N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 37 (Death enters the world)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:12-13, Part 2

(Rom. 5:12-13 ESV)  12 Therefore, just as [Sin] came into the world through one man [Adam], and [eternal] death through [Sin], and so [eternal] death spread to all men because all sinned — 13 for [Sin] indeed was in the world before the [Torah] was given, but [Sin] is not counted where there is no [Torah].

Paul’s context

Paul sees the early accounts of Adam and Eve as quite literal. And so to make sense of Abraham, he has to explain why God entered into covenant with him. And it’s ultimately because of Adam’s sin — which allowed in the Creation what Wright calls “Sin” — resulting in “death” and the corruption of not only men, but also the corruption of all Creation (which Paul will address in Rom 8).

But it is the language of justification, not so much of reconciliation, that dominates the summary (in 5:12–21) of where the argument has got to so far. The force of the Adam—Christ contrast grows directly out of the long argument concerning Abraham, since God’s purpose in calling Abraham, as we have seen, was to deal with the problem created through Adam. If God has now been true to the promises to Abraham, it must mean that the long entail of sin and death has been overcome, so that the way is clear to the rescue of human beings and, through them, the rescue of the whole of creation.

Tom Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2009), 199.

“Sin,” Part 2

Wright says regarding “Sin”,

In Romans 5 Paul moves quietly from talking about “sins,” plural, to “Sin,” singular. In 5:12 he talks of “sin” entering the world, bringing death in its train. “Sin” is being treated as an active power, more than simply the sum total of all human wrongdoing. This accords, of course, with the analysis I have given earlier of how “sin” is actually the result of idolatry, in which humans hand over their God-given powers to other “forces,” which then enslave them.

… Indeed, Romans 5:12 (“Sin came into the world through one human being, and death through sin, and in that way death spread to all humans, in that all sinned”) functions as a short summary of the whole section 1:18–2:16. But in Romans 5: 12–8:4 — the sequence stops rather abruptly at 8:4, for reasons we shall discover — Paul speaks of Sin, the enslaving power. And this will enable him to give his fullest and clearest statement of how “Sin” and therefore “sins” are ultimately dealt with, so that, with the “exile” of death itself being over, the “age to come” of resurrection life can at last begin.

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 4501-4510). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

“Death,” Part 2

One potentially helpful way of understanding the entry of death into the world through the first human sin is to see “death” here as more than simply the natural decay and corruption of all the created order. The good creation was nevertheless transient: evening and morning, the decay and new life of autumn and spring, pointed on to a future, a purpose, which Genesis implies it was the job of the human race to bring about. All that lived in God’s original world would decay and perish, but “death” in that sense carried no sting.

The primal pair were, however, threatened with a different sort of thing altogether: a “death” that would result from sin, and involve expulsion from the garden (Gen 2:17). This death is a darker force, opposed to creation itself, unmaking that which was good, always threatening to drag the world back toward chaos. Thus, when humans turned away in sin from the creator as the one whose image they were called to bear, what might have been a natural sleep acquired a sense of shame and threat. The corruption of this darker “death” corresponded all too closely to, and seemed to be occasioned by, that turning away from the source of life, and that turning instead toward lifeless objects, which later generations would call idolatry.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 526.

Now, if we view “death” as the power of death over the world, resulting from the Gen 3 curse on all creation, there is some convergence between physical death and eternal death. First, in the Garden of Eden, those likely were the same thing. That is, the loss of access to the Tree of Life, likely led both to inevitable physical death but also the loss immortality in God’s blessed presence — as the Garden was exactly that. Adam and Eve became mortal — meaning both that they would die physically but also that there was no path to immortality — otherwise loss of the Tree of Life would have been no real penalty for their sin.

Hence, to my way of thinking, the real question that the Curse of Gen 3 created, is how to regain immortality or, equivalently, right relationship with God? How does mankind return to Eden — not just to avoid the hard work and pain of day-to-day existence in a cursed world, but to be in God’s daily presence with access to immortality?

Rom 5:12-13, Yet Again [JFG]

(Rom. 5:12a ESV)  12 Therefore, just as [Sin] came into the world through one man [Adam], and [eternal] death through [Sin] … .

If we view this as Paul’s understanding of salvation history, then v. 12 is obviously speaking of the Fall of Man resulting in the Gen 3 curse on Creation. This resulted in Death (the unleashing of the power of Death on Creation, as well as the literal deaths of Adam and Eve). But they didn’t die to go to heaven and live in blessed immortality in heaven with God. Rather, the Tree of Life they were denied is the very same Tree of Life that will be in the NHNE — and so they are not immortal and their souls aren’t immortal. When Adam and Eve died, they went the way of all mortal beings — they just died with no afterlife. They died an eternal death. That is, they died to remain dead throughout eternity.

Now, if we take Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill seriously, and the likely meaning of Rom 3:25 regarding God leaving previously committed sins unpunished, well, the idea has to be that they were unpunished in the afterlife. After all, Adam and Eve were surely punished in this life! They suffered the loss of Eden, physical death, and the curses of Gen 3. That’s real punishment — not eternal punishment. They had no eternal existence at all.

(Rom 5:12b-13 ESV) and so [eternal] death spread to all men because all sinned — 13 for [Sin] indeed was in the world before the [Torah] was given, but [Sin] is not counted where there is no [Torah].

Now, the inability of mankind to refrain from sin proved to be inheritable. Not only were Adam and Eve unable to resist temptation, so were their descendants. “All sinned.” Because of actual sin committed by everyone, eternal death remained their fate. They were not punished in the next life because of God’s forbearance (Rom 3:25) but neither did they receive the gift of immortality.

Why were they not punished? Well, in a surprising turn, Paul says it’s because most of the world — the Gentiles — had not yet received the Torah. They had no direct revelation (“special revelation” is the technical term) from God regarding right and wrong, and they were not accountable for their sins. They were not punished in the afterlife. But neither did they have access to immortality via the Tree of Life — and so they died — their physical deaths became eternal deaths.

This is a little surprising because Paul spent a large part of Rom 1 and 2 arguing that the Gentiles may be held accountable for their sins — because God is revealed through the Creation and through mankind’s moral nature. But this is evidently only enough to justify denying them immortality. If Adam and Eve can lose immortality for their one sin, then any sin causes one to surely die. It does not, however, make them so accountable that God feels obliged to punish them in the afterlife with the fires of gehenna for their sins. That comes only later — with Jesus. And even then, the punishment is finite and just — not perpetual conscious torment.

Now, Paul is obviously preparing us for a different conclusion regarding the Jews. And he would be the first to admit that there were YHWH worshipers other than Abraham, such as Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God during Abraham’s day. He is speaking in generalities.

And, if we’re paying close attention, we’re seeing Paul paint God as being far more gracious and forgiving that we usually think. The God of the OT is YHWH. Jesus is called YHWH in the NT. And the God of the OT whom Paul is describing is compassionate beyond our imaginations.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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23 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 37 (Death enters the world)

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Are you saying in this statement , that in the Gen 3 curse, mankind is the Creation? Therefore, as you are relating to the curse in Romans 8 (creation is really mankind)? Not the world or earth.

    “If we view this as Paul’s understanding of salvation history, then v. 12 is obviously speaking of the Fall of Man resulting in the Gen 3 curse on Creation. This resulted in Death (the unleashing of the power of Death on Creation, as well as the literal deaths of Adam and Eve).”

  2. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    Rom 8 and Gen 3 are both clear that the Creation (not just humanity) is subject to the curses resulting from the sin of Adam and Eve. I would never intend to say otherwise. However, it’s not always relevant to the discussion. In Rom 5, Paul is dealing with the impact of the sin of Adam (and Eve) on humanity, not the Creation in general.

  3. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I have seen in Gen 3 from these two verses where “ground” was affected by Adam and Eve in their sins.
    Gen 3:17-19 ESV And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; (18) thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. (19) By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
    Then there is the curse placed upon the serpent who is later identified as Satan.
    Gen 3:14 ESV The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

    But, this verse does not extend a curse upon “all livestock and above all beasts of the field”.

    These are all the verses in Gen. which contain “curse” or “cursed” and none of these identify other living objects including plant life as being cursed.
    (Gen 3:14 ESV) The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

    (Gen 3:17 ESV) And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

    (Gen 4:11 ESV) And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

    (LC) Here Cain was cursed, not from God but from the “ground”. Then the next occurrence gives a prophesy about Noah. Chapter 8:21 then identifies that God removed the curse on the “ground” for ever. With that understanding, the curses from God are only upon Satan and mankind. Christ then enters into the world not to remove a curse, but to save sinners.

    (Gen 5:29 ESV) and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”

    (Gen 8:21 ESV) And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

    (Gen 12:3 ESV) I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    (Gen 27:12 ESV) Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.”

    (Gen 27:13 ESV) His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”

    (Gen 27:29 ESV) Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

    Do your own search, while searching the ESV for all forms of the word “curse” there is 165 located and no one time is any plant or animal life identified in a curse.

    Now let us examine Rom 8. I am sure these verses are the ones we should consider.
    Rom 8:19-24 ESV For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (23) And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (24) For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

    (LC) The only portion of these scriptures which could be interpreted as “all plant and animal life and the earth is the word “creation”. So is Paul identifying that God had placed a curse upon these items of creation as well as mankind or is he stating that there is no man that has been created who is not subject to him? You have shown examples by re-translating some scriptures to possibly better understand the message. So I give it an attempt, maybe someone can explain where I have mis-understood the context.

    Rom 8:19-24 ESV For the creation (all mankind) waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. (This would be the separation of the Saints from the un-Godly) (20) For the creation (all mankind) was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him (Adam) who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation (mankind) itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (even the children of God are under this bondage, and will be freed at the separation). (22) For we know that the whole creation (mankind) has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth (childbirth is never been identified in God’s Word as something that plants or animals endure) until now. (23) And not only the creation (here “creation” is applicable to all who are not of the firstfruits [Christ]) , but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (24) For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? (What would the redemption of the ground, plants and animals look like, and where else in scripture does God’s Words apply to these items with any promises?

  4. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    1. Paul says in Rom 8:19-24, as you point out, that “the creation” was subjected to futility. He does not limit his statement to the ground. “The creation” refers to all that was created. I don’t think there’s a grammatical justification for interpreting “creation” to mean “mankind.”

    James D. G. Dunn explains that “creation” includes more than just humanity —

    This is implied by the clear allusion to the narratives of creation and of man’s/Adam’s fall (Gen 1–3, particularly in the next sentence [v 20])—creation understood in distinction from humankind (and from the creator), as also in 1:25. As (the rest of) creation in the beginning had its role in relation to man, the crown and steward of creation (Gen 1:26–30; 2:19), so creation’s rediscovery of its role depends on the restoration of man to his intended glory as the image of God.

    James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1–8, Word BC 38A; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 487.

    2. Isaiah 65 and 66, Rev 21 and 22, and all the other NHNE passages speak of the entire creation being redeemed or transformed. I mean, Gen 1 says that God created “the heavens and the earth,” being the very definition of “Creation.” If we’re going to have a NEW or RENEWED heavens and earth, then the entire Creation is to be redeemed/renewed. God says, “Behold, I’m making all things new.”

    3. If the entire Creation is to be renewed and freed from futility, then the entire creation was subjected to futility and bondage.

    I’m willing to take Paul’s word for it and don’t see that it’s important that some other inspired author says the same thing. Paul is inspired.

    But it’s not unfair to ask where Paul got his doctrine. And it’s possible that he knows what he knows solely by direct revelation from God. Or maybe there’s more to it.

    (Isa. 65:17-25 ESV) 17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.

    Notice that Isa in highly poetic, metaphorical language speaks of the NHNE in terms of the wolf and lamb grazing together, etc. Isaiah sees the redemption of the Creation as extending to the animal kingdom.

    Wright’s explanation is —

    The basis of Paul’s belief here must be a combination of two things: the biblical promise of new heavens and new earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22), and the creation story in which human beings, made in God’s image, are appointed as God’s steward over creation. Putting the picture together, in the light of the observable way in which the created order is out of joint, and the clear biblical and experiential belief that the human race as a whole is in rebellion against God, Paul, in company with many other Jews, saw the two as intimately related. After the fall, the earth produced thorns and thistles. Humans continued to abuse their environment, so that one of the reasons why God sent Israel into exile, according to the Scriptures, was so that the land could at last enjoy its sabbaths (Lev 26:34–43 [cf. 25:2–5]; 2 Chr 36:21). But the answer to the problem was not (as in some New Age theories) that humans should keep their hands off creation, should perhaps be removed from the planet altogether so as not to spoil it any further. The answer, if the creator is to be true to the original purpose, is for humans to be redeemed, to take their place at last as God’s imagebearers, the wise steward they were always meant to be. Paul sees that this purpose has already been accomplished in principle in the resurrection of Jesus, and that it will be accomplished fully when all those in Christ are raised and together set in saving authority over the world (see 1 Cor 15:20–28). That is why, Paul says, creation is now waiting with eager longing.

    N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 596.

    I was not familiar with the passages about the land needing to “enjoy its sabbaths,” and that makes sense, too.

    He points out that [the connection of human sin with the defilement of the earth] is picked up and given impetus in the prophetic tradition, a case in point being Isaiah 24:4–6:

    “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth.”

    Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 343-344.

    There are many OT passages that speak in similar terms: humanity’s sin brings about corruption of the earth.

    This is quite unprovable, but clearly the NHNE will have to have a solution for entropy — the tendency of matter and energy to become more random and less capable of doing work. The universe will eventually grow cold and unable to support life of any kind. Eternal life in a dead universe would not be much fun. Therefore, if the final enemy is death, the next to last enemy is arguably entropy.

    Perhaps the futility that God subjected the Creation to includes entropy — and so making all things (re)newed would include curing entropy. One solution would be to provide a “sun” that never goes out or burns up, such as God himself — which we find in Rev. 22:5, based on Isa 60:19. Part of (re)creating the NHNE will be replacing our source of energy (which can reverse entropy), the sun, with God himself.

    To the extent the Fall of Man separated God from man and God from his Creation, mankind and the Creation became more and more subject to entropy. A God who can give immortality and resurrect the dead can reverse entropy. But if sin renders the Temple unclean, that messes things up.

    Remember, Walton teaches that Gen 1 should be read a dedication of the Universe to serve as God’s Temple. And yet we know from Leviticus that the sin of the people renders the Temple unclean and so unsuitable for God’s habitation. Something must be done to cleanse the Temple or, in this case, the Creation. Therefore, the sacrifice of Jesus not only cleanses God’s people so that he can dwell in them through his Spirit, but it also begins the process of cleansing the cosmic temple so that God can return, heaven and earth can be joined as one, and God can dwell among his people as he walked with Adam in the cool of the morning.

    God is, of course, present in his Creation — but there remains a barrier between heaven and earth. In Rev 21-22, the two are joined and God dwells with mankind. What changes? Well, the Temple/cosmos/heavens and the earth will be cleansed, first, by the blood of Jesus and, second, by purging the world of its unredeemed elements with the consuming fire/wrath of God. Either the Death Angel passes over you because you are marked with the blood of the Passover Lamb or else you are purged to prepare the heavens and earth to be made new by God.

    All of which is to say that Paul makes a whole lot of sense in terms of the narrative of scripture. Multiple themes and threads weave together to form the tapestry that is Romans 8 — which we’ll get to. Eventually. Cross my heart.

  5. Dwight says:

    Jay, when you say entire creation are you including all creation…meaning stars, universe, etc or that which man has not spread to or would have spoiled?
    From the beginning it seems clear that there was a garden and then there was the rest of the earth and when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden they were kicked out into an inhospitable place and the garden was done away with. The garden was perfect though surrounded by a rough territory. Man was not and man was sent to a place that was more like him.
    Maybe.
    But I am sure that Adam and Eve looked back and thought, “Man, if we could only go back.” Well, that is where we are as well. This earth wasn’t meant to be a place that is kind to us or else we wouldn’t seek the garden (heaven) and seek God.
    Again I am not convinced about the NHNE scenario, but I am convinced that the final destination will be a garden compared to what we have here.

  6. Alabama John says:

    He could of called ten thousand Angels. Heaven is well populated, busy, and those there could fight if called on to do so. I imagine they would fight with something other than their angel wings.

    There will have to be work to be done and some adversity to beat or we will be bored. Remember the angel we call the devil and the angels that followed him were kicked out for doing wrong so it is possible to err.
    God made us to want to win and beat something.
    That is why football, sports of all kinds will be watched all day by so many.
    We shall overcome makes us happy and losing in so many ways possible makes us sad and there will be no tears in heaven.

  7. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I remember your posting material from Walton, I really did not believe that you believed his assumptions. I did not, and always expected you to critique his messages similar to the series on Muscle and a Shovel, but that never happened and my contesting it just fell through the cracks.. How is it possible to backdate a temple into the creation when there was never a communication about a temple until David suggested one.
    1Ch 17:4-6 ESV “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in. (5) For I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling. (6) In all places where I have moved with all Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”‘
    Does God sound like he had a concept that the creation would be his Temple?
    God accepted the concept from David and would not allow David to build it, but delegated his son Solomon to build it. This is many generations into the history of the creation. There was a Tabernacle in which he dwelt . Leviticus discusses a temple? No. It does speak of the tabernacle this is all three occurrences.
    (Lev 8:10 ESV) Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them.
    (Lev 15:31 ESV) “Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.”
    (Lev 17:4 ESV) and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the LORD in front of the tabernacle of the LORD, bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people.
    None of these tell of the necessity of cleansing the tabernacle. The tabernacle could be defiled by an unclean individual but they would have died. Even then there was no instructions as to how to cleanse the tabernacle.

    Walton teaches that Gen 1 should be read a dedication of the Universe to serve as God’s Temple. And yet we know from Leviticus that the sin of the people renders the Temple unclean and so unsuitable for God’s habitation. Something must be done to cleanse the Temple or, in this case, the Creation.

    I cannot find a reference in scripture which suggests that the creation or the temple must be cleansed. This is the closest, but notice the land is the cleanser, by vomiting out the inhabitants.

    Lev 18:24-28 ESV “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, (25) and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. (26) But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (27) (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), (28) lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.

    Now to advance into the time period of today. The Universe or the Earth or the Creation to be God’s Temple? None of these have been suggested in scripture, but if they were, how many temples would God have? Has he ever given a clue that he would have more than one in the OT?
    Well he tells us exactly where his Temple is in this Covenant.
    Joh 2:19-21 ESV Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” (21) But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
    1Co 3:16-17 ESV Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
    It appears that God does have more than one Temple and these are the locations. The Earth or the Creation has never been identified as his Temple. Are we at liberty to tell God where he should have his Temple or to remove him from his present location to a place we desire?
    Rev 11:19 ESV Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

  8. Dwight says:

    One theory is that the garden was God’s initial dwelling place on the earth and that after man sinned not only was man kicked out, but the garden disappeared, thus no dwelling place. That is until the tabernacles and the Temple. In the Temple, there is a depiction of the garden, thus symbolizing the dwelling place of God besides in the Holy of Holies.
    In regards to cleansing, man is the sinner, so the cleansing was on man. But of course man’s evil corrupts that which is around him. And yet sin is never laid at the feet of things, but man.
    From Jesus and the NT, man is now the Temple of God, where God dwells. Man had to be cleansed…baptism for God to dwell in us.
    But the Garden/Temple is just an earthly place for God, as even during the OT they understood God to dwell in heaven. Jesus came from heaven to dwell on the earth and then went back to heaven to dwell with His Father. God the Father never literally left heaven, if but for short visits, but has sent his presence in the form of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

  9. Alabama John says:

    Would be interesting to know our new supreme court judge Neil Gorsuch take on this since he is a lawyers lawyer by education like Jay is and Paul was.
    I understand he is an Episcopalian and has had the best education in the law on this planet and they claim to read more scripture in their meetings, 70% more than others.
    Seems he and Jay would agree and understand Pharisee educated lawyer Pauls letter to the Romans and others better than any of us could.

  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    There are countless difficult questions from Gen 1 – 4, such as from whom was Cain being protected by his mark? And why did he build a city if there was only one generation of people around? Why there was a Garden in a newly made universe pronounced “very good” by God himself? Why not give Adam and Eve access to the entire world?

    Now, there are as many approaches to answering these questions as there are commentators, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. On the other hand, there are a few things where we should have a high level of confidence. For example, Gen 1 – 4 were written to people who lived in the Ancient Near East, who had an ANE worldview, and were surrounded by ANE cultures. The Israelites thought in ANE terms. For a fact.

    Therefore, the early chapters of Gen should be read as ANE documents and not as modern, post-Enlightenment documents. However, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians tend to insist on reading the Bible as a 21st Century document until that reading becomes nonsensical, and only then they’ll allow the document to be read as an ANE or First Century document — but ONLY when a post-Enlightenment reading just won’t do.

    For example, in the Matt, Mark, and Luke, Satan’s temptations of Jesus are recorded in different orders. If we were to read these Gospels as modern historical textbooks, we’d be forced to say they contradict each other. Therefore, even very conservative commentators point out that the First Century standards for time order were different from ours and it was considered appropriate to re-arrange the chronology for thematic purposes. In fact, the NT is a First Century document from beginning to end, and Genesis is an ANE document from beginning to end. And they can only be read correctly as what they are.

    American worldviews are much closer to the First Century Greco-Roman culture than ANE. The ANE culture/worldview of Genesis is at least 1500 years older than the NT. 1500 years before today, English didn’t even exist as a language. Culture and the use of language changes a lot over such a long period of time.

    Those are facts. I have no interest in arguing them because the alternative is that God inspired Genesis in a 21st Century culture/worldview and didn’t expect it to be understood until today. But God expected the Israelites to understand what he was trying to communicate. Therefore, the burden in on us 21st Century readers to learn to read as the Israelites read in about 1500 BC. And a 3500-year gap in culture, language, and worldview is huge. Therefore, we need to learn from experts in ANE literature how that literature was understood in the ancient world. If we’re unwilling to pay the price to learn, then the fault is ours and no amount of arguing will solve the problem. It all starts with respecting inspiration enough to believe that this really is a 3500-year old document inspired by God to be read and understood by the people who lived at that time and place.

    Understand that this is not about rejecting inspiration; it’s taking inspiration seriously enough to do our homework. It’s not being so arrogant as to suppose that God wrote for our eyes today and not for the eyes of ancient Israel — who read and thought very differently from us.

    So the respectful, conservative approach is to ask the experts on ANE literature how Gen 1 would have been understood in 1500 BC by ANE people. And there are such experts available to us today and they’ve written commentaries and books that answer this very question.

    John Walton has offered his understanding of Gen 1 based on his genuine expertise in the ANE literature and worldviews. He is a devoted Christian, conservative, believes in inspiration, and has paid the price to learn how an Israelite in 1500 BC or so would have read Gen 1. Many world-class Bible scholars have followed Walton. And there were those who made similar arguments before him. Walton has just done a better job of teaching his understanding to ordinary Christians.

    In my several posts on the subject, I’ve provided links to other posts, books, and even a YouTube video that explains Walton’s views. I’ve provided links to the works of other authors who’ve reached similar conclusions. I find the evidence highly persuasive. Obviously, I have no expertise in ANE literature, but Walton’s theory fits the narrative of the NT so well that it just has to be true.

    The picture of NHNE found in Isaiah and Rev very nicely parallels the idea of Gen 1 describing the cosmos — heavens and earth — as a temple for God. For what time period? Personally, I’d say from the beginning of time until at least the time of Adam and Eve, however long that was.

    Was the Garden then a temple for God? And isn’t the Garden less than the entire Creation? It seems clear enough that the Garden was less than the entire Creation. And it has key features of a temple, such as the presence of God, Adam and Eve serving as images of God. BUt maybe the Garden wasn’t the temple so much as the Holy of Holies, where atonement was made and God’s Presence sat enthroned. That might be a better way of saying it. So maybe the cosmos was the Temple and the Garden the Most Holy Place.

    Now, there came a time when sin polluted the cosmos, just as we covered earlier based on Milgrom’s commentary on Leviticus. Milgrom’s commentary has become highly persuasive among Torah scholars as he’s offered insights that are often contrary to traditional thought but better supported by the text than tradition has been. For example, he points out that sacrifice was generally not atoning among the Jews, contrary to the surrounding cultures, and not considered a bribe or pay off to YHWH. In fact, the Torah goes to some lengths to show that God does not consume the sacrifice because the purpose is not to meet God’s needs and buy his pleasure — unlike the pagan gods. Rather, the sacrifice generally goes either to feed the Levites or the worshiper — and the blood is used as a cleansing mechanism (which makes no sense to the modern mind at all). The sin offering was taken outside the camp — symbolizing the fact that sin should not exist within the camp (and more to come in future posts). The blood of the goat sacrificed on the Day of Atonement is used to cleanse the Temple/tabernacle so that the people’s sin does not desecrate the TEmple/tabernacle.

    Therefore, it’s little stretch to imagine Jesus’s blood, spilled on the earth, as cleansing the cosmos of human sin to allow the earth to be restored as God’s temple — not all at once, but soul by soul as the Kingdom expands through conversions of the lost and contact with Jesus’ blood. When the Kingdom reaches its zenith and Jesus returns and his enemies are defeated and destroyed by God’s consuming fire, then the cosmos will be completely purified and so the New Jerusalem may descend from heaven and God’s dwelling place may be with man — as said in Rev 21-22. All things will then be made new.

    That’s not a complete atonement theology, but I think it’s likely part of a complete atonement theology.

    And so I try to avoid taking doctrinaire positions. The fact is that the text is difficult and should be studied with the help of experts. I see no merit or value in reading on my own. I want the smartest, best educated, most thoughtful scholars at my side, and so I invest heavily in commentaries and other resources — and I quote frequently from them because I think everyone should listen to the experts before reaching a firm conclusion. Sometimes I miss things that better scholars have noticed. Therefore, I compare my conclusions to what others say — to check myself and to point the readers to the best of contemporary scholarship.

  11. Monty says:

    Jay,

    You obviously are consumed with passion for what you do. I would imagine your reading and study volume is second to none. I honestly don’t know how you do what you do time wise. You are one disciplined man. Your response to Larry would have taken me an hour or two to craft,(you may have knocked it out in 10 -15 minutes) and you do that with so many commenters who post. Amazing! Thank you. Your bog is such a great learning tool.

  12. Dwight says:

    Agreed! But it can be easy to get “bogged” down when learning.
    Sorry Monty, couldn’t resist.

  13. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I am super amazed, this Word of God which is inspired by The Holy Spirit is only understandable through the wisdom and directives of the most highly educated today who have gained what they believe to be an understanding of how the individual, uneducated to our standards, an Israelite who only had the Word to study from would see the message. Excuse me, but I believe that these same messages in the scriptures which they learned, have been the same teaching tools which all of mankind from the first writings of Moses, obtained their knowledge of God and his instructions, until now. As we understand there was about 40 different writers who wrote the text of these scriptures. Yet, none of these from Moses through John had any deviations to report about the different concepts as we are seeing today. Not a single writer even those we consider to have been inspired by the Spirit wrote a message that would be comparable to Mr. Walton’s story. How many years would you calculate that to be, well Bible timeline gives a pretty reliable source of information that creation was about 4000 BC, Moses the writer was not even born until 1525 BC, he received the Law at Mt Sinai about 1446 BC. Nobody that I know can identify when he actually started or completed the Torah, the first five books of The Bible. One thing I believe that I can be positive of is that everything that he wrote about the creation and the time period until he born was, totally supplied to him by God. Therefore, as we attempt to read back into that text concepts which were not explained in the text is to modify God’s direct message to Moses. We would be altering God’s message. Following that, we must begin with many other writers who delivered instructions, wrote history of the interactions between God and men, prophesied about the future providing condemnations and promises, which many testified of the authenticity that their message was from none other than God. In the time frame between 1446 BC and 95 AD all the text was completed 1541 years. All the text of the NT was written between approx 45 AD through 95 AD. God’s own Son did not attempt to modify any of the events written about the creation, do we have a different revelation of the creation than those which were studied by The Jews when Christ was attending the teachings in the Synagogue?
    Now, what I am understanding you and the, educated by teachers of the world, to say is that God and His Holy Spirit was not capable to write this scripture in a form in which the common men with only an education in the a language in which the the text has been translated would be able to understand the messages which God intended. If that is true then no common man has a chance to obey the following messages.
    2Ti 3:14-17 ESV But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

    Is the man of God only the individual who either studied the Ancient Near East and attempted to see how he assumed that the Ancient Near East minds worked. If that is true then only a few men on earth will be able to utilize Paul’s message 16-17. Unless I misunderstand you, you do not even consider yourself an individual who could properly obey these words. You would have to have an (interpreter, seer) of the order of ANE knowledge to explain the text to you. Please, correct me if that is not how I should understand your message.

    2Pe 1:19-21 ESV And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, (20) knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. (21) For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    What would we be saying if we did not affirm that Peter’s message applied to Moses and all the writers of the scriptures.

  14. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    You mentioned; “In fact, the Torah goes to some lengths to show that God does not consume the sacrifice because the purpose is not to meet God’s needs and buy his pleasure — unlike the pagan gods. Rather, the sacrifice generally goes either to feed the Levites or the worshiper — and the blood is used as a cleansing mechanism (which makes no sense to the modern mind at all). ”

    Please explain these in light of your comment.

    Exo 29:22-25 ESV “You shall also take the fat from the ram and the fat tail and the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and the right thigh (for it is a ram of ordination), (23) and one loaf of bread and one cake of bread made with oil, and one wafer out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before the LORD. (24) You shall put all these on the palms of Aaron and on the palms of his sons, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. (25) Then you shall take them from their hands and burn them on the altar on top of the burnt offering, as a pleasing aroma before the LORD. It is a food offering to the LORD.

    Lev 1:5-17 ESV Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. (6) Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, (7) and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. (8) And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; (9) but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (10) “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, (11) and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. (12) And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar, (13) but the entrails and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (14) “If his offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or pigeons. (15) And the priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head and burn it on the altar. Its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. (16) He shall remove its crop with its contents and cast it beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes. (17) He shall tear it open by its wings, but shall not sever it completely. And the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

    Lev 3:3-16 ESV And from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as a food offering to the LORD, he shall offer the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, (4) and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. (5) Then Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering, which is on the wood on the fire; it is a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (6) “If his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering to the LORD is an animal from the flock, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. (7) If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD, (8) lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it in front of the tent of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. (9) Then from the sacrifice of the peace offering he shall offer as a food offering to the LORD its fat; he shall remove the whole fat tail, cut off close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails (10) and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. (11) And the priest shall burn it on the altar as a food offering to the LORD. (12) “If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD (13) and lay his hand on its head and kill it in front of the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. (14) Then he shall offer from it, as his offering for a food offering to the LORD, the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails (15) and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. (16) And the priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering with a pleasing aroma. All fat is the LORD’s.

    Lev 4:29-31 ESV And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering. (30) And the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. (31) And all its fat he shall remove, as the fat is removed from the peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasing aroma to the LORD. And the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

    Leviticus has many more references to this food offering to the Lord which is not given to the Levitate’s but burnt as a food offering for The Lord.

  15. Monty says:

    Dwight,

    Good catch> LOL!

  16. Dwight says:

    If we look up the word “aroma” it is used 46 times in reference to the concept of that which is offered up to God, sometimes in referring to a literal sacrifice and sometimes in reference to a Christians life as a sacrifice. Now the difference is that to the pagans the deity was supposed to actually consume the sacrifice, but we don’t see this in terms of God, except when he consumed the sacrifice in fire. But food was offered to God, from meat to grain.
    Does God subsist on food? No, but this didn’t mean that God didn’t find pleasure from that which was prepared for Him. Now it is our spiritual offering that pleases God.

    While I do think that the words were written for man to understand, we must also be cognizant of the audience in mind. We in the Western world don’t think like those in the ME and thus shouldn’t convert everything to Western thinking. The concept of sacrifices is not a Western way of thinking. There is much benefit in thinking in Hebrew terminology, because God formed the Hebrews and their way of thinking.
    Do I think that only the highly educated can understand the scriptures? No.
    But they might be able to offer insight that the common person misses.
    But then again sometimes deep knowledge obscures the simple understanding that is being relayed.
    So we must not think that one way of thinking offers the only way of thinking and the only way of understanding, but I would argue that trying to understand the scriptures as they would have read it is probably the best way. The scriptures were not written to us, but for the saints in their place in their time. Paul wrote to the people in Corinth in such as way as to make them understand what he was writing. Paul would have expected them to understand using what they knew as a reference.

    This should cause us to look at Jesus differently though. Jesus wasn’t the first Christian, but rather a Jew who was the Savior and the Christ who died for the world. His overall message though was universal…love. Love God. Love your neighbor. Give yourself to God and to your neighbor.
    But having said that Jesus when he spoke he spoke as God, the same God who wrote the Law.
    He didn’t come to counter the law, but bring the laws to the heart of man, thus relieving man of the physical burdens of the law. If a man loved his neighbor, then a man wouldn’t hate and then wouldn’t murder his neighbor. The spiritual nature of God was to subdue the physical nature of man.

    But sometimes I think it would be a good idea to do some of the things such as offering a literal sacrifice in order to get a better sense of what it takes and to get a visceral feel for it. We miss so many things because we think that the Jews were sinful and did sinful things even in the Law. We forget that the laws were written by God. The people made them holy or unholy by their heart.
    Faith in God wasn’t solely a Christian concept, but is a Godly concept from the start of time to now.

  17. Alabama John says:

    Dwight is right on,
    All societies all over the world throughout history sacrificed something and gave part of whatever they gathered to what they perceived as their god.
    Hebrews were sure not alone in doing this. Abraham worshiped the moon. Error abounded, but the heart was right as all were made in Gods image (man) with the spirit of God in them from birth.
    beings from heaven have been called several different things by societies, such as angels by the Hebrews and Greek called all the same beings lower gods, even had names for some. One we all remember was Mercury, the deliverer with fast speed. We even had him on coins and motorcycles.
    Keep in mind the English language has only been in existence 1500 years. Most of what we know of God has been interpreted from another language or several.

  18. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    After a nights sleep, I remembered that I really needed to ask you what I thought is a very important question. You have made this statement concerning your own studying.
    “And so I try to avoid taking doctrinaire positions. The fact is that the text is difficult and should be studied with the help of experts. I see no merit or value in reading on my own. I want the smartest, best educated, most thoughtful scholars at my side, and so I invest heavily in commentaries and other resources — and I quote frequently from them because I think everyone should listen to the experts before reaching a firm conclusion. Sometimes I miss things that better scholars have noticed. Therefore, I compare my conclusions to what others say — to check myself and to point the readers to the best of contemporary scholarship.”
    The important question I see is. When we become Christians, I understood that we each are also given a gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within each of us.
    Rom 8:2-16 ESV For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (3) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (6) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (7) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (8) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (10) But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (12) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. (13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (14) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (15) For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (16) The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

    Rom 8:23-27 ESV And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (24) For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (26) Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (27) And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

    1Co 2:9-16 ESV But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (10) these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (11) For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (13) And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (14) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (15) The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. (16) “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    1Co 3:16-17 ESV Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

    2Co 3:14-18 ESV But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. (15) Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. (16) But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. (17) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (18) And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

    Gal 4:6-9 ESV And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (7) So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (8) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. (9) But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

    If we do not depend upon the Spirit within each one of us to help us understand the Words that God’s Spirit has written for our learning, would we be disobeying this next message from Paul?

    1Th 5:19 ESV Do not quench the Spirit.

  19. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    The scriptures certainly teaching the personal indwelling of the Spirit. But they also teach the corporate indwelling of the Spirit. For example,

    (1 Cor. 3:16-17 ESV) 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

    In each case, “you” is plural in the Greek, while “temple” is singular. The subject at hand is the unity of a Christian congregation.

    And there’s —

    (Eph. 2:19-3:1 ESV) 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    Again, “you” is plural, “temple” is singular, and we are being “joined together … into a holy temple.”

    So if I were to study just me and the Spirit, I’d not be honoring these and similar passages. In fact, the entire concept of spiritual gifts assumes that we aren’t all gifted the same. Some have “knowledge.” Some don’t. Some have the gift of wisdom, but not all. We have to work together to combine the power in these gifts so that the entire church benefits from our differences.

    In fact, I would say that one of the biggest reasons we Protestants fail to agree on so many things — despite having the Spirit — is that we come from a tradition of great individuals — Calvin, Luther, etc. And this was a mistake. As brilliant as these men were, they were still imperfect, fallen humans and so not a one was capable of getting everything right, leading to division and even war between Christians. They over-reacted to the Catholic Magisterium and insistence on tradition by taking on the mantle of a prophet. They didn’t claim to be prophets but they acted like prophets, and were just a little too confident in themselves, and others were just a little too quick to follow.

  20. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    I did not say the food wasn’t offered to God. I said it wasn’t given for his consumption.

    A. L. Oppenheim succinctly characterized Mesopotamian religion as “the care and feeding of the god.” We owe Israel’s priesthood for eviscerating every trace of this notion from the sacrificial system. Pagans regularly set food and drink on their god’s table, but the Priestly legists banned all food rites inside the shrine. All sacrifices were to be offered on the outer altar in the open courtyard (see fig. 2), visible to all worshipers and removed from the tent, YHWH’s purported domicile. The text specifically prohibited the burnt offering (flesh), the cereal offering (bread), and all libations (drink) on the inner altar (Exod 30:9*). Further, the frankincense, a precious spice, offered with the bread of the Presence, is not placed on the bread, as is the case with other cereal offerings (Lev 2:1*, 15*; 6:8*) but is uniquely set apart from it, so that the bread can be eaten in its entirety by the priests (Lev 24:9*), while the frankincense alone is burned on the inner altar (Exod 30:7–8*). Thus all food gifts brought as sacrifices are conspicuously removed from the tent, YHWH’s purported domicile, thereby erasing any suspicion that Israel’s God consumed the sacrifices (see Psalm 50).

    Jacob Milgrom, A Continental Commentary: Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004), 21.

    In none of the sacrificial prescriptions (chaps. 1–5) are priestly perquisites mentioned; the latter are the subject of the next section (chaps. 6–7). Why then are they mentioned here (and again in v. 10*)? The answer can only be that, contrary to expectations, the cereal offering is not burned on the altar in its entirety. The cereal offering is the poor man’s surrogate for the burnt offering, which is entirely consumed (except for its skin) on the altar. Lest one think that the cereal offering is treated similarly, the text makes clear that only a token portion is burned and the remainder is given to the priests.

    Jacob Milgrom, A Continental Commentary: Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004), 26.

  21. Dwight says:

    I think it is important to remember we are not prophets and/or gifted with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit my dwell within us, but speaking through us is a harder since we want to speak sof much ourselves. While I believe we are the Temple individually and not us collectively, we are to edify each other collectively and one-on-one as well. Two ears and one mouth, we should use them in order of their numbers. Two eyes as well, the better to read God’s word. This is a case where there are two many leaders of God’s word and not enough followers.

  22. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    You have identified that consumption was not what God would do with the sacrifice. Yet, God had given orders for it to be burnt by fire. I see that as being consumed while releasing the sweet aroma. Consumption is not the same as eating, but the results are the same; a sweet aroma would necessarily be ingested to be experienced. Considering this word consumption, or consumed, notice the usage in these passages. Remember, God’s presence at night throughout the traveling of the Israelite Nation. If a fire from God consumes, what would we call that other than consumption?
    Jos_24:20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”
    2Ki_1:10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
    2Ki_1:12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
    Psa_21:9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.

    Jdg 6:19-24 ESV So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. (20) And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. (21) Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. (22) Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” (23) But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” (24) Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

    1Ki 18:37-39 ESV Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (38) Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (39) And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.”

    (Deu 4:24 ESV) For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

    (Deu 9:3 ESV) Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.

    (Isa 33:14 ESV) The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

    (Lam 2:3 ESV) He has cut down in fierce anger all the might of Israel; he has withdrawn from them his right hand in the face of the enemy; he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around.

    (Heb 12:29 ESV) for our God is a consuming fire.

    God is a consuming fire. Does that not fit with the word consumption?

  23. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I would like to draw your attention to these verses which you have supplied to confirm your concept. I do not believe that they are supporting your concept as you have indicated. Since you have made the statement, “The subject at hand is the unity of a Christian congregation”, that is hard to identify in just a few verses. Let’s look at a larger block of the text.

    1Co 3:9-23 ESV For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (10) According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— (13) each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (16) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (18) Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. (19) For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” (20) and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” (21) So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, (22) whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, (23) and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

    As we read this text the words (we, workers, men, are plural), words (I, me, he, himself) are definitely “singular”. Phrases like (anyone, no one and someone) are singular pulled from a plurality of persons. Words (you, yours) can be singular or plural, modified by the context in which they are used. There are phrases within this text that are described as indicating singularity which could have been used to indicate multiple individuals but in context they do not.
    Almost all, if not all this text is directed to an individual not a congregation or multiple individuals. You (possibly plural if you include the commentators) say that this message is directed to “the unity of congregations”, based upon, ““you” is plural, “temple” is singular, and we are being “joined together”… into a holy temple””. This phrase is not in the text of the message that we are looking at, but is borrowed from Eph 2:21, addressed below.

    Now let’s look at the exact text in verses 16-17. If we reread this with text in brackets to indicate the meaning you are implying. (16) Do you [all] not know that you [all] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you [all]? Now we have given the text the concept that it could be to the congregation, oh but just a minute, a congregation is not (all). Christianity worldwide would be the (all), because no one congregation can be the only temple, if this is singular there is only one temple in the universe.
    (17) If anyone [one man] destroys God’s temple, [worldwide temple] God will destroy him [the one man]. For God’s [only] temple is holy, and you [all] are that [one] temple.

    Now if we read this verse as if it is one individual it is fully functional and understandable, if we believe that each one of us have the indwelling spirit, which establishes a dwelling place of God within us. This dwelling of God in us is “by the Spirit”, which is the message in verse 16, and is the subject in verse 19-20 following.
    1Co 6:17-20 ESV But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (18) Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (19) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, (20) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

    There is only 3 verses in the NT which portray a message about a holy temple.
    The first one is clearly speaking of the Jewish Temple, which has no application upon our study.
    Act 21:28 ESV crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the (temple) and has defiled this (holy) place.”

    The second one is speaking of the household of God [all the children of God, all Christians, but not a single congregation or a single assembly] the whole of Christianity, and not limited to only the NT but also includes all the obedient from the creation. This is accomplished by the Spirit. In the Spirit we are also unified.
    Eph 2:19-22 ESV So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (20) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, (21) in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a [holy temple] in the Lord. (22) In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    The third and final occurrence in NT is the verse with which we started.
    1Co 3:17 ESV If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s [temple is holy], and you are that temple.

    I do find it interesting that Paul made this comparison.
    1Co 9:13-14 ESV Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? (14) In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
    The temple in this is the Jewish Temple. It talks about people being employed and serving there receiving compensation for their service, but in verse 14 it appears that there is only one occupation that is identified as an occupational livelihood. So where do we assume that all the other functions which have been created by followers of Christ have a similar command of the Lord? If all Christians were proclaimers of His Word without buildings, etc: how would Christianity be diminished to a less acceptable unity in Christ. Can Christians proclaim God’s Word and not be acceptable in the Kingdom?

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