Quit Believing the Devil’s Lies

The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17.9 NET)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Philippians 4.8 NET)

No one should believe lies, let alone Christians. Christians are, however, not immune to having evil thoughts. Do I think that evil spirits put thoughts into our hearts? Not necessarily. Christians continue to have a battle with the “fleshly mind” (Rom. 8.6), and are influenced by evil thoughts if they believe the original liar whom humans, in Adam, chose to follow in Eden: But to Adam he said, “Because you obeyed your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ (Gen. 3.17a NET).

We can lie to ourselves in several ways instead of “thinking about true things” (Phil. 4.8). Don’t listen to your evil heart or other lies from people who are bold enough to spout them. Christian are running in a race against the mind of the flesh (see 1 Cor. 9.24-27). Romans sets out a pattern for us to follow:

For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. (Rom. 8.5-9 NET)

“From Before the Creation of the World”-Revised Post

Nowhere in the bible, that I have noticed, exists the phrase: “From before the creation of the world.” Instead, the Greek text says: “From before the foundation of the world.” So why do I, and other versions, translate this phrase: “From before the creation of the world?” Sometimes the bible can, or should be translated, from logical inference. Word literalism may mislead if only the lexical meaning is followed. Phrases in ancient literature, along with the bible, may have a semantic range which differs from modern ways of communicating.

I used to think that how to find the time specified by the literal rendering: “From before the foundation of the world” was to define the “world” from a lexical meaning and proceed to establish a timeframe. I no longer believe this is the best approach since the bible helps to establish the time to which the text refers. The scriptures were written for ordinary folks. A person doesn’t have to earn a PhD to understand what the bible says. The bible will interpret itself, and, further, God is able to illumine our understanding of what He wrote-Eph. 1.17-19a.

The meaning of our targeted phrase is seen in Heb. 4.3-4: For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
In these verses of Heb. 4 it clearly specifies the timeframe as happening before God “rested” from all His works.

Jeremiah and Pashhur — Dr. Claude Mariottini – Professor of Old Testament

The ministry of the prophet Jeremiah was very difficult because of the opposition he faced from the people and the leaders of the nation because of the message he proclaimed. Jeremiah was called to urge Israel to turn back to God.  Israel was urged by the prophet to obey the demands of the covenant established on Mt. […]

Jeremiah and Pashhur — Dr. Claude Mariottini – Professor of Old Testament

Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go? A Promise? — PeterGoeman.com

Proverbs 22:6 has been interpreted in some circles as a promise to parents that if they do their jobs right, their child will never abandon the faith. However, this in turn has resulted in many parents feeling as if God has broken His promise to them when their child turns from the faith. Train up…

Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go? A Promise? — PeterGoeman.com

“The Word Did It All”: The Necessity of Preaching According to the Protestant Reformers — Southern Equip

One danger of being familiar with history is just that. It becomes familiar to us. Or so we think. Our familiarity with the facts, the cause-effect relationships, and the narrative may keep us from actually seeing what happened, or why what took place matters for us. The narrative of the Protestant Reformation serves as a…

“The Word Did It All”: The Necessity of Preaching According to the Protestant Reformers — Southern Equip

WWPD-What Would Paul Do? Push Back to WWJD

There is a better way to follow Jesus than looking at Jesus’ life and discerning what He would have done in our circumstance. The Spirit of Jesus indwells and empowers us Whom He has sent to be with us forever (Jn. 14.16-17). We don’t have to analyze what Jesus would have done since He lives within us, teaching the way to live. However, we do need a human example to pattern our walk with Him. It’s not about any kind of mysticism that Jesus leads us; instead, He provides human models who follow cruciform principles. He has given us an example in the person of Paul the Apostle: “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1Cor. 11.1). Paul was a “chosen vessel to carry My name to Gentiles and also kings, and then to the sons of Israel” (Acts 9.15 literal rendering). Paul didn’t go in his own strength or wisdom, but by the Spirit, representing Jesus in a real way since Jesus was working through him.

Jesus had to fulfill both specific and general types during His earthly ministry, and thus could never be our pattern for life. Jesus was more than just prophet, priest, and king; He is also the Creator, The Author of life, the Lawgiver and Judge, the Savior, among other things. There is no way, in our flesh, that we can model our lives on Christ’s life. Instead, He provided other Christians whom He taught earlier: His apostles, specifically, Paul.

There are some who want to revive the recurring and misguided idea of WWJD: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/defense-wwjd/. This is a turn to the Social Gospel of Charles Sheldon, who, in 1896, developed a sermon series based on the question, “What would Jesus do?” Eventually, this turned into the novel, In His Steps. Initially, Charles Sheldon sought to provide practical works for the Christian instead of the new life in Christ. Sheldon believed in, and advocated, Christian Socialism, contrary to the pattern given by Paul, and later, the Protestant Reformers.

While Sheldon advocated many good causes, he was also misguided by his view of alcohol prohibition, which, after this law’s implementation, caused more harm than good. Sheldon’s ministry was characterized by a moralism that didn’t offer any eternal hope for its followers. His theology seemed to be focused on the present exclusively and thus was associated with the Social Gospel, which is, in reality, no gospel at all. Yes, it’s true that, among church practice in the N.T., support was given to destitute members. However, this support was very qualified since it was only extended to widows over 60 who had lived exemplary lives and previously served the congregation (1Tim.5.9-10).

Paul viewed his flock as co-laborers (2Cor. 6.1) and gave them an example to follow from his own ministry. Every ministry situation we face will be unique, but can be guided by the principles which characterized Christ’s great Apostle. By following the bible’s instruction, we will not fall into the trap of misguided social causes, such as WWJD. Instead we should emulate the cruciform life of Paul in 2Cor. 6.3-10. In the following comprehensive list, nowhere is there any hint of patterning our lives upon that which Christ might have done in similar situations:

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything (NIV).

Matthew’s and Luke’s Genealogy of Jesus Compared

Primary Argument

While I cover several issues unique to my understanding of Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts, my central contention is that Luke gives Mary’s lineage which is Jesus’ human ancestry. He had to be human and linked to several promises for Him to substitute as a sacrifice for our sins. Animal sacrifices in the Mosaic Scheme only symbolized Him who was to come and could not, by themselves, atone for sin (Heb. 9.11-12, 10.1-4).

Matthew’s Genealogy (1.1-17)

Matthew was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples and thus an eyewitness for most of his gospel’s accounts. He may have heard Jesus give Joseph’s genealogy or, more probably, sourced it from Jesus’ half brothers James or Jude. James was known in the early Christian community as “James the Just” and wrote the Epistle of “James.” He was also the leader of the Jerusalem and Jewish Christian communities. Jude also wrote an epistle and likewise was a Jewish Church leader. Initially, Matthew’s Gospel may have been written in Aramaic since it seems to focus on a Jewish readership. Many think that only later was his gospel translated into Greek. This translation into Greek would benefit and reach a wider audience outside of Roman Judea to both Jew and Gentile.

Inexplicably, in giving Joseph’s lineage, Matthew leaves out Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah (between Jehoram and Uzziah) in his list. This may have been an editorial choice to achieve 14 generations since some of the Judean Kings were not particularly evil compared to others on Matthew’s list. This is a topic for my further inquiry.

Also, Matthew uses Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) in two of his groupings, though he associates his time as “the exile.” Matthew doesn’t mention Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah who was the last king before the Babylonian Exile. Perhaps an early manuscript corruption occurred preserving the name “Jeconiah” instead of “Jehoiakim,” in verse 11, since it mentions “brothers.” Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) didn’t have any brothers, at least not recorded in the bible. The names of this father and son are very similar and thus conducive to mix-up. Also, its unclear what Jehoiakim’s Greek name would be if Matthew did compose the genealogy in Greek.

Obviously, Matthew knew Zedekiah was Josiah’s son and the same generation as Jehoiakim, and thus Matthew’s counting of a generation. To me, a textual corruption in verse 11 avoids Matthew using “Jeconiah” twice and makes the most sense. Mentioning Zedekiah would not have added another generation since he was the youngest son of Josiah, having both his brothers, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, reign before him. Therefore, originally, I believe, Matthew wrote “Jehoiakim and his brothers” (in either Aramaic or Greek) in verse 11 and the first copyist probably confused his name with the latter reference to Jeconiah.

Why give Joseph’s Lineage if Jesus was Unaffected?

Joseph’s supposed adoption of Jesus is not a biblical factor and doesn’t fulfill any promise. Of course, Jesus has nothing to do with Joseph’s direct genealogical line, except in people’s perception and the result that they would call Jesus the “Son of David.” Jesus certainly was of David’s line, but not through Joseph (see Luke’s genealogy below). The general society during His earthly ministry assumed that Jesus was Joseph’s son since they knew Joseph and Jesus’ brothers, and therefore perceived Him as of the lineage of David. At the time of the Roman Census, Joseph went to David’s hometown because of his lineage, which shows the relative importance of genealogy for the Jewish People.

It must have been a common practice to recite one’s genealogy and to know how one fit into the Nation of Israel. After the return from the Babylonian Captivity, only registered Jews could be counted as part of Israel: Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to their own town-Ez. 2.1 NIV).

Ezra 2.59 states that some exiles were excluded because no evidence existed to confirm that they were Jews: The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel. Also, some priests were not allowed to eat from the offerings (see Ez. 2.63) since they had lost their records: These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean (Ez. 2.62 NIV). See also 2Chron. 31.16-19 for the importance of being recorded genealogically as priests and Levites during Hezekiah’s reforms.

Zerubbabel father of Abihud (Mt. 1.13)

Both Joseph’s and Mary’s lineage converge at Zerubbabel and diverge again afterward. Why is Zerubbabel so important if he was only a governor and not a king in any sense? First, he did signal a sort of restoration and return to the land promised by Jeremiah’s prophecies. Also, both Haggai and Zechariah prophesy concerning him. Zerubbabel functions as the return of the signet ring, which indicates authority and ownership from a metaphorical viewpoint.

Zerubbabel is the same individual as Sheshbazzar since Cyrus the Great appointed Sheshbazzar governor and entrusted the temple vessels to him being “the prince of Judah” (Ez.1.8, 5.14). Zerubbabbel was the prince of Judah by his lineage and named governor of the land. Sheshbazzar most likely was a name given Zerubbabel by either the Babylonian or Persian overlords similar to how Daniel and his friends were renamed by Nebuchadnezzar.

Though Zerubbabel’s importance is shown by the many prophecies about or to him (Hag. 1.1,12,14, 2.2,4,21,23, Zech.4.6,7,9,10), the most significant reference is his reestablishment as the signet ring on the Lord’s hand in Hag. 2.23. In Jer. 22.24 Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) is removed from being the Lord’s signet ring: As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off (NIV). What function was denied to Jehoiachin, Zerubbabel now fulfills by the prophecy in Hag. 2.23: “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (NIV).

“Abihud” is not mentioned in the O.T. records as a son of Zerubbabel; and, the best solution seems to regard this as an alternate designation just the way many other biblical figures in both Old and New Testaments also were known by more than one name.

Luke’s Genealogy (3.23-38)

Luke was Paul’s traveling companion to deliver financial aid to the church in Roman Judea ( the “we” passage in Acts 20-26). After the riot in Jerusalem (Acts 21.27 ff.), the Roman Governor Felix kept Paul imprisoned at Caesarea for two years. This left Luke sidelined waiting for Paul’s case to be resolved. It seems certain that Luke used this time as an opportunity to contact eyewitnesses of Jesus’ early life and ministry: just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word (Lk. 1.2 NIV). There is hardly any doubt that one of the primary witnesses that Luke drew upon was Jesus’ mother, who, though elderly, would have probably still been living in Roman Judea. No other person could have recounted the events of the elderly parents of John the Baptist and her own experience of the angelic visit along with all the material Luke gives in his first three chapters of his gospel. Therefore, Luke was uniquely positioned at this time of approximately 57-60 CE to interview the remaining eyewitness of Jesus’ birth.

Luke’s Gospel was meant to be read in context of what occurred previously. It’s a mistake to merely focus in on the genealogy of 3.23-38 without the grounding of what Luke said about the marvelous events recorded in his first two chapters. This is why some cannot see the genealogy which Luke provides as Mary’s. Since Jesus was virgin-born whose human lineage was His? It becomes obvious only when read as a whole following the sequential narrative. Initially, the biblical text had no chapter and verse divisions. A Parisian printer introduced the idea in the 16th century with The Geneva Bible, the first to adopt this practice. A real danger exists for readers in atomizing the text into small and discrete parts losing the context and flow of the narrative.

Luke’s genealogical strategy is quite different from Matthew’s since he connects Jesus to all humanity by going back to God’s son Adam. Creation is a kind of metaphorical generation. The Eternal Son was the Creator who, at His incarnation, becomes the Second Adam to redeem many by His obedience (see Romans 5). By linking Jesus’ humanity with Adam, a connection is made by which He is able to represent humans to God.

Jesus had to be a legitimate member of David’s physical line which Paul taught in Rom. 1.3: Concerning His son having been born from the seed of David according to the flesh (literal translation). 2Sam.7.12-13 promises David a descendent from his body (mim me e ka) who would build His house/church (Mt. 16.18) and whose kingdom would last forever: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (NIV).

David’s physical contribution was that Mary was his descendent as well as Joseph. Luke’s genealogy is Mary’s. After all, God fulfilled His promise to David despite traditional Jewish patriological reckoning. Also, to bolster my contention, consider Zelophehad’s daughters keeping their father’s lineage intact though they had no brothers to continue their father’s name: Why should the name of our father be lost from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among the relatives of our father. So Moses brought their case before the Lord. The Lord said to Moses: “The daughters of Zelophehad have a valid claim. You must indeed give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s relatives, and you must transfer the inheritance of their father to them. (Num. 27.4-7 NET). Although Zelophehad’s daughters’ issue was land inheritance for themselves, notice the preserving of their father’s name in vs. 4. A female in the biblical Jewish reckoning has the right of inheritance and therefore the promise to David of the Messiah from his line is fulfilled through Mary, David’s descendent.

Who is Neri in Lk. 3.27?

Clearly, Shealtiel was Jeconiah’s (Jehoiachin) first born son (Mt. 1.12). However, Luke’s version has Neri as the parent of Shealtiel. My proposal for “Shealtiel son of Neri” is that Mary, who gave Luke this account, didn’t want to name Jehoiachin who was the signet ring which God pulled off of His hand (Jer. 22.24). After all, Mary had good reason not to name him since: This is what the Lord says: “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah (Jer. 22.30 NIV). Therefore, Mary names Jehoiachin’s wife Neri, whose name is unrecorded in scripture, but, possibly, Mary knew this woman’s name since she would have been intimately acquainted with her own heritage.

Praising God is not a Zero-Sum Game

What Glory Awaits: Journeying with C. S. Lewis and John Piper

What Glory Awaits: Journeying with C. S. Lewis and John Piper

The Westminster Catechism’s first question and answer has been developed by John Piper in his most famous book Desiring God. This article primarily examines C.S. Lewis’ work Weight of Glory. The author of this article rightly sees that our deepest desire for human praise finds satisfaction from what God supplies in glory. This is the great Christian Hope. Even though the greatest is love, we additionally need faith and hope since those are the qualities which now remain, or dwell (menay) among God’s people (1Cor. 13.13).

Clowney’s Triangle of Typology — Frame-Poythress.org

Vern S. Poythress, “Edmund P. Clowney’s Triangle of Typology in Preaching and Biblical Theology” (PDF), Originally published in Unio cum Christo 7/2 (Oct., 2021) 231-238. Used with permission.

Clowney’s Triangle of Typology — Frame-Poythress.org

Top 10 Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2021 — BiblePlaces.com

When I was first studying biblical archaeology and history, we would learn about the latest discoveries every few months from the newest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review or from The Jerusalem Post, if we scanned its printed pages carefully, or from reports from our professors. Journal articles were also helpful, when we had some extra…

Top 10 Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2021 — BiblePlaces.com

Melchizedek the Divine

It’s probably cool and in fashion in the theological scholarly clique to regard Melchizedek as a true believing Jebusite. By the way, while I highly regard scholarship (some is necessary for sure, though some effective ministers have done without it and learned from God teaching them from the bible-think of Gypsy Smith), in my observation the highest touted scholars have not been whom God has used most effectively. The promised knowledge of God through the Spirit in the New Covenant (1Jn. 2.20,27) breaks any theological monopoly. However, I believe, its best to have some good training in theology and languages providing that God is directing the instruction. I’ve seen too many supposedly Christians embark into scholarship in their own flesh with their self-inspired motive to make an impact for God. I’m not saying a person should be mystically seeking guidance but, instead walk with God and regard good counsel from seasoned mentors.

My theology professor from over 40 years prior held the view that Melchizedek was human, and still today, many scholars think a plethora of ancient true believers existed who worshipped an El found in ancient literature. Everyone knows about God since He has revealed himself to all (Rom. 1.18-25). The Athenians even worshipped a god they didn’t know just to be sure to cover all religious bases (Acts 17.22-23). Just because folks engage in God talk doesn’t mean they actually know Him.

The Dead Sea Scroll 11Q13 (Melchizedek Scroll-easily found online) written about 100 BCE speaks of Melchizedek as Elohim. Therefore the Essenes, priests who rejected the then current corrupt Jewish Priesthood, foresaw a future Melchizedek whom they expected to arrive soon. This post will seek to show that Melchizedek was not a Jebusite believer but an important Christophany and central feature of the book of Hebrews.

When Abraham met Melchizedek in the Valley of the Kings in Gen. 14.17-20, the city’s name (if there even was a city in the vicinity) was Jebus and not Jerusalem. Many years later in both Joshua and Judges Jebus is mentioned numerous times (Jos. 15.8, 63, 18.16, 28, Judg. 19.10,11, 14). It was not until the time of David that the city was taken from the Jebusites (1Chron. 11.4-5). Therefore, Melchizedek was king over another “Salem,” namely, a heavenly one.

Though the heavenly sphere is mostly unknowable to earthly dwellers (see 2Cor. 12.4), the bible consistently indicates a heavenly abode of God which includes certain features. God showed Moses a sketch of the temple in heaven (Ex. 25.40). There exists a heavenly city with foundations which God built (Heb. 11.10). Paul maintained that Christians were citizens of heaven (Phil. 3.20). Also, there is a “Jerusalem above” that is a mother to Christians in contrast to the Roman enslaved Jerusalem of Paul’s day (Gal. 4.26).

Additionally, Melchizedek could not have been another human which God had chosen since Dt. 7.6-7 indicates that God’s program was to chose one man through whom the Messiah would come: For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples (NIV). If Melchizedek was a priest to another people of God Amos 3.2 hardly makes any sense: You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins (NIV). Also, that Abraham inherited the land was the settled view of the Israelites: Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession’ (Ez. 33.24 NIV). Why didn’t Melchizedek or his flock join in the inheritance if they were truly godly folks in the Promised Land? While other godly people existed prior to Abraham such as Job; when God called Abram, he had to leave his family’s idolatry: Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods (Josh. 24.2 NIV). For all these reasons, Melchizedek was a preincarnate manifestation of the Eternal Son just as the numerous other O.T. Theophanies.

Probably the strongest verse to prove the point is Heb. 7.3: without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever (NIV). Every human has both a mother and father, but not Melchizedek. Further, it cannot mean he was an orphan since that fact would hardly be unique for the author of Hebrews to mention as part of his argument. Neither did he argue for Melchizedek’s exceptional status if “without beginning of days or end of life” meant that those facts were not recorded. Many could claim the same. The clause “made like” or “resembling” refer to the manifestation of the figure. This meeting was in the King’s Valley of the future Israelite Jerusalem where He would one day function as a priest for all humanity. Notice how He brought out bread and wine like Jesus would many years hence. Neither is an animal sacrifice mentioned since one day He would be the ultimate offering which the animal victims only suggest.

Also, how could the author of Hebrews claim with any credibility that Melchizedek “remains a priest forever” if he were not referring to the Eternal Son who both appeared as the Theophany and later would “become flesh?” It makes no sense to describe a human figure, let alone a foreign priest, in such exalted language. The only reasonable solution of Melchizedek’s reference in Hebrews is to regard Him as the preincarnate Divine Son.

Where Are All the Heretical Bishops in the Second Century? — Canon Fodder

I’ve noticed that Michael Bird has recently posted an article on heresy and orthodoxy in early Christianity. From what I can tell (I can’t see the entire article because it’s behind the paywall), he is pushing back against the popular narrative, originally suggested by Walter Bauer in his 1934 book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest…

Where Are All the Heretical Bishops in the Second Century? — Canon Fodder

Here is good evidence for general Christian orthodoxy just after the Apostolic Era. I am about half way through Kruger’s book Christianity at the Crossroads which is giving me a better understanding of Church History. In my training, now many years removed, I specialized in languages and even more so theology. Church history, while I had the seminary requirements, I never regarded as crucial since Church History is not the same as the biblical History of Israel. Anyway, I appreciate Kruger’s book countering Bauer’s errors while understanding more about Christianity’s heritage.

Faith and Infant Baptism in Augustine and Aquinas — PeterGoeman.com

The historical evidence shows that infant baptism was regularly practiced from at least the 3rd or 4th century until the present day. One of the topics of discussion in the early church was how baptism could be an expression of faith when infants are not capable of expressing their own faith. Of particular importance in…

Faith and Infant Baptism in Augustine and Aquinas — PeterGoeman.com

John 1.17-Why Wasn’t Grace and Truth Communicated in the Mosaic Covenant?

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

The primary purpose of Moses’ Law was to reveal sin and guilt and thus, was not gracious (Rom. 7.7). The aspect of truth to which John refers in our verse speaks to the fulfillment of all the mere figures presented in Moses’ sacrificial system.

Previously in 1.14, John describes how the preexisting logos took upon Himself flesh and dwelt among us. The word “dwelt” is eskaynosin which some translators have rendered “tabernacled.” The root is “tent” and refers to residing in this type of structure. This hearkens back to the Jewish Tabernacle first established during the “wilderness wanderings.” Therefore, John identifies Jesus’ 1st century incarnation as an true ideal contra to how God dwelt in the midst of Israel during the time of Moses. What was only figurative in the wilderness, Jesus now fulfills in reality and truth.

Also, Jesus was the better Jewish High Priest who ministered in heaven for us instead of in the copy and shadow on earth (Heb. 8.4-5). Jesus established the New Covenant in which a relationship is formed (Jn. 1.12-13) whereas the Mosaic one made nothing perfect (Heb. 8.7-12). The variety of sacrifices enumerated by Moses greatly expanded the ancient animal sacrifices first pictured in the Garden of Eden (when God clothed the naked pair with animal skins). Most of the Mosaic offerings foretold some aspect fulfilled by Christ’s sacrifice and thus, His was the ultimate and true offering (Heb. 10.8-10).

Temporal Christian Authority

Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” (Mt. 16.17-19 WEB)

“If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven. Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. (Mt. 18.15-20 WEB)

And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” (Jn. 20. 22-23 NET)

Don’t receive an accusation against an elder, except at the word of two or three witnesses. (1Tim. 5.19 WEB)

But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor. 6.8-10 ESV)

By its very nature, the terms “Protestant” and “Reformed” hold the idea of a prior adherence to something or someone. These terms indicate that now they have broken off from a group or position. The main reason why Protestants desire to connect with Western Roman Catholicism is they believe that a sort of institutional continuity is needed and taught in the text of Matthew 16. 18-19 above. They fail to properly deal with vs. 17 which, I hope to show, is crucial for understanding what Jesus is building. Western Catholicism (but not the Eastern Orthodox), maintain their belief that Christ is building His church on Peter as an authoritative institutional representative of Himself. He is given these “keys” after all and what he binds and looses, is the reflection of heaven’s reality. These verses have been repeated, along with this accompanying idea of the position of “pope” and its authority so many times that it has become fixed in peoples heart and minds as true. However, this interpretation is faulty because vs. 17 indicates that it is not the person of Peter that the church is built. Also, the vague idea of loosing and binding is more fully explicated later in Matthew’s Gospel showing that all Christians, especially those standing together in Christ, possess this authority.

What is Jesus Building?

I should state that in the past, and certainly in the future, I will self-identify both as Protestant and Reformed. This designation, however is qualified. I don’t swallow everything hook, line, and sinker. Neither will I give up reading the great expositors of scripture and thought either from the Protestants or Catholic claimants. We all have aberrant views since we are always learning and growing spiritually in Christ, or should be.

Western Catholicism maintains that in Mt. 16.18 the antecedent for “rock” (Petra) is the petros (Peter) which Jesus previously calls Simon Bar-Jonah. Petra and petros do not have the same meaning and in that case Jesus would be changing Simon’s name twice if Jesus wants to indicate He will build on the person of the formerly named Simon Bar-Jonah. All scholars agree there is a word play going on but what is it? Perhaps Simon Peter’s subsequent writing to churches will be able to shed light on this subject.

Although Peter does not use the same term petros in 1 Pet. 2.5 to the addressed in Asia Minor (perhaps lithos more accurately related the idea to these readers), the concept is the same and valid: You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (WEB). This idea carries over from the previous verse which calls Christ “a living stone” who now builds these Christians (also as living stones) into a spiritual house (or, perhaps, dynasty). Paul also speaks of this metaphorical idea of a spiritual House: And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Eph. 2.22 NIV).

Jesus, prior to the start of His ministry at about age 30 (Lk. 3.23), was a tekton. He was called this in Mk. 6.3 and “son of a tekton” in Mt. 13.55. Though many have translated this term “carpenter,” it may also, or more preferably, be translated “stone mason.” Perhaps he was a contractor or artisan but, according to the types of buildings of 2nd Temple Israel, the typical, if not exclusive type of dwelling was stone houses. Doors and casements would be wood in these houses so there is room for Him to work with this material also. I do not know how much specialization in the build trades existed in Galilee, but, in my estimation, not much. Therefore, when Jesus spoke about “building His church,” an irony presented itself. This probable former stone mason would now be building another type of structure.

The idea in Mt. 16.18 is that Christ is building a spiritual household of living stones of which Peter (petros) is one. For sure Simon Peter is an important stone but he is not the bedrock upon which Jesus is building: built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2.20 NIV). Simon Peter is not even the cornerstone, Christ is. Sure, the disciples whom Jesus chose, to them He will reveal important authoritative truths that sets the foundation for subsequent believers. Peter, nor the rest of the Apostles are the rock (Petra) that Jesus speaks about in Mt. 16.18. The wordplay involving Petra refers back to the previous verse in Matthew (16.17) indicating why Peter was blessed: it was revealed to him (from the Father) that Jesus was the Christ. In other words it was the sovereign work of God choosing stones (now living) with which to build His house. The bedrock (Petra) is divine election of the Father upon which Jesus will now build His church that is indwelt by the Spirit. A plainly spelt out Trinitarian endeavor. What then best describes the concept of what Jesus is building, an organization or a spiritual organism?

To Whom are the Authorized Keys Given?

After this survey of what Christ is building, who are those authorized to possess the keys which Jesus gives? It is clear from the text that Jesus gives these keys to Peter. Those who teach a father (pope) of an institutional church cite the close connection with the keys and that Christ is building on Peter, the supposed, first pope. While Jesus gives the keys to Peter, it is abundantly clear that these keys are not an exclusive gift to him. This truth is seen later in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt. 18. 15-20) where Jesus references the two or three witnesses who gather in His name. These witnesses receive the same binding authority: Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven.

This Kingdom of Heaven authority is given to all Christians, those who are under the New Covenant of the Spirit. Before the Spirit was given formally at Pentecost, Jesus demonstrated to His disciples that it was He who would send the Holy Spirit by giving a foretaste when He breathed on them (Jn. 20. 22-23). This spiration was accompanied with the same authority spoken about previously in Mt.16.18 and 18.18: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

Ultimate temporal ecclesiastic authority resides with Christ’s disciples and not hierarchical officials of an institution. While pastors should be free from undue slanderous charges, mechanisms are in place if two or three witnesses detect serious wrong doing on their part or other Christians (1Tim. 5.19). Of course Christian church leaders shouldn’t have frivolous or imagined complaints foisted on them but only those which are serious and substantial such as the list enumerated in 1Cor. 6. 8-10.

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