This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Pre-Sinaitic Sacrifices (Part 1)

In approaching the great sacrificial book of the Bible, it becomes necessary to survey, and briefly discuss, the sacrifices offered before the institutions of that legal code of ritualism contained in Leviticus. From Abel to Moses altars were built and victims flamed sending heavenward their “savour of sweet smell.” As the decalogue thundered forth from the summit of Sinai was not the first revelation of the moral law, so the Levitical system set up at the base of Horeb was not the first exposition of access to God by sacrifice.

As the Hebrews went forth from Egypt with the moral law written on their hearts to receive it engraven upon stone, so they entered the wilderness with the vague feeling that their God was to be approached by oblations — to receive in that wilderness a minute and elaborate code of sacrificial laws to be executed by a divinely-appointed priesthood.

The nature of the patriarchal sacrifices is still a question among theologians. Orthodox polemics generally deem it incumbent on them to demonstrate the expiatory character of these sacrifices, while the rationalistic school quite unanimously deny this as an unwarrantable assumption. Several evangelical writers take the same view. To neither party is there scriptural ground for dogmatism, for the sacred oracles are silent respecting the origin and nature of the early sacrificial offerings. Hence they go beyond the sacred record, who, in their zeal for orthodoxy, inform us that Cain’s sacrifice was rejected because there was no blood in it, betokening his need of the death of another as a satisfaction for his sin, while Abel’s was accepted because it had that vital element, rendering it pleasing to his Creator. Sacred history not only contains no such declaration, but it plainly intimates another cause for the difference between the two offerings. God expostulates with the wrathful fratricide, and explicitly declares that the imperfection of his offering lies in the moral state of the offerer: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” In Hebrews 11:4 the writer declares that Abel’s acceptableness was because of his faith, leaving us to infer that the lack of this element was the radical defect in Cain’s oblation. 

— Commentary on Leviticus.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Mosaic Authorship of Leviticus

The Mosaic authorship of Leviticus has been less questioned by modern critics than any other book of the Law. The Documentists, while finding, or fancying they find, evidences of the composite character of the book, are candid enough to admit that the principal part bears the stamp of the Mosaic age.

Says Bleek, a strong advocate of the documentary theory: 

As regards the union of different laws, and short collections of laws in our book of Leviticus, De Wette made out (Einleitung, first to fourth editions) that after Genesis and Exodus were composed, the various parts of Leviticus were added, generally by different compilers. This supposition, however, according to what has gone before, is quite inadmissible, and has been tacitly retracted even by De Wette himself in the fifth and sixth editions.
This recoil of the great German critic from the extremes of daring and unfounded assumptions against the Mosaic origin of the Levitical laws is a sufficient answer to the flippant assertion of England’s arithmetical bishop: 

Thus the whole of Leviticus appears to be of later origin, composed either during or after the captivity, some of the laws apparently by Ezekiel, and other portions probably by fellow-priests of the same age, who were anxious to establish a stricter ritual in Israel.

The last clause of this sentence suggests its answer. Puritan laws can be originated and enforced only in a Puritan age. The era of Moses was the Puritan age in the history of the Hebrews. The era of Ezekiel, by the admission of Colenso, was a degenerate age; and yet the prophet-priest and his associated forgers succeeded in interpolating into the fundamental constitution of their nation, out of their own fertile imaginations, the whole book of Leviticus! Of a declaration so absurd we cannot, with Horace, say, “Credat Judaeus,” for no true Jew, much less can any true Christian, so stultify himself as to give his assent to a statement so extraordinary. It involves a miracle greater than those believed by Jew or Christian. Rationalism always has been more credulous than orthodoxy.

— edited from Commentary on Leviticus.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Third Book of the Pentateuch

The third book of the Pentateuch was denominated by the Jews the  וַיִּקְרָ֖א (Vayikra), from the initial word, “And he called out.” Since the Seventy translated it into Greek it has been known in all the European languages by the name of LEVITICUS, from the prominent part in the sacrificial ritual performed by the sacerdotal tribe of Levi. But since the term Leviticus suggests the Levites, who are mentioned but once in the entire book, and then incidentally and proleptically, (Leviticus 25:32, 33,) in relation to the redemption of houses, we think that the Seventy applied a misnomer to this book. The Talmud, with less brevity but more truth, calls it, The Law of the Priests, and also, The Book of the Law of Offerings.

It is the rubric of that minute and burdensome system of sacrifices which Jehovah, in his wisdom, devised for the spiritual culture of the Hebrews, and for prefiguring “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The only historical portion is that relating to the consecration of Aaron and his sons, their first offering of sacrifice, the judicial death of Aaron’s two elder sons, Nadab and Abihu, (chap. 8-10:7,) and the arrest and execution of a blasphemer. Leviticus 24:10-23.

The space of time covered by this book is one month. For our data compare Exodus 40:17 with Numbers 1:1.

The cursory reader discovers no orderly arrangement of topics, but the patient student discovers deep underlying principles which give system and symmetry to the contents of the book. In addition to its great value in the interpretation of the New Testament, wholly written by persons of Jewish faith, and in elucidating their conception of Christian doctrine, especially the atonement, and of the exegesis of the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is a repository of Jewish antiquities. It is, moreover, a book deeply interesting to scientists, as containing the earliest classifications of zoology and ornithology, and a minute diagnosis of the dreadful scourge of the leprosy. The commingling of facts and laws of which the events are the occasion, as in the Book of Numbers, strongly confirms the genuineness of the book and the authenticity of its statements.

— Commentary on Leviticus

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Leviticus 1:2

"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock." — Leviticus 1:2 KJV.

If any man Not any Israelite merely. Numbers 15:14. Here we may discover an early provision for admitting heathen to the worship of Jehovah as proselytes of the gate. When the temple was built there was a court of the Gentiles into which they might bring their offerings.

Bring an offering Or,  קָרְבָּן   (qorbān). A generic term for any oblation, bloody or bloodless. The objection may arise that it is illogical to describe offerings before the consecration of the priests. Written constitutions always describe the duties of their officers before their election and inauguration. Despite the assertions of irreverent and superficial critics, the subject-matter of this book is arranged with consummate skill. The practice of bringing offerings to Jehovah is here tacitly assumed. The method of speaking of the offerings in the first three chapters, as if well known, so different from those described in Leviticus 4-7 , is one of the grounds of our discriminating between them as traditional and law-created. In the presence of the overshadowing polytheism of Egypt, the Hebrew sacrifices had probably been omitted or infrequent and secret, lest the religious feelings of the Egyptians should be offended by taking the life of animals sacred to them. Exodus 8:26.

Unto the Lord In the East a superior can be appropriately approached only by an introductory offering, or offering of access. Hence it would be exceedingly derogatory to the majesty of Jehovah, in the estimation of the people, to permit a breach of this immemorial usage. “None shall appear before me empty,” (Exodus xxiii, 15,) is a law of Jewish worship which, in spirit if not in form, St. Paul carried over into Christianity. 1 Corinthians 16:2.

Of the cattle בְּהֵמָ֗ה is a collective term for beasts as opposed to men. Keil takes the liberty of disregarding the disjunctive accent equal to a period in English, and translates it, “If any man brings an offering of cattle unto the Lord.” This is doubtless the meaning.

Of the herd The neat herd, or kine. Tame animals, in distinction from wild ones, and clean animals in distinction from unclean, were chosen. They were to be clean because He to whom they were offered is holy, and because some portion of all offerings, except the burnt offering and the sin offering of a priest and of the congregation, was to be eaten by the priest or the offerer.

Of the flock The small cattle, sheep or goats.

— Commentary on Leviticus.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Leviticus 1:1

"And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,..." —  Leviticus 1:1  KJV.


Lord. The Hebrew for “Lord” is Jehovah, a name recently disclosed in its fulness of significance. We shall use it instead of the more indefinite, generic appellative Lord.

Called… out The calling is as if with an audible voice. See note on Numbers 1:1. This is the sixth and last time this word is used in the Hebrew to indicate the method of communicating the Divine will to Moses, beginning at the burning bush. These important occasions are Exodus 3:4; Exodus 19:3; Exodus 19:20; Exodus 24:16; Exodus 34:6. The next and only person to whom God “called out” is the boy Samuel. 1 Samuel 3:4.

Tabernacle of the congregation Or, tent of meeting. Primarily, where Jehovah met Moses, and secondarily, where Moses met the Israelites. The word “congregation” in the Authorized Version misleads by conveying the impression that the chief use of the tabernacle was to contain the assembled people, like a modern church edifice. The Israelites, except the priests, were not allowed to enter. They could come only to the door of the holy place, the court of the priests. See the description of the newly erected tabernacle, Exodus 25-27. We cannot agree with Murphy that the tabernacle referred to here is the tent which Moses pitched without the camp afar off, probably on the slope of Mount Sinai, and called by the same name, “the tent of meeting.” The message now given to Moses is the first which ever resounded from the Divine Oracle within the tabernacle. Till now the glory of the Lord had so filled it that Moses was not able to enter. Exodus 40:35.

— Commentary on Leviticus.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

A Common Christian Language

 Jesus prays for his disciples: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NRSV)

The language of Christian feeling can never be successfully counterfeited. The language of the dry intellect, the language of the head, may be misunderstood. Hence wherever religion has consisted in theological dogmas alone, fierce strifes have arisen. But when the gospel has been addressed to men's hearts, and has been received by faith in its transforming power, the weapons of denominational warfare are cast away, and believers vie with one another in magnifying our common Saviour. Such, thank God, are the happy times upon which we have fallen. We live in a day when the Holy Spirit has come down upon the evangelical churches, and we now understand one another, because our hearts speak. In the eras of the warmest theological controversy this heart unison was not noticed amid the din and discord of clashing swords. Professor Shedd says that ‘Tried by the test of exact dogmatic statement there is a plain difference between the Arminian creed and that of the Calvinist; but tried by the test of practical piety and devout feeling, there is little difference between the character of John Wesley and John Calvin. The practical religious life is much more a product of the Holy Spirit than is the speculative construction of truth.' The advance of spirituality will be the advance of that unity for which Jesus prayed in his wonderful high-priestly prayer in the seventeenth of St. John. 

— Daniel Steele, Jesus Exultant (1899) Chapter 3.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Believers Cannot Sin

QUESTION: Explain 1 John 3:9: "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is begotten of God."

ANSWER: The verb "begotten" is in the Greek in the perfect tense, denoting the continuance of sonship. The verb "sin" is present, denoting not a single act, but a series of acts, a habit of sinning. He cannot be a sinner and a saint at the same time. Such a contradiction is an impossible character. In chap. 2:1: "If any (Christian) man sin (aorist denoting a single act) we have an advocate," etc. If any believer contrary to the tenor of his life under the pressure of some sudden temptation commits a sin, he is not to give up in despair, drop his oars and go over the Niagara of damnation, but to remember that he has a Friend at Court through whom he may find forgiveness. If he does not do this, but enters on a career of sinning, he is no longer a child of God, but a child of the devil, as 1 John 3:10 declares, and is on his way to the place where Judas is.

— From Steele's Answers p. 19.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Transforming Power of God's Love

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love each other, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." — I John 4:10-12 (NIV)

In Christ crucified we find the highest expression of God's love to sinful men. The most comprehensive sentence in the universe is comprised in three monosyllables, 'God is love.' Nature could not reveal this wonderful truth, men of the greatest wisdom and insight could not infer it from the physical world or from human history. There is too much suffering in the world to justify such an inference. It must be revealed by the Spirit of God, who searches the depths of His being. The Spirit inspired John to write the words 'God is love,' the demonstration of which he had contemplated at Golgotha.

Love is the only weapon that can conquer the rebellious will and transform the soul from sin to holiness. And divine love does this only when it awakens responsive love in the sinner's breast. If love alone could save sinners, every prodigal son who has a mother would be drawn immediately from his husks to his home a reformed man. As a parent's love alone cannot save the dissolute son or fallen daughter, so God's love alone, though deep as hell and wide as the world, can save no soul from the guilt and love of sin. But love that awakens love in return is a magnet that draws men from the lowest depths near the very gates of perdition up to the highest heaven. The sinner whom love cannot save God cannot save, for salvation is absolutely impossible without responsive love, the first throb of which is the first pulsation of spiritual life. He is born again, born from above, for, behold, he loveth.

He who has so hardened himself in sin as to lose the capacity to be inspired with love responsive to the love of God revealed on Calvary must perish. For God has no way of regenerating the sinner except by awakening in him love to himself. If love revealed in the greatest possible sacrifice cannot awaken love to God, nothing can enkindle this sacred flame. It is certain that omnipotence cannot change the heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Power cannot constrain love. Not the thunderbolt but the cross is the symbol of salvation. What a relief did Christianity experience when she shook off the dreadful doctrine of salvation through sovereign power and irresistible grace with a sledge hammer breaking down the door of the impenitent heart!

Herein is the secret of the rapid spread of the gospel going forth as an angel flying over all the world, not with a sword in her hand, but with a trumpet at her lips proclaiming God's love. Deny the vicarious atonement and we have an utterly impotent gospel. The churches which have tried this experiment have lost the light and warmth of evangelical truth, and have felt the chill, the frost, the death of mere naturalism. But wherever Christ crucified is preached as the Redeemer of the entire human race without one exception, and the Saviour of everyone who believes and receives the Holy Spirit, there is a quickening power which raises the dead to life and enkindles the fire of a quenchless zeal. Hence the cross of Christ becomes a live coal, which has touched myriads of dumb lips and made them eloquent to preach Christ crucified to all the world.

— From Jesus Exultant (1899).

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


"And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock." —  — Leviticus 1:1, 2 KJV.


In the unfolding of the Divine purposes Abraham has been isolated from his polytheistic kindred, and called to sojourn in the Land of Promise. His seed have been cast into the furnace of Egypt, and, by centuries of oppression, have been fused into a homogeneous mass now ready to be poured into the divinely prepared mould for the formation of a nationality unique and wonderful. Through a highway miraculously thrown up they have been led forth from Egypt to the foot of Sinai. Here, amid the display of all that is terrific in the elements, they have received two revelations the holiness of Jehovah and the expression of his will, in the most sublime and comprehensive code of moral laws that had ever been given to man. The purpose of both these revelations is to sanctify and elevate the nation. Both convince of sin. 

The Divine purity is a mirror wherein man may discover his moral defilements. The decalogue, by clearly drawing a fiery boundary between right and wrong by quickening the conscience and thrusting upon the unwilling soul a sense of guilt for its evil deeds, under the government of a holy God is now extorting the despairing cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The imperative demand of the hour through all that multitudinous host is a purgatory for their sins. For the law has entered disclosing their abounding offences. Romans 5:10.  That purgatory the merciful Lawgiver now prepares. 

An expiatory quality is now clearly developed in one of the familiar sacrifices, and others wholly propitiatory are to be instituted. The law drives the guilty to the blood. 

Commentary on Leviticus.