Water Baptism in the Name of Jesus:

This topic is often discussed, but I have been conversing with someone with an opposing view and here are some of my notes.

I would not say that there was a codified baptismal formula in the primitive church. Indeed the Biblical accounts vary but they do include the name of Jesus or a title such as Lord that refers directly to Him. The formula was and has been developed since. However, I do believe that scripture and history indicate to us that the name of Jesus was invoked or implied, in literary devices, by or over the baptized. Most scholars realize this but disallow it by marginalizing it to, now, include the Matthean titles (28:19; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and thus giving a sense of credibility to the Trinitarian method. If we study history accurately we should understand that no biblical or primitive NT believer was baptized using the titles. Biblical and historical evidence explicitly indicates that the name "Jesus" was actually used in baptism and not a recitation of the actual instruction of Christ in the Matthean passage, instead actual obedience to His instruction, e.g. "baptizing them...in the name..." (c.f. Matthew 28:19 NKJV).

In connection with this it is interesting to note the Lukan Great Commission as well. Luke records: "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47 KJV) Both the Lukan and Matthean passages indicate that a single, known name was used in Christian baptism. As the below sources will show, this is the only form used by the Disciples and early believers.

The Anchor Bible Dictionary is a landmark work of scholarly thought. It clearly states:

"It is relatively certain that in the early Church one commonly referred to baptism as being done “into the name of the Lord Jesus” or something similar.” (1)

The bible knows of no Christian in the New Testament who had not been baptized, either by John or in the name of Jesus. Consequently, as modern believers we should feel compelled to follow that same Biblical method in our endeavors to conform to the Holy Scriptures and the commands of Christ . Christian baptism was from the first administered “in the name of Jesus”. The trinitarian formula of merely repeating, not obeying or properly interpreting, Matthew 28:19 is not found in the scriptures. Anyone baptizing in titles or any other method that does not include the name of Jesus is without scriptural support, there is simply no text that demonstrates or gives license for such aberrations. Baptism identifies us with Jesus Christ and brings us into the Body of Christ, therefore it is logical to conclude that we should have the name of Jesus invoked over us in baptism.

The reason that we are baptized in Jesus’ name is that we are being baptized into Jesus. We are taking on his name, similar to the way a woman takes on her husband's name at marriage. We are saying that we belong to Jesus and we are identifying with Him in His death and burial. Paul said, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13) Paul’s thinking here is to exalt the name of Jesus Christ. If we follow his logic it becomes obvious that he is telling the Corinthians that Christ was the one crucified for them and so they, too, were baptized in the name of Christ. The believers at Corinth as well as those in Rome were baptized in Jesus’ name.

We may contest that there was no EXACT formula for baptism in the New Testament, but such a statement is only partially true. As mentioned prior, in all occasions of baptism the name Jesus is used, in the name of the Lord or in the name of the Lord Jesus, etc. Whether “Christ” or “Lord” is used all the references refer directly to the only saving name—Jesus (Acts 4:12). How can we expect baptism to be efficacious for one if the name of Jesus is not invoked then? It seems then that anything else would be...unbiblical.

In Acts 22:16 we read, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16 KJV) There is other debates concerning this passage, but none as relevant as the one we are discussing now. The Greek word for "calling" here is epikaleomai. This word is defined "idiomatically, denoting that one person belongs to another whose name is attached to him…literally have someone’s name called on someone, i.e. belong to,"(2) Therefore, the name of Christ is important in every sense of salvation and not just in professing Him as Lord. This name should be "called on" as we are baptized into Christ; we arise with His name attached to us and are His people.

Epikaleomai is used to mean a literal invoking in several New Testament passages. In Acts 9 we see the story of Paul after being blinded on the road to Damascus, "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name. (15) But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. (16) For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." Acts 9:14-16 NKJV

The early Christians were preaching and baptizing in the name of Jesus. They literally uttered the words, there was no non-verbal reflection upon the name—it was a literal calling on the name of Jesus. Paul (formerly Saul) was commissioned by the Priests to persecute those who were calling on the name of Jesus. After being blinded Paul is taken to Ananias. Ananias is told by the Lord that Paul is a "chosen vessel" to "bear" the name of Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul also was to suffer for this name. The name of Jesus is so intrinsically involved in the process of salvation and our subsequent lives, how can we, then, abandon this name at our baptism?

Some assume that the trinitarian formula for baptism, which invokes the titles—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--are indeed the biblical method. This may cause one to ask, "Was the trinitarian formula used in New Testament times?" The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia answers this for us:

"No record of such use can be discovered in the Acts or the epistles of the apostles. The baptisms recorded in the New Testament after the Day of Pentecost are administered "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38), "into the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:16), "into Christ" (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27)"

James Hastings indicates:

"The original form of words was ‘into the name of Jesus Christ’ or ‘the Lord Jesus.’ Baptism into the name of the Trinity was a later development."(4)

Self-admittedly then trinitarians confess that the form of words used in an oral invocation in the rite of baptism was done by, the very least, using the name of Jesus, in some sense. Signifying that the Apostles as well as those following their death used the saving Name—Jesus.

Often the words, "in" or "into" are used with being baptized in or into the name of Jesus. Both terms are prepositions which are used to connect nouns or pronouns in an adjectival or adverbial sense. Example: the babe lying in a manger, the sun sets in the west. They denote being in or into something, such as baptized into or in the name of Jesus. When used in an adjectival or descriptive sense it is describing the method or the how of what is being said. How were the early Christians baptized? Answer: in the name of Jesus. Therefore, we enter into or in the power or person of Jesus by using His name.

In the New Testament, specifically in the historical book of Acts we see baptisms that involve an actual verbal invocation using wholly, partly, or by implications (Lord) the name of Jesus. Otto Heick a church historian wrote in his book, "A History of Christian Thought" (1,53), that "At first baptism was administered in the name of Jesus, but gradually in the name of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Today, as modern New Testament believers, it is imperative that we hold the teachings of scripture paramount, rather than relying too heavily upon extra-biblical sources or church councils, creeds, dogmas and catechisms. When we stand before God in the Day of Judgment, we will be accountable to His Word.

In Acts 4:12 Peter uses the word "must" which is the Greek preposition dei. In this passage it literally means "it is necessary."(5) "Must" here is an emphatic word indicating compelling necessity and it is joined with "name" which is part of the "must." Not only is there only one way to get salvation, e.g. through Jesus Christ, but there is only one saving name in baptism—Jesus Christ.

Many New Testament passages speak of healing done in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:6, 16; 4:9–10), signs and wonders through His name (4:30). Some preached in His name (8:12) or spoke boldly in His name (9:27–28). This being so, it seems that historical and theological bias exist in order to assert that baptism is not to be done by invoking the name of Jesus. Baptism in the name of Jesus was and still is the correct name to administer over one who is to be baptized or by the baptized. Historically and biblically, all competent accounts point us directly to Jesus name.

Here is a syllogism to conclude:

  1. Biblical and historical sources indicate that baptism was done by orally invoking, in some sense, the name "Jesus". Further, the historical evidence confirms that extra-biblical change was made to include titles.
  2. The Bible also places soteriological emphasis on the name of Jesus that it "must" be a part of a believers experience.
  3. Therefore, it is logical to conclude, from evidence, that baptism in the name of "Jesus" is both valid and necessary.


  1. Freedman, David Noel. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992.
  2. Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (Page 164). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.
  3. "Baptism" International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft
  4. "Baptism" IV (a.) A Dictionary of the Bible, Edited by James Hastings, M.A., D.D., Vol. 1, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
  5. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament © 1990 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved


Resurrection: The Key To The Christian Faith

“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (2) And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[1] and sat on it. (3) His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. (4) And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. (5) But the angel answered and said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. (6) He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matthew 28:1-6 NKJV)

The arch of the gospel rests upon two great pillars: the death of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ.

In fact, without the latter there can be no Christian faith. Without the Resurrection Christianity is in vain. Paul declares, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14 KJV) He went on to say, “…we have testified of God that he raised up Christ…” In addition, Luke records, in Acts 1:3, that by MANY INFALLIBE PROOFS did Jesus show himself and declare that He; God manifest in the flesh, had risen and He is alive!

The Resurrection of Christ is also the precursor for the resurrection of all believers when we are "caught up" with the Lord in the air. Read these words of the Apostle Paul:

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (56) The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57 NKJV)

In the Gospels it is very apparent that political tension both existed and was mounting during the times of Jesus. This is due, in large part, because of His being the Messiah. In Matthew 18 we see the disciples asking Jesus, “Who is the greatest?” An obvious question used to determine which of them would be His “right hand” man during the dominance of His Kingdom. It is very likely, then, that the disciples were expecting a physical kingdom, probably even one of military dominance.

It is interesting to note, also, in the Gospels that we see Jesus imparting understanding and revelation, more so, to the disciples during the end of His earthly ministry (e.g. Lord's Supper; Luke 24:27; John 20:22), obviously deepening and correcting their understanding of His purpose. In retrospect we can understand how misunderstood Jesus may have been, until the Resurrection. As we shall see the Resurrection has transforming power.

For many years we have heard the voice of the skeptic as he examines the doctrines of Christianity. However, modern skeptics and certain cultural conspiracies have emerged and given credibility by Hollywood. There are many who oppose Christianity and particularly the Resurrection. Many of the modern or recent skeptics, such as the Da Vinci Code or the Lost Tomb of Jesus are simple marketing ploys. They are designed for financial gain gotten from the gullible, the naïve, and the uninformed—and not the propagation of truth.

“Attempts to reinvent Jesus are nothing new. The vines of radical skepticism toward the biblical Christ have been creeping up the walls of the ivory tower for two centuries. But only in recent years has such intense cynicism sprouted at the grassroots. And it has spread quickly.

This comes as no surprise. After all, our culture is ripe for conspiracies about Jesus.

The seeds of radical skepticism have been widely sown by mass media for over a decade. From the Jesus Seminar—a fringe group of scholars whose color-coded version of the Gospels repeatedly made headlines in the 1990s—to the recent blockbuster novel and now movie The Da Vinci Code, skeptics of all stripes have used the popular media to promote their demoted versions of Jesus.”(1)

Modern Skeptics:

Jesus Seminar:

The Jesus Seminar is a fringe group of scholars whose color-coded version of the Gospels made headlines in the 1990s. They were given much publicity through national media, e.g. 2000 ABC News program "The Search for Jesus" hosted by news anchor Peter Jennings.

This group estimates that about 80% of what Christ said throughout the Gospels is inaccurate. A member of the Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, wrote: “The…resurrection…latter-day wishful thinking.” He continues on by saying that the corpse of Jesus went the way of all abandoned criminals—covered with dirt and vulnerable to wild dogs that roamed the wasteland of execution grounds.(2)

The Da Vinci Code:

Dan Brown and Co. authored this book, which eventually became a movie. This work by Brown is a literal attempt to undermine the Christian faith by fusing fact with fiction, without warning. On a June 9, 2003 interview on the Today Show Brown said that it was his goal to "challenge certain long-held beliefs or truths about religion.” So he is obviously interested in persuading readers to a certain point of view.

The Lost Tomb of Jesus:

This is another marketing effort to build financial gain based upon conspiracy and deceit. This “Tomb” was found in 1980 and the archaeologists who discovered it then are saying the same now, “This is NOT the tomb of the Family of Jesus, nor Jesus Himself!”

The names on these ossuaries were very common in the first century Jewish world and in those days, family members were normally buried in their hometown. In Jesus' case, this would have been Galilee, not Jerusalem.

Uninformed Individuals:

These are people who simply do not know anything about Christianity, really, but yet they yield their minds to rebellious and doubtful impulses. The human man naturally drifts to carnality and self-centeredness, not to spirituality and awareness of the Body of Christ.

Various False Religions:

  1. Confucianism, founded by one man (Confucius) around 470-550 B.C.!
  2. Buddhism, founded by one man, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) around 5-600 B.C.!
  3. Christian Science founded by one woman—Mary Baker Eddy in 1879!
  4. Islam, founded by one man named Mohammed around 700 A.D.
  5. Mormonism, founded by Joseph Smith in 1830!
  6. Jehovah’s Witness, founded by Charles Russell around 1850!

The coming of these leaders was never prophesied of; they have all long since died, and have passed off the scene! They are never coming back to earth. Each of these leaders were individuals inspired to bring glory to man and NOT one grave that entombs their bodies is empty today!

Objections Refuted:

The dismissal arguments of the Resurrection are typically based upon the Tomb being empty all along. In fact, many of the skeptics mentioned just prior attack this fact routinely. This is incredibly false for several reasons. I will introduce several of them for discussion.

The Female testimony was not considered legitimate, reliable testimony in a 1st Century Jewish culture. Therefore to propagate or to confirm this would demand the story to be true because no thinking man would’ve used a woman as testimony in any alleged fabrication.

Jesus was a well- known figure in Israel (Roman Historian—Tacitus and Jewish Roman Historian—Josephus). His burial site was known by many people. In fact Matthew records the exact location of Jesus' tomb. He states, "And Joseph of Arimathea took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb" (Matt. 27:59). Mark says that Joseph was "a prominent member of the Council" (Mark 15:43).

In addition, it is apparent by a superficial reading of the Gospels that the leaders of both the Roman and Jewish governments recognized and understood the immense effect that Jesus, the Messiah, was having or would have upon the populous. In fact, in Matthew’s Gospel we see that King Herod was so vexed about the birth of the Messiah that he took great efforts to stop it from happening (See Matthew 2:16). Also, prior to the crucifixion Jesus was a great concern to Pontius Pilate.

It would have been counterproductive, then, for the writers to invent a man of such prominence, name him specifically, and designate the tomb site, since eyewitnesses would have easily discredited the author's fallacious claims, if they were indeed fallacious.

The Tomb was NEVER considered to be anything but empty in the 1st Century. The Jewish argument against the Messiah-ship of Jesus was that the disciples had taken Him. Thus they recognized that the Tomb was indeed empty. There was no body to parade in the streets of Jerusalem.

Jewish and Roman sources both testify to an empty tomb. Matthew 28:12-13 specifically states that the chief priests invented the story that the disciples stole the body. All the Jewish authorities needed to do to put an end to Christianity were to produce the body of Jesus. It never happened.

The Bible gives a very clear testimony of 500 witnesses of Jesus’ being alive after his death in 1 Corinthians 15:6 “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”

Here Paul states that some witnesses are still living, they "remain unto this present"; so Paul must have known them or had been told that they are still walking around willing to be interviewed. Paul would not have written such a phrase to the Church at Corinth unless he could back it up, because he was virtually inviting them to check it out for themselves. The witnesses were alive and could be verified.

Nine additional eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ re-appearing after His resurrection.

  1. Mary Magdalene in John 20:10-18
  2. Various women in Matthew 28:8-10
  3. Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24:13-32.
  4. 11 disciples and others in Luke 24:33-39.
  5. 10 Apostles and others with Thomas absent in John 20:19-23.
  6. To Thomas and the other apostles in John 20:26-30.
  7. To 7 Apostles in John 21:1-14.
  8. To the disciples in Matthew 28:16-20.
  9. And on Mt. Olive before His ascension in Luke 24, and Acts 1.

Some proclaim that Jesus’ Resurrection and re-appearances are legends told by his disheartened followers. The problem is secular historians, religious historians, theologians and scholars all agree that legends develop over a long period of time after the death of the legend. Therefore, Christ’s resurrection being a legend has to be excluded because there are only a few years between the death of Jesus and when the writings of the Gospels and other Bible books were written. Also, if the Resurrection were merely a legend, the tomb would still be filled.

Josephus, a Jewish historian writing at the end of the 1st Century A.D. records this, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (Antiquities 18.3.3)”

Another objection to the resurrection of Christ has been that Christ really didn’t die and that he moved the stone aside and in His weakened condition appeared to His disciples.

Firstly, we are fully aware according to science and popular medicine that no human can endure such an ordeal. Secondly, the structure of the tombs and stones of those days is very important. The stone sat before the opening of the tomb in a canal or rut, when it was entirely shut the stone at the end of its course would drop into an even deeper canal where the stone sat until it could only be opened from the outside. In this position the stone would require several men to push it from its lowered position. To remove it from the inside is virtually impossible—unless you are God!

Thirdly, considering the beatings, the torment, and the torture of the days prior to His resurrection; if He truly NEVER died how can a man in such a state walk several miles along the road to Emmaus and be in several places within only a few hours, sit and break bread, and have the strength to preach several times to even crowds over 500 people—all the while parading a hoax!

The changed lives of the Apostles. It is recorded in the Gospels that while Jesus was on trial, the Apostles deserted Him in fear. Yet 10 out of the 11 Apostles died as martyrs believing Christ rose from the dead. The Resurrection event must have been a very compelling event to account for such human transformation.

The Apostles began preaching the Resurrection in Jerusalem. This is significant since this is the very city in which Jesus was crucified. All the evidence was there for everyone to investigate. Legends take root in foreign lands or centuries after the event. Discrediting such legends is difficult since the facts are hard to verify. However, in this case the preaching occurs in the city of the event immediately after it occurred. Every possible fact could have been investigated thoroughly.

Jewish culture. The things that made a Jew a Jew was the social structures. This gave them their national identity and was so vitally important to them. The Jewish people would pass these social orders down to their children, celebrate them in synagogue meetings every Sabbath, and reinforce them with their rituals, because they knew if they didn’t there soon would be no Jews left.

They believed many of these social structures were entrusted to them by God and to abandon them would be to risk their souls being damned to hell after death. Then a rabbi named Jesus appears, teaches for 3 years, gathers a following of lower and middle class people, gets in trouble with authorities, and gets crucified along with 2 thieves.

5 weeks after he’s crucified He’s resurrected and over 10,000 Jews are following him and claiming that he is the initiator of a new religion, and they are willing to give up or alter all of their social and religious institutions that they had been taught since childhood that are so vitally important to them. All because of a man who was God become man; died, was buried and truly was resurrected!


The disciples had to have three things to spread Christianity. They had to be convinced from firsthand experience that their Christ had indeed risen again. They had to become committed to the mission of Jesus Christ, believing in its scriptural significance. Finally, they had to be commissioned to fulfill His mission to the world. Jesus faithfully discharged these significant obligations to His disciples. The Cross without the commission would be as fruitless as the commission without the message.


  1. Quote by Reinventing Jesus Copyright © 2006 by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer and Daniel B. Wallace.
  2. Richard N. Ostling, “Jesus Christ, Plain and Simple,” Time, 10 January 1994, from the Time website.http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,979938-2,00.html (accessed April 6, 2006)


A Pauline Response to Government and Christian Participation:

In this post we will examine two questions: How does Paul describe the Christian's relationship to the Government? How do we apply these biblical principles today? We live in a politically tense enviroment and this is very relevant as we consider political policies and posturings.

The Christian relationship to Government is clearly addressed by Paul in Romans 13. In my estimation, it should be the "go to" chapter for believers regarding this subject. This chapter appears to be nuanced with the general principle of temperance. This may be apparent when we realize the particular political realites associated with this era (1st Century) and this culture (Roman, Jewish).

In the Synoptic Gospels it is very apparent that tension both existed and was mounting during the times of Jesus. It is ironic then, with Christ being the revolutionary tha He was, that Christ was promoting servitude and rendering unto "Ceasar" what is indeed his (Matthew 22:21). In retrospect and understanding the idealism of the disciples and others of a physical kingdom we can understand how misunderstood Jesus may have been, until the Resurrection, His subsequent appearances, as well as His Ascension. It is interesting to note, however, in the Gospels that we see Jesus imparting understanding and revelation, moreso, to the disciples during the end of His earthly ministry (e.g. Lord's Supper; Luke 24:27; John 20:22), obviously deepening and correcting their understanding of His purpose.

Paul tells us very early in this chapter that God has "appointed" government (vs. 1). Therefore, if government, is an establishment of God then it is to manifest the character of God in some way, e.g. justice balance with love. Paul, in no way, is advocating our adherence to any government, then, that is indeed contrary to Himself. "To disobey the laws of the land, except where they contravene the express will of God, is to violate the purpose of God himself."(1) In the Gospel's Pilate tells Jesus that he had power to set free or to crucify. Jesus replied that he would have no power at all if it had not been given to him from above (John 19:11). Government is God’s way of maintaining the public good and directing the affairs of state. It is a temperate hand resting on a restless humanity. Legitimate government then, is one instituted by God and consequently an exhibitor of His ways.

The implementation of justice is done so, by government, to punish bad and approve good. It is interesting to note the use of the term "sword" in the text. "Because a sword is an instrument of death, the weapon here symbolizes the right of civil government to inflict punishment, including the ultimate penalty of death for crimes that deserve it. In the earliest period of human existence, the Lord instituted capital punishment. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6). When Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52), he was reminding His disciple that the penalty for his killing one of Jesus’ enemies would be to perish himself through execution, which the Lord here acknowledges would be justified."(2)

In Romans 13 Paul is encouraging believers to honor and obey just governing authorities as "God's minister to you for good" (vs. 4) It seems, then, that every political response we make should be made based upon discernment of God's will (vs. 2) and should be rooted in the fundamental, and what should be a ruling principle in a believers life--love (vs. 9). The need for this encouragment is confirmed by the historical events surrounding the times of Christ as well as Paul, and the church at Rome themselves.

This note of encouragement is applicable, still, in our times and in our tense political enviroments. Charles Colson said, "Government originated as an ordinance of God. It is, in one sense, God’s response to the nature of the people themselves. While it cannot redeem the world or be used as a tool to establish the kingdom of God, civil government does set the boundaries for human behavior. The state is not a remedy for sin, but a means to restrain it."(3)


1. Mounce, R. H. (2001, c1995). Vol. 27: Romans (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (244). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

2. MacArthur, J. (1996, c1991, c1994). Romans (226). Chicago: Moody Press.

3. Quoted from Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World by Draper, Edythe. Copyright © 1992 by Edythe Draper. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.


The Nature of Hell:

The nature of Hell is a topic rarely discussed, however the question is often posed, “What happens when I die?”

“Every human being will have immortality, which means a future in which existence is not subject to annihilation (Rom 2:7; 1 Cor 15:53-54). Even if immortality is a future condition beyond the grave, eternal life, Christ's life in us, is a present possession of believers. Through the Holy Spirit we have the first installment of our inheritance and we are already sealed, accepted by God as His children, because of the living Christ who lives within (Gal 2:20; Eph 1:13-14).”(1)

Besides this, there is another side. My position concerning this topic, the nature of Hell, is one of eternal conscious torment for the wicked. A particular scripture for a proof text would be:

“And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. . . . Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:30, 41, 46).

This passage or parable depicts the dichotomy of consequence. Mankind has varying views or attitudes to Christ’s return, these attitudes are not without consequence. Jesus contrasts the person who diligently prepares for His coming by investing their time and talent to serve God. Jesus lets us know that these good works, beyond faith, will be rewarded. Conversely, the person who has no heart for the work of the kingdom will be punished. God rewards faithfulness, it is the object of our faithfulness whereby we are judged—God or the World.

Those who bear no fruit for God’s kingdom cannot expect to be treated the same as those who are faithful. The faithful are rewarded with Heaven while the wicked will enter Hell. There are three things in this passage that point to Hell being an eternal conscious torment.

1. Use of “weeping and nashing of teeth”

This refrain is used often by Matthew and is another horrible description of eternal hell—not the grave (c.f. Matthew 13:42,50; Revelations 9:2). Wailing in Matthew 13:50; weeping in Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 24:51; Matthew 25:30; Luke 13:28; and “gnashing of teeth” in all these passages represent bitter sorrow and pain. Logically then, this denotes a state of conscious that has some emotion in order for weeping to occur, assumedly brought about by sorrow, grief, or torment—emotional agony. The grinding of teeth can also speak of physical agony and pain in Hell. This could be the very “same frustration the isolated rich man experienced in Hades while watching Lazarus and Abraham together across a vast chasm (Luke 16:19-31).” (2) At any rate, there appears to be a conscious awareness beyond the grave.

“And thus for punishment he shall be cast into outer darkness who has of his own free will fallen into inward darkness.”(3)

2. Use of “depart from me”

This phrase, said from God to man, denotes a conscious awareness that one is indeed being cast out from God’s presence into darkness, unless we interpret this to be metaphorical or non-literal. Even if this phrase is metaphorical it still denotes that the wicked one has a conscious awareness of departing from the blessed presence of God.

3. Use of “everlasting punishment”

Matthew uses undeniable terminology. How can punishment be eternal if those being punished are not? Are those being punished done so by succession ad infinitum? This can hardly be the case. Similarly, Marks gospel lets us know, also, that those who “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit” will suffer “eternal condemnation” (3:29 NKJV) It seems, then, that the wicked and the blasphemer will endure eternal punishments beyond the grave.

From a practical standpoint, “eternal punishment” corresponds with the often sought “eternal life” of scripture. We stand at a crossroads then; either way leads us down an eternal path. Death is for the mortal body, the soul is not dependent upon the body. God created the mortal body in Genesis and then breathed life/soul into the body. Death is for the temporal body, as opposed to the supernatural creature that Adam once was. The scriptures never suggest that the soul ceases to exist.

When we rest between death and our resurrection to immortality our bodies are in what scholars have called the intermediate state. Some teach that psychopannychy or soul sleep occurs during this state. In soul sleep the complete person dies and the soul and spirit go out of existence until called back into existence at the resurrection. This view then violates the biblical teaching of a conscious existence. In Luke’s gospel we learn that Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration after their death. Here Moses and Elijah were still themselves and they were consciously aware of what was going on (Luke 9:28-31). As mentioned prior, the actions of the rich man and Lazarus indicate consciousness for the departed (Luke 16:19-31). As the thief died upon the cross Jesus made this promise, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). Finally, Paul in his letter to the Phillipians indicated that to die would mean being ushered at once into the presence of the Lord (Phil 1:21-24). Paul longed to be ushered into the presence of Christ but saw his need to establish the Gospel.

Our resurrection bodies will be suitable for conditions in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:38–44) and hell. Jesus spoke of "the resurrection of life" and "the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:29). Thus, we can assume that both believers and unbelievers will receive resurrection bodies—but their eternal destiny will be different (Daniel 12:2). That said, the bible clearly indicates an eternal punishment for the resurrected wicked. If the punishment is eternal then what of the punished? It is logical here that if the punishment is eternal that those who are being punished are immortal, in this regards as well.

Here are two other arguments, from Augustus Strong's landmark work, for you to consider as well:

1. "The metaphysical argument.—The soul is simple, not compounded. Death, in matter, is the separation of parts. But in the soul there are no parts to be separated. The dissolution of the body, therefore, does not necessarily work a dissolution of the soul."

2. "The ethical argument.—Man is not, in this world, adequately punished for his evil deeds. Our sense of justice leads us to believe that God’s moral administration will be vindicated in a life to come. Mere extinction of being would not be a sufficient penalty, nor would it permit degrees of punishment corresponding to degrees of guilt. This is therefore an argument from God’s justice to the immortality of the wicked. The guilty conscience demands a state after death for punishment." (4)

In conclusion, Wayne Grudem comments this about eternal conscious torment:

"It also tends to be one of the first doctrines given up by people who are moving away from a commitment to the Bible as absolutely truthful in all that it affirms. Among liberal theologians who do not accept the absolute truthfulness of the Bible, there is probably no one today who believes in the doctrine of eternal conscious punishment."(5)


1. Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective © 1993 by Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved.

2. Exegetical Commentary on Matthew, by Spiros Zodhiates, Copyright © 2006 by AMG Publishers. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

3. Catena Aurea of Thomas Aquinas, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

4. Systematic theology. Strong, A. H. (2004). "The present work is a revision and enlargement of my 'Systematic Theology,' first published in 1886."--Pref. (984). Bellingham, Wa.: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

5. Systematic Theology, Copyright © 1994 by Wayne Grudem. All rights reserved

Romans 9-11: Jews, Gentiles and Calvinism

What is Paul's purpose in Romans 9-11? How does this purpose fit into the purpose and argument of Romans as a whole?

In this pericope Paul has come to "speak the truth in Christ" and that the truth he is speaking is confirmed by the Holy Spirit in him (Romans 9:1). It is clear then that what Paul is telling us, here, and in prior chapters, is that he is not merely speaking as a man but is transmitting divine truths inspired by God Himself. Any audience, especially if it included a faith ful Jew, would have paid close attention to what Paul is declaring in Romans generally and in this pericope. His presentation, of Justification by Faith, then was probably an antithesis or at the very least a merging belief, to present Judaism or religiosity in general.

Primarily, I believe the question or issue of Israel's future or continued purpose in God's plan of salvation for the world rests in chapters 9-11. In the application of Justification by Faith though Paul is drawing lines, especially in his culture. With these lines, though, came the issue of the "New Israel" or "Spiritual Israel" or how this salvation, to all men, be applicable to Gentiles and Jews. Questions then arise like, is the Church Spiritual Israel, what of future Jewish salvation, are the Jews still God's chosen people, or does God have two brides, for whom did Christ die, and etc.

Paul explains that ancestry or lineage is not an entitlement to salvation, it is those within the covenant or promise--no matter their bloodline (c.f. Galatians 3:28). I have always thought that the Jews were feeling excessive entitlement due to their lineage. I think some focus may have shifted from a covenant with a people to a people in a covenant, the emphasis turned to self-preservation. It is the covenant that was binding and important to God, not necessarily a particular race. I think this is very much of what Paul is making plain in this pericope.

In these chapters lay a veritable gold mine of dicussion. One thing I learned as I studied these chapters though, or the book of Roman generally, is that I feel Paul speaks to both groups collectively (both Jew and Gentile) at times and then to an individual group alone ("I speak to you who are Gentiles..." Romans 11:13. See, Lake, Kirsopp (1911). The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul (370). London: Rivingtons).

Second, I believe Paul is more concerned with Jewish and Gentile relations than we may give him credit for or ponder upon much today. Today, there is one body, the Body of Christ of which all can be a part. Immediately this view flew in the face of Israel and currently it flies in the face of Calvinism's ideals.

As mentioned earlier, it is possible that the Jews, possibly not all, felt entitlement due to race and not because of a covenant situated by God. I feel that many felt that they were in an eternal entitlement where many were actually "astonshed" (Acts 10:45 NIV) because God would allow Gentiles to be saved (c.f. Acts 10:40-48).

As it relates to Calvinism, I believe it weakens the third point in the T.U.L.I.P., limited atonement (1). I believe as well that the Calvinist and the Jew may find some common ground here, sadly. The Jews were in a covenant whereby God had elected them as a people. Conversely, the Calvinist feels that this relationship is maintained whereas Paul is clearly telling us that the covenant includes true Jews (c.f. Romans 9:6-8) and Gentiles, or non Jewish people--whosoever will. The Jew and the Calvinist then seem to verge on an excessive view of particularism. Someting God is In Romans 10:13 Paul states, "For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." (NKJV) "The word whosoever is used more than 110 times in the New Testament and always with an unrestricted meaning."(2) (cf. John 3:16; Acts 2:21, 10:43).

In addition, in Romans 5:6 Paul states, "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." (NKJV) "The word all, or an equivalent term, is used to denote everyone. Christ died for the ungodly—everyone is ungodly (Rom. 5:6); Christ died for all, suggesting everyone (2 Cor. 5:14–15; 1 Tim. 2:6; 4:10; Tit. 2:11; Heb. 2:9; 2 Pet. 3:9)."(3)

God does not avoid particularity, but neither does he create men for wrath and without access to salvation. “The Bible teaches that Christ died for ‘sinners’ (Rom. 5:6–8, 1 Tim. 1:15; ). The word ‘sinners’ nowhere means ‘church’ or ‘the elect,’ but simply all of lost mankind.”(4) I believe Dr. Elmer Towns sums up my view nicely, "the death of Jesus Christ was for all people of all time."(5)

Chapter 11 is perhaps my favorite among this pericope. In it we see that Israel's rejection was not total nor was it final (1-10), that salvation has come to the Gentiles (11-25), and that all Israel will be saved (25-end). In this one chapter we see a panaromic view of God's salvation from Jew to Gentile and a possible eschatalogical salvation of Israel.


1. "limited atonement Also, particular redemption. Doctrine in Calvinism that Christ died only for the elect who are the only recipients of salvation. Many medieval schoolmen had similar teachings." Kurian, G. T. (2001). Nelson's new Christian dictionary : The authoritative resource on the Christian world. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs.

2. Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1947), 3:204.

3. Enns, P. P. (1997, c1989). The Moody handbook of theology (327). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

4. Elwell, Walter E. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 99.

5. Towns, Elmer. Theology for Today, Copyright © 2002 by Wadsworth Group. Pg. 428


Calvinism and Arminianism: The Salvation Debate

calvinism From the writing of the Remonstrance, to the Synod of Dort and until today the Salvation Debate has trodden wearily on. Truth keeps on marching though. As humans we are indeed sinners, but the grace of God enables all to make a conscious decision in regards to their salvation, it is a personal relationship that is entered into with deliberation and commitment. “Prevenient” grace or “grace before hand” has been given to all men, thereby enabling them capable of responding to the Gospel.

The Doctrine of Sin is probably at the root of this entire discussion. Sin is universal and has permeated every facet of our globe and humanity. Sin is the violation of God's law and His will (1) has corrupted the human will and every other facet of our human nature, but God has provided a Lamb, a final sacrifice to remedy man’s inabilities. Sin, by the use of free-will, entered the world and human nature. It is also by use of that same free-will that we surrender this will to God, for His perfecting will. It is a decision by man to be guided by God, a total surrendering of self-will. God guides in genuine love and not with subtle force whereby one is eternally bound to a destiny, beyond their will.

Because of the sacrifice of Christ from the foundation of the world, God grants grace upon the entire human race. Paul declared that “…the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,” (Titus 2:11 NKJV). Luke declared that God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Repentance comes by faith which is a reaction to the grace of God. Therefore, the grace of God is prevenient. This grace does not save them against their will, but it draws them, entices them, and illuminates them. The grace of God aids in overcoming the effects of the sin nature to the extent that they have the ability to accept or reject God’s plan. Election and predestination then are based upon God’s foreknowledge of human decision and not a unilateral imposition of a mechanistic blueprint of salvation’s particularity. God elects those who will accept Him and predestines the Body of Christ to glory, i.e. those who are in the elect. In Pauline epistles we see the use of plural pronouns (Romans 8:29, 30; Ephesians 1:5, 11) which are used to indicate a collective predestination of the Body of Christ, the believers world-wide.

James Arminius wrote: “Those who are obedient to the vocation or call of God, freely yield their assent to grace; yet they are previously excited, impelled, drawn and assisted by grace; and in the very moment in which they actually assent, they possess the capability of not assenting.” (2)

Conversely John Calvin wrote, “But if it is plainly owing to the mere pleasure of God that salvation is spontaneously offered to some, while others have no access to it, great and difficult questions immediately arise, questions which are inexplicable, when just views are not entertained concerning election and predestination. To many this seems a perplexing subject, because they deem it most incongruous that of the great body of mankind some should be predestinated to salvation, and others to destruction.” (3)

Practically interpreting the love of God and rightly dividing God’s Word causes me to understand that the grace of God enables all to make a conscious decision in regards to their salvation, it is a personal relationship that is entered into with deliberation and commitment. It is not human centered since God initiates with the giving of His grace. For God loved the world, so much that He gave His only, uniquely born son, the express image of His person, to extend atonement for anyone who will believe (John 3:16). The Gospel is not discriminatory but is for Jew and Gentile regardless of age, gender, locality, or lineage.


1. Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996, c1989). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (1:772). New York: United Bible societies.

2. Works of James Arminius, Disputations of Arminius, “XVII. On the Vocation of Sinners to Communion with Christ, and to a Participation of His Benefits” PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.

3. Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Translation of: Institutio Christianae religionis.; Reprint, with new introd. Originally published: Edinburgh : Calvin Translation Society, 1845-1846. (III, xxi, 1). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)