Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Chris' (Rivers of Eden) Posts on Various Subjects - Part 6

Subject: Gog and Magog

David -

I would suggest that the "nations" that fulfill this prophecy are the "Gog and Magog" people that are gathered by God into the Land to be destroyed (Ezek 38-39; Rev 20) at the parousia/judgment.

These people are probably the unbelieving "nations" (tribes) of Israel that were "scattered" throughout the Land and the rest of the Roman Empire. Many of these people apparently converged in Judea during the Jewish revolt and were subsequently destroyed by the Romans.

Subject: Jews (Judeans) & Gentiles (nations)

Steve -

I came across this post from last week and I just wanted to make a few comments ...

Your comments about the "10 lost tribes" are generally correct ... I don't see any "lost tribes" doctrine either. There is certainly evidence in the NT that the Jews recognized "twelve tribes" existing both inside and outside of the geographic Land of Israel.

I think your remarks about translating "Jew" and "Gentile" are not entirely accurate, however.

The word translated "Jew" in the NT is from the Greek term for "Judean." This word technically refers to someone who is from the Hebrew tribe of Judah, but also refers to those who resided in the geographic province of Judea. In a more religious sense, it is also used to describe those living among the nations outside of Judea who were circumcised and subscribed to the Law of Moses.

As I've demonstrated in another post, the word "nations" (ethnoi) can be used of BOTH "Judeans" and non-Judeans in the scriptures. It can also be used to identify the "tribes" (nations) of Israel, as well as "Jews" (in the religious sense - see above) that dwelt among the "nations" outside of Judea. "Ethnos" is not a term limited to "non-Israelites," although it is sometimes used to speak of non-Israelites.

Let me give you just one example of the problem you have with limiting the semantic range of these terms. It is found in I Corinthains. For many reasons, most interpreters would agree that Corinthians was written to "Gentiles" (to use the old English translation). With this in mind, you should note that in I Cor 10:1-4, Paul explicitly identifies the Corinthians as his "brethren" whose "fathers" were the Israelites who passed through the sea with Moses. It seems to me that it is plausible to conclude that these Corinthains "Gentiles" were not all "non-Israelites."

There are other examples like this that can be found in the NT evidence. It is also interesting to note that throughout the Acts, Paul, who is the "apostle to the UNcirucmcision," usually began his preaching of the gospel in the synagogues, where he found "uncircumcised" Israelites (like Timothy) who "feared God" and responded to the gospel. It seems that Israelites from all "twelve tribes" had become assimilated into the "nations" outside of Palestine. It is evident from converts like Timothy, that not all religious "Israelites" living outside the Land were "cirucmcised" according to the Law of Moses. This may be the reason that there was so much conflict over "circumcision" among the elders and apostles in the early church.

Just some thoughts for your consideration ... I appreciate your interest in these issues!

Subjects: Jews (Judeans) & Gentiles (nations)

Trevor -

In the earlier "post," I alluded to the use of the word "ethnos" in Acts 2:5-11; 22 as an example of how "nations" is used to speak of "Israelites" and "Jews" (pious Israelites) who were "born" in the geographical regions outside of Judea. Many of these "nations" are listed in the passage.

I also pointed out that Jesus had commanded the eleven disciples in Matthew 28:19 to "teach the nations" and to "baptize" them. Since Jesus explicitly told the disciples that he had come only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and that they would "not finish going through the cities of Israel" before his "coming" (Matt 10:23), it seems likely that the "nations" here is a reference to the "Israelites" who were "born" (Acts 2:8) outside of Judea, and who "spoke" (Acts 2:6-7) the venacular of regions outside of Judea. It is evident that Jesus' command to "teach" and "baptize" was to begin in Jerusalem, and the account in Acts 2 confirms that they began "baptizing" the "nations" (of "Israelites" - Acts 2:22) immediately after they received the "spirit" on the Pentecost in Jerusalem.

From much of the evidence, it seems that this so-called "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:19) was only intended for the "nations" who resided in the "cities of Israel" (Matthew 10:23). As far as Acts is concerned, this is as far as any of the Twelve disciples of the Jerusalem church went "preaching the gospel." Moreover, the "Great Commission" in Matthew 28:19-20 also included the command to "obey all things" that Jesus had commanded, including observance of the Law of Moses (Matthew 23:1). According to Acts, the Jerusalem church was "zealous for the Law" (Acts 21:20) in accord with the "Great Commission."

Moreover, there is no indication that the Twelve ever left Jerusalem/Judea/Samaria until John was imprisoned on Patmos (Rev 1:9), which was not of his own doing. In the meantime, God sent another apostle, Paul, to go "to the (uncircumcized) nations" (Rom 15:16) outside of the Land of Israel. As Paul says, he was "NOT send to baptize" (I Cor 1:14-17) since there was no obligation for these "nations" to do the "works of the Law."

Subjects: Jews & Gentiles

Steve -

There are many "churches" that understand "Gentiles (nations)" to be a reference to both "Jews/Israelites" and "pagans." But, this is not important ... it is a matter of how we ought to understand the usage of this term by the apostles.

You may not see the semantic range of "ethnoi" in the sense that I do, but there are many passages in both OT and NT that suggest that the "uncircumcision" to whom Paul ministered were "Israelites" who had become intermarried with other peoples outside of Palestine.

Remember, too, that this interpretation is not based upon any particular definition of "ethnoi" alone, by any means. In fact, I am not denying that the "geographical" use of "ethnoi" requires us to expect "non-Israelites" to also be incorporated by this term. You can certainly find uses of "ethnos" that pertain to "non-Jews."

However, I think that you are wrong to say that it is "never" used of "non-Jews." When you suggest this, I get the impression that you have some kind of agenda behind your interpretation of the NT that necessitates your restricted use of the term. The word "ethnos" is used in several different senses in both the LXX and NT, and does not "require" the restricted definition that you place upon it. Furthermore, there are other similar terms (like "tribes") that are used interchangeably, and can refer to both "Israelites" and "non-Israelites."

Subject: Jews and Gentiles, Tribes and Nations

Steve -

I don't mean to oversimplify things, but any one of your references in Matthew can also be understood to be referring to the various Israelite "nations" (or tribes, families, etc) that were dwelling in the Land of Israel. Simply quoting these verses does not "prove" either your interpretation or mine.

If you apply these verses to "non-Israelites," you miss the whole context of the gospel. Jesus came to ONLY "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Jesus, himself, made this explicitly clear in the gospel record. At the time of the NT, the Israelites were scattered all over the Land of Israel, as well as the regions outside of the Land. You also have to understand that "Judea/Galilee" was only one "nation" within the Land at that time. "Samaria" was also a "nation" in the Land of Isreal at that time. Evidently, there were many others.

It seems to me that there is no reason to think that Jesus would be giving all these commands to his disciples (in Matthew, etc) to go to "pagans" when he was telling them that they "would not finish going through the cities of Israel" with the gospel, and that he was "sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel"

Both the old covenant AND the new covenant are made with Israel only. Jeremiah tells us that God would make a "new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah." Hebrews 8:1-13 reiterates this hope.

Note that in Ezekiel 37:22-23, the Lord God says "I will take the CHILDREN OF ISREAL from among the heathen ... and I will make them one NATION ... and they shall be no more two NATIONS - neither shall they be divided into two KINGDOMS any more." It seems evident to me that "nations" is a term applicable to Israelites here.

As I pointed out in I Cor 10:1, it is no wonder that Paul calls the Corinthains "brethren" and reminds them of their Israelite heritage since their "fathers" were the ones who "passed through the cloud with Moses." Paul also made a solemn agreement with the other (Twelve) apostles in Gal 2:9-11 that he was the "apostle to the UNcircumcison." He also explained to the Romans that he did not "build upon another man's foundation." This suggests to me (at least) that the "uncircumcision" to whom Paul ministered were descended from the children of Israel.

I realize that this is probably contrary to Christadelphian tradition, but I think you have to be objective enough to realize that there is some plausibility to what I'm trying to show you ... the traditional interpretation of "Jews vs. Gentiles (pagans)" does not hold up to scrutinty without legitimate questions.

All I'm saying, Steve, is that it is possible to understand "uncircumcision" and "nations" in more than one sense. The greater context of God's relationship with Israel must be considered when we interpret the biblical text. God never made any covenants with "non-Israelites" as far as I can tell in scripture (although, He did show mercy to non-Israelites like Rahab, etc).

Subject: Canaanite woman/nations

Mike Szabo -

You are right about the "woman from Canaan." If she was not an "Israelite," then the Lord showed mercy to her in accord with the teachings of the Law of Moses. Her knowledge of "Lord" and "Son of David" may also indicated that she was a "proselyte" or a "God-fearer" (like Cornelius and the Etheopian in Acts).

As I indicated in an earlier post, I am not suggesting that God does not "save" any "heathens." What I am suggesting is that we should not interpret ancient scripture in light of the post-biblical and creedal traditions that are the foundation of modern theological speculation.

In the context of the whole gospel record (in which Jesus interacts with no more than 3 or 4 "non-Israelites,") it seems more plausible to think that his teaching in Matt 15:21-26 is intended to show the "stubborness" of the Jews, rather than that Jesus had a "world-wide" ministry. Afterall, Jesus did state to the woman that he "was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Isreal." He also indicated that she had no "right" to the "word" since it did not belong to those outside the covenant ("dogs").

When I look at the details of this passage, I see that it confirms the fact that the "new covenant" was made with "the house of Israel and the house of Judah" (Jer 31:31-34). As John (the baptizer) also tells the Jews, "I baptize with water so that Jesus should be made manifest to Israel" (John 1:31). Paul also concurs with this when he reminds John's disciples that John was telling "the people (of Israel)" to believe in Jesus (Acts 19:4). Also, Paul tells the Romans that Jesus was a "minister to the CIRCUMCISION ... to confirm the promises MADE TO THE FATHERS (of Israel)" (Rom 15:8).

Consistent with the teaching of Jesus, it is also interesting to note in the Acts that Peter and the other "circumcised" Christians apparently did not understand their ministry to include anyone but Israelites. When they went "baptizing" and "preaching" among the "nations" they "spoke to NONE except the JEWS only" (Acts 11:19-21). It is also evident that Peter had no clue that he could "preach" or give the "spirit" to anyone who was not "circumcised" (Acts 10-11). I find it hard to believe that these "spirit-filled" apostles misunderstood the "Great Commission." I rather see quite a bit of evidence that they understood the "nations" to be geographic locations where "Israelites" were scattered throughout the Land and needed to hear about "repentance" and the "kindom of God."

The mercy shown to the "woman of Canaan" does not change or negate the "old covenant." If she was a "stranger" and not an "Israelite," then it is still in accord with the Law (which Jesus did not come to negate - Matt 5:18-20) to accept her "faith" and to show her "mercy." It is also possible (especially in light of her "faith" in the God of Israel and knowledge of David) that she was a "proselyte" in accord with the Law of Moses.

Subject: Where is Abraham in 1999? (was body/soul/spirit/death)

Steve -

Since I understand the "resurrection" to be the "gathering" of the "house of Isreal" and the "house of Judah" into one "body/church" according to the "new covenant" promise in Jer 31:31-34, I think that the "resurrection" of Abraham has been accomplished.

Abraham attained to the "heavenly Jerusalem" (which is the 12 tribes of the completed church itself - Rev 21:1-3) because he had "faith." Like all of the other believers, he came "to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, ... and to the spirits of just men made complete" (Heb 12:21-28). This was accomplished when the city and temple of the OT were destroyed - that is why I think the "new Jerusalem" is seen "descending" from heaven (Rev 21) after the "harlot city" is destroyed (Rev 18-19).

I understand Rev 20 to be the "gathering" of all the tribes of Israel/Judah for judgment in the land. This corresponds to the gathering of both believing Israelites (Ezek 37) and unbelieving Israelites (Gog and Magog - Ezek 38-39) to be either saved or destroyed by the Roman armies during the Jewish wars. The pagan Romans were had no covenant with God and were not the focus of any judgment. They were used by God (like the Assyrians/Persians/Babylonians in the OT) to carry out God's wrath upon the "nations/tribes" of Israel.

Hope this anwers you question about Abraham ...

Subject: Covenants/baptism

Jim -

I would concur with Don that there are no "covenants" established with "pagans" in the scriptures ...

As far as "baptism" is concerned ... I'm assuming that you mean "baptism" with water. It seems evident to me that "water baptism" was just one of many "baptisms" with blood and water that characterized the services of the Law of Moses. This is mentioned on several occasions by the writer of Hebrews (e.g. 6:1).

I think it can be argued from scripture that water baptism only pertained to "circumcised" Israelites who were bound by the Law of Moses. It has nothing to do with pagans, or modern Christians. Even Paul himself, "was not sent to baptize" because he was the "apostle to the UNcircumcision." Since the Law of Moses was becoming "obsolete" (Heb 8:1-13), there was no reason to compel any "uncircumcised" Israalites or pagans to be "circumcised" or "bapized" with water. John the baptizer explained to the "Jews" that his water baptism was for there repentance and the revealing of "Messiah" to "Isreal" (John 1:31). Paul concurred with this in Acts 19:4-5.

It is particularly interesting to note that the "uncircumcised" Cornelius received the "holy spirit" without having to first submit to circumcision or water baptism (Acts 10). This incident became a critical evidence of the validity of Paul's ministry to the "uncircumcised" when the "apostles and elders" met in Jerusalem (Acts 11; 15).

Subjects: Matt 24/Acts

Jim -

In an earlier post you asked about the sequence of events in Matt 24 ....

You have to remember that a "preterist" interprets the "religious and political powers" (as you call them) to be "apostate Jews/Israelites" and not "pagans." Perhaps this is one of the difficulties you are having with the preterist hermeneutic.

The "nations" in these prophecies are "nations" or "tribes" of Israel and are geographical references to "nations" where "scattered" Israelites reside. The focus of all OT covenants and promises is Judah/Israel, and not pagans (as I see it). This is why the apostles directed their ministry and letters to the Israelites who were "scattered" and "resided as aliens" throughout and beyond the Land of Israel (I Pet 1:1; James 1:1).

As Paul argues in Romans 4-5, where there is "no Law" there is "no sin is imputed." The destruction of the city and temple in AD 67-73 had nothing to do with the Romans. It was the judgment and resurrection of Israel (Ezek 37-39; Isa 25; Dan 12:1-2; Rev 20) who were the ones to whom the Law was given. The "nations" that were "gathered" to be destroyed by the Romans were the "apostate" Jews who rejected Christ and persecuted the church (the "Israel of God - Gal 6:16). The only "political and religious" power to be destroyed was that of the "Jews" who opposed Christ and the apostles throughout the Roman empire.

You may have never considered this, but the book of Acts was probably written for the purpose of defending Paul at his trial before Caesar in Rome. It is possible that "Theophilus" (Acts 1:1) was Paul's defense attorney during his imprisonment in Rome awaiting trial. It seems that most of the events recorded in Acts show that Paul's accusers (the apostate Jews throughout the Empire) were always trying to bring charges against him for crimes he did not commit. The only reason that he was imprisoned was because these "Jews" stirred up trouble, and not because he was guilty of any crimes.

The people who live in Palestine today are not the "Jews" of the Bible. There are no genealogies in existence that link those modern people to the "Isrealites" of the OT. This is entirely based upon speculation, and not the scriptures.

Subjects: preterism/last things

Christadelphian Friends -

I've been watching the discussion regarding the "parousia" and "kingdom of God" that has been taking place between Don Hochner and the rest of you. I would like to make a brief comment or two ...

Since eschatology (last things) involves so many prophecies and various passages in both the OT and the NT, it is easy to get caught up in discussing a lot of details that are difficult to hold together in a flowing debate. I think it is important for you to understand the real basis of a "preterist" view of prophecy. The reason that this is most important is because it is the approach that one takes to the "timing" of the fulfillment of prophecy that determines its ramifications in other areas of doctrine.

As you all know, when a Trinitarian reads passages about Jesus, he approaches them with presuppositions that cause him to "see" the "diety" of Christ in many passages that we know can be (and should be!) understood differently. In the same way, if you hold to a "future" and "literal" Kingdom of God, you will have the tendency to interpret prophecy in light of a "future" fulfillment. On the other hand, if you are a "preterist," you are presupposing that all prophecy has been fulfilled by AD 73, and therefore you will have a tendency to interpret the scriptures (prophecy) in accord with the historical events of that generation.

It is important for you to understand that the basis for the "preterist" view is the meaning of the "time statements" in the NT. It is pointless to debate related issues like "resurrection" and "gog and magog" and "parousia" and the like when there is no agreement on the "timing" of fulfillment. The "preterist" and the "futurist" are building on different foundations.

Don and I are grateful to you Christadelphians because you have helped us to "see" that our Trinitarian beliefs were wrong because we did not interpret the scriptures within the historical context that they were written. Furthermore, when we realized that our view of Jesus was in error, we also began to see that we needed to change our wrong views of the "immortality of the soul" and "substitutionary atonement." We made the mistake of "reading into" the scriptures the later "Trinitarian" views of the church councils, as well as the false implications that result in other erroneous doctrines.

Although you do not agree with the "preterist" view and its implications, we want you to know that we used to believe what you believe about the "future" Kingdom of God and "literal" restoration of Israel. Others have helped us to realize that we were just as wrong about "future" eschatology as you helped us understand we were wrong about the "Trinity."

We only hope that you will give serious consideration to what we say, as we did (gratefully) give careful and painful attention to your arguments against the Trintity. You have helped us eternally, and we hope that we can give something back to you.

Subject: Which to tackle first - time indicators - or Christ crucified

Steve -

I would agree with you that "Christ Jesus" is the "foundation" of the gospel and our faith, but Jesus is also the focus of biblical eschatology.

I don't agree with your assessment that "prophecy" is only a "side show" because it is evident that over 3/4 of scripture is related to eschatology (last things). One thing that seems certain to all Bible interpreters is that all of the NT writers expected the Lord Jesus to "return" in their "generation." Whether you think that their expectation was right or wrong, it is evident in all of the NT writings.

The "foundation" that I was referring to pertains to hermeneutics. For example, I can give you a very detailed interpretation of "Gog and Magog" in both Ezek 38-39, 2 Thess 2, and Rev 20, but it would make no sense to you because it is not built upon your presuppositions about a "physical" Kingdom, and a "physical" resurrection, and your "double-fulfillment" approach to prophecy.

Likewise, I would find the suggestion that "Gog and Magog" is modern day "Russia" or "Turkey" or anything else to be impossible since I find explicit statements in scripture that suggest that all "prophecy" would be fulfilled by the time the Temple and city was "abominated" and "desolated" during the "generation" of the apostles. I do not need to have a "future" fulfillment of these prophecies to make sense of any other doctrine.

Subjects: zech 14/abraham/hab 2:14

Richard -

Here is a brief reply to the questions you offered.

Zech 14 was fulfilled when the city and temple were destroyed. This is the fulfillement of "ALL" prophecy (Luke 21:20), as well as the "end of the age" (Matt 24:1-3; Daniel 9:24-27; Daniel 12). We see from Revelation 21:1-4 that "Jerusalem" is the "bride/church" as the angel told John. This is the "Jerusalem" that the Lord was fighting for in which all "12 tribes" are united into one "Israel." The "nations" that the Lord fought against (or God and Magog - Ezek 38-39; Rev 20) were the unbelieving Israelites that were destroyed by the Romans as they defended the "old" city which was "passing away" and had become a "harlot" (Rev 17-18) to be burned.

It is also important to understand that the word "earth/land" in the scriptures in a reference to "Israel" and not the "world" as a whole. The "families/tribes" of the "land" that he is talking about are the "families" of Isreal. Only Israelites were bound by the Law of Moses as far as "blessings" AND "cursings." God had no reason to "judge" pagan nations that were not "under the law."

I don't find any explanation of what "Abraham is doing today" anywhere in scripture. I know that you probably don't want that kind of answer, but I'd rather not speculate about something that is not explained in scripture. The important thing about Abraham in the NT is only Paul's arguments about his salvation by "faith" which enabled the "uncircumcised" Israelites to become "joint heirs" with the "Jews" to the promise. Abraham's "resurrection" is not important as far as I can see. Jesus is the "resurrection and the life" not Abraham (John 5).

Hab 2:14 was fulfilled because the "gospel" was preached to "all the nations" by the apostles. This is explictly stated in the NT! Jesus said that the "gospel" would be "preached" in "all the world" before his return. Notice that the apostle Paul fulfilled this in his own ministry. In Col 1:5-9 Paul explicitly says that the "word of thetruth of the gospel" had "come" to the Colossians "as in THE ENTIRE WORLD." He also says in Col 1:9 that this "truth" would "fill them with KNOWLEDGE in ALL WISDOM and SPIRITUAL understanding." Sounds to me like "THE ENTIRE WORLD" was filled with the gospel just like Hab said it would be!

Remember, too, Richard that I understand "heaven and earth" to be a reference to the "land of Israel." I understand Gen 1-3 to be the "creation" of "Israel" and not the universe. The "garden of Eden" is the "promised land" itself. You should notice that the rivers named as the borders of the Garden and the same as those that are the boundries of the "promised land." Adam was the first man that God put in the "land," and not necessarily the first "human being" on earth. Adam's geneology is the history of the Israelites, and that is why it is contained in their Law.

Subject: G-D: body/soul/spirit/death

Steve Cox -

Let me try to capsulize what I believe about "body/soul/spirit/resurrection" in order answer your question for Don.

From Gen 2:7 and the rest of scripture, I understand the "soul" to be the living/moving creature that has been given "breath of life" from God. "Spirit" and "breath" relate the creature to the Creator. When the "breath" leaves the "body," it becomes a "dead" soul. By the way, I understand Gen 1-3 to be the "beginning" of the habitation of the Land of Israel, and I don't believe that this passage has anything to do with the geophysical universe as it is traditionally preached. "Adam" is the first "man" that God put in the Land of Israel (Garden of Eden), and not necessarily the first "human being" ever created in the universe.

When a person "dies" (biologically - returns to dust) they are no longer existing and they are separated from God because they no longer have the "spirit" (breath of life) that is immortal and comes from God. The "soul" is only "immortal" in as much as it has "life/spirit/breath" from God. No one possesses "immortality" but God Himself, who is "spirit."

Because the body is composed of "soil," it inevitably returns to where it came from. Since God "cursed" the ground/soil, it is inevitable that when the "soul/body" returns to the ground, it is separated from God. This is why I think that the scriptures consistently associate "heavens/breath/spirit/angels/life" with God, and "earth/grave/sin/death/darkness" with evil and fear.

Subject: Re: [SGPList] The Resurrection of the Wicked

Lance -

I think that the "resurrection of the wicked" in Daniel 12:2 and Rev 20 is the gathering of the unbelieving tribes of Israel into Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Romans at the Jewish Wars (AD 67-73). These people are called "Gog and Magog" in Ezek 38-39 and Rev 20.

The "first resurrection" is the gathering of the believers into the "new Jerusalem/bride/church" that "fled" from the earthly city before its destruction when "Gog and Magog" (the unbelieving Israelites) were gathered there to be defeated by Christ (through the Romans).

The "second death" seems to be a reference to the fact that these unbelievers were "dead" in captivity among the nations, and when they were "raised" (or "gathered") back into the land of Israel, they were judged and destroyed and thus they are "dead" forever on.

The prophecies of Ezek 37-39 and Dan 12 are given in the context of restoration from the capitvity in Babylon at the time. Thus, I think that the context of "resurrection" in these passages is with respect to the tribes of Israel being gathered back into their land (hence, "raised" from the death of captivity).

As we know from Matt 24-25 and other passages, this "gathering/resurrection" would involve the judgment of all the tribes and some would "live" and some would "die."

Just some thoughts for your consideration ...

Go to Posts Part 7
Back to Home Page