Monday, August 31, 2020

Does Hebrews 10:26-27 Teach That Apostates Cannot Be Forgiven?

        The Epistle to the Hebrews was originally addressed to Christian converts from a Jewish background. This is made evident by its preface: "...the fathers and the prophets" (Hebrews 1:1-2). The overall context of Hebrews 10:26-30 regards those who were tempted to return to Judaism and thereby dismiss as inadequate the atonement of Jesus Christ for sin. That is the reason for the author exhorting his audience to keep a clean conscience and to not forsake the assemblies of God (Hebrews 10:19-25).

        The restoration of blood temple sacrifices and ordinances that were operative under the Old Covenant would entail rejecting the message of the gospel. All those things were mere pointers and found their fulfillment in Christ. To reject the gospel would be the greatest act of insolence possible against God, and hence a terrifying expectation of judgement awaits those who deliberately do such a thing. That was the purpose of the author posing this vividly phrased rhetorical question:

        "Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:28-29)

        If a man does not have faith in Jesus Christ, then it goes without saying that he cannot be saved as long as he remains in that state of heart. God no longer accepts Levitical offerings. He has already made His plan of redemption fully known in Christ (Hebrews 1:3).

Friday, August 28, 2020

A Logical Dilemma For The Catholic Eucharist

        "I am the bread of life...I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:48; 51)

        The Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation means that the substance of Jesus Christ's flesh and blood takes the place of the substance of the bread and wine on the condition of a priest consecrating them.

        The communion elements are no longer bread and wine upon them being consecrated. They are fully the body and blood of Christ. The bread appears to be bread in every way, despite this miraculous change. It cannot be grasped by our senses.

        In short, the bread is Jesus Christ Himself (and the wine His blood). If Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life who descended from heaven, then that would mean He is physically present wherever the bread is.

        If no bread remains after transubstantiation takes place, then that would also mean Christ cannot be present at the worship service in the sense necessary in order for this dogma to be true. One cannot have Jesus physically present without the bread. Thus, the logic involved in transubstantiation is self-refuting.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Editors Should Pay Attention When King David Bursts Into News 3,000 Years Later

Merriam-Webster’s definition 2(b) of the term “peg,” as a noun states: “something (such as a fact or issue) used as a support, pretext, or reason,” for example “a news peg for the story.”

When it comes to media peg-manship and the Bible, it certainly appears that any old pretext will do.

Yet news pegs of any kind are remarkably absent with the most recent example of the genre, in The New Yorker dated June 29. The 8,500-worder by Israeli freelance Ruth Margalit consumes 10 pages of this elite journalistic real estate.

The cute headline announces the pitch: “Built On Sand.” Subhed: “King David’s story has been told for millennia. Archeologists are still fighting over whether it’s true.”

Was David the grand though flawed monarch the Bible depicts, or merely some boondocks bandit or sheik?

The debate affects current Israeli-vs.-Palestinian settlement politics, but in archaeology the last major news peg on David occurred 15 years ago while this pretext-free article appears in most news-crazed year imaginable.

That should tell media strategists something. Margalit’s reputation as a writer and skill at story pitches presumably helped, but the magazine’s editors knew that multitudes gobble up this stuff. The New Yorker’s long-form journalism is well suited to exploring such matters.

Pegs from the past? Any claims that David never even existed were all but eradicated by the 1993 discovery of the “House of David” inscription within a century of the king’s reign. A 1996 paper by Margalit’s central personality, Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, contended that though there was a David the Bible’s account of him is mostly exaggerated fiction. (Finkelstein later co-authored a 2006 book on this for popular audiences.)

Then in 2005, Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University made a dramatic announcement about unearthing what she believes is the foundation of David’s Jerusalem palace, indicating the grand scope of the Phoenecian building project the Bible describes. Finkelstein dissents.

Margalit is a sure-footed guide through these and other disputes among top archaeologists over the decades. She does not cite any Orthodox thinkers who accept the entirety of the Bible narrative as factual. The best scholarly book from that viewpoint is the readable “On The Reliability of the Old Testament” by British Egyptologist K. A. Kitchen of the University of Liverpool, a conservative evangelical.

Kitchen argues for the plausibility of David’s story in the context of broader Mideast history, surveys the scant material evidence, and explains why that’s so. An archaeologist’s maxim tells us “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” and Jerusalem’s many rounds of destruction reinforce the importance of the point.

Mazar depicted her find in 2006 for Biblical Archaeology Review, which followed with updates and coverage of archaeologists who doubt the claim.

Religion writers should be subscribers or at least familiar with this magazine, which is written for lay readers and blessedly free of technical jargon. It’s a prime source for keeping on top of new developments and story ideas in this field.

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2020/6/30/editors-should-pay-attention-when-king-david-bursts-into-mainstream-press-3000-years-laternbsp

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Proclaiming The Lord's Death And Resurrection

And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled! He who hung the earth in place is hanged. He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place. He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree. The Sovereign is insulted. God is murdered. The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand. This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and formed mankind in the beginning, The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets, the One enfleshed in a virgin, the One hanged on a tree, the One buried in the earth, the One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven, the One sitting at the right hand of the Father, the One having all authority to judge and save, through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time. This One is "the Alpha and the Omega," this One is "the beginning and the end." The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible. This One is the Christ. This One is the King. This One is Jesus. This One is the Leader. This One is the Lord. This One is the One who rose from the dead. This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father. "To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

Melito of Sardis, On the Passover

Is The Church Spiritual Israel?

                                                        By Rev. Fred Klett

Much fuss has been made in our Jewish evangelism circles regarding "replacement" theology, the idea that the church has "replaced" the Jewish people in the plan of God. Some have even accused all who think New Covenant believers are "Spiritual Israel" as being guilty of this "replacement theology", that is, of replacing the Jewish people with the church. Charges have been made that this idea of "Spiritual Israel" leads to anti-semitism.

Ironically my first exposure to the idea of all believers being spiritually Israel came about through involvement in "Messianic Judaism"! Way back in 1975 I attended a seminar by Manny Brotman, president of the "Messianic Jewish Movement International" on "How to Share the Messiah". In the seminar notes I read: "When a Gentile asks the Messiah into his heart and life, he is accepting the Jewish Messiah, the Jewish Bible, and the Jewish blood of atonement and could be considered a proselyte to biblical Judaism and a child of Abraham by faith!" Isn't this essentially a statement of the "Spiritual Israel" idea?

Getting The Big Picture

We must submit our thinking to the scriptures and derive even our method of interpreting of the Bible from the Bible itself! We must learn how the text interprets itself! Many have not done this. We can't base our understanding of doctrine on "spiritual" intuition or emotional arguments. We must strive, asking wisdom from the Spirit, to interpret the word of God correctly, and this certainly means we submit to the approach used by the apostles the Messiah appointed to represent Him. And we must understand how the whole Bible fits together and derive our doctrine of Israel within that framework.

God has had one purpose and plan for mankind ever since the Fall: to restore a people for Himself from fallen humanity through Messiah Jesus. Because of the Fall of Adam we have all come under the curse of God, or as the Puritans put it "through Adam's Fall sinned we all". The Jewish people, and ultimately the Jewish Messiah, brought to the world the Abrahamic promise of blessing to redeem us from the curse of the Fall. Jesus brought the blessings of Abraham "first to the Jew" and then expanded the blessing "also to the Gentile" (see Galatians 3:14 and Romans 1:16). There are not two sets of Covenant promises and Covenant obligations, one for Jewish believers and one for Gentile believers, there is one New Covenant people and one faith (Eph. 2:16 and 4:5).

God has had but one program from the beginning: salvation through Jesus. God purposed to restore blessing once again to a cursed world. The core of the Abrahamic promise was to bring a restoration of blessing to all peoples through the seed of Abraham. This seed is ultimately the King of Israel, the Messiah. Psalm 72:17 tells us this by applying the very words of the Abrahamic promise to the Son of David: "May his name endure forever...all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed".

National and ethnic Israel can only find true meaning within the larger context of the renewal of all things through the Messiah. God's purposes are one. God created the Jewish people to bring Messiah to the world. You cannot divorce any of the promises to Israel from the "big picture" of redemption from the Fall through Messiah.

God has not withdrawn His promises to the Jewish people. Rather, Paul clearly tells us, "no matter how many promises God has made, they are "yes" in Messiah" (2 Cor. 1:20). The New Covenant promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus is greater than any other blessing of God ever given. Indeed this is the fulfillment of the blessing promised to Abraham. The curse of death and separation from God is overturned through Messiah. Paul clearly says "He redeemed us in order that THE BLESSING PROMISED TO ABRAHAM MIGHT COME TO THE GENTILES through Messiah Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit" (Galatians 3:14). Only through Jesus can people truly come to the blessings of Abraham, life in the Spirit.

Whether we are Jews by birth or Gentiles, we who trust Messiah Jesus have one common faith. As Paul put it "There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." (Eph. 4:4-6)

Some Jews who are for Jesus call their movement "Messianic Judaism". A few of these Jewish believers distinguish "Messianic Judaism" from "Christianity". I believe it would be better theology to distinguish between a culturally Jewish expression of New Covenant Judaism and a culturally Gentile expression of New Covenant Judaism. Our New Covenant faith is the true, Biblical Judaism.

Gentiles who come to believe in the Jewish Messiah convert to Biblical Judaism! Our New Covenant faith is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant faith. Christianity is New Covenant Judaism, the true religion of the Jewish people -- even if most Jewish people don't know it yet! The concept of "Spiritual Israel" is a Biblical doctrine. It doesn't mean "replacement"...it means EXPANSION! God has joined Gentiles to the true faith of Israel --He has expanded the nation spiritually!

Kingdom Blessings Depend Upon Following The King

To be a member of a kingdom means to swear allegiance to its king. Jesus is the King of Israel and those who follow him are members of his kingdom. Consider the implications of these passages:

John the Baptizer, said: "For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Luke 3:8).

The Scriptures teach that all those who believe are Jesus' brothers (Romans 8:29 and Hebrews 2:10-11). Jesus said "whoever who does God's will is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:35). Jesus said he had other sheep, not of that flock (10:16). All believers are Jesus' family and the sheep of His flock.

Paul says Gentile believers are grafted in to the tree of Israel, become Abraham's children by faith, become heirs to the blessing of Abraham and are citizens of Israel (Romans 4:16-18; 11:17-21; Galatians 3:14; and Ephesians 2:19).

So, we see that every believer is a brother of Jesus, a child of Abraham, part of the flock of the Shepherd of Israel, grafted into the tree of Israel, an heir to the promise given to Abraham, and a citizen of the commonwealth of Israel! How wonderful to have become, spiritually, part of Israel!

The New Covenant

We are all covenant breakers before God. God made a covenant with Adam and we have all followed in the footsteps of our first father. What was said of Israel is also true of us "They like Adam have transgressed the covenant (1)". We can only be saved from the curse of the first covenant of Works made with Adam if God provides a Covenant of Grace for us. This is what is in focus in the covenant made with Abraham (2). The blessings promised to the nations refers to the reversal of the curse we came under through Adam. The New Covenant (3) brings to fruition the promise of blessing for the nations made to Abraham (4). Without the New Covenant all are in Adam and under the curse. Yet, the New Covenant is made with the house of Israel and the House of Judah (5)! Gentiles must join themselves to the Holy Nation in order to be a part of this covenant. Yet amazingly I have been told by an opponent of the "Spiritual Israel" doctrine that Gentile believers do not have the New Covenant! He told me that since the covenant was made with Israel only Jewish people have it! Oy Vey! Do you see where the denial of the doctrine of "Spiritual Israel" logically leads?

Can it really be doubted that all believers are spiritually Israel? The scriptures tell us that Gentile believers are spiritual members of the Jewish family of faith along with the remnant of Jewish believers, even if most of the natural family members have temporarily left the household of faith by rejecting the New Covenant. By adoption Gentiles come into a relationship with the Jewish people and so should have a concern for the estranged members of their own faith family, just as they should be concerned for the spiritual return of children of Christian parents who have departed from the faith.

How can anyone reasonably deny that through the great salvation provided through the Jewish Messiah, Gentile believers have become spiritually Israel? This is the truth Jesus taught and this is the doctrine Paul taught -- pretty good theological company to find oneself in!

A Key Passage: Romans 11

Though all believers are spiritually Israel, if we truly understand Romans 11 there should be no question about the fact that God still has a claim on the Jewish people. The natural children of Abraham are still in some way chosen because of the patriarchs, even in unbelief. He will restore the Jewish people to faith one day. Romans 11:28 clearly tells us "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs." Consider these comments by leading Covenantal theologians:

John Calvin

"I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, -When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first born in God's family.

...as Jews are the firstborn, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, it is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, who God had preferred to all other nations...God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation...God was not unmindful of the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and by which he testified that according to his eternal purpose he loved that nation: and this he confirms by this remarkable declaration, -that the grace of the divine calling cannot be made void. (6)"

Charles Hodge

"The second great event, which, according to the common faith of the Church, is to precede the second advent of Christ, is the national conversion of the Jews....that there is to be such a national conversion may be argued...from the original call and destination of that people. God called Abraham and promised that through him, and in his seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed...A presumptive argument is drawn from the strange preservation of the Jews through so many centuries as a distinct people.

As the rejection of the Jews was not total, so neither is it final. First, God did not design to cast away his people entirely, but by their rejection, in the first place, to facilitate the progress of the gospel among the Gentiles, and ultimately to make the conversion of the Gentiles the means of converting the Jews...Because if the rejection of the Jews has been a source of blessing, much more will their restoration be the means of good...The restoration of the Jews to the privileges of God's people is included in the ancient predictions and promises made respecting them...The plan of God, therefore, contemplated the calling of the Gentiles, the temporary rejection and final restoration of the Jews...

He shows that the rejection of the Jews was not intended to result in their being finally cast away, but to secure the more rapid progress of the gospel among the heathen, in order that their conversion might react upon the Jews, and be the means of bringing all, at last, within the fold of the Redeemer...

The future restoration of the Jews is, in itself, a more probable event than the introduction of the Gentiles into the church of God. This, of course, supposes that God regarded the Jews, on account of their relation to him, with peculiar favor, and that there is still something in their relation to the ancient servants of God and his covenant with them, which causes them to be regarded with special interest. As men look upon the children of their early friends with kinder feelings than on the children of strangers, God refers to this fact to make us sensible that he still retains purposes of peculiar mercy towards his ancient people.

As the restoration of the Jews is not only a most desirable event, but one which God has determined to accomplish, Christians should keep it constantly in view even in their labors for the conversion of the Gentiles. (7)"

John Murray

"To the Jew first, and also to the Greek...It does not appear sufficient to regard this priority as that merely of time. In this text there is no suggestion to the effect that the priority is merely that of time. The implication appears to be rather that the power of God unto salvation through faith has primary relevance to the Jew, and the analogy of Scripture would indicate that this peculiar relevance to the Jew arises from the fact that the Jew had been chosen by God to be the recipient of the promise of the gospel and that to him were committed the oracles of God...

While it is true that in respect of the privileges accruing from Christ's accomplishments there is now no longer Jew or Gentile and the Gentiles "are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph. 3:6), yet it does not follow that Israel no longer fulfills any particular design in the realization of God's worldwide saving purpose...

Israel are both "enemies" and "beloved" at the same time, enemies as regards the gospel, beloved as regards the election..."Beloved" thus means that God has not suspended or rescinded his relation to Israel as his chosen people in terms of the covenants made with their fathers.

Unfaithful as Israel have been and broken off for that reason, yet God still sustains his peculiar relation of love to them, a relation that will be demonstrated and vindicated in the restoration. (8)"

Geerhardus Vos

"The elective principle, abolished as to nationality, continues in force as to individuals. And even with respect to national privilege, while temporarily abolished now that its purpose has been fulfilled, there still remains reserved for the future a certain fulfillment of the national elective promise. Israel in its racial capacity will again in the future be visited by the saving grace of God [Rom. 11.2, 12, 25]....such conversions (of Jewish people) remain for the present but sporadic examples, though at bottom expressive of a divine principle intended to work itself out on the largest of scales at the predetermined point in the future. (9)"

Let us recognize with these great men of theology God's continuing love for the Jewish people, yet not center our theology on ethnic Israel. Speaking of "replacement theology", let's not replace Jesus with Israel, or even put it on an equal footing with him in the plan of God! (10)

God has not replaced the Jewish people with the church. Quite to the contrary, God has grafted Gentile branches into the tree of believing Israel, a tree made up of all true believers, both Jewish and Gentile, a tree rooted in the faith of the patriarchs (Romans 11:17-24). God has expanded Israel, not replaced it.

It precisely because of the fact that Gentile believers have been grafted into the tree of Israel, a tree foreign to their nature, that they have an obligation to the Jewish people, those natural branches which were cut off and which will be grafted in again. The doctrine of spiritual Israel should never be abused to imply God is finished with the Jewish people -- quite the contrary! It is expressly because of the truth of this doctrine we must stand by the natural branches and pray for their grafting in again!

And how foolish is any form of anti-semitism on the part of some so-called "Christian!" For a Christian to hate Jewish people is to hate his own adopted family and nation -- and even His own Jewish Lord and Savior!

Towards A Commonwealth Theology

How do we reconcile a view of the church being "Spiritual Israel" with a belief that God still has a place for the physical descendants of Abraham? This is where "Commonwealth Theology" comes in (11). The church might be compared to a commonwealth. Consider the British Commonwealth in it's heyday. Indians and Pakistanis became citizens of the British Commonwealth, even while living in India and Pakistan. These people were under the dominion of the King of Great Britain, and were therefore part of the Commonwealth. They weren't English, but they were British citizens. So it is with those who are ruled by the Jewish Messiah. Have they not submitted to the King of Israel? Are they not voluntary members of His Kingdom, under His rule and in His service? Those who believe have accepted Israel's King and are now members of His Kingdom, known as the Commonwealth of Israel. Israel is the Kingdom of the King of Israel. Ethnic Israel is at the core, it is the root (12), but the greater Commonwealth of Israel is made up of all who believe. Gentile believers are citizens of the commonwealth, even if not resident in the land and not physically "Jewish", just as one could be a citizen of the commonwealth of Great Britain without living in the British Isles and not being English, Scottish, or Welsh.

Spiritual Israel is made up of Jews and Gentiles submitting to the King of Israel. Physical Israel is made up of those who are Jewish, most of whom do not presently submit to the King. All who submit to the King are under His blessing. All who don't submit are not under His blessing and have cut themselves off from any participation in the eternal blessings of the Covenant of Grace. However God certainly seems to have a special place in His heart for the natives of the center of the original borders of the commonwealth, even in unbelief, just as the King of the British Isles would have a special place in his heart for natives of the British Isles and be more upset at their rebellion than at the rebellion of India or Pakistan. But rebellion is rebellion, whether conducted by natives of the home territories or members of the commonwealth. Ultimately, God's glory is at stake. Messiah will re-conquer his original territory for the sake of his own Glory. Tell me, how is such a concept in any way either showing an unbalanced ethnic favoritism on the one hand or anti-semitic on the other? Isn't this consistent with what Paul says in Ephesians 2:19? He says that Gentile believers are "no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people (13)".

Messiah, The True Israel

To expand Israel it first had to be narrowed down to one person. The scriptures teach that Jesus is the ultimate Israel. In Matthew 2:15 the Holy Spirit quotes a verse referring to national Israel "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1) and says Jesus fulfills this prophecy! We are being told Jesus is the true faithful Israel of God. He alone is worthy of the covenant blessings. Messiah is the supreme seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Paul explicitly says: "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say `and to his seeds', meaning many people, but `and to his seed' meaning one person, who is Messiah". It is only through faith in Jesus that we come into the fullness of the promise to Abraham. This is to the Jew first, and also as for Gentiles.

Understanding The Prophets Biblically (Spiritually)

Alfred Edersheim, the greatest Messianic Jewish theologian ever, said:

"..we have the glowing descriptions by all the prophets, but especially in the Book of Isaiah, of the time of the new covenant, with its blessings to Israel and to mankind. That these bear reference to a spiritual world-wide dispensation in the Messianic days needs scarcely argument, any more than that all the conditions of it have been fulfilled in that dispensation which was introduced under the New Testament." (14)

Edersheim's statement that through the New Covenant we have come to the glorious fulfillment of Messianic promises given to Israel by the prophets is clearly true to the scriptures. Consider these Biblical truths:

Israel was told "the meek will inherit the land" (Psalm 37:11). Jesus said the meek would inherit the whole earth (Mt. 5:5). Paul says Abraham was to inherit "the world" (Rom. 4:13).

God promised Israel a city named Jerusalem. We are told we have come to a glorious heavenly Jerusalem, the community of the redeemed, superior (when seen through spiritual eyes) to anything experienced under the Old Covenant administration (Hebrews 12:22-23).

Paul says the true Jerusalem, the one which fulfills Isaiah 54, is the heavenly (spiritual) Jerusalem. (See how Isaiah 54:1 is interpreted in Galatians 4:26-27). This heavenly city, the church, is the congregation of the faithful (Hebrews 12:22-24).

Israel was promised a Temple; the New Covenant promises to both Jews and Gentiles (and still to the Jew first) that they can actually be the Temple! (1 Peter 2:5)

According to Isaiah 56:3 and the following verses Gentiles are admitted to God's people and come into the Temple. Hebrews says the old Temple has found fulfillment in the new. (See Hebrews 7:18, 8:13 and the whole rest of the book of Hebrews!)

Israel was promised a king -- God sent the world the King of Kings!

Certainly Edersheim was right to say of the New Covenant community: "all that had been national, preparatory, symbolic, typical, would merge into the spiritual reality of fulfillment." (15)

According to this great Jewish Christian theologian, the promises to national Israel have been realized in a glorious spiritual way through the Messiah! Even Rabbi Maimonides said: "All similar expressions used in connection with the Messianic age are metaphorical. In the days of King Messiah the full meaning of those metaphors and their allusions will become clear to all." (16)

Israel's Hope Fulfilled Beyond Expectation

Through Jesus we have more than could be conceived of by the prophets or their ancient readers. Peter says: "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Messiah in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things" (1 Peter 1:10-12). Amazing! God says the Old Testament prophets were speaking us that salvation which we have received! Our current experience of salvation was spoken of by the Hebrew prophets!

Why didn't most Jewish leaders recognize it? They interpreted the promises in worldly terms rather than understanding the deeper spiritual meanings. This is still the case with the Orthodox rabbis today, who openly claim to be heirs to the Pharisees. The Orthodox rabbis today say God did not bring about the fulfillment of the messianic promises through Jesus, therefore either Jesus is not Messiah or God is a liar.

Did God fail to deliver what He promised to the Jewish people? Consider this example: What if you expected me to give you a hamburger and then I gave you filet mignon? What if you were told you would inherit an apple tree, but instead you inherited a whole glorious orchard? What if you thought I promised you $10, but then I delivered a million? What if I promised a child a typewriter when he turned 18 and when the time came I gave him the latest computer. Would I be a liar? No! When someone gives IMMEASURABLY MORE than that expected, the gift giver is no liar. God has given an even greater gift through Jesus, superior to what many think was promised!

Sadly, even many believers today do not fully understand how much greater the New Covenant redemption is that Jesus brought to Israel and the world. Why dine on hamburger when you can have filet mignon? Why settle for a single tree, when you can have the whole orchard? Why stress the $10 when there is $1,000,000 available? Why use an old Underwood manual typewriter when you can have the latest personal computer and laser printer? The Messiah and His Eternal Kingdom are the great blessings promised to Israel.

All of what God was doing in the Tenach (Old Testament) and all of the promises of God to bring redemption throughout the ages are centered in Jesus. "No matter how many promises God has made, they are "yes" in Messiah" (2 Cor. 1:20). God has something better in mind for the Jewish people, the $1,000,000 rather than the $10. Messiah offers the Jewish people (and Gentiles who believe) a greater redemption which makes the old look small in comparison.

The greatest gift and blessing of all is offered: eternal salvation through Jesus, the only name by which people can be saved. Through Messiah we are heirs to the glorious kingdom of the New Jerusalem (see Galatians 4:26 -- and notice carefully how Paul, under the Spirit's inspiration, interprets the original prophecy, Isaiah 54:1!)

The Kingdom of God is more magnificent than anything experienced under David. The past splendor of the Davidic kingdom is but a shadow of what God has done, is now doing, and will do through the Messiah (Hebrews 10:1). If we miss how God's promises reach their greater fulfillment in the New Covenant we rob Jewish and Gentile believers of a deeper understanding of the our glorious identity as sons of God through Messiah!

We must always be vigilant to combat the danger of diminishing the centrality of Jesus in the plan of God. Anything which takes the spotlight off of Jesus or diminishes the glory He is due should disturb us. Jesus alone saves us from death and Hell. He alone is the hope of the world. He alone should occupy the center of our theology. Nothing should ever take His place.

All creation groans in waiting for God's sons to be revealed. This will be the ultimate expression of the Passover liberation Messiah has brought. Renewal of all creation has already begun in those who believe -- and when Jesus returns He will liberate this creation from its bondage to decay (2 Cor. 5:17, Romans 8:17-23). The curse of the Fall is being replaced with the blessing of salvation as the kingdom of Messiah goes forward.

Let's affirm the great expansion of blessing the Messiah has brought. He has tremendously expanded the promises to Israel, and He has greatly enlarged Israel by bringing Gentiles into His spiritual commonwealth, the Kingdom of God. This was promised to Israel by Isaiah when he said "You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy...of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end" (9:3 and 7) and "Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, `The LORD will surely exclude me from his people...these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer" (56:3 and 7). We have now come to "Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God...to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn..." (Hebrews 12:22-23)

Through Jesus Israel has been expanded in a glorious way, not replaced. Fulfillment of the promise to Abraham has come and will go forward until its completion when Messiah returns. Jesus must reign until all his enemies are placed under his feet. He will conquer all nations, including the Jewish nation with the gospel. Therefore, let us recommit ourselves to bringing the message of restoration to blessing "to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile"!

"You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy...For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." (17)

1. Hosea 6:7

2. Genesis 12:3 and 22:18.

3. Jeremiah 31:31ff

4. Galatians 3:14.

5. Jeremiah 31:31.

6. (Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. XIX, Epistle to the Romans, Baker Book House, 1981, p. 434-440.)

7. (Systematic Theology V.3, James Clark & Co. 1960, p. 805. and A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, by Charles Hodge Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1836, pp. 270-285 passim. Now Published by Banner of Truth Trust)

8. (The Epistles to the Romans, John Murray, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984, Vol. I, p. 28 and Vol. II pp. xiv-xv and 76-101, passim.)

9. (Biblical Theology, Old and New Testaments, by Geerhardus Vos (c)1948 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Tenth Printing, page 79 and The Pauline Eschatology, by Geerhardus Vos, (c) 1979 Baker Book House, page 88.)

10. This is the sin of ethnolatry. Anything can become an idol, even good things, even Israel.

11. See Ephesians 2:12

12. Romans 11:18

13. I take the phrase "God's people" to mean Jewish believers in Jesus in tis context.

14. Quoted from Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah, Baker Book House, 1955, page 180.

15. Prophecy... page 174.

16. Speaking of Isaiah 11:6 "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb". From Guide to the Perplexed, III, ch. 11; also II, ch. 29. Quoted in A Maimonides Reader, by Isadore Twersky, page 224, Behrman House Publishers, Copyright 1972.

17. Isaiah 9: verses 3, 6 and 7.

http://www.chaim.org/xpansion.htm

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Epistle To Diognetus And Penal Substitution

And so, when our unrighteousness had come to its full term, and it had become perfectly plain that its recompense of punishment and death had to be expected, then the season arrived in which God had determined to show at last his goodness and power. O the overflowing kindness and love of God toward man! God did not hate us, or drive us away, or bear us ill will. Rather, he was long-suffering and forbearing. In his mercy, he took up the burden of our sins. He himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us—the holy one for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else could cover our sins except his righteousness? In whom could we, lawless and impious as we were, be made righteous except in the Son of God alone? O sweetest exchange! O unfathomable work of God! O blessings beyond all expectation! The sinfulness of many is hidden in the Righteous One, while the righteousness of the One justifies the many that are sinners. In the former time he had proved to us our nature's inability to gain life; now he showed the Saviour's power to save even the powerless, with the intention that on both counts we should have faith in his goodness, and look on him as Nurse, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, Mind, Light, Honor, Glory, Might, Life—and that we should not be anxious about clothing and food.

Mathetes to Diognetus, 9

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Debunking Trent Horn's Assertions About The Apocrypha And Old Testament Canon

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a number of claims set forth by Trent Horn of Catholic Answers regarding whether the apocryphal books belong in the Old Testament canon. Following are excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "The authors of the deuterocanonical books did not believe the Hebrew canon was closed or that there was a set of books called “the Writings,” to which no more could be added. The prologue to Sirach only references “the law and the prophets and the others that followed them” and “the law itself, the prophecies, and the rest of the books.” Second Maccabees describes Judas the Maccabee encouraging his troops only with words “from the law and the prophets” (15:9)."

          This attempt at refutation by Trent Horn is ridiculous and manufactured. The quoted excerpts from the deuterocanonicals are so clear as to require no commentary. Even the Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition says the following regarding 2 Maccabees 15:9 and the Prologue of Sirach:

          "15:9 The law and the prophets: the first of the three parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the sacred books (1 Mc 12:9; 2 Mc 2:14)."

          "Foreword The Law, the prophets, and the authors who followed them: an indication of the eventual tripartite division of the Hebrew Scriptures: Law (torah), Prophets (nebi’im), and Writings (ketubim), shortened in the acronym Tanak. Thirty-eighth…Euergetes: 132 B.C. The reference is to Ptolemy VII, Physkon Euergetes II (170–163; 145–117 B.C.)."

          The Old Testament used by Protestants is identical in substance to the Tanakh, which does not include the Roman Catholic apocrypha.

          "According to Old Testament scholar Otto Kaiser, the deuterocanonical books “presuppose the validity of the Law and the Prophets and also utilize the Ketubim, or ‘Writings’ collection, which was, at the time, still in the process of formation and not yet closed.” In fact, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain Jewish writings from the years 400 B.C. to A.D. 100, include copies of deuterocanonical books like Sirach, Tobit, and Baruch, which shows they were considered to be part of the Writings."

          Alex Andersen, in his essay titled Reconsidering the Roman Catholic Apocrypha, notes the following regarding the Essene community and the Dead Sea Scrolls:
       
          "...scholars do not know what authority the Essene community granted to the apocryphal books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schnabel 17). In addition, Beckwith wrote that “the inspiration claimed at Qumran [i.e., within the Essene community] was an inspiration to interpret the Scriptures, not to add to them” (2582). The Essenes only believed that they knew the proper interpretation of the Hebrew canon, not that they could create a new and improved Hebrew canon (Beckwith 2582). That the Essenes did not consider the books in the Roman Catholic Apocrypha to be canonical is also evinced by the fact that the Essenes introduced quotations from the books of the Hebrew canon with unique phrases (Beckwith 2578). Because of these facts, and because the Essenes did not attempt to intersperse any books from the Roman Catholic Apocrypha among the books of the Hebrew canon, the books from Roman Catholic Apocrypha which are found among the Dead Sea Scrolls should be considered at most as an interpretative appendix to the Hebrew Scriptures (Beckwith 2578). Hence, the Essenes accepted the limits of the Hebrew canon."

          "Scholar Emanuel Tov argues that this special style indicates which documents among the Dead Sea Scrolls were considered by their authors were considered to be biblical, like Sirach, and which were not: “There is a special layout for poetical units that is almost exclusive to biblical texts (including Ben Sira [Sirach]), and is not found in any of the non-biblical poetical compositions from the Judean desert."

          Hundreds of manuscripts of non-biblical material have been discovered in the Qumran caves. It was comparable to a library which contains many different genres of literature. So one cannot appeal to the Dead Sea Scrolls as grounds for including the apocrypha in the Old Testament canon.

          "Hebrews 11:35 describes people in the Old Testament who “were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they may rise again to a better life.” These people are only described in 2 Maccabees 7, which describes brothers who accept torture instead of eating pork and violating Jewish law. Since the context of Hebrews 11 includes “the men of old [who] received divine approval” (v. 2), this means the books describing the Maccabean martyrs were part of the Old Testament that was used by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews."

          The author of Hebrews could have referenced the Maccabeean Revolt for the reason this rebellion took place in more recent history and not that he ascribed canonical status to 2 Maccabees. It would make sense for one to consult that work for historical purposes due to that event having a particular significance to an audience with a Jewish background. Furthermore, there could have been multiple sources or family traditions from which the author of Hebrews gathered his information.

          "The idea that the early Church viewed the deuterocanonical books as Scripture is even more evident in the writings of early Church fathers like Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Methodius, Cyprian, and Origen. Moreover, these fathers cited these books as “Scripture” or “holy Scripture,” and none of the pre-Nicene Church fathers ever declares the deuterocanonical books to be uninspired or non-canonical. St. Jerome even tells us that at the Council of Nicaea the deuterocanonical work of Judith was considered to be a part of the canon of Scriptures."

         The books of the apocrypha were sometimes called "Scripture," not because they were accorded canonical status, but that they were included in the Septuagint. This would be analogous to one citing a marginal note from a study Bible and saying that it is in the Bible (without meaning that it is the actual text of Scripture).

          Some church fathers were not familiar with the Hebrew canon and so mistakenly thought the deuterocanonicals to have been accepted as inspired Scripture by the Jews. A distinction was made between the canonical books of the Old Testament and the deuterocanonicals as early as the second century which lasted until the timing of the Council of Trent.

Did God Abandon Jesus Christ At The Cross?

"The words of Jesus at Matthew 27:46 have come in for many kinds of interpretation. Unfortunately, many of the theories have compromised the Bible's teachings on the nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son. The Father was never separated from or abandoned the Son. This truth is clear from many sources. Jesus uses the second person when speaking to the Father-"why have You forsaken Me?" rather than "why did He forsake Me?" as if the Father is no longer present. Immediately on the heels of this statement Jesus speaks to the Father ("Father, into your hands. . "), showing no sense of separation. Whatever else Jesus was saying, He was not saying that, at the very time of His ultimate obedience to the Father, the Father abandoned Him. Rather, it seems much more logical to see this as a quotation of Psalm 22 that is meant to call to mind all of that Psalm, which would include the victory of v. 19ff, as well as verse 24, which states, "For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard."

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 215, note 1 for chapter 11

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Person And Work Of The Holy Spirit

"There is one concept used of the Spirit that is often thrown out as evidence against the His personhood. We often hear, "The Spirit cannot be a person, because we are baptized in the Spirit and hence, you can't be baptized in a person, but in a substance or a force." Yet, in reality, the Bible speaks of our being baptized into Christ Jesus in Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27, and neither passage is ever cited to make the point that Jesus is not a person. All through the New Testament we are said to be "in Christ" or "in Him," and this is never taken to mean that Jesus is not a person. Likewise, being baptized in the Holy Spirit does not deny He is a person-rather, it speaks to His omnipresence and spirituality."

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 148

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Personality Of The Holy Spirit And Neuter Gender

"...the argument that is often heard is that the phrase "Holy Spirit" in Greek is in the neuter gender, and it is. But Greek genders do not necessarily indicate personality. Inanimate things can have masculine genders, and personal things can have the neuter gender. We cannot automatically insert the pronoun "it" when referring to every neuter noun any more than we should always insert the pronoun "she" for "love," since love in Greek is feminine. Instead, we determine whether the Holy Spirit is personal the same way we would demonstrate that the Father or the Son is a person."

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 141

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Using The Exodus To Illustrate Imputed Righteousness

        The purpose of the Passover meal was to bring into the hearts and minds of the Jews their deliverance by God from captivity in Egypt. He was moved with compassion to redeem His people as they cried out to Him as a result of brutal enslavement by the Pharaoh (Exodus 3:9).

        Being the final part of a series of plagues, God required that the Jewish people sacrifice lambs and apply blood to their doorposts in order that He pass by those houses and leave the firstborn children unharmed (Exodus 12:7; 12-13; 21-24; 27). The Pharaoh lost his firstborn son as the Lord cast judgement on Egypt.

         This incident is illustrative of the imputation of Jesus Christ's righteousness to those who have placed their trust in Him. We have a righteous status credited to our account before God because we have been covered by the shed blood of His Son.

        We are not under divine judgement, but forgiven of our sins. Just as the blood of the lambs was applied to the doors of the houses to spare the oppressed people of judgement, so the blood of Christ is applied to us by faith to enable access to God.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Spiritual Fullness In Christ

We may observe here the great concern which Paul had for these Colossians and the other churches which he had not any personal knowledge of. The apostle had never been at Colosse, and the church planted there was not of his planting; and yet he had as tender a care of it as if it had been the only people of his charge (v. 1): For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh. Observe, 1. Paul's care of the church was such as amounted to a conflict. He was in a sort of agony, and had a constant fear respecting what would become of them. Herein he was a follower of his Master, who was in an agony for us, and was heard in that he feared. (2.) We may keep up a communion by faith, hope, and holy love, even with those churches and fellow-christians of whom we have no personal knowledge, and with whom we have no conversation. We can think, and pray, and be concerned for one another, at the greatest distance; and those we never saw in the flesh we may hope to meet in heaven. But,

I. What was it that the apostle desired for them? That their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, &c., v. 2. It was their spiritual welfare about which he was solicitous. He does not say that they may be healthy, and merry, and rich, and great, and prosperous; but that their hearts may be comforted. Note, The prosperity of the soul is the best prosperity, and what we should be most solicitous about for ourselves and others. We have here a description of soul-prosperity.

1. When our knowledge grows to an understanding of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ,--when we come to have a more clear, distinct, methodical knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, then the soul prospers: To understand the mystery, either what was before concealed, but is now made known concerning the Father and Christ, or the mystery before mentioned, of calling the Gentiles into the Christian church, as the Father and Christ have revealed it in the gospel; and not barely to speak of it by rote, or as we have been taught it by our catechisms, but to be led into it, and enter into the meaning and design of it. This is what we should labour after, and then the soul prospers.

2. When our faith grows to a full assurance and bold acknowledgment of this mystery. (1.) To a full assurance, or a well-settled judgment, upon their proper evidence, of the great truths of the gospel, without doubting, or calling them in question, but embracing them with the highest satisfaction, as faithful sayings and worthy of all acceptation. (2.) When it comes to a free acknowledgment, and we not only believe with the heart, but are ready, when called to it, to make confession with our mouth, and are not ashamed of our Master and our holy religion, under the frowns and violence of their enemies. This is called the riches of the full assurance of understanding. Great knowledge and strong faith make a soul rich. This is being rich towards God, and rich in faith, and having the true riches, Luke xii. 21; xvi. 11; Jam. ii. 5.

3. It consists in the abundance of comfort in our souls: That their hearts might be comforted. The soul prospers when it is filled with joy and peace (Rom. xv. 13), and has a satisfaction within which all the troubles without cannot disturb, and is able to joy in the Lord when all other comforts fail, Hab. iii. 17, 18.

4. The more intimate communion we have with our fellow-christians the more the soul prospers: Being knit together in love. Holy love knits the hearts of Christians one to another; and faith and love both contribute to our comfort. The stronger our faith is, and the warmer our love, the greater will our comfort be. Having occasion to mention Christ (v. 2), according to his usual way, he makes this remark to his honour (v. 3): In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He had said (ch. i. 19) that all fulness dwells in him: here he mentions particularly the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. There is a fulness of wisdom in him, as he has perfectly revealed the will of God to mankind. Observe, The treasures of wisdom are hidden not from us, but for us, in Christ. Those who would be wise and knowing must make application to Christ. We must spend upon the stock which is laid up for us in him, and draw from the treasures which are hidden in him. He is the wisdom of God, and is of God made unto us wisdom, &c., 1 Cor. i. 24, 30.

II. His concern for them is repeated (v. 5): Though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying, and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. Observe, 1. We may be present in spirit with those churches and Christians from whom we are absent in body; for the communion of saints is a spiritual thing. Paul had heard concerning the Colossians that they were orderly and regular; and though he had never seen them, nor was present with them, he tells them he could easily think himself among them, and look with pleasure upon their good behaviour. 2. The order and stedfastness of Christians are matter of joy to ministers; they joy when they behold their order, their regular behaviour and stedfast adherence to the Christian doctrine. 3. The more stedfast our faith in Christ is, the better order there will be in our whole conversation; for we live and walk by faith, 2 Cor. v. 7; Heb. x. 38.

Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Colossians 2:1-3

Saturday, August 15, 2020

John 1:1-3 And The Deity Of Christ

The English word “was” is about as bland a term as you can find. Yet in Greek, it is most expressive. The Greeks were quite concerned about being able to express subtleties in regard not only to when something happened, but how it happened as well. Our little word “was” is poorly suited to handle the depth of the Greek at this point. John’s choice of words is deliberate and, quite honestly, beautiful.

Throughout the prologue of the Gospel of John, the author balances between two verbs. When speaking of the Logos as He existed in eternity past, John uses the Greek word rlv, en (a form of eimi). The tense’ of the word expresses continuous action in the past. Compare this with the verb he chooses to use when speaking of everything else-found, for example, in verse 3: “All things carne into being through Him,” eyeve ro, egeneto. This verb contains the very element missing from the other: a point of origin. The term, when used in contexts of creation and origin, speaks of a time when something came into existence. The first verb, en, does not. John is very careful to use only the first verb of the Logos throughout the first thirteen verses, and the second verb, egeneto, he uses for everything else (including John the Baptist in verse 6). Finally, in verse 14, he breaks this pattern, for a very specific reason, as we shall see. 

Why emphasize the tense of a little verb? Because it tells us a great deal. When we speak of the Word, the Logos, we must ask ourselves: how long has the Logos existed? Did the Logos come into being at a point in time? Is the Logos a creature? John is very concerned that we get the right answer to such questions, and he provides the answers by the careful selection of the words he uses.

Above we noted that John gave us some very important information about the time frame he has in mind when he says “in the beginning.” That information is found in the tense of the verb en. You see, as far back as you wish to push “the beginning,” the Word is already in existence. The Word does not come into existence at the “beginning,” but is already in existence when the “beginning” takes place. If we take the beginning of John 1:1, the Word is already there. If we push it back further (if one can even do so!), say, a year, the Word is already there. A thousand years, the Word is there. A billion years, the Word is there.’ What is John’s point? The Word is eternal. The Word has always existed. The Word is not a creation. The New English Bible puts it quite nicely: “When all things began, the Word already was.”

Right from the start, then, John tells us something vital about the Word. Whatever else we will learn about the Word, the Word is eternal. With this John begins to lay the foundation for what will come.

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 46-48

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Jesus Being The Source Of Wisdom Is Evidence Of His Divinity

        The Old Testament affirms that God is the source of all wisdom and understanding:

        "With Him are wisdom and might; to Him belong counsel and understanding." (Job 12:13)

        "Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom and power;
even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, for You have made known to us the king’s matter.” (Daniel 2:20-23)

        The New Testament affirms that all knowledge and wisdom come from Christ Himself:

        "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:3)

        Therefore, it is reasonable for us to conclude that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. He is fully human and fully divine.

        If the Lord Jesus Christ is only a created being, and He is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), then would that also mean that God had no wisdom and power prior to Him creating His Son (which is absurd in the highest degree)?

John 21:24 And John's Authorship

What I wish to show now is that John 21:24 belongs to a group of passages in the Gospel that may be termed self-disclosure texts. In several of the discourses of the Gospel, at a climactic point in the discourse, Jesus reveals that he is a person or entity that, up to that point in the conversation, had been spoken of in the third person. The Samaritan woman, for instance, after calling Jesus a prophet, refers to a third person, the Messiah who is to come. At the climax of their dialogue she states her belief that "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us" (4:25). At this point Jesus discloses, "I who speak to you am he" (4:26). On analogy with 4:26, the author of 21:24a could have written, "I who write to you am this disciple."…

But then comes the climactic Son of Man self-disclosure text in 9:37, and this one is even more like the self-disclosure in 21:24, for in it Jesus does not use "I" but maintains the use of the third person….On analogy with Jesus' self-disclosure in 9:37, the author of 21:24a would have written, "you have been reading this disciple's writing, and it is he who is bearing witness of these things to you," which is very close to what he did write…

At the end of his Gospel, by narrating a story about a character spoken of in the third person, and then at a climactic point in the narrative identifying himself as that character, the author follows the same pattern of self-disclosure that has been exemplified multiple times by the figure of Jesus in his narrative.

The obvious point is that 21:24ab is not a source-disclosure - the author disclosing that the principle source for the material in his book was the disciple who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper - but a self-disclosure, revealing that the author is that favored disciple….This is the most natural way to read the text grammatically, it is the way most suited to the Johannine literary tendencies, and it is the way early readers instinctively understood it. That some other party, an editor/redactor, could be thought to have slipped in between the beloved disciple and the author, at this point speaks only to the power of a pre-imposed theory about the composition of the Gospel….

If [the Beloved Disciple] had died, and the rumor [in John 21:23] had been allowed to circulate uncensored, then surely the focus would no longer be on the disciple and his death but on the Lord and his failure to return. This would seem especially so if, as many interpreters say, the disciple had been "long since dead." For in this case the community obviously would have somehow found a way to function successfully for a "long" period of time, despite the non-return of the Lord. And in that case, there surely would have been no need to reintroduce the potentially damaging rumor, and indeed there would have been an unnecessary risk in doing so. Verse 23 makes good sense, on the other hand, if the disciple was fully alive, and more especially so if he was quite old at the time when the book was released. For it was when he was no longer a young man, no longer middle-aged, but actually old and seemingly not far away from natural death, that such a rumor would be most capable of arousing the greatest interest….

The Gospel author's reticence about using the first person singular, but instead shifting to the plural when his authority comes into view [the "we" in John 21:24], is of a piece with his decision not to name himself explicitly in his Gospel. Compare Paul's "modest" uses of the epistolary plural in Rom 1:5…2 Cor 10:13…how Josephus switches from singular to plural when speaking of his intention to author a new book on matters relating to mutual relations between Jews [Antiquities Of The Jews, 4:198]…the plural here is simply a substitution for the singular, perhaps because it sounded a bit less pretentious….

From the aggregate of these passages [in the fourth gospel and the Johannine letters], at least two conclusions ought to be drawn. The first is that the verification in 21:24c, "we know that his testimony is true," is utterly domestic in John; it is not an oddity requiring a complex compositional theory to explain its existence. This eliminates the need for supposing that we might have here an intrusion of an outside third party before the Gospel was finished, or a later interpolation. Confessional verifications are a feature of the Johannine literature and in no other instance is the confessional verification given by an otherwise unknown, third party….

Second, and contrary to what is commonly held to be an indubitable fact, no matter how we understand the "we" in 21:24c, the verification here does not arise from a necessity to find a plurality of witnesses to legitimize or legalize the witness of the beloved disciple, least of all does it arise from some "extreme need to support the trustworthiness of the Johannine tradition." In two of the texts cited above (John 5:32; 12:50) it is Jesus who verifies that the Father's testimony is true, or that the Father's commandment is eternal life. In John, the Father is hardly someone who suffers an "extreme need" for external verification….

The author's use of the third person singular to refer to himself, both in the earlier narratives of the Gospel and here in 21:24 ("This is the disciple…his testimony is true"), was a common practice among ancient historical writers, it is a convention modeled by Jesus himself repeatedly in this Gospel, and it was easily recognized and understood as such by early readers of this Gospel….

The final two verses of the book, then, function as an "authentication" of the whole, by revealing that the author, as a participant in the narrative, is abundantly qualified to give his witness, and then by solemnly confessing his knowledge that the witness is true….

What this means is that those who seek support for the idea of a Johannine school of writers responsible for the writing of the Fourth Gospel ought to look for another "classic proof text for the School's existence." If there are any good reasons to posit an extensive redaction of this Gospel sometime after the death of the beloved disciple, they do not arise from John 21:24.

Charles Hill wrote a chapter about John 21:24 in Lois K. Fuller Dow, et al., edd., The Language And Literature Of The New Testament, p. 403-404, 406-408, n. 81 on 422-23, 431, 433-34, above excerpts originally cited by Jason Engwer

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Purpose And Scope Of The Johannine Epistles

"In the writings of Paul the doctrine of justification is prominent; in those of John, the doctrine of regeneration. Paul conceives of the natural man as out of favor with God; John, as outside the family of God. But though there is this difference of emphasis in the two Apostles, neither of them limits himself to the one doctrine: Paul also believes in the doctrine of regeneration and John, in that of justification. Ironside says: "The writings of the Apostle John have always had a peculiar charm or the people of the Lord, and I suppose, if for no other reason, for this, that they are particularly addressed to the family of God as such." Although the First Epistle is chiefly didactic and controversial, the personal note is not entirely absent. Yet there are no proper names (except that of our Lord), nor historical or geographical allusions in it. The writer deals with the errors which he combats from the high standpoint of a personal relationship and fellowship with God, and not from that of a theoretical polemicist."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 306

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Does Christ Offer Himself As A Sacrifice For Our Sins Every Day?

        “Christ daily offers himself upon our altars for our redemption...[and] wishes that there should be a continuation of the sacrifice.” (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 73 & 79)

        The Scriptures are emphatic that Jesus Christ does not offer Himself daily. His sacrifice is not continuing:

        "who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself." (Hebrews 7:27)

        "nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Hebrews 9:25-26)

        The work of Christ accomplished on the cross at Calvary is sufficient to satisfy our debt of sin:

        "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

        Roman Catholic apologists are adamant that Christ does not get put to death at each Mass. But how can there be no death of a victim who is offered up in a sacrifice? This no doubt constitutes a dilemma for the Roman Catholic position:

        "and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." (Revelation 1:18)

        It is an insult for us to present on a continual basis Christ who has forever conquered death as being in that same state of humiliation on the cross.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Examining Catholic Redemptive Suffering In Light Of Scripture

        This source explains the Roman Catholic idea of redemptive suffering as follows:

        "The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in paragraph 1502 teaches that all pain, toil and sorrow united to Christ's passion "can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others." In paragraph 1505 the CCC explains, "Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: ... By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion." Paragraph 1521 likewise states that suffering in "union with the passion of Christ ... acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus."

        Scripture, on the other hand, affirms that it is Jesus Christ Himself who atones for sin and not our suffering in addition to what He has done on our behalf. His work on the cross has ensured that we obtain redemption and the forgiveness of sin:

        "he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:12)

        Scripture does not bring together our pain and suffering with the shed blood of Christ in the manner of making atonement:

        "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood." (Hebrews 13:12)

        "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

        "And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." (Revelation 5:9)

        Christ's one offering put away sin and thus any other atoning work is rendered unnecessary:

        "for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:26-28)

        Roman Catholic apologists sometimes appeal to texts such as 2 Corinthians 1:5-7, Colossians 1:24, and Galatians 2:20 in order to substantiate the idea that our suffering can cancel out punishment for sins committed by ourselves and for other people when offered together with the sacrifice of Christ.

        Regarding the text from 2 Corinthians, hardship for preaching the gospel resulted in it being shared and exemplified to the Christians dwelling at Corinth. Suffering can produce comfort and hope in God which can be shared with other people. In addition, the term "salvation" encompasses both the instance of "justification" and the ongoing process of "sanctification."

        Regarding the text from Colossians, one commentator explains, "That which is behind of the sufferings of Christ — That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ, 1. Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole; and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all 2. Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth. And these also are necessary for the church; not to reconcile it to God, or satisfy for sin, (for that Christ did perfectly,) but for example to others, perfecting of the saints, and increasing their reward."

        Regarding the text from Galatians, Thomas Constable says, "When a person trusts Christ, God identifies him or her with Christ not only in the present and future but also in the past. The believer did what Christ did. When Christ died, I died. When Christ arose from the grave, I arose to newness of life. My old self-centered life died when I died with Christ. His Spirit-directed life began in me when I arose with Christ. Therefore in this sense the Christian’s life is really the life of Christ. We can also live by faith daily just as we became Christians by faith (v. 16). Faith in both cases means trust in Christ. We can trust Him because He loved us and gave Himself up as a sacrifice for us. In this verse Paul’s use of “crucified” instead of “put to death” or “died” stresses our sinfulness. Only the worst criminals suffered crucifixion in Paul’s day. His reference to “the flesh” here is literal. It means our physical bodies. We can see Paul’s great appreciation of God’s love for him. He said Christ loved “me” and gave Himself for “me.” “The whole of Christian life is a response to the love exhibited in the death of the Son of God for men.”

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Are We Physically Healed By Jesus' Stripes?

So what does Isaiah 53:5 promise Christians if it’s not an offer of immediate, unblemished health for all Christians? John MacArthur sheds clear light on the matter in his commentary on 1 Peter 2:24 (which, noted earlier, quotes from Isaiah 53:5):

Christ died for believers to separate them from sin’s penalty, so it can never condemn them. The record of their sins, the indictment of guilt that had them headed for hell, was “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:12–14). Jesus paid their debt to God in full. In that sense, all Christians are freed from sin’s penalty. They are also delivered from its dominating power and made able to live to righteousness (cf. Romans 6:16–22).

Peter describes this death to sin and becoming alive to righteousness as a healing: by His wounds you were healed. This too is borrowed from the Old Testament prophet when he wrote “by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Wounds is a better usage than “scourging” since the latter may give the impression that the beating of Jesus produced salvation. Both Isaiah and Peter meant the wounds of Jesus that were part of the execution process. Wounds is a general reference—a synonym for all the suffering that brought Him to death. And the healing here is spiritual, not physical. Neither Isaiah nor Peter intended physical healing as the result in these references to Christ’s sufferings. Physical healing for all who believe does result from Christ’s atoning work, but such healing awaits a future realization in the perfections of heaven. In resurrection glory, believers will experience no sickness, pain, suffering, or death (Revelation 21:1–4; 22:1–3). [4]

To be fair, Matthew’s gospel does seem to make a connection between Isaiah 53:5 and physical healings that occurred during Christ’s earthly ministry:

They brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16–17)

But was Christ’s healing ministry His end game, or did it point to an eternal cure? After all, the people he healed still died. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he still eventually died again. People were healed but the curse wasn’t reversed. Jesus died for the sins of men, but men still continued to sin. He defeated death but His followers continued to die. There is an ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s atoning work that will not be realized this side of eternity (Romans 8:22–25). That’s why John MacArthur rightly observes:

Those who claim that Christians should never be sick because there is healing in the atonement should also claim that Christians should never die, because Jesus also conquered death in the atonement. The central message of the gospel is deliverance from sin. It is the good news about forgiveness, not health. Christ was made sin, not disease, and He died on the cross for our sin, not our sickness. As Peter makes clear, Christ’s wounds heal us from sin, not from disease. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). [5]

There is healing in Christ’s atonement but it’s obviously not fully realized in the present. Christians and non-Christians alike still feel the effects of the curse, and will ultimately die. Our ultimate perfect healing is certain, but it awaits us in the same way that we still await our resurrection bodies. And that shouldn’t bring disappointment to this present life. Rather, it is a glorious future reality for us to anticipate with great joy.

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B160817

Thursday, August 6, 2020

2 Thessalonians 2:2 And The Reliability Of New Testament Texts

        "that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come." (2 Thessalonians 2:2)

       The above reference shows us that even the earliest Christians were aware of the possibility of pseudonymous letters, which bolsters our confidence in having the full New Testament canon.

        It is also worth noting that Paul wrote his signature at the end of each epistle circulated by him (1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18; Galatians 6:11; Philemon 19).

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Story Of The Woman Caught In Adultery

"The section about the adulterous (7:53-8-11) is, no doubt, a true story from the life of Jesus; but it is poorly supported by documentary evidence. It is not found in Aleph A B C L T W X Delta and at least seventy cursives and numerous Evangelistaria (Gospel Lectionaries). It is also wanting in the Old Syriac, the Peshitta, the Harkloan, in some copies of the Old Latin, and in several of the minor versions. Really, it appears in no Greek manuscript earlier than the eighth century, save in Codex Beza (5"cent.), which has many textual peculiarities. It is not quoted as by John until late in the fourth century, at which time Augustine says that some have removed it from their copies, fearing, he supposes, that its presence might give their wives undue license Jerome says that in his day it was contained in many Greek and Latin MSS." Plummer reminds us, however, that most of the worst corruptions of the text were already in existence in Jerome's time." Practically all scholars today accept it as a true incident in the life of Jesus, but not as a genuine part of John's Gospel. This includes conservative scholars as Warfield and A. T. Robertson. Yet there we have the statements of Jerome and Augustine!"

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 176

Monday, August 3, 2020

Debunking Trent Horn's Claims About The Existence Of The Papacy In The Early Church

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as a rebuttal to the claims of Trent Horn at Catholic Answers in regards to the question of whether the office of pope is historical. Following are a few excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

           "But didn’t Peter refer to himself as a “fellow elder” and not as “pope” in 1 Peter 5:1? Yes, but in this passage Peter is demonstrating humility that he is encouraging other priests to practice. He wrote, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another” (5:5), so exalting his status would have contradicted his message. Besides, St. Paul often referred to himself as a mere deacon (see 1 Cor. 3:5, 2 Cor. 11:23) and even said he was “the very least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8)—but that did not take away from his authority as an apostle. Likewise, Peter’s description of himself as an elder does not take away from his authority as being “first” among the apostles (Matt 10:2)."

          Many assumptions have been projected into the text of Scripture. The most obvious of these is that Peter does not refer to himself as pope to induce humility and not because he knew nothing of the office of pope. It is not a sound practice to build an argument entirely on what has not been said. The text of 1 Peter weakens the Roman Catholic case for Peter being first pope because it indicates that he put himself on par with other elders. He never claimed any papal identity or authority.

          "In regard to the authority of the Bishop of Rome as Peter’s successor, in the first century Clement of Rome (the fourth pope) intervened in a dispute in the Church of Corinth. He warned those who disobeyed him that they would “involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger,” thus demonstrating his authority over non-Roman Christians."

          Consider this excerpt from the New World Encyclopedia on the nature of the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians:

           "The First Epistle of Clement does not claim internally to be written by Clement, but by an anonymous person acting on behalf of the Roman church to the church at Corinth. Its purpose is to object to the removal of certain presbyters (elders) of Corinth, an action it considers unjustified. Whether there was only a single bishop at Rome at this time is debated. It may be that the writer is himself a presbyter or one of several bishops (overseers) who also acted as the church's secretary. If he were the reigning bishop, it seems likely that he would refer to himself as such or signed the letter by name."

          "St. Ignatius of Antioch referred to the Roman Church as the one that teaches other churches and “presides in love” over them. In fact, the writings of Pope Clement (A.D. 92-99) and Pope Soter (A.D. 167-174) were so popular that they were read in the Church alongside Scripture (Eusebius, Church History 4:23:9)."

           The above presented information shows us, not that Rome held a position of primacy, but it was honored amongst other churches. Eastern Orthodox commentator Andrew Stephen Damick notes the following regarding the use of Ignatius to support papal authority:

           "…the modern Roman Catholic vision of Church unity being defined by subjection to a worldwide bishop in Rome is not found in Ignatius’s writings. We saw how he described his friend Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna as “one who has God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as his bishop” (To Polycarp, Salutation). He does not say that Polycarp has the bishop of Rome for his bishop nor even a regional Asian primate (i.e., a senior bishop in his area). Being a bishop, Polycarp’s bishop is God. With all that Ignatius has to say about the episcopacy and especially about unity, he had the perfect opportunity to insist on a worldwide pontificate for Rome’s bishop. Rome was certainly on his mind, since he was traveling there to be martyred as Peter and Paul had been before him. Yet in his six letters addressed to churches, it is only his letter to Rome in which he does not even mention their bishop (who was probably either St. Evaristus or St. Alexander I). In the other five letters to churches, the bishop is mentioned, and in three of them, the bishop is mentioned by name. When writing to the Roman Christians, he does mention Peter, but equally with Paul as both are apostles who could give them “orders,” while Ignatius himself would never presume to do that (Romans 4:3). In Ignatius’s writings, there is never any special role given to the Roman bishop or the Roman church, nor even to the Apostle Peter. And when he writes to Rome, he does not ask the Roman bishop to send a bishop to Antioch to replace him. Rather, he makes that request of Polycarp and his church in Smyrna (To Polycarp 7:2)."

           If one wants to cite Eusebius in defending the Papacy, then he or she will have to account for his non-Papal interpretation of Matthew 16:18:

           "Yet you will not in any way err from the scope of the truth if you suppose that the 'world' is actually the Church of God, and that its 'foundation' is in the first place, that unspeakably solid rock on which it is founded, as Scripture says: 'Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it' and elsewhere: 'The rock, moreover, was Christ. For as the Apostle indicates with these words: 'No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus." (Eusebius, Commentary on the Psalms, M.P.G., Vol. 23, Col. 173,176)

           "In A.D. 190, Pope St. Victor I excommunicated an entire region of churches for refusing to celebrate Easter on its proper date. While St. Irenaeus thought this was not prudent, neither he nor anyone else denied that Victor had the authority to do this. Indeed, Irenaeus said, “it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [Rome] on account of its preeminent authority” (Against Heresies, 3.3.2)."

           The West and certain Eastern churches claimed to have the correct date of Easter that was delivered from the apostles. This episode of contradictory church tradition only proves it to be unreliable as a source of dogma. What we are left with is Scripture as our guide.

           Irenaeus did not say that churches should submit to the church at Rome due to being higher in authority but come together as that church was located in the capital of the Roman Empire and also reputed for being doctrinally orthodox.

           Consider this introductory excerpt from Philip Schaaf on the translation of Irenaeus's Against Heresies:

           "After the text has been settled, according to the best judgment which can be formed, the work of translation remains; and that is, in this case, a matter of no small difficulty. Irenæus, even in the original Greek, is often a very obscure writer. At times he expresses himself with remarkable clearness and terseness; but, upon the whole, his style is very involved and prolix. And the Latin version adds to these difficulties of the original, by being itself of the most barbarous character. In fact, it is often necessary to make a conjectural re-translation of it into Greek, in order to obtain some inkling of what the author wrote. Dodwell supposes this Latin version to have been made about the end of the fourth century; but as Tertullian seems to have used it, we must rather place it in the beginning of the third. Its author is unknown, but he was certainly little qualified for his task. We have endeavoured to give as close and accurate a translation of the work as possible, but there are not a few passages in which a guess can only be made as to the probable meaning."

           Consider translator footnote 3313 from that same version of Irenaeus's Against Heresies:

           "The Latin text of this difficult but important clause is, “Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam.” Both the text and meaning have here given rise to much discussion. It is impossible to say with certainty of what words in the Greek original “potiorem principalitatem” may be the translation. We are far from sure that the rendering given above is correct, but we have been unable to think of anything better. [A most extraordinary confession. It would be hard to find a worse; but take the following from a candid Roman Catholic, which is better and more literal: “For to this Church, on account of more potent principality, it is necessary that every Church (that is, those who are on every side faithful) resort; in which Church ever, by those who are on every side, has been preserved that tradition which is from the apostles.” (Berington and Kirk, vol. i. p. 252.) Here it is obvious that the faith was kept at Rome, by those who resort there from all quarters. She was a mirror of the Catholic World, owing here orthodoxy to them; not the Sun, dispensing her own light to others, but the glass bringing their rays into a focus. See note at end of book iii.] A discussion of the subject may be in chap. xii. of Dr. Wordsworth’s St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome."

           Consider footnote 3796 from “a more potent principle” on Against Heresies 3:3:2:

           "Bishop Wordsworth inclines to the idea that the original Greek was ἱκανωτέραν ἀρχαιότητα, thus conceding that Irenæus was speaking of the greater antiquity of Rome as compared with other (Western) Churches. Even so, he shows that the argument of Irenæus is fatal to Roman pretensions, which admit of no such ideas as he advances, and no such freedom as that of his dealings with Rome."

           "Some people object that if Peter and his successors had special authority, why didn’t Christ say so when the apostles argued about “who was the greatest” (Luke 22:24)? The reason is that Christ did not want to contribute to their misunderstanding that one of them would be a privileged king. Jesus did say, however, that among the apostles there would be a “greatest” who would rule as a humble servant (Luke 22:26). That’s why since the sixth century popes have called themselves servus servorum Dei, or “servant of the servants of God.”

           The key to answering this argument lies in the phrase "in the sixth century." The Papacy did not exist in the first century but was instead a gradual development. It would be perfectly reasonable to expect Christ to point to the Apostle Peter if he did indeed have a position of primacy over the other apostles. The pope with his kingly attire and large crowds who bow down before him in adoration definitely seems to be a recipient of worship.

           "Pope Gregory I used the title in his dispute with the Patriarch of Constantinople John the Faster, who called himself the “Universal Bishop.” Gregory didn’t deny that one bishop had primacy over all the others, since in his twelfth epistle Gregory explcitly says Constaninople was subject to the authority of the pope. Instead, he denied that the pope was the bishop of every individual territory, since this would rob his brother bishops of their legitimate authority, even though they were still subject to him as Peter’s successor."

           In responding to the above claims, one could say, "Nice try buddy, but Gregory emphatically denounced the title of universal bishop and thought that such should be reserved for no one." The following excerpt has been taken from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

           "a proud and profane title ... I have however taken care to admonish earnestly the same my brother and fellow-bishop that, if he desires to have peace and concord with all, he must refrain from the appellation of a foolish title. ... the appellation of a frivolous name. But I beseech your imperial Piety to consider that some frivolous things are very harmless, and others exceedingly harmful. Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious? If we regard the quantity of the language used, there are but a few syllables; but if the weight of the wrong, there is universal disaster. Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others." (Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle XXXIII)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Does The Bible Support The Institution Of Slavery?

        "As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you." (Leviticus 25:44)

        It should be pointed out that the fact the Old Testament records historical atrocities, does not mean those events are endorsed by the God who inspired the prophets to write them. The biblical text simply describes how culture was.

        In the Old Testament, people could voluntarily become servants to pay off debts. Others made reparations for stolen items (Exodus 22:3). Slaves were set free after six years of servitude (Exodus 21:2). These people were not to be mistreated.

        God forbade the Jews from kidnapping people and selling them into slavery (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). The Apostle Paul also condemned the idea of capturing people with the intent of selling them as he described people who do such as ungodly and sinful (1 Timothy 1:9-11).

        This picture of slavery is far removed from what took place in America or the African slave trade. People were not abused and treated as property. It was not a matter of skin color. God uses all things in this world to bring about His glory.

        Paul exhorted slaves to obey their masters, not because he approved the institution of slavery, but that it was a means of serving God. Christianity is not a political movement designated to defeat government, but addresses the sinful condition of the human heart.