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Wordwise Insight, Issue #054
April 14, 2009

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): the meaning and use of the Christian's armour; the identity of Melchizedek


MORE ARTICLES: Choosing a hymnal; planning a community hymn sing

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LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION? On a Bible topic or passage of Scripture? Or one about a hymn or gospel song? Click on Questions from You.



Its Meaning and Use

QUESTION: What is the meaning and use of the armour Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10-17?

ANSWER: The spiritual armour of the Christian is important to our welfare. Therefore, the meaning and application of the Ephesians passage is worthy of careful thought and study. There is certainly some room for differing conclusions, especially since Paul does not give us a thorough explanation, and the Bible elsewhere uses the imagery in slightly different ways (cf. Isa. 59:17; II Cor. 6:7; I Thess. 5:8).

It should also be noted that Roman armour varied over time, and not all were exactly outfitted as described. But herewith a brief explanation of each piece of armour, and my own conclusions about it.

1) The Belt of Truth (Integrity of Character)
The Armour: As the Roman soldier prepared for battle, a wide, strong belt was put on first. It gathered in his loose tunic, giving greater freedom of movement. It also gave support to the abdominal muscles, and sometimes included a scabbard for the sword.

The Meaning: Some suggest the belt represents the objective truth of Scripture. However, that is amply covered by other pieces of armour. It more likely refers to honesty, integrity, sincerity, and truthfulness in the life. The sword of truth is to be drawn out of the belt of personal truthfulness. Compare the example of Ezra, "[He] prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it [this came first], and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel [after he had applied it to himself]" (Ezra 7:10).

Our service for Christ ought not to be rooted in hypocrisy. God's objective truth can only be an effective weapon as it is sincerely applied and reflected in the Christian's own life. "Behold, You [Lord] desire truth in the inward parts" (Ps. 51:6). We are to "wage a good warfare, having faith and a good conscience" (I Tim. 1:18-19), and "be sincere and without offense (Phil. 1:10; cf. II Cor. 4:2; 11:13-15; I Thess. 2:3-4).

2) The Breastplate of Righteousness (Godly Affections and Desires)
The Armour: The breastplate covered...

To see the full article, click on Christian Armour.


QUESTION: R. V. M. writes, "So, Who is Melchisedec? Is this not Christ Himself?

ANSWER: Thanks for the question. Here is my own view on the subject. Hope it's a help.

The mystery of Melchizedek's identity is still debated. The vast majority of conservative commentators believe him to have been a real man, a historic personage. But there are still a few who think that what Abraham saw was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ (what is technically known as a theophany).

There are unanswered questions with either view, but I tend toward the former. I do not believe Melchizedek was actually Christ. But he is certainly used as a symbol of Christ. (Theologians call this a type of which Christ is the antitype.)

Old Testament Appearances of Christ
The pre-incarnate Christ did appear briefly to various ones in the Old Testament (as He does to Abraham, in Genesis 18). (And a careful study of the many passages speaking of One called "the Angel [Messenger] of the Lord" suggests that He is deity, likely the pre-incarnate Christ–e.g. Gen. 16:9-13; 31:11-13; Exod. 3:1-6; Jud. 13:17-22, etc.) However, these were fleeting encounters. Nowhere before His incarnation does Christ take up residence, and serve as a local official over a period of time. Also, Christ is called a priest "according to the order [or likeness] of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4). It does not seem to make logical sense for the Bible to say He was a priest like Himself!

Melchizedek a Historical Figure
Melchizedek may not have been a personal name, but rather a title. It means King of Righteousness, or simply Just King. Zedek (just) is a title used by other Jebusite kings according to ancient literature (and see Adoni-Zedek of Josh. 10:1). Melchizedek appears in the historical Scriptures only once (Gen. 14:18-20), though he is...

To see the full article, click on Melchizedek.



Paid in Full

Did your mind ever wander during a Sunday service? Perhaps you started thinking about other things--maybe what occurred last week, or plans for the coming week or what you will be doing later that day. Something like that happened to the writer of a familiar hymn.

On a hot summer Sunday morning in 1865, Mrs. Elvina Hall (1820-1889) was found in her accustomed place in the church choir loft. But as the pious words of the Reverend Schrick's prayer droned on and on, her thoughts drifted to other things. She pondered the meaning of the cross, and the storied scene flashed before her mind's eye.

High upon a rocky crag, three crosses scarred the afternoon sky. On the outer gibbets, hung two notorious thieves. Below, Roman soldiers drank and gambled, waiting for death to overtake the poor wretches suspended above them. It was a public execution, but far more significant than they imagined at the time. Suddenly, the air grew dense and an eerie darkness invaded the scene.

As the soldiers gazed about them in superstitious dread, a triumphant cry pierced the gloom. It came from the figure on the centre cross. One word, in the Greek tongue: "Tetelestai!" Then He was dead. That shout of victory Christ uttered as He died is usually translated "It is finished!" (Jn. 19:30). But it had another meaning back then. It was an accounting term. When a bill was paid, it was commonly stamped with the word "Tetelestai," meaning Paid in Full.

And that is precisely what the death of Christ accomplished. "[He] bore our sins in His own body on the tree," says Peter (I Pet. 2:24). "He Himself is the propitiation [the full satisfaction of God's justice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world," (I Jn. 2:2). The groaning weight of...

To see the full article, click on Jesus Paid It All.


The two articles below relate to the singing of the people of God. It is important to have a good hymnal, and the article on that will give you many practical guidelines. Also, a Community Hymn Sing will bless not only your own congregation but others as well. Here is how to plan one.

Choosing a Hymnnal for Your Church

A Community Hymn Sing

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