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Chris' (Rivers of Eden) Posts on Various Subjects - Part 7

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

Dave -

I think that God explained what he meant by "death" when he told Adam that he would "toil" and inevitably "return to dust" after his judgment in Gen 3:16-17. The Hebrew phrase "in the day" does not require that Adam "die" the very "second" that he ate the fruit. The semantic range of this Hebrew idiom allows for several possible interpretions. I personal prefer to think that Yahweh was elaborating on the intended meaning in Gen 3:16-17.

I'm not a "Calvinist," so the "gospel" doesn't require a "spiritual death" doctrine in my thinking ... it makes perfect sense that Adam simply "died" biologically, just like the rest of us. Afterall, it seems evident that Jesus "died" a "physical" death for our sins, and not "spiritually."

Subject: Re: PHILIPPIANS 3

Richard -

In Rom 6, I would not understand "resurrection" here to be a "literal" transformation of individual "bodies." The reason is that the passages says that we have "become planted together in the likeness of Jesus' death" and that our "old humanity was crucified with him." This is evidently not to be understood "literally" because we are not "literally" crucified and buried with Jesus. Thus, we need not take the "we shall live together with Christ" in a "literal" sense either. The only point Paul is making is that the singular "death" of Jesus results in "life" for all nations. The passage is not discussing the "nature" of the resurrection body.

You might consider that in I Cor 10, Paul refers to the "body of Moses" (as does Jude) with reference to the "fathers of Israel" who followed Moses through the sea. Throughout Corinthians, Paul speaks of the "church" as the "body" of Christ. This is probably not to be understood as a "body of flesh." This is just one example of why I don't just assume that "body" in other Pauline letters is speaking of "flesh and blood." Paul almost never uses "body" in that sense.

The sense in which Paul uses "body" in Php 3:21 may also be intended to represent the singular "body/church." As in II Cor 5:1-5 and I Cor 3, Paul may be thinking of the "body of Christ" in antithesis to the "temple/tabernacle" in Jerusalem. In II Cor 5, he refers to the "earthly tabernacle house that will be destroyed" (i.e. the temple in Jerusalem) being replaced by an "eternal" house in the "heavens" (the heavenly Jerusalem - Heb 12:21-25; Rev 21) that replaces the earthly one. Since the destruction of the temple was the subject of Jesus' prophecies, I think it's reasonable to think that Paul has these things in mind. Afterall, Jesus gave no discourse on the "nature" of the resurrection body.

I think that part of the difficulty in understanding these terms is that we cannot assume that Paul has the same philosophical perspective on body/soul/spirit that characterizes later Roman Catholic and Greek theology. This is where the traditional eschatology that you hold originated.

In the OT, the relationship of the Law to the Land/earth, and the relationship of the "flesh/soul" to the "earth/soil" is very significant and undivisible. If the OT Law has passed away (which I think we both agree), then there is no significance to the physical Land of Israel or the physical body.

This is why Jesus stated that "every jot and title of the Law AND prophets (all prophecy)" would not pass away until "heaven and earth" pass away. Paul later indicates that there is a "new creation" and that "all things have passed away" (II Cor 5:17-18) since there is no more "circumcision." Paul seems to equate "flesh" with "circumcision" and not "flesh" with the "nature of the physical body/resurrection."

As I mentioned before, your view of prophecy demands that you obey every jot and title of the Law (Matt 5:17-18) until is is all fulfilled.

Subject: Two Realms?

Don -

I think that Ward may be on the right track with the "heaven now" stuff, but I personally don't like the "two realms" idea because I just don't find such an explanation of things in the NT itself. I'm concerned that the idea of antithetical "realms" is something that comes from later philosophical speculation, just like the "dual nature" concepts in Christology and Anthropology.

I am still inclined to think that Paul has a concept of resurrection that we still haven't been able to grasp because we are pretty far removed from his thinking both linguistically and theologically. More analysis of the vocabulary and grammatical syntax of the NT is still needed.

As for "unbelievers," I still think that the issue is still simply the inevitable eternal separation from God at "biological" death both before and after the destruction of Jerusalem. Apart from being in union with God/Christ through the Spirit, I think that all humans simply "return to dust" and perish.

The "breath of life" is that which seems to come from God to make the "soul" alive. When we "die," the "spirit/breath" returns to God. Unless we are in union with Him, we do not have "eternal life" after "biological" death.

Subject: Re: [SGPList] Resting now or then?

Dave P -

I'm inclined to think that Gen 1-3 is the story of the "creation" of the "land of Israel" and the first descendant of Abraham (Adam) that was placed by Yahweh into the "land."

For one thing, the geographic borders of the "garden" and the "land" promised to Abraham are about the same. Also, throughout the Law and Prophets, the "heavens and earth" are used to speak of the people of Israel and their land/Law.

Moreover, all of the "de-creation" language (apocalyptic language) in the Prophets and Revelation (which concerns the rise and fall of Israel and the "nations") seems to harken back to the original "creation" language in Gen 1. Afterall, Genesis is the "beginning" of the history of Israel and the Law of Moses.

Subject: Re: [SGPList] A few comments on Lance's Article

Lance -

Ed is right ... the vocabulary of the OT and NT is most likely referring to observable things when it speaks of "heavens and earth." Afterall, the first mention of "heavens and earth" is the "creation" by Yahweh in Gen 1-3.

The "heavens/air/sky" is an observable "realm." It is not some mysterious "dimension." Also, the "earth/land/ground" is the observable place where people live, and from which the "body" is formed. Of course, there are metaphorical uses of these terms, but the basis for understanding them lies in the simple definition of "sky" and "ground" that comes from Gen 1-3.

There is no doubt that the "Law" is related to the "elements" because, in the OT, the "Law" is inseparably linked with the "land of Israel." The "Law" is for Israel's inheritance of the "promised land." This is why the "heavens and earth" are said to "pass away" with the Law. This is also the reason that the "rise" and "fall" of nations is described in "creation" language (sky rolling up like a scroll, sun turning black, stars falling, etc).

Remember, too, Lance, that the "end of the age" is characterized by the "city" and "temple" being destroyed, and the "land" being burned with "fire," among other things. I don't have any problem understanding 2 Pet 3:10-13 being a reference to the destruction of the "land of Israel."

According to Paul, the coming of Jesus inaugurated a "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17-18; Gal 6:15-16). This is why I think that the apostles looked for a "heavenly" land/Jerusalem/church (Heb 12:21-26; Rev 21). For the "Law" to pass away, the judgement of the nation, the city, and the temple had to be consummated. Then, a "new" creation had to replace the old one.

Subject: Re: satan/demons

Jan -

Despite the popular viewpoint, I would suggest to you that "Satan" is NOT a "person" or a "fallen angel." I would also suggest to you that "demons/devils" are not "persons" or "fallen angels" either.

Without going into any detail, I'll just give you an explanation that might give you some "food for thought."

I think that the biblical writers often used the word "Satan" (adversary) to personify the "unseen" motivations of those who are opposed to God, as well as those whom God uses to "test" those who are righteous. For example, the "Satan" who opposed Job was one of the "sons of God" (good angels) whom God commissioned to "prove" Job's faithfulness. The angel is given the title "Satan" because he became an "adversary" to Job's walk with God. I think that the same thing happened to Jesus is Matt 4 when he was "tempted in the wilderness" by another one of these "sons of God."

You will notice that the accounts of "demons/devils" are almost exclusively found in the Gospels and ministry of Jesus. You might also notice that all the occasions of "demons" in these accounts are some kind of "illness" like "deafness" or "blindness" or "cripple." When Jesus "casts out" a "demon," it is usually a physical healing of some sort. This suggests to me that the word "demon" was a term used to identify ailments that these ancient people could not explain or identify.

As Jesus indicated, all "sin/evil" comes from the "heart/mind" of man. It does not come from "outside the man." Jesus appeared to save us from our "sinful" flesh, which causes us to do that which is contrary to what is "right." In this sense, our "sins" are said to be "works of the devil (adversary)." Jesus came to "destroy" the "works of the devil" in that he died in order that we might be saved from our sins.

Subject: Re: satan/demons

Lance -

It wasn't my intention to offer a detailed "proof" that "demons" is used to speak of illnesses. I was just suggesting that you consider the many occurences of "demons/devils" in relation to "healing" in the ministry of Jesus. None of these references make any mention of "fallen angels."

I'm inclined to think that this vocabulary was used in the same sense that we might call someone a "lunatic" (which means 'possesed by the moon'). We do not mean that the person is literally "moon-possessed," we simply mean that the person acts in an "inexplicable" or "strange" manner. We are simply "personifying" (figure of speech) the moon in this vocabulary. The NT writers seem to "personify" certain illnesses in the same sense (using the word "demon/devil").

In our own modern language, we also speak of someone having "demons" (like alcoholism or drug addiction) and do not mean that the person is literally "possessed by an evil falllen angel." This is the same way the apostles were using this figure of speech.

Subject: Re: three that bear witness

Lance -

I understand I John 5:7 ("there are 3 who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these 3 are one") in that same sense that I understand John 17:11-12 where Jesus prayed "Holy Father: keep through Your own name those (the disciples) whom You have given to me (Jesus), that they (the disciples) may be ONE just as We are ONE."

A comparison of John's use of the word "one" shows that he is probably using it in the sense of "oneness of testimony/purpose" and not "oneness of essence and nature." Otherwise, Lance, you'ld have to include the "disciples" in the so-called "Godhead" because Jesus prayed that they would be "ONE, just like We (Jesus and the Father) are ONE."

Even if I John 5:7 is a later corruption of the text (as even many Trinitarians suspect), I don't think that the person who wrote this passage believed in a "Trinity" anymore than John (in John 17:11-12) was trying to say that the disciples were part of a so-called "Godhead."

As I've noted before, the "Trinity" is a matter of post-biblical philosphical speculation, and is nowhere described or explained in the scriptures themselves. I'm interested in what Jesus and the apostles taught, and not the later Roman Catholic bishops. Subject: The impeccability of Jesus?

dAVE -

I'm wondering why you think the comments you posted are "good excerpts" when they don't seem to be relevant to your doctrine of "impeccability" at all ... I'm just concerned about the careful interpretation of these passages in their context.

All that Acts 2:24 explicitly says is that it was "impossible" for hades to "hold" Jesus. It says nothing at all about whether or not it was "impossible" for Jesus to "sin." Your "impeccability" doctrine is not even raised anywhere in the context, nor does the book of Acts anywhere address this subject ...

Incidentally, if your conclusion is true, then you could say that it is "impossible" for all of us to "sin" as well, since it is explicitly taught in other passages that we will be "raised" like Jesus ... I don't think you want to draw that conclusion, but it is consistent with the implications of the interpretation you are quoting.

Also, the comments about John 14:30 also seem to have nothing to do with the context of this passage either. If you look back to John 14:22 you see that Jesus is directly answering a question about why He was "revealing himself to the apostles and not to the world." There is no mention at all of "temptations" or "sin" in either the question or Jesus' answer here ...

As far as the comments about Jesus "feeling" the "temptation" on the "outside" verses the "inside" ... I don't see Jesus explaining this anywhere in John 14:22-30, nor can I find any discussion of this issue in James 1:13-15. I don't know where this philosophy of "bouncing" temptations comes from (other than perhaps the guy you are quoting). :)

Personally, I'm more inclined to believe that Jesus "suffered" in His "temptations" because He was "made like his brothers in EVERY way" because this is what is EXPLICITLY taught by the writer of Hebrews 2:14-18. According to the writer, the fact that Jesus "partook" of the "same flesh and blood" (sounds like His "insides" to me, anyway) as his brothers is the reason Jesus was able to "die" and "render powerless the devil." This is all EXPLICITLY stated in the context of Hebrews 2:14-18. The implication here is that if Jesus was not able to "suffer temptation" and "die" just like "His brothers" he would not be able to "deliver" anyone.

I just don't find any qualifications (like "inside" verses "outside") made by the writer of Hebrews, or in any other passage in the NT. Moreover, it would seem strange for the writer of Hebrews to claim that Jesus could "sympathize" with his brothers, if He never "felt" any of the so-called "inside" temptations of other humans. If I walked around with temptations "bouncing" off me, I don't think most people would think I could be "sympathetic" to their trials.

Again, if you think that "impeccability" is a biblical teaching, I think we should at least consider passages that somehow pertain to the subject if we are going to somehow ascertain that Jesus and the apostles taught such a doctrine ...

Afterall, the word "impeccability" is not even scriptural (that is, it has no equivalent in the biblical Hebrew or Greek), nor do I know of any reputable English translation that even uses this term to translate anything. It seems to be a term that has merely originated from philosophical speculations that cropped up in the church hundreds of years after the apostles were preaching.

Subject: Jesus as "God"?

Lance -

With respect to Ward and the other "leaders" on this list, I don't think it's appropriate to get into a lengthy discussion of these issues which are offensive to their "purpose" for this list. Therefore, I should keep my comments brief. Feel free to converse with me privately, if you wish to learn more about these things.

The hebrew term that is used throughout the OT for "god(s)" is "elohim." The NT greek term (that you mentioned) is "theos." In John 10:34-38, Jesus himself refers to the text of Psalm 82:6 and applies these words to the "Jews" (Pharisees) who were trying to "stone" him for supposedly making a claim to "deity." Of course, Jesus used this passage to show the Pharisees that using the word "God" to describe himself (as "Son of God") is no more a claim to "equality" with God than the when the Psalmist uses "Gods" to identify these "leaders of Israel" in the OT. In other words, Jesus was saying "how can you stone me for calling myself the 'Son of God' when the OT uses the term "God" to describe other "men" who are sent by the Father, just like me and you." This just shows that the word "God" is used in different senses and not exclusively for "Yahweh."

The key to understanding the "worship of angels" in scripture is to realize that "angels" were the vehicles of all divine revelation before the birth of Jesus. As the scripture explicitly says "no man has seen God (the Father) at any time." This is stated emphatically even AFTER the appearance of Jesus on Earth (see John 1:18; I Tim 6:16). Humans have only "seen" God the Father in the "sense" that He is represented by "angels" and, of course, the "man" Christ Jesus.

If you look at the biblical evidence you will see what I mean. For example, when Moses spoke with "God" (Yahweh) in the account of the "burning bush," he spoke to "God" directly as if "the Lord" Himself was in the bush. The one speaking in the bush speaks in the "first person" saying "I am the God of thy fathers." However, as Stephen explicitly reveals in Acts 7:30-35, Moses was speaking this way to an "angel." Of course, the "angel" required Moses to remove his sandals (a ritual of worship) because the presence of the "angel" (as a ruler and messenger from God) required appropriate worship.

Another bit of evidence is found in Genesis 18-19 with the account of Abraham and "the Lord God" in Mamre before the destruction of Sodom. Notice that when the "Lord" appears to Abraham (Gen 18:1-2) it is three "men" (18:2) who are also called "angels" (19:1) when they go to see Lot. Notice that when Lot encounters these "angels," he "bows down to worship them" and they do not resist it. He also calls them "Lord" since they are messengers who carry the divine "name." There is no indication that this was regarded as a "sin" or "idolatry." To me, this is evidence that (in some sense) the divine "title" (God) and also "worship" is certainly not limited to "Yahweh" Himself. We have to consider the context of each use of the term.

Thus, when we consider the very few times that "God" (theos - never "Yahweh") is used of Jesus in the NT scriptures, we have to consider the "sense" with which it is being used, and not assume that it is any "proof" that Jesus is the somehow the same "being" as "Yahweh." We also should not find it strange that the "man" Christ Jesus is worthy of "worship" since even the "angels" (who were made "subject" to Jesus - Heb 1) were once worthy of human worship.

We can worship "God the Father" in the sense that He is "all in all, and all things are subject to Him (even Christ - 1 Cor 15:27-28). We now worship the Lord Jesus (instead of the angels) because "God has highly exalted him and given him a name above every name that every knee should bow" (Php 2:9-11) AFTER he completed his human obedience to the Father (on earth) and was raised from the dead.

I'm inclined to think that those who insist that only "the Father" (or the "Trinity" - another non-biblical philosophical term concocted hundreds of years after the bible) can be called "God" or be worthy of "worship" -- and try to use this as a "proof" that "Jesus is equal in essence and nature to Yahweh" (which is never explicitly stated anywhere in scripture) -- are simply not consistently considering all of the evidence. It's just a matter of what they want to believe ("Evangelical" theology and "Calvinism") rather than what seems to best represent the evidence in scripture. Perhaps this is why it often seems that "Evangelicals" (and other cultic believers) to resort to "division" and "slander" instead of sound exegesis.

Lance - a reconsideration of the biblical text in its context is what led all of us (me, you, Ward, Dave, Ed, Jim, Karen, Don, etc) to finally realize that Jesus "returned" when the city and temple were destroyed during the wars of the Jews (AD 67-73) just as he explicitly predicted (Matt 24:1-3).

My only agenda is to encourage everyone to use the same objective and thoughtful consideration when it comes to passages that speak about other doctrines. We have to start with the text, not the assumptions of post-biblical philosophical speculation. And, I don't see any need to convince anyone with "scare tactics" or "slander" as some see fit - the evidence is there for all to consider.

I appreciate your willingness to "ask the right questions."

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