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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Did Peter have Primacy

Around this time of the year be look at the beginnings of the church. Unfortunately in our day unlike those first days after the resurrection there is great division about who is in charge of the Church. Is your local pastor in charge? Is it you? Or did our Lord set up certain men like Peter and the papacy to be a guide and rock of the church?

Let’s begin with Peter, did he have any special role to play in the early Church?

Certainly he did. I think to see his role though you have to do some digging. Sometimes we get caught up in the narrative and miss the details.

The first detail is from the Greek word Protos – which means first. We see a derivative of protos in the English word – prototype. A prototype of a car is an sample of a new kind of car.

We see this word protos – first, used in two ways though in Greek. It of course means first, yet it also has the meaning of best. The best, or chief. You can naturaly see why protos can mean first, best, or chief. Here are some examples from the Bible.

When the prodigal son returns the father says this:
Luke 15:22 "… 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him”
The word best here is protos.

When St. Paul lands on Matla it says this:
Acts 28:7 In the vicinity of that place were lands belonging to a man named Publius, the chief of the island. He welcomed us and received us cordially as his guests for three days.
The “chief of the island” The Greek uses the word protos to mean chief.

Now we come to Peter. Matthew says this:
Matthew 10:2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;

Now the significance of this is great. There are four lists of the apostles and Peter is always listed first and Judas 3 of the 4 times is always listed last. The 4th time being in Acts of the apostles after he had died so he wasn’t listed. They list Peter always first and Judas always last because Peter was chief and Judas was the betrayer.

Some might object and say that Peter is first because he was the first one to be called an apostle.

That is a possibility until you learn in the Gospel of John chapter one that Andrew was called by Christ before Peter, so that answers that objection.

Other verses suggest that Peter has primacy.

Peter is distinguished by others.

Tax collectors approach Peter alone:
Matthew 17:24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"

At the resurrection an angel says:
Mark 16:7 But go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'"

Peter recognizes that Judas’ office should be filled by another. Acts 1
Acts 1:15 During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers …

Peter gives the first sermon in Acts of the apostles.
Acts 2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them, "You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.

Peter works the first miracle:
Acts 3:6 Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, (rise and) walk."

It is to Peter in Acts 10 that God reveals to Peter that Gentiles are to be baptized.

It is Peter in Acts 15 that says that Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised in order to be saved, but it is through grace.
I could go on, but I had better stop.

Now concerning Acts 15, some people claim that it isn’t Peter who makes the final decision but it is James, who speaks after Peter who makes the final decision.

That is a common objection and if we take a step back and look at what is happening, we get a clearer picture.

The issue in Acts 15 is this:
Acts 15:5 But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law."

There was some debating because circumcision began with Abraham, is that a good thing to stop doing what God told Abraham to do?

So they hold a council in Jerusalem and there is a debate: Peter says that no we don’t need to circumcise people any more. That is the decision.

Paul and Barnabas then stand up and say how God has been working through the Gentiles.

James then says – Hey Peter is fulfilling the Scriptures from Amos 9 with that decree. We should tell the Gentiles though to stay away from practices that will trip up people like idolatry, and things associated with it.

Yet the big picture shows that Peter is the one who answered the question that Paul came to ask. Do Gentiles need to be circumcised – Peter says – Nope.

So to get back to our original question. Yes Peter had Primacy.

When Did The Millenium Begin?

When it comes to Bible interpretation, we have a lot in common with most non-Catholics. Yet there are those verses that are defining of our position to the exclusion to any other interpretation that do divide us. One such set of verses is in the Book of Revelation.

Today we are talking about the Millennium, which means 1000 years.
Revelation 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The controversy is how we interpret those verses, when do they occur and are they literal?

There are two points here that I would like to raise.
#1 what is meant by 1000 years?
#2 When is Satan bound?

#1 what is meant by 1000 years? I think we must first keep in mind that the book of Revelation is highly symbolic. Next we see the number 1000 used in symbolic ways.
Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Do we ask the question, “Which thousand hills is that exactly?” No, because God owns all the cattle on all the hills. Here in the Psalm, 1000 just means – a lot. We believe that is means the same thing here in Rev 20:3

#2 When is Satan bound?Obviously Satan is bound at the beginning of the 1000 years, but do other scriptures talk about when this happens – They do:
Matthew 12:28-29 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Luke 13:16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
John 12:31-33 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Here is my reasoning at least. Satan had the power to bind people. Jesus came and loosed those that Satan had bound (Luke 3:16). By the work of Jesus binding the Satan - the strong man (Matt 12:29) - Jesus was showing that this was evidence that the Kingdom of God had in fact come.

Just to reiterate; with the first coming of Christ we see Jesus’ kingdom inaugurated and at the same, Satan is cast out and bound.

There is another topic addressed in Revelation 20 that points us again to a first century fulfillment of the beginning of the 1000 years.

Revelation 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

So what is the first resurrection? When does that happen?

Notice first that it says that the saints reign with Christ for 1000. Now listen to St. Paul
Ephesians 2:5-6 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus…
- St. Paul here uses the past tense and links us reigning with Christ with his resurrection.

Here in Rev 20 St. John tells us that those who are a part of the first resurrection are priests, and they reign with Christ for the thousand years.
My question here “when is the first resurrection?”
Scripture suggests that the first resurrection is at our Baptism.
Romans 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Ephesians 2:1, 5-6 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,
Ephesians 5:14 For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you."
Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

To pick up a point from earlier. Jesus associates the binding of Satan with the coming of the Kingdom (Luke 3:16, Mat 12:29). Further confirmation that the kingdom was established in Christ’s first coming is as follows:

Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Luke 9:27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;

In conclusion, seeing as how the kingdom was established with Jesus’ first coming the next logical question to ask then is- where is it? We believe that the Catholic Church is this Kingdom.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Children of Mary or Brothers of Jesus

I was recently invited to help a friend of a friend answer an objection about Mary's perpetual virginity. This person presented two main objections. The Bible says that Jesus had brothers and that brothers in the Greek language means 'from the same mother.' The second argument that he presents is that the Bible says that Joseph did not 'know' Mary UNTIL she had Jesus. He points out that Joseph then DID KNOW Mary after she had Jesus, that is what the word 'until' implies. We begin in the middle of his argument from the Hebrew about the word brother. #1 I would say that [objector] is slightly off when he talks about the Hebrew and Greek words. He says that “Genesis was written in Hebrew, not Greek.” It is true that it was originally written in Hebrew, but the Jews 200 B.C. translated it from Hebrew into Greek. Here is a great example Genesis 14:14 “And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive…” Abram’s brother here is Lot who is Abram’s nephew. Like James says the Hebrew word here is “ach” which can mean brother and all these other things: ‘ach’Hebrew 1. full brother (same father & mother) Gn 4:8 2. half-brother (different mothers) Gn 37:4 3. blood relative Gn 9:25, = cousin (male) 29:15 4. (without blood relationship) fellow 2S 1:26 5. fellow tribesman Gn 31:32 6. fellow-countryman Ex 2:11 7. in general, of belonging Jb 3029; in reciprocal expr.: °îš l®°¹µîw each to the other Gn 26:31 & the like 8. term of politeness to stranger Gn 29:4 9. in public, official dealings 1K 9:13 10. in song of mourning, hôy °¹µî Je 22:18. When the Jews who knew Hebrew translated this into Greek they chose the word adelphos which is the regular Greek word for brother, but it also has a wide range of meaning: Adelphos - Greek brother: litural. J 1:41; figurative. Mk 3:35; Phil 1:14. Fellow countryman or national Ro 9:3; neighbor Mt 5:22ff. Pl. brothers and sisters Lk 21:16; Eph 6:23. The problem is that the Jews had no word in Hebrew for cousin or uncle. So when James says “The common translation for the Greek "adelphos" was a brother. As in a sibling by the same mother. It was very rarely used to mean anything else.” That is a bit mistaken as seen above. Yet Greek DOES have words for different relatives. The question is, why didn’t they use them in for example Genesis 14:14? It is because they are taking their Hebrew culture and slapping the Greek language on top of it to make it fit. So we see this sometimes used in the New Testament times as well (see above) Acts 1:15-16 “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren…” So who were the 120 brethren here? He just means countrymen as stated above. Something else significant is that St. Luke and St. Paul both use specific Greek words to refer to other relatives. But something to keep in mind is that they were both Masters of the Greek language. Relatively speaking their vocabularies are huge compared to the rest of the New Testament writers. Probably because St. Luke was a gentile and St. Paul was born and raised in a Roman colony. #2 [Objector] says that Matthew 1:25 “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” Saying that Mary did not have sexual relations with Joseph until Jesus was born, but then after she did. Yet scripture uses the Greek word “until” to have another meaning. It can have the first meaning but it can also mean “up to that point”. 2 Samuel 6:23 “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto [GK until] the day of her death.” Does this mean that after her death she started having children? No 1 Timothy 4:13 “Till [until] I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” Does this mean that after St. Paul comes St. Timothy can then stop doing those things? No Both of these examples show that there can be a continuation of a matter previously stated. St. Matthew here is just stressing that St. Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary before Jesus was born. But it also is not implying that they did have sex after. #3 The main reason that we interpret those passages in Scripture that speak of Jesus’ brothers as cousins is because that is how the Church has always interpreted them. Yet Scripture has enough evidence to point us in the right direction. #4 If anything, these so-called brothers would have been half-brothers to Jesus because they did not have the same father. Jesus’ father was God The Father. #5 The Bible never calls the “brothers” of Jesus, the sons of Mary. #6 Jesus is always called ‘the’ son of Mary, never ‘a’ son of Mary. #7 When Jesus was left in the temple as a boy and Joseph and Mary go to find him, there is no record of brothers and sisters looking for him as well. #8 A devout Jew would have never left the care of his mother to anyone but his family, yet Jesus gives Mary to John (John 19:26, 27). #9 At the Annunciation while Mary is espoused to Joseph, the angel tells her that she is going to have a baby. Mary asks “how can this happen since I do not know man?” If Mary was about to get married wouldn’t it be common sense how she would have a baby? Unless of course, like tradition says that she had taken a vow of virginity. Then the question of breaking her vow would naturally be asked. Zechariah asked the same question and had his doubts because he and Elizabeth were old and he got punished. Mary is engaged to be married, asks a similar question yet doesn’t get punished. #10 A prophecy in Ezekiel 44:2 - And he said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.” This is a prophecy about how God came to dwell with the people of Israel in the Old Testament beginning back in Ezekiel 43. Notice that when God came the first time to dwell there that the gate that he came through was shut, never to be opened again because God had passed through it. Well through what gate did God come through in the New Testament times to dwell with his people? Was it not through Mary? And because the Lord passed through her, who dare come after? #11 Finally, some of the ones that are called Jesus’ brothers are other places called the children of another Mary. John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.(Jesus’ mom Mary) (Mary, wife of Cleophas) (Mary Magdalene) Matthew 27:61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. (Mary, wife of Cleophas) (Mary Magdalene) Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. (Mary, wife of Cleophas) (Mary Magdalene) Matthew 27:56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. (Mary Magdalene) (Mary, wife of Cleophas) (mother of Zebedee's children) -So Mary, wife of Cleophas, is also the mother of James and Joses. Mark 15:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. - (Mary Magdalene) (Mary, wife of Cleophas) Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. -We just saw that Mary, wife of Cleophas is the mother of James and Joses. Therefore when it calls them here Jesuss brothers, it certainly does not mean blood brothers.