Good and evil in the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13 video discussion

The lectionary gospel reading for the Trinity 7 in Year A once more splits up a text in order to unite a parable and its interpretation by Jesus, though with less damage than was done previously. The parable itself is given in Matthew 13.24–30; we then skip over the brief parables of the mustard seed and yeast (to which we will come next week), and a Matthean explanation of Jesus’ use of parables as ‘fulfilment’; and we return to Jesus’ explanation of the parable in Matt 13.36–43.

Come and join James and Ian as they discuss the passage, its implications for our understanding of discipleship, and the issues around preaching on it.

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50 thoughts on “Good and evil in the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13 video discussion”

  1. Thank you Ian and James, for another interesting discussion.

    There’s an important footnote in the New Jerusalem Bible regarding ‘the Son of Man’s’ (i.e. Messiah’s) Kingdom referred to in Matt. 13:41. It reads thus :

    ” To the kingdom of the Son (the messianic kingdom) of v. 41 there succeeds the kingdom of the Father [God] to whom the Son commits the elect whom he has saved, see 25:34; 1 Cor. 15:24.”

    The High Christology of Matthew (that James alludes to) is surely expressed in Peter’s God-inspired, declaration that Jesus is :

    “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16).

    Peter reinforces this in Acts 2:36 where he states that Jesus has been ‘made’ (‘appointed’) both ‘lord (i.e. “adoni” – Psalm 110:1) and Messiah”.

    Messiah’s temporary Kingdom will eventually give way to God’s eternal Kingdom (1 Cor. 15:28).

    • That’s an intersting footnote. It seems to slightly collapse ‘Kingdom of the Son of Man’, with its attendant Daniel 7 associations into ‘Kingdom of the Son’ – a more trinitarian emphasis. Of course we are talking about nuances and subtleties here, so please don’t hear me as saying that the New Jerusalem Bible editors are ‘wrong’, but it does seem unfortunate to talk about “succession” of that kingdom, when, according to Daniel, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. ” Daniel 7:14.

      • Happy Jack doesn’t see any real issue with this footnote – depending on how its received.

        There are three historic interpretations of the “Kingdom of God”, each of which harmonise and shed light on the concept.

        There’s a Christological one: “The Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he. On this interpretation, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology. By the way in which he speaks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus leads men to realise the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence.” (Pope Benedict, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1)

        There’s a more mystical one: The “Kingdom of God” resides in the heart of man. Origen wrote, “those who pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God pray without any doubt for the Kingdom of God that they contain in themselves, and they pray that this kingdom might bear fruit and attain its fullness.”

        And lastly an ecclesiastical one: The “Kingdom of God” is in the here and now, present in and through the Church. Yet it is a mixed reality that will only be perfectly realised at the end of history. This current “mixed” state can be seen as the Church on earth which now grows in the field of the world with both weeds and wheat.

        Let’s see how they interrelate.

        To enter God’s kingdom, one must be born again, beginning in baptism (John 3:3-5, Acts 2:38), which not only forgives our sins but also renews us in the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5, 1 Pet. 3:21), enabling us to “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).

        Jesus exhorts his followers to “seek first his kingdom and righteousness” (Matt. 6:33) and tells them they “must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), because hard is the road that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14).

        Living as a disciple of Christ in His Kingdom means being united in the Lord (John 17:20-23; see 1 Cor. 12:12-26). Jesus restores the kingdom of Israel on the foundation of his twelve apostles, who succeed the twelve tribes of the Old Covenant (Eph. 2:19-20). Jesus sends His apostles as the Father has sent Him (John 20:21), with “all authority in heaven and on earth” to teach, govern and sanctify His people (Matt. 28:18).

        And thus Christ’s teaching, the truth that sets us free, now and forever (John 8:31-32), is necessarily also “the apostle’s teaching” (Acts 2:42; see Matt. 28:20), and their successors, leading God’s Kingdom, the Church, on earth (Matt. 16:18-19, Luke 22:31-32). Consequently, entering and remaining in the Kingdom of God requires self-denial (Matt. 16:24-25) and childlike fidelity and humility (Matt. 18:1-4), “for the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Cor. 3:19).

        Jesus is with us always (Matt. 28:20), yet he will return in glory at his Second Coming (Acts 1:11), vanquish the devil, and deliver the Kingdom to his Father so that we can reign with the Lord in his heavenly kingdom forever (1 Cor. 15:24).

      • To Richard :

        “His dominion is an everlasting [‘alam’] ‘dominion..” (cf. Dan. 7:14).

        Joseph Rotherham in his ‘Emphasized Bible’, translates ‘alam’ in Dan. 7:14 as ‘age-abiding’.

        Robert Young in his ‘Young’s Literal Translation’ translates ‘alam’ in Dan. 7:14 as ‘age-during’.

        Oxford Professor, Christopher Rowlands in his book :

        “Christian Origins – the Setting and Character of the Most Important Messianic Sect of Judaism” writes :

        ” Elsewhere in the New Testament , probably in usage derived from Psalm110:1 (‘The Lord [Heb. YHVH = Yahweh] said to my Lord [Heb. adoni = a non-Deity title, meaning ‘master’ or ‘lord’ in all its occurrences], sit at my right hand…) the title ‘Lord’ [or ‘lord’ in some translations] speaks of the divine dominion delegated to the exalted Christ [Messiah] by God (Acts 2:33ff; 1 Cor. 15:24f; Matt. 28:18; Dan. 7:13). As Messiah, Christ would have his part to play in the final demonstration of God’s sovereignty (2 Thess. 2:8f) and this lordship delegated to him temporarily by God (1 Cor. 15:28), would finally be manifested over the powers opposed to God….It is a central feature of early Christian belief that the manifestation of divine sovereignty through God’s agent, the Christ, has started [cf. Matt. 28:18] but has still to be completed”.

        ibid., p. 248.

  2. The Hebrew phrase “the Son of Man” is used in various ways in Scripture. In the Old Testament, for example, “son of man” is used as an idiom for a human being (Num. 23:19, Job 25:6, Psalms 8:4, Sirach 17:30). And it’s also used to refer to prophets such as Ezekiel and Daniel (Dan. 8:17). It is also used as a term for the prophesied Messiah (Dan. 7:13-14; see 7:1-28).

    That title is used in the four Gospels, always within the sayings of Jesus; and depending on the context, it can refer either to Christ’s humanity or to His Divinity.

    Jesus uses the phrase to show his solidarity with humanity, showing He needs rest (Matt. 8:20) and also He eats and drinks (Luke 7:34). Jesus also conveys that He is the prophesied Messiah, (Matt. 19:28, 24:30, 25:31). He also uses this title to illustrate He has Divine prerogatives, including the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10), suspend the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), judge men (John 5:27), and to provide eternal life through the consumption of His flesh (John 6:53-54). More starkly, when on trial before the Sanhedrin, He was asked, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus answers, “I am; and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk. 14:61-62).

    So the one title, “Son of Man”, had a dual purpose: it conveys Christ’s unique nature, which was both human and Divine.

    • This is a very interesting discussion!

      I certainly agree that the title ‘Son of Man’ entails a connection to humanity in Daniel 7. After all, in Daniel 7 it is not strictly ‘the Son of Man’, and certainly not ‘a son of man’, but ‘one like a son of man’ – a highly suprising appearance given the celestial setting. Christ is profoundly connected to us because of his “Son-of-man-like-ness”, that is, his human nature.

      But is there actually any evidence for Jesus using the title ‘Son of Man’ other than with a Daniel 7 referent in the Gospels? We know he has the Daniel referent in mind at least sometimes, because he makes it explicit, for example as HJ points out in Mk 14:61-62. But are there any counter examples?

      HJ has proposed Matt 8:20, but this seems to me to make the opposite case. Jesus is warning the teacher of the Law that following him will entail unique and heavy costs (Matt 8:19), and that therefore you shouldn’t commit to it lightly. This is not a statement of humility, but of the particular significance Jesus has as one to be followed.

      Another proposal is Luke 7:34, but in this case Jesus is pointing out the silimarity of his rejection to the rejection of John the Baptist, despite their contrasting patterns of ministry. Again, it’s not clear how this use of the title speaks to humility.

      Please don’t miss-hear my argument. I am not denying Jesus’ humilty or solidarity with mankind. I’m just wondering whether there is evidence of his using the title ‘Son of Man’ to communicate that humility and solidarity, rather than exaltation and authority. I don’t yet see any.

      • As a footnote to your comment, Richard, it is interesting to note that Daniel 7 is part of the Aramaic section of that book. It is bar enash, compared with the normal Hebrew phrase denoting a human being: ben adam.

        If Jesus was teaching or conversing in Aramaic, it seems to me that his hearers would have readily connected the phrase to Daniel 7 rather than any Hebrew uses of the equivalent phrase (of which there are, I think, two in the later chapters of the same book.)

          • But the point about him speaking in Greek is a big if as well… by no means all scholars support that

          • Living in Wales, I am aware that many people can effortlessly move from one language to another. It is common to hear liturgy in Welsh and English in the same service. Might Jesus have preached in both Aramaic and Greek at the same events and presumably, worshiped in Hebrew in the synagogue (?).
            The link to Daniel 7 in this section (and in Daniel 4 in next weeks readings?) is a bit of a surprise to me, so thank you for pointing this out.
            As always, my mind goes on thinking about what you have said and I wonder if the whole parable structure is deliberately using an apocalyptic ‘format’. Jesus then becomes the source of the hidden/secret revelation, the disciples take the part of the recipient of the revelation in need of help and Jesus then completes the heavenly interpretation. Jesus as ‘revelator’ the beginning and end. I will have a look at Collins and see what he says.

          • I think that is an interesting comparison. We forget that most cultures in the world are polyglot, and there is also transfer of terminology from one to the other too.

    • To Happy Jack;

      Where is the term ‘Son of Man’ referred to as ‘God’ in the Bible?

      The Messiah temporarily rules on God’s behalf, as God’s accredited and authorized Agent (‘Shaliach’), but there is always a biblical distinction between God, and His Messiah (cf. John 17:3; John 20:17; Rev. 1:6; Rev. 3:12; 1 Cor. 8:6; et al). As Anglican Canon, Dr. Anthony E. Harvey has noted in his paper “The Constraints of Jewish Monotheism”, published in the book “The Constraints of History”, the New Testament never clearly breaks the bounds of Jewish Monotheism (cf. John 20:31).

      When Jesus was on Trial before the High Priest, He was never accused of claiming to be God. Why? Jesus was rejected for being a false Messiah, and a false prophet, who was thereby misrepresenting God, and bringing (in their eyes) dishonour upon God, i.e., He was (in their eyes) insulting God, or ‘blaspheming’. They most probably interpreted according to Deut. 13:1-5.

      • @ Pellegrino

        The Sanhedrin asked Christ: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” and Jesus answers: “I am; and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mk. 14:61-62).

        Sure it’s a term for the prophesied Messiah (Dan. 7:13-14; see 7:1-28). Jesus conveys that he is the fulfilment of these verses, “the son of man”, and clearly identifies with this prophetic figure (Matt. 19:28, 24:30, 25:31).

        But Jesus goes beyond this too. He uses the title “Son of Man” to illustrate He has Divine prerogatives – the authority to: forgive sins (Mark 2:10), to suspend the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), to judge men (John 5:27), and to provide eternal life through the consumption of His flesh and blood (John 6:53-54).

        Who but God can do this?

        HJ doesn’t restrict his understanding of Christ’s Divinity to His use of the phrase in scripture.

        The Gospel of St. Matthew attests, “When [Jesus’] mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18) and then quoting Prophet Isaiah, “‘The virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel’ a name which means ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23)

        Archangel Gabriel in the Gospel of St. Luke said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence, the holy offspring to be born will be called Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

        Lastly, emphasizing theD union of Father and Son (the Word) from all eternity, the Gospel of St. John records, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) and then presents the Incarnation, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love” (John 1:14).

        In these verses, we find the ineffable mystery of Jesus Christ, true God who became true man.

        • Thanks Happy, for your comments.

          You mention important points that I’ve biblically studied for quite some time, and I’ll make a response later (Deo volente).

          I want to say, Happy Jack, that it’s good to have you on board the ‘HMS Psephizo’, and presenting a Roman Catholic perspective on things.

          God bless you, sir – and all yours.

        • Hi, Happy Jack;

          In response to your first point :

          Jesus (as He explicitly asserted in the Gospel of John in response to mistaken Jewish charges that He was claiming to be ‘God’) is ‘the Son of God’ (see John 10:33-36′), and the Messiah (see John 4: 25-26).

          Indeed the whole purpose to John’s Gospel was to inculcate faith in Jesus as being the ‘Messiah’ and the ‘Son of God’ (see John 20:31 – which was the original ending of John’s Gospel.)

          Consequently, the reason why Jesus was never accused accused of being ‘God’ during post-arrest trial, is because Jesus never claimed to be ‘God’ -not even in John 8:58, where ‘ego eimi’ is an oblique reference to ‘Messiah’. Note how Jesus’ first use of ‘ego eimi’ is a reference to him being the ‘Messiah’ (John 4:26). Note also how Matthew in his parallel passage to Mark 13:6, interprets ‘ego eimi’ in Mark 13:6, as a reference to the ‘Messiah’ in Matt. 24:5. Note also how the NET Bible in its footnotes, believes that ‘ego eimi’ in John 8:24 is a reference to Jesus being the ‘Messiah’. Hence, as C.B. Williams (et al) in his N.T. Translation renders ‘ego eimi’ in John 8:24 and 8:28 as a reference to the “Messiah”. Furthermore, the direct aftermath of the John 8:58 incident is taken up again in John 10:24, where His Jewish enemies directly confront Him, saying :

          “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? Tell us PLAINLY [not obliquely, as in John 8:58] ; Are you the Messiah?”

          Jesus replies “I have told you”.

          But when has Jesus told them? Most probably in John 8:58 !

          • @ Pellegrino

            To the ears of a Jew, John 8:58 is hardly oblique! He’s using the Divine name “I am”.

            In fact, Jesus refers to Himself with the Divine name—”I am” —in several places. This “I am” formula is a reference back to the Divine Name revealed to Moses in Ex. 3:14. Not only does Jesus refer to Himself as “I am” four times in John’s Gospel (see John 8:24; 58; 13:19 and 18:5-6), but when He does so in John 8:58, the Jews to whom he was speaking understood his meaning because they immediately wanted to stone Him for blasphemy!

          • @ Happy Jack

            Thanks for your comments. In response :

            (1). In John 9:9, the former blind man proclaims in self-reference :

            “Ego eimi”.

            Was he then claiming to be ‘God’, as well, Happy Jack ?

            (2). God in the New Testament is called “ho on” ( = “the One Who is”) in the New Testament, not ‘ego eimi’.

            (3). ‘Ego eimi’ in John 8:58 can legitimately be translated in a past tense. Thus, for example, Moffatt translates ‘ego eimi’ as :

            “I have existed” ,

            – NOT as “I am”.

            (4). It is highly unusual for Jesus to deny that He was ‘God’, in John 10:33-36; if He had, supposedly, already claimed to be God, in John 8:58.

            (5). If Jesus had ever claimed to be God at any time, then why was it mysteriously, never brought up at His trial?

            (6). False prophets blaspheme God by misrepresenting Him. Jesus was accused of being a false spokesman of God (John 8: – and thus defaming (i.e. ‘blaspheming’) God.

            (7). Jesus said that there was ONLY ONE GOD, WHO IS THE FATHER. (John 17:3; 20:17; Rev. 3:12).

  3. Specifically, on the point of Son of Man, here is a contribution Ian permitted in the past. In his patience, he may permit a reiteration, although it is of some length:

    From a chapter, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, in a book Name above all Names, co-authored by Alistair Begg and Dr Sinclair B Ferguson:
    In the Gospels Jesus called himself the Son of Man on about 50 separate occasions (not counting parallel passages) … the speaker is nearly always Jesus, so it was likely his favourite self-designation of his identity, work and significance of his ministry.

    1. Daniel:There is little doubt from his words that he saw the Daniel’s vision as background, which had three elements to it
    1) The coming reign of God
    2) The certain judgment of evil
    3) The promise of the son of Man – coming to the throne of majesty on high, the Ancient of days, as one of unparalleled triumph, magnificence and glory and receiving authority over the whole cosmos.

    2. Ezekiel: the expression son of man occurs most frequently here, marking out Ezekiel as a faithful (or here is a true man, entrusting himself wholly to God for his mission).

    Psalm 8: Is a significant appearance of the term, meditation of creation and goodness of God creating man in his image, Adam.
    “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him”.
    Jesus is the “Proper Man” (Martin Luther). “Man as he was created to be and the man who fulfils man’s destiny.”

    3. Bible Big Picture: Adam, created to be the first son of man to exercise dominion in the name of God. He sinned and fell. Jesus, the second Man and the *last Adam* to exercise dominion over the macro cosmos.
    “The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing”. John 5:19 “I have given the words that you gave me.” John17:7-8

    “That is what it means to be the Son of Man ” – made in God’s image to fulfil the divine glorious destiny with fellowship, love and affection. Jesus is the one who will accomplish all this.

    “4 Direction of travel:
    In Daniel 7, the Son of Man comes to the Ancient of Days. This refers to his post resurrection ascension and enthronement at the right hand of the Father, not the end, but mid-point of time. (There will be a consummated kingdom -see later)
    “His *coming* is actually his *going* to the Ancient of days clothed in our humanity, having done all that Adam had failed to do, and having taken the judgment Adam and we deserve.
    “From now on, the kingdom he has gained will be shared with all of his saints.”

    5 “Psalm 24:Early Church fathers thought Psalm24 envisaged this climatic moment.

    6 “So the immediate focus of Daniel’s vision is the completion of the earthly ministry of Jesus, the fruit of his first coming.


    The Son of Man sayings of Jesus fall into three categories:
    1 Sayings that describe the incarnate Son of Man establishing his kingdom (e.g. Matthew 3:13 through 7)
    2. The suffering Son of Man, paying the redemption price for the kingdom, e.g. Matt 16:21
    3. Jesus, the triumphant Son of Man who will consummate his kingdom.
    The Son of Man is now sharing the kingdom of God with his saints in all the nations, the last days have begun, the Spirit pored out on all flesh and we await the time when the triumph of the Son of man will be visible everywhere. The kingdom now, but not yet.
    1 Corinthians 15.

  4. @ Richard Eves – thank you for your comments.

    Yes, Matt 8: 19-20 is about the cost of following Jesus but as a man, aren’t they costs that Christ also bears in His humanity? So, HJ reads it as a statement of solidarity with His disciples.

    HJ acknowledges Luke 7:34 is a stretch and you are correct about its context. However, it does also show that Jesus, like all men, despite His Divine nature, He needs to eat and drink!

  5. Once a minister was visiting a rural parish and he was preaching on this parable. He had done his homework, and so talked of darnel as the weed. At the end of the service he was at the door, and one old boy comes up to him and says, “thank’ee for your sermon, parson. But there is one thing which puzzles me. What is this ‘darnel’ of which you speak?” So, the visitor, showing his erudition describes all he knows about the plant. “Oh”, says the old man, “that’s what we call tares.”

  6. I would like some more detail around – is not ‘conscious eternal torment’ …not even for ‘all law breakers’?? what is this fire then? thank you

    • Fire in the OT always signifies destruction, not torment. The ‘everlasting’ nature of the punishment means that it is final, and in particular such people find no life in the ‘age to come’ (which is what ‘eternal’ refers to, just as our English word is related to aeon.)

  7. Does not this parable refer back to the Eden account of God creating a *good* world i.e God was well pleased with His work and an enemy introduced a *bad* seed i.e. doubt of God’s goodness half truths,lies resulting in death i.e. murder. But a promise given by God that a good seed would come to crush Satan’s head?

    From the beginning of time there has been cosmic warfare. All of the Bible has a continual history of warfare, which by the way the pacifistic think God was a vindictive despot.
    Moses declared Ex 15:3
    The JAH [LORD] is a man of war: the JAH [LORD] is his name
    Jesus’ reason for come to earth;
    Matthew 10:34–36 describes Jesus telling the disciples that He came not to bring peace to the world, but a sword to set a man at variance….
    1 john3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
    As for the Church those weeds are sown localy and universally

    The curse on Adam was that [in spite of all his efforts to produce good bread, the earth was cursed to produce weeds that the sweat of his brow[effort] could not eliminate.
    However Paul encourages the saints Rom 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly…
    The Church Militant is and should be engaged in pulling down Strongholds and thoughts that exalt themselves against the Knowledge of God.
    To see this happening in response to prayer and faith is the joy and heritage of the righteous.
    Psalm 49:5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
    149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
    149:7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
    149:8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
    149:9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
    Ironically I see that Pellegrino was first on this thread sowing his Arian Non christian dogma.
    On the last thread he lost his voice. Probably waiting for the reel to be changed.

    • I didn’t realise Pelegrino was a unitarian. It makes me read his comment in a different light, though I think the responses have been helpful nontheless. Do you know what flavour of unitarian he is? (Adoptionist, subordinationist, angel-christology, etc)

      • Hi, Richard;

        I’m a great enthusiast of the historian and physician Dr. Luke (the co-worker of the beloved apostle Paul), and the good Doctor invaluable works, the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of Apostles. Beloved Dr. Luke gets a thumbs up from me, for his crucial historical labours. Where would would we be without them?

        • Hi Pellegrino

          Well it seems like a commitment to receiving in faith the whole of the Scripture’s testimony to the identity and nature of the Christ is some thing we have in common.

          Can I ask you then, in your view, what the scripture teaches about the nature of Jesus of Nazareth, who has the office of Christ. Is he a man only, an angel or some other spiritual being yet not Yahweh, Yahweh’s first creature, an ontologically subordinate part of the God head, the co-equal co eternal second person of the Trinity…

          Are any of these close to your view, or do you see something else, and if so what?

          • Hi, Richard;

            I’m keenly interested in the earliest stage of Christian origins, and what the very first Christians believed. As such, I find the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ fascinating, and I believe that what Peter preached in Acts 2:14-39, and 10:34-43, represented accurately earliest Christological belief. Is there anything in particular within Peter’s sermons that you would personally object to?

            I just reading this morning, the book “The Christian Doctrine of God”, by William Newton Clarke. I think he makes an important point:

            “The word ‘Trinity’ is never used [in the New Testament], and there is no indication that the idea of the Trinity had taken form. It has long been a common practice to read the New Testament as if the idea of a later [post-New Testament] age upon this subject [i.e. the Trinity] were in it, but they are not. In the days of the apostles, the doctrine of the Trinity was yet to be created.”

            p. 230; ibid.

            Emil Brunner, essentially agreed :

            ” The Doctrine of the Trinity is not a Biblical doctrine…it is the product of [post-New Testament] theological reflection.”

            “The Christian Doctrine of God”; 1949, p.236.

          • @ Pellegrino

            >>I’m keenly interested in the earliest stage of Christian origins, and what the very first Christians believed<<

            The "first Christians" being who? The Evangelists? The Apostles?

            Various errors in the early centuries of the Church arose concerning Christ. The heresy of Docetism denied the humanity of Christ; Arianism denied the Divinity of Christ;

            Later heresies also arose: Nestorianism, which asserted that Christ was a Divine person joined to a human person; monophysitism which posited that the Divine nature of Christ absorbed the human nature of Christ; monothelitism posited that the Divine will of Christ absorbed the human will.

            The Council of Chalcedon (451), the fourth Ecumenical Council, provided a very precise declaration:

            “Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to His divinity and consubstantial with us as to His humanity; ‘like us in all things but sin.’

            He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to His divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to His humanity of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation.

            The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person and one hypostasis.”

          • @Pellegrino

            Of course I accept all of the two sermons from Peter whole heartedly.

            Are you suggesting that their message is in some way in tension with the rest of the rest of the New Testament? All orthodox christians believe that Jesus possessed a human nature. Just as we believe in his pre existence (Jude 2:5), his eternally shared glory with the Father (John 17:5) , his agency in creation (1 Corinthians 8:6), his status as the one ‘in whom the fullness of God dwells bodily’ (Colossians 2:9), his immutablity (Hebrews 2:10-12), that he is a right recipient of the worship which is reserved for God alone (Revelation 5:8, 22:8-9), that he has the authority to forgive sins which is reserved to God alone (Mark 2:10), that he has an everlasting kingdom ( Matthew 26:64), that he considered himself to be the ego eimi (John 8:58) … etc.
            Is there any particual part of this wider teaching of the New Testament that you object to?

          • To Richard;

            My main interest is primarily focused on what the Christians of the First century actually believed, rather than in retrojection of post-New Testament presuppositions and ideas back into the New Testament data.

            I’ll give you an example, with material drawn directly from the New Testament :

            Peter said that Jesus was “a man”, through Whom God worked (Acts 2:22; NIV).

            Paul said that Jesus was “a man” (Acts 17:31, CEB : 1 Cor. 15:21, ESV).

            The biblical creed of 1 Tim. 2:5 states that Jesus was “a man”. (‘The Emphasized Bible’).

            Jesus Himself, states that He was “a man” (John 8:40, ASV).

            Can you show me any post-New Testament “Creed” that, with equal clarity, states that Jesus was “a man” ( as opposed to generic “Man”, but not “a man”) ?

          • @ Happy Jack, 18 July; 2:49 pm.

            The first Christians were the circa 120 people who received the holy Spirit, as recorded by Luke in Acts 2:1-4.

            Thank you for the excerpt from the ‘Chalcedonian Definition’ – which is not accepted, of course, by the ‘Orthodox Oriental Churches’. The ‘Chalcedonian Definition’ appears to be noteworthy, in that :

            1. It goes against the New Testament in refusing to call Jesus, “a man”.

            2. It uses non-biblical terms and language to express itself.

            3. It does not use the term ” only-begotten god/God” found in a variant reading of John 1:18 – which suggests that this particular reading was rejected by the Council, in favour of the “only-begotten Son’ reading of John 1:18 (which is probably correct).

          • To Pellegrino:

            I’m afraid I’m going to have to object to your description of my plain-sense reading of the NT documents as “retrojection of post-New Testament presuppositions and ideas back into the New Testament data.” I’m sure that you understand that what you have done here is beg the question. ‘Since the deity of Christ is a post NT concept, any claims that there are texts in the NT which affirm the doctrine are in fact simply misinterpetations, influenced by the post NT developments’. Which, of course, is not a legitimate reponse to the question, ‘Do the NT documents teach the deity of Christ?’

            I cited multiple texts (and could have cited many more) but let me drill into just one.

            In Hebrews 1:10-12, the author is drawing the distinction between the nature of angels and the nature of The Son. He does this by citing passages from the OT which he says are God speaking about the Son. One passage the writer cites is Psalm 102:25-27

            10 [God] also says,

            “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
            and the heavens are the work of your hands.
            11 They will perish, but you remain;
            they will all wear out like a garment.
            12 You will roll them up like a robe;
            like a garment they will be changed.
            But you remain the same,
            and your years will never end.”

            The writer to the Hebrews plainly states that this passage from the Psalms, describing Yahweh’s work of creation and His immutability, is a description of The Son, that is Jesus Christ. That’s not me imposing my external theological presupostions on the text, it’s just what the text says.

            It seems like the only way to escape this conclusions would be to say that the author to the Hebrews is wrong. Is that your view?

          • Re : Richard, July 19 8:46 pm.

            Hi, Richard (‘Ricardo’);

            Thanks for your question on the Epistle to the Hebrews.

            I could give you a top-of-head response, but I want to give you a more detailed response. I’ll get back to you, tomorrow (Deo volente).

            In the meantime, I want you to think about this quick question :

            When Jesus called the Father : ‘the Only (Gk. monon) True God’; and then backed His statement up in John 20:17; and Rev. 3:12 (cf. also, Rev. 1:6; and Rev. 4:10); then :

            Was Jesus (Who is “The Truth”) telling the truth, or was He telling an untruth ?

            God bless you, Ricardo.

          • Hi Pellegrino

            Thanks for your willingness to thoughtfully interact.

            My reflection on your question about Jesus referring to His Father as ‘The only true God’ in John 17:3 would be, “How else is Jesus supposed to refer to the Father?”

            There are two affirmations in Jesus’ statement, that the Father is a true God, and that there is only one true God. Not to labour the point, but that means there are therefore four possible different positions you could take on these issues.

            1 – The Father is one among many true Gods – Polytheism
            2 – The Father is one among many false Gods – Atheism
            3 – The Father is the only true God – Monotheism
            4 – The Father is the only false God – Antitheism?

            Since Jesus was a Jewish monotheist, option 3 was the only way he would ever refer to the Father. It seems like the point you are making boils down to a denial that trinitarians are monotheists, which clearly every trinitarian would completely reject. This seems to parallel your constant recourse to passages asserting Jesus’ humanity, which of course every orthodox trinitarian would die defending. Neither of these points actually engage the trintarian position on what the NT teaches at any point of contention. Trinitarians are monotheists who affirm the humanity of Jesus, because those are both things the Bible teaches. It’s just that that isn’t ALL that the Bible teaches.

            Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Hebrews 1.

          • Hi, Richard;

            There are a number of interpretive options to explain what the author of the Hebrews Epistle was trying to convey. One of them is ‘Wisdom Christology’. I’ll explain tomorrow – when I get my notes in order. Stand by.

          • To Richard (‘Ricardo’) :

            World leading Christologists such as James D.G. Dunn, and George B. Caird believe that the author of the ‘Epistle to the Hebrews’ employed ‘Wisdom Christology’. This entails the belief that Jesus embodied God’s ‘wisdom’ (cf. I Cor. 1:24), creative power, plan, and wise ordering, by which God (the Father) solely created the universe (cf. Isa. 44:24).

            Consequently, according to an Hebraic mindset (which poetically, personified attributes of the one Creator God – such as God’s ‘Logos’ (i.e. His ‘mind’; ‘reason’ or ‘plan’, et al), or ‘Wisdom’ (cf. Prov. 8), as the man, Jesus (cf. Hebrews 2:6-15), embodied God’s ‘Wisdom’, which created the world (cf. Prov.8), Jesus could be figuratively (by metonymy) be described as creating the ‘heavens and the earth’. As George B Caird (Oxford Professor of Biblical Exegesis) points out, the reason why many find this idea somewhat strange, is because they do not fully understand the ancient Jewish mindset – which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, shared.

            Another complementary, interpretive option to explaining Hebrews 1:10 -12, is that Hebrews 1:10-12 is a reference to God (Father), not to the Son; because these verses effectively represent a doxological eruption of honour to the God (the Father), Who has made His Son Jesus, the Messianic King (cf. Heb. 1:6-9a). The closest personal antecedent to Hebrews 1:10, is God (not the Son), as mentioned in Hebrews 1:9b – and thus Hebrews 1:10 is a reference to God (the Father), and not to the Son.

  8. REF. Richard Eves
    July 17, 2023 at 6:21 pm
    pellagrino is quite an elusive character. pellegrino may not be just one person. Pellegrino may not be a surname as it
    literally translates as A wanderer, seeking a holy place.
    He flatters correspondents Quotes Scriptures which he views through his Arian lense. Many have tried to engage with him but he never responds to direct questions[ see Ian’s last post.]
    Generally folks tend to ignore him or challenge his view of his truth.

    • Alan;

      Of course I respond to direct questions. I’ve just done it to yours, on another thread.

      As for “A wanderer seeking a holy place” –

      that sounds a bit like a Pilgrim !

      • Hi P,
        I was reading Judges 13. It seems to be trinitarian to me. The story employs the words God, The Lord, I AM, and the Angel of the Lord quite deliberately. What’s your take on this passage?

        • Hi, Steve;

          Good to hear from you, Steve. God bless you.

          I’ll get back to you, later (Deo volente). I’ve got some important things to say about the ‘Angel of Yahweh’ / Angel of the Lord; derived from study footnotes in the ESV and NIV Study Bibles. Stay tuned ! 🙂

          • Dear Oliver (Harrison);

            Although dear Alan (Kempson) appears to be utterly convinced that only ‘Arians’ literally believe Jesus’ plain words in John 17:3 (which are endorsed and confirmed by His further words in John 20:17; and Rev. 3:12; cf. also, Rev. 1:6; and Rev. 5:9-10),

            that the Father is :

            “the ONLY (Gk. Monon) True God”,

            I am (as I have repeated on numerous occasions, to dear Alan) not an Arian, nor a ‘Jehovah’s Witness’. Furthermore, I have never been a ‘Jehovah’s Witness’, nor do I ever plan to be one.

            Are you, by any chance, a ‘Jehovah’s Witness’, Oliver ?

        • Hi, Steve;

          Sorry for the delay.

          The NIV Study Bible with its notes upon the the ‘Angel of the Lord’ (= ‘the Angel of Yahweh’) in Gen. 16:7, believes that this Angel may not be the second person of the Trinity, as has been traditionally thought, but merely a supernatural angel that was sent and authorized by God (i.e. Yahweh/the Father) to act as His “agent-representative”. This is based upon the ancient Jewish ‘Shaliach’ concept (i.e. A person’s ‘shaliach’ [agent-representative] acts as, and in the name of, the Sender). Thus Stephen (a man full of the holy Spirit and wisdom) states that Moses received the Law, not directly from God, but via His angels (who acted as His “Agent-representatives”); cf. Acts 7:30-38. The ESV Study Bible takes the same approach as regards the “Angel of the Lord/Yahweh”, with its notes too, on Gen. 16:7.

    July 16, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    My question to Pellegrino was “Pray tell us what or who are the Restoration groups ” In it’s better forms” are?
    Dear Alan;
    Some of the groups that came out of the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement, don’t seem too bad, Alan.
    Some of the groups that came out of the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement, don’t seem too bad, Alan.
    What do you think?

    It’s almost like trying to get a straight answer out of a snake
    So, MY question was “Pray tell us what or who are the Restoration groups ”
    * In its better forms * are?
    So your answer was* Some of the groups* that came out of the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement, don’t seem too bad, Alan.

    Again which are the* Some of the groups*? that came out of the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement,?
    From what I know of the Stone-Campbell Movement [note, not a church]
    Within this *movement* there are so many divisions and subsects it appears that each congregations led by its hierarchy does that which is* right in its own eyes *
    the Stone-Campbell Movement looks like an Eton Mess in comparison to the current predicament[s] of the C of E . That said, we do seem to be heading in your direction!
    Of this movement, wanting to *Restore* New Testament Christianity, is the core belief of Baptismal Regeneration.
    Does baptism save a person from hell?
    Answer: No, for the following reasons:
    Baptism is not a part of the gospel. To include baptism in the gospel is to add a work to Christ’s work on the cross. It means that if we must be baptized in order to be saved, then Christ’s work on the cross was not good enough to pay for our sins. Those groups who believe in baptismal regeneration (the error that baptism saves us from hell) include:
    Church of Christ, Roman Catholics, some Lutherans, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Mormons (LDS), Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), and Apostolics (Jesus Only or United Pentecostals).
    See for a more comprehensive discussion of this subject.

  10. This parable always remind me of Romans 2:4 (“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”) and 2 Peter 3:9 (“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”) However, those verses say that people can change (repent) whereas in the parable their nature and destiny is set from the start — a sort of Calvinistic predestination.


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