Forum for ex-members of Revival Churches
Revival_Centres_Discussion_Forums > Bible, Beliefs, Scriptures and 'The Word' > Didaktikon debunks Revivalist 'Theology' Go to subcategory:
Author Content
Didaktikon
  • Rank:Forum Oracle
  • Score:62130
  • Posts:2958
  • From:Australia
  • Register:29/08/2007 7:54 AM

Date Posted:08/09/2012 3:12 AMCopy HTML

Good afternoon.

I think it would be fair to say that Revivalists don't accept that anyone was properly saved prior to Pentecost. They base their belief on the following assumptions: (1) that salvation is fundamentally impossible unless one has received the Holy Spirit. (2) That the Holy Spirit wasn't accessible in a New Testament sense until the day of Pentecost described in Acts chapter two. (3) Ergo, that noone, including Christ's apostles, was saved in the uniquely Christian sense until that day. My position is that the above three assumptions are misguided; that they don't take into consideration God's revelation unfolding from the Gospels through the epistles; and finally, that the Revivalist assumptions concerning the Spirit provide little more than shallow examples of special-pleading.

In this very brief post I'll limit myself to addressing what transpired immediately after Jesus Christ rose from death, as recorded by his apostle John in the Gospel that's attributed to him. I'll do this in an effort to demonstrate that what Revivalists naively assume about salvation, Pentecost, and the Spirit isn't necessarily what Scripture actually records.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:19-23, ESV)

Our passage, above, represents the Johannine 'Great Commissioning'. It serves as the culmination of the entire Gospel's presentation of Jesus as the One sent from God, the Father. Correspondingly Jesus, as the Sent One, becomes the Sender, commissioning his apostles to serve as his official messengers and representatives (so verse 21). The apostles had been trained during the approximately three years in which they had spent with Jesus as he preached the message of the irrupting Kingdom of God. Now they were to be equipped with the Holy Spirit, before being released into their unique commissions.

It's when we arrive at verse 22 that we encounter a significant challenge to the Revivalist's schema:

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (ESV) The common position among Longfieldians is that Christ's actions were prophetic; that what he said and did pointed to a fulfilment that eventually took place on the day of Pentecost. The question that needs to be asked, however, is can such a position be defended from the text itself?

καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησεν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον· (John 20:22, GNT).

There are several features of the Greek text of John 20:22 that warrants our attention. First and foremost is that this verse, in common with the first verse of the Gospel itself, was intended to bring to mind in John's readers the Creation account. Or more specifically, of the moment when God breathed life through his Spirit into the man whom he had formed: 7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7, ESV).

The early Church used the Septuagint (LXX)—the Greek translation of the Old Testament—as its Bible. The LXX renders verse 7: καὶ ἔπλασεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον χοῦν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐνεφύσησεν εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ πνοὴν ζωῆς καὶ ἐγένετο ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν. The analogy is plain. In appealing to the Creation account of the quickening of Adam, John identified that just as Adam became a living man via the breath (or Spirit) of God to function as his unique representative on earth, so too the apostles became spiritually alive via the breath (or Spirit) of God, the Son, so as to function as his unique representatives on earth.

The same rare Greek verb is used to describe the act of God having 'breathed' in both passages, the word emphusaō. In addition to Genesis 2:7, emphusaō appears in the Old Testament in Psalms 104:29-30 and Ezekiel 37:5, 9. Its single appearance in the New Testament is in our passage, John 20:22. Importantly, the verb appears in the aorist aspect and indicative mood. Furthermore, the aorist has punctiliar force in this instance, which implies that the action of the Spirit being imparted by Christ to the apostles wasn't repeatable (the once-for-all-time implication of the punctiliar even managed to survive the translation process through the use of the English, 'breathed'). That the mood is indicative indicates that according to John, Christ's apostles received the Holy Spirit then and there! Exegetically the grammar of the Greek text dismisses any notion of a prophetic or future fulfilment. Christ's apostles received God's Holy Spirit when God, the Son, breathed upon them on the day of his resurrection—approximately a month before Pentecost!

John 20:22 presents the risen Christ imparting the Holy Spirit to his closest followers to appoint them for their apostolic mission (note verse 21). On the day of Pentecost, however, he poured his Spirit upon the same group to empower them for their apostolic ministry. Because Revivalists hold to a strictly one-dimensional perspective of the Holy Spirit, they fail to grasp the richness of his activity as such is described throughout the pages of the New Testament. And this is to their detriment.

Blessings,

Ian
email: didaktikon@gmail.com
Didaktikon Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
  • Rank:Forum Oracle
  • Score:62130
  • Posts:2958
  • From:Australia
  • Register:29/08/2007 7:54 AM

Re:John 20, the apostles and the Holy Spirit

Date Posted:15/09/2012 6:51 AMCopy HTML

Good afternoon, all.

There are those who clearly don't want to believe that the impression I've presented of John 20:22 is correct. In order to provide such with further fodder for rumination, the following comments are drawn from four of the better exegetical commentaries on the Gospel According to John. I present such for your prayerful consideration.

Having commissioned them Jesus bestows on them the equipment they will need for the discharge of their commission. He breathed and said "Receive the Holy Spirit". It is perhaps significant that there is no "on them" in most MSS (cf. Schonfield: "he expelled a deep breath"). John is not writing as though there were a series of gifts made to individuals. Rather he speaks of a collective gift made to the church as a whole. "The gift was once for all, not to individuals but to the abiding body" (Westcott). There is possibly a recollection here that the primary meaning of the word we render "spirit" is "breath" or "wind". But the important thing is not this, but the presence of the Holy Spirit within them. The relation of this gift to that made on the day of Pentecost is obscure. Some scholars hold that the two are incompatible ... The circumstances of the two gifts are completely different. And, whereas that in Acts 2 is followed immediately some very effective preaching, no sequel to this gift is narrated. It is the teaching of the New Testament that "there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12 : 4), and that the problem is likely to be solved along these lines. It is false alike to the New Testament and to Christian experience to maintain that there is but one gift of the Spirit. Rather the Spirit is continually manifesting Himself in new ways. So John tells us of one gift and Luke of another. Dr Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, NICNT pp. 846, 847.

---ooo---

ἐνεφύσησεν (D sin pesh, correctly interpreting, add αὐτοῖς) ... Λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον. The first word is significant. Cf. gen. 2.7, ἐνεφύσησεν [sc. ὁ θεὸς]  εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ πνοὴν ζωῆς καὶ ἐγένετο ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν. Ezek. 37.9, ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων πνευμάτων ἐλθὲ καὶ ἐμφύσησον εἰς τοὺς νεκροὺς τούτους. Wisd. 15.11, ἠγνόησεν τὸν πλάσαντα αὐτὸν καὶ τὸν ἐμπνεύσαντα αὐτῷ ψυχὴν ἐνεργοῦσαν καὶ ἐμφυσήσαντα πνεῦμα ζωτικόν. That John intended to depict an event of significance parallel to that of the first creation of man cannot be doubted; this was the beginning of a new creation. At the same time, the language of inspiration is not inappropriate to the Hellenistic philosophical apostle; see on v. 21. For the Johannine teaching on the the Holy Spirit see Introduction, pp. 74-7, and on 1.32f.; 3.5; 4.24; 7.37ff.; 14.16 among other passages. It had been promised that the Spirit would be given after the glorification of Jesus (7.39; 16.7) and there can be no doubt that this is the gift intended. On its relation to the ascension see on v. 17. It does not seem possible to harmonize this account of a special bestowing of the Spirit with that contained in Acts 2; after this event there could be no more "waiting" (Luke 24.48f.; Acts 1.4f.); the Church could not be more fully equipped for its mission. The existence of divergent traditions of the constitutative gift of the Spirit is not surprising; it is probable that to the first Christians the resurrection of Jesus and his appearances to them, his exultation (however that was understood), and the gift of the Spirit, appeared as one experience, which only later came to be described in separate elements and incidents. Professor C.K. Barrett, the Gospel According to John, pp. 474, 475.

---ooo---

The breathing alludes back to the wind of 3:8, linking it with the image of regeneration by the Spirit in that context (3:3-6). Even if the punctilliar force of the aorist were pressed, it would not imply that the gift was solely for the apostles present, although the gift may be unrepeatable, but, rather, that the gift was imparted on this occasion once for all to be available hereafter to the rest of the church. The imperative may, however, connote that the although the gift is freely offered to all, it must be embraced by those who would accept the offer.

This passage combines two of the central aspects of the Spirit's work that appear elsewhere in John and various early Jewish sources, both purification or rebirth (Gen 2:7) and empowerment. Most scholars concur that when Jesus breathes on the disciples, John is alluding to the creative, life-imparting acts of God in Gen 2:7; Jesus is creating a new humanity, a new creation. Although the verb for "breathe" here is a rare one, it occurs in Gen 2:7 and Ezek 37:9 as well as quotes of it in Philo and Wis 15:11. Similar images appear elsewhere in early Jewish texts, but many depend on Genesis (such as Wis 15:11; 4 Ezra 3:5-7) or simply reflect common language in the milieu (cf. perhaps 2 Kgs 4:34) ...

Genesis 2:7 was naturally conected with Ezek 37:9 in later midrash and Jewish artwork, and Ezek 37:9 was explicitly understood to refer to the resurrection of the dead. Given John's earlier treatment of rebirth imagery (3:3-5) and his linking of water (3:6) and wind (3:8) images of the Spirit (cf. Ezek 36-37), it is likely that he recalls here the regenerating aspect of the Spirit of purification. Jesus had promised that his return to them alive would bring them new life as well (14:19) ...

For John, all those who believe are to "receive" the Spirit after Jesus' glorification (7:39), so the experience depicted here for the disciples functions proleptically for the whole church. The language of "receiving the Spirit" (also 14:17; cf. 1 John 2:27) accords with the early Christian tradition, normally for the experience of new relationship (Romans 8:15; 1 Cor 2:12; 2 Cor 11:4; Gal 3:2, 14) or empowerment for mission (Acts 1:8) temporally at (Acts 10:470, or theologically implicit in (Acts 2:33; 19:2), conversion, although in the early church's experience it may have applied to a post-conversion experience in some cases (Acts 8:15, 17) ... "Receiving" the Spirit here also refers to the beginning of an indwelling (14:17, 23) and hence implies a fuller inspiration than that reported among the biblical prophets.
Professor C.S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Vol. 2, pp. 1204-1206.

---ooo---

If this community is to function in the way just described, then the gift of the Spirit is essential. Human beings in themselves are not capable of of manifesting God's presence and doing God's will as Jesus did. Indeed, without the Spirit there is no spiritual life (3:3, 5). But Jesus now has been glorified, so the Spirit can be given (7:39; see comment on 16:7). At this point the life that has been in Jesus in his union with God is now shared with the disciples. This new state of affairs, described in the farewell discourse and hinted at already by the risen Christ (v. 17), begins to take effect among the disciples. They have been reunited with Jesus and now are given his very life by the Spirit--not only reunited with him, but beginning to be united to him. The word used for breathed on (emphysaō) is the same word used in the Greek Old Testament to describe God's action when he formed man from the dust of the ground and "breathed into him the breath of life" and the man became a living being (Gen 2:7; cf. Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; also Ezek 37:5-10, 14) ...

This imparting of the Spirit is clearly a climactic moment in the Gospel. Precisely because it is climactic one wonders how it is related to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). On the assumption that both John and Luke are describing the one giving of the Spirit a number of scholars think the accounts reflect different theological emphases ... Others would embrace a view condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in A.D. 553, namely, that the imparting of the Spirit in John in symbolic of the later experience at Pentecost ... Yet another position is that the two accounts describe two different events, though there is much variety in how the differences are understood (cf. Brown 1970:1038; Beasley-Murray 1987:381).
Dr R.A. Whitacre, John, IVPNTC, pp. 480, 481.

Blessings,

Ian
email: didaktikon@gmail.com
RCI prophesies
Copyright © 2000-2019 Aimoo Free Forum All rights reserved.