How Much Good Theology Do We Need?

Doug posted this question on Facebook:

In your opinion: how much good theology/Christology to I need to get to heaven and how much bad theology/Christology can I have and still make it? Note: Christology what is what one believes/teaches about Yeshua. Thus, how much must I (properly) understand / believe / teach to be saved? Consider, do I need to understand and believe in the virgin birth, the Yeshua’s divinity, the hypostatic union etc.?

I am not saying that those things aren’t true or that they don’t matter, but how much must I understand those things to be saved? Is it possible to be saved while having an incomplete or even wrong understanding of the key doctrines? If so, can Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, be saved?

I think this is a good question that needs to be further broken down for a thorough examination.

Understanding particular doctrines is not so much at issue as the heart of the individual who places His trust in God and the degree to which he submits.

To start with, I’d like to examine an example of somebody who was saved through faith, without any level of knowledge; the thief on the cross.

This man did have knowledge of Jesus’ divinity and Lordship:

Luke 23:39-42
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Here we have the basic element necessary for salvation; repentance. He was also aware that what he had done was wrong in God’s eyes which implies a knowledge of God’s standards.

We have to look to Scripture for examples of salvation without the knowledge that Jesus was God. Hebrews 11 details many who were saved by faith, who did not have the explicit knowledge that Jesus, or the Messiah, would be God. They simply believed, had faith in, the Word of God (which Jesus was anyway).

A point that is worthy of consideration is that Paul wrote this to Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:15
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

He asserts that Timothy has had the Holy Scriptures that would make him “wise unto salvation” since he was a child. There is no doubt in my mind that he is referring to the Tanakh.

Paul does refer to the book of Luke as Scripture when he says:

1 Timothy 5:18
18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn” is a reference to the Torah but “The labourer is worthy of his reward” (which he says comes from “Scripture”), comes from the book of Luke.

So depending on Timothy’s age, a case could be made both ways on whether Paul was referring to all of Scripture or just New Testament writings but I know where I’d put my money. I also think it’s interesting that he follows up the reference to “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” with this verse:

2 Timothy 3:16
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Paul has also just spent a great deal of 2 Timothy 3 discussing those who reject Moses:

2 Timothy 3:7-8
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

He also goes on in 2 Timothy 4:3 to say that a time will come when people reject Torah:

2 Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Paul knows exactly what sound doctrine is, Biblically speaking:

Proverbs 4:2
2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.

He also makes several references to “the truth”:

Psalm 119:142
142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.

The entire of 2 Timothy 3 and half of 2 Timothy 4 is an admonition to follow Torah, so the idea that 2 Timothy 3:15 is referring to anything else, would be ludicrous given the context.

All in all, I would conclude that Paul was saying that the Tanakh could make you “wise unto salvation” through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Another point where I would seek to breakdown the question further is that, it is a very different question to ask whether somebody must have certain knowledge to be saved, to asking whether somebody can believe something false and be saved. For example asking ‘If I was unaware that Jesus was God, could I still be saved?’, would be very different to asking ‘If I believed that Jesus was a purple taco called Sam could I still be saved?’.

Regarding the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their false doctrine, Scripture tells us that false prophets can lead people away from YHVH:

Deuteronomy 13:5
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

We have the Word of God, so it is incumbent upon us to seek out the truth of what it says. We know that angels can sin and so they are not eligible to pay the price of a sinless substitutionary atonement. We are also told explicitly, in several places in Scripture, that Jesus is God.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in prophets who have prophesied things which have not come to pass. YHVH takes a dim view of such things:

Deuteronomy 18:20-22
20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?

22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

The crux of the matter to me is realising that YHVH is sovereign and it is Him that salvation is dependent on. We cannot do anything to guarantee salvation for ourselves. We cannot say that if you follow a prescribed procedure, you will definitely be saved. All we can do is acknowledge that we are saved by faith and act faithfully to YHVH and His word and know that He is faithful and just.

All we can really say is that YHVH knows those who are His and no man can snatch them out of His hand. He has foreknowledge and all we can do is make sure that our heart is always to seek truth; otherwise we are led astray.

Regarding this, we can only be deceived by what it is in our hearts to want to be deceived by. The adversary has no power other than that which we give to him. He leads us away by preying on our own failings and evil desires:

James 1:13-14
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

The characteristics that all who received salvation throughout Scripture had were repentance and faith in the Word of God. This posits a question about the larger context of this inquiry which is ‘What does Scripture tell us about salvation generally?’

Regarding salvation generally (I know this is outside of the scope of the original question but if you will indulge me I’ll give my opinion because I think that it is indirectly relevant), the issue is not the same for each person because, as I will demonstrate, our level of culpability is directly correlative to our level of understanding.

1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Jeremiah 17:10
10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

1 Corinthians 4:5
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

A tool that is used to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart is how we respond to His Word.

Hebrews 4:12
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

If we just blow off the Word of God or choose the desires of our flesh over it, then we are showing our heart towards the Word which John 1:1 tells us is God Himself.

YHVH’s judgement is dependent on other factors that should be examined too:

Luke 6:46
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

There are two obvious reasons for not doing what the Lord has said:

a) Disobedience

b) Not Knowing what He has said.

To deal with disobedience, we can see that such is not tolerated, if someone engages in it unrepentantly:

Deuteronomy 29:19-20
19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:

20 The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.

So blessing yourself even though you are walking in stubborn disobedience results in your name being blotted out:

Hebrews 10:26
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Again “the truth” is Torah and sin is transgression of it (1 John 3:4). The word “wilfully” implies a stubborness. Another parallel to what Paul writes here is found in the Torah:

Numbers 15:30-31
30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

31 Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.

The Hebrew implies something that is done by thumbing your nose to the Torah’s authority. It is equated with despising the Word. We see here that acceptance of the Word is necessary for your iniquity to be forgiven.

A question that often arises, is “What is the unforgivable sin?” Since sin is transgression of the Torah, we must find “the unforgivable sin” somewhere in Torah. Wilful disobedience shows a lack of repentance and without repentance there can be no forgiveness. The sin is, literally, unforgivable.

We know that the previous Scriptures are not addressing repentant sin, from other verses such as these, however:

1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:1
2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

If we repent, we are forgiven. YHVH knows that we are just dust and that we will fall. We can see that repentance has always led to forgiveness of sins throughout Scripture (Psalm 51):

Ezekiel 18:21-23
21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

Ignorance is a different matter and is dealt with indirectly and directly, in Scripture. It is dealt with indirectly, in that we know there are sections of the Torah that were procedures to deal with ignorant sin. We know that the sacrifices in the Torah pictured the atoning sacrifice of Jesus so we know that ignorant sin can be atoned for.

Ignorant sin is addressed directly, in Scripture, in the following places:

Luke 12:47-48
47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48 But HE THAT KNEW NOT, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

So deliberate sin (that is repented for) will entail being beaten with many stripes and ignorant sin entails being beaten with few stripes. The level of culpability is dependant on knowledge. We are given this principle “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”. The wicked would, perhaps, see this as a reason to know less but the righteous would see this as a reason to know more and seek truth with all of their heart (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Those who did not know are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture:

Proverbs 24:12
12 If thou sayest, Behold, WE KNEW IT NOT; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

Again YHVH tries the heart and has this as His standard (what you did with what you had) rather than a prescribed level of knowledge.

There are passages that bear examination because they give us more insight into the relationship between knowledge and judgement:

Matthew 7:21
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

So we are plainly told that he who doesn’t do the Father’s will, will not enter the kingdom of heaven. It is therefore imperative that we know how Scripture defines the will of the Father:

Psalm 40:8
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Jesus continues:

Matthew 7:22-23
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

So those who work “iniquity” are told to depart from Him. The word for iniquity is ἀνομία (anomia) and its usage is given thusly in Strong’s:

the condition of without law

because ignorant of it

because of violating it

contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness

So, we are told that those who are without Torah (who do not do the will of the Father) will not enter into the kingdom and will be told to depart from Jesus.

Matthew 5:18-19
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

So, we have two standards here, those who are without law who are told to depart and cannot enter the kingdom and those who accept law but break the least of the commandments, who are least in the kingdom.

I find this passage very, very interesting:

Revelation 22:14-15
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

So, this is after the great white throne judgement, when those not found in the Lamb’s book of life are cast into the lake of fire; there are still those who are outside of the city. Whether these are the least in the kingdom or whether those outside are the ones told to depart from Him is not explicitly clear. I do believe that a proper exegesis of Scripture will reveal the answer though.

They are described as “dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters”. All of those terms are used in the Tanakh to describe those who reject Torah. As for “whosoever loveth and maketh a lie”, I would point out that “the truth” is Torah so this is another term for those who love sin over Torah. They are also contrasted with “they that do His commandments”.

Whether salvation depends on your obedience (obedience certainly demonstrates a higher level of faith (Romans 16:26)) is certainly debatable but I do not see the profit in this debate. The only ones interested in such a question are those who do not seek His righteousness. Either way, the general principle is that those who are more righteous and seek to know Him better will fare better.

Shalom

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Is Man a Two-Part or Three-Part Being or Both?

Is man a two-part (dichotomous) or three-part (trichotomous) being? Could he in fact be both? Is it possible that God made Adam to be a three-part being but at the fall he became a two part being?

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds God Created Man In His Imageof the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, (Genesis 1:27).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.”[i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind, and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soul – psuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay.[ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God[iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state[iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping, and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God; He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama[v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on[vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao εμφυσάωused in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח)This correlation is noted in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation, was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s εμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao εμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek εμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and raised from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (επί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Old Testament for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell.[viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned. The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it, and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming.


[i] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, 1893, 243.

[ii] πλάσσω Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.

[iii] According to the Targumim, one called the Memra [word], who was in the beginning with God creating with Him. According to the Jerusalem Targum the Word created man. “And the Word [Memra] of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created them,” (Targum Jerusalem, Genesis 1:27).

[iv] “For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?” (Theophilus, To Autolycus. Book 2, ch 13-30 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2).

[v] “Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way. The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phraseנֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה  (nefesh khayyah, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19),” (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7).

[vi] See also: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,” (John 1:4); “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will,” (John 5:21); “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,” (John 5:26); “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” (1 Corinthians 15:45); “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

[vii] In the Greek text enephusesen (ενεφυσησεν) is followed by the dative which is complementary to the word en εν which follows the Hebrew in Genesis 2:7 extremely well.

[viii] Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again, (Numbers 11:25, emphasis mine). But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34 emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, (Judges 11:29 emphasis mine). And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart (Judges 14:6 Emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, (Judges 14:19 emphasis mine).

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed […] and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David, (1 Samuel 16:13 emphasis mine). See also: Judges 3:10; 15:14; 2 Chronicles 20:14; 24:20.

Is Man a Two-Part or Three-Part Being or Both?

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds God Created Man In His Imageof the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, (Genesis 1:27).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.”[i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind, and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soulpsuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay.[ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God[iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state[iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping, and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God; He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama[v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on[vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao εμφυσάω) used in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח). This correlation is noted in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation, was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s εμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao εμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek εμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and raised from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (επί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Old Testament for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell.[viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned. The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it, and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming.


[i] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, 1893, 243.

[ii] πλάσσω Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.

[iii] According to the Targumim, one called the Memra [word], who was in the beginning with God creating with Him. According to the Jerusalem Targum the Word created man. “And the Word [Memra] of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created them,” (Targum Jerusalem, Genesis 1:27).

[iv] “For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?” (Theophilus, To Autolycus. Book 2, ch 13-30 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2).

[v] “Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way. The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phraseנֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה  (nefesh khayyah, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19),” (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7).

[vi] See also: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,” (John 1:4); “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will,” (John 5:21); “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,” (John 5:26); “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” (1 Corinthians 15:45); “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

[vii] In the Greek text enephusesen (ενεφυσησεν) is followed by the dative which is complementary to the word en εν which follows the Hebrew in Genesis 2:7 extremely well.

[viii] Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again, (Numbers 11:25, emphasis mine). But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34 emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, (Judges 11:29 emphasis mine). And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart (Judges 14:6 Emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, (Judges 14:19 emphasis mine).

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed […] and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David, (1 Samuel 16:13 emphasis mine). See also: Judges 3:10; 15:14; 2 Chronicles 20:14; 24:20.

El Lenguaje de Jesus: Hebreo o Arameo?

¿Cuál fue el lenguaje en que Jesús se comunicó, enseñó e interactuó con el pueblo de Israel? Algunos dicen que fue en griego porque este es el lenguaje del Nuevo Testamento. Otros dicen que fue arameo, tomado del pueblo de Israel durante el año setenta de la cautividad en Babilonia, porque se supone que el hebreo era una lengua muerta en el tiempo de Jesús. Finalmente, el punto de vista de la minoría sostiene que Jesús habló hebreo, el lenguaje de Su pueblo, de Moisés, David, y los profetas. No obstante, el griego, el arameo o el hebreo, ¿no podrían haberse hablado los tres? Mientras que es enteramente posible que El haya hablado los tres, el punto de nuestra discusión se enfocará en cuál es el lenguaje en que más frecuentemente se comunicaron. Después de todo, el Creador del universo podría obviamente estar capacitado para hablar cualquier lenguaje que deseara, pero, desde luego, hablar un lenguaje es solamente útil si los que le rodean pueden entender lo que usted está diciendo. De manera que nuestra pregunta rápidamente se ve limitada al lenguaje que hablaron los discípulos y los seguidores de Jesús. Eso no es para decir que eran capaces de hablar, sino mejor aún, qué lenguaje hablaron en los mercados, en sus hogares, y en sus circulos cercanos cuando compartieron sus pensamientos.

Aún si podemos determinar en qué lenguaje se comunicó Jesús con más frecuencia, ¿Importa realmente? Sí, ¡Sí importa! El lenguaje de Jesús es importante para nuestro entendimiento de la cultura judía y del mundo en que Jesús vivió, enseñó e interactuó. Mucho de una cultura está incluido en su lenguaje, y frecuentemente es difícil separar los dos. Conocer el lenguaje de Jesús y del pueblo judío cuando vivían en Israel1 en Sus días nos ayuda a entender mejor las palabras, frases y enseñanzas que fueron usadas en el Nuevo Testamento.

Tal vez aún más significativo del porqué es importante, es que la Biblia dice que ¡El habló hebreo! La idea de que Jesús habló solo arameo y no hebreo no es histórica ni bíblica. El Nuevo Testamento en forma clara y sin ambigüedades dice que Jesús habló hebreo, y ese mismo hebreo fue usado en Sus días; nunca se refiere al arameo. A pesar de esto, la mayoría de los eruditos de la Biblia han enseñado que el hebreo era una lengua muerta en los tiempos de Jesús. Ellos claman que cuando el Nuevo Testamento dice hebreo, realmente quiere decir arameo. En otras palabras, dicen que la frase lenguaje hebreo realmente significa arameo. Tal y como la frase lenguaje americano significa inglés, así ellos dicen que el

lenguaje hebreo en el Nuevo Testamento quiere decir arameo.

The Second Coming of Jesus and the Millennium: The Fall Feasts and the Budding of the Fig Tree

There are seven feasts of the Lord. On Passover Jesus died, during the feast of unleavened bread, He was in the tomb, on first fruits He rose and on Shavuot (Pentecost) the Holy Spirit came. Therefore, we anticipate something definite to happen on each of the three remaining feasts. This study will demonstrate the likely outcome of the remaining three. Could the feast of trumpets be when the Lord takes us in the rapture? Is the Day of Atonement representing the time of Jacob’s trouble? Is the Feast of Tabernacles representative of when the Lord dwells among us beginning in the Millennium?
Additionally, the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24 demonstrates that we are living at the end of the generation that would see the budding of the fig tree. The Lord’s return appears closer than we could imagine!

The Elect in Matthew 24: Jews or Gentiles?

Who are the elect that Jesus spoke of when He said “for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”?  Who are the elect to whom “false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders…”? Finally, who are the elect He spoke of when He said “Immediately after the tribulation of those days… he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”?  (Matt 24:22, 24, 29, 31)

The Calvinist doctrine teaches “the elect” means those who have been chosen to receive eternal life (they are saved). If “elect” = “saved” then the elect in Matthew 24 would necessarily be talking about believers in general. What we see, however, is that God repeatedly calls the Jews “the elect [ones (plural)]” in the Hebrew Scriptures and we likewise see , “the elect [ones (plural)]” in the New Testament is also a reference to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that is, the Jews. Consequently, Jesus’ reference to the elect in Matthew 24 is not speaking of the believers at large, but specifically of ethnic Israel (who believe). This conclusion is more thoroughly demonstrated in my complete paper and video “Why God Did Not Elect Calvinists,” or watch the video here. Furthermore, the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24 is not referring to Gentile believers before the tribulation but believing Jews after the tribulation. John Calvin plainly taught that election meant: “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” [1] Lest we think that is wrenching Calvin out of context, Calvinist Loraine Boettner clarifies: “The Doctrine of absolute Predestination of course logically holds that some are foreordained to death as truly as others are foreordained to life.” [2] The good news, however, is that “election, elect, chosen” (and the derivatives) are terms that have nothing to do with one’s eternal destiny. Scripture does speak at length of “the elect” and “the chosen” but these terms are devoid of the Calvinistic sense of someone who has been elected to receive eternal life. Conversely, the term elect and its derivatives are not salvific in meaning but simply refer to persons or things that are chosen for a particular purpose and the purpose has nothing to do with eternal life. Once the definition of the word is established biblically, the foundation of Calvinism will be undermined and will collapse and the true identity of the elect in Matthew 24 will come into view. The word elect (Greek verb: eklegomai ἐκλέγομαι; Hebrew verb: bakhar בָּחַר) means to choose, select. The elect or chosen (as nouns or adjectives) are those people or things that have been elected, selected, or chosen for a particular purpose by someone. For example, God chose Levi to minister forever “… the LORD your God hath chosen [bakhar בָּחַר Greek LXX eklexetai εκλεξηται]…” Deut 18:5 (see also 1 Chr 15:2).  God and the people chose Saul to be the first king of Israel: “…behold the king whom you have chosen and whom ye have desired! And behold, the LORD hath set a king over you,” (1Sam 12:13). Saul’s election by God to be king had nothing to do with eternal life and his removal from being king likewise had nothing to do with eternal life. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, ​he hath also rejected thee from being king,” (1 Sam 15:23) – he was simply removed from his post. Judas is analogous to Saul in many ways because they were both elected for a purpose (not salvation, per se) yet they both forfeited their election.[3] God’s election of Messiah further demonstrates that the term elect/election is devoid of the Calvinistic concept of eternal life. “My Servant… Mine elect [בְּחִירִי bekhiri LXX: eklektos εκλεκτος] in whom My soul delighteth… (Isa 42:1, see also Isaiah 49:7). This title was used of Jesus on the cross “… ‘let Him save Himself if he be Christ, the chosen of God.’” (Luke 23:35 see also 1 Pet 2:4, 6). Jesus was unquestionably chosen, elected, predestined by God to be the Messiah but His election was not for His salvation; He was chosen by the Father to give us eternal life because he is the source of life! God also elected for Jerusalem to be His city and for His name to be there, (1 Kgs 8:44, 11:32, 36; 2 Chr 6:6; Ps 132:13). God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Jesus pointed out that the guests chose (eklegomai εκλέγομαι) the best seats, (Luke 14:8). Our conclusion from each of the examples is that election has nothing to do with predestination to eternal life. God chose priests, kings and Jerusalem for His purposes and man chose both God and idols. Again, we would be wrong to try to insert the concept of eternal life into the term election.

The Election of Israel

While election is made by God and men of people and places, there is a usage that stands out uniquely in Scripture: God’s chosen people, the elect, are the Israelites. The title “chosen/elect” is in many verses in Scripture. The use of the title “elect” to describe Israel becomes very important when we venture into the New Testament because it clears up many theological, soteriological, and eschatological issues including the identity of the elect in Matthew 24.

  1. God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself. (Deut 7:6).
  2. The LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself. (Deut 14:2)
  3. O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones! (1 Chr 16:13)
  4. The people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Ps 33:12)
  5. O ye Seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. (Ps 105:6)
  6. He brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness. (Ps 105:43)
  7. For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. (Ps 135:4)
  8. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect… (Isa 45:4)
  9. I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob… mine elect shall inherit it. (Isa 65:9)
  10. … the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. (Isa 65:22)

The verses above demonstrate how God has specifically called Israel, Jacob, the Seed of Abraham His chosen. Thus “the chosen” or “my chosen” and “the elect” (in the plural) refer to ethnic Israel.  This point is proven by Paul who, in a synagogue on the Sabbath day in Antioch, read from the Law and Prophets and then spoke to his fellow Jews: “Men of Israel… give audience: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers…’” (Acts 13:16, 17). Thus, the election of Israel is corroborated by Paul in the New Testament as well.

The Elect in Peter’s Epistles Are Jewish

Peter likewise uses the term elect to describe the Jews: “…to the strangers scattered throughout elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…” (1 Pet 1:1-2) The word “scattered” (Greek diaspora διασπορά) was used to describe the scattering among the nations that God had promised to the Jews (Israel) if they would not follow Him (Lev 26:33; Deut 4:27; Neh 1:8, etc.; the LXX uses the same Greek word as the NT). James, in his epistle, could not be any clearer that the diaspora is Israel when he says: “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad [en te diaspora. εν τη διασπορα]: greetings.” (James 1:1).Thus James and Peter were writing to Jews in the diaspora. In 1 Peter chapter two Peter describes his Jewish (believing) brethren with words used repeatedly in the Old Testament to describe the Jewish people.

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. But ye [are] a chosen generation [note: the Greek word is genos (race) not genea (generation) see: NASB], a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Pet 2:5, 9) “…ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people… ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation.” (Ex 19:5, 6)
“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” (Deut 7:6)
“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people” (Deut 14:2)
For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” (Ps 135:4)

Their election, however, is by no means a guarantee that they will inherit eternal life (just as Judas was elect yet foolishly rejected the invitation.) Paul corroborates this fact so clearly in 2 Timothy: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory…” (2 Tim 2:10) Paul endured many things for the elect, the Jews, which again demonstrates election has nothing to do with salvation.

The “Few Chosen” Are Israelites

Speaking with the Pharisees in Matthew 22, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a King who prepared a wedding feast for His Son. Those that were invited to the wedding feast were not interested in coming so the King sent His servants out calling everyone who would come. Therefore, Jesus’ statement “For many are called, but few are chosen,” (Matt 22:14; see also Matt 20:16) must be interpreted in light of who are the chosen – that is the Jews! The chosen, elect (the Jews) were the ones to whom the promise of the Messianic Age was first given.[4]However, when the bridegroom came many of them were not willing to come and therefore God the Father gave instruction for the many to be called to the feast as well as the chosen. Knowing that the elect are the Jews completely rules out any Calvinistic interpretation of the passage and unlocks the passage for us. Note that both the called and chosen still needed salvation as indicated by the man found without a wedding garment who was cast out.

The Elect in the Tribulation

We can now consistently interpret the elect in Matthew 24; they are not Gentile believers in the tribulation, but are God’s chosen and the days will be shortened for their sake. Why? Because it is specifically called the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble (Jer 30:7).  John saw in his vision how “there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon…and his angels.” (Rev 12:7). Daniel received the same information about that war in which Michael fights on behalf of the Jews, “at that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people [Israel]; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time [reiterated by Jesus in Matt 24:21]: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” (Dan 12:1). When we continue reading in Revelation 12 we see “the dragon … persecuted the woman which brought forth the man childand went to make war with the remnant of her seed.”(Rev 12:13, 17). Again, Satan’s The Elect in the Tribulation are the Jewswrath is against the Jews. In Daniel 7 we see the same thing; the Little Horn (Antichrist) “made war with the saints, and prevailed against them,” (Dan 7:21). So too in Revelation 13 the war is against the Jews “it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them,” (Rev 13:7). Also in the parallel passage, “he…shall wear out the saints of the most High…and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time, (Dan 7:25). Notice the saints (Jews are given into his hand for 3 ½ years (1260 days), which is the same as in Revelation 12 “the woman [Israel] fled into the wilderness, a thousand two hundred and threescore days,” (Rev 12:6).  In each of those parallel passages, the Jews are the ones under the gun. It is the time of Jacob’s trouble which is why Jesus spoke of the days needing to be shortened on behalf of the Jews, God’s elect.

Deceiving the Elect

Jesus said “false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” that is the Jews[5]. (Matt 24:24)  We know they will be deceived because they confirm a covenant in Daniel 9:27, and the abomination of desolation is successfully erected in a (deceptively) rebuilt temple (Matt 24:15 and Dan 11:31). (This is the covenant they make with death in Isaiah 28:18.) Two thirds of the Jews will tragically die during the tribulation and deception will be a means to accomplish it.

Gathering of the Elect

Then “immediately after the tribulation of those days … he shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” (Matt 24:29, 31). Jesus used the language of Isaiah 11 to describe the gathering of the elect, an obvious reference to the Jews: “he… shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth,” (Isa 11:12). The gathering of the Jews is further predicted in Isaiah 43:5, 54:7, and Zech 2:6. The gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31 is not the church at large, but the gathering of the Jews after the tribulation. If we don’t see the pre-trib rapture in Matthew 24:31, then where do we find it? Perhaps the strongest evidence we have for a pre-trib rapture comes to us from the Hebrew Scriptures. The familiar passage in I Thessalonians 4, which speaks of the rapture, closely parallels the book of Isaiah. Both passages have the same order of events: 1) the dead rise first, 2) the living go away, hidden behind a door, 3) Jesus/God comes to punish the world. Thy dead [men] shall live, [together with] my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew [is as] the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain, (Isa 26:19-21). There is a rapture of those who believe in Jesus – for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. Thus discovering that the elect in Matthew 24:31 is not the rapture of the (Gentile) church does not invalidate the pre-trib rapture. It simply demonstrates that God has a bigger plan for the Jews, who are His elect.

Conclusion

In this brief overview we have seen that elect and election have nothing to do with salvation, predestined to eternal life or death, nor any Calvinistic definition. God elected priests, kings, disciples, Messiah, angels, and Jerusalem – all of which had nothing to do with being predestined to salvation. We then came to the election of Israel and saw that in no less than ten verses in the Old Testament God declared Israel to be His elect! Thus, when we turned to the New Testament we could see that elect/election/chosen never was there as a reference to being predestined to salvation. Peter wrote to believing Jews (elect); Paul endured things for the sake of the elect (the Jews). Therefore, “the elect [ones (plural)]” does not mean “saved,” but simply someone or something elected for a particular purpose. God specifically elected the Jews, among other things, to be the special guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and many rejected the invitation; they, like everyone, need to put on a wedding garment of salvation, to be accepted in. When the time of Jacob’s trouble occurs, Satan will focus on the Jewish people. It is for their sakes that the days will be shortened and false messiahs and prophets will come to deceive them in particular. Lastly, the gathering in Matthew 24:31 is not the rapture of the (Gentile) church; rather, Jesus will send out his angels to gather his elect, Israel, after the time of Jacob’s trouble.   All Scripture quotations are from The King James Version. Hebrew Scripture quotations are from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Copyright © 1967/77, 1983 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart. Used by permission. The Greek Old Testament Scriptures are from the Septuagint. New Testament Greek quotations are from the Greek New Testament according to the Byzantine Text form, edited by Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont, 2000 edition. All Scripture quotations have been retrieved using theWord Bible Software www.theword.net. All emphasis of Scripture verses is mine.



[1] Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion 3:21:5
[2] Loraine Boettner The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination 1932 from 2000 bible study centre™ DIGITAL LIBRARY p. 104-5; For a similar statement see: James R. White, The Potter’s Freedom, Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2000, p. 39
[3] “Jesus answered them, ‘Have not I chosen [eklegomai ἐκλέγομαι] you twelve, and one of you is a devil?’” (John 6:70).
[4] See how Isaiah 2, 4, 11, 60-66 and more passages speak of the Messianic age in which the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be God’s special people.
[5] Mark’s Gospel adds “…for the elect’s sake, whom He chose…” (Mark 13:20) emphasizing those whom God chose: the Jews.

The Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? (Video)

As a Bible student, you have probably noticed that in some translations in Acts Paul is said to have spoken Hebrew while speaking to the crowd in the Temple and later Jesus is recorded as speaking Hebrew to Paul. However, in other translations the word Aramaic appears. Which version is correct, why the discrepancies and most importantly, which language did Jesus and his disciples speak?
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Ezekiel Study

The Prophet Ezekiel

 

Ever wondered what the book of the prophet Ezekiel holds for us today? Ezekiel received some incredible visions from God that tell us a great deal about who God is, who Satan is, the advent of World War III and conditions in the millennium and beyond

What: Weekly Bible study led by pastor Douglas Hamp

When: Join us every Thursday starting at 6:30 Pm

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Where: 3142 Corte Hermosa Newport Beach 92660


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