by Al Maxey

Issue #293 ------- March 18, 2007
Inaction in a deed of mercy
becomes action in a deadly sin.

Ancient Buddhist Saying

Sin That Leads Unto Death
Reflecting on John's Distinction Between
Deadly & Non-Deadly Sin in 1 John 5:16-17

A reader of these weekly Reflections from the great state of Indiana recently sent me the following personal request: "Al, a question came up in our Bible class this Sunday morning, and I was wondering if you had an answer to it. It had to do with a statement in 1 John 5. Specifically, what is the sin that leads to death that we're not to pray for? I'd always thought all sin led to death. However, John says there is sin that does not lead to death, which to me implies levels of sin. What does it mean when it says that if we see a brother sin, and pray for him, that God will give him life? Does this mean he doesn't even have to know about his sin, or repent of it?" These are excellent questions, and they reflect a deep concern that has been voiced by a great many perplexed disciples over the centuries.

The apostle John, around the year 95 A.D. from the city of Ephesus, wrote the following words, "If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death" [1 John 5:16-17, NKJV]. Within the Roman Catholic Church there is often reference made to mortal sins and venial sins, which essentially means those sins considered to be deadly and those sins considered to be of much lesser consequence in the sight of our God, and which therefore may be more readily forgiven. According to Catholic theology, it is not necessary to confess a venial sin, although it is considered "a good and pious practice," but a mortal sin must be confessed, otherwise the person's soul will be condemned. The seven deadly sins are said to be: pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth (although there may be some fluctuation in lists, depending on the source). A venial (meaning "forgivable") sin is defined as one "not committed with full knowledge, or which was not committed with both deliberate and complete consent." In other words, according to established Catholic theology, willful intent plays a major role in the determination of whether a sin is considered mortal or venial. This particular passage penned by the hand of John, by the way, is one of the primary texts used in the formulation of the above Roman Catholic doctrine.

Protestant theology, as one might well imagine, takes extreme exception to the above attempted specification of this phrase "sin unto death." The textual reality is: John, within his first epistle, does not specify the identity of the sins in view. Indeed, it is entirely possible, as we shall note, that a specific sin may well be mortal in some cases, but venial in others. Or, to use the NT terminology, "unto death" in some instances, but "not unto death" in others. The key to the distinction would fall within the parameters of situational and motivational concerns. R.C.H. Lenski has rightly observed, "Confusion has resulted from making the distinction between 'mortal' and 'venial' sins and then listing certain gross sins as mortal. The Romanists list seven, and then devise a penitential system that is to be applied by the church, in which the priests measure out the satisfactio operis in their sacrament of penance" [Interpretation of First John, p. 537-537]. Perhaps the scholarly writers of the Pulpit Commentary state it best: "Casuistical classifications of sins under the heads of mortal and venial have been based upon this passage. It lends no authority to such attempts, and they have worked untold mischief in the Church. The apostle tells us that the distinction between mortal and venial does exist, but he supplies us with no test by which one man can judge another in this respect. By pointedly abstaining from making any classification of sins into mortal and venial, he virtually condemns the making" [vol. 22, p. 142]. Thus, the apostle John is clearly looking beyond a list of specific sins, in his treatment of that which is or is not "unto death," to something far more eternally determinative. "To divide sins, on the authority of this passage, into venial and mortal is to misunderstand the whole argument of the Epistle and to seduce the conscience" [Charles Ellicott, Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 8, p. 493].

You are likely beginning to realize, if you weren't already well aware, that this is a very difficult text. Albert Barnes, in his classic Notes on the Bible, writes, "There has been great diversity of opinion in regard to the meaning of this passage, and the views of expositors of the New Testament are by no means settled as to its true sense" [e-Sword]. Indeed, these verses are so difficult that Barnes stresses "the impropriety of any very great confidence in one's own judgment in the case." Adam Clarke concurs: "This is an extremely difficult passage, and has been variously interpreted" [Clarke's Commentary, vol. 6, p. 925]. A few commentators simply confess they don't have a clue as to the meaning, and thus refuse to even attempt an interpretation. "This is puzzling. We do not know exactly what the author has in mind" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 12, p. 355]. Perhaps Dr. Kenneth Wuest, a prominent Greek scholar, stated it best: "The present writer confesses his utter inability to understand this verse ... it is an enigma to him, and he will not attempt to offer even a suggestion as to its possible interpretation" [Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek NT, vol. 2, p. 182].

With the above reservations in mind (I certainly do not profess, nor do I even remotely possess, infallible insight into this passage), I will attempt to present some of the more accepted interpretations, offering my own comments along the way, for whatever they may be worth. The beginning of any process of biblical interpretation is always context. The aged apostle John had several purposes in mind when writing this epistle, but one of the primary ones was to confirm the truth of our Lord's incarnation. Contrary to the teachings of the early Gnostics, the Word did become flesh and dwelt among us; deity took on human form. Some were denying that; some deny it still. John, however, affirmed it. Those who deny that God's Anointed One "has come in the flesh" are false prophets and antichrist [1 John 4:1-3]. Genuine disciples will abide in this teaching about the Messiah [2 John 9]. On the other hand, "Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward" [2 John 7-8]. Those who accept this witness from above concerning the Messiah receive the gift of eternal life [1 John 5:6-11]. "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" [vs. 12]. In vs. 13 we are given a blessed assurance -- "you who believe in the name of the Son of God ... may know that you have eternal life." This brings a confidence in many areas of our daily walk, including our approach to God in prayer [vs. 14-15]. We are His beloved children, thus He hears us!

The epistles of John are also very much about fellowship, both with our Father and with our fellow believers, whoever and wherever they may be. If we walk in the light where He is, then we have fellowship with one another [1 John 1:7]. However, those who profess a walk in the light, but who fail to practice such a walk, are liars and abiding in darkness. Throughout these epistles the aged apostle John leads us on a personal journey of self-evaluation. Are we what we profess to be? Are we children of God or of the devil? He shares with us the qualities of each, and invites us to examine our hearts. Are we perfect in our daily walk? No. "If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves" [1 John 1:8]. Yes, we stumble in our walk, but when we do so the blood of Christ Jesus continually cleanses us [1 John 1:7-8]. Those sins we know about, we'll confess; those missteps about which we may be ignorant are covered by grace! "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins" [1 John 2:1-2]. This is not a free pass to live in sin, however. Indeed, the genuine child of God will shun the willful, habitual practice of unrighteousness [1 John 3:4-12]. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of God's children, as presented by John in these three epistles, is LOVE. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death" [1 John 3:14]. "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love" [1 John 4:8]. This, then, very briefly stated, is the context within which we find our difficult passage.

As John comes to the end of his first epistle, he affirms our eternal salvation, insisting that we may know, of an absolute certainty, that we are saved. Salvation is not something we hope to receive in the distant "by and by," it is in our possession now. It is ours! "You may know that you have eternal life" [1 John 5:13]. No hopeful longing; it is blessed assurance. "He who has the Son has the life" [vs. 12]. After reaffirming this fact, however, John urges the children of God to look out for one another so that no spiritual sibling might stray from the purity of their devotion. He writes, "If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death..." [1 John 5:16]. There are several items here of which we must take very careful notice lest our interpretation go astray. First, the focus is clearly on the family of God, and not upon those who are dwellers in darkness: children of the devil. Those whom we see sinning a sin not unto death are brethren. Although some commentators feel this may refer to the "brotherhood of mankind," and thus all men are our "brothers," I believe this misses the point of the passage, overlooking the context. John Gill, in his Exposition of the Entire Bible, observed that such a one is a brother, "not in a natural or civil sense, but in a spiritual sense; one that is judged to be born again, and belongs to the family and household of God, and is a member of a Gospel church; and so is under the watch, inspection, and care of the saints" [e-Sword]. In his classic Word Studies, Vincent defines the term "brother" in this particular context as being one who is a "Christian brother" [e-Sword]. "St. John passes from the general thought of prayer to that of prayer for the brethren. And in doing this he fixes attention upon the failures of Christians" [Dr. B. F. Westcott, The Epistles of St. John: The Greek Text with Notes, p. 190]. Westcott adds: "The sight of sin in 'a brother' -- a fellow Christian -- and it is only with Christians that St. John is dealing -- necessarily stirs to intercession" [ibid, p. 191]. This is a sincere prayer of intercession "in the particular case of a 'brother' -- i.e., a fellow-believer" [Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol. 5, p. 198].

It is also important to note that John denotes sin that is seen, not just assumed. "If anyone should see" -- this is an Aorist Subjunctive form, thus referring to some sin one should happen to behold at a given point. It should further be noted that this is not the common Greek word for "see" (blepo), but is rather a form of horao, which indicates that this is much more than just something someone happened to see with his own eyes -- it suggests that one perceives that which is seen for what it truly is. Many people see things, but don't fully grasp what they have seen ... or misunderstand what they have seen, thus drawing false conclusions. That is not the case here. A devoted fellow sibling in the Family of God has stumbled in his walk with the Lord; one of us has perceived that fact, having witnessed it firsthand. "It is not a matter simply of suspicion" that a brother has committed such a sin [Dr. B. F. Westcott, p. 191]. "We should not overlook the phrase 'if one sees' -- aorist: actually sees" [Lenski, p. 535]. "The knowledge of the sin spoken of is not derived either from irresponsible rumor or from malignant slander. To these we should pay no heed. We should discredit them, and seek to extinguish them. But it is immediate, direct, and certain" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 22, p. 166].

We should also hasten to point out that in this initial part of verse 16 we witness a brother committing a sin not unto death. In other words, "death" (whatever that term may be determined to mean in this context) is not a consequence in view for this brother. Clearly, then, disciples of Christ can sin without it being deadly. "All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death" [vs. 17]. Christians, no doubt, engage in such sins on a daily basis, yet John would have us know the consequences are not such that death looms imminent. It should also be noted that when John speaks of sin that is "unto death," the term "brother" is not connected. We may pray for brethren who are engaged in sin not leading to death, that they may be lifted up after having stumbled. John does not encourage us to engage in intercessory prayer for those (and he does not call them brethren) who are sinning sins "unto death." These folk walk a different pathway than we do; they abide in darkness and death, whereas we are abiding in light and life. There are other passages in Scripture that provide guidance in how to deal with those who are lost, but this text is not one of them. In this passage the focus is on those who are saved; our responsibility to the redeemed whenever they are discovered to be sinning sins "not unto death."

At this point we probably need to attempt an identification of what constitutes "sin unto death" and "sin not unto death." The entire passage, and its interpretation, really hinges on grasping the significance of these two concepts. Perhaps the first point to be made, before going any farther, is that in neither phrase is the definite article ("the") used before the word "sin." Indeed, even the indefinite article ("a") is purely an assumption by the translators. In other words, rather than saying "the sin" or "a sin" unto death or not unto death, which tends to suggest to many people some degree of specificity of sin, it might be better to phrase it (and doing so is just as grammatically correct) "sin unto death," leaving the phrase more general in nature, which lends itself to a much different interpretation. Frankly, the fact that many translations have phrased it as "a sin" has contributed to this never-ending search for which sin, or sins, this might be (thus resulting in the seven deadly sins, as well as listings of lesser, venial sins). It is my conviction that such specificity misses the point. Vincent, in his Greek Word Studies, opts to omit the indefinite article in translation -- "A sin would express a specific act as such; Sin describes the character of a class of acts" [e-Sword]. He continues, "sin unto death does not refer to a specific act, but to a class or species of sins." Dr. Westcott concurs: "The thought is not of the definite external characteristics of particular acts" [p. 191]. Westcott further notes: "The translation 'a sin' is too definite. The thought is not of specific acts as such, but of acts which have a certain character" [p. 192]. "Not 'a sin.' He is speaking rather of the state than of a specific act" [Pulpit Commentary, vol. 22, p. 153]. Before we develop this point further, however, notice some of the major theories advanced over the centuries as to the nature of this "sin unto death."

  1. Some scholars, believing the "death" of which John speaks to be physical death, suggest the "sin unto death" is any sin that results in one's physical demise. For example, one who gets behind the wheel of a car drunk, and then ends up in a fatal crash, was guilty of a "sin unto death." Yet another suggestion is that homosexuals who contract AIDS from their perverted sex acts, experience a "sin unto death." The apostle Paul wrote, "men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error" [Rom. 1:27]. Others believe it may refer to crimes against humanity that result in the death penalty for the perpetrator. A murderer sentenced to execution, for example, was found guilty of a "sin unto death." There were many such "sins unto death" listed in the Law of Moses.

  2. The unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is viewed by many scholars as being this "sin unto death" mentioned by the apostle John. Gill, in his Exposition of the Entire Bible, states that "the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is neither forgiven in this world nor in that to come, therefore must be 'unto death'" [e-Sword]. "Only one sin there is where prayer is futile and foolish, namely the sin against the Holy Ghost. Intercession may as well cease, for this sin, by its peculiar nature, precludes forgiveness" [Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible: The NT, vol. 2, p. 578]. For an in-depth study of this particular sin (which is found in Matt. 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10), I would refer the readers to Reflections #236.

  3. Many scholars point out that "every sin, even the least sin, is in its own nature mortal, or deserving of death" [John Gill, e-Sword]. After all, as Paul points out, "the wages of sin is death" [Rom. 6:23]. Nevertheless, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" [1 John 1:9]. This fact leads quite a number of reputable scholars to believe that "sin unto death" is nothing more than a class of sins --- i.e., unconfessed and unrepented sin! Thus, those who willfully and obstinately refuse to turn from sin, but continue in it, are sinning "unto death." The writer of Hebrews says, "If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries" [Heb. 10:26-27]. "When a human will has been firmly and persistently set in opposition to the divine will, our intercession will be of no avail. And this seems to be the meaning of 'sin unto death' -- it is willful and obstinate rejection of God's grace and persistence in unrepented sin" [Pulpit Commentary, vol. 22, p. 142].

  4. A fourth major theory with regard to this "sin unto death" is that it refers to a willful rejection of Jesus Christ. Those who consciously chose to deny Jesus as Lord, even if they had previously accepted Him (and especially those in this category), are guilty of "sin unto death." If life is only in the Son (which it is), then those who deny and reject the Son are devoid of this abundant and everlasting life. They have missed the mark, and it will prove deadly. Hebrews 6:4-6 is a fearful passage! It clearly describes "sin unto death" (as do 2 Pet. 2:20-22 and Gal. 5:4). Vincent, in his Word Studies, observes that "whatever breaks the fellowship between the soul and Christ, and, by consequence, between the individual and the body of believers, is unto death, for there is no life apart from Christ" [e-Sword]. "The rejection of the Christ necessarily involves the renunciation of the life which is derived through Him. Therefore, if a man deliberately and decidedly rejects the only Being through whom he can obtain eternal life, what remains for him but to abide in the dark night of death? For such persons as these St. John does not encourage us to pray" [Pulpit Commentary, vol. 22, p. 166-167].

There are, of course, countless additional theories as to the meaning and significance of the phrase "sin unto death." The above, however, are the more common and accepted. They all are valid doctrines, in and of themselves, but are they what John had in mind when he spoke of "sin unto death"? And what about "sin not unto death"? Most scholars would tend to follow along with the view that this category would include those disciples of Jesus who simply fall victim to the weaknesses of the flesh in their daily effort to walk in the light as He is in the light. We are human, thus fallible. We sin. That is a fact. Yet, such failings, though still classed as "sin," hardly rise to the level of, or carry the consequences of, the above enumerated willful, obstinate, unrepented rebellions and rejections. Some refer to these "sins not unto death" as sins of "ignorance or inadvertence" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 12, p. 355]. John Gill, in describing the nature of such sin that is not unto death, says such a brother "does not continue in it; he does not live in the constant commission of it; his life is not a course of iniquity; that sin he sins is not a governing one in him; though he falls into it, he rises up out of it through divine grace, and abides not in it; and he has a sense of it, and is sorry for it, after a godly sort, loathes it, and himself for it; is ashamed of it, ingenuously confesses it, and mourns over it and forsakes it" [e-Sword]. Dr. Vincent concurs, saying that sin not unto death "is characterized not by the object with which it is connected, but rather by the disposition from which it proceeds" [e-Sword]. Thus, "it is the attitude of mind with which the sinner contemplates his act before and after commission that makes all the difference" [Pulpit Commentary, vol. 22, p. 142]. As B. W. Johnson says, in the People's New Testament with Notes, it is "a condition of soul" that distinguishes "sin unto death" from "sin not unto death" [vol. 2, p. 392].

Dr. Nicoll, in The Expositor's Greek Testament, correctly concludes, "So long as a man is capable of repentance, he has not sinned unto death" [vol. 5, p. 198]. I would agree. As Dr. Westcott emphatically states with regard to this passage in the first epistle of John the apostle, "The thought is not of specific acts as such, but of acts which have a certain character" [p. 192]. In other words, to try and specify those exact sins which are "mortal" and those which are "venial" is to entirely miss the point. It all comes down to the motivation of one's heart. Thus, it is not so much the act one commits that determines if one has sinned a sin "unto death" or "not unto death," it is the reason one sinned such a sin. Sin not unto death would consist of "stumblings as do not imply any distinct, willful, deliberate severance from the faith of Christ" [Ellicott, vol. 8, p. 493]. We all commit these in our walk with Jesus. "Thank God that all sins and all sinning are not unto death, that by confessing and fleeing to the intercession of our Advocate we may have our sins remitted and be cleansed -- 1 John 1:7-2:2. So we say that where the way for this is still open, the sinning is not unto death" [Lenski, p. 536]. The sin unto death, on the other hand, "is that sinning which involves the closing of the door to the blood of Jesus Christ" [ibid].

It does no good to engage in intercessory prayer on behalf of one who has freely, willfully, deliberately and obstinately chosen to reject God's grace and persist in dwelling in the darkness; preferring it to the light. Many people in this world have made their choice ... and it is not Jesus! They are not our brethren. They are not children of our Father; they are children of the devil. They have chosen death over life. They embrace sin leading unto death, and John says to us, "I do not say that one should make request for that" [1 John 5:16]. Our prayers will not override their freewill. Nor will our God override their freewill. Men may indeed choose to reject their God. John does not suggest we pray for such hardened souls (that God might give them life). They have determined their path. This same principle is seen in the OT times. "There were instances in the times of the prophets in which the sin of the people had become so universal and so aggravated, that the prophets were forbidden to pray for them" [Albert Barnes, e-Sword]. One such example is Jeremiah 14:11-12 -- "So the Lord said to me, 'Do not pray for the welfare of this people. When they fast, I am not going to listen to their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I am not going to accept them. Rather, I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence.'" They were guilty of "sin unto death," thus God instructed His prophets that the time for intercessory prayer was at an end.

Our intercessory prayers, however, are for those who still have hope; for our brethren, who are not sinning unto death, but who, out of weakness and/or ignorance, are stumbling and faltering in their daily walk. We are to pray for their uplifting, for their renewal, for their spiritual enlivening, and John says that God will indeed hear this prayer and revive those who have fallen. These are those disciples who long to walk worthy of the calling with which they have been called, and thus will quickly confess and repent when shown to be in error. We are to restore such ones, who have been overtaken in some trespass, in a spirit of gentleness [Gal. 6:1]. They are not lost, they are merely fallen; they are down, but not yet out. Step boldly and quickly into their lives, dear brethren, and intercede for them, both in prayer and in active, visible, practical support. Within the lives of these faltering brothers and sisters who possess such hearts open to loving direction, your intercession will make a difference; it will set them back on their feet and back on the pathway of righteousness.

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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in Texas:
[Copy of a message sent to his mailing list]

The attached is the latest weekly article from Al Maxey ("The Daughters of Lot"). It is an excellent study, and typical of the quality messages Al has been producing for many years. I heartily recommend his web site (where you can sign up to receive the articles directly each week). He also has an excellent reference archive on a multitude of subjects previously covered. In his current issue of Reflections, Al endorses an album, and you may want to do so as well after you listen to some of the numbers in the album. Lanier Stevens is a strong believer and teacher in the Unity Movement. Like Rick Atchley and Max Lucado, Al Maxey is simply searching for Truth. He has more than 12,000 subscribers now, and his mailing list is growing rapidly. He deserves our support.

From a Reader in Colorado:

Bro. Al, Since the topic of vocal groups was mentioned in your last Reflections, you might want to let your readers know about the group Cross Examined. They are a Colorado a cappella group who will be performing at the Pepperdine Lectures in May. The link to their web site is:

From a Minister in Alabama:

Bro. Al, I just read with interest your thoughts on the troubling passage about Lot and his daughters. I think you are right -- Lot's proposal was inexcusable, and just demonstrates how the depravity of Sodom had permeated his character. I think there might be another purpose to this account also -- that of demonstrating to Israel (the original recipients of the book) and all future readers the depths of depravity to which the Canaanite culture had sunk. The shameful beginnings of the Moabites and Ammonites may have a similar purpose in mind. I think maybe God wanted Israel (and, by extension, us) to know why they/we must not seek to co-exist with such people. Thanks, Al. I always enjoy and am challenged by your thoughts and writings.

From a Pastor in California:

Brother Al, That was a really good piece on Lot and his daughters. Isn't it revealing that Lot's fleshly deeds did not prevent God from calling him "righteous," while the Pharisees' legalistic attitudes produced the most scathing rebukes Jesus ever uttered. He forgave prostitutes, tax collectors, and even a murderer, but never the Pharisees. When our hearts are right, and yet we succumb to the flesh, God's grace is greater than our sins. When our hearts are wrong, as with the Pharisees of every generation, even God's grace is shut out. "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart" [1 Sam. 16:7] -- Good thing for us!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, The two biblical illustrations given of men offering their daughters as vessels for sexual gratification to obnoxious men just shows the lack of value placed upon women during that time. All women were considered chattel, just the same as slaves, being owned first by their fathers and then by their husbands. They were subject to being dealt with in whatever manner decided upon by their owners. This attitude continued into the early days of the Christian era, though with diminishing distinction, thus calling for Paul to give instruction concerning proper regard of men for their wives and other women. However, even in the church today there is still this continued view that women are to be considered of lesser value and esteem than men. When men finally realize this error, it will lead to the end of discrimination against women in the church ... and I hope it comes soon!

From a New Reader in Alabama:

Bro. Al, I just finished reading your article -- Faithless Fellowship Halls: Does Satan Smile When Saints Socialize? [Reflections #118] -- and I was very impressed with it. I am from the northern part of Alabama, very near Athens, which is apparently the "national headquarters" for the Non-Institutional Churches of Christ, and where a large percentage of the people teach strongly against such things as this. I never knew such factions of the Lord's church existed until I came to northern Alabama, and I was very shocked at some of the things they believe. It is really sad the time they spend concentrating on such matters. They are also quite ruthless, and at several points in years past they have had me almost brainwashed into thinking maybe they were right. However, Bro. ---- ------- pointed me in the direction of several of your articles, and I have found them to be quite helpful. Anyway, I would love to be added to your mailing list. I know that if the rest of your publications are half as informative as this one on fellowship halls was, they will be very useful in my personal studies. Thank you so much!

From a New Reader in Tennessee:

Bro. Maxey, I am a great-granddaughter of Tice Elkins, who I believe started the congregation there in Alamogordo, New Mexico where you preach. I learned to love the Word of God through his love of the Word. He was quite a debater back in his day, and he was also completely self-taught. Though many of my views and understandings differ from some of his teachings, and from some of our traditions in the Churches of Christ, I am still very blessed to have such deep roots in God's Word through Grampa. My husband and I live in the buckle of the "Bible Belt" and find ourselves overwhelmed by some of the narrow views held about God and His Word. I love God, lead a women's Bible study, attend a Church of Christ, and am determined to live a life that honors and pleases Him. I truly am not divisive, but I do question some of our traditional teachings, which makes our elders a little nervous! Our minister here is very encouraging, though, and he is the one who told me about your web site. In fact, he could not believe I had not heard of you! Anyway, may God bless your pursuit of Truth, and I will be reading and learning from your writings!

From a Reader in Hawaii:

Bro. Al, I just wanted to let you know that in our NT Greek class one of the vocabulary words we'll be studying soon is allelon. I quickly recalled your study of this in Reflections #170 -- "One Another" Relationships of the New Covenant Church. So, with your permission, I will be issuing copies of your study to each of my students. Thank you!

From a Minister/Author in Arizona:

Dear Bro. Al, I continue to enjoy your Reflections. You have blessed many folks through your Bible studies and challenging essays. I believe God is alive and well among this fellowship we call the Churches of Christ. Who knows what the future holds for us! The changes I've seen in my short lifetime are staggering. Enclosed is a complimentary copy of my new book (which I co-authored with Dr. John Mark Hicks) titled: Kingdom Come: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding. If you wish to share your reactions to the book with your readers, that would be fine with me. Indeed, I would relish having your insightful review of the book. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless your ministry. May we have the courage of Lipscomb and the passion of Harding. May the borders of the kingdom and the reign of grace expand with each breath we take.

From a Minister in California:

Dear Bro. Maxey, I have just read for the second time in two days your recent article on Lot and his two daughters. This was a very enjoyable, thought-provoking message. As I read it I was thinking of how nice, and also educational, it would be if I could send your weekly Reflections to the 300+ email addresses I have from a large Community Church nearby whose membership consists of almost every mainline denomination. I would no doubt have to get their permission, but this would certainly be a real evangelistic effort. I like to think BIG. I will close with a prayer for you and your work. Whenever I pray for work like you are doing I think of the power of the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chron. 4:10. Keep up the good work, my brother!

From a Reader in West Virginia:

Dear Bro. Al, Your article on Lot and his daughters gives us some good food for thought. As a side thought, I was wondering about the need of Lot to get out of Sodom. How far is one expected to go in separating himself from society and certain sinful behaviors? Jesus says to be in the world, but not to let the world be in us. Should we move our families from schools and communities every time we see neighbors use foul language, drink too much, and the like? Where will such thinking lead us? Where is the moderation that Paul tells us to have in all things? What wisdom would you share in answering the problem of sin all around us, and, in light of such, just where a Christian is supposed to live?

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Dear Brother Al, I very much respect your methodical way of analyzing the Scriptures. Out of curiosity, do you believe that the concept or doctrine of the Bema, as commonly taught, is Scriptural? Or, is it merely an example of those who believe in the eternal security of the believer over-reaching, based upon what they want the Scriptures to teach?

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Maxey, Someone mentioned to me the other day that there were reasons that led them to believe that Michael is really Jesus in Heaven. He quoted the words of Daniel 10:21 --- "There is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince." I would sure like to hear your thoughts on the matter. I thank God for people like you, as you help me to understand better.

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