Oneness insight on Colossians 2:2-3

This morning, as I was doing some work in the Greek text of I Timothy 3:16 and Colossians 2:2-3, I noticed an interesting textual variant that contributes to an understanding of the Oneness of God. The New King James Version (NKJV) which, of course, follows the same Greek text as the King James Version (KJV), translates this text as follows:

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Our interest here is in the phrase “both of the Father and of Christ, in whom.” I had previously noted in the margin of my Bible that the pronoun “whom,” which in the NKJV has “the Father and of Christ” as its antecedent, is singular. This would, of course, indicate the singularity of the Father and Christ.

But the phrase καὶ πατρὸς καὶ, translated “both of the Father and” is found in the Byzantine text, which represents more recent Greek manuscripts. The phrase is not found in the earlier manuscripts. For that reason, many English translations render the latter part of Colossians 2:2 something like these:

that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ, (Col. 2:2 ASV)

the certain knowledge of the secret of God, even Christ, (Col. 2:2 BBE)

the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,
(Col. 2:2 ESV)

for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, (Col. 2:2 NAB)

They will know the mystery of God. That mystery is Christ. (Col. 2:2 NIRV)

This singular reading would certainly anticipate the singular pronoun of Colossians 2:3. There is but one mystery here, and it is the same mystery Paul had in mind in I Timothy 3:16. It is the miraculous mystery of Incarnation, God manifested in human existence in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.[archive]

I awaken to the beginning…

I awaken this morning to the beginning of my seventh year of wedded bliss to Susan, a beautiful woman of faith!

Six years ago, on September 28, 2013, we said our enthusiastic “I do’s” before Tim Dugas, Garry Tracy, and David Bernard. These three men tied the knot well, and we have not picked at it! We have pulled it tighter each day, moment by moment❤️.

I love Susan so much it almost hurts. People who see me looking at her notice my obvious affection and make interesting comments about it😊.

She is a gift from God in every dimension of life. This is not merely companionship. When someone says to us, “Well, we know everyone needs companionship,” we smile.[archive]

From Atlantic City to Indianapolis: Two UPCI General Conference Messages

In 1968, I was at the general conference of the United Pentecostal Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey to hear the classic message by general superintendent Stanley Chambers: Let’s Make History.

Research current at that time indicated that within fifty years of their founding, most religious organizations drift from their moorings. Oneness Pentecostalism was just beyond its fiftieth birthday, and Brother Chambers had just been elected as the general superintendent.

Brother Chambers’ call to retain our identity, defying other trends, has often been seen as an important stabilizing influence for us.

None of us there that night could have imagined the radical cultural shifts that would take place between 1968 and 2019. But another fifty years have slipped away. Last night our general superintendent, David K. Bernard, delivered another such message to the 2019 general conference of the United Pentecostal Church International. It was a powerful, convincing message uniquely addressing the steps we must take to retain our identity while boldly advancing the Kingdom of God. His message was titled “From Fear to Faith.”

I recommend that you do whatever you must to view or hear this message.[archive]

Our trip to Jonesboro, Arkansas.

This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Susan and I were in Jonesboro, Arkansas at the invitation of Pastor Darrell Runyan, where I taught the Oneness of God course for the Jonesboro campus of Purpose Institute. About forty students and prospective students attended the Friday evening session, with about thirty completing the Saturday session.

Purpose Institute is a training program based in local churches, offering students an educational opportunity to earn credits that can be transferred to Urshan College. Since Urshan College also offers online courses, it is possible for students to have access to significant educational opportunities by taking advantage of both Purpose Institute and the online Urshan classes. You can explore the program at purposeinstitute.com and the college at urshancollege.org.

On Sunday morning, we were in service at The Pentecostals of Jonesboro, where Brother Runyan is pastor. We enjoyed the presence of the Holy Spirit as we worshipped together, and I had the opportunity to proclaim God’s word to His people.

[archive]

Retired … but still working?

I retired from full time work at UGST on July 1, 2018. Since then I’ve been busy researching, teaching an adult Sunday school class at The Sanctuary, teaching at the French Bible Institute, teaching for Purpose Institute, doing some guest lecturing for professors David Norris and Jeffrey Brickle at UGST, writing a book on the Holy Spirit, lessons for The Discipleship Project, Word Aflame Literature, articles for Pentecostal Life magazine and Reflections, serving on a planning committee for the 2020 issues of Pentecostal Life, and on August 22, 2019, I began teaching a semester long class at UGST on the Book of Psalms.

I’m loving all of it.

Am I really retired? When some people ask what I’m doing these days, and I tell them, they seem to have a hard time believing I’m retired.

What is retirement? I don’t hunt, fish, or golf. I have nothing against those who do. But I do enjoy study, reading, writing and teaching. I treasure time with my wife, Susan. We share many of the same interests, and each day with her is a day of joy.

I think of retirement as an opportunity to set my own schedule, to focus on things I didn’t have time to do before, to continue to learn, to think, to experience spiritual growth, and to share new biblical discoveries with others.

I thank God for each moment of life He grants. I want Him to teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart to wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

Teaching for Purpose Institute at Cabot, Arkansas campus.

I have been writing literature for Word Aflame.

Susan and I enjoyed our trip to France, where I taught for one week at the French Bible Institute and preached twice for missionary John Nowacki.

The Nowackis are excellent hosts who made sure we saw beautiful French sites.

We were surprised and delighted to discover a memorial to Andrew D. Urshan in the church in Melun.

Brother Nowacki translated for me as I taught students in the French Bible Institute.

The delightful students were alert, eager to learn, and spiritually minded.

Mike Long also translated. It was a joy to make his acquaintance. Mike has the gift of hospitality, and he is an excellent writer whose guidebooks to Paris are available on Amazon.

Passing by Notre Dame.

A fine student at the French Bible Institute drove us to Paris after we finished our time in Melun. He was not only an excellent driver, he is also fluent in four languages!

The Arc de Triumph.

The Louvre … a work in progress for centuries.

We walked around a corner, and there they were … Napoleon’s Obelisk he brought back from Egypt for Josephine and, in the distance, the Eiffel Tower.

We await our dinner cruise on the Seine.

No identification needed.

Lots of lovely chocolate shops.

On the Eiffel Tower after dark.

Our hotel in Paris, viewed through the glass roof of the lobby.

A rainy day in Paris … our last full day.

At the awesome North America Youth Congress with CLC alumni, families, and a current student.

Sharing a meal with good friends Terry and Gayla Baughman during NAYC, at Landry’s in Union Station, St. Louis.

IMG_2984

On my way into the new Urshan campus to teach Studies in Psalms.[archive]

The Holy Spirit in Romans, Lesson 3

The Holy Spirit in the Book of Romans

August 25, 2019

Daniel L. Segraves, Teacher

[1] Because Christ dwells in the believer, “the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Contextually, the word “body” refers to the human body. (See Romans 8:11.) Paul’s point was that even though the human body – even of a believer – is subject to death because of the lingering effects of the sin nature, the believer still possesses eternal life through the effect of the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit imparts life to believers because the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to them. Death will be the final effect of sin, which will be destroyed in the believer’s life by the resurrection. (See I Corinthians 15:54-57.)

[2] Somewhat of a grammatical puzzle appears in Romans 8:13. The verse is made up of two first class conditional statements: “If you live according to the flesh” and “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body.” Since the first class condition asserts the reality of the condition, these statements seem self-contradictory. On the one hand, Paul seems to have assumed that his readers do indeed live according to the flesh, and on the other hand, that they do, in fact, put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit.

[3] There is no question that it is possible for a Spirit-filled believer to live according to the flesh, or after the impulses of the Adamic nature. (See Galatians 3:3; 5:16-21.) Just because believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, they do not become robots or automatons incapable of making their own choices, including sinful ones. If believers make the decision to live as if they were debtors to the Adamic nature (Romans 8:12), they will experience spiritual death (i.e., separation from fellowship with God). (See Romans 6:16, 21, 23.) On the other hand, if believers, by the power of the Holy Spirit, put to death the impulses of the unredeemed outer man (i.e., the body [see Romans 7:24; 8:23]), they will enjoy life (i.e., fellowship with God).

[4] But the question remains: How could Paul assume that his readers are at the same time living according to the flesh and putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit? The solution lies in the fact that Paul wrote to the entire congregation in Rome. The “you” is the second person plural, referring to the entire church. Some in the church were apparently living according to the flesh; others, by the Spirit, were putting to death the deeds of the body. Thus, the verse addresses the situation of each one who would read or hear this letter.

[5] According to Romans 8:14, those who are the sons of God give evidence of their sonship by being led by His Spirit. This does not mean the sons of God are characterized by sinless perfection (see I John 1:8), but that they deal with all of life – even their sins – as the Spirit of God directs. The Spirit of God leads believers to confess their sins (I John 1:7, 9; Romans 2:4). Those who are unregenerate are led by the flesh, the Adamic nature. (See Romans 6:19-20.)

[6] In Romans 8:15, we learn that when believers are born again, they do not receive “the spirit of bondage” which produces fear as it pertains to one’s relationship with God. The “spirit of bondage” is an apparent reference to the slavery to the sin nature experienced by all those who are unregenerate. (See Romans 6:17, 19-20.) It may also refer to the condition of the Jews under the law of Moses. (See Romans 7:2, 6.) The Spirit received by believers is the “Spirit of adoption,” which, instead of producing fear about one’s relationship with God, prompts the adopted child to cry out, “Abba, Father.” This is significant, for “Abba” is an Aramaic word to which the closest English equivalent is “Daddy” or “Papa.” In the Aramaic language, it was the most intimate term for one’s father. It was thought by those who spoke the Aramaic language that “abba” was the first word formed by a baby, and it thus expresses the complete, innocent reliance of babies on their fathers and the absence of any tension or fear in the relationship. (See Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6.)

[7]        Romans 8:16 indicates that the new birth occurs in the realm of the human spirit. Jesus declared to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). It is not the material part of a person that is born again, but the immaterial. The Holy Spirit, in regenerating the human spirit and restoring it to fellowship with God, gives testimony to the fact that believers are the children of God.[archive]

The Holy Spirit in the Book of Romans, Second Lesson

The Holy Spirit in the Book of Romans

August 18, 2019

Daniel L. Segraves, Teacher

[1] Before we leave our discussion of the first four verses of Romans 8, let’s notice the words “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” in Romans 8:1. They must not be taken grammatically as imposing a condition on the believer’s freedom from condemnation. They do not mean, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, as long as or providing they do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” The grammar of the second half of the sentence further describes the first half. That is, those who are in Christ Jesus are identified as those who walk according to the Spirit.  It is impossible to be in Christ Jesus and to walk according to the flesh at the same time. By virtue of the fact that believers are in Christ Jesus, they draw their life from the Spirit, not from the flesh.

[2] This does not imply that believers cannot be tempted, or that they will never sin. But it does point out that those who are genuine believers cannot surrender to life “in the flesh.” If they do sin, the Holy Spirit within them will bring conviction, not condemnation, wooing them to repentance.  (See Romans 2:5.)

[3] Those who are unregenerate and who thus “live according to the flesh” are consumed with “the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5). As Paul pointed out in Romans 6:20, those who are slaves to sin are free in regard to righteousness. But conversely, those who are regenerate, and who thus “live according to the Spirit” are consumed with “the things of the Spirit.” The “things of the flesh” involve life apart from God; the “things of the Spirit” have to do with life in fellowship with God. Believers who allow themselves to be consumed with things not having to do with fellowship with God are living as if their lives were “according to the flesh,” and if they continue this, they will be separated from fellowship with God.

[4] Some take Romans 8:5-8 to refer to believers who are not measuring up to God’s requirements. But that these verses are discussing unbelievers, and thus the unregenerate, is clear from the fact that Paul in Romans 8:9 identified as being “in the Spirit” and “not in the flesh” all those within whom the Spirit of God dwells. Those who are “in the flesh” are those in whom the Spirit of Christ does not dwell, and they thus do not belong to Him.

[5] Paul did not suggest that people are  “in the Spirit” only if and when they are living a life of sinless perfection; believers are “in the Spirit” by definition. The Spirit of God dwells within them.

[6] At this point, Paul equated the “Spirit of God” with the “Spirit of Christ.” They are the same. There is only one Spirit.  The presence of the indwelling Spirit marks a person as a Christian.

[7] The phrase “if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” is a conditional statement of the first class in the Greek text. The reality of the condition is assumed; the “if” means “since” or “because.”

[8] In Romans 8:10, Paul again used the first class condition to indicate the reality of the fact that Christ was indeed in the believers at Rome. In Romans 8:9-11, the interchangeable terms indicate that it is the same thing to say that the Spirit of God, or the Spirit of Christ, for Christ Himself dwells within a person. There is no idea here of a distinction between these terms.[archive]