A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!




Christian Code Words

            Perhaps if we were writing the story, the Jews would have suddenly realized their grave error in crucifying the Lord, and all would have converted to the teachings of Christ around the empty tomb. However, it did not happen that way.  Strong persecution began almost immediately.  The disciples went into hiding over the High holy days while Christ was still in the heart of the earth.  In fact, they had each departed hastily once it was clear Jesus was to be arrested.  Mar 14:50 And they all forsook him, and fled.

            Jhn 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.        

        The climate in the area was hostile.  The Jews were angry their religion had been attacked.  They took great offense to this new group of upstarts telling them the law was at an end.  Saul of Tarsus got authority to enter house to house arresting the followers of Christ and jail those who had converted to the new way.  Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed [them] to prison.

            They were not yet running through the streets proclaiming the good news of the gospel.  In fact, they referred to themselves in a manner that might have been considered code words.

            Some say they identified one other by the use of an Aramaic word that neither the Romans nor most Jews would comprehend.  Maranatha.  Our Lord cometh.  The battle cry of hope among frightened and anxious converts.  Our Lord cometh.  The word could be spoken aloud to a stranger and repeated in response.  No response would be equally telling. 

            Perhaps the Apostle, in using this one Aramaic word in the Greek New Testament 1Cr 16:22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranath, is telling those who are reading he now understands their code.  Maybe it’s Paul’s way of saying he didn’t understand all those times before when I heard the codeword, but now he does.  And to prove the Lord had brought him to this realization: ‘if any man loves not the Lord,’ let him be accused, because our Lord will return.”

            Years later, the symbol IOXYE   would be used by some believers to identify one another in dangerous locales.  It is said that when two strangers met and thought maybe they were fellow believers; one of them would draw on the ground the upper half of the fish symbol.   If the other person was a Christian, he would add the bottom half of the fish.  History tells us the fish became a codeword among some.           

            It comes from the Greek word for fish. IXOYE  ichthus, pronounced ikh-thoos.  The individual letters I, X, O, Y, E, are the first letters of five Greek words as follows...

     I - iota, the first letter in the Greek word Iesous, meaning Jesus

     X - chi, the first letter in the Greek word Christos, meaning Christ

     O - theta, the first letter in the Greek word Theos, meaning God

     Y - upsilon, the first letter in the Greek word Huios, meaning Son

     E - sigma, the first letter in the Greek word Soter, meaning Savior

Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.

            But how did they refer to one another?    Act 11:26 And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.  Christianos {khris-tee-an-os'} A Greek word, meaning a follower of Christ. 

            Rom 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

            The Gentiles were grafted into the Jewish olive tree. 

            Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots  11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;  

            Jer 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

            Jer 33:15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

            Many have claimed the word Christian was intended to be derogatory or sarcastic, given by the enemies of the day, much the same way our detractors called us Primitive. 

            The church established at Antioch was more than a dozen years after the resurrection of the Lord.  For a few short years, the church was made up primarily of Jews. What were the Jewish disciples called?   As we’ve seen, it wasn’t popular to be marked a disciple of Christ soon after the crucifixion.  The apostles themselves hid from the public.  It was unlikely one would go about saying he was a follower of the Messiah, Jesus.

            Some historians say they were called by the Hebrew word  tsemach {tseh'-makh}  

      Tsemach in English is Branch.

            tsemach {tseh'-makh}      sprout, growth, branch   a) sprouting, growth, sprout   b) growth (of process)   c) sprout, shoot (of Messiah from Davidic tree)

            Zec 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they [are] men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

            Zec 6:12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name [is] The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

            Jhn 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

            Jhn 15:5 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.

            Rom 11:16 For if the firstfruit [be] holy, the lump [is] also [holy]: and if the root [be] holy, so [are] the branches.

            Tsemach, the branch.                                                                        

  Brother Royce Ellis

Matthew Notes
Chapter 4 Part 5  Temptation #2   Pride of Life

Matt. 4:5 "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." In this temptation, the Devil appealed to the pride of the flesh in attempting to tempt Christ. Man is proud of whom he is and what he has done or else he seeks to become somebody or to do something in order to get recognition.

In essence, the devil said unto Jesus that as the Son of God stationed upon the very pinnacle (topmost point) of the temple (place of where God is worshipped) that if he threw himself down the angels would come and keep him from hurting himself. Furthermore, he quoted scripture in an attempt to prove this.
Again we are confronted with the devices of Satan. When he quotes scripture, but he does one or more of four things:

1. He misapplies scripture.
2. He misquotes scripture.
3. He adds to the scripture.
4. He leaves out part of the scripture.

The scripture the devil quoted is found in Ps. 91:11: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." By comparing this scripture with the devil's quotation we notice the following:

1. He changed – "charge concerning thee" from "charge over thee." The charge of the angels was not just concerning Jesus but was a charge over Jesus, "to keep thee in all thy ways."
2. He left out – "to keep thee in all thy ways." With the change that the devil made above and by leaving out "to keep thee in all thy ways" the devil reversed the meaning of the scripture quoted.
3. He added – "at any time." This addition reinforces the reversal in meaning of the quoted scripture.
4. Thus the devil misapplied the scripture by the changes, addition, and subtraction.

We are not immune from changes today: some changes people have made today in worship services include – communion service crackers and grape juice v unleavened bread and wine; sprinkling v. immersion; missionism v. true evangelism.

Examples of leaving out parts of scripture:
1. John 1:11 "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Most preachers of most religious denominations in quoting the above leave out verse 13. This results in a complete reversal of application.

2. Things that are left out today in most denominations worship include the washing of the saints' feet in the communion service and the government of members.
Things added today that are not found in the scripture include: Sunday schools; salaried ministry; instrumental music; preachers schools; auxiliaries; mission boards; hierarchal church structure; women preachers; choirs; and entertainment centers.

Again, the Lord quenched the Devil's fiery dart with "it is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

Chapter 4 Part 6  Temptation # 3  Lust of the Eyes

Matt. 4:8 "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

When man sees something he like, he wants it. Advertising is based on this principle. Ad agencies know that if they can associate some product with what man likes and can dress it up so that it looks pleasing, then they have a good opportunity to make a sale.

Eve saw that the tree was pleasant to the eyes. Who would want a piece of furniture or a curtain or a wall hanging or a car or a house that was not pleasing to the eyes? David had a problem one time with the lust of the eyes: 2 Sam. 11:2 "And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon." David's eye lust conceived with the idea that he was king and he could have whatever he pleased, and it resulted in David committing adultery with Bathsheba, and in the subsequent cover-up David had her husband put to death in battle.

David suffered much because of his sins and it taught him to be careful about what he looked at. Ps. 101:3 "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes."

The Devil had showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. Then using another one of his devices, he attempted to bargain with the Lord. The bargain was you worship me and I will give you all these kingdoms.

How many times have people succumbed to the bargains of the devil? You do this, which is immoral, and you will get what you have lusted after with your eyes.

The above subject verses also teach us that the devil also has desires. One of those desires is that he wants to be worshipped. Is. 14:12 "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." This passage of scripture sets forth the five "I wills" of Satan:

1. I will ascend into heaven. This teaches us that Satan believes that by an act of the creature that he can ascend into heaven.

2. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. This teaches us that Satan desires to rule over man-kind and especially the children of God (stars).
3. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. This teaches us that Satan desires to be worshipped by the Lord's church.
4. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. This teaches us that Satan desires to have more glory than God.5. I will be like the most High. This teaches us that Satan desires to be like God. Since he cannot be like God in that God is good and righteous, he employs the mirror image approach in that he tries to be exactly opposite of God.

Once again in this third temptation, the Lord used the "it is written" to quench the fiery dart of Satan. We note that the scriptures teach us that Christ could not be tempted with evil. There was no possibility that Christ could succumb to the temptations of the Devil. However, he can and do succumb to them, and we need to learn what the Lord has taught us here, and quench the fiery darts of Satan with the "it is written" defense.

Elder Vernon Johnson

Primitive Baptist