Here are some meditations I gave on Facebook concerning what it really means to partake in the Lord’s Supper or feast upon the Living Bread /Lamb of God today “anew” and “fulfilled in the Kingdom” (Lk. 22:15-18). Not only this, but Paul’s “ONE Baptism” (Ephs. 4:5/1 Cor. 12:13/Rms. 6/Cols. 2:11-12) is not of physical “water” like John’s baptism, but of the “Holy Spirit” which places us in the ONE New Covenant Body (Mt. 3:11/Jn. 3:5=Ezek. 36:25-27). The Reformation did not reform the Church in the area of eschatology nor the meaning of the New Covenant so-called “sacraments.” This article accomplished at both.
This will need to be edited and then possibly produced in a little book. But for now, you can still enjoy the benefits of my “meditations” upon these subjects.
PART 1 – THE NEW COVENANT PASSOVER / LORD’S SUPPER / LOVE FEASTS / WEDDING FEAST
The words and doctrine Jesus gave were “spirit” and “life.” Jesus identified Himself as the heavenly bread Israel ate and Paul identifies the water that came from the Rock in the wilderness wandering to have come from Christ. Even these physical forms of nourishment were types of Christ and parking of eternal life and thus “never thirsting,” “never being hungry,” and thus “never die.” Jesus equates Him being the spiritual bread with His flesh. Therefore, Jesus’ appeals to eat of His flesh and drink His blood in order to be His disciples were metaphorical and spiritual teaching and set the stage to understanding how Passover and the Lord’s Supper is to be followed in the New Covenant age.
When tempted by Satan to turn a rock into bread, Jesus points out that to read and obey God’s will as revealed in His Word is the real food God’s people need to concern themselves with.
He tells His religious opponents that He has meat/food to eat that they don’t know of which He identifies as doing the Father’s will.
Putting this altogether we clearly see that to “eat” of Christ as our bread or His flesh is to place our faith in Him and thus obey and do His will as the divine Logos or Word. To follow His doctrine is to partake and eat of His or be baptized spiritually (saturated into a changed condition).
To “drink His blood” is simply another way of saying the same thing.
Luke 22:15-18 Last Passover / 1 Corinthians 10-11 the Lord’s Supper Spiritually “Fulfilled” “Anew” in the “Kingdom” Between AD 30 – AD 70 and Beyond!
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.
Paul informs us that the unleavened “bread” is the corporate body of Christ of which we partake of when we gather together and fellowship (1 Cor. 10-12). Scripturally, the terms “the Lord’s Supper” used by Paul, Jude’s “feast of charity,” and Luke’s “breaking of bread” from “house to house” with “gladness and singleness of heart” are all the same thing. The early Church from AD 30 – AD 70 showed the Lord’s death until He came in AD 70, by eating full meals and engaging in the study of Scripture and prayer.
In Jewish culture the evening supper was their long meal and time for fellowship. The Christians were to pull their resources together and have a potluck of sorts whereby the more wealthy brethren helped provide for the poorer brethren and to be a means of outreach in inviting the poor and lame unbelievers to these feasts as well. In 1 Corinthians 11 we learn that they were abusing this meal and selfishly partaking to the point where they were full and “drunk” while the poor went “hungry.” The irony is that those that ate the most were dying due to their selfishness, just as Ananias and his wife Sapphira died for their selfishness and lying to the Holy Spirit in Acts 4. This was no longer the “Lord’s Supper,” the Corinthians were engaging themselves in, but was becoming a mockery of Christ and Christianity with the poor and unbelievers coming only to see full gluttons and drunks who ate their portion of food and wine. This was selfish and disgraceful behavior on display and Christ and Paul wanted nothing to do with it. So Paul has to remind them of what it was to partake of Christ’s body and to drink of His wine (that is to humbly partake in the “ONE Body” – the Church).
Prior to AD 70 (before the “Lord’s Coming”), the Jewish believers did partake of the Old Covenant Passover, but were to do it by remembering how Christ had inaugurated the New Covenant through His blood. But of course after AD 70 and the “soon vanishing” of the Old Covenant, the Church did continue in their agape or love feasts – but partook of it with Christ “anew in the Kingdom.”
Luke 22:15-30: “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 in my kingdom and sit on thrones, 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 Judaizers and Roman Catholic Church alive and well.
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” period: http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/john/john_13_01_last-supper.htm?fbclid=IwAR0nRWM9M5P2PW5Xx2uprkNeXDqV814CoOepaxP5KGVKaHg_PdhFSkSQPMM.
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).
1. 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.
2. The words, “I will deliver you from slavery to them” was identified as the cup of judgment or deliverance.
3. 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.”
4. 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 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).
Even if someone wants to deny that Paul is drawing from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24, the fact remains that both Jesus and Paul are referring to some of the same OT prophecies concerning the Second Coming and resurrection. Jesus said He came to fulfill all the the law and prophets and it would “all” be fulfilled at His coming in His “this generation” (Mt. 5:17-18; Lk. 21:22-32). And since Paul taught no other things except that which could be found in the law and prophets, then his sources are Jesus’ sources. Mathison’s Postmillennial theory that Jesus didn’t discuss His “actual” Second Coming in the gospels, but rather Paul was the one God had develope this doctrine is a joke on many levels. It separates the unity between Jesus’ eschatology and Paul’s and it ignores the fact that both are teaching that they are getting their eschatology from the same OT law and prophets!
“…WE who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord…” (v. 16)
|1 Thessalonians 4||Luke 21/Matthew 24|
|“We who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord.” (v. 15)||“When you see…,” “…your redemption is drawing near,” “This generation.” (Lk. 21:20-32)|
Partial Preterist Keith Mathison argues: Some have said that since Paul used the word “we” in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 17, Paul expected the events of 1 Thessalonians 4 to occur within his own lifetime. “The problem with this interpretation is that in several other epistles Paul talks as though he could die soon.” Therefore “Paul [was] simply using the pronoun ‘we’ in a general way to mean ‘we Christians.’ As far as Paul knew, Christ could have returned in his lifetime, but there was nothing that demanded He do so” (WSTTB?, 194).
To my knowledge, no preterist thinks that Paul assumed that he himself would be included in the group of believers who would remain alive to the coming of the Lord. If I were to say, “We who live long enough to see the year 2030,” there is no reason to think that I would be assuming that I myself would be among the living in 2030. My only assumption would be that some of us today would be alive in 2030. In the same way, Paul’s words imply only that he knew that some of
his contemporaries would still be alive when Christ returned, as Christ Himself promised would be the case in Matthew 16:27–28; 24:34.
According to Postmillennialists like DeMar and Mathison, all of Paul’s “we,” “you,” and “our” statements in 1 and 2 Thessalonians refer to Paul’s own first-century audience and address Christ’s coming in AD 70—except for the statements in 1 Thessalonians 4 (“the rapture”). Mathison and DeMar magically decide that “we” in 1 Thessalonians 4 means something other than what it means everywhere else in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Suddenly in chapter 4, “we” includes Christians who potentially will not be alive for a million years from today. Now let us move on from arbitrary Mathisonian constructs to a biblical look at “the rapture” passage, 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17.
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven…” (1 Thess. 4:16)
The “thorny problem” is solved when the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonains 4 are accepted, the first century audience expectancy is accepted, and apocalyptic language is accepted in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 just as it is in Matthew 24 (basic Hermeneutics 101 observations).
|1 Thessalonians 4||Matthew 24|
|1). The Lord comes down from heaven (v. 16).||1). The Lord comes in or upon the clouds of heaven (27-30).|
|2) Since this is the same event as Mt. 24:27-30, why isn’t it considered “orthodox” to interpret Paul as using apocalyptic language?||2). That Jesus is using spiritual and apocalyptic language here is accepted as “orthodoxy.”|
How had God described His “coming down from heaven” to “reveal Himself” (2 Thess. 2:7) and “rescue” (1 Thess. 1:10) His people being persecuted in the past?
Apocalyptic language Psalm 18
“6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. 7 The earth trembled and quaked (literally?), and the foundations of the mountains shook (literally?); they trembled because he was angry. 8 Smoke rose from his nostrils (literally?); consuming fire came from his mouth (remember 2 Thess. 1:7 – Jesus is “revealed from heaven in blazing fire…”) , burning coals blazed out of it. 9 He parted the heavens and came down (literally?); dark clouds were under his feet. 10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. 12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced (literally?), with hailstones and bolts of lightning. 13 The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded (a literal voice?). 14He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 15 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare (literally?) at your rebuke, LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
Christ is coming here in 1 Thessalonains 4:16-17 as God had come from heaven and on the clouds in the OT – ex. Did God come on a literal cloud when he judged Egypt by means of the Assyrian’s in 670 B.C.: “Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt” (Isa. 19:1)?
OT Echo to 1 Thessalonians 4:16
Other than the trumpet gathering and resurrection of Isaiah 27:12-13, G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson connect this coming of the Lord “from heaven” with Isaiah 2:10-12’s “in that day” “Day of the Lord” judgment,
“The main clause of 1 Thess. 4:16, “because the Lord himself will come down from heaven,” recalls…the prophetic literature of the OT that envisions “the day of the Lord,” when God will come to judge the wicked and save the righteous (Isa. 2:10–12;…) (Weima, J. A. D. (2007). 1-2 Thessalonians. In Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (p. 880). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos).
But Beale and Carson also connect 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 with Isaiah 2,
“This (in context – giving the Thessalonians relief from their Jewish persecutors) will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out (excommunicated [from the heavenly Temple] as they had done to the Christians) from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”
But let’s quote the passage in context,
“This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”
Here we clearly see that when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven, it is for the purpose of giving “relief” to first century Christians who were being persecuted by Jews who were filling up the measure of their sins (1 Thess. 2:14-16). At the same time He was going to give relief to these first century Christians, by judging or “repaying” their Jewish persecutors with the same kind of affliction and pressure they were giving them. He did this when by laying a trap for them when they made their journey to Jerusalem and were convinced by the false prophets to stay within the city and were judged with His “wrath” between AD 66 – AD 70. Jesus taught the time of vindication and the judgment for the living and the dead in Matthew 23 would be in His “this generation.” And the time of vindicating the first century Church pictured as a persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8 would be “quickly” and not 2,000 plus years and counting.
Of this passage Beale and Carson write,
“eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” This description clearly echoes the triple refrain of Isa. 2:10, 19, 21, where on the day of the Lord the wicked are commanded to hide themselves behind rocks and in caves “from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might whenever he will rise to terrify the earth.” (Ibid. 885).
So since both 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 fulfill the coming of the Lord “from heaven” in the judgment found in Isaiah 2, let’s examine when Jesus and John see Isaiah 2 being fulfilled.
Jesus – Luke 23:27-30:
27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us (from Isa. 2:19 and Hos. 10:8).
There’s a consensus among the commentators that this passage was fulfilled in God’s judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70.
John – Revelation 6:15-17:
“15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us[a] from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
Postmillennialists correctly tell us that every reference to the coming of the Lord in Revelation was said to be fulfilled “soon,” “at hand,” “quickly” or “about to be” fulfilled in AD 70.
This is when the martyrs blood would be vindicated in just – “a little while longer” (vss. 10-11).
Concerning Isaiah 2; Revelation 6; and 2 Thessalonians 1, Gentry argues that Christ had to come in judgment in AD 70 to vindicate those being persecuted in Revelation 1-3 & Revelation 6 because if He hadn’t (per futurism), God would be “mocking their [first century] circumstances.” Gentry also appeals to Matt. 23-24 in developing the AD 70 time-frame for the fulfillment of the Thessalonians to be relieved and vindicated from their Jewish persecutors in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-20. But this begs the obvious heremeneutical question – as to why doesn’t 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 also form the foundation for Christ’s coming to relieve the Thessalonians from their first century Jewish persecutors?!?
If futurism’s 2,000+ year delay of Christ’s coming creates a “cruel mockery” for the persecuted in the book of Revelation, then why doesn’t Gentry’s futuristic 2000+ years delay of Christ’s coming to relieve the Thessalonians and judge their persecutors in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 create a “cruel mockery” for their first century “circumstances?” Again, this is why Gentry’s critics charge him with inconsistent hermeneutics and holding to a view that only serves as a stepping stone to Full Preterism.
Premise #1 – If it is true and orthodox to believe that Luke 23:27-30; Revelation 6:10-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7 all fulfill the “last days” “in that day” judgment of Isaiah 2.
Premise #2 – And if it is true and orthodox to believe that 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7 are the same and ONE Second Coming coming event and that both passages fulfill the “last days” “in that day” judgment of Isaiah 2 (Full Preterists agree with Amillennialists and Premillennialists),…
Premeise #2 – And if it is also true and orthodox to believe that 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7 fulfills Isaiah 2’s “last days” “in that day” judgment in AD 70 (Full Preterists agree with Partial Preterists such as Milton Terry, Mike Bull, N.T. Wright; Gary DeMar [2 Thess. 1] on this point),…
Conclusion – Then it necessarily follows and is also true and orthodox to believe that the ONE Second Coming event of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 fulfilled the “last days” “in that day” judgment of Isaiah 2 in AD 70 just as 2 Thessalonians 1:7 was fulfilled at this time.
“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 loose 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/
The Wedding Feast & Resurrection in the New Covenant Age – Post AD 70
10 When Jesus heard this [expression of the Gentile’s faith], he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west [Gentiles] and recline at the table [wedding feast of Isa. 25:6-9] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven [in the resurrection], 12 while the sons of the kingdom [Pharisees and unbelieving Jews] will be cast out into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
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.
We Celebrate the New Covenant Passover / Lord’s Supper / Wedding Feast / Resurrection Spiritually Today in the Kingdom.
The “Sacrament” of a Literal Water Baptism or Pauls “ONE [Spiritual] Baptism?
I have already addressed Jesus’ and Paul’s “ONE baptism” to not have anything to do with dunking, dipping or sprinkling in physical water. John baptized with water, but Jesus would baptize His body spiritually with the water and cleansing of the Holy Spirit whereby He would sprinkle our hearts with the blood of Christ.
To be a member of the Old Covenant kingdom of Israel, one was circumcised, washed in water and had two turtle doves offered on his account. Is not membership in the SPIRITUAL New Covenant Israel of God and Kingdom a circumcision and baptism “WITHOUT HANDS” and His sacrifice and blood spiritually sprinkled on our hearts (Cols. 2:11-12/Dan. 2; Heb. 9-10:22)?!?
Temple Theology and the Two So-called Physical “Sacraments” of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and How They are Truly and Spiritually Fulfilled in the ONE New Covenant Temple/Man Today
The NC “ONE baptism” (Ephs. 4:5/Mt. 3:11/Jn. 3:5) and partaking of the “Passover” “anew” or when it is “fulfilled in the kingdom” (Lk. 22:15-18) AND the ONE Temple / Man (Ephs. 2-3) — are the spiritual anti-types to two OT types which are spiritually fulfilled in the mind, heart and conscience (i.e. that which the what the ark represents). Hebrews tells us the ark is our heart spiritually sprinkled with the blood of Christ which produces a clean conscience (Heb. 9-10:22). This is Jesus’ NC baptism “with the Holy Spirit” which places us in the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13/Ephs. 4:5/Ezek. 36:25). There were other items in the Ark which point to fulfilling the Passover or Last Supper typology as well.
The manna which Jesus tells us He is (the “TRUE bread” or “Hidden Manna”) – which we must eat to have “eternal life” (Jn. 6 & Rev. 2:17). Thus BOTH of these alleged physical “sacraments” were spiritually being fulfilled between AD 30 – AD 70 through the inauguration of Christ’s Kingdom in AD 30 –> to bringing the ONE NC Temple/Man (the NC kingdom) to it’s “maturity” in AD 70. Bringing the kingdom to her maturity and fulfillment does not take her BACK to physical rituals and ceremonies (as was performed under the OC).
There were other things in the ark such as the law, Arrons staff budding and possibly oil used by the Priests to anoint the Temple. God has written his law on our hearts and “causes” us to obey it through His power in the NC baptism (Ezek. 36:25-27). The staff budding was possibly a reference to the Tree of Life. The oil – being the Holy Spirit given to us as an anointing to continue in the truth as 1 John points out. Hebrews tells us not only that our hearts are the fulfillment of the ark, but that the Holy Place was a type of the “then present” OC transitional age and the OC people of God while entering behind the veil into the Most Holy Place was symbolic of entering into the NC and the NC people of God (Heb. 9). When the “first” Holy Place was removed in AD 70, then ONLY the NC Most Holy Place would be standing which is the picture John gives us in Revelation when the OC Harlot city/Wife [Babylon where the Lord was crucified Rev. 11:8] is judged and the NC Wife is consummated with Her Groom (Rev. 21:16). Daniel 9:24-27 assures us that when the first OC Temple and city was destroyed in AD 70 God, was going to “anoint” another “Most Holy Place” with “gladness” (LXX). Thus we are the Most Holy Place NC Temple/Man that has been purified, washed/sprinkled in the ONE Holy Spirit Baptism and eat the “TRUE Bread” from heaven and partake of the “ONE Body” (also unleavened bread of the Passover) — SPIRITUALLY.
For more on how the Temple is structured like a man and the ark representing the relationship between the heart, mind and conscience of man see my article here: http://fullpreterism.com/568/
We partake of the Lord’s Supper today by realizing all that Christ has accomplished for us through His cross and Parousia and by picking up our cross daily and dying to self. This is a spiritual inward meditating, rejoicing and an offering up of ourselves as a living sacrifice to God.
We feast upon Him and with Him in the wedding feast — by doing His will in following His teaching and by unselfishly fellowshipping with the rest of His Body of Christ — serving Her with the gifts He has given us. In AD 70 God’s OC wife starved (eating her own young) and was feasted upon by the vultures of Rome, while God’s NC bride fled the city to Pella and were feasting upon the wine and bread of Christ “within” them (Rev. 19-21; Lk. 17:20-37; Lk. 21:27-32; Lk. 22:15-18; Jh. 14:23).
We may still very well have home meals together where we invite the poor, study Scripture and pray together. But none of this has anything to do with religious RITUALS of “crackers and grape juice” or celebrating Easter which was a carnal invention of the Roman Catholic Church. It is very important to worship our King “in Spirit and in truth” and not in carnal superstitious rituals or the traditions of men. The Reformation did not reform and correct the influence of the Judaizers and Roman Catholic teaching on the “sacraments.” Selah.
It is disturbing to think of how much bloodshed and divisions have been caused by religious folk thinking New Covenant baptism and communion have anything to do with physical rituals and or “sacraments” the church can use to manipulate and control its members. Be free in God’s sovereign and free grace and live victoriously in this beautiful New Covenant Kingdom that He has caused us to inherit and enjoy “within us” and that is “cut without hands.”
Here is a great message by Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks Memorial on the Lord’s Supper: http://drkellynelsonbirks.com/audio/miscSeries/MISC002.mp3?fbclid=IwAR0bDybvRwDcWzD_HBIB107qqyPgPJZOUxyD5oB2VESfEVrsGoIyWKvS0po
PART 2 – THE SPIRITUAL ONE NEW COVENANT BAPTISM
This very brief article explores if the baptism of Ephesians 4:5 is the covenant ritual of a ceremonial water baptism, or is the work of Christ baptizing believers through the Living Waters of the Holy Spirit through the blood of Christ – cleansing the heart and conscience from dead works. I will be arguing for the later.
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.”
Thayer adds: 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.”
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),”
The Immediate Context Preceding Ephesians 4:5
Before exegeting our text it is important to look at the previous context to see how physical rituals and works are viewed by Paul and how he says the New Covenant Body is saved.
1. Blessed in Christ with every SPIRITUAL blessing in heavenly places due to His predestination & will (1:3-5, 11).
2. We have “redemption” and “forgiveness of sins THROUGH His blood.”
3. Sealed spiritually with the promised Spirit (the NC baptism) upon belief (1:13-14).
4. Paul prays that they would continue to have the Spirit to spiritually enlighten their hearts to all the spiritual blessings & inheritance that they have (1:18).
5. God raised us up from the dead spiritually and seated us with Him by His grace (2:5-6).
6. Saved by His grace through faith (not of our selves but a gift) and not of our works (2:8-10).
7. Gentiles once separated due to a physical ritual of circumcision (“with hands”) and a physical temple, God has reconciled by His “blood” making one spiritual NC “Man” and “Holy Temple in the Lord” by the Spirit (2:11-22).
8. Christ and the “fullness of God” dwells in our “hearts” and “inner being” spiritually through faith (3:14-20).
The Immediate Context Following Ephesians 4:5
9. We spiritually put off the old man/life and put on Christ through faith in our minds (Ephs. 4:22-24).
10. We are children of spiritual light (5:7-11).
11. We are to spiritually fill our spirits with fellowship and worship (5:18-21).
12. As husbands we spiritually cleanse/wash our wives in the Word as Christ has purified/sanctified/cleansed/washed us through the Word (5:25-27).
13. And the Ephesians were not engaged in a battle of physical “flesh and blood” but put on spiritual armor to fight the Devil and the demonic and prayed “in the Spirit” (6:10-18).
*** Paul looks down upon physical rituals and ceremonies performed by “hands” and a physical temple (both of which served to separate) and exalts God’s sovereign grace and the blood of Christ as the reason man has been saved from spiritual death. The emphasis consistently before and after Ephesians 4:5 is on what takes place by the Spirit in the heart and not anything performed by a physical ritual or in conjunction with it. God gives the gift of faith and explicitly says salvation is “not of works.” Yet the Church of Christ cult boasts in a physical ceremony/ritual performed by “mans hands” and also boasts that salvation is by works. Their false teaching has separated them from the rest of Christianity which again is something they oddly boast in.
Parallels / Analogy of Faith Between 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 4:4-6:
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,”
1. “one Spirit,”
2. “one body”
3. [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 Memorial) 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?
Romans 6:1-8: 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/unitedinto 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/planted) 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.
Contextual Flow of Paul in Romans
- Romans 1-4: No one can seek or please God and we are not saved by works or covenant ceremonies / rituals such as circumcision – but faith alone. A true Jew or believer is one who has been circumcised spiritually or of the heart.
- Romans 5: The Holy Spirit is the controlling agent of baptism and has been “poured out in our hearts” producing joy. We are either identified and controlled in the covenant heads of Adam or Christ. We are identified or in union with either of these controlling bodies.
- Romans 7-9: The context following Romans 6 continues to be spiritual – the mind of the flesh v. the Spirit — inward renewal and salvation is in view not an external ritual of water that is necessary to produce this cleansing. Also, we learn in chapter 9 that one’s salvation is dependent upon God’s choice and not ours (going back to even before birth). It is “NOT of him would WILLS, but of God who has mercy on whom HE WILLS.”
The understanding of the Church of Christ cult is nowhere found in the book of Romans. There is no emphasis on “free will” “salvation by works,” or even as we will see, obedience to a physical water baptism that is necessary for salvation. Totally foreign to the context!
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 influencein 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
1. Verse 4 – The Holy Spirit unifies the Body (Jew/Gentile).
2. 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).
3. 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.
Hebrews is likewise clear that the NC spiritual “ONE BAPTISM”/washing/sprinkling has to do with cleansing our hearts and consciences as opposed to OC physical baptisms/washings that could not cleanse the heart and concience before God (Heb. 6; 9; 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). Bob Minner writes,
“The word use in Gen 6:14 is interesting:
“Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall COVER it inside and out with PITCH.”
The word for “cover” is kaphar, the common OT word for atone / atonement. The word for “pitch” is kopher which according to Strong’s can mean the price of a life, a ransom, or to cover.
The ark was covered in the reddish bitumen pitch inside and out, a baptism if you will, considering the root bapto means to cover and stain with a dye (literally a change of condition or state).
This “baptism” brought them through the judgement of God, which was the flood.
So then, the words in 1 Pet 3:21 carry more weight in showing that the NT baptism isn’t water, but, like the ark of Noah, a covering of atonement done upon us by the Lord.”
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.
John’s Baptism and Baptism in Acts
1. John’s baptism & “fulfilling all righteousness”
a. John is from a priestly family. Priests were to be washed/baptized with water and sprinkled with blood and oil before entering the priesthood. Jesus is the incoming Messianic Priest who is anointed with the Spirit — and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. So fulfilling all righteousness here can refer to the OT law.
b. 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.
c. It is in the Jordan – 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…).
d. 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).
e. The transitional baptism from John’s disciples to Jesus’ is still before the NC an under OC washings/baptisms (Jn. 3; Heb. 9-10).
2. Jesus’ teaching on His coming NC baptism of the “water” (spiritual or metaphorical) and the “Holy Spirit.”
a. He appeals to the OT for it in Jn. 3:3-9/Jn. 7:37-39 and those OT texts have NOTHING to do with physical water baptism (Ezek. 36:25-27; Isa. 44; Isa. 51-52:15; Ezek. 47; etc…). Didn’t He come to fulfill the law (Mt. 5:17-18) and yet no promise in the OT of a physical NC water baptism. Hmmm.
b. The ONLY time Jesus teaches on this baptism of the Holy Spirit is in Jn. 7:37-39; Jn. 14-16. No NC physical water baptism there. Some think Mt. 28:18-20, but I see “baptizing them” there as covering them in authority/truth and teaching of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In a similar way a husband is to wash/teach his wife in the Word (as Christ washes/baptizes us in His Word).
3. Paul’s didactic doctrinal teachings.
a. I agree with Robert M. that we should not then jump into Acts next (historical narrative). We need to go FIRST to Paul’s teaching on the NC baptism.
b. It’s only “ONE baptism” and it’s clearly not water but spiritual (Ephs. 4:4-5/1 Cor. 12:13/Cols. 2/Rms. 6).
c. Paul didn’t baptize anyone – not even Gaius or Crispus in 1 Cor. 1 (see Birks translation of 1 Cor. 1:14-17 in chart below). Paul was thankful that he didn’t water baptize anyone, for he came to preach the gospel and not baptize.
4. Baptism in Acts.
a. Acts 1:4-5 points us back to Mt. 3:11 and Jn. 3:5 which has nothing to do with a NC physical water baptism ritual.
b. Acts 2:38 – The baptism here is the “One [spiritual] Baptism” of Paul and it produces the forgiveness of sins (a looking back to the cross or in anticipation of the parousia).
c. Acts 8 – A Gentile proselyte eunuch asks Philp to baptize him in water. This is very early on in the transitionary period (around AD 35). No “revelations” from Paul (cf. Galatians) on how to deal with Gentile believers in Jesus yet. Peter hadn’t had his vision telling him Gentiles were clean yet (Acts 10-11).
d. Acts 10 – See translation by Birks and Jim Brown (in chart below). Peter was not asking or commanding Gentile converts to undergo a proselyte water baptism under Jesus (as the Jews with him were wanting to do in getting water), but rather calling them to “stop” the water coming. Why? Because they had already been baptized by the Holy Spirit (the ONE baptism) and thus “defined” to be clean.
e. Acts 22:16 – Again see Birk’s translation on this passage in chart below. Everything Paul needed as far as equipping him to go preach the gospel to the Gentiles had already been accomplished. He had already been raised and baptized (in the Holy Spirit – the ONE baptism).
There are various baptisms and Jesus’ New Covenant baptism was not to be with physical water – that was John’s baptism:
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.
Dr. Kelley Birks’ transaltions (He had a PhD in Biblical languages)
Where’s The Water?
This series asks and answers the question, “What is the one baptism” referred to in Ephesians 4:5? A complete study on water baptism. Should it still be practiced in the church today?
Where’s The Water, Part 6 (go to about 49:00 — 1:08 for trans. of 1 Cor. 1:13-17)