Questions about People in the Bible

ANTICHRIST—“Who is he? When does he appear and what will he do?”

The term Antichrist only appears once in the New Testament (1 John 2:18) but has become the common title for the man who will appear in the days of the Tribulation; the 7 years which will end this age.  The term “anti”(Christ) conveys two basic ideas about him; (1) that he is a “substitute” Christ and, (2) that he is against the true Christ.  He will be a man with amazing abilities who, in the power of Satan, will seduce much of the world to follow him and align themselves against the true God.  After ruling the entire world for 42 months, he will be brought to an end by the return of the glorious Lord Jesus Christ.  (For more detailed information about the Antichrist, look under “Prophecy Articles” and look at the ones on The Tribulation).

CAIN—“Where did Cain get his wife?”

Genesis 4 records the very earliest days of human kind on the earth.  In 4:1, Adam and Eve’s first child was born, a son whom they called “Cain.”  Then in 4:17, the text says that Cain and his wife had a son named Enoch.  The problem for some is that no woman, aside from Eve, is mentioned up to that point.  No females.  This has caused a few to say that this is a blunder which illustrates that Genesis has errors, or others to say that the answer is that another race of humans or human-like beings were on the earth.

But there really is no problem.  Cain either married his sister or the daughter of one of Adam’s other sons.  Genesis 5:4 is clear that Adam and Eve “had other sons and daughters.”  Genesis 3:20 is equally clear that all human beings come from Eve, as she is the “mother of all the living.”  Marriage among relatives was a necessity in the early days of the human race.  Such unions were not harmful since the human race was virile and was not contaminated by various degenerate physical ailments.  Only later, when God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel was such marriages prohibited.  Laws against incest were needed later on (see Lev. 18:9 ff.) but in Genesis they were not.  The genealogical records focused on the men with women rarely entering those records which is why no women were mentioned specifically. It was likely that he married one of those “other daughters” of 5:4.

JAMES—“Which James wrote the Book of James in the New Testament?”

The New Testament letter of “James” was one of the earliest books of the NT.  There are at least four men named James in the NT, but which one wrote this book?  Whoever wrote the letter had to be someone who was seen by the church as one with authority to write such a letter.  This results in two men as possible writers: (1) James the apostle, the brother of John, sons of Zebedee, or (2) James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus.  While the Apostle James would seem to be the most likely author to many in the church today, it is probable that he did not write it.  The Apostle James, brother of John, suffered martyrdom at the hands of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2).  The evidence is fairly compelling that the Book of James was actually written a little after the event of the death of the Apostle James.  So James, the half-brother of Jesus is most likely the author.  He is first mentioned as a brother of Jesus in Matthew 13:55.  After he came to faith, he became the recognized leader of the Jerusalem church (see Acts 15:13 and Galatians 2:9).

JUDAS ISCARIOT—“Was Judas Iscariot saved?  If he was, did he lose his salvation?”

Judas Iscariot has long been one of the most interesting characters in the gospels.  How could a man chosen by Christ, given miraculous powers and the great privilege of representing Jesus Christ, turn out so badly.  He was a traitor who ended up hanging himself.  Just what was his true spiritual condition?

First, we must be careful to observe that Judas’ selection to the ranks of the twelve apostles was not an election to salvation but a call to serve Christ. And this unique call to service included the God-given ability to work miracles (Matt. 10:1, 8). The term apostle means “one sent with authority” but does not in and of itself require it to be a regenerate person. For God’s own purposes, one of which was to fulfill prophecy, Judas Iscariot was selected to be an apostle of Jesus.

Second, Jesus was not caught off guard in the “upper room” by the betrayal of Judas.  Jesus knew at least a year before the actual betrayal that Judas was a traitor.  After Jesus delivered the “bread of life” discourse (John 6:22-71), He said that Judas was a devil.  Jesus did not use the definite article (“the” devil) and so was emphasizing the character of Judas; he was just like Satan.  There was clearly a close association between Satan and Judas since the gospels record that twice during the “passion week”, Satan entered into Judas, the second time in the upper room (John 13:27).

Third, in His great prayer (John 17) Jesus asked the Father to keep watch over His men as He Himself had done.  He had kept them safe except for one, Judas Iscariot (17:12).  And that situation was prophesied long ago (Psa. 41:9).  In His prayer, Jesus refers to Judas as “the son of perdition.”  This designation (along with him being Satan like in John 6) makes it clear that Judas never was a regenerate man.  The term “son of perdition” looks at his evil character as well as his destiny.  The term is also used of the Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. These “sons of perdition” are evil personages who fight against God’s work. They are not seen as saved people.

We may conclude, based on the words used by Jesus, Judas Iscariot was never saved, and therefore, did not become lost.  He was always an unregenerate man.

PHARAOH—“Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart and then judge him for having a hard heart in not letting Israel leave Egypt?”

God commissioned Moses to deliver His people, Israel, out of Egypt where they had been enslaved for many years.  The main barrier to the exodus was Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, who had no intention of letting Israel leave Egypt.  Pharaoh would not let Israel depart the land of Egypt because he had a “hard heart.”  The issue has to do with the fact that God is said to harden Pharaoh’s heart, and so, it seems a little unfair for God to then judge Pharaoh for having a hard heart when he refused to let Israel go.

When God first recruited Moses for the job of “deliverer”, he was told that Pharaoh was not going to respond in a positive way to leave Egypt, and that it was going to take a strong dose of supernaturalism to accomplish the task (Exo. 3:19-20). The miracles of the 10 plagues were needed because Pharaoh would have a hard heart.

The Book of Exodus is clear that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but also that Pharaoh hardened his own heart.  God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is found in Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17.  Pharaoh hardening his own heart is found in 7:13-14; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34-35; 13:15.  So generally, about half the time God is said to do the hardening and the other half Pharaoh is doing the hardening.  There are three different words used for hardening in the story.

  • “kabed” = “to be heavy, insensitive, dull” (7:14; 8:15, 32; 9:7, 34)
  • “qasah” = “to be hard, severe or fierce” (7:3; 13:15)
  • “hazaq” = “to grow firm or strong” (4:21; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10)

In analyzing the story and dealing with the matter of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, several points need to be made.

First, two of the times when God is said to harden Pharaoh’s heart are actually predictions of what would happen (4:21; 7:3). God foretold what was going to take place. The order of events is most interesting.  After the two predictions, in the next seven references, it is Pharaoh who hardens his own heart.  Only after those self-imposed hardenings did God begin to harden Pharaoh (in Exo. 9:12 in connection with the sixth plague!)  This sequence certainly points to Pharaoh’s culpability in his stubborn resistance to God’s workings.

Second, we must remember that God’s act of hardening Pharaoh’s heart was a judicial act of God.  God is the supreme judge of the universe and has the right to judge sin at any time He chooses.  God is absolutely sovereign and does not “have to wait” until some future judgment day.  Pharaoh’s very first sin qualified him for God’s immediate judgment (as is true for all people).  It is God’s rich mercy that allows men to continue to live, giving them additional time and opportunity to repent.  Judgment is a necessary expression of God’s holiness. Pharaoh sinfully refused to acknowledge and obey the Almighty God, and by so doing, qualified himself for God’s immediate judgment which, in this case, included being hardened.

Third, there are two specific reasons for the 10 plagues on Egypt.  (1) God wanted to educate Pharaoh and the Egyptians that He was the only true God.  The Egyptians were polytheistic and the plagues on Egypt directly attacked these Egyptian gods (see Exo. 12:12; Num. 33:4). They were slow learners as is evidenced by the fact that well into the plagues they “did not yet fear the Lord” (9:30).  When the Israelites were finally released from Egypt, the Egyptians had indeed come to understand that the Lord God of Israel was no third rate tribal deity (In fact, some had come to faith in the Lord and some of these exited Egypt with Israel).  He had destroyed all the gods of Egypt. (The Apostle Paul adds in Romans 9:17-18 that Pharaoh was part of God’s sovereign plan.) But (2) God wanted His people Israel to come to know and appreciate Him in a new, fresh way. Those years in Egypt had brought about a loss of awe regarding their own God (e.g. 8:22).  By the time Israel safely had crossed the Red Sea, they had a fresh appreciation and understanding of the Lord their God.  The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart extended the plagues and this was necessary for God to accomplish His two grand purposes.

Pharaoh was no innocent pawn in the hands of an angry God.  Pharaoh did it to himself, and God prolonged the hardness in order to bring about His great purpose of people coming to know the true God. Mission accomplished.

  • Dr. Paul Benware