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Old 10-08-2008, 09:12 AM   #1
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Default Peter and James and John

I'd like to have a discussion on Peter and James and John. This is an offshoot of the discussion that Peter D. started on 'eldership'; I found my comments were more in a 'background' vein, not entirely unrelated but perhaps not in the central line of that topic. When you have to ignore someone else's comments to make your own, perhaps you are pushing at a different subject.

But I mention this to say that my subject of choice is definitely related, and flows out of that thread. I see Peter and James and John (& the other 9, as well, with a much larger retinue, obviously, crowded around 'the 12'), and the experiences they had with Jesus, changing into the post-resurrection experiences of the fellowship of the remaining disciples (from the 12, plus from the larger group) changing again in chapter 9 of Acts when Paul comes on the scene. From there Paul dominates a good chunk of the NT record, with epistles of Peter & James(the 'other' James) & John, etc, closing out the written record.

Much of the discussion of eldership is dominated by Paul's experiences in Acts, and his epistles (Titus, Timothy, etc). I have found the discussion to have unearthed some very interesting items (e.g. elderLY [i.e. more mature] saints versus appointed, official 'elders'). But I think it necessary to complement all this with a discussion of relations among the believers pre-Paul.

And I especially want to use Peter and James and John to home in on John, who remained post-Paul, and seemed to have a less than sanguine view (Rev. chaps. 2 & 3) of the various assemblies at the close of the apostolic age. As I said elsewhere, he writes "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things written in it, for the time is near" (Rev.1:3), so these letters to the seven Asian assemblies there were meant for all to read, to understand, and to keep.

In order to understand what he is saying, I think I need to understand more about John, where he is coming from. So I wanted to start at the beginning, with Peter and James and John. But I am doing this in the light of the 'eldership' thread; ultimately what I want to do is to hold up the record of these brothers in one hand, and hold up Paul in the other hand, and look back and forth, as it were.
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Old 10-08-2008, 10:56 AM   #2
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Default Peter and James and John: the calling in Luke 5

"And He came to the house and did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James and the father of the child and the mother" Luke 8:51.

Why were Peter and John and James singled out here? Why were they the only three who accompanied the Lord onto the mountain where He was glorified? What "leadership qualities" did they posess which caused them to be selected, versus anyone else?

I see the followers of Jesus in various 'waves'; which undulated and overlapped, often, at the edges. The first 3 were the aforementioned Peter, James, John; then the other 9; then the ministering women, with some like Nicodemus and Cleopas and others named occasionally. There are the 70 sent out in Luke chapter 10. There are 120 in the upper room in Acts chapter 2, praying for ten days in one accord. There are thousands being fed miraculously. Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once (1 Cor 15:6) in His resurrection.

Each group is a representative example of the outlying groups. Peter and James and John are not better than others; they merely 'represent' the larger group. Like a "representative sample" in statistical surveys. Peter and James and John were representative of the larger 12, who in turn represented the larger 70 who stood in for 500 and so forth. Eventually Jesus can minister to everyone (Daniel 2:35 says the "stone" became a great mountain and "filled the whole earth"; Isaiah 9:7 says that "of the increase of His kingdom there shall be no end"), but He seems to like to work successively through increasing waves of disciples.

But why Peter and James and John? Why not Nathaniel and James and Matthew? I think a big clue is found in Luke 5:10. Peter is with James and John, fishing in the sea of Galilee. They hear Jesus; they see a miracle at His hand. Peter falls down before the Lord. The others follow Peter. They were inseparable to the degree that when you got one, you got all three.

My point is that there is a relationship there already. They were connected, and they remained connected. They were the "unbreakable nut" at the middle of the twelve.

There is a word here that I would like to introduce; I have seen it surface sporadically in christian conversation. It is called "relationship". I would like to contrast that with the "office" interpretation of religion, as in "eldership", and "bishop" and so forth. At the core of these three there was a relationship. I always see them together. In Mark 9:38 John says "We forbade others from functioning in Your name". Luke chapter 9 has James and John speaking in one voice, trying to call fire down from heaven. Contrast this from Thomas, who is always speaking alone. And John and Peter are often found together, as in the scene at the tomb, the fishing incident in John chapter 21 (John speaks, Peter leaps), and the healing of the crippled man in Acts chapter 3.

Relationships are expressions of love, or other feelings. John and James and Peter seem to have had strong enough feelings that they stuck together. They held on to each other, close enough so that the Lord chose them when He was still hidden from others.

Ohio says they may be related to one another. I myself have never heard that. But it does seem clear they are in a relationship when Jesus shows up. This relationship becomes, in a large part, the vehicle for their going on with Jesus.

Contrast this to the notion of "offices", with relations based on power.
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Old 10-08-2008, 03:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: Peter and James and John: the calling in Luke 5

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Relationships are expressions of love, or other feelings. John and James and Peter seem to have had strong enough feelings that they stuck together. They held on to each other, close enough so that the Lord chose them when He was still hidden from others.

Ohio says they may be related to one another. I myself have never heard that. But it does seem clear they are in a relationship when Jesus shows up. This relationship becomes, in a large part, the vehicle for their going on with Jesus.

Contrast this to the notion of "offices", with relations based on power.
Wow.

I've never considered these factors this way although it's always been at the back of my mind that I wanted to know more about these factors. We can say Peter wasn't the first pope all day long but there does seem to be something different about his relationships both with the Lord and with the others, especially these two.

I've barely got time to read at the moment but, please continue, brother...
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Peter and James and John: the calling in Luke 5

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Ohio says they may be related to one another. I myself have never heard that. But it does seem clear they are in a relationship when Jesus shows up. This relationship becomes, in a large part, the vehicle for their going on with Jesus.
Here's my basis for commenting that Jesus was related to James and John, and had a family relationship with them before the gospel record begins:

Matt 27.56 lists Mary Magdalene, Mary (mother of James and Joseph -- the Lord's mother based on Matt 13.55), and the mother of the sons of Zebedee (clearly James and John, the leading disciples)

Mark 1540 and 16.1 list Mary Magdalene, Mary (mother of the younger James and Joses -- the Lord's mother), and Salome (we finally learn the name of the wife of Zebedee and the mother of the "sons of thunder")

Luke has no record of the sisters at the cross, but does include the message to the "daughters of Jerusalem"

John 19.25 lists His mother, His mother's sister, Mary (wife of Clopas, and not mentioned elsewhere), and Mary Magdalene

Here the author John lists his own mother as the Lord's mother's sister, hence John is the first cousin of Jesus.

Apparently, among the close cousins, James (son of Salome and Zebedee) was older in age than James (son of Mary and Joseph) so the former was referred to as James the elder, and the latter James "the younger." The elder James was slain by Herod in Acts 12.12, and the younger James became the leading elder in Jerusalem and authored the epistle by his name.
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Old 10-09-2008, 06:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Peter and James and John: the calling in Luke 5

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Here's my basis for commenting that Jesus was related to James and John, and had a family relationship with them before the gospel record begins...
Sorry, Ohio, I had misread you earlier & thought you had meant that Peter & James & John were related.

"And there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother's sister and Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary the Magdalene." John 19:25

As YP says, "wow"... I never saw that. I need to recalibrate... thanks for the citation, Ohio.

Thank You Lord for your Word! Peace to all and have a great day.
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Old 10-14-2008, 07:20 AM   #6
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Default The calling in John chapter one

I have been entertaining the concept for some time now that John the "beloved" disciple was the other, unnamed disciple of John the Baptist in the scene in the fourth Gospel, where John the B. is standing with two of his disciples, and he sees Jesus walking and says "Behold! The Lamb of God!" (vv. 35-36). I have seen it written that "tradition holds" that it is John the disciple there with John the B. It stands up to reason:

--John doesn't mention himself by name in the gospel, and one of the disciples is not named, while the other (Andrew), is. Why is one not named? John is a careful writer.

--John and his brother James were business associates of Peter (Luke 5:10). Andrew, the other, named disciple, was Peter's brother; in fact he goes and gets Peter in verse 41. The connection thus favors John or James; I think John because of the next point.

--John's gospel seems to be all first-person, rather than a collection of stories from others (as Luke's gospel clearly is, for example). The preceding verses about John the Baptist certainly seem to be intimate first-hand reporting, which matches all the rest of the book.

--Many other disciples are named, so the process of elimination narrows it down. Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathaniel are all ruled out; they are delineated one by one as the narration proceeds. Of course, the disciple could have been one not of the twelve. It could have been Cleopas or someone else.

--But the fact that there are two, and they are spoken to by John the Baptizer, and then they speak to and go with Jesus ("and they stayed with Him that day" -- John 1:39), make me strongly predisposed to believe this was none other than John the "beloved" disciple.

Why is this relevant? Because John the Baptist came from a priestly family. His father was not at the outside court, but "inside the temple of the Lord, burning incense" (Luke 1:9). John was conversant with the ways of the religious Jews; when they came to him he addressed them as "Offspring of vipers" (Matt 3:7)...where did this antipathy come from, if not from some acquaintance? Sure, he was in the wilderness until his presentation to Israel, but he seems to have had some intimate first-hand experience with the Jewish religious crowd.

Secondly, the Baptizer (naturally) speaks in the OT vernacular. "A voice crying out in the wilderness..." His ostensible disciple, John, reverts to this mode in his apocalyptic opus, the "Revelation". Look at all the OT references in the final book of the Bible. The entire book is almost lifted verbatim from the OT prophets. Just as Saul/Paul was "trained at the feet of Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3), so I think it likely that John the disciple was trained in OT exegesis by John the B. This comes to the fore in "The Revelation".

Combine this with John 18:16, that "...the other disciple, the one known to the high priest" was clearly John the disciple, and you have someone able to perceive the in degradation of the christian fellowship a haunting echo of that of its predecessor, the (also God-given) system of Jewish worship.

John can see where the fellowship is heading. His "Revelation" is merely an extrapolation of the current trends in the assemblies.

This post, and thread, are meant to be adjuncts to the ongoing discussion in the "eldership" thread.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: The calling in John chapter one

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I have been entertaining the concept for some time now that John the "beloved" disciple was the other, unnamed disciple of John the Baptist (ch 1, vv. 35-36). I have seen it written that "tradition holds" that it is John the disciple there with John the B... [I am] strongly predisposed to believe this [second person] was none other than John the "beloved" disciple.

Why is this relevant? Because John the Baptist came from a priestly family. ...Secondly, the Baptizer (naturally) speaks in the OT vernacular. "A voice crying out in the wilderness..." His ostensible disciple, John, reverts to this mode in his apocalyptic opus, the "Revelation". Look at all the OT references in the final book of the Bible. The entire book is almost lifted verbatim from the OT prophets. Just as Saul/Paul was "trained at the feet of Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3), so I think it likely that John the disciple was trained in OT exegesis by John the B. This comes to the fore in "The Revelation".
I'd like to give an example for consideration. Look at the following 2 verses.

Ezekiel 47:12 "And on the banks on both sides of the river will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail; but they will bring forth new fruit every month, because the water for them flows out of the sanctuary. And their fruit shall be for food, and their leaves for healing."

Revelation 22:2 "And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."

You have tree(s) growing on both banks of the river, you have new fruits each month, you have healing leaves from the tree(s). If this was college, I'd call it plagiarism. John has lifted his "vision" from the OT. Why?

Consider what was circulating among the assemblies at this time. You had the gospel records, obviously. John is aware of this, and acknowledges it in the end of his, the fourth, gospel(chap. 20, vv. 30,31 and chap. 21, v. 25).

You had epistles getting passed around, prominently among them Paul's. Paul was even promoting the practice. Colossians 4:16 has Paul telling them to send this epistle along to the Laodiceans, and likewise to read his Laodican epistle. I'm not sure if John was deliberately referencing this practice in his "seven epistles to the seven churches" in the second and third chapters of his Revelation, but I don't doubt it. He seems to be a very deliberate writer.

But mostly what you had being read in the assemblies of disciples was the "sacred scriptures", our current "Old Testament". You clearly had saints poring over these writings, looking for clues to the Messiah's life and works, especially "what comes next", as we humans are always wont to do (the famous "Berean" text of Acts 17:11 would do nicely here; "examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so").

My point is that the OT was largely the "currency of the realm", and John was playing to this in his Revelation. John was as well-versed in the scriptures as anyone, and he was playing from his strength. He was using the apocalyptic visions from Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the minor prophets, and weaving them into a tapestry and sending it to the assemblies, saying to each of them, "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear..." just as the Master, Jesus had done, in speaking parables before the crowds (see Rev. chap. 2 vv.7,11,17,29 and chap. 3, vv. 6,13,22; for Jesus, see Matt. 11:15 etc).

This is because John is writing to an at-least-partly hostile crowd. The "shoe" of his Jezebel/Satan's throne/Nicolaitans/Balaam barbs probably fit quite uncomfortably on some of the readers, and not a few of them were "in charge" of the gatherings. So John sent them all a parable, a riddle, wrapped in OT vernacular, much of which would have been instantly recognizeable to the readers.

The solution to the "riddle", like all great truths, is quite simple. Behind the hundred pound burning hailstones and rivers of blood up to the knees are simple spiritual principles. "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the thngs written in it, for the time is near" (1:3). The spiritual principles in John's "Revelation" are simple, and therefore we can keep them.

Last edited by aron; 10-20-2008 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 10-22-2008, 07:50 AM   #8
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Default John the Baptist

There seem to be some interesting attempts by the writers of the gospels to separate John the Baptist from Jesus.

In Luke chapter 3, John is shut up in prison (verse 20) before Jesus is baptised (verse 21). If we didn't have the other gospels, we'd conclude someone other than John baptized Jesus. John never mentions Jesus, merely giving exhortations to the assembled throng, speaking concerning "the salvation of God" (verse 6), and making a general reference to the "coming Christ" (vv 16, 17).

Why is this notable? Because there is a story in Luke chapter 1 where John's mother Elizabeth visits Jesus' mother, Mary, and the infant (John) within her womb leaped at the presence of the infant (Jesus) within Mary's womb. The two relatives remained together for three months (verse 56). So, I wonder, did John the Baptist and Jesus ever meet again, before the fateful day when John baptised Jesus, and beheld the Spirit descending from heaven? According to Luke's telling, it seems someone else baptized Jesus! They never met again!

Of course, this is not true. We have the accounts from Matthew and Mark.

But I raise the point because the fourth gospel has some interesting remarks by John the Baptist, spoken twice.

"And I did not know Him, but in order that He might be manifested to Israel, for this reason I came baptizing in water. And John testified, saying, I beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He abode upon Him. And I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water, He said to me, He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, this is He who baptizes in the Holy Spirit." ~John 1: vv. 31-33.

I'd always felt that John must have known Jesus was "the One", even in premonition, before Jesus' presentation to Israel, due to the closeness of their families, and John's clear recognition (pre-birth!!) of God's anointing, but here it seems clear that John was blind of this fact. It seems that he did what Samuel did when anointing David in I Samuel chapter 16: anoint everyone "blindly" and waited for the Spirit to arrive and announce God's choice.

Yet how do we square this with the record in Matthew chapter 3, where John tries to prevent Jesus from being baptized by him, instead saying he should be baptized by Jesus (vv. 13-16)? The different accounts of the coincidence of the ministries of Jesus and John are difficult to reconcile.

This difficulty continues with the call of the disciples, which I hope to address soon. What I am working toward is the idea of the disciples, and "what did they know and when did they know it" in the record, both in the Gospels, Acts of Apostles, and beyond. And John the Baptist is not only the forerunner of Jesus, but also the first "discipler" of some of them, including Andrew, Peter's brother, and quite possibly also John the son of Zebedee. So I am attempting to discern their mindset, their conceptual "package", that they had as they entered into fellowship. What did they see and when did they see it? What were they blind to and why? And when did this blindness leave them, as they authored the "divine record"?

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now..." ~John 16:12

I am trying to critically examine the Spirit's guiding the disciples (verse 13)into all the reality (truth, understanding) of who Jesus was, and what His words meant. I think that revelation is a slow process of accretion, of sifting data, of careful reflection. There are "Wow!" moments, but there also is lots of hard, slow, work involved; it's a process, not an event. That is one reason I treasure John's writings so much. They seem more analytical, versus the earlier accounts which were concerned with just getting the facts out there.

Peace to all and thanks for bearing with me as I do my own analysis.
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:07 AM   #9
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Default Re: John the Baptist

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I am trying to critically examine the Spirit's guiding the disciples (verse 13)into all the reality (truth, understanding) of who Jesus was, and what His words meant. I think that revelation is a slow process of accretion, of sifting data, of careful reflection. There are "Wow!" moments, but there also is lots of hard, slow, work involved; it's a process, not an event. That is one reason I treasure John's writings so much. They seem more analytical, versus the earlier accounts which were concerned with just getting the facts out there.

Peace to all and thanks for bearing with me as I do my own analysis.
I'm following along.

Our appreciation of these first brothers of the Lord is so distorted through generations of religious interpretation that if we can see something by studying "the lives of the saints" I believe it's probably up to folks like you have an interest and an insight to strip away the halo-encrusted mosaics and introduce us to the real guys who put on their tunics one leg at a time.

I know multiple attempts have been made over the years to do this very thing but there is one difference with regard to your attempt: you touched something solid in your spirit and you can reasonably conclude that the guys whose lives you're considering had that same experience.

Not every Christian author is clear about their connection with the Almighty and that perspective can change things, I think....
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Old 11-05-2008, 06:32 AM   #10
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Default The Record in Mark

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What I am working toward is the idea of the disciples, and "what did they know and when did they know it" in the record, both in the Gospels, Acts of Apostles, and beyond.

... John the Baptist is not only the forerunner of Jesus, but also the first "discipler" of some of them, including Andrew, Peter's brother, and quite possibly also John the son of Zebedee. So I am attempting to discern their mindset, their conceptual "package", that they had as they entered into fellowship. What did they see and when did they see it? What were they blind to and why? And when did this blindness leave them, as they authored the "divine record"?

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now..." ~John 16:12

I am trying to critically examine the Spirit's guiding the disciples (verse 13)into all the reality (truth, understanding) of who Jesus was, and what His words meant. I think that revelation is a slow process of accretion, of sifting data, of careful reflection.

I was reconsidering these thoughts recently as I was reading Mark's gospel.

I wonder what these young men were looking for. "We have found the Messiah" (Jo. 1:41). These men were already seeking, pre-Jesus; some of them were disciples of John the Baptist. What was their concept of the Messiah, and how did it change? And how slowwwwly did it change? Look at the slooowww process of gaining awareness, as evinced in Mark.

Chapter 9: Peter and James and John see "the kingdom of God coming in power", i.e. the transfiguration, vv 1-8. On the way down the mountain Jesus says "Do not relate this to anyone, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead"

Verse 10: "And they kept the word, discussing among themselves what rising from the dead was." Then they (Peter and James and John) asked Jesus concerning Elijah coming first (verse 11). Jesus reminds them how "...it is written that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be counted as nothing...but I tell you that Elijah has come." vv 12 - 13

Then go to chapter 10, verse 32. They are all going to Jerusalem, and the followers are "amazed and afraid" (RcV). Everybody knows that some kind of big event is coming forthwith. But what? And who, exactly, is the Messiah? My sense is that fallen human concepts, with the commensurate "good intentions", filtered out the vast majority of reality that was occurring before their very eyes.

Verse 33: "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and to the scribes. And they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles, and they will mock Him and spit at Him and scourge Him, and they will kill Him. And after three days He will rise."

At this very moment James and John try to split their "cabal" with Peter from 3 to 2. "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him saying "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one on Your left, in Your glory." The others become disgruntled. (vv 35 - 41)

Imagine a general leading his troops into battle. The night before the contest, he gives a talk. "Men, we are hopelessly outnumbered. The outcome of this struggle will be my death. You will be broken and scattered. Any questions"

"Yes, chief. When's the victory parade? And can I hold the banner?"

When you read the record, and look away from the words of the Savior, to the words, and reactions of the followers, and you start to see the magnitude of the degree to which they didn't "get it", it is astonishing.

Which leads me to 2 questions:

1.When John was penning his books, Revelation and Gospel and Epistles, many years later, when the original participants were gone, and even many second generation disciples (Paul, e.g.) had passed, and the "leaven" was clearly manifest in the assemblies, how much did he try to address this continuous peril of ignorant good intentions?

2. I wonder, today, how much we still don't "get it"?
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:23 AM   #11
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Default Two letters from captivity

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Much of the discussion of eldership is dominated by Paul's experiences in Acts, and his epistles (Titus, Timothy, etc)....But I think it necessary to complement all this with a discussion of relations among the believers pre-Paul.

And I especially want to use Peter and James and John to home in on John, who remained post-Paul, and seemed to have a less than sanguine view (Rev. chaps. 2 & 3) of the various assemblies at the close of the apostolic age...
John remains for me the bellwether, the best reference point for getting into the written record of the New Testament because he was there when Jesus arrived and he was there after Paul and James "the younger" had passed on. So his "Revelation" is worthy of our attention.

As I've mentioned earlier, John likely was the "other disciple" in the first chapter of the fourth gospel, who leaves John the Baptist and follows Jesus. John saw Jesus when he wasn't a media sensation. He was one of the original ones who wasn't drawn to the circus, but to the man. And he stuck with it even when it became a circus, even when it all came crashing down at Golgotha, and when the shattered believers regrouped and went on together.

Anyway, this post is simply to make the remark that John in the book of Revelation is very similar to Daniel in the OT. John was imprisoned on Patmos. Daniel was carried away to Babylon. Of course, Daniel wasn't the only "exile" record in the OT. Ezekiel got some of his visions by the banks of the river Chebar, and Jeremiah famously wept over the destruction of Jerusalem.

Nonetheless my subjective assessment is that the linkage with Daniel's experience is strongest. Daniel is writing to people in captivity, who have fallen away from the desire of God. They are in a strange land, and they are also worshipping strange things; things of man. They are far from where they once were. The king decreed that everyone not petition any other God but only the king (Darius) for 30 days. Daniel opened his window and prayed toward Jerusalem, as he did 3 times daily.

Now, how many other Jews got tossed for this violation? None. Only Daniel got busted. How many of the other Jews in Babylon continued praying toward Jerusalem? See the story in Daniel chapter 6.

My point is that not only were the Jews in Babylon, far from Jerusalem, but also they lost the practice of contacting God and following him. And they began to take up the ways of the locals. They became the "chosen people" in name only; no longer in deed.

Now, go to Revelation chapter 1, 2 and 3. Not only is John captive on Patmos, but he is writing to assemblies that have been captured by dark forces. He writes to them again and again: "repent". Only one of the seven is not urged to repent and turn back to God. And this is clearly an epistle meant to all the fellowships of believers, not just in Asia. "Blessed is he who reads the words of this prophecy and keeps the things in it..." (1:3).

John is in exile, placed on the island of Patmos. But he is only physically captured. Like Daniel, he is writing to a people whose souls have been led astray.

Look at the strong parallels in Revelation to Daniel. The apocalyptic visions, the "time, and times, and half a time" (Daniel 12:7), the decree that everyone must bear the mark of the beast and worship the beast or be killed, in Revelation chapter 13, which echoes Daniel's experience. Etc, etc.

These were letters written by people in captivity, written to their brethren who were also in captivity. Contrary to what many christians have asserted to me over the years, I think that the degradation of "the church" did not happened when Constantine got his vision of the cross, before the battle of Milvan bridge, and thenceforth assumed "headship" of the church. I believe the degradation of the church was well underway during the writing of the final NT chapters. Watchman Nee's "The Normal Christian Church Life" is perhaps not so normal, after all.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:39 AM   #12
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Contrary to what many christians have asserted to me over the years, I think that the degradation of "the church" did not happened when Constantine got his vision of the cross, before the battle of Milvan bridge, and thenceforth assumed "headship" of the church. I believe the degradation of the church was well underway during the writing of the final NT chapters.
Concur.

You know, the issue here goes back to that very word once again.

"Universal Church."

Those who instinctively interpret that term as more-or-less institutional in its essential character are always going to look primarily towards indicia of institutional change, and surely the biggest one was Constantine's embrace.

The truth that "ekklesia" simply means "assembly" just goes in one ear and out the other.

What Constantine took control of was something that had obviously been developing for quite some time already and it was not merely the Body of Christ but a religious institution, most likely originating ultimately in the practices of the Jewish synagogues of the diaspora.

My study at this time is a consideration of the extent to which Paul himself may have been inadvertently responsible for that development, which issue may have been Witness Lee's single biggest blind spot. Lee always looked at Paul's recorded Jewish practices as momentary lapses rather than as part of a pattern of such practices maintained customarily by a Pharisee of Pharisees. I think it's fair to say without risk of serious contradiction that Paul's appreciation of God's love was necessarily inferior to that of Christ's own embodiment of same and comfortable institutions flowing from fundamentally legalistic concepts are far more likely to have been part of Paul's thinking than we have customarily attributed to him.

I recently read a message from the Life-Study of Matthew wherein Lee discussed at length "the new law" of the King. From a certain perspective, of course, that makes perfect sense, but I was struck this time with the very concept of "the new law" that Lee introduced there. (See the footnote on Matt. 5:23 for an example of the approach.)

Even in Jesus' statement concerning "the old law," He does not express it in terms of it being "Law" at all! "You have heard that it was said..." is not a commandment being repeated! Why didn't Jesus say, "The Law commands..." instead? While highlighting the need for His believers' behavior to be uplifted (even perfect) is clearly the Lord's intention in the section, there is no "new law" being discussed here and the very inclination to find or discuss one is almost certainly the legacy of the ancient scholars of the law who were among the first of His disciples.
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:55 AM   #13
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I recently read a message from the Life-Study of Matthew wherein Lee discussed at length "the new law" of the King. From a certain perspective, of course, that makes perfect sense, but I was struck this time with the very concept of "the new law" that Lee introduced there.

Even in Jesus' statement concerning "the old law," He does not express it in terms of it being "Law" at all... there is no "new law" being discussed here and the very inclination to find or discuss one is almost certainly the legacy of the ancient scholars of the law who were among the first of His disciples.
How quickly we can interject a "new law" into the text. Just supply a few words into the mouth of the King, and off we go.

Also re: the universal church. I was just listening to a song tape from the old days. We were singing about the "glorious church", and I recognized a lot of the songs inspired by exegeses Lee gave from Ephesians. I remember thinking as I listened, how we came full circle. First there was the RCC, where all the rank & file overlooked the egregious errors both in word and deed committed by the "church authorities". Then there was the Reformation & much subsequent splintering; group after group. This church and that church. After meeting one another, believers ask, "What church do you belong to?"

Then along comes Nee, trying to restore the "original church", supposedly ordained by God from the mouth of Jesus and the apostles. Now we overlook any shortcomings in word and deed of the leadership because, "It's the church". I know I did, right from the bat. Whenever I came across something which didn't square with the letter nor the spirit of the Bible, I would tell myself, "Well, it's the church."

Once I swallowed the "Universal Church" established here on earth and directed by men, it's amazing how much else my stomach could handle.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:13 PM   #14
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Once I swallowed the "Universal Church" established here on earth and directed by men, it's amazing how much else my stomach could handle.
You said a mouthful!
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:52 AM   #15
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My study at this time is a consideration of the extent to which Paul himself may have been inadvertently responsible for that development, which issue may have been Witness Lee's single biggest blind spot.

Lee always looked at Paul's recorded Jewish practices as momentary lapses rather than as part of a pattern of such practices maintained customarily by a Pharisee of Pharisees.

I think it's fair to say without risk of serious contradiction that Paul's appreciation of God's love was necessarily inferior to that of Christ's own embodiment of same and comfortable institutions flowing from fundamentally legalistic concepts are far more likely to have been part of Paul's thinking than we have customarily attributed to him.
And I am wondering what John was upset about in the "Revelation". The epistles to the seven Asian assemblies make John's evaluation quite clear to me. But was the degradation connected to Paul's ministry? To James and the "throne" and the desposyni (the family of Jesus) in Jerusalem? To some combination thereof?

The only direct comment I can recollect John making towards James the brother of the Lord is his remark in chapter 7 of his gospel, that "not even his brothers believed into Him" (v.5). I consider this remark to be rather pointed; a shot from John directed at the "leadership" in Jerusalem who had had nothing to do with the man Jesus. To me, that's pretty big, and the later implications are clear. Ignorant leadership led the sheep astray.

And John certainly took a different "route" than Paul in following the Lord. No great organization-building efforts that I can see. But John left disciples such as Polycarp who were a bridge to later ones such as Irenaeus. John's "lineage" is intact. Paul's never survived, for all of his labor, which is really kind of striking when you think of it. Timothy left no mark. I have heard that one of the various Clements (there seem to be several) was associated with Paul to some degree, but that link doesn't seem strong to me.

Anyway, I am just thinking aloud here. Something happened in the fellowships of the believers which by AD 90 or so had the aged apostle John quite bothered. The assemblies were in some kind of bondage. A new Babylon was rising in their midst. Whether this was due to the efforts of James or Paul or something else I can't establish. John was one of the 12 who set up the "feeding committee" in Acts 6 (see v.2). He didn't want to serve tables either. So why is he excoriating the Nicolaitans 50 years later?
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:24 AM   #16
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Anyway, I am just thinking aloud here. Something happened in the fellowships of the believers which by AD 90 or so had the aged apostle John quite bothered. The assemblies were in some kind of bondage. A new Babylon was rising in their midst. Whether this was due to the efforts of James or Paul or something else I can't establish. John was one of the 12 who set up the "feeding committee" in Acts 6 (see v.2). He didn't want to serve tables either. So why is he excoriating the Nicolaitans 50 years later?
Well maybe think about this aloud: John's gospel is the most purely Greek of the bunch and it is markedly distinct in any number of ways. Why and how did that occur? And as you already noted, he was way outside of the mainstream at the close of the period. Surely that might give him perspective. I wouldn't hold being among them in Acts 6 as anything much because he may have seen the outcome of that very early organizational effort and felt differently later. Can you identify some statement which might reveal that?

But this is the thing that instantly interested me most in this context: he referred to himself four times as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." I think instinctively, we may tend to hear this as a boast about the special place that he had in the Lord's heart but consider his epistles and see if that reading really fits for you. Surely, brother John did not truly believe Jesus loved him more than all the others! And he never says "more" anyway.

So, if that's the case, how can we understand the repeated phrase about being loved? What else might he have meant to convey by the phrase? And is it possible that this is a clue?

I don't just want to raise the questions. My speculation, along the line of yours I believe, is that John was on a different line from the rest early on.

Maybe not read John as opposed to those brothers but as opposed to what came from their Jewish practice because of a more Greek connection of some kind?

This is interesting!
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Old 01-08-2010, 11:36 AM   #17
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aron,

Why are we considering elevating certain scripture over other scripture? Besides the clear change in "agreement" between the OT and the NT, what is the scripture if not the telling of the story of God and of his dealings with man. Does any one writing/writer tell the whole story? No. Even if you look at the Pentateuch and presume that Moses wrote most of it, it clearly does not tell us everything, but tells us what it tells us.

When we get to the NT, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the same story to a great extent, but with variation throughout. John told something else, covering little of what the other three did. Is any of them the whole story? Do you know the entirety of Jesus teaching by reading only John (or all four gospels, for that matter)? There is no charge to baptize without Matthew. And that charge also included a command to disciple (make followers) and to teach to obey. This is not found in John. But without John, we do not know about some of the more spiritual aspects of our relationship with Christ.

Then comes the telling of the start of the church. Acts gives a mostly historical account. While there are spiritual principles within it, it mostly gives the accounts of the "acts of the apostles." Paul came along and provided some insight into the things that came up within some of the churches. His discussion is often at a very different kind of level than had been seen in any other writings. Why? Not sure. But I would attribute it mainly to his higher education than virtually any contemporaries or of those who had gone before, coupled with the religious training and what he learned in his time in Arabia. But I do not find him to have been teaching things different to what had gone before, most notably the teachings of Jesus.

Then, when we read the other epistles, including those of Peter and John, I am not struck that any of them are at odds with any other. They generally do not talk about the same things, but they are in agreement where they do.

So when you consider that John was writing something different from the others, as YP called "on a different line from the rest early on," do we have reason to believe that it was superior? Lee would say so, and generally does. But is it rather than the entire revelation of the story of Jesus' time on earth and his direct teachings is not simply one or the other, but both? Do we need to know the truth that will set us free or keep to Jesus commands? And you answer "both" (which would be correct). How many commands are found in Matthew, Mark and Luke that are not found in John? Do we need them all and need to "hold to" (obey) them all to know the truth?

Last, you question John for instituting the deacons and then writing against the Nicolaitans. This question is based upon the presumption that Lee was correct to call the "deeds of the Nicolaitans" to be the clergy-laity system when that is not established as so, and is considered by much less than half of bible scholars to be the correct understanding of the label. I freely admit that the number of scholars is irrelevant as to what is true. But it does present a significant reason to consider the alternative understandings of the term (or name of a person who possibly lead people astray in a way entirely different from "clergy-laity"). To simply go on as if there is no question that "clergy-laity" is the meaning is not intellectually honest. And if the result of calling it "clergy-laity" is to cast such a significant cloud over John, then it would seem that reconsidering the meaning of Nicolaitan might be a reasonable thing.
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:06 PM   #18
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Why are we considering elevating certain scripture over other scripture?
The reason is because one scripture ends the story, and trumps the rest. Remember the parable of the man with two sons (Matt. 21)? One had a bad start, but repented and did the will of the father. The second started well, but stumbled. It is how you finish, not how you start. And given that 6 of the 7 epistles that end the Bible are censorious in nature, I suspect something is going on here. So I use the word "degradation", and ask why. The degradation might have occurred subsequent to and unrelated to the rest of the written record, given the lapse of time. But the two records, that of "Revelation" and that of what preceded it, may be causally correlated.

Paul told the Galatians: "You started well. You were running the race. Who stumbled you?"

Something stumbled the Asian assemblies. They were in captivity. I am wondering why.

Second, given that John knew the high priest, and was likely a disciple of John the Baptist, whose own father was a serving priest, I think John was acutely aware of the failure of Judaism. The religious Jews had the "white paint" of religion, but inside was death. Now, who do you suppose was the woman with the scarlet robe and the golden cup full of abominations? It was some religion; most likely are the Jewish one or the nascent christian one. I say it was likely the christian one. Why? Because the seven epistles are to the christian assemblies. John isn't concerned with Judaism. But the "spirit of Babylon" which killed the Jewish faith was going to ruin the christian one as well.

Third, John was there in chapter one of the fourth gospel, on the beach with Andrew and John the Baptist, and they saw Jesus there, alone. At the end of the written record there are assemblies, offices, service commitees, and so forth. If anyone is qualified to ascertain as to whether the "nature" of the business has changed for the worse, it is John the disciple. Paul wasn't there on the beach, nor was James. John was there. He saw the man Jesus. So I look to him for the "last word".
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Old 01-09-2010, 04:50 AM   #19
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If anyone is qualified to ascertain as to whether the "nature" of the business has changed for the worse, it is John the disciple. Paul wasn't there on the beach, nor was James. John was there. He saw the man Jesus. So I look to him for the "last word".
And for my part, I wouldn't call this "elevating one scripture over another." I'd call this recognizing that all of the Holy Writ is God-breathed but some scriptures preserve negative lessons and we should not be so superstitious or proud to think that we necessarily possess "THE" proper and final interpretation either because it was handed down to us or on account of our own cleverness.

The thesis that you have put forward for some time now, aron, that there was active degradation in the assemblies before the close of the initial Christian period which was recognized and addressed by John in his writings is extremely helpful in my view. All Christian teachers who would give serious consideration to the matter would really have to view Revelation in just that way. The problem is that most avoid dealing with Revelation altogether (and we should be more than cautious as we proceed therein as well!)

I have come to believe that Lee's subjugation of James' epistle to those Pauline was somewhat inaccurate and overly harsh. But the truth is that they were different men who saw things distinctly, as indeed is the case with each New Testament writer. Lee spent a whole lot of time to get into Paul's mindset and I have been benefited by that review of Paul's epistles. But I'm not bound by Lee's interpretations any more than I am bound by any other teacher's, ancient or modern. And I'm encouraged to make a more holistic review of John's writings from the theoretical perspective that he may have had his own approach to the problems of the Judaizers, which I have postulated is the ultimate root of the degradation.

Superficially, at least, the fact the the Roman Catholic Church has "priests" is sufficient evidence for some about the origin of the "leaven" but the approach that further insight into sources might be gleaned from John's writings is unfamiliar to me and very interesting indeed. I intend to read again the body of his writings over this frosty weekend so as to hopefully be better equipped for my part in this discussion.

Grace to you!
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:29 AM   #20
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Looking back at the earlier posts, it just seems to me that there is some status being given to John due to the fact, or claim, of a lineage of "disciples" and taken away, at least a little, from Paul because there is no such record. But is the record of those who followed John so stellar?

Even if we dismiss the "clergy-laity" flack from Lee as a red herring, we admit that overly-structured hierarchies breed problems and solve few. But isn't it the writings of these disciples of John that began to create a hierarchy of elders, bishops, etc.?

I recently commented in the other forum that we seem to be too eager to read between the lines of the record in scripture. We are looking for preferences. We want to either prove that elders were OK or in error based on outcomes. Well the whole system that existed in Martin Luther's time was the result of a succession of errors that all were claimed to spring from scripture. If that is our yardstick then we should seriously consider a new canon of scripture.

What I am questioning is whether we shoulbd be digging for weak links so we can decide what was a bad example (like Lee did regarding the letter from James) and what was a good example, or we should note the conditions that existed that were spoken of, positively or negatively, and search ourselves for those things. Have we (I) left our first love? Have we followed pagan practices as part of our Christian experience? Have we allowed evil to become prominent in our assembly? Have we elevated our ways in our own eyes to the extent that we no longer seek? Do we have a form of religion that talks a line that is not lived? Are we actively following the Spirit or passively waiting for something to make us quit sinning? Are we holding to Christ's teachings or merely studying them, believing them, and speaking highly of them?

As with some other discussions, I will simply point out my concern that we are seeking answers in extrapolating into what is not recorded based only the very little that is recorded. Like the "ground of the church," if there was to be something prescriptively important, it wouldn't require an analysis of the progress of the church, and of the records of the disciples of John, Paul, Peter, etc., (BTW, something that they would probably deny having) beyond the end of the scriptures to figure out.

Surely there is something in error about the establishment of a hierarchy of positions. (Interesting that it was John's "disciples" that got that going.) But man's error does not negate the sound spiritual purpose of elders. If John had not somehow supported elders, how would his "disciples" have taken it further? Surely if "elders" was just something from Paul, then Polycarp and others would not have had an elder to rise up to the level of a bishop. It requires an unsupported story much more substantial than what is recorded in scripture to arrive at what it seems you seek.

I will not simply keep this up unless you choose to reply to my points. This is not intended for debate, but consideration. That does not mean that I might not challenge, agree with, or otherwise comment on particular points along the way. But I do not say these things just to create a diversionary argument. If you continue with your discussion (with or without any consideration of what I have written) I am not trying to stop you. Just adding what I believe is a missing element.
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:06 AM   #21
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Looking back at the earlier posts, it just seems to me that there is some status being given to John due to the fact, or claim, of a lineage of "disciples" and taken away, at least a little, from Paul because there is no such record. But is the record of those who followed John so stellar?
True. You note the "bishop" idea flowing from one of John's supposed disciples. This is indeed problematic to my conceptual arrangement, and I fully admit it. This is why I am very much at the provisional stage in my thinking. If other conceptual arrangement is provided to explain the things which I've pointed out, I'll reconfigure accordingly.

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Even if we dismiss the "clergy-laity" flack from Lee as a red herring, we admit that overly-structured hierarchies breed problems and solve few. But isn't it the writings of these disciples of John that began to create a hierarchy of elders, bishops, etc.?
Duly noted.

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I recently commented in the other forum that we seem to be too eager to read between the lines of the record in scripture. We are looking for preferences. We want to either prove that elders were OK or in error based on outcomes. Well the whole system that existed in Martin Luther's time was the result of a succession of errors that all were claimed to spring from scripture. If that is our yardstick then we should seriously consider a new canon of scripture.
No. I would merely say that those folks didn't do enough critical thinking when they claimed the authority of scriptures. Obviously that is what I am hoping to do. Not overturn scriptures, but think critically about what circumstances prompted the things we read about.

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What I am questioning is whether we shoulbd be digging for weak links so we can decide what was a bad example (like Lee did regarding the letter from James) and what was a good example, or we should note the conditions that existed that were spoken of, positively or negatively, and search ourselves for those things. Have we (I) left our first love? Have we followed pagan practices as part of our Christian experience? Have we allowed evil to become prominent in our assembly? Have we elevated our ways in our own eyes to the extent that we no longer seek? Do we have a form of religion that talks a line that is not lived? Are we actively following the Spirit or passively waiting for something to make us quit sinning? Are we holding to Christ's teachings or merely studying them, believing them, and speaking highly of them?
Agreed. I have been thinking these same thoughts lately. I can go on about the "truth" that I see in the scriptures, but how much do I live in the reality? Easy to see the mote in someone else's eye, while the boulder in my own lies unchallenged.

The problem with these boards is that we have pretty much no way of ascertaining the manner of life of the other posters, whether they walk the talk or they just type it and hit "send". But in the judgment seat of Christ it will be our living that weighs more than our proclamations and declamations.

On the other hand, it is the "truth that sets you free". Some of the ideas I've been exposed to on the boards have been quite liberating to me. Basically they've freed me from getting hung up on the externals.

And, while I'm on the subject, I might add that it's possible that the nascent organization-building activities of the church "fathers" might have led to some of the problems noted in the epistles to the Asian assemblies. Bro. Hope noted this when he wrote about how the "work" and the "deputy authority" ultimately usurped the first love toward our Bridegroom, Christ. We toss folks under the bus when they can't get with the program. But the first command is to love our neighbor. Instead we love our organization, our movement, our doctrines. Any truth which releases us from such bondage would be welcomed indeed.

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As with some other discussions, I will simply point out my concern that we are seeking answers in extrapolating into what is not recorded based only the very little that is recorded. It requires an unsupported story much more substantial than what is recorded in scripture to arrive at what it seems you seek.
True. My search is very tentative, based on scanty records and my own subjective "connect the dots" thinking. I understand that 90% of the readers would likely be unsatisfied. But my dot connecting is more satisfying to me than 90% of what I see out there (I admit to a possible anti-establishment bias. ).

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Surely there is something in error about the establishment of a hierarchy of positions. (Interesting that it was John's "disciples" that got that going.) But man's error does not negate the sound spiritual purpose of elders. If John had not somehow supported elders, how would his "disciples" have taken it further? Surely if "elders" was just something from Paul, then Polycarp and others would not have had an elder to rise up to the level of a bishop .
I am glad you noted this. I, too, have noticed this & in fairness should have pointed it out in my hypothesis. It is a major weakness in one of the planks of my hypothesis(John having remaining disciples while Paul does not).

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I will not simply keep this up unless you choose to reply to my points. This is not intended for debate, but consideration. That does not mean that I might not challenge, agree with, or otherwise comment on particular points along the way. But I do not say these things just to create a diversionary argument. If you continue with your discussion (with or without any consideration of what I have written) I am not trying to stop you. Just adding what I believe is a missing element.
Your points are excellent. I would have responded more in depth to your earlier post except I was pressed for time so I only answered one point.

No, I don't believe I am elevating one scripture or ministry over any others. I am trying to solve a puzzle. The Bible presents a chronological narrative, and the end is not so stellar, at least as far as the "local churches" goes. If the epistles to the Asian assemblies was followed by more hopefull testimonies elsewhere, then I might take them as some exception to what followed -- Constantine, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the 100 Year's war, the religious oppression of Native peoples in both North & South America, the Salem Witch Trials, etc.

It is possible that the issues in Acts 15 on keeping the law, the believers being zealous for the law in Acts 22 & Paul succumbing to this (being a "Jew" to the Jews), Paul & Peter at odds in the record of Galatians over "some from James", the problems in the Asian assemblies, etc are all unrelated to what followed later. Or it is possible they are harbingers of later events. Perhaps the first sprouts are showing, and eventually this becomes the religious image, with a golden cup and a scarlet robe.

In some way my line of inquiry is indebted to Nee & Lee, who pointed out that the Hebrew religion was initially God-given, degraded over time, ultimately replacing God and opposing Him; and this pattern repeated itself with the christians after Christ. However, I think the problem is much deeper than Nee & Lee did, and cannot be rectified by merely aping first-century "normal church practices" or "taking the ground" or such. Thus, I am rooting around in the scriptures; looking for trouble as it were.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:44 AM   #22
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No, I don't believe I am elevating one scripture or ministry over any others. I am trying to solve a puzzle. The Bible presents a chronological narrative...
Even that statement is a problem, aron.

There is a chronological narrative buried within the Bible but it is generally NOT presented chronologically.

By attempting to theorize and hypothesize and see if things fit together in this way or that, we are, at least in part, attempting to recreate the chronology which is implicit in God's progressive revelation of Himself over time.

I have the full confidence that if we do not simply ignore the scriptures that don't fit our preferred interpretations, we shall remain on track, following the One who will lead us into all the truth. The scriptures are designed to accomplish this very thing and are fully capable of doing so without any doubt.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:33 AM   #23
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The scriptures are designed to accomplish this very thing [lead us into all the truth] and are fully capable of doing so without any doubt.
Also, this is where the assembly comes in. We allow ourselves a multitude of counselors. We don't do our ruminating in a corner, as it were. There is something to be said for sheep: they recognize the safety in numbers. So it's okay to let our thinking process be adjusted by others.

I remember W. Lee talking about that one time: he said we have the Bible, the fellowship, and the Spirit to guide us into reality. But in truth he only received fellowship from those who said "yes". Everyone else was shown the door. I have to be more broad than that if I want to be preserved.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:54 AM   #24
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I recently commented in the other forum that we seem to be too eager to read between the lines of the record in scripture. We are looking for preferences.
yes, this is true. All of us have biases, and we go into the record wanting to prove "innocence" or "guilty" on some party or party line; and we thus push some aspects of the record and ignore or repress others. The facts are the facts, but we distort them in our desire to arrive at our preferred version of the "truth".

In my particular line of inquiry, the danger might be that I say "I am of John", as Dong Yu Lan is now being accused of doing. That's really no better than being "of Paul" or "of James" or of anyone else. Because if we think we've proven the superiority of our way to others, then we merely have built our own custom-fit cage, and have climbed in, safe and secure from the unpleasant intrusions of reality.

The escape, to me, seems to be to submit our perusal of the record to the rough and tumble of the assembly. There will be some there, soveriegnly provided by God, who will cut away our excesses, and point out our lacks. Potentially the assembly of the called-out ones provides a great boon to the truth-seeking believer.

I myself am not against Paul, nor against the appointing of elders & such. But at least my inquiry seems to have released me from the requirement of being subject to such a system. Paul said, "Am I not free?"; and he also said, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." So I am imitating Paul: I declare that I also am free. I am free to find my own place within the assembly of the faithful.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:51 AM   #25
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Also, this is where the assembly comes in.
Absolutely.

If for no other reason than to remind us of that other verse we've forgotten, the fellowship with other believers is clearly a necessary component of any serious study of the Bible.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:55 AM   #26
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The problem with these boards is that we have pretty much no way of ascertaining the manner of life of the other posters, whether they walk the talk or they just type it and hit "send". But in the judgment seat of Christ it will be our living that weighs more than our proclamations and declamations.
And I'll readily confess that my standard of life falls far below the standard of being perfect as our heavenly Father is. So, I take it as a given that you similarly fall well short of any idealistic aspirations, aron.

I consider that it's our blessed portion to assist each other to step foward together, particularly as we stumble...
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:29 PM   #27
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First, while I have some now very open reservations, Let's get on with it.

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It is a major weakness in one of the planks of my hypothesis(John having remaining disciples while Paul does not).
The problem is that we don't really know that Paul did not have any "disciples" or that either of them considered those that learned from them as "their" disciples. It could be that Paul's disciples were not prolific writers (if at all) or were mostly dealing with the issues of the assemblies with which they had some direct charge or presence while John's were more like itinerant preachers having no fixed base. One would not need to write letters while the other might. It also could simply be the way it played out.

As for my comments about looking to current errors more than flaws in scriptural understanding, that is not an absolute. While I am more and more convinced that there is a proper place for certain "positions" within the assembly that should be exercised in true "servant" mode, it seems clear that there are things in scripture that have been misinterpreted (willfully or ignorantly) that have lead to some of the errors that we observe.

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No, I don't believe I am elevating one scripture or ministry over any others. I am trying to solve a puzzle. The Bible presents a chronological narrative, and the end is not so stellar, at least as far as the "local churches" goes.
If we are going to talk about scripture as revealing a general decline, I note that there are only seven epistles. They are to one region that had some of the most strong worldly and satanic influences. Meanwhile there is nothing said to the churches in Judea, Greece, Rome, or other parts of modern Turkey. Was it that these seven represented the problems that all had? Or were they the only ones with problems? Or were they chosen because it was possible to find enough of certain issues that they could be pointed out for everyone to read and heed? In all cases, there were those charged to overcome. All was not lost. Even in what we call the most dire places, the record does not seem to say that all are engaged in the error, or does not provide more than a charge against the assembly as a whole. (That surely means that the "problem" was significant enough that it was not hidden.)

As for the issue of a chronology, maybe that is not the correct analysis. Instead, the issue is how God dealt with what was there. While there may be something to knowing where 2 Corinthians fits into the NT time line, just like where Jonah fit in the OT time line, we might be giving the knowledge of the time (in both cases) more stature than it deserves. Maybe it is how God is dealing with what "is" and what "is" has been recorded in the particular writings. What did God say? Start with the presumption that what Paul, John, Peter, or whoever said or wrote is God's speaking.

But if the order of the epistles is so uncertain that we cannot reliably use the order as a meaningful fact, then we might be better to presume that the order is not the issue.
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Old 01-14-2010, 04:35 AM   #28
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Well maybe think about this aloud: John's gospel is the most purely Greek of the bunch and it is markedly distinct in any number of ways. Why and how did that occur?
Reviewing John's gospel account over a few days, a couple of things I've noticed.

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Jhn 7:35 The Jews therefore said to one another, Where is he about to go that we shall not find him? Is he about to go to the dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?
Two things are found in this one verse. One is John's use of the phrase "The Jews". Now please take note that I am NOT stating that John uses the phrase "The Jews" solely as or even primarily as a condemning term. But if you review the other three gospel accounts regarding the use of this phrase you cannot detect even a hint of negativity. The most common usage elsewhere is simply in the phrase "King of the Jews." "The Jews" don't seem to be a problem. John, it seems to me, is possibly the likely root of much of the historical antisemitism that we've witnessed throughout Christian history on account of his use of this phrase.

Consider John 7:1, for instance:
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Jhn 7:1 And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee, for he would not walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him.
Not the elders, the rulers, the Pharisees. "The Jews."

The second thing is the musing about going to the Greek diaspora. Luke in Acts makes it clear that the initial 12 remained in Jerusalem after the persecutions intensified. It was Paul who apparently had to sell them on the topic of salvation beyond the children of Abraham. The idea of salvation coming to the whole world and not just the Jews is not unique to John, nor even to he and Paul alone. But as I noted above, John's gospel account is peculiarly Greek in character in a few ways and herein he seems to have intended to record a kind of prophetic speculation that he heard one day about "The Greeks."

Not just the diaspora among the Greeks. "The Greeks."

(On a side note, it is also interesting to see the reference to "the Dispersion" John uses, a term only used elsewhere in the NT by James and Peter.)


My main query at this point along these lines derives from John's use of the term "The Jews" at all. The implication is that he did not count himself among them and I find that quite odd and certainly adverse to the position of those who have speculated that the first believers saw themselves solely as a reform movement within Judaism. Perhaps it might be proposed that some felt that way, perhaps even Paul by some accounts, but I don't think that can be fairly said about John. John seems to be interested in something quite different.

Aside from his joint participation in the activities in Jerusalem (up until whatever point) and being among them in Acts 6, can you point to a single "Jewish" thing that John himself did after the resurrection?
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:15 AM   #29
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Interesting questions. Some thoughts that came as I read your post:

The whole area was under the administration of Roman rulers who propped up locals to be part of the administration. There were also Roman soldiers and others living within the Jewish lands. There are even accounts of gentiles who were following, or who came to Jesus for healing for their servants, children, etc.

But despite the religious turmoil going on in the land during Jesus' ministry, it was not the Romans who sought to silence Jesus, but the Jews, or more specifically, the Jewish religious leaders. Even at the crucifixion, Pilot was only placating the Jews. He allowed it, but was not the driver of it.

While some may have made more sweeping things out of John's reference to it being the "Jews" who wanted to kill Jesus, it was not all of the Jews, but it was confined to members of that group (or there is no record to suggest otherwise of which I am aware).

In our politically correct world, we would expect that John write something like "the religious leaders of the Jewish religion, or at least a portion of them" so as to clarify that it was not all Jews who sought to kill Jesus. "The Romans" were occupying Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. But clearly not all Romans were. Neither did every Roman even know where Judea, Samaria and/or Galilee was.

"He came to his own and they rejected him." But his own were the bulk of his first followers and believers. Is John's comment more a confirmation that the prophecy that he would be rejected by the Jews in general was true than a comment about Jews? Does the nationality of those who sought his death capture all who are of that nationality?

I do not see how not being counted among the Jews that sought Jesus' death means that John did not consider himself a Jew. And I do not see anything that colors his understanding of Christianity as completely separate from Judaism. Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, not to tear it down. Judaism was not over, per se. It was completed. We call it Christianity.

And in that one change another prophecy became fulfilled. All the nations are now blessed.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:05 AM   #30
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"He came to his own and they rejected him."
John 1:11...this seems a pretty sweeping statement, implying that the Messiah is not going to merely reform nor purify Judaism. The Messiah was repudiated, rejected by Judaism.

Now, on to my thesis (and sorry for incessantly pounding on my tiny drum): was it not possible that the same rejection of the "Jews" to Jesus was presaging the later rejection of the Holy Spirit by the christians? The christians eventually would also build idols and worship them, and forget about the goal of God's calling. Jesus called His followers to be small, to be nothing. But His followers eventually built towers that put Babylon in the shadows.

Notice the word "repent" which begins the epistles to the Asian assemblies in Revelations 2 & 3. This is the word that both Jesus and John the Baptist spoke to initiate their ministry among the Jews. "Turn back from your own paths, and rejoin the path of salvation, which has been set before you by God." Eventually Jesus had to speak this word to the christians as well.

The problem with getting a directive by God, it seems, is that God gives us receding targets, and wants us to aim, direct ourselves, towards them. We, unfortunately, want fixed spots to aim for, and thus we settle down too quickly. Thus God is required to continually recalibrate us, and call us back to the path. I don't see the failure of the Jews to recognize their messiah as much different from the events which have taken place in christianity in the past 2,000 years.
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Old 01-14-2010, 09:21 AM   #31
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While some may have made more sweeping things out of John's reference to it being the "Jews" who wanted to kill Jesus, it was not all of the Jews...
Well, not to quibble, but Matthew can at least reasonably be read to agree with John on who it was that wanted to kill Jesus:

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Mat 27:25 And all the people answering said, His blood [be] on us and on our children.

My point was that sweeping term is John's, which I was surprised to discover.

"for fear of the Jews" is a Johannine term of art, whatever it might mean precisely....
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:21 AM   #32
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"All the people" would be those present at the trial immediately preceding the crucifixion. It would not be the people who were not there as part of the mob. With some noted exceptions, those who assembled for that trial and execution were those who wanted Jesus silenced. But it was also fear of "the people" who had prevented a more open arrest and daylight trial only a short time prior. So which "people" are we talking about?

John 1 reflects the general fact of Jesus' rejection. But it is like the opening dialog for a lengthy discussion. It is little more that a teaser of facts to come. Later we get the details that supports that statement. It was clear that it would be the Jewish status quo that would reject God. They had turned righteousness into a complex serious of formulas and God into not much more than an icon.

Surely the number of Jews that truly followed, both before and after the crucifixion/resurrection, was a minority of the people. And the religious leaders were masters a making Jesus' existence into something to fear with respect to the Roman overlords.

But the teaching of the apostles was from the temple. And the believers, almost only Jews because the open recognition of the extension of God's grace to the gentiles was yet to come, came to the Temple for teaching, and met together from house to house for more personal fellowship of all kinds.

And one of the things that has been overlooked in the whole "rejection by the Jews" issue is that the whole prophecy of the Messiah included rejection and even bruising/wounding. There God demonstrated the condition of even the chosen people under the existing regime (without God inside). Jesus was intended to be crucified, not by the worst, but by the best. That would restate yet again that all are fallen.

Then, with the resurrection, it all comes back again to the Jews, with the most dramatic one-day conversion at Pentecost, then eventually spreading to the half-breeds (the Samaritans), then to the Gentiles.

Yes, there are probably some principles about human nature seen in the progression of events from Adam all the way through to today. Unless our eyes are truly on the mark, we turn away from God. And sometimes even when we think we are following we are only following our notions of what God would be if he were us.

But when I read scripture, both the words and deeds of Jesus, the things recorded in Acts, and the things that Paul and the others recorded in the various letters, I see a constant charge to follow and obey. That requires less emphasis on what is not following and more on what is following.

It is said that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. But others have observed that history keeps repeating itself anyway. It almost does not seem to be avoidable. But the problem may be that it is not the details of history that need study, but the "times." Not so much the what, but the why. Under that assumption, I would argue that it is less the things that Christianity has done to get off the mark as it is the getting off the mark that has lead to the things it has done. It is not Mary, transubstantiation, the pope, indulgences, and prayer to saints rather than to God that is the source of the problem. The source was a heart that was off the mark and open to try something else to keep that religious thing (a negative kind of religious thing) going.

In other words, our focus needs to be more on what is right. What is the life of a disciple. What is obedience. What is "true religion" and true spirituality. The wrong focus is to look at what is not... This almost parallels those two trees back in Genesis. One was about knowing and it didn't really get us anywhere. The other was about life. Following is living. Obedience is living. I don't need to focus on what not to do if I know what to do and stick to that.
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:51 PM   #33
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It was clear that it would be the Jewish status quo that would reject God. They had turned righteousness into a complex serious of formulas and God into not much more than an icon..
Agreed. My point is that the christians were not immune from this degradation; and this falling away might have been more precipitous than most of us realized.

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And one of the things that has been overlooked in the whole "rejection by the Jews" issue is that the whole prophecy of the Messiah included rejection and even bruising/wounding. There God demonstrated the condition of even the chosen people under the existing regime (without God inside). Jesus was intended to be crucified, not by the worst, but by the best. That would restate yet again that all are fallen...
True. Stumblings must come, but woe to him through whom the stumblings come!

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But when I read scripture, both the words and deeds of Jesus, the things recorded in Acts, and the things that Paul and the others recorded in the various letters, I see a constant charge to follow and obey. That requires less emphasis on what is not following and more on what is following.... it is less the things that Christianity has done to get off the mark as it is the getting off the mark that has lead to the things it has done. ...The source was a heart that was off the mark and open to try something else to keep that religious thing (a negative kind of religious thing) going.

In other words, our focus needs to be more on what is right. .. I don't need to focus on what not to do if I know what to do and stick to that.
All true. I love the tradition that holds John's Gospel being written after the Revelation. In the Gospel he clearly shows the way. Not offices, but love. God loved us, so much that He sent His Son. Everything else, to me, fades away in the light of God's great love for us.

This "inoculates" us from getting distracted by all the commotions. We don't have to partake of the empire building and the inevitable subsequent pogroms, inquisitions, quarantines, rebellions, schisms, lawsuits, and so forth. Just believe in God, respond to His love by obeying the voice of His Son in His Spirit, and love your neighbor (the person next to you) as much as you love yourself.

I think everything else, offices or lack thereof, will sort itself out if we hold fast to God's love.
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:10 PM   #34
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But when I read scripture, both the words and deeds of Jesus, the things recorded in Acts, and the things that Paul and the others recorded in the various letters, I see a constant charge to follow and obey.
That is the filter I've also had for some time now and that's at least the larger part of how everyone in a religious bondage of one kind or another got themselves there.

I'm not leaving that unexamined any more. I believe there is a lesson to be learned on the negative side and I intend to study the issue intently for awhile longer at least.

At a minimum, there is certainly room in Paul's own teachings to not slavishly or blindly follow and obey Paul's every word. Some advice he expressly drew from his own opinion as he told us what he thought was best but not what was necessarily a commandment of God to be followed.

Even after all of these days of my divergent thought on the related issues, I'm not prepared to pick and choose for myself which teachings of Paul I think can be ignored (like the old "head-covering" exception to the inerrancy of Paul) and which ones dare not be even seriously questioned (like following him as he followed Christ). But some guy comes to me and says "Do thus and so as Paul instructed/commanded"?

I'm NOT going there any more and the religionists who object can hand-wring over the implied demise of their leadership-heavy ecclesiologies if they wish or condemn me for rebellion or apostasy or quarantine or whatever. I have no intention of showing up at their Sunday services and telling them that I think they are aping patterns which are not sufficiently grounded in scripture and the Spirit of Christ. Simultaneously, I'm at an end of worrying over what they might say to me in an adverse way. Pretend I'm a different denomination and just agree to disagree and I'll give you the ground to follow your own conscience as well.

If I don't have the light myself from the Lord Himself to follow and obey, in a positive way, no amount of pressure from another will prevail upon me again. Your analysis presupposes (someones) ability to accurately articulate what is supposed to be followed and obeyed. Amish anti-button teachings or whatever, at this point I'm leaning strongly towards relying solely upon the annointing as John taught.

That other guy's opinion is no better than mine, really.

OVER IT!
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:58 PM   #35
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I'll do ti out of order:

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That other guy's opinion is no better than mine, really.
Ain't it the truth!!

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Some advice he expressly drew from his own opinion as he told us what he thought was best but not what was necessarily a commandment of God to be followed.
It is statements like this (and my own thoughts that go a little this way at times) that caused me to make the comments I did in UntoHim's Systematic Theology chapter 3 post on the issue of inspiration of scripture. I do not dispute its inspiration. But I wonder if we really know what that means and if we aren't calling it more than it is. As I noted there, only the inspired stuff got in, and the stuff that is in is inspired. But how did they figure out that it was inspired in the first place to put it in? In terms of pure logic, it seems to be the classic example of begging the question.
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Old 01-14-2010, 05:39 PM   #36
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...the thing that instantly interested me most in this context: he referred to himself four times as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." I think instinctively, we may tend to hear this as a boast about the special place that he had in the Lord's heart but consider his epistles and see if that reading really fits for you. Surely, brother John did not truly believe Jesus loved him more than all the others! And he never says "more" anyway.

So, if that's the case, how can we understand the repeated phrase about being loved? What else might he have meant to convey by the phrase? And is it possible that this is a clue?

I don't just want to raise the questions. My speculation, along the line of yours I believe, is that John was on a different line from the rest early on.
John was "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Was he loved more than the others? Not that we can tell. Then why the appelation? I surmise it may have been that John experienced and apprehended God's great love in the person of Jesus Christ, more than the others did. John wasn't frozen in some conceptual bondage; he was free to experience God's love through Jesus the man, instead of putting Him in some pre-arranged "Christ" slot.

After Jesus departed, John also realized this was the best -- perhaps the only-- way to serve the Master. Love one another. In this you are the true disciples. If we see this great truth we will perhaps be spared from wrangling with each other over "who is in charge", what date to celebrate Easter, etc.

But why didn't His younger brothers love Jesus? I and my brother idolized our older brother. He was by most accounts a ne'er do well, but we couldn't see any faults at all. Just the opposite.... maybe James & the rest were already "religious" and Jesus didn't fit their "Messiah" template. They certainly were rude to Him. John was thoughtful enough to provide us with the juicy details.

Yes, it is an amazing thing to break free from forms and traditions and man-created expectations, and just know, apprehend, appreciate, experience, that God loves us. God has so much love for us! And God loves all these "unlovable" people around us. Unlovely, unlovable, unloving, but very, very loved by God. Don't you to some degree feel this was John's burden in writing? Once you start to see the pattern in his writings it really shines through.
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Old 01-14-2010, 05:56 PM   #37
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My speculation, along the line of yours I believe, is that John was on a different line from the rest early on.

Maybe not read John as opposed to those brothers but as opposed to what came from their Jewish practice because of a more Greek connection of some kind?
Well, my reading is that John was ambitious for power early on. He knew the high priest. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, who had enough power to take on the whole priestly class (a "brood of vipers"), counsel soldiers, and rebuke Herod.

But John's desire for power perhaps cloaked insecurity. I am not sure if that is the case, but for some reason, in the Gospels John seems power-focused even more than the others. He wanted the "right hand" of God kind of power. He wanted to call down fire on those who couldn't get with "the plan".

Instead, he got a front row seat to watch John the Baptist get beheaded, then his own brother, then Peter escape - barely - the same fate. Peter had guards chained to either side of him the night he escaped. The next day he would have been dead.

So John prudently "fell into the earth & died"; he disappeared. He didn't go around making a big fuss in the fellowship. He kept on being a disciple of Jesus, but he disappeared. Later, when he resurfaced, all the other stuff had leached out of him, and what was left was the power (to resist evil), the glory (the memory of seeing Jesus on the mountain (see John 1:14), and the love. God loves us, more than we can imagine, and John realized this and grew a burden to communicate this.
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:31 AM   #38
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And, while I'm on the subject, I might add that it's possible that the nascent organization-building activities of the church "fathers" might have led to some of the problems noted in the epistles to the Asian assemblies. Bro. Hope noted this when he wrote about how the "work" and the "deputy authority" ultimately usurped the first love toward our Bridegroom, Christ. We toss folks under the bus when they can't get with the program. But the first command is to love our neighbor. Instead we love our organization, our movement, our doctrines. Any truth which releases us from such bondage would be welcomed indeed.
Sorry to bring up "yesterday's conversation," but this gem has been a huge help in my study of recent history, so I think I can partly understand aron's interests on this post. As the sports community says, "Pardon the Interruption."

Long before LSM's bully tactics engineered a complete takeover, the seeds were sown in the LC rank and file concerning "the work" and "deputy authority." They seemed to many to be "fresh light," part of the ongoing "recovery" of the truth, and an "unveiling" of Paul's true calling and ministry pattern to the Gentile world. Coupled with distorted concepts of "oneness," we were all persuaded that we were "onto" something uniquely special from the Lord.

At first, these matters seemed to benefit the church, at least while WN was in the leadership in China. Eventually, however, these very concepts, apparently scriptural, yet without solid verse support, became the root cause for our undoing. The groundwork foundation was already laid, however, so it was far too late to now "change the room layout." A generation of LC leaders, trained up on these errant teachings, in their mature years had lost the ability to go back and examine the scripture anew.

So I can appreciate the discussions here about "Peter and James and John," who they were, and how they altered church history. I personally feel that scripture balances itself, by providing needed diversity. We in the LC seemed to get far too much "of Paul," and lacked the balance of John and James and Peter. The Brethren exclusives suffered similarly.

As an aside, I heard that the recent GLA YP's conf. featured the message: "faith without works is dead." Imagine that!
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Old 01-15-2010, 10:34 AM   #39
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As an aside, I heard that the recent GLA YP's conf. featured the message: "faith without works is dead." Imagine that!
Hallelujah!
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:37 PM   #40
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At first, these matters seemed to benefit the church, at least while WN was in the leadership in China. Eventually, however, these very concepts, apparently scriptural, yet without solid verse support, became the root cause for our undoing. ...A generation of LC leaders, trained up on these errant teachings, in their mature years had lost the ability to go back and examine the scripture anew.
The incessant string of controversies and fightings amongst the family of faith is the self-evident fruit of error.

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I personally feel that scripture balances itself, by providing needed diversity. We in the LC seemed to get far too much "of Paul," and lacked the balance of John and James and Peter.
Well put-- I never would dream of overturning Paul. The scriptural evidence is overwhelming that he was "of God". If we push Paul off the table, or even diminish his ministry, we end up in some twisted Koresh-land.

But if we are similarly unbalanced in obsessing on the "layout" of the NT ministry "blueprint" provided by Paul (see Ray Graver's "How to follow the Apostle" as Exhibit A), we will find ourselves somewhere like at present, with the GLAs & Brazilians being purged, with an unbroken history of fighting among ourselves, with little common ground with "christianity", etc., etc...

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As an aside, I heard that the recent GLA YP's conf. featured the message: "faith without works is dead." Imagine that!
I was recently considering the idea of "works" in the context of this thread. It seems clear to me there are different works. One is the unique christian work, which is to believe.

John 6:29 "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."

And there is the verse in Acts 2:22, where Peter says, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know..." Jesus did great works of power, but it was God doing the works by Him.

Contrast that to the works of men. Tower of Babel, anyone? So I am all for works. But God's works, not those of fallen humans. Big difference.

One of the last LC meetings I went to was several years ago; I had been out in "christianity" for some time & stopped by to see what was going on & to say hello. They were having a pep rally to "build the Universal Body of Christ." I was aghast. I had at that time no knowledge of these discussion boards, no idea of the Titus Chu problems, nor Timothy Lee, nor Daystar, nor details of past "rebellions" & purges. But I was instantly bothered. Whatever had happened to Jesus building His church, per Matthew 16? In this meeting I attended, it seemed as if God was at the finish line, waiting for us to "build". This is the kind of error that results from being unbalanced. This had all the appearances of a work of men. Nothing I have discovered in the intervening years has led me to change the strong impression I received that day.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:29 PM   #41
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Default Re: Peter and James and John

One thing about Paul which is interesting to me in this line of thinking is where he shares a similar strain with John, as it were; a penchant to go it alone. John disappears from the record (Acts, written by Luke, who was with Paul), and reappears it seems some years later, post-Paul, post-Peter, post-James.

Well, Paul has his own disappearing act as well. Remember the part in the first chapter of Galatians, where Paul says he got a commission from God to preach the gospel to the gentiles, and he didn't go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before him? He remained unknown to the churches in Judea. He went off for 3 years, then stopped by for 2 weeks and said hello to Peter & James (John seems to have been gone by then) & then disappeared from that scene for another 14 years.

Now, if you were an aspiring apostle, why not join to the top dog? That's how Jesse Jackson got his spot. Number 2 to MLK; and therefore next in line when the mantle is passed. Lee was at least in his eyes Nee's closest co-worker. Benson Philips was Lee's chief aide, and so forth. The path to power is accessed by attaching to those in power.

But Paul didn't take that route. He didn't take the Jerusalem route. He took the hinterlands route, and God surely seems to have sustained him. Eventually Paul went to Jerusalem, at the end of the book of Acts, but by then he seems to have gotten in his head that he must be martyred like Christ. He gave speeches to this effect, just as Jesus had done before.

Anyway, Paul didn't take the traditional route to power, and I gotta give him props for that. Ultimately Jerusalem "swallowed" him, but not before he had largely run his course.

So, if we are to follow Paul, should we "go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles who were before", or should we take the Holy Spirit's path? My own argument is that the way to follow Paul is not to follow Paul. Because Paul didn't follow the apostles before him, but rather was led by the God who calls. We, likewise, shouldn't follow those apostles who are before us, in today's "Jerusalem", but rather should be free to follow the moving of the Spirit. I know Ray Graver probably wouldn't appreciate my addendum on his "how to follow the apostle" list, but there it is, anyway.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:13 AM   #42
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Paul... remained unknown to the churches in Judea. He went off for 3 years, then stopped by for 2 weeks and said hello to Peter & James (John seems to have been gone by then) ...
Correction: John wasn't "gone" by then. Later in the chapter Paul talks about coming back to Jerusalem 14 years later & getting the right hand of fellowship from the reputed pillars of the church in Jerusalem: Peter, and James the brother of the Lord, and John.

Also, it perhaps was not so dire for John in Acts chapter 12, as I earlier intimated. James his brother was indeed killed by the sword, and Herod grabbed Peter shortly thereafter, but Herod himself died soon after that (verse 23), so perhaps the heat on John wasn't as immediate and intense as I made it out to be.

Nonetheless, he was at least for a moment a marked man on Herod's enemies list; and probably remained so on that of "the Jews", and given the deaths of John the Baptist and his brother, and Peter's narrow escape and Stephen being stoned to death, and the ensuing persecution of the faithful ones, John's desire for earthly prominence seems to have been tempered.

And thankfully, John was not martyred, because over time he came to realize that true power is not getting other people to do what you want: it is the ability to follow the One with all power.

The power to resist Satan and obey the Father God is the true power of the redeemed and revived ones; as is the power to forgive those who do you harm, and not wish them harm in return. Likewise is the power to love those who have no inclination to love nor respect you.

"For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever..."
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:18 PM   #43
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Default Re: Peter and James and John

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I was recently considering the idea of "works" in the context of this thread. It seems clear to me there are different works. One is the unique christian work, which is to believe.
James word "faith without works is dead," has been heavily criticized by many, including myself, especially with my Catholic background. I was surrounded by Catholics who felt they were pleasing to God due to their "works."

But Peter speaks differently here, "Having your manner of life excellent among the nations, that wherein they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by observing your good works, glorify God."

Paul spoke similarly, "Christ Jesus gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify to Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works."

This is an area of gross shortage among the LSM/LC's. Where are there "good works" towards the nations? When the outsiders look at LSM what do they think? Most never heard of them. Those who have may only think about lawsuits. Inside the LC's, the greatest and most noble "work" would be to "serve the ministry." GG used to promote the FTTA to all the YP every chance he got.

WL successfully convinced generations of precious and committed LC saints that their highest service was to build up his own work. He called this the Levitical service. He surrounded himself with successful pitchmen.

When the GLA saints tried to help their 2nd generation have a new mindset, from "sitting around soaking up the riches -- and condemning poor, poor ... ," to getting out and helping someone else in need, what did Anaheim do? Applaud them? Hardly! Instead, they condemned the GLA for using "gimmicks." They called these "dead works."

Now what's wrong with this picture folks? To serve LSM is just fine. To blast your fellow brethren on the outside is just fine. To sit in trainings all the time is just fine. But to go out and help someone in need will really get you into trouble.
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:28 PM   #44
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To serve LSM is just fine. To blast your fellow brethren on the outside is just fine. To sit in trainings all the time is just fine. But to go out and help someone in need will really get you into trouble.
To me, this seems to grow directly out of "taking a stand for the universal Body of Christ". Once you have succesfully convinced yourselves that you are indeed the true representatives of God on earth (after all, "there is [only] one Body"...), then whatever work that you are interested in is "good works" and whatever work you are not interested in is "dead works." Simple, really.

I know the Bible seems to repeatedly mention some of these irrelevancies, such as the widows, poor, & orphans, but don't let that trouble you too much. Just stay focused on the high peaks. I mean, what could be higher than "consummating the New Jerusalem?" Don't get distracted by all those other things.

No wonder they needed a "One Publication Policy". Think of all the distractions that might otherwise crop up.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:48 AM   #45
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Default Paul in Galatians chapter 1 and 2

I know some might accuse me of taking minor points, which are context-sensitive, and making grand sweeping generalizations from them. I often need such adjustment; they are probably mostly right in this regard. Nonetheless I still look at portions of scripture and wonder what it means for us today.

Take, for example, Paul's characterization of his commission, and ministry, in Galatians chapters 1 & 2. Paul didn't receive his gospel from men, nor the counsel of men. Nor was he taught by men, but received revelation from Jesus Christ (1:11, 12).

Now, why would Paul make such a fuss about this? Why is it noteworthy? I think because he sets the source of his ministry independent from the others. His view and experience is not dependent upon the view, nor experience of others. Eventually, he did go and get fellowship from others, and got the "right hand of fellowship" (2:2,9). But this was the apostles recognizing him as a peer, not as their disciple.

This is significant as a contrast to Apollos for example, in Acts 18. Apollos needed to get his vision under the vision of the ones before him. Paul didn't.

Today, should we be Apollos, and go up to Jerusalem to get our vision adjusted by the leading ones? Or should we be Paul, and not go up to those who were apostles before us, but rather go to our own versions of "the regions of Syria and Cilicia" (Gal 1:21)? I think if Paul had gone straight up to the Headquarters in Jerusalem, and reported to James or Peter, then his ministry wouldn't have amounted to very much. Since he would have "owed" James & Peter, he wouldn't have been able to stand up to Peter (Gal. 2:12)when some came from James, who were zealous for the law. Paul was connected, but not dependent, not subservient.

We should likewise not be subservient to Paul. Nor to Peter nor James, nor to Witness Lee, nor to Dong Yu Lan, nor to Titus Chu, nor to Benjamin Chen, nor to James Reetzke, nor to Ed Marks, nor to Benson Philips, nor to Ron Kangas, nor to James Lee, nor to anyone. We are their peers. We both give and expect to receive the right hand of fellowship from them and from all christians. But we look to Jesus Christ for our revelation, and not to any of His servants. In this we can be "like Paul". We don't have to read this week's HWMR. Paul didn't read his "daily bread" from James nor Peter nor John; yet he still believed that he, Paul, spoke with the same voice as they did. Paul said, "Am I not free?" (1 Cor. 9:1). We can "imitate" this apostle in also being free.

Peter's testimony is a great confirmation of this. The leading ones are to lead by example, and no more (1 Peter 5:3). If we are wise we will recognize and follow such good examples. But if they are unwise and go beyond their heavenly mandate and attempt to lord it over the ones of the faith, we would be wise not to follow their example.
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