Category: Men of the bible (Q thru Z)


Seth, a son of Adam and Eve (and the third one named in Scripture), was born after the Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:8). Eve believed that God had appointed him as a replacement for Abel and named him Seth, which means “set in place of” (Genesis 4:25). Later, when Seth was 105 years old, his son Enosh was born (Genesis 4:26), and Enosh continues what is sometimes called “the godly line of Seth” that leads to Abraham.

The story of Cain’s killing the righteous “seed” (Abel) and God’s raising up another “seed” (Seth) becomes the central theme of the divine plan. Evil is always attempting to rid the world of good, and God is always thwarting evil’s plans. There is always a Seth to replace Abel. It was through the seed of Seth that Jesus was born (Genesis 5:3–8, 1 Chronicles 1:1, Luke 3:38).

After the birth of Seth’s son Enosh, the Bible tells us, “At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26), which confirms Eve’s foretelling of the purpose of Seth’s birth. The word call also means “to proclaim,” which refers to men testifying about God to one another. It was through Seth’s family that organized, corporate worship of the one true God began to enter the fallen world. Though the descendants of Seth are not the first in Adam’s line to develop inventions or advances in civilization, they are the first to praise and worship God.

Unlike Cain’s descendants, Seth’s prove faithful to God. From Seth come the patriarchs, the nation of Israel, and eventually Christ. And it’s Christ who not only destroys Satan but also condemns sin and death (Luke 3:23–38). It was through Seth that the “Offspring of the Woman” came who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).

Seth is also mentioned in other works, including the Apocrypha (Sirah 49:16), the pseude-pigraphical works, such as the Ascension of Isaiah, Jubilees, and the Life of Adam and Eve. His name also recorded in some of the Gnostic texts, e.g., the Gospel of the Egyptians and the Second Treatise of the Great Seth.

 

Proverbs offers men much wisdom related to avoiding the trap of sexually immoral relationships with women. However, Solomon’s greatest personal weakest was with women. He is recorded as having 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Unfortunately, “as Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon knew what was right. Why didn’t he follow his own advice concerning women?

Many explanations have been offered, though the Bible does not specifically give the answer. It should be mentioned that Solomon’s father, David, also struggled in this area, though not to the extent that Solomon did. David took many wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5:13), but, even then, he lusted after Bathsheba and committed adultery with her. Like father, like son, they say, and Solomon it seems inherited his father’s sin and amplified it in his own life.

One reason often noted for Solomon failing to follow his own advice is that Solomon learned his lessons from experience. If the Proverbs were compiled in the later part of Solomon’s life, it would make sense that he recorded wise sayings to help others avoid problems he dealt with in his own life. If so, the proverbs of Solomon are deeply personal, since they were born out of the author’s personal struggles with foolishness.

Another possible reason Solomon did not follow his own advice regarding women is that there’s a difference between having knowledge and applying knowledge. Solomon knew it was wrong to obtain many wives—in fact, it was against the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 17:17)—but he did it regardless of his knowledge. Solomon likely later regretted his choices, as can be seen in the way he speaks of avoiding sexual immorality in Proverbs.

A third possible answer to this issue is that not all of the book of Proverbs was written by Solomon. The book indicates that some of the proverbs were written by other wise men (Proverbs 22:17—24:34), Agur son of Jakeh (Proverbs 30:1–33) and King Lemuel (Proverbs 31).

A fourth possible reason that Solomon did not follow his own advice concerning women can be found in the second part of 1 Kings 11:4: “His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” The historian notes that it was when Solomon was older that he strayed from God’s ways. God then gave a judgment concerning Solomon and his kingdom (1 Kings 11:9–13). Since Solomon had experienced judgment in his own life in this area, he determined to help others to avoid similar judgment in their lives.

In the end, we have some possible reasons why Solomon may have neglected his own advice, but we are not told for certain in Scripture. Solomon was extremely wise, but he was a man with temptations like any other person. He obeyed God in many areas, yet he often failed in his relationships with women. Instead of questioning the reasons why Solomon failed to follow his own advice, we would do better to learn from his mistakes and his wisdom recorded in Proverbs to avoid these problems in our own lives.

The fact is that we really do not know who Theophilus was, which is why there are several different theories as to who he might be. No matter how much evidence there may or may not be for each theory, the simple fact is we do not who Theophilus was because the Bible does not identify who he was.

The name “Theophilus” literally means “loved by God,” but carries the idea of “friend of God.” This has led some to believe that “Theophilus” is just a generic title that applies to all Christians. However, from the context of Luke and Acts, it seems clear that Luke is writing to a specific individual, even though his message is also intended for all Christians in all centuries. While both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts have applications for all Christians, they were probably written to a specific individual whom Luke addresses as “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3).

Since it seems clear that Theophilus was an actual person, we will look at what we do know about him from the Bible and then discuss a few of the many theories as to who he might have been. First, it is important to note that Luke addresses him as “most excellent,” a title often used when referring to someone of honor or rank, such as a Roman official. Paul used the same term when addressing Felix (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3) and Festus (Acts 26:25). Therefore, one of the most common theories is that Theophilus was possibly a Roman officer or high-ranking official in the Roman government.

Another possibility is that Theophilus was a wealthy and influential man in the city of Antioch. There are second-century references to a man named Theophilus who was “a great lord” and a leader in the city of Antioch during the time of Luke. Such a man would fit the description, as many scholars believe that Theophilus could have been a wealthy benefactor who supported Paul and Luke on their missionary journeys. That would account for Luke’s wanting to provide an orderly and detailed account of what had happened.

Another theory about who Theophilus was is that he was the Jewish high priest named Theophilus ben Ananus. Theophilus ben Ananus was high priest in Jerusalem in A.D. 37-41. He was the son of Annas and the brother–in-law of Caiaphus. While less popular, this theory seems to be gaining popularity among some groups. Still another theory is that the Theophilus Luke was writing to was a later high priest named Mattathias ben Theophilus, who served in Jerusalem in A.D. 65-66.

Yet another theory about the identity of Theophilus is that he was the Roman lawyer who defended Paul during his trial in Rome. Those who hold this theory believe that Luke’s purpose in writing Luke and Acts was to write a defense of Christianity, somewhat akin to a legal brief. If this theory is correct, Luke’s writings were designed to defend Paul in court against charges of insurrection and, at the same time, to defend Christianity against the charge that it was an illegal, anti-Roman religion.

While each of these theories holds possibilities, it seems most likely that Theophilus was a high-ranking or influential Gentile for whom Luke wanted to provide a detailed, historical account of Christ and the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. Whether this Theophilus was a wealthy relative of Caesar, an influential government official, a wealthy benefactor who supported Paul or Paul’s Roman lawyer does not really matter. We cannot know for sure who Theophilus was, but we can know what Luke’s intentions for writing were. His stated reason for writing to Theophilus was “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4). Luke wrote an historical account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and detailed the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. His intention was to give Theophilus certainty that the “things he had been taught” were indeed true and trustworthy.

Theudas is mentioned once in the Bible, in Acts 5. Theudas was a false messiah, seen by the Romans as an insurrectionary and rabble-rouser, who met a grisly fate. In Acts 5 he is mentioned as an example of the futility of pretense, and his claims are compared to those of Jesus.

The allusion to Theudas comes during a trial. Peter and the apostles had been arrested in Jerusalem a second time for preaching that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 5:18). They were brought before the Sanhedrin and questioned by the high priest (verse 27), who reminded the apostles that they had been strictly forbidden to preach in Jesus’ name. “Yet,” the high priest says, “you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of [Jesus’] blood” (verse 28). It’s at this point that Peter and the apostles make their famous declaration, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (verse 29).

The council was infuriated at the apostles’ refusal to bow to their demands, and they had a mind to stone them to death—which they would later do to Stephen (Acts 7). But from within their ranks comes a voice of reason: a much-respected Pharisee named Gamaliel (under whom Paul trained, Acts 22:3) stood up and addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men” (Acts 5:35). Then Gamaliel mentions Theudas: “Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing” (Acts 5:36). Theudas-following was a fad that soon died out once the leader was gone.

Given the fate of Theudas, Gamaliel says, the council should let things run their course: “In the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38–39). Gamaliel’s wisdom is evident. If Jesus is a false messiah, Gamaliel reasons, then His work would come to nothing; Peter and Jesus’ other followers would eventually be scattered, and the movement would fail. However, Gamaliel says, if Jesus’ followers are truly doing the work of God, then it would be foolish to stand in the way.

Gamaliel’s speech worked. Rather than kill the apostles, the court had them flogged, “ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go” (Acts 5:40). The apostles left rejoicing that “they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (verse 41). And, of course, they “never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (verse 42). The gospel continued to spread. Jesus continued to build His church.

We glean some more details of Theudas from Josephus’ history. In his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus describes Theudas as “a certain charlatan” who “persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan.” Theudas claimed to be a prophet and that he would, by verbal command, “divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it” (20.97–98). Of course, by duplicating the miracle of Joshua entering the Promised Land (Joshua 3:14–17), Theudas could have easily laid claim to his messiahship.

But Theudas never performed his promised miracle. According to Josephus, a Roman procurator named Cuspius Fadus put an end to Theudas’s uprising: Fadus “sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem” (op cit.). This would have happened sometime between AD 44 and 46.

Theudas was one of a long line of false messiahs that Jesus warned about (Mark 13:6). Theudas promoted himself as something, when, in reality, he was nothing. He gathered a following based on his promise to “reconquer” the Promised Land, the popular idea of the time being that the Messiah would overthrow Rome. Theudas’s following was short lived, one proof, as Gamaliel said, that the movement was of human origin.

Theudas claimed a power that he never possessed; Jesus publically showed His power on many occasions (John 11:47). Theudas tried to set up an earthly kingdom by means of force; Jesus stated that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). Theudas and Jesus were both killed by the Romans; however, Theudas stayed dead, and his followers disbanded. Jesus rose again, and His followers are still going strong.

Who was Shamgar?

Shamgar was the third judge of Israel whose heroic actions led to peace in Israel for an unspecified period of time.

One verse of the Bible summarizes his period of leadership. Judges 3:31 says, “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.”

We are only told that 1) Shamgar’s leadership followed Ehud’s, 2) he was the son of Anath, 3) he killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad, and 4) he saved Israel. Because the name Anath referred to a Canaanite goddess, some have suggested Shamgar was a son of a mixed Israelite-Canaanite marriage or had some other connection with the Canaanites, though the text is unclear.

The Philistines were a sea-faring people who lived in Canaan during the period of the Judges. Since the Philistines were known as warriors, the fact that Shamgar killed 600 of them on his own was an amazing—or even miraculous—accomplishment. An oxgoad was usually a strong stick about eight feet long used to prod oxen pulling a plow. Using what was perhaps a crude, ancient version of a bow staff, Shamgar destroyed the enemies of Israel. Judges 3:31 does not specify whether his success came in one battle (as with Samson) or in a series of battles. The only other judge to show such strength would be Samson, whose heroic feats of strength would later eclipse those of Shamgar.

Judges 5:6 also mentions Shamgar and his times. Deborah and Barak’s song records, “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, / in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; / travelers took to winding paths.” From these words, we discover that in Shamgar’s time people traveled carefully and in much fear due to oppression by the Philistines (and possibly other enemies).

Little else is known concerning Shamgar. His period of leadership bridged the time between Ehud and Deborah. God used one man with one simple weapon to rescue His people from oppression. This example of God working through one person to change the lives of many applies today. We are each called to live for God, knowing that our actions can have tremendous influence over many people. Further, God often chooses to use unknown people to accomplish great achievements to bring glory to His name.

The Gospels refer often to the Sadducees and Pharisees, as Jesus was in constant conflict with them. The Sadducees and Pharisees comprised the ruling class of Israel. There are many similarities between the two groups but important differences between them as well.

The Sadducees: During the time of Christ and the New Testament era, the Sadducees were aristocrats. They tended to be wealthy and held powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest, and they held the majority of the 70 seats of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin. They worked hard to keep the peace by agreeing with the decisions of Rome (Israel at this time was under Roman control), and they seemed to be more concerned with politics than religion. Because they were accommodating to Rome and were the wealthy upper class, they did not relate well to the common man, nor did the common man hold them in high opinion. The common man related better to those who belonged to the party of the Pharisees. Though the Sadducees held the majority of seats in the Sanhedrin, history indicates that much of the time they had to go along with the ideas of the Pharisaic minority, because the Pharisees were popular with the masses.

Religiously, the Sadducees were more conservative in one main area of doctrine. The Pharisees gave oral tradition equal authority to the written Word of God, while the Sadducees considered only the written Word to be from God. The Sadducees preserved the authority of the written Word of God, especially the books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy). While they could be commended for this, they definitely were not perfect in their doctrinal views. The following is a brief list of beliefs they held that contradict Scripture:

1. They were extremely self-sufficient to the point of denying God’s involvement in everyday life.

2. They denied any resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18-27; Acts 23:8).

3. They denied any afterlife, holding that the soul perished at death, and therefore denying any penalty or reward after the earthly life.

4. They denied the existence of a spiritual world, i.e., angels and demons (Acts 23:8).

Because the Sadducees were more concerned with politics than religion, they were unconcerned with Jesus until they became afraid He might bring unwanted Roman attention. It was at this point that the Sadducees and Pharisees united and conspired to put Christ to death (John 11:48-50; Mark 14:53; 15:1). Other mentions of the Sadducees are found in Acts 4:1 and Acts 5:17, and the Sadducees are implicated in the death of James by the historian Josephus (Acts 12:1-2).

The Sadducees ceased to exist in A.D. 70. Since this party existed because of their political and priestly ties, when Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70, the Sadducees were also destroyed.

The Pharisees: In contrast to the Sadducees, the Pharisees were mostly middle-class businessmen, and therefore were in contact with the common man. The Pharisees were held in much higher esteem by the common man than the Sadducees. Though they were a minority in the Sanhedrin and held a minority number of positions as priests, they seemed to control the decision making of the Sanhedrin far more than the Sadducees did, again because they had the support of the people.

Religiously, they accepted the written Word as inspired by God. At the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, this would have been what is now our Old Testament. But they also gave equal authority to oral tradition and attempted to defend this position by saying it went all the way back to Moses. Evolving over the centuries, these traditions added to God’s Word, which is forbidden (Deuteronomy 4:2), and the Pharisees sought to strictly obey these traditions along with the Old Testament. The Gospels abound with examples of the Pharisees treating these traditions as equal to God’s Word (Matthew 9:14; 15:1-9; 23:5; 23:16, 23, Mark 7:1-23; Luke 11:42). However, they did remain true to God’s Word in reference to certain other important doctrines. In contrast to the Sadducees, they believed the following:

1. They believed that God controlled all things, yet decisions made by individuals also contributed to the course of a person’s life.

2. They believed in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6).

3. They believed in an afterlife, with appropriate reward and punishment on an individual basis.

4. They believed in the existence of angels and demons (Acts 23:8).

Though the Pharisees were rivals of the Sadducees, they managed to set aside their differences on one occasion—the trial of Christ. It was at this point that the Sadducees and Pharisees united to put Christ to death (Mark 14:53; 15:1; John 11:48-50).

While the Sadducees ceased to exist after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Pharisees, who were more concerned with religion than politics, continued to exist. In fact, the Pharisees were against the rebellion that brought on Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70, and they were the first to make peace with the Romans afterward. The Pharisees were also responsible for the compilation of the Mishnah, an important document with reference to the continuation of Judaism beyond the destruction of the temple.

Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees earned numerous rebukes from Jesus. Perhaps the best lesson we can learn from the Pharisees and Sadducees is to not be like them. Unlike the Sadducees, we are to believe everything the Bible says, including the miraculous and the afterlife. Unlike the Pharisees, we are not to treat traditions as having equal authority as Scripture, and we are not to allow our relationship with God to be reduced to a legalistic list of rules and rituals.

  First John 2:18 speaks of the Antichrist: “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” The specific term antichrist is used seven times in Scripture, twice here in 1 John 2:18 and also in 1 John 2:22; 4:3; and twice 2 John 7. So, what is this Antichrist that the apostle John refers to?

The meaning of the term antichrist is simply “against Christ.” As the apostle John records in First and Second John, an antichrist denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22), does not acknowledge Jesus (1 John 4:3), and denies that Jesus came in the flesh (2 John 1:7). There have been many “antichrists,” as 1 John 2:18 states. But there is also coming the Antichrist.

Most Bible prophecy/eschatology experts believe the Antichrist will be the ultimate embodiment of what it means to be against Christ. In the end times/last hour, a man will arise to oppose Christ and His followers more than anyone else in history. Likely claiming to be the true Messiah, the Antichrist will seek world domination and will attempt to destroy all followers of Jesus Christ and the nation of Israel.

Other biblical references to the Antichrist include the following:

The imposing, boastful king of Daniel 7 who oppresses the Jews and tries to “change the set times and the laws” (verse 25).

The leader who establishes a 7-year covenant with Israel and then breaks it in Daniel 9.

The king who sets up the abomination of desolation in Mark 13:14 (cf. Daniel 9:27).

The man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12.

The rider on a white horse (representing his claim to be a man of peace) in Revelation 6:2.

The first beast—the one from the sea—in Revelation 13. This beast receives power from the dragon (Satan) and speaks “proud words and blasphemies” (verse 5) and wages war against the saints (verse 7).

Thankfully, the Antichrist/beast, along with his false prophet, will be thrown into the lake of fire, where they will spend all eternity in torment (Revelation 19:20; 20:10).

What is the Antichrist? In summary, the Antichrist is the end-times false messiah who seeks, and likely achieves, world domination so that he can destroy Israel and all followers of Jesus Christ.

In 1 Kings 3:16–28 we find an account of King Solomon hearing a case involving two prostitutes. The two women had both recently given birth to sons, and they lived together in the same home. During the night, one of the infants was smothered and died. The woman whose son had died switched her dead baby with the baby of the other woman as she slept. The other woman, seeking justice, took the matter before the king. She stated her case: “We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us. During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne” (verses 18–21).

Solomon could not tell from their words which woman was telling the truth. Instead, he issued a shocking command: “Bring me a sword. . . . Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other” (1 Kings 3:24–25). After he said this, the woman whose son was still alive said, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”; however, the other woman, whose son had died, answered, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” (verse 26). Based on their responses, Solomon knew the identity of the true mother: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother” (verse 27).

Why would Solomon give such an outrageous command? Did he really intend to cut a baby in half with a sword? The text is clear that Solomon’s intention was to discover the truth. He did so by watching the responses of the two women and relying on the maternal instincts of the true mother.

The chapter’s final verse notes the effect that Solomon’s unorthodox methods had on the kingdom: “When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice” (1 Kings 3:28). Solomon’s wisdom had been given by God when Solomon requested it (verse 5). The account of Solomon’s handling of the case of the two prostitutes showed that he had indeed been granted wisdom from God. In the following chapters, many more examples are given of the wisdom of King Solomon.

The Wisdom of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, is one of the books of the Apocrypha. The others in the group are 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books of the Apocrypha are accepted primarily by the Roman Catholic Church and are included in Catholic Bibles. The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books teach many things that are not true and are not historically accurate. The Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s A.D., primarily in response to the Protestant Reformation. None of the apocryphal books are included in the canon of Scripture.

The Wisdom of Solomon was believed by some to have been written by King Solomon, although his name appears nowhere in the text. However, the early church rejected the authorship of Solomon because an ancient manuscript fragment known as the Muratorian fragment refers to the Wisdom of Solomon as having been written by “the friends of Solomon in his honour.” It is widely accepted today, even by the Catholic Church, that Solomon did not write the book, which dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC, many centuries after the death of Solomon.

While Solomon wrote much on the subject of wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, he never elevated it to the status of part of the Godhead, a philosophy found in The Wisdom of Solomon. The book refers to Wisdom in terms the Bible reserves only for the Messiah, saying “she [wisdom] is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (Wisdom 7:26). The book of Hebrews reserves such accolades only for the Son of God, who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Even more egregious, Wisdom 9:18 says that salvation is an act of wisdom, whereas Scripture is clear that salvation is by faith, a gift of God to those whom He calls, justifies and sanctifies (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 8:30). In fact, if man were to depend upon his “wisdom” for salvation, we would be lost forever with no hope because the unredeemed are dead in trepasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-4) and their minds are darkened (Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14) and their heart deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

The apocryphal books are accepted by the Roman Catholic Church because many of them teach RCC doctrines which are not in agreement with the Bible, including praying for the dead, petitioning Mary to intercede with the Father, worshiping angels, and alms-giving as atonement for sins. Some of what the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals say is true and correct. However, due to the historical and theological errors, the books must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, not as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

Image      When seeking what we can learn from the thief on the cross, it should be remembered that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, two thieves were crucified beside Him (Luke 23:33-43), and both began their time on the cross by mocking and blaspheming Him, as did many of the spectators. One of the thieves responded to the message of salvation and was taken to paradise that very day. He is the one usually referred to as the thief on the cross, while the other man did not respond and is now suffering from a deadly and eternal mistake.

It is remarkable that, while in the excruciating and mind-numbing torment of the cross, the Son of Man had the heart, mind and will to pray for others. Yet it is a miracle that one thief, while in agony himself, heard the Spirit of God call him to repentance and acceptance of the forgiveness God was just about to provide through the death of Christ. While the disciples were abandoning the Lord, this man answered the call and his sins were forgiven, including his blasphemy against the Son of God (Luke 5:31-32, 12:8-10).

That the other thief rejected Jesus is remarkable in its own right. While being tortured on the cross he literally joined his torturers in insulting the Savior of the world, and he most likely did so because he wanted his torturers to think he was just like them, joined to the world and with no love for God (Matthew 27:44). Not only was this man next to the Savior, he heard Him pray, he witnessed the salvation of the other thief, he saw the world go dark, and he heard the testimony of the Son. But his pride kept him from submitting to the only One who could save him, and when he one day bows to the Name he mocked, he will be doing so reluctantly and while in torment (Philippians 2:10).

What we learn from the saved thief on the cross is that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and no matter the number of our sins and no matter if we, or the world, think our sins are minor or extreme, it is never too late to repent and accept the free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelation 22:17). Moreover, as long as someone still has a mind and the will to chose life over death (Hebrews 9:27), it is never too late to proclaim the gospel, which hopefully will open a heart to a miracle by the Holy Spirit.