Key precept: Choose your leader wisely, because this battle ends in utter annihilation for the losing side.
“If it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve.” (Joshua 24:14)
The simple fact is that no-one can survive like a Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island. We need the interconnected web of ordered society to meet life’s basic needs of food, shelter, safety and companionship. And every social group requires a leader to prevent the strong from exploiting the weak both internally and externally.
It is war that makes the chief, the king and the state…it presupposes a change in the very principle of social organization— from kinship to domination.
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
And the LORD said unto Samuel…they have not rejected thee [as High Priest], they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them [in a theocracy]. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods…protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people…He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen…and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters…And he will take your fields…the tenth of your seed…your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses…your sheep: and ye shall be his servants…
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
- That we also may be like all the nations;
- and that our king may judge us,
- and fight our battles.” (I Samuel 8)
And herein lies the problem. Rejection of personal responsibility.
“These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.” (Zechariah 8:16-17)
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?.” (I Corinthians 6:1-5)
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:1-3)
According to the Bible, we have two choices of leader:
- YHVH’s Savior who leads us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23)
- or anyone else, none of whom have the ability to keep the promises he makes
“I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he…
Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people… the LORD‘s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye…
“the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him…But...he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.
And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them…And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities…I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: Were it not that…their adversaries…should say, Our hand is high, and the LORD hath not done all this.
For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.
Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.
And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea / Joshua the son of Nun…And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 32)
It is easy to condemn the Old Testament YHVH as an angry warmonger, but then ignorant opinions are always so much easier than informed assessments.
War is a fact of life in any era, and the critics who fault YHVH for protecting his people conveniently ignore the fact that their ability to do so is assured by our own military.
Meanwhile, the elite identify themselves with the “glorious” ancient civilizations while conveniently ignoring those civilizations’ religious beliefs attributing their splendor to the greater power of their gods in endless wars, death, pillage and enslavement of other nations.
And it is easy for them to do so, because where are the accounts of victory of the gods revered in Mesopotamia? On steles / stelae, inaccessible to none but a rare antiquarian, whose interpretation can’t be trusted to remain consistent with future archeological discoveries.
The accounts of the acts of God of the Bible on behalf of his people are accessible to all humanity and prove throughout thousands of years and uncounted discoveries that God can be trusted to stay true to his word.
“The word of God…liveth and abideth for ever.” (I Peter 1:23)
The Bible’s consistency throughout its entire account of mankind’s history in the realms of the sciences, morality and prophecy provides validation unparalleled by any other religious or academic domain.
For example, the biblical Flood story is often discredited as being simply copied from a supposedly earlier Mesopotamian flood myth, which is not a credible account, therefore the Biblical account is also deemed untrue. But unlike the Mesopotamian account, the Bible remains internally consistent with its report over thousands of years, providing reliability of its account, as well as external validation by the numerous world-wide accounts as well as multiple sciences.
The consistent theme of the Bible is that God created mankind for relationship.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion.” (Genesis 1:26)
Clearly, dominion must be shared with God, since as the account progresses the Adams are given instructions and God is still the ultimate ruler, because he alone has the power. This is the truth. Who but him can create and sustain a universe?
The consistent lie of the adversary is that mankind can achieve the same degree of power as the God of creation, and become independent of God.
“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?…For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods,” (Genesis 3:1-5)
And defying God’s authority caused the loss of relationship with God.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
But God immediately promised a redeemer.
“the Lord God said unto the serpent…I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
Faith in God’s word – fundamentally this promise of a redeemer – is what is required to restore that relationship, both before and after the arrival of the Redeemer. As described in previous posts, the Father grants, in a form of adoption, the permanent relationship known as “son and heir”.
“as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name / way. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13)
And restored relationship is reflected in restored shared dominion.
“you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” (Colossians 1:21-22)
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou…hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
Purposefully, the authorship of the Bible reflects the unity achieved in relationship between
- God and prophet
- and multiple human writers all speaking for the same God.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Timothy 3:16)
the basis for our belief that the Bible is the true and inspired Word of God lies in this work of the Holy Spirit of God, not the personal knowledge of the human writers. The Bible is not just an ancient piece of human literature.
Having said that, the question that remains is “Who were the human authors? How did they know what to write? How did the little historical details get preserved?”…The first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are collectively called…the Torah, or the Books of Moses. Those last four books have many verses that attribute them directly to Moses. But he’s not even mentioned anywhere in the book of Genesis. Why is this?
…there’s considerable internal evidence, and some archaeological evidence, that Genesis was actually first written in sections, most likely on clay tablets, by a number of different men who were eye-witnesses to the actions described…and later Moses compiled these tablets into what we call the “book of Genesis…”
scholars and archaeologists have uncovered excellent proofs of the truth of the Bible’s historicity.
P.J. Wiseman became interested in the…many ancient clay tablets that had been dated to long before the time of Abraham. He recognized that they held the key to the original writings of…the Book of Genesis…
most of the old clay tablets had “colophon phrases” at the end; these named the writer or owner of the tablet; they had words to identify the subject, and often some sort of dating phrase…Many of these old records related to family histories and origins, which were evidently highly important to those ancient people…
Wiseman…applied this idea to…Genesis, and found that in every case it suddenly made good sense. The text just before the phrase “These are the generations of …” contained information about events that the man named in that phrase would have known about. That person would have been the logical one to write that part. In other words…the book of Genesis consists of a set of tablets, each of which was written by an actual eye-witness to the events described therein. These tablets were finally compiled by Moses…
Tablet Starting Verse Ending Verse Owner or Writer 1 Genesis 1:1 Genesis 2:4a God Himself (?) 2 Genesis 2:4b Genesis 5:1a Adam 3 Genesis 5:1b Genesis 6:9a Noah 4 Genesis 6:9b Genesis 10:1a Shem, Ham & Japheth 5 Genesis 10:1b Genesis 11:10a Shem 6 Genesis 11:10b Genesis 11:27a Terah 7 Genesis 11:27b Genesis 25:19a Isaac 8 Genesis 25:12 Genesis 25:18 Ishmael, through Isaac 9 Genesis 25:19b Genesis 37:2a Jacob 10 Genesis 36:1 Genesis 36:43 Esau, through Jacob 11 Genesis 37:2b Exodus 1:6 Jacob’s 12 sons
Exodus 1:6, “And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.”…added by Moses, after he inherited all the tablets, and…compiled all these tablets into one long record…[most likely] during the 40-year wilderness experience…
The book of Genesis is an historical account, not an allegory. Its accuracy is assured by the inspirational guidance of the Holy Spirit…this modified tablet theory…offers a more satisfactory explanation of all the details, and doesn’t violate any known fact. It’s in good accord with Scripture, and adds the authenticity that Genesis was composed of eye-witness accounts.
Undoubtedly Noah brought records onto the ark for safe keeping, but as baked clay, these and many of the thousands found in archeological digs would also have survived immersion in water. It makes one contemplate the possibility that the use of baked clay for record keeping instead of papyrus or vellum was a deliberate choice in response to believing Noah’s preaching of the coming flood, but also believing in the power of their gods to survive it. That is the main subtheme throughout the Bible. Believing the lie of the devil.
As the composer of the first five books of humanity’s history, it stands to reason that Moses is God’s foundational spokesman. It is on Moses’ writings that the reliability of the entirety of the literary work of the Bible is based, the plot of which is restoration of the Kingdom of God lost by the Adams.
This logical deduction is confirmed by God’s acknowledgement that he has a uniquely foundational relationship with Moses.
“And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34:10)
“And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD / Jehovah / YHVH: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” (Exodus 6:2-3)
The internal testimony of God’s control over these documents is that God put his words in Moses’ mouth. This gives these documents, the foundation for all the rest of the Bible, the highest religious authority.
“And Moses said unto the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent…And the LORD said unto him…I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” (Exodus 4:10-12)
Additionally, the unity between Moses and the LORD / Jehovah, apparent in that both the “law” and the “voice” of God is interchangeable with that of Moses, gives Moses the utmost religious authority. The following passage is but one example.
“I Daniel…prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O LORD…We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled
- by departing from THY precepts and from THY judgments:
- Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in HIS laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
- Yea, all Israel have transgressed THY law,
- that they might not obey THY voice;
therefore the curse is poured upon us,
- that is written in the law OF MOSES the servant of God,
- because we have sinned against HIM.
- And HE hath confirmed HIS words, which HE spake against us…by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
- As it is written in the law OF MOSES, all this evil is come upon us:
- Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us…for we obeyed not HIS voice.” (Daniel 9:2-14)
If you think I’m pushing the limits of uniting Moses with God, remember that this is what God wants! – that we may be one!
Go back to the text. There it clearly states that Moses warned of the evil to come for sinning against God.
“Moses commanded the Levites…Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee…
Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.
For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days…And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel…” (Deuteronomy 31:25-30)
For the purpose of our discussion, what does God tell humanity through Moses?
“And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…
And Moses said unto the LORD…thou hast said, I know thee by name [relationship], and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
Now therefore, I pray thee…shew me now thy way, that I may know [be united with] thee…
And he said, MY presence shall go with thee…I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name / way of the LORD before thee...
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name / way of the LORD…
- The LORD, The LORD God,
- merciful and gracious, longsuffering
- abundant in goodness and truth
- forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
- and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 33-34)
Here we find that the way of the God of the Bible is summed up as
- desire for unification / oneness with humanity motivating
- God’s forgiveness of sin and
- judgment for unredeemed sin.
This “way of the LORD” is “the Law of Moses” on which every other rule rests. The first five books of the Bible are known collectively as “the law” because it contains, not just rules, but the political constitution – not just of the nation of Israel – but of the entirety of God’s kingdom, beginning in Genesis with the establishment of the boundaries of the kingdom at creation and the assignment of kingdom leadership.
The Septuagint rendered the Hebrew torah by the Greek nomos (“law”), probably in the sense of a living network of traditions and customs of a people. The designation of the Torah by nomos, and by its Latin successor lex (whence, “the Law”), has historically given rise to the misunderstanding that Torah means legalism…
“And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house[hold of all nationalities, the Hebrews] of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel [Israelites]; if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant / constitution, then ye shall be…unto me a kingdom…” (Exodus 19:3-6)
As described more thoroughly in the post on Moses, at this point in time God offered kingdom leadership to all the nationalities of the world.
This makes Moses the human author of the constitution of God’s spiritual kingdom for all mankind.
Even Judaism acknowledges this.
The message of the Torah is for all mankind. Before giving the Torah to Israel, God offered it to the other nations, but they refused it; and when He did give the Torah to Israel, He revealed it in the extraterritorial desert and simultaneously in all the 70 languages, so that men of all nations would have a right to it.
What? Never heard this in Sunday School so immediately rejecting this as a Jewish invention? This account utterly makes sense in view of God’s desire to see all humanity saved, and is consistent with the next occasion of offering priestly status to all humanity, when the message was also preached in many languages on the Day of Pentecost.
Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the single most important event in Israel’s history: the giving of the Torah (the first five books in the Hebrew Bible) to Moses at Mount Sinai….it is one of the three major festivals often called “pilgrim” festivals because all Jewish males were required to observe them at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem…Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after the first day of Passover, it is sometimes known as Pentecost, which is a Greek word that means “fifty.” Jesus’ followers were in Jerusalem celebrating Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to them.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come…there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven…
the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language…how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:1-11)
“Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; AND – AND – AND thou – another entity –, Jesurun / upright one, whom I have chosen.” (Isaiah 44:2)
Jesurun is assumed to be another name for Israel because the text identifies this nation as the one over which Melchizedek Moses was king for forty years in the wilderness. However, as proven in the preceding posts, this is the Hebrew nation formed as God’s United Nations at the Tower of Babel then led out of Egypt in the Exodus.
“And Pharaoh…called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people…And the children of Israel journeyed…And a mixed multitude went up also with them;” (Exodus 12:30-38)
“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Isra-el.
Although at this point in my studies I don’t know the significance, it is very interesting that the record states that exactly 70 genetic descendants of Jacob/Israel entered Egypt and that exactly 70 different nations are listed in Genesis 10.
For the LORD‘s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance [acknowledging the Hebrew nation does not deny the Israelite nation]. He found him in a desert land [AFTER the Exodus of the Hebrews], and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
But Jeshurun [translates exactly as “Upright Ones” the entire community of Hebrews, preceding and including Noah, Shem, Abraham, Etc. not just the children of Israel]...forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
Review the post on Moses for an in depth proof that Jeshurun = Saints of all time rather than a nickname for Israel. A quick proof of this is that the idolatrous incident referenced in this same passage happened before the nation of Israel was formed under the Mosaic covenant, while they were still identified as Hebrews with the other international believers in the God of Creation, judgment on sin through the flood, grace to Noah, and faith of Abraham.
They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
And when the LORD saw it, he…said…They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God…I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people…(Deuteronomy 32)
The continuation of the passage in Isaiah naming Jeshurun confirms that after the creation of the nation of Israel for God’s leadership in the kingdom of heaven and earth, the preceding ancient nation of Hebrews called Jeshurun / the Upright Ones continued to exist and grow.
Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not…Jesurun / upright one, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall [future tense] spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
- One shall say, I am the LORD‘s; [the pre-flood ancients and Hebrews]
- and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; [Israelites]
- and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel. [post Redemption]
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people…” (Isaiah 44)
Internally, the Law of Moses expressly states it is given to all peoples, not just Israel.
“And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying…thou shalt read this law before
- all Israel in their hearing…
- and thy stranger that is within thy gates,
that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:” (Deuteronomy 31:9-12)
“This law” goes back to the one rule in the Garden of Eden.
“Now the serpent…said unto the woman…God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden…For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof…ye shall be as gods…” (Genesis 3:1-5)
“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God…Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3)
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love [prefer above self] the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself [treat as equal to self]. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Job’s account is acknowledged to be the oldest document in the Bible, predating Moses’ writings. His stated faith in God’s promise of restoration to the original Adamic sinless immortal state is the same as that documented by Moses in the book of Genesis. Apparently both Job and Moses drew their information about God from the same clay tablet eye-witness family histories going back to the Adams.
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself.” (Job 19:14-16)
The book of Job was undoubtedly one of Paul’s documentary sources for proving that the law of Moses, given to Moses by God about 2,500 years after God gave the promise of salvation to all humanity through identification with the Seed of the Woman, was never an alternative means of salvation for a select group of people which was replaced when Jesus died on the cross.
The means for obtaining forgiveness instead of judgment in order to restore the oneness God experienced with the first Adam in his image and likeness is found to be the same process from beginning to end of the narrative.
By believing in the veracity of the one making a promise, then putting our faith for our uncertain future in his promise to battle and defeat evil and death for us, we join him. His death’s redemption for evil thereby unites us with him in his full identity, including his death and his spirit’s resurrection power to new life.
How awful that this concept is better understood and deeply expressed by Satan’s fans in the final episode ‘The Wrath of the Lamb” of the top rated TV show Hannibal, than by followers of the actual Lamb.
“Going my way?” What a loaded question. It’s…delivered to Will with rakish charm by Hannibal…Is Will going Hannibal’s way? Is he finally becoming like Hannibal…or is he sacrificing himself to save the world…? And in the end, is there a difference?…
Will bends Hannibal to his will by saying the words he wants to hear: “I need you, Hannibal. Please…” a truly glorious fight sequence…Hannibal and Will killing together…
...their blood-soaked embrace was payoff galore…with Hannibal getting everything he has ever wanted…and in that moment I think he was perfectly content to die…Will is the one who pushes them off the cliff, but Hannibal allows himself to be backed up onto the ledge…
Shocking to equate God’s plan of salvation with a ghastly TV show? Are you forgetting that the Antichrist mirrors the Christ? This shows how tepid the current Christian church experience has become. The Bible is packed full of heroic people experiencing torture and gruesome death while battling monsters and cannibals. If this is news to you, read the previous posts on Noah, Nimrod, Abraham and Moses.
Moving chronologically from Moses’ passing, the Bible states categorically that, as with Moses, God will put his words in the mouths of his successor prophets.
“the LORD said unto me…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18)
Although Christianity acknowledges that Jesus Christ is identified by his likeness to Moses, Christianity ignores the importance of Moses and his successors by downplaying their roles as being nothing more than just “types” of Christ. This results in an intrinsic “unhitching” of the significance of the Old Testament to the following New Testament, even by those who deplore the open “unhitching” of the Old from the New.
We are discarding a massive part of our own identity in Christ if we consider that Moses and his immediate successor were just place holders until the ultimate Christ showed up over a thousand years later. Joshua and his successors were each a true Promised Deliverer at that time and in those circumstances by FOLLOWING THE COURSE SET BY MOSES.
“And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for THOU must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and THOU shalt cause them to inherit it.
And the LORD, he it is that doth go before THEE; he will be with THEE, he will not fail THEE, neither forsake THEE: fear not, neither be dismayed. ” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)
“he hath said, I will never leave THEE, nor forsake THEE. So that WE may boldly say, The Lord is MY helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto ME.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
“the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee…
Only [human responsibility in this partnership] be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee?” (Joshua 1:1-9)
In another passage, mainstream Christianity treats an Old Testament prophecy as applying to the New Testament Church. because of the world-wide viewpoint. But instead of taking a blind flying leap forward into the future, serious students who continue to stick with the hermeneutical and historical approach will recognize the world-wide perspective of the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments.
“My people [which we have proven aforetime in the post Moses, at this point in time, are the Hebrews] went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause…they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed…
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isaiah 52:4-6, 54:5)
The passage is written to encourage people being oppressed at the time of writing to trust in the promised deliverer. For that objective to work, the promise must have been fulfilled in the past. Like unbiased archeologists, let’s sift through the levels to discover what it is, starting with the historical context in which Isaiah wrote these encouraging words.
“Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defensed cities of Judah, and took them. And the king of Assyria [predatory precursor to Nazi ideology and possibly even genetically to some Germans] sent…a great army…to Hezekiah, saying…Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed…?
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him…Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel…Because thy rage against me…I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” (Isaiah 36-37)
The next level to analyze is the historic circumstances equivalent to those currently being experienced c. 700 by people “howling under oppression.” This is what provides valid encouragement to have faith in the same previous experience of deliverance. For example, the basis for faith in being delivered by God from their enemies by the individuals Isaac, then Jacob, then Joseph, then ultimately by a horde of Hebrews was knowledge of past miraculous deliverances of their ancient fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This is the only basis for faith in ANYTHING – Sennacherib’s promise of leniency for those who surrender or utter destruction for those who resist, a COVID vaccine, the utterly contradictory self-evolution of selfish humanity into self-sacrificing Superman able to save a world clearly set on self-destruct – despite the bedrock basis of eugenics in evolution as “the survival of the fittest”, a presidential candidate…
Even God himself.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“ (Romans 10:17)
So, placing the meaning of this message in proper historical context, especially with the significant words, we find that this is not a prophecy of a future new religion of Christianity at all, but solidly establishes our saving faith in events that occurred and relationships that were established before the world began. This passage can then apply to future believers, just as the relationship between God and the Adams, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc. applies also to us. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it is only about us. It is about all mankind from the beginning of time.
- Maker – foundational relationship of God towards humanity. “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion.” (Genesis 1:26)
- Husband – Partner in a union where two become one. And the LORD God…took one of his ribs…and made he a woman…And Adam said…she shall be called Wo-man, because she was taken out of Man…they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-23)
- LORD of hosts / armies – Dominion requires defense against enemies. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.“ (Genesis 2:1)
- Redeemer / kinsman Since the champion of his people represents all his nation / family he must be “one flesh” with them. “The LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this…her seed…shall bruise / crush thy head.” (Genesis 3:14-15) “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them…“ (Hebrews 2:14-15)
- Holy / consecrated, set apart one of Isra / He who struggles with – not against – El / God. The perennially popular movie The Karate Kid exemplifies this nicely. In both Jacob and Daniel’s cases, persistence in submitting to the sensei’s / master’s instructions and methods, through crippling difficulties, results in character transformation and reflexive modeling of the master’s behavior, turning oppression to victory. According to Hosea, the title Isra-El applied to Jacob before God officially bestowed it on him.
- “Jacob…took his brother by the heel in the womb and by his strength he had power with God.” Are you catching that? We could rephrase “by his strength he had power with God” as “He who struggles with God.” Even in the womb infants respond to God’s Spirit, and Jacob was one of them, fighting to make God’s plan come to pass.
- “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed.” Again, do you catch the figure of two matched wrestlers? Like David’s choice of Joab and his mighty men, God chooses dogged fighters who are willing to give their lives for the cause. So much for Calvinism.
- “he found him in Bethel…Even the LORD God of hosts/armies”…every time Jacob needed supernatural power.
- when fleeing from Esau where he bargains with God
- when oppressed by Laban
- when returning to face Esau’s wrath
- when fleeing from the Canaanites revenging the massacre at Shechem.
- And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel [functioning as God’s Fighter although not yet officially designated as such] served for a wife [since Isaac did not give him a bride price like Abraham had given, but Jacob clung determinedly to faith in God’s promise to his inheritance]…
- And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved...Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God continually.” (Hosea 12)
- Don’t miss the point Hosea is making! Like Isaiah, Hosea encourages his audience to follow Jacob’s example of trust in God’s promises during their times of conflict: This title of Isra-El / God’s Fighter does not apply only to Jacob son of Isaac as a name. Like a Medal of Honor, is an award given in recognition of a character trait, developed through years of faithfulness despite adversity, and proven through exemplary behavior, designating anyone who God chooses to set apart as a partner in his service.
- “The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” This is a battle plan, not an afterthought, and it was not put into place on the Day of Pentecost with Christianity. It was the gauntlet thrown down in challenge to Nimrod’s 70 nations at Babel with the single Hebrew nation .
- “Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord.
- Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt?
- and the Philistines from Caphtor,
- and the [As]Syrians from Kir?
- I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, to serve their purpose of witnessing of God!
- “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore…the Gentiles are turned to God: For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (Acts 15:18-21)
- In that day will I raise up the tabernacle / destructible building of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.” (Amos 9:7-12)
When Israel stopped voluntarily representing YHVH to the world, the only way God could continue to maintain a permanent Father relationship with Israel was through disciplining his children.
“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:11-12. Hebrews 12:5-6)
“Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts…I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and…I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him. (II Samuel 7:8-15)
Thy first father / chief priest, high priest hath sinned, and thy teachers / of religious studies have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned [ un-sanctified, stripped of appointed positions to serve God] the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.” (Isaiah 43)
But this does not justify the opinion that God separated out a “Gentile Christian” Church. If we believe what the Bible says about the throne of the seed of David lasting for ever, then we have to also believe what the Bible says about the priesthood of the seed of Aaron lasting for ever, and therefore the Mosaic law is still in effect.
Yes, the letter to the Hebrews states that Jesus was called of God to be a priest, and therefore “the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (Hebrews 7:12) But we can’t interpret “a change also of the law” to mean the entire Mosaic code was tossed out when Jesus died on the cross. We certainly don’t believe that the Ten Commandments were discarded.
Keep the distinction between individual laws and and the entirety of a covenant. Most of all, remember that the Mosaic covenant was just the latest in a series of covenants to the Hebrews and included all the prior covenants to the Adams, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob etc. Read the post on Moses if this is a new concept.
“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood…For there is verily a disannulling of the [singular] commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the [singular] law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did [make perfect]; by the which we draw nigh unto God…by him that said unto him, The LORD sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec…because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
Apply hermeneutics. The commandment / law that was changed, even disannulled, has something to do with the Melchizedekian priesthood. This law preceded, is not unique to, simply continued under, the Mosaic law. It goes back to the beginning of time, and applies to all of Adam’s race. As detailed in the post The Order of Melchizedek, this immutable law of nature causing death was given to the first Melchizedek, Adam.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 1:26, 2:16-17)
This is not some arbitrary wrath of God. This is a law of nature over which mankind was put in charge, and therefore mankind has to deal with. All around us we see the consequences of death spreading from human failure to nurture life.
When the violation of the first law, like a trip wire, triggered the death knell throughout creation, merciful Creator God enacted another law, allowing the death sentence of the the first law to be transferred to another life.
“And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked / vulnerable, i.e lost some kind of hyperdimensional covering exposing his newly corrupted mortal state and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat…And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this…I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise / apply crushing blow to thy head…
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God [kill animals to] make coats of skins…And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain [Hey, I’ve got a better idea!] brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” (Genesis 3-4)
The exchange of life for life should come as a logical observation, not as a spiritual mandate. We know that humans must sacrifice another life in order to maintain human life. Having our meat cut up into unrecognizable shapes and wrapped in plastic allows us to overlook that fact, but it’s still a fact nonetheless.
YHVH allowed the use of genetically similar animal blood, until the Redeemer came to earth in “the latter day”, “in the end of the world” to sacrifice his fully human blood. The change / disannulling of the first law was the one requiring regular animal sacrifices to atone for sin.
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself…
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you…without shedding of blood is no remission.
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
- For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world [not just since the founding of the nation of Israel]:
- but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9)
This analysis is so simple and obvious. So how did we get from there to where we are today?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
John 3:16 has been called “The Gospel in a nutshell” because it provides a stunningly succinct summary of the doctrine of the Christian faith.”
Whoa Nellie! This verse provides a stunningly succinct summary of God’s plan for humanity for thousands of years before there was what was called – in the Greek language – “Christian”.
Patching together desired pieces of the biblical message while repudiating the undesired parts, or even denying the validity of the whole book, is how there are Old-Testament-only religions like Judaism with its many denominations and New-Testament-only religions like Christianity with its many denominations, and post-Christianity cults like Islam, Mormonism and Rastafarianism following various self-proclaimed prophets and prophetesses.
…Early on, among the descendants of Prophet Jacob, distortions of the basic message of Islam were codified and ritualized, giving rise to the religion of Judaism…
Among those prophets, whose ministry was limited to the Israelites and Jews, was Jesus (the Messiah or Christ, and the son of the Virgin Mary). However, Jesus’ message and ministry were also distorted…
Does it shock you to discover that the most fundamentalist Christians who believe in the inerrant word of God base their beliefs on progressive revelation as much as Islam?
Don’t try to comprehend everything in these complex graphics, simply take note of the progression in revelation depicted.
Two of the more common hermeneutical and theological viewpoints within the world of Bible-believing Christianity are dispensationalism and covenant theology. Each position represents a version of Biblical orthodoxy. [Emphasis added.] Both perspectives generally affirm the major doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible…
However, they disagree strongly on…how one views the expression of continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments…No one doubts the fact of the progress of revelation….
for covenant theologians, the church began either with Adam (presumably the first saved man) or Abraham…
In contrast, dispensationalism sees the church as starting on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2…The church has a unique relationship to Christ, something that did not exist before.
How is it possible for two such different theological groups, both believing in the inerrancy of scripture, to co-exist?
The difference lies in how scripture is interpreted.
Systematic theology is a discipline which addresses theological topics one by one (e.g. God, Sin, Humanity) and attempts to summarize all the biblical teaching on each particular subject…the goal is to present the major themes (i.e. doctrines) of the Christian faith in an organized and ordered overview that remains faithful to the biblical witness…
Systematic theology also has major implications in the area of interpreting scripture. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity is not gathered from one passage of the Bible. Instead, the Trinity is an …interpretation of…”a pattern of implicit and explicit judgments concerning the God of Israel and his relationship to the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth…
To understand the connection between systematic theology and interpretation, we can compare it to simple systematic filing. Documents are organized into categories with file folders that allow you to develop meaningful patterns by combining information from multiple sources.
The categories are developed separately from the content of the information, and are based on the ultimate use of the information. Often the same information can be filed into a number of different categories. For instance, the same receipt from a Chinese restaurant can be filed
- under “Meals” or
- under “Entertainment.”
It all depends on what purpose you have for the information being categorized –
- retrieving any of your receipts as needed
- budgeting food expenses
- tracking tax deductions.
The content of what is being organized doesn’t change, but the way it is interpreted changes according to the way it is labeled.
The same is true for Systematic Theology. Each system files the same scripture under a different heading, to organize a different pattern of interpretation.
It is important to note that every filing system – material or conceptual – starts with a pre-conceived purpose for categorizing the information. In the case of Systematic Theology, scripture is assigned to categories to fit a preconceived pattern based on a purpose.
Covenant Theology…is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall structure of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of a covenant as an organizing principle [Emphasis added.]…The standard form of covenant theology views the history of God’s dealings with mankind…under the framework of three overarching theological covenants: those of redemption, of works, and of grace..
As a framework for biblical interpretation, covenant theology stands in contrast to dispensationalism in regard to the relationship between the Old Covenant (with national Israel) and the New Covenant (with the house of Israel [Jeremiah 31:31] in Christ’s blood)…
Covenant theologians deny that God has abandoned his promises to Israel, but see the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the church in organic continuity with Israel, not as a separate replacement entity…
A number of major 20th-century covenant theologians including Karl Barth, “the most important theologian of the twentieth century” ….departed from the traditional classical covenant theology to develop a monocovenantal scheme subsuming everything under one Covenant of Grace. The focus of all biblical covenants is then on grace and faith.
So as Karl Barth developed his understanding of God’s message to mankind, he moved scriptures from the Covenant Theology filing system of various old covenants (as seen in the graphic above – Adam, Noah, Moses, etc.) and the new covenant in Jesus’ blood into just one combined old and new single covenantal theology – the grace of God received by faith of man.
Notice, there are still different covenants, but now they are placed into one single file with one heading, fitting one single pattern of the relationship between a powerful God who saves mankind.
From beginning to end, Barth’s theology is decidedly Christocentric…In the incarnation, Christ takes on humanity’s sinfulness and lifts humanity up into restored fellowship with God [Emphasis added.]. On the cross, Christ suffers the rejection that sinful humanity deserves…judged in our place…
the community of God exists in the twofold form of Israel and the Church…according to God’s eternal decree as the people of Israel (in the whole range of its history in past and future…and at the same time as the Church of Jews and Gentiles…”
For Barth, God’s covenant with the nations is clearly an extension of God’s covenant with the Jews…“In tracing God’s election, providence, and covenant with the Jews, Barth affirmed the particularity of God’s election for the Jews ‘in whom there is fullness of salvation for all men of all nations.’ ”…
So we see that Barth’s monocovenantal theology serves a purpose of understanding how the community of God’s people exists as Israel maintaining its national identity in the international Church.
In stark contrast to Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology serves the purpose of understanding “the difference between the Jew, the Gentile, and Church of God.“
Before a child of God can move forward in serious Bible study, he must understand the different dispensations. Failure to understand the true teaching of dispensations has led many to make false applications of the Bible.
Dispensationalism is “a teaching on which we cannot afford to be uniformed.” The best known purveyors of Dispensationalism are found among the most fundamentalist Christians such as the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, Fundamental Independent Baptist Churches, Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Back to the Bible Broadcast. and the book series Left Behind by Tim LaHaye.
Dispensationalists “consider themselves to be the only true champions of biblical orthodoxy. Departure from dispensationalism will result in the loss of the evangelical faith.”
I grew up in one such ardently dispensationalist environment, described accurately I must say by a detractor who faith was completely broken. Mine was just crippled for many years. My father was a Fundamental Independent Baptist pastor whose faithful daily morning Bible study inspired me to teach myself to read at the age of four, in order to engage myself in what was obviously the most important activity in the world. As a female I could not obtain an academic degree in theology from the dispensationalist school my sisters attended. My theological training occurred in the course of routinely attending church at least three times a week, memorizing chapters at a time in AWANA Club, and studying the Bible in personal quiet time every morning and family devotions every night.
One of our family devotions quite unexpectedly became the pivot point in my spiritual life when, while studying Matthew 24, in answer to a question to clarify something he said, my father stated that Jesus and his disciples were no longer Jewish, they were Christians, therefore the events in that passage describing the destruction of the temple, tribulation and second coming did not apply to them.
I was only about 14 years old, but this interpretation was so inconsistent with
- the personal context in which Jesus was replying to questions posed by the disciples,
- the historical evidence that these events had occurred to the disciples, while also would repeat in the future, and
- the rules of biblical interpretation I had been taught, even as a teenager,
that I was shocked and argued against it. My father’s response was “It’s Dispensationalism, but you wouldn’t understand it.” I was savvy enough to recognize that my father, who loved to teach, didn’t himself understand it or he would have held forth.
I never forgot that weird explanation, but it wasn’t until years later, through persistent questioning, that I learned how Dispensationalism reclassified the disciples / apostles from Jews to Christians, since, according to Dispensationalism, one cannot be both, and therefore denied that the teaching given by Jesus in Matthew 24 was directed to his disciples since, according to dispensationalism, Christians are raptured out prior to the Great Tribulation described in Matthew 24.
Please note – the purpose of this study is not to discredit Dispensationalism. The purpose of this study is to ascertain that what is believed is solidly based on inspired scripture. I was disturbed to discover that I was basing my faith and practice on a hidden doctrine that I didn’t understand and wasn’t explained in church. I felt compelled to search out its validity, since it didn’t seem to agree with a straightforward, literal interpretation of the Bible as claimed by my family’s denomination.
Of extreme prejudice against the validity of Dispensationalism is that it is a recent development. It only began in the late 1800’s with John Nelson Darby, and was popularized throughout North America with the Scofield Reference Bible published in 1909.
This year became in a sense a turning point in the history of contemporary dispensationalism as the Reference Bible made an immediate impact among evangelical believers. This Bible is now practically a textbook in many Bible colleges…The Scofield Bible creates a false sense of authority by continually referring to its explanatory notes, based on Darby’s interpretation of Scripture.
Of extreme prejudice against the reliability of Dispensationalism is that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (I Corinthians 14:33)
Dispensationalism is a complex theological system and there are numerous shades of interpretation. The simplest definition is A system of Biblical interpretation adhering to literalism in interpretation and distinguishing a series of periods in God’s dealings with man in which God introduced a succession of tests of responsibilities….Most dispensationalists hold to seven dispensations…Some have only four. Others have as many as eight…
Darby taught that Israel and the church are separate entities…God governs his relationship to Israel and the church according to quite distinct principles. Israel and the church belong to different dispensations, that of law and that of grace…
Champions of biblical orthodoxy…? Literal interpretation…? Darby’s teaching should raise alerts on many fronts.
- The claim that God inserted the exclusively Gentile Church into his plan after Israel did not accept Jesus Christ and demanded his death is patently false. As we shall see, all Israel did not reject Jesus Christ, only the corrupt leaders who allied with the Gentiles. Paul himself, considered the founder of the Gentile Church, never stopped identifying himself as an Israelite, as did all the early believers of Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior. Even more important is that God’s plan had included the church since before time began, in eternity.
- Dispensationalism itself is split into many factions teaching different things. So which faction is correct? During his career, John Darby himself was a fractious man. “Perhaps he should be described as a petty tyrant, for he was most tyrannical about petty things…All who did not agree with his interpretations of the Bible were characterized as “not having the truth,”…and therefore as somewhat “apostate”…” Darby’s overbearing personality caused much friction. The early history of the Plymouth Brethren movement was dominated by rivalry and strife. Even within Darby’s lifetime several divisions within the Brethren movement took place.
- A forensic psychiatric review of his case file reveals common manic behaviors, leading to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. “…a man with magnetic, electric personal qualities…he often demonstrated as much zeal in destroying a work of his own…He left a massive set of Collected Writings which are almost uniformly unintelligible.”
- A dispensationaly-declared “false” application of scripture wrests straightforward statements in the Bible when it isn’t interpreted according to the dispensational system in verses like:
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way…” (Romans 3:1-2)
“a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:28-31)
The inviolable separation of Gentiles from Jews trumpets the fervent racism within the Bible Belt in which Darby’s Dispensationalism flourished.
- The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 by pro-slavery churches splitting from the northern Baptist Abolitionists.
- Neoslavery, like Neo-nazism, and widespread violence against Blacks, Jews, and Catholics in particular and anyone who supported social equality for Blacks, infested the South not only through White Supremacist elements like the Klu Klux Klan but society-wide, during Reconstruction. It continued through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s-60’s to present day Black Lives Matter raising social awareness of police prejudice against young Black males.
- The Eugenics Movement was born in early 20th century America “demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos…Elitists, utopians and so-called “progressives” fused their smoldering race fears and class bias in coordinated action intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, and Jews. The Nazi Holocaust of the 1930’s-40’s was not Hitler’s brainchild. “Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He…was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side…the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America” which had demonstrated successful implementation of segregation, marriage laws, forced sterilization, and “many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own…In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “It is better for all the world, if…society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes’s words in their own defense…”
Theologically hidden though it may be, historically it is of supreme significance that the biblical interpretation of the relationship between the Jews and Gentiles figures prominently in the two major Christian theological viewpoints developed at the turn of the 20th Century.
Barth’s practice of…constructing theology with the Bible on the one hand and the newspaper on the other, as he put it—buttresses both the logic and the delivery of his theological system. His development as a theologian was deeply connected with the historical setting that encircled him…
His life spanned both world wars, and he was one of the Church’s most vehement voices against Hitler and Nazism. Living in Germany at the time, Barth served as a primary author of the Confessing Church’s defining document, the Barmen Declaration. The goal of this declaration was to connect Christian truths with necessary action against the Nazi regime. In 1934, Barth refused to give an unconditional oath to Hitler and was…expelled from Germany. Barth returned to Basle where he continued to denounce Nazism and exhort the Church to actively respond to the atrocities and injustices being committed. He joined the Swiss Armed Forces as a declaration of his passion for the cause.
According to Barth, the anti-Semitism of the National Socialist regime precluded it from being considered under the Romans 13 umbrella of God-established authority. In Barth’s words, “he who rejects and persecutes the Jews rejects and persecutes Him who died for the sins of the Jews—and then, and only thereby for our sins as well. He who is a radical enemy of the Jews, were he in every other regard an angel of light, shows himself, as such, to be a radical enemy of Jesus Christ. Anti-Semitism is sin against the Holy Ghost. For anti-Semitism means rejection of the grace of God…”
And racism is still a big part of Christianity today.
The fact remains that the Eugenics movement in the United States is alive and well…Over $300 million of taxpayer money goes to family planning programs that are intentionally used suppress the birthrate in low-income, minority families…much of it ends up at Planned Parenthood, America’s number one abortion chain. It is no secret that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a self-proclaimed eugenicist.
Racism among white Christians is higher than among the nonreligious. That’s no coincidence…The relationship between holding racist views and white Christian identity is actually stronger among more frequent church attenders than among less frequent church attenders.
If you dare, take a free on-line test to gauge your implicit racism.
Antisemetic racism, blatant or so ingrained that the holder is utterly oblivious to it, is the icing that makes the delightful Dispensationalist attitude “let them eat cake” utterly irresistible.
Why is this influence of dispensational theology so great? In view of the fact that we are living in dramatic, apocalyptic, pessimistic and uncertain times, dispensational theology becomes very attractive to those Christians who see no way out of a seemingly hopeless situation apart from God’s direct intervention in history to take away (rapture) His true church out of this wicked and very perverse world…
The hope of the church is the rapture, the “first” second coming of Christ. Before the great tribulation, which will last for seven years, the true church is to be taken from the earth secretly and then, at a later time, Christ will return in a public “second” second coming. As Darby put it, “The church’s joining Christ has nothing to do with Christ’s appearing or coming to earth.”
Christ at the public second public coming will establish…the millennial kingdom on earth and Christ will offer the Kingdom to Israel again, David’s throne will again be occupied, the temple restored, and sacrifices reinstituted. Judaism will be completely restored and there will be a division between Jew and Gentile.
This teaching on The Rapture of the Gentile Church is not in the Bible and contradicts the clear biblical timing of occurring at “the last trump“. In order to account for this, Dispensationalists invent another series of trumpets that are not mentioned at all in the Bible, and twist and take out of context many scriptures to make a square interpretation fit into the circular eternal plan of God. In my experience talking with people who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, they have no idea where the rapture teaching came from. Their faith in preservation from suffering is based on preaching from dispensationalists’ pulpits rather than personal Bible study.
So if it’s not in the Bible, where does it come from?
“It comes from the ecstatic utterances of Margaret MacDonald in 1830…that were picked up by John Darby.”
Proof of Life
There are two ways to determine if Margaret MacDonald, John Darby, Muhammed, Ellen White, Joseph Smith, and all the rest of the hordes of prophets claiming to report God’s revelation through them are, in fact, God’s messengers.
“if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
Let’s take a look at Darby’s Prophetic Map of the End Times developed in the late 1800’s. Note, according to Darby’s teaching, the rapture can occur at any moment. Therefore, if his prophecies are true, the political elements should have been in play over the last 140 years or so.
This article looks back over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then...we Christians should be intelligent as to events in the world, and also know what will happen here after the rapture of the church. Of course we will not be here!
- France, not the USA, becomes the dominant Western power instead of England.
- The USA does not become a world power.
- Russia dominates Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon.
- Islam is of no importance.
Clearly Darby’s predictions have not come to pass.
So in addition to marking him as a false prophet, how can Dispensationalists believe that the rapture could have occurred at any moment since Darby’s new doctrine was taught?
I’m hearing the dispensationalist argument – his predictions just haven’t happened yet. But they will! in an extremely short war where Socialist France allied with Communist Russia splits West and East they knock the USA and the Moslem countries out of commission.
But since Christians won’t be here when that happens, Darby is safe from judgment. But by the same token, without any proof of true prophecies, he is also barred from consideration as a true prophet, isn’t he? Isn’t he?
So let’s apply the second proof. As with any other literature, internal consistency provides reliability on which to place our trust in the revelation of the many prophets claiming to speak for God.
Literary experts determine if any “newly discovered” composition is, in fact, the claimed work of a famous author from centuries ago by its consistency with previously established, i.e. canonized (secular as well as religious) works by the same author.
When William Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors and authors published his collected plays in 1623, 7 years after the Bard shuffled off this mortal coil, that book, now known as the First Folio, established what was and was not to be officially “Shakespeare.” Yet, as with any other great artist, Shakespeare left us wanting more. The search for “lost” Shakespeare has spanned centuries…William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays, edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, uses the latest computer technology paired with old school critical connoisseurship…to coolly lay out all the arguments…beside the very texts in question…
fellow playwright Ben Jonson...calls Shakespeare “not of an age, but for all time,”…the publication of the plays would win Will…a lasting legacy.
Anyone who contradicts internal reliability to make him / herself the authority to redefine the authorship, credibility and meaning of parts of any ancient piece of literature is patently a deceiver. He / she doesn’t know enough about the circumstances in the time and place of the writing to support their claims. And, frankly, that is true about every individual who forms uninformed opinions about the nature of God and his revelation in the Bible.
I drop the topic Dispensationalism, which claims to take the Bible literally but is actually based on the claim that God doesn’t remain true to his word.
“Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Romans 11:1-2)
Is it possible to approach the New Testament with an open mind, not prejudiced one way or another from previous assertions you heard but didn’t take the time to prove from the supposed source text? Let’s proceed in an organized way through the biblical account.
The New Testament Believers in The Christ
As bizarre as it may seem, Christianity as a movement or trend may have existed before Jesus came to the scene. The key to this gripping hypothesis is that Jesus obviously didn’t arrive on earth in an intellectual vacuum, and the intellectual element of his ministry was grafted on existing theological models. Nobody will deny that his general theology was Jewish, and Judaism obviously existed long before Jesus was born.
Judaism at the time of Jesus was highly fractured…Everybody knows about the Pharisees and Sadducees, but there were many more. Some forms of Judaism were militant movements (such as that of the Zealots)…
Some of these movements were incompatible with the gospel (the Sadducees, for instance, rejected resurrection and thus the core concept of the gospel; MATTHEW 22:23) but others were just a few cheers short of it and could be easily completed…Nicodemus, Gamaliel and even Paul came from the Pharisaic school of thought…
This means that the movement around Jesus the Nazarene was not a entirely new thing but was largely grafted upon existing ideas…(emphasis added)
When Paul went after the disciples in Damascus, he searched for people “belonging to the Way” (ACTS 9:2) which is obviously a designation of a particular sect. Jesus called himself the Way (JOHN 14:6), but it isn’t clear whether he coined this epithet then and there, or whether he addressed the members of an existing sect called such by telling them that he was what they were after…
The “town” of Nazareth where Jesus was from was probably not a geographical town (read our article on that name for reasons why not) and was most probably an existing Jewish school of thought (the Nazarenes), which we propose had to do with…the blessings of the Lord of Life being scattered among pagan nations…(Peter’s Great Sheet vision is a clear demonstration of that particular belief, which obviously is one of the main elements of the gospel message; ACTS 10:15)…
Since the discoveries at Qumran we know that the phrase “Sons of Light” was not a general title for virtuous men, but rather a military nickname for Israel (see the War Scroll). Jesus called these militant Sons of Light shrewd (LUKE 16:8), and explained that he was the Light (JOHN 8:12, 9:5) and that his followers are the real Sons of Light (JOHN 12:36, 1 THESSALONIANS 5:5).
John the Baptist is an Old Testament Prophet
I think we can all agree that John the Baptist validated Jesus’ ministry. He was the fulfillment of Old Testament promises to do so.
“I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6)
“those things which are most surely believed among us...which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word…write unto thee in order…That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed…
a certain priest named Zacharias…and his wife…were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless…there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord…thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John…
he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb…And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias / Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:1-17)
John’s preaching was meaningful and accepted by the people only because it was based on previous scripture. I’ve rearranged the phrases in John’s record to demonstrate the match with Isaiah’s.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith,
B) Behold! the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. “(John 1:29-34)
“For unto us…
B) a Son / of God, Ruler is given by God: and the government shall be upon his shoulder…the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever…
A) But [first]…the chastisement of our peace was upon him…All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…” (Isaiah 9:6-7, 53:1-7)
The Pharisees, fundamentalists steeped in the scriptures, would have been the first to understand, and believe, John’s announcement that “The kingdom of heaven is at hand!” And in fact we know that there were “certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed.” (Act 15:5)
John was without question an Old Testament prophet. Like Elisha, he inherited Elijah’s spirit and power, but since he died before Jesus’ redemption he did not receive the fulness of the Spirit available to believers after that action.
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant...
he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi…that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years…
For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed…
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” (Malachi 3:1-6, 4:4)
“And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see?…A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he…For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” (Matthew 11:7-14)
YHVH’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus
I don’t think that any fundamentalist Christian denies that Jesus is the Redeemer promised to the Adams and all humanity following.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
If you take this statement at face value, then it must logically follow that faith in Jesus is the means of salvation throughout the Old as well as the New Testament.
This becomes more clear when we use the Hebrew translation “YHVH’s Savior” instead of the Greek translation “Jesus” which, because it is applied to one single person in time and used only in the New Testament, skews our understanding of his role in history. While we believe on his actions in time and place, the individual carrying out those actions transcends time and space.
“God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling [to share dominion over creation] according to his own purpose and grace,
- which was given us in Christ Jesus / YHVH’s Designated Seed of the Woman Savior from sin and death before the world began,
- But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel [as promised to the Adams in Genesis 3:15]:“(II Timothy 1:8-10)
YHVH’s Savior is the fulfillment of the law of Moses and the Old Testament prophecies of salvation,
“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:26-27)
This is the reason the fundamentalist Pharisees could believe that Jesus was the Prophet who Moses said to obey.
As did the rulers of the Jews. This becomes clear when we focus our attention on Jesus’ acid duel of words with the Jewish leadership rather than his feel-good miracles.
Jesus spent so much of his time disputing with them because that was a big part of his ministry – to sift and purify the Levites.
“I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
They answered and said unto him, Abraham the Hebrew is our father.
Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham [note how they continue the argument started with John the Baptist]. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham…Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning…
Then took they up stones to cast at him…” publicly proving his point (John 8:29-53)
“And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders…said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? Clearly THEY hadn’t!
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John [for repentance in preparation for accepting the Messiah’s rule – especially by these rulers who usurped Mosaic authority, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him [when John announced Jesus’ identity as the Christ?] But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
Don’t miss the defiance and deliberate provocation as Jesus continues facing off against his declared enemy.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons;
- and he came to the first, [The Hebrew nation at Mount Sinai as described in the post Moses] and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
- He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
- And he came to the second [Levitical priests and rulers of Israel], and said likewise.
- And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first.
Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots [the commoners, from the Greek hoi-poloi literally meaning “the many”, i.e. the Hebrew nation] go into the kingdom of God before you. – Note, not “instead of” you!
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness [the faith of Abraham], and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him:
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, [expressly stated to be the nation of Israel] and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen [the rulers of the nation of Israel], and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it…last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance [both ruler- and land owner- ship]…When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21)
In the context of the second parable, the nation of Israel is the vineyard, which is not replaced. Only the husbandmen – the caretakers of Israel, i.e. the rulers, are replaced. Like “Washington”, the “Kingdom” that is taken away is idiomatic for “the rulers in the government”.
“rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine.” (I Samuel 15:22-28)
The nation that Jesus replaced was one of Antichrist’s Anti-governments, wolves in sheep’s clothing.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them as the husbandmen, not the nation of Israel! But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude – the “many” in the nation of Israel, because they took him for a prophet.” (Matthew 21:23-46)
“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation [brotherhood of leaders].
And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us [the brotherhood of priestly rulers], that one man should die for the people – plebs, commoners, those ruled in a constantly shifting ethnic population, and that the whole nation perish not.
And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation – of Israelites – And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one – nation of Hebrews – the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (John 11:47-52)
In contrast to these rebellious rulers, the scribes and Pharisees pretty much walked as Jesus walked. They were intimately familiar with the law and were scrupulous about keeping the commandments. They were good candidates for a new government.
Jesus himself recognized and applauded their teaching – “all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do.” (Mat 23:3) You could say they were the 1st century equivalent of fundamental independent Baptists – politically and spiritually conservative, basing their beliefs and behaviors on what is written in scripture, intent on righteous living so avoiding contamination with worldly society.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till ALL be fulfilled.
Wait, what! Heaven and earth did not pass away at the crucifixion and resurrection. They still haven’t passed away. According to scripture, they don’t pass away until after Jesus Christ’s last faceoff with Antichrist. Dispensationalists get around this by inserting an invented file folder of a “parenthesis” of Church Age while Israel is out of commission. But is that scripturally justified?
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “(Matthew 5:17-19)
According to this passage, Dispensationalists will be saved “but so as by fire”, while Pharisees should rank highly in the kingdom of Heaven.
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;” (Matthew 23:1)
There was just one problem. Too many of the scribes and Pharisees sitting in Moses seat refused to relinquish it to Jesus.
Salvation is not giving up a righteous way of life.
It is giving up control over one’s life.
The great change from the old to the new covenant is not the practice of the law, but the permanent presence of God’s Spirit empowering the practice of the law. It is the same change as an engagement promise to a marriage vow.
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah…I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And…they shall all know me / be united with me under the terms of the new covenant, which was impossible under the previous covenant due to sinful state…for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
“And the Redeemer shall come…unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee…shall not depart…from henceforth and for ever.” (Isaiah 59:20-21)
Just as marriage vows require more from each partner than engagement promises, so the new covenant demands greater, not less, commitment from each partner than the old.
“Thus saith the LORD God; I will…assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel…And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you…That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them…” ( Ezekiel 11:17-20)
YHVH’s vow to permanently indwell and empower humans to obey laws clearly establishes that the humans’ commitment to the covenant is to obey the laws!
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4)
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:22-25)
Do we really believe Paul’s statement that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16)?
Even worse, many of us who were born into Christian church-going families take our spiritual privileges for granted and refuse to perform our Kingdom of God responsibilities.
There is a casual attitude about sin among people who trust that the New Testament letters teaching that “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) has exempted us from being held responsible for our actions. Keep reading.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:11-14),
There is a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be “saved from sin”.
It is not just being saved from the damnation of sin.
It is being saved from the domination of sin
Now if we be dead with Christ…Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him…Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ro 6:1-23)
Allowing sin in its many guises to control us destroys us and those whose lives we touch in this life, as well as our option for life in the next plane of existence.
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthians 11:30-32)
All too often Christianity is treated as fire insurance with no regard for the main objective of salvation – restoration of a relationship with a holy God.
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile…you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…” Colossians 1:20-22)
I am not proposing that we can “lose our salvation,” because John assures us that
“My sheep…shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Joh 10:27-28)
But John qualifies who are the Christ’s sheep!
“My sheep hear / respond to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life;” (John 10:27)
John also sets really strict criteria for being a sheep that is granted eternal life.
“hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…” (I John 2:3-6)
Peter commands believers in the Christ to live righteously, quoting from the Old Testament,
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (I Peter 2:24-25 from Isaiah 53)
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:” (I Pet 1:14-17 from Leviticus 20)
Paul tag teams once again with Peter backing up what we should be fearful of, whether we are the sheep of his pasture like David, whose family was destroyed, and likely for eternity at that, by his willful sin, or a nominal Christian who never was actually accepted into the sheepfold by the Shepherd of all souls.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation…He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said…The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
This is written in to believers. When we consider the judgment that came on the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem who sinned willfully after knowing the way, the truth and the life, we should take this warning seriously.
Consider, on the other hand, what could have happened if the Jewish rulers had accepted Jesus as the Son of God instead of trodding him under foot. The Roman rulers would have arrested and executed him as a threat to their authority. Jesus would still have risen and ascended into heaven to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat. His prophecies in Matthew 24-25 would have not just “come to pass” but would have been “fulfilled” as Daniel’s fourth empire brought great tribulation. Jesus would have returned, brought deliverance and instituted the millennial reign with the royal family, loyal priests, elders and apostles in the government.
However, we know it didn’t work out that way. The religious leaders well knew that Jesus was “that prophet” who they should receive, but they “received him not” (John 1:11) and actively rebelled, not only against him, but the law of Moses.
“Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts…
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 3-4)
The responsibility for bringing in the kingdom of God was re-assigned.
But not to the Gentile Christian Church. It didn’t even exist.
The process by which the Jewish apostles were designated leaders in the kingdom was absolutely consistent with Jewish culture.
“Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him…because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance…the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy…and shalt be turned into another man…for God is with thee.” (I Samuel 10:1-7)
“Jesus…through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen...that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me…ye shall be baptized [merged with] with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
The apostles’ eager anticipation for appointments to leadership in the kingdom reflects their awareness of exactly what had been put into play.
“therefore…they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
But…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:1-8)
The apostles, in fact, had anticipated government positions during their entire time with the Jesus because they believed he was the Christ, the promised son of God / ruler.
“the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons…She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom…And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.” (Matthew 20:20-24)
The problem was that they were still focused on Israel’s political condition rather than Israel’s spiritual calling.
“teach all nations…to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always [as he was was Moses and Joshua], even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:19-20)
“And when the day of Pentecost [harvest celebration like Boaz had after winnowing his grain] was fully come,..suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and…they were all filled / to the greatest extent, accomplished with the Holy Ghost And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled,
As devout Jews, the international crowd who gathered to watch this wild exhibition were able to believe Peter’s explanation because they believed the Jewish prophets’ predictions and recognized the standard sign of God Spirit speaking through his chosen representatives. This was the only way they were able to believe in Jesus as the Christ. This exhibition would have meant nothing to scripturally illiterate Gentiles.
Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…and they shall prophesy…And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know…ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up…
For David speaketh concerning him…being a prophet…He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of The Anointed Seed of the Woman / Messiah / Christ…This Jesus / Yeshua / YHVH’s Savior hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore…[he, Christ] having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he [Christ] hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear…
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
It was only because these listeners knew and believed the Old Testament prophets that they could understand, and therefore believe, Peter’s report that Jesus’ death was not the end, but rather the fulfillment of his ministry.
Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ [as John had predicted would come after him] for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off…” (Act 2:1-11, 37-41)
Peter and the other apostles did not even use Jesus’ teaching as the basis of their preaching. They based their faith and their preaching on the Old Testament prophets – as did Jesus himself, even after his death ushered in the new testament.
“Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…the chief priests and our rulers…have crucified…But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel…
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:19-27)
Following the trail of events recorded in the book of the Acts of the apostles, we find that for at least the first 20-30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection the good news of the arrival of the Messiah / Christ and the coming of the kingdom of God was disseminated throughout the world only by preaching from the “Old Testament” Jewish writings. Until the apostles wrote their sermons and memoires of Jesus, there was no “John 3:16” or “Romans Road” with which to lead people to salvation.
During the years prior to publishing the New Testament writings, the apostles couldn’t evangelize without the Old Testament scriptures, because faith can only be based on the word of God, found at that time only in Old Testament writings.
For another, the writings of Moses and the prophets are essential for even
- bringing up the subject of a Savior/Messiah/Christ,
- then for delineating his characteristics,
- then for proving that Jesus of Nazareth is he.
- Act 3:12-24 …Peter…answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel…those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled…For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me…Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after…have likewise foretold of these days.
- Act 4:8-12 Then Peter…said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel…by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. (quoting from Psa 118:22) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
- Act 5:29-32 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said…The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, [quoting Isa 9:1-7] for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
- Act 6:9-11 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men…And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law…Then said the high priest, Are these things so? And he said, Men, brethren , and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham…[reviews history of Israel through the son of David, Solomon] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears [quoting Jeremiah 9:26], ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and the murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven…and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [quoting from Dan 7:12-14] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him…
- Act 8:27-35 …An eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians…had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet…And Philip ran thither to him…and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Even when outreach was extended to Gentiles, beginning with Cornelius, the Jewish scriptures continued to be the only available – or necessary – basis for faith in Jesus Christ and inclusion in the New Testament Church.
- Act 10:22-43, 11:18 …Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee…Then Peter opened his mouth, and said…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth…To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
The first Gentile to accept Jesus as the Savior could only do so because he was grounded in the Old Testament scriptures which prophesied of his coming. He was, as described by James, one of
“them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God…For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (Acts 15:19-21)
(You just have to wonder if this was the centurion who presided over Jesus’ crucifixion.)
And as Peter went in, and found many that were come together…he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Notice how Peter continues to define himself as a law-abiding Jew. While he had Jesus’ last words to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” (Mark 16:15-16), this was being done in the synagogues where Gentiles, while present, were segregated from full participation with the Jews. Peter needed the special vision to understand that, as a Jew, he was allowed to assemble with – church with Gentile believers.
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)…To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on / baptised all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished [that they received the Holy Spirit without converting, through circumcision, to Judaism]…For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized / merged into one body with the other believers, up to now all Jewish, which have received / been baptized / merged into one with the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10)
This was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy to the Jews quoted earlier.
“In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate…Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing…I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:5-16)
“And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them…
This clearly demonstrates at the first followers of Jesus were all law-abiding Jews and expected all followers of Yeshua to be the same. Peter was the first apostle to understand that Gentiles did not need to covert to Judaism to be saved. The proof of new life were the signs of the Holy Spirit controlling the new convert, as we see in the progression of this account.
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord [finally!], how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:1-18)
There were additional signs among the Gentiles – i.e. fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies – proving that YHVH’s savior had come not only to rule over Israel but to retake dominion over all the other peoples of the earth. Like prophecy in general, these are vague and can be argued to fit multiple interpretations. The Spirit of God who gave them is the only one who can accurately interpret them.
“Wherefore the LORD said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid…in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (Isaiah 29:13-24)
“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (I Corinthians 1:10-24)
Jesus had predicted this as well.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall
- they cast out devils;
- they shall speak with new tongues;
- They shall take up serpents;
- and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;
- they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)
These miracles and wonders were the proof that the Jews needed to be convinced that the uncircumcised Gentiles could be indwelt with God’s presence and power like they were.
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying,
Men and brethren…the Gentiles are turned to God:” (Act 15:12-19)
This, too, was fulfillment of prophecy.
“Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings…Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries…And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said…These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for mine holy name…
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land…And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it…I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock…so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 36:17-28)
Notice however, that the works that Jesus promised would prove Spirit indwelling are works he rejects as proving the workers are his followers. Which is it?
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:15-22)
Paul provides one of the many balancing acts in scripture. The “signs” – which can be faked or empowered by an evil spirit – aren’t the works that Jesus demands of us for salvation or even to prove salvation. All of these signs aren’t manifested by every believer, but every believer should be doing something!
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant…Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
- to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
- to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
- To another faith by the same Spirit;
- to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
- To another the working of miracles;
- to another prophecy;
- to another discerning of spirits;
- to another divers kinds of tongues;
- to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit…But now are they many members, yet but one body…
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? Obviously his rather sarcastic answer is “No!” do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church…Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?…Brethren, be not children in understanding…
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not…
Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God…
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (I Corinthians 12-14)
As Gentiles believers began joining the the Jewish believers in greater numbers, there were ongoing church arguments as to whether the Gentiles needed to convert to Judaism.
“there rose up certain of the [Jewish] sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them [the Gentile believers], and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. (Acts 15:5-6)
Aha! Here is the group / brotherhood / nation that, like King David’s response to the coup against his throne, replaced the illegitimate rulers of the Jews by order of King Jesus. And it is all, still, Jewish.
The ancient Jewish court system was called the Sanhedrin…Hellenistic sources generally depict the Sanhedrin as a political and judicial council headed by the country’s ruler…It was the final authority on Jewish law and any scholar who went against its decisions was put to death as a zaken mamre (rebellious elder)…The Great Sanhedrin dealt with religious and ritualistic Temple matters…and the solving of difficulties relating to ritual law…
“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them…God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith…
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them [as proof of Spirit indwelling].
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets…
Wherefore my sentence is…” (Act 15:5-20)
Here we can see that Peter was not the Chief Executive, the first Pope / Papa / Father of the nation as declared by the Roman Christian Church. We see that role was delegated to King Jesus’ brother James as head of King Jesus’ newly appointed Sanhedrin.
One other thing screams out at us by its silence – James’ failure to credit Barnabas and Paul as credible witnesses. And yet by this time they had multitudes of Gentiles saved under their full-time Gentile ministry against Peter’s one and only episode with Cornelius and his family and friends. Clearly the Gentile ministry was a sketchy business. As we track the growth of the New Testament church chronologically through the account of the Acts of the Apostles, we realize that, up to chapter 10, all believers in Jesus were Jewish and remained so. They were called Jews of the sect of the Nazarene, AKA The Way, to distinguish them from the other Jewish sects, each with shared but also distinctive beliefs. As long as it was standing, the temple at Jerusalem was the physical assembly place for the “church which was in Jerusalem.” Note, this church was exclusively Jewish. No Gentiles could join this assembly at the temple.
- Matthew 18:15-17 if they brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone…But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more…And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
- Acts 5:11-25 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things…(and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch…And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)…the angel of the Lord…said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught.
- Acts 8:1-2, 10: And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. As for Saul, he made havock of the church , Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution which arose about Stephen travelled…preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
While berating the rulers of the Jews, Stephen makes no distinction between Old and New Covenant assemblies of God’s people. As agitated against him as they were, it is notable that this term “church” didn’t concern them at all. There was no religious significance to it for them. There were no Gentiles in this Jerusalem assembly of believers. It only became a Gentile Christian term much much later.
- Acts 7:35-38 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer…Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me….he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina.
A meaningful pattern of the development of the organization and doctrine of the New Testament Church becomes apparent if we organize the books in the order and the context in which they were written. The exact dates of Jesus’ birth and death are disputed by reputable scholars but fall within a range of a few years. Likewise the dates the books of the New Testament were written can’t be known with absolute certainty, but these are drawn from conservative sources whose objective is in deepening our understand of, not discrediting, the Bible. In any case, for our purpose, the order and historical context in which books were written is what matters, and can be determined for the most part by internal evidence.
Chronological New Testament
|15-34||Acts 22:3||Paul, a Pharisee, studies the Law under Gamaliel, opposes Jesus & denounces His sect|
|29||Acts 2-8:1||Crucifixion, Holy Spirit given at Pentecost, apostles and believers continue meeting in the temple|
|32||Acts 6-8||Stephen stoned, persecution of Messianic Jewish sect by Jewish religious rulers including the Pharisee Saul / Paul|
|32-42||Acts 8, 11:19||Persecution in Jerusalem scatter believers in this Jewish sect who at first continue to witness to Jews only|
|34-37||Acts 9||Saul / Paul joins Messianic sect, smuggled out of Judea when his previous colleagues target him for death, indicating how great a threat he poses to their authority|
|37-47||Galatians 1:17-21||Paul spends 14 years in isolation from Messianic headquarters at Jerusalem, restudying Law and matching to Jesus’ teaching|
|40||Acts 10-11||Cornelius first uncircumcised Gentile accepted into fellowship with Jewish believers, by Peter|
|43||Acts 11:20-26||Gentiles converted in numbers & called Christians at Antioch in Syria prior to Paul’s involvement|
|43||Acts 12||Herod Agrippa I (d. 44) kills James son of Zebedee at Jerusalem, James bro of Jesus assumes leadership|
|45 – 62||James 1:1-3||Epistle of James written by brother of Jesus, to encourage “the twelve tribes” under tribulation|
|47||Acts 11:26||Barnabas brings Paul from Tarsus (Turkey) to Antioch (Syria) to help in growing ministry to Gentiles|
|47-48||Acts 13-14||Paul’s 1st missionary journey thru cities in Galatia (Turkey), meets at synagogues, evangelize Jews & Gentiles|
|49||Acts 15||Enough Gentiles have joined the Jewish sect in Antioch that a Church Council meets to settle question of whether or not Gentile believers required to follow Mosaic Law|
|49-53||Acts 16-18||Paul’s 2nd journey delivers decrees to existing churches in Galatia, crosses over to Europe at Macedonia & Greece|
|52||Acts 18:4-8||Paul leaves Corinth synagogue when they blaspheme, meets in the first house church mentioned in the Bible, with Jewish and Gentile believers|
|52-53||Acts 18:1-18||Letter to Galatians to strongly counter persistent Judaizers, 1st & 2nd letters to Thessalonians to encourage during tribulation, written by Paul from Corinth|
|54-59||Acts 18:23-21||Paul’s 3rd missionary journey|
|50-55||I Peter 5:13||Mark’s biography of Jesus written from Rome in collaboration with Peter to present Jesus as Messiah|
|55-56||Acts 19:1-10||Paul leaves Ephesus (Turkey) synagogue, meets daily in schoolhouse, great church growth|
|56||Acts 20:1-2||1st letter to Corinthians written from Macedonia by founder Paul in response to church problems|
|58||Acts 20:2||Romans is written from Corinth|
|58||Acts 20:3-4||2nd letter to Corinthians followup on previous instructions, references great tribulation, Paul meets personally with Ephesus elders|
|58||I Peter 5:13||1st letter from Peter backs up Paul’s ministry to his Gentile churches, and supports them in their fiery trial of tribulation|
|58||Acts 21||Paul at Jerusalem denies the charge that he teaches Jews to forsake Mosaic Law|
|58-60||Acts 22-24||Paul imprisoned at Caesarea by Romans to protect from illegal Jewish plot against his life, witnesses to Roman governors Felix and Festus, Jewish King Herod Agrippa II, appeals to Caesar|
|55-60||Mathew 1:1||Matthew writes biography of Jesus to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. Such biographies were “a genre of Greco-Roman literature interested in describing the goals, achievements, failures, and character of ancient historical persons and whether or not they should be imitated.”|
|60-63||Acts 28:16-31||Paul imprisoned at Rome, reaches out first to Jewish leadership and only to Gentiles after Jews unaccepting|
|60||Luke 1:1-4||Luke’s biography of Jesus is written in collaboration with Paul, possibly for evidence in trial before Caesar|
|62-63||Philippians, Colossians, Philemon written by Paul from prison in Rome.|
|62-63||Act 1:1||Acts by Luke at this time or later. James stoned to death by High Priest at Jerusalem as Jewish nationalistic aspirations heighten.|
|63||Letter to Ephesian Gentiles is written by Paul from Rome to encourage picking up their qualified leadership roles after his outreach to Jewish leadership is repulsed. Paul is aware of gathering storm in Judea from insight into current events as fulfillment of Jesus’ warning to “this generation”, predicting Jerusalem doomsday by 70 AD.|
|63||Hebrews written to Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus as Messiah explaining overrriding identity, and leadership rights, as Hebrew priests under High Priest Melchizedek, in preparation for transition of leadership from Jews to Gentiles.|
|63||Paul is acquitted and released, leaves Rome|
|64||I Timothy 1:3||1st letter to Timothy, Titus is Written from Macedonia|
|64||The Great Fire of Rome triggers a seven year great tribulation by the Roman Empire of followers of Jewish Messiah|
|64||II Peter 1:1, 2:1-3||2nd letter by Peter written from Rome prior to Paul’s death, supporting Paul’s transfer of leadership from Jews to Gentiles.|
|64-67||Peter is martyred under Nero,|
|65||II Timothy 4:6||2nd letter to Timothy written when Paul is imprisoned for 2nd and last time, mourning that the response to his letter to the Ephesians, the leading church of Asia was that “All in Asia be turned away from me“. Now who will pick up church leadership?|
|66||Paul martyred at Rome under Nero as the anticipated revolt by Judean Jews explodes, Messianic Jew flee across the Jordan river to Pella, Jerusalem church and Jewish leadership in shambles.|
|70||Jerusalem besieged, temple destroyed and Jews are deported|
|~80||Jude||Jude, brother of Jesus, exhorts believers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” which he references as pre-Judaism believers.|
|~80||John, I, II, III John||John’s biography of Jesus written to Gentiles unfamiliar with Jewish customs, and three letters.|
|~89||Revelation is Written by last surviving apostle, John, to Paul’s Gentile churches in Turkey|
When we track Paul’s timeline, we discover that the “church of God” was exclusively Jewish for at least the first 20 years.
- Galatians 3:15-23 When it pleased God…that I might preach him among the heathen; I came into the regions of Syria [Antioch, first Gentile congregation] and Cilicia [first missionary journey]; And was unknown by face unto the [exclusively Jewish] churches of Judaea which were in Christ…
- Galatians 3:15-23 When it pleased God…that I might preach him among the heathen; I came into the regions of Syria [Antioch, first Gentile congregation] and Cilicia [first missionary journey]; And was unknown by face unto the [exclusively Jewish] churches of Judaea which were in Christ…
- Galatians 3:13-14 ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
By now it should be apparent that the “church of God” was, at this point in time, an exclusively Jewish assembly of believers in God. It was the one scripturally true sect of the many sects in Judaism including the unscriptural “Jews’ religion” based on tradition rather than scripture, Pharisaical Constitutional Conservatives continuously creating increasingly burdensome laws, and the Sadducees / Social Liberals. No significant numbers of Gentiles are added into this Jewish sect until Paul is sent out.
“And some…when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians…and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
Then…the church which was in Jerusalem [composed strictly of Jews]…sent forth Barnabas…and much people was added unto the Lord. Then Barnabas…brought [Saul / Paul] unto Antioch. And...a whole year they assembled themselves with the church [which included Gentiles], and taught much people.” (Acts 11)
Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles
The text clearly connects the significant Gentile teaching ministry at Antioch to Paul’s missionary work to the Gentiles.
Now there were in the church / assembly which included many Gentiles] that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as 1) Barnabas, and 2) Simeon that was called Niger, and 3) Lucius of Cyrene, and 4) Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and 5) Saul…
the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:1-3)
The early church’s extensive teaching ministry to unscriptural Gentiles contrasts sharply with the Pentacostal believers who were so grounded in the Old Testament prophets that they could immediately accept the Jewish religion of YHVH’s Savior’s redemptive death and proof by resurrection as related by his righteous witnesses.
Gentiles? Not so. They needed to start with the Old Testament background leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. As we proceed, we will see that Paul always started his Gentile ministry with those proselytes who assembled with the Jews in the synagogues, therefore knew what on earth he was talking about from the Old Testament.
The need for this strategy is obvious when we consider that the bulk of Christian doctrine is found in Paul’s epistles, and realize that they were not available until after his first missionary journey, when he follows up with his first Gentile converts. Then, when we examine them, we find that they are essentially commentaries on the Old Testament. This is plain to see in Paul’s pervasive citing of Old Testament scripture to prove his arguments, a sampling of which is provided below.
|New Testament||Old Testament|
|I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Ro 1:15-16||I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame. Psa 119:46|
|For therein is the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Ro 1:17||Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Hab 2:4|
|For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. Ro 1:18-19||They spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out…can he give bread also? Can he provide flesh for his people? Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth…because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: though he had …rained down manna upon them to eat…He rained flesh also upon them as dust… But while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them. Psa 78:19-31|
|For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Ro 1:20||The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Psa 19:1-3|
|Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Ro 1:21||The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psa 14:1|
|But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. Ro 2:2||….he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. Psa 96:13|
|Who will render to every man according to his deeds. Ro 2:6||…thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jer 32:19|
|Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: Ro 2:9-10||…Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation…Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet:…I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth. Isa 28:16-17,22|
|For there is no respect of persons with God. Ro 2:11||Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor. Lev 19:15|
|For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.) Ro 2:12-13||Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you… Deut 5:32-33|
|For when the Gentile, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. Ro 2:14-15||And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelechin a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. Gen 2); 2-5|
|In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. Ro 2:16||The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool….The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek…He shall judge among the heathen…Psa 110:1-6|
|Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God…through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. Ro 2:17-24||Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord, and my name continually every day is blasphemed. Isa 52:5|
|For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Ro 2:25||Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. Jer 9:25-26|
|Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? Ro 2:26||And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. Josh 5:3 (because that generation had not been circumcised throughout the 40 years they had foregone the promised land.)|
|For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.||Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Jer 4:4|
|What advantage then has the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much in every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. Ro 3:1-2||For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the first, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. Deu 4:32-36|
|What then? Are we better than they? No in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Ro 3:9-11||The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Psa 14:2-3|
|Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Ro 3:27 For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9||And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron…And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be ere they believe me…I will smite them…And Moses said unto the Lord…The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression…Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles…and have not hearkened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers… Nu 14:1-23|
When, instead of overlaying an theological interpretation that Jesus gave Paul a unique revelation about a Gentile-only church, we recognize that Paul is relying on Old Testament scripture for his doctrine, we see that the plan of salvation by grace through faith, and not the works of the law, was not a new development devised by Paul or even revealed by Jesus. It was the Old Testament word of God that revealed to Paul the fundamental doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.
|Conviction of sin|
|And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid…And he said…Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said…I did eat. Gen 3:9-12||For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Ro 3:23|
|Notice that death would follow sin|
|And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen 2:16-17||For the wages of sin is death… Ro 6:23|
|Announcement that another life, in the blood, could substitute for the sinner’s|
|Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Gen 3:21 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering. Gen 4:4||But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Ro 5:8|
|And the Lord God said unto the serpent…I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Gen 3:15||Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. Ro 3:24-25|
|The heir to David’s throne would save all humanity from their sin|
|Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David…I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom…for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him… I Chr 17:7-14 …I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. See ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way…and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isa 55:3-7||Then Paul stood up, and…said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience…God…said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus…And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David…Be it know unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Act 13:16-39|
It was the Old Testament word of God that revealed to Paul that Gentiles are saved by the same grace through faith without requiring adherence to the uniquely Israelite national legal code.
The book of Job was undoubtedly one of Paul’s documentary sources for proving that the law of Moses, given to Moses by God about 2,500 years after God gave the promise of salvation to all humanity through identification with the Seed of the Woman, was never an alternative means of salvation for a select group of people which was replaced when Jesus died on the cross.
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:1-2)
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning [quoted in his writings], that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures [accepted and internalized by the reader] might have hope / confidence [of eternal life].” (Romans 15:4)
Entire books in the Old Testament are devoted to the doctrine that all nations – Gentiles – are saved by grace through faith.
“the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
Bear in mind, Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrians, a vicious nation comparable to Nazi Germany. It had dispersed and obliterated the identity of many nations including the northern half of Israel, and Judah had narrowly escaped the same fate under King Hezekiah. As we know, initially Jonah refused this mission in the conviction that they didn’t deserve to be saved from a Sodom and Gomorrah fate. Not to mention his likely fate at Ninevah’s hands. It took awhile with the whale incident, but eventually Jonah did go to Ninevah.
“So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh…and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown…
word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh…neither man nor beast…feed, nor drink water: be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God…turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry…I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil…
said the LORD…should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah)
This is exactly what John the Baptist preached.
“when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” (Matthew 3:7-8)
This is exactly what Jesus preached.
“the Pharisees…said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?…Jesus said unto them…go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13)
And this is exactly what Paul preached.
“Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, [the Jews] and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” (Acts 26:19-21)
If we pay attention to the details of the accounts of Paul’s missionary journeys, we discover that he spearheaded all his new Gentile mission fields at the synagogues. By now we should know why. There is where he would find Old Testament literate Jews and Gentiles prepped to accept Jesus as the prophesied Savior.
“So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed
- And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews:
- they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day…many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas…the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” (Acts 13)
- in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed….Long time therefore abode they. (Acts 14)
Paul’s mission churches to the Gentiles were Jewish.
“I continue unto this day…saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people / Jews, and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26)
As was noted at the church in Antioch, it takes time for new converts to mature in the faith. It also takes time, attention, and interest by the new converts. Until that could happen, Paul gathered leaders of his mission churches from the scripturally literate Jews at the synagogues.
“[Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered…
every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:9-14)
So it wasn’t until much later in Paul’s ministry that there were Gentile proselytes who Paul could begin to coach into leadership positions within the entire body of believers in Jesus as the Christ.
“Paul…came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila…with his wife Priscilla…he abode with them…And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles [in this city]. And he departed [from the synagogue] and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” (Acts 18:1-8)
Notice – Paul’s curse on the blasphemous Jews applied only to those in Corinth. At his next pit stop he again followed his standard procedure of starting a new work with the Jews.
“Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus...And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus…by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 19:1-10)
Yes, but Paul did say he received special revelation from Jesus about his gospel to the Gentiles, didn’t he? Let’s examine that passage in Galatians 1 hermeneutically.
- “the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it”
- This accords with Paul receiving the gospel message from the Old Testament, as “the holy scriptures…are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ…Preach the word;” (II Timothy 3:15-17, 4:
- “but by the revelation of Jesus Christ…when it pleased God…To reveal his Son in me…that I might preach him among the heathen;
- Three times Paul gives a detailed account of Jesus revealing himself to him. He consistently reports that Jesus’ message was not doctrinal, what we call the gospel of salvation, but strictly marching orders.
- Acts 9 he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? I am Jesus…And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?…bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:“
- Acts 22 I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?…I am Jesus…And I said, What shall I do, Lord?…The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard…I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
- Three times Paul gives a detailed account of Jesus revealing himself to him. He consistently reports that Jesus’ message was not doctrinal, what we call the gospel of salvation, but strictly marching orders.
In this second account, it is unlikely that Saul’s only experience with seeing and hearing Jesus would be in future special visions. The qualifications for being an apostle were clearly laid out as being one who “companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22) This would be accounted for by Saul being one of the Pharisees hounding Jesus during his ministry, therefore he did both “see that Just One…and hear the voice of his mouth.” How else could Paul verify his vision on the road to Damascus as being truly the Lord Jesus? And the third account supports this logical deduction.
- Acts 26 fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me…Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?…I am Jesus…I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen [in the past], and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee [in the future,]; Delivering thee from the people [Jews], and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
In this last account the future revelations of Jesus to Paul are specified as not being doctrinal, but deliverance from the endless threat to his life by both Jews and Gentiles, which began immediately after his conversion.
- Acts 9 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues…And the Jews took counsel to kill him:
- Act 9 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem…he disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
- Acts 14 in Iconium…there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use despitefully, and to stone them.
- Acts 14 they fled unto Lystra and Derbe…And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
While Paul was magnified many years later as the “the founder of Christianity” which supposedly began on the Day of Pentecost long before Paul was involved, during his mission work not only was he viciously opposed by the traditional Jewish leaders in the synagogues, he was always snubbed by the Messianic Jewish leaders.
“when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in / through me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately
- I conferred not with…them which were apostles before me…
- after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter [clearly lobbying for the Gentiles against the Judaizer faction]…
- other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother…
- Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
- these who seemed to be somewhat…in conference added nothing to me…must be referring to the Acts 15 conference, as we saw his testimony was brushed aside.]
James, Cephas / Hebrew translation for Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars…gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship;
- that we should go unto the heathen,
- and they unto the circumcision.” (Galatians 1:15-20, 2:9)
Do you see the apartheid being established? The body of believers in Jesus Christ in its formative years was a Jewish sect desiring to maintain a distinctly Jewish identity, with Gentile converts being pressured to become Jews. Paul’s letter to his first mission churches, established in Galatia during his first mission journey, relentlessly projects Paul’s ostracism from the main body of believers because he promoted Gentile spiritual equality with Jewish believers, without conversion to Judaism by circumcision and keeping the law of Moses. It is easy to interpret Galatians as Christian doctrine versus Judaism which passed away at the cross, But note – the same passages clearly show that all the Jewish believers in Jesus, the apostles included – DID continue to require circumcision and keeping the law of Moses FOR JEWISH BELIEVERS.
“I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also...and communicated unto them [the Jewish leaders of the church at Jerusalem] that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain [be over-ruled by the majority rule].
because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our [Gentile] liberty [from this practice] which we [associating himself with his Gentile converts] have in Christ Jesus, that they [Jewish believers] might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you…
“when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself…And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him [pretended they never ate with Gentiles].
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all [not only embarrassing him but disrespecting his high status in the group], If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:1-16
“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ [by the Jews insisting on Jewish purity in that sect]…
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:12-16)
Paul’s ostracism proves that there was no “Gentile” church throughout years of church history recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
There was only a Jewish sect that, reluctantly and hesitantly, associated somewhat with Gentile believers in the Jewish Savior. It is highly significant that, while encouraging Gentiles to identify with God’s people without full conversion to Judaism, Paul himself never relinquished his Israelite identity.
“I also am [present tense] an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” (Romans 11:1)
“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;” (Philippians 3:4-5)
“among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.” (Acts 26)
Paul himself never claimed to found a new religion. He states multiple times that he was a follower of Jesus of Nazareth because he was the fulfillment of Judaism’s Old Testament prophecy.
“Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul…we have found this man a pestilent fellow…a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes…
Then Paul…answered, after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing [present tense!] all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust…I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings...certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple…” (Acts 24:1-18)
Paul clearly articulates that the law of Moses, which did not institute but rather affirmed the earlier practice of the identifying mark of circumcision, was never an element of salvation for the Jews but a code of righteous conduct for a select leadership who are already in a faith-based relationship with the LORD God.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness…And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised…being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus / YHVH’s Savior our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:1-25)
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.” (Romans 3:19-29)
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning [quoted in his writings], that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures [accepted and internalized by the reader] might have hope / confidence…of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Romans 15:4, Titus 1:1-2)
It is precisely because the Jewish national heritage has NOTHING to do with the MEANS of salvation by faith that the reverse is likewise true.
Accepting salvation by faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t change Jewish national heritage. They are two separate gifts of God.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)
“Timotheus, the son of a…Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek…Paul…took and circumcised.” (Acts 16:1-3)
“But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:” (Galatians 2:3)
“And when we were come to Jerusalem…Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present…and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs…
Do therefore this that we say to thee. We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them…that all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also…keepest the law.”
And Paul agreed. He absolutely believed that Jewish believers should continue to practice the ritual law of Moses.
Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.” (Acts 21:17-26)
Paul was never made welcome at the home New Testament Church, led by James, in Jerusalem. His base was in Gentile Asia.
“all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks…So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed…And the same time there arose no small stir about that way [one of the designations of the Jewish sect of the Nazarenes]…almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:” (Acts 19)
And even Paul’s Gentile base rejected his unification message when he pushed too hard for equality, reflecting either Gentile antisemitism or reluctance to assume responsibility.
“all they which are in Asia be turned away from me;” (II Timothy 1:8-15)
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time
- ye were without Christ, being
- aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and
- strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances [requiring quarantine of Jews from pagans]; for to make in himself of twain one new man so making peace…
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” (Ephesians 2:11-19)
AHA! you say. There you have it. Christians are the “new man”. No more Judaism. Not so fast. What does the text mean by “one new man”? Clearly it equates the new condition of with Christ as
- no longer being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel which must therefore logically still be in existence
- no longer strangers from the covenants of promise to Abraham
- but instead fellowcitizens with the saints, i.e. those humans who have achieved sanctification in the past prior to not only Jesus’ death but even before the establishment of Judaism.
“The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words. Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 33:2-4)
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; [which occurred before the world, i.e. time-space, began] One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all…
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind…
- put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…
- put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
- putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4)
“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have
- put off the old man with his deeds; And have
- put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge / unity after the image of him that created him:
- Where there is neither
- Greek nor Jew,
- circumcision nor uncircumcision,
- Barbarian, Scythian,
- bond nor free:
but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3)
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- There is neither Jew nor Greek,
- there is neither bond nor free,
- there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27-19)
Trust me, Christian churches still recognize the difference between male and female identities and roles. So therefore they have to recognize that there are still differences between Jewish believers’ and Gentile believers’ identities and roles on earth at this time. The text clarifies that we are “heirs” to the promise which hasn’t been completely delivered yet. We’re caught between two worlds of the physical and spiritual.
“if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall [future] also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you…
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God…The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified [future] together…
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God…ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body”(Romans 8)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a [spiritually] new creature:
- old things [physical drives and exploitive pursuits] are passed away; behold,
- all things [drives, interests and activities] are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:16-17)
And there we have it! The “new man” is the resurrected, immortal human who has been redeemed from sin and death as promised to the Adams – for the express purpose of restoring dominion over the earth to humanity! This is what was understood as the Gentiles read John’s message that whoever received Jesus as God messenger and savior could become a Son of God / Representative of God / Leader in the kingdom.
“He came unto his own [the priest-rulers], and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (Joh 1:11-12).
But what about that verse that says that “Christ is the end of the law?” Put it in context! This is written to those who ignorantly thought that salvation could come through following the law.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law [requiring blood sacrifices] for [establishing God’s] righteousness to every one that believeth…
For the scripture saith…there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:1-13)
Judaism was not established for the purpose of salvation. It was established for leadership in the kingdom of God.
“And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying…tell the children of Israel;…if ye will…keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:3-6)
And we see that throughout the first century the Jewish apostles in the peculiar Jewish Messianic sect did indeed provide leadership in the kingdom of God. Only in desperation, at the end of Paul’s ministry, knowing from Jesus’ prediction that Jerusalem and the temple would shortly be destroyed during “this generation”, and the refusal of the alternate base of Jewish leadership at Rome to pick up “salvation is of the Jews”, did he transition leadership in the kingdom of God from the Jewish leaders to the Gentiles.
“And when we came to Rome…Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him…Paul called the chief of the Jews together…there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear [respond to] it” (Acts 28:16-31)
The phrase “the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles” can’t be interpreted as meaning only Gentiles and no Jews can be saved. Hermeneutically, that interpretation is antithetical to the essence of the message of the entire Bible. This phrase is the follow through from a statement made by Jesus during his ministry to a Gentile, where “salvation is of the Jews” means that they carry the message, the way, for Jews and Gentiles.
“a woman of Samaria…saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews…
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” (John 4)
And this is the same meaning that Paul expresses during his mission trips to Jews and Gentiles.
“God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus...Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent [by me].
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet [heard, responded to] the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him [rather than presenting him as salvation]” (Acts 13:23-27)
It wasn’t until the end of Jerusalem’s Jewish Church loomed that Paul writes the letter to the Ephesians.
The the Great Revolt of 66-70, followed some sixty years later by the Bar Kokhba revolt, were the greatest calamities in Jewish history prior to the Holocaust. In addition to the more than one million Jews killed, these failed rebellions led to the total loss of Jewish political authority in Israel until 1948. This loss in itself exacerbated the magnitude of later Jewish catastrophes, since it precluded Israel from being used as a refuge for the large numbers of Jews fleeing persecutions elsewhere.
The people of the Church in Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given by revelation before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it to depart and dwell in one of the cities of Perea which they called Pella. To it those who believed on Christ traveled from Jerusalem…”— Eusebius, Church History 3, 5, 3
This is the first, and only, letter to a Gentile Church urging them to take charge, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that prior to this, there was a clear separation between Jewish believers – the leaders – and Gentile believers – the led.
The majestic chapters of Ephesians emphasize the unity in the church of Christ that has come about for both Jews and Gentiles within God’s household / administration (Eph 1:15–2:22, especially Eph 2:11–22) and indeed the “seven unities” of church, Spirit, hope; one Lord, faith, and baptism; and the one God (Eph 4:4–6). Yet the concern is not with the church for its own sake but rather as the means for mission in the world (Eph 3:1–4:24). The gifts Christ gives its members are to lead.
Notice how Paul is rather circumstantial in the delivery of this assertion. He lays out rationale after rationale why they should believe him, then finally spits it out. This – the inclusion of Gentiles into leadership and not simply membership within the kingdom of God – is THE supreme revelation given by Jesus to Paul. And he knows it’s a shocker.
“we are…created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
- Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles…without Christ
- aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,
- and strangers from the covenants of promise…
- But now in Christ Jesus…are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
- For he…hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
- Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints,
- and [more than just faceless, nameless citizens] – of the household of God; [remember the household are the ministers, not an insult, but closest to the king, known personally to the king, highly valued in a king’s entourage]
- And [even more – unity in relationship!] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone…ye also are builded together [with them] for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
For this cause I Paul,
- the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles [appealing to their sentiment],
- If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [appealing to shared history]
- How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; [appealing to spiritual authority]
- (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [not sure what this is, maybe a previous letter they simply threw away]
- Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [appealing to rule of two or more witnesses, and Peter steps up as seen in the above chart of writings]
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs / rulers, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,
- that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [beyond simply salvation]
- And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
- To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
- According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…
- For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
- That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man…
- May be able to comprehend…
- And to know the love [unity] of Christ, which passeth knowledge
- that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
- Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity [of the long-standing conflict between Jews and Gentiles] of the Spirit in the bond of peace.“ (Ephesians 2-4)
Sure enough, this letter resulted in all in Asia – Ephesus’ sphere of influence – abandoning Paul’s leadership. And this is when Paul writes the pastoral manuals to his spiritual sons and successors, Timothy and Titus.
“Titus, mine own son after the common faith…For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly…as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers…Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Titus 1:4-14)
“Timothy, my own son in the faith…As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine…
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless…the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Timothy 1,3)
Continuing chronologically with Paul’s letters, we find that when the churches in Asia (Turkey) rejected Paul, they also repudiated his disciple Timothy.
“This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me…Thou therefore, my son…do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (II Timothy 1:15, 4:5)
However! Peter, the supremely respected Apostle to the Jews and special envoy to the Gentiles, backed him up.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia...it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded...unto them which be disobedient…a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also THEY [the Jewish leaders at the time] were appointed. [Referencing a specific incident with Jesus.]
But YE Gentiles are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:” (I Peter 1:1, 2:7-10, Exodus 19:5-6)
We can also induce from Jesus’ message through John to the Ephesians some 15 years later after the destruction of Jerusalem, that they had indeed picked up the reins and taken charge.
Finally! Gentile Christianity reigns!
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels [God’s messenger, pastor] of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his [first, central, leading] place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 1:10-11, 20-2:5)
What was the Gentile church’s first love, from where had they fallen, what did they need to repent of and what were their first works?