Monday, December 28, 2009

Harmony of the Olivet Discourse Part 4

Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36; 17:22-37)
The last half of the Tribulation is the most horrible for Israel. The nation will see pressure from all sides, the whole world will come against her. The absence of the word of God will result in man turning into a dominating tyrant; trade, national sovereignty, and an earth full of catastrophic natural disasters bring in a global leader with its confederacy holding a heavy hand on society. The last half of the Tribulation will see the final hours of the earth in labor pains – can you imagine? Woe for the day.   

The Last Half of the Tribulation (24:15-22)
15 Whenever, therefore that you might see the abomination of desolation, the one being poured forth through the prophet Daniel, having stood in [the] holy place. The one reading, understand! 16 At that time those in Judea flee over the mountain. 17 The one on the rooftop do not come down to take away anything out from his house, 18 and the one in the field do not return afterwards to carry away his clothes. 19 But woe to those holding in her womb, and to women who are breast feeding in the day. 20 But yourselves pray in order that your flight might not be of winter and not on the Sabbath day. 21 For at that time it will be great tribulation such as has not been from [the] beginning of [the] world until this time and never be 22 and if those days had not been shortened no flesh would be saved, but for the chosen ones, these days will be shortened.                      
In verses fifteen through twenty-two, the Lord provides a warning and a great woe! The warning starts with a transitional conjunction "therefore" and is given with a sign, whenever, therefore that you might see the abomination of desolation.  The use of the aorist subjunctive "you might see" is significant here. The idea is, "there is a constant possibility, so always be watchful." Never let your guard down, because the abomination of desolation is a possibility that can occur at anytime. The word for "see" is to "see with the eyes." What must be known are the details of what the prophet Daniel describes. What is declared an abomination to the Lord is extensive, but here Daniel details a particular abomination or "detestable thing." The Lord is speaking of what was spoken through the prophet Daniel (Dan. 12:11).  Daniel says the signs will be, (1) the daily sacrifice will be taken away, then (2) the abomination that makes desolate will be set up. The Hebrew that Daniel uses is "a detestable thing, an idol." Daniel could be translated "the idol, the one that makes desolate, [is] put up"  (cf. Dan. 9:24-27).

Both Mark (13:14) and Luke (21:20) leave out Daniel as the source of the prophecy (by the NA27 text and Vulgate, but the Textus Receptus identifies Daniel in Mark), and Luke omits the description of the Temple's abomination, speaking only "when the armies surround Jerusalem," then the desolation is near. But it seems that both Matthew and Mark point the reader to a clearer understanding by adding "let the reader understand." The Lord points them to the writings of Daniel. He says, in essence, "go, read Daniel again, so that you will know and recognize the sign!"  But a second interpretation is that Jesus is anticipating the written recording of His words, and the reader should always keep these words that He speaks in mind, they are after all rooted in Daniel's prophecy.   

Dr. Toussaint comments:

Since the Lord's statement concerning the abomination of desolation is based on Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks, it is well to note the chronology of Daniel 9:24-27. Daniel prophesies that from the decree of Artaxeres – given to Nehemiah to restore and rebuild Jerusalem – until the coming of Israel's King is the period of sixty-nine weeks of years. This period of time was culminated when Christ made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But because Israel rejected its King, the calendar of events of the seventieth week had to be postponed. Consequently, the great time of tribulation spoken of in connection with that period of time (Daniel 12:1) has been put off into the future. This future period of time will be inaugurated with the signing of the covenant by the nation Israel with the wicked prince that shall come. In the middle of the week, or after three and a half years, that wicked prince will cause the temple worship at Jerusalem to cease. At that time, the abomination of desolation will be introduced in the temple. (Stanley Toussaint, Behold the King: A study of Matthew, p. 274)

Notice that for the sacrifices to be stopped, sacrifices must be present in that day. This brings great problems to those who believe in a future fulfillment. There is no temple in Israel today and, in fact, there seems no chance one will or can be built. Although for those believing this is a past event have bigger problems since there are large holes where things that clearly have not come to pass have to already have taken place – and they have not! It is far more reasonable to believe that Israel will build a temple and institute sacrifices than to believe in an allegorical fulfillment of the events. After all, is God not big enough to get the Temple built?  
One final note concerning the abomination, it seems that the abomination spoken of refers to a person who sets himself up as God in the Temple (cf., 2 Thes. 2:3-9; Mark 13:14; Rev. 13:11-18). This event is claimed to have taken place by Josephus, but it should be noted that Josephus was not an unbiased historical writer. Dr. Price notes his political motivation:

The writings of Josephus, while generally considered accurate in most details, such as architectural and cultural descriptions, are famous for their Roman political bias and openly antagonistic attitude to the aspirations of Jewish nationalism. Josephus's involvement in the Great War was primarily on the side of the Romans, a fact that caused him to be regarded as a traitor by his own Jewish nation… In keeping with his rejection of Jewish nationalism, Josephus scorned popular movements, especially messianic movements whose hopes included an earthly kingdom for Israel…This lack of eschatological hope evidently influenced Josephus to make unwarranted historical compromises and concessions. For example, despite the fact Joesephus accepted the Maccabean interpretation that Antiochus IV Epiphanes fulfilled a prophecy of Daniel concerning the "abomination of desolation" in the Temple, when he wrote his history of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, he abridged this view to "make room" to incorporate Titus and the Romans as "also" fulfilling Daniel's prophecy… (Randall Price, in Tim Lahaye & Thomas Ice gen. ed., The End Times Controversy, pp. 357-358) 

This is not the first time the Jews were not able to bring sacrifices during Israel's history. It should be noted that the Temple was desecrated many times in history: In 720 BC, Ahaz closed the temple, used its furnishings to pay Assyria tribute and defiled it with a Syrian alter (2 Kings 16:8-18). Idols were placed in the Holy of Holies by King Manasseh around 695-642 B.C. (2 Kings 21:1-11). Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) pillaged the Temple, defiled it, and stopped sacrifices (175-165 BC). Then again Aristobulus in 67 BC substituted a pig for a sheep and stopped sacrifices (67 BC). Emperor Pompey conquered Jerusalem and entered the Holy of Holies (63 BC).  Roman emperor Caligula fails in his attempt to defile the Temple by erecting a statue of himself (40 AD). Roman general Titus destroys Temple and carries off treasures (70 AD). Hadrian retakes Jerusalem, destroys Bar Kokhba Temple, and desecrates Temple mount by erecting statue of himself at the site of the Holies of Holies (135 AD).  

Though Daniel does prophesy concerning Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) in chapter 11, he goes beyond him to a "type" of him that is even more evil, whose self-worship holds no room for the worship of Greek gods (as Antiochus did), nor will this one show any regard or desire for women. This Antiochus type will be the evilest of the evil.  

At that time those in Judea flee over the mountain. The language is strong as the Lord uses the imperative – "Flee!" or "seek safety by flight!" It has a future sense but made stronger by use of the imperative. The starting location is identified as Judea.  The term Judea represents the Hellenizing of Judah which took place following the conquests of Alexander the Great. Judea is the Greek word for the Hebrew Judah. A network of Hellenistic cities surrounded the province of Judea so one by one the cities took Greek names. Geographically, the term can mean two things, (1) the political region ruled by the Romans, or (2) a general term representing the traditional land known as Judah. At its root is the term Jewish or that which belongs to the Jewish nation.

Most translations treat the preposition epi as genitival meaning "on or upon" (contact or position is implied), while others translate as a locative meaning "in" (position is implied), but the usage is accusative meaning "over or across" (motion is implied). They are to flee over the mountain, beyond the Jordan valley.     

The one on the rooftop, do not come down to take away anything out from his house. And the one in the field, do not return afterwards to carry away his clothes. The idea is to flee immediately! Stress is placed upon the person's normal daily life, either working on the rooftop or the field. "The roof, which was flat, was used for prayer, drying vegetables and other functions. The staircase from the roof was on the outside of the house; one could descend without entering the house." (Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary NT, p. 112)  The command is to leave now and don't look back! The image is that of the story of Lot and his wife who are also told to escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains lest you be destroyed" (Gen. 19:17).  The imperative mood with the third person usually is translated using the word "let" so the common translation "let him who is on the rooftop not go down to take anything out of the house."    
But woe to those holding in her womb, and to women who are breast feeding in the day.  But yourselves pray in order that your flight might not be of winter and not on the Sabbath day. This interjection "woe" is a primary exclamation of grief and as Dr. Glasscock notes, "instead of reflecting pain resulting from impending judgment (as in 23:13-29), this 'woe' more than likely attests to pity on the part of the Lord." (Glasscock, p. 470)  There is a poetic rhythm to these two verses. The "woe" of verse nineteen contrasts with the "pray" of verse twenty. The woe of the one who starts out with a heavy burden contrasts with,  pray unto God that the day does not occur on an unfortunate travel day where bad weather hampers, or supplies are not found, for there may not be a way to cross the mountains and escape alive.

The Jews in the area of Judea will be allowed to worship for a time in the Temple, so their adhering to the Law and practice thereof will again be administered by the priest. A revival of the Jewish religious establishment will flourish, so when the ruler puts a stop to Jewish worship, putting himself in the Temple, Judea will experience a sudden shock. Jews will be persecuted again with a fury as in the days of the first and second destructions of the Temple. God in His infinite sovereignty has made a day – the 9th of Av, a day of sober remembrance for the loss of both the First and Second Temples. Both the Solomonic (586 BC) and the Herodian (AD 70) Temples were destroyed some 656 years apart and on the same day! Is this by chance or design? Will the people find themselves fleeing around the 9th of Av in some kind of prophetic destructive type? Will the people find the Lord return to the Millennial Temple on the 9th of Av as some kind of prophetic reconstructive type?      

Dr. Gill notes:

When days are short, and unfit for long journeys, and roads are bad, and sometimes not passable, through large snows, or floods of water; and when to dwell in desert places, and lodge in mountains, must be very  uncomfortable….the word "day" is not in the Greek text; and some have been of opinion, that the "sabbatical year", or the seventh year, is meant, when no fruits would be found in the fields, and a great scarcity of provisions among people; who would not have a sufficiency, and much less any to spare to strangers fleeing from their native places; but rather the Sabbath day, or "day of the Sabbath", as the Persic version reads it, is designed; and Beza says, four of his copies read it in the genitive case: and so four of Stephens'. And the reason why our Lord put them on praying, that their flight might not be on the Sabbath day, was, because he knew not only that the Jews, who believed not in him, would not suffer them to travel on a Sabbath day more than two thousand cubits; which, according to their traditions, was a Sabbath day's journey; and which would not be sufficient for their flight to put them out of danger. (John Gill, Gill's Commentary on the Whole Bible). 

 For at that time it will be great tribulation such as has not been from [the] beginning of [the] world until this time and never be. This period is characterized as "great" in the sense of intensity and degree. The timing is given as "at that time" referring back to the sign and, hence, the three and a half years, or the last half of the tribulation - the Great Tribulation. Some have used this to say the Great Tribulation only involves this last half of the seven years, and the first part can only be called the Tribulation. But recognize that the whole seven years is referred to the tribulation. (cf. Daniel's 70th week; Dan. 9:24-27)!  The word thlipsis means literally "a pressing," but metaphorically, "oppression, affliction, tribulation." The root word means, "to press (as grapes), press hard, rub"  (cf. Isa. 22:5).
So great is this troubled day that nothing like it has ever been seen, nor will it ever be! The aorist subjunctive "to become, come into existence" used with the double negative expresses "emphatic negation" and may be translated "by no means" or "never."   

And if those days had not been shortened no flesh would be saved. The final three and a half years will see a great deal of death. So severe will be the period that no flesh would have survived. The final battle will involve great armies and be composed of an international array. So the word "flesh" is used, not only in a general ethnic sense, but provides the picture of dead bodies. This is not some sort of spiritual battle that is fought in everyone's lives, but a real physical battle that results in the death of the flesh – physical death. The local battle moves to a global battle that involves the whole world, the destructive force so strong that the world would be destroyed, every man, woman and child. Will mankind come up with some new weapon that he does not understand its destructive nature? Will mankind become so furious in his desire to kill every Jew that he will use such weapons in quantities that, if used, would destroy everything, even the Satanically controlled ruler?   

But the Lord has a remnant that He loves and calls, for the chosen ones, these days will be shortened. This is a purpose clause, as the preposition dia is used with the accusative meaning "because of" the chosen ones, the elect ones, the "plucked out" or "called out" ones. These "chosen ones" are not the Church, but the original chosen ones – the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – Israel. These days will be kept short. Three and a half years is a long time when you are the one hiding out in the mountains. The whole world will be looking for Jews in a great genocide – the greatest genocide ever, like has never been seen before. Truly, a time of Great Tribulation! A time of hatred and any remnant of God's word will be removed. Can you imagine a world without the word of God to hold down sin?

False Christs and Prophets (24:23-26)

23 Then if any one might say to you, see, here is the Christ or here there, do not believe. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will be aroused and they will give great signs and miracles insomuch that, to lead astray, if  able, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told to you before. 26 Therefore if they say to you behold, he is in the wilderness. Do not go, behold, in the storerooms, do not believe.               

The Lord returns to the topic of false christs and prophets. In His previous discussion (vv. 4-5), the false christs had proud, boastful language, but now these false christs and prophets will perform what appear to be miracles – counterfeit miracles.

For false Christs and false prophets will be aroused. As before, these christs are pseudo-christs and the prophets are not real but are pseudo-prophets. The Greek puts the stress upon the arousal for it is placed at the head of the sentence! The future passive verb indicates that they are not arisen yet, but moreover, that they are aroused in the sense of (1) to be stirred up (emotionally), (2) to bring before the public, or simply (3) to erect. Either way one takes this, they are passive participants and are "being" aroused with the result of visually appearing on the scene.

They will give great signs and miracles. Literally, "and they [the false christs and prophets] will give signs, great ones." A sign is a "mark" it says something about its originator. In antiquity, the common sign, if one can call this common, was the signet ring which was used to make an identifying mark on a wax seal of a document. The idea is, there is a message and it is authenticated by the originator's mark. Our modern freeway signs are exactly that, they give a message and the advertiser's name is given. A miracle is a wonder. It is something that makes the observer wonder how it is possible.

The Greek word for miracle is of unknown origin and is used here as Dr. Gill notes,

 …make an appearance of doing them, though they really did them not: so that Jonathan, before mentioned, pretended to show signs and sights; and Barcochab made as if flame came out of his mouth; and many of the Jewish doctors in these times, and following, gave themselves up to sorcery, and the magic art; and are, many of them, often said to be, "expert in wonders", or miracles. (John Gill., op. cit.)
Though these signs and wonders are given by pseudo-christs and pseudo-prophets, they are so impressive in their genuineness as to lead astray, if able, even the elect. Of course this is not possible, but as the great grammarian Dr. Robertson notes, "These charlatans will be so skilful that they will, if possible (ei dunaton), lead astray the very elect. The implication is that it is not possible. People become excited and are misled and are unable to judge the results. Often it is post hoc, sed non propter hoc." (A.T. Robertson, Robertson's Word Pictures)  

The Lord tells them in essence, "they have been warned! Take note, and do not listen to them."  The elect refers to the nation Israel. But one may argue, what is Jesus doing warning the nation Israel, have they not rejected Him? The elect of this day will hear the voice of the Lord. The elect of this day is the remnant, a special people elect unto God and will be saved on the last day, and this group will be Jewish. It is the great promise of the Old Testament that a remnant will be saved out of the house of Judah (cf., Isa. 10:20-11:16; Micah 2:12-13).

This doctrine of the "elect" being out of Israel is not without controversy. Replacement theology has thrown Israel out of the picture altogether. Notice what Dr. Pentecost says,

Until the present eschatological controversy, prophetic writers were in general agreement on the existence, the nature, the mission and the preservation of a remnant of Israel during the tribulation period. At the present time the doctrine of the remnant is being attacked by the amillennialist, who can not admit the existence of the remnant, since he affirms the church is fulfilling the covenants and no further fulfillment is possible. It is also being attacked by the posttribulation rapturist, who can not admit the existence of the remnant, for he affirms that the church is going through the tribulation so it will be the witnessing remnant. Although for different reasons, the amillennialist and the posttribulation rapturist join hands in attacking this doctrine.    

The remnant of Israel is tied to the covenant made with Abraham which is an everlasting (eternal) and unconditional (only God passed through the cut animal, cf. Gen 15:4-21) covenant. The covenant contains a land (national Israel), seed (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, i.e., ethnic seed), and blessing (that God would be their God and they would be His people). The outworking of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:4-21; 17:1-8; 22:17-18) is the Land covenant promising Israel a land (Deut. 30:1-9; Jer. 32:36-44; Ezek. 11:16-21; 36:21-38), the Davidic covenant promising Israel a King to rule in the land (2 Sam. 7:10-16; Jer. 33:20-21; Ps. 89), and the New covenant promising Israel restoration as a nation, forgiveness of sins and a new heart (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 16:60; Isa. 59:20-21; Hos. 2:14-23).

It should be noted that there has always been a believing remnant of Israel as far back as the nation was called out and established by God (cf. Isa. 41:8-10). Some would say that God rejected Israel when they rejected Him, but the New Testament makes it clear that God has not cast out the nation. God has created a new thing, the Church made up of both Jew and Gentile and called it a mystery (something not revealed in the OT, but now revealed, cf. Rom. 11:25; Eph. 1:9; 3:1-21). This is the blessing part of the covenant that the Gentile partakes in, a spiritual blessing which brings new life to the one who believes the gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-5).

Today Israel is predominately secular. This seems to continue as she will enter the Tribulation as an unbelieving nation. She will be brought back to the land and God will deal with the nation to bring her to repentance. Today, the whole seventieth week of Daniel is a period of preparation for the coming of the her King. The nation will receive a multitude of witness of various kinds so that individuals will experience salvation (Rom. 11:26-27). Brethren will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Rev. 12:10-11). The remnant of the Tribulation will be the witnessing body during the Tribulation testifying of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:11,17). This will satisfy the original purpose of Israel in the Old Testament to be God's witness to the nations on earth which they failed to do, but now will perform in boldness as the world comes against them.   

The next article will bring the coming of the Son of Man on the scene and the wonderful parables for us to live by today.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Harmony of the Olivet Discourse Part 3

Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36; 17:22-37)

The topic now turns to the Tribulation. Our Lord will prepare the nation Israel for the Millennial Kingdom with a unique seven year period of Tribulation. This will be a time of discipline and purging for the nation. For the Gentiles, it is a time of pouring out divine judgment upon those who have not dealt justly with Israel. The period marks the end of the period known as the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24), that period marked by Gentile control of Jerusalem since 600 B.C.

The Tribulation is first prophesied in the Old Testament in Deut. 4:29-30. The prophets provide more detail concerning its nature and character. For example, Jeremiah 30:4-11 describes a time of great trouble – the time of Jacob's trouble:

5 For thus says the LORD: 'We have heard a voice of trembling, Of fear, and not of peace. 6  Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale? 7  Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob's trouble, But he shall be saved out of it. 8  'For it shall come to pass in that day,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'That I will break his yoke from your neck, And will burst your bonds; Foreigners shall no more enslave them. 9  But they shall serve the LORD their God, And David their king, Whom I will raise up for them. 10  'Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,' says the LORD, 'Nor be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar, And your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, And no one shall make him afraid. 11  For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, And will not let you go altogether unpunished.'   (Jer. 30:5-11; See also Daniel 7:7-8, 19-27; 11:36-45; 12:11-13; Joel 2:1-11, 28-32; Zeph. 1:14-18; Zech. 13:8-14:2; 1 Thes. 5:1-11; 2 Thes. 2:1-12; Rev.chap 4-19)   

Dr. Benware writes, "Pretribulational writes agree in general that the Olivet Discourse is indeed future … There is some disagreement on where 24:4-14 fits into the tribulation. Some view it as an overview of the entire period, with 24:4-8 looking at the first half and 24:9-14 viewing the second half of the tribulation. Others view 24:4-14 as a reference only to the first half." (Paul Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy, p. 370).

Benware also notes, "After the church is removed from the earth at the rapture, the world will experience a time commonly called the tribulation. There could well be a short period of time between the rapture and the actual beginning of the tribulation during which some necessary alignments and developments take place. Based on Daniel 9:24-27, this period begins when the man known as the Antichrist signs a treaty with the nation of Israel. The Antichrist will seem at first to be a protector of Israel, but he will turn out to be the great persecutor of Israel. The seven-year Tribulation is divided into two distinct parts of three and a half years each." (Benware, p. 199).
The Tribulation (24:10-14)
 10 And then many will be offended and they will give into the hands of one another and they will hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will be aroused and they will lead many astray. 12 And through the multiplicity of iniquity, the love of the many will be cool. 13 But the one who remains to [the] end, this one will be saved.  14 And this one, the gospel of the kingdom, will be proclaimed in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations and at that time the end will come.

And then many will be offended. The many will be stumblers, lit. "to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, to offend."  For whatever reason there are those who seem to be believers, they are in the churches and profess Christ as their Savior, but they walk contrary to God's word. "But let money, goods, position, honor, liberty, or blood be the price of faithfulness, how many will then deny the Name!" (Lenski, p. 933)  The word apostasy come to the English from the Greek meaning "a standing away," and theologically means that those in the church will stand away from the Lord's work and a great apostasy will precede the Day of the Lord which is characterized by a denial of God, a denial of Christ, a denial of sound doctrine, faith, and morality (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thes. 2:3; Heb. 3:12) ( Mal Couch, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Grand Rapids:Kregel, 1996), p. 56).

The reason is they were not really believers at all. But at this time in history, that is, in the Tribulation, there will be groups that will give into the hands of one another and they will hate one anotherThe term "give into the hands of another" is often translated as simply "betray one another." That is just what this is! The motivation for this betrayal is hatred, the Greek word means, "to hate, pursue with hatred, to detest." This is a repeated message from the Lord to His disciples, this is the second time He lets them know about this kind of hate (cf. Mat. 10:22).  In Matthew 10, Jesus tells the disciples to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel preaching the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus tells them He sent them out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so they are directed to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, "bet beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues." The disciples were going out into a hostile world preaching the gospel of the Kingdom. In Mathew 24, the Tribulation, comes upon them suddenly, there is a tense atmosphere of war, famines, and earthquakes. In Matthew 10, the Jewish councils will deal with the Jewish believers, in Matthew 24, the all nations seems to be the source of hate (24:9).

And many false prophets will be aroused and will lead astray many.  In this later period there will be psedoprophetes - a false prophet, from the compound pseudes meaning "lying, deceitful, or false," and prophetes "prophet." This is what a psedoprophet is, a lying prophet and there will be many who will be aroused. Notice the passive "be aroused," there is an external agent acting! The thing causing them to be aroused, be raised up, is not declared, but no doubt the ruler of this world, Satan, will arouse them for the task and many will be led astray.  
There will be a period where iniquity, that is literally, 'a' – "not," and nomos "law," lawlessness will increase to the point that the love of self will become so great that the love of the many will become cool, or as Dr. Vincent writes, "The verb means originally to breathe or blow; and the picture is that of spiritual energy blighted or chilled by a malign or poisonous wind."  These are people who will put away our Lord's two great laws, the love your God, and love you neighbor as yourself (Mat. 19:19; 22:39). These two great laws have been cast aside and replaced with the one law - self-love, which is no law at all. Self-love will justify anything, break any law, in order to satisfy self.     

But the one who remains to [the] end.  The one who remains means the one who remains [with the law, the law of love]. That is, there is a contrast presented between the lawless ones and those who follow God's law. Those in the "law" are not necessary in the Mossiac Law, for Jesus summarized all the law into two. This group will experience a hard time and will be persecuted, some may be killed, but the Lord will bring them through to the end. This one will be saved, or delivered.  The word in the Greek means, "to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction." Each one who abides in the Lord will come through, rescued from destruction. The passive voice means an external agent will rescue "this one." This one may be persecuted even unto death, but his or her salvation is secure, and the Lord Himself will bring them through! This speaks of the security of the believer. It is not by the power of man, but by the power of God.

And this one, the emphasis is placed upon the one who the Lord has brought through this dreadful period. This one will hear the gospel of the kingdom that is proclaimed in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations and at that time the end will come. This is in effect an apoligic concerning Israel. A historical account that God chose Israel and preserved the nation, they in effect become a living witness of the power of God.  What is the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 11:5; 24:14; Mark 1:14, 15) and how is it different from the gospel of Christ (cf. Acts 20:24; Rom. 1:9, 16; 15:29; 1 Cor. 9:12, 18; 15:1; 2 Cor 2:12; 4:4; 9:13; 10:14; Gal. 1:7; Eph. 1:13; 1 Thes. 3:2; 2 Thes. 1:8). 

The gospel of the kingdom that the Lord gave is expressed as:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38  See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39  "for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' (Matt. 23:37-39)

Though the Lord does not pronounce this as the gospel, the meaning comes from the Old Testament promise of the Messianic Kingdom where national Israel will be gathered together to dwell with the Lord in everlasting peace (cf. Ps. 17:8; 91:4; 118:26; Isa. 49:5, as the Lord uses all these verses to build His statement).  

The word gospel comes from the middle English god-spel meaning good-news and is just a translation of the Greek  euaggelion from the compound of eu meaning "good," and aggelos meaning "a messenger," hence, the usual translation "good-news."  This gospel, or good news of the kingdom is the promised Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-17). This is different from the gospel of Christ (cf., Rom. 19:19; 1 Cor. 15:1-5) which is often times simply called "the gospel". The gospel of Christ is that which is to be preached today, that is, we preach Christ's death, burial and resurrection to all the world.

The gospel of the kingdom is that promised one thousand year earthly reign of the Messiah and is an Old Testament concept meaning "bring news of victory." The good news of God's kingly rule (cf. Ps. 40:9; Isa. 52:7; 61:1). As the Lord reveals, He desires to gather the remnant of Israel together "as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing," a picture of the little chicks safe and secure under the protection and provision of their mother (cf. Ps. 91:4). One asks, how is God revealed in His creation? An example is given here. His loving care for His people is revealed as a mother's love for her young offspring. That is why God is called Father. He cares for His children Israel (cf. Isa. 63:16; Jer. 31:9), and for believers in general who are also called sons of God (cf. Mat. 6:9; 1 Jn. 1:12-13; Gal. 1:1,4).  The picture is that of a loving fatherly relationship. 

What are the particulars of the kingdom? While there is described the Kingdom of God that has existed throughout time, that is, God's kingdom exists now and He is on His throne, ruling sovereignly and in control over all creation. The kingdom described here is a promised earthly kingdom where Christ Himself will reign for one thousand years after His second coming. In this earthly kingdom Dr. Pentecost notes several characteristics: it is (1) characterized by righteousness (Mat. 25:37; Isa. 46:13; 51:5; 60:21; Psa. 110:4); (2) characterized by obedience (Gen. 2:16-17; Eph. 1:9-10; Heb. 10:9); (3) characterized by holiness (Isa. 4:3-4; 6:13; 35:8-10; Psa. 60:6; Joel 3:17); (4) characterized by truth (Rom. 1:25; Jn. 14:6); and (5) characterized by the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29; Ezk. 37:14) (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, pp. 481-487).

There are several events that must take place, one is the Second Coming of Christ, another will be resurrections, and another judgments. Finally, Christ's government will be set up and He will reign as Supreme King. But, along with a Kingly righteous rule, there will be set up the Millennial Temple where He Himself will teach all nations. (John Walvoord, in Mal Couch gen. ed., The Fundamentals for the Twenty-First Century, pp. 536-538).   

It should be pointed out that there is some commonality between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of Christ. That commonality has to do with salvation. Gentiles partake in the blessing of a promised salvation, so the gospel of Christ involves the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, because He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  This is the spiritual part of the promise made to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3), "all the families of the earth" are promised spiritual blessing. Gentiles partake in the spiritual part of the covenant while both the physical and spiritual blessings come to Israel in the fullness of time in the kingdom.  

Dr. Walvoord notes the distinction in the Abrahamic covenant between the blessings for the Gentile and the physical seed – the Jew, as he writes, "Not only should these distinctions [physical verses spiritual blessings] be observed, but it should be carefully noted what is left out of the covenant. While Abraham is personally justified by faith because of trust in God's promise concerning his seed, it is obvious that the Abrahamic covenant itself is not the gospel of salvation even though the promised blessing anticipated the gospel (cf. Gal. 3:8)." (John Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, p. 143).

The characteristics of the Kingdom are scattered throughout the Old Testament and again Jesus gives us the parables of the Kingdom (cf. Matt. 13). A summary of the characteristics of the Kingdom are:

  1. Type of government is Messianic – Christ centered (Dan. 7:14; Isa. 11:4; 65:20; Rev. 19:15)
  2. The government will be centered in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3; 24:23; 26:1-4; Zech. 14:10) 
  3. The resurrected David will act as prince under the authority of Christ (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 37:24-25)
  4. The Apostles will have some authority in the Kingdom (Matt. 19:28)
  5. National repentance of Israel (Isa. 1:21-31; 2:5; 6:11-13; 28:5-6, 23-29)
  6. Divine deliverance of repentant Israel (Isa. 63:15-64:12; Jer. 29:12-14)
  7. Resurrected OT and NT believers in the Kingdom
  8. Those who survive the Tribulation enter the kingdom
  9. Removal of oppression against Israel and universal peace (Ps. 46-9; 72:7)
  10. Universal knowledge of God (Isa. 2:3; 11:9; 44:4-5; 45:8, 17; 55:13; 59:20-21; 60:21; 65:13-16; Jer. 24:7; 30:9,22; 31:1, 31-34; 32:38; Ezek. 36:24-32)
  11. Rebels will be dealt with quickly (Isa. 65:20; Zech. 14:16-19)
  12. Satan bound for the 1000 year (Rev. 20:2-3)
  13. Restored land divided and given to Israel (Isa. 14:1-2; 26:15; 33:17; Jer. 50:34; Ezek. 36:8, 12; 47:13-48:29)  
  14. The land transformed and  fertile (Isa. 4:2; 29:17; 30:23-30; 32:16-18; 33:10-11; Zech. 14:4; Ezek. 47:1-12)
  15. Loosing of Satan at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:7-10)

The gospel will be proclaimed in all the inhabited earth. This gospel [of the kingdom] will be preached or proclaimed openly as the word would imply. It means, "to  herald, or proclaim openly, to publish," and indeed this gospel has been openly published since the closing of the cannon of Scripture and proclaimed openly to every nation of the earth! The Greek "in all the world" in which I have translated "in all the inhabited earth" uses the word oikoumene meaning the inhabited earth, universe or world, and comes from the verb oikeo meaning "to dwell,"  "in every dwelling place" as the singular would render.

The proclamation of the gospel serves as a witness to all the ethnos literally, "ethnic groups, or nations." When all these things occur, then at that time the end will come. Or more literally, then the end (to set out for a definite point or goal, but not of the end of a period of time) will have come, or arrived.   This is the end of the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). There is a goal in mind, but a process or sequence of events must come about as that of a woman giving birth, before the end point arrives. The implication is that something follows, and "that something" is the millennial kingdom, the new birthed kingdom!  While Jesus in His public ministry went about proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom (cf. Matt. 4:23; 9:35), this gospel will be proclaimed to all the earth! This Messianic Kingdom, the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant will about. The good news of the Kingdom – that Israel will never again be oppressed in her land. A Kingdom where God will be their God and they will be His people (Deu. 11:13; Jer. 7:23; 30:22).     

Friday, November 6, 2009

Theology in John 1-3 Part 2

The last article examined the opening chapter of John's gospel which concentrated on the person of the One who came in the flesh – Christ, the Son of God. Though John does not move away from pounding the point of the deity of Christ throughout the book, he intertwines the major theme of the book, the fundamental concept that belief is what brings life – eternal life. This article continues the task of defining who Jesus is, by examining the method of pronouncing Him though the God's legal demand of the use of personal testimony.

Spiritual transformation that results in eternal life does not come by any means of man by himself, but rather by an external agent – God, and although all three persons of the Godhead participate in this transformation, John concentrates in the early chapters upon means - believing in His name; Jesus Christ, the Anointed Savior.  The apostle John puts it this way, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)  

John uses the word "believe" some 98 times. He prefers the word believe over faith (this will be looked at later). As part of the doctrine of belief is the logical question, "what is believed?" It is not simply belief, for even the demons believe (cf, Matt. 8:29; James 2:19) and they are not called children of God. No, it is a positive belief, a belief that is accepted in the affirmative that Jesus is the Christ and their personal savior. There is no rejection of who Jesus is, there is no curious consideration of what does this mean, but a belief that is the result of a changed heart, a new heart, a new capability to hear and accept the things of God. Belief is seen as a gift that is received by the child of God. A belief that is a gift from God – yes, even our faith is called a gift (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). That indeed one's belief is a work of God (cf. John 6:29)!

Part of what God wants to demonstrate is that man on his own refuses to accept the things of God. Man in is fallen estate is so prideful, the heart so hardened, so callused, that he finds no need for God – he wants to be independent, so the callus thickens, growing to the point where nothing can pricks it. God provides a witness to all and that witness is provided for a reason. To demonstrate the hold sin has on mankind. That even with a true witness, man refuses to take notice, examine the facts before him or her and accept the facts as they are – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World.     

A witness is not usually a theological construct formulated and presented, but the doctrine of a witness provides the legal demands of God and appears early in the testimony of Moses in the Law. It also appears early in the Gospel of John and for good reason. A witness is binding and by two witnesses a death penalty can be executed (Dt. 17:6). There are observed in Scripture seven witnesses of God to the world; (1) Israel (Isa. 43:10-12; 44:8), (2) the prophets (Act 10:43; 26:22-23), (3) John the Baptist (John 1:7, 15, 32-34; 5:33-34), (4) Jesus (John 8:18; 18:37; Rev. 1:5-6), (5) the Holy Spirit (John 15:26; Act 5:30-32; Rom. 8:6), (6) signs and wonders (John 2:11; 20:30-31; Heb. 2:3-4), (7) and Jesus' followers (Luke 1:2; Act 1:8; 3:15-16; 5:30-32; 10:41-42).

Paul adds creation as a witness that clearly proclaims who God is so that no one has an excuse (Rom. 1:18-25), John restricts witnesses to a spoken word - a testimony. The word witness in the Greek is the verb martureo meaning "to be a witness," "to bear witness," and means "to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something, or that he knows it because it was taught by divine revelation or inspiration." However, it is in the Hebrew that an 'ed "a witness" more closely relates to the legal aspect of "evidence," "a legal testimony," and its root verb means to "repeat," "do again," "say again." That is what a witness does; he or she repeats the words, events and works.

It is no mistake that two witnesses can be found in John chapters 1-3; John the Baptist and signs and wonders. John the Baptist's witness was to prepare the way of the Lord as he implored the nation to repent, then he pointed to the Messiah as the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Signs and wonders are the validation of the person performing the act as someone from God so that those listening will pay attention to the message. But this someone was not just another prophet but God in the flesh - the promised Messiah.    

John the Baptist as Witness
John the Baptist was sent by God Himself as a witness, "to bear witness of the Light" (John 1:6-7). John was from a line of priests, his father was a priest and his mother was a daughter from the line of Aaron which makes his witness especially important. And the people seem to flock to his witness, first as a man separated from the traditional priesthood, a Nazarite, but also because his mission was somewhat unique, it was to prepare the way for the Lord. John became a well known person who performed baptisms for repentance. It seems that during John's baptizing, all that repentance and ritual washing caused an increase in the number of personal sacrifices in Jerusalem, the Jewish authorities wanted to know what this was all about. He says to the inquiring Jewish leadership upon their inquiry of who he was:

"He said: I [am] 'the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord."

The expression "make straight" is used for "making a road," clearing all the debris so that people can travel without obstacles (John 1:23). In John the Baptist's case, there were a lot of obstacles to clear. He was separated from the religious crowd with their traditions that corrupted the word of God. So his teachings were not like those of the nation's established priesthood with its man-made traditions (Matt. 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). The gospels speak of John the Baptist's message as containing three major topics: (1) repentance for the forgiveness of sins; (2) baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, and (3) the nearness of the kingdom of God (Matt. 3:1; Mark 1:4; 7-8; Luke 3:7-14; cf. Matt. 3:11-12).  

John's gospel, however, is somewhat different from the other gospels. He tells the Baptist's message with greater detail placed upon the facts of the witness. John's gospel explains that when John the Baptist taught in the wilderness, his message was focused upon:

 (1) The ever-existing one is coming (John 1:15, 30)
 (2) Jesus will bring blessing after blessing (John 1:16)
 (3) Jesus will make God the Father known because He is God (John 1:18)
 (4) Baptism with water whose purpose is to reveal the Savior to Israel (John 1:26, 31)
 (5) Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
 (6) The Holy Spirit's baptism of Jesus (John 1:32)
 (7) Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:34)
 (8) Who so ever believes in the Son has eternal life (John 3:36)
 (9) Who so ever rejects the Son will have God's wrath (John 3:36)

To see John the Baptist in his final days speaks volumes about the hatred of the righteousness of God. In his early mission he professed repentance to individual Jews and received a sizable following, but how did the message go with the Jewish leadership? At first he was accepted as Jesus says the Jewish leadership "rejoiced in his light" (John 5:35). That rejoicing did not last long as they, as a whole, rejected him and did not think much of him. In his later days he was placed in jail by Herod Antipas who was a Jew who seduced his brother's wife Herodias, divorced his own wife then married her.  A violation of the law so when John the Baptist pointed this out, instead of repentance – calling it like it is, John came to his death as his head was delivered to Herodias' daughter on a platter. This speaks volumes about mankind's desire for sin and the hatred of the righteousness of God.       

Signs and wonders as witness
Signs and wonders are spoken of as witnesses. The question is what is their testimony? The main testimony of a sign and wonder is that it validates the messenger is from God. The next thing one is to do is listen to the one displaying the sign and wonder. In Jesus' case, in the first three chapters of the book of John anyway, signs were used by Jesus to get the people's attention so that "you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31; cf. John 2:23b). 

So it is that when Jesus turned water to wine in chapter two, this is said to be a sign that "manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him" (John 2:11). 

The Lamb of God
John the Baptist's testimony is that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Sacrifice appears in scripture seemingly out of nowhere. It is first observed in Genesis 4 as Abel brings his firstling before the Lord for an acceptable sacrifice (Gen. 4:4; cf Heb. 11:4). Next, we find the promised lamb to be provided by God Himself as Abraham, by faith, offers his son Isaac (Gen. 22:8-12; cf Heb. 11:17). This lamb prefigured the Paschal Lamb offered up on the first night of Passover, which itself prefigured Jesus the Lamb of God.  The third instance is when the nation Israel is in bondage in Egypt and the Lord command the nation to place lambs blood upon the two doorposts and those who do will be spared the death of the firstborn (Ex. 12:3-15). This occasion is then commemorated in the feast of Passover (Ex. 12). Then a slaughtering of a lamb is placed as an important place in the law specifically in the specified days and feasts of the nation. The fifth instance is Isaiah's prophecy concerning the suffering servant, speaking not of a real lamb, not of the nation Israel, but of a man, Jesus Himself. Next,  in John 1:29, we have the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world identified. Then, in Revelation 5 we have the Lamb magnified by the hosts of heaven (Rev. 5:12). And finally, the Lamb is seen glorified as He is seated on the eternal throne of God (Rev. 22:1). Arthur Pink writes the following: "Once more; mark the orderly development in the scope of the sacrifices. In Gen. 4 sacrifice is offered for the individual – Abel. In Ex. 12 the sacrifice avails for the whole household. In Lev. 16, on the annual Day of Atonement, the sacrifice was efficacious for the entire nation. But here in John 1:29 it is "Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" – Gentiles are embraced as well as Jew!" (Arthur Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, p. 59)    

The typology of the slain Lamb    
Typology may be defined as "an Old Testament institution, event, person, object, or ceremony which has reality and purpose in Biblical history, but which also by divine design foreshadows something yet to be revealed" (Donald Campbell in Paul Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy, p. 167).

As Dr. Couch notes, "Prophecies and types both point to things future and are predictive in their natures. Types, however, are to be distinguished from prophecies in their respective forms. That is, a type prefigures coming reality; a prophecy verbally delineates the future. A type is expressed in events, persons, and acts; a prophecy is couched in words and statements. A type is passive in form, a prophecy active….When an Old Testament element is said to be a type of an element in the New, this does not mean that one equals the other. One element may prefigure another and the resemblance between the two may be very close, but a type never equals its antitype. The Old Testament sacrificial lamb typifies – but does not equal – Christ." (Mal Couch, gen.ed., An Introduction to Evangelical Hermeneutics, p. 81). 
The Old Testament typology of the slain lamb applied to Jesus as the Lamb of God has at its core the prophetic reality that Jesus is the spotless (without sin) lamb that has been offered up once for all, never to be offered up again in our place (Heb. 9:28).  

It is not a small point that this typology of a slain lamb and Jesus as the Lamb of God was (a) planned before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20); (b) foretold in the Old Testament (Isa. 53); and (c) fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:32-35).     

The significance of the blood of the Lamb
The significance of the shed blood can be found in the Old Testament to be applied in several ways apart from the simple killing: (1) as a sacrifice (i.e., religious significance), (2) sealing of a treaty, and (3) a payment of tribute.

Sacrifice.  The sacrificial offering was both before the Law (Gen. 4) and as part of the institution of the Law (Ex. 12; Num. 28-29). This offering involved the slaughtering of the animal and the shedding of blood. Of this blood it is said "for the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11), but the blood also symbolized forgiveness (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22), in fact it offered a legal transaction in the Law. Jesus, when His blood was shed on the cross is said to be presented to God in heaven (Heb. 9:12, 24-28), and was used to accomplish: (1) our forgiveness (Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:22; Rev. 1:5); (2) our redemption (Acts 20:28; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:18-19); (3) our atonement (Rom. 3:25); (4) our justification (Rom. 5:9); (5) our reconciliation (Eph. 2:13-16); (6) our cleansing (Heb. 9:14; 1Jn. 1:7; Rev. 7:14); (7) our holiness (Heb. 10:29; 13:12); (8) the power over Satan (Rev. 12:11); and (9) established the New Covenant (Luke 22:20; 1Cor. 11:25).   

Sealing of a Treaty. Another application of the blood of a slain lamb is in the sealing of treaties by God Himself in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15), and between individuals (cf. Gen. 21:27-31). This sealing of a treaty insures that the requirements of the treaty terms will be fulfilled and backed by blood. It is no small thing that the blood of Jesus establishes the New Covenant (Luke 22:20).  

Payment of Tribute. As a payment of tribute the offering was to be the best of the flock. This "best of the flock" was of an acceptable age and without defects (Lev. 1:10; cf., Num. 31:37).

Propitiation. The shed blood symbolizes forgiveness as it makes atonement (Lev. 17:11) and purifies (Heb. 9:22), it is said to be a propitiation (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:5). A propitiation is a satisfaction, and while some theologians do not like the word satisfaction for propitiation, the fact is Jesus' death satisfied the righteous demands of God. The word, however, has an Old Testament element as the word propitiation is used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated); hence the lid of expiation, the propitiatory (Online Bible Greek Lexicon).

The extent of the sacrifice of the Lamb
The extent of the sacrifice, as John the Baptist says, covers the "sin of the world." In fact the word atonement in the Old Testament is the word kaphar and means "to cover." John, however, says Jesus is the Lamb of God who "takes away" the sin of the world. Not only was the extent of the sacrifice to cover all sin, but Jesus' sacrifice takes away, or as the Greek word airo means "to pick up and carry off or away," as Vincent's Word Studies notes "either takes away or takes upon himself, in order to bear: either removal or expiation of sin."

The fact is, Jesus' sacrifice is unique in that unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament that were effective for a limited group, for a limited time, Jesus' sacrifice was for the world. This is specified by the Apostle John in the following way: (1) by John the Baptist – "Behold! The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29); (2) by Jesus – "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16).

And in case some might restrict the meaning of world to mean "both Jew and Gentile," but moreover, limited to believers; John in his First Epistle writes, "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:2). There can be no mistaking – His death covered the whole world!     

The doctrine of baptism
The doctrine of baptism in the first three chapters of John is a major theme. The theme goes something like this: John the Baptist is introduced in chapter one and Jesus is baptized, and the foretelling of His special baptism which will be with the Holy Spirit (notice Jesus does not baptize with water - His disciples do the baptizing cf., 4:2; Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit cf., 1:33). Then, the miracle of water turned to wine, water being that basic element of the baptism. Chapter three starts with the description of the new birth. Jesus speaks in reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit - That very thing that John the Baptist proclaimed concerning Jesus' baptism in chapter one. In other words, water baptism prefigured the baptism of the Holy Spirit (cf. Tit. 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21)  and is used to picture important theological truths (cf. Rom. 6:1-10; Gal. 3:27; 1 Pet. 3:21). Water baptism has the basic meaning of association or identification with someone, some group, some message or some event (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 488).

The word in the Greek baptizo means "to dip, immerse, submerge, to wash." In the Old Testament baptism was a ritual for cleansing, initiation or identification; as an example, it was required for the priest upon his initiation to service. The Jewish rules of purification concerning ritual uncleanness gave the word a technical religious connotation implying purification. During the diaspora, Gentiles seeking admission to Israel required public repentance and acceptance of Mosaic Law were immersed in water, symbolizing moral and ritual cleansing from the defilements of paganism (Walter Elwell, Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible, p. 50).  

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary notes the following different types of baptisms in Scripture:
Jewish baptism: a ceremonial cleansing prescribed for both people and articles (Ex. 19:10-14; Lev. 8:6; Heb. 9:10).
John's baptism: a preparatory act in which Jews expressed their belief in the imminent coming of the Messiah and their desire to turn away from sin and live righteous lives (Mark 1:4-8).
Jesus' baptism: an act of ceremonial righteousness. By being baptized, Christ was not admitting His sinfulness, as those who submitted to John's baptism were, nor repentance. Instead through baptism, Christ was consecrating Himself to His ministry (Mark 1:9-11).
Spirit baptism: the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which believers are joined to the body of Christ (Rom. 6:3, 4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26, 27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:9-12).
Christian baptism: a ceremonial act instituted by Christ (Matt. 28:19) and practiced by the apostles (Acts 2:38) that depicts a believer's union and identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Baptism by fire: a possible reference either to the judgment at the Second Coming or to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost (Matt. 3:9-12; Luke 3:16, 17).

Baptism symbolizes the following:
Forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38)
Washing away of sins (Acts 22:16)
Spiritual rebirth (Tit 3:5)
Salvation (1 Pet. 3:21)
Dying with Christ, in His death, burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12)
Inclusion in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13)
Unity in the body of Christ (Eph. 4:3-6)
Being clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27)

Christian baptism:
Commanded by Jesus (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:16)
Done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19)

Dr. Waterhouse summarizes, "Baptism speaks of a sharing in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Sharing in Christ's life comes about through Spirit baptism into the Spirit of Christ. Thus, baptism in water also pictures baptism in the Spirit and union with the universal church. The one who undergoes baptism displays obedience to Christ's command and identifies with the visible church. It also seems reasonable to think that baptism symbolizes the cleansing (forgiveness) which comes through faith in Christ." (Steven Waterhouse, Not by Bread Alone – an Outlined guide to Bible Doctrine, Amarillo:Westclift Press, p. 349)      

The doctrine of the baptizing of Jesus by the Holy Spirit                                                
From birth Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, so what is the significance of the baptism of Jesus as the Holy Spirit came upon Him like a dove at the age of about 30? The significance of the baptism of Jesus is the induction into His first coming ministry. Dr. Walvoord writes, "From now on, the Holy Spirit will effect the outward signs of Messiahship, the miracles and the prophetic ministry of Christ being its major evidence. As the coming of the Spirit in the form of a dove was visible and outward, so the ministry of the Spirit would be visible and outward." (John Walvoord, The Holy Spirit, p. 95)

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would indwell people for a temporary period in order for the person indwelt to accomplish a specific task. So the individual would be gifted in some cases with wisdom (Gen. 41:38-40; Num. 27:18; Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 1 Sam. 10:10; 16:13), special skills (Ex. 28:30-35; 31:3; 1 Kgs. 7:14), and unusual physical strength (Judg. 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14).

Dr. Pentecost notes, "We must remember that John from his birth had been filled, or controlled by, the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15). Because of the Spirit's ministry John recognized the person who was presenting Himself for baptism and knew He was not a candidate for his baptism. It had been made very clear that baptism by John was a sign of confession and repentance with a view to forgiveness of sin. Jesus Christ was sinless and therefore had no need for repentance or confession. The nature of John's baptism thus eliminated Jesus as an eligible candidate for such baptism. …The use of water was the same, but the significance was not identical. The baptism of Jesus by John was a special, unique kind of baptism. It was distinct both from John's baptism and from Christian baptism even as John's baptism was distinct from a believer's baptism today." (J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, Grand Rapids:Zondervan, 1981, p. 92-93)

Believe in His name – Becoming a Child of God
To believe in Jesus' name is to possess life (John 3:15). What does it mean to believe in His name?

John chapter one says,

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

His name is Jesus Christ, Jesus is of Hebrew origin from Yehoshua' or Joshua a compound of "Jehovah is salvation," and Christ is the Greek Christos meaning "anoint." The name comes from the Old Testament – the Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel. To anoint someone in the Old Testament was to empower one to perform a task so Priests, Kings and prophets were anointed, but Jesus Christ is the special, unique Anointed One who will deliver and save Israel and bring in ultimate peace in the Messianic Kingdom. "Rabbinical writings refer to 456 separate OT passages used to refer to the Messiah and messianic times (Edershiem, 710-41)….From a theological perspective, the unique role of the Messiah is that He combines in His person and work the roles of the three different messiahs of the OT theocracy – the prophet, the priest, and the king" (Mal Couch, gen. ed., The Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, p. 251).  

So to believe in His name is to believe He is the Anointed Savior. That promised Messiah of the Old Testament that would come into the world and perform the task of the suffering servant taking the sins of the world upon Himself (Isa. 7:14; 52:13-53:12), and that He will return as victorious King, reconciling all things and ultimately bring in the eternal state.

His first coming Prophecy of Isaiah 53 and NT fulfillment
  He will be call Immanuel – God with us                  Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31-35
  He will be exalted (52:13)                                         Phil. 2:9
  He will be disfigured by suffering (52:14; 53:2)       Mark 15:17, 19
  He will be widely rejected (53:1, 3)                          John 12:37, 38
  He will bear our sins and sorrows (53:4)                   Rom. 4:25; 1 Pet. 2:24, 25
  He will make a blood atonement (53:5)                    Rom. 3:25
  He will be our substitute (53:6, 8)                             2 Cor. 5:21
  He will voluntarily accept our guilt and punishment John 10:11
  He will be buried in a rich man's tomb (53:9)           John 19:38:42
  He will justify many from their sin (53:10, 11)         Rom. 5:15-19
  He will die with transgressors (53:12)                       Mark 15:27, 28; Luke 22:37

The book of John has a lot to say concerning the role of Jesus in His first coming, for example, John 12:27: "Now, My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour." His name was given by the angel Gabriel as: "you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Mat. 1:21).   

So it is that John the apostle summaries the purpose of Jesus' first coming when he writes,

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:10-13)

Jesus was a Jew so He came to the Jew first, but they did not receive Him. But whosoever believes in Him name will find eternal life. This eternal life is associated with being born of God – not man. The summary statement is made clear by the three-fold literally jewel – not of blood (or as the NIV states "born not of natural decent"); not of the will of the flesh (not by any natural desire); not of the will of man (John Gill says, man's free will, which is carnal and corrupt, is enmity to God, and impotent to everything that is spiritually good.") – Salvation is of God and Him alone!  

John speaks of life, possessing life, and eternal life more than any other gospel writer. A survey of the doctrine of life in John is rich and varied as only this Jewish writer can accomplish. The topical survey is:

Life in Jesus Himself (1:4; 5:26; 11:25; 14:6)
Water of life (4:14; 7:37-38)
Bread of life (6:33, 35, 48, 51, 53-54)
Light of life (8:12)
Eternal life through faith in Jesus (3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 17:2-3; 20:31)
A full life (10:10)

In chapter one, John uses life as the previous article detailed, as physical life of everyone who comes into the world and "in Him was life" spoke of his self-existence, life apart from the created things which He created. Then, in chapter three Jesus moves to the spiritual life that one must possess and having eternal life comes from "believing in Him," a variation of believe in His name (John 3:15-16).

The consequence of not believing in Him is said to be the "wrath of God abides (continues to abide) upon him." The word for "wrath" is sometimes translated as "anger." The continuous sense has the idea that the unbeliever is now and continues in both his natural life and the wrath to come is in a state of alienation from God. Or as Vincent puts it, "He lives continually in an economy which is alienated from God, and which, in itself, must be habitually the subject of God's displeasure and indignation" (Vincent's Word Studies).         

Life has to do with participating in the goodness of what God actively provides every moment. Death by contrast is the absence of any good that God provides - it is separation from God. Separation from His provision is seen as torment – eternal pain and torment.