Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Refuting Shepherd's Chapel - Katabole

A couple of years ago I posted some videos on YouTube. In those videos I tried to show some of the errors of Shepherd's Chapel teachings. I also have a post on this blog where I briefly list and refute the false teachings of Arnold Murray. I believe more needs to be said to refute their claims more clearly. I have some posts that deal with their doctrine on Hell and Kenites (serpent seed) in more depth. In this post I want to discuss their doctrine of the Katabole and the Three Earth Ages.

One of the big oversights I can point out is how Shepherd's Chapel followers misuse the Greek word katabolē (Strongs #G2602). Using hyper-dispensationalist E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible, Arnold Murray weaves a false system of belief that there was an "earth age" before the one we live in now and in that age Satan rebelled and caused God to destroy it in what they call the "katabole" or the "destruction of the world that was".

In the New Testament, Arnold Murray claims that when the word katabolē is used in the Greek it is actually a mis-translation in the KJV and should be translated as "destroyed" or "overthrow". For example in Ephesians 1:4 when you see the word foundation (which in the Greek is the word katabolē) used in "before the foundation of the world" it should be translated as "before the overthrow (or destruction) of the world". This, to them, validates their aberrant doctrine.

In the New Testament the word katabolē is used 11 times. 10 of those times it is translated in the KJV as foundation. The other one is the most interesting to our discussion and it appears in Hebrews 11:11.
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11 KJV)
The word translated as conceive in this verse is the same Greek word katabolē that Shepherd's Chapel claims should be translated "overthrow" or "destroyed". This verse shows that the proper understanding of katabole does not follow Shepherd's Chapel view but instead is consistent with the traditional renderings.

In the other uses of katabolē in the New Testament it is translated as foundation and is always in connection with the world. In Hebrews 11:11 when the word is used in connection with the birth of a child it carries the meaning of conceive. When used in the connection with the world it carries the meaning of founding or creating (conceiving the world). It does NOT carry the meaning of destruction, overthrow, destroyed, or ruin in any circumstance. The use of "laying down" or "throwing down" is only correct in the connotation of laying a foundation or creating not in the sense of destroying or judgment.

In fact the proper Greek words used for "destruction" is apōleia (#G684) and the Greek for "overthrow" is either katastrophē (#G2692) or anatrepō (#G396). In Luke 6:49 we have the Greek word rhēgma (#G4485) used for "ruin". If Paul wanted to stress some sort of judgment, satanic overthrow, or ruined state he would have used one of those Greek terms.

A simple survey of how the word katabolē is used in the New Testament gives us a very clear understanding of its meaning.

All verses that use the Greek word katabolē in the New Testament:
Mat 13:35, Mat 25:34, Luk 11:50, Jhn 17:24, Eph 1:4, Heb 4:3, Heb 9:26, Heb 11:11, 1Pe 1:20, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8 
Here are some notes concerning the supposed "gap theory" of Genesis 1:1-2:

Shepherd's Chapel students often argue that the word translated as “was” in the KJV and most English Translations of Genesis 1:2 should actually be translated “became” as in “the Earth became formless and void.” This, to them, proves the supposed katabole.

This theory of creation is commonly called the gap theory and it suffers from a number of hermeneutical problems:

Time cannot be inserted between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 because verse 2 does not follow verse 1 in time. Verse 2 uses a Hebrew grammatical device that is called a waw-disjunctive. This is where a sentence begins with the Hebrew word for and (waw) followed by a noun such as the earth (erets). A waw-disjunctive indicates that the sentence is describing the previous one and does not follow in time. In other words, verse 2 is describing the conditions of the earth when it was first created. Hebrew grammar simply will not allow for the insertion of vast periods of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 in which a supposed satanic fall took place.

Exodus 20:11 clearly teaches that everything was created in the span of six literal days. This passage  refutes any possibility of vast periods of time between any of the days of creation. This theory suffers from the problem of death and suffering long before Adam’s sin. Romans 5:12 teaches that death came by Adam’s sin. God himself said on the sixth day that creation was very good (Gen. 1:31), how could it be very good if there was sin and death before the fall of Adam?

Another argument you may encounter when dealing with Shepherd's Chapel students is they will claim Isaiah 45:18 substantiates their view:
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:18 KJV)
The word in vain is the same Hebrew word tohu as used in Geneses 1:2 "without form". Shepherd's Chapel students will claim that God didn't create the earth tohu but it became tohu (that is it became tohu "vian / without form" by the Katabole). But we must look at the context. The context here requires us to translate tohu as "in vain" instead of "without form". Isaiah's point here is that God did not create the earth without a purpose; He formed the earth to be inhabited by man. Genesis chapter one goes on to tell us how God formed the earth and created man and living creatures to fill the earth. Genesis chapter one records for us the whole act of creation and it was not completed until after the 6th day. Isaiah is not saying that God didn't originally create the earth tohu "without form" on the first day, as Genesis 1:2 states, but that he didn't create it without a purpose. God didn't let the earth stay tohu but had a purpose and formed the earth for that purpose. The whole act of creation (from day 1-6) had a purpose and was not vain "tohu".

The word tohu is used in several places in the Old Testament and it is translated 10 different ways in those places. In the Hebrew language it depends on the context as to how to precisely translate a word. Tohu is no exception. In Genesis 1:2 the context shows that the earth had no form to it yet so tohu is use to describe this state. In Isaiah 14:18 tohu is use to show that the whole act of creation had a purpose and was not in vain. There is no contradiction and this verse does not prove there was an earth age prior to this one.

*updated 8/28/2015

Soli Deo Gloria! 


  1. EHHHH wrong! The origin definition of Katabole is Kataballo which, means to throw down (another word for overthrow).


    Original: καταβάλλω

    Transliteration: kataballō

    Phonetic: kat-ab-al'-lo

    Thayer Definition:

    to cast down
    to throw to the ground, prostate
    to put in a lower place
    to lay (down) a foundation
    Origin: from G2596 and G906

    TDNT entry: None

    Part(s) of speech: Verb

    Strong's Definition: From G2596 and G906; to throw down: - cast down, lay

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    2. Hello, You are simply ignoring the context and semantic domain of the Greek. It can can mean to 'throw down' or 'lay down' as in laying or putting down a foundation. It is never used in the Greek for judgment or destruction. You cannot ignore context like that. You still cannot explain your usage of Katabole in Hebrews 11:11 where it is used for conception. That is the same way it is intended to be used in Ephesians and other places where it means the conception or, like the KJV and most translations, foundation of the world. It is quite simple to see in the text that it is talking about creation not destruction in those verses.

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  3. Colby, I notice you called your blog reformed thinker - one of the chief doctrines that God has laid on my heart is premillennialism - I think the system generates every form of absurd prophetic interpretation imaginable. I am no longer of that position, I was just wondering how you feel and has the Lord ever brought the issue to your attention