Ed Stevens on INTERPRETING THE SCRIPTURES

Yesterday we watched a teaching by Mr. Ed Stevens of the International Preterist Association (www.preterist.org) on how to interpret the Scriptures (2014 Nebraska Retreat) . Like much of Ed’s stuff, I rather enjoyed this teaching. Also, a woman from our congregation testified that this teaching by Ed helped her better understand the details of Scripture. Glory to God!

In this blog I am going to share some of my notes from that presentation. I pray many reading it would be edified. However, my main reason for posting it to allow review and conversation in our Adult Sunday School on 1/14.

Ed starts out detailing the importance of understanding the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, Why, and When). Ed said it is easy to understand the Bible once you answer these questions. In utilizing the Gospel according to Matthew, Mr. Stevens detailed how we need to know the author as a tax collector and “what made him tick”. In knowing who is writing (in this case Matthew) and to whom is being written to (exclusively a 1st century Jewish populace), we establish the beginning of “audience relevance”. I thought it was important that Ed highlighted the fact that we must understand some historical/cultural details from that time to understand because the author seems to take it for granted that his audience shares a common understanding of the details (details to us in the 21st century in the Western world are a bit foreign to say the least). This is something that is vital to our understanding much of the Bible and affects our interpretation and paradigms in such profound ways.

Ed’s sharing on the details of dating was rather stimulating (which was no surprise because his book, The Final Decade Before the End, is my go to resource on dating the New Testament). Again, using the Gospel of Matthew, Mr. Steven’s mentioned AD 38 as the date of authorship. He mentioned such an early date for a couple of reasons. First, it seems that Matthew is writing before the conversion of any Gentiles (which takes place in Acts chapter 10, which has been placed historically between AD 35-40). This also seems to be the case, since Jesus Christ tells his followers to not go among the Gentiles and expresses the sentiment that his ministry is not for them (Matthew 10:5 and Matthew 15:24). At least not yet. Mr. Steven’s mentioned the importance of placing the dating of Matthew to before the Roman emperor Caligula attempted to put his statue in the Temple at Jerusalem which was attempted in AD 39. We can look into those details through historical chronicles by men such as Josephus, Tacitus, and Philo. And of course, answering the “where question” seems to be rather simple when reading through Matthew’s Gospel, as Jerusalem is the center focus.

Ed concluded his speaking session by mentioning other “helps” in understanding the Bible. A mention of the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible was made and the value of cross-references. I was overjoyed that a few among our study spoke up and remarked that even a “chain-reference Bible” has bias and that we must be careful in how we utilize such “helps”. Consider that the commentary, the cross-references, and even the translations hold bias in the variety of resources we might use. This should stimulate us to walk worthy of 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

The value of the Reformed concepts brought up by Mr. Stevens at the end of the speech are immense and must be brought up as I conclude this review. “Analogia Scriptura” meaning Scripture interprets Scripture is important and challenges us to become familiar with Scriptures. A good study that was mentioned was the use of the Greek word “stocheia” or elements as translated into English. This study along has challenged the “end of the world” paradigm based on 2 Peter 3:10. Also, “Analogia Fide” meaning the analogy of faith, which demands of us that we become familiar with the entire Biblical story. The analogy of faith is similar to my constant bringing up and obsession with the “Biblical Narrative”, and it highlights that all details within Scripture must be consistent and flow with the “redemptive story”.

I know I am surely appreciate to the ministry of Ed Stevens (despite some of our areas of disagreement). I do trust that if we walk worthy of such “interpretation of the Scriptures” that we will see more advancement in Biblical clarity as well as more and more praise to the glory of God!

  • STUDY POINTS (based on Ed’s presentation)
  • How does the establishing of the 5W’s better inform your view of details in Scripture?
  • Ed mentions that certain details in Scripture require a comprehension of how the “original audience” would have understood them. How has this affected your study of the Bible? Where do you see this as vital?
  • What examples of “cross-referencing” different Scriptures has helped you better understand portions of Scripture?
  • In a summarized fashion, how would you explain the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation? (Try to do so in 3-4 sentences).

Be blessed by His mighty grace,

Pastor Michael Miano
The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org)

An Introduction to and Praise of the Corporate Body View (CBV)

Establishing Himself as the fulfillment of all that was hoped for, Jesus Christ said:

“I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet he shall live: and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this (John 11:25)”.

The Christian believes Jesus Christ to be the fulfillment of all that Israel longed for. The Apostle Paul explained the “hope of resurrection” best when he testified before governor Felix in Acts chapter 24:14-15:

“But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and the Prophets: having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked”.

When we go back to the beginning of the Biblical story we read that Adam suffered death because of disobedience and this “death” was manifested as his being cut off from the garden of Eden and accessing the Tree of Life (essentially the true life manifested in the presence of God), as well as a return to dust. This “death” effected him while he was alive, as well as after he biologically died. His progeny, Israel, began to have a hope for resurrection after they “like Adam transgressed the covenant (cf. Hosea 6:7)”. The Law of Moses was given to Israel as an “atonement” (a covering that provided life when they walked in obedience – cf. Deuteronomy 30:15). However, instead of walking in obedience, Israel walked in disobedience and reaped death. Like the death of Adam, this death effected Israel while they were alive, as well as after biological death. This death was a covenant reality for all of Israel as they failed to walk in obedience to the Law of Moses, however the Law and the Prophets hoped for the “resurrection of the dead”.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56)”

When we begin to examine the “hope of Israel” otherwise known as the “resurrection of the dead” through Scripture we arrive at an understanding of the corporate “bodily hope”. Understanding the focal point of this “bodily hope” as a “corporate reality” which establishes eternal life for the dead and the living, is referred to as the Corporate Body View (Salvation in the Body of Christ). This view is in contrast to what is often referred to as the IBV (Individual Body View), which demands that the doctrine of the “resurrection of the dead” involves an individual body that the saints receive – an Individual Body at Death (IBD). CBV advocates demonstrate that the “resurrection passages” found throughout the Bible are speaking about the “change” (alasso in the Greek) of the living saints and the making stand upright (apantesis in the Greek) of the “dead ones” into one immortal “corporate body” (the glorified Body of Christ). CBV advocates also assert that none of the “resurrection passages” found throughout Scripture, nor the “hope of Israel” otherwise known as the doctrine of the “resurrection of the dead”, pertain to any kind of individual body that the saints received or will receive. This is simply a false notion regarding the goal of eschatology that has been passed on throughout Church History, and is built upon faulty presuppositions as well as assumptions (Futurism, the Immortality of the Soul, the Resurrection of the Flesh, to name a few).

“He is the Head of the Body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything (Colossians 1:18)”.

A simple reading through the context of the Apostles Paul’s hope and his writings, say for example reading through the Book of Romans, will show that the “bodily hope” is detailing the death to one body and “newness of life” found in another. This is the Body of which Christ is the Head. It is important to note how Israel under the Law of Moses was understood to be a corporate people, and the Greeks are well known for their great “assemblies” or “bodies” (soma in the Greek) which they boasted in regards to. It was dying to these assemblies/bodies of identification and the being raised into the Body of Christ which would have been readily understood by people inclusively focused as the original audience was. This is what much of the “bodily talk” in the New Testament pertains to. This is a concept that a Hellenized spirituality (a spirituality based upon otherworldly notions that come from the imaginations of men as seen and passed on through Greco-Roman culture), or a 21st century mindset is not necessarily predisposed to.

Also, a Biblical consistency is revealed when we understand the narrative and the context of the “hope of Israel”. The death being defeated through Jesus Christ and the life being offered as represented through baptism begins to make sense. The resurrection of which Colossians 1:8 says that which is first in surely couldn’t be physical biological resurrection since we see this happen many times throughout the Scriptures. Also, as we study the Law and the Prophets, we see how unnecessary discussion about individual realities becomes and instead we develop the a prophetic imagination and get brought into the corporate reality fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

As we continue to see reformation happen within the Body of Christ, especially pertaining to eschatological details (which the “resurrection of the dead” is involved with), we need to move away from these strange notions of and focuses on individual realities, and instead cling to what we might call “resurrection realities”. Consider two texts that pointed to the hope of resurrection and what the outcome would be:

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3)”.

“And the Lord God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling in His land. For what comeliness and beauty will be theirs! Grain will make the young men flourish, and new wine the virgins (Zechariah 9:16-17)”.

The “resurrection of the dead” is the ultimate conclusion of fulfilled Bible prophecy. The fulfillment of the every joy and tittle of the Law and the Prophets it all that the prophets longed and hoped for. In and through that fulfillment the Mystery of the Ages would be revealed The living and the dead would and were raised into a new “bodily experience” when the Messiah fulfilled all that was necessary for the restitution of all things. The Apostle Paul detailed the overcoming of the covenantal death, which was lamented through the Prophets in this manner:

“But when this perishable will have put on the the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting”.

Praise God for the Corporate Body Resurrection! The Glorified Immortal Body of Christ where Resurrection and Life is found.

 

 

MORE ARTICLES OF PASTOR MICHAEL MIANO’S ON THE CBV VIEW:

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/resurrection-of-the-dead-ones/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/1-corinthians-15-summaries/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/the-effect-of-a-fulfilled-corporate-gospel/

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/the-hope-of-israel-transition-part-3/

BOOK REVIEW: Final Decade Before the End by Mr. Ed Stevens

In the Christian circles that I navigate Mr. Ed Stevens is known as one of the best resources for Jewish and Christian history. This book, Final Decade Before the End, is A MUST READ for anyone serious about understanding ‘Jewish and Christian history just before the Jewish Revolt’. He really delivered on his promise to offer a ‘historical reconstruction’ help “form a comprehensive understanding of what was really happening to Christianity during that final decade just before the end.”

At the Blue Point Bible Church, where I serve as pastor, we have been going through the “Biblical Narrative” from Genesis to Revelation since February 2015. Mr. Stevens book has been the ‘resource above resources’ for my study into the culture and time of the New Testament writings.

Not only does he provide a basic timetable for the writing and courier activity of the New Testament writings, he also provides important chronological details during that time. Also noteworthy for sure is his constant use of not just quotes, but entire passages from early, almost ancient historians such as Josephus, Tacitus, Seneca, Suetonius, among others.

I write this as I have just finished reading his book this afternoon – I took time using it as a reference tool for the past 3 months. However, now that we have embarked upon understanding the ‘Book of Revelation’ in our congregation, I felt it necessary to read through the whole book to get the ‘juicy details’ concerning the history of the Neronian persecution, as well as the Roman-Jewish war. ‘;

Regarding the ‘history of the end’, Mr. Stevens delivers a writing with powerful evidence in first century Bible prophecy fulfillment, surely details you want to have as we continue bringing forth the truth of Full Preterism. I cannot say it enough, this is A MUST HAVE RESOURCE!

All of that said, there are surely areas I found myself disagreeing with Mr. Stevens, specifically his explanation of why the historic church did not document nor provide evidence of the experiences of the ‘time of the end’ – ie., the rapture theory. Also, as I examined the charts Mr. Stevens provides regarding the ‘expectations of the saints’, I found myself disagreeing with his reference to the hope of individual bodies at death and the nature of that fulfillment in regards to the ‘resurrection of the dead’. I look forward to interacting with these details in the near future.

Again, I note the disagreement just to be honest in my review, however take those areas out (to be agreeable with my position) or keep them it, the book is still amazing! I will continue to recommend the resources of Mr. Stevens- especially, as we encourage others to understand the historic events of the Neronian persecution, as well as the Roman-Jewish War.

“We are devoted to chasing after the Biblical and Historical Truth, wherever it leads, and whatever it takes. This book was written for truth chasers like you”. – Ed Stevens

Order your copy at the following link:http://www.preterist.org/products/final-decade-before-the-end-print-edition

In Christ’s Name,

Michael Miano

P.S. – Mr. Stevens book also helped me solidify my position on the Millennium noting the events prior to A.D. 64, and what would follow after with the Neronian persecution. This was a big deal to me and I feel forever indebted to him for that!