Sunday, April 9, 2017

The gates of Death Shall not prevail

I am positing a theory here that other Christians have had. What if when Jesus says "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."- Matt 16:18 he wasn't talking about an onslaught from Hell, we are part of the church militant, and gates don't attack, gates fortify. So, Jesus is saying not that despite on slaught and heresies from the devil the church will survive. That may be true, however; it seems the main point is that the Church will over come to the Devil (see Revelation), that death will not overcome them because, in fact, "The Gates of Hell" is a Hebrewism that means "death."

"The phrase pulai hadou (gates of hell) is a Jewish expression meaning “realm of the dead.” The same two words appear in the Septuagint Version of Job 38:17: “Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness [ puloroi de hadou]?” They appear again in Isaiah 38:10: “I said in the middle of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol [pulais hadou] for the rest of my years.” In both passages, pulai hadou is a euphemism for death. Notice the parallelism in both passages. The first half of each verse clarifies that the second half of the verse is not about hell but about death. The gates of hell represent the passageway from this life to the grave."- Kevin DeYoung

"From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!e This shall never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matt 16:21-23

notably just after Jesus speaks of the gates of Hell not prevailing he reminds his disciples that he is about to die. Again this seems to point even more to Jesus meaning that death won't overcome the confession of Jesus as Lord in fact, just after this he says to follow him one must take up their cross! The message seems loud and clear persecution is coming, Jesus will be handed over and killed on the cross. "“(Jesus) speaks from this time lowly things, on His way to His passion, that He may show His humanity. For He that has built His church upon Peter’s confession, and has so fortified it, that ten thousand dangers and deaths are not to prevail over it…” (NPNF Vol. 10, p. 494)- John Chrysostom

But, when the time comes where the disciples are terrified and think "This must mean he isn't the Messiah" Jesus is, instead, conquering the gates of Hell.

Ephesians 4:8 provides an even more profound look at this, "This is why it[a] says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people."

Here, we see Jesus has over came death, he marched into enemy territory and took captives to parade them and proclaim "I have trampled over death by death." And he appeared to his disciples to proclaim the same. The confession of Christ is at war and over coming death and hell for it will cast both into the lake of fire. In fact, we know that "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." - 1 Cor 15:26

May the peace of Christ be with you always and may you have a blessed Holy week as we march towards the feast of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

John 1 and John 6 Eucharistic and incarnational theology *rough draft

What if I told you John 6 is commentary on John 1. Because John 6 is application of Incarnational theology where Jesus explains that in coming from heaven he has come to nourish us and set us free. He is the bread from heaven as he is the word from heaven (John 1:14) so that when people read John 6:63-64 and think that Jesus is speaking metaphorically the whole time and that the flesh doesn't give life meaning he is just speaking spiritual are missing that the flesh giving life is not about denying the eucharist. It is about denying that we can give ourselves life to speak of John 6 as being purely metaphorical is to miss the incarnational theology because, if Jesus was speaking symbolically and physical matter is meaningless then what of him saying that he says "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."- John 6:51. With the physical importance proven and showing that he could not have been speaking on a purely spiritual plain since this is detailing John 1 we must then ask "Is this Eucharistic?" I would argue yes because a.) The greek used in John 6 for "eat" literally means to Chew or to gnaw "τρωγων verb - present active participle - nominative singular masculine
trogo tro'-go: to gnaw or chew, i.e. (generally) to eat -- eat." b.) if Jesus is speaking about a literal reality then we must recognize that in the Old testament if you did not eat the sacrifice you did not find forgiveness. c.) Paul makes this same connection in 1 Corinthians 10:16-20 "1 Corinthians 10:16-20New International Version (NIV)
16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons." So go ahead and deny the eucharist but in so doing you draw questions to the meaning of the cross and the incarnation

The case for Paul as the author ot Hebrews using biblical themes.

While it is uncertain who the author is, many in the early church believed it to have been written by Paul. Including Clement who said, "Paul, as sent to the Gentiles, on account of his modesty did not subscribe himself an apostle of the Hebrews, through respect for the Lord, and because being a herald and apostle of the Gentiles he wrote to the Hebrews out of his superabundance." The Epistle begins with the statement that Jesus is the radiance and imprint of God (similar to Colossians 1:15). After that the Epistle gives a large section of Old Testament passages to connect them to who Jesus is.

Chapter 2 addresses a warning about neglecting our salvation because we have such a great and powerful message from  God himself. Another notable verse is the reference to God putting all things under his [Jesus'] feet which is a reference from Psalms as well as being found in 1 Corinthians 15:27 ad Ephesians 1:22.

As a the author continues to set up his account of Jesus is in Chapter 3 he compares Jesus with Moses, whom Jews think of as being the greatest prophet, which is especially interesting when you consider that Moses said a prophet would be risen up who would be like him but greater. (See  Deuteronomy 18:15). Therefore, the author spends chapters 3-5 showing, using Old Testament themes, that Jesus is the new High Priest, and comparing the believers to the Jews who were under Moses (a theme also present in 1 Corinthians 10).

Hebrews 6 speaks about leaving behind the elementary doctrines of things like washings, laying on of hands, and the resurrection. After this and a warning about falling away, the Epistle focuses on the certainty of God's promises using the life of Abraham which he leads into the obscure character who, like Jesus, is the prince of peace, and king of righteousness. Further, this character provides Abraham with bread and wine which is a likely allusion to the Eucharist that would be instituted by Christ in the New Testament, and Abraham gives him an offering (tithe). The author then in Chapter 7-10 speaks of this new and better covenant on account of what Jesus has done using plethora of Old Testament language.

Again these themes are reminiscent of themes common through out the Old Testament which have a heavy emphasis on the New Covenant obtained through Jesus' blood. However, it is also true that Paul was the Apostle who seems to have focused the most on the New Covenant through the cross.

Interestingly, another use of Old Testament imagery to further Christology is found in Hebrews 10:22 there is a particularly interesting point which finds its parallel in Ezekiel 36:25 where it says "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you." Again, as elsewhere, we see Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, in this case, it seems it is through the cross and his institution of baptism both common themes in most of Paul's Epistles (See Titus 3:5-7, Romans 6, Ephesians 5:26 etc.). Further, in chapter 10 the author speaks of us of us entering the holiest place through the curtain, i.e., Christ. It is possible this is also more Old Testament imagery as the tent where the Ark was held during the Exodus had a curtain made from the skin and hair an animal, and it was stained red (Exodus 26). If this is a Christological connection, it would show that we can enter the holiest place through what Jesus has done upon the cross.

Next, the author speaks about faith in Chapter 11 specifically going into a long list of Old Testament examples of faith. Including a reference to people trusting in a better resurrection which seems to mirror a story from 2 Maccabees 7. The Epistle then speaks about throwing off the weight of our sin and running this race in 12:1 (see also 1 Corinthians 9:24-27) and about Jesus' willingness to endure the cross for us which is a common theme throughout the Old Testament and especially in Paul's epistles.

The letter concludes with encouragement to endure and train our bodies that we may present ourseleves as living sacrifices to God (see also Romans 12:1-2). And with a final greeting in which Timothy, one of Paul's closest co-workers in the gospel, being mentioned as being released.

Thus, while there is plenty to argue against Paul's authorship there seems to be a significant amount of common images and argumentation style compounded by the Ante-Niuean witness of Paul being the Author that if it was not, in fact, Paul it must clearly have been someone who knew him and his epistles very well.