I have been a Christian now for thirty-three years and have watched churches and denominations split over their views of the sabbath, communion and baptism – even to the point of referring to other groups as “legalists” or “Antinomian” (and thus doubting their salvation). The churches split on eschatology is also rampant and most do not understand the link between their bad eschatology which perpetuates the various divisions on the sabbath, communion and baptism. While this article will be exegetical, it’s long term goal will be to bring unity and peace over these four issues (as much as is possible). In the initial stages mediating views serve only to make other sides angry with them, but as time goes on, they demonstrate where various sides are both wrong and right on the various issues or texts involved and bring healing and unity.
Paul in Colossians exhorts the Gentile believers to not be under the “bondage” of the “elements” that the Judaizers were trying to impost upon them such as Old Covenant Sabbath days, food regulations, and proselyte circumcision and baptism (Cols. 1-3). Per Pauline theology, these were simply types and shadows of the Old Covenant Law that had been fulfilled in Christ, were continuing to be fulfilled, and was about to be fulfilled at Christ’s imminent Second Coming. In other word’s they were all fulfilled and being fulfilled in Christ’s New Covenant spiritual salvation. While it may be debated that Jewish believers continued in obeying some aspects of the civil and ceremonial laws prior to its “heaven and earth passing away” in AD 70 (Mt. 5:17-19), Paul is very clear that Gentile believers did not have to be placed under the bondage of such regulations – let alone for justification.
Various Kinds of Old Covenant Sabbaths
Under the Old Covenant there was the seventh day sabbath, a sabbath for the land to be implemented every seven years and then every forty-nine years as well as sabbaths connected to new moons and various feasts of Israel (Ex. 31:13; Lev. 16:29-31; Lev. 19:3; Lev. 23-26).
Did the Church Worship on Saturday (the seventh day of the week) or Sunday (the first day of the week) – and did Sunday Take the Place of a Literal Sabbath to be Obeyed Today?
The early Church met on both Saturday and Sundays.
For example, it was Paul and the Apostle’s “custom” to meet with the Jews on Saturday (the Jewish sabbath) in their synagogues because this is when they gathered to discuss theology – and thus a great opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them (Acts 13:14-16, 44; Acts 15:21; Acts 16:13; Acts 17:2; Acts 18:4).
Paul was not preaching in the OT temple on the Jewish Sabbath, but rather in the synagogues which began in the Babylonian captivity. This was brought about through the traditions of the Rabbi’s and was not a part of the OT law. But due to Paul being a Jew, he very well may have obeyed the Sabbath before the entire Old Covenant system passed away in AD 70 (Mt. 5:17-19). Either way, there is no exegetical support that Gentile Christians were to obey the Sabbath before or after AD 70.
The early Church also met from house to house on the first day of the week (Sundays) because this was the day Christ rose from the dead. On this day they broke bread (had a potluck meal or “love feast”), preached the Word, prayed, fellowshipped and gathered financial support for the poor and needs of those in other churches (John 20:19; Luke 24:1-2, 21; Acts 2:44-46; 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2, 20; 2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 1:12; Rms. 16:16; 1 Thess. 5:26). This seems only logical since it was on a Sunday that Christ rose, preached how He fulfilled the Law and Prophets, had a meal with the disciples, commissioned them to preach the gospel, and the day they received some aspect of the Spirit (Lk. 24:27; John 20:20-23).
Paul is very clear in that no man was to judge Gentile Christians (by the rituals of the Law and their traditions they built around it) in “respect of an holyday, or of the new moon (first day of the month festival) or of the Sabbath days” (Cols. 1:16).
Eschatology and Sabbath Rest in the New Covenant
The Seventy Sevens Promised Sabbath Rest (Daniel 9:24-27)
When Israel disobeyed the covenant (and disobeying the sabbath rests for the land and the poor) it is said, “The land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its Sabbaths while it is made desolate without them.” (Lev. 26:43). In Second Chronicles we read, “All the days of its desolation, it kept Sabbath to fulfill Sabbath to fulfill seventy years” (2 Chron. 36:21 NSAB). As those 70 years of captivity were ending and the land had received its Sabbath rest, Daniel prays for his people and is given a prophetic time explaining Israel’s imminent deliverance from the Babylonian captivity and yet at the same time, encompassing her coming Messiah within a period of 70 sevens in which there would be a greater rest and restoration for Israel.
The Anointed/Prince/Ruler/Messiah Jesus is the anti-type of (or the new) Cyrus delivering Israel from her bondage of sin and raising her from the graves of sin-death. And this partial restoration back into the land typified through Nehemiah and Ezra pointed to an anti-typical eschatological gathering “in Christ” at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Matt. 13:39-43, 49; 24:30-31—25:31-46).
Typological Considerations – Cyrus a Type of Christ:
The first “anointed” ruler of the seventy sevens prophecy which is dealing with the 49 years (7 x 7) is dealing with the rise of Cyrus and the restoration back into the land which would occur through him – functioning as a type of Christ. The second “anointed” is Messiah/Jesus who would give His New Covenant Zion sabbath rest in the “heavenly land” at His “in a very little while” and would “not be delayed” Second Coming in AD 70 (Heb. 3-4; 9-13:14YLT).
- Both of their births and future rules were threatened at birth. Astyages, King of Media, the grandfather of Cyrus saw in a dream that Cyrus would threaten his kingdom and thus sought to have him killed at birth. Herod was threatened by Jesus and sought to kill Him at birth.
- Both anointed to set captives free.
- Both called Shepherds.
- Both their rules involved a deliverance of Israel and the Gentiles from the captivity of Babylon.
- Both were born Kings to deliver Israel from 70 years of Babylonian bondage. From birth to parousia, Christ reigned over Israel (roughly for 70 years) calling the believing remnant to “come out” from among “Babylon” which in Revelation is OC Jerusalem where the Lord was slain.
- Both were involved in gathering the Jews and Gentiles from the four corners of the earth and making the kingdoms of the world theirs. Post AD 70 Christ”s reign is an everlasting reign and He continues to bring healing to the nations through the everlasting gospel.
- Cyrus’ predicted coming ended the 70 years of Babylonian captivity; while JESUS’ predicted Second Coming brought an end to the seventy sevens prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27.
- Both were involved in gathering the Jews into the promised land to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple — with Jesus gathering God’s Church into the NC spiritual land, city and temple.
- The Hebrew OT (not the Christian OT) ends with Chronicles – giving a chronology and ending with the praises and accomplishments of Cyrus’ rule, authority and accomplishments. Matthew’s gospel begins (The Christian NT) with a chronology tracing JESUS back to Abraham – through whom the curse of Babel would be eventually reversed (through the seed of Messiah) and was by AD 70. Matthew ends his gospel declaring JESUS as having all rule and authority over the nations.
Our Life Cycle and Israel’s Redemptive Life Cycle Move Within the Cycles of Sevens
*** The four months gap between the 4 Spring Feasts and the 3 Fall Feasts represent the overlapping of the Old Covenant “this age” (that was passing away and would “soon vanish”) and the New Covenant “age about to come” (and did in AD 70)! This prophetic gap of four months was called by the Rabbi’s, “The time for waiting the judgment” and was the period or season by which the 10th eschatological Jubilee cycle Messiah Yeshua was fulfilling all OT prophecy (Lk. 21:20-22/Dan. 9:24-27).
4). Seven Years (7 years) — Israel was to work the land for six years and then let it rest for the seventh year (Lev. 25:1-7).
5). Seven of Sevens of Years (49 years) — The period of time between each celebration of the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-17).
6). Seven of Decades (70 years) — Man’s average life span (Ps. 90:10). After 70 years man’s physical body returns to the dust and he remains in a spiritual body fit for the after life and the spiritual realm. During the 70 years between Christ’s birth to parousia, and the “last days” of Israel, Israel transitioned from a physical Old Covenant body to a New Covenant spiritual body.
7). Seven of Sevens of Decades (490 years) — In Jewish tradition, “422 BC is associated with when the first temple burned 70 Sabbaticals (490 yrs.) before the second temple burned in 70 AD.” (Dr. B. Zuchermann, Professor at Jewish Theological Seminary). The Jews believed Messiah would come to establish the Kingdom during the 10th Jubilee cycle (490 yrs. from first temples destruction). Jesus’ first coming in AD 26 was a jubilee yr. and ushered in the 10th. cycle (Lk. 4/Isa. 61). Christ as High Priest accomplished His atonement process between AD 30 – AD 70 fulfilling Israel’s Second Exodus. (Dan. 9:24-27; Isa. 10-11).
What modern Christian commentators have missed in Daniel 9:24-27 is the context is addressing Daniel being concerned with the prophetic “word” of Jeremiah (Jer. 25 and 29) and the angel is not discussing beginning the 490 years count down beginning with a “decree” of a Gentile king, but rather explaining the “word” of Jeremiah connected with what God had revealed to Daniel in the vision of the four kingdoms in Daniel 7 and earlier in chapter 2. The Jews of the first century interpreted the passage to have the 70 years of Babylonian captivity included within the 490 years prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. The 70 years of captivity are connected to the Babylonian dominance over Israel but there were three more Gentile kingdoms to go before the true and New Covenant restoration under Messiah would be achieved (of which Ezra and Nehemiah only typified). The 70 years of Babylonian captivity times 7 (based on breaking the sabbath laws of Lev. 25-26) = 490 years.
The next major error, is that Yeshua was a Jew and He along with the Jews of the first century would have used the Jewish calendar which dated the destruction of the first temple around 420 BC and not the Gentile calendar of 586 BC. Therefore, first century “Chronomessianism” began the 490 years countdown from the destruction of the first temple to an anticipated arrival of the Messiah before the destruction of the second temple.
Messiah had to arrive at the end of the last and 10th jubilee to accomplish all the soteriological and eschatological events listed in Daniel 9:24-27 and Isaiah 61:1-11. They expected Messiah to arrive right around AD 26 – AND HE DID! But because they missed the spiritual nature of His Kingdom (Lk. 17:20-37), they missed the fulfillment of this powerful prophecy unfold before their very eyes from AD 26 — AD 66-70. Yeshua was only developing what He revealed to Daniel, when he prophesied a spiritual kingdom (Dan. 2 and 7). Not only this, but it was clear from their own prophets that they would not be able to “discern” their own “end” when it would drawn “near” in a particular “last days” “perverse and crooked generation” (Deut. 32/Acts 2:40/1 Pet. 4:5-7). The fact that God would be coming to judge their unbelief and not the Romans was prophesied to be a “strange work” (Isa. 28). Their carnal expectations caused them to miss Isaiah’s “new work” of the spiritual New Covenant. The same carnal and physical expectations of the Messianic Kingdom has also caused my opponent Dr. Michael Brown (and most of the Church today) to have a delayed 2,000 plus years and counting arrival of the kingdom and ignore or re-define NT imminence.
We must enter into the Jewish and historical context when approaching Daniel 9:24-27 as relating to the Sabbatical calendar and the redemption of Israel.
While I would differ on some points with Ben Zion Wacholder, I would agree with the majority of these quotes and that there is sufficient,
*** “…evidence in the biblical, Qumran׳ New Testament, and rabbinic literature for a hitherto unnoticed but apparently at one time widespread belief, that the inevitable coming of the messiah would take place during the season when Israel celebrated the sabbatical year. Sabbatical messianism, or chronomessianism, are appropriate terms for a phenomenon that inspired a search in the scriptural prophecies for the exact date of the redeemer’s coming.
Although most powerful in the apocalyptic tradition, chronomessianism appears as well in the mainstream of Judaism. The locus classicus of chronomessianic doctrine is found in Daniel 9, particularly in the mysterious verses 24-27.” (Ben Zion Wacholder, CHRONOMESSIANISM THE TIMING OF MESSIANIC MOVEMENTS AND THE CALENDAR OF SABBATICAL CYCLES, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, p.1, bold emphasis MJS).
More quotes from his article that I found useful include the following:
*** “The pre-history of chronomessianism may be traced in several biblical pasages. Isa. 23:15-18 predicts that Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, at the end of which time the Lord will again remember the famous city. Jeremiah employs the 70-year period for the length of Judah’s coming exile in Babylonia (Jer. 25: 11-12; 29: 10). The use of the number 70 might reflect the Jewish affinity for the numeral seven and its multiples, evidenced in weekly and yearly sabbaths (shemittah) and the jubilee; alternately, it might have been a common Near Eastern convention for the maximum life expectancy or the normal span of two or three generations. Whatever that number’s function in Jeremiah, Zech. 1:12 regards the number 70 as the precise length of Judah’s exile. By fusing Jeremiah’s “70-year prophecy” with the assertion in Lev. 26:34-35, 43, that during the exile the land would atone for the sabbaths that Israel had violated, 2 Chron. 36:21-23 suggests not only that Jeremiah’s words came true, but explicitly interprets Cyrus’ edict as having reference to them.
Whatever the precise meaning of these passages, the credit for inventing sabbatical messianism belongs to the author of Daniel 9.” (Ibid., pp. 1-2).
*** “The ancient Jewish exegesis of Dan. 9:24-27 differs from modern scholarship in two significant ways. With a few exceptions, all medieval and recent commentators translate the key-word shavu’a (supposedly following the LXX) as heptomad or a “week,י’ seven years. The ancient exegetes, it will be shown, understood shavu’a to refer to the seven- year cycle, the last year of which was “the year of the Lord” (Lev. 25:2), the equivalent of the year of shemittah or release (Deut. 15:1-2), when debts were canceled and land lay fallow. The difference between the two interpretations is that, according to the former, any septennial number will do; according to the latter, however, each seven-year period had its fixed place in a series, precise in beginning and end. A second difference stems from the first. Modern exegetes interpret the passage without reference to Jewish chronology current at that time. The ancients, however, took it for granted that the numbers in 9:24-27 had to harmonize with their calendar of sabbatical cycles. No student would undertake to determine the day of the week without reference to the Jewish or Christian calendar; yet none of the nineteenth or twentieth century commentators, I have concluded, tries to harmonize Daniel with the sabbatical cycles as they were uninterruptedly observed during intertestamental and early rabbinic times.” (Ibid., pp. 2-3).
*** “The recently published fragments from a partially preserved pesher offer a fascinating presentation of sabbatical chronomessianism. Although written in the familiar Qumran style, the pesher applied Daniel’s insight into what evidently was an anthology of biblical passages related to the sabbatical and jubilee themes, but which also included allusions to the reigns of the Righteous (Melchizedek) and Wicked (Melchiresha). After commenting on Lev. 25:13 in regard to the Israelites’ return to their patrimony in the year of דרור (jubilee), the remission of debts in Deut. 15:2, and freedom (דרור) to the captives, proclaimed in Isa. 61:1, llQMelch 3 II continues: “Its interpretation is: that He will proclaim them to be among the children of Heaven and of the inheritance of Melchizedek… For He will restore (their patrimonies?) to them and proclaim freedom to them and make them abandon all of their sins. This shall take place during the sabbatical cycle (shabu’a) of the first jubilee following the nitne] jubilees, and on the Day of Atonement falling at the en[d of the jujbilee, the tenth; To forgive on it (the day of atonement) for all of (the sins) of all the children of [God and] the men of the lot of Melchizedek.” Although its main thought is quite clear, the precise chronology of the pesher remains obscure. There is no doubt, however, that the tenth jubilee alludes to the chronology of Dan. 9:24’s 70 sabbatical cycles, which equals 10 jubilees, when Melchizedek will overcome Me(a)lchiresha°. Any lingering doubt that this is so disappears when one reads in line 18 of our fragment: “And the herald of good tidings (Isa. 52:7a) refers to the messiah, the Spirit concerning whom it was said by Dan[iel (9:25): ‘Until the coming of the messiah, the prince, 7 sabbatical cycles…’” Despite the fact that the pesher utilizes a long list of biblical passages, Dan. 9:24-27 remained the key to the author’s chronology of sabbatical messianism.” (Ibid., pp. 10-11).
*** “Chapters 29-30 of Seder Olam, which may be regarded as a kind of midrash on Dan. 9:24-27, tailor the chronology of the burnings of the First and the Second Temples to make them conform to the author’s view of Daniel’s sabbatical numbers: 10 Jubilees = 70 Sabbatical cycles = 490 years elapsed from Nebuchadnezzar’s to Titus’ conquests of Jerusalem.” (Ibid., p. 11).
*** “It is evident that the observance of the sabbatical years and jubilees during the intertestamental times played a far larger role in the consciousness of Israel than has been hitherto recognized. Immense as were the effects of the calendar of sabbatical cycles on the agricultural and social life of the people, its influence was no less on the formulation of Jewish religious beliefs. Concepts such as creation, history, apocalypse, and eschatology all became enmeshed with the calendar of sabbatical cycles. In the 7th year debts were cancelled, hard labor in the fields stopped; the voice of freedom was heard throughout the land as the steps of the messiah were believed to have become more and more audible.” (Ibid. p. 18).
James M. Hamilton Jr. also comments on this relevant Qumran material in relation to Daniel 9:24-27 and the eschatological jubilee of 490 years:
“This seems to indicate that the reference to ‘Melchizedek’ in this passage should be understood along the lines of the David Psalm 110. In that case, 11Q Rule of Melchizedek bears witness to a hope for a David and Melchizedekian figure who will be anointed by the Spirit, make atonement for his people (the sons of light, i.e. the seed of the woman), thereby freeing them from their sins, proclaiming liberty to the captives, enabling the return from exile, and all these magnificent things take place at the tenth jubilee.” (James M. Hamilton Jr., With the Clouds of Heaven The book of Daniel in Biblical Theology, IVP, p. 162, bold emphasis MJS).
I believe Hamilton is correct to see this material including the Messianic second exodus and Messianic gathering motif as well. He correctly sees the document including the blowing of the trumpet and eschatological gathering of Isaiah 27:13 with Daniel 9:24-27 (Ibid.). This is significant in that both Yeshua and Paul connect the trumpet gathering of Isaiah 27:13 with the Second Coming of Christ and resurrection to take place in their generation and in the lifetime of their contemporaries (Mt. 24:30-34; 1 Thess. 4:15-17). This trumpet eschatological gathering at Christ’s Second Coming in the events of AD 66 – AD 70 is described by Luke as the “days of vengeance” which correlate to Isaiah’s “day of vengeance” during this last eschatological cycle of the Jubilee (Lk. 21:20-32/Isa. 61–63).
Margaret Barker comes the closest to my position because she at least connects this last 10th cycle to the “soon” AD 66 – AD 70 fulfillments to the book of Revelation.
“The seventy weeks of years, 490 years, were ten Jubilees, and the alternative way of reckoning this period was as ten Jubilees. Jewish tradition remembered that the 490 years ended in 68CE; calculation from the second temple Jubilee sequence beginning in 424BCE gives 66CE. A two years discrepancy is hardly significant in the light of what this implies, namely that the tenth Jubilee began in 17/19 CE. In other words, tenth Jubilee fervour and expectations were the context for the ministry of Jesus.” (Margaret Barker, THE TIME IS FULFILLED JESUS AND THE JUBILEE, 1999, http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/JesusAndTheJubilee.pdf).
I did find someone (and I do not share her eschatology obviously) who calculated the jubilee cycle as I had (see #2 in the chart below). Marie Casale writes,
“According to Luke 3:21-23, Jesus began to be about 30 years of age when he was baptized by John the Baptist. Having been born in the fall of 5 BC, he was baptized in the fall of 26 AD at the time of his birthday. Then, according to the scriptures, after his fall baptism, he went immediately into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for forty days. (Mat 4:1-2) He returned to Jerusalem for the first Passover of his ministry, April 9, 27 AD. (Jhn2:13-25) Sometime later Jesus began preaching in Galilee after John the Baptist was put in prison (Mar 1:14-15, Mat 4:12, Luk4:14-15).
The next event after this was that Jesus preaches in Nazareth on the Sabbath day – Luke 4:16-30.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to SET AT LIBERTY them that are bruised, To preach THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
The message in Luke 4:19 has to do with the announcement of ‘the acceptable year of the Lord’. This must be the Sabbath year of 26 AD.
Jesus would have probably announced these words on the Feast of Pentecost in 27 AD. The next holy day, the Day of Trumpets in 27 AD, would begin the second year of his ministry.
The message in Luke 4:18 also has to do with a ‘proclamation of liberty’. Liberty was to be proclaimed as we see here in the commandments of the Sabbath year and of the Jubilee year. (cf. Deut. 15:12-18). (Marie Casale, THE SABBATH JUBILEE YEARS POINT TO THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST).
The “Already and Not Yet” of the Jubilee Sabbath Cycle of Isiah 61-63/Luke 4
Many scholars today use the phrase “the already and not yet” and yet refuse to submit to the inspired time frame of this period of NT eschatology and that the “not yet” was genuinely and literally “near” and would “not be delayed” (i.e. fulfilled in AD 70):
|TOPIC||“THE ALREADY– TRANSFORMING/RISING–||AND||IMMINENT NOT YET”|
|Death||“…the death is being destroyed”(1 Cor. 15:26 WUESTNT)||AND||1 Cor. 15:54-55|
|Body / Resurrection / Image||Ephs. 2:6“…is giving it a body”“…it is being sown…”
“…it is being raised in glory…”
“…it is being raised in power…”
“…it is being sown…”“…it is being raised…”(1 Cor. 15:32, 38, 43)“…becoming conformed…”(Phil. 3:21YLT)“…are being transformed”(2 Cor. 3:18)
|AND||1 Cor. 15:52-53Heb. 11:35-40Acts 24:15YLT“about to be”|
|World /Heavens & Earth / New Creation||“…are being destroyed/dissolved.”(2 Pet. 3:11)“…this world is passing away.”(1 Cor. 7:31)“The world is passing away…”(1 Jn. 2:17)2 Cor. 5:17||AND||2 Pet. 31 Pet. 4:5-7, 17“end of all things is near”1 Jn. 2:18 “last hour”Rev. 21–22:7, 10, 20“at hand” “soon”|
|New Jerusalem||“coming down”(Rev. 3:12 NIV)||AND||Rev. 21:1ff.Heb. 13:14YLT“about to come”|
|Kingdom||“receiving a kingdom”(Heb. 12:28)||AND||Lk. 21:31-32 “this generation” “near”|
|Salvation||“being saved” (2 Cor. 2:15)||AND||Rms. 13:11-12 “at hand” “nearer”|
|Grace||Rms. 5:2||AND||1 Pet. 1:13|
|Forgiveness of sin||1 Jn. 2:12||AND||Rms. 11:25-27Heb. 9–10:37|
|Righteousness / Justification||Jms. 5:16Rms. 3-4; 8:30||AND||Gals. 5:5YLTRms. 4:23-24YLT“about to”|
|Inheritance||Ephs. 1:11||AND||Cols. 3:23-24|
|Sanctification||1 Cor. 6:11||AND||1 Thess. 5:23|
|Adoption / Redemption||Gal. 4:4-6Ephs. 1:7||AND||Rms. 8:18-23YLT “about to be”Lk. 21:28-32 “this generation” “near”|
|Glorification||Rms. 8:30||AND||Rms. 8:18 YLT“about to be revealed”|
|Eternal life||1 Jn. 5:13||AND||Mrk. 10:30|
|Enemies||Ephs. 1:21-22||AND||Heb. 10:13-27-37“…about to consume enemies”|
|Old Covenant age / New Covenant age – 40 yrs. Transition||“passing away” “increasing” “about to come” (2 Cor. 3:7-18/Heb. 8:13; Mt. 12:32/Ephs. 1:20YLT||AND||Heb. 8:13 “ready to vanish;”Mt. 13:39-43;Mt. 24:3, 14; “this generation” “near”|
I should briefly address those such as Dr. Michael Heiser whom point out that Yeshua did not quote the “day of vengeance” when he opened up Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:18 — this allegedly proving a 2,000 plus “already and not yet” period or gap.
In Jewish hermeneutics often times a Rabbi would quote just one section of a prophecy and the audience knew the theological context of the entire passage was referenced as well. Dr. Brown hates when Full Preterist’s use this approach but if you ever watch Dr. Brown lecture on Yeshua quoting from Psalm 22, you will see Dr. Brown develop the entire context of the Psalm – which was Yeshua’s desire.
Even for those that discuss Yeshua was only addressing the “already” aspect of fulfilling the Jubilee of Isaiah 61 through His earthly ministry and passion — this does not address the issue that the NT places the “not yet” being fulfilled in the first century “this generation,” “soon,” “quickly,” “at hand,” “about to,” “would not be delayed,” etc… This and the 10th Jubilee cycle had to be fulfilled within 49-50 years from AD 26. In Luke 4:18 Jesus may be focusing on the first half of the last 7 if Daniel 9:24-27; but this does not prove the “not yet” of the last half of the 7 is 2,000 plus years and counting. The last 3.5 years of the 7 was fulfilled between AD 66 – AD 70.
From what I understand, some commentators do claim Jesus’ declaration of the Jubilee of Luke 4:18-21/Isaiah 61 was made in an actual Jubilee year sabbath period, but it is not developed much by them or proven the way I have (and confirmed to me by Marie Casale). If this is accurate and we have a Jubilee sabbath rest year in AD 26/AD 28, then Jesus is in essence saying: “You know the 10th Jubilee of Daniel 9:24-27 that you are expecting as the time of Messiah coming to visit you with salvation and judgment, well, I am Him and the time of this prophetic period being fulfilled is taking place in your hearing and before your very eyes.” The Lord would confirm in (Luke 21:20-22, 27-32; Mt. 24:15-34) that all of the seventy sevens (and thus their “redemption”) would be fulfilled when the “abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel” took place within their contemporary “this generation.” When the Roman armies stepped foot on Israel’s land (known to them to be “a holy place” Mt. 24:15/Lk. 21:20-22) this event (the judgment of Jerusalem) brought the 70 7’s prophecy of Daniel to a perfect fulfillment and fulfilled all OT prophecy (as in Daniel 12:1-7).
Here are some more helpful insights from Barker’s article in not just developing the first part of the 10th. cycle to the earthly ministry of Christ, but the last part of the cycle to the “soon” AD 70 judgment,
*** “The Qumran Melchizedek text (11QMelch), written in the middle of the first century BCE but not necessarily composed at that time, describes the events of the tenth Jubilee14. Only fragments have survived so it is possible that the complete text described the other nine Jubilees also. The text begins by quoting the Jubilee laws in Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15, interpreting them ‘for the last days’. The captives who are to return are people whose teachers have been ‘hidden and kept secret’ and these ‘people of the inheritance of Melchizedek’ will return. There is insufficient text for certainty, but this looks like a group who have been secretly preserving the teachings of the first temple, when there was a Melchizedek priesthood. In the tenth Jubilee they would ‘return’, perhaps to the temple as priests? The liberty of the Jubilee is interpreted as release from iniquities, the beginning of the atonement which will occur on the Day of Atonement at the end of the tenth Jubilee. The return and the release from iniquity were to happen in the first week, the first seven years, of the tenth Jubilee i.e. approximately 19-26 CE. If Jesus was born in 7/6 BCE15 and was baptised when he was about thirty years old (Luke 3.23), he began his ministry during the crucial first ‘week’ of the tenth Jubilee.
11 QMelch alludes many times to the Jubilee oracle in Isaiah 61: ‘… the LORD God has anointed me… to proclaim liberty to the captives (Isa.61.1, ‘proclaim liberty’, deror. being a quotation from Lev.25.10). The coming Melchizedek is to rescue his own people (? the sons of light, but the text is damaged here) from the power of Belial. There was to be a messenger of peace announcing to Zion ‘Your God reigns’, thus fulfilling Isaiah 52.7. The messenger was probably Melchizedek, but again the text is too damaged for certainty. He would be the anointed one prophesied in Daniel 9.25, but described in 11 QMelch as ‘anointed of the Spirit’, a conflation with Isaiah 61.1. The anointed one would instruct in the end times of the world16 and some people (the text is broken here) would establish the covenant, another Day of Atonement theme.
This gives the context for the opening scenes of the gospels. In the first week of the tenth Jubilee Jesus was baptised with the Spirit, which was interpreted as his anointing (Acts 10.38). After his time in the desert he returned to Galilee announcing ‘the time is fulfilled’ i.e. the tenth Jubilee is inaugurated and ‘Melchizedek’ is here, ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent’, because the final Day of Atonement was also at hand at hand, ‘and believe the good news’ of the Jubilee release. Luke’s account of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth shows that he claimed to have inaugurated the final Jubilee; no other interpretation can be put on the claim to have fulfilled that day (Luke 4.21) the Jubilee prophecy in Isaiah 61 which was central to the Melchizedek expectations of the time.17
The first miracle was an exorcism (Mark 1.21-26), setting one of his own people free from the power of Belial. He spoke of a woman bound by Satan and released her (Luke 13.16), of slaves to sin whom the Son could release (John 9.31-38). He forgave sins and illustrated his teaching with a parable of two debtors whose debts were cancelled (Luke 7. 41-48). The healing miracles restored to the community people who would have been excluded as ritually unfit: the disabled, the lepers, a woman who was bleeding. This was the great ingathering of the Jubilee. Jesus spoke of those who would inherit the earth (Mat.5.5) and at the Last Supper, he spoke of the New Covenant and of his blood poured out for the remission of sins (aphesis, the Jubilee word, Mat.26.28).
The Jubilee also brought the Day of Judgement, vividly described in 11QMelch. Melchizedek would take his place in the heavenly assembly and, as described in Psalm 82.1, begin to judge the `elohim, the heavenly beings. This was to be the year of Melchizedek’s favour, a very significant alteration to Isaiah 61.2, which proclaims the Jubilee as the year of the LORD’s favour. Similarly with Psalm 82.1; it is Melchizedek who takes his place in the heavenly assembly, whereas in the original Psalm it is God. The only possible conclusion is that Melchizedek, the heavenly high priest, was the LORD, the God of Israel. In 11 QMelch he has armies and brings the vengeance of divine judgement, and these were expected to appear in the tenth Jubilee. 11 QMelch explains why Jesus is depicted as judge and warrior in the Book of Revelation and why the Book of Revelation is described as ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place’ (Rev.1.1). These were the teachings of Melchizedek, revealing in the tenth Jubilee the ends times of the world. When the Lamb takes his place in the heavenly assembly (Rev.5.6-14 fulfilling Ps.82.1) the judgement begins. The Word of God rides out from heaven, wearing a white robe sprinkled with blood; he is the high priest who has taken the atonement blood into the holy of holies. He rides out with his with his army (Rev.19.11-16) and the judgement follows.
The letter to the Hebrews explained the role of Jesus as the new Melchizedek (Heb.7.11), the one who had attained the priesthood by ascent, being raised up, not by descent from Aaron18. The crucifixion and ascension had been recognised as the enthronement of the Lamb, exactly as described in Hebrews 10.12: ‘When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, there to wait until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet’. The remainder of the tenth Jubilee was the time of waiting until the final battle and victory when the Great High Priest would emerge to complete the Atonement and conclude the Jubilee.” (Ibid.).
*** “The seventh seal [of Revelation] would bring the return of the heavenly high priest to complete the great atonement at the end of the tenth Jubilee which was, by that time, imminent. In August 66CE, the nationalists gained entrance to the temple area and burned all records of debt20, the start of the Jubilee.” (Ibid.).
*** “There is insufficient evidence to say with confidence how closely the Parousia expectations of the early church were bound up with the Jewish nationalism of the first century CE. They had Jubilee expectations in common, but the present form of the gospels invites us to believe that Jesus spiritualised the Jubilee, interpreting release from debt and slavery as forgiveness of sins and release from the power of Satan. This, however, is exactly the interpretation in 11QMelch, which was quite clear about the events of the tenth Jubilee. A spiritual interpretation of Jubilee does not necessarily indicate a separate agenda from the nationalists. Jesus did warn that the blood of the prophets would be required of his generation (Luke 11.50), in other words, that the Day of Judgement would occur within the lifetime of his hearers. This explains the urgency of his words: ‘The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the good news’.” (Ibid.).
*** “The Jubilee was used to measure time in the second temple period even when a literal application of the land laws was no longer possible10. Later tradition divided the history of Israel into Jubilees, but the remarkable coincidence of important events and Jubilee years does suggest that the Jubilee system was a significant factor in Israel’s actual history and not just in the memory of its historians.” (Ibid.).
That the Jubilee of Isaiah 61 was considered an imminent eschatological expectation in Jesus’ days is supported by other scholars:
“In 11Q13 phrases from Isa. 61:1–2 are linked with Lev. 25:13; Deut. 15:2; Ps. 7:8–9; 82:1–2; Isa. 52:7 to portray the expectation of the eschatological Jubilee (M. P. Miller 1969; J. A. Sanders 1975: 85). (Pao, D. W., & Schnabel, E. J. (2007). Luke. In Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (p. 288). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos).
My Response to Margaret Barker’s Article Jubilee Used to Measure Time and the History of Israel
As to Barker’s insight into the Jews dividing up their history in jubilee years and expectations of Messiah coming to fulfill Daniel’s 10th cycle of Jubilee during the times of Jesus — see my comments on the eschatological genealogies of Matthew and Luke’s gospels and George F. Moore’s article, Fourteen Generations: 490 Years: An Explanation of the Genealogy of Jesus, The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jan., 1921), pp. 97-103 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School.
The “Days of Vengeance” – Luke 21:20-32 and the 10th Jubilee Sabbath Cycle
Yeshua predicted that His coming soteriological and eschatological “redemption” “kingdom” “days of vengeance” of the Jubilee of Isaiah 61–66 would arrive at the sound of a trumpet and would be accomplished within His first century “this generation” audience (Lk. 21:20-32/Mt. 24:30-34). This was the fulfillment of “all that had been written” in the OT (Lk. 21:20-22ff.), which would obviously include Isaiah 61–66 and Daniel 2; 7; 9 and 12.
The Book of Hebrews and the 10th Jubilee Sabbath Cycle
In chapters 3-4 the author demonstrates that the OT predicted “another sabbath rest” for Israel to enter into of which the land promise was only a type. In chapters 9-10 this “approaching day” of sabbath rest is connected to His Second Appearing as the Great High Priest to finish His atonement work. The first century Church was “eagerly” awaiting this return that is described as taking place in the last days of the Old Covenant age and “in a very little while” and would “not delay.” He was “about to” (Greek mello) burn up His Old Covenant apostate Jewish enemies and place them under His feet at this AD 66 – AD 70 Second Appearing – and DID.
In chapter 7 Melchizedek only functioned as a type of Christ, therefore the fist century imminent expectations of the eschatological “last days” Melchizedek is rightfully applied to Christ as Messiah and God to accomplish what they thought this figure would.
The Book of Revelation and the 10th Jubilee Sabbath Cycle
The book of Revelation picks up where Daniel leaves off. Daniel had to “seal up the vision” because the time of fulfillment was “far off” (Dan. 12), whereas John is told the opposite concerning the SAME prophecy. He is told to “NOT seal up the vision” because the time of fulfillment is “at hand” (Rev. 22). Most of the book of Revelation deals with Daniel’s final “7” and places it being fulfilled in a fist century AD 66 – AD 77 period (i.e. “shortly” “soon” “at hand” “about to” “quick”).
Revelation also addresses issues of atonement, forgiveness of sin, sabbath rest and restoring man’s original Edenic inheritance in Christ at His “soon” Second Coming event during AD 66 – AD 70.
Yeshua – the Only Messianic Candidate
No matter how you look at it, the Jews were expecting Messiah to arrive during the Roman Empire and during the 10th Jubilee Sabbath cycle/period and thus be made manifest to them between AD 17/19 or AD 26/28 Jesus was the ONLY one claiming to be Messiah and fulfilling this prophecy in His day, that I know of. Jesus arriving during this 10th. Jubilee cycle and proclaiming “liberty” along with His physical miracles, demonstrated that He indeed was who He claimed to be. Who else during this period was making this specific claim and having the miracles to back it up?!? And who else was prophesying that He would come on the clouds as the Ancient of Days and destroy the Temple within that same generation (Mt. 24:15-34/Lk. 21:20-32)?!?
Yeshua fulfilled all of the seven feast days and the “climatic” second exodus generation between AD 26 – AD 66-AD 70.
Let’s now examine the six events listed in Daniel 9:24 and show how they were fulfilled by AD 70. We will begin with “seal vision and prophet or prophecy” since this is most relevant to the debate of “prophecy” “passing away” in AD 70 per (1 Cor. 13:8-12).
1). “Seal Vision and Prophecy/Prophet”
Here are some relevant quotes which demonstrate when Daniel’s seventy weeks would be fulfilled, is when the gift and office of prophecy and prophet would “stop” or “end”:
- “Prophecies and prophets are sealed, when by the full realization of all prophecies prophecy ceases, no more prophets any more appear.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 9, (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1975), 344).
- “…the prophet is speaking of the absolute cessation of all prophecy. I Cor. 13:8.” (Charles John Ellicott, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Cassell and Co; London, 1884), 387).
- “The words taken together refer to the final fulfillment of revelation and prophecy, i.e., when their functions are shown to be finished.” (James Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1973), 250).
Daniel 9:24-27 – The “Already & Not Yet” fulfilled by AD 70
2). To Finish or “fill up” the transgression and rebellion of Israel’s Sin
Agreeing with Smith, Dr. Brown understands this to mean, “Within the 490 years period the people of Israel would commit their final transgression against God. Jesus indicated that the leaders of his generationwere about to fill up the measure of the sin of their forefathers (Matt. 23:32)…” (Michael Brown, AJOJ, Vol. 3, 93). The book of Revelation teaches the same time period for the vindication of the martyrs and the judgment of the dead (i.e. AD 70). The martyrs would be avenged in “a very little while” when OC Jerusalem/Babylon was judged “soon” for putting to death the Apostles and Prophets (Rev. 6:10-11; 11–22:7-12).
3) — 4). Put an end to sin or atone for wickedness (covering over of iniquity)
In the book of Hebrews, Christ as the Anointed Great High Priest put an “end to sin” at His imminent “in a very little while and would not delay” “Second Appearing” to close the “last days” of the OC age in AD 70 (Heb. 9:26-28/10:37; Rom. 11:26-27/13:11-12; Dan. 9:24b.). As being or in the New Creation, our sins are remembered no more, covered in the depths of the sea and then removed positionally in Christ (Isa. 65-66/2 Cor. 5:17; Mic. 7:19).
5). To bring in everlasting righteousness
According to Peter, the inheritance the OT prophets predicted in the form of the New Creation or “world of righteousness” was “ready to be revealed” and thus “the end of all things” was “at hand” (1 Peter 1:4-12; 4:5-7). According to Paul, “…[righteousness] is/was about to be reckoned (Rom. 4:24) and “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope” (Gal. 5:5). This “hope” Paul defines as, “Christ in you the hope of glory (Cols. 1:27; Lk. 17:20-37).
6). To anoint the Most Holy Place – Hag. 2:6-9- AJOJ, Vol. 1, p. 75ff.
In Dr. Brown’s lectures and writings he claims this prophecy and those of Ezekiel, can refer to the Church as the spiritual millennial Temple, Levitical Priesthood and Sacrifices of Ezekiel 37:27; 40—48 / 2 Cor. 6:16; Jn. 7:37-39 or a physical millennial temple with a literal priesthood and sacrifices as the climax of redemptive history.
But obviously it can’t be both and the inspired “time frame” of Daniel 9:24-27 requires the spiritual fulfillment by AD 70! The truth is the New Jerusalem is the New Covenant “Jerusalem from above” of (Galatians 4) and is in the shape of a perfect cube because it is God’s Most Holy Place dwelling which was in the process of “coming down” and would “soon” come down to earth at Christ’s “at hand” Second Coming event in AD 70 (Rev. 3:11-12NIV—Rev. 21:16—22:20). God placed His “glory/presence” in this Temple at His Parousia/presence in AD 70. “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Cols. 1:27).
It is in the New Jerusalem or the Most Holy Place dwelling of God (the Church) where God’s glory, righteousness and presence resides. It is this Most Holy Place Temple that fulfills Haggai 2:6-9 where it is stated, “the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former,” and functions as the “desire of the nations.” It is here where God grants “peace” that surpasses all understanding. The “nations” come through the gates of this City/Temple for healing in Revelation 22:17 AFTER the ”soon” Second Coming was fulfilled. God “shook” the Old Covenant Kingdom or Mount Sinai made of things that were created in AD 70 and brought to maturity the spiritual New Covenant mount Zion that “cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:18-28). And the author tells us when this Most Holy Place City would arrive, “For here [in physical Jerusalem] we do not have an enduring or eternal city, but we are looking for the city that is about to come.” (Heb. 13:14YLT).
My calculations are on the left using a count for the Jubilee to be every 50 years. Using my calculation, Yeshua opens the scroll of Isaiah 61 in Luke 4 during a Jubilee Sabbath year somewhere between AD 26/28 at the beginning of His ministry and fulfills the entire 10th and final cycle of events between AD 26 — AD 66-70. The two columns on the right are Margaret Barker’s calculations counting a Jubilee to be every 49 years.
1). AD 26/28 — Yeshua begins fulfilling the soteriological (Lk. 4/Isa. 61) and eschatological 10th. cycle of the Jubilee and is “cut off” – inaugurating the NC age — First half of Daniel’s last “7.”
2). AD 33/35 – Seventh year sabbath
3). AD 40/42 – Seventh year sabbath
4). AD 47/49 – Seventh year sabbath
5). AD 54/56 – Seventh year sabbath
6). AD 61/63 – Seventh year sabbath
7). AD 67/69 — Yeshua fulfilling “Day(s) of vengeance” (Lk. 21:22-32/Isa. 61:2) which ends the OC age and brings to maturity the NC age — last half of Daniel’s “7”
Concluding the Sabbaths
Many Seventh Day Adventists and Reformed theologians tell us that the Saturday “sabbath” or Sunday “sabbath” is binding upon us today because all the OT law has not been fulfilled, heaven and earth has not passed away (Mt. 5:17-19, or the Second Coming and arrival of the New Creation rest has not come (2 Pet. 3/Rev. 21-22). As this article has demonstrated along with my co-authored book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology…, these “arguments” have been put to rest because these promises have indeed been fulfilled!
Under the mature New Covenant age today we can rest in Christ’s fully established salvation. “In Christ,” we have entered into God’s fully established Jubilee Sabbath Rest.
II. COMMUNION / CRACKERS & GRAPE JUICE / THE LORD’S SUPPER
Legalistic churches seek to control their people by church membership, obeying the “sabbath,” and of course they can’t miss the weekly partaking of the crackers and grape juice and the silent prayers remembering the Lord’s death. We shall now examine what it is to feast on food and drink in the New Covenant Kingdom or Passover today.
The New Covenant fulfillment of Passover has nothing to do with celebrating Easter yearly or partaking of crackers and grape juice weekly, monthly or whenever.
Church historians tell us that the Lord’s Supper in Corinthians was the same thing as the “Love Feasts” (or potlucks) the Church partook of on Sundays from “house to house” to benefit the poor (ex. Acts 2:46-47; Jude 1:12; 2 Pet. 2:13; 1 Cor. 11). But by 158AD most of the church were poor and met underground, in catacombs and or caves – exchanging very little bread and wine. This “tradition” was then made into the “ritual” of our modernday Evangelical “communion.”
Through the first physical and typological Passover God baptized Israel “into Moses” and they became a corporate and Old Covenant body or “house” of which Moses was the head and faithful mediator of (1 Cor. 10:2; Heb. 3:1-6). This was filled with physical OC symbols and rituals pointing to the spiritual NC Kingdom to come.
The spiritual anti-type is fulfilled in Christ being the Passover Lamb and establishing & building His spiritual corporate and New Covenant “body” or “house/temple” which is the Church.
Feasting on Food and Drink in the New Covenant Age – as Prophesied in the Old Testament
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever;”
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wineand milk without money and without price.”
“I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.”
The New Covenant gospel would be characterized with a spiritualfeasting and drinking in the Messianic Kingdom. This being the case, and since Jesus came to fulfill “all” the OT law and prophets (Mt. 5:17-18), we must first look at how Jesus saw these promises being fulfilled in and through Him.
Jesus and Feasting and Drinking
In reading John 6 we come away learning that eating “food” = “eternal life” and that Jesus is the “true bread” “bread of life” “from heaven” (vss. 27, 32-35). The “bread” He gives is the “bread” of His “flesh” (v. 51). He who eats His “flesh=bread” and drinks His “blood” has “eternal life” (vss. 53-58). These “words” or teachings “are spirit (spiritual) and life.”
Spiritually eating and drinking produces spiritual & eternal life- no physical fulfillment here.
Matthew 4:4 / John 4:34:
Believing in or doing the WORD or works of God is to “eat” from the mouth of God. Again, a spiritual fulfillment and not a physical eating or drinking found in these passages.
“I Tell you, many will come from east and west (Gentiles) and recline at tablewith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness.”
Since Jesus is referring to the wedding feast of Isaiah 25:6-9, we need to harmonize what the commentaries and theologians have said of Matthew 8:11-12 / Isaiah 25:6-9 and the eschatological wedding feast.
Kenneth Gentry writes,
“In Matthew 8:11-12 we read of the faithful gentile who exercises more faith than anyone in Israel. We hear once again of the people from the east. This time they sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the rightful place of the Jews). While the Jews themselves are “cast out” into “outer darkness.” (He Shall Have Dominion, p. 175). And, “God is preparing to punish his people Israel, remove the temple system, and re-orient redemptive history from one people and land to all peoples throughout the earth.” “This dramatic redemptive-historical event…ends the old covenant era…” (He Shall Have Dominion, p. 342).
The “casting out” of the “subjects of the kingdom” is a reference to OC Israel being judged in AD 70, at which time the believing Jewish/Gentile Church takes her place at the end of the OC era (but notice he is afraid of using the term “age”).
The “casting out into darkness” where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” he says refers to AD 70.
There is no mention of Isaiah 25:6-9 as Jesus’ source (cf. Mt. 5:17-18). They do the same thing in the OD when it comes to the resurrection gathering of Isa. 25-27/Mt. 24:30-31!
There is no consistency on Jesus’ phrases of being “cast out into darkness” where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” to Matthew 24:51 and 25:30. There is nothing throughout Matthew’s gospel that indicates there are TWO (casting out into outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth) judgments in Jesus’ teaching throughout the gospels.
Unanswered questions – Why isn’t this the fulfillment of the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3, 13 and Revelation 20 in AD 70 when Daniel’s soul was raised out of the realm of the dead to inherit eternal life and God’s presence – since some Postmillennialists are teaching this now?
Commentators who are not Postmillennial Partial Preterists have no problem pointing out the OT passages Jesus is referring to when He addresses the eschatological wedding feast.
D.A. Carson writes,
“The picture is that of the “messianic banquet,” derived from such OT passages as Isaiah 25:6–9 (cf. 65:13–14)…” and “…the presence of Gentiles at the banquet, symbolized the consummation of the messianic kingdom (cf. Mt 22:1–14; 25:10; 26:29). “Son of” or “sons of” can mean “sons of the bridal chamber” [9:15; NIV, “guests of the bridegroom.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, pp. 202–203).
“Jesus characterizes that bliss as taking “their places at the feast,” the messianic banquet image depicting the intimate fellowship among God’s people in the age to come (cf. Isa 25:6–9; 65:13–14).” (Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 142). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers).
Leon Morris connects this “feast” with “the coming bliss of the messianic banquet,” to be fulfilled “in the world (or age) to come.” (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 195). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press).
R.C. Sproul’s Reformation Study Bible admits that the table and feast of Matthew 8:11 is,
“A reference to the messianic banquet theme of Is. 25:6-9. Gentiles now appear in place of the natural sons.” (p. 1684).
Jesus is teaching on the fulfillment of the messianic wedding banquet and resurrection of Isa. 25:6-9 and inheriting the new creation of 65:12-14 at the end of the then current age, and in the age to come.
They connect the judgment of being “cast out into darkness” where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” with Matthew 24:51 and 25:30 as ONE separating judgment throughout Matthew’s gospel.
They ignore the time texts and clear references to the ONE AD 70 judgment throughout Matthew’s gospel and the time texts of the wedding and resurrection in Mt. 24-25 and Revelation – “this generation,” “soon,” etc…
The hermeneutical steps are incomplete in that no work is done on the context of Isaiah 24-25 or Isaiah 65 which demonstrate an “in time” and local judgment and not an end of time and global transformation event.
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Joel McDurmon writes of verses 2-7,
“Here the first servant-messengers (another reference to the prophets, no doubt) were simply ignored. Another wave of servant-messengers (more prophets) are treated as such a nuisance that while some still ignored them, “the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them” (v. 6). Jesus is certainly adding [the murdering of the servants or prophets] here as part of the same indictment of Jerusalem He would give again in (Matt. 23:34-36).” “The murderers were the entire generation of Israelites….” “…the armies would set the murderers’ city on fire (again exactly what happened in AD 70).”
And of verses 8-14, “…yet, after this destruction…” “…during this post-destruction wedding feast, some would sneak in who did not belong.” “…Whether [the man w/out the wedding garment] should be interpreted as the Judaizers who would cause so much dissention in the NT Church, or whenter these should just be understood as general heretics in the Church, is not clear.” (Jesus v. Jerusalem, 157-158, bold emphasis MJS).
The Great Commission invitation to the feast is between AD 30 – AD 70 in verses 1-7.
The sending out, rejection and killing of the servants is equated to Mt. 23 and the AD 70 judgment.
The judgment and burning of the city closes the OC era/age in AD 70.
The AD 70 judgment is once again characterized as being “cast out into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Again there is no mention that Jesus came to fulfill Isaiah 25:6-9 or 65:12-14 because they would have to address the timing and nature of the resurrection.
Postmillennialists miss that Mt. 22:1-14 is structured with recapitulation:
a). vss. 1-7: 1. There is an invitation to the wedding feast, 2. It is rejected, and 3. this rejection leads to the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70 – burning their city.
b). vss. 8-13: 1. There is an invitation, 2. BUT there is NEW information given to us about the same time period that vss. 1-7 didn’t tell us about. This rejection results in the invitation to the undesirables – the 10 northern tribes/Samaritans and Gentiles (as laid out in Acts 1:8) and describes the success of the GC between AD 30 – AD 70. And then finally 3. There is a judgment for their rejection (except this time it’s described differently – with a Jew or Judaizer trying to achieve salvation by works of the law and not through belief in the Son and His grace – who is then “CAST” out in outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (which is the same language used for the AD 70 judgment Postmillennialists give Mt. 8:11-12). So there is no exegetical evidence that vss. 8-13 is a post AD 70 GC resulting in a different judgment at the end of time.
As far as commentators that are not Postmillennial or Partial Preterist, they again have no problem connecting our Lord’s teaching here with the eschatological wedding feast consummation and resurrection of Isaiah 25:6-9. And most give lip service to God sending His armies to burn the city to be the AD 70 judgment (some such as Kistemaker try and downplay it). But these men refuse to interpret the rest of the parable as referring to AD 70 let alone connect Isaiah 25:6-9 with that judgment since it would destroy their Futurism.
1″At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6″At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7″Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9″‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10″But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11″Later the others also came. ‘LORD, LORD,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12″But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Postmillennialists such as Keith Mathison, Gary DeMar, Joel McDurmon, Mike Bull, etc… no longer divide Matthew 24-25 into two comings of the Lord. They correctly see every reference to the coming of Christ in the OD to be His spiritual coming in AD 70.
As I pointed out earlier, the reference to “day and hour” not being know by the Son but only the Father (24:36) is echoing the OT betrothal/marriage/resurrection motifs coming in Israel’s last days terminal generation (AD 30 – AD 70) — of which Jesus came to fulfill (Lk. 21:22; Mt. 5:17-18).
Others such as Kenneth Gentry see the coming of the Lord and “day and hour” in 24:36—25:31-46 as THE Second Coming consummative event with apparently another eschatological wedding and wedding feast to follow!
So again, Postmillennialists are face with TWO eschatological marriages, feasts and resurrections when the NT only knows of ONE.
So let’s do what the Postmillennialists won’t do (they won’t even MENTION Jesus fulfilling Isa. 25:6-9) and what the other Futurists won’t (they mention Jesus is fulfilling Isa. 25:6-9 or Isa. 65:12-14 but then won’t develop those OT contexts).
Context of Isaiah 25:6-9
“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine- the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. 9In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
In context, the Messianic wedding banquet comes as a result of judgment upon OC Israel for her breaking the old covenant Torah (cf. Isa. 24:5). This makes no sense in the Amillennial paradigm because all the Mosaic Law was supposed to have been fulfilled and passed away at the cross.
The Messianic wedding banquet comes when OC Jerusalem is judged with her city becoming a “heap of rubble” (cf. Isa. 25:2). Again this points to an “in time” and local event and not an end of time or global destruction and renewal.
Therefore, Jesus is using Isaiah 24-25 consistently and accurately to demonstrate that the Messianic wedding banquet and resurrection would be fulfilled in AD 70 when OC Israel would break Torah, was judged, and her city and Temple were left in a heap of rubble.
Context of Isaiah 65:12-14
12I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” 13Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. 14My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.
Here we are told that God was going to judge OC Israel “by the sword” and their fathers “in full” measure. But at the same time would save a remnant along with the Gentiles (cf. Roms. 10:20—chapter 11).
In that day of judgment, the remnant of believing Jews and Gentiles would feast at the wedding supper and be called by a new name (an everlasting NC name – the New Jerusalem) while OC Israel would not feast, starve and would be remembered no more. This is in line with the “soon” AD 70 coming of the Lord throughout the book of Revelation. In Revelation 19-21, while the Church (the transformed Israel of God) feasts at the wedding feast, OC Israel not only starves, but is actually feasted upon by the birds of the air.
Putting it All Together “Bridging the Gap”
The Analogy of Faith or Analogy of Scripture Hermeneutic: Teaches Scripture interprets Scripture, and Scripture cannot contradict Scripture.
In mathematics and logic: If A bears some relation to B and B bears the same relation to C, then A bears it to C. If A = B and B = C, then A = C. Therefore, things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal.
A = (Mt. 8; 22; 25) = Wedding or wedding feast, end of the age, and parousia fulfilled by AD 70.
B = (Isa. 25:6-9) = The wedding feast & resurrection are fulfilled together “in that day.”
C = (1 Cor. 15) = The resurrection and end of the age are fulfilled at the parousia.
If A bears some relation to B…
Jesus in A (Mt. 8; 22; 25) uses B (Isa. 25:6-9) to teach that His eschatological wedding feast would be fulfilled at His parousia to close the end of the OC age in AD 70.
…and B bears the same relation to C,…
Paul uses B (Isa. 25:6-9) in C (1 Cor. 15) to teach that the resurrection would take place at Christ’s parousia and at “the end [of the age].”
…then A bears it to C.
Both Jesus in A (Mt. 8; 22; 25) and Paul in C (1 Cor. 15) use a common source B (Isa. 25:6-9) to teach the resurrection will be fulfilled “at the end [of the OC age]” parousia event.
…therefore, things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal.
The ONE Parousia/Second Coming, Eschatological Wedding, End of the Age and Resurrection event of A (Mt. 8; 22; 25), B (Isa. 25:6-9) and C (1 Cor. 15) was fulfilled in AD 70.
Premise #1: Since it is true that Jesus taught the wedding feast of (Mt. 8; 22; 25) would be fulfilled at His parousia to close the OC age in AD 70 (Postmillennialists now agree with Full Preterists).
Premise #2: And since it is also true that Jesus in (Mt. 8; 22; 25) came to fulfill (Isa. 25:6-9) (Amillennialists and Full Preterists agree). Premise #3: And since it is also true that Paul teaches Jesus’ parousia would fulfill the resurrection of (1 Cor. 15) (all agree).
Premise #3: And since it is also true that the end of the age, the end, parousia and resurrection of (Mt. 8; 22; 25) and (1 Cor. 15) are the same event (Amillennialists and Full Preterists agree).
Conclusion: Then it is also true that the wedding feast, parousia, the end of the OC age and resurrection of (Mt. 8; 22; 25), (Isa. 25:6-9) and (1 Cor. 15) were fulfilled in AD 70. (Full Preterism Synthesis)
When we harmonize what Postmillennialists are teaching when it comes to the eschatological wedding feast and a spiritual resurrection taking place in AD 70 at Christ’s parousia, with what other Futurists are teaching on this being THE ONE consummative event for the Second Coming, resurrection and wedding to occur at the end of the age —- we get Full Preterism.
“And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God (cf. Lk. 17:20-37 – when He is revealed from heaven it will be “within” them / Lk. 21:27-32 when He and the Kingdom come in their generation).” 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[a] 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. 24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table (a physical table?) in my kingdom and sit (physically?) on thrones (physically?), judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
What I find interesting here is that both Partial Preterism and Full Preterism see verses 29-30 — that is “eating and drinking at the table” and “sitting on thrones” judging Israel in the “Kingdom” as metaphorical (non-physical) language, but many still want a PHYSICAL “eating” and sitting down on the pews with the Pastor up front at the “table” serving up literal crackers and grape juice for “communion” — so as to keep the false doctrine of the ritualists such as the Judaizers and Roman Catholic Church alive and well.
Here’s another way of looking at these passages:
A = (Lk. 22:15-18) – Kingdom=eating=drinking.
B = (Lk. 22:29-30) – Kingdom=eating=drinking.
Major Premise: The AD 30 – AD 70 arrival of the New Covenant spiritual “kingdom” in (Luke 22:15-18; 29-30) are the same spiritual kingdom fulfillment.
Minor Premise: But Partial and Full Preterism agree the AD30– AD 70 arrival of the kingdom in (Lk. 22:29-30) is spiritually fulfilled and not a physical “eating,” “drinking” or “ruling” on physical “thrones.”
Conclusion: Therefore, the AD 30 –AD 70 “kingdom,” “eating” & “drinking” of (Lk. 22:15-18) is also “fulfilled” spiritually and need not to be referring to a literal “table” with “crackers and grape juice.
It is important to point out the obvious in that Jesus’ “Last Supper” with His disciples was literally His last Old Covenant “Last Passover” with them. What follows from Jesus at this point has nothing to do with a weekly or monthly partaking of “crackers and grape juice” or a Roman Catholic yearly “Easter” celebration.
The Passover lamb was picked out and inspected for 5 days to see if it had any defects. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey 5 days before Passover — before offering Himself as the spotless Lamb of God for His Church (the New Covenant “Israel of God”).
Israelites were to have their lamb for some time and become attached to it. Then they were to have it offered at the temple court by the priests who would collect the blood and sprinkle it on the altar. Then they would take the lamb home and eat of it. Jesus spent 3 ½ years with His disciples which was His family and after riding in on a donkey spent the four or five days prior to Passover teaching once again in the Temple so that Israel would once again know Him and His doctrine – before they would offer Him up. It was now time to take the sin of His New Covenant Israel of God (Gals. 6) upon Himself and then have them consume His flesh (cf. as in John 6) by believing in and then following and teaching His doctrine of being the Churches New Covenant propitiation.
Jews regularly acted out their covenants and contracts and this is exactly what Jesus does by lifting up the bread and breaking it as His body and lifting up the cup and identifying it as His blood shed for them in order to establish the New Covenant.
The Four Cups of the Passover
While Matthew, Mark and Luke portray Jesus and the disciples as parting of the Passover to be the “last supper,” John’s Gospel seems to portray it more as a preparatory meal before the Passover supper. For in John’s account Christ is crucified at 3:00pm when the lambs are being offered in the Temple area. The “preparations” before the Passover was still technically seen to fall within the “Passover”
Either way, to be thorough, let me address the typology of the 4 cups. We don’t know exactly how the Passover was kept in Jesus’ day and even this tradition of the four cups may or may not have been practiced pre-AD 70. But let’s address them since many Futurists think the fourth cup is referring to a literal future “rapture” instead of the New Covenant “within” rapture that took place at Christ’s Parousia in AD 70.
Some Jewish tradtions have identified the drinking of the four cups to the four historical redemptions of the Jewish people: 1. the choosing of Abraham, 2. the Exodus from Egypt, 3. the survival of the Jewish people throughout the exile, and 4. with what will be fulfilled at the end of days. But there is more clarity found in the passage from which it is derived.
After the lighting of the candles (God and His Word guiding Israel), the four cups of wine portion of the feast would begin. The leader of the family would then say, “As we read through the Haggadah, we will drink of ‘cup of the fruit of the vine,’ four times. These four cups stand for the four “I wills” that are recorded in Exodus 6:6-7:
“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
This is a basic outline of how God would redeem Israel through the Exodus and establish them in His house (the Promised Land).
- The words, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” was understood to be the cup of sanctification. God was setting Israel apart to be His elect nation among the other nations and thus they were to set apart themselves to obey Him.
- The words, “I will deliver you from slavery to them” was identified as the cup of judgment or deliverance.
- The words, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm” was known to be the cup of redemption or even identified as drinking the “blood of the lamb.”
- The words, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God” was understood to be communicating the cup of joy and restoration. There would be much joy when God took and restored Israel as His wife by establishing them in the Promised Land (His home) to be His Kingdom.
K&D comments upon this passage,
“This assurance, which God would carry out by the manifestation of His nature as expressed in the name Jehovah, contained three distinct elements: (a) the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, which, because so utterly different from all outward appearances, is described in three parallel clauses: bringing them out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; saving them from their bondage; and redeeming them with a stretched-out arm and with great judgments; – (b) the adoption of Israel as the nation of God; – (c) the guidance of Israel into the land promised to the fathers (Exodus 6:6-8). נטוּיה זרוע, a stretched-out arm, is most appropriately connected with גּדלים שׁפטים, great judgments; for God raises, stretches out His arm, when He proceeds in judgment to smite the rebellious.”
The Third Cup – the Blood of the Lamb – Inauguration of the New Covenant
When Jesus identifies the “cup” He drinks with the disciples as “His blood” of the New Covenant, this is the third cup of redemption known as the “blood of the lamb.” Clearly this is the “already” of soteriology / eschatology or the cross. Also in the Jewish betrothal ceremony the groom and the betrothed would initiate the covenant by drinking wine from each others cups – symbolizing they were entering into a covenant to be one blood and body.
The early church did partake of the “cup” of His suffering in that the martyrs suffering was avenged in Jesus’ contemporary “this generation” and “in a little while” at His “soon” Second Coming in AD 70 (Mt. 23-25 / Rev. 6). They were “sheep led to the slaughter” and Paul “filled up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (Rms. 8; Cols. 1).
And we partake of this cup and eat the bitter herbs when we pick up our cross, deny self and daily follow our Lord as we meditate upon Him taking our bitter sin upon Himself.
As Noah’s ark was covered within and without with red pitch to protect it from the wrath of the water raining down upon them, so we are covered in the blood of Christ within and without – by having His righteousness imputed to our account and thus saturating us and changing our condition to be holy in His sight.
The Singing of Psalm 118 Between the Third and Fourth Cups & Jesus’ Use of it in Matthew 21:43-45 & 23:39
“For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23:39 / Psalm 118:26).
This was commonly known as one of the “Songs of Ascent” sung at the three annual feasts. This Psalm was read and sung between the drinking of the third and fourth cups at Passover.
The Song of Ascent was supposed to be a song of joy and salvation that the Jews would sing on the walls of Jerusalem welcoming the pilgrims on their feast days, but God turned it into a “stage work” for their judgment (not the judgment of their enemies). The Jews were bottled up in Jerusalem (in AD 66 – AD 70) deceiving themselves into thinking that God was going to save them from the Romans and usher in the kingdom in fulfillment of OT prophecies (the very mentality that Jesus warned about concerning the coming false prophets in Matt. 24). In essence, God was forcing them to welcome their own judgment (in song form). Instead of being met and welcoming pilgrims for the feasts (seeking peace and salvation), they were met with and forced to welcome, God coming in judgment through the Roman armies (as God had “come” in the OT – through the Assyrians, Babylonians, etc…).
That the Jews would not “discern what their end would be” was predicted in yet another song – the Song of Moses (Deut. 32:29). God/Messiah as their “Rock” is also a common theme in Deut. 32. Because they forsook God as their “Rock” (Jesus the coming “Corner Stone” of Psalm 118) and trusted in others, He brought upon them certain “disaster” in a particular “perverse generation” which the NT declares was the AD 30 – AD 70 one (cf. Deuteronomy 32:5, 20/Acts 2:40). The OT prophets would go on to describe this coming judgment as God’s “strange work” (judging them at a time when they expected God to judge their enemies).
The exegete also needs to pay attention to how Jesus uses Pslam 118 elsewhere. Psalm 118:22 sheds light on how Jesus is using v. 26 in Matt. 23:39. Since Jesus uses v. 22 as being fulfilled in the AD 70 judgment (cf. Matt. 21:42-45), then the burden of proof is upon the futurist to demonstrate that He is using Psalm 118 in a completely different way – ie. referring to a 2,000+ years distant future context – for Israel’s salvation.
Three simple points:
- Since Jesus used Psalm 118 elsewhere in Matthew to refer to the judgment coming in AD 70, this points us in the direction that He is using Psalm 118 in Matt. 23:39 to the same event.
- The immediate context of Matt. 23-24 points to AD 70. It is this discussion of Christ “coming” in their (AD 30 – AD 70) “this generation” to destroy their “house” or “Temple” which spurs on a continued discussion regarding the SAME “coming,” the SAME time frame “this generation,” for the destruction of the SAME “Temple.” It is common place for commentators to acknowledge that the disciples understood the Temple’s destruction to take place at Christ’s coming at the end of the age. However, these same commentators based upon a futurist bias claim the disciples were “mistaken” to connect these events. The disciples “understood” Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” (Matt. 13:39-51) and when we identify the “end of the age” to be the end of the Old Covenant age instead of the end of world history, all three (Temple’s destruction, coming of Christ, and end of the age) fall naturally within the “this generation” time frame.
- Their “stumbling” over Christ produced a “strange work” (Isa. 28:21, etc… – God would come to judge them not deliver them – thus Jesus’ irony in using a song of salvation for their judgment)!
When the Jews said, “His blood be upon us and our children,” the Passover blood of Christ would be poured out upon them when they would be sining Psalm 118 — and welcoming that very judgment! The blood of Christ covered/baptized the New Covenant “Israel of God” in a way that produced salvation and the cleansing of the conscience, but for Old Covenant Israel in rejecting their true Passover Lamb, they would be covered/baptized in His blood in an entirely different way in AD 70.
The Fourth Cup – the Consummation of the Kingdom and the Inner “Rapture” (Greek Harpazo)
The fourth cup that Jesus will drink “anew” with the disciples “in the kingdom” is the soteriological / eschatological “not yet.” The Hebrew word for “take” is laqach and has a similar meaning to harpazo in the Greek — in that it was related to taking a wife to oneself, taking spoil from an enemy, taking one up in a vision, etc… At Christ’s parousia in AD 70, He consummated the betrothal process and He and the Father have made Their home within us. His banner over us is love and He makes His beloved’s cup run over with joy and gladness today in the Kingdom. Every day is a spiritual wedding feast or Jubilee Sabbath Rest “In Christ.” Selah.
So how then is the Church to take the Lord’s Supper “anew” today in the Kingdom post AD 70? According to John 14, the Father and the Son have made their dwelling/home within us and dine/eat/fellowship with us spiritually. We have inherited and partake of Christ as the “hidden manna.” We continue to partake or eat of Christ spiritually but in a fulfilled sense. Pre-AD 70 the Church partook of Christ spiritually realizing that He baptized them (covered over stained them) with the blood and had sprinkled their hearts and conscience with it. This was in anticipation of Him coming “in a very little while” and would “not delay” to close the Old Covenant age – that is come from the heavenly Temple to make His home “within” them and bring maturity to the New Covenant (Heb. 9:26-28–10:37; Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32; Jn. 14).
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
A day was approaching when Christ would deliver believers from their persecutions and pour out His wrath upon their persecutors (1 Thess. 1:10; cf. 2 Thess. 1:6–7). When that day came, the Lord descended from heaven with a word of command (or “a shout”), with archangelic voice, and with a trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ rose. Then the living in Christ and the dead in Christ were simultaneously “caught up” in “clouds” to “a meeting of the Lord in the air.”
Since the cloud-covered mountain is not literal, but is heavenly, neither then is the meeting that takes place in the heavenly mountain (i.e., in the clouds in the air) literal. Therefore, the shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud, and meeting of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 are all spiritual antitypes of the literal shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud, and meeting of Exodus 19 and 20 (Heb. 12:18–22).
What we have then in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 is the “rapturously” metaphorical language of a prophet who is speaking of antitypical, spiritual realities —the transcendent profundities of Christological glory in and among the saints in the consummation of the ages. If this sounds like an over-spiritualization, it shouldn’t. The Lord Jesus Himself was opposed to a literal removal of the church out of the world:
I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
The “rapture” passage is no more literal than the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:4–14. In that passage, God caused a valley full of dry bones to come together. He attached tendons to them and put skin
on them. Then He caused the bodies to breathe and they stood on their feet as a vast army. The bones represented the house of Israel. They were hopelessly cut off from the land, and were said to be in “graves.” As God had done for the dry bones, He was going to do for the house of Israel.
In the same way, in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, God raised up His church —the first fruits of the resurrection-harvest— which was anxiously longing for the consummation of redemption and atonement. As a mighty warrior, the Lord issued forth his shout of command and sounded the trumpet of God. Then His spiritual army arose by His power. They met Him on His way to His temple to judge the enemies in His kingdom (Mal. 3:1). That is when God afflicted the persecutors of His church, when He gave His people relief and glorified Himself in them (2 Thess. 1:8–10).
Being revealed with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4) and becoming like Him and seeing Him in His Parousia (1 Jn 3:2) had nothing to do with escaping physical death or with being literally caught up into the literal sky or with being biologically changed. It had to do with God’s people, living and dead, being “gathered together” to become His eternal Tabernacle, His spiritual Body, the New Man, the heavenly Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem in the Spirit. “This mystery is great” (Eph. 5:32), and is therefore communicated in the accommodative “sign language” of prophetic metaphor.
Since our Lord came “with His saints” and destroyed the earthly temple in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8), the church of all ages lives and reigns in glory with Him forever (Rom. 6:8; 2 Cor. 13:4; 2 Tim. 2:11–12). Now whether we are alive or asleep, we “live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10). This
was not the case in the Old Testament, when to die was to be cut off from the people of God. As Paul says in Romans 14:8–9, “ . . . whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
“According to the Lord’s own word” (1 Thess. 4:15)
|Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70||1 Thessalonians 4-5 Fulfilled in AD 70|
|1. Christ comes from heaven (24:30)||1. Christ comes from heaven (4:16)|
|2. With archangelic voice (24:31)||2. With archangelic voice (4:16)|
|3. With God’s trumpet call (24:31)||3. With God’s trumpet call (4:16)|
|4. Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31)||4. Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)|
|5. Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30)||5. Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)|
|6. Use of contemporary “you” and parousia to be fulfilled in their contemporary generation (24:34)||6. Use of contemporary “we” and parousia expected while some are still alive (4:15)|
|7. Exact time unknown (24:36)||7. Exact time unknown (5:1-2)|
|8. Christ comes like a thief (24:43)||8. Christ comes like a thief (5:2)|
|9. Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39)||9. Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)|
|10. Birth pains (24:8 – fulfilled in AD 70)||10. Birth pains (5:3)|
|11. Believers are not deceived (24:43)||11. Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)|
|12. Believers told to be watchful (24:42)||12. Believers told to be watchful (5:6)|
|13. Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49)||13. Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)|
|14. The Day, Sunlight (bright light) shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38)||14. The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)|
The fact that Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in the OD not only destroys the two comings theory of Postmillennial Partial Preterism, but the two comings theory of John MacArthur’s Pre-trib. Dispensationalism.
Add to the mix that NT scholars such as N.T. Wright are seeing that the language of BOTH Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 are not to be take physically or having anything to do with “Christians flying around in mid-air on clouds” because the genre is more “apocalyptic” and contains “metaphors.” (N.T. Wright, THE RESURRECTION OF THE SON OF GOD, 215).
Major Premise: The One Second Coming event of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 is ONE and the same eschatological event (Historic Premillennialism / Amillennialism and Full Preterism agree).
Minor Premise: But the coming of Christ in Matthew 24 was fulfilled spiritually at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 (Partial Preterism and Full Preterism agree).
Conclusion / “Reformed and Always Reforming”: The ONE Second Coming of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 was fulfilled spiritually at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 (Full Preterism).
“Gathered up” – Harpazo (1 Thess. 4:17)
The NCV translates harpazo as “gathered up” thus giving it a theological and parallel connection to the eschatological gathering of (Mt. 13:39-43; Mt. 24:30-31 & 2 Thess. 2:1). Other translations render it “snatched away” or “will be seized.”
Harpazo means to “take one’s plunder openly and violently,” “catch or snatch away.” Liddel-Scott gives an additional meaning – “to captivate” or “ravish” – here is an example from me – “I was so captivated or enraptured (inwardly) by my wife’s beauty, that I didn’t realize what time it was.” But is 1 Thessalonians 4:17 discussing an inward or outward and upward catching away and ravishing of God’s people into the glory cloud of His kingdom?
Here are some very clear uses of harpazo:
Matthew 12:29 – Satan was “bound” and Christ was “carrying away” (harpazo) his plunder which were people that were rightfully his (that is Christ’s) held captive by Satan and demons. But how was He doing this? It was by casting out demons (an inward reality), and in some cases actually giving faith to these individuals to follow him (again an inward reality).
Matthew 11:12 – “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing (Christ casting out demons openly and publicly taking Satan’s plunder), and (in return) the forceful men (believers) lay hold of it(harpazo – through faith, vigor, power, and determination in light of present persecution – such as the case of John).
Matthew 13:19 – In the parable of the sower, the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart (again, an inner spiritual reality)
John 6:65 – “No one can come to me unless the Father has (Greek didómi) caused, drawn, dragged or enabled him.” A different Greek word is used here, but the concept is that God opens the heart first and inwardly drags/draws/causes the person to believe in Christ. Without this active inward rescuing and initiative from God, no one can believe. This is an inward “dragging.”
John 10:12 – “…the wolf (Pharisees sons of Satan) sought to snatch and scatter” the sheep/ people of Israel. How did the Pharisees seek to “snatch” and “scatter” the Jews from following Jesus? The first phase involved seeking to deceive them in their hearts and minds (an inward snatching) that He was not the Christ by perverting the Scriptures. The second phase was a physical excommunication or scattering of Christians from their synagogues.
John 10:28-29 – Anyone who has faith in Jesus cannot be “snatched” out of the Father’s hand. That is, that he cannot be influenced (snatched inwardly) in his or her mind and heart to leave God. Like Peter, “Where else can we go Lord, you alone have the words to eternal life.”
Acts 8:39 – This simply means that the Holy Spirit directed Philip in His heart and mind (inwardly) to go elsewhere and the Eunuch did not see him again. Nothing in the text to support that Philip was “raptured” into the atmosphere (waved to some birds) and was then dropped off miles and miles away from where they were.
The eschatological “already” of the inward kingdom gathering and catching away was spiritual and the eschatological “gathering” and “catching away” in the kingdom at Christ’s return would be at the end of the OC age in AD 70. But was this “not yet” aspect an inward event as well? Jesus said when the kingdom would come at His return to gather all His elect, that it would be an experience to occur “within” an individual and not something that could be seen with the physical eyes—Luke 17:20-37/Luke 21:27-32/Matthew 24:30-31.
The inward realm of redemption or catching away is further evident from a study of the next two words “clouds” and “air.”
“…in the clouds…” (1 Thess. 4:17)
As I have demonstrated thus far (per the OT and NT prophets) Christ coming on the clouds is apocalyptic language and not referring to literal clouds.
To “meet” the Lord… (1 Thess. 4:17)
This Greek word to “meet” the Lord, is wedding language and is only used twice in the NT – here and in the wedding motif Jesus develops in Matthew 25:1-13 which Postmillennialists such as Mathison and DeMar are admitting was fulfilled in AD 70. In Jewish betrothal, it was customary for the groom to consummate his marriage sexually at her father’s house before taking her to his father’s house where they would continue consummating for seven days and having the feast. Again, since the wedding banquet follows the wedding in Jewish culture, AND the resurrection takes place at this time (cf. Isaiah 25:6-8/1 Cor. 15:54-55), then Postmillennialists are now forced to concede that the ONE eschatological wedding and resurrection was fulfilled in AD 70, or teach that there are two weddings for the Church to match their two comings, resurrections and weddings with that of Dispensationalism’s version. Selah.
This Greek word for “meet” was also often used of a King or dignitary coming to make his home in a city in which his Empire or Kingdom had conquered. On the news of the imminent coming of the King or dignitary, the members of the city would go out of the city and “meet” him and escort him back to their home/town. The King’s presence is established WHERE the people already lived. Again, the imagery does not support a literal “rapture” of people off of planet earth, but rather of God coming to rule and reign in the hearts of His people where they are – living on planet earth.
“…in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17)
But what of this meeting the Lord in the “air” (Greek eros)?
Strong’s Greek Dictionary, defines it as: “From “aemi”, to breath unconsciously, to respire.By analogy, to blow. The air, particularly the lower and denser air as distinguished from the higher and rarer air.” So the point is that this is the air “in” or “within” us.
The Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains lists (Eph 2:2; 1 Th 4:17; and Rev 16:17) in its definition of eros as meaning, “the space inhabited and controlled by [spiritual] powers.” The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament says of Ephesians 2 – “…Jewish conceptions, according to which, among other things, the air is the abode of demons.”
Ephesians 2 refers to Satan as the “Prince and Power of the AER.” He dwelt in the spiritual realm not the physical – flying through the literal clouds and sky with the birds. The war we see Christ and Satan fighting over in the NT is for the spiritual condition of men – within their hearts and minds. Paul goes on to say that Satan, “now works in the children of disobedience.” And consistently Jesus defines His kingdom as something that He is setting up “in” and “within” men and transforming them into His image spiritually.
Prior to AD 70, Satan used his demonic legions to “possess” individuals within the realm of their minds and the spiritual realm of their being. Satan used the old-covenant Mosaic law to blind their spiritual eyes, hearts and minds in the realm of the “air”—within their souls, hearts, and minds to produce an arrogant and zealous self righteousness which apart from Christ could only lead to utter despair (2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:17-18; Rms. 7). Christ “bound the strong man” and was raising and delivering Christians from the darkness and death of this spiritual kingdom realm into His Ephs. 2:1-10. Christ snatched away His beloved and spoke peace and joy into the “air” of her heart, soul, and mind, when He said, “It is finished” (Rev. 16:17/Heb. 9-10/1 Cor. 15)! The powers of Satan, demons, the condemnation of the law, and the spiritual death Adam brought upon men, have all been conquered by Christ at His parousia in AD 70 and for those that put their faith in Him.
Had Paul meant to clearly communicate that believers would physically fly off the planet into the sky and atmosphere above, he would have used the Greek word “ouranos” which clearly states this as its meaning.
The picture of the “rapture” is that Christ came down from heaven in / on a cloud to earth where He gathered the living into His presence “within” us. Just as we see in Revelation where the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to earth and God establishes His presence with His Church here.
11 Problems for the Postmillennial or Literal Futurist or “Preterist” AD 70 Rapture or Resurrection Views
1). For Partial Preterist Ed Stevens – If the language of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Matthew 24:31 is allegedly “clear” and some kind of literal expectation, then he should be consistent with other Postmillennial Partial Preterists such as Mike Bull and begin teaching that the resurrection language is also a literal expectation and therefore the dead were raised from their physical graves and the literal dust in AD 70 as well. And why not begin teaching that Jesus came physically in AD 70? And while carrying out this physical expectation he might as well “reason” and go all the way in his thinking and conclude that since the de-creation language in Matthew 24 also sounds like a literal expectation, that either the prediction failed (liberalism), or spiritualize the time statements and continue hoping for these literal expectations (Futurism). Futurism and the skeptic are his only choices at this point when he begins reasoning along these lines.
2). Paul could have easily rebuked the false teachers and Christians that were tempted to believe the Lord had “already come” in 2 Thessalonians 2 by simply saying, “Aren’t you still here and the dead still in their graves? Obviously, He has not come!” But since Paul did not hold to the literal rapture view or a literal resurrection view attended with Christ’s parousia, and was a real Full Preterist, he did not argue in such a way.
3). The coming of Christ in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is the coming of the Lord in Isaiah 66:5, 15 of which there are Christian survivors (66:19) whom are found alive on planet earth continuing to preach the gospel in the New Creation and New Covenant age.
4). In Mark 8:38-9:1 the Greek is different than Matthew 16:27-28 and actually teaches that those that were alive to witness Christ’s coming would be able to look back (while still alive) on the historical events of Him coming in power and great glory in the destruction of Jerusalem and thus know that He had “already come.”
5). After Christ and the Father come and make their home (dwelling mone John 14:2, 23) within the believer, they are told, “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (14:29). If they were literally raptured, I don’t think they would need to be reminded to believe that it had been fulfilled! These words make more sense if it was a spiritual fulfillment that could not be seen with the literal eyes and to be realized “within” (cf. Lk. 17:20-37).
6) Contrary Russell, Terry, Stevens, Bull and others — Jesus of course promised not to remove the Church off of planet earth (John 17:15).
7). Church history tells us that Christians were not raptured but fled to Pella. Church history tells us that the Apostle John was still alive during Domician’s reign in the mid AD 90’s and that Timothy, Titus, and Luke lived beyond AD 70. Stevens claims not all the Christians were raptured, only the super spiritual ones — the others were apparently unfaithful “sleepers” he claims. Odd, that Stevens claims to be a Calvinist and teaches such non-sense as the carnal Christian heresy! So I guess according to this heretical view, John, Timothy, Titus, and Luke became unfaithful “sleepers” and missed the rapture of the faithful. Oh boy!
8). If there was a literal resurrection in AD 70 to go along with a literal rapture, we have to wonder how everyone missed recording that “all” the righteous and unrighteous dead were literally raised from the dust of the earth in fulfillment of Daniel 12:2/Acts 24:15YLT/John 5:28-29/Rev. 20:5-15 along with tens of thousands of living Christians that just simply disappeared?!?
They have tried to avoid this by claiming there was a small number of faithful Christians that were “raptured” and not all the dead were raised in AD 70. But obviously this is NOT what Daniel 12:2 says, nor is this how it is developed in the NT. David Green writes concerning the world “many” in Daniel 12:2,
“Regarding the word “many” in Daniel 12:2: The word is not used in contrast to “all” (as “the many” is used to limit the term “all men” in Rom. 5:12, 15, 18-19) or in contrast to “a few.” The angel simply referred to a large number of people; to multitudes (NIV). No inference can be made from the context as to whether “many” referred to all or to only a portion of the dead. Only subsequent scriptures revealed that the “many” in Daniel 12:2 referred to the whole company of all the dead from Adam to the Last Day.” (HD, 178).
9). If the “gathering” and “catching away” of Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 were the same event and if the “gathering” of Matthew 24:31 and Matthew 13:39-43 are the same event, then why weren’t the “wicked” “tares” or “weeds” “gathered” (i.e. “raptured”) off of planet earth (the same way the wheat were “gathered” into the kingdom) in AD 70 and thrown into the fire and judged (the Lake of Fire)?
10). During the OC to NC AD 30 – AD 70 transition period, we have the “already—becoming/transforming—and not yet” process of salvation and resurrection taking place. If a physical transformation of the literal living or the dead was the eschatological goal of the parousia, then why weren’t the living physically being “transformed” and literally “seeing” God’s face in some way before He came? Why weren’t they physically glowing a little before they were totally transformed into the NC glory they were receiving by AD 66? How was “the death being destroyed” and the dead “being raised” physically in 1 Corinthians 15 prior to the parousia?
11). Ed’s main premise for believing a literal rapture is because we don’t have any early church fathers teaching the parousia or Second Coming was fulfilled in AD 70. Ed claims he “lost sleep” over this subject and God showed him that the literal rapture solves his sleep problem. Of course Partial Preterists don’t have any early church fathers teaching that Babylon was OC Jerusalem or that Matthew 24:31 or 25:31 was Christ’s coming in AD 70 either. The Reformed church didn’t have any early writings about forensic justification by faith alone prior to Luther. Did Ed loose sleep over those things?
But Ed saws off the branch he is sitting on when we point out and ask – if Christians were literally raptured, and immediately after that, the Christian “sleepers” who were left repented of their sleepiness and started preaching the gospel—why didn’t they record the literal “rapture” of the faithful?!? It just gets more and more foolish. Literal rapturists argue the “sleepers” didn’t want to discuss or record God’s faithfulness in rapturing the faithful, because they would be persecuted. This is supposed to explain the reason for the silence. Well, if there was no literal rapture, then why couldn’t this same reasoning apply for the silence of those still alive on planet earth? Per the rapturist, the living were afraid of persecution. Their reasoning applies to both groups and solves no problem.
The bottom line – those that hate the truth concerning a spiritual fulfillment in AD 70 would not believe even if we had documentation of the event say in AD 85. They would simply reason, “Oh, this is when the gnostic heresy of Full Preterism began.” I don’t lose sleep over what the Word of God says – it actually strengthens my faith and gives me peace.
For my full article and exegesis of the “rapture” of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 go to: http://fullpreterism.com/my-ppw-conference-lecture-2-the-problems-for-postmillennialism-in-the-olivet-discourse-matthew-2430-31-1-thessalonians-415-17/
1 Corinthians 5:6-8:
Paulidentifies the Church as “…a new lump” of “unleavened” bread. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17:
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partakeof the one bread.
We partake in the New Covenant Passover when we eat the spiritual bread of Christ and drink the cup of His blood — as our source of eternal life. We participate and partake in the New Covenant Passover when we fellowship with each other as ONE body/bread – bearing each others burdens, weeping with those that weep, rejoicing with those who rejoice, comforting those with the comfort we have received from the Lord, etc….
1 Corinthians 11:17-33:
There are a few things we can take away from this passage:
- The “Lord’s Supper” is an entire meal (just as the Lord ate a meal to show the true meaning of the Passover in Luke 22).Not crackers & grape juice.
- Paul says they are not TRULY partaking of the Lord’s Supper, because they are DIVIDED and selfish (eating the poor’s food & getting drunk) – and therefore “not discerning the ONE Body of Christ.“
- To share an entire meal together where we care for the poor is an opportunity to “show forth His death” [i.e. our UNION w/ Him].After He comes, the meal will take on a greater significance – the wedding feast [the 4th. Cup].
Concluding the Lord’s Supper
We come together as one body/bread and fellowship around the teaching of Christ delivering us from the bitter bondage of sin and death through His death, resurrection and Parousia. We confess our sins one to another & encourage each other of who we are in Christ and to die to self daily.
We need to be active in the community and invite the poor to our fellowship to physically eat & hopefully God will open their hearts to feast upon Christ spiritually with us “anew ” in His Kingdom.
Let’s worship our King in “spirit and in truth” and make sure we don’t perpetuate the false worship of the Judaizers or Roman Catholic ritualistic “traditions” through “Easter” or “crackers & grape juice.”
III. THE SPIRITUAL ONE NEW COVENANT BAPTISM
There is much confusion in the church today over baptism. When we hear the word “baptism” we have been conditioned to think in terms of physical “water” and what is the mode today (emersion, dipping, pouring or sprinkling?). Or, if we hear the term, “baptism of the Holy Spirit” we only think in terms of speaking in tongues and the miraculous (are they for today or have they ceased?). This is very unfortunate in that the New Covenant baptism of the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with physical water. And while there was the miraculous associated with the New Covenant baptism of the Holy Spirit during the transition period (AD 30 – AD 70), this “one baptism” continues today and places believers in the “one body.”
1). Define baptism.
2). Look at the various OT
types of baptisms & cleansings.
3). The baptism of John
4). The baptism of Jesus
5). Paul’s doctrine on the NC “ONE
6). Peter and John on baptism.
7). Hebrews and baptism.
8). Luke and baptism in Acts
1). Defining Baptism: baptizō, baptisma, baptismos, baptō
Means to cover, be influenced or overwhelmed (which can be through repetitive dipping or submerging) producing cleansing or a change of condition.
Pastor Jim Brown following Strongs points out that this was,
“…a common word used among the Greeks signifying to stain or dye a garment; the predominant signification of the word means to cover over with a stain or dye which produced a change of condition.”
it can mean identifying oneself in a person or his teachings such as Moses and the OC (1 Cor. 10:2), or Christ and the New Covenant which unites all believers into one body (1 Cor. 12:13), bringing them into fellowship with Christ (Gals. 3:28), imbuing them richly with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5), and overwhelming unbelievers with fire in the day of judgment (Matthew 3:11). (Thayer, Joseph Henry, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament being Grimm’s Wilke’s ClavisNovi Testamenti, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1951, 94-95).
After twenty years of studying these Greek words and how they are used inside and outside the Bible, James Dale concluded with this definition:
“…whatever is capable of thoroughly changing the character, state, or condition of any object, is capable of baptizing that object: and by such change of character, state, or condition does, in fact, baptize it.” (JOHANNIC BAPTISM AN INQUIRY INTO THE MEANING OF THE WORLD AS DETERMINED BY THE USAGE OF THE HOLY SCROPTURES, P&R, p. vi.)
Dr. Dale has traced the word Baptismos and its cognates to the causative agencies (and modes of action of course), suggested by the following record among others not here specified: 1. Baptism of wine, a drunken condition. 2. Baptism of war, a desolated condition. 3. Baptism of care, anxious condition. 4. Baptism of trouble, a harassed condition. 5. Baptism of passion, and excited condition. 6. Baptism of grief, a sorrowful condition. 7. Baptism of ignorance, an un-lightened condition. 8. Baptism of wickedness, a depraved condition. 9. Baptism of taxes, an oppressed condition. 10. Baptism of debts, a bankrupt condition. 11. Baptism of mental labor, and imbecile condition. 12. Baptism of questions, a bewildered condition. 13. Baptism of disease, a sickly condition. 14. Baptism of Magian arts, a superstitious condition. 15. Baptism of poverty, an impoverished condition. 16. Baptism of a drug, a somnolent condition. 17. Baptism of pleasure, a joyous condition. 18. Baptism of fright, an alarmed condition. 19. Baptism of surprise, a startled condition. 20. Baptism of heifer ashes, a ceremonially pure condition. 21. Baptism of mersion or submerging, a whelmed condition. —Twenty examples against one (the later), in favor of a variety of meanings, and of non-physical as well as physical applications of the word. (Johannic Baptism, p. 237)
William B. Orbis defines Baptizo:
“1. to merge into, as to“baptize into Christ,” to merge into Christ; 2. to consecrate or transfer allegiance to, as, “baptized unto Moses,” allegiance transferred to Moses; 3. to come into a vital union with; as Christ says,“Abide in me and I in you;” 4. to renew, convert, or regenerate, through this vital union of the one all pure, with one that was impure: hence, 5. to purify, sanctify, cleanse, remit sin, wash, hallow, etc.
Baptisma: 1. a saved or merged condition (1 Pet. 3:21); 2. a doctrine that points the way to salvation (Lk. 20:4). 3. a purified or endowed condition.” (RITUALISM DETHRONED AND THE TRUE CHURCH FOUND, OR THE DIVINE LIFE IN ALL THE CHRISTIAN AGES MOST REVEALED IN THOSE CHURCHES AND “MARTYRS OF JESUS” THAT HAVE WITNESSED AGAINST A CEREMONIAL AND SACRAMENTAL LAW, A Plea for Christian Liberty, Christian Union, and the Higher Christian Life, Forgotten Books, pp. 100-101).
Strong’s says of baptism here in Ephesians 4:5,
(X) “…The whole paragraph, Eph. 4:1–5, is indicative of Paul’s desire that there should be unity of the Spirit in the body of Christ. No reference is made to water baptism at all. The verse says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” This baptism must be, therefore, the spiritual baptism, the baptism in the Spirit that was promised by John the Baptist that the One coming after him would accomplish (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33) and Jesus Christ Himself promised in Acts 1:5. This took place in Acts 2 and was followed by the resultant speaking with other tongues; also in Caesarea in Acts 11:16–18; 10:44–46 and in Ephesus with the same manifestation of speaking in other languages (Acts 19:1–7). The purpose of this Spirit baptism is shown in 1 Cor. 12:13 as the incorporation of all believers into the body of Christ, the Church (Eph. 1:22, 23).” (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament(electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers).
Just based upon the definition alone, does it sound like Jesus’ “ONE” NC baptism (Ephs. 4:4-5) is:
A). A water ritual bringing about the forgiveness of sins and changing one’s character and status before God.
B). It’s Christ baptizing and cleansing us by the Holy Spirit who cleanses our hearts and consciences in the blood of Christ – thus changing our condition, character and state – placing us “in Christ.” Thus, through faith we follow & identify with (are baptized into) the truth of Christ’s teachings and doctrine in the NC age.
I personally go with “B.”
2). Various OT types of baptisms & cleansings
Hebrews 6 and 9 informs us that the Hebrew Christians needed to move beyond PHYSICAL OC baptismois(“washings” “ceremonial washings” “ritual washing”) that were imposed upon the bodies and clothing of the priests, people and upon the tabernacle/temple – into the once for all NC blood of Christ which sprinkles/washes the heart and consciences of man.
Exodus 24:6, 8:
Moses (the 1st. High Priest of Israel) sprinkleshalf the blood on the altar with 12 pillars (representing all of Israel) and he sprinkled them with the other half of the blood to seal the Old Covenant.
Aron and his sons (the priests) were to sprinkleblood on the altar and then on their ears along with oil. And then to further sprinkle their priestly garments with blood and oil.
Priests were to wash in a bronze basin or laver before and during the sacrifices. The washing in the laver was not for sanitation purposes but to remind the priests that they needed a pure heart in performing the work of the Lord on behalf of the people. Psalm 24:3-4: Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
The Jews had to ceremonially wash when they came into contact with a leper or a leper was to ceremonial wash when coming back into the community. Because leprosy destroyed the person and separated them from the covenant community, it was a perfect picture of sin. If one was exposed and in the vicinity of a leper – undergoing a baptism/washing was a parable that you came into contact with sin. If one was more intimately exposed to the disease of leprosy, washing in literal water wouldn’t cure or prevent it’s spreading upon the body. After being healed or cleansed of leprosy, the ritual of water baptism/washing still didn’t bring about the healing. The water washing/baptism simply was symbolic that the Jew needed to be separated from sin (which leprosy typified).
Jews were to ceremonial wash if they came into contact with a dead body. A dead or decaying body also pictured sin. One was separated from praising God in the covenant community and thus physical death typified sin and separation.
3). John’s Baptism
Matthew 3:11: “I baptize you with (physical) water for repentance, BUT (a contrast is coming) he who is coming after me is mightier than I,…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit(spiritually) and fire.”
John’s baptism &“fulfilling all righteousness”
The purpose of John’s baptism was to perform a physical ceremonial washing that would make “manifest” “the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29-33). Therefore, it pointed to the spiritual baptism of the Spirit applying the blood of the Lamb to the heart and conscience (Heb. 10:22).
But the Jews ADDED water baptism or proselyte baptism to the OT law. As a Gentile proselyte you were only required to: 1. be circumcised and 2. offer two turtle doves. But the Jews ADDED (in their verbal law) a third step: 3. water baptism by which one was then declared a “new creation” and a member of the OT kingdom.
The Pharisees thought anyone in northern Israel was unclean and needed to undergo a water purification (proselyte) baptism. Jews in the norther area could not teach without this cleansing. “Can anything good come from Nazareth” was the mentality. So, to fulfill their “righteousness” (apart of their civil law at this time) Jesus underwent it as well.
The location of John’s baptism has eschatological significance for Israel. Baptism in the Jordan is pointing to the second exodus motif. Jesus being the new Joshua coming in the land after 40 days and beginning the conquest (driving out evil spirits, refuting the Jew’s oral traditions, etc…).
John’s THEOLOGY on the coming NC baptism of Jesus will usher in has nothing to do with water in fact a sharp contrast from it is given – “I baptize with WATER, BUT… He will baptize with the Holy Spirit”(Mt. 3:11).
The transitional baptism from John’s disciples to Jesus’ is still before the NC an under OC washings/baptisms (Jn. 3; Heb. 9-10).
4). Jesus’ Baptism
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of waterand (better “EVEN”) the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Do not marvel that I …said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
To understand what Jesus and John meant by “water EVEN the Spirit,” we need to: 1. look at the internal evidence in John and 2. Examine Jesus’ OT sources.
- John’s Internal Evidence of a Spiritual Baptism Producing Eternal Life
Jesus gives “a well of waterspringing up to eternal life.”
“it is the Spiritwho gives [eternal] life.”
“…If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said (where? – Ezek. 36:25; Ezek. 47; Zech. 13:1), ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Clearly the rest of John makes obvious that it is Holy Spirit metaphorically as cleansing water that produces eternal life welling up in the believer.
Jesus expects Nicodemus to find His teaching on the new birth from the OT and Jesus NEVER taught on a water baptism to be performed under the New Covenant, but He did teach on Baptism as it pertained to the coming of the Holy Spirit:
“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptizedwith the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Ac 1:4–5; cf. Jn. 7:37-39; Jn. 14-16).
- How Water is Used in the OT
Water was used figurativelyfor salvation or covenant renewal:
In the NC, the “Branch” Messiah gives spiritual water.
Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13:
To forsake Yahweh is to forsake “the fountain of living water.”
In the NC, God will give the thirsty spiritualwaters and food for free – as a description of the NC gospel.
I will sprinkle (washing/baptize)clean wateron you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 AndI will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
*** This passage contains the New Covenant promise of the Holy Spirit as cleansing water that Nicodemus should have known.
Isaiah 51:1, 52:13-15:
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments(wedding garments washed/dyed in the blood of the Lamb – or “putting on Christ”), O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean (the NC “circumcision w/out hands”). …Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. …his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance (obviously Jesus),…so shall he SPRINKLE (i.e. spiritually wash/purify/baptize “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”) many nations.
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple…of the altar. …And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food (and spiritual “healing”).
Since Paul informs us that this temple is the Church (cf. Ezek. 37:27/2 Cor. 6:16), then the living waters from it is what flows from our heart and is Jesus’ OT source as well in John 7:37-39 and Revelation 22:17.
On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sinand uncleanness.
5). Paul’s doctrine on the New Covenant “ONEbaptism”
Parallels / Analogy of Faith Between 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 4:4-6:
“There is one body and one Spirit, according as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in you all (Jew and Gentile),”
1 Corinthians 12:13:
“for also in one Spirit we all to one body were baptized, whether Jews or Greeks, whether servants or freemen, and all into one Spirit were made to drink,”
The parallels are clear:
- “one Spirit,”
- “one body”
- [one] “baptism”
In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Christ baptizes Jew and Gentile by means or through the Holy Spirit. John baptized with water, “BUT” (a contrast is coming from physical water to the Spirit) Jesus would baptize Jew and Gentile (believers in the NC one body) in and through the means of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:11; Mrk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; Acts 1:5). John’s baptism was physical (of which he administered in a physical river) and Jesus’ baptism was spiritual (of which He administers spiritually through the Holy Spirit – the living waters/river Ezek. 36:25; Ezek. 47/Jn. 7:37-39). We drink from the same Spiritual waters of the Spirit which produces eternal life within us.
So, I would understand 1 Corinthians 12:13 as, “for also in one Spirit we all to one body were identified/united/purified/baptized [by Christ the one Lord], whether Jews or Greeks, whether servants or freemen, and all into one Spirit were made to drink,”
While here in Corinthians let’s briefly look at another baptism text:
1 Corinthians 10:2:
“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were united/identified to Moses in the cloud and in the sea…
While John Calvin was a water ritualist, of 1 Corinthians 10:2 he correctly sees this baptism as a baptism into the Old Covenant doctrine or ministry of Moses and his guidance:
“They were, says he, baptized in Moses, that is, under the ministry or guidance of Moses.”
John Gill also a water ritualist, understood this baptism to mean,
“For instance, their following Moses into the sea, which is meant by their being “baptized into him,” was an acknowledgment of their regard unto him, as their guide and governor, as baptism is a following of Christ, who has left us an example that we should tread in his steps; and is an owning him to be our prophet to teach us, and lead us the way; and it is a profession of our faith in him, as our surety and Saviour, and a subjection to him as our King and Governor.”
We are baptized “in Christ” and the New Covenant in a similar way that the Israelites were baptized in Moses and the Old Covenant. Israel trusted the revelation that came through Moses to identify them with him and God to obey the covenant and bring them into the Promised Land. The anti-type being we trust the revelation and doctrine that come through Christ and identify our lives in His doctrine of eternal life and trust Him that we have inherited all of the spiritual blessing that come through Him.
Before leaving 1 Corinthians, we should probably briefly look at 1 Corinthians 1 and see if Paul water baptized and or saw water baptism as a part of the gospel.
Let’s first look at the Young’s Literal Translation:
1 Corinthians 1:13-17 YLT: “…was Paul crucified for you? Or to the name of Paul were ye baptized; I give thanks to God that no one of you did I baptize, except Crispus and Gaius—that no one may say that to my own name I did baptize; and I did baptize also Stephanas’ household—further, I have not known if I did baptize any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but—to proclaim good news; not in wisdom of discourse, that the cross of the Christ may not be made of none effect;”
And now from a Sovereign Grace Full Preterist (Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks) who had a Phd in Biblical languages and spent many weeks diagraming this passage and came up with the following translation that makes Paul’s argument more consistent,
1 Corinthians 1:13-17 (Dr. Kelley Birks):
“…was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized (passive voice) in the name of Paul (as Christ passively baptizes us spiritually [w/out water] through the Holy Spirit? The implied or rhetorical answer is “no” none of them have). I am thankful that I none of you I baptized. Surely not even Crispus or Gaius. Lest anyone should say I have baptized in my own name. But even the rest of the house of stephanas I baptized not. I would know if I baptized some other. For Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel.”
According to YLT Paul’s argument is inconsistent and portrays him as having a bad memory. Some who do not believe water baptism is applicable today believe Paul in rare cases performed proselyte water baptism, but did not see this as “preaching the gospel.”
Dr. Kelley Birks’ translation is more consistent and does not see Paul baptizing anyone in water because it was not apart of “preaching the gospel.” I favor Birks’ translation, but either way, Paul was thankful he didn’t baptize (many or any) because water baptism was not a part of preaching the gospel.
Is Romans 6:3-5 Teaching a Physical Water Baptism or Paul’s New Covenant “ONE” Spiritual Baptism Ephesians 4:5/1 Corinthians 12:13?
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been
baptized/merged/united into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united
(Greek – súmphutos merged/grafted into, to be one) with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.6 We know that our old self was old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
I agree with Martin Lloyd Jones as far as not even remotely seeing water baptism in this text,
“Indeed I go further and suggest that to argue that the Apostle has water baptism in his mind in any shape or form here is to give a prominence to baptism that the Apostle Paul never gives to it. . . . The conclusion therefore at which I arrive is that baptism by water is not in the mind of the Apostle at all in these two verses; instead it is the baptism wrought by the Spirit. It is the plain, explicit teaching of I Corinthians 12:13, and indeed in the whole of the chapter, as it is in other places where the Apostle treats of this particular aspect of truth. And I argue further that the use of this term ‘planted together’, in verse 5, supports what I am saying. All are agreed that the idea of planting has nothing to do with baptism at all; it is rather the idea of grafting a shoot into a tree. ‘Planted together’ – in unity, identification – that is the meaning of the term. Paul is not using the figure of baptism in any shape or form there, but is still emphasizing this unity. That also is the work of the Spirit.”
When we follow the contextual flow of Paul to be examined leading in to Romans 6, follow the correct definition of baptize and understand the parallel word he uses for it sumphutos– all this points to a spiritual baptism which changes our sinful condition before God and unites us to Christ’s righteousness.
1. “Baptized (Greek baptizo: to come under the influence of or to merge into union with) into Christ & His death” – Here baptism means to be “brought into UNION with or to be brought under the controlling influence of a person which results in a changed condition.” This is supported by the parallel word “united with him in a death like his” (sumphutos) later in the context. Through our faith in Christ, we too underwent a “blood baptism” of death with and in Him. Christ and His death are the controlling agents or sources of influence in this baptism which brings about a change of condition resulting in resurrection or newness of life. We have been “submerged and or dipped repeatedly like a cloth that has been soaked through and through having come out of that process a different color or in a different condition than before.”
As Christ died to sin daily and perfectly abiding in the Father (always doing His will), so too we are called to die daily to sin and abide in the Son.
2. “United with Him” (Greek súmphutos:grafted into – as a branch into a tree). We were once like a branch in the tree of Adam whose sap source (union or identification chapter 5) was only making us capable of sinning. But now we are like a branch that has been broken off the tree of Adam and has been “ingrafted into” the Tree of Life — whose life source is the Holy Spirit giving us the ability we never had before – to bear forth the fruits of the Spirit and walk in the power of resurrection and newness of life.
“Baptized into his death” and “United into His death” are grammatically and contextually parallel concepts and help us follow the proper definition of baptizo here in identifying it as the controlling influence in our spiritual conversion, producing our spiritual union and condition in Christ — and not a water ceremony.
Baptizo here in Romans 6 is also in the passive voice. When water baptism is in view (ex. John the Baptist’s baptism or Acts 8 with the Eunuch and Philip) , the voice is active because the one submitting is active (planning, going to the place, subjecting to) and the one pouring, dipping or dunking is actively doing the baptism (actively “with hands” v. NC spiritual baptism in the passive voice “withOUT hands”).
Trinity Structure Not Lost in Our Exegesis of Ephesians 4:4-6
- Verse 4 – The Holy Spirit unifies the Body (Jew/Gentile).
- Verse 5 – The Lord (Son) is the fulfillment of the NC system of faith and gives the gift of faith baptizing through the means of the Holy Spirit (both unifying Jew/Gentile).
- Verse 6 – The Father is over all (even Son and Spirit) and through all (in Jew/Gentile).
PHYSICAL Sacraments Not the Issue
Commentators who have taken Ephesians 4:5 to be water baptism, often wonder why or try and explain why, the Lord’s Supper is not mentioned or involved in the text as well. The obvious answer is that the sacrament of water baptism isn’t even the issue in Ephesians 4:5, so don’t worry about another sacrament not being mentioned.
Again – Paul’s New Covenant Spiritual Exegesis
There is nothing in Ephesians itself that would point us to obeying a literal water ritual for salvation or even as a sign of salvation. Paul tells the Ephesians (and by extension us) that they have been raised from a spiritual death and seated in the heavenly realm. He tells them that they are a spiritual body or NC New Man/Temple. And most importantly, Christians have been saved by grace through faith (even this was a gift) apart from works.
Paul elsewhere confirms in Colossians that Gentile Christians are not under the Old Covenant rituals of circumcision or water baptisms/washings that the Judaizers wanted to place them under, because they had been circumcised and baptized “without hands” (Cols. 2:11-14). Selah.
“in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized/ purified/ mergedor unitedinto Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one(i.e. the “one body” by the “one Spirit” & “one baptism”) in Christ Jesus – (this fit’s perfectly with the “one [spiritual] baptism” of Ephs. 4:5 / 1 Cor. 12:13; Roms. 6:3-5).
The putting on of garments and sprinkling of the nations of Isaiah 51-52 according to Paul is “putting on Christ” through the baptism that comes through the Spirit which places us in the one body.
“In himyou were also circumcised. It was not a circumcision performed by human hands. But it was a removal of the corrupt nature in the circumcision performed by Christ. This happened whenyou were placed in the tomb with Christthrough baptism/union/induction. In baptism you were also brought back to life with Christ through faith in the power of God, who brought him back to life.”
Does it make any logical sense that Paul would condemn the Judaizer’s belief that faith in Christ is not enough because one had to obey a covenant ritual (i.e circumcision as “another gospel”) — only to then turn around and affirm faith in Christ is not enough, one must obey another physical covenant ritual (i.e. water baptism) in order to be saved or justified by God?!?
The Greek supports Colossians 2:12a being translated as “you were circumcised whilebeingburied with Him in baptism.” This would argue that spiritual baptismal regeneration or that burial with Christ in baptism is synonymous with the spiritual circumcision made without hands.
Gentile Conversion Under the NC – Whereas Romans 6:3-4 speaks of death, burial and resurrection, Colossians 2:11-12 speaks of circumcision, burial and resurrection.
|Romans 6:3-4||Colossians 2:11-13|
|Spiritual union with Christ described as a spiritual baptism||Spiritual union with Christ described as a spiritual circumcision & spiritual baptism|
|1. Death||1. Circumcision|
|2. Burial||2. Burial|
|3. Resurrection||3. Resurrection|
Spiritual circumcision, περιτομὴν ἀχειροποιήτην, and burial in baptism are both figures for the same process, namely union with Christ in his death. Both circumcision and baptism or washing was performed on the 8thday and under the OC & traditions of verbal law were necessary for Gentiles to be in Israel’s “Kingdom of God.” Herethese familiar physical proselyte rituals are described as spiritual realities performed without hands. Gentiles were no longer in “bondage” to these “elements.”
Paul is consistent – NC salvation “in Christ” involves a SPIRITUAL “Putting on of Christ” (Gals. 3:27), undergoing a SPIRITUAL circumcision (Cols. 2:11), and a SPIRITUAL baptism (Gals. 3:27/Cols. 2:12/Ephs. 4:5), which are necessary to SPIRITUALLY place us into the “ONE Body” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Isaiah 52:1-2, 15 – New Covenant salvation involves:
1). Putting on spiritual garments (Gals. 3:27-28).
2). Being spiritually circumcised (Cols. 2:11).
3). Being spiritually raised (Cols. 2:11-13).
4). Being spiritually sprinkled / washed / baptized (Cols. 2:12)
Church of Christ Preterists who interpret all (1-3) of these New Covenant realities as spiritual except #4 and must still have a literal water baptism embarrass themselves.
6). John and Peter on baptism
…Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”
“And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
|First Typological Exodus||Second Anti-Type Exodus|
|Israel & a great multitude come out of tribulation (Ex. 4:31 LXX)||A great multitude come out of the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14)|
|They are required to wash their garments before approaching God (Ex. 19:10).||Garments must be washed in the blood / righteousness of Christ (Rev. 7:14).|
|They are saved / covered by the sprinkling of blood (Ex. 28:8)||They are saved/covered by the blood of Christ (Rev. 7:14).|
|God as husband provided physical food (mana), water (from the rock) etc…. (Ex. 19-24; Lev. 23:40).||Christ as Groom/Husband provides spiritual bread, water etc… for us (Rev. 2:17; Rev. 21:6-10).|
1 Peter 3:20-21
1 Peter 3:20-21 is a common passage for the Church of Christ cult whereby they believe unless one is not water baptized they cannot be saved and receive forgiveness of sins. They assume the passage is discussing water baptism and even other denominations make this same mistake.
Baptized in the Pitch & Ark an OT Type
Let’s first look at the OT type. Noah was commanded to take the pitch (red in color / blood from the tree) and COVER (baptize) the ark within and without it, in order to keep it afloat — functioning as a barrier from the wrath of God (the water).
Pastor Jim Brown following Strong’s writes,
“Baptized- Greek: baptizo- to make whelmed; to cover all over; from: bapto. – to whelm or cover wholly with fluid; a common word used among the Greeks signifying to stain or dye a garment; the predominant signification of the word means to cover over with a stain or dye.
I Peter 3:20, 21– in the days of Noah– the ark was a preparing-eight souls were saved by water– the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us– by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
save – Greek: sozo- to protect and deliver safely from one place to another without harm.
Genesis 6:14– (God speaking to Noah) Make thee an ark of gopher wood 1pitch it within and without with 2pitch.
1pitch (verb)- Hebrew: Kaphar – to cover; appease; atonement; purge; pardon
2pitch (noun)- Hebrew: Kopher – to cover with bitumen from the henna plant; a stain colored coating to make boats watertight; ransom, redemption price.
Ephesians 4:5– One Lord, One faith, one Baptism
The water was the wrath of God in the story of the flood. It was the pitch that was the picture of New Testament baptism. Baptism (the pitch) saved (delivered) Noah and his family upon the waters (the judgment of God). Baptize, pitch and atonement all mean to “cover with a stain or dye”. Once a year the high priest would enter into the Most Holy Place and sprinkle the blood of the atonement lamb (a type of the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God) covering the Ark of the Covenant (baptizing with blood – Heb. 9:7; Lev. 23:27). “Without shedding of blood is no remission (Heb. 9:22)”. Gods divine presence hovered upon the mercy seat (kapporeth-from kaphar). If the Lamb was without spot or blemish (a type of Christ, the Lamb without sin), the wrath, of God would be appeased (Kaphar). God would look through the blood-stained covering of the mercy seat (on top of the Ark of the Covenant) at the broken law inside and the sins of the people would be forgiven. Israel was saved by baptism (covered with stain) from the wrath of God. The pitch was the covering stain (baptism/atonement) that protected and delivered (saved) Noah and his family from the wrath (water) of God. The pitch (baptism) kept the ark from sinking throughout the judgment of God. In like manner, the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God (John 1:29) covers and stains the believer (baptizing him), protecting and delivering (saving) him through the fiery baptism (Matt: 3:11; I Peter 1:7) of God’s judgment. Paul said in Rom. 5:9, “–being now justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him. John said, “He washed us from our sins in his own blood (Rev. 1:5).” The one true baptism is Holy Spirit baptism in the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, covering his elect, atoning for their sin, and calling them to obedience (I Peter 1:2) as he delivers them from the wrath of God. Baptism (staining of Christ’s blood) doth also now save us (deliver us through wrath).”
The “ONE [spiritual] Baptism” – the NT Anti-type
Being baptized by Christ through the means of the Spirit (the ONE spiritual baptism of Ephs. 4:4-6/1 Cor. 12:13/Rms. 6/Cols. 2:11-14) is having the Spirit cover us with the blood and authority of Christ which produces a good conscience before God and brings about the remission of sins. Salvation was still a process for the first century Christians (Christ as the High Priest hadn’t come out of the heavenly temple yet Heb. 9:26-28) and they were also still being saved through the trial of fire and suffering (birth pains).
In the midst of the Christians being persecucuted by the trial of fire – God kept and purified their faith through His power (even in the midst of martrdom).
When it came to the baptism of fire for Israel between AD 67 – 70 “not a hair on the head” of believers would be touched. Just as Christ stood with the three friends of Daniel – while they watched the fire burn those that had bound them, so too the Jewish Church fled Jerusalem when Christ told them too, and God rendered tribulation upon their enemies.
Like the red pitch that covered the ark, so the blood of Christ covered and preserved the faith of the early Christians in the midst of their persecutions giving them a pure conscience before God and man.
The Rebuke and Exhortation to the Church of Christ Cult
1 Peter 3:20-21 has nothing to do with water baptism according to the coc cult – ugh. They have water on the brain and trying to get people dunked in water, while we have the REAL “ONE baptism” of the Spirit which COVERS us in His blood (it is a propitiation from His wrath and covers us with His righteousness) on ours. We have set our minds on things above and that of which the spiritual man meditates and hopes in, while they on fleshly rituals which profit nothing and cannot save the soul.
7). Baptism in Hebrews
“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
The theology of Hebrews couldn’t be cleaer – moving from the inferior physical OC types and shadows to their “better” spiritual and inward realities. The Old Covenant types of baptisms or sprinklings (Heb. 6:2; 9:10) included blood, water, ashes and oil. The New Covenant anti-type baptism is all about the blood of Christ which sprinkles and cleanses the conscience and heart before God (Heb. 9:14; 10:22).
8). Baptism in Acts.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spiritnot many days from now.”
This is the “ONE” NC spiritual “baptism” of Ephesians 4:5/1 Corinthians 12:13 and points us back to Matthew 3:11 and John 3:5.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized (i.e. converted cf. 3:19; identified/united in or covered in) every one of you upon (the authority of) the name of Jesus Christ into the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is the “ONE” New Covenant spiritual baptism which places us in union w/ Christ producing the forgiveness of sins and a purified heart and conscience.
Acts 2:38 – Where’s the Water?
This is in the passive voice whereas when water baptism is usually in view it is in the active voice.
It would take longer than one day for the disciples to water baptize 3,000.
It was Pentecost (a high holy day) and “work” such as water baptism would be a violation of the law.
The Romans imported scarce water into Jerusalem for drinking. The Pharisees and Rome would not allow Christians to use their scarce water for this purpose.
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized (by the Spirit & placed into the body of Christ), both men and women.
The baptism is in the passive voice here.
(Peter & John) came down (from Jerusalem) and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 forhe had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes in the book of Acts when some believe in Christ and were baptized in the Spirit they spoke in tongues while at other times they were still baptized through the Spirit, but would experience a secondary work of the falling of the Spirit by the laying of hands by the Apostles. In this case, being Samaritans, God wanted the Apostles to get a hands on experience to confirm that God was saving all kinds of men – even the Samaritans.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
Here the baptism is in the active voice because it’s a water baptism.
This is most likely a Gentile eunuch(not Philip) who wants to be ritually cleansed in water – which is all he ever knew.
Philip accommodates his request just as Elisha accommodated Naaman’s request to take dirt home with him (2 Kings 5).
This is around AD 35 before Paul’s conversion and his revelations on how Gentiles will be saved and Peter’s vision (Acts 10) on how to deal w/ Gentile converts.
Acts 9:17 (Saul’s Conversion):
Paul was “filled” and thus “baptized in the Spirit” (passive voice).
Acts 22:16: (Saul’s Conversion or Baptism Cont.):
“Why tarry? (what are you waiting for Paul? Everything you need so that you can go preach to the Gentiles has been done for you). Having risen, having been baptized (by the Spirit – passive middle voice – not water), having washed away your sins, having already called upon the name of the Lord.”
“Cannot anyone hold back (dam up or stop) the water? Baptize notthese who have received the Holy Spirit even as we. On the contrary he commanded (or better – defined or prescribed) them to have been baptized(aorist tense, passive voice by the Spirit not water) in the name of the Lord;…”
Jews with Peter wanted to ritually cleanse these unclean Gentiles, but Peter having had his vision that they are clean in God’s eyes (vss. 9-19) and seeing that they had already been baptized in the Holy Spirit — stopsthe water from coming.
In Acts 11 Peter gives an “orderly” (sequential) account of what happened with Cornelius and his testimony addresses the following:
- No mention of water baptism.
- Does mention the “Holy Spirit falling upon them” (Acts 11:15/Acts 10:44).
- Peter remembers Jesus’ teaching in Acts 1:4 “(Peter) remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 11:16).
Acts 16:13-15 (Lydia & her household):
“And on the sabbath day we went forth without the gate by a river side, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down, and spake unto the women that were come together.
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul. And afterward having been baptized (aorist passive) and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”
There is no water mentioned in relation to the baptism. And again this is in the passive voice which suggests the baptism of the Spirit and not water.
Acts 16:27-34(Jailer & household):“Sirs what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. …And was baptized (passive voice) he and all his houseat once / immediately / instantly / presently(Greek parachrema)…”
There is no water mentioned in relation to this baptism.
They were all baptized “instantly.” Perhaps in a similar way that the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 disciples in Acts 2 or upon Cornelius & his family in Acts 10.
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, into what then were ye baptized (aorist passive)? And they said, into John’s baptism. And Paul said, John baptized (aorist active) with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized/identified/consecrated (aoristpassive) into the name (cause or authority) of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tonguesand prophesied.”
Again, these were religious men having some connection with John the Baptist’s baptism. Once they hear the gospel they are baptized in the Spirit and then by the laying on of the Apostle’s hands the Holy Spirit falls upon them.
The Church of Christ and Roman Catholic cults (along with many other ritualist denominations) have had to read into Ephesians 4:4-5 a “one baptism” of WATER, when there is no exegetical grounds to do so. As Christians we have one allegiance and identification and that is found in our union “in Christ” which has nothing to do with obeying or being bound to, a physical ritual.
For those claiming to be Christians and wanting to place men under a physical ritualistic gospel for justification, is according to Paul, to preach “another gospel” and be numbered among the “false brethren” (Galatians). This is not a light matter.
How much bloodshed and divisions within religion has been spilled over baptism and the Lord’s Supper? How much division over eschatology? God in His good and sovereign providence has guided you to this article to equip you to be a true “Reformer” and “Peace Maker.” Count the cost, but also the rich blessings!
The Church needs to do more outreach in the community inviting the poor and lame to our New Covenant wedding Banquet and Love Feasts by which we can feed them physically and spiritually. If Churches actually did this instead of focusing on outward physical rituals, perhaps we could eliminate government food stamps and unnecessary government social programs? Actually, placing the focus where it needs to be (dining with Christ & living this out to the world) instead of fighting over unbiblical modes of physical rituals is what New Covenant Kingdom living was and is meant to be. Selah.
CONCLUDING THE NEW COVENANT SABBATH,
PASSOVER/LORD’S SUPPER & BAPTISM
Since the Church has missed that Christ’s Second Coming happened when Jesus and the NT writers predicted, this has led to other divisions and fighting over such issues as the Sabbath, the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
We have followed a Biblical and Preterist hermeneutic. After looking at the OT sources of the New Covenant Sabbath, Passover and Baptism promises and how the NT authors develop them, we have concluded that they have been spiritually fulfilled in the Kingdom today. We rest in the FINISHED work of Christ on our behalf, feast upon His faithfulness, partake and fellowship as God’s NC Passover “one unleavened loaf/body” and have been washed in the blood of Christ.
Legalists and false religion will continue to fight over and seek to control their followers in their false understanding of how the New Covenant sabbath and “sacraments” are to be implemented today. This was prevalent in Paul’s day, and yet he fought the Judaizers in their attempts to place Gentile believers in “bondage” to the “elements” of the Old Covenant law concerning sabbaths, foods, circumcision and baptism. I will likewise fight against modern day Judaizers such as the Church of Christ who teach a covenant ritual of water baptism is necessary to be placed in Christ. Or the Seventh Day Adventists or some within the Reformed community who impose their false understanding of the “sabbath” upon their people.