The Church of the Firstborn

the-church-of-the-first-born-hebrews-12-23In the comments, for the last several days there has been discussion over the meaning of Hebrews 12:23, particularly its reference to the “church of the firstborn.” Since I have access to more exegetic resources than most, I thought I’d poke around a bit in the text and the commentaries to see just what this is all about.

(Heb 12:22-24 ESV) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,  23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,  24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

My first step is to check the Greek. What is the meaning of the word translated “firstborn”? Much to my surprise, it turns out that the word, πρωτοτόκων or prōtotokōn, is plural. We might better translate “firstborns” or “firstborn children.”

Plainly, the reference is not to Jesus as the first resurrected of God’s household (Rom 8:29 does refer to Jesus in this sense). In fact, somehow or other, this seems like an allusion to the first Passover, in which the firstborn son of each household was killed by the Destroyer or Death Angel unless protected by the blood of the Passover lamb — painted on the doorframe of each Israelite house to mark the home as belonging to a child of God.

But there’s another piece of the puzzle. Previously, the author of Hebrews has referred to Jesus as the “firstborn” — but singular. In some sense, the “firstborn children” are parallel with Jesus as firstborn Son.

(Heb 1:5-6 ESV) 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?  6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

The author refers to Psalms 2, 89, and 97 to describe Jesus as God’s “firstborn.” For example,

(Psa 89:26-27 ESV) 26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’  27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 

In Psalm 2:7, the king is called God’s “Son.” Psalm 89 declares this son the “firstborn.”

The “firstborn” is also a reference to the oldest child of each household at the time of the Passover —

(Heb 11:28 ESV) 28 By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

But God also refers to all of Israel as his “firstborn.”

(Exo 4:22-23 ESV)  22 “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son,  23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'” 

It’s ironic, because Esau was born first, and then Jacob, later renamed Israel, was born second. Israel is God’s “firstborn” because Israel is the favored child of God, the one chosen by him.

So what is the “assembly” of the firstborn a reference to? The Greek is ekklēsia, often translated “church” or “congregation.”

(The word does not mean “called out.” That’s the etymology of the word, i.e., the origin of the word, but not the meaning of the word as used in scripture. The same word can refer to a mob (Acts 19:32)! The primary meaning is a gathering or assembly of people (whether or not gathered by a call). “The NCAA handed down sanctions against the football program due to flagrant violations of recruiting rules.” “Sanctions” is from the Latin sancire to make holy — hardly the meaning of the word in that sentence. Definition and etymology are two different things.)

The Septuagint’s use of ekklēsia in the Torah gives the word a special flavor in the New Testament —

(Deu 9:10 ESV)  10 And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly

(Deu 18:15-16 ESV)  15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers — it is to him you shall listen — 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 

(Deu 23:2 ESV)  2 “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD.”

In Deuteronomy, the ekklēsia initially refers to the nation of Israel gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai, in awe of the presence of God. Later on, the term is generalized to refer to any assembly of the people at the tabernacle (or temple).

Thus, “to the assembly of the firstborn” does not mean “church of Jesus” so much as “gathering of Israel to worship.” But what about “who are enrolled in heaven”?

That seems to be a reference to —

(Exo 32:31-33 ESV)  31 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold.  32 But now, if you will forgive their sin
— but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”  33 But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. 

Compare Psa 69:28; Rev 3:5. It’s God’s list of the saved. Therefore,

[I]t is best to understand the church of the firstborn as referring to ‘the whole communion of saints’. ‘All the people of Christ are the “firstborn” children of God, through their union with him who is the Firstborn par excellence’. ‘Firstborn’ and the ‘firstborn’ belong closely together, just as do the ‘Son’ and the ‘sons’ (Rom. 8:29). … Also numbered in this assembly of the firstborn are faithful Israelites, for although they are not yet perfected (11:40), the assembly in view is ‘an eschatological or heavenly entity’. The vision is of ‘the ultimate, completed company of the people of God, membership of which is now enjoyed by faith’.

When our author tells his listeners that they have come to this community, he means ‘not merely into its presence (as they have come into the presence of angels innumerable) but into its membership’. And although the heavenly city is still the goal of Christians’ pilgrimage (Heb 13:14), believers in their conversion have already come to that heavenly assembly.

Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews (Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 485-486.

In short, Jesus is the Firstborn, both as God’s oldest Son and as the firstborn among the resurrected. The church — Jews and Gentiles both — by their inclusion in Christ become the firstborn, favored children of God. Faithful Jews have been God’s firstborn since the Exodus, and the Gentiles are adopted and grafted into Israel, and so become firstborn, too.

And all are firstborn in the sense that they have been protected from the Destroyer by the blood of the Passover lamb.

In short, the Hebrews writer points to our future, when the New Jerusalem comes down to earth and God lives with man in a renewed creation — the new heavens and new earth. There the angels, ancient Israel, and the church will bow down in worship and eat at the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride, the church.

And so, yes, it’s true that “assembly of the firstborn” refers to the church — but only if we think of the church as including faithful Israel going back to Sinai — an assembly that the Gentiles have been invited to join, who become firstborn by being incorporated into the Messiah by grace.

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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162 Responses to The Church of the Firstborn

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    You have done a great job in researching information and presenting this post. Over the many years which I listened to preacher condemn all others, they presented even more concepts of why the names are so very important than I have presented here. I had many years ago seen how much of the condemnation was applied in a non-Christ like manner and have been able to recognize that many Christians are within assemblies using names of organizations which I still do not believe show honor to our Savior. Families are normally named according to their parents, which creates a traceable genealogy. Names that are attached to some churches or assemblies do not portray that Christ or God are associated with the group, and it is very possible that some of those groups which does not desire to portray that information within their name really serve another master.
    In the first century while the scriptures were being written, I believe that just the term (church) being applied to an assembly would convey to the audience what was being taught or who was the recipient of the honor being bestowed through the assembly. With my background I have reviled, I was influenced by these scriptures to names which I believe were acceptable for names of the church during those times. I have not seen these concepts used in our time to identify churches who belong to Christ.

    (Col 4:16 KJV) And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

    (1 Th 1:1 KJV) Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    (2 Th 1:1 KJV) Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

    (Rev 2:1 KJV) Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

    (Rev 3:14 KJV) And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

    In contrast to that today I believe we can find many organizations using the term (church) which have no intention of serving the Lord. In that context we as Christians need to unify in being able to portray not only in our inside teaching but the names we display before the World who we serve. Why should we as Christians unify in this avenue, because the World (unbelievers) cannot imagine the volume of Christians in the World, we are just small groups of people who disagree with each other more than any people on Earth. The true problem here is within ourselves, we desire to be segregated into our own little group, which allows us to build for ourselves an identity in which we believe that we are superior to other believers, we therefore can reject the concept that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I have portrayed to Ray much of the concepts which I had been taught hoping someone would be able to refute some of the reasoning that had been instilled in me. You have covered much of it, but I still retain a portion considering what I believe the World sees in the structure of the name, we are so orientated to names identifying business and organizations.
    With that in mind is it wise for any group who are serving the Lord to identify themselves by using the name of a man who started the following as their identity? Or using a method to identify themselves? Or an act, even if it is spoken of in scriptures to identify themselves? I am not really trying to condemn those who do that, but whether I approve of the names or not is really not the point what Christ will have to say is what is important.
    I do believe that if any of you that have children would have a child who rejected the family name in preference to identifying themselves with some activity, object, or another man whom they respected (possibly one of their teachers) would you be pleased with or condone that child’s actions? Wouldn’t that be something that might offend Christ also?

  2. Jay Guin says:

    While I think the kingdom and the church are very nearly coterminous, it’s important to know that the “kingdom” was prophesied to come (be extended) by Daniel and Isaiah and others.

    Jesus announced that the kingdom is “at hand” not “about to get bigger”.

    Something dramatic arrived that was not already present.

  3. Jay Guin says:

    I meant “not be extended”

  4. Larry Cheek says:

    “At hand” does not mean that it was non-existent, it can mean just not available for entry by those to whom he was speaking. Many translations have said “is near”, “draws near” or “draws very near”

  5. Larry Cheek says:

    When you decide to do the searches as I suggested, you will notice that there several references to ‘The Kingdom of the Lord” in the OT, the text surrounding the communication displays that sometimes men are placed into an office of king to also rule over “The Kingdom of the Lord”.
    Then notice carefully Jesus own comments about the kingdom in NT, he in many places speaks of its presence in the time frame while he was on earth, before he was crucified. If we decide to only recognize it as being present after The Day of Pentecost, then we not only are saying something out of synchronization with Christ’s own teachings, we should be bound to prove how our statements are more correct than Christ’s. Notice just a few.
    (Mat 11:12 NIV) From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
    (Luke 16:16 NIV) “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
    (Mat 12:28 NIV) But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
    (Luke 11:20 NIV) But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
    (Mat 23:13 NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
    Notice in this verse the timeline within the events that Jesus is portraying. A different translation.
    (Mat 23:13 NRSV) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them
    (Luke 17:20 NIV) Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,
    (Luke 17:21 NIV) nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
    (Luke 19:11 NIV) While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
    Jesus had explained that his kingdom was not of this World, and explained that the kingdom is within you (each of this followers), they could not comprehend what Jesus was saying. They and we are so in tune with the physical and the world that we live in, they and we miss the point (the Kingdom which we are added to is Spiritual, just like God, His Son and all of those spirits who inhabit heaven now).
    Remember our temporary body (that is what we are now, our newborn spirit is contained within this physical body, but our spiritual counterpart will be released from this physical body when we die to be living in the same realm as the scriptures speak of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.
    Peter was given the keys to unlock the pathway for the New Covenant believers to be added to all who were already placed within the kingdom by God himself from creation. Jesus even went into the prison of the dead while he was in the grave and proclaimed the Good News, many were resurrected and came out being believers.

    Show me evidence from scriptures that prove this not true.

  6. JohnFewkes says:

    Eph 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. NASB

    The kingdom is NOT static, but growing, increasing, “being built” by those who continue to hear the call of God thru Christ, preached through apostle and prophets, and some who preach from false motives (never any of US). Can we really see much difference between God’s household and his kingdom? When did start? Before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Indeed, something special happened on Pentecost — another step in God’s grand plan.

  7. Larry Cheek says:

    Do you believe that you and other Christians are in Christ’s Kingdom while living on this earth today?

  8. Larry Cheek says:

    You are saying in one post that the church is not the kingdom, then in another post you say that it is, would you clarify which the scriptures state that it is?
    “Larry feels the kingdom of God and the church of the Lord Jesus are the same. I think not. I’m sure there’s some good reason why Larry didn’t mention the prophecy/promise of Jesus: “On this rock I WILL build my church (assembly).” God had a kingdom through the years, and some were faithful members of that kingdom.”
    Then you stated, “Jesus told Nicodemus that entry into HIS KINGDOM (which I say is His church) was by way of a new birth”
    Then again,
    “I’m positive that Jesus built His church through the work of the apostles. The church was not in existence prior to the opening of the Way as described in Acts 2. Jesus empowered His apostles to bring the church (assembly, family) which would be led by Jesus into existence.
    But does this imply that the CHURCH was already in existence? Is that what our subject is here? Who is switching back and forth? I’m sorry if I did or do so. Jesus said to the apostles, “On this rock, I WILL BUILD my church.” That’s here on earth. The many mansions are in the New Jerusalem. So I thought we were discussing whether or not the church began on Pentecost rather than when the preparations in Heaven will be made.”

    Notice, carefully in the following, Jesus is speaking, almost all of the verses I will be directing you to look at, were spoken by Him, He tells Peter, “I will build my church”, then in the following verse He (promises to give him, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, are those two different organizations?
    (Mat 16:18 KJV) And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
    He told the Jews this message, you do realize that this is when the Gentiles were brought into the church/kingdom.
    (Mat 21:42 KJV) Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

    (Mat 24:13 KJV) But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    The writer of Acts called an assembly of The Israelites, “The Church”.
    (Acts 7:37 KJV) This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

    I spoke of Christs kingdom including all the faithful from creation, This verse was where I found that concept. The kingdom was prior to Day of Pentecost, and of course we have already identified that Christ said that church and the kingdom are the same.
    (Mat 25:31 KJV) When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    It is very obvious that the searches I described have not been done, most of the information you are presenting I had also been taught by past preachers who did not utilize the resources that I have been directing Christians to look at.

  9. Grace says:

    You keep putting these two verses up as if I disagree with them. I don’t disagree with them at all.

    The Pharisees were looking for the King and kingdom that would deliver them out of the oppression they were under and God be the one to rule and reign. But in their zeal for freedom, they had missed the prophecies regarding the Messiah’s first coming to suffer and be slain. The Jews were expecting and hoping for the Warrior King, not the Suffering Servant.

    The Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. The Pharisees would not be citizens of God’s kingdom unless they believed in Him. Jesus answered their question by telling them that the kingdom of God was among them. The One who would one day rule the world on the earth, was standing right in front of them, offering blessings that would be enjoyed by every one of the kingdom’s citizens.

    The Scriptures are replete with references about the coming kingdom of God that will rule on the earth when Christ returns. And as Christians, we are waiting for that day. It will be heaven on earth.

  10. Larry Cheek says:

    Since we find it impossible to identify the translations that you quote from from time to time, you have expressed that you use many different ones, many times your quotes don’t reflect the same context of any translation I have available, I have at least 15 English. If you like us to respect your quotes please identify each one.

  11. Grace says:

    Larry, I’ve already said that I use different translations. I’ve done my studies as anyone should about the translations we are using and I use those that are closest to the original writings. The KJV and the NIV are two of the least accurate to the original writings. I’m sure you will have something to throw at me for that too. I’m not going to get into an argument over translations, so do as you want, whatever resources you want to use doesn’t really bother me at all.

    When did Jewish people who came to believe Jesus to be the Messiah come to believe this, before or after Jesus’ first coming?

    The church is Jews and Gentiles who believe that Jesus is the Messiah our Lord and Savior. I have never said that it isn’t. So do not accuse me of saying such again.

    You constantly throw accusations that anything I say is not from Scripture. I have known many from the CofC denomination who think it benefits them to use this tactic.

    I have given a whole lot of Scripture many that you ignore. Yet, you say I haven’t given Scripture and that what I say doesn’t come from Scripture.

    I agree with what Randall has advised me of, “Many may jump to the conclusion that you are wrong as soon as they see one point of difference between their theology and yours. I suspect most will be unable to carry on a relevant conversation with you b/c they don’t really understand. I would be surprised if you find any meaningful dialog regarding eschatology here.”

    I’ve been well advised, it is obvious that it’s not likely that we will have any kind of meaningful dialogue.

  12. Mark says:

    Ray, I don’t believe much that I hear in the news. Also, the state of Israel has many of the same problems the U.S. has. There are many U.S. Citizens who aren’t godly, but yet call themselves Christians. Judaism and even branch of Christianity have secular humanists to ultra legalistic zealots and everyone in between. I learned most of what I know about Christian behavior from Jews.

  13. JohnFewkes says:

    I don’t know that there could be any more of a sidebar to the current topic than Revelation…. I have found for me that accepting the early date view rather than the end of century view makes a lot of things fall into place “that shortly must come to pass.” I am not aware of a comparable phrase in scripture (and certainly not from John) that spans millennia.

  14. Grace says:

    To find the literal meaning of passages such as Revelation 20 we let Scripture interpret Scripture. It’s obvious from Revelation 19:11-21 that it is during the Second Coming of Christ. We also integrate the Scriptures throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the NT about His return. The Hebrew Scriptures are not to be pushed aside, as people sometimes want to do. The Hebrew Scriptures are just as relevant to help our understanding and are there to bring light to our understanding.

    Those who stand opposed to God’s promises made to the Jewish nation find Revelation 20 much to their disliking as it points us to the fulfillment of the Second Coming prophecies throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. The literal meaning of the passage is difficult for them to accept.

    The net result is that it places a veil of darkness over God’s divine Word. It takes that which God has graciously revealed through the saints and subjects it to the dark vagaries of human speculation. The result is predictable. People remain as much in the dark regarding the Second Coming of Jesus as some of the Jews were in relation to His predicted suffering at the First Coming.

  15. Grace says:

    It seems that some have the impression that Christ has returned since they “read Revelations” as “that shortly must come to pass” indicates It came to pass in thier lifetime.”

    One of the things your theology leaves out is the time when Satan is not allowed to deceive the nations.

    Revelation 20:1-3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.

    This couldn’t be the in the apostles lifetime or now since Satan is out and about deceiving people all around the world.

    1 John 5:19 “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.”

    2 Corinthians 4:4 “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

    So when does this take place that Satan is not allowed to deceive the nations for a time?

  16. Grace says:

    2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 “He will completely fool those who are on their way to hell because they have said no to the Truth; they have refused to believe it and love it and let it save them, so God will allow them to believe lies with all their hearts, and all of them will be justly judged for believing falsehood, refusing the Truth, and enjoying their sins.”

    The Tribulation will be a unique time of intensified satanic deception. Notice they do not believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 10,12) which justifies God’s judgment let loose on them.

    God does not hide the truth. In spite of strong warnings people will still seek after the false prophet.

    The Antichrist’s advent as being in accord with the activity of Satan will come with all the deception of wickedness. Satan will deceive the world at large so they will gladly accept the claims of the Antichrist. Herein is the heart or core of tribulation deception, namely, Satan. He is the agent of deception, not God.

    God’s truth will be proclaimed in the tribulation. The 1,260-day ministry of the two witnesses of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 will be a means of God’s setting forth of His truth and exposing the lies of Satan. The global impact of the two witnesses is evident in the worldwide celebration at their death (Revelation 11:7-10).

    God will lead no one into sin. After the y choose the lie over the truth, God will respond by sending the delusions so that their rejection of the truth is let loose full blown believing the lie they have already chosen. They will reject God’s truth and pursue the agents of sin, continuing in the inclination that was already in their own sinful heart. God will not deceive but will allow deception to manifest its evil to its fullest capacity which God has not previously permitted (Matthew 24:21-22). Those who don’t believe the truth, but take pleasure in wickedness, the wickedness in which they take pleasure will become the avenue of their judgment.

    Matthew 24:21-22 “For the tribulation will be unparalleled hardships of a magnitude that has not been seen since creation and that will not be seen again. Indeed the Lord God your merciful judge will cut this time of trial short, and this will be done for the benefit of the elect that some might indeed be saved for no one could survive the depravity for very long.”

    You don’t mind using “prince of the power of the air” which is used once in Scripture describing Satan, yet you have issues when I use “god of this world” that is used once in Scripture describing Satan.

    And since you, “have not found a translation that contained the identity “Satan”. I will provide some here.

    2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLV) “The eyes of those who do not believe are made blind by Satan who is the god of this world. He does not want the light of the Good News to shine in their hearts. This Good News shines as the shining-greatness of Christ. Christ is as God is.”

    2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

    2 Corinthians 4:4 (GNT) “They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes from the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

    2 Corinthians 4:4 (TLB) “Satan, who is the god of this evil world, has made him blind, unable to see the glorious light of the Gospel that is shining upon him or to understand the amazing message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is God.”

    2 Corinthians 4:4 (NCV) “The devil who rules this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. They cannot see the light of the Good News—the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is exactly like God.”

    Let’s also look at “prince of the power of the air” that you have no issues with.

    Ephesians 2:2 (NRSV) “Following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.”

    Ephesians 2:2 (GW) “You followed the ways of this present world and its spiritual ruler. This ruler continues to work in people who refuse to obey God.”

    Ephesians 2:2 (CEV) “You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God.”

    “Prince” in the Greek is “archonta” which means a first in rank or power, the primary ruler. “Power” in the Greek is “exousia” which means a force in the sense of a military force. This force is ruled over by a single prince who is supreme. Satan is the leader of the demons, he is the first demon in rank. Satan’s demons are under his power and serve him they have no other choice. They work under Satan’s authority and direction.

    Jesus didn’t refute the power Satan has over the world given him by God, (Matthew 4:8-9 and Luke 4:6).

    Matthew 4:8-9 “Again the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain. He had Jesus look at all the nations of the world to see how great they were. He said to Jesus, I will give You all these nations if You will get down at my feet and worship me.”

    Luke 4:6 “The devil said to him, I will give you all the power and glory of these kingdoms. All of it has been given to me, and I give it to anyone I please.”

    Paul knew as did John that Satan has authentic power in the world 1 John 5:19 “the world is under the control of the evil one.” If a person is worldy, they are under the rule of Satan because Satan is the ruler of this world. The worldly person ultimately produces confusion and division because the spirit of the world is the spirit of Satan. The world is under his sway.

    1 John 2:15 “Don’t love this evil world or the things in it. If you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.”

    James 4:4 “You people are not faithful to God! You should know that loving what the world has is the same as hating God. So anyone who wants to be friends with this evil world becomes God’s enemy.”

    Satan is always moving about deceiving and manipulating the hearts and minds of humans to commit sinful things. The majority of this world’s population is following Satan and Satan is at work in their lives. We are living in a world where Satan rules the hearts and minds of many. And Satan will continue to deceive people until Jesus Christ comes back.

    Satan’s major success, in deceiving a nation, is due to a lack of knowledge and discernment on the part of people. The invisible forces of evil are operating and influencing their visible human agents of political, social, religious and philosophical programs. Satan broadcasts his propaganda and disinformation. By confusing people about what to believe he manipulates humanity.

    Paul gives a warning not to be deceived, 1 Corinthians15:33, “Do not be deceived! Bad company corrupts good morals.” If Christians are never deceived then there would be no need to give a warning of it. We can become misinformed, lackadaisical, disinterested and discouraged.

  17. Monty says:

    But Grace, you don’t even believe one can fall away and be lost. Christians can be deceived but not be lost, according to you right? Christians can love the world but not be lost right? Just who is it in 2 Thessalonians that falls away? “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.” Who is it that departs from the faith in 1Timothy 4:1 The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter days some shall depart from the faith.” Are those who fall away not in a lost state? Are those who depart from the faith not in a lost state? Surely they are.

  18. Dwight says:

    One of the points that the premillinialism view holds is that the anti-Christ is yet to come as this is supposedly explained in Revelations and I John 2;18 “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”, yet that verse also say the anti-Christ was present and vs.22 “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.” indicates that the anti-Christ is simply one who denies that Jesus is the Savior.
    Then I John 4:3 “and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” indicates that then antiChrist was already in the world then.
    Then II John 1:7 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
    John simply put a name to those who denied Christ, many of the Jews denied Christ as the savior.

  19. Grace says:

    It comes as a shock to some people that Satan uses professed Christians in the church to accomplish his work.

    Luke 13:22-27 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, Lord, will those who are saved be few? And he said to them, Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, open to us, then he will answer you, I do not know where you come from. Then you will begin to say, We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets. But he will say, I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!

  20. Dwight says:

    Grace, most will I think argue that while we think premillianialism to be wrong, that doesn’t neccesarily make it sinful. I other words while I think there is only one kingdom and we are members of that kingdom and that is the only kingdom mentioned, we also believe Christ will come again in judgment. These facts and opintions do not make us or not make us saints. Just because you disagree with us, doesn’t mean that you aren’t a Christian and just because you disagree with us, shouldn’t make us those that are used by Satan. The work of the saint is to bring othes to Christ and love one another and offer mercy and do God’s will, not to damn others over end time theology.

  21. Dwight says:

    I will be content if God does take this earth and does a refirbishment, but I know my home is heaven as this is what is promised to those who follow Christ.
    II Cor.5:1-2 “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,”
    Which is directly told to us.
    The question is Would you be content if you went to heaven and God didn’t remake the earth?
    Or do you want something less than heaven that may or may not happen due to vague prophesies that might have already been fulfilled. If we believe in a new earth, then we must also believe in a new heaven and that heaven too will be remade…into something more heavenly? Do you believe in heaven or earth? Spiritual or earthly? Where does your hope lie?

  22. Grace says:

    “Just because you disagree with us, doesn’t mean that you aren’t a Christian and just because you disagree with us, shouldn’t make us those that are used by Satan.”

    Amen, Dwight!

  23. Grace says:

    I know that many in CofC denomination have throughout many years taught that they are always right on every issue. And that many in the CofC denomination think they have to keep an argument going until everyone agrees with them. I believe there has been plenty said on this thread and anyone can see that. Anyone can see the comments and the Scriptures given, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and the NT, and do a study on their own. I love the phrase “ancora imparo” which means “I am still learning” and it is a great motto to have.

    I thoroughly enjoy eschatology and I believe God wants us to know about these things that are going to happen. And some people say the Bible is boring, I wholeheartedly disagree with them.

  24. Dwight says:

    II Cor.4:4 Just to place this into perspective aside from God, other gods are also mentioned elsewhere in scripture, but only in the sense of people bowing down before false and powerless gods, instead of the one true God who has all power. And yet Satan is given his due as he does control the hearts of many…Satan is called the “prince and power of the air” in Eph.2:2 “who works in the sons of disobedience” so the true realm of Satan is the heart of man and not the earth itself which is under God’s control.
    A comment on “god of this age” is that “age-aion or eon” usually means the time that one exist in, but it has no defining start or end and generally includes the time on this earth. Luke 20:34 ““The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.” Jesus was speaking of the present age on this earth, but then again people had been marrying since the beginning of time. Satan has been in this world since the beginning putting forth an influence, so to perscribe a certain time period to satan on this earth is impossible.

  25. Dwight says:

    Grace, many in the coC do believe they are not always right, but they are never wrong, but I know many in other denominations that believe the same thing, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, etc. Many have thier own belief system down pat. I think worse than discussing is not discussing and shutting down discussion when we get into an area where we think we are right. I may not always win an argument, but it does allow me to reorginized and reassess my own thoughts when challenged. So it is not only about what we give, but what we get.
    In regards to the end of times there are many I know in the coC that do not have this concept of what will happen in the end down pat, but thankfully I don’t think this is a requirement of God for salvation and we will never know what happens until it happens. Jesus said He didn’t even know the day of the end, so how could we? And in reality if it didn’t matter to Jesus, then it shouldn’t burden us to distraction either. We can discuss it, but we have no control or real clue.

  26. Monty says:

    Grace said,
    “And that many in the CofC denomination think they have to keep an argument going until everyone agrees with them.”

    Grace! You fit right in! No one who comments on here(well, maybe a couple of others) fits this profile you gave more than you. Personally, I’m glad you’re here. You have a kindred spirit.

  27. Grace says:

    I’m not running from a challenge. I believe anyone can see that I haven’t. When I have made comments the response here is pretty much,your comment hasn’t met the standard so you haven’t met the challenge. And when you see people use a tactic as this you know there isn’t any good or meaningful dialogue happening.

    I do believe “ancora imparo” is a much more humbling phrase we can each leave a discussion as this with, rather than I’m going to argue with you until you agree with me.

    And I don’t believe there are any winners or losers in this discussion.

  28. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight speaks well about human freedom and human right to be wrong. He’s right that it’s not only members of Christian Churches/Churches of Christ who feel we’re right and have no need to learn more Bible truths. But what I hear Grace teaching is not at all BIBLE truths. Good for Dwight. Good for any Bible student who seeks to learn as much as possible about the truths revealed in the Word. Good for Jay for teaching and making possible learning new truths. We do well to not believe we’ve already learned all possible truth.

  29. avidtrober says:

    It also refers to the fact there will be those born into the family of God who are not firstborn.

    “Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. ” Rev 20:6

    which is also distinguished here:

    ” that they might gain an even better resurrection.” Heb 11:35
    – as well as the fact a worse resurrection would be this:

    “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” Dan 12:2

    There is a *second* resurrection:

    (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) Rev 20:5

    The theme of firstborn runs throughout scripture, it is a pattern of heavenly things just like the temple rituals were.

    There is a first and second resurrection. There is a first and second death.

    Furthermore, a couple of points that is also a theme throughout the Bible:

    “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:44

    “for all whom the Lord our God will call” Acts 2:39

    A person CANNOT come to God without God intervening to draw Him

    “You did not choose me, but I chose you” Jn 15:16

    Space not permitting: God is not calling all of humanity in *this* age. It is ***a*** day of salvation, not “the” day of salvation.

  30. Larry Cheek says:

    There are several points in your comment that you are directing to today’s time which is incorrect with the context.
    In your quote, ““You did not choose me, but I chose you” Jn 15:16”
    You seem to apply that to mankind today. But, you must read who Jesus was speaking to in order to determine to whom the message was being applied. Start at chapter 13 and read up to the end of Chapter 15. I’ll show you just a few of the places which declares he was only speaking to the immediate audience, namely the Apostles, even calling some of them by their names. Jesus even identifies that he is not speaking to all of those who were there.
    Joh 13:18 ESV I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’
    After reading those notice especially these verses prior and after your quoted John 15:16.
    Joh 15:14-15 ESV You are my friends if you do what I command you. (15) No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
    Joh 15:16-19 ESV You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (17) These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (18) “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (19) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
    We can apply some of the concept which Jesus presented here into our walk with the Lord, but we cannot apply that he called only some of the human race because of the message he communicated directly to his Apostles.

    There is a second death spoken of in scriptures. But, the only verse in scripture which associates “second” with the word “resurrection” is this, but notice it declares the communication here to be the first resurrection. No phrase of “second resurrection” in scripture.
    (Rev 20:6 ESV) Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
    It along with the verses previous identifies who are in the first resurrection.
    (Rev 20:4 ESV) Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
    Verse 5 then places a time upon the first resurrection, and it is representative of all mankind.
    (Rev 20:5 ESV) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.
    Rev 2:11 ESV He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
    Therefore, only one resurrection, but the possibility of two deaths, the second of which no one will be desire to endure.

  31. avidtrober says:

    Thank you for your reply.

    No one following Jesus Christ today was not drawn by the Father (John 6:44) and chose by Jesus Christ.

    It is correct Christ was talking to that audience, but it is also correct He is talking to ALL of ekklesia.

    All of of mankind is not in a first resurrection, that is explicit in scripture.

    To summarize, review two things which are explicitly stated as patterns (including chronology) that God is doing in this age: the temple rituals and God’s calendar including the Holy Days.

    The temple rituals are a pattern of heavenly things. What God is doing He is showing through the rituals.

    Ditto for His calendar. TO THE DAY Christ was offered on Passover. TO THE DAY the Holy Spirit was granted en masse on Pentecost. And, TO THE DAY the rest will be fulfilled.

    fwiw, Protestantism did not correct Dan 7:25 when they correctly identified the papal office as the “little horn”. Not doing so has left them to nothing less than human conjecture on chronology in God’s plan.


  32. avidtrober says:

    I replied, but it doesn’t show up. 🙂

    Thank you for the reply.

    The theme of scripture explicitly states no one is following God today the Father didn’t draw and Jesus Christ has chosen.

    As for confusion on chronology and milestones to God’s plan, anyone not returning to the violation pointed out in Dan 7:25 is left with nothing more than human conjecture about resurrections, events, etc. “The last great day” is a calendar reference. And, the temple rituals clearly show the chronology and events as well. Both given as annual reminders, and explicitly stated as patterns of what God was doing with mankind.

    Thanks again.

  33. avidtrober says:

    I posted twice to reply. Thank you for the reply.

    If neither post shows up, this is a personal editorial, not an open forum.

  34. Larry Cheek says:

    I may have misunderstood this “drawing” that you are referencing. Are you saying that there are many humans which are alive today that God does not draw and chose to add to his kingdom?

    Where in scripture are we ever instructed to see a theme in scripture and determine that God designed what we see? A theme is something that is not part of The Word of God. The scriptures were written for a specific purpose, being that man could not know God’s instructions without it.
    (2Ti 3:16 ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

    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.
    The Holy Spirit has directed men to convey the message from God. Men are never to tamper with the scriptures.
    Rev 22:18-19 ESV I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, (19) and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

    When you comment, “As for confusion on chronology and milestones to God’s plan, anyone not returning to the violation pointed out in Dan 7:25 is left with nothing more than human conjecture about resurrections, events, etc. “The last great day” is a calendar reference. And, the temple rituals clearly show the chronology and events as well. Both given as annual reminders, and explicitly stated as patterns of what God was doing with mankind.”
    Do you believe that these events did not happen prior to Christ coming to earth? You speak of “chronology and milestones” and “calendar reference”. The calendar was in use then has been modified when Christ came to earth. He also presented a message about the future.

    Mar 13:30-33 ESV Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (31) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (32) “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (33) Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.

    Rev 3:3 ESV Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
    Rev 16:15 ESV (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)

    Therefore, anyone attempting to determine the time, has proven himself as believing that God lied. He believes that through a study of the scriptures a theme or answer will be found which will allow a man to prove God wrong.

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