New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


NT Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, October 30 2002 Volume 02 : Number 192
Re: [NTCP]: Question -- What's the Water?
[NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture
Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
[NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 12:11:35 +0000
From: goodwordusa * att
Subject: Re: [NTCP]: Question -- What's the Water?

Hi, Michael.

Thanks for the added input on your thinking regarding Nicodemus' response. It
helps to fill out the picture much more.

And, yes, I have also pondered Nicodemus' act of touching Jesus' dead body on
the brink of Passover. You mention two possibilities in his thinking.

A third (as I see it) is that Nicodemus may have simply been willing to be made
unclean for one so precious as Jesus had become to him. For the "uncleanness"
is in the eyes of others, as well as in his own mind and heart. It would not
have been a well-kept secret that he had touched a dead body.

But Nicodemus seems to have been unable to get Jesus out of his mind, unable to
shake off the conviction that this Jesus was really of God -- even though He
was so strange in His words and actions. And by the time Jesus was put to
death, I believe Nicodemus' heart was fully crushed with sorrow. How could he
go and celebrate anything?

I have no doubt that one of the hearts made most glad after the resurrection
was the heart of Nicodemus, when he heard the good report that Jesus had not
remained in the grave, after all. Finally (I think) all the pieces began to
fall together for him, and he could at last see that YES! This Jesus of
Nazareth was truly the very Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of
the world!

That's how I lean, anyway.

Jim
> Jim S. asked:
>
> > Why would Nicodemus immediately
> > go to the idea of a gentile being
> > purified by water, when John the
> > Baptist was out there calling all
> > israel to repent and be baptized,
> > and even the Lord Jesus was
> > having people baptized? Was not
> > the call to Israel to avoid the
> > judgment to come -- which did
> > certainly come on Jerusalem?
>
> I guess I reach that conclusion based on the phrase "born again" and
> from Nicodemus' incredulous response to Jesus' initial challenge to him.
> John's baptism-- a baptism of repentence-- was related to Jesus' but also
> distinguished from it in some way (Act. 19:1-5). And card-carrying
> Pharisees in general were not flocking out to get baptised by either one.
> They didn't see the need. Pharisees ritually immersed themselves several
> times a week. The more scrupulous, once or more daily.
> Now back to Nicodemus: let's face it, you didn't get to be on the
> Jewish Supreme Court by being a dummy. Or "the teacher of Israel" either.
> I mean, a lot of us read his response to Jesus and think "dense, ... dense".
> But we are wrong. Truth is he was a remarkably intelligent man who knew the
> Scriptures better than most of us on this list could ever dream. But
> Nicodemus had exhausted his options for how he thought *he*, a married
> Jewish rabbinic academy head who was also on the Sanhedrin, would need to be
> "born again" That's why he resorts to AD ABSURDEM: "How can a man be born
> when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be
> born?" (Joh. 3:4). An honest question clothed in sarcasm.
> We currently have no parallels in Jewish literature from or near the
> time of Jesus for this *exact* phrase ("born again" or "born from above"--
> Joh. 3:3; 3:7), but the *concept* of becoming like a "newborn baby" upon
> rising from the baptismal water is found in relation to gentiles converting
> to Judaism-- through, of course, circumcision, offering a temple sacrifice,
> and ... by being ritually immersed (e.g. Yevamot 48b; 62a; there are plenty
> more but I'm pressed for time right now).
> In addition, according to ancient sources one became like a newborn
> baby by getting married, by becoming a rabbi, by heading a rabbinic academy,
> and ... by getting coronated as a king. Maybe that last one didn't interest
> Nicodemus.
> But being immersed to become "newborn" was not a new concept to Jews
> of the 1st century. Certainly not for Nicodemus. However, for a person who
> was already everything mentioned above-- save a king-- it was all old hat.
> "Been there, done that" ... until he was informed by a man that he
> recognised, along with a growing number of others with whom he associated
> ("we"-- Joh. 3:2), as having come from God-- a miracle worker-- that *he
> (Nicodemus) too still needed to be "born again".
> Jesus seems to obliquely allude to a few things in his discourse with
> Nicodemus that "the teacher of Israel" should have known "off the bat":
>
> 1) the fact that members of the original Sanhedrin (seventy elders) were
> characterized by the Holy Spirit (Num. 11:25). An experience beyond
> Nicodemus'.
> 2) the fact that Israel's national redemption was dependent upon a
> supernatural work of God Himself creating within them a new heart utilizing
> the Holy Spirit as the medium, within the imagery of ritual purification via
> water (Eze. 36:23-27).
> 3) the fact that "water" and "Spirit" are associated together, throughout
> Scripture (Gen 1:3; Isa. 44:3; Joe. 2:28; ...), in relation to Israel's
> national renaissance.
>
> So while Nicodemus had no doubt heard of John, and certainly of Jesus,
> he may not have seen their baptisms in preparation for the coming kingdom of
> God as being particularly pertinent to him-- a ritually pure, but
> *spiritually bankrupt* "leader of the Jews".
>
> -- MICHAEL
> Jerusalem
>
> P.S. An interesting (to me) observation given to me by a Jewish brother just
> last week. By the end of the story, we see Nicodemus helping to remove
> Jesus' *dead* body (Joh. 19:38-40). The #1 cause of ritual impurity was
> (and is!) "corpse defilement," i.e. contact with a dead human being. It was
> avoided at almost all costs by Pharisees. But here is Nicodemus touching
> Jesus to get him down and prepare him for burial. He must have either
> "chunked" his Pharisaism wholesale (unlikely in light of evidence from the
> early church and Paul) or he must have determined that the one whose body he
> was removing and preparing for burial was not a source for transferring
> uncleanness. The most likely scenario to my (and this Jewish brother's)
> mind.



------- <><><> -------


Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 13:29:37 -0500
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

>Just a quick stab at some areas of disagreement. So now an
>unqualified SUNAGOGE in James 2:2 has the third meaning of "court," huh? I
>remain skeptical, bro. This is not a mainstream position, no "functional
>equivalence Bible translations" (e.g. NIV, TEV, GNB, etc.) I know of render
>it "court," no other commentators I know of refer to SUNAGOGE as meaning
>"court" in this verse. This, of course, does not mean it is not true, just
>that the position has to be proven. An uphill battle for *you*. Citing one
>off-beat commentator does not do it.

Michael, your belief that the early Christian assemblies were referred to
as synagogues (and so linking Apostolic age Christians to buildings) is
an enormous stretch for me. But that ain't gonna affect our friendship
one tidbit!!!! I pray you'll be used in a mighty way in that distant land
where Jesus walked. Keep us posted of your live adventures.

The guy I quoted, Dr. Manton, entered Oxford at 14 and preached before
Parliament as well. Hardly "offbeat" - he was one of the most renowned
theologians of his era in one of the most influential positions. Hardly
"one" either; but most commentators would show little interest in James
2:2 because the principle of not showing favoritism would be universally
applied in every setting.

No, the translators do not render "sunagoge" as "court" but that does not
diminish in any way that judicial proceedings were what was in view in
James 2. Like the word "baptize" they just moved "synagogue" from one
language to the other.

Furthermore, the NT era was so liberal in their use of words describing
groups of people that even the mob in Acts is called an "ecclesia." If
the pre-Christian synagogues served as courts, so might they have been
called a few years later, too.

The greater question is this: Are buildings required or recommended for
the advancement of the Kingdom? Positively not. Can they be utilized for
God-gloryfying ends? Conceivably, actually, and frequently so.

I am interested in finding the least common denominators in this age in
which many need to be evangelized and brought into the church asap. As I
have listened to one missionary after another return home - more often
than not, the erection or acquisition of a building is displayed as the
proof of their success.

Anyway, the obligation of the church to settle judicial matters is
abundantly clear from the NT. The obligation not to allow money to
influence the outcome was already on the record as well: Lev. 19:15 Ye
shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the
person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in
righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.

Phillip Schaff, a mainstream, best-selling historian with a monster
intellect wrote: Each synagogue formed an independent republic, but kept
up a regular correspondence with other synagogues. It was also a civil
and religious court, and had power to excommunicate and to scourge
offenders. Matt. 10:17; 23:34; Luke 12:11; 21:12; John 9:34; 16:2; Acts
22:19; 26:11. History of the Christian Church, Vol One, Scribners and
Sons, 1882, p. 458

Meyer, the keen German and his assistant Huther write: "It cannot be
inferred that by the usual signification of the word SUNAGOGE, a JEWISH
synagogue is here meant." He italicizes JEWISH then cites three other
commentators who had already observed the same: Semler, Schueckenburger,
Bouman. page 75 of Meyer's Commentary on the NT, James, Vol 10.

Adam Clarke, another popular commentator, whose work has gone through
many editions: Verse 2. If there come unto your assembly] eiv thn
sunagwghn. Into the synagogue. It appears from this that the apostle is
addressing Jews who frequented their synagogues and carried on their
worship there AND judicial proceedings, as the Jews were accustomed to
do. Our word assembly does not express the original; and we cannot
suppose that these synagogues were at this time occupied with Christian
worship, but that the Christian Jews continued to frequent them for the
purpose of hearing the law and the prophets read, as they had formerly
done, previously to their conversion to the Christian faith. But St.
James may refer here to proceedings in a court of justice.

John Gill, another child prodigy, is one of the very few who wrote a
commentary on the entire Bible:

Ver. 2. For if there come unto your assembly, etc. The place of religious
worship where saints are assembled together for that purpose; though some
think a civil court of judicature is intended, to which the context seems
to incline; see #Jas 2:6.

Jameson, Fawcett, Brown, another popular, oft-reprinted commentary:

2, 3. "If there chance to have come" [ALFORD]. assembly--literally,
"synagogue"; this, the latest honorable use, and the only Christian use
of the term in the New Testament, occurs in James's Epistle, the apostle
who maintained to the latest possible moment the bonds between the Jewish
synagogue and the Christian Church. SOON THE CONTINUED RESISTANCE OF THE
TRUTH BY THE JEWS LED CHRISTIANS TO LEAVE THE TERM TO THEM EXCLUSIVELY
(REVELATION 3:9). The "synagogue" implies a mere assembly or congregation
not necessarily united by any common tie. "Church," a people bound
together by mutual ties and laws, though often it may happen that the
members are not assembled [TRENCH and VITRINGA]. Partly from James'
Hebrew tendencies, partly from the Jewish Christian churches retaining
most of the Jewish forms, this term "synagogue" is used here instead of
the Christian term "Church" (ecclesia, derived from a root, "called out,"
implying the union of its members in spiritual bonds, independent of
space, and called out into separation from the world); an undesigned
coincidence and mark of truth. The people in the Jewish synagogue sat
according to their rank, those of the same trade together.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible, another
mainstream, all-time best-selling commentary:

James 2 (v. 2, 3): For if there come into your assembly a man with a gold
ring, etc. ASSEMBLY HERE IS MEANT OF THOSE MEETINGS WHICH WERE APPOINTED
FOR DECIDING MATTERS OF DIFFERENCE AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, OR
FOR DETERMINING WHEN CENSURES SHOULD BE PASSED UPON ANY, AND WHAT THOSE
CENSURES SHOULD BE; THEREFORE THE GREEK WORD HERE USED, SYNAGOGE,
SIGNIFIES SUCH AN ASSEMBLY AS THAT IN THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUES, WHEN THEY
MET TO DO JUSTICE. Maimonides says (as I find the passage quoted by Dr.
Manton) "That is was expressly provided by the Jews&Mac185; constitutions that, when a poor man and a rich plead together, the rich shall not be bidden
to sit down and the poor stand, or sit in a worse place, but both sit or
both stand alike.&Mac185;&Mac185; To this the phrases used by the apostle have a most plain reference, and therefore the assembly here spoken of must be some
such as the synagogue-assemblies of the Jews were, when they met to hear
causes and to execute justice: to these the arbitrations and censures of
their Christian assemblies are compared. But we must be careful not to
apply what is here said to the common assemblies for worship; for in
these certainly there may be appointed different places of persons
according to their rank and circumstances, without sin. Those do not
understand the apostle who fix his severity here upon this practice; they
do not consider the word judges (used in v. 4), nor what is said of their
being convected as transgressors of the law, if they had such a respect
of persons as is here spoken of, according to v. 9. Thus, now put the
case: "There comes into your assembly (when of the same nature with some
of those at the synagogue) a man that is distinguished by his dress, and
who makes a figure, and there comes in also a poor man in vile raiment,
and you act partially, and determine wrong, merely because the one makes
a better appearance, or is in better circumstances, than the other.

Here are a few of the judicial passages which Schaff mentioned, above.

Matt. 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the
councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

Matt. 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men,
and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them
shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to
city:

Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto
magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall
answer, or what ye shall say:

Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and
persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons,
being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

John 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews:
for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was
Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 9:34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in
sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him (Jesus) out.

Acts 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the
synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat.

Acts 22:19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in
every synagogue them that believed on thee:

Further, the united voice of Christian AND Jewish historians is that
synagogues were a Jewish institution and remained so. Any exception which
you think you may have found, MIchael, is just that - an exception.
Granted, it is quite possible that somewhere back in antiquity an entire
synagogue was converted and instantly became a "Christian synagogue."
Granted, it is also quite possible to find a married couple who have
never consummated their marriage.

Synagogue: A Jewish place and or an assembly where the apostles went for
the purpose of evangelizing - not where the saints went for fellowship. A
meeting place for the Jews and Greek proselytes - a beating place for the
early Christians.

I could multiply these quotations until late in the evening. The "uphill
battle" of proof belongs to you, my brother. Please produce notable
commentaries or historians who specifically cite James 2:2 (or any other
text) as the legitimization of Christian buildings. If you cannot, we
will have no choice but to dismiss your private opinion as unworthy of
serious consideration.

David Anderson



------- <><><> -------


Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 16:14:19 -0500
From: "Dan Shepherd" <shepherd * nclministries>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

I recently finished a study of the "kinsman-redeemer" role in the Bible, and
one of the interesting things I learned was that the among the other roles
of the synagogue they were used as a "court records" office. For example,
when a piece of land was up for redemption due to bankruptcy or death of its
owner, the document would be created with the terms of redemption (written
on both sides and sealed with seven seals just like Rev 5:1). This scroll
was then stored in either the Temple or the local synagogue depending upon
the geographic proximity to the tabernacle.

- ----- Original Message -----
From: "David Anderson" <david * housechurch>
To: <ntcp * homechurch>
Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2002 1:29 PM
Subject: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the
Scripture

>Just a quick stab at some areas of disagreement. So now an
>unqualified SUNAGOGE in James 2:2 has the third meaning of "court," huh? I
>remain skeptical, bro. This is not a mainstream position, no "functional
>equivalence Bible translations" (e.g. NIV, TEV, GNB, etc.) I know of render
>it "court," no other commentators I know of refer to SUNAGOGE as meaning
>"court" in this verse. This, of course, does not mean it is not true, just
>that the position has to be proven. An uphill battle for *you*. Citing
one
>off-beat commentator does not do it.

Michael, your belief that the early Christian assemblies were referred to
as synagogues (and so linking Apostolic age Christians to buildings) is
an enormous stretch for me. But that ain't gonna affect our friendship
one tidbit!!!! I pray you'll be used in a mighty way in that distant land
where Jesus walked. Keep us posted of your live adventures.

The guy I quoted, Dr. Manton, entered Oxford at 14 and preached before
Parliament as well. Hardly "offbeat" - he was one of the most renowned
theologians of his era in one of the most influential positions. Hardly
"one" either; but most commentators would show little interest in James
2:2 because the principle of not showing favoritism would be universally
applied in every setting.

No, the translators do not render "sunagoge" as "court" but that does not
diminish in any way that judicial proceedings were what was in view in
James 2. Like the word "baptize" they just moved "synagogue" from one
language to the other.

Furthermore, the NT era was so liberal in their use of words describing
groups of people that even the mob in Acts is called an "ecclesia." If
the pre-Christian synagogues served as courts, so might they have been
called a few years later, too.

The greater question is this: Are buildings required or recommended for
the advancement of the Kingdom? Positively not. Can they be utilized for
God-gloryfying ends? Conceivably, actually, and frequently so.

I am interested in finding the least common denominators in this age in
which many need to be evangelized and brought into the church asap. As I
have listened to one missionary after another return home - more often
than not, the erection or acquisition of a building is displayed as the
proof of their success.

Anyway, the obligation of the church to settle judicial matters is
abundantly clear from the NT. The obligation not to allow money to
influence the outcome was already on the record as well: Lev. 19:15 Ye
shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the
person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in
righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.

Phillip Schaff, a mainstream, best-selling historian with a monster
intellect wrote: Each synagogue formed an independent republic, but kept
up a regular correspondence with other synagogues. It was also a civil
and religious court, and had power to excommunicate and to scourge
offenders. Matt. 10:17; 23:34; Luke 12:11; 21:12; John 9:34; 16:2; Acts
22:19; 26:11. History of the Christian Church, Vol One, Scribners and
Sons, 1882, p. 458

Meyer, the keen German and his assistant Huther write: "It cannot be
inferred that by the usual signification of the word SUNAGOGE, a JEWISH
synagogue is here meant." He italicizes JEWISH then cites three other
commentators who had already observed the same: Semler, Schueckenburger,
Bouman. page 75 of Meyer's Commentary on the NT, James, Vol 10.

Adam Clarke, another popular commentator, whose work has gone through
many editions: Verse 2. If there come unto your assembly] eiv thn
sunagwghn. Into the synagogue. It appears from this that the apostle is
addressing Jews who frequented their synagogues and carried on their
worship there AND judicial proceedings, as the Jews were accustomed to
do. Our word assembly does not express the original; and we cannot
suppose that these synagogues were at this time occupied with Christian
worship, but that the Christian Jews continued to frequent them for the
purpose of hearing the law and the prophets read, as they had formerly
done, previously to their conversion to the Christian faith. But St.
James may refer here to proceedings in a court of justice.

John Gill, another child prodigy, is one of the very few who wrote a
commentary on the entire Bible:

Ver. 2. For if there come unto your assembly, etc. The place of religious
worship where saints are assembled together for that purpose; though some
think a civil court of judicature is intended, to which the context seems
to incline; see #Jas 2:6.

Jameson, Fawcett, Brown, another popular, oft-reprinted commentary:

2, 3. "If there chance to have come" [ALFORD]. assembly--literally,
"synagogue"; this, the latest honorable use, and the only Christian use
of the term in the New Testament, occurs in James's Epistle, the apostle
who maintained to the latest possible moment the bonds between the Jewish
synagogue and the Christian Church. SOON THE CONTINUED RESISTANCE OF THE
TRUTH BY THE JEWS LED CHRISTIANS TO LEAVE THE TERM TO THEM EXCLUSIVELY
(REVELATION 3:9). The "synagogue" implies a mere assembly or congregation
not necessarily united by any common tie. "Church," a people bound
together by mutual ties and laws, though often it may happen that the
members are not assembled [TRENCH and VITRINGA]. Partly from James'
Hebrew tendencies, partly from the Jewish Christian churches retaining
most of the Jewish forms, this term "synagogue" is used here instead of
the Christian term "Church" (ecclesia, derived from a root, "called out,"
implying the union of its members in spiritual bonds, independent of
space, and called out into separation from the world); an undesigned
coincidence and mark of truth. The people in the Jewish synagogue sat
according to their rank, those of the same trade together.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible, another
mainstream, all-time best-selling commentary:

James 2 (v. 2, 3): For if there come into your assembly a man with a gold
ring, etc. ASSEMBLY HERE IS MEANT OF THOSE MEETINGS WHICH WERE APPOINTED
FOR DECIDING MATTERS OF DIFFERENCE AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, OR
FOR DETERMINING WHEN CENSURES SHOULD BE PASSED UPON ANY, AND WHAT THOSE
CENSURES SHOULD BE; THEREFORE THE GREEK WORD HERE USED, SYNAGOGE,
SIGNIFIES SUCH AN ASSEMBLY AS THAT IN THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUES, WHEN THEY
MET TO DO JUSTICE. Maimonides says (as I find the passage quoted by Dr.
Manton) "That is was expressly provided by the Jews' constitutions that,
when a poor man and a rich plead together, the rich shall not be bidden
to sit down and the poor stand, or sit in a worse place, but both sit or
both stand alike.&Mac185;&Mac185; To this the phrases used by the apostle have a most
plain reference, and therefore the assembly here spoken of must be some
such as the synagogue-assemblies of the Jews were, when they met to hear
causes and to execute justice: to these the arbitrations and censures of
their Christian assemblies are compared. But we must be careful not to
apply what is here said to the common assemblies for worship; for in
these certainly there may be appointed different places of persons
according to their rank and circumstances, without sin. Those do not
understand the apostle who fix his severity here upon this practice; they
do not consider the word judges (used in v. 4), nor what is said of their
being convected as transgressors of the law, if they had such a respect
of persons as is here spoken of, according to v. 9. Thus, now put the
case: "There comes into your assembly (when of the same nature with some
of those at the synagogue) a man that is distinguished by his dress, and
who makes a figure, and there comes in also a poor man in vile raiment,
and you act partially, and determine wrong, merely because the one makes
a better appearance, or is in better circumstances, than the other.&Mac185;&Mac185;

Here are a few of the judicial passages which Schaff mentioned, above.

Matt. 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the
councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

Matt. 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men,
and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them
shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to
city:

Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto
magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall
answer, or what ye shall say:

Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and
persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons,
being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

John 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews:
for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was
Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 9:34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in
sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him (Jesus) out.

Acts 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the
synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat.

Acts 22:19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in
every synagogue them that believed on thee:

Further, the united voice of Christian AND Jewish historians is that
synagogues were a Jewish institution and remained so. Any exception which
you think you may have found, MIchael, is just that - an exception.
Granted, it is quite possible that somewhere back in antiquity an entire
synagogue was converted and instantly became a "Christian synagogue."
Granted, it is also quite possible to find a married couple who have
never consummated their marriage.

Synagogue: A Jewish place and or an assembly where the apostles went for
the purpose of evangelizing - not where the saints went for fellowship. A
meeting place for the Jews and Greek proselytes - a beating place for the
early Christians.

I could multiply these quotations until late in the evening. The "uphill
battle" of proof belongs to you, my brother. Please produce notable
commentaries or historians who specifically cite James 2:2 (or any other
text) as the legitimization of Christian buildings. If you cannot, we
will have no choice but to dismiss your private opinion as unworthy of
serious consideration.

David Anderson

~ ~ ~ ntcp info page: http://world-missions/planting ~ ~ ~
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 08:40:48 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Dave A.-- slugging it out in love with John H.-- wrote:

> I hope you have not encountered it but
> there is a mentality among some
> Evangelicals that the Jews are in a
> suspended and perpetual state of
> acceptance before God and are really
> OK. Some go as far as thinking that
> they provide the best model for all
> things and should never be questioned.

It's been fun for me to "listen in" to this exchange because I have
been friends with John for years, and also I have been on this list for over
a year-- long enough to have seen a little of your heart, David. A smigeon
of context might help to mediate.

The man with whom you hold a "holy disagreement" is the same guy that,
a few years back, I called to his face "anti-semitic". On more than one
occasion. I was wrong and have since apologized. John-- along with you--
winces at the "the Jews are always right" mindset of some Christians.
Hopefully you (David) have seen that I do not support Jewish sin--
past or present. I am a non-Jewish witness to Jews in Israel. Obviously I
think they NEED their Messiah and his atonement! Each Jew who dies without
being born again through personal faith in Jesus will stand before Almighty
God un-atoned for and thus will incur the full fury of His wrath. Plus, to
whom much is given, much is required ... and the Jewish people have been
given SO MUCH. That knowledge helps motivate my service to our King in this
land. And elsewhere.

So hopefully you don't think I belong to the flag-waving club of
Christian Zionists who think everything is hunky-dorey with all of Israel.
Although I see merit in studying the whole Bible from a Jewish framework and
perspective.

But back to you and John: this same guy (John) who is defending the
mystery surrounding Israel-- not to be treated lightly-- also talks about
the Jews as a group of folks that is constantly wanting people to sympathize
with its sufferings, ... over everyone else's. Who whine too much! And
here also I think he is right. He is critical of Jews when they are wrong.
As well he should be!

John doesn't even believe with me that Jewish Christians SHOULD obey
the Torah (Law). Imagine that!!! And he questions the motives of those who
would remain law-abiding Jews ... while they profess faith in Jesus. No,
John Henneberger does not belong to the camp of naive Israel-lovers. Though
he remains an informed Israel-lover.

But returning to the rail upon which this conversation first rode,
many weeks ago: can you honestly say that the ancient Jews' worshipping in
synagogue buildings was a symptom of their spiritual demise as a people?
And if you do, doesn't the fact that Jewish followers of Jesus (plus gentile
Christians, at least in Rome) continued from biblical times on and on for
centuries to worship God while utilizing synagogue buildings, ... doesn't
that fact clue you in that it might not have been the sin or compromise you
seem to think it was? Is. And that at least this "building thing" might be
an area wherein *some* of us might find freedom in Christ to follow the
Jews' wholesome example?

Your pragmatic arguments against most Christian buildings stand on
their own. You do not have to bolster them by a questionable employment of
Scripture and history-- which, in truth, dilutes the impact of your
observations and complaints.

Michael
Jerusalem
~ ~ ~ ntcp info page: http://world-missions/planting ~ ~ ~
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 08:41:43 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

Hi Gang! On the "What's the Water" thread we looked at Jn. 3:5, even took
the Ante-Nicene writers through the ringer for their unanimous testimony
that "water" in Joh. 3:5 means baptism. I think they came out okay, don't
you? :-)
So now I'd like to introduce you to a technique used by Bible
translators for determining *meaning* from a section of Scripture. It will
help us see a *scriptural* connection between baptism, repentence, and
forgiveness. Relax, ... once you get past my initial explanation, you'll
catch on fine to the technique. It's really not too involved in practice.
Then you might even want to employ it in your own Bible study times.
After we look at that, I'll throw in a couple more items to round out
the mix for this post. Then I'll respond to a few comments (Jay F's,
Stephanie B's, Jim S's) from this and the "What's the Water" thread. Enjoy!
Here's the breakdown of what I'd like us to look at:

1) AN EXAMPLE OF A SEMANTIC-LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS OF Mk. 1:4,

2) A GLANCE AT ANOTHER ANCIENT NON-BIBLICAL TEXT ALLUDING TO Jn. 3:5,

3) THEN A BRIEF STUDY OF 1 Pet. 3:21

In Bible Translation we employ linguistic insights with the biblical
texts to "bullion down" the "source language" (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) into
semantic components labeled "propositions". The terminology is still sort
of new to me, so don't worry. What I'm about to show you doesn't depend on
a knowledge of the jargon; it will be self explanatory once we get to the
example below.
Anyway, these propositions are fuller expressions of "events" which
are usually the grammatical predicates. The procedure is to express each
event (i.e. predicate) and it's "arguments" (explicit or implicit
grammatical subjects, objects, prepositions, etc. clustered around the
event) in a declarative statement to clarify implicit meaning. The result
is what we call a "proposition". Got that? Neither do I. ;-) Hang with
me till we get to the example below.
Our goal in translation is to thus analyze a text then reformat the
same meaning from the source (= biblical) language into the "target
language" (English, Swahili, etc.) for the fullest communicative impact in
rendering God's inspired word. You'll see what I'm rambling on about in a
second. Relax!
The following is part of an example from a classic translation
textbook (Barnwell, Catherine, INTRODUCTION TO SEMANTICS AND TRANSLATION,
Summer Institute of Linguistics [Wycliffe Bible Translaters]: HorsleyGreen,
High Wycombe, Bucks, HP143XL. England. 1980, pp. 157,58.). Sister Catie is
analyzing Mk. 1:4 as an example of this technique I've attempted to explain.
She starts with the Greek of Mk. 1:4, then gives it in translation. Now for
the extended quote taken from her book:

1) >> egeneto Ioannes ho baptidzon en te eremo kerusson baptisma
meanoias eis aphesin hamartion.

RSV John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism
of repentence for the forgiveness of sins.

In this analysis, the study is restricted to that part of the verse which is
underlined in the RSV above.

STEP 1 List the Event concepts:
PREACH
BAPTIZE
REPENT
FORGIVE
SIN

STEP 2 Fill in the participants:
John PREACH (a message)
(someone/?John) BAPTIZE (the people)
(the people) REPENT
(God) FORGIVE (the people)
(the people) SIN

STEP 3 Make a restatement, expressing the relations between the
propositions clearly:

John PREACHED:
(the people) have SINNED

therefore (the people) (must/should) REPENT

and (John) will BAPTIZE (the people)

so that (God) will FORGIVE (the people)

Notice how this recasting reflects the actual order in which the events
happened. Notice too that the form of the original text indicates a close
relationship between "repentance" and "baptism". Forgiveness is not
dependent on one or other of these events separately, but on both
together.<<

Michael here again. Okay, Barnwell's comments above bring out the
crux of the matter I wanted to focus on, that according to the meaning of
Mark's words, repentence by itself was incomplete (not true repentence) as
baptism by itself was also incomplete (a dip in the river). But both
together, being the correct response to what John preached, resulted in God
forgiving these 1st century Jewish people's sins. The connection between
repentence, baptism, and God's resulting forgiveness is clarified by
breaking down the text into propositions and noting their relations. Pretty
cool, huh? :-)

2) So now for my second contribution: another ancient non-biblical text
that supports my previous claim that baptism was linked in the minds of the
early Christians directly to the Jewish concept of ritual purity, and the
fact that Jn. 3:5 was interpreted baptismally by the earliest leaders of the
post-Apostolic Church. The following is an excerpt from THE APOCRYPHAL OLD
TESTAMENT (ed. H.F.D. Sparks, Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1995), from an
apparently (originally) Jewish work with Christian interpolations (i.e.
additions), dated by most scholars to *before* the destruction of the Temple
(70 A.D.). In other words, pretty close in time to the NT Church. It's
entitled THE LIFE OF ADAM AND EVE. The setting in this section is the
Archangel Michael relaying to Adam in the Garden some important events yet
to come:

"But men will be changed and forsake the law of the Lord. Therefore
the Lord will drive away the wicked from him, but the righteous will shine
like the sun before him. And at that time men will be PURIFIED by water
from their sins; but those who will not be purified will be condemned ....
He himself, the Son of God, will be baptized at his coming in the River
Jordan; and when he comes out of the water of the Jordan, then will he
anoint with the oil of mercy all that believe in him. And the oil of mercy
will be given generation after generation to those who are ready to be BORN
AGAIN to life by WATER and the HOLY SPIRIT" (pp. 155, 158-- emphasis mine).

Are we starting to get the picture that this is what those earliest
Christians actually believed about Joh. 3:5? 'Nuff said 'bout dat.

3) And now for my last item on this post. It's paramount to plunge deep
into 1 Pet. 3:21 because only here does the Bible specifically state what
exactly baptism is and does-- the title of this thread. All the rest of our
knowledge on the matter of baptism is arrived at by *inferences* from other
various biblical texts. Peter is more explicit. This point of explaining
what baptism is and does is, in my opinion, where most Evangelicals fail.
They (we) know intuitively that it's a salient ritual, but they (we) can't
actually define what baptism is, what it effects (... if anything?), or from
where it derives it's importance ... other than "Jesus said we're s'posed to
do it". Hopefully this verse can help clarify matters a bit. So here goes:

"There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of
the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God),
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ ... " (1 Pet. 3:21).

Notice first of all the close relationship between the concept of
death/resurrection and the rite of baptism. This is likewise emphasized in
Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 15:29; Gal. 2:20, cp. 3:27; Col. 2:12. Notice also that in
Peter's explanation, baptism is an "antitype" (Gk. ANTITOUPOS). Mark this
carefully: in biblical thinking a *symbol* is a "type;" the GREATER reality
to which that symbol points, the "antitype". Did you get that? So the
actual historical event of the flood and Noah's (and his family's) salvation
from God's universal judgment by means of water (the tool of His judgment),
is considered, by inference, only a "type" since, according to Peter, it is
the BAPTISM which ULTIMATELY saves a person (via the work of Christ; it's
understood). Baptism *isn't* the symbol, but the *actual reality* to which
the "type" was pointing. How? By linking a person via faith in Christ to
the death that was God's judgment against sin as well as the means of
humanity's eternal salvation-- via, Peter expressly says, "baptism". Hence,
baptism with faith in Christ is MORE than just a symbol because it actually
*effects* (brings about, causes) our participation in Jesus' death.
The "antitype" of baptism, though looking like a mere bath, is not
efficacious if considered a means of cleansing the body. That's also what
Peter's statement implies. Here is where intention comes into play. This
dip in the water has to be done for the correct purpose. At the very least
baptism must to be distinguished from normal bathing for hygenic purposes
... or that is all it will be.

Another intriguing thing to me is the phrase "the answer of a good
conscience toward God". What can THAT mean? The above translation (NKJ,
normally quite good) is lacking for several reasons: (1) the Greek word
EPEROTAEMA translated here as "answer" (in the KJV and NKJ) is a HAPAX
LEGOMENON (word which only appears ONCE in the entire Bible), being
variously translated as "interrogation" (ASV), "appeal" (RSV), "demand"
(Darby), "sense" (BBE), and "pledge" (NIV). (2) The same word occurs in the
LXX (ancient Greek translation of the OT) where it-- and the Aramaic from
which the Greek LXX of this section of Daniel was translated-- is most often
rendered "decision" (Dan. 4:17). (3) In extra-biblical literature, however,
the word EPEROTAEMA is not lacking. It always refers to a "declaration"
which is made in response to a formal request. In juridicial texts it comes
to mean "agreement" or "contract," in the sense of the "I do" which seals a
legally binding agreement. In non-Christian religious literature of the 2nd
cent. A.D., the "declaration" of a deity when asked for advice is called an
EPEROTAEMA, the style of request being formal and the response was likewise
binding.

Also the translation "a good conscience toward God" can be improved
upon. In the same book-- different verse-- the word SUNEIDAISEOS has the
idea of "awareness" or "mindfulness" toward God (1 Pet. 2:19), and this is
it's most basic meaning in the lexicons. Awareness. The aforementioned
word pops up again in 1 Pet. 3:16 concerning maintaining a proper
"awareness" that "Jesus is Lord" (vs. 15). It is not so much "conscience"
as modern people interpret the word-- our moral compass, so to speak-- but
in these contexts it means a "self-awareness" or "mindfulness" toward God
despite the temptation to be distracted by other stimuli.
Baptism is thus an *active saving agent* (not merely a symbol!!!),
being an individual's legally binding response in answer to a formal
question which is done in conscious awareness of God due to the resurrection
of Jesus Christ. In other words, the new covenant entry ritual. Or, ... as
Jay F. puts it, "baptism is not so much our 'I do' to marry Christ [see
above], as our 'I am' ." Amen.

Now for some responses to comments by Jay F., Stephanie B., and Jim
S.:

Jay F. wrote:

> It is fairly clear that "born
> from above" is a more faithful
> translation of the original
> than "born again".

That is still debated among translators though your position is the
favored of the day. I'm not so convinced. First of all we have Nicodemus'
answer to contend with:

"How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his
mother's womb and be born?" (Joh. 3:4).

He obviously leaned toward the "again" view-- at least that seems to be what
he heard, based on how he responded. I somehow can't fit "born from above"
into his answer. Can you?
Secondly, Jesus and Nicodemus were almost certainly NOT conversing
together in Koine Greek. Unfortunately, most translation discussions on
Joh. 3:3 park only in the Greek language because that's what language John's
account was written in. However, we know from rabbinic sources of the time
that until around A.D. 200 religious discourse was almost always conducted
between Jews in Hebrew (Safrai, Shmuel. "The Spoken Languages in the Time of
Jesus," JERUSALEM PERSPECTIVE 4/1. 1991, pp. 1-3, 8; also Ze'ev Safrai. "The
Origins of Reading the Aramaic Targum in the Synagogue," IMMANUEL 24/25.
1990, pp. 187-93). There is a very slim chance that Jesus and Nicodemus
conversed that night in Aramaic, though at this time the custom was to talk
in Hebrew when discussing the Bible. But .... for two Israeli Jews to sit
together and discuss Torah in the "franca" language of the *occupation*
(Greek) is unheard of! That would be like two Palestinians today sitting
around in Gaza chatting about the Koran. In modern Hebrew ...!!!
And building on this, it is instructive to note that neither Hebrew
nor Aramaic have a known equivelant expression even nearing "born from
above". But the ancient Jewish sources do provide us with clues that "born
again" would have communicated in a religious discourse. In either semitic
language.
Your "water of the word" (for Joh. 3:5) interpretation was also
espoused by John Calvin. Good company to keep although I personally think
he was "fishing". But hey, the illustrous commentator of Geneva still
believed that a professing convert to Christianity who either refused
baptism or who put it off, then died, would not be sealed in the covenant
and therefore would be judged by God as a sinner, not a saint.

Stephanie B. wrote:

> If one calls upon the name
> of Jesus to be born anew and
> then dies an hour later without
> the public display of baptism,
> will he/she not be saved? Of
> course they will!

How can you be so sure, sister? Could you support your above opinion
with an inductive use of Scripture? ... or is that mere sentiment speaking?
I would be interested to see you do so. From what I can tell, your comments
betray a view of baptism in which it is an *appendage* to an already
completed salvation-transaction-- just the (optional) ring of the wedding,
and not the indispensible vow + contract itself. A view that the biblical
authors, the ancient church, and I would perhaps consider sub-par.

Jim S. wrote:

> What do you think? Did persecution,
> for instance, help the Ante-Nicene
> writers stay true to God, helping
> them to rely more on Him?

History (and present experience) teaches us that persecution sifts
those who are stronger in faith from those who are weaker or with inadequate
(i.e. non-saving) faith. Without getting romantic about persecution, and
while recognising that each Ante-Nicene writer was not always right (=
biblical) on every topic, I'd say that those who stayed strong were
certainly intimate with our Savior, being among those who were
experiencially acquainted with Christ's sufferings (Phi. 3:10).

Michael
Jerusalem

End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #192

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