Two Ways of Doctrine and Power – The Epistle of Barnabas

Aug 06
Two Ways of Doctrine and Power - The Epistle of Barnabas

Last week I noticed the word apple in the scriptures and did a search for it. I then saw a phrase in the Old Testament about Israel being the “apple of the Lord’s eye.” and that fascinated me so I expanded the search to:

apple* and eye*

That resulted in about a dozen verses to see how this was used and one of the results that came back was in the Epistle of Barnabas which is in the Lost Books of the Bible. This book is part of the Scripture Notes library and contains some real gems. There’s disagreement among experts if these various documents were written by the people they purport to be written by or not, but they are of ancient origin and many do consider them authentic.

The Epistle of Barnabas contains writings where he seeks to prove Jesus was the Christ, showing from prophecy and from symbolism that he fit the description. Also how the temporal aspects of the law were replaced by spiritual. Instead of circumcision, the circumcision of the ears and heart were to be opened up for hearing and feeling the power of the gospel.

In chapters 14 & 15 of this Epistle of Barnabas, he shares this:

1. AND thus, I trust, I have declared to you as much, and with as great simplicity as I could, those things which make for your salvation, so as not to have omitted anything that might be requisite thereunto.

2. For should I speak further of the things that now are, and of those that are to come, you would not yet understand them, seeing they lie in parables. This therefore shall suffice as to these things.

3. Let us now go on to the other kind of knowledge and doctrine. There are two ways of doctrine and power; the one of light, the other of darkness.

4. But there is a great deal of difference between these two ways: for over one are appointed the angels of God, the leaders of the way of lightover the other, the angels of Satan. And the one is the Lord from everlasting to everlastingthe other is the prince of the time of unrighteousness.

5. Now the way of light is this, if any one desires to attain to the place that is appointed for him, and will hasten thither by his works. And the knowledge that has been given to us for walking in it, to this effect: Thou shalt love him that made thee: thou shalt glorify him that hath redeemed thee from death.

What follows in chapter 14 are a collection of over 40 “thou shalt” statements, which verse 5 contains 2 of. There are some fascinating, thought-provoking commands. For example:

  • Thou shalt be simple in heart, and rich in the spirit
  • Thou shalt not be over-confident in thy heart
  • Thou shalt not entertain any doubt whether it shall be or not
  • Thou shalt not destroy thy conceptions before they are brought forth; nor kill them after they are born. (particularly relevant today as some legislators are pushing for “after birth abortion” which is a twisted way to say murder a live person.)
  • Thou shalt love, as the apple of thine eye, every one that speaketh unto thee the Word of the Lord. (This was the verse I mentioned finding above that led me to read this chapter)
  • Thou shalt seek out every day the persons of the righteous: and both consider and go about to exhort others by the word, and meditate how thou mayest save a soul.

I love these thoughts the writer shared. Don’t entertain doubt. Don’t let it work in you. Meditate how to minister to others and how you might save a soul.

Chapter 15 then starts off:

1. BUT the way of darkness is crooked and full of cursing. For it is the way of eternal death, with punishment; in which they that walk meet those things that destroy their own souls.

That’s pretty ominous, but those that walk in sin don’t know what’s lurking in the darkness to take them after their “walk” of life.

The list of things that put you on the path of darkness isn’t nearly so extensive as the path of light, and Barnabas shifts gears to some summary points.

7. It is therefore fitting that learning the just commands of the Lord, which we have before mentioned, we should walk in them. For he who does such things shall be glorified in the kingdom of God.

13. Be ye taught of Godseeking what it is the Lord requires of youand doing it; that ye may be saved in the day of judgment.

This is truly a summary of the gospel. Learn what the Lord commands, seek to be taught by him, and do it. It’s the laborers who receive.

Doctrine & Covenants 42:42. Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.

The bottom line is, what type of power do we seek? Power from above, or power from below. Both paths offer power and doctrine. Power over self vs. power over others. One leads to a good end, the other to darkness. It’s a choice.


About the Author

Oak Norton - Just trying to share a love of the scriptures with others.