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Corporate Prayer | Article Review

Corporate Prayer | Article Review

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THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

MOVING FORWARD ON OUR KNEES: CORPORATE PRAYER IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Grant R. Osborne

Journal Review

MOVING FORWARD ON OUR KNEES: CORPORATE PRAYER IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Grant R. Osborne

Grant Osborn has written a convicting article on the subject of corporate worship in the local church. He laments over the lack of prayer in modern churches and he rightly argues there is a desperate need for corporate prayer in the modern church.[1] He begins his article by arguing that in second temple Judaism, the temple was not only a place of sacrifice, it was also a place of worship and prayer.

Grant produces a number of biblical passages which serve as examples of corporate worship in New Testament times. For instance, when Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, went into the temple to burn incense, there was a congregation of people outside waiting in corporate prayer. He points out that the burning of incense was symbolic of the people’s prayers and the angelic visitation appears to have been an answer to those prayers.[2] Additionally, Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane for corporate prayer. He encouraged them to pray in order to overcome temptation.[3] The instruction of Jesus underscores the disciples need to pray for strength in order to resist temptation, how much more should we pray so we do not fall into temptation. 

Grant also highlights Jesus reference to the Temple as His Father’s house, indicating that God’s presence was still in the temple.[4] Interestingly, when Jesus drove the animals out from the temple courts he said, “My Father’s house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”. The outer courts were specifically reserved for Gentiles to worship God as they were not permitted beyond this point. Even though sacrifices were necessary for Temple worship, it seems as though Jesus was more concerned about Gentiles coming together for prayer, then he was about the selling of sacrifices[5].

Grant also argues that persecution often causes the church to turn to God in prayer. When Herod imprisoned Peter, with the intention of executing, it resulted in an all-night corporate prayer meeting at Mary’s house.[6] As Grant points out, the longest prayer in the Book of Acts was a prayer offered to God after an instance when Peter and John were released from prison and warned not to preach in the name of Jesus.[7] This prayer resulted in the place being shaken and the people receiving a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.[8] Perhaps the lack of persecution and the comforts of this world are the cause of our present complacency.[9]

There is no doubt that there is a lack of corporate prayer in modern churches. In the midst of his article, Grant says prayer focused churches are churches that make a difference.[10] If this is true, then it says a lot about churches that have an appearance of success but are not prayer focused. Where does their success come from? If it does not come from prayer, it does not come from the Lord. If it does not come from the Lord, then it can only come from human effort and achievement. 

 

[1] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, JETS 53/2 (2010), 267.

[2] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, 248.

[3] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, 251.

[4] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, 243.

[5] Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentary,

 (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, rev. ed. 2017), Chap. 2, Kindle Ed.

[6] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, 255.

[7] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, 256.

[8] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, 256.

[9] Tertullian, The Apology, Beloved Publishing (2014), 83.

[10] Grant R Osborne, Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in The New Testament, 257.

 

 

Atonement as Violence: Is God Blood Thirsty?

Atonement as Violence: Is God Blood Thirsty?

THEOLOGY BLOG

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

ATONEMENT AS VIOLENCE

IS GOD BLOOD THIRSTY?

ATONEMENT AS VIOLENCE

IS GOD BLOOD THIRSTY?

ATONEMENT AS VIOLENCE

The penal substitution view of atonement is currently the subject of debate within the evangelical church, particularly in the UK.[1] Since Christianity is a religion of peace, love and forgiveness, critics of the penal substitution view have argued that it is inconsistent with God’s love. It is argued that if God tells us to love our enemies, then shouldn’t God also love His enemies? If God demands that we do not seek vengeance, then why does God require retributive justice Himself?[2] Furthermore, critics have looked at the penal substitution theory of atonement as the act of a blood thirsty and vengeful God, and even worse, cosmic child abuse[3]

While it is certainly true that Christians are to seek peace and to forgive our enemies, this is because the Bible teaches us that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Christians are not permitted to seek out their own retributive justice when evil is inflicted upon them.[4] However, the Bible does not rule out the authority of the civil government to punish criminals and maintain public order in society.[5] The civil justice system is an institution of God, created to punish evil and protect the life and property of those living in that society.[6]

The denial of divine retributive justice is at odds with divinely revealed scripture. When Israel was attacked by the Amalekites on the way out of Egypt, God specifically ordered the antihalation of the entire Amalekite population and stated that he wanted Amalek’s name removed from face of the earth.[7] Likewise, God commanded that the Canaanites were to be exterminated from the land of Canaan so that they would not corrupt the nation of Israel when they settled in the land.[8]

If God did not punish sin, then it would encourage lawlessness. The sinner would feel emboldened to sin and the victims would feel a sense of insecurity, abandonment and lack of protection from God.[9] If God truly loves people, he will punish transgression and maintain order in the cosmos. This promotes the justice and holiness of God and ensures security and stability for all people.

God is slow to anger and uses divine punishment as a last resort after long periods of perpetual disobedience. When the Torah was given, God stated that eventually Israel as a nation would be exiled from the land and from the blessings of God because of their persistent law breaking and disobedience. Even after the Babylonian exile and the subsequent return to the land, Israel persisted in unrepentant sin.[10] The greatest problem for humanity is that we all have sinned and are under divine condemnation.

When Jesus took up the cross and laid his life down for His people, he was taking the very curse of the law which was due to the people of Israel. He was exiled from the land of the living and cut off from the blessings promised to Israel.[11] From the perspective of penal substitution theorists, the cross was an act of divine love. Jesus was not an unwilling substitute unjustly bearing the sins of others. He willingly offered himself as a substitute knowing he could conquer death at His resurrection.[12]

 

 

[1] Williams, Garry J. “Penal Substitution: A Response to Recent Criticisms.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50, no. 1 (03, 2007): 71. https://search.proquest.com/docview/211187489?accountid=35347

[2] Williams, Garry J. “Penal Substitution: A Response to Recent Criticisms.”, 72; Boersma, Hans, Penal substitution and the possibility of unconditional hospitality. Scottish Journal of Theology 57 (2004): 80, 91; Boersma, Hans. “Eschatological Justice and the Cross: Violence and Penal Substitution.” Theology Today 60, no. 2 (07, 2003): 187.

https://search.proquest.com/docview/222305386?accountid=35347 (accessed February 27, 2020).

[3] J Denny Weaver, “Violence in Christian theology”, Cross Currents Summer 51, 2 (2001): 153, 155; Boersma, Hans, Penal substitution and the possibility of unconditional hospitality, 82; Boersma, Hans. “Eschatological Justice and the Cross: Violence and Penal Substitution.” Theology Today 60, no. 2 (2003): 187. https://search.proquest.com/docview/208060493?accountid=35347.

[4] Boersma, Hans. “Eschatological Justice and the Cross: Violence and Penal Substitution.”, 188.

[5] Williams, Garry J. “Penal Substitution: A Response to Recent Criticisms. 73. https://search.proquest.com/docview/211187489?accountid=35347

[6] Boersma, Hans, Penal substitution and the possibility of unconditional hospitality, 80; Boersma, Hans. “Eschatological Justice and the Cross: Violence and Penal Substitution.”, 188, 190. 

[7] Walter Kaiser, Hard Saying of the Bible, (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove 1992) 206-207; Deuteronomy 25:17-18.

[8] Walter Kaiser, Hard Saying of the Bible, 206-207.

[9] Boersma, Hans. “Eschatological Justice and the Cross: Violence and Penal Substitution.”, 190, 191.

[10] Williams, Garry J. “Penal Substitution: A Response to Recent Criticisms.”, 92-93.

[11] Williams, Garry J. “Penal Substitution: A Response to Recent Criticisms.”, 92-93; Boersma, Hans. “Eschatological Justice and the Cross: Violence and Penal Substitution.”, 194.

[12] NIV Zondervan Study Bible, General Editor DA Carson, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2682 (Christopher W. Morgan, Wrath).

 

Christology In John’s Gospel: Christ The Eternal Word of God

Christology In John’s Gospel: Christ The Eternal Word of God

THEOLOGY BLOG

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

CHRISTOLOGY IN JOHN’S GOSPEL

CHRIST THE ETERNAL WORD

CHRISTOLOGY IN JOHN’S GOSPEL

CHRIST THE ETERNAL WORD

JOHN’S CHRISTOLOGY

The Gospel of Mark begins with Jesus earthly Ministry, the Gospel of Matthew emphasises Jesus Davidic lineage and begins with His genealogy, and the Gospel of Luke focuses on Jesus humanity and details his genealogy all the way back to Adam. However, John’s Christology is unique in that he emphasises Christ’s pre-existence before His earthly life and even before the world began.[1] In John 6:51 Jesus says that He is the bread that came down from heaven, in John 6:62 Jesus says His disciples will see Him ascend to where he was before, in John 7:33 Jesus says He will return to the one who send him, in John 17:5 Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him with the Glory he shared with Him before the world began and in Revelation 1:17 Jesus says He is the first and the last.[2]

John’s Gospel begins by revealing Jesus as the Word of God Who was in the beginning with God when the world was first created. In fact, John sees Jesus as the very Word that created the universe in Genesis 1:1-26.[3]  The idea that the Word of God is a distinct person with relational qualities is not unique to John’s Gospel, it is also found throughout the Aramaic Targums.[4] The Aramaic Targums were approved for public reading in synagogues by the ancient Rabbis because in many areas Jews spoke Aramaic and did not understand Hebrew. In Genesis 3:8 the Aramaic Targums state that Adam and Eve heard “the Word of the LORD God walking in the midst of the garden”. The ancient rabbis added “Word (Memra)” because they could not accept the idea that Yahweh Himself was walking in the garden.[5]Interestingly, in Genesis 28:20-21 the Aramaic Targums have Jacob saying, “the Word of the LORD will be my God” and in Deuteronomy 4:7 the Targum says, “the Word of Yahweh sits upon His throne high and lifted up and hears our prayer whenever we pray before Him and make our petitions”.[6]  

John’s Gospel is also unique in that Jesus specifically applies the divine name “I AM” to himself on a number of occasions. When God revealed His name to Moses in Exodus 3:14 He told Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM” has sent me (Moses) to you”.[7] In Isaiah 43:9-10, God says to Israel that He alone reveals the future so that they may know and believe that “I AM”.[8] In John 8:58 Jesus says to the Jews that before Abraham was “I AM”, and in John 13:19 Jesus, while speaking to His disciples, says, “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am”.[9] Through these “I AM” sayings, John is making it plain to his audience that Jesus specifically claimed the divine name for Himself. What is particularly interesting is that Jesus seems to draw upon both Isaiah 43:9-10 and Exodus 3:14 when he says that He is telling His disciples what will happen in the future so that they may that “I AM who I AM”.[10] John wants his readers to see Jesus as nothing less than the eternal, uncreated God of the universe. 

John also presents Jesus as the “Eternal life”. In 1 John 1:1-2 the Apostle John tells us that they proclaimed, “the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us”. In 1 John 5:12 it says that “whoever has the Son has life, and whoever doesn’t have the Son has not life”.[11] We naturally tend to think of eternal life as living forever. But even people in hell live forever. Life and death, from a biblical perspective, are not straightforward terms. Death is separation from God. When Adam was commanded not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he was told that on the day he eats from it he would surly die. However, Adam did not die physically, he was removed from the Garden of Eden and from God’s favourable presence. When the prodigal son returned to his father, his father stated that his son was dead but now is alive. What’s fascinating is that in John 17:4, Jesus defined eternal life as knowing the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.[12] Eternal life is being reconciled to God through knowing the person of Jesus Christ. 

Some have argued that Jesus explicitly denied deity in John’s Gospel. For example, in John 14:28 Jesus said, “the Father is greater the I”, and in John 5:19 He says, “the Son can do nothing by himself”. However, these passages can be understood in light of the fact that although Jesus is presented as being equal to the Father in terms of His divine essence, John nevertheless presents Jesus as being subordinate to the Father in terms of His role in creation and redemption.[13] John portrays Jesus as the Son of God sent by the Father.[14] The Son is a servant whose teaching is not his own and who does nothing on his own authority. Jesus only does what he sees the father doing and only speaks what the Father tells him to speak.[15] This implies that the Son is functionally subordinate to the Father.[16] 

In the same way that John introduces Jesus as the pre-existent Word of God, he also introduces Jesus as the sacrificial lamb of God. For John, Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and the ultimate fulfilment of the Jewish Passover.[17] John wants his audience to view Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of Israel and the Passover lamb who brings about Israel’s deliverance and salvation from the bondage of sin.[18]  Interestingly, John presents Jesus as being sent not merely for the Jews but for the entire world.[19] Jesus sacrifice is not just for those who would ultimately receive Him, it is also for those who reject Him.[20] Christ was sent to save the whole world without distinction. For John, the benefits of the atonement are appropriated by faith in the work of Christ on the cross.

In summary, John sees Jesus as the eternal, uncreated Word of God who was sent by the Father to do and to teach what the Father gave Him to say and do. John’s view of Christ as the Word of God is steeped in Jewish thought as revealed in the Jewish Targums. Although Jesus is equal with the Father in terms of the Divine essence, He is nonetheless subordinate to the Father in terms of His role. The redemption and salvation of Jesus is not for the Jews only, neither is it only for those who would ultimately receive Him. Jesus was sent for the salvation of all mankind.  

 

[1] Van der Merwe, Dirk. “Divine Fellowship in the Gospel of John: A Trinitarian Spirituality.” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 75, no. 1 (2019), 2. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2315011085?accountid=35347; David Pawson, Come with me through the Gospel of John, Anchor Recordings, Kennington, Ashford (2012), Kindle Edition, 22, 31-32.

[2] Van der Merwe, Dirk. “Divine Fellowship in the Gospel of John: A Trinitarian Spirituality.”, 9; Van der Merwe, Dirk G. “The Divinity of Jesus in the Gospel of John: The ‘lived Experiences’ it Fostered when the Text was Read.” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 75, no. 1 (2019), 3-4. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5411. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2315011202?accountid=35347.

[3] Matera, Frank J. “Christ in the Theologies of Paul and John: A Study in the Diverse Unity of New Testament Theology,” Theological Studies 67, no. 2 (06, 2006): 239, https://search.proquest.com/docview/212709936?accountid=35347; Dr Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel. Jewish Studies for Christians (Tel Aviv), 2015, 2, Kindle Version; Van der Merwe, Dirk. “Divine Fellowship in the Gospel of John: A Trinitarian Spirituality.” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 75, no. 1 (2019), 2. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2315011085?accountid=35347

[4] Dr Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 2, Theological Objections, Baker Books, Grand Rapids Michigan, eBook Edition (2011), 18-21; Dr Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel. Jewish Studies for Christians (Tel Aviv), 2015, 2, Kindle Version.

[5] Dr Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 2, Theological Objections, 19.

[6] Dr Michael Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 2, Theological Objections, 20-21.

[7] RC Sproul, John: An Expositional Commentary, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2009), Kindle Edition, 174; David Pawson, Come with me through the Gospel of John, Anchor Recordings, Kennington, Ashford (2012), Kindle Edition, 22, 31-32; DA Carson, The Gospel According to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)), Kindle Edition, Comments on John 13:19.

[8] DA Carson, The Gospel According to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)), Kindle Edition, Comments on John 13:19.

[9] RC Sproul, John: An Expositional Commentary, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2009), Kindle Edition, 190;

[10] DA Carson, The Gospel According to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)), Kindle Edition, Comments on John 13:19.

[11] Robert H. Gundry, Commentary of First, Second and Third John, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan, (2010), Kindle Edition, Comments on 1 John 1:1-4, 5:11-13.

[12] DA Carson, The Gospel According to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)), Kindle Edition, Comments on John 17:4.

[13] RC Sproul, John: An Expositional Commentary, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2009), Kindle Edition, 100-101; Van der Merwe, Dirk G. “The Divinity of Jesus in the Gospel of John: The ‘lived Experiences’ it Fostered when the Text was Read.” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 75, no. 1 (2019). https://search.proquest.com/docview/2315011202?accountid=35347.

[14] Matera, Frank J. “Christ in the Theologies of Paul and John: A Study in the Diverse Unity of New Testament Theology,” Theological Studies 67, no. 2 (06, 2006): 248. https://search.proquest.com/docview/212709936?accountid=35347.

[15] Paul N. Anderson, The Having-Sent-Me Father: Aspects of Agency, Encounter, and Irony in the Johannine Father-Son Relationship, 35; RC Sproul, John: An Expositional Commentary, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2009), Kindle Edition, 100-101.

[16] DA Carson, The Gospel According to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)), Introduction, Kindle Edition.

[17] Christensen, David Vincent. “Atonement in John: The Death of Jesus in Light of Exodus Typology.” Order No. 10682511, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2017, 27-28. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1973594568?accountid=35347.

[18] Christensen, David Vincent. “Atonement in John: The Death of Jesus in Light of Exodus Typology.” Order No. 10682511, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2017, 29. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1973594568?accountid=35347.

[19] John Goodwin, Redemption Redeemed: A Puritan Defence of Unlimited Atonement, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene Oregon, (2004), 20.

[20] Jerry L. Walls Does God Love Everyone: The Heart of What’s Wrong with Calvinism, Cascade Books, Eugene Oregon, 2016, 16-17.

 

What is an Apostle? Galatians 1:1

What is an Apostle? Galatians 1:1

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THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

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THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

WHAT IS AN APOSTLE?

GALATIANS 1:1

WHAT IS AN APOSTLE?

GALATIANS 1:1

THE MEANING OF APOSTLE

Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father Galatians 1:1

The word “Apostle”, “ap-os’-tol-os” in the Greek, simply means a messenger or someone who is sent. The same word appears in John 13:16 where Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”. So, anyone can be an Apostle in a technical sense. If your church sends you on a mission, you are an Apostle. In fact, in Philippians 2:25 Epaphroditus is called an Apostle. The term doesn’t even require a spirtual application and it was used in secular contexts throughout the Roman world. 

So, whats so special about being an Apostle? The importance of an Apostle isn’t in the person being sent, it’s in the one who is sending them. When the twelve Apostle selected a replacement for Judas, they picked someone who had been with Christ from the beginning. Why? They knew Christ personally, that’s why!

This is why Paul states that he is an Apostle, sent not by men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father. He had met Christ and talked with Him. He had greater authority then the false teachers trying to decieve the churches of Galatia because he was sent by Jesus Himself. In other Epistles he refers to himself as an “Apostle of Christ”, to emphasis that his authority come from Christ, the head of the church. Therefore, no-one today can claim to be an Apostle in the sense of Paul and the twelve Apostles of Christ. 

THE SIGN OF AN APOSTLE

I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.

2 Corinthians 12:12

Today, we live in a time where many people are actually claiming to have experienced a physical visitation from Jesus Christ himself, and on this basis they claim to have Apostolic authority. There are a number of ways we can disprove these claims using the Bible. In 2 Corinthians 12:12 Paul says that the sign of an Apostle is signs, wonders and miracles. Specifically, these signs wonders and miracles must be done in the midst of those to whom the Apostle is being sent. Paul not only claimed to be an Apostle, he demonstrated his Apostolic authority through signs, wonders and miracles. When Moses was sent to Israel, he demonstrated that he had been sent by God by miracles. He turned his staff into a snake before both Israel and Pharaoh. He made his hand leperous, turned the nile into blood, struck Egypt with plagues and parted the Red Sea. Jesus demonstrated His power to forgive by healing the paralytic. Their miracles weren’t done in far away countries where no-one could verify them. They weren’t done on a stage blocked off by security. They were done in the very midst of those to whom they were sent.

THE LIFESTYLE OF AN APOSTLE

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13

When Paul wrote to the Corininthian church, he made it clear the neither he nor the other Apostles were wealthy, or even respected men. They were mocked and ridiculed. They were brutality treated. They were hungry and thirsty and were dressed in rags. Todays self-appointed apostles and pophets are healthy and wealthy. They live stress free lives and live in huge mansions. This was not the case with the Biblical Apostles. Paul even goes as far as to mock the Corinthians for presuming to think that their wealth and elequent speaking proved they were spiritually strong. If you see a man, filthy rich, claiming to be an Apostle, then you can know for sure he is a false teacher. 

Why Isn’t The Book of Enoch in the Bible?

Why Isn’t The Book of Enoch in the Bible?

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THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

JUDE QUOTES ENOCH

JUDE QUOTES ENOCH

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied about them: “Behold, the Lord is coming with myriads of His holy ones to execute judgment on everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of every ungodly act of wickedness and every harsh word spoken against Him by ungodly sinners.” These men are discontented grumblers, following after their own lusts; their mouths spew arrogance; they flatter others for their own advantage. Jude 14-15 

OVERVIEW OF JUDE

The Epistle of Jude was written by Jude the brother of Jesus sometime between 65-80AD.  It is only one chapter long. In verse three, Jude makes it clear he is writing to fellow believers who share the same faith as he does. However, he is warning them false teachers in their midst who promote a kind of grace that allows for the continuation of unrepentant and unrestrained immorality and sin. These false teachers had slipped into the church and began to spread their perverted teachings. They denied the Lordship of Christ.  The mention of Sodom and Gomorrah along with “the error of Balaam” suggests these false teachers were promoting sexual immorality, perhaps even homosexual behaviour.

These false teachers slandered all those who spoke against them, even people in authority and celestial beings. They grumbled against the church leadership and they tried to find fault with others who disagreed with them, while boasting about themselves and flattering those they were trying to deceive in order that they might grow a following of their own. In verse 12 Jude seems to imply that they have gained the influence of a shepherd and that their presence in the church was a blight on the church that needed to be exposed and removed.

Jude concludes by declaring that all glory, power, majesty and authority belongs to the only true God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

THE REFERENCE TO ENOCH

To begin with it’s important to note that Jude not only references the words of Enoch, he also discusses a story about Michael the Arc Angel disputing with the devil over the body of Moses. This story is not found in the Old Testament, rather it is from an apocryphal book called “The Assumption of Moses”. So, just because something is not in the bible, doesn’t mean it is not true. There are other sources of truth other than the Bible.

Jude says Enoch prophesied, which may or may not mean that Enoch was a prophet who spoke by inspiration of God. The bible does not contain every word spoken by God’s prophets under inspiration. For example, Acts 21:9 tells us that a man named Phillip had 4 daughters who prophesied, but we have no record of their prophecies.

However, it is possible to prophecy and not be a prophet of God. For example, in John 11:50 The Jewish High Priest Caiaphas prophesied that Jesus would die for the sins of the people. Caiaphas was an enemy of Christ who wanted to kill Jesus. He was not a prophet. Would we say that Caiaphas spoke by inspiration of God? Perhaps, but we would not take anything else Caiaphas said as inspired, nor would we call it scripture.

Does this mean that Jude endorses the entire book of 1 Enoch? Assuming Enoch was indeed a prophet of God then Jude’s quotation is indeed a genuine prophecy given by inspiration of God. However, Jude does endorse the entire book as being from Enoch. It is not even certain that Jude is quoting from 1 Enoch. It may also be possible that Jude is quoting from some oral source. Either way Jude does not endorse 1 Enoch as a whole, he only affirms the words he cites in his Epistle.

Having said all that, if it is true that biblical authors can speak and write under the inspiration of God, then it is equally true that they can quote ancient texts under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order to pass on truth accurately to us.

So, was Enoch a prophet? Possibly. Was the prophecy of Enoch given by inspiration of God? Most likely. Is the entire Book of 1 Enoch inspired? The Bible doesn’t affirm that, and neither should we. To affirm the inspiration of 1 Enoch is to go beyond what Jude tells us in the Bible.

Does 1 John 2:19 Teach Eternal Security

Does 1 John 2:19 Teach Eternal Security

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THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

DOES 1 JOHN 2:19 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY?

DOES 1 JOHN 2:19 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY?

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.  1 John 2:18-19

This passage has probably been one of the more difficult passages of scripture for me to interpret. Not because of the text itself but because of the way it was presented to me by eternal security advocates. However, upon a proper examination of this text it doesn’t seem to support eternal security at all.

The eternal security argument usually goes some thing like this “but they were never of us; for if they had ever been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us forever: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were never of us“. Notice that I added the words “never”, “ever” and “forever“, because that is what eternal security advocates are claiming that this text is saying. But before we begin to break down these verses, let’s first look at the passage in context.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 1 John 2:18

John is speaking of people he calls “antichrist’s”, this is not talking about all believers. Essentially, these are false teachers who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh. They were gnostics who believed that all flesh was evil and that the spiritual realm was good, and therefore it didn’t matter how they lived because the flesh will always be sinful and it cannot effect the spirit. This is why they were denying that Jesus came in the flesh. So this is not a good passage to use to teach the eternal security of believers, because its not the topic being discussed. It falls into the category or an unclear passage and shouldn’t be used to interpret the clear passages which teach conditional security.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; 1 John 2:19

The passage here says that these false teachers went out from us, that is the fellowship of believers, but they were not of us. It does not say that they were never of us. It simply says that at the time they left us, they were not of us. That’s it. They left us because they were not of us at that point in time. We cannot insert the word “never” before the words “of us”.

For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:19

This next section of the verse continues the flow and says that if they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us, but it still doesn’t add the words “never”, “ever” or “forever”. These words are assumed by eternal security advocates. John is referring to a group of anti-christs who left the company of believers at a particular point in time. He is not speaking of eternal security. Therefore, this passage can be understood as simply saying that if they had been of us, at the time which they departed from us, then they would have continued with us instead of departing from us. This shouldn’t be understood as saying they would have continued with us forever. The word forever is not used and John is referring to an event which took place at a particular point in time. Furthermore, that interpretation would contradict the clear passages which teach that a believer can lose their salvation. A objective reader, not polluted with once saved always saved opinions, would conclude that John is saying no more than this; if they had been believers when they left us then they would have continued with us instead of leaving us. 

The final words of the passage become simple to understand when this interpretation is accepted. These anti-christs went out from us instead of continuing with us so that it would be revealed that at that time they were not of us. We shouldn’t see this passage as an attempt by John to teach eternal security. He isn’t even touching the topic. I accept that these anti-christs may never have been believers. But the the fact that John does not discuss their prior condition nor does he say that anyone of us will continue with us forever, rules out this passage as a proof text for eternal security. 

With this interpretation being a plausible one, we ought then to interpret the vague and unclear passages in light of the clear ones. When we do that we will end up with conditional security rather eternal security. 

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Romans 11:19-21

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away … If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:2, 6