard for both God the Father and Jesus Christ to be separated, even knowing why it was necessary.  It must have been very emotional for them.  This book has done something else for me.  As I read it I can visualize everything that happened that day.  I have read these scriptures over and over, but now the picture is very clear.  Thank you for this book.  May God bless you and this work and bless and protect us all in these dangerous times.


 JG, Texas

 Dear Mr. Coulter,

A short time ago I came across your web sites and have been reading and listening to what is there and thanking God that FINALLY I have found where God’s truth was being proclaimed.  In 1970 my wife and I became affiliated with the WCG.  However, since the D & R was in effect at the time, we had to give you our marriage before we could be baptized.  Several years later when it was rescinded we were able to get together again and because of this trial, we had an even more wonderful marriage until she died very unexpectedly while we were attending the FoT at Pocono Mountains  in 1987.  I continued in the church until it got so bad that I couldn’t take it any longer.  Then I was introduced to the PCG, and for reasons I’m not sure of it was short lived.

I received The Day Jesus the Christ Died and The Harmony of the Gospels for which I thank you very much.  I would like to be on your mailing list and any information regarding a fellowship group in my area.  I am now 84, retired and “enjoying” some of the limitations that come with getting old, but am so thankful to our Great God that He has blessed me in so many ways.

The enclosed check is for tithes and offerings that I have been setting aside until God would lead me to where they would be used to help proclaim His truth.

Thank you for being there,

RS, Texas

Dear Fred,

First of all, many thanks to you and the Burrows for the wonderful Passover Promise coloring books!  We spent about 3 hours last evening reading and going over them with our children.  We all enjoyed it very much.  The kids thought it was great to see pictures on every page.  It was nice to see the Passover shown in a family setting, as we kept it that way last year.  We think it is important for the children to grow up seeing, hearing and knowing what it is all about.  It was so wonderful and refreshing to finally be able to read a Bible Story that is biblically accurate, so we didn’t have to stop and change anything in order to correct it!

Perhaps you could put the coloring books on the website as a PDF file so people could print them out and make their own books for their children and save you printing and mailing costs.  You would be surprised how many Passover books (mostly from a Jewish perspective) and activity pages there are out there now …

Thanks for the Passover video.  Take care and may you all have a rich and meaningful Passover and Spring holy day season.

M & L D, Alaska

Comments from York Publishing Mailing

Originally, Dr. Ernest Martin worked with some other scholars who planned to produce The Original Bible Restored with a new translation.  After Dr. Martin’s passing and during the past ten years, very little progress was made toward that end.  Recently, we were able to get a small mailing list with names and addresses of some of the people who were associated with this project.  We sent a mailing to them through York Publishing advertising the book. We received a good response to our mailing.  Below are some of the comments we received from those who ordered the New Testament. (We included complimentary copies of The Day Jesus the Christ Died with the New Testament orders.)

Dear Mr. Coulter,

I am very happy to receive notice of the New Testament.  I have been waiting for quite a few years to see something in print.  Thank you so much.


Mr. Coulter,

We were so pleased to receive the letter yesterday.  We have been waiting for Dr. Tabor’s version all these years and were very pleased to hear about your version.  I don’t remember Dr. Martin talking about yours, we were very pleasantly surprised.  Please rush the books ASAP to the above address.  Thank you very much.

C & E S, Ohio

Dear Mr. Coulter,

I’m glad you did this.  We have been waiting for years.  Sorry Dr. Martin couldn’t finish his work—you did—great!

Dear Fred,

Greetings and thank you for the mailing about the New Testament.  I graduated from AC in 1968.  Served in the Washington DC area until the big split in 1973.  I left just before the split.  Our lives are so different than what we would ever have believed back then.  I look forward to TheNew Testament In Its Original Order.  I also appreciate the Harmony of the Gospels that you did in 1974.  Thank you.

Sincerely in His name,


From New Zealand

Warm greetings to you Fred and the brethren,

Passover preparation is our major concern, with your helpful counsel and care package, Steve and I will journey to Christchurch—arrange the baptism service for Lisa and gather the little group in Christchurch for Passover and the NTMO.  Then we will share the Sabbath and the first holy day together.

The group down there, on the south island, has never met together before, so we feel privileged to help in this new beginning.  Friends of ours from Perth (also in CBCG) will be traveling over to New Zealand to join us.  We will have the final 2 days of Unleavened Bread here in Waihi with Eileen and the Brown family who live about an hour away.  Eileen will be flying to Christchurch to be with us for the baptism and Passover, etc.

Although we are such a little group of God’s people, we do have a loving “family” relationship and all deeply appreciate your teaching ministry.  We are ever mindful of the gifts constantly coming our way through the generosity of the United States brethren, and assure you all, we are so grateful and share all you send to us with our brethren and many others who ask questions and show some interest here.  We are advertising the book The Day Jesus the Christ Died to coincide with the false hype of “Easter.”  Have a wonderful Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.

With warmest love,

Steve and Jenny Gough

Happy to Be Fellowshipping with Brethren Again

Dear Fred,

I am very pleased with your cassettes that you are sending and I am real happy with the local church in Bristol, Indiana.  You have a good way of expounding the Bible.  I am enclosing something to help in spreading the Gospel. 

I am looking forward to the spring Holy Days.  Everyone in our little church is so friendly, it is a joy to attend church.  I had no friends in LCG as all they wanted me to do was to warm a seat.

Sincerely yours,

May God bless you and all your staff.

AL, Indiana

Trouble in Making the Truth Known

Dear Mr. Coulter,

Three years ago in our little Bible Study group, I started to read from The Harmony of the Gospels when I was abruptly interrupted—just for wanting to read about the events that concerned the Passover.

I really stirred up a hornet’s nest.  Each time my husband and I shared in a Bible Study from CEM tapes, or Bible Correspondence lesson, we tried to stay with the Bible teachings.  We didn’t hear any complaints, but several in our group evidently thought we were preaching “Armstrongism.”  But when they had a presentation, they spliced together tapes from several Protestant ministers leaving us with a very empty feeling from those services. 

Then again this year, the 14/15 Passover problem came up again.  Last year the man who brought up this problem was called out of town, so we had it here in our home.  We’ve been with this group for 4 years and last month decided to send them a letter that we were no longer attending with them, as they seemed to be affiliating themselves more and more with Protestants.

So this year, in order to please both the 14th and 15th observers of Passover, they kept it on Friday and Saturday nights. Your research has really blessed us with a firm foundation and was very surprised to see the thick Passover book, plus the Ceremony booklets.  I really didn’t know that I had ordered them, but what a blessing.  Would you mind sending me more information about the CBCG.

God Bless,

A & K B, South Carolina

General Comments

Dear Fred,

I want to thank you and the brethren so very much for all the tapes and books you have sent.  Through them the Scriptures have opened up to me. I now see and feel the action as I read and study.  I understand more and more. It is no longer a duty, but a need to try and to be closer to God.  I feel His life and want to be more worthy of Him.  Each day I know how inadequate and unworthy of all He wants to give to us.  I know He loves me but can only give to the level that I can handle.  Thank you for helping me to comprehend how very much God loves me and those around me.

With love,

HC, Washington

Dear Fred,

Thank you and the brethren very much for your sermon tapes.  Especially the one on “Spiritual Strength in Time of Disaster.”  It will help us keep our focus on the big picture—total conversion, becoming more Christ-like;, keeping the two great commandments; expressing love toward the brethren; being pleasing to God through our conduct and staying the course come what may.  Thanks again for feeding the flock.


TF, Ohio

Attention: Fred Coulter

I really enjoy the sermon tapes that have been given to me.  We need the meat, especially in these last days.  Please put me on the mailing list and also send me a list of what you have available.  There are several I want to get.  Others have shared the tapes with me and I really want whatever you have.

Thanks so much for those sermons.  I have learned a lot from them.  I’ll be glad to get the first tape Care Package and to be on the regular mailing list.


 JA, California

 Hello Fred,

I hope that you and your family are well.  I would like to visit Sabbath services in my area.  Would you ask someone to call me so we can fellowship?  I am looking forward to seeing you in June … I am listening to the Revelation series now.  I have been in God’s Church for almost 18 years and I can’t believe how much I have learned since I have been receiving these tapes.  I thank God for this.  I had no idea how much I didn’t know.  That is so sad.  We are absolutely living in the Laodicean era, for lack of a better term.  There is still so much I need to learn.  Thank you, Fred and those helping you, for being a conduit for God to open my eyes.  Where I was attending I was not growing and learning.  But I really want to be where brethren actually discuss God’s word on the Sabbath.  I do not want to socialize or join a club.  I want to listen and to learn and grow in grace and knowledge. 

My husband of 25 years is not a church goer, never has been. However, he never asks me to turn off the tape player when he comes home from work or comes into the room where I am listening to the tapes.  He does encourage me and we never argue.  We have a blessed marriage.  Thank you once again.

Your sister in Christ,

K, New Hampshire

Dear Mr. Coulter,

Thank you again for the very helpful material you have diligently prepared to aid our study and understanding of God’s Word and His purpose for our existence and for all of humanity. 

Your books and tapes are an immense help and deeply appreciated.  As you correctly stated, “God’s word never gets old but it is continually new and refreshing.  Some of that comes from going through life and gaining more experience that helps us understand what was there all along.  Your books and tapes are tremendously helpful in making sense of those further experiences and have really helped enlarge the big picture!  Passover and Unleavened Bread were more meaningful than ever!

Thank you Fred,

R & M, Washington

False Prophets

Today, we are confronted with a multitude of false prophets and teachers.  Not only from apostate “Christian” denominations of this world but from within the churches of God.  In fact, we are being confronted with false teachings all the time from supposed ministers and self-proclaimed teachers.  But what is more amazing is that many brethren and ministers fall for their perverted teachings and leave the truth of God.  Without a doubt, there are more false prophets and teachers than there are true servants and ministers of God!  During the days of Elijah, he was outnumbered by 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the groves—850 to 1.  No doubt the ratio is even higher today.  There have been false prophets beginning with Cain right down to our time.

Jesus Christ warned that this would happen!  His disciples asked Jesus about the end times, “ ‘Tell us, when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?’  And Jesus in answering them began to say, ‘Be on guard lest anyone deceive you.  For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’; and they shall deceive many … For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and they shall give signs and wonders, in order to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  But you, watch out for them!  Behold, I have foretold all these things to you” (Mark 13:4-6, 22-23).

In his second epistle, the apostle Peter sounded the warning that false teachers would secretly come into the church: “But there were also false prophets among the people, as indeed there will be false teachers among you, who will stealthily introduce destructive heresies, personally denying the Lord who bought them, and bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  And many people will follow as authoritative their destructive ways; and because of them, the way of the truth will be blasphemed.  Also, through insatiable greed they will with enticing messages exploit you for gain; for whom the judgment of old is in full force, and their destruction is ever watching” (II Pet. 2:1-3; also see Jude 3-4).

The apostle Paul also warned the elders of the church at Ephesus that false prophets would come, and even from their own ranks men would rise up and bring false teachings.  They would gain their own following.  We have seen this happen over and over again in our lifetimes—nothing has changed: “And now behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God, will see my face no more; wherefore I testify to you on this day that I am pure from the blood of all, for I have not held back from preaching to you all the counsel of God.  Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood For I know this: that after my departure grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will rise up speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:25-30).

Why do these things continue to happen?  In addition to those who sneak in with the determination to change doctrine and cause confusion, there are ministers who come up with strange doctrines and brethren who believe their teachings and follow them.  Why does it happen?  Paul clearly tells us why!  It is a two-fold problem: 1) False ministers fail to preach the Word—the truth of God.  Rather, they preach their own ideas about the Word of God—things that sound good—lies that sound true.  2) Brethren listen to them and accept their teachings without proving whether they are true or not.  Here is what Paul wrote: “I charge you, therefore, in the sight of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is ready to judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the Word!  Be urgent in season and out of season; convict, rebuke, encourage, with all patience and doctrine.  For there shall come a time when they will not tolerate sound doctrine; but according to their own lusts they shall accumulate to themselves a great number of teachers, having ears itching to hear what satisfies their cravings; but they shall turn away their own ears from the truth; and they shall be turned aside unto myths” (II Tim 4:1-4).

Paul had to warn the Corinthians very sternly about their practice of allowing false teachers to preach in their congregations!  They were extremely tolerant, and when they heard them speak they all thought it was a good thing.  (Just like the newscasts today—present both sides—fair and balanced—you decide!)  In order to contrast his preaching with that of the false apostles, Paul had to try to shame the Corinthians to their senses: “I would that you might bear with me in a little nonsense; but indeed, do bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with the jealousy of God because I have espoused you to one husband, so that I may present youas a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For indeed, if someone comes preaching another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different gospel, which you did not accept, you put up with it as something good.  But I consider myself in no way inferior to those highly exalted so-called [false] apostles … For such are false apostles—deceitful workers who are transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And it is no marvel, for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore, it is no great thing if his servants also transform themselves as ministers of righteousness—whose end shall be according to their works” (II Cor. 11:1-5, 13-15).

Yes, they look good!  They sound good!  They even use scriptures—but twist and turn the meaning to suit their own schemes and interpretations (II Pet. 3:16-18; II Cor. 2:16-17; 4:2).  Just look at many modern professing “Christian” churches.  They embrace a lawless do nothing, feel good, do whatever seems right gospel.  “God accepts you—you are saved! You don’t even need to repent.  You don’t need to be baptized; just believe. ”  They are paving the way for the False Prophet of Revelation.  It appears that all one needs to do is to be religious and faithful to their religion, regardless of what it is, and he or she is accepted.

Why Does God Allow False Prophets?

God did not create us as robots or with instinct as He did the animals.  He has given us intelligence and has given us free moral agency.  God allowed Adam and Eve to choose.  Under the sway of Satan the devil they chose to sin and to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We need to remember that God has always made known His laws and commandments in every generation.  Otherwise, God could not impute sin or bring judgment against sinners because where there is no law there is no sin (Gen. 4-6; Rom. 1:18-32; 3:9-23; 4:15; 5:12-14).  Later, when God gave His laws and commandments to His people Israel, which they understood, He commanded them to choose: “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.  But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deut. 30:10-20, KJV).

Just before the children of Israel went into the Promised Land, God again gave them warnings so that they would not change the Word of God or get caught up with the gods of the Canaanites and serve them instead of the true God: “These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.  Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: and ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.  Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God …

“Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewiseThou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their godsWhat thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deut. 12:1-4, 28-31, KJV).

After giving these specific commands, God then gave them instructions regarding a false prophet: “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him”  (Deut. 13:1-4, KJV).

The reason that God allows false prophets is to test us to see whether we truly love Him with all our hearts and with all our souls!  If you love God you will not get involved with false prophets and false gods.

In God’s covenant with Israel, since they had the administration of death, a false prophet was to be executed, even if he/she were a family member.  False prophets were not to be tolerated because they would turn the people away from the Lord God of Israel—the true God! “And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.  And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you” (Deut. 13:5-11, KJV).

Today, under the administration of the spirit, we do not have the authority to execute false prophets or to destroy their property.  However, we are not to allow them to join with the true brethren of God.  If we find them in our midst, we are to disfellowship them because they seek to draw us away from God the Father and Jesus Christ with their false teachings. 

Jesus Christ warned His followers to beware of the doctrines of the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians (Matt. 16:5-12; Mark 8:14-21).  He further warned that all the traditions of Judaism were vain practices, rejecting the commandments of God—hence false doctrines, by false prophets (Mark 7:1-13).  Because we also keep the Sabbath and holy days of God, some ministers and brethren fall victim to the false teachings of Judaism. They become confused because of Judaism’s false interpretations of Scripture, especially as they relate to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  These false Jewish practices are at the heart and core of the centuries-old controversy on whether the Passover should be observed on the 14th day of the first month or on the 15th day of the first month.

The Christian Passover book was written in great depth  and detail, covering every one of these false teachings: how they arose; why they are wrong and what the truth of God’s Word is.  This book is over 500 pages long, and every chapter covers vital truths that are extremely important and necessary to understand in order to combat these false teachings.  If you do not have The Christian Passover book, please write for it, and we will send it to you at no cost.  If you have the book and have not reviewed it or read it in several years, it would be an extremely worthwhile project for you to reread it.  You might be surprised at what you have missed or forgotten.

Recycled Passover and Unleavened Bread Heresies

As we have learned through the years, false teachings and doctrines are recycled.  Old propositions are presented over and over again as “new truth.”  This is why God commands us to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good (I Thes. 5:21). We are to be like the Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things were so (Acts 17:11).

Such is the case with a recent paper that was mailed to many brethren and ministers in many of the churches of God. I received one and knew instantly that the research was extremely poor.  Many assumptions were made by the writer, a minister in a church of God in Utah.  He stated that the foot washing came after the Old Testament Passover supper and therefore comes after the bread and wine ceremony of the New Covenant Christian Passover as well – and not before the bread and wine.  He also stated that the Night to be Much Observed and the 14th Passover are combined and should be observed beginning on the 14th day of the first month, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread should end on the 20th rather than on the 21st.  We will examine both of these assertions.

The answer to the first false doctrine that God combined the 14th and the 15th into one feast is the most simple to refute.  IF YOU SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES YOU WILL NOT FIND ANYWHERE THAT GOD EVER COMMANDED THAT THESE DAYS BE COMBINED AND OBSERVED AS ONE FEAST.  Even though Judaism combines the two days and observes their Passover on the 15th and then extends the Feast of Unleavened Bread until the end of the 22nd of the first month, these dates have no Scriptural basis.  The history of this teaching and practice is thoroughly covered in The Christian Passover.

Remember, we are to obey God and keep His commandments—not the traditions of Judaism or of any other religion.   God warned through the prophet Isaiah: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?  To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:19-20, KJV).

Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely Mine” (John 14:15).  There is no question that Jesus and the apostles kept the Passover on the 14th as found in Exodus 12, Leviticus 23, etc.  Again, a detailed study about this is covered in The Christian Passover.  However, some ministers are confused about the 14/15 Passover; yet, they refuse to read the book.  In fact, one evangelist, who now heads an educational ministry and to whom I personally gave an autographed copy in 1994, threw it in the waste can!  To this day he complains that he doesn’t understand why the Passover is such a complicated issue.

Why does the Christian Passover appear to be a complicated issue?  The answer is very simple.  Satan does not want people to be in a true covenant relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.  Therefore, his ministers and scholars confuse the truth with their lies and twisted interpretations.  Look at the result!  Those who profess Christ have no clue as to what the New Covenant Christian Passover is.  They participate in the sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist, communion or the Lord’s Supper.  In their ceremonies some use leavened bread, some unleavened bread; they use wine or grape juice and even water.   Some take it daily, some weekly, some quarterly.  What mass confusion. God is not the Author of confusion—Satan the devil is!

Look at the various churches of God!  Some keep the Passover on the correct day, the 14th of the first month; and at the correct time, the night of the 14th, as Jesus and the apostles did.  Others keep it on the afternoon of the 14th.  Some keep it on the 15th.  Some are even more confused because they reject the calculated Hebrew Calendar and devise their own calendar; hence, their 14th day of the first month is the wrong day.

To further complicate matters, some have a meal with their Passover ceremony, contrary to Paul’s instructions in I Corinthians 11.  Still others participate in the foot washing after partaking of the bread and wine.  This last error is the result of a mistranslation in the KJV in John 13.  This error was incorporated into the recent paper that was sent to me.

When I read this paper, I thought that I had answered those very questions a long time ago. Later, I remembered that I had indeed written a letter to a man who had made some of the same assertions that the minister in Utah was making.  I looked in my old files and found the original copy of the letter that I had sent to him.  What follows is the letter that I wrote on January 19, 1975 to answer those false assumptions, while I was still a minister in the WCG.  I have edited it and made some additions.

The Timing of the Foot Washing

Dear M. K.,

It has been brought to my attention through the Theological Research Project Team that you had submitted a paper to the First Year Bible Class, “The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.”  You wrote on the subject of a seemingly obvious misplacement of verses and the sequence of the New Covenant Christian Passover as outlined in the Harmony of the Gospels authored by me.

I was furnished with a copy of your paper.  Thank you very much for your interest and the things you showed in your paper.  I hope that this direct answer from me, the author, will be helpful to you in many ways, especially for any of your future endeavors along these lines.

Before we get into the subject, several things must be borne in mind when dealing with topics like this.

  1. The Bible is inspired [God-breathed] by God as written in the original language.  Translations may or may not retain varying degrees of inspiration.

  2. When there is an apparent conflict between scriptures, every facet of the problem must be considered.

  3. When there is a difficulty with the KJV then an investigation into the Greek or Hebrew is necessary to clarify the situation.

  4. Especially when dealing with the Gospels, a key to understanding is that no single Gospel contains all the facts and evidence alone, when one or more relate the same event.  Overall the four Gospels are complimentary to each other and must be properly coordinated for a complete understanding.

Each Gospel account is essential.  For example: Matthew and Mark show only one Passover; Luke, two; and John, three.  If we did not have John and Luke we would not have certain keys related to the time period and the chronology of Jesus Christ’s ministry.

At Jesus’ last Passover, when He instituted the New Covenant ceremony, we would have some major problems if all four accounts were not available to coordinate all the activities.  Here some examples:

1.      John does not show the bread and wine ceremony, only the foot washing.  So if John alone were used as a guide, or if Matthew, Mark and Luke were not there, we would only know of the foot washing ceremony and nothing about the bread and wine.

2.      Matthew, Mark, Luke and I Corinthians only show the bread and wine ceremony, but we would know nothing about the foot washing.  Therefore, if these three accounts were used without John’s account, we would only observe the bread and wine ceremony of the Passover, as does much of professing Christianity of the world.

3.      Matthew, Mark and Luke do not show that Judas ever left the meal to betray Jesus.

4.      Matthew, Mark and Luke do not show the long discourse that Jesus gave to His disciples after the supper as does John in chapters 14-16.

5.      Only Luke records the argument that occurred between the disciples during Jesus’ last Passover as to who would be the greatest among them.

6.      Only Luke records that the disciples took two swords with them when they all went to the Mount of Olives with Jesus.

So, it is obvious that if the approach was of pitting each account against the other in a negative way, the list of problems and difficulties throughout the entirety of the four Gospels would be immense indeed.  Because many scholars have taken this approach, they are in hopeless confusion as to how to solve many of these problems because they believe that the differences between the four Gospels are contradictions, when they actually are not.

The Apparent Problem at Hand

Your paper deals with a section which projects all the options that were open to me while reconstructing the chronology of the events of Jesus’ last Passover when I wrote the Harmony.  All of the factors that you have brought up were deeply considered by me before arranging Luke’s account, which was not placed in the numbered verse sequence.

Why did I arrange verses  21-23, then 19, 17, 18 and 20 of Luke 22 in that order?  Was this arrangement merely done to satisfy Worldwide Church of God doctrine?  (If so, then the scholarship of the book is greatly limited in proper understanding, as any other scholar and author who is bound by personal views, prejudice, bias or a doctrine of his church that prejudices him to distort the truth to appease doctrine, tradition or whatever and to please humans and not God.  Please be assured that the WCG is on public record [at the time this letter was written in 1975] and has proven its desire to have all of its teachings and doctrines to be in complete agreement with biblical truth.)  Or, on the other hand, were there good reasons for making the arrangement in the way that I did?  If so what were the reasons?

First, I arranged Luke in the way that I did because of the order that Matthew and Mark used.  Second, Luke 22:17-18 was when Jesus passed the larger container of wine to the disciples to have each one pour a small amount of wine in a smaller for himself.  This was distributed to each one before Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread, symbolizing His broken body.  Next, in verse 20, after giving thanks, Jesus instructed them that the wine they were drinking was symbolic of His blood, the blood of the New Covenant. Third, Matthew, Mark and Luke all show that the ceremony of the broken bread came before the drinking of the wine, and the drinking of the wine came after the Passover supper. Luke chapter 22 verse 19 in the Harmony was placed before verses 17-18 in order to coordinate it with Matthew and Mark. In fact, the partaking of the wine was nearly the last thing that was done before Jesus and the apostles left for the Mount of Olives.

In order to determine when Judas left to betray Jesus—before the bread and wine, or after the bread and wine—we need to carefully examine John 13.  John in his narration of the foot washing specifically shows that Judas left shortly after the foot washing.  The basic key to understanding when the foot washing took place is found in the context and in the Greek words which clarify everything.

Perhaps the whole supposition for your rearrangement of the verses would have been clarified or could have been seen as not accurate if you had only researched the subject in any Greek-English Interlinear.  In addition, if you had some basic understanding of the Greek verbs and participles used in the verses in question, you would have seen the error of your premise. 

In order to understand the proper order of the Passover ceremony, we need to begin with the account of the foot washing. In the KJV in John 13:2, there is a mistranslation, which seems to indicate that the supper had ended by the time the foot washing began.  It reads: “And supper being ended …”  However, the Greek actually shows that that phrase should have been translated: “during supper.”  Unfortunately, this removes the basic premise of your paper.  So let’s begin by examining the critical verses in John 13 one by one:

# 1) John 13:2:  Supper Being Ended, or During Supper:  In the KJV it reads “And supper being ended …” and this is a most unfortunate mistranslation.  The Greek-English Interlinear translation by George Ricker Berry reads “and supper taking place ...”  If you had only used this interlinear English translation, you would have realized the foot washing did not take place after supper but “during supper” or “supper taking place.”   The Greek word genomenou genonenou translated “supper taking place” or “during supper” is a present tense participle and should never be translated in the past tense.  This participle is derived from the prime verb ginomai ginomai, which means “to be, to become” or “to come into being.”  Therefore, genomenou genonenou has the meaning of “during the taking place of supper,” or “while taking place.” As such then, since the prime verb ginomai ginomai is the root verb of the participle genomenou genonenou, it can also be translated “At the beginning of supper.” Berry’s translation, “supper taking place,” does indicate that the foot washing took place at the beginning of supper.  Finally, because genomenou genonenou is a present tense participle, it is completely incorrect to translate it in the past tense “after supper” as translated in the KJV.  This erroneous translation has caused a great deal of confusion.  Those who do not understand the Greek do not know that this should be translated in the present tense.

Other Greek Words That John Would Have to Have Used to Mean That Supper Had Ended: The main Greek word for “end” is teloV telos which means “end, conclusion of” or “termination of.” The Greek word for “being ended” is sunteleosqeiswn sunteleostheison as used in Luke 4:2, referring to the end of Jesus’ forty-day fast and temptation by Satan the devil.  Notice that the prime root tel tel for the meaning “end” is the basic root for this word. John could have used this word to express the fact that the supper “had ended.”

In addition, we find that the drinking of the wine did, in fact, occur “after supper,” as the Greek clearly shows in Luke 22:20 and I Cor. 11:25 where the Greek phrase, meta to deipnhsai  meta to deipnesai is used, which means “after supper.”  There is no question that the Greek word meta means “after.”  John could also have used this word to show that the foot washing took place “after supper,” as did Luke and Paul to show that the drinking of the wine took place after supper.  However, he did not use this word.

As a result, the whole supposition you presented, that the foot washing took place after supper, is not confirmed by the Greek.  In fact, the Greek clearly refutes any such claim.

Now let’s follow the sequence of events of John 13, and we’ll see that the foot washing took place at the beginning of the Passover supper and continued past the time that Judas left to betray Jesus.

13:2 “And during supper (the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot …”

13:3 “Jesus, knowing …”

13:4 “Rose from supper …” (additional proof that supper was in progress) 

13:5 “to wash the disciples’ feet …”

13:12 “sat down again …”

When we take into account the entire context of John 13:2-12 we get the complete picture. Thus, the sequence of events from verse 2 through verse 12 is as follows: “During supper (i.e. the beginning of supper), Jesus knowing … Rose from supper … washed the disciples feet … sat down again.”  “Sat down” was actually a reclining position.  With all the disciples in a reclining position, Jesus easily carried out the foot washing.

When we put all the facts together, it becomes clear that Jesus instituted the foot washing at the beginning of the Passover ceremony.  Then He sat down again, or reclined, which was the position for eating the Passover supper.  If the supper had been completed, there obviously would be no reason for Jesus to recline again.

13:13-17 Jesus gives the explanation for the foot washing.

13:18 Jesus indicates that He had chosen Judas to betray Him, “… he who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.”  The Greek verb “he who eats” is a present tense participle trwgwn trogon, which can also be translated: “the one who is eating with Me …”  As the Greek indicates, it was an active present tense fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus’ betrayal.  When Jesus said this about Judas, they were still eating, the supper was still in progress, after the foot washing had already taken place.  In Mark 14:18, we find a more direct statement. Jesus is quoted as saying in the first person, “… that one of you will deliver me up, who is eating with me” (EGNT, Berry).

13:26 Jesus dips the sop or “morsel,” then gives it to Judas.   Satan enters into him and he leaves to betray Jesus to the Jewish religious authorities.  However, when Judas left, supper was still in progress.

The Jews had a custom that the master of the paschal supper gave a morsel to all who were at the table.  So there was nothing particularly unusual about Jesus giving a morsel to Judas.  If supper had already ended and was not still in progress when Jesus gave the morsel to Judas, there would have been no need for the disciples to think that Judas was leaving in order to buy something for the feast (i.e. the Passover supper that they were eating) or to go out and give something to the poor who were also eating the Passover supper in nearby houses.

Conclusion From John 13: The context of John 13 alone shows that supper was still in progress past the time that Judas had departed.  An important point to keep in mind: Only John’s account shows when Judas left.  None of the other Gospel accounts do.  Without a doubt, John shows that Judas left while supper was still in progress, and it continued after he had left.  Therefore, the foot washing had to have taken place at the beginning of the meal and could not have taken place after the Passover supper was finished.  The Greek and the flow of the context of John 13 prove this.

# 2) The Breaking and Eating of the Bread Took Place While They Were Still Eating the Passover Supper: Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22 show that while they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, etc.  Therefore, supper was still in progress at this point. It would only be proper for Jesus to institute the breaking of the bread of the New Covenant Passover ceremony after Judas had left.  Judas only received an unceremonial morsel from Jesus to symbolize that he would betray Him.  Therefore, Judas did not partake of eating the bread that Jesus had broken and blessed for the New Covenant Christian Passover.

# 3) Matthew, Mark, Luke and I Corinthians Show That the Drinking of the Wine Was After the Eating of the Bread: Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23, Luke 22:20 and I Corinthians 11:25 are all in agreement in the sequence of the bread and wine part of the ceremony.

# 4) The Wine Was Taken after SupperNot the Foot Washing: As we have seen, Luke 22:20 and I Cor. 11:25 show that it was after supper when they partook of the wine as shown in the Greek phrase meta to deipnhsai meta to deipnesai. This phrase cannot mean “during supper” in any way.  It can only mean “after supper.” Remember that Judas had already left during supper, and the drinking of the wine was after supper.  This means that Judas could not have taken part in the wine ceremony.

Was Luke “Confused” About the Sequence of Events?  Did He Have a “Bad Memory” or What?

Now we will address the crux of the final problems in Luke’s account, which on the surface gives the appearance of a different sequence than the other Gospel accounts; or, does it really?  Let’s examine what Luke wrote, because his order of the events was actually clarified very simply by Luke himself.

Luke 22:20 is the key verse because the drinking of the wine is stated before the announcement by Jesus that one of the disciples (Judas) would betray Him.  Luke does not show that it was Judas who was the betrayer; neither does he show Jesus dipping of the sop and giving it to Judas.  But does Luke really show that the partaking of the wine occurred before the announcement of the betrayal just because it is stated first?  That is the key question.  In verse 20, Luke wrote, “In like manner also, He took the cup after supper ...” Luke is clearly stating that the sequence of the cup was after supper.  Now we know that according to John’s account, Judas left during the supper.  Therefore, Judas could not have been there during the drinking of the wine.  Luke agrees with John because he wrote that they partook of the wine, symbolizing the shed blood of Jesus after supper, as the Greek phrase clearly shows: meta to deipnhsai meta to deipnesai.

But does this mean that Luke is not permitted to narrate something that had actually occurred prior to this? Of course not!

Now we can examine Luke 22:21 and understand that there is no contradiction in what Luke had written, although he placed it after the partaking of the wine.  “Moreover the hand of him (who is) delivering me up (is) with me on the table …” (EGNT, Berry).  The Greek phrase epi thV trapezhV epi tes trapezes means “at the table.”  This clearly shows that when Jesus said that the hand of the one who was betraying Him was with Him at the table, He said it while the meal was still in progress, even though it is placed after the drinking of the wine, which took place after the meal.  The Greek clearly shows the difference through the use of the verbs and participles:  in verse 20, past tense, “after supper,” and in verse 21, a previous present tense, “Moreover the hand of him (who is) delivering me up (is) with me on the table …” How Luke used the Greek words and their tenses actually shows that the chronology in the Harmony is correct, even though the narration in Luke appears to be slightly different from Matthew and Mark.

Conclusion: This is the basis for the difference of the sequence of verses in the Harmony— rather than any fault on Luke’s part, or a fault on the part of the WCG, or a fault on my part. (Please be sure that we are not teaching heresy!  And please be careful not to use the Word of God so carelessly because it might cause you and others trouble that perhaps you never intended.)  However, in the Harmony, for the sake of the actual progression of the events as they occurred, I arranged Luke 22:17-23 in the order as found in the book..

I hope that this answer will help you come to a clearer understanding of this section of the book.  If you have any more questions, please feel free to write or call me or to see me personally.  I will be glad to be of any assistance possible.

Binding and Loosing

The question of binding and loosing in the New Testament Church is one of the most misunderstood doctrines of church and ministerial authority.  Catholics believe that their popes and leaders have the power to change the very Word of God in any manner they see fit and believe that God backs up these decisions.  Hence, they claim that the pope is infallible in his decisions and decrees.  One of the most obvious examples is their changing the day of worship from the Sabbath to Sunday. (See Rome’s Challenge to the Protestants.)  Furthermore, their entire system of religion is based on the belief that all their pagan practices have been accepted by God because the popes and religious councils have decreed that they have bound and loosed these matters by the authority they claim was given to Peter and his successors.  However, Jesus never gave any such authority to Peter, the other apostles or the brethren. Other churches believe different things about the power of binding and loosing.

Because of this confusion, I have updated the translation of these two scriptures in Matthew in order to more precisely reflect the original Greek..  As you will see, Jesus Christ never gave the powers of binding and loosing as claimed by these religious leaders.

Updated translation of Matthew 16:19, “And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you may bind on the earth will have already been bound in heaven; and whatever you may loose on the earth will have already been loosed in heaven.”

Updated translation of Matthew 18:18, “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on the earth will have already been bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on the earth will have already been loosed in heaven.”

(Beginning of New Appendix) 

Matthew 16:19 and 18:18

Binding and Loosing in the New Testament Church

The Roman Catholic Church claims that Jesus gave to the apostle Peter and his future successors the powers of binding and loosing so that whatever they would bind or loose on earth would be bound or loosed in heaven.  They further contend that this authority grants an infallible pope the power to bind and loose contrary to the Word of God—thus making the Word of God void—and that this authority was given to Peter by Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18.  However, an exegetical study of the Greek does not support such claims. 

In Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, William D. Mounce gives a clear and insightful explanation of the underlying Greek text, showing that what Jesus taught is entirely different from what many religious authorities assume, teach and practice. He writes, “In some translations of Matthew [16:19 and] 18:18, it seems like Jesus promised his disciples that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven.  In other words, they had the power to bind and loose, and Heaven (i.e. God) would simply back up their decrees.  But the matter is not quite so simple; the actions described in heaven are future perfect passives—which could be translated ‘will have already been bound in heaven … will have already been loosed in heaven.’  In other words, the heavenly decree confirming the earthly one is based on a prior verdict [God had already made—“For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89).]

“This is the language of the law court.  Jewish legal issues were normally decided in Jesus’ day by elders in the synagogue community (later by rabbis).  Many Jewish people believed that the authority of Heaven stood behind the earthly judges when they decided cases based on a correct understanding of God’s laws.  (This process came to be called ‘binding and loosing.’)  Jesus’ contemporaries often envisioned God’s justice in terms of a heavenly court; by obeying God’s laws, the earthly court simply ratified the decrees of the heavenly court” (p. 121, bracketed comments added).

Jesus did not give His apostles and disciples the authority to make binding decisions regarding anything on earth that had not already been decreed in heaven.  Jesus specifically taught that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (Matt. 5:17).  Therefore, whatever is bound or loosed cannot be contrary to the laws and commandments of God, the revelation of the prophets or the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ did not give His apostles the authority to loose any of the Ten Commandments or any of God’s laws that are not connected with the priesthood and temple ritual.  However, Jesus did give His apostles the authority to loose the religious traditions of the Jews (Mark 7:1-13, Acts 10:28) as well as pagan religious traditions (I Pet. 1:18, Acts 14:8-18).  New Testament teachings that were foreshadowed and prophesied in the Old Testament and “bound” or decreed in heaven before Jesus Christ came in the flesh are as follows: to love the Lord God with all one’s heart, soul and might (Deut. 6:4-6; Matt. 22:37-40); for Jesus to magnify the law and make it honorable (Isa. 52:14; Matt. 5-7); for Christ to die for the sins of the world (Psa. 22, Isa. 53; John 1:36; Rev. 13:8); forgiveness of sin, upon repentance, without temple animal sacrifices (Psa. 32:1-2; 51:1-17; Rom. 3:20-24; Heb. 10:1-17); circumcision of the heart (Deut.10:16; Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:10-13); Sabbath and holy day keeping for uncircumcised Gentiles (Isa. 56:1-6), taught by Paul (Acts 13:42-44; Heb. 4:9, I Cor. 5:8); and many others.

Any Christian-professing ministry or church that promotes sin—the transgression of the law— in its binding or loosing decisions is operating contrary to the Word and will of God.  Its decisions are simply inventions of men and do not have the authority of heaven behind them.  Examples of these are:  adding to or taking away from the Word of God (Deut. 12:30-32; Rev. 22:18-19); worshiping other gods or goddesses (Ex. 20:2-3; I Cor. 10:20-21); endorsing the making and worshiping of idols (Ex. 20:4-6; Isa. 42:8, 17; 44:9-20; I Cor. 10:14; 12:2; Rev. 9:20-21; 21:8); worshiping the dead “saints” (Isa. 8:19-20); exchanging the Sabbath and holy days of God for the pagan holidays of apostate Christendom such as Halloween, Christmas, New Years, Lent, Easter, etc., or any other so-called holy days of any  religions of the world.

All binding and loosing decisions made by the ministry and brethren of Jesus Christ must be in complete accord with the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ.  These decisions are authoritative because they have “already been bound or loosed in heaven.”  As Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt. 28:18).  All binding and loosing must be based on the authority of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

(End of New Appendix)

In order to cover these topics, this letter has become rather lengthy.  However, it is essential that we all completely understand these things so that we will not believe false teachings.  What we have been practicing in our observance of Passover and Unleavened Bread is correct and scripturally sound.

Brethren, once again thank you for your continued love, prayers and support.  As you can see we are reaching out to many new brethren and people with the truth of God—which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As a result of sending out the New Testament and The Day Jesus the Christ Died, many are hearing and reading the truth for the first time.  Thank you for reaching out to the brethren and new people.  We will keep you supplied with these books so that you can continue to spread the Word.

May God the Father and Jesus Christ continue to bless you with Their love, grace and understanding in everything.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter