A Quick Heads-Up


Something that has been requested by a few of you is having points of interests (or points to remember) and discussion questions as the end of each article as it is published. Starting today, in four minutes actually, this will be something at the conclusion of any article written about theology, church history, the Bible, etc. My hope is that the points of interest will remind you of the main ideas to keep in mind, and that the questions will prompt you to think more about where you stand on the issue and why, or just to help you do some independent study.

It is my hope that this small addition will help you learn and grow in your Faith!

In Christ,

Aaron

The Significance of the Bread of Life


The Feeding of the Five Thousand by Hendrik de Clerck

In the Gospel according to John there are a total of eight “I AM” statements. Around each of them there are events that help speak to the meaning of the statement. The statements also relate directly to God in the Old Testament, and point to the deity of Christ. In this paper, this author has chosen to examine the first “I AM” statement found in John 6:35, “I AM the bread of life.”

The first I AM statement occurs after a fascinating miracle. So fascinating that Matthew, Mark, and Luke also record the same event in their Gospel’s.[1] This miracle is the feeding of the 5,000, which takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ third year of ministry, before he and his disciples make their way to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 6:4).

At this point in Jesus’ ministry he has become quite popular because of “the signs that he

Get the PDF Version

Get the PDF

was doing on the sick” (v. 2, ESV). Because of his popularity there is a large crowd that follows Jesus and his disciples up a mountain off the coast of the Sea of Galilee.

When Jesus sees the large crowd he asks Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (v. 5). John adds his commentary when he says that Jesus asked this to test him, because Jesus already knew what he was going to do (v. 6). Philip answers the Lord, “two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to eat a little” (v. 7). One denarius was a day’s wage, meaning that 200 denarii would equate to 8 months of income.[2] “But the crowd was so large (v. 10) that even such a large sum of money would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite”.[3]

In response to this problem, Andrew brings to Jesus a boy who has “five barley loaves and two fish” (v. 9). It is with this small amount of food that Jesus feeds the 5,000 so that they all “had eaten their fill” (v. 12).

Added context to the first “I AM” statement is after this miracle has taken place. The next day, Jesus and his disciples arrive in the city of Capernaum (v. 21, 24) and the crowd finds him there. In response to a question from the crowd, Jesus says, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (vv. 26-27). They then ask what they need to do, “to be doing the works of God” (v. 28), to which Jesus responds, “believe” (v. 29).

An amazing part of this passage is the next verse. Keep in mind that the context of all of this is the feeding of the 5,000, as discussed above. In response to Jesus telling them to believe, they essentially say, prove it: “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?” (v. 30). This is the context of the first I AM statement. Just a few verses after this request for Jesus to prove that he is the Son of God Jesus proclaims to the crowd, “I AM the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (v. 35).

As stated in the opening paragraph, all of the “I AM” statements point back to God in the Old Testament. In the verses before the “I AM” statement from Jesus, the crowd tells him that Moses gave their fathers manna to eat from heaven while they were in the wilderness (v. 31). Jesus corrects them and says that it was God who provided the bread (v. 32).

While the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, God provided to them manna every single day. This manna served as their nourishment while they were in the wilderness and provided life for them. Just as Jesus states that he is the Bread of Life, so to was God to the Israelites before they arrived to the promised land.

While the connection with God in the Old Testament to the Bread of Life “I AM” statement is obvious in light of the context, the deity of Christ is even more obvious. The manna that the crowd is speaking about was a temporary solution to a temporary problem that the Israelites had. They needed food to live on a daily basis and God provided this to them as they needed it. Although this is extremely miraculous, the crowd here in John 6 is still only looking after their physical needs in referencing the manna from heaven. Not just the physical need of hunger, but even that of their desire for “a messianic revolt…Manna was thought to be characteristic of the kingdom of God.”[4]

Jesus is not speaking of a physical condition, but a spiritual.

He says to them, “the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven” (v. 33). Immediately Jesus draws a parallel to the manna that came from heaven. Just as it came from heaven, was of God, so to is “he” who comes from heaven. They are both provisions from God. While using the parallel of the manna, Jesus takes a turn in the minds of the crowd and says that this bread, the new bread, “gives life to the world” (v. 33).

He continues the turn, so to speak, in verse 35, “whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” This is different than what the manna did in the wilderness. While the manna was from God, and from heaven, it only provided temporary relief from hunger. The bread that Jesus gives, his life, gives eternal life to the world, “whoever comes to [him]…whoever believes in [him]” (v. 35).

This thought is continued a few moments later in verse 49: “Your fathers at the manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” And in an effort to speak to the eternal life that is given to those that believe in Him, he tells them that he is the bread that came down from heaven (v. 51).

The deity of Christ is again spoken of a few verses prior to 51. In verse 46, Jesus says, “not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.” Jesus later promises that any who “feed on [his] flesh, [the bread of life], and drinks [his] blood has eternal life, and [he] will raise him up on the last day” (v. 54, also v. 39, 44). Not only is Jesus from God (vv. 38, 44, 46, 50, 51), but he can do something that only God can do: provide eternal life (Rom. 6:23).

“I AM the bread of life” (v. 35). Such a simple statement yet full of profound meaning for all of those who heard these words spoken from the mouth of our Lord, and those who have the ability to read them in their Bible today. When John wrote his Gospel he almost always has a discourse go along with a miracle, and with this first “I AM” statement, his readers are able to sit on that mountain with the multitude and partake in the temporary solution to a temporary problem. John’s readers are also able to stand in the crowd as Jesus is peppered with questions and are given opportunity to see how it was God who provided the manna, not Moses. The readers of John’s Gospel are able to witness “Jesus…making clear his heavenly origin and the fact that he alone supplies the spiritual need of his hearers”.[5] Finally, as a part of the audience of John, his readers are given an incredible truth: if they believe in Christ, if they eat of the bread he gives, he “has eternal life, and [Jesus] will raise him up on the last day” (v. 54).

Footnotes:

  • [1] Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 300.
  • [2] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 269.
  • [3] Ibid.
  • [4] Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. DChattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 63.
  • [5] Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 111.

Bibliography

Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991.

Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002.

Photo Credits:

Article header photo credit: The Feeding of the Five Thousand by Hendrik de Clerck (no date). http://www.catholictradition.org/Eucharist/hidden-treasure5d.htm

Bibliography Photo Credit: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Bibliography.html

Creative Commons LicenseThe Significance of the Bread of Life by Aaron M. Aiken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://aaronaiken.wordpress.com/use-policy/.

Marriage and Divorce


La Demande en Mariage If there are two doctrines that are taught clearly in the Bible it is marriage and divorce. If there is one doctrine that is most confused, either on purpose or accident, it is, most specifically, the doctrine of divorce. Just as Jesus met the question of divorce head-on in Matthew 19:1-9 so shall we do here.

Download a PDF version of this article

PDF Version

The biblical teaching on marriage is simple: “It is not good that the man should be alone…therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:18, 24).  Marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman in a union that was created by God, and completed by the couple becoming “one flesh.” Once married, the role of the wife is primarily “to be mother of sons…[as well as] manag[er of] the Household” and the role of the husband is primarily to “provide for his wife and family.”[1] The main limitation of marriage is that it is an exclusive relationship, meaning that promiscuity and adultery are “ruled out.”[2] Also, indissolubility is only allowed when certain conditions are present. The Bible is clear that “what therefore God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

In Genesis 2:24 one can see that God views a couple married when the man leaves his mother and father (a new primary relationship/responsibility), the couple is joined together (a covenant with one another and God), and finally, join their two bodies together to create a complete whole, “one flesh.” There is one distinct way that this biblical view stands out from common practice today: becoming “one flesh” is solely intended for the marriage relationship, not any other relationship(s) (1 Cor. 6:16).

The Bible is clear about divorce as well: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). God abhors divorce and does not encourage it. “A marriage is intended to be a relationship, healing and growing and maturing through time, a ‘harvest of the Spirit,’ which is patterned on and in turn displays something of God’s covenant relationship.”[3] A marriage union is not meant to be severed.

Although divorce is discouraged in the Bible, it is allowed under certain circumstances. The only grounds for divorce (or release from the marriage covenant, in the case of death) that are mentioned in the New Testament are “sexual immorality” (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9), death (Rom. 7:2), and if an unbeliever in the relationship wishes to leave (1 Cor. 7:15).  This differs from what is witnessed in our current society. Money is a large, but decreasing, reason for divorce, as are emotional factors[4]; neither of which are biblical reasons for divorce.

The main objection to the view this author stands by (above) is that divorce is not biblically allowed under any circumstances (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). A second objection goes to the opposite extreme and says that a divorce can take place for any reason (Deuteronomy 24:1). This author stands by his interpretation of scripture (shown above) and believes that in the case of “sexual immorality,” death, or an unbeliever leaving the marriage, divorce is permitted to take place.

The topic of divorce may raise questions concerning remarriage. Specifically, is remarriage allowed? Yes. If a spouse dies, the living spouse is permitted to marry again without committing adultery (Romans 7:3). Also, if a divorce takes place due to “sexual immorality” then an individual is free to remarry due to the first marriage covenant being severed. That being said, if there is even the slightest chance of reconciliation to the first marriage, a second marriage should not take place. “Remarriage always falls under the cloud of the broken covenant of the first marriage.”[5]

When divorce happens in the church and society, it harms the immediate family as well as society. Ultimately what is at play in divorce is love and sin. A marriage starts with love, and sin enters into the relationship to destroy it. Giving sin the victory (divorce) may lead those in the church and society to believe that God will stop loving them as a result of their sin. This is not the case, but there is no doubt that divorce, if allowed to happen, will not just affect how individuals view one another, but also how individuals view God.

God created the union of a man and a woman in the marriage covenant as a means to complete the incomplete. He did not make man to be alone (Gen. 2:18) and when one enters into marriage they are able to experience a relationship that is unlike any other relationship on earth.

Footnotes:

  • [1] Perkin, H.W. “Marriage, Marriage Customs in Bible Times.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 742.
  • [2] Granberg, L.I and Root, J.R. “Marriage, Theology of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 743.
  • [3] Atkinson, D.J. “Divorce.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 347.
  • [4] “The State of our Unions.” ed. Wilcox, W. Bradford. (Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage Project, 2009), 45.
  • [5] Atkinson, D.J. “Remarriage.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 1007.

BibliographyAtkinson, D.J. “Divorce.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 345.    Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Atkinson, D.J. “Remarriage.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 1007. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Granberg, L.I and Root, J.R. “Marriage, Theology of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 743. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Perkin, H.W. “Marriage, Marriage Customs in Bible Times.” in Evangelical Dictionary of    Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 740. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

“The State of our Unions.” ed. Wilcox, W. Bradford. Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage     Project, 2009. http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/pdfs/Union_11_25_09.pdf     (accessed September 16, 2011).

Photo Credits:

Article header Photo Credit: “La Demande En Mariage [The Marriage Proposal]”
http://www.topart168.com/showpic.asp?id=5795

Bibliography Photo Credit: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Bibliography.html

Creative Commons License
Marriage and Divorce by Aaron M. Aiken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.aaronaiken.wordpress.com/use-policy.

Introduction to the Academic Papers


Studying at Starbucks with my Moleskine Notebook and Pelikan M200 Fountain PenBeginning tomorrow the first “academic” paper is going to be published (read this post if you are clueless). This is not the first ever written, or the first that I wrote, but the first here (just to be clear). Before it publishes I want to let you know about a few things that you may want to take advantage of.

First, most of my papers are filled with references to Scripture. Lots and lots of references, in an effort to demonstrate that what I write is not based solely on my words, but God’s. That being said, not every verse is going to be explained, in the context of the paper or the verse it-self, so you will want to make sure to have a Bible nearby so that you can reference it easily. If you are a geek like me I recommend the YouVersion app (available in your browser and on your mobile device). I use the ESV most of the time, so keep that in mind as-well.

Second, in addition to having the papers published here I will also include a PDF of each article available for download. Use this as you see fit. You will have the option of downloading the file directly from the article, or from the corresponding “Downloads” page of the category of the article (i.e. ‘Theology’, or ‘Church History’). Feel free to share these with friends and anyone who you feel would benefit from, or appreciate, the article. This is also an easy way to print the article if you need a hard copy.

Third, below each article will be the standard comment box. I invite you to use this after you have read the article to do one of several things, or all of them: tell me that you read it, tell me that you did or did not enjoy it, give me your view of the topic at hand, etc. These articles are not complete, per se, and I know that we will all benefit from starting a discussion based on them.

Finally, every article (and the respective PDFs) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License (follow the link for more information). Basically this means that you are free to copy and use these works, but under certain guidelines. If you need permission to use these beyond the scope of this license, you can get more information here.

As I have stated previously, I look forward to sharing my work with you. Please take advantage of the email subscription available so that you will receive the latest posts in your inbox (sign-up on the homepage), or subscribe via RSS.

Humbly,

Aaron
2 Timothy 3:16-17