The Integrity of God’s Word
If you believe the Word of God has integrity, then you are a step ahead of most of the crowd. Too many believe the Bible is nothing more than myths, stories, and ancient fables passed on from generation to generation.
2 Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private [idios = one’s own] interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Cambridge Dictionary says of integrity: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.”
Synonyms for integrity, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary are: “character, decency, goodness, honesty, righteousness, virtue, honor, incorruptibility.”
In other words, God means what He says and says what He means. His words are incorruptible, and honest, and straight-forward. When you take the time to study God’s Word there are answers.
Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
On the day of the Ascension Jesus was standing with the “…apostles whom he had chosen.” This is where we need to watch and enjoy the integrity of God’s Word.
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
You will notice in this list of names is Judas Iscariot. This places Judas with the other eleven and Jesus at the Ascension. This then adds logic and common sense to what happens later in the chapter.
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
If Judas had taken his own life before the crucifixion, as tradition tells us, why would they have waited until after the Ascension to replace him? Better still, if Judas had taken his own life before the crucifixion why would Jesus have not chosen his replacement in the 40 days after his resurrection?
Jesus did not replace Judas during the 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension because Judas was still alive! The apostles replaced Judas because he took his own life after the ascension.
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
The men (angels), standing by the apostles, after the ascension address the apostles as, “…men of Galilee…” Eleven of the apostles were from Galilee but one was not, Judas Iscariot. The term Iscariot identifies Judas as coming from Kerioth, a city about 30 miles south from Jerusalem.
After witnessing the ascension of Jesus, apparently, the guilt Judas was carrying within his own heart overwhelmed him and he took his own life. But there is still another issue with the death of Judas we need to examine.
Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
But this is contrary with what is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, what is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
We have two problems with this verse compared to the record in Acts chapter 1. First, the wording appears to say he hung himself immediately. Second, the method by which he died, hanging, or failing upon his sword. The other gospels are of no help since Matthew is the only gospel to record this event by hanging.
There is nothing in the grammar to indicate Judas took his own life immediately after throwing the money in the Temple. Consider Young’s Literal Translation.
and having cast down the silverlings in the sanctuary, he departed, and having gone away, he did strangle himself.
Young’s Literal Translation
This can be handled like Luke 6:16
And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
On the day Jesus chose the apostles Judas is listed as the traitor. He was not a traitor that day but would eventually be the one who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders. It is a statement of fact rather than a statement of time.
Matthew 27:5 is stating facts rather than a statement of time. He threw the money down, he left the area of the religious leaders, he killed himself. It is the book of Acts that clarifies exactly WHEN he took his own life.
Then there is the matter of how he died. Did Judas hang himself or disembowel himself with a knife or sword?
The word “hanged’ is the Greek word apagcho. Apagcho is used only here in the Bible and it has no related words in the Bible. Lexicons all define this word as to strangle. However, it is a compound word consisting of the preposition apo which means away from, and agakale, which means the bend of the arm. Agakale is also used only one time in God’s Word.
It is the account of Simeon and Mary, Joseph, and Jesus at the Temple.
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms [agakale], and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Here in Luke agakale is speaking of how you would “bend” your arm to pick up a child. Bending your arm lines up more accurately with what a person would do to use a knife or a sword to disembowel himself as Acts chapter 1 indicated.
So, rather than a contradiction between Matthew and Acts what we have is a poor translation is Matthew 27:5. Whenever we encounter an apparent contradiction in God’s Word it must either be in our understanding or in the translation, yes, there are some errors in translation.
God’s Word has complete integrity and will always fit together perfectly. But mistakes are made and at times traditions carry more weight than study. Our oldest manuscripts are from the fourth century A.D., we have no originals.
All manuscripts were handwritten, some at night by candlelight: no electricity, no copy machines, no smart phones to take a picture, all were copied by hand. This lends itself to mistakes. So, we look at different manuscripts, or texts, and compare what is written. If it is the Word of God, it will fit in its immediate and more remote context.
Another aspect of Acts chapter 1 also has an issue that concerns the integrity of God’s Word. The issue is baptism. There have been more than a multitude of articles and teachings concerning the subject of baptism. There are more than a few types of baptism employed in Christianity. There has also been a massive amount of “evidence” brought into the discussion from secular Greek sources to prove one point or another.
I understand looking at secular sources at times is necessary. However, we should never value secular sources over the internal evidence presented within God’s Word. Remember 2 Peter 1:20-21, God’s Word is not of one’s own interpretation. We need to allow God’s Word to interpret itself whenever possible.
With these things in mind, let’s look at baptism.
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Just from a cursory reading of this verse it would appear water is replaced by holy spirit. But many still employ water for baptism. We need a greater understanding of baptism to be clear and certain in our own mind.
The Greek word for baptized in Acts 1:5 is baptizo. Overall, there are five Greek words attached to baptism: baptizo, baptisma, baptizmos, baptistes, and bapto. The root of all these words is bapto, so let’s look at that word first.
Bapto is used three times in God’s Word.
Lexicons generally define bapto in this manner, “to dip, dip in, immerse.”
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip [bapto] the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped [bapto] the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped [bapto] in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
It is easy to see a dipping in these verses but the part of the definition that says “immerse” seems to not have scriptural backing. We have a finger dipped in water, a piece of bread dipped in the juice of a meal, and a piece of cloth dipped in blood. So, an accurate definition of bapto is the act of dipping a part or portion of an item into a liquid. Bapto should be defined as the act of dipping.
Remember, bapto is the root of the other four words for baptize. Therefore, we must carry the meaning of the root forward as we examine these other four words.
Baptistes is the next word, and it is used 14 times in the Bible, so we will not show all 14 occurrences here. But all 14 are used in the exact same way. Every occurrence refers to John the Baptist.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
Baptistes then can be defined as identifying the one who does the dipping.
The next word is baptizmos, which is used four times in the New Testament.
For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash [nipto = to wash] their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash [baptizo], they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing [baptizmos] of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
We can see the function, the purpose of baptizmos in this verse. The function of baptizmos is to physically clean, to cleanse the item that is being dipped. However, we can also see that hands or cups and plates could be immersed in water for this cleaning. So, now we can add to our understanding, by that I mean, sometimes dipping refers to full immersion of the object that is being cleansed.
Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings [baptizmos], and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
This is in reference to the Tabernacle God instructed Moses to build. Again, this is a superficial cleaning of the outside of an item, like the hands and feet of a priest, at the laver before he would enter the holy place of the Tabernacle.
And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat:
From this we can see that the hands you could dip or immerse and with the feet you would pour water. So, baptizmos can be defined as, to cleanse, to clean, literally as in washing the hands before you eat or ceremonially as in prior to entering the Tabernacle.
Our understanding of baptism continues to expand. The Baptist is the one who performs the dipping, or the pouring, or immersion for the purpose of literally or ceremonially cleansing the object being baptized. The Baptist may be dipping a part of the item or the Baptist may immerse the object being baptized.
The next word is baptisma.
And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism [baptisma], he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Did you see the meaning of baptisma in these verses? We will look at another.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism [baptisma] of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, if we shall say, from heaven; he will say unto us, why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
Baptisma is the rite, or the ritual preformed by the Baptist. It is the ritual that brings to you the results of the baptism. We will look at another.
John did baptize in the wilderness and preach the baptism [baptisma] of repentance for the remission of sins.
In Matthew chapter 3 John is sent to baptize Israel, his ritual is to use water. If they come to him to confess their sins, repentant, the dipping or immersion in water was as if their sins were washed away, they would be cleansed spiritually, they would receive remission of their sins. The ritual beings the results.
Would they receive remission of their sins immediately?
No, the price had not yet been paid for their sins and they are still under a Covenant. Therefore, it is along the same lines as the Old Testament sacrifice of an animal. Their sins are temporarily covered, and they will receive remission when the time comes at the resurrection of the Just, when the Old Covenant is concluded and the New Covenant begins.
In Matthew 3 the Pharisees and Sadducees came to “his baptism [baptisma],” his ritual. In Matthew 21, Jesus asked, “The baptism [baptisma] of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men?” The ritual John used, water, confession, repentance, cleansing, remission came from where? From God or from men? Then, in Mark 1, John preached the ritual of water baptism and the people of Israel came to have the ritual performed for the result of the remission of sins.
Baptisma is the whole process, the ritual of confession, cleansing by water, sins covered until remission became available.
Finally, we have the word baptizo.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Baptizo is an identification. It associates you with the baptizer and what he represented. All those baptized with water are identified with John’s gospel of repentance, his doctrine of repentance by confession of sin and receiving remission of sins, water being a symbol of spiritual cleansing.
1 Corinthians 10:1-2
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
The only ones who were immersed in water while crossing the Red Sea were the Egyptians! Israel stayed perfectly dry. These verses are speaking of their identification with Moses, with his doctrine.
Thus, did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.
In obeying the words of Moses, Israel became identified with him. Therefore, baptizo is speaking of an association with or identification in.
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize [baptizo] you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize [baptizo] you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
To be baptizo by John identified you with his doctrine. To be baptizo by Jesus is to be identified with his doctrine.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ [Christ Jesus in the Critical Greek Text] were baptized [baptizo – identification] into his death?
In the Administration of Grace, we are identified with Christ Jesus. We died with him therefore, we are justified now, we are righteous now.
What was our ritual?
Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism [baptisma – ritual and result] into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
We have newness of life, NOW!
Why “NOW” when all others are waiting until the resurrection of the Just?
Because they are identified in Moses, or John, or Jesus Christ, and we are identified in and with Christ Jesus. The Administration of Grace is a special time of blessing from God.
Could you be baptizo by both water and spirit?
Jesus was but why would you when the greater baptism is by spirit?
Why wear a cloth wrapped around your feet for protection when you have a pair of shoes?
Why walk blindly in the dark while you are holding a flashlight?
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized [baptizo – identification] with the baptism [baptisma – ritual] that I am baptized [baptizo – identification] with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism [baptisma – ritual] that I am baptized [baptizo – identification] withal shall ye be baptized [baptizo – identification, future tense]:
What was asked of Jesus was for James and John to sit on his right hand and left hand, positions of power and honor. Jesus said it was not his to give. But then Jesus spoke of baptism with his apostles.
Can you drink of the cup that I drink?
And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.
This is the cup Jesus needed to drink. He needed to willingly sacrifice his life as a sin offering.
Could they drink of this same cup?
The answer is NO!
Even if they were willing to sacrifice their lives, they did not have pure blood, innocent blood.
Saying, I [Judas] have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, what is that to us? see thou to that.
1 Peter 1:18-19
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
James and John say they can drink of the same cup not realizing, not knowing, of what cup Jesus is speaking. Then, in the next verse Jesus says they will drink of the same cup.
Is Jesus speaking of some horrible death they will suffer in the future? Or is Jesus speaking of the identification they will have in him through God’s grace and their believing?
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Israel’s identification was to be in Christ. John clearly declared; I am not the one.
What about what Jesus told James and John concerning baptism?
Look at verse 39 again.
And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism [baptisma – ritual] that I am baptized [baptizo – identification] withal shall ye be baptized [baptizo – identification, future tense]:
Jesus was baptized by John with water. Is this the baptism Jesus is speaking of when he tells James and John they will be, future tense, baptized [baptizo – identification] as he was baptized [baptisma – ritual]?
And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
This was Jesus being baptized with holy spirit. He was not born with spirit like John the Baptist. He did not have holy spirit while he was growing up. This was Jesus receiving holy spirit for the first time in his life. Read every verse in the Bible, you will not find a verse that says Jesus had holy spirit before this moment in time.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.
The word “ever” is the Greek word aion and means age. The spirit the apostles received on Pentecost was to be with them for the Age, just as the spirit Jesus received after his water baptism was to be with him for the Age. Jesus received spirit with the sign of a dove. The apostles received spirit with the sign of “cloven tongues like as of fire.”
John saw the spirit descend like a dove [John 1:32]. Those visiting for the feast of Pentecost heard the apostles speak in tongues and saw the “cloven tongues like as of fire.”
Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
So, what have we seen about baptism?
We have seen that bapto means to dip and the baptistes is the one performing the action of baptizing. Further, we have seen in baptizmos that baptizing is for physical or ceremonial cleansing. Then in baptizma we saw the actual ritual. Finally, in baptizo we learned that baptism identified you with the doctrine, the teaching of the one doing the baptism.
We have seen baptism of the spirit has replaced baptism in water. We have seen baptism by water could be dipped, poured, or immersion and God’s Word never specified which method or methods John used. But whatever method used, a person was to repent, confess his sins and he will receive remission of sins at the resurrection of the Just. All this sounds exceptionally good, so why desire the baptism in the spirit instead?
With the baptism Jesus offered, you received all that John’s baptism offered, remission of sins at the resurrection of the Just, plus you receive God’s gift of holy spirit to teach you and guide you.
You always must keep in mind that Israel is under a Covenant, whether it is Jeremiah speaking, Amos speaking, John speaking, or Jesus speaking. They all spoke for God regarding walking with God in their Covenant relationship.
A person of Israel has three choices. One, live according to the Law of the Covenant and stand before God on your own merits. Two, receive John’s baptism and be identified with him. The challenge with this is simple, John is not around to guide you day by day as Israel enters the Revealing Administration. Three, be baptized in spirit, be identified in Christ, and receive teaching and guidance, through the spirit, everyday you are alive in the Revealing Administration.
There is one more thing about baptism we should consider before we end. Baptism by fire.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
John makes this statement twice. Once in Matthew and once in Luke.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
The wrath to come is the time of tribulation, the Revealing Administration.
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore, every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
The context is judgment. The baptism of fire deals with the day of judgment. The righteous to the garner, the granary. The unrighteousness to the fire.
Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.
And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
The context in both Matthew and Luke concerns judgment. The righteous to be with God and the unrighteousness to the fire.