Needle in a Haystack

Needle in a Haystack

My great-grandfather might have said. “Why that’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.” He would have meant—you have given him an impossible task. Two hundred years ago that might have been true, but with today’s technology, radar, and metal detectors we could find that needle.

The same is true about the Bible. Years ago, especially on our western frontier, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries (even English dictionaries) were in very short supply. So people (very good people) relied on their preacher, the “big shot”, their leader to tell them what a word meant. Of course the “big shots” differed in the definitions. The results were different denominations.

Today I’ll deal with just one word—one word that made all the difference in the world! That word is “for” as used in Acts 2:38. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

By the way, I never write one of these post without a Greek copy of the New Testament right in front of me. I also learned over 60 years ago to never ask a man or go to a source that “has a dog in the fight”. You old-timers know what that means—never depend on a man that has a reason to be biased or prejudiced!

I have used this example many times: You want to buy a car, and there are two or three new car dealerships in town. One of the dealers has a brother-in-law working for him. I wouldn’t put much stock in the brother-in-law’s recommendation since he might have a good reason to be biased or prejudiced. I don’t advise you to ask the wife of the car dealer either. Maybe she is looking forward to getting a new mink coat for Christmas! She would certainly have a reason to be prejudiced. Go to someone (if you must) that’s completely unbiased and neutral. That you know will tell you the truth!

The study of the Bible has many of the same problems. You ask a Methodist preacher what a scripture or word means, and he will tell you what the Methodist teachers taught him. Ask the same question of a Baptist preacher, and he will tell you what the Baptist teachers taught him. The same is true of Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, or most any of the rest.

Look it up for yourself! (2 Timothy 2:15) “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

I said at the beginning I would deal with one word—“for”—as used in Acts 2:38. Now I know this will hit hard, but I am ready for that so bring it on!

The English word “for” is used in several contexts. Example: You pay “for” something in advance; you pay “for” the privilege of seeing a ballgame; you pay “for” a meal that you have already eaten. Both are considered correct—like the English word “light”. We use this word in several contexts—bright light, dim light, red light, and then someone says he has a light touch.

The English word “for” is translated from the Greek word “Eis” which the real Greek scholars define as “with a view to”—you do something expecting something desired to happen. Remember these scholars are the men that do not have “a dog in the fight”. I refer to such men as Joseph Thayer and Robert Young—whose scholarship has never been questioned.

Okay but where does this lead? I have before me a book “The Baptist Faith and Message” written by Herschel H. Hobbs (1907-1995). I am absolutely convinced that Mr. Hobbs was a very good man. We would all like to have such a good man as a neighbor. But he did not check his facts; he too took someone’s word that had a “dog in the fight”.

He taught on page 74 that a person is forgiven when he believes in Christ, and that he is saved without being buried with his Lord in baptism (Romans 6:1-6, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21). He taught that the Greek word “Eis” in Acts 2:38 means “because of”—in his words, no need to be baptized to be saved and go to Heaven—just believe. But, he was wrong. False teaching! In the entire New Testament, “Eis” is never translated “because of”.

I know I am in the minority here. There are at least a dozen preachers reading this who disagree with me, so I’ll give you a challenge: Just find “one” scripture where “Eis” is translated “because of”. I’m sure there are many readers that would like to see that scripture also!

Thanks for reading and God bless!

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