Bibliotheca Read Through the Bible in a Year Plan

Bibliotheca Readers Bible

This plan is based on the Blue Letter Bible Daily Reading Program Historical Plan. The Old Testament readings follow the Hebrew book order which is what Bibliotheca does. The New Testament readings are in the order the books were written.

The daily readings are 6 to 10 pages long, longer in poetry since there are fewer words per page, though a few are shorter or longer. There are a handful of unplanned days at the end of program. I plan to use them when I miss a day.

I hope the plan is helpful. I developed it by reading through Bibliotheca in a year twice. I made a lot of notes on my reading plan and then produced this. It is a work in progress and I typically update it after I’ve used it. Check back yearly.


Download the PDF here.

Updated to version 3 on 1/1/2024

We Have to Talk About Picard

I have been a Trekie for a long, long time. I was hopeful when Sir Patrick Stewart agreed to reprise his Trek role. Though I was ultimately disappointed with Star Trek: Discovery (I won’t be watching season 3, they lost me), I thought maybe Star Trek: Picard might be better. Well, it turns out that there were a LOT of things to not like about Picard. In no particular order:

  1. Starfleet stopped being Starfleet for no good reason. Their abandoning the Romulans doesn’t really click with the story Spock tells in the Kelvin timeline. When Spock Prime explains what happened to Kirk Kelvin, he says “We outfitted our fastest ship.” Surely “we” was not the Romulans or Nero wouldn’t have blamed Spock personally. “We” must have been Starfleet or Vulcan. Starfleet sends its fastest ship, that fails. They start building a fleet to evacuate Romulus (which is problematic too. How much lead time do they get for supernovas?) and when the synths destroy Mars they totally give up. Why?
  2. I am not okay with Raffi calling Picard “JL” and I don’t think the Jean Luc from The Next Generation would have been okay with it either. Perhaps we’re not dealing with the Picard of TNG, but still.
  3. And while I’m on Raffi, I don’t much care for her character. She seems VERY un-Starfleet and not really believable as an actor in that role. I think she was miscast.
  4. STILL speaking of Raffi, what is up with her and Seven holding hands at the end of the season? They barely spoke the entire season and now they’re in love? Did the writers realize at the last minute how heterosexual the season was? Dahj and her boyfriend, Laris and Zahban, Riker and Troy, Narek and Soji, Soji’s parents, etc. At the last minute they felt they had to throw in some homosexuality and it just felt forced.
  5. And speaking of Seven, I never cared for her in Voyager but thought she was great in Picard. Or she could have been had she not been totally underutilized. Okay, so she goes Borg Queen and even though I was never okay with the idea that the Borg having a queen, when she said “We are Borg” I thought we had the old groove back! That could have gone somewhere! Yet it quickly didn’t.
  6. And why did they even include the Borg? I thought that would make a real interesting twist in the plot line of opposition to synths since they’re kind of halfway between but that just never developed. There was potential for some real science fiction but no.
  7. And speaking of the Borg, why oh why did they kill Hugh? He was one of the most interesting people in that season! His death was pointless.
  8. And the end of the season was a real let down. Here come the super synths! OOoooh scary! Till Soji has a change of heart and they just slither back out. Here come the Romulan fleet! Till suddenly Starfleet is Starfleet again FOR NO REASON and they let a retired captain take command of a brand new type of ship and chase the Romulans off. It just felt like the writers got to that point and forgot everything they’d been saying all season so they could wrap it up
  9. Space flowers.
  10. Commander Oh. Half Vulcan, half Romulan somehow makes it to the top of Starfleet security (yet only attains the rank of commander?) and then she turns around and commands the Romulan fleet. You can tell Starfleet security sucks because they have a full-blooded Romulan working with her for a bit till she puts her ears back on and torments her brother.
  11. Bruce Maddox. There could have been an interesting and complicated storyline with deep roots in TNG lore. I found his big episode, “Measure of a Man” really thought provoking. Even wrote an article about it for a fanzine I read at the time. Yet Maddox dies after a few minutes on screen. ANOTHER blown opportunity for some real science fiction.
  12. Soji/Dahj. Okay, how did Maddox get anything from Data since he was obliterated in Nemesis? I had a feeling that maybe Maddox got a hold of Lore since at the end of Descent Part 2 he is deactivated and we never see him again. That would have made Soji a real question mark. Can she be more than Lore was? Instead, we stick with Data as her dad and got a very sweet end to his story instead.
  13. Gratuitous cursing.
  14. Too many holos. And isn’t AI a form of synth? Wouldn’t they have been banned too in that doesn’t-really-make-sense-if-you-think-about-it ban?
  15. Back to Data. His end was sweet but at the same time WHAT? The most human thing to do is die? Everything dies! That doesn’t make humanity unique. And they kept him in a box? That’s not just lame, it is cruel.


  1. Elnor. A summary. Romulan orphan befriended and abandoned by Picard. Grows to be an excellent fighter. “Bind your sword to my cause?” “OK.” “Never, ever use your sword for my cause!” “But?!” “And stay on the ship while I beam down to immanent danger!” “You suck. I’m going to hang with the Borg.”

Baptize with Fire

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11

Being baptized with fire here is not a good thing. John just said that fruitless trees will be cut down and thrown into the fire. In the next verse, he says that Jesus will winnow the harvest and “the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

John’s point is don’t be fruitless and don’t be chaff. The good portion of the harvest Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit–he will give them God himself, and gather them in. The rest burn with a fire than never ends.

Of Dry Trees

“And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” (Ezek. 17:24)

Don’t Consider Lesser Sins Unimportant

But don’t consider lesser sins unimportant: they may not weigh heavy, but tremble when you count them. Where then is our hope? In acknowledging our sins. Try hard not to sin, but if from weakness you fall, be sorry, realize what you have done, blame yourself: then you can with confidence come before the judge; he is also your advocate and the propitiation for your sins.

St. Augustine, Commentary on the 1st Epistle of St. John

Evaluating Links, Weak and Otherwise

“We cannot claim, on the one hand, that science is unnecessary or meaningless, nor, on the other hand, that the extensions [i.e. the inferences] we make from Scripture are absolutely accurate or that these extensions have the same validity as the statements of Scripture itself. But all that does not change the fact that biblical revelation is propositional, to be handled on the basis of reason in relationship to science and coordinated with science.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 36

Within evangelicalism there is a sharp and sometimes acrimonious divide about the doctrine of creation. It mostly comes down to how we read Genesis chapter 1 and its relationship to modern science. Young-earth creationism is probably the majority position within evangelicalism.

While I don’t have a book or article I got these from (they come mainly from my own experience), these are arguments I have heard Answers in Genesis’ founder Ken Ham fire off in rapid succession in debates. Ham’s method can make it hard to consider the merits of the arguments, so it seemed wise to me to slow them down and evaluate them individually.

I am not aiming to disprove young-earth creationism or creation science per se, I’m just looking to show some of the weaknesses in some of the justification for that position.

If you are a young-earth creationist and you see an argument that you would never use, please don’t take offense. No theological position has 100% agreement by all adherents and I’m not trying to treat young-earth creationism as if it does. I’m just reflecting on the defenses I’ve heard; there may be other, better defenses I’m not interacting with, here the ones I know:

The most straightforward way of reading Genesis 1 is to see it as six, 24-hour days. Let’s start by agreeing that that is the most straightforward reading of Genesis 1. But does that make it the best reading or the right reading?

If we try that straightforward approach with Genesis 6:6, “And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart,” what do we get? The most natural reading is that God admitted he’d made a mistake in creating humanity and he regretted it. Is that the best reading? No. Is it the right reading? Again, no. God doesn’t make mistakes, but this verse seems to say that he acknowledged he did.

A proper reply might be that other scriptures tell us that God doesn’t make mistakes. We need to read all of what the Bible says about God’s nature in order to properly understand Genesis 6:6. Since there are no other scriptures that tell us the days of creation are anything but regular days, therefore they must be. This is a good response, but I’m not sure the Bible has nothing more to say on the days of creation than the first chapter of Genesis. This leads us to the next few points.

“Day” always means a normal 24-hour day in the Bible. This really is an application of the straightforward reading principle mentioned above, but it isn’t accurate. The meaning of a word is conditioned by its context. For example, if I say “rake” what do I mean? A gardening implement? A licentious man? The angle at which something slopes? Am I using it as slang for a comb? I need to put that word into some context for you to be sure what I meant by it. Within the immediate context of creation, “day” is used in a way that cannot mean a 24-hour period: Genesis 2:4 says “in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Moses has just said God took six days to make it all, therefore, “day” in 2:4 cannot be a 24-hour period. Must it be in chapter 1?

A response might be that even though the same Hebrew word is used, there is a difference between the days of creation and the day in 2:4 and that line of reasoning might look like what follows.

In the Bible, “day” with “evening” and “morning” always refers to a 24-hour day. In my estimation, this is the strongest argument for a 24-hour day position because the rising and setting of the sun are parts of a normal, 24-hour day. The fact that it says “evening and morning” which is less than 24 hours is not a problem because it doesn’t say the day began at evening and ended at sunrise, a normal day contains these two events. This argument resolves the apparent conflict of “day” in Genesis 1 and “day” of 2:4 where no mention of evening or morning is made.

However, this argument crumbles under the weight of its own demands. Everywhere else in the Bible where “evening” and “morning” are used, they describe the setting and the rising of the sun but in Genesis 1 the sun didn’t exist until the fourth day. “Evening” and “morning” on days one through three must mean something other than sunset and sunrise, therefore, “evening” and “morning” could normalize only the fourth through sixth days creation. And if “evening” and “morning” meant something different in the first three days, then it seems the argument just defeated itself: “day” with “morning” and “evening” is not always a solar day right there within the context of creation.

“Day” with a number is always a 24-hour day. The idea is that when Genesis 1:5, for example, says “the first day” it can only mean the first of successive 24-hour periods because an enumerated day in the Bible is only a regular day. However, this isn’t how language works and, again, it isn’t accurate. Zechariah 14:7 speaks of a “unique day” using the exact same two Hebrew words Genesis 1:5 rendered as “the first day.” It should be clear from the context of Zechariah that “one day” there is not referring to a 24-hour period but to the day of the LORD, the time of Christ’s return, a unique epoch in history.

This shows that adding a number to a word does not modify or restrict its lexical range of meaning. In short, enumerated days in Genesis 1 don’t really help us fix their meaning there.

The Sabbath is based on the six days of creation and it’s a 24-hour day therefore the days of creation must be 24 hours long as well. In Exodus 20:11, Moses says the seventh day is the Sabbath because God created the world in six days then rested. This proves the week of creation must have been six 24-hour days.

If we look at other feasts to see if the length of the memorial mirrors the length of the original event, we immediately run into a problem. The Ten Commandments are repeated in Deuteronomy 5 and in verse 15 Israel is told to remember the Sabbath because they were slaves in Egypt and God brought them out. That was not in a single, 24-hour day.

The exodus leads us right to the feast of Passover where we experience the same problem:

And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever… For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses.

Exodus 12:17, 19, emphasis added

Passover and Unleavened Bread last seven days yet memorialize a single night. The same principle is true in the other direction when it comes to the Feast of Booths. It also lasts seven days yet memorializes 40 years of wandering in the desert (Lev. 23:39-43).

In the end we have to say that the length of the memorial does not fix or agree with the length of the original event. So while creation could have taken six days, the Sabbath cannot be used to prove it.

If you don’t take six days literally what else will you take figuratively? If we noodle with Genesis 1, that opens the door to us noodling with the entire Bible. This is the slippery slope argument and I have a number of issues with it.

First, theologian B. B. Warfield (1851-1921) articulated what has become the standard evangelical definition of biblical inerrancy and yet was himself an old earth creationist. At one point, he even acknowledged that God may have used evolution. Belief in biblical inerrancy is not threatened here. Second, this argument starts with the assumption that six literal days is the right reading of Genesis 1 and assumes that any other approach is being dishonest with the Bible. What it is in effect saying is “If you don’t agree with how I read the Bible here, you may distort it in other places.” That doesn’t make either of us right or wrong, it simply fails to prove the point. Third, it feels like manipulation, intending to scare anyone who might even consider old earth arguments by implying it puts them in danger of becoming theologically liberal. There are many faithful Christians who hold to an old earth and they haven’t fallen down that slippery slope. Finally, for the argument to work, it would require a literal interpretative method for every genre in the Bible. Poetry should not be read literally. Proverbs are not to be interpreted as promises. Yet, history should be read as history. Joshua sacked Jericho, Paul went to Damascus, Abraham was a sojourner in Canaan, etc. We should interpret scripture according to the context and type of literature being used. What lies behind this argument is an assumption as to which type of literature Genesis 1 is. But what if the genre isn’t history?

There is no other example in the Bible of poetry like Genesis 1. This is a response to the idea that Genesis 1 has the shape of Hebrew poetry and therefore is not strictly chronological. The introductory statement (1:2) is that the earth was “without form and void” or “formless and empty.” The subsequent “days” of creation give form to the earth (days 1 through 3) and then fill it (days 4 through 6). If this is poetic, then Genesis 1 is not a historical recounting of creation but a creative expression of that historical event. The fact that we see no other Hebrew poetry written like this is seen as proof that it cannot be a Hebraic poetical form.

But what if this is the only example of this type of poetry in the Bible? Must we always have more than one example for a thing to be valid? The millennium is only discussed in Revelation 20, does it mean that it isn’t real? What if Genesis 1 is an epic introduction to the Bible rather than a historical recounting of creation? The truth of what is being said doesn’t vanish, it simply turns out to be less than young-earth creationists have taken it to be. Also, reading it as poetry doesn’t mean it cannot communicate truth. Look in any good systematic theology at the attributes of God and see how often Biblical poetry is cited. Poetry is not the enemy of truth. The genre of Genesis 1 is not a sure foundation so it seems unwise to build an argument on it.

Before the 19th century no one took Genesis 1 as anything other than six literal days of creation. The thought behind this is that reading Genesis 1 as anything other than six literal days was introduced as an attempt to accommodate Darwinism. It is seen as a capitulation to atheistic science.

The assertion, however, is inaccurate from the start. Augustine believed that creation was instantaneous, and that God used six “days” as a way of explaining it to us. Also, there was a teaching circulated among some of the church fathers that said that since God created the world in six days, and a day to God is a thousand years, the universe would last six thousand years and then enter God’s rest. Since the application of this tradition focuses on the end of the universe, not it’s beginning, it is unclear how the fathers understood the days of creation, but it wouldn’t be out of the question if they believed those “days” of creation were a thousand years also.

But what if it is true? What if no one understood the days of creation as anything other than six 24-hour periods before the twentieth century? Does that make it the correct interpretation? Before we disagree with historical theology, we should have a good reason. The church has a long history of baptizing babies and following a pope. We disagree with those things with good reason. It turns out that there is historical precedent for allowing a proper understanding of natural science to correct a widely held yet incorrect interpretation of scripture.

Geocentricism, the idea that the earth is at the center of the universe and doesn’t move, had been the common interpretation of 1 Chr. 16:30; Psa. 93:1, Psa. 96:10, and Psa. 104:5 in church history. This interpretation was rooted in Plato’s explanation of the universe and these verses seemed to support it. In the 17th century, Galileo with his telescope, following on Copernicus’ work, challenged geocentricism and was branded a heretic because it seemed he was disagreeing with scripture. Eventually his cosmology prevailed and the church didn’t abandon the Bible. Rather, she wisely reassessed her interpretation of those verses in light of general revelation. The Bible wasn’t wrong, we were, and we didn’t figure it out for 1,700 years.

If we have been interpreting Genesis 1 incorrectly for 1,900 years, we needn’t fear that natural science is going to prove the Bible wrong. Just like geocentricism, it may show that our understanding is incorrect, not the Bible. At the same time, science doesn’t have the age of the universe nailed down either; research is regularly refining the age estimate. (Just as an aside, that age seems to keep getting younger, not older.) This, however, shouldn’t make natural science suspect either; it is how the scientific method is supposed to work. In the end, God authored both the Bible and the universe therefore they do not conflict. Our interpretation of them may be in need of correction.

The genealogies of Genesis chapter 5 and 11 don’t allow for an old earth. Here we’re taking a step toward allowing the rest of scripture help us understand the creation story, which is a good idea. By giving the age of people when they had children and when they died, these genealogies establish a time frame from Adam to Abraham. Even though Biblical genealogies often skip generations, you cannot get millions of years of Genesis 5 and 11. This is a fair assessment in my view.

However, for these genealogies fix the date of the creation of the universe, once again you have to presuppose six literal days of creation because that view places the creation of Adam very close to the creation of the universe.

But if Genesis chapter 1 doesn’t mean that God created the universe in six days, then the genealogies don’t fix the age of the universe but rather the age of the human race upon the earth. The universe may have been around a long time before God created Adam and Eve and therefore could be millions of years old and the genealogies still be essentially correct.

If the earth is old, then there was death before the fall. This argument rests on Romans 5:12, “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin.” This is understood to mean that there was no animal death before Adam’s fall.

But that isn’t what Romans 5:12 is saying. When it says “sin came into the world” the assumption is that ‘world’ means the universe, the created order. But the word in Greek is kosmos which can mean the world but, as it does in 2 Corinthians 5:19, it can mean humanity, “God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” You can tell this is what Paul means in Romans 5:12 because he ends by saying “and so death spread to all men” not “death spread to all creatures.” Paul is not talking about death in general but specifically about why human beings die.

This is consistent with the creation narrative. When God created Adam and gave him the law of the garden, the prohibition of eating from one particular tree, Adam was told “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God does not say that everything will die, only that Adam will. Because the Bible is silent on animal death before the fall, anything beyond human death must be inferred; if it turns out that animals died before the fall, Romans 5:12 and Genesis 2:17 would still be true.

Something else that makes this interpretation difficult is that if death came to all created beings at Adam’s fall, then it caused some really extensive changes in certain animals. Carnivores cannot live on an all-vegetable diet; their digestive systems are designed to process flesh. God could have changed animals this dramatically but that kind of change isn’t mentioned or even hinted at in the Bible. The ground is cursed (Gen. 3:17) and therefore changed but there is no mention of animal life.

A rejoinder to death before the fall is that death, even if it were only animal death, doesn’t fit in the perfect world God created and would make God the author of death and disease rather than Adam.

We need to separate these two charges and deal with them one at a time. First, God didn’t declare the world “perfect”, when he finished creation, he declared it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). The world will be perfect when sin and death and Satan are cast into the lake of fire and the New Heavens and New Earth are forever free of them. It is possible that a “very good” world could include animal death; we know it at least included the death of plants since they were given for food. The “very good” world included fallen angels since the serpent visited the garden of Eden.

As to the second argument, it may accidentally push too far. If God never intended death and disease and they are exclusively the result of Adam’s fall, then creation went beyond God’s control. On the other hand, if God created the world knowing that sin and death would exist until Jesus came and destroyed them, then death may not be his desire but it is necessarily part of his plan so it can be destroyed by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This argument opens up a rabbit’s hole of theological discussion that is beyond the purpose of this post so I’ll let this rest here.

A strength of this argument is the emotional reaction it creates against animal death being part of God’s original creation. How could that be considered “very good?” But here again we have to rely on an inference either way because the Bible is silent on the issue. Perhaps animal death did not exist before the fall but if it did, no matter how we feel about it, God declared it very good and therefore it was.

Conclusion. None of this is offered as ultimate defeaters of young earth apologetics. Nor are these observations likely to completely answer the young-earth defenses they respond to. My point is simply to slow us down and allow us to consider them clearly. Maybe they’re good, maybe they’re not. Hopefully we can see why they’re not always as persuasive as we think they should be.

In Defense of Hezekiah

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?”

2 Kings 20:16–19

This always stuck me as a callous response to the prophecy that Jerusalem would be sacked and Hezekiah’s children would be taken into captivity. “Hey, that’s too bad but in the fifteen more years I’m alive there will be peace, so, cool!” But maybe that’s not what Hezekiah meant.

Chapter 20 ends with Hezekiah’s death and chapter 21 begins: Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign… Do the math. Hezekiah was given fifteen more years to live (2 Ki. 20:6) and his son who reigned in his place was only twelve years old. So when Isaiah told Hezekiah “some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away” he told it to a childless (or at least son-less) king. God promised not only to heal Hezekiah but also to give him children.

And it wasn’t just fifteen years later that Hezekiah’s children were taken away. Though Manasseh was only twelve when he took the throne, according to verse 6, “he burned his son as an offering.” Twelve year olds don’t have sons. Also, verse 1 says “he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem” and the promised destruction didn’t happen in his lifetime. Nor in the lifetime of his son Josiah, who instituted some great reforms in Judah. It wasn’t till after Josiah’s death that his son Jehoahaz was taken away by Pharaoh Neco to Egypt.

It doesn’t appear that Hezekiah had any way of knowing how long after his days God’s curse would fall but he did have an idea that it wouldn’t be too soon. God healed him and gave him fifteen more years of life. He promised that Hezekiah would have sons and they would reign also before they were carried off. He had hope so perhaps his response to Isaiah’s prophecy isn’t as callous as it appears.

What about the other thing Hezekiah did? When “Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick” (2 Ki. 20:12), Hezekiah welcomed him and showed him all the stuff of the king of Judah. Isaiah asked about this and then announces that curse about everything being carried off. Did Hezekiah screw up by showing Merdoach-baladan around the capital city? Maybe not. What Hezekiah did was proper court courtesy when an important person showed him a kindness. Maybe the curse that followed was not because Hezekiah showed him the stuff but maybe it was God’s way of explaining what would happen after Hezekiah was gone.

God didn’t judge Judah for having and showing riches. “Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him” (2 Kings 23:26). It wasn’t Hezekiah’s fault and it wasn’t Josiah’s fault, it was Manasseh’s fault. God used a visit by a foreign royal to explain what foreigners would do to Jerusalem, not to reprimand Hezekiah.

That was then, this is now

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died, and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on.” (Lev. 16:1–4)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19–22)

Doubting Thomas’ Doubting

“Be not faithless, but believe.”

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

(John 20:27, NIV)

First of all, Thomas didn’t doubt, he flat out refused to believe. The NIV translates the word apistos as “doubt” but pistos means faith so apistos would be “without faith.” There are other words used in the New Testament that mean doubt and they aren’t used. Even the context argues against “doubt.” In verse 25 Thomas had said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

So here’s the question: what wouldn’t Thomas believe? Well, he wouldn’t believe that Jesus was alive. But why? Did he not believe in resurrection? I doubt that is the answer; he saw it happen.

In chapter 11, Jesus and the disciples were across the Jordan river, where John the Baptist had been, when they receive word that Jesus’ good friend Lazarus was ill. Jesus decided to remain where he was two more days and then announced, “Let us go to Judea again.” His disciples pointed out that the Jews were trying to stone him there. When he insisted that he had to go “wake up” Lazarus who had died, Thomas replied, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

We learn a few things in this exchange. First, Jesus said “let us go” so it appears the disciples, including Thomas, went with him to Bethany. So though Jesus’ disciples were not mentioned, they were surely there. Therefore, Thomas saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. He is mentioned by name in the context if not the location. So it seems unlikely that, by chapter 20, Thomas didn’t believe in the possibility of resurrection.

The other thing we can learn from Thomas’ statement takes a bit more work. Who was he referring to when he said “die with him”? Thomas was traveling with Jesus and the Jews were trying to kill Jesus, so maybe Thomas meant “let’s go die with Jesus.” If that’s what he meant, and he wasn’t being sarcastic, it shows tremendous faith in Jesus. Jesus is worth dying with. Thomas is that dedicated to Jesus.

But the most recent and direct reference to someone dying is not Jesus but Lazarus. The statement that Thomas is referring to Jesus’ that Lazarus had died. So if Thomas is saying “let’s go die with Lazarus” it seems that he is asking to partake in the resurrection, the “waking up,” that Jesus has promised. Either way then, Thomas is showing tremendous faith in Jesus and his ability to raise the dead.

So back in chapter 20, Thomas is being told by the other disciples that they have seen Jesus alive. He can’t accept, that not because of a lack of faith in Jesus, but, it seems, because he believed that only Jesus could raise the dead. In the Old Testament, God raised the dead but he did it through men, through Elijah and Elisha. He never raises the dead independent of a prophet (thought, theoretically, he could). For Thomas to accept that Jesus is alive again would mean that God is using someone other than Jesus to raise the dead and it seems Thomas cannot accept that. Jesus is dead, Thomas reasons, so he can’t raise himself; there is not other prophet to raise him, so Jesus must surely still be dead. To accept his resurrection would be to admit God is using someone else for his mighty works. It would put another prophet on par with Jesus.

But Thomas is missing one key component, one line of code, one important link in the chain. Though he thinks very highly of Jesus, he doesn’t think quite highly enough. There is an explanation that Thomas hasn’t yet considered.

When Jesus appears to Thomas and invites him to inspect his risen body, he commands Thomas to stop not believing and to believe. If Jesus is alive, then he must have raised himself. But people cannot raise themselves because they’re dead and dead people can’t do anything. Then it all comes together for Thomas and he announces, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus had been Thomas’ lord, his master, and Thomas had been his disciple. Now Thomas understands what Jesus had said before:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”… But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

(John 2:18-22)

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

(John 10:17–18)

The only answer is that Jesus is Thomas’ master and more. Human nature dies, divinity can raise it, and divine nature cannot. Jesus is Thomas’ lord and his God.

The Promise of the Father to You and Your Children

Back when I was willing to debate who should be baptized,1I don’t engage that debate any more. I’ve found that it generates a lot of talk and little understanding. Though I have clear and strong convictions on this, I chose to leave the topic alone, especially on the Internet. I often ran into an argument for the baptism of infants based on Acts 2:39:

For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

“The promise is for you and your children so baptize your children, that’s how the people who originally heard this promise would have responded to it after all.” I’ve written on this a bit tongue in cheek here2I need to redo the formatting on that post. but as I was preparing to preach on this passage, I again saw how really weak that argument is. No, not weak, inappropriate.

First of all, in context, the promise is not baptism or the covenant but the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5, 8, 2:33). What Peter is offering them is to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). So if infants automatically receive the promise because their parents did, then our children are automatically Spirit-filled. If they have received the Holy Spirit, they received the seal and guarantee of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30). Surely that’s more than what most paedobaptists are arguing for from this verse, but it does follow. So what did Peter mean by “for you and for your children”? Keep reading. The promise is also “for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And that was exactly Peter’s point at the beginning of his sermon. People were confused as to why, listening to these Galileans, they could “hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). Peter’s answer is that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh, not just judges, kings, and prophets, just as the prophet Joel said He would be (Acts 2:17).

Second, there is explicit reason in the immediate context to say that only those who professed faith were baptized:

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)

It is a huge “yeah-but” to say that it was they and their children when the verse is clear that it was “those who received” Peter’s word.

The entire point of chapter 2 is the arrival of the Holy Spirit on “all flesh” because of Jesus’ resurrection. To extend it to support infant baptism really misses the point. The tremendous promise is that Jesus received the Promise of his Father and has given that promise it all who believe in him. You can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

1 I don’t engage that debate any more. I’ve found that it generates a lot of talk and little understanding. Though I have clear and strong convictions on this, I chose to leave the topic alone, especially on the Internet.
2 I need to redo the formatting on that post.