January 28, 2007
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Commentary — From the Margins
What’s absent from Scripture?
Before examining Christ’s justification for His Sabbath saving activities, attention should be drawn to the verb “answered—άπεχρίνατο” used by John to introduce Christ’s defense. Mario Veloso, in his incisive analysis of this passage, notes that this verbal form occurs only twice in John (Veloso, Mario. El Compromiso Cristiano. 1975; pp 118-119). The first time when Christ replies to the accusation of the Jews (5:17) and the second time when He clarifies the answer given (5:19). The common form used by John over fifty times is “άπεχρίθη” which in English is also translated “answered.” The special use of the middle voice of the verb “άπεχρίνατο” implies, on the one hand as Veloso explains, a public and formal defense and on the other hand, as expressed by J. H. Moulton, that “the agent is extremely related to the action” (Moulton, J.H. A grammar of the New Testament Greek. 1908; pp. 153, 157). This means not only that Christ makes a formal defense but that He also identifies Himself with the content of His answer. The few words of Christ’s defense deserve, therefore, careful attention.
—Samuele Bacchiocchi Ph.D.
(From Sabbath to Sunday.
This Commentary will be first of several that address the issue of scholarship. To keep these Commentaries from becoming too long, they will be broken into approximately six to seven thousand word lengths.
At the time of the Feast of Dedication, Jesus, in the temple, was asked by the Jews, ‘“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly’” (John 10:24). But Jesus did not then even speak to His own disciples plainly. On the Preparation Day, the day of His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf’” (John 16:25-26). So that day was not the Preparation Day as His disciples then thought (v. 29); for the period when the first disciples would ask the Father directly in Jesus’ name did not begin until after Calvary, until after they were born of Spirit through receipt of the divine Breath of God.
After Jesus told the crowd that followed Him a
series of parables, Matthew records, “All these things Jesus said to the
crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was
to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in
parables; / I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the
world’” (Matt 13:34-35; cf.
Ps 78:2-3 — note Ps 78:4. The dark things of God will not be forever
However, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him why He spoke in parables, He answered, ‘“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the gathered crowd] it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’” (Matt 13:11-13).
The hidden things of God are not to be revealed to human beings who have not been born of Spirit; for without being born of Spirit, no person can understand these hidden things of God … circular reasoning certainly, but the logic for why even those who are born of Spirit wrestle to understand earthly examples [i.e., metaphors] of heavenly things. And perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to understand is that the man Jesus, entering His creation as His son, His only (John 3:16), did not speak His own words during His earthly ministry, but spoke the words of His spiritual Father, the Most High God, Θεον, previously not known to Israel. His actual Father, Θεος, was the Logos [Λογος], the spokesman for the Most High. Their relationship is disclosed by Moses being as God to Aaron (Exod 4:16), two brothers according to the flesh, with Aaron delivering the words of Moses to Israel, the two functioning as one entity in a manner analogous to how a man and his wife become one flesh through unity even though they are two. For YHWH Elohim made humankind in the image of YHWH Elohim; “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). So the “female” aspect of God is contained in the Logos, who came as the man Jesus.
The hidden things of God that cannot be understood through human intellect have the Woman speaking not her own words but the words of her Husband yesterday, today, and tomorrow, changing not (Heb 13:8). This “Woman” or Helpmate caused the physical universe to come into being (John 1:3), then brought life to the first Adam (Gen 2:7) before entering His creation as the man Jesus (John 1:14). Gender-specific nouns and pronouns hinder understanding the hidden things of God, those things that are concealed by the physical creation, and concealed within the patriarchal structure of Judaism and Christendom. The man Jesus did not avoid women, nor did He socially discriminate against women. Rather, He was in the company of women while leading about twelve male disciples, chosen by the Father (John 6:44; 17:6). Therefore, within the scope of the Apostle Paul’s instructions in his epistles, the prevention of a woman by men other than her husband from speaking the words of the Father exists as an affront to the Creator of all that is, the Woman or Helpmate of the Most High God. But for the sake of the angels who know that Theos [Θεος] was the Helpmate of Theon [Θεοn] before He “died” in the heavenly realm by entering His creation as His Son, biological women are not to exercise authority over biological men. Theos did not exercise authority over Theon; nor does the glorified Son exercise authority over the Father. So women are to learn quietly at home until the one under whose authority they are sends them forth to speak the husband’s words … as a Christian, the only words that are to be spoken are those of the Father. When sent forth as Theon sent Theos into His creation, the woman can speak all of the words of her husband as long as those words are also the words of the Father.
A wife is not in subjection to many men, but to her husband as the husband is in subjection to Christ Jesus. Therefore, the woman without a husband is not in subjection to strangers, but to Christ Jesus. She is not to speak unless given permission to do so by Christ, a situation that occurs when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh and a condition that can be manifest before the baptism of the world in Spirit. But because of the potential abuse of this latter condition, the one (male or female) who claims to have been sent by Christ to speak but has not been condemns him or herself to the lake of fire. No amount of worldly acclaim or fiscal security is worth condemnation, especially when humankind is this close to the return of Christ Jesus.
A woman should carefully consider coming under the subjection of her husband before she marries; for once she marries, she agrees that her husband shall be her lord, an archaic idea fully supported in Scripture—
When Jesus asked His disciples who do people say
that the Son of Man is, He received answers that reflected popular concepts
within Israel: ‘“Some say John the Baptist, other say Elijah, and
others Jeremiah or one of the prophets’” (Matt 16:14). Jesus then
modified His question, asking, ‘“But who do you say that I
am’” (v. 15). Peter
answered, ‘“You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God’” (v. 16). Jesus then
said that no human being had revealed that knowledge to Peter, that the Father
had made this known to Peter, and He said, ‘“And I tell you, you
are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it’” (v.
18) … what did Jesus mean when He said that the gates of Hades would not
prevail against the called-out ones? He certainly did not mean that there would
not be a falling away from Truth, for all in Asia had left Paul (2 Tim 1:15),
who laid the foundation for the heavenly house of God, this foundation being
Christ Jesus (1 Cor 3:10-11), while Paul still lived. Plus, those in
Called-out disciples form the spiritual Body of the Son of Man, with Christ Jesus being the uncovered Head of this Son of Man. The Apostle Paul wrote,
Therefore, as the trespass of one led to condemnation for all men, so the act of righteousness of one leads to justification and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass [no sin was counted against humankind before the coming of the law – Rom 5:13], but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. (Rom 5:18-6:4)
Wedged in the lacunae between Calvary and when the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Father and His Son (Rev 11:15; cf. Dan 7:9-14) halfway through seven endtime years of tribulation is the entirety of the Church era or Church age, the period of time that began when Jesus breathed on ten of His disciples and said, ‘“Receive the Holy Spirit [Πνευμα Άγιον or Breath Holy]’” (John 20:22), and that ends when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28), thereby ending being “called-out.”
The έκκλησία or Church was baptized into Jesus’ death in order that, as Christ was raised from the dead, the Church could walk in newness of life; i.e., in a new life of obedience to God. Thus, the Apostle Paul continues,
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. We know that our old self 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. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom 6:5-17)
Sin is, simply, the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). The person who breaks the law in one point breaks the law, and is a sinner, having presented him or herself as a willing servant to sin. Before being born of Spirit, every disciple was consigned to sin (Rom 11:32) as a son of disobedience (Eph 2:2-3). The person had no choice, but was condemned to disobedience because of one man. However, the new creature born of Spirit is born free, and sin has no dominion over this new creature unless this new creature voluntarily presents itself to sin as its willing servant. So, since sin no longer has dominion over the called-out ones, the Church, these called-out ones can be raised from the dead as the glory of the Father raised Jesus from the dead, with this resurrection from the dead to occur when judgments are revealed (1 Cor 4:5) upon Christ’s return.
But once Jesus was made sin on the Cross, His body died, and He laid dead in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. And the body of Him who was without sin, yet who voluntarily took sin onto Himself, serves as the shadow and copy [the type] of disciples domiciled in tents of flesh in which sin and death continue to reside. Collectively, disciples form the Body of Christ. So when this sinless Body—made righteous through grace—voluntarily takes sin into itself, it too will die as Jesus died; for it too has been crucified on the Cross with Jesus. And without here constructing an elaborate argument, this Body voluntarily took sin into itself when it ceased keeping the Sabbath commandment.
If the Body of Christ voluntarily returns to
disobedience, this Body will die! The gates of hell, however, will not prevail
over the Church just as the gates of hell could not prevail over the earthly
body of the man Jesus. What was buried as the perishable body of the man Jesus
was resurrected to become the imperishable body of the glorified Christ Jesus.
What was buried in spiritual
Three and a half days occur between when Jesus dies on the Cross (about the 9th hour of the day portion of the 14th of Abib, the Preparation Day for the first High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread) and when He appears before the Father as the reality of the Wave Sheaf Offering, offered about the 3rd hour of the weekly Sabbath that occurs within the week of Unleavened Bread. For three days and three nights of these three and a half days, He lies dead in the Garden Tomb.
As the sun sets on the 14th of Abib, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take the body of Jesus from the Cross, bind it in linen cloths with spices, and place it in the Garden Tomb. Thus, Jesus lies in heart of the earth all of the 15th of Abib, the first high Sabbath of Unleavened Bread, and all of the 16th of Abib, the day when the women who had come with Him from Galilee saw the tomb and how his body was laid and went to prepare spices and ointments (Luke 23:56), work they would not have done on the high Sabbath. Jesus continued to lie in the Garden Tomb all of the 17th, the weekly Sabbath, when the women rested according to the commandment … three days and three nights were up when the weekly Sabbath ended at the beginning of the 18th of Abib, the first day of the week. Daylight was still twelve hours away. But according to Jesus’ prophecy of Himself, and according to the Hebraic story of Jonah in which linguistic ambiguity as to how long Jonah was in the belly of the fish does not exist, Jesus was resurrected at the beginning of the first day of the week, hours before Mary Magdalene found that the stone had been rolled from the tomb’s entrance.
What did Jesus do during those twelve hours between when He was resurrected and when dawn came? And what do these twelve unaccounted-for hours signify?
During the three hours between when Jesus died and when His body was placed in the Garden Tomb, the body of Jesus was visible to all in Jerusalem to see if they so desired. His dead body was then concealed in the heart of the earth and in darkness for three and a half days. Only when the sun rose after three days was the body of Jesus again visible, but not immediately recognizable. His voice, though, remained recognizable. And even after He had ascended to His Father and had returned, He was not recognizable to the two disciples going to Emmaus.
Everything recorded in Scripture forms the shadow and copy of the heavenly Book of Life in which the lives of disciples are epistles written with Spirit on tablets of flesh.
The Body of Christ Jesus—the called out saints—was visible in Jerusalem for three plus decades after Calvary, but once the visible Body of Christ flees to Pella, the Body becomes invisible in a manner similar to how Jesus’ body was buried for three days and three nights. Oh, Christian fellowships continued to visibly exist, especially the ones that left Paul while he yet lived. But these fellowships failed to understand grace as the garment of Christ Jesus’ righteousness. These fellowships were predominantly Greek; they had Greek values, Greek assumptions, Greek traditions and practices. They began to spurn everything Jewish. And they died spiritually—those individuals whom the Father had made alive by causing called-out human beings to be born of Spirit voluntarily returned to being bondservants to sin and death.
But the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church.
As the earthly body of the man Jesus was
resurrected after three days and three nights, the spiritual Body of the Son of
Man will be resurrected on the year of Jubilee after a period spiritually
equivalent to the three days and three nights. The suggestion of Scripture is
that this resurrection to life occurs on the Second Passover liberation of
The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church because the spiritual Body of Christ will be resurrected from death as the physical body of Christ was resurrected some twelve hours before dawn, with spiritual dawn to occur when the Lord fights against armies surrounding Jerusalem on a day of battle (Zech 14:3-4).
In all things pertaining to Scripture, the visible reveals the invisible (Rom 1:20), and the physical precedes the spiritual (1 Cor 15:46). Thus, what happens to Jesus’ visible, physical body forms the shadow and copy of what happens to His invisible, spiritual Body, the assembly of called-out disciples that began the afternoon of the day Jesus ascended to the Father after His resurrection from the bowels of the earth.
Jesus’ physical body hung visibly lifeless on the Cross before being concealed in the Garden Tomb. It is difficult to contemplate that despite the flourish of activity recorded in Acts, the early Church—between the Circumcision Factor and those fellowships that left Paul—was not the living, vibrant Body of Christ, but the spiritual reality of His crucified body before being anointed with spices. For too long, the smell of anointing spices has wafted through historical narratives, concealing from the senses what was plainly evident: the Body of Christ was dead in its lawlessness. Only a disciple here and one there had life.
God dwells in timelessness. All units of time pertain to this world. So saying how long the physical twelve hours of darkness on the first day of the week represent spiritually might not be yet possible. Needless to say, the unit of time is much shorter than the period during which the Body of Christ laid dead in the heart of the earth. And the plain speech of Jesus, unrecorded in Scripture, would have conveyed knowledge to the first disciples that will not again be available until the Body is resurrected from death, or immediately preceding this resurrection.
Two concepts concealed from Judaism and from Hellenist disciples by the physicalness of the creation are that (1) the heavenly realm or dimension is timeless, and that (2) Genesis “P” creation account is the abstract of the plan of God, which is not a redemptive work but is a creative work that will not be finished until the great White Throne Judgment is complete. This latter concept is open to being refuted by Jesus, for on the Cross and immediately before He died, He said, ‘“It is finished’” (John 19:30). Yes, Jesus’ work of creating was finished, but Jesus was born the natural Son of the Logos who was Theos [Θεος], not Theon [Θεον] (John 1:1-2). He became the beloved Son of Theon when the divine Breath of the Most High descended upon Him as a dove (Matt 3:16-17). So again, before receiving a second life from receipt of the Breath of God, the man Jesus was the only Son of Theos, who created the physical universe and all that is in it (John 1:3), so Theos’ work of creating was finished on the Cross. But the work of Theon had only begun: the work of Theon is that of the spiritual creation foreshadowed and anticipated by the physical creation. Thus, two births become the model for fulfilling all righteousness (Matt 3:15), with this second birth being of Spirit. Jesus was not born with an immortal soul: there would have been no need to visibly receive the divine Breath of God [Πνευμα Άγιον] to fulfill all righteousness if the descendants of the first Adam were born with immortal souls … when resurrected from death, Jesus ascended to the throne of Theon, His Father and His God (John 20:17), where He was accepted as the First of the firstfruits, the first sheaf of the early barley harvest. And the called-out ones, the έκκλησία, form the remainder of this spring barley harvest, but before they can be accepted [or rejected] they must first be born of Spirit (John 3:3-8), grow, mature or ripen, and be harvested.
Before any human being enters the kingdom of
heaven, the human being must be twice born, and twice given life spiritually.
The first birth is of the water of the womb; the second birth is of Spirit,
with this birth coming from the Father giving spiritual life that will be
domiciled in a tent of flesh. The second giving of spiritual life comes from
the glorified Son (John 5:21) when He causes the mortal flesh to become
immortal, changing from perishable to imperishable. Thus, the first birth comes
from Elohim [singular in usage]
breathing physical life into the nostrils of the first Adam (Gen 2:7), with
this one member of the plural Elohim
being Yah or Theos, the front half of the Tetragrammaton YHWH, which deconstructs to the radicals /YH/ + /WH/, agreeing in
number and quality with what John writes at the beginning of his gospel. Elohim is the regular plural of Eloah, which deconstructs to /El/ + /ah/, with the radical /ah/
linguistically representing breath or aspiration (the radical /El/ is the Hebrew linguistic icon used
for /God/, as seen in El Shaddai, God
Almighty). The Apostle Paul separates the Breath of Christ
Χριστου] (Rom 8:9) from the Breath of the
one who raised Christ from the dead [Πνευμα
νεκρων] (Rom 8:11). Therefore, what the early
Christology debates failed to incorporate (because the Body was dead in sin) is
what Jesus came to reveal, the Father. The Logos
as Theos was the only deity that
ancient Israel knew although King David understood that Yah represented only the visible or revealed portion of YHWH (Ps 146:1; 148:1; 149:1).
The Apostle Paul began his epistles with some form of saying, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” He does not give personhood to the Breath of either Jesus or to the Breath of the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead. It is the dead Body of Christ that assigns personhood to the Breath of God; it is the dead Body that denies that Theos was the only God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew. So for Christians God is neither a trinity, nor a single entity: God is two that function as one, with the “female” half of the two doing the actual work of creating the physical universe, a work finished on the Cross when the pathway between the creative work of Theos and Theon was completed. And in a visualization of the work of these two, physically living human beings prior to be born of Spirit can be perceived as the unfertilized ovum in the womb of a woman. The womb now becomes the creation. Fertilization is birth by Spirit, coming from the Father. Incubation is the period when this spiritual life remains domiciled in a tent of flesh. Birth becomes glorification, but this birth comes to those who have already been made spiritually alive. Hence, prior to being born of Spirit, the ovum [the living person] has no spiritual life, no immortal soul, no anything but the life received from the cellular oxidation of sugars. The flesh is activated dead clay.
A genuine Christian is a Binitarian, for Jesus has revealed the Father to His disciples.
And the redemption of
Over the centuries, much scholarship has been produced about the work of God being a redemptive work, a redeeming of fallen humankind from sin. Contained within all of this scholarship is the assumption that human beings are born with immortal souls, but this assumption comes not from Moses or the Prophets, but from Hellenist philosophy which borrowed the idea from the Egyptians. And as the first Eve believed the serpent when it said, ‘“You will not surely die”’ (Gen 3:4), the last Eve believed that old serpent, Satan the devil, when he said, “You will not surely die; you have an immortal soul.” Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man … For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Tim 2:12-14). The last Adam, Christ Jesus (1 Cor 15:45; Rom 5:14), was created first, and He was not deceived by Satan, but overcame Satan. However, the last Eve, the Church, was deceived and became a transgressor, dead in her sins even after being made alive by the Father.
When it comes to plain talk, referencing the scholarship of those who have voluntarily made themselves bondservants to sin is not particularly helpful. Likewise, the scholarship of those natural Israelites who have not yet been born of Spirit is not terribly helpful. And what a person is left-with is hearing the voice of Jesus, an unreliable source of knowledge as far as academia is concerned.
A little modern work has been done by Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, who was treated as a separated brother while he completed his graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; but even Dr. Bacchiocchi suffers from assigning personhood to the divine Breath of God, and from the dead Body’s historic acceptance of the Serpent’s lie that human beings will not surely die. Therefore, while Dr. Bacchiocchi raises valid objections to the lawless church’s practice of worshipping God on the 8th day, his conclusions are either seriously flawed, or incomplete at best. Nevertheless, because he raises valid objections, and because he records how others have noticed the connection between the Sabbath and Passover, some of his scholarship will be cited.
Before proceeding, though, one important scriptural passage needs examined:
Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:9-18)
As Aaron spoke only Moses’ words to Israel [with the notable exception of the golden calf incident], Yah as the Logos spoke only the words of the Father to Israel before He came as His Son, His only, and He spoke only the words of the Father after He came as the man Jesus of Nazareth. He did not speak His own words.
Words come from the modulated breath of a person. The words of God come from the modulated Breath of God. The utterances of the Father through the modulated divine Breath of God [the Holy Spirit], however, are not limited to the movement of air in sound waves. Rather, the words of the Father are speech-acts that include performance as well as sound. Since Jesus did not speak any of His words, but only the words/speech-acts of the Father, the miracles Jesus performed become the speech-acts of the Father, who dwells in timelessness.
Without the passage of one moment to the next moment in heaven, all activity takes place within the same moment … heaven, itself, is represented by the Sabbath rest. Therefore, the Father’s delivery of His speech-acts on a particular day within the created universe causes special significance to be assigned to that day; for the Father could have delivered His speech-acts on any day of the week or month or year. He does all of His work within the same moment; so He has to make a concerted effort to have His speech-acts delivered on a particular day if they are not to be delivered on any changing moment within time. In plainer speech, if the Father did not choose to figuratively deliver a sermon on the Sabbath through His speech-act of healing the invalid, He would have caused the invalid to be healed on another day, or most likely, healed without any attention being attracted by the healing.
Therefore, by Jesus delivering the speech-acts of the Father on the Sabbath, the Father does more than connect the Sabbath to the redemptive work of God. The Father places His stamp of approval on the Sabbath, thus transferring the holiness of YHWH Elohim resting on the seventh day to the work He does through the man Jesus, this work the on-going activity of giving life to that which is dead—and this work had only begun with the man Jesus. Understand: the man Jesus as the last Adam was the first human being to be twice born. Because His natural Father had not descended from the first Adam but was Theos, the Spokesman for the Father, Jesus was not born consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32) as all other human beings had been since the first Adam was driven from the garden of God; and because Jesus was not born the bondservant of lawlessness, He was free to keep the commandments of God, which He had uttered from atop Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are His commandments, just as they are the Father’s.
Jesus was born of water from the womb of Mary, a woman greatly honored, but nevertheless a human being who had not yet been, at the time of Jesus’ birth, born of Spirit. Jesus was born of Spirit when the divine Breath of the Father descended upon Him as a dove. He was first. He was, at that moment when the dove lit, again given life in the heavenly realm—and this is what He meant when He said He must fulfill all righteousness. This is what John the Baptist did not understand. And this is what those early Church fathers were never able to grasp during their Christology debates.
Jesus had been twice made alive when He was crucified; yet, He still did not have the glory He had before He entered His creation as His only Son. Thus, His prayer just prior to being taken was that the Father should glorify Him in the Father’s presence, returning to Him the glory He had before He “died” in the heavenly realm by entering His creation as His Son [if He had come as Himself, He would have come in a glorified body, not in a tent of flesh] (John 17:5).
The body of the man Jesus, which would again be
given glory, died on the Cross at
But the body of flesh only had one of the two lives Jesus possessed when crucified. What happened to this other life is a little vague, for the Apostle Peter says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey” (1 Pet 3:18-20 emphasis added). And the question emerges: can life without a body or a tent, mortal or immortal, proclaim obedience to imprisoned spirits, or fallen angels? Jesus, who spoke plainly to Peter during the forty days, apparently told Peter something that Peter only partially addresses or develops. However, for disciples who had no life in the heavenly realm prior to being born of Spirit, this spiritual life “sleeps” as described when the fifth seal will be opened by the Lamb on the Lord’s day:
When he [the Lamb] opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Rev 6:9-11)
At death, the body every disciple had prior to being born of Spirit will return to dust. The life that animated this body will dissipate into nothingness, but the life that came from being born of Spirit will return to God, where it has been recorded in the Book of Life. It is this life that now awaits the hour of judgment, either in a tent of flesh or under the altar.
The historic Sabbatarian Churches of God have taught that the physical breath of the person returned to God when a person dies, but this physical breath came only indirectly from God. What came directly from God—and what these Churches deny that saints possess—is life in the heavenly realm, this life coming through being born of Spirit … prior to be drawn by the Father from the world, a person is [shallow] breath and body, “psuche and soma—ψυχήν καί σωμα.” But after being drawn and being born of Spirit, the person is [deep] breath and [shallow] breath and the body, “πνευμα καί ή ψυχή καί τό σωμα” (1 Thess 5:23). Life from deep breath is life from being born of Spirit, whereas life from shallow breath is life coming from the first Adam and first Eve. Thus, every disciple has been born of Spirit, but only those whom the Father has drawn from the world, the έκκλησία, presently have life in the heavenly realm, or in that portion of the heavenly realm within the void formed when the fabric of heaven ruptured. And what becomes readily apparent is the lack of spiritual understanding possessed by the Sabbatarian Churches of God.
Allow me to here pause—I’ll pick up this third section when I return to this extended Commentary after putting wood in the fire. But I would like to place as much of this piece as has been completed on the Web as soon as possible, the advantage of electronic publication, so I’m now giving this to my spokesperson, my wife, who delivers my words to those who read or listen.
. With God, there is no biological gender, male or female, but the spiritual relationship contained within the metaphor of Husband and Wife was first applicable to Theon and Theos before Theos entered His creation as His only Son. This metaphoric relationship will apply to the glorified Son and to glorified saints when the Bridegroom “marries” His Bride.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."