The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary for this week are more in line with what has become usual; for the following will most likely be familiar observations. The concept behind this Sabbath’s selection is dual referent theology continued.
For the Sabbath of October 24, 2015
The person conducting the Sabbath service should open services with two or three Hymns, or psalms, followed by an opening prayer acknowledging that two or three (or more) are gathered together in Christ Jesus’ name, and inviting the Lord to be with them.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thess 2:1–4)
Jesus’ first disciples expected Jesus to return “soon”; to return in their lifetime. It is unlikely they would have written anything about Jesus for as long as they expected Him to soon return; for they were eyewitnesses who had specific knowledge about Jesus and they could testify about what they saw Jesus do and what they heard Jesus say. But as the decades dragged by; as Zealots turned their hatred of Gentiles, notably Romans, into first guerilla war, then open warfare, it became obvious that Jesus wouldn’t soon return. However, before Zealots made formal war against Rome, saints at Thessalonica, believing what Paul wrote about being caught up to the Lord, concluded that Christ had to quickly return (return while Paul still lived – 1 Thess 4:15, 17) and apparently like Millerites in 1843 and 1844, had ceased working and then awaited Christ’s return.
There is a difference in writing styles between 1st Thessalonians and 2nd Thessalonisns, with much of this difference accounted-for by the difference in Paul, himself, between when he truly expected Christ to return any day and when he knew that Jesus would not soon return … writing the Gospels really could not occur for as long as the first disciples believed Jesus would soon return. Only when they knew that considerable time would pass before Jesus would return would a second generation of disciples [except for John] inscribe what they believed was true, with (according to Bishop Papias) John Mark untangling Peter’s teachings that were in a form of chreiai—according to Papias, citing John the Elder, Peter did not intend to give a chronological account of Jesus’ ministry, or an “an ordered arrangement of the logia of the Lord.” Why? What reason could exist for Peter to teach by saying, And Jesus said … . And Jesus did … . And Jesus said … ? The most logical reason would be that Peter placed importance on Jesus’ teachings, not on the phenomena involving Jesus [on the things that happened to Jesus, where He went, when He went, and who said what to Him]. And if Peter did not value the phenomena involving Jesus, he would never have written a biography of Jesus in the form of a Gospel. He would only have written teaching text to those being taught, what his two epistles are, according to the author of John’s Gospel: feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep.
The Apostle Paul was at least partially responsible for the anticipation with which the saints at Thessalonica awaited the Second Advent; thus, he had to correct the unintentional damage he had done. And in a second epistle to the Thessalonians—again, because of stylistic difference, scholarly doubt exists as to whether Paul really wrote this second epistle—Paul seeks to set forth his understanding of prophetic events concerning the coming of Christ Jesus, not something that would have been of particular importance to him for as long as he believed Jesus would soon return.
According to Paul, the decisive event that precedes the Second Advent is the Apostasy [the rebellion, or the great falling away] followed by the man of perdition declaring himself God in the temple … Herod’s temple probably existed throughout Paul’s life, with Paul’s death occurring before the razing of this physical temple. But Paul identified disciples as the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16–17; 2 Cor 6:16); so Paul, in using the word <’o naos> [the sanctuary], will know that Herod’s temple still exists, with its sanctuary. Thus, Paul consciously assigns a new referent to ’o naos: the assembly of saints at Corinth, with every person in the assembly individually and collectively being both the Body of Christ (2 Cor 12:27) and the temple of God.
In Paul adding a referent [linguistic “signified”] to the word <’o naos> while he knew that Herod’s temple with its sanctuary still stood, Paul produced dual referents for the word, one referent physical [Herod’s temple] and the other referent spiritual [the assemblies of the Lord], with Herod’s temple actually being the “second” second temple, the first second temple having been constructed by Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah.
It is easy to overlook—to not assign significance—to the production of a <“second” second> of a physical thing or phenomenon. King David understood in his construction of Hebraic thought-couplets that a third element exists, an element that Bruce Curtis calls the ontological outcome in his analysis of Psalm 1. This ontological outcome is an “establishment in place” that gives permanency to the spiritual, something seen in visions having to be twice given before the content of the vision is established by God; for a vision by its nature is not physical. So John’s vision [the Book of Revelation] contains a first and a second separation from from 1st-Century Israel, the first separation is that John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos and thereby physically separated from other Christians. The second separation is the vision itself that is set on the Lord’s day, with the signifying expression <the Lord’s day> not referencing a day of the week, but the spiritual day when the single kingdom of this world is taken from the Adversary and given to the Son of Man. The vision is then sealed through use of two literary tropes, the first being that contents of the vision do not occur until the slain Lamb, the glorified Christ, removes the seals from the scroll that is written within and without, with the “without” side partially readable before the seals are removed.
The second sealing trope is that how things “appear” in the vision is how things function in the plan of God, not how these things literally appear. Thus, the glorified Christ is described as follows in chapter one:
I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. The hairs of His head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Rev 1:12–16)
But in chapter five, this same glorified Christ is described as follows:
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Rev 5:6)
Without the identifying tag added to the seven eyes, it would be difficult to link these seven eyes to the seven spirits seen as seven stars in chapter one, and identified as seven angels to the seven churches in chapters two and three. But because—as in the case of every good literary work—the author “teaches” readers how to “read” the text in its beginning, readers of Revelation should realize that nothing in the text is how it seems. For the glorified Christ tells John in vision,
Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Rev 1:19–20 emphasis added)
John doesn’t write two accounts of his vision; of what he has seen. He writes one account, with this one account being of those things that are when what he sees in vision are “soon” to occur [that is, the unsealing of the Scroll], and of those things that are to take place after this. But the one account he writes was received by other human persons in the 1st-Century CE, not in the 21st-Century when those things he sees will occur. Therefore, those things that are need a physical shadow that occurs in the 1st-Century, with those things that are forming the spiritual reality … the Church at Philadelphia will now be a spiritual reality that casts a physical shadow into the 1st-Century. Thus, the endtime Church at Philadelphia is a second Church of Philadelphia. There will now be a “second” second Church of Philadelphia at the end of the Thousand Years – those things that are to take place after this, the ontological establishment.
Returning now to Paul and his second epistle to the Thessalonians: does an earthly temple need to exist for the lawless one to take his seat in the temple and declare himself god? No. For again, Paul reminded the holy ones at Corinth that they were the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16–15), and disciples do not appear as a stone and timber edifice. But disciples are not their outer selves. Assemblies of disciples are assemblies of living inner selves, each born of spirit and having the indwelling mind of Christ. Therefore, there is an inherent permanency—an establishment in place—of assemblies even when the fleshly bodies of these disciples pass away (return to dust).
The souls that sleep under the altar that John saw in vision (Rev 6:9) are the living inner selves of 1st-Century assemblies against which the gates of Hades could not prevail. And as the fleshly bodies of these living inner selves were killed in various ways, the fleshly bodies of endtime saints will also be martyred, the work that the lawless one will do for the Adversary in the Affliction, and by extension, work that the Lord permits as He watches to see if the Christian who didn’t previously walk in faith will do so when filled with spirit.
If the temple of God isn’t a building such as King Solomon dedicated in Jerusalem, but is an assembly of living stones—“As you come to Him [Christ], a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5 emphasis added)—then the temple is wherever a holy one or an assembly of holy ones stands before God.
The following becomes tricky: for as long as the Body of Christ spiritually lived, the temple of God stood … in all things spiritual, the physical reveals and precedes the spiritual (cf. 1 Cor 15:46; Rom 1:20); thus as previously stated, there was a first temple constructed by Solomon and there was a second temple constructed by Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah. And then there was the “second” second temple about which Paul wrote, with the “second” second temple being of spiritual construction, its cornerstone being Christ Jesus, with its foundation laid by the Apostle Paul (1 Cor 3:10–11).
What Paul declares is more massive than simply that he is the master builder who laid the foundation for the temple, this foundation being Christ Jesus. Implied in what Paul wrote is that he laid before the world <Christ>, that there is no “Christ” other than the one he presents/presented … there are Christians who believe that Paul hijacked the Jesus Movement, taking it away from “Christians” who would have converts physically circumcising foreskins, thereby becoming physical Jews before they can imitate Jesus, with this Circumcision Faction actually having Scripture on their side; for in describing the covenant the Lord made with the fathers of Israel on the day when He took them by the hand to lead them out from Egypt, Moses wrote,
And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you." All the people of Israel did just as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts. (Ex 12:43–51 emphasis added)
And the prophet Ezekiel spoke the words of the Lord:
And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations. … Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. (Ezek 44:6–7, 9 emphasis added)
So Paul’s ongoing battle with the Circumcision Faction was also a battle against Scripture itself as commonly understood within the sects of Judaism, with the Jesus Movement in the 1st-Century being a sect of Judaism.
If Scripture is the infallible word of God, then all that Paul taught must be scrapped; all that Jesus taught that seems contrary to Moses is false as rabbinical Judaism claims. But if Scripture is an open canon—and it is—not closed by Joshua, nor by the Great Assembly, nor by the recording of John’s vision, then the sealed and kept secret visions of Daniel can be unsealed in the generic time of the end, which Paul thought was upon Christians in the 1st-Century;
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. … Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Cor 10:1–6, 11 emphasis and double emphasis added)
When coupled with what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about being alive when Christ returned, it becomes evident that for all of the knowledge Paul possessed and recorded in his epistles, he didn’t have a good understanding of when the Second Advent would occur … revelation moved past Paul, leaving him not understanding why his mind couldn’t control his body, which remained consigned to disobedience and death thus doing those things he hated.
Paul, from having visited the third heaven, would have known more than he could say … how much more is difficult to determine, but not entirely impossible for in Paul’s epistles a faint shadow of all he knew will be present.
The generic time of the end doesn’t begin with the Tribulation, but with the spiritual king of Persia pushing against the spiritual king of Greece—both of these kings being demonic <sars>, princes.
This generic time of the end isn’t two millennia long; for if it were, the linguistic signifiers “the end” would be meaningless. Therefore, the phrase <the time of the end> will represent a short period at the end of this age, a period of less than forty years and perhaps of less than nineteen years [a lunar cycle]. … It has been my contention that the generic time of the end began at the Second Passover (May 8th) 2001. And if my contention is correct, Daniel’s visions were sealed and kept secret and not understandable by anyone until the 21st-Century. So it isn’t to earlier Christian scholars and teachers, prophecy pundits and writings of pastors where endtime disciples need to go to understand the visions of Daniel, or why Paul writes what he does about the lawless one, a human man to be possessed by the Adversary on day 220 of the Affliction, the first 1260 days of the seven endtime years. It is to the one who holds the key of David, Christ Jesus.
Paul begins what he has to say about the Apostasy by instructing the holy ones at Thessalonica not to be “quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come” (2 Thess 2:2 emphasis added) … there is an implied element disclosing considerable passage of time before the Apostasy will occur, that during this time element there will a Zeitgeist that would have Christ Jesus already returning [realized eschatology, the endtime teaching of the Roman Church and her daughters], that there would be false letters seemingly written by Paul himself. And I haven’t gone beyond what is visibly evident in this epistle.
Jesus didn’t return in the 1st-Century, nor in the 20th-Century. His expected return would seem to have been delayed, but not so. There has been no unintended delay, only misreading of the message Jesus left with His disciples.
As there was a first Adam, there was a second Adam (Rom 5:14; 1 Cor 15:45). As there was a first Israel that left Egypt, there was a second Israel, the children of Israel that entered into the Promised Land—and as there was a second Israel, according to Paul there was a “second” second Israel (Rom 2:25–29). Likewise, according to Paul, as there was a first Abraham, there is a second Abraham, the glorified Christ Jesus (Gal 3:29). As there was a first Isaac, there is a second Isaac (Gal 4:28). As there was a first polis of Jerusalem, there is a second Jerusalem, the heavenly city that is the mother of the saints (Gal 4:26).
The Apostle Paul introduced a dual referent theology that would have the God of Abraham that created all things physical forming one referent, the first referent, for <God>, and God the Father forming the second or spiritual referent for <God>; for in Paul’s dual referent theology, the first referent is physical and the second, spiritual, with this dual referent theology fitting into the pattern of Hebraic poetry being presented in thought-couplets, the parallelism characteristic of Hebrew versification.
Again, the key of David refers to King David’s use of the poetic structure he inherited, with (in overview) there being a first administration of David’s reign over physical Israel to be followed by a second and heavenly administration of David’s reign over spiritual Israel after David is glorified following Christ Jesus’ return … for those who hold that the key of David is ideologically linked to authority to rule, a position advanced by The Philadelphia Church a dozen years ago and still a valid position for sons of God not yet spiritually mature enough to comprehend dual referents [a human child doesn’t comprehend dual referents until about thirty months of age, with most all human children understanding dual referents by thirty-six months], the immaturity of these sons of God is understandable and actually explainable; for human maturation of the individual forms the shadow and copy of the spiritual maturation of the individual as a son of God. Hence, the human person who matured early will, when drawn from this world by the Father, also spiritually mature early although spiritual maturity is not time-linked so spiritual maturity doesn’t come via time spent in the faith but by activated belief—faith [pisteos]—that produces growth in grace and knowledge. As a human child is humanly born with the mind of man but cannot, because of infancy, understand the things of a man [say, the ways of a man with a woman], a human son of God is spiritually born with the mind of Christ, but because of spiritual infancy, this son of God cannot understand the things of God even though this son of God has the indwelling mind of Christ.
In actuality it doesn’t matter whether where was a “real” first Adam for the narrative (Gen chaps 2–5) exists and by extension, the “concept” of a first Adam mentally exists, with this narrative serving prophetic purposes concerning Christ Jesus and the creation of the Church, followed by the Adversary deceiving the early Church and introducing the death of the Body of Christ; for as the earthly body of Jesus died at Calvary, the spiritual Body of Christ “died” [from want of the spirit, the divine breath of God] approximately seventy years after Calvary. For unless the Father chooses to draw a person from this world (John 6:44), no person can come to Christ. Thus, by simply not drawing individuals from this world after the earthly temple was razed (ca 70 CE), the spiritual temple would also have been razed when those individuals previously drawn died physically from natural or unnatural causes. And what appears evident from an examination of 1st-Century Christian doctrines and practices, the Father quit drawing disciples from this world by 71 CE, forty years after Calvary. The Body of Christ then died with the death of John (ca 100–102 CE), whom Justin Martyr claimed was his contemporary.
But again, the Body of Christ didn’t die for the souls of those who individually and collectively formed the 1st-Century Body of Christ sleep under the altar. So the signifier <died> needs tweaking: the Body of Christ ceased to have any visible appearance in this world when John physically died at the beginning of the 2nd-Century CE. Thus, for historical purposes, it can be said that the Body of Christ died when John died, but said with the understanding that the gates of Hades have not prevailed against the Body of Christ. Hence, as there was a first body of Jesus, there was a second Body of Christ Jesus (1 Cor 12:27), and as Paul introduces a “second” second Israel, there will be a “second” second Body of Christ, with this visibly resurrected “second” second Body of Christ coming about following the Second Passover liberation of the second Israel, this liberation not from physical slavery to a physical king [Pharaoh] in a physical land [Egypt] but from indwelling Sin and Death [slavery to disobedience as sons of disobedience] about which Paul wrote when he said he didn’t understand his own actions (Rom 7:7–23).
Concerning John’s vision which is presented in two perspectives, the first covering chapters one through three and the second covering chapters four through twenty-two: John acknowledges that he was in spirit when he sees the glorified Christ Jesus and receives instruction to, “‘Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this’” (Rev 1:19 emphasis added) … John is to write two messages, one about those things that are and one about those things that are to take place after this. But when do those things that are exist? They exist when the vision is soon to occur, and those things that were to soon occur have not yet occurred; for we are not yet in the day of the Lord, a declarative claim I have supported elsewhere and will support in future writings.
It doesn’t matter whether John, then on the Isle of Patmos, actually delivered letters [epistles] to the seven named churches for the signifiers “soon” and being “in spirit on the day of the Lord” projects John in vision forward from his time in the 1st-Century to the 21st-Century or to some future time if humankind did not enter the period Daniel identifies as the time of the end when the seals came off his visions. If an epistle from John was received by, say, the assembly physically located at Philadelphia, that epistle would form only one referent for a dual referent message, with the spiritual referent being the spiritual assembly [the assembly of inner selves] that exists in the 21st-Century. So it doesn’t matter how that fellowship in ancient Philadelphia received an epistle from John. That fellowship would have historically perished before John died physically. Physical remnants of that fellowship might have continued to exist into the 2nd-Century, but with the visible death of the Body of Christ seventy years after Calvary, the fellowship is of no earthly consequence.
What Matthew’s Jesus said about the gates of Hades not prevailing against the assembly built on the movement of “breath” from the front of the face as exemplified by exhalation in uttering <Petros> to inhaled breath in the mouth as exemplified by <petra> and as exemplified by where aspiration occurs in the name <John>, the name of Peter’s natural father, this aspiration occurring in front of the nasal consonant, and where aspiration occurs in the name <Jonah>, the father Jesus assigned to Peter in this passage, with aspiration occurring in the name Jonah behind the nasal consonant—what Jesus said about the gates of Hades not prevailing against His assembly is not a declaration that the Body of Christ would not die, but that Hades would not prevail against the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ will not visibly “stay dead” but will visibly live again as physical people filled with the spirit of God following the Second Passover. The Body of Christ lives as souls in heaven sleeping under the altar.
This Reading has grown excessively long and here needs to be broken in half, with the concluding portion to appearing as the Reading for next Sabbath.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."