New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


NT Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, October 31 2002 Volume 02 : Number 193
Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [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] What exactly is baptism?
[NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
[NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 05:11:44 -0800 (PST)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * yahoo>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

Michael,

Thanks for jumping in and rescuing a languishing
thread. I too feel something has been lost by the
modern generation in our views of baptism. Once
cannot help but feel that the baptism of old was a
"big deal". Consider the eunuch to whom Phillip
preached: his very first thought after receiving
Christ was to look for the water. He understood that
baptism came next. And what of the jailor? He wasted
no time but immediately sought baptism. And what of
those who were baptized of John but not of Christ?
Paul wanted them baptized againóthen he prayed that
they might receive the Spirit.

Michael agrees that 1 Peter is a key baptismal verse

1 Peter 3:21-22
21 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, 22 who
has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God,
angels and authorities and powers having been made
subject to Him.
NKJV

Michael gave a lucid observance to something I pointed
out as well; namely, that the flood is the shadow of
baptism. Notice also the obvious picture
inherent(implied) in baptism, that is one is being
"made clean" so to speak. And doesn't our being made
clean preserve us from God's wrath in the same way the
ark saved Noah? Now think about the baptism of
Christ. John complained that Jesus should not come to
him, because it wasn't appropriate. John said he had
need to be baptized (cleansed) by Christ. Jesus
insisted, saying it was a fulfillment of
righteousness. And when Jesus was baptized the Spirit
fell on him and God make a proclaimation: "this is my
son in whom I am well-pleased." Did anyone notice the
association? Baptism, the Spirit, the proclamation?

And now I would like to add another key verse

Col 2:9-14
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of
all principality and power. 11 In Him you were also
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,
by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by
the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in
baptism, in which you also were raised with Him
through faith in the working of God, who raised Him
from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your
trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He
has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you
all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of
requirements that was against us, which was contrary
to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having
nailed it to the cross.
NKJV

Now we have some "proximity" verses here that should
catch our attention. Notice first a point I mad
earlier: namely, these baptism verses almost always
have a hook that points to Christ's authority. It
shows up a again and again. That's what I call a
proximity verse, since the thought seems to stay in
the proximity of and idea, which in this case is
baptism. And in a very Michael-ish way, let's see if
we can spot some other proximity verses here. Did you
notices how the word flesh keeps popping up? In the 1
Peter verse there is a reference to the "removal of
filth" from the flesh. The verse in Colossians is a
little more specific, as it talks about "putting off
the body of sins". And of course there is the thought
of being joined with Christ is some fashion.

Now even thought it doesn't say baptism "is" the
circumcision without hands, I think the verses imply
it. And if you pay special attention to these
proximity verses, I think you'll see the case for it.
Let me pull in another verse to kind of round things
out:

Gal 2:20-21
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer
live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the
body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me
and gave himself for me.
NIV

Okay, so we see here our being joined with Christ in
his crucifixion. Also in previous verses, we were
also circumcised in him and raised with him. No
matter how you slice and dice it, we see a co-joining
with Christ that takes us through death, burial and
resurrection. And somewhere along the way we get a
circumcision without hands to cut away the carnal
nature. And now we are ready for the magnum opus
verse (in my opinion) on baptism:

Rom 6:3-14
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We
were therefore buried with him through baptism into
death in order that, just as Christ was raised from
the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may
live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him
like this in his death, we will certainly also be
united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know
that our old self was crucified with him so that the
body of sin might be done away with, that we should no
longer be slaves to sin- 7 because anyone who has died
has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ,
we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we
know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he
cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over
him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for
all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the
same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to
God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign
in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as
instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves
to God, as those who have been brought from death to
life; and offer the parts of your body to him as
instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be
your master, because you are not under law, but under
grace.
NIV

Well, here we go again with proximity verses.
Baptism, flesh, death, resurrectionÖand, of course,
this is all through a unification with Christ. But
let's get to the meat of the topic here:

3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We
were therefore buried with him through baptism into
death in order that, just as Christ was raised from
the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may
live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him
like this in his death, we will certainly also be
united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know
that our old self was crucified with him so that the
body of sin might be done away with, that we should no
longer be slaves to sin-

Call baptism a symbol if you likeóor blanche at the
thought of "baptismal regeneration"; but I think the
scripture speaks for itself on this subject. Be
baptized, be cleansed of your sin; let the flesh be
cut away as you cojoin in the burial of Christ that
you might also participate in the resurrection.
Naaman was offended when the prophet told him to wash
(be baptized) in order to be clean. Was this a shadow
for us also?

After someone dies, they cease to struggle with sin,
right? And if baptism is tantamount to burial with
Christ, doesn't it make sense that when we part with
our bodies we step into a newness of lifeóa life of
victory over the flesh we left behind? Can't this
appropriately be compared to circumcision? Of course,
this doesn't even touch the covenantal connections
(time just doesn't permit).
I hate the modern trend that seeks to strip away all
semblance of anything sacramental. I hate the trend
that seeks to trivialize Christian traditions. As
Christians, we have precious few rituals that are
commanded by God; I think we would do well to
understand them and apply them in faith. I'm not sure
what baptismal regeneration is, but I don't think
reaction to it should be allowed to thwart the
scriptural record on baptism. I think there is a
definite grace bestowed in baptismóand I know for fact
that God commands us to be baptized. I invite
criticism here, but I want it to be scriptural. I
feel I've laid out a strong case for
baptism/circumcision. I also feel I've shown that a
grace specifically against the sins of the flesh is
bestowed in baptism. Any reactions?


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



info page: http://world-missions.org/planting <><><>


Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 06:23:33 -0800 (PST)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * yahoo>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Ahhh... how well Michael knows me. And for the
record, I VERY SELDOM take any debate personally. And
this is the case with you also Dave. I can certainly
be passionate regarding my views, and have been
accused at times of being a stickler for details; and
I think this is probably a trail we all share, right?
However, for the record David, no offence taken
whatsoever.

With regards to buildings et al, I must agree with
Michael though; It's very tough for me to buy into the
adage that "buildings are bad" or even that buildings
are somehow "less than". And here are my concerns
regarding the anti-building stance: a) logistics b)
the lack of specific scriptural mandates on the
subject.

First let's deal with logistics. While some may argue
an advantage in home churches, it hardly seems
conducive to large groups. I've had church in my
house before, and to be honest, it was a bit of a
pain. People everywhere, dog barking, kids pulling
the cat's tail...and never enough seats to go around.
The fact is, a lot of homes just aren't suited to
church.

Which takes me to my second point; if you observe the
church in scripture, sometimes you see a crowd
plodding around with Jesus, or some kind of gathering
in a amphitheatre to listen to Paul. You had
preaching in the Temple and preaching in the streets.
You had preaching in synagogues and preaching from
boats. And in the modern day? Wet's just say that
the hillside forum has largely gone out of vogue and
that amphitheatres have been replaced by movie
theatres. And synagogues? Well, you can forge that;
the Jesus teaching is kind of out of the bag and we
don't get many invites these days.

So, what's a wandering Christian to do? Build
buildings of course. They aren't evil, or even less
than, they just a means to an end--and infinitely
practical at times. If a building serves a purpose
then let it. And as I pointed out earlier, Jesus,
Peter and Paul all used to preach in buildings, so
what's the problem? And since the first 70 years or
so were the building phase of Christianity (so to
speak), the lack of buildings seem more a logistical
phenomenon than anything of great spiritual
significance.

Bottom line is that if a new faith (covenant if you
prefer) begins around 30 AD, you should expect a bunch
of basillica's standing on every corner by 70 AD.
These early Christian folks were refugees and
persecuted...not exactly the best time in the world
for a building program, huh?

Seems to me that an anti-building mentality is no
better than a mentality that states that church can
ONLY be held in a "special building". Aren't both
just and attempt to spiritual physical phenomenon?
Just my opinion, but I can't see any obvious logical
flaws.

Peace.


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


Date: 30 Oct 2002 09:19:59 -0500
From: Mike Sangrey <msangrey * BlueFeltHat>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

On Tue, 2002-10-29 at 16:14, Dan Shepherd wrote:
> 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.

Another point to underscore Dan's:

During at least one of the Jewish revolts, the Jews stormed the Temple
and destroyed all the debt records. You might wonder why during a
Jewish revolt against the Romans, the Jews would storm their own
temple. Well, there are various reasons for that, but the simpliest
way, I think, is to realize these people were being extensively
repressed. And the debt load was one means of oppressing.

I'm out of time, but another nasty bit of thinking which needs to be
worked through is that today, in the West, we believe in the "separation
of church and state". The East and Mid-East, and more to the point, the
NT era, believed no such thing. The storing of various records which we
think of as government records in the Temple (and synagoges) is part of
what we have to get our minds around.

Mike Sangrey
msangrey * BlueFeltHat
Landisburg, Pa.
"The first one last wins."
"A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."

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


Date: 30 Oct 2002 09:06:07 -0500
From: Mike Sangrey <msangrey * BlueFeltHat>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

On Tue, 2002-10-29 at 13:29, David Anderson wrote:
<snip>
> 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.

I'm really quite busy right now, but I thought I'd type in a quick
response to this (BTW, I've been thinking alot about the John 3 passage
and I think I've changed my mind (somewhat) though it's to a position
which I don't think anyone has mentioned yet. Several statements made
by Michael and another person were rather thought provoking. Thanks! I
hope to respond to that thread by Sunday.)

First, David, if I can quote you back at you, your statement of: "But
that ain't gonna affect our friendship one tidbit!!!!" applies here as
well. <smile>

As I've been following this discussion, one issue I see crop up which
hasn't really been dealt with is that in modern English, "church" is a
christian term and "synagoge" is a Jewish term. The problem is that in
the 1st century (and before) "synagoge" was a RELIGIOUS term and
"ekklesia" was a SECULAR term. It's a totally different way of cutting
up the pie. This way of defining the terms usually surprises people.
In fact, it is such a surprise that it is generally ignored. To believe
it changes too much about who we are and what we are here for.

The fact, however, (see Kittel and Colin Brown) is that "synagoge" was
used for both the Jewish meeting (and building) as well as for
NON-Jewish religious meetings. Each of the many different kinds of
groups had temples, too. The synagoges were thought of as distant
extensions of the respective temple systems. I think the idea was of a
gathering together as a group since the group was at some distance from
the temple. The point, however, is that this was the word to use when
you were referring to religious type meetings, whether or not you were
Jewish or involved in one of the other religious groups. IMO, the
closest word we have today to this 1st century word is (are you sitting
down) our word "Church". Though in Jewish contexts the word Synagoge is
the closest.

Also, there were other words which never found their way into the NT.
`Thiasos' had to do with meeting for worship; `eranos' was sort of an
incorporated organization meeting for festive activities and perhaps
other reasons (this might be rather similar to our word `fellowship');
and also `synodos' which refered to a group that met around a common
creed. Curious ,isn't it? We do the same stuff today, but it is
nowhere in the NT mentioned. We just call all this stuff `church'. The
problem is we read our modern definition of church back into the word
ekklesia and then interpret the texts accordingly.

One of the things this understanding of synagogue brings us to (and I'm
not the only one to say this) is the surprise that the NT authors did
NOT just simply adopt the term synagogue. Why on earth did they use
ekklesia? THAT!!! was the secular term for crying out loud. It was
used for an assembly of the people (the citizenry) meeting for the
express purpose of making political and governmental decisions and
taking related action. That is, decisions and actions which directly
affected the society of which the people were a part.

And therein, IMO, lies the key to why the NT authors used the term
ekklesia. It was fundamentally radical. The whole purpose of our
meeting is so we bring about true, beneficial,
under-the-Lordship-of-Christ change in the lives of the people in the
society around us. Notice I did NOT say we toss the gospel and just be
happy living in a welfare state. Not at all. But nor am I saying let's
just get people saved and then they get to go to heaven--slam, bam, our
job is done. Evangelism is much more full than that. One of the ways
Jesus witnessed to the truth was to bring about health in the people he
ministered to, for example. It's what people use to call `full
salvation' though I tend to think it should be even MORE full.

Lastly, David, this understanding of ekklesia fits rather well with the
Acts passage which mentions `mob' (though `assembly' is a better choice,
IMO, even here). The point of using ekklesia in that passage is that
these people were going to make a decision and perform some action which
was political in nature. It should be noticed that most of the people
(`polis', that is `citizenry', which is a word frequently associated
with ekklesia) did not know WHY they were there. In other words, there
was an expectation of purpose for this political meeting which wasn't
being met. No wonder there was confusion.

Words can't be too broadly or liberally defined or they can't trigger
specific enough meaning to be helpful in communication. That's why I
look for a definition (or two) of a word such that it fits comfortably,
and without the need of a shoehorn, in the variety of contexts in which
it is found.

Well I hope this stirs...ummmm...settles some dust. In any case, my
desire is to help people to wrestle with the Word of God and come to
know it and live it more fully so that the world may know that Jesus is
the Christ sent from the Father.

Mike Sangrey
msangrey * BlueFeltHat
Landisburg, Pa.
"The first one last wins."
"A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."

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


Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 10:05:17 -0600
From: "Scott Dowlen" <scott * dowlen>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-ntcp * homechurch [mailto:owner-ntcp * homechurch]On
> Behalf Of John Henneberger
> Sent: Wednesday, 30 October, 2002 7:12 AM
> To: ntcp * homechurch
> Subject: Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
>
>
<<<>>>
>
> I hate the modern trend that seeks to strip away all
> semblance of anything sacramental. I hate the trend
> that seeks to trivialize Christian traditions. As
> Christians, we have precious few rituals that are
> commanded by God; I think we would do well to
> understand them and apply them in faith. I'm not sure
> what baptismal regeneration is, but I don't think
> reaction to it should be allowed to thwart the
> scriptural record on baptism. I think there is a
> definite grace bestowed in baptism and I know for fact
> that God commands us to be baptized. I invite
> criticism here, but I want it to be scriptural. I
> feel I've laid out a strong case for
> baptism/circumcision. I also feel I've shown that a
> grace specifically against the sins of the flesh is
> bestowed in baptism. Any reactions?
>

I agree that a very strong case has been made for the necessity of water
baptism. I have no problem considering it a part of receiving salvation
(entering the new covenant).

One of the stunning things to me about John's baptism, as recorded in Luke
3:7-14 is the true repentance of the people. They asked 'What are we to do?'
and John told them how to live in their occupations in a way consistent with
their repentance. How often do we (at least in America) see people profess
Christ as lord then see absolutely no 'fruit in keeping with repentance?'

What cannot be (and has not been proposed) is baptismal regeneration.
Baptismal Regeneration is what you get when you basically have baptism minus
the work of the Holy Spirit -- you are entering the new covenant by a work
of the flesh, by human effort. I guess the water is doing the work instead
of the Spirit. Same dunking in the water, different _understanding_ of how
grace is obtained. So far I have been quite comfortable with the
presentation of water baptism as a necessary part of salvation (while not
being _the_ saving agent).
We know from scripture that there is _both_ water baptism and Spirit
baptism. Matthew 3:11 has John the Baptizer telling the crowds that the one
coming after him will have a baptism of the Spirit and fire (seemingly
contrasted to his own water baptism). John does specifically call it baptism
(immersion). John 1:33 talks about a Spirit-baptism (from Christ). Acts 1:5
has Jesus himself promise Spirit-baptism to the disciples. Acts 11:16 shows
that this was not only for the original apostles, but for all believers.
John 3:22-26 makes it clear that Jesus' disciples [John 4:1] also baptized
converts with water, so I'm not discounting water baptism at all. I just
want all the baptism(s) that there are.

Acts 8:12-17 Shows that Spirit baptism is not always simultaneous to water
baptism. Acts 10:38-48 has a Spirit baptism that preceded water baptism
(perhaps as a sign that even Gentiles could receive water baptism). The same
passage also talks about Jesus being 'anointed' with the Holy Ghost.

1Cor 12:13 makes it sound as though water baptism may be entering a
covenant, but Spirit baptism is entering the body.

The special/manifest presence of the Spirit is linked to 1) power to witness
2) power for miracles/signs.

I don't want to distract from discussion of water baptism if there's more to
say, but I also don't want to miss out on the other baptism(s) that are out
there. I have been amazed as I've started to fellowship with
Pentecostal/Charismatic brothers and sisters how many of them are content to
have the warm fuzzy Spirit-experiences and miss out on witnessing and all
the other stuff that the Spirit is there to do in them.

A side note on the possibility of salvation without water baptism - there is
the example of the thief on the cross. I'd say that doesn't open the door
to anyone who refuses baptism, but does allow God to save those who have no
opportunity for water baptism (i.e. believe the saving message in a disaster
or in prison etc where circumstances - rather than stubborn will - prevent
immersion)

The question was about baptism, so I hope my answer counts, too.

Scott

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


Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 09:40:26 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

Dear NTCP listserve members,
Let's revisit a familiar biblical passage related to this thread's
title, ... but this time with "Jewish eyes":

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in
me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who
loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

We should note first of all that Paul had been referring to the Torah
(Law) throughout the book of Galatians as if it still had some effect on
him. The Law effected (caused) his death in order for him to be able to
"live for God" (Gal. 2:19)-- with the implication that he wanted the people
of the Galatian churches to which he was writing to come into this awareness
as well. Paul argued later on in this same letter that the curse of the Law
(which is part of the Torah) is *still* in effect for those who rely on "the
works of the Law" (Gal. 3:10). He also quoted from or alluded to the Torah
throughout this epistle as if he assumed that it still had some authority
(Gal. 3:6, 8, 10, 12, 16; 4:21-25, 31; 5:14). Thus the view which says that
the Law was simply done away with on Calvary is seriously undermined by this
and other evidence.
Paul grounded this stage of his case against legalism on a principle
noted in the well-known rabbinic dictum of the day that when "a man dies, he
is free from the Law and the commandments" (b. Nid. 61b; b. Sabb. 30a; 151b;
b. Pes. 51b; j. Kil. 32a, ch. 9, hal. 4; m. Qidd. 1:1). His point was not
at all that the Torah had "died" ... but that *he himself* had (see the
above verse). Consequently, through that death he was no longer subject to
the Law's righteous punishment. But how did Paul die?
First of all, the Torah brought him under the sentence of death by his
personal failures to live up to it's righteous standards. Secondly, he
participated in the corporate sentence against his own Jewish nation because
of their unfulfilled obligation to God to be "holy". Both ways,
individually and nationally, Paul the Jew had been under the "curse of the
Law".
That is before his baptism into Christ Jesus.
However-- and this is important-- it is one of the 613 commandments in
the Torah to "live" (Deu. 30:19). The Torah which *commands* life rewards a
habitual offender with death-- a paradox, ... unless he/she can find a way
to die without disobeying the commandment to live. In other words, Paul was
saying to the Galatians that he had discovered a way to die and escape the
Torah's curse which also allowed him to obey the commandment to live (Deu.
30:19). All within the framework of the Law itself.

There is another axiom repeated throughout the ancient Jewish
writings: "All the prophets prophesied ONLY for the days of the Messiah ..."
(b. Sanh. 99a; also b. B'rak. 34b; other places-- emphasis mine). Even the
Torah itself was considered by ancient Jews to be a blueprint for the
Messiah's life and the great deeds he would accomplish when he arrived
(Tanch. 2. 99a; Deb. R. 1). Thus Paul could later say to the (quite!)
biblically literate Roman Christians, with absolute assurance of being
understood, that "Christ is the end [Gk. TELOS-- goal, purpose, aim-- not
cessation!!!] of the law for righteousness" (Rom. 10:4). The Torah-true way
to die in order to live that Paul had discovered, and that he wanted to make
sure his Galatian readers/hearers understood, was *Christ himself*. The
Person.

But how does one in some sense *become* another person?-- save through
an immersion into that other person.

Now the Jewish people have had since biblical days an understanding of
time which was in some ways revolutionary to the ancient world. They saw
history as having a beginning and a goal. Time wasn't completely cyclical
but moved forward in an ongoing direction ... with a distinct purpose. The
goal was "the age to come" (a rabbinic technical term-- but also see Mat.
12:32; Mar. 10:30; Luk. 18:30; Eph. 1:21; Heb. 6:5) in which God would right
every wrong and life would be bliss. This was a future time, ... yet there
were instances in which God broke through in "present time" and gave them a
taste of this eternity (see again Heb. 6:5).
That was/is one purpose of the Jewish Sabbath. It prefigured/s the
peace and rest of the coming age. The obligation for Jews to observe the
Sabbath amounted/s to a commandment to reach up and grab a piece of eternity
and bring it into Israel's life every week.

This was/is also one of the purposes of Israel's feasts, which each
had/have memorial and prophetic significance. The commandments to observe
the feasts of Israel really demanded a *reenactment* of events such as the
Passover, where each year Israel had to slay a lamb (impossible to lawfully
fulfill today without the Jerusalem temple), eat unleavened bread, and
bitter herbs. Or like Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) in which Jewish people
were/are required to build flimsy structures like they built during their
ancestors' wilderness wanderings. In reenacting the event, it was/is
believed that they were/are in some sense *participating* in the *original
event*-- those instances when the eternal God broke through into human
history.

It was/is also one of the purposes of covenants and their rituals.
The ceremonies and rituals "collapsed time" so that the past could/can in
some sense be reenacted and thus experienced in the present. For instance,
Moses said to the generation born in the wilderness that was about to enter
the promised land:

"The LORD our God made a covenant with US at Horeb. It was NOT with our
fathers [those that actually stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai and said, "We
do"] that the LORD made this covenant, but with US, with all of US who are
alive here today. The LORD spoke to YOU face to face out of the fire on the
mountain" (Deu. 5:2-4, emphasis mine).

Somehow the covenant-renewal ceremony at the plateau of Moab
transcended time so that what had happened some forty years prior at Mt.
Sinai-- to the previous generation-- could be entered into and appropriated
right then and there in the next generation's "now".

It was/is the same with the Passover ritual. Each successive
generation, according to the liturgy, was/is to say that they themselves
were slaves in Egypt, .... that they themselves *personally* experienced
the deliverence of God (Exo. 32:25-27, pay attention to the pronouns). This
personalization of what took place in someone else's [actual] life
transcended/s time and brought/brings the effects of the past covenant
blessings into their present. The ancient deliverence was/is continuously
updated into a current deliverence. A present salvation.

Now here is the baptismal application: it is the same way with Paul's
description of Christ's death. Time collapsed. What had historically
occured almost two decades before on the cross is spoken of as if it had
just happened. Furthermore, the person who actually died at Calvary is
blurred so that Paul speaks of it as being a "co-crucifixion" (Gk.
SUNESTAUROMAI, Gal. 2:20). When, some 17 years after Jesus' death, Paul
participated with faith in the ritual of baptism into Christ, he himself
reenacted Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. What had occurred in
the past became a part of Paul's present (Act. 22:16; Rom. 6:2-11). The
person to whom it occurred became him. In the covenantal sense.
That's also how it is with us. When we, with faith in Christ (rituals
by themselves have no efficacy), are baptised, we too receive the benefits
procurred for us by Christ's death, burial and resurrection. We too die to
sin and the righteous sentence of the Torah against us. In fact, we become
seated with Christ Jesus in heaven, so close are we identified with him in
covenant (Eph. 2:6).

Christ's death was truly a "once for all" event (Heb. 7:27). However,
for the person who is baptised with faith in Christ Jesus, the rite-- the
reenactment of that death, burial, and resurrection-- "transports" he/she
through time to that "once for all" event. That's how a covenant ritual
works according to the worldview of the Bible writers ... and the ancient
Church who learned from the Apostles.
Paul was co-crucified with Christ. So are modern NT believers. At
the Apostle's baptism, ... that's when it occurred to him. Likewise with
us.

Paul, as a 1st century Jew, saw the world somewhat differently than we
often do. He read the Scripture differently. True, Paul was not a
Catholic, ... but neither was he a Protestant. He was a Jew and a Pharisee
who never gave up being either. But he was a Jew/Pharisee who followed
Jesus the Messiah-- who became so intimately identified with Jesus the
Messiah in covenant that he could speak of what was true for Jesus being
true for him. This worldview thing also has application to our
understanding of the Lord's Supper. Sacraments were a big part of how the
"collapsing of time" occurred/s to Jews ... and the early Church. This is
part of what Gal. 2:20 meant to Paul. Therefore this too is what the
passage should mean to us.

Michael
Jerusalem

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


Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 09:41:34 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

David A. wrote:

> 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.

Thanks brother. We're together in Christ, no way to get around it.
Not that I would want to anyway. :-) But what you wrote is not exactly my
position-- although that word (SUNAGOGE) is in Jam. 2:2. I claim (based on
biblical and historical evidence) that *some* Jewish Christian congregations
continued to be called "synagogues". And met in buildings. Plus some
Jewish Christians, and non-Jewish Christians, also met in non-Christian
Jewish synagogues from the time of Paul and for centuries after biblical
times.

When you get challenged by an "enormous stretch," you might do well to
perform some warm-up exercises first. They help one from becoming too
rigid.

We're riding on the crest of the wave with our historical research
here, brother. Not limited to the scholarship of the 1800s ... or further
past. Wanna get on board?

> 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.

A little behind on the discussion, aren't you, David? I am majorly
happy that you have been provoked to do such extensive research. If we
never reach a consensus, I will still rest content that you have dug deep in
pursuit of the truth. But let me caution you against the Evangelical
tendency to "canonize" scholars of the past. There have been significant
finds in the area of relations between Synagogue and Church within the past
half century alone. Such historical and linguistic gains have helped us
translate difficult-to-understand words and phrases in the NT as well.
Branch out, brother. The paradigms have changed.
But as to the "Synagogue" thread, let me help catch you up:

>> Looking back on what I've written on this thread and the types of
responses I've received, it is apparent that I haven't communicated clearly
enough. So please allow me to clarify a bit.

My objection to David's "SUNAGOGE = 'court' in Jam. 2:2" defense
(against my claim of *some* early Church special buildings) is that in the
NT the Greek *word* SUNAGOGE doesn't *mean* "court session"-- it means
"synagogue". More often than not, it means a synagogue with a *building*.
As I've mentioned before (and David's research has confirmed), the word
originally meant "assembly" or "gathering". Of any kind. It nevertheless
became specialized in usage and so SUNAGOGE developed the meaning of an
"assembly" with a minimum of 10 Jewish males who had gathered together to
study Torah (Law) ... and, later in history, to pray.

There was a secondary meaning, however, that was derived from the
first-- i.e. the *place* where that "assembly" gathered (e.g. Luk. 7:5).
During the time of Christ and the first Christians-- including Paul--
synagogue *buildings* were used for various functions: (1) places for men
and women to hear and study the Torah, plus recite together a few blessings
and prayers, (2) places for men to engage in more intensive Torah study
(BATEY MIDRASH), (3) places where children went to school, (4) places where
Jewish way-farers throughout the Roman empire could catch a kosher meal and
sleep (like today's hostels), and (5) BATEY DIN, i.e. courts.
This fifth category is what David's commentator had in mind. However
(sorry I've deleted the message, so can't produce specifics), the jist of
what he wrote implied that the *word* itself, "SUNAGOGE" was taken over
*from* the Jews *by* early Christians who held court so that the legal
*session* between Christian plaintifs and Christian defendents-- not the
place itself-- was called SUNAGOGE. This is incorrect. James was writing
to *Jewish* Christians (Jam. 1:1)! And SUNAGOGE does not mean "court
session".

Each Jewish court was called (Heb. BEIT DIN) "a house of judgment," or
in the NT courts were called KRISIS, KRITERIA, HEMEROS, or AGORAIOI (perhaps
brother Mike S. can think of a few other terms). Sessions might have been
held (indeed we know that were) in this or that SUNAGOGE (building), but
such legal gatherings were never called SUNAGOGAIS. To repeat for emphasis,
they might have been held in a SUNAGOGE (synagogue building), but that's not
what the legal sessions were called. Do you better understand my objection
now?

The fact that James mentions SUNAGOGE in a legal context doesn't sway
me to David's position, and shouldn't sway you, because SUNAGOGE
*unqualified* still means "synagogue," not "unbuilding-ed" court session.
The early Jewish followers of Jesus might have been holding *court sessions*
in synagogues-- from the context, that's what it seems to mean-- but this
only bolsters my point that the Jewish Christian groups (Jam. 1:1) to whom
James is referring in 2:2 were meeting in *buildings* or *tenament rooms*
modified for synagogue services ... and court sessions. In other words,
special buildings. One more time: the Greek word SUNAGOGE does not mean
court session (devoid of a building) but "synagogue," almost certainly (in
this context) *WITH* a building.

Now can we all say that on *some* occasions it might be okay for
Christians to meet together in special buildings? Christ will build his
Church-- with or without the edifaces of humanity. That's his promise (Mat.
16:18). But to be unbending on the issue of special buildings, making the
Bible "against" what it is not against, is to promote needless division.
Something an already fragmented Body of Christ could use less of.<< (Oct
21)

Therefore you can see dear brother, that I do not deny that synagogues
were used for judicial reasons. However, the fact that they were, only
brings more credence to my claims (not just mine!) that what was occurring
in the synagogues to which James wrote, was occurring within *buildings*.

> 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.

Glad to hear that the bottom line for you David is a sane one. And
whether you know it yet or not, it is a scriptural one!

Dan S. wrote:

> ... 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 ....
> This scroll was then stored in either
> the Temple or the local synagogue
> depending upon the geographic proximity
> to the tabernacle.

More evidence that we're dealing with a *place* (read that "synagogue
building") in Jam. 2:2, not merely a "court session".

Michael
Jerusalem


End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #193 < Previous Digest Next Digest >



house church eldership servanthood lord's day lord's supper world missions