Why the commandment in Matthew 28:19 is likely unhistorical, according to a top Christian NT scholar

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Categories: Bible, Biblical scholarship, Christianity

19 replies

  1. “while certainly the risen Jesus appears in a bodily way, there has been a tremendous transformation;”

    That is a tremendous piece of creative theology.

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  2. You do realise RE Brown falsifies Islam? You guys never realise that your liberal scholarship proves too much.

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  3. Paul, great and very important find….these responses by Professor Brown is telling indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You are kidding me! Let me get this argument right. Jesus said “go and make disciples of all nations…” And the disciples wrestled with the question of gentile believers after the Pentecost. So Jesus didn’t really say all nations? O man.

    The last thing Jesus said to them (in Acts) was to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from the Holy Spirit then they would be his witnesses. First in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria (no fakestine there) then to the ends of the earth.

    At Pentecost in Acts it says there were devout men from every nation. Jews were spread out all over the empire. They obviously understood their message was to make disciples of all nations. Jews wherever they were.

    Nothing to see here folks.

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    • ‘At Pentecost in Acts it says there were devout men from every nation.- But not a single gentile. And remember Peter’s vision in Acts 10 – what was that about?

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    • Actually there were gentiles there. Noahides. Gentile believers in Judaism who havent converted. Hey Paul have you considered becoming a noahide?

      Peter’s vision was the confirmation that the gospel was also for gentiles.

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    • Clearly this was news to Peter, he had not heard this before.

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    • It shouldnt of been because he did preach at pentecost that the prophecy in Joel was fulfilled: “I will pour out my spirit on all mankind”

      But the vision confirmed that the gospel was also for gentiles. As Paul said, the gospel is given first to Jews then gentiles.

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    • In my translation (NRSV) it does not mention “all mankind”.

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  5. NIV says all people. NASV says all mankind.

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  6. Nations – G1484 – ἔθνος

    éthnos; gen. éthnous, neut. noun. A multitude, people, race, belonging and living together.

    (I) Generally in Act_8:9, the people or inhabitants of Samaria (see Act_8:5). In Act_17:26, the whole race of mankind. See also 1Pe_2:9; Sept.: 2Ch_32:7; Isa_13:4. Spoken of a flock or a swarm in Class. Gr.

    (II) In the sense of nation, people, as distinct from all others (Mat_20:25; Mar_10:42; Luk_7:5; Joh_11:48, Joh_11:50; Act_7:7; Act_10:22; Sept.: Gen_12:2; Exo_1:9; Exo_33:13; Deu_1:28).

    (III) In the Jewish sense, tá éthnē, the nations, means the Gentile nations or the Gentiles in general as spoken of all who are not Israelites and implying idolatry and ignorance of the true God, i.e., the heathen, pagan nations (Mat_4:15; Mat_10:5; Mar_10:33; Luk_2:32; Act_4:27; Act_26:17; Rom_2:14; Rom_3:29; Sept.: Neh_5:8-9; Isa_9:1; Eze_4:13; Eze_27:33, Eze_27:36; Eze_34:13; Jer_10:3).
    In the NT, éthnos generally designates a non-Jewish nation, but it is also used of the Jewish nation when referred to officially (Luk_7:5; Luk_23:2; Joh_11:48 f.; Joh_18:35; Act_10:22; Act_24:2, Act_24:10, Act_24:17; Act_26:4; Act_28:19). Also used of the Christian society (Mat_21:43; Rom_10:19). In 1Pe_2:9, Christians are called both an elect génos (G1085), race, offspring, and a holy éthnos. In Mar_7:26 and Gal_1:14, it is the word génos which is translated “nation,” but it should be race. In 1Co_10:32, Paul distinguishes three classes of people, Jews (Ioudaíoi [G2453]); Greeks (Héllēnes [G1672]), and the church of God which consists of both Gentiles and Jews.
    Two pairs of Gr. words draw a similar contrast in relation to God’s people. One is Ioudaíoi (G2453), Jews, which indicates the independence of the Jewish people, a term often used by John who wrote when the Jewish and Christian communities were separated from one another. The other word is Israḗl (G2474), Israel, which is used always with a note of affection and pride by those who count themselves as its members, sharers in the divine choice and covenant. There is a similar contrast between the words éthnos and laós (G2992), people, with the former and éthnē (the pl. in the phrase “all nations”) being used generally of political states. With the definite art. tá éthnē, the word has the special meaning “of the Gentiles” or “the non- Jewish people,” which gradually took on a bad moral meaning to the extent that ethnikoí is translated “heathen” in Gal_1:16; Gal_2:9 (cf. Mat_6:7). However, the common noun which corresponds with Israel is laós, people. It conveys the sense of God’s possession and purpose, which are symbolic of the national unity maintained by the sacrifices and observances of the Law. As éthnē sank down to the meaning of heathen, so laós was at length appropriated by the Christian consciousness. A few exceptions to the above rules should be noted. In Luk_7:5; Luk_23:2, and throughout the Gospel of John, éthnos is used in the place of laós; for, as was just stated, in the later apostolic circles the old prerogatives of Israel were claimed for the “Israel of God,” i.e., the Christians. In Luk_2:10, laós is translated as if it were éthnē. The correct translation should be to “all the people” (a.t.).
    Paul employs éthnē, the pl. of éthnos, nation, in a twofold sense, either as pagan Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom_2:14; Rom_3:29; Gal_2:8) or as Gentiles in contrast to Jewish Christians (Rom_11:13; Gal_2:12, Gal_2:14). This double usage is well illustrated by comparing Eph_3:1 with Eph_4:17. In both passages éthnē is used, but in the first it is simply a mark of nationality while in the second it has a moral touch. The word “Gentiles” is, therefore, sometimes practically equivalent to heathen (2Ki_16:3; 2Ki_21:2; Ezr_6:21; Psa_2:1, Psa_2:8; Jer_10:2). From this point of view, tá éthnē, the nations outside Israel, have no part in the covenants of promise (Eph_2:12), hence the emphasis which the NT lays upon the new order of things when the mystery of the gospel (Eph_6:19) is made known (Act_10:45; Act_11:18; Act_15:7) and until finally, the difference between Jew and Gentile having disappeared, the word éthnē (heathen) may be simply contrasted to the united Christian church made up of Jews and Gentiles (1Co_5:1; 1Co_10:20; 1Co_12:2; 1Th_4:5; 1Pe_2:12). The exclusive attitude of the Jews toward the Gentiles was such that it caused the historian Tacitus (cf. 1Th_2:15) and others to call the Jews enemies of the human race. Even to enter the house of a Gentile, and much more to eat with him, involved ceremonial uncleanness (Joh_18:28; Act_10:28; Act_11:3). For three days before and after a heathen festival, it was unlawful to transact business with Gentiles, to lend to or borrow from them, to pay money to or receive it from them. With this attitude of exclusivity, the Jews exercised a great effort at proselytism (Mat_23:15). If the Gentiles hoped to be saved in the same way as the Jews, it was expected of them to enter into salvation through Judaism, an idea that dawned very slowly upon the minds even of some of the Apostles of our Lord. There is ample evidence that this brought about a confrontation between Peter and Paul (see Gal. 2).
    Deriv.: ethnárchēs (G1481), the governor of a district; ethnikós (G1482), a heathen.

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