Jul 17

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In our quest to understand the New Testament, we have come face to face with the thought, the teaching, the New Testament does not mean the same thing today as it did in the first century. We have posed the question: If the Faith of the first century, does not mean today what it meant then; just what does it mean today?
With the above question before us, let us call attention to Jude three, first, notice it was Jude’s desire to write of the “common salvation,” but was more needful, therefore, he had to write of something else. Something was more in need at the time Jude wrote than the “common salvation.” So, what was more needful at the time Jude wrote, than the “common salvation; it was also more needful” Jude answers our question in these words, it was needful that Jude “exhort” them that they “contend for the faith!” Two words express the greater need than the “common salvation.” This naturally brings us to the second question: What was more needful than the “common salvation?” It was that they “should earnestly contend for the faith!”
This brings us to the question under which we write: “Does the faith mean the same thing today that it did in the first century?” If not, and some are teaching that it does not, just why did Jude by the Holy Spirit write such? And, how would we teach on this verse today; seeing that it has no meaning at all? Nevertheless, Jude did write the words, that was a greater need that he write, on the “common salvation” but it was necessary that he “exhort” that they should “contend” for the faith! The word “contend” is the Greek “epagonizomai” and means “to struggle for: – earnestly contend for.” (Strong). They were to take to the heart these words!
Now, this naturally brings to the next words from the pen of Jude; as he wrote: for what they were to “earnestly contend” for. He used the following word “for the faith.” What brought “the faith” to the forefront? It was “once delivered.” The word “once” is most interesting. It is the same Greek word as the Hebrew writer used in referring to the death of Jesus. The words are: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The word “once” here is the same as in Jude three. It is the Greek “hapax”, and it means “one (or a single) time.” It is once for all time! Jesus died once for all time never to die a second time. This is the point of Jude, when he used the Greek “hapax” in the context of “the faith:” as it was once for all time delivered unto the saint!
If the words of the New Testament were to change in meaning during the next generation; it would appear that it is a total waste of time and effort, to “contend” as “the faith” would change and mean something different during their lifetime!
Now we turn our attention to another text which put the words “the New Testament does not mean today what it did in the first century,” on the run! Text comes from Romans, where Paul wrote: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). If the meaning of the words are continually changing from one generation to the next, we have only a short time to “catch” those who are so identified in Paul’s words; “cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine.” Did it jump out at you, “what would be “offences contrary to the doctrine;” if it is continually changing!
If the teaching that the New Testament does not mean now, what it meant in the first half of the first century; just what does it mean? How would we know if it has changed. Who is to tell us that a change has taken place? Where did they get their authority? It must be that some man did it, but where did he get his authority!

Frank R. Williams

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