LEAVING THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS #8
JOHN’S BAPTISM AND THE FUTURE KINGDOM -II
BASIC TEXT: “Therefore leaving the [first, Heb. 5:12] principles of the doctrine of Christ, ... Of the doctrine of baptisms” (Hebrews 6:1, 2, KJV)
Did John’s baptism put one into the Kingdom? Was John in the Kingdom? Why does Jesus say that the Law was until John?
Surely we cannot over-emphasize that the Law of Moses (OT) continued in force without interruption until the cross (Matthew 27:51). I have seen too many modern teachings affected by confusion over this truth. John the Baptist and Jesus both preached and practiced obedience to the Mosaic Law. For example, during Jesus’ last week’s ministry, He commended the widow’s 2 mites at the Temple (Mark 12:41; Luke 21:3) and condemned the abusing of the existing Temple (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45). John’s ministry was the preparation for the coming Kingdom and not the actual establishment of the Kingdom.
Both Jesus and John taught that the Kingdom was only near (Luke 10:9). The New Testament was taught by Jesus to the crowds in parables and not with direct statements. “And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples” (Mark 4:33,34). “His disciples” were the ones (especially the twelve) accompanying Jesus the three years as pupils of the master teacher. Robertson’s Word Pictures explains this as “To his own (idioisG2398) disciples (mathētēsG3101, ‘pupils’) in private, in distinction from the mass of the people Jesus was in the habit (imperfect tense, epeluenG1956) of disclosing, revealing, all things (pantaG3956) in plain language without the parabolic form used before the crowds.”
Jesus even told His designated apostles that like the crowds (Mark 4) they were also not “ableG1410” to receiveG941 some of His teachings (John 16:12) of the Kingdom. It took a few years for them even with guidance from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to finally appreciate that the nations (Gentiles) were to be included in fellowship (Colossians 2; Ephesians 2; Acts 10, 11). The Kingdom was near but not yet present while John prepared the people for it and its King.
The Kingdom Meant The Reign. It is hard for some to accept the fact that John was not in the Kingdom. “The Kingdom”, says John, “is coming”; it is near. “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdomG932 of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). “KingdomG932” means, according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, ‘literally “royalty” and abstractly “reign.”’ Jesus did not begin His reign upon David’s throne as prophesied in 2 Samuel 7:16 until He sat down at the right hand of the Father, as it is recorded in Acts 2 (i.e., after His resurrection). Peter there declares, “Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne, He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ” (Acts 2:30, 31a).
Jesus taught his disciples to pray to the Father, “We pray that your kingdom will come” (future, Matthew 6:10, ERV). Other versions have, “Let your Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10, BBE, Bishops, Darby, GW, ISV + LEB[“may”], TS2009, WEB, WNT). This is soliciting the Father to send the Kingdom. If John or Jesus had already established the Kingdom, then that prayer would not only be superfluous, it would not be of faith.
Indeed, Jesus points out that although John prepared the road for Jesus and His Kingdom, John himself nevertheless was not in the kingdom. As Jesus says, “he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). Robertson’s Word Pictures (Matt. 11:11) explains that Jesus’ use of the superlative “least” in Koine asserts that John, although the greater one relative to the OT prophets that prophesied of him, did not yet enjoy the privileges that others in the Kingdom that he heralded and prepared the people for.i
“The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel [good news] of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16). Jesus did not say that the Law terminated at John’s teaching as some denominations teach. The word “untilG2193” as used here is, according to Strong, does not require termination but is “a conjugation, preposition and adverb of continuance, until (of time and place): - even (until, unto)” in the context. There is a Greek terminus “until” μεχρίςG3360 that would have been used if termination was meant. An example of the μεχρίςG3360 terminating word is in Matthew 13:30 where Jesus speaks of the end harvest of judgment.
Rather than terminate the Law, Jesus continues in the next verse in Luke (v. 17) to say that not one tittle of the Law (of Moses-OT) would fail; its parallel passage in Matthew 5:18 adds that the Law must continue until all is fulfilled. If the Law had already been done away with at the beginning of John’s preaching, how could Jesus say that? John’s preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom was actually a part of the fulfilment of the Law and Prophets. The people in seeing John, Jesus declares, had seen more than just one among the OT prophets. “For all the prophets and the law prophesied untilG2193 John ” (Matthew 11:13). John is the “Elijah” foreseen in the Prophets and the Law (Matthew 11:14).
THROW OUT THE LIFELINE
iI quote this portion of comments from Robertson’s Word Pictures; however, Robinson did not appreciate the point that he has just made because he proceeds with his denomination’s position which states that John started the church.