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By Mark W. Swarbrick
The Dangers of the Swaggart Bible
Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has published their own bible, called the Expositor’s Study Bible. Typically Biblical commentaries are written and compiled by a council of scholars and theologians. In the case of the Swaggart Bible, all the commentary is written by Jimmy Swaggart, who is himself a high school dropout. Consequently the work suffers from a lack of scholarship resulting in a number of heretical and strange teachings throughout the commentary.
An Altered King James Version
The work is purportedly based upon the King James Version, however the actual biblical text of the Expositor’s Study Bible has been altered by Swaggart and is not a pure King James Version. The change is in capitalization. Modern bible versions often use capitalization to signify deity, such as the word “He” will be in capitals if it refers to God or Jesus. This is an accepted and expected practice today. The original King James Version does not use this signifier. However Swaggart’s version does, but not just for deity, but for any word that Swaggart wants to elevate and this he does often, apparently at whim. For example “Cross” is always capitalized, giving the impression that “cross” should be deified.
Commentary Added in the Midst of Holy Scripture
A disturbing characteristic is that Swaggart has not put his notes on the side or bottom of the page as all other commentaries do, but has placed his comments right in the text itself so that it is impossible to read the Bible without reading his intrusive commentary with every sentence. Many people feel this is an intentional arrogant elevation of Swaggart’s comments to make them on a par with scripture. Whether that was intended, only God can judge, but it certainly gives that impression and is an offense against common decency and respect of the Holy Scripture.
Swaggart’s Words in Red
To make matters worse, instead of the words of Jesus being in red, Jimmy Swaggarts words are in red. It gives one the impression that Swaggart considers his words to be on a par with those of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you consider Swaggart’s constant claims to hear from God, that God told him this or that, and his oft repeated references to his new revelation from God that gave him “more light than the church has previously known,” one wonders if he actually considers himself on the same level, or even above, one of the original apostles. Combine that with his words in red, and it certainly raises some eyebrows.
Below is a page that shows what the Jimmy Swaggart Bible looks like. Note how difficult it is to read God’s Word without being forced to read Swaggart’s commentary.
The Apostle Paul was Defeated by Sin
One of the most dangerous teachings found in the Swaggart Bible is that, according to Swaggart, the Apostle Paul was continually overcome by sin while he ministered the gospel and wrote scripture, and that Paul did not understand the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross, and in fact, none of the other apostles understood it either. In short, the apostles didn’t know what they were talking or writing about. Jimmy Swaggart claims a special divine revelation of God about the cross and that God has called and ordained Jimmy Swaggart Ministries to bring this new revelation to the world.
It should be obvious to any Christian the heretical nature of this teaching and that, if embraced, would bring one to have a lower regard for the Scripture and instead pay more attention to Jimmy Swaggart; the prophet with a new revelation.
Let us now examine Swaggart’s words. The following excerpts are from the Swaggart Bible, Romans Chapter 7. Note how Swaggart alleges that Paul, as a Christian, could not stop sinning because he did not have a basic understanding of the cross:
The Apostle Paul Did Not Understand the Cross
This is the most dangerous tenet of Swaggartism: That Paul, the author of most of the New Testament, did not understand one of the most basic elements of Christianity; Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross and how that applies to our lives.
Let us now summarize Swaggart’s teachings in the above passages:
- After the Apostle Paul was saved he found himself unable to resist sin and live for God
- The Apostle Paul did not understand the cross and thus did not know what he was talking about when he wrote about the cross.
- Paul continually sinned because he did not understand the cross
- All of the other apostles had the same problem, they didn’t understand the cross either.
- The Apostle Paul had just been saved when he wrote the book of Romans.
Those five allegations are made by Swaggart in the above passages. Look them over carefully and see that such is indeed what Swaggart claims. Now let us consider the implications of Swaggart’s teaching. If the Apostle Paul (or any other apostle) didn’t know what he was talking about in regard to such a basic Christian doctrine, then why should we consider the Bible reliable? Protestant Christians have always maintained that the Bible is our only rule for faith and practice. If one follows Swaggart’s ideas to their natural conclusion, one would conclude that one must have Swaggart’s revelation to go along with the Bible in order for it to be understood. And that theorem takes one into the realm of cultic delusion.
It should be noted also that it is a fact of history that the Epistle to the Romans was written by Paul at least ten years after his conversion. I quote from the Encyclopedia Wikipedia, “For ten years before writing the letter (approx. 47–57), Paul had traveled around the territories bordering the Aegean Sea evangelizing.” Thus Swaggart’s statement that Paul had just been saved when he wrote this is completely erroneous.
It begs the question: How does Jimmy Swaggart know that all of the apostles did not understand the cross of Christ? This is what he alleges. How is it possible for a man living in the 21st century to know what people thought or believed in the 1st century? There are only two ways: One, he perceived it from reading the writings of these men in the Bible, or two, it was revealed to him by God.
Let us examine the first one; that he perceived it in their writings in the Bible. In that case, he would be saying that he found the instruction of the Bible incomplete and insufficient and is considering his enlightenment above the Holy Scripture. That is clearly a heretical statement.
Now let us examine the second; that he had a divine revelation from God. Consider what that revelation would consist of – a revelation that God’s Word is inaccurate or insufficient in some way. Again, that is heresy. Such a position is an impossible conundrum, for how can God declare that his own Word was deficient?
God Has a Body
Expositor’s Study Bible, Exodus 33:23 —
Expositor’s Study Bible, Deuteronomy 4:16 —
Expositor’s Study Bible, Exodus 33:23 —
We find in the commentary the odd teaching that God the Father has a body, and that the Holy Spirit also has a body. In another place Jimmy Swaggart has expounded further saying, “I do not believe His body is omnipresent. I believe His body is in one place at one time, wherever that may be.”
This is clearly unbiblical. Jesus taught that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” (Luke 24:39). Furthermore, that God is omnipresent (everywhere at once) has always been maintained by the church. The principle is seen clearly in Psalms 139:7-10, 17-18, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” In Hebrews 4:13 we read that “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
It should be noted that Swaggart’s concocted term “spirit body” is an oxymoron. The words, “spirit” and “body” are mutually exclusive and opposite terms. It is a phrase and a concept nowhere found in scripture. It should also be noted that the phrase “spirit body” is the exact phrase used by Mormonism, which also maintains that God has a body.
Swaggart’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:2 –
The idea that heaven is a planet in our universe is not a Biblical teaching. Historic orthodox Christianity has maintained that God exists in eternity outside of time and space. The universe as God’s creation exists within the constraints of the space-time continuum. God is above and beyond those constraints.
The Bible speaks of a first heaven which is the atmosphere surrounding the earth. The second heaven is the universe of stars. The third heaven is the heaven of another realm where God is and where Christians go when they die. Swaggart’s theology is convoluted in that it takes the third heaven and tries to place it within the second heaven.
God’s abode in heaven (the third heaven) is a place of eternal perfection without decay. However this universe, the second heaven, is a place of imperfection that is subject to corruption and decay as evidenced in the second law of thermodynamics, wherein everything in the universe is running down. Scripture declares that the present heavens and earth are temporary and that “the heavens will be destroyed by burning” (2 Pe 3:12) and “by his word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire,” (2 Pe 3:7) and “earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.”(Rev 20:11)
Swaggart’s theology would place God’s heaven within the corrupted and temporary universe that He created. The truth is God’s heavenly paradise is outside this corrupt and dying universe. It is beyond this realm, beyond this space and time, it exists in God’s perfect eternity.
Heaven is North
Another interesting aberration are the numerous heterodox conclusions which Jimmy Swaggart expounds. For example – his teaching that heaven is “north.” In Psalms 75:6 of the Swaggart Bible we read:
Swaggart seems oblivious to the context of the passage, which is not the location of heaven, but rather that Israel should not be prideful nor look to another nation to exalt them, but to look to God for deliverance and help. The phrase “east, nor from the west, nor from the south,” is just a poetic way of saying no other people can render assistance. The omission of north, if it means anything at all, may be that Israel’s enemies were from the north, and thus they would not normally look that way for help. In any event, there is simply nothing in the context to indicate that the omission of north means that God’s throne or heaven is in the north.
The four directions pertain to the earth only and are nonsensical in space or even outside of creation. So how does Swaggart think that heaven is in the north? Indeed this is a bizarre pronouncement. Biblically heaven is referred to by the Apostle Paul as the “third heaven,” the first heaven being where the birds fly, the second heaven being the sun, moon and stars, and the third heaven beyond all the creation of the “heavens and earth.” Ephesians 4:10 speaks of the Lord having “ascended higher than all the heavens.” Historic orthodox Christian theology has always maintained that the earth, indeed the entire stellar universe, are part of creation, and that God, his throne, and heaven are outside of this creation, thus rendering an earthly geographical “direction of heaven” nonsensical.
One wonders exactly what Swaggart means by north. He believes that heaven is a planet and that it lies somewhere to the north. North from where? Does he mean a line in space drawn from South Pole to North Pole? Or is it north from Israel? That would be a line at an entirely different angle into space. And whichever line you choose, it would still point to vastly different areas of space depending upon when you draw that line, for nothing involved is stationary. The earth wobbles on its axis, constantly changing the direction of the line. The solar system is also moving at a speed of 828,000 Km/Hour as it orbits around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. And the Milky Way Galaxy itself, is part of a “cluster” of galaxies that rotate around their core, as do all galaxies, while simultaneously all galaxies are moving away from each other due to the expansion of the universe.
As can be seen, trying to make a direction of north outside of planet earth leaves you with a ridiculously bizarre hodge-podge of inane impossibilities; the kind of nonsense you might find in a commentary written by a high-school drop-out.
A god who has a body and lives on a planet that lies to the north is a god that is more akin to the god of Greek mythology or of Mormonism, than to the God of Christianity.
Believers of Little Worth
According to Jimmy Swaggart, if you have not received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, then you are of little worth to the Kingdom of God. Swaggart’s commentary on Luke 24:49 says:
So think of all the pastors and men of God you know or have ever known. If they have not spoken in tongues they are of little worth to the Kingdom of God, or so says Swaggart. Consider the implications: Billy Graham is of little worth, so also: C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, John Knox, Dwight Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday and John Wesley. None of these spoke in tongues. So all these, according to Swaggart, are “of little worth to the Kingdom of God.” And this list could go on and on of people that did great things for God, yet Swaggart claims they are of little worth. That is not the teaching of Pentecostal churches and clearly the Jimmy Swaggart Bible speaks fables.
Denigrating God’s Word
Consider these facts: In the Swaggart Bible, Swaggart’s words are mixed in the context of scripture, Swaggart’s words are in red, and Swaggart claims that the apostles lacked a basic understanding of the gospel, for he said that “no one else at that time understood the cross.” Swaggart is saying that approximately a dozen years after the Lord’s resurrection, no apostle had an understanding of the gospel that is equal to Swaggart’s.
All of these things tend to make one think that Swaggart considers his knowledge to be above the Bible. Add to that the fact that Jimmy Swaggart constantly says that God has spoken to him and given him a revelation that is new to the church. The case is strong that Swaggart wants people to hold his own writings above the Bible. Would he admit to that? Probably not. Does he consciously or unconsciously want his followers to put their faith in him? Do his followers unwittingly follow his teaching instead of the Bible? Most certainly.
Further evidence of Swaggart’s denigration of the Bible is found throughout the commentary. For example, there are many occurrences of the phrase “should read.” Swaggart is constantly correcting the Word of God, saying a certain passage should read other than what it does when there is no grammatical or linguistic reason. To wit:
One can do a search for “should read” in the electronic version of his bible and see page after page of “should read.” It seems that when the Bible says something he doesn’t like he just inserts his “should read” wherever he fancies.
Not only does he find fault with the words of scripture he also argues with the King James Translation itself. Jimmy Swaggart has gone on record that he believes the King James Version is the most accurate translation, (such a premise is easily dismissed) yet even so, Swaggart finds fault with the King James Translation. Over one hundred times he states, “should have been translated,” or “would have been better translated.”
In some cases the suggested translation by Swaggart makes no sense in that there is nothing in the original Greek or Hebrew as a basis for the change. In fact in many instances Swaggart’s suggested translation is at variance to all other English translations. One wonders at the audacity of one who considers himself above the combined scholarship behind the translation of the KJV, NASB, and NIV. Since Swaggart is not a Greek or Hebrew scholar, it begs the question; on what basis does he make such bold claims?
In other cases Swaggart’s suggested translation is in harmony with the NASB and the NIV. In fact there are so many cases like this that one wonders why he considers the KJV superior to them. If the KJV is supposed to be so much better, why does he then so often favor the modern translation’s rendition?
The Gap Theory
Dake Publishing sued Jimmy Swaggart Ministries for copyright infringement and plagiarism. The suit alleges that Swaggart had “wrongfully taken and used plaintiff’s proprietary works for their own benefit and profit.” One of the teachings borrowed from the Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible is what is known as the Gap Theory. The gap theory purports that there is a great age gap of millions of years between verse one and verse two of Genesis. This theory has been often used in an attempt to harmonize the Bible with the millions of years postulated by evolutionists. The theory usually incorporates the idea of mankind populating the earth before Adam, referred to as a pre-adamite race.
Genesis 1: 26 Expositor’s Bible. —
This error is resultant from using the KJV, which is not always accurate in its rendition to current English. The Hebrew word translated as “replenish” in the KJV is male (pronounced Maw-lay) in the original Hebrew and it means simply “fill” and thus it is so translated in every modern version. For an in-depth analysis see the website given in the footnote.
The strange idea of a mysterious race of men before Adam, as Swaggart teaches, is contrary to scripture. 1 Corinthians 15:45 declares that Adam was “the first man.” That clinches it, but there is more: The Bible declares unequivocally (Romans 5:12; 8:20-22) that death entered the world by the sin of Adam. Thus it is impossible for a race of men to die before Adam since death came by Adam, unless of course you want to believe that the Bible contradicts itself. And if that weren’t enough, Jesus confirms that Abel’s lifespan was at the “beginning of the world,” when he said “…since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, (Luke 11:50-51). All of these things make the idea of humans on earth before Adam a totally umbilical proposition.
Animosity Toward the Church
Jimmy Swaggart has always been one not to hesitate to attack others, but after his denomination defrocked him in 1989 he has viciously spewed forth his vitriol against the church, especially the Assemblies of God. The Assemblies of God defrocked Swaggart in 1989 for refusing to accept counseling and discipline by the church after it came to light that he had been visiting prostitutes for many years. Swaggart referred to his former denomination as a cult and alleged that some of its leadership were “in league with pornographers.”
The Expositor’s Bible is filled with statements denigrating the church, for example:
Expositor’s Study Bible, Leviticus 5:17 —
One merely needs to do a search of the electronic Kindle version of the Expositor’s Study Bible for the phrase, “modern church” and you will find numerous entries that malign the church. Below is a chart showing what Swaggart alleges against the church along with the electronic location number where that commentary can be found.
The Modern Church According To Swaggart
- Has no fear of God – Location 30047
- Has a false insincere heart – Location 28850
- Ignores the will of God – Location 30014
- Is not hearing and obeying – Location 30528
- Is in a dilemma– Location 30568
- Does not listen to today’s “true prophets of God.” – Location 30571
- Ignores and repudiates the cross. – Location 30912
- Compromises with evil – Location 32100
- Abounds with false prophets – Location 32158
- Is an apostate church – Location 32178
- Cannot tolerate the truth – Location 32178
- Teaches people to seek humanistic psychologists– Location 32292
- Denies the cross – Location 32767
- Is full of uncleanness – Location 32947
- Laughs, scorns and mocks the message of the cross – Location 22044
- No longer cries to God ; instead, seek psychology – Location 33210
- Forgets the cross of Christ – Location 33897
- Does not understand justification by faith – Location 36244
- Is self-righteous – Location 39120
- Claims that the Bible is irrelevant to today’s problems – Location 39367
- Does not look to God – Location 40137
- Does not fear God – Location 40499
- Has a lack of faith in Christ – Location 41401
- Worships strange gods – Location 41615
- Does not seek the counsel of God – Location 42937
- Is materialistic – Location 42940
- Put its hope in man, not God – Location 43518
- Is a pleasure seeking church – Location 48758
- Has little regard for the word of God – Location 48771
- Holds services that are an abomination to God – Location 54018
- Has forsaken the word of God – Location 54303
- Is committing spiritual adultery – Location 54455
- Has left Christ – Location 61433
- Serves another Jesus – Location 61433
- Teaches the commandments of men – Location 73832
- Is spiritually asleep – Location 77390
- Is rotten and full of corruption and wickedness – Location 80125
- Has forsaken Christ and made peace with Satan – Location 80305
- Operates with the power of Satan – Location 85996
- Does not have the power of God – Location 85494
- Does not pray – Location 86595
- Follows the Old Testament law for salvation by works – Location 89126
- Does not understand the cross – Location 89128
- Has denied the cross
- All true believers should leave the church – Location 95717
- Has abandoned the cross – Location 98471
- Is spiritually blind – Location 99487
- Is in rebellion against God’s divine order – Location 99493
- Follows cunningly devised fables – Location 99493
In Matthew 16:18 we see that Jesus stated that “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” According to Swaggart, Jesus must have been wrong, for a church that is rotten, full of corruption and wickedness and is guilty of all the other things that Swaggart alleges, would certainly be a church that has succumbed to the gates of hell.
The Expositor’s Study Bible is based on an altered King James Version with intrusive commentary inserted within the actual biblical text, rather than the accepted practice of placing it in the margin. The commentary is in red instead of the words of Jesus.
This study bible teaches that the Apostle Paul, after he was converted to Christ, found himself continually overcome by sin and unable to live for God. The commentary claims that Paul did not understand the cross, nor did any of the other apostles. It further postulates that non-Pentecostals, or anyone who has not spoken in tongues is “of little worth in the Kingdom of God.” It proposes a pre-adamite race; that Planet Heaven is found in the earthly direction of north, that the Holy Spirit has a body, that God the Father has a body that is not omnipresent, and other strange unbiblical teachings.
Any writing that alleges that the apostles did not have a proper or complete understanding of the doctrines of Christianity is an attack upon Holy Scripture, for the apostles are the authority of the writings of the New Testament. Such an attack, is an attack against Christendom itself, and should be refuted with all diligence.
The commentary suffers from a lack of scholarship, as it was not written by a team of scholars but by one man, a defrocked minister who has not finished high school. There is a noticeable tension between the commentator and the Word of God, wherein the commentary frequently attacks the text of scripture with the admonition, “should have read,” and the translation is likewise derided with “should have been translated.” It leaves the reader with the impression, in certain passages, that the commentator would be happier if the Bible didn’t say what it says.
It is a Bible which appears to be written by one who has great animosity for the church, claiming that today’s church is Satanic, corrupt and apostate and that all Christians should abandon her. The Expositor’s Study Bible teaches, along with other cults, that hell has indeed prevailed against the Church, despite what Jesus said to the contrary.
The teaching that Paul was a sinner who did not have a proper understanding of the gospel is particularly egregious. Paul did not fail “again and again” in living for God and find himself powerless against sin, as Swaggart alleges. It would seem that the trauma and shame that Jimmy Swaggart has suffered as a result of his own well-known failings with prostitutes has brought upon himself a psychosis of counter-transference, wherein he projects his own unresolved conflicts and failings upon the people of scripture. If he can prove they failed, then he can feel better about his own failures. Misery loves company.
The fact is, the Apostle Paul did not suffer serious moral failure as Jimmy Swaggart has. Paul said, “I am conscious of nothing against myself…” (1 Co 4:4) and “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” (2 Timothy 4:7). These are not the words of a man defeated by sin.
Jimmy Swaggart can find solace through repentance and acceptance of Christ’s forgiveness solely on the merits of Christ’s shed blood at Calvary. He should not try to assuage his tortured conscience by attempting to drag the apostles down into the mire with him. It would seem, ironically, that it is Jimmy Swaggart who needs to come to the cross.
 Jimmy Swaggart, Questions and Answers (Baton Rouge: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, 1985), 199.
 In Swaggart’s book, “Brother Swaggart Here is my Question About the Cross,” Swaggart says, “Considering that this message is new to the church…”
 L.A. Times, March 16, 1991, F20.