According to Jesus’ own words (Luke 12:49), he came in order to send fire upon the earth, but what does he mean? During the days of John the Baptist, John claimed that the Messiah was about to arrive on the scene, and he would baptize folks, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16). God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24), which, if used in the context of Jesus’ baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire, must have something to do with judgment (cf. Mark 9:43-48) and refining or purifying (cf. Malachi 3:2-3). The sense seems to be that some believers are unable to endure persecution that inevitably comes with obeying Jesus (cf. Luke 12:4-5, 8-12). Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: fire
Jesus tells us in Luke 12:5 the God has to power to cast folks into hell, and implies that he will do exactly that when some folks are judged. The question is, however, does Jesus mean what so many modern Christians understand him to mean? The Greek word Jesus used for hell is gehenna (G1067). The word is derived from Hinnom, the name of a valley just off the southwest wall of Jerusalem. It was a place where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children to the Phoenician god, Molech. King Josiah destroyed its altars and filled it with dead bodies in order to make it unclean for any kind of worship. Later the Jews turned it into a garbage dump where they burned the city’s refuse. Read the rest of this entry »
Jesus steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 9:51). He sent messengers (James and John) into a village to prepare for him (Luke 9:52, 54), but the people would not receive him (Luke 9:53). The folks in Samaria held only to the Torah for their Scriptures, and because they celebrated the same three great feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) as the Jews at Jerusalem, they refused to extend their hospitality to Jesus and his disciples (Luke 9:53). They would not have celebrated Hanukkah or Purim, which aren’t mentioned in the Law, and which had meaning only for the Jews who worshiped in Jerusalem. Therefore, what Luke 9:53 tells us is that the Samaritans took offense, because Jesus seemed to prefer the Jews at Jerusalem over them, because he made it obvious that he intended to celebrate the next great feast of Leviticus 23, the Passover, at Jerusalem and not with the people of Samaria. Read the rest of this entry »
If the Day of the Lord arrived today, what would it look like? What do the Scriptures say about this day, and should we understand them literally or is there another way to see them that fulfills what we are told, but doesn’t destroy everything God created? Peter writes about the “world that then was” as he speaks of the judgment of the Flood, implying that the heavens and earth existing in Peter’s day were different from what we would have found before the Flood. Yet, not only did the old heavens and earth pass away to make room for that which Peter knew, but Peter tells us to look for new heavens and a new earth different from what he knew. In other words, the Scriptures speak three times of God making new heavens and a new earth, the final one coming with the Day of the Lord. What does all this mean, and can we know? Read the rest of this entry »
Many modern critics of the Bible have a vested interest in the idea that Jesus (if they even admit that he ever existed) is both dead and buried somewhere near Jerusalem. It wasn’t really that much different in the first century AD. The idea of anyone rising from the dead was completely foreign to what people might think about a hero or an enemy. Such a thing had no place in the worldview of Hellenistic society or any other ancient culture, despite what some folks like to say today. Peter claimed in 2Peter 3:5 that the scoffers of that day were willingly ignorant or forgetful. The reason being, they have a vested interest in the idea that Jesus must be dead and could not be the Messiah (cf. Mark 12:6-7). Dead men don’t live again, or so they wished it were true (2Peter 2:1-3; 3:5). What they desired to be so ruled their reasoning of what should be true, so their foolish hearts were darkened (2Peter 2:4; Romans 1:21). Read the rest of this entry »
Jesus said that at least part of his commission in coming into the world was to kindle a fire on the earth (Luke 12:49a). This was said in the context of his coming in judgment upon his disciples (Luke 12:22-48), and in the context of his own crucifixion (Luke 12:50) or judgment at the hands of men. The fire of which Jesus spoke was the fire of suffering (judgment), for some, it means being persecuted for righteousness. Jesus seems to say that this fire of judgment is already lit (Luke 12:49b; cf. 6:11; 11:53), in that he was already being persecuted (John 5:16), which would culminate in his own death. Moreover, if Jesus was persecuted, it follows that anyone who claims to be his disciple would also be persecuted (John 15:20; cf. Luke 12:45). Therefore, in his first epistle Peter sought to encourage the believers in Asia Minor, concerning their present condition and how that condition served God’s purpose, and, not only so, but he also shows that judgment would come to their persecutors.
In a previous blog post (HERE), I described the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the Messiah’s baptism as referred to by John (Luke 3:16-17). Nevertheless, John describes the Messiah’s baptism as one “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16; cf. Matthew 3:11). That is, it seems John referred to a single baptism or an immersion in both the Holy Spirit and fire. Some have understood John to mean Jesus would baptize his disciples with the Holy Spirit and the world (or those who reject him) with fire, but I don’t think John meant that at all. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 3:11) the single preposition en (G1722) is used for both the Holy Spirit and fire, indicating a single baptism. Read the rest of this entry »