John Chapters 10 to 12, Part 5
by Karl Kemp
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We continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12 here in Part 5, starting with John 11:33.
(33) When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit [[I assume that Jesus' being "deeply moved in spirit" included a compassionate response to the weeping of Mary and the Jews who had come with her, and especially the weeping of Mary in that He had a very special love relationship with her (see under verse 5). Verse 35 informs us that Jesus wept too. His being deeply moved in spirit surely involved His love for Lazarus, and Martha too (cf. verses 3, 5, and 36). The same Greek verb ("embrimaomai") translated "He was deeply moved [in spirit]" here is also used in verse 38, where it is translated "[Jesus, again] being deeply moved [within]." This Greek verb apparently includes another component here in verse 33 and in verse 38 (another component besides His compassionate, sympathetic response); it apparently includes Jesus' being "deeply moved" against the enemy death (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 15:25, 26), which is a close companion with sin and Satan. ((I had a four-paragraph footnote: The BAGD Greek Lexicon has three headings under the verb embrimaomai: 1. insist on something sternly, warn sternly Mark 1:43...Matt. 9:30. 2. As an expression of anger and displeasure...scold, censure...Mark 14:5.... 3. to feel strongly about something, be deeply moved [in Himself] John 11:38; ...[in the spirit] verse 33.... ...."
Many commentators insist that the idea here (based on the meaning of this verb) is an expression of indignation or anger. This verb is used at the end of Mark 14:5 of some people's (cf. John 12:4-6) indignation against the woman who "wasted" the perfume on Jesus a few days before His crucifixion. I'll quote several sentences from what William Hendricksen says under John 11:33, 34 ("Gospel of John" [Baker, 1953], pages 154, 155). Hendricksen includes (rightly I believe) the ideas of indignation and of sympathy. He speaks of Christ's indignation against sin and the suffering, grief, and sorrow that it causes. It seems to me that any indignation against sin would be in the background here, with at least most of the indignation being directed against death, though it is certainly true that physical death came with sin and that sin is the primary problem that mankind must face throughout this age. Then he says, "The intense emotion which surged in the heart of the Lord comprised at least one other element besides indignation. ... The entire setting clearly indicates that it also included sympathy. In fact the immediate context does not even mention sin. It speaks only about the weeping of Mary and of the Jews, and we are given the impression that it was this weeping which led to his weeping (cf. 11:33, 34 with 11:35). The context, therefore, is one of sympathy rather than one of anger. Also [the following verb, translated "was troubled"]...suggests inward disturbance...rather than purely indignation. ... It would seem, therefore, that the translation 'was deeply moved in the spirit' is the best. Thus rendered, the verb is sufficiently comprehensive to include both indignation and sympathy. The intense upsurge of emotion was probably visible in Christ's look, tone of voice, and (perhaps especially) in his constant sighing. [I don't know about the sighing.] ...."
I'll quote a small part of what Herman Ridderbos says here ("Gospel According to John" [Eerdmans, 1997], page 402). "...the context as a whole makes clear that Jesus' anger is directed...against that which brought them [Mary and those accompanying her] to this outburst of grief, the death of Lazarus itself. While this is already the obvious implication of verse 34, it is even more evident in verse 38, where it is not the weeping people but the tomb that again evokes in Jesus this intense emotion of aversion and sorrow. ... ...Jesus' inner agitation is not limited to what in his confrontation with death, applies to himself, but also expresses itself in his solidarity with the grief of those who go once more to the tomb to weep over the loss of their dear brother and friend. He weeps with those who are weeping. ...."
I'll quote a small part of what Andreas J. Kostenberger says here ("John" [Baker, 2004], pages 339, 340). "A survey of the major commentators on this verse reveals a bewildering array of interpretations. Some say that Jesus was deeply moved but deny that he was angry.... But most insist that Jesus' emotions went beyond sorrow to actual indignation. The object of Jesus' anger is variously identified as death itself...or the realm of Satan represented by death...or the mourners unbelief...or combinations of all three.... ....")) The fact that this Greek verb is coupled with (followed by) the verb "was troubled" here in verse 33 fits well with including the idea that Jesus' being deeply moved in spirit includes His indignation against death. Anyway, it's very clear that He was strongly motivated to do something about (to undo) the death of Lazarus. He had been planning to raise Lazarus from the dead for many days now - He came to Bethany for that purpose. Verse 34 informs us that the next thing Jesus did was to ask where Lazarus was buried.]] and was troubled [cf. John 12:27; 13:21], (34) and said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.' (35) Jesus wept. [See under verse 33. Compare Luke 19:41. "These tears were the expression of love, love not only for Lazarus...but also for Mary, Martha and others (see on 11:33). They were tears of genuine sympathy (Heb. 4:15; cf. Rom. 12:15)" (William Hendricksen, "Gospel of John," page 155).] (36) So the Jews were saying, 'See how He loved him!' [When the Jews saw Jesus weep, they said, "See how He loved him [Lazarus]." On the love of Jesus for Lazarus, see verses 3, 5. See under verse 33.] (37) But some of them said, 'Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?' [He could have, of course, but He had greater plans.] (38) So ["Then" NKJV] Jesus, again being deeply moved within [[The word "again" here refers to the fact that this same verb, "being deeply moved [within/in spirit]" was used in verse 33. Apparently Jesus' "being deeply moved within" again was related here in verse 38 (at least to some significant extent) to His arrival at the tomb, which was associated with the enemy death.]], came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it [cf. Matt. 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 24:1, 2; and John 19:41; 20:1]. (39) Jesus said, 'Remove the stone [cf. John 20:1].' Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, 'Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days [cf. John 11:17].' (40) Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?' [[The Greek shows that the three uses of the pronoun "you" in this verse are singular, referring to Martha. John didn't mention in the preceding verses that Jesus had clearly told Martha that if she believed she would see the glory of God in the raising of Lazarus at that time, but He did mention (in verse 4) that Jesus had said that this sickness would not end in death, but for the glory of God, and (in verses 21-27) that He had spoken to her about Lazarus rising again, about His being the resurrection and the life for those who believe, etc. Also, Jesus may have spoken more words to Martha than those recorded in verses 21-27. ((I had a footnote: A. T. Robertson comments that "the report of the conversation [of Jesus with Martha in verses 21-27] is clearly abridged" ("Word Pictures in the New Testament," Vol. 5 [Broadman Press, 1932], page 205). We don't know for sure that it was reported to Martha and Mary what Jesus said in verse 4, but it is highly probable that the person(s) who brought word to Jesus (a word sent by the sisters) that Lazarus was sick (see verse 3) would have reported back to the sisters what Jesus said.)) The next verse shows that Martha did not try to stop those removing the stone.]] (41) So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes [cf. John 17:1], and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. [[Jesus had known that He, under God the Father, would raise Lazarus from the dead before He made the trip to Bethany (cf. John 11:4, 11-14). Here in verse 41 Jesus could have been thanking the Father in advance for raising Lazarus in answer to His prayer. (I had a footnote: I'll quote part of what A. T. Robertson says here, "Clearly Jesus had prayed to the Father concerning the raising of Lazarus. He has the answer before he acts. 'No pomp of incantation, no wrestling in prayer even; but simple words of thanksgiving, as if already Lazarus was restored' (Dods)" ("Word Pictures," Vol. 5, page 205).)) That is a very common viewpoint in the commentaries, but it is quite possible that God the Father had already brought Lazarus back to life when Jesus thanked Him. We don't know all the details. Jesus could have been thanking the Father here for hearing an unmentioned (non-public) prayer that He had just prayed. The Father could have just given Jesus a vision, for example, in which He saw Lazarus come forth from the tomb in response to His calling Him forth, or He could have seen in a vision that Lazarus had already been brought back to life.]] (42) I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people ["Literally, crowd" (margin of NASB)] standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.' [[It was important that the people (as many as possible) view this miracle in the proper light so that it would be a powerful sign that demonstrated that Jesus was who He claimed to be, that He was the Christ, the Son of God, sent from heaven, from God the Father, to save all who believe in Him. The people must know that Jesus worked this miracle in the will of God the Father and by His power; they must know that all of His words and works were of God the Father.
Jesus had said in verse 4 that this sickness would not end in death, BUT FOR THE GLORY OF GOD, SO THAT THE SON MAY BE GLORIFIED IN IT. It was necessary for the people to learn that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, so that they could be saved through faith in Him. Verse 45 shows that many Jews believed in Christ because of this spectacular miracle; also see John 11:47, 48; 12:9-11, 17-19.]] (43) When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth ["come out" NIV].' [[We could understand Jesus words in the fuller sense "Lazarus, arise/be raised from the dead and come forth from the tomb." ((I had a footnote: When Jesus raised the widow's son, He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!" (Luke 7:14), and when He raised Jairus' daughter He "took her by the hand and called, saying, 'Child, arise!" (Luke 8:54; cf. Mark 5:41). Unlike Lazarus, who had been dead and in the tomb for four days (John 11:17, 39), neither the young man nor Jairus' daughter had been dead long enough to be buried (they were taking the young man to bury him when Jesus met them).)) John 5:19-30 are an important cross-reference. I'll quote the most relevant words of John 5:28, 29, "an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth...." ((I had a footnote: The Greek verb translated "will come forth" in John 5:29 is "ekporeuomai." John 11:43 has the adverb "deuro," which is sometimes translated come! John 11:43 has "deuro" followed by the adverb "ekso," which means "out, outside, away." The Greek verb used in John 11:44 for "[Lazarus] come forth" is "ekserchomai.")) John 5:28, 29 prophesy of Jesus' voice raising all the dead (a resurrection of the body) at the end of this age. Other verses show that the believers and unbelievers will not be raised at the same time. The unbelievers will not be raised until the end of the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:5, 11-15). We are not informed what words Christ will say to the believers in John 5:28, but His words will cause the resurrection of their bodies and they will come forth from the tombs." His "loud voice" raising Lazarus prefigures His authoritative voice raising the dead at the end of this age (cf. 1 Thess. 4:16).
There is a big difference, however, between the resurrection of Lazarus and the resurrection of the believers (including Lazarus) at the end of the age. Lazarus was raised with his mortal body to die again. At the end of this age, all believers who will have died before that time will be raised with glorified bodies, never to die again. Many believers of the last generation never will die; they will be glorified when Jesus returns at the sounding of the last trumpet without passing through death (cf. 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 1 Thess. 4:17; and Rev. 11:15).
I'll quote Jesus' words of John 5:25 too, "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." In John 5:25 Jesus was speaking of those who are spiritually dead hearing His voice and receiving eternal/spiritual life now (throughout this age), starting with the new birth/the birth from heaven (see John 5:24). They will hear His voice in the gospel of new-covenant salvation in repentance and faith and will be born again/born from heaven. See under John 11:25, 26.]] (44) The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings [cf. John 19:40], and his face was wrapped around with a cloth [cf. John 20:7]. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.' (45) Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary [cf. John 11:19, 31, 33], and saw what He had done, believed in Him. [[The Gospel of John makes it very clear that true believers/disciples/Christians must go beyond believing because they saw signs (cf., e.g., John 2:23-25; 8:31-36). It's OK to start with signs, but it isn't OK for us to wait for signs in our day before we investigate the gospel, and our faith must ultimately be grounded in God and His Word, not signs.]] (46) But some of them [some of the Jews who had seen what Jesus had done] went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done. [These Jews would have understood (at least most of them would have understood) that most of the Pharisees (but not just the Pharisees; many of the other members of the Sanhedrin were Sadducees) were strong opponents of Jesus (cf., e.g., John 7:32, 45-52; 9:13-10:39; and 11:47-57).] (47) Therefore the chief priests [I had a footnote: On the "chief priests," see the footnote under John 7:32 in my paper on John chapters 5-8, and see below, still under this verse (John 11:47).] and the Pharisees [Compare John 7:32, 45 (The two verses just cited are the only verses where the "chief priests" were mentioned earlier in the Gospel of John); 11:57.] convened a council [["called a meeting of the Sanhedrin" NIV; cf. Matt. 5:22; 26:3-5. I'll quote a paragraph from what F. F. Bruce says here ("Gospel of John" [Eerdmans, 1983], pages 249, 250). "The Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jewish nation, comprised seventy-one members, including the high priest, who presided over it by virtue of his office. The chief priests (the high priest, the captain of the temple and the members of the leading priestly families), together with the party of the Sadducees, to which most of them belonged, formed a majority of the court; the Pharisees constituted an influential minority."
I'll quote part of what Donald A. Carson says here ("Gospel According to John," page 420). "The highest judicial body in the land was the Sanhedrin, which under Roman authority controlled all Jewish internal affairs. It was simultaneously a judiciary, and legislative body, and, through the high priest, an executive.... In Jesus' day the (seventy?) members of the Sanhedrin were dominated by the chief priests, i.e. priests drawn from the extended family of the high priest, who presided over it (as the seventy-first member?). Virtually all the priests were Sadducees. The Pharisees constituted an influential minority; most of them were scribes. The rest of the members were elders, landed aristocrats of mixed (or few) theological views. ...."
Leon Morris expresses the viewpoint (and quite a few commentators agree with him) that "apparently an informal meeting is meant, and not the official Sanhedrin." The fact that Caiaphas, the high priest, doesn't seem to have been officially presiding over this council (cf. verses 47-53) fits that viewpoint.]], and were saying, 'What are we doing? [cf. John 12:17-19] For this man is performing many signs [cf. John 2:1, 23; 3:2; 4:54; 6:2, 14, 26; 6:30; 7:31; 9:16; 12:18, 37; and 20:30, 31]. [[One major problem was that these "chief priests and the Pharisees" wouldn't accept the fact that these were true signs of God, signs that pointed to the fact that Jesus Christ was the Christ, the Son of God. They denied that He was the Christ, the Son of God (cf., e.g., John 5:16-18; 7:1, 32, 47-52; 8:59; 9:9:22, 24; 10:31; and 11:53, 57). I'll quote part of what Leon Morris says here ("Gospel According to John," page 565). "It has always been the case that those whose minds are made up to oppose what Christ stands for will not be convinced by any amount of evidence. In this spirit these men recognize that the miracles have taken place, but find in this a reason for more wholehearted opposition, not for faith. In their hardness of heart they continue on their own chosen line and refuse to consider the evidence before their eyes."]] (48) If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place ["Our place" apparently refers to the temple (cf. Acts 6:13, 14; 28:27, 28).] and our nation.' [[The "chief priests and Pharisees" voiced the viewpoint that if large numbers of the Jews were to become followers of Jesus the Romans would consider it rebellion against Caesar and Rome and would come with their armies and take away their place and their nation. ((I had a footnote: Several thousand zealous Jews who took matters into their hands (in the flesh) and proclaimed Jesus King (cf. John 6:15) could probably have started a rebellion sufficient to cause the Romans to powerfully react, but that wasn't part of God's plan, and it didn't happen that way. At a minimum the Romans could have taken away the considerable rights that the Jews enjoyed, which included their being permitted to worship in the temple and to be governed (to some extent) by the high priest and Jewish Sanhedrin. " 'Take away our nation'...refers to the feared removal of the Jews' semiautonomous status by the Romans" (Andreas J. Kostenberger, "John," page 350). In a worst-case scenario, the Romans would totally destroy the nation, including destroying the temple and Jerusalem and killing a large number of Jews and exiling the rest of them. The members of the Sanhedrin realized that they were the ones who would have to answer to Rome first and that they had the most to lose, including their positions of authority and influence.)) What the Jews cried out before Pilate when he wanted to release Jesus is relevant here, "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar" (John 19:12; cf. John 18:33-37). As John 18:36, for example, shows, their viewpoint was invalid since Jesus' kingdom was not of this world (cf., e.g., Matt. 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 6:15; 20:19-26; Rom. 13:1-7; and 1 Tim 2:1-4); He didn't stir up rebellion against Rome.
When the Roman armies finally did come to destroy Jerusalem (including the temple) and most of the nation, they came because of the rebellion of the Jews against Rome that started in AD 66 (Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in AD 70, some forty years after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead), not because of Christians rebelling. More importantly, the New Testament shows that the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, etc. came as judgment that resulted from Israel's lack of repentance and rejection of Christ and the gospel (cf., e.g., Matt. 21:33-46; 22:1-14, especially verse 7; 23:37-24:2; and Luke 21:20-24).]] (49) But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year [cf. Matt. 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 14, 24, 28; and Acts 4:6; Caiaphas was high priest from AD 18-36; "that year" was a very special year, the year that the Lamb of God was crucified and resurrected, etc. (cf. John 11:51; 18:13)], said to them, 'You know nothing at all [Caiphas' words here in verse 49 were meant to emphatically state the fact that Jesus must be killed, period: There was no room for further questions and hesitation. " 'Ye know nothing at all' shows a rudeness which is alleged to have been typical of the Sadducees" (Leon Morris, "Gospel According to John," pages 566, 567)], (50) nor do you take into account that it is expedient ["it is better" NKJV] for you [This "you" is plural in the Greek, referring to the Jewish leaders of the nation, the members of the Sanhedrin.] that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.' [[See John 18:14. Caiaphas meant these words in the sense that it was necessary (politically expedient) for them to kill Jesus so that Israel would not perish at the hands of the Romans (see verses 47, 48). Many of the Jewish leaders had long before determined that they must kill Jesus (cf. John 5:18; 7:1; 8:40, 44, 59; 10:31), but the primary reasons they gave for killing Him before were religious, especially His supposed sin of blasphemy for making Himself out to be God (cf. John 5:18; 10:33). Caiaphas was not denying those religious charges against Jesus, but he spoke here of the supposed need to kill Him because He was becoming so popular that it would lead to big trouble with the Romans (see under verses 47, 48).
Caiaphas was making the same mistake that the leaders of Israel had often made throughout the history of the people. His reasoning was political AND LEFT GOD OUT OF THE EQUATION. The only really important question for the Jewish leaders (and all the Jews and all the Gentiles) was whether Jesus was God's promised Messiah/Christ, or not. If He was who He claimed to be, and He was (which He proved, by His works, by His resurrection, etc.), they must submit to Him and trust God to deal with the Romans. Their primary problem was (as Jesus frequently pointed out) that they did not really know God the Father, or love Him, or believe His Word, and they were not about to repent and submit to Him from their hearts.]] (51) Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, (52) and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. [[John's point here in verses 51, 52 was that the words of the high priest (Caiaphas) of verses 49, 50, can also be understood in a higher, prophetic sense of the divine necessity for Jesus, the Lamb of God, to die (to die His atoning death) so that Israel could be saved, referring to elect of Israel, who would be saved through new-covenant salvation in Christ Jesus. And verse 52 shows that He didn't die for the Jews only, but also for the Gentiles (cf., e.g., John 10:16), that many Jews and Gentiles (all the elect) would be saved and not perish (cf. John 11:50; 3:16; and 10:28) through faith in Christ Jesus. (I had a footnote: The words "the children of God who are scattered abroad" could include the Jews who did not live in Israel.)]] (53) So from that day on they planned together to kill Him. [[As I pointed out, the leaders of Israel had determined a long time before this to kill Jesus. They would have killed Him earlier except for the overriding consideration that the Father's time for Him to be killed had not yet come, and He did not permit it. Furthermore, it was necessary for Him to be crucified, not stoned, etc. Anyway, there can be no doubting the fact that from that day on it had been determined by the Jewish leaders at the highest level that it was a high priority item for them to kill Jesus, and as soon as possible.
The next time Jesus would come to Jerusalem would be for the Feast of Passover. (Passover wasn't far off; see verse 55. John 10:22 brought us to the Feast of the Dedication, which typically falls in our December. After that Jesus had gone to the place where John the Baptist was first baptizing (John 10:40-42), where He stayed until He went to raise Lazarus from the dead. Then, as John 11:54 shows, Jesus went to a city near the wilderness called Ephraim. Passover came in the Jewish month that corresponds with our March/April). The Jewish leaders would then succeed in killing Jesus, because it was the Father's plan that the Lamb of God be slain on that Passover, on the very day when the lambs were being slain in the temple for Passover (cf. John 18:28; 19:14).]] (54) Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim ["...Ephraim, a village north of Jerusalem. Ephraim has been identified with Et Taiyibeh, a few miles northeast of Bethel. ... The town was on the edge of the Judean desert, into which Jesus could flee if necessary" (Merrill C. Tenney, "Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 9 [Zondervan, 1981], page 122).]; and there He stayed with the disciples. [Compare John 4:1-3; 7:1; and 10:39, 40.] (55) Now the Passover of the Jews was near [in the Jewish month that comes at the time of our March/April], and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. [[I'll quote part of what F. F. Bruce says here ("Gospel of John," pages 252, 253). "If the first of the three Passovers [the three Passovers mentioned in the Gospel of John (see John 2:13, 23; 6:4; see under John 2:13 in my paper on John 1:19-4:54)] fell in AD 28, 'forty-six years' after Herod began the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple (John 2:20) [in 20/19 BC], this third Passover would be that of AD 30. [It seems most likely that Jesus was crucified in AD 30; some say AD 33. See under John 12:2.] ... The necessity of ceremonial purification (e.g. after contact with a corpse) before keeping the Passover is laid down in Num. 9:6ff. Josephus confirms that pilgrims came up about a week before Passover and indicates that they spent the days in Jerusalem before the feast undergoing the appropriate purificatory rites."
I'll also quote part of what Donald A. Carson says here ("Gospel According to John," page 424). "More likely...the one [Passover] mentioned here (11:55) is the third and last for the period of Jesus' ministry, which therefore establishes that his public ministry ran a little over two years. [Many believe that there was another Passover not specifically mentioned in the Gospel of John, and that the period of Jesus' ministry lasted more than three years.] If the first Passover was in AD 28, forty-six years after the date Herod the Great began the rebuilding of the temple (2:20), the year of Jesus' death and resurrection is AD 30. ... The need for ceremonial purification before Passover is stipulated in Num. 9:6ff. for those who had contracted ceremonial defilement of some sort (e.g. by touching a corpse), and was still operative in Jesus' day (cf. Schlatter, pp. 261-262). ...."
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12 in Part 6, continuing the discussion under John 11:55.
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