What Does Luke 10:21 Mean?

In Luke 10:21, is Jesus saying you don’t have to be a doctor in Theology to understand the word of God as some religions would have us believe?

Luke 10:21 says, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” In Luke 10:17-20, Jesus had just received the seventy disciples back from the limited commission. In their work they had had a measure of success and they were making a report to Jesus concerning these things. Jesus was happy with their success and offered a prayer to God of thanksgiving in this regard. It is within this prayer of thanksgiving that Jesus speaks in which he utters the words of the verse under consideration. Jesus prayer of thanksgiving is twofold. First he gives thanks that God has hid these things from the “wise” and “understanding.” Second he gives thanks that these things have been revealed unto babes. Why does Jesus say such a thing? Is Jesus saying that “the wise” cannot understand God’s word?

During the limited commission, the disciples had gone out and preached the coming of the kingdom of God. The message that they had been instructed to preach was that men should repent (Mark 6:12) and “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). There were some who were obedient to that message and did repent. However, there were others who did not. The cities that did not repent are recorded in Luke 10:13-15 and Matthew 11:20-24. These cities were Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Jesus pronounces a “woe” upon these cities and says it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for them. These cities had rejected the message of the disciples, rejected Jesus, and rejected the one who sent Jesus, God the Father (Luke 10:16).

The towns of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida were all located in fairly close proximity to each other. History records that Capernaum was the local seat of Roman government and as such would attract commerce. The towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida were fishing villages and would have had a lot of commercial interests within them as well. The economic situation in these towns was probably good. This would mean that many of the citizens were middle to upper class, financially. Not only, however, were they blessed with prosperity of finances, but with prosperity of God’s word. They had ample opportunity to hear the word of God and accept it. Within the town of Capernaum Jesus performed mighty works (Luke 10:13). Jesus healed the centurion’s son here (Mt.8:5); here he healed the nobleman’s son (John 4:46); Peter’s mother-in-law was healed here (Mk.1:31); a paralytic man was healed here (Mt.9:1); here an unclean spirit was cast out (Mk.1:21). The evidence for Jesus being who he claimed to be was overwhelming in this particular area, yet many rejected him. Why was this? Evidently this was due to their own human “wisdom and understanding” which resulted from their self sufficiency in their economic situation. When we read Luke 10:21, we must conclude that the words “wise” and “understanding” are spoken rather sarcastically by Jesus. That is, in their own wisdom and understanding, they had no need for Jesus or the gospel because all of their needs were taken care of due to their economy. We see this today as well, particularly in wealthy areas of the country. The well-to-do are often the ones who simply, in their own minds, have no need for the gospel. Paul wrote of this in 1 Corinthians 1:26 “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” The Bible warns us concerning following after our own wisdom. Proverbs 3:7 says, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Isaiah 5:21 says, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

So looking back at the original question, I do not believe that this passage is referring to a person’s understanding of the gospel as much as it is referring to one’s acceptance of the gospel. Those who are wise in their own eyes are not going to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ because they think that they have within themselves the capacity to solve all of their problems. Whereas those who are “babes,” as Jesus calls them, acknowledge their dependence upon God to provide for their salvation and are willing to humbly submit to God’s will. Here is the difference between these two categories of people. So, to answer the question, I do not believe that Jesus is speaking directly about what it takes to understand the message of the gospel, but rather, the attitude of those who do, verses the attitude of those who don’t. In order to accept the message of the gospel, one cannot filter it through one’s own earthly wisdom; one must humbly acknowledge his or her dependence upon God as would a babe his dependence upon his mother. I do not believe that one’s worldly education is what is under consideration in this particular passage except when that worldly education causes one to be lifted up with pride and reject God’s word. So, the “wise” and “understanding” of this passage is not referring to earthly education as much as it is earthly and personal self satisfaction.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on What Does Luke 10:21 Mean?

Should the Church Give Scholarships?

Is it the work of the church to provide secular education and give money for secular education?

The primary work of the church is to serve as Christ’s bride in the grand purpose of saving souls (Luke 19:10). Within this great purpose, there is a three-fold division of work to be done. First the church must be evangelistic and reach out to those who have never obeyed the gospel of Christ (Acts 13:26). Second, the church must exhort those who are faithful (Hebrews 3:13). Third, the church must help those who are in need both within and without the church (Galatians 6:10). If the church is to spend any money on any endeavor, it must fall within one of these three categories. It may directly fall into one of these categories, such as the support of a local evangelist would fall into both categories of preaching the gospel to the lost and exhorting the faithful. It may also indirectly fall into one of these categories. In order for the evangelist to preach the gospel he needs various devices to assist him such as pencils, paper, notebooks, copiers, etc. These are authorized indirectly as matters of expediency. So where in these three categories would secular education fall? Let us look at who has the primary responsibility for secular education and then see if it falls within any of these categories.

First, the Bible says, “be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). To get wise in secular things one must study secular ways and that implies secular education. It is, therefore, prudent for an individual to obtain some sort of secular education. Second, we note that secular education is necessary today to support one’s self and one’s family. While one may find work today without a secular education, the odds are increasingly against it. The Bible teaches that we ought to work to be able to support ourselves (2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12), our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and those in need (Ephesians 4:28). So, secular education is thus directly related to personal improvement and family support. This places the primary responsibility for secular education with the family. The question we must ask at this point is can the church provide financial support to families?

If the church can give money for food, clothing, shelter and other things to families who are in need, then the church may definitely provide for secular education to aid such families to provide for their own future. In fact, to perpetuate familial dependence upon the church by denying families the very things that they need to support themselves would be counterproductive to the work and mission of the church. Providing for secular education helps those members to become independent. Once independence is achieved the members will, in turn, provide for the needs of the church. In so doing, the perpetual cycle of interdependent care and support goes forward. Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Inasmuch as this passage authorizes us to help those individuals who need food or clothing, whether within or without the church, it also authorizes us to help individuals find ways to provide for themselves as well. Thus, providing for someone’s secular education is within the scope of our responsibility to do good to all men.

Let me state one word of caution in this regard. The primary responsibility of the church is to work toward the salvation of men’s souls. Helping individuals with their physical needs should motivate individuals to want to learn more about God’s word and therein is the connection between this particular work and the primary responsibility of the church. If the cause of providing for an individual’s needs becomes the primary responsibility of the church, whether it is providing food, clothing, shelter, money, education, or whatever, then the church has failed to fulfill the mission with which she is charged by Jesus. We need to be careful to do good works, yes, but to maintain the primary mission with which the church is charged. To a large degree, this is the responsibility of the eldership as they decide the works in which the church is to be involved.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Should the Church Give Scholarships?

What is the “One Baptism” of Ephesians 4:5?

What is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5?

As you know, there are several different kinds of baptisms discussed within the New Testament. Matthew 3:11 mentions three: baptism of water, baptism of the Holy Spirit, and baptism of fire. John the baptizer says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” There are also several baptisms mentioned under the Old Covenant. These are referred to in Hebrews 9:10 where it says “divers washings.” The word “washings” is translated from the Greek word baptizo. This is probably something similar to what the Pharisees practiced as mentioned in Mark 7:4 and Luke 11:38 where the verb “wash” is also translated from the same word. Matthew 20:22 also speaks of a different kind of baptism–a baptism of sufferings. Finally, we come to Acts 8:38 and we see Phillip taking the Ethiopian down into the water and baptizing him based upon the confession of Christ. So we have at least six different ways in which the word is used in the New Testament. There is baptism 1) in water of John, 2) of the Holy Spirit, 3) of Fire, 4) Washing, 5) of Suffering, and 6) In water of Christ. Which one is the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5?

The context of Ephesians 4 is religious. So first and foremost it must be speaking of a holy baptism, not a common one. This eliminates #4 above. That is, the “one baptism” of which Paul speaks is not the common baptism of washing plates and cups before you eat out of them. Paul is clearly discussing a holy baptism, given the context of his discussion.

Second, Paul does not indicate that baptism should be taken in any way here other than some kind of literal baptism. In other words, the context does not indicate that the one baptism that Paul is discussing is a baptism of suffering or something like that. Just as there is one Lord, one Father, one faith, one hope, one Spirit, there is one baptism. Those other “ones” are pretty much referring to literal things. So the one baptism must be something equally as literal. This eliminates #5 above.

What about baptism of fire? Well, in going back to Matthew 3:11, we look at verse 12. It says, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” This does not sound like salvation to me. This sounds like condemnation. Baptism in fire is something that you don�t want. Jesus will baptize in fire those who have not obeyed his gospel at the second coming according to 2 Thessalonians 1:8. So, I am sure that this is not the baptism that Paul was discussing in Ephesians 4:5. Paul was speaking of matters that relate to salvation, not condemnation. That eliminates #3.

What about John’s baptism in water? Here was a baptism that many received in that day and age. It was in water and many thought it was related to salvation. We see this baptism in Acts 19:1-7. These twelve men in this passage were baptized with John’s baptism. But Paul tells them to be baptized with Christ’s baptism–the baptism that mentions the Holy Spirit. This is what Christ commanded in Matthew 28:18-20. He said that the disciples were to baptize “into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” John’s baptism did not do this and so they had never heard of the Holy Spirit prior to Paul. So Paul baptized them properly. From this, we know that the one baptism could not have been John’s baptism. Paul specifically dealt with this issue in regard to the Ephesians. This eliminates John’s baptism from being the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 (#1 above).

This leaves us with two different baptisms to discuss: the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and water baptism in the name of Christ. Let’s look at Holy Spirit baptism first. Note John’s statement in Matthew 4:11. He says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” John’s point is that he is MERELY baptizing in water, but the one coming after him is going to baptize with two additional elements. A) the Holy Spirit, B) fire. First, we call attention to the fact that these two baptisms are administered directly by Jesus. This is an important point. The contrast that John is setting up is that he baptizes in water, but Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire. No one but Jesus can administer these baptisms. Second, notice that the baptism of fire is limited to the chaff. Would it not make sense to say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was going to be limited as well? Third, notice that in the great commission, Jesus tells his disciples to administer baptism (Matthew 28:18-29 and Mark 16:15, 16). This baptism was to be administered to all who would believe. The baptism of the commission was baptism in the name of Christ, by water. We know this from Acts 8 and the Ethiopian Eunuch. So we have the following from Matthew 4:11:

1. John baptized in water.
2. Jesus baptizes in fire, and the Holy Spirit.
3. Only Jesus can administer the baptisms of fire and of the Holy Spirit.
4. Baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit is limited.
5. Baptism in the commission is not limited, i.e. it is for the whole world.
6. Baptism in water is the baptism of the commission.

Now, let’s turn to Acts 1:5. In this passage, Jesus says, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” The context tells us that Jesus was talking to the apostles (v.2 and 4). They were going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So we know what baptism of the Holy Spirit looks like per Acts 2:1-4. It is not water baptism. It is not baptism that is for the whole world. It was a limited baptism administered by Jesus to the apostles in Acts 2, per Jesus own words in Acts 1. There is only one other instance of Holy Spirit baptism within the New Testament and that is in Acts 10 when the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius on his household. Concerning this situation, Peter says in Acts 11:15, 16, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” So Cornelius was baptized of the Holy Spirit as well. However, you will notice that in Acts 10:48 Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. They had already been baptized in the Holy Spirit, so now, in what is Peter commanding them to be baptized if not water? Well, if Holy Spirit baptism is the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5, then why was Cornelius and his house commanded to be baptized in water? We conclude from this that while Holy Spirit baptism is an involuntary baptism, water baptism is a baptism of command, that is, a voluntary one.

Now, notice the following regarding water baptism in the name of Christ.

1. It is baptism that is for all, not merely limited to some.
2. It is a baptism that can be administered by men, not only by the Lord.
3. It is baptism that all can participated in.
4. It is the baptism of the great commission.
5. It is a voluntary baptism that results from command.

Holy Spirit baptism is as follows.

1. It is a baptism that is limited to a few.
2. It is a baptism that is directly administered by Jesus, not men.
3. Only those who Jesus personally selected participated in it.
4. It is not the baptism of the great commission.
5. It is not a voluntary, but an involuntary baptism and thereby, not a baptism of command.

Now which baptism would the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 be? It wouldn’t be limited because Paul cites it as a unifying factor for all believers. It wouldn’t be directly administered by Jesus because Paul says that this is part of our endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It wouldn’t be based upon who Jesus personally selects, because the unity of the Spirit is for all Christians. It would be the baptism of the great commission because that is the authority under which Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians. It would be a baptism that was voluntary because the context says that we must endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit and this throws the whole discussion into the area of voluntary obedience. It has to be a baptism that is a uniting factor for the church and so all must have been able to participate in it. Now what is the baptism that fits this context? It must be water baptism in the name of Christ.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , | Comments Off on What is the “One Baptism” of Ephesians 4:5?