Discourse 97 – Raising and Resurrection – the realities of another dimension.




The First Resurrection: for the entire congregation or just for the martyrs? / Reply Heinz Menschik 00, 2009-02-06

The statements in Scripture.

The raising.

The Resurrection.

The true "Holy Week" - tabular Overview of the Week of Jesus’ Crucifixion

The Rapture.

The First Resurrection.

Will lesbians and gays also reign in the kingdom of a thousand years? / Reply Heinz Menschik 01, 2009-02-25

Is baptism by water a condition of being able to enter the kingdom of God? / Commentary, Anonymous 00, 2016-03-11



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The First Resurrection: for the entire congregation or just for the martyrs? / Reply, HM 00, 2009-02-06)

I have now read a number of your articles, and it has struck me in this connection that you repeatedly criticize those commentators who interpret the First Resurrection of Rev 20,4 as referring not just to the martyrs but to the entire congregation of all time. In consequence you also dispute the claim that the risen congregation will reign with Christ in the kingdom of a thousand years, and characterize the advocates of this view by implication as lacking in humility and addicted to power.

Since you write that you are committed to the Bible, I would like to bring to your attention here three (!) biblical passages which make these promises quite clear and unambiguous ‒ namely Rev 1,4-6, Rev 2,26-28 and Rev 5,9-10. I would ask you to study these passages and would be happy to receive your response.


Heinz Menschik




The statements in Scripture

Thank you for your interest in the articles at Immanuel.at and for your comments. I did indeed leave these scriptural passages untouched in my interpretation of the First Resurrection, because in my opinion they have to be seen in a different context. But more of this later. ‒ So we are concerned here with the risen congregation, which will be raptured on the Second Coming of the Lord, and with the First Resurrection of which John speaks in Revelation. And your understanding here is completely correct: as I see it, we do not have to do with one and the same happening, but rather with two quite different events between which, as I see it, there is not the slightest connection.

But the two events are not just of a completely contrary nature in terms of time, they are also, and most importantly, contrary in terms of content. Whereas in the Rapture the faithful are taken up into heaven, in the First Resurrection they descend from heaven and come to life again on earth. But since the prophecy of the First Resurrection in Rev 20,4 (see below) has always been interpreted as the Rapture of the congregation, at any rate in the last hundred years, it is hardly surprising that this point of view is exceedingly difficult to dislodge. I have already made the attempt in some discourses on this website, but evidently my arguments were not sufficiently convincing.

At the same time I must acknowledge that you are absolutely right, in that the three scriptural passages you refer to do confirm ‒ to all appearances ‒ the point of view that the congregation will reign with Christ in the millennium. And if they are to reign, then clearly the congregation must also, at some point before these thousand years, rise from the dead ‒ in fact, “come to life” as we are told in Rev 20,4. And of course the First Resurrection in Rev 20,4 appears to fit in perfectly with this. “lebendig werden”, wie es in Rev 20,4 heißt. Und da bietet sich natürlich die Erste Auferstehung in Rev 20,4 ganz ausgezeichnet an.

So as it is evidently a very difficult matter to deal with this theme in isolation, I would like here to give a short account of the thematic complex of raising, Rapture and resurrection as they relate to one another, and draw the appropriate conclusions from this. To begin with, here are the biblical passages word for word that Mr. Menschik refers to:

And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.

Rev 1,4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 1,5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood‒ 1,6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father‒to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Rev 1, 4- 6;

He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.

Rev 2,26 ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 2,27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; 2,28 and I will give him the morning star. Rev 2,26-28;

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

Rev 5,9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 5,10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." Rev 5, 9-10;


All three texts evidently support a pretty clear conclusion ‒ that it will be believers in Christ of all peoples and tongues who will reign over the nations of the earth as priests and kings in the Millennium. ‒ And here now is what Rev 20,4 has to say about the First Resurrection:

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4- 6;


When we look at this closely, we can see that this passage in Rev 20,4 does not refer to the Christian congregation of all time, but only to those among them who have been “beheaded” (Greek pepelekismenon = killed with the axe) because of their steadfastness and constancy. And as we are then told in the verse Rev 20,6, it is these ‒ and only these ‒ who will take part in the First Resurrection and who will rule as priests with Christ in the thousand years. ‒ So much, then, for the apparently contrasting statements to be found in Scripture. But now to proceed to the promised account of the connections between raising/Rapture and resurrection.


The raising

The different points of view on the theme of death, raising/Rapture and resurrection could be clarified quickly if people would only stick to the example which has been left to us in this connection by Scripture and by our Lord Jesus Christ. In contradiction of the standard excuse of the worldly, that “No one has ever yet come back from the dead”, we do find all these processes ‒ raising from the dead, Rapture and resurrection ‒ featuring in the biblical accounts in their entirety. It is our Lord, the “first fruits” in this order ‒ as Paul puts it in 1Cor 15,23 ‒ who has already trodden this path before us.

But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.

1Cor 15,20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 15,21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 15,22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 15,23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 15,24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 1Cor 15,20-24;


In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes that the resurrection of human beings follows a definite order. Christ has been raised, as the first to be so; then, when Christ returns, all those will be raised who belong to Christ. And then at the end of the world ‒ as we also know from what the Lord himself tells us ‒ the General Resurrection of all human beings who have died will take place at the Last Judgment.

But it is interesting to observe that Paul does not say in the above passage (1Cor 15,20) that Christ has risen, but writes: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead”. And although  in the original Greek text this are two different words, in some translations this has been translated as “risen”  as a result of the translator’s ignorance of the background to this passage. Paul uses the term repeatedly in almost all his letters (Elberfeld Bible translation: 1Cor 6:14; 15:4, 12-17, 20, 29, 32, 35, 42-44, 52; 2Cor 1:9; 4:14; 5:15; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; 2:1, 6; Col 2:12; 3:1; 1Thess 1:10; 2Tim 2:8); and we find the same thing in the gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles and in the first letter of Peter. Here are the relevant passages from the Letter to the Romans:

As those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Rom 4,23 ¶ Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him,
4,24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 4,25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Rom 4,23-25;

As Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Rom 6,4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Rom 6, 4;

Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again.

Rom 6,8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 6,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. Rom 6, 8- 9;

You also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead.

Rom 7,4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Rom 7, 4;

He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies.

Rom 8,11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Rom 8,11;

Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God.

Rom 8,34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Rom 8,34;

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Rom 10,8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"‒that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 10,9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; Rom 10, 8- 9;


In the gospels too, and in the Lord’s own statements, we repeatedly find the term “raised” in connection with the Lord’s return from the realm of the dead. It is always stated that he was “raised from the dead”, and on this basis we can now recognize that the Lord’s coming up from the realm of the dead was not yet the resurrection itself, but just the raising from the dead.

The raising, then, is an independent event in connection with the return of the Lord from the dead. Since Paul tells us in the above passage (1Cor 15,23) that the Lord is the first to have gone through all these phases and that after this, when he comes, those who believe in Christ will have the same experience, we would like just to take a look here at a few details which have been reported to us in Scripture about the Lord’s raising from the dead.

As John writes in his gospel, Mary Magdalen saw the Lord at the tomb immediately after his raising from the dead and wanted to embrace him. But he said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” .

Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.

Jn 20,11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 20,12 and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 20,13 And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." 20,14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 20,15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." 20,16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher). 20,17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’" 20,18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her. Jn 20,11-18;


When she recognized the Lord, Mary of Magdala was clearly overwhelmed with joy, and so wanted to embrace or at least touch him. But the Lord said to her, “Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father”. This was directly after his raising from the dead. Whatever the reason for this reaction of the Lord’s may have been, one thing is clear: when he then, some time later, returned to earth again from the Father in heaven and came among his disciples, he was no longer concerned in the same way. For he now says to Thomas, “Reach here your hand and put it into My side”.

Reach here your hand and put it into My side.

Jn 20,26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
20,27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Jn 20,26-27;


Later too, when he appeared to the disciples once more and they failed to recognize him at once, being afraid they were seeing a spirit, he expressly invited them “Touch Me and see”, and even ate and drank with them

Touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones.

Lk 24,36 ¶ While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be to you." 24,37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 24,38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 24,39 "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 24,40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 24,41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 24,42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 24,43 and He took it and ate it before them. Lk 24,36-43;


This now allows us to draw the justifiable conclusion that the first meeting of the Lord with Mary of Magdala, at the tomb and directly after his return from the dead, was a different situation and with different conditions from his meeting with the disciples some time thereafter. Without wanting to read too much into it, it is still quite clear that on the first encounter with Mary the Lord’s body could not be exposed to physical contact. But this means that the Lord’s body on this occasion was at all events different from that which he later had, after his return to earth from the Father when he appeared among the disciples. So it is plain that this resurrection of the Lord has run its course in two distinct phases:

-  The raising from the dead, with the body that cannot be touched, followed by the immediate ascension to the Father.

-  And the return from the Father in heaven to earth in the resurrection, with a body which not only could be touched, but which also had flesh and bones and with which the Lord was actually able to eat.

(See also Excursus 07: “The resurrection body.”.)


The Resurrection

When the Lord appeared to the disciples after his resurrection ‒ that is, after his return to earth from the Father in heaven ‒ one reason why they were so frightened and thought he was a spirit was because he came in through the closed doors (Jn 20:19, 26). In fact the Lord speaks of an ability like this ‒ the ability to appear suddenly without warning and to vanish again ‒ in Jn 3,8, saying that every human being will be capable of this who has been born again of the Spirit:

The wind blows where it wishes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Jn 3,3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above (born a new) he cannot see the kingdom of God." 3,4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?" 3,5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 3,6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3,7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born a new.’ 3,8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit" Jn 3, 3- 8;


As the Lord explains to Nicodemus in the above passage (Jn 3,5), human beings must be born of water and the Spirit. The birth of water refers to the biological birth of every individual from the amniotic fluid of the womb, while the birth of the Spirit is rebirth. And finally in Mt 19,28 the Lord confirms that this rebirth of the human being from the Spirit will take place in the resurrection, when the Lord will sit on His glorious throne and judge the nations at the Last Judgment.

(See also Discourse 85: “True and false rebirth.”)


In the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne

Mt 19,28 And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Mt 19,28;

He will sit on His glorious throne and judge the gathered nations.

Mt 25,31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Mt 25,31-33;


In the above passage the Lord is speaking of the Last Judgment at the end of the world. Immediately before this, all human beings from the realm of the dead will be reborn of the Spirit in the General Resurrection and will come to life again. These people of all nations, then, will stand before the Lord’s glorious throne in the Judgment, and every one of them will be judged by him. Then the righteous will go into eternal life with God, but the unrighteous will have to live out their eternal existence in the lake of fire.

This phase of the resurrection is an essential component of human existence. Not only must all human beings go through it ‒ the Lord himself, who after all took on a real human form here on earth, also underwent this path of birth from water, death, raising from the dead and resurrection together with rebirth from the Spirit. He was the firstborn of the dead.

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead.

Rev 1,4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 1,5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood. Rev 1, 4- 5;

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Col 1,15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 1,16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities‒all things have been created through Him and for Him. 1,17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Col 1,15-17;

That he might be the first-born among many brethren.

Rom 8,29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Rom 8,29;


The two scriptural passages above (Rev 1,5 and Col 1,15) mentioning the “firstborn” are often interpreted and proclaimed in all possible and impossible variants, without the speaker having any idea what they really mean ‒ namely, the rebirth of the Lord (and in an analogous manner, following him, the rebirth of all human beings) ‒ of the Spirit (by contrast with the birth of water, Jn 3:3-6) ‒ in the resurrection.

So the Lord was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father in heaven, so as to be reborn then from the Spirit in the resurrection, as the firstborn of the dead and of the whole of creation, and to reappear on earth. These implications are likewise confirmed by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, when he testifies to Cornelius of the raising and the resurrection of the Lord:

God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visiblemit to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from the dead

Acts 10,38 "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 10,39 "We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 10,40 "God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 10,41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. Acts 10,38-41;


In this passage Peter proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Roman centurion Cornelius. And he reports that God raised Jesus (Greek: egeiren) on the third day and that after that the disciples ate and drank with him after he had risen (Greek: anastenai).

All these detailed indications in connection with the events of the raising and the resurrection, as we have shown in the above analysis, now demonstrate that this is not just a matter of any old “myths and fairy tales”, as some people would like to think. Rather we are dealing with facts, the reality of which, admittedly, only comes to be recognized when we know and cast light on the background circumstances, and when we realize too that these things happen in a different dimension from our own.

Nowadays, though, it shouldn’t be too difficult even for worldly people to understand such matters. In the natural sciences people were convinced, right up to the end of the nineteenth century, that something could only be judged to be “true” when it was confirmed in accordance with the laws of classical physics. But when the two physicists Nils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg then discovered and formulated quantum mechanics, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the laws of classical physics ‒ which had held good in principle for millennia ‒ were no longer in a position to explain the resulting phenomena.

Whereas up to then physicists had ascribed three dimensions to our world, with time just achieving recognition as a fourth dimension, physics in more recent times has thought in terms of ten or eleven dimensions. And even altogether respectable scientists ‒ including the greatest genius in physics of our time, Stephen Hawking ‒ are willing to accept that there is more than just one universe ‒ in fact that our reality could involve multiple universes, or “multiverses”. If in the time of classical physics the idea of heaven as another dimension was rejected as “completely unscientific”, now that physics itself postulates multiverses and ten or more dimensions, such arguments can no longer hold water.

(See also Discourse 25: “Quantum mechanics and the proximity of the kingdom of heaven.


And so we can see that the Bible is millennia ahead of the findings of the natural sciences. In the Bible the term heaven is always used in the plural, thus confirming the idea of multiple spheres of existence outside our three-dimensional world. So it would be completely unscientific ‒ at the present time above all ‒ to dismiss the biblical reports of heaven, resurrection and eternal life as myths and fairy tales.

Now the view may be advanced here, that this kind of presentation of what it says in the Bible is just of a theoretical nature and is not of great practical value for brothers and sisters in the congregations. This may well be true, provided that these brothers and sisters are able to live with their faith in a well-founded community of belief that is based on Scripture. In the life of every Christian, however, there are times of trial, and doubts can easily occur in connection with these. And in evangelization and mission situations, too, better informed non-believers are liable to come up with quite tricky questions in their attempt to present the Bible as incompetent.

In such situations, a person who only has scriptural passages at his disposal which he has learned by heart, while not really understanding their actual significance (as may be observed with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance), will not be able to hold his own for long against such attacks. But one who has understood the text and has the necessary background knowledge will be able to refute both doubts and any false assertions with logically impeccable arguments based on Scripture, and so is able to wield “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph 6,17).


Tabular Overview of the Week of Jesus’ Crucifixion

Please note: In Jewish division of the day, the day begins with 6:00 p.m. and ends on our today's next day at 6:00 p.m.

 Day   Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
 Time        6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm
13th Nisan 14th Nisan 15th Nisan 16th Nisan 17th Nisan 18th Nisan 19th Nisan         
        Day NighDay    NightDay   NightDay   NightDay   NightDay   NightDay           




















Preparation Day
for Passover


after 6:00 p.m.
the Lord's supper

Capture in
Gethsemane


Crucifixion

3:00 p.m.
Death on the
Cross


~6:00 p.m.
burial



Begin
Passover

Great Annual
Sabbath















Preparation Day
for Sabbath

Purchase of
Spices and Perfumes














Weekly Sabbath














~6:00 p.m.
Raising up



First Day of
the Week

Women arrive at
the empty tomb

































        
 

(Time: (With a screen resolution of about 1300xXXX the Jewish newday at 6 pm will be shown correctly.)


The Rapture

If we can now, following Paul’s statements quoted above in Rom 6,4, refer this order of events in connection with the resurrection of the Lord to the faithful as well, the raising of the Lord then corresponds to the raising of the dead faithful and their Rapture together with those living who believe in Christ on the occasion of the Second Coming, of which Paul speaks in 1Cor 15,50-55:

The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

1Cor 15,50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 15,51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 15,52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15,53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 15,54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "death is swallowed up in victory. 15,55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 1Cor 15,50-55;


As Paul says here, the dead faithful will be raised and will be imperishable, that is to say, they will be given an imperishable body. And the living faithful will be transformed and will likewise acquire an imperishable body. They will be “clothed”, as Paul puts it in 2Cor 5,4, with reference to his own hope of being raptured while he is still alive:

Because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

2Cor 5,4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 2Cor 5, 4;


And Paul does not leave us in any doubt when this is going to happen. As he writes in 1The 4,16-17, on the Second Coming of the Lord those who are dead in Christ will be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord, along with the living Christian faithful.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven and the dead in Christ will be caught up together with us who are alive.

1The 4,13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 4,14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 4,15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 4,16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4,17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1The 4,13-17;

Behold, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.

Rev 1,7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. Rev 1, 7;

Sun and moon will be darkened when the Son of man will come on the clouds of the sky.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not gibe its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,29-31;

The sun became black, and the whole moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth.

Rev 6,12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 6,13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 6,14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Rev 6,12-14;

When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Lk 21,25 "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 21,26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 21,27 "Then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 21,28 "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Lk 21,25-28;


Whereas in the gospel of Matthew (Mt 24,31, quoted earlier) the Lord includes all believers in Christ without exception among the “elect” who will be gathered by his angels ‒ both the dead, that is, and those who are still alive at the time ‒ in the above passage (Lk 21,28) he speaks with special meaning for those Christians still alive, as Paul too does in the passages quoted above (1The 4,15 and 17) ‒ encouraging them not to lose heart when they observe all these events of the Great Tribulation, but rather to lift up their heads because their redemption is drawing near.

And if we can now draw another parallel with the raising of the Lord, we can recognize that the Rapture is not a resurrection. It is the phase in which the Lord said to Mary of Magdala, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father”. So the dead in Christ have been first of all raised, have received an imperishable body together with the living believers in Christ and with them have been raptured to the Father in heaven. At this point in time they are neither “living” ‒ not having been given a resurrection body ‒ nor are they on earth, as we are told in Rev 20,4 is the case with the risen Christians in the First Resurrection.


The First Resurrection

The second phase of this resurrection process, which in the case of the Lord followed directly on his ascent to the Father and in his subsequent descent to the earth, will only take place for human beings in the General Resurrection at the end of the world. As we already mentioned earlier, all human beings ‒ the good and the bad ‒ who are still in the realm of the dead will then be called forth (Jn 5:28), to be reborn of the Spirit in the Resurrection.

At the same time it must be said that evidently there is an exception to this. In Rev 20,4 John speaks of the First Resurrection, and confirms that those who take part in it will become living ‒ in other words, will be reborn of the Spirit and will rise again ‒ and will reign with Christ for a thousand years on earth.

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4- 6;


And of the people who here come to life we are then further told that they

“had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God” and

“had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand”.


The first group then are those who have been beheaded (slain with the axe) because of the word of God and their testimony of Jesus, and so are martyrs by definition. But the second group too, in view of what we are told in Rev 13,15, consists of people who have all been killed because they refused to worship the image of the beast ‒ so they are martyrs likewise.

The image of the beast would cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Rev 13,15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. Rev 13,15;


And it is just these two groups whom we now find in heaven already, before the First Resurrection, beneath the altar or on the sea of glass before the throne of God:

The souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.

Rev 6,9 ¶ When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 6,10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 6,11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Rev 6, 9-11;

Those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing before the throne of God.

Rev 15,2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. 15,3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! 15,4 "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before you, for you righteous acts have been reveaked." Rev 15, 2- 4;


So those taking part in the First Resurrection in Rev 20,4 are the souls of the martyrs, who were already in heaven and now, in this first Resurrection, are reborn of the Spirit and come back to life on earth. And to exclude all possibility of error, we are then immediately told in Rev 20,5: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed”. So there is just this unique exception to the general rule. And “the rest of the dead” comprises all those people who have died up till the Second Coming of the Lord and have not taken part in the Rapture. But of course it also includes all those who will die subsequently, during the kingdom of a thousand years (see Isaiah 65:20!). They will all be raised only after the Millennium, at the end of the world, when they will be reborn of the Spirit in the General Resurrection and come back to life on earth to be judged in the Last Judgment.

So to keep things straight, let us just set down in order the accompanying circumstances of this event:

o  By contrast with the Rapture, at the First Resurrection the Lord will not personally appear

o  No dead will be raised from the realm of the dead ‒ instead, souls who are already in heaven will come to life on earth

o  No living human beings will be “clothed”, but heavenly souls will be brought to life

o  No Rapture into heaven will take place ‒ instead, this is a descent from heaven to the earth.


So this seems to demonstrate, in the light of Scripture, first of all that the raising/Rapture and the First Resurrection are two completely separate events, of a contrary nature in some respects. And on the other hand we have established that only those persons take part in the First Resurrection who have been killed on account of their faith ‒ martyrs, in other words ‒ and not “the entire congregation of all time” as Mr. Menschik supposes in his comments given at the beginning of this Discourse.

Alongside these martyrs whom John sees in heaven in Rev 6,9-11 and 15,2-4 and who are exclusively mentioned in connection with the First Resurrection, he also shows us in Rev 7,9-17 that uncountable multitude who come out of the Great Tribulation. According to Rev 7,16 these people have evidently died as a result of the catastrophes of the Great Tribulation, such as famine, drought, war and pestilence (Rev 6,8) ‒ but they have not been killed on account of their faith! ‒ and so have come into heaven through the raising and the Rapture (Rev 6,12-17). They stand here before the throne of God, and serve him day and night. So neither do these many human beings who are already in heaven take part in the First Resurrection ‒ instead, they remain in heaven and serve God until the General Resurrection.

(See also Table 14: “The Revelation - classified by events”)


For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple.

Rev 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 7,16 "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Rev 7,13-17


As for the three scriptural passages cited by Mr. Menschik in his comments at the beginning of this Discourse, we must first of all bear in mind who their author is ‒ it is the apostle John, to whom the Apocalypse was revealed on Patmos. And the tradition tells us that he was also killed by the Romans in that very place, around the year 100 AD. He was offered the choice of either making a heathen sacrifice or drinking poison. He chose death. So this makes John one of those martyrs who will be reborn in the First Resurrection and will reign with Christ on earth in the kingdom of a thousand years.

So when John writes, in Rev 1,6, “And has made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father”, he is referring to himself and to his companions in suffering, the martyrs of all time. Likewise the description further on in Rev 5,9, “and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation”, applies to these holy martyrs of God, who do indeed come from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And this makes it clear that these three statements do not refer to the “the entire congregation of all time” but only to the martyrs who will take part in the First Resurrection and reign with Christ in the Millennium:

And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.

Rev 1,4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 1,5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood‒ 1,6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father‒to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Rev 1, 4- 6;

He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.

Rev 2,26 ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 2,27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; 2,28 and I will give him the morning star. Rev 2,26-28;

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

Rev 5,9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 5,10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." Rev 5, 9-10;

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4- 6;


But in addition to these, there is yet another scriptural passage which speaks of these priests of God. In Rev 22,1-5, quoted below, John sees the holy city of Jerusalem in the New Creation. And in this vision he sees the bond-servants of God who will serve God and reign from eternity to eternity. Now as we can infer from several other passages in Scripture, the millennial kingdom of peace of the Son of God on earth is a preview of the Kingdom of God, the New Creation in eternity. So, for example, the heavenly Jerusalem is exactly a thousand times bigger than the city of Jerusalem in the Millennium.

(See also Discourse 02: “The earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem”)


And this is the basis on which we can also explain the fact that those who have reigned with Christ in the Millennium will then also reign in the heavenly Jerusalem, in the New Creation, from eternity to eternity. So if in the Millennium the entire congregation ‒ the Christian faithful of all time ‒ were to reign, then they would also have to reign in the heavenly Jerusalem in eternity. But as in eternity there are none but Christian believers (Rev 22:14-15), this would result in a situation where we only have rulers and no subjects.

Because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

Rev 22,1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 22,2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 22,3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 22,4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 22,5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. Rev 22, 1- 5;


So it is the martyrs of the First Resurrection who will not just reign in the Millennium, but then in eternity as well. They have not loved their lives and have been willing to suffer death, they have withstood the trial. These are the ones who have overcome, and who have the character that makes them suited to receive this responsible office from God as priests and judges.

And so it really looks as if some people have rejoiced too soon when they proclaim to the brethren who have never been persecuted, let alone killed because of their faith that they will reign with Christ as kings in the kingdom of a thousand years:

“The time of the congregation will be completed with the Rapture. On earth the Great Tribulation takes place, and the Lord is with his faithful for the Judgment of Reward and the Marriage of the Lamb in heaven, to return with them for the kingdom of a thousand years, as we will then reign on earth as his congregation ‒ as co-rulers, reigning with him for a thousand years.

(Heinz Weber, Professor of Systematic Theology at Bibelschule Brake [Brake Bible College], in his lecture “Die Wiederkunft des Herrn” [“The Second Coming of the Lord”] given to the St. Matthäusgemeinde in Bremen / My emphasis in the above ‒ FH).

(See also Discourse 71: “Is the next major event of world history for the faithful the Rapture?”)


“Those who have in former times ‘endured’ for him (sc. Christ) will now rule together with him. (...) God’s people, who have been oppressed for so long by the governments of the world, will then themselves constitute the world government! (...) Those who are so ‘blessed’ will be both priests and kings. Mediators as well as monarchs on earth.”

(David Pawson, Bible college lecturer, evangelist and pastor of the Millmead Center, the biggest Baptist church in Britain, in his book “The Road to Hell”, pp. 207 ff / My emphasis in the above ‒ FH).

(See also Discourse 88: “David Pawson and the Interpretation of the End-Time Events.”)


“The implications of this passage (Rev 20,4-6, FH) are unmistakable. The ‘rest of the dead’ can only be those who have died without having faith, as in verse 4 finally all the faithful starting from Abel are raised from the dead. These dead from out of the midst of whom they are raised, then, must necessarily be the unbelievers. (…) Of the faithful we are told: ‘They will be priests of God and Christ, and will reign with him for a thousand years'.”

(W. J. Ouweneel, in his book “Das Buch der Offenbarung” [“The Book of Revelation”], pp 477 ff / My emphasis in the above ‒ FH).

(See also Discourse 10: “The General Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly?”)



Let us reflect on the fact that world history offers enough examples of power-crazed tyrants. Starting from Pharaoh in the story of Moses and going on to Herod, King in Israel at the time of the birth of Jesus, the Roman emperor Nero and in our own day a Hitler, a Stalin or a Mao ‒ to mention just a few of the best known. So God preserve us from all people who want to rule. They and their kind have already done enough damage in this world. And let us also reflect that according to the self-understanding of many congregations today, practicing lesbians and gays will officially be counted as members of the congregation which is to rule in the Millennium as priests and kings.

Quite apart from the on the face of it doubtful view that reigning on earth ‒ whether in one’s lifetime or in the Millennium ‒ should be a goal worth aspiring to for the correctly believing Christian, we must here ask the serious question whether all those faithful of the congregation of all time ‒ that is to say, including us Christians living today ‒ can honestly claim a place among the slain martyrs of the First Resurrection, or as kings and priests in the kingdom of a thousand years. And whether we should not rather, in both cases, see ourselves as the bond-servants of God, and not as “monarchs”.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled.

Lk 14,11 "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Lk 14,11;




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Will lesbians and gays also reign in the kingdom of a thousand years? / Reply, HM 01, 2009-02-25)

You write: “And let us also reflect that according to the self-understanding of many congregations today, practicing lesbians and gays will officially be counted as members of the congregation which is to rule in the Millennium as priests and kings.”

What kind of a problem do you have with homosexuals? Are they not also God’s creation? Isn’t he their God as well, and do they not have a right to be saved? But you would probably also deny the Jews and the gypsies any hope of salvation, even if they have been born again.


Heinz Menschik



All human beings, irrespective of sex, race and social origin, have hope of salvation provided that and to the extent that they are willing to convert, to accept faith in God and to base their actions on God’s commandments. And you are completely right in saying that homosexuals too have a right to be saved. God wishes all human beings to be saved (1Tim 2,4). And if tyrants, mass murderers and blasphemers have a right to be saved, the same is of course true of homosexuals.

The crucial point here is that while God accepts us as we are, he does not leave us in our unrighteousness, impurity, greed and wickedness ‒ does not leave us with envy, murder, conflict, cunning and deceit. If we come to the true faith, God changes us so that we recognize in what a quagmire we were sunk, from which he has rescued us. But as for those who are unwilling to recognize this and who continue to live in disobedience, unrighteousness and impurity, God has given them over to the desires of their own hearts, to the impurity of shaming their bodies in indecent acts mutually committed.

The men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts.

Rom 1,26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
1,27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Rom 1,26-27;

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act.

Lev 20,13 ‘If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

These are then the people who just refuse to convert and repent, and who even try to call many people’s healthy moral sensibilities in question. Rather like today’s Jews to whom you refer above, who on being called to account for their war crimes against the Palestinians (Prosecutor in Chief of the International Criminal Court 2/2009) pull the “holocaust joker” out of their sleeve and so cause the whole world hastily to change the subject ‒ so too the homosexual community has now adopted the Antidiscrimination Act for its own political purposes.

Seeing that these antidiscrimination laws also and above all provide criminal penalties for the “criticism of sexual orientation”, it will no longer be possible in future ‒ and this has vehement support in the highest political spheres ‒ to bring criminal prosecution for “sexual orientations” such as the sexual practice of sadism, masochism, sodomy and above all pedophilia and child pornography or to bring the offenders to book for such offenses. The Vatican should be especially delighted about this, having  been ordered in the USA to pay out indemnification sums amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars to the victims of such crimes as a result of the actions of its priests of a pedophile and homosexual persuasion.

(See also Discourse 29: “Are we living in the Last Days? - Anti-Discrimination Acts: The beginning of birth pangs?”)


And just in the same way as the vast majority of today’s Jews have never set eyes on the gas chambers, let alone had any direct experience of them, and so have absolutely no right to set off these crimes against their ancestors against their own war crimes against the Palestinians, neither do the homosexuals have any right to abuse the altogether justified ban on discrimination against persons with special needs and other sociopolitical or ethnic minorities for their own perverse purposes.

In this connection it is actually most astonishing that more and more people are now saying that this antidiscrimination act should prevent discrimination against “Jews and homosexuals”. Quite apart from the fact that it is hardly possible to draw a comparison between the persecution and murder of Jews under the Nazis and the criticism of homosexuals in our day, which any healthy moral sensibility will see as justified, any Jew would surely object to being mentioned in one breath along with such people.


 


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is baptism by water a condition of being able to enter the kingdom of God? / Commentary, Anonymous 00, 2016-03-11)

(…) I have read your essays and discourses with interest.
On the page https://www.immanuel.at/Diskurs97.htm the following passage caught my eye:

"As the Lord explains to Nicodemus in the above passage (Jn 3,5), human beings must be born of water and the Spirit. The birth of water refers to the biological birth of every individual from the amniotic fluid of the womb, while the birth of the Spirit is rebirth. And finally in Mt 19,28 the Lord confirms that this rebirth of the human being from the Spirit will take place in the resurrection, when the Lord will sit on His glorious throne and judge the nations at the Last Judgment."

Are you certain that the amniotic fluid is what is meant here?

I think it more likely refers to purification (perhaps the water bath of baptism):

Heb 10,22: Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Tit 3,5: He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit...

I look forward to your answer.

Anonymous / Switzerland



Thank you for your visit to Immanuel.at and for your comments.

In order for us both to have the essential basis for a well grounded discussion, I would request you first of all to read my Discourse 85 “True and false rebirth” where you will find a treatment of the biblical passages you refer to. If you then still have questions that need answering, please write to me again. 


 

(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is baptism by water a condition of being able to enter the kingdom of God? / Commentary, Anonymous 01, 2016-03-11)

(…) I have made a close study of your Discourse 85.

In what concerns predestination and rebirth I can agree with you.

Where your interpretation with regard to water is concerned, I am of a different opinion. In my view, water must be understood either as purification or as the Word of God. I think that in Jn 3,5 or 1Jn 5,8 water cannot stand for a human bodily fluid; in both quotations it would have to be something that comes from God and not from a sinful human being.

I could well imagine that amniotic fluid was seen as impure in the Old Testament; but this is only an assumption.

Anonymous / Switzerland



I am pleased to hear that you are able to agree with me with reference to rebirth.

As for the "water" in Jn 3,5, I agree with you entirely that everything coming from God must be without sin. But let us not forget – human beings too were created by God. Only what human beings read into birth and round about it is in some cases sinful, just as eating and drinking only become sinful when they no longer fulfill the meaning given to them by God but are perverted by human beings.

The "amniotic fluid", of course, is just my interpretation of our Lord’s statement: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” If I can assume that you agree with me in seeing rebirth from the spirit as the resurrection to the Last Judgment, then it seems to me that here the Lord is indeed comparing bodily and earthly birth with this spiritual and heavenly rebirth, in order to make these matters more accessible to Nicodemus. But of course you have every right to a differing opinion on this.

But since I am open to criticism and corrections – and if it is not going to be too much trouble for you – I would request you to explain to me your interpretation of Jn 3,5 and 1Jn 5,8 in somewhat greater detail, and if possible in the light of further biblical passages.


 

(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is baptism by water a condition of being able to enter the kingdom of God? / Commentary, Anonymous 02, 2016-03-11)

(…) I would be happy to let you have my views on this – here first of all in relation to Jn 3,3 and the following verses.

Already in verse 3,3 Jesus testifies that we must be begotten from above. In response to Nicodemus’ question (verse 3,4), he then repeats his statement in verse 3,5. Jn 3,5: “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is begotten of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’” Jesus is referring here to a kind of water with which the Pharisee Nicodemus must be familiar – the water of purification, which of course occurs in all the requirements of ritual cleansing in the Old Testament. What is “begotten of the flesh” (verse 3,6) cannot enter the kingdom of God. It needs a thorough cleansing through baptism and the Holy Spirit in order to be begotten again. The principle of “water and spirit” is also to be found in Ezk 36,25-27 and Isa 44,3.

This is why I think the water stands for baptism, purification and conversion.

I don’t know the extent of medical knowledge in the time of Jesus – but would Nicodemus have known that the human fetus grows in amniotic fluid?

Anonymous / Switzerland



In the interest of a better overview, I reproduce below this biblical passage in its context:

Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Jn 3,1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 3,2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3,3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 3,4 Nicodemus *said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?" 3,5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 3,6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3,7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 3,8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Jn 3, 1- 8;


Now I think that here – by contrast with other passages in scripture – we have to speak of being “born” rather than “begotten” (Nestle-Aland and all translations!). And this is not just an arbitrary attribution, but actually follows on from these considerations on the basis of which I would like to understand this water as referring to amniotic fluid in the biological birth of a child. 

Nicodemus asks in 3,4: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”

So Nicodemus himself brings physical birth into the discussion, because he relates the Lord’s statement in 3,3 (“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”) to birth in the physical sense.

And according to my understanding of the passage, the Lord indeed wishes to clear up this misunderstanding and explain to Nicodemus the difference between earthly birth and the birth from the Spirit – or in other words, between being “born” and “born again (from above)”. And for that very reason, of course, the Lord then underlines the difference in 3,6 immediately following: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Here the Lord himself quite clearly contrasts fleshly birth (of water / the amniotic fluid) with the spiritual birth (from the Spirit), in order to make it easier for Nicodemus to grasp.

You then write:

In response to Nicodemus’ question (verse 3,4), he then repeats his statement in verse 3,5. Jn3,5: “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is begotten (??) of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’”


That is it exactly: if a person has not been born by the physical process of birth from the amniotic fluid, then he does not exist as a human being at all – so neither is he able after death, in the Resurrection, to be born “again” by rebirth from the Spirit, or born “from above” (the original Greek word can have either meaning).

You continue:

Jesus is referring here to a kind of water with which the Pharisee Nicodemus must be familiar – the water of purification, which of course occurs in all the requirements of ritual cleansing in the Old Testament. What is “begotten (??) of the flesh” (verse 3,6) cannot enter the kingdom of God.


(see above)

It needs a thorough cleansing through baptism and the Holy Spirit in order to be begotten (??) again.


Here I do not actually see any mention of a “purification through baptism”. Nor indeed would it be logical. It may indeed be the case that the Catholic church connects this with fleshly birth, in its practice of infant baptism, but in my view it is unbiblical and completely senseless to “baptize” a child just a few days old.

And in birth from the Spirit - in the Resurrection, that is to say - there is even less need of “purification”, since here all human beings (apart from the resurrected brethren in the Rapture, and the martyrs of the First Resurrection) are reborn to be judged at the Last Judgment by the Son of God on his throne of glory. And along with the faithful from the Millennium this includes robbers and murderers as well, and all the rest of the ungodly rabble of this world – who will likewise be resurrected in order to be judged. For these people there will be no “purification”.

You then say:

The principle of “water and spirit” is also to be found in Ezk 36,25-27 and Isa 44,3.


Yes, I have looked at these biblical passages. Ezekiel is speaking here of the Millennium, where Israel has its sins forgiven by God on a single day, the Israelites are purified and the Spirit of God is poured out on them (see also Ezk 11,19-20, 37,23).

Isaiah also speaks in this text of the Millennium, where the Spirit of God will be poured out on Israel and God will pour water on the thirsty land and fill the streams so that the entire land becomes fertile again.

(See also Chapter 10: “The Millennium.”)


In neither of these texts is there any reference to rebirth or resurrection.

Your further argument:

This is why I think the water stands for baptism, purification and conversion.

I don’t know the extent of medical knowledge in the time of Jesus – but would Nicodemus have known
that the human fetus grows in amniotic fluid?

Probably not, but surely everyone must have known that every child was born out of amniotic fluid. Births took place at home after all, and of course you would have had to mop up the water that flows out when the waters break. 




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is baptism by water a condition of being able to enter the kingdom of God? / Commentary, Anonymous 03, 2016-03-11)

(…) Here are a few more of my thoughts on 1Jn 5.8.

The First Letter of John is concerned with false teachings which threaten the congregation and distort the gospel.

'1Jn 2,26: These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.'

The false doctrine of the Gnostics was that the divine Christ came down on the man Jesus in the form of a dove, but left him again before his death, in such a way that only Jesus the human being died.
John now demonstrates to the congregation that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God.
In 1Jn 5,7-8 he calls on three witnesses, as was standard practice in the Old Testament.

- the Spirit of God
- the water: the baptism of Jesus, with the testimony of the Father (Mt 3,17, Lk 3,22, Mk 3,11)
- the blood which flowed on the cross.

It is the baptism of Jesus, and it is his blood that was poured out on the cross, which for us who are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit testify to the true Jesus Christ.

This is the reason why I think that here the water of baptism is intended. 

Anonymous / Switzerland



You write above:

(…) Here are a few more of my thoughts on 1Jn 5.8.

The First Letter of John is concerned with false teachings which threaten the congregation and distort the gospel.

‘1Jn 2,26: These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. ’

The false doctrine of the Gnostics was that the divine Christ came down on the man Jesus in the form of a dove, but left him again before his death, in such a way that only Jesus the human being died.
John now demonstrates to the congregation that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God.
In 1Jn 5,7-8 he calls on three witnesses, as was standard practice in the Old Testament.


Yes, two or three witnesses (Deut 17,6; 19,15; Mt 18,16; 1Tim 5,19; 2Cor 13,1; Heb 10,28).

- the Spirit of God
- the water: the baptism of Jesus, with the testimony of the Father (Mt 3,17, Lk 3,22, Mk 3,11)
- the blood which flowed on the cross.

It is the baptism of Jesus, and it is his blood that was poured out on the cross,...


This is certainly an excellent explanation! At the same time, what we actually find written here is: “This is the One who

by water and blood” (1Jn 5,6) – and the Lord, now, did not “come” to us either in baptism or on the cross, in fact it would be truer to say that on the cross he “went away from us”.

Also the Greek word used here for “by” or “through” (dia) does not mean the originating process (e.g. “through the legacy he became rich”), but rather the sense of “passage through” (as in “diameter” or “diapositiv” (the German word for slide, a picture that “shines through”).

And against this background the above statement, “This is the One who came by water and blood”, like the “water” in 3,5, appears to be understandable as a reference to birth – this time that of the Lord. What is meant is the amniotic fluid, and also the blood of the mother is poured out in every birth..

And as you quite rightly argue above, John certainly wishes here to adduce a proof that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah of the Jews, which at this time was disputed by the great majority of them – and of course it was actually the reason for his being condemned to death by the Jewish hierarchy of the Sanhedrin (Mt 26:66).

And now John brings up the birth “by water and blood” in order to prove that the Lord was indeed on this earth “in water and in blood” (in flesh and blood, that is to say, with body and soul).

And that is at the same time an argument against the other camp, against the Gnostic interpretation – that it was the divine Christ which indwelt in the human being Jesus, and left him at the latter’s death. John says here that Christ Jesus was God, but humbled himself and took the form of a servant and in this form was entirely human (Phil 2:6-7) in body (physis), soul (psyche) and spirit (pneuma).


… which for us who are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit testify to the true Jesus Christ.

That is completely correct! With his last statement – “For there are three that testify, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement” – John is pointing to the three witnesses of the earthly existence of the Son of God: the water, the blood and the Spirit. The water as the body, the blood as the soul and the Spirit, which is truth – in other words the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13) in whom Jesus Christ, although he was completely human, was also completely divine (Jn 1,1-2) and through whom he was connected with the Father.


This is the reason why I think that here the water of baptism is intended.

To my mind these statements of the Lord’s in Jn 3,6 (“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”), and immediately before that in Jn 3,5 (“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”) are so convincing, that I think only the water of birth can be meant.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

((Is baptism by water a condition of being able to enter the kingdom of God? / Commentary, Anonymous 04, 2016-03-11)

(…) It seems that we will not be able to come to agreement on this point.

Just two remarks in conclusion:
…f a person has not been born by the physical process of birth from the water (amniotic fluid)…
This of course has to do with the physical human being; that human beings grow in the amniotic fluid of the womb is something that is obvious, and in my view would not call for any special mention at this point.

… In neither of these texts is there any reference to rebirth or resurrection.…
Of course I am aware that Ezk 36,25-27 and Isa 44,3 are concerned with the Millennium.
But the important thing is the PRINCIPLE of water and spirit, which can be traced through the whole of scripture.

Anonymous / Switzerland



You write:

Just two remarks in conclusion:

… if a person has not been born by the physical process of birth from water (amniotic fluid)…

This of course has to do with the physical human being; that human beings grow in the amniotic fluid of the womb is something that is obvious, and in my view would not call for any special mention at this point.


I am of your opinion entirely. Of course I just mentioned it here because the Lord too stresses it in his discussion with Nicodemus in Jn 3,5: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” And seeing that it is God’s will that basically all human beings should come to knowledge of the truth and be saved (1Tim 2:4), not a single human being (even if he or she wanted to) can be excluded from it. It follows from this that someone who is not “born of water” can on purely semantic grounds not be a human being either, or (as applies here, in the case of a stillbirth for instance) practically cannot be existent as a human being.

You further write:

With reference to your statement:
… In neither of these texts is there any reference to rebirth or resurrection.…

I am aware that Ezk 36,25-27 and Isa 44,3 are concerned with the Millennium.
But the important thing is the PRINCIPLE of water and spirit, which can be traced through the whole of scripture.


Yes, I have understood what you are trying to say. But actually I do not find this principle. In the Old Testament certainly, as you correctly write, there is a lot said about purification with water, but this is not the case in the New Testament, where water is generally mentioned in connection with baptism.

I think our differences mainly relate to the Lord’s discussion with Nicodemus. In Jn 3,5 you interpret the “water” as baptism, whereas I understand this statement of the Lord’s as an explanatory answer to the question of Nicodemus in Jn 3,4, where Nicodemus relates the Lord’s statement in the previous verse (“unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”) to physical and bodily birth.

From this I derive the parallelism of physical begetting / birth with spiritual begetting / birth, which you again cannot go along with, in view of the fact that you interpret the “water” as baptism.


Conclusion

Finally allow me too one more remark: when it comes to this key statement of the Lord’s in Jn 3,5 (“unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot see the kingdom of God”), we are in agreement about the fact that “born of the Spirit” stands for rebirth in the Resurrection at the end of the world. If I now take the second part of this statement, the “water”, and interpret it from your point of view, it would have to read:
 
“Unless one is born of baptism and the Spirit he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Do you really think that baptism with water (not the baptism of the spirit! Jn 7:38-39) is a conditio sine qua non of being accepted into the kingdom of God? Even though the Lord let himself be baptized by John the Baptist, he did not ever baptize himself (Jn 4:1-2). And so we do not find it stated anywhere in scripture, either, that the apostles had been baptized with the baptism of water..

On the other hand, your interpretation of baptism with water as purification (“purification (perhaps the water bath of baptism)”) is plainly heavily influenced by the Old Testament, the Old Covenant. But of course we have a New Covenant, which our Lord Jesus Christ sealed with his blood on the cross (Lk 22:20). This vicarious sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross for our sins is the real, true purification which replaced all the purificatory requirements of the Old Testament.

Christ had made purification of sins.

Heb 1,1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 1,2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 1,3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 1,4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Heb, 1, 1- 4;


And from this we can also recognize that all the “requirements” of Judaism, Islam and Catholicism have nothing to do with the true faith, but are exclusively designed to serve the hypocrisy of the adherents of these religions, who under this covering garb commit the worst outrages. So for example celibacy, as practiced by Catholicism, has the result that for want of women the priests live out their instincts by raping children. In Islam we have “Islamic State”, where people pray to Allah five times a day, and in between take time out to behead a few more “infidels”.

And in Judaism, it was at the most important religious festival, of all days – the Passover – where the coming of the Messiah is also celebrated (the fifth cup of wine at Seder) that this promised Messiah was condemned to death and handed over to death on the cross. All this is hypocrisy, which is an abomination to God (Mt 6,1-2; Mt 6,16).

Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Mt 6,5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Mt 6, 5;

(See also Discourse 22: “Distinguishing between the true religion and false religions. ”)


Now as for the baptism with water of the New Covenant, it is good and important. It is a visible sign of a person’s conversion. But it is not a precondition for salvation through grace. That precondition is simply and solely the vicarious sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. That is the actual purification, that is salvation and eternal life. Faith in this, that is the conditio sine qua non for every individual human being in order to enter the kingdom of God.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life.

Jn 3,35 "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. 3,36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Jn 3,35-36;


Now I think that we both, as correctly believing Christians, can live with this difference of opinion, and would like to thank you for your contribution.