Is baptism necessary?

by ozziepost 48 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • ozziepost


    G'day! I was hoping you'd get to this thread! I hope you pick up on some of the 'points' made by.....oh well, I leave it you!!


    Thanks for your comments but I don't think you've come to terms with my (perhaps obliquely) put question which of course has a point to make.

    Perhaps this will help you:

    Apocalyptic writings in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures

    About apocalyptic writings:

    "Revelation" is the final entry in the Christian Scriptures. It describes a coming period of great danger, destruction, and transition. "The apocalypse...used a symbolic or allegorical language to convey the message about the imminent End...Christian apocalypses are thoroughly frightening for the sadistic punishments inflicted on the inhabitants of hell, for the inventions of extreme torture and dismemberment. The descriptions of Heaven are scarcely less awesome, with pictures of angel servants in the Heavens, singing eternal hymns of praise to a bejeweled Lord whose face is too bright to be perceived." 1

    Apocalyptic literature has been found throughout the Middle East. The first examples of this theme is found in the ancient writings of Babylon and Persia. According to theologian and author Tom Harpur, "British orientalist Gerald Massey wrote that Revelation really a Christian version of the Mithraic apocalypse 'Bahman Yasht.' Massey says the latter has the same drama drawn out as in Revelation and that all ancient Parsee or Persian sacred books referred to the original scriptures as apocalypses." 2

    Apocalyptic literature typically includes a number of concepts:

    bulletTime is divided into 2 ages:
    bulletthe present age is ruled by Satan and his demons
    bulletthe age to come will be ruled by God.
    bulletthe transition will occur very quickly
    bulletthe end of the present age will happen in the very near future
    bulletthe transition will include wars, plagues, famine, earthquakes and other natural disasters
    bulletA general resurrection of the dead.
    bulletA final judgment.
    bulletSatan's supporters will be annihilated.
    bulletGod's supporters will enter a period of peace and happiness.

    The first suggestions of an apocalypse within the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) is found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Micah. They discussed the coming "day of Yahweh." Many dozens of apocalyptic books appeared during the period 165 BCE to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE. One well known example is the "War Scroll" found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and probably written by the Essenes. Another example is preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures as the book of Daniel.

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    Old Testament Apocalyptic Literature: The Book of Daniel

    Chapters 1 to 6 describe Daniel's interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream; the attempted execution of Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace; the handwriting on the wall of King Belshazzar's banquet hall, Daniel survival in the den of lions, and Belshazzar's feast. Chapters 7 to 12 describe a series of visions that he experienced: a dream about 4 beasts (a lion with eagles' wings, bear, leopard, and a terrible beast); a vision of a ram and goat; a prayer of confession to and trust in God, and a momentous vision of Israel's future, leading to the end of the age.

    Conservative Christians generally believe that Daniel was captured by the Babylonians circa 605 BCE, spent the rest of his life in Babylon, and wrote the book circa 540 BCE. Much conservative Christian prophecy concerning the second coming of Christ is based upon this book and in particular upon King Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's dream of 4 beasts. The four empires in both dreams refer to the Empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The Roman Empire exists in two parts. The first is the historical Roman Empire which has faded from the scene. The second phase has not yet risen to power; its foundation can be seen in the European Common Market. As we approach the year 2000 CE, many sermons by conservative Christians interpret the book of Daniel as predicting the end of the world as we know it. This book is one of the most important books in the Hebrew Scriptures to Evangelical Christians, next to Genesis.

    Liberal Christians generally believe that the book of Daniel was written by an unknown person circa 169 BCE. It was based on stories probably transmitted orally from the time of the Babylonian exile until the 2nd century BCE. The 4 beasts in Daniel's dream (Chapter 7) refer to 4 ancient civilizations:

    bulletthe lion/eagle vision is a blending of the most powerful land animal and the most powerful bird; it represented King Nebuchadnezzar's Neo-Babylonian empire.
    bulletThe bear represented the Median Empire.
    bulletThe leopard is the Persian Empire.
    bulletThe terrible beast represents the Seleucid Empire.

    Since the book was written after the rise of the final empire, the author had the advantage of hindsight; the book is a history of past events, not prophecy of the future.

    New Testament Era Apocalyptic Literature:

    Brief passages that reflect apocalyptic themes are found in:

    bulletMark 13, sometimes called the Little Apocalypse. It is also called the Olivet Prophecy, because it was delivered on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. Jesus describes the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, some 40 years in the future. This was to be preceded by many signs: the arrival of counterfeit messiahs, wars and rumors of wars. The disciples will be persecuted, Jerusalem will be devastated, a desolating sacrilege will be set up in the temple, false messiahs and prophets will perform miracles, the sun will dim, the moon will not shine, the heavens will convulse. Jesus will return to earth with his angels to collect the faithful. Heaven and earth will disappear. The author of Mark cautions his followers to be alert, because it will happen to them without warning within their lifetimes. Although this is presented as a continuous sequence of events, conservative Christians believe that the first part of the prophecy relates to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, whereas the remainder refers to Jesus' second coming in our future. This material is paralleled in Matthew 24, Luke 17:22-37, and Luke 21.
    bullet1 Corinthians 15:20-28: This passage discusses the resurrection, Jesus' return and placing all his enemies "under his feet."
    bullet2 Corinthians 5:1-3: contains a reference to the destruction of the world.
    bullet1 Thessalonians 4:15-18: contains a description of the rapture, when Jesus will return towards earth and believers will rise through the air to meet him in the sky.
    bullet2 Thessalonians 2:1-12: describes how the "day of the Lord" will come after the "man of lawlessness" is revealed and establishes himself in the temple. Jesus will return and the wicked will be destroyed.

    Many Christian Apocalypses have survived, including the Ascension of Isaiah, Apocalypse of Peter, Apocalypse of Paul, Apocalypse of Thomas, Christian Sibyllines, and Revelation. Only Revelation was accepted into the official canon. That happened only after four centuries of controversy "over its authenticity." 2

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    1. C.M. Laymon: "The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible," Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN (1991).
    2. Tom Harpur, "America obsessed with future apocalypse," The Toronto Star, 2003-OCT-5, Page F7.
  • ozziepost

    To return to topic:

    Does anyone know why John was Baptising people in the first place?


    I can't profess to 'know' as in certainty of fresh insight except for texts such as this passage from the Acts of the Apostles:

    While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

    They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

    So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?"

    "John's baptism," they replied.

    Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this they were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." (Acts 19:1-6 NIV)

    FWIW this still doesn't 'order' christians to be baptised. What we can see from the text is that in the early church's experience, baptism was performed and certainly in modern times, it's customary to perform baptism at some stage of a christian's life.

    Still, it begs the question, is baptism necessary? as in, is it necessary for salvation?

  • wombat

    Stevenyc has asked a couple of times.........

    Does anyone know why John was Baptising people in the first place?

    Interesting..I hope that someone replies...

  • GodisRight

    G'day! I was hoping you'd get to this thread! I hope you pick up on some of the 'points' made by.....oh well, I leave it you!!


    Thanks for your comments but I don't think you've come to terms with my (perhaps obliquely) put question which of course has a point to make.

    Perhaps this will help you:

    No, I have understood you. It's a given that the true meanings of the holy scriptures will be and is hidden from the majority of mankind. Did God ever intend for most people to understand the bible? Maybe not. However, i believe certain points in the bible are plain to "see" for everyone. I am not a person who has made it across the finishing line. My understanding of the bible is incomplete, but I already have seen much. I only hope I am at least near the finishing line on my death bed or by the arrival of my lord in his glory.

  • Narkissos

    OK GiR, I'll go on with the details of your post:

    " 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)" [The second resurrection starts as soon at the thousands years are up]

    The "as soon a[s]" is your interpretation. "Not until" = "not before" = "after" -- not necessarily immediately after. In the apparent scenario of Revelation 20 the releasing of Satan, the war of the nations against the holy ones and the final judgement of Satan close the millenium (v. 7-10) and occur before the general resurrection (v. 11ff).

    6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. [Notice that only blessed and holy persons have part in this resurrection. If there is a first resurrection, then there must be a second resurrection.]

    Granted in principle, although the general resurrection is not explicitly called "second".

    Who is Satan deceiving on the earth if those part of the first resurrection are in heaven and the second resurrection takes place after he is done away with?

    This is a real problem. From the extant text the answer is simply "the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog" (not "the dead of the general resurrection"). It simply appears that there are still many living people around. One plausible explanation (to me) is that Revelation actually blends two distinct stories: in the version A, 20:1-10 immediately follows on 19:10: there is no general slaughter of mankind before the millenium, so the holy ones have people to rule over during the millenium and Satan has people to mislead at the end of the millenium; in the version B, the divine slaughter of 19:11-21 is immediately followed by 20:11-12 (the general resurrection and judgement): there is neither millenium nor releasing of Satan in this version.

    Are they condemed forever to the lake of fire without a chance to prove their loyalty to God? What about people who were born blind and deaf? What about babies and children who died under the age of 10? What kind of judgement could be given in there case? Why was Satan released and allow to decieve people on the earth again?]

    The text, indeed, does not answer those questions. But nowhere in the Bible (and, afaik, in contemporary Jewish literature) is the resurrection meant to give a "chance" (whether first or second) to anybody. It is a resurrection of judgement (not of "testing") according to the dead's past "works" which are already written on the books. This doesn't require that the dead have been granted any kind of "special revelation" during their lifetime. (Cf. the separation of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, where neither of those categories knew what they were doing while helping the little ones or abstaining to do so, yet their action is the sufficient basis for judgement. Paul's idea of Gentiles being judged "without a law," except their own "conscience," Romans 2:13ff, goes in the same general direction).

    11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. [Who is them?]

    "Earth and sky". It is, literally, the "end of the world". A new world appears in chapter 21. The resurrection and judgement occurs in between.

    12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.[Notice that the judgement for "they" or "them" is PAST TENSE. "They" or "them" have already been judged! ]

    No, it's just narrative past describing the vision, as for the previous verbs ("I saw," "were opened," "was opened" are all aorists [past tense] in Greek just as "were judged" -- also the verbs in v. 11 and 13ff and most of Revelation).

    Is this the second resurrection?------> 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

    Yes (with the reservation stated above).

    [What does Jesus say?]

    Again, in principle I would not expect the scenario of John 5:28f to be exactly the same as Revelation 20, but as to your questions I can see no difference.

    The resurrection takes place before the judgement. The resurrection of judgment is compared to the resurrection of life. So these are literal resurrections.


    Does it make sense to you that a bad person is bought back to life so that God can tell him he will be thrown into the lake of fire without being given a second chance? Does that make sense? Again, what about people who never has chance to do the right thing? Give it some throught.

    See my remarks above. That may not make sense to you, but this is exactly the apocalyptic notion of "resurrection of judgement". Not to give a "chance," just to judge people on their "works," regardless of any "special revelation" to them. From this perspective, everyone can be judged on what s/he did with whatever s/he knew.

    4 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.[ As in those who were decieved by Satan after his release? Are people thrown into the lake of fire after the judgement? Once again, PAST TENSE! The judgement was taking place during the time Satan was released from his prison and decieving people on the earth.

    See above.

    You should also pay attention to the fact that those part of the first resurrection will be doing the judging Rev 20:4 ]

    In v. 4 they are just depicted as "reigning" / "ruling" during the millenium (i.e., even according to your scenario, before the general or "second" resurrection). That they may be involved in doing the judgement (which can be understood either in an active or passive way) can be gathered from other texts (Matthew 19:28 // Luke 22:30) -- with potentially different scenarii.

    In sum, I think the only serious problem in your reading is the Russellite / JW notion of resurrection as a "chance" for the dead to do what they have not done during their life. Appealing as it may be, this notion is wholly unscriptural.

  • gumby

    Hey Nark....I know this sounds rude and selfish, but since you must have spent at LEAST an hour on that post.....and since your not a witness anymore....then could I have that hour to put on my field service report? I'm kinda low this month and the C.O. is coming soon.


  • Narkissos

    Hey Gumcheater,

    You can have the return visit too.

    (Didn't take me an hour but I doubt the CO will notice.)

  • ozziepost


    Don't forget to put it in as a Bible study too!

  • gumby

    Lets see here....1 hour 1 return visit, and 1 study. Damn........thanks Narkster. You mighta just made it possible for me to become a ministerial Servant when the CO comes. He said if I got my hours up, I'd probably make it on his next trip around.......Yipppiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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