Was Jesus Actually a Carpenter?
Was Jesus Actually a Carpenter?
I enjoy every commentary… But, where in the Bible does it say Jesus worked as a carpenter? All I find is that He was known as the carpenter’s son.
Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.
Carpenter is tekton in the original language of the New Testament, and it really means more “builder” than “carpenter.” It means someone who builds out of many kinds of materials (such as stone), not only wood. Jesus may have worked with stone as much as with wood, because stone was a more common building material in that time and place.
- The same root is used in Hebrews 11:10, speaking of God as a builder
- The same root is used in Acts 19:24, speaking of craftsmen
Is this not the carpenter: This was not a compliment. It was a way of pointing out that Jesus had no formal theological training. He was never a formal disciple of a rabbi, much less a prominent rabbi.
Is this not the carpenter’s son: This question was asked out of ignorant prejudice. Yet it can also be asked out of deep appreciation of the fact that the Son of God took such a noble, lowly place.
“Justin Martyr, an ancient writer, testifieth, that our Saviour, ere he entered upon the ministry, made ploughs, yokes, and so forth. But was not that an honest occupation?” (Trapp)
“Julian the apostate, as he is called, once asked a certain Christian, ‘What do you think the carpenter’s son is doing now?’ ‘Making coffins for you and for all his enemies,’ was the prompt reply.” (Spurgeon)
It is wonderful to think that our Lord – of all the professions He could have been – chose to be a carpenter. God is a builder, and He knows how to build in our lives – and He knows how to finish the job.
A few things Jesus could have learned as a carpenter:
- He learned that there is a lot of potential in a log.
- He learned it takes work and time to make something useable.
- He learned that the finest things are made from the hardest wood.
Is it right to say that we were in Christ before the foundation of the world?
Ephesians 1:3 says that we were in Christ before the foundation of the world. My friends say no. What do you think?
Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
I’m going to not agree with you, but I see what you’re getting at. I wouldn’t phrase it to say that we were in Christ before the foundation of the world. To phrase it in those terms could easily be taken to imply a doctrine that the Bible doesn’t teach, namely, the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul. Some people and heretical groups throughout church history have taught that each individual human soul is eternal in its pre-existence. We understand that there’s a sense in which each individual human being is eternal in a forward sense; they are immortal, and they will live forever in one way or another. But we do not at all believe in the pre-existence of the soul. The Bible does not teach that to be true. But to say that we were in Christ before the foundation of the world could imply that.
Now, we were in God’s plan before the foundation of the world. And that plan was made before the foundation of the world. So, if somebody means it exclusively in that sense, then that gives us something to talk about. We would simply say that God has an eternal plan of the ages that He’s working out step by step, generation by generation, throughout human history. And certainly, God being God, He knows those whom He has chosen, those who would respond in faith. Those can be said to be in Christ. And because God engineered and allowed for that in His plan from the beginning of the foundation of the world, someone could say it in that sense.
To say that we were in Christ before the foundation of the world, speaks in such an unclear way that it almost invites misunderstanding. To the best of our ability, we need to explain the ideas, the thoughts, and the truth of the Bible, in the clearest language possible. Yes, God has a plan. Yes, choosing a people for Himself is part of that plan. And their response to that choice is part of that plan. God is working out a plan of the ages. God knew who His chosen ones from before the foundation of the world would be: those who are in Christ. But again, I’m not comfortable with that phrasing. I am comfortable with how we can explain it. I hope that’s helpful for you.
If no one has ever seen God (John 1:18), who did Daniel see sitting on the throne (Daniel 7:9)?
John 1:18 – No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Daniel 7:9 – “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire.”
John 1:18 says that no one has seen God at any time. In 1 Timothy 1:17, Paul also describes God as being invisible, whom no one can see. So, if it’s true that no one has seen God, that God is invisible, and yet Daniel saw some kind of figure on the throne, how do we reconcile these two things?
Notice where it says that God has never been seen and is invisible. If we bring Scripture together with Scripture, we see that it’s specifically talking about about God the Father. You know, we have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are not three different gods; God forbid that we would think that way. But He is one God in three Persons. God the Father is referred to when it says that no one has ever seen God, or that God is invisible. Whenever we have some kind of representation of God in any visible form, then we know that it’s referring to Jesus Christ. Therefore, I would say plainly that the person whom Daniel saw seated on the throne was Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate glory. It was God the Son, before He added humanity to His deity and came and walked among us.
That’s how I would explain it. The passages which speak about no one ever seeing God or God being invisible refer specifically to God the Father, not God the Son. Because obviously, Jesus Christ was God as He walked this earth, and He was obviously visible as well.
What can we learn from the imprecatory Psalms?
The imprecatory Psalms are the psalms which essentially ask God to curse someone else. We find them throughout the Book of Psalms. I don’t know how many there are in total. There may be about ten of the 150 Psalms which very strongly call down curses and judgment upon other people. For example, in Psalm 58:6, David prayed, “Break their teeth in their mouth, O God!” Listen, when you’re asking God to break someone’s teeth in their mouth, you’re praying for a heavy curse upon them. It’s a very logical question to ask how we should regard and view these psalms.
I’ll give you my view on them. First of all, this is real. This is the inspired Word of God. There’s something for us to learn and to be edified from even these psalms. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is that if the psalmist genuinely feels this way, it’s good and right for them to let it out before God. It’s good for them to talk to God about it. If you’ve got ugly, hateful feelings within you, bring them to God honestly. Don’t come to God trying to pretend that you’re a better person than you actually are. What’s the point in that? Come to God honestly. This is a phrase I repeat a lot, because I think there’s some powerful truth in it: you need to bring the real you to the real Jesus. And that’s what the imprecatory Psalms do. They’re raw in coming to God, saying, “Lord, break their teeth in their mouth,” or “Crush my enemies, destroy them.” You can bring that kind of thing to God.
So, number one, it’s God’s word. Number two, it’s good to be honest with God. Number three, it’s good to lay those kinds of feelings down before God. In other words, don’t just to bring them to God, but leave them with God. If the psalmist is praying, “Break their teeth in their mouth,” he’s not breaking their teeth. He’s saying, “God, I give it to You. I want You to do it.” And it’s not only because he knows that, if teeth are to be broken, God could do a much better job than anybody else. But he also does this based on the simple truth that God knows. So, he prays and says, “I’m going to leave this to You.”
Remember what it says a few times in the Scriptures, “’Vengeance is Mine,’ says the Lord.” Vengeance belongs to the Lord. And the imprecatory psalms are a way for the psalmist and for us, if we pray in the same spirit, to leave vengeance with God instead of taking it upon ourselves to carry it out. That is a good and precious thing to do.
So, if you think you’ve got some enemies that need to be crushed and destroyed, you can pray strong prayers. But then, in the spirit of the passage that says, “’Vengeance is Mine,’ says the Lord,” leave the vengeance up to God. Again, it’s much better to say it, or to pray it, or to write it out in the Psalm, than it is to actually do it. I think it’s a wonderful example of how God works.
I rejoice in the imprecatory Psalms. I rejoice in every part of the Scriptures. I think that they all have something to teach us: that we can be honest with God, that we can lay things down before Him, and that we can leave vengeance with Him, instead of taking it into our own hands.
Were the apostles “saved” or “born again” before Jesus died for their sins?
I’m happy you asked this question because I love talking about this. Christians from different theological traditions have different opinions about this. But I got my understanding from the Scriptures, so I’m happy to share with you what I think about this.
First of all, I’m going to make a distinction between “saved” and “born again.” I believe that before the finished work of Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were people who were saved, but not born again. Let me explain what I mean. I’m going to define “saved” as being heaven-bound, in right relationship with God, and having the righteousness of God’s Messiah credited to their life. Therefore, I believe that people were obviously saved before the finished work of Jesus, they were just saved looking forward to the finished work of Jesus.
Now, on the other side of the cross, we benefit from something that Jesus instituted with His death and resurrection. That was the New Covenant. I regard being born again to be a feature of the New Covenant. In the Bible passages which explain the New Covenant most pointedly, in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, and a few other places, we see that regeneration, new life, and being born again is part of the New Covenant. But the New Covenant was not instituted until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, according to my understanding of bringing Scripture together with Scripture, nobody was “born again” before the finished work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection.
So, I would say that the disciples were saved. If Peter had died for some reason before Jesus went to the cross, then he would have gone to heaven, because he trusted in the Messiah, Jesus, and what the Messiah would do. But on the other side of the cross, our side of the cross, we can be born again, we can be regenerated.
I can even give you the exact moment that I believe that the disciples were born again. It’s recorded in John 20, where Jesus met with His disciples. This was after His death on the cross, after He paid it all, and after His resurrection. Jesus met with the disciples. And John tells us that He breathed on them, and He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you that if Jesus Christ, the risen Lord of glory breathes on you, and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” I think you’ve received the Holy Spirit. And I believe that was the moment the disciples were born again, and they received the benefit from the New Covenant that Jesus came to give us in and through His death and resurrection.
I think I might have given you more of an answer than you were bargaining for, but the disciples were saved before Jesus died for their sins, because they trusted the Messiah and what He would do, but they were not born again, because that’s something which was brought about by the New Covenant. The New Covenant was instituted by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Why is the first Council accepted when the Bible was agreed to be what it is now, and others are denied by Protestant churches?
I don’t know if I’m tracking with your question exactly, but I’ll answer it according to what I think you’re trying to ask. I would say that for the most part, Protestant churches do accept more than just the earliest council. I think you might be referring to the Council of Nicaea, which happened early in the fourth century. It was one of the first ecumenical councils, but Protestants are genuinely accepting of subsequent councils as well. I’m thinking especially of the Council of Chalcedon. I think Protestants are accepting of that. But there were many church councils, and not all of them came to the right conclusions.
When Martin Luther stood before the Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms, he affirmed that both councils and popes can and have erred. Therefore, our only final measure of the Christian faith is the Bible itself. This doesn’t fail. Now, our human interpretations of this may fail. But the Bible itself never fails.
Now, you may say that councils are more reliable than popes. Maybe so; it’s an interesting argument to make through history. But I don’t think we should claim consular infallibility just as much as we would not claim papal infallibility. It’s possible for either councils or popes to err. That’s why we should not simply assume that whatever a council has decided, it must be God’s truth. Instead, we thank God for the work of many of the good councils throughout church history. Nicaea was awesome. Chalcedon as well. We thank God for what He has done through these councils. But we don’t regard them or the work they produced as being necessarily infallible. Are they valuable? Yes. Are they infallible? No.
Here’s a link to my ongoing Church History series available on YouTube.
Was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the same as Mary Magdalene?
No, they’re not the same person. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus is known as Mary of Bethany. Bethany was a community in Judea, very close to Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene was from Magdala, a village on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. By the way, if you take an Israel tour, like we did recently, one of the places that you may very well visit is Magdala. You can see various ruins there, including the ruins of an ancient first century synagogue, where Jesus almost certainly preached. I say “almost certainly” because, you know, there’s no graffiti on the wall that says Jesus preached here. But Jesus did make it His custom to preach throughout the synagogues of the Galilee region, and that would have been one of the more prominent ones.
So anyway, that Mary was from Magdala. That’s why we call her Mary Magdalene. Mary of Bethany was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The Mary who washed the feet of Jesus in John 12 is very definitely Mary of Bethany. There was a previous washing of Jesus’ feet referenced in the Gospel of Luke. That was Mary Magdalene in Luke 7.
Can miracles be done today like the Apostles did in the book of Acts?
Can the miracles that the apostles did in the Acts of the Apostles be done nowadays?
It depends on what you mean by be done. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Anybody that Jesus healed in the first century could be healed today. Any person who was raised from the dead in the first century could be raised from the dead today. Any miraculous deliverance seen in the book of Acts can be seen today. Jesus Christ is the same. And He still works astounding miracles.
But I’m going to take apart your phrasing a little bit. Can the miracles that the apostles did in the Acts of the Apostles be done nowadays? They can happen. God can do them. But it is not within the power of men and women today to do such miracles. And I would even argue that it was not in the power of men and women to do them in the book of Acts.
There is an errant view held by some people who believe in the gifts of the Spirit for today as well as by some people who don’t, that miraculous power was inherent in the hands or beings of the Apostles themselves. As if they could just walk around and go, “Boom, you’re healed,” or like lightning was coming out of their fingertips. That’s not the Bible’s idea at all. Basically, God would choose to heal a person, and He may or may not raise up a human instrument to affect that healing. That’s what we’re really talking about when miracles are done in the New Testament, and when they’re done today.
I have come across strange ideas. People say, “Well, if people had the gift of healing or the gift of miracles today, they ought to just walk through a hospital, and say, ‘You’re healed, you’re healed, you’re healed.’” To them I would say that’s not how the gift of healing worked in Bible times, and it’s certainly not how it would work today. It’s presumptuous to think as if it was under somebody’s own initiative or desires or will. No, it’s all under the will of God. When God wants to heal somebody, He may or may not use a human instrument.
But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Whatever He did in New Testament times, He can do today. I’ll make one reservation to that. There is one gift that was given in New Testament times, that I do not believe is being given today. I guess you could say on this particular point I am a “one-point Cessationist.” I believe there’s one gift that God no longer gives: the gift to hear Him perfectly, without error.
Now, friends, God is God. God only does that which is perfect. God only speaks perfectly. But what was different about New Testament times was that God gave the writers of the New Testament Scripture the gift to be able to hear Him and to be able to receive from Him perfectly. Surely, the Holy Spirit was working mightily in any author of Scripture, so that whatever they wrote in those original autograph manuscripts or letters was God’s perfectly inspired Word.
I don’t believe God gives that gift anymore, because we don’t need any more pages added to our Bible. Even though God isn’t speaking imperfectly, we don’t have a perfect revelation coming through prophecy or experience or the supernatural today, because we can only hear and receive imperfectly. What God did in Bible times, He can and does do today.
I want everybody understand this as well. That the book of Acts was basically written over a span of 30 years. Keep that in mind. When we read the book of Acts, we have the tendency to think that there was a miracle happening every day. It’s natural for us to get that kind of perspective, just from the way that we read the book of Acts. It’s a concentrated account. But there are many church movements, there are many seasons of God’s work, including the movement that I come from, the Calvary Chapel movement, which began in the late 1960s. If you were to take a 30-year period of the Calvary Chapel movement, from the late 1960s to the late 1990s, and write only the more spectacular and miraculous highlights of that period, it would read very much like the book of Acts. We need to maintain a bit of perspective on that and believe that God can move and work today.
What does the Bible say about the image and likeness of God in us?
First, I want to stress that from my reading of the book of Genesis, I don’t think it’s talking about two different things when it says the image and the likeness of God. There are some people who try to make the case that there’s something different between the image and the likeness. No, I think this is simply a feature of Hebraic poetry, to say the same thing in repeated ways. I don’t think that image and likeness are two different things. I think they’re just expressing the same idea in an intensified way.
Our understanding of mankind, of each individual man and woman, begins with knowing that they are made in the image of God. That makes humanity different from every other order of creative beings. It obviously makes us different than the animals that dwell on this earth. Biologically speaking, we’re very similar to animals, but there’s something different in humanity. We’re made in the image of God.
In my understanding, this also makes us different from the angels. Angels are mighty, exalted creatures, but nowhere does the Bible say that they are made in the image of God.
Humanity is unique. This means that there is a connection between the divine and the human which is absolutely wonderful. There is a connection between the divine and the human that does not exist between the divine and the angelic. We are capable of closer and more real and genuine relationship with God than even the angels and animals are. Now, I believe that animals or angels can have some relationship with God. But we as human beings have a different and more intimate relationship with God.
To be made in God’s image also means that, like God, human beings have personality. We have knowledge and feelings and a will. We also have morality and the ability to make moral judgments, and we have a conscience.
Finally, you could say being made in the image of God also means that human beings possess spirituality. We are made for communion with God. And we communicate with God on the level of spirit. So, there is a lot to this. I would recommend you take a look at my commentary on Genesis 1, and the relevant verses there. I think it is exciting and wonderful to see that we are, in fact, made in the image of God.
Can God call someone to ministry through another human being? How can I be sure that I have been called?
I believe that some aspect of a call to ministry could come through another person. But ultimately, it will be confirmed to the individual. I would not feel comfortable at all, with somebody going into ministry who felt no personal call, no personal prompting to the ministry. Going into ministry because other people told them “You should be in ministry” doesn’t sound or seem right to me at all.
Now, God can use someone as an aspect of the call. But there should also be some individual sense of assurance of calling to go alongside what other people said. In my own experience, before I ever did anything in ministry, someone spoke words over me at a prayer meeting with some friends, which they thought were inspired from the Lord, and I thought were inspired from the Lord. Part of those words spoken over me talked about a call to ministry, and that had never been on my radar at all. But the main message spoken to me was that God has a calling on my life. And later on, I had some significant and profound experiences of calling for myself. So, God can use both. But I would be hesitant if a person’s call seemed to come only from other people, and not from something that the Lord had spoken to them and given them assurance of directly.
Can you explain the difference between the “fear of the Lord” as in reverence fear vs the “perfect love drives out fear” of 1 John 4:18?
1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18 is talking about a servile fear, as older commentators would call it. Think of a beaten down person who has been beaten time and again. When somebody raises their hand up against them, they cower in fear. That’s the kind of fear which God’s perfect love puts away.
Now, there’s another aspect of fear mentioned in the Bible. It is fear connected with reverence and honor. That kind of fear is completely compatible with the work of God in our life and our walk with God.
But there is a significant difference. I would say that the fear that we’re to avoid – the fear that God wants to take away from us – is fear that would want us to have nothing to do with God. It’s fear that would make us afraid of what He might do to us. It’s fear that tends to divide relationship instead of deepening true honor to God.
Should we still call ourselves sinners after being born again?
Should we still call ourselves sinners after being regenerated? Or is it better not to speak that over oneself after the Lord Jesus sets us free?
This is a very good question, because we do want to honor the reality of what Jesus Christ has done in our lives. In Jesus, we as believers are not just forgiven of our sins, we are set free from the dominion and power of sin. It’s remarkable to think that all God does in the life of a believer. So, I can see what you’re getting at. It seems kind of strange for us to take a look at this amazing glory of what God has done in the life of the believer, and then still just think of them as a sinner. So that’s on one side of the question.
But there’s another aspect of the question. It’s just being honest with the fact that we will continue to sin, hopefully less and less, until we are glorified with Jesus Christ in heaven. Remember what John says in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” He was writing that to believers.
Look, we still sin. But it’s wrong for us to think of our primary identity as being sinners in Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are adopted. In Christ, we are sons and daughters of God. In Christ, we are kings and priests. In Christ, we are servants of a majestic Lord. Now, we do continue to sin. We don’t want to pretend that that’s not the case. But at the same time, we are wonderfully justified and declared righteous by Jesus Christ through His work in us.
I see the difficulty that you’re dealing with. I’m more interested in the heart that someone has behind this more than the actual words that they say. If someone knows they are child of God, knows that Jesus Christ has made them born again by God Spirit, knows that they’re a temple of the Holy Spirit, knows all these marvelous things that God has done for them. If someone knows all those things, and then is able to say, “Well, yes, I’m a sinner. I still sin,” okay, great. That’s in perspective. But if a believer were to call themselves a sinner, without an awareness of their wonderful standing and status in Christ, I would question that.
Is the restrainer the Holy Spirit?
2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 – And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
Yes, the restrainer referenced in 2 Thessalonians 2 is the Holy Spirit. It says that he will be there till He who restrains is taken out of the way. Yes, that restrainer is the Holy Spirit. But He’s not removed. He’s only taken out of the way. His hindering influence is no longer active.
Is the Holy Spirit only in saved followers of Christ?
Yes, He is only in believers. The Holy Spirit can be with those who do not yet believe. He’s with them in the sense of the conviction of sin. He’s with them in the sense of testifying of Jesus Christ to them. So, the Holy Spirit’s relationship to those who do not yet believe is described as a with relationship. But then, when a person is born again, when they put their faith or trust in Him, when they believe and repent, then the Holy Spirit is in them.
Does “grieving the Holy Spirit” mean that the Holy Spirit leaves you?
Grieving the Holy Spirit does not mean that He leaves you, right?
That is correct. Grieving the Holy Spirit does not mean He is removed. The Holy Spirit is given to the believer as a seal and a permanent possession. We shouldn’t regard the Spirit as being something that is given and taken away, given and taken away. Now, the Holy Spirit may lessen lessen His activity in someone’s life because they have grieved Him. But we’re not talking about removing. We’re just simply talking about lessening His activity in their life.
How can the church do effective evangelism? Should door-to-door evangelism make a comeback?
How does the church establish effective evangelism, besides proclaiming to evangelize without putting any work? Should door-to-door evangelicalism make a comeback?
Maybe. Look, I think this is what everybody who’s trying to reach their community needs to do. They need to try to understand in a cultural sense what will be the most effective way to meet that community. And it will change from place to place, from generation to generation, from neighborhood to neighborhood. If there are neighborhoods that can be effectively reached for the gospel by going door to door, then Christians should do it. If more people will be reached by first contacting people online, then Christians should pursue that.
When I first gave my life to the Lord, evangelistic concerts by Christian bands were an extremely effective evangelistic approach. Today, not so much. It’s really not the same these days. Maybe that day will come back.
Therefore, we need to come prayerfully before the Lord and ask He would give us the keys to reaching our community. Don’t be afraid to try some new things. We should see what God’s hand and God’s blessing may be upon, and then do the best we can. No matter what, I’m always encouraged when churches are doing a little bit too much in evangelism rather than too little.
It’s been said that some people questioned Moody’s evangelism work and his evangelistic approach. To that, Moody replied, “I prefer the way that I do evangelism to the way that you don’t do evangelism any day.” And I think there’s something powerful to that.