Friday, January 31, 2020

Works Of The Law And The Old Testament

In order to understand the NT phrase "works of the law" best, the exegete must first examine its usage in Judaism, especially in the OT and the intertestamental period. OT texts like Lev 18:3-4 speak of "works," but do not qualify the term with the phrase "of the law." However, as Ringgren points out, the contextual reference and contrast are significant: "When ma'aseh refers to deeds or actions, the reference is occasionally to conduct as such and its manner. For example, Israel is warned not to do as the Egyptians and Canaanites do and follow their huqqôt (Lev. 18:3)."S Therefore, such works have a connotation of being in accord with certain standards, customs (huqqôt), and regulations, be they social or legal. In some contexts the phrase "do/perform the law" (O ND NVY, 'aśâh hattôrâh) refers to specific regulations. For example, in Num 6:21 the phrase is employed with reference to the Nazirite regulations. Thus, the Nazirite performs a work of the law in keeping his vows.

In passages like Deut 28:58 (cf. 29:29 [Heb 29:28]; 31:12; 32:46), Josh 1:7 (cf. 22:5; 23:6) and Neh 9:34 (cf. 2 Chr 14:3; 33:8), "do/perform the law" has reference to the entire law, not to one particular ordinance. These same passages call for the implementation of covenant curses for disobedience to the law. By context these texts do not refer to ethnic or social markers identifying Israel. Instead, they refer to the entire Mosaic legislation including every facet of that law. The point is that such references to works of the law are virtually identical with Paul's use of "works of the law” in both Galatians and Romans.

In the intertestamental period, sectarian authors at Qumran spoke of the members of their community as "doers/workers of the law" (ośê hattorāh, 1QpHab 7:11; 8:1; 12:4). They did not indicate that "the law” in such cases was limited to circumcision, Sabbath-keeping, or dietary regulations. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, one of the world's leading authorities on Qumran, Aramaic, and the intertestamental period, concludes that Qumran materials (especially 4QMMT 3.29) rule out the suggestion of both Dunn, about a restricted sense of erga nomou, ..., and Gaston, that the gen. nomou is a subjective gen[itive]."' Fitzmyer goes on to declare that

The Qumran usage makes it clear that "deeds of the law” refers, indeed, to things prescribed or required by the Mosaic law. To the extent that a "works righteousness" would be indicated by the phrase in question, this reading reveals that Paul knew whereof he was speaking when he took issue with contemporary Judaism and its attitude to legal regulations. In 4QMMT the phrase is used precisely in a context mentioning sdgh, "uprightness," and employs the very words of Gen 15:6 that Paul quotes about Abraham in 4:2c.

He is clearly at odds with the NPP’s limitation of the works to circumcision, Sabbath-keeping, and dietary regulations in a context dealing with righteousness or justification.

William D. Barrick, The New Perspective and "Works of the Law" (Gal. 2:16 and Rom. 3:20), p. 278-279

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Snowflakes, Intelligent Design, And Beauty

        One objection to intelligent design theory is the formation of snowflakes. This argument against intelligent design can be articulated in the following manner:

         "The formation of a snowflake is a great example of order coming from randomness, both in terms of gaseous water molecules moving chaotically going to water molecules in a very specific structure, and because the underlying reason for doing that is the second law of thermodynamics, which ultimately is due to energy becoming more randomly distributed."

         First of all, "chaos theory" is a description of a progressively complex arrangement of matter. There are factors in this process that remain a mystery to us.

         Secondly, snowflakes most certainly do have impressive looking structures. However, they are not functional systems with meaningful information. Snowflakes lack the specific type of complexity that a biological system has.

         Snowflakes are a consequence of the Designer's supernatural act of creation (how He ordered the scientific laws). This would be analogous to human beings creating robots which in turn could work in the manufacturing of vehicles or medical equipment. Intelligence (which requires the existence of a mind) is still involved.

          Meaningful design and order are always the result of intelligence. The universe has such characteristics. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that an Intelligent Mind created our universe. Moreover, some have inferred from beauty itself that God must exist. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, articulates this argument as follows:

         "The most common contrary view is aesthetic relativism, commonly heard in slogans like, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” which means, what is beautiful to John is beautiful because he finds it so. Likewise, what is ugly to John is ugly to him because he finds it so. This view is inadequate. If X is beautiful to John because he finds it so, and Y is ugly because John finds it so, then it fails to explain how John could possibly distinguish between the two. How do we account for beauty? The most common answer has been that beauty is a universal, which is instantiated in a number of things (some philosophers would say everything is an instantiation of some degree of beauty), and it is one of the three transcendentals, along with the good and the true. This properly gives us an account for ugliness, for that would be a deprivation, like falsehoods and evils. An argument from beauty may go as follows: symmetry, that’s imitation like kaleidoscopes or round stained glass, is often a great producer of beauty. We recognize beautiful accidental symmetry in nature, like an order of stones on the beach. But what do these random organizations reflect if there is no organization to be had in the first place? Reflections are only as good as the thing they reflect, so the beauty cannot be in the rocks themselves, no matter how many times it multiplies. So there must be a transcending beauty in relation to all creation. Other aspects of beauty that demand explanation is why we find it valuable, why we find its creation valuable, why we find its contemplation and consummation valuable, and why we don’t seem to find any natural sort of ugliness in nature."

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What Is The Bond Between Truth And Life?

        Truth and life are intimately related things. Both realities are rooted in the existence of God. That is where truth and life find their fullness, purpose, and fulfillment. Truth and life are inextricably united. Jesus Christ affirmed regarding Himself, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

         In other words, Christ has made known to man that He is the way in which forgiveness and redemption before God has been enabled. If we posses the truth, then we are free and can have life abundantly (John 10:10). Whoever has the Son has life eternal (1 John 5:12). Following is a commentary from the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible on John chapter fourteen verses four and six:

         "14:4 the way. In Jewish literature, God's true path of righteousness could be called the way." (For its exclusivity, cf. note on Mt 7:13-14.) Some scholars also think of the way of salvation in Jn 1:23...14:6 Gentiles complained about Jews’ “intolerance” because Jews insisted on only one God. Some Jewish groups, however, notably the Qumran community, were even more exclusive; they believed that they followed the only path to God and that other Jewish groups were lost. Jesus goes beyond such groups; he does not teach a way to God, but rather is the way to God."

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Did The Earliest Christians Hold To An Adoptionist Christology?

         -"Adoptionism, either of two Christian heresies: one developed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is also known as Dynamic Monarchianism (see Monarchianism); the other began in the 8th century in Spain and was concerned with the teaching of Elipandus, archbishop of Toledo. Wishing to distinguish in Christ the operations of each of his natures, human and divine, Elipandus referred to Christ in his humanity as “adopted son” in contradistinction to Christ in his divinity, who is the Son of God by nature. The son of Mary, assumed by the Word, thus was not the Son of God by nature but only by adoption."
         -"First, it does not adequately explain the worship of Jesus in the context of communal and corporate worship among early Jewish Christians. In an adoptionist context, the worship of Jesus would amount to the idolatrous worship of a mere man, although he may have been adopted as God’s son, he was nevertheless a man. Furthermore, it does not address the tension between the worship of Jesus within a monotheistic frame work of first century Judaism. The same categories of worship in Judaism towards God such as prayers, invocations, creedal confessions and hymns, are now being rendered to the risen Jesus by his followers. This practice is very early in the Christian movement. In order for this Jesus worship to be quickly attested in the nascent stage of the Christian movement, as dissimilar as it was, a satisfactory cause must be accounted for it. It must be a catalyst type of cause to quickly integrate such a phenomenon as the worship of Jesus. The direction again points to the resurrection of Jesus. Included in these acts of worship are also the applications of OT texts that have Yahweh or the Lord as their referent and now have Jesus as their reference point. This bespeaks a high Christology which was absent in adoptionist circles. Indeed if adoptionism was the earliest view of Jesus, this high Christology would not be prevalent at all or attested in the earliest texts of the NT. Adoptionist Christology would not necessarily be deemed incommensurate with Judaism nor provoke the Jewish sensibilities about monotheism."
  • Does Mark 1:11 Prove The Author Of That Narrative To Have Embraced An Adoptionist Christology?:
         -"The Father’s voice from heaven expressed approval of Jesus and His mission in words recalling Genesis 22:2. What the voice said identified the speaker. God’s words from heaven fused the concepts of King (Ps. 2:7) and Servant (Isa. 42:1). This combination constituted the unique sonship of Jesus. “The first clause of the [Father’s] declaration (with the verb in the present tense of the indicative mood) expresses an eternal and essential relationship. The second clause (the verb is in the aorist indicative) implies a past choice for the performance of a particular function in history.”[34] From this point on, the reader of Mark’s Gospel knows God’s authoritative evaluation of Jesus. This evaluation becomes the norm by which we judge the correctness or incorrectness of every other character’s understanding of Him. “If Mark refuses knowledge of Jesus’ identity to human characters in the beginning and middle of his story, who, then, knows of his identity? The answer is Mark himself as narrator, the reader, and such supernatural beings as God, Satan, and demons.”[35] Jesus began His official role as the Messiah at His baptism (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 89:26; Heb. 1:5). He also began His official role as the Suffering Servant of the Lord then (cf. 8:31; 9:30-31; 10:32-34, 45; 15:33-39). “Jesus’ baptism did not change His divine status. He did not become the Son of God at His baptism (or at the transfiguration, 9:7). Rather, His baptism showed the far-reaching significance of His acceptance of His messianic vocation as the suffering Servant of the Lord as well as the Davidic Messiah. Because He is the Son of God, the One approved by the Father and empowered by the Spirit, He is the Messiah (not vice versa).”[36] (Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable)
  • Does Romans 1:4 Prove That Paul Held To An Adoptionist Christology?:
         -"sn Appointed the Son-of-God-in-power. Most translations render the Greek participle ὁρισθέντος (horisthentos, from ὁρίζω, horizō) “declared” or “designated” in order to avoid the possible interpretation that Jesus was appointed the Son of God by the resurrection. However, the Greek term ὁρίζω is used eight times in the NT, and it always has the meaning “to determine, appoint.” Paul is not saying that Jesus was appointed the “Son of God by the resurrection” but “Son-of-God-in-power by the resurrection,” as indicated by the hyphenation. He was born in weakness in human flesh (with respect to the flesh, v. 3) and he was raised with power. This is similar to Matt 28:18 where Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (New English Translation footnote on Romans 1:4)
         -"Bates treats τοῦ γενομένου as “who came into existence” rather than as a synonym for gennao for “I beget”. While he admits that ginomai can designate an ordinary birth, he points out the parallel language in Gal 4:4 and Phil 2:6-7 which imply a change of status from a heavenly mode of existence to an earthly one. He also treats the preposition ek in ek spermatos Dauid as indicating Mary’s instrumental role in Jesus’ birth....The phrase kata sarka is not derogatory as it implies the Son’s pre-existence and speaks to his transition to the weak and frail human state. The en dunamei modifies Huiou Theou rather than oristhentos and is best translated as “Son of God in power”. Therefore there is no adopionistic christology here since “the resurrection event was the occasion at which the Son of God, who was in fact already deemed the preexistent Son of God before the resurrection event, was appointed to a new office that was able to be described by the phrase Son-of-God-in-Power.”
  • Does Hebrews 1:5 Prove The Author Of That Epistle To Have Embraced An Adoptionist Christology?:
         -"1:5 You are my Son. The Father’s decree declaring the Messiah to be His Son is identified with Christ’s exaltation (v. 4 note; 5:5; Acts 13:32–35; Rom. 1:4). Though Jesus is the eternal and divine Son of God (Mark 1:11; John 3:16), the declaration of redemptive Sonship prophesied in Ps. 2:7 was conferred on Him in time, when He completed His messianic work. Believers cannot become divine and share in Christ’s eternal divine Sonship, but their adoption as sons of God means that they participate in Christ’s redemptive Sonship through union with the “founder of their salvation” (2:10; cf. 3:14 note; Rom. 8:29)." (Reformation Study Bible footnote on Hebrews 1:5)
         -"3:14 we share in Christ. The Greek can be taken to mean that we are partakers with Christ, His companions (1:9), sharing new life with Him. It is also possible to translate “share in Christ,” indicating that He is the benefit we share in, through our intimate union with Him." (Reformation Study Bible footnote on Hebrews 3:14)

Commentary On Revelation 3:15

The deeds of the Laodicean Christians manifested their heart attitude. They were neither cold nor hot in their love for God, just lukewarm. Beverages are better either cold or hot. Similarly the Lord would rather that His people be cold or hot in their love for Him, not apathetic. The Laodiceans knew how the Lord felt because their city drinking water came from a spring six miles to the south over an aqueduct, and it arrived disgustingly lukewarm. [Note: Beasley-Murray, p105.]

"Neighboring Hierapolis had hot, spring water, valuable for its medicinal effects. In its journey to Laodicea it lost some of this heat and consequently medicinal value by the time it arrived either overland or by aqueduct in Laodicea. Nearby Colosse had cool, life-giving water that was refreshing as a beverage (Hemer)." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 1-7 , p307. Cf. M. J. S. Rudwick and E. M. B. Green, "The Laodicean Lukewarmness," Expository Times69 (1957-8):176-78; and Hemer, pp432-40.]

The Lord's spitting (lit. vomiting) His people out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16) does not mean they would lose their salvation...This anthropomorphism simply indicates His intense disgust. He did not mean that He would rather we be spiritually cold than that we be spiritually lukewarm either. He did mean that He would rather we be spiritually refreshing or healthful, as cold or hot water, rather than that we be spiritually bland, as lukewarm water. This explanation seems more likely than the one that identifies the Laodiceans as unbelievers.

The Laodiceans enjoyed material prosperity ( Revelation 3:17) that led them to a false sense of security and independence. The expression "I am rich, and have become wealthy" is a literary device that inverts the natural sequence for emphasis (cf. Revelation 3:19; Revelation 5:2; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 10:4; Revelation 10:9; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 19:13). Here it stresses that the wealth attained came though self-exertion. Spiritually they had great needs (cf. Romans 7:24). This self-sufficient attitude is a constant danger when Christians live lives of ease and enjoy plenty.

Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 3:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Should Churches Use Wine Or Grape Juice In Communion?

        -Churches in New Testament times undoubtedly used wine for communion in observing the ordinance of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-22).
        -Either wine or grape juice is acceptable for use in communion, since both are derived from the same source: grapes (Matthew 26:26-29).
        -The juice extracted from the grapes is a part of God's creation. So is the fermentation process of that juice. All things created by God are to be received with thanksgiving because they are good (Genesis 1:31; 1 Timothy 4:4).
        -The ultimate question that needs to be answered is not whether the contents of the communion cup are grape juice or wine, but rather are we as individuals partaking of that cup in a worthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)?

A Baptismal Regeneration Proof Text Bites The Dust

"Early in church history when the Greek New Testament was being translated into Latin, the Latin word renatus (“born again”) was incorrectly used to translate the Greek word gennēthē (“born”) in John 3:5, rather than the correct Latin word natus (“born”). The incorrect reading of renatus soon prevailed among the majority of Latin manuscripts, so that it became the standard reading of the Latin Vulgate. A textual basis for the doctrine of baptismal regeneration quickly became ensconced in western Christendom."

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Papal Proof Texts Bite The Dust

"The earlier exegetical history of Matt. 16:18-19, Luke 22:32, and John 21:15-17 was largely out of step with the primatial (papal) interpretation of these passages...The mainstream of exegesis followed an agenda set forth by patristic precedent, especially Augustine, but also other Western fathers...The understanding of these Petrine texts by biblical exegetes in the mainstream of the tradition was universally non-primatial before Innocent III. It was the innovative exegetical argumentation of this imposing pope which began to change the picture."

Karlfried Froehlich, cited by William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions, p. 32-33

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Spurious Nature Of Mary's Bodily Assumption

Thus, the Transitus literature is the real source of the teaching of the assumption of Mary and Roman Catholic authorities admit this.59 It was partially through these writings that teachers in the East and West began to embrace and promote the teaching. But it still took several centuries for it to become generally accepted. The earliest extant discourse on the feast of the Dormition affirms that the assumption of Mary comes from the East at the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth century. The Transitus literature is highly significant as the origin of the assumption teaching and it is important that we understand the nature of these writings. The Roman Catholic Church would have us believe that this apocryphal work expressed an existing, common belief among the faithful with respect to Mary and that the Holy Spirit used it to bring more generally to the Church’s awareness the truth of Mary’s assumption. The historical evidence would suggest otherwise. The truth is that, as with the teaching of the immaculate conception, the Roman Church has embraced and is responsible for promoting teachings which originated, not with the faithful, but with heretical writings which were officially condemned by the early Church. History proves that when the Transitus teaching originated the Church regarded it as heresy. In 494 to 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius issued a decree entitled Decretum de Libris Canonicis Ecclesiasticis et Apocryphis. This decree officially set forth the writings which were considered to be canonical and those which were apocryphal and were to be rejected. He gives a list of apocryphal writings and makes the following statement regarding them:

The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognised by heretics or schismatics the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below some which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics.60

In the list of apocryphal writings which are to be rejected Gelasius signifies the following work: Liber qui apellatur Transitus, id est Assumptio Sanctae Mariae, Apocryphus (Pope Gelasius 1, Epistle 42, Migne Series, M.P.L. vol. 59, Col. 162). This specifically means the Transitus writing of the assumption of Mary. At the end of the decree he states that this and all the other listed literature is heretical and that their authors and teachings and all who adhere to them are condemned and placed under eternal anathema which is indissoluble. And he places the Transitus literature in the same category as the heretics and writings of Arius, Simon Magus, Marcion, Apollinaris, Valentinus and Pelagius.62

Pope Gelasius explicitly condemns the authors as well as their writings and the teachings which they promote and all who follow them. And significantly, this entire decree and its condemnation was reaffirmed by Pope Hormisdas in the sixth century around A.D. 520.63 These facts prove that the early Church viewed the assumption teaching, not as a legitimate expression of the pious belief of the faithful but as a heresy worthy of condemnation. There are those who question the authority of the so-called Gelasian decree on historical grounds saying that it is spuriously attributed to Gelasius. However, the Roman Catholic authorities Denzinger, Charles Joseph Hefele, W. A. Jurgens and the New Catholic Encyclopedia64 all affirm that the decree derives from Pope Gelasius, and Pope Nicholas I in a letter to the bishops of Gaul (c. 865 A.D.) officially quotes from this decree and attributes its authorship to Gelasius. While the Gelasian decree may be questioned by some, the decree of Pope Hormisdas reaffirming the Gelasian decree in the early sixth century has not been questioned.

William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions, p. 42-44

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Receiving The Holy Spirit By Faith

        In Galatians 3:2, the Apostle Paul refers to the moment when the Christians at Galatia were first converted. They believed in their hearts as a result of hearing the gospel message that he delivered. Human efforts are not to be added to faith as a means of justification afterwards (Galatians 3:3). If people want to receive the gospel by some means other than "by hearing with faith," then that would constitute a rejection of faith as sufficient to bring about our justification before God. Paul uses Abraham as an example of someone who was justified by faith apart from meritorious works (Galatians 3:6). There exists no good works that can enable us to obtain fellowship with God (Galatians 3:21-24). The Apostle Paul's focus (in combating the Judaizers) extends beyond the Mosaic Law. He argues against seeking favor with God by any particular system of good works: "For if a law had been given which was able to impart life..." (Galatians 3:21). That point covers both the moral and ceremonial aspects of the Law. Consequently, Paul argues against seeking justification before God by any other means than faith.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Moloch At The Colosseum

If you visit the Colosseum in Rome, where thousands of Christians were martyred, you will pass at the entrance an enormous image of Moloch, the gruesome Canaanite deity that demanded the sacrifice of infants and small children.

The idol, modeled after a depiction in the classic silent film Cabiria, is part of an exhibit on ancient Carthage, where Moloch was worshiped. Many conservative Catholics and Christians in general are unnerved by the presence of the idol on what they consider sacred ground. The Colosseum, the stadium where Rome staged its gladiator fights and other entertainments (including the torture of Christians) is owned and operated by the Vatican, which must have given permission for the exhibit and the installation.

The controversy over the Moloch image has become tied to another controversy over the use of an Amazonian fertility idol to the goddess Pachamama in a series of ceremonies, including one at the Vatican gardens at which the Pope was present. The events, honoring the Amazonian Synod that was considering ordaining female priests, included indigenous worshippers prostrating themselves before the idol and a liturgical prayer to the goddess. Some conservative Catholics later stole the idols and threw them into the Tiber river. They were recovered and the Pope apologized.

Defenders of the statue say that it’s simply a part of a historical, cultural exhibit about Rome’s ancient rival and that no religious significance was intended. Fine. But why wasn’t the figure relegated to the context of the other exhibits inside, rather than “welcoming” (the word used in the press release) visitors at the entrance of the Colosseum itself? True, statues of other pagan gods, such as Jupiter and Mercury, can be found everywhere in Rome. But Moloch is particularly problematic.

So what’s the issue with Moloch? This is no ordinary animistic image. Even the Greek and Roman pagans were horrified by Moloch and how he was worshiped. The classical writers associated Moloch with Cronus, whom the Romans called Saturn, one of the old gods who devoured his own children until he was overthrown by his child Zeus.

Plutarch is especially descriptive: “… but with full knowledge and understanding they themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums that the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people.”

Carthage was an outpost of the Canaanite civilization that was in conflict with that of the children of Israel. And the Bible expressly and explicitly addresses Moloch and his worship by child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35).

The Myth Of Matthew 16:18 As The End-All, Be-All For Roman Catholicism

It's not unusual for Catholics who want to express disagreement with something I've written to play the Matthew 16:18 trump card.

That's where -- unlike in the same story told in Mark and Luke -- Jesus says, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church." One Catholic reading is that Jesus meant to break away from Judaism, start a new religion and name Peter the first pope.

Many other Catholics and Protestants, including me, conclude that Jesus, always a Jew, was much more interested in announcing the in-breaking reign of God (which is what Jesus meant by the Gospel) and was not focused on creating a hierarchical and institutionalized structure. Indeed, it's hard to find a biblical scholar these days who would agree that Jesus' purpose was to start a new religion.

Still, I've never quite known how to respond to insistent Catholics who haul out Matthew 16:18 and assume that's a full answer that confirms Petrine primacy and, by extension, the assertion that anyone outside the Catholic church is apostate.

I've just received considerable help with this matter from a Capuchin Franciscan, Michael H. Crosby, in his book Repair My House.

Crosby takes a careful look at Matthew 16, comparing it to the Mark 8 and Luke 9 versions of the same story, versions that omit Jesus saying anything to Peter about being the rock (a play on his name) on which he will build a church.

To use the Matthew 16:18 passage as the be-all of Catholic reliance on Scripture and tradition, he writes, is to lean on "a selective and fundamentalist interpretation of this one text." Doing that, he says, "represents both intellectual dishonesty and scriptural errancy."

A more balanced and satisfying way of understanding the role of the church and its leadership, Crosby writes, is to balance Matthew 16 with Matthew 18. In the latter chapter, we find a broader notion of authority among the followers of Jesus, disciples who eventually would separate from Judaism and become Christianity.

In Matthew 18, Jesus gives authority and responsibility not to a single person but to the whole church (ekklesia, in Greek, which means literally the community that has been called out). Verse 17 says that a member of the ekklesia is to report to the ekklesia if someone who has sinned against him or her will not repent.

Thus, Crosby notes, Jesus assigns to the local church in 18:18 the power to bind and loose that is given to Peter in 16:19, and "both texts must be considered as equal in their power to bind and loose." The difference is that Peter gets the "keys to the kingdom" in 16 while the community in 18 "receives the promise of Christ's abiding presence in their binding and loosing in a way that is not given to Peter."

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Commentary On Exodus 6:3

[Exodus] 6:3 By my name the Lord. The account of the patriarchs contains references to God as "God Almighty" as well as the Lord (Gn 17:1-2; 28:3; 35:11; 12:8; 49:18). This verse could suggest (especially as translated in the RSV) the Lord as an appellative designation for God was unknown prior to the time of Moses. This interpretation, however, is not necessarily the meaning of v. 3. A translation that gives due consideration to the Biblical connotation of the word name (cf. 3:14 note) would read as follows: I appeared to Abraham, to Issac, and to Jacob by the manifestation of as God Almighty but by my name manifesting myself as the Lord (YHWH) I did not make myself known to them. This rendering does not preclude the possibility that the patriarchs were familiar with the word Lord as an appellation of God. The context supports this interpretation. The following verses stress the fact that in God's dealings with the patriarchs He had not revealed Himself as fully as the God of the "covenant" (4) as He was about to do in fulfilling the promise made to the fathers: "I will take you for my people" (7). By leading them out of Egypt and and constituting them as a nation in the lad which He "swore to give to Abraham, to Issac, and to Jacob" (8), He would make Himself known to Israel in actions by which He had not revealed Himself to the patriarchs and which they only knew as promises of the covenant. Centuries later God continued to speak about the revelation of His name in the same way: "They shall know that my name is the Lord." (Jer 16:21). The Book of Ezekiel has the oft-repeated refrain: "They [or you] shall know that I am the Lord." (Eze 6:7; 10, 13; 7:4, 9, 27; etc.)"

Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on Exodus], p. 65

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bad Catholic Apologetics On Ephesians 2:8-9

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to rebut assertions made by Catholic Nick on the meaning of boasting in Ephesians 2:8-9. Following are a handful of excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

        "Protestants assume that the "boast" here is a person can brag before God that they "played a role in saving themself". But what does such a claim really even mean? Is a person going to stand before the Judgment Seat and brag to God's face that God must let them into Heaven because they lived a perfectly obedient life without His help? Not likely. Is a person going to brag that God owed them forgiveness because they lived a life without sin? That's illogical. So what kind of bragging to God's face is even possible? I honestly cannot think of anything, and thus I doubt Paul was suggesting people though they could brag to God's face that they saved themself without His help."

        The Apostle Paul's remarks on man boasting most certainly does serve as a condemnation of self-righteousness. Man has prideful tendencies and distorted worship (Romans 1:25). That is a very real and serious problem that we must face. Sin is contrary to reason; insane. Catholic Nick's argument does not take into account the fact that Rome requires adherents to do good works in order to gain and keep their right standing before God. That definitely appeals to our prideful nature. If boasting is excluded in justification, then all glory goes to God alone. We are kept in a state of humility due to receiving a gift that we do not deserve. The point of contention does not center on whether grace is necessary but the sufficiency of grace. 

        "If a person says they did something God commanded, such as repent, be baptized, etc, to get forgiven or receive some saving grace, then that's not really a point of bragging. Anyone can do these things, and they are things God has commanded, so it's not unreasonable to expect God rewards a person who was obedient to Him. The Bible is full of promises by God that He will reward and praise those who were obedient to Him. Jesus has no problem saying to us: "Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the Kingdom." God has no problem rewarding us for good works done out of love for Him. Furthermore, nobody is going to boast before God that they got Baptized so God is now required to save them, at least that's not what anyone I've ever met has approached Baptism in that manner. And given that most people are Baptized as infants by their parents, what really can the baby do to brag about that since they literally had no say in the matter?"

        Throughout the four gospels, Jesus Christ repeatedly rebuked the Jews for them looking down at other people whom they perceived as being less faithful to the Law. For example, the Pharisees had inquired as to why Christ ate with people of lower stature (Matthew 9:11). He scolded them for seeking after an outward righteousness (Luke 11:38-39). Jesus even said, "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees..." (Matthew 5:20). He said to the chief priests and elders, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matthew 21:1). Jesus addressed a rich young man who wanted to enter heaven on the basis of his faithfulness to the Law (Matthew 19:16-30; Luke 18:18-30). Consider also the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. 

        "In terms of the Biblical testimony, here's where I ultimately make my apologetics case, since this is the only thing Protestants claim to accept - though they don't usually accept what the Bible actually says when they're proven wrong from the Bible. First, the very context of Ephesians 2:9 is verse Ephesians 2:11 (and following), wherein Paul begins speaking of Jews versus Gentiles. Between these two camps, there was very much a boasting problem (Ephesians 2:12-15)."

        It is true that there was hostility between Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish people did look down on outsiders as disgusting people. However, "ethnic badges" is not the essence of what Paul means when he speaks of justification by works. The Douay-Rheims Translation renders Ephesians 2:9 in this manner, "Not of works, that no man may glory." The Good News Translation reads as follows, "but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it." What is the gift of God that no one can boast about? The answer to that question is our justification which occurs as a result of His mercy. There is evidence in the New Testament of works righteousness being a problem amongst the Jews. Paul would have confronted such errors.

Catholic Nick's Contorted Reading Of Philippians 3:8-9

  • Discussion:
          -Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to rebut a number of claims that Catholic Nick has made regarding the text of Philippians 3:8-9 as it relates to imputation. Following are excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "So why did Paul count all his biological advantages and efforts to be "rubbish"? That's the big question to think about. Protestants erroneously presume the reason why Paul's righteousness was "rubbish" was because his works were tainted by sin. But nothing he mentioned was sinful, and the context nowhere suggests that Paul's sinfulness was the problem, nor can his Jewish racial qualities be considered sinful. So if the real problem here is that Paul is a sinner, then by Protestant logic, Paul has no righteousness at all, and thus Paul should not even be speaking of a "righteousness of my own" and "blameless" in keeping the law. If you think about it, calling your righteousness "dung" is kind of an oxymoron. It's like saying "my sinful good deeds". There's no such thing. So it's nonsense for Paul to be speaking of his own "righteousness" if it's not actually a real righteousness. And if Paul was trying to argue that the Law couldn't save because he himself couldn't keep it, his opponents would laugh at him for such an excuse. Just because Paul cannot keep the law doesn't mean nobody else can. This leaves only one alternative: if Paul did indeed keep the law "flawlessly" and yet this amounted to "rubbish," then this can only mean the law never did save even if kept perfectly. And that's truly what he's getting at."

          The Apostle Paul called his works done in the flesh rubbish because all the good things that he did in his days as a Pharisee counted for nothing. He considered knowing Christ to be of surpassing worth. All good works in the world cannot save us. Prior to his conversion, Paul would have viewed his faithfulness to the Law as meriting God's favor. Even the righteousness that Adam had prior to his fall would not be adequate to address our problem of sin. Scripture says outright that everybody is guilty before God because they have broken His holy Law (Romans 3:9-23).

          "In Paul's mind, the (Mosaic) Law never did save, even if kept perfectly. Protestants simply cannot comprehend this. It throws a wrench into their whole way of thinking. Properly understood, the righteousness of the Law only promised a person temporal (i.e. earthly) blessings, such as: long life, healthy life, wealth, children, good farming, peace in the land, etc. The Law never promised forgiveness of sins or Heaven. This is clearly shown in Deuteronomy 28 where the blessings and curses are laid out for how you keep the law. Most Protestants cannot even comprehend this simple distinction between temporal and eternal blessings. With this in mind, we can see a good reason for why Paul was going to elsewhere than the "righteousness of the law," which we'll now turn to."

          If Adam had obeyed God in the Garden of Eden, then he would have been truly righteous before God and given blessings of every sort. But the human race is fallen. Even perfect conformance to the Law cannot cleanse our sinful hearts. Jesus Christ Himself pointed this reality out to the rich young ruler. The Law cannot save us because it does not offer the forgiveness of sin. It cannot purify our hearts.

          "When Paul says he wants to attain the righteousness that comes "through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God," the first thing to note is that nothing here suggests this is "Christ's Righteousness" or that it is "imputed". Protestants can only project/assume this. They cannot actually show this from the plain reading of the text! So much for them caring about what Scripture plainly teaches! Protestants blindly assume that Philippians 3:8-9 is teaching that the "righteousness of the law" needs to be attained by us so that we can be saved, and since we cannot attain it by our own efforts, they say that Jesus must perfectly keep the law in our place and impute this "righteousness of the law" to us, as if we perfectly kept the law ourselves. But notice that the "righteousness of the law" is not the same as what Paul contrasts to "the righteousness that comes from God." These are two different types of righteousness! What is this righteousness from God that Paul eagerly wants to have? This is where things get really embarrassing for the Protestant side."

          When Paul says, "not having a righteousness of my own...," he points to a righteousness that he does not have. It comes from an external source and does not naturally belong to him. When he speaks of a righteousness "that comes from the law," he is referring back to his previous statement, "as to the law, a to righteousness under the law, blameless." Paul was righteous in the eyes of men, yet his heart was not pure in the sight of God. When he says, "having a righteousness...which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith," Paul is referring to the righteousness that we receive from God through Christ on the basis of the empty hand of faith. It is not something that we can merit for ourselves. 

          "The truth is, Paul tells us what he means by attaining this "righteousness from God" in the very next verses, but you will almost never see Protestants even aware of these verses. Look around and ask around and see how often they cite Philippians 3:9 but leave out (often out of total ignorance) verses 3:10-11! Paul gives it to us plainly: "that I may know Jesus and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that I may attain the resurrection" Clearly, Paul is saying he wants an inner transformation to happen to him, with his soul experiencing the power of God, causing it to be transformed in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There is nothing "imputation" about this, and in fact it directly refutes Imputation and Christ's Righteousness. This theme events fits the earlier verses, such as 3:3 where Paul says Christians have the spiritual circumcision done on them by the Holy Spirit (Rom 2:29). Again, nothing Imputation about that."

          The Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10 speaks of the Holy Spirit's work in sanctification. That process is distinct from and has a consequential relationship to our justification. We gradually become more like Christ through the indwelling of the Spirit of God. The imputation of righteousness becomes more evident as we grow in sanctification.

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Biblical Dilemma For Catholic Eucharist Theology

        "As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God." (CCC # 1414)

        Interestingly, Hebrews 9:8-9 tells us that sacrifices and gift offerings cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper:

        "The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience."

         The Mass causes the atonement of Jesus Christ to be just like the repetitive Old Testament sacrifices which cannot bring about the perfection of our souls. It is not consistent with the presentation of His work in Hebrews as to the reason for it being superior.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The New Testament As We Have It Today Accurately Conveys What The Apostles Wrote

"The situation with New Testament textual criticism is entirely different: Virtually no conjectural emendation is required because of the great wealth, diversity, and age of the materials we have.5 Most New Testament scholars would say that there are absolutely no places where conjecture is necessary. Again, this is because the manuscripts are so plentiful and so early that in almost every instance the original New Testament can be reconstructed from the available evidence.

For example, Kurt and Barbara Aland, the first two directors of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany (Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung or INTF) co-authored one of the standard textbooks on NT textual criticism. At the INTF, over 90% of all Greek NT manuscripts are on microfilm. For the past forty-five years, the Institute has been more influential than any individual, school, or group of scholars anywhere else in the world for determining the exact wording of the original NT. In short, they know their stuff. Hear the Alands: “…every reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition is stubbornly preserved, even if the result is nonsense…any reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition, from the original reading onward, has been preserved in the tradition and needs only to be identified.”6

The Alands go so far as to say that if a reading is found in one manuscript it is almost surely not authentic: “The principle that the original reading may be found in any single manuscript or version when it stands alone or nearly alone is only a theoretical possibility.”7 Further, “Textual difficulties should not be solved by conjecture, or by positing glosses or interpolations, etc., where the textual tradition itself shows no break; such attempts amount to capitulation before the difficulties and are themselves violations of the text.”8 Their opinions in these matters should be considered as that of expert witnesses. Further, it is shared by most others in the discipline.9

What are the implications of the non-need to guess about the wording of the original? Only that in virtually every instance the original reading is to be found somewhere in the manuscripts...Further, since the original reading is not something to be merely guessed at, we have an actual database—the pool of variants found in the manuscripts—that can be tested for any theological deviations."

J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, p. 106-107

A Few Insights On Philippians 2:10 As It Relates To The Deity Of Jesus Christ

        "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth." (Philippians 2:10)

        One observation that should be made regarding this passage is how it clearly parallels Exodus 20:4-5 ("in heaven the earth the water under the earth). The earliest Christians, being Jewish, included an indirect reference to the commandment forbidding the worship of false gods in a hymnal.

        Thus, in Philippians 2:10, the entirety of creation is presented as worshiping Christ in the manner that God Himself would be worshiped. Isaiah 45:23 was also applied to Him in this passage ("That to Me every knee shall bow...). Moreover, the Apostle Paul quoted that text from Isaiah in Romans 14:11 when referring to God. He firmly believed that Jesus is to be worshiped as God in the flesh.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Commentary On 1 John 4:10

Herein is love,.... The love of God, free love, love that cannot be matched: herein it is manifested, as before; this is a clear evidence of it, an undoubted proof, and puts it out of all question:

not that we loved God: the love of God is antecedent to the love of his people; it was when theirs was not; when they were without love to him, yea, enemies in their minds, by wicked works, and even enmity itself, and therefore was not procured by theirs; but on the contrary, their love to him is caused by his love to them; hence his love, and a continuance in it, do not depend on theirs; nor does it vary according to theirs; wherefore there is good reason to believe it will continue, and never be removed; and this shows the sovereignty and freeness of the love of God, and that it is surprising and matchless:

but that he loved us; that is, God; and so the Syriac version reads, "but that God himself loved us". The Vulgate Latin version adds, first, as in 1 John 4:19; the instance of this love follows:

and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins: this is a subordinate end to the other, mentioned in 1 John 4:9; for, in order that sinful men may possess everlasting life and happiness, it is necessary that their sins be expiated, or atonement be made for them, which is meant by Christ's being a propitiation for them; that the justice of God should be satisfied; that peace and righteousness, or love and justice, should be reconciled together; and kiss each other; and that all obstructions be removed out of the way of the enjoyment of life, which are brought in by sin; and that the wrath of God, which sin deserved, be averted or appeased, according to our sense apprehension of it; for otherwise the love of God people is from everlasting, and is unchangeable, never alters, or never changes from love to wrath, or from wrath to love; nor is the love of God procured by the satisfaction and sacrifice of Christ, which are the effects of it; but hereby the way is laid open for the display of it, and the application of its effects, in a way consistent with the law and justice of God. This phrase is expressive of the great love of Christ to his people, and of his substitution in their room and stead; and so it is used among the Jews for a substitution in the room of others, לרוב אהבתו, "to express the greatness of love"F21

Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary On 1 John 2:2

And he is the propitiation for our sins. Mark the ‘and’ which here once more introduces a new thought intended to obviate perversion. Though Christ is not said to be a ‘righteous Advocate,’ yet His advocacy must represent a righteous cause. He pleads His own atonement; that is Himself, for He ‘is’ in His Divine-human Person the propitiation: the advocacy is distinct from the atonement, is based upon it, and appeals to it.

The word propitiation occurs only here and in chap. 4 throughout the New Testament: it is really the counterpart of the ‘blood of Jesus His Son’ in chap. 1 John 1:6, the administration of the atonement coming between them in chap. 1 John 1:9. Christ is in the New Testament ‘set forth as a propitiation in His blood’ (Romans 3:25): a sacrificial offering that, as on the day of atonement to which it refers, averted the wrath of God from the people. He also as High Priest made atonement or ‘propitiation for the sins of the people’ (Hebrews 2:17). which is here, as in the Septuagint, ‘propitiated in the matter of sins’ the God of holiness. Uniting these, He is in the present passage Himself the abstract ‘propitiation’ in His own glorified Person. His prayer for us, issuing from the very treasure-house of atoning virtue, must be acceptable; and, uttered to the Father who ‘sent Him’ as the propitiation (chap. 1 John 4:14), is one that He ‘heareth always’ (John 11:42).

It is then added: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. And why? First, because the apostle would utter his generous testimony, on this his first mention of the world, to the absolute universality of the design of the mission of the ‘Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world:’ his last mention of it, the second time he says ‘the whole world,’ will be of a severer character (chap. 1 John 5:19). Secondly, he thus intimates that the proper propitiation, as such, was the reconciliation of the Divine holiness and love in respect to all sins at once and in their unity, while the advocacy based upon it refers to special sins: on the one hand, no other atonement is necessary; on the other, that must avail if penitence secures the advocacy of Him who offered it once for all. Lastly, as we doubt not, the apostle thus ends a discussion, the fundamental object of which was to set forth universally and in general the way in which the Gospel offers to all mankind fellowship with the light of God’s holiness.

Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90

Saturday, January 4, 2020

A Few Thoughts On Gospel Genre And Why It Matters

"If we are searching for a literary model readily available for our Gospel authors—three of whom were Jews—then we might ask why we would look to the broader Greco-Roman context when “much closer to hand is the Hebrew Bible” (Reading the Gospels Wisely, 26).

Or, as Loveday Alexander has argued, “It is to the biblical tradition, surely, that we should look for the origins of the ‘religious intensity’ of the gospel narratives and their rich ideological intertextuality with the biblical themes of covenant, kingdom, prophecy, and promise—all features hard to parallel in Greek biography” (“What is a Gospel,” 27-28).

So, while our gospels may be similar to Greco-Roman biography in terms of structure, they are indebted to the Old Testament in terms of their narrative. And when we consider the narrative features of the four gospels, it quickly becomes clear that they are stories of God’s eschatological, redemptive, covenant-fulfilling, activity through the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Or, put differently, they are not merely history—which would be implied by the bios genre—but are, in fact, redemptive history. As Jonathan Pennington has observed, “This is good news, not just a biography!” (Reading the Gospels Wisely, 31)."

Tim Staples On Mary Being Queen Of Heaven

  • Discussion:
          -Catholic apologist Tim Staples wrote an article attempting to substantiate from Scripture the notion of Mary being queen of heaven, resorting to Old Testament typology. Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to show that his claims are vacuous. Following are a handful of excerpts alongside with a critique:

          "It can be difficult for us in the modern Western world to understand ancient monarchical concepts. But first-century Jews understood the notion of the kingdom that Jesus preached because they lived it. They knew that a kingdom meant that there was a king. And, in ancient Israel as in many nearby cultures, if there was a king there was a queen mother."

          The above statements are valid on their own accord, but the conclusions do not logically follow. What has been argued has been assumed rather than proven.

          "In the New Testament, the inspired author of Hebrews 1:8-9 quotes verses 6-7 of this very text [Psalm 45:1-9] as referring to Christ, his divinity, and his kingship. But immediately following those verses is another, lesser-known, prophecy that speaks of Mary. Who is this woman of whom the Lord said, “I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever”? Not one of Solomon’s wives fit the prophetic description."

          Texts such as Ephesians 5 and Revelation 20 employ imagery of a bride to a king when speaking of the church. There are also passages in the Old Testament offering the same description of the relationship of God to Israel (Ezekiel 16:8-21; Hosea 1:1-3). Mary is never given such a description in Scripture.

          "Most every Christian—indeed most of the world beyond Christendom—knows the name of the Mother of God—Mary—who in fulfillment of this prophetic text said, “All generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48)."

           We can agree that Mary is blessed among women for the reason of her being used by God in a unique fashion. But Tim Staples argues in a circle as to how or what manner she should be blessed.

          If the Roman Catholic Church is correct in proclaiming that Mary is the queen of heaven, then how come Scripture never mentions her as being exalted at the right hand of God as it does with Jesus Christ on multiple occasions (Luke 22:69; Acts 5:31; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:10-13; 12:2)? How come Mary is nowhere mentioned as reigning next to God?

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Charismatic Mishandling Of Mark 16:9-20

        Mark 16:9-20 does not necessarily support continuationism, since it still does not address whether what Jesus spoke of was something for the foundation laying period of the church during the time of the apostles.

        The Apostle Paul said to test all things and to hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If Mark 16:9-20 proves that various sign gifts such as speaking in tongues and casting out demons are meant for today, then what about the handling of snakes and consumption of poison?

        We have no record of Christians remaining unharmed when dealing with snakebites and drinking venom. That could very well be a reference to Paul's encounter with barbarians in the Book of Acts. A different perspective is given by New Testament scholar James R. Edwards in his commentary on Mark 16:18:

        "The word for "snake" is the Greek word ophis, which means a generic snake or serpent, although not necessarily poisonous, as does the Greek word echidna (so Acts 28:3-6).29 Given the reference to poisonous drink immediately following, one would have expected the latter word in v. 18. The word ophis is, however, the same word used in Genesis 3 (LXX) of the temptation of the serpent. This raises the question whether the image of "picking up snakes in their hands" cannot be understood metaphorically, that is, that in the age of salvation the curse of the serpent has been overcome."

        There also is the dispute as to whether Mark 16:9-20 is part of the original text of the gospel narrative in the first place. The New English Translation has this technical footnote on the text of Mark 16:9-20:

        "tc The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B sy sa arm geomss Eus Eus Hier), including two of the most respected mss (א B). This is known as the “short ending.” The following “intermediate” ending is found in some mss: “They reported briefly to those around Peter all that they had been commanded. After these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from the east to the west, the holy and imperishable preaching of eternal salvation. Amen.” This intermediate ending is usually included with the longer ending (L Ψ 083 099 579 pc); k, however, ends at this point. Most mss include the “long ending” (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8 (A C D W [which has unique material between vv. 14 and 15] Θ ƒ 33 M lat sy bo); however, Eusebius (and presumably Jerome) knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending. Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses. Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the intermediate and the long endings. Their vocabulary, syntax, and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102-6). All of this evidence indicates that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at v. 8. (Indeed, the strange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the likelihood that early scribes had a copy of Mark that ended at v. 8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to vv. 9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at v. 8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, 16:8 is usually regarded today as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending at 16:8: (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion; (2) the Gospel was never finished; or (3) the last leaf of the ms was lost prior to copying. This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors, including (a) the probability that the Gospel was originally written on a scroll rather than a codex (only on a codex would the last leaf get lost prior to copying); (b) the unlikelihood of the ms not being completed; and (c) the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself. E. Best aptly states, “It is in keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to his readers” (Mark, 73; note also his discussion of the ending of this Gospel on 132 and elsewhere). The readers must now ask themselves, “What will I do with Jesus? If I do not accept him in his suffering, I will not see him in his glory.” For further discussion and viewpoints, see Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views, ed. D. A. Black (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008); Nicholas P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (London: Pickwick, 2014); Gregory P. Sapaugh, “An Appraisal of the Intrinsic Probability of the Longer Endings of the Gospel of Mark” (Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 2012).sn Double brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of Mark. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation."

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Can We Rebuke Or Bind Satan In The Name Of Jesus?

        Scripture does not speak of Christians being able to rebuke the devil. There are no examples of or instructions as to how we can do such in the New Testament epistles. Not even Micheal the Archangel put himself in a position to rebuke Satan (Jude 9). That is something which God Himself does (Zechariah 3:2).

        The devil is a reality who oppress us. The same is true of demons. However, their knowledge of things and power are certainly not unlimited. Not every perceived spiritual attack is directly caused by Satan. He can only do as God permits him. What Scripture tells us to do is draw near to God (James 4:7-8). If we do that, then the devil will flee from us because God draws near to those who seek after Him.

         We are to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). That Pauline passage employs imagery of the armor that Roman guards wore. Our chief concern in this life should be serving God and not continually rebuking or binding the devil. We must turn to the guiding principles provided in God-breathed Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).