Christian Living

The Poor Are Also Created in the Image of God

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)

Wow. I must confess, this passage is difficult for me to imitate. Throughout life, I have bypassed many beggars on the streets and ignored their plea for money. What’s my excuses consist of?

Here is a list that usually runs in my head: If they are able-bodied, why can’t they get a job? What if they use that money for drugs or alcohol? How do I know they are telling me the truth? I need that money for myself. I have a family to feed.

How do you respond when a beggar asks for money? Have these thoughts ever entered your mind? If so, you are not alone. But are these excuses valid? As Christians, I do think we need to be wise in how we give money to strangers, but are we ever justified to ignore a person in need?

Let’s examine the Bible. Jesus makes it clear in Luke 6:30, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

The Greek word for everyone is πᾶς. It means, “all people.” Similarly, in the passage above, the Greek word for anyone is ὅς, which has a totality emphasis, meaning to give unconditionally. There are at least 30 additional passages that Jesus preaches on concerning charity towards the poor.

Based on Scripture, I believe all of us have a duty to help people in need. Does that help always include financial assistance? Not all the time. If you are financially unstable, and someone is begging from you, it may be unwise to give them money you don’t have.

However, I still think there is an obligation to show Christ’s love to that person. You can certainly pray for them. Peter is a perfect example of this in Acts: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk (Acts 3:6).”

Therefore, while there may be conditions in which you can’t give monetarily, there are no conditions in which you should ignore the person.

When I was in college, I used to preach in the open air. Homeless people would come up to me all the time and ask for money. Instead of giving them money, I invited them to eat a meal with me. Most declined.

There was one person I vividly remember accepting my invitation. When we walked into the restaurant, I will never forget the reaction on the customers’ faces. It’s almost as if you could read their minds. “What is he doing in here? He smells bad.” I felt sympathy for this homeless man because I experienced what it was like to sense strong rejection, as if I was sub-human.

While we were eating, he told me his life story. I came to the realization that he was a person just like me. Full of dreams. Creative. A sense of humor. Personable. On the other hand, broken. Confused. Depressed. Despite the virtues and vices, this man was a priceless vessel created in the image of God.

This experience has helped me to become more sympathetic towards the poor and needy. And it should. The Bible tells us that if we don’t have pity for the brokenhearted, then the love of God does not reside in us. James tells us that if we have faith, but not works, our faith is futile. Our religion becomes worthless when we abandon the widows and orphans in distress.

On judgment day, Jesus will say to the righteous: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matt. 25:40).” Next time you see a stranger in need, remember that a day is coming when you will either be exhorted by your decision to help a person in need or rebuked for failing to imitate Christ’s love.

Be encouraged. There are endless opportunities to show the love of Christ to the outcasts. Here are 7 suggestions. Please add more to this list in the comments below. God bless.

  1. Go on a mission trip with your local church.
  2. Help out at Vacation Bible School.
  3. Adopt a child in the foster care system.
  4. Give to Hope for the Hungry.
  5. Bring food to a homeless person.
  6. Instead of buying a cup of coffee, save that money for a beggar.
  7. Grab some lunch with an outcast at your church who may not have a family nearby.

The End Times: An Exegetical Study on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

 

The Text on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

(1) Moreover, we urge you brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him (2) not to be quickly shaken in mind or in a constant state of being troubled, neither by a spiritual gift of prophecy, nor a spoken word, not by a letter, as if from us, saying that the Day of the Lord has come. (3) Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, because it will not be until the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, is revealed. (4) He is the one who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself that he is God. (5) Do you not remember that when I was with you, I was repeatedly telling you these things? (6) And as to the present, you know that which restrains him, that he may be revealed in his time.  (7) For indeed the mystery of lawlessness is already working, only the one who now restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way (8) and then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of his mouth and will bring to an end by the glorious appearance of his coming; (9) whose coming is by the powerful influence of Satan, in all power–both signs and wonders of falsehood (10) and in every deceit of unrighteousness for those that are perishing, this is because they did not love the truth so that they might be saved. (11) And for this reason, God sends them an inward working of delusion to believe what is false, (12) for the purpose that all may be judged, having not believed the truth but delighted in unrighteousness.   

The Interpretation

(2:1)Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοίPaul introduces a change from thanksgiving and prayer in the previous chapter with the preposition δὲ in the phrase Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφο Moreover, we urge you, brothers. This epistolary section is addressed to new believers in Thessalonica in the first chapter, indicating an urgency to listen to the teaching they are about to receive from Paul because false teaching has infiltrated the community (v.2). Furthermore, the Greek preposition ὑπὲρ regarding further clarifies that the members were concerned about whether Jesus was coming soon or not. Paul is going to correct these errors from the Gnostic teachers.

The two nouns, coming τῆς παρουσια and being gatheredεπισυναγωγης are only governed by one article with the conjunction καὶ and are therefore considered to be the same event. This gathering is argued by post-tribulationists to explain both nouns have the same referent because of the TSKS construction. However, some scholars argue that this is a misinterpretation of Sharps rule because the nouns of the verses are impersonal substantives. Therefore, both nouns might not be referring to the same event but could be separate as dispensationalists would argue.

(2:2) εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχέως σαλευθῆναιThe object in this construction, εἰς τὸ μὴ of ερωοτωμεν has two infinitives: σαλευθῆναι, an aorist that looks at the action without completion and θροεῖσθαι, which defines the action as continual: we urge you not to be quickly shaken in mind or in a constant state of being troubled. This suggests that the Thessalonians have either had trouble doctrinally before or Paul is trying to prevent them.  

In the next phrase, μήτε διὰ πνεύματος μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε διἐπιστολῆς “neither by a spiritual gift of prophecy, nor a spoken word, nor by a letter, these three nouns are functioning as genitives of source. They all clarify the two infinitives σαλευθῆναι and θροεῖσθαι as being the reason for the difficulty in the Thessalonian church. Moreover, the instrument or means διὰ by which these two infinitives are effected by stands together in negative correlation with the triple μήτe being due to μηδὲ.

Paul is stating the teaching they received through the spirit, the word, and the letter did not come from him but false teachers. Through the spirit, πνεύματος, was by means of a spiritual gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:12; 1 Th. 5:19-20). Whatever medium this life giving spirithad on the community, allegedly it had Pauls authority just as the Thessalonians said about the spoken word and the letter they received. Paul intends to correct this mistake.

The construction ἡ ἡμέρα is most commonly used with the meaning the period between sunrise and sunset.However, the construction τοῦ κυρίου is added here as an appointed day for the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The verb ἐνέστηκεν is used by Paul to negate that it is present and argue for a future day of trouble. Paul describes in the following verses what events must first take place.

(2:3) μή τις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπονPauls language here is emphatic: Do not let anyone deceive you in any way.”  First, the verb he prefers ἐξαπατήσῃ, is in the subjunctive, referring to Satans subtle deception (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14). Second, ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ “because it will not be if not shall have come is a rare expression of the Aorist subjunctive with the negation μή. This elliptical condition is incomplete because the corresponding apodosis does not follow. Paul could have been using a rhetorical device known as anacoluthon to emphasize his urgency to warn.

Afterwards, Paul states the day of the Lord will not come until three events occur: the apostasy, the man of lawlessness is revealed, and the restrainer removed (v. 6-7). Although the temporal adverb πρῶτον helps to clarify the sequence of events in which the apostasy would be followed, the absence of ἔπειτα (then) verifies these events will occur simultaneously. The difficulty is interpreting how long these events will transpire before the end.

Paul and other New Testament writers express that this time of apostasy will be an increase of wrongdoing and opposition to God (Matt 24:10; Mk. 13:5; Lk. 8:13; Jude 18; 2 Tim. 3:1-9). The leader of this rebellion, ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας, can be translated as the man of sinor of lawlessness(Ps. 89:22). He is identified as the son of destruction ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας not only because he opposesGod but because he exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped (2 Thess. 2:4; Dan. 11:36-37).

Moreover, this genitive of relationship ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας “son of perdition is paralleled to Σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, The Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16). Christ will be revealed in all his glory and the Antichrist (1 Jn.2:18) will be followed by his destruction in the lake of fire with the rest of Gods enemies (1 Thess. 5:3; Rev. 17:8).

Daniels prophecy in 11:30-45 and Pauls teaching in 2:3-4 are clearly paralleled. They both state that the man of sinwill influence the world with smooth words and deceive those who forsake the holy covenant by acting wickedly, fulfilling the apostasy in 2:3. Then, he will persuade others to become godless and persecute those who remain loyal to Gods covenant ( Dan. 11:32-35).

Finally, this lawless one who will (2:4A) ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἢ σέβασμαoppose and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship,will meet his end under Gods judicial judgment (Dan. 11:45; 2 Thess. 2:8) when he sets himself in the temple as God.  λεγόμενον θεὸ refers to would be gods and the true living God. Paul articulates this phrase to prevent believers from placing the true God in the same position with the idols of the pagan world.

(2:4B) ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσαι, ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἔστιν θεός… Next, the lawless one commits the greatest blasphemy so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself that he is God( Is. 14:14; 47:8; Ezek. 28:9). This is known as the abomination of desolation ( Dan. 9:27; 11:31; Matt. 24:15-16; Mk. 13:14). Scholars interpret this event in (3) ways: Occurred during first and second temple Judaism before its destruction in AD 70, the current rebuilt temple under the new covenant, the church (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16), or Gods heavenly temple (Ps. 11:4; Acts 7:49; Heb. 8:1-2).

First, since Paul has already stated in his letter that the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed (v. 3, 6-8), we can eliminate first and second temple Judaism of the past. Second, the noun ναὸν (temple) is made definite by the article and the possessive genitive τοῦ θεοῦ (of God). This explains a physical building was intended, not believers who are the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19). The best clue in the text is the conjunction ὥστε with the infinitive. It indicates tendency or purpose not realized. Therefore, the lawless one will attempt to dethrone Gods heavenly throne not in a physical place, but through the powers of this dark world and through the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).

(2:5) Οὐ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ἔτι ὢν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ταῦτα ἔλεγον ὑμῖνThis is now the fourth time in these two letters where Paul expresses the first person singular and the fourth of six instances where Paul exhorts them to remember what they had been taught (1 Thess. 2:9; 3:4; 4:1; 5:1-2; 2 Thess 3:10). The first person implies that he felt personally responsible for the instruction he gave to the Thessalonians and the writing of the letter (1 Thess. 5:27), even though it was written with the assistance of Timothy and Silvanus. Pauls authority implies that the church already accepted apostolic authority.

Moreover, Paul applies a stative verb ἔλεγον (I said) with a transitive preposition πρὸς(with). πρὸς is the only preposition whose force is overridden by the verb, making it static or an undefined duration: Do you not remember when I was yet with you, I was repeatedly telling you these things?The imperfect tense of ἔλεγον also verifies the view Paul was in Thessalonica longer than the three Sabbath days (Acts 17).

(2:6A) καὶ νῦν τὸ κατέχον οἴδατεκαὶ νῦν τὸ κατέχον οἴδατε, εἰς τὸ ἀποκαλυφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ…“and as to the present, you know that which restrains him, that he may be revealed in his time. The church knew about Pauls previous teaching concerning the apostasy and the man of lawlessness. Also, they knewthe unnamed restrainer (v. 6-7) as either the Roman government, the archangel Michael, an angel of Satan, the Holy Spirit, or the pre-tribulation church.

In Greek, the usage of the neuter gender κατέχον is an abstract expression where a singular appears when one would naturally look for a plural. This verse is synonymous with ὁ κατέχων in the next verse, implying the same object or person. Therefore, the best explanation is this person is Michael and his angels fighting against the adversary (Dan. 10:13; Rev. 12:7). Lastly, this restraint is placed on the man of lawlessness for a purpose that he should be revealed in the time that is right for his revealing.This shows God is in control and the lawless ones fate is determined.

(2:7A) τὸ γὰρ μυστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνομίαςτῆς ἀνομίας is the descriptive genitive in subordinate relation to the subject of the clause τὸ μυστήριον. The text would therefore be rendered: For indeed the mystery of lawlessness is already working.Though this mystery is presently at work in the world, it wont be fully revealed until the second coming of Christ for at least two reasons: God is concealing this truth to harden unbelievers (Rom. 11:25; 2 Thess. 2:11-12) and transform Christians at the appointed time (1 Cor. 15:51), or the mystery is too difficult to grasp because it transcends human understanding.

(2:7B) μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἕως ἐκ μέσου γένηται…“only the one who now restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way.” There is an ellipsis in this passage. μόνον is related to ἕως and identifies a limitation involved with the mystery until the object is removed and the Antichrist is revealed. Though we can only speculate on who this restrainer is, the text implies that the end was not immediate (v. 2). Paul clarifies “the one who restrains” is still actively present in the world, further justifying the parousia has not yet come.

(2:8) καὶ τότε ἀποκαλυφθήσεται ὁ ἄνομος, ὃν ὁ κύριος [Ἰησοῦς] ἀνελεῖ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ καὶ καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ...The conjunction καὶ and adverb τότε denote that Paul is no longer referring to the present but to the future when the lawless one will be revealed and destroyed by the Lord. The phrase τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ is referring to the passage in Isaiah 11:4: “And He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked (NASB).”

Moreover, καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ declares that God will not only destroy the evil one with the breath of His mouth, but also with the appearance of his coming. τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ refers to an unexpected personal appearance of hidden divinity. It is used both of Jesusincarnation (2 Ti. 1:10) and his appearance in judgment (1 Ti. 6:14; 2 Ti. 4:1; 8; Tit. 2:13). This defeat is not only focused on the man of sin but also the destruction of all evil (1 Cor. 15:24), culminating in the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

(2:9) οὗ ἐστιν ἡ παρουσία κατἐνέργειαν τοῦ Σατανᾶ ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν ψεύδουςThis passage speaks about the coming of the Antichrist. Paul uses the same word ἡ παρουσία from verses 1 and 3, and οὗ is the relative pronoun that refers to the lawless one in verse 8. The παρουσία means the state of being present at a place (1 Cor. 16:17; Phil. 2:12). When Christ returns at the end of the age, he will make his presence felt by the revelation of his power to judge the world (Mt. 24:4; 1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Pet. 3:4). The lawless one will mimic Gods power under the influence of Satan, bringing false power, signs, and wonders to the Earth upon those who are perishing. Since the unrighteous will have no love for the truth, they will be deceived and follow the strong delusion that God permits from Satan (Col. 1:21; Eph. 4:17-19; Rom. 1:25).

Some scholars suggest that πάσῃ and δυνάμει are connected with all three nouns (power, sign, and wonders) and that ψεύδους is to be taken with all three substantives, rendering the phrase: in all power, signs, and wonders of falsehood.Others restrict the adjective πάσῃ and translate the two nouns: In all power–both signs and wonders of falsehood. The latter interpretation is more correct because only God is all-powerful, and Acts 2:22 and Hebrews 2:4 specifies that only Jesus has this unique power: δυνάμεσι καὶ τέρασι καὶ σημείοις οἷς ἐποίησεν διαὐτοῦ ὁ θεὸς ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, καθὼς αὐτοὶ οἴδατε.

(2:10) καὶ ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, ἀνθὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο εἰς τὸ σωθῆναι αὐτούςThis verse describes the trickery of the lawless one and how it affects the deceived. Not only does he come with false signs and wonders, but also with any other plan to forward his deception. The word for deception, ἀπάτῃ, expresses the idea of seduction that comes from wealth (Mt. 13:22; Mk. 4:19), empty deceit (Col 2:8), pleasure that involves one into sin, or deceptive trickery from an outside force (2 Thess. 2:10). Clearly the wicked will perish not only because of the schemes of the devil, but because they did not have a love for the truth.      

There is only one passage (Lk. 11:42) where ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας the love of the truthis used with the objective genitive and the adverbial negation οὐκ. This means they did not love the truthrather than the truth did not love them.  Jesus Christ, who is the incarnate Truth, has a love for his creation, desiring that no one perish but all come to repentance in faith (2 Pet 3:9). However, when He came to His own people (Jn. 1:11), they did notreceiveἐδέξαντο Him to be saved σωθῆναι. This infinitive communicates the purpose of the main action which we recognize by the preposition εἰς τὸ. Consequently, Paul is declaring that since they do not receive this truth to be saved, their only other option is to perish (1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15; 4:3).

The verbal participle ἀπολλυμένοις describes the unbelieving world as experiencing destruction by being put to eternal death (Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:32; Rom. 14:15). This death is described as being lost, fading from beauty and splendor, (Js. 11:11; Rev. 18:14) and of the way of the godless, which is lost in darkness (Ps. 1:6). Moreover, it emphasizes the failure to obtain what one anticipates, such as heavenly rewards (Mt. 10:42; Mk. 9:41) or lose their connection with God just as wine that has lost its flavor or sheep that have gone astray from their shepherd ( Jer. 27:6; Ezek. 34:4; Jn. 6:12).

(2:11) καὶ διὰ τοῦτο πέμπειαὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς ἐνέργειαν πλάνης εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι αὐτοὺς τῷ ψεύδει[And for this reason, God sends them an inward working of delusion so they believe what is false]. Since they have rejected the gospel, God begins to execute judgment upon them by sending a strong delusion so they cant distinguish between the truth of the gospel and the falsity of Satan. Paul comments in other passages where God allows sinners to indulge in the sin and errors they have approved (Ps. 80:12-13; Rom. 1:24; 2 Tim. 4:4) by giving the man of lawlessness the ability to propagate these lies.

God will πέμπει “sendthis strong delusion: The idea here is someone, whether human or transcendent, is dispatched to communicate a message (Lk. 20:11; 2 Cor. 9:3). In the context of this passage, the sending is an idea of moving from one place to another. It takes on the meaning to instruct, commission, or appoint. Therefore, God has appointed this strong delusion just as he did when he hardened the Israelites in the Old Testament (Isa. 6:9-10). For example, God sent a spirit to energize false prophets before Ahab and Jehoshaphat to bring down their alliance (1 Kgs 22:19; 2 Chr. 18:18-22).   

The next phrase, ἐνέργειαν πλάνης, is the only occurrence in the New Testament where πλάνης is a genitive of the object and signifies the aim of active inward energy: the state of being deceived.In addition, the nominative subject ὁ θεὸς, is emphatic, suggesting the reality it is God who is working out his moral purposes through the evil agencies to bring this strong delusion.

Its important to recognize that God does not cause their unbelief, but he sets the stage for them to demonstrate it. For example, an undercover cop doesnt participate in the evil of setting someone up, he simply pretends to follow so that the trap is set to capture the evildoer. Genuine believers will not be deceived in this way because we have been saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (NASB v.13).

(2:12) ἵνα κριθῶσιν πάντες οἱ μὴ πιστεύσαντες τῇ ἀληθείᾳ ἀλλὰ εὐδοκήσαντες τῇ ἀδικίᾳ…[in order that all may be judged, having not believed the truth but delighted in unrighteousness]. The purpose of πέμπει in the previous verse is contingent upon the purpose in εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι. Therefore, the ἵνα κριθῶσιν πάντες clause depends on εἰς τὸ: that all might be judged.Most scholars syntactically agree that this is a purpose clause because God is sending the delusion to fulfill the destiny of both the righteous and the unrighteous.

Furthermore, the aorist active participle πιστεύσαντες “having believedis used eight times to describe believers (Mk. 16:16; 2 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 4:3), and negatively, of those who did not believe (2 Thess. 2:12; Jude 5). Its considered an independent substantival, with the aspectual force of gnomic and continual: everyone who continually does not believe.

The aorist participle ὐδοκήσαντες and the dative noun τῇ ἀδικίᾳ are an example of the instrumental dative case of cause.The syntactical structure expresses the idea of cause, motive, or occasion and changes between the idea of association and means: delighted in unrighteousness. Unlike believers, who are producing the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5), the wicked are sowing corruption and reaping the consequences. The use of these two aorist participles strengthen the idea that Paul was thinking about the path they had chosen when they rejected the gospel more than the lifestyle that resulted from the choices they made.

These warnings by Paul were a sober reminder to the Thessalonians not to be shaken in mind or alarmed by deception (v. 2-3) so they would avoid perishing with the world. His purpose in admonishing the Thessalonians was to care for their souls. In the remaining verses (v. 13-16), Paul reminds them they have been saved by the truth of the gospel for the glory of the Lord, who loves and comforts their hearts.
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Teaching Handout: Summary of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Introduction: The culture attempts to influence our beliefs about the apocalypse end times.What are some rumors you have heard before concerning the end of the world? How did this make you feel (upset, nervous, skeptical)?

Transition: The Thessalonians had also been alarmed about rumors that the Day of the Lord was already present and Paul writes to instruct them.

Background of 2 Thessalonians:

1.) Authorship: The Apostle Paul [possibly Silvanus and Timothy]

2.) Date: A.D. 52-54; immediately following his first letter to the Thessalonians

3.) Destination of the Letter: To the church at Thessalonica

The Purpose of the Letter:

1.) The persecution from the Jewish mobs and others in the city had grown worse, causing the Christian community to despair. He wanted to write to comfort them in Christ (2 Thess. 2:16-17).

2.) Because of their increased persecution, false prophets were convincing them that the end was already present, even writing a false letter (2:2)

3.) The nearness of Christs return caused believed to neglect their vocational responsibilities. Paul writes to not walk in idleness but to continue in their vocations (2 Thess. 2:11).  

Outline of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12: (taken from Michael Martin)

Regarding the Day of the Lord (2:1-17)

 

  • The issue identifies (2:1-2)
  • The Eschatological error corrected (2:3-10)
  • Rejection or acceptance of the Truth (2:11-15)
  • Concluding prayer (2:16-17)

 

Concluding Observations

 

  • How did Paul address the Thessalonians?
  • What misconceptions do we have about the end of the age?
  • Who do you think the man of lawlessness is based on the text?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Thessalonians that we can apply or avoid in our life?

Faith and Works: Two Sides of the Same Coin

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”– James 2:14

A family is on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Shortly before they arrive, a young man comes out from nowhere and tells them to pull over quickly. “Don’t go any further,” he exclaims. “At the end of this road there is a cliff!”

What evidence will indicate the family really believes the young man? If they say, “we believe you,” but continues to go down the treacherous road, do they sincerely believe? Wouldn’t it make sense for the family to turn their vehicle around if they had faith in this man? Of course. Their action demonstrates their faith.

This is what James is arguing in his letter. If one truly has faith, their works will demonstrate it. Faith and works are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. James makes it explicit in verses 19-23:

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

The book of Hebrews also makes it clear that faith and works are two sides of the same coin. Every time faith is mentioned, a reason is given. For instance, by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. By faith Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household. By faith Sarah received strength to conceive and she bore a child when she was past the age (Heb. 11:1-11).

Does this mean our works save us? Not at all. Our works only demonstrate saving faith. Romans 5:1 makes this clear: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through out Lord Jesus Christ.”

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking faith is alone. There is no such thing as saying you believe in Jesus, but not doing what he commands. John 14:15 states, “If you love me, keep my commands. Furthermore, Jesus said to his disciples, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

There is a false teaching going around that says faith doesn’t require obedience. I want to make it clear that our justification is a free gift and nothing we earn, but why would a believer want to continue in sin? Yes, we struggle with sin, but it’s not a pattern of the Christian life. Paul says to those in Rome: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? God forbid.”

1 Corinthians 6 warns us to flee from sin: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

This is a serious verse. If sin is a constant pattern in your life, then don’t keep telling yourself: “I am saved by faith.” I am saved because God loves me.” While these are true statements, if they are used as an excuse to sin, then you are perverting them. I remember when I first became a Christian I would use God’s grace card all the time to comfort myself in sin.

But 1 John tells us, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seem remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” Shouldn’t this bring holy fear to us? Let’s be real. I am a human too. I know what it’s like to lie to myself in order to satiate my sinful desires. Let’s just be frank. Don’t do it. Flee from it. Ask God to give you the strength to overcome. He will always provide a way of escape.

Remember the analogy at the beginning of this article? I told you about a family traveling to the Grand Canyon. If they don’t believe the young man, they may smile, act friendly, but tell him, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about us.”

If that’s you, then let me be the young man in the story, warning you to repent and trust in Jesus. Don’t be tempted to feel comfortable in your sin just because salvation is a free gift.

I was shocked to hear one preacher tell an entire audience. “Once you have eternal life, not even God can take it from you. Once he promises it, there is no way back. No matter what you do.” Really? You think that’s true?

God destroyed the entire world through a flood because of his hatred towards sin. God rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, annihilating everyone except Lot and his daughters. Even his own wife was turned into a pillar of salt.

God makes it clear in Romans 9:15 that He is sovereign over the fate of all of us: For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

You can’t manipulate God. You can’t even use God’s own grace card to get you out for fire insurance. It has to be genuine. Is eternal life a free gift? Absolutely. Will it ever be earned? Of course not. Jesus paid it all. But just because he paid it all doesn’t mean your covered in his blood. If you are, then his holy spirit will convict you of sin and lead you to a life of holiness.

Whoever is reading this, I care for you. It may sound harsh, but I don’t want to be a nice doctor that makes you feel better. I want to be a doctor who may say, “You have cancer and if you don’t treat it now, you will die.” That’s true, right? But the cure is trusting in Jesus.

Are you willing to do that today? May God give you the strength to persevere until the end.

Only God’s Endurance Lasts Forever

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you (1 Pet. 1:24-25).” 

When I was in high school, my swim coach would assign the hardest practice the day before new years. We would swim for two hours without rest. The goal, of course, was to increase our endurance and strength training for the new year. During the moment, it was painful. However, that one practice alone gave me enough endurance to last throughout the season.

Endurance is the key to swimming. You can have all the strength in the world, but without endurance, you won’t last more than 50 yards in the pool. Our coach knew this. That’s why his main focus was to build our endurance so we would be ready on the day of competition.

As you know, endurance can’t last forever. Even the greatest athletes need to take a break. We are fragile creatures. Our energy is lost quickly. Without sleep, we can’t even survive.

Genesis 3:19 tells us, “For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” That’s how fragile we are. The Psalmist writes that man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow (Ps. 144:4). Finally, James tells us our life is like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (4:14).

Isn’t this depressing? At first glance, yes. Deep within our hearts, I believe no one wants to die. We want to endure forever.

But the good news is that God promises us eternal life. He is the word of the Lord who endures forever. When Jesus was on earth, he told people: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

All of us will experience physical death because of our sins. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. When Jesus said the one who believes in him will live even though they die, he meant believers will be resurrected after death and live forever.

God is the source of life. He is the Creator who has the power to give life to all who trust in Him. He is infinite and endures forever. As Scripture teaches above, this truth was preached to the world.

The Bible is the good news that God saves sinners. He rescues them from death and gives eternal life. In Acts 2:38, Peter was asked, “What must we do to be saved?” He responded: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ, I would encourage you to do that today. Repent of your sins and be baptized. Call on his name to save you. You don’t have the endurance to make it through life without him. Lean on him. He will give you strength. For He endures forever!

Dear Church, Carry One Another’s Burdens!

 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).” 

The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the Church in Galatia. He knows church life can get messy. Church is not a place for the righteous, but a hospital for sick people. It’s a community for broken sinners who desperately need the forgiveness and grace of God. Therefore, as Christians, we must carry one another’s burdens just like doctors must heal their patients. Of course, the primary physician is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Moreover, the Bible says when we carry one another’s burdens, we will fulfill the law of Christ. Really? How can we fulfill the law of Christ? Remember what Jesus said: The law is summed up by these two commands: love God and love neighbor (Mark. 12:30-31). Therefore, when we love one another deeply through the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives reflect the very one who fulfilled the law for us. So we ourselves can’t fulfill the law, but the Holy Spirit within us can (Eph. 2:7-9).

The Apostle Paul makes it clear it’s only Christ who perfectly obeyed the law.”Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified (Gal. 2:16).”

At first glance, it seems like a contradiction. Paul is saying we can fulfill the law by carrying one another’s burdens, but then he says by the works of the law no one will be justified. So what is he saying? I think Paul means that when we carry one another’s burdens, we reflect the “image of God.” As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40:”The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40).” So when we carry one another’s burdens, we are bearing the image of the one who fulfilled the law by carrying all of our sins on the cross. Praise the Lord!

Here are a few ideas you can do to carry your neighbor’s burdens.

  1. When they share your burden with you, don’t say: “I will pray for you brother.” Instead, say, “Let me pray for you right now!”
  2. Write them a letter, encouraging them to continue fighting through their trials. Remind them that all things work together for their good according to Scripture.
  3. Think of a way you can serve them. If they are elderly, go and rake leaves. If there are busy Moms in your congregation, start up a bible study at the church and offer free childcare.
  4. Meet weekly with a brother or sister over a cup of coffee. Read a book together for accountability purposes and end in prayer.

There are many way a church can carry one another’s burdens. If you have any additional ideas, please feel free to comment below. Have a blessed day!

Trials Shape us to become Great for God

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).”

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a trial as, “a test, usually over a limited period of time, to discover how effective or suitable something or someone is.”

Scripture has many verses concerning trials. The Apostle James tells Christians to rejoice when they go through various trials (Jam. 1:2-3). Jesus reminds his disciples to stand firm during their hardships (Lk. 21:19). Hebrews 6:12 implores the saints not to be sluggish, but imitate a patient attitude through suffering (Heb. 6:12).

I don’t think any of us enjoy trials. In fact, I ask myself the question many times, “Why Lord are you allowing these situations to happen?” The natural man enjoys peace, stability, happiness, and a smooth transition from one life scenario to another. When it becomes disrupted, anxiety sets in.

Recently I resigned from a financially stable ministry position in my hometown. We left a place with many good friends and moved 1,160 miles to a new city with a different culture. It’s been a difficult transition for us. But I am reminded of Abraham when God told him, “Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you (Gen. 12:1).” While it’s hard to leave a location you are familiar with, God has a purpose for it. Instead of trusting in a stable job, God is teaching me to find security in Him.

“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by (Ps. 57:1).”

Are you in a season of trial? What is God teaching you? In the midst of it all, remember that God is shaping you to become great. He is working all things out for your good (Rom. 8:28). Lean on this truth and never give up because God’s heart won’t stop coming after you! The song below exemplifies this beautiful truth.

 

 

A Friendly Dialogue Concerning Baptism

 

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I had a great conversation with a man named David concerning Baptism. Below is our full conversation. Whether you agree or disagree with our positions, it may help you better understand what baptism is and it’s relation to the gospel. Enjoy!

ME: Hey David, thanks for your comments concerning baptism. I appreciate your interpretation of Colossians 2:11-13. It is indeed an important defense for baptism by immersion. As you stated, it clearly symbolizes our own death, burial, and resurrection into Christ.

However, you seem to end water baptism there and disassociate it from “Spirit baptism.” Do you believe water baptism occurs after you are born again and receive the Spirit? If so, are you suggesting there are two baptisms, a water baptism and a spirit baptism? How do you interpret 1 Corinthians 12:13 when it says one faith, one Lord, one baptism?

Also, you mentioned Romans 8. In the two chapters preceding it, the Apostle Paul goes into detail about baptism. Scripture says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Do you believe Romans 6-8, in terms of our union with Christ, is figurative speech? In other words, is Paul talking about the spiritual reality, the water baptism, or both. If it’s only talking about the spiritual reality, then can we be buried into “the spirit” and raised out of “the spirit?” How are we buried into the spirit and raised out of the spirit? I think spirit only would present itself a problem. That’s why most covenantal theologians have no problem with sprinkling instead of immersion because Romans 6 is merely symbolic.

It seems to me this passage is conjoining water and spirit baptism. Of course, its not the water that saves, but an appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Pet. 3:21). However, you appealing to God for a good conscience happens when you repent of your sins and trust God by faith that He will save you “at that moment.”

Also, I am interested in your interpretation of Colossians 2:11-13. I think the strongest argument is not just baptism by immersion, but what water baptism is. First, baptism is not an act of obedience, it’s a testing of faith. “You were raised with Him through faith.” Second, its not a work of obedience. This passage says the opposite. We were raised through faith in the working of God.” Therefore, baptism is more of a promise than an act of obedience post-conversion.

These are just a few thoughts I had. I know there are many questions I have asked you. Thanks for your time. I appreciate your blog and passage to serve the Lord. Have a great night!

DAVID: Thank you for your interest and your comments; I shall try and address your questions in order.

You asked, “Do you believe water baptism occurs after you are born again and receive the Spirit?”

Yes, I do believe that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual mechanism by which we are born again into the body of Christ and occurs at the point of salvation.

You asked, “are you suggesting there are two baptisms, a water baptism and a spirit baptism?”

Yes, I believe there are two baptisms, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and water baptism.

You asked, “How do you interpret 1 Corinthians 12:13 when it says one faith, one Lord, one baptism?”

The reading of 1 Corinthians 12:13 tell us:
“Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”
This is a reference to the unity we all enjoy as Christians; we have all been joined into one body by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation.

You asked, “Do you believe Romans 6-8, in terms of our union with Christ, is figurative speech? ? In other words, is Paul talking about the spiritual reality, the water baptism, or both.”

I believe Romans 6-8 is referring to spiritual reality, not water baptism.

You asked, “If it’s only talking about the spiritual reality, then can we be buried into “the spirit” and raised out of “the spirit?” How are we buried into the spirit and raised out of the spirit?”

You do not specify any verses and I cannot find your specific language in the Bible. If you are referring to the area around Romans 6:4-11 it is translated:

“4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

You asked, “First, baptism is not an act of obedience, it’s a testing of faith. “You were raised with Him through faith.” Second, its not a work of obedience. This passage says the opposite. We were raised through faith in the working of God.” Therefore, baptism is more of a promise than an act of obedience post-conversion.”

I believe water baptism is a matter of both faith and obedience. It is by faith Christians seek water baptism but by being baptized the Christian also follows the instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 where it is written:

“18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Thank you again for your interest and your thoughts.

ME: Thank you for the logical, orderly response. I would like to add a few thoughts to your comments and give you the final word.

Your Response: Yes, I do believe that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual mechanism by which we are born again into the body of Christ and occurs at the point of salvation.

My response: According to Acts 2:38-42, when were the people “added to the church?” Before or after water baptism? If believers are born again before water baptism and brought into the “universal church,” then why does the local church also require water baptism by immersion to become members? Doesn’t the universal and local church reflect the same reality?

Your response: The reading of 1 Corinthians 12:13 tell us:
“Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”This is a reference to the unity we all enjoy as Christians; we have all been joined into one body by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation.

My Response: I agree. I think the focus of this passage is on the idea of unity within the body of Christ. But I don’t think water baptism and spirit baptism are therefore separate events. Let me explain. In the book of Galatians, the Judaizers were rebuked by the Apostle Paul for adding physical circumcision to the gospel. They are telling Gentile believers one must be “circumcised” in order to be saved.

Paul writes in Galatians 3:26-27: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

If baptism were equivalent to circumcision, why does Paul still mention baptism as necessary to become united into Christ? Wouldn’t it have been better for him to say: “Look, people are also telling you one must be baptized in order to be part of the church just like they are doing with circumcision. Ignore these people. All one must do to be saved is “repent and have faith.” But he doesn’t say that and it would have been a perfect analogy since circumcision was the “covenantal rite” to become Jewish.

Your Response: I believe water baptism is a matter of both faith and obedience. It is by faith Christians seek water baptism but by being baptized the Christian also follows the instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20:All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My Response: The great commission is a great verse to reveal the new command Jesus gives. I am encouraged that you do accept water baptism as a matter of faith. There are many verses that explicitly categorize baptism as an act of faith (Gal. 3:26-27, Col. 2:11-13; 1 Pet. 3:21).

Mark 16:16 is the most notable verse since it corresponds with the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Belief and baptism are conjoined here in the Greek as modifying one another. It’s also important to note that this is not spirit baptism since the great commission encourages the church to administer water baptisms to those who “have faith and believe”, like the Ethiopian eunuch and Philippian jailer.

In the Matthew 28:18-20 passage, notice the sequence. First, Jesus tells them to “make disciples.” Second, to water baptize in His name. Third, to teach them to obey. Fourth, to comfort them that His Spirit will be with the disciples to the very end of the age. According to this passage, is baptism mentioned before or after one teaches them to obey? Is baptism included in the “all” I have commanded you? If so, why would baptism precede teaching them to obey? Would you agree that the only way to “teach someone the ways of God” is to receive the Holy Spirit? If so, then why is baptism the start of conversion rather than the start of obedience?

In conclusion, I want to make it clear I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration defined as an automatic sacramental union. That is why I oppose infant baptism. I am a proponent of believer’s baptism since one must have faith and the “cognitive ability” to understand the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Thus, one who is baptized without true belief or repentance can not be saved, no matter how many times they go under the water.

But that doesn’t therefore exclude water baptism from the spiritual reality. It all comes down to “the timing” in which conversion happens. I agree with you that water, repentance, and even our own faith doesn’t save us. It’s God who saves us when he applies His atoning work on the cross for our sins. Does that happen before faith as the Reformed Baptists would argue? Does it happen by “faith only” as the Grace Evangelical Society would argue? Does it happen by “faith and repentance” as the Southern Baptists would mostly argue? Or, does it happen by faith, repentance, and baptism as the Restoration movement/Churches of Christ would argue?

When baptism is properly defined as “faith”, just like “repentance,” I think it needs to be included in the gospel. If it is an act of post-conversion, then ironically, I think those who hold this view are adding to the gospel. They may say one must repent and believe, but they take baptism to be an act of obedience. And if it’s a “gift” a “promise” something that we receive during the moment of our salvation, then essentially people are getting baptized for the wrong reason. They are getting baptized to “show the world what has already happened,” even though they haven’t been saved. They want to be more mature disciples of Christ, so they get baptized, not knowing that they can’t even grow in their faith without the promise of the Holy Spirit, which comes after baptism.”

I was trained under The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to include faith and repentance so I understand your perspective. I truly had this presupposition for a long time. I trust you are a Berean and will search the Scriptures to see if what I am saying is true. Keep up the good work brother. All praise and glory to God.

DAVID: Thank you again for your interest in the subject of water baptism and salvation.

Here are my thoughts on your questions and comments.

Your response: According to Acts 2:38-42, when were the people “added to the church?” Before or after water baptism? If believers are born again before water baptism and brought into the “universal church,” then why does the local church also require water baptism by immersion to become members? Doesn’t the universal and local church reflect the same reality?

My response: At salvation Christians are added to the true church at the time the Holy Spirit baptizes then into the body of Christ. Only after they are born again are they baptized in water.
Water baptism as required by churches for membership may be an effort to follow the great commission. The eternal true assembly of believers and the local church may or may not reflect the same reality; in such matters the Bible must be the final word.

Your response in part: why does Paul still mention baptism as necessary to become united into Christ?”

My conclusion: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an integral part of salvation; this is the baptism Paul references, not water baptism. While the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ is the essential starting point for being born again and adoption into the family of God, water baptism comes only as a result of the changed status of the individual and has no instrumental part in the process of salvation.

ME: David, thanks for your comments sir. The last point I want to make regarding the Romans 6 passage is it’s difficult, based on the context of these verses, to deny it’s relation to water baptism. Why then argue for the mode of baptism by immersion if it doesn’t accurately reflect our union with Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection? So, you would agree with the mode of baptism as immersion, but this event reflects a previous spiritual conversion? So then, does conversion happen before faith, at the moment of faith, or when one has faith and begins to repent of their sins?

Moreover, this is not just an isolated verse. Many scripture passages relate to being baptized into the “name of Christ (Mk. 16: Matt. 28; Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:26-27), calling on the name of the Lord to be saved (Acts 22:16; Rom. 8, 1 Pet. 3:21). And most of these passages have in mind water baptism. The great commission, Ethiopian eunuch, Philippian jailer, and most importantly, Saul of Tarsus. He was told by Ananias, “get up, be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on his name.” To get up is an action verb and it has in mind location. This is not spirit baptism, but the time in which he is immersed by Ananias. I think you would agree with this, but you would argue either he was saved “when blinded by the light” or “when he called on the name of the Lord” shortly before his baptism.

Dr. Schreiner, who is a great theologian that wrote the Baker Exegetical study on Romans admits this, but his presuppositions of Baptist teaching doesn’t allow him to ascertain the thought of water and spirit baptism being conjoined. This is what he wrote:“Christians would have inevitably thought of water baptism since it was the universal initiation rite for believers in Christ. Moreover, Paul probably loosely associated baptism with water and baptism by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), since both of these occurred at conversion. Thus any attempt to distinguish between Spirit baptism and water baptism in the Pauline writings goes beyond what Paul himself wrote. Thomas Schreiner, Romans: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic Press, 1998), p.306-307. Stott is correct in saying that Paul was thinking of water baptism here, but it would never have occurred to Paul that baptism in water could be separated from baptism in the spirit (Contra Stott, 1994, p.173).

It’s amazing, based on his own commentary writings, that he still denies that water and spirit baptism happen at the same time. If Schreiner does, he would no longer be part of the Southern Baptist Churches because people would accuse him of “baptismal regeneration.” But the irony here is that he admits Pauline writings make it difficult to separate the two. When I asked Schreiner about Luther’s view on baptism (because Luther did hold to a sacramental idea of baptism, and of course, is the main proponent of justification by faith alone), Schreiner said Luther got it wrong. I think Luther was write when he said “faith has to cling to the water.”

It was a friendly dialogue. In my next post, I will explain each Scripture reference in detail. Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day!