Friday, November 15, 2013

Ephesians 2:20, Jews and Gentiles and "St. Paul saying the exact opposite of what John MacArthur is claiming"

Helpful post  from Morgan Guyton, "How I read the Bible differently than John MacArthur".

If only we read everything in Ephesians and Romans through the grid of Jew/Gentile unity, we'd have a lot less eisegesis, verse-itis and hermeneuwars/Pneumatic drills.

....Here is how MacArthur cites Ephesians 2:20 in his interview:
When did the gifts cease? One important passage that helps answer that question is Ephesians 2:20, which explains that apostles and New Testament prophets were the “foundation” upon which the church was being built. Before the canon of Scripture was complete, that foundation was still being laid through the apostles and prophets, and through the miraculous and revelatory gifts that accompanied and authenticated their ministries. But once the foundation was laid, those offices and gifts passed away. To follow Paul’s metaphor, the foundation is not something that is rebuilt at every phase of construction. It is laid only once.
It is true that Paul talks about a “foundation” of the prophets and apostles in Ephesians 2:20 (though he doesn’t mention spiritual gifts or give any commentary about their purpose). The question is what purpose does Paul’s metaphor serve. Is Paul making the argument that MacArthur is using him for? In the image Paul is creating, is the important thing about the “foundation” the fact that no impurities should be mixed with it? Is Paul concerned with setting boundaries for the canon? Or has this concern been anachronistically projected onto a metaphor with a very different purpose?
If we look at Ephesians 2:19-22, it gives us enough context to consider the image as a whole:
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This section of Paul’s letter is addressed to the Gentiles who had been excluded from the Jewish community prior to Christ’s coming. He is saying that they are now members of the same household and even part of the structure of the temple of God. The purpose of describing the foundation of the apostles and prophets is to say that the Gentiles are part of the same building as they are. So Paul is attributing to them an incredible honor: to become the Holy Spirit’s dwelling-place along with the apostles and prophets. It is amazingly ironic that John MacArthur chose this passage as a proof-text for cessationism because Paul is saying the exact opposite of what MacArthur is claiming!
If God’s temple were built according to John MacArthur’s specifications, it would be a concrete slab of foundation without anything on top of it. Can a foundation with no walls or roof become a dwelling-place for God’s Spirit? Paul seems to be saying pretty plainly here that the temple needs to include the Gentiles who had been foreigners and strangers in order to be a complete building. The most straightforward interpretation of Paul’s metaphor is that the church is a temple which continues to be built.... 
-Morgan Guyton, "How I read the Bible differently than John MacArthur".

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