Friday, April 21, 2017

This generation: Luke 21, Matthew 24, and Mark 13... What did Jesus mean by those words? Part 3

"I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all things take place." 

(Luke 21:32 HCSB)

This is the third post in this series. You can find the first one here and the second one here. I would suggest that you read all three but it is not necessary to to read the others before reading this. However, after reading this you may want to go back and read the other two.

How do we interpret what we read. Yes, the question is a valid one. All written material has to be interpreted. Some is more straight forward, and less open to varying interpretations, and some is more obtuse, and thereby open to multiple interpretations. There are several things to consider. Who was the intended audience? What was the writer trying to convey? Was there literary devices used? What would the intended audience understand the writing to mean? I think it is safe to assume that the writings that comprise the New Testament were written to the first century audience unless it is expressly explained to be more universal. Am I saying that the messages cannot have a timeless universal meaning, absolutely not. However, I most definitely am saying that they WERE NOT specifically written to us or any generations before us or after us except for the first century church.

Yet, that is precisely how so much theology is determined. It is as though the scripture was written to us here in the 21st century. However, Jesus said these words, to his disciples, as he was leaving the temple. I have shown so far that the questions asked by his disciples tied his "this generation" directly to the destruction of the temple which took place in 70AD, and that his use of "this generation" / haute genea was most likely, the forty-year generation alive at the time he said it, similar to the forty-year generation that died in the wilderness in Moses Day.

Here is a chart I made a few years ago that illustrates how I think that Jesus indeed could have meant this generation as the forty-year generation alive at this speaking:


The above timeline is the record of redemptive history that coincides with the biblical narrative. It shows a little over six thousand years of history recorded in the bible. I realize that some of you may believe the world is much older than six thousand years, and quite frankly so do I, yet this makes a coherent illustration no matter the time from creation to Abraham.

There are however, several salient points to be made. First and foremost let's look at the Mosaic Covenant. It makes up a rather small piece of the timeline given all of the emphasis that is attached to the Law. I find that surprising in view of current evangelical and orthodox doctrine about the importance of law righteousness. What should be even more glaring on this timeline is the small, almost bullseye nature of the two top most periods. I am referring to the orange time of all the prophets, and the red span of the Christ event from Antiochus Ephiphanes to the destruction of the temple. The prophets make their prophecies in the orange period, and they come to fruition in the red period. That is almost like a bulls eye and if the timeline was stretched out proportionally, they would indeed be mere bulls eyes on an enormously long line.

This is especially interesting in light of Jesus words in the little apocalypse: "So when you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place" (let the reader understand)," (Matthew 24:15 HCSB) Especially when you read the Apocrypha Book, (1 Maccabees 1:54 KJV-1611)  "Now the fifteenth day of the moneth Casleu, in the hundreth fourtie and fift yeere, they set vp the abomination of desolation vpon the Altar, and builded idole altars throughout the cities of Iuda, on euery side:" So, since First Maccabees was known in Jesus time, he was aware of the passage in 1Maccabees 1:54, He was aware that the scribes and Pharisees believed that Aniochus was the abominator, and I think that is exactly why he said "let the reader understand." It was abominated by Antiochus Ephiphanes in 167BC but it would not be desolated until 70AD, still forty-years (one-generation... this generation) in the future. So, it is very likely that the abomination of desolation was not one event but a series on that bulls eye of the timeline.

There are other things to be gleaned from the above chart but we'll let this settle in for this time.






Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This generation: Luke 21, Matthew 24, and Mark 13... What did Jesus mean by those words? Part 2

This is the second post in this series. You can find the first one here

"I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all things take place." 
(Luke 21:32 HCSB)

In this post we will look at the word generation as it was used in the Greek in the first century. The word is genea. But for starters, since generation is in an English translation of the bible let's look at the definition in English first, here is the definition on Wikipedia. It is not that I find Wikipedia exceptionally reliable in information, but this definition articulates what I believe to be the common meaning when one hears this generation. generation is "all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively." It can also be described as, "the average period, generally considered to be about thirty years, during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children of their own." These two definitions sum it up.

Secondly, and this is important... Jesus was a Jew, he was familiar with the Hebrew scriptures, and also the Septuagint which was the Hebrew scriptures translated into Greek. So then, it is very important to see the use of the Greek word genea in the Septuagint. When I do a search of the Old Testament for the word generation, I find that it is always translated from the Hebrew word dor. Interestingly, it has the same meaning as the second definition in Wikipedia. That is, dor is a generation of thirty to forty years, and in Hebrew though it was forty years as signified by the forty year span that the disobedient Hebrews had to roam the desert without making it into the promised land.'

So then, even though Greek would allow the usage of genea to sometimes be a nation, that would not be the likely use that Jesus would use. Especially when one looks at Jewish hermeneutical devices. The first century Rabbi's often used words that would take one back to a former passage of scripture. That was a common device in first century Judea, and is everywhere in the new testament. So, when Jesus said. this evil generation he was bringing to remembrence "None of these men in this evil generation will see the good land I swore to give your fathers," (Deuteronomy 1:35 HCSB) He did not just make this statement once but several times. It can be found in Matt 12:39,45; Matt 16:4 & Luke 11:29. It becomes very clear that for two reasons, one that the Septuagint only translated dor as genea, and secondly, that He referred back to Deu 1:35 when he used the word genea, that he would mean dor when he spoke about this generation. Especially in view of the fact that each and every time he said "this generation" he was being critical.

The other reason that theologians use to show that he did not mean the current generation when he said "this generation" is so weak that it is actually absurd when you hear it given. They say that he did not mean the current generation but rather the generation dor alive at the time of the end. Why would he even say that? Of course, it is obvious that at the end of the world, the end of the space time continuum, the generation alive then would see it come to fruition. When you stop and think about it, that argument is idiotic at best, but worse than that, it is deceptive to try to put a spin on the statement because of the fear that it did not come to pass and then one has a dilemma of large proportions. But, there is another solution. One that keeps the integrity of the prophecy.

I am not like the atheists. I do not think that Jesus' prophecy failed. I think it came to pass just the way he meant it but, since people want to stick to a strictly literal translation of the things said in the little apocalypse, they cannot accept that it indeed was fulfilled in the generation of the first century Jews that were contemporary with Jesus. However, it most definitely was!

We will look into this further next time....



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

This generation: Luke 21, Matthew 24, and Mark 13... What did Jesus mean by those words? Part 1

"I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all things take place." 
(Luke 21:32 HCSB)

This is the favorite verse of atheists. They use that to show that Jesus' prophecy did not come to pass and discredit him. There are several meanings that theologians have used to explained what He meant. Yes, they are conflicting. So, there is uncertainty in the real meaning of the passages that theologians have labeled the "little apocalypse." This is especially true when one takes the plain simple meaning of the text. Anyone who is honest would have to admit that it appears at first blush that Jesus referred to the generation alive at the time of his speaking, which would have meant within forty years at the most.

It all boils down to the meaning of the Greek word genea which is translated as "this generation." According to Strong's Greek Lexicon, it can mean either generation or nation. These two meanings account for all of the various interpretations out there. In a nutshell, it is thought to be this nation shall not pass away, or this generation alive at the time of the end will not pass away, or there are those who believe that it is the forty-year generation alive at the time of Jesus.

My answer to this interpretative conundrum is that he indeed meant the forty-year generation alive at the time he spoke. This of course has implications that tend to fly in the face of orthodoxy, but that should not alarm any of my regular readers as I challenge orthodoxy all the time.  It is however very important to unbelievers and believers alike.  We will look at this from several angles, but the first one that I would like to deal with is this: what was the question from his disciples that he was answering? This is an important question in establishing meaning as it provides context for the meaning of this generation.

"Teacher," they asked Him, "so when will these things be? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?" 
(Luke 21:7 HCSB)

"While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately and said, "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" 
(Matthew 24:3 HCSB)

"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to take place?" 
(Mark 13:4 HCSB)

The statement that begat each of the above questions was as follows; Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!" (Mark 13:2 HCSB) So then to be clear, the event predicted is the destruction of the temple. It is fair to say then that Jesus answer, has to be seen tied to the destruction of the temple. The time frame is indeed the destruction of the temple. Many of those who speak of this bring up Matthew 24:3 and claim that it is tied to the end of the space time universe. This is largely because of the fact that the King James Version reads "your coming and the end of the world." However notice that in the other two accounts, the only question asked is when will these things take place. What things? Since Jesus only mentioned the destruction of the temple, it is imperative to see that they were asking the question based on the destruction of the temple.

So why was "his coming" and the end of the age mentioned in the Matthew account and not mentioned in Luke and Mark? I believe the answer is fairly strait forward and simple. Luke and Mark were written to a Gentile audience, and Matthew was written mostly for the Jews. The Jews alone, based upon Daniel prophecies were looking for the end of the age. Let's be clear that the end of the age in no way was considered to be the end of the space-time continuum by the first century Jews. Likewise, his coming, was considered only by the Jews as "a coming" in judgment against his enemies, in which he would make his enemies his footstool. This was based upon all of the prophecies in the Old Testament. Therefore, one could legitimately say that they were only asking about the destruction of the temple also. The only difference was that they included the destruction of the temple with the prophesied judgment, and the end of the age. All three accounts of the question his disciples asked were before any apocalyptic language was introduced.

The most important thing to consider in this first post is that the entire conversation was linked directly to the destruction of the temple and cannot be removed from that event. I have not yet mentioned genea and its use but will in subsequent posts.

You can read Part 2 Here


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The obviously cultural aspects of the scripture; Paul the Rabbi/Paul the Mystic Part 2

This post is turning into a series. I am building on the theme that the scripture has cultural bias in it. Further, and more to the point, God did not mean for these biases to be legislated into belief and practice in perpetuity. After reading this, I would suggest you read the first post in the series here if you have not already done so. There are sound, biblical reasons for this. They center on what Jesus taught his followers about scripture interpretation, and what they in turn passed on in the writings that form the New Testament scripture. Jesus' focus was two fold. It was for the immediate future, his death, burial and resurrection, but also, it was more timeless, meant for a time, when the true meaning of his death burial and resurrection would be revealed. Paul referred to it as a mystery.

Likewise, Paul's mission was two fold. 1) He was to take his extensive Rabbi training, and make sense out of the gospel from a Jewish perspective and Jewish tradition. 2) He was a mystic, and given revelation that even he did not completely understand. That is why he called the gospel a mystery. The evidence of his rabbinical training is obvious. He was a student of Gamaliel; He continued, "I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law. Being zealous for God, just as all of you are today," (Acts 22:3 HCSB) Here is the other side of Paul, Paul the Mystic, "Boasting is necessary. It is not profitable, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don't know, God knows. I know that this man--whether in the body or out of the body I don't know, God knows-- was caught up into paradise. He heard inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak." (2 Corinthians 12:1-4 HCSB)

I will expand on Paul the Rabbi - Paul the Mystic as time goes on but for this purpose, I want to make sure that it is obvious that God used Paul the Rabbi to explain how the Jewish Messiah, was actually, the Spiritual Messiah of all humanity, and He accomplished that through Paul the Mystic. Paul the Rabbi was for the first century. Paul the Mystic was for the future. The message that is timeless is Paul's mystical visions. The cultural aspects written about by Paul the Rabbi were for the first century and quite frankly need to be left there.

One of the more important mystical discoveries of Paul was the relationship of Law and Grace. As a rabbi he had been trained in the Law in great detail. He learned that even though God had commanded Law righteousness, it could not be attained. "For Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law: The one who does these things will live by them." (Romans 10:5 HCSB) However, God had promised in Deuteronomy 30 a new covenant outcome, and Paul is given the actual meaning of Deu 30:14. It was never the plain sense simple meaning. Rather it was ALWAYS the redemptive meaning... the meaning that was given it before the foundation of the world (Ephesians chapter 1.) "On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim(Romans 10:8 HCSB)" This is a quote from Deu 30. Paul explains the message they are preaching.  And what precisely is that message? "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-13 HCSB)

So, it is clear that we have Paul the rabbi, dealing with the cultural aspects of Judaism, and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the family of God and His Kingdom, and we have Paul the mystic receiving timeless messages that explain the relationship God desires with all people. The legal aspect is the cultural, and the redemptive aspect is the mystical. Since Jesus taught a hermeneutic that was heavily redemptive in focus, and Paul did as well, that should be the ONLY focus of Christ followers. Whether you call them Christians, the church, the way, the believers by any name, should be taught a solely redemptive focus, and the cultural aspects should be left for the culture and occasion they were written too.  While the cultural can have timeless application, the problem comes in when the scripture is viewed as a legal-constitutional document.







Sunday, April 9, 2017

Resurrection Life: a 24/7/365 reality!

Then Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn't have died. Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You." "Your brother will rise again," Jesus told her. Martha said, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die--ever. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told Him, "I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world."
(John 11:21-27 HCSB)

Most of the Jews in second temple Judaism at the turn of the first century believed in the resurrection at the end of the age. They were expecting the end of the age. One of the main reasons for this was Daniel's "seventy-weeks" prophecy. The reason being they knew they were living in the time of fruition and fulfillment for that prophecy. They were expecting the end of the age, and Ola Ha Bah, the beginning of the age to come.

Yet in this passage of John's gospel, Jesus makes a very important statement. The statement does not get much notice for what it really was. The reason is that no one seems to think that he meant what he said and are awaiting a future fulfillment.  However, what he actually says to Martha is profound. He says... look here Martha, you all are awaiting for the resurrection. You expect a day of resurrection at the end of the age. Let me explain something to you.... "I'm the resurrection! I am shortly going to be living proof of the resurrection. I am going to be resurrected and it will be for the purpose of resurrecting everyone else." Anyone in this time who dares believe that I am the resurrection will surely never die. 

Furthermore, this is a redemptive decree. I have mentioned those in past posts. A redemptive decree is one that is stated in such a way that if it is not exactly the truth, not exactly the way in which something will happen, then, it is simply a false decree. Jesus is saying here; "The Resurrection" is not future to my resurrection. My resurrection IS THE RESURRECTION." Well, was this true? Let's look at another passage that is completely overlooked by most because it does not fit well with their theological systems of thought.

But the rest said, "Let's see if Elijah comes to save Him!" Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. 
(Matthew 27:49-53 HCSB)

It is clear from this passage that the saints dead at the time of His resurrection were in fact resurrected. Do we believe that? When you google this passage and land on www.gotquestions.org you find that they say that this was a partial resurrection to show the power of Jesus... HA, says who? There is nothing that suggests that this was partial.... it was just reported about the saints in Jerusalem but no where does it say that not ALL of the saints dead were resurrected that day. That like so much of evangelical doctrine is a theological construct. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How the Holy Spirit Transforms Believers; The operation of the gospel Part 2

The biggest lie that Satan has ever perpetrated on God's people is that once one is born again, the Holy Spirit, enables one to live the Law. This is definitely so far from truth that it has absolutely no basis in reality! Yet, it is the most popular and repeated concept in the sanctification process. It does a lot of irreparable harm. In the first post in this series I explained how the Holy Spirit uses the gospel to transform saints. How many times have you ever heard that proclaimed from a pulpit? Likely never!

When one reads the New Testament it should be easy to see that it is the gospel that the Holy Spirit uses to transform the believer. The problem is with the legal constitutional reading of scripture. It is viewed by way too many as a rule-book. This view of the scripture diminishes the gospel as the KEY transforming message. As I stated above, look at all the passages that demonstrate that the gospel, good news, God's grace, is in reality the transforming catalyst.

  1. Titus 2:11-13 HCSB For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, (12) instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, (13) while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  2. Romans 2:4 NKJV  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
  3. James 2:13 NKJV  For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
  4. 1 John 4:10 NKJV  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
  5. Romans 6:14 NKJV  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
  6. John 1:17 NKJV  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
All of the above passages clearly show that the gospel of grace is the transforming power. The Holy Spirit uses God's grace to cause love for God established by the peace one has with God based upon the gospel message.

The book or Romans is such a clear example of how this works. Paul spends eight chapters of Romans explaining the gospel of grace in precise detail, he then takes three chapters to explain why the Jews are loosing out on the gospel and the Gentiles are included. However, even in Romans 9-11 Paul ends with a glorious proclamation about God's grace and how God is watching over Israel. Then... in Romans 12:1-2 Paul brings the argument to its conclusion. He says, I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God.... He is saying, I just spent a lot of time writing about the gospel, and the goodness and graciousness of God, and now, I am begging you by God's mercy to love God in such a way as to present yourselves a living sacrifice. This whole argument gets lost in the legal constitutional reading of the scripture.

It is a shame, that when one attends most churches, listens to most sermons, reads most evangelical books, that they never hear how the gospel via the Holy Spirit is the transformation catalyst. The read and do, legal approach is found NOWHERE in any of the epistles. Hearing the gospel message over and over produces the peace and love which allows the Holy Spirit to supernaturally bring about love for God that ultimately results in increased obedience, that is, the person grows closer to the image of Christ. Again, the letter kills, while the Spirit gives life!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

How the Holy Spirit Transforms Believers; The operation of the gospel Part 1

I would like to begin a new series on the way in which the Holy Spirit transforms the believer. It is a well established fact that the Holy Spirit is the vehicle for transforming saints, but there is not a lot written about how the Spirit does it. The short answer is the Spirit uses the gospel. However, if you would ask the average evangelical, while they would tell you that the Holy Spirit is the transforming force, they would not be able to explain the operation short of saying, well the Holy Spirits enables saints to obey the commandments. But is that true? Is that what Paul and the other writers of the New Testament taught? I absolutely think not.

Here is an interesting verse that may open up our understanding a little better. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 NASB "(15) So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." There was word of mouth teaching going on in the first century. That only makes sense, but think about how much of the teaching in your current church setting is word of mouth. Most right? Of-course! No matter how much your pastor or teacher sticks to the scripture, the bulk of every teaching is explanation that is word of mouth. Moreover, it is word of mouth based on the traditions and presuppositions that he or she has been taught. It is little wonder then that Paul would write about traditions that were taught by word of mouth as well as epistle. You can bet the farm that there was a lot more word of mouth than epistles.

Let's look a little deeper in the the passage in Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 NASB "(13) But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (14) It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (15) So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." The letter/epistle explains it well, but let me unpack it a little... let me expand with what the actual word of mouth interpretation of the passage would be. So, we see first that they were chosen from the beginning for sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the gospel. Yes, when Paul writes faith in the truth, he is speaking of faith in the "word of truth" which he defined as the gospel in Ephesians 1:13. It is the gospel that allows one to gain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, how does it operate you ask? The gospel brings peace with Father God. It brings peace because one is accepted in Christ, completely forgiven, has been imputed the righteousness of Christ, God is no longer counting trespasses, but rather, has reconciled humanity to Himself through Christ. Paul said in Romans 5, "therefore, being justified by faith you have peace with God." Imagine that, having shalom with God. Peace with God is the foundation for transformation. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel message to create a sense of peace with God. That is the first and most important step in the transformation process.

Now then, follow on along this train of thought.... once a person believes the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, once one believes that they have peace with the Father based on Christ alone, at that moment, they begin to genuinely love God... How did John say it? Herein is love, not that we love God but that he loved us and sent His Son as a propitiation for our sin. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel message to give us peace with God and then as we believe the message, the Holy Spirit begins to generate within us a genuine love for God. Loving God for real.... not just saying so because we know it is a command, but because we believe the gospel. We believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting sin. How can you not love God when you focus on that gospel truth? I'll bet right now as you read this, there is a feeling of warm peace welling up in your bosom, that is bringing about a transforming love for God.... You are witnessing the way in which the Holy Spirit transforms... you are experiencing it even as you read on. Yes, it is just this simple.

This is why the Law kills and the Spirit gives life! When you believe the gospel you are being transformed by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately too many preachers think you need to hear the law so that the Holy Spirit can enable you to obey the Law. That is a lie from Satan and his minions! In order for the Holy Ghost to transform you by the gospel... you have to continually hear the gospel... is that what you hear most of the time in most churches? Absolutely NOT! Most of the time you hear the killing letter... you should be starting to see clearly. We'll stop for now and continue on later.