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.

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(5) “Being Filled With the Spirit” (The Case of the Twelve Apostles)

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Acts 2 tells us about many firsts. It was the first time the Holy Spirit was outpoured from heaven and filled a group of 12 men (Acts 2:4, 14) in fulfillment of the divine promises (cf. Joel 2:28-29; Matthew 3:11; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5). These men were disciples of the Man from Nazareth, a strange Man from a strange place. Strange not so much because of the absence of rabbinic references about Him as a God-sent figure beginning a grass roots ministry in such a place called “Ha Galil,” literally “The Circle,” or Galilee, in the northernmost tier of Jewish land, which was geographically, politically and spiritually far from the scene of action which was Jerusalem. Strange because the small band who followed the Man of peace too were adept in the ways of the revolution, Galilee being the nest of revolutionary movements in all Palestine. Strange because the band of twelve, in obedience to their Leader, was to proclaim a revolution that was to change the face of the soul and consequently the face of the world.

INITIATING THE NEW WAY OF GOD IN THE WORLD. The Twelve were unlearned in the ways of scholars and theologians (Acts 4:13). They had never been to a Mishna and Torah school. Their manners were rough. Their dialect had regional defects. They quarreled for the topmost position in the kingdom that was yet to come. They called for thunder and lightning to consume their fellow Jews who did not believe like they did. They cringed in the face of death when their Master was arrested, tried and hung outside the city walls. Yes, they were human, as human as anyone of us are.

Nevertheless all those— those minus points and flaws in their character—did not matter, for these were to change because of their continued association with the Great Personage who got out of His tomb one early Sunday morning.  The fact that He rose again, and made a promise that he would come and see them again, made them brave and courageous. To top it all, they were to experience one of the most wonderful phenomena the world has ever known—the Holy Spirit’s outpouring— which was to help them initiate the New Way of God in the world.

IN THE INITIAL SPURTS OF THE SPIRIT’S OUTPOURING, they came to be filled with it. Notice the language of Acts 2:4a. “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” The verb EPLESTHESAN, “they were filled,” is the aorist indicative passive 3rd person plural form of PIMPLEMI, “to fill” (Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, page 231).

In a reading from Julius Pollux, an Egyptian Greek lexicographer who compiled a Greek lexicon for Emperor Commodus, the man who is said to be PLERES THEOU, “filled with God,” is also inspired of God (Colin Brown, Ibid.). PLERES, “filled,” is also rooted from PIMPLEMI.

PLERES THEOU, “filled with God,” was a very common idiom among writers both heathen and Christian. In fact in his apology written against a heathen writer, Origen the Christian faith defender said the heathens could not deny that the Holy Spirit indeed inspired the writers of the Christian Oracles because even they themselves believe their Pythian priestess is said to be filled by the spirit of a god when she utters an oracle! (Origen, Contra Celsus, 7, 3; cited from Colin Brown, ibid.).  This is a technique in debates called “turning the table on your opponent.”

Now if “filled with God” means “inspired of God,” then its related idiom, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” EPLESTHESAN PANTES PNEUMATOS HAGIOU (Acts 2:4a), teaches that the apostles were indeed inspired of the Holy Spirit! The text where this is found also says they spoke “as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4b).

The phrase says they were all filled with one Spirit; the verb however does NOT say they were EACH filled with the Spirit, as if the Spirit was distributed in the body of each apostle personally as the Pentecostals want us to believe. It was one Spirit filling them ALL; not one Spirit distributed to EACH one of them, Their being filled with the Spirit resulted in their speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

THE ANTICS OF THE PENTECOSTALS. The passive form of the verb also indicates the apostles were not the doers of the action but were recipients of it; “they were filled with the Holy Spirit” (passive voice), not “they filled themselves with the Holy Spirit” (active voice). The action of “filling” is understood to be done by God himself, in a case that scholars generally consider as “divine passive.” In my debate with a Pentecostal, I challenged him to fill himself with God’s Spirit, complete with winds (Acts 2:2) and utterances (Acts 2:4) and cloven tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). He could not provide the winds, but uttered words I could not understand. And the cloven tongues of fire? He got it in a sardines can filled with hot coals which he placed on his head!

WHAT THE AORIST TENSE TEACHES. The aorist tense EPLESTHESAN in Acts 2:4 shows the act of filling as a finished action viewed as a whole. Aorist is always viewed as that— a point action, a finished action encapsulized. There is a sense in which a Greek verb describes an action as ongoing or continuing, and that is the job of the present active indicative. One passage (e.g. Col. 2:9) describes indwelling as a permanent thing, with its use of the present active indicative, but the aorist active/passive indicative is not the verb for that purpose.

Am I saying that apostolic inspiration ceased after Acts 2:4? No. I am just saying that EPLESTHESAN in the context of Pentecost event was a done thing.  I am in agreement with every Christian theologian that apostolic inspiration only ceased after AD 96, when John the apostle composed the Book of Revelation. But for goodness’ sakes, do not make an aorist verb in Acts 2:4 teach what it does not!

PIMPLEMI, when it appears in the passive, simply means “to be satiated, to have one’s fill of” something to the point of being complete (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich & Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 658). Their being “satiated with the Spirit” made them an ideal mouthpiece for God. The Spirit gave them utterance; in fact it can be said that they spoke as the Spirit moved them. Acts 2:4 really works in harmony with 2 Peter 1:21.

So “being filled with the Spirit” (in Acts 2:4) simply teaches apostolic inspiration. It is just the fulfillment of Christ’s promise in John 14:26 (“the Holy Ghost will teach you of all things which I told you”), John 15:26 (“the Spirit will witness concerning me”), and John 16:13 (“the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth; he will not speak from himself but will speak what he hears; and he will announce to you the coming things”).

EPLESTHESAN PANTES PNEUMATOS HAGIOU, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” thus does not mean “they were all indwelt by the Spirit.” The Greek words for indwelling are OIKEO, KATOIKEO, KATOIKIZO, ENOIKEO, and MENO. Let us not force the inspired Word to teach what it does not teach. If we are strict with the meaning of BAPTIZO, why can’t we be strict in the meaning of EPLESTHESAN?

We are thousands of years away from the events mentioned in Acts 2. Koine Greek, in which the Greek New Testament was written, is now a dead language. I am thankful it is now dead. Being dead, it did not grow. The words and their meanings, with their accompanying idioms and nuances did not change but remained static. English and other languages on the other hand evolve and grow, and keep evolving and growing, and meanings change. God has stored His living Word in a Book written in a language that is now dead–in order to preserve not only the Book but everything in it—words, idioms, nuances, tenses, moods, and cases. Our job basically is to understand what the ancient writers mean, not to impose our own meaning on what they wrote.

The Greek New Testament fares better in the hands of those who respect and love it and endeavor to preserve its teachings.

The idea of “personal indwelling” might be taught in other passages, and it’s our job to look for it. But definitely indwelling of the Spirit is not taught in Acts 2:4.

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Answers to Questions

Questions from lpable@excite.com. Click here for that article where the questions have been posted.

(1) “How do I know what authorized matter is mandatory and what authorized matter is optional? Do I need to trust some ‘authoritative’ teacher of the text, or is there a fool-proof way to know?”

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How To Establish Scriptural Authority (4): Application

Concerning the Collection for the Saints

A brother wrote asking what 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 teaches. “We are critical of the __(name of sect) who gives on Wednesday or Thursday. We say that 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 is just like God telling Noah to build an ark. Many would interpret it as: (1) Giving is on Sunday ONLY; (2) Giving must be in public worship on Sunday ONLY; (3) This is a CHARGE TO THE CORINTHIAN AND GALATIAN CHURCHES SO THAT WE MUST DO ALSO.”

The brother furnished me quotations from the different Bible translations and versions. “Tell me if the above conclusions can be taken from the verses.”

We will now examine the text, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, for what it teaches.

Now concerning the collection for the saints. “The collection,” “the contribution,” Greek tes logeias, is the word appearing in the papyri manuscripts, used in the sense of a religious contribution for the pagan temple and the pagan god (Rogers & Rogers, A Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, 389). It may refer to “taxes as well as voluntary contributions collected at worship for charity,” which in a way was “similar to the poll tax paid annually to the temple by the faithful Jews who lived inside as well as outside of Palestine” (Colin Brown, gen. ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3:854).

Here it is used by Paul in the sense of church contribution. Greek has no indefinite article, but it has a definite article which also corresponds to “the,” the definite article of English. What is the job of the definite article? It defines, limits or specifies the noun that comes next to it. The presence of definite article tes in this text signifies that this is a special collection, not just any other. It does not say, “Now concerning a collection for the saints.”

Should Christians tithe? The Old Testament taught tithing, and Judaism, which existed contemporaneously with Christianity, was supported by tithes, but “it is surprising to discover that never once is tithing mentioned in any of the instructions given to the church” (Colin Brown, 3:854).

For the saints. Greek tes eis tous hagious. This collection is for God’s people, the Christians in Jerusalem, who “evidently had grave difficulties in the society…(Acts 6:1)” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). tous hagious, “the saints,” is the fiscal term applied to the church, they who have been sanctified, “made saints,” “made holy,” by the blood of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 16 is one of those passages where Paul teaches that the Lord’s people should share their wealth to care for the needs of the poor (the others being 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 9:6; Ephesians 4:28; Romans 15:26), “but never once does he demand, as a command from God, that any specific amount be given” (Brown, 3:854).

As I charged the churches of Galatia. Greek hoster dietaxa tais ekklesiais tes galatias. The verb dietaxa, is the aorist active indicative form of diatasso, meaning “to arrange, to order, to command, to give express commands” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). Vine is of the opinion that the verb diatasso is simply the strengthened form of tasso, because of the presence of dia, “through,” which intensifies it (Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 1:68). dia with tasso thus takes the meaning of “to place in order,” “to arrange,” “to appoint” through. “Churches of Galatia” may refer to the Roman province by that name and the churches established there by Paul on his first missionary journey (Rogers & Rogers, 389). The directions to the churches of Galatia concerning the collection have not been preserved. That must be one of those letters that Paul had written which did not come down to us.

So also you do. Greek houtos kai poiesate. This was what Paul ordered, commanded, appointed for the Galatian churches to do, and now he was telling the Corinthian church to do the same. The verb poiesate is aorist active imperative. The aorist imperative, says Spiros Zodhiates, “means a command for doing something in the future which is a simple action” (Grammatical Notations, Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, 433).

Another grammarian, James Allen Hewett, says, “Greek has two tenses in the imperative, the present and the aorist… These refer not to time of action but to kind of action…The present expresses linear, on-going, or repeated type of activity. The aorist denotes the simple unitary act itself with nothing implied or asserted regarding the duration or the completion of the event. It does not refer to past time” (Hewett, New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar, 188; see also Machen, 420).

Rogers and Rogers say “the aorist imperative calls for a specific action” (Rogers & Rogers, 389), that of giving to the collection for the use of the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Upon the first of the week. Greek kata mian sabbatou, “upon the first day of every week” (Alfred Marshall, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament). The preposition kata with accusative signifies the distributive sense in which that preposition is to be understood (Rogers & Rogers, 389; see also Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, & Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 406), hence the translation “on the first day of every week.” Every week has a first day. mian sabbatou is “a Hebraic expression for… Sunday” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). This passage provides a “clear proof that the first day of the week was observed by the church at Corinth as holy time. If it was not, there can have been no propriety in selecting that day in preference to any other in which to make the collection. It was the day which was set apart to the duties of religion, and therefore an appropriate, day for the exercise of charity and the bestowment of alms. There can have been no reason why this day should have been designated except that it was a day set apart to religion, and therefore deemed a proper day for the exercise of benevolence towards others” (Barnes Notes on the New Testament).

Let everyone of you lay by him in store. Greek hekastos humon par’ heauto titheto thesauridzon, “each of you by himself let him put storing up.” titheto is present imperative active 3rd person singular of tithemi, meaning “to set aside, to lay,” and when paired with the prepositional phrase par heauto, it means “to set aside… in his own home” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). The present imperative sense of titheto calls for a repeated or habitual action. thesauridzon, “lay in store,” “to save up,” or “store up,” is present active participle. It is a participle of means or manner and explains how each of the Christians of Corinth is to lay up or lay aside (Rogers & Rogers, 389). The word is akin to thesaurus, “a treasury, a storehouse, a treasure” (Vine, 2:320). The injunction is for “everyone of you.” In the next phrase Paul enjoins each one to give as he has been blessed.

As God has prospered him. Greek ho ti ean euodotai, literally, “whatever he is prospered.” The infinitive eudoo means “to help on one’s way,” and is formed from the combination of two words eu, meaning “well,” and hodos, “way or journey” (Vine, 3:225). It is used in the passive signifying “to have a prosperous journey” (Romans 1:10); metaphorically, it means “to prosper,” “to be prospered,” [as] “he may prosper,” “as God hath prospered him,” or “in whatever he may be prospered” (1 Corinthians 16:2). The continuous tense suggests “the successive circumstances of varying prosperity as week follows week” (Vine, 3:225). Christians are to give as God has blessed or prospered them. One scholar suggests that this is an example of the divine passive, in which the subject is not mentioned but is understood to be God, hence the translation “As God has prospered him” (KJV).

That there be no gatherings when I come. Greek hina me hotan eltho tote logeiai ginontai, literally, “lest when I come then collections there are” (Alfred Marshall). hina me, “lest,” introduces the negative clause of purpose (Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners, 476). hotan is temporal particle of an action that is conditional, possible, and in many instances repeated; it is translated as “when,” “whenever” (BAGD, 587). eltho is aorist active subjunctive 1st person singular, of erchomai, “to come.” tote is a correlative adverb of time, translated “then” (BAGD, 823). logeiai, the word for collections, is here translated “gatherings.” ginontai is present middle subjunctive 3rd person plural deponent of ginomai, “to become,” here translated as “there are.”

The injunction then means that they are to set aside a portion of what God has prospered them and put that in the common treasury, and that they are to do that every Sunday, until everything is ready to be handed over to him, that there be no gatherings when he comes. Paul lays down a principle for giving which is systematic and orderly, benevolent in its purpose and divine in its authority.

And when I come. “When I arrive,” says Paul. The Greek paragenomai, “I arrive,” is aorist subjunctive middle. “In the subjunctive mood there is absolutely no distinction of time between the tenses; the aorist tense does not refer to past time and the present subjunctive does not necessarily refer to the present time. The distinction between the present and the aorist concerns merely the manner in which the action is regarded. The aorist subjunctive refers to the action without saying anything about its continuance or repetition” (Machen, 283).

Whosoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send. What is the proper construction of this verse? “Macknight supposes that the ‘letters’ here referred to were not letters either to or from the apostle, but letters signed and sent by the church at Corinth, designating their appointment and their authority” (Barnes’ Notes).

But there is a different interpretation that has been proposed. If we insert a comma after the word “approve,” the passage shall read differently: “Whom you approve, or designate, them I will send with letters to convey your charity to Jerusalem.” This is the reading followed by Griesbach, Locke, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, Beza, Eammond, Grotius, Whitby, etc. Barnes says “this accords better with the design of the passage” (Barnes’ Notes).

To bring your liberality to Jerusalem. Paul calls the Corinthians’donation “your liberality.” The Greek word charis usually “signifies grace, or favour,” but” here it means an act of grace or favour; kindness; a favour conferred; benefaction” (Barnes’ Notes). The object of this liberal giving is the saints in Jerusalem.

And if it be met that I go also, they shall go with me. If it be judged desirable and best. If my presence can further the object; or will satisfy you better; or will be deemed necessary to guide and aid those who may be sent, I will be willing to go also. For some appropriate and valuable remarks in regard to the apostle Paul’s management of pecuniary matters, so as not to excite suspicion, and to preserve a blameless reputation” (Barnes’ Notes). Now to the questions:

Is the collection for the saints only? The teaching that only the saints shall be the beneficiaries of church benevolence is based not on commands from the Scripture. The only commands we could find in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 are: (a) “Even so do ye” (the verb poiesate, aorist active indicative 2nd person plural); (b) “Lay by him in store” (the verb titheto, present active imperative 3rd person singular).

It is not even based on example, but on the wrong reading of 1 Corinthians 16:1, “Now concerning the collection for the saints.” The argument seems to be that the term “saints” means “saints only.” Where is the authority for saying that “saints” means “saints only”? There is none. I agree that the collection in 1 Corinthians 16 is for the saints; I disagree with the assumption that it is for the “saints only.” To the reasoning that this parallels Noah’s gopher wood, I would answer: Let Noah settle the gopher wood problem. Where does it say that “saints” means “saints only”? Jumping from one passage to another is their method of answering the question which in reality does not really answer the question!

If these people be consistent on their advocacy of benevolence to saints only based on their reading of 1 Corinthians 16, they must understand too what the passage does teach and does not teach: (a) It teaches that the collection be sent to the saints in Jerusalem (verse 3); (b) It does not teach the budget system, and many of those “benevolence-to-saints-only” churches use the budget system; (c) It does not teach that the local preacher or the missionaries can be supported through this treasury; and most if not all these “benevolence–to-saints-only” churches support their preachers and missionaries through the church treasury; (d) It does not teach that the money through this fund can be used to finance the building of church infrastructures and other projects; and yet many of them finance the building of infrastructures, support radio and TV programs, pay for health insurance of church workers, buy cars for their preachers, buy Bibles and print tracts, all through the church treasury; (e) The present banking system, with its mode of depositing, transferring and withdrawing, with ATM, passbooks, VISA cards, etc., is not within the purview of, is not even contemplated in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

I know of another Pauline passage that speaks contrary to the “saints only” teaching. It is in Galatians 6:10, which says, “Then therefore as time we have, let us do the good to all men, and most of all to the members of the family of the faith” (Alfred Marshall). This injunction is given to the churches of Galatia (Galatia 1:2). The object of Christian charity is all men, but especially the poor and needy saints (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 9:6; Ephesians 4:28; Romans 15:26), and this is to be done “as we have the opportunity.”

Is it commanded to give during public worship every Sunday? As we have said above, there are two commands found in the passage that should merit our attention: (a) “Even so do ye”; (b) “Lay by him in store.” Their giving was done on Sundays, for how long we have no idea. (Sure, I know they have stopped giving now, because the Corinthian and Galatian churches are no more!) Should that example be for us too? To insist on this, that we should give only on Sundays and not on other days, I think, is the height of legalism, for it would condemn the receiving of a check from abroad for the church treasury on any day except Sunday, it would condemn the transfer of private funds to the church treasury during banking days of Monday to Friday, except Sunday. It must be understood that in that 1 Corinthians 16 passage Paul was laying down a system for an orderly giving and gathering of church funds.

That the giving was done during public worship is assumed in the absence of an example. There is basically nothing wrong about it. But to insist that giving be done this way is the height of extremism.

Religious extremism is fraught with dangers. Extending the spirit of the command to the example is not the intent of our Creator. A command is different from the example; the example is the handmaid of the command, but never has the example become the command. Giving on a Sunday is authorized, and by the word “authorized” I mean “allowed,” “permitted,” by the Word, but the authority still remains in the commands.

Argument from Roy Cogdill. The assumptions of the “conservatives” and the “faithful brethren” seem to have developed from the concept of Roy Cogdill. He says: “When we can find the church practicing a particular thing or method in the New Testament record with evident apostolic approval, no one with any faith would question the correctness of the same practice today under the same or similar circumstances” (Roy Cogdill, Walking by Faith, 22).

We agree that any practice that is in conformity with apostolic precedents or precepts would be correct. But is it necessary? The church in Troas met in the third floor of a building with the evident approval of apostle Paul, and this example belongs to the same category as the “saints” of 1 Corinthians 16. Why impose the “saints only” doctrine but not the third-floor example? The third-floor worship hall is a matter of expediency to them, but no one I’ve heard would maintain that it is a binding example. Other examples, or actions, have been recorded in the New Testament as acceptable actions by Christians and by churches, yet no one could say that these were commanded by Jesus: (a) praying at the ninth hour (or 3 pm); (b) preaching in synagogues of the Jews; (c) assembling the church and worshipping daily; (d) burying of the dead by young men of the church; (e) sailing in a ship; (f) kneeling while praying; (g) singing while hands and feet are bound; (h) worshipping by the river or by the seashore; (i) praying in the house of a tanner; (j) preaching while on board a running vehicle.

Inherent authority of the examples? An example may be authorized; but it is not the same thing as saying that that example has authority. This is the basic fallacy of those who insist on the bindingness of examples. Can you determine by examining the examples themselves if the action was the action required? I would say no. But can you determine by examining the commands if these are the commands required? Based on the context where that command is found, I would say yes.

Examples exemplify how the early Christians did a thing; but it is the command that governed the early church that also binds the church of the 21st century.

Questions and comments from brother Paul Lachica:

“Dear Brother Ed, I had been reading so many times 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. I would like to ask you, is the charge of Paul done in public worship on Sunday?”

My opinion is that the church of Corinth was “charged” to do this “on the first day of every week” (1 Corinthians 16:2), and that each is to “lay by him in store.” There is no proof by way of example that it was done during worship, or after worship, or before worship. I choose to err on the side of faith by saying that they did what was commanded by the apostle Paul: they gave when they assembled on the first day of the week.

“In my view, there is only act done on Sunday alone, that is partaking of the Lord’s Supper or some say Communion.”

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is an act of worship, for during the Supper we remember Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and coming again, and give honor to Him for such a great love that He has for us, dying for worthless sinners like us, a death that gave worth to our worthlessness. If you think the giving of our means is also a form of worship, then it is to be done during the public worship.

“Giving which started in Acts 2 is not done on Sunday only!”

I affirm that they gave of their means (Acts 2:45) but the Bible does not say what day. Therefore to impose the idea that Sunday is the only day of giving is to me the height of legalism.

“It [meaning “giving to the church collection”] is not even for everybody. Those in Jerusalem gave for the benefit of the visitors who had not gone home after the Pentecost. I am not ready to admit that aside from partaking of the Lord’s Supper, giving is another act to be done only on Sunday.”

Giving is not for everyone since everyone probably has not been prospered (1 Corinthians 16:2). Since only they who had means to give gave to support the needs of their poor brethren, then giving was not for everyone.

“I submit that I Corinthains 16:1-4 talks about Sunday Public Worship. There are other translations which says that “setting aside a portion of the income” is done at home so that christians are ready to give to Paul when he or his messenger decided to get the said “collection”. I want to be enlighten more!”

It may be true that the Corinthians set aside a portion of their income at home and brought it with them when they “came to church” (when they gathered). But I think our present method of giving, done during worship, is the most practical of all. Again, this is just an opinion.

If some brethren however do their giving by transferring money from their bank account to the church’s account during the week and not on Sunday, I won’t consider them sinning.

Some brethren may disagree with me on the manner of giving, and it would be wrong for me to insist on the correctness of my belief. What is most important to me is that the commands “even so do ye” (1 Corinthians 16:1) and “let everyone lay by him in store” (verse 2) have been fulfilled. Jesus says if we love Him we should keep His commandments (John 14:15). Thanks for the comments, Paul!

More to follow…

(4) Gift of the Holy Spirit and Related Issues

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While writing my articles on the subject of the Holy Spirit’s Indwelling, I keep visiting too the PBCAA blog hoping to hear from brethren who have been reading my posts in Mountain View Church blog. In a manner of speaking, the alumni blog serves as the sounding board, reflecting the brethren’s reaction about certain issues.

In my presentation of the issues, I have strived to be as clear as possible. But reading the reactions of some in the alumni blog, I have discovered that it is not always possible. When a brother says he is confused by what I have been saying in my articles, I can only sympathize. But there is always room for improvement.

In this article, I will be discussing the issues related to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.

“GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Acts 2:38 is the only place in the Bible where the phrase “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Greek, ten dorean tou hagiou pneumatos) is found. What does that mean? What is its implication?

Its use outside of the Bible. Doron, and its derivatives dorea, and dorean, all mean “gift” or “present.” “In extra-Biblical use, dorondorea) denotes a complimentary gift” (Colin Brown, gen. ed. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:40. This means volume 2, page 40). It is used to refer to the “gift from the gods” (for example, in Homer) as well as the “gift by men to the gods” (Ibid.) Homer the Greek poet (b. 800 BC, d. 750 BC) is best known for his Iliad and the Odyssey. For his biography, click this link: Answers.com. (similarly

Its use in the Old Testament. In the Septuagint, doron is used with the following principal meanings: (a) present that men give to one another (Genesis 32:13); (b) tribute of a vassal state to a conquering state (Judges 3:15); (c) bribe (Exodus 23:8); (d) a gift brought to Jehovah (Psalms 68:29); (e) gift from Jehovah (Genesis 30:20).

The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, dating in the 3rd century BC. The name is from the Latin “Septuaginta,” meaning “seventy,” referring to the seventy (or seventy-two) translators commissioned by the Jewish high priest at the time to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek at the behest of Ptolemy II (otherwise known as Ptolemy Philadelphus) to add to his Alexandrian library. For some information about the Septuagint, click this link: Answers.com.

Doron in the NT. In the New Testament, it stands for: (a) human gifts (Revelation 11:10; Matthew 7:11); (b) gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

Dorea in the NT. It is also used in the New Testament in the following senses: (a) gift of God, which is Jesus himself (John 4:10); (b) gift by the grace of Jesus (Romans 5:15); (c) gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17); (d) unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15); (e) gift of Christ (Ephesians 4:7); (f) heavenly gift (Hebrews 6:4); (g) gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

How to know which gift is spoken of. The above data show that the words doron, dorea, and dorean have been used both in the Bible and in extra-Biblical literature to mean “gift” or “present,” nothing else. The kind of gift that it is may be known by the adjectival participles or the prepositional phrases that accompany the word.

Adjectival participles, otherwise known as verbal adjectives, are participles that function as an adjective to describe the noun (Machen, 232).

A prepositional phrase includes both the preposition and the object of that preposition. “A preposition is a word which is used to help substantives express their case functions. It is so named because its position normally is immediately before the substantive with which it is associated” (Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek, 32).

Answers.com says a preposition is “a word or phrase placed typically before a substantive and indicating the relation of that substantive to a verb, an adjective, or another substantive, as English at, by, with, from,in regard to” (American Heritage Dictionaries, quoted in Answers.com. Click here). and

What about the object of the preposition? “In the Greek, the object of the preposition may be in the genitive, dative, or accusative, depending upon the thought being expressed by the author” (James Allen Hewett, New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar, 59). The object of the preposition is also known as the substantive. In grammar, a substantive is a word or group of words that functions as a noun.

“Prepositions do not govern cases or ‘take objects.’ They help substantives to express their relation to verbs or to other parts of speech. They mark the direction and position of the action expressed by the verb… The function of the cases is much older than the prepositions. The prepositions were developed to aid case functions already in use. In languages less inflected than Greek (English, for instance) the prepositions have come to be the main way of indicating case function. In Greek both preposition and inflected ending must be considered” (Summers, 32).

Acts 2:38. Alfred Marshall’s literal translation of the passage is: “And Peter [said] to them, ‘Repent ye, and let each one of you be baptized on the name of Jesus Christ with a view to forgiveness of the sins of you, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. Published by Zondervan Publishing House).

The part of the text for our consideration reads: “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Greek, kai lempsesthe ten dorean tou hagiou pneumatos). “You” (plural in number, referring to the persons to whom the message was addressed), is the subject of the clause. “Will receive” is the verb; it is transitive, the kind of verb that needs an object to complete its meaning. “Will receive” what? The answer is: “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This is the object of the verb.

Genitive of origin. Again, “gift of the Holy Spirit” is a prepositional phrase. What does the of-phrase, or that prepositional phrase, imply? In this usage it implies origin, and relationship, and I may add, belongingness. For example, tou Zebedaiou, “of Zebedee,” implies a belongingness, a sonship, if not a spousal relationship with Zebedee (cf. Machen, 379; see also Blass, Debrunner & Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 162). “Gift of the Holy Ghost” may mean “gift belonging to the Holy Spirit.”

Objective genitive. The phrase may also be used as an objective genitive (Blass, Debrunner, & Funk, 163). In this case, the “gift of the Holy Ghost” may mean the “gift that originates from the Holy Spirit.”

If that gift partakes of the nature of its giver, the Holy Spirit, then the “gift of the Holy Spirit” also means “spiritual gift.”

Indwelling Spirit? The “gift of the Holy Spirit” cannot be the indwelling Spirit. Firstly, there is no direct statement in the Scriptures that could attest to that. The passage does not say, “and you shall receive the indwelling Spirit,” or “and the Holy Spirit shall dwell in you.” To prove the doctrine that the Spirit indwells every Christian you have to make a lot of assumptions. This is not advisable for learners like us. Only “fools rush in where angels (and careful theologians) fear to tread.”

Secondly, In so many instances, the Bible speaks of the church as the habitation of the Spirit (see series 2 of these lessons). It is enough to say that the Spirit dwells in the temple, the church, and that the church permeates with His presence. He dwells in us as a collective body of Christ.

If however the “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 means the “indwelling of the Spirit,” it cannot mean the “indwelling of the Spirit in every Christian.” Analyzing the passage of Acts 2:38:

“Repent,” Greek metanoisate, is aorist imperative active, second person, plural in form. Imperative case, because it is a command. Active voice, because the one commanded should do the action himself. It is aorist tense, because it speaks of a one-time, or unitary, action (this also is the other usage of the aorist). It is second person plural in number, hence the subject is you, plural.

“Let each one of you be baptized,” Greek baptistheto, aorist, imperative, passive, third person, singular. The imperative form denotes that this is indeed a command (whoever told you that baptism is not commanded in Acts 2:38 has lost touch with the New Testament Greek texts!). It is aorist tense, signifying a point action (this is another use of the aorist). It is in the passive voice, “let each one of you be baptized.” It is third person singular, “each one of you.” Baptism is always an act performed by an individual on an individual, it is not a collective act.

“You will receive,” Greek lempsesthe, future indicative middle (deponent), second person, plural. In grammar, the indicative is the mood of the verb in making ordinary objective statements, or statements of facts. “The indicative mood is that mood which confirms the reality of the action from the viewpoint of the speaker” (Ray Summers, 12). lempsesthewill happen after the first action is done. “The time of action of the future tense is obvious. The kind of action may be either punctiliar or linear; the context will usually indicate which is intended. Usually it is punctiliar. The most natural construction for indicating continuous action in future time is the periphrastic future” (Summers, 63). Punctiliar action is an action to be done at a certain point in future time. A linear action refers to a continuous action in the future, is future tense, speaking of the subsequent action that

The verb lempsesthe is middle (deponent) second person plural; hence it has to be translated as “you will receive for yourselves” the “gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Thus if the promised gift is the “indwelling Spirit,” it is not the individual “you,” but the collective “you” who will receive it. It is a collective promise, and there is nothing in the verb that denotes that that promise is to be distributed individually. I think we should not make the Greek text say more than it actually says. I am afraid that this is actually what some theologians are doing.

The “gift of the Holy Spirit” is not salvation. If the passage reads this way: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive salvation,” the construction becomes redundant, and to me that does not prove the cause of one who espouses that teaching.

God is praised as the giver of all good gifts from above. “Every good gift (dosis) and every perfect gift (dorema, another variant of dorea) from above is coming down from the Father of the lights with whom change or a shadow of turning has no place” (James 1:17). He too is the source of the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (in which case we may say the Holy Spirit becomes God’s instrument to dispense the gift).

I am inclined to believe that the gift of the Spirit refers to a spiritual gift, not necessarily charismatic in nature. It is a good thing given by the Spirit, hence a “gift of the Spirit.” It originates from God Himself and the Spirit is just his instrument to dispense that gift to Christians. Since the Spirit dwells in Christians, it is some good thing the disciples receive as they imbibe of the spiritual food, and are guided by the Spirit of God, and have allowed the Spirit to take control of their lives. In full it summarizes everything that the Spirit does in your life, which includes interceding for you. However, that is just an opinion.

“THE EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT.” Earnest is a noun, not adjective and is used to translate the Greek arrabon. Vine says it is probably a Phoenician word (because of its Phoenician root) and introduced into Greece. This word refers to the earnest-money or pledge deposited by purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed (Vine’s, 2:11).

In classical Greek. The Greek word arrabon was borrowed from the Semitic erabon, “a legal concept from the language of business and trade” (Colin Brown, 2:39). Found rarely in Aristotle and later grammarians, it means: (a) “an instalment with which a man secures a legal claim upon a thing as yet unpaid for”; (b) “an earnest, an advance payment, by which a contract becomes valid in law” (Ibid., 2:40).

In modern Greek, arrabona is an engagement ring (Vine’s, 2:11).

In the Septuagint, it is used to refer to the pledge Judah gave to the supposed harlot (his daughter-in-law Tamar) in payment for the fleeting pleasures of sex (Genesis 38:17, 18, 20).

In the New Testament, it is used in reference to the “Holy Spirit as the divine pledge for all future blessedness” (Vine’s, 11). It is taught in 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22. The passage reads: “Now he that establisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God, who also sealed us, and gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (ASV).

God the guarantor. God is identified as the one who “establishes,” the Greek phrase ho de bebaion hemas, a participle used as substantive, translated as “the one making us firm.” The infinitive verb, bebaioo, means “to make a legal guarantee” (Rogers & Rogers, 394). bebaioo is a word that “appears often in the guarantee clause of a bill of sale” (Ibid.). God is the one who makes Christians firm in Christ, and He himself guarantees that act. Since it is in the present tense, it could be translated thus: “Now He that keeps establishing us in Christ,” “Now he that continually makes us firm in Christ.” His faithfulness is a guarantee that even until now He can keep on making Christians firm in Christ.

God the anointer. God is also the one who anointed us. Greek kai chrisas hemas, aorist active participle, literally means “the one having anointed us.” Since it is in the active voice, it denotes the idea that God himself is the one doing the anointing.

The aorist here does not refer to past tense anymore. Let me explain: If the verb is in the aorist tense, indicative mood, “the time of action is usually past” (Spiros Zhodiates, Grammatical Notations, Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, 433). On the other hand, the aorist participle “expresses simple action” and “does not in itself indicate the time of the action” (Ibid.). Take it from the scholars like Zodhiates, who is of Greek descent. For his short biography, click here.

The word chrisas is confined to sacred and symbolical anointings. In the Old Testament, only kings and priests and prophets were anointed (1 Samuel 10:1; Exodus 28:41; 1 Kings 19:16). The title “Christ” or “Christos” means “the anointed one” (Acts 4:26; 10:38; Luke 4:18; Hebrews 1:9). In 2 Corinthians 1:21, this is used to describe the believers.

God the sealer. God is the one who also sealed us (2 Corinthians 1:22), the Greek phrase ho kai sphragisamenos translated as “the one having sealed us.” sphragisamenos is aorist middle participle. “The middle voice represents the subject as acting in some way that concerns itself, or as acting upon something that belongs to itself” (Machen, 109). sphragisamenos signifies that “goods were sealed as a guarantee indicating not only ownership but also the correctness of the contents” (Rogers & Rogers, 394).

God the earnest-giver. God gave us the “earnest of the Spirit” in our hearts, the Greek phrase kai dous ton arrabona tou pneumatos en tais kardiais hemon translated as “and [the] one having given the earnest of the Spirit in the hearts of us.” The verb dous, “having given,” is aorist active participle of didomi, “to give.” The aorist participle simply looks at an action as a point action, which is neither past nor present.

The “heart,” kardia, is the chief organ of the physical life. If anything, the “hearts” is to be understood figuratively. It is a metaphor. “By an easy transition, the word came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements. In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life” (Vine’s, 2:206-207).

“The Scripture regards the heart as the sphere of divine influence, Romans 2;15; Acts 15:9… The heart, as lying deep within, contains the ‘hidden man,’ 1 Peter 3:4, the real man” (Vine’s, 2:207).

“The earnest of the Spirit.” “The earnest of the Spirit” is the pledge of God’s promise of eternal salvation, and he has sown it in the hearts of Christians. It is a pledge that binds the buyer to pay in full when the day comes. It is God’s way of telling us that He will fully redeem us. By redemption, I am talking about bodily redemption, and that redemption is yet future (Ephesians 4:30).

This earnest-pledge, this deposit, is taken to mean the “Holy Spirit himself.” See the following translations: 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14. This is because the clause is considered by these translators as epexegetical, in which case, “earnest of the Spirit” would thus be rendered as “earnest, which is the Holy Spirit.”

My comment about this epexegetical interpretation is simply this: Both 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5 speak of the earnest of the Spirit; but Ephesians 1:14 speaks of it as the “earnest of our inheritance.” Are all three passages speaking about the same thing, the Spirit? If “earnest of the Spirit” could be rendered as “earnest, which is the Spirit,” then “earnest of our inheritance” must also be rendered as “earnest, which is our inheritance?” If not, why not? Next, what shall Christians inherit? Is it eternal life in heaven or is it the Spirit?

Shouldn’t the phrase “earnest of the Spirit” or “deposit of the Spirit” be translated as “spiritual deposit” or “spiritual earnest”? This rendition may not contradict Ephesians 1:14. Our “spiritual earnest” is also our “spiritual inheritance,” and both of these point to heavenly life as the inheritance of the saints. But… there is a problem created by this interpretation too. For this reason we reserve a separate study of Ephesians 1:3-14, which will come out next issue.

Why in the hearts of Christians, not in the heart of the church? Frankly I am at a loss to explain. But let me venture an opinion:

There is no such thing as the “heart of the church.” “In our hearts,” meaning hearts of the Christians, is the biblical expression. Think then of the church as a group of people whose souls have been cleansed of its dross, whose hearts have been washed by the blood of the Lamb. Having been cleansed these hearts now have become the recipients of the earnest-deposit, God’s down payment of what the saints shall inherit in the hereafter.

The church is a blood-bought institution consisting of people individually blood-bought. Since every Christian in it is a blood-bought disciple, every purchase done is an individual transaction. To my way of thinking, the world is a market place full of goods— souls for sale. But the goods are living things, who can always decide when to leave the devil and his market place. Are you following my metaphors? Hope so. As Christ the Son makes the purchases, the Father makes the deposit, the spiritual earnest, His pledge of promise to fully pay what He has contracted to buy in the market place of souls.

All these– the purchasing, the depositing, the earnest-pledge, the market place, the hearts, the indwelling—are spoken in metaphors. But metaphors are as real as anything literal you can ever imagine. The purpose of these figures of speech, such as what we have been using, is to give particular emphasis to ideas or sentiments. Embellishing ordinary language with ornate designs in speech gives language the kind of impact that will arouse curiosity, encourage the search for meanings, and once understood, transport the listener to greater heights.

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(3) Figures Used to Describe the Church As God’s Habitation in Spirit

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Human hearts are the field, and God’s Word is the seed planted in it, and I think that Word also includes whatever He says about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God will certainly be pleased if that seed grows in us and bears the fruit that our Maker expects us to bear, fruit that shows that indeed the Spirit has been in control of our being. I am in agreement with those who say that we must let the Word dwell richly in us (Colossians 3:16). I am in disagreement with them however when they equate this indwelling of the Word with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That still remains to be proved.

From what He has taught us through the Word, God makes clear whatever He wants us to obey. But there are secret things in that Word that He has not revealed, and I think it is not in our province as human beings to strive hard or to agonize (I like this word!) to find those secrets (Deuteronomy 29:29). Let us be content with what has come out from the sanctity of heaven’s door. I am inclined to believe too that God is not pleased with sloppiness (cf. 2 Peter 3:16) when it comes to the understanding, interpreting and utilizing His Scriptures. Some advice therefore is in order.

First, There is the need to “rightly administer the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, Alford). The Greek orthotomounta literally means “rightly cutting or distributing,” the metaphor being from a father rightly cutting and rightly distributing bread among his children (Vitringa & Calvin).

The opposite of this is “adulterating” or “corrupting,” the translation of the Greek word kapeleuontes, literally “hawking, pawning off a product to get gain,” a word that alludes to tavern-keepers who mix wine with water to cheat the buyers (Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, 396). Paul says, “We are not as many, which corrupt [or adulterate] the word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

Second, There is the need to be precise in the use of language. Use of precise words coupled with clear and correct grammar is the mark of clear thinking. Gobbledygook, euphemism and highfalutin language don’t mean anything, but they occur quite a lot in religious articles. Wendell Berry says, “Once precision is abandoned as a linguistic or literary virtue, vague generalization is one of the two remaining possibilities, gibberish being the second” (Quoted by Author Paula LaRocque, The Book on Writing. Published by Marion Street Press, Inc. Cited here with the author’s permission).

Third, Learn to understand the figures of speech and be consistent in the use of it. Much disagreement could be avoided if we all clarify the terms we use in any discussion and if we are in agreement on the meaning of those terms.

There are only two ways to understand the meaning of a word: figurative and literal.

By literal we mean its basic, factual, straightforward, word-for-word meaning. When we take things literally, we take it at its face value. In this case the literal has only one implication and no other.

By “figurative” we mean the symbolical, emblematic, mystical, metaphorical, allegorical, metonymical, or synechdochical use of it. Knowledge of these terms will go a long way toward helping one understand God’s will. Alexander Pope says, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.”

Be consistent in the use of the figures of speech. Inconsistency in its use is the damnation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Iglesia ni Cristo-1914. The INC-1914 says the “east” is literal (cf. Revelation 7:2), the “far east,” meaning the Philippines; but the “ascending angel” is figurative, referring to Felix Manalo! JW’s literally interpret the “144,000” who were sealed (Revelation 7:4) as the number of those who would go to heaven (all of whom are Jehovah’s Witnesses!), but they claim the “twelve tribes of Israel” is just figurative!

Fourth, Pay particular attention to the tenses of the verb. Next to the etymological meaning of a word, the tenses is the second thing I take into consideration. Doing so will probably put a stop to theological messiness and sloppy interpretations you often hear from the mouths of the unlearned teachers and biased theologians and deprive them of any brain space (spaces in our brains is what I mean).

Shall I also add a fifth? Having a good temper too is necessary. Our purpose in any discussion is to learn, and if we have short fuses, we would end up killing one another. I laugh at a good joke, even as I discuss with a false teacher. The incomparable Alan Alda, the first and the only one who has received Emmy awards for acting, directing and writing movie series that became hits, says, “When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing one another” (quoted by Answers.com. Cited here with permission).

Continuing on with our study on the indwelling Spirit, let us consider the figures used to describe the church as God’s habitation in the spirit.

INDWELLING DEFINED. From the word oikos, “house,” we get the verb oikeo, which means “to dwell,” “to inhabit as one’s abode” (Vine, 344). Figuratively, God is said to be “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (Greek phos oikon aprositon, literally “light inhabiting unapproachable”) (1 Timothy 6:16). God dwelling in the light is not the same as you dwelling in your house.

The verb oikeo is also accompanied by its prepositions. Paul says “sin dwells in” him (oikousa en emoi hamartia, “sin dwelling in me,” Romans 7:20); oikeo with preposition en here is used figuratively to mean “to inhabit, to remain, to inhere” (Strong Greek Dictionary, quoted from e-Sword.net).

When Paul says that in his flesh “dwelleth no good,” this is understood to mean the absence of good in his mortal flesh. That also is to be understood figuratively.

By our statement that the church is God’s habitation in spirit, we mean that God spiritually dwells in the church, the prepositional phrase “in spirit” without article being understood to be an adverb of manner.

If we say that the church is God’s habitation through the Spirit, the Spirit becomes the instrument, the agency by which God dwells. It means that God representatively, not personally, dwells in the church.

THE CHURCH AS GOD’S FARM. Paul tells the church of Corinth, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

“Husbandry” (Greek georgion, from geo, land, and ergo, to do) is also translated as “working field” or “cultivated land” (Rogers & Rogers, 353); “tillage,” “tilled land,” or “farm” (Vine’s, 241). The use of this metaphor, drawn from agriculture, is suggestive of the cooperative efforts of Paul and fellow missionaries working together with God in the ministry of the gospel and in the care of the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:6).

“I planted” (Greek phuteuo) figuratively means “I instilled doctrine.” Paul compares his planting ministry in Corinth to the planting of the vine, of the tree, of the seed; and if there was any other teacher the parties at Corinth should honor, it was he who had laboured there first. But he regarded himself unworthy of such honor because it was God who gave the increase. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” (1 Cor 3:5, KJV). The word “ministers” (Greek diakonoi) signifies those who wait, those who attend to the service of someone higher in position. The verb diako, from which we derive the noun diakonos, “minister” or “servant,” has the obsolete meaning of “to run errands.” Paul and Apollos are just God’s errand boys!

“Apollos watered.” Or, “Apollos irrigated.” The figure is taken from the practice of watering tender plants or irrigating fields. This was so in eastern countries because their fields would become parched and dry for the long droughts and it was necessary to irrigate them by artificial means (Barnes). The meaning is: Paul started this congregation, and Apollos subsequently laboured much to make it grow; but the honor should go not to anyone of them, but to God. Apollos is nothing; Paul is nothing (1 Corinthians 3:5, 7). God “gave the increase.” The phrase “gave the increase” is a translation from the verb euxanen, imperfect indicative active, which in the infinitive means “to cause to grow.” There is a wonderful implication of the imperfect: It is a tense that denotes continued action in the past time (Machen, 65). “The imperfect indicates the continuous blessing of God on the work of both Paul and Apollos” (Rogers & Rogers, 352).

Now think about God the owner of the farm, maintaining His presence in that farm, watching the planters and the waterers—the errand boys—do their jobs. Without Him they would not expect a bountiful harvest, without His blessing they would fail.

God spiritually resides in His farm. He does not dwell in the bodies of the planters and the waterers. Think about this as you meditate on the figure.

THE CHURCH AS GOD’S BUILDING. See again 1 Corinthians 3:9. The use of this allegorical expression oikodome, drawn from architecture, is suggestive of the strengthening effect of the teaching and edifying ministries. Christ is the foundation of that building (verse 11), and workers for Christ are said to build upon (Greek epoikodomeo, from epi, upon, and oikodomeo, to build) that foundation.

Paul calls himself a wise (Greek sophon) master-builder (Greek architekton, which means “architect, master worker, skilled craftsman”). He calls himself ‘wise” because they who rally around men are not! He realizes that his contribution to the building job depends on the grace supplied by the Owner of the building (verse 10), and that too shows wisdom.

Paul “laid” (Greek etheka, aorist indicative active, signifying a past action) the foundation of the church, and the others subsequently “built” on that foundation (verse 10). Since there is only one foundation in the building of God, and that is Christ, let each one look (Greek, blepeto, “beware!” “be careful!”) how he builds on it (verse 10). “The master builder has the responsibility of the planning and construction of the building; therefore Paul is within his rights to require of preachers who come to labour on the builder’s work site and add to his construction that they be strictly faithful to the canon that he has determined once for all” (Rogers & Rogers, 353). Any man who builds on that foundation things that endure (like gold, silver, precious stones) or things that easily get burned and therefore do not endure (like wood, hay and stubble) (see verse 12), would have his work tested: “The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (verse 13). If his work abides, he shall be rewarded (verse 14). If his work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, yet he himself shall be saved, so as through fire (verse 15).

Christ being the foundation is mystically located in the building, is a part of the building, exercises a great role by holding the building together. He holds the saints together! Again, our understanding of this is not literal but figurative.

THE CHURCH AS GOD’S TEMPLE. Let us consider a number of passages that speak of the church as the temple of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Progressing from the building figure, he goes on and asks them, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). That is a direct statement, stated in an allegorical manner. The “you” in that passage is plural in form.

“Do you not know.” It is necessary for him to ask this question because of the carnal principles the Corinthian church has imbibed. They have rallied around party heads, they are full of envy and strife, they have sliced the church into factions (3:1-4), they have tolerated the adulterer in their midst (5:1ff), they have hauled up each other to court, have committed fornication (6:1ff), and by so doing, they are defiling the temple of God, the church.

“That you are God’s temple” (Greek, hoti naos theou este, literally, “that the temple of God you are”). The Greek word hieron is used to refer to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (Mark 11:11), as well as the temple of Diana (Acts 19:27). But “hieron is never used figuratively” (Vine’s, 115) to refer to the church as the temple of God; instead the word naos is used (in 1 Corinthians 3:16).

What does naos mean? Literally, it means a “sanctuary,” “a sacred place,” be it heathenish (Acts 17:24, “temples made with hands”; 19:24, “shrines for Diana”) or Jewish (Luke 1:9, 21, 22).

In John 2:19, 21, naos is used as a metaphor for Christ’s body: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

In 1 Corinthians 3, naos is used as a metaphor for the church, His sacred, mystical body, the sanctuary of His presence through the Holy Spirit.

What is the implication of this? For one, sanctity. The church is the body of the sanctified. The church is the saints, a people who have been washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Corinthians 6:11). There may be some in the church who have become spotted (that is why the advice is to keep oneself “unspotted,” James 1:27). But an unwashed person can never become a member of Christ’s body, the church.

Separation. The Greek word hagios means “sanctified,” or “holy.” It also means “separated.” Our use of the word hagios alludes to the Old Testament rite of washing and cleansing a vessel, and separating it for divine use. The saints are not only a “washed people,” they are also a “separated people,” separated from the world, separated unto Christ and unto the Father, separated by the Holy Spirit.

Divine presence is another. In the old system, the Shekinah had dwelt in the temple of God in Jerusalem. Under the present system, the church becomes His dwelling place, He is in their midst, He watches them, He listens to their pleas and their cries, He heals them. Through the church, His habitation in the Spirit, He mingles with His own people. Again, this is to be understood figuratively.

Christ is said to be present in any gathering done in His name, that is, by His authority (Matthew 18:20). This does not mean that He is physically present in our gatherings on Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, or any other day when Christians are gathered. I repeat, not physically.

In answer to one who insists that I am using this passage (Matthew 18:20) out of context, I say that if your Christ is present in your midst only during your disfellowship proceedings (this is the context), then your Christ is probably too small and powerless; he only comes during the disfellowship, but is absent during the fellowship?! What kind of reasoning is that?

Sacredness. As God’s spiritual habitation on earth, the church is sacred. Again, I am using this phrase in the figurative sense. Under the old system, death awaited those who polluted, defiled, or corrupted the temple of God in Jerusalem. In this present system, Paul says, destruction awaits also those who destroy the temple of God, the church (verse 17). By this we mean, spiritual destruction, eternal destruction, hell fire.

A place to offer sacrifices to the living God. On a Sunday gathering, the church becomes the temple where the worshippers offer living sacrifices to the God most high: their bodies, their praises of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, their prayers, part of their income during the week.

On any day the ungathered church still remains as God’s temple. Again, I understand this to be figurative.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20. If anything, this should also be taken as a parallel of 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, speaking about the same theme.

2 Corinthians 6:16. The passage says, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (KJV).

Again, the word temple (Greek, naos) here is used “of the innermost sanctuary where the divine presence is supposed to be located” (Rogers & Rogers, 405, 406). Since the living God dwells in it, that temple must be vibrantly alive with His presence.

Furthermore, the text reads: “As God hath said, I will dwell in them” (Greek enoikeso en autois, literally, “I will dwell among them,” verse 16). The passage does not say, “I will dwell in each one of them.” God dwells in them as a group, not in each individual. The idea of enoikeso is to describe God’s spiritual presence in their midst (cf. Vine’s, 345).

Should you have any question about the tense of the verb enoikeso, future indicative active, this is my explanation: it is a prophecy quoted by Paul from the Old Testament, hence the tense is future. “The words here quoted are taken substantially from Exodus 29:45, Leviticus 26:12, Ezekiel 37:27. They are not literally quoted, but Paul has thrown together the substance of what occurs in several places. The sense, however, is the same as occurs in the places referred to” (Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament)

THE CHURCH AS GOD’S SPIRITUAL HOUSE. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 2:5, KJV).

Ye as living stones. Greek, kai autoi hos lithoi zontes, “you yourselves as living stones,” describes the kind of material that they are; in contrast to the stones and aggregates people quarry from rivers and mountains, they are alive and organic materials to be utilized for the raising up of God’s spiritual house. Having been born again to eternal life (Romans 6:4-6), baptized in the name of Jesus (Galatians 3:27), they now partake of both the life and the name of Jesus, “a living stone, chosen of God, and precious” (verse 4). The Greek verb zontes is present active participle; as a participle describing the Christians as stones, it functions as an adjective, hence “living stones.” Since the tense is in the present, that makes them “continually living stones.” If the voice of the verb were passive, they could be described as “stones that are being made alive.” However the voice of the verb is active; it seems as if “living” is the act to be done by the stones. My translation is: “You as stones that continually live,” or “you as stones that remain alive.” Greek studies become more exciting as you keep on digging!

God’s spiritual house, or God’s habitation in the Spirit, which is the church, remains alive forever. As long as those stones are alive, they remain in God’s spiritual house. These stones must act and live. Ever wonder why the inspired writer told the first century Christians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”? (Philippians 2:12). If we remain passive, or inactive, we fall. Stones that are “dead,” “inactive,” unfit for the Master’s use are better thrown into the garbage dumps.

Are being built. This is the literal translation of the verb oikodomeisthe, present indicative passive of oikodomeo, “to build, to erect a building.” The present indicative expresses the idea of a building being constructed until the present times. The stones that are to become the materials for building the temple are to remain alive, or living, throughout. Stones that do not fit are made to fit: need a lot of grace from Jesus and a lot of growing to do before one becomes fit. Stones that are dead (or “fallen away!’) are replaced, new stones take their place. The foundation for that temple (Jesus Himself, 1 Corinthians 3:11) has been laid in Zion two thousand years ago; the building is still on-going.

A spiritual house. That is, “a house pertaining to the Spirit,” “a house suited to the Spirit” (Rogers & Rogers, 570). If anything, it is a house only a spiritual Personality can live in. The Holy Spirit dwells in a temple whose construction is still on-going.

Yet this house is also a holy priesthood. To Peter, the church is a household of holy priests (“a sanctified priesthood,” v. 5); furthermore, they are a household of royal priests (“a royal priesthood,” meaning “a kingdom of priests,” verse 9).

To offer up spiritual sacrifices. Peter turns this spiritual house into priests who offer sacrifices to the God who lives among them. Does this confuse you? Not, if you are spiritually inclined. Neither, if you think Peter here is a God-ordained spiritual advisor dispensing spiritual knowledge to spiritual people. All we have to do is move along as the inspired man moves, as he excites us in every turn, taking us to spiritual heights of knowledge that none of the untutored minds have been privy to. This tells us what God’s purpose for the church is: It is to offer up spiritual sacrifices.

Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. God, ever since the beginning, has decided what sacrifices are acceptable to Him. The rules have been laid down. While the object of these is to please our Maker, they also are for our own good. “The way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). One of the personalities of the Godhead came to earth, and lived like us, became our example, showed us how to please our Father—His Father, and our Father too–by making a sacrifice of Himself. In turn we too are to offer up spiritual sacrifices which the Father will accept.

The preposition in this phrase, “by,” should be translated “through,” since it is dia genitive. Dia is the primary preposition that denotes the channel of an act (Strong Greek Dictionary, quoted in e-sword.net). This gives a lot of consolation to us humans, because our sacrifices and efforts, no matter how inadequate and puny, as long as they are done according to the rule of faith, are acceptable to God through Jesus.

THE SUMMARY OF THE MATTER. God dwells in the church figuratively speaking. Furthermore I say, God spiritually dwells in the church founded by His Son even until today. He has started to dwell in this new temple of His since the day it was founded in the city of Jerusalem two thousand years ago. This temple has replaced that one in Jerusalem where His Shekinah used to dwell. All ancient prophecies have looked forward to the establishment of this new temple, the church. My Bible tells me that it is this church, which is also called the kingdom, that shall enter into His spiritual presence on the last day (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

My faith in Him summons my reason and logic to accept these conclusions unconditionally. When I say I accept these matters unconditionally, it is unconditionally on my part. Only God makes the conditions; His Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). I have no hang-ups, no difficulties accepting all these by faith. This act of mine is a kind of faith-walking, not sight-walking.

The Bible says that the church becomes His habitation in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:21). The Greek preposition en in this passage denotes fixed position in time, place, or state, and if so it implies spiritual presence, nothing more. If en denotes instrumentality, then the Spirit becomes the agency or instrument by which God dwells in the church, in which case “through the Spirit” is also a correct translation. So in Ephesians 2:21 God is said to dwell in the church “by the Spirit,” “in the Spirit,” or “through the Spirit.” Accept all these conclusions because this is how the ancients spoke and wrote.

When God in His word speaks to us in figuratives, it is for the purpose of summoning our inward man to listen and be blessed. Let that inward man listen to what the Spirit says through the Word.

A Christian, born of the Spirit, must understand too that there are still so many things he may not understand about the ways of the Spirit. But we have been furnished a picture–scriptural declarations of how the Spirit works, and when, and where. You want to see more? Wait for it in God’s own time, in God’s own choosing. He gives you one picture now, and as your knowledge of the scripture grows, and as your spirit is being carpentered smoothly on the anvil of divine experience, you will be furnished more pictures.

The rest of the pictures are reserved in heaven. There, all questions will be answered, all anxieties will be satisfied, all doubts will be erased.

Be content, and wait with faith and longing eyes, your minds focused on Him who is the solution to every mind-boggling thing.

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(2) How the Spirit Dwells in Us

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I cannot argue with the Book (the Bible) although some may consider it only a “book,” because doing so would be to argue with the God who inspired that Book. I once argued with my Philippine history teacher because she made George Dewey the first American civil governor of colonial Philippines. You cannot argue with facts, but you can argue with wrong “facts.” You cannot argue with an inspired man. But in this age of post-miracles and post-inspiration, you can argue with any man about the Book, including Apollo Quiboloy, Eli Soriano, Erano Manalo, Ruben Ecleo and the “pope” of Rome, since they are never inspired. The axe falls where it may. Don’t take it then as a sign of disrespect if I question everything that I read, every teaching that I heard, regardless of who wrote or taught it. I teach nothing in secret and you have every right too to examine my premises and my conclusions.

The Holy Spirit does dwell in the Christians. But the question is: How? It is here where most disagreements lie. But since there are many bright and intelligent men on both sides of the controversy, you will certainly hear some uncertain sounds. Sometimes the discussion heats up it becomes a battle for numbers. The one with the most number of adherents wins.

What we need are wise men, not just intelligent or bright ones.

In this discussion, I take a different approach and for a different reason. My purpose is not to win an argument. I look at the question and the facts in front of me, hopefully, without my colored glasses on, without my preconceived notions, without my set of beliefs.

A missionary of the Lord’s church, who equated “being indwelt by the Spirit” with “being filled by the Spirit” (a conclusion which we have just proved to be lexically and etymologically wrong, see series 1), seeing from the Scriptures that only inspired men had been “Spirit-filled,” concluded that the indwelling of the Spirit had ceased with the death of the last inspired writer. There is no Spirit-indwelling today, he said. He was wrong.

In approaching the question, I try to look at ALL the facts related to it and based on a good number of reasons, I may make my conclusion. But, that conclusion is subject to further investigation and examination. The reason I do this is because I am not an inspired man and neither do I have a hotline connection to the office of the Deity.

This doctrine is like a puzzle, and I am trying to find the pieces that fit. Like any specimen in the lab, the Bible too may be examined, by us, and by those who are very critical of it. The facts about that specimen, its character and nature– they do not change–and if those facts are printed and published by machines configured only to print and publish what they see, these facts would come out the same. But in the eyes of men whose hearts have been configured to believe only what they want to believe, you would hear different conclusions.

This study is an invitation to you to learn with me.

Does the Holy Spirit dwell in us through the Word? The proponent of this theory argues that “the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian indirectly, that is, through a medium,” which is the Word of God. Citing Romans 8:1-2, he says that the “Holy Spirit has a law that set us free from the slavery we were under, from the law of sin and death,” and that law is “the word of God, the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The paragraph in Romans 8 begins with a “therefore,” or “consequently,” an inference drawn from the argument which Paul made in Romans 7. That argument shows that in Christ the disciples are delivered from sin and from the curse of the Law. Since they have been delivered, they are now in Christ, and since they are now in Christ, they are no longer under condemnation or punishment. Romans 8:2 literally reads, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ FREED you from the law of sin and of death” (Alfred Marshall’s translation). “Freed” is from the Greek, eleutherosen, which means “liberated,” aorist indicative active of eleutheroo, to liberate. As this law liberated Paul and other Christians of long ago, it too could liberate anyone from the law of sin and death today.

The question is what law? The proponent argues that the Holy Spirit has a law, and that is the Bible. He argues from the use of the genitive, the of-phrase. “The Bible is the law of the Spirit, and since you keep the Spirit’s law within you, then He also resides, or dwells within you.”

But the Word is not just the law of the Spirit, it is also the law of God (Joshua 24:26; Romans 7:25) as well as the law of Jesus (Galatians 6:2). Hence you have not just the Spirit dwelling in you through the word, you have all of the Godhead dwelling in you. What proves one, proves all, and therefore proves nothing.

Take these other examples: The “law of the burnt offering” (Leviticus 6:8); the “law of the sin offering” (Leviticus 6:24-25); the “law of the trespass offering” (Leviticus 7:1); the “law of the beast” (Leviticus 11:46); the “law of him that hath an issue” (Leviticus 15:32); the “law of Moses” (2 Chronicles 30:16). Are you ready to believe that when that law resides in you, you have a lot of things–not just the Holy Spirit– residing in you?

It is illegal and anomalous to argue the indwelling of something by the use of the of-phrase.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 and Hebrews 4:12 are also cited to prove that the word of God has the power to make us complete and fully equipped. This does not help to prove the contention that the Holy Spirit dwells through the Word.

I am in agreement with this brother when he says that the Holy Spirit does not dwell in us literally. But the doctrine of the representative indwelling of the Spirit through the Word is not the kind of indwelling the Bible teaches.

Does the Spirit dwell in the bodies of Christians? The teaching that we have to keep our bodies morally pure and that we have to quit our vices like smoking and drinking because by continuing on with these vices, we are destroying our bodies, and our bodies are God’s temple, is one teaching the brethren keep promoting. Its intents and purposes are noble and profound. There are two basic texts used. First is 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. The passage says: “Know ye not that a shrine of God ye are, and the Spirit of God in you dwells? If anyone defiles the shrine of God, God will defile this man, for the shrine of God is holy, which ye are.”

Paul begins his argument by asking the question: “Know ye not that you are a temple of God (Greek, ou’k oidate hoti naos theou este)”? The pronouns used in this construction are PLURAL. One pronoun is found in the verb ending –te of the verb oidate, translated as “know ye not,” and in the separate pronoun este, translated as “ye are.” Paul is talking to them as a group: “Know ye (plural) not that you (plural) are a temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you (plural).” By using the plural pronoun “you” (or ye) and “your” and the singular noun “body,” Paul does not have the individual bodies of Christians in mind; he is addressing the Corinthian Christians as a “body.” The Christians of Corinth are a temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in them.

Paul could have said: “Know ye not that your bodies are a temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in your bodies?” Then we could understand that he means individual bodies of Christians. See for example his language in 1 Corinthians 6:15.

“If any man defiles that temple, God shall defile him.” To defile the temple also means “to destroy [it] by means of corrupting, and so bringing [it] into a worse state…With this significance it is used of the effect of evil company upon the manners of believers, and so of the effect of association with those who deny the truth and hold false doctrine [1 Corinthians 15:33 is cited in support. ETM]…With the significance of destroying, it is used of marring a local church by leading it away from that condition of holiness of life and purity of doctrine in which it should abide, 1 Cor. 3:17…and of God’s retributive destruction of the offender who is guilty of this sin…” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 242). If anyone destroys the group, God shall destroy that person, because the temple of God is holy, and you (plural) are that temple. Anyone who destroys the church, God shall destroy!

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 does not teach that the Holy Spirit dwells in the individual bodies of Christians, either spiritually, personally, literally or representatively.

The second text we shall consider is 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19, 20. In verse 15, Paul asks the question: “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.” In contrast to 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul here talks of “bodies,” and there is no denying that this term refers to individual Christians. Individual Christians are members of Christ. What does the phrase “members of Christ” mean? In Acts 5:14, it is said that “believers were ADDED TO THE LORD”; in Acts 11:24, “a crowd was ADDED TO THE LORD”; in Acts 2;47, we read of saved believers that the Lord ADDED TO THEM or to the church (KJV). Since the church is the Lord’s body (Ephesians 1:22-23), to be added to the Lord is to be added to His body. Thus we conclude that the phrase “members of Christ” means members of Christ’s body, the church.

The “body” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is not referring to individual bodies. My conclusion is based on the fact that the pronouns used here are plural. “What? Do you (plural) not know that your (plural) body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which you (plural) have from God and you (plural) are not of yourselves (plural)? For you (plural) were bought with a price; therefore, you (plural) glorify God in your (plural) body.”

Notice especially the clause “For you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). The verb egorasthete, translated “ye were bought,” is aorist indicative passive plural. It is indicative because it is a declaration or statement of a fact: “You were bought.” It is passive since the subject of the verb, “you,” is not the one doing the action but is being acted upon (Someone did the buying, not you). The verb egorasthete is plural, hence the pronoun is also plural (you must understand that in Greek grammar, the endings of the verbs signal the kind of pronouns those verbs have). Finally, it is aorist, signifying a past action, an action that is done, finished, fulfilled.

May we remind you that Jesus had bought a church two thousand years ago and you are just added to it. The buying is an action that has been concluded in the past, and today He is just adding men and women to the church He has bought. The translation in your KJV, “ye are bought with a price,” is not correct.

Again, according to Paul’s teachings, the group is the temple or shrine of God, the habitation of the Spirit. If you still insist that the Spirit dwells dynamically, personally, representatively in the body of a Christian, you cannot expect any help from 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-21. Look for it elsewhere.

The Holy Spirit dwells in the church. Consider the passage of Ephesians 2:19-22. It says: “Then therefore ye (plural) are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye (plural) are fellow-citizens of the saints and members of the family of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom (singular relative pronoun, referring to Jesus) all the building being fitted together grows into a holy shrine (or temple) in the Lord; in whom (singular pronoun, still referring to the Lord Jesus) also you (plural) are being built together into a dwelling house of God in Spirit.”

Paul has just told the Ephesian church that at the time that they were without Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, they were also strangers from the covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12); now he tells them, that is past, “you are no more strangers” (Ephesians 2:19), because they are now partakers of those covenants of promise.

They are no longer sojourners or aliens (Greek, paroikos) (Ephesians 2:19). An alien or sojourner is one who lives alongside the inhabitants of the place. According to Old Testament meaning, “a resident alien was subject to only a part of the law of the land and enjoyed only a corresponding legal protection” (Rogers and Rogers, A New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 438). In Christ, they have ceased to be sojourners (Ephesians 2;19); they are now subject to all His laws, and enjoy His full protection.

Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that they are now fellow-citizens (Greek, sumpolitai) with the saints (Greek, ton hagion) and with the household of God (Greek, oikeioi ) (Ephesians 2:19). What do these words mean?

A polites is a member of a city or state, or the inhabitant of a country or district. A sumpolites is a fellow member of a city or state, possessing the same rights and privileges as the polites.

The saints are the sanctified ones in Christ Jesus. The household (or house) of God is the church (1 Timothy 3:15).

What does Paul mean when he tells the Ephesians that they are now fellow-citizens with the saints? It means that they enjoy the same rights as the sanctified ones in Christ Jesus, having Him as their Savior to cleanse them of their sins. Their cleansing does not end after they are baptized, for they would always need their Savior to continually cleanse them, and to keep them saved. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sins” (1 John 1:7). Cleansing, according to this verse, is a continuing process.

They are also fellow-citizens with the household of God and as such they have God as their Father, and Jesus as their older brother. As fellow-citizens with other members of the church, they too have Jesus as their head and Savior (Ephesians 5:23), and they enjoy the fellowship with the saints on high and the fellowship with the Godhead. The Greek word oikeioi, “member of the household,” when used of persons means “one’s family,” strictly of relatives or kinsmen; loosely of familiar friends. But it is also used “of all members regardless of social or personal position” (Rogers and Rogers, p. 438).

Paul tells them that they are built on a sure foundation, the foundation of the apostles (who began the church on Pentecost day) and of the prophets (who prophesied about the church prior to Pentecost day), of which Jesus Himself is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The phrase “are built” is from the Greek epoikodomethentes, an aorist passive participle, literally translated as “having been built on.” It is a participle and is used as an adjective to describe the church. It is passive indicating that they, the church, have been acted upon; that the church did not build itself, it was just the beneficiary of an action. Jesus is the builder of it (Matthew 16:18).

In Christ Jesus, all in the building are “being fitted together” (Greek, sunarmologoumene, present passive participle of sunarmologeo, to fit together). As a participle, in Greek grammar it functions as a description of the noun, in which case it is the church structure described as being fitted together. In the parlance of the builders and constructors, the word describes the “elaborate process by which some stones are fitted together: the preparation of the surface including the cutting, the rubbing, and the testing; the preparation of the dowels and the dowel holes, and finally the fitting of the dowels with molten lead” (Rogers & Rogers, 638).

Since it is passive, Someone, not us, is doing the architectural job of making every part in the structure fit together. You as a brother, a part in the structural building, do not have any right to complain that your brother does not fit in the structure. It is the Lord’s prerogative to make all of you fit together, and he does this by making you grow everyday, changing you gradually, until you fit in. Notice too that the tense of the verb is in the present, not past or future.

The parts of the building being fitted together grows into a holy shrine or temple of the Lord (Ephesians 2:21). The Greek verb auxei, translated “grows” means to grow or to increase. It is present indicative active. The present indicates that the growing is continuous, and auxei may also be translated as “continuing to grow and develop. Though the building is structurally complete, it continues to grow with the addition of individual stones” (Rogers and Rogers, p. 438). The church keeps growing, becoming a temple of God.

Paul then tells the Ephesians that in Christ they “are also being built together as a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21). The Greek verb sunoikodomeisthe, “ye are being built together,” is present indicative passive. The indicative as we have said shows that this sentence construction is a declaration of a fact or state of things. The passive shows that Christ is the one doing the building. The present is used because the building is still going on. They are being built as the dwelling of God through the Spirit.

You and I are just stones being made to fit into the building, parts of the structure being built as God’s temple. God does not dwell in you or in me as stones; He dwells in the whole building, the church. And He dwells there through the Spirit.

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