OIJ Has Over 5,000 Email Subscribers!

over5000I’m excited and flattered that One In Jesus now has over 5,000 email subscribers!

After the first 8 years of blogging, the site had about 1,000 email subscribers. But in the last 2 years, interest has accelerated so that email subscriptions are rising. 1,000 new subscribers joined in only the last couple of months.

I’ve also noticed a dramatic increase in Facebook friend requests from around the world. It seems that OIJ has gained the interest of missionaries and church leaders in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

(Frankly, it’s a little terrifying to know that so many people are reading what I write.) This is far more than I ever anticipated. I mean, when I started this, I was hoping to hit 200 page views per day. It’s now closer to 1,500, not counting email, WordPress, and RSS subscribers.

None of this would have been possible without the readers and especially the readers who comment. Unmoderated comments allows for real-time, lively conversations that can’t be found many other places. And we couldn’t operate without moderation if the readers weren’t responsible and civil. In today’s social media, that’s rare and surely one of major reasons for the growth of One In Jesus. In fact, it’s proof that we can disagree and still talk to and learn from each other.

Many thanks to all the readers for sharing with friends and to the commenters for helping to make this a place where disagreements can be discussed as the Scriptures instruct —

(2 Tim. 2:24-25 ESV)  24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. 

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2 Thessalonians: 2:3-4 (Historical Background)

map of greeceA little history

The language Paul uses for the Rebel is borrowed from Daniel’s description of Antiochus Epiphanes and Eze 28:2.

Eze 28:2 condemns the king of Tyre for claiming to be god.

The desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, who ruled over Judea as a consequence of Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Medo-Persian Empire, is well known and described in the apocryphal book 1 Maccabees (a surprisingly good read).

He attempted to exterminate Judaism, banning circumcision and taking over the Temple for idolatrous practices, including sacrificing pig flesh on the altar and giving the Temple courts over to ritual prostitution.

This led to a rebellion and the independence of Judea until the Romans conquered Jerusalem in the first century BC. Continue reading

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2 Thessalonians: 2:3-4 (Paul’s Correction re Timing of the Second Coming)

map of greecePaul’s explanation of the timing of the Second Coming

It’s my view, contrary to much Protestant teaching, that in 2 Thessalonians, Paul is speaking of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, not some as-of-yet future war involving a Jerusalem Temple not yet built and a rebellion to happen in the unknown future.

In support of this view, I’d like to suggest some broad points and then we’ll cover the text verse by verse.

  1. As I argued in an earlier series of posts, Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 deals, first, with the destruction of Jerusalem and, then, with the Second Coming.1 Thessalonians: A Look Back at Matthew 24, Part 11 Thessalonians: A Look Back at Matthew 24, Part 21 Thessalonians: A Look Back at Matthew 24, Part 3. It would make all kinds of good sense for Paul to follow the same outline. While Matthew had not yet been written, Paul’s teaching to his converts surely included much of the material now found in the Gospels. Continue reading
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2 Thessalonians: 2:1-2 (False teaching re the Second Coming)

map of greeceWell, things get interesting in chapter 2 — downright apocalyptic. It seems that the Thessalonians were struggling with understanding the Second Coming (no real surprise). Paul had mentioned the Second Coming in 1 Thessalonians and offers a more comprehensive explanation in 2 Thessalonians.

(2 Thess. 2:1-2 ESV) Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers,  2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 

The false teaching

Evidently, some argued that the “day of the Lord” had already occurred, presumably at Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out or when Jesus began his ministry. We don’t know much about this strange teaching. Continue reading

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2 Thessalonians: 1:11-12 (Works of faith)

map of greece

2 Thess 1:11-12

(2 Thess. 1:11-12 ESV)  11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,  12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“To this end” refers back to verses 9 and 10 to Paul’s statement that the believers would marvel at Jesus’ return. That is, “to this end” means “so that you will be ready for the return of Jesus.”

“God may make you worthy of his calling” sounds like works salvation, except the person doing the work is God. Paul has the work of the Spirit in mind, and is not here wrestling with the question of synergism, that is, to what extent do we/can we participate in our salvation? In this passage, Paul is emphasizing God’s ongoing work in the saved person through the Spirit. Continue reading

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2 Thessalonians: 1:9-10 (Available Light and Rom 2)

map of greeceThere are, of course, passages that the Available Light advocates argue from. I covered them in the Available Light series some time ago.

The most heavily relied upon passage, in my experience, is —

(Rom. 2:6-8 NET)  6 He will reward each one according to his works:  7 eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality,  8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness. 

If Paul is speaking of those outside the Kingdom who’ve never heard the gospel, then these verses reads like a promise of works salvation for those people. And as soon as I say that, the problem with such a reading becomes manifest. The reason God gives us grace is that no one will be justified by works. Continue reading

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2 Thessalonians: 1:9-10 (Available Light, Part 4)

map of greeceThat’s the OT perspective on the presence of God, and Paul almost certainly thought in these terms. But there’s another way of looking at God’s presence — equally valid. Just think of what it means for God to be present in this world.

(Heb. 1:3a ESV)  3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. 

(Col. 1:16-17 ESV)  16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him.  17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

Jesus is everywhere making the world work, holding things together. His will causes the laws of nature to be true. And yet the world, because of sin, is a mess. (This is, I believe, also part of the meaning of Jesus being the Logos in John chapter 1.)

Imagine how ugly the world would be if God and Jesus abandoned it? They are busy doing good for both the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). The world is actually, on the whole, good. Evil people don’t want to leave it. They fear death because death will separate them from the pleasures of the world God has made, despite all its imperfections. Continue reading

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