Seven Zeroes of the New Testament
Most Bible students are familiar with some of its key numbers. For example, the number forty is key to the flood, the life of Moses, the Israelites in the wilderness, the fasting of Jesus, and other Bible events. Twelve was the number of sons of both Ishmael and Jacob. It was also the number of apostles, the age of Jairus’ daughter, and the number of the baskets collected after the feeding of the five thousand. There are other numbers we could talk about, but have you ever thought about zeroes in the New Testament? Since the mathematical concept of zero did not develop until centuries later, the word zero is not mentioned in the New Testament, but there are some things commonly found today that are conspicuously absent from the New Testament.
Recitations of the Hail Mary
For many the term Hail Mary means no more than a long pass attempted at the end of a football half, but to millions more the Hail Mary, or Ave Maria, is an important element of their religious devotion. In conjunction with this we want to make two observations: 1) Mary truly was a special lady (Luke 1:28, 41-45, 46-48); 2) despite its casual usage by football announcers, many who recite the Hail Mary take it quite seriously. That being said, there is not a single reference to praying the Hail Mary in the New Testament. While some of the phrases that make up the Hail Mary are in the New Testament, they are never found in one collected verse as a prayer to be recited. In fact, there is not a single specific reference to Mary after Acts 1. As Acts relates the story of apostolic preaching, and then as we read the letters to the various churches and individuals, not only do we never read of the Hail Mary, we do not read of Mary at all.
References to Peter (or Anyone Else) as Pope
Though millions of people believe the papacy began with Peter, there is no evidence of this to be found in the New Testament. Peter was a married man (Matthew 8:14) who refused to allow Cornelius to worship him (Acts 10:25, 26), and described himself to some simply as a “fellow elder,” not their Holy Father (1 Peter 5:1). You may read about Peter the Pope outside the New Testament, but you will not find a single mention of such within its pages.
Preachers Called by the Title of Reverend
Reverend has become the common title placed before the name of preachers, but there is no scriptural basis for doing this. Most Bible translations do not contain the word, but it is found in Psalm 111:9 of the King James Version where it applies to the name of God. It is an honorable thing to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:15), but such does not earn one a title of exaltation. Let us all heed the warning given to the disciples in Matthew 20:26, 27—“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave.”
Women Preaching to the Assembled Church
While women were involved in spreading the good news about Jesus Christ (Acts 8:4; 18:26; 21:8, 9), it is clear that when the whole church was gathered the women were to keep silent (1 Corinthians 14:23, 34, 35). In another place Paul, based upon the order of creation and the nature of the first sin, stated that women were never allowed to teach in positions of authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11-14). It may seem odd in our twenty-first century culture, but the number of women preachers in the New Testament was zero. Does the cultural shift today give us the right to change that number?
Instrumental Music in the Worship of the Church
There are many references to instrumental music in the worship of the Old Testament, both in 1 Chronicles and the Psalms, but none in the New Testament. Since we find several references to singing (e.g. 1 Cor. 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), but none to playing in the New Testament, doesn’t their frequent Old Testament mention make the New Testament zero all the more conspicuous?
While millions of people today were baptized as infants, there is not a single mention of this practice in the New Testament. First century baptisms were for those old enough and mature enough to believe, repent, and commit their lives to the Lord (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:18, 19). While some households are said to have been baptized (e.g. Acts 16:33, 34), not all families then or now include infants. In fact, the only time age is indicated about the subjects of baptism is in Acts 8:12 where we read, “…both men and women were baptized.” If the New Testament number of infant baptisms was zero, why should there be any today?
People Saved by the Sinner’s Prayer
Countless millions have been told to pray the Sinner’s Prayer, but not a single apostle of Jesus Christ ever gave similar instructions. Peter responded to the question of what should be done with an exhortation to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37, 38). After having seen the Lord in a vision Paul spent three days praying, only to be told, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Instead of reciting a prayer that is never found in the New Testament, shouldn’t we do what the Savior said in Mark 16:16? “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”
Why are so many New Testament zeroes found in great numbers today? While many answers to that question could be given, we are confident no good answer will be found. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8, 9).
All quotations from the New King James Version, copyright 1994 Nelson Publishing Company.