We are a non-aligned house church that worships the One True God according to the Abrahamic Faith and the monotheistic teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. We conduct Bible Studies every Saturday at 11:00 A.M. We exist to serve the Body of Christ and all others who seek to know God and worship Him in spirit and truth.
We are a small flock whom God led out of the legalistic bondage espoused by the Worldwide Church of God before 1994. It was not our intent to start a splinter group, but we disagreed with the position and philosophies of the WCG, its splinter groups, and most of the mainstream Evangelical churches.
We do not claim to be the only Church of God, nor do we claim to have all the "Truth." We are constantly learning through research and study of God's word, and growing in grace and truth. We believe that the true Church of God consists of all regenerated (born again) believers scattered throughout the world regardless of denominational affiliation. Jesus Christ established only one church on the Day of Pentecost, 32 A.D. and told His disciples that the gates of Hell would never prevail against it. That church still exists today though small and scattered.
We realize that we cannot convert anyone. The only thing we can do is show someone what God's word says. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to lead them into understanding. It is, therefore, not our mission to try to convert anyone, but to teach them the grace of Jesus Christ in love and hope that they do not fight against God's grace.
What We Believe
•There is one God, the Father (1 Cor. 8:6), the one God of the creed of Israel affirmed by Jesus Christ (Mark 12:28ff). The Father is "the only true God" (John 17:3).
•There is one Lord Messiah, Jesus (1 Cor. 8:6), who was supernaturally conceived as the Son of God (Luke 1:35), and foreordained from the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20)
•The Holy Spirit is the personal, operational presence and power of God extended through the risen Christ to believers (Ps. 51:11).
•The Bible, consisting of the Hebrew canon (Luke 24:44) and the Greek New Testament Scriptures, is the inspired and authoritative revelation of God (2 Tim. 3:16).
•In the atoning, substitutionary death of Jesus, his resurrection on the third day, and his ascension to the right hand of the Father (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34-36), where he is waiting until his enemies are subdued (Heb. 10:13).
•In the future visible return of Jesus Christ to raise to life the faithful dead (1 Cor. 15:23), establish the millennial Kingdom on earth (Rev. 20:1-6, etc.) and bring about the restoration of the earth promised by the prophets (Acts 1:6; 3:21; 26:6, 7).
•In the regenerating power of the Gospel message about the Kingdom (Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:12; John 6:63), enabling the believer to understand divine revelation and live a life of holiness.
•In baptism by immersion upon reception of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the things concerning Jesus (Acts 8:12; Luke 24:27).
•In the future resurrection of the saved of all the ages to administer the renewed earth with the Messiah in the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:26; 3:21; 5:10).
•Christians ought never to take up arms and kill their enemies and fellow believers in other nations (Matt. 26:52; John 15:19; 18:36; 1 Pet. 2:9-11; 1 Chron. 22:8)
Jesse Acuff, Pastor.
Gabriel Was Not A Trinitarian:
Recovering the Biblical Son of God
Churchmen of all stripes frequently complain about disunity among Christians. The current ecumenical movement attempts to neutralize contemporary denominational divisions and contentions by promoting elements of faith on which all believers in Christ can agree. The question is, Does such a version of faith, an irreducible minimum which everyone approves, reflect the "faith once and for all delivered to the saints" Jude 3), which Jude saw slipping away even in the first century?
If churchmen desire a common meeting point for differing denominations, why should they not consider with all seriousness the classic words of Gabriel delivered to Mary? When angels speak they are concise and logical. Each of their words must be carefully weighed and every ounce of information extracted. Replying to Mary's very reasonable objection that she was as yet unmarried, Gabriel declared, "holy spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason indeed (dio kai) the holy child to be begotten will be called Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
I suggest that this Christological statement from the angel Gabriel be taken as the basis for identifying who Jesus is. It should be understood as a clarion call for unity, a rallying point for divided Christendom. What better way of calling Christians back to their firstcentury roots?
The message is simple and clear. The Son of God of Gabriel's announcement is none other than a divinely created Son of God, coming into existence begotten - as Son in his mother's womb. All other claimants to divine Sonship and Messiahship may safely be discounted. A "Son of God" who is thenatural son of Joseph could not, on the evidence of Gabriel, be the Messiah. Such a person would not answer to the Son who is son on the basis of a unique divine intervention in the biological chain. Equally false to Gabriel's definition of the Son of God would be a son who preexisted his conception. Such a son could not possibly correspond to the Messiah presented by Gabriel, one whose existence is predicated on a creative act in history on the part of the Father.
Gabriel does not present a Son of God in transition from one state of existence to another. He announces the miraculous origin and beginning of the Messiah (cp. Matt. 1:18, 20: "the origin [Gk. Genesis] of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God." The later concept of the Incarnation of a preexisting "eternal Son" cannot possibly be forced into the mold revealed by Gabriel. A preexistent Person who decides to become a man reduces himself, shrinks himself, in order to adopt the form of a human embryo. But such a Person is not conceived or begotten in the womb of a woman. He merely passes through that womb, adopting a new form of existence.
Begin at The Beginning
Conception and begetting mark the point at which an individual begins to exist, an individual who did not exist before! It is this non-preexisting individual whom Gabriel presents in the sacred documents for our reception. This Son of God, of Scripture as opposed to later church tradition, is a Son of God with a history in time only, not in eternity.
Following his marvelous promise that the Messiah would be the seed of Eve (Gen. 3:15), a prophet like Moses arising in Israel (Deut. 18:15-19) and the descendant by bloodline of David (2 Sam. 7:14), God, in a precious moment of history, initiated the history of His unique Son. This was a Son through whom God expressly did not speak in previous times (Heb. 1:2). Naturally enough, since that prophesied Son was not then alive!
Only a few pages later Luke traces the lineage of Jesus, Son of God, back to Adam who likewise is called Son of God (Luke 3:38). The parallel is striking and immensely informative. Just as God by divine fiat created Adam from the dust as Son of God, so in due time He creates within the womb of a human female the one who is the supernaturally begotten Son of God. It is surely destructive of straightforward information and revelation to argue that the Son of God did not have his origin in Mary but as an eternal Spirit. This is to dehumanize the Son - to make him essentially non-human, merely a divine visitor disguised as a man.
Luke presents Jesus as Son of God related to God in a parallel fashion to Adam (Luke 3:38). The attentive reader of Scripture will hear echoes of Israel as Son of God (Ex. 4:22; Hos. 11:1) and Davidic kings (Ps. 2). Like Israel before him, Jesus, the Son of God, goes through water to begin his spiritual journey (Luke 3:21; cp. Exod. 14, 15). In the wilderness and under trial Jesus proves himself to be the obedient Son unlike Israel who failed in the wilderness (Exod. 14-17; 32-34; Num. 11).
The whole story is ruined if another dimension is added to the story, namely that the Son of God was already a preexisting member of an eternal Trinity. Gabriel has carefully defined the nature of Jesus' Sons hip and his words exclude any origin other than a supernatural origin in Mary.
Gabriel's Jesus, Son of God - the biblical Son - originates in Mary. He is conceived and begotten by miracle. In preexistence Christology, the main plank of Trinitarianism, a conception/begetting in Mary's womb does not bring about the existence of God's Son. According to Gabriel it does. Neither Gabriel nor Luke could possibly have been Trinitarians
The Angel Says...
No need for centuries of complex wrangling over words. All that is required is belief of the angelic communication: "For this reason precisely (dio kai)-the creative miracle of God through His divine power - the child will be Son of God." For no other reason, for this reason only. (Note the very watered-down rendering of the NIV, "so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.") Jesus as Son of God is "the Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32; 8:28). Christians are also given this title, "sons of the Most High" (Luke 6:35; cp. Ps. 82:6). Jesus' royal Sonship is established by his miraculous begetting. That of the Christians originates with their rebirth or regeneration.
As the center of a new ecumenism the simple truth about the identity and nature of Christianity's central figure has the backing of those many scholars who know well that neither Luke nor Matthew show any sign of believing in a prehuman eternal Son of God of the post-biblical creeds. Raymond Brown's magisterial treatment of the birth narratives in his Birth of the Messiah makes a major point of the fact that neither Matthew nor Luke believed in the Incarnation of a pre-human, prehistoric Son.
Commenting on Luke 1:35, "therefore," Raymond Brown says, "of the nine times dio kai occurs in the New Testament, three are in Luke/Acts. It involves a certain causality and Lyonnet (in his L'Annonciation, 61.6) points out that this has embarrassed many orthodox theologians since in preexistence Christology a conception by the holy spirit in Mary's womb does not bring about the existence of God's son. Luke is seemingly unaware of such a Christology; conception is causally related to divine Sonship for him...And so I cannot follow those theologians who try to avoid the causal connotation in the 'therefore' which begins this line, by arguing that for Luke the conception of the child does not bring the Son of God into being."
Raymond Brown insists that according to Luke, 'We are dealing with the begetting of God's Son in the womb of Mary through God's creative spirit." Ill "Orthodoxy" derived from later Church Councils has to turn a blind eye to Gabriel's definition of the Son of God. It contradicted Gabriel by denying that the conception of Jesus brought about his existence as Son of God.
This is a very serious issue. Is the Jesus of the creeds, the Jesus under whose umbrella churches gather, really the created Son authorized by Scripture in Luke 1:35 and Matthew 1:18, 20?
Again, the exhaustive work of Brown on the birth narratives brings us the important fact that the Jesus of the Gospels is quite unlike the "eternally begotten" Son of the later creeds:
"Matthew and Luke press [the question of Jesus' identity] back to Jesus' conception. In the commentary I shall stress that Matthew and Luke show no knowledge of preexistence; seemingly for them the conception was the becoming (begetting) of God's Son (p". 31).
"The fact that Matthew can speak of Jesus as 'begotten' (passive of gennan) suggests that for him the conception through the agency of the Holy Spirit is the becoming of God's Son. [In Matthew's and Luke's 'conception Christology'] God's creative action in the conception of Jesus begets Jesus as God's Son...There is no suggestion of an Incarnation whereby a figure who was previously with God takes on flesh. For preexistence Christology [Incarnation], the conception of Jesus is the beginning of an earthly career but not the begetting of God's Son. [Later] the virginal conception was no longer seen as the begetting of God's Son, but as the incarnation of God's Son, and that became orthodox Christian doctrine. This thought process is probably already at work at the beginning of the second century" (pp. 140-142).
Do we really believe the words of the Bible or has our tradition made it difficult to hear the text of Scripture without the interfering voices of later tradition? There is the constant danger for us believers that the words of the Bible can be drowned out by the clamorous and sometimes threatening words of ecclesiastical teaching, which mostly goes unexamined. At stake here is the whole nature of the Savior. Is he really a human being, or did he have the benefit of billions of years of conscious existence before deciding to become a man? Is this latter picture anything more than a legendary addition to Apostolic faith.
Who Defines the Son of God?
The Son of God, Messiah and Savior, is defined in precise theological terms by Gabriel, laying the foundation of the whole New Testament and fulfilling the promises of the Old. Christians should unite around that clear portrait of Jesus presented by Gabriel. Jesus is the Son of God on one basis only, his miraculous coming into existence in Mary's womb. This was God's creative act, initiating His new creation and providing the model of Christian Sonship for us all.
Though obviously we are not, like Jesus, brought into existence supernaturally, nevertheless we, like him, are to receive a supernatural birth from spirit being born again under the influence of the Gospel promise (Gal. 3:2; Eph. 1:13, 14; Rom. 10:17; Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:11, 12; 1 Pet. 1:23-25; James 1:18). The "divine" nature of Jesus has no other foundation than the stupendous miracle granted to Mary and to humanity. A Jesus who claims to be Son of God for any other reason should be rejected. A natural son of Joseph cannot qualify as the Messiah, nor can a per son whose existence did not originate in his mother's womb by a divine creative miracle.
The constitution of Jesus as the unique Son of God is given its basis by the superb words of Gabriel in Luke 1:35. This definition of the Messiah, Son of God, should be allowed to stand. It was later, post-biblical tradition which interfered with the definitive, revealing statement of Gabriel. Once Jesus was turned into a preexisting Son of God who gave up one conscious existence for another, Christology immediately became problematic (as witnessed by the centuries of disputes, excommunications, and fierce dogmatic decisions of Church Councils).
A Son of God who is already Son of God before his conception in his mother is a personage essentially non-human. Under that revised scheme what came into existence in Mary was not the Son of God at all, but a created human nature added to an already existing Person. But Gabriel describes the creation of the Son of God himself, not the creation of a human nature added to an already existing Son. The two models are quite different.
Some may object that John 1:1ff ("in the beginning was the Word. ..") present us with a second Personage who is alive before his conception. If that it is to be argued, let it be clear that John would then be in contradiction of Luke and Matthew. Matthew's and Luke's Jesus comes into existence as the Son of God, not in eternity, but some six months later than his cousin John the Baptist.
John cannot have contradicted Luke and Matthew. The solution is to harmonize John with Luke, taking our stand with Luke. John did not write, "In the beginning was the Son of God." What he wrote was "In the beginning was the word” (not Word, but word).
Logos in Greek does not describe a person before the birth of the Son. The logos is the self-expressive intelligence and mind of the One God. Logos often carries the sense of plan or promise. That promise of a Son was indeed in the beginning.
The Son, however, was still the object of the promise in II Samuel 7:14. David did not imagine that the promised Son of God ("My Son"), David's descendant, was already in existence! That Son was in fact begotten in due time. He was "raised up" - that is, made to appear on the scene of human history - when Mary conceived him. Acts 13:33 applies "this day I have begotten you" (Ps. 2:7) to the origin of the Son in his mother.
F.F. Bruce agrees with us: God "raised up" Jesus "in the sense in which he raised up David (Acts 13:22, cp. 3:22, 7:37). The promise of Acts 13:23, the fulfillment of which is here described [v. 33], has 'to do with the sending of Messiah, not his resurrection which is described in verse 34" (Acts of the Apostles, Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, p. 269).
The word, plan and promise which existed from the beginning was also "with God." In the wisdom literature of the Bible things are said to be "with God" when they exist as decrees and promises in His divine Plan Job 27:13; 10:13; 23:14). Wisdom was also "with God" (Prov. 8:22,30) in the beginning but she was not a person. Neither was the logos a person, but rather a promise and plan. So closely identified with God was His word that John can say "the word was God." The word was the creative purpose of God, in promise and later in actuality. That creative presence of God eventually emerged in history as the Son of God begotten in Mary, the unique Son (monogenes).
A number of unfortunate attempts have been made to force John not only into contradiction with the clear Christology of Matthew and Luke but into agreement with the much later decisions of Church Councils. There is no capital on "word" in John 1:1, a, b, and c. And there is no justification for reading "All things were made through Him." That rendering improperly leads us to think of the word as a second divine Person, rather than the mind and promise of God.
Eight English translations before the KJV did not read "All things were made by Him." They read "All things were made by it," a much more natural way of referring to the word of God. Thus, for example, the Geneva Bible of 1602: "All things were made by it and without it was made nothing that was made." No one reading those words would imagine that there was a Son in heaven before his birth. And no one would find in John a view of the Son different from the portrait presented by Gabriel in Luke.
Christian tradition from the second century embarked on an amazing embellishment of the biblical story which obscured Jesus' Messianic Sonship and humanity. Once the Son was given a pre-history as coequal and coessential with his Father, the unity of God was threatened and monotheism was compromised, though every effort was made to conceal this with the protest that God was still one, albeit no longer one Person, the Father, but one "Essence," comprising more than one Person. But this was a dangerous shift into Greek philosophical categories alien to the New Testament's Hebrew theology and creeds (cp. John 17:3; 5:44; Mark 12:28ff).
Several other "adjustments" became necessary under the revised doctrine of God. John was made to say in certain other verses what he did not say. This trend is well illustrated by the New International Version in John 13:3,16:28 and 20:17. In none of these passages does the original say that Jesus was going back to God. In the first two Jesus spoke of his intention to "go to the Father" and in the last of his "ascending" to his Father. The NIV embellishes the story by telling us that Jesus was going back or returning to God.
A Son whose existence is traced to his mother's womb cannot go back to the Father, since he has never before been with the Father.
In John 17:5 Jesus spoke of the glory which he "had" before the foundation of the world. But in the same context (vv. 22 and 24) that same glory has already "been given" (past tense) to disciples not yet born at the time when Jesus spoke.
It is clear then that the glory which both Jesus and the disciples "had" is a glory in promise and prospect. Jesus thus prays to have conferred on him at his ascension the glory which God had undertaken to give him from the foundation of the world. John speaks in Jewish fashion of a preexisting Purpose, not a preexisting second Person. Our point was well expressed by a distinguished Lutheran New Testament professor, H.H. Wendt (The System of Christian Teaching, 1907):
"It is clear that John 8:58 ['Before Abraham was I am'] and 17:5 do not speak of a real preexistence of Christ. We must not treat these verses in isolation, but understand them in their context.
"The saying in John 8:58, 'Before Abraham came to be, I am' was prompted by the fact that Jesus' opponents had countered his remark in v. 51 by saying that Jesus was not greater than Abraham or the prophets (v. 52). As the Messiah commissioned by God Jesus is conscious of being in fact superior to Abraham and the prophets. For this reason he replies (according to the intervening words, v. 54ff) that Abraham had 'seen his day,' i.e., the entrance of Jesus on his historical ministry, and 'had rejoiced to see' that day.
"And Jesus strengthens his argument by adding the statement, which sounded strange to the Jews, that he had even been 'before Abraham' (v. 58). This last saying must be understood in connection with v. 56. Jesus speaks in vv. 55, 56 and 58 as if his present ministry on earth stretches back to the time of Abraham and even before. His sayings were perceived by the Jews in this sense and rejected as nonsense.
"But Jesus obviously did not (in v. 56) mean that Abraham had actually experienced Jesus' appearance on earth and seen it literally. Jesus was referring to Abraham's spiritual vision of his appearance on earth, by which Abraham, at the birth of Isaac, had foreseen at the same time the promised Messiah, and had rejoiced at the future prospect of the greater one (the Messiah) who would be Israel's descendant.
"Jesus' reference to his existence before Abraham's birth must be understood in the same sense. There is no sudden heavenly preexistence of the Messiah here: the reference is again obviously to his earthly existence. And this earthly existence is precisely the existence of the Messiah. As such, it was not only present in Abraham's mind, but even before his time, as the subject of God's foreordination and foresight.
"The sort of preexistence Jesus has in mind is 'ideal' [in the world of ideas and plans]. In accordance with this consciousness of being the Messiah preordained from the beginning, Jesus can indeed make the claim to be greater than Abraham and the prophets.
"In John 17:5 Jesus asks the Father to give him now the heavenly glory which he had with the Father before the world was. The conclusion that because Jesus possessed a preexistent glory in heaven he must also have preexisted personally in heaven is taken too hastily. This is proven by Matt. 6:20 ('Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven'), 25:34 ('Come, you blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'), Col. 1:5 ('the hope which is laid up for you in heaven about which you heard in the word of Truth, the Gospel'), and I Pet. 1:4 ('an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, which does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you').
"Thus a reward can also be thought of as preexistent in heaven. Such a reward is destined for human beings and already held in store, to be awarded to them at the end of their life. So it is with heavenly glory which Jesus requests. He is not asking for a return to an earlier heavenly condition. Rather he asks God to give him now, at the end of his work as Messiah on earth (v. 4), the heavenly reward which God had appointed from eternity for him, as Messiah. As the Messiah and Son he knows he has been loved and foreordained by the Father from eternity (v. 24). Both John 8:58 and 17:5 are concerned with God's predetermination of the Messiah" (cp. Teaching of Jesus, pp. 453-460).
Note: Things which are held in store as divine plans for the future are said to be "with God." Thus in Job 10:13 Job says to God, "These things you have concealed in your heart: I know that this is with You" (see KJV). "He performs what is appointed for me, and many such decrees are with Him" Gob 23:14).
Thus the glory which Jesus had "with God" was the glory which God had planned for him as the decreed reward for his Messianic work now completed. The promise of glory "preexisted," not Jesus himself.
Note that this same glory which Jesus asked for has already been given to you ( see John 17:22, 24). It was given to you and Jesus whom God loved before the foundation of the world (v. 24; cp. Eph. 1:4). You may therefore say that you now "have" that glory although it is glory in promise and prospect, to be gained at the Second Coming. Jesus had that same glory in prospect before the foundation of the world John 17:5).
Paul can say that we now "have" a new body with God in heaven (II Cor. 5:1) - i.e., we have the promise of it, not in actuality. That body will be ours at our resurrection at the return of Christ. We now "have" it in anticipation and promise only. ('We have a building of God..." II Cor. 5:1). We do not in fact have it yet. This is the very Jewish language of promises decreed by God. They are absolutely certain to be fulfilled.
The Master Key for Demystifying Trinitarian Dogma
William G MacDonald
When theological peelers pare down the skins of the onion as far as they can, advocates and critics alike agree that the integer, three, constitutes the indispensable core of the Trinitarian teaching on God. Consequently, for centuries Christian apologists have operated on the assumption that it is first necessary to convince Jews and Muslims that God is three before being able to preach the gospel to them. In order to do that the teacher must lay the Bible aside and educate the seeker with an unfamiliar nomenclature emitting an odor of philosophical mystery the conceptual tools needed to understand the Trinitarian configuration of God: three, triune, persons, ingenerateness, generation, procession, spiration, First Person, Second Person, Third Person, tres hypostaseis; mia ousia; tres personae; una substantia; the divine substance [the essence that neither generates nor is generated-Fourth Lateran Council, 1215], subsistence ["the mode by which substance becomes individualized"], one principle, ad intra relations; ad extra relations, circumincession [reciprocal existence of three persons in each other], perichoresis, efflux, ex Deo Deus, diairesis ['division'], trinity.
Of these basic 24 dogmatic building blocks, none occurs that way anywhere in the Bible, nor is the trinity taught using other plain words by the prophets, Jesus, or the apostles. To the conscientious interpreter with both ears wedged in tight between the pages of the open Bible, this absence of both the component terms and the concept gives him pause.
With simplicity of revelation the books of the Bible present univocally the integer one as the only revealed number of the God, of whom there can be neither plurality nor fractions of himself This truth of God's sublime singularity was what Israel was taught to "hear" (the 'Shema') before they received God's commands and taught them to their children (Deut 6:4-9). That oneness-of-God revelation was maintained consistently throughout the Old Testament (1 Sam 2:2-Yahveh; 2 Sam 22:32-Yahveh; Zech 12:9-Yahveh). Yahveh is one, and this, his name, occurs there 6,007 times-always is singular as well as in thousands of singular pronouns and singular verbs; is always anarthrous; and is always a proper noun, naming personally the one true God. Moreover, he remains the same God revealed in the New Testament as the father of his human son, our Lord Jesus Christ. By Jesus' full endorsement of the Mosaic Shema ('Hear'- Mark 12:29, quoting Deut 6:4), he attested the truth of God's definitive oneness. In addition there are seven more specific New Testament confirmations of the truth that God forever remains "one" (Rom 3:30; 1 Cor 8:4,6; Gal 3:20; Eph 4:6; 1 Tim 2:5; James 2:19). No higher number ever appears anywhere in authentic biblical texts to be harmonized with the ubiquitous and consistent "one."
Where, therefore, did Trinitarian architects get the theory's triple towers that protrude upward like three turrets of moist sand of a seaside castle poured from philosophical containers, including the sandy sets of triads (ingenerate, generate, proceeding; First Person, Second Person, Third Person) if holy Scripture has only "one"-never three- and makes no attempt at trinitizing? The apologists who faced the world with the gospel proclaimed what the educated Greeks considered to be "an absurdity" (1 Cor I: 23), the crucifixion of the human son of the invisible God, the son who was the life-giver and future judge of all mankind. Some of those emerging theologians [men with one foot in philosophy and one foot in the revealed faith] discovered they could take the edge off the scandal of "Christ crucified" if, disregarding Colossians 2:8, they adopted the contemporary world's concept of God as the protected shelter for their position, and do so by adapting their teaching to it, creating a "theology" of God, draped in philosophical bunting. Then Christian theology could gain a respected status by reformulation as a variant of classical philosophy.
Therefore, if not from the Bible, where within philosophy did the creaturely notion of dividing or multiplying God into three fractions or three multiples originate? Many Trinitarians would rather leave the quest for these ominous origins in doubt and escape into manufactured mysteries than to delve into philosophical presuppositions to ascertain Trinitarian historical source(s). For those who do search, there are two long-dead Greek philosophers, Empedocles and Plato, from whose teachings building stones were quarried centuries later for reconstruction of the biblical God into a divine Being countable externally or internally up to three.
Empedocles (c. 483-423 BC) from Agrigentum, Sicily, is notorious for having been the first philosopher to divide the supreme God into parts. He believed that many could be one God and the one many. Empedodes "many" consisted of six gods, of which the first four are well known as the four elements. The six that made up his concept of god were these: fire, water, earth, air, and apart from them, destructive strife, and in the midst of them, love. Each deity had its own divine authority by turns, but at times they were mutual in one another. Empedocles taught that literally everything has an "efflux," that every substance emits its own 'flow away' (aporroe), and by its efflux as it flows out and returns to itself it becomes perceptible to the mind. A fountain flowing up and falling back on itself illustrated his efflux. Athenagoras, a Greek apologist of the late second century (AD 127-190) who settled in Alexandria, was the first to apply Empedocles' principle in. such a way as to assert the spirit of God was God's efflux.
Plato (427-347 BC, being about four years old when Empedocles died), was the second Greek philosopher to divide or multiply the supreme God, not keeping any of Empedocles' six, although he quoted him freely. Plato had divided all reality into two parts (a dualism of spirit and matter). In the spiritual realm, he construed God to subsist of three parts in a descending order of being, in what constituted a hierarchy of deity. Here then, was Plato's deep well from which adoring theologians would later draw three components of deity:
Being, ho On, the supreme God [lit., 'the Being' (mas_) or 'Being-himself];
Nous or logos, the mediating principle of, mind' or 'word';
psyche, the world soul" (Timaeus 28-30)
This Platonic analysis of God as if he were a divisible creature characterized theology in the East, having been established by Origen (AD. 185-255), who wrote the first systematic theology, and it continued through many restatements on Platonic assumptions for several more centuries as the recognized way of trinitizing.
The heights of the official conversion of the Platonic temple into a cathedral with three naves were achieved in the fourth century after Christianity suddenly became the religion of the Roman empire. At the state-run Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) belief in one God was broken down to fit the three philosophically acceptable categories of separate divine being, now substituting other terms: the Father Almighty, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit. The Father was called "one God"; [Origen' s] eternal Son was called, "God of God"; but the title God was not yet assigned to the third-ranked Holy Spirit, who was named as an object of belief Following the Council of Nicaea, the great task for the designers of philosophical garments to robe the God of the Bible was to stitch in enough gold threads of deity on the Holy Spirit's hypostasis to give divine attire to produce recognition as God; and then there would be three, even if the second and third hypostases were subordinate to the first. This new need to prove the deity of "the spirit of God" (Gen 1 :2; Rom 8:9) was never a necessity until, unlike and apart from holy Scripture, God's spirit became separated on the design-cutting table to be a third entity to match Plato's third level of deity. The next 56 years until the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) would be spent battling over whether Plato's three divisions could be sustained by positing the Spirit as that third entity, equivalent to his world-soul.
Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory of Nyssa, three "Origerust" Cappadocians, were responsible for at last establishing the deity of the Spirit, considered by them to be a distinct hypostasis-unlike God's name, hand, or glory. For those with comparable Platonic presuppositions, the most convincing argument was advanced by Gregory of Nazianzus. He denied the Spirit was either generate (like the Son) or ingenerate (like the Father). Rather, reaching back into Origen's philosophical bag of more than a century before, he discovered the term, "proceed," that his mentor had applied to the Spirit, but had done little to develop.
Proceed in Origen means basically the same as generate, but because it was not the identical term, it could evade all the objections brought by those in opposition to inventing shadow hypostases to fill out and sacralize Plato's system. Gregory, like Methodius of the preceding century, used Eve who was not born as his model of procession. This term cleared away the objection that if indeed, God was three, there must be either two generate Sons, or two ingenerate Fathers, or two First Principles [the Father and the Spirit].
From the Council of Constantinople (AD. 381) onward, procession became indispensable to all trinitizing, and the term was incorporated into what is now called the Nicene Creed. Thus a tertiary kind of being by procession in/of God was established that enabled the retention of:
1. the Spirit as a separate hypostasis [alias 'person' in western theology];
2. the Spirit as being fully divine, because procession was construed to be a special process of divine origination above creation and different, however slightly, from generation that could only produce a Son, and different from ingenerateness, which could subsist as an hypostasis and produce hypostases but could not be produced.
What the Council of Constantinople, and the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) that reaffirmed it, could not fix was the subordination of the second and third hypostases to the first. The Arian movement gives evidence that subordination was apparent from the time of Origen' s makeover of God onward in the East. To keep the threeness but eliminate the subordination always implicit in Platonism, a move was made in the West into Neoplatonism. The champion of this was the philosopher, Aurelius Augustinus, who began to construct his equalized trinity based on the Neoplatonic divine "essence" rather than on Being himself, the Father, as was done in the eastern creeds. The historian, Wolfson, made the following incisive analysis:
The godhood, called essence or substance-terms Augustine used in the sense in which the Stoics used ousia [i.e., substratum]-is considered by him to be the common substratum of all three persons.
Augustine's approach diverged widely horn that of Origen and the Cappadocians who always accorded ontological priority to the Father and secondary and tertiary places for the Son and Spirit respectively. The shift in theorizing divine originations made by Augustine can be accounted for philosophically as the difference between Platonism (Origen's base) that had a supreme Being with subordinate expressions, and Neoplatonism (Augustine's base) that was quite pantheistic and substance-oriented, so that everything inhered in one essence. The pertinent work, Peri ton Trion Archikon Hypostasion ('Concerning the Three Subsisting Beings') was not a Trinitarian treatise of the third century, but the title of Book 1 of the fifth Ennead [Gk. 'set of nine'] written by the pagan, Plotinus (AD. 205-270). He was the chief philosopher expounding Neoplatonism, which had admixed Stoicism and therefore had become pantheistic. Plotinus' three subsisting beings consisted of being-itself, mind, and soul-all eternally generated out of the one pervasive substance. From his reading of Plot in us, Augustine learned the theory of Neoplatonism, on which his newly conceived trinity is founded, and by which philosophy he also factored out the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church.
There could be no one-person-over-another subordination in Augustine's view that conceived of the subsistence of all three persons similarly out of the one divine substance. But his trinity made all three persons subordinate to the one divine essence or substance. In order to make that equalized three, Augustine postulated the Neoplatonic one divine essence at the point of God's self-origination, but as critics are quick to point out, there are now four distinctions in play in an equation of: 1 + 3 = 4 (a quaternity). Ironically, while Augustine tried to equalize the three persons, his philosophical system can be construed-if one forgets its pantheistic essences aggrandizing the spirit as synonymous with the divine essence but also subsisting as person.
Within about 40 years after the fall of Rome (AD. 476) when the Dark Ages began, the dogma of the trinity was finalized and spelled out in full in the so-called Athanasian Creed that demands belief in the trinity as a condition of salvation, which stipulation is reflected in the creed's Latin title taken horn its opening words, Quicunque Vult (' Whoever wishes [to be saved]'). It took 500 years after the close of biblical revelation to restructure Yahveh as a tripartite or triple Being in conformity to the prevailing philosophies of those centuries. It took another 500 years for the state church to split (A.D. 1054) over the source of origination of the third hypostasis or persona needed to complete the Platonic total of three. In the East the Spirit was last, least, and the lowest gradation of divine being, having been originated out of the Father alone. In the West, the Spirit as trinitized in the Athanasian Creed (lines 24-25) is not before or after or greater than another but coequal among the three persons. Filioque ('and the Son'), the term the western church added to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed epitomizes the persisting Trinitarian barrier between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which denied the insertion of this term.' Augustine, while affirming the generation of the Son and the procession of the Spirit, asserted repeatedly in his De Trinitate that the Spirit's procession was from the Father and the Son as by one principle. Instead of merely saying from the Father and from the Son, he conceived a Neoplatonic coalescence in one principle of the Father and Son. The Orthodox Church, building on the Father alone cannot accept the Filioque without causing their traditional Platonic system to collapse. It should not be thought that the deadlock between the two enormous religious bodies is over the interpretation of the Scripture because there is not a sentence in the Bible stating or implying that God's spirit could ever originate or proceed into being in any form, or succession, by any route, or from any source.
The formulation of the trinity hinges on dogmatic separations of God into three coequal persons, "acknowledg[ing] each person by himself' (Athanasian Creed, line 19) in the West, and the extensions from the Father of two separate, subordinate hypostases in the East. The calcified statement of Trinitarianism, the Athanasian Creed, which is thoroughly Augustinian, emerged around the beginning of the sixth century, about 150 years after Athanasius, and reveals the three indispensable theses structuring the trinity, detailing the only differences of persons as being how each originated. The traditional formulators found two originations in/of God, forming two ontological extensions of God as is evident in its three most revealing lines:
20 The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten by anybody.
21 The Son was not made or created, but was begotten by the Father.
22 The Holy Spirit was not made or created or begotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son.
From the standpoint of biblical revelation, attribution of any kind of origination to God, eternal or sequential, partial or total, is preposterous, creature-oriented, fatuous. Such a predication of origins-even in the form of Origen' s oxymoron, eternal generation-is the mark of speculation by creatures who cannot escape their finitude and consciousness of their own origination. Only creation in its various forms originates by the hand of the eternal God. People are originated by God, but God does not originate himself (in parts 2 and 3), except in Trinitarian drafting rooms. To be a Trinitarian one must believe that Yahveh replicated himself twice over in diminishing editions each time, or as with Augustine, that the one divine essence became subsistent in three equal personal editions. None of this assumed compounding of God by God rises above human fantasy. It qualifies for censure under the apostolic denunciation of "philosophy and hollow deceit" (CoI.2:8), just as the childish question of how God originated ranks among those "foolish and undisciplined questions" that are disallowed (2 Tim 2:23).
Trinitarians often add the trinity to their original faith in the gospel, assuming that surely this grandiose glimpse at God's self-birthing must be taught somewhere in the Bible if they would only read it all the way through. Most Trinitarians who have not questioned this accretion to the biblical faith are preconditioned to accept it, however nebulous it may seem to them, because of two trinitizers outside the ordained ministry: (1) the editors of Bible translations who elevate their translation by making all the assumed Persons to walk into the scene on stilts-using a plethora of capital letters, as "the Spirit of God" or "Holy Spirit" (in which even the adjective becomes personalized as if it were a first name). (2) Hymn writers are tempted to include the trinity in their music even though they do not know its source, assuming the trinity adds profundity, mystery, and a grace note of orthodoxy to their entire hymn. The composer of today' s most popular hymn to the trinity, 'Holy Holy Holy," was Reginald Heber, who almost 200 years ago wrote the repetitious catechismal retrain in verses one and four, "God in three persons, blessed Trinity," from which only two of the key words, "God" and "blessed," came from Scripture: Heber, like the Mormons, conceived of the three "persons" as bodily beings, manifested as individual persons already in the Old Testament. In commenting on Daniel 10:4-14 he identified "the man, dressed in linen with a belt of the finest gold around his waist" as the "appearance of the Holy Ghost in human form." Moreover, "Michael, one of the chief princes" (Dan 10: 13) who assisted the "man," (alias, Holy Ghost), was identified by Heber as none other than Christ. For those in the high (i.e., liturgical and sacerdotal) church tradition, there is a third influence-the liturgical calendar that eight weeks after Easter enshrines Trinity Sunday, in which the Trinitarian colors (white that day, followed by green for the next 25 Sundays of the Trinity series leading up to Advent) are displayed.
How many ministers there are who hold creedally to the trinity but have only vague ideas about its source in pagan philosophy (read Plato and Plotinus) no one knows. But what is known is that thousands of these ignore the illogical, nonbiblical three by retreating into the squishy marsh of mystery where the average believer cannot trace their tracks. Now the Bible does speak of "the mystery of God" and immediately presents its resolution as being "Christ, in whom are concealed all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:2-3). Trinitarianism denies that "the mystery of God" has ever been revealed to believers and wraps the winding cloth of musty fourth- and fifth-century tradition around its arcane three, demonstrating to all that this view of God is not Bible-based but depends on other ancient sources. The downgrading effect of mystifying Yahveh officially as three Persons with one consciousness [or as in ever-popular tritheism: three Persons each with self-consciousness], or conversely as one Person with a triple self-consciousness is-any way the distinctions are drawn-a dark distortion of God, foreign to the prophets and apostles, and not applicable to the one Jesus meant when he said, "Yahveh our God is one" (Mark 12:29), and called him, "my father ... my God" (John 20: 17). For Bereans (Acts 17: 11), not the mists of mystery, not the traditions of men, but the Scripture as cited by Jesus is decisive for a true view of God.
To begin the study of doctrine by inhaling the pagan miasma of mystery, and not confessing the trinity's place of origin in philosophy, all the while propounding two origins in God, is to undermine the certainty of the biblical doctrines that are well grounded in holy Scripture and do not descend down the Platonic stairs or hover over the pantheistic ground of being. Any formal confession of the Trinitarian dogma requires logically that just as Karl Barth did the determinative three would be the mold into which all the rest of revelation is to be poured. The only position into which the trinity, whether the eastern or western version, will fit in a theology is as the dominant one, taking precedence over the word of God. By the beginning of the Dark Ages the dogma of the trinity had achieved that high status in the state church. In this continuing twilight there arose just a century later a new religion that would begin its call to faith, shouting, "Allah is one." Allah, who has no son, competes to occupy the position of "one God" vacated by official Christendom for philosophical correctness. Every false religion needs some element of truth to make it believable, and especially so if that truth is corrective of ensconced Views.
Being spiritual all the way to his depths, the one God of the Bible, Yahveh is indivisible as "one spirit" (l Cor 12:9,11,13 [twice]; Eph 2:18; 4:4). That truth must be "spiritually discerned" (l Cor. 2: 14). If not, it is possible to commit the error of severing God in thought wit a philosophical cleaver as if he were a created substance, i.e., flesh, and not spirit. To mention God by mentioning his spirit (Num 11 :29; Psa. 139:7-10) is to use a Hebraic terminological redundancy because in the simplest terms, just as Jesus taught, "God is spirit" (John 4:24). As "spirit" Yahveh cannot be divided or multiplied like a Stoic substance, for there is "one spirit" who is God, and who has never proceeded into being but does proceed to believers who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That procession is the story of the Bible when all is told.
 Roy K. Hatch, God in Greek Philosophy to the Time of Socrates (Princeton: Princeton Dniv., 1931), p. 94.
 Hatch, GGPTS, p.95
 L. W. Barnard, "God the Logos, the Spirit, and the Trinity in the Theology of Athenagoras," Studia Theologica 24 (1970): 90.
 Levi L Paine, A Critical History of the Evolution of Trinitarianism (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1900), p_ 88.
 Gregory the theologian, Oratia XXX1- Theologica 5. 7-8 (Migne, PG 36 140C-141B).
 Harry A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers (Cambridge: Harvard Dniv., 1956), p.353.
 Augustine, De Trinitate 5.14 (Migne, PL 42.8921).
 The spuriously offered 'proof text, John 15:26, has nothing to do with an origination of God's spirit but promises God's giving of the spirit to believers in Christ
 Reginald Heber, The Personality and Office of the Christian Comforter (Oxford: University Press, 1816), pp 258-271. Hebrews 1 :4-6 is the best criterion for refuting Heber's strained identification of Jesus with an archangel.
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Armageddon: Place or Event?
Is there a literal place called Armageddon? If there is, where is it? If Armageddon is not a literal place, then what is it? First, let's look at what it is or is not.
Pentecost (p. 340) and others, especially the pretribbers, call it a campaign. " It has been held commonly that the battle of Armageddon is an isolated event transpiring just prior to the Second Advent of Christ to the earth. The extent of this great movement in which God deals with 'the kings of the earth and the whole world' (Rev. 16: 14) will not be seen unless it is realized that the 'battle . . . is not an isolated battle, but rather a campaign that extends over the last half of the tribulation period.'" Pentecost defends his belief by showing that the Greek word polemos is used to denote "battle" (Rev. 16: 14) and notes that it "signifies a war or campaign, while mache signifies a battle, and sometimes even single combat." Strong's Dictionary further says that polemos is the war and mache signifies the battles that make up the war. Pentecost further observes that "this distinction is observed by Trench (New Testament Synonyms), and is followed by Thayer (Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament) and Vincent (Word Studies in the New Testament). The use of the word polemos (campaign) in Rev. 16:14 would signify that the events that culminate in the gathering at Armageddon at the Second Advent are viewed by God as one connected campaign. On the other hand Gundry (pp. 28-29) and others hold that regardless of all the events leading to Armageddon that might qualify it as a campaign, it is viewed by God as a final, single battle signaling the end of the age. "A reading of Revelation 16: 12-16; 17: 14; 19: 11-21 shows that least in this book of the Bible, the Battle of Armageddon is just that—a battle, not a war taking place over a more or less prolonged period in the last part of the tribulation (as taught by some pretribulationists). These texts indicate that the battle will take place right at Jesus' coming after the tribulation.' Regardless of whether it is a "campaign" or a "battle", evidence tends to point to the latter. Stewart (p. 2) says that it is "more an event than it is a place. It is ' the battle of that great day of God Almighty'" (Rev. 16: 14).
As far as "where" Armageddon is, if we could attach a location to this battle, where would it be? Again, referring to Stewart (p. 2), "As a location it relates to the mount of Megiddo, in the northern part of Israel. It also relates to Meggido, a city located in the Valley of Jezreel (also called the Plain of Esdraelon).
A Brief History
These sites are very important to understanding just what Armageddon is and where it will take place. The "mount" or "hill" of Megiddo lies west of the River Jordan in north central Palestine, about ten miles north of Nazareth and fifteen to twenty miles inland from the Mediterranean seacoast. Before it on the east is an extended plain on which many of Israel's battles have been fought. Pentecost (p. 341) quotes Vincent as saying, "Megiddo was in the plain of Esdraelon, which has been a chosen place of encampment in every contest carried on in Palestine from the days of Nabuchodnozzor, king of Assyria, unto the disastrous march of Napoleon Bonaparte from Egypt to Syria." Haggith (p. 309) says that It was likely that upon Har-Mageddo that Elijah the prophet bested the false prophets of Jezreel, calling down fire from heaven to burn a water-sodden sacrifice . . . and it was here that at Megiddo that a young Jewish king wrested control of the land back from the conquering Assyrians . . . Perhaps the king's first great battle, which led to a spiritual victory for Israel, is the reason this site is chosen for the final battle."
Walvoord in his article in Foreshadows of Wrath and Redemption, p. 346, says that "Megiddo is designated the Tell El Mutesellim in the Plain of Esdraelon. At one time it was a city of massive fortifications and an important city for the Canaanites until Israel took it over about 1100 B.C." In 1 Kings 9: 15; 10: 26-29 we find that it was one of Solomon's chariot towns and included huge horse stables, a governor's palace, and a complicated water system. This ancient walled city rested on top of the hill called Megiddo where it controlled one of the most important military/trade routes of ancient history. According to Haggith (p. 308) it lay halfway on the route between Egypt and Assyria, at a crossroads less than one hundred miles from Jerusalem. In fact, Lambert Dolphin (p. 1) describes it as being at the "crossroads of the crossroads' where the ancient Via Maris (Way of the Sea) crosses the central transverse highway of Israel." As already noted, the city overlooks the Valley of Jezreel, the "breadbasket of Israel" and served as a strategic command post for control of the entire area for many centuries. As a result, the Valley of Jezreel was bathed in blood from one imperial conquest to another.
We need to consider two very important issues here. First is the fact that Jerusalem is actually the focus of the battle of Armageddon and that Megiddo is 55 miles north. Thus, we may conclude that Megiddo and the Valley of Jezreel is the staging area for millions of multinational troops. Haifa, located at the west end of the valley is the ideal and logical seaport for major troop landings. Second, we must determine who is fighting whom in this battle. Megiddo, as we shall see, is very important in prophecy as the central point for the great armies that will participate in Armageddon.
Where Do We Get the Word "Armageddon"?
The word "Armageddon" is mentioned only once in the book of Revelation (Rev. 16: 14). There are several theories about the origin of the word "Armageddon" so let's look at a couple of them. The prevailing theory is that the word is that it comes from the Hebrew Har-Megiddo (mountain of Megiddo). Revelation 16: 16 says, "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Walvoord, writing in Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crises (p. 182) says that the word is formed from the Hebrew word "arm" meaning mountain, and "Megiddo" which refers to a location in northern Palestine. However, on page 346 in Foreshadows of Wrath and Redemption, he says that it is the Aramaic translation of"the Mountain of Megiddo."
What is important to notice is that according to Rev. 16:16 that the term is interpreted in the "Hebrew tongue." Hebrew is the language of Modern Israel so we can conclude that at the time this prophecy is fulfilled it will again be a modern language, as it is today in Israel. So, "Armageddon" in the Hebrew is a compound of three words: Arema (a heap of sheaves), gai (valley), and dun (judgment). Putting these all together we get "A heap of sheaves in a valley of judgment. This is significant because the battle of Armageddon is described this way in Joel 3: 2, 11-13.
"I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. 11Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. 13Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great."
Armageddon and The Valley of Jehoshaphat
Several other geographical locations are involved in the so-called Armageddon campaign. We see in Joel 3: 2, 13 that the judgment is to take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Haggith (p. 363) says, "there is no known valley with this name . . ." How then, did this valley get its name? There was a Jehoshaphat in Israel's history who was king of Judah and who went to a valley in the south of Palestine to view the destruction of Edom. The Valley of Jehoshaphat, then, could refer to this valley near Edom where Jehoshaphat and his people celebrated the defeat of Edom. The meaning of the name could be enough for it means "God judges." 2 Chron. 20: 24 says that the destruction was one of total desolation for "none escaped." In Revelation the valley to which God gathers the nations for judgment is the valley of Armageddon. God calls it the "valley of decision" in Joel 3: 14. Maybe He calls it the Valley of Decision because that is where the fate of all who remain is decided.
However, Pentecost (p. 341) places the valley in an extended area east of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 39:11 speaks of the "valley of passengers". Pentecost speculates that this may refer to the same area as the Valley of Jehoshaphat because that area constituted the traveled route away from Jerusalem. Ezek. 39: 12-16 speaks of the carnage that will occur there. It will be so great that it will take seven months to bury all the dead. The name of the place will be Hamongog (the multitude of Gog) because of the multitude of Gog's people killed and buried there.
Another location of the battle is focused around Edom or Idumea because Isa. 34 and 35 picture the Lord coming from there when He returns from judgment. In addition, Jerusalem itself will be the center of conflict (Zech. 12: 2-11; 14: 2). Whatever this Valley of Jehoshaphat is or wherever it is, it seems that the battle associated with it will encompass all of Palestine. Armageddon will be the main staging area for all the troops and from there the battle will spread out to cover the entire land of Palestine (Ezek. 38: 9, 16). The carnage will be so great that the blood will flow as deep as the horses bridle for 1600 furlongs. That's about 200 miles! Christ is shown coming from Edom with blood-stained garments and Edom is south of Palestine. Thus, it appears that the Battle of Armageddon will cover an area from the Valley of Jezreel (Esdraelon or Megiddo) in the north to the Valley of Jehoshaphat to the east of Jerusalem, and on down to Edom at the extreme southern part of Palestine (Sims, The Coming War and the Rise of Russia, 7: Pentecost, Things to Come, pp, 341-42).
The Final Countdown
Before the Battle of Armageddon can take place the Middle East must become the prime hot spot in the world. It is out of the chaos of nations jockeying to gain control that a new world order will emerge setting the stage for a new ten-nation group that will superimpose its rule for a peaceful solution to a seemingly impossible situation (Walvoord, p. 27). However, the precise countdown of seven years begins with the signing of a "final" peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel. The balance of power will then concentrate in a confederacy of Middle East nations. Out of this a new international leader will emerge and impose a peace settlement between Israel and the more militant Arabs. All of this will occur without a shot being fired (Dan. 11; 21). Through his flatteries he will bring an era of peace in which will see a move toward disarmament and a major push of a new world economic system. It will only be the calm before the storm. The last three and a half years will witness a series of almost inconceivable catastrophes. According to Walvoord and other pretribbers, Russia will attack the Middle East in a final attempt to control it (Armageddon, oil, and the Middle East, p. 28). However, According to Ezek. 38-39, the Russian coalition will be supernaturally destroyed. After this the Antichrist will break the covenant (Dan. 9:27) and attempt to destroy Israel now disarmed and living in peace. The Antichrist will deify himself and command that the world worship him or die.
What will it be like in those days? According to Walvoord (p. 28-29), "The world will begin to come apart at the seams—worse than any ecologists nightmare. Acts of man, resulting in thousands of martyrs, and acts of God will combine to cause great disturbances in the world and in the solar system. Stars will fall and planets will run off course, causing chaotic changes in climate (Rev. 16: 13-14; 16: 8-9). Unnatural heat and cold, flooding and other disasters, will wipe out much of the food production of the world (Rev.6: 6-8). Great famines will cause millions to perish (Matt. 24: 7). Strange new epidemics will sweep the world, killing millions . . . As the period draws to a close, earthquakes will level the great cities of the world, and geographic upheavels will cause mountains and islands to disappear into the sea (Rev. 16: 17-20). Disaster after disaster will reduce the world population in the course of a few years to a fraction of its present billions." All these things, then, will happen in the last three and one half years of Daniel's seventieth week as the tribulation counts down to the final conflagration, the Battle of Armageddon. But who are the armies that participate in this final battle?
Pentecost (p. 342) says that there will be "four great "world powers involved in the final battle. (1) the ten kingdom federation of nations under the Beast that constitutes the final form of the fourth great world power; (2) the northern federation, Russia and her allies; (3) the kings of the East, the Asiatic peoples from beyond the Euphrates; and (4) the king of the south, a north African power or powers. Another great power must be added because of His active participation in the campaign; (5) the Lord and His armies from heaven. Ezekiel 38: 1-7 speaks of Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, and Togarmah. Traditionally, scholars have identified Gog with Russia (the Rosh of Ezek. 38 and 39).
Duck, in his article Wars and Rumors of Wars, in James' Foreshadows of Wrath and Redemption, p. 59, says that Ezekiel 38 and 39 record an amazing prophecy yet to be fulfilled. These chapter talks about a great power that scholars almost always identify as Russia, that will form a coalition of nations in the last days, and come out of the north parts to attack Israel (Ezek. 39: 16). We must keep in mind that the final war is the result of lust. Ezekiel says that this Russian leader will "think an evil thought" and attack Israel " to take a spoil and a prey" (Ezek. 38: 10, 12). His aim will be to take Israel's silver, gold, cattle, and goods (Ezek. 38: 13).
Who are Gog and Magog?
Ezekiel 38: 2 gives us a description which makes Gog sound like an individual. "Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him . . . " However, Revelation 20: 8 makes Gog sound like a kingdom in that Gog is described in connection with the four corners of the world (represented by east, south, and west—Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya, Ezek 38: 5), but especially the north: Gomer and Togarmah (Ezek. 38: 6).
Magog was a son of Japheth (Gen. 10: 2), and his lands are the lands of the north. According to Josephus (Antiq., 1: 6, 1), Magog was anciently identified with the Scythians and Meshech the Cappadocians. Gomer founded the lands the Greeks called Galatia. Tubal is apparently another tribe from the same region, and Togarmah was understood by the Jews to be the Turks, inhabitants of modern Turkey in Asia Minor. W. F. Albright said that the term Magog was a blend of Manda which was the regular Mesopotamian designation for the northern barbarians and that Gog was its equivalent. Thus, the terms Gog and Magog have exactly the same meaning as the words Keltoi or Celt. Therefore, Gog and Magog are the same barbarian northern tribes seen in the context of the "little horn" of Dan. 8: 9.
Ryrie (QuickVerse Electronic Database) says of Gog that the derivation of the word is uncertain. He speculates that it probably refers to the ruler of the people who live in Magog. Magog, he notes, was identified by Josephus as the land of the Scythians, the region north and northeast of the Black Sea and east of the Caspian Sea (now occupied by three members of the Commonwealth of Independent States: Russia, the Ukraine, and Kazakhstan). Rosh, in Ryrie's estimation, is not Russia but the area of modern Iran, and Meshech and Tubal comprise the area of modern Turkey. If this is true we cannot identify Rosh as Russia and certainly cannot connect Meshech with Moscow and Tubal with Tobolsk. An interesting Internet article by Chris Tolworthy entitled Gog and Magog and Armageddon, p. 2, includes the following analysis of Gog and Magog by Murrell G. Seldon. "Now, what about Magog. Magog was an ancient land of false gods—a place of idolatry and false worship . . . It was located above Jerusalem and may have included all or part of Syria, and it extended around the Black Sea . . . So, although this land does not exist now, it metaphorically represents a people of a land of false gods and false worship . . . So, the land of Magog would be any peoples or organization of (peoples) devoted to false worship. For example, the Bible refers to the "god of fortresses." In other words, those who put their faith in military power alone would be worshippers of a false god . . . so, on a global basis, I believe Gog of Magog means representatives of governments who have set themselves up as surrogates for false worship. Magog are their followers. So, simply stated, gogs are surrogates for false gods. They are the leaders of the people of Magog (false god worshippers). So, at the Battle of Armageddon, Almighty God makes war against Gog and Magog. Or simply stated, Jehovah judges and destroys false worship (both leaders and followers)." If this analysis could be accepted it would clear up any controversy about the two instances of Gog and Magog attacking Israel at the Battle of Armageddon and after the Millennium when Satan is loosed for a short while to influence the nations.
The Timing of Armageddon
Duck, in Foreshadows of Wrath and Redemption, p. 74, says "The war of all wars will take place at the end of the tribulation period." Gundry (First the Antichrist, p. 24), agrees with Duck. Says he, " . . . the sixth bowl deals with preparations for the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16: 12-14, 16), which takes place at the coming of Christ after the tribulation" (Rev. 17: 14; 19: 11-21). In referring to "the hour of testing " spoken of in Rev. 3: 10, Gundry (First the Antichrist, p. 55) explains that this phrase "is usually taken to mean the whole tribulation, or at least three and a half years of it. However "hour" carries a much narrower meaning in other parts of Revelation. In 3: 3 it refers to the hour of Jesus' return, and in 9: 13-19 it refers to what might be the Battle of Armageddon, connected with Jesus' return (cf. 16: 12-16). In Rev. 11: 13 the word "hour" refers to the great earthquake that occurs at the end of the tribulation second half . . . and shakes "the great city ";. In chapters 14: 7-8; 17: 12; and 18: 10, 17, 19, "hour" refers explicitly to the fall of Babylon at the close of the tribulation and in chapter 17: 12 to the related battle of Armageddon.
There are several theories as to the time of the Battle of Armageddon, but I will deal with only two here. On pages 347 and 348 of Things to Come, Pentecost mentions that the invasion [Battle of Armageddon] takes place at the end of the tribulation. He says, however, that there are some difficulties with this interpretation that make it impossible to accept. He outlines these as follows: (1) The passage in Ezekiel does not mention a battle. The destruction there is at the hand of the Lord through the convulsion of nature (38: 20-33) . . . In the conflagration of Armageddon there is a great battle fought between the Lord and His hosts and the assembled nations, in which the King of Kings emerges as victor. (2) In Ezekiel the invasion is by the king of the north with his allies which are limited in number. In Zech. 14 and Rev. 19 all the nations of the earth are seen to be gathered together for the conflagration. (3) In Ezek. The destruction takes place on the mountains of Israel (39: 2-4). The events of Armageddon are said to take place at Jerusalem (Zech. 12: 2; 14: 2), at the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3: 12) and Edom (Isa. 63: 1). (4) In Ezek. Israel is said to be dwelling in her land in peace and safety (38: 11). We know from Revelation 12: 14-17 that Israel is not going to dwell in the land in peace and safety during the latter half of the seventieth week, but will be the special target of Satan's attack. It is concluded, therefore, that the invasion cannot be identified as the events of Zech. 14 and Rev. 19 at the end of the tribulation.
A second theory is that the Battle of Armageddon takes place at the end of the Millennium and that the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel and that of Rev. 28 are the same. Pentecost (Things to Come, pp. 349-350) disagrees with this also because of the following considerations: (1) Ezekiel mentions only a northern coalition as being engaged in the invasion. In Revelation all the nations of the earth are gathered together. (2) In Ezek. there is no specific mention made of the instrumentality of Satan, nor of his being bound for a thousand years prior to this invasion, while both things are emphasized in the Revelation account. (3) The context in Ezek. shows that this invasion is before the institution of the Millennium. In Revelation the Millennium has been in existence for a thousand years. (4) In Ezek. the bodies of the slain require the labor of seven months to dispose of the dead (39: 12). In Rev. 20: 9 the Slain are said to be "devoured" by fire so that no disposal is necessary. (5) In Ezek. the invasion is seen to be followed by the Millennium (ch. 40-48). In Revelation this movement is followed by the new heaven and new earth. Certainly the new earth could not conceivably by corrupted by unburied corpses for seven months.
If the Battle of Armageddon, according to Pentecost and other pretribbers, does not occur at the end of the tribulation or at the end of the Millennium, when does it occur? The only option left to us is at the end of the first half of Daniel's seventieth week. Pentecost (p. 350-355) gives us several considerations in favor of this view. We will deal with only three of these here. (1) The invasion takes place at a time when Israel is dwelling in their own land. Whether they have the right to occupy the land is academic. They now occupy the land and will be occupying the land at the return of Christ. Pentecost's supposition proves nothing. (2) The invasion takes place when Israel is dwelling in peace in the land. This certainly will not be true during the second half of the seventieth week, but will be true of the millennial reign of Christ and the saints. Thus, this scenario could take place at the end of the Millennium, not the beginning. Pentecost ascribes the "peace" to the false peace of the covenant between Israel and the Antichrist. (3) Ezekiel uses two expressions in chapter thirty-eight which may give an indication as to the time of the invasion. In verse eight there appears the expression "latter years" and in verse sixteen is the "latter days" of Israel's history . . . The term latter days or latter years is related to the time prior to the last days or the millennial age, which would be the tribulation period. This admits only to an occurrence prior to the millennial age and not to the beginning of the tribulation in the middle of the seventieth week (see Things to Come, pp. 352-355 for the remaining considerations given by Pentecost).
What has been presented thus far does little to establish the timing of the Battle of Armageddon. Given a choice of theories it seems that the post-trib, premillennial position is the one that makes the most sense. The Battle of Armageddon, whatever it may be or wherever it may occur is the culmination of the Tribulation at the return of Christ. This is Gundry's position and I believe he proves it quite well in The Church and the Tribulation.
Armageddon and Babylon
Haggith (pp. 370-372) presents an interesting theory that connects the destruction of Babylon with Armageddon. Says he, "The battle at Armageddon may be just another way of describing the destruction of Babylon the Great, for Armageddon is world war." Although Babylon and the Battle of Armageddon are closely associated, they are not the same. The destruction of Babylon is a part of the Battle of Armageddon, but not a description of the battle itself. He further suggests that World War III includes all nations of the earth, or what remains of them after the Tribulation, attacking Jerusalem. However, just as the destruction of Jerusalem seems assured, the skies open and the Lord reveals Himself along with His angels and His resurrected saints. Christ destroys the armies by the brightness of His coming and the age comes to a close.
The holocaust described could be nuclear or celestial, but it is more likely to be nuclear (Matt. 24: 22; Mk. 13: 20). Regardless, we know that Christ will cut them short sometime during the Tribulation. The destruction of the offending armies is complete.
Walvoord (Foreshadows of Wrath and Redemption, p. 347) speaks of a strange paradox in the scenario of Rev. 16: 13-14, where three unclean spirits come out of the mouth of the Dragon. These entice the leaders of the world to come together for the Battle of Armageddon or the "battle of the great day of God Almighty." Satan wants all the armies of the earth available to fight against the armies of heaven. The Old Testament mentions Megiddo often but principally in connection with Josiah, the king of Judah. In Revelation 9: 16 we discover that at least 200 million soldiers cross the Euphrates and join the army already encamped on the Plain of Esdraelon.
Simultaneous with the events leading up to Armageddon is the rebuilding and destruction of Babylon. Some think that this is symbolically Rome but it is obviously a location distinct from Rome, for it is described as a great commercial city, which does not now exist. This Babylon will be the economic capital of the final world government that will transform it into a commercial city. Many prophecies hold that Babylon will be completely destroyed just prior to the Second Coming and that it will never be inhabited again (Isa. 13: 19-22; Jer. 50: 2-3, 39-46; 51: 37-48). This has never happened historically. Jeremiah 50: 1-51: 8 gives us a complete picture of this destruction and ultimate desolation of the city.
Pink (p. 257-258) argues that Babylon is a literal city. Says he, "The first time Babylon is mentioned in the Apocalypse is in 14: 8 . . . now what is there here to discountenance the natural conclusion that "Babylon" means Babylon? . . . what is there in Rev. 14: 8 which gives any hint that "Babylon" there refers to the Papal system? The next reference to Babylon is in Rev. 16: 18-19 . . . Surely it is a literal city which is in view, and which is divided into three parts by a literal earthquake . . . More than a hint of the literalness of this great city Babylon is found in the context, where we read of the River Euphrates (v. 12).
Now that we have determined that Babylon is a literal city, where will it be located? Pink (p. 234) quoting Col. VanSomeron in The Great Unfolding, says, "The site of old Babylon is known at the present day; it covers a wide extent of ground, and parts of it are inhabited, as for instance Hillah, where there are some five or six thousand people. When the long-talked-of Euphrates Valley railway becomes a reality, Babylon will be one of the most important places on the line." Will the "New Babylon" be built on this spot, and if so, why will it be so important in the future? When one considers VonSomeron's prediction, it is logical that Babylon will be a railhead for the transport of oil to the Persian Gulf, making it one of the most important commercial cities of the world and of the end times. It is in this commercial city that the Antichrist will set up the commercial headquarters of his newly acquired empire.
In Zechariah 5 there is a remarkable prophecy concerning the Babylon of the future. Pink (pp. 282-283) says, "That events predicted in this remarkable passage is still unaccomplished is sufficiently evident from the fact that Zechariah prophesied after Babylon received that blow under which it has generally waned. Zechariah lived after Babylon had passed into the hands of the Persians, and since that time, it is admitted by all, that declinsion—not 'establishment'—has marked its history. From that hour to the present moment there has been no 'preparation of an house', no establishment of anything—much less an ephah in the land of Shinar."We must be aware that Pink wrote this before 1952 and that the rebuilding of Babylon had not begun, and would not begin until 1979 under the guidance of Saddam Hussein.
What about the ephah spoken of in Zech. 5 that is to be established in the land of Shinar? yes" What is its significance and symbolism? Pink says that it "is to be established there, and a house to be built for it there, and there it is to be set firmly upon its base. 7quot; Zechariah says that the ephah will "go forth". In doing this it will exert its sovereign influence on the nations and imprint on them a self-derived character as the formative power of the ruling government's institutions. Commerce will, for a short time, reign in the world. Pink (p. 283) says, "It will determine the arrangements and fix the manners of Israel, and the of the prophetic earth. The appearance of every nation that falls under its control is to be merchantile."
Zechariah 14: 4 plainly teaches that another Babylon, which will eclipse the importance and splendor of the past Babylon, and will be the commercial headquarters of the Antichrist (cf. Isa. 10-11, 13-14; Jer. 49-51; Zech. 5 and Rev. 18).
Dr. Charles Dyer in his article Babylon: Iraq and the Coming Middle East Crisis, The Road to Armageddon, pp. 105-106, gives us an eyewitness account of the rebuilding of Babylon. He was in Iraq in 1987 and 1988 for the Babylon Festival. He relates that Saddam Hussein began rebuilding Babylon in 1979 shortly after he became ruler in Iraq. Eight years later he held his first Babylon Festival. Why? He wanted to "wrap himself in the mantle of Nebuchadnezzar and the glories of ancient Babylon and to promote what he wants to do with the nation of Iraq."
Most people today think that there is nothing left of ancient city of Babylon but a haunt of Jackals, that no one can live there, and that no Arab will pitch his tent there. Nothing could be farther from the truth. True, parts of Babylon are in ruins but since 1979 Saddam Hussein has been rebuilding the city on its original foundations. He has rebuilt some of the temples and one, called the Ninmach Temple, was rebuilt on its original foundation. There is a theater there that was built by Alexander the Great and that restored theater was used for the opening night of the Babylon Festival. "The performance began," writes Dyer, "with some music and ended with a tribute to Ishtar, the mother goddess of Babylon, who was credited with bringing this eternal city back. A man bowed down before a woman who represented Ishtar as the words in French and Arabic and English extolled this eternal city's return under Saddam Hussein . . . Every September he holds the Babylon Festival, extolling what he's doing to rebuild the city of Babylon."
In Rev. 17 and 18, Babylon is pictured as a place of sea captains and merchants. It is pictured as a place that controls world economy and has a relationship to Antichrist as a military power. Babylon will be there in the last days as an economic powerhouse. It is not there yet but could become what the Bible says it will be in a matter of weeks. All that is required is the control of the oil wealth of the Middle East. However, she will be utterly destroyed at Christ's Second Coming.
Isaiah 13 and 14 contain a remarkable prophecy termed "the burden of Babylon". It pictures the horrible judgment that God will send on this city. It speaks of total and final destruction, and declares that "Babylon, the glory of the kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldee's excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." Verses 19-20 declare that it will never again be inhabited or dwelt in from generation to generation. Isa. 13 speaks of this "burden of Babylon" as being fulfilled in the "Day of the Lord", a future day. Chapter 14 continues from 13 and completes the "burden of Babylon", supplying further proof that there is to be another Babylon that is to be utterly destroyed.
The Invader from the North—Armageddon and the Antichrist
Isaiah 30: 31-33; 31: 8-9, and Micah 5: 5 speak of an invader from the north called the "Assyrian." God used Assyria as a rod of punishment against Israel and will do the same in the future. Isaiah 28: 18 speaks of a "covenant of death" and the "agreement with hell" for which God will punish Israel. "This," says Pentecost (p. 352), ^quot;must refer to the covenant of Dan. 9: 27, when Israel seeks peace from the hands of men rather than from the hand of the Lord." Isaiah says that because they make this covenant, an "overflowing scourge will pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it." According to Pentecost this cannot be the occupation of the Beast who will be a party to the covenant. It must, therefore, refer to the invasion of the "Assyrian" whom God will use to chasten Israel. The destruction of this "Assyrian" seems to parallel the destruction of Gog and Magog and his armies recorded in Ezek. 38-39. According to Pentecost, God cannot punish Israel for making this false covenant until after the covenant is ratified.
The Antichrist will rise from within the boundaries of the old Roman Empire, but can we determine which part, the Eastern or the Western (Dan. 8: 8-9, also vv. 21-22 and Dan. 7)? In Dan. 7 we discover that the Grecian Empire disintegrates into four separate kingdoms, but from which of these part can we expect the Antichrist to come—Macedonia, Egypt, Syria (a part of the old Assyrian Empire), or Thrace? Dan. 8: 9 gives us a hint—the "south" refers to Egypt, the "east" to Persia and Greece, and the "pleasant land" to Palestine. Thus, it would seem that he will come out of the "north" or Syria. Notice that Dan. 8: 9 says nothing about the little horn "waxing great" towards the north. Pink (pp. 96-97) believes that the north is the quarter from which the Antichrist will arise and that Isa. 10: 12 confirms that the Antichrist is none other than "the King of Assyria."
Because of this, Pink (pp. 31-32) asserts, "The Antichrist will be a lineal descendant of Abraham, a Jew . . . suffice it . . . to say that none but a full-blooded Jew could ever expect to palm himself off on the Jewish people as their long expected Messiah . . . The Antichrist will be received by the Jews. This is clear from the passage which heads the first paragraph of this chapter" (Jn. 5: 43). He does admit, however, that "there is no express declaration of Scripture which says in so many words that this daring rebel will be "a Jew." Nevertheless, Pink (pp. 41-45) gives seven reasons why the Antichrist must be a Jew. (1) Ezek. 21: 25-27 (See Dan. 8: 23 and cf. 11: 36) . . . At that time Israel shall have a "prince", a prince who is "crowned" (v. 26), and a prince whose "day" is said to be "come" when "iniquity shall have an end". Now as to who this "prince" is, there is surely no room for doubt. The only "Prince"l whom Israel will have in that day, is the Son of Perdition, here termed their "Prince" because he will be masquerading as "Messiah the Prince" (see Dan. 9: 25)! Another unmistakable mark of identification is here given in that he is expressly denominated "thou, profane wicked Prince"—Assuredly, it is the Man of Sin who is here in view, that impious one who shall "oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God". But what should be noted particularly, is, that this profane and wicked character is here named "Prince of Israel". He must, therefore, be of the Abrahamic stock, a Jew! (2) In Ezek. 28: 2-10 a remarkable description is given us of the Antichrist under the figure of "the Prince of Tyrus" . . . There is only one thing that we would now point out from this passage: in v. 10 it is said of him "Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD", which is a very strong hint that he ought not to die the deaths of the "uncircumcised" because he belonged to the circumcision! Should it be said that this verse cannot apply to the Antichrist because he will be destroyed by Christ Himself at His coming, the objection is very easily disposed of by a reference to Rev. 13: 14 . . . (3) In Dan. 11: 36-37 . . . This passage, it is evident, refers to and describes . . . the coming Antichrist. But what we wish to call special attention to is the last sentence quoted—"The God of his fathers". What are we to understand by this expression? Why, surely, that he is a Jew, an Israelite, and that his fathers after the flesh were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob— . . . (4) In Matt. 12: 43-45 we have another remarkable Scripture . . . "The Unclean Spirit" here is . . . the Son of Perdition, and . . . the "house" . . . is the nation of Israel. If this can be established, then we have another proof that he will be a Jew, for this "house", which is Israel, is termed by Antichrist "my house." (5) John 5: 43 . . . the Lord Jesus referred to him as . . . "Another shall come in his own name" . . . in Jn. 5:43 (the word is) "allos", another of the same genus, not "heteros", another of a different order . . . If the coming Antichrist were to be a Gentile, the Lord would have employed the word "heteros"; the fact that He used "allos"; shows that he will be a Jew. (6) The very name "Antichrist" argues strongly his Jewish nationality. This title "Antichrist" has a double significance. It means that he will be one who shall be "opposed" to Christ, one who will be His enemy. But it also purports that he will be a mock Christ, an imitation Christ, a pro-Christ, a pseudo-Christ. It intimates that he will ape Christ. He will pose as the real Messiah of Israel. In such case he must be a Jew. (7) This mock Christ will be "received" by Israel. The Jews will be deceived by him. They will believe that he is indeed their long-expected Messiah. They will accept him as such . . . if this pseudo-Christ succeeds in palming himself off on the Jews as their true Messiah he must be a Jew, for it is unthinkable they would be deceived by any Gentile."
In summary, we have learned then, that (1) Armageddon is more of an event than it is a place. (2) It is likely that it will take place throughout the entire land of Palestine from the Plain of Esdraelon in the north past Jerusalem and down to Edom in the south. (3) That the Middle East will become the prime hot spot before the Battle of Armageddon will occur. (4) Most likely the armies that fight against Christ at the Battle of Armageddon will be Gog and Magog and their allies, barbarian peoples of the north, and that the gogs are simply the leaders of these idol-worshipping peoples. (4) The time of the Battle of Armageddon will be at the end of the Tribulation and just prior to the beginning of the Millennium. (5) Babylon and Armageddon are intimately connected and Babylon will be rebuilt, and is being presently rebuilt, by Saddam Hussein of Iraq. (6) Babylon will become the world commercial center and a place of the renewed worship of Ishtar and other false gods and goddesses. (7) Babylon will come to utter destruction along with the Antichrist and his armies. (8) The invader from the north will be an "Assyrian" and the Antichrist will emerge from the region of modern Syria and will be a Jew, otherwise the Jews would not receive him. (9) The destruction, the judgment of God on the nations and the end of the historical age as we know it will culminate at the Battle of Armageddon with the return of Christ to set up His Millennial Kingdom on earth and bring peace to the world for a thousand years
1. Dolphin, L. Armageddon. Self-published Internet article, 2001, 16 pp.
2. Dyer, Charles. Babylon: Iraq and the Coming Middle East Crises, The Road to Armageddon, Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999. 185 pp.
3. Gundry, Bob. First the Antichrist. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997. 200 pp.
4. Gundry, Robert. The Church and the Tribulation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973. 224 pp.
5. Haggith, David. End-Time Prophecies of the Bible. New York: G. P. Putnam"s Sons, 1999. 546 pp.
6. Pink, Arthur W. The Antichrist. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1988. 319 pp.
7. Pentecost, J. Dwight. The Antichrist: Who is the Next World Ruler?, The Road to Armageddon Nashville: Word Publishing. 185 pp.
8. Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958. 633 pp.
9. Tolworthy, Chris. Gog and Magog and Armageddon. Self-published Internet article, 2001. 4 pp.
10. Walvoord, John F. Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crises. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990. 234 pp.
11. Walvoord, John F. From Armageddon to the Millennium, Foreshadows of Wrath and Redemption, William T. James General Editor. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1999. 389 pp.
The Biblical View of John's Prologue
By Dustin Smith
For the vast majority of Christian believers, the key passage of their Christology is John 1:1-14. Many disputes have arisen over this passage of Scripture and how it should be interpreted. More has been written on the Gospel of John than any other book in the Bible, with the prologue receiving the primary focus by commentators and expositors. Yet ink was not the only thing to be spilled, for many have lost their lives from their interpretation of the Johannine prologue. Family members have turned against each other, believers have been denounced as heretics, churches have split, friendships broken, marriages torn apart. Was it God's intention for this passage of Scripture to disunite believers? What went wrong? Why are there so many conflicting views on the prologue? What exactly was the Apostle John trying to tell his readers? These points will be considered and discussed as the "The Biblical View of John's Prologue" is given the attention it surely deserves.
It is necessary to establish a biblical and historical foundation before we build our theology on the important interpretation of John 1. First and foremost, the author, the Apostle John, was a Jew. He went to synagogue every Sabbath growing up. This means that the verse pinned on his refrigerator would have been Deut. 6:4, the Shema of Israel.
Hear, a Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.
From this verse we can clearly see that God is one, a unity, a single person. At synagogue every Sabbath, "there would be antiphonal recitations of the Shema (the "golden text" of Judaism)." Even today, every Jew repeats Deut. 6:4 twice a day, religiously. The Jews believed that God is one, and believed it with all their heart, mind and soul. John was also aware that the LORD (translated from "Yahweh" 6824 times) is described in the Hebrew Scriptures with 20,000 personal pronouns, strengthening the case for unitary monotheism. The LORD is the sole creator of the universe as shown in these passages:
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone" (I sa. 44:24).
"I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me, there is no God" (Isa. 45:5).
"I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give my glory to another" (lsa. 42:8).
In the Hebrew Scriptures the LORD is revealed to be one person, the only one who is God Almighty.
Something else to take into consideration is that Matthew and Luke clearlY show in their birth narratives that they believe that Jesus was begotten in the womb of Mary. "Begotten" is translated from "gennao", which is the causal form of ginomai = to come to be, begin to exist. Jesus was brought into being in the womb of Mary from the miracle birth, as Luke tells us: "and for that reason precisely, he will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). These authors, being Jews, were also monotheistic, and did not believe in the literal preexistence of the Messiah Jesus.
With these facts now established, we can move on to the text at hand. In most current translations, John 1:1 reads as follows:
In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1a) and the Word was with God (John 1:1b) and the Word was God (John 1:1c)
The defining question for everybody's Christology is "What is the Word (or logos)?" Trinitarians, who hold the popular view, think that the logos is a person, or more specifically, the Son, existing from eternity as the 2nd member of the triune Godhead. They will instinctively read: In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God. The biblical unitarians insist that the logos is not a person distinct from God, who is the Father. What we can conclude is that if the logos in John 1:1 is indeed a person, distinct from the Father, then Jesus literally preexisted his birth, according to the Apostle John, at least. If the logos is not a person, then the Trinitarians lose the biggest weapon in their arsenal to prove that Jesus is God, and risk being idolaters for worshipping someone as an equal to God. If we can prove that the logos is not a person, the Incarnation of the Son collapses. It is now a critical step to attempt to define the logos in the way that John would want the readers of his Gospel to understand it.
What background did John have to incorporate the logos into his prologue? A good start would be to see how the word "word" was used in history prior to the 1st century. For a hundred or more years before the birth of Jesus, Hebrew was a forgotten language. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but the Jews no longer knew Hebrew. The scribes knew it, but not the ordinary people. The ordinary people spoke a derived form of Hebrew called Aramaic.
Since that was so, the Scriptures of the Old Testament had to be translated into something that the ordinary people would have understood; those translations were called Targums. The Targums were produced in a time when men were fascinated by the transcendence of God. That is to say, they were produced in a time when men thought about the distance and difference of God. Because of that, the men who made the translations called the Targums were afraid of attributing human emotions, thoughts, and actions to God. Yet the Old Testament speaks regularly of God in this way. A critical fact to establish for our study is that when the Old Testament speaks of God like this, the Targums would substitute the word of God for the name of God. Let us look at some examples:
Ex. 19:1 OT: Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God.
Ex. 19:17 Targum: Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet the word of God.
Ex. 31 :13 OT: (God speaking about the Sabbath) "is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations."
Ex. 31:13 Targum: "is a sign between My word and you throughout your generations."
Deut. 9:3 OT: God is a consuming fire,
Deut. 9:3 Targum: The word of God is a consuming fire.
Isa. 48:13 OT: By My hand has laid the foundation of the earth.
Isa. 48:13 Targum: By My word I have founded the earth.
It is clear that the Jews of the time could use the "word of God" interchangeably with "God", and yet still hold on to the meaning of the word presented in the Hebrew Bible. The apostle John would have been fully aware of the Targums from his experience of the synagogue every Sabbath. As of this stage in the study, the "word" is not revealed to be a distinct person.
John, writing his Gospel from Ephesus, was addressing gentile readers. By A.D. 60 there must have been a majority of Greeks over Jews in the Church. The new difficulty facing John was relating key principles of Christianity to gentiles who did not understand the Hebraic roots. They had no idea what the "Messiah" meant. Their Greek mindset was not the same as the Jewish mindset of Jesus and his disciples. How could John get across the idea of this Messiah, the Son of God, to these Gentiles? Fortunately for him, there was a bridge that connected the Jews and the Gentiles in thought—something that both could relate to and both had a solid understanding of. That idea was the logos.
The origin of the logos in the Greek mind is found in the thoughts of an Ephesian philosopher named Heraclitus. Back in 560 B.C. he believed that everything in this world is changing from moment to moment. His famous illustration was that it is impossible to step twice into the same river. If you step into a river once, you can never step into the same water again. To Heraclitus the world was in a state of constant flux. But if that be so, why is life not in complete chaos? The answer of Heraclitus was: all this change is not chaos, but it is controlled and ordered. That which controls the pattern is the Logos, the Word, the Reason of God. To Heraclitus, the Logos, the Word was the principle of order under which the universe continued to exist. But Heraclitus went further than that. He held that in all events of life there is a purpose, a plan, a scheme and a design. To Heraclitus the Logos was nothing less than the mind of God controlling the world; God's purpose.
As for the Hebrew mind, we can look at the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) to get the biblical background on the usage of the "word". The Greek word "logos" is translated from the Hebrew word "dabar," meaning "word." It appears 1440 times in the Hebrew Bible (the tenth most common noun in the OT). Yet, an astonishing fact is that after a careful reading of each occurrence, we find that none of the examples describes a person. Some of the uses of dabar (word) are as follows (emphasis added):
(Gen. 30:34) Laban said, "Good, let it be according to your word."
(Ex. 18:6) He sent word to Moses, "', your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you and your wife."
(Lev. 10:7) So they did according to the word of Moses.
(Num. 3:16) So Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, just as he has been commanded.
(Deut. 18:18) I will raise up a prophet among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
(Josh. 1:13) Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you.
(1 Sa. 3:17) "What is the word that God spoke to you?"
(2 Sa. 7:25) "Now therefore, 0 LORD God, the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as you have spoken."
(2 Kg. 1:17) So Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken.
(1 Ch. 11:3) They anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.
(2 Ch. 6:10) Now the LORD has fulfilled His word which he spoke
(Neh. 1:8) "Remember the word which you commanded Your servant Moses."
(Ps. 33:6) By the word of the LORD the heavens were made. And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
(Ps. 119:43) And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I wait for Your ordinances.
(Pr. 13:13) The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.
(Is. 1:10) Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah.
(Is. 44:26) Confirming the word of His servant and performing the purpose of His messengers (Jer. 1:12) Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it."
(Ezek. 12:25) For I the LORD will speak, and whatever word I speak will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, for in your days, 0 rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord GOD.'
(Dan. 4:33) Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.
(Joel 2:11) The LORD utters His voice before His army; surely His camp is very great, for strong is he who carries out His word.
It is clear from these few examples that dabar does not mean in the Old Testament a person or spokesman, but a message, promise or command or matter in every instance. No lexicon of the Hebrew Bible lists dabar as a person, God, angel, or man. Yet, Trinitarians still read John 1:1a as if it said, "In the beginning was the Son" or "In the beginning was Jesus." How can they equate the logos with a person, if dabar is never a person in the Hebrew Bible? Not only that: the Jewish wisdom literature agrees with the Old Testament evidence. James Dunn is correct to point out that "Nowhere either in the Bible or in extra-canonical literature of the Jews is the word of God a personal agent or on the way to become such." For Trinitarians to make the logos in John 1:1 a literal person is to undermine the hermeneutical laws known to organized Bible study and interpretation. Within the context of the Hebrew Bible, they have absolutely no scriptural basis to interpret the logos in John 1:1 as a person. We rather have every reason to substitute the word "command" or "promise" in John 1:1, just as the Jews always understood dabar to mean from the Hebrew Bible.
Another important item to note is that our modern translations capitalize "word" as if it were God, showing the biased flavor of the translators. In the original Greek, there was no distinction between lowercase and capital letters. Thus, making the "w" into a "W" is a form of editorializing, which is not found in any of the manuscripts. If we examine all of the 8 English translations before the KJV, we can see that none of them capitalized the "word" in John 1: 1. Here are just a couple:
In the begynnyng was the warde and the warde was with God: and the warde was God. (1534 Tyndale NT)
In the begynnyng was the warde, and the warde was with God: and that warde was God. (1595 Bishops NT)
Now that we have established that the logos is not a person, we have to ask "How can the word be with God" in John 1:1 b? In the Hebrew mind, everything in the plan of God was planned out before the worlds were made. In essence, they believed that "all the benefits of the future would come down from above, from heaven . . . so too the Messiah, the perfect King of Israel." No one would suggest that Jesus was literally slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Clearly these plans are in the mind of God, and were in His promise from eternity. But let us see what scriptural evidence we have revealed to us about the word being "with" someone:
My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within [with] you (Prov. 2:1 )
But if they are prophets, and if the word of the LORD is with them, let them now entreat the LORD of hosts (Jer. 27:18)
But the word is very near you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may observe it (Deut. 30:14)
Yet these things You have concealed in Your heart; I know that this is within [with] You (Job 10:13)
For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such decrees are with Him (Job 23:14).
What is with the Almighty I will not conceal (Job 27:11).
Jehoshaphat said, "The word of the LORD is with him." (2 Ki. 3:12)
And wisdom was with thee; which knoweth thy works (Wisd. 9:9)
All wisdom cometh from the Lord, and is with him for ever. (Sirach 1:1)
There seems to be substantial evidence to show that it was common for a Jew to think of God's word being with Him or right alongside Him. And because the word is not a person or a divine being, unitary monotheism is not shaken. There is still one God, one person. Clearly then the Hebraic concept of the word of God was the conviction that Yahweh revealed His will immediately and directly to His people through prophetic inspiration and vision. This belief was fundamental to the religion embodied in the OT writings.
Now we come to John 1:1c: "and the Word was God." A simple reading of this text would make the average believer think that word = God. Yet, an examination of the Greek will show that logos and theos in John 1:1c are not one-to-one identical. A leading Trinitarian author honestly points out the fact that if John had employed the article before theos, he would have made the terms theos and logos interchangeable. The Greek reads as follows:
kai theos en 0 logos.
As you can see, there is no definite article before theos, as there is in John 1:1 b. John 1:1 b is referring to "the God" while 1:1c is absolutely not. "When in Greek two nouns are joined by the verb to be and when both have the definite article, then one is fully identified with the other; but when one of them is without the article, it becomes more of an adjective then a noun, and describes rather the class or the sphere in which the other belongs." Our Trinitarian author will again point out that a possible translation for theos without the article can be "in nature God". Let's look at an example. As a Christian, I try to live a godly life. Yet, by being godly, I am clearly not God. Thus, there is a clear difference in "the God" and "in nature God", as the Apostle John wanted his readers to recognize. Yet the vast majority of translations render the phrase "the Word was God." "Is this not a definite translation? Not necessarily," our honest Trinitarian author kindly admits. The Moffat translation for example renders John 1:1c as "and the Word was divine."
So with all of this information, we can see that an honest translation of John 1: 1 should run along these lines:
In the beginning was the promise (or purpose), and the promise was with God, and the promise was fully expressive of God.
This translation fits in well with the Jewish concept of the word and the honest translation of the Greek text. As for the Trinitarian rendering, once pressed, it does not even fit under their creed for the Trinity. Let's look at the two examples of how they impose their presuppositions on the logos:
In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with the Father, and the Son was the Father.
Yet, their own Trinitarian creed tells us that that there are 3 distinct Persons, so the Son is not the Father. Let's look at the other rendering they provide:
In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was God.
So, the Son is with God and the Son is God? Doesn't that make two Gods? God was with God? If that does not disrupt the biblical monotheism, I do not know what does! The Bible many times tells us that there is only one God and that He is the Father (1 Tim 2:5, 1 Cor. 8:6, and John 17:3). We can see that even the Trinitarian interpretation does not do justice to the Scriptures and their own creeds.
Now that the logos is clearly established as the "promise" and not a person, we can move through the prologue with much greater ease. 1:2 is translated in 2 different ways in our translations popular today:
He was in the beginning with God (NIV, NASB, NKJV)
This one was in the beginning with God (KJV, NASB footnote)
Outos can be translated either he, she, or it. It depends on what you have established as the identity of the logos. If it is a person, the translators will render autos as "He", while if it is the plan or promise of God, a neuter translation will suffice, such as "This one" from the KJV. No difficulty is found with the promise being in the beginning with God, since we already confirmed that in 1:1b.
Verse 3 is rendered in every modern translation as "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being." As with verse 2, autos can be either he, she, or it, depending on the bias. To keep the flow going, we will again use "it" as do many of the early English translations. Here are a few examples:
All things were made by it, and without it was made nothing that was made. (1599 GNV)
All thynges were made by it: and without it, was made nothyng that was made. (1595 Bishops Bible)
All thinges were made by it and with out it was made nothinge that was made. (1534 Tyndale Bible)
All thinges were made by it, and wythout it, was made nothynge that was made. (1539 Great Bible)
All things were made by it, and without it was made nothing that was made. (1560 Geneva Bible)
We also see a rather striking resemblance of this translation throughout the wisdom literature of the Jews:
(Ps. 33:6) By the word of the LORD the heavens were made. And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
(Prov. 3:19-20) The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up.
(prov. 24:3-4) By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled.
(1 QS 11:11) By his knowledge everything has been brought into being, and everything that is, he established by his purpose, and apart from him nothing is done.
(Sirach 36:8) By the knowledge of the Lord they are distinguished: and he altered seasons and feasts.
(Wisdom 9:1) 0 God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word.
It doesn't take an army of theologians to decipher the facts revealing that the massive evidence points to the logos being the plan/promise of God. The Trinitarian need not resort to "Mystery." The creeds of orthodoxy should be able to produce at least one occurrence of the word God meaning "the Triune God" in the Bible. There is no such verse and Jesus agreed with the Jewish scribe about who God is (Mark 12:28ff).
John 1 :14 says: "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us .... "
God's plan (or promise) became flesh. This is the point where the logos becomes a person, and not a verse before. The Apostle John would never have thought that God became a man, because the LORD does not change (Mal. 3:6). Verse 14 reveals to us the incarnation of the logos, not the Incarnation of the preexistent Son. The text, context, and background all point to the logos being the divine plan or promise, which was with God from the beginning. It is never spoken of as a person. Even the Greeks would understand this in light of their culture and background. If the logos was the reason of God, then Jesus is "walking reason." Jesus revealed to us that "The words I speak are spirit and life" (John 6:63). Jesus is the way we know the mind and heart of God.
Arius was correct in preaching that "Before Christ, God was not yet a Father." Although his view was not fully on track, we can clearly see that God became a literal Father when Jesus was begotten (brought into existence) in the womb of Mary (Matt. 1:18,20; Luke 1:35). The prologue of John's Gospel, when analyzed, shows no literal preexistence of Jesus. Thus we remove the key text supposed to prove the Incarnation of the Son. The lesson to be learned is that presuppositions are highly dangerous. Eisegesis rather than exegesis currently dominates popular reading of John 1. If eternal life is knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ who was sent (John 17:3), then believers ought to give serious thought to the matter of defining God properly. Jesus warned us that "many will say to me in that day, 'Lord Lord,'" only to be told, "I never knew you, depart from me." We should strive to know who God is in relationship to Jesus if we are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. By accepting that God is one, we are told by Jesus that we "are not far from the Kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34), and potentially closer to winning Muslims and Jews.
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