Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mindful of Dates


Charles Daily


Didn’t you mean A.D. 30? No, A.D. 40.


Let’s look at the church after it had been going for a decade. It was a growing and united body without inspired documents.

The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7 NASB)

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (Acts 9:31 NASB)

Can we restore this condition? We have a much better opportunity if we can define what the Church of A.D. 40 believed - and didn’t believe.

How did people become a part of the body? God’s man Peter had defined it clearly in Acts 2. Those who believed were to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins and then would receive the Holy Spirit.

In our time, there are many objections to this. One will say, “Here in John . . .” Please let me interrupt. The church of A.D. 40 didn’t have the book of John. It was written about 40 years later.

“But here in Romans it says . . .” While I don’t want to be rude, please notice that the church of A. D. 40 didn’t have Romans. It hadn’t been written yet.

The only instructions from the 12 inspired apostles was to repent and be baptized. These words were repeated over and over.

Then there is the Lord’s Supper. It is listed in Acts 2:42 and an example of it is detailed in Acts 20:7. From this we can see the normal practice of believers was to meet on the Lord’s Day for the breaking of bread. An objector brings up “‘As often as you do it . . .’ so we can set the timing any way that is convenient.” Let’s note that the church of A. D. 40 did not have access to this 1 Corinthians 11:25 passage. It has not been written yet, so cannot be expressing the will of God about how often to remember the death of Jesus. Paul was simply calling attention to their standard practice of weekly observance.

I recall looking at an Acts commentary written by a person who objected to instrumental music in the assembly. From Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 he was able to establish that the early church in Acts did not use “mechanical instruments.” The problem is that Paul did not write Ephesians and Colossians until A.D. 60 or beyond. The books could not have been consulted before they were written and they do not shed light on the use or non-use of the instruments in Acts.

One reason for much strife and division in the church is because we do not pay attention to when the books of the New Testament were written. Considering “when written” will go far in clearing up sincere differences. But not all differences are sincere ones. Some are cemented in place by the need for approval from friends.

For those who want to send me to the Hermeneutics teacher’s office for help, my defense is that I have taught hermeneutics at the college level. I have used D.R. Dungan’s Hermeneutics as a supplement and You Can Understand the Bible by Grayson Ensign as a text book.

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