The bible says that there are 12 apostles of the Lamb in Revelation. Does Matthias, the one who replaced Judas a part of "the" 12 apostles? I sometimes get confused between the term "disciple" and "apostle." Is Matthias an apostle? From reading the bible, I understand that Matthias is not included among the 12 apostles of the Lamb. Is this correct? Thanks in advance!
Revelation 21:14: And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
There are only 12 apostles with a capital "A", aka "the twelve apostles of the Lamb". This include the original eleven (excepting Judas who is obviously not among them) and the apostle Paul. The apostles of the Lamb, that is, the twelve APOSTLES, are all chosen by Jesus Christ (Matt.10:1-2; Lk.6:13). Paul was chosen by Jesus (on the road to Damascus: Acts 9:1-19, 22:1-21, 26:12-18), just as our Lord chose the other eleven (along with Judas in order that the prophecies of His betrayal might be fulfilled: Jn.13:18; cf. Jn.6:70). Matthias, by way of contrast, was chosen by the assembled believers before the day of Pentecost, and neither the choice nor the process (casting lots to decide between two human choices!) was legitimate.
There was a steep "learning curve" at the beginning of the Church Age, and while the early believers and apostles did well with it, they were not perfect and sometimes made mistakes as in this instance of Matthias (cf. the unwillingness of Peter and some of the others to associate with gentiles initially even though our Lord had made it abundantly clear that this was their new mission: Matt.28:19; Acts 1:8; compared with Acts 10; Gal.2:11-14). Your point about the terminology is a good one. First, the 12 are called disciples, but it is very clear from the use of the word disciple/mathetes (literally, "learners") in the New Testament that all followers of Jesus are disciples/mathetai or "learners", even though the twelve had a special status. The same thing is true for apostles. The Greek word apostolos means "one sent", and the idea always is that the person has been commissioned for some special purpose. The question is, "who commissioned him?" All of the references to "apostles" in scripture outside of the twelve are references to what are essentially "missionaries", those commissioned by the churches for, generally speaking, evangelistic tasks. But only the true 12 are commissioned by Jesus Christ (just as Christ was commissioned by the Father: Heb.3:1). For more on these subjects please see the following links:
The "apostle" Matthias
Apostles and Evangelism
Matthias and the Numbering of the Twelve Apostles.
The Deaths of the 12 Disciples / Apostles of Christ.
Are there apostles in the Church today?
In our dear Lord Jesus,
Why in Matt 10:6 does Jesus limit the apostles' mission to Israel?
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
Matthew 10:5-6 NIV
Jesus' first advent was an offer of the kingdom to the chosen people of God, Israel (cf. Jn.1:11). It was important for the Messiah to come to Israel first (see the link: "The Uniqueness of Israel"). This is also why at first the Lord will not respond to the Syro-Phoenician woman – but His eventual healing of her son shows that this emphasis on Israel never disadvantaged a single gentile or cost a single person his/her salvation.
What does Jesus mean in Matthew 10:23?
When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Matthew 10:23 NIV
This verse can only be understood by realizing the prophetic parallel between the sending out of the twelve (and of the 72) and the future sending out of the 144,000 witnesses. Both ministries offer the kingdom to those of Jewish origin. The statement is true of both groups but even more significant in regard to the latter group: there will be more than enough work for the 144,000 to do before Jesus' return. As I say on this verse in CT 2B:
"Finally, the statement in Matthew 10:23 that these witnesses (i.e., the 12 and, by prophetic application, the 144,000) "will not finish [evangelizing] the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes" not only confirms that this will be a worldwide ministry ("cities of Israel" meaning for the 144,000 any town with a significant Jewish community) directed at evangelizing the Jewish people, but also makes quite clear that the 144,000 will be busily employed at this task until they are martyred (well before the return of the Messiah as we shall see)."
I have a few questions regarding this article of letters. That you had with a previous mailer.
The Dangers of Messianic Legalism I
I realize that we are no longer under the law, and I find your site very refreshing. To be quite honest I have always wondered how those that call themselves Christians are so incapable of taking Gods word at face value. I was raised in the Pentecostal denomination realm, where women were told not to wear pants, makeup, jewelry and my all time favorite, thou shalt not drink. My whole life I have known what the Bible says, and have always tried my best to share that with others. I have always felt as an outcast. Not worthy to touch the hem of His garment. So vexed my soul has been that I have, through much pain and suffering, sought to end the very breath that Christ, through His magnificence, gave to me before the very foundation of the world. His good grace was spared in me, and only by the grace of His will. Even with such knowledge, and wisdom that greater men, than me, have stated "much knowledge doth make thee mad," (Acts 26:24, Ecc 1:18) which certainly bears witness in the very center of my heart.
I truly, throughout my life, have sought such truth outside of my existence, though I have found all incapable of simple truth. I have wondered why Christ created His word in a way that is obviously so misunderstood. I suppose the matter of semantic arrangement would matter little, and man will always find ways to listen to parents, friends or the world more than that of His Creator. Know that you are not alone. Though I have no true college education, or higher offering of intelligence other than my Lord. I still hold the same Truth as you.
I do inquire of only one small matter. ACT 15 prescribes the gentiles to follow 4 guidelines. And other verses in the new testament, also hint to things we are all prescribed. They are as follows...
The greatest commandment: Love God First and Foremost, Love your neighbor as much as Yourself...or the way I like to say it "God First, Neighbor Second and yourself Last," which all the commandments of God hinge off of...
The Gentile Law:
Love God First
Love Neighbor as yourself
No Blood consumption
No Strangled consumption
Acts 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. (Act 15:20 KJV)
Now other than these things, in which all of the New Testament writers agreed upon. I do hope, with the very clarity of Christ's Spirit, that you expound on them all. For there is no other reason I seek your council than to clarify my interpretation of them.
Secondly, under the works of the Spirit, Paul outlines what we, as Christians, should be like:
For our liberty is not to ourselves (the flesh), but that which has delivered us from evil (God, for the purpose of love)!
Gal 5:13-26: 13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
So, I'm so very curious. How does one get around the simple fact that Paul says one cannot inherit the kingdom of God while practicing those things the flesh desires. It seems very simple, well not so simple, but nevertheless apparent that mankind will get a one way ticket to whatever hell the Lord has prepared for those, which will not inherit His kingdom.
This letter may seem melancholy, but I assure you it is only from someone who as asked questions their whole life and never received a truthful answer from man, or as Psalms says "11 I said in my haste, All men are liars." (Psa 116:11 KJV).
In the greatest sense of it all, I hope to find at least one person that holds such things dear. As God told Elijah that not all have bowed the knee to baal. (Rom 11:4)
I do have so much more that I would really appreciate you answering, but I will no longer bother you this night. May God hold you so very close, and give you all that is needed in you journey of His will.
Good to make your acquaintance. Thank you for your good words and for your interest in this ministry.
As to the "six points" of the so-called Jerusalem conference, they are broken down by various interpreters in various ways, but the last four on your list are all aimed at contemporary pagan practices from which it was important for the Jewish council to have gentile believers refrain (so as not to offend Jewish believers and thereby not make basic fellowship practically impossible). No doubt they contain good advice by any measure. Blood and strangulation are the same in my view (because the latter involves keeping the blood in the animal as opposed to pouring it out), and this is part of the Noahic covenant of course, not just the Law of Moses – blood represents life, so, in ritual term, consuming blood is removing it from its proper place in ritual as representing God's Sacrifice (of course all blood sacrifice is currently unauthorized under our present grace regime).
The idolatry mentioned on your list is very specific in the text of Acts 15, relating to the sacrifice of food to idols, and we know that this was an issue to many in the early Church (i.e., Rom.14), but also that Paul a clarification: refraining was only important if it became an issue to others but not intrinsically so (1Cor.8; cf. Rom.14). Fornication is a sin, but the council was concerned about "sacred prostitution", always a problem in pagan religion. So all of the points beyond love involve Jewish concerns about gentiles continuing to any degree in pagan religion – or, better put, in the extremes of pagan ritual culture, which in all of its aspects would have been difficult to avoid, so steeped in paganism was the ancient Greek and Roman world. That is why the council concentrated on the most blatant offenses: these practices were largely avoidable, and prohibiting them sent a message about where the council felt gentile Christians should draw the line in general terms as well.
Building doctrine on this passage is largely unnecessary since paganism is pretty much dead in the west (at the moment – I do receive emails from time to time from believers in the third world who have questions about similar issues, however). Acts, moreover, is a historical book, not a doctrinal one, so it would be a mistake to read too much into the council's letter and point of view in any case – the words of the book of Acts are inspired, but they record what people actually did without necessarily putting God's stamp of approval on their actions. The right or wrong or gray in between (what we actually have here in my view) of what they actually do or say has to be determined from the context.
As to the fact that "those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom", the two extremes in my view are 1) to except believers from having to be concerned about these sorts of passages at all on the basis of "once saved always saved", reasoning that "we are sanctified by our position in Jesus, so that we are not 'sinners by profession', even should we give ourselves over to such sins" – a position that does obvious violence to the straightforward meaning of the verses, and 2) to make all these sins a litmus test for salvation – which position will also not pass even an initial inspection: for example, apart from the fact that the Galatians 5 passage includes mental and verbal sins (and who among us would be so bold as to assert that we never commit verbal or mental sins?), in verse 21 Paul adds, very critically, "and such like" – a phrase which is meant to cover all other sinning in an elastic way (in fact, the only way it can be excepted from covering all other sin is for the interpreter to exclude whatever sins he or she is in the habit of committing, and that would be gross hypocrisy).
So in fact, as is often the case in such matters, the truth lies in between: if we continue to sin with abandon, we will, over time, harden our hearts and darken our consciences; this will in turn lead to the damaging and, in extreme cases, to destroying our faith. And if our faith dies, we will most assuredly not inherit the kingdom of heaven, because only believers are saved (see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death"). But if we occasionally stumble, we are not necessarily "making such sin our practice"; we will be disciplined for it, and God can spank us in just the right way so as to make us regret our errors to the depth of our beings, but if we confess, repent, and correct our approach, we will certainly not lose our eternal inheritance for it. For as long as our faith lives, we are believers, and all believers are saved.
The purpose of these passages is to be deadly frank with believers about the fact that sin is not a trivial business, and that it can most certainly endanger one's eternal status, not to mention causing all sorts of problems with our relationship with our Lord, our spiritual growth, and our witness in the world. So either to draw the conclusion that these passages are for someone else, or that it's "one mistake and we're lost" both do much violence to God's truth. On the one hand we lose sight of a serious and important warning (for sin unchecked can lead to apostasy by eroding and killing off faith); on the other hand we are forced either into spiritual panic if we are honest about our behavior and about everything these verses say, or, if we are dishonest, into redefining sin and these passages to our own hypocritical benefit (and either way we are shooting ourselves in the foot, spiritually speaking).
I hope the above proves helpful. Please do feel free to write back about any of the above, especially if I have failed to address any of your particular concerns.
Yours in the Lord who died that all our sins might be forgiven, Jesus Christ our dear Savior.
You wrote: 'save only that the blood, a symbol of life in general and the work of Christ in particular, had to be drained off in a specific way'.
Does the blood, as the symbol of Christ's sacrifice, still need to be drained from the food today (steaks, for example)?
In my country, the law requires animals to be slaughtered in such a way that the blood drains out. In antiquity, it was not uncommon to strangle animals so that the blood was not let out. It is the latter that believers should avoid (not too difficult in this country), and, it goes without saying, eating or drinking actual blood. This is for symbolic purposes: the blood is a sign and symbol of Christ's sacrifice for us so that eating or drinking that symbol is to treat His sacrifice as profane, at least symbolically (always spiritually dangerous: cf. Heb.6:6; 10:29). Such behavior sends a terrible message, one which in the past was closely associated with paganism, and that is why this is one of the few elements of the Law which the Jerusalem council required gentiles to respect (Acts 15:29; 21:25). Paul tells us that we are free to eat anything "sold in the market" without needing to ask questions about it (1Cor.10:25-26), but also that if there are such compromising factors such as the meat having been offered to idols, then we should refrain if this fact is pointed out to us by a weak believer whose conscience would be offended if we continued to eat after he told us. To use your example, I wouldn't give eating a rare steak a thought unless a weak believer saw me and really seemed to think that this was a violation of God's Law (1Cor.10:27-28). In matters of this sort, it is important to act in love on the one hand (not offending those with genuine if misplaced concerns), but also not allowing oneself to be bullied into inaction by those who are not so much weak as intent on opposing the truth.
While reading an excerpt from Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, a renewing of unanswered old questions of mine arose. Barnes was discussing the possibility that the Galatians fell prey to the heresy of "justification by works" - specifically circumcision. This, as we know, was a point of contention between Peter and Paul. Do we know if Peter ever recanted or did he comply with the Jews in Jerusalem? If Peter did not recant, would this explain why the apostles, save Paul, focused their Great Commission work to mostly the scattered Jews?
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus,
P.S. Your written work is outstanding
Very good to make your acquaintance. While there is much about the early history of the Church we would like to know but are not privy to, I think the evidence suggests that Peter's lapse at Antioch (Gal.2:11) was a short-lived thing. After all, what would the history of the Church have looked like if Peter had not been given the exceptional vision at Joppa and the exceptional experience with Cornelius and his family? Obviously, Peter needed some extra "push" on this issue, but he defended the grace principle emphatically and decisively before the elders in Jerusalem on two occasions that we know of (Acts chapters 11 and 15). Also, the recipients of his two epistles were gentile believers in the main, not exclusively Jews (as is sometimes mistakenly claimed based upon a misunderstanding of his of the word diaspora in 1st Peter 1:1; see the link: Peter #3). Paul was likely with the Lord by the time these epistles were penned, so here we see Peter actually picking up some of the load of caring for the churches in Asia after Paul's decease, and these were significantly and most likely predominantly gentile in composition.
Even today, legalism is an incredibly difficult challenge for the church visible (see the links below). How much more would that not have been the case with the entire leadership of the early Church coming out of the intensely legalistic and Pharisaical environment of Judea in those days? That Paul was so grace-oriented in complete reversal from his original background is a wonder and a blessing. That Peter was an incredible believer is beyond question. After all, he has one of the gates of the New Jerusalem inscribed with his name. I am inclined to give him some slack on his occasional indiscretions.
Thanks so much for your good words of encouragement!
Here are those links:
The Dangers of Messianic Legalism.
The Dangers of Messianic Legalism II
The Dangers of Messianic Legalism III
Combating Legalism I
Combating Legalism II
Combating Legalism III
Combating Legalism IV
Combating Legalism V
Combating Legalism VI
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Shalom Brother and greetings from Alaska,
Thank you so much for this site and your in depth studies. I am blessed!
I have recently been introduced to you site and am in the process of my first study of your material:
The Heavenly Throne
At your website, in the full study, as I came towards the lower portion of the page in description of the 144,000 Jewish Believing men, who will be sealed by the Holy Spirit for their ministry; several questions come to mind and heart.
Is this perhaps, why there has been such a huge explosion in Messianic Believers? Are the Jewish Believers to be the torch bearers and Gentile Believers to come along side to encourage and affirm, while walking together in the Light of The Way, as The Lord has wooed and appointed each of us, here in the USA? Perhaps we still are "one Nation under God" but for a very different reason than that proposed by mere men, but guided by God, as our national foundation was laid? Perhaps, we are a haven of rest and a preparation field, for such a time as this? Perhaps, this was our very reason for coming into existence, as a nation? Perhaps this is the very reason that many are called and being called into repentance, as an example, the SBC has called a Solemn Assembly and the return to our First Love? Is this why Billy Graham feels the call to preach one more time, this Spring. Perhaps....???
As, I am pondering, expecting to hear and see what the Holy Spirit is saying to me, to us as the Body of Messiah, most of all I am pondering on His Throne and His Lordship.
Blessings & Love In Yeshua,
Good to make your acquaintance. Thank you for your encouraging words and also for this very thoughtful email. I think that you definitely have a point. I too, as you know, see it as a very likely eventuality that this country will become a secondary focus of the ministry of the two witnesses, if for no other reasons than 1) there is a large number of Jewish residents here and 2) the high probability of Babylon, as the beast's original country and power center, being a sort of safe haven during the Tribulation, especially during the time of the ministry of the 144,000 (i.e., the Tribulation's first half).
The one caveat I would wish to place on this line of argument regards the identification of any present day group or individual or movement with what is to come. We cannot know how any such entities will develop or what their posture will be during the pressure-cooker of the Tribulation. If my reading of these matters in scripture is anywhere near correct, much of the church-visible, and that will include many if not most of her organized groups and established individuals, will end up supporting the beast (please see the links: "The rise of false teaching" in CT 3A, and "The Anti-Christian religion of antichrist" in CT 4). He will be an anti-Christ, after all, and the Bible certainly indicates that many will be deceived. A third of genuine believers will fall away during the Great Apostasy (see the link), and it seems inconceivable that this could happen without Christian organizations and personalities leading the way (and by this I am referring to genuine Christian organizations and individuals, not, for example, the Roman Catholic church and clearly non-Christian "spiritual leaders" who may now give lip-service to Christianity).
As it is today, so it will be at the future time of testing: we will only be able to know them "by their fruits", as Jesus told us. That test is important today as well, and I would urge all my brothers and sisters in Christ not to forego this test in the case of any person or any group no matter how beloved, and that includes those in Messianic Christianity. For while anti-Semitism is a terrible sin which incurs special divine judgment (please see the link: Some Jewish Issues), and while Israel is both the root-stock of the family of God and the special, treasured possession of our Lord, the foundation and ultimate organization of His Church (see the link: "The Uniqueness of Israel"), being Jewish and a believer does not automatically confer spiritual maturity any more than in the case of gentiles who accept Christ: when it comes to the truth, God is no respecter of persons. The apostles were all Jews and they also all dedicated their lives to God's truth (and while the former is a blessing it is the latter that made them great; cf. Rom.3:1-2 where Paul states "the advantage" of being Jewish as having been entrusted with God's Word).
I have known and come to respect greatly individuals of Jewish heritage who have become Christians and teachers; however, I have also come across those who are very misguided in their doctrine and teachings in spite of the great privilege of being of the seed of Abraham. I say this because it is a natural reaction for gentile Christians to be impressed by the heritage and also very often by the great skill and learning of those who come to Christianity from Jewish roots and tradition; while that reaction is certainly fine, it would be a terrible mistake to suspend all judgment. After all, I hope we would not immediately buy into the teaching of any and every gentile just because he/she professed to be "a Bible-believing Christian". Many people make the claim to be speaking for Christ; it is our obligation as followers of Christ to "test the spirits to see whether or not they are of God" and that is true even if such individuals have the added cachet of being Jewish, being highly intelligent, and being highly knowledgeable about Judaism, Hebrew, and all things Talmudic.
It is disappointing for me to have to say so, because I share this prejudice of being naturally impressed by all such people, but just as there are great scholars, great leaders, and great teachers among the ranks of the Messianics, there are also false teachers, false prophets, legalists and those who are highly misguided in their doctrine in the ranks of that movement (just as both categories occur in all areas of gentile Christianity). Please see the following links:
The Dangers of Messianic Legalism.
The Dangers of Messianic Legalism II
The Dangers of Messianic Legalism III
It is certainly possible that the majority of the evangelizing pairs chosen by Moses and Elijah during the early days of the Tribulation will come from this present-day movement. It is also possible that very few will do so (or anything in-between). I have no doubt that the Tribulation will bring many surprises. I suspect that many great leaders and seemingly solid churches and movements will capitulate to the beast while others of no present great profile will stand strong for Jesus; and no doubt some will react as expected as well (for better or for worse). The Tribulation will be, in many ways, a "second chance" for the lukewarm era of Laodicea, wherein those who were not much concerned with spiritual growth, progress and progression, will catch fire and show their true mettle under its intense pressure. Let us pray to be of that number who defy the trend of our lukewarm era now in being "red hot" for the Lord and the service of His truth, and who will not cool off or let our love grow cold when the terrible times befall us.
In anticipation of our Lord's glorious return on the far side of that crucible,
Good Morning Brother Luginbill,
Thank you for the information, links and insight. I always look forward to balanced study and reflection, from the Word of God. I really appreciate your faithfulness and tireless work and that we should benefit is a rich blessing.
I understand what you are referring to, regarding misguided doctrines and teachings. Truly, this comes from all sides of the aisle, Jew and Gentile alike, as I have experienced and observed, along my journey of faith. Satan, being a thief and a liar; his desire is the opposite of Jesus' desire, that all should be saved. Through the works of His Holy Spirit in my life, by His mercy; I believe, with all my heart that I am saved by His grace. And some sweet day, when Christ Jesus comes with a shout, in all of His glory, He will say "come up here"! Then, I will meet Him, face to face and forever be with my Abba and King.
When I spent time in a few Messianic fellowships, over the years; I came across legalism and division, yes, as has been in many Gentile and Jewish congregations, throughout our history. I also came in contact with brothers and sisters that love the Lord and desired to serve Him from a Hebraic perspective simply because our Savior is Jewish and the desire to be imitators of our Savior is strong. Let alone, there was an overwhelming love for the Jewish people and/or wanting to return to their roots. God's position on the Jewish people is non refutable; they are non replaceable. He will complete His promises to the Jews and Israel. He will complete His refining of the Body of Christ/Messiah; as He desires a Bride without wrinkle or blemish. Boy, is there plenty of work to do on us before our Groom comes!
A thought that has come to me over the last few years is, what better place for the anti-christ to hide out and incubate, but from within a Jewish Christian model, while it is battling from within. Being a Jew, he would be well received. Claiming to be like Christ; he would be in disguise.
"If possible, to lead the elect astray"; now that could be scary. The Scriptures say that there were those who met Jesus turned and walked with Him no more! It is no different today. Whether they ever were His, hmm?
Glory to God, that the Holy Spirit, is at work in Believers' hearts and minds and He knows who are His. The Father has put all things into the hands of the Son and sealed by the Holy Spirit. John 10:25-30! Greater is He and a promise is the Promise!
Blessings and Love in The One and Only!
Thank you for your wonderful, inspiring email. Your point about the organizational origin of the beast is well-taken and well worthy of serious consideration. We shall all have to keep our eyes open in the years to come.
Your enthusiasm for our Lord and for His truth is a great witness for all. I am very pleased to hear that some of these things have been helpful for you in your walk with Jesus.
Thanks again, and please feel free to write back any time.
Incidentally, I maintain an email notification list to announce major new postings. I would be happy to add your name if you wish.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,