Category Archives: Seminary Notes

What is Holy Saturday?

The Passion Week provides diverse theological emotions for the people of God. Palm Sunday commences with the entrance of a divine King riding on a donkey. He comes in ancient royal transportation. The royal procession illicit shouts of benediction, but concludes only a few days later with shouts of crucifixion as the king is hung on a tree.

The Church also celebrates Maundy Thursday as our Messiah provides a new commandment to love one another just as He loved us. The newness of the commandments is not an indication that love was not revealed prior (Lev. 19), but that love is now incarnate in the person of love, Jesus Christ. We then proceed to sing of the anguish of that Good Friday as our blessed Lord is humiliated by soldiers and scolded by the offensive words of the religious leaders of the day. As he walks to the Mount, his pain testifies to Paul’s words that he suffered even to the point of death (Phil. 2)But hidden in this glaringly distasteful mixture of blood, vinegar, and bruised flesh is the calmness of the day after our Lord’s crucifixion.

After fulfilling the great Davidic promise in Psalm 22, our Lord rests from his labors in the tomb. Whatever may have happened in those days before his resurrection, we know that Christ’s work as the unblemished offering of love was finished.

The Church calls this day Blessed Sabbath or more commonly, Holy Saturday. On this day, our Lord reposed (rested) from his accomplishments. Many throughout history also believe that Holy Saturday is a fulfillment of Moses’ words:

God blessed the seventh day. This is the blessed Sabbath. This is the day of rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works . . .(Gen. 2:2)

The Church links this day with the creation account. On day seven Yahweh rested and enjoyed the fruit of his creation. Jesus Christ also rested in the rest given to him by the Father and enjoyed the fruits of the New Creation he began to establish and would be brought to light on the next day.

As Alexander Schmemann observed:

Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

Holy Saturday is a day of rest for God’s people; a foretaste of the true Rest that comes in the Risen Christ. The calmness of Holy Saturday makes room for the explosion of Easter Sunday. On this day, we remember that the darkness of the grave and the resting of the Son were only temporary for when a New Creation bursts into the scene the risen Lord of glory cannot contain his joy, and so he gives it to us.

The Visions of Zechariah

James Jordan has argued persuasively that these visions are creational visions. They parallel the creation account. These visions of Zechariah speak of Yahweh cleansing the temple sight and the high priest, so Israel may re-build the temple and make it into a house of prayer for all the nations. The temple and the people are being re-made by the Creator himself.

Exegetical Notebook

One of the great papers we have to write in Greek Exegesis is a an Exegetical Notebook. This notebook follows a litany of comprehensive questions regarding a particular pericope in Galatians. I have chosen Galatians 4:6-7: And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

In particular verse 7 offers several variant readings. Nevertheless, the NASB translates it correctly by using “through God” as opposed to the other reading possibilities. Perhaps I will discuss this in the future.

Jeremiah and Daniel

This morning I am taking Jeremiah and Daniel with Professor Tremper Longman. What a gifted communicator! Tremper adds a unique perspective into Old Testament literature. Here’s a sample quote from today’s lecture:

Don’t spend all your time arguing against what the text doesn’t mean, but actually what it means. The Literary approach means reading text as whole texts. It means that genre is critical to interpretive text. The Bible is written in different genres. And different genres require different reading strategies.

Sinclair Ferguson on the Relationship between church and kingdom

news_ferguson_207x270.jpgWhat then is the relationship between the church and the kingdom? The theme of the kingdom is referred to 100 plus times in the gospels. Through Jesus the kingdom has broken through. Can the term basileia always be substituted for ekklesia? No. However closely related, they are not defined by each other. What then is the relationship?

Ridderbos says: (354)”…basileia is the great divine work of salvation in its fullness and consummation in Christ. All Kingdom authority is his. Ekklesia is the people elect/called by God who share in the bliss of the kingdom.” The church is constituted by the people of the kingdom. The church is the people of God, called by God that already share in the bliss of the yet to be consummated kingdom. There are three things we can say about the church and the kingdom:

(1)The church manifests the kingdom. The church is the family to which the working of the kingdom gives birth. The church on earth is an interim imperfect pre-eschatological manifestation of the kingdom. This is one of the main themes of Mt 13; parables of the wheat and the tares. The tares are mixed up with the good seed. Despite the presence of the tares, the righteous grow. The purpose is to indicate that the presence of this community is a present manifestation of the kingdom… it is the pre-eschatological form of the manifestation of the kingdom.

(2)The church is the sphere in which the kingdom expresses itself in this age. Mt 4:23ff There is a contrast between the now and the then. The present working of the kingdom is a not yet consummated working. Where can I see the kingdom of God working? In the church. The church is the sphere in which the transforming power of the kingdom is visible.
(a)The beatitudes are expressions of the Kingdom through Jesus in the church. Miracles are not just acts of power, but localized works which show what the kingdom will look like when all things are restored. A momentary glimpse of how it will be. Miracles are Jesus momentarily switching on the light. There is going to be a final regeneration of all things. The power is seen not only in miracles but in the moral transformation of those whose lives have begun to be transformed to the kingdom.
(i)The life of a disciple is the moral version of the physical miracle. In this imperfect form, we are given illustrations of what it will be.

(3)The Church is the instrument of the establishment of the kingdom in the world. The church is salt of the earth; light of the world; a city that can’t be hidden. The church is seen as the temporary manifestation of the Kingdom. It becomes the bridging community of the Kingdom, until it fills and transforms the entire universe.

Sinclair Ferguson teaches his last class at RTS/Orlando

I just found out today that Dr. Sinclair Ferguson will no longer be teaching at RTS during Winter classes. I am very thankful to have sat under this godly and brilliant man. His lectures on the church and the sacraments have truly accentuated my already present interest on these doctrines. During the next few weeks I will continue to post some of his quotes from the class I just took entitled: Ecclesiology and the Sacraments (Systematic Theology IV).

Sinclair Ferguson on the Peter “Saying” in Matthew 16:18

The significance of the “Peter Saying” and what Jesus says to Him.
This Peter saying is significant in the post-apostolic years. It has been controversial — the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome vs. the bishops of other cities. In the very primitive word, the Peter saying was simply a saying that was fulfilled in the Acts of Apostles. Look at Acts, and you will see this saying fulfilled.
Tertullian 155-220AD: These words have nothing to do with anyone else but Peter. He is trying to stop the argument of apostolic succession. They refer to Peter, personally. They focus on Peter as an individual believer, at most as a representative of believers but not as an individual to be succeeded. Peter as the first of a series is already current in the church.

Origen: He believed in the spiritual meaning of the text, and said that it applies to the those who share the same role. As to the letter, it describes Peter’s role in the church in the spirit.

Cyprian 200-258AD: He argues that the words refer to Peter as a representative of the disciples not in distinction from them. He is not an isolated individual, but as one from the rest of the apostles. He says that these words imply a particular Petrine authority but sees that authority as being expressed in Peter not as an exclusive member but inclusive member. Thus, Peter’s authority guarantees the authority that belongs to all the apostles. Thus, the authority of the bishop of Rome must be shared with the other bishops.

Augustine late 4th and 5th : Later in life, he believed that the “rock ” is Jesus himself.

Luther: Jesus is saying that Peter is the rock-man because he recognized the true rock. Luther is both having his cake and eating it too.

Calvin: …whose exegetical skills are better than Luther’s, sees an implied contrast between this motley lot, and what the Lord is going to build (the church). Basically, he was saying that on a modest lot such as Peter, he would build his church. From this little confession, will come a great Church. It has in view the faith of all Christians shared in common with Peter and his Redemptive Historical preeminence…

Harmony of the Gospels 2, p186. On the one hand Peter’s confessed faith is in view here, but we cannot deny the Redemptive Historical context here as well.

Sinclair Ferguson on the “Ecclesia” (Church)

While the language of “ecclesia” is used seldom, the message of the Church is implicit throughout the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was building the Church ultimately on the foundation of his own death and resurrection…and until that was clear in the minds of the disciples and as a fact of history, it could not be clear to them exactly what he meant by building his ecclesia. There is in Peter’s mind an illumination into the mind of Jesus, but an inability to understand what Jesus meant… they didn’t understand that the church of Jesus Christ was going to be built on the cross… and cross-bearing. There is a genuine messianic secret and an ecclesial secret that goes hand in hand until the nature of Jesus is revealed. He has not come simply to save isolated individuals, but to bring about community.

Is Islam inherently violent?

Today I had a most helpful discussion in class. As I has mentioned earlier, I had a debate on the topic of Islam, specifically is ” Islam inherently violent?” I took the pro position affirming that Islam is inherently violent on the basis of the Koranic writings, the expansion of Islam, their treatment of apostates, treatment of women, Muhammad’s example, and the application of Shari’a (Islamic Law) in nations all over the world. Though these arguments were forceful I was astounded by some of the consequences of this line of thinking. For instance, to affirm that Islam has grown through military conquest is also to affirm that in Israel’s history there was conquest through military extermination of entire cities.

Further, I have probed into the idea of how this affects my ideas on law and ethics in a thoroughly Christianized society in which the law of God reigns supreme in all the earth. If Muslisms and other non-Chistian religions must bow down to the law of God, then does it not follow that this is a form of violence, since imposition by nature is violent?

The excellent question raised by the defender of the con position was in regards to the very definition of “inherent.” That is, does the question ” Is Islam inherently violent” have any meaning since “inherent” is defined as a quality without which a religion cannot exist? The answer to this question at the outset would indicate that the entire discussion carries no real fruit since most would recognize that violence is not central to Islamic theology. But, I believe it is important to realize that “violence” is in fact necessary to Islamic theology, since if there were no initial military conquest there would be no expansion and if there were no expansion then the religion of Islam today would have been nothing more than a passing fad in the corridors of history. We would have discussed another religion this morning.

There is certainly much more work to be done in this topic, but for now I am convinced that the corruption of Islam is found in its main pillar, which is faith in the Islamic Creed which says, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” It is in the application and lack of submission to this mandate that the topic of violence becomes even more pertinent.