THE 500 DISCIPLES: WHEN WERE THEY BORN OF WATER AND SPIRIT?

 

When were the 500 disciples (a) born of water, (b) born of the Spirit, and (c) washed in the blood?

(1) The only text that mentions the “five hundred brethren” is 1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-6.

1 Now I make known (Γνωρίζω, GNORIDZO, present indicative active, to make known, “I draw your attention”)

unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached  unto you (ὃ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν, HO EUNGGELISAMEN HUMIN, aorist indicative middle, “the gospel that I myself preached to you”; “the gospel that I gospelized unto you” [Robertson’s Word Pictures]; “the good news that I good news-ed to you” [Jim Massey]. The gospel that was preached to the Corinthians included the facts to be believed and the commands to be obeyed),

which also ye received (ὃ καὶ παρελάβετε, HO KAI PARELABETE, aorist indicative active, “[the gospel] which you did receive also”),

wherein also ye stand (ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἑστήκατε, EN HO KAI ESTEKATE, perfect active indicative, “in [which gospel] you stand.” The perfect tense pictures the abiding results of their standing in the gospel after having received it),

2 by which also ye are saved (δι᾿ οὗ καὶ σώζεσθε, DI HOU KAI SODZESTHE, to save, to rescue, present indicative passive, the present tense portraying the continuing action of the saving and rescuing being performed on the believers. The theological passive structure portrays God as the one doing the saving and rescuing),

if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you (εἰ κατέχετε, EI KATECHETE, present indicative active, to hold down, to hold fast; indicative with εἰ is a first class conditional clause assuming that the condition is real [Rogers & Rogers, 384]. Saving and rescuing from every day sins continues as long as they hold on to the Word that has been preached to them),

except (ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ, EKTOS EI ME,  unless) ye believed (ἐπιστεύσατε, EPISTEUSATE, aorist indicative active)

in vain (εἰκῇ, EIKE, adverb, without cause, in vain, to no purpose).

3 For I delivered (παρέδωκα, PAREDOKA, aorist indicative active; the infinitive of this verb, PARADIDOMI, means “to deliver over, to pass on with authoritative teaching” [Rogers & Rogers, 384)

unto you first of all (ἐν πρώτοις, EN PROTOIS, in the first place, first of all. The words may indicate priority either in time or importance” [Rogers & Rogers, 384])

that which also I received (παρέλαβον, PARELABON, aorist indicative active, from PARALAMBANO, to receive, the same word Paul often used to express his reception of direct revelation):

that Christ died for our sins (Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, Christ died, literally, a crucial event recorded in history, in behalf of or over our sins. ἀπέθανεν, APETHANEN, died, is aorist active indicative) according to the scriptures (LUKE 22:37; 24:25; ACTS 2:25-27; 2:35; 13:24; 17:3).

4 and that he was buried (καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη, KAI HOTI ETAPHE, aorist indicative passive, from THAPTO, to bury; not only did He die, the grave offered by Joseph of Arimathea, in which they put His body in, too was a witness that He indeed lost His life for our gain);

and that he hath been raised (καὶ ὅτι ἐγήγερται, KAI HOTI EGEGERTAI, perfect indicative passive, from EGEIRO, to raise. He died, He was buried, and He rose again! “The perfect tense emphasizes that Christ is risen and indicates a continuing condition which has given rise to a new state of affairs” [Rogers & Rogers, 385]. Paul makes this change of tense to emphasize the permanence of Christ’s resurrection. “He is still risen” [Robertson’s Word Pictures]) on the third day according to the scriptures;

5 and that he appeared (ὤφθη, OPTHE, aorist indicative passive of ORAO, to see. “The appearances were not just visions; he could be seen by human eyes” [Rogers & Rogers, 385]) to Cephas; then to the twelve;

6 then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once (ἐφάπαξ, EPHAPAX, at once, at one time),

of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep (This incident is the one described in MATTHEW 28:16, the prearranged meeting on the mountain in Galilee. The strength of this witness lies in the fact that the majority (HOI PLEIOUS) of them were still living when Paul wrote this Epistle, say spring of AD 54 or 55, not over 25 years after Christ’s resurrection” [Robertson’s Word Pictures]).

(2) There is no record in the Scriptures that the Five Hundred had been SET by God into the church, like He did the apostles. It is useless to speculate.

(3) There is no proof either that they had been baptized in water on Pentecost. If they had, their rising up from the baptistery would have been the beginning of their newness of life, their being born of water and of the Spirit.

(4) This is not to say that the 500 disciples had never been born of water and of the Spirit and that their sins had not been washed away. This is to point out that much difficulty lies in finding proofs to support this opinion. I wish we knew. But I am content with the fact that we humans know nothing about this. If God in his mercy and love chose not to reveal the how, it is still good, better and best for our souls. The Bible contains other facts that are for us, and commands to do to please Him. These alone are important, nothing else is.

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