Book Review: Are You A Christian? By John C. Carroll

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Early in this work John Calvin Carroll suggests, "It may be easier for the pagan to give up lawlessness than it is for the religious to give up law." (Carroll, pg. 19) Perhaps, this sums up the plight of one or two in the Apostolic movement. In the work Are You A Christian? Carroll offers a concise and practical perspective on the beliefs and lifestyle of the believer.

In over 130 pages and eight chapters Carroll offers good answers for Apostolic beliefs and lifestyle. The author does not advocate redefining Christian doctrines. Rather, he challenges the way we think about them and what you or I might perceive as Apostolic doctrine.

This work contains a forward and includes such chapter titles as "What is a Christian?"; "The Christian Claim"; "Do You Worship Jesus Christ?"; "Secondary Labels"; "Defining Heresy"; "The Christian and Conscience"; "Law and the Traditions of Men" and "Moving Forward. In chapter one Carroll asks the question "What is a Christian?" Here he discusses what it means to "follow Christ" and where we follow Christ. Carroll notes, "The Christian follows Christ away from, through and to anywhere He leads. He trusts in Christ’s love and direction for his life. To truly follow Christ one must forsake, follow and finish." (Carroll, pg. 16)

In chapter two "The Christian Claim" is examined. Christians do not claim to have it all figured out and nor do they claim to be perfect. As Carroll notes, "we are frail and flawed, yet all the while confessing that there is hope in Jesus Christ." (Carroll, pg. 22) Hope in humanity is often misplaced but hope in the Creator is a safe place.

In chapter three Carroll asks the poignant question "Do You Worship Jesus Christ?" Of all the things it may mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ it does include that we worship Him. He is not just a good man, or a prophet who got it right. John 5:23 indicates that "all men" are to honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. Therefore, how we honor the Father is just how we honor the Son which includes worship of the Son as God.

Chapter four is entitled "Secondary Labels" and here the author warns against teaching things as Apostolic that are not, after all, Apostolic. He also discusses how we are to determine what is Apostolic to avoid this and continue teaching sound Apostolic doctrine. Carroll notes, "As leaders and fathers we should be more concerned with presenting our followers and families to Christ than we are with presenting them to our friends." (pg. 51)

Click here to go to author's blog or Twitter and purchase paperback or click here for Amazon Kindle.


Was Junia A Female Apostle? A Reply to J.R. Ensey

This blog post is a response to a recent blog article[1] by J.R. Ensey. Ensey is former President of Texas Bible College and a well published Oneness Pentecostal theologian and author. Typically, I do not find myself disagreeing with Ensey but on this subject we take differing views. Nobody agrees all the time on everything so this is no surprise. However, a good Biblical discussion can only help clarify the respective positions. Another reply to Ensey’s article by Jason Weatherly can also be found here[2].

Is Junia a Female Name?

“The best available mss of Romans have Junia, a feminine name. Several later mss substitute “Junias,” a masculine name. Some early Christian scribes evidently altered the spelling from Junia to “Junias” in order to make the individual a male apostle.”[3]

To this point Paul has greeted several people in the church and among them are women and married couples. For example, in verse 13 Paul refers to Prisca and Aquila who are a married couple: woman and man. Even if we did not know that Junia was a female name, we would still suspect that Andronicus and Junia were husband and wife given this indication. This is not decisive in itself but part of the accumulative case.

We can say with a degree of certainty that Junia is female name. There is no word for “man” or “male” in the Greek text to indicate otherwise. This is not really needed to understand who Junia might be. As we progress we will see that the context may contain indicators to help us see this more clearly. In the fourth century John Chrysostom refers to Junia as a female apostle. Another fourth century witness, Epiphanius, does use the noun in the masculine form but this is not convincing especially since he also refers to Prisca as a male as well.

Michael Burer and Daniel Wallace note, “The majority of patristic commentators regard this as a feminine name.”(4) The evidence, then, is actually against Junia being a male. Those in doubt should be those who would suggest she is not female. That seems to be the more tenuous position at this point. J.D.G. Dunn notes:

"But the simple fact is that the masculine form has been found nowhere else, and the name is more naturally taken as Ἰουνίαν = Junia … as was taken for granted by the patristic commentators, and indeed up to the Middle Ages. The assumption that it must be male is a striking indictment of male presumption regarding the character and structure of earliest Christianity…The most natural way to read the two names within the phrase is as husband and wife."(5)

Andronicus and Junia are referred to, by Paul, as though they were package deal and gives no hint of separate designations. Therefore, our hint may not be wrong. Paul and this couple seem to have had a long standing association with each other, since both were “fellow prisoners”, and both were “in Christ” before him. Romans 16 in particular has almost as many women mentioned as men: Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus's mother, Julia, Nereus's sister. And 9 of the 26 people greeted by Paul in Romans 16 were women. The probability for Junia being a female is significantly high.

Was Junia an Apostle?

If one assumes that only males are apostles then this text has been decided, however if apostles are not only males then this text presents no problems. An apostle isn’t just a part of the original twelve. Texts such as Galatians 1:17; Acts 14:4; 14; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:6; Romans 1:1; Philippians 2:25 offer a wider sense. Roberston Nicoll cautions that “Paul’s use of the word Apostle is not such as to make it easy to believe that he thought of a large class of persons who might be so designated, a class so large that two otherwise unknown persons like Andronicus and Junias might be conspicuous in it.”[6]

Romans 16:7 also indicates that Andronicus and Junia were “outstanding” (NASB) or “prominent” among the apostles. The Greek word for “outstanding” here or “prominent” (KJV) is episemos which occurs twice[7] in the Greek New Testament and nine times[8] in the Greek Old Testament (LXX). In Romans 16:7 this adjective is used in a plural form. This word can refer to bearing a mark or being notable. The following lexical sources indicate:


“excellent, distinguished; infamous…Rom 16:7: distinguished among the apostles (ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις)”[9]


“splendid, prominent, …outstanding ἐ. ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις outstanding among the apostles Ro 16:7.”[10]

Wallace and Burer suggest that this word, instead of here meaning prominent, suggest it is possible to translate Andronicus and Junia as esteemed by the apostles. Therefore, although Junia is female she may not necessarily be an apostle. Burer and Wallace’s study seem to hinge primarily upon pseudipigraphal works (Psalms of Solomon). However, more convincing that pseudipigrhaphal works is the apocryphal 3 Maccabes 6:1 which indicates the sense of “prominent among” as well. In addition, typically one who is esteemed by another is the one who is outstanding. Or, stands out above the others as in 3 Maccabes 6:1 which reads, “Then a certain Eleazar, famous among the priests of the country…”[11] Eleazar was, quite literally, an outstanding priest.

Greek scholar Mark Goodacre from Duke disagrees[12] and even suggests that Mary Magdalene is the first apostle. Goodacre also cites Eldon J. Epp[13] who argues that Junia is a female and apostle. He also suggests that “the apostles” is being used as a descriptor about the status of Andronicus and Junia. He further notes,

“It makes sense and is perfectly Pauline. In the NET translation, on the other hand, "the apostles" is used in a less obviously Pauline sense. Now he is appealing to the authority of an external group labelled as "the apostles". He does not say that Andronicus and Junia are esteemed by "us apostles" (cf. 1 Cor. 4.9) or by "all the apostles, including me", as we might have expected if this were the sense of the passage. He continually refers to himself in Romans 16, and three times in this verse, 16.7, "my relatives", "my fellow prisoners", "in Christ before me", yet on the NET translation, he appears to give authority to a group called "the apostles" that does not obviously include him.”[14]

Episemos is used to describe the ones to whom Paul refers. J.R. Ensey in a recent blog article[15] suggests that we cannot really know if Junia was a female or even if she was an Apostle. The latter is probably more debated than the former but this does not keep us from being able to make good conclusions. Ensey notes:

“In the broader context of the New Testament record, it is highly unlikely that Paul would be naming Junia[s] as an apostle. Even if this reference were to a woman, she would be the lone and solitary example of a female apostle.”

Paul never suggests that ministry is limited to a particular gender. In fact, the first preacher of the Gospel was planned by God to be a female.[16] Yet, here Ensey assumes, that Paul would never name a female as an apostle but since the Old Testament God has had plans to use females in his plan for believers. Ensey assumes his view and does not prove it. Unless one has an a priori assumption that an Apostle refers exclusively to males or only the original twelve the text can be read to suggest that Junia is a female and an Apostle. Perhaps, we will see further posts from Ensey concerning this.

Notice the below renderings of the final clause in Romans 16:7. The latter rendering, the NLT, seems to leave room for either interpretation.

“of note among the apostles” KJV
“outstanding among the Apostles” NASB
“of note among the apostles” NKJV
“prominent among the apostles” NRSV
“well taken among the apostles” Bishops, Tyndale
“which are ancient apostles” Coverdale
“outstanding among the apostles” Pickering
“prominent among the apostles” ISV
“highly respected among the Apostles” NLT

The UBS Handbook on the Book of Romans suggests that this last clause should refer to those counted as “as apostles and were well known”.[17] J.D.G. Dunn further notes,

"The full phrase almost certainly means “prominent among the apostles,”…The straightforward description “the apostles”, and the following clause, together strongly suggest that Andronicus and Junia belonged to the large group (larger than the twelve) of those appointed apostles by the risen Christ in 1 Cor 15:7 …That is, they belonged most probably to the closed group of apostles appointed directly by the risen Christ in a limited period following his resurrection and would include Andronicus and Junia within the select group of “premier” apostles (Eph 2:20), along with Barnabas (Gal 2:9; 1 Cor 9:5–6) and probably Silvanus (1 Thess 2:6–7). …We may firmly conclude, however, that one of the foundation apostles of Christianity was a woman and wife."(18)

Ensey also cites Albert Barnes. Barnes in his commentary suggests they were not apostles. He offers the following points against this interpretation of Romans 16:7. A reply will separate each point.

(1) There is no account of their having been appointed as such.

This is simply not sufficient. Outside of Paul’s reference in chapter 16 we do not even know the account of Andronicus and Junia being imprisoned as Paul. He simply recounts the historical experience as here. Are we to assume that Andronicus and Junia were not fellow-prisoners? No evidence is needed apart from Paul describing them as such.

(2) The expression is not one which would have been used if they “had” been. It would have been “who were distinguished apostles”; compare Romans 1:1; I Corinthians 1:1; II Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1.

This is not decisive, but interesting. Differing constructions can be offered for almost any reading we choose. Likewise, if Andronicus and Junia were not apostles then we could expect something like 2 Corinthians 8:18: “We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches;” However, this is not what we have in Romans 16:7.

(3) It by no means implies that they were apostles. All that the expression fairly implies is, that they were known to the other apostles; that they were regarded by them as worthy of their affection and confidence; that they had been known by them, as Paul immediately adds, before he was himself converted. They had been converted “before” he was, and were distinguished in Jerusalem among the early Christians, and honored with the friendship of the other apostles.”

This is to assume what he has yet to prove. As noted, episemos can refer to one who is outstanding among the apostles. But, an apostle nonetheless. Ensey also cites Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary.

J-F-B Commentary states: “…where the connection or some qualifying words show that the literal meaning of ‘one sent’ is the thing intended, understand by the expression used here, ‘persons esteemed by the apostles’ [Beza, Grotius, De Wette, Meyer, Fritzsche, Stuart, Philippi, Hodge]. And of course, if “Junia” is to be taken for a woman, this latter must be the meaning.”

Ironically, the JFB commentators actually believe the feminine Junia is “more probable” at Romans 16:7. One cannot merely presume that the operative phrase “the apostles” cannot include one who is a female. This has yet to be proven. It well may be the case, I personally do not believe that it is, but that has not been proven. Therefore, interpretation is a primary factor no matter how we slice it. Ensey also notes:

"An interesting observation is that the Greek preposition “en” (en) can be translated in numerous ways. In Romans alone, the term is translated 156 times as “to” and only 9 times as “among.” It was a choice made solely by the translators. Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Geneva Bible translators rendered the term “well taken among the apostles.” Romans 15:9 may shed some light on the matter: “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy: as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.” The use of “among” here did not mean that the one glorifying God, confessing Him, and singing unto His name (Christ) among the Gentiles was one of them. He was born a Jew and died a Jew, but He did these things among the Gentiles."

Words have various meanings depending upon their contexts. Perhaps, alternate readings are possible, as Burer and Wallace have demonstrated, but that does not mean it is being used in such a way here. In Luke 22:26 this same preposition is used in the dative and rendered “greatest among you” (ESV). Therefore, translating “en” as “among” seems to be a perfectly valid way of translating it in Romans 16:7 where it is also used in the dative. In summary Ensey notes:

"It is entirely possible to find those in academia who may feel pressure to say absolutely that Junia was a woman and an apostle, giving a nod to political correctness. Since the language chosen for the KJV seems to leave a small loophole in some minds, it has become the culturally popular position to take. However, looking at the whole of Scripture, and the preponderance of scholarly analysis, the conclusion most apparent is that these two individuals were faithful saints of God—perhaps ministers, although not stated—and were early converts well known to the apostles, having a reputation for faithful, outstanding service in the body of Christ. Beyond that, speculation takes over."

In his November blog contribution J.R. Ensey suggested that short pants on men has never been a part of the Apostolic Christian’s wardrobe. In the July blog post he states, “No one can deny that the vast majority of colleges and seminaries have been consigned to irreversible liberalism.” There is no question that believers are to be modest and we should spend our education dollars wisely. Neither of these follow to Ensey’s conclusions about short pants and neither does it imply we shouldn’t seek higher education. Even implying such a thing is dangerous to the development of the Christian mind. Using Ensey’s logic could he garner anyone in “academia” that would agree with him on his views of short pants or seminary? This type of logic can quickly come full circle.


[1] JRENSEY Blog: http://jrenseyblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/
[2] The Weatherly Report: http://theweatherlyreport.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-response-to-was-junia-romans-167.html
[3] Edwards, James. "Romans 16:7." Ed. Walter J. Harrelson. The New Interpreter's Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. 2033
[4] Daniel Wallace and Michael Burer, "Was Junia Really an Apostle?: A Re-examination of Romans 16.7", Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 6/2 (Fall 2001), http://www.michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/Was%20Junia%20Really%20an%20Apostle%20A%20Re%20examination%20of%20Rom%2016%207.pdf
[5] James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998). 894.
[6] Nicoll, W. Robertson. "Romans 16:7." The Expositor's Greek Testament. New York: Dodd, Mead,
[7] Matthew 27:16; Romans 16:7
[8] Genesis 30:42; Esther 5:4; 1 Maccabes 11:37; 14:48; 2 Maccabes 15:36; 3 Maccabes 6:1; Psalm of Solomon 2:6; 17:30
[9] Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990-). 33
[10] William Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature : A Translation and Adaption of the Fourth Revised and Augmented Edition of Walter Bauer's Griechisch-Deutsches Worterbuch Zu Den Schrift En Des Neuen Testaments Und Der Ubrigen Urchristlichen Literatur (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979). 298.
[11] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989). 3 Mac 6:1.
[12] Goodacre, Mark. Associate Professor of New Testament Dept. of Religion, Duke University. http://podacre.blogspot.com/2009/09/nt-pod-12-junia-first-woman-apostle.html
[13] Eldon Jay Epp, Junia: The First Woman Apostle (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005)
[14] Goodacre, Mark. Associate Professor of New Testament Dept. of Religion, Duke University http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/andronicus-and-junia-prominent-among.html
[15] Ensey, J.R. http://jrenseyblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/
[16] Ps 68:11 The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host:; Matt 28:5, 10 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”; Mark 16:11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. Luke 24:10, 11 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
[17] Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1973). 292.
[18] James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998). 894-95.


The Apostle Paul and Thanksgiving II

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. Around this time of the year I usually blog about Thanksgiving. Last year I blogged about the Apostle Paul and Thanksgiving. This is part two which will continue in that tradition. Below we will continue to look at five verses from Pauline writings which concern a context of thankfulness and thanksgiving. In this post I will primarily be using the ESV. I will include translation abbreviations when another has been cited.

1) 2 Corinthians 9:15 "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" 

Paul begins here with using the same Greek noun also rendered as "grace" to express his deep gratitude toward God. Thanking God for his "gift" which has been understood variously to be Jesus Christ, the Gospel, gracious actions, brotherly love or unity, or the redemption event.

Most commentators go with Christ based upon Paul's usage of the Greek noun elsewhere but this is not decisive. No matter the gift we should never see or hear of a good work without being thankful and praising God. The Gospel came forth from Christ in His death, burial and resurrection and his saving work of redemption stirs gratitude in each of us. The NET has "indescribable gift" and the KJV "unspeakable gift". Christ, brotherly love, and redemption all offer moments when we can call them nothing but indescribable.

2) 1 Corinthians 15:57 "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 

Here we see, perhaps a sudden transition by Paul, to that of thanks to God. Who has given us the victory we obtain through Jesus Christ. Jesus demonstrated complete victory over death and the grave by His literal, physical resurrection on the third day. Note here Paul says "who gives us"--a present tense participle. Meaning it is a simple fact for Paul's thinking or a continual process. A.C. Thiselton noted that in this verse we have "a verbal equivalent to throwing one’s arm around someone in gratitude; or like throwing one’s hat in the air in sheer exultation."(1) 

3) 2 Corinthians 2:14 "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere." 

The ESV rendering is rich. W.R. Nicoll reminds us "The splendid image before the writer’s mind is that of a Roman triumph, which, though he had never seen it, must have been familiar to him as it was to every citizen of the Empire. He thinks of God as the Victor (Rev 6:2) entering the City into which the glory and honour of the nations (Rev 21:26) is brought; the Apostle as “in Christ”—as a member of the Body of Christ—is one of the captives, by means of whom the knowledge and fame of the Victor is made manifest."(2)

This passage starts out with a burst of praise by Paul thanking God, who was in Christ, leading us to triumph and through us spreads this knowledge of Him everywhere. In verse one Paul informs us that he had decided not to visit the Corinthians or "not to make another painful visit" and in chapter two is explaining why he has not arrived. His arrival in Corinth though is not as as urgent as it is to follow Christ. Paul tells the Corinthian community that despite his spirit not being at rest (2:13) he thanks God. Despite the obstacles God, in Christ, always leads him and us to triumph. Through this procession Paul, and consequently later believers, spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God. 

4) 1 Thessalonians 3:9, "For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,"

In the context Paul has written about desiring to come but "Satan hindered us" (2:14), sending Timothy to the community of Thessalonians and his encouraging report (3:1, 6). Even in "all our distress and affliction" Paul and company were comforted through their faith (3:7). Here Paul offers humble thanksgiving to God for the believers. In his Corinthian letter Paul states, "But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you." Here Paul also thanks God for Titus. In the next verse Paul carries this motif to another level.

5) In 1 Timothy 2:1, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,"

Not just for believers or for Titus, in particular, but "for all people". The humility of Paul here only serves as our example as present day believes. Paul was afflicted, suffered shipwreck and all manner of things for the spreading of the Gospel. Yet, in the midst of his pain and and suffering he thanks God for the Thessalonians miles away. Here Paul urges Timothy on in the faith and describes public worship. In this verse he uses four words which capture much of what should be involved in the Christian life and service: supplications, prayers, intercessions, and the giving of thanks. Paul has said "in everything give thanks" (NET). 

The four nouns "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings" are all in the plural form for added force.(3) In our self-centered society individualism is a premium. In contrast to culture, Paul invites believers to think outside themselves and offer prayers for others. To give thanks to God for others. People like leaders in our churches, governments, and all sectors of society. In his day the "all people" included those who bowed their knee to dumb idols. Those who spent time and money on these idols while being completely out of touch with God. This is not merely a passing fancy but part of what it means to be a believer. To be truly like Christ. 


1) Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000). 1303.

2) Nicoll, W. Robertson. "2 Corinthians." The Expositor's Greek Testament. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1912.

3) Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "1 Timothy." Gnomon of the New Testament,. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1858.


Thanksgiving : Rated R

This post is not for the weak of heart. This is not for the self-righteous or the politically correct. We live in a time when many inevitably believe that any and all walls should be tore down. No one will say it that way but our culture believes that walls are negative. They are isolating. They are polarizing. They exist but to restrict and torture us. Many want no wall around the sanctify of marriage and the sanctify of human life. Many do not care whether it be a small human or a big human, they just do not want a wall between them and the abortion clinic. Many do not want a wall when they glorify their sexual deeds and preferences. Many just want to build four walls and put everyone who does not think like them in those walls.

This is supposed to be about Thanksgiving. And it shall. Thanksgiving is a holiday by believers for believers who believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). As I was thinking about this holiday I thought of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. It was a time when the first harvest was good and although the relationship with the Indian and the white man had not completely deteriorated the Wampanoag Indians did offer food and taught the settlers how to plant maize. With the promise that they would help protect them from another tribe (Narraganset). Notice an excerpt from Margaret J. Preston's (1820-1897) early poem about this day:

Through virtue of vested power— 
ye shall gather with one accord, 
And hold, in the month of November,
thanksgiving unto the Lord.”

“He hath granted us peace and plenty, 
and the quiet we’ve sought so long; 
He hath thwarted the wily savage, 
and kept him from wrack and wrong; 
And unto our feast the Sachem shall be bidden, 
that he may know We worship his own Great Spirit, 
who maketh the harvests grow.”(1)

This was all short lived. The food supplies quickly ran out, the Indians felt betrayed and famine became the settler's torment for the next two years. By 1622 the tension between the Indian and the white man burst at the seems.(2) After thinking about these and other tragedies that transpired in early North American history my mind went to another time and another group of people.

To a time well before William Bradshaw and to a place other than Plymouth Colony. A time and place where the children of Israel were dedicating the rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah and giving thanks (Nehemiah 12:24-40). For them walls saved. Walls preserved. Walls protected. While Israel fell away from God many times in the Old Testament she did experience revival through her labor and thanksgiving. 

The Bible speaks often about Thanksgiving but of all the Biblical books the Psalms contain perhaps the most references. Thankfulness is not predicated upon success or even failures (Psalm 119:62). It is a personal, voluntary expression from our heart. If you were no longer able to work another would fill your place. If a solider falls another steps into their place. With thanksgiving no one can offer your word or sacrifice of thanksgiving for you (3). It is important that you give your thanks. And that I give my thanks.

Thanksgiving is not a reward or to be expected rather it is acknowledging ones thankfulness to another. No finite payment could ever repay what God has done for us and we are eternally thankful. The revival that Nehemiah and the Israelite's experienced rose out of their giving God praise and thanksgiving.

In the Old Testament the children of Israel offered material sacrifices of thanksgiving of which included specific direction (See Leviticus 7:12-13, 15; Psalm 107:22; 116:17). Today, it is the privilege and honor of the believers to participate in the Kingdom of God. We are to still offer gifts of thanksgiving to God but the motivation should be on sacrifice and thankfulness instead of compensation or re-numeration.

The Old Testament only anticipates the thanksgiving of the New Testament. There we find that there is to be ceaseless thanksgiving to God in heaven (Revelation 4:9; 7:12; 11:17) and on earth (Hebrews 13:15). Christ, our supreme example, practiced giving thanks regularly (Matthew 15:36; 26:27; Mark 8:6; 14:23; Luke 22:17). As noted in other blogs posts, Paul was faithful in giving thanks to His Creator (Acts 27:35; Romans 14:6; 2 Corinthians 9:15).

The Apostle Paul even writes, "For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 4:15). Perhaps the pervasiveness of human ingratitude is neatly exposed when Paul even suggests, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (ESV) Read that again. Give thanks in all circumstances. All circumstances. Surely, Paul does not mean when a person gets cancer! Surely, this does not apply when our closest loved ones die or are injured! Read it again. Give thanks in all circumstances. 

We not only thank God for His material blessings (jobs, cars, etc.) but we are to thank Him for His free gift of salvation brought to us through Jesus Christ. To do this admits there is higher purpose and that God has intervened in human history. We give thanks always. Even in circumstances like the very first thanksgiving which precipitated bloodshed and hunger. Even in circumstances like Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall.

Perhaps, we live in a time and place where we must work on rebuilding the wall. A time when the sin of ungratefulness (See 2 Timothy 3:2) is a trend and popular. A time when only one of the ten lepers who was healed actually returns (See Luke 17:11-19). A time to tirelessly work to rebuild the walls, even expanding the walls, in order to protect, preserve and add new territory. To change and make a difference. To offer hope for the hopeless and shelter for the weary. 

Rebuild the wall. 

1) Preston M. 2006 Jul 12. The First Thanksgiving. Poetry X. http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/11689/>. Accessed 2012 Nov 20.

2) Gillon, Steven M., and Cathy D. Matson. The American Experiment: A History of the United States. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. 64. Print.

3) Leviticus 22:29 | ESV And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.


Book Review: The Development of the Trinity by Glen Davidson M.A.

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In this work Glen Davidson sets out to outline the basic historical evolution of the doctrine of the Trinity. It is popular for modern Trinitarians to believe that this doctrine has a consistent, uniform stream of evidence. And that this is somehow completely consistent with the Trinity they believe today. The final test of the Trinity is the testimony of Scripture but as Davidson clearly outlines in his book, "The trinity--without any doubt of any historian--was indeed a development. The ideologies that led to and came from this dogma were from the influence of Greek thinking, namely Neo-Platonism." (Davidson, pg. 2)

Davidson has a M.A. cum laude from Bethel Seminary majoring in Church History. Davidson gives thanks to God, his wife and his Jewish parents for helping him through Seminary. He also thanks professor of Church History, James Smith III, ThD, at Bethel for his guidance and counsel.

The book is just a little over 133 pages which should not be intimidating for the novice but at the same time welcoming to the expert. Davidson outlines the development of the Trinity in three parts: Part One: The New Doctrine Is Introduced, Part Two: The New Doctrine Is Established and Part Three: The New Doctrine Is Mandated. The author also covers the period after the Apostles (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp) and discusses the New Doctrines Terminology: The Creeds.

The Trinity develops from the Deity of Christ, Deity of the Holy Spirit and then a definitive formulation. Oneness Pentecostals affirm that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God. This is Biblical doctrine. The definitive formulation of the Trinity is not and this is where the controversy enters.

Davidson also has a section on the terminology or words used to make sense of the "new doctrine". As he points out, "They can be found so common in Christendom that we would assume them to be in the Scriptures." (Davidson, pg. 105) Terms discussed are: "God the Son", "God the Holy Spirit", "Eternal Son", "Co-equal" and "Co-eternal". The author also points out that the locution "God in three persons" was "not used by the church "fathers" until Augustine...This set of words was most likely made famous by the hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy," written by Reginald Heber in 1826, and with music added by John Dykes in 1861." (Davidson, pg. 122-123)

In Part One Davidson discusses the introduction of the "new doctrine". The formulation of this doctrine begins with the Greek Apologists (AD 130-180) which imagined a God that was transcendent and impassible. Vergilus Ferm, PhD notes that the "Apologists represented, on the whole, non-Jewish Christian converts trained to think in Hellenistic terms." (Ferm, pg. 145)

In Part Two the author examines the contributions of Iraenaeus, Tertullian, Clement, and Origen. He also concisely discusses modalism,  the Council of Nicea, Council of Constantinople, the Pre-existence of Christ, and the contributions of the Cappodocians in this section. Davidson accurately notes that through the Cappodocians "the major trinitarian concepts took root." (Davidson, pg. 81) In Part Three the book examines the work of Augustine and the Athanasian creed.

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1) Davidson, Glen (2012) The Development of the Trinity : The Evolution of a "New Doctrine" Hazelwood, MO : Pentecostal Publishing House

2) Vergilius Ferm, A History of Philosophical Systems (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1950), 145


Book Review: The End by Mark Hitchcock

Mark Hitchock is a husband, father, pastor, attorney, and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. In his recent work The End Mark examines almost every question about the end of times from a futurist premillennial perspective. This work is a comprehensive and essential tool for any student of Bible prophecy. 

In over 500 pages, 39 chapters, an appendix section along with notes, index and Scripture index Hitchcock lays out his view along with interaction with other views. From my perspective as a historical premillennialist Hitchcock's work offers alternative views in many places with fairness and grace. The book is easy to navigate and contains illustrations and summaries adequately throughout the text. I also found his research on the topics of the binding of Satan, the Millennium and the New Heavens and Earth to be especially insightful and persuasive.

In chapter 34 while discussing the Millennium he suggests, "Jesus wins. All Christians can agree on a few things, and this is one of them. It's one of those nonnegotiables. In the end, Jesus will reign over the whole world as King." (Hitchock, pg. 399) The book also discusses the question, "Are We in the Millennium Now?" Hitchcock notes, "Many premillennialists agree with amillennialists and postmillenialits that Jesus is ruling over the church during this present age and that He reigns in the hearts of his people. He was, is, and always will be the Soverign of the Universe." (Hitchcock, pg. 404) 

From a premillennial perspective the millennium involves a physical reign of Christ on the earth. During this time certain prophecies could be fulfilled. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretells of a removal of a curse on the earth. His prophecy includes an elimination of sickness neither of which has occurred historically (Isaiah 11:6-9; 33:24). He speaks of harmony in the animal kingdom which has apparently not occurred (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25).

In chapter 35 while discussing "Why The Millennium?" he notes "The Millennium will bring creation full circle as God brings to pass with the second Adam, Jesus Christ, what the first Adam failed to do (1 Corinthians 15:21-22." (Hitchcock, pg. 420) In the Millennium God will change or renew a New Heaven and New Earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelations 21:1-3). One that reverses the curse on creation (Genesis 3:14-19) and establishes the original purpose of God for the earth. Even the body of the resurrected believer is changed or renewed (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:20; Romans 8:23).

For more information on this book, the author and where to pick up your copy of this book today, please click on the link below:


Reigning with Christ III

Three Views: Post-millennial, A-millennial, and Pre-millennial: 

The word millennium simply refers to a thousand years. When will Jesus reign and how will Jesus reign? These views seek to answer those questions. Not everyone agrees over the nature or time of the millennium. Not all are convinced of a future millennial reign at all. Since the Ascension of Christ various views have emerged. This vacillation will no doubt continue as the landscape of time and history changes. Certain climactic views on earth might cause one to reconsider his or her views. 

Postmillenialism is comparatively recent in origin.[7] Daniel Whitby and A.A. Hodge are some of the most notable men who hold this view. This view would suggest that we are fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) and that a kingdom of heaven, on earth, is flowering and coming to fruition today. They would point to the Parable of the Mustard Seed (See Matthew 24) and certain other parables; the successes of the Church in history are evidence as well. For the postmillennialist Christ will come after the millennium. Dr. Ed Hindson notes that “those who hold to this perspective believe that the world will continue to get better and better until the entire world is Christianized”[8] 

The postmillennial view would see Revelation 20:6 as looking back on history. The binding of Satan did not render him in active but only operating in a limited capacity. The millennium is at the end of history that sees the Reign of Christ. Some see the Reign of Christ as literal and yet others see it as spiritual. Amillennialism, meaning no millennium, would suggest a spiritual or allegorical interpretation of the relevant texts. The millennium then is spiritual. St. Augustine is the popular founder of this view in his book, The City of God. In this work he reframed Christian understanding to believe that the church age was indeed the thousand year reign. William Hendriksen is another notable scholar who holds to this view. Adherents to this view also sees the spiritual kingdom being fulfilled now in a spiritual sense—on earth or in heaven. 

Post-millennialists are highly optimisitic and maybe for good reason. That is yet to be decided. This view interprets the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-33) to support this understanding. This parable does not inform us as to the extent to which the Kingdom would grow analogous to the seed. Some parts of the world are experiencing a revival of the Gospel. Yet the world is also increasingly becoming evil. Passages such as Matthew 7:13-14, 24:21-30; Luke 18:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12-13; 4:3-4 are used to reject this view.

This view would also use Matthew 24 to support their view. Mainly interpreting verses from this chapter as being fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Roman armies led by Titus. While this even can be called a coming of the Lord in judgment at the same time it is clear that the predictions of a still future and personal return of the Lord. Appealing to imagery or symbolisms found in Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10; Amos 8:9; Isaiah 13:10, 34:4. In Matthew 24:29 the sun is darkened, the moon reflects no light, stars fall from heaven and the heavens are shaken. The first three prophets refer to judgments which include darkness. The magnitude of phenomena and power demanded by Matthew 24:29 are not found in those prophets. The Isaiah texts can be understood to refer to seeming cosmic events having fulfillment in a final judgment scenario.

During the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 Christ is addressing His disciples and warning them of persecution and tribulation to come. The Disciples then could also be representative of the church. Perhaps the most explicit denial of the post-millenial view here is Matthew 24:30, “…They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (NIV) Interpreting Mattthew 24 in light of Jews in tribulation or a future Jewish kingdom seems more difficult than understanding it in light of the Church.

To the amillenialist heaven follows the Second Coming of Christ, not a literal millennial kingdom. For the amillennialist Satan was bound during the earthly ministry of Jesus (See Matthew 12:29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31). During this church age Christ is reigning from heaven and Satan is actually limited in that he cannot completely stop the spread of the Gospel. This view does not seem to do complete justice to passages such as the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:6.

The Duration of the Millennium: 

The actual duration is perhaps the most debated aspect of this passage. Does 1,000 mean 1,000 in this passage or is it referring to a symbolic or long period of time? Revelation 20:6 is the only verse which actually highlights the length of the Reign of Christ. This is not the only verse however that refers to His Messianic Kingdom. Perhaps that presupposition should be held suspect until ruled out further. Should the Scriptures have to say something more than once to be true? In Genesis 11 the Tower of Babel is only referred to once but its existence and what happened there is considered to be true. In a recent tome Mark Hitchcock lists the following ten verses as being “ten of the most important Old Testament passages on the coming kingdom.” They are as follows: Isaiah 2:1-5, 11:1-16, 32:1-20, 35:1-20, 60:1-22; Jeremiah 31:1-40, 33:1-26; Ezekiel 37:14-28; Amos 9:11-15; Zechariah 14:6-21.

The premillennial view would attempt to take Revelations 20:6 as literal as the context allows and demands. The words for a thousand years appear six times in Revelations 20 verses 1-7. In this instance it would refer to a period of time in which Christ reigns and Satan is not only limited but unable to deceive or influence the nations. Passages such as Luke 22:3; John 16:11; Acts 5:3; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 11:14; Ephesians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Timothy 2:26 and 1 Peter 5:8 seem to support the New Testament belief that Satan is active on earth during the present time. In John 16:11 he is the ruler of this world; in Ephesians 2:2 the prince of the power of the air; in 2 Corinthians 4:4 the god of this age and in 1 Peter 5:8 a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.

It is obvious from the preceding Scriptures that Satan is not bound in our present time. As the world exhibits goodness and some virtue it is also increasingly becoming evil. If the millennium is here and now then what of the present evil or dark spiritual influence today? Some opponents of a future millennium suggest that Satan is literally bound and sealed away yet to explain the presence of evil today it is explained that his demons are still active. For example, if a leader of organized crime was sealed away from society his followers, still persuaded of the same objectives, could still inflict crimes or evil against humanity. Yet, even the demons know of an impending doom. In Matthew 8:29 we read, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

Church History: 

“It is generally agreed that the view of the church for the centuries immediately following the Apostolic era was the premillennial view of the return of Christ.”[9] In his Systematic TheologyRobert Culver states: “It is not surprising therefore that chiliasm (belief in the thousand-year reign) was widely spread, if not universal, in the first three centuries.”[10] Phillip Schaff, in his voluminous History of the Christian Church writes:

“The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine) opposed it.”[11]

Here Schaff, who was not a proponent of premillenialism, cites men such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin, and Irenaeus as early teachers of that very view. Not long after Romish doctrines began to take root in the primitive church amillenarianism became popular. It seemed the hope of Christ’s return where man rule and reigned with Christ was misplaced. At this point amilleniarianism began to ascend and eclipse premillenialism. In the post-Reformation era however postmillennialism began its rise. Postmillennialism would lose its luster during WWII.

Systematic theologian Henry C. Thiessen suggested that “From the 4th Century on, the belief in the millennium declined.”[12] New Testament scholar Ben Witherington suggests, "The vast majority of early Christian writers who commented on the matter did indeed understand Revelation 20 and texts like 1 Corinthians 15 to refer to a reign of Christ on the earth prior to the end, prior to the final judgment and the new heaven and the new earth. We may thank figures like Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 263–339) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430) many centuries after the time of the New Testament writers for changing the way such texts were read."(13)

Thiessen goes on to say there are several reasons for this decline but lists three. They are summarized as the following: 1) the persecutions against the church drew to an end after the conversion of Constantine. 2) A change in Biblical interpretation from literal hermeneutic to the allegorical method. Biblical predictions became spiritualized. 3) Many began to interpret the binding of Satan and the resurrection and reign of the saints as the personal victory of believers over Satan. 


Using a literal method of interpretation one cannot deny that the Second Coming of Christ is both literal and accompanied by a millennial reign. It is the place, nature, and timing of these events that believers have debated for some time. At the moment, this writer holds to the historic premillennial view which sees believers continuing until a future or perhaps present tribulation until Satan is bound and Christ returns to earth to establish the millennial kingdom.

A literal reading of Revelations 20 should produce a premillenial view. Other views will have to spiritualize this unit of text in order for it to make sense otherwise. Unlike the present condition of earth, which is full of confusion and mounting evil, Christ will usher in a “golden era of peace and prosperity”[14] This Reign of Christ will be marked by allegiance and devotion to Him alone. As a result of Christ’s reign joy, peace, healing, protection, and justice will flourish. In his work The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgement, Glory Bloesch rightly warns premillennialist. He suggests:

“In addition an egocentric strand runs through premillennialism. The Christian goal sometimes appears to be experiencing the pleasures of the millennium rather than glorifying God in lowly service. Our service to the world should be fueled by hope in the second advent of Christ, but this hope should turn us ever more to the world in its poverty and misery rather than away from the world toward an idyllic kingdom that lies on the other side of history.”[15]

Christians must not just sit by idle and complacent as though we must wait to experience pleasure and life in Christ only in the Millennium. The Kingdom of God has come and is coming. Jesus Christ does reign in our hearts and has come and will come again but this does not mean believers must simply wait and do nothing. We should fuel and not stifle our "service to the world" by this "hope"(Titus 2:13). It is all the more reason to do something for the Kingdom now or as Bloesch says, “on this side of history.”


7 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.

8 Hindson, Ed. Et al. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (p. 234). © 2004 by Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson

9 Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come (p. 373). © 1958 by Dunham Publishing Co. Zondervan

10 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.

11 Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1997). History of the Christian church. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

12 Thiessen, Henry C. (1949) Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Mi: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (366)

13 Witherington, Ben Revelation and the End Times : Unraveling God’s Message of Hope (Kindle Locations 1273-1275). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

14 Hindson, Ed. The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future (p. 200). Twenty-First Century Commentary Series © 2002 by Tyndale Theological Seminary

15 Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004). 89.

Reigning with Christ II

General Characteristics and Events of the Millennium: 

After much time of great tribulation and sorrow Christ will return to earth to establish a Kingdom on earth. It is during this time that Christ will literally be present upon the earth ruling and reigning. This rule and reign is not only in the hearts of believers simultaneously (spiritual) but on the earth also (physical) and also fulfilling many Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 11:6-9; 33:24; 65:25). It does not logically follow from the premise that since some prophecies are fulfilled therefore all prophecies to Israel were fulfilled at Calvary or on the day of Pentecost. Besides being a non-sequitur it also begs the question. No Scripture seems to suggest that because some or a few prophecies about Israel have been fulfilled that all of them are.

Even biblical scholar Donald G. Bloeshe, who is critical of this view, suggests that many passages foretell of a future, in space and time, which "embodies millennial expectations":

"When we turn to the Old Testament, we find many passages that depict a future within history that embodies millennial expectations. The prophecies of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom and the return of the Jews to the holy land all have a distinctly millennial ring (cf. Is 2:1–4; 11:6–16; 49:7–26; 51:4–6; 52:10; Jer 16:16–21; 23:1–8; 32:36–44; Ezek 34:11–16; 36:24; Micah 4:1–5; 7:11–20; Joel 2:28–32; Zech 8:1–8; 14:16–21; Amos 9:14–15)."([2])

Physical Characteristics: 

As mentioned prior, the millennium involves a physical reign of Christ on the earth. During this time certain prophecies could be fulfilled. For example, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah prophecies of a removal of a curse on the earth; his prophecy also includes an elimination of sickness neither of which has occurred historically (Isaiah 11:6-9; 33:24). Nor has harmony in the animal kingdom occurred (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25).

The topography also seems to be changed in some way (Ezekiel 47:1-12, 48:8-20; Zechariah 14:4, 8, 10). Isaiah also records that “in the last days” the mountain of God’s house will be established as the highest mountain and so great that “all nations” shall flow or stream into it (Isaiah 2:2). Swords will be turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Nation does not lift up sword against another and man ceases learning war. The magnitude of these expressions should not be lost. This same hope was also revealed to the prophet Micah (Micah 4:1-3) to describe the nature of this time. In Hebrew thinking “mountain” can be symbolic for kingdom as in Daniel 2:35 where “mountain” represents the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar (See also Revelation 13:1, 17:9-11). 

The magnitudes of Isaiah’s prophecies do not stop there. During this time also the wolf will dwell with the lamb, leopard with the young goat, calf and the fattened calf with the lion and a child will lead them (Isaiah 11:6-9, 35:9; Ezekiel 34:25). Crops are abundant (Isaiah 27:6, 35:1-2, 6-7; Amos 9:13; Zechariah 14:8) and even human life appears to be increased (Isaiah 65:20-23).

Spiritual or Religious Characteristics: 

As will be discussed further below Satan is bound, sealed away and unable to deceive (Revelation 20:1-3). Nations will worship in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-2, 7:12). Knowledge of God will fill the whole earth (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) and righteousness and justice will prevail (Isaiah 9:7, 11:4; 42:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5). 

The fact that a number of years is not mentioned in the prophetic writings is not needed because a reign will occur in which the explanation of a millennium is coherent. It is consistent from Old Testament to New Testament. While only one verse is needed to establish a truth the Scriptures are not void of other passages that seem to fit neither our present nor future eternal state (Isa. 65:20; 11:6-11; Zech 14:5-17). The people enjoying the millennium or the thousand year period will be comprised of Old Testament saints and the saved Jews and Gentiles alike. 

Israel and the Church: 

Throughout Scripture we see that the Bible distinguishes true Israel from the Church. Israelites can be saved here, and now. However, there are distinctions that must be made. Most of the Old Testament prophecies foretell of an earthly rule of righteousness and peace. This is satisfied soteriologically and universally but not all the promises and prophecies have been fulfilled.

Notice the words of 17th Century theologians John Owen and Nehemiah Cox, "The New Covenant of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and is the clearest and final fulfillment of the historical Covenant of Grace."[3] Some would understand the Church and Israel in this way. This suggests, in some way, that the Church and Israel are not distinguishable entities but the same in their prophetic unfolding of Scripture. While there are overlaps and similarities the distinction between the church and Israel is apparent and should be acknowledged. In this discussion it is important to understand that they are not identical nor are the terms interchangeable. 1 Corinthians 10:32 reflects just such a division when it says, "Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God," (ESV). In Galatians 6:16 and 1 Corinthians 10:18 Paul contrasts believing Jews with unbelieving Jews.

This view is also referred to as Replacement theology, and/or is a component of post or a-millennial views. This view also understands the Gentile believers described as "seed of Abraham" (Galatians 3:29) to mean that they are indeed Israel. This is a non-sequitur. Paul's description of Gentile believers in Galatians 3:29 means that they participate in the spiritual blessings that come through Israel (See Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11, 14). It does not mean they are Israel.

In the books of Acts both the Church and Israel co-exist but they are also shown as continuing to be distinct in some way. Robert L. Saucy has noted, "Both the church and Israel are therefore Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise. But this does not therefore equate the church and Israel."[4] To equate Israel with the Church hermeneutically is a failure to adequately acknowledge the ethnicity principle of Scripture.

This view seems to confuse God's promise of individual salvation with God's promises to national Israel. The Church has not replaced, is in lieu of or instead of Israel. Israel has never left the program of God. Romans chapter 11 is a very important chapter concerning Israel and there we can see that Israel, the olive tree, never ceases to be the olive tree. The sovereignty of God helps us understand this better. In fact, the Gentiles or the engrafted wild olive tree can be taken out for its arrogance if God, in His sovereignty, chooses it to be so (Romans 11:21). Paul also records that it is the Jewish root itself which is supporting the Gentile believers (Romans 11:18).

Messianic Jewish scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum has rightly noted, “Israel will indeed be saved in the same way the Church is, by grace through faith…but if the Old Testament is allowed to mean what it says, there is also much more in store for Israel.” Fruchtenbaum’s comprehensive work goes on to conclude, “the term Israel is used a total of 73 times in the New Testament... the vast majority of the times it refers to national ethnic Israel.”[5]

Political Characteristics or Events: 

The timing of this righteousness and peace comes on the heels of bloodshed and tribulation. The righteousness comes when it seems unrighteousness has had the final say. It is during this millennial reign that Christ will rule over the affairs of men, from the throne of David (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32). 

During this much longed for peace those who have lived by faith, including Old Testament saints and believers who died during persecution—the redeemed—will reign with Christ. Verse four is quite clear that those who are with Christ will reign with Christ. The ability to judge is even committed to believers. This suggests that “they participated with Christ in the judicial rule of the nations during the Millennium.”[6] 

The Psalmist declared, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalms 108:5 ESV) The nature of this millennial reign will be one characteristic of peace and righteousness. The glory of God shall literally be “over all the earth!” This time of peace will be a demonstration of man’s failure and yet God’s ability to triumph. The Reign of Christ is and will be a political and spiritual rule. It will be “over all the earth” meaning it will be universal. It will be in authority and power. Notice the rendering by the New Living Translation here, “May your glory shine over all the earth. (Psalm 108:5 NLT)

Israel will be at peace in the land (Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Isaiah 32:18; Hosea 14:5, 7; Amos 9:15; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10, 14:11). The Abrahamic covenant land boundaries are established (Genesis 15:18:-21; Ezekiel 47:13-48:8, 23-27). While in Jerusalem Christ rules over the nations (Isaiah 11:3-5; Micah 4:2-3; Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 19:15) and Israel (Isaiah 40:11; Micah 4:7, 5:2) thus fulfilling the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:11-16; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 33:17-26). 


2 Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004). 89.

3 Owen, John and Coxe, Nehemiah. Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ (Palmsdale: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005), 181.

4 Saucy, L. Robert. The Church in God's Program. Copyright (c) 1972 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Pg. 75

5 Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. (1989) Israeology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. (846) Ariel Ministries.

6 Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Re 20:4-6). Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers.

Reigning with Christ I

Nearing the close of the prophetic and apocalyptic Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John a startling and exciting revelation takes place. In chapter 20 John records:

(1) I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. (2) He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. (3) He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (4) I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand yearsRevelation 20:1-6 NIV [1] 

Revelation 20:4-6 

Verse Four: 

In verse 4 thrones are seen for “they” (third person plural pronoun) who have been given authority to judge. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 records that believers judge angels but here it could refer to them judging on earth in a new creation. This pronoun could refer to the church or believers (Revelation 6:9; 4:4); the apostles (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29-30) or the believers as a whole (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).

Beheading by axes and swords were not unheard of in the first century and prior but the term “beheaded” does have a broader semantic range. It could mean something like “executed” because as Paul has already informed us (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) all believers will reign with Jesus. Revelation 2:26-28 and 3:12, 22 also support this understanding. The subjects of Revelation 20:4 are described differently than those of 5:10 or 6:9 but similarities also exist. While this passage may not explicitly distinguish two sets of tribulation groups if either existed the language could imply both. They came to life and reigned with Christ (Revelation 3:21) for a thousand years.

The words “came to life” at the end of this verse can refer to bodily resurrection. The same Greek verb used to translate “came to life” is used to speak of Christ’s physical resurrection in Acts 1:3 (“he shewed himself alive” KJV) and also in the aorist in Revelation 2:8 where we read “came to life again.” (NIV). It also occurs in Revelation 13:14 where the beast is “wounded by the sword and yet lived.” (NIV) This same verb is also used in the Greek of the LXX to render “and they lived” to describe dead men brought to life (Ezekiel 37:10). Throughout John’s Apocalyptic writing believers have lost their physical lives for the sake of Christ and are even give a crown of life and reign with Christ (Revelation 2:10; 5:10). These are seen by John to be real lives and not merely figurative ones. Therefore, John is not referring to coming to life from spiritual death since believers or martyrs were not spiritually dead.

Verse Five: 

The best interpreter of John is not one limited only to his presuppositions whether they are a covenant theologian or a premillenialist. John himself is his own best interpreter. Notice the movement from verse four to verse five from the NIV: “…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.” This coming to life is the first resurrection. Some will contend that there is only one resurrection and therefore John here refers to that one resurrection. However, John clearly says “the first resurrection” here which could imply another. Daniel 12:2, Acts 24:15 and John 5:28-29 can also be understood to support this view. The operative term in verse five is “resurrection”. This coming to life refers to a physical resurrection since the noun is routinely referred to about 40 times as a physical resurrection from death to life (Matthew 22:23, 28, 30-31; Mark 12:18, 23; Luke 14:14, 20:27, 33, 35-36; John 5:29, 11:24-25; Acts 1:22, 2:31, 4:2, 4:33, 17:18, 32, 26:23; Romans 6:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:12-13, 21, 42; Philippians 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:18; Hebrews 6:2, 11:35; 1 Peter 1:3, 3:21).

John also refers to the rest of the dead that did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. The translators add the parenthesis for clarity and to clearly express the intent of John here. Here in verse five the verb which translates “come to life” is also aorist as in verse four. Those who came to life reigned until the thousand years ended or were completed.

Verse Six: 

The prepositional phrase “in the first resurrection” modifies those who are blessed or fortunate and holy or dedicated. They belong entirely to the Lord. These “have part” (NIV) or are they “who shares” (ESV) in the first resurrection. In 20:14 the “second death” is defined by John clearly, “The lake of fire is the second death.” (NIV) The second death has no power over these rather they will be “priests of God and of Christ” (NIV). 

The term “thousand” here has caused much controversy. The option is either to suggest thousand here does not really mean thousand or go with a straight forward reading where thousand means thousand. Attention will be given to the duration of the millennium in the following posts.

This author does not think the text demands two sets of 1,000 years either (literal or symbolic). Both instances are separate clauses within the same sentence. It is interpreted that way though. Scholars like Bengel (two mill. periods) and Lange (one mill. period) worked this out and came to different conclusions. On my reading, it appears that the 1,000 years separates the two resurrections indicated in vs. 4.

John is seeing this in a vision and is reporting it to us as it unfolds. (32x John says then I saw) The chapter prior referred to the second coming (Rev. 19:11-21) and therefore this millennium would chronologically refer to a period after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. It does not seem to be incompatible with the text itself at least.

In verse four those who did not receive the mark came to life and reigned for 1,000 years. In verse five the others did not until after the 1,000 years were completed. In verse six John describes those in the first resurrection as “blessed” and “holy” and over them the second death has no power. And they will reign. Those who reign in vs. 6 reign, together, with others who are “blessed and holy” and apart of the first resurrection.

Zechariah 14:9 records, The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (NIV)

Zechariah makes this clear and without dispute, “The LORD will be king over the whole earth.” This kingdom will be set up, on earth, when Christ returns a second time, in the clouds of the sky, just as He departed (Revelations 1:7). Later the Apostle Paul refers to His coming as a blessed hope and glorious appearing (Titus 2:13).


[1] The New International Version will be used throughout unless noted otherwise.


The James Orr Collection (21 Vols) on Pre-Pub at Logos

Click here to bid on the highest price you'd pay. If the final price is lower, that's what you'll pay. Here's some excerpts from Logos.com


The James Orr Collection contains 21 volumes from one of Scotland’s most prominent nineteenth-century conservative theologians. A friend and peer of B. B. Warfield and R. A. Torrey, Orr, through his lectures and writings, criticized the modernist theology then gaining popularity. Orr’s articulate defense and authoritative view of the Bible gained him international prestige, and he lectured and preached all over the world.
The James Orr Collection contains his most influential works, including The Christian View of God and the World, Orr’s lectures on the incarnation of Christ, and Sidelights on Christian Doctrine, Orr’s popular handbook of Christian doctrine. Several works examine the problems associated with liberal theology, including two works on the Ritschlian school of thought, and numerous essays and lectures cover such issues as the Bible’s inspiration and infallibility, Christ’s virgin birth, the Gospels’ authenticity, and more.
In the Logos Bible Software edition, all Scripture passages in The James Orr Collection are tagged to appear on mouse-over. For scholarly work or personal Bible study, this makes these resources more powerful and easier to access than ever before. Perform powerful searches by topic or Scripture reference—finding, for example, every mention of “resurrection” or “Mark 9:2.”
Individual Titles



Does the Bible Affirm Slavery?

1Peter 2:18  
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. ESV 

This post is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of slavery and the Bible. In our society this verse and  others seem to pose a problem for some people and is even the reason some have given in rejecting God or the Bible. Does the Bible affirm slavery? Should this verse be cancelled out? No, and no. Notice the various renderings given above. The KJV and ESV have "servants". The LEB has "domestic slaves".

The Bible does not condone slavery here but instructs all believers on how to work and conduct themselves in certain cultural situations which included slavery. Old Testament ideas of slavery and those seen in the New Testament are different from that seen in the Greco-Roman world or even the slave trading in the South where persons were bought and sold as property. 

Ironically, those who suspend their faith in the Bible or God as a result of this issue are simultaneously saddled with a perplexing dilemma or radical skepticism. In the Genesis account it is clear that Egypt also imposed slavery as it was imposed upon Joseph. Later, Moses would lead the family and descendants of Joseph out of Egypt and to freedom. Note these comments from the Encyclopedia Britannica where it is indicated that even white slaves have been used:
It is probable that the Ottoman Empire, and especially its centre in Turkey, should be termed a slave society. Slaves from both the white Slavic north and the black African south flowed into Turkish cities for half a millennium after the Turks seized control of much of the Balkans in the 14th century. The proportion of the population that was slave ranged from about one-fifth in Istanbul, the capital, to much less in remoter provincial areas. Perhaps only people such as the slave owners of the circum-Caribbean sugar islands and the American South were as preoccupied with slaves as were the Ottomans.(1)
The ancient Code of Hammurabi also discusses slavery occurring just after Babel. China, Korea, India, black Africa where most slave owners were black and where "Africans were captured by other Africans in raids and then transported to the coast"(2) for sale or trade,  most of Europe, even some North American tribes (Klamath, Pawnee, Yurok, Creek, Comanche) and other countries around the globe have participated in slavery in some form throughout their respective histories. Islamic societies have also participated in slavery and today, slavery and genocide takes place in Sudan and Darfur which is primarily Islamic. Does this mean we should suspend our faith that the Code of Hammurabi exists? Should I buy "made in China" items when they have contributed to slavery?

The Greek word used for “Servants” in 1 Peter 2:18 is not the typical Greek word for “slave” either. The Greeks and Romans, who often used white slaves, involved themselves with slavery wherein the slave had no rights at all. The Biblical word for “servant” used here though refers to one who lives in the same house as another as a servant or slave (See Colossians 3:22-25). For a more comprehensive review of this topic from a Christian perspective click here.

A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown suggest something similar, “Masters were not commonly Christians: he therefore mentions only the duties of the servants. These were then often persecuted by their unbelieving masters. Peter’s special object seems to be to teach them submission, whatever the character of the masters might be.”(3) The message of Peter here unfolds more clearly as Peter H. Davids suggests:

"The slaves, the second example Peter gives, was not viewed as a moral person, but rather as one who was simply to obey unquestioningly. Thus even in addressing them Peter is raising their status. The slaves had few rights and could be treated by their masters arbitrarily...Thus it was quite possible that a slave would “suffer for doing good. ” Furthermore, the slave, unlike the Roman citizen, could be crucified. Thus Peter urges them to identify with Jesus, who also suffered the extreme penalty, which was so shameful that Roman writers would rarely mention it."(4)

Notice Exodus 21:16, “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” KJV Kidnapping is expressly against sound doctrine in 1 Timothy 1:10. The full testimony of Scripture ultimately militates against slavery and slave trading. Passages such as Philemon 16, Galatians 3:28, 1 Peter 2:21-25 do seem to offer the death blow to slavery. Gordon D. Fee notes, "The New Testament writers also do not denounce slavery as an evil—although they undercut it by urging that the householder and his slaves were brother and sister in Christ (see Phlm 16; cf. Eph 6:9)."(5) This is why historically Christian opposition to slavery is what has largely contributed to its abolition

As Westerner’s slavery is not directly applicable to us today. But the relationship a believing employee has with their employer still applies. Peter nor Paul may have expressly condemned slavery because they expected believers to accept the will of God in whatever job or social position they found themselves.


1) "slavery." (2012). Encyclopedia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
2) "slavery." (2012). Encyclopedia Britannica
3) Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments,. Hartford: S.S. Scranton, 1877
4) Arnold, Clinton E. "1 Peter." Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Vol. 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002
5) Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003

Adversus Trinitas

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