Truths About the Incarnation: Part 3

What are the reasons or purposes for the Incarnation?[1] There are twelve specific reasons why the Incarnation occurred.

First, the Incarnation was conditioned by human sin. Luke 19:10 states:

For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

A more extended passage that states this as a reason for the Incarnation is John 3:13‑21. The purpose of the Incarnation was to save sinners. In order to pay the penalty for sin, Yeshua had to be made “like unto” or “in the likeness of” sinful flesh. He was not made sinful, but in outward appearance, He looked like any other man. It was necessary for Him to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, because He came for the purpose of dying for sinners. The Incarnation was conditioned by human sin in that human sin necessitated the Incarnation. As Hebrews 2:14 states, it was necessary for Him to become a sharer in flesh and blood in order to deal with the issue of sin.

Secondly, the Incarnation was to reveal God to man concerning the truths of the Father (Mat. 11:27; Jn. 1:18; 14:9). He came for the purpose of revealing the Father, according to John 1:18:

No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

He came to reveal the Father; therefore, in His sermons and discourses, He revealed the nature of the Father. In John 14:8‑9, when one of His own disciples eventually asked Jesus: Show us the Father, He answered: If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. Everything that is true of the nature of the Father is true of the Son.

Thirdly, the Incarnation was to provide believers with an example for living (I Pet. 2:21; I Jn. 2:6). In His humanity, Yeshua lived a lifestyle that the believer should imitate. This includes not only during the good times, but also in bad times. Not only is His strength to be their example, but also His sufferings are to be their example. He underwent a suffering in a meek manner and, they too, should undergo their suffering in the same way. He became a man to provide an example for living.

Fourthly, the Incarnation was to provide a sacrifice for sin (Heb. 2:9; 10:1‑10; I Jn. 3:5). He came as the Incarnate Man to provide a sacrifice for sin. While animal sacrifices were allowed temporarily, all they could ever do was cover the sins of the Old Testament saints; they could never take away the sins of the Old Testament saints. The removal of sin required better blood than animal blood. The better blood was human blood, but it had to be sinless human blood. This ruled out every human being that had existed since the fall of Adam with one exception, and that was the God‑Man, Yeshua. As a result of the Incarnation, He became a man. Being in the form of a man, He had human blood and, therefore, better blood than animal blood. Jesus had sinless human blood; for that reason, He was able to become the sacrifice for sin.

Fifth, the Incarnation was to destroy the works of the Devil; to render his works inoperative (Jn. 12:31;16:11; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; I Jn. 3:8). Of these five passages, perhaps the clearest statement of this fact is Hebrews 2:14:

Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; . . .

Sixth, the Incarnation was to enable Yeshua to be a merciful High Priest. This is especially stressed in the Book of Hebrews (Heb. 2:17‑18; 5:1‑2; 8:1; 9:11‑12, 14). Hebrews 2:17‑18 follows the statement on the Incarnation in verse 14, and then states that it made Him a merciful and faithful high priest. The Hebrews 5 passage emphasizes that for one to be a genuine priest, he had to be human. Thus, if Jesus had not become a real man, He could not have been a high priest. By becoming a man, by becoming Incarnate, He could become, and continues to be, the High Priest of believers. This also enables Him to offer sacrifices, as only priests could do. He was able to offer a better sacrifice¾His own blood¾not animal blood.

Seventh, the Incarnation was to fulfill the Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant promised that a Descendent of David would sit upon David’s throne forever. It was necessary for Yeshua to become a real man through the Virgin Mary, because she was a member of the House of David, therefore, Jesus was a member of the House of David. Because He is both God and man, He now lives forever, and He will rule upon David’s throne forever (Lk. 1:31‑33, 68‑70).

Eighth, the Incarnation was to confirm the promises of God (Rom. 15:8‑9) that were predicted in the Old Testament. In order for these prophecies to be fulfilled, the Incarnation was necessary.

Ninth, the Incarnation provided for Yeshua the Messiah to become highly exalted (Phil. 2:9‑11). The exaltation could come only by means of suffering. God, as God only, is incapable of suffering. But when God the Son became a man, He then became capable of suffering. He certainly did suffer; He suffered humiliation and much more. As a result, He became highly exalted. This, too, was the purpose of the Incarnation.

Tenth, the Incarnation was to restore dominion over the earth to man (Heb. 2:5‑9). It was to man that God gave dominion over the earth. But man lost it when Satan caused him to fall; Satan usurped the authority over the earth which had been given to man (Jn. 12:31;14:30;16:11; II Cor. 4:4; I Jn. 5:19). The Messiah defeated Satan; now, as a man, He must restore man’s dominion over the earth, which He will do in the Kingdom.

Eleventh, the Incarnation was to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10‑11). This, too, required the Incarnation.

And twelfth, the Incarnation was to deliver believers from the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). This, too, was accomplished through the Incarnation.



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Truths About the Incarnation: Part 2

In light of our last post, we may ask: “What is the means of the Incarnation?” “How did God become a man?” The means of the Incarnation involved three things.[1]

First, the Incarnation involved the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:35). When Mary asked how conception was possible because she was a virgin, the angel answered that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and bring about a miraculous conception. The Generator of the Incarnation was the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. The Spirit worked to beget or conceive the humanity of the Messiah. He was always God, so deity did not need to be generated; only His humanity needed to be generated. Deity partook of Mary’s humanity but, at the same time, precluded Mary’s sin‑nature. By means of the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit with the power of the Most High, the Holy Spirit generated the humanity of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. The Holy Spirit generated the conception. The product, according to Luke 1:35, was to be two things: first, holy; and, secondly, the Son of God, the God‑Man.

Secondly, the Incarnation involved the Virgin Mary. Her virginity was affirmed by two of the four Gospels (Mat. 1:18, 22‑23; Lk. 1:27, 34). The conception was supernatural. Because Mary was a virgin, it was necessary that there be a supernatural conception. People often speak of the miracle of the Virgin Birth, but, technically, it was not the actual birth that was the miracle; Yeshua was born just like any other baby. It was not the birth that was miraculous, but the conception. The female egg was that of Mary, so Jesus was the real son of Mary, but there was a total absence of the male sperm. Therefore, Yeshua did not have a natural father, and that is why the conception required the generating power of the Holy Spirit. On one hand, the Holy Spirit was the means, but on the other hand, the Virgin Mary was a means as well.

Thirdly, the Incarnation involved the Virgin Birth that produced the Incarnate Man. This was predicted in Genesis 3:15and Isaiah 7:14and finally came into fulfillment in Matthew 1:16.



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Eternal Security: Problem Passages, part 2

Another area of passages some people use to show that one can lose salvation are those that actually speak of false teachers who were never saved to begin with.[1]

Some people use Matthew 7:15 to show that a person can lose his salvation if that person disguises himself in sheep’s clothing. But Yeshua was not dealing with people who were believers who became false teachers; rather, he was dealing with people who were never saved to begin with. They never were “sheep,” but were always “wolves” pretending to be sheep.

Acts 20:29‑30 is also a message dealing with false teachers, either false teachers who may enter in from outside or false teachers who may arise from the inside. However, in neither case were these people saved to begin with. Both are distinguished from the disciples, who are believers.

Romans 16:17‑18 speaks of false teachers who corrupt the church, but it does not say that these false teachers are people who were saved and then lost their salvation.

2 Corinthians 11:13‑15 is a passage that speaks of false teachers and not people who lost their salvation. Verse 13 states that these are false apostles, and in verse 15, they are called Satan’s ministers, not the Messiah’s ministers. Furthermore, it never states that they were apostles of Christ, only that they fashioned themselves to sound like and seem like apostles of Christ. Verse 15 does not state that they “used to be ministers of righteousness,” but that they tried to fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness.

1 Timothy 4:1‑2 deals with the issue of false teachers who were not saved to begin with. This is the area of apostasy. The basic meaning of apostasy is “to fall away from the faith that one professed to have, but never really had.” It has to do with people who made a show of faith, claiming to be believers but then, little by little, gave in to seducing, demonic spirits and teaching of false doctrines.

2 Peter 2:1‑22, particularly verses 19‑22, deals with people who are false teachers and who were never saved to begin with. Verse 1 clearly talks of false teachers coming into the body with destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them. Furthermore, Peter said that these were bondservants of corruption (v. 19); they were never the Messiah’s bondservants, who later lost their salvation. These are people who knew the way of righteousness (v. 21); they had a clear knowledge of the truth and were not ignorant of the gospel. But, having rejected the gospel, they then went on a teaching campaign to deny the truths concerning Jesus the Messiah.

1 John 2:19 actually speaks of people who were part of the local body as far as membership was concerned, but were themselves never really saved. Because, as John points out, if they were really saved, they would have continued with us. He did not say, “They used to really be one of us, but lost their salvation and then went out from us.”

Jude 3‑19 speaks of the same group of people: people who knew what the truth was, knew the content of the gospel, but rejected it and then began actively teaching against the doctrine of the Messiah.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Eternal Security: Problem Passages, part 1

There are many so-called “problem” passages on the issue of eternal security that various groups use certain to try to prove that it is possible to lose one’s salvation. We shall deal with these briefly below in multiple parts.[1]

Some passages of Scripture have been “dispensationally misapplied.” Take for example these two passages in Ezekiel. People often use this passage to show that it is possible to lose salvation. However, these passages are not dealing with the individual’s salvation in the Age of Grace, but are dealing with Israel as a nation at some other period of time.

These passages are not actually speaking of the spiritual salvation of individuals. Rather, they concern Israel as a nation under the Mosaic Law, individual accountability, physical life and physical death.

Another passage that has been dispensationally misapplied is Matthew 18:21‑35, in which Yeshua dealt with the issue of forgiving the brother and told the story about the unforgiving steward. He then made the point that if a believer does not forgive others, then he should not expect to be forgiven himself (v. 35). However, in this context the issue is not salvation forgiveness; instead, it is family forgiveness. Salvation forgiveness is the means by which one enters into God’s family, and the only way of receiving salvation forgiveness is by grace through faith apart from works. But once one is in the family, sin in the believer’s life; such as, holding a grudge against a brother, can cause a breakup in the relationship within the family of God. And it can break one’s fellowship with God the Father. The way a believer receives family forgiveness of sins is by means of confession (I Jn. 1:9). The point of this Matthew account is that confessing sins is not going to gain family forgiveness if the confessor is not willing to forgive people who have wronged him or offended him.


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Eternal Security: Part 5

Here are eleven additional points to consider regarding eternal security:[1]

1)  When Yeshua died for the sins of the world, He died for all of the sins of the world, not only until the next sin was committed. The very fact that the work of Jesus was finished -the fact that He does not need to come and die again – shows that those who have received the benefits of His work cannot lose it. Those who have received salvation cannot, therefore, lose it, because it would require the Messiah to do His work all over again (Heb. 10:12‑18).

2) In I Peter 1:4‑5 we see that believers have been kept through faith, and are kept unto the final consummation. God is doing the keeping. Indeed, if the retaining of salvation were dependent upon the believer, everyone would lose it.

3) Every believer is a new creature or creation (II Cor. 5:17). This fact means that one cannot suddenly now eternally cease to exist.

4) Just as no one can obtain salvation by works, but only through faith, even so, no one is going to keep his salvation by works. Read Ephesians 2:8‑9.

5) According to John 6:37‑40, the believer is a gift given by God the Father to the Son because of the Son’s obedience.

6) In I John 3:9, we read that the seed abides. The seed is the gospel seed that produces eternal life. This eternal life continually abides; it does not at some point become inoperative.

7) Salvation is a free gift (Rom. 11:29). A free gift is not truly free if it can be demanded back. When God gives a gift, it is a free gift of grace; it is not something that He will take back from the one to whom He has given it.

8) Salvation is also a birth, a new birth (Jn. 1:12; 3:3; Jas. 1:18; I Pet. 1:3, 23). The fact that salvation is a birth makes it final and unchangeable. Just as a child’s physical birth is final and unchangeable, so that it cannot be put back into the womb to start all over again, even so, believers are born again.

9) A believer is not able to keep himself saved any more than he was able to save himself in the first place (Gal. 3:3). Just as God saves, God is the One who is going to keep.

10) God has paid the highest price for believers: the blood of His Son. That is too high a price to give them up now.

11) Gross sins are punished, but never at the loss of salvation (e.g. I Cor 5:1‑5; 11:29‑32).



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Eternal Security: Part 4

Another argument for eternal security is based upon the meaning of the word “eternal.”[1] The very meaning of the word “eternal” rules out the possibility of the loss of salvation, because if “eternal” means anything, it means “forever.” If someone could lose his salvation, then it is not eternal, but temporary instead. Involved in our salvation are ten eternal things:

First, there is an eternal plan that God has for our lives (Eph. 3:10‑11).

Second, based upon what the Messiah has done, we now have eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9).

Third, we have eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).

Fourth, believers have an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15).

Fifth, those who have this eternal redemption, inheritance and salvation are destined for eternal glory (II Tim. 2:10; I Pet. 5:10).

Sixth, there is an eternal hope, because we have the guarantee of eternal glory (Titus 3:7; Heb. 6:17‑19).

Seventh, eternal hope, in turn, provides eternal comfort (II Thes. 2:16).

Eighth, God has made an eternal covenant with us, and by virtue of His being the covenant-keeping God, He will keep us saved (Heb. 13:20).

Ninth, we are destined for an eternal kingdom (II Pet. 1:11).

Tenth, we do indeed have eternal life now; we have it presently. It is not something we will receive later upon death, but we have eternal life right now (Jn. 3:14‑16, 36; 6:47; 10:28; Titus 3:7).

It cannot be overemphasized that eternal life must mean what it says: if it is not eternal, if a person could lose it, then it is only temporary life.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Eternal Security: Part 3

Another important area of evidence for eternal security is based upon the lengthy passage of Romans 8:1‑39.[1]

Verse 1: There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus means that the believer is no longer under any condemnation, no matter how often he may personally sin.

Verses 2‑8: the believer has been delivered from the Law, and the Law can no longer condemn him.

Verses 9‑13: the divine nature is present within the believer, and this divine nature is not capable of spiritually dying.

Verses 14‑17: the believer is an heir of God; as an heir, he will not lose his inheritance.

Verses 28‑30: the divine purpose is that the very ones who have been justified-and every believer has been justified-will some day also be glorified.

Verses 31‑33: Paul emphasizes the execution of the divine purpose, and indeed the ones whom He has justified He will glorify, because He will not accept any charges [against His] elect.

Verse 34: in light of the Messiah’s achievement, the believer’s security is guaranteed to be eternal.

Verses 35‑39: Paul points out the incompetency of celestial and mundane things to keep one eternally. Believers do not have the power to keep themselves, so God is the One who is going to keep them. On the other hand, these verses emphasize further that there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that can now separate us from the love of God. Nothing outside of us, nothing inside of us, not even we ourselves can separate us from the love of God.



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

ETERNAL SECURITY: PART 2

Another question we can ask regarding eternal security is: “What are the evidences of it?” Evidences for this may be grounded in the work of the Trinity.[1]

God the Father

1.  The Sovereign Purpose of God

Romans 8:28‑30 spells out one of these sovereign purposes of God, when Paul said those who have been justified will be glorified. He does not say only some who have truly been saved are going to persevere to the end and then make it; he does not say that only some who are justified will eventually be glorified. What is stated is that those who have been justified are also guaranteed to be glorified by God the Father. See also 1 Cor 1:8, Eph 1:4, 11-12; 2:7; Phil 2:12-13; Heb 2:10

2.  The Father’s Power to Keep

The second reason which is dependent upon God the Father is based upon the fact of the Father’s power to keep. The fact that He has the power to keep means that He will keep. John 10:25‑29 points out that God will give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish. The ones who have been saved have eternal life. And if the word eternal means anything, it means just that: it is eternal. If someone could lose his salvation, he did not have eternal life, he had only temporary life. John then emphasizes this fact even further with the next phrase. Not only does he state positively that God gives them eternal life, but then he also states negatively: they shall never perish. See also Rom 4:21; 8:28-30; 14:4; Col 3:3; II Tim 1:12; I Thes 5:23-24; Heb 7:25;

3.  God’s Infinite Love

A third reason that eternal security is dependent upon God the Father is because of God’s infinite love. Romans 5:7‑10 states that, if God sent His Son to die for us when we were His enemies, He would certainly keep us now that we are His friends. The love of God was proved by the sending of His Son to die for our sins while we were His enemies. If God was willing to provide salvation when we were His enemies, the love of God will make sure that He is going to keep us now that we are His friends. See also Eph 1:4.

4.  The Promise of God

The fourth reason dependent upon God the Father for eternal security is based upon the promise of God. God made a specific promise of eternal security, and the promises of God can never be rendered null and void. John 3:16 states that the believer will not perish. If a believer could lose his salvation and end up in Hell, then obviously a believer can perish. But according to this passage, once a person has accepted Yeshua as his Savior, as his Messiah, he simply will not perish. See also John 5:24; Heb 6:16-19.

God the Son

1.  He Bore our Condemnation Forever

When the Messiah died He bore condemnation forever. He did not merely bear condemnation for past sins, for when Jesus died, all our sins were still future. He did not die just for some of our sins, He died for all of them. The Messiah has died, and He has borne our condemnation (Heb. 5:8‑9; I Jn. 2:2).

2.  Believers Are Partakers of His Resurrection Life

The Messiah has risen, and believers are partakers of His resurrection life (Rom. 4:25; Eph. 2:6). The fact that we are partakers of His resurrection life emphasizes that resurrection life is not something that can be lost.

3.  The Messiah’s Work As Advocate

The third reason that eternal security is dependent upon God the Son is the work of the Messiah as an Advocate (I Jn. 1:1‑2:2). As our Advocate, He deals with the sins in the believer’s life, but never with the threat of losing salvation. Because He is an Advocate on our behalf, sin in the believer’s life is dealt with, but not by loss of salvation.

4.  The Messiah’s Work of Intercession

The Messiah intercedes so that none can be lost. He interceded while still on earth (Jn. 17:1‑26), and He is still interceding for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25).

5.  The Messiah’s Role As Shepherd

As a shepherd (John 10:27‑29), three things may be pointed out:

  1. First, believers have eternal life. Again, the word eternal must mean what it says.
  2. Secondly, they shall never perish. No matter what the sheep do, they will never perish.
  3. Thirdly, no one [can] snatch them [from His] hand. No one has the power or the capacity to snatch them from His hand.

6.  The Purpose of the Messiah’s Redemptive Work

“What is the purpose of His redemptive work?” Ephesians 5:25‑27 states that He died to purify the Church so that it will be without spot and without blemish and this is exactly what He intends to do. Certainly, if any part of that Body could lose its salvation that would be a spot; that would be a blemish. See also Heb 5:9; I Pet 3:18

God the Holy Spirit

1.  The Holy Spirit’s Work of Regeneration

II Corinthians 5:17 states that all things have become new; Galatians 6:15 declares the believer to be a new creature or creation; Ephesians 2:10 teaches that believers have been created in Christ Jesus. The work of regeneration makes one a new creation, a new creature.

2.  The Holy Spirit’s Ministry of Indwelling

When the Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the believer, it emphasizes that once He comes to indwell that believer, He indwells him permanently, eternally, and for ever (Jn. 14:16‑17; I Cor. 6:19; Eph. 2:22; I Jn. 2:27).

3.  The Holy Spirit’s Ministry of Spirit Baptism

By Spirit baptism, the believer is vitally joined to the Messiah (I Cor. 12:13) and becomes a member of His Body. There is no implication that it is possible to ever fall out of that Body.

4.  The Holy Spirit’s Ministry of Sealing

The Holy Spirit does seal, and the purpose of the sealing is to seal up the believer in Christ so that he can never fall out. The clear emphasis is that the believer has been sealed, not just temporarily, not just until he no longer believes, but has been sealed unto the day of redemption. Having been sealed, the final redemption is guaranteed. Perhaps the sealing ministry of the Spirit is the most vital one, emphasizing eternal security (II Cor. 1:21‑22; Eph. 1:13‑14; 4:30).

5.  The Power of the Holy Spirit

Philippians 1:6 brings out the fact that the Holy Spirit will complete the work He has begun. He has begun the work of salvation in us, and He will bring it to its final completion.



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

ETERNAL SECURITY: PART 1

This shall be the first of a series on various aspects of eternal security.

What is eternal security and can a believer lose his/her salvation?[1]

We might explain eternal security like this: “Eternal security is that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer by which the work of divine grace that is begun in the heart is continued and brought to completion.” This means that once a person has undergone the real experience of salvation, of regeneration, that person cannot commit some sin or cease to believe with the result of a loss of salvation. That which keeps the believer safe and secure is the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of God on his behalf, not his own works.

Let’s look at this issue in greater detail:

1. Salvation Is Not Repeatable – There is not a single case in Scripture that states: this person was saved; he lost his salvation; and then he was re-saved some time later. That concept is nowhere in Scripture, nor is there a single case of someone who was saved, lost and then saved again later, recorded in the Bible.

2. True Salvation Produces Works of Righteousness – True salvation will produce genuine works of righteousness in one’s life. Anyone who has been truly saved will show it with some degree of evidences, although they might be quite small. A believer works because he is saved (Mat. 7:17‑20; Titus 2:11‑12; Jas. 2:14‑24; II Pet. 1:5‑10).

3. Doctrinal Consistency:  The Test of True Faith (Col. 1:22‑23; II Jn. 2) – When a person is saved, he may not know that Yeshua (Jesus) was born of a virgin. When he does learn it, he will readily accept it. If he denies or rejects this truth, then perhaps he was never truly saved to begin with. Doctrinal consistency is a test of true faith.

4. Works of the Believer Rewarded (Heb. 6:10) – The believer does not attain his salvation by works. Rather, true salvation will result in works. Salvation itself is not a reward, but it is a free gift received by faith.

5. The Basis of the Exhortations to Godly Living – The exhortations in Scripture for godly living are based upon what God has done, never upon the fear of losing one’s salvation (e.g. Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 5:15; Eph 4:1)

6. The Results of Sin in the Believer’s Life – Sin severs one’s fellowship with God (I Jn. 1:6‑7, 9), but does not sever salvation. Once one believes, he has a “family relationship” with God. When one is born physically, he is born into a family and will always be a part of that family. At times, communion and fellowship within that family might become strained and broken because of animosity between members of the family. The same thing is true in the family of God. One may break fellowship because of one’s sin, but he will always remain in that family nonetheless.

7. Persistent Sin May Show a Lack of Conversion – Consistent sin does not show a loss of salvation. If anything, it may show that the person was never saved to begin with. Often people point to an individual saying that he had walked down the aisle and said “he believed on Jesus,” but has never shown the evidence of it. However, walking down the aisle does not mean a person had true saving faith, nor does merely saying that he believed mean he had true saving faith. The question is: “Was he ever really saved to begin with? Was he ever really converted in the true sense of the term?”

8. Perfection Is Not Achieved in This Life – Believers will be sinning for the rest of their lives. If one must reach perfection in order to maintain salvation, then every believer is in trouble. If anyone could have made it to perfection, it would have been the Apostle Paul, and yet he wrote, “I am not yet perfect” (Phil. 3:12‑14).

9. The Difference Between Position and Practice – Paul referred to the Corinthian church positionally as being a sanctified church (I Cor. 1:2). But according to their practice, they are one of the worst churches in the New Testament. There is a difference between position and practice; however, bad practice does not mean that the position has been lost.

10. The Relationship Between Works and Salvation – If works are needed to keep salvation, then salvation is by works. In Romans 4:4‑6 Paul said:

4Now to him that works, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. 5But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. 6Even as David also pronounced blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckons righteousness apart from works, . . .

Galatians 2:21:

I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought.

And II Timothy 1:9:

. . . who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal,  . . .


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA

The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 4:32‑5:11 provides an example of the use of Peter’s apostolic authority to bind and loose with respect to church discipline.[1] The apostles had the authority to exercise discipline upon the Church, but that authority has not passed beyond regular church discipline. In John 20:23, the apostles were given the authority to free one from punishment (=loose) or retain (=bind) sin, and here Peter “retained” the sin of Ananias and Sapphira for punishment. Today, we have to follow the four‑stage procedure of Matthew 18:15‑20, but the apostles did not. Even the early Church was not perfect. This account underscores for us, among other things, that God will judge sin, and that judgment must begin at the house of God ( I Peter 4:17).

THE COMMUNITY

In Acts 4:32a-33 we learn about the community of believers in Jerusalem. The saints were: (1) unified in faith, (2) characterized by their sharing attitudes, (3) witnesses to the Apostle’s ability to perform miracles, signs, and wonders, and (4) enjoyed God’s grace (i.e. his unmerited favor).  God provided for their needs (4:34-35), for the saints distributed their well to the apostles and thus distribution was made to each, according as any one had need. However, this action was largely based upon a misconception concerning the Second Coming. There were strong feelings that Jesus would definitely return in their lifetime, although He had clearly indicated that this would not happen. In fact, Yeshua prophesied that Peter would die before His Second Coming in John 21. Although this practice was limited to the congregation of Jerusalem (not beyond), it proved to be a mistake, because it caused the Church of Jerusalem to become poverty‑stricken; after everything had been sold and distributed, there was nothing left in the common pot. Their poverty caused them to fall in need of help from Gentile churches that did not follow the procedure of having all things common (Acts 11:27‑30; 24:17; Rom. 15:25‑27; Gal. 2:10).

BARNABAS

After giving us a general account of what the believers were doing in verses 32‑35, Luke now focused his attention upon one special example: Barnabas (vv. 36‑37). Barnabas (Aramaic for Son of exhortation) was a Levite from the island of Cyprus, now living in Jerusalem. He was the cousin of John Mark, who was the author of the Gospel of Mark (Col. 4:10). He was the man who persuaded the Church of Jerusalem to receive Paul in Acts 9:27, when Paul returned to Jerusalem from Damascus, claiming to be a believer. Later, Barnabas was sent by the Church of Jerusalem to investigate Gentile salvation in Antioch in Acts 11:19‑24. According to Acts 14:12, he was of commanding appearance, because he was taken by the people of Lystra to be the god Jupiter or Zeus. He also had the gift of apostleship according to Acts 14:14, and was of that second category of apostles, like Paul and James, the half‑brother of Yeshua. The only prerequisite for this category of apostleship was that they had seen the resurrected Messiah. Apparently, Barnabas was among the five hundred who saw the resurrected Messiah.

Barnabas owned a field (v. 37) and sold it. He then brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. This is a good example of one who possessed the love of the brethren. Although under the Mosaic Law, ownership of land was forbidden to a Levite (Num. 18:20‑23; Deut. 10:9), that stipulation only held true within the Land of Israel  Barnabas disobedient? Levites like Barnabas living outside the Land were not under that stipulation.

ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA

In contrast with the good example of Barnabas who sold land, we have the bad example of Ananias and Sapphira, who also sold land (Acts 5:1-11). Unlike Barnabas, however, Ananias and Sapphira (v. 2). The conspiracy was to keep back part of the price. In the Greek text, Luke used the same word that is used in the Septuagint version of Joshua 7:1, where Achan held on to something he was not supposed to have. What Achan was to Joshua, Ananias and Sapphira were going to be to the early Church. Just as Achan interrupted Israel’s process and progress in the conquest of the Promised Land, Ananias and Sapphira’s act of deceit interrupted the process and the progress of the Program of God.

While Ananias was the leader in it, his wife was party to the conspiracy. Ananias alone brought a certain part of their money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter accused Ananias (5:3-4) and in his accusation, Peter held two persons responsible for this act of deceit, Satan (v. 3) and Ananias. Again, unlike Barnabas who was filled with the Spirit, Ananias was willed with Satan. Peter points out that the selling of the land was not obligatory; Ananias did not have to sell it. Even after selling it, he still did not have to give any part of it away. He had the right to keep all of it. He had a choice, either to give all of it to the apostles, or none of it, or only part of it. Giving only part of it was not the sin. The sin was that he gave only a part while claiming to have given it all. Ananias’ sin led to his death.

While listening to what Peter was saying, he fell down and gave up the ghost. The result was that great fear came upon all that heard it. This is the only example of someone being “slain by the Spirit.” But Ananias did not get up again, he was dead. In verse 7, Sapphira came in. As to the time: it was about the space of three hours after her husband had died that she came in and Peter asks her “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much.” With that question, Peter gave her an opportunity “to come clean.” But Sapphira answered in verse 8b: Yea, for so much. She did not take the opportunity offered to her, but chose to continue the conspiracy. Peter then gave his accusation and judgment. This was sin against the Holy Spirit; it was lying to the Holy Spirit, and when they did that, they “tried” the Holy Spirit. The judgment was: behold, the feet of them that have buried your husband are at the door. These young men had just returned at that moment, and now they shall carry [Sapphira] out for burial as well. She fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost (v. 10). As a result great fear came upon the whole church. This is the first mention of church in the Book of Acts, out of a total of twenty‑three times. The second result was that fear fell on those outside the congregation inJerusalem as well.



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.