Have a scriptural question? Check the Q&A Archive or write to our Bible expert: witheringtonb@staff.beliefnet.com.

In this column, Ben Witherington III answers questions about:
  • Women's roles at home and in society
  • Christian believers' "inheritance"
  • The kingdom of God
  • Satan in disguise
  • The journey of the Shinar in Genesis 11:2
  • Yeast vs. leaven
  • The translation of Jesus' name
  • Different creation stories
  • Psalm 139
  • God's other names
  • Versions of Adam and Eve's temptation
  • Paul's conversion story
  • Miracles of Jesus: To tell or not?

    I am 24 years old and have been married 3 years. About a year before I was married, my husband and I were in a terrible car accident. He was left disabled and I was forced to take on his role in our family.

    Is there any scripture showing that women of the Bible didn't always have to be completely womanly all of the time? We belong to a Pentecostal church and most of the women there won't even lift a box or anything heavy. They get the men to lift things and do things. My thinking is that I'd just rather do it myself because sometimes the men seem busy or I just don't feel like asking them. --Wisefam

    Anyone who takes this view of women working would have to ignore most of the Bible, where we find women doing all kinds of work usually thought of as men's work. For example, in the Book of Ruth we find women gleaning in the fields. In Judges we find women who are judges (Deborah). In the New Testament we have women who are business executives, such as Lydia (Acts 16), who runs a purple cloth business. There are many more such examples, not to mention texts like Acts 18, which tells of Priscilla and Aquila teaching a famous male apostle named Apollos.

    When the New Testament talks about the believer's "inheritance," is the inheritance going to heaven? Or is it what the believer will receive as a reward in heaven? --S.

    The references to inheritance vary, but none of them refer to inheriting heaven itself--that's a gift from God for those who trust God and his son Jesus. Sometimes the inheritance refers to something one will receive in heaven--a reward, for example. Sometimes the inheritance refers to something one will receive when Jesus comes back--a resurrection body, for example, or a special place in the kingdom when it comes to earth.

    What is the kingdom and heaven of God? Where can I find this in the Bible? --Angel B.

    If you read the first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you will find plenty of references to the kingdom. When the phrase is used in the present tense, it refers to the saving reign of God in someone's life. When it is spoken of in the future tense (when you hear about entering, obtaining, or inheriting the dominion), it refers to the place when God's rule will be perfectly manifested on earth when Jesus returns.

    My understanding is that the devil disguises himself in order to lure a human being into his trap. I believe the devil alters our perception of what we are doing and when he alters our brain we feel as if we are in heaven. Biblical sources of the devil disguising himself would be helpful. --Michelle

    Actually, there is nothing in the Old Testament about Satan disguising himself unless one counts the story in Genesis 2 about the snake. There is, however, the reference in 2 Corinthians 11:14 about Satan masquerading as an Angel of Light. One could also compare 2 Corinthians 11:3-5 about the problem of deception. To judge from the temptations Jesus was offered in Matthew 4:1-14, it is true that good things can be used to lead us away from God.

    My son and I were studying Genesis 11:2. When the people came to Shinar, did they come "from the east," as the King James Version records, or did they "journey eastward," as the New American Standard Bible and New International Version record?
    --Kathye S.

    It is probably the latter, but you need to understand that the original Hebrew has no vowel pointing. There are only consonants, and so there are various ways one could read the original text. Hence, the various translations.