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1st Century Christians, Leaders, Apostle Paul Letters to the congregations.


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A topic, or more of a number of questions ? 

I've been pondering and trying to research a few things. But the problem I've found in trying to research is that people have their own agenda and will write according to it. They have their own predetermined answer and will therefore write accordingly. I am therefore not starting with a predetermined set of answers, but am asking questions, as many of you have great experience and knowledge.

I'm looking at the 1st Century Christian 'organisation', at the 12, at the Apostle Paul, and at the warning and destruction of Jerusalem which I think happened in 70 C. E.

One point I was looking to discover was, when did the 1st Century Christians leave Jerusalem, based on the warning from Jesus.

About thirty-seven years before the destruction, Jesus had foretold the terrible events that would follow his death. He warned his followers to immediately flee Jerusalem when the signs he predicted occurred. The Christian community carefully watched for the signs and followed the Savior’s warning.

 

Epiphanes also attested to the Christian escape, according to Bible scholar Adam Clarke. The latter wrote: “It is very remarkable that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem,......"

Vespasian was approaching with his army, all who believed in Christ left Jerusalem and fled to Pella, and other places beyond the river Jordan; and so they all marvellously escaped

Pella must not have been the only destination of fleeing Christians, but it was the most prominent at the time. The flight to Pella took place in A.D. 66 during the attack by Gallus.

So I'm now looking to find out where the 12 Apostles went and exactly when they left Jerusalem ?

AND, importantly, Did they stay together as a 'body' or did they go separate ways ?

As a side note here I find that the NWT has it that the book of Acts was written in 61, whereas others believe it to be written in 66. 

The Governing Body of CCJW give the impression that they are following on from the 1st Century Apostles and Older Men. 

However, here we must look at a few points. 

The Apostle Paul, who was NOT one of the 12, was the one chosen, it seems, to write Letters to the congregations.

If the 12 Apostles (11 original + 1 chosen by men) were the original 'governing body', then why are the Letters to the Congregations NOT written by the 12 ?  Why was Paul chosen to write those letters ?

Or, just as important, Why are there no letters to the Congregations written by a 'body of Apostles / Older Men' recorded in the Bible ? 

Paul was basically an outsider. Why are his writings more prominent in the Greek Scriptures ?

One other thing I noticed was that all of Paul's letters are pre 70 C. E. which is before the destruction of Jerusalem. 

It seems, (although research seems to differ) that Paul was murdered by the Romans / Nero, in 68 C. E.

The only Bible writings after 70 C. E. were written by the Apostle John. Revelation in 96 and John's other writings in 98. 

Was he the only one of the original 12 alive after 70 C. E. ?

So what proof do we have of a 'governing body' 'group of Apostles /Older men' from the time that the 12 left Jerusalem in around 66 C. E. ? 

And why were they not used to write letters to the Congregations ?  Did they stay together as a 'body' or did they separate ?

@JW Insider @TrueTomHarley @Arauna @Anna As JWs that think your Org has truth, maybe you can answer my questions.

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Unfortunately, this has been going on even from the time that the scriptures were written, or at least from very shortly after the NT was completed. This means that even the very idea that there had been an escape to Pella might just be from persons with their own agenda. The best evidence that comes down to us is from Eusebius of Caesarea and Epiphanius of Salamis. Eusebius wrote his "Ecclesiastical History" (Church History) between about 300 and 325. Epiphanius would have written "Panario

Using the quotes extracted from Eusebius and Epaphanius in a Wiki article Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. It might be interesting to note that the impetus to leave Jerusalem and go to Pella was not specifically credited to Jesus' prophecy in Matthew/Mark/Luke, but to an angel, or a specific oracle/revelation/prophecy given just before the war. This would put it on par with the prophecy of Agabus (Acts 11:27, 28) . . .In those days prophets came

(Matthew 24:15, 16) 15 “Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment), 16 then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains. (Mark 13:14) 14 “However, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader use discernment), then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains. (Luke 21:

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38 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

The idea that the command only went to those in the city who were worthy, might also imply that there were reports that some [less worthy] Christians had died in Jerusalem's destruction.

Quite often those "worthies" that escape destruction, are the ones who have getaway money, and can afford to do so.

As many in the Peoples' Republic of Kalifornia, Taxachusettes, and New York are discovering ... there is nothing more PORTABLE, than people with money.

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On 2/23/2020 at 11:39 AM, 4Jah2me said:

He warned his followers to immediately flee Jerusalem when the signs he predicted occurred.

(Matthew 24:15, 16) 15 “Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment), 16 then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains.

(Mark 13:14) 14 “However, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader use discernment), then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains.

(Luke 21:20-28) 20 “However, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. 21 Then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains, let those in the midst of her leave, and let those in the countryside not enter into her, 22 because these are days for meting out justice in order that all the things written may be fulfilled. 23 Woe to the pregnant women and those nursing a baby in those days! For there will be great distress on the land and wrath against this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled. 25 “Also, there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation. 26 People will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But as these things start to occur, stand up straight and lift up your heads, because your deliverance is getting near.”

The words of Mark and Matthew implied that the Romans would have come right up to the Temple to defile it, and that this was the time to leave as quickly as possible. We know from Josephus that Jews read Daniel's "abomination of desolation" to be based on Antiochus IV, who: according to common knowledge had done as follows, 200 years earlier:

In 168 BC, the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem and captured the city. He marched into the Jewish temple, erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus, and sacrificed a pig on the altar of incense. This provoked a revolt in Judea as the Jews fought to remove Antiochus’ sacrilege from the temple.

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But Titus did not do anything akin to this in 66. Although in 70, he did. You can see almost direct evidence of this today by looking at the Arch of Titus.

In that year, the Roman general Titus invaded Jerusalem to crush a Jewish revolt, entered the temple, had the building destroyed, and carried off the lampstand and other temple artifacts to Rome.

So, it seems likely that it was not specifically anything in 66 (in Jesus' prophecy) that would have triggered a fleeing to Pella, nor does anyone who believed in a Pella flight actually time it to 66. Cestius Gallus did plunder the Temple [funds] and it resulted in a counter-attack by the Jews that was mostly successful. So this was an excellent time to leave, and both Jews and Romans got out of the city at that time. Wikipedia says:

The Roman governor,

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, responded by plundering the
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, claiming the money was for the Emperor, and the next day launching a raid on the city, arresting numerous senior Jewish figures. This prompted a wider, large-scale rebellion and the Roman military garrison of Judaea was quickly overrun by the rebels, while the pro-Roman king
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, together with Roman officials, fled
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. As it became clear the rebellion was getting out of control,
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, the
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of
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, brought in the Syrian army, based on
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and reinforced by auxiliary troops, to restore order and quell the revolt. Despite initial advances and the conquest of
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, the Syrian Legion was ambushed and defeated by Jewish rebels at the
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with 6,000 Romans massacred and the Legion's
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lost.

But at that point, Christians would have many months of opportunities to leave the city between 66 and the actual surrounding of Jerusalem in 70. 66 fits some of what Jesus said, but it was not a case so desperate that one would be unable to even grab a coat from inside your house. That was more like the situation just before Passover in 70. This is probably why Eusebius, who had read both Josephus and knew the Bible very well, believed the fleeing to Pella to be based on an angelic revelation.

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@JW Insider  Thank you for so much information. I will have to re -read it at least twice more to be able to digest / understand and try to remember it. Even better I will copy and paste sections of it as a draft email to myself. 

Quote "There are plenty of letters and stories and other Christian writings between 70 and 300, but no evidence about Pella."

Can you point me in the right direction to above statement please.

I'm still not sure if you've answered my questions written in blue.  Please bear with me as at 70 years old i find it difficult to hold information in my mind and to process it well.  As Arni said ' I'll be back'

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, 4Jah2me said:

Can you point me in the right direction to above statement please.

Naturally, if it's something that might be historical but isn't found in the Bible itself, the first place you'd look is in the writings of contemporaries of first century Christians like

  • Josephus,
  • Pliny the Elder,
  • Pliny the Younger

You might also try persons who referenced famous persons from the first century in works that referenced say Philo or Gamaliel, etc., even though they died before the Temple was destroyed. The same would go for biographies of the Romans or their military exploits that might reference:

  • Herod Agrippa
  • Cestius Gallus
  • Gessius Florus
  • Nero,
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    ,
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    ,
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    , and
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    . (the 5 Roman Emperors between 66 and 70)

Then you might try to find references in or about the writings of any of the following historians who might have mentioned something by chance up to within a 100 years of the Jerusalem event:

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    , (fl. 41–69), Roman history
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    (c. 60–70), Greek history
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    (c. 40 – c. 115 AD), history of the Getae
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    (c. 56–120), early Roman Empire
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    (c. 46–120),
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    of important Greeks and Romans
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    (fl. 100), history of the Getae and the Dacian Wars
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    (c. 69 – after 122), Roman emperors up to the Flavian dynasty
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    (c. 160 – c. 230), biographer of Roman emperors
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    (fl. c. 230), history of Greek philosophers
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    (c. 160 – c. 240), early Christian

The many Jewish and Jewish Christian writings to check during this period could include those with dates on them that fit the period, as seen on earlyjewishwritings.com and earlychristianwritings.com. Note that the dates are usually considered to be "scholarly" dates, not the dates that Christians assign to them when it comes to the actual NT writings. That requires a whole new discussion, but for now, those writings to check would include the following:

(Excuse the formatting issues below. I just copied them from a portion of the list at earlychristianwritings.com. It's a couple years worth of reading. I haven't completed more than a few of them, but have found nothing yet about the flight to Pella/Perea/Decapolis in any of them. The list of writings becomes much longer if you include Christian-related writings all the way up through the 300's when Eusebius and Epiphanius wrote.)

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@JW Insider   Um yes, well i suppose I asked for that didn't I.

And top of your list is the only one that i have in hard copy.

I have a soft cover Enlarged type - Illustrated, Complete Works of Josephus. Of which i have only 'dabbled' in the Antiquities Of The Jews and noted in chapter nine the  mention of the stoning of James, brother of Jesus.

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Did you once say of me, that I trusted no one ? (Sorry if I'm mis-quoting you)

However, the first item I looked at, 

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Quote :-

1 Timothy is one of the three epistles known collectively as the pastorals (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus)

Norman Perrin summarises four reasons that have lead critical scholarship to regard the pastorals as inauthentic (The New Testament: An Introduction, pp. 264-5):

The letters as reflecting the characteristics of emergent Catholocism. The arguments presented above are forceful, but a last consideration is overwhelming, namely that, together with 2 Peter, the Pastorals are of all the texts in the New Testament the most distinctive representatives of the emphases of emergent Catholocism. The apostle Paul could no more have written the Pastorals than the apostle Peter could have written 2 Peter.

I hope you see my point about not trusting anyone. I think one needs the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know truth from lies.

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Backtracking if you please. What I'm looking to find out is, is there any proof of a  'governing body' 'group of Apostles / Older men' after 70 C. E. ?

I will have to re-read 1,2, 3, of John as they were the last writings included in the Holy Scriptures. 

But, another question. From 70 C. E. did the congregations that were already formed, act independently of one another ? 

Is a list of congregations that had been formed available, apart from those mentioned in God's Word ?

The GB & Writing Dept of Watchtower / CCJW  is central control. All congregations now follow the 'rules' from central control.  But was there such a central control of the 1st Century congregations ?  

And I'm still puzzled as to why the Apostle Paul was chosen to be the one to write to the congregations. 

Also as Paul was put to death in 68, I would have thought there would have been other writings to the congregations to encourage them at that time. 

Which brings me to the point (and I admit to not knowing ) Who chose the writings to be included in the 'Holy Scriptures' ? But i will do so research on that. 

If the GB are a representation of the 12 Apostles / Older men in Jerusalem, then who is the representation of the Apostle Paul ?  Because it would seem that Paul was independent of those in Jerusalem. 

It's just a thought. 

 

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4 hours ago, 4Jah2me said:

I'm still not sure if you've answered my questions written in blue.  Please bear with me as at 70 years old i find it difficult to hold information in my mind and to process it well.

The questions in blue were as follows:

On 2/23/2020 at 11:39 AM, 4Jah2me said:

So what proof do we have of a 'governing body' 'group of Apostles /Older men' from the time that the 12 left Jerusalem in around 66 C. E. ?

 

On 2/23/2020 at 11:39 AM, 4Jah2me said:

And why were they not used to write letters to the Congregations ?  Did they stay together as a 'body' or did they separate ?

There is no proof or reason to believe that the apostles themselves survived as a group until 66. The book of Acts discontinues the use of the phrase "The Twelve" very early in the narrative, and it's probably no coincidence that Acts stops referring to the apostles in Jerusalem at about the time it brings up that Herod killed one of them, James, and then immediately went after Peter. After the apostle James is killed (the brother of John) we never hear about any of the original "Twelve" again except for Peter and John. Tradition has Peter and Paul killed in the 60's, and only John surviving past the 70's. Early Christian writers like Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias, all give credence to the idea that John survived until about 96 to 100 CE. None of them mention any others as apostles except Paul and Peter who are considered to have died decades earlier.

You mentioned James, Jesus' brother, who is mentioned by Josephus, providing a context that would put his death about 62, although Epiphanius apparently thought he died at age 96, and Hegesippus is used to point to a date around 69 CE.

Jesus had only asked the apostles to stay in Jerusalem until the outpouring of the holy spirit, which would have been Pentecost, just a couple months after Jesus died. Acts speaks of them staying on a bit longer to take care of some problems of prejudice by Jews against non-Jewish Christians, and therefore making some assignments to make sure the non-Jewish Christians were treated fairly. But after mentioning the assignment of Stephen and the missionary work of Philip and his daughters, there is no more mention of the apostles. But the Jerusalem congregation was still considered to be led by "pillars" who had a lot of respect, just as Paul mentions in Galatians. Paul does not consider them to be a "governing body" however. But he did respect their decisions, even if he considered some of them as wrong. Paul directly contradicts their decision about eating meats that had been sacrificed to idols, which might even throw some question about Paul's stance on eating meats that had not been bled correctly. But Paul definitely supports the stance of the elders in Jerusalem on fornication and idolatry, of course.

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1 hour ago, 4Jah2me said:

Did you once say of me, that I trusted no one ? (Sorry if I'm mis-quoting you)

I was only quoting you. It's something that J.B. had said about three times, and I wasn't surprised when 4J said the same thing.

1 hour ago, 4Jah2me said:

The apostle Paul could no more have written the Pastorals than the apostle Peter could have written 2 Peter.

Yes, you have to be very careful whom you trust on such matters. Some of these ideas are based on a belief that Paul would not have changed his instructions as the congregations matured. Paul's stance against legalism for example doesn't seem to fit his "rules" about how to identify a deserving widow. Or specific sets of rules about who can be an elder or a ministerial servant. This does not mean that the letters were not "Pauline" however, but it does mean that we should look carefully at why certain statements appear to contradict earlier letters.

The case of 2 Peter is a little more serious. It could have been taken from Peter's own writings and turned into a useful letter for the congregations based on earlier letters, but this particular letter was not accepted as Peter's own writings by several early Christian writers. Even Eusebius (300) didn't think it belonged in the canon, although it was always generally admitted that its doctrinal content was exactly what Peter would have written. There is even a good chance that it was Peter's own content, but that many Christians of the time didn't believe it because they didn't like the idea that it implied that it might be another thousand years or so from then when the parousia would actually arrive. At any rate, there is nothing significant in 2 Peter that cannot be found in other Bible books, and the part about the parousia being delayed by another thousand years has been proved true.

This is not the topic with which to discuss the canon, or authenticity, but you will see a lot of this when looking to match historical information with early Christian writings, so it can't be totally avoided.

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Quote @JW Insider  " This is not the topic with which to discuss the canon, or authenticity, .. "

Are you suggesting another topic to discuss such or are you saying we should not discuss such ?

I'm becoming of the opinion that there was NO 'Governing Body' of the 1st Century Christians. And that with the deaths of the Apostles and with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C. E. there was NO central form of 'rulership' over the Congregations of Christians of that time. 

Galatians 1, v 15 through 20

But when God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through his undeserved kindness, thought good 16  to reveal his Son through me so that I might declare the good news about him to the nations,

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 I did not immediately consult with any human;
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17  nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was, but I went to Arabia, and then I returned to Damascus.
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18  Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to visit Ceʹphas, and I stayed with him for 15 days. 19  But I did not see any of the other apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. 20  Now regarding the things I am writing you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.

I also read this account by Fred Franz 

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Which seems to make it clear that Jesus was not working through a central 'rulership' or GB at the time of Paul's missionary work.

""And they [members of the Antioch congregation] laid their hands upon Paul or Saul and Barnabas and sent them forth, as a number of translations read, sent 'em forth! And then they went forth by the Holy Spirit operating through the Antioch congregation and they went out on their first missionary assignment. So you see, the Lord Jesus Christ was acting as the head of the congregation and taking action directly, without consulting any body here on earth what he could do or what he could not do! And he acted in that way with regard to Saul and Barnabas, an they were both apostles of the Antioch congregation, and so they went out to the work and had great success..."

No matter what personal opinions people have of Fred Franz, his words above (if the quote is correct) seem to make good sense. 

The fact that there is a Governing Body of the Watchtower and CCJW is just a fact. But to try to say that they are based on a first century 'Governing Body' seems to be lies. There is no proof of any 1st Century Governing Body at all. 

So, the question remains, Did each congregation rule itself ?  This quote from FF above concerning Antioch seems to say that Antioch made it's own decisions whilst being guided by Holy Spirit. 

I can see that i need to do much more research. 

 

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4 minutes ago, 4Jah2me said:

So, the question remains, Did each congregation rule itself ?  This quote from FF above concerning Antioch seems to say that Antioch made it's own decisions whilst being guided by Holy Spirit. 

It would seem that the personal goal of persons like Paul, Peter, and John was to get congregations to a point where they would reach that level of maturity. But we see Paul continuing to "shepherd" the congregation, as a kind of "long distance" elder. He is to those congregations what the "governing body" seems to be to current Witness congregations.

John, in Revelation, writes to congregations with an idea that Jesus handles each congregation directly, and that they have been "on their own" under the direction of Jesus. They have a need to recognize this direct authority of Jesus, as they make decisions locally about who/what to listen to, and who/what to avoid. (Revelation 2&3).

It seems as though the apostles and older men of the first century did indeed act like a kind of governing body (not just in Jerusalem, but in Antioch, and anywhere that Paul, Titus, Timothy, etc. might have served from). But by the time John wrote, it was important to have more reliance on the holy spirit, and the FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets, who had already been inspired to write the Biblical guidance which came to be seen as the primary content of the scriptural canon. So you can't really get mad at people who wish to imitate these shepherds from the first century to shepherd the congregations today. But you can also see a need for a balanced view since the goal should also continue to be guiding all to rely directly on the words of the Bible already written. Teaching the congregations to be guided by the holy spirit is a more difficult concept because, to most of us, it just means following the Bible, which is our only sure and consistent source of guidance by holy spirit.

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