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Chairs and Other Non-Biblical Concepts

November 7, 2014

Did you know that the word “chair” only features four times in the Bible; all of them in the Old Testament?1 That’s still better than “generator”, “guitar”, “trinity” or “personal relationship with God” – you won’t find any of those terms anywhere in any Bible translation!

Does that mean that those concepts are unbiblical? Not in itself; both culture and word usage change over time, and whether a particular word is used in the Bible depends on many factors. Generators obviously didn’t exist 2000 years ago! Chairs are just tools, necessary for certain actions (like sitting) but not divinely ordained. Musical instruments are quite common in the OT, and some are prescribed for worship; in the NT, worship accompanied by musical instruments is only found in the book of Revelation!

What about the other two? “Trinity” is a theological term that summarises something the Bible is clearly teaching, just not with a single term. If the Bible had just stated “God is three in one”, we might have just taken it as an abstract, incomprehensible doctrine and nothing else. Instead, the Bible shows us God at work, first mainly as Creator and Almighty Ruler; then as Jesus the Son coming into the world as the unique God-man; and then as the Holy Spirit indwelling each and every Christian. Rather than just giving us an abstract phrase, God demonstrates who he is through his actions – and then theologians came up with a word to sum it all up.

And the end result is that we can have a personal relationship with God – another phrase that sums up what the Bible teaches about being a Christian. We probably need chairs and generators, even though some might feel that we would be better off without guitars; but we can’t do without the Trinity, and we certainly can’t afford to miss out on the offer of knowing God personally!


1) This was written just as my church was deciding on new chairs for the church hall, which suggested the somewhat unusual topic. This was first written for our monthly church bulletin.


From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

  1. patchingcracks permalink

    Funny way of making a solid point. Really appreciate the clever way of presenting a theologically solid idea. Thanks.

  2. Thank you! Glad some people read what I post…

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