An Exposition of John 17:1-3

Verse 1 of this chapter tells us that the Lord prays that the Father may glorify Him, in return for which He may glorify the Father. “May glorify” here is literal translation and you will find it rendered so in ASV, KJV, RSV and Confraternity Version.

The Greek word kathos, translated as “as” (KJV), “even as” (ASV), “since” (RSV), may also be rendered “just as”“inasmuch as” (Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionaries). The RSV sounds much better in English: “Since thou has given Him power over all flesh.” The reference of “thou” is the Father, and “Him” is Jesus. In direct address, Jesus could also have said, “Glorify me, Father, that I may glorify you too, inasmuch as, since, just as (kathos) you have given me power over all flesh.”

Perfect tense is how the translators render the Greek verb edokas, and so RSV has “has given” while both Confraternity and KJV have “hast given” as translations. edokas however sounds like aorist to me, and so it is rendered in the ASV as “thou gavest.” In modern English, “you gave.” But past action is not the only sense of the aorist; it may also refer to an action seen as a whole, albeit finished and done, and so RSV, KJV, and Confraternity all have the perfect tense. The aorist has been around us for thousands of years and Greek grammarians are still trying to make sense of it. It is a tense that is rich with meanings, and personally I am thankful that this is so. Language, to be enjoyable, must be rich with sense!

And so I translate verse 2 literally as, “Inasmuch as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that [to] all which [or whom] thou has given him he may give to them life eternal.”

 

Verse 3 explains what that eternal life is. It is knowing God the Father as the only true God; it is also knowing Jesus as the One whom the Father sent. Both phrases, “the only true God” and “he whom thou didst send Jesus Christ” are objects of the verb “know.” Both phrases are joined by the Greek conjunction kai,and.”

To argue that, since both direct objects are joined by conjunction “and,” and since “and” does not separate but joins thoughts, objects, or ideas of similar categories, therefore “the true God” is the same as “Jesus Christ whom you have sent,” is really ungrammatical, illogical and far-fetched. These preachers, in their effort to save their theology, threw their net into the Pond of Despondency and this was one of those rules they caught! Where is the logic there? “And” simply joins two objects, ideas, thoughts, and those thoughts, objects and ideas are not necessarily the same. And I say far-fetched because it is unlikely that that is what Jesus has in mind when He said it.

What then? Admire those people for their fervency and zeal—they just want to guard the ramparts of the faith in the hope of securing it for the generations to come. But their method is madness, their grammar is idiocy and their logic is foolishness! Therefore shun them as you do a plague!

Advertisements

Oh, that English Bible?

IMG_0570You probably have in your hand an English Bible, and yet you may not be aware that that Bible has a very exciting as well as sad history.  It came at the loss of many lives and at the price of much privileges, high positions, and social ranks. It came because men wanted the freedom to think and to worship God at the dictates of their conscience.

The exciting aspect of the history of the English Bible began with a Catholic theologian, born in Hipswell, England, an anti-Mendicant, who, seeing the many abuses of  his “mother church,” sought to oppose those abuses in every way he could. His name was John Wycliffe (ca. 1324-1384).

In his dream of a society where every man could have the liberty to think for himself and the freedom to read the Bible in his own tongue, John Wycliffe was not alone. Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun (ca. 1324) were among this company. Church historians call them the early reformers. Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun were democratic thinkers who believed that the power over life, from the cradle to the grave, should not be allowed in the hands of that man called the “Roman Pontiff,” that promoter of indulgences, that extortionist who craved for nothing but the alms offered by the relatives of the dead, who did not even have any notion what’s happening to the souls beyond the grave!

William of Occam (ca. 1300-1349) too was among them; this man believed the pope is not infallible and that he too should be subject to the authority of a council of men. Occam, like the other two before him, believed that the Bible is the only source of infallible authority over both the spiritual and physical aspects of a man’s life.

Wycliffe was a part of the Catholic Church in England. Yet, in opposing his pope, he declared that the Bible knows only two sets of positions, the eldership and the deaconship, and that the papacy, its archbishopric, its papist councils, its monastic system are all unknown in the Catholic Bible. Being a theologian, he defended the English king’s refusal to transport money from England to papal coffers (the papacy at that time was situated in Avignon, in France, and was under the domination of the King of France, a period in Roman Catholic history known as “Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy”). After the papacy was returned to Rome, with the election of two popes, one Italian and another French, Wycliffe had the privilege as a member of the embassy to visit the papal headquarters, and saw the corruption prevalent in the Roman priesthood, confirming that what he saw among the Catholic priests in the English soil was the norm rather than the exception. On his return to England, his tirades against the papacy saw no bounds. The pen was his power, and the energy of his tongue never diminished in his crusade to open the Catholic eyes to the errors of the Catholic pope.  He called the pope the anti-Christ, and argued that no Catholic priest or theologian could ever defend the papal system as scriptural even by using the Catholic Scripture.

Wycliffe was the first English reformer. History readers and history writers honor him by calling him “the morning star of the Reformation.” Yet, it must be admitted that no reform movement could succeed without some political powers helping you, protecting you, or taking up the cudgels for you. Wycliffe proved that (Martin Luther proved that later when he too started to reform his mother church in Germany). The pope at that time who was the object of Wycliffe’s religious tirades, Gregory XI, could do nothing but gnash his teeth in anger or bite his tongue in his wrath. Gregory’s 19-point long-winding anathema against the English reformer went unheeded by the Catholics of England. The English royalty, most notably John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, youngest son of King Edward III,  admired Wycliffe and the English courts could do nothing but protect the Englishman the English royalty so admired.

In his bold opposition to the pope of Rome, Wycliffe thought he could further clip the pope’s wings by making the Catholic Bible say what it truly says, minus the theologies and the dogmas that the priests mendicants and non-mendicants learned from their superiors. He began forming groups of preachers, called the Lollards, whose goal was to bring the message of the Poor Man of Galilee, not to the high class society of England consisting of  the priests and the rich men, but to the poor people of England, people with unassuming traits, whom he thought could be trusted with the riches of heaven. He wanted the ordinary man holding the plow to know more Bible than the soutaned man on the pulpit!

His deep search of the Scriptures made him reject the doctrine of transubstantiation, bringing upon him the disfavor of the chancellor of Oxford University. But he became even bolder in his denunciations of Catholic errors. He renounced the worship and adoration of relics and images, be it of Mary or Joseph or Jesus. He denounced the hiding of the truth of the gospel, and the overuse of words that meant nothing, in a language that by his time was as dead as a dead mouse and was never understood by anyone, not even by the morose monks who memorized it: Oremus vobiscum… saecula saeculorum.” He opposed the festivals in honor of  the “saints.” He criticized private masses and the ‘extreme unction.” To him the indulgences and the interdicts are blasphemous, and that purgatory was just an invention of a pope who was ignorant of the Scriptures. Monasticism? To him it was a monstrous development that was contrary to the spirit of true Christianity.  One colorful statement attributed to Wycliffe came to us, that says: “Even if a hundred popes, even if all the friars, were turned into cardinals, their statements would not matter.  Those opinions of theirs ought not to be acceded to in matters of faith except in so far as they based themselves upon Scripture” (F. W. Mattox, The Eternal Kingdom, p. 225).

His noble cause caused him his position at the university, and a synod gathered by the papal cohorts in 1382 condemned his works. The king’s courts however protected him from being arrested and lynched and he retired to Lutterworth in 1374, where he died  ten years later.

His 1380 translation was the first complete English Bible, translated literally from the Latin Vulgate. A more polished translation was done in 1395, eleven years after he died, by his followers Nicholas Hereford and John Purvey.

The Catholic Church was an angry lion that never slept. In 1401, the acts of reading the English Bible and the writings of Wycliffe the heretic became a capital offense in England, of course under a new, but much rigid environment. In 1428, thirty-one years after he died, Wycliffe’s bones were dug up from his tomb. It was one stupid act of a church that hated him so much, who hated even his bones, hated his memory. The pope who ordered that must be out of his mind! But anyway, they got their own revenge upon the man’s bones. They burned it, and had the ashes thrown for keeps into the River Severn.

The persecuting acts of the Roman church drove Wycliffe’s followers into hiding. But such only repeated the events of Acts chapter 8. Persecution could hinder, but never snuff out the fire of enthusiasm for the divine that characterize those who know the truth and love it. Those who were chased from their homes, who became sojourners in some wastelands of the world, who were in hiding, preached the Word.

John Wycliffe was truly the morning star. The light of his life, the scriptural principles he lived and died for, became the flame that would no longer be extinguished. In the years that followed, many shared the sentiments of John Wycliffe, and his influence soon reached the European continent.  More and more men with zeal and love for the Word joined the band of those who called for reforming the evil that was Catholicism. John Huss of Bohemia, the so-called “John the Baptist of the Reformation,” died at stake at the instigation of the Catholic Council of Constance. Jerome of Prague too was martyred. And the other one was Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican priest who brought reform in the heart of Italy, in the very headquarters of the Catholic Church. He was hanged by the order of Alexander VI in 1498.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not,” so says the Lord. We in these modern times are a privileged lot. So privileged in fact that we seldom think of it, or we have not stopped a while and reflect on it. The preaching of the Truth had cost the life of the Son of God. That English Bible you’re holding now had been the cause of the shedding of much blood, the extinguishing of so many lives, the fall of so many from high positions.

But then, if this much would cost us to be privileged, after our faith and obedience to the Son of God, to enter heaven’s door, why worry at all.  Only the strong and the persevering make it there. Count yourself then. And be glad.

Note: I have had some emails from people asking me how to go about studying Greek. One of those who attend my Sunday Bible class, a graduate from De La Salle University, who has left Catholicism, became a Baptist and has now cast his lot with us, urges me to give him even an hour to learn Greek. The other is a preacher in Metro Manila who keeps visiting my blog, wanting something new always. I am thankful that many have now realized the need. What would be my advice?

Procure a copy of the following books: (1) Alfred Marshall’s Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. (2) The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, by Cleon Rogers Jr. and Cleon Rogers III. (3)  New Testament Greek for Beginners, by J. Gresham Machen. (4) Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.

To facilitate more information as you read and learn, download copies of my PowerPoint lessons on Greek Grammar. Click this link>>>

Having a Closer Walk with the Spirit

When life threatens to overwhelm you, when misfortunes bring you down to the pit, when doubts and life’s baffling questions threaten to snuff out that little fire of faith that remains in the heart, try praying. Try getting the help of the Spirit. You need not despair, because the God you do not see works behind the scenes, and causes all things to fall into place. These work for your good to make you a better child of God and prepare you for the life in heaven. Life may not be easy. But knowing that the Father above brushes away the clouds that He may have a good gaze of you, that the Son who is on his throne keeps on believing in your ability to carry on, and that the Holy Spirit who lives among us is there ready to share our burdens, then life begins to be configured according to the perspective that you could understand. Be still, be calm, be at peace. You have a help that is more than what a million angels can offer. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.

Click here to open the page, then download 07 HAVING A CLOSER WALK WITH THE SPIRIT.

Reformers, Restorers, or Renewers?

IMG_0570There is a question that sometimes may jolt you from your senses, urging you to investigate and satisfy your need to give a better “answer to the one who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.”   Questions that demand you be consistent with what you stand for. Questions like, What are we? Restorers, reformers, or renewers? (This last word I have to invent; it’s not in the dictionary).

The churches of Christ are not the only religious group who claims to be the restored church; the Mormons and the INC-1914 do too.

Alexander Campbell, as far as my studies are concerned, called himself and his fellow disciples “reformers,” not restorers. Their movement began at the close of the 17th century. In fact, brother Bill Humble goes on record as saying that the “Restoration Movement began in America in 1800” (The Story of the Restoration, p. 1). It was a “Restoration Movement” fathered by one who never called himself a “restorer.”

Greville Ewing, the Haldane brothers, Robert Sandeman and his father in law John Glass never thought of themselves as “restorers,” but “reformers,” like Campbell. Their “Reformation movement” had antedated the “Restoration Movement” in America by some 200 years. So a “Reformation Movement” in the British soil had fathered a “Reformation movement” in America that later called itself “Restoration Movement.”

But the Anabaptist Movement in Europe had preceded the British movement by another 200 years also. They never called themselves “restorers” but reformers.

As far as I know, it was J. W. Shepherd who made the distinction between “restoration” and “reformation.” Why this distinction? We owe it to the progress of our cause, which called for the crystallization of the things we taught. We owe it to our leaders who decided we should also make a name.

If one looks for the pattern of things, then, you have the Anabaptists, the British, then the Americans. We Filipinos are just the daughters of the movement sired by the Campbells, Barton W. Stone, Elias Smith, and Abner Jones in the soil of America.

If we call ourselves “restorers,” what are we restoring? You cannot call yourself by something that you are not. Are we restoring the church?

Come closer and lend me your ears, please. If we claim to be “restorers” then we are admitting to the world that the INC had been right all along– the church of Christ had been lost, and from the time of its departure, there had been no saved people until Felix Manalo came on the scene! Are you ready to believe that?

That is your first predicament–to be identified with the group that calls itself too as the “restored church,” which actually was a church that started from us (Gentlemen, hear ye, hear ye, Felix Manalo, the founder of the INC-1914 actually came from our Movement. He was introduced to the church of Christ by an American named Frederick Kershner, a missionary of the instrumental wing of the Church of Christ).

Your other predicament is that you have to skew these passages in Matthew 16:18, Daniel 2:44 and Hebrews 12:28 that speak about the eternal nature of the church in order to fit your doctrine– “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”; “in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed”; “therefore we receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved.”

I may be a son of the restorationists who came to these islands of 7,100 after Spain had ravaged it for 500 years and sold me into Magellan’s religion. And it’s one of those many events that God in His wondrous mercy had allowed to happen. I am thankful for Admiral George Dewey who came to my shores with his fleet of warships in preparation for a showdown with the Castillians and pointed his big guns toward Intramuros, giving his gunner this signal: “Be ready to fire when I tell you, Ridley.” He ended Spain’s rule over my islands. Then we welcomed the Thomasites, then the Protestants, then the “restorers” from America. The rest is history.

If you call me a “restorationist,” I have a problem wearing that scapular for the rest of my life. I am always thankful to my American mentors (Kenneth J. Wilkey, Bob Buchanan, Douglas LeCroy, Dale Chilton, and Douglas Gunselman) for teaching me Bible, and to Jeff Shelton for making me learn Greek. I have had Filipino teachers too–Brothers Seb Tanicala, Adrian Limbawan (deceased), Teofilo Alcayde, Felix Bravo, Cesar Lobino (deceased), Daniel Oliva, Roman Cariaga, Felipe Cariaga, Conrado Mapalo, Cesar Tajores, and the late Flor Tanicala. Thankful too for the late Eduardo Montoyo Sr. and for his son Eduardo Jr for guiding me into the right group, and for Charlie Garner for preaching that message one night in Baliwasan church hall, the message whose thunders echoed in my ears and made me tremble at the thought of not finding myself with the redeemed someday. God bless them.  Perhaps I differ from some of my teachers on the idea of the “restoration.” I am not a restorer of a church, because I wouldn’t be true to the purpose, intent and nature of that blessed institution for which my Lord died. I cannot restore a church that never vanished from the face of the earth in the first place! There was no general departure of the church and I trust the Holy Spirit who said to Paul that only “some shall depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1).

I too have a problem calling myself a “reformer.” What do I reform? the doctrines of the church? The church itself? The true teachings of the Bible do not need any reforming at all. I am in the Lord’s church. In a sense I can be a reformer in the Lord’s church. But those other churches which are not Christ’s do not need any reforming; they need to be taught about the basics of truth.

So what am I? I am just a Christian preacher, calling the people who have departed from God to go back to Him again. I am calling for a renewal of relationships.

These thoughts are just for you to consider. This is not to fault anyone of you for teaching something different from mine. Tell you what, I have arrived at these thoughts after many prayerful studies of the Word, and after many debates with the sects. You may say that my ideas have undergone some kind of crystallization also. Consider it. It is not a dogma of a pope. It is not the kind of teaching that demands I split the church because some of you guys don’t agree with me. I am not going to die for that opinion, never.

What then are you saying, brother Ed? you may ask. Tell you what: One of those things that I like about the Campbells and other “restorers” is their motto that became the “restoration” movement’s guiding light: “In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things, charity.” Difference of opinion is what it is. I don’t chop other people for teaching that they cannot address the Father as Lord in their prayers because they believe that Jesus is the only Lord. I still love my brothers even though some of them may be up in arms because I disagree with them on the matter of the Spirit’s indwelling. I just love to learn, and I also love knowing they learn their own truths some other way. Differences such as ours is not a heaven-or-hell issue. I believe that we can still go to heaven even if we differ in our opinions– opinions that are not intended to fractionalize the body, but to become the springboard for discussions in order to for us to come up with a message that is consistent with the Word.

If this is the attitude we have, then we should not have divided over the issues of orphan homes, Bible schools, plural cups, located preacher, benevolence for the non-Christians. If Daniel Sommer and Roy Cogdill had not been too pushy of their principles, then the movement that my beloved American brothers had brought to many shores would not have been too fractious. As it is I am a loss to explain why we plead for unity of all believers and then divide the churches over minor issues. God help these fractious men! is all I can say in moments of frustrations.

Gentlemen, I love this church. There is nothing like it in the whole world, in spite of what our detractors say. Whether we agree or disagree on minor points, let us rather push for the evangelization of the whole world. That is the most important. If a brother lacks the sense that others have, the church, consisting of different talents and mental resources could amply supply that lack. But the church must also be tolerant over small matters. I am of the opinion that no one goes to hell just because he believes that when the Lord comes again, he shall restore the kingdom to Israel (cf. Acts 1:6). If even Christ had been tolerant of this small fault in the apostolic band, why couldn’t us? Why couldn’t you?

Oh, you can keep calling yourselves “restorers,” or “reformers,” and I don’t really mind. Some messages sometimes don’t sink that deep; sometimes they bounce back.

Now, it’s your turn to bounce to me your opinions. I will listen.

The Preacher and His Preaching

IMG_0570Is preaching a tired old business? On the contrary it is a business that concerns itself with the most important thing one could ever think of: That of making ourselves right with the God whom we have displeased.

Displeased, you say? Yes. We displease Him when we  get out of line or misbehave. We displease Him when we’re out of step with His will and purposes for us. We displease Him when we refuse to heed His pleadings. We displease Him when we wallow in the mire of sin. We displease Him in every which way we turn when that turn turns out to be bad. And we can never make ourselves right with Him, not even with ourselves, unless He supplies us with the formula to make us attuned to Him again.

Click here to read more>>>

For our lessons on the preacher and his preaching life, click this link.

For our lessons on God’s great redemptive plan, click this link.

(1) The Fact of the Spirit’s Indwelling

FOR THE NEXT POST, CLICK HERE…

This is admittedly one of the most difficult topics we have tackled thus far. The difficulty, for one, lies in the fact that we in our modern language are attempting to understand one of the most baffling subjects tackled by the ancients, portrayed in their language, with their first century cultural background, idioms, and grammatical construction. There is a great chasm that separates us and the people of the New Testament times. New Testament Greek, being a dead language, is static (and thank God because this limits our search); while modern languages keep changing and dialects keep multiplying as knowledge grows. Every generation of men and women since the time of William Tyndale looks for a Bible translation they can comfortably read and connect with, and translations are every generation of translators’ way of trying to look at the Book and telling us what it means. There is no perfect translation. I am saying this at the outset of this discussion because we sometimes insist on arguments based on the points that we have lifted from the Bible translations. Let’s us take the discussion to the much higher plane. Go to the Greek New Testament. What do the ancients say?

I call this series of studies “The Holy Spirit’s Indwelling: A Second Look at the Doctrine that Baffles Religious People.” A second look is necessary because of the caveat against false teachers (1 John 4:1). In obedience to this injunction, we test the spirits of those who are in our own backyard and in other backyards. In the book of Acts there is also an example of disciples who, listening to an inspired apostle, received the Word with open hearts (meta pases prothumias, “with all eagerness”) but examined the Scriptures daily whether those things were so (cf. Acts 17:11). We are not to take everything everybody is saying as gospel truth.

The “indwelling of the Spirit” is not “incarnation.” We are not talking here of the incarnating Spirit. To be incarnate is to be “in flesh.” Jesus, while in heaven, was God (John 1:1), or was in God’s form (Philippians 2:6), but when He came to earth He became flesh (John 1:14), He became incarnate. Yet is said that He received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). Without measure means not in a limited degree, but fully, completely. While he was on earth, Jesus spoke and ministered and performed miracles with the Spirit’s assistance (cf. Matthew 12:28).

I have heard this being argued somewhere. The proponent of the theory, insisting that the Holy Spirit dwells in him bodily, also insists that he has given flesh to the Holy Spirit, that his body becomes the home of the Spirit. This is arguing from the point of English grammar, because to “indwell” also means to “dwell in.” The Holy Spirit literally dwelling in the body of a sinful person? Does the Spirit go wherever you go, move wherever you move? If the argument is pushed to its logical conclusions, the proponent, not having logical answers ready, would resort to sophistry. And sophistry is false logic.

The Bible never speaks of the indwelling of the Spirit in Christians as an “incarnation.”

“Literal indwelling of the Spirit”? If the Holy Spirit literally, personally dwells in you, then the third member of the Godhead has become much smaller. He must become small in order to really, literally, personally dwell in you. (If you don’t accept these conclusions, it is probably because you have a pretty limited concept of what the word “literally” means).

But, you insist, the Holy Spirit could fit inside you because He dwells in you spiritually. You however have no Scripture evidence to prove this. You have abandoned “literal indwelling,” and now you have been willing to embrace the “spiritual indwelling” theory. But the idea of a Spirit dwelling in man “spiritually” is actually redundant and does not mean anything. Besides, you have no proof for this. Your notion is no proof.

Also, if the Spirit of God dwells in you spiritually, then you must admit that He also indwells you in some other way than spiritual. He must do this if you think He is omnipotent. If not, why not?

Now, if he dwells in you spiritually, snugly fitted inside you, then you must admit that He does not dwell in you literally. Also, if He fits inside you, then He ceases to be omnipresent. If you want Him to be omnipresent, then you have to distribute Him. The Spirit is in you now, also in him, also in others. You have turned Him into slices of something of which He is not (cf. Isaiah 55:8). You have humanized your God.

Another question: Why does He need to be snugly fitted inside you?

Have you noticed that “literal indwelling” is just a terminology men have invented which finds no precedent in the Scriptures? In my many years of listening to brethren claiming that the Holy Spirit actually, literally and personally dwells in them, I have never heard them say what the Holy Spirit precisely says or does while He is inside them. Does He communicate to you in Hiligaynon? In Ilocano? In Cebuano? In English? In a trance? Through vision? Does He nudge you? Can you feel it when He is inside you? Do you consult Him? Does He consult you?

You claim to have the literal personal indwelling and yet perform no miracles. Others claim the same literal personal indwelling and also claim to perform wonders. You are correct in not claiming you could do miracles; he is wrong in claiming he could. But the burden of proof now lies on both of you. Where does it say that the Spirit literally and personally dwells in both of you? Will the Spirit dwell in the bodies of people who are worlds apart in points of doctrine?

Does the word “filled with the Spirit” mean “literally filled”? Does it also mean “literally indwelt” by the Spirit? Two apostles were said to be sent forth by the Spirit (Acts 13:4); does this mean “indwelt” by the Spirit? One apostle, “filled with the Spirit,” blinded a sorcerer (Acts 13:8-12). If you think this means he was “indwelt by the Spirit,” may I remind you that the ancients never spoke this way, and if you want to know you may go to a Bible lexicon. It is just your notion telling you that “being filled with the Spirit” means being “indwelt by the Spirit.” You see what you are doing? You are trying to clothe an ancient idiom with your 21st century notion. The word “filled,” as in “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:9), is the Greek plestheis, aorist passive participle of pimplemi, which means to be “filled with external perceptible things”; it may also be used to describe a man’s inner life, as in “filled with enthusiasm”; it also means to be “satiated” with something. It does not mean “indwelt with.” (See Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 658).

No mention of indwelling in Acts 13:8-12. So you have a man not Spirit-indwelt who performed a miracle.

Not a long time ago I listened to an actor (his name is in the forefront of protests against the Arroyo administration) telling us on TV about all the good things the Holy Spirit had directly led him to do, all of them worldly and material in nature, including what brand of a car to buy, what business to engage in. Apparently he had been deceived into thinking that with the Spirit living in him literally and personally, everything he does and would do, including instigating protests and supporting acts of rebellion against the constituted authority, was right and lawful. He claimed to be a Spirit-indwelt, miracle-working leader of their group, and said the Holy Spirit did some nudging to him as he went car-shopping.

The Holy Spirit of Promise. We sometimes argue that the Holy Spirit had been promised to the apostles only, using Luke 24:48 and Acts 1:8. Strictly speaking what was promised them was the power from on high. This power came when the Holy Ghost came on Pentecost day, accompanied by the sound of the rushing mighty wind and the appearance of cloven tongues like as of fire which sat on each one of them. Filled with the Holy Ghost they each spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance.

We argue that because it has not been promised us, we are not entitled to the power that came with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Correct. Not everyone receives the promised bonuses and perks, except only those who have been promised these perks and bonuses.

Holy Spirit baptism a promise, not a command? That’s a cute way of saying it. Very simplistic. The apostles were promised the power (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8), yes, but they were also commanded to tarry in Jerusalem until they be endued with that power (Acts 1:4). The transaction involved both a promise and a command. Had they not followed the command to wait in the city, they would not have received the power that was promised them.

During the long haul, one’s interpretation sometimes gets an overhaul.

Acts 2:38. This passage talks about the gift of the Holy Spirit and there’s no denying that this is also a promise. “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” By baptism one puts on Christ (Gal. 3:27). By baptism he also becomes a newborn creature (John 3:3-6; Romans 6:3-6). The three thousand were commanded to repent and be baptized; after baptism they received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. “Repent” (Greek, metanoesate, aorist imperative active) and “be baptized” (Greek, baptistheto, aorist imperative passive) are both commands.

Is dorea the Holy Spirit Himself? Now, what is the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Greek, dorean tou hagiou pneumatos)? In the New Testament dorea is used to refer to spiritual gift (John 4:10); to supernatural gift (Acts 8:20); the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:17); the gift of grace (Romans 5:15; Eph. 3:7); the gift of liberality (2 Cor. 9:15); the heavenly gift (Heb. 6:4); the gift of Christ (Eph. 4:7); the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17).

It is argued that Acts 2:38 contains an epexegetical clause. For example, in Romans 5:17, the “gift of righteousness” is not the gift coming or originating from righteousness, but righteousness itself, in which case, it is translated, the “gift, which is righteousness.” Acts 2:38 is also interpreted as epexegetical, “the gift, which is the Holy Spirit.” May we be forewarned however that this is just an interpretation, that we are arguing from implication, not from explication, and that the passage does not directly say the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself.

We have also have lined up above the different uses of the word dorea, the very word translated as “gift” in Acts 2:38. But other words than dorea have also been translated “gift.” Therefore when you see the word “gift” in your English Bible do not immediately conclude it is dorea, and when you see dorea, do not immediately say it means “Holy Spirit”!

Is the dorea salvation from sins? A minister of the gospel has this objection: “If the Holy Spirit is the ‘the gift,’ that is, the personal indwelling in each Christian, why did Peter use the word ‘gift’ at all? Why didn’t Peter simply say: ‘You shall receive the Holy Spirit,’ rather than ‘the gift of the Holy Spirit’? In John 20:22, Jesus said to His apostles, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ Definitely the promise was that they were to receive the Holy Spirit Himself in some way and not some ‘gift’ that the Holy Spirit would give. On Pentecost, the obedient believers were promised a ‘gift’ that the Holy Spirit would give them as a result of their obedience to the gospel message. What was the gift they received? The forgiveness of their sins! Salvation! Redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ!” (Click here: The Examiner).

Now read Acts 2:38 (RSV) and try making some substitution: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the FORGIVENESS OF SINS.” How does that sound?

There is no need to make war over Acts 2:38. Both interpretations are based on implications, and implications are just our conclusions. Are there wise men in both camps of this Holy Spirit indwelling controversy? I think there are. “Do any of you have wisdom and insight? Show this by living the right way with the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13, God’s Word, courtesy of WordSearch).

Acts 2:38 is the only passage that speaks of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit AFTER baptism. By baptism here we mean baptism in water. Acts 11:17, paired with Acts 10:44, speaks of the Holy Spirit falling on the household of Cornelius BEFORE they were baptized in water (Acts 10:47). In short: the three thousand got it AFTER baptism; the household of Cornelius BEFORE baptism.

We have just shown that Acts 2:38 does not explicitly say that the “gift of the Holy Spirit” is the Holy Spirit itself. Neither does it mean “salvation” or “forgiveness from sins.” What is it? I don’t know. I don’t like to venture an opinion that would later on be proven to be wrong.

Acts 5:32. This passage, together with Acts 2:38, is used to buttress our contention that “every disciple who submits himself to the Lord’s command to be baptized not only receives the forgiveness of sins but also the gift of the Spirit, which is the Holy Spirit.” Acts 5:32 says, “And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (KJV).

Here we find the irate high priest and the equally irate group of people, majority of whom probably belonged to the Sadducean sect, ganging up on the apostles (Acts 5:17-18). Prior to this, the apostles had been strictly commanded not to teach in the name of Christ Jesus, but instead they filled Jerusalem with their teaching (Acts 5:28)! Not only were the apostles accused of teaching a doctrine that runs counter to Sadduceeism–the teaching about the resurrected Jesus! — but they also were trying to hold these religious authorities accountable for the death of Jesus (”you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us!”). In the face of this unbelievably strong pressure, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29)!

Peter irritated them the more by preaching a mini-sermon covering the key points of Christ’s death, His resurrection and His glorification. Peter blamed them for crucifying Jesus. But God (who was also the God of the Sadducees and of their counterparts the Pharisees) subverted their plan by raising up Jesus from the grave, and by exalting Him to His right hand as Prince and Savior, to grant repentance to the nation of Israel and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31). If I were a Jew living in strict conformity to the law, the doctrine about a crucified God is too much for me to swallow. And if I were a Sadducean high priest confronting a rebellious Jewish preacher just fresh from prison, a rebel Jew who was imprisoned for performing a miracle, a miracle done in the name of the Man whom we had just crucified as a common criminal, how would I react? I would be enraged!

Then Peter said, “And we are the witnesses of these things [or, these words]” (literal translation of Acts 5:32a). What did Peter mean? (1) That they were witnesses of Christ’s death, his resurrection and his ascension into glory; (2) That they were witnesses of the words they were preaching. They were witnesses of what they had seen and heard.

And he added that the Holy Spirit also was an additional witness. “And so is also the Holy Ghost.” God the Father resurrected Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit had equipped them to preach with boldness. The religious establishment opposed Peter and the apostles because they were small, insignificant personalities. But oppose the Spirit they could not. They probably remembered what Jesus had said about this Spirit (Matthew 12:32).

The rest of the passage reads, “And so is also the Holy Ghost whom God GAVE to the ones obeying Him” (Acts 5:32b).

The verb “gave” is Alfred Marshall’s translation of the Greek verb edoken, which is aorist indicative active. It is indicative because it is a simple statement of facts. Active because the subject of the verb, “God,” is the one doing the action. It is aorist in its tense, and is referring to the past action of giving. It is a done thing, finished, fulfilled.

Concerning the aorist, J. Gresham Machen says, “The aorist is like the imperfect in that it refers to past time. But the imperfect refers to continuous action in past time, while the aorist is the simple past tense…The Greek language shows no tendency whatever to confuse the aorist with the imperfect” (New Testament Greek for Beginners, pp. 81-85).

If you use Acts 5:32 to apply to every case of Christians baptized today for the remission of their sins, saying he receives the Holy Spirit after he has obeyed the command of baptism, you will surely encounter some problems with one who knows Greek grammar.

I have not made up my mind on what conclusions to make of this discovery. But if you have a better explanation (not one you just copied from Leo Boles, B. W. Johnson, David Lipscomb, or other “restorers”), I am willing to listen to it.

Boles, Johnson and Lipscomb were good scholars, and I learned so much from reading them, but…

I stand here, holding a glass, and I want to drink from that faucet. Some of us may be contented with drinking from that jug which they have passed on to us. If this is the kind of scholar that you are, then let’s be at peace. I am not going to convince you to change. But I want to go ahead and drink from that faucet myself. To be an independent thinker is my choice.

Friendship Evangelism

BACK TO HOME PAGE.

If debating is wrong, then I had just committed this “great sin.” I debated, argued, with a minister of the Calvary Open Hearts Fellowship. He had debated Reuben Emperado; now he’s debating me.

As always, the Analytical Bible that brother Lecroy gave me years ago (November 20, 1975, to be exact) is the ever useful companion. I used Machen’s Greek Grammar brother Barry Murrell supplied (vintage book from the old PBC), and other books my US benefactor sent (he does not want to be identified, but I know he’s my director at PBC when I was a student). My, oh my. The people who listened to me knew that 1 Corinthians 12:13 does not say the Holy Spirit is the baptizer of Christians. Danny Go, that is his name, insisted that the object of preposition “Spirit” (by one Spirit) is the subject. I argued that the subject is we (as in, we are baptized). He brought his Greek-English interlinear but never used it. He’s afraid to open it. He wanted to trick the people into believing that even my Cebuano Bible says the Holy Spirit is the baptizer; got my Bible, read it, and stopped in the middle. The audience laughed. Because that Bible favors my proposition than his. I just smiled. And before he finally lost face, I extended my hand to him, and we hugged each other. Now in low voices we exchanged arguments. Enmity vanished like bubbles in the wind.

After the discussion, we exchanged invitations to have coffee, but I promised him we are not going to stop arguing because I care for his soul.

That is friendship evangelism in action.

BACK TO HOME PAGE

%d bloggers like this: