Thursday, October 11, 2007

Proof-Text Perversions: 1 Corinthians 12:13 (part two)

We started an article on the exegetical fallacies of 1 Corinthians 12:13 that have resulted in the invention of a universal, invisible, mystical church.

More Words, Phrases, and Clauses of 1 Corinthians 12:13

"By One Spirit"

I saved this one for later for at least two reasons: first, it isn’t that important in determining the teaching of this text, and, second, it is a little more controversial mainly among local only proponents. Scripture can mean only one thing, but sometimes there are two interpretations that might both fit the context and neither change the doctrine of the passage, so both are feasible. I believe that someone can argue contextually and grammatically for two different views here. At the end, I’ll tell you what I prefer. In both cases, the positions are sometimes guided by one’s understanding of the preservation of Scripture. I believe God preserved His Words in the languages in which they were written and that the KJV is an accurate translation of those Words. Others place a higher degree of importance on the exact Words of the English of the King James. I don’t want to get into a KJV discussion right now, but I give that as some background information.

Universal Church People and "By One Spirit"

Before we look at the two possible views of "by one Spirit," we will consider how the universal church people take this. They take views sometimes significantly different. W. Harold Mare in Expositor’s Bible Commentary writes (p. 264):
The church, the invisible church, . . . . has been united by the one Spirit into one spiritual body in baptism.
Bob Deffinbaugh says the same:
Our membership in Christ’s body begins at the time we are saved, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit, who baptizes us into the church by identifying us with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
In a sermon series that is found online, John MacArthur agrees too with Mare and Deffinbaugh:

Paul is saying that the same Spirit has immersed every believer in the same unity with Christ that constitutes His body. The baptism Paul is referring to is a spiritual reality that brings the believer into a vital union with Christ. The word means "to immerse." And as somebody could be immersed in water, so somebody could be immersed in the body of Christ. In other words, you are in a new environment, a new atmosphere, a new union, a new identification, a new oneness with Christ.
A little later in the same sermon, he says:

It is the fact that when you believe God, He places you into the Son by His Spirit. That is the baptizing by the Holy Spirit.
This earlier MacArthur clashes with the later MacArthur commentary, in which he says that it isn’t the Holy Spirit doing the baptizing, but Jesus that is doing the baptizing. This is major, because it is a decision about Who is doing the baptizing, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. In his commentary (p. 312), he says:
Because believers are baptized by Christ, it is therefore best to translate this phrase as "with one Spirit." It is not the Holy Spirit’s baptism but Christ’s baptism with the Holy Spirit that give us new life and places us into the Body when we trust in Christ.
So now MacArthur says that we are baptized by Christ. He didn't announce his change that I have ever heard. You see Christ baptizing in the verse, don’t you? You don’t? Why not? It isn’t in there. First he says that the Spirit baptizes believers in Christ, and now He says Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Does the verse say that Christ is doing the baptizing? No. But MacArthur knows that the prediction in the Gospels and Acts made by John the Baptist and Christ says that Jesus does the baptizing in Spirit baptism. Therefore, even though 1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn’t say that we are baptized by Christ (Christ baptism), he reads that into the text. This is the same thing that Gordon Fee does in his commentary on 1 Corinthians (p. 606, NIC-NT Commentary). The baptism by Christ into the body of Christ is read into the verse to attempt to fit what we see in 1 Corinthians 12:13 with what we read in the Gospels and Acts.

Most universal church advocates say that Spirit baptism or Christ baptism, or whatever it is exactly to them, is the reception of the Holy Spirit and they will often reference Romans 8:9. I believe Romans 8:9 is the best verse in Scripture on the indwelling Holy Spirit. They therefore bring together the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the same activity of the Spirit. No verse in Scripture actually teaches this and you won’t find it in Romans 8:9, which simply says that the Spirit of God dwells in believers.

Local Church People and "By One Spirit"

One large segment of local church people teach that the Holy Spirit is one agency of water baptism. They teach that the Holy Spirit is responsible for the unity that occurs from water baptism. Forest Keener explains it this way:
It has been argued by some, who realized the error of the Catholic interpretation, that the Spirit here was "a spirit of unity," and should be translated spirit not Spirit. Such a conclusion is not necessary, and I do not believe it is either accurate or logically justified. The Spirit here is the Spirit of the context. He is the Spirit who, according to verse 3, leads one to confess Christ, in verse 4 bestows diversities of gifts, and in verse 7 manifests Himself for the overall profit of the church. He is the same Spirit who, in verse 8, gives the word of wisdom to one and the word of knowledge to another, and who in verses 9 and 10, gives gifts of faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers tongues, and interpretation. He is the same Spirit who, in verse 11, sovereignly divides gifts to men, individually as it pleases Him. It is, by every contextual standard of interpretation the "Spirit" of the context and thus, the Holy Spirit who is mentioned here.
Then there is the position explained by A. W. Pink:

Pneuma is always written in the Greek with a small "s," and it is a question of exposition and interpretation, not of translation in any wise, whether a small "s" or a capital "S" is to be used in each instance where the word for spirit is used. In many instances it is translated with a small "s"—spirit, (Matthew 5:3, etc). In others, where the Holy Spirit of God is referred to a capital is rightly employed. Furthermore, the Greek word pneuma is used not only to denote sometimes the Holy Spirit of God, and at others the spirit of man (as contra-distinguished from his soul and body), but is also employed psychologically; we read of ‘the spirit (pneuma) of meekness’ (1 Cor. 4:21), and of ‘the spirit (pneuma) of cowardice,’ (2 Tim. 1:7,) etc. Again in Philippians 1:27, we read ‘stand fast is one spirit.’ Note that in Philippians 1:27 even the translators of the A. V. have used only a small "s" for ‘spirit—as they most certainly ought to have done in 1 Corinthians 12:13. One other point concerning the Greek: the preposition translated ‘by’ in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is ‘en,’ which is translated in the N. T. ‘among’ 114 times, ‘by’ 142, ‘with’ 139, ‘in’ 1863
times. Comment is needless. ‘In one spirit were we all baptized’ should be the rendering of 1 Corinthians 12:13. The ‘baptism’ here is not Holy Spirit baptism at all, but water baptism. Note: Whenever we read of ‘baptism’ in the N. T without anything in the verse or context which expressly describes it, (as in Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5, etc.), it is always water baptism which is in view.
B. H. Carroll and Thomas Strouse agree with this view. They believe that "by one Spirit" should be understood as "in one spirit." Why? This exact Greek phrase is translated that way in Philippians 1:27 and means a "spirit of unity," which is the idea is being communicated in this context. As Pink says above, "in" is the vastly predominant translation of the Greek preposition en. The noun pneuma can be translated "spirit" or "Spirit" depending only upon the context. Since I believe in original language preservation, I can understand "by one Spirit" as "in one spirit," and that is what I believe. Strouse, who uses only the King James Version and believes in the perfect preservation of Scripture, writes concerning this phrase:

Paul employed the expression "by one Spirit" (en heni pneumati) in Phil. 1:27 as "in one spirit," referring to "the spirit of unity." Since pneumati is anarthrous in I Cor. 12:13, Paul differentiated pneumati ("spirit") from the seven previous articular references to "the Spirit" (to pneumati) as deity.
Water baptism identifies a believer with one body of Christ. The baptism brings the believer, whether bond or free, Greek or Jew, into identification with one church.

16 comments:

Fresh Dirt said...

Once again, i must say wow! I have never seen two sides of an argument that both so misuse the scriptures. Everyone is playing language games that pervert the intended message of Paul. This is unfortunate for it distracts us from the spiritual formation that the text wants to do in our lives. When I read 1 Corinthians 12, I am both excited and sad. i am excited at the promise of God that his body can do so many amazing things together. I am saddened because the body is often so divided by our petty arguments and immorality.
I urge both parties here to move on, to stop talking about this theoretical who-ha and begin applying the scriptures to real life.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Fresh Dirt,

How could studying what the words mean distract from the intention of the text? That doesn't make sense. We get the message from the words, so if we know what they mean, we'll know what the message is. It's obvious that Paul wants these people to work together, which we will be getting into later in this series, as we deal specifically with the context of 1 Cor. 12:13.

Fresh Dirt said...

It is a problem of our modernistic era. We have been influenced by a society submerged/immersed in the scientific method. We have this idea that if something is analyzed, diced, and split into its various parts that we can understand it better. This is in many ways morbid. If I were to splice open a human being and begin digging around and divide this person into his/her respective parts, we would discover much, but we would never be able to see this individual alive and in action. So too with scripture. We often splice and dice to discover its parts, but by doing so we kill it and are unable to see it alive and inspiring.
I don't want to suggest that word studies always do this, but I often see this being done. 1 Corinthians 12 is a beautiful tapestry that is truly inspiring. When we begin a discussion about "we", it seems that we lose our view of this tapestry. Just my opinion of course.

Anvil said...

If baptism brings one into identity with a single local church, does this mean that anyone joining your church must be baptized there before joining, even if they have previously been baptized in a church of like faith?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anvil,

I like your question. I would hope, however, that we could start with what the passage is saying. Baptism brings us into association with his body, whichever one we happen to be baptized into. The point of the passage, to get into Fresh Dirt's "tapestry" (what's with the curtains :-D), is to show that a church is supposed to be one, one bread, unified, together, not having schisms, despite the diversity---Jew, Greek, bond, free. He uses baptism to indicate this.

It's like Michael Sattler wrote in the Schleitheim Confession in 1527: All those who wish to break one bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ, and all who wish to drink of one drink as a remembrance of the shed blood of Christ, shall be united beforehand by baptism in one body of Christ which is the church of God and whose Head is Christ.

William D said...

I'm sorry, but this explanation of "of one Spirit" makes no sense to me... I may not be the sharpest knife in the kitchen...do you have the laymen's version?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bro. William,

Respectfully, there is not "of one Spirit" in 1 Cor. 12:13. It is translated "by one Spirit." I have taken the position that en heni pneumati is "in one spirit" like what we see in Philippians 1:27 one of the two other places where this Greek construction is found. We are water baptized into the local church in a spirit (human spirit) of unity.

The other possibility is that the Holy Spirit is some agency of the water baptism, leading a believer into union with the body through water baptism.

It isn't possible that this is Spirit baptism for the reasons I explained in the four blogs so far.

William D said...

thanks, I'll read on...

Michael Rains said...

Kent,

In this article you quoted A.W. Pink who states: "Pneuma is always written in the Greek with a small "s," and it is a question of exposition and interpretation, not of translation in any wise, whether a small "s" or a capital "S" is to be used in each instance where the word for spirit is used."

I have not done and exhaustive study of the word 'pneuma' in the N.T., but just off hand I don't agree with that statement. Notice Pink uses the word "always" in regards to 'pneuma' starting with a small 's' in the Greek. I am looking here at my Trinitarian Bible Society T.R. in I Cor. 12 (verses 4, 8, 11 and 13) and I see at least four times in the Greek where 'Pneuma' starts with a capital 'Pi'. Also in that same chapter other forms of 'Pneuma' begin with a capital 'Pi'. That means in English we should use a capital 'S', which is what we find in our KJV.

I also have before me a copy of Scrivner's 1894 Greek N.T. and it has 'Pneuma' and its various forms with a capital 'Pi' in I Corinthians 12.

Here is a problem I see, to support your position you quote a man (A.W. Pink) who says 'Pneuma' in the Greek is always written with a small 's', when as far as I can see that is untrue. I cited my T.R. and Scrivner's Greek N.T. as evidence. Did you check to see if Pink words were true before you quoted him? It seems you are basing your interpretation of I Cor. 12:13 on misguided facts.

Another problem I see is somewhat related. In your blog on Dec. 22, 2007 you state, "Our position is that God promised to preserve the very Words and Letters of the original manuscripts." In your blog on January 1, 2008 about the war on certainty you state the following in various spots, "God's Word says that God will preserve His Word, every and all (Psalm 12:6, 7; Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Matthew 5:18; 24:35). I believe God would preserve every One of His Words...... God promised and so we believe that He overcame the work of Satan and preserved His Words so that we would have a settled text that is perfect in fulfillment of His promises. The textus receptus of the NT and the Hebrew Masoretic of the OT are the only texts that could have been preserved and available. They are the only texts that believers will claim perfection."

In those articles you are arguing for perfection for the T.R down to the very letters. Perfection means without one mistake, without one small error or deviation from the originals or else how could it be perfect. If my copy of the T.R. and Scrivner's 1894 edition have a capital 'Pi' for 'en heni Pneumati' in I Cor. 12:13 then that is what God put there. Quoting men like Pink, Carroll, Strouse, etc. who think it should be a small 's' or 'pi' does not override (or correct) God's perfectly preserved Greek.

In Part 2 of your series on I Cor. 12:13 (Oct. 11, 2007) you state, "Since I believe in original language preservation, I can understand "by one Spirit" as "in one spirit," and that is what I believe." If you believe in perfect preservation how can you change "Spirit" to "spirit" or in Greek "Pneuma" to "pneuma" in I Cor. 12:13? By changing the capital "S" to a small "s" it seems you are saying the T.R. is wrong and if it is wrong it is not perfectly preserved.

Just a few thoughts that come to mind after reading some of your material.

Michael Rains.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Michael,

Pink is simply informing people of what one would see in the Greek text. Most English readers don't know Greek, so they would wonder why we would not know whether it was "Spirit" or "spirit." That is a contextual decision that someone must make in translation. My position has been that "in one spirit" is a spirit of unity.

All of the Greek editions are the same in giving pneuma the small pi to begin the word, including the places where it is obviously the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, respectfully, for all you have written here, it doesn't affect the doctrine of perfect preservation at all. I hope you are happy about that.

Michael Rains said...

Kent,

Maybe your Greek T.R. is different than mine but my T.R. has a capital Pi for Pneuma and Pneumati in I Corinthians 12:13 as well as many other places in that chapter.

Also my copy of Scrivner's 1894 Greek N.T. has a capital Pi for Pneuma and Pneumati in that same verse.

Let us know if your copies of those Greek editions have a small or capital Pi in I Cor. 12:13. Maybe we could say some Greek editions put a small pi in I Cor. 12:13 but certainly not ALL.

Does your copy of the T.R. have a capital Pi for Pneumati and Pneuma in I Cor.12:13???

Michael Rains.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Michael,

I get where you are headed with this. I hope you have read absolutely everything on here that I have written on the subject. That will help you in a 'gotcha' situation.

Yes, the Scrivener's capitalizes Pi in Pneuma. On the other hand, Beza 1598 and Stephanus 1550 do not. So when I was talking about TR editions, that's what I was saying. Yes, technically Scrivener's is a TR edition and Scrivener capitalizes the Pi. I think that is a good argument, just like I told Thomas Ross.

Scrivener prints a TR edition that fits the TR with the King James Translation. That's why I most often say I believe a Beza 1598/Scrivener's position. I'm not opposed to a position that says that every letter is Scriveners. However, I would understand that Scrivener copied his text mainly from Beza's 1598, which didn't capitalize it. Scrivener's Annotated Greek NT shows the differences between Beza and his copy. This does not argue against a perfect preservation position. I can't talk more because its a late and I need to take off right now.

We can talk more about it if you wish, but my position is based upon Scriptural presuppositions and I don't differ than Scrivener essentially. In other words, Scrivener knew that he was capitalizing Pneuma based upon the KJV translation.

Michael Rains said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

I had a couple other questions after reading these articles -- hope you don't mind. The one about the capitalization of "Pneuma" in our modern TR was briefly discussed above.

Maybe you have dealt with the following matter and I haven't seen it, but another thing I wanted to ask about is the dates of the writing of 1 Corinthians and Philippians. I checked about four sources and all agree that Philippians was written about 5 or 6 years after 1 Corinthians.

Your whole interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is based on Philippians 1:27 and its use of "en heni pneumati". The Corinthians believers would not have been reading Paul's letter for the first time and come to 1 Cor. 12:13 and said, "I wonder what he meant by en heni pneumati in this verse" and then answer by saying, "oh, in Philippians 1:27 Paul uses that phrase to refer to the spirit of unity" because they didn't even have the book of Philippians.

I think one of the important rules of Bible interpretation is that a passage can not mean today what it did not mean to the original readers.

Even if Philippians and 1 Cor. were written within a year of each other it would take time for copies to circulate among other churches making it (at least in my view) next to impossible that the Corinthians believers would interpret 1 Cor. 12:13 the way you are saying (the spirit of unity).

Maybe in thinking about 'en heni Pneumati' in 1 Cor. 12:13 it would be helpful to translate "en" as "with" instead of "by" or "in". You quote Pink who says "en" in 1 Cor. 12:13 should be "in" just because that is the most common translation for "en". On the other hand you point out that Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33 and Acts 1:5 teach us about baptism WITH the Spirit. In those verses "en" is translated "with" and you don't seem to mind that "en" is not translated "in". If "with" is okay in those five verses wouldn't it be okay in 1 Cor. 12:13?? Then it would read "For with one Spirit...." and would be consistent with those five verses you mentioned as teaching baptism WITH the Spirit.

Michael Rains.

Michael Rains said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

I'm still looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the dating of Philippians and I Corinthians in regards to using to using Philippians 1:27 to interpret I Cor. 12:13.

Maybe you dealt with this matter in another blog and could direct me to it.

Thanks, Michael Rains.

Michael Rains said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

In regards to the dating of Philippians and I Corinthians do you think that Bible teachers are way off on their dating Philippians about 5 or 6 years after I Corinthians?? Do you find that other reliable Bible teachers say that Philippians was written before I Corinthians??
or
Do you feel that the dating of N.T. books has no relevance for our interpretation of Biblical passages today??

Let's just say that Philippians was written about 5 or 6 years after I Corinthians like many Bible teachers say, do you then think that would negate your interpretation of "en heni pneumati" in I Corinthians 12:13 because the Corinthian believers would not have interpreted that phrase based on Philippians 1:27?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Michael Rains.

Thomas Ross said...

Pastor Brandenburg wrote:

Then there is the position explained by A. W. Pink:

Pneuma is always written in the Greek with a small "s," and it is a question of exposition and interpretation, not of translation in any wise, whether a small "s" or a capital "S" is to be used in each instance where the word for spirit is used. In many instances it is translated with a small "s"—spirit, (Matthew 5:3, etc). In others, where the Holy Spirit of God is referred to a capital is rightly employed. Furthermore, the Greek word pneuma is used not only to denote sometimes the Holy Spirit of God, and at others the spirit of man (as contra-distinguished from his soul and body), but is also employed psychologically; we read of ‘the spirit (pneuma) of meekness’ (1 Cor. 4:21), and of ‘the spirit (pneuma) of cowardice,’ (2 Tim. 1:7,) etc. Again in Philippians 1:27, we read ‘stand fast is one spirit.’ Note that in Philippians 1:27 even the translators of the A. V. have used only a small "s" for ‘spirit—as they most certainly ought to have done in 1 Corinthians 12:13. One other point concerning the Greek: the preposition translated ‘by’ in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is ‘en,’ which is translated in the N. T. ‘among’ 114 times, ‘by’ 142, ‘with’ 139, ‘in’ 1863
times. Comment is needless. ‘In one spirit were we all baptized’ should be the rendering of 1 Corinthians 12:13. The ‘baptism’ here is not Holy Spirit baptism at all, but water baptism. Note: Whenever we read of ‘baptism’ in the N. T without anything in the verse or context which expressly describes it, (as in Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5, etc.), it is always water baptism which is in view.

B. H. Carroll and Thomas Strouse agree with this view.


Please note that “then there is the position explained by A. W. Pink . . . B. H. Carroll and Thomas Strouse agree with this view” must be either clarified or modified. It is not accurate to affirm that Pink, B. H. Carroll, and Thomas Strouse all take the same position as Pastor Brandenburg on 1 Cor 12:13. Carroll does not agree with the quote from Pink on 1 Cor 12:13. He thought 1 Cor 12:13 referred to the Holy Spirit and it was not water baptism. Arthur Pink was universal church. One can get the complete works of both Carroll and Pink on CD from AGES Digital library and see what these men say. My remarks will be verified. The only two people who take exactly the same exegetical and doctrinal position from 1 Cor 12:13, of those cited, are Pastor Brandenburg and his former teacher, Dr. Thomas Strouse.

Furthermore, the specific quote from Pink was not found when I searched the entire works of Pink on my computer. There is no original source listed on the blog. Could you let me know the source of the quote?

Furthermore, in part five of “proof-text perversions,” Pastor Brandenburg stated:
B. H. Carroll wrote:

[T]his verse has no reference whatsoever to either the Holy Spirit or Holy Spirit baptism. Paul was writing to saved persons, members of the Corinthian church who had been baptized into that church, which is the only scriptural way of entrance into any sound church.

I could not find this quote when I searched the works of Carroll. What I did find was him affirming that 1 Corinthians 12:13 was about the Holy Spirit and was not water baptism. Could I have the reference for Carroll’s quote as well? The link posted for Carroll was a sermon by someone else, Davis Huckabee, so that must not have been what was intented with the Carroll quote.


Thanks for the sources. I actually wanted to use the Pink quote for something, but I couldn't find it when I searched his writings.