2008 John H Mattox

    Two different Hebrew words in the Old Testament are translated by the English word ark; the words aron and tebah. Aron is also translated coffin and chest. When it is translated ark, it refers exclusively to the ark which was placed in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle. Tebah is translated only as ark, but refers to two entirely different objects. It is the Hebrew word for Noah's ark, and also for the ark of bulrushes in which the infant Moses was placed.

The Ark Of Noah (cont)

    The writer has previously shown that coffin is the proper meaning of the word aron; and that the ark in the Holy of Holies was intended to foreshadow the death of God, the Son, on behalf of guilty men. The word tebah must also denote a coffin, for the New Testament uses the same Greek word to refer both to the ark of Noah, and also to the ark of the covenant. See, for example, I Peter 3: 20, and Rev. 11: 19. The Greek word kibotos is used in both these passages, proving that to the inspired writers the basic meanings of these two words were identical. But we have even more positive evidence that the word tebah means coffin. In Koehler and Baumgartner's Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, the word tebah is listed as having two different meanings; the first being chest or coffin, and the second being palace or ark. However, in the supplement to this work, which comprises a separate volume, the second meaning is repudiated, and is said to be the same as the first. The exact words, as found on page 192 of the supplement are: "Vocabulum est idem ac I" [Word (II) is the same as I]. Thus, according to one of the latest, and most up-to-date, authorities on Hebrew, the word for Noah's ark and for the ark of Moses, primarily means coffin. But what is the theological import of this fact? It means that in order to live, Noah had to enter into the place of death, thus illustrating the principle declared by Jesus that if we seek to save our lives, we will lose them; and that if we lose our lives for his sake, we shall find them. The story of Noah's ark teaches us that in order to preserve our lives in the time of judgment, we must voluntarily enter into death. Those who do not die with Christ, must eventually die without him.
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The Ark Of Noah (cont)

    The ark of Noah also illustrates another truth regarding salvation: that the death of Christ not only saves us from suffering the penalty of everlasting death for our sins, but conveys us safely to the new creation. Having become dead to the old creation - the old order of things, the believer in Christ becomes a member of the new creation which Paul speaks of in II Corinthians 5: 17:

"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."

The word creature in this passage should be creation and the reader will note that, in the King James Version, the words he is are in italics; indicating that they have been supplied by the translators and that there is nothing in the Greek to correspond to them. Some modern translators, instead of supplying the words he is, have supplied the words there is; so that the passage reads:

"If any man be in Christ, there is a new creation."

This rendering, of course, does not deny that the man who is in Christ is a new act of creation; but rather shows that this newly-created one is a member of an entirely new creation, of which Christ Jesus is the firstborn and head. It is the believer's conveyance from the old to the new world, purged by the waters of judgment, which is pictured by the ark of Noah. As Noah was conveyed from the old creation to the new; so the believer, by identification with Christ in his death and resurrection, is judicially translated from the old creation to the new. As Noah was transported to the mountains of Ararat (holy ground) so the believer has been transported to heavenly places through his identification with Christ:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Eph. 2:4-6.

The phrase in Christ certainly denotes identification with him, for there can be no closer identification with Christ than to be in him.

John H Mattox

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