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Epistles - If You Contend They Are Not Inspired What Becomes Your View of Jesus' Glory?

Matthew asked me on May 5, 2013 the following question:

I love the Gospels, particularly John at the moment, as the light of the glory of Christ is becoming more and more dear to me. But also Matthew. I memorized the Sermon on the Mount, because I was becoming and want to become even more overwhelmed with Jesus' righteousness.
 
If you do not believe in the inspiration of the epistles how much does the glory of Christ factor to you personally? Seen as we see absolutely majestic displays of Jesus in the other epistles. Do you not see Him as upholding the universe by the word of His power? Or as being the heir of all things, the exact image of God? Do you not see Him as providing a sacrifice for all time past and future? Do you not see Christ as having taken you into Himself, hidden in Christ? That He has brought you near breaking down the wall and sanctifying you, redeeming you?
 
I could go on & on with these questions, and the preeminence of Jesus displayed in all parts of the New Testament. I would dare say that there has never been anyone who has loved Jesus more than Paul. And I don't think many would argue with that. Seen as he refers to Christ in almost half of his verses.
 
If there was one thing Paul had in mind it was surely the preeminence of Christ over all.
 
What do you think?
Grace & peace,
Matthew

My Reply May 5, 2013

I responded:
 
Matthew
I agree with your closing comment to your email. No one loved Christ more than Paul. This is why it is an important question whether the Christ whom Paul loved was actually Jesus. For Jesus warned of an "imposter" Christ coming "in my name" -- saying "I am Jesus" in the wilderness which is not seen universally (Matt 24:4-5, 26-27.) Jesus said the proof it was not Himself is that it happens in the wilderness and is not universally seen. Sadly, the evidence is very strong that Paul's wilderness vision of a bright light saying "I am Jesus" when Paul's two companions saw no one (Acts 9:7) fits Jesus' warning of a coming imposter. See Jesus' Prophecy About Who Identified Himself to Paul as Jesus in the Wilderness.
 
Turning now to your questions, you appear concerned that if the epistles are merely edifying, you lose their value. In particular, you express concern you might lose a sense of the glorification about Jesus from several familiar passages to which you allude.
 
First, not permitting an improper level of authority for the epistles of Paul, Peter, James or John does not deprive me of still revering and worshipping Jesus as the king. Yahweh appointed Jesus as King over us. Matthew's Gospel records Yahweh said twice from heaven "listen to him." (Once at the baptism and once again at the transfiguration.) See the verses that support exalting Jesus and giving Him Glory in my Author Page under "Author's Beliefs."
 
You cite examples of things that you cherish as elevating Jesus that you are concerned you might lose if you accepted the epistles are merely edifying. You ask about these as questions to me:
 
1. Do I accept Jesus' sacrifice was the final one necessary? This is from the Epistle to the Hebrews.
 
Answer. Yes. I most certainly agree with this. The Epistle to the Hebrews  - which today scholars say there is no one recognized as its author - makes a very good case that Jesus' sacrifice was the last one necessary. I concur. (FYI - Barnabas was the author, so said the earliest church.)
 
But because I see Hebrews as edifying, I don't have to accept several other claims of the Epistle to the Hebrews which are clearly false. In Hebrews ch. 9, the author says the God of Sinai (the testator) remains dead after Jesus' resurrection, and if the God of the Sinai (the testator) could come back to life, it would destroy the New Testament. You will find I discuss this flaw in Hebrews 9:1-16, especially v. 16, as comparable to the same claim in Romans 7:1-7 by Paul. See Romans 7: Paul Claims the God of Sinai Is Dead.
 
So just because I accept a point as valid from Hebrews does not mean all points in Hebrews are true. That is known as the Fallacy of Generalization. Just because one fact is true in a book does not mean that generally all facts in a book are true. It requires study and examination to know if that is the case.
 
2. Do I see Jesus as upholding the world by His Power? (This is in Hebrews 1:4.)
 
Answer: As the Father was in Jesus, as Jesus said in John 14:10, I agree in that sense. In John 14:10, Jesus says the Father dwells in Jesus. Thus, Heb 1:4 is true in only one sense -- that not Jesus directly, but the Father directly through Jesus, upholds the universe.  
 
But I would not word it this way as expressed in Heb 1:4 -- 'upholding the world by His Power.' It is too ambiguous. It perhaps could lead one to read the ambiguity so as to denigrate the Father's importance, and then make Jesus apart from the Father have an importance that would be wrongly attributing something to Jesus that belongs exclusively to the Father. See my article An Exaltation that Goes Too Far. 
 
This exaltation of Jesus as Creator derives from the Hebrews' author reliance on the erroneous Septuagint translation of 247 BC of Psalm 102:23-25 which in Hebrew says God alone is the Creator. In the mistranslation, God talks to another "Lord" who was the "Creator." The author of Hebrews relies upon this error to say Jesus was that "Lord" Creator. For a thorough discussion of this, see my article "Son as Creator in the Epistle to the Hebrews."
 
Hence, to avoid an idolatrous view of Jesus which the ambiguity in Hebrews 1:4 permits, it is good to know Hebrews has no inspired authority, and not even an apostolic one. Yet, as I discuss near the end of that article, there is a "True Exalted Status of Jesus" that we must recognize. Going too far is going too far. Having an accurate non-idolatrous view of Jesus is crucial.
 
3. Do I see Christ as taking me into himself? redeeming me? 
Answer: Yes. Good arguments in Hebrews. Edifying reasonable material. No contradiction with inspired scripture.
 
4. Do I see Jesus as the "exact image" of God? Hebrews 1:3. 
 
Answer: First, that is a mistranslation of Heb. 1:3 -- correctly it should read "exact expression." See Greek tab at Hebrews 1:3
 
Correctly rendered, I see no problem. I see Jesus filled with the Father, and everything He did and said was exactly reflecting the actions and words of the Father, as Jesus says in John's Gospel. 

 
Having answered your questions, I want to mention why we cannot accept something as inspired merely because we like its sentiments, or because it helps elevate Jesus' importance. This issue is particularly acute with Paul. For Paul has many edifying passages even while exalting the Christ (the one whom Paul knew), yet Paul clearly has numerous words that appear blasphemous. Even though I defend Paul did not generally mean to blaspheme (insult) God, Paul's words clearly do so. See Blasphemy & Paul. One cannot only look therefore at verses one likes or which exalt Jesus, and ignore the ones God could not conceivably countenance. It is too high a price to take the good loving words and not recognize the terrible implication of other words.
 
This is all a test of us. God says He allows false prophets -- which can include someone  we falsely make a prophet or one who honestly thought he was a prophet but who is unwittingly false  - as a test whether we love God with our whole heart, mind and soul. Deut 13:1-5 says this.
 
So I believe we must not be seduced by fine sounding words in Paul or any epistle -- which are totally true and acceptable -- into the wrong notion to treat every word of such letters as inspired even though they never quote Jesus.
 
If you disagree, I welcome hearing what you think.  
 
Blessings, Shalom
Doug