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Is The Bible Symbolic Or Literal

Is the Bible symbolical and/or literal? Where does symbolical, spiritual or mystical interpretation ends and literal or historical interpretation begins? For example, the location of the crucifixion in the Gospels is in Jerusalem but in Revelation it is in Sodom and Egypt.

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3/Michael

Michael represents the *I* we must all try to figure out while on this earth. Is the *I* a body, soul and spirit? Just a body, like the materialist-behaviorist believes? A body and soul only, like some believe? This is the perfect blog to discuss symbols and their use in Scripture to represent a concept or an idea. What do you think about the idea or concept that is represented by the symbol G.O.D? What do you think about Jesus being spiritual crucified?
---I_AM_I on 7/17/07


If the Bible is literal this generation that was resurrected in the year 2000 completely disregards it
---anonymous on 1/18/07


Danie, the verse could have just said THEY WERE KILLED IN THE GREAT CITY! Do not forget that Revelavtion is a SPIRITUAL BOOK!!!!!
---I_AM_I on 1/16/07


i_am_i said: "What purpose is served by adding Sodom and Egypt to the verse?" Well, hmm... they just killed God's prophets and layed their bodies in the street to jeer at and praise satan!!! Then you say there's no purpose to use those harsh names? That's what it's Godless inhabitants WILL BE like! And probably one (of many) good reason for a NEW Jerusalem to come down out of heaven.
---danie9374 on 1/16/07


1- danie9374

The writter in John 2:21 was narrating the story years after the fact. This is why I used the word hinsight in my other post. Verse 22 makes the point more clear that after Jesus was risen from the dead, then the disciples recalled Christ saying these words concerning his resurrection. Verse 21 was not a verbal statement from Jesus, it was from the narrator years down the line.
---Billy on 1/16/07




2- danie9374

The picture that I get is that not only did the Jews not know what Jesus was talking about in verse 19 but the disciples didnt have a clue either. His disciples were still as blind as a bat to the things of the spirit. I dont think they understud, even after Jesus would explane the parables to them in private. It was only after they had received the Holy Spirit that they had the eyes to see these things.
---Billy on 1/16/07


3- danie9374

The point im trying to make is that the context of these verses at the time that this event took place, there was no evidence to show that Jesus let the Jews and his disciples know that he was going to be making a mediforical statement. It was only down the road that his disciples understood most of what Jesus ever said. Jesus did not want them to know what he was talking about. God bless
---Billy on 1/16/07


"When was Jerusalem known as a spiritual Sodom or a spiritual Egypt?"

I_AM_I, God compares Jerusalem with Sodom in Jeremiah 23:14.
---Kay on 1/16/07


1/

As I had stated earlier, physical Jerusalem has all ready been branded with being Sodom and Egypt. Sodom represents sin and Egypt represents bondage. So when has Jerusalem ever been closely related to these two cities? (1) Ezekiel 16:55 states that Jerusalem is a sister to Sodom because of her sins. (2) Galatians 4:24,25 states that Jerusalem is still in bondage with her children to this day. If these two scriptures dont show how Jerusalem can be Sodom and Egypt I dont know what will.
---Billy on 1/15/07


2/
Jerusalem "Israel" regreted ever coming out of Egypt. They fought against God every step of the way, even in the wilderness. The real kicker is that as this has had its application to Israel according to the flesh, it also has its application to Israel according to the spirit. We might want to do a little more research on who the whore is that sits upon many waters "Rev 17:1"? Who is it thats been drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus?
---Billy on 1/15/07




3/
If it was physical Israel "Jerusalem" that took the life of our Christ, how much more would spiritual Israel do the same to the Christ of today? The natural must always proceed to the spiritual "1Cor 15:46". Even spiritual Israel is in bondage with her children to this day. God bless
---Billy on 1/15/07


What most people have a problem with is that they dont believe that God is trying to hide the truths of His Word from the many called. Could someone answer this question? Why did Jesus speak in parables?

If you can answer this question according to scripture, youll understand why God has allowed things to be the way they are. Its not given to most, to understand the mysteries of His Kingdom. Only to those that God allows to see. God bless
---Billy on 1/15/07


jana, according to Revelation 21:1,2 the New Jerusalem will descend upon the new Earth (this earth made new). So the New Jerusalem is the CITY. Its not the new earth itself. Just like Jerusalem is a city ON this earth, the new Jerusalem is a city ON the new earth.
---Kay on 1/15/07


1/Danie, no! It isn*t clear that the city is Jerusalem. My research indicates otherwise. This is one of several verses in ch. 11 that LITERALISTS hang unto to prove that the lake of fire and brimstone they want to throw people into (how un-Godly!) are literal. The lake of fire is spiritual just like 11:8 is spiritual. The very word spiritual is used in the verse for a reason. When was Jerusalem known as a spiritual Sodom or a spiritual Egypt?
---I_AM_I on 1/15/07


2/Danie, if this is a literal Jerusalem then I suppose you believe that the city with foundation Abraham and others were looking for is also literal, which it CLEARLY is not!!! The Bible says Abraham was looking for a heavenly city. I interpret this to mean SPIRITUAL! What purpose is served by adding Sodom and Egypt to the verse? The verse could have been easily written without them! What is the meaning?
---I_AM_I on 1/15/07


[1] Billy, I've always sought insight which only the Holy Spirit can give Believers in understand God's revelations to us! First, I think you misunderstood my ref. to CONTEXT; which MAY need to include EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE BIBLE at times; not just immediate verses! Those who wish to even attempt a useful interpretation of 'the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John' (book of Revelation), MUST be familiar with ALL OF SCRIPTURE, since there are so many allusions to and refs. from [cont.]
---danie9374 on 1/15/07


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[2] many other Bible authors. There's only so much of this particular book (even though it says all who do read it will be blessed) even true Believers can know they've understood correctly UNTIL the events actually take place!
Regarding Jesus and the Temple, John 2:21 clearly points out what He meant! Also, by 'CONTEXT', I mean the type of speech the author uses too; Jesus TOLD US He often spoke in parables, so we must keep that in mind whenever reading His words.
---danie9374 on 1/15/07


1/ danie9374,

Matt 5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Can you tell me if this scripture is to be taken literal or spiritual? Danie, sometimes the CONTEXTUAL evidence isnt there to make this assessment.
---Billy on 1/15/07


2/ danie9374

John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

The Jews had asked for a sign as to why he "Jesus" had done what he did in the temple? And Jesus gave them an answer that based on all CONTEXTUAL evidence would say that Jesus was speaking of the literal temple. But hignsight lets us know that Jesus was speaking of the temple of his body.
---Billy on 1/15/07


3/ danie9374

This lets me know that your method of discerning spiritual things could allow us to overlook even the most hidden treasures that are hide in Gods word. I would have to say that most, if not all of Gods word has a spiritual application that can be seen if one has the eyes to see. I pray that God gives us all the eyes to see, God bless.
---Billy on 1/15/07


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Kay, it is the old earth made new which will be the New Jerusalem read Rev21:1,2 New Heaven n New Earth 4the first heaven n the first earth were passed away.. and V10 that great city the Holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God.
---jana on 1/15/07


i_am_i: Jack already told you; very far down here now, that the word (Grk. 'pneumatikos') in (Rev. 11:18) which is translated here as 'spiritually', 'mystically' or 'symbolically' (depending upon your Bible version) clearly indicates both 'Sodom' and 'Egypt' are NOT to be taken literally in that verse! And its closing phrase "where also their Lord was crucified" obviously means Jerusalem is its location; without that, we'd guess it was Babylon instead.
---danie9374 on 1/15/07


To answer your question in general: UNLESS there's good CONTEXTUAL evidence to take a passage as something other than literal, then that's how it should be read. It doesn't take a literary genius, e.g., to see that in an otherwise literal book, Deut. 32 isn't called a "song" because it says so! "Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb." (v.2) Anyone NOT see that as 'poetic' in nature?
---danie9374 on 1/15/07


Mike

Since Moses did not write the entire Torah, if any at all, who inspired the UNKNOWN writers and REDACTOR of the Torah? If you say God, you have to know who were the writers to be sure that God inspired them. Did God also inspire the redactor?
---I_AM_I on 1/14/07


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I AM I Of course Moses did not write the whole Torah, as it discribes Moses at the end of Duet. Might I suggest Harold Blooms 'Book of J' or a book called "Who wrote the Bible." I can list a 1000 reasons internal and external as to why I believe the Bible is inspired. I took a few classes at a Hebrew college( I am not Hebrew) on Genesis and these 'contradictions' are a non-issue to most people of faith.

Kay- I do not know what you are trying to say.
---MikeM on 1/13/07


I AM I-There's lots of evidence showing it was post Moses. Genesis 12:6 and 13:7 presupposes the conquest of Canaan;
The time span between Moses and the author of the script is sen-The recurrence of the words, unto this day in Genesis 32:32, Deuteronomy 3:14 and 34:6, and clearly shown in Deuteronomy 34:10! There hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses.

Likewise, Genesis 36:31 and Deut17:14 could not have been written prior to the time of the Kings of Israel, there you go!
---MikeM on 1/13/07


I AM I, the word is antinomy, which is 2 equally true facts, but when side-by-side they appear to be contrary: such as the fact that Jesus is God and man, the Master and the servant, the Shepherd and the Lamb; itself is not a contradiction, but "looks" to be. I mean there was water in the pot, and when Jesus told them to pour it for the guests, then here it poured out as wine. So if water was put into the pot, how comes when it was poured out it was wine? another factual antinomy perhaps?
---Eloy on 1/12/07


I AM I, True Holy Spirit filled Christian translators do not corrupt the scriptures when they translate, for we love our Lord's words, so we would never corrupt what he says. A worldly scholar will do that, as well as those who are the enemies of God and the cross, but never any saint would even dare go against God by wresting what he says.
---Eloy on 1/12/07


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I AM I, if Jesus wasn't crucified in Jerusalem, where was He crucified?

The "New Jerusalem" (Rev 3:12; 21:2) is the name of city where the saved will live throughout eternity. This isn't the earthly Jerusalem.
---Kay on 1/12/07


"..if Moses wrote the ENTIRE Torah, who finished it after his death."

I AM I, that would probably be Joshua.


"Also, if Moses wrote the Torah, why would he confuse the events from one day to another in both stories?"

There is no confusion, only lack of understanding on your part. Sorry, but its true.
---Kay on 1/12/07


Mike, nice to see that there is contradiction in the two creation stories. We can go through some of them. Nice to see that you have done research to realize that there are two different traditions involved. Some scholars say Moses did not write the Torah. However, I am sure Eloy disagrees with them. Mike, if Moses wrote the ENTIRE Torah, who finished it after his death. Also, if Moses wrote the Torah, why would he confuse the events from one day to another in both stories?
---I_AM_I on 1/12/07


Kay, I sent you a longer response last night but only two parts are appended. I will try again tonight. Now I am at work. Regarding seeing and/or hearing God*s voice, see John1:18; 5:37 and 1 John 4:13(?). I don*t have a Bible with me so these verses may be off.
---I_AM_I on 1/12/07


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[b] Kay, how are you sure that Jerusalem is literal? Are you disagreeing with Scripture? If it is the geographical Jerusalem and a physical crucifixion, why does Scripture refer to a heavenly new Jerusalem. As we analyze Revelation, let*s see if John The Prophet knew much about the historical Jesus and his crucifixion.
---I_AM_I on 1/12/07


"Mike, both Genesis stories are metaphors and are based on myths."

I AM I, there is only ONE Genesis story and its not metaphors or based on myths. Is Almighty God powerful enough to create the entire universe but He isn't powerful enough to inspire and preserve His word? Is God a liar then? Should we trust Him with our lives if He cannot even be trusted with His own word?
---Kay on 1/11/07


I agree 100% with Eloy.

Proverbs 3:5-"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding."
---Kay on 1/11/07


Eloy, we have been done this path before, remember? You do not use the word CONTRADICTION! You use the word anatomies, which is CONTRADICTIONS according to the dictionary but not to you. Now do you understand why I must expose Bible translators. They play around with the translations of words to keep people in ignorance.
---I_AM_I on 1/12/07


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1/Kay

You will NEVER, EVER, EVER and EVER be able to use ANY of Paul*s letters, even the forged ones attributed to him, to prove that Jesus is God or God the Father!!! You don*t have to read his letters in their entirety to realize this. Just read the greetings and/or thanksgivings in the beginning of each of his letters! PLEASE read them and let me know if you still believe Paul thought Jesus was God or God the Father.
---I_AM_I on 1/12/07


I AM I-Genesis contradict only on the surface. Did Moses write BOTH creation stories? I dont know. Have you studied the two stories from the Hebrew to english? This would only be an issue to the literalist, the fundamentalist, but not to most people. They are clearly written by different authers, different times. The Elowist and the Yahwist accounts discribe different creations, not contradictory ones.
---MikeM on 1/11/07


greetings.To interject here.In an attempt to place Adam as the uncontested Father of mankind the rewriters failed to eliminate Cain's wife(Remona) from the picture.Therefore was their attempt partial and imcomplete to wholy claim Adam was the beginnings of man.
---earl on 1/11/07


I AM I, Holy Scripture is not mythical nor is it contradictory, and it wilol only seem so to those whose understanding is imperfect. And to profess this falsehood is unlearnedness on your part.
---Eloy on 1/11/07


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Mike,

So does that mean YOU KNOW that Moses did not write the Torah? I would not be surprise to find on here people who still Moses wrote the entire Torah. The stories CONTRADICT! Who is truly an atheist?
---I_AM_I on 1/11/07


I AM I-Atheist have tried to assert the Bible is a compilation of various ancient sources, beginning with the two creation stories. You can't infer, based on textual variations like the seperate J and E stories that the Bible is a random collection of archaic writings. Yes they were written at different times again, so what? The preistly writing differ in style, and one is clearly history, the other story is OUTSIDE the space time continium. To say 'myth' is a reach.
---MikeM on 1/11/07


I am I-The 'Y' creation story is very much literal,in time sequence. The 'E' story is out of space time, the initial creation. They do not, as I understand disagree. The J writer is seen throughout much of the OT. There are different writers, different styles, so what? I do not see any real contradictions. My argument for the Bible is ethical monotheism, which is very unique to the Bible, and its trancendence.
---MikeM on 1/11/07


The Bible has many layers, just as one word has many different definitions and the correct definition is understood by the context in which it is used, so whole passages should also be kept in proper context. The Bible is inspired by God (words which are breathed or spoken by God), therefore in order to understand the words correctly the reader should also be inspired or in-spirited, else the natural mind will not understand and will easily come to wrong comprehension and wrong conclusions.
---Eloy on 1/11/07


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"Much of the Bible is symbolic, metaphorical. From what I gather of the two genesis stories on is metaphor, the other historical."

MikeM, there aren't two Genesis stories.
---Kay on 1/11/07


"Please read my post to Billy and tell me if Jerusalem is a physical or spiritual city in Rev. 11:8."

I AM I, its very clear that Jerusalem is a physical city in Rev. 11:8. The passage states that the city is where Jesus was crucified. In what other city could He have been crucified?

"Is Revelation spiritual or literal?"

Both.
---Kay on 1/11/07


Mike, both Genesis stories are metaphors and are based on myths. If you analyze both stories you will find many contradictions. The prophesies have their problems too. It is a challenge at times to determine where history begins and myths end.
---I_AM_I on 1/11/07


1/ I amI

I believe that Israel is both symbolic and literal historical. The natural must always procede to the spiritual. 1Co 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. This thought can be traced all through the scriptures. Physical Israel "Jerusalem" has always been a nation thats rebelled against God. Scripture says that Sodom is a sister of Jerusalem "Ezekiel 16:55"
---Billy on 1/11/07


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2/ I am I

But Jerusalem would receive the greater reproach because they ignored Gods promises and broke His covenant. I believe this is how Jerusalem can be spiritual Sodom because she is her sister. Egypt is a no brainer because of there bondage in Egypt. Theres another scripture that speaks of the Son of God being crucified afresh and put to an open shame "Heb 6:6". I believe that this takes place in spiritual Sodom and Egypt. Its in us where this place exists. God bless.
---Billy on 1/11/07


Much of the Bible is symbolic, metaphorical. From what I gather of the two genesis stories on is metaphor, the other historical.

I believe much of the oT foreshadows the coming of Christ. Christ's life was literal, as was his physical resurection.
---MikeM on 1/10/07


3/ Billy

As I know YOU KNOW, Revelation is mostly spiritual. Except for a few verses, I would say that it is COMPLETELY spiritual. One of those verses is Rev. 11:8 with the translator*s use of Jerusalem, the actual location of the crucifixion in the gospels. Footnotes to the verse from one translator say Jerusalem IS NOT a geographical location, but rather a spiritual location. Then those footnotes say Jerusalem is Babylon, which is Rome (captivity).
---I_AM_I on 1/10/07


4/ Billy

This is CRAZY! Is Jerusalem spiritual or historical? If it is spiritual, then Jesus was spiritual crucified, like the two witnesses? If Jerusalem is historical, when was it knows spiritually as Sodom and Egypt? Billy, I will pick this up later after I finish reading an article on a debate DANIE listed on the Trinity blog between two professors of theology: William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman.
---I_AM_I on 1/10/07


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5/ Billy

The article is entitled IS THERE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION? I am sharing this with you because Danie shared it with the site and I know YOU DO RESEARCH. The debate is real easy to find using google.
---I_AM_I on 1/10/07


Kay

Please read my post to Billy and tell me if Jerusalem is a physical or spiritual city in Rev. 11:8. Is Revelation spiritual or literal?
---I_AM_I on 1/10/07


1/Billy

The name of the great city has two spiritual names: Sodom and Egypt. Another word for spiritual is mystical. I can see how the word mystical is historically associated with Egypt, but I am not sure with Sodom, which is depicted in Scripture as an immoral location. In Scripture Egypt is portrayed differently than historically. In Scripture Egypt is portrayed as a land of bondage with *corrupted wisdom,* etc.
---I_AM_I on 1/10/07


2/Billy

According to some sources Jerusalem may have been apart of the great Egyptian empire historically at one point. I am not sure about Sodom, since I have not done any historical research on it, although one author on Bible archeology classifies the location as completely mythical. Nonetheless, I am unaware of Sodom or Egypt being known as Jerusalem historically.
---I_AM_I on 1/10/07


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[b] Eloy

Do not believe my words. Here are Paul*s words: *It is sown a natural body; IT IS RAISED A SPIRITUAL BODY. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.* I Cor. 15:44.

Despite this, Jesus ate fish after his resurrection. Can a spiritual body eat fish? Also, since God is Spirit, how did God eat bread with Abraham and fought with Jacob?
---I_AM_I on 1/9/07


Part 1 of my 5 part post didnt get posted, and like the none computer person I am, I didnt save it on my computer. Maybe God didnt want part 1 to be posted, so maybe the other posts got my point across. God bless.
---Billy on 1/9/07


Kay ::Are mice midgit rats.or like meals on wheels for cats.
---EMCEE on 1/9/07


2- I am I

As Christ was rejected and put outside the gate to be crucified, so we must be rejected and put outside the gate of there spiritual house to be spiritually crucified. This is why it is spiritually called Sodom and Egypy.

1John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement: because as he is, so are we in this world.
---Billy on 1/9/07


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3- I am I

As Christ is so are we in this world. I am I, you have said this many times that we must manifest the Christ and you are so wright. Gods elect are the Christ in this world. So this is how Christ can be crucified over again, because it is Gods elect that will magnify the Christ and be hated of all men and be crucified again by the many that refuse him. God bless
---Billy on 1/9/07


"Kay, how was Jesus spiritually crucified in Egypt and Sodom? There may be another meaning to both Sodom and Egypt."

I AM I, it is Sodom and Egypt that are used symbolically. It does not say that Jesus was spiritually crucified in Sodom and Egypt. It says that JERUSALEM is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. And I believe it is referring to Jerusalems sin.
---Kay on 1/9/07


Emcee, I pick Miami mice.
---Kay on 1/9/07


1- Hello I am I,

Ill try to give an answer to Rev 11:8 but could be wrong. First I believe that Sodom and Egypy are symbolic of Sin and Bondage. The two witnesses are Gods elect. The number two represents exactly what they are and that is "witnesses." So 2 represents "witness." So when was Christ crucified other than in physical Jerusalem. He is crucified in earthen Sodom and Egypt vessels.
---Billy on 1/9/07


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2/

God has orchestrated all these things in the natural first to be a road map to see spiritual things. As I said earlier, if we only know christ after the flesh, and we refuse to go beyond this, we will cease to grow into maturity.

---Billy on 1/8/07


3/

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.
---Billy on 1/8/07


4/

All of these doctrines are what the christian church of today continues to hold on to.

Before I came out of the worldly carnal church, I went to visit many different chirches, and most of the time all that was preached were sermons that were to try to lead someone to salvation.

Please dont get me wrong, I love to see people start on a spiritual road to becoming like Christ, but the church rarely seen new visitors to tell them the good news.
---Billy on 1/8/07


5/

It seams that all the people going to church at these churches, were sacrificing there own spiritual growth to continue in the principles and doctrine of Christ, and refusing to go unto maturity "completeness".

Gods Word is to be spiritually discerned. any other way will keep us babes in Christ an starving our spiritual man to a spiritual death. God bless.
---Billy on 1/8/07


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IAM;When studying the bible one has always to determine if it's Literal,Symbolic,Prophetic or Figurative! Not much (if any) of Revelation is literal.
---1st_cliff on 1/8/07


TO ALL:
Thank you for your keen insight into Scripture so far. I posted the blog following a discussion with another blogger who believes that the Bible is ONLY literal. We were discussing the lake of fire and hell, etc. If Revelation is spiritual, or at least partly spiritual, how does this affect the lake of fire and hell, etc?
---I_AM_I on 1/8/07


1/Kay, I know the word SPIRITUAL appears in Rev. 11:8. Another word some translators use is figuratively. I share a similar position as you on the interpretation of Scripture: literal and metaphorical or spiritual. However, I have encountered some on here who believe The Book of Revelation is LITERAL, especially the lake of fire and brimstone. For those who are literalists, Jesus must be crucified in three (3) different places, since the Bible mentions three (3) different locations.
---I_AM_I on 1/8/07


2/Kay

For those who are literalists, they must accept, AT A MINIMUM, that Jesus was ONLY spiritually crucified according to Rev. 11:8. Kay, how was Jesus spiritually crucified in Egypt and Sodom? There may be another meaning to both Sodom and Egypt.
---I_AM_I on 1/8/07


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Jack

I agree with you on biblical interpretation. However, what is a spiritual crucifixion?
---I_AM_I on 1/8/07


1/Michael

Sorry for the delayed response. I did not notice that the blog was posted. If the name I am using insult you, please tell me the meaning you are attributing to the name. As you may know, symbols are used to represent a concept or an idea. A name can be used as a symbol. For example, some people use the letters G.O.D to represent a concept. Other people use the letters A.L.L.A.H to represent a concept. Still others use the letters J.A.H.O.V.A.H to represent a concept.
---I_AM_I on 1/8/07


2/Michael

What concept are you attributing to my name? Further, your mother and father upon being blessed by God to bring your into this earthly realm, which you call your birth, used the letters M.i.c.h.a.e.l to represent a concept that we call a person or human being. In stead of naming you *I,* which you really are in essence, your parents called you Michael.
---I_AM_I on 1/8/07


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