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#4.04 ALL SCRIPTURE IS PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE

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Introduction 4.04

Many people have discarded much of the Old Testament in modern times, giving more weight to the New Testament scriptures. While this is an understandable attitude, because the New Testament reveals the New Covenant, and supersedes the Old Covenant, it is not a correct thing to do. The New testament declares that, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine." (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore when we try to understand true doctrine, the Old Testament and New Testament should be studied together, looking to harmonize some of the apparent differences. This is a bible study showing that all scripture is profitable for doctrine, including the Old Testament, which was the only bible for the New Testament church for at least 20 years after the death of Jesus, so they did not have the same attitude as modern Christians. This study will illustrate why the Old Testament scriptures are still so important. Paul said:

(Acts 24:14) "But I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the law and in the prophets.
(Romans 15:4) "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
(2 Timothy 3:16) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

The early church did not have the New Testament: they wrote it! They used the Old Testament scriptures (1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:14-17), which is full of "types or shadows" (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1), their recollection of the words of Jesus (Luke 24:8; John 14:26; Acts 11:16), spiritual discernment from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14), revelations (1 Corinthians 14:6; 2 Corinthians 12:1; 12:7; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3), dreams (Acts 2:17), and visions (Acts 2:17; 10:17; 2 Corinthians 12:1; Revelation 9:17) to put the whole thing together, God being in overall control at all times. The fact that Paul said, "All scripture ... is profitable for doctrine," (2 Timothy 3:16), and, "whatever things were written before were written for our learning," (Romans 15:4), show clearly that no doctrine can be formed without using the Old Testament, to confirm either directly, or by type or shadow, the spiritual truths meant for us today. Paul also said, "the law is spiritual:" (Romans 7:14), and that he believed "all things that are written in the law and the prophets." (Acts 24:14). So no scripture can be discarded as being "out of date"; even where its literal meaning still applies in a natural sense, there must also be a spiritual truth there for us. The value of comparing the Old Testament type with the New Testament can be best demonstrated by examples.

#4.041 Example 1: How do we get "clean meat"?

LEVITICUS 11:1-8
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them,
2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which you shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
3 Whatever parts the hoof, and is cloven footed, and chews the cud, among the beasts, that shall you eat.
4 Nevertheless these shall you not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he chews the cud, but does not divide the hoof; he is unclean to you.
5 And the badger, because he chews the cud, but does not divide the hoof; he is unclean to you.
6 And the hare, because he chews the cud, but does not divide the hoof; he is unclean to you.
7 And the swine, though he divides the hoof, and is cloven footed, yet he does not chew the cud; he is unclean to you.
8 Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcass shall you not touch; they are unclean to you.

Note: We have already seen that the divided hoof is a type of rightly dividing the word of God (See #2.43), but the type here gives us information that we cannot get from elsewhere. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that we cannot obtain the truth if we do not rightly divide the word of God, but the statements "he is unclean to you." (Leviticus 11:5-6), show that without rightly dividing the word of God, there is no possibility of obtaining the truth! We are not talking about little bits of truth, which many people have to some degree, but rather the whole truth, the full picture, which nobody has yet. The type shows us that we should not read, or meditate on scripture that has not been rightly divided, because it will poison us, it produces unclean meat. It also makes clear the fact that we also need to meditate on the scripture to get the truth, that is, chew the cud. Without doing this we still cannot get the truth, even if the word has been rightly divided, because "he does not chew the cud; he is unclean to you." (Leviticus 11:7). Where does that leave someone who picks up the bible and reads chapter after chapter, without rightly dividing it, or meditating on it? The answer is there is no possibility of such a person obtaining the truth this way, because this is totally the wrong way to study the word of God. It violates both of the conditions required to obtain the truth, and God will not honour erroneous study methods. The exception may be if someone memorizes the word so well, that they can rightly divide it in their heart and mind. This example makes very clear the necessity of considering the "types" from the Old Testament scriptures when we study the word of God, in order to obtain a full understanding.

#4.042 Example 2: What was Paul's "thorn in the flesh"?

2 CORINTHIANS 12:7 (Paul)
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Note: Whenever we find an unusual expression in the New Testament, and we wish to understand what it means, the best place to start is the Old Testament, which was the bible for the New Testament church at that time. Looking there for the meaning of a "thorn", we find:

(Numbers 33:55-56) "But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which you let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land in which you dwell.
Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do to you, as I thought to do to them."
(Joshua 23:11-13) "Take good heed therefore to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God,
Else if you do in any way go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations, even those who remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in to them, and they to you;
Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.
(Judges 2:2-3) "And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall throw down their altars: but you have not obeyed my voice: why have you done this?
Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their Gods shall be a snare to you.
(Ezekiel 28:24) "And there shall be no more a pricking brier to the house of Israel, nor any of grieving thorn of all that are round about them, that despised them; and they shall know that I am the Lord GOD."

Why did Paul use such an expression as "a thorn in the flesh," (2 Corinthians 12:7) when describing his affliction to the Corinthians? The common interpretation is that it referred to some kind of obscure sickness, which God refused to heal Paul of. But if he was sick, why didn't he say that he was sick? He said that Epaphroditus was sick (Philippians 2:26), and he also said that Trophimus was sick (2 Timothy 4:20). So if a "thorn in the flesh" refers to sickness, why didn't Paul say that Epaphroditus had a "thorn in the flesh"? Why didn't he say that Trophimus had a "thorn in the flesh"? Where in the bible does it ever record anyone being healed of a "thorn in the flesh"? When people were sick or diseased, doesn't the bible state it plainly everywhere? God does not try to hide, or disguise the fact that Christians get sick, but rather set gifts of healing in the church (1 Corinthians 12:9), and ordained that the prayer of faith would heal the sick (James 5:15). Paul wasn't trying to confuse the Corinthians by referring to his affliction as a "thorn in the flesh", but he used terminology from the Old Testament, which explained his situation very well. He said that he believed, "all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:" (Acts 24:14), so he knew what these scriptures meant, and they would also be available to the Corinthians too. When the Israelites went into the promised land, they were told to destroy their enemies completely, and often they did (Numbers 21:35; Deuteronomy 2:33-34; Joshua 6:21; 8:24), but when they did not obey, and mixed with them, then they would vex them, and come back and persecute them in times of weakness. This situation still exists today with Israel, particularly with those nations around them who are possessors of the original land given to Joshua (Joshua 1:4). Notice that a "thorn" always refers to people:

(Numbers 33:55) "those who you let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns1 in your sides, and shall vex you in the land in which you dwell."
(Joshua 23:13) "these nations ... they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns1 in your eyes,"
(Judges 2:2-3) "the inhabitants of this land; ... they shall be as thorns in your sides,"
(Ezekiel 28:24) "there shall be no more a pricking brier ... nor any of grieving thorn2 of all that are round about them, that despised them;"

In this last scripture, the word translated thorn2 (Hb. קוֹץ , Htr. qôts) is similarly translated elsewhere also. The fact that it does refer literally to a thorn is evident by its use everywhere. The word translated thorns1 (Hb. צְנִנִים , Htr. tsenînîm) only occurs in twice (Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13). In two of these scriptures (Numbers 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24) the word used in the Septuagint (Gtr. skolops) to translate the Hebrew word "qôts", is the same word used by Paul when he referred to his "thorn in the flesh" (2.Corinthians 12:7). This shows us that this was exactly what Paul was referring to. Nowhere in scripture does a "thorn" ever refer to a sickness, or disease, or physical infirmity, but only to people who were a nuisance, or harassment. So why then would Paul ever use it in any other context? The answer is that he wouldn't. Paul used this terminology to convey to the Corinthians the exact nature of his affliction, just like we might refer to somebody who troubles us today as "a pain in the neck". Even though the Israelites suffered their "thorn" through disobedience, while Paul's was for his own safeguard against self exaltation, it does not alter the fact that a "thorn" refers to people who persecuted in both cases. Strictly speaking we could say that Paul's "thorn" was spiritually the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him (2 Corinthians 12:7), and physically the people who he used to persecute Paul (Acts 13:50; 14:2; 14:19; 17:5; 17:13; 21:27-28). But to interpret a "thorn in the flesh" as a sickness, or physical infirmity, is a subtle ploy of the devil to steal the faith of ignorant Christians and keep them sick. Once we know that Paul's "thorn" was not a sickness, the devil will never be able to use it to stop us from getting healed. However, we now need to answer the question, "If a thorn in the flesh means persecution, why doesn't the bible say that other Christians had a thorn in the flesh"? because we have all been promised persecution (John 15:20; Phps1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12). The answer is that Paul's persecution was excessive in nature (2 Corinthians 11:23-25), and though many Christians were persecuted, some even to death (Acts 7:54-60), Paul's was over a prolonged period. His attitude was "I am more;" and he faced "deaths often." (2 Corinthians 11:23). There is no evidence that anyone else had such prolonged and severe persecution through an evil angel being assigned against them individually. Why else would Jesus have a crown of thorns put on his head (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17) if it was not to symbolize that he is the king of all those who are persecuted? Without going back to the types in the Old Testament it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to understand what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was.
For a thorough analysis of Paul's Thorn see RP112 #7 Paul's Thorn in the Flesh was not a sickness

#4.043 What did Paul mean when he said, "plucked out your own eyes"?

GALATIANS 4:13-15 (Paul)
13 You know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh you despised not, nor rejected: but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 Where is the blessedness you spoke of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

Note 1: Some have tried to use this scripture to say that Paul had an eye affliction which was carried over from his blindness on the road to Damascus, and that the Galatians would have been willing to pluck their own eyes out and give them to him, if it would have helped him. Such reasoning is contrary to the correct way to interpret scripture. The Galatians plucking their eyes out would be an absurd solution, even if Paul did have an eye affliction, wouldn't it? Nowhere can we find in scripture where God failed to heal anybody properly, and when he healed Paul (Acts 9:17-18; 22:13), he was perfectly healed: "his work is perfect:" (Deuteronomy 32:4). We have also seen evidence that Paul was past the place of being afflicted by sickness (See Paul's Thorn #b7.5 Note). Others have suggested that this was nothing more than a casual remark by Paul, similar to expressions today, "I would do anything for you", or "I would die for you", or "I would cut off my right arm for you". However, Paul was not a man for casual remarks, and in view Jesus words, "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37), this explanation is unsatisfactory.

Note 2: So what does it mean? To correctly interpret this statement we must look to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament when an important adversary was taken captive, the victors often took the captive's eyes out, as a permanent means of ensuring that he did not escape and oppose them again. The Philistines did it to Samson (Judges 16:21), and the Babylonians did it to Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:7).
When Paul became a Christian, in a sense he was "captured" from the world by Jesus. He referred to himself as, "I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:1), "the prisoner of the Lord," (Ephesians 4:1), "me his prisoner," (2 Timothy 1:8), and "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ," (Philemon 1). Having counted everything about his former life as loss, and referred to them as "dung" (Philippians 3:8), Paul had effectively made his escape almost impossible, and became equivalent to a prisoner with his eyes taken out. When he said to the Galatians, "you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me." (Galatians 4:15), he was expressing how willing they were, at that time, to voluntarily become prisoners of Christ along with him, giving themselves totally over to his teaching, in such a way that escaping again would have been almost impossible. However, this is not something that they could do in an instant, it takes time, and dedication in seeking God. Since that time they had in fact been seduced by false teachers, and had slipped back under the law (Galatians 3:1-29; 4:1-31). Nevertheless, this explanation enables us to dispense with any idea that Paul had a physical eye affliction, and shows how important it is to consider all scripture when trying to interpret such a statement.

#4.044 Was the Sabbath day nailed to the Cross (Colossians 2:16)?

COLOSSIANS 2:14-17 (Paul)
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of a new moon, or of the sabbath1 days:
17 Which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Note 1: This scripture is used by some to say that when Jesus died on the cross he nailed the ordinances, such as keeping the Sabbath day, to the cross, so that we do not have to keep it any more. The key verse in this scripture is verse 16, where 5 things are mentioned: meat, drink, a holyday, a new moon, and a Sabbath. Whenever we get things mentioned together like these, and we wish to know what Paul is talking about, it is wise to consider where he gets them from. Remember that the bible for the early church was the Old Testament scriptures, so this is the obvious place to look, especially as Paul said:

(Romans 15:4) "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning,"

He also believed "all things which are written in the law and in the prophets." (Acts 24:14). So if we first look to the Old Testament to find out where the words "meat" and "drink" come together, we find that they often come together concerning the daily offerings and sacrifices that were made under the law:

(Exodus 29:38-41) "Now this is that which you shall offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.
The one lamb you shall offer in the morning; and the other lamb you shall offer at even:
And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.
And the other lamb you shall offer at even, and shall do to it according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to its drink offering, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to the LORD."

These were daily offerings which were to be made with the daily sacrifices, and they are spoken of in many other places:

(Leviticus 23:13) "And its meat offering shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, ... and its drink offering shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin."
(Leviticus 23:18) "And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs ... with their meat offering, and their drink offerings,"
(Leviticus 23:37) "a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:"
(Numbers 6:15) "and their meat offering, and their drink offerings."
(Numbers 6:17) "the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering."
(Numbers 15:4-5) "bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil.
And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering "
(Numbers 15:6) "Or for a ram, you shall prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil."
(Numbers 15:7) "And for a drink offering you shall offer the third part of an hin of wine,"
(Numbers 15:9) "Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering"
(Numbers 15:10) "And you shall bring for a drink offering half an hin of wine, ""
(Numbers 15:24) "with his meat offering, and his drink offering,"
(Numbers 28:5) "And a tenth part of an ephah of flour for a meat offering, mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil."
(Numbers 28:7-8) "And its drink offering shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place you shall cause the strong wine to be poured to the LORD for a drink offering."
And the other lamb you shall offer at even: as the meat offering of the morning, and as its drink offering, ..."

These scriptures make it clear that often when the words "meat" and "drink" come together (KJV), they are referring to the Old Testament offerings. The same Hebrew word (Hb, מִנְחָה , Htr. minchah) is used to translate the two words "meat offering" in all of these scriptures, and it is obvious from the ingredients of flour and oil that it is a "food or grain offering" rather than a "meat offering". This is confirmed by its use elsewhere in scripture, for example:

(Genesis 4:3) "Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD."

The word translated "meat" (Colossians 2:16) (Gr. βρώσει, Gtr. brosei) is the dative case of "brosis", a noun which can also mean food, as it is so used elsewhere in the New Testament:

(2 Corinthians 9:10) "bread for your food".

Note 2: Now let us examine the other three things mentioned, "a holyday, a new moon, and a Sabbath." The word translated "holyday" (Gr. ἑορτῆς, Gtr. heortes) is the genitive singular of "heorte", a word which occurs 27 times in the New Testament, and is translated "feast" (26x), and "holyday" (1x). It means "feast". To understand what Paul was writing about here, we must again go back into the Old Testament and find where these three words, "feast, new moon, and Sabbath", occur together.

(1 Chronicles 23:31) "And to offer all burnt sacrifices to the LORD in the Sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded to them, continually before the LORD:"
(2 Chronicles 2:4) "Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, ... for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God."
(2 Chronicles 31:3) "He appointed also ... the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD."
(Nehemiah 10:33) "For the showbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the Sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.
(Ezekiel 46:4-6) "And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer to the LORD in the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish.
And the meat offering shall be an ephah for a ram, and the meat offering for the lambs as he shall be able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.
And in the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram: they shall be without blemish."

Just as the words "meat" and "drink" were referring to sacrifice offerings made on certain days, even so, looking at the above scriptures, it becomes obvious that the words "feast", "new moon", and "Sabbath" always come together when referring to offerings made on those days. In fact there is one scripture where all five things, meat, drink, feast, new moon, and Sabbath are all mentioned together:

(Ezekiel 45:17) "And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the Sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel:"

Look at the order of these underlined words. They are in exactly the same order as Paul quoted them, making it obvious that this was exactly what Paul was referring to. In fact all of these offerings on each day are listed out for us to read:

(Numbers 28:1-8) Daily meat and drink offerings.
(Numbers 28:9-10) Sabbath day offerings.
(Numbers 28:11-18) New moon offerings.
(Numbers 28:17-25) The offerings for the feast of Unleavened Bread.
(Numbers 28: 26-31) The offerings for the feast of Weeks (or First-fruits).
(Numbers 29:1-6) The offerings for the feast of Trumpets.
(Numbers 29:7-11) The offerings on the day of Atonement.
(Numbers 29:12-40) The offerings for the feast of Tabernacles.

Paul knew these scriptures, and he was referring to these offerings in Colossians 2:16, but as is habitual with New Testament Greek, he missed out a word: "offerings". This would not confuse the readers in those days, because the Old Testament was their bible, and they would know to look there to see what Paul was writing about, but it has allowed many to misinterpret what Paul was saying here. So let us look now at a literal translation:

(Colossians 2:16) "Therefore, do not let anyone judge you in food or in drink offerings, or offerings in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of Sabbaths."

Note 3: So what "handwriting of ordinances" did Jesus blot out, "nailing it to his cross;" (Colossians 2:14)? We might argue that it couldn't refer to the ten commandments, because they were initially written by "the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18), not mans hand, and therefore they endure for ever (Psalm 89:34; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:25). However, they were also written by Moses in the book of the law, so other scriptures will help to clarify:

(Ephesians 2:15) "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances;"

The "law of commandments" referred to here is called a "law of carnal commandment" (Hebrews 7:16), and the "ordinances" referred to are called "carnal ordinances":

(Hebrews 9:10) "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and various washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation."

They are the ordinances to do with these sacrifices, some of which were man made:

(Nehemiah 10:32-33) "Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God;
For the showbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the Sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God."

They had made ordinances to cover the cost of these sacrifices.
None of these offerings (or their ordinances) were necessary any more, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins." (Hebrews 10:4). Jesus fulfilled them all, and he was the real offering:

(Isaiah 53:10) "you shall make his soul an offering for sin,"
(Ephesians 5:2) "Christ also ... has given himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God",
(Hebrews 10:10) "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
(Hebrews 10:12) "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,"
(Hebrews 10:14) "For by one offering he has perfected for ever those who are sanctified."

This is in total agreement with the next verse in Colossians:

(Colossians 2:17) "Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ."

These sacrifices were all a shadow or type of the physical body of Jesus Christ, which was the true and only acceptable offering for sin, and which made all the sacrifices under the law obsolete:

(Hebrews 10:10) "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

So let us summarize what we have said. When Jesus died on the cross he fulfilled all the Old Testament offerings and sacrifices for sin. His physical body, and his Soul (or life) were the ultimate sacrifice which was acceptable to God. Since then, none of the Old Testament sacrifices or offerings under the law, or the ordinances that go with them, are necessary any more. They were only a type or shadow of the body of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul is saying in this scripture (Colossians 2:14-17), and he is saying nothing at all about the Sabbath day itself being done away with, only the sacrifices which were being made on that day. The law written on stone or paper was the Old Covenant, which has been done away with, and what has replaced it is the New Covenant, with God's laws written in the heart of the believer (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16). The carnal interpretation has gone and been replaced by the spiritual, because "the law is spiritual" (Romans 7:14). However, as Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18), we cannot write off the Ten Commandments without contradicting Jesus.
This example has again shown the importance of using all scripture, including the Old Testament, when trying to interpret New Testament teaching.

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