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What is an Apostle? Galatians 1:1

What is an Apostle? Galatians 1:1

THEOLOGY BLOG

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

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?

THEOLOGY BLOG

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

Does Philippians 1:6 Teach Eternal Security?

Does Philippians 1:6 Teach Eternal Security?

THEOLOGY BLOG

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

  THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

DOES PHILIPPIANS 1:6 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY?

DOES PHILIPPIANS 1:6 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving and Prayer I thank my God every time I remember you. In every prayer for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:1-6

Philippians 1:6 is frequently misinterpreted as referring to the salvation and eternal security of the individual believer. However, that is not what the text is about. Neither the context nor the words used by Paul in this wonderful text support the idea that a believer’s salvation is eternally secured from the moment they believe. That belief would contradict many other passages of scripture which imply conditional security.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16

Instead, this text is speaking of the financial aid gift which the Philippians sent to the Apostle Paul for the advancement of the gospel. If we begin in Philippians 1:1 we see that Paul and Timothy are writing to the saints in Philippi along with the leaders of the church there. In Philippians 1:1-5 He informs them that whenever he prays for them he does so with joy because of their partnership in the gospel. This aspect of Paul’s words must not be overlooked. In Philippians 4:15-16 he speaks of this in more detail and brings to their memory the fact that in the early days no-one partnered with him in the matter of giving and receiving except the Philippians. Furthermore, Philippians 4:18 implies that they had just sent him another gift. This is what Paul is referencing in Philippians 1:5 when he says that he remembers them with joy because of their partnership with him in the gospel.

 

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now  Philippians 1:4-5

 

Nevertheless, you have done well to share in my affliction. And as you Philippians know, in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church but you partnered with me in the matter of giving and receiving. For even while I was in Thessalonica, you provided for my needs again and again. Not that I am seeking a gift, but I am looking for the fruit that may be credited to your account. I have all I need and more, now that I have received your gifts from Epaphroditus. They are a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. Philippians 4:14-18

With that context in mind, what is the good work Paul is referring to? It’s not salvation, its the giving of the gift to Paul isn’t it? This becomes especially clear to me when I noticed that verses 1-6 are all part of the exact same sentence. That changes the meaning of the passage completely. No longer can the passage be understood as a reference to eternal security. Paul is telling the Philippians that the good work which God began in them, namely their gift of financial aid, will continue to be perfected until Christ returns for his church at his second coming. Think about that, we are still continuing to benefit from that great work God which God began in the hearts of the Philippians saints today, and the church will continue to benifit from that gift until the very day Jesus Christ returns.

Even if you disagree with me on the interpretation of this verse, you still can’t get eternal security from it. This epistle was not written to you personally, it was written to the Philippians. Furthermore, Paul is not making a promise to the Philippians, he is expressing his confidence. He is confident that he who began a good work in them will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ. Even if you take this as a reference to salvation, Paul certainly doesn’t express this confidence to everyone.  In Galatians 5:4 Paul says the opposite to those who ceased trusting in Christ alone and put their trust in works. Both Philippians 1:6 and Galatains 5:4 need to be read in a way that both texts can be harmonised. The only way to accomplish this is by interpreting Philippians 1:6 in the manner I have outlined.

In conclusion, In Philippians 1:6 Paul is in no way teaching eternal security, neither is he making a promise to us or the Philippians. Rather, Paul is expressing his confidence that God will perfect the good work which he began in the hearts of the Philippians saints, namely the gift of financial aid from the Philippians to Paul, until the return of Christ.