Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. Proverbs 25:11

























- S -

Salvation. God’s saving man from the horrible consequences of sin. 

The Greek word translated "salvation" in the New Testament is the word stria (4991). The Friberg Analytical Lexicon translates the Greek word stria as "salvation, deliverance." Friberg describes salvation under three headings: (1) Physical salvation, a rescue from danger. It equates this meaning to several synonyms, including "deliverance, preservation, safety". It gives Hebrews 11:7 as an example. (2) Spiritual salvation - a "religious technical term for safety of the soul in a spiritual sense. The chief synonym is "salvation," and the Scripture reference given is 2 Corinthians 7:10. (3) Friberg's third use is "of the messianic deliverance at the end of the present age." The chief synonym is "salvation," and the best reference is Romans 13:11.

I am uncertain as to what Friberg, et al mean by "messianic deliverance at the end of the present age." I doubt they mean the same thing as I. To me, Messianic Deliverance at the end of the present age cannot exclude political salvation for the nation of Israel. And that political salvation cannot be dissociated from spiritual salvation. Moreover, that political salvation will also be extended to the Gentile nations of the world.

Aspects of Salvation

Examples of physical salvation (i.e. physical deliverance) include Acts 27:34; Philippians 1:19; Heb. 11:7. A specialized physical deliverance is the prospect that the church has of being physically delivered from the earth and thus being exempted from the horrors of the Tribulation period (1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:13).

Examples of spiritual salvation (i.e. deliverance of the soul from the ravages of sin and eternal judgment) include Luke 19:9; Romans 10:10; 11:11; Acts 4:12; Eph. 1:13; 1 Pet. 1:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:2; Jude 1:3.

Examples of national salvation (deliverance for Israel) include Rom. 10:1; 11:25-27; for individuals from among the Jewish and Gentile nations, Rom. 1:16.

Examples of ultimate salvation (deliverance of the soul from sin and the body from the cursed effects associated with sin) include Rom. 13:11; 1 Thess. 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:10; Heb. 1:14; 5:9; 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5; Rev. 12:10.

A Discussion of Spiritual Salvation.

Because Adam’s sin has been imputed to all mankind; because man has been contaminated with a sin nature that he has inherited from Adam; and because each man personally commits acts of sin, he is under a death sentence. 

This death sentence includes, in the first place, a separation of man from God (Spiritual Death); in the second place an eventual separation of man’s soul from his body (Physical Death); and in the third place an ultimate eternal separation of man from God in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone (Second Death).  Since man is hopelessly dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), cruelly energized by Satan (Eph. 2:2), helplessly ensnared by his own sinful flesh (Eph. 2:3), and inevitably influenced by the corrupt world in which he lives (Eph. 2:2), God has had to take the initiative in rescuing man from his hopeless plight. 

From eternity past God reached out to mankind (Rev. 13:8).  In His great love for man, He sent His Son to become man, to live a perfect life, to die a perfect death for the sins of all, to be resurrected, and to ascend to heaven to be seated at God’s right hand in a position of great power and prominence.  Man is saved from the deadly consequences of sin by accepting God’s viewpoint on the evil of his own sins, by believing in the efficacy of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for his sins, and by placing his faith in Jesus Christ alone.  In consequence of this faith God grants to him forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.  In its ultimate form, salvation (Rom. 1:16; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Tit. 2:11-14; Heb. 1:14; 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5; 2 Pet. 3:15) includes salvation of one’s soul and one’s body from the guilt, consequences, and presence of sin in a saved global community on New Earth and in its capital city, New Jerusalem in eternal fellowship with God, Christ, and the redeemed of all ages.  There are a number of terms that refer to different aspects of salvation. 

From the standpoint of God, some of these terms include foreknowledge (Rom. 8:29; 11:2), predestination (Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph. 1:5, 11), calling (Rom. 8:28, 30; 9:11; 1 Cor. 1:24; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 17:14), drawing (John 6:44) (perhaps another term for the same concept as calling), justification, glorification, election (Eph. 1:4), inseparability (or perhaps better, security) (John 10:14-16, 26-29; Rom. 8:1, 26-39), adoption (Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5), and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19). 

From the stand point of Jesus Christ, some of these terms include ransom (Mark 10:45), redemption (Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18), forgiveness (Acts 10:43; 13:39), inheritance (Eph. 1:11), advocacy (1 John 2:1), propitiation (1 John 2:2), and intercession (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24). (We sometimes use the word "atonement" in reference to Jesus' sacrifice, but, technically, that is an OT word, not a NT word.)

From the standpoint of the Holy Spirit, some of these terms include conviction (John 16:8-11), baptism (1 Cor. 12:13), indwelling (John 14:17; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19), regeneration (Tit. 3:5), intercession (Rom. 8:26, 27) and sealing (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). 

From the standpoint of the individual Christian and his response, some of the related terms include repentance (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 5:31), faith / believe (Mark 1:15; John 3:16, 18, 36; 5:24; Acts 10:43; 13:39), receive (John 1:12), and perseverance (Matt. 13:20-22; Rom. 5:3-4; Heb. 6:1; 10:22-23).

Messianic Deliverance - Political and Spiritual Salvation for Israel

Political Salvation for Israel

There is no finer display of political and spiritual salvation for Israel than the prophetic, Spirit-filled prayer of Zacharias in Luke 1:67-79. In his prayer He blesses Israel's God, who has visited Israel "and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant" (Luke 1:68-69). The word "horn" in this context speaks of a mighty ruler. In the context this must be a Davidic king. He can be referring to only one person, Jesus, anointed by God to be King of Israel. Zacharias prophesies that Jesus, a royal descendant of King David, will be a strong political ruler who will provide political salvation for the nation of Israel. Zacharias continues by noting that his prophecy agrees with the pronouncements of God's prophets from long ago (Luke 1:70). He continues by defining this political salvation: "Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us" (Luke 1:71). Here he is quoting from Psalm 106:10. This political salvation to be achieved for Israel through Jesus Christ will be for the purpose of (a) showing mercy toward our fathers, and (b) remembering His holy covenant (Luke 1:72), which Zacharias defines as God's oath which He swore to Abraham our father (Luke 1:73). (c) Zacharias furthered described this salvation as "being rescued from the hand or our enemies" (Luke 1:74), inarguably, a political salvation. 

Spiritual Salvation for Israel

But it is also clear from Zacharias' prophecy that he was not interested merely in political salvation for Israel. The purpose of Jesus' political salvation of Israel is so that we, "being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days" (Luke 1:74). Furthermore, in the next portion of his prophecy (Luke 1:76-79), which deals with his own son (John the Baptist), Zacharias predicted his own son would "'go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins" (Luke 1:76-77). That is spiritual salvation. But in his last sentence Zacharias states the ultimate impact of Jesus' rule will be "to guide our feet in the way of peace" (Luke 1:79), which, once again, must include political salvation.

Messiah's Second Coming and Subsequent Reign over Israel

Israel's political / spiritual salvation will occur at her Messiah's Second Coming. (1) Israel will undergo national repentance (Zech. 12:10-13:1; Rom. 11:26). (2) God will take away Israelis' hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh (Ezek. 11:19; 36:26). (3) This will come about because God will implement His New Covenant with Israel (Isa. 59:20-21; Jer. 31:33-34; Heb. 8:8-12). (4) This will take place during Christ's Millennial Reign from David's Throne in Mount Zion, Jerusalem, Israel (Zech. 14:9; Matt. 25:31; Rev. 20:4-6). (5) Israel will dwell in her land in peace and be elevated to the chief nation among all the nations of the world. (a) The earth's nations will serve Israel in the Millennium, embracing Zion as the City of Yahweh and His Davidic King, Jesus (Isa. 60:10-14). (b) Foreigners will perform menial tasks for Israelis (Isa. 61:5). (c) Because Israel will live in righteousness before Yahweh, He will bless her so that she will experience honor and respect among the earth's nations instead of humiliation and contempt (Isa. 61:7-9). (d) All nations of the world will assemble in Jerusalem to worship at appointed feasts and learn of God's ways from King Jesus (Isa. 2:1-4; Zech. 14:16-21). (e) All mankind will come to Jerusalem to bow down before Yahweh, present in the person of Jesus (Isa. 66:23).

Eternal Salvation for Israel 

Israel's political / spiritual salvation during the time span of Christ's Millennial Kingdom will be wonderful. But the earth and universe have been cursed by man's sin. Both must be burned with fire (2 Pet. 3:7-12) and replaced by New Heavens and Earth (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1) in the Eternal State. New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10) will be the capital city of New Earth. Israel will continue to be the leading nation of New Earth. (It goes without saying that God's eternal order cannot be more Jewish than New Jerusalem! The capital city of New Earth will not be called New York or New Delhi!). The names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel will be emblazoned on the twelve gates of the eternal city (Rev. 21:12). I believe the land of Israel will forever exist on New Earth in a recognizable configuration. It is my belief that New Jerusalem, as it is described, will orbit the earth much as our moon does today. It will shed light on New Earth below (Isa. 60:3; Rev. 21:24). Israel as a saved, redeemed nation will be the predominant nation over all the nations of New Earth, for Israel's King, Jesus, will reign with His Father in a co-regency from their throne (thronos, 2362) (Rev. 22:1, 3). 

Messianic Deliverance - Political and Spiritual Salvation for Gentiles

The Messianic Reign of Christ over Gentiles on this Present Earth

But "Messianic deliverance at the end of the present age" is not merely for Israelis. Hebrews 9:28 speaks of an ultimate deliverance from sin and all the gruesome consequences of sin, including death, disease, decay, and disunity. This deliverance will begin with the Second Coming of Christ. And this deliverance will benefit Gentiles also (Acts 13:47). With King Jesus seated on His throne in Jerusalem, nations from all over the world will come to worship Him and learn of His ways (Isa. 2:1-4). Implements of warfare will be transformed into implements of agriculture (Isa. 2:1-4). There will be universal peace, and nations will not waste their money on defense appropriations. These peaceful conditions will characterize the Millennial Reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4-6). This will be possible because Satan will have been bound for the entire thousand years of Christ's reign (Rev. 20:1-3). But Satan will be released from his temporary prison and will once again deceive the nations of the earth. They will attempt to revolt against the King, but will suffer fiery destruction (Rev. 20:7-10).

The Messianic Co-Regency of Christ over Gentiles from New Jerusalem over New Earth

Then God will obliterate the present order of things in a series of gigantic and noisy explosions (2 Pet. 3:7-12). Then He will create New Heaven and New Earth (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). Only the resurrected, redeemed will inhabit New Earth and its capital city, New Jerusalem (Rev. 20:11;15; 21:8, 27; 22:15, 19). New Earth will be the eternal home of redeemed Gentiles (Rev. 21:24-27) who were never a part of the Church. There will be business and agriculture upon New Earth. The earth's nations and kings will bring their honor and glory into New Jerusalem, bringing great honor to the King and sustenance for the City. There will be eternal, universal peace, and there will be no evil people present to disrupt perpetual harmony. The nations of New Earth will have 24-hour-a-day access to New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24-26), where they will be refreshed by the river of life and the fruits and even the leaves of the tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). Utopia will finally have arrived!

Salvation History. The view of certain nonconservative Bible scholars that the Bible conveys a history of redemption that is to be distinguished from actual or factual history. The technical German term Heilsgeschichte is often used as a synonym for Salvation History. Sadly, this skeptical view of the Bible takes the position that very little in the Bible can be taken as factual history, but only as a meaningful, theologically-oriented story that is to be believed regardless of its historical authenticity. In effect, they say, "We cannot trust the historical statements of the Bible unless they can be confirmed by extra-Biblical history. Many even question the value of archeology in establishing the historicity of the Bible. This skeptical view actually destroys the validity of Scripture, since so much theology is wedded in events presented as historical reality in the Old Testament. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). If there was no historical Adam, there is no assurance either that in Christ, all will be made alive. See Bernhard W. Anderson's "The Problem of Old Testament History" for an illustration of this corrosive dogma regarding Scripture.

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Sam Storms. An amillennial online publisher. WordExplain is always searching for resources to illustrate particular theological and eschatological points of view that are accessible online. Sam Storms is one such resource. Dr. Storms is unusual in that he received his Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, a bastion of dispensational premillennialism, but does not subscribe to that viewpoint. Unfortunately, in my view, he either became, or else remained, an amillennialist. I document that by referring the reader to his New Testament Commentary Recommendations on Revelation, in which his top recommendations for commentaries are amillennial. It perhaps goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: I do not believe amillennialism accurately reflects God's kingdom program. It does not do so because it refuses to employ a consistently literal hermeneutic to the Scriptures. Consequently, there are a great many areas in eschatology in which I strongly disagree with Dr. Storms. However, Storms at least has the advantage of being able to portray accurately the dispensational premillennial point of view. Storms is a scholar and writes in a reasoned fashion with a non-polemic tone. [He probably succeeds better at that than I do.] Since he is a prolific writer,having posted a great many articles online, he is a good resource for amillennialism on the Internet. His website is enjoyinggodministries.com. Of particular interest to WordExplain is his index page on Eschatology, which includes studies on the Hermeneutics of Eschatology, as well as studies on Daniel, the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:1-25:46, an extensive series of articles on the Book of Revelation, and studies on "The Church, Israel, and 'Replacement' Theology." His Theological Studies index page links to studies on The Kingdom of God: Already but Not Yet," and "The Amillennial View of the Kingdom of God."  Reader Beware!

Satan.  The ultimate adversary (from Satan, Hebrew, and Satanas, Greek) of God, also called the devil (diabolos, which means “overthrower” or “slanderer,” “the dragon,” and “the serpent” (Rev. 12:9).  Originally a powerful, beautiful, and trusted cherub with access to the heavenly Mount Zion (Ezek. 28:12-15), he was named “Star of the Morning” and “Son of the Dawn” (Isa. 14:12).  But he was corrupted first by his pride in his own beauty, and God cast him out of the holy mountain (Ezek. 28:16-17).  Satan’s five-fold rebellion against God is detailed in Isaiah 14:13-14.  From the very beginning of earth’s creation, Satan attempted and succeeded in corrupting man (Gen. 3:1-7), earth’s ruler (Gen. 1:26-28), and as a result became de facto ruler of earth.  He is the ruler of this world (John 12:31), the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), a liar and murderer (John 8:44), who appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).  Untold numbers of unchosen angels (1 Tim. 5:21) were duped by him into joining his rebellion (Rev. 12:4).  These are variously called demons or unclean spirits (Luke 8:27-30).  Satan is forced to give an accounting of himself periodically (Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2).  Some time in the future he will attempt to storm heaven, but Michael and his angels will overpower him (Rev. 12:7-9).  During the Tribulation, he will set up and empower the man of sin, the False Messiah (2 Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 13:1-4, 11-17), who will briefly rule the world before his demise.  Satan will be chained in the abyss during Christ’s one thousand year reign (Rev. 20:1-3).  Released from the abyss at the end of the Millennium, Satan will deceive millions.  He will gather these from the four corners of the earth and attempt to besiege Jerusalem and destroy King Jesus and His administration and all the saints in the city.  Fire will descend from heaven and incinerate them (Rev. 20:7-9).  Satan himself will be deposited in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone along with all his angels for eternity (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10). 

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Savior. In general terms, a deliverer or rescuer. The Greek noun is sōtr (4990), speaking of “...the agent of salvation or deliverance savior, deliverer, rescuer; (1) used of God as the source of salvation Savior (Luke 1:47; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Tit. 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Jude 1:25); used of Jesus Christ as the agent sent by God to bring deliverance to mankind Savior (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Eph. 5:23; Php. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:10; Tit. 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2 Pet. 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1 John 4:14)” (adapted from Friberg).

    Speaking from personal experience there is somewhat of a temptation for us Christians to emasculate the meaning of this word. I was brought up that I need to "accept Jesus as my Savior." By that was meant that He would save me from hell, my just penalty for having sinned. That is true, to be sure. But Jesus as Savior is so much more than that. As the Christ, or Messiah, He is Israel's Anointed One - anointed to be Israel's ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King. As such He also fulfills those offices for all Gentiles who will submit to Him. I now frequently encourage people to embrace Jesus as their King, who died and rose again for them. 

    In that vein Jesus is a political Savior just as much as a spiritual Savior. The shepherds would have understood the announcement of the angel that a political Savior of Israel had just been born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:11). Even as late as Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, devout Israelis were expecting that Jesus would have been a political Savior (Luke 24:21; see the broader context of Luke 24:13-21). And after forty days of instruction concerning the kingdom by the risen Christ (Acts 1:3), the Apostles were still expecting Him to deliver Israel in a political sense (Acts 1:6). In effect, Jesus told them the timing of the coming Kingdom was God's business, not theirs (Acts 1:7). Meanwhile, they were to busy themselves with recruiting people all over the world for His Kingdom (Acts 1:8).

    There are glimpses in both the OT and the NT of Jesus political. geophysical, and international salvation that wil eventually accompany his spiritual salvation. See, for example, Psalm 2:1-12; 110:1-7; Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-10; Rev. 19:11-21; 20:1-10; 21:1-27; 22:1-5.

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Sealing. The act of God in marking believers in Christ with His indwelling Holy Spirit. This act marks Church Age believers as God's very own possession. The Holy Spirit is a seal that cannot be broken, and He guarantees the ultimate redemption of each believer. 

    The verb "to seal" is sphragidzō (4972). (1)  It is used in a literal sense, first of all (a) in Matt. 27:66. The Pharisees and chief priests requested of Pilate, the Roman Governor, to prevent the disciples' theft of Jesus' body and their potential subsequent claim that Jesus had arisen. Pilate gave them permission to make the grave as secure as they knew how. This they did. They placed a guard at the tomb and also officially sealed (sphragidzō4972) the entrance, making it illegal for anyone to break into it and perhaps remove its contents (Matt. 27:62-66). Of course, a seal is only as good as the authority of the one who does the sealing. In this case, the unbelieving Pharisees and chief priests could provide no guarantee whatever of an unviolated tomb! God Himself, the Highest Authority, violated the human seal and, with the help of angels and an earthquake, violently opened up the tomb to proclaim that the Messiah was long gone -- God's Spirit had already resurrected Him (Matt. 28:2-6)! (b) Sphragidzō (4972) also appears to be used in a literal sense in the Sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:1-8). John saw four angels restraining the four winds (Rev. 7:1). Another angel had the "seal" (sphragis, 4973) "of the living God." He warned the four angels not to harm "the earth or the sea or the trees" until they "have sealed (sphragidzō4972) the slaves of our God on their foreheads" (Rev. 7:2-3, author's translation). John "heard the number of the ones having been sealed (sphragidzō4972), one hundred forty-four thousand, the ones having been sealed (sphragidzō4972) from every tribe of the sons of Israel" (Rev. 7:4, JTB). John began to enumerate, "From the tribe of Judah twelve thousand, the ones having been sealed (sphragidzō4972) ..." (Rev. 7:5, JTB); and concluded, "...from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand, the ones having been sealed" (sphragidzō4972) (Rev. 7:8, JTB). This was an effective sealing, marking out those Messianic Israelis who were to be protected and, presumably to be God's special evangelistic witnesses during the Great Tribulation. That they were phenomenally successful in their mission is to be concluded from the presence, in heaven, of an incalculable number of Gentiles who had come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation, and who consequently were martyred because of their faith (Rev. 7:9-17). 

    (2) In a metaphorical, but no less real sense, Jesus stated that God the Father had sealed (sphragidzō4972) Him. It is possible, though not explicit that Jesus was referring to the Father's having anointed Him with His Holy Spirit at His baptism (Matt. 3:16-17; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). In this case the seal signified authorization, authentication, ownership, and security. Though men could and did kill Jesus, His death only accomplished God's eternal plan (Acts 4:27-28), and God's risen Messiah could thus provide forgiveness, eternal life, and redemption for all who believe in Him.

    (3) Similarly, in another metaphorical sense, it is God who seals (sphragidzō4972) the NT believer (2 Cor. 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit Himself is God's "earnest money" (arrabōn, 728) on our inheritance, and God's redemption of us as His own possession (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14). Other references to our being sealed with the Holy Spirit include Eph. 1:13; 4:30. The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal with which we have been sealed. His sealing signifies God's ownership and our eternal security, assuring us of our eventual complete redemption and our inevitable acquisition of our eternal inheritance.

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Second Coming of Christ. Jesus Christ's return in power and glory to judge the people of the earth, quell all rebellion, and reign over all the earth for a thousand years from His Davidic throne in Jerusalem (Psa. 2:4-9; Zech. 14:1-9; Matt. 24:29 - 25:46; Rev. 19:11 - 20:6). Technically, Christ will return in two stages, first, to retrieve His Bride the Church from Earth to Heaven to purify her and make her spotless (the Rapture) (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18), and second, after her purification (Rev. 19:7-9), to return with her to earth in power and glory. Since these two stages of His return are separated by a minimum of seven years, during which the inhabitants of earth are judged by the catastrophic Tribulation (Rev. 6:1-18:24), we popularly consider the term "Second Coming" to refer to Jesus' return all the way to earth to set up His Kingdom. See a more extensive discussion of the Second Coming of Christ.

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Second Covenant. A reference by the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 8:7) to the New Covenant. The writer's use of the term "Second" (Covenant) is in deliberate contrast with the "First Covenant," God's conditional covenant with Israel established under the mediation of Moses at Mount Sinai. The First Covenant is also known as the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Law of Moses, and the Torah. For more information on the Second Covenant, see New Covenant.

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Shinar. The ancient name of the territory that became known as Babylonia or Chaldea. Shinar (8152) was the land in which Nimrod began his kingdom in the cities of Babel (894), more commonly known as Babylon, Erech, Accad and Calneh (Gen. 10:10). The rebels who formed the first United Nations built their ill-fated tower at Babel (Babylon) in the land of Shinar (Gen. 11:2). Amraphel was king of Shinar (Gen. 14:1, 9). Achan lusted after a garment which he knew to be from Shinar (Josh. 7:21). At the time of Christ's Millennial reign, the Lord (Adonay, 136) will recover the remnant of His people from Shinar (Isa. 11:11). Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Babel, 894), besieged Jerusalem (Dan. 1:1). The Lord (Adonay, 136) gave King Jehoiakim of Judah into his hand. He took Jehoiakim and vessels from the house of God and brought them to the land of Shinar to the house of his own god (Dan. 1:2). Zechariah saw a vision of an ephah (in this case, something like an over-sized bushel basket) with a wicked woman inside being flown by two winged women to the land of Shinar (Zech. 5:11). There a temple would be built for the wicked woman and she would sit on her pedestal inside the temple (Zech. 5:5-11). All in all, Shinar conveys a negative connotation in the OT.

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Sodom. A city once located in the fertile valley (kikkar, 3603, literally, "circle") of the Jordan River (Gen. 13:10-12). Moses' assessment  of the city was blunt. "Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD" (Gen. 13:13). As the subsequent historical narrative reveals, the men of Sodom were "in-your-face" homosexuals (Gen. 19:1-11). God poured out his wrath in the form of sulfur and fire, not only upon Sodom, but also upon Gomorrah and upon "all the circle (kikkar)" (Gen. 19:24-29). 

Some scholars believe "Sodom was probably located in plain [sic] South of the Dead Sea, now covered with water." But the area once covered by water has now drained. Archaeologists have found no evidence of cities there. A more recent minority of scholars believe Sodom and the other "cities of the plain" or "valley" (literally, "cities of the circle") were located at the North end of the Dead Sea. This is even less likely because of the absence of any bitumen residue North of the Dead Sea (Gen. 14:10). The most likely suggestion is that Sodom is to be identified with Bab edh-Dhra, and Gomorrah with Numeira. In the parent article in Associates for Biblical Research, author Bryant G. Wood cites the cynical views of M. J. Mulder (article on Sodom and Gomorrah in Anchor Bible Dictionary) and  Miller and Hayes (A History of Ancient Israel and Judah), but goes on to reject them. Wood concludes

When the archaeological, geographical and epigraphic evidence is reviewed in detail, it is clear that the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have now been found. What is more, this evidence demonstrates that the Bible provides an accurate eyewitness account of events that occurred southeast of the Dead Sea over 4,000 years ago. 

Note photos of (1) the area surrounding Bab edh-Dhra (proposed Sodom), highlighting a layer of ash in the western temple; (2) an excavated charnel (burial) house at Bab edh-Dhra; (3) the burn layer at Numeira (proposed Gomorrah). Note the diagram of the fault line in the Dead Sea valley.

The fiery judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah illustrates God's future fiery judgment upon the wicked (2 Pet. 2:6-10; Jude 1:6-7). "Sodomy" today remains a legal term. It used to be a prosecutable offense in America, but the "in-your-face" propagandizing of the modern homosexual movement has so permeated American society that deluded judges overthrow laws and force the nation not only to tolerate homosexuality, but to endorse it and celebrate it. The fiery judgment that befell ancient Sodom illustrates the judgment that will one day befall promulgators of homosexuality (Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8; 22:15).

Map of the area south of the Dead Sea, showing the proposed locations of the Biblical Cities of the Plain, or more literally, "Cities of the Circle." Sodom is likely Bab edh-Dhra; Gomorrah, Numeira; and possibly, Zoar is Safi. Two other city sites, Feifa and Khanazir, may also be included among the five confederate cities of the district of the Siddim Valley (Gen. 14:2-3).

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Song of Ascents. The superscription or title of fifteen psalms (120:1-134:3) in the Psalter. These psalms were to be sung by worshipers ascending to Zion to worship Yahweh in His sanctuary. Most of the psalms are anonymous (Psa. 120:1-7; 121:1-8;  123:1-4; 125:1-5; 126:1-6; 128:1-6; 129:1-8; 130:1-8; 132:1-18; 134:1-3). Four were composed by David (Psa. 122:1-9; 124:1-8; 131:1-3; 133:1-3), and one by Solomon (Psa. 127:1-5). At least one of these psalms is post-exilic. The anonymous author vividly recalls the joy he and others experienced when Yahweh brought him and other exiles back from Babylon to Zion (Psalm 126:1-6). Many of these psalms are decidedly nationalistic. There are seven references to Zion (Psa. 125:1; 126:1; 128:5; 129:5; 132:13; 133:3; 134:3), five to Jerusalem (Psa. 122:2, 3, 6; 125:2; 128:5), and nine to Israel (Psa. 121:4; 122:4; 124:1; 125:5; 128:6; 129:1; 130:7, 8; 131:3). Six of these psalms are overtly nationalistic: Psa. 122:1-9, "A Joyful, Heartfelt Prayer for Jerusalem"; Psa. 125:1-5, "Assurance of Deliverance from the Evil Inherent in Foreign Domination";  Psa. 128:1-6, "The Blessings of Those Who Fear Yahweh!"; Psa. 129:1-8, "Israel's Acknowledgment of Yahweh's Deliverance from Haters of Zion";  and Psa. 132:1-18, "Yahweh's Revelation, in Response to Prayer, of His Choice to Reside in Zion, Blessing it through His Davidic Messiah". See the titles and links to all fifteen psalms with the superscription, "Song of Ascents."

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Sons of Israel. In general, a descriptive term for the physical descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham. The Hebrew nomenclature is bene (1121) Yisra'el (3478). The descriptive phrase "Sons of Israel" occurs at least 600 times in the Bible. It first appears in Gen. 32:32 (32:33, MT), immediately after God changed Jacob's name from "Jacob" to "Israel." In the book of Genesis, more often than not, the term "Sons of Israel" refers to the immediate twelve sons of Israel or Jacob (see, for example, Gen. 42:5, 21; 46:5, 8; 50:25). But as the clan grew into a nation, the term was expanded to include the whole nation (e.g. Ex. 1:9, 12, 13; 2:23, 25; 3:9). In modern-day, secular usage, the term "Israeli" refers to a citizen of Israel living in the land. Those descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who live outside the land of Israel are typically referred to as being "Jewish." (The term "Jew" is considered by Jewish people to be pejorative and offensive, and they prefer the adjectival description, "Jewish.") For the purposes of WordExplain, any ethnic descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is considered to be one of the "Sons of Israel," no matter where or in what time frame he or she happens to live. The modern day equivalent of "Sons of Israel" is Israelis. In the Messiah's Millennial Kingdom, evidently only Israelis who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah will participate with Him in His Kingdom. The same will hold true throughout eternity in New Jerusalem, and upon New Earth

    Incidentally, the NASB is one of the few translations that accurately translate bene Yisra'el  as "Sons of Israel." Most modern Bible versions inaccurately translate the two word description as "people of Israel" or "Israelites" or "children of Israel." In my opinion, the reason for this is that most modern translators, whether they admit it or not, have succumbed to the disease of politically correct anti-masculinity, having surrendered ground to the religion of feminism. That is certainly not the case, of course, with ancient versions such as the King James Version, which routinely translates the words as "children of Israel." This illustrates my contention that the NASB ranks among the most accurate of English translations.

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Spiritual Gift. A special, God-given ability to serve Him during the Church Age. The Holy Spirit seems to be the One who distributes gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-11). One or more gifts have been given to each Christian (1 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 4:7). Some Christians (like the Apostle Paul, for example) have been given multiple gifts. A spiritual gift is given on the basis of God's grace (Eph. 4:7), not on the basis of human merit. Christians are exhorted to focus on the gifts they have been given rather than mourn for the gifts they have not been given (1 Cor. 12:29-30). The main passages on spiritual gifts include Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:1-14:40; Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 4:10-11. There is a hierarchy, or ranking of gifts (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11-12).  In my opinion, certain gifts are temporary, and have ceased, at least for the time being. Paul, for example, singled out prophecy, tongues, and (special) knowledge as three of them (1 Cor. 13:8-10). Since the conclusion of the book of Revelation in about A.D. 96, there have been no new writings added to the corpus of Scripture. That is unprecedented if there are still prophets today. We know that prophecy will resume at least during the Tribulation (Rev. 11:1-14), but the two witnesses are not part of the Church, either. For further study, see Do Prophets Exist Today?; Do Apostles Exist Today?;  A Linked Summary of the Significance of Speaking in Tongues.

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Spiritual Israel. The widely-held, but exegetically bankrupt belief that the Church has replaced Israel, and that there is no future for Israel as a nation. This belief is based upon a metaphorical, and thus non-literal exegesis of pertinent OT passages predicting a future for the nation of Israel. With the bias against God's favorite nation of Israel in the OT, that same bias is extended into the NT. Those who believe in the Church as being "Spiritual Israel" arrive at faulty conclusions in passages such as Gal. 3:28-29 and Eph. 2:11-22. Typically, those who hold to the dogma of the Church replacing Israel as "Spiritual Israel" do violence to the plain meaning of eschatological texts in both the OT and the NT.

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Subjunctive Mood. The Greek mood that indicates potential or possibility in conditional statements or definite outcome in purpose or result clauses. See an offsite Shorter Definition by Larry Keating; or a more detailed Table outlining uses of the Greek Subjunctive in Independent, Dependendent, and hna Result clauses, also by Larry Keating; or see also Keating's "Framed View."
    "Hortatory (exhortational) Subjunctive" is the term given to a first person plural Subjunctive verb often appearing near the beginning of the sentence. It is a statement urging oneself and one's associates or, in an epistle, one's readers, to join in some action. It is typically translated, "let us ______...." For all practical purposes, a "Hortatory Subjunctive" carries the force of an Imperative. An example is found in 1 John 4:7, where John exhorts himself and his readers, "Beloved, let us be loving one another" (JTB translation).

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Supersessionism. The view of Amillennialists, that the Church has permanently superseded the nation of Israel in God's redemptive program. According to Michael Vlach, there are three different forms of Supersessionism - punitive, economic, and structural.

Punitive Supersessionism. In this view, God has punished Israel for her disobedience. In particular, Israel's rejection of Jesus as her Messiah has eliminated the nation from God's covenantal love. Correspondingly, Israel is now the object of God's punishment or retribution. Punitive Supersessionism has been the view of Hippolytus, Origen, Lactantius, and Martin Luther.

Economic Supersessionism. In this model, the issue is not so much that Israel's disobedience culminating in her rejection of her Messiah warrants God's retribution. Rather the issue is that, in the providence of God, His eternal plan has always been to displace Israel with the Church. In this view, the term "economic" has nothing whatever to do with finances, but everything to do with God's plan for administering His redemptive program. In this view, Israel's role on the stage of human history has expired. Now God has administered His superior plan to redeem the world through the Church. With Christ's advent, God's program for physical, material Israel has been rendered obsolete. The Church now constitutes the true Israel. Adherents of Economic Supersessionism include Rudolf Bultmann, Vern S. Poythress, Karl Barth, and N. T. Wright.

Structural Supersessionism. This view is based upon a supposed treatment of the canon of Scripture and the whole Biblical narrative by the Christian community. P.Kendall Soulen has stated that the whole canonical narrative, since the time of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, has hinged on four key episodes - 1) The creation of our first parents (Gen. 1:1-2:24); 2) the fall of man (Gen. 3:1-24); 3) the incarnation of Christ and the inauguration of the Church (the Gospels and the Epistles); and 4)  the final consummation (apocalyptic passages such as Matthew 24:1-25:46 and Revelation 6:1-22:21). In this view, Christendom essentially overlooks the vast portion of the Hebrew Scriptures. This view minimizes the explicit statements of Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, and focuses merely on how the great bulk of the Church has treated those Scriptures.

If the Church has permanently superseded Israel, a number of questions remain eternally unanswered. What did God mean when He said He would establish an "everlasting covenant" with Abraham and his descendants that included the land of Canaan as an "everlasting possession" (Gen. 17:8-9)? What did God mean when He told Abraham He would establish His covenant with Isaac "for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him" (Gen. 17:19)? Why did Jacob, near his death, relate that God had personally promised to give to him and to his descendants "this land" "for an everlasting possession" (Gen. 48:3-4)?  If God is through with Israel, why did He name the eternal capital of New Earth "New Jerusalem" (Rev. 21:2, 10)? Why not New York or New Delhi? Why are the gates of New Jerusalem named after the twelve sons of Israel (Rev. 21:12)? If there is no eternal distinction between Israel and the other nations, then who are the nations (ethne) that live and work on New Earth, governed by kings, and who walk by the light of New Jerusalem and bring their glory and honor into the city and there benefit from the restorative qualities of the leaves of the Tree of Life  (Rev. 21:24-26; 22:2)? If distinctions between the Nation of Israel and the other nations no longer exist, why even use the term "nations" at all since it has ostensibly become outmoded? And finally,
can God be trusted to keep His promises? If God cannot be trusted to keep His land and people promises to the sons of Israel, why do we Gentiles in the Church think God will keep His promises of eternal life to us? Isn't that more than a little arrogant of us (Rom. 11:17-21)? See also Replacement Theology. Dr. Michael Vlach has written some excellent articles on Supersessionism. Foremost among them is "12 Reasons Why Supersessionism / Replacement Theology Is Not a Biblical Doctrine."

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