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Was Jesus’ Death on the Cross Faked?

by Lee Strobel

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Investigating Faith with Lee Strobel: Find Answers to Tough Questions About the Bible]

The plush setting was starkly incongruous with the subject I was discussing with Alexander Metherell, MD, PhD. There we were, sitting in the living room of his comfortable California home on a balmy spring evening, warm ocean breezes whispering through the windows, while we were talking about a topic of unimaginable brutality: a beating so barbarous that it shocks the conscience, and a form of capital punishment so depraved that it stands as wretched testimony to man’s inhumanity to man.

I had sought out Metherell because I heard he possessed the medical and scientific credentials to explain the crucifixion. But I also had another motivation: I had been told he could discuss the topic dispassionately as well as accurately. That was important to me, because I wanted the facts to speak for themselves, without the hyperbole or charged language that might otherwise manipulate emotions.

As you would expect from someone with a medical degree (University of Miami in Florida) and a doctorate in engineering (University of Bristol in England), Metherell speaks with scientific precision. He is board certified in diagnosis by the American Board of Radiology and has been a consultant to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health of Bethesda, Maryland.

The Torture Before the Cross

Initially I wanted to elicit from Metherell a basic description of the events leading up to Jesus’ death. So after a time of social chat, I put down my iced tea and shifted in my chair to face him squarely. “Could you paint a picture of what happened to Jesus?” I asked.

He cleared his throat. “It began after the Last Supper,” he said. “Jesus went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives—specifically, to the Garden of Gethsemane. And there, if you remember, he prayed all night. Now, during that process he was anticipating the coming events of the next day. Since he knew the amount of suffering he was going to have to endure, he was quite naturally experiencing a great deal of psychological stress.”

I raised my hand to stop him. “Whoa—here’s where skeptics have a field day,” I told him. “The Gospels tell us he began to sweat blood at this point. Now, c’mon, isn’t that just a product of some overactive imaginations? Doesn’t that call into question the accuracy of the Gospel writers?”

Unfazed, Metherell shook his head. “Not at all,” he replied. “This is a known medical condition called hematidrosis. It’s not very common, but it is associated with a high degree of psychological stress.

“What happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands. As a result, there’s a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. We’re not talking about a lot of blood; it’s just a very, very small amount.”

Though a bit chastened, I pressed on. “Did this have any other effect on the body?”

“What this did was set up the skin to be extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier the next day, his skin would be very, very sensitive.”

“Tell me,” I said, “what was the flogging like?”

Metherell’s eyes never left me. “Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. They usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows.

“The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely.

“The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was just terrible.”

Metherell paused. “Go on,” I said.

“One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, ‘As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.’ A third-century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, ‘The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.’

“We know that many people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified. At the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock.”

“Do you see evidence of this in the Gospel accounts?”

“Yes, most definitely,” he replied. “Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he staggered up the road to the execution site at Calvary, carrying the horizontal beam of the cross. Finally Jesus collapsed, and the Roman soldier ordered Simon to carry the cross for him. Later we read that Jesus said, ‘I thirst,’ at which point a sip of vinegar was offered to him.

“Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there’s no question that Jesus was already in serious-to-critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet.”

The Agony of the Cross

As distasteful as the description of the flogging was, I knew that even more repugnant testimony was yet to come. That’s because historians are unanimous that Jesus survived the beating that day and went on to the cross—which is where the real issue lies.

“What happened when he arrived at the site of the crucifixion?” I asked.

“He would have been laid down, and his hands would have been nailed in the outstretched position to the horizontal beam. This crossbar was called the patibulum, and at this stage it was separate from the vertical beam, which was permanently set in the ground.”

“The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They were driven through the wrists,” Metherell said, pointing about an inch or so below his left palm.

“Hold it,” I interrupted. “I thought the nails pierced his palms. That’s what all the paintings show. In fact, it’s become a standard symbol representing the crucifixion.”

“Through the wrists,” Metherell repeated. “This was a solid position that would lock the hand; if the nails had been driven through the palms, his weight would have caused the skin to tear and he would have fallen off the cross. So the nails went through the wrists, although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day.

“The pain was absolutely unbearable,” he continued. “In fact, it was literally beyond words to describe; they had to invent a new word: excruciating. Literally, excruciating means ‘out of the cross.’ Think of that: They needed to create a new word, because there was nothing in the language that could describe the intense anguish caused during the crucifixion.

“At this point Jesus was hoisted as the crossbar was attached to the vertical stake, and then nails were driven through Jesus’ feet. Again, the nerves in his feet would have been crushed, and there would have been a similar type of pain.”

Crushed and severed nerves were certainly bad enough, but I needed to know about the effect that hanging from the cross would have had on Jesus. “What stresses would this have put on his body?”

Metherell answered, “First of all, his arms would have immediately been stretched, probably about six inches in length, and both shoulders would have become dislocated—you can determine this with simple mathematical equations.

“This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Psalm 22, which foretold the crucifixion hundreds of years before it took place and says, ‘My bones are out of joint.’”

The Cause of Death

Metherell had made his point—graphically—about the pain endured as the crucifixion process began. But I needed to get to what finally claims the life of a crucifixion victim, because that’s the pivotal issue in determining whether death can be faked or eluded. So I put the cause-of-death question directly to Metherell.

“Once a person is hanging in the vertical position,” he replied, “crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation.

“The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones.

“After managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again he’d have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up and breathe anymore.

“As the person slows down his breathing, he goes into what is called respiratory acidosis—the carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved as carbonic acid, causing the acidity of the blood to increase. This eventually leads to an irregular heartbeat. In fact, with his heart beating erratically, Jesus would have known that he was at the moment of death, which is when he was able to say, ‘Lord, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ And then he died of cardiac arrest.”

“Even before he died—and this is important, too—the hypovolemic shock would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called a pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion.”

“Why is that significant?”

“Because of what happened when the Roman soldier came around and, being fairly certain that Jesus was dead, confirmed it by thrusting a spear into his right side. It was probably his right side; that’s not certain, but from the description it was probably the right side, between the ribs.

“The spear apparently went through the right lung and into the heart, so when the spear was pulled out, some fluid—the pericardial effusion and the pleural effusion—came out. This would have the appearance of a clear fluid, like water, followed by a large volume of blood, as the eyewitness John described in his gospel.”

I pulled out my Bible and flipped to John 19:34. “Wait a minute, Doc,” I protested. “When you carefully read what John said, he saw ‘blood and water’ come out; he intentionally put the words in that order. But according to you, the clear fluid would have come out first. So there’s a significant discrepancy here.”

Metherell smiled slightly. “I’m not a Greek scholar,” he replied, “but according to people who are, the order of words in ancient Greek was determined not necessarily by sequence but by prominence. This means that since there was a lot more blood than water, it would have made sense for John to mention the blood first.”

I conceded the point but made a mental note to confirm it myself later. “At this juncture,” I said, “what would Jesus’ condition have been?”

Metherell’s gaze locked with mine. He replied with authority, “There was absolutely no doubt that Jesus was dead.”

“Is there any possible way—any possible way—that Jesus could have survived this?”

Metherell shook his head and pointed his finger at me for emphasis. “Absolutely not,” he said. “Remember that he was already in hypovolemic shock from the massive blood loss even before the crucifixion started. He couldn’t possibly have faked his death, because you can’t fake the inability to breathe for long. Besides, the spear thrust into his heart would have settled the issue once and for all. And the Romans weren’t about to risk their own death by allowing him to walk away alive.”

“So,” I said, “when someone suggests to you that Jesus merely swooned on the cross . . .”

“I tell them it’s impossible. It’s a fanciful theory without any possible basis in fact.”

Again,” he stressed, becoming a bit more animated, “there’s just no way he could have survived the cross.”


Taken from The Case for Christ Movie Edition by Lee Strobel. Click here to learn more about this title.

Lee Strobel uses his experience as a Chicago Tribune reporter to interview experts about the evidence for Christ from the fields of science, philosophy, and history. Strobel’s award-winning story is now featured in the major motion picture film, The Case for Christ, in theaters April 7. (Note: if you plan to see the film, it’s important to see it the first weekend as sufficient attendance will open up more theaters for Easter weekend.)

The movie edition includes updated material on archaeological and manuscript discoveries, fresh recommendations for further study, and an interview with the author that tells dramatic stories about the book’s impact and responds to critiques of the book by skeptics.

Lee Strobel was the award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and is the bestselling author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. With a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale, Lee has won four Gold Medallions for publishing excellence and coauthored the Christian Book of the Year. He serves as Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University. His story is now featured in the motion picture The Case for Christ. Visit Lee’s website at:

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Feasting on the Scriptures: Tune in Thursday for a Live Discussion About the Challenges and Benefits of Bible Reading

Update: This video discussion is complete, and you can watch it on Bible Gateway’s Facebook page! Follow us on Facebook so you’ll be notified about the next episode in this series.

Do you believe that Bible reading is important? Do you wish you spend more time in the Bible, but struggle to find time to read and understand it? Join us this Thursday for a live discussion with the Institute for Bible Reading (IFBR) as we explore the topic Feasting on the Scriptures!

Thursday’s discussion is the first in a series of live discussions about the challenges and benefits of regular Bible reading. If you want to read the Bible more but have trouble connecting with Scripture, this discussion is for you!

We’ll host the discussion on our Facebook page this Thursday, March 30, at 11AM EDT. To make sure you don’t miss it, visit Bible Gateway’s Facebook page, then “Like” and “Follow” us. Make sure that underneath the Following tab, Notifications are checked “On.” That way you’ll be notified when we begin our broadcast on Thursday.

We love the work the IFBR is doing to encourage Bible reading and understanding, and we’re excited to talk with them about this important topic. Please join us on Thursday for the first installment of Feasting on the Scriptures!

4 Ways to Fight Bible Illiteracy

John D. BarryThis guest Bible Gateway Blog post is by John D. Barry (@JohnDBarry), general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word]

Bible illiteracy is on the rise, especially in the United States. We desperately need the transformative work of God in our hearts. Here’s why we’re failing to engage people with the Bible and what we can do about it.

Buy your copy of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

1. The Real Problem Behind Bible Illiteracy

People are curious about the Bible—blockbuster films about the Bible and TV specials demonstrate this to be the case. Yet, engagement with the Bible itself is lacking; statistically, this has been proven to be the case.1 It’s ironic and disheartening but there’s hope.

If people are curious about the Bible, but lacking enough interest to read it and understand it, then perhaps the problem is with us who know the good book well. Maybe we need to do better.

2. We Need to Offer Guidance and Have Passion

If the Bible is as transformative as we claim it is, it should ignite an unquenchable passion in us. We must then take this passion and use it as a catalyst to tell others about the God we love and his book.

But we all know that passion is not enough. The Bible is often overwhelming and perplexing—interpreting the Bible is a messy and complicated business. The central message of the Bible is clear: God loves you and Jesus died for your sins so you can have relationship with him (John 3:16–17). Yet, what about those complicated passages that hard to understand?

We all have questions when we reach these passages—even those of us who specialize in the profession of Bible study. Imagine someone new to the Bible encountering the difficult passages.

We need guidance that’s interesting and compelling. I believe this comes in church community, but we also need study Bibles and Bible study tools.

3. We Need to Honestly Answer the Difficult Questions

Often all that stands between a person and faith is a question. But often we don’t approach matters of theology from the standpoint of helping someone explore their questions. Instead, we try to give them the common answer as quickly as possible.

The exploration stage of faith, even for those who are already committed to Jesus, is critical. An unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates supposedly remarked.

Everyone knows there are multiple viewpoints on the Bible. And people are searching for answers to their difficult questions. We need to help them fairly engage issues of interpretation—presenting options and letting them decide for themselves. If we believe truth is really that, truth, then we must not be afraid of any questions people might have. We must trust the Creator of all truth to lead.

How we got the Bible was a long process. How to interpret a given passage is often open for debate. There are faithful Christians who widely differ on their interpretations of major issues, such as the end times. So why not help people engage with the difficulties? Feeding our curiosity for the Bible will draw us closer to its ultimate Author.

4. We Need to Express Our Beliefs

Expressing our beliefs in the God we love and serve is a great testimony to Jesus. People can see a life transformed. And there are few who can resist wanting the same for their own life.

We must put in a good word for Jesus, as my pastor so often remarks. And we must love people fully and compassionately. Our love is the way they’ll know we’re Christians (1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13). This love is seen in a faithful and fair answer. This love is seen in walking alongside someone in his or her Bible study. This love is seen in our passion for Christ. This is how we fight Bible illiteracy.

1 See my articles, “Evangelicals Want Moral Government but Are Ignorant of the Bible” (November 5, 2012;, now and “How Western Christianity Lost Its Luster and a Solution” (July–Aug 2013; Bible Study Magazine, pg. 2). Compare the “State of the Bible 2016” by Barna Group and American Bible Society.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 4 Ways Examining Multiple Views Will Transform Your Bible Study]

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 6 Steps to Take Your Bible Study from Dull to Incredible]

John D. Barry is general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible and the CEO of Jesus’ Economy, an innovative non-profit creating jobs and churches in the developing world. At, people create jobs for the impoverished by shopping fair trade. They can also give directly to a cause they’re passionate about, such as creating jobs, planting churches, or meeting basic needs. 100% goes to the developing world. Anyone can join the movement at

The NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) is filled with innovative graphics, rich commentary, and insights from multiple points of view—all designed to inform readers’ faith and to engage their curiosity, no matter where they are on their faith journey. To learn more, visit

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Quiet Time for Your Soul: An Interview with Sheila Walsh

Sheila WalshStep away from the noise and into the arms of your loving Savior.

Bright screens, beeping notifications, a never-ending list of activities and to-dos. Is it any wonder we are weary? But Jesus says “come as you are” to find quiet waters and refresh your soul in the Scriptures.

In this Q&A, Sheila Walsh (@SheilaWalsh) talks about her new book that she wrote with Sherri Gragg in the 5 Minutes with Jesus series, Quiet Time for Your Soul (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 5 Minutes with Jesus]

Buy your copy of 5 Minutes with Jesus in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Why is spending daily time with Jesus a challenge for so many women—including yourself?

Sheila Walsh: Our lives are so hectic! Too often we collapse into bed only to realize we’ve hardly given any thought to God at all. That’s why I wanted to offer something “doable” with the 5 Minutes with Jesus series. Each day has a short devotion, a take away, and several verses of Scripture right there for you.

Buy your copy of Quiet Time for Your Soul in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

You created the 5 Minutes with Jesus devotional series to help women carve out time daily to be with Jesus. Is five minutes really enough?

Sheila Walsh: It’s my hope this series will create a hunger in the hearts of women for more, but even a few minutes in the presence of God can be powerful! During some of the most difficult times of my life, God used short simple verses of Scripture to strengthen and sustain me. I know those five minutes with God can make a huge difference in a woman’s day.
Buy your copy of Peace for Today in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

The latest 5 Minutes with Jesus volume is Quiet Time for Your Soul. This title sounds inviting—do you find that quiet is missing from the lives of women in the 21st century?

Sheila Walsh: Yes! Our plugged-in world never stops for a second. Even at night our mobile phones beep and buzz. I believe we’re exhausted from it all. Our hearts are aching to hear from God, and his still small voice often speaks in the silence.

Buy your copy of A Fresh Infusion of Joy in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

When we quiet our souls and spend time in Scripture, we connect to things that are true—including the fact that we’re loved by God. How does sitting quietly in God’s love impact the rest of one’s day?

Sheila Walsh: The way we launch our day is powerful because it tunes our hearts for all that follows. That’s why it was so important to me that each devotion remind the reader of four truths:

  1. God wants you to rest in his peace.
  2. He is for you, not against you.
  3. There is no greater power on earth than his forgiveness.
  4. Your history does not dictate your destiny.

Just a few minutes resting in these powerful truths can transform your whole day.

How do you use small blocks of time to strengthen your walk with the Lord?

Sheila Walsh: Some time ago I began a new habit. In the morning, before I even let my feet hit the floor, I pray Psalm 143:8 to the Lord, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for unto you I entrust my life.” Then I follow the verse with a simple prayer to begin my day. It’s become a wonderful way to set my mind and heart on God for the entire day. Making time for even a few minutes with Jesus makes a difference!

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Helping Kids Love the Bible: An Interview with Sheila Walsh]

Bio: Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than 5 million books sold. She’s the author of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess series, God Loves Broken People, The Shelter of God’s Promises, and novel, Sweet Sanctuary. Sheila lives near Dallas, Texas with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian.

Sherri Gragg fell in love with stories as a child, discovering that she could travel to any place and any moment in time between the covers of a book. Today as a writer she takes her readers with her on the journey. Her first book, Arms Open Wide: A Call to Linger in the Savior’s Presence, utilizes cultural background and archeology to immerse the reader in some of the most riveting moments of the Gospels. Sherri is a nationally published freelance writer and award winner in the 2012 Writer’s Digest Competition and lives with her husband and five children in Franklin, Tennessee.

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Africa Study Bible Launches Worldwide Celebratory Events Planned throughout Africa and in the United States

Buy your copy of the Africa Study Bible (NLT) in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

After a seven-year, cross-continental effort, Oasis International (@OasisIntLtd), in partnership with several major Christian organizations, is launching the Africa Study Bible (Tyndale House, 2017) (@africastudybibl): the first study Bible developed by Africans with over 2,600 notes written by 350 contributors from 50 countries. Oasis is working with local leaders throughout Africa and the United States to host dedication events. Leaders of some of the largest denominations in Africa as well as Christian government officials are expected to be in attendance.

[Read the New Living Translation (NLT) version of the Bible on Bible Gateway]

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“The Africa Study Bible (website) is a project that has almost unprecedented ability to positively influence the body of Christ in Africa, perhaps more than other single continental-wide project in the history of Christianity,” says Dr. Danny McCain, University of Jos, Nigeria.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Africa Study Bible: An Interview with Matthew Elliott]

[See the Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars Updated Edition (Zondervan, 2010) in the Bible Gateway Store]

Click to read the Gospel of John as a sample of the Africa Study Bible (pdf)

Events are scheduled for

  • Nairobi, Kenya—March 30
  • Accra, Ghana—April 3
  • Chicago, USA—April 10-12
  • Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa—June 4-11
  • Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria—June 29-July 1

The President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, has already recorded his video blessing the project, as churches prepare to display national Christian unity at the launch event preceding national elections.

“Africans are bringing the power of Scripture to their own people in a new and culturally relevant way,” says Dr. Matthew Elliott, president of Oasis. “Under the leadership of an 11-member editorial board of scholars from across Africa, we’ve brought together 350 writers and editors from 50 countries, representing 50 denominations. This is an unprecedented project that will impact the global church.”

To celebrate the launch in the United States, Oasis will host the African Voices Conference, in partnership with Tyndale House Publishers and Urban Ministries, Inc. (UMI), at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago. The conference opens Monday, April 10 with an evening of thanksgiving and dedication of the ASB, hosted by UMI at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Over the next two days, April 11-12, distinguished leaders and scholars from Africa will offer 30 lectures on topics ranging from missional theology to the roots of Christianity in Africa. The conference also includes an ASB-focused Moody chapel, a Moody faculty development forum, a luncheon with the African guest speakers, and a dinner with Dr. Paul Nyquist, president of Moody, Dr. Mark Taylor, chairman and CEO of Tyndale, and C. Jeff Wright, CEO of UMI. Special musical guest Aaron Shust will also be participating in the conference events.

“The event at Moody will be a wonderful opportunity for both students and guests to learn more about the tremendous ways that God is building his church in Africa,” says Elliott. “More Christians live in Africa than any other continent and by 2050 nearly 40 percent of the world’s Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa. Five of the ten countries with the largest number of Christians will be in Africa. The ASB highlights the growing impact of African leadership on the global church.”

With nearly every evangelical study Bible written from the viewpoint of the United States or the United Kingdom, Africans have lacked a resource that connects with their experience, hindering discipleship.

Designed to grow the faith of church members in Africa and teach them to apply a biblical worldview to their culture and society, the ASB uses the New Living Translation and includes over 2,600 features such as application notes, stories and proverbs, touchpoints that link Africa and the Bible, learn notes that explain basic values and theology, and major theme articles that apply the Bible to key issues. The ASB brings unique African perspectives to the global Church and allows Christians around to the world to better understand God’s Word through African Eyes. Tyndale House Publishers will release the ASB in English in the United States in early May and a freestanding app is available April 1 in iOS and Android. French and Portuguese translations are already in development.

Oasis partnered with Tyndale House Publishers and Tyndale House Foundation to create the Africa Study Bible. Other participants and supporters include Wycliffe, Willow Creek and Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students), Scripture Union, Center for Early African Christianity, PJA (Publications pour la Jeunesse Africane), SIM, UMI, Association of Evangelicals in Africa, and Moody Bible Institute.

The Amplified Bible Translation: Available for the First Time as a Full-Featured Study Edition

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Helps Readers Grasp the Full Meaning Behind the Original Hebrew and Greek Texts

The Amplified® Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@Zondervan) is intended for both beginning and experienced students of the Scriptures who want a Bible that contains the key features of a study Bible combined with the impressive study tools already included in the Amplified® Bible translation.

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The Amplified Bible translation was created to deliver enhanced understanding of the rich nuances and shades of meaning of the original Bible languages. For this kind of study, no working knowledge of Greek or Hebrew is required—just a desire to know more about what God says in his Word.

Amplification is indicated within the English text by parentheses, brackets, and italicized conjunctions. For example, the Greek word pisteuo, which the vast majority of versions render as “believe,” also includes the ideas of “to adhere to, cleave to; to trust; to have faith in; to rely on, to depend on” as in John 11:25-26: Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?”

Recently revised, the Amplified Bible translation is even easier to read and better than ever to study and understand. It includes more amplification in the Old Testament and refined amplification in the New Testament. The Bible text has been improved to read smoothly with or without amplifications, so that the text may be read either way.

The Amplified® Study Bible consists of the same study material that Amplified Bible readers love, with the addition of even clearer wording for deeper understanding.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (AMP) If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength; but wisdom [to sharpen the axe] helps him succeed [with less effort].
THE AMPLIFIED STUDY BIBLE NOTE: The wise person will sharpen the axe. A person of limited training will have to work harder, as though with a dull axe, than someone wiser whose tools are maintained.

Colossians 2:9 (AMP) For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God].
THE AMPLIFIED STUDY BIBLE NOTE: In this verse Paul clearly proclaims the incarnation, the fact that God became a man bodily. This contradicts the Gnostic idea of the inherent evil of physical bodies and the claim that Jesus is merely a spirit.

First-of-its kind, The Amplified Study Bible features additional study tools combined with the insights included alongside the Amplified Bible text.

Buy your copy of The Amplified® Study Bible Soft Leather-Look Purple  in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Features include:

  • A unique system of punctuation, italics, references, and synonyms to unlock subtle shades of
    meaning as found in the original languages
  • More than 5,000 concise study notes provide helpful, practical, application-oriented comments on passages of Scripture and open the Word for readers to apply it to life
  • 330 practical theological notes draw attention to important doctrinal content in the Bible and
    explain how to apply it every dayBuy your copy of The Amplified® Study Bible Soft Leather-Look Brown in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day
  • Book introductions give background information about each of the Bible’s 66 books
  • Translators’ footnotes offer clarification and information about original-language texts
  • A concordance provides an alphabetical listing of important passages of key words
  • Full-color maps of Bible lands are included to enhance study

Zondervan is a world leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, part
of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its
bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company’s products
are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand
Rapids, Mich. For additional information, please visit

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Bible News Roundup – Week of March 26, 2017

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Only 30% of Born Again Adults Have a Biblical Worldview; But 79% Think They Do
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Only 25% of Christians Think It’s Their Job to Share Their Faith
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One News Now: Barna Finds Faith Still Hiding Under a Bushel
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Oklahoma Woman in Fight with Texas Over Bibles that Went to the Moon
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The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus
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Pastors, Parents Disagree Over Purpose of Youth Ministry
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Worship Band from ‘The Shack’ Survives Fiery Bus Crash, Along with This Page from Their Bible
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Kevin DeYoung is the New Senior Pastor at Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, NC, and Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC
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Nepal: In a Dry Riverbed About 600-700 People Walked for More Than 6 Hours to Receive a Bible
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A Bible in 5 Years for Burkina Faso’s Birifor Speakers
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History of Bible Translation Interactive Timeline
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Bible Craft Symposium to Explore Making of Medieval, Early American, Texts
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Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Now Available on Bible Gateway

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB)—including audio—is now available on Bible Gateway! Click here to read and search the CSB online at Bible Gateway, or click here to listen to the audio CSB.

Developed by 100 scholars from 17 different denominations, the Christian Standard Bible is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It’s particularly well-suited for sermon preparation and serious Bible study, although its careful balance of readability and literal accuracy make it useful for any Bible readers.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Is Revised; Becomes Christian Standard Bible (CSB)]

The CSB translation team followed a translation approach called optimal equivalence—a method which balances readability in modern English with faithfulness to the Bible’s original languages. The result is a Bible that adheres closely to the wording of the original languages except when doing so might obscure the text’s meaning for modern readers, in which cases the CSB employs a more dynamic translation.

To get a sense for the CSB‘s unique approach to translation, here’s how the CSB translates the account of one of Jesus’ most famous miracles—the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:

As soon as Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and told him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked.

“Lord,” they told him, “come and see.”

Jesus wept.

So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Couldn’t he who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. “Remove the stone,” Jesus said.

Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.”

Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.” After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.” — John 11:29-44 (CSB)

The CSB is available to read and search using the search form at the top of any page on You can click here to start reading the CSB at Genesis 1, or click here to read more about this translation. You can also listen to the CSB by visiting our library of audio Bibles.

We’re grateful to Holman Bible Publishers for making the CSB available on Bible Gateway! It’s an excellent and unique addition to our Bible library. If you’re familiar with its predecessor, the HCSB, you’ll find that it continues in the path set down by that Bible, incorporating the latest biblical scholarship and translation insight. If you’re new to this family of Bibles, you’ll find the CSB well worth exploring.

Why We Actually Crave the Wrath of God

by John Mark Comer

As followers of Jesus, when we read stories about Yahweh’s anger or wrath or judgment, we feel like we need to apologize to our friends or explain it away or hide this socially unacceptable part of God away in the back room, as if Yahweh needs a little PR help to survive in the modern world.

The imagery of an angry God is passé. We’ve moved on, evolved to a more progressive world. It’s time that we update Yahweh for the twenty-first century.

And with this move to recast God comes an even more disconcerting move to redefine love. For a lot of people, love has come to mean tolerance.

Think of the common slang in our culture:

“Hey, what’s good for you is good for you.”

“Who am I to judge?”

“Live and let live.”

I can’t help but think, Really? Would you say that about an ISIS bomber? A deranged killer sneaking into an elementary school with a machine gun? A pedophile?

I’m guessing no. So, clearly tolerance has a limit, even in our late-modern world. There’s a line; we just disagree on where to draw it.

Keep in mind that there are two versions of tolerance. Classic tolerance is the idea that we can agree to disagree rather than kill each other or go to war over some petty thing. This was a revolutionary leap forward in social evolution. I’m all for it.

But modern tolerance is the much newer idea that right and wrong are elastic. In this view, to call out somebody’s action as sin is to “judge” them. To disagree with somebody is to hate them. So, for example, if you disagree about sexuality, no matter how gracious and kind and intelligent you are, you immediately earn the label “bigot.” But we all know that’s ludicrous. To disagree with somebody is just to disagree. My wife and I disagree on a regular basis, but we love each other deeply.

My point is simply that love and tolerance are not the same thing.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” At some point, tolerance starts to slide dangerously close to apathy.

Love—at least the kind of love Jesus talked about—often leads to anger. We get angry about things we care deeply about. Things we’re passionate about.

This is the kind of anger we see in Yahweh. Anger that is patient, just, and unselfish—that comes out of a place of love. Anger that comes from a Father who cares about his kids.

In spite of all the current rebranding of God to fit the Western world, if we’re going to take the Scriptures seriously, then we have to take this part of God seriously.

Let’s step forward to Jesus. Often this move to recast God as a progressive and love as tolerance is supposedly based on Jesus’ teachings.

I recently heard a preacher say, “The message of Jesus was all-inclusive love.”


The writer Mark’s summary of Jesus’ message is this: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus’ central, overarching message was that what he called the kingdom of God—the long-awaited age of peace and justice and healing for humanity and the cosmos itself—was finally breaking in through his life. That Yahweh was about to become king over the world and lead humanity into a glorious new stage of development. So we need to repent, to come over to his side, so that we can enter and enjoy his new reality.

In fact, contrary to all the clichés about Jesus and love, Jesus says more about the coming judgment than any teacher in the New Testament. It was one of his major themes. He is constantly warning Israel, calling her to repentance in light of the coming day of Yahweh.

The caricature of Yahweh as the angry, violent “God of the Old Testament” and Jesus as Mr. Rogers with a beard just doesn’t hold up.

One story in particular does a profound job of capturing this reality. In it, Jesus goes to the temple in Jerusalem. For first-century Jews, the temple was the axis point between heaven and earth, a sacred space. But what Jesus finds there is beyond disturbing. The priests had become the aristocracy of the day and were in bed with Rome. The spiritual leaders of the nation had become corrupt. It’s a tragic story that we’ve seen play out hundreds of times.

Here’s what they did: you would come to the temple with say, a lamb, to sacrifice to Yahweh. Maybe you had to walk for two or three days just to get there from your village. You brought a good lamb, one of your best, because the Torah said the sacrifice had to be “without defect.” But the priest would inspect your lamb and say, “I’m sorry, but you’re lamb isn’t good enough. But . . . we just happen to have one for sale that’s already been preapproved.” And then he would sell it to you for a rip-off.

Or let’s say you came from Rome or Alexandria—a much longer journey. Instead of a lamb, you would bring money to buy a sacrifice on-site in Jerusalem. I mean, who wants to walk hundreds of miles with a goat? It’s not very fun. But when you got to the temple in Jerusalem, the money changers would say, “I’m sorry, but the priests don’t take Roman currency here. You need to pay with the temple coin.” And of course, they were the only bank in town, so they could charge an exorbitant exchange rate.

So what does Jesus do? He gets mad. Really mad. He makes a whip—true story—and starts chasing the money changers out of the temple, turning over tables, dumping money and animals on the ground, screaming at the religious establishment: “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

The writer John has a great ending line to the story: “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ ”

Is this how you picture Jesus? Whip in hand, fire in his eyes, knocking over tables and screaming at the money changers as they duck for cover and bolt for the parking lot?

This is one of those stories we skip in Sunday school . . .

I grew up in the 80s. Uh-huh. Anybody remember the flannelgraph? This story never made it onto the flannelgraph. We had Jesus the Good Shepherd, and Jesus walking on water, and Jesus with the children—but we never had angry eyes Jesus with a weapon in his hand and spittle dripping off his chin.

Nope, never had that one.

But it makes sense. He’s facing nauseating injustice. And he is livid. How else is Jesus supposed to feel? Anger is the mature, emotionally healthy response to this kind of corruption and gross defamation of Yahweh’s name.

But here’s what you need to see: this story happens at the end of Jesus’ life, right before the cross. In fact, it’s one of the primary reasons that Jesus is put under arrest and then killed—you don’t upset the status quo of the religious hierarchy and live. But Jesus has been to the temple dozens, if not hundreds, of times. He’d been coming there since he was a boy. It’s not like he just walks in, sees the money changers’ racket, and goes postal. Nothing about this story is spur of the moment. No, this is a thought-out, deliberate, on-purpose kind of anger.

A judgment. A reckoning. A line in the sand.

After years of calling Israel to repentance, Jesus says, “ENOUGH!”

This may be a very different Jesus from what you’re used to. A Jesus who is loving, but still gets angry and isn’t afraid to mete out judgment.

We need to live in the tension between love and anger. Most of us think of love and anger as incompatible. How can you love somebody and be angry at them? That just shows how much we still have to learn about love.

In Jesus we see that Yahweh’s anger is born out of his love. The truth is, if you don’t get angry occasionally, then you don’t love. When you see somebody you love in pain, it should move you emotionally. And it should move you to action, to do something about it.

That’s why Yahweh’s love is an attribute, but his wrath isn’t. The Scriptures teach that “God is love,” but we never read “God is wrath.” Wrath, or anger, is Yahweh’s response to evil in the world.

The story about Jesus in the temple, clearing out the corrupt bureaucrats with a homemade whip, is a preview of what’s to come, a glimpse over the horizon. There is coming a day when Jesus puts evil six feet under the ground. When the world is finally free. And it’s because of Jesus’ love, and because of his wrath, his passionate antagonism against evil in all its forms, that we can look forward to this glorious future.


Taken from the new book God Has a Name by John Mark Comer. Click here to learn more about this title.

In God Has a Name pastor and writer, John Mark Comer, shares a fresh yet ancient way to understand God. Comer speaks to today’s seekers and believers trying to understand who God is and what He’s like by focusing on God’s own powerful statement about himself.

John Mark Comer is pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Master’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary and is the author of two previous books: Loveology and Garden City. Comer is married to Tammy and they have two boys, Jude and Moses and a little girl, Sunday.


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Proclaiming the Gospel from the Upper Room to the Cross: An Interview with Christopher J. H. Wright

Christopher J. H. WrightWhat are the lessons to be learned in Jesus’ journey from the Last Supper to the cross? How should that journey be seen through the lens of the Old Testament? How do the four Gospels recount Jesus’ final hours?

Bible Gateway interviewed Christopher J. H. Wright about his book, To the Cross: Proclaiming the Gospel from the Upper Room to Calvary (InterVarsity Press, 2017).

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Your book presents the gospel message of Jesus’ final hours from each of the Gospel writer’s point of view. Give an example of how they synchronize with one another and another example of how they diverge from one another.

Christopher J. H. Wright: All four Gospels record the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus. It was clearly a very important thing to be recorded (and remarkably so, given that the source must have been Peter himself). However, only John records the restoration of Peter after the resurrection, by the Sea of Galilee. I think that’s because John himself was present at the denial, according to his own account of it—as “the other disciple.”

All four Gospels agree that there were two others crucified at the same time. But only Luke records that one of them asked Jesus to remember him, along with Jesus’ remarkable promise in response.

All four Gospels record things Jesus said as they crucified him, but the “seven sayings from the cross” are distributed across the different Gospels.

Only John takes us into the inner thoughts of Jesus, in describing what he was thinking when he spoke the words, “I thirst,” and “It is finished.”

Why does each Gospel writer emphasize different aspects of the events from the Last Supper to Christ on the cross?

Christopher J. H. Wright: For the same reason that there are four accounts of the gospel itself! The momentous events of the conception, birth, life, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth are too vast to be adequately viewed from one angle alone. Just as we need several points of view to “see” a person’s face, so we need these varied emphases and angles to gain the full perspective of all God wants us to understand.

It’s important, though, that there are not “four gospels.” There is only one gospel: the good news of what God has done through Christ to save the world. But we read that one gospel in four complementary accounts: The gospel, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John.

What does Jesus mean when he refers to himself as the Son of Man?

Christopher J. H. Wright: Sometimes it’s just an alternative form of speech to “I.” But in some significant passages, including at his trial, he clearly has in mind Daniel 7. There the Son of Man is a human figure, who represents the saints (that is, the people of God in their suffering and persecution), who’s presented before God “on the clouds of heaven,” and receives an everlasting kingdom. This is clearly a very exalted figure, sharing the very throne of God. It was when he claimed this text at his trial, that the High Priest cried out that he was committing blasphemy. [Editor’s note: Also see Hearing the Message of Daniel: Sustaining Faith in Today’s World by Christopher Wright in the Bible Gateway Store.)

What is the main lesson Jesus taught during the Last Supper?

Christopher J. H. Wright: The Last Supper was essentially a Passover meal (either on the day of Passover itself or the evening before, as John seems to imply). So the disciples knew what that was all about: the celebration of God’s redemption of Israel in the exodus out of Egypt, coupled with the hope and prayer that God would do it again and bring liberation to his people forever. What Jesus did was to transform that into a story that was now fulfilled in himself. He would give his body and blood; that is, he would die sacrificially, like the Passover lamb. He would accomplish the true and complete exodus redemption. And in doing so, as in the book of Exodus, he would make a new covenant for all those who trust in him.

So Jesus was building on the knowledge that his disciples already had from their Scriptures, making himself the key focus, and giving them an understanding of the meaning of his death the next day, and, in commanding them to eat bread and drink wine in memory of him, he gave them an ongoing sacrament that would keep taking them back to the cross as the center of their faith and hope.

Why is Peter’s denial of Jesus so significant that it’s one of only a few events recorded in all four Gospels?

Christopher J. H. Wright: I think, because it embodies in that single incident the essence of human failure and sin—for which Christ died. As Paul says, even though we as human beings know God, we refuse to acknowledge him. That’s what Peter did. He refused even to “know” Jesus! Peter’s failure reflects all our failure. It forces us to face the reality about ourselves.

But the point of the story is that Jesus foretold this—he knew it was coming. And Jesus forgave Peter, when, in the humbling questioning after breakfast in John 21, Peter confessed his love for Jesus. So the story illustrates both the horrible nature of sin, and the amazing reality of grace. That’s essential to the whole meaning of the gospel.

What should we learn from the way Jesus reacted to the insults he received during his final hours?

Christopher J. H. Wright: That’s an amazing part of the story of the cross. It’s easy to say, “we should follow his example”—but easier said than done! Nevertheless, that aspect of the story is certainly taken as a model for how Christians should respond to suffering in 1 Peter chapters 3-4. So it does stand as something we’re called to imitate in the way we handle opposition and suffering for the sake of Christ.

How does Mark use Jesus’ words in Mark 15:34 to “signal the dawning of the light of the gospel”?

Christopher J. H. Wright: Those words, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” express the deepest depths of the darkness of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Mark has told us that the sun had stopped shining, so there was physical darkness at the same time. But it’s precisely because Jesus bore the depths of the reality of what separation from God means, and did so on our behalf and in our place, that we can have forgiveness for the sin that otherwise would separate us from God eternally.

So after that terrible moment, the story moves on to Jesus’ final great cry—which John tells us was “It is finished”—that is, Christ had now accomplished what he came to do. And so Mark begins to take us into the light of our salvation, accomplished in the darkest moment of the cross. And he indicates that both by the tearing of the curtain in the temple— separating people from the holy presence of God (the way is now open)—and then by the confession of the centurion that Jesus was “the Son of God.” The light of the gospel reaches not only to the holiest place in Israel’s faith, but also to the Gentiles; including one who had just crucified Jesus!

What did Jesus mean when he said on the cross, “It is finished”?

Christopher J. H. Wright: It means that Jesus had accomplished all that God’s mission had sent him to do. It did not merely mean that his life was over (like, “I’m finished”). It was a statement of achievement of purpose—God’s purpose to deal with sin and guilt, to defeat all the powers of evil, to bring about the reconciliation of enemies, to defeat death itself, and to accomplish the reconciliation and liberation of the whole creation. All of these things are referred to in different passages in the New Testament, in relation to what God did in Christ at the cross, as I explain in one of the chapters in To the Cross.

Bio: Christopher J. H. Wright (PhD, Cambridge) is international ministries director of the Langham Partnership, providing literature, scholarships, and preaching training for pastors in Majority World churches and seminaries. He’s written many books including Hearing the Message of Daniel: Sustaining Faith in Today’s World and commentaries on Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel. An ordained priest in the Church of England, Chris spent five years teaching the Old Testament at Union Biblical Seminary in India, and 13 years as academic dean and then principal of All Nations Christian College, an international training center for cross-cultural mission in England. He was chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group from 2005-2011 and the chief architect of The Cape Town Commitment from the Third Lausanne Congress, 2010.

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