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Bible verses about False Gospel
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Using Christmas as an excuse, men have added foreign beliefs and practices to the worship of God the Father and Jesus Christ. They have combined pagan ideas, beliefs and practices with Christianity without examining whether God approves.

This implies presumption by the syncretizer. Presumption is "an attitude or belief dictated by probability." Facts play little part in presumption, just probability and likelihood. Its first synonym is "assumption," followed by "arrogance," "boldness," "impertinence" and "imprudence." Presume, its verb form, means "to undertake without leave or clear justification; to expect or assume especially with confidence; to suppose to be true without proof; to take for granted."

When combining the concepts of syncretism, presumption, and the Israelitish characteristic of misguided zeal for knowledge (Romans 10:1-3), it is easy to see why a holiday like Christmas could become and remain a practice in modern Israel. The Israelitish people—especially the sons of Joseph—seem to be imbued with a spirit of zeal that is both a blessing and a curse. It is almost paradoxical that Israel's zeal for God is often its greatest hindrance, as it retards true righteousness that comes by faith and submission to God. Virtually all of Israel's religious zeal is wasted because it stampedes in the wrong direction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

Genesis 49:22

The people of Joseph are a productive lot. To produce goods and services requires a vast amount of energy—call it zeal, enthusiasm, or drive. They live in a well-watered land that enhances agriculture and industry. The people are so driven that they extend their influence and zeal beyond the boundaries of their countries.

Historically, the people of Joseph have moved into other countries, taken the raw materials to make their products, built manufacturing plants, and influenced the native culture. When the British or Americans colonized, they brought their way of life and imposed it on the natives. Americans continue to introduce movies, television, rock music, household appliances, big cars, etc., to impoverished nations around the globe.

These things just typify the inherent drive of the people of Joseph, a proclivity to expand beyond the frontiers in every endeavor. They are an aggressive and innovative people in science, industry, education, government, and religion. This is generally beneficial and productive, but in one area, religion, it has profound repercussions. Satan has taken advantage of this characteristic, producing a religion that allows Israelites to think that they are Christian and yet still be free to explore the frontiers of religious thought.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

Romans 1:18-20

In Romans 1:18-20, Paul asserts that things involving God's existence, power, and nature are clearly seen, but mankind suppresses the truth. What God wants man to know, man willingly ignores and suppresses through the addition of beliefs, customs, and traditions that cloak the truth. The truth is still there, hidden behind a screen of falsehoods that most never attempt to remove.

Theologians call this process syncretism. According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, it is "the combination of different forms of belief or practice." Syncretism could possibly describe other fields, like philosophy, but scholars use it almost exclusively in religious contexts. Syncretize, the verb form of the word, is very revealing. It means "to attempt to unite and harmonize especially without critical examination or logical unity." In other words, those who syncretize will frequently attach one belief or practice to their religion without trying to ascertain whether it is proper to do so.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

2 Corinthians 11:13-14

The spirit will be reflected in the preaching: It will be anti-Christ even though it proclaims Christ, which is really deceptive. The "anti" part will be revealed in a lack of submission to the doctrines or to the government of God.

This is very serious. God gave religion the responsibility to give moral, spiritual, and ethical guidance to man. If mankind does not realize the spirit behind the false preaching, he will naively reflect the evil spirit that is there.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Right Use of Power


 

Galatians 1:6-7

The major thrust of the Galatian epistle is to put them "back on the track" because someone had been teaching "a different gospel," a perversion of the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-7). The Galatians had derailed on their understanding of how sinners are justified. To be justified means to have one's sins forgiven and to be brought into a right relationship with God. False teachers in Galatia taught that one was justified by doing physical works of some kind. In dealing with this matter, Paul felt an urgency to emphasize that we are justified by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:15-16)

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Does Paul Condemn Observing God's Holy Days?


 

Galatians 1:8

Paul says here that if he or any of the other apostles—or even what would appear to be an angel—were to preach a different gospel to the Galatians than what they had first understood, that teacher was to be accursed. Being "accursed" could run the gamut from God's judgment and wrath falling upon him to being an instruction to part company from that person and not allow him to teach any longer.

The underlying thought here is the same as Jude 3: to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." It is evident that there is a specific gospel which Christ brought, and any variance from that is a falsehood. In the Old Testament, God required the utmost purity in the way He was worshipped. Now, under the New Testament, the purity has to be even greater—Christ came to magnify the law and reveal the spirit and intent, thus doing away with loopholes and technicalities. Just as there were rigid requirements under the Old Covenant, the gospel of the New Covenant is precise and does not allow for variance. There is only one "way" to eternal life—our relationship with God made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The notion of "many paths, all leading us to the same place" is utterly erroneous. If the gospel is changed, or any of the associated doctrines are changed, the resulting body of understanding will produce a different faith than that which is necessary for salvation. Purity of the gospel and doctrine is extremely important.

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 1:8-9

Does it matter what gospel Christians believe? Indeed, it does! Paul pronounces a double curse on anyone who preaches a gospel different from the one preached by the apostles! The gospel is serious business! The apostles were taught directly by Christ, who gave them a commission to "preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The True Gospel


 

Galatians 1:10

Here Paul defends his message. He has already stated that there is only one gospel, but he is now forced to answer, "Why should yours be the only one?"

Since there is only one gospel, why could not an entirely different gospel be the right one? Paul's defense is to stress the origin of his message, and verse 10 is a transition that leads into his answer. What he preached was not done to please men at the expense of the message.

We must understand that when Paul traveled into an area, he did not just blast his audiences with everything that he knew. I Corinthians 9:19-23 informs us that he did all that he could to please people, to cultivate their appreciation of him, but even though he did these things, he never equivocated with what is true.

Acts 17 contains a good example of this. Paul began by speaking to the Athenians about their gods, even admitting to them that they were very religious. He noted all the statues around the Areopagus and highlighted that one was inscribed TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. "I see you have a statue here TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Well, I am here to tell you about that unknown God."

Paul never equivocated about the message, but he did approach people in such as way as to catch their ear and begin to get them to assent to what he was saying. He is not saying that he was always successful in doing this, only that he never equivocated about the message. He never preached merely to appeal to people, but the message he gave was always the truth of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 24)


 

Galatians 1:11

"I certify to you" translates into modern English as "let me make this clear." Then, just as he had denied their claim that his was an inadequate apostleship, he begins to deny their claim of an inadequate source of his gospel. He says it was "not after men," that is, it did not have its source in men. (The proliferation of manmade gospels is something that cannot be stopped. It seems as if God allows it to happen so that we will discern the true from the false.) There is a way we can tell the source of a gospel. A reasonably well-read person can compare Paul's gospel with gospels that come from men, and Paul's agrees with the rest of the Bible.

Another thing is that gospels of men always elevate man at God's expense. Sometimes it is very subtle, but it can even be discerned right in the book of Galatians, once we understand that the people Paul is confronting were elevating themselves as worthy—because of their works—to be called of God. They were not empty of their human nature at all but filled with it! It came out in their proud boasts about how great their works were.

Paul always denigrated himself in favor of God. God and Jesus Christ are always the great Ones, while all the rest of us are lowly servants. This is a major point to comprehend.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 24)


 

Galatians 3:1

The word translated here "foolish" means unintelligent or unwise, and by implication sensual. This implication is very interesting when considered in light of what the letter to the Galatians is fundamentally about: The Galatians were trying to use the rites and ceremonies and physical requirements of Gnostic Judaism to "work" their way into God's Kingdom. Their emphasis was on what they were doing, rather than on God's work in them. Their focus was on things dealing with the senses; things that would be, by definition, sensual—not in terms of being sexual or provocative, but rather indicating the emphasis on the physical senses.

This word (anoeetoi—Strong's #453) is a derivative of a negative participle and noeo (Strong's #3539), which means to exercise the mind, observe, to comprehend, heed, consider, perceive, think, or understand. So the word foolish is the opposite (because of the negative participle) of all these things. The Galatians, then, were not exercising their minds; they were unobservant, uncomprehending, unheeding, inconsiderate, imperceptive, non-thinking, and non-understanding. They were not thinking things all the way through, and not fully considering all of the aspects of the way they were living. They were unable to see that their ideas and views did not add up—that there were some obvious gaps in their understanding that had brought them to the condition they were in.

Paul here is continuing with a theme from Galatians 1:4-9—namely, that the Galatians were falling away ("so soon removed") from the original teaching that had been given to them by God through His human servants. The very foundation of the New Covenant with God is that we can build a relationship with God directly—because of the sacrifice of Christ. For them even to make the covenant with God properly, it was a requirement that they understand that justification by means of a sinless sacrifice was the only way it is possible for us to come into God's presence! Our own righteousness is as "filthy rags" in comparison to God's; our works simply do not amount to enough to even out the scales. But this does not negate the necessity of working! The Galatians' problem was that they thought their personal righteousness was sufficient—and if that was the case, then truly there was no need for Christ to die.

Paul refers to the Galatians being "bewitched." This word means "to malign," or "to fascinate by false representation." The Galatians were drawn in—their fascination was piqued by these Jewish and Gnostic ideas. It did not take long for them to begin slipping spiritually, and a large part of this was because of their misplaced faith. They had more faith in themselves, in their own works, to save them than they had in Christ's crucifixion, resurrection, and intercession! They did not see or know God clearly enough, and the absence of Him in their lives created a void that was quickly and easily filled by these false ideas.

This is the only place in the New Testament where this word ("bewitched") is used (Strong's #940), but numerous other verses speak of this principle. Paul is speaking of this principle when he says in Galatians 1:7-9 not to deviate from this gospel message even if an "angel" from heaven gave them different instructions! The Galatians were weak enough in the faith that they could be easily deceived and drawn away if one of Satan's angels were to appear before them.

Matthew 24:24 speaks of false Christs—false ideas, pictures, impressions about Christ—arising, as well as false prophets, who will be able to manifest terrific signs and wonders to the extent that even the elect of God could be deceived if God allowed it! This is why we have to have such a concrete picture in our minds of what "Christ" is comprised of so that when we begin to hear about or see miraculous things, our faith will not be shaken as the Galatians' was.

David C. Grabbe


 

Colossians 2:20-23

Many of the people who had come into the Colossian church had brought their pagan philosophies with them, and they soon began to have an adverse influence on the entire congregation at Colossae. Paul corrects the people in the church who were doing this in Colossians 2:20-23.

Apparently, some of the people had begun thinking that self-imposed asceticism could somehow contribute to their salvation, and had begun turning away from trusting in Christ. They had more faith in their unchristian works. Paul warned them about this in Colossians 2:8: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Are the Sabbath and Holy Days Done Away?


 

Revelation 6:2

The white horse and the crowned bowman on its back, embodying the first seal of Revelation 6:1-2, are all about religious communication. Like his fellows, this horseman has nothing benign about him—he goes out "conquering and to conquer." He is the one who commences—some would say ultimately causes—"the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8) that results in the death of a quarter of earth's population (Revelation 6:8)!

Biblically, white is an interesting color. In our day, it is immediately associated with cleanliness and purity, as all advertisers know: Marketing a cleanser that is itself white or comes in predominantly white packaging helps to convince the consumer that the product is effective. However, an ancient Israelite might not see white that way. In Leviticus, white appears as the color of leprosy more than a dozen times (see, for instance, Leviticus 13:3). In Genesis 40:16, white baskets presage the death of Pharaoh's baker, and in Joel 1:7, it is the color of a land stripped bare by an enemy.

Conversely, at other times it represents the more positive associations we are accustomed to. In Ecclesiastes 9:8, Solomon writes, "Let your garments always be white," which most commentators feel refers to the joy, purity, and beauty of a righteous, godly individual. The Shulamite describes her Beloved, a type of Christ, as "white" (Song of Songs 5:10), implying His spotless and holy character. Similarly, Daniel sees "the Ancient of Days" clothed in a garment "white as snow" and with hair "like pure wool" (Daniel 7:9), reminiscent of John's description of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1:13-16.

In the book of Revelation itself, white is predominantly positive in meaning, as most of its appearances describe God, Christ, glorified saints, or associated objects like the Great White Throne. Overall, white suggests purity, righteousness, holiness, glory, victory, and perfection. This preponderance of positive, symbolic meanings for the color white—without considering the mainly negative aspects of the other symbols—has led many interpreters to misidentify this horseman as a positive, even divine, image.

For starters, the white horseman carries a bow, a weapon of war. Strangely, John makes no mention of arrows or a quiver, although we may infer the former, since a bow is nearly worthless without arrows. (Then again, the lack of arrows may suggest war fought, not with blood-letting weapons, but with words or ideas; see Psalm 11:2; 64:2-4; Jeremiah 9:8; Ephesians 6:16.) A bow is a purely offensive weapon, even more so than a sword, and is highly effective from long range (for example, archers killed Uriah the Hittite and kings Ahab of Israel and Josiah of Judah). Thus, the foremost idea behind this biblical symbol is powerful, penetrating, deadly accuracy with an intimation of distance.

A sidelight of the bow's imagery is the frequency of its use as a symbol of God's judgment. Job complains, "His archers surround me. He pierces my heart and does not pity; He pours out my gall on the ground. He breaks me with wound upon wound" (Job 16:13-14; see also Lamentations 2:4; 3:12-13; Jeremiah 50:9, 14, 29; 51:3).

The white horseman's bow, then, represents an effective instrument of God's judgment on the world for rebellion against Him. Unlike the sword that Christ wields (Revelation 19:15), the bow's long range hints at God being somewhat removed in His judgment, yet it is just as devastating in its effectiveness at meting out justice. In addition, whereas the sword symbolizes the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12)—His truth—the bow suggests a counterfeit "truth" or a false gospel. As II Thessalonians 2:11-12 says, "God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

The rider of the white horse is given a crown to wear, after which he goes "out conquering and to conquer." These two symbols are related both in their proximity in the verse and in their meanings. First, the word order suggests that being endowed with a crown allows or authorizes the horseman to go to war. Who gives him this crown? Notice Romans 13:1: "For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." An angel tells Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:17, "The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men." God is sovereign over all earthly authority, and it is from Him that this horseman receives his crown and purpose.

Second, crowns generally represent some state of honor or blessing for the wearer. We normally associate crowns with royalty, which in Classical Greek is represented by the word diadema, which has come down to us as "diadem." The word in Revelation 6:2, however, is stéfanos, a circlet, wreath, or garland, oftentimes made of leaves and twigs but sometimes of precious metals. It was awarded as a prize of victory or triumph, as a symbol of honor or authority, as a badge of civic worth or military valor, or as a sign of nuptial joy or festal gladness. Due to the verse's heavy martial emphasis, it is likely that the horseman's crown signifies triumph, authority, or military valor.

Third, this horseman goes "out conquering and to conquer," a fairly literal rendering of the Greek. To us, this phraseology sounds strange, but it is merely expressing two different tenses of the same verb (nikao, "conquer," "subdue," "overcome," "prevail," "get the victory"): the present participle and the aorist subjunctive. In other words, John is telling us that the horseman begins and continues to conquer, and he will certainly conquer or will ultimately conquer (see A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament on this verse). The implication is that his entire purpose is to conquer, to dominate, to subjugate the peoples of the earth.

Overall, the white horse and its rider are vivid representations of a powerful, aggressive, victorious force running unrestrained over mankind. Like a knight in armor or a soldier in full dress uniform, the first horseman appears to the eye as glorious and noble, but its intent is to kill, destroy, and subdue its enemies. Its white façade is deceptive, concealing a deadly, unholy purpose.

These interpretations of the symbols may seem highly speculative and arbitrary until we unlock their mystery with the key supplied by Jesus Christ Himself in the Olivet Prophecy. In a series of four verses, He decodes the meanings of the Four Horsemen. Of the white horseman, He says: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5; see Mark 13:5-6; Luke 21:8). The white horse and its rider represent religious deception.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Four Horsemen (Part Two): The White Horse


 

 




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