The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

VOLUME 2 -- JULY 1998

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The Friends of the Nazarene are a Bible research group for better Scriptural understanding dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid the Father’s Children to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." (Revelation 14:4) We are Apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One" and not three. The Bible is our credo. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15)

IN THIS ISSUE

1. Was Jesus Less Than Elohim?

2. Did God Become Better Than Angels?

3. Announcements

4. The Tent of Yahweh --- Ten Requirements to Live with God

5. Perfecting the Christian Character: Lack of Conceit, Harmlessness

6. The Parousia Follows the Great Tribulation

7. The parousia-Judgment

8. Faith Perspectives: Cyrptic Message

9. The New Testament Canon

WAS JESUS LESS THAN elohim ?

[Article reprinted from De Trinitatis Erroribus at www.nazarene-friends.org ]

Some Trinitarians argue Jesus was God while in the flesh. They reference a dozen texts in the Gospels they believe prove Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. (John 5:18; 8:58; 10:30; 14:9) Therefore, Jesus could never be spoken of as less than God, or lower than God, or inferior to divinity. It seems also true that if Jesus were equal to God, then he could hardly "become better than angels." What does the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, say about this matter of whether Jesus was equal to God or less than God?

Paul quotes Psalm 8:5 at Hebrews 2:6-9 and applies it to Jesus: "[Yahweh] made [the Son of man] a little lower than the angels." It would be hard to understand how Jesus could be God and yet be "lower than the angels." Paul quotes from the Jewish Greek Septuagint.

Was Jesus in the flesh less than elohim? The Hebrew edition of Psalm 8:5 reads: "For You have made him lack a little from God." (IB) "God" here is from the Hebrew elohiym (Strongs #430 = "gods" plural of 433) The word is variously rendered: KJV: angels; AMP: little lower than God; NAS: a little lower than God; NIV: a little lower than the heavenly beings; NJB: little less than a god; NRSV: a little lower than God; JPS: made him little less than divine; BER: little less than heavenly beings; DeW: little less than Divine; NEB: little less than a god; HAR: In comparison with Deity You made him inferior.

That angels were called "gods" is demonstrated by comparing the Hebrew text (which uses elohim) and the Greek text (which uses "angels") in Deuteronomy 32:43 (quoted by Paul at Hebrews 1:6) and Psalm 97:7; 138:1. (Note: Origen quoted Psalm 136:2 and applied it to "the other gods beside (Yahweh)." (Origen, Commentary on John)

No matter which version is used, Jesus (the Son of Man) could not possibly be deity, divine, or God, in his human manifestation, for the Psalmist -- and Paul’s inspired application of it -- make Jesus "less than a god," "lower than God," "less than Divine," or "inferior" than Deity. Or, if one prefers the Greek version, Jesus is less or lower than angels, let alone God or deity in the flesh.

DID JESUS BECOME BETTER THAN THE ANGELS?

It would be impossible to think God was less than the angels He created. And yet Hebrews 2:9 observes: "We behold Jesus, who was made a little lower than angels." (NWT) In Hebrews 1:4 it describes the Son after he "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" --- "Being made so much better than the angels." (KJV) How could the Son, who is equal to God according to the Trinitarian view, become or be made "better than angels"?

This verse is variously rendered: RHM: by so much becoming superior to the messengers; BER: he became as much mightier than the angels; CON: being made so much greater than the Angels; NEB: raised as far above the angels; UPS: having become so much better than the angels.

If Jesus the Son was "equal to God" (John 5:18) as the Jews charged -- and Trinitarians hold -- how could God "become better than the angels"? On the other hand if the celestial being who was the Logos, the only-begotten Son of God, emptied himself of his "equality with God" (Philippians 2:6, 7) and became an anthropoid (a human), it is easy to see how his God could exalt him above the angels.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

ONLINE PUBLICATIONS: www.nazarene-friends.org recent additions to the web page have been: DID JESUS PREDICT THE END OF THE WORLD? a verse by verse consideration of what is called "the little apocalypse" of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 with 200 footnotes. This is a complete new rendering of the three chapters combining them into one so that all the material is covered. NAZARENE PRINCIPLES is available in a newly edited version with each paragraphed numbered for use in Bible discussions and home church meetings. Many hundreds of Bible texts are fully written out for ease in computer search. It is 110 pages with 382 footnotes dealing with basic Bible teachings.

Newly reformatted NAZARENE APOCALYPSE -- A new translation of the Book of Revelation with a verse by verse, word by word commentary of 252 pages and 1,000 footnotes -- will soon be readable on the Internet in a new format. This on-line publication may be down-loaded. The paragraphs are numbered (#233.) for ease in Bible discussions and home church meetings. The Bible texts are fully written out (Daniel 7:13) to improve searching and finding precise verses. Each verse of Revelation is also designed for easy searching. Most verses are compared in several translations. Important Greek words are analyzed.

New format to Messianic Confessions -- the autobiography is now readable chapter by chapter on the web page. Or, a version with all the footnotes. Because of this Messianic Confessions has received much interest from all over the world.

The Nazarene Saints web page now has a "guestbook" should you visit and wish to leave a thought.

WITNESSING TOOLS: Please feel free to make copies of online publications or newsletters as free gifts (or, Forwards) to friends and relatives.

Some of you may be interested in the 49th Annual Berean Christian Conference -- June 27 - July 4, 1998 -- Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania. Conference Theme: IN HIS STEPS. Theme Verse: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1 Peter 2:21

We wish to introduce a new web page -- Free Bible Students -- whose attitude and beliefs come closest to our own. You may locate home church meeting locations around the country or in other places around the world.

THE TENT OF YAHWEH

The Ten Requirements to Live with God

Psalm 15:1-5 New Jerusalem Bible

Yahweh, who can find a home in your tent?

Who can dwell on your holy mountain?

Imagine yourself in an endless desert where a shimmering horizon blends with a burning celestialum. Tawny dunes meet a beige sunburnt heaven. The wind covers your footprints as if you never came this way. You suspect you have been walking in circles. This austere wilderness is so quiet you can hear your exhausted heart beat and hot blood pumping through sweating temples. Your eyes, sun-blind. Your mouth, dry as forsaken earth. The time has come to think about dying quietly at the bottom of mountain-high dunes like endless waves in a cursed sea.

At this moment of complete and desperate loss, the waving tops of date palms appear above a sandy slope. You must use every bit of strength and crawl forward to the crest. Your dead heart leaps and dried eyes strain to remain open. A palm oasis by a cobalt spring! Delightful birds nest in trees and brush. Lush greens and flowers the homes to butterflies. And in the blissful shade . . . a nomadic tent.

Crawling forward you collapse in the heaven-sent shade beside the quiet pond. From the tent emerges an ancient man, older than time itself, with copper skin and white hair. He carefully tends to your needs and brings you back to consciousness. You rest within this nomad’s tent, reclining on Arabic carpets under the protective shade of tightly woven goat’s hair. You feed on milk and dates and your strength returns.

Your host is kindness and charity itself, his voice quiet and caring. ‘How did you become lost?’ he asks. How did I become lost? you wonder, without knowing how to answer. Nor can you answer his questions: ‘Where are you from? Where are you going?’ You do not know for the desert is endless without hope of escaping its brutality.

In that famous hospitality of the Middle East, your ancient host assures you of three days of his care until you move on. ‘Move on where?’ you ask to the ancient’s shrug. ‘I am completely lost and have no where to go,’ you say. The ancient replies warmly, ‘You may always stay here.’ But, before you can accept this kind offer, he continues: ‘You may live here eternally among friends. However, I ask you agree to ten requirements.’ I wonder why there must be such "requirements" but before I can ask, the ancient tells me, ‘To protect those already here under my care. You are not forced to observe these requirements. You are free to leave.’

You ask the ancient, ‘I may remain in your tent forever if I but observe the rules of your tent? You will care for all my needs if I but keep these requirements of yours?’ As the ancient nods, you ask further, ‘What is it you ask of me?’

As the ancient begins to explain you think of all those you knew who lived without rules, thinking they could do just as they pleased. The ancient lists ten requirements to continue to live in his tent under his eternal care. He explains each point simply and patiently.

01 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly

This requires you to observe revealed and natural laws as a law-abiding person who does nothing to harm others.

02 who speaks the truth from the heart

This requires you always speak the truth and never lie so others will know you are an honest and trustworthy person.

03 who keeps the tongue under control

This requires you think before you speak. An uncontrolled tongue is evidence of an egotistical person who does not consider others. The tongue can do great harm to others.

04 who does not wrong a comrade

This requires you treat others as you would be treated. Your conduct toward others always considering their highest good.

05 who cast no discredit on a neighbor

This requires you never speak evilly of your neighbor just as you wish no one speak ill of you.

06 who looks with scorn on the vile

This requires you hate what is evil or vile and abhor anyone who would mistreat a neighbor.

07 but honours those who fear Yahweh

This requires that God become everything to you and you deeply respect your fellow worshippers.

08 who stands by an oath at any cost

This requires that if you promise to do something for a neighbor you keep your word even if it turns out not to be in your best interests. Your Yes must mean Yes.

09 who asks no interest on loans

This requires that if you have business dealings with others, or come to the financial aid of others you, never demand interest on your loan. If you were in need you would be happy if your friend never insists you repay his kindness. By this you show material things are not your first concern.

10 who takes no bribe to harm the innocent.

This requires you never be bought to harm another. There are many kinds of "bribes" including emotional ones, but you must never succumb to agree to hurt the innocent.

When the ancient has finished you ask the benefit of these requirements to yourself. The ancient replies: ‘No one who so acts can ever be shaken.’

The ancient concludes: ‘You see nothing required of you is harmful to your person. These requirements of mine are meant for everyone’s highest good. By observing these you will never destroy the harmony of your associations nor bring ruin to yourself. You will reside in the Tent of Yahweh forever.’ -- END --

PERFECTING THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER:

[From the online publication NAZARENE COMMUNITY available at: www.nazarene-friends.org ]

CHARACTERISTIC #18 -- LACK OF CONCEIT. Romans 12:16c reads in the King James Version: "Be not wise in your own conceits." The phrase is variously rendered: NW: do not become discreet in your own eyes; NASB: do not be wise in your own estimation; TCNT: not think too highly; GDSP: do not be conceited; LB: and don’t think you know it all; PME: don’t become set in your own opinions; WEY: do not be self-opinionated.

The Bible warns about such self-exalted opinions of one’s self. The Book of Proverbs warns: "Do not congratulate yourself on your own wisdom." (Proverbs 3:7 NJB) Where is the person who does not hold an opinion? Where is the person with such an opinion who thinks it wrong? The problem lies not in possessing an opinion, but in always feeling the need to express it as superior to any other. The Christian character is marked by an absence of regular and persistent opinionation. Self-conceit is obvious to everyone and creates a chasm of disharmony across which no one can approach.

Paul has already touched on this subject in verse 3 when he writes of the Transformed Mind: "Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all." (PME) The New English Bible renders 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 in this manner: "Knowledge breeds conceit; it is love that builds. If anyone fancies that he knows, he knows nothing yet, in the true sense of knowing. But if a man loves, he is acknowledged by God."

NAZARENE SAINTS ASK THEMSELVES: Do I express my opinions too often? Often enough that others consider me opinionated? Or, am I viewed as conceited? Can I work hard at keeping my opinions to myself unless I am asked?

CHARACTERISTIC #19 -- HARMLESSNESS. Romans 12:17a reads in the King James Version: "Recompense to no man evil for evil." This is variously rendered: TCNT: never return injury for injury; PME: don’t pay back a bad turn by a bad turn. Paul writes similarly to the Thessalonians: "See that no one renders injury for injury to anyone else." (1 Thessalonians 5:15 NW)

Interestingly it is the man who chopped off another’s ear who writes: "Yet when (Jesus) was insulted he offered no insult in return"; and, "not rendering evil for evil." (1 Peter 2:23 PME; 1 Peter 3:9 KJV) It may be that Peter quoted Paul.

Clearly, any type of revenge -- "I don’t get mad, I get even" -- is out of character with the Nazarene Saint. Such a spitefully, vengeful and retaliatory disposition is not conducive to joint-harmony within a Nazarene community. There is no place for the law of talion -- "like for like" -- in the Christian association. Better to be damaged or injured than retaliate in kind. (1 Corinthians 6:7) Such a character results from meekness and a gentleness toward all.

NAZARENE SAINTS ASK THEMSELVES: Do I find myself reacting in kind when others treat me wrongly or hurtfully? If others speak abusively about me do I return kindness? Am I characterized by others as a confrontational or adversarial person? -- END --

THE PAROUSIA FOLLOWS THE GREAT TRIBULATION!

By using Daniel 7.9-27 we wish to present two affirmations or propositions:

PROPOSITIONS:

THE GREAT TRBULATION IS AGAINST THE SAINTS, NOT THE WORLD

THE PAROUSIA FOLLOWS THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Some will be startled by these suggestions for many believe the Great Tribulation to be against the world itself. They equate the tribulation with the destruction of Babylon the Great and Armageddon. Others believe the Parousia, or the Return of Christ, comes before the tribulation. We would here consider what we feel are the roots to both the Parousia and the Great Tribulation in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel the prophet.

FOUR KINGDOMS FROM 600 BC TO 33 AD. Centuries before Christ, the prophet Daniel experienced several visions which outlined history in advance in a prophecy regarding the march of world powers. We wish to consider these in brief. [For more details see the oline publication Nazarene Apocalypse -- a verse by verse commentary on the Book of Revelation with 1,000 footnotes.]

Daniel 7:1-14 (New World Translation) ---

Daniel 7:1 -- "In the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon, Daniel himself beheld a dream and visions of his head upon his bed. At that time he wrote down the dream itself. The complete account of the matters he told. Daniel 7:2 -- Daniel was speaking up and saying: "I happened to be beholding in my visions during the night, and, see there! the four winds of the heavens were stirring up the vast sea. Daniel 7:3 -- And four huge beasts were coming up out of the sea, each one being different from the others."

BABYLON [Iraq] ---

Daniel 7:4 -- "The first one was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I kept on beholding until its wings were plucked out, and it was lifted up from the earth and was made to stand up on two feet just like a man, and there was given to it the heart of a man."

PERSIA [Iran] --

Daniel 7:5 -- "And, see there! another beast, a second one, it being like a bear. And on one side it was raised up, and there were three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and this is what they were saying to it, 'Get up, eat much flesh.'"

GREECE --

Daniel 7:6 -- "After this I kept on beholding, and, see there! another [beast], one like a leopard, but it had four wings of a flying creature on its back. And the beast had four heads, and there was given to it rulership indeed.

ROME --

Daniel 7:7 -- "After this I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! a fourth beast, fearsome and terrible and unusually strong. And it had teeth of iron, big ones. It was devouring and crushing, and what was left it was treading down with its feet. And it was something different from all the [other] beasts that were prior to it, and it had ten horns."

ANOTHER ROMAN POWER --

Daniel 7:8 -- I kept on considering the (ten) horns, and, look! another (eleventh) horn, a small one, came up in among them, and there were three of the first (ten) horns that were plucked up from before it. And, look! there were eyes like the eyes of a man in this horn, and there was a mouth speaking grandiose things."

THE JUDGMENT ON ROME (33 AD) --

Daniel 7:9 -- "I kept on beholding until there were thrones placed and the Ancient of Days sat down. His clothing was white just like snow, and the hair of his head was like clean wool. His throne was flames of fire; its wheels were a burning fire. Daniel 7:10 -- There was a stream of fire flowing and going out from before him. There were a thousand thousands that kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand that kept standing right before him. The Court took its seat, and there were books that were opened."

THRONE OF JUDGMENT. At some point in the history of the Fourth Kingdom, Rome, something brings about the judgment of an entire world power. The Second Psalm has the key: "Why have the nations been in tumult and the national groups themselves kept muttering an empty thing? The kings of earth take their stand. And high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one, [Saying:] "Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords away from us!" (Psalm 2:1-3 NW) These verses are quoted by Peter within a Christian prayer group in Acts 4:24-28. The "nations" and "kings" are shown to be primarily the Roman representative and his Jewish vassals. It is Rome who is responsible for this attack against the Messiah. This precipitates a time of judgment.

Psalm 2:4, 5, 9-11 indicates what really takes place in the celestial realms: "The very One sitting in the heavens will laugh; Jehovah himself will hold them in derision. At that time he will speak to them [Rome] in his anger and in his hot displeasure he will disturb them, ‘(My king) will break them [Rome] with an iron scepter, as though a potter's vessel you will dash them [Rome] to pieces.’ And now, O kings, exercise insight; let yourselves be corrected, O judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear and be joyful with trembling. Kiss the Son, that He may not become incensed and you may not perish [from] the way, for his anger flares up easily. Happy are all those taking refuge in him." (NW) This may well correspond with Daniel 7:9, 10 and the judgment of Rome.

Paul quotes Psalm 2:7 before a synagogue and applies the verse to the resurrection and ascension of Christ to heaven: [Saying:] "I, even I, have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain." Let me refer to the decree of Jehovah; he has said to me: "You are my son; I, today, I have become your father." (Psalms 2:6, 7 NW) Paul’s application would also interpret the Psalm to have been fulfilled in the year 33 A. D. In other words, Paul’s inspired explanation corresponds to that of Daniel: Messiah is to begin his rule during this period of the Fourth Kingdom’s [Rome] existence and thereafter this beast is judged and finally slain.

In the year 33 A. D. Rome was still rising in its world domination. By the spring of the year 73 Rome would smash the last resistance of Jewish zealots at Masada. This would begin a Pax Romana to last 200 years. After this period of peace, because of the iron rule of Rome, the barbarians would be at the gates and the slow fragmentation would begin to evolve over the next five centuries.

A PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT. Daniel explains what has held his interest in the previous prophetic flow of history. Daniel 7:11a may not be a precisely chronological event but rather one of the major points of interest in what had been foretold previously. [11a, "I kept on beholding at that time because of the sound of the grandiose words that the horn was speaking."]

ROME "KILLED" ---

Daniel 7:11b -- "I kept on beholding until the beast was killed and its body was destroyed and it was given to the burning fire." This process regarding Rome would historically cover almost eight centuries until the Pope crowned Charlemagne.

THE ‘LENGTHENING OF LIFE’ OF BABYLON, PERSIA, GREECE ---

Daniel 7:12 -- "But as for the rest of the beasts, their [world] rulerships were taken away, and there was a lengthening in life given to them for a time and a season." In contrast to Rome the other three former world powers were not to be destroyed and assigned to historical fires. Babylon (later Iraq), Persia (later Iran), and Greece were to have "a lengthening in life" right down to the present time, while Rome is no longer a political power.

THE ASCENSION OF A HUMAN BEING TO GOD’S PRESENCE -- Still in the context of this period of judgment on Rome in the First Century, the following dramatic scene unfolds. It is a unique and monumental event: someone resembling a human being ascends to heaven to receive celestial sovereignty. Nothing like this had ever occurred in the prophetic histories of the previous world powers. Remember, Daniel is in a heavenly perspective when he see what follows. (Daniel 7:10, 15) Consider what Daniel saw from his celestial position: "I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming [Greek: Alexandrian: ercheto; Theodotion: erchomenos = arriving]; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access [Greek: paren = present, presence], and (the angels) brought him up close even before that One. And to [the Son of Man] there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin." (Daniel 7:13, 14 NW)

Jesus the Nazarene was to make several allusions to Daniel 7:13, generally in connection with Psalm 110:1. Consider some of these. John 6:62 --- "What, therefore, if you should behold the Son of Man ascending [Daniel 7:13] to where he was before?" (NW) Is it fair to conclude that here Jesus alludes to that vision Daniel saw: " ... someone like a son of man (a human being) was coming"? Often the problem has been this word "coming" for it seems to mean to some to come in their direction. The words in both the Aramaic of Daniel (attah) and the Greek of the Jewish translations (ALEX: ercheto, THEO: erchomenos) may mean come or go, return or come back or an arrival. Since the context of Daniel 7:13, 14 has this "Son of Man" coming to the heavenly Ancient of Days, or Most High, this has to be an arriving into the Presence of God; that is, an ascension and not a descension. (Ephesians 4:10; Hebrews 4:14) In other words Daniel sees this "quasi hominis" (Jerome’s Vulgate) coming toward him as he watches from his celestial prophetic perch along with the multitude of angels. (Daniel 7:10, 16)

The Nazarene told his disciples they would not finish their preaching activity before the Son of Man arrived in heaven to become king: "Truly I say to you, you will by no means complete the circuit of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives [Daniel 7:13]." (Matthew 10:23 NW)

Again, on another occasion, the Nazarene assures some of his disciples would still be alive when the Son of Man comes into his Kingdom power: "Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming [Daniel 7:13] in his kingdom." (Matthew 16:28 NW)

Finally, Jesus even tells those high priests condemning him will live to see the fulfillment of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1: "So the high priest said to him: "By the living God I put you under oath to tell us whether you are the Christ [Psalms 2:1] the Son of God [Psalms 2:7]!" Jesus said to him: "You yourself said [it]. Yet I say to you men, From henceforth you will see the Son of man [Daniel 7:13] sitting at the right hand of power [Psalms 110:1] and coming on the clouds of heaven [Daniel 7:13]." (Matthew 26:63, 64) Here the word "coming" (erchomenon) is the same as that of Daniel 7:13. It would mean "arriving" before the Presence of the Most High, not "coming" to the earth. (Compare Acts 1:9-11)

That these priests actually lived long enough to become aware of the fulfillment of Jesus’ words note who was present when Stephen had his near-death vision. These priests heard Stephen say: "Look! I behold the heavens opened up and the Son of man [Daniel 7:13] standing at God's right hand [Psalm 110:1]." (Acts 7:54-56 NW) Note from Acts 4:5, 6; 5:21, 27; 6:15; 7:1 who were present at this moment.

MORE INFORMATION ON THE FOURTH BEAST --

Now Daniel is in considerable anguish and he approaches the celestials for more information on this subject, but now keying in on the fourth beast and the Little Horn. "As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within on account of it, and the very visions of my head began to frighten me. I went up close to one of those (angels) who were standing, that I might request from him reliable information on all this. And he said to me, as he went on to make known to me the very interpretation of the matters, As for these huge beasts, because they are four, there are four kings that will stand up from the earth. ... This is what he said, 'As for the fourth beast, there is a fourth kingdom that will come to be on the earth, that will be different from all the [other] kingdoms; and it will devour all the earth and will trample it down and crush it." (Daniel 7:15-17, 23 NW) We have added verse 23 here as it is additional information learned a bit later.

From Daniel’s historical perspective there are to be only four more kingdoms to come upon earth, though the fourth one goes through a long evolving political process. Ultimately, the Kingdom will become the possession of the Saints of the Most High. (Matthew 5:3; Luke 12:32; 1 Corinthians 15:50) How this happens is developed below. Daniel 7:18 "But the Saints of the Supreme One will receive the kingdom , and they will take possession of the kingdom for time indefinite, even for time indefinite upon times indefinite." (NW)

ROME FRAGMENTED --

Daniel 7:7 -- "After this I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! a fourth beast, fearsome and terrible and unusually strong. And it had teeth of iron, big ones. It was devouring and crushing, and what was left it was treading down with its feet. And it was something different from all the [other three] beasts that were prior to it, and it had ten horns. Daniel 7:8 -- I kept on considering the (ten) horns, and, look! another horn, a small one, came up in among them, and there were three of the first (ten) horns that were plucked up from before it. And, look! there were eyes like the eyes of a man in this horn, and there was a mouth speaking [Revelation 13:5, 6] grandiose things. ... Daniel 7:20 -- ... and concerning the ten horns that were on its (Roman) head."

Rome fragments first into East and West and then, because of the northern barbarians, decays into the former provinces which finally became the Papal States of Europe. This covered a period of over six centuries.

LITTLE HORN --

Daniel 7:8 -- "I kept on considering the (ten) horns, and, look! another horn, a small one, came up in among them, and there were three of the first (ten) horns that were plucked up from before it. And, look! there were eyes like the eyes of a man in this horn, and there was a mouth speaking grandiose things [Revelation 13:5, 6]. ... Daniel 7:20 -- and the other [horn] that came up and before which three fell, even that horn that had eyes and a mouth speaking grandiose things [Revelation 13:5, 6] and the appearance of which was bigger than that of its (ten) fellows."

Evolving out of the political upheaval and fragmentation of Rome into the Papal States of Europe, another power is to appear on the scene: an eleventh horn, a Little Horn, or Small Power. This political entity could not make its appearance until after the ten horns developed. Many have been the attempts to associate this Little Horn with various Popes, Muslim Crusaders, Kings and Emperors of Europe including Napoleon, as well as the British Empire.

The British Empire has been viewed by some Bible students as the eleventh horn which "plucked up" or "fell" the European powers of the Netherlands, Spain and France. Others would move this horn even further forward into history. Not England, one of the former Roman provinces) but the English colonies of America. Colonial America was obviously a small power, which "plucked up" or "fell" the three powers that had divided up America: the British to the East, the French in the middle, and Spain in the west.

This Little Horn, or Small Power, is identified with the wild Sea Beast’s seventh head in Revelation chapters thirteen and seventeen. (Revelation 13:5-7; Daniel 7:21-25) In Revelation the wild Sea Beast (or, the Little Horn of Daniel) is characterized by: a) a military power with whom none can battle; b) global economic control; c) global communication; and, d) fire from the skies. (Revelation chapter 13) If this be true, and should America be the Little Horn, it is from this source that a great persecution breaks out. In Revelation the Seventh Head is to be slain and then revived into an Eighth Power. It is likely the Little Horn is this Eighth Power. If this be the case America is to be "slain" and then revived in a new and ugly form which then attacks the Saints.

These points have been discussed without being dogmatic purely to demonstrate a considerable time must pass between the King’s enthronement in 33 A. D. and his Parousia or Return. That Jesus taught his own disciples would not experience the Parousia in their life time’s is shown in Luke 17:22: "Then (Jesus) said to the disciples: ‘Days will come when you (disciples) will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man [the Parousia] but you (disciples) will not see [it].’" (NW)

Shortly after this the question on whether the Kingdom would be revealed right away was answered by the Nazarene. We provide this answer, including a line from a similar parable in Matthew: "While they were listening to these things he spoke in addition an illustration, because he was near Jerusalem and they were imagining that the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly. Therefore he said: ‘A certain man of noble birth traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and [after a long time] [Matthew 25:19 NW] to return.’" (Luke 19:11, 12 NW) This would prove Jesus ascends to heaven and becomes King, then "after a long time," returns to judge his household. (Matthew 24:45-25:46) How long this "long time" would be is indicated in this prophecy of Daniel chapters 2 and 7 and to some extent in Revelation chapter 17. But, what would happen just before the "return" of the King in his foretold Parousia?

A GREAT OPPRESSION --

Daniel 7:21 -- "I kept on beholding when that very horn made war upon the Saints [Revelation 13:5, 7], and it was prevailing against them [Revelation 11:7]. ... Daniel 7:25 -- And the Little Horn will speak even words against the Most High [Revelation 13:5, 6], and he will harass [Aramaic: oppress] continually the Saints themselves of the Supreme One. And he will intend to change times and law, and they will be given into his hand for a time, and times and half a time [Daniel 12:7; Revelation 11:2; 12:6, 14; 13:5]." The Aramaic word here rendered "harass" is also understood to mean "oppress." Both Daniel and the Nazarene go on to foretell a "great oppression" -- not a tribulation against the world, like an Armageddon -- but against the Saints of the Most High. In both these cases it seems fair to conclude the oppression comes before the Parousia.

Consider first Daniel 11:44-12:1: "But there will be reports that will disturb [the King of the North], out of the sunrising and out of the north, and he will certainly go forth in a great rage in order to annihilate and to devote many to destruction. And he will plant his palatial tents between [the] grand [Mediterranean] sea and the holy mountain of Decoration [Jerusalem]; and he will have to come all the way to his end, and there will be no helper for him. And during that time Michael [1 Thessalonian 4:16; Revelation 12:7] will stand up [JPS: appear], the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress [LXX: oppression] such as has not been made to occur since [Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19; Revelation 7:14] there came to be a nation [JPS: nation of the Israel] until that time. And during that time your people will escape [rescued, delivered], every one who is found written down in the book." No doubt this also has an application to the Roman attack on Jerusalem in the years 66-70 AD. However, our interest here is in the sequence of events involving something similar yet in our future.

Note the "oppression" comes first, beginning in verse 40, and at its height "Michael stands up." The Hebrew for "stand up" may also be rendered "appear" as the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh has it. This word would parallel the Greek Parousia found later in Matthew chapter 24. Thus, the sequence is: the oppression then the Parousia.

The Nazarene predicts this same scenario in Matthew 24:21, 22, 29, 30: "For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world's beginning until now, no, nor will occur again [Daniel 12:1]. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short. ... Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken [Isaiah 13:10, 13]. And then the sign [Isaiah 11:12] of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (NW) The Nazarene also has the Parousia after the Great Oppression.

Paul makes a similar connection: "This takes into account that it is righteous on God's part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you, but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, at the time he comes to be glorified in connection with his Saints and to be regarded in that day with wonder in connection with all those who exercised faith, because the witness we gave met with faith among you." (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 NW)

THE PAROUSIA OF THE KING --

Daniel 7:22 -- " ... until the Ancient of Days came [Aramaic: attah Greek: elthen = become present] and judgment itself was given in favor [Revelation 20:4] of the Saints of the Supreme One, and the definite time arrived that the Saints took possession of the kingdom itself [1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52]. Daniel 7:27 -- "'And the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens were given to the people who are the Saints of the Supreme One. Their kingdom is an indefinitely lasting kingdom, and all the rulerships will serve and obey even them." The word "came" here is the same "coming" at verse 13. Both are the Aramaic attah which may mean coming, arrival, presence.

Here in verse 22 it is the Ancient of Days who arrives to rescue the Saints. Likely, this is in the representation of the Son of Man. Note in Revelation 1:7, 8, 12-16 similar imagery is applied to the Son of Man: "Look! He [the Son of Man] is coming with the clouds [Daniel 7:13], and every eye will see him [Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:11], and those who pierced him [Zechariah 12:10]; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him [Matthew 24:30]. Yes, Amen. "I am the Al'pha and the Ome'ga," says Jehovah God, "the One who is and who was and who is coming [Greek: erchomenos], the Almighty." ... And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me, and, having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands someone like a son of man [Daniel 7:13], clothed with a garment that reached down to the feet, and girded at the breasts with a golden girdle. Moreover, his head and his hair were white as white wool, as snow [Daniel 7:9, 10], and his eyes as a fiery flame; and his feet were like fine copper when glowing in a furnace; and his voice was as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth a sharp, long two-edged sword was protruding, and his countenance was as the sun when it shines in its power [Matthew 13:43; 17:2]. And when I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet." (NW)

These verses show two persons "coming" --- God Almighty (the Ancient of Days; the Most High) and the Son of Man. The Son is the image of the Father (Colossians 1:15, 16) and is His Logos or Spokesman, thus he resembles his own Father.

When Daniel 7:22 says the Ancient of Days "came" in the Jewish Greek Bible this is elthen. This is the same word group (erchomenon, elthe, erchetai) used in the Christian Bible to refer to the Parousia. (Matthew 24:30, 42, 43, 44, 46, 48; 25:13, 19, 27, 31; Mark 13:26, 35, 36; Luke 11:2; 12:36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 45; 17:20, 22; 21:27;1 Corinthians 4:5; 11:26; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 1:7, 8) The word erchomai may also mean "appear." (Compare JPS Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:30)

These words from the Gospels, Paul, and John -- ercheto, erchomenos, elthein, elthen -- all appear in the Jewish Greek Septuagint in both the Alexandrine and Theodotion manuscripts. Thus, the evidence, all things considered, point to the Parousia following the Great Oppression.

The Book of Revelation also gives this chronology: the great oppression followed by the Parousia.

Revelation chapter 11:1-3, 7, 11, 12 -- "Get up and measure the temple [sanctuary] of God and the altar and those worshipping in it. But as for the courtyard that is outside the temple [sanctuary], cast it clear out and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations, [The Great Oppression =] and they will trample the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth." ... And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. ... And after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: "Come on up here." [The Rapture =] And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. [The Parousia =] And the seventh angel blew his trumpet. And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: "The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever." (NW)

Revelation 12:7-9, 12-14 --- [pre-tribulation =] "And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. ... On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time. [three and a half years]

[The Great Oppression = ] "Now when the dragon saw that it was hurled down to the earth, it persecuted the woman that gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a time and times and half a time away from the face of the serpent. And the serpent disgorged water like a river from its mouth after the woman, to cause her to be drowned by the river. But the earth came to the woman's help, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river that the dragon disgorged from its mouth. And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war [Daniel 7:21] with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.

[The Parousia = ] "And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death.’" (NW)

Revelation 13:3-7, 10; 14.1 --- [The Great Oppression = ] "And I saw one of its heads as though slaughtered to death, but its death-stroke got healed, and all the earth followed the wild beast with admiration. And they worshipped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshipped the wild beast with the words: "Who is like the wild beast, and who can do battle with it?" And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given it, and authority to act forty-two months [Daniel 7:25] was given it. And it opened its mouth [Daniel 7:25] in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven. And there was granted it to wage war with the Saints [Daniel 7:21] and conquer them, and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. ... Here is where it means the endurance and faith of the Saints. ... [The Parousia = ] And I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads." (NW)

WHAT, THEN, FOLLOWS THE GREAT OPPRESSION AND PAROUSIA?

ARMAGEDDON --

Daniel 7:26 -- "And the Court itself proceeded to sit, and [the Little Horn’s] own rulership they finally took away, in order to annihilate [him] and to destroy [him] totally." (NW; see also Daniel 11:44) Like Rome before it, the Little Horn, or the wild Sea Beast, is completely destroyed in that battle often called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21)

THOUSAND YEARS

With the earth cleared of these Satanic forces, it is time for the Messiah and his Kingdom of the Saints of the Most High to hold sway over all the earth: Daniel 7:27 -- "And the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens [earthwide; global] were given to the people who are the Saints of the Supreme One. Their kingdom is an indefinitely lasting kingdom, and all the rulerships will serve and obey even them." Revelation 20:4, 6 describes this same event: "And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. [Daniel 7:22] Yes, I saw the souls of those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years. ... This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years." (NW)

SUMMARY. We feel strongly that the Parousia (Presence) follows the Great Tribulation (Great Oppression). This oppression is a global attack against the Saints and will last three and a half years. Near the end of this period the outlook looks bleak indeed for the Saints. However, at the height of the danger the Lord, Jesus the Nazarene, returns in glory. The dead Saints of the ages are resurrected and the living Saints raptured, or caught away, delivered and rescued into the Presence of their Lord. With such a hope in view what can keep us from crying out: "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20) -- END --

The parousia-Judgment

INTRODUCTION

The idea of appearing in a court of law makes most people nervous, even if they are innocent. The thought of appearing before the Divine Court of God is cause for serious thought. Does the Creator have a right to inspect his own creation? Will the "Judge of all the Earth" have a reckoning with all mankind? How will this Judgment Day take place? Who will be judged? On what basis will each individual be held to an accounting with God?

A JUDGMENT DAY FOR ALL MANKIND

A JUDGMENT ACCORDING TO THE HEBREW BIBLE. The very first reference of God the Creator as a Judge occurs early in the Bible. The first use of the word "judge" with regard to God is used by a woman, the wife of Abraham. (Genesis 16:5) It is Sarah’s husband, Abraham who uses this designation for God Almighty Yahweh in Genesis 18:25 when the old man asks, "Is the judge of the whole world not to act justly?" (NJB) This question indicates that "the whole world" or "all the earth" will one day face a divine judgment from a Source perfectly capable of seeing into the hearts and minds of every human being.

This idea of a personal judgment by God is expressed by many faithful worshippers of old. David and other psalmists actually ask God to judge them. (Psalm 7:8, 11; 26:1; 43:1) The same psalmists declare there is a future judgment of all the earth. Consider Psalm 67:4, "Let the nations rejoice and sing for joy, for you (Yahweh) judge the world with justice, you judge the peoples with fairness, you guide the nations on earth." (NJB) We note God’s judgment is not necessarily something to fear, for here in this hymn the thought of His judging matters brings forth joy.

Psalm 86 is titled, "Against the judges of the nations," by the New Jerusalem Bible. This is a psalm that the Nazarene himself quotes to the Jews who judged him. (John 10:30-36) The final verse (Psalm 82:8) sings, "Arise, God, judge the world, for all nations belong to you." Here God’s authority to judge is declared because He is the Creator and has a right to examine his own creatures and how they have behaved personally or nationally.

In the Psalms it appears the oppressed may expect God’s judgment in favor of them and against the oppressors. (Psalm 68:5; Psalm 72:4) Conversely, the proud rightly tremble at the words, "Arise (Yahweh), judge the world, give back the proud what they deserve." (Psalm 94:2)

The Jewish Prophets foretold that God’s own appointee, Messiah, would judge mankind in righteousness, that is, in fairness and according to what is just. Note Isaiah 11:1-4, "A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse. ... On (Messiah) will rest the spirit of Yahweh. ... (Messiah’s) judgment will not be by appearance, his verdict not given on hearsay. He will judge the weak with integrity and give fair sentence for the humblest in the land." (NJB) When Yahweh judges He also instructs so earth’s inhabitants will learn as Isaiah 26:9 comfortingly foretells: "For when your judgments appear on earth the inhabitants of the world learn what saving justice is." Thus, God’s Judgment Day will be a lesson to all.

A JUDGMENT DAY ACCORDING TO THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE. Written by inspired Jews (Romans 3:1), the Christian Bible also designates God as Judge of the whole world. (Romans 3:6) However, the Christian Bible indicates other judges will be involved in this. First, God’s own Son will have judgment committed to him as his Father’s own appointee. (John 5:27, 30) This is extremely honest and fair on God’s part to let someone who actually walked the earth as a human being be the primary judge. For having endure so much hardship and oppression, he is in the best position to know what it means to be an inhabitant of this earth. (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews 5:7, 8) So, like the Jewish Prophets, Messiah is to be the judge of all mankind.

ASSOCIATES JUDGES. However, Messiah is not alone in this judging. He is to be joined by a tried and tested body of associates, the Saints of the Most High. These were faithful footstep followers of the Nazarene when they lived on earth. Daniel the prophet foretells such a select group of judges: "(The Most High) gave judgment to the Saints. ... And the kingdom and the power ... under the whole heaven were given to the Saints of the Most High." (Daniel 7:22 LXX; see also footnote n. of the NJB)

The Nazarene himself teaches his own disciples will share in this judging. At Matthew 19:28 it is written: "Amen, I tell you (disciples), my followers, in the New Genesis, when the Son of Man sits down on his glorious [judgment] throne, you will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Greek palin-genesia, compare RSV: new world; KNX: new birth; MON: New Creation; WMS: new order of life; BER: new age)

Paul also makes it clear that the Saints will be judges along with the Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:2 he writes, " ... the Saints will judge the world." This seems most fitting as the judges will be peers of the human race: men and women who endured life as Christians, often under much oppression. Indeed, it ought to be comforting to all those women who have ever lived that women will be among these judges -- women who endured loyaly in their earthly walk as females. (Galatians 3:28)

The Bible’s last book, Revelation, also indicates these faithful Christians will serve as judges during the Thousand Year reign of Messiah. Revelation 20:4, "And I saw thrones and those who sat on them, and judgment was given to them." Apparently John makes a connection here with Daniel 7:22 for he uses the same Greek phrase as found in the Jewish Greek Septuagint of that verse.

A JUDGMENT DAY. That all mankind must face a future judgment following their life on this planet is taught by the Nazarene as well as Paul. Jesus puts it very straight when he teaches, "I tell you that every unprofitable thing [or, "thoughtless word" NEB] men speak they will give an account for on Judgment Day. For by your words you will be declared Guilty or Not Guilty." (Matthew 12:36, 37) Jesus uses this phrase "Judgment Day" or "The Judgment" several times. (Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:41, 22, 36; 23:33; compare also Luke 10:14, 31, 32)

In the Gospel of John the Nazarene makes it clear he did not come to judge the world in his first presence (or, parousia). However, there would be a future judgment in what Jesus calls "the Last Day." (John 3:17; 5:29; 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:47, 48) Jesus associates this Last Day of judgment with the "resurrection."

Paul also parallels judgment day with the resurrection. He tells some Greek judges, "(The God) has set a day in which He will righteously judge the earth’s inhabitants by a man He has chosen. By resurrecting this Man from the dead all may trust (God)." (Acts 17:31) In his letter to the Romans, Paul echoes the Nazarene regarding judgment day: "Do you think you will escape God’s judgment? ... You are storing up for yourselves wrath on the Day of Wrath at the revelation of the righteous judgment of The God. (He) will pay back to each person according to their own works. ... This will be in the Day when The God, by means of Christ Jesus, judges the secret things of all mankind." (Romans 2:5, 6, 16) And again, he writes: "Why do you judge your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of The God. ... Therefore, in reality, each person will give his own statement about himself to The God." (Romans 14:10, 12)

WHEN DOES THIS JUDGMENT OCCUR? Paul assures us, "It is the lot of men to die once and afterwards to be judged." (Hebrews 9:27 NEB, WEY) However, in a general sense, when does this judgment take place? The only Bible book to clarify this particular question is Revelation 20:5, 12: "The rest of the dead did not come to life [in a resurrection] until the end of the Thousand Years. ... And I beheld the dead -- the great and the small -- standing in view of the (white) throne [of Messiah] and small books were opened ... and the dead were judged by those things written in the small books according to each ones works." (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:24) Therefore, all mankind, other than those described in Revelation 20:4 as the judges, are resurrected at the end of the Thousand Years. Then billions of former inhabitants of the earth will be judged according to the record of their works kept in the divine logs. (Compare the same language in Daniel 7:10 and Romans 2:6.)

From the above is it fair to conclude that all mankind will receive a judgment based on their life on earth? Does not the Bible teach God has appointed His own Son, as well as Christian Saints, as the judges on this Judgment Day? However, what about the Saints themselves? When and on what basis are they judged?

THE parousia-JUDGMENT ON THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD

There is a special resurrection and judgment which does not include mankind in general. Who are resurrected first? Who are judged first? On what basis are they judged? When does this occur with what outcome?

We have already seen that the prophet Daniel foretold a special body of people called the Saints of the Most High who would become judges. Jesus and Paul taught the same. (Daniel 7:22, 28; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 6:2) We have also seen how this group of Christian Saints will be judges -- as well as kings and priests -- with the Messiah for a Thousand Years. They are raised before all others in what Revelation 20:6 calls "the first resurrection."

JUDGMENT ON THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD. That the "household of God" would be judged first is shown by Peter when he writes: "The appointed time of the judgment starts with the House of The God. ... (Judgment) starts first with us (chosen ones)." (1 Peter 4:17; 1:1) Paul indicates something similar in Hebrews 11:39, 40)

This subject of the judgment at the household is one the Nazarene takes up in a number of his parables. These parables deal with the lord of a household who leaves on a long journey to receive kingship and then after a long time to return. (Matthew 25:19; Luke 19:12) This royal return is also called the parousia, a Greek word used often of the royal visit of an important person. (See The Expanded Vine’s, page 200, 3. PAROUSIA) The word parousia is used by the translator of Jesus’ words only three times in Matthew 24:27, 37, 39. The parousia is associated with Arrival of the Son of Man to gather his chosen ones. (Matthew 24:28, 31, 40-42)

Following the use of the word parousia in the Gospel of Matthew four parables follow: the faithful and discreet slave (Matthew 24:45-51; compare also Luke 12:35-48), the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the Lord of the household judges accounts (Matthew 25:14-30), and, finally, the parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) All these parables seem to deal with those Jesus called "the chosen ones." That is, those who are the "Saints of the Most High." We note in Matthew 25:31 when the Son of Man (the same as the lord of the house or the bridegroom) comes to his throne of judgment only the angels are in attendance. It seems fair that if the Saints were already in heaven, and as they are to be judges of the world, the Son of Man would come with his Saints. This omission seems to indicate this judgment on the sheep and goats is upon the Household slaves in the other parables.

Since these parables have a strong bearing on the future judgment of all Christians, we suggest we take a careful reading of them most seriously. It is well worth our time to meditate at length on this parousia-judgment. Consider, for example, the parable of the faithful stewards at Luke 12:35-48. The Master (the Lord Jesus) of the Household returns (the parousia) from a journey to judge his own stewards. The Lord has entrusted the care of the Household to these slaves and gave them orders to remain on the watch for his unexpected arrival.

In this parable there are four types of "slaves" or "stewards." The first is "the faithful steward" who lovingly cared for the material needs of fellow household members. This type of slave is rewarded appointment over all the Lord’s belongings. (Luke 12:41-44; Daniel 7:28)

The second type is the one who believes his Master has "delayed his coming." As a consequence of this doubt this slave evidently begins to care only for himself in gluttony and drunkenness, indicating a materialistic life-style. In addition, this slave also begins to smite his fellows. This second type of slave is severely punished upon that unexpected Arrival (parousia) of the Lord and assigned a portion with the unfaithful. (Luke 12:45, 46)

The third type of slave is one who understood what the Lord wanted but did not prepare or line-up with the Lord’s will. This slave is not assigned a part with the unfaithful. Rather, he is severely disciplined and flayed with many stripes. (Luke 12:46)

There is a fourth and final type of slave. This slave did not know or understand the Lord’s instructions and consequently did things deserving of a few strokes. (Luke 12:48)

The Nazarene’s moral to the parable is, "Everyone who is given much, much is demanded; and the person put in charge of much, more will be asked of them." (Luke 12:48) Thus, within the Household of Faith there are degrees of understanding and responsibility. (James 3:1-3)

Therefore, upon the resurrection of all Christians there will be an accounting with two primary outcomes. The Nazarene makes this clear when he alludes to Daniel 12:2 in John 5:28, 29, "The hour comes when all those in memorial tombs will hear the voice of (the Son) and come out --- those who did good things to a resurrection of life; those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment (condemnation)." In this later phrase the Nazarene gives an interpretative paraphrase to Daniel 12:2’s "awake ... to reproach and everlasting shame." (LXX)

Both Paul and John echo this same wording of the Nazarene and Daniel. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For it is a necessity that all of us (Saints) must appear in front of the judgment-seat of the Christ so that everyone may be repaid for that performance done (while in) the body -- whether good or vile." Paul borrows the same words of the Nazarene regarding two outcomes to the Christian resurrection. The beloved apostle John does the same by associating these two outcomes of the resurrection at the parousia. He writes in 1 John 2:28 (and 4:17), "And now, little children, remain in (the Son) so that when he becomes visible we might speak freely (in the day of judgment) and not be shamed from him in his Presence (parousia)." (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:23) John shows two outcomes to this parousia resurrection and judgment: freedom to speak because of a clear conscience, and, shame. This later word is the same one used in Daniel 12:2 (LXX).

Judging from the Nazarene, Paul, and John we see the truth: the Christian, or "first resurrection," occurs upon the Arrival or parousia of Christ. This is followed by the parousia-judgment where all ages of the Church stand before the throne of Christ. The outcome will depend on words and actions performed during our life-time with the result some will be able to hold their heads high and speak freely about the good they have done. While others will be shamed and suffer "everlasting reproach" for having been habitual practicers of what is vile. (Daniel 12:2 LXX)

With this outcome in mind we Christians must be very interested in what "good things" are. What is the basis for judgment upon the Household of Faith at the parousia of Christ? How can we be assured of not being "shamed away in his Presence"? (1 John 2:28)

THE BASIS FOR JUDGMENT

Considering the teachings of the Nazarene there are primarily three areas which out to grasp our attention. These three will be the basis for judgment:

That there is some "basis for judgment" the Nazarene taught. His words are found in the context of that most famous of all verses, John 3:16: "Now this is the basis of the judgment that the Light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the Light because their works were wicked. For everyone who practices vile things hates the Light, refusing to approach the Light so that his works might be reproved. But the one who is truthful approaches the Light so that his works are manifest as working in union with God." (John 3:19-21) According to the Nazarene the basis for judgment are works, whether vile or in harmony with God. From the above verse in John 3:16-21 two things are required: faith and works. What kind of works?

1. LOVE OF OTHERS. Consider the parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) This is the parousia-judgment at the Return of Christ to begin judging his own Household which has been scattered into all nations. (Isaiah 11:12; Matthew 24:31; James 1:1; Revelation 7:9) Both the sheep and the goats recognize the King as their Lord. (Matthew 25:37, 44; compare also Matthew 7:21) Note on what basis the sheep are recognized as the "righteous" who will "inherit the kingdom." (1 Corinthians 15:50; Daniel 7:28)

The "sheep" took positive action in their loving charity toward even the humblest of Christ’s brothers. (Hebrews 2:10-12) The judging King tells the "sheep" what actions they took as if it were done to him: "Amen, I tell you: according to how much you did to one of the least ones of my brothers, you did to me." The King lists six things done by the "sheep" ---

a) Feed the hungry (Isaiah 58:7; Ezekiel 18:16)

b) Give drink to the thirsty (Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41)

c) Hospitality to a stranger (Job 31:32; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 5)

d) Clothing the ill-clad (Ezekiel 18:7; James 2:15)

e) Look after the sick (Acts 5:15, 16; 9:37; Philippians 2:26, 27; 2 Timothy 4:20)

f) Visit imprisoned brethren (2 Timothy 1:16)

These positive actions echo the teachings of the Nazarene as well as his inspired disciples. For the Lord teaches that there is "credit" in charitable actions toward one’s enemies. Luke 6:31-36 has Jesus teaching: "Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them. And if you love those loving you, of what credit is it to you? For even the sinners love those loving them. And if you do good to those doing good to you, really of what credit is it to you? Even the sinners do the same. Also, if you lend [without interest] to those from whom you hope to receive, of what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend [without interest] to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend [without interest], not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue (charitable giving), just as your Father (charitably gives to you)." (NWT)

James, the disciple of the Nazarene, wrote in a similar vein: "The form of reverence that is clean and undefiled from God the Father’s own viewpoint is to care for orphans and widows in their tribulation." (James 1:27) Thus any "religion" which lacks this feature of worship is not acceptable to God. Additionally, James writes that any faith lacking true charity is really dead: "If ever a brother or sister is ill-clad, lacking daily nourishment, but someone from among you says to them, ‘Go in peace. Keep warm and nourished.’-- but does not give them bodily necessities, of what benefit is it?" And thus, the faith, if it lacks works, is itself dead." (James 2:15-17)

Beloved John echoes his Lord when he writes: "But whoever has the worldly means of living and beholds his brother in need, and yet shuts up his own compassions, how does the love of the God remain in (such a person)? Little children, love not only in word and speech but also in work and truth." (1 John 3:17, 18) Thus, a Christian claiming to be a righteous "sheep" -- though his words may speak love -- and refrains from helping his needy brethren no longer remains within the confines of God’s love. Paul says the same when he appeals to the Corinthians: "If I have faith to move mountains but lack love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2)

Therefore, when before the Judgment-Seat of the Christ the first thing the King will be looking for is that "good" we have performed for the material well-being of the needy. No amount of faith will compensate for the sin of omission. We note the "goats" of Jesus’ parable are so, not for evil deeds, but for failure to be charitable and caring to needy Saints. (Matthew 25:41-46) And so, Paul commends those who did not ignore the poverty of others: "For you sympathized those in prison and with joy you plundered your own belongings knowing you a better and abiding property. ... Do not forget benevolence and sharing, for the God is well pleased with such sacrifices." (Hebrews 10:34; 13:16)

There is something else the Messianic Judge will look for in the record of your love for others. How did you use your tongue? When accused of being an apostate and being demon-possessed, Jesus gives this most serious warning: "I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy of the Pneuma [spirit] will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man it will be forgiven; but anyone who speaks against the holy Pneuma [spirit] it will not be forgiven -- not in this present Age, nor in the coming New Age. ... For out of the heart’s abundance the mouth speaks. The good person sends forth good out of a good treasure; and the wicked person out of a wicked heart sends forth wickedness. But, I tell you, everyone will render an account on Judgment Day for every thoughtless word. For by your words you will be declared ‘Not Guilty’ and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:31, 32, 34-36; compare Mark 3:23-30 and Luke 11:17-23)

In his Mountain Teachings the Nazarene gives a similar caution about the far-reaching affects of the tongue. Matthew 5:22 reports Jesus warning: "Whoever says (to his brother), ‘Senseless apostate!’ is accountable to the fire of Gehenna." [For details on the Sermon on the Mount see the online publication NAZARENE MOUNTAIN TEACHINGS.]

So, from the words of the Nazarene and his inspired disciples we know how serious it is that love characterize our dealings with others. It will have an everlasting affect on our judgment at the Parousia.

2. FAITH IN THE PAROUSIA. The second vital characteristic the King will be looking for is faith or deep conviction manifest in speech, attitude and works. Often in the Nazarene’s speech he use the word "faith" in the same breath with resurrection and judgment. (John 3:16-18, 36; 6:29, 35, 40; 11:25, 26)

Remember how the "wicked slave" was described by the Nazarene: "But if that (evil) slave says in his heart, ‘My Lord is taking his time in coming’ ... then (that evil slave) will be assigned his part with the unfaithful." (Luke 12:45, 46) This slave has lost his faith in the parousia. Note, he does not here tell others of his doubts. He keeps it in his heart. He may reason: "It has been nearly 2,000 years, and nothing has happened!" Possibly this slave speaks like the ridiculers Peter writes about: "Where is the promise of his parousia? Why, from the day our forefathers died everything remains the same since creation’s beginning." (2 Peter 3:4)

It is true from our perspective prophetic matters can seem to delay or take a long time. Peter, however, writes about another perspective, a divine one: "With the Lord a thousand years is as one day." (2 Peter 3:8)

When the prophet Habakkuk kept asking, "How long?" Yahweh gave this promise: "Write the vision down, inscribe it on tablets to be easily read. For the vision is for its appointed time, it hastens towards its end and it will not lie; although it may take some time, wait for it, for come it certainly will before long." (Habakkuk 1:1; 2:2, 3 NJB) Note what quality God looks for in Habakkuk 2:4: "The righteous will live by faith in me." (LXX) This alert expectation is the same the Nazarene counsels over and over: "Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will come upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come down on all those living on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34-36 NJB)

How can this faith in the parousia be manifest? If one truly expects something to happen, this conviction will be manifest in speech and lifestyle. Paul puts it so simply, "I believed, therefore, I spoke." (2 Corinthians 4:13) Faith causes us to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ into daily life. One of the subjects we will find ourselves discussing with others is the blessed promise of the parousia. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18) Our expectation of the parousia will be reflected in our attitude and life-style. We will keep "a simple eye" toward material things (Matthew 6:22-34) and devote our energies toward family and needy people in the community. (1 Timothy 5:8; James 1:27)

Like ancient Job we will be able to say: "I freed the poor in distress and the orphan who had no helper. The dying man’s blessing rested on me and I gave the widow’s heart cause to rejoice. ... I was eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. Who but me was father of the poor? The stranger’s case had a hearing from me." (Job 29:12-16 NJB) Whenever the Lord returns he will find us providing food to our fellows within the Household of Faith. (Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42)

It is important here to mention the tension between our expectation and our ignorance about the Lord’s parousia. Jesus made it clear there was no way we could calculate a "day and hour" or even the "season" of the parousia. (Matthew 24:36, 43, 44; Mark 13:32-36; Acts 1:7) Indeed, the Nazarene told us what to do if some false prophet or pseudo- anointed came preaching, "The Time Is At Hand." Our Lord said, "Do not follow them!" (Luke 21:8; Mark 13:22) Every generation has had these "presumptuous" prophets -- including the millions that followed them -- and Moses assures us we need not fear them. (Deuteronomy 18:21, 22) They have no authority from Christ, or his Father Jehovah, to predict a certain generation, or a certain year, will be the moment of the parousia.

3. NAZARENE STANDARDS. Finally, there is another matter the King will note regarding our Christian lives. Have we been good or vile in our Christian walk? The Nazarene lists those matters which could defile our appearance before God. Read this list in Mark 7:21-23, "For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these things come from within and make a person unclean." (NJB) A life of faith and charity is not enough to assure "a resurrection to everlasting life." (John 5:29) A disciple of the Nazarene must avoid habitual sin, or the practice of that which is vile. (John 5:29; 1 John 3:7-9) There is that fruitage of the flesh which can prohibit a Christian from inheriting the kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Consider these injunctions by the Nazarene’s inspired disciples: "We should cleanse ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1) "Become holy in all your conduct." (1 Peter 1:15) "Everyone who has this hope purifies himself just as that One is pure." (1 John 3:3)

There are those who insist that a Christian is "saved by Grace" and cannot thereafter fail in his Christian course. It ought to be noted, however, that Ephesians 2:5, 8 is in the past tense in most translations. Compare this past tense also at Romans 8:24; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5. There is also a present tense of "being saved." (1 Corinthians 1:18; 15:2; 2 Corinthians 2:15) As well as a future tense. (Romans 5:9, 10; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 10:33) These three states may be illustrated by a lifeguard who saves a drowning victim. The person has been "saved" but this does not guarantee he can no longer drown.

Paul makes it clear that though one has begun the race, the course must be run to the finish and final victory. Even Paul realized he could fail. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-14) He also writes to the Philippian congregation: "Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12 NWT) Compare also Hebrews 6:4-8, Hebrews 10:26-31, and 2 Peter 2:20-22. It is true this can be a daily struggle in one area or another. Paul calls it a war that can only be won through Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:17-25) [For details about perfecting the Christian character see the online publication NAZARENE COMMUNITY.]

LIVING A LIFE OF LOVE, FAITH AND VIRTUE IN EXPECTATION OF THE PAROUSIA JUDGMENT

There will be no escaping the judgment of God. In this regard, Paul asks, "But, O man, do you logically think -- while you criticize others though doing the same things -- that you will escape the judgment of the God?" (Romans 2:3; 2 Corinthians 5:10) The Return of Christ means a resurrection followed by a judgment according to our works in this life. (1 Corinthians 15:23) This life has been recorded by God like a book of accounts. Our love for others, our faith in his parousia, and our virtuous walk, will be the basis for this judgment. Upon our resurrection there will be only two results: everlasting life, or everlasting shame and reproach. (John 5:28, 29; Daniel 12:2) We will either be outspoken or embarrassed in the parousia of our Lord on judgment day. (1 John 2:28; 4:17)

If we view each new day as a new page in that record of our life, we will face each day with a serious frame of mind intent on walking as closely in the footsteps of our Lord as possible. (Revelation 14:4; 1 Peter 2:21) Think of this day as the final page in your "small book" (Revelation 20:13), that log God is keeping on your course on this earth. Begin each day with prayers that this new page will be one causing no shame on that "day of judgment."

Of course, no one’s life is perfect, for we all fail from time to time. (James 3:2; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:9-18) We expect God to judge the whole book, not just a single page. Consider David or Peter. Each failed in serious ways and if God were only to look at those pages these faithful men would not stand the test. Thankfully, by the blood of our Lord, as well as our own victorious struggle against sin, God will look at our entire record. It is our hope that this record will contain sterling examples of love, faith and virtue. Where we have erred our Father will find evidence of repentance and confession, followed by a turning from our wrongful course to a new walk in Christ.

Happily we have a "helper" to intercede in our behalf. Isaiah the prophet foretold: "For [Messiah] exposed himself to death and was numbered among the sinners, whereas he bore the guilt of the many and made intercession for sinners." (Isaiah 53:12 JPS) The beloved apostle echoes the same: "My little children, I am writing you so that you do not commit a sin. And if anyone should ever commit a sin we have a Helper facing toward the Father, a righteous one, Jesus Christ and he is an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 2:1, 2)

We remember the Nazarene’s parable so as to avoid the sin of the faithless slave. We avoid harming our brothers and sisters in the faith as well as living a materialistic life-style. (Luke 12:45, 46) When simplified there are but two things God asks of us: "This is (the Father’s) commandment that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and be loving one another as (His Son) commanded us." (1 John 3:23)

With our eyes of faith we see the vision of our High Priest interceding for us in the celestial realm: "How much more shall the blood of Christ -- who sacrificed himself without blemish through an everlasting spirit -- cleanse our conscience from dead works so that we may worship a living God. ... For Christ entered ... the actual celestialium to appear before the face of The God for us. ... Consequently he is able to completely save those approaching The God because he is always alive to be interceding for them. ...Therefore, brothers, we can speak openingly about the way into [heavenly] holy places by the blood of Jesus which he introduced to us as a freshly slaughtered and living [sacrifice] through the curtain of his flesh. ... Let us approach with a genuine heart in complete conviction, having our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience, and having our body bathed in pure water." (Hebrews 9:14, 24; 7:25; 10:19, 20, 22) May we all live in Christ in such a way we may stand before the parousia-judgment throne without fear of embarrassment. (1 John 2:28) --END--

THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON

Some critics and scholars view the New Testament as a product of the Catholic Church and that the canon was only formulated in the Fourth Century. Others feel the New Testament canon of 27 books was already formed by the year 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem. Still others, though agreeing with this, would place the writings of John near the end of the First Century.

How did the New Testament form and when did the 27 books become accepted as inspired portions of the Bible canon? How is this to be determined? It is admitted that no answer will please everyone as various agendas are at work within the modern Christian Church. Scholars of one sort will always argue with scholars of another sort. What is our own conviction, however?

JESUS FORETELLS THE NEW TESTAMENT

In his Last Passover counsel to his apostles, the Nazarene told them: "Yet I have many things to tell you but you are unable to bear it right now. But whenever that one arrives -- the spirit of the truth -- he will guide you into all the truth. ... The Helper, the holy pneuma, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you everything and restore to your memories everything I told you." (John 16:12, 13; 14:26) We believe this to be true: the Father would funnel the holy pneuma through His Son in such a way to cause the inspired disciples to remember "everything" Jesus taught. They were then able either to write these sayings down or dictate them to others. This would benefit future believers. (John 17:20)

How soon did this process begin? When did the disciples who wrote inspired letters begin to quote Jesus? There is evidence that Paul is quoting and referencing Jesus’ teachings in his first letters: First Thessalonians and First Corinthians. It is possible when Paul mentions "the word of the Lord" at 1 Thessalonians 4:15 he may be alluding to what Jesus said to Martha about two groups of believers: those who would die and be resurrected and those living who would no die. This conversation later became John 11:25, 26. The New Jerusalem Bible renders the Thessalonian verse: "We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching."

Among the very first quotes of the Nazarene is Paul’s allusion to Luke 10:7 ("the worker is worthy of his wages") at 1 Corinthians 9:14; and, then the full quote of it at 1 Timothy 5:18. So, as early as the fifth decade of the First Century Paul quotes what was to become the Gospel of Luke. This is not surprising, for we remember that Luke was a traveling companion of Paul. We note in Paul’s quote of the Lord’s words he does not use the phrase as it is in the Gospel of Matthew 10:10 ("the worker is worthy of his food") but Luke’s "worthy of his wages." Was Luke working on his own Gospel while traveling with Paul? He would have plenty of opportunity to interview eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life: Peter, John, James, and likely Barnabas and others.

Luke had to write his Gospel, and record of the activities of the apostles, before 66. He recognizes that he was not the first to start this when he writes, "Since many have taken [pen] in hand to compile a statement about those matters fully accepted as facts among us -- just as the original eyewitnesses and attendants of the Word gave to us -- it also seemed good to me, having followed closely in an accurate and logical overview, to write you, most exellent Theophilus, so you might know about those things you have been accurately taught orally." (Luke 1:1-4)

Also, regarding Luke note how the Book of Acts ends with Paul’s first Roman imprisonment. It is known Paul was released and lived another two years before his second imprisonment and final beheading in Rome. Clearly, if later third of fourth century editors were involved, such as the Catholic Church, they would have added this information, perhaps emphasizing Peter’s own crucifixion.

This would place the bulk of the New Testament before the destruction of Jerusalem. Other evidence of such early written records is the discovery of the so-called Jesus papyrus which has been traced by at least one scholar to around the year 50 AD.

Certain things lacking in the present 27 books prove these were canonized long before the Catholic Church had control: the lack of emphasis on Mary; the disappearance of Peter early in the Book of Acts; the lack of a controlling church heirarchy.

Both Paul and Peter were martyred around the year 66, shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem. We find Peter refering to Paul’s letter as "scripture" in 2 Peter 3:15, 16, " ... Paul, according to the wisdom given him [inspiration] wrote to you speaking about these things as he does also in all his epistles ... which the untaught and unsteady twist as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures." So, before the year 66 Peter gives his own inspired recognition of Paul’s letters as "Scripture." Also, Peter may well quote directly from Paul in his first letter. Note in 1 Peter 2:23 and 1 Peter 3:9 where the words of Romans 12:17 occur.

Concerning an early date for the New Testament canon, we note L. A. Muratori, Ambrosian Library, Milan, Italy, first published in 1740. The Muratorian Fragment in Latin, dates c150-190 AD), "[The first portion is missing] ... The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, wrote it in his own name . . . The fourth book of the Gospel is that of John, one of the disciples. . . . And so to the faith of believers there is no discord, even although different selections are given from the facts in the individual books of the Gospels, because in all [of them] under the one guiding Spirit all the things relative to his nativity, passion, resurrection, conversation with his disciples, and his twofold advent, the first in the humiliation arising from contempt, which took place, and the second in the glory of kingly power, which is yet to come, have been declared.

"What marvel is it, then, if John adduces so consistently in his epistles these several things, saying in person: 'what we have seen with our eyes, and heard with our ears, and our hands have handled, those things we have written.' For thus he professes to be not only an eyewitness but also a hearer and narrator of all the wonderful things of the Lord, in their order. Moreover, the acts of all the apostles are written in one book. Luke [so] comprised them for the most excellent Theophilus . . .

"Now the epistles of Paul, what they are, whence or for what reason they were sent, they themselves make clear to him who will understand. First of all he wrote at length to the Corinthians to prohibit the schism of heresy, then to the Galatians [against] circumcision, and to the Romans on the order of the Scriptures, intimating also that Christ is the chief matter in them-each of which it is necessary for us to discuss, seeing that the blessed Apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name in the following order: to the Corinthians (first), to the Ephesians (second), to the Philippians (third), to the Colossians (fourth), to the Galatians (fifth), to the Thessalonians (sixth), to the Romans (seventh). But though he writes twice for the sake of correction to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, that there is one church diffused throughout the whole earth is shown [?i.e., by this sevenfold writing]; and John also in the Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, yet speaks to all. But [he wrote] out of affection and love one to Philemon, and one to Titus, and two to Timothy; [and these] are held sacred in the honorable esteem of the Church. . . .

"Further, an epistle of Jude and two bearing the name of John are counted . . . We receive the apocalypses of John and Peter only, which [latter] some of us do not wish to be read in church.’ ... " The New Testament is regarded as definitely made up of the four Gospels, the Acts, thirteen epistles of Paul, the Apocalypse of John, probably three epistles of his, Jude, and probably I Peter, while the opposition to another of Peter's writings was not yet silenced." (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1956, Vol. VIII, page 56.)

"Near the close of the 1st cent., Clement bishop of Rome was acquainted with Paul's letter to the church at Corinth. After him, the letters of both Ignatius bishop of Antioch and Polycarp bishop of Smyrna attest the dissemination of the Pauline letters by the second decade of the 2nd century." (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by G. W. Bromiley, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 603)

Justin Martyr (died c165 AD), in Dialogue With Trypho, a Jew (XLIX), uses the phrase "it is written" while quoting the Gospel of Matthew just as the same words are used when referring to the Old Testament. The same may be said of the letter The Epistle of Barnabas (IV). Justin Martyr in The First Apology (LXVI, LXVII) refers to the "memoirs of the apostles" as Gospels. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, pp. 220, 139, 185, 186)

Theophilus of Antioch (Second Century AD) wrote: "Concerning the righteousness which the law enjoined, confirmatory utterances are found both with the prophets and in the Gospels, because they all spoke inspired by one Spirit of God." Another scholar, Theophilus, uses the phrase "says the Gospel" and then quotes Matthew 5:28, 32, 44, 46; 6:3). He also writes, "the divine word gives us instructions" and then quotes 1Timothy 2:2 and Romans 13:7, 8. [The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1962, Vol. II, pp. 114, 115, "Theophilus to Autolycus" (XII, XIII)]

Thus before the Third Century the Christian canon of the Bible was completed. Likely, however, the Christian canon was virtually complete -- with the exception of John’s Gospel, letters, and the Revelation -- before the year 70 AD. Such ante-nicene "fathers" as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian equated the words of the Christian canon with that of the Hebrew Bible. Irenaeus quoutes Paul 200 times. In answer to pagan opponents, Clement writes "the Scriptures which we believe are valid from their omnipotent authority ... by the law and the prophets, and besides by the blessed Gospel." (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II, p. 409, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies.") -- END --

FAITH PERSPECTIVES: Crpytic Message

A Open Forum for Free Expression of Belief

Is there a message in the names of the generations of Adam as they appear in Genesis Chapter 5?

ADAM
(Earthling Man; Mankind; Humankind; from a root meaning "red")

SETH
(Appointed; Put; Set)

ENOSH
(Mortal Man)

KENAN
(from a root meaning "produce; acquire; buy")

MAHALALEL
(possibly, Praise of God)

JARED

ENOCH
(One Trained Up; Inaugurated [that is, dedicated, initiated])

METHUSELAH
(Possibly, Man of the Missile)

LAMECH

NOAH
(probably, Rest; Consolation)

The possible message of Gen. 5 according to the meanings of the mentioned geneology may be "Humankind (Adam) was Appointed (Seth) a Mortal Man (Enosh) who would Produce(Kenan) Praise of God (Mahalalel) as the Dedicated (Enoch) Man of the Destruction (Methuselah) to bring Rest / Comfort (Noah).

Sounds like the Gospel. Just a thought. [Contributed]


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